7.26.06 Reviews

New Avengers #22 (Marvel): This Civil War tie-in is simply amazing! Perhaps the best of the tie-in books that I've encountered to date. The focus is on Luke Cage and wife Jessica Jones as Iron Man and Ms. Marvel/Warbird/Carol Danvers (what is she going by these days, anyway?) try to recruit them to side with the government and register. Jess brings up a wonderful counter-argument that is essentially, if I have powers, but I don't plan on using them, being a hero, or ever wearing a costume, what incentive is there to register? Why would I do it? Just so the government can then order me to do something? Clearly not a black or white issue. Luke also provides some solid, if a little more militant, ideas against registration. While his analogies are steeped in slavery, he is essentially begging the question, where do personal liberties stop in the name of national security? A very relevant question for this day and age. Some really interesting interpersonal dynamics, several wedges being formed, between Luke/Jess and Iron Man/Warbird, between best friends Jessica and Carol, also between Luke and Jessica as they're forced to split up while Jessica protects their baby and Luke defends his position. Freakin' amazing action sequence as SHIELD Agents promptly come to arrest Luke at the stroke of midnight when the bill becomes law. Luke stays in character without sounding "ghetto" or preachy when discussing his stance with some neighborhood kids. I literally got chills when Captain America, The Falcon, and Daredevil come to Luke's aid. Wonderful balance of thoughtful ideas and pure adrenaline rush. I can still hear those SHIELD Agents screaming for back up from the Helicarrier. Leinil Yu's art is on point with some great facial details and sketchy rendering. Check out the portrayal of Carol Danvers. Even when she's just standing in Luke and Jessica's apartment, she has a kinetic energy to her that's ready to explode. Grade A+.

52: Week Twelve (DC): Surprisingly, I find myself starting to enjoy the Rene Montoya/The Question sequences. The scripting seems a bit more interesting now, though I was distracted by a duplicated word balloon in the Khandaq sequence. Interesting idea to revive Isis. Nice to see that the DCU backups are over! Anything beats this, even a simple attempt to cover Wonder Woman's origin in just two pages. This title is looking up, but I guess my apprehension is best summed up by some retailer comments I read online. Essentially, the point was made that if a new customer came into his store looking to purchase comics, in a heads up battle of Civil War vs. 52 right now, the choice is easy. Civil War can be summed up and pitched in two sentences. 1) A tragic event occurs, innocent lives are lost, and the government decides to pass a law requiring superheroes to register. 2) Everyone in the Marvel Universe is taking sides and it's pitting friend against friend, teammate against teammate, even spouse against spouse in some cases. Try doing the same with 52... 1) Ok, so Elongated Man, right? His wife gets killed see... and umm, there's this thing called Infinite Crisis... well, there was a multiverse, ok? No wait, umm, One Year Later happens after this... and then the Charlton characters... uhh... lesbians... just watch the cricket chirps ensue. In theory, anyone can appreciate Civil War, whether comic fan or not, while the 52 event is aimed squarely at fans with a working knowledge of the DCU. Big dichotomy in approach from the Big 2. Grade B-.

Powers #19 (Marvel/ICON): I don't really recall what's going on here, been a while since the last ish. Perhaps it's time to proffer the dreaded "I'll wait for the trade!" remark with this title. It does read better collected, this felt like "all middle." The sex, fun, creative panel layouts, and lettercol keep me hanging around for the quick fix, but I don't feel like I'm getting much out of the story in these intermittent installments. Grade B.

Batman #655 (DC): Ok, Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert's first issue. Initially a little underwhelming, maybe this needs some time to get rolling. Kubert's art is... pleasant. Morrison's script is... interesting. *If* the ideas stick. You can sort of feel him trying to push the book in a new direction, I just wonder how long that's going to stay the case and isn't just the standard industry tool with long running titles - the "illusion of change," ala: The Joker getting shot. How does one survive a gunshot to the face, anyway? But, I digress. If Batman really did go an a spree and eradicate fair Gotham of evildoers, that's interesting. If Batman really does trust Tim Drake now, that could be interesting. If Alfred really is trying to push Batman to intentionally be Bruce Wayne, to learn to be himself, that has some mileage in it. I was always fascinated by the idea that the night Bruce's parents were murdered, he became Batman. He literally *is* Batman, the disguise, the fake persona, is actually Bruce Wayne. I'm assuming that's Talia on the last page by the way she casually refers to Bats as "Detective(?)" A cautiously optimistic Grade B.

Jack of Fables #1 (DC/Vertigo): He is Jack Horner. Jack of "& the Beanstalk" fame. Jack & Jill. He is Jack of Fables. This spin-off title provides a nice quick summary of the Fables corner of the Vertigo Universe and quicly brings the audience up to speed. The first person narrative was interesting to see, I was very intermittent with my reading of Fables, so perhaps I'm missing something, but this issue felt a little flat and uninteresting to me. It was a little, I don't know... smarmy? I am however, a sucker for the naked Goldilocks twist, so I'll probably give this another issue or two to try and hook me. Grade B.

Godland #12 (Image): Ha! Very ha! I should have talked to Joe Casey at the San Diego Con about this. I still don't know what the point of the ha! is. Is it ha! just for the sake of ha! or does the ha! have a purpose? Grade B-.

Fear Agent #6 (Image): Woo-hoo! Jerome Opena on art! Love it! His angular, fine style fits perfectly with this futuristic landscape that Remender has created. We find Heath and crew in the middle of a war, as he's time jumping repeatedly in an effort to target the desired outcome of the war and him personally. And he just can't get it right, it just gets more and more fucked up. Cool to see the back up stories now under the "Tales of Fear Agent" banner. If you ever wondered, what if Indiana Jones was an astronaut bug-killer... this is for you! Grade B+.

The Black Plague #1 (Boom! Studios): Ok, I'm officially tired of Fraction and Casey and everyone else making up hokey SHIELD knock-off acronyms like SLASH. Julia Bax's art is stiff and flat, just sort of lies on the page. Readers of this column will know that I'm a huge Joe Casey fan, but this is a miss, it misses by a country mile. Feels like he scribbled a drunk one-line idea onto a napkin at the Hilton bar after a con and is just cashing the check now. I almost was into the framing device of having the two old timers reminisce, but past that? Huh? Why is his costume black and yellow on the cover and then gray and red on the interior? Who's is who? What are they doing? Why are they doing it? And why am I supposed to care? No idea. I thought this was solicited as a one-shot? I thought I saw in a print ad that it was a one-shot? I thought I heard at the Image panel that it was a one-shot? Why does the last page say wait for the mini-series? Wha...?! If ever a book needed an intro or end note from the writer letting us know WTF-Mate, this was it. Oh, and a $3.99 price tag for this mess? I... don't... think... so. Grade D.

