5/10/06

The Battle for Blüdhaven - DC (2006)



OK, I have a confession to make:

I have no idea where Blüdhaven is supposed to be. For a while, there, I was keeping up with the DC version of North America pretty well. I can still point to Gotham, Metropolis, Star City and Coast City (old and new) on a map. I'm a B-student of made-up geography.

I haven't really kept up with the Big Events in either mainstream universe. All the Crises and Wars have pretty much passed me by. I vaguely remember a reference to Blüdhaven a few years back in one of the Batman-related books but for all I knew it was a Swedish death-metal band.

Like many of the One Year Later issues, this issue does a decent job of catching me up on the past 52 weeks of story. It also tells me most of what I need to know about Blüdhaven. Well, except for why anyone would name an American city after something scrawled on the back of a 14-year-old boy's math notebook.

Blüdhaven is a pretty crappy place to live and all the government-sanctioned superheroes, radioactive freaks and that enormous wall haven't made things any better.

The characterizations are good and the dialogue manages to avoid being pure infodump which is nice. I almost always like Jimmy Palmiotti's writing (espeically in the last couple of years) and he and Justin Gray work well together. The art by Dan Jurgens and Palmiotti is well-executed and I've gotta give props to Javi Montes for the colors on this. They are appropriately dark without getting muddy. They really help convey how creepy and depressing this place is.

I'll pick up #2 to see where they're going with this. They're bound to mention it in relation to some other city at some point and then I can stick a pin in my mental DC map.

EDIT: A Google search reveals that Blüdhaven is next to Gotham City but has an even higher crime rate. That makes sense. Gotham is so fucked up that any town near it would have to call itself "Blüdhaven" just to keep from getting swallowed up by the weirdness that is Gotham.

The umlaut is for respect.

5/8/06

A quick note, bub

I really like beer

I've been re-reading some X-Men stories lately and one thing stands out:

No matter who the creative team, the Fastball Special comes up a lot.

A whole lot.

To the extent that it's not really that "special" anymore, is it?

BEAST: "Pardon me, Logan, could you pass me that beer?"

WOLVERINE: "Sure thing, fuzzy." [grabs beer] "Colossus! Fastball Special!"

BEAST: @#$%!!

In which I bitch about free stuff I didn't get

Insert witty alt text here

Free Comic Book Day has come and gone but most of you already knew that. Seriously, if you're reading my blog for "the latest in comics news" you are horribly, horribly misguided.

This year was really disappointing. Turns out that none of the comic stores in Nashville received any of the Silver Sponsor List comics. Those were the ones I was most looking forward to. Particularly Owly. Dammit! I loves me some Owly! I mean, shit, look at him:

Better than a nice tub of good things

I rest my case.

I picked up one each of the Gold offerings and so far, I've been pretty disappointed. The Runaways/X-Men book was horribly written and had the least appropriate art I've seen in months. It also had a bunch of other stuff from titles Marvel wants to push crammed in there. Image attempted to give readers a taste of their titles by chopping, like, a million of them up and giving us a tenth of a panel from each one with which to decide whether we want to spend our money on the full issues. I think they would have been better off giving us an actual full issue.

Tokyopop didn't just give us one full issue they gave us three! In a digest-sized book. And they were all good. Especially Kat and Mouse. I'm going to keep an eye out for that Manga.

The Conan story from Dark Horse was good as was the art. The Star Wars story on the other side was OK. I liked the art but the story was straight out of "Stock Badass Squad Tales vol. 3". Meh.

I haven't read the Transformers, Archie, Bongo or Donald Duck books yet but it says something about the quality of many of the others that I'm looking forward to those as breaths of fresh air.

4/8/06

Moon Knight #1 - Marvel (2006)



As I mentioned last summer, Moon Knight is a badass

I have been a huge Moon Knight fan since I first read Marvel Team-Up Annual #4. This reboot of the series is off to a great start. I'm not going to go into much detail on the story elements in order to avoid some minor spoilers but I will say that I am very pleased with the direction this appears to be going.

