Monday, April 30, 2012

Naruto: The 411 on Volumes 1 to 43

I read Naruto: The Official Character Data Book

I posted a review at the Comic Book Bin (which has free comics).


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Leroy Douresseaux Reviews: RED SPIKE VOLUME 1

RED SPIKE VOLUME 1
IMAGE COMICS/BENAROYA PUBLISHING

CREATORS: Michael Benaroya and Jeff Cahn
STORY: Jeff Cahn with Dave Elliot
SCRIPT: Jeff Cahn
ARTISTS: Salvador Navarro and Mark Texeira
COLORS: Ifansyah Noor of Imaginary Friends Studios
LETTERS: John Aitken
COVER: Mark Texeira
ISBN: 978-1-60706-487-9, paperback
144pp, Color, $14.99 U.S.

From Benaroya Publishing, Red Spike is a comic book miniseries created by Michael Benaroya and Jeff Cahn. Written by Cahn and drawn by Salvador Navarro and Mark Texeira, the series is set in a secretive black operations program called Project Red Spike. The entire five issues of the miniseries were recently collected in the trade paperback, Red Spike Volume 1.

Project Red Spike, like many over a 70-year period, was started as a program to create the first super-soldier. Using a process that manipulates and regulates the adrenal gland in human males, Project Red Spike actually succeeded in creating a super-soldier, and they did it twice. Now, Colonel Moyer, the hard-nosed prick who controls Red Spike, is testing the limits of his two new super-human toys, Gregory “Greg” Dane and Matt Cutler. But there are complications, of course.

Greg is having an affair that turns into a full romance with Dr. Margaret Downey, the woman who is supposed to be monitoring his (and Matt’s) mental health. Dane isn’t exactly the obedient solider, and as his behavior grows more insubordinate, he clashes with the straight-arrow Matt Cutler, who obediently follows orders and instructions. Colonel Moyer, who now sees Dane and Cutler as his property, seeks to further experiment with the limits of how much Red Spike can alter these two young men. Meanwhile, Henry Coughlin, formerly directly involved with Project Red Spike, plots to wrest control of the program from Moyer.

My first encounter with Red Spike was the third issue. I noted that it had the “rock solid plotting found in tightly-written, big-budget action movies.” I also mentioned that it had “elements of Captain America and the Jason Bourne films,” and that “it most reminds me of Universal Soldier, the 1992 Van Damme film.” I wrote, “Like the Van Damme films from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, Red Spike is violent and testosterone-filled, but with a humanist lead character who fights because he must.”

Now, that I’ve read the entire miniseries in Red Spike Volume 1, I have to reassess. As a whole, personally, I find the series lacking in action scenes, considering that this book is about a super-soldier program. Artist Salvador Navarro and Mark Texeira offer a few nicely composed fight scenes that left me really wanting more.

This is not to say that Red Spike is overall lacking in pleasures. Despite what the covers for the miniseries suggest, Red Spike is a science fiction/military drama mixed with the elements of a workplace drama and a political soap opera, and it is fun. I enjoyed the backbiting and squabbling. Writer Jeff Cahn sometimes cut back and forth between two scenes, each scene featuring a character doing something to defeat the other character. This reminds me of the best inter-office politics moments of the 1995 film version of Clear and Present Danger.

In my earlier review, I describe the art by Navarro and Texeira as “uninspired” and wrote that it “put a damper on my enjoyment” of the series. Now, that art seems perfect for what Red Spike really is, which is a thriller more than it is an action comic book.

http://www.benaroyapublishing.com/


Friday, April 27, 2012

Leroy Douresseaux Reviews: KING CONAN: The Phoenix on the Sword #1

"Old Man Conan"
KING CONAN: THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD #1 (OF 4)
DARK HORSE COMICS

WRITER: Timothy Truman
ART: Tomás Giorello
COLORS: José Villarrubia
LETTERS: Richard Stakings & Comicraft
VARIANT COVER: Gerald Parel (Andrew Robinson-regular cover)
28pp, Colors, $3.50 U.S.

During his three-decade career in comic books, did the industry or the public ever consider Tim Truman A-list talent? By the breath and scope of his talent and his work, he certainly was/is, if it is even appropriate to categorize him with what are the usual and the standard in comic books. The terms “eclectic” and “diverse” seem a tad bit understated when describing Truman’s body of work.

Even as Lonesome Dove, Dances with Wolves, and Unforgiven made the Western cool again, Truman was looking at the past, present, and future of the Western and frontier storytelling (Jonah Hex, The Kents, Scout, Wilderness, etc.). Before Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro, among others, were surprising people with their re-imaginations and interpretations of superheroes and classic fantasy characters, Tim Truman was bold and visionary on Hawkworld, JLA: Gatekeeper, and The Spider, among many.

In his comics, Truman, as a writer, artist, and writer/artist, offers muscular storytelling presented with surprising grace in beautiful graphics. So Truman is one of those rare creators who are actually ideal to create Conan the Barbarian comic books. Many are good, but few can capture both the splendor of Howard’s prose and the darkness and brutality of which this prose tells.

When it appeared in the cover-dated December 1932 issue of the famed pulp fiction magazine, Weird Tales, “The Phoenix on the Sword” became the first published story featuring the character, Conan the Barbarian. Tim Truman as writer and Tomás Giorello as artist have adapted that story in King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword, a four-issue comic book miniseries from Dark Horse Comics. The fourth and final issue recently arrived in comic book shops shortly.

King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #1 introduces us to a gray-haired Conan, King of Aquilonia, and to Pramis, a scribe who is chronicling the story of King Conan’s rule. Conan tells Pramis of a time early in his reign – a time of unrest – and the story travels back to that time.

Although Conan freed Aquilonia from a despotic king, he is now despised by Aquilonians, from the common man to the elite. Rinaldo, the poet and bard, who once sang his praises, now stirs unrest against Conan and is part of a plot to unseat Conan and replace him on the throne with a pure blood Aquilonian, Baron Dion. The mysterious Ascalante is the ringleader, but even more mysterious is Ascalante’s companion, a long-time enemy of Conan, the wizard Thoth-Amon.

I find King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword to be an unusual Conan story. It is not as if I haven’t read a Conan story like this – one that is a conspiratorial drama, but this is not the Conan comic book norm. There is more dark drama here than there is edgy drama; in fact, the only fight scene is Conan’s palace workout at the beginning of the story.

That is not at all a bad thing. Tim Truman fashions a story filled with political machinations and intrigue, but at its heart, it examines what happens when you get what you thought you wanted and then find it to be a prison. As a monarch, Conan is trapped, and the interesting twist that Truman gives this story is that his enemies may be about to get what they wanted, but in the worst way.

Truman has a wonderful collaborator in Tomás Giorello, who takes Truman’s script and transforms it into comic book art that is a tapestry of exotic backdrops, a striking cityscape, strange costumes, and shadowy backrooms (includes a fine double page spread). This art is not only perfect for Conan, but for just about any Robert E. Howard story. Giorello could probably deliver a stunning comic book vision of Tolkien.

This comic book also includes a 4-page preview of Conan the Barbarian #1 by Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan, Dave Stewart, and Richard Starkings & Comicraft, with cover art by Massimo Carnevale.

http://www.ttruman.com/

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Reads You Review: ARCHIE #631

"Jungle Fever"
ARCHIE #631
ARCHIE COMICS

SCRIPT/PENCILS: Dan Parent
INKS: Rich Koslowski
LETTERS: Jack Morelli
COLORS: Digikore Studios
COVER: Dan Parent
32pp, Color, $2.99

The CBS Saturday morning animated series, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space (originally broadcast during the 1972-73 television season), was very important to me. It was the singular work that introduced me to and got me interested in comic books, science fiction, and all-things-fantasy. By the time I discovered that there was such a thing as a Josie and the Pussycats comic book, the title had been discontinued.

During a recent infrequent visit to a comic book shop in the region, I was scanning the shelves for a copy of Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2 #1, when I spotted the cover of Archie #631. I saw its depiction of Archie Andrews cradling Pussycat Valerie Smith as the two kissed, and I quickly snatched the comic off the shelf.

