6.28.06 Reviews

DCU: Brave New World (DC): 80 pages for $1. I didn't like all of the pieces, but I really felt like this was an awesome read, dense stories that felt "real" and not like fluff or filler. I felt like I really got a good deal here. Story #1: Martian Manhunter. Yeah, didn't care. Story #2: OMAC. Really engaging script from Bruce Jones, I surprisingly started to care about these characters and was pulled right into the well-paced action. Renato Guedes' art is amazing! Very, very sweet. Looked like a blend of Tony Harris' expressive art and the smooth, soft lines of the Luna Brothers. Story #3: Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters. Nice art, though it did seem to be inked and colored much too dark. Gray & Palmiotti have the makings of an interesting story here, with an aggressive Authority-style take on policing the world. Daniel Acuna's art was a treat as well, takes some of the photorealism of say, Alex Ross, and merges that with a masterful use of shadows and perspective that really make it pop with depth and clarity. Wonderul stuff. Story #4: The Creeper. Borrrrrrrrr-ing. Generic vigilante stuff. You could easily substitute Bruce Wayne or any Marvel street-level hero in this role and not skip a beat, nothing original. And Justiniano's art wavers between a manic Vertigo-style and something from the 90's Image house style. It lacks proportion and grace. Story #5: The Atom. Well, you can definitely feel Grant Morrison's influence on Gail Simone's script here with all of the techno-babble. I liked the quotes linking the real and fictitious scientists with Atom's superficial foibles. Neat. This was really reminiscent of the 1960's Atom & Hawkman team-up stories that put them in some ridiculous circumstances, but overall there is a likable ease to it and it comes off just like good ol' fashioned adventure comics, something the industry needs more of. John Byrne's art seems to have less of the cheery, affable, happiness to it that I used to hate. His style has settled into a nice detailed offering, with fully realized backgrounds, and nice energy to the panel transitions that's perfectly matched for these types of stories. Nice Twilight Zone feel to the ending. Story #5: Trials of Shazam. Didn't really care for Winick's mystical, magical hoo-ha. Just don't know why I'm supposed to care. Art was interesting, I could not have told you that was Howard Porter unless I checked the credits. I thought his new style was neat, but a bit off in parts. Dr. Fate, Shade, and Zatanna looked kinda' cool in action, but when did Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel become Asian? Mary Marvel looked cute as a petite Asian girl, I just didn't know she was supposed to look Asian, haha! And, the Monitor(s)? Really? Geez, can't we just let the universe be? Can't we just let all the stories play out without someone trying to manipulate the multiverse already? Have we learned nothing from Crisis, and Zero Hour, and the weird congolomeration of all these reboots and retcons? Just. Tell. Good. Stories. Overall, this book was great! I really felt like I read 6 distinct comics for just a buck. It took me a nice span of time to chug through them all and I really enjoyed myself and the feel that DC had something(s) to offer. I will definitely be buying Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters and The Atom (2 titles I would probably have passed on if it weren't for this book). OMAC is kind of borderline. And I'll pass on Shazam, Creeper, and Martian Manhunter. But, this was a solid, solid project. Nice job, DC. Grade A.

New Avengers #21 (Marvel): This Civil War tie-in is interesting, if for no other reason than the Howard Chaykin art. It was really a treat to see him bring his blocky angular style to the Avengers. It looks almost as if someone took a magnifying glass to Richard Corben's art. Bendis still seems to use some dialogue for Cap that is out of character, being a bit too casual sounding. And his dialogue for the Falcon is pretty stereotypical, almost uncomfortably so. Not much else here except some interesting back story on how Cap and Falcon first formed the resistance movement to the Superhuman Registration Act. Mostly for the art, Grade B.

