Archive for the ‘Image’ Category

Hello, I still exist.

July 14th, 2013 by Susie
A recent comment got me feeling all warm and fuzzy for read comics. I’ve been reading over some of my old posts. I did love posting here, though dear lord I had a serious comma addiction. I’ve been through treatment and mostly have it under control.
I haven’t been over here for a while since I’ve mostly been blogging on my own site about many things not just comics. I’ve been working on getting my writing career off the ground. It’s still pretty much on the ground at the moment, but it’s on a bit of an incline.
Since I’m here I should talk about comics. Even though I haven’t been writing about them, I’m still very much reading them. I can quit abusing commas, but comics is a habit I can’t kick.
One of my last posts was about the upcoming new Sandman miniseries. It now has a release date and is due to hit stores in October of this year. I can’t wait!
As for what I’m reading, staples Fables and the Unwritten continue to explore the secret life of fiction in new and imaginative ways. Buffy Season Nine is winding down. It hasn’t reached the heights that season eight did early on, but it’s also hasn’t been nearly as inconsistent. Meanwhile I’m enjoying spinoff Angel and Faith a little more than the main title, but both are building to what looks like strong conclusions. Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga is probably my new favorite monthly series that premiered since I stopped posting here regularly. Here is an article that pretty much sums up my feelings about it and why you should be reading it. Another series I’ve been enjoying is Rachel Rising by Terry Moore. Like Echo was his take on a super heroes, this is his take on horror. And like Echo it’s been going in directions I couldn’t possibly predict. At times very creepy directions. His art as always is immersive and haunting. I also picked up at the library the first trades of Gail Simone’s Batgirl and Brian Michael Bendis’s All New X-Men. I quite enjoyed both. Barbara Gordon is one of my all time favorite characters and Simone’s take on her could easily become iconic. I haven’t read many X-Men titles, but I felt I knew enough to understand and enjoy Bendis’s time travel story. I’m looking forward to the next volumes of each.
I’ll try to come back to Read Comics a little more often, but this site is and always has been open to the public. Anyone with something to say is welcome to post.

Sex, Blasphemy, and Gay Marriage, Oh My!

March 14th, 2009 by Susie

It’s time for me to finally do the post about webcomics I have meant to do since Christmas.

Here are three I don’t think have been mentioned on this site yet.

Anders Loves Maria

I love this strip!  It is about a young Swedish couple who are having a baby, and probably shouldn’t be.  Given that Anders can’t stop getting involved with other women, and Maria can’t seem to grow up.  It is wickedly funny and terribly authentic.  The art work some how manages to be simplified, and sophisticated at the same time.  I was really tempted to buy an original page, but unfortunately the I did not get my tax return before the half off sale ended.  It should be mentioned that even though the people are drawn in a very non photo realistic manner, 60% of the strips have included extremely explicit sex, that is probably not safe for work.

Sister Claire

This strip is only a few months old.  It follows the adventures of a very naive young girl who was raised by nuns.  It is drawn in the style of  kwai(cutesy) anime.  Claire  wants nothing more in life than to be the best nun ever, while still getting to indulge in all things sweet and cuddly.  Unfortunately for her a sexy messenger from God disrupts her cloistered existence.  I am totally digging it!

Finally we have Finn and Charlie are Hitched

It is a slice of life styled strip centered around a gay male couple and their circle of friends.  It is not as serialized as the previous two I mentioned, going with the more traditional 3 to 4 panels leading to a gag format.  It is consistently funny and done by local Chicago artist.

Married With Comics – 11/26/08

December 3rd, 2008 by florence

Florence and Marty are joined by Florence’s sister Susie for a long-ish discussion of the new Buffy: Season 8, issue #19. Then Florence and Marty briefly discuss The Walking Dead #55.

Be warned, the spoilers start right away.


Kirkman takes over the universe

November 20th, 2008 by jason

I just finished the latest trade of Invincible, the first trade of The Astounding Wolf-Man, and I’ll picking up the first trade of Capes tonight at the library.  How prolific is this man?  How many continuing series is he going to write?  Would Image fold completely if he was in a plane crash?  Looking at the back page, listing all the available trades, you could go broke just keeping up with his output alone.

Both trades were fun, and the stories keep growing in complexity, bringing in plot twists on the last page.  Now I have to decide whether or not to wait for the next trade, or try to find the single issues.  If I decide to catch up with the Walking Dead (should be easy, they’re a slow-moving bunch), I have friends whose copies I’d be able to read.  I think they also have singles for Invincible, but I don’t think they decided to buy AWM.  I didn’t think I would get into the latter, but the story picked up, and I think there’s going to be a crossover with Invincible soon.

