Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Just on down the road a little

For the time being, I am folding this blog into my "main" blog My Three Dollars Worth. Any comic commentary or reviews I have for the foreseeable future will be posted there. I also have an Amazon store link on that site with recommendations for what I consider some of the best comics available.

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Heroes Con 2007 Sketches

I have a monster themed sketch book and here are some of the great sketches I got this year.
Click on a picture to get the full effect. I hope to be able to post a little more about the con in a day or so - I had a blast. I also plan to scan in the sketch I got from 70's artist extraordinary Nick Cardy!

The Candlemaker by Richard Case, the infamous world-destroying monster from his and Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol. Richard actually did this for me last year and it's a great start to the sketch book.

Paul Hornschemeier, author of The Three Paradoxes (review coming soon), Mother Come Home, and many other quality works, draws a fearsome creature reminiscent of his cover to Let Us Be Perfectly Clear.
Eric Powell does the Hombre del Lagardo from The Goon.
Brian Hurtt of The Damned drew a boss demon.
Jeremy Haun - The Leading Man and Battle Hymn draws a Chtuluian nightmare.
Andy Runton, of Owly fame, one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet draws one of the cutest monsters ever.

Georges Jeanty of The American Way and current Buffy artist draws a fearsome creature that seems right at hom in the Buffy-verse.

Kyle Baker (Plastic Man, Nat Turner) had a blast drawing Fin Fang Foom.

Dean Trippe, featured in Superior Showcase #1 (Adhouse) drew the Yeti. He said he almost made it the "confetti yeti", which sounded like a cool idea to me.
Andy Kuhn of Firebreater fame drew this fearsome Frankenstein.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yes, this is what it takes to get me to post

Santa outs his brother, the "Dimestore Merlin."

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Sound of Silence

Superman Special Edition

I went to the comic store this week before they had a chance to file all the new comics (sorry, y'all!) so I only have part of my loot this week so far.

All Star Superman 6- well, it's just super, thanks for asking. A very touching and wholesome (can you really use that word today in comics?) account of young Clark mixed in with fun Silver-Age Superman wackiness courtesy of Grant Morrison and the artistic talents of Frank Quietly. Rowwf!

Superman Confidential 3 - thought #1 was meh, thought #2 was really good, thought this one was meh again with some very confusing sequences. (Why do I care about the opening sequence? What is going on? and what's going on exactly at the end?) The beginning is surprisingly bad storytelling by Cooke, but don't know if Sale or Cooke is responsible for the befuddling end.

Amazing Spider-Man 537 - blah blah blah. I love Cap - and, yes, he's supposed to be able to easily recite quotes from great Americans, but nobody, not even Cap, would memorize THAT much. And, really, I hate to say it as an English major, but it's boring and the point was made in the first few panels. This did nothing to advance the plot. And why is Kingpin after Spidey? Serves me right for not reading Civil War I guess.

52 35 - Mark Fossen summed it up well enough. For my part, better than last issue, a decent issue, not its best.

Monday, January 01, 2007

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Broadcast Program

Um, hi! I'm back at least for a little while! Did you miss me?

I had a stack of comics that I finally got through (well mostly, I've still got to catch up on some new titles.)

Here's a brief look at some titles I have read

52 remains very uneven and I thought that #34 was very talky and not at all intresting.

Action 844 and 845 - cutsey and okay, but I really didn't want to see the Superman movie in the comic.

All-Star Superman - This is my favorite title of the year (when it came out). The perfect superhero comic book.
Amazing Spider-man - I won't dignify this title with a review. Pitiful.

Astonishing X-Men 18-19 - what? huh? pretty!

Batman - I loved Mandrake and Ostander in the Spectre. This story line is a bad LOTDK that they must have done in their sleep. Quite terrible. Please do Morrison or nobody else. Batman Confidential #1? Dreck.

Batman and the Mad Monk 3-5 - just excellent storytelling/art as always and a damn fine story. Keep doing more of these Matt!
Captain America - how can this be so good and be a tie-in to Civil War? Really good stuff. But it's Brubaker, what do you expect?

Daredevil - not a surprise hit (just a hit). Really good stuff. But it's Brubaker, what do you expect?

