Thursday, December 30, 2004

Quick Thoughts On Comic Singles

I just received a box from the Discount Comic Book Service, nearly a month late due to them accidentally sending it to the wrong customer. Yet I still wanted to put down some quick thoughts on the single issues I received.

Iron Man #1 - I've never been that interested in Iron Man for some reason or another. Yet with Warren Ellis taking on the book, I thought it would be at least worth a look. Especially given his penchant for approaching these older concepts from a different angle then most of the comic fanboy writers tend to.

Ellis has brought a perspective to the book in one issue, that shows how the world has changed since the character's origins. With a reporter grilling Tony Stark on the history he has as an arms dealer, and what his inventions and the like have done for the world.

When first created, the idea of Tony creating weapons for our government to defeat our enemies was seen as heroic and something to be proud of. Now we live in a bit grayer of a world, and building weapons isn't seen in quite the same light as we once did.

The art by Adi Granov is really detailed, and surface level very nice to look at through most of the book. Yet I didn't care for it, because it seems very stiff in places. Giving everything a sort of unnatural almost mannequinish look to the figures and environment.

I haven't decided whether to get #2 yet or not. I liked the ideas that Ellis brought up for me to think about, but the actually mystery going on in the book, with some guy injecting himself with a drug that'll apparently make him a monster, doesn't hold my interest very much. Nor do I care enough for the characters to care what happens next.

Yet still I was glad to have read #1 and gotten some things to think about.

Witchblade #80 - I've never read Witchblade before, but the writer Ron Marz is a friend and I told him I'd give it a look.

This wasn't too bad actually, though it is sort of strange that the lead was in a coma for nearly the entire issue. Still this allowed a new character, a male cop, to be introduced and through him allow new readers be brought up to speed on just who and what this book is about.

The coloring on this book gives it the typical sort of slick, and depriving of depth look that Top Cow books have always had. The art isn't too bad though, with a decent range of facial expressions and body types. Though there is a scene at the end of the book that I sort of giggled at after the fact.

Where the lead, Sara the Witchblade, suddenly awakes from her coma and sits seemingly straight up in bed screaming. When I first looked at it I thought that it was a scene out of the movie Alien with a huge object erupting from the center of her chest. Then I saw that it was just her right breast, as she'd sat straight up and to her side instead.:)

I'm not sure if I can get past the titillating factor that will have to go into this book to follow it long term. Especially since that while TC is saying they want to change how they are looked at. Yet keep to such a uniform "house look" that keeps the books from easily being distinguished from each other.

Still this wasn't offensive yet, and I have hope that Ron can make this book something more than what it seems to be on its surface.

Blade of Kumori #1 - I haven't paid any attention to the Devil's Due/Aftermath publicity about this new line of comics. Once again only giving the book a look because people I know are working on it.

The story here is of a young woman who is the best of a long standing samurai clan, that has been in hiding since ancient times when the clan was nearly destroyed by political forces seeking change. She takes on a job of protecting a fat businessman, which leads to an exciting battle with a female assassin.

Probably not the image the creators wanted to bring up here, but the computer base drawn battle scene reminded me of the cartoon show Kim Possible and that character's battles with the female villain She Go. (right down the assassin wearing all green as the She Go character does)

Which is fun since I love that show, but probably misses on the epic danger and seriousness the creators wanted to bring out. Yet until the creators spend more time developing who these characters are, I can't really get past that cartoon level of enjoyment for the book.

Hardy Boys #1 - This is just pure fun, action adventure story that you could place in any kid's hands without being worried about its contents. Which could be both a plus and a minus.

Frank and Joe Hardy are nearly every parents dream for kids. They are incredibly smart and active in their community. They pick the shy, over weight kids first when picking teams for basketball in school, they never quarrel with each other and even go to bed with no argument when their mom tells them to.

They are so sweet and good that I couldn't help but roll my eyes a bit at the whole thing at times.

Yet that's also a plus because the innocence of it all keeps things light. So that the dangerous stuff they do, awesomely drawn by Lea Hernandez, makes you excited but not truly fearful of the ramifications of what could happen as the two chase after a runaway horse or tackle mysterious "men in black" agents.

Making this a fun read for me, despite my usual jaded nature. I can hardly wait to see what happens in part two now!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Looking Back At The Year in Comics

It has been an interesting year here both personally and professionally, yet looking back at the year in comics the things that stood out to me most (or if you will, what I remember) were:

CrossGen Comics Bankruptcy - I was a big booster of CG in their initial startup, having made friends there when I won a trip to visit their HQ in their first months. I thought they had some interesting marketing ideas, and they seemed to be making great strides in getting their books in peoples hands in different formats.

Yet for various reasons- mismanagement of funds, running off of high quality talent, over expansion, and a product that just didn't appeal to the current audience - the company went under in a wash of controversy that left many creators owed money they'll likely never see.

Manga Continues To Expand - Some expected this to be the year the manga "fad" would finally end. Yet the opposite has happened, with expansions from Tokyopop and Viz and major book publishers like Random House throwing their hats in the ring.

Even the usually looked at comic dinosaurs like DC Comics, has seen the potential that lies within it, and launched their own line of manga. Which has been a very mixed bag so far, but at least they are finally opening their eyes to what could be the future.

Badgirls, Events and Gimmicks Return - Artists once thought of in derogatory terms such as the "Image Comics style" of big breasts and blood. Take that style to the typically thought of family oriented superheroes, and sales rise astronomically.

Explicitly violent death and dismemberment, of female characters especially, brings in audiences and attention from both in and outside the comic world.

While gimmicks like multiple and/or exclusive covers, rare editions and the like last seen at the height of speculator boom. Make their return in attempts to make more money by selling the same product to the same people.

On smaller, more personal notes:

Blogging is cool - Whether reading others or writing on my own, blogging has become a means to organize my thoughts, as well as get honest opinions on the things happening across the comic world.

Finding Cool Stuff - I found plenty of cool stuff this year like Rachel Nabors's Webcomics, Tania Del Rio's Sabrina run, Craig Thompson's Carnet De Voyage, Maria's Wedding, Busiek and Immonen's Superman: Secret Identity, Complete Peanuts, Othello, and Hikaru No Go.

Manga Love Deepens - I was pleased to find manga last year, if for nothing else but an alternative to the tired retelling of decades old stories from the big two American comic companies.

This year the expansion has allowed me more choices. Instead of reading to only have something different, I now find books from multiple genres that truly interest me in their quality.

Also a plus, is that for the first time in a long time my tastes seem to coincide with what is truly popular in a field. After feeling like an outsider, seeing book after book that I truly like not find its audience. Finding things I truly enjoy, and seeing that many other people do as well has been a great feeling.

My resolution for next year? Actually do more writing, rather than link to others news stories and the like.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Christmas in Connecticut

Thanks to Johanna for the recommendation of this movie, as it was a lot of fun! It makes me a little sad too, because so few actors today are just so interesting and talented as those here. Very few of today's actors make you forget them as actors, and believe in the characters.

These do and I'll make sure to watch it again next year.

BTW, yes I am still a superhero geek I guess.:) All the Ms. Lane's got me thinking, how much the portrayal here is how I've often liked Lois Lane to act. Very smart and independent, but can be quirky and find herself in situations she didn't for see. Yet that she usually finds a way out of.

Sigh I'm sad I know.:)

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far. I'm spending time with family and friends here, as well as taking some time for myself to read, reflect and just relax after the crush the Christmas holiday puts on us at work.

I hope that everyone out there receives what they wanted this year, and all the best for the coming year ahead!

Alice 19th, Vol. 1: The Lotis Master
Yu Watase (Illustrator)
VIZ LLC, $9.95, 192 pages (October 22, 2003)

Generally I tend to have very little interest in fantasy themed series, as the ideas of wizards, trolls and the like don't tend to hold much of an interest. Yet after hearing some interesting things about the Alice 19th book, and learning it was from Yu Watase. Who had done the Imadoki series that I found charming. I decided to give a shot to see what it was like.

The series follows a young girl named Alice, who has tons of courage, but not much self confidence. She's too nice at times, willing to turn the other cheek when others pick on her, giving up what she wants if someone else does. Or taking responsibility for things that were beyond her power, when things go wrong.

One day she sees a rabbit in the middle of the street about the be run over. While everyone else either feels sorry for or annoyed by its predicament. Only Alice has the courage to save it, and thus proving herself to the rabbit who is some sort of spirit guide.

The fantasy elements are a bit odd, as she is told she has the potential to be a Lotis Master. Which is someone who can control or influence events and people around her through the power of words.

In order for me to really appreciate that, I just had to kind of push the more fantastical elements (traveling to inner worlds and such) to the side a little. Taking it all as sort of a metaphor for the true power words can have with those around you.

Which is something Alice must find out about as she grows as a person. She must seek a balance from the shy girl who is so afraid of hurting or confronting others that she won't go for what she wants. And the temper she displays, when she does finally lose her cool and says something she really shouldn't have to someone close.

