Monday, December 29, 2014

Indie Corner - 12/24/2014

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

This will be my last issue of Black Science.  I haven't hidden the fact that I'm generally dissatisfied with the book.  Last issue I said I'd give it until the end of the arc (this issue) to impress me.  While reading, I had the sense of watching The Walking Dead.  There's definitely parts I enjoy, but afterward, far too often, I asked myself, "What the hell just happened?"  This issue sets up a lot of things, both story and character elements, that I imagine will play out for quite some time.  While it'd be nice to see some of that unfold, I watched The Walking Dead for too long and have read this for too long.
They're Not Like Us 1

This is one that's going to take a few issues before I figure out where it's going and whether I like it or not.  I get a vague sense of resistance and rebellion, but can't tell much else.  There's the opening attention grabber, then a large chunk of the issue is taken up by an escape, meeting the rest of the cast, and a cliffhanger for a last line.  The art's good and it's well written but other than that..?  I'll stick around for a few issues to see where this is all heading.

I had to read this twice.  "Had" might be a little strong, but... you really have to see it.  I wanted to read it again.  It's gorgeous.  There's a whole thing with faeries and the ghost of his father that's following him around... like I said, you'd have to see it.  And honestly, that whole thing made more sense than the actions of the blond monk.  I don't know what that guy's up to, but this book is nuts and I love it.

Turtles with proton packs, Ghostbusters eating pizza, Casey gets some new threads, and even a reference to the turtle blimp.  I love it.  There's one issue left in this crossover mini-series, and it should surprise precisely zero people that the Turtles will be returned to their home dimension.  What I'm most curious about is the fate of Chi-You.  Those reading the series will know his siblings and that there's a bit of a rivalry between them.  Chi-You's undergone a transformation since arriving in the Ghostbuster's dimension and I wonder whether we'll see him again in future issues of Turtles or not.  Also, there's only one issue left of the Ghostbusters.  As a rather large fan of the recently concluded IDW series, I hope they receive a new series sooner rather than later.

I read a recent CBR article that said the book will be on hiatus until March and then undergoing some major changes.  After reading this, I can understand why: our cast has been scattered to the four winds.  The article states this allows them to tell any type of story they want, and that definitely seems possible now in a way that wasn't before.  I'll miss the interactions of so many personalities in close proximity but look forward to what's to come.  I find myself especially curious to see what the generals get up to next.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Indie Corner - 12/17/2014

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

This book is so insane I don't know where to start.  Somehow, for some reason, I love it.  I really, truly hope it doesn't turn out to be some pretentious bullshit at the end, and that of all this makes sense.  It's probably meta.  Puzzle pieces are sliding into place and I just can't quite see the picture yet.  This would definitely be better to read in trade form, and I'll likely eventually buy it that way.  However, I can't at all talk about anything that happens in this issue.  Well, there's a new character.  But that's all I'll say.

Rumble 1
I vaguely recall reading some interviews in the lead-up to this launch about a "scarecrow god."  It very much seemed like two creators having a blast writing and drawing whatever the hell they wanted.  That's very much what shines through in this issue.  Things happen, most of it unexplained, and it's absolutely brilliant.  While reading, I kept thinking of Six-Gun Gorilla and Tradd Moore.  Moore's a bit easier to explain, so I'll start there.  It's in the way Harren draws people - natural, yet exaggerated.  It's also in the way Harren draws movement; people and things are practically alive.  As for the Six-Gun Gorilla sensation, I think it stems from the fact that Arcudi throws us into a very strange place, with a main character that's completely out of his depth.  Plus, it's really good.  I'll be adding this to my pull and I recommend you do the same.  Or at least pick up the first issue.

While describing Ragnarok below, I mention not minding the wait between issues.  The wait between issues of The Bunker, however, is excruciating.  Once Breaking Bad hit a point were I knew I'd like it and wanted to watch it, I waiting until the entire series was over and streaming on Netflix.  I don't think I could have handled the wait.  Well, I made the mistake of starting The Bunker too early, and now I have to wait between installments.

Thor is awake once again, moving around, and really angry about everything he sees.  Nothing is the way it should be, and he's going to figure out why.  Then probably hit it with a hammer.  It'll be glorious.  I keep thumbing through the book just to look at the art again.  There's a point near the beginning where we're shown the same panel three times.  Anyone else would have just copied and pasted that panel, but Simonson actually re-draws it each time.  Same thing on the next page where we see the same panel four times.  Subtle differences each time.  This book comes out once every two months, and I know a guy that has a hard time waiting for new issues.  I'm okay with the wait, though, because I want Simonson to have the time he needs to make it the way he wants rather than be rushed.

This title didn't make my list of Best Comics of 2014 but it should have.  I was thinking about the broadstrokes of how the cast had expanded but we were still no closer to solving the mystery of the first issue.  But that thinking misses the point.  The brilliant way Laura narrates the book, often in contrast to the things she actually says.  As seen in this issue, opposite an equally brilliant diagram of Laura's room.  The rest of the issue is great as well, and I'll be sure to include the title on my Best Comics of 2015 list.