Virgin Comics #0 (Virgin Comics): Okay. It's kind of sad that even though this sampler comic was free, I feel like I want my money back. I feel like I got the bad end of the bargain here. So we get to sample two stories, Devi and Ramayan something or other. Ramayan Reborn was it? Doesn't matter. So the art has sort of a dark Humanoids, kind of European style to it, which is a bit of a mismatch with the story material. Basically they relied too much on prose. They tried to tap into this native mythology of India. They tried too hard to hit this cultural feeling and missed a very simple fact. The simple fact is that when you try to make good comic books, you should first and foremost, you know, make a good engaging comic book. This was so boring and dense. It just wasn't interesting at all, nothing popped. They took some CrossGen style mysticism and blended that with some Eastern settings and references and called it a day. Not at all unique. On top of that, the whole line of books seems so overly planned. The "Shakti," (power) line is about indigenous tales retold in some fashion. The "Director's Cut" line is stories from filmmakers from what I can tell, they seem to gladly reference John Woo. And finally, the "Voices" line is supposedly about all of those wonderful creators we would "kill to work with," yet there is no mention of any of them. It's like going to a restaurant and being told, "the food is really good here... What's that you say? Menus? Oh no, we don't have menus, just trust us!" You'd think industrial mogul Sir Richard Branson would have done a little more research into the foibles of CrossGen and some other "planned" lines before commissioning this endeavor. We've got to all learn that you can't "plan" good art, it's got to happen a little more organically. Only because it was free, Grade D-.

X-Factor #8 (Marvel): Another Civil War tie-in that reads pretty much like the last couple of issues of X-Factor. Meaning there were some things I liked and some things that were quite distracting. I liked Siryn's monologue about the "erosion of freedom." Hey, Marvel Editors! Yeah, you! Over here! So is it officially the Superhuman Registration Act or the Superhero Registration Act? Most Civil War books I've read seem pretty consistent with Superhuman, but X-Factor and a few others seem to mistakenly keep calling it the Superhero Act. Get it straight, please. Denis Calero, dude, your art is killing me. Why does Rahne look like a 12 year old boy? Shouldn't a hot tempered Irish female with feline powers be kinda'... I don't know, *sexy* or something? Why do Guido's red glasses go from non-existent, to sort of floating mysteriously around his chin in one panel, to magically back on his face a few panels later? Do these tie in books happen before or after the main Civil War books? Some of the actions in this book would seem to pre-date the main books (the conversation with Spider-Man and the generic villain) while others seem to come after (Spidey's conversation with Siryn). Peter David basically comes right out and says in his letters column that Marvel Editorial ain't the best and is not terribly coordinated when it comes to continuity from title to title. Oh, Banshee died in another X-Book? Gee, I guess we ought to have his daughter Siryn grieve in X-Factor, huh? Nice catch. The art is still horribly inconsistent and this felt like a bit of a stretch, as most tie-in event comics do. The only thing keeping me around is PAD's writing ability, my fondness for the characters, and the promise of an X-Factor #87 style psychiatry scene in issue #13. Grade B-.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #6 (Marvel): This is still kooky, kooky, fun action! A deranged Dirk Anger has a nice meltdown and rants about his wife even as his ship is going down in flames. Tabitha, Elsa, Machine-Man, and the gang are kinda' even starting to gel as a team and are pretty capable when they stop bickering and taking shots at eachother. One-liners abound as former member of X-Force Tabitha repeatedly says "farting," references to "lizard squeezes" ensue, and Dirk's precious lines are delivered: "They eat girls, Monica! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! They eat girls!" Immonen's pencils make it look so easy. There is a grace and ease to his linework that look so natural. Aaron wearing the bra and posing proudly made me go "tee-hee-hee" out loud. My thoughts on this book mirror Elsa's comments to Aaron: "It's just ****ing disturbing, darling." Grade A-.


Gripe Of The Day

You know, if Marvel can reprint a $75 version of the Eternals in hardcover (released today), I don't see why DC can't do a hardcover reprint of Jack Kirby's Mister Miracle. Regardless of master scribe Neil Gaiman's involvement in the new Eternals series, I would think that Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Darkseid, and the New Gods have infinitely more appeal. There has been clamor for this ever since they reprinted that shitty black and white version on crappy paper a few years ago (which I think is even out of print by the way). Hell, they could probably do an oversized, slipcased, absolute style treatment and people would eat it up. I haven't heard one peep from anyone for any of this Eternals shit, but Marvel seems to be on a mission to reprint their entire library in slick hardcovers. Where is my Scott Free, Oberon, and the Female Furies!? DC, what's up?


