Thursday, March 27, 2008

Superhero Fiction Review: Inside Straight - A Wild Cards Novel

In the happy, happy Nick-event of 2008, I present to you my review of Inside Straight: A Wild Cards Novel. Now in case you don’t know what the Wild Cards series is, you are looking at one of the grand-daddies of superhero fiction right here. This new book obviously hopes to capitalize off the success of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series as evidenced by his massive name on the cover. It’s all good if it means we can now see regular updates to a great franchise.

Inside Straight does a lovely job of reintroducing the world to all the people who haven’t been around for the last seventeen books in the series. I personally have only read about ten of those books, so I appreciate the little backtracks that give any pertinent knowledge myself. Inside Straight revolves around two pertinent subjects: an upheaval of the Egyptian government that leaves the joker (freaks that the Wild Card virus left horribly disfigured) population in dire straits. Meanwhile in America, a new television show called American Hero debuts. Basically a reality show with twenty-eight aces (super-powers) competing to determine who will be the next big superhero. Much of this saga is told in stories of several new or rarely used characters: Jonathan Hive (whose narrative ties the entire book together), the Amazing Bubbles, Earth Witch, Rustbelt, etc.) Their plot suddenly ties in with the Egypt plot midway through the book and everything pretty much goes crazy from there.

A lot of Ultimate Marvel-style concepts seem to pop-up as the stories intertwine, but all in all Inside Straight is an excellent new edition to the Wild Cards franchise. Do yourself a favor, go pick this book up, and then hunt down as many of the previous books in this series as you are able. You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, and it looks like you will soon be able to enjoy both a new Wild Cards comic (hopefully better than the previous weak attempt from Epic in the late 80’s) and role-playing game (using the excellent Mutants and Masterminds system instead of the clunky GURPS system of yesteryear). Looks like it may be a renaissance year for Wild Cards, something every superhero fiction fan out there should cheer!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Comics Review Part Two!

Re: Circle #5

Sadly, with the end of “The Goliath Trap” also comes the end of Brian Reed and Ian Hosfeld’s The Circle. It makes me quite sad as I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Hosfeld’s art was beautiful while still quite original. Reed’s story started slow but built up to be a compelling saga with a great climax. The characters were solid, the villains were well written, and the story hit all the notes of a great piece of espionage fiction.

Apparently, it just couldn’t get a foothold in the marketplace of today. That saddens me a bit, and it also makes me wonder if Reed and Hosfeld would have been better off taking this series to someone like Dark Horse or Oni Press that have a few more resources to put behind endorsing the series. Two men can only do so much, especially with the great amounts of expansion Image has been going through over the last couple of years. And I don’t think Brian Reed’s growing status as a comic writer is enough to guarantee his Marvel fans will find their way over to buying an Image title.

Anyway, I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried this series to go out and ask their retailer to order the current issues. Or pick up the trade when it releases. But go out and try this series. And if you like it, make your voices be heard to the powers that be at your favorite publishes. Maybe somehow, somewhere, The Circle will be able to find its way back in to the market.

Re: Comics NOW! #2

If you haven’t heard of this one it is because it’s a comic magazine rather than a comic itself. Comics NOW! is an amalgam of Wizard and Twomorrows Publishing’s always excellent Back Issue. While rising above the current schlock that Wizard peddles, it falls short of being as good a magazine as it could be.

First, I’ll say this issue corrects a lot of the production mistakes issue one fell through. A lot less dead space on the pages, columns fall in the angles they are supposed to, and such. Unfortunately, I don’t know how many people will see that, as the cover art for this one is honestly pretty atrocious. The Nova cover on issue one looked professional quality, but the DC villains cover this month seems somewhat amateurish.

While stronger overall than issue one, the articles themselves still feel rather weak. They seem to be trying for serious study of current trends and stories in comics, but instead each article feels like a so-so summation of those trends and concepts. A little more critical analysis might help these articles as would a few more creator interviews in said articles. The article on pulp heroes in comics succeeded at this (although it apparently has some kind of fantasy that a Shadow comic is on the market). Good interviews, good summations, and overall a good outlook on the genre. That being said, the oversight of the new Lone Ranger series seems a big strange to me.

