This Week’s Comics

Despite all my kvetching about slow weeks, this one really is scraping the bottom, with a grand total of ONE book that I’ll be picking up.  Marvel’s launching a couple NOW titles this week, but they’re Deadpool and Iron Man, so not much is on the line there.  Here are this week’s new and noteworthy titles.
 
  • SCOTT PILGRIM COLOR HC VOL 02 – Matt and I are both big Pilgrimheads (or whatever we’re called), but I’m ashamed to admit that one of my problems with the book that it’s sometimes hard to tell characters apart due to them all having similar builds.  Even Bryan Lee O’Malley has admitted Young Neil looks quite a bit like Scott.  With that in mind, I’m psyched that all the SP books are getting color versions, though I think I’m saving my bones for the inevitable (and hopefully larger-sized) one-volume collection.
  • TRANSFORMERS REGENERATION ONE #85 – The “final” battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron is here!  And while I don’t believe that in the slightest — battles between those two are Transformer bread and butter — without continuity to adhere to or a juvenile audience to appeal to Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman have taken a decidedly darker turn and it truly does feel like a world where anything can happen.
In non-blog related news, I have a bit of an announcement to make.  I’m kicking off a side-project I’ve had on my mind for quite some time: a new publishing venture called 8th Wonder Press.  It’s time to try to give something back to the medium I love so much and I’m going to start here.  Our first project is a comic anthology to launch next summer, and we are currently accepting submissions to be a part.  Please check us out, and if you — or someone you know that totally isn’t you! — are interested in getting published, we’d love to hear from you.
That’s it for this week.  What looks good to you?

This Week’s Comics

Due to the Labor Day holiday the Diamond new releases was put out a day late, but Wednesday is still New Comic Book Day! Here are this week’s new and noteworthy titles.

  • ATLAS UNIFIED #0 – After spotting a pretty killer description while doing my previews column, I was convinced Atlas United was the best book nobody had ever heard of. Then I snagged issue 1 from my LCS and I was convinced that Tom Peyer was the victim of identity theft. This is not a good book, and I apologize to anyone I may have misled.
  • DARK AVENGERS #180
  • FIRST X-MEN #2 – Neal Adams, who I revere as an artist, is turning his attention to the already-fuzzy early-X-Men continuity.  And if Batman: Odyssey is the level of quality we can expect here, there is no way in Hell I’m spending money on this book.
  • LOVE AND CAPES WHAT TO EXPECT #2
  • MANHATTAN PROJECTS TP VOL 01 SCIENCE BAD – If you haven’t been snagging the individual issues, the first collection is only $15! A steal!
  • MUPPETS #3
  • THIEF OF THIEVES #8 and THIEF OF THIEVES TP VOL 01 – I haven’t had much to say about ToT, mainly because it’s a book that lives in the little details, but it’s a good heist book, and the idea of it as an ongoing series intrigues me greatly.
  • TRANSFORMERS REGENERATION ONE #83 – I’ve tried to keep my expectations low for Regen One, but I’ve really, REALLY liked it. It’s well worth buying if you have fond memories of the original Marvel run.

That’s it for this week, what looks good to you?

This Week’s Comics

Oh, hello there.  I didn’t see you come in.  It’s another light week, but here are this week’s new and noteworthy titles.

  • DAREDEVIL #16
  • LOVE AND CAPES WHAT TO EXPECT #1 – For Matt’s creator-owned pull list.
  • MUPPETS #2 – The Last Langridge Muppet Story is a bit of a lost classic, and it’s been nice to revisit old friends, even if they haven’t been gone that long.
  • THIEF OF THIEVES #7
  • TRANSFORMERS REGENERATION ONE #82 – And speaking of revisiting old friends I don’t think Regen One has quite recaptured the vibe of the first run 20 years ago, but I can see the spark.  And it IS a good book, it just doesn’t seem like Furman and Wildman have recaptured their groove yet.  It’s dumb, but I will mention that one of the best things are the word balloons.  Growing up on the old Marvel series, Transformers always spoke with rectangular balloons with those strange flared corners.  No other series since has gone that route, and it’s nice to see them back.

I also picked up the 100-Page Spectacular so I could get caught up on issues 76-80 from the original series before picking up #81.  I have
about half the issues and had never read the rest, so it was a good refresher for me.  I was very pleasantly surprised to see those stories hold up remarkably well, and not “for Transformers comics,” but as stories in their own right.