ReadComics Podcast #021 – Book Club #4 – The Walking Dead, Vol. 1

October 29th, 2008 by Martin

Tonight we had Jason, Mike, Florence, Marty, and a couple of new voices: Stephanie and Konrad. We talked at unusual length about The Walking Dead. Our focus was the first TPB, (Issues #1-6), but we definitely get into details from the second TPB, and even delve a bit into what’s happening in the series now (Issues #49-53). We highly recommend reading this book before you listen to this podcast unless you don’t mind spoilers.

Listen to Podcast Episode #021 (47 MB, 102 minutes)

This Week’s Pull

October 23rd, 2008 by Martin

Florence and I have decided to do reviews of new issues from our pull list as they come out each week. Beware of spoilers, as we’ll be discussing the comics in depth. So far, as you can see, we have a fairly lame and generic title. Let us know if you have any suggestions in the comments.

This week it was just two issues, the new Echo and Invincible. Enjoy.

Echo #7

Florence: Moore’s art has really developed over the years, especially on men, since I’m more used to him drawing women. I feel like he’s doing a good job creating more than one male face. I really like his style, but he does sort of tend to have one face for all women, even though he does woman’s body shapes in more variety, which I really appreciate. I’m most intrigued by the character of Ivy Raven right now. When we were first introduced to her, she was a very sweet and loving mother, and now she’s clearly very formidable. In one panel we see her anger, and it’s scary. It shows that no matter what level of calm she exhibits, she’s dangerous. The last panel of the comic was very difficult to decipher.

Martin: I agree about the last panel being confusing. I won’t describe it for fear of giving it away, but I probably couldn’t if I wanted to, since I have no idea what happened. The old guy on the cover was the only other person at the crash site where Julie got her metal breastplate. Obviously he’s got some of whatever she has stuck to his hand. We only see him for about half a page in the whole comic, which felt weird since he was so prominently featured before we opened the book. I do feel like this was consistent with the rest of the story telling in the series, but the pace seemed to slow down quite a bit here. Not as much happens in this issue, and I guess I was a little disappointed by that.

Florence: That’s really just in contrast to the pacing he’s set already with the other issues in this title. That’s not compared to any normal comic’s pacing. This one has just started big and kept going. He’s set us up to expect that from every issue.

Martin: That’s true, but I guess I did feel like there were unnecessary scenes in this comic. If it doesn’t turn out that there’s a reason for the missing dog, then her asking about it was only to further highlight the stupid pet monkey that’s chained outside their motel room. The monkey got way more panels than necessary, IMHO.

Invincible #54

Florence: It’s your turn to go first.

Martin: Ha! I’m the one typing, and it looks like you were wrong about that prediction! Seriously, WTF? Invincible has sucked for like 4 or 5 issues now. I don’t even remember the last time it was cool. What ever happened to stuff happening in this comic?

Florence: I have detected no deterioration. I think it’s nice that he’s dating Atom Eve. I could have done without the four page spread of their relationship. It seemed to be both past and present. Like a montage.

Martin: I was going to say that, damnit. It was totally a montage! Montages are lame in all their forms. Except when used to make fun of montages, like in Team America: World Police.

Florence: Really though, if this just disappeared and I got twice as many Walking Dead issues, I’d be fine.

Martin: Totally. I never thought it would get to this point. I used to love Invincible SO MUCH. I do have hope for the future though. Maybe someday they’ll get back to the plot line with that one-eyed alien, and Invincible’s dad…

Florence: Now that I think about it, I did really like the future stuff, the stuff with Immortal. It seemed like a plausible path for him.

Martin: I guess this was sort of like a one-off book. I think Kirkman should have written it as an Invincible spin-off with a different title. Maybe another Invincible Presents Atom Eve… No, that one actually had a cool story, and stuff happened in it. Maybe it should have been called Atom Eve loves Invincible.

Shadowline webcomics

September 24th, 2008 by jason

I was perusing various comics fora tonight, and saw a post about Shadowline getting into digital comics, and after a bit of searching discovered that they have a series of webcomics linked through their website now.  There’s a press release on the main page which lists the various creators and titles signed with them, but it makes it sound a bit like some of the comics have been online for awhile, they’re just now moving over to the Shadowline website.  I know I heard about Chicago 1968 at Wizard World Chicago this year, and it’s being appearing weekly since then.  And oddly, aside from a non-clickable URL in the press release, the only link to the webcomics section is a tiny link at the bottom right-hand side of the page.

