The combination of a dead laptop and a new (better) job with no opportunities to post from work have combined to kill my posting lately. Noetic Concordance will be back soon with regular posts and possibly a new member. More as it happens.
In the meantime, here's a cool picture of Zzutak from the Monsters of Jack Kirby website:
The combination of a dead laptop and a new (better) job with no opportunities to post from work have combined to kill my posting lately. Noetic Concordance will be back soon with regular posts and possibly a new member. More as it happens.
OK, if you've read any of my previous Young Avengers reviews you know what to expect. Here goes:
Man, this title just gets better and better. First off, behold that cover. Check out all its majesty! Go on, check it out.
The interior art is fine, as well. Jim Cheung started out with a bang and he has refined the look of this book with each issue. He also does some of the inking along with Dave Meikis and John Dell. That's right, Cheung draws with the strength of three men! The visual team (including Justin Ponsor on colors) really makes this book work. The style shifts slightly from sketchy to detailed according to the needs of the individual page.
As for the writing, Alan Heinberg continues to kick ass. He has surprised me many times in Young Avengers and issue #9 is no exception. Whoa, mama, is this no exception. They're gonna make a movie where Godzilla fights my sense of pleasant surprise at the Thing That Happens in this issue. I won't spoil it for you but if you're a fan of old-school Marvel (and you've liked the Young Avengers so far) you won't be disappointed in this issue.
It starts off rather formulaically with all the kids bummed that The Man is not letting them be superheroes but, like a good Joss Whedon show, it twists about a quarter of the way through and gets better and then even more betterer!
There is a Shocking Image at one point in the comic but it works for the story.
I simply can't say enough good things about this title. Flip through the first trade if you haven't seen any of the issues yet. It's well worth the money. I've said it before and I hope I get to keep on saying it:
This is what I read comics for!
OK, that last post wasn't really a review, as such. You want a review? You can't handle a review!
Zatanna has concluded and it remains my favorite of all the miniseries which make up the big Seven Soldiers of Fate megaminiseries. I have enjoyed all the others but it's going to be hard to top this one. Sometimes Grant Morrison is too cutting-edge to be clearly understood. Even then, it's usually fun to hang on and enjoy the ride. When Morrison is on, though, he's really on. With Seven Soldiers, he is super on!
Zatanna can be read on its own without the need for any of the other miniseries. As you might guess, some things will be clearer and more entertaining if you have read, say, Shining Knight but this mini holds up by itself. Morrison throws so many bizarre concepts together and he makes them work. In this issue, Zatanna goes in search of the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp. Even if you don't recognize them from the single issue which started this megaminiseries, just the coolness of the words "Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp" should suffice.
The best part of this issue is the appearance of a Golden Age magical villain. I suppose it's a spoiler to reveal his name but it's not like anyone is going to buy this comic just because he shows up. Suffice it to say that the battle between Zatanna and the enemy sorceror is the best wizards' duel I have seen in a comic book ever. Morrison goes totally metaphysical with this and I love it.
For all the great writing, this miniseries would not have had half the impact on me that it did if Ryan Sook had not been doing the art. That cover up there is his and the interiors are even better. I can't come up with a better person to have drawn this. The synergy between Sook's art and Morrison's writing makes this comic much greater than the sum of its parts. There were a couple of heartbreaking moments in this issue and both creators get the credit for them.
Now, to read Frankenstein.
Hey, I'm back to posting reviews! I just picked up UFF #25 and it's official: I'm dropping it from my hold box. I'm not fond of Mark Millar's writing so that's a strike against it, right there. When you combine the writing I don't like with Greg Land's art (which I really don't like) you get a dropped book.
It's not that Land is a bad artist, it's just that his heavy reliance on photo references turns me off. You can find examples of Land's work in so many places on the net that I'm not going to bother reproducing the cover here. I prefer to insert the cover of Fantastic Four #4 instead:
OK, if you really want to see the Land cover, it's on this page
Anyway, if you like what Millar has done with UFF so far, you'll probably like this storyline. I admit that he did do something interesting with Namor's character but it's just not what I want to read. Also, I don't like his characterizations of Reed and Sue. When Warren Ellis was writing UFF Sue was presented as much stronger and more capable than the Millar version. Ellis's Reed was far more interesting and three-dimensional. I get the feeling that Millar just sees these characters as plot modules with great hair.
Jason Rodriguez has written another excellent, helpful article in his Here's the Thing series in which he walks us through the process of creating his promotional comic.
If you are even remotely interested in doing something similar you should check this out. In fact, the entire DC Conspiracy blog is full of great information from some really cool comics pros.
Go on, check it out.
I cannot click the link for you.
at 1:23 PM
I hope everyone who is celebrating Thanksgiving had (or is having) a great one! For those who are not celebrating, I hope your Thursday was the sort of Thursday that other days want to be when they grow up.
I had a great time with my extended family over at my grandmother's house and I got a bunch more words written on my NaNoWriMo novel. I am now "really behind" instead of "abysmally behind".
Speaking of comics...Oh, wait, I wasn't. Anyway, I'm reading bits and pieces of the House of M fallout and I'm glad they actually did something with it. That something is being redundantly printed multiple times throughout the Decimation titles and I expect X-Factor to do the same thing.
However, it does have a cool cover:
at 8:15 PM
Between NaNoWriMo and prepping for my new job (which starts tomorrow) I've let my regular posting pace slip. Things will be back up to four or five times a week starting in December. I've got a few reviews I need to turn into actual posts but by the time I get them on the blog the comics they refer to will be in the 50-cent bins.
In short, I have really enjoyed the latest issues of Green Lantern Corps: Recharged and The Imaginaries. The mutant-related titles of the Decimation storyline from House of M could have been condensed into a single title because they all say the same thing. Some of them like Excalibur say it much better than others (X-Men).
Like most other blogspot users, I've had to resort to word verification in my comments sections to ward off the spammers.
Not comics related, as such, but I saw the new Harry Potter movie last night and it is, in my opinion, the best of the series so far.
Oh, and the Complete Calvin and Hobbes collection is available in the $120 - $150 range.
at 6:59 PM
James Meeley thinks that the Hulk and Godzilla should totally fight!
I agree with him. This would crack the internet in half! Seriously, those two are strong. If anyone could do some internet crackin' it'd be them.