Charlie Huston has written an excellent introduction to the character which will initiate those who are unfamiliar with Moon Knight while giving fanboys like me a lot to enjoy. Some parts of this come dangerously close to "dirtying up" the character in the same manner that Identity Crisis tried (unsuccessfully) to do with the JLA. However, I don't think Huston is going that route. Right now, it looks like he's adding depth to the character along with giving him a good point to struggle up from.

I'm not a huge fan of David Finch's art. Something about the way he draws a lot of his faces bothers me on a level I can't quite identify. He's doing a good job with Moon Knight so far, though, and I really like the level of detail he's working at. The visual star of this book is Frank D'armata, the colorist. He's working with a dark, muted palette for most of the pages which fits the mood of the comic perfectly.

I had my hopes pretty high for this one and I am not disappointed. If the upcoming Green Lantern Corps series lives up to my expectations my hold box will be a very happy place.


Now, if somebody would just bring back The Badger...

3/29/06

Blue Beetle #1 - DC (2006)



I haven't been reading any of the Infinite Crisis titles but I have been keeping up with the general events.

The cover and the creative team on Blue Beetle caught my eye enough to pick this one up. Plus, I really like the two previous incarnations of the Blue Beetle character so I thought I'd give this a shot.

I'm glad I did because Keith Giffen and John Rogers are doing a fine job with the writing and Cully Hamner is drawing the hell out of it. The design on the title character (arguably the most important visual element of the book) is spectacular. Check out the cover above. The interior art is just as good and the cool things that the Beetle armor can do are, er, cool.

There are no surprises in the story but it's well told. It's a typical kid-finds-a-doodad-and-has-to-discover-his-powers-on-the-job. It's like Iron Man meets Greatest American Hero.

The only problem I have with this first issue is that it's a bit too much of an intro issue. I would have liked more of an actual story. This feels like half of an issue. Still, this half of an issue is enough to get me to buy #2.

3/25/06

Ultimate Extinction #3 - Marvel (2006)

Get. Off. My. Leg.

I have really been enjoying Ultimate Extinction. The conflicts and resolutions between the ultimate versions of the FF, Nick Fury and Iron Man are a lot of fun to read. I'm at MidSouthCon this weekend so I don't have a lot of time to go into great detail on how much I like it but you can read my review of #2 for many of the details.

Issue #3 has a much better cover than #2 (not like that was hard) and it has me wondering if they are going to break out the Ultimate Ultimate Nullifier to destroy Gah Lak Tus.

3/19/06

The Circle is Complete

The Hurting has published a new Doom's Mailbag featuring a question by Dorian with mentions of Tegan and Mike.

The following letter is from some guy named Kevin.

3/15/06

CBDR

I hate it here


Scott from Polite Dissent is compiling a Comic Book Drug Reference which is fitting, since he's a doctor and a comics geek. Also fittingly, there's an entire appendix devoted to Transmetropolitan

Jimmy Olsen gets his own section which covers his "experimental" phase.


Snakes.  On.  A.  Stick.

3/14/06

Lazy Tuesday

Actual content is on the way now that I've picked up my metric ton of comics from the FLCS.

Until then, here's a little linkblogging action for you:

Check out this frighteningly complete list of comic-character religious affiliations in which The Atheist is outed as an atheist! You heard it here, first, folks.

The lovely and talented Dave Campbell reviews one of my favorite comic issues ever. Alpha Flight #6 is one of those comic gimmicks that worked. Kinda like the G.I. Joe Silent Issue except this one is full of pictures of polar bears eating marshmallows in a snowstorm.

Now, go buy some comics tomorrow!

Elsa commands it!

Badass!

3/6/06

I apologize in advance...

Spoiler Alert!









































.
Vroom, baby

3/5/06

Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #5(of 5) - DC (2006)



This miniseries was almost everything I hoped it would be. I thought I was a big Green Lantern fan for years but it turns out I was a big Green Lantern Corps fan.