It is a precarious situation that everyone has, and likely still goes through everyday. Because knowing what to say, and what the ramifications (good and bad) that will come from it are complicated matters.

Do you ask the cute girl at the mall out? Do you tell your friend how annoyed you were that he stranded you at the party? Knowing whether something is worth saying, and if what could happen afterwards is worth going through is something we all deal with.

The art is very soft and inviting. The good guys are all cute and enticing, while the bad guys are angular and sort of angry looking.

Alice's journey on the surface isn't that different from other titles like OTHELLO or HOT GIMMICK. Which features young women needing to find out about themselves, so they can deal with the world outside better. Yet Alice and her world has a unique charm about it that is compelling, and different enough at heart that I'm curious to see more.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

What I've Been Reading

My time to read has been infrequent, though I've snuck stuff down to work to read on breaks and such.

Ruroni Kenshin #8 - I haven't read a volume of this since #2 or 3, so some of the characters are a little new to me. Yet this volume also starts off a new storyline as Kenshin journeys to confront his past and a ruthless killer.

It uses the viewpoints of other characters at first, to show how Kenshin's leaving has affected them. Yet it also caught me up on the basics of what these characters have been doing since I last read them. Yet in an entertaining story, rather than just long dribbling exposition.

So that when we did catch up with Kenshin, I knew what I needed to. His meeting with a very cute (long ponytails on girls are so neat looking) teenage girl ninja offered humor, as well as showing that despite his inner torment he is still to caring individual that we root for.

I'm not sure why I stopped buying the title before, but I'm already back on board.

Various Archie Related Digests Really far too many to list, yet I found a lot of hidden gems in them. Like a strip I had not seen before, but came to really enjoy. In "That Wilkin Boy", which had funny stories about feuding neighbors and realizing the importance of a family pet.

A Hotdog(Jughhead's dog) story, where he and a dog pal become human and try to steal Betty and Veronica from Archie. It's a fun story, that left me laughing but a little weirded out at the same time.

The Archie titles get a bad rap at times for being too predictable. Yet they really can be impressive in their ingenuity at times, and are more than just 2 girls after a guy stories.

Planetes 4.1 The series often known as "the manga for people who don't like manga" returns. This time dealing with themes of rebellion, and the importance of staying true to what you believe in.

While I wish they would have waited to collect the entire story in one volume, rather then the two it will be. It was nice seeing the book again, as well as seeing the focus shift back to characters other than the passionate astronaut who wanted to go to Mars. That the prior two volume centered on. (though they were great as well)

Because the female lead they have here has a bit more temper and variety of emotional baggage than the other characters have shown so far.

Carnet De Voyage I've never read a travelogue comic before, but Thompson certainly does a very interesting one that had me intrigued. While I was as impressed as he at some of the sites he saw and put down in words and drawings.

I thought it especially interesting that the things that stood out most for him were the people he met, not the things he saw. Which has often been my experience as well, and makes this more than just a lifeless scenery book.

The only drawback is that sometimes he doesn't seem to share quite enough. Just as I feel as if he's going to show something really deep and personal about himself, he pulls back. Which is his perogative and none of my business as a reader. It is just an observation that I wonder if he took that extra step, the book might even gain that extra layer.

The Return!

The Christmas rush at work is finally over, and now I can have my life return to semi-normal without the 12 hour 6 (at one point 7) days a week schedule. Thank you to all the kind folks, who don't know how to address mail properly for helping make my paychecks so large this year.

Let's see around the comics sphere there were lots of great new stories apparently. Two that stuck out to me though were:

All Star Superman Newsarama talks with Grant Morrison about his upcoming Superman series for DC's new All Star imprint.

Despite a rather goofy name for the imprint, the interview does have me very curious. Grant always seems so enthusiastic about his work, and his ideas sound just so far reaching and fun. I hope it'll carry over to the execution, because at times he has so many ideas that he doesn't fully realize any of them in his madcap race to fit them all in.

Gail Simone and John Byrne In one of the oddest pairings I can recall in a while. Comes news of the two teaming up to work on Superman's ACTION COMICS title.

I haven't been a fan of John Byrne's art in quite some time, though perhaps an inker will make it more appealing to me. Yet I like a lot of the things Gail says in her interview, like:

I actually put this in my pitch, that Clark and Kal El can be very complex. But I sum up Superman with that famous line from the Jim Croce song...

You don't tug on Superman's cape.

This is a guy who can thread a tank through the eye of a needle. He can see the weather in Beirut and he knows what air freshener you used in your house six months ago by the smell of your clothes. You don't mess with this guy.

Anyone that quotes Jim Croce lyrics is okay in my book.:) Yet it is a take I like, as Superman should be a guy who commands respect. Not a bully mind you, but someone that you take notice of if they are in the room.

Dang, 2 Superman books that have me curious to check out? What's going on here?

Sunday, December 19, 2004


I'm still plugging away at work, where we are averaging 10 to 11 hours a day to get the mail out in time for Christmas. Which hasn't left me much time to even browse for comics, much less read them lately.

My relatives told me to buy my own Christmas presents this year, and they would give me money for them.

So I've ordered the following from Amazon

Even A Monkey Can Draw Manga

Which seems to be a funny look at the world of manga, as it explores the many cliches of the field.

The Life of the World To Come

Kage Baker is back with the latest installment of her "The Company" novel series. About a group of immortal cyborgs who were built by people from the future to preserve lost things from the ravages of time. Yet the time is coming soon when the cyborgs will arrive at the time of their benefactors. What will there place be then?

The Complete Peanuts 1953-1954

The first volume of this just shocked me in its ingenuity and design sense. I'd always thought of the Peanuts strip as cute, but seeing these early strips showed me the sheer imagination of Charles Shulz like never before. Because of the limitless possibilities that it could have, before it became static in order to not damages its other media possibilities.

I'll be glad to get some spare time, in order to catch up on some comics and hopefully receive some comics. The mail order system I've been using had a flub, that sent my month's order to someone else. So I'm waiting for them to fix that mistake as they have promised.

It has been an interesting experience to be forced away from comics as I have though. Allowing me a better perspective on just how I should approach reading and even writing about them. Which hopefully will bring me a new energy once I get back to them at the end of this busy time of work.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Owly Contest

Johanna at Cognitive Dissonance is having another contest. This time she's giving away free copies of Andy Runton's Owly comics.

All the participants need do is draw or send in a cute picture of an owl. As someone who is artisically challenged I was daunted at first. Yet learned that it was easy to draw an owl as long as you have a paint or drawing program that allows you to use circles and triangles.

Which made the contest a fun experience, even if I don't happen to win.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Girls Do Too Read Comics

The popularity of shôjo manga, or graphic novels for girls, continues to grow at a remarkable rate domestically,

“Female readers in the United States and Canada have strongly demonstrated that manga is now a medium to be enjoyed by both sexes.

Somewhere Johanna Draper Carlson is saying "I told you so!"

I though the info about how boys are reading an enjoying them too was very nice info as well. In the direct market they are always talking about wanting the female readers, to see a company that says "we have male readers too!" like that is unexpected is sort of refreshingly different.

Exclusive Video Game Deal, Like Comics Direct Market?

CNN on NFL and EA Sports Exclusive Deal - In a controversial move, EA Sports and the NFL have signed a deal where only EA (known for the popular John Madden series of games) can use the teams, players and video highlights for the next 5 years.

One of the quotes by the critics of the move sound vaguely familiar:

We believe that the decisions of the [NFL] and Players Inc. to grant an exclusive license for videogames do a tremendous disservice to the consumers ... limiting their choices, curbing creativity and almost certainly leading to higher game prices,"

Thoughts on Recent Blogosphere Topic

Dead Chicks & Mayhem is a new blog that is getting a lot of talk around the blogosphere in recent days.

The person behind it has set out to rate various comics, using a five-point scale detailing the levels of Violence, Sex, and Depravity in the comics.

It is an interesting idea, and goodness know there is a lot of material that he can cover. I agree in part with him that there is a weird level of judgment by comic companies at times. When they seem to fluctuate what audience they are going for from issue to issue some times. So seeing a rundown that will point out this oddness could be fun.

Yet really it will just come down to what you expect from it to decide if what he does is of merit or not. Given that it is only his opinion or perspective on what is violent, sex or depraved, there are going to be lots of instances where he will say something that many others will just scratch their head at.

There have already been a few instances where I was left scratching my head at what he thought was a required warning. (Captain America saying smartass, is bad?) Yet I've found the blog as a whole to be an interesting reading experience, because it does showcase some of the really weird trends that comics today are stuck in.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

SWAN Volume 1
Ariyoshi Kyoko
CMX, 200 pages, $9.95 (November 3, 2004)

I've been fascinated by ballet and ballernias ever since I was a young kid. Perhaps it comes from living in a rural area, that lacks a certain class of entertainment. Which made the soft beauty of ballet a wonder to me. With how it tells stories with music and graceful dancing figures.

It just seemed so alien to me, given that the usual brand of entertainment here consisted of truck and tractor pulls, and the occasional baseball or football game on TV.