Apparently, Archie and Valerie have been eyeing each other for some time, much to the chagrin of Archie’s longtime, dual love interests, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge. Now, Valerie, her parents, and her little, brother Trevor AKA “Trev,” are moving to Archie and gang’s hometown of Riverdale. Now, that Archie and Valerie are closer, their fledgling romance takes flight. Not everyone is happy, but maybe Archie’s friends and Valerie’s band mates will just have to deal.

The Archie Comics creator of which I’m most acquainted is Dan DeCarlo, and I think of him when I think of Archie Comics. I can, however, learn to really like Dan Parent, who scripts and pencils Archie #631. He modernizes the characters and settings, but retains the eternally retro charm that is inherently Archie. The story moves at a lively pace and the dialogue and characterizations are funny and even a bit peppery, while staying in the zone that is Archie Comics’ version of “all ages.”

I bought Archie #631 because Josie and the Pussycats are in it, but I didn’t plan on really liking it. Dan Parent makes me want more.

http://www.archiecomics.com/

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

DC Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 25 2012

DC COMICS

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FEB120295 SPACEMAN #6 (OF 9) (MR) $2.99

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FEB120230 TEEN TITANS #8 $2.99

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FEB120226 VOODOO #8 $2.99

Marvel Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 25 2012

MARVEL COMICS

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IDW Publishing from Diamond Distributors for April 25 2012

IDW PUBLISHING

MAR110472 ART OF AMANDA CONNER HC $29.99
FEB120375 DANGER GIRL REVOLVER #4 (OF 4) $3.99
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FEB120356 TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE ONGOING #4 $3.99
JAN120443 TRUE BLOOD HC VOL 03 THE FRENCH QUARTER $24.99

Dark Horse Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 25 2012

DARK HORSE COMICS

JAN120075 ABE SAPIEN TP VOL 02 DEVIL DOES NOT JEST $17.99
FEB120031 ANGEL & FAITH #9 REBEKAH ISAACS VAR CVR $2.99
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JAN120099 STAR WARS INVASION TP VOL 03 REVELATIONS $18.99
JAN120110 TUROK SON OF STONE ARCHIVES HC VOL 10 $59.99

Image Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 25 2012

IMAGE COMICS

FEB120493 ACTIVITY #5 $3.50
FEB120496 BLOODSTRIKE #27 $2.99
FEB120425 CHEW TP VOL 05 MAJOR LEAGUE CHEW (MR) $12.99
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FEB128198 REBEL BLOOD #1 (OF 4) VAR CVR 2ND PTG (MR) $3.50
FEB120517 REBEL BLOOD #2 (OF 4) (MR) $3.50

Comics and Magazines from Diamond Distributors for April 25 2012

PREVIEWS PUBLICATIONS
MAR120005 PREVIEWS #284 MAY 2012 PI

COMICS
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FEB120727 AIRBOY DEADEYE #1 (OF 5) $3.50

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FEB120749 ARCHIE #632 $2.99

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FEB120985 ARMY OF DARKNESS ONGOING #3 $3.99

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FEB120817 BART SIMPSON COMICS #70 $2.99

FEB121205 BLACK GOD TP VOL 16 $11.99

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FEB121109 CLASSICS ILLUS DLX HC VOL 08 OLIVER TWIST $24.99

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MAGAZINES
MAR121371 FANGORIA #313 $9.99
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FEB121234 JUXTAPOZ #136 MAY 2012 $5.99

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I Reads You Review: KULL: THE CAT AND THE SKULL #4

KULL: THE CAT AND THE SKULL #4
DARK HORSE COMICS

WRITER: David Lapham
ART: Gabriel Guzman
COLORS: Garry Henderson
LETTERS: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
COVER: Jo Chen
28pp, Colors, $3.50 U.S.

Kull the Conqueror (also known as Kull of Atlantis) is a fictional character created by Robert E. Howard (who also created Conan the Barbarian). Marvel Comics published the first comic book adaptations of the character in 1971. Now, Dark Horse Comics has the license to published Kull comic books.

The publisher’s latest Kull comic book miniseries is Kull: The Cat and the Skull. This story is an adaptation of a Kull short story first published in 1967, “Delcardes’ Cat” (also known as “The Cat and the Skull”). The series revolves around Kull’s encounter with Delcardes, one of the most beautiful women in the Seven Kingdoms, and an even more interesting creature, Delcardes’ traveling companion, the cat named Saremes. Because it is rumored that Saremes is of the old race, Kull is anxious to hear her counsel, as he takes on a serpent cult that is rallying under a powerful and mysterious wizard.

As Kull: The Cat and the Skull #4 begins, Kull’s trusted ally, Brule, returns to the palace, as Queen Igraine lies stricken. Meanwhile, the great serpent carries Kull to the world beneath the Forbidden Lake, where he encounters an ancient people enraged at his trespass. However, it is here where Conan will learn more about the fortune-seeing cat. Also, the identity of his true enemy is revealed.

I did not read the first three issues of this miniseries. I had forgotten about its existence until Dark Horse Comics was nice enough to send me a box of comics and books for review, and Kull: The Cat and the Skull #4 was among the books. First, I must say that the art by Gabriel Guzman and Garry Henderson (colors) is quiet pretty. It has an old timey feel that recalls Burne Hogarth’s Tarzan comic strip and Alex Raymond’s work on Flash Gordon. Thus, Guzman and Henderson’s work looks as if it belongs to the era when the Robert Howard short story, upon which this comic book is based, was written. [“Delcardes’ Cat” was first published three decades after Howard’s death.]

As for the script for this issue, it offers what amounts to at least two issues worth of story, yet there is no tension and little sense of conflict. Writer David Lapham presents every confrontation here as a chance for conversation. Seriously, everyone talks, threatens, begs, or makes grand proclamations. It’s so odd… and a little boring, and that’s a shame. There are imaginative scenarios and scenes here and some interesting soap-operatic subplots, but it all sort of dribbles away to anticlimax.

C+

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI – Force Storm #1

STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI – FORCE STORM #1 (OF 5)
DARK HORSE COMICS

STORY: John Ostrander and Jan Duursema
SCRIPT: John Ostrander
PENCILS: Jan Duursema
INKS: Dan Parsons
COLORS: Wes Dzioba
LETTERS: Michael Heisler
COVER: Gonzalo Flores - variant (Jan Duursema – main cover)
36pp, Color, $3.50 U.S.

In the Star Wars Expanded Universe timeline, there is a period known as “Before the Republic.” This era occurs from 36,000 to 25,000 years before the Battle of Yavin, the climatic battle in the 1977 film, Star Wars, in which Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star. Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi is a new series of comic book miniseries situated in the “Before the Republic” age.

The first miniseries is Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi – Force Storm. It takes place a few centuries before that time, 36,453 before the Battle of Yavin (also known by the acronym, BBY). The series takes readers back to the beginnings of the Jedi, then known as the Je’daii. On the planet Tython, in the center of the galaxy, these Je’daii (a word in the Bendu language that means “mystic center”) form an order of warrior monks that strives to maintain peace and to balance the mysterious power known as the Force.

In Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi – Force Storm #1, Je’daii Master Ketu recounts the birth of the order to two of his students. This includes the first great conflict in which the Je’daii must take an active role, The Despot War (a conflict that takes place 12-years before Ketu tells the story). Meanwhile, on the lush world of Tatooine, Predor Tul’Kar of the Infinite Empire culls Force sensitives with the help of his Force Hound, Xesh.

I was surprised when Dark Horse Comics sent me a copy of Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi – Force Storm #1. It must be obvious to them (and even some of you, dear readers) that I enjoy reading Star Wars comic books. I certainly enjoyed reading the Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi – Force Storm comic book.

The first 11 pages of issue #1 recount the beginnings of what would become the Jedi Order (thus, the term, “Dawn” in the title). I expected a different story. To me, at least, it lacks grandeur, as if this was something Stan Lee and Steve Ditko cobbled together for Strange Tales back in the 1960s. The story that is set in the present (Infinite Empire) is more interesting, and the character, Xesh, seems like a budding star.