That’s it for this week.  What looks good to you?

Saturday Morning Comics

Good morning all, once again it’s time to settle in with a bowl of King Vitamin and peruse this week’s comics offerings. It’s a light week for me; there were only two books on my list. One was worth reviewing and one wasn’t, so I’m also looking at a book from last week that came in late for me.

Fantastic Four #608 story by Jonathan Hickman; art by Giuseppe Camuncoli (breakdowns) and Karl Kesel (finishes); published by Marvel Comics. Hickman’s time on the Fantastic Four books is quickly coming to an end. It looks like his final arc will deal with Wakanda. This issue has Reed and T’Challa traveling down into the depths of the Earth to enter the Wakandan/ Egyptian equivalent of Elysian Fields. They confront the Bast the cat faced goddess, and T’Challa is given a hard choice. Simulanteously Sue, T’Challa’s sister Shuri, and Storm go on a drug induced spirit quest to fight Anubis, Death.

On the one hand the Reed/T’Challa bit was strong. As a reader and fan of Reed Richards, it’s nice to be reminded that he has friends outside of his foursome. Mostly Reed is shown to have colleagues (Pym, Stark, McCoy, etc…). Hickman shows the relationship between Reed and T’Challa as friends first and colleagues second. It works.

The b-storyline with the women, while told in parallel to the a-story, feels rushed, hasty, and unnecessary. If the idea is to show that the women are as capable as the men, don’t magically end their arc on its seventh page as a result of something happening in the a-arc. That Hickman is running against a clock felt most obvious with this issue, and his usual careful pacing suffered for it.

Transformers: Regeneration One #81 story by Simon Furman; art by Andrew Wildman (p) and Stephen Baskerville (i); published by IDW. After 21 years, the original Marvel series picks up again. And boy does it pick up. This issue deals with the Wreckers and their difficulty finding a place in the new cybertronian order. If the last two pages don’t make you squeal with glee like a 14 year-old girl at a One Direction concert, you don’t remember the 1980’s.

For me, and many others, Wildman is THE transformers artist, and that hasn’t changed. Like Kevin Maguire, his strength comes from the emotions conveyed on his faces. Amazingly, he does this to equal effect with characters like Optimus Prime where 3/4 of the facial cues are covered by a faceplate.

The one thing that I’d like to see change on this title is the coloring. The computer coloring is too busy for me. There are too many different shades of color happening and not as much shading with inking. If you look at cover B, you’re reminded of how it used to be. For me, on Transformers, that’s how it should be.

 

THIS WEEK’S COVERS

Today’s Comics

Oh, Diamond…The reason I write this on Monday is because that’s when I have time to write!  When you post the new releases on Tuesday, that just messes everything up!  The good news, though?  Holy cats, there’s a ton of good comics coming out this week!  Here are this week’s new and noteworthy title.

  • ADVENTURE TIME MARCELINE SCREAM QUEENS #1 – I don’t know about this one. I lovelovelove the main Adventure Time title, but I’m not a huge Marcelline fan so I’m not as interested in her spin-off.  If it’s as good as the main book, though, it’ll be a winner.
  • ATOMIC ROBO REAL SCIENCE ADV #4 – <grumble> My LCS still hasn’t gotten issue #3 yet <grumble>
  • CHEW SECRET AGENT POYO #1 – So this is a Chew spin-off about a rooster, right?  Because that sounds AMAZING!
  • CROW #1 – Another book about a bird!  I’ve got to give ’em a chance, The Crow is a pretty solid character that has been let down by some bad writing.
  • DARK AVENGERS #177 – Issue 176 was back to the Jeff Parker Thunderbolts I’ve come to know and love, as Man-Thing returns and we get back to business as expected.
  • FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #33 – I don’t know what’s more impressive, that Marvel’s putting out an annual or they’re continuing with the original numbering.  Well played, Marvel!
  • HOAX HUNTERS #1 – I liked the Zero issue except for the art, so with a new artist I have high hopes.
  • PUNK ROCK JESUS #1 – Sean Murphy’s preview art looks great and he’s earned the chance to show what he’s got writing.
  • SAUCER COUNTRY #5
  • TRANSFORMERS REGENERATION ONE #81
  • TRANSFORMERS REGENERATION ONE 100 PG SPECTACULAR – Not sure what issues will be in here, but 100 pages for $8 works for me. 
  • YOUNGBLOOD #72 – Who’da thunk that Youngblood would have been such a highlight of The Rob’s Extreme relaunch?  It makes sense, since that’s the book that launched Image, but we’ve been let down before.  Worth a look, if you’re interested in the concept and want to give it a shot.

