Game Tape… End of an era

You may remember that I had some trouble a couple of years back with my comic shop closing. It’s happening again. Essentially with the beginning of the new year, I will become the many that get their books exclusively via an online retailer. Although I’m not sure which. This means a couple of things.

1. I’m scaling back on the books I pull (18 regular titles per month) because shipping costs will be a bitch. This scaling back will also allow for a bit more experimentation in the indie field since my pull list is more fluid and immediately controllable.

2. Game Tape will become a bit less regular and behind the times. I think I can swing every other week…and reviews will always be a week or so behind. It’ll also have to move days…not sure which. We’ll see. In lieu of new weekly books, on the off week’s I’ll do some TPB/GN reviews… or something.

In the mean time, enjoy some reviews of things I’ve read lately.

I’m calling shenanigans Jonathan Hickman and Fantastic Four #601. I sat through 3 nigh-interminable issues of Kree/ Inhuman babble for that resolution? Please tell me this is a small part of a bigger truly awesome plan. This was anti-climactic on the scale of Darth Maul. Is it possible that my Hickmania has been cured?

Nah, I just really hate Marvel space nonsense.

I really enjoyed the interactions between Spidey and a certain hot-head. I also giggled at the p’wning of Annihilus.

 

I’m quite happy with the way Cobra Civil War wrapped up. The choice of the new Commander was a good one that doesn’t really screw with the status quo too much. It’s the Pepsi choice (the choice of a new generation). On the other hand, Transformers is gone from the pull list. I kept finding myself really uninterested in what was happening.

Finally, I enjoyed the double-sized Batman Incorporated special and Jesse can enjoy it as well because it takes place in the DCU instead of the DCnU. It’s fun and it ends, but it’s the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. It’s also got a sense of closure rather than being a build up to the next part. As usually, well done Mr. Morrison.

Today’s Comics

We’ve been a bit behind what with traveling and the holidays, but we’re ramping back up for 2012 because when the Mayan apolocalypse happens we want to leave a long paper trail.

I guess the last week of the year is always light, but this is probably the lightest week I’ve had all year.  And while I’m pleased with my pull list experiment, I’m glad to see it come to a close this week so I can start picking up titles like FF, Thunderbolts, and…well, nothing DC anymore.

Normally this goes up on Monday before comics actually come out, but since I actually picked up comics today, we get a review of the one book I left with.  Let’s look at this week’s noteworthy titles.

  • FF #13 – Well, FF has been the biggest casualty of my pull list experiment.  I’ve found most issues except for the first two and the last couple of Fantastic Four, so I haven’t gotten the chance to read ANY of these yet.  I’m looking forward to putting this back on my for-real pull list starting next week.
  • SECRET AVENGERS #20 – On the other hand, I’m up to issue 16 on Secret Avengers.  It didn’t do much for me until Warren Ellis took over, and now it pops, backs, and kicks to the face.  A new must-have.
  • TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES MICRO SERIES #2 MICHELANGELO – I’ve seen the old “hero learns 3 seemingly-unrelated things and then uses them all together” trope so many times it bores me to death, and here is no different.  In this Michaelangelo one-shot we get a more in-depth look at my favorite turtle as Mikey infiltrates a gang to steal a rare jewel.  And while the plot itself doesn’t stand out, the comedy does, and there are some real laughs.  Worth reading.

Next week, expect more mainstream titles on my list and some of what I’ve learned.  And that’s it for this week.  What looks good to you?

The LEMUR Gift Guide

Whether you’re scrambling of last minute Christmas, Festivus, or Hanukkah gifts or trying to figure out how to spend gift money, we’ve got some really solid suggestions for that comic book enthusiast in your life.

Collections and Trades

I’m a bit of a history/ science nerd, so I’m going to start by recommending everything published by G.T. Labs. Jim Ottaviani’s graphic novels tend to gravitate toward the people and events around the Manhattan Project, but don’t let that dissuade you. He weaves a good narrative without being dry. He finds the heart in all of the people involved, often taking side trips into interesting anecdotes. As important, he typically has really solid artistic talent backing his stories: Steve Lieber, Gene Colan, Jeff Parker, Colleen Doran, Ramona Fradon, and Guy Davis to name a few. The most recent of G.T. Labs’s releases is a look at the career of that eminently entertaining physicist: Richard Feynman. These are well put together stories even if you’re not that into comics but maybe a fan of science and history.

We’re pretty big fans of Michael Kupperman here, so I was thrilled to get a copy of Mark Twain’s Autobiography (1910-2010), but also a bit concerned.  Kupperman’s writing style is uniquely suited for his cartooning, but I was worried about how it would translate to prose. I need not have worried, though, as his tight prose is as full of madcap ideas as his best cartoons.  Whether it’s working in an ad agency after World War II, shrinking down to ant size with Albert Einstein, or writing mobster porn, Twain’s adventures are guaranteed to be unlike any other book you’ve read.  While I suspect Kupperman’s work won’t mesh with everyone’s sense of humor, if you put this book in the right person’s hands it will be a revelation.

On the topic of Kupperman, Fantagraphics recently released a volume collecting several issues of Tales Designed to Thrizzle. Jesse and I have both written on the surreal humor and brilliance of this book. It’s also still pretty easy to get your hands on the Kupperman’s first collection of strips Snake ‘n Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret.

