Monday, February 28, 2005

Things Comics Have Taught Me

An increased vocabulary- When I was growing up comics introduced me to a lot of words I wasn't familiar with, which made me go look up or ask others what they meant.

A wider world view- Growing up in a very small Texas town, comics were some of my first looks at different places, different ways of living and such. Along with different ideas that challenged the way I think about things.

That it's okay to be different - Growing up I never felt like I quite fit in with everyone else. While other kids were wanting to do things like hunt, fish and the like I just wasn't interested in that stuff and thought I was just weird.

As an adult the trends continued, but I've learned that I'm not the only one who has felt that way. That it was fine to be different, and heck even something to aspire to be a little given the alternatives.

How to not obsess - I used to obsess on a lot of things, but seeing both the characters in comics and some of the people who read them obsess over the stupidest littlest things. Which made me take stock of what was really important, and to gain a bit of perspective that made things work out much better.

Critical Thinking - Since I took up reviewing, I've had to learn how to examine both the work with a critical eye and myself to figure out why I liked or disliked something. What makes particular things really work and what makes others not.

Which has carried over to life outside of comics as well, on subjects like the news, friendships work and the like.

How cool people can be - Through comics I've not only met a wide assortment of people I never would have otherwise. Yet has also allowed me to become friends with people I've often looked at as heroes as well. Who have done things for me that I can never repay, like encouraging me to try new things (and to travel to new places) along with support when I lost my dad a few years back.

Giving me a better appreciation for people in general, even when sometimes I only see the worst sides of society in the news and the like.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Odd thought

I was watching the foreign movie The Other Side of the Bed this evening and something struck about the ease I was able to assimilate the subtitles with the imagery and tone of voice.

I think reading comics for as long as I have and the ability it has given me to blend the words and pictures together as one.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Quick Comic Takes

Hellboy Volume 1 : Seed of Destruction - After enjoying the movie I was looking forward to trying to comic series it was based on. I hope it gets a lot better than this first volume though, which has very stiff dialogue and an incredibly dull narrative.

A lot of the elements from the movie are from here, but what on screen was big and impactful, seems rather tame and rather dull here. A lot of this may be due to the scripter being John Byrne whose writing I've never really gravitated too.

I hope so anyway as characters that were witty and fun in the movie, just lack any spark in this first volume, but I'm willing to give future volumes another look.

Planetes Vol. 4.1 & 4.2 - These volumes make me wish the story would have just stopped with volume 3. While there are clever and touching scenes here with Fee and her son, and the executive at the memorial services for people killed during by an accident caused by his company.

That's all they read as to me was a collection of scenes, with no real story built around them to provide resolution of at least forward movement. The many text pages may be of interest to those who want to know the history of the Planetes world, but it made me feel as if I was reading some type of source book instead.

I'm just not interested in the fictional history of a series, unless it is used in the story, textual detailing of such as if in a history book holds no interest for me.

Spider-Man/Human Torch #2

I usually appreciate writer Dan Slott's work, but this series is nothing but a mimic of the old comics it is based on. I can look back at those old comics and appreciate them for their time, but when I see a writer today do the same exact kind of work it just isn't entertaining.

Perhaps I'm just not the target audience for this though, as I was hoping for a modern spin or at least observation of the time period instead.

That is one wonderfully fun cover though, I wish it would have been incorporated into the story somehow.

7 Soldiers of Victory #0 - I had some high hopes for this project by Grant Morrison. He seemed to have such enthusiasm for the work and with his super imagination playing with so many characters should really play to his strengths.

Which is why I'm surprised by how rather generic and boring this whole issue is. With characters that have no personality or even an interesting set of powers, brought together for equally dull reasons. Only to go out under circumstances that I wasn't made interested in enough to care about.

Cheeky Angel Book 2 - To show I'm not a complete grouch though, I did enjoy the second volume of this gender switching even more than the first. As Meg, the boy who was turned into a girl at a young age, continues to hunt for the book that will make her a boy again.

I like how Meg has questioned even herself if she really wants to go back, and what the nature of who he/she is really is defined by. The gender observations and breaking of cliches has been interesting and most importantly fun.

The introduction of Meg's dad, who is creepily jealous of the teenage boys interested in his daughter, and another teenage boy named Kobayashi, who's a good fighter but has very old fashioned beliefs in how women should act. Has introduced new nuances for the creators to play up for comedy, and keep things from become too repetitive.

This book along with Legion of Super-Heroes #3 really made my week.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Legion of Super-Heroes #3

While this issue is mainly used to give a spotlight on Triplicate Girl, it doesn't stop the series from moving forward in its other subplots.