Story Of A Drunken Girlhood

Smashed by Koren Zailckas is the best (non-comic) book that I've read in a long, long time. I can think of no better way to summarize it than the blurb on the front cover, "Gripping... one of the best accounts of addiction, the college experience, or what it means to be an average teenage girl in America. Grade A from Entertainment Weekly."

Aside from the topics addressed above, what I was really struck by more than anything was the quality of Zailckas' writing. She is extremely insightful, funny, and uses sarcasm in a sparing, effective balance of pointed accuracy and slight sorrow. Her prose flows with lyrical ease, yet is grounded firmly in the reality of her experiences. She writes in a way that reveals wisdom far beyond her relatively youthful years.

So good that I ran out and bought copies for my boss and a few other key people with daughters who are getting to the age where experimentation and curiosity begin. A place where alcohol can routinely be a shortcut to confidence, to overcome introverted shyness, and basically replace good judgment and real connections with people.

This book reveals a true story, which is an American undercurrent of pop images and social dynamics that affect our children in ways often hidden from otherwise well-intentioned parents.


6.21.06 Reviews

All Star Superman #4 (DC): This issue is so Grant Morrison. This issue is Grant Morrison channeling his inner Grant Morrison. It's like Grant Morrison on crack. It's Grant Morrison's writing having a creative bout of manic Grant Morrison-ness. Grant Morrison-icity. Grant Morrison. Grant Morrison. It's frenetic and just spilling over with so much zany techno-babble sci-fi 1960's post-modernized goodness that I can't even keep up. Oblique references to other bits of Superman continuity and Project Cadmus stuff. Frank Quitely's art is like winning the lottery the day after having sex with Adriana Lima. It's so ridiculously good and serendipitous that you keep pinching yourself to make sure you're not dreaming it all up. I've read this twice and know that I'm still missing half of it. It's almost like Grant is acknowledging that the idea of a "Superman" is so incoherently ridiculous that he just runs with it and sees how ridiculously over the top and stuffed with incomprehensibly impossible concepts he can make it. Grant Morrison. Grade A.

New Avengers #20 (Marvel): Nothing much to say here except that this is wildly inconsistent with recent events in Civil War and the characterization of SHIELD Director Maria Hill is totally off. And Mike Deodato's art ain't what it used to be. Poorly done. Grade D.

Ex Machina #21 (DC/Wildstorm): Hey, Tony Harris! Hey man, maybe this is my nit-picky problem since I've owned 5 BMWs, but in 2001 the new 6-series Bimmer you drew on the first few pages wasn't invented yet. Kinda' pushed me out of the story from the first page. That aside, this was a solid issue. I like the idea of public servants telling the truth about drug use to stimulate discussion and actually address the issue vs. hiding behind a veil of "we don't discuss personal issues" or putting some sort of media spin on it. The quality of the scripting is really back up with some self referential and funny lines like "fucking fortune tellers..." Nice intrigue with the introduction of January and... wow! That last page! Glad to see this title on track, unlike the atrocious two issue mini that just wrapped. Grade A-.

Astonishing X-Men #15 (Marvel): Woo-hoo! This was a great issue that shows a devastatingly effective coordinated attack on this roster of X-Men by the new Hellfire Club. It pushes all the right character buttons, has great dialogue, humor, action sequences, and is beautifully penciled and rendered. Did Kitty really say "I'm not gonna' be purple-manned"? Nice nod to Bendis from Whedon. I love, love, love the drama Whedon has created between Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde, as well as his strong and capable portrayal of Kitty throughout the history of this title. Grade A.

Eternals #1 (Marvel): I really haven't enjoyed much of Neil Gaiman's comic writing after The Sandman saga, and his prose novels bore me to tears. But I really enjoyed this. One thing I didn't follow was Sersi showing up at Abigail's house. Sersi brings her a cup of coffee, she sips it, then over the course of the next few panels proceeds to brew a pot of coffee. Huh? Why? Was this just John Romita Jr. doing his own thing and not paying attention to what I can only assume was a full script from Gaiman? WEIRD. Aside from that, good times. I like the mystery of the Eternals and this is the first time that post-Superhero Registration Act continuity has been referenced and felt a bit natural. We'll see where this goes. Grade B.

