Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

Girl Genius!

May 3, 2005 Comments off

One of the many comic books I bought when the collections came out was GIRL GENIUS, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio, with Phil also doing the art. It was a story of this sort-of engineering/mad scientist in training student named Agatha Clay in a sort-of 19th century steam-tech airship fantasy world.

Anyway, they published three collections, and I got them and read them and loved them, and then heard through the grapevine that they were going to stop publishing. And, lo, that sucked. But it was false! They’re going to start publishing only the collections, and the new material is going to be posted on the web for free! And the older material is going to be posted to the web for free, too, so people can get hooked on the series, too!

Girl Genius!

Clicky on the linky, and start in on Girl Genius 101, and see what I’m fussing about. :-)

Categories: Comics, Linky Tags:

Top 100

April 25, 2005 3 comments

When I got to the local comic book place over the weekend, the owner was pacing out front, talking on his cordless phone. One of his more fervent lackeys was patrolling the store, and sprang into action when I asked for the contents of my pull box (BONEYARD VOL. 4 TP and LEGEND OF GRIMJACK VOL. 2 TP. Good week).

“You want one of these?” he asked, waving a photocopy at me.

I said sure. I got home, and it’s a list of the top 100 comic book trade paperbacks of… well, there is no time frame listed. There’s no criteria listed for what the ranking is, either. I assumed sales, but who knows.

Anyway, I thought it’d be interesting (for me, at least) to post the list here, and then cross out the ones I actually have. So, without further ado…

  1. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
  2. Watchmen
  3. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  4. Sandman: Season of Mists
  5. Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 1
  6. Batman: Year One
  7. Daredevil: Born Again
  8. Marvels
  9. Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
  10. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
  11. The Golden Age
  12. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  13. Swamp Thing: Saga of the Swamp Thing
  14. Miracleman: Olympus
  15. The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
  16. Top Ten Book 1
  17. Magnus, Robot Fighter: Steel Nation
  18. Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2
  19. Hawkworld
  20. Preacher: Proud Americans
  21. The Books of Magic
  22. Squadron Supreme
  23. Superman for All Seasons
  24. Death: The High Cost of Living
  25. Fantastic Four: The Trial of Galactus
  26. Solar, Man of the Atom: Alpha and Omega
  27. Sin City: That Yellow Bastard
  28. Spider-Man: Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut
  29. Daredevil: Yellow
  30. Astro City: Confessions
  31. Torso
  32. Bone: The Great Cow Race
  33. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  34. 300
  35. Pedro and Me
  36. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
  37. Planetary: The Fourth Man
  38. Neil Gaiman’s Midnight Days
  39. Banner
  40. Kingdom Come
  41. Akira Vol. 1
  42. 100 Bullets: Hang Up on the Down Low
  43. Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne
  44. Usagi Yojimbo: Circles
  45. New X-Men: E is for Extinction
  46. Hellblazer: Hard Time
  47. Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson
  48. Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Other Stories
  49. StormWatch: A Finer World
  50. The Power of Iron Man
  51. The Authority: Under New Management
  52. Box Office Poison
  53. Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits
  54. Animal Man
  55. Strangers In Paradise: I Dream of You
  56. Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga
  57. Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom: Triumph and Torment
  58. JLA: New World Order
  59. Earth X
  60. Infinity Gauntlet
  61. Justice League: A New Beginning
  62. X-Force: New Beginnings
  63. Jinx
  64. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
  65. Silver Surfer: The Rebirth of Thanos
  66. Avengers: Under Siege
  67. Daredevil: The Man Without Fear
  68. Captain America: War and Remembrance
  69. Wolverine
  70. Fortune and Glory
  71. Goldfish
  72. Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl
  73. Punisher: Circle of Blood
  74. Whiteout
  75. Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage
  76. Batman: The Long Halloween
  77. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Collected Book Vol. 1
  78. JLA: Earth 2
  79. Avengers: Ultron Unlimited
  80. Crisis On Infinite Earths
  81. Obergeist: Director’s Cut
  82. Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn
  83. Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood
  84. The Coffin
  85. Nightwing Vol. 4
  86. Batman: Dark Victory
  87. Ultimate X-Men: The Tomorrow People
  88. Incredible Hulk: Ground Zero
  89. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  90. American Flagg: Hard Times (on order, though)
  91. Wolverine: Blood Debt
  92. Cerebus: High Society
  93. The Adventures of Tony Millionaire’s Sock Monkey
  94. Batman: Haunted Knight
  95. X-Men: From the Ashes
  96. The Complete Concrete
  97. Spider-Man vs. Venom
  98. Batman/Dracula: Red Rain
  99. The Red Star
  100. Batman: Faces

Categories: Blathering, Comics Tags:

January ’05 Previews Order

January 30, 2005 Comments off

Over six months ago, I did a blog entry listing listing my Previews order for that month. While the follow-up posts I meant to do reviewing the books never got written (best of that month: 100 BULLETS, BONE: CROWN OF HORNS, FINDER: MYSTERY DATE, KANE 3, PERSEPOLIS 2, SUSPENDED IN LANGUAGE and URSULA), I thought it’d be fun to do another post summarizing my latest order.

Yes, this is comic book stuff. I am a geek. Nerd. Whatever.

Naturally, it’s taken me so long to get going on writing this that I’ve already turned in my Previews order and tossed the catalog in the recycling bin, so I’m going off my withered memory and whatever I can Google up.

86 VOLTZ: DEAD GIRL – I confess, I don’t have the highest hopes for this. I’m not expecting it to be True Art or a landmark achievement. However, I really like Oeming’s art — he’s the artist for POWERS, which I really like, whenever TPBs make it out. Anyway… the ad copy isn’t very clear, but since that didn’t deter me from promising to fork over $6 for a copy, I can’t bitch too much. It sounds something like a girl, brought back to life with a lightning bolt, with a bad case of amnesia and a grudge match with a witch and her… evil fetus? Evil fetus? Right.

100% TP – I said this the last time I wrote about Paul Pope, but it bears repeating: His art is unlike anything else I’ve seen in comics, and I think it’s a fantastic style. 100% is a black & white science-fiction romance multi-story arc extravaganza. I was looking at my copies of the issues a month or so ago and wondering if DC was ever going to get around to issuing a TPB for this. And here it is.

FABLES: THE MEAN SEASONS TP – To sum up for those who haven’t heard of it, FABLES is the story of fairy tale characters who have been chased out of their mythic lands by The Adversary (true identity unknown) into the real world, where they live in exile in New York City, hoping for a return some day to their homelands. It’s a lot of fun, and sort of retro-nostalgia. All the characters from your childhood, rejiggered to be something you can read about now that you’re all growed up, at least physically.

FILLER GN – More crime noir type stuff that I enjoy so much. The main character is filler. He stands in the police lineups as one of the control group. And then, all of a sudden, he’s picked out of the lineup. And like that, it’s off to the races. The writer and artist team from TEENAGERS FROM MARS, and the artist also did the two COURIERS books… which I don’t think anyone reading this besides me has actually read. So, hey, I’m talking to myself here.

It looks like I’ll be ordering Black Diamond when that comes out. ::sigh:: Same publisher. That’s how I ran across the ad.

FLIGHT VOL. 2 FLIGHT VOL. 1 was a full-color anthology with all the pieces having something to do with the theme of flight. I hadn’t heard of any of the artists. I ordered it anyway. Sort of a gamble. It was fantastic. Now, vol. 2 is coming out. I’ve actually heard of some of the people. I’ve seen the awesome cover. I’ve read the pretty preview (image-heavy page behind that link, in case you couldn’t guess). I can’t wait to get my hands on the actual book.

HIPIRA: THE LITTLE VAMPIRE I’ll do the short version. It’s a story about a young vampire, by the author of AKIRA, done with a style reminiscent of NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Penny will be read stories like no other kid her age. Well, aside from the kids whose parents allow them to come over to our house more than once.

MAGE VOL. 1: THE HERO DISCOVERED TP – I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a good web site for MAGE that didn’t blow the end of the story, or have a crappy purple background, but the Web has turned to shit in the past few years. Anyway. This collects the first arc of Matt Wagner’s semi-autobiographical-except-for-the-wild-fantasy-parts series, MAGE. I’ve wanted to read the whole series for about, oh, eight years. The first ‘collected’ edition was in a series of six 40 page booklets about five years ago that were really, ah… not up to the caliber I was looking for. I emailed Matt Wagner and asked if there were plans to issue a real collection of the series, and he wrote back saying, essentially "Not until we sell out of the current printings!" So, five years later… I guess he lives okay off the money from the GRENDEL collections.

NEGATIVE BURN WINTER 2005 – NEGATIVE BURN was an anthology that came out from now-defunct CALIBER COMICS, and is apparently on the comeback. I always feel a little squirmy ordering an anthology, because it’s by default a mixed bag. However, the list of names attached to this has me ready to give the first new issue a try.

NEOTOPIA POCKET MANGA VOL. 3 TP – Again, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a good web site for the NEOTOPIA series, but the Web sucks. In summary (Karen, let me know if I get anything wrong), NEOTOPIA is a series about a girl whose uncanny resemblence to the princess or duchess or something is taken advantage of by the princess/duchess/whatever by having the girl take the royal’s place in her boring lessons, while she flits around doing whatever she wants. And then there’s a kidnapping… it’s a really great, young adult type series, with talking dolphins and sort of bat creature pilots and a faerie that’s… right about when Penny’s nine or ten, I think she’ll really enjoy this. Or think I’m incredibly lame for thinking she’d like it. One of the two.

NIKOLAI DANTE: THE GREAT GAME – The first NIKOLAI DANTE collection was just a hoot. I even got Liz to read some of it, and she thought it was funny, too, so I’m not out on my own. Nikolai Dante is a womanizing thief who gets accidentially bonded to a bioweapon, and reluctantly adopted into the Romanov clan that rules a futuristic Russia. I’m hoping for more of the same.

PLANETARY: LEAVING THE 20TH CENTURY – New PLANETARY! It’s been a dog’s age since the last collection came out, it seems. Finally… I can’t wait to see what I’ve missed.

PROMETHEA BOOK 4 TP – I need to re-read the PROMETHEA trades we have in-house. I’ve completely forgotten where they left off. PROMETHEA started out looking like a bit of a Wonder Woman knock-off, but Alan Moore quickly threw everything all topsy-turvy, and the book became a stage for him to show off some of the most innovative page layouts and plots that I’ve seen in a while. And the story is pretty damn gripping, too.

QUEEN & COUNTRY VOL. 7: OPERATION SADDLEBAGS – Yet another book that doesn’t have a good page. Tara Chace is a British secret agent. She doesn’t live a James Bond life. The plots in this book get bleak and bleaker. The weak link in the series is that they get a new artist with every story arc, and I’m never quite sure how I’ll like whoever’s handling the chores when I get a new collection. I have high hopes, though, because I know that I’ll love the writing.

RISING STARS: FIRE AND ASH TP – J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of BABYLON 5 started this series, oh, years ago. And then about three issues from the end the series stopped being published, because of some rancor between JMS and the publisher (Top Cow). Things eventually got ironed out, because the last issues finally came out, and here’s the last collection. I had really, really high hopes for this, and I don’t know if it’s going to live up to them, but I’m glad I at least won’t be left hanging forever wondering how it was supposed to end.

SAMURAI EXECUTIONER VOL. 5 – Manga from the same writer/artist team that did LONE WOLF & CUB, this is about about the samurai’s sword tester and executioner, Kubikiri Asa, or Decapitator Asaemon. It’s more crime and punishment oriented than LW&C was, with a much more gruesome and vile cast of characters (a fair number of which don’t survive to the end of the volume they’re introduced in). This reminds me, since the start of the new year, the manga I get, and only the manga, has arrived at the comic store shrink-wrapped, and with a mature readers sticker on the cover, under the shrink-wrap. Did some new law get passed when I wasn’t paying attention? Or is this just preparation for what the Republicans might get up to soon?

Categories: Comics Tags:

Warren Ellis on From Hell

September 1, 2004 3 comments

I remembered seeing this quote, and then lost it for too long, so I’m sticking it here in case I want to find it again.

"The book is almost always better than the movie. You could have no better case in point than FROM HELL, Alan Moore’s best graphic novel to date, brilliantly illustrated by Eddie Campbell. It’s hard to describe just how much better the book is. It’s like, "If the movie was an episode of Battlestar Galactica with a guest appearance by the Smurfs and everyone spoke Dutch, the graphic novel is Citizen Kane with added sex scenes and music by your favourite ten bands and everyone in the world you ever hated dies at the end." That’s how much better it is."

From his Slashdot interview.

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Free Cerebus

August 3, 2004 Comments off

(Meme from Neil Gaiman’s journal)

Dave Sim wrote and drew Cerebus. It’s over now, all 300 issues of it. Somewhere in the 140s or 160s or so, he did what Neil Gaiman calls "easily the best parody of Sandman anyone’s ever done, as various members of the Cerebus cast of characters become Snuff, Swoon and the rest of the Clueless."

You probably haven’t seen Snuff, Swoon, and the rest of the Clueless. Cerebus only had a readership of a few thousand or so at the end, so I’m playing the numbers here. If you want to read it, though, here’s the offer. All you have to do is write Dave Sim an actual, honest-to-goodness paper-and-(writing implement of your choice) letter saying that you read on the Internet that he’d send you a signed copy of one of the Sandman parody issues, and say in the letter why you’d like him to send you a copy.

That’s it. You do that, post the letter to:
Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc.
P.O. Box 1674 Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

And Dave Sim signs a comic and sends it to you. He doesn’t even charge you postage.

I’ve read the parody (if you get the phonebook collections, it’s in Women), and I’m tempted to write in just to get the signed issue.

And, yes, I can’t sleep right now. Pity me once morning comes.

Categories: Comics Tags:

Previews Order

May 28, 2004 5 comments

So, to try to make more room for Penny, before she was born, I/we (really, it’s me, since Liz buys about 1 comic for every 10-15 I buy) decided to stop buying the regular floppy single issue comics, and exclusively get trade paperbacks (TPBs) and original graphic novels (OGNs) from then on. This saves us space, since bookshelves fit in better than long boxes. Also, when we get TPBs of comics I had in issues, I get to take the issues out of the long boxes, and earmark them for another fate (donation to the library for the tamer ones, probably the recycling bins for the more freaky ones).

(for the un-nerdy, a long box is a box to put comics in. It’s as tall as a comic book (10 inches?), as wide as a comic book (6/7 inches?) and about three feet long, made of thick cardboard. Sort of like a very large shoebox.)

So, I’m glad I’m still getting comics regularly, but I miss doing the intermittent posts on El Blog with my weekly haul, since most weeks I only get one or two items. I’ve hit on the idea that what I can do is blog (at least this once) my monthly Previews order, and comment on that. And, if I do enthusiastic enough comments, maybe some Faithful Reader out there will pick up a comic they otherwise might wouldn’t have…

One last thing, also for the un-nerdy. Previews is a 300+ page catalogue of the comics that are coming out in two months time. Every month I get one, read through it, find stuff I think that looks interesting, mark out my orders, and then hand a sheet with my order on it to my Friendly Neighborhood Comic Shop. Two months (or more) later, the books I pre-ordered start hitting the shelves, and a copy gets tucked away for me in my subscriber’s box. I pre-order because it makes sure that my store gets books in that I want, because oftentimes I’m not ordering the mainstream fare, and if I don’t pre-order it, my comic book shop probably won’t be getting a copy. It sort of sucks (can you imagine having to do this at Barnes & Noble?), but this is the way the comic book industry runs, and I’m not going to be changing it.

So, anyway, my list:

100 BULLETS: SAMURAI I’ve read the first part of this collection in issue form back when I was still buying single issues, and the rest of it is all new! So many comics read better in larger chunks, than in the standard 24 page blocks, it’s great to read it that way for the first time. The original synopsis for 100 BULLETS was that a man, Agent Graves, would approach someone, identify the person who caused a tragedy in the approached’s life, and then hand them a briefcase with a gun and 100 bullets. Anyone using the bullets is above the law. What do they do? As the series progressed, it was revealed there was a lot more going on than one old man an a supply of briefcases. The crime genre has had wider representation in comics than anything except superheroes (of course), and 100 BULLETS is one of the best crime titles out. Also, the writer has said the series has a set ending, on the 100th issue which… I like that, because it means each issue isn’t just marking time, it’s progression towards an end.

BLACKSHIRT Vol. 1: I got hooked by the concept. I sort of know who the writer is from various comics message boards, and he seems like a smart guy who could tell a good story. I don’t get to go out and see action movies, so I read boy’s adventure action comics.

BONE VOL. 9: CROWN OF HORNS: This is the last of the Bone collections. Story’s over. There’s no way I don’t get this. I’ve loved Bone ever since I picked up the first collection on Braz’s recommendation. And now that BONE is done, Jeff Smith, the creator/writer/artist is going to… do a Captain Marvel miniseries. Seriously. :-P

CARNET DE VOYAGE: This is Craig Thompson’s sketchbook for his travels through Europe. Craig Thompson’s first book was GOODBYE, CHUNKY RICE, which was really widely acclaimed, and…. eh. I wasn’t hooked. His next book BLANKETS came out years later, and was similarly widely acclaimed, so I put off getting it for a while. I hadn’t really liked the other, so… there were other books. Eventually, I bought a copy, and it was very, very good. Very good. So now, naturally, I’m getting the next thing he’s putting out, even though it’s just a sketchbook and travelogue. I hope it doesn’t suck.

CITIES OF THE FANTASTIC: THE INVISIBLE FRONTIER: There’s a sort of weirdness characteristic of European science fiction that I love when it’s done right. A sort of fantasticness, for lack of a better word. The first volume of this series had it in spades. Roland is a freshly graduated cartographer, who’s ends up at the Center for Cartography in Sodrovno-Voldachia. The Center is massive. No one leaves. All the needs of the cartographers are provided for. There’s a strange plot hatching at the Center, and the military leader of Sodrovno-Voldachia is involved. And Roland is fascinated by one of the woman at the center, who appears to have a kind of map covering her lower back… Volume 1 ended right when the pace started accelerating. I’m hoping Volume 2 lives up to my hopes.

FINDER VOL. 6: MYSTERY DATE: The link goes to a long interview with the creator/writer/artist, Carla Speed McNeil. The solicitation for Mystery Date is a real winner. To quote a bit: "Ever have a crush on a teacher? Ever had a crush on two teachers at once? Remember what it was like to be young enough to think it’s love and not just hormones? Got fond memories of college life after having been sold as a child to a pleasure garden? No? Vary does." FINDER is one of the most fantastic comics I’ve ever found, and McNeil is a fantastic writer/artist. If Volume 7 of FINDER is subtitled "Grass Growing, Paint Drying," I’m still ordering a copy.

FOLLOWING CEREBUS #1 ::sigh:: I can’t help myself. This is a magazine all about Cerebus. Essays, interviews, etc. I probably won’t get #2 unless #1 really knocks my socks off. I keep feeling if I read the whole Cerebus story, Sim’s recent beliefs will somehow make sense, instead of being simply repellent.

KANE, VOL. 3: HISTORIES KANE is fantastic. Kane is a cop. When the series started, he was being reinstated after killing his partner. His fellow cops welcomed him back by handing him some bullets with his name engraved on them. But it’s not all grim and gritty. The second book has a long story arc with a man in a big pink bunny suit. There are lots of bad jokes. And the creator/writer/artist (which I really should just abbreviate to c/w/a as often as I’m typing it here) Paul Grist has a know-it-anywhere art style that I really like.

THE MAXX: BOOK 3: I really didn’t like THE MAXX when it first came out. KT liked it, and got the issues. The art drove me nuts. It was weird. Loopy. But over time, I got it. It was sort of a leap, going from the standard mostly-realistic (but not really) comic book art to this expressionistic, wild style that Sam Kieth does. And now, I’m snapping up the trades, almost a decade after the series ended.

PERSEPOLIS 2: STORY OF A RETURN: Another sequel. Hopefully, unlike in movies, the sequel is as good as the original! PERSEPOLIS was the autobiographical story of the author’s life growing up in Iran, first under the Shah, and then under the Islamic regime. It’s fascinating to read an account of such a life, the naive innocence of youth tinged with budding horror as she grows to understand more and more what’s going on around her. Volume 1 ended with her securing a visa to Paris. I can’t wait to see what it takes to bring her back, and what she finds when she does.

PIRATES: It’s a $6 hardcover with lots of pictures of pirates and talk about pirates. I can’t pass it up.

SEBASTIAN O: Grant Morrison writes really far out, weird stuff, and I love it. Even when I don’t get it. I think I need to re-read THE FILTH about four more times before I fully catch up to everything that’s going on. This is a collection of a short series he did 10+ years ago, with some ultraviolence, alternate history Victorian setting, and witty dialogue. What’s not to like?

SUSPENDED IN LANGUAGE: Okay, listen up science nerd friends of mine. If you’re out there, and you’re still reading this, I’ll let you borrow this when I get it, so you can find out for certain that you want a copy. It’s the story of Niels Bohr. The writer, Jim Ottaviani, is fantastic. If you want proof, I’ll lend you FALLOUT, which is the story of the Manhattan project, focusing on Robert Oppenheimer. Or DIGNIFYING SCIENCE, which is about women in science. Or TWO-FISTED SCIENCE, which is true short stories about science. I can’t recommend any of this stuff strongly enough.

URSULA Another book that hooked me through it’s solicitation. "Once upon a time, there was a story. A love story. Different listeners will hear different things from the love story; for some, it might be a tale of journeys and rites of passage and battles won and foes vanquished and happily-ever-after. For other listeners, it might be a story about dreams and desires, for all is simple, beautiful and magical when you’re young and in love. But once upon a time…. there was a story, and listen to me now: it was a love story." It doesn’t say anything in specific, but I like what it says enough to promise my money for it.

VAGABOND VOL. 13 The continuing story of Miyamoto Musashi, author of The Five Rings, from his origins as Takezo, a wild, cold-blooded killer. There isn’t a really good single page for the series, so instead, have a link to Buzzer Beater, a free comic online by the same artist, about basketball. Basketball against aliens. Yeah, it loads a little slow, the site’s hosted in Japan. Go figure.

Categories: Comics Tags:

Weekly Haul

July 23, 2003 1 comment

Well, since Karen did it, I’ve thought about doing another "These are the comics I done bought" entry, especially since last week was pretty light for me (FABLES, the last HUNTER: AGE OF MAGIC, and QUEEN & COUNTRY), but I put it off until this week, and wouldn’t you know it, a whole buncha stuff came in. Not much to do but bite the bullet, I guess, and dig in.

GLOBAL FREQUENCY #9: We’re heading into the home stretch of this 12 issue series, and it really hasn’t diverged much from its initial concept. Global Frequency is an organization of 1,001 specialists from around the world who are called on to fix ugly, nasty problems, and to understand why warped, twisted things have happened. Every issue stands alone, tells its story, and then is gone. I’d hoped that it would all somehow tie together, but at the moment there’s no sign of that. This issue, a GF agent who’s trying to leave the organization before he goes completely insane from what he’s had to see is called on for one last mission. A medical facility specializing in experimental methods and procedures has gone completely quiet, and no one who’s gone in has come out again. The artist changes with every issue, and this issue’s penciller, Lee Bermejo, is quite good. The writing is solid as usual, and has its mix of weird social horror blended with modern science-almost-fiction.

METAL HURLANT #7: I’m going to be sort of glad at the end of the month when we drop all our single issues, because that’ll give me a good excuse to drop this. In what’s going to apparently be the theme for my commentary for the issues section of this entry, I’m not finding the short, single-blast stories in METAL HURLANT as interesting as I should in order to to keep buying it. None of it’s bad, but as an anthology, there’s not enough here that’s truly gripping to keep me buying it month after month. That, and the editorials, with their "You Americans…" tone are getting on my nerves.

RELOAD #3: The conclusion to the miniseries. The President’s been assassinated, the Secret Service agent learns from the assassin the mob runs the country, and… blah. I’m bloody tired of pop comics. All bang and flash, not enough depth to get my feet wet. Very pretty, though.

CAIN: No, there’s no link for this one, I couldn’t find one I liked. It was originally published in Spanish, and this is the English translation from SAF Comics. Set in the future, Cain is found when he and his twin brother are dumped as infants onto a garbage dump. Who are his parents, why did they dump him there… I bought this because of the Eduardo Risso art, which I’ve grown to like quite a bit. The plot was good enough, but fairly one-two-three straightforward. No real regrets at $10, though.