Anyway, if you agree with James and Me (what sane person wouldn't!) get in touch with Marvel and Dark Horse and tell them to commence to writin' and drawin'.
Oh, and tell them that Eric Powell (who has worked for both companies) should draw it.
at 2:02 PM
OK, I don't usually go this direction with my commentary but the cover for JLA #121 was hard to miss during my trip to the FLCS today:
So, Black Canary is in a position where you can *ahem* really see her fishnets while Green Arrow launches shafts at her and they're IN A CAVE!!!!!
What, they couldn't work a train going through a tunnel into the painting?
I have it on good authority, though, that the cover artist has, in fact, hidden a salami somewhere in the image.
at 1:26 PM
Brian Cronin of Comics Should Be Good has been posting a series of Comic Urban Legends where he does the research to confirm or deny said rumors.
They are always entertaining and you could do a lot worse than going through the archives of the site to read past entries. The latest one, however, is my favorite yet. Mostly because it mentions Justice League Europe and Sea Monkeys
at 11:30 PM
Happy 1st anniversary to the Comic Asylum! Go, James!
If you aren't already reading his blog, check it out. It's one of my favorites.
You can start with this one in which he lists his favorite comics quotes.
I'm working on my response to his meme now. I should have a list up in the next day or two.
at 12:18 AM
I just finished reading the first three issues of Gødland back to back and I am so glad I found them at my FLCS! This'll be a short post because there's no need for me to go into detail on this. With a single sentence I can help you decide if this book is for you:
If the cover image above piques your curiosity at all, buy this book!!
At first this looks like another tongue-in-cheek homage to the crazy, acid-trip days of the sixties and seventies when Kirby was king and there was an "anything goes" attitude to the stories and plots. It is, in fact, an homage to that era but it is also so much more. It is telling a compelling story with great Kirby-raised-from-the-dead art, a great sense of humor and most importantly, intelligence.
Plus, it's got a dude whose head is floating in a jar that he wears.
Floating. In. A. Jar.
Damn, just buy these if you haven't already.
Nick Lowe had this to say at Wizard World Texas:
[T]here are plans for another Defenders series by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire.
WooHoo, says I.
I mean, just look at this cover!
Anything that produces more work like this is officially a Good Thing.
at 8:50 PM
Hey, Speakeasy's got a store!
Back when I reviewed the first issue of The Gatesville Company (see previous post for link) I encouraged you to get a copy of issue #1. If your FLCS doesn't have it or can't get it, go to the store link above and the helpful chaps at Speakeasy will be glad to trade legal tender for one or more of their fine pieces of sequential entertainment.
at 12:18 AM
Rick, the proprietor of my Friendly Local Comics Shop told me that today was his lightest shipment from Diamond in weeks and I still came home with a boatload of comics. I haven't even read everything I picked up last week!
I did manage to read Winter Men #3 which is as awesome as the two issues preceding it. Also, check out the cover:
That's a damn fine cover.
I'm going to do my best to get reviews out every couple of days but since I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year my pace is likely to slow. However, there are many comics I want to let my threes of readers know about along with a couple of special features I haven't been able to release into the wild yet. Worst case scenario: December will be chock full of content!!
Rock on, brothers and sisters!
at 10:15 PM
I really want to like this comic book but each issue makes it harder and harder. I enjoyed the first issue but the second didn't do much for me. The primary complaint I had about the comic as a whole is that Gary Erskine isn't conveying the action scenes well at all. His compositions are static. There's absolutely no sense that the people are moving. They look like they're posing for a photo comic.
Issue #3 has more action than the first two issues combined. It's one big action scene with a little dialogue thrown in as connective tissue. Which, unfortunately, means that this issue falls the flattest.
There's a scene involving a couple of helicopters which would have been very exciting if I could have figured out what the hell was going on. Same thing goes for the fight scene depicted on the cover. Flat.
Jack Cross is written to be a man of action. Literally. He sees what needs to be done and he's not afraid to do it. There is no separation between thought and action for him. That's what Warren Ellis intends to get across, anyway. He gets no help from Erskine.
Not that Ellis is completely off the hook, here. I am one hell of a Warren Ellis fanboy. He's one of the reasons I want to write comics. I want to make people feel about characters I create the way he has made me feel. However, this story and these characters haven't hooked me. It's issue 3. This story just isn't my cup of tea and the slow art simply isn't doing it any favors.
I'll pick up #4 to see how the story ends but after that I'm dropping it from my hold box.
At least Desolation Jones and Fell continue to rock.
I bought enough comics to build a house out of comics. A lot of things from my hold box came in today and I got several recent back issues I've been trying to find for a while thanks to another shop selling most of its stock to my favorite local comics emporium. For example, I picked up issues 1 - 3 of GØDLAND and the Essential Iron Fist collection. This week's haul was rather indie heavy so keep a weather eye out for many reviewings and opinionatings from Noetic Concordance Headquarters.
Tonight, however, I'm gonna read until I pass out.
EDIT: A closer scan of the comicblogland shows that I'm not the only one who bought a metric fuck-ton of pulp today. At least I'm in good company.
at 11:02 PM
I sat down to write my review of Astro City: The Dark Age and her's how it went:
"Ooh! A shiny thing!"
Fortunately, Mark Fossen of Focused Totality stepped up to the plate and wrote a great review of it.
Plus, Neil Diamond Quotes!!
at 11:36 PM
All right. You know the drill by now so I'll boil it down to its essential elements:
Get this comic. It's awesome.
Here's the awesome cover by Eric Powell:
Here's a sample of the awesome art by Roger Langridge:
See, it's awesome! I'll wrap this up with some sort of threat to a quality or object you hold dear if you don't read this comic.
In the proud tradition (1 issue so far) of Devil Dinosaur #1 we now have Where Monsters Dwell. If you read my review of Devil Dinosaur (or, gasp, picked up the comic) you know what to expect from this one. Unlike the first of these Monster-related one-shots, WMD (nice initials, there) contains three new tales by Keith Giffen, Peter David and Jeff Parker along with a spectacular cover by Eric Powell which ties them all together:
The Giffen story is my favorite (for the credits banner, alone) but they're all good reads and the art is high-quality all the way through. There's also a reprint of a classic crab-the-size-of-Montana story at the end.