The art by Jan Duursema is good, looking as right for Star Wars as any other comic book art. The storytelling is good, though a bit calm for Star Wars, but the Ostrander-Duursema team is a good one for Star Wars comic books.

[This comic book also includes a 4-page preview of Conan the Barbarian #1 by Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan, Dave Stewart, and Richard Starkings & Comicraft, with cover art by Massimo Carnevale.]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DC Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 18 2012

DC COMICS

JAN120392 AME COMI RAVEN ANGEL OF AZARATH VAR PVC FIG (RES) $70.00

JAN120393 AME COMI RAVEN DEMON DAUGHTER VAR PVC FIGURE (RES) $70.00

FEB128152 BATMAN #6 2ND PTG $2.99

FEB120186 BATMAN #8 $3.99

FEB120189 BATMAN #8 COMBO PACK $4.99

FEB120237 BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #3 $3.99

FEB120239 BATMAN ODYSSEY VOL 2 #7 (OF 7) $3.99

FEB128153 BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT #5 2ND PTG $2.99

JAN120305 BATMAN VENOM TP NEW EDITION $14.99

FEB120197 BIRDS OF PREY #8 $2.99

FEB120257 BLACKEST NIGHT SPECIAL EDITION #1 $4.99

FEB120233 BLUE BEETLE #8 $2.99

FEB120172 CAPTAIN ATOM #8 $2.99

FEB120202 CATWOMAN #8 $2.99

JAN120331 CINDERELLA FABLES ARE FOREVER TP (MR) $14.99

FEB120175 DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #8 $2.99

FEB120287 DOMINIQUE LAVEAU VOODOO CHILD #2 (MR) $2.99

FEB120284 FABLES #116 (MR) $2.99

FEB120208 GREEN LANTERN CORPS #8 $2.99

FEB120292 HELLBLAZER #290 (MR) $2.99

FEB120160 JUSTICE LEAGUE #8 $3.99

FEB120163 JUSTICE LEAGUE #8 COMBO PACK $4.99

FEB120236 LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #8 $2.99

DEC110292 NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS HC VOL 02 $75.00

FEB120203 NIGHTWING #8 $2.99

FEB120201 RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #8 $2.99

DEC110314 SHOOTERS HC (MR) $22.99

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FEB120185 SUPERGIRL #8 $2.99

FEB120242 THUNDER AGENTS VOL 2 #6 (OF 6) (NOTE PRICE) $3.99

FEB120167 WONDER WOMAN #8 $2.99

FEB120277 YOUNG JUSTICE #15 $2.99

Marvel Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 18 2012

MARVEL COMICS

FEB120569 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #684 ENDS $3.99

NOV110597 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS HC VOL 02 RAMOS CVR $99.99

NOV110598 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS HC VOL 02 ROMITA DM VAR ED $99.99

FEB120541 AVENGERS #25 AVX $3.99

NOV110606 AVENGERS SERPENT CROWN PREM HC $24.99

NOV110607 AVENGERS SERPENT CROWN PREM HC DM VAR ED 87 $24.99

FEB128219 AVENGERS VS X-MEN #0 (OF 12) 2ND PTG CHO VAR $3.99

FEB120534 AVENGERS VS X-MEN #2 (OF 12) WITH DIG CDE AVX $3.99

FEB120609 DEFENDERS #5 $3.99

FEB120676 EMMA GN TP $14.99

FEB120665 FEAR ITSELF HOME FRONT PREM HC $29.99

FEB120666 FEAR ITSELF UNCANNY X-FORCE DEEP PREM HC $24.99

FEB120596 INCREDIBLE HULK #7 $3.99

FEB120612 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #515 $3.99

FEB120563 JOHN CARTER GODS OF MARS #2 (OF 5) $2.99

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FEB120632 NEW MUTANTS #41 $2.99

FEB120667 NEW MUTANTS DATE WITH DEVIL PREM HC $19.99

FEB120578 PUNISHER #10 OMEGA $2.99

FEB120677 RED HULK HULK OF ARABIA TP $14.99

FEB120678 SIX GUNS TP $14.99

FEB120617 THUNDERBOLTS #173 $2.99

FEB120683 ULT COMICS SPIDER-MAN TP VOL 04 DOSM $19.99

NOV110596 ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS BY MARK MILLAR OMNIBUS HC $75.00

FEB120625 UNCANNY X-FORCE #24 $3.99

FEB120574 VENOM #16 $2.99

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FEB120670 WOLVERINE AND X-MEN BY JASON AARON PREM HC VOL 01 $19.99

FEB120635 X-FACTOR #234 $2.99

FEB120687 X-FACTOR TP VOL 13 HARD LABOR $15.99

FEB120623 X-MEN #27 $3.99

NOV110603 X-MEN FATAL ATTRACTIONS HC $99.99

FEB120691 X-MEN HIDDEN YEARS TP VOL 01 $34.99

IDW Publishing from Diamond Distributors for April 18 2012

IDW PUBLISHING

FEB120381 DOCTOR WHO ONGOING VOL 2 #16 $3.99
JAN120425 DUNGEONS & DRAGONS EBERRON ANNUAL 2012 #1 $7.99
FEB120396 ETERNAL DESCENT VOL 2 #4 (OF 6) $3.99
FEB120373 GHOSTBUSTERS ONGOING #8 $3.99
FEB120365 GI JOE A REAL AMERICAN HERO #177 $3.99
FEB120391 HP LOVECRAFT THE DUNWICH HORROR TP $17.99
FEB120348 NEXT MEN AFTERMATH #42 $3.99
FEB120336 ROCKETEER ADVENTURES 2 #2 (OF 4) $3.99
FEB120344 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES MICRO SERIES #4 LEONARDO $3.99
JAN120461 TRANSFORMERS CLASSICS TP VOL 03 $24.99
FEB120354 TRANSFORMERS MORE THAN MEETS EYE ONGOING #4 $3.99
JAN120481 ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS THIS MEANS WAR PROSE SC $17.99

Dark Horse Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 18 2012

DARK HORSE COMICS

FEB120048 3 STORY SECRET FILES O/T GIANT MAN ONE SHOT $3.50
JAN120108 ARCHIE ARCHIVES HC VOL 05 $49.99
DEC118164 ART OF TARA MCPHERSON HC VOL 02 LOST CONSTELLATIONS $24.99
FEB120038 BPRD HELL ON EARTH LONG DEATH #3 $3.50
FEB120052 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #11 FRANCAVILLA VAR CVR $7.99
FEB120051 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #11 ZONJIC CVR $7.99
JAN120094 FEAR AGENT TP VOL 06 $16.99
DEC110084 GANTZ TP VOL 22 $12.99
DEC110064 HELLCYON TP $12.99
DEC110083 KATSUYA TERADA THE MONKEY KING TP VOL 02 $16.99
DEC110082 OH MY GODDESS RTL TP VOL 41 $12.99
FEB120027 RAGEMOOR #2 $3.50
FEB120044 RESET #1 (OF 4) BAGGE CVR $3.50
FEB120016 RESIDENT ALIEN #0 $3.50
FEB128143 STAR WARS DAWN O/T JEDI FORCE STORM #0 (3RD PTG) $3.50
FEB128144 STAR WARS DAWN O/T JEDI FORCE STORM #1 (3RD PTG) $3.50
FEB120012 STAR WARS DAWN O/T JEDI FORCE STORM #3 $3.50