The final pages of this issue features a single panel as it goes step-by-step through the coloring process.  I really wish I hadn't seen it.  I've seen Hollingsworth's coloring elsewhere, notably on the recent The Wake collection.  He's good; I like his work.  This guide, however, shows how good he is, right up until it's taken too far and intentionally made to look like garbage.  As for the rest of the issue: less creepy than issue two, but still pretty creepy.

I picked up some trades last week as well but I'm saving those for a future post since not much is coming out in the next two weeks.  So look for those then.

This week, I write about six comics while saying very little about what happens in them.  This little blog is fun.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best Comics of 2014

Similar to my Best Audiobooks list, this is a collection of some of the best comics I've read this year, not necessarily ones that were released in the last year.  I've tried to note that where appropriate.

In no particular order:

This is making the list based on the strength of the second issue.  Only two issues have come out.  The first issue set up a family trying to start over.  The second unleashed the horror.

Sex Criminals
I read the solicts and thought, "That sounds idiotic."  But the Internet kept talking about how great the first issue was, so I bought a copy the next week.  Far from idiotic, it is deeply personal and honest in a way I've rarely, if ever, seen in comics.

I'm paying Vaughan and Staples to break my heart a little bit each month.  I just hope they can put it back together again next year.

By Chance Or Providence
By Chance or Providence
Three mini comics written and drawn by Becky Cloonan, collected into a hardcover.  If you're familiar with Becky's work, the preceeding sentence should sell the book alone.  If you're not, get this and discover her.

Southern Bastards
Much like Sex Criminals, this book feels so authentic it could be autobiographical.  Except you really don't want that because terrible terrible things happen.

People (frequently me) say very little happens in this book.  Yet it's on my list because the characters are all so brilliant and the art is fantastic.  Oh, and things happened in a big way in the most recent issue.

Does Lone Wolf and Cub meets Walking Dead sound like something you'd be interested in?  A total badass that barely speaks protects a baby from horrifying monsters and humans alike.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This series takes the best bits from every incarnation of Turtles and throws them all together in a way that makes them more than the sum of their parts.  Any fan of the Turtles should be reading this.

There's a quote on the back of the book from Geeks of Doom! calling this series the third Ghostbusters movie everyone wanted.  I find myself hard pressed to think of a better description.

Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens
Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens
The title should tell you everything you need to know.  It is as awesome as you expect it to be.

The Abominable Charles Christopher
I just discovered this, so it's on the list!  Page one has the titular Charles getting caught in the rain.  Six panels and I fell in love.  Everything after is equally amazing.

I just talked about this a couple weeks ago.  Bryan Lee O'Malley, you know that guy, right?  This is his new book, and it's really good.  One story, one book, no waiting.

Deadly Class
Deadly Class
Saying what this book is about doesn't convey its essence.  Like so many other titles on this list, Deadly Class combines great art and writing with humor and drama to tell a fictional story about characters that could very well be real.

Six Gun Gorilla
The trade came out in June; I'm including it!  I don't recall how or why I picked up the first issue, but I feel like I owe someone thanks.  It could have very easily concluded without me noticing, so I praise it every chance I get in the hope someone else takes notice.

Another series that came out at the tail-end of last year, but the trade came out a few weeks ago, so it's on the list!  1950s, LA, crime fiction.  It was everything I wanted and more.

What if Miss Moneypenny was a better spy than James Bond?  I read issue one and knew I'd been waiting my whole life for this book.

Reign of the Black Flame was off-the-charts awesome.  So far beyond what I expected and thought I wanted.  The series has always been great but this was a new high-water mark.

Moon Knight
I have never cared about Moon Knight.  With Warren Ellis writing, I was interested enough to pick up the first issue.  I'm so glad I did, because this is one of the best superhero books going.

Gotham Academy
Gotham Acadamy
This series has only put out three issues and it's already my new favorite DC book.  Which isn't meant to be a slight on Batman (Capullo and Synder are great), but Zero Year isn't making the list.

Jason Aaron writing the new female Thor is amazing.  She's only had three issues so far, and as of this writing I've only read two of them, and she STILL makes the list.  It's that good.

Ghost Rider
Felipe Smith writes, Tradd Moore draws.  And it was good.  Sales were never great on this title, but seemingly everyone that read it loved it.  I hope Smith is able to roll that into more work because, Robbie Reyes IS Ghost Rider.

Honorable mentions:

The first half of Batgirl 35
Loved it... right up until she put the suit on.  Then I was like, "Oh yeah, this is still fucking heroes."  To get the same feeling for an entire issue, read Gotham Acadmey.

I love it, but am struggling to explain why.  One might think that should disqualify it from the list, but it's my list, so it remains.  See previous posts for details.

Ghost Fleet
Another book with only two issues out.  But they're a strong two issues.

Men of Wrath
Issues one and two were insane, both in terms of content and quality.  Issue three was okay, but didn't meet the same high standard set by the first two.

I read issue one and thought, "Oh, so THIS is how you write a comic!"  Issue two was one long fight, but if it had had more story, this book would have made the Best Of list and not the Honorable Mentions.

Society of Super Heroes surprised the hell out of me, and then Pax Americana blew it out of the water.  The other two issues are okay, which is why this title is down here.

