Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Last Week's Comics Today - 04/25/2017

This isn't everything I bought, nor is it even everything I read, but it is everything I was able to write about within my own self-imposed time limit.

Pick of the Week
Super Sons #3 - I love these kids.  The series is only on issue three.  If you like the current Superman title, give this a try.  And Superman, by the way, is great, if you weren't already aware.

Superman #21 - Weird things are happening in this small town and I'm very intrigued.  Batman is missing (after investigating said weirdness last issue) and --his son-- Garth teams with Superman and Jon to find him.  And that's when the giant alien squid-thing attacks a fair.  Things get surprisingly heavy for a moment and I'm left wondering how no one realizes Jon is superboy.  Clark/Superman in a city is mildly believable.  Jon/Superboy in a tiny town is really not.

Honorable Mention
Aliens: Dead Orbit #1 - If you like Aliens, you should get this book.  Stokoe is a perfect fit for the technological and organic details of Giger's now classic designs.  I'm going to stop writing now so you finish reading this sooner and can go buy the book.  On sale Wednesday!  P.S. The writing is great too.

Cave Carson #7 - I didn't know Oeming drawing Superman was something I wanted.  All the violence, swearing, and trippy visuals of the previous six issues, only now with Superman.

Descender #21 - Another character gets thrown out of a hatch!  I can't be sure if they're dead or not.  It looks like it, but I expect confirmation one way or the other next issue... which starts Rise of the Robots!  I don't know what that entails (I've got a decent idea), but I expect great things as every issue is fantastic.  This series continues to be highly recommended.

God Country #4 - When this concludes with issue six, I may demand another series.  I'll wait to see how everything shakes out, but it seems like there's enough material to keep going.  Anyway, a man walks into hell to save his granddaughter and is confronted by something he wants even more.  From there, it's all consequences of one's actions.

Moon Knight #13 - Moon Knight's long, strange journey is almost over.  It's been a brilliant series and I'll miss it once it's over.  No, I will not mention anything that happens this issue.

Sex Criminals #18 - Some real heavy, deep discussions this issue, and it's all brilliant.  Then the book ends with a dick in the ear.  There's also a page with 64 panels on it, which is a sight to behold.

Shaolin Cowboy #1 - I saw at C2E2 over the weekend and had the pleasure of explaining to a friend the chainsaw bo staff used in an earlier series as we stood at Geoff Darrow's table.  The skull, the sword, the shark, the whole bit.  That issue happens to be my first exposure to Shaolin Cowboy, before I went back to get the previous issues.  I will now read any new material for as long as Darrow produces it.  No, I once again will not discuss what happens this issue.

Everything Else
Batwoman #2 - Boatloads of backstory and a good half dozen characters are introduced.  It's good, and interesting, and I get the feeling some of these characters will be in it for the medium- to long-haul while a few are all but certain to die before the end of the arc.

'Namwolf #1 - A werewolf taking part in the Vietnam war.  That either sets your curiosity on fire, or I don't think we can be friends.  Get it.  It goes on sale tomorrow.

Trinity #8 - I expected this to continue the Dark Trinity (not the one currently in Red Hood & The Outlaws) story that started last issue.  Instead we get an entire issue of Batman, Wonder Woman, and superman talking about Superman Reborn, --Dr-- Mr. Oz, and what it all means.  It's an easily skippable book.

Wild Storm #3 - I had to read the first few pages a couple times to get what was going on.  I wasn't paying close enough attention the first time through, went back, thought I knew what was going on, and then read it again just to be sure.  Anyway, after that bit of character introduction, a pretty awesome firefight breaks out just after Grifter's team meet Angela.  Granted, it's been a long time since I've read anything with Grifter in it, but he seems more awesome more than I ever remember him being.  Maybe that's Ellis' doing.  I like it.

World Reader #1 - The "story" is more of an introduction to the premise - aliens existed in the universe, but every planet we find with evidence of life is now dead.  However, the art is beautiful, there's nice character development, and the final pages interesting enough to get me to come back.  I'll see where this goes.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Recent Audiobook Reviews

There's two (really three (actually kinda four, except that two are in the same universe, so back to three??)) series below and while trying to keep spoilers to a minimum, reading later reviews will certainly spoil certain aspects from earlier in the series.  You've been warned.

InsomniaI struggled through the entire first half of this book, even joking it might be a cure for insomnia because it nearly put me to sleep more than once.  I only have experience with one other of King's books - The Gunslinger - the first in the Dark Tower series.  It's a book I enjoyed and I always meant to get back to the series someday.

My friend Dan is a big King fan and suggested this to me, though it had already been on my radar due to the occasional sleepless nights of my own.  That aspect - the deep inner-monologue of the main character's thoughts while suffering insomnia - kept me going during that first half while I wondered what the plot was.  I kept thinking, "This is well written but uninteresting" as contradictory as that seems.  I even met friends for dinner one night and asked, "Have any of you read Stephen King?" wondering if it was just me that didn't enjoy this best selling author.  There was group consensus King is boring, which made me feel vindicated, but I still didn't stop reading listening.  There was just enough interesting bits going on in the periphery of an old man getting less and less sleep each night to propel me forward.  Around the mid-point things both kicked into gear and went off the rails.  It's hard to discuss without spoiling things but I'll say the book has ties to The Dark Tower that rekindled by interest in the series.

I have no idea how to rate or recommend this.  The narration was brilliant and music added at tense and dramatic moments effectively amplifying the mood.  The first half was a fight to stay awake and when it got interesting, I was primarily interested in the bits that related to The Dark Tower.  I'm planning to read more Dark Tower and pass on anything else from King.