I like the interface more than either Zuda or Marvel Digital Comics.  They’ve eschewed a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles that some of the others have for easier navigation, and really high quality images.  Some of the comics have only a few pages up so far, like Action Ohio with six, and Hannibal Goes to Rome with eight, while a couple of others give you a bit more to read.  Brat-halla is up to sixty so far.  Of course, a good webcomics junky is going to plow through all of them in an afternoon, but it looks like they plan to add some more titles regularly.

Rising Stars: Born In Fire

September 8th, 2008 by Martin

Florence was a fan of Babylon 5 and had also read other comics by J. Michael Straczynski, so when she saw this TPB at Wizard World she decided to pick it up. Little did we know that Mike had most of the rest of the series collected from the original run sitting in a long box at home.

From the big pile of things we bought in Chicago this summer, this was very near the top for Florence, and from exactly page 14, she knew she had to read the rest of the series. Essentially, this first TPB is about the origins of 113 people known as “The Specials”, who were all in utero in the same region in the US when a meteorite flew overhead and gave them the potential for superpowers. Because of some plausible paranoia by the U.S. government, these kids are eventually all rounded up and raised together under close supervision. Page 14 depicts 5 of the main characters in three stages of their lives: ages 6, 16, and 30+. Seeing this transition, along with the knowledge that Straczynski tends to plan for the long haul with his stories, promised to be a satisfying read.

I’ve only just finished this first TPB, (containing Issues #1-8) but Florence is about to read the final Issue of the series, #24. Coming at it from the beginning as I am, I think there is definitely a lot to find compelling about the series, but that it’s not all that original, from a superhero graphic novel kind of perspective. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by stuff like New Universal and the Authority/Planetary universe (where a bunch of powerful folks were born in 1900). Florence tells me the Authority parallels do continue, but that it still feels like its own story to her.

Rising Stars is really about how The Specials’ powers and their upbringing and social roles amongst each other really combine to form the path they choose in life. Neither Florence nor I found the government’s imagined reaction to these superpowers to be terribly far fetched, and by the end of this first TPB, things are set into motion that really liven up the playing field. Florence warns that there is a very wordy setup for the next arc, but if I can get past that, things will start moving fast again. (There were a few pages in the middle of this TPB too, that were mostly words, and felt a bit out of place in this otherwise standard comic book.)

From Florence’s perspective, nearing the end of the series, she says there are definitely distinct arcs within the larger story, and that it feels like it is going to come to a definitive end. When we looked it up, there was evidence of splinter arcs (not written by Straczynski, and thus less compelling to Florence). She really likes the character-driven nature of the comic, and is looking forward to the closure, allowed by the arrival of the second to last issue in our mailbox today. We already had the last issue sitting on the shelf, and Florence is going to go read it now.

Repo, TPB

August 18th, 2008 by Martin

I think I’d seen one or two of the individual Repo issues on the shelf, but hadn’t collected them, and I really knew absolutely nothing about the series before I read this trade paperback yesterday. I wasn’t disappointed, but neither was I blown away.

First of all, I thought the art here was absolutely great. It’s pretty standard comic book art, drawn in a very clear and unambiguous style. The artist is Rob G, who has collaborated with writer Rick Spears on at least one or two other projects previously.

Of course it was the themes that drew me in, a near-ish future where clones are fighting for their civil rights, and hover-cars are the norm. There was an evil seeming rich guy growing a clone of himself so he can have a heart transplant. The clone is “liberated” from the hospital, and he puts a bounty out on it such that every “Repo man” in town is after the thing.

As the comic progressed, I felt like things got less and less interesting. They really didn’t “take a stand” on any of the issues that were introduced earlier in the comic. (Racism, civil rights, etc.) In fact, by the end of the story, nobody really has any moral legs to stand on, and the clones who are fighting for their freedom are pretty much written off as dumb, or anyway not strong enough to survive. (The book is pretty violent, and the end turns into an intentionally comical bloodbath.) In fact, if the book had any message at all, it was survival of the fittest. That and maybe “laws are meant to be broken”.

Again, this was definitely a fun read. Expect your suspension of disbelief to be in high gear, and don’t expect anything too enlightened, and you should enjoy it just fine.