The article on crime comics is so-so, and it suffers a bit from its focus on pointing out old rules to the comic code that no one on the indy market has followed for thirty years now. It makes little sense in the current market, where only Archie still uses the comics code (and I’m not even sure about them). And again the article suffers as, while its interviews are good, it fails to deliver the writer of the big boy in today’s advent of crime fiction, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal.

The article on villains as comic stars is weak at best and honestly more long winded and boring than it is anyway informative. The retrospective on Luke Cage is nothing new, the columns on podcasting and the market read like filler, and the article on silver age silliness (this month, Batman’s time traveling pal) is just what it sounds like: silly fluff. The columns that round out the book do little to change my opinion about over-written fluff, and the story synopses, while handy, are written in the dullest tone imaginable. Their focus on only Spider-Man and X-Men from Marvel seems strange as well when the publisher’s top selling books are the Avengers titles.

The major saving grace of this issue: a new fourteen page Black Coat story. Black Coat is an excellent title that needs to get back in to the market sooner rather than later, and I’m hoping this story can help that happen.

All in all, Comics NOW! has potential. Some strengthening of the features in every issue and dropping the excessive columns for another feature would definitely strengthen the book, and continued endeavors to feature more indy books as good as Black Coat won’t hurt either.

Re: Dark Ivory #1

I would have bought this series just for the beautiful Linsner painted art; I’m not going to lie. And honestly, I am not seeing a lot past that as of yet. Ivory looks good but doesn’t seem to have a lot of depth, and issue one only serves to introduce us to an awful lot of characters for what is only a four issue limited series. Nonetheless, the gorgeous art keeps the series together quite well. And as I said, the Linsner art is worth the $2.99 all by itself.

Danger’s Dozen #3

I picked up this book mostly to see the return of the great Norm Breyfogle to the printed page. His art has been solid, although the inking on the book (by Breyfogle himself at least this issue) seems a little weak. I’m not going to try and give a plot synopsis because honestly, the story is all over the place. Suffice it to say the book revolves around a guy named Boss Aman who is a sort of Doc Savage type, but a Doc Savage with a giant floating mystical eye that follows him around. He seems to be encountering a regular horde of weirdoes and superhumans, all while not coming close to having formed a team of twelve.

The $6.95 cover price for this double sized issue was a little steep as well, but it does contain two issues worth of story to make up for it. I am not sure how long this series can continue without forming a little more solid narrative however. Right now it comes off as a bit of amateur hour from someone with enough money to hire an out of work but solid artist.

The back of the book contains a preview of a new series called Contract and it looks to be an even bigger mess than Danger’s Dozen, and without the added help of Breyfogle on art. All in all, A First Salvo seems to have potential as a publisher, but they are going to have to kick their work in to high gear if they think they’re going to survive in today’s marketplace.

Death of the New Gods #7

One of the few DC books I’m still buying reaches its penultimate chapter with this issue, which reveals the killer of the Fourth World characters. Everyone left pretty much dies this issue, while Starlin finally ties the series more closely to his previous Fourth World epic, the amazing Cosmic Odyssey. His art is solid, the story is great, and although it saddens me to say it, I think this series has been a fitting end to Jack Kirby’s characters.

One more issue and one last New God remains. Looks like issue eight will be quite the epic struggle. If you haven’t been buying this one, I suggest you rush out and pick up the trade in a few months. If you enjoy cosmic heroes at all, you will definitely enjoy this one.

Re: Witchblade #116

This is the first issue of Witchblade that I’ve picked up since sometime in the mid-60’s of the series. I did so mostly off the strength of Phil Hester’s new Darkness series and the copy of First Born #1 I got for half price a couple months back.

I liked a lot of what I saw. Dani Baptiste is a far more compelling character than Sara Pezzini, although she does lack the convenient job as a police officer to build new storylines around. That’s exactly what this issue does as we are introduced to a serial killer apparently obsessed with the twelve Apostles and their deaths. This harkens back to Paul Jenkins’ issues on the series (when I gave up regularly buying the book), but unlike those Marz’s so-so story is lifted by the art. Stjepan Sejic is a virtuoso and his computer-painted style is unlike anything else on the market. And unlike other computer painters out there (Adi Granov comes to mind), Sejic seems able to produce work at a mind-boggling speed. His witchblade effects are just plain gorgeous, as are all the women he draws. His men are still a little weak in my opinion, but with at least thirty-something more issues of Witchblade ahead of him he can do nothing but improve.