Still I wasn't sure how that world would translate to the comic field, given that it lacks music and movement. Yet when I saw CMX's SWAN series I decided to give it a shot, to see if it captured that allure I had as a kid.

The first volume mostly follows Masumi, a young woman whose dream is to be a prima ballerina. Her love of the ballet comes through with her enthusiasm for anything and anyone related to it. Such as when attending a ballet, she sneaks back stage and expresses her enjoyment to the lead dancers by dancing to them.

The enthusiasm pays off, as the dancers are part of a group starting an exclusive ballet school which will be the first of its kind in Japan. Its goal is to make Japan a major player in the ballet world, by having the best teachers teaching only the best students.

Only 8 finalists will be picked out of a competition of hundreds, so the competition is stiff. Masumi meets and befriends other talented dancers during the competition, who also see the potential in her.

Yet Masumi must eventually learn a hard lesson. That no matter how much talent you have, if your basics are not strong then the full extent of your talent will never be reached. Masumi must work hard to first unlearn the bad dancing habits she has, in order to learn the right way to do things.

An analogy used in the book was to a painter who keeps painting without learning the fundamentals of design. Making the point that if you don't master the basics, then one day you will stop growing. Which reminded me a lot of comic creators from the past and even today, who seem to have stopped growing in their work. Possibly because they never mastered the basics of comic story telling.

Masumi's constant self doubt got grating at times, but it is balanced by the others in the book's true caring for her. They want her to get better, so honestly tell her what she needs to hear in order to do so, instead of sugar coating it to not hurt her feelings.

The background stuff of the competition involved is very well done as well though. With feelings of jealousy, regret, loss felt (along with backstabbing) as some lose their dream of dance. The joy of achieving a goal balances it all out though, keeping things on an even keel.

The art does a solid job of showing the grace and beauty of the dance. Each interlocking step of a dance is drawn, given it a real sense of movement that was easy to follow and picture in my mind.

One of my favorite things though is the sheer volume of history and information given on the world of ballet. From definitions in the margin to dancing terms like Pas De deux, to gorgeous two page spreads showing and detailing the history of pieces like Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and the like.

While I've had a fascination with the ballet world, I didn't know a lot about it. These bits were interwoven seamlessly, and were natural parts of the story. Which led me coming away from reading it bother entertained and informed.

My only real beef with the book, is the sloppy production values that went into it. The binding is quite tight, and I had to take great care when reading it for fear of tearing out a page.

There is also some very word balloons that were left blank, forcing me to guess what the context of the conversation was supposed to be. It also seems odd that the book has no introduction or point of context page. Heck I had to hunt up the credits page, as they were so small and seemingly hidden in the back(front?) of the book.

Yet those are just technical things, that I think could easily be fixed if DC really wants to commit to the manga movement. This is the first of their series so far to really grab me, and I think could be very interesting to not only young girls. Yet anyone who has been interested in the world of ballet or even just the story of someone who works hard to gain their dreams.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Tokyopop Christmas Sale

This just in from Tokyopop:


Happy Holidays from all of us at TOKYOPOP!

We're making this issue of Underground short and sweet and are cutting immediately to the chase:

In the spirit of the season, we've cooked up a 25% OFF SALE that runs from now till 12/24/04.

Here's the fine print:

1. Go to

2. Put at least $50 worth of stuff in your cart and proceed to checkout

3. When you get to a section called Coupon Code and Discount Instructions, just enter MANGA-RULES in the Redeem Coupon box

That's it - shop till you drop!

But, even more important ... we hope you have the healthiest and happiest of holiday seasons and we thank you for your incredible support over the past year - take care, everyone!

- The TOKYOPOP Editorial Crew


Series I'd recommend (using links to various reviews around the web) are:

SGT. Frog - Hilarious series about would be world conquering frog like aliens, adopted by a young family in Japan.

Kindaichi Case Files - Fun and clever mystery stories, following two young detectives who solve them. Though the true mystery for the two may be how they feel about each other.

Planetes - Insightful sci-fi stories set in space, but with problems that are very down to Earth.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Checking In

Between now and until nearly the first of the year, the updates here are going to be sporadic. I work for the US Postal Service, encoding mail from across the country. The Christmas season brings a nearly 200% increase in our workload.

One of the great things about my job at this time of year though, is handling the Santa Claus mail, which goes to a firm in North Pole, Alaska that sends a reply back to the kids, that comes across the screen.

I can't help but smile when I see it, because the realization of the imagination and power of belief those kids have is great to see. As an adult it can be easy to become cynical, and not believe in anyone or anything. So being reminded that the innocence and power of belief, just helps me gain a better perspective on life sometimes.

Stuff I'm reading right now while on breaks at work:

Jughead Double Digest #107 - I never cared much for Jughead in the past, thinking his stories would just be silly ones about winning food contests or the like which would bore me because I read the Archie stories to see Betty & Veronica.

Surprisingly, at least in this volume, the themes that I thought of as a weakness were actual strengths. Rather than be hampered by the formulaic story that the Archie love triangle stories have to rely on. Jughead is allowed the freedom to do anything and be anyone depending on what the story calls for. For instance, from being a friend to Veronica and her father one story, to enemy the next there is room for variety instead of living up to certain roles.

Which opened my eyes for the first time to the character's true possibilities.

Hot Gimmick #7 - It is a rare talent to have a lead character who you both want to shake and tell to toughen up, and also take in your arms and help and protect as well.

This is my favorite manga series, because it has such a rich cast of characters who all have multiple sides to their characters. No one is completely good or completely bad, but are just like real people who react honestly to the situation at hand.

Hatsumi as the lead, is the classic "sacrificial virgin" who gives to any and everyone in an attempt to make them happy. While never saying or doing what will make her happy. Which makes everyone in the book love her, though not really in the way she needs to be. Since everyone uses her to try and get what they want, not really what she does or needs.

Swan #1 - I've only read the first few pages, and I really appreciate the "Maison Ikkoku" styled art. Which has clear figures and panel designs, that are pleasant and easy on the eye. I especially like the incredible details behind and in the world of ballet, that makes me feel like I'm learning something while being entertained.

The binding on the book isn't very well done though. The book is a bit hard to open all the way, and I worry that I'll tear it as I do.

So there you go, more as I have time. I hope everyone is having a great holiday season no matter what you celebrate.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Initial Ordering Plans

Discount Comic Book Service has the new listings for comics shipping in February 2005. So I'm peeking through to see what strikes my interest on an initial glance.

CONAN VOLUME 1: THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER AND OTHER STORIES TP - The hot new series written by Kurt Busiek gets its first tradepaper back collection. I don't really know a lot about the character, but this book has certainly gotten a fair amount of buzz around it. With a discount price of $10.37, it will definitely be something to consider.

DRAGON PRINCE #1 - Writer Ron Marz's second creator owned project, this time with artist Jeff Johnson, follows a teenage boy who never fit in with other kids. Who learns the reason behind it is that his father was a dragon, and he must seek out what happened to him.

I'm hoping the series isn't completely about how important the father is to people. Not that he isn't, but comics have a tendency to put all the importance on the father role. Neglecting the mothers nearly entirely.

Still I'm willing to give it a shot, as Marz's other CO series Samurai: Heaven & Earth looks fantastic from all of the preview pages. Issue #3 of which is listed this month, this time with the samurai battling the Muskeeteers in the streets of Paris.

Huh looking through the DC section only four things are of interest to me at all:

Adam Strange #6 - Writer Andy Diggle has really surprised me, in how he's made these sort of goofy offbeat characters relevant and cool so far.

JLA: CLASSIFIED #4 - Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire return with this followup to last year's FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE miniseries. I hope this fun and spirited story doesn't get lost by being sort of "hidden" in this offshoot series.

THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #3 - Waid and Kitson have me very curious to see how they do on this retake on the concept. Doing a spotlight issues already, this time on Triplicate Girl (one of my old favorites) has me thrilled though!

SEVEN SOLDIERS #0 - I'm not a huge Grant Morrison fan, but at 75 cents I'm willing to give it a shot. Especially since I love his message of wanting to truly do new and different things with the characters, not just rehash the past.

Everything else by DC is either a nostalgia driven, T&A driven, or violence for violence sake.

From Marvel...

Huh they really couldn't have a better fit for a well endowed chick in a small leopard skin bikini, than Frank Cho. Talking about knowing the core audience, its the "date book" just as Jemas once talked about.

There are the old favorites to get like She-Hulk. Yet I think I'm most excited about trying Young Avengers #1 because I like Jim Cheung art. Plus along with the relaunch of Runaways marks two very interesting sounding series following teen superheroes.

A concept that unlike their "Distinguished Competition" Marvel has never really given a huge focus on in my experience. Outside of the mutant franchise I suppose, though those rarely seem to be a true teen team in the vein of the Teen Titans or Legion of Super-Heroes.

Del Rey has the second volume of the fantastic Othello manga series due.

The Comic Journal 2005 edition promises extensive interviews and pieces on various manga creators. As someone who only truly got into manga this year, I'm really looking forward to learning more about the field as I should with this.