I discovered that stories about individual GLs didn't captivate me like those of the Corps. I'm sure Hal, Kyle and John are perfectly nice fellas but during the time that the Corps didn't exist I found their tales no different from those of any other mega-powerful superhero. The structure of the Corps, however, allows many different kinds of stories to be told. Stories about camraderie, stories about duty vs. "the right thing", stories about teamwork. Stories I really like.

Fortunately, Dave Gibbons and Geoff Johns like those kinds of stories, too. It's obvious that Guy Gardner is the favorite Lantern of either or both writers because he gets to Always Be Right but that's OK, he's a good character and in their hands he shines.

This mini had epic space battles, enormous power levels and reflections on the nature of morality and belonging. Hell, issue 5 had that. Oh, by the way, if you are even a little arachnophobic, you might want to read certain panels of #5 with caution.

I am quite pleased with the overall story but I do have a few quibbles with the writing. For example, much is made of how the Corps has brought beings from all over the galaxy together to serve a Greater Purpose. Corps members who were at each other's throats in issue one were bestest buds by the end of the miniseries. I have no problem with that, in general. In fact, that can be very powerful and touching when it's well-told. The turnarounds in this case were a bit abrupt. I would have liked it better if some of those rivalries and hatreds hadn't been so neatly smoothed over.

If I have a few quibbles with the writing, I have some major problems with the art. I don't know whether to blame the penciller (Patrick Gleason) or the inker (Prentis Rollins) but there are several panels in this issue in which it is nearly impossible to tell what's going on. In a comic featuring many, many characters who all dress pretty much the same it is vital to be clear with your visuals. Also, there's a weird forshortening/distortion effect that shows up on many of the faces which throws me off.

Having bitched about that, there are some moments of artistic brilliance, especially in this last issue, but for the most part, the lines are way too heavy which obscures the differences between individual faces. There were a few points at which I had no idea who was supposed to be speaking.

Despite these shortcomings, I can recommend this miniseries to anyone who likes the GLC or who would like to get in on the ground floor of this new incarnation. Flip through a few pages first to make sure the visuals are your cup of tea.

If you missed the individual issues, the trade will be out on June 21st. The new GLC ongoing series should show up around that time, as well. No clues about the creative team on that one but I'll keep you informed as I get news. Anybody else know?

3/3/06

Nextwave #2 - Marvel (2006)



I love Nextwave like an illegitimate child who showed up on my doorstep with a suitcase full of twenty-dollar bills and porn.

Nextwave is funny.

It is also a damn good action comic.

These things are to be expected from Warren Ellis and it's nice to see them coming together in this manner. Stuart Immonen isn't just drawing this thing he's designing it! His style for this book is sort of a Bruce-Timm-Meets-Jerry-Bruckheimer thing that works really well with the mescaline trip that is the storyline.

Wade von Grawbadger's inks are spot on and enhance the pencils beautifully. The colors by Dave McCalg are vivid and over the top just like everything else about this book. Also, I will take any opportunity to type the words "Grawbadger" and "McCalg".

I am having so much fun reading this. So is Mike Sterling. If two comics bloggers agree on something it's officially a movement, you know. Perhaps we should have chosen something more earth-shaking than "I'm really enjoying this comic". Eh, we'll do better next time.

If you missed the first issue you can still pick this one up and, thanks to the Primer on the first page, catch up on the story, such as it is. Really, all you need to know is that Nextwave (led by Monica Rambeau, aka Photon, aka Capt. Marvel) is fighting Fin Fang Foom.

Yeah, this guy:



Ellis and Immonen are really kicking ass on this book. If you're the type who takes comic continuity too seriously, stay away from this one. If you like to laugh at the many quirks of this hobby of ours, check it out. It's lowbrow, violent, irreverent and hilarious. Ellis has put three of my favorite characters from Marvel's history (Captain Marvel, Boom-Boom and Machine Man) on a team together blowing lots and lots of stuff up. Also, he takes a much-deserved stab at the "Scarlet Witch goes bonkers and kills, like, everyone" storyline and then uses it as the setup for a dick joke.

Genius!

It's like The Authority mixed with a frat party.

I will now refrain from using the term "high-octane" in this review.