The internal struggle for what the Legion's purpose should be between Brainy and Cosmic Boy is an interesting one so far. The behind the scenes plotting against each other is scary, like it should be, but everyone has a driving purpose for their actions that makes me want to see who will turn out to be right.

Triplicate Girl's origin is an interesting one, that brings up interesting thoughts about individuality and how ones experiences make up who and what you are no matter how alike you may be in other ways. An aspect I would like to have seen explored even more in depth when she ventured back to her home planet. Where she found things different than she expected.

That part was sort of given a bit of short shrift, as I would like to have been shown more as to how and why she didn't fit in, rather than just be told she didn't in the narrative.

This book just seems so much fuller than any other superhero comic I've read in awhile, meaning those extra pages aren't just filler I guess.

Just the exploration of Triplicate Girl (gosh it is going to be hard to stop calling her by the much shorter to type Triad:)) character, or the secret behind the scenes plotting of Cos and Brainy would be a full plate for most comics.

Yet the method used to explore Triplicate Girl, as she goes on dates with Sun Boy, Ultra Boy and Element Lad, also brings insights into them and how they work together. It was especially nice to see a return of the "bad boy" version of Ultra Boy after the years of the wimpy idiot of the Post-boot.

The heart of what makes the book tick for me anyway is its freshness. While on the surface it may all seem familiar, everything has seemed to have been looked at with a calculated eye, and tweaked or entirely overhauled for the better so far. Leaving me anxious to see where the book goes from here, as this is the freshest and most full of possibilities the series has been in a very long time.

It is sort of like falling in love with the Legion of Super-Heroes all over again. Which is a weird feeling as I'd pretty much written the concept off as dead years ago. Yet for now I'm making it a point to try and swing by a comic shop the week it comes out to get it. Which is something I haven't done for a regular series in years.

I'm in Love

With Claudette Colbert, whose movies I've been using TIVO to record for me this month on TCM. I'd never tried many older movies before because I never knew what to try. Thanks to friends I was given tips on what to try, and so far it has panned out.

So far from Claudette I've watched Cleopatra, Imitation of Life, The Sign of the Cross and So Proudly We Hail! which are all great and show off her diversity and energy on screen well.

Yet me favorite one so far is It Happened One Night which she did with Clark Gable, as an heiress who is befriended by a disenfranchised reporter while on the run from her overprotective father.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

This Week's Stuff of Interest

If I can make it by a comic shop this week, I'll be looking for the following:

Legion Of Super Heroes #3, $2.95 - I really enjoyed the second issue of this series, and this issue is supposed to look into Triplicate Girl who is an old favorite. So hopefully her reintroduction is as clever and entertaining as Dream Girl's was in #2.

Seven Soldiers #0, $2.95 - I don't know if I'm just looking for different things now or if Grant Morrison's work has changed, but I've enjoyed his last two projects. This project seems very ambitious of him, so I'll give it a look.

Spider Man Human Torch #2 (Of 5), $2.99 -The first issue of this did a good job of telling an entertaining story, even with two truly obnoxious leads as the characters were back in the time these stories harken back to.

Hana Kimi Vol 4 GN, $9.95 _I was wondering when this gender-hiding comedy series would have a new volume out. It is the only one of the "girl pretends to be boy at all boys school" series I like, because the characters actions are a bit easier to relate to.

Hot Gimmick Vol 8 TPB, $9.99 - My favorite manga series out currently, with teenagers in a housing unit coming of age and exploring the strange emotions that growing up brings about.

Sheesh I'm going to be buried in comics though! Since I still have Tramps Like Us Volume 4, Planetes: Volume 4: Part 2, Owly Volume 1: The Way Home, Gemma Bovery, Sensual Phrase Volume 6, Hellboy Volume 1 and Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol Volume 2 (my first try at his run on this title, hope I can follow it) and others to read from stuff I've picked up over the last few weeks.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Original Nexus Graphic Novel
Mike Baron and Steve Rude
First Comics, $6.95, 1985

Nexus has always been one of those series that I'd always heard about, but never got the chance to try. When I found this GN on sale a few days ago I decided to give it a go. This volume apparently, it wasn't very clear, collects the early black and white issues of the series run when it was at the defunct Capital City Publications.

Nexus has an interesting approach early on, distancing the reader from its lead Nexus by having others take on the narrative role and thus only allowing the reader to be an observer to his actions.

Which gives the character a real edge to him. His role of an executioner of some of the most notorious killers and dictators is made unique because of his seemingly complete emotional distance from his actions.

He isn't doing these things for revenge, justice or sense of altruism as heroic leads tend to do. Nor is he doing it for power, thrills or the like as most adventurers. He does it for one reason alone, to be rid of the internal pain.

