Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
IDW PUBLISHING – @IDWPublishing
WRITER: Roger Langridge
ARTIST: J Bone
COLORS: Jordie Bellaire
LETTERS: Tom B. Long
EDITOR: Scott Dunbier
COVER: Walter Simonson with Jordie Bellaire – regular cover
ALTERNATE COVERS: Walter Simonson – Cover RI; Roger Langridge and J Bone with Jordie Bellaire – subscription cover; Roger Langridge and J Bone – Comics Pro Retailer Exclusive Cover; and James White – Strange Adventures Retailer Exclusive Cover
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.
The Rocketeer created by Dave Stevens
The Rocketeer vs. Hollywood Horror, Part 1
The latest Rocketeer comic book is The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror. The four-issue miniseries is written by cartoonist Roger Langridge and drawn by artist J Bone.
Created by the late artist and illustrator, Dave Stevens, The Rocketeer is Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious rocket backpack that allows him to fly. Donning the backpack and a metal helmet, Secord becomes the adventurer and masked crime-fighter, The Rocketeer. His adventures begin in 1938 and continue into the 1940s (for the time being). Most of his activities occur mainly in and around Los Angeles.
The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #1 opens in the year 1939 with the usual; Cliff is late for a date with his girlfriend, Betty Page (if “Page” is still her last name). Soon, Betty will need Cliff as the Rocketeer. Her roommate, newspaper reporter, Dahlia Danvers, has gotten herself into something deep, and this deep means trouble.
Everyone seems to be talking about a missing scientist, Augie Lowcroft. Cliff’s friend and partner, Peevy, an ace airplane mechanic, just so happens to be acquainted Lowcroft. Also crawling around this case is Reverend Otto Rune, some kind of impresario/mystic, and a mysterious couple with a penchant for detecting.
Coming on the heels of the most excellent The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom, The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror is a change-of-pace for the franchise. Whereas Cargo of Doom was like an old Hollywood movie serial from the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood Horror is a snappy comic adventure. Part screwball comedy and a whole lot of tongue-in-cheek, this looks like it will offer some B-movie, science fiction, monster fun.
Honestly, I don’t love The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror the way I did Cargo of Doom. In this first issue, J Bone’s art seems like a near-cubist take on Bruce Timm’s graphic style. I usually like Bone’s work, but this is hit or miss for me. It took me until the end of Chapter One to buy into Roger Langridge’s jesting take on The Rocketeer. If this is the tone of the book, then, Walter Simonson isn’t the appropriate cover artist for Hollywood Horror.
This isn’t really The Rocketeer the way Dave Stevens did it, which other creators have tried to emulate. Hollywood Horror could turn out to be really good, though, so I’ll keep reading.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Friday, March 29, 2013
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia
CARTOONIST: Takehiko Inoue
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Yuji Oniki
LETTERS: Steve Dutro
COVER: Takehiko Inoue and Izumi Evers
ISBN: 978-1-4215-4930-9; paperback (March 2013), Rated “M” for “Mature”
200pp, B&W with some color, $9.95 U.S. $12.99 CAN
When it comes to samurai and chanbara, the historical manga, Vagabond, is the comic book to read. Vagabond is published in North America by VIZ Media under their VIZ Signature imprint.
Vagabond, created by the acclaimed Takehiko Inoue (Slam Dunk), is based on Eiji Yoshikawa’s 1935 novel, Musashi. Both the novel and the manga present a fictionalized account of the life of Miyamoto Musashi, perhaps the most celebrated samurai of all time. He was a swordsman, duelist, and author (The Book of Five Rings), who lived from the late 16th century to the mid 17th century. In Vagabond, Musashi strives for enlightenment by way of the sword and is prepared to cut down anyone who stands in his way.
As Vagabond, Vol. 34 (Chapters 297 to 303) opens, Sasaki Kojirō, the deaf and mute swordsman prodigy, finds himself gaining a new position. He becomes a sword instructor for the powerful Hosokawa Clan in Bozen Kokura, the family’s home. That makes him the fifth instructor, and some in the clan believe one of the five must be relieved of his duties. That pits Kojirō against the eldest instructor, Ujiie Magoshiro and Kaede, the smelly instructor. Meanwhile, Kojirō bonds with Doryū, the devil horse that belongs to clan leader, Hosaokawa Tadatoshi.
Meanwhile, Musashi faces the remnants of the Yoshioka School, which he single-handedly destroyed. As he confronts nature and existence deep in the forest, Musashi meets a rather strange boy named Iori.
One of the truly fantastic manga reads is the Vagabond manga, which is also one of the few comic books being published today that can accurately be described as magnificent. Vagabond is also somewhat miraculous, as it leaves me speechless. During and after reading it, I suddenly forget most of the words I need in order to describe just how good Vagabond is.
So let me say, it’s supa-dupa good. The art is a symphony of lush brushwork, intricate inking, precision line work, and lovely layers of toning. This is museum quality artwork.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Thursday, March 28, 2013
W.W. NORTON & COMPANY, INC. – @norton_fiction
WRITER: James Vance – @authorjvance
ARTIST: Dan E. Burr
LETTERS/HALFTONES: Debbie Freiberg
COVER: Dan E. Burr
ISBN: 978-0393-06220-5; hardcover (March 2013)
258pp, B&W, $24.95 U.S., $26.50 CAN
James Vance is a comic book writer who has written for comic books such as The Crow and The Spirit. Dan E. Burr is an illustrator who has drawn comics for DC Comics’ Big Book Series. Together, Vance and Burr are pioneers of the American graphic novel because a particular work that was first published in 1988.
On the Ropes: A Novel is a 2013 hardcover, original graphic novel from James Vance and Dan E. Burr. It is the follow-up to their Kings in Disguise, a graphic novel that was originally serialized as a six-issue comic book miniseries and published in 1988 by Kitchen Sink Press. Kings in Disguise was a highly acclaimed comic book. At the time of its first publication, it drew praise from such comic book luminaries as Alan Moore, Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman and Art Spiegelman. It won a Harvey Award and two Eisner Awards.
Set during the Great Depression, Kings in Disguise was the story of 13-year-old Manfred “Freddie” Bloch, a Jewish boy from the fictional town of Marian, California. Freddie and his older brother, Al, are abandoned by their father, a widower who can no longer support his family. In 1932, Freddie takes to the rails – traveling the country by train as a hobo – where he meets Sammy. Calling himself “the King of Spain,” Sammy is a sickly, older hobo who takes Freddie under his wing. Together, they travel through a scarred America, searching for Freddie's father.
On the Ropes opens in 1937, some five years after Freddie Bloch left home. Now 17, Freddie works in a traveling WPA circus. He is apprenticed to the circus’ star attraction, the escape artist, Gordon Corey. The act, called “Gordon Corey Escapes,” is a hangman’s illusion that plays it dangerously close to the edge.
After surviving the Detroit labor riots and violent anti-Communist mobs, Freddie has found home and has even befriended Eileen Finnerty, a gracious young woman who works at the circus. Could she become Freddie’s girlfriend? Before he started working for the circus, Freddie discovered that he has a talent for writing. Thus, he finds a kindred spirit, of sorts, in Barbara Woodruff, a WPA guide book writer who is interested in Gordon’s life story. In her own acerbic way, Woodruff nurtures Freddie’s talent.
Freddie also has a double life. He has joined the Workers Brigade, and he moonlights as a delivery boy for the different groups of workers trying to secretly coordinate their countrywide strikes. As “Jim Nolan,” Freddie receives and sends out secret letters as he travels with the circus. Freddie does not know that Virgil and Chase, two murderous union busters, are trying to find out who the “mailman” is.
Gordon sees that Freddie is playing a dangerous game, and although he is jaded and tired, Gordon wants to see his young assistant make something of himself. Both Freddie and Gordon, however, are haunted by the tragic past, which causes friction between the two. Each man can save the other or bring about their mutual destruction.
I will certainly be among the many reviewers and critics voicing great praise for On the Ropes. In the last decade or so, I have read few comic books that I felt in my heart as I read them. On the Ropes is one of those books. By the end of the year, On the Ropes will likely still be the best comic book or graphic novel of 2013; it will take a miracle for there to be a comic book that knocks On the Ropes off its perch.
James Vance’s story is unflinchingly human, telling a story that captures humankind both in stark contrasts and in perplexing shades of gray. The characters are basically stock characters, but Vance imbues them with humanity. Combine that with the intricacies of the narrative and with the various plot twists and these characters are largely unknowable, but have intriguing quantities that make them worth the effort to know. Vance delves so deeply into plot, setting, and character that his comic book script is more like a novel than a comic book script.
Dan E. Burr’s art is so earnest and heartfelt that it wrings the humanity out of Vance’s story. His compositions are painterly and reminded me of American art movements like American regionalism, social realism, and the Ashcan School. Thus, Burr’s graphical storytelling has more than twice the narrative heft than many of the best graphic novels of the last 30 years.
On the Ropes has a straightforward plot, and past and present are seamless in the way they move the story towards its conclusion. There is such complexity in this graphic novel that the entire time I read it, I thought of On the Ropes as a novel and not as a comic book (not saying comic books are junk).
Of course, the title, On the Ropes, is both literal and figurative. Vance and Burr take on the social and political turmoil of the Great Depression in ways that are intensely poignant and heartrending, but also ardently involved. Vance and Burr aren’t sitting on the sidelines, being dispassionate in recounting the past.
They have turned American history into great drama. This is a hypnotic account of who we were and where we came from that shows us who we are now and why we are where we are. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, time is neutral. Then, On the Ropes is not only a timeless masterpiece, but it is also quite timely, especially if you’ve been paying attention to where we are now.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
DARK HORSE COMICS – @DarkHorseComics
STORY: Mike Mignola, Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon
ART: Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon
COLORS: Dave Stewart
LETTERS: Clem Robins
COVER: Fábio Moon
28pp, Color, $3.50 (March 2013)
Mike Mignola, Gabriel Bá, and Fábio Moon unleash a hellish side story to the main B.P.R.D. comic book series. It is entitled B.P.R.D.: Vampire.
In the world of the Hellboy comic book series, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (the B.P.R.D. or BPRD) protects America and the rest of the world from the occult, the paranormal, and the supernatural. The B.P.R.D. first appeared in the debut Hellboy comic book miniseries, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction (1994). The Bureau received its own title with B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth (2002).
B.P.R.D.: Vampire is a direct sequel to the previous series, B.P.R.D.: 1948. The new five issue miniseries follows an apparently doomed agent’s quest for revenge against a clan of vampires and its queen.
It is the year 1948. B.P.R.D.: Vampire #1 opens as a trio of vampires enjoys the last of a feast of (alleged or apparent) virgins. Is this a dream or a memory?
In Fairfield, Connecticut at BPRD headquarters, Agent Simon Anders informs Professor Trevor Bruttenholm that he is leaving the organization. Not sure of what he is becoming, Anders begins his quest for revenge against a particular group of vampires and their Gorgon-eyed queen, Hecate. But first, he will have to find them.
It has been at least two years (if not more) since I last read a B.P.R.D. comic book. B.P.R.D.: Vampire is a helluva comic book in which to return to the series. The basic plot, by Mike Mignola, Gabriel Bá, and Fábio Moon, is straightforward and simple.
The actual comic book story, as told through art and graphics (which I often call graphical storytelling), is as emotional, psychological, and figurative as it is linear or even literal. Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon offer some stunning images and striking sequences of images. This story is going to be a good read, but the graphics side of this is going to be hella good read.
Fans of Hellboy will want to try at least one issue of B.P.R.D.: Vampire, enough to get hooked.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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Monday, March 25, 2013
DARK HORSE COMICS – @DarkHorseComics
STORY: Dennis Hopeless and Mike Norton
SCRIPT: Dennis Hopeless
ART/COVER: Mike Norton
COLORS: Mark Englert
PIN-UP: Francesco Francavilla with Dominic Marco
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (March 2013)
Part 3 of 4
We get closer to the Answer in the latest issue of The Answer!
Created by writer Dennis Hopeless (Avengers Arena) and artist Mike Norton (Battlepug), The Answer! is a four-issue comic book miniseries. The series follows Devin McKenzie, a research librarian, and The Answer!, an odd, masked crime fighter with a giant exclamation point on his face mask, both of whom are embroiled in a conspiracy surrounding a mysterious motivational speaker.
As The Answer! #3 opens, Devin McKenzie is living out her dream at the Brain Trust. She’s eating her favorite foods, and all she has to do all day is think big thoughts. High on “brain boost,” she doesn’t have a care in the world, but fellow thinker, Kara, is about to rock Devin’s comfortable world. And what is the Anaximander Codex?
Meanwhile, the Answer is stuck in a nuthouse nightmare. Strapped do a gurney and in a hospital gown, the strange superhero finds himself in a predicament. When he tries to escape, the hero ends up with his ass hanging out and a chemical in his brain that disconnects his central nervous system. Devin and the Answer will have to wake up and work together if they are going to unravel the mysteries of the Brain Trust.
After the novelty of the first issue of The Answer! wore off for me with the second issue, The Answer! #3 makes me say that the thrill is not gone. Mystery, eccentric characters, by-the-skin-of-their-teeth escapes, and fisticuffs – all with a humorous bent – are what this series does well. There are more revelations, and less of the coy act the second issue put on. The killer ending here prepares the way for what will likely be a good end. Read this series.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia
CARTOONIST: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
ORGINAL CONCEPT: khara GAINAX
TRANSLATION: Lillian Olsen, William Flanagan, David Ury
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Fred Burke, Carl Gustav Horn
LETTERING: Wayne Truman, John Clark
EDITORS: Megan Bates, Carl Gustav Horn
ISBN: 978-1-4215-5305-4; paperback (March 2013); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
572pp, B&W, $19.99 U.S., $22.99 CAN, £12.99 UK
The anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion, first aired on Japanese television in late 1995. The manga adaptation of the anime, also entitled Neon Genesis Evangelion, actually debuted in 1994. VIZ Media is publishing single-volume Neon Genesis Evangelion graphic novels and is reprinting the series in 3-in-1 editions, which gather three graphic novels in one large-sized, single volume.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is the story of humans at war with hostile beings called Angels. The human side of the conflict is led by NERV, a paramilitary organization. NERV created giant biomechanical units (or mecha) called Evangelions (also known as EVA or Evas) that are piloted by teenagers. The lead character is 14-year-old Shinji Ikari, EVA “Unit-01” pilot, who is also known as the “Third Child.”
Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 Edition, Vol. 2 (Chapters 20 to 40) reprints Neon Genesis Evangelion, Volumes 4 to 6. In Volume 4, Asuka Langley Soryu (the “Second Child”), the EVA Unit-02 pilot, comes to the fore. The golden-red-haired teen is dismissive of Shinji. When they meet a powerful Angel with a surprising ability, Shinji and Asuka must learn to work together. That training will bring them closer than they ever wanted to be.
In Volume 5, roommates Shinji and Misato Katsuragi, the 29-year-old NERV operations chief, get a new roommate. Shinji confronts his father, 48-year-old Gendo Ikari, the Supreme Commander of NERV, at this mother’s grave. Misato also discovers secrets about Ryoji Kaji and his loyalties.
In Volume 6, meet 14-year-old Rei Ayanami, the “First Child” and EVA Unit-00 pilot. Wait; you’ve already met her… Shinji’s pal, Toji Suzuhara, has an admirer. Also, NERV recruits the “Fourth Child,” who receives a baptism by fire.
Having never seen Neon Genesis Evangelion the anime, I was curious to read Neon Genesis Evangelion the manga, once I learned that it existed. The more I read the manga, the more I liked it. I would suggest that readers start at the beginning with these 3-in-1 editions. I started reading Neon Genesis Evangelion with Volumes 12 and 13 of the graphic novel series. They were enjoyable, but I was somewhat lost.
The early chapters of Neon Genesis Evangelion the manga are simple and straight forward. They develop slowly, and author Yoshiyuki Sadamoto allows the reader to get to know the characters – some more than others, but always enough to tell the story or to entice the reader to keep reading to learn more.
Shinji Ikari is the vehicle through which we are introduced into the world of NERV and the Evangelions. Shinji starts off a bit soft and unfocused for a lead. By Vol. 4, Sadamoto has fleshed out Shinji, so the moody, sad boy has developed a playful side and even becomes more forceful. Why am I writing about a character and not about the giant robot battles – because I want more of the characters than I want of the giant robots, which are cool, though.
Readers looking for classic mecha must look for Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 Edition.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Friday, March 22, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Reviewed by Albert Avilla
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Jamie McKelvie with Mike Norton
The story opens up with Kate Bishop waking up the morning after a hook-up with Noh-Varr. Then, the Skrulls attack. Hulkling is running around New York, posing as Spider-Man to fight crime. Another hook-up, this time it’s Hulking and Wiccan. After a heartfelt conversation about being superheroes, Wiccan does a little magic to help Hulkling.
At the local diner, Loki gets a warning from his food. He tries to stop Wiccan, but is interrupted by Miss America. Loki escapes when Hulkling bursts on to the scene. Miss America exits without as much as a word with Hulkling. Wiccan’s surprise for Hulkling is an alternate reality mother. Just what we need, another Skrull. Didn’t we just rid our planet of those filthy aliens? Hulkling’s mother doesn’t agree with Jeff and Rebecca’s parenting; she thinks that she knows better. She calmly disagrees with them, and then, she liquefies their bodies.
This comic book definitely has style, not so much substance. For a first issue, it didn’t get me interested in finding out how the story was going to end. Is this the first time that a member of a superhero team becomes a member through a one-night stand? There are a lot of things going on. Gillen throws us right into the thick of things. I enjoyed the frenetic pace of the action scenes.
Noh-Varr is an interesting character. Hawkeye apparently is a swashbuckler. Let’s hope that there is some semblance of responsibility in her approach to life. We know what we get with Hulkling and Wiccan. Why is Loki on an Avengers team? He is the evil that the original Avengers banded together to defeat. Miss America is the mystery character. Is she just a powerhouse? Does she have a connection with the original Miss America? Why boots with shorts and a jacket? Does she have a connection to the original Miss America?
The art is good comic book art, nothing to complain about, nothing to go on about. I did like how the artists handled the action scenes.
I rated Young Avengers #1 “Read a Friend’s Copy.” #3 (of 5) on the Al-O-Meter
by Gilbert Hernandez
104-page black& white 7.5" x 10.75" hardcover • $19.99
In-store date: March 2013 (subject to change)
It begins in the year 1900, with the scream of a newborn. It ends, 100 pages later, in the year 2000, with the death rattle of a 100-year-old man. The infant and the old man are both Julio, and Gilbert Hernandez’s Julio’s Day (originally serialized in Love and Rockets Vol. II but never completed until now) is his latest graphic novel, a masterpiece of elliptical, emotional storytelling that traces one life — indeed, one century in a human life — through a series of carefully crafted, consistently surprising and enthralling vignettes.
There is hope and joy, there is bullying and grief, there is war (so much war — this is after all the 20th century), there is love, there is heartbreak. While Julio’s Day has some settings and elements in common with Hernandez’s Palomar cycle (the Central American protagonists and milieu, the vivid characters, the strong familial and social ties), this is a very much a singular, standalone story that will help cement his position as one of the strongest and most original cartoonists of this, or any other, century.
"Julio's Day is a story of one man's life, but it's a great deal more than that as well. It's the story of the life of a century, also told as if a day. Beginning with Julio's birth in 1900 and ending with his death in 2000, the graphic novel touches on most of the major events that shaped the 20th century." – Brian Evenson, from his introduction
"A haunting performance and about as perfect a literary work as I've read in years. Hernandez accomplishes in 100 pages what most novelists only dream of — rendering the closeted phlegmatic Julio in all his confounding complexity and in the process creating an unflinching biography of a community, a country and a century. A masterpiece." – Junot Díaz
ABOUT THE CARTOONIST: Gilbert Hernandez has been enrapturing readers with his Love and Rockets stories for over 30 years. He lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife and daughter.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Reviewed by Albert Avilla
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Will Sliney
Cover: Mark Brooks
Variant Covers: Milo Manara; Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo; Skottie Young
The cover was really awesome. That’s what having a great cover is about; it gets your expectations up. The interior of the book did not meet those expectations.
The Defenders have always had trouble attracting readers, and this issue will not do any better. This kind of story could squeak by once the series had established itself. I’m not familiar with Mr. Bunn’s work, so I don’t know if this is leading into a great climax or if this is par for the course. If it’s par for the course, then, I am keeping my money. I like mystery, but too much mystery leaves the reader in the dark.
A first issue should pull you in and build up your expectations. This story made me nostalgic for Indiana Jones movies. Archeology has been the basis for a lot of good comic book stories. My question is where is the evil god behind the artifact that Misty acquired? Give us an awesome villain to look forward to seeing.
Marvel NOW gets a “Marvel scowl” for this venture. Valkyrie and Misty Knight really look cool on the cover. Let’s hope that Mr. Bunn can convert that coolness into good stories.
The interior art didn’t give any more than the writing. It was average comic book art.
I rate The Fearless Defenders #1 “Read a Friend’s Copy.” #3 (of 5) on Al-O-Meter
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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Monday, March 18, 2013
Sunday, March 17, 2013
HARPER (HarperCollins Publishers) – @HarperCollins
AUTHOR: James Grippando
ISBN: 978-0-06-210984-2; hardcover (January 2013)
342pp, B&W, $26.99 U.S.
James Grippando is an American author and trial lawyer. He is known for writing suspense novels in the crime fiction genre, including legal thrillers, apparently drawing upon his experiences as an attorney.
Blood Money is Grippando’s latest book. A 2013 crime fiction novel, Blood Money is also the tenth novel featuring Grippando’s Miami-based, criminal defense attorney, Jack Swyteck. I took a review copy of Blood Money from Harper on a lark. Thank you, Mr. Lark. I have no regrets because Blood Money is a hugely-entertaining read.
Blood Money begins with the most sensational murder trial since O.J. Simpson. Sydney Bennett, sexy night club waitress and good-time girl, was charged with the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Emma Bennett. Three years after the drama began, Sydney is found not guilty. Millions of “TV jurors” had already convicted Sydney in the courtroom of public opinion. Now, the shocking “not guilty” verdict has them out for Sydney’s blood.
And some of that rage and vitriol has been reserved for her attorney, Jack Swyteck, who never really wanted to take Sydney’s case and basically had it fall in his lap. Jack is ready to ride out the verdict’s fallout, which includes angry, profanity-laced phone calls and even death threats. However, the cable news network, BNN (Breaking New Network), leads a flurry of media-fed rumors, claiming “blood money” in the form of seven-figure book and movie deals. The craziness explodes in an incident that puts a young college student, Celeste Laramore, in a coma.
The media blames Jack for what happened to Celeste, but her parents reach out to him for help. Others reach out for a piece of Jack. Faith Corso, host of BNN’s The Faith Corso Show, targets him. The mysterious Merselus watches Jack’s every move. Jack’s fiancé, FBI agent Andie Henning, wonders if Jack’s case is endangering her career. Jack’s legal career is in jeopardy, and so is everyone he loves. To discover the truth behind Emma Bennett’s murder and what happened to Celeste, Jack has to take on many powerful forces, some hiding in the shadows and others targeting him.
Being a semi-literary snob, I generally avoid novels that compete for space on the various bestsellers’ list and also novels that could be considered “pop fiction.” Plus, I am a science fiction and fantasy fan, so I spend time reading books in those genres. I am glad that I threw aside pretentiousness and some H.P. Lovecraft that I want to read in order to get down into Blood Money.
The term, “page-turner,” was invented to describe great reads like Blood Money. The surprises and twist-and-turns had me flipping through this book as if my life depended on it. I took this book everywhere in order to read at least a few pages while waiting or running errands. There are so many shockers in here that you will either find it too contrived or a sumptuous feast of titillation.
Readers, of course, will recognize Blood Money’s similarities to the Casey Anthony murder trial. Faith Corso bears more than a passing resemblance to tabloid cable news harpy, Nancy Grace, who made both blood money and blood fame, off the Anthony murder trial. BNN, however, is less CNN and more FOX News. Grippando, however, takes Blood Money’s murder case and criminal conspiracies far beyond anything that happened in the real world.
Anyway, for me, Blood Money is the beginning of a beautiful reading-list friendship with James Grippando.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Friday, March 15, 2013
SUBLIME – @SuBLimeManga
CARTOONIST: Suzuki Tanaka
TRANSLATION: Ivana Bloom
LETTERING: Annaliese Christman
COVER: Suzuki Tanaka and Fawn Lau
EDITOR: Alexis Kirsch
ISBN: 978-1-4215-4357-4; paperback (March 2013); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
178pp, B&W, $12.99 U.S., $14.99 CAN, £8.99 UK
Suzuki Tanaka, the creator of Love Hurts, also produced the boys’ love manga series, His Favorite. Boy’s love (also known by the acronym, BL) depicts romantic relationships between male characters. His Favorite can be classified as “shounen-ai,” the subset of BL that does not feature explicit depictions of sex between male characters.
His Favorite Volume 3 (Chapters 8 to 12) focuses on Yoshida, an awkward high school student, and Sato, the hottest guy in school. Sato is in love with Yoshida, but the latter things the former wants to play around too much and is not really serious about anything, especially love. Meanwhile, all the girls in school are crazy about Sato, and they think that Sato and Yoshida are just really close friends. That’s why they insist that Yoshida help them get closer to Sato.
Yoshida and Sato’s classmates, Yamanaka and Torachin, are in a similar predicament. Torachin’s frequent fights have left him with a bruised, unattractive face, which scares the girls – sometimes to tears. Yamanaka thinks Torachin is just right, but Torachin doesn’t think that Yamanaka is ever serious – about anything.
As boys’ love manga goes, His Favorite is tame. It doesn’t even have the heat of the more complicated shojo teen romances (such as a Honey Hunt). Instead, it is deliberately, almost stubbornly playful. Creator Suzuki Tanaka offers comedy and slapstick; there are misunderstandings and kissing.
Sex is far way and talked about as something that will, should, or even might happen, but does not happen in the text or seemingly even “off camera.” The characters are funny in how clueless they are, or perhaps, they are not clueless. It is a peculiar kind of tunnel vision from which they suffer… maybe.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Thursday, March 14, 2013
ONLINE VOTING NOW AVAILABLE!
NOMINATION BALLOTS DUE MAY 6!
BALTIMORE, MD (March 13, 2013) -- The Executive Committees of the Harvey Awards and the Baltimore Comic-Con are proud to present the official Nomination Ballot for this year's Harvey Awards, honoring work published in the 2012 calendar year. Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, one of the industry's most innovative talents, the Harvey Awards recognize outstanding work in comics and sequential art. The 26th Annual Harvey Awards will be presented Saturday, September 7th, 2013 as part of the Baltimore Comic-Con.
For the first time, Harvey Awards nomination ballots may be submitted using an online form. If you are a comics professional, you can vote online at harveyawards.org/2013-nomination-ballot/. This will enable an easier and faster method for the professional community to submit their nominees! Ballots are due for submission by Monday, May 6th, 2013.
Additionally, if voters would prefer, ballots may be downloaded from the same page, completed, and sent via postal mail or e-mail. All methods of submission are permitted.
Nominations for the Harvey Awards are selected exclusively by creators - those who write, draw, ink, letter, color, design, edit, or are otherwise involved in a creative capacity in the comics field. The Harvey Awards are the only industry awards both nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals.
In addition to being available on the website, ballots will be sent to all major publishers and distributed at comic conventions. We look forward to your participation and input in this process, and we look forward to seeing you at the Baltimore Comic-Con and the Harvey Awards.
The Harveys would not be possible without the generous sponsors of the Awards. Sponsors for the last year's 2012 Harvey Awards included The Baltimore Comic-Con, Boom! Studios, Captain Bluehen Comics, Cards, Comics and Collectibles, ComicMix, ComicWOW!, ComiXology, DC Entertainment, Geppis's Entertainment Museum, Insight Studios Group, Painted Visions Comics, Cards, & Games, Richmond Comix and Games, Steve Conley's Bloop, and Write Brothers Inc.
Companies and individuals interested in sponsoring the 2013 Harvey Awards may do so by contacting us at email@example.com.
This year's Baltimore Comic-Con will be held September 7-8, 2013. The ceremony and banquet for the Harvey Awards will be held Saturday night, September 8th. Additional details about the Harvey Awards and the awards ceremony will be released over the next few months.
About The Harvey Awards
The Harvey Awards are one of the comic book industry's oldest and most respected awards. With a history of over 26 years, the last 8 in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in 22 categories. They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals. For more information, please visit www.harveyawards.org
About The Baltimore Comic-Con
The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 14th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. With a guest list unequaled in the industry, the Baltimore Comic-Con will be held September 7-8, 2013. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.
The Harvey Awards are awards given for achievement in comic books. The Harvey Award is named for the late comics writer-artist, editor, and publisher, Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993). Gary Groth, president of the publisher Fantagraphics, founded the Harvey Awards as part of a successor to the Kirby Awards, which were discontinued after 1987, the other being successor being the Eisner Awards.
The Harvey Awards are nominated by an open vote among comic-book professionals. The winners are selected from the top five nominees in each category by a final round of voting.
Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand was named “Best Original Graphic Album” and “Best Single Issue or Story” at the 25th Annual Harvey Awards.
The 25th Annual Harvey Awards were held Saturday, September 8, 2012 at the 2012 Baltimore Comic-Con. Actor and comedian, Phil LaMarr was the host.
2012 Harvey Award winners:
BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC ALBUM - “JIM HENSON’S TALE OF SAND”, published by Archaia Entertainment
BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES - “DAREDEVIL” published by Marvel Comics
BEST SINGLE ISSUE OR STORY - “JIM HENSON’S TALE OF SAND” published by Archaia Entertainment
BEST NEW SERIES - “DAREDEVIL” published by Marvel Comics
BEST WRITER - Mark Waid for “DAREDEVIL” published by Marvel Comics
BEST ARTIST - J. H. Williams for “BATWOMAN” published by DC Comics
BEST CARTOONIST - Kate Beaton for “HARK! A VAGRANT”, harkavagrant.com; printed edition published by Drawn and Quarterly
BEST LETTERER - Chris Eliopoulos for “FEAR ITSELF” published by Marvel Comics
BEST COLORIST - Dave Stewart for “HELLBOY: THE FURY” published by Dark Horse Comics
BEST SYNDICATED STRIP - “CUL DE SAC”, by Richard Thompson, syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate
BEST ONLINE COMICS WORK - “HARK! A VAGRANT”, by Kate Beaton, harkavagrant.com; print edition published by Drawn and Quarterly
BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL - “THE MANARA LIBRARY, VOLUME 1: INDIAN SUMMER AND OTHER STORIES” published by Dark Horse Comics
BEST INKER - Joe Rivera for “DAREDEVIL” published by Marvel Comics
MOST PROMISING NEW TALENT - Sara Pichelli, for “ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN”, published by Marvel Comics
SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR IN COMICS - Kate Beaton for “HARK! A VAGRANT” harkavagrant.com; printed edition published by Drawn and Quarterly
BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC PUBLICATION FOR YOUNGER READERS - “ANYA’S GHOST” published by First Second
BEST ANTHOLOGY - “DARK HORSE PRESENTS” published by Dark Horse Comics
BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT - “WALT SIMONSON’S THE MIGHTY THOR, ARTIST’S EDITION” published by IDW
BEST COVER ARTIST - J. H. WILLIAMS for “BATWOMAN” published by DC Comics
SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION - “WALT SIMONSON’S THE MIGHTY THOR, ARTIST’S EDITION” published by IDW
BEST BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL OR JOURNALISTIC PRESENTATION – “GENIUS ISOLATED: THE LIFE AND ART OF ALEX TOTH” published by IDW
BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED – “THE DEATH RAY” published by Drawn and Quarterly
DARK HORSE COMICS – @DarkHorseComics
CREATOR: Mike Mignola
STORY: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
ART: Jason Latour
COLORS: Dave Stewart
LETTERS: Clem Robins
COVER: Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart
28pp, Color, $3.50 U.S. (March 2013)
Part 1 of 2
Mike Mignola adds to the vast world of Hellboy with Sledgehammer, a new superhero character he created. Think of Sledgehammer as Mignola’s version, spin, or take on Iron Man. Now, the character appears in a new two-issue, comic book micro-series, entitled Sledgehammer 44. The series is written by Mignola and John Arcudi, drawn by Jason Latour, colored by Dave Stewart, and lettered by Clem Robins, with covers by Mignola.
Sledgehammer 44 #1 opens in August 1944 in D’ebene Chiot, France. An American military patrol prepares to take a German armory there, but the Americans are really just support troops. The military is about to launch “Project Epimetheus.” This is Sledgehammer, a man in a suit of iron armor, and he’s ready to fight his way through an army of Nazis and take on their massive war machine.
Call it the Hellboy-verse or the Mignola-verse, but by any name, Dark Horse Comics’ line of Mike Mignola-produced comic books is simply wonderful. In the first issue of Sledgehammer 44, Mignola and Arcudi have produced a cleanly written, straightforward story. Its mix of World War II combat, science fiction, fantastic armor, and menacing robots seems natural. Having supernatural machines battle it out in a French village in 1944 does not seem odd, as if that makes sense in the context of a real world WWII.
The stars of Sledgehammer 44’s creative team are artist Jason Latour and colorist Dave Stewart. Latour produces page after page of eye-poppy graphics, and compositionally, Latour opens up the story in big panels that capture the massiveness and power of Sledgehammer in battle. Stewart, whom I consider to be on the shortlist of truly great modern comic book colorists, makes the art crackle with energy and surge with an electric charge.
Honestly, at just two-issues in length, Sledgehammer 44 should be a one-shot instead of two issues. Latour and Stewart’s art is so robust, however, that the ending of the first issue is a break your eyes and mind will need.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
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Monday, March 11, 2013
STAR WARS #3
DARK HORSE COMICS – @DarkHorseComics
["Star Wars Central" review page is here.]
SCRIPT: Brian Wood
ART: Carlos D’Anda
COLORS: Gabe Eltaeb
LETTERS: Michael Heisler
COVER: Alex Ross
28pp, Color, $2.99 U.S. (March 2013)
“In the Shadow of Yavin” Part Three
All that is old is new again in the new Star Wars comic book series from Dark Horse Comics. Simply entitled Star Wars, it is written by Brian Wood, drawn by Carlos D’Anda, colored by Gabe Eltaeb, and lettered by Michael Heisler, with covers provided by Alex Ross. This Star Wars is set during the time of the original and classic Star Wars films: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.
It destroyed the Galactic Empire’s fearsome space station, the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin, but the Rebel Alliance still must fight off attacks from the Empire. The rebels are also trying to find a new permanent home base and to restock supplies and armaments. Princess Leia Organa has formed a secret squadron of stealth X-wings to help find a new rebel base and also to help expose a spy within the Rebellion’s ranks
As Star Wars #3 opens, Darth Vader begins his new assignment in the Endor System, managing the building of a second Death Star. The Sith Lord, however, chafes under this demotion, handed down by Emperor Palpatine for Vader’s failure at Yavin.