Teenagers From Mars gets collected in a trade finally. I loved the first few issues of this mad teens, having to battle for their own personal freedom against adults series. Then it sort of went off into an oddball direction that seemed too extreme for me to accept as natural story progression. So I passed on the ending, but perhaps it'll read better in one volume here.

I have never read Jeff Smith's Bone series. I wonder if I should try the new color version trades? Especially since the discount puts the price under $6.

NBM has the collection of the first three issues of their Hardy Boys series out, while also putting out a Nancy Drew GN. As a fan of both of these series as a kid, I can't wait to see what their comics will be like. Now if only someone would get the rights to the Bobsy Twins...

If it was nearly anyone else but Andi Watson, I'd give the LITTLE STAR series about "the pee, the poo, and the puke in a sleep-deprived haze" life of a dad a pass as being gross. Yet I'm sure Andi will make it so entertaining, that I won't mind the subject matter at all.

I've only recently found the Doctor Who series, and still know very little about it overall. I thought when I first saw it that the concept would make a great comic and now PANINI PUBLISHING LTD is doing that with the DOCTOR WHO: IRON LEGION GN. Which has restored Dave (The Watchmen) Gibbons art, though thank goodness for the DCBS discount which cuts the price from $25 to $18.71.

Whew I'm sleepy but that's a lot of possibilities, and I haven't even gotten to the Tokyopop and Viz sections!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Something To Look Forward To

DC has a PDF preview of JLA Classified #4, the 6 part follow-up to last year's Eisner Award-winning FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE. Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with art and cover by Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubinstein, those preview pages already have me stoked to see it.

Trading Short Term Gains, For Possibly Long Term Problems

An edited version of my part of a conversation taking place in a different forum.

Today's comic industry is on a recycle spin like never before in its history. Many of the most popular comics today are little more than retelling, through foggy lenses, of past events or to set up stories of the past.

For DC this is things like the Kara Supergirl, Hal as Green Lantern, Bart becoming Kid Flash, Brubaker retelling the first Batman and Joker meeting and many others.

Marvel is not only retelling their stories, they are doing it 2, 3 sometimes 4 different ways a month. With multiple versions of their lines like the regular Marvel U, Marvel Knights, Marvel Age, Ultimates etc.

Right now it is a smart business move in the direct market since the audience is salivating for that stuff.

Yet long term I wonder what the business of just reworking the past will lead the comic industry to. There are only so many times you can retell Superman's origin or reintroduce the same group of characters before all but the diehardest of audiences gets bored.

For the superhero genre to truly survive it needs to find new concepts, stories and characters that can take the genre in new exciting directions. Yet instead I see an ever growing disdain for anything new by both the audience and creators, and a move back to making the superhero lines even more insular.

Not all mystery novels only feature Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Sherlock Holmes. Yet in superhero comics that's what it amounts to, with little window for anything that hasn't been done many times before.

Which I think could eventually spell the doom for the genre for a good long while in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Better to Have Read and Lost, Or Never To have Read At All?

Yeah melodramatic I know, but it is something I'm pondering right now. Since so many of the books I follow now have been canceled, or of a very short run. Making me ponder if it was good to be aware of their quality and hope to get a decent ending. (something rare in superhero comics) Or if I would be better off not having known of it and thus not have another reminder of how today's direct market comic audience is so opposed to anything even slightly different or new.

Anyway, I finally got off work a little early today, since the computer system crashed and was going to be down for at least 3 hours. So I got to hit a comic shop for the first time in a few weeks to grab some of the small amount of DC and Marvel titles that interest me.

Which amounted to only 5 books, Captain America #1, She-Hulk #9, Madrox #3, Warlord #3 and Adam Strange #3. I've only read 3 of them so far:

Captain America #1 - Ed Brubaker's first issue was very interesting in the way it portrayed a compelling sense of danger and purpose in its use of the Red Skull and some of the new faces of evil of today's world.

I'm not sure if I care about a broody Captain America, though his attitude was understandable and even compelling in a certain way. Yet it doesn't really feel like Cap, who has always been an inspirational character. Perhaps this just shows that those type of heroes are no longer relevant though. I'll try #2, which is more than I can usually say about new Marvel series.

Warlock #3 - Damn am I going to miss this series and its characters, even though it is only 3 issues old. Yet in that short time I've come to care about the characters like Janie and even Adam. Plus the story is so wonderfully setup and already put into motion. Detailing what a being with the true power to do anything would be like. With one sassy young woman trying to save both him and the world from each other.

Yet why did this series fail? Not because of poor writing, or art, or for being outdated? No it failed because fanboys hated that it starred some other than their very dated character who series have repeatedly failed over the past few decades.

She-Hulk #9 - This is probably my favorite comic series from the Big Two currently, since I feel like I always get me money's worth each and every issue.

For instance, who in the hell thought Hercules could be so funny? Yet his sidestory about being sued for injury he did to a supervillain during a bank robbery had me rolling with laughter. Add that in with Awesome Andy's usual quiet, but scene stealing presence and the book was worth it for that alone.

Yet add in Jen's journey to visit to the Fantastic Four to learn more about her increased strength levels. And though it takes the situation with a light air, the mystery of what is going on with her powers, is intriguing and something I look forward to seeing the answer to.

Which is rare in even the best comedic comics, to not only be funny, but have a plotline that has meaning to.

So maybe even these short lived series or runs, are worth the time I put in after all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Why Samurai: Heaven & Earth #1 Was Delayed

Creator Ron Marz, on why his new CO series was pushed back

Okay, bit of an update. Apparently the printing took more time than expected, because this is a slightly new format for Dark Horse. The paper stock is about the same that "Conan" is printed on, but the cover stock is a bit heavier than the usual "Conan" cover stock. (I feel special.)

In any event, editor Dave Land tells me he has a first-run copy in his hands and the book looks "VERY NICE!" So the issue will indeed be on stands Dec. 8.

Monday, November 29, 2004

DVDs Becoming Like Comics

Anyone else notice the extreme rash of multiple editions of DVDs these days? It seems like none of the directors or the like can decide on a final draft. Or more likely, they just want to try to sell the product again I suppose.

It has started me reevaluating how I buy DVDs, or even if I want to buy DVDs these days. I really have to think about how much I truly want something. Whether it is something I'll watch over a lifetime or just is something I'll watch a few times and thenhave it gather dust on the shelf.

Which is remarkably similar to how I approach many comic series now. Questioning whether I should wait for the trade rather than get the single issues. And even after then if it is something I'll truly want to keep, or whether there might be a better edition down the road.

At least with movies I've discovered things like Netflix which allow me to watch anything I want in a convenient way that doesn't cost much or take up a lot of space. There isn't anything similar to that with comics as yet, though I have had success trading manga I read but didn't like enough to keep for more comic related stuff.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Couple Book 2

I have not read the first volume of this series as yet, but the cover of this one was so striking that I couldn't pass it up. The sheer cuteness of its focus, and the fun light feel it promised had me wanting to try it.

The series follows Young Ho Han, a young college in Seoul, Korea. Who meets Yu Mi Yu, a naive young girl from the country who from the "what's gone before" section moved in with Young Ho after she lost all her money.

Young Ho has little experience with women, so having the cute Yu Mi right under his roof is a new experience for him. His attempts at romance fall by the wayside though, as all she sees is an older brother figure.

In volume 2 Yu Mi has started her own tutoring service to earn money to pay Young Ho back for taking her in. Young Ho is worried about her safety though, so he tails her to her fist job. Where a rebellious teenage girl student has run away from Yu Mi, so Young Ho commits himself to helping her find her charge. Which back fires on him when over the course of doing so she not only sees Yu Mi's private parts, but the young girl develops a crush on him.

The humor in this is very sexually innuendo driven, reminding me a lot of what the characters from the English show Coupling (though this isn't quite as clever as Coupling) if it was set with the characters in college rather than in their late 20s.

Yet like in Couplings, despite the characters doing and saying some incredibly stupid and sleazy things. I still find myself liking them and hoping the two find themselves together at the end.
Samurai: Heaven & Earth Prelude

The four page preview originally only seen in b&w in Even More Fund Comics benefit book from last year's Baltimore Con. This one one of those rare occasions where coloring impvoes the final look, as evidenced on the very first look.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Sleeping Dragons: Becca's Scarecrow

I have never been that into fantasy series for one reason or another. Mostly because I find they tend to pay more attention to the fantasy world and its wrappings rather than the characters and ramifications of the events going on.

Sleeping Dragons breaks that mold however, by having the fantastical events like a dragon or an army of vampiric creatures be important, but only as to how dealing with them effects the people involved in terms that are universal to the reader.

Such as in the first story where a villager stresses caution about villagers who plan to slay a fearsome dragon. In other stories he would just be the cowardly fool. Yet here we learn the valuable lesson through him, that it is better to tend to ones own problems at home rather than start ones with others on the outside.

The second story is a longer one, and the much more powerful one. Titled "Becca's Scarecrow", it starts with a lone traveler rides in a village that is having a festival commemorating the end of a great war from its past.