While only partly explained so far in these early issues, as the book nears the end it starts dipping into what makes Nexus tick through the telling of his origins to an attractive female reporter/love interest.

Apparently to make amends for sins of his father, Nexus is haunted by dreams of the death and suffering of beings across the universe. These dreams bring him great pain and a target he must eliminate in order to have the pain stop for a while, along with the power to do so.

This makes him a more interesting lead than most, because he really isn't a heroic figure in a lot of respects. He's not an evil person, he allows those who he's helped or might be in danger because of his actions to return with him to his moon base. Yet he is quite cold and distant from everyone, and has no overriding compunction to eliminate evil that he isn't driven by his dreams to. As shown when he allows a dictator to live when faced with an opportunity to end his reign.

The mystery of his origin still has lot of explorations left, yet his future is just as compelling. I wonder where things go next and whether Nexus could ever lose the dreams and the pain they bring in order to lead a more normal life. Then I wonder if he possibly should given how much he meand to the universe.

Rude's art has that classic epic feel, that brings that bigger than life universe to life in wonderful detail. Along with compelling emotional details to the quieter character moments as well. His art is clean and beautiful, without all of the unnecessary lines that a lot of artists even today seem to feel the need to add to add weight to their art.

I found the afterword by Baron to be interesting, especially his talk in the back of how hard it is to get readers to try new books and characters even when most of the standard mainstream superhero comics were doing little more than retelling the same stories. This was way back in 1985, but still holds true to this day in the direct market comic marketplace.

I really hope I can find more trades of this series soon, as I want to read more. Any Nexus fans out there that can clue me into how much further, and how many trades, this series ran?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Today's Spending

I had today off, which meant catching up on things that had been put off for the past few weeks because of long hours of work. One good thing about working a lot of hours, is you make a lot of money and don't have much time to spend it.

So in addition to the comics I bought today at the shop I got:

The Greatest American Hero Season 1

I remember loving this show as a kid, though to be honest the only thing I can remember about it is the fantastic theme song "Believe it or not, I'm walking on air!" I can hardly wait to see how the show stands up after all these years have passed.

From Amazon I received:

Owly The Way Home

Planetes Book 4.2

Tramps Like Us Book 4

Which are all books I've been wanting to read, but had not been able to track them down for various reasons.

Of course not everything was comics related, as I got a cool haircut (though at $30 it had better be a good one!) and bought me some great looking shirts at JC Penney's on sale at $6.77 for regular $40 shirts.

3 Fun Reads

I made one of my infrequent stops at a local shop where I picked up these fun books.

She-Hulk #12

This issue brings to a close some plot points, and most importantly sets up some new ones for the future so I'll want to come back.

Humor is the heart of the book's appeal and it put that on display wonderfully as all of Marvels heroes converge to help She-Hulk out with an Infinity Gem powered Titania. Made different than the normal "all the heroes gang up" by its rather fun sense of the absurd, that keeps things from seeming too dangerous. (though there is a scary moment for everyone's favorite supporting character!)

Jen's resolution of the problems was clever, because it looks at some of the absurdness that comic fans can bring. Yet uses that absurdness for the good and in a sort of empowering way.

I hope the 8 months until the restart goes by quickly.

Runaways #1

I really enjoyed the first 6 or so issues of the last run of this, but because of various problems I wound up not getting the rest of the series. So I wondered if I should even get the new #1, as I thought I'd be lost, yet I decided to give it a go anyway.

I'm glad I did since it so quickly set up what the current status quo is, the Runaways trying to find kids like themselves whose parents are super villains. While reminding me of who each character is and what their individual power is.

It also establishes two new potential conflicts quickly, one with a group of recognizable former teen heroes whose mission is to get other powered teens out of that situations. And the classic grown member from the future who brings new of impending doom.

I do plan on tracking down the digests of the former run to catch up, as there are enough bits thrown in here to let me know there is a backstory. Yet I was pleased to find that the book works perfectly well on its own as well.

JLA:Classified #4

I usually don't enjoy "talking heads" comics, but in this one the dialogue was just so much fun that I couldn't help but laugh out loud at multiple times during the book.

This book isn't so much a superhero tale, as it is Seinfeldian sitcom with the characters all dealing with their individual problems involving greed, misunderstandings and practical jokes. That all culminate with a last page revelation that makes me anxious to see the second part already.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Words fail me.......In all the years I read comics, I don't remember ever reading a book (or series) as good as this!

I'm at a lost for words too. I mean, My God! This issue was just one of the greatest things I read today or any other day.


This issue made me all tingly all over. I keep rereading it, and every single time I get shivers.

