Sunday, September 29, 2013

Indie Corner - 10/02/13

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

If you're not reading the Villains micro series, or really any of the micro series, you're missing out.  While the cover says issue 26, it's really more like 40 with the two micro series factored in.  The two go hand-in-hand, immediately evident by fallout from the Hun issue in the opening pages, and later, a reference to the Donatello issue.

The Foot are making moves while everyone else is merely making plans and gearing up.  Leo gives us hope that he'll soon break the reconditioning that has made him a follower of Shredder.  Angel hints at change and internal strife within the Purple Dragons, stemming from the events of Hun.  Mike checks in with an old friend and gets a possible lead on Leo and the Foot's whereabouts.  Donnie checks in with an old friend of his own, and with the help of April, acquires some tech that will aid in their assault on Shredder.  The Foot attack and devastate an unprepared Savate, though Karai grows increasingly insubordinate.  Splinter begrudgingly works with Old Hob, to further Hob's plans, in return for his help when Splinter and the Turtles attempt a rescue of Leo.  And Raph sees Casey in the hospital, easing Raph's guilt over what happened that put Casey there.

That's a lot to cover in a single issue, but all of it flows well together and is a natural extension of the preceding issues.  Nearly every cast member makes an appearance, all with their own goals and agendas.  No room for slouches here.  All of it gorgeously illustrated by Mateus Santolouco, one of the new favorite artists.  It's my understanding he'll be the main artist for the series through issue 50, and I couldn't be happier.

My newest favorite series.  If I could have one favorite series for each week of the month, I'd be in comic heaven.  I don't know what sales are like, but I haven't seen anyone talking about this except +Bleeding Cool.  I'd easily recommend this to all kinds of people, especially fans of anime.  It has that feel to it.

Anyway, in the book, we managed wreak most of the face of the Earth through war and nuclear weapons, and now people live in fleets of planes in the sky, or mountain tops.  Great writing, fantastic art, and I really don't have anything else to say except to please try this book.

Kurtis J. Wiebe is someone whose work I have an interest in.  Debris was great, though I wish the series were an ongoing instead of a mini series.  Peter Panzerfaust is amazing.  If you haven't checked it out, you definitely should.  I've heard great things about Green Wake, and I may even own it, though I haven't read it yet.  And Grim Leaper was great, with an added bonus that it was drawn by a friend of mine.  So I'll try anything new from him based on his past work.  But this didn't grab me.

Rat Queens is a fantasy book starring four women known for their destructive tendencies.  Mildly reminiscent of Northlanders, but only in the sense that there are non-modern characters speaking like they are modern characters.  Overall, it gave me the sense of trying too hard to be something it's not.  I recommend Peter Panzerfaust instead.

The beginning and the end.  Things come to a head for all members of The Upotian's family.  Issue four will jump ahead nine years, so we can see the fallout from decisions made here, and I'm looking forward to seeing just how screwed up things become.  While I'm generally not a Millar fan, Quitely could illustrate and instruction manual and I'd want to read it.  This feels like Millar might be maturing.  While he still goes for the occasional shock value, this isn't as immediately offensive as something like Wanted or Nemesis.  I'm looking forward to seeing what happens, not only in the future, but back on that island all those years ago.

Niles and Mitten are back for the latest mini series - The Eyes of Frankenstein.  Christopher Mitten does an excellent job crafting the dark world Cal inhabits, with colors by Michelle Madsen adding a wonderful touch that's missing from some of Mitten's black-and-white work.

The re-cap on the credits page covers a good amount of ground people unfamiliar with Cal will need to jump into the series.  The only things left out are the recreational drug use and Cal's current state as a sort-of ghoul, though this gets touched on within the comic itself.

Preview pages for this issue involve Cal meeting Frankenstein's monster, whom is going blind.  But this is actually the end of the issue.  Prior to this, we're shown two additional situations Cal will have to deal with, though he's only aware of one.  Needless to say, Cal's going to have his hands full.  It's a great start to the series, and I know I'll be along for the ride.

I read this a few days ago, and was just flipping through it again now trying to figure out what to write when I saw "Royal Baby Bump?" on a TV in the background of a panel.  This is why I love the book.  Saga is a story of imperfect people trying to live their lives as best they can, with gorgeous, expressive art by Fiona Staples, set against an incredible sci-fi backdrop.  With sometimes hilariously ridiculous things, like flying sharks and a baby seal in overalls harvesting plants, and tiny background details you may not even see the first time you read it.  You either get it or you don't.

Final issue!  Also the first.  The credits page reveals that "This is an limited-edition sneak peek of the first book of Battling Boy." A few weeks back, my shop had a preview copy of Battling Boy which reminded me I had missed this when it was published back in July.  This is Pope at his best.  The characters and world immediately come alive, and the story isn't just read and seen, but felt.  If I weren't already looking forward to Battling Boy, this issue would have done the job.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Indie Corner - 09/25/2013

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

Zero 01
The book everyone's been talking about, and for good reason.  30 pages, no ads.  All action, intrigue, and drama from start to finish.  It's books like this that people break out the word "taut" for, since there's not a single wasted panel or word in this book.  I've heard Ales Kot's name get thrown around for the last year, but this is my first exposure to him.  From now on I'll be paying closer attention.  The art is by Michael Walsh, and though the artist will change for each issue of the series, he does an excellent job illustrating the action and the few quiet moments.  Highly recommended, and for only $2.99 you really can't go wrong.