Desolation Jones 7-8- Ellis doing crime, perversion and nihilism as only he can.

Detective - The last issue I got was the Joker/Robin issue and it was very good actually. Unfortunately, I was too offended by the Poison Ivy gratuitious storyline to continue this title.

Fables - continues to be excellent every month and the one title I look forward to the most. The Christmas issue was very interesting, a nice one-off that added to the larger story arc.

Immortal Iron Fist 1-2 - surprise hit of the year. Really good stuff. But it's Brubaker, what do you expect?

Invincible 27/38 - has been pretty good. Kirkman has stayed away from most of the gross violence that has pestered this title a few times. I've dropped it however in protest of Kirkman's treatment of his gay lead in Marvel Team-Up.
Jack of Fables 1-6 - I'm not sure yet how I feel about this title - if I like it or not. I'm not sure what it's supposed to be - or how it's supposed to be different from Fables, but it's entertaining enough and has enough of the Fables type mythology twists that I enjoy so to keep me interested. I've given it to the end of 7 to see if I continue.

Superman Confidential - the second issue, which I quite like, was much better than the first. Shows good promise.

The Lone Ranger 1-3 - just okay. The plot is moving at a snail's pace. The art is a bit too 90's in places. This could be a much stronger work if it had better plotting. Interesting introduction spices things up at the end of #3.

Nextwave: Agents of Hate 8-11 - about to come to an end, sadly, because it's been a damn fun ride this year. One of the best titles of the year just because it never took itself or any comic book seriously and just had fun. Many people are making much out Nextwave #11's mural of Commie Pinko Gorrillas, laser-eye Stephen Hawkings, the Wolvarillas, Snakes on the Planesand much ado about the Modok Elvii, but does anyone freaking care about the appearance of The Living Brain!!?? No? But! Oh...

New Universal #1 - this could go either way at this point, but I'm going with promising for now. It's good enough to make me want to try #2.
Powers 20-21 -I still struggle with the question of does the hyper-violence, harsh language, and frequently sexist attitudes serve the story and tone of the book or is it gratuitous? Depending on the issue, it could be either. I'm not fond of the Deena and Walker getting powers story idea, but I'm willing to see how it continues to play out.
Superman - Busiek and Pacheco are a great team on this very fun title. Making me care about Superman is not an easy thing and I'm loving this title.
Spider-Man loves Mary Jane - adorable - a real treat on a monthly basis and the best Spider-man book out there.

Spider-Man Reign #1 - DE-pressing. Very bleak and morbid. Not at all what I'd want from a Spider-man story. And as others have commented, very derivative in several aspects of The Dark Knight Returns. Not fun at all although I almost feel compelled to get the other issues to see Peter turn it around. If he doesn't, though, it will be just too damn depressing to stand.

Thunderbolts 107-109 - merciful wrap up to the most exposition heavy comic book ever. Fabian I'm afraid took the fun out of this book by making things so damn complicated he wasted at least 3/4 of each book explaining (and not always well) what was going on. I'm not sure if the Ellis take-over is good or bad. In many ways I just want this to die.

True Story Swear to God 1-2 - I found #2 to be exceptionally good. Belands' relaunch at Image has kept the story going for those of us who know it and seems like it would be accessible for those new to it. I hope he's seeing a rise in visibility for this excellent work.

Ultimate Power 1-2 - porn face.

Ultimate Spider-man - the clone storyline is pretty wild but fun; we'll see how it all turns out before rendering final judgment. I thought the twist about Peter's dad was pretty obvious.

Welcome to Tranquility #1 - was okay but not really my cup of tea, surprisingly. I thought I would enjoy an Astro City-esque take on retired heroes but found Googe's nose circles very distracting and the discussion of the Gentleman's sexuality off-putting. The worse crime? This was boring; I didn't care about any of the characters. Doody.

Wildcats #1 /Authority #1 - wacky, crazy, Marvel-Boy-lite fun /um, ok, that was different - much less fun.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Sound of Silence

First, some thoughts from Steven Grant on reviewing. (Thanks to Johanna for pointing this out).

Now, some with that column to make me feel a little better about these very short reviews.