Damn.

A simple declaration

I am hereby declaring my desire to see Batman with a bird on his head as soon as is humanly possible.

Who's with me?



Also, dang! Check out Any Eventuality. It's a well-written, very cool comics blog that I just now found out about.

3/2/06

Welcome Melissa!! & Legion #15 (sort of)

I'm Chalk

I was gonna post about how much I am still enjoying Legion of Super-Heroes despite a few cheesy decisions on the part of Mark Waid but The Shrew Review beat me to it wth her post about issue 12 and said it better than I would have.

So, um, check out the picture from issue #15 above. You don't have to be a total Legion geek like I am to appreciate the humor in this issue but it helps. It involves dimension hopping, time travel and crossovers with many, many old-school DC titles. Good stuff. The illustrated letters column is particularly funny this time.

Also, join me in welcoming my wife, Melissa Gay, to the blog! I was going to post my review of Nextwave #2 tonight but the aforementioned wife grabbed it before I could read it. **sigh** It'll be up tomorrow.

Signs and Portents

Hi!

Hi!

I'm the Wife of Brian, "Mr. Noetic Concordance". Stretching that Julian May reference-that-only-about-five-people-will-get to the breaking point, you may just call me "Atoning Unifex". I'm atoning because I've been saying I'm going to join Noetic Concordance and post comic booky love for a long time now and am just now getting around to it. So here it is, my first post-- let's please have the rotten tomato-throwers to my right, livestock-hurlers to my left, thank you.

I just read the 50-cent Preview Edition Buckaroo Banzai comic, and I did not get my money's worth.

A quote from the "Dodging Bullets on the Comeback Trail" essay at the back pretty well summarizes what I found wrong with the comic:

"One remarkable aspect of Buckaroo's return to comic books is the degree to which the original creators of the property are involved in every step of the process. 'Rick [Richter] has been very hands on in guiding the look of the project, especially in the early days,' noted penciller Stephen Thompson. ' He okayed every design and threw in a lot of great ideas that would spark your imagination. Even though we're past the design stage, he still goes over every page and gives his two cents. Sometimes ten.'"


Yes, this book *looks* like a filmmaker (as opposed to experienced comics writers and artists) had his hands all over it. The action is disjointed from panel to panel, it's difficult to follow what's going on. The visual coherence isn't there. I found myself thinking, if this were on film, we'd be seeing the intervening frames which would help all this make sense. I found myself wishing it were a film so that I wouldn't keep having to read pages twice to figure them out.

As it turns out, there is a reason for the first few pages to feel so disjointed, which I won't spoil here, but allow me to humbly submit that it was a damn poor choice for a preview selection. Previews are supposed to make you want to buy the comic... this one made me want to avoid it.

Diehard Buckaroo Banzai fans may end up buying this book just for sheer nostalgia or fandom or whatnot, but my being a fan of well-told stories in the comics medium trumps my Buckaroo fangirl-ness. (And I am one disappointed fangirl!) The art and the story fragment in the preview-- and now that I mention it, the writing and the character interactions-- turned me off, and the tone of the essay and character dossiers at the end struck me as self-congratulatory. I may pick up the first issue despite my misgivings, just to give it a fair shake, but I think I'll be bending over backwards to do so. After reading this Preview Edition, I'm not sure how many other comics readers will do the same.

Melissa

3/1/06

Look upon my comics, ye mighty and Despair!

Spooooky Eyes

Speakeasy Comics is calling it quits which is too bad, really. The Comics Reporter has details including a link which will download a Word document with a short email from a former "unofficial" company representative, whatever that means.

I know nothing about the guy who ran the company other than reports of some bad experiences from some creators, one of whom told me of his woes first-hand during a signing at my favorite local comic shop. I liked two of their titles but didn't read any of the others which, I suppose, was part of the problem. I looked over their ads and solicits and it was obvious that this was a case of "Too Much Too Quickly".

I hope that The Gatesville Company finds another home. Their site doesn't have any news on that front, yet. The first two issues of that book were outstanding. You can find my glowing review of the first issue earlier in this blog.