White Fire (Book 13 of the Pendergast series) - Nothing against New York, but I tend to prefer the Pendergast books set outside the city.  This is one of those, set in a small, affluent resort town in Colorado.  Being outside of New York City also means he's away from his usual supporting cast and the deep ongoing drama of his life.  Basically, there's no real foreknowledge needed despite this being the 13th book in the series, and there are enough references to prior events to fill you in on whatever is necessary.  He's in Colorado to help a friend get out of a pickle she blunders her way into while investigating 150-year-old bear maulings but winds up helping solve an arson case all while looking for a lost Sherlock Holmes story.  That makes more sense in context than when summarized into a single sentence.  I quite enjoyed it.

I don't remember where I first read about Gideon Crew (I've tried to find it again because I'd hoped to quote it but can't), but he sounded ridiculous.  Basically, he's your typical nuclear engineer, master chef, former thief, and master of disguise.  You know, a real everyman.  But I'm a big fan of an earlier Preston and Child book - The Ice Limit - and a sequel to that is the book fourth in Gideon's series, so I figured I'd give the guy a shot.

Gideon's Sword (Book 1) - The book starts with what seems like a clear mission that might take the length of a novel to resolve but actually wraps up in just a few listening hours.  From there, he's hired for a job by a recurring character from the Lincoln and Child universe and that guy's involvement helped propel me onward.  'cause I really like that guy and want to know/read more about him.  In a Liam Neeson particular-set-of-skills way, Gideon gets in WAY over his head yet manages to still save the day.  I'm kinda shitting on him and the book here, but it's entertaining and I enjoyed it.  Book 2 however...

Gideon's Corpse (Book 2) - The first book was good enough to get me to listen to the second.  However, if this had been the first, I doubt I would have continued.  The stakes are dramatically higher here than in the first book, but the pacing is much slower.  Reading them back-to-back, it was mildly infuriating.  There's also the fact that he develops feelings and has relationships with three women over these two books - this is set immediately following the previous book - in the span of about two weeks.  I don't think I have a single good thing to say about this book other than I got more of that character I vaguely mentioned liking above.

The Lost Island (Book 3) - This book's shift from its reasonably fictional beginning to fantastical ending is so slow, I stopped near the end to consider, "How did we get here?"  I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it.  It's well told but definitely goes off the rails.  The break-neck pacing is back which I think explains how the fantastical is so easily inserted - you don't get a moment to consider the absurdity of it.  The real draw for me here is this book is a stepping stone to the one I actually want to read - Beyond the Ice Limit, a sequel to the authors' early The Ice Limit which remains one of my favorites from the pair.  Those past and future events are mentioned multiple times here and each time my excitement grew.

The series is narrated by MacLeod Andrews, whose done nearly 300 books on Audible, but I'm most familiar with him from The Reckoners series.  In short, he's excellent.

The world the books are set in is roughly 19th century with rifles and trains and even a rudimentary punchcard computer.  I considered describing it as "steampunk without monocles" but there's so little detail given outside of the two main groups - Mages and Mechanics - that I don't feel comfortable describing it at all.  I've seen it called "Science Fantasy" but that seems so broad it's effectively meaningless.  Essentially, the Mages and Mechanics have carved out niches for themselves around magic and machinery, and everyone else is referred to as a Common.  Limited tech is given to Commons, but otherwise these groups don't share or get along with one another.

The series is six books long; I've read three of those in the last two weeks, and I'll likely read the rest of the series within the next month.  While I like the main characters and what they're trying to accomplish, I think the secret history of the world is the real hook for me.  I want to know more about the past as much as I'd like the see the ongoing storyline resolved.

The descriptions below are intentionally vague.  I should also note the titles of the books themselves are spoilers since each references something late in the third act.

The Dragons of Dorcastle (Book 1) - The first book started slow and I briefly considered returning it because the main character was so cold.  I hadn't realized this was intentional until the perspective switched the other main character.  At that point, the book really came alive as the two wildly different characters were thrust into adventure together.

The Hidden Masters of Marandur (Book 2) - This was an immediate purchase after finishing the first book.  Things unfold further as the main characters try to stay alive while the very powerful guilds try to have them killed and a prophecy mentioned in the first book is developed.

The Assassins of Altis (Book 3) - Even more attempts are made to capture and/or kill the main characters and unless I'm mistaken, there's a new antagonist keeping a low profile.  Where there were previously only hints as to the world's real history, the actual history is gone into here.

Last Week's Comics Today - 04/03/2017

I must have used up all my words last week as this week I'm back to my usual brevity.

Pick of the Week
Dark Knight III #8 - Damn, Wonder Woman was the shit.  Batman and Superman show up for a few pages, but this was Wonder Woman's show, and she owned it.  I still don't understand Lara, though.  Maybe her motivation will make sense next issue when this wraps up?

Honorable Mention
Aliens Defiance #10 - I saw a headline or ad this week saying the upcoming Aliens: Dead Orbit is the best thing to happen to Aliens in years.  I have no doubt it will be excellent but also feel that statement overlooks the fantastic work Brian Wood and a handful of artists have been doing for the last 10 issues.

Everything Else
Black Widow #12 - S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to be terrible at everything.  Seriously, how do they still exist?  Compassion trumps vengeance and two lines from Maria along with Tony's money sweep any lingering plot threads under the rug.