Forever Evil
Black Adam and Sinestro.  Lex and Bizarro.  I will overlook the dumber moments of this miniseries to focus on the ridiculously fun ones.  There, I said it, and I don't care who knows.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Indie Corner - 12/10/2014

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

The investigation is slowly going... somewhere, but that doesn't even matter.  This issue has some truly fantastic character moments and a chase scene that's vastly superior to the one from last issue.  After reading the first issue, I mentally gave this series until issue four to prove itself to me.  Things are trending up.  It could move things along a little faster, but I'm sticking around.

Bitch Planet 01
I had no idea what to expect from this book.  I kept hearing, "women's prison... in space!"  Or comparisons to Orange is the New Black, which I haven't seen, so that wasn't helpful.  Most recently, I saw a comment about "Stepford" which now makes a heckuva lot more sense.  You've likely heard things too, and they were probably just as meaningless.  So lemme just say this: It's a good book.  If you like good books, you should check this out.  I know I'll be reading more.

Near the end of Locke & Key, it was announced that Gabriel Rodriguez had been signed as the first and only artist exclusive to IDW.  For those unfamiliar with his work, this issue proves why signing him was such a smart move.  I can't imagine what the script for this issue was like, but it's a feast for the eyes from start to finish.  An outstanding issue in a series I'd been unsure about.

This arc ended the only way it possibly could.  Knowing that the entire time, I still found myself concerned both at the end of last issue and at the beginning of this one.  When the tide does finally turn - as it inevitably would - it was awesome.  I have no idea what's in store for the next arc, but I eagerly await it.

The title to this arc is "Attack on Technodrome."  It's been building to this for literally years.  By the end of this issue, every piece is in place.  We're about to witness the clash of at least three agendas, possibly more (Hob!).  There's no way to tell what's going to happen, but I suspect things will get worse before they get better.

GHOSTBUSTERS v9: Mass Hysteria Part 2
This marks the end of the series, and I will definitely miss it.  I keep flipping through the trade instead of writing about it.  What can I say?  That whenever I would read this comic, I would hear the actor's voices in my head?  That whatever happens to the franchise, if Burnham is writing, I'll be buying?  That, much like Ninja Turtles, any fan should check it out?  It's all true.  The end is rather surprising, and that's literally all I'm going to say about what happens.  Do yourself a favor.  Buy the whole series.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Indie Corner - 12/03/2014

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

Ugh, now this book is really pissing me off.  If you recall from last time: it's really good.  That's still true.  You might also recall I said this was close to a comic I've been writing.  That's even more true after the second issue.  Personal gripes aside, this comic is great.  If you're into fantasy stories, I recommend giving this a read no matter what they name is.

The Borgias
Jodorowsky.  Manara.  I'd be interested in any book by either of these creators, but together?  Doing historical fiction?  It was too much to resist.

This is one seriously twisted tale.  Encompassing the rise of Rodrigo Borgia to pope, through to his family's eventual downfall.  This book is filled with corruption, murder, treachery, debauchery, and countless instances of hypocrisy.

The book is good, and I really enjoyed it, but knowing how touchy Americans can be about sex makes it a bit difficult to recommend.  So, if you're into historical fiction, either or both of the creators, and can handle some sex and violence, I say give The Borgias a shot.

My love for this book is beginning to waver.  The first had an emotional family story with a fantasy twist thrown in.  The second issue largely continued that while diving deeper into the fantasy world.  Here, in a weird flip, the family moments just didn't resonate with me and the story of child Mikey in the fantasy world was more interesting.  Previously, I couldn't stand the whiny child story and wanted to get back to the real world.  Now, I want to see more of the war criminals and Kallista.  I'll have to see if the next few issues can recapture the fire.

DOC UNKNOWN v1 and v2
I backed the second volume of Doc Unknown when it was on Kickstarter, after reading some of Doc's adventures in the back pages of Five Ghosts (a fantastic series).  It's classic pulp, with Lobster Johnson being the closest similarity.

Volume one tells a complete story, including a flashback of Doc's backstory.  Volume Two is mostly a collection of stand-alone stories that occasionally reference earlier events or characters while building out Doc's world and overall story.

I was actually reminded of the early issues of Invincible while reading this.  In the way that the issues were good, but the team was still getting their feet under them.  Given a bit more experience, this team could go from good to great.  Both volumes are currently available from Comixology.

I became a fan of Remender's through Fear Agent and X-Force.  Strange Girl was brought to my attention a few years back via a Twitter dust-up over "creator owned" vs "writer owned."  That's definitely a conversation worth having, but not here.  As a fan of the man's work, I went to Amazon, found a good deal on the box set, and quickly purchased.

Strange Girl begins with the Rapture before jumping ahead a decade to an Earth controlled by demons, lording over the few remaining humans.  Bethany, the titular strange girl, learns of a portal to heaven, and she wants in.  With a couple humans and a few demons, the band trek across the US and Europe to reach the portal all while trying to avoid getting killed by just about everyone.  That sounds pretty heavy when summarized like that, but the series has a lot of humor.  It also has a fair bit of religious rhetoric, as Bethany is not at all pleased with how things have shaken out.