All in all an able handed production and a good sign of things to come. I will definitely be sticking around at least a few months to see how this series pans out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Comic Reviews Catch-up part 1

Re: Astounding Wolf-Man #5

All right, now things are finally heating up in this book. I’ve been a big proponent of stuffing a lot in to every issue of this book as long as it continues its bimonthly status, and this issue gives a lot of bang for the dollar. Loved the Capes cameo, and the character development points between Wolf-Man and his more and more estranged family is some great comics writing. The lovely Erin at my local shop, Alter Ego (331 7th Ave. in Marion, IA for anyone in the Eastern part of our lovely corn-filled, first to vote state), was nice enough to hook me up with an issue featuring the beautiful variant cover by David Williams and Art Adams. I remember Williams from pin-ups and a few single issues years back at Marvel. Where’s he been all this time?

Re: Grendel Behold the Devil #5

Zombies! Sweet!

I was wondering when this series would finally kick in to gear, and issue five seems to be it. We are finally tying together some of the pieces of the story, building towards the answers to Grendel’s problems and all together making some damn good stuff.

Great stuff and here’s hoping for a whole lot more from Matt after this book is finished.

Re: Hack/Slash #10

Mostly a filler issue, but we do finally get a look at Cassie Hack’s father and his work. Another brutal fight with some yucky feral children, more great art by Emily Stone, and a rather good read even if it doesn’t seem as deep as previous issues. (I can’t believe I just used the term deep for this series…) Anyhow, well worth the $3.50 admission price and the preview cover image alone has me itching for issue #11.

Re: Invincible #49

More good stuff as we wrap up the mini-Image crossover fight with Dr. Seismic. We finally get the build to issue 50 (really quick there, Kirkman) and the return of both Darkwing and the Reanimen served the story well. This issue has me salivating for issue 50, so I have to say good job with that, Robert. And the pinup by Rob Hough is just plain amazing in the back. Someone needs to get this guy on an extended project and stat.

Re: Madman Atomic Comics #7

A quick read this one, what without any words and the like, but as always another beautiful issue of Madman. I enjoyed this issue quite a bit though, as it’s an obvious bridge from the extended arc of issue one and six and what I hope is more traditional one or two issue arcs a la the older Madman issues. Madman’s such a great character and such a great book that is so versatile in any number of comic book genres that the extended space story has sort of worn thin on me. But I ain’t going anywhere. For his art alone, Allred books are well worth every penny, and this comic has nowhere to go but up in a big way.

Re: Omega One #2

Big City Comics has surprised me right out of the bat with some impressive series. I have enjoyed Mario Gully’s new Ant Unleashed book quite a bit, Tempest is a fun twist on the vampire book that harkens back to Marvel’s take on the vampire, and Omega One is one of the best concepts for a team book in ages. Take the un-team concept of the Defenders than throw in a subcutaneous explosive device that forces the characters to work together and you pretty much have the concept behind this book.

The characters in the first arc all first appeared in Image’s Ant in the final issues of that series, but you really don’t need to have read that book or even issue one of this series to get that. No, writer Jeff Kaufman does an excellent job of making sure we know who everyone is in the series and why they are here. Painter Elvin Cintron brings them gloriously to life with some of the best painted art I’ve seen in comics since Alex Ross.

Oh, and did I mention Shi? William Tucci’s classic and always cool sohei warrior guest stars in this story arc, following up her appearances in Fallen Angel last year. Now we just need to convince Mr. Tucci to finish up his Sgt. Rock commitments and get moving on a new Shi project to follow up these stories. Other creators’ guest stars seem to be a recurring theme for this book as next issue Heroic Publishing’s Liberty Girl appears on the cover. It’s a great concept to help out the books, and let’s hope it can help Omega One and the rest of the Big City Comics line last for some time to come.

Re: Snakewoman: Curse of the 68 #1

When I picked up the original run of this book it was for the interesting concept mixed with the talents of up-and-coming writer Zeb Wells and the art of the always excellent Michael Gaydos. Gaydos only lasted about 6 issues though, and the series continued on halfway decently until issue 12. The lackluster Tales of the Snake Charmer limited followed that, and I considered giving up Snakewoman then and there. But the concept of Curse of the 68 seemed interesting, so I decided to give this one an order.