BPRD Hell On Earth v15 - I'm not ready for this to be over.  The end was suitably apocalyptic, but I was hoping for more closure.  This is all I find I'm able to say about it as I may be in denial about it being over.

Moonshine #6 - There's a whole lot of death this issue. I'm hoping someone still knows how to make the titular Moonshine, otherwise all this death is just over pride.  This issue marks the end of "Book 1", per the final page, so I'll eagerly be awaiting more as this is always one of the first I read each week it comes out.

The Sixth Gun v. 1 - I avoided this book for a long time because I had my own supernatural western comic I was working on.  Even when it became clear that comic wasn't going to happen, I still kept away.  Now, the series is complete and the team is working on their old series - which I quite enjoyed - The Damned.  This served as a reminder to me that I should finally give this series a try.

I like it and have since bought four more of the nine volume series.  Briefly, there's a set of guns, each imbued with a special power.  There's a gang in control of five of these guns, looking for the sixth, and a loosely held together group in opposition to them acquiring it.

The story moved far more quietly than I expected, and I found this quite satisfying.  Just reading it made me feel like I'd learned something about storytelling from it.

Transformers Lost Light #4 - Whirl and Cyclonus are brilliant together (as always).  Megatron is having a case of deja vu, hoping things will turn out differently this time.  Rodimus doesn't seem to care about what's going on, which seems off, but lets his true feelings known while getting into an argument with Megatron which should make for great drama down the line.  There's also a few pages with Anode and Lugnut, but I couldn't care less about them.

Transformers Till All Are One #8 - I'm lost.  There's a titan, but it's not the titan it's supposed to be.  And someone's locked up with a connection to the titan that's not supposed to be but gets out.  And necrotitans are killed, but it's not clear how many are still a threat.  And someone died (highly doubtful).  I miss the Cybertronian politics.  This extended action-sequence-with-a-twist has failed to impress.

Unfollow #17 - The cover says '40' but that's nowhere near true by the end.  The sprint to the finish continues as a whole lot more people die and Ferrell's plan is finally explained.  Those two sentences read as somewhat dismissive, but it's quite good.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Last Week's Comics Today - 03/27/2017

I find it amusing that I have to least to say about my Pick of the Week and more words than usual about all the other books this week.

Pick of the Week
Black Road #8 - This went about as I'd expected, and it was still brilliant to watch/read.  Magnus the Black brings a smile to my face.

Honorable Mention
Black Hammer #7 - The life and times of Black Hammer!  Further down the page I call out a book for not giving me a sufficient recap to remind me what was going on.  I read this book immediately after that one, so the crit is still fresh in my mind.  With just a couple references to what happened at the end of issue 6, I was back up to speed.  And this had a longer period between issues.  Anyway.  Some of the murky chronology of both worlds is cleared up here as well as getting a detailed look into Black Hammer's life (and death).  Also, there are New Gods/Norse Gods/Inhumans stand-ins created here that filled me with joy.  It remains one of the best superhero books going, but since it's from Lemire, that really shouldn't be a surprise.  The first collection is out soon.  I recommend getting it.

Deadly Class v5 - Multiple "oh shit!" moments throughout this as a new freshman class comes to school and the returning sophomores try to figure out where everyone stands after the last arc's finals.  Betrayal comes early and often, there are some incredible fights, a D&D game, and a three-page description of a fart.  There's a reason this is one of my favorite books - it's amazing.

Descender #20 - There's an ad at the back of the book for a five-part Descender event called Rise of the Robots.  I am, perhaps, more excited for this than I should be.  This is a great title, and this is a great issue in particular with some nice surprises, a wonderful cliffhanger, and a suspense-filled setup for next issue with a fleet arriving at the Machine Moon.  The digital collections regularly go on sale at imagecomics.com and Comixology.  I recommend grabbing them if you haven't tried the series yet.

Ghostbusters 101 #1 - Some of the panels in mine are blurry.  Never the whole page, just certain panels.  Like something was screwed up before printing.  Didn't hurt the reading experience too much, but it is unfortunate and worth mentioning.  That said, I love the IDW Ghostbusters.  When the ongoing series ended, I was bummed.  But since then we've gotten a steady stream (heh) of mini series and I'm thankful for every one.  The hook here is the two movie universes crossing over.  It's not yet clear what they'll be teaming up to capture, but I'm certain that will happen.  The B plot is pretty interesting - faced with what could be a crippling fine, Pete comes up with a new money-making plan.  Burnham and Schoening were always great at capturing the essence of the characters and putting it on the page.  It's still true for the cast of the new movie as well.

Peter Panzerfaust v5 - This was a long time coming.  I loved the concept of Peter Pan in World War II from the beginning and have thought of it often since it started back in 2012.  There was a stretch where I feared we'd never get a conclusion, but now I hold it in my hands.  The end was not what I expected and the character of John is not who I expected, yet I'm deeply satisfied by both.  Jenkins' art has always been very stylized and loose and it's evolved the the hiatus.  That's not a knock against the book, though I do think the coloring on earlier issues was better than some of the issues collected here.  But that doesn't put a damper on my enjoyment, especially seeing the big Peter/Hook battle.

Spread #20 - I'm not going to count the words, but the amount No speaks this issue might top the previous 19 issues combined.  It's a little weird seeing him as something other than a Logan-esque killing machine with occasional bouts on non-killing, but at the same time, it's nice.  While we don't learn a ton about No, what we do learn here is significant.  We also learn about Hope and that final page from last issue.  It's quite a bit, and lest you think it's an issue full of exposition, Jack gets in trouble and fills this issue's murdering requirement.