The young traveler is Phillip, a Knight of Meggido (the warriors who saved the village and world in that post war), who has come to partake in the festival. As one of the town's leaders shows him around, Phillip and the reader are wonderfully introduced to Jared, a young boy who is in awe of the knight, and Rebecca, an extraordinary archer and beauty.

Later while a play retells the history of the battles of the great war, showing how great the danger was then. It is pointed out how the village has let their end of the bargain, keeping a watch for the enemies of the past whose land they border, down in the years since the war ended. Which gives readers a hint of the upcoming danger soon to come.

Meanwhile we see a budding romance started between Phillip and Rebecca. Who see in each other like abilities and goals. I thought it wonderfully compelling in his encouragement of her to do what she wants in life before it is too late. Usually such stories deal with men who must come to learn that the female can be his equal. He not only sees it from the start, but encourages her to be the best she can be and to achieve what she desires.

Tragically that is ended all too fast, as the anticipated threat finally arrives and everyone must join together in order to face it. With no one small role any less important than the other. Yet even from tragedy change and growth for the better can be had as this is shown. As well as what the importance of heroic sacrifice, for a cause that truly worth it can truly mean.

One of the most impressive things about the book is its confidence in itself to tell a story not just with words but through the art. From the silent heart felt glances of infatuation, to the wordless but high energy battle scenes. Many lesser creators would have added bravado filled dialogue to these pages, but by not doing so they show a confidence that works as the reader can focus fully on the action portrayed.

The back of the book talks about an upcoming book 2, which I am very glad to hear about. It is truly wonderful to see such that such imagination and freshness in a genre I thought was just beyond my grasp of understanding.

I'm Thankful For

- Despite the bad weather of two days ago, everyone I know came through fairly unscathed.

- Though we hadn't been too close over the past few months because of some heated disagreements. That my sister and I are still close enough, that when she and her kids really needed help they still came to me this morning. Which the strength of family will get us through hopefully.

- Johanna Draper Carlson and her husband KC are two of the greatest people I've ever known. Their friendship has helped me through some difficult times, and made happy times even happier.

-Thanks to Johanna especially, who even if we weren't friends, would be a hero to me. Because her reviews and coverage have opened up windows into comics I would never have seen otherwise and inspired me to do my own writing to help improve my own critical thinking. Rather than to just take what I read or see at face value alone.

- For the blogosphere for being such an open and friendly place. That welcomes those who want to participate, and for inspiring me to work even harder at what I do.

- For comics period. Every time I start to think I'd seen it all, and find myself wondering why bother reading them. I always seem to find something that gives me a new spark, which rekindles my love in new ways.

Princess Tutu Volume 1

When I first saw the name to this book in a box of stuff a friend sent me. I wasn't expecting anything at all from it, I doubted I'd even read beyond the first few pages. Yet when I finally tried it I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

Ahiru is a young girl who loves the ballet and fantasies about dancing with a prince. Yet she's very clumsy and doesn't have enough skill get to the next level of the class where she could dance with Mytho, a cute, quiet young boy who is the best dancer at her school.

When Ahiru wanders into a new dress shop though, events begin that change her life forever. The store owner gives her a magical pendant, which allows Ahiru to turn into Princess Tutu, a superhero-like ballerina.

With her powers, she starts to uncover a danger to Mytho posed by those who would keep them apart. Leading to confrontations between her and others, as she seeks to rebuild his fractured heart.

I'm not terribly familiar with the "magical girl" genre, that this book fits in. Perhaps if I was I might not find it is charming as I do, because while I know it looks familiar to what little I know of things like Sailor Moon.

The cuteness and fun spirit pulled me through the book to its end. Despite her overwhelming sweetness, that makes me almost want to check for cavities, I couldn't help but like and pull for Ahiru and her friends.

I must wonder at who the target audience for this book is though. It is for ages 13+, because of huge cleavage shots and a brief nude transformation scene, which both seem unnecessary. Yet with those they miss an audience of younger readers that the book's message and themes would be perfect for. While not being of subject matter or complexity that will draw in the older readers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Near Miss

3 big tornadoes hit the small town of Silsbee, Texas today where I live. The debris shown here is from a house just a quarter of a mile to the north of my home. Only one known fatality so far, but a lot of people lost their homes or are at least without power for a while.

Still this close the Thanksgiving, it certainly made me appreciate all I have to be thankful for. Especially how in light of this where those close to me escaped harm.

What Interests Me This Week

>Charles LePage wrote:

> Adam Strange #3 (Of 8), $2.95

I have been truly surprised by this series about a character I'd never really been that interested in before.

> Teen Titans Go #13, $2.95

Love this really wacky series! I almost want to only get it in the digests though, where they looked so terrific.


> Marvel Holiday Special 2004, $3.99

I'll be curious to see coverage of this, to see if it is the same material as the one I got at Target a few weeks back.

> Kindaichi Case Files Vol 10 Kindaichi Killer Part 1 GN, $9.99

> Hot Gimmick Vol 7 TPB, $9.99

Cool, I'll have to look at my local book chain stores for these two wonderful series.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Quick Comic Takes

I got a chance to read a few comics this evening that I'd bought a little while back at a book chain store. So wanted to share some quick thoughts.

JLA #107 -It is the first issue of the Busiek and Garney run, so I was curious to see how they'd do with the book. It is a fairly talky issue, which is a bit of a change from the usual "summer blockbuster" approach the book usually has.

Yet it works, as it has the best portrayal of The Flash, that I've seen in quite some times. Showing in a bright, fun approach how annoying he could be because of his power's ability to make waiting for anything a pain.

I'm not entirely sure what is up with the first part, about a cosmic egg the team was obsessing over. I suppose that comes from not reading JLA/Avengers, so I hope if it is given more attention down the road then it will explained a bit more.

Still a decent start, that has me curious to see what will happen down the road for the book.

JLA Classified #1- I've always found Grant Morrison's work to be a mixed bag. One of his greatest strengths is his pure enthusiasm for the work, and ability to throw out ideas to see what sticks and doesn't. Yet that strength can also be one of his greatest weaknesses too, because it can seem quite unfocused and hard to grasp.

This book plays into that, with 90% of the issue focusing on a team called The International Ultramarines, who I vaguely recall from his original JLA run some years ago. Yet the only thing I get from this book is that they are sort of a suped up version of the old Global Guardians.

The brief glimpses into the ideas behind some of the characters seem intriguing, but
there's no depth to the idea. Without more attention paid to introducing these characters to me, I found it hard to care about any of the bad things that happen to them through out the issue.

Luckily Batman shows up near the end though, which helps save the book a little for me. I'm not sure what Grant does to make Batman act so annoyingly smug, but still likeable and just cool. Yet I wish some other writers would figure it out.

Astonishing X-Men #6 - This was the first misstep I'd really seen by Whedon in the series. As the issue doesn't use the medium to its fullest extent, with the characters standing around talking for way too much time.

Then the one action scene, Colossus tossing Wolverine fast enough to catch an alien space ship that had already launched, was just too ludicrous to be believed even in comics. All leaving just a fizzle feeling to the entire issue.

Sabrina #62 - This book just continues to get better with each issue, as the creator build upon the foundations of her previous issues. Which is quite a change for Archie Comics, which are usually quick, disposable stories that you read and forget.

Yet the themes being played with here, of selfishness and caring and/or thinking of others feelings and needs. Is just such a step up from what a lot of today's comics try for, and should be especially powerful for younger readers who might get the message in their entertainment of the story. Not as being talked down to, as these kind of things are usually done.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Sunday Sundry

What a lazy day off, where after 55 hours at work since my last day off on Monday I just sat around all day resting.

I did watch Citizen Kane for the first time ever today. I've always been hesitant to try classics, be it in movies, comics, or whatever. As so much has been said about them that the reality rarely ever lives up to the hype. Or they are something that are very much a product of the time they were made, and/or reliant upon the age of the audience when they first encounter them.

Citizen Kane I must say is one of the rare exceptions to that rule, as its relevance and message are still as strong today as they must have been even way back in 1941. It was one of the few times where while I can see the influences it had on other movies since, the original still has a certain magic and allure all of its own.

Let's see, I've been online a lot today still catching up on my various bookmarks and the like. One piece of interest especially stood out to me today, was Johanna Draper Carlson's naming of the comic PS238 a Comic Worth Reading.

Now getting past the odd choice of name, that might prove a hindrance to anyone wanting to get the book from their retailer since it isn't an easy name to remember. I thought this quote in her review was especially interesting:

The cartoony, open linework by Aaron Williams helps them look like children, though. They're a little doughy, not quite fully-formed, with their time in the oven still ahead of them.

I'm not sure if that description of the art paints a clear picture of what she describes for everyone. Yet it certainly made me hungry for some baked cookies.

I did read a few comics today as well:

The Legion #35-38 - I've liked a great deal of Gail Simone's work on other titles, and was looking forward to her run on LEGION with artist Dan Jurgens. Especially after not really caring for the run of the creators on the series for the past few years.