Casanova #1 (Image): I was really looking forward to this book, having enjoyed Matt Fraction's online writings about the comic book industry, and much of Gabriel Ba's work, including the recent De: Tales, Stories From Urban Brazil. But, ouch, I had some issues with this book. Overall, it reads like a script that Fraction submitted to Marvel that got rejected. His super secret spy agency EMPIRE is a thinly veiled SHIELD, complete with a character that looks exactly like Dum-Dum Dugan. Cass and his sister Zephyr appear to be the children of a Nick Fury archetype. There's even an evil villain that is a big floating head, sound like anyone we know from the Marvel U? The "Heli-Casino" looks curiously like a SHIELD HeliCarrier. The similarities do not read like homage, but outright duplication. From a panel to panel storytelling standpoint, I was confused, not sure if this was less than stellar scripting by Fraction or odd pencils from Ba, but how did we get from Zephyr's funeral to a wedding(?) on the very next page? Were all those empty word balloons intentional or a lettering/printing error? And umm, yeah, I don't know French. Without subtitles, a little hard to follow two pages of French dialogue randomly placed. The rejected Marvel script then gets merged with what I can only assume is Fraction hanging out a bit too much with pal Joe Casey and picking up some things by creative osmosis. We have character names like Fabula Berserko and Newman Xeno which sound remarkably like something Casey would create for Godland. The Godland typeface (notice the little dots inside the O's) used with these characters only strengthens this theory. About half way through it just got kinda' dense and I didn't really care about what was happening anymore. Fraction used some dialogue like "blah-diddy-blah-diddy-blah" in an effort to either be funny or a bit self-aware about what he was *ahem* paying "homage" to, but it felt just like that and wasn't funny - blah, blah, blah... zzzzzzzz. As I said, I do really enjoy Fraction's writing about the industry, he's always able to come up with insightful pointed nuggets like "perfect little epiphanies of trash culture, pop decadence and confection." I love talk like that. What I don't like is writing like "Most of those issues in our neighborhood, length-wise." What the hell does that mean, is that even a complete sentence? It looks like a word collage to me. All in all, despite my confusion and disappointment, I guess I'll give it another shot because for the $1.99 price tag and Fell format, it's pretty low risk, but my expectations have really been lowered. Grade C-.


Finding The Lost Girls

With just two months until The Lost Girls (Top Shelf) by Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie debuts, the Internet is already "breaking in half" as Bendis would say. Moore himself calls it pornography and lines are being drawn. Some retailers are refusing to carry it simply because it contains pornographic images. Other retailers are being forced into defensive tactics and choosing not to carry it, not on moral grounds, but to protect their small business endeavors because of aggressive laws in their communities.

Top Shelf itself appears to be gearing up for a fight. They're contstantly in the media cycle and are offering a signed & numbered limited edition version direct to consumers with a substantially higher price tag. They claim it's an effort to fund this expensive publishing project that has taken 16 years to come to fruition. I believe that. But, I wonder if putting some bankroll together for a possible legal team or substantial donation to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (Top Shelf Publisher Chris Staros was recenly appointed to the CBLDF) hadn't crossed their mind also. I hope that the chill of everyone waiting around for the impending danger of a lawsuit turns into a non-event like Y2K. If it's not dismissed as a moot point and a lawsuit does ensue, hell I hope they take it all the way to the Supreme Court and would make yet another donation to the CBLDF myself.

Store owners being arrested for selling adult books labeled as adult books from their adults only sections of their stores to adults in their store is fucking ridiculous. It's really common sense, if you don't like it, then don't look at it and certainly don't buy it. People need to remember that in a society that prides itself on Freedom of the Press, creators, publishers, and retail distributors have a right, an obligation even, to be able to put any work they choose out into the collective pop culture market without fear of persecution. So long as they don't seek to subjugate other works or systems of belief (Religious Right, I'm talking to you) or advocate their work as the only, or right, choice. Critics of this project would do well to remember that.

Sadly, my local shop decided not to carry this title. I was disappointed by what is otherwise a first rate retail establishment. Why you ask? Not because of moral grounds. Not because of fear of prosecution (this is the Liberal Left Coast, California, after all!). The owner was upset that Top Shelf decided to carry the signed and numbered edition as an exclusive and didn't make it available to stores. I can certainly understand that position. I don't agree with it, since stores can still carry the $75 regular version anyway and make a tidy profit, all while supporting the right this project has to be in the marketplace free of bullshit hassles, but I guess store owners have a right to vote with their wallets here too. And you have to respect their right to choose, even if you don't agree with their choice.