The image of the splash page below does NOT do it justice! Lovern Kindzierski faithfully recreates the pointilist, four-color style and lays it over Giffen's Kirby homage bringing about a stunning combination of nostalgia and post-modernism that makes me want this Bombu cat to get his own series. Woah! I got all "comic-blog lit crit" on you there. Sorry about that. Er, check out the groovy page:
So, don't buy any of these monster comics if you're, y'know, averse to fun.
I'm out of town this weekend so I'm short on time. Therefore, in the great tradition of Haiku Movie Reviews (and others) I present my review of the latest issue of Marvel's crossover alternate-reality comics-fun-a-palooza:
So many panels
Yet only one thing happens.
Um...the cover's nice.
I got my copy of The Goon: Fancy Pants Edition last Wednesday despite the fact that it apparently doesn't hit the shelves until tomorrow. Eric Powell lives around here so I'm guessing that's why we got ours early.
I wasn't going to get it but I flipped through it and noticed that it only cost $25! Holy crap! I'm new to The Goon. The first issue of the comic I picked up was # 12 (review link) and I have been making plans to get the trades so I'll have the background.
Then this thing comes out. Wow.
It's got The Goon's story presented chronologically (including the two self-published issues) along with a soupçon of never-before-published material. This is exactly the thing I've been looking for.
I haven't read it yet (review forthcoming) but this thing is beautiful! I'm not a hardcover guy when it comes to comics but I'm glad I gave this one a second look. It's a class act right down to the endpapers. Well worth a couple of sawbucks and a fin. And, hey, the thing's even signed by Powell. Way cool.
Dave of Dave's Long Box fame is back from vacation and brings us some comic stuff and this report:
[T]wo raccoons got in a fight outside last night, and I had a hard time getting back to sleep after that. Have you ever heard raccoons fight? They fight to the death, man. It sounded like somebody was butchering a tauntaun outside my bedroom window. I broke it up, and the little fuckers scrambled up some fir trees, but I could hear them talking shit to each other in their native tongue – Hamburglar - for an hour after the fight.
at 10:53 PM
Well, here I go again, linking to a Jason Rodriguez post. If the dude would quit making so much sense I'd lay off all the links.
In this one he has some great advice for aspiring comics creators (or artists of any kind). In brief: Don't shoot yourself in the foot by spewing bile at people in the business.
No babies were harmed in the creation of this post.
at 12:02 AM
That's pretty much all I need to say in this review. You'll make up your own mind about what those elements mean to you.
However, I will go into a bit more detail:
This story takes place in a time before recorded history. When things were simpler and gods walked the earth, barely noticing the lesser creatures around them. I am, of course, referring to the Silver Age.
Powell (writing & drawing) and Tom Sniegoski (writing) knock this one out of the park. It's a silly, bombastic story with time travel, fightin' and aliens in Kirby suits. The page below has most of the artistic elements that make this book the most fun thing I've read in weeks:
As you can see above, J.D. Mettler's colors are spectacular. The page which puts it all together is best shown in a larger size than my blog can handle so I provide this link.
This issue also contains a reprint of a 1960 Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers story which features the first appearance of Xemnu who shows up in a few early Defenders issues, this one, for example. It's is a bargain at twice the price!
If the other ones in this series are this good, I'll buy the individual issues and consider picking up the inevitable trade just to loan to my friends.
The second issue of Night Mary doesn't contain as many gruesome images (and suggestions of same) as issue #1 but it's no less dark and even more frightening.
Mary Specter, the title character, enters the dream of a guy whose self esteem has been beaten into oblivion. The plot thickens as we learn a bit more about Mary's comatose mother. Also, there is something actively following Mary through dreams and it doesn't like her.
This comic is scary and disturbing in all the right ways. Rick Remender is doing a great job of building the suspense and maintaining a sense of mystery and fear.
The art by Kieron Dwyer fits the story perfectly. We get a couple of new styles in this issue to indicate the differences between dream landscapes.
If you're looking for something scary to read by candlelight this Halloween you could do a lot worse than the first two issues of Night Mary.
More people should be reading Ted Naifeh's comics. He writes and draws exciting, charming stories about interesting people doing cool things.
He's started a new miniseries called Polly and the Pirates which is about a very good, by-the-book, little girl at a boarding school who ends up on a pirate ship. This is an excellent setup issue in that it establishes the world and the characters without boring the reader with exposition. Several well-made secondary characters are introduced and I hope we see more of them in the series.
Like the Courtney Crumrin comics, this is a book that kids and adults can both enjoy. The pirates are scary to Polly but there's nothing here that will induce nightmares.
As you can see from the cover above, the art is similar to his work on Courtney Crumrin. It's cute and spooky and cool. Also like the Courtney books, the interiors are black-and-white which really fits the story and allows Naifeh to show off his abilities with shades of gray and lighting effects.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. If this looks like your cup of tea and your local purveyor of serialized, sequential entertainment devices doesn't currently have a copy, order it. It's still available.
I met Tim Kane, the artist on this book, today. He's a very cool guy. He gave me a Batman sketch and he signed my copy of the comic. So, it's a good thing I like this title. I'd hate to post a bad review after I hit it off with the artist.
Kane's work is reminiscent of Bruce Timm by way of Stuart Immonen. He can really put a page together and his figures have a great sense of motion. Most importantly, he can draw an action scene which, in a comic called Super-Crazy TNT Blast!, is essential.
Here's a sample page (it's half of a two-page splash but it gets the point across):
The writing by George Singley and Jim Mitchel is also good. The story: A badass demigod from another dimension has come to Earth to feed on super-powered beings. The more supers he eats the more powerful he gets. The only people left who have a chance to stop him are the non-powered types. So, an alliance of people along the lines of Batman, Captain America, Shang Chi and Dr. Strange are on the run from The Magnate and his demon hordes.
I'm looking forward to the next issue. Speakeasy has put some good stuff out lately. The Gatesville Company, for example. They're putting some great creative teams together over there and I'm definitely going to watch for all of these names on future projects.
Here are some brief thoughts on some comics many, many other people have reviewed elsewhere in greater detail:
Ultimate Secret #3 (of 4) - Marvel (2005)
Warren Ellis looks to be having a hell of a good time writing this. It's fun and full of badasses saying and doing badass things. It's got smart people kicking ass and weird-looking aliens. Way cool! Buy the trade!