Is this praise for the newest comic masterpiece by Art Spiegelman, Craig Thompson, Kyle Baker, Joe Sacco or even Neil Gaiman? No, these are quotes pulled from the Geoff Johns MB in regard to the just released Green Lantern: Rebirth #4. Which features the return of Hal Jordan to the lead role of the GL franchise.

It is easy to scoff at this and put this level of praise down to immaturity or even lack of taste. After all in another thread the same fans argue over their dislike of the logo on Hal's chest on the cover of the new Green Lantern #1 that was just solicited. To the point where Geoff Johns had to post assuring them that it was only something put together for them to run for the ad, and not the finished cover.

Yet there is something to be said for having that pure of a reaction to a book. I like comics but I can't think of the last time I would have been so enthused by a book, not even Andi Watson's work which I adore. I've found comics that I really enjoy, but perhaps because I don't have the emotional attachment to the characters. That the impact of certain events happening no longer are enough for me.

I don't root for characters as much as I just want to see quality stories happen. Which probably helps me keep a perspective and not get too caught up when stories go ways that I don't like, Sue's treatment in Identity Crisis for example. Yet probably also keeps me from reaching the extreme highs that those that do get to as well.

Which isn't a complaint or anything I would change about myself. Not being tied to certain characters means I try more diverse items and have more varied experiences than those that are only in it for the latest Superman story. Yet it was just something I was thinking about tonight as I read through the boards.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Quick Thoughts

Looking for some good stuff to read, while showing support for someone who really deserves it for the work she does? Check out Johanna's for Sale list which has numerous cool and hard to find items like Miracleman trades, DC HCs, and more. Including some cool sounding Legion of Super-Heroes original art pages.

I love Archie Comics Sabrina manga makeover, but the ad for their new Josie makeover seems to be a scary amalgam of some the icky parts of some manga series. I hope the book itself has an entirely different feel.

I hope everyone had a great Valentine's day! Mine was spent at work, where one sweet person brought me a cup cake made from a new sugar substitute. She didn't take into account that she'd have to cook it differently and it tasted awful! Though since she is gorgeous and I have a date with her this weekend, I smiled and pretended to like it while I waited for the chance to quickly get rid of it without her knowing.:)

Quick Comic Takes

I spent the weekend in Houston, and in one of the malls there is a comic shop which is great for readers like me to just wander in and pick up things cold. The two I picked up were:

Vimanarama #1

I wasn't sure what to expect from this sort of new romantic epic superhero tale by Grant Morrison and Philip Bond. For the most part I've always been fascinated by the huge imagination Grant has, but tend to find that the execution and resolution of that imagination lacking. In this first issue he seems to have harnessed that imagination for the good though.

The book revolves around an Indian teen named Ali, who is in fear of meeting the wife his father has picked for him. He finds distraction when his brother has an accident at the family store, revealing a hidden underground world.

When he goes in search of his baby brother who has wandered into the strange world. He meets his would be bride, and finds an adventure with an old evil race of world conquerors, and competition for his new love in a strange group of superbeings leader, who seems to be sort of a Hindu Superman.

Bond's art really brings the world to life. From the comedic actions of Ali and his brother discussing whether God hates him or not, the eerie spookiness of the hidden monsters, to the wide eyed imaginative designs of the hidden world and its inhabitants. Everything fits together but is given its own personality as well.

I look forward to seeing where the series goes from here, as it looks like it'll be a fun ride. Yet also an interesting one given how it not only gives insight into a culture that is different from mine, but in a way that makes it something I can relate to.

Young Avengers #1

First issues of mainstream superhero titles are a real crapshoot sometimes. Time is usually taken to establish who the characters were, and what they become for the series premise, and you don't really get a feel for what the book is really going to be like.

This issue breaks that mode a little bit anyway, as the team is already established and active. Plus a possible drive for the series seems to be established, with the teen heroes coming in conflict with their older counterparts who feel they know what is best.

The dialogue by Allan Heinberg is good, though I don't even know the characters history or even what they look like out of costume. I'm already getting a sense of them by how they interact with each other.

One thing I thought was sort of cool, and gave me a bit of a Legion of Super-Heroes vibe, is the goofy codenames and outfits that seem to fit the members personalities. The design sense and pacing by artists Jim Cheung and John Dell was quite impressive.

Though Cheung may want to work on developing more diverse faces, as I don't think Jessica Jones was supposed to remind me of the Ethan character from his work on CrossGen's Scion.

I'm not won over by the book yet, there really wasn't enough to make a definitive judgment on yet. I am intrigued enough to want to see more though, which is pretty good for a first issue with mostly new characters.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Cheeky Angel Book 1
by Hiroyuki Nishimori
English Adaptation: Gary Leach
Translator: Joe Yamazaki
Viz, June 2004, $9.95

I wasn't sure about trying this series about gender switching comedy. Usually when something like that happens in stories they tend to focus on the icky sides, with the different ways of certain bodily functions. Or have the character eerily oggling themselves and their new parts, or even worse talk about how terrible it is to be a woman or man in general.