So if anyone wants to vote and support Top Shelf in this endeavor, I would suggest buying or pre-ordering either edition directly from them. That's what I did: http://topshelfcomix.com

Top Shelf also has tons of interviews with the creators and you can learn more about the content and controversy surrounding what promises to be a fun read.


6.14.06 Reviews

Supermarket #3 (IDW): Can't wait to read this as my love for all things written by Brian Wood continues.

DMZ #8 (DC/Vertigo):
Maybe I haven't mentioned it before, but there's this writer Brian Wood? And suddenly he's everywhere and I'm enjoying everything he touches.

The Squirrel Mother Stories (Fantagraphics):
Picked up this handsome trade by Megan Kelso. I've seen bits of her work in some anthology books and am really curious to see how this holds up. Great sense of design and a diversity of art styles.

Civil War #2 (Marvel): I've never been a huge Marvel guy, but damn if this tale about a Superhuman Registration Act and the dissention it causes within the entire Marvel U isn't entertaining as hell. Some great moments here, including a chilling scene with the arrests of the Young Avengers and Spider-Man revealing himself as Peter Parker after 40-some years of existence. Grade B+.

Fear Agent #5 (Image): I don't even have to read this book and I can recommend it. It rocks. Trust me. Grade A.

Ex Machina Special #2 (DC/Wildstorm): Hoo-boy. (Seems like I've been saying this alot lately, but...) I hate to break out the ol' Criminal Justice Degree here, but there are some assertions of fact surrounding the death penalty here that really disturb me. Hundred says he may be against the death penalty because it actually reinforces that violence is "okay" in society as a means of criminal retribution and that violence rates (he doesn't say which, rape, homicide, assault, robbery?) spike after an execution. This is a common logic fallacy that in Latin is referred to as "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc" or "It happened after, therefore because of." There is no way to correlate a spike in violence with an execution from a causality standpoint. He says that the cost of executions is actually greater than housing inmates on life without possibility of parole sentences. This is wholly inaccurate as well. I mean, I have the education, but it just doesn't even pass the common sense test. If you add up the cost of administering the facility for capital punishment (injection, electric chair, etc.) and even factor in the lengthy automatic appeal process and associated public defender salaries, it is still millions of dollars cheaper than housing an inmate (facility, food, exercise, staffing, etc.) for say 50 years on average. He goes on to say that the death penalty does not deter crime. Even the most in depth studies of recidivism rates and fluctuating 10-year crime patterns from the FBI's Bureau of Justice Statistics could not make a direct correlation. My favorite argument in favor of the death penalty being a deterrent surprisingly comes from Matthew McConaughey's character in the film A Time To Kill: "The only thing wrong with the death penalty Ro-arke, is that we do not use it." The inference meaning that if it was applied consistently it would surely serve as a deterrent. Perhaps the only credible argument that Hundred poses against capital punishment is how do you justify use of it in a fallible system? If even one innocent person's life is taken due to the inherent subjectivity in the criminal justice and evidentiary system, does the overall end justify the means? On top of that (let's get back to comics here, folks...), there were a number of problems I had with the book. Seems kind of silly to wait like 6 months for the second issue of a *two* issue series that could have just as easily been handled as recurring flashback sequences in the main book. I said this before, but it still rings true... why go through the bother of securing wonderfully talented Chris Sprouse as artist if all he's going to do is copy regular artist Tony Harris' style? I buy a Chris Sprouse art book for the Chris Sprouse art, not the imitation of Harris. The biggest goof in scripting seemed to be Hundred using his machine-control based powers to reverse the tape recorder. If you tell a dog to kill someone, isn't the opposite of that that they wouldn't kill someone? Seems stupid that a writer would think the opposite of that is to kill someone different. Overall, not researched or thought out very well! Sounds like someone espousing their own personal beliefs! Brian K. Vaughan, I smell doo-doo! This project was utterly pointless. Grade D.