Kill All Parents!

August 3rd, 2008 by Stephanie

killparents.jpgKill All Parents!, by Mark Andrew Smith, Marcelo Di Chiara, and Russ Lowery, published by Image.

I can’t tell if it’s a one-off or not, but this clever satire takes on the “standard superhero backstory #1: dead parents.” Featuring a set of superhero parodies you’ll easily recognize, this issue tackles not just the stereotypical backstory, but also the angst, anger, and anxiety of being a super-orphan.

The story itself is a little weak and feels like it was intended to be told in a 4-6 issue series that was then condensed down. But the artwork is very well done, and there are a few clever moments sprinkled throughout the issue. My favorite is the graveyard on Father’s Day, crowded with superheroes paying their respects to their absent dads.

The relationship between superheroes and their parents seems to need addressing in every comic series, whether it’s Superman’s adoption story, Batman’s orphaning, or the single parenting in Buffy. Although the superhero genre often reinforces the status quo, I wonder if it also portrays alternative families in a sympathetic way. Or, perhaps, it’s a reflection of the audience’s wishes and makeup.

I don’t know, but I did appreciate something poking a little fun and whimsy at the situation, and, even more, the way the superheroes respond to the revelation of the true author of their grief.

Tech Jacket, written by Robert Kirkman

July 28th, 2008 by Martin

When I found this entire series (issues 1-6) packaged together (and on sale) at Dreamhaven, I was intrigued enough by the cool robotech style artwork to give a second look. And in that second look I saw something that made this an immediate must-have for me: Robert Kirkman’s writing credit. Those of you who have listened to the podcast know that Florence and I recently saw Kirkman hold court at his very own panel at Wizard World in Chicago, and were immediately enamored enough to want to buy everything he’s ever written.

Well, as much as I love Battle Pope (which came out by Kirkman at least two years before Tech Jacket), the writing in Tech Jacket feels a bit amateurish in comparison. I can only explain it by assuming that this was written for a much younger audience, because Invincible started coming out around the same time as this (a few months later), and Invincible is totally awesome right from the beginning.

As Kirkman is aware (he sort of apologizes for this in one of the letter columns), Tech Jacket shares a lot in common with Invincible. They are both about teenagers who come into great power. They both prominently feature aliens. However, Invincible is still around, and Tech Jacket appears to have been canceled after only six issues. The series seems to “tie up” many loose ends in that final sixth issue, and apparently in the TPB, Kirkman says he chose to tie everything up quickly because sales were declining. Yet in the letter column of the sixth issue, Kirkman refers to the seventh issue, and there is even a preview of the seventh issue’s cover! I don’t know how to explain this, I’m just pointing it out.

E.J. Su’s art in this really shines when there are sprawling space battles. The rest of the art is okay too, but the space scenes, and in particular the level of detail given to the tech jacket itself and to the space ships is really impressive. As you can see from the first and sixth covers posted here, his art really seems to have progressed, or more likely, he just got more comfortable drawing the tech jacket over time.

All in all, this was only moderately satisfying, but well worth a read for those of us obsessed with Kirkman, or for anyone who loves a good space battle.

Bomb Queen: The Divine Comedy #3 & TPB #1

July 21st, 2008 by Martin

I picked up the new Bomb Queen (issue #3 of 6) last week, having been pretty well sucked in by the first two issues in the recent series, and I have to admit that I am sort of grudgingly liking it for reasons other than the T&A, (which is certainly present, and more realistically why I like it). Normally I don’t really enjoy when the bad guys are the focus of a story, but for some reason when you dress that bad guy up in next to nothing and make sure it gets ripped off of her every once in a while… well, lets just say it changes the tone quite a bit.

Bomb Queen is essentially a really hot female super-villian who runs her own town somewhere in middle america. Apparently the authorities (ie, federal and state government) are willing to let this one town be governed by a supervillian because… it’s good for profits or something. Essentially Bomb Queen has a puppet Mayor who does whatever she asks, and she creates zones of the city that are lawless, and where the police can’t actually charge you for committing a crime. It sounds horrific, and honestly is even more horrific in the comic (rape and pedophilia are both referenced relatively frequently, if not, thankfully, shown), but it’s all done in a relatively humorous style that glosses over the horror and focuses on the hyper-sexualized Bomb Queen herself.