52 #21 - Predictable advancing of the Luthor super-team plot. A minor half-step forward on Dibney's story. Not a very interesting issue. Meh.

Action Comics #843 - A fine story, but pales in comparison to what Busiek is doing over in the Superman title. To steal Chris's at theISB review, it is serviceable but felt like a stock story.

Batman #657 - Not as excellent as the previous two issues, but a VERY interesting ending. The kid is way annoying.

Batman and the Mad Monk #2 - This could shape up even better than Batman and The Monster Men, which is saying A LOT.

Captain America #22 - Excellent. Makes you begin to think that Civil War could have been handled in an interesting, intelligent way.

Daredevil #89 - Not as suspenseful as the previous issues, but certainly no drop in quality. This book is amazing in being consistently high quality and one of the best books on the stand.

Ultimates 2 #12 - Big Marvel Movie-Action and it's fun, although the Obi-Wan/Darth Vader (Maul?) match was a bit too much even for Millar. Aside from that jarring moment, expected mayhem ensues.

Ultimate Spider-Man #100 - A lot more talking than I'd have liked, especially since it didn't clear up a whole lot. I didn't like the back filler material (the "story so far" stuff, I enjoyed the sketchbook). Didn't feel like a #100 issue because it's just a part of a larger story and not a lot actually happened this issue. May feels a lot out of character. Still, this arc stands to be a real solid one, but could go horribly wrong.

Spider-Man #535 - At last Peter comes to his senses, but jeez, it took a while didn't it? And could he be more obvious to Senior Psychopath? Peter continues to be writ as dumb as a brick in this book and the cover gives aways the ending anyhow. (And, why, oh why, is Peter chosing to wear the suit Stark gave him while fighting Stark, because, geez, Mister Machiavelli probably has some type of fail-safe built in that gives him complete control of the suit.) Ugh. Frustrating, but the best issue since the whole CW crap started (and that is a left-handed compliment at best).

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #10 - Excellent. The most overlooked comic on the stand.

Invincible #35 - Lots of talking, some of it interesting, others not so much. I gotta admit the book pages felt like something of a filler to me. Standard Invincible story, which makes it good.

A Few Thoughts on NBC's Heroes (Mostly Spoiler Free)

In brief, Heroes (Mondays on NBC) is quite good, a very enjoyable show. I full endorse it. Certainly, not flawless, it kept my attention the whole time, managing to be a fairly nicely paced origin story and the "next issue" teaser promises even better things to come.

The show reminds me of a cross between JMS's Rising Stars and Squadron Supreme, DP7 (yes, from the New Universe, a title I liked) and Kurt Busiek's Astro City, along with dashes of X-Men and a good dose of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol. Although these and other elements were familiar (and will be to anybody who has followed comic books for any amount of time), it was much, much fun to see them executed so well in a live-action television serial show.

My only real quip with the show is the prologue that tells you right off that these people will save the world (from what is strongly suggested at the end of the episode), instead of leaving it more open-ended that they may indeed fail (or be the cause of the disaster). I think that the uncertainty of success does enter into the show as it progresses, but I disliked the text seemingly providing such certainty and spoiling the ending of the entire serial.

Aside from that, I found the story compelling and the characters engaging. There is a lot of cross-over and connection (most characters have at most two to three degrees of separation it seemed) between characters, but this seemed promising and purposeful rather than a convenient plot device. It's clearly supposed to hint at the larger picture that is hidden from us currently, making us wonder more about how these people are truly connected.

The various ways in which the characters react to their powers feels believable. Reactions range from unadulterated joy to complete fear to alienation and freakishness. For some, it causes separation from people in their lives; for others, it results in a stronger connection.

One mild theme that I find intriguing and that will hopefully be played out more is the idea of metamorphosis, but the Kafkian metamorphosis. The cockroach is held up as perfect being, as reflection of God, and is later stepped on by the "prophet" (who is intertwined deeply with the genetic research that seemingly is related to the sudden explosion of super-powers) who proclaimed its superiority. The suggestion that humans need to evolve to the ultimate stage of evolution, embodied in the cockroach, is to suggest that this transformation leads to unheralded power yet also a hideous aspect that inspires fear and a urge to destroy it. And, despite seeming invulnerable to almost everyting (even beheading and radiation), the cockroach is easily destroyed by man. It's a promising theme that I hope to see revisited.