There are a half dozen artists credited on the slipcase, over the course of 18 issues.  To say the art is inconsistent is a bit of an understatement.  While certainly an interesting read, I have a difficult time recommending it.  If the above sounds like your kind of thing, go for it.  The slipcase seems to have rocketed in price, though there's an omnibus that's more reasonable.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Indie Corner - 11/26/2014

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

To people that have complained not enough happens in this book - this is the issue where things happen.  Pieces have been slowly moving for a while, and here several take action.  I can't even say, because unless you've been reading, none of it would mean anything.  I'll simply say this: there's one more issue and then a collection coming in February.  If the gods are good, another series will follow.

I don't think there's a word for this comic other than "ambitious."  The opening gatefold is, perhaps, the craziest thing I've seen in a comic, even topping the foldout/poster in Superman Unchained #1.

I've been making my way through a lot of The Classics over the last couple years, but The Odyssey remains on my "to read" list.  Someone said this issue is easier to understand if you've read the classic, but I didn't find it particularly difficult to follow.  The actual writing seems to be adapting The Odyssey to the form, while obviously changing the setting to space and many character's gender has been flipped.  The art is simultaneously gorgeous and weird.  It's a hard thing to explain, but the only book even close to it would be Brandon Graham and Simon Roy's Prophet.

After finishing the book, I immediately thought I wouldn't be picking up the second issue.  But the more I think about it, the more compelled I am to read more.  I really want to see how this mad experiment plays out.

This series continues to impress.  In trying to write this review though, I struggled to summarize the issue beyond that first sentence.  Basically, Rasputin meets some new friends, gets in a fight (or two), and leaves home.  Doesn't sound like much, but the dialogue is great and the art is exceptional.  I may wind up switching this to trades so I can get more story in a single chunk.

That's not at all how I expected this issue to end.  If you recall - and I hope you do - Jack's sword has been broken.  Last issue presented an opportunity to correct that, and in this issue, Jack is tested to see if he's worthy.  It's a quick read, classic Jack, and as I said, things don't go as expected.  The cover to next issue is Jack unsheathing his sword, so... we'll see.  For the moment, they're a bit bleak.

Two issues of Ninja Turtles in the same week.  It's not even my birthday.  Contrasting with the Ghostbusters issue below, this issue is almost entirely a fight scene with virtually everyone against Bebop and Rocksteady.  It feels like these two have grown stronger since the last time the turtles faced them.  That, and the turtles are working less well as a team.  With all that, Splinter earns his title of "master," Raph and Alopex share a quiet moment, Casey gets a job, and one of the craziest last pages of the entire series.  A lot of great stuff is packed into this issue.

I'm just going to say this up front: this issue ends with a turtle wearing a proton pack.  Does that interest you?  If so, check out the series.  This issue is almost entirely interaction between the two  groups, with several awesome scenes, and me loving every second of it.  Standout among them was Winston with Leo.  Perfect.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Indie Corner - 11/19/2014

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

It's weird reading this after reading Pax Americana a few days ago.  It's weirder still that I had flashbacks to Joe the Barbarian (another good book, if you haven't read it).  But I think, like Joe, Annihilator is a weird story that won't be fully understood until the final issue, and read much better as a whole than serialized.  That's not to say I'm not enjoying the monthly installments, but I'm getting the sense this will be a future hardcover for my shelf.  I'm not going to say anything about what happens in this issue, but recommend checking it out if you're into weird, trippy Grant Morrison stuff.

The Abominable Charles Christopher v02
There are two printed books of Abominable, a weekly strip found here:  It is, without a doubt, one of the best comics I've read in quite some time.  I was taken in by the first strip and have been awed, saddened, and frequently laughed at the unfolding story.  It's exceptionally good, and I can't recommend it enough.  You can read the strip at the link above, or purchase the collections at the same link.

A long wait for a comic short on story, but brimming with absolute fighting insanity.  At long last!  Thragg!  Battle Beast!  And those last three pages are a punch right to the gut.  I guess we'll see that again in 50 issues or so.  Invincible is as amazing as it is devastating.

I think I've mentioned before that I read in bed.  I keep a comic or three on the bedside table, get into bed at night, and read a little before finally going to sleep.  Seconds, the new book from Scott Pilgrim's Bryan Lee O'Malley, is 323 pages and I finished it in three days.  I was reading in chunks of 50 - 100 pages per night - far more than usual - and when I got close to the end, finished it off during the day instead of waiting for night.  It's really good.  And cute, and amusing, and about growing up (at any age), much like how Scott Pilgrim was, though told in a way that's rather different.  Recommended for anyone that enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim series.

I saw the movie, back when that opened almost 8 years ago.  And I always meant to read the comic, but never brought myself to buy it.  Then I bought it and it sat on a shelf for a few years.  But since I'm recently unemployed, I've been plowing through my "to read" list and making decent headway. 

The movie is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the comic.  So your personal opinion on the movie should inform your decision whether to purchase the comic or not.  I enjoyed the movie and enjoyed reading the book, which is longer than I was expecting for such a seemingly thin book.