Yet this series shatters all of those expectations, and just made me wonder why I waited so long to try the book.

It follows Megumi, who when he was 9 years old rescued an older man he assumed was a wizard, and was given one wish. He wished to be "the manliest man in the world" but his wish was misinterpreted as wanting to be "the womanliest woman in the world" instead.

Flash forward to age 16, Megumi's lived the last 6 years as a girl and is about to start high school. His only real friend is Miki, she was with him when his wish was granted and is the only one that remembers when he was a boy. Which is what he needs, with every guy in the world out to try and get in his pants.

Their friendship is a little odd though, with Miki constantly trying to push Meg to act more feminine in her dealings with the boys passes. Which to her seems to mean being extremely passive, while Meg just wants to beat them up until they learn to leave him alone.

It is an interesting exploration of what it is expected of the different sexes. Both seem a bit too extreme takes on it --- Miki needs to learn that standing up for yourself doesn't make you less feminine. While Meg needs to learn that violence doesn't solve every problem.--- but seeing them journey to eventually learn that is interesting so far.

There are implications that Miki and Meg might become even more for each other in the future. Since Miki's the only one who Meg trusts and can really talk to. If it happens, it will make for an additional level of enjoyment to watch for.

One of the things that startled me was seeing such an honest look at the stupidity and downright intruding nature of boys trying to show their affection for girls.

From the class bully Genzo, who after being beat up by Meg falls in love with her and constantly bothers her to go out with him despite Meg telling him no. To the nerdy guys who seek to protect and win Meg's heart through acts of random kindness and "heroic" deeds. Yet are really just pests who won't leave Megumi any personal time to herself or with Miki to do what they want.

None of them can get beyond their own feelings for what they want to try and see what Megumi feels and wants. They treat Megumi as an object to be won rather than an actual person, which is why they really have no chance of ever getting anywhere.

All of which make for a compelling story, as Megumi wonders if he would act the same way if he was still a guy in their place. Which provides interesting insight at the nature of who we are as individuals and as a whole, while still keeping things light enough to be fun.

I can't wait to read volume 2!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Saturday Night Comic Bites

Blade of Kumori #3

This series following Kumori, a young female samurai in the present day who has started questioning her role in life. After her failure to kill a superhero as ordered by her samurai clan and father, she's given a different assignment this time.

A nuclear scientist is seeking to sell his knowledge and skills to Mideast terrorists, which is an easier target not only in terms of skill required. Yet also morally since he obviously has no scruples for how much death and destruction his actions would bring.

Despite not getting much in Kumori's mind in the series so far. The stories have still managed to focus on her actions and feelings. She's very good at meeting out death and destruction, yet as most young people do she is questioning whether the life is right for her. Which has made this an interesting story to follow so far.

Darkness/Superman #1

I don't know a lot about the whole Darkness world from Top Cow, but this issue gave me the basics for what I need to know so far.

Jackie Estacado is a Mafia boss with a little more humanity to him than normal Mafia bosses. He just wants to run his operations and not hurt any innocent people. He's just moved into Metropoils to take over its crime scene where he runs into Metallo, who he's able to scare off with his power to call upon little elf looking monsters to fight for him.

The Superman parts are some of the better uses Lois that I'd seen in a while. Lois is shown as the best reporter in town, as she's driven, witty and takes offense when anyone (including her husband) thinks to horn in on her story.

The art style is your typical "Image house" style of slick inks, tight clothing on everyone that doesn't seem like it would really fit on an actual human body. Yet then that's what's been popular on the Superman books for the past year or two, so fans are probably used to it.

Except for the Lois parts there isn't anything spectacular here, but it is a very workmanlike effort from the team involved.

Hero Squared: Extra Sized Special #1

I had high hopes for this book, since I love the writing team of Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis work on series like FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE. Yet this book for large parts of it was dreadfully dull, because it just focused on the same joke of the lead and his alternate universe alternate self for FAR too long.

That kind of take is okay on a team book like the Justice League where you get multiple takes on that kind of centered plot. Yet with only two characters here it got old rather fast, though was almost saved by the exciting action at the end.

Yet then just as I got interested the book was over, and I was left not feeling very satisfied by the purchase.

Samurai Heaven and Earth #2

I generally find action comics a bit of a let down these days, because they lack any emotional impact. For action to be compelling I have to care about seeing the protagonist win, and sadly that is a rare thing in this day where fights are generally just violence for its own sake.

