Saturday, November 05, 2005

Comics stuff ahead...

Okay, before the beer completely wears off (although it pretty much has), here's the rundown of my November Previews order of new comics, as it currently stands...

HG Wells The War of the Worlds Hardcover from Dark Horse Comcs
An adaptatation of the classic novel which I have never read, and will probably never read, by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli. The guys who created the fantastic graphic novel, Kingdom of the Wicked. And the fantastic 2000AD series, Leviathan. (Hopefully to be reprinted in a single book at some point.) More to the point, they did the fantastic sequel to War of the Worlds, Scarlet Traces, first for a failed web comics site, then serialized in the Judge Dredd Megazine before finally being collected by Dark Horse. And if I thought the sequel by them was fantastic, how can I pass up their adaptation of the original?

Nexus Archives Volume 2 from Dark Horse
More reprints of the most brilliant superhero/sci-fi comic ever, which I foolishly lost in my travels.

Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special from DC Comics

I know, I've been bitching about the Infinite Crisis lead-in miniseries pretty strongly. And this is another issue in one of them, by the exact same creative team. So why buy this one? Well... I had decided to stick with the Infinite Crisis story to the end, and this is supposed to explain how the Day of Vengeance miniseries connects to the Crisis. Perhaps more importantly, it is supposed to feature favorite DC mystical characters like the Phantom Stranger and Madame Xanadu. And I don't really expect it to avoid the miniseries flaws (too much superheroics, not enough mysticism), but I still want to read it. And I promise not to complain too much if it ends up on the same level of quality as the miniseries, because that's about all I can expect, right?

DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore from DC Comics
Hard to believe there was once a day when a big-name writer like Alan Moore could just come on and write one issue or one story about a DC universe character, do it incredibly well, and not completely revamp the character, isn't it? Well, the proof is now bound between covers. I hadn't purchased the earlier version of this book, but since this new edition includes Batman: The Killing Joke and the "Last Superman Story" (I forget the title), there's no reason to put this off any longer.

Seven Soldiers of Victory Volume 1 trade paperback from DC Comics
Ordinarily, a book reprinting stuff I already have wouldn't be a priority. But the Seven Soldiers series by Grant Morrison has been my favorite new DC comic (or comics) this year, and I'm happy to have it on my shelf as a collected book. And I know there are fans bitching about the format, about how it just collects the story in order and how it would be better if each individual miniseries got its own book. But the thing is, even though the series is structured as separate-but-related miniseries, it is all one big story. If a reader only wants the Zatanna story or whatever, that's fine, they can buy that. But if the story of the Seven Soldiers of Victory is being collected, it should be the whole story, so I'm glad they're taking that route.

Sgt Rock: The Prophecy from DC Comics
It's a new six-issue Sgt Rock miniseries, written and drawn by Joe Kubert. You'd have to be completely retarded to not buy that.

Elfquest: The Discovery from DC Comics
What I said right above? Replace "Sgt Rock" with "Elfquest" and "Joe Kubert" with "Wendy Pini" and I don't need to type any more, do I? (New, full-color Elfquest story by Wendy Pini from DC Comics? This truly is the most perfect of all perfect worlds.)

Body Bags: One Shot one-shot from Image
I'm sure I've waxed lyrical about Jason Pearson's Body Bags before. Yes, it's over the top, hyper-violent, and completely unsubtle. And yet, I love it so. His art and storytelling are fantastic, and his writing is wall-to-wall fun. And who would have thought we'd ever see new stories? Ever?

G0dand Volume 1: Hello Cosmic Trade Paperback from Image
G0dland is perhaps my favorite new comic right now. It seems hard for critics to look past the Lee/Kirby influence, but it really is an exciting, innovative, original take on the whole "cosmic superhero" subgenre. I find myself wanting to reread all the previous issues when a new one comes out. So, even though I own the original issues, I'm happy to buy this collection, just for ease of rereading.

Pulse #13 from Marvel
Just wanted to point out that this is apparently Brian Bendis' final issue as writer, and this is where I get off.

Essential Godzilla from Marvel
Let me just quote from Ninth Art:
"If you've ever looked for proof that the Marvel Bullpen put acid in the water coolers, look no further than ESSENTIAL GODZILLA. I'm not sure whose idea it was to have a comic about Godzilla rampaging through the Marvel Universe, but that's exactly what you get here. It's tough to get the ultimate strange moment here, but while many would point to a shrunken Godzilla rampaging through the New York sewer system, I'm going to have to place money on him getting teleported back in time to team up with Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur. This is a book sure to never be reprinted, so if you ever want to experience the insanity of Marvel's GODZILLA this is your one chance."

So there.

Marlene #1 from Slave Labor
It's a mystery one-shot from former Starman artist Peter Snejberg. And I like his art, and I like mysteries...