To be honest, Bomb Queen is a completely guilty pleasure. So much so that I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I picked up the first four TPBs of Bomb Queen at Wizard World a few weekends ago. So after reading the latest individual issue, I went ahead and read the first TPB, Bomb Queen: Woman of Mass Destruction. In it, we are introduced to Bomb Queen, given a bit of back story, and then we get to the guts of the story where her reign is being threatened by a politician running for mayor against her puppet the incumbent. The whole thing is pretty ridiculous, and pretty much neither more or less than exactly what I expected. The TPB has some fun extras at the end of the book, including a B&W comic that all takes place from Bomb Queen’s cat’s perspective called Ashe’s Day Out.

Red Mass For Mars #1

June 11th, 2008 by Michael

Red Mass for Mars #1It’s been a long time since I’ve been really interested in a good sci-fi comic book. Sure, I’ve been reading the Annihilation stories in Marvel and while I enjoy them, they’re pretty much run-of-the-mill comic stories in a science fiction medium. To me, good sci-fi should be thought provoking. It should make us look to the future while teaching something about our society in the present. It should be intellectual, educational, and challenging. A Red Mass for Mars by Image comics does all this very well.

Written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn beautifully by Ryan Bodenheim, the story takes place in the year 2115 on an earth that has been decimated by numerous disasters and atrocities. Marcus Farber Astorga (also known as ‘the Benefactor) has the ability to see the future, which has naturally made him incredibly wealthy and has used that wealth to create a new paradise on earth, and the population loves him for it. But this ability also sets him apart – even the most brilliant of people on earth are a bore to him. What could they give him that he hasn’t already forseen? How would you live a life in which you knew what would happen and yet had to go through the motions, acting a part in order to fulfill these preordained acts? It’s an intriguing question and in him we have a fascinating character that I can’t wait to see develop. Equally as interesting is what is shaping up to be a potential villain – Lightbender. As the head of the English Language Reclamation Project, he is a soft spoken dictator that nonchalantly describes why he had to defile the corpse of the queen of England (three times) while worrying about what the implications of conquering his native country will have on his family reunions.

Of course, there’s also the standard sci-fi plot of an alien invasion, but it’s the characters and concepts that are presented that are the most interesting. It covers the nature of life and death, what a utopian society really means, religion, politics, man and gods, and the future. It brings up topics that I can’t wait to discuss and debate with others that read this, and to me that’s what science fiction should be.

Wanted Vol. 1

June 3rd, 2008 by Martin

I just finished the Wanted TPB. Honestly, I’m not sure how I felt about it. Bloody? yes. Violent? yes. Fucked up story that I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be satire or a philosophical statement on the futility and stupidity of empathy with your fellow mankind? Yes.

I’m looking forward to the movie, of course. I’d wanted to read this before that comes out, and it was coincidence that my co-worker Ben brought this in for me to borrow. There are a number of interesting plot twists and surprises that I’m looking forward to in the movie. It clearly won’t have the same impact as if I hadn’t read the comic, but I think that’s ok.

Almost as interesting as the comic was Brian K. Vaughn’s introduction, where he says Wanted has “the bravest, most interesting finale to a comic book ever”. Above that he says “Those of you who refuse to see what the conclusion is really saying will probably want to burn this beautiful collection the second you put it down.” I’d love to have a conversation with Vaughn about what he thinks those final pages were saying. I don’t think I agree with him, but neither did I want to burn the book the second I put it down. I can imagine what he thinks it’s supposed to be saying, but I don’t know if I’m right. I think I’ll probably bring this up in the next podcast.

Anyway, Wanted is a well produced (written, drawn, colored) comic, with a very interesting premise. The super villains teamed up (in the 60s, I think), and they won. They beat all the superheroes, and wiped them off the face of the planet. They’ve been in charge ever since. Go read it! Or, wait for the movie, watch that, then read it! Your choice, asshole.

Faker (2007)

May 26th, 2008 by Martin

Florence and I read this on an airplane.

It can be difficult to figure out what exactly this comic is about. Even after reading the back and pawing through the first few pages, I still had no idea. But the art, especially the cover art from individual issues, had me intrigued enough to pick this up when it came out. Let it suffice to say that it’s about some college kids who have some messed up stuff happen to them. About the first half of this trade paperback takes place around campus, and introduces you to the characters. Then the setting changes abruptly to a secret government-funded military-research facility. At first, I didn’t even know whether there would be science fiction elements to the story, but let me assure you that yes, there are!

There are also themes of childhood abuse; they are upsetting, but not sympathetic to the abuser. You have been warned.