Battle Pope #9 (Image): I've kinda' been trying to warm up to Kirkman's writing. I'm almost enjoying The Walking Dead despite my aversion to zombie stuff and I kinda' enjoyed him at the Image panel at the San Diego Con. So, I decided to give him the 13 Minutes "Random Issue Test!" (patent pending). It worked for me on Strange Girl, Fear Agent, Manhunter, Kabuki, and many other fine titles that I was able to discover and I'm now loyal to. Results? Well, I laughed out loud twice. I smiled a lot. I thought it was really good art by Tony Moore, much different than the style he uses on other books, more exaggerated, almost to the point of caricature. Brilliant coloring from Val Staples. Perhaps time to pick up a trade or some other random issues. Grade B.


2006 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

Earlier this year when the 2006 Eisner Nominees were announced, I jotted down my selections and will now share the results with you. I'll be including the list of nominees, the actual winner, my own personal selection, and some random comments. Keep in mind this is not who I think *would* win based on previous trends and this year's judges, but who *should* have won. There's a difference. For those of you new around here, the Eisner Awards are the comic book equivalent of the Academy Awards, named after industry "founding father" Will Eisner.

Best Short Story

* Blood Son, by Richard Matheson, in Doomed #1 (IDW)
* Monster Slayers, by Khang Le, in Flight Vol. 2 (Image)
* Nameless, by Eric Powell, in The Goon #14 (Dark Horse)
* Operation, by Zak Sally, in The Recidivist #3 (La Mano)
* Teenage Sidekick, by Paul Pope, in Solo #3 (DC)
* Eisner Winner: Teenage Sidekick, by Paul Pope, in Solo #3 (DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: "Teenage Sidekick," by Paul Pope, in Solo #3 (DC)
* Comments: Hands down the best piece from the nominee list, very happy that Paul Pope was recognized for perfectly capturing the brilliant, young, hopeful nature of Dick Grayson.

Best Single Issue (Or One-Shot)

* The Bakers, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
* Ex Machina #11, by Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris (Wildstorm/DC)
* The Innocents, by Gipi (Fantagraphics)
* Promethea #32, by Alan Moore & JH Williams III (ABC)
* Solo #5, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
* Eisner Winner: Solo #5, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Ex Machina #11, by Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris (Wildstorm/DC)

Best Serialized Story

* Desolation Jones #1-5, by Warren Ellis & JH Williams III (Wildstorm/DC)
* Fables #36-38, 40-41, by Bill Willingham & Steve Leialoha (Vertigo/DC)
* Ex Machina #12-14, by Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris (Wildstorm/DC)
* Y: The Last Man #37-39, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra (Vertigo/DC)
* Eisner Winner: Fables #36-38, 40-41, by Bill Willingham & Steve Leialoha (Vertigo/DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Desolation Jones #1-5, by Warren Ellis & JH Williams III (Wildstorm/DC)
* Comments: Desolation Jones really needs to be recognized and since there's no way they could compete in the Best New Series category, I thought this would've been the place to do it.

Best Continuing Series

* Age of Bronze, by Eric Shanower (Image)
* Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday (Marvel)
* Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris (Wildstorm/DC)
* Fell, by Warren Ellis & Ben Templesmith (Image)
* Rocketo, by Frank Espinosa (Speakeasy)
* True Story, Swear To God, by Tom Beland, (Clib's Boy Comics)
* Eisner Winner: Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday (Marvel)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris (Wildstorm/DC)

Best Limited Series

* Nat Turner, by Kyle Baker, (Kyle Baker Publishing)
* Ocean, by Warren Ellis & Chis Sprouse (Wildstorm/DC)
* Seven Soldiers, by Grant Morrison & Various Artists (DC)
* Smoke, by Alex de Campi & Igor Kordey (IDW)
* Eisner Winner: Seven Soldiers, by Grant Morrison & Various Artists (DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Ocean, by Warren Ellis & Chris Sprouse (Wildstorm/DC)
* Comments: I think that Seven Soldiers should be disqualified on a technicality. Technically speaking, it's not complete yet, so how can we say it was the best limited series?!

Best New Series

* All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely (DC)
* Desolation Jones, by Warren Ellis & JH Williams III (Wildstorm/DC)
* Fell, by Warren Ellis & Ben Templesmith (Image)
* Rocketo, by Frank Espinosa (Speakeasy)
* Young Avengers, by Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung (Marvel)
* Eisner Winner: All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely (DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely (DC)
* Comments: Wow, tough category. All great books here. I was really close to proclaiming a tie between this title and Fell.

Best Publication For A Younger Audience

* Amelia Rules! by Jimmy Gownley (Renaissance Press)
* The Clouds Above, by Jordan Crane (Fantagraphics)
* Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius, by Chris Eliopoulous & Mark Sumerak (Marvel)
* Owly: Flying Lessons, by Andy Runton (Top Shelf)
* Spiral-Bound, by Aaron Renier (Top Shelf)
* Eisner Winner: Owly: Flying Lessons, by Andy Runton (Top Shelf)
* 13 Minutes Pick: The Clouds Above, by Jordan Crane (Fantagraphics)
* Comments: This might be my biggest disappointment this year. Jordan Crane's work really deserves a wider audience and I'm not at all impressed by Owly.

Best Anthology

* The Dark Horse Book of the Dead, edited by Scott Allie (Dark Horse)
* Flight: Volume 2, edited by Kazu Kibuishi (Image)
* Mome, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
* Solo, edited by Mark Chiarello (DC)
* 24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2005, edited by Nat Gertler (About Comics)
* Eisner Winner: Solo, edited by Mark Chiarello (DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Solo, edited by Mark Chiarello (DC)
* Comments: Again, a tough category. Selfishly, I'd like to see the 24 Hour Comics Day Anthology here since I have a piece in it. ;-) But, for me it was really between Flight and Solo. Perhaps this will make DC reconsider the cancellation of Solo, or at the very least urge them to print a collected edition.