Well, it’s definitely the best arc since the early parts of the first series. Instead of focusing on the current incarnation of the Snakewoman, we are now flashing back to previous reincarnations, starting with a story in the old west. Behind a just plain awesome painted cover by Gaydos, new artist/colorist Pradip Ingale provides far superior art than anything that appeared in Tales of the Snake Charmer. Curse of the 68 looks to be an excellent series of done in ones that help explore the Snakewoman concept, but after it’s done I wonder if there is really anything left to say for the character. Even so, I’ll be back for the rest of this curse.

Re: The Sword #6

I’ve flip-flopped a bit on my opinion on The Sword. All in all it is better paced and better written than their previous Girls, but six issues in it already has its weak points. This issue gave us a solid look at the history of the title weapon and its original holder Demetrios, and how that saga relates to the three villains of the story. All in all, it’s a nice bit of mythology and works well to tie the series first five issues together.

Now that it’s out of the way though, I’m not sure how much left can really be said about current holder Dara and her quest to destroy the three siblings. Honestly, I don’t really see a need to run this series for more than a few more issues (four or five max) to finish up the saga. But hey, the Luna brothers are nothing if not surprising in their writing style so I’ll have to wait and see where this one is going to go.

Re: Tangent: Superman’s Reign #1

I’m going to be a 100% honest here: I’m an unrepentant Tangent fanboy. I loved both of the Tangent fifth week events from the late 90’s, and if anything made me mad from that era it was the fact that we didn’t get either a third event or an ongoing series spun out of those issues. Well, nearly a decade later and DC finally answers my wish.

Superman’s Reign #1 isn’t the greatest Tangent story ever, but original Tangent creator Dan Jurgens gives us a decent start to a new extended Tangent story that will apparently feature New Earth’s Flash and Green Lantern (John Stewart) as cast members as well. Characters are well written, but the story plods along quite a bit, spending more time reintroducing the Tangent Joker than anything else.

The backup by Ron Marz does a little bit better even though it serves only to introduce two mystery characters. But it does give a quick review of the history of the Tangent Universe which will be handy for all newcomers to the book.

All in all, this is a good start, especially with 11 more issues to go before the series finishes. It makes me happy to see DC give original Tangent architects Jurgens and Marz the reigns with this, and I just hope that Tangent: Superman’s Reign can prove as excellent as the initial two runs of Tangent were years ago.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Some character sketches for Arc

I promised them so here they are:


This bloke will be the villain for issue one. He’s a piece of work called Flamethrow. He will be our first havoc-raiser but we will see a lot more by issue five (and the conclusion of our first arc).


This lovely young woman is Bev Nikkels and she will be the thorn in Shania and Arc's side. A stuck-up pretty girl, she most definitely has it out for our heroines.

I’ll be back with posts featuring the lovely Arc and her alter ego Ed as well as the first looks at Shania in the next week or two. As always, enjoy!

Evolutionary and other Evolution Comics updates

So, I have begun work on what I hope will be my second comic project, this one a web-project I hope to self-publish in trade format as time goes on. Evolutionary will be something totally different from me as I am going to try my hand at a slice-of-life type story. The first book will be focused around a band called The Evolutionairies, but I see the book as being able to expand outward from there with subsequent tales. I am already having fun playing with my core group of 10 or so characters in the plotting process, and they are already developing in to a strong bunch. I am seriously loving the vibe I am getting from this one, so I am sure you will be hearing more from me on this one soon enough.

Arc is moving along briskly. I am slowly making my way through the script for issue three now, making some revisions on issue two (mostly for a "story within the story" that I don’t want to tell you anymore about). I will be posting a couple more pics of some of the characters you will see in the book fairly soon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Comics Review Round Up

Comic Review Round-Up!

Re: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #12
I always liked Drew Goddard episodes of Buffy, and his first issue reminds me why. His sense of humor intermixed with strong character development points and solid storytelling make for as good a read as it does viewing. This issue has a lot of controversy revolving around it (read it or at least log on to Newsarama to find out why), and I’m not sure if I agree with the story direction, but Goddard plays it well in the story. It does make sense in context of the story, both with the extended cast and the nature of Buffy’s life now, but it still doesn’t quite play to the Buffy of previous seasons. I know we’re trying to play up Buffy’s moral grayness, but…

But I really don’t know.