Stories of hubris are always good for a refreshing splash of Schadenfreude but it sucks that a lot of creators got banged up along the way.

2/26/06

Ultimate Extinction #2 - Marvel (2006)



OK. Lousy Cover*. I mean, seriously, The Thing as depicted above looks worse than Michael Chiklis's makeup in the FF movie:



Which, as you can see, is pretty hard to do.

Despite that cover the interior art (ostensibly by the same person) kicks ass. The writing's good, too. Warren Ellis has introduced Ultimate Moondragon, Ultimate Silver Surfer and Ultimate Misty Knight. Now, those of you who have been watching the show so far know that "Ultimate" before someting usually means that that person goes up a few notches on the badass scale. Ultimate Hawkeye, for example, is someone I'd actually be intimidated by. Regular continuity (or "Earth-616" to those of us with no lives) Hawkeye often came off as a goofball. Sure, he had his cool moments but for the most part he wasn't someone that, were I a criminal, I'd be too worried about.

HAWKEYE: "Stop or I'll plug you full of arrows!"

ARCH VILLAIN: "Big deal! I've got adamantium armor! What are you gonna do? Strap Ant Man to one of them?"

Anyway, Misty Knight is one of the coolest characters Marvel ever came up with. She's an ex-cop, bounty hunter cyborg! And she dates Iron Fist. Badass! Ultimate Misty Knight hasn't met Ultimate Danny Rand yet but she is even badass-er than her counterpart in the 616. Also, since she's being written by Warren Ellis, she gets much better lines. She goes toe to toe with Ulimate Silver Surfer (cosmic badass!) and survives. Day-um!

There's a good "Revenge of the Geeks" moment between Reed Richards and Nick Fury. Ellis is playing up the whole "smart guys rule" angle very well.

The story is moving along nicely with no slow spots or padding. Gah Lak Tus (who turns out to be some sort of hive mind) is moving inexorably towards Earth and everyone who is aware of it is freaking out. Good stuff.

As I mentioned above, the interior art is good. In fact, it's excellent! Brandon Peterson (inks and pencils) does a great job of conveying the action as well as the quieter moments. He's a good fit with Ellis's writing on this book. It turns out I forgot to put this in either of my local hold boxes. This will be corrected with all due haste.

*Speaking of covers have you seen the latest Vanity Fair cover? WARNING: NOT WORK SAFE!!

Now that's the way to do a cover right!

2/18/06

Young Avengers #10 - Marvel (2006)

We are the badass squad!

I've mentioned many, many times before how much I'm enjoying Young Avengers but Heinberg continues to raise the bar. This is a good time to be a comics fan what with all the cool stuff being published and Young Avengers is my favorite thing on the shelves right now.

I won't blow the surprise at the end of the issue but I will say that it is the sort of thing that, in the hands of a lesser writer, could have been monumentally stupid. Heinberg makes it work.

The Young Avengers make a decision that seems a bit out of character for most of them but I have a feeling that it'll work itself out in the next couple of issues.

So, if you see an issue in the store flip through it and see if it's your cup of superpowers. A little knowledge of Marvel Universe history is helpful but not necessary for enjoying this book.

Issues 1 - 6 are available in a trade if you want to start at the very beginning. It is, after all, a very good place to start.

Adieu!

2/14/06

Shouting Into The Void

Hooray! New laptop! New post!

Comics-related content to follow Real Soon Now but I just wanted to say that Noetic Concordance is back and even though I haven't been posting I definitely haven't stopped reading comics. I'm really enjoying Nextwave and Young Avengers along with many other things that have come out in the past three months or so. Mr. Miracle and Frankenstein are continuing the fine Seven Soldiers tradition.

While you wait for the new stuff to show up, Noetic Concordance presents the following comparison as a public service:


Spiderman shooting a web:

Thwip, I say!  Thwip!

Dr. Strange casting a spell:

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

The official Heavy Metal Sign:

Woooooooooooooooo!!!

It's easy to get these confused.

You're welcome.