Best Digital Comic

* Copper, by Kazu Kibuishi
* Jellaby, by Kean Soo
* Ojingogo, by Matt Forsythe
* PVP, by Scott Kurtz
* Eisner Winner: PVP, by Scott Kurtz
* 13 Minutes Pick: Copper, by Kazu Kibuishi

Best Reality-Based Work

* Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
* Epileptic, by David B. (Pantheon)
* Nat Turner, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
* Pyongyang, by Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly)
* True Story, Swear To God, by Tom Beland (Clib's Boy Comics)
* Eisner Winner: Nat Turner, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)

Best Graphic Album - New

* Acme Novelty Library #16, by Chris Ware (ACME Novelty)
* The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
* Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, by Alan Moore & Gene Ha (ABC)
* Tricked, by Alex Robinson (Top Shelf)
* Wimbledon Green, by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Eisner Winner: Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, by Alan Moore & Gene Ha (ABC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Tricked, by Alex Robinson (Top Shelf)
* Comments: Seems like The Rabbi's Cat was misplaced in this category since it's not technically "new." Tricked was really undervalued and I put it up there with Academy Award winning film Crash... Top Ten? Really? Read it. Didn't care...

Best Graphic Album - Reprint

* Acme Novelty Library Annual Report to Shareholders, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
* Black Hole, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
* Feast of the Seven Fishes, by Robert Tinnell (Allegheny Image Factory)
* Ice Haven, by Dan Clowes (Pantheon)
* War's End, by Joe Sacco (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Eisner Winner: Black Hole, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
* 13 Minutes Pick: War's End, by Joe Sacco (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Comments: When-oh-when will Joe Sacco win anything? They should be dissecting his work on college campuses everywhere.

Best Archival Collection/Project - Comic Strips

* The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel)
* The Complete Peanuts, 1955-1958, by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics)
* Krazy & Ignatz: The Komplete Kat Komics, by George Herriman (Fantagraphics)
* Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press Books)
* Walk & Skeezix, by Frank King (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Eisner Winner: The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel)
* 13 Minutes Pick: The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel)

Best Archival Collection/Project - Comic Books

* Absolute Watchmen, by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons (DC)
* Buddha, Volumes 5-8, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
* The Contract With God Trilogy, by Will Eisner (Norton)
* DC Comics Rarities Archives, Volume 1 (DC)
* Fantastic Four Omnibus, by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby (Marvel)
* Eisner Winner: Absolute Watchmen, by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons (DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Fantastic Four Omnibus, by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby (Marvel)
* Comments: Dude, seriously. Watchmen was a brilliant post-modern analyzation of the superhero paradigm. We get it already. It was like 20 years ago too. Get over it. FF invented and defined the Silver/Atomic/Marvel age. I hope Marvel continues a *selective* offering of their Omnibus Editions.

Best US Edition of Foreign Material

* Cromartie High School, by Eiji Nonaka (ADV)
* Dungeon: The Early Years, by Joann Sfar & Lewis Trondheim (NBM)
* Ordinary Victories, by Manu Larcenet (NBM)
* The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
* Six Hundred Seventy-Six Apparitions of Killoffer, by Killoffer (Typocrat)
* Eisner Winner: The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
* 13 Minutes Pick: The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
* Comments: Yes! Though I loved Ordinary Victories as well, The Rabbi's Cat is finally here winning in the correct category!

Best Writer

* Warren Ellis, Fell (Image); Down (Top Cow); Desolation Jones, Ocean, Planetary (Wildstorm/DC)
* Allan Heinberg , Young Avengers (Marvel)
* Alan Moore, Promethea, Top Ten (ABC)
* Grant Morrison, Seven Soldiers, All Star Superman (DC)
* Brian K. Vaughan, Ex Machina (Wildstorm/DC); Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC); Runaways (Marvel)
* Eisner Winner: Alan Moore, Promethea, Top Ten (ABC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Warren Ellis, Fell (Image); Down (Top Cow); Desolation Jones, Ocean, Planetary (Wildstorm/DC)

Best Writer/Artist

* Geoff Darrow, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman Entertainment)
* Guy Delisle, Pyongyang (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Eric Shanower, Age of Bronze (Image)
* Adrian Tomine, Optic Nerve #10 (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)
* Eisner Winner: Geoff Darrow, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman Entertainment)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Geoff Darrow, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman Entertainment)

Best Writer/Artist - Humor

* Kyle Baker, Plastic Man (DC)
* Paige Braddock, Jane's World (Girl Twirl)
* Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Oni Press)
* Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
* Seth, Wimbledon Green (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Eisner Winner: Kyle Baker, Plastic Man (DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)

Best Penciller/Inker

* John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Planetary (Wildstorm/DC)
* Gene Ha, Top Ten: The Forty-Niners (ABC)
* JG Jones, Wanted (Top Cow)
* Frank Quitely, All Star Superman (DC)
* JH Williams III, Promethea, Desolation Jones (Wildstorm/DC)
* Eisner Winner: John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Planetary (Wildstorm/DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Planetary (Wildstorm/DC)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (Interior Art)

* Paul Guinan, Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate (IDW)
* Ladronn, Hip Flask: Mystery City (Active Images)
* Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image)
* Kent Williams, The Fountain (Vertigo/DC)
* Eisner Winner: Ladronn, Hip Flask: Mystery City (Active Images)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image)

Best Cover Artist

* Frank Espinosa, Rocketo (Speakeasy)
* Tony Harris, Ex Machina (Wildstorm/DC)
* James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC)
* Jock, The Losers (DC)
* Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
* Eisner Winner: James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC)
* 13 Minutes Pick: James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC)

Best Coloring

* Jeremy Cox, Teen Titans (DC)
* Steven Griffin, Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort (Image)
* Steve Hamaker, Bone: The Great Cow Race (Scholastic Graphix)
* Jose Villarubia, Desolation Jones (Wildstorm/DC)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)
* Eisner Winner: Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Jose Villarubia, Desolation Jones (Wildstorm/DC)

Best Lettering

* Chris Eliopolis, Ultimate Iron Man, Astonishing X-Men, Franklin Richards (Marvel); Fell (Image)
* Todd Klein, Wonder Woman, Justice (DC); Desolation Jones (Wildstorm/DC); 1602: New World (Marvel)
* Richard Starkings, Conan, Revelations (Dark Horse); Godland (Image)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)
* Eisner Winner: Todd Klein, Wonder Woman, Justice (DC); Desolation Jones (Wildstorm/DC); 1602: New World (Marvel)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Richard Starkings, Conan, Revelations (Dark Horse); Godland (Image)
* Comments: Come on, Starkings has become like the industry standard.

Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition

* Dawn Brown (Ravenous, Little Red Hot)
* Aaron Renier (Spiral-Bound)
* Zak Sally (Recidivist)
* Ursula Vernon (Digger)
* Eisner Winner: Aaron Renier (Spiral-Bound)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Aaron Renier (Spiral-Bound)

Best Comics Related Periodical

* Comic Art, edited by M. Todd Hignite (Comic Art)
* Comic Book Artist, edited by Jon Cooke (Top Shelf)
* The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
* Draw! edited by Michael Manley (TwoMorrows)
* Following Cerebus, edited by Craig Miller (Aardvark-Vanaheim)
* Eisner Winner: Comic Book Artist, edited by Jon Cooke (Top Shelf)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Comic Art, edited by M. Todd Hignite (Comic Art)

Best Comics Related Book

* The Comics Journal Library: Classic Comic Illustrators, edited by Tom Spurgeon (Fantagraphics)
* Eisner/Miller, edited by Diana Schutz (Dark Horse)
* Foul Play: The Art & Artists of the Notorious 1950's EC Comics, by Grant Geissman (Harper Design)
* Masters of American Comics, edited by John Carlin (Hammer Museum/MOCA Los Angeles/Yale University Press)
* RGK: Art of Roy G. Krenkel, edited by J. David Spurlock (Vanguard)
* Eisner Winner: Eisner/Miller, edited by Diana Schutz (Dark Horse)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Eisner/Miller, edited by Diana Schutz (Dark Horse)
* Comments: Where was Tom Spurgeon's other book, Graphic Novels: Stories to Change Your Life? I would have voted for that.

Best Publication Design

* Acme Novelty Library Annual Report to Shareholders, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
* Little Nemo in Slumberland, designed by Philippe Ghuilemetti (Sunday Press Books)
* Promethea #32, designed by JH Williams III (ABC)
* Walt & Skeezix, designed by Chris Ware (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Wimbledon Green, designed by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Eisner Winner: (Tie) Acme Novelty Library Annual Report to Shareholders, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon) & Little Nemo in Slumberland, designed by Philippe Ghuilemetti (Sunday Press Books)
* 13 Minutes Pick: Acme Novelty Library Annual Report to Shareholders, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

No major upsets here except maybe Jordan Crane's The Clouds Above (I did expect the panel to vote for Owly, but was secretly hoping this book would make a run). I would liked to have seen Fell get some more recognition, but there was tough competition in most categories. From a writing perspective, I think Ellis is much more consistent lately and would have picked him over Moore for Best Writer. In terms of painting, I would have given this one to Ben Templesmith. Ladronn's stuff is nice, but in terms of pure panel to panel storytelling I think Ben wins this hands down. Fell did get me thinking, wouldn't it be nice to have a Best Format category? I don't think that's necessarily covered in the last category of Best Publication Design. I'm thinking of more company driven formats like the Fell pricing structure, the Absolute Editions, some of the 25-cent issues that came out, etc.

Overall, I went 11/27 based solely on my personal tastes, again, not the way I thought the panel would vote, but the way I thought they *should* vote. I think that's right on. I tend to have a few "mainstream" titles I follow that receive critical praise, as well as some small press titles that are wildly divergent from what was even nominated, so a nice representative balance. I was also impressed with myself in that there were very, very, very few nominess that I had not read. Mostly the books under the Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition category, which makes sense. Well, that's it folks, be sure to check out reviews of many of these books here at 13 Minutes and pick from anything on the list for a good time! Thanks!

San Diego Comic Con International Report

On Saturday, I attended what is considered the US Mecca for comic books and all things pop culture. I've been faithfully attending San Francisco's Wondercon and the Alternative Press Expo (APE) for years, but it's been about 7 years since I went to the San Diego show. It was interesting to attend as a San Diego local now and having worked several events at this venue supporting my "real job," it was great to intuitively know my way around. Here are a few highlights;

* The Pre-Registration process seems to be working well. Though there was an overwhelming looking series of lines outside the convention center and a slight lack of signage denoting which was which, once you were in the correct line, they moved very efficiently. Within about 10 minutes, I had my barcode scanned, was fully badged, and was in. Even had time to drop off some business cards advertising this site onto the freebie tables preceding the exhibit halls.

* First stop was the Oni Press Panel, where I had a chance to ask Editor James Lucas Jones about the fate of the Queen & Country: Declassified mini-series hardcovers. Essentially, he reported that there was a printing snafu and the books would indeed be printed in the crimson and gold editions. That's breaking news folks; you heard it here first!

* Caught the last few minutes of the Cup O' Joe Panel with Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada discussing Civil War. Surprisingly, I found Quesada to be an eloquent and thoughtful speaker. He laid out some hypothetical scenarios that had people instantly flipflopping on whether or not they'd be pro or anti the Superhero Registration Act. He quickly proved that like any art form, we have the ability to spark controversy and generate debate.

* Was pleased to see Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls for sale in at least two different booths on the main floor. Though the price varied from $60 to $75, it was great to see retailers unafraid to carry this title. I was really tempted to buy one to reward this practice, but having already pre-ordered one online from Top Shelf, I decided to act fiscally responsible and wait another couple of weeks.

* Attended a great DCU Panel hosted by Executive Editor Dan DiDio and Publisher Paul Levitz. Many top name creators including Grant Morrison, Judd Winick, Gail Simone, Ivan Reiss, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, and a few I'm forgetting. DiDio was quite entertaining, bouncing between audience questions and interactive questions to the panel. Not much in the way of big announcements, but a fun time. That Grant Morrison is one hell of a zany Scotsman. Oh, and Bill Willingham said he would "kill a yak" for a chance to do a Mister Miracle book. Come on DiDio, he told you twice! Let him do it! Let anyone do a Mister Miracle book!

* Bumped into pal Tim Goodyear, who penciled my first self-published book - The Mercy Killing, published by Royal 129 Comics - at the Sparkplug Comics booth. He was pushing the new Dash Shaw book published by our regular label, Hidden Agenda Press, as well as his own sketchbook from his travels during the last year.

* The Image Comics Panel was surprisingly dull as they showed a PowerPoint slideshow with some upcoming projects. And there was Publisher Erik Larsen. I don't like Erik Larsen's book Savage Dragon, I don't think he's a particularly good writer, I've never warmed to his penciling style, I don't like his weekly column over at CBR, and I think he's really obnoxious in person. *However,* since he's taken over as Publisher at Image, there has been a great shift in direction at the company and he's been able to green light some projects that I'm really enjoying. There is no denying he has a brilliant eye for talent and is really top notch at this role. So there ya' go, a fairly balanced opinion. And that Joe Casey. Wow. He is one handsome looking devil. A charming, brilliant, cool, likable rogue. Pleased to see he'll have a couple of new projects due out in 2007.