Everything Else
Birthright #23 - While torturing Mikey for information, Mastema learns some troubling new information.  She "asks" a follow-up question, but we don't get an answer.  I believe the answer to that question is going to be 'yes' and that can mean nothing good.  The whole issue reads like the second-to-last in a story arc, except that the actual end is issue 25, so expect the crazy and drama to be ramped up even higher next issue. 

The Few #3 - This addresses the problem areas of previous issues.  Out of their travelling gear, the characters are easy to distinguish from one another.  Also, given context, Hale's actions and hallucinations make far more sense.  It's still good and I still like it, but with the series now half over, I don't know if it's better to grab the three issues that are out or wait for trade.  If you can find it, and you're interested, you might as well grab the first issue and see if it tickles your fancy.

Reborn #5 - Featuring Bonnie's husband!  And he's not a piece of shit like I expected!  Spoiler?  But all that foreshadowing from earlier in the series has to be leading to some kinda pay-off and this issue had shifty eyes and mentions of Bonnie's mother, so... The reveal at the end of this wasn't a big twist -- there's still one coming.  But hey, I've gotten this far and haven't mentioned Capullo's fantastic art.  I never read his Spawn run, so reading this series actually reminds me most of the Angela mini-series from way back  (which I think I've mentioned before, but it's true every issue).  I enjoyed Batman, but seeing him cut loose on this series is a real joy.

The Spirit: Corpsemaker #2 - This is better than the first issue... but I've also forgotten about what the characters are only vaguely referring to here.  If the first issue gets its basic grammar corrected, this could be a good trade, but The Black Beetle remains superior.  I'll finish the series, but if you haven't tried The Black Beetle, get that instead.

Teen Titans #6 - This issue is better than the entire first arc.  Team established, it's time to get on with adventuring.  And now with Aqualad!  Well, featuring Aqualad, as he hasn't joined the team or even met the team yet.  Yet.  Garth + Damian banter isn't quite as good as Jon + Damian, but it's up there.

TMNT #68 - After the brutal trouncing the Mutanimals took last issue, Hob goes looking for help.  Meanwhile, the Mutanimals themselves aren't exactly helpless without him.  Pete, remains forever, comic relief.  Leo's struggle with leadership seems forced, though.  The turtles' interpersonal conflicts at home are one thing, but he shouldn't be having issues in the field.  Especially given that he just faced nearly the same situation in Universe a few issues ago.  Mateus' art is a highlight, as always.

Unworthy Thor #5 - Not the ending I was expecting.  Which could be considered a spoiler.  It makes an okay end to the mini-series, but what I'm sure will be a far more satisfying eventuality for Odinson.  Since I didn't read Original Sin, I don't know the context in which Fury whispered what he did to Thor, but learning what he said makes him look like an asshole.  The final page is a bit frustrating since we just had one of these mysteries.  Hopefully this one isn't dragged out for eight issues like the last one.  Despite these complaints, the issue was awesome.  Much ass was kicked and characters got what was coming to them.  Though I'm still not sure why Thanos got roped into this.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Last Week's Comics Today - 03/21/2017

I wish the good comics were a bit more spread out each month.  I didn't have much to read last week (re: two weeks ago), and then this week's overflowing with 'em.  I can't complain too much, though, since I was able to catch up on some trades.

Pick of the Week
Super Sons #2 - This book is amazing.  Tons of action, comedy, a little horror, a flabbergasted Lex, and some brief looks into the hearts of our main characters.  The book even addresses Superboy's absence from the Teen Titans comic.  Fantastic reading.

Honorable Mention
Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye #6 - Wild Dog gets all the best lines.  Also, ouch!  The crew take drugs before fighting a giant subterranean slug god and it's all rendered by Oeming.  If that doesn't spark your interest, I can't imagine what will.

Ether #5 - I'm always glad when I get to the end of a mini-series I like, like this one, when it says, "End volume 1."  It gives me hope for the series to continue.  And I really hope this does.  Each issue injects heartbreaking emotion into just a few pages or panels between all the wild adventure.  It works incredibly well.  I've already pre-ordered the collection and recommend you do the same.

Kill Or Be Killed #7 - This is a Kira special.  If you're anything like me, then the shotgun and hair color change on the cover threw you as much as it did me.  She's Dylan's ex-girlfriend.  Dylan's our main character, if you really haven't been paying attention.  I found it very interesting.  I really wasn't sure how involved she'd be in the series given how their relationship had ended, but this seems to indicate she'll be around for a while.  The usual inner-monologue narration I love is still present.

Daytripper - Amazon tells me I bought this in August of 2010.  That's entirely my fault for not reading it until now.  I'd like to say as little as possible about this so readers can experience it fresh, like I did, so I won't say too much expect that it's fantastic.  Like I did with Edena a few weeks back, here's a carefully edited Amazon description:

DAYTRIPPER follows the life of one man, Bras de Olivias Dominguez. Every chapter features an important period in Bras’ life in exotic Brazil.  In every chapter, the story follows him through his entire existence – one filled with possibilities of happiness and sorrow, good and bad, love and loneliness. Each issue rediscovers the many varieties of daily life, in a story about living life to its fullest – because any of us can die at any moment.

Excuse me while I go order Two Brothers, which has similarly been sitting on my wish list for too long and is also created by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.  At the very least, I hope you're familiar with them and their work.