Roy Thomas' Anthem from Heroic
Okay, this may not be all that good. But, as a kid, I loved Roy Thomas' All-Star Squadron, telling the adventures of DC's Golden Age characters in WWII. Easily one of my favorite comics. And obviously, he loves telling stories about superheroes in WWII. So this is a new series along that theme. The characters are all new, but it's the same general idea. So I'm going to give it a shot.

Spike: Old Wounds one-shot from IDW
Liked the first Spike one-shot from IDW. This is the same artist, but not written by Peter David. But it deals with the Black Dahlia murder, which I've been interested in since reading the James Ellroy novel. So... okay.

Lucky Bamboo Presents from Lucky Bamboo
Okay, I must confess, I like what I've read of Fiona Avery's Arana series from Marvel. But not enough to actually buy it. But a comic that's created and owned by her, and not superheroes... And this book previews the new series from her own press. So I'll take a look, certainly. (Plus I like the artists.)

Past Lies from Oni
I liked the book, Skinwalker that Christina Weir and Nunzio DiFilliipis wrote. Didn't get their next two Oni graphic novels, but they sounded neat. (Can't buy everything.) This one sounds cool, too, about a detective helping a man solve the murder of one of his past lives...

Judge Dredd: The Chief Judge's Man from Rebellion
Read the second half of this story when it was serialized in 2000AD. Now I want to read the whole thing.

Rogue Trooper: To the Ends of Nu Earth from Rebellion
At this point, does it surprise anyone that I'll buy any old-school 2000AD reprints?

Sorcerers and Secretaries and MBQ from Tokyopop
I'll talk about these tomorrow...

Middleman Vol 2 #1: The Entering Dragon from Viper
What do I need to say? I loved the first one. It's like if Men in Black was good.

And this is all I feel like writing right now.
Okay, so it's Saturday night, so does this mean that this post follows an evening in Timbers, drinking Newcastle ale? Indeed it does. And yet, I find myself in that weird state where I'm aware I've been drinking, and yet feel completely focused and sober. Which pretty much belies the point (if belies is the word I want), because I wanted to fuzz out my brain enough that I wouldn't be thinking about The Girl in the Cafe, and yet, there she is. (Earlier today, I had her in my thoughts, because like almost everyone I know, she is named Jen, and another of the Legion of Jens had come up in conversation. However, when I realized I couldn't get her out of my head, she was almost instantly replaced by that Kylie Minogue song. Which isn't necessarily a better thing.)

Best news of the day: Mirrormask the Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean movie, is playing in Las Vegas. So I'll be seeing that tomorrow. Expect a report.

Worst news of the day: Titan Auto Insurance still dicking me around. I'd have my car back at this point if it wasn't for them. Which particularly sucks, since they aren't paying for my rental because they claim that the body shop is taking too long. Wouldn't you think that if someone were making that sort of accusation, they'd be Johnny On the Spot? Dillweeds.

So, anyway, I bought a copy of Marvel Comics Essential Werewolf By Night tonight. And as I've found myself recently fascinated by 70s Marvel's weird comics, I've realized something about my initial childhood impressions about Marvel comics.

As a kid, I first started reading Disney and Archie and Harvey comics, and other humor comics. I knew of super-heroes, of course, mostly from reruns of the old Batman and Superman TV shows, and episodes of the Superfriends cartoon (which just don't hold up today). So I understood that DC did comics about superheroes. But Marvel... Marvel published stuff like Conan the Barbarian, which clearly wasn't aimed at the seven-year-old me. Or Howard the Duck, which looked funny at first, but was way over my head. Even their superheroes scared the crap out of me. I remember waiting in line with my mother at Safeway one day, probably reading Richie Rich or Casper or somesuch, and a teenage boy came and offered me a copy of some Marvel superhero comic or another. And I think the featured superhero was the Thing, from the Fantastic Four. And I told him that I didn't read those kinds of comics.

So, yeah, Marvel scared the crap out of me. And now, when I think of the Marvel of my youth, the Marvel I never read, it's all Tomb of Dracula and Howard the Duck and Werewolf by Night. And I still don't care about their superheroes, because they're not my superheroes. But the idea of an Essential Godzilla, featuring Godzilla vs. the Avengers and SHIELD... That's my Marvel. And the fact that Marvel simply doesn't do stuff like that any more is probably the reason that I don't buy many Marvel comics. (Although there are exceptions... And since I did my new Previews order, you may hear about some of those exceptions tomorrow...)
'Blood Fever' U.S. Hardcover Available for Pre-Order - James Bond 007 - - James Bond At Its Best: "The U.S. edition of Charlie Higson's second Young Bond novel, Blood Fever, is now available for pre-order at The release date currently shows as May 2006. Price is $16.95."

Of course, after reading how references to beer in the American edition of Silverfin had been removed, I'd almost rather order the British edition... (Plus it's out, like, five months earlier...)
Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings: "President Bush has ordered White House staff to attend mandatory briefings beginning next week on ethical behavior and the handling of classified material after the indictment last week of a senior administration official in the CIA leak probe."