* Had a chance to chat with Christopher Mitten at the Oni Press Booth. Picked up a copy of Wasteland, signed by writer Antony Johnston, cover artist Steve Niles, as well as interior artist Mitten. Was nice to tell Chris in person that I really dug his pencils on his arc of the Queen & Country: Declassified mini-series. He was genuinely appreciative, struck me as a humble guy, and I think I made his day. He didn't seem used to this type of exposure, which was an unexpected little dose of humanity amid the grand spectacle of the San Diego Con.

* Had an interesting chat with Christian Gossett at The Red Star Booth. Apparently there was a printing snafu with the third hardcover edition of the series, Prison of Souls (that's the gray colored one, not the black or white one, for anyone keeping score here), and "less than 160" were actually printed. Well, I have one. Christian himself wasn't even able to get his hands on one, and he offered to buy mine if I ever wanted to part with it. Having already purchased everything in The Red Star stable, whether comics or merchandising, I felt compelled to yet again support them. I found a limited edition promo poster from 1999 for the original series. There were only 50 of these made, signed and numbered by Goss, and I now own #39(!).

* Saw some random people floating around the main floor, including Jon Favreau, Mick Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and all the Stormtroopers you could shake a stick at. Actually, the creepy weird dress-up factor was pretty tame. Sure, I saw some sad looking Nightcrawlers, some bad renditions of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly, one decent Blue Sun Corporation t-shirt from same, a depressed Gambit, and a Rogue that I had only two words for: "Stair. Master." But overall, nothing too ridiculous or annoying. At one point, I stumbled upon about half a dozen girls dressed rather skimpily as fairies. They looked delicious. Quite delicious indeed.

* Caught the last half of a Writing Panel with Judd Winick, Geoff Johns, Brad Meltzer, and Mark Waid. It was so refreshing to see that these guys (who are all friends in real life), despite their careers now in full swing, are totally genuine, humble, and still down to earth. They offered up some great tried and true advice, that was essentially "write what you know," and "read everything in every medium you can get your hands on," and "writer's write," and "the best way to break in is to self-publish," but they had a way of putting their own spin on it and infusing it with real world successes and failures that is sure to inspire hope to all of us budding writers out there. Really enjoyed this one. It was a nice way to wind down the evening after enjoying a few beers and some good food. Judd also mentioned that he would love to get back to his roots and do some more Barry Ween. Wouldn't that be cool!

* Iended the night a little after 10pm, by shutting down the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's (CBLDF) Annual Charity Auction. All proceeds are donated to the fund in support of the legal defenses for retailers being randomly selected for ridiculous persecution. The current Gordon Lee case, MC/Auctioneer Peter David reported, surrounds a public nudity law so lame that "someone could be fined and jailed for sending a Valentine's Day card via US Mail that had a naked cherub on it." We actually set a new record this year by generating more than $26,000 toward the fund. I say "we" because it was really a combination of two items that put the dollar amount over the top. An art dealer purchased a single Frank Miller original art cover for $7,000, and I was able to pick up two signed special edition scripts of Checkmate, signed by Greg Rucka for a mere $60. So ya' know... "we" did this thing. ;-) Seriously though, it was great to contribute to this cause and it was pretty fun watching people tangle up on bidding, clapping, hooting, and hollering when the bidding would skyrocket. The rowdiness of the crowd seemed to fire people up even more and squeeze additional bids out of them, all for a good cause.

* No real regrets. I noticed in hindsight that I robably only spent a total of maybe 3 hours on the main floor, everything else was dedicated to panels or events. And that was a pretty cool balance considering that the majority of the show has now been co-opted by movie studios, video games, gaming, merchandising, and many things that are interesting in terms of pop culture, but not necessarily comics. Sort of makes me long for the APE in San Francisco, which is still decidedly about indy publishers. Publishers of good ol' comic books. If I had more time to spend at San Diego, I probably would've taken a stroll through Artist's Alley, done one more complete lap around the main floor, tried to spend more time chatting it up with the indy creators, trying their stuff, pitching scripts, and trying to find artists to collaborate with. I might have purchased the new Yoshihiro Tatsumi book from Drawn & Quarterly, or even that cool new Transformer (the Ford GT!), but those are all nice to haves, not need to haves. Next year, I'll definitely use my Press Pass, and also decided to make an effort to attend the Eisner Awards. But, I certainly feel like the experience was complete!


7.19.06 Reviews

Justice League of America #0 (DC): This would have been good... if it was $1. For full price, I can't quite recommend it wholeheartedly. Don't get me wrong, there are some really precious moments here (Diana comforting Bruce after Superman "dies"), wonderful snippets of dialogue ("Beetle laughed. So did Miracle. And J'onn smiled."), great panels of art (JLA/JSA team up, Tony Harris' page, etc.), but... As with most books like this that boast an "All Star Cast of Artists!" I find myself distracted by constantly trying to guess who did which pages without looking. The constant flashes to and fro through the multiverse were a bit jarring as well. I really am a sucker for a good "let's get the new team together" hook, and this one had that rich feeling, especially the last page. I also liked the inherent message that despite whatever may come, the League carries on. The League endures. The idea should outlast the participants. I just think that you shouldn't charge full price for a book unless you intend to tell a real story. This was a promo issue, so it needed a promo price. As is, Grade C+.

Civil War #3 (Marvel): This is still a surprisingly fun ride, Millar and Company are holding this event together somehow and it hasn't jumped the shark yet. McNiven's art continues to grow with every issue and he's absolutely on fire here with flashes of Jim Lee/Travis Charest/John Cassaday detail, clarity, and refinement. This business with Tony acting as father figure to Peter is steadily growing more creepy and disturbing, building him the new Spidey armor, his arm around the lad proudly, it's as if he's being deliberately manipulated for some reason, I'm curious to see how that plays out. I like the very "in character" refusals of Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Emma Frost & The X-Men to participate in the government backed witchhunt. Nice little tidbits dropping like Tony and Emma having a "friends with benefits" type of set up. Hot! Loved the trap within a trap set up that proves Tony is a little too arrogant and Steve is a little more crafty than he gets credit for. "Is Mary Jane happy about the Sandman having her zip code now?" sort of sums up what's at stake here, doesn't it? I was so moved by Hercules, I know, of all people! But seeing him passionately blow through She-Hulk and Spidey to try and aid Cap was pretty emotional. I was really diggin' it until the end. *Semi-Spoiler Alert* here, but that person showing up seemed very contrived, very gimmicky, and I won't be satisfied or accept it until someone sufficiently explains where the hell he's been this whole time. And wouldn't he naturally side with Steve/Captain America instead of Tony/Iron Man? I'm no Avengers continuity hound, but weren't they always closer? Grade B+.