Everything Else
All Star Batman #8 - Anyone thinking Mad Hatter isn't a major league Batman villain should read this book to learn just how close he came to convincing Batman he's insane.  Really impressive writing to accomplish that with art that varied in style based on Bruce's mental state.  I repeat: really impressive.

Batwoman #1 - Has Julia been in Detective?  Last I saw she was working for the cops at the end of Snyder's Batman run.  Working with Kate seems more her speed, though the relationship isn't fully defined as even Kate questions it at one point.  This is the Batwoman comic I've been wanting since Blackman and Williams walked off during New52.  It's getting added to my pull.

Casanova Acedia #8 - As you'll see further down the list, it's been a week for focusing on female side-characters.  In this case, it's a certain young girl with a perchant for violence and a father that's extremely thorough.  Any week with new Casanova is an automatic win for me.  Ba's art is spectacular as always, but Moon's colors really make everything pop.

God Country #3 - This family can't seem to catch a break.  Or maybe any break they do catch is short lived.  Roy has a conversation with his wife while their daughter and his father play outside.  Er, sorry, they weren't playing because Valofex is not a toy.  And then all hell breaks loose.  Perhaps literally!  It seems some of the best series are actually mini series that end three months from now.  This included.  I kinda miss it already.

Invincible #134 - Surprisingly, this wasn't instantaneous murder-death-kill, but a gathering of forces as Mark tries to get Nolan to join in the fight against Thragg and Allen makes a confession to Mark.  It's good, though I'm still filled with a creeping dread for what's inevitably to come.

Justice League #17 - Basically an entire issue of talking as babyface-Brainiac Timeless makes their (?) big move and the League get into position to blow things up on a massive scale.  Still, it's entertaining talk and contrary to my previous belief, Hitch does seem to be paying attention to what other creators are doing.  Heck of a final page, too.

Lucifer #16 - There are quite a few plans in motion by a number of different characters here.  This checks in with most of them, albeit briefly.  My only wish would be for a tiny bit more character re-establishment upon scene changes, especially when it's been a few issues since we last saw someone.  The series has a large cast and it's a lot to mentally juggle.

Mighty Thor #17 - Thor vs the Shi'ar gods continues.  Also, we learn what set the Shi'ar gods off in the first place and there are more boats vs spaceships.  It's a whole lot of fun, even if the Shi'ar seem to be singing from Earth's bible.

Sex Criminals #17 - Similar to Kill or Be Killed, this is a special issue focused on Kegelface Mrytle Spurge.  Well, half-focused, as she tracks down a sex criminal, the other half focusing on the creation of the aforementioned sex criminal.  It's... very interesting.  Still funny, but not as funny as usual.  Still honest, but with a clear narrative the team wanted to tell, there wasn't as much room for the series' usual dialogue.

Superman #19 - I did skip Part 2 of Superman Reborn that was in Action Comics.  Thanks to news sites, I read a preview of the issue, confirmed Jurgens is still a terrible writer, and learned who fake - Clark had been.  So it feels like I didn't miss anything at all.  This issue is all kinds of weirdness and allusions to bigger things.  It's not great on it's own (though the Jon bits are good) though makes for a very interesting read on whatever DC are doing to Superman 'n' family as a whole.  Hoping for answers and a satisfying ending to this story.

Trinity #7 - This is the first of Cullen Bunn's two issues, though given how well he writes Ra's, Lex, and Circe, I'd be okay with him taking over if Manapul ever leaves.  There's a lot of posturing and insults as these three come together for reasons unknown.  I'm interested to see where this leads.

Wild Storm #2 - Things are heating up, as next issue should see multiple conflicting agendas converge.  This issue was all prep and name-dropping, but good nonetheless.  Of all the re-designed characters, it's Marlowe I can't get used to.  I think the head's too small.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Last Week's Comics Today - 03/13/2017

There were a few new #1s this week, but they weren't quite as good as those from recent weeks and I'm leaning toward not adding any of them to my pull.  In any other month, they might have made the cut.

Pick of the Week
Lady Killer 2 #4 - Gorgeous art, great writing... honestly, I can't understand why more people aren't reading this.  I've said it before and will repeat it again here - I hope Lady Killer continues as a series of mini-series since I'd love to get more and this arc is nearly over.

Gotham Academy #7 - I enjoy a good mind-fuck, and this has a great one, going back to the very beginning of Second Semester.  Olive's in trouble, Colton's expulsion remains stalled for another issue, and Pomeline finds a disappointing (to me) secret.  I expect quite a lot to happen next issue.

Honorable Mention
Edena - This would have been my Pick of 2016, if I'd actually read the collection when Dark Horse published it last fall.  I had no idea how to describe the series other than using words like "mind-blowing" and "beautiful" which don't really do it justice.  So I wandered over to Wikepedia to see how they did it.  (I don't recommend doing this yourself since it gives a high-level overview of the early chapters and I think readers should go into this with as little preexisting knowledge as possible).  A spoiler-free sample describes it thusly:

Questions are posed about dreams, nutrition and health, biology and sexuality, the human desire to live in a structured society, and archetypal good and evil. All of these philosophical elements are organically embedded in deceptively 'light' stories.

It's ultimately about humanity, which seems vague and unhelpful now that I've written it out, but it really is about all those things in the quote while actually being about two people struggling their way through a wild series of adventures and unexpected turns.  The ride is just as wild for the reader, the story escalating ever more until it ultimately, couldn't support itself any longer.  The end caught me by surprise.  Within a few pages I was disappointed, confused, and finally overjoyed.  Yes, it ends well, even though I just said the story collapses in on itself at the end.  Just read it, you'll see.