Yet this seemed to be almost the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie, with bad guys terrorizing the good guys for no reason that is ever explained. Which just left me uncaring after I read it, because it seemed to lack any importance or relevance. Making this a story that will likely be forgotten with the upcoming reboot.

My Faith In Frankie - This charmingly funny tale of a young girl who has her own personal god, who loves her more than she can stand sometimes given his interference in her love life. Still works in this smaller digest form, without coloring. Though I missed the red shade of embarrassment that told more in some sequences than an entire paragraph of text.

The initial sketches and character designs at the back make the book worth the cost for those who have all of the issues. Plus the preview of upcoming "The Dead Boy Detectives" book by Jill Thompson has me really looking forward to it.

Crazy Love Story Volume 1 - The book describes itself as crazy, but it instead just seems fairly dumb and mean. Jin Sung Moo has fallen for a girl named Shin Hae Jung, who is a real "ice princess," who cares about nothing or no one except what makes her happy.

She and her boyfriend Jimmy, a Hong Kong action movie obsessesed wacko who likes to live out life as if it was a movie, use and abuse Jin in some eerie play to amuse themselves.

Jin takes the physical and mental abuse, and still professes his love for Shin though I have a hard time telling what is there to even like about her. The entire thing makes little sense, and the pure meanness and stupidity of the characters just left me annoyed more than anything else.

Be it Jin's almost stalkerish obsession with Shin, or Shin and Jimmy's near homicidal abuse of each other and Jin. I just found myself wishing the entire bunch would drive themselves off a steep cliff.

SGT FROG Volume 5 - Continues the tales of the frogs from outerspace, who are trying to conquer Earth. I thought volume 4 was a bit of a let down, with more time given to its "fan service" elements than the wacky humor the series usually provides. This one gets back to its strength of wacky ideas, and cockeyed humor that I'd come to love in previous volumes.

As the frogs crash a school sports festival, play a game of Parcheesi that has the fate of the Earth riding on it, and deal with an intergalactic Reality Show. Among other fun, exciting adventures.

Sigh back to work tomorrow, I'll try to update as often as I can, but I work for the postal service and this is our busiest time. One thing I love about this time of year though, is seeing the letters from kids going to Santa Claus. (which go to a company in North Pole, Alaska who answers them) Just thinking about the imagination and belief that the kid behind that letter is filled with, makes me smile in its pureness.

Which is something magical that I guess we all lose at some point, but it is nice to be reminded of its existence at times.


What a week, as the hard drive on my IBook went out last Monday and I had to take it in to be replaced. I tried to stay online on a 10 year old IBM, but the ancient browser and painful e-mail program were just too much to put up with.

I got my computer back on Friday, and have been spending the time since getting the browser and newgroup reader back in the time inbetween work. Now I'm slowly rebuilding all of my bookmarks as well, though it is taking time.

Comics related, everyone talks about the good old days of comics in the past. Yet I'm really starting to appreciate the modern technology that goes into comics today. Just as my IBook is just so logistically easier to use than the IBM, todays comics have a more direct approach that looks and feels better than many comics of the past.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Legion of Super-Heroes V4. #31

Ever go back and reread something you read at a much younger age? I've been doing that recently with my Legion of Super-Heroes run of titles, with special regard to Volume 4 of the series which started in 1989. I didn't start reading the series until V.4 with issue #38 where they blew up the Earth.

The audacity of that storytelling really impressed me, because it was something daring (to me) at the time. For the heroes not to always win and diversity of all the characters intrigued me. So I went back and got all of the issues I could find of that run a few days later and read them in just about one sitting. (I was a freshman at college and had hours between classes)

Reading them then, without a lot of history with comics and absolutely no knowledge of the LSH at all, I filled in a lot of gaps myself. Building in my mind the great history around all of the little tidbits, which made for a deeper resonance for the series because I felt sort of connected to it.

Over the course of the past decade since that time though, I've filled in my knowledge of superhero tropes and the LSH history is one I've become fairly well versed in. So when I went back to reread these issues recently the magic was sort of gone, as I knew the characters and the odd side trips just seemed forced rather than an imaginative misdirection as it seemed in the past.

Also the "steals" of past origin stories, like Laurel Gand's origin is for Supergirl's, just seems more unimaginative rather than the fun playfulness it seemed to be when I read them with no prior knowledge.

Yet there are other things that work even better, because I'm a more mature person who has gone through a lot more that that young "innocent" of that time long ago. #31 is a prime example of this, as at its time it just seemed an odd story about a guy who wanted to be with a man he loved. So made himself into a woman in order to attract that person's attention. That odd sci-fi slant was interesting, but nothing that truly hit any emotional buttons for me.

When I read it again last night though, it was an entirely new experience. The idea of wanting something or someone so badly, that you would do anything to try to get what you want was something that I could relate to now. I've wanted things and more importantly attention or affection from people which led me to doing things I didn't really want to.

The theme explored here just really hit home, about how no matter how much something or someone meant to me. That it would never really be worth it if I had to be so untrue to who I am in order to achieve even a glimmer of it. Making me realize that I had to be true to myself, and have whatever happens after happen.

Which when I think on it is a pretty darn impressive feat for a comic to have such a big impact for me. Which comes at a good time when I started to wonder why bother with comics, given how so little I like ever seems to last for any period of time. This helped remind me of the sheer joy and thought a good comic can bring to me, and makes me glad for rereading all those old back issues now.

Quick Sunday Link Blog

Kerry's Ex Does Graphic Novel- Lee Roystone, an ex-girlfriend of Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry, is doing a graphic novel of her time with him and two other rich bachelors. I thought this bit especially was interesting:

She finished the book several months ago, but delayed publication until after the election. Miss Roystone feared jeopardizing the ambitions of a man whom she admits that she is still besotted with, although he broke her heart.

As in my opinion, descriptions like
describes her politician lover as a "caveman" in the bedroom who would whisper sweet nothings to her in French
might have given him a bit more personality.

The Oregonian Reports Teen Comic Groups Talking About Manga - I thought it really neat to see that the group of teens have their own reviews website, because it is great to see teens putting so much thought into what they read. Which is one of the plusses of reviewing.

Comics 101

Joe Corroney has a very interesting article on his site showing how he laid out the artwork for his Star Wars Empire #25 issue. It is a very detailed path leading from his initial rough sketches to the finished colored pages.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Friday Link Blog

Sorry for the infrequent week of posting, I work for the US Postal Service and this is our busy time of year. I have Sunday and Monday off though, and hope to do some reviews and such then.

Until then here are some quick links of interest:

Samurai: Heaven & Earth #1 Preview - Dark Horse's website has a four page preview Ron Marz and Luke Ross's series. The art really brings the world to life, as it is so detailed.

Brian K. Vaughn's Pride(Via Johanna) - Looks like a very interesting book. I wonder if I'm the only one who thought upon seeing his drawings of lions "That artist would be great on comics of the Narnia books."

Bill Rosemann joins DC - I found it interesting that he'll be reporting to Ron Perazza, whom I had brief contact with when I worked for DC. (helping their online department by being the chat host on AOL and a message board moderator assistant) Hopefully Rosemann will bring a bit more oomph to the DC site and community.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

My Comics Order

I just finished my order from Discount Comic Book Service


I have a lot of faith in Scott (UNDERSTANDING COMICS) McCloud to tell an engaging story,. Hopefully that faith will pay off, as I want another great Superman story after Busiek's Secret Identity one of last year. I wonder at the huge cover price of $5.97, though luckily DCBS has it at $2.97 for me to try.


I've really enjoyed writer Dan Slott's work on She-Hulk, and I think he should be perfect for the humor these two long time rivals will have on display. Add in art by Ty Templeton and this should be a great miniseries from Marvel.


I've heard such praise for this series by Ostrander, that I'm willing to give this collection a try in this very meek month of comic offerings.


The preview pages and hype I've seen for this series about a samurai who quests for his kidnapped love across Asia to France have been fantastic.


Here's another chance for some of the best self publishers, and true greats of the small press to do stories on the DC Comics world of characters. Which hopefully will offer unique new takes on old concepts, and expose their work to a new audience which will hopefully seek out more work from them.

Most of my favorite comic creators take on universal themes in this intriguing new anthology from Image Comics.


The preview pages I've seen from #1, show this to be a very action oriented series with a real kick butt James Bondish lead female character.

SHE HULK#11 $1.94

I got into this series late, but have loved every bit of it to this point. The news of its brief departure has me down. Yet I'm going to do my part to show it every bit of support as I can muster. Given its quality and nonstandard approach that is sorely lacking from most of the big 2.

Wow, even at a discount and a low month comics still cost a lot.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Comics I'll Be Getting From This Week

Superman Secret Identity TPB, $19.95

Woo hoo! One of the best books DC's had in years, so I'm glad to see it collected.

Blade Of Kumori Cvr A #1, $2.95
Blade Of Kumori Cvr B #1, $2.95

I'm looking forward to trying this after seeing these preview pages.