Originally published in 1998, only three years before Dark Knight Strikes Again, 300 actually feels more like Miller's older works of Ronin, Sin City, or Dark Knight Returns (I haven't read his Daredevil work).  I recommend the book for anyone that's a fan of the movie, which I plan to re-watch soon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Indie Corner - 11/12/2014

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

I didn't time it, but this felt like a quick read.  Likely, because there was a mostly silent five-page pursuit sequence.  Sheriff Bronson isn't getting any answers and she's not happy.  Meanwhile, Boo gets a piece of information that could actually break things open, from the least likely cast member.  The book is still good, but this issue is just kinda there, moving the story the tiniest bit.  It's likely just a mid-arc bump in the road before things get moving again toward the conclusion.  At least I hope that's what it is.

Drifter 1
The series was described as "featur[ing] the dark revenge themes of Unforgiven with the mind-bending universe-building detail of Dune."  If that's true, it's not evident in the first issue.  The first few pages are quite interesting, but from then on the main character is a complete dick to literally everyone and entirely unlikable.  By the time the twist ending came about, I'd stopped caring.  Very disappointing for a series I'd been looking forward to.

While reading this I was thinking, "The preview pages gave half this story away already!"  Only, not really.  The preview pages were actually the middle of the book, and context is everything.  Plus, there's everything that happens after that, which is pretty significant.  Jude and Hemingway have a new mission and the cover to next issue makes a helluva lot more sense now than it did when it was first solicited.  While I have no idea where the story is going, I'll be along for the ride.

This is a weird issue.  A lot happens, and most of it through exposition.  There's a "men in black" joke in there, but it's actually rather fitting.  Seasoned agent in the secrets business needs a new agent, recruits a woman with a bit more curiosity than sense.  Throw in some the space race, moon landing, and a mysterious entity, and you've got equal parts Men In Black and X-Files.  While I'm interested to see where the story might be going, this isn't the Justin Jordan I'm used to.

Third number one this week and third strike out.  Resurrectionists seems to focus on people harnessing the memories and abilities of their past lives.  Even though there's exponentially more people alive now than ever before.  But whatever.  The fight sequence at the beginning of the issue reminded me of the Five Ghosts series of Image.  I think I'll stick with that instead.

We get a lot more story this issue compared to the last, and the creeping dread starts right from the beginning with discussion of "the lump."  Sailor and Lucy are both losing it, whether from visions or memories, while dad and Reggie struggle to keep up.  Definitely a bizarre, creepy, yet good book.  I'll be sticking around for a while.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Best Audio Books of 2014

Similar to last year's list, this will be a collection of some of the best book I've listened to in the last year, not necessarily ones that were released in the last year.

Casino Royale
James Bond, from the beginning.  I'd been curious about the books since re-watching every Bond movie and was pleasantly surprised to find it's aged quite well.  Book two, Live and Let Die, does not make the list.

Audible recently released several Bond novels read by celebrities.  I'd already started the series, and jumped at Moonraker after hearing the sample read by Bill Nighy.  The book isn't just the best of the series (so far), but I wish Nighy read all the Bond books.  He's absolutely brilliant.  The book, I should mention, is nothing like the movie.

Another great from Chuck Palahniuk.

3:10 to Yuma
I have several books from Elmore Leonard in my library; this remains one of my favorites.

Devil in the White City
Educational, fascinating, and horrifying.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
The first of several on this list that are comedies.  The title was enough to get me to listen to the audio sample.  The audio sample made this an instant purchase.

A Christmas Carol
I've been listening to a lot of classics.  This is the first to earn the title.

Dimension of Miracles
The return of (narrator) John Hodgman to the list.  This is written by Robert Sheckley, whose right there next to Douglas Adams for his brilliant, hilarious, insightful writing.

Year Zero
Another Hodgman narration, and another Douglas Adams comparison.  I'll be keeping an eye out for future works from Rob Reid.

Medium Raw
The return of Anthony Bourdain to the list.  And another enjoyable, entertaining listen.

I'm surprised nothing from Neil Gaiman made last year's list.  I'm making up for that with two this year.  I enjoyed the movie, and the book is also excellent, but I especially love when Gaiman reads his own work.

Good Omens
A quote from the linked page talks of "wackiness" and "morbid humor."  Too true.

The Importance of Being Earnest
This is actually a recording of a live performance of the Oscar Wilde play.  It's both ridiculous and hilarious.

You Are Now Less Dumb
David McRaney's earlier book was on last year's list.  This one is also excellent.

George Carlin Reads to You
George Carlin reads three of his books.  What more could you ask for?

A Universe from Nothing
The subtitle is "Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing" which was what initially grabbed me.  It's informative and interesting without being dry.

Physics of the Future and Physics of the Impossible
Michio Kaku was on last year's list and I liked his book so much that I bought two more.  Both of these are good, though one is better than the other.  I just can't remember which.

13 Things That Don't Make Sense
For all our scientific knowledge, there remains many things we fundamentally don't understand.


Dead Six
The team of Larry Correia and Bronson Pinchot is unbeatable.

I got into Parker because of the Darwyn Cooke adaptations.  The books are brilliant and better than all the movies put together.