Regarding the art, "Moebius restricted himself to a 'Clear Line' style (Ligne Claire), with minimal details." ... which, sure, is true, but strips the description of life.  Basically, you could take any page out of this book, frame it, and stick it on a wall.  It's gorgeous and I found my eye lingering on the art more than once.  

Highest possible recommendation.

Everything Else
Grass Kings #1 - Recommended for fans of Briggs Land.  There's something weird going on in an otherwise sleepy town.  Sleepy-ish.  Sleepy as long as they're left alone.  It's interesting but it's also entirely introduction.  There's simply not enough meat here to sink my teeth into it.  It might make a good collection, though.

Green Valley #6 - I don't believe I've spoiled this series up to this point - and I'd like it to say that way - which makes talking about anything from this issue rather difficult.  I guess I can say the cast confront the wizard again and things go even less well now than the last time.  If Landis can stick the landing on this, I'll grab the collection for my shelf.

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys #1 - I nearly forgot about this one.  I was going to publish this piece when I saw Nancy on top of the stack waiting to be filed.  If this comic were a TV show, I'd watch it.  It's very well written, but it should have had a better artist on art.

Planetoid Praxis #2 - ruh-roh.  Another time-jump and lots of new people join this planetoid.  It's good and I'd rather not say anything more than that.

Redline #1 - Minor spoiler here, but the issue ends with the main character getting hit in the head and lying on the ground with a gash in his head.  I recently read a comic where a dog gets shot at the end of one issue and it's revealed he's not dead the next... so this seems survivable, though I'm not assuming anything.  It's a mystery/comedy in a sci-fi setting with military and action elements.  It's entertaining, though not quite enough to get me to add to my pull list.

TMNT Universe #8 - The story of Metal-Don ends here... or at least for now as he's put on the shelf, hopefully to be re-visited again.  I don't really like what was done with him, but to offer my alternative would spoil all the developments.  The series continues to be nice supplemental material that's not as good as the main series.  The back-up would have been a nice article since it's interesting though the art doesn't really add anything to it.

Wicked & Divine #27 - The problem with double-page grid layouts is I always question whether I should be reading left-to-right across both pages or just the one and then move to the next row.  Sometimes glancing at the panels is enough to determine which way to read, other times it's an awkward jump in conversation that tells me I'm reading it wrong.  This issue has both, and only the background color swaths helped me figure out which was right for the given situation.  Gods here are more wicked than divine as various things are set in motion.  It's entertaining, despite the confusion.

Bonus
Logan - In short, I liked it.  The violence seemed fitting, never gratuitous.  The swearing, however, did tend to venture into gratuitous territory.  It's like once deciding the movie would get an "R" rating, the writer changed every expletive to "fuck."  I tend to favor more variety in my swears.

There's still the usual problem with the bad guy's plan not really making any sense, but I found that fairly easy to overlook until Dr. Rice showed up.  Pierce made sense.  His motivation and intent were simple.  Then there's the suspension of disbelief-breaking cell phone video that'd clearly received some post-production editing and things take a turn until the on-creeen performances of Jackman, Keen, Stewart, Holbrook, Merchant,  and a surprise appearance by Eriq La Salle captivate the audience enough to forget the details.

I'd been thinking what made the movie work so well was how it focused on people, not powers, then my wife said nearly the same thing over the weekend.  So many X-Men movies have tried to show off everyone's abilities they forget to tell a decent story.  Whenever I talk about Apocalypse, I say, "It's a great Magneto movie."  Other than a nice bit about Mystique stepping up, the heart of that movie is Magneto and Quicksilver.  Everything else is forgettable.  This should be the take-away for Hollywood, but I fear they'll see an "R" rated movie make a bunch of movie and draw the wrong conclusions.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Last Week's Comics Today - 03/05/2017

It's a great week for indies as I've already added three #1s from the week to my pull list.  I mentioned in one of my posts last week that Edena is the best thing I'm reading, but I can't write about it until I'm done.  That continues to hold true.  It's glorious.

Pick of the Week
Extremity #1 - I suspect this book is going to put Daniel Warren Johnson on the map.  I thought the art looked familiar but I couldn't place it until I looked him up - he did Ghost Fleet.  Which basically no one read.  I thought it had hints of James Harren from some of the action here.  Anyway, the book is really good.  It's about revenge, and fear, and grief, and living up to expectations and there's flying bikes, and floating islands, and a robot hand, and a weird tooth mask, and a bird eating out of some dude's empty eye socket.  I'd say, "Recommended for people that like 'Title X'." except I'd have to list dozens of things to properly cast a net wide enough.  Instead, just pay your $3.99 and buy a copy yourself.

Honorable Mention
Paper Girls #12 - Congratulations!  ~ sad trombone ~    That won't make any sense unless you've read the issue.  This book continues to put a smile on my face every issue.  I love the art, love the writing.

Royal City #1 - The conundrum is where to put this.  I'm confused by what I just read, which means it doesn't earn the top spot this week... but I kinda like the confusion.  And at the same time, it's my fault..?  Maybe I should actually blame Lemire, but I'm sure I'm at least partially to blame since I thought the old guy at the beginning was the same as the guy in the car when I turned the page.  I thought the whole thing was an extended flashback.  So that's part of it and the other part is Tommy.  That's the confusion I like.  Recommended for fans of Underwater Welder.