52: Week 6 (DC): I believe it's time to officially throw in the towel here. I did like one thing, Rip Hunter's lair. All those notes on the board and little references to the multiverse *almost* want to make me come back for more in the hope that this will start to trend up, but... there were some really tough parts to swallow here. Umm, Manthrax (yeah, nice name) saying "capisce" made no sense at all if you know Italian. One would actually say "Io capito" in that context. And what the fuck was going on in China? "Man Who Stands On The Wall of Iron Breathlessly to Woman Who Caws With The Emerald Crows..." WHO CARES?! What, Black Adam? Gee, *that* didn't feel shoehorned in. There are also some bad instances of suffering from recency in here. iPod references? Haven't we learned by now that today's iPod will be tomorrow's 8-track and including those references in a comic will date it faster than leaving it on the dashboard of your car in the sun? And how many times will people have to say that the back up feature has less value than my belly button lint before something changes? Like anyone bothering to read 52 in the first place would already know all about Crisis and anyone reading 52 for the first time would be ridiculously confused, which would only be compounded by the convoluted nature of the back up story! I mean, come on! Let's take a DC character with one of the most confusing histories (Donna Troy: umm, I think she was molded from clay by the gods, then she was Wonder Girl, then she replaced Diana as Wonder Woman, then she was mortal, then she wasn't, then she was a Teen Titan, then she was Troia, then she changed costumes 3 times, then she had cosmic powers, then she was a god, then I don't know, then she went into space and became a Darkstar, oh wait, they're not around anymore, now she's replacing Diana again as Wonder Woman, but where the fuck is she in this story...) and have her explain all about the various incarnations of the Justice League and the multiverse vis-a-vis Pre- and Post-Crisis continuity? The Monitor, Anti-Monitor, and the Psycho-Pirate? Are you fucking kidding me? Avoids the F only because of the Rip Hunter scene, Grade D-.

Squadron Supreme #4 (Marvel): This book has quickly degenerated into generic superheroics. It is a far cry from the insightful, slightly counterculture, intelligent paradigm analysis it was under the MAX line. Gone is the understated subtlety that was intriquing. Here we have... an unwieldy cast that lacks focus. Overwrought political analogues. Overstated plot points. Horrible panel transitions (Where did those roses come from? Why was there no puke when all the soldiers were incapacitated?). Hokey dialogue like "...as the kids say, woofing one's cookies." What kids exactly talk like that? Insulting the audience (Ohh, I get it! She was raped and her dad beat her so now she's a hero!). That's not character development, that's called cliche. And Gary Frank's strong art is terribly hindered by poorly scripted, boring fight sequences and people standing around expousing. Time to throw in the towel on yet another. "F" Squadron Supreme and long live my Supreme Power trades under the MAX line. What a disappointment, this used to be one of my favorite books. The only interesting thing about this book was a house ad for Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr.'s Eternals. Check, please. Grade F.

Checkmate #3 (DC): I want to believe that this book is just borderline enough for me to keep buying it, as it struggles to prove to me that it has some redeeming qualities. But the theme this week sure seems to be clear, make some decisions about what you support. Vote with your wallet. There just isn't enough here for me to continue to reward financially in good conscience. Third issue and already a wonky fill in artist with a poor mastery of perspective that I've never heard of. The sheer magnitude of characters and code names (known as the "White King's Bishop to Black Queen's Knight" factor) has officially become annoying and something I don't care enough about to devote the time to memorizing. It all feels pretty inconsequential in spite of its globetrotting political aspirations. The end scene with a desperate continuity link to this week's appearance of Chinese Government superheroes in 52 was the capper. Towel. Thrown. In. Grade C-.

Captain Atom: Armageddon #9 (DC/Wildstorm): A nice tidy wrap up to this 9 issue mini-series starring The Authority, Mister Majestic, The Wildcats, Captain Atom of the DCU, and some assorted members of the Wildstorm U. I've gotta' give Editorial Director Jim Lee kudos for pulling off this quiet little coup d'etat that functionally reset the Wildstorm Universe after like 15 years of existence. Wildstorm just goes to show that a reboot can be somewhat story driven and not the empty contrived grand spectacle of its big brother DC. The board has been wiped clean for the return of many popular books, including my personal favorite, The Wildcats (starring a not-dead-yet Cole Cash as Grifter!) written by Grant Morrison and penciled by Jim Lee himself. Really exciting times. Anxious to see what they can do and will probably check out some of the other titles. Grade B+.