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Having loved The Hitchhiker's Guide for almost two decades, I finally ventured into Dirk Gently territory.  It was brilliant and absurd, and I wish there was more.

Millennium Trilogy
Or, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the other two."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Indie Corner - 11/05/2014

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

The last page features No saying, "Yes."  My grin from seeing that hasn't faded yet, but it has washed away some of the creepier aspects of the issue.  It struck me this issue that Spread is like Walking Dead if you skip the first 100 or so issues.  Humans are living in clusters around charismatic leaders, but the underlying reasserts itself at the worst possible moment for maximum impact.  This book is glorious, and disgusting, and I love it.

Tooth & Claw 1
It's unfortunate that I'm currently writing a fantasy comic starring a diverse cast of anthropomorphic animals... because that's what Tooth & Claw is, and it's really good.  I knew I was in trouble early on, with the amount of world-building going on by page six.  It only gets more brilliant and expansive from there.  It's 48 pages, no ads, and $2.99.  I've already added it to my pull list.

The family gets reunited, more or less.  But how that happens causes things to get a little violent.  Also, more is shown of the other world, and specifically what happens just after Mike arrives there.  I find the scenes on this world compelling, but don't especially care about the other world.  What I'd like to know is what immediately proceeded Mike's return, but I fear that won't be revealed for some time.  Still, it's a solid title.

We're given a bit more Rath family history, and a lot of information on just what Ruben did to get into so much trouble.  That's about all I can say about this brutal, gripping book.  Fans of Aaron's Southern Bastards should definitely give it a chance.

DAY MEN vol 1
Here's the setup: vampires have too much power and money to leave it all to chance while they sleep during the day.  Enter Day Men, employed by vampires to look after their interests, move about in the human world, and generally do whatever needs doing.  It's a vampire book that's not really about vampires.  The writing is tight, the art is great, and reading it collected means you don't have to wait long periods between issues like I originally did.  Issue 5 of the series also hit stands last week.

Wow.  So, I just finished reading this in basically two sittings.  First half yesterday and the second half today.  A lot of people read this as singles, but I stopped after issue two when I realized I'd rather have this on my shelf than tucked away in a box.  The story is good, as Scott Synder stories are.  It's a huge story about adventure, exploration, and a dozen other themes.  The art is simply amazing, spanning from boundless and vibrant to deeply claustrophobic.  Recommended to anyone that's a fan of Snyder or Murphy.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Indie Corner - 10/29/2014

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

Rasputin 1
Powerful first issue that's short of dialogue but tells one helluva story.  Rasputin begins just before this death (or rather one of) before quickly transitioning to his childhood.  Things don't go well.  The writing is tight, knowing how to tease us with enough tasty bits and when to back off.  The art is equally impressive.  I'll be adding this to my pull, and recommend giving it a shot.

If you're into Avatar books (Crossed, Uber, God is Dead, etc.), you'll probably like this.  I used to like Avatar, or at least Warren Ellis Avatar books like Strange Kiss and Dark Blue.  And I like Justin Jordan, so I figured I'd give this a shot... and it's just not my thing.
P.S. to colorists: If you've got an office worker in dark pants and shoes, don't give him white socks.

Last time I wrote, "The art is gorgeous, the characters are all well written, but the story... it's barely there."  And it's still true.  I've decided to give this until the end of the arc (next issue), and if I still feel the same, I'm cutting it loose.  Things happen - mostly relationship drama -  and the art is still good, but I continue to struggle with wanting to like it more than I actually do.

It likely wouldn't be as good, but I hope someday there's a chronological version of Bunker put out.  Maybe Zero could do the same.  Anyway.  This is a Heidi issue, taking place in both the present and future.  As the future gets further fleshed out, scenes from the present are intercut and may contradict events from the first issue.  Is this a sign that things are changing, or merely adding detail to what's already been established?

I've never read McCay's Slumberland.  I've wanted to for quite some time, and even back two Kickstarters that failed to get funded.  I feel like if I had been alive 100 years ago, my mind would have been properly blown.  But I wasn't, I've spent 25 years reading comics and watching movies that drew inspiration from McCay.  So my mind isn't blown that way it might have been.  Still, if I had to name one person to draw this series, it would be Gabriel Rodriguez, hands down.  It just feels like I'm late to the party.

This will likely be the last time I include Saga, since it really doesn't fit the "under people's radar" mandate.  That said, a little story:
What people may not know about Saga, -but has been scientifically proven- is that its gotten better over time.  Seriously, there was a claim made that Fiona isn't as good in this issue as she was back in issue one.  So we pulled the first trade to compare side-by-side.  Survey says: she's even better now than she was then.  Case closed.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Indie Corner - 10/22/2014

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

Jack's been in a rough spot these last few issues.  Here, things get both better and worse for him.  Aku has a way to find Jack, but Jack possibly has a way to fix his sword.  I suspect, without checking solicit info, Jack and Aku will meet on the final page of next issue and fight in 15.  This issue did away with my concerns at the beginning of this arc, and slid the title back over to the "recommended" column.