Savage Things #1 - Note: The interior art is better than the cover.  Maybe it's just me, but I got a bit of a Ales Kot's Zero vibe - the early issues, before everything went off the rails.  I do wonder if at any point during the secret governmental meeting that decided to take child sociopaths and turn them into super-agents, if anyone raised their hand and asked, "But what if it all goes horribly wrong?"  Maybe this is their contingency.  Only way to know for sure is to keep reading.

Everything Else
Justice League #16 - The brakes get pumped from the fast-paced insanity of last issue for a lot of explanations and vague hints at things still to come.  It works better than the prior sentence makes it sound.  Just three things: 1) Hitch references another DC book! (does it still count if it was his own previous series?) 2) Every time a character mentions a "storm" - in this case referring to the time-attack that's going on - I think, "A Wild Storm??"  (probly not) 3) The Timeless should have been designed to look a little different than baby-faced Brainiacs.

Moon Knight #12 - Much like the new Legion show on FX, I'm constantly wondering how much of this is happening in reality vs only in the lead's head.  Here, Marc teams up with Moon Knight, as well as his other personalities to free a goddess.  Also, there's a B plot that involves an old villain that I'm completely unfamiliar with because I've only read the recent Moon Knight.  I suspect Lemire has an end in mind for the series as it seems to have been leading to a single confrontation since the beginning.  I'll be sticking around to see it.

Superman #18 - This is one long inciting incident.  Despite all my trash-talk toward Jurgens and vow not to read Action Comics for this crossover... I'm kinda curious.  Maybe because not enough happened here to satisfy, or maybe because things were left so open I'd like to know what's actually going on.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Last Week's Comics Today - 02/27/2017

I thought most of this week's books were okay, until I started writing all the reviews.  That's when the wheat really separated from the chaff and I remember all the good books I'd read nearly a week ago.  Which is why Honorable Mention is so stacked.

Pick of the Week
Fix #8 - The mayor is on the cover, but not in the issue.  Pretzels, however, is all up in this.  And the book still manages to inject humor even while slowly crushing your heart.  Also, are both leads independently deciding to do their jobs better?  How crazy would that be?  If you're a fan of the humor of Sex Criminals, you should be reading this book.

Honorable Mention
Black Road #7 - There's a subtitle on the cover, "A Magnus the Black Mystery."  I noticed this early on and thought it was cool - a nice indication for a hopefully long-lasting title.  But I took notice of it again this issue, specifically the "mystery" part.  'cause I gotta say, it seems pretty straightforward to me.  Christians and Northmen don't get along.  There's going to be religion and death.  I mean, clearly.  I read this last night and kept thinking about it today - cool moments in the issue and what's to come in the next.  I'm loving it.

Descender #19 - This damn book.  It's like Saga in that it's incredibly good and makes me feel feelings... except no one else is talking about it.  One of my first reads every month and one I most anticipate.

Frostbite #6 - I had no idea this was a mini series.  I've talked about how I thought this series and Unfollow could be the next breed of Vertigo titles to hit 60 issues, and now both are ending within weeks of each other.  If you were ever curious about Frostbite, I absolutely recommend picking up the trade.  I'll hold out hope for another series since I continue to think it could sustain it and the end perfectly invites additional exploration of the world.

Few #2 - I'd like this a bit better if Sherman made the characters more visually distinct.  A good chunk is tall people in masks walking around in the snow, but when the masks come off, it's dramatically more clear who's-who.  The story and world remain compelling.  Per solicits, it's only a six-issue mini series (though for some reason, called a maxi-series (because the page count is higher?)), which is unfortunate because I'm really enjoying it.

Everything Else
Belfry - This was good.  If it had been a series rather than a one-shot, I probably would have added it to my pull list.  For anyone that enjoys Hardman's art and horror, I suggest grabbing it.

Justice League Of America #1 - This was okay.  Pretty standard superhero comic, and standard hasn't been good enough for a long time.

Old Guard #1 - It's interesting enough that I'll grab the first arc to see where it's going.  The art is okay, but I don't think it's as good as it should be for a Rucka book.  A lot of that comes down to character faces which are large, weirdly proportioned, and have perspective issues.  The art is sometimes helped but frequently further hindered by the bright, simple coloring.  It's like no one on this creative team was on the same page.  Writing this, I may have just talked myself out of buying the first arc.

Teen Titans #5 - Two things: 1) I feel like the Ra's thing ended as best it could.  Which was actually pretty good; he was suitably disgusted by the outcome and his own descendant.  2) I'm pretty sure the ending here gives the Batman writers a reason not to include Damien in their books.  I mean, they weren't before, but now there's something they can point to when asked why he's never around.  I'm looking forward to Aqualad.

TMNT Universe #7 - It's hard to put too much stock into anything this series does.  Maybe I'll ultimately be proven wrong, but it feels like the Agents of SHIELD show whereas the main series as Marvel's movies.  Sure, things will get referenced back and forth, but you know where the real talent and focus are on the main stage.

Transformers Lost Light #3 - That's not Rung.  I've already written one Saga comparison this week, so why not another?  On an issue-to-issue basis, Saga isn't always amazing (I almost went with "stellar" instead of "amazing" but couldn't let myself do that).  However, each arc starts slow and builds to something phenomenal and/or crushing and great moments along the way.  More Than Meets The Eye was a lot like that, and I'm guessing Lost Light is continuing that considering it's the same creative team and all.  Good stuff happens here, but it's building toward something much greater.