X-Factor #9 (Marvel): Very good issue. Great continuity with the above Civil War conversation between Tony Stark and Emma. Jaime proves to be a very engaging leader of the team as he struggles with his usual inability to make a command decision. Officially, the X-Men have refused to take a side in Civil War, Emma telling Tony that she wouldn't support the witchhunt, but also would not overtly back Captain America and the rebels either. Jaime is forced into a situation where has to pick a side and valiantly proclaims that X-Factor will publicly come out against the Superhuman Registration Act. The point is driven home here that neutrality and sitting one out may achieve some short term comfort, but "all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." Utlimately this ends in a nice believable draw as Cyclops orders the X-Men to stand down. Art is okay, but still feels a bit inconsistent. There are a few panels where I can appreciate Calero's otherwise pleasant style (and his use of David Duchovny as photo reference for Jaime), but some other panels where I just cringe and go "eww!" Grade B.

The Eternals #2 (Marvel): First off, I just thought it was... silly... to name this issue "Identity Crisis." And that's all I have to say about that. Despite not a whole lot of plot advancement, this book has a really subtle charm to it: "Not now, cute boy. I'm working." I mean, that's just very sweet and likable. All in all, I'm interested, but not like, blown away. Grade B.

Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters #1 (DC): Oh, I don't know, guys. Tons of expository dialogue to fight through. Overly staged intros of the characters. The dialogue feels like I'm actually talking directly to the writer about his views on civil liberties, the war on terror, and the current political climate. He doesn't even bother to humor us and use the characters as thinly veiled ciphers, he just lays his opinions right out there on the table. Feels quite agenda-laden. The art lost some of the moody charm it seemed to have in the Brave New World 80-pager and feels really rushed toward the end of the book. A single panel and line of dialogue sorta' caught my attention and made me smile, Phantom Lady downing her martini and quipping: "Believe me, sexy... if you knew half of the crap I know, you'd understand why I party every night like it's the end of the world." But then we bounce right to some confusing bits about Father Time and Uncle Sam. Oh, and by the way, the second that an armed perpetrator exhibits the "willingness, ability, and means" to commit a hostile act, standard Secret Service protocol is to immediately extract the protectee. No way in hell the Senator would have just sat there after shots were fired. That's just dumb. Overall, this was just (insert word that conveys disappointment, boredom, and anger). I thumbed through repeatedly trying to find some sort of redeeming quality, but alas, Grade F.

The Red Star: Sword of Lies #1 (Archangel Studios): This is sort of like having a hot girlfriend who joined the Peace Corps. I mean, you two really had some chemistry back in the day. She was unlike anything you'd ever tasted before. And here she is, finally visiting you for the summer. You're ecstatic at first, your eyes light up. You're so delighted to see her again, you just want to fondle her, and hold her, and caress her, and breathe her in, just be in her presence for a brief moment in time. But it's been so long, you realize you have to struggle to really understand her anymore. Those natural rhythms you used to fall into so easily together now require effort. Then it hits you that she's going to probably go off to Kiribati or Madagascar or Mumbai or somewhere again for two years, and it'll be a while before you see her again, and even then it will still have this bittersweet awkwardness to it, so you begin to question why you're still calling her your girlfriend in the first place. We'll always have an unspoken connection honey, and I'd love to spend the weekend with you when you're in town, but I don't think I can do this anymore. Grade B-.

Iron Man: Extremis Hardcover (Marvel): For my money, this is the best Iron Man tale in recent memory. An inventive, brutal, realistic, and insightful take on Tony Stark and his motivation. Grade A.

24Seven TPB (Image): Very interesting looking collection of sci-fi/robot themed stories, tons of great contributors, anxious to read it!

The Walking Dead: Volume 1 Hardcover (Image): Never was a big zombie guy, and I don't seem to be as blown away by Kirkman's writing as most are, but this was a really attractive package and $30 for a hardcover housing 12 issues seemed like a pretty darn good deal to me. As Roger Ebert says, a movie, book, or TV show isn't "about what it's about, it's about *how* it's about what it's about," in other words the true value of a work of art is not in its subject matter, but in the execution. Anxious to read this in one sitting and not the few stray issues I've tried before.


Scott Mills Trifecta

Wanted to take a moment to comment on these three books that I picked up at the Lee's Comics 24th Anniversary Sale. What a deal! These were buy one, get *two* free!

Big Clay Pot (Top Shelf): This book chronicles an unrequited romance between a poor Korean immigrant girl and the kind Japanese man that takes her in. Their relationship blossoms into a strong friendship and ultimately this is a nice portrayal of the complexities of emotion possible between two people that never physically consummate their affection. Mills also poses some very interesting theories on art styles during this period of Japanese history. Grade B.

Trenches (Top Shelf): Like most of Mill's work, this tale of trench warfare in World War I is deceptively simple. This book follows three soldiers, one intentionally named Hemingway, with different backgrounds as their paths converge during the war. The subtle depiction of the brutality, lasting repercussions, and frank nature of modern warfare is intense. Mills' linework is ostensibly cartoony, simple, and almost crude, but perfectly depicts the wide range of emotions associated with the horror of war, and of the human experience in general. Grade B+.

The Masterplan (Top Shelf): Lots of theories at work here as a scientist with a God complex toys with the very fabric of the space-time continuum, seeking to create his own "Big Bang," singularity events, and jump through time to seek out his ex-wife. Some nice commentary on the power of the cosmos being infinitely more complex than man can hope to grasp and the evolving nature of the human species. I was struck by the concept of being in deep sleep for 40,000 years awakening to a new galaxy, as well as the adventures of the "sidekick" brother/Priest. Grade B.


7.12.06 Reviews

The Escapists #1 (Dark Horse): I read Michael Chabon's novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I didn't really see what all the ballyhoo was about, it actually bored me. I read early issues of The Escapist from Dark Horse with the same result. It was just quite boring, couldn't get into it at all. This however, was quite a pleasant surprise. With it's Frank Miller cover, and Brian K. Vaughan script, it's exceptionally strong Philip Bond art, and 4th wall breaking moments with the writer speaking directly to the audience, I loved it! I love the way it weaves in a little of the Steven T. Seagle style from It's A Bird and chronicles a writer's interest in bringing a new take on an old character. This is first rate. Anxiously awaiting more. And? It's only $1! Grade A.