The art and story were above average, and I’d count this as a first-rate comic. I don’t know if they’re planning on making more, but this first TPB really ties itself up, without a clear expectation for any continuation of the story. If anything, there are now a whole set of interesting (surviving) characters, some of whom may have been permanently changed by the events that transpire. It’s tough to say more without spoiling it, so go read it for yourself!

Noble Causes, Vol. 1: In Sickness and In Health (2002)

May 23rd, 2008 by Martin

This is a grim take on the superhero universe. After hearing Florence say she loved this series, and others agree (re: our last podcast #006), I was excited to read this and put it at the top of my stack. After having read it, I’m honestly not sure what I thought.

Oh, it was good, no doubt about that! Just opening to random pages, every story was gripping and totally engaging. Things happen in Noble Causes that definitely wouldn’t be seen between the covers of a regular comic book. I mean, heroes get beat up, often by other heroes (if you can even really call them that, we really only have their reputations to go on), there is lots of sex, including infidelity, murder, betrayal. Interestingly, the one big piece of connective tissue throughout the entire trade (It’s a ton of little stories with different plots.) is the Icarus plot.

The natural comparison is to Astro City, but this is way darker, and, oddly enough, feels a bit less realistic as a result to me. (Perhaps that is my own sunny outlook on life influencing my opinion.) Anyway, if you haven’t read this, I’d recommend it. I’ll definitely be seeking out more of it in the future. On the other hand, if you haven’t yet read Astro City, it’s better.

For those who aren’t familiar, Noble Causes is about the Noble family. They are your average superhero family, very wealthy, extremely powerful. But they are also totally fucked up and dysfunctional. Icarus is the robot built by the family’s genius father. The robot is sentient, and very jealous of all the children. I’ll just leave it at that.

I also read (before this first TPB, actually) Noble Causes: Extended Family (Vol. 2). It too is full of unconnected short stories, this time without so much as an imagined connective tissue. (At least, I didn’t notice one.) Didn’t matter though, since these stories were also totally engaging, and without my even knowing any of the character backstories! But all of these stories felt like backstories to me. Actually much of the first TPB also felt that way. I think it’s part of the style they’re written in… there are lots of flashbacks and jumping around in continuity is the norm.

I really only mentioned Extended Family because it was a bit darker and more extreme than the first TPB, and actually may have influenced the tone at which I read the first Comic. So it all ended up feeling really dark to me. Good, but very, very dark.

Transhuman #2 — IPO

May 19th, 2008 by Martin

OK, let me just say right off the bat: This was, for me, a bit disappointing.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me count the ways. First of all, seemingly nothing happens here. We’re interviewing venture capitalists, which, while it may be interesting for someone who knows absolutely nothing about business whatsoever, I found incredibly spoon-fed and dry as a desert bone. Even the subtitle, IPO, didn’t actually happen. There was no exciting IPO, instead it was blah blah blah about who did or didn’t loan money to these companies. As if we care! These characters better come back in the next two issues, or I’m going to consider this whole issue a write-off. The only mildly amusing part of the comic was the two page spread of the VC getting eaten by monkeys. (Monkeys were also the most amusing part of the first comic, so I’m especially glad they made a return here.)

Secondly, the art was unfortunate. Not to say that it was badly drawn, or not my style, but I found it especially repetitive, and frankly, downright boring. Honestly, if I see another page with four panels, each one with just the face of the documentary’s narrator, I’m going to be a bit pissed off. The most interesting art in the whole book was a panel about 2/3 toward the end with a mechanical dog and cat in it. A clearly drawn reference to WE3, and a decent attempt at making this book interesting by association. The second best art was the panel showing the character Dave Apple’s art. It was meant to be pathetically unskilled looking, but it was funny and interesting, two things most of the rest of this comic were not.

The thing is, this is supposed to be halfway through the series; this is issue 2 of 4! And we got about as much story out of this issue as you generally get reading a postage stamp. I had high hopes, and I really wanted to like this comic, but unfortunately, it’s just not working for me.

The Mice Templar #1-4

May 17th, 2008 by Martin

While at first appearing to be a cheap ploy to capitalize on the success of the critically acclaimed Mouse Guard, The Mice Templar has actually turned out to have a relatively rich and interesting story. It all still feels a bit thrown together, like there are a few too many diverse elements, but I guess that’s at least part of how they get that “rich” feel. You just stir in enough stuff, and of course you’re going to have a complex story.