Barn door...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Some brief comics stuff...

Last week's comics arrived yesterday (finally), and I read all the new first issues last night. Just some quick thoughts:

Loveless by Brian Azzarello & Marcelo Frusin, from DC Comics/Vertigo
I had really enjoyed Brian Azzarello's 100 Bullets series when it first started, but drifted away from it. (The intent is to read it as it's collected in books, but I'm even behind on reading those... Still...) But a new creator-owned series from him, I'm glad to buy in single issues, particularly since it's a dark western, which won't necessarily be a huge hit. It's hard to tell from this first issue exactly where the story will be going, but from the tone, the dialogue, and the art, it looks like it'll be an interesting ride, wherever the creators decide to take us.

13th Son: Worse Thing Waiting by Kelley Jones, from Dark Horse Comics
'Bout time Kelley Jones wrote something again, as well as drawing. He's been one of my favorite monster artists for years, with these weird, distorted creatures that don't look like anything we've ever seen before. And his writing is just as wild. This starts off feeling like a left-of-center urban myth/folklore thing about a monster that kills monsters, but he manages to give it just enough connections to the human world to make the reader not feel completely alienated. And it's got a great, quiet cliffhanger ending.

Book of Lost Souls by J. Michael Straczynski and Colleen Doran, from Marvel Comics
While I don't worship the ground that writer JMS walks on like some (a rep based mainly on the TV series Babylon 5, which I thought was interesting enough in its conception for me to watch all the way through and buy the DVDs, but flawed in exection), I really enjoyed his comics series Midnight Nation. And while I'm completely unimpressed with his Spider-Man comcs (surprise), I was willing to give this new creation of his a shot. Besides, it's got art by Colleen Doran, who I've been a fan of since we were both kids, apparently. (She started A Distant Soil when she was 16, I think.) This tale, about a man who has to walk among the "lost souls" and tip them towards good or evil feels very similar in tone to Midnight Nation without duplicating the story, so I'll stick with it. (Only does every other page have to be an advertisement?)

Fear Agent by Rick Remender, Tony Moore, and Sean Parsons, from Image Comics
This was pretty highly anticipated by me. It was promoted as being highly influenced by the EC sci-fi comics of Wally Wood, and it definitely has that feel. No carefully thought-out science fiction premises here, not if they get in the way of a two-fisted action hero fighting a giant brain using alien ape-creatures to build some sort of rocket-thing on a primitive planet. Unlike G0dland, however, which really wears its Jack Kirby influences on its sleeve, this feels more distanced from its influences. Probably because the Wally Wood stories that give it its tone and surface details were eight-page self-contained stories, whereas this is a full-length story, the first part of a five-part story about an ongoing character. The important thing, though, is it does capture the sense of action and excitement and fun that it set out to capture, and makes me want to come back for more.

Haunted Mansion from Slave Labor
This was another one I was pretty excited about, and again, I was not disappointed. It's an anthology comic about the Disneyland ride, and does a really good job telling a diverse set of stories about the characters and situations we see on the ride. The stories would work just fine if you didn't know the connection to the Disney thing, I think, and they don't make a big deal about how they do connect. They don't shout, "See? This is the guy from this scene right here, we're telling his story, get it?" The tone is the same sort of light-creepy that Slave Labor has made popular with their line of comics like Lenore and Gloomcookie, which fits perfectly with the original ride (not too scary, not too funny). Definitely a success, definitely looking forward to the next issue. Now, if only they can get the attention of the vast universe of Disney fans/collectors...
Dispatches from the Flying M: The next tie-in book: "I've signed the contract and the outline is approved, so I can talk in general terms about the next tie-in book I'll be doing. It's called Superman: Trail of Time, and it's for DC Comics and Warner Books. In it, Superman, Phantom Stranger and the Demon travel into the old West (among other places) where they'll meet up with Jonah Hex, Bat Lash, Scalphunter, and El Diablo. I love those old Western characters, and the magical/horror-oriented characters of the DCU, so this should be a lot of fun to write. The research, involving reading hundreds of comics, has already been a blast."

Not much of a Superman fan these days, but I like Jeff Mariotte's writing just fine, plus the idea of a novel featuring the Phantom Stranger, the Demon, and a bunch of DC's Western comics characters... This one, I'll probably read.
BBC - Doctor Who - Christmas Invasion at Christmas: "The special will transmit on Christmas Day.
Cancel those plans. David Tennant and Billie Piper will face The Christmas Invasion on 25 December itself."
CBS goes online with 'Threshold' - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - CBS crossed a new
'Threshold' on Wednesday when it announced it would offer three
episodes of the rookie suspense drama free and without
advertising on"

Anything that helps a Carla Gugino show survive is fine with me. (I'm enjoying Threshold just fine, by the way.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005