Starlight 06
Last issue, I was worried one issue wasn't enough to wrap up this story.  I wanted the adventures of Duke McQueen to continue because I was enjoying it so much.  But after this, the final issue, I'm more than pleased with the conclusion.  If you haven't been reading Starlight, I hope you'll pick up the trade once that comes out.  It's a great read.

Last issue (spoiler!) Luci broke out of prison.  This is what happens next.  The final words of the issue are "it's not over."  Of course it's not.  I'm not going to talk about what happens between those two events, except to say that it's good and you should read it.  Also, check out the well-written essay at the back.  There's even a special note in the credits, which I looked at only so I could write the next sentence.  Everything between the covers of this book is brilliant.  I hope you read it.

IDW's excellent Ninja Turtles series jumps dimensions into IDW's excellent Ghostbusters series (sadly concluded).  It's so brilliant, I don't know why it wasn't done sooner.  If you can't tell, I'm a huge fan of both series.  The two teams meet on the last page of the issue, so they haven't yet interacted, which will be the true test of believability.  Thankfully, the regular writers from each series are involved here, so I don't think there will be any problems there.  Three different art teams is a bit weird, but done in a way that minimizes the changes.  Recommended for anyone reading both or either series, or even just fans of the franchises.

Honestly, if the title alone doesn't do it for you, I don't know what to say.  Actually, the cover and title are a bit misleading, because the book is actually two stories - Dredd vs Predator and Dredd vs Aliens.  Still.  I've never read Dredd before but have been wanting to get into it for a while.  I've read very little Predator or Aliens comics, but I'd been similarly toying with the idea for about a year.  So seeing this on the rack, it practically leapt into my hands.

Predator vs Judge Dredd is from 1997, so the art is slightly dated, but I had no problem slipping into it.  Judge Dredd vs Aliens is from 2003, but the art has a much more modern feel and could easily sit alongside any indie title today.  Both stories are written and co-written, respectively, by John Wagner, so Dredd is definitely in the right hands.  I thoroughly enjoyed both and suspect many other fans of these franchises would as well.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Indie Corner - 10/15/2014

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.
I read volumes one and two of this series years back but Felipe's current stint on Ghost Rider reminded me I'd never finished the series.  So I corrected that.  For those unfamiliar, Felipe's art and writing blend serious and comedic, realistic and absurd.  The story of Peepo Choo, and his earlier series MBQ, are too much to summarize here, but I recommend them for anyone currently enjoying his writing on Ghost Rider.  Both series are relatively cheap on Amazon, and Comixology has MBQ.  They're both excellent.
Trees 6

Very little tends to happen in Trees, but it's the best book in which very little happens.  The trees go on treeing while some long, well-written conversations take place and some ominous new elements are introduced.

Mutant mayhem!  And not a single X-Man in sight.  Since it's right on the cover, I don't think I'll be spoiling anything by saying Bebop and Rocksteady run into Hob's growing gang.  The Turtles are on hand as well, minus Donatello, whom has "more important things to do."  Oh snap.  Literally nothing gets resolved, so next issue should feature a serious throwdown.  I eagerly look forward to it.

I'm at a loss for words in how to describe this series.  Things get worse, pretty consistently, for our troop of characters.  Even the ones where you think, "But what about -- "  Nope.  As you'll learn here, not even them.  And next issue?  Pretty sure things are going to get worse.  Again.  I'll be there.  Will you?

What an ending.  Ordinarily, I'm a fan of Jason Aaron, but the preview for issue one came out in the lead-up to the series launch... and it did nothing for me.  Weeks go by, and the manager at my comic shop mentions how crazy the book has gotten.  This is top notch Aaron and LaTour is equally brilliant on art.  But man, that ending.  I don't know where this series is going, but I'll be along for the ride.

There are times I think I know what's going on in this book.  And there are times when I'm utterly confused.  At this point, so near the end, I'm just hoping it makes sense once complete.  The last volume (Fables crossover) was fun and all, but it broke from the narrative at a rather critical time.  Now, we've come back, and have to remember what was going on before that.  As I said, I'm just hoping it makes sense in the end.

I've been trying to figure out what to say about this for a while.  The story is literally all over the place - there's a stolen car, a motorcycle gang, a circus, a few deaths... and did that guy really just let a stranger drive off in his car?  Really?!  Even mediocre Blacksad is still pretty good, but if you haven't had the pleasure yet, skip this and get the earlier work.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Indie Corner - 10/08/2014

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

There's a few reasons I love this series.  First, the art is great.  Next, the characters are unique.  Seems like a requirement, right?  But in a week where reviews complain about everyone's quips in Axis, the characters here each have his or her own motives and manner of speech.  And last, the story isn't spoon-fed to the audience.  Monumental things are happening in this story (especially this volume), and it's up to the reader to figure out the full implications and what's really going on.

I thoroughly enjoyed Battling Boy and was excited to hear more books would be coming.  One of those is now out, and I find I'm rather disappointed.  Rise of Aurora West follows Aurora and her father before the events of the original Battling Boy, but adds little to the characters or story.  There's also the art of David Rubin, whom I'm guessing was picked to compliment Pope.  While his art is well suited to some of the scenes, it really undercuts the violence with cartooniness instead of straddling the line like Pope did in the original Battling Boy.  Skip.