Speaking of "weird looking", I'm going to have to find a new word to convey my thoughts on most of Tom Raney's art in this issue. I'm thinking I'll use "Muh-Heinous!". This issue was super-late so I'm assuming that means that Raney was asked to do some really fast, last-minute work but, damn, some of those faces look like they're being reflected in funhouse mirrors. Also, every time the Thing shows up he looks unspeakably goofy.
The freaky art didn't detract from the fun story, though.
Jack Cross #2 - DC (2005)
The art is much better in this issue than it was in the first one but there is a MAJOR continuity error involving a van door and the action scenes still don't have a sense of motion. The story continues and the title character shows himself to be even more fucked up than Desolation Jones.
Young Avengers #7 - Marvel (2005)
This is still my favorite monthly comic. Everything I said back in July is even more true now. The "we're superheroes but we can't tell our parents" schtick could get old real quick but Allan Heinberg makes it work. He has managed to surprise me several times during this run and this issue is no exception. I miss Jim Cheung's spectacular art but Andrea DiVito is doing a fine job.
at 12:53 AM
The first issue of this miniseries got off to a good start but #2 isn't keeping up the pace.
First off, the jokes are even broader and more on-the-nose than the ones from issue #1. Gene Ha and Alan Moore filled the pages of the original series with little comics-related sight gags and funny references. For example, during a scene involving a traffic accident, a vehicle zips by containing a bunch of Mr. Fantastic types who are all stretching their necks out of the windows. Get it? Rubberneckers!! Paul Di Filippo, on the other hand, gives us a company called "Rexcorp" led by a Scooby-Doo lookalike named "Rex Ruthor"
The humor's not all that bad, by any means, but added to the heavy-handed commentary on post 9/11 security measures it makes for a much harder read than the original.
The story Di Filippo has cooked up so far is good on its own. We don't need to be hit over the head with things from the real world. In fact, there's a mention of an event "in New York four years ago". I hope that's not a direct 9/11 reference because that's exactly the kind of thing that will knock me right out of a story. Neopolis is not the kind of place that could possibly exist in the same world as our New York. We'll see what happens but this issue has failed to realize the potential promised by the first one.
Jerry Ordway's art continues to be excellent.
The merits still outweigh the flaws. Really, something egregious will have to happen to make me not buy the next three issues. I had fun reading it, just not as much fun as I thought I would.
I thought I was a big Green Lantern fan for a while, there. Turns out I'm a big Green Lantern Corps fan. I mentioned a lot of the stuff I like about the Corps in an earlier post and the first issue of Green Lantern Corps: Recharge has quite a lot of it.
The GLC has a long history in the DC Universe and many writers over the decades have had a lot of fun telling its stories. Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons have written a great opener to this miniseries. Hal Jordan and John Stewart are staying put in Sector 2814 (Earth's sector) while Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner go to Oa to attend the reformation of the Corps.
There are some good scenes of various people across the galaxy being visited by rings and told to report to duty. I love that stuff. Everyone from surgeons to criminals to beggars is eligible for membership as long as they meet a single criterion: the ability to overcome great fear.
The three Green Lanterns on the cover (see above) are going to get some major screen time during this series and that's a good thing. Kilowog, Rayner and Guy all have different approaches and personalities which will give us some entertaining stories. We've been introduced to a few other new Lanterns (such as Soranik Natu of Korugar) who will be very interesting to watch.
The only complaint I have about this first issue is the art. The backgrounds and setting pieces are well done as are the aliens. However the humans (and human-shaped aliens such as Superman) are distorted and look quite non-human. It wasn't enough to distract me from the great writing but it really stood out the second time I read this issue. I don't know whether to blame Patrick Gleason's pencils, Christian Alamy & Prentis Rollins's inking or an unholy alliance between them all but I hope a new artistic team comes on board for the upcoming monthly Corps title.
The phrase "monthly Corps title" makes me happier than anything from the Big Two has done in a very long time.
I was late picking up my comics this week but I'll get them over the weekend. Reviews will resume soon.
I picked up a bunch of back issues at Dragon*Con and I'm planning to go all Dave's Long Box on you and review a bunch of those. First some brief impressions:
I liked Sleeper a lot more than I thought I would. I like Ruule a lot less than I expected to. The biggest surprise to me was how much fun I had reading Marvel Mangaverse. It's definitely one of those "turn off your brain" stories but I loved the take on Dr. Strange:
at 10:48 PM
The art convinced me to buy this book. This is the kind of stuff I like to see in a black-and-white comic. Tyler Walpole's panels lie somewhere between photorealistic and fantastic. It's a great style for the story as well as being just a great style on its own. Plus, the dude's name is "Tyler Walpole". Great name! If he didn't exist we would have had to invent him.
The example below shows off the art nicely but Walpole really shines when he draws the members of the secret, global conspiracy of the comic's title.
The Stronghold exists to keep one guy in the dark about his true potential and they've done a great job of it until now. Michael Grey (the aforementioned guy) moves through his life in a haze surrounded by people and things with which he feels no connection. He senses that there's something more but it is so distant that he doubts the reality of the world around him.
He's like an artist with a day job.
There's another global conspiracy led by this wicked-looking guy who moonlights as a heavy-metal album cover model. The counter conspiracy is trying to get Michael to realize his potential in order to start a big war.
The retail price is five bucks but, as the cover states, it's 48 pages long. They shoved all the ads to the back of the book which is a trend I like. Some recent comics I've read have had their narrative flow ruined by the ads all over them.
Phil Hester has written a compelling tale with very few loose ends and some tantalizing hints of Michael's backstory. The characters are engaging and the cool action scenes are cool and actiony. If "chosen one" stories are not your bag you may want to seek alternative entertainment but I like this kind of thing. It appeals to that suspicion many of us have had since we were kids that aliens planted us here and that our "real parents" will be by to get us soon so we can use our cool powers. This one's going in the hold box.
From the excellent Polite Dissent comes the Comic Book Drug Reference which is just about the coolest thing ever.