The Next #1 (DC): Wow, that was boring as hell. Feels like writer Tad Williams is trying to channel some Grant Morrison-esque high concepts, but it all falls really flat. Very difficult to get through the first few pages, cliched protagonist origin, and I was basically tuned out by the 5th page. A living embodiment of Mount Rushmore quickly caught my eye, but that gave way to... err, some other stuff. Ended with a nonsensical appearance by Superman and Metron. Would have been better off with a full comic about the dead US Presidents on Mount Rushmore teaming up, ala Fraction's recent Five Fists of Science. Grade D+.

Scarlet Traces: The Great Game #1 (Dark Horse): I was mildly intrigued by the first Graphic Novel of this title by Ian Edginton and D'israeli. Alas, gone is the Victorian charm, sharp inking, and engaging dialogue. Here we have a generic 1940's backdrop, stiff dialogue, loads of text to wade through with little advancement of the plot, and some "squishy" looking art that I'll blame on the rendering (whether inking or coloring) and give usually strong D'israeli the benefit of the doubt. Grade C-.

Snake Woman #1 (Virgin Comics): Well, I've been waiting for a good Virgin to get behind. Heh. Finally a Virgin Comics title that shows some promise. I was quite underwhelmed by everything in their free preview issue (which this was not a part of), but this cover caught my eye. Once I discovered that it was written by Zeb "Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan" Wells and penciled by Michael "Alias" Gaydos, I was in. I like the offbeat characters, the subtle use of Indian Mythology, and Gaydos' panel layouts and art are just a joy to experience. Pretty standard "origin" story as an unsuspecting soul is imbued with powers, but we'll see where it goes. Grade B.

DMZ #9 (DC/Vertigo): I have nothing that interesting to say about this, except that it was excellent. This title is quite strong. Unique art, great pacing, surprises, tight scripts, and loads of social commentary as Matty the embedded journalist continues to navigate between the Free States of America, the insurgents, and the Manhattan DMZ. Why aren't you buying this book? Grade A.

Shaolin Cowboy #6 (Burlyman Entertainment): What we got here is an entire issue that is essentially and extended fight scene between a shark with a sword wielding skull in its mouth and a guy with a long stick that has two chainsaws attached to either end. Surprisingly, this is a very, very, very good thing. Grade A-.

I also picked up;

Small Gods: Volume 1 TPB (Image): Loved the first issue that I picked up from the Lee's sale so much that I sprung for the first trade, excited to check it out!

Flight: Volume 3 TPB (Ballantine Books):
Eager to check this out. Usually makes my Top 10 list for the year, troubling that Image didn't put it out though and my local retailer didn't order many, and there's been zero fanfare.

The Left Bank Gang (Fantagraphics): Yay! Another book from the Norwegian demi-god of comic goodness, Jason. And this one is also in color!


Why Lee's Reigns Supreme

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Lee's Comics 24th Anniversary Sale. The event was held in both the Mountain View and San Mateo, CA locations. I arrived early in Mountain View and had a leisurely wait at the deli next door. I sat outside in the sun, sipped my coffee and perused The Metro, a weekly Bay Area paper that I sincerely miss since moving to San Diego. I watched Lee & Company set up the outdoor tables and prepare for the event as a crowd started to form a half hour before opening. It was just an amazing sale.

After receiving my free Lee's Comics pen and free package of comic bags, the chaos ensued. About 10 long boxes of recent books for a mere .24 cents each! Graphic Novels? How about another 10 long boxes, and they were buy one, get *two* free! I spent about 45 minutes outside on these attractions, before having to leave to meet some friends for brunch. Due to the time constraints, I never even made it into the store (though I'd been the Wednesday before and had a chance to preview some of the clearance items so I didn't feel too bad), but from what I could see there were dozens of customers and even more goodies! 24% off on wall books and back issues, 24% off of already low priced clearance items.

Lee is consistently eager to provide these types of events and that separates him from most retailers. He views this as a win-win opportunity all around. It allows him to clear some floor space, purge slow moving inventory, and generate an influx of quick cash that he can redistribute into other areas. Simultaneously, it provides a wonderful "thank you" to his customers, allowing them to get some real bargains, try some books they might not normally, and even though this can lead to future sales, we're always grateful for the opportunity and don't view it as a lost leader.

Lee mastered breadth and depth of inventory long ago. He perfected customer service ages before others recognized it was crucial. The "long view" of the industry has allowed Lee to really understand and cultivate customer loyalty with events like this. He just gets the concept of the "lifetime value" of a customer.

Nobody does it like Lee's.

Ok, on to the books! So for a mere $46.41 (that's including tax and my free pen and bags), I was able to pick up *all* of the following. No reviews (though some entries do have some quick notes), but just allow the sheer magnitude of these books to wash over you! Feel what a wonderful and inexpensive experience this is, to have the chance to explore all of these titles for a mere 40 bones.

Single Issues

Jack Cross #1 & 3 (DC): You can really feel Warren Ellis practicing for Fell here. Nice oblique Planetary references, a look at psychological motivation, and expressive art from Gary Erskine. Will probably pick up some more issues of this title that I overlooked.

Berlin #11 (Drawn & Quarterly): I own the first trade of Jason Lutes' masterpiece about artisans and travelers inhabiting pre-war Germany. This is a real find for .24 cents.

Fragile Prophet #1 (Lost in the Dark Press): I met these guys at the last Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco, where they were debuting their first book, Video. This was an interesting read about a child who has a real world developmental disorder known as Fragile X Syndrome.

Batman/Danger Girl #1 (DC/Wildstorm): Ok, I admit it. This is a total guilty pleasure. Hokey, tongue in cheek story with beautifully sexy art from Leinil Yu.

Batman: Jekyll & Hyde #1 & 2 (DC): Surprisingly insightful mystery from Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee that really hones in on the psychological duality inherent to man. One minor quibble, anyone that's worked a day in law enforcement will tell you it's blood "spatter," not blood "splatter" at a crime scene. Come on guys, Bats would know better. Will probably pick up the rest of this 6 issue mini.

Grimjack: Killer Instinct #1 (IDW): I remembered a vague interest for Grimjack back in the First Comics days, when they had some interesting properties like Dreadstar and Nexus. This, however, should have stayed at Lee's. Rips off everything from Star Wars, to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to Sandman.

Team Zero #1 & 4 (DC/Wildstorm): Hey, I'll try anything written by Chuck Dixon.

Captain Gravity & The Power of the Vril #3, 5, 6 (Penny-Farthing Press): Despite that title being quite a mouthful, this series grew on me. It's got a real retro, Rocketeer, Indiana Jones, Nazi villain sort of flair which is really complemented by Sal Velluto's art. Last time he was working was, what? Justice League Task Force or Black Panther or something?