Image Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 18 2012

IMAGE COMICS

FEB128069 BLOODSTRIKE #26 VAR CVR 2ND PTG $2.99
AUG110511 BOMB QUEEN VII QUEENS WORLD #3 (OF 4) (MR) $3.50
JAN128232 DARKNESS #101 VAR CVR 2ND PTG (MR) $2.99
FEB128156 MANHATTAN PROJECTS #1 VAR CVR 3RD PTG $3.50
FEB120509 MANHATTAN PROJECTS #2 $3.50
FEB120512 NEAR DEATH #7 $2.99
FEB120513 NO PLACE LIKE HOME #3 (MR) $2.99
JAN128231 PROPHET #23 VAR CVR 2ND PTG $2.99
FEB120516 PROPHET #24 $2.99
FEB128166 SAGA #1 VAR CVR 3RD PTG (MR) $2.99
FEB120461 SPAWN ORIGINS HC VOL 06 $29.99
JAN120606 SUPER DINOSAUR #10 $2.99
FEB120527 WALKING DEAD #96 (MR) $2.99
JAN120610 WITCHBLADE #155 CVR A CHRISTOPER $2.99
JAN120611 WITCHBLADE #155 CVR B BERNARD & BENES $2.99

Comics and Magazines from Diamond Distributors for April 18 2012

COMICS

DEC111181 2000 AD #1772 $5.25

JAN121233 2000 AD #1773 (NOTE PRICE) $5.25

JAN121234 2000 AD #1774 (NOTE PRICE) $5.25

JAN121235 2000 AD #1775 (NOTE PRICE) $5.25

FEB120751 ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST #228 $3.99

FEB120986 ARMY OF DARKNESS OMNIBUS TP VOL 02 $29.99

FEB121131 ASTERIX OMNIBUS SC VOL 03 $19.95

FEB121203 BETRAYAL KNOWS MY NAME GN VOL 03 (MR) $18.99

FEB120753 BETTY & VERONICA #259 $2.99

FEB121204 BLACK BUTLER TP VOL 09 $11.99

JAN121261 BLOOD FEAST #1 $3.50

JAN121169 BLOODY MONDAY GN VOL 05 $10.99

JAN121170 CAGE OF EDEN GN VOL 05 $10.99

JAN121274 CAPTAIN COMMANDO GN VOL 01 (OF 2) $19.99

JAN121291 CASE CLOSED GN VOL 42 $9.99

FEB121039 CASTLE WAITING VOL II #16 (RES) $3.95

JAN121292 CROSS GAME TP VOL 07 $14.99

DEC110763 DAMAGED GOODS GN (MR) $17.99

SEP111045 DANGER GIRL ARMY OF DARKNESS #5 $3.99

AUG111227 DARKSTALKERS ULTIMATE ED TP $49.99

DEC118227 DCD SUMMIT 2012 AVENGERS VS X-MEN #2 (OF 12) INKED VAR PI

DEC111059 DF WARLORD OF MARS #16 EXC RISQUE RED CVR $14.99

JAN121197 DISNEY FAIRIES GN VOL 08 TINKER BELL STORIES FOR RAINY DAY $7.99

JAN121198 DISNEY FAIRIES HC VOL 08 TINKER BELL STORIES FOR RAINY DAY $11.99

JAN121297 DOROHEDORO GN VOL 06 (MR) $12.99

FEB121206 DURARARA GN VOL 02 $11.99

JAN121296 EXCEL SAGA TP VOL 23 $9.99

FEB120772 FATHOM KIANI VOL 2 #1 CVR A NOME $3.50

FEB120773 FATHOM KIANI VOL 2 #1 CVR B OUM $3.50

DEC111207 HARVEY PEKAR CLEVELAND HC $21.99

FEB120836 HELLRAISER MASTERPIECES #12 (MR) $3.99

JAN121427 HEROES FOR MY DAUGHTER HC $19.99

FEB121207 HIGH SCHOOL OF DEAD GN VOL 06 (MR) $13.99

FEB121208 HIGURASHI WHEN THEY CRY GN VOL 18 ATONEMENT ARC PT 4 $11.99

AUG111189 HUSH HUSH HC $19.95

JAN120977 ICE AGE PLAYING FAVORITES ONE SHOT $3.99

FEB120838 IRREDEEMABLE #36 $3.99

JAN121293 ITSUWARIBITO GN VOL 05 $9.99

DEC111185 JUDGE ANDERSON PSI FILES TP VOL 02 $32.99

JAN121294 KEKKAISHI GN VOL 31 $9.99

JAN121166 KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #185 $5.99

DEC111114 KODT BUNDLE OF TROUBLE TP VOL 36 $14.99

SEP111099 KRAZY & IGNATZ TP 1922-1924 DRIM OF LOVE $24.99

SEP111100 KRAZY IGNATZ LTD HC FIRST SUNDAYS (1916-1924) $95.00

JAN121303 LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE HERE COMES THE SUN GN $6.99

JAN121255 LOVECRAFT ANTHOLOGY TP VOL 01 $19.95

JAN121295 MAOH JUVENILE REMIX TP VOL 10 (OF 10) $9.99

DEC110835 MIXTAPE #1 $2.99

JAN121304 MR BUMP IN LIGHTS CAMERA BUMP GN $6.99

JAN121746 MR TOAST COMICS #1 $3.00

JAN121747 MR TOAST COMICS #2 $3.00

JAN121286 NAOKI URASAWA 20TH CENTURY BOYS GN VOL 20 $12.99

FEB120872 PEANUTS #4 (OF 4) $3.99

FEB120840 PLANET OF THE APES #13 $3.99

JAN120810 POCKET GOD GN VOL 02 TALE OF TWO PYGMIES (RES) $12.99

JAN120811 POCKET GOD GN VOL 03 QUEST CALLED TRIBE $12.99

FEB120703 RACHEL RISING #7 $3.99

OCT111046 RED SONJA #65 $3.99

FEB121113 SECRET HISTORY OF DB COOPER #2 $3.99

FEB120897 SHADOW #1 $3.99

FEB121157 SHARK KING GN $12.95

FEB120819 SIMPSONS COMICS #189 $2.99

JAN120926 SIMPSONS CONFIDENTIAL TP $15.99

FEB121112 SIXTH GUN #21 $3.99

FEB120762 SONIC UNIVERSE #39 $2.99

FEB120856 STEED AND MRS PEEL #4 (OF 6) $3.99

JAN120892 STITCHED #4 (MR) $3.99

JAN120894 STITCHED #4 GORE CVR (MR) $3.99

JAN120893 STITCHED #4 WRAP CVR (MR) $3.99

FEB121066 STRANGEWAYS THE THIRSTY GN $17.95

FEB120809 SURVIVALIST ONE SHOT $7.99

JAN121287 TENJO TENGE GN VOL 06 (MR) $17.99

FEB120740 TURNING TIGER GN SPECIAL ED $7.99

OCT111015 VAMPI OMNIBUS TP VOL 01 $29.99

DEC111012 VAMPIRELLA #16 $3.99

JAN121288 X 3-IN-1 ED TP VOL 02 $19.99

MAGAZINES
DEC111345 007 MAGAZINE ARCHIVE DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER #1 $18.00
JAN121362 BACK ISSUE #55 $8.95
DEC111290 COMIC HEROES MAGAZINE #11 100 GREATEST HEROES $18.99
JAN121386 DR WHO MAGAZINE #445 $8.99
DEC111183 JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE #321 $11.99
FEB121312 LOCUS #615 $6.95
NOV111229 MEGAMI FEB 2012 $16.60
NOV111231 NEWTYPE FEB 2012 $16.00
JAN121423 SFX #220 $10.99
FEB121306 SUPERNATURAL MAGAZINE #32 NEWSSTAND ED $6.99
FEB121307 SUPERNATURAL MAGAZINE #32 PX ED $6.99
JAN121405 UNDYING MONSTERS MAGAZINE #4 $9.95

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Reads You Review: ROCKETEER ADVENTURES VOL. 2 #1

"More tears than rockets"
ROCKETEER ADVENTURES VOL. 2 #1
IDW PUBLISHING

WRITERS: Marc Guggenheim, Peter David, Stan Sakai
ARTISTS: Sandy Plunkett, Bill Sienkiewicz, Stan Sakai
COLORS: Jeromy Cox, Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Stewart
LETTERS: Robbie Robbins, Bill Sienkiewicz, Stan Sakai
PIN-UP: Arthur Adams with John Rauch
EDITOR: Scott Dunbier
COVER: Darwyn Cooke (alternate cover by Dave Stevens)
28pp, Color, $3.50 U.S.