A hormone designed to suppress powerful immune systems. The Black Widow Stefanya took Medusagen so that she could get pregnant.
type: hormone, immune supressant.
comic: Black Widow mini-series (2004)
at 12:48 AM
There is mention of super powers and armored warriors in The Winter Men but the core of this tale of former Soviet cops and the Russian-American mafia (and how there's not much difference between the two) could just as easily take place in our own Brooklyn.
There's a great deal of violence, double-crossing and cynical Russian humor throughout this well-crafted story. Kris Kalenov is a tattooed, beat-to-hell guy who has been sent to America to find a kidnapped girl. There's a huge conspiracy surrounding her disappearance and issue #2 just peels back the smallest corner of it. None of the characters knows what to expect around the next corner and neither do the readers. I was surprised twice during this issue.
This is an exciting story with many layers. The art by John Paul Leon along with the colors by Dave Stewart look like they formed spontaneously from Brett Lewis's script. The characters are not drawn in great detail but each is recognizable. This adds to the "trust no one" feel of the world Kalenov moves through.
It's nice to see a smart, ruthless progagonist going up against equally smart, ruthless adversaries. Kalenov is in way over his head and I can't wait to see what the next issues bring. This will make a beautiful trade but I can't wait that long.
This is a test of the emergency moblogging system. I'm on my way to the flcs to get 5 fists of science.
Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer http://www.cingular.com
at 5:05 PM
Yeah, it's based on a video game but don't hold that against it.
Gary Whitta wraps up the story with the requisite amount of drama and action and Ted Naifeh draws the hell out of it. I can't easily describe the style other than to say it is cute and creepy at the same time. Naifeh's really good at that kind of stuff.
The cover (see above) was done by Steve Purcell who put his own stamp on the work while maintaining the look Naifeh established for the interiors (along with, I suppose, the look of the game). Click on the non-cover images on this page for examples of Naifeh's work.
The story features Death Jr. who is, in fact, Death's son. They live in the suburbs, "DJ" goes to school, his mom does the June Cleaver thing and Dad goes to work. Jr. doesn't realize that his dad does anything unusual nor does he pay much attention to the fact that he ends up hanging out with the outcasts and freaks at school.
A field trip to the museum goes bad in issue #1 when DJ's friend Pandora opens something she shouldn't. The world is in peril. Hijinks ensue.
It's a really endearing story with some cool moments and more than a few touching ones. It is also, as you might guess, very funny. The art and the way the story is told make it good for younger readers as well as for "grownups" who will get more of the references. Speaking of younger readers, there are some scary monsters and (as the title suggests) many mentions of "little-d" death alongside "big-D" Death so take that under advisement. It's all light-hearted and fun, though. No more frightening than The Addams Family TV show.
Each issue will cost you $4.99 but the covers are made of cardstock, the pages are high-quality & glossy and there are no ads. Well worth the price, says I.
Hey, kids! It's my 100th post!
Of course, that's less than a tenth of what some folks have but I've only been doing this since May.
Now, to the review:
When I reviewed the first issue of this miniseries I mentioned that there was too much telling and not enough showing. This issue does not suffer from that malady but it does make the first issue irrelevant. J. M. Dematteis is an excellent writer and the story in The Stardust Kid is a good one but he started it too early. My wife had not read issue #1 but had absolutely no trouble getting into the story. In fact, I discovered that it reads better if you start with #2. Perhaps you could pick up #1 later and consider it a prequel or something akin to the Secret Files of The Stardust Kid. The pictures are really pretty.
Which brings us to the excellent work of Mike Ploog. The comic has an excellent mix of cartoony and dark elements just as the story does. The threes of you who read Noetic Concordance regularly have probably noticed that I'm big on the art fitting the story. This does so in the best way possible.
The story involves a 12 year-old named Cody who has a not-so-imaginary friend named Paul. Paul is an ancient Faerie creature. There's all sorts of metaphor and subtext about how Cody is getting older and is about to forget childish things but I prefer to read it at face value. The conflict is provided by an even-more-ancient Faerie creature who is pissed off that all these humans have shown up and started screwing up the place. She starts turning everything into plant life.
Cody, his sister and two of their friends have to put everything back like it should be and Paul is indisposed. The story is interesting even if the narrative conceit is a bit annoying in a couple of spots. I think this would be a good title for younger readers but I'm really bad at guessing age ranges for that sort of thing. I can say that there's very little violence in the book and none of it is graphic in any way. The language is clean and the art is accessible. It's worth a flipthrough to see if you think a kid you know would enjoy it.
I don't know what Image's trade-paperback policy is but if it comes out in that form some time down the road I'd recommend getting it. However, if you run across the second issue and can't find the first you'll still be good to go.
The Infinite Crisis event isn't my cup of superheroes but I really like what Grant Morrison is doing with the Seven Soldiers of Victory megaminiseries. This is the best stuff DC (or any other comics company) has put out in years. Two of the minis wrapped up this week.
Short version: They're both awesome!!
Now for the long versions. With pictures!
The Manhattan Guardian #4 (0f 4) - DC (2005)
The Newsboy Army features heavily in this one. Morrison has an affinity for quirky, superpowered kid gangs. The Deviants from Klarion #3 are another example. There's just something about adolescent ass kickers that works. The lineup features Ali Ka-Zoom, the future Merlin of the Ghetto (nice tie-in to Zatanna, there), a millionaire dog and a hyperintelligent baby. This is the kind of craziness that really sells a book to me and Morrison makes it work.
He has created a main character I really care about. Jake Jordan is a truly good man who is just trying to do the right thing with what he's been given. The publisher of The Manhattan Guardian gives him quite a bit by making Jake the newspaper's own superhero reporter. Jake, along with the other six Soldiers of Victory, ends up facing down an invasion by the Sheeda which will be wrapped up in the bookend special issue once all of the miniseries are finished.
This is by far the strongest issue of the miniseries and it answers several of the questions asked by the first three. It also ends in a cliffhanger of the highest order. I can't wait to see what happens.
Cameron Stewart's art has been consistently good throughout the series but he really shines on the flashback sections depicting the Newsboy Army's adventures. Moose Baumann fades the colors in those sections, giving them an older feel as well as setting them apart from the present-day stuff.
A lesser writer might have overplayed the camp value of the kid gang but Morrison acheives a balance between the candy-colored innocence of the past and the harsh realities of the present.