In addition to this awesomeness, Fantagraphics has also been releasing some great collections of newspaper comic strips. Personally, I can recommend the two volumes of Mickey Mouse as well as all of the Dick Tracy. They’ve also got Bloom County, Peanuts, Little Orphan Annie, and Walt Kelley’s Pogo. These are well put together hardbacks that are designed to display the strips as they would have appeared in the papers.

It’s not new at this point, but since Watchmen makes every list and I’ve just finished rereading it, I’ve got Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics fresh on my brain.  A treatise on the logic, form, and function of cartoons, I enjoyed it when I read it in college but found even more to appreciate with a little more time and reading under my belt.  This is a great appreciation for the new or longtime reader.  Without question, this book will make you look at comics in a new light.

Mainstream-wise there isn’t much either of us would recommend, but there are a few things worth mentioning.

By the accounts of those reading DC’s New 52, Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man and Frankenstein have been standouts.  As always, we recommend seeking out creator-owned comics whenever possible, so for the DC fan in your life, try pointing them to Sweet Tooth or Essex County, his Vertigo and indie work.

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World work spanned multiple titles and a couple decades; it’s always been fairly tough to track down the whole run without spending hundreds of dollars.  DC was kind enough to put the entire run in chronological order in the omnibus format several years ago, but it has sadly fallen out of print.  The first volume was just re-released in paperback, and is perfect for tbe Kirby fan or space-epic lover in your life.

I found this next one in the bargain section of a chain bookstore. DC put out a pretty nice collection of some of their covers from the last 75 years. The collection is roughly tabloid size and the pages are perforated with the suggestion that they are suitable for framing. Outside of the covers you’d expect, there are some truly bizarre gems from the 50’s and 60’s that don’t see the light of day much. Whether you frame them or not, it’s a neat book to flip through.

DVDs

Capitalizing on the release of the Tintin movie, Shout! Factory is releasing season one of The Adventures of Tintin. This was a really good Canadian series that aired on Nickelodeon back in the mid nineties. It’s a good translation of Tintin from paper to screen.

2011 was a good year for comic book movies also. As it turns out, they’re all on Blu-Ray and DVD in time for the holidays. If you didn’t catch them in the theaters, it would definitely be worth it to at least pick up Marvel titles.

Two-face… Secrets!

I flip a coin to decide whether or not to masturbate too.

secret…

I called myself "Harvey Apollo" in the comic strips to shake a paternity suit.

secret…

Sometimes I spend hours staring at the mirror imagining that my scars are on the other side of my face.

Secret…

Gilda and I roleplay sometimes. She's the prima ballerina of a dance company, and I'm the corrupt and horribly scarred technical director.

SECRET…

Like a chameleon, the scarred side of my face changes depending on my surroundings.

SECRETS!

This Week’s Comics

What a great week for new comics!  Two Hulk books, two Jason Aaron books, two Jeff Parker books, and a new  Kupperman!  Marvel and DC sure are working hard to get me back when my embargo ends, that’s for sure.  Here’s this week’s noteworthy titles.

  • AVENGERS #20 – One of the title’s I’m furthest behind on, due to some hard-to-find early issues.  This is one I wouldn’t have added to the list if not for the experiment, but is a good case study.
  • DAREDEVIL #7 I’ve finally been able to find a few DD back issues, but man, has it been tough!
  • FANTASTIC FOUR #601
  • GODZILLA KINGDOM OF MONSTERS #10 – Issue 9 was JUST good enough to have me come back, but like Green Lantern back in the day, it’s on notice.
  • HULK #46
  • INCREDIBLE HULK #3 – Jason Aaron.  Nuff said.
  • TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE #7 – Two issues of TDtT and the Autobiography of Mark Twain, all in one year?  It’s a Kupperman renaissance!  Pick of the week!
  • TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ONGOING #5 – IDW is having an unfortunate run of books that start strong and go nowhere.  TMNT isn’t as bad as Godzilla, but the end of the last issue, ostensibly the end of the first arc, felt like such a tacked on afterthought that it ruined the book for me.  In the middle of all the action…suddenly it was all over.  Poorly played.  I’m still on-board for a little while, but I’ll be casting a suspicious eye on this one.
  • THUNDERBOLTS #167
  • UNCANNY X-FORCE #19
  • VENOM #11
  • WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #3

My new comic reading from last week has been somewhat abbreviated, as I spent most of my comic reading time plowing through the Ann Nocenti/John Romita, Jr. Daredevil run.  I did read the second issue of Godzilla Legends, though, and despite an amazing cover the inside was a complete waste of time. You would think based just off the title, Godzilla Legends would feature stories showing what qualifies these characters as legends, but instead we just get a generic story about a dumb kid and his dad, and Rodan happens to show up.  Vankin and Gane aren’t the same creative team as last issue, but they were IDW’s last chance to win me over.

That cover, though…wow.  I spoke some last month about Art Adams’ _________ cover, how the roaming eye and the unhinged jaw made him look completely insane, to the point where I felt like Samuel L. Jackson explaining the asymmetry of villains in Unbreakable.  This month Adams does the normal cover, leaving Chris Skalf to paint Rodan like a deranged Skeksis.  This is the most insane cover I’ve seen this month, and I love it!  While I may come back for more glimpses of madness, I will not buy buying any more Godzilla Legends.

That’s it for this week, my running pull list has been updated.  What looks good to you?