Civil War: Frontline #1 (Marvel): Even though this book was not released this week, I just couldn't resist bashing it. So horribly offensive that I quite literally wripped it up and threw it away, then called everyone I knew who buys comics and told them not to buy it. Murky art, boring dialogue, and severe inconsistency with Spider-Man's actions in this book and his actions just a couple weeks earlier in the main Civil War book - but those were the relatively *good* parts. And what the hell does Tony being an alcoholic have to do with unmasking himself publicly as Iron Man? That's got to be the most horrifically misplaced line of dialogue in memory. I mean, these things sucked, but they didn't make my blood boil. Here's what did. So the Marvel Civil War was basically precipitated by "some guys flying two planes" into the World Trade Center? Umm, like, I'm all for social relevance in my art and everything, but that's a fucking painful 5 year stretch. What a fucked up way to try to politicize your comic and dishonor the memory of those fallen Americans. And the kicker... so somehow this whole ordeal in fictitious superhero land equates to the West Coast Japanese Internment of WWII? I know two Japanese families personally involved with this and last time I checked they classified it as one step short of the Holocaust. So shamelessly disrespectful that I almost want to burn everthing I own with a Marvel logo. As if that's not bad enough, not only do they insinuate, they flat out make it a point to say "oh, this wasn't so bad, they had health care and food and shelter and stuff, so essentially, what's the big deal?" That's like saying they had indoor heating at Auschwitz. Jesus. Everyone at Marvel who touched this or knew about it should be so ashamed. I mean, I'm a huge advocate of Freedom of the Press, I donate annually to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, but this is downright irresponsible publishing and needs to be censored. The first ever from 13 Minutes... Grade F-.

Graphic Novel Of The Month

Vampire Loves (First Second): Joann Sfar's latest offering deserves much more than I'll have time to give it here, but I didn't want to let the month pass without mentioning this great book as my pick of the month.

Like all of Sfar's works that I've had a chance to read, it's heavily layered. On the surface, it's an entertaining tale of a down on his luck vampire who just can't seem to meet the right girl. There's monsters and shootouts and cruises and creepy lairs and imaginative characters that in and of themselves are quite fun.

Beyond those elements lies an insightful look at inter-species dating (that works just fine in place of inter-racial dating), some wonderful distinctions between how men and women perceive the modern dating scene, thoughts on compromise in relationships, and some commentary about true friendship as well. All this with a heaping dose of Sfar's great eye for page layouts and keen ear for dialogue. While not quite as direct as The Rabbi's Cat, it deserves a look for anyone that's a fan of his work. Grade A-.


6.07.06 Comics

BPRD: The Universal Machine #3 (Dark Horse): Read about half of this and was pleased to see some of Johann Krauss' origin story. Anything BPRD is not to be missed!

Wonder Woman #1 (DC): Not really much interest in the character, but when I learned that Allan Heinberg would be writing and the story would largely feature Donna Troy, I was in.

Hector Plasm: De Mortuis (Image): No idea what this was about, but when I read the last page in the shop, it certainly passed the casual flip test.

Manifest Eternity (DC/Wildstorm): Ok, let's be clear about one thing. I bought this because of Dustin Nguyen's pencils, not Scott Lobdell's writing ability.

DMZ: Volume 1 (DC/Vertigo): Really pleased to see that DC is committed to getting this brilliant book into trade dress as soon as possible. Volume one collects the first 5 issues of this Brian Wood helmed project.

Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan (Marvel): Heard nothing but wonderful things about this mini that I missed, so picking up the trade was perfect for me. Can't wait to read it!

De: Tales: Stories From Urban Brazil (Dark Horse): I'll really pick up anything from Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. Their work is so different from anything being published right now.


5.31.06 Comics

If everyone in the world bought just these 3 books this week, the industry would be in a much better place...

Queen & Country #30 (Oni Press): Operation Red Panda begins!

Local #5 (Oni Press): Brian Wood's one shots march on, this one with a Christopher Golden quote referencing Bruce Springsteen, how can you go wrong!

Uptight #1 (Fantagraphics): If you're not picking up everything that Jordan Crane does, you really don't like comics much, do you?