Shining Knight #4 (0f 4) - DC (2005)
Simone Bianchi's art in this miniseries is among the best things I have ever seen in a comic book. Dave Stewart, the colorist, is to be commended, as well. Every panel of these four issues has been a pleasure to behold. The first two-page splash is so evocative it would make me want to write a comic book based on it if Morrison hadn't already done so.
Morrison's writing lives up to Bianchi's images. Pacing is one of the most important talents a writer of monthly comics can possess and Morrison is its master. The story of Sir Justin has fallen into place just slowly enough to make the reader want to see the next issue. This built up to a surprise in this final issue that I honestly did not see coming. Nice work, Grant!
Justin, the last member of Arthur's round table, has been transported to our world by magical means and must fight the evil queen who wants to take over our time/space coordinates and add them to her empire. That's her on the cover, up there. The action is well-drawn and well-written and I love it when someone nails a high-stakes "fish out of water" story.
However, the best thing to come out of this miniseries is the character of Don Vincenzo. I want this guy to show up in more series after this. He's a mafia don who is surrounded by mystical enforcers and an otherworldly consigliere. He's like John Constantie as a made man. I want Vincenzo to go over to the Infinite Crisis crossovers and whack a few people. They seem to like that sort of thing over there.
These two issues encapsulate what I like about the Seven Soldiers stories. They pull together the weirdest shit from all possible sources and arrange them into fully-realized characters who are involved in stories that work on multiple levels. This is an ambitious project which has rekindled my excitement about what is possible in the comic-book medium. I hope some of the copycats inspired by it are truly inspired.
High Concept, thy name is Smoke and Guns.
If this book were a movie its director would call Robert Rodriguez and Guy Ritchie sissies. If it were a car it would be a '68 Mustang with a flame job and a rocket launcher. If it were a radio station it would only play Big Band tunes remixed by The Prodigy and they'd have contests where you win moonshine and baseball bats with nails in them.
Smoke and Guns is all about the attitude and so is Scarlett, the main character. She's a member of the Grand Avenue Puffs, a cigarette-girl gang. Scarlett isn't content to stick to her own district so she moves about town stirring up trouble. Good thing her trigger finger is as quick as her tongue.
Kirsten Baldock (a former cigarette girl, herself) makes an excellent debut with this violent, edgy tale of a city where your life can be snuffed out as easily as the match that lights your smoke. Fabio Moon provides exactly the look this book needs. The art is sexy, funny and the kind of stylized that just clicks with an all-action story like this. Here's a good example of both the art and the action. If that doesn't intrigue you maybe "S 'n' G" (as all the cool kids will soon call it) isn't your cup of nicotine.
With lines like "(A) guy can't even look at a dame like you without losing money", the writing is smart and self-aware with nods to everything from Dashiell Hammett to Coyote Ugly to A Better Tomorrow. It's a fast-paced, self-contained story and there's not a dull moment in any of the 104 pages. If you're looking for introspective storytelling or a meditation on the human condition, seek elsewhere, bucko! Smoke and Guns is a kickass, bullet-slinging juggernaut of a story. Fork over your dough, light one up1 and hang on.
1The staff and management of Noetic Concordance do not condone the use of tobacco products or accessories nor do they advocate the use of firearms as negotiation tools
We're back from our vacation at Dragon*Con and we had so much fun (and so little sleep) that I never found time to update the blog. I'll provide more details later but the comics-related highlight of the con was attending a panel by Ted Naifeh and Eric Powell. I love both of their stuff and they had great things to say about comics in general and about the darker side of comics specifically.
I also chatted with Brian Stelfreeze of Gaijin Studios briefly. He's a great guy and a very good artist (see my earlier comments on Matador for an example of my feelings on Mr. Stelfreeze's work. I told him how much I like his art and he remembered doing a portfolio review for my wife two years ago. He asked me to pass on his compliments to her. Cool!
I also bought a bunch of $1 and 50¢ comics along with a couple of trades and way, way, WAY too many roleplaying supplements. I picked up a lot of indy titles I hadn't seen before and I'll review those along with the new Marvel/DC stuff I've grabbed lately.
Now for sleep...
at 10:53 PM
The Noetic Concordance staff is taking a much-needed vacation to Dragon*Con beginning tomorrow. I'll do my best to file some con reports but we're going to be in the Land With No Wireless Access for a couple of days. For now, we bring you this special, deluxe, encore presentation!
In the Marvel Universe every hero or villain with the title "Doctor" has an actual PhD. These guys had to do dissertations. Do you think Spiderman was ever subject to peer review? No, he just got bitten by a spider, slapped on a costume and then paraded around NYC like he owned the place. Sure, Luke Cage graduated from the School of Hard Knocks but he never had to teach a freshman chemistry class.
Here are just a few of the people who got their advanced degrees the Mighty Marvel way!
Dr. Octopus: Nuclear Physics
Dr. Druid: Psychiatry
Dr. Strange: Medicine (neurosurgeon)
Dr. Sun: Biology/Computer Science
Dr. Spectrum: Astronaut. The university which granted Joe Ledger's doctorate is in an alternate dimension. Don't get me started on the red tape involved in getting a copy of a transcript from Earth-S. Let's say physics for now.
Doc Samson: Psychiatry
Doctor Demonicus: Genetics
And the big daddy of them all:
My favorite Victor Von Doom factoid is that he was Reed Richards' roommate.
That must have been a non-stop party.
"Doom commands you to be absent from the room this evening, Richards."
"What? Have you got a hot date?"
"That is none of your concern. Your inferior intellect could not possibly conceive of the--"
"Save the histrionics, Victor. I've gotta study and all my books are here."
"Curse you, Richards. You will rue the day you crossed Doom."
"Blah, blah, blah, you said the same thing when I drank the last of your weird, imported beer."
"Latveria has the best beer in the world and that stuff is expensive to ship!
So, Doom gets horribly disfigured and blames his roommate. Forever.
Richards gets back at him by being more humble than Doom. "Oh, no, 'Dr. Fantastic' seems so haughty. Just call me Mister Fantastic."
OK, so being more humble than Doom isn't that hard but Reed could have gone with the "Doctor" monicker. I suppose he went for the more marketable superhero name.
Unlike, say, Dr. Lemuel Dorcas:
It's not really a surprise that this guy's supervillain career never took off.