The Wicked + The Divine - There's a new terrible thing and still no one can get along.  I'm less interested in the new bad that's coming for the cast and more interested in the varied and always entertaining way the cast interact with one another.  There's going to be a lot of fallout from decisions made here.  It's gonna be great.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Last Week's Comics Today - 02/20/2017

I normally start placing these into categories as I write them knowing some will move later as the scale their judged against changes.  This week I find seven books in Honorable Mention (with more good ones in Everything Else that missed the mark by a hair).  The thought of picking a single title above the others is more daunting than I care to engage in.  So it's a 7-way tie!

Pick of the Week
Not for a lack of good books, I just couldn't pick this week.

Honorable Mention
Ether #4 - Another amazing issue full of childhood fantasy and heartbreak.  I need to buy a hardcover of the eventual collection because it's absolutely shelf-worthy and I need to be able to lend it to people at a moment's notice.  Just shove it in their hands and tell them to start reading.

God Country #2 - Another comic this week where the fighting is done with words and a brilliant last page.  I recommend jumping on board now because this is a title you're going to continue hearing about.

Invincible #133 - It's great seeing Ottley back on art; it feels like he's been gone a long time.  The issue itself was an emotional rollercoaster with multiple characters using violence to process their emotions.  Terra and Mark's parents provided the levity while a quiet moment between Mark and Eve filled me with dread.  Well done, gentlemen.

Justice League #15 - This is what I've been waiting for.  Big, mad ideas coupled with great art and loads of action.

Mighty Thor #16 - I've given this title some smack in recent months, comparing it unfavorably to Unworthy Thor.  This issue, however, kicked serious ass.  Sif vs Cul, Thor vs Shi'ar gods, Volstagg vs the Congress of Worlds, and spaceships vs arrows not only advanced multiple plotlines, but did so with clever dialogue and massive-scale action.  I didn't care about the Shi'ar War before this issue; now I need more.

Sex Criminals #16 - Long before Kill or Be Killed was stealing thoughts out of my head, there was Sex Criminals.  It chronicled all the weird, wonderful, awkward personal and relationship stuff, and it's back.  There's an extremely informative recap up front since it's been quite a while since the last issue came out.  Note: these guys haven't lost a step.

Super Sons #1 - How about that last page?!  Next issue is going to be fantastic.  right after I finished reading this I texted a friend, "Your next must-read Rebirth title is Super Sons.  Jon + Damian is amazing, hilarious, and completely ridiculous."  I want only Tomasi and Gleason to write these characters.  The art is a great pairing for these young and energetic characters.  Recommended.

Everything Else
Batwoman Rebirth #1 - If you read previous Batwoman series, there's nothing new here except teaser snippets at the back about upcoming event.  If you haven't, this is a crash course is Batwoman.  I can only hope they're done recapping and the series can actually start when it starts next month.

Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye #5 - I read this days ago but didn't write anything at the time.  These are "reviews" in the loosest sense of the word.  More vague summaries, first impressions, tangential anecdotes, and sometime recommendations.  So I needed to flip back through it again to refresh.  Stopped on Wild Dog's bad trip and again for the "Fuck my life" panel which brought a smile to my face.  Pretty sure I actually laughed out loud the first time I read that, which is pretty incongruous considering the situation they're in.  I still love this book.

Kill Or Be Killed #6 - Dylan is completely fucked and he doesn't have the first clue.  For the first time this series, we get an extended look at what's going on away from Dylan.  Two forces are now gunning for him (perhaps literally) and by the time he's aware, it will likely be too late.  Another great issue from a great series.

Lucifer #15 - I gotta say, again, the new writer is doing well.  Everyone's making or putting plans into action.  Nothing really to say beyond that.  Still enjoying it.  And that's absolutely supposed to be Constantine, down to the carbon-copy origin.

Spread #19 - Not a significant amount happens here but some major information is given and there's a shocking final page I immediately want to know more about.

Superman #17 - A well made done-in-one.  It was great seeing Jon again (I haven't read Super Sons yet) and it's always great seeing him with Kathy.  If this series were a TV show, this issue would be one people remember and talk about years after it went off the air.  A little monster-of-the-week, a lot of weird, and I don't think we really got any satisfactory answers... it was brilliant.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #67 - Poor Slash.  But even more than that, poor Mutanimals.  Eesh.  My nephew is talking about getting his first apartment with some friends and my response was, "That's something everyone should experience at least once."  The Turtles are going through it now with Splinter not around for the first time in their lives.  It's well written, especially the scene between Leo and Splinter.  And Santolouco is back on art, which always makes me happen.

Trinity #6 - This didn't really stick the landing.  Great opening issues, but last issue with Mongul in a dream with Poison Ivy's daughter... it didn't really work.  That all wraps up here with a hasty memory erasure since she absolutely would have had follow-up questions and that's clearly not in the cards.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next arc and Manapul coming back on after that.  I still like his work, just hope the ending works better next time.

Unfollow #16 - This week's trend of final page stunners continues!  Early on in this series I said I could see it running for 60 issues like previous Vertigo greats.  Alas, that isn't going to happen as the book closes out two issue from now.  But it absolutely could have.  There's a lot of unmined material here, though the sudden speeding up of events hasn't made it any less great.  The counter on the front of #17 will be much lower than this issue's.

Wild Storm #1 - It's okay.  A decent, albeit subtle start.  It's interesting to contract this with Justice League from Hitch also out today.  I'll stick around to see where it's going, mostly to see more characters and actually see where this whole thing is going.