Han Solo and his first mate, Chewbacca, continue their secret mission for Mon Mothma, leader of the Alliance. The two pirates land on the imperial center of Coruscant, where they await a meeting with a contact who can sell them the supplies that the Rebel Alliance so badly needs. Meanwhile, Leia confronts a troublesome member of her secret squadron, Flight Officer Luke Skywalker!
Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda are still doing the damn thing. The new Star Wars isn’t a fluke. Issue #3 is as good as the first two issues. The action gets hotter. See Han Solo and Chewbacca in a gun fight! Plus, Wood’s spin on the Luke-Leia relationship is hard to ignore; this may be the most personal drama any Star Wars comic book has ever attempted.
The Force will call readers of Star Wars comics and fans of the original Star Wars trilogy to the new Star Wars.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
Sunday, March 10, 2013
DC Entertainment sees strong February numbers
BookScan numbers up 65 percent from 2012
Digital-to-print series INJUSTICE sells out in comic shops
BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--DC Entertainment (DCE), the largest English-language comic book publisher in the world announced today that JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1, written by the acclaimed Geoff Johns and drawn by superstar artist David Finch, was the best-selling comic book to specialty retailers in February 2013, according to information provided by Diamond Comic Distributors. This caps off a hugely successful month for DCE – with robust sales coming via comic retail, book trade and digital channels.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1 launched in February with a cover featuring the U.S. flag along with 52 variant covers, one for every state plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. DC Comics is currently sold out of 14 state covers, the digital combo pack and the collector’s bundles containing all the covers.
On the bookstore side, February saw DCE publish 15 out of the top 50 titles according to Nielsen Bookscan. Additionally, overall February book trade sales were strong, up 65 percent from last year. Notable sellers include: BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE OWLS, FABLES: CUBS IN TOYLAND Vol. 18 and JUSTICE LEAGUE Vol. 2.
On the digital comics front INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US, the weekly digital-first comic based on the upcoming video game from Warner Bros. Interactive, continues to dominate the charts, selling four out of the top five digital books for the month and seven out of the top 10. BATMAN INC. #8, BATMAN #17 and JUSTICE LEAGUE #17 were also top sellers.
“February was a tremendous month for DC Entertainment, and the numbers show that fans are engaging with our stories across all platforms – from digital to retail,” said Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment. “We had a record-breaking 2012 in terms of sales, critical acclaim and visibility, including a near 50 percent increase in fan reach through our websites. Last year also represented our first full year of support and commitment to We Can Be Heroes, our philanthropic initiative to raise funds and awareness for the famine-stricken Horn of Africa. We are incredibly proud of where the business is and where we are headed in 2013.”
Hitting The New York Times Hardcover Bestseller lists in February, DC Comics titles included JUSTICE LEAGUE Vol. 2 appearing at #1, WONDER WOMAN Vol. 2, BATWOMAN Vol. 2, GREEN LANTERN: REVENGE OF THE BLACK HAND, BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS, Vertigo’s THE BOOKS OF MAGIC: DELUXE EDITION, and backlist favorites like BATMAN THE KILLING JOKE and ABSOLUTE BATMAN & ROBIN: BATMAN REBORN.
While over on The New York Times Paperback Bestsellers lists Vertigo’s FABLES vol. 18 arrived on the list at #1 and DC Comics JUSTICE LEAGUE vol. 1, SUICIDE SQUAD Vol. 2 and backlist favorite WATCHMEN all made appearances in February.
Earlier this month, DC Entertainment was acknowledged as the recipient of several Gem Awards including Comic Book Publisher of the Year, Backlist Publisher of the Year and Toy Manufacturer of the Year for 2012 for DC Collectibles. Notably, DC Collectibles spotlighted the We Can Be Heroes initiative with their We Can Be Heroes Justice League 7-Pack, which saw 10 percent of proceeds go to providing relief for the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. The Gem Awards are recognized within the comic book industry as the pinnacle of sales achievement from Diamond Comic Distributors, the world's largest distributor of comics, graphic novels and pop culture merchandise.
The print comic book version of INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US #2 went back to press for a second printing, while over at DC Comics’ mature readers imprint Vertigo, DJANGO UNCHAINED #1, based on the Academy Award-winning Best Original Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, went back to press for a third printing.
About DC Entertainment:
DC Entertainment, home to iconic brands DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash), Vertigo (Sandman, Fables) and MAD, is the creative division charged with strategically integrating its content across Warner Bros. Entertainment and Time Warner. DC Entertainment works in concert with many key Warner Bros. divisions to unleash its stories and characters across all media, including but not limited to film, television, consumer products, home entertainment and interactive games. Publishing thousands of comic books, graphic novels and magazines each year, DC Entertainment is the largest English-language publisher of comics in the world. In January 2012, DC Entertainment, in collaboration with Warner Bros. and Time Warner divisions, launched We Can Be Heroes—a giving campaign featuring the iconic Justice League super heroes—to raise awareness and funds to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.