First appearing in 1982, The Rocketeer is a superhero created by the late writer/illustrator Dave Stevens and inspired by the Saturday matinee movie heroes of the 1930s and 1940s. Set mainly in Los Angeles in and after the year 1938, the series follows Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious jet pack that allows him to fly, leading to the birth of The Rocketeer.

After a long absence from comics, The Rocketeer returned last year in Rocketeer Adventures. This four-issue miniseries was an anthology comic book edited by Scott Dunbier and published by IDW Publishing. Rocketeer Adventures features Rocketeer short stories (about 7 to 8 pages in length) from some of the premiere creators in American comic books. Now, the fun is back in Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2.

Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2 #1 opens with “The Good Guys,” story by Marc Guggenheim and art by Sandy Plunkett. While the wounded Rocketeer slumbers in a bed on the second floor of a farmhouse, the locals discuss his fate: turn him over to the law or not. But a child shall lead them. Peter David gives the Rocketeer a Looney Tunes spin in “The Ducketeer,” with art by Bill Sienkiewicz, who executes a graphic riff on Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble. Stan Sakai takes the Rocketeer to a small-ville and the Rocketeer takes a kid up, up, and away in “A Dream of Flying.”

Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2 starts off nostalgic and quaint with this first issue. The stories are sweet and sentimental, with in-jokes for comic book and cartoon fans. These pop culture references and riffs will make even the most jaded pop culture buff smile.

Marc Guggenheim’s tale (“The Good Guys”) treads on familiar territory. Are there enough good people to fight evil and what is the nature of vigilantism are two real-world questions with which this story grapples. Guggenheim’s story is timely in light of a FOX News affiliate in Orlando, Florida referring to Neo-Nazi group, the National Socialist Movement, as a civil rights group, something the FOX News website later repeated.

This story is also a welcomed return of seldom-seen comic book artist, Sandy Plunkett, whose style is ideal for this old-timey, rural pastoral story. Like Rocketeer creator, Dave Stevens, Plunkett is apparently also influenced by the American book and magazine illustrators of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

That aside, these new Rocketeer comic books are rapidly becoming showcases for artists that don’t regularly produce comic book art. These stories are also too sentimental, and, as much as I enjoy a dose of “Disneyana” with my comics, The Rocketeer’s origin comes out of adventure movie serials. This character needs to bust out in a miniseries – one complete with cliffhanger endings at the end of each issue. New Rocketeer comics should not be treated as if they are part of a eulogy to Stevens. All this pretty art and quaintness makes Rocketeer Adventures seem like a funerary item.

I appreciate the new Rocketeer comics, but they can be more than what they are. I must admit, of course, that I think the Art Adams pin-up is awesome.

B+


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review: MORIARTY VOLUME 2: The Lazarus Tree

MORIARTY VOLUME 2: THE LAZARUS TREE
IMAGE COMICS

WRITER: Daniel Corey
ARTISTS: Anthony Diecidue (pp. 5-55, 76-126), Mike Vosburg (pp. 56-75)
LAYOUTS: Mike Vosburg (pp. 31-52)
COLORS: Anthony Diecidue (pp. 55-76, 103-126), Perry Freeze (pp. 5-52, 79-100)
LETTERS: Dave Lanphear
COVER: Anthony Diecidue
ISBN: 978-1-60706-490-9; paperback
140pp, Color, $14.99 U.S.

I occasionally read articles in which the writers describe Professor James Moriarty as the first super-villain. Moriarty is Sherlock Holmes’ archenemy, although he only appeared in one story written by Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He was a background player in another.

Published by Image Comics, Moriarty is a comic book series that stars Professor Moriarty as its central character. This alternate take on Moriarty is brought to readers by writer Daniel Corey and artist Anthony Diecidue.

The trade paperback, Moriarty Volume 2: The Lazarus Tree, collects Moriarty #5-9. The story picks up in the wake of The Dark Chamber (Moriarty #1-4) and finds Professor Moriarty trying to decipher the unsettling dreams that plague his sleep. Holmes and Watson are the featured players in these dreams, but other figures include a faceless man and a young boy being birthed from a stranger flower of the banyan tree.

Moriarty adopts the guise of Latimore of East India Company and sets sail for Burma in search of Eustis Morley, a missing friend and employee (or sorts). Arriving in the city of Kyauktada, Moriarty lands in the middle of unrest that varied interests are trying to turn into a full-fledged revolution. With Blair, a troublesome Imperial Policeman, as an ally, Moriarty searches for Morley, an investigation that takes Moriarty back to the beginning of his career and the early days in which he built a secret business empire. Waiting for him is a tree hidden deep in the Burmese jungles – a legendary tree that offers resurrection and the secret of Moriarty’s destiny.

When I received a copy of Moriarty Volume 1: The Dark Chamber for review last year, I admitted that I was not happy. I simply was not interested in another Holmes pastiche, but feeling obligated to review the damn thing, I eventually started reading and then, couldn’t stop. I also wrote that I found The Dark Chamber to be every bit as fun as the first Guy Ritche/Robert Downey, Jr. Sherlock Holmes film, with a Moriarty that was every bit as interesting and as fun to follow as Downey’s Holmes.

I enjoyed reading The Lazarus Tree, but not as much as I did The Dark Chamber. The reason is simple. In The Dark Chamber, Moriarty is a brilliant man, but he is destitute and desperate. The entire graphic novel has the sense that Moriarty might not survive. He has a lot to lose; he has everything to lose, and there is conflict and dilemmas galore.

In The Lazarus Tree, Moriarty is a man in full. There is conflict and cliffhangers, but writer Daniel Corey plays Moriarty as something like a superman who is simply rebuilding his empire. The Lazarus Tree has some interesting philosophical and scientific ideas, and it does show an interesting side of Moriarty (friendships). However, the threats that Moriarty faces in The Lazarus Tree don’t come across as having a sense of impending doom.

The art by Anthony Diecidue retains its woodblock sensibilities and expressionistic inking. Not only is Diecidue a good storyteller, but he is also good at giving this story grit and darkness so that it doesn’t come across as some kind of over-dressed Victorian fantasia. Mike Vosburg does a good job drawing the flashback story.

B+


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Marvel Comics' "Daredevil" Leads 2012 Eisner Award Nominations

Nominees Announced for 2012 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

Selections Reflect Wide Diversity in Industry

SAN DIEGO - Comic-Con International (Comic-Con) is proud to announce the nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2012. The nominees, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges, reflect the wide range of material being published in comics and graphic novel form today, from nursery rhymes and World War II battles to high school angst and pulp fiction.

Topping the 2012 list with 6 nominations is Marvel’s Daredevil, with nods for Best Continuing Series, Best Single Issue, Best Writer (Mark Waid), Best Cover Artist (Marcos Martin), and Best Penciller/Inker Team (two nominations: Marcos Martin, and Paolo Rivera/Joe Rivera). Close behind with 5 nominations is Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, an original graphic novel of an unproduced, feature-length screenplay written by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, adapted by artist Ramón K. Pérez, published by Archaia. The book is up for Best Graphic Album-New, Best Penciller/Inker, Best Coloring, Best Lettering, and Best Publication Design.

Three titles have 3 nominations: Vertigo/DC’s iZombie (Best Penciller/Inker and Best Cover Artist for Michael Allred, Best Coloring for Laura Allred) and The Unwritten (Best Single Issue, Best Writer for Mike Carey, Best Cover Artist for Yuko Shimizu), and IDW’s Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition, by Darwyn Cooke (Best Short Story, Best Graphic Album-Reprint, Best Publication Design). Sixteen titles had 2 nominations, and the remaining nominations were spread among nearly 100 books and comics in 27 categories.

Joining Tale of Sand in the Graphic Album-New category are Bubbles & Gondola by French cartoonist Renaud Dillies (NBM), the animation-industry-based Freeway by Mark Kalesniko (Fantagraphics), the critically acclaimed Habibi by Craig Thompson (Pantheon), Ivy by newcomer Sarah Oleksyk (Oni), and the experimental One Soul by Ray Fawkes (Oni).