Not so with this book, after issue #1 where samurai Asukai's whole world was taken from him by the death of his whole clan. He has become a ronin with only one purpose the rescue of his kidnapped love who he promised to always be there for.

His journey takes him to the home of a Chinese warlord who was responsible for the death of his clan, but more importantly the abduction of his lady love. The passion Asukai puts into his battle with the Warlord and his army is incredible, I found myself rooting for him to conquer them all.

Luke Ross's art takes another step forward, as his battle scenes depict the fighting in a bloodthirsty but almost dance like way. His attention to detail from uniforms to facial expressions an beyond is just a joy to behold.

The next step on Asukai's journey takes him to France, where he'll battle the Musketeers. I can hardly wait to see the literal culture clash!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

This & That

Lot's of folks are talking about the case in Georgia, about a comic retailer who gave out a comic intended for adults to a minor.

While I find the punishment for the "crime" to be incredibly extreme, and the law in itself to be rather stupid. I'm having a hard time feeling too much for the retailer who in the thread I linked to seems to be dismissing any culpability in the incident.

Seeming to say that it was too much work to make sure a situation like this didn't happen.

Meanwhile in Australia, another mother is complaining about the contents of a comic her kid picked up at a library. This time I loved the librarian's response of the book being put back on the shelves and that it was up to the parents to monitor what their kid read. Not the library's.

Hard to find Manga

I'm having a hard time finding new volumes of Ruroni Kenshin (I need 10 and 11), Tramps Like Us 4, and Planetes Book 4 volume 2 in my area for some reason. Plenty of copies of new series, and series with monsters and aliens which don't interest me that much but sort of annoying that I can't find those.

I did see the nifty Gemma Bovery GN today though, it has more text than I usually expect from a comic but certainly looks interesting. I'll be ordering it online where I can get it cheaper and in a better condition as this one had dings and creases on the cover.

Comic Talk

I got a box of comics in from the folks at Discount Comic Book Service in yesterday evening. Some of the highlights so far are:

Spider-Man Human Torch #1 - Dan Slott somehow manages to tell a hilarious story, despite the fact that the two leads are enormous jerks. Thus remaining true to the original stories, but with a modern sensibility that keeps things fun.

She-Hulk #11 - I like how they explain away what seems to be some very stupid sounding continuity from Avengers quickly. With Doc Samson having the quote :

It's called life, Jen. You don't always get to pick and choose what happens. Sometimes things are out of your control.

Which makes a good point about life, but also about what a creator who chooses to work on franchise characters in a shared universe must deal with. Where others may do something to your character, and you have no say in the matter.

The rest of the issue is a good fight between Jen and a suped up Titania that manages to be interesting if for nothing else but its treatment of the two as just hero and villain. No silly reasoning like jealousy over a boyfriend or looks, as too often happens when women in comics fight.

Love Fights Volume 2 - Haven't read the book yet, but Johanna Draper Carlson's afterword covers two things we are of like mind about. The need to be careful of following characters or creators blindly, and our mutual love for Andi Watson's work.

Stuff I haven't read yet:

Superman: Strength #1 - Interior art reminds me a bit of Jon Bogdanove's work on the Superman titles of the early 90s. I mainly got it for Scott McCloud story, which I'm sure will be strong.

I don't like the binding on the book though, it looks... ugly is all I can think of.

Blade of Kumori #3
Samurai Heaven & Earth #2 -
Both titles look interesting, but I'm surprised at how much blood is on both covers.

Hero Squared #1 - I have high hopes for this series from the same creative team behind the classic loony Justice League era of the 1980s.

Anyone know if these are out yet?

Legend of Grimjack TPB 1, FOUR LETTER WORLDS GN, Bizarro World HC and American Flagg Vol 1 & 2 TPBs.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Glad I Don't Collect Anymore

I saw this story from Manga News Service that made me glad I don't maintain a collection anymore.

Magazine Collection Crushes Owner

On Feb 6th a Tokyo man who had amassed a collection of vintage magazines on the second floor of an apartment complex was knocked to ground level and buried when their arrangement was unsettled thus becoming a torent of dried ink and paper, collapsing the floor of the room. Rescuers dug through the massive pile of printed pages for 2 hours before finding him. He was seriously injured, sustaining full body bruises. The 75 year old resident of the 1st floor apartment was uninjured told police the ceiling just seemed to fall in. The Tokyo Fire Department who could only hear the man's voice deep beneath the mountain of magazines used a long probing stick with a miniature camera to find him. The bulk of the collection were old comic magazines such as Shonen Jump, Weekly Playboy and Sunday Mainichi dating back to the mid 1970's. The collection was estimated to be about 50 centimeters in height and about 30 meters in width.