Regular series artist Dan Schoening does the back-up in this issue, with Doc Shaner handling the main story.  Shaner's not bad, but it came as a shock upon opening the cover.  It's just that Schoening has a very distinct style that I've grown accustomed to in a short time.  Erik Burnham is still on writing duties, though, so nothing misses a beat.  Janine and Egon are each dealing with the events of the last few issues in their own ways.  Winston is on a working holiday with Tiyah in Las Vegas, and Peter rounds up who he can to deal with the mysterious ship seen last issue.  An amusing issue with Peter making jokes at every opportunity, but mostly setup for things still to come.

I haven't checked to see if it's been longer than a month since issue three, but I can tell you it felt longer because I've been looking forward to this for so long.  Everything's hitting the fan, both on Earth and off.  Viewership is at an all-time high, but being shown things the executives don't want anyone to see.  An ex-girlfriend feeling sentimental.  Our blue hero getting more pieces to the puzzle, but still missing the big picture.  And the setup for a showdown between our two most mysterious cast members.  Highly recommended.  I'm already eagerly awaiting issue five.  Also: they're only shown for one page, but I absolutely love the police on page two, reminding me a lot of Frank Miller art, Robocop, and Judge Dredd.

Good first issue.  Characters, setting, and story are all well established with hints of a larger story and plenty of action.  Featuring art from Juan Ferreyra, whom I'm unfamiliar with but after this will now be on the lookout for more from him.  A quick search tells me Ferreyra worked on Rex Mundi, which I own but have never read.  It may be time to dust that off and finally give it a read.  The writer is Victor Gischler, most memorable to me for turning Jubilee into a vampire.  It seems like supernatural comics are becoming a crowded space, but I think there's at least room for this title, that carves out its own niche away from Ten Grand, Chin Music, and others.  I recommend checking out the first issue.  I'll be picking up the rest of the five issue mini series.

This didn't come out last week, but I'd been hearing good things, so I had my local shop grab me a copy of the first issue.  It's not only good, but there's nothing else like it in American comics.  The script is by Mike Raicht, though the credits page lists three creators having a hand in the story.  I'm only familiar with the artist, Zach Howard, mostly from The Cape.  He's every bit as accomplished here as he was there, doing an equally gorgeous job at high-flying dog fights, intricate machinery, or heated personal conversations.  I recommend everyone check out the first issue and know I'll be adding this to my regular pull.  Issue two is already out.

Things aren't going well for Conan or Belit as separation and multiple attempts on their lives lead to ill ends for both our main characters.  I realize now that the previous sentence could be read to imply they've died.  That's not the case, though though both their plans backfired in a spectacular way.  Neither will be starting next issue in a good position, and while I've seen Conan in bad places before, things seem particularly stacked against him this time.

Double cross!  No real dinosaurs this issue, aside from the dead one in the opening pages, but plenty of action.  Our multinational team commandeer a submarine and sneak aboard a Nazi ship full of dinosaurs headed to America.  If that sentence doesn't interest you, I don't know what will.  Everything concludes next issue!

Once this series is done, I'm going to re-read it in one sitting.  This is a hard issue to recommend on its own, since not a whole lot happens.  But in typical Azzarello fashion, plenty is happening if you can read between the lines.  Everyone is posturing and maneuvering, though I feel like it will be issue six before powder kegs start exploding.  Risso, also in typical fashion, beautifully draws every twisted thing is this book.  If you haven't been following the series up to this point, just wait for the trade.  Bonus: There's a preview for Coffin Hill at the back.  It's piqued my interest enough that I'll check out the first issue.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Indie Corner - 09/18/2013

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.
As I write this, Sunday morning, the Valiant website is inaccessible.  There was some information I wanted to verify, but I'll just work from my spotty memory instead.  When Valiant re-launched last year, I read a preview of X-O Manowar and was intrigued enough to pick up the first issue.  I only made it to issue two before dropping the series, but I've continued to hear good things regarding Valiant ever since.  Once again, I read a preview and was interested enough to pick up the first issue. Eternal Warrior 1 is a good first issue.  Great art and Pak's writing mean I'll be picking up issue two and seeing where things go from there.

A friend of mine has mentioned Hun a few times from his appearance(s?) on the Turtles show.  I was unfamiliar with him, so learning his identity here came as a shock.  I'm having a somewhat difficult time reconciling what I knew before with this new information.  It certainly wasn't the path I imagined things would take.  Still, this new wrinkle should make things very interesting.

Despite being an oversized issue, this feels rushed.  Or at least the beginning does.  The opening pages check in with our scattered cast of characters, but does so in the least informative way possible.  From there, Dodge explains explains practically everything for a large chunk of the book, before the tables turn and people start dying left and right.  I can't help but feel slightly disappointed in this.  This feels like it should have been left in the oven a bit longer.  It's just doesn't feel the same as the half dozen mini series I've enjoyed so much.