I'm headed to Dragon*Con on Wednesday and I plan to pick up lots of indy comics from the fine people in the dealers' room(s). Any suggestions for stuff to look out for? There are many, many comics dealers there so back-issue recommendations are welcome as are new things.
So, help me out. This money don't spend itself!
at 11:18 PM
This issue is better than it has any right to be, following, as it does, the events of a rather bad issue. The aftermath of Brainaic 5's coup is being handled well, so far and I have no problems with any of the characterizations unlike Issue #8 where no one was adhering to their earlier, established personalities. Some of the characters do jerko-teenager stuff but that's because they're jerko-teenagers. Funny how that works.
The big story arc gets a few shoves towards its conclusion and the bad guys get a tiny bit of character development. A satisfying read. This is pleasantly surprising because I expected I'd want to drop this from my hold list after this issue. For now, it remains.
Georges Jeanty did the pencils and I don't like the way he draws faces. It's not as bad as the "everyone looks the same" work of Kevin Sharpe and Prentis Rollins from issue #8 but it's still nowhere near the bar Barry Kitson set in the first seven issues. Inks by Art Thibert (which look good) and Sno Cone did the colors.
ASIDE: Sno Cone? What the hell is up with colorists these days? (Hi-Fi design is another example. I realize that there are multiple artists working there but if Brian Miller did the colors on an issue why can't he put his name in the credits?) Back to Sno Cone: Are colorists like DJs now? Everyone's gotta have a cool handle. From now on you can call me "MC Comicraft".
This issue is nearly worth picking up for the letter column alone. It depicts Light Lass and Star Boy sitting among huge stacks of letters and attempting to answer them. It's hilarious. It was also drawn by Barry Kitson. Putting Kitson's work opposite a page full of weird-nosed mannequin people makes me miss Barry more. I hope he's back on board soon.
Hooray! Another ongoing series by Warren Ellis.
Ellis has a fascination with people who do tough jobs and the effects those jobs have on them. The title character in Desolation Jones, Ellis's other current ongoing series, was physically and psychologically changed by his time as a spook. Jack Cross hasn't been chewed up and spit out by the system yet but he's feeling the weight of his past.
Cross is brought back into the intelligence community because his special skills are needed to break the anti-interrogation training of a fellow operative. The story is good and well written even if I could see a couple of the beats coming just before they happened. That premonition comes from reading a lot of Ellis's work. He often comes back to the same motifs but the variations on them have yet to be anything but entertaining.
My only complaint about this issue is the art. Gary Erskine does a good job with the static compositions but he doesn't convey the action scenes very well. This is too bad because the action in this issue is vital to the story. The interrogation scene, which is the centerpiece of the issue, doesn't come off with the impact it should. I don't know how much of this is the artist's decision and how much came from the script but I hope the two creators on this title come to a better understanding of how to get the shootin' and hittin' across.
However, all flaws were forgotten and forgiven once I read the last page. The images there told us more about who Jack Cross is than anything before. Erskine really captures the emotion and humanity of a man who has to do inhuman things for a greater cause.
I like Fanboy Rampage. It's over there in my sidebar but I want to bring it to your attention. A few days ago I mentioned a bunch of new (to me) comic blogs I like so I thought I'd plug one that I read every day.
Fanboy Rampage is mostly about other comic sites. He grabs stuff from message boards such as the Bendis & Goeff Johns boards and he grabs news releases from companies. It's a great distillation of what's going on in ComicBlogLand. Most importantly: he reads Millarworld so you don't have to!
Check him out.
at 10:29 PM
OK, Fanboy Rampage has already linked to this interview with Klaus "The House" Janson on Comic Foundry. In fact, they even pulled the same quote I did (see below) but it directly addresses something I don't like about certain artists:
"There's a trend in comics right now that seems to work with the audience and that is a riff on being 'realistic' - using photos and such as a basis to get closer to reality. Although, personally, that just makes me absolutely vomit... I don't think that comics are about photorealism, and I tell you that if I had one wish for this medium it would be to pull back from that. I think it's the thing that's going to kill comics. Don't get me wrong, there have always been artists and comics that rely on photorealism including myself, I might add, but it's going too far. The problem is that the attempt to mimic realism in comics results in work that is very limited and constrained... Comics are not about reality, it's about reality plus."
You go, Klaus!!
I don't think that style of art will actually "kill comics" but Klaus really articulated the thing that bothers me about, say, Greg Land's art on Ultimate Fantastic Four with that last sentence. Also, it's a really good interview with one of the best inkers in the business.
Um...just to attempt to throw something remotely similar to original content into this post, check out my mention of Janson's deal with Marvel. Er, which consists of a link to a Newsarama article and a couple of cool Janson pictures. Oh, well.
at 9:48 PM
I mentioned previously that Zatanna #3 is my favorite of the Seven Soldiers miniseries. This is still true. However, Klarion has the best art. Frazer Irving is the man! I love the look of every single panel in this comic book. The penultimate page is one of the finest pieces of visual storytelling I have ever seen.
Like Zatanna, this mini really shines with this third issue (which is good since it's only got one more after that). Grant Morrison is really good at building a story brick by brick while maintaining an interesting pace. This issue is practically self-contained though it works better when you know where Klarion has been before.
The story involves a kids gang called "The Deviants" who work for a wonderfully Satannic-looking guy named Melmoth. The kids are testing Klarion to see if he's worthy to join them while a deeper story goes on just behind the scenes.
Morrison shows his ability to write many different voices in this issue. All of the characters are well-realized and the story had me excited to see what each new panel would bring. Not half as excited as I am to see what issue 4 is gonna do.
In short: Klarion #3 is what I read comics for.
This one surprised me. Pleasantly. However, "pleasant" isn't a term that you're going to find used in regards to this book very often.
Night Mary is dark, folks. Really dark. The title character has the ability to enter the dreams of others and she sees some messed up stuff in there. She assists her father, a psychaitrist, as he attempts to help his patients via dream therapy. Mary can communicate with the dreamers and she tries to help them sort out what their subconscious minds are saying.
The art is weird, sketchy and evocative, much like a dream. The style helps to soften the impact of some of the gruesome things it depicts. There are very few graphic scenes of violence or bloodshed but what's there combined with the parts that are left up to the imagination get the point across in spades. One thing I really like about the art is that the dream sequences are in brilliant color (like the cover, above) and the real world scenes are all monochrome. This fits Mary's life perfectly. She lives a dull existence except when she's riding the dreams of others.