The "next show/issue" teaser has me most excited, not just because it introduces more characters, but deepens the mystery and suggest a promising commentary on and exposition of the relationship this show has with comic books.

If you've read more than a dozen comics, you'll see very familiar characters and some familiar plot lines, but plenty of new offerings. The familiar elements are done so well, however, it's more like meeting a familiar and comfortable pen pal in person for the first time. Make sure to catch up on this show.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Sound of Silence

A couple of quick thoughts on this week's loot before I go on a mini-rant about one particular title.

Agents of Atlas #2 - Currently I'm half-way through this issue and I've been a bit bored by not getting to the good stuff already. Why a recap page for a limited series? It's not necessary and implies you don't have enough story for the whole run. This has so much potential but hasn't fulfilled it yet. Maybe the second half of the issue is better. Oh, and the Gorilla Man origin layout is totally confusing.

52 #18 - Um, ok. Ralph's not so crazy any more. This issue was pretty boring. To quote Mark Fossen of Focused Totality, this issue throws some "left field sucker punches" and show Montoya once again being self-destructive, to a ridiculous extent. (Yes, she killed a kid, but should a police detective be a little more capable of taking down somebody who posed a clear and imminent threat?) But, oooh, lesbian sex. If people want to get upset about gay Batwoman, why doesn't this upset them?

Lone Ranger #1 - Very pretty. A nice story that could have been told in half the space. If you know anything about the Lone Ranger this issue won't come as a surprise at all, which leaves me wondering why the whole issue is taken up with approximately half of the origin. The whole origin could have and should have been told in this first issue. Us fans know how it starts, let's get to the adventure. Still, there is promise here.

Detective Comics #823 - The Dini story is actually quite good. The Benitez art is terrible. It's some Jim Lee/Michael Turner/Scott Campbell 90's Image hybrid style crap that totally doesn't work with the story. (Undertand that with the exception of Lee, I hate those other two artists and Lee has his good and bad moments.) The art is very jarring from the previous two issues; the mood established by the previous two issues is wrecked by this artist.

The story is very fun, despite being undermined by the artist choice. It's interesting to note that while Dini's story plays up Ivy's intellect and scientific talent (with a reference that I'm not sure if Mike Sterling will be happy with or not), Benitez plays up her physical assests in some gratuitous and continuous cheesecake shots. If I notice the cheesecake, trust me, it's over the top. It was blatant and actually offensive to an otherwise intelligent story. Yes, Poison Ivy has always been about "scratching an itch" in many ways. She's no doubt a femme fatale, but her sexuality can be conveyed without resorting to Playboy-lite pin-up poses. Stripping her of her clothing and sticking her ass in my face is not sexy, it's just degrading to women. This issue is very guilty of perpetuating the pervasive idea in comics that women should be only or mostly valued because of their body. Women must be reduced to body parts (sometimes literally and then stuck in a refridgerator); it's only through the quality of their bodies that they can have worth.

What makes this issue particularly frustrating is this is a story which tries to speak about the genius of the woman (gone amuck), but the art drowns out that message by cranking the volume level up to "10" on a tired old song. It's hard to hear that Ivy is among the most brilliant scientists of the DC universe (or at least among the botanists) because Benitez keeps throwing the typical stylized breasts and butts in impossible proportions and poses. Obnoxious in any comic book, this art becomes odious and offensive since the capacity to say more about a woman was inherent in the story. There's no logic to matching this artist with this story. Although I'm sure it's not the case, it's almost as if the editor (or whoever made the artist choice) felt like we couldn't have a story based on a woman's intelligence, (after all, who would buy that, both figuratively and literally). Rather, an artist that would place the "right" focus was chosen. The right artist is a man who can draw a woman being attacked by a deadly plant monster as rather enjoying herself in the groping throes of passion.

Elegance and sensuality were called for in this story, but we received something different. We received something that didn't even match up to the previous two stories, making the disjoint all the more suspect. The most poisonous thing about the story isn't Ivy, but how once again women are objectified when the opportunity was present to do something bigger and better.