Annihilator 02
As I was reading this, I thought back to my recent words on Supreme: Blue Rose.  I greatly disliked Blue Rose, but Annihilator sits in almost the same spot of "divisive writer doing vague and weird."  Yet, for some reason, I'm really enjoying Annihilator.  The only thing I can figure is I think Morrison has given us a few more scraps to grab onto than Ellis.  I'm along for the ride.  Your mileage may vary.

I think I made it two issues into The Wake before I decided I'd rather read it collected.  (Still waiting for the hardcover!)  This was a good first issue, and one helluva cliffhanger, but it's just setup so far.  Things had just started to happen when it ended.  I'll be back for issue two, but it's hard to get a sense of the series with just this issue.

After a great first issue, I told my comic shop to pull issues 2 - 4 for me.  I read a lot of first issues and come back for issue two on about half.  In the case of Copperhead, I might be in for the long haul.  Great art and characters with plenty of intrigue.

Wow.  It's tough to pull family drama and high fantasy in a single story, but Birthright does it well.  I'll be even more vague than usual so as to not ruin any of the surprises, but it's hard to tell where the series will go from here.  I have some ideas, but given the surprises thus far, I'd rather sit back and enjoy the ride than speculate.  Recommended.

If you haven't picked up the first issue, you really should.  It's brilliant.  This picks up right where that left off, and quickly leads to a whole bunch of people dying.  The end of the issue leaves things in such a way that anything can happen .  If you're at all interested in seeing Walt Simonson do whatever he wants, get this series.

My feelings on this series are hard to put into words.  On the one hand, I enjoy it.  On the other, it's always at the bottom of my read pile.  Nine issues in, and I haven't converted it over to trades yet because I'm not not sure I like it.  The art is gorgeous, the characters are all well written, but the story... it's barely there.  I'm still reading it, but it's always hard to tell for how much longer.

Another book that's usually at the bottom of my read pile each month, though for very different reasons.  Sex Criminals is personal.  It's funny and dark, evokes emotions, and makes me think.  It's something I like to read in a single sitting and have to be in the right mood for.  And it's always rewarding.  Here, we meet a new character, check in with our usual cast, and our antagonists make a move.  A pleasure, as always.

Another number one this week, though this one doesn't have the same shocking cliffhanger ending as the others.  Still, it's a solid, atmospheric start.  Niles plants seeds for multiple stories and Worm's art sets the perfect tone for the dark series.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Indie Corner - 9/24/2014

The Squidder

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

I Kickstarted this and received the collected edition in the mail last week.  Issue four, if you're buying the singles, should be out either this week or next.  It's good; I like it.  Quick recap: Our dimension is being invaded by squid-like monsters, Earth creates modified human monsters to fight the squid.  The series takes place decades after humanity loses the war.  Typical Templesmith art, though the writing is more serious than Wormwood (Bonus recommendation: Check out Wormwood, it's awesome and funny).  Imagine a bad man in a bad world, just getting by, until someone gives him something to kill, and you won't be far off.  Sounds cliche, but I dug it.  Definitely recommended for any fans for Templesmith.

Oh Saga, you break my heart.  Top-notch issue from cover-to-cover in which everyone shows what they're really made of.  If you're not reading this by now, I don't know what to say.  It's great, and also terrible because Vaughan and Staples are putting the cast through the wringer.  And I can't wait for my next dose.

I have no idea where this series is going, but it's so full of surprises, gorgeous art, and believable characters, that I'm along for the ride.  This issue could be summed up with "Things go Awry" as basically nothing happens for anyone the way they'd planned it.  If the book focused a bit more on the characters and less on weird, mysterious things happening, it could easily have a following like Saga.  I recommend anyone into weird, mysterious things and gorgeous art to check out the first issue and see if it grabs you.  Spoiler alert: issues 2 - 6 have more of the same.

The opening arc of Samurai Jack was fantastic.  Great first issue, I had high hopes.  The arc ended sooner than I expected, and subsequent issues haven't quite lived up to the original high standard.  Until now.  Jack's sword lies broken, Aku knows it, and Jack's in some serious trouble.  I'm sure this will read much better as an eventual trade, since much of this issue is still set-up, but it's still great.  My only issue is that it's over so quickly.

While the book has an interesting premise (think Babylon 5 without the aliens), none of the characters are likable and there's not enough story to get me to come back for more.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Daily Draft: Lost

Hopelessly lost, and all other options exhausted, Toast stepped onto the teleporter pad looking for a way back to anything recognizable. He emerged onto a field, otherwise empty save for a domed home a short walk away. Shadows lifted from the map within his mind and he at once knew where he was again. But instead of instantly travelling home again, he lingered, intrigued by the simple-looking building. He approached, slowly, almost cautiously, despite not knowing why he felt apprehension toward this place. Toast found the home to be empty, seemingly abandoned some years passed. Not finding answers to any of his questions, Toast opened a portal back to VOID City, putting this strange place behind him. Though there was no one there to hear it, a quiet sobbing filled the air at Toast's parting, from the ghost that still haunts this place, for the husband she lost long ago.