That’s it for this week.  What looks good to you?

Random Links For Your Weekend

Wow, it has been a LONG time since I put one of these together!  But, with the need to close some browser tabs and the extremely dickish way DC has been sticking it to Alan Moore this week, well…we were overdue.

  • This is the check DC used to buy Superman in 1938.  And it just sold for $160,000.  Dollars.  American.
  • Tformers.com reviews the new (well, at the time!) Transformers Japanese Collection.  If I ever manage to make it through the American episodes I can’t wait to check these out.  Friend of the Blog David says they’re great!
  • With Paul Levitz no longer keeping DC from capitalizing on Watchmen, they’re just going WAY out of their way to make up for lost dollars time.  First, on Tuesday this is revealed:

Yes, that’s a Watchmen toaster.  A Watchmen.  Fucking.  Toaster.  Which nobody, EVER, has found themselves wishing for IF ONLY Alan Moore would stop being a fussy little baby.  Then DC opens up their own online storefront selling exclusive toys and the like.  Sure, it’s probably long overdue, but by selling Graphic Novels (and almost inevitably comics) and two styles of Comedian iPhone cases* (sorry AGAIN, Alan), they’re cutting out the retailers who have propped them up for decades. But at least they’re putting out an adorable V vinyl doll.  Because that’s what Alan Moore really meant for that work.** If it weren’t May I’d assume this was an April Fools gag.  (Thanks to Team Hellions, on whose site I saw this reported first.)

With that bit of bile out of the way, that’s it for this installment.  Have a good weekend, folks.  So I don’t end on a completely down note I’ll leave you with this bit of awesomeness.

*Seriously, if you’re most impressed by THE COMEDIAN, we cannot have anything in common.  That dude just straight up raped people and an iPhone may not be quite the right place to honor that guy.

**The conspiracy theorist in me wants to say that by making the Guy Fawkes mask cute and cuddly it will take away some of the power of the Occupy movement and Anonymous.  But the realist in me says that’s crazy, right?  Right?

A Look at Free Comic Book Day 2012

Free Comic Book Day 2012 has come and gone, and judging by the crowds of excited people I saw at every store I went to (5 over about 4 hours that morning) it was a pretty big success.  But how were the comics that were given away?  Well, I managed to come home with a pretty big stack of them, so let’s take a closer look.

  • Adventure Time/Peanuts – The classic Peanuts stories are great, the new stuff leaves me cold.  Okay, that half of the flipbook out of the way, let’s talk Adventure Time.  This is a great example of what Kaboom is doing with their AT series.  The main story follows all the style guides (and fits within the gutters of issue one), but there are also a couple short stories by indie creators where they can go off and tell whatever stories they like.  It’s a good, fun mix of a good, fun series, and an excellent representation of what you’d get in an issue of Adventure Time.

