Previews and Portents, September 2012

Well, I’m as surprised as anyone that we’re back for round two, but here we are, immersed in a 6000 page catalog yet again!  Let’s dig in!

Arsenic Lullaby Publishing

  • Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition – AL comes out so infrequently I haven’t had the chance to read it in YEARS, but I’m glad to see it’s still around and will definitely be picking this up.  If it were any less funny it would be the most offensive comic ever produced, but it’s NOT less funny and it’s the best for messed up humor.

Art Books

  • Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal – If you, perhaps, are a fan of the late muppet master, this adaptation of his diary sounds pretty cool (although I admit to having zero clue what they mean by adaptation).  It certainly has the potential to be extremely cool, though.

Boom! Studios

  • Superbia (Ongoing) #1 – I haven’t checked out Grace Randolph’s Superbia mini, but I probably should have.  We’re both huge fans of Randolph’s based on her Muppet-related work from Boom.

Boundless

  • Lady Death #23 – Wait, WHAT year is this?!?!? I’m all for irony, but this is ridiculous.

Dark Horse

  • Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and The Orm of Loch Ness – More crazy madness in the Mighty Powell Manner!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow — Wonderland – I’m not a Buffy follower, but it IS written by Jeff Parker, so it may be worth checking out on the strength of that alone.
  • Goon #44 – Giant monsters, cockfighting, and sexy ladies: I hope you CAN judge a book by its cover!

DC Comics

  • Before Watchmen – I’m glad to see that the fourth (and final) issues of these abominations in the eyes of the Moore means we can put them safely behind us and forget they ever happened.
  • Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Vol 4 TP – The final volume of DC’s top-notch chronological reprints of the Fourth World. This is comics at it’s best, and Jack Kirby’s most focused and personal work.
  • Joe Kubert Presents #2 – It’s sad, but Joe Kubert’s participation in the Before Watchmen travesty pretty much guaranteed I wouldn’t support his future work.  Still, kudos to DC for releasing an anthology starring this comic book legend.  I hope they do this with other creators in the future.
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #2 – Ben Templesmith doesn’t tend to do superhero work, so if you’re still reading DC’s output, this is probably going to be beautiful and spooky, if nothing else.
  • Showcase Presents: Weird War Tales Vol 1 TP – I’ve never been much of a war OR a horror comic fan, but just looking at the list of creators involved here, it’s a pretty tempting bargain.

Dynamite Entertainment

  • Evil Ernie #2 – As confused as I am that there would be a Lady Death comic in 2012, multiply that by a hundred for Evil Ernie.  Did anybody really miss that cackling ghoul?  REALLY?
  • Masks #1 – Chris Roberson writes and Alex Ross paints the team-up book featuring all of the pulp characters Dynamite has been relaunching.  I just can’t believe I have to wait so long to get it in my hands. My only question is why the hell they’d cover up Zorro’s face with the logo like that?

 

EC Comics

If you’re so inclined, there’s another $300 of Golden Age crime and horror reprints to be had here.

  • Eerie Archives Volume 12 HC – If you recall, the last time I ran this feature I was pleased by the numerous options for snagging old-school horror reprints.  I’m afraid this is a rabbit-hole I can’t bring myself to go down, but it’s fascinating and welcome.

Hermes Press

  • Alex Toth’s Zorro: The Complete Dell Comics Adventures HC – $50 for 240 pages is REALLY spendy, but if you love Toth (and you really should) it promises to be a lovely collection.

IDW

  • Berkeley Breathed’s Opus and Outland – IDW’s archival reprints have been rivaling the qwuality of Fantagraphics’.  Here they wrap up their work on Breathed’s Bloom County by publishing his two follow-up strips.
  • Judge Dredd #1 – I haven’t had the opportunity to read much Dredd before, but IDW’s new series is probably a decent  starting point, at least if they ensure their stories actually GO somewhere.
  • Judge Dredd: The Complete Brian Bolland – $50 is pretty steep for 248 pages, but it’s at least guaranteed to be gorgeous and a decent primer on the character.  I’m thinking about snagging it.
  • Mad: Artist’s Edition – IDW’s Artist’s Editions are shot from the original art and printed at the original size, with all the corrections, blue lines, etc left in place so the reader can get the best possible impression of the artwork.  This one will include SOME story from every issue between #1-18 — including Bat Boy and Rubin — and promises to be the best possible glimpse you can get of real comics history.

Image Comics

  • Bloodstrike #34 – Rob Liefeld takes the reigns for the first time in the Extreme relaunch, and we’re going to see the most Liefeldy characters of the bunch in this one, including the original Shaft (displaced from Youngblood) and blatant Lobo ripoff Bloodwulf.  So yeah, I’m pretty psyched.
  • Cyber Force #2 – Coming off a successful Kickstarter campaign (which I admit I contributed to), this is going to be FREE if you visit a participating retailer.  So do that.
  • Thought Bubble Anthology 2012 – New work by Warren Ellis and Tony Harris alone would probably make me pick up this book, but there are some other top-name creators involved here.  I would HAPPILY support a full TPB with this caliber of creators attached, but this one is only 32 pages.