DC and Marvel tied for the most nominations for a publisher, each having 11 nominations plus 2 shared. For DC, Vertigo had the lion’s share of nominations, led by iZombie and The Unwritten. In addition to the Daredevil nods, Marvel had 2 nominations for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal: The Last of the Innocents under the Icon imprint. IDW also had 11 nominations, dominating the Best Archival Collection, Comics-Related Book, and Publication Design categories. Close behind with 10 nominations (plus 1 shared) is Dark Horse, including 2 each for Dark Horse Presents, Jeff Jensen’s Green River Killer, and Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. Next, with 9 (plus 1 shared) is Fantagraphics, including 3 nominations each in the Archival and International categories.

Other publishers with multiple nominations include First Second and NBM (6); Abrams ComicArts, Archaia, Drawn & Quarterly, and Oni (5); Image (4 plus 2 shared); Candlewick (4); and Pantheon (3). Eleven publishers had 2 nominations: Abstract Studio, Action Lab, Archie, Atheneum, Bongo, BOOM!, Chronicle, Top Shelf, the University of Mississippi Press, VIZ Media, and Yen Press. Another 15 publishers have 1 nomination each.

Although the judges have honored the superhero series Daredevil with the largest single number of nominations, they have selected a wide range of works from other genres and smaller presses, including nominations for several non-American creators within non-international categories. These creators include French cartoonists Dilles, Émile Bravo, Philippe Coudray, Nix, and Sylvain Savoia; Japanese creators Naoki Urasawa and Shiguru Mizuki; Croatian artist Tonci Zonjic; Argentinian artist Eduardo Risso; Spanish artist Marcos Martin; Italian artists Francesco Frankavilla and Sara Picelli; Polish author Marzena Sowa; Iranians Amir and Khalil; and over a dozen Canadian and British creators.

Named for acclaimed comics creator the Will Eisner, the awards are in their 24th year of highlighting the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels. The 2012 Eisner Awards judging panel consists of reviewer Brigid Alverson (Graphic Novel Reporter, CBR, Robot 6), retailer Calum Johnston (Strange Adventures, Halifax, Nova Scotia), librarian Jesse Karp (LREI, New York), cartoonist Larry Marder (Beanworld), comics historian Benjamin Saunders (University of Oregon), and Comic-Con board of director Mary Sturhann.

This year’s judges added two new categories: Best Publication for Early Readers, and Best Educational/Academic Work. They also dropped four categories from the previous year: Best New Series, Best Adaptation from Another Medium, Best Writer/Artist-Nonfiction, and Best Painter/Multimedia Artist. According to Eisner Awards Administrator Jackie Estrada, "The judges chose to not have the New Series and Painter categories this year because they didn’t find enough contenders that reached the level of quality they were looking for." However, Estrada says, "the extent and quality of the material submitted in the Kids and Teen categories was so high that the judges felt dividing these books into three categories was warranted."

Ballots with this year’s nominees will be going out in mid-April to comics creators, editors, publishers, and retailers. A downloadable pdf of the ballot is available online, and a special website has been set up for online voting: www.eisnervote.com. The results in all categories will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 13 at Comic-Con International.

Voting in one Eisner Awards category, the Hall of Fame, is already completed. The judges chose the nominees earlier this year, and voting was conducted solely online.

The Eisner Awards are part of Comic-Con International, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to creating awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular artforms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contributions of comics to art and culture. Jackie Estrada has been administrator of the Awards since 1990. She can be reached at jackie@comic-con.org.

More information about the Eisner Awards can be found at http://www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_eisners_main.shtml.

2012 Eisner Award Nominees - The Complete List

EISNER AWARD NOMINEES 2012

Winners to be announced, Friday, July 13, 2012 at Comic-Con International in San Diego:

Best Short Story
"A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture," by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly)

"Harvest of Fear," by Jim Woodring, in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #17 (Bongo)

"The Seventh," by Darwyn Cooke, in Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition (IDW)

"The Speaker," by Brandon Graham, in Dark Horse Presents #7 (Dark Horse)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Daredevil #7, by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)

Ganges #4, by Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics)

Locke & Key: Guide to the Known Keys, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)

Princeless #3, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab)

The Unwritten #24: "Stairway to Heaven" by Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Al Davison (Vertigo/DC)

Best Continuing Series
Daredevil, by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)

Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)

Rachel Rising, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli (Marvel)

Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)

Best Limited Series
Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X, by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener (Red 5)

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel Icon)

Flashpoint: Batman - Knight of Vengeance, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (Vertigo/DC)

The New York Five, by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly (Vertigo/DC)

Who Is Jake Ellis? by Nathan Edmondson & Tonci Zonjic (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Beauty and the Squat Bears, by Émile Bravo (Yen Press)

Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, by Philippe Coudray (Candlewick/Toon Books)

Dragon Puncher Island, by James Kochalka (Top Shelf)

Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (First Second)

Patrick in a Teddy Bear’s Picnic, by Geoffrey Hayes (Candlewick/Toon Books)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)
The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold, by Sholly Fisch, Rick Burchett, and Dan Davis (DC)

Amelia Rules: The Meaning of Life ... And Other Stuff, by Jimmy Gownley (Atheneum)

The Ferret’s a Foot, by Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue (Graphic Universe/Lerner)

Princeless, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab)

Snarked, by Roger Langridge (kaboom!)

Zita the Space Girl, by Ben Hatke (First Second)

Best Publication for Young Adults (Ages 12-17)
Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol (First Second)

Around the World, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)

Level Up, by Gene Yang and Thien Pham (First Second)

Life with Archie, by Paul Kupperberg, Fernando Ruiz, Pat & Tim Kennedy, Norm Breyfogle et al. (Archie)

Mystic, by G. Willow Wilson and David Lopez (Marvel)

Best Anthology
Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)

Nelson, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix (Blank Slate)

Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (First Second)

The Someday Funnies, edited by Michel Choquette (Abrams ComicArts)

Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land, edited by Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle (Abrams ComicArts)

Best Humor Publication
The Art of Doug Sneyd: A Collection of Playboy Cartoons (Dark Horse Books)

Chimichanga, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)

Coffee: It’s What’s for Dinner, by Dave Kellett (Small Fish)

Kinky & Cosy, by Nix (NBM)

Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, by Evan Dorkin (Dark Horse Books)

Best Digital Comic
Bahrain, by Josh Neufeld, www.cartoonmovement.com/comic/24

Battlepug, by Mike Norton, http://www.battlepug.com/

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff, http://www.delilahdirk.com/

Outfoxed, by Dylan Meconis, www.dylanmeconis.com/outfoxed

Sarah and the Seed, by Ryan Andrews, www.ryan-a.com/comics/sarahandtheseed01.htm

Best Reality-Based Work
Around the World, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)

Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse Books)

Marzi: A Memoir, by Marzena Sowa and Sylvain Savoia (Vertigo/DC)

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Vietnamerica, by GB Tran (Villard)

Best Graphic Album - New
Bubbles & Gondola, by Renaud Dillies (NBM)

Freeway, by Mark Kalesniko (Fantagraphics)

Habibi, by Craig Thompson (Pantheon)

Ivy, by Sarah Olekysk (Oni)

Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, adapted by Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia)

One Soul, by Ray Fawkes (Oni)

Best Graphic Album - Reprint
Big Questions, by Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)

The Death Ray, by Dan Clowes (Drawn & Quarterly)

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition, by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

WE3: The Deluxe Edition, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo/DC)

Zahra’s Paradise, by Amir and Khalil (First Second)

Best Archival Collection/Project - Strips
Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, by Alex Raymond and Don Moore, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)

Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)

Prince Valiant vols. 3-4, by Hal Foster, edited by Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)

Tarpé Mills’s Miss Fury Sensational Sundays, 1944-1949, edited by Trina Robbins (IDW/Library of American Comics)

Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse vols. 1-2, by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project - Comic Books
Government Issue: Comics for the People: 1940s-2000s, edited by Richard L. Graham (Abrams ComicArts)

The MAD Fold-In Collection, by Al Jaffee (Chronicle)

PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly, by Will Eisner (Abrams ComicArts)

The Sugar and Spike Archives, vol. 1, by Sheldon Mayer (DC)

Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition (IDW)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
Bubbles & Gondola, by Renaud Dillies (NBM)

Isle of 100,000 Graves, by Fabien Vehlmann and Jason (Fantagraphics)

Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette (Fantagraphics)

The Manara Library, vol. 1: Indian Summer and Other Stories, by Milo Manara with Hugo Pratt (Dark Horse Books)

Night Animals: A Diptych About What Rushes Through the Bushes, by Brecht Evens (Top Shelf)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material - Asia
A Bride’s Story, by Kaoru Mori (Yen Press)

Drops of God, by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto (Vertical)

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Saturn Apartments, vols. 3-4, by Hisae Iwaoka (VIZ Media)

Stargazing Dog, by Takashi Murakami (NBM)

Wandering Son, vol. 1, by Shimura Takako (Fantagraphics)

Best Writer
Cullen Bunn, The Sixth Gun (Oni)

Mike Carey, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)

Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story (Dark Horse Books)

Jeff Lemire, Animal Man, Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (DC); Sweet Tooth (Vertigo/DC)

Mark Waid, Irredeemable, Incorruptible (BOOM!); Daredevil (Marvel)

Best Writer/Artist
Rick Geary, The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti (NBM)

Terry Moore, Rachel Rising (Abstract Studio)

Sarah Oleksyk, Ivy (Oni)

Craig Thompson, Habibi (Pantheon)

Jim Woodring, Congress of the Animals (Fantagraphics), "Harvest of Fear," in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #17 (Bongo)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Michael Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)

Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)

Chris Samnee, Captain America and Bucky, Ultimate Spider-Man #155 (Marvel)

Marcos Martin, Daredevil (Marvel)

Paolo Rivera/Joe Rivera, Daredevil (Marvel)

Best Cover Artist
Michael Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC)

Francesco Francavilla, Black Panther (Marvel); Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars (Dynamite); Archie Meets Kiss (Archie)

Victor Kalvachev, Blue Estate (Image)

Marcos Martin, Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel)

Sean Phillips, Criminal: The Last of the Innocent (Marvel Icon)

Yuko Shimizu, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)

Best Coloring
Laura Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)

Bill Crabtree, The Sixth Gun (Oni)

Ian Herring and Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)

Victor Kalvachev, Blue Estate (Image)

Cris Peter, Casanova: Avaritia, Casanova: Gula (Marvel Icon)

Best Lettering
Deron Bennett, Billy Fog, Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, Mr. Murder Is Dead (Archaia); Helldorado, Puss N Boots, Richie Rich (APE Entertainment)

Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! The Meaning of Life ... And Other Stuff (Atheneum)

Laura Lee Gulledge, Page by Paige (Amulet Books/Abrams)

Tom Orzechowski, Manara Library, with L. Lois Buholis(Dark Horse); Manga Man (Houghton Mifflin); Savage Dragon (Image)

Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)

Best Comics-Related Journalism
The AV Club Comics Panel, by Noel Murray, Oliver Sava et al., www.avclub.com/features/comics-panel/

The Beat, produced by Heidi MacDonald et al., www.comicsbeat.com

The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, and The Comics Journal website, www.tcj.com, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (Fantagraphics)

The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon, www.comicsreporter.com

TwoMorrows Publications: Alter Ego edited by Roy Thomas, Back Issue edited by Michael Eury, Draw edited by Mike Manley, and Jack Kirby Collector edited by John Morrow

Best Educational/Academic Work
Alan Moore: Conversations, ed. by Eric Berlatsky (University Press of Mississippi)

Cartooning: Philosophy & Practice, by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)

Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods, edited by Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan (Routledge)

Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby, by Charles Hatfield (University Press of Mississippi)

Projections: Comics and the History of 21st Century Storytelling, by Jared Gardner (Stanford University Press)

Best Comics-Related Book
Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW/Yoe Books)

Caniff: A Visual Biography, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)

Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising, edited by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard (Fantagraphics/Marschall Books)

Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)

MetaMaus, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)

Best Publication Design
Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)

Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, designed by Eric Skillman (Archaia)

Kinky & Cosy, designed by Nix (NBM)

The MAD Fold-In Collection, designed by Michael Morris (Chronicle)

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition, designed by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Reads You Review: AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1

"Come back to the Five-and-Dime, Secret Wars, Secret Wars"
AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1
MARVEL COMICS

STORY: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, and Matt Fraction
SCRIPT: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: John Romita, Jr.
INKS: Scott Hanna
COLORS: Laura Martin
LETTERS: Chris Eliopoulos
COVERS: Jim Cheung and Justin Ponsor
40pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.

Rated: T+

Marvel Comics’ latest big, event series is Avengers vs. X-Men. This planned 12-issue miniseries pits the Avengers and the X-Men against each other over the return of The Phoenix and its likely host, the Mutant Messiah, Hope Summers.

As Avengers vs. X-Men #1 begins, The Phoenix force makes itself known. Meanwhile, the Avengers deal with a crisis over New York City that threatens both civilians and landmarks. This crisis, however, is merely a harbinger of things to come concerning The Phoenix, a threat that both the Avengers and the White House take seriously. What they decide to do about it leads straight to the X-Men. When Captain America approaches Cyclops, will the mutant leader want to hear what the Avenger has to say?

I found the prologue to this event, Avengers vs. X-Men #0, to be surprisingly blasé. Avengers vs. X-Men #1 is a bit more exciting, mainly because its focus is conflict, whereas #0 offered character vignettes (and not very interesting ones, at that). From the destruction depicted early in this issue to the New York City disaster scene to the designation of the X-Men as a nexus point, this first issue clearly presages a superhero “pay-per-view” wrestling match.

One thing that certainly surprises me is how simply told this comic book is. None of that sophisticated, faux-Mamet drama here: this is Secret Wars-like in its punch-to-settle-differences ethos. Even John Romita, Jr.’s pencil art is retro-cool, lacking photo-realism and exaggerated detail in the figure drawing (especially on the musculature).

There is no telling where this narrative will go when new writers and artists take over in the later issues, but for now, I find this straight-forward superhero battle to be quaint, but fun to read. I won’t lie and say that it is great, but Avengers vs. X-Men #1 is nice.

B

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DC Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 11 2012

DC COMICS

DEC110322 100 BULLETS HC BOOK 02 (MR) $49.99

FEB120200 BATGIRL #8 $2.99

FEB120196 BATMAN AND ROBIN #8 $2.99

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FEB120274 GREEN LANTERN THE ANIMATED SERIES #1 $2.99

FEB120223 GRIFTER #8 $2.99

JAN120309 HITMAN TP VOL 06 FOR TOMORROW $29.99

NOV110204 I VAMPIRE TP $29.99

FEB120235 LEGION LOST #8 $2.99

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JAN120314 TEEN TITANS PRIME OF LIFE TP $19.99

FEB120297 UNWRITTEN #36 (MR) $2.99

Marvel Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 11 2012

MARVEL COMICS

FEB120572 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN HOOKY #1 $4.99

FEB120554 AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #2 WITH DIG CDE $3.99

FEB120550 AVENGERS COMING OF AVENGERS #1 $3.99

FEB120697 AVENGERS VS X-MEN BY JIM CHEUNG B POSTER $8.99

FEB120698 AVENGERS VS X-MEN BY RYAN STEGMAN POSTER $8.99

FEB120650 AVENGERS VS X-MEN ITS COMING TP $19.99

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FEB120680 BLACK PANTHER MDMA KINGPIN OF WAKANDA TP $16.99

FEB120571 CARNAGE USA #5 (OF 5) $3.99

JAN120730 DAREDEVIL SEASON ONE PREM HC WITH DIG CDE $24.99

FEB120637 DEADPOOL #53 $2.99

FEB120696 ESSENTIAL AVENGERS TP VOL 08 $19.99

FEB120592 FANTASTIC FOUR #605 $2.99

FEB120562 FORMIC WARS SILENT STRIKE #5 (OF 5) $3.99

JAN128259 FREE MARVELS AVENGERS MOVIE ROLLED POSTER PI

FEB120642 GOLDFISH GN HC (MR) $24.99

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FEB120591 JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #636 $2.99