So what does Mice Templar have in its plot pot? Other than quite a lot? (Ahem. Sorry.) There are ghosts that bleed, (at least in issues 3 & 4), Fish Gods who bestow our likely hero Karic with a waterskin that never empties, hordes of evil rat baddies who overrun a mouse village and take down a buck whenever they feel like it for food, black “death magic”, a clearly chaotic history muddled with some kind of templar war, some seer mice who possibly tell the future (or the present) by watching grain sway in the wind of swooping owls, and of course a prophesy of some kind.

Issue #1 was great, drawing me in with compelling art by creator Michael Avon Oeming (who apparently draws Powers, among other famous things), but after I read issue #2 (back when it came out) I wasn’t left terribly excited about the series. I felt the story was really quite predictable, and didn’t seem to be going anywhere in the least bit new. I kept it on my pull though (whether out of laziness or a genuine but waning interest), and now that I’ve read issues 3 and 4, I’m glad that I did. I am left wondering what is going to happen to those poor captive village mice. And what waits for us at the tree in the middle of the field (ocean) of grain? Only time and comics will tell!

The Pro

May 11th, 2008 by Martin

This comic took a simple premise and ran with it: what if a run-down street prostitute and mother suddenly got superpowers! I love anything that parodies the ridiculous superhero comic genre well, and this definitely did that. But surprisingly, it did more than just that. By the end of the comic, I felt like there was actually a meaning to all the swearing and gratuity. A statement about what it means to be a hero (and by extension what it means to be human, since all hero stories are really meant to be about everyone).

Florence thought: boobies. She likes ’em. She also notes that there was certainly a callback to Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex (by Larry Niven, which Susie just mentioned in her recent post). She thought the green lantern parody was amusing, but got old fast. I actually found that to be one of the more tactless parts of the book, but she rightly argues that it’s a satire of some of the poorer depictions of token black characters in comics. I guess I thought it was a bit more offensive than some of the other offensive parts of the book.

Perhaps the main thrust of the book was to poke holes in the righteous nature of superheroes (mainly DC characters), belittling the big story lines that don’t adequately capture the sordid day to day struggles that regular people want help with. The characters in this book only fight supervillians. It’s almost like Americans declaring themselves “world” champions at the superbowl, even though none of the other countries are participating. These superheros are really only fighting battles in a certain arena, yet declaring themselves the saviors of all humanity.

Entirely worth reading just for the scenes with “The Viewer” (aka “Voyeur”), who was a not so subtle take on the Monitor. Overall: awesome and recommended.

Faeries are comfort food

May 1st, 2008 by florence

After picking up my pull from The Source a few weeks ago, I was milling around waiting for Marty when the last issue of the Suburban Glamour miniseries caught my eye. I have to admit, I usually stick to known favorites or hand-picked recommendations from my sister Susie or friends, but this time I just picked up something new and immediately felt like I had stumbled upon a treat- a story about faeries. Not just faeries, but a teenage faerie changling in our world- a girl who never quite fit in and suddenly discovers that she is special. I have read many many variations on this story, it is my ultimate comfort food literature, and even though I am far past the age of pubescent transformation, it still makes me feel giddy and transported.

Realizing that the issue said ‘4 of 4’, I resisted reading too much. I searched the store for back issues, but only found #2, so I had the missing issues ordered for me. Last week I picked up the completed arc and immediately devoured them, bumping them in front of my hefty to-read pile. I was not disappointed. I won’t spoil the story, but anyone who shares my love of this genre already knows exactly what happens. The art, by creator Jamie McKelvie, was lovely, the main characters relatable, and the story of a girl having her world turned upside down- comfortingly familiar.

Transhuman #1, Jonathan Hickman

April 5th, 2008 by Martin

Transhuman #1 CoverI picked this up knowing full well I had a couple of other Hickman comics at home sitting, waiting to be read. But I’m a real sucker for the concept of transhumanism. I wanted to see what this was about. I probably would have picked it up without Hickman’s name attached to it, and, after opening up the first page and finding that it was written as a documentary from the future, well, that was hook line and sinker.

I haven’t really done a whole lot of trolling the interwebz for other comic book reviewers. I didn’t actually mean to at all, but I decided to check out, which is Jonathan Hickman’s site, and seems to get a lot of prominent placement in his books. It was rather disappointing, mostly because there really wasn’t any art over there to speak of. Just a blog and bio, press links, and some teasers for his work. There was also a conspicuously crossed out link in the nav labeled “Store”. I know I wouldn’t mind a tee shirt with the Red Mass for Mars logo on it, and I haven’t even read the damn thing yet.