There are hints of deeper, more sinister meanings to Mary's encounters which I hope will be fleshed out in later issues.
To sum up: It's a good story with great art but it is Not. For. Kids.
Story and Script: Rick Remender
Story and Art: Kieron Dwyer
This was a fun miniseries. The title is a reference to Emma Frost's team of "anti-New Mutants" from the '80s who were somehow cool despite the fact that their powers totally mimicked those of the New Mutants.
This miniseries really has nothing to do with the original Hellions other than the fact that they are all mutants and Emma is an authority figure to them. They are students at Xavier's school and for the most part, their powers are original and cool. Hellion (he's the one on the cover above) is a powerful telekinetic. Dust can become her namesake and gets really cool cloud effects when she moves. Wither kills anything he touches; he's the Rogue of the group without all the "y'all"s. Mercury is composed of liquid metal which allows her to do T-1000 type things.
I listed all of the powers above because they are the ones that don't knock me out of the story. The remaining two members of the team have powers that seem like Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, the writers, were just trying to come up with something different for the sake of difference. Tag is not a mutant graffiti artist. Instead, he has a form of mind control which allows him to touch someone, making the target "it". Others are compelled to run from "it". And Rockslide looks like your garden variety brick à la the Thing but (get this) he can fire his fists at you! Just like a Shogun Raider.
The story carries no surprises but it is a very nice "be careful what you wish for" cautionary tale with a slight twist. I like the bad guy a lot. It's nice to read a self-conatined story in which the conflict doesn't decide the fate of the world. I'm not going to go into details about the story because there's little I could say that wouldn't give large parts of it away. Suffice it to say, it's a good story, well told. The characters are distinct and don't fall into the stereotype trap.
The art is clean and fits well with the tone of the story. Clayton Henry did the pencils which were inked by Mark Morales and Jay Leisten. Will Quintana, the colorist, deserves special mention. He really made the panels sing whether he was muting things or zapping bright reds and oranges around.
This will make an enjoyable trade and you don't need to know any of the convoluted X-Continuity to understand it.
Paul Di Filippo and Jerry Ordway team up to bring Neopolis's finest back into print. I don't normally give number-type ratings but the best way for me to express my opinion of this first issue is to give it an 8 out of 10. "10" in this case would mean that it had the feel and quality-level of the original Top 10 series by Alan Moore and Gene Ha.
I was completely swept away by this comic. The original miniseries is by far my favorite of the America's Best titles and this one (unlike the Smax miniseries) fits perfectly in the Top Ten universe.
For those of you not familiar with the first series: Top 10 takes place in Neopolis, a city which consists entirely of superheroes. Everyone from the homeless guy outside your building to the Mayor has superpowers. The main characters of the comic are members of the city's police force. Hilarity (and every now and then gripping drama) ensues.
Ordway (the artist) nails Gene Ha's original character designs and gives them a more traditional comic-book ink job. Every page is full of little visual nods to other comics much like the first series. It's the kind of art that requires multiple viewings to see all the stuff but it doesn't distract the reader from the story at hand.
Di Filippo (the writer) has come up with a compelling story and he drops us in head first within the first few pages. There's just enough time for us to see what the cops have been up to the past five years before WHAMO! the plot lands on them like a ton of bricks. Not that a ton of bricks would hurt most of these officers.
The only complaint I have about this issue is the dialogue. For the most part it flows well but there are some moments where Di Filippo sacrifices conversational rhythm in order to make a funny reference. Phrases such as, "Scyphoza the monster Coelenterate" don't really roll off the tongue. A few of the other references are either too blatant (Namor, a "Hero or Menace" flyer with Spider-Man's face on it) or too obscure (Neptune Perkins) but there are so many of them that a couple of speedbumps can be excused. Here's a page with annotations for some of the references.
My favorite thing about comics is that sense of "I can't wait to see the next issue" I get from the really good ones. I've got that in spades with this.
Tegan of Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog fame wishes I'd update more often. I do, too. So, I'm using her Blogaround Challenge as an excuse to do just that. And check out her blog. It is teh rock.
1. I like The Comic Asylum a lot. He's just wrapped up his "10 Greatest Comic Battles Ever" series. Good stuff. It helps that I agree with him about said battles.
2. Tom Foss of the Fortress of Soliloquy (excellent name) likes Suicide Squad and still sports his "Brains Over Brawn" banner. These are good things. Mr. Foss is a mensch.
3. The Counter-Culture is a good mix of previews and comments on the comics industry.
4. Devon Sanders inhabits Seven Hells! which is another awesome name. Even more awsomer is his post about Black Manta.
5. Jason Rodriguez, an editor from Hoarse & Buggy Productions has his own blog with lots of "what it's like to be a comic-book editor" stuff in it. He's a good, engaging writer.
6. Comic Book Wife has the following tagline: "Just an ordinary comic book wife and her comic book life. Follow me through the trials of playing house with my artist hubbie." It's a good, frequently-updated blog with great content and it has a wedding picture where the dude's dressed like Thor! Thor, man! That's hardcore! He's got the hammer and everything.
7. Comics Ate My Brain has good, short reviews of the latest Wednesday offerings and it brings the funny with some longer pieces.
8. The original comics at Freak Comics such as The Adventures of Stickman are funny. You can also find some reviews and commentary on (mostly Marvel) comics. Me like.
9. Comic strips are totally The Comics Curmudgeon's bag, baby! Yeah. He's got a sense of humor and he's not afraid to use it! He'll show you. He'll show you all!!
10. Brandon Hanvey speaks the mighty name of The Geekout Blog and becomes wreathed in psychic flame which allows him to post really cool previews of stuff he's working on.
Anybody else want to try this? I found a bunch of very cool blogs. Thanks, Tegan!
at 2:11 AM
A while back I mentioned that Kevin Maguire should be the only person allowed to draw Dormammu, ever.
P.S. Defenders #1 by Giffen, DeMatteis & MaGuire has sold out.
at 11:23 PM
I thought UFF #22 was "just OK" but this image of what happens when Magneto gets down to business is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in a comic.
The link above isn't working for some people so I've got a smaller version of the picture below: