Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reviews of The Shadow Hero, The Maxx Maxximized and More

Things are absolutely on fire over at The Comics Alternative. If you haven't checked it out yet, please listen to Derek and Andy K.'s excellent interview with Gene Luen Yang. I think it's one of their best interviews of the year, maybe even in the podcast's history. 

Then feel free to check out my review of Yang's new graphic novel The Shadow Hero, featuring art by Sonny Liew. Trust me, you're gonna just kick yourself (or a brick wall) if you miss this one, so do pick it up soon. 


Finally, Derek and I discussed a new reissue from the 1990s called The Maxx Maxximized on a recent podcast. We also discussed a new #1 from Image, Supreme Blue Rose as well as two brand new Doctor Who titles. 

Happy reading/listening!

It's Wednesday... 7/23/14

In case you haven’t heard, it’s International Batman Day everywhere, and for me locally, at Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, MD. You don’t have to be in Gotham City to celebrate, so please enjoy Batman Day wherever you are!

While you’re celebrating, go to your local comic shop and check out these new releases:

Supreme Blue Rose #1 
Derek and I recently recorded our thoughts on this new Image title, so look for that episode over at The Comics Alternative later today. 


We also discussed two new Doctor Who titles featuring the tenth and eleventh doctors. Derek and I came at these titles from different backgrounds, so check out the podcast and see what you think. 

From everything I’ve heard, Afterlife with Archie #6 - which starts a new story arc - shows no signs of anything close to a dip in quality from creators Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla. These guys are incredible!

While I was on vacation last week, I read all three Saga trade paperbacks and was just knocked on my tookus. I don’t know if I can wait until the next collected edition, so I might just start picking up the single issues (although I suspect this is one of those titles better read in trades). Saga #21 comes out today. 

Next week, Derek and I will be discussing the rerelease of David Lapham’s 2000 graphic novel Murder Me Dead, a “harrowing tale of love and murder” that I’m looking forward to reading. 

Be sure to tell me what you plan to pick up today.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

March: Book Two Cover Revealed

The cover for the highly anticipated second volume of March was just revealed over at Small Press Expo. If you haven't read the first volume, head down to your local library or comic shop and pick this one up. March: Book One is nominated for several Eisner Awards and is almost sure to win at least one. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

SXSW 2014 Starter Pack Review Part III

Back in March, I purchased the SXSW 2014 Submit Starter Pack, 100 digital comics/graphic novels for 10 bucks. I thought it would be fun to review the entire bundle..... slowly, ten titles at a time. This is going to take several weeks months, so bear with me here. 

My rules: if it’s a more-or-less standard individual issue (roughly 32 pages), it gets a one-sentence review. If it’s a graphic novel or longer work, I’m allowed to write more. I’ll start each entry with the title and creators, the copy in italics as it appeared on ComiXology, followed by my review. Here we go - hope you enjoy it.

(Part I can be found here, Part II here.)

Deadhorse Vol. 1: Dead Birds
Eric Grissom, Phil Sloan

Collects Deadhorse: Dead Birds #1-6 and includes character sketches, pinups, deleted pages, and more. William Pike is a reclusive shut-in who comes into possession of a powerful key and becomes the target of an evil industrialist. When Pike learns the key may help solve the mystery behind his father's death, he embarks on a journey into the farthest reaches of Alaska while being pursued by a man in a plastic ape mask.

I’m not quite sure why Deadhorse works, but I was intrigued by the mystery of Pike’s father and thought the humor worked very well. The book tries to do a lot: mystery, adventure, suspense, action and comedy, and most of the time succeeds. I wouldn’t mind having this in book form and will certainly seek out more collections as they become available. 


Super! #1
Justin Platt, Zack Dolan

In this fabulous fifty-two page first issue, you'll thrown headfirst into the world of Super! You'll meet hapless heroes, vindictive villains, rampaging robots, malevolent mimes, and more superpowered action than you can shake a stick at... but don't shake a stick at it. It'll probably shoot you with a death ray!

Super! #1 certainly has all of the aforementioned qualities listed above, and while I understand its wanting to be something of a satire on the whole superhero genre, the concept wore out its welcome rather quickly. 


Rockstar Scientists #1
Kenny Jeffery, George Zapata

The King is dead. Long live the queen. Introducing El, the world's most famous star, on an Earth where scientists rather than musicians command the adoration of millions with wealth to match. Rarely affording them the respect they deserve but often saving the planet along the way. These adventurers and pioneers may not play guitar but they hit the notes and bang the drums that change the face of history.

This title is a much more literal and comedic version of the Beatles as scientists than is Eric Stephenson’s Nowhere Men, and far less effective. 


Afterlife Inc. Vol. 1: Dying To Tell: Tales from the Afterlife
John Lock, Jack Tempest, Del Borovic, Will Tempest, Roy Huteson Stewart, Ash Jackson, Jerry Gaylord

Under the leadership of its visionary CEO -- mostly reformed con-artist Jack Fortune -- AFTERLIFE INC. has brought big business beyond the pearly gates, dragging the Great Beyond firmly into the 21st Century. But as heaven comes to grips with Jack's vast Promethean dream for the future, so too must Jack and Co. cope with artificial intelligences, serial killers, invasions from beyond time and space... and the world's greatest (fictional) detective?! Written by Jon Lock, and illustrated by an amazing line-up of artists, DYING TO TELL: TALES FROM THE AFTERLIFE collects eight interconnected short stories from the world of AFTERLIFE INC. plus a host of special features including pin-ups, character profiles and the AFTERLIFE INC. NON-DENOMINATIONAL HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2011.

Something catastrophic has happened. The afterlife - now under the control of Jack Fortune, a strange man with a savage grin and an impossibly long red necktie - is anything you want it to be. Everyone gets a vote in a sort of a “build your own” afterlife. Interesting concepts, mainly one-shot collections with familiar characters such as Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes and many more. Drawn by various artists, the best of whom is Ash Jackson. Interesting concepts - definitely worth a look. 


Dumbing of Age Vol. 1: This Campus is a Friggin’ Escher Print
David Willis

It's Joyce's first day in public education, and everybody's first day in college.

Some good ideas, but I never really got into this Kickstarter webcomic that chronicles several first-year college students and their antics. The collection contains some funny moments, but I quickly grew tired of the same situations and gags. Even more, I got tired of the author’s interspersed commentary and asides. Others seem to love this title, so maybe it’s just not for me.


Diskordia #1
Andrew Blackman

The first chapter in the saga follows the hapless mysanthropic youth Jackal Black as reality falls apart around him in the most disturbing and shocking ways.

A largely incoherent, very adult Alice-in-Wonderland type of comic that has some merit (mainly in its art) and some potential, but ultimately there’s not enough story for me to grab onto in this first issue. 


Doc Unknown #1
Fabian Rangel, Jr., Ryan Cody

When evil threatens the citizens of Gate City, it's up to DOC UNKNOWN to stop them. In "Museum of Madness," Doc must prevent the monstrous mobster, Boss Snake, from stealing an enchanted statue. Things quickly go from bad to weird in this first installment of an exciting new pulp action adventure!

Fun homage to noir/pulp/superhero comics from ages past as the hero Doc Unknown takes on a villain named Boss Snake in what could very well be a promising series.


The Infidel, featuring Pigman #1
Bosch Fawstin

Twin brothers Killian Duke and Salaam Duka's Muslim background comes to the forefront of their lives on 9/11/01, with each responding to the atrocity in diametrically opposite ways. Killian creates a superhero comic book called Pigman, and Salaam fully submits to Islam. This issue goes from Ground Zero on 9/11 to the Mountains of the Hindu Kush as Pigman seeks vengeance.

Interesting controversial story of twin Muslim brothers who each take different paths after September 11. 


Orphans #1
Eric Palicki, Branco Jovanovic

Alexis Quinn is a uniquely 21st century Robin Hood, stealing technology from killers and redistributing it where it will do the most good.

Nice start to a action/adventure series that’s well worth a look. 


The Accelerators #1
R.F.I. Porto, Gavin P. Smith

Two time travelers, Alexa and Bertram, pursue each other through the decades in a deadly cat-and-mouse chase. She is the last survivor of a 1960s research project studying time travel; he is a soldier desperate to wipe out any trace of Alexa's research, including perhaps Alexa herself. Each of them is armed with a time machine, but these machines have a very special rule: They can only move forward in time, never backward. To save herself, Alexa must leap further and further into the future, with Bertram never far behind. Caught in the crossfire between Alexa and Bertram is Spatz, a teenager from the 1990s who tries to help Alexa but instead gets dragged along with her into another time. In this nightmarish future, everyone has their own personal time machine and people pass the time watching gruesome spectacles such as the Time Games, a gladiator-style death match that kidnaps unwitting combatants from throughout history and forces them to fight each other for sport. Now, they must survive the Time Games and escape from this surreal dystopia.

Time travel stories can certainly become very problematic very quickly - this one is no exception - but the story is fairly interesting and exciting.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's Wednesday... 7/9/14

And there's very little on my Wednesday radar this week, although I am interested in the new Justin Jordan/Kyle Strahm collaboration from Image, Spread #1. This week's email from Third Eye Comics says, "Imagine if John Carpenter's THE THING ate North America, and the world's salvation liked in the hands of the lead from Lone Wolf & Cub." 

In fact, the creators will be at Third Eye Comics this Saturday, 7/12/14. If you're in town, don't miss it. (You can also pick up this cool Third Eye variant and have it signed.)

I really enjoyed the first two or three issues of Rocket Girl, so I'm looking forward to reading this trade (which is only $9.99).

Happy reading!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Graphic Novels Read in June 2014 Part III

And here’s how I ended the month of June.... (All works with a + are part of the ongoing SXSW 2014 Starter Pack review series.)

+ Scam (2013) Joe Mulvey (Comix Tribe)

The ComiXology description reads, SCAM is "X-Men meets Oceans 11″ and involves a team of super-powered grifters on the biggest con of their lives...taking down a Vegas casino and getting revenge on a former teammate who double-crossed them. "It's better to die a conman, than live like a mark!"

I love tales about con men, grifters and the like, so Scam certainly piqued my interest. The story gets a little confusing at times, mainly because some of the characters look a little too much alike. Oceans 11 is a good comparison, so if you liked those films, I’d recommend this 5-issue volume. 


Thief of Thieves, Vol. 1: “I Quit.” (2012) Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer, Shawn Martinbrough (Image)

Conrad Paulson can steal anything, or I should say his alias “Redmond” can steal anything. Paulson would love nothing more than to quit his life of thievery, but his son wants to carry on his dad’s criminal tradition. Thief of Thieves is a fun series, but after reading a lot of Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips collaborations lately, it’s a little on the light side. 


Velvet, Vol. 1: Before the Living End (2014) Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting (Image)

See my review at The Comics Alternative podcast


Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse (J 2012) Nate Cosby, Chris Eliopoulos (Archaia)

You’ve never seen a bounty hunter quite like Cow Boy. He’s tough as nails, can shoot like nobody’s business, and might just put his entire family behind bars. You may find yourself laughing at many of Cow Boy’s situations, but don’t be surprised if you find a few sobering thoughts as well. One of the blurbs on the back cover suggests that Cow Boy is what would happen if Charles Schultz and Frank Miller collaborated. I’d say that’s fairly accurate. The book also includes short stories by Roger Langridge, Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Mike Mailhack and Colleen Coover. 


Basewood (2014) Alec Longstreth (Phase Seven)

Longstreth’s Kickstarter project is one of those quiet books that could easily slip past the attention of most people, but I don’t want that to happen. A man awakens in the woods with no memory of who or where he is. He meets an old hermit who lives in a treehouse with his dog, who constantly watch the skies for a deadly dragon. 

This is a wonderful book with gorgeous black-and-white art that deserves a wide readership. Derek and I will be discussing this book more on an upcoming interview with Longstreth on The Comics Alternative podcast, so stay tuned!


Criminal: The Deluxe Edition: Volume 2 (2012) Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips

There’s nobody doing crime noir quite like Brubaker and Phillips. Each of the three story arcs stands alone, yet they all contain interconnected characters, making for an entire Criminal universe that demands to be read as one large unit. If you haven’t read it, pick up the first deluxe edition. 


Rachel Rising, Vol. 4: Winter Graves (2014) Terry Moore

I recently read that Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising will soon come to an end, which is disappointing, but inevitable, I suppose. Moore has the ability to write meaningful stories about people and relationships, as he did so superbly with Strangers in Paradise, but by adding in horror elements - and not just horror-for-horror’s-sake, but horror with a disturbing (yet sometimes comedic) impact - he’s created one of the best horror titles in years. 


Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus (1966-67/2011) R. Macherot (Fantagraphics)

All is well in the peaceful French countryside until the rat Ratticus decides to overthrow Sibyl-Anne’s quiet animal community. He enlists the help of a starving rat population, promising freedom and an unlimited food supply. Originally published in the 1960s in France and Belgium, Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus is one of those titles that can be enjoyed as a fun adventure romp and as political/cultural satire. Well worth a look. 


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It's Wednesday... 7/2/14

Same as last week, I'm only looking at a few things this Wednesday. The only thing I definitely plan to snag is the one-shot Ditko Kirby Wood, a tribute to Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and Wally Wood by Sergio Ponchione. 

Southern Bastards #3 continues what has to be one of the strongest titles of 2014. This is one you don't want to wait for in trade paperback. 

Finally, I'd love to see what crazy things Gilbert Hernandez does with noir in this collection of - oddly enough - color comics, collecting Grip: The Strange World of Men #1-5. Dark Horse slates today as the release date for Grip, but Amazon is silent on it. We shall see...