The Cisco Kid #1 & 2 (Moonstone): Ok, I really am a sucker for a well done Western, which this was not. Rips off everything from Clint Eastwood to Charles Bronson, and back to some other Sergio Leone "Spaghetti Western" tropes. Some interesting and experimental Dennis Calero art, and lots of typos, like "brinstone" instead of "brimstone" in the indicia. Yes, in the indicia, come on.

Small Gods #1, 6, 7, 9, 10 (Image): I was *totally* captivated by the 4th page or so of the first issue. Very engaging take on cops who have pre-cognitive abilities and how that would play out socially. Wonderful back up story that just tugged at my heart and made me want to support this title. I'll be seeking out the issues I'm missing of this under-the-radar-screen book from Jason Rand. The most pleasant surprise in this lot so far.

Rex Mundi #10, 11, 14 (Image): I hear good things about this book, so I'll give it a shot!

Gloomcookie #2, 23, 24 (Slave Labor Graphics): I've talked to Serena Valentino at cons, but never actually tried her book. My pals tell me if I'm buying and enjoying Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin series, then I should be eating this up.

Little Star #2 & 3 (Oni Press): A recent mini from Andi Watson, I liked some of his earlier work, and then just kinda' tuned out... we'll see if that was warranted.

The Goon #11 & 12 (Dark Horse): More goonie goodness from Eric Powell, I might have these issues in a stray trade somewhere, but for .24 cents they're good giveaways for people, even if I already have the content.

Batman: Gotham Knights #64, 67, 68 (DC): I had about the first 30 issues of this book because I thought the back up feature was such a wonderful idea. The stories are never *that* impressive, but it's a nice way to keep tabs on the Bat-family.

Green Arrow #52, 53, 55 (DC): This is what I call bathroom reading. When I need a nice entertaining quick read, I can just grab one of these and see what's going on with the Emerald Archer. Judd Winick scripts are a plus.

Manhunter #1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (DC): Marc Andreyko and Jesus Saiz's story received critical praise, but was a very poor seller for DC. This is exactly why sales like this are grand, for like a $3 investment I can pretty much read the entire canon and get caught up.

Captain America #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 (Marvel Knights): Remember what I was saying about being able to cheaply read an entire run of something? This is that series with the Cassaday art, yeah *those* Captain Americas!

Trades & Graphic Novels

Silent Dance (Slave Labor Graphics): I've read something from one of these writers before and enjoyed it, art definitely passed the casual flip test.

Kane: Volume 5 (Image): I've pretty much given up on Paul Grist's Jack Staff, so I thought I'd switch gears and give his cop drama another shot.

Son of Superman (DC/Elseworlds): Howard Chaykin. JH Williams III. Any questions?

Trenches (Top Shelf), The Masterplan (Top Shelf), Big Clay Pot (Top Shelf): This is, again, precisely why sales like this are so wonderful. I've always wanted to try more work from Scott Mills and here is the chance to do it, you're essentially getting 3 trades for the price of one! What better chance to get fully exposed to someone's work. It's just such a no risk, no brainer.

Thanks Lee!


7.05.06 Comics & Random Stuff

Business travel again last week. You know what that means. No in depth reviews, just some ramblings about what I bought and what occurred over the weekend. I do have *TONS* to say about the 24th Anniversary Sale @ Lee's Comics in Mountain View, CA so check back later tonight or early tomorrow for a post. Here's what I picked up and some misc. weekend notes!

Atom #1 (DC): Excited to read after the short in the 80 page Brave New World.

BPRD: The Black Flame TPB (Dark Horse): Awesome.

BPRD: The Universal Machine #4 (Dark Horse): Awesome. All things BPRD will usually be... awesome.

Showcase Presents: Elongated Man Volume 1 TPB (DC): Come on, it's like 500 pages of stretchy goodness for only $16.99. How can you go wrong?

OMAC #1 (DC): Another sale driven by the sample in the 80 page giant. Zero interest in the characters, but Renato Guedes' art is just too purdy.

The Leading Man (Image): Super excited about this follow up project from B. Clay Moore and Jeremy Haun of Battle Hymn fame. Dig that promotional art with a faux GQ cover!!!

Detective Comics #821 (DC): Wow, been years since I felt compelled to pick up an issue of 'Tec, but with Paul Dini writing and local boy done good, JH Williams III (went to the same high school as him, you know!), I just couldn't resist. Looks nice!

Flight: Volume 3 (Image): Saw this solicited in Diamond, but didn't find it at the store, did this not come out? Doubt I would have missed it at Lee's, they typically order plenty of copies. Seems there have been some misfires with Image solicits the last few weeks. The Leading Man was solicited two weeks in a row mistakenly before it finally shipped...

Dark Horse: Twenty Years (Dark Horse): I was excited to see another .25 cent book from Dark Horse and the Mignola cover showcasing a plethora of DH characters was neat, but was aghast to find a pin up book when I opened it. Some nice pinups, but even for a quarter seemed like a grand waste of time.

As I said above, there is a huge post brewing about the short box full of books I picked up at the Lee's sale. See you soon!


Graphic Novel(s) Of The Month

This month, time constraints demand shorter reviews, but I assure you this will be to your benefit. Instead of a single in depth review, I'm going to give you 3 short ones. We'll go for quantity over quality (of reviews). This format is in no way a comment on the interhent quality of the books. The were all wonderful and deserving of your attention!

The Five Fists of Science (Image): Matt Fraction and newcomer Steven Sanders offer up a grand adventure starring Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla as they face off against the wealthy JP Morgan, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, and Andrew Carnegie. In the tradition of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it blends history, humor, political intrigue, and retro sci-fi. Grade A-.

Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan (Marvel): This book feels blasted to us straight from the 1960's, with it's retro psychedelic flair, tongue in cheek camp, and hip modern meta-commentary on the industry and the art form. A unique work from unique creators that boasts a unique blend of American comic book stars with Eastern settings, references, and pacing. It's not quite Flex Mentallo or Automatic Kafka, but there are certainly 4th wall breaking moments. Grade A-.

De: Tales: Stories From Urban Brazil (Dark Horse): What brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba are able to do here is showcase a series of vignettes that show the lyrical, magical moments that can be found in ordinary life. They ground their tales in their native Brazil, but the stories have a way of transcending their origins and capturing aspects of the human spirit common to us all. They are funny, heartbreaking, mysterious, and can inspire identification with the brothers foibles abroad, and even longing for loved ones. Grade A-.