Anyway, long story short is that I ended up following some of his links and then reading a bunch more reviews (mostly ones I found from the image messageboard thread on the subject. Here are my two favorites (and newest google reader subscriptions): Comics Should be Good, (hysterical review of Drain, also included, don’t miss it), and Occasional Superhero, which endeared me because I mostly agreed with everything Chris Lamb had to say, and I rather wished I could just copy that review and paste it into this one.

Strange Girl Vol. 2, Heaven Knows I’m Misserable Now

March 29th, 2008 by Martin

Strange Girl, Trade #2I picked up the first strange girl TPB on a whim. I just liked the art, and the premise was interesting: the rapture has come, and a spunky girl tries to find her way to heaven. Oh, and a blue demon sidekick is irreverent and funny.

Basically, in that first trade, I was totally surprised about how much else there was to like about the comic. The story was actually quite tragic, and the art was consistently pretty spectacular. I really dug the dialog, which was funny and at times philosophical, without ever getting preachy, or even seeming to take sides.

This book was more of the same, but somehow slightly less spectacular. I think it was mostly due to the inclusion of the final issue, a stand-alone x-mas/origin story. It was told a little bit quickly, I thought, and while the art was good, it was a bit more cartoon-ish than other issues within this trade (different artists).

This is a pretty secular series, for such a biblical premise. The post-rapture earth is shown to be a very bleak place, and comments like “Lord have mercy…” are followed up with “No, I don’t think he does.” This book featured a two or three page scene where the main character yells at a stained glass window of the virgin mary, asking where she was when a girl was being repeatedly raped. This is in the middle of a whole plot line where a group of human survivors (military types, who basically fought off the demons, and took refuge in a fort of some kind) are super right-wing religious because they think that God is supposed to judge them again in the near future. But seven years pass, and that was when he was supposed to pass some more judgment, so they’re all going a bit stir crazy. Of course, everyone is not as good as they’re supposed to be.

All in all, this is a very worthy read. Of course, read the first one first.

The Nightly News, by Jonathan Hickman

March 19th, 2008 by Martin

Nightly News TPBLast week, or perhaps the week before, I brought home the first two issues of Pax Romana. Mostly because I liked the art in the second issue (which had just been released). Within a day or two, a co-worker brought to my desk the trade paperback of The Nightly News, saying he’d just read it on a plane, and thought I might like it. I flipped through it, and briefly thought the art was reminiscent of Pax Romana, which I hadn’t yet cracked.

The night before last I finished The Nightly News. I didn’t know yet how I felt about it. I had to think about it the whole way to work the next morning, and then again a few times yesterday, and then have a conversation about it with a co-worker before I really felt like I’d solidified my opinion.


Urban Monsters #1

March 16th, 2008 by Martin

Urban Monsters #1Light and entertaining, the first Urban Monsters caught my attention because it was a premise I hadn’t seen explored before in comics. Not to say it’s a unique idea, but just one I hadn’t seen before. What if monsters were real, and had feelings like everyone else? And what if they were trying to integrate in today’s modern society?

Basically, monsters are treated a bit like an underclass here. There are many types of them, so some are treated differently than others, and of course, everyone’s prejudice is personal, so there is infinite room for variation. Perhaps the funniest bit, and this is intended to be a humorous comic, is when the zombie character is working at his office job, and gets yelled at because he doesn’t notice when his phone headset falls to the desk, ear attached. He then tries to staple his ear back on, and when that’s noticed, plays off that he thought the stapler was the phone.

I did think it was “interesting” that the comic is called Urban Monsters, and yet this particular (first) issue ends with the main characters driving across country. (Hardly urban anymore!) Nothing was startlingly good here, but it was a fun quick read, so I’m looking forward to the next one, to see where they take it.

Sword #5

February 13th, 2008 by Martin

I just read Sword, issue #5, by the Luna Brothers. This is easily one of the best comic book series in publication today. The story and characters are just so surprising. The luna brothers really know how to make an engaging and compelling story.

The art is relatively simple, (as with all of their work), and not really anything to write home about, but it does the job just fine, and they have improved quite a bit from their early work, (which could be a bit distracting at times), to the point that now, if you notice the art, it’s because something was particularly well done, not the reverse.

I really look forward to this title, and can’t wait for the next one!