Nonetheless, I’m enjoying the ride with the new book. Having seen the plans for creators on the upcoming issues, I can’t help but stay excited. The best writers from the show mixed with some of the best writers in comics. All with the great art of the always excellent Georges Jeanty. Keep up the great work, and here’s already hoping for season 9!

*****

Re: Cable #1

So I picked this one up to see what new comic writer, excellent crime writer, and guy with a harder to spell last name than me, Duane Swierczynski had to offer. I read his novel The Blonde a couple months back, and found it excellent, and I’ve been a Cable fan since the runs of Joe Casey and especially Robert Weinberg. Unfortunately Swierczynski’s novelist-turned-comic writer take on the character pales in comparison to Weinberg’s. We instead get a generic manga-style, fallen society where Cable is fighting to protect an infant (who apparently played an important role in The Messiah Complex, yet another crossover I didn’t read) and finds himself hunted by the newly cyborg-armed equipped Bishop. Why Bishop is suddenly an evil bastard apparently was covered in Messiah Complex as well. All in all not much here to make me want to come back for more, and not much to sell itself as a quality title. This book makes me long for the return of Fabian Nicieza’s Cable Deadpool, while also making me wonder whether or not this is a sign of X-books to come. Let’s hope not.

*****

Re: Casanova #12

After last issues well-written dense character piece, issue 12 moves on to a well-written action packed story where Zephyr goes crazy on her enemies. Good stuff as always from Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon. I highly recommend this series. More story for your buck by far at $1.99. So why aren’t you buying it already?

*****

Re: DC Special: Raven #1

I feel embarrassed for buying this after seeing “Finally in her own emo series!” on the cover. I mean, seriously, who at DC thought that was good marketing. Find that person and immediately fire him.

Going past the cover, I have to say the issue itself was rather disappointing. Marv plays Raven well (I don’t think anyone can write her the way he does), but the story is hampered by overly manga-oriented art by Damion Scott (who did good stuff on Batgirl, but this falls far short of that) and a plot that seems ripped from the aforementioned Buffy the Vampire Slayer circa season 3.

DC seems to want to anger me with their use of the classic New Titans though, so this shouldn’t surprise me, I suppose. The Titans book looks like a thoroughly bad idea already, especially in someone as so-so as Judd Winick’s hand. Anyway, back to Raven, I pre-ordered issue two so this book has one more shot to woo me. If not…I’m pretty sure this one will go the way of the dodo. It disappoints me, but DC has been doing a lot of that of late.

*****

Re: Dynamo 5 #11

Dynamo 5 closes on the year mark, and sadly I see the series weakening with every issue. Coupled with the fact that this issue and last I paid $2.99 and now $3.50 for twenty pages of story irks me. And yeah, I don’t count the preview pieces of other Jay Faerber books to those page counts. While Mahmud Asrar continues to improve on the art side every issue, Faerber seems to be floundering with what direction to take these characters in. I don’t really feel any movement happening in this book at all. We just seem to be going from one super-fight to another with little rhyme or reason. Sure we’re introducing the characters’ families and all, but to what purpose? I’m really not sure why I should even care about Slingshot’s father or why he’s suddenly in trouble from other super-humans. I love Noble Causes and I know Jay’s a good writer, but I’m not seeing it here. Hopefully the new Noble and Gemini will be as solid as they look, and I hope Dynamo 5 can find its way back to being as good a book as it was an initial concept. Otherwise, I am left wondering if the book would have been better left as a limited series.

*****

Re: Echo #1
After taking a look at Jeff Smith’s RASL last week I am happy to see Echo come from one of his fellow mid-90’s indy comic creators. I got to say that I love seeing new books from Terry Moore, Smith, and Dave Sim all coming within a month or so of each other. Perhaps with them at the helm we can see a return to an independent push in the marketplace. With Diamond as the sole distributor that’s doubtful, but it’s a nice dream isn’t it?