DEATH: AT DEATH’S DOOR: A shoujo-manga style story in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman setting, during the Season of Mists story. Explanations follow. Manga is a term for Japanese comics, and shoujo manga is manga written and drawn to appeal to young/early-teen girls, but can also include manga for late teens/young women. And summarizing Sandman would be a real task in and of itself, so I’ll simply give you a link to a site that does just that and move on. I got this because I have a horrible weakness for new Sandman-related stuff, even though shoujo manga in quantity drives me straight up a wall. Also, it was reasonably cheap — $10. The plot is that when Lucifer closes Hell, and turns its ownership over to Dream, some of the expelled damned come to Death’s house, looking to be sent on. Death’s sisters, Delirium and Despair decide the perfect distraction is to throw a party. Pizza delivery guys and demons show up later, for the entertainment of all. Since the story has to work in fairly precise confines, with a predetermined outcome, the characters have a limited range to develop in. I’m not sure if the establishing pieces showing the events in Season of Mists were really needed. I liked it overall, but parts of it do leave me cold. The exaggeration in behavior and artistic shorthand of shoujo manga are quite present, and made my teeth ache about the standard amount. That said, I enjoyed the overall story, and got a good laugh at some parts (Despair’s admirer at the party, the pizza guy, the demons…). Available for loaning on request. :-)

SWITCHBLADE HONEY: Now this is a riot. The summary of the concept is Dirty Dozen in space. It’s a fucking riot. I loved it. If this was what Warren Ellis was going to do as Pop Comics, I’d be on board all the way. I enjoy single-shot spined self-contained stories a lot more in a collected volume than in three issues, over three+ months.

WILL EISNER’S HAWKS OF THE SEAS: Pirates! Really only enjoyable for someone who likes pirate adventure. It was originally published in the mid-to-late 1930s in strip form, so the art isn’t as wide-open awesome as it could be (it is Will Eisner), and the story is (as noted in the introduction) fairly amateur, but it’s still a lot of fun, and I had a blast reading it.

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Sandwalk Adventures

May 15, 2003 1 comment

Sandwalk Adventures

As the back cover summary says, SANDWALK ADVENTURES is a comic book about Charles Darwin and the conversations he has with Mara, the follicle mite living in his left eyebrow. Can he convince her that he’s not a deity who created life and all the species of the world? Hopefully that theory of natural selection he’s developed will help out some…

This is just a fantastic science comic book. Amazon pegs it as being for ages 9-12, but really 9 and up would be a better targeting. A 9 year old should be able to grasp all the concepts discussed in the book (and appreciate the full humor of the follicle mites wondering why they have no butts), but I can’t see them carefully perusing the endnotes once they’re done.

Hosler reminds me of Larry Gonick’s CARTOON HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE with the way he sneaks humor into the narrative, keeping things from being dry recitation of facts. Although, really. It’s Darwin talking to a follicle mite in his eyebrow. Hopefully you don’t me to point out the humor inherent in the situation.

This fabulous book shows that the first science comic Hosler did — CLAN APIS, the biography of a honey bee named Nyuki — was no fluke. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

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Galactus Blogs

May 6, 2003 1 comment

Galactus!  Destroyer of worlds!

What if Galactus watched Dr. Phil. And IMed with the Watcher. And, uh, had a blog.

Galactus’s blog

Obviously, the idea of a comic book character writing a blog is something I find too funny to pass up mentioning. I wonder if the Victorian literature crowd has anything similar.

Probably not.

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April 26, 2003 2 comments

(Click on the picture for a large version of the cover)

From the back cover: In the early 21st century, the space shuttle Venture has suddenly returned to Earth after disappearing ten years ago …its crew missing — save for the catatonic pilot — with new instrumentation, new engines, and covered in something very much like skin. And with Martian sand in the landing gear.

As the foreword makes clear, this was written and mostly completed before Columbia was lost in re-entry. That said, the current status of the space program makes this even more applicable now than it would have been before.

It is not a realistic tale. It is nothing like GLOBAL FREQUENCY, where the protagonists are regular people — incredibly skilled people, but people nonetheless. ORBITER is solidly science-fiction. It is not a blueprint for how the space program should go, nor does it ever pretend that is what it’s about. It is about the sense of incredible possibilities that space exploration holds. About a whole solar system waiting to be looked at up close.

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