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.