Manga Commentary

Legal Drug #1 - This series by the popular CLAMP studio, follows two young men with mystical powers who work in a drugstore together. The drugstore is an odd one, with a psychic boss who sends them out on missions to recover mystical artifacts that only their powers can obtain.

There is an interesting attraction between the two, in an antagonistic way because one is aloof while the other feels they owe the other because he saved his life a few years back.

The art is quite attractive and has a good sense of design. Though I did find it stiff in a few places, and I had a hard time figuring out exactly what was going on in certain places.

The book was behind the 8 ball before it began though, as fantasy elements aren't something I'm interested in reading about. The characterization and story has to be something extra to overcome my apathy towards that genre of story, and this didn't because it all seemed very surface level. Yet for others more open to that style of story, than you might want to check this out.

Here is Greenwood Book 2 - It takes a lot for me to not finish a book, but this book accomplished that feat.

It tells the story of Hasukawa who has moved into a dorm at his school. He has a huge crush on his brother's new wife, and so found it best to not to get out rather than have the object of his affection constantly on hand.

He's already a month behind at school though due to an illness putting him in the hospital at the start of the school year. Then to make matters worse he is placed in Greenwood, which is filled with a bunch of weirdos.

Two older students are assigned to be his mentors, yet they don't take the job too seriously as they room him with a strange boy who they first tell him is a girl. Since the school is all boys they want him to help in their deception of hiding what "she" is so she can continue at school. It all turns out to be a joke apparently though, as revealed when he talks with "her" in the men's restroom.

I say apparently because I had to ask a friend exactly what was going on. The book relies a bit too much on knowledge of manga cliches that they rarely explain in detail in the story.

The art splatters the dialogue and other elements across the page, making me become lost frequently while trying to read it. To the point that midway through I gave up on the book, since I honestly didn't care what was going on and so didn't feel like making the effort to follow it anymore.

Tramps Like Us Book 3 - This series has my favorite lead in Sumire Iwaya. She is an educated, accomplished, beautiful WOMAN, which separates her from so many other leads who are girls and as such have different priorities.

This volume introduces a rival for her boyfriend, which makes her face her feelings toward him and exactly what she wants.

She's not very comfortable with him for some reason. She acts how she thinks others expect her to be instead of who she really is. She knows a relationship should be easier, yet instead he's just another thing for him to obsess over what she's doing wrong.

An intended dinner with her intimidating family and a company trip to the beach add more levels of complexity. The only time she feels comfortable at all is when she's with her "pet," Momo, a rambunctious young male dancer who she allows to stay with her.

The story tries leading me towards rooting for Sumire and Momo to get together, and I can see certain possibilities with that because of how well they get along despite age differences.

Yet I find myself hoping that it doesn't go that route, because I think Sumire needs to learn more about herself. It is easy to go with what is comfortable, but I hope she eventually breaks out and goes with someone who will challenge her a bit more.

Friday, February 04, 2005

More Legion Fanboy Thoughts on Legion of Super-Heroes #2

I really loved this issue a lot, as it captured the hope and determination of teens in a hopeful future that I've been wanting to see in a Legion of Super Heroes series for a long time.

It doesn't ignore its sci-fi roots either with unique looks at different societies. Yet doesn't fall into the trap most sci-fi does by becoming about the tech rather than the people involved.

Brainiac 5 seems to be wearing a weird variation of the old Grell Cosmic Boy skin suit. Which made me pause for a minute, but it works for him so far, though I wonder at the purpose of the tubes coming out of his head.

His cold intellect puts him at odds with his teammates, yet his handling here is well done as despite his rough exterior I couldn't help but side with or at least understand the points he was making.

This issue was the first time I'd ever seen Dreamer as a workable team character as well. Her precog abilities always seemed to make her ideal for a consultant position, but I never thought her abilities would serve well in the field. Yet here her powers are not only an asset, but they also offer believable reasoning for her sometimes flighty nature.

One of the better changes I've seen to a classic character so far, is the apparent one to Element Lad shown this issue. Saying that he has to be able to touch something to transmute it keeps him quite powerful, but keeps him from being too overpowering as displayed here when attacked by something it would be dangerous to touch.

I was really expecting the worse when I heard about the LSH revamp, as yet another reboot just seemed to much. Plus I am so used to comic companies, especially DC, going in nostalgia directions that don't interest me one bit.

Yet this series has been a lot of fun so far. It stays true to a lot of what I see as the classic Legion concept, but adds new dimensions and takes on it with things like teenage rebellion.