Iron Man #1, $3.50

Wow that's a high price, glad I got it for 75% off at DCBS to try. I was never really interested in IM, but maybe Ellis can make it work.

Marvel Age Hulk #3, $1.75

Strange, Marvel has already collected this and #4 in the Target Exclusive trade.

She-Hulk Vol 1 Single Green Female TPB, $14.99

Looking forward to trying these early issues!

Warlock #3, $2.99

I really like this sci-fi heavy series, and I hope it continues to be as good.

Love As A Foreign Language GN Vol 1, $5.95

This book by Torres had an interesting premise when I ordered it. Plus I love supporting a format, one shot GN, that is one I want to see more of.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Thoughts On This Month's Box

I received my first box from Discount Comic Book Service yesterday, and have some quick thoughts/initial impressions on them so far that I wanted to share.

Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 - I've never been that big a Hal Jordan fan, I like the Kyle Rayner character and era that this book is setting up to replace, and had ordered this book for curiosity sake since it was only 74 cents.

The art by Ethan Van Sciver is incredibly detailed, and does a great job of setting and making the huge multitude of characters used individualized looking. His Carol Ferris is incredible looking, and made me want to know more about her from only the few pages she was on screen.

Unfortunately the story leaves a lot to be desired, as it seems to be about trying to convince readers of the greatness of Hal through dialogue. We are constantly told how wonderful he was and how much is missing without him there.

Yet it seems forced, and goes against what we are shown with Hal's history as a murderer and insanity given a huge focus. I wonder how Batman fans feel about his character being shown as a conspiracy nut, rather than just a pessimistic voice of reason too.

I'm sort of curious to see what happens next, but I must wonder who this book is for at times. Since it seems to be going in a direction that fans of the current character, with focusing on Hal and not Kyle Rayner. Yet also focuses on all of the negative elements that fans of Hal didn't like in the first place.

Teen Titans Go! Digests 1 & 2 - These wacky stories work even better in digest form than they did in larger format. If you've thought about giving the series a chance than here is the best way to do so.

My Faith in Frankie Digest - I'm still disappointed that this isn't in color, but I'm still pleased to see the book in a collected form. From a thumb through the gray shading is fairly decent, so should be fun to read.

Styx Taxi: A Little Twilight Music - It would have been nice to have had a little blurb on the inner front cover explaining what the series was about. Since it wasn't until I got to the end of the first story that I realized what it was.

This book about a taxi who takes dead souls anywhere they want for two hours, before they have to move on is an interesting theme. The first story by Steve and Dan Goldman is an interesting contrast at what various people want to spend their two hours.

The second story by Elizabeth Genco and Leland Purvis is my favorite. As one of the taxi drivers finds himself infatuated with a young female street musician, despite it being against the rules.

The art by Purvis shows how accomplished and confident he is in his talent. Since his use of white space, where the other two artists left none, shows that he has an understanding that sometimes less is more. Making his story more open and easy to read than the hyper realistic art of the first or sketchy unrealness of the third stories.

The third story about a mom who wanted to be a singer or something, was just not to my interest. The sketchy art just made me spend more time trying to figure out what I was looking at than I wanted to spend. So I gave up on it two pages in.

I've only read the first chapters of the next three books.

CMX Land of the Blindfolded #1 - This is a charming little series about two young teens, one who can see peoples futures the other their past is cute if not overly deep.

It does raise an interesting question of if you knew someone's future, could you change it and if so should you? How does one justify placing one's own beliefs of what is right for someone else?

CMX From Eroica With Love #1 - Three young people who have superpowers, pursue an fanciful male art thief who has taken a great romantic interest in the shy male brains of the three. Leading to some awkward humor in places, but a fun "chase movie" spoof none the less.

I was worried from reports that this book would seem too dated. Yet the art reminds me a lot of Maison Ikkoku with its open, cartoonish look. The dialogue is clever and the story reminds me a little of Jonny Quest with its mixture of humor and action. If taken to a slightly higher level of sophistication in its humor.

Sandman Mystery Theater: The Tarantula - A very nice first chapter that surprises me with a very interesting mystery that the hero will have to investigate. Yet what is most surprising is the sense of time and place the book has with its setting of NYC in the 1930s.

Despite the name, the book has had little of Sandman in it so far, Instead following a young woman of the 1930s whose life is most affected by the events the murder mystery is centered on. The look at the social issues of the time, women wanting to go out and be their own person having a good time. Isn't too different than some of the things young women go through today. Though some of the reasons might be a little different.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Anyone looking for a comics mail order system, I highly recommend Discount Comic Book Service. They offer huge discounts, and I just received my first order from them and I can't be any happier with them.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Two Manga Hits

Quick comments on two great manga titles I found this week.

Othello Volume 1
Created by Satomi Ikezawa
Del Rey 208 pages $10.95 (October 12, 2004)

Every manga publisher need that one true hit to make their mark, and I think Othello could be Del Rey's real breakout hit.

16-year-old Yaya Higuchi at first seems like many others in the "shy young girl meets cool guy who will help her find happiness" genre does. She's shy, overly nice and helpful to those who don't deserve her kindness, and lacks a feeling of self worth.

Her only "friends" are Seri and Moe, who she goes shopping with and is someone they confide in about their infatuation with cute boys and pop stars. Yet their favorite "sport" is making fun of Yaya, because it makes them feel better about themselves and their inability to attract boys.

When Moriyama, a cute boy who is a Led Zeppelin fan and lead singer of his own band, takes an interest in her. Things start to change for Yaya in a very big way.

With Seri and Moe's jealousy of such a cute guy taking an interest in Yaya, and Yaya's inability to deal with her feelings. An alter ego known as Nana takes over, exhibiting a confidence, sexuality and martial arts knowledge that is almost the reverse of how Yaya usually acts with those that know her.

Nana doesn't back down from Seri and Moe's bullying, and she is aggressive in pursuing Moriyama's affections. Yet Yaya doesn't remember her actions as Nana, even though the persona is really just an extension of Yaya's "cosplay" activity with a group of fans who dress in goth-rock costumes every weekend. Causing her to get in even more hot water with Seri and Moe, but leading to peculiar interactions with Moriyama as well.

I think the big draw of this series for me is the positive energy it provides. The situations Yaya finds herself in are things many young people probably go through at some point in their life. Her Nana persona is a very wish fulfillment fantasy, who can say and do things that we always wish we could or would do when faced with the same situations.

It is just an amazing book, and joins my list of "must follow" manga titles after just the first volume alone.

Boys Be Volume 1
by Itabashi Masahiro & Tamakoshi Hiroyuki

I'm not sure if the book lives up to its claim on the back cover of "Whether you're a guy looking for tips on how to impress the girl of your dreams, or you're a girl trying to understand what makes guys tick, you'll find all the answers inside."

Yet the book is a fun ride through some wacky young love relationship storylines.

From the jock who is introduced to a whole new world of possibilities by a "party girl" after she runs him over and thus knocking him out of sports for a bit. To a sweet story about a shy young guy and an overly tall girl who stumble through the first steps of love together.

There is a sweetness and just sense of fun that I hadn't seen in quite a while. There are a couple of real loony stories too, like a girl who gets a little too into Cos Playing or a couple of stories which seemed to show that women have and are more fun when they are drunk.

Yet even in the stories where the pandering made me roll my eyes, there was a level of humor and almost innocence that shined through. Which made me take even some of the obvious "fan service" elements with a grain of salt. Since at heart each story was people finding happiness with others, in various forms.

After a crappy week of comics from the "main stays" of the comic industry. Finding these two new books made my lousy and incredibly busy week a little bit brighter. Because it was nice to see series that realized making the reader laugh and seeing good things happen can make for a fun reading experience.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

This Week's Comics

Already picked up:

Planetes Vol. 4
The very introspective sci-fi series continues with a new series, finally! I look forward to seeing more about one of the lead's journey to Mars, and hopefully more of the other characters on the space garbage collector ship.

Sgt. Frog V. 5 The hijinks of a small group of frog like aliens, as they adapt to life on Earth and scheme to take over the world continues.

Case Closed Volume 2 - This series about a teen detective who finds himself trapped in the body of a small kid has some very compelling mysteries at times.

Boys Be Volume 1
I just fell in love with the cover, and couldn't pass it up.

Waldenbooks is having a sale, where if you buy 3 paperbacks you get one free. So I really stocked up today.

On the Charles LePage Comic List for this week:

Witchblade Cvr A Land #80, $2.99
Witchblade Cvr B Choi #80, $2.99
Witchblade Cvr C Cho #80, $2.99 - I've heard that Top Cow has shipped somewhere near 30,000 extra copies of this to retailers. To be given away free to box customers in an attempt to gain new readers.

Astonishing X-Men #6, $2.99 - Joss Whedon isn't reinventing the wheel here, but is telling a solid superhero tale that anyone who likes the genre staples should enjoy.

Wow, guess I can skip the shop trip this week.