Marvel Comics

The Marvel NOW! soft relaunch (and where have we heard THAT little chestnut before?) is upon us, and now it’s time to ask myself if I want to continue aiding and abetting Marvel and DC’s game of soulless one-upsmanship or if I just want to check out now, like I did with the New 52.  Truth be told, there’s very little here that I find exciting, more just strategic.  Still, since I haven’t made that decision yet I’ll still keep an eye on them here.

  • All-New X-Men #1 – As long as the original 60’s stories still “happened,” I’m VERY nervous about this book.  Despite their mission the original mutant teens were still pretty happy-go-lucky, and I’d hate to see that ret-conned into no longer being true or having that explicitly destroyed.
  • Captain America #1 – In which Cap becomes John Carter, Warlord of Mars.  Who says the Silver Age is dead?  All you have to add is Cap-Mite and you’ve got 50’s Batman.
  • Indestructible Hulk #1 – MArk Waid is on fire lately, but Hulk: Agent of SHIELD?  Um…Not setting ME on fire.
  • Thor: God of Thunder #1 – Thor isn’t really one of the titles I pick up, but it IS Jason Aaron and that counts for a lot.
  • Uncanny Avengers #2 – The X-Avengers seems like a cynical ploy to me, like marrying the children of different royal families to build a stronger empire.  And yet Rick Remender, John Cassaday, and the Red Skull are a VERY tempting combination.  The Scott Summers lobotomy, though?  Eww.

Tamashii Nations

  • DX Soul of Chogokin: Mazinger Z Action Figure – Should you have $440 of disposable income or, like Friend of the Blog Ben who had the FIRST Mazinger Z web page on the Internet (it was a LOOOOONG time ago!), this looks pretty damn sharp.  And if in the future they should happen to make one featuring Optimus Prime or Voltron, well…I can;t say I wouldn’t snap it up myself.

 

Valiant Entertainment

  • Shadowman #1 – Valiant’s relaunch has been the highest-quality line-wide relaunch since…Well, since The Rob kicked Extreme off again.  Every single title I’ve read has been top-notch, even the ones I never really cared for originally.  With Shadowman they’re bringing back someone I really did like back in the day, so I’m happy to see Jack Boniface get the return he deserves.

Orders must be in to your LCS by September 18, 2012 (OOPS, sorry friends!) and are scheduled to arrive in November.

No Capes Tuesday!

Archaia's Tale of Sand

It’s no news to say that I’m a big fan of the Muppets, but it’s more accurate to say that I’m a fan of Jim Henson. These two ideas are not necessarily the same. A great many people love the Muppets, Sesame Street, and the Fraggles without every appreciating or “get”ting Dark Crystal. And that same crowd has almost certainly never seen Henson’s experimental film “Time Piece.” If you’re honest with yourself and think of yourself as more of a Muppet fan than a Henson fan, Tale of Sand is is not something you should buy simply because Henson’s signature is writ large on the front cover. Tale of Sand is decidedly non-Muppet.

Briefly, for those unfamiliar,  Tale of Sand was co-written over a seven year period, starting in 1966, by Jim Henson and Muppet head writer Jerry Juhl. To put it in perspective of Henson’s career, during that time period Henson was guest appearing regularly on a variety of television shows (Jimmy Dean, Ed Sullivan, etc…), developing the concept of Sesame Street, and producing television specials featuring the Muppets telling fairy tales. With all of these projects going, Henson and Juhl were also looking for money to make Tale of Sand. At some point they stopped shopping it around, and it ended up forgotten in a file drawer until recently. Henson Associates decided it would make a good graphic novel. The weren’t wrong.

Story-wise, this is straight forward in a convoluted way. Basically a man is on the run. Neither he nor we as an audience find out why. The disorientation, seemingly surreal events, and betrayal that occurs is actually reminiscent of The Prisoner. Even through the end, there’s no clear answer to any question a reader will have. There isn’t much dialogue so the bulk of the story is carried visually.

At first glance, Ramon Perez’s style is similar to Jeff Smith’s in RASL. His figures are fluid and distinct. There’s a nice realism that verges just this side of caricature. From his novel layouts, I cannot imagine that it was easy translating the screenplay and it’s multitude of descriptions and scene changes. As a final nice touch, pages of the screenplay are visible in the gutters between each panel. Perez and company made the best choice in avoiding coloring everything in the book. The minimal coloring in this book keeps the layouts and visuals from being too busy. This is a truly stunning book to look at.

This is a great book for students of the graphic novel form; the visual story telling here is phenomenal. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’d warn again, this isn’t a Muppet book. If you can wrap your brain around that, it’s a great piece of art and Jim Henson history.