FEB120603 MARVEL UNIVERSE AVENGERS EARTHS MIGHTIEST HEROES #1 $2.99

FEB120588 MIGHTY THOR #12.1 $2.99

NOV110599 MMW CAPTAIN AMERICA HC VOL 06 $59.99

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FEB120586 WINTER SOLDIER #4 $2.99

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FEB120693 X-MEN DARK PHOENIX SAGA TP NEW PTG $24.99

FEB120688 X-MEN LEGACY LOST LEGIONS TP $16.99

IDW Publishing from Diamond Distributors for April 11 2012

IDW PUBLISHING

FEB120363 COBRA ONGOING #12 $3.99
JAN120436 DANGER GIRL REVOLVER #3 (OF 4) $3.99
FEB120317 DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS FORGOTTEN REALMS 100 PG $7.99
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FEB120399 OZ TREASURY ED $9.99
FEB120384 SMOKE AND MIRRORS #2 (OF 5) $3.99
JAN120482 ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS ASHLEY WOOD PORTFOLIO SET $20.00

Dark Horse Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 11 2012

DARK HORSE COMICS

FEB120028 ALABASTER WOLVES #1 (OF 5) RUTH CVR $3.50
JAN118120 BERSERK TP VOL 21 (MR) $14.99
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NOV110056 CLASSIC MARVEL CHARACTERS FF #3 HUMAN TORCH $49.95
FEB120022 CONAN THE BARBARIAN #3 CARNEVALE CVR $3.50
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FEB120036 LOBSTER JOHNSON THE BURNING HAND #4 (OF 5) JOHNSON CVR $3.50
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FEB120021 ORCHID #6 (MR) $3.50
FEB120011 STAR WARS AGENT O/T EMPIRE IRON ECLIPSE #5 (OF 5) $3.50
FEB120013 STAR WARS KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC WAR #4 (OF 5) $3.50

Image Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 11 2012

IMAGE COMICS

FEB128166 SAGA #1 VAR CVR 2ND PTG (MR) $2.99
FEB120414 68 SCARS #1 (OF 4) CVR A JONES (MR) $3.99
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FEB120448 INFINITE HORIZON TP $17.99
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FEB120519 SAGA #2 (MR) $2.99
FEB120405 SECRET #1 $3.50
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FEB120467 STRANGE TALENT OF LUTHER STRODE TP VOL 01 (MR) $14.99
JAN128162 THIEF OF THIEVES #2 VAR CVR 2ND PTG $2.99
FEB120525 THIEF OF THIEVES #3 $2.99

Comics and Magazines from Diamond Distributors for April 11 2012

COMICS

FEB120869 ADVENTURE TIME #3 $3.99

JAN121168 ARISA GN VOL 07 $10.99

NOV111070 AVALON CHRONICLES HC VOL 01 $19.99

JAN121282 BAKUMAN TP VOL 10 $9.99

FEB121001 BASIC INSTRUCTIONS CURSE O/T MASKING TAPE MUMMY GN $14.95

JAN121259 BETTIE PAGE IN DANGER #3 (MR) $9.95

JAN120835 BETTY & VERONICA DOUBLE DIGEST #200 $3.99

DEC110786 BILLY TUCCI A CHILD IS BORN ONE SHOT ARTIST ED $4.99

JAN121011 BIONIC WOMAN #1 $3.99

DEC110767 BIZZARE THRILLS PARAGON PUBLICATIONS STORY TP (MR) $29.95

JAN121283 BLEACH TP VOL 39 $9.99

JAN121256 BLOOD ALONE GN VOL 06 $11.99

JAN121281 BLUE EXORCIST GN VOL 07 $9.99

SEP111121 BODYSNATCHERS #4 (OF 6) $2.99

DEC110779 CAVEWOMAN FEEDING GROUNDS #2 (MR) $3.75

NOV110688 CAVEWOMAN MUTATION #1 $3.75

DEC110780 CAVEWOMAN MUTATION #1 BUDD ROOT SP ED PI

NOV110689 CAVEWOMAN MUTATION #1 DEVON MASSEY SP ED PI

JAN121333 CHARMED TP VOL 03 $15.99

JAN121262 CLINT #15 (MR) $6.99

DEC110896 COMICS SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE ONE SHOT $3.99

JAN121088 COUNTDOWN 7 DAYS GN VOL 02 $12.95

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FEB120783 CROSSED BADLANDS #3 (MR) $3.99

FEB120784 CROSSED BADLANDS #3 TORTURE CVR (MR) $3.99

FEB120785 CROSSED BADLANDS #3 WRAP CVR (MR) $3.99

FEB121294 DARK SHADOWS NOVEL ANGELIQUES DESCENT SC $14.99

FEB121295 DARK SHADOWS NOVEL SALEM BRANCH SC $12.99

JAN121299 DAWN OF THE ARCANA TP VOL 03 $9.99

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Monday, April 9, 2012

I Reads You Review: AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #0

"Without a bang"

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #0
MARVEL COMICS

WRITERS: Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron
ARTIST: Frank Cho
COLORS: Jason Keith
LETTERS: Chris Eliopoulos
COVERS: Frank Cho with Jason Keith; Stephanie Hans (alternate cover)
40pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.

Rated: T+

Avengers vs. X-Men is Marvel Comics’ current giant, crossover, event series. I’ve read comments on the old Interweb that suggest Avengers vs. X-Men will be Marvel’s biggest publishing event in over a decade, at least from the point of view of sales.

I am sure that it will be a big thing. This planned 12-issue miniseries pits the Avengers and the X-Men against each other, apparently over The Phoenix. The X-Men are a sales and merchandising juggernaut for Marvel, and the franchise has produced five successful films for 20th Century Fox. The Avengers are a little less than a month away from their debut on the big screen, when the film, Marvel’s The Avengers, arrives. Two Iron Man movies have a combined gross of over one billion dollars in worldwide box office. In 2011, two other Avengers films, Thor and Captain America, each made more than 170 million dollars in domestic box office.

Avengers vs. X-Men #0 is a prologue to the main event and focuses on Avenger, Scarlet Witch, and X-Man, Hope Summers, and blends two separate stories starring each character. In the Scarlet Witch story (written by Brian Michael Bendis), the reality-warping mutant and long-time member of the Avengers hopes to get back into the superhero business. She takes on M.O.D.O.K., but ends up needing help from Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel. This reunion leads to a bigger reunion, but perhaps, the Scarlet Witch can’t go home again.

In the Hope Summers story (written by Jason Aaron), the young woman called the “mutant messiah,” feels confined by others’ expectations of her. Hope spends her time ruthlessly punishing non-super-powered criminals, but now, she faces the Serpent Society.

For a prologue to a big, big event, Avengers vs. X-Men #0 is surprisingly blasé. The Avengers come across as stock figures in their appearance here, except for The Vision and the Scarlet Witch. This duo is where the fire is in this story, but the constraints forced upon the story smother the fire. The Hope Summers story is only a tad bit better – if it is actually appropriate for me to use the word “better” to describe this comic book. The other characters are wooden, and Hope is petulant, but in a totally boring king of way.

The art by Frank Cho is technically well-drawn, but looks like a mechanical exercise that at least 20 other robo-artists-for-hire could have done in the same drawing style and with the same lack of panache.

I hope issue #1 is better, and I’ll find out soon.

C+

Appearances:
HEROES: Scarlet Witch, Hope Summers; The Avengers: Beast, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, Thor, The Vision, Wolverine; The X-Men: Cyclops, Emma Frost

VILLAINS: M.O.D.O.K.; The Serpent Society: Anaconda, Asp, Bushmaster, Cottonmouth, Puff Adder