Issue two just came out two weeks ago.  I don't know what's up with this book's shipping schedule, but I'll take it.  The book opens with a brief look at what led Adam to become an FBP agent before quickly resolving the cliffhanger from last issue.  The mission continues in the bubble universe while an investigation is underway about what's really going on in the main universe.  We're then left with another cliffhanger and if things weren't kicked into gear already, next issue has the clock seriously ticking.  This may be one of the rare books I buy monthly and in trade form.

B.P.R.D.: 1948
I don't know anyone that's read BPRD and said, "Eh, it's just not for me."  As far as I can tell, there's people that are into it, and those that haven't read it.  1948 is a great example of the series at its best - great story, amazing art, thrilling, touching, and somewhat heartbreaking.  While there are some slight references to the 1947 series, this is an almost entirely stand-alone story that I would easily recommend to anyone interested in the BPRD series.  For those long-time Hellboy and BPRD readers, there are moments (like the final page) that hit home that much harder.

EAST OF WEST: vol. 1
I picked up the first four issues of this before switching from buying the single issues to trades.  It was good enough that I knew I wanted it on my shelf instead of a box in the closet, and I thought I'd be better able to keep track of the various characters and plots.  So this morning I sat and read the whole thing.  And it was awesome.  But crucially, I found retained more information and pieced more of the story together than I had when read as issues.  Recommended, and very much looking forward to future volumes.

Things aren't going well for anyone in this series - The Girl, the DJs, Korse, the droid, and though he doesn't realize it yet - Val.  Things are escalating toward... something.  What, I can't tell, but definitely somewhere.  We've already had one confrontation between the Killjoys and scarecrows, that didn't really result in much change, but it appears another is on the horizon.  Maybe things will go down differently this time.  I'll stick around, though mostly for Becky Cloonan's art and not the barely coherent story.  With two issues to go, maybe it ends well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Indie Corner - 09/11/2013

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

Hit #1
This book mines the same vein as the Gangster Squad movie did earlier this year, with period LA cops doing very questionable things in their off hours. I loved it.  It's only a four issue series, and I'll be telling my comic guy tomorrow to pull the rest for me.  It's well written, excellent art, and plenty of story to sink your teeth into for a first issue.  Recommended.

Things aren't going well for our survivalist survivors.  Surviving survivalists?  Trust and alliances are wavering, some truths are discovered, and some characters are beginning to act like the unsupervised children they are.  This book makes me feel things I don't normally feel when reading a comic.  The sort of creeping dread I get from Walking Dead is all over this book, but I never realize it until I hit the end and relief washes over me.  At this point, a trade can't be far, and I suggest picking it up for anyone that hasn't been following the series.  Recommended.

I've mentioned this before, but I need to switch this to trades.  There's too many characters and personal plots for me to keep track of on a once per month basis.  But that's me, your mileage may vary.  I'm still enjoying this, still finding it interesting and I'm still interested in where it's all going... but I need more when I sit down to read this.

It seems we've entered one of those "domestic periods" in Invincible, where the characters aren't punching planets in half and instead we're treated to some quiet moments at home... and on the moon.  While I'm sure the Thragg storyline will come back around eventually, I'm very curious what's going on with Robot.  Not a whole lot going on in this issue, but various pots continue to be stirred.

This book is the perfect example of why Hickman can't be trusted.  I loved the The Nightly News and because of that, immediately bought the Transhuman trade.  Huge mistake.  Now, each new series, I pick up the first issue to see which Hickman shows up.  This is actually co-written by Hickman with Mike Costa, so I don't know who to blame for this mostly recitation of facts and GPS coordinates, but ultimately, I didn't like it and won't be picking up the rest of the series.  I recommend Manhattan Projects or East of West instead.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Indie Corner - 09/04/2013

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

So much done with so little.  There's a number of silent or nearly silent panels here, but each conveys volumes.  Family machinations going on at every level and all of it is perfect.  Seriously, I can't praise this book enough.  Easily my favorite new series.

With the number of things that happen in this book, I will surprise myself by saying this is a bit of a breather before the storm.  The last few issues have been nuts and I've loved every second.  This issue moves a huge number of pieces on the board - Hob and Splinter, Casey's dad, Casey and April, Raph goes nuts for a bit, there's a call-back to the annual, the Savant return, there's something up with Leo, the list goes on and on.  And that doesn't even include the last page insanity.  Things are about to explode in a major way.  I recommend you get on board.

I came into this expecting Hellblazer-Diggle or Losers-Diggle, but issue three has turned the series into... Heroes?  I don't know.  Higher level players than our protagonist are introduced, but I'm finding it very hard to care.  This will be the last issue I pick up.

This book is nuts, and I completely love it.  Before issue one, the solicit text had me slightly concerned because it sounded like _Fringe_ which didn't exactly go well, but it's totally not that.  There's insane sci-fi stuff going on with beautiful art, but really there's believable characters, a deepening mystery and killer cliffhangers.  Highly recommended.