Hikaru no Go Volume 2

In volume 1 we learned about Fujiwara-no-Sai, the ghost of a Go instructor from 1000 years ago. Through an old Go board Sai possesses a young boy named Hikaru, and the two form a friendship/partnership that will allow Sai to play Go, which he has such a passion for.

In this volume we start learning more about Hikaru, as he starts to grow an appreciation for the game as well.

I liked his is sense of wonder at the intrigues and community the game can foster. Not everyone is nice, but the sheer enthusiasm and knowledge others have for the game and the joy they have sharing it. Which was a cool reminder of when I first got online and discovered online comic fandom, and had similar experiences.

Hikaru has a rival in the son of a world champion Go player, who with the help of Sai he defeated in Volume 1. Now he wants a rematch with Hikaru, but Hikaru puts him off because he wants to learn more about the game and beat him by himself without the help of Sai.

The story has more than just the game though. Hikaru has a "girlfriend" who continually distracts him, but in typical young boy fashion he is annoyed by her. Yet she is also the first thing he asks about, and someone he cares more for than he'll admit to even himself.

The heart of the book is the Go competition though, as is the joy the characters have playing the game. The thrill of competition really comes through, making me anxious to see if the characters achieve the goals they set for themselves in future volumes.

Target's Marvel Age: Hulk Collection

This book is just bad for numerous reasons.

It takes after the TV show, with Bruce Banner on the run from a secret government organization who is after him for the secrets he holds. He moves from town to town helping those who need him, which means turning into the Hulk and smashing the bad guys, before moving on.

The writing is overdramatized, with text box descriptions that made me roll my eyes at its "Chicken Little" type phrasing. The characters are flat and uninteresting, with even the Hulk being a huge bore who strikes nothing with the reader.

Lost is the sense of danger or even sorrow that the Hulk should bring for the problems it brings to Bruce's life. Or even the sense of fun a dumb Hulk could bring, as he is played like the typical superhero character. Who smashes the bad guy, then goes away once the danger is past.

The art, by four different artists, all have the same problems. It is flat, sketchy and shows a lack of movement. In the first issue especially, where Bruce meets another scientist, the sketchy art left me unable to tell the characters apart.

Of course wrapping my brain around that Bruce Banner looks like a 19 year old kid, is pretty darn unbelievable as well.

Just a bad comic, that talks down to the reader and makes the Hulk boring which should be almost impossible.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

More Quick Comic Takes

CSI: Demon House TPB

I just realized this, but IDW's CSI comics series is probably the best comic adaption ever. It really feels like watching an episode of the show, as the dialogue is spot on, and the art captures likeness well. Yet it doesn't forget that the characters must tell a story, so the characters still look like people not statues as too often happens.

In Demon House, the team is investigating a robbery at a charity Haunted House center, that rather than having ghosts teaches kids lessons through actors playing out various sinful scenarios. (drug abuse, adultery, spousal abuse)

The robbery closely resembles the M.O. of a string of convenience store robberies. Yet while there, an actor in one of the "plays" is shot and killed while on stage. Leading the team to split up to cover the two different, but possibly connected mysteries.

The writing is sharp, though I was a little disappointed about how easy the mystery wound up being. The journey the team went on to get to that conclusion was interesting, yet a little more depth would have been appreciated.

The art for the present time is sharp and does the likenesses well without seeming stiff. The flashback sequences by Ashley Wood take a bit of getting used to though. On first glance they are quite sketchy and hard to define, yet further study reveals an emotional undertone and careful attention put into each image.

The only thing missing was the cool "The Who" soundtrack that always opens the show.

Remote Vol. 3

Going just by the cover alone, and my experience with the previous 2 volumes. I know to expect some teasing of a sexual nature going in, since those volumes had a large spotlight on the lead's underwear and had her nude in the shower once in each volume.

I kind of laughed and shrugged it off though, as I was really interested by the highly fun lead character. Who is a former meter maid, forced into being a partner for a genius criminologist who won't leave his room. So seeing her go out on these dangerous missions provided a fun adventure, in sort of the way the TV show Scarecrow and Mrs. King provided.

Then comes this volume, where I can't ignore the sexual nature of the story any longer. As it involved the lead going undercover at a school which is locked down under a bomb scare. Because a girl that went to the school was repeatedly raped and forced to become a prostitute by some really sick students at school.

These events are shown in great detail in the book, seeming to almost glorify in their horridness and made me wonder if they were supposed to get a gleeful charge out of the reader as well. Especially since these scenes are followed up with more crotch shots of our lead as well.

That's just too much for me, and has made me back away from this series in a permanent fashion.

Target Exclusive Mary Jane TPB

I'll admit that I wrote off the MJ series, after trying issue #1 and saw the attention it gave to Spider-Man. I wanted to read about MJ's teen life as herself, not as Spidey's girl as she has often been portrayed as.

When I saw this collection at Target I decided to give it another shot, and was glad I did. The follow up issues really downplay Spider-Man's role, which is greatly appreciated. MJ's crush on him is easier to relate to as if it was a pop or TV start who we can feel there is no hope with. (despite knowing different)

This is the best I've ever seen the other kids in Spider-Man's teen world portrayed. From Flash's obnoxious front, that hides a deeper person than one expects, who has a deep caring for those close to him. To Harry's portrayal as something other than the rich guy who feels sorry for dorky Peter Parker.

These characters are really fleshed out and gives a more solid base for how and why they act as they do. The story of young love, and the insecurities that brings to have these adult feelings, but not the experience to know how to deal with them. Is nicely handled and really pulled me along.

This only collected #1-4, but I really want to hunt up however many issues of the series there are left.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Quick Comic Takes

Ocean #1 (of 6)

Sigh, this book is an example of why I read more collections and graphic novels rather than single issues these days. It isn't a bad comic, it just isn't one that left me feeling as if I'd gotten my money's worth.

The mystery of the first few pages with the discovery of coffins under the ice of Europa (a moon of Jupiter) is a good one that has me intrigued.

Unfortunately nothing in the book after those first few pages seem really necessary so far. Since it deals with the man apparently in charge of the investigation of the mystery, as he journeys to Europa.

I wanted to get on the the mystery, not watch this guy spend page upon page of "crossing the street", "throwing his coffee away", "take a seat on a ship to outer space", "talk to a guy about how bad space travel used to be" etc. It just felt like marking time, and seemed like space better suited for something else.

It struck me as if when interviewing Neil Armstrong, asking what he thought of the Red Sox winning the World Series rather than about the moon landing.

Hopefully the series will read better in collected form, as I know that is how I'll now read it if I choose to. At least I got to see the lovely Chris Sprouse art, which has come so far since his Legionnaires days.

Adam Strange #2

As a reverse to the way little seemed to happen in Ocean #1, this book was jammed pack with action. Adam's battle over the streets of Gotham City was very well paced out, and lasted just long enough to not lose its tension.

It is hard, to me anyway, to do convincing action in comics these days. The chase here had to have a sense of movement and logic, that allowed the reader to follow along and not lose their place. Which this does amazingly.

The mystery of what exactly is going on in Adam's world has me intrigued, and the cliffhangers are paced just enough to make me want to see what happens next.

Target Exclusive Marvel Age Spider-Man Team-Up

This book is a bit of a mixed bag, as Todd Dezago and a mixture of artists try to modernize comic stories from the past.

I really wish I had read the original stories, in order to have a point of comparison. Yet here goes on what these stories read like to me:

With Fantastic Four - Spidey is once again trying to find a way to get some money out of his powers. This time by proving to the Fantastic Four how great a hero he is, in hopes they'll admit him as a member of their team. Only to discover that they don't earn a salary, but live off the stipends of Reed's invention patents.

The wordy dialogue of the era is kept, though the dialect is modernized a little. It's interesting to see a lighter approach taken here, but I couldn't help but cringe at the number of coincidences or awkwardness of the villain explaining out loud his entire plan. While he was trying to quietly sneak into a secret government facility no less.

With Captain America - Gosh, no wonder Captain America has such a hard time garnering fans sometimes. Here he is a walking public service annoucement, delving off into long, never seeming to end speeches about civic duty and the like. That had Spidey in awe for some reason, but left me having the check my pulse to see if I was still alive because it was so dull.

With Kitty Pryde - This is the fun kind of story I miss from bygone days. When Kitty, a trusted X-Men who handles world ending threats on a daily basis. Gets ordered to babysit for some local parents by Xavier who wants her to experience a normal life. (What she couldn't go to a movie then or something?)

The kids and her get kidnapped by the Morlocks though, where they meet up with Spidey as well, and they all work together to find a way to get free. Which in the end turns out to be in the form of communication and understanding of differences.

Just a sweet little story, that reminds me of the joyful innocence comics had at one point.

with Thor Goodness, how on Earth did anyone stand reading Thor's painful dialogue in these old days of dialogue heavy plot dump?

Still this story works because it doesn't take itself seriously. As shown by Spidey trying to teach Thor how to trash talk, and its hilarious turnout. Or learning that Thor's favorite TV show is Spongebob SquarePants, this comic made me laugh out loud, which doesn't happen very often.