It has been a long time since I've been this excited about a corporate owned book. Yet if they keep this level of quality up and I'm going to be there for each and every issue.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Quick Comic Takes

Sabrina #64 - This issue tackles the Valentine holiday, as the kids deal with the pressure that romantic feelings at such a young age can bring. I was impressed by the complexity of emotions the kids felt, and the surprising twists that probably gave many readers what they wanted though with a ramifications that meant more than I would have suspected when the series started.

I really hope that Archie decides to collect these issues in digest form or something. Since these stories are offering some of the best romantic comedy stories in American comics right now.

We3 #3 - I picked this issue up cold after seeing a lot of praise around the blogosphere for it. I could appreciate the heart and imagination that went into it, as the classic put upon pets story is taken to different levels with the inclusion of cybernetic tinkering done to the poor animals.

It was a bit too reliant on the violence for my taste though, as the sheer amount of fighting put me off from the lovable "Gud Dog" and such parts that were happening.

Adam Strange #5 - The only real highlight of the issue to me was seeing the enigmatic Vril Dox of L.E.G.I.O.N. again. The rest read a bit too much like the prior issues "escape at the last minute" story which I'm growing a bit bored of now.

I hope the future issues speeds the plot up a lot more, rather than just another "action movie" story.

Legion of Super-Heroes #2 - This book has all of the elements that I've always wanted to see in a LSH book, but hadn't seen realized until now. Teens fighting for their own personal freedoms in a society that feels they know better. Is an imaginative new focus for the book's concept that stays true to the concept while adding a new dimension to it that makes it relevant for today.

The characters all have a unique personality, and I enjoy how they can disagree strongly but have a sense of connection that pulls them all together.

This issue had a fabulous take on Dreamer's powers that I hadn't seen before, that perfectly defines why she is what she is. Brainiac 5 is the cold intellect, but has a heart to him that makes you like him despite his ruff exterior.

I'm glad the series has such a large page count to give all these wonderful characters time to shine. I'm already a fan of all of the characters, which in a huge cast is hard to do for such a short time they've been around.

This has already become the one monthly superhero comic, since She Hulk is going on hiatus, that I'll try to pick up each month at the comic shops.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The CrossGen That Could Have Been

Ron Marz was the original writer, with George Perez on art, for "The War" miniseries which would have changed CrossGen Comics forever afterwards. Though he was replaced on the project when he left the company, he has said alot of the things in the later "Negation War #1" comic were close to his initial story outline.

At the link above he talks about some of the elements he would have had come to pass:

*Sam Rey would have led the combined "good guys," since he was the most powerful. Unfortunately, he gets his head blown off and dies early on. Kaine takes over leadership, but has to prove his worth since he's "un-powered."

*ALL of the First, and their home world, are wiped out in a heroic holding action -- the first time they ever rose above their petty bickering. The lone survivor is ... um, I can't remember his name. The Hunter guy.

*Arwyn gets drawn into the whole war, and has to be kept from killing Mordath for the greater good.

*All sigils would be gone, never to reappear. All "mentors" are either destroyed or reduced to "normal" beings without any special knowledge, powers, etc.

Interesting that they were getting rid of the sigils, which could have meant less of a sense of universe ties and purer looks at the genres each book strived for.

Today's Update

Sorry that I haven't had much to talk about the last few days, work has kept me busy with companies rushing to get the last of their W2s out before the January 31 deadline. I haven't had much time to read comics, and others (most on my favorite blog list) have already commented on the various comic news.

I spent the today in Huffman, Texas visiting some relatives. Where I made a great discovery at the Dearbrooke Mall, which had a comic shop inside the mall. The store wasn't overly large and for the most part they keep only stuff from the big publishers like Marvel, DC, Image and the like.

Yet the fact that a comic shop has such a great location to reach casual readers was something interesting to see. Given that every comic shop I've ever been too has been in outlet malls, usually in far out or rundown portions of the city.

While there I picked up Sabrina #64, Adam Strange #5, Legion of Super-Heroes #2 and WE3 #3. The first two I've been enjoying since they started, LSH #2 I liked the first issue and have seen a lot of praise for #2.

WE3 I've seen a ton of praise for, but I'm a bit nervous about given that I have no idea what to expect from the issue at all. Since I didn't read the first two issues and just have no idea what the book is about at all.

Of course the highlight of my trip wasn't the comic shop, it was finding the fantastic Barnes & Nobles store in the mall. It has its Graphic Novel section at the front of the store and had 8 full bookshelves worth, front and back, full of manga and just about every comic graphic novel I could think of.

It is the closest I've felt to giddiness for comics, since I first walked into a comic shop well over a decade ago. There I picked up Hikaru no Go 3 and Cheeky Angel 1 (happy Johanna?:) ) and can't wait to go back when I have more time and money!

Reviews on some of this stuff coming soon!