  • Archaia Presents Mouse Guard and Other Stories – Man, did Archaia raise the bar with their FCBD issue, giving out a 41-page (unless I miscounted) HARDCOVER sampler.  I can’t say every sample was good — Cursed Pirate Girl was somewhat illegible and I had to skip past it — but the Mouse Guard synopsis story (I really need to be reading that!) and Cow Boy by Nate  Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos were excellent.  Cow Boy is definitely going on my next order.  Another fun surprise: a Labyrinth story!  There’s no branding on the story itself but once I recognized Hoggle (okay, it’s not that hard), the other characters came flooding back to me. THIS is what FCBD should be about!
  • Atomic Robo/Neozoic/Bonnie Lass – Even though Archaia put out this Free Comic Book Day’s strongest issue, the Atomic Robo team of Brian Clevenger and Scott Wegener yet again put out an amazing offering this year.  Usually reserving FCBD for a Robo/Dr. Dinosaur fight, this year they teamed up!  Well, in a way.  As always it was hilarious, and as always you should be reading it year-round.  The other samples in here didn’t offer content nearly as strong.  Neozoic hopped from scene to scene (and even from person to person in the same  conversation) so much it felt like panels were missing.  Transitions definitely were. Bonnie Lass was fine, but nothing remarkable.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron #0.1 – This is a good FCBD choice from Marvel.  High-profile (or rather more importantly, highly talented) creators, recognizable characters appearing in a movie opening the same weekend, and the first part of what will obviously be a huge storyline.  It’s well-written and well-drawn, but after going through it 3 times, I just can’t decide on it.  Is it for the new reader or us established folks?  It definitely feels like part 1 of 13.  The return of Ultron is great, but it feels unusually built up. I just have no idea about this one.  Strategically it’s a good call, but it mostly left me cold.  Maybe that’s just a reflection on my relationship with mainstream superhero comics than anything else.
  • The Censored Howard Cruise – Outside of the obvious creators Crumb, Pekar, and Sheldon I’m not terribly knowledgeable about the original Underground Comix creators, so this joint effort by Boom! (really!) and the CBLDF was a nice addition to the day.  And it really is censored for the FCBD edition, though the upcoming releases will not be.  I was trying to come up with a good way to describe Cruise’s work until Charles Brownstein put it much better than I could have in the backmatter: “Cruse’s technically accomplished line style has a wholesome quality that provides a stark contrast to his candid discussions of sexuality, drug use, and censorship.”  A great offering for the student of both comics and comix.  It’s also worth noting that Boom! has a new Roger Langridge collection coming out called “The Show Must Go On” that we’ll both need to keep our eyes peeled for.
  • Dinosaurs vs Aliens – Since we’re discussing how comics work, DvA fails completely, offering only 8 pages of actual comic book and filling up the rest with sketches, concept art, and text pieces.  It’s an interesting book, but not really enough sequential art to qualify as a comic.  Skepticism ruins the rest of the goodwill I have for this title.  Movie director comes up with painfully obvious mash-up (since those are all the rage), hires the best comic writer in the business to write a screenplay, then does a comic to provide street cred (see also: Cowboys vs Aliens).  Oh well, at least the art will be beautiful.
  • Image 20 – Image takes their shot this year with a sampler of their upcoming titles.  Going with a book full of teasers is probably a good call (although I’m obviously biased towards a full comic) but nothing I read inspired me to pick any of them up.
  • The New 52 – Despite my DC boycott I still picked this up, figuring it at least wasn’t putting any money in the Time-Warner coffers.  Another teaser book, this kicks off the backstory behind Pandora, the mystery woman who appeared in each of DC’s 52 #1 issues.  No disrespect intended to the creators involved, but a passing familiarity with Greek mythology and a play-through of God of War is probably all the Pandora stories we need.
  • Spider-Man: Season One – This whole “accessible universe” thing is getting out of hand.  A decade ago Marvel kicked off the Ultimate line with the intent of luring in new readers.  Then DC launched their Earth One line of OGN’s for bookstores and rebooted their whole damn universe.  Unwilling to be beaten at their own game, Marvel then launches THEIR line of bookstore OGN’s, doing the exact same thing every other relaunch has done since John Byrne did Spider-Man: Chapter One.  If you love modernized Spider-Man reboots this will be right up your alley, but otherwise this is pretty inessential.
  • Stuff of Legend/Finding Gossamyr – I’m always charmed by the soul and charming artwork of the Stuff of Legend books, though I don’t see it on the stands often enough to keep up with it.  (Fortunately, there’s an ad in the back for a collection of the first two volumes, which I will definitely pick up).  Finding Gossamyr was a little confusing…It looks like a young boy solves a math problem that leads to a portal to another dimension, but tI had a little trouble reading the transition between the two worlds.  The artwork was a nice cartoony style, and the story was intriguing more than mysterious for it’s own sake.  If you enjoy Narnia-type alternate world stories, this is a title to keep an eye out for.
  • Transformers: Regeneration One #80.5 – My love of comics started with the original Marvel Transformers series.  I was given a three-pack innocently enough, but suddenly it’s 30 years and thousands of issues later.  There will always be a soft, biased spot in my heart for those Robots in Disguise. Sure, their adventures were mainly used to reinforce toy lines, but by the end of the original 80-issue run we got to some truly original stories as we reached the final battle with Unicron written by Simon Furman and (mostly) drawn by Andrew Wildman.

Yes the Cybertronians were victorious, but in the aftermath were some of the grayest, bleakest stories I had ever read as the Transformers struggled to find purpose again.  Furman got to tell stories that didn’t require introducing new toys and could focus on the characters.  Wildman, who if I recall was a pretty divisive art choice at the time, was my favorite TF artist ever, able to draw alt modes and robot forms equally well and distinctly.  What really set him apart were the distinctive (and dare I say, human) faces with spittle frequently flying and battle damage showing they may be robots, but they’ve clearly been to Hell.

Together they got away with telling some truly weird stories.  Galvatron travels to kill his past-self before realizing he would cease to exist.  Megatron and Ratchet fuse into a Two-Face robot.  And then five issues after defeating the ultimate evil they were gone.

Their run based my entire opinion of what Transformers COULD be.  Even though it’s been a while since I’ve gone back to see how they hold up, make no mistake: I know full well that most of the comic series was pretty bad, not to mention some truly awful cartoon episodes.  But those issues…well they showed a lot of growth and potential for more.

Wildman and Furman have teamed up many times since that series end, even on Transformers, with Armada.  Those darker issues seem to have inspired other approaches to the characters as well, but none of them have worked for me.  The names and characterization are roughly the same, but the Armada or Energon Optimus Primes just aren’t the
same to me like the G1 Prime is, just like Alan Scott is not Hal Jordan is not Kyle Rayner.

Now here we are, 21 years after that series ended, and Furman and Wildman are back, picking up where they left off. Or rather, 21 years after they left off.  They do so fairly seamlessly.  Furman’s story could have been more linear rather than bouncing around, but we’re definitely going to get back to the original (and if I may be so bold, my) characters.  And Wildman’s art returned to exactly where I remember, without all the overly-angular jagged faces obviously inspired by the movies.  This is a very good comic, and I’m really excited to see where they take us.

(Now after having written all this, I feel like I’ve done Geoff Johns a disservice by my griping about him turning DC into what he loved most as a kid.)

  • 2000 AD – The surprise find of FCBD 2012!  I’ve never seen a 2000 AD FCBD issue before; I didn’t even know they participated.  The first pleasant surprise was the large magazine size, so it stands out from all the other offerings.  Then it gives several complete chunks of comics.  Sure, some of the stories were a part one but it’s an accurate representation of what to expect from 2000 AD.  Then the contents showcased a little bit of everything: classic sci-fi, some horror, a vintage Alan Moore story, and a superhero satire.  I’ve never read an individual issue of 2000 AD before, but after this I think I might need to add it to my pull list.
  • Valiant 2012 – Even though this was just a teaser book, it worked. I’m sufficiently piqued for the Valiant relaunch this summer.  Unfortunately, it’s still a bad free comic.  Marvel and DC put out things like this monthly; it’s a promotional item.*

* Yes, they’re all promotional items, but the point of Free Comic Book Day is, you know, a free comic book.

  • Yo Gabba Gabba – I really don’t know what to say about this one, since I am neither a small child nor a guardian of small children.  It definitely won’t appeal to anyone whose age is approaching double-digits, and there’s no hipster cred other than some nice work by Mike Allred and Evan Dorkin.  But might it get small children into appreciating comics?  Yes.  Yes it might. And that’s one to grow on.

And that was my 2012 Free Comic Book Day.  I think it was a raging success, even if not every book was.  I hope you found some great comics out there and have maybe been inspired to track down a few new things.  And only 11 months until next year’s!

Jazz — Secrets!

I got my name from the greatest musician of all time: DJ Jazzy Jeff

Secrets!

People don't understand that I'm not wearing sunglasses, I ONLY HAVE ONE WEIRD-SHAPED EYE!

Secrets!

What's big, white, and looks like a bitch? Leader-1!

Secrets!

I wrote all the music I played in the old show. I gots that shit bumpin'!

Secrets!

Man, after that whole Unicron business, I never got seen again. They apparently wanted to go in "another creative direction."

SECRETS!!!

Random Links For Your Weekend

Man, it has been a long, LONG time since I’ve done a link round-up, and I have so many browser tabs open these days it’s crashing my computer.  So, in the spirit of enlightened self-interest, please help me get caught up.