Anyway, Echo took me as a surprise. It just felt weird to see Terry producing science fiction suddenly, but not in a bad way. I enjoyed his art as always, and Julie seems like an interesting new lead. The fact that she looks like a cross between Francine and Katchoo doesn’t hurt her appeal much either. I have no damn clue what these suits are, what the goo means, and where this book is going, but I have a feeling it will be a fun ride. I’ll still miss Strangers in Paradise, but hopefully Echo will fill the gap somewhat. Oh and as much as I hated them back in the 90’s the return of the shiny cover was fun as well.

Good stuff, Terry. I can’t wait for more, and I’m seriously primed to see Runaways and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane as well.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Golden Age Redux Reviews

I feel almost obligated to read these books as JMS and the team of Alex Ross and Jim Krueger have seemed to be on the same wavelength as my own project, Living Legends, that I have been developing for the last couple years or so, first as a comic and now as an original piece of superhero fiction. Both have their good points and their weak points, as I’m sure anyone could say about my own work. Individual thoughts on the single issues are below.

Re: Project Superpowers #1

I didn’t much care for the 0 issue of this book, but #1 proved to be far better. We actually get in to the modern heroes and their actions as the Fighting Yank recruits the Green Lama in his quest to free the lost heroes. They end up in a fight with a much less friendly version of Dynamic Man, and before the issue is through the Black Terror makes his return. The entire story has a certain Terra Obscura feel to it, but unlike that series, Jim Krueger and Alex Ross are playing things a little slower and less world shattering. With statements from Dynamite that this is actually an ongoing and not a limited as it was originally pushed, that makes sense. I don’t know if I like how we have suddenly overpowered the Black Terror, as he seems set to turn in to a character very similar to his incarnation as simply the Terror in the aforementioned Terra Obscura. (This is one of the reasons I tried not to use very many noteworthy Golden Age characters in my own Living Legends. The fact that multiple incarnations of some of these characters existing simultaneously could very well just confuse the market.) The steady pacing of the character introductions issue by issue seems like a good move for the creators, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for the remaining issues of the opening arc.

*****


Re: The Twelve #3

J. Michael Straczynski’s Marvel project is much more in the vein of my own Living Legends, but I think is played for the more easy clich├ęs. The subplot with Mister E in this issue makes the family issue a little too easy in my opinion, and Dynamic Man’s blatant racism while quite possible of a character from his time is a little too pat for my taste. The ongoing saga seems all right though, although the murder mystery that runs behind this book seems almost non-existent as a plot point so far. Chris Weston’s art does a beautiful job of giving us the Golden Age feeling of these characters while still keeping a modern sensibility to the title.

Overall The Twelve has been good solid character-driven work so far, but I think we need to really kick the overlying story in to gear sometime soon.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Comic Review Catch-Up

Re: Umbrella Academy #6

Man, I really liked this book. It sort of surprises me, as I happen to dislike Mr. Way’s music. More than dislike, really, but not quite at the hate level, but I digress. Nonetheless, The Umbrella Academy proved to be a surprising venture in to weird superheroes, a genre that hasn’t gotten much love over the past few years outside of Mignola’s little world. I do see a lot of BPRD in this, as well as another late 90’s Dark Horse comic and another favorite of mine, The Nevermen. With that in mind, if Mr. Ba should decide to leave this series for its second run (and I would like to see him back on Casanova), I would love to see the excellent Guy Davis take a shot at these characters.

The plot was solid, the characters while not as well defined as some, were leaps and bounds above most of the work from the Big Two. Only big complaint: why did the monkey have to die? Never kill the monkey, people! When will comic creators (or musicians) learn.

All in all, amazing stuff. Can’t wait to see volume two, hopefully later this year.


*****

Re: RASL #1

Jeff Smith is back, and I’m not quite sure what else to say. I didn’t find anything bad about RASL, but I didn’t really see a whole lot of anything else either. We get what seems to be a dimension-hopping thief of some kind, some sort of creature chasing him, cryptic thoughts about an evil “they” and “them”, and that’s about it. Now I know Bone started out slow too, but I guess I just expected a little more bang for my buck. Solid storytelling, beautiful art on ugly characters, kind of steep price tag for black and white. Otherwise I can’t think of much else to say. I’ll wait and see for a couple issues on this one.

*****

Re: Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295

I remember Brandon Thomas. You might too, he scripted the Rob Liefeld plotted X-Force: Shatterstar limited series a couple years back. Let’s not hold that against him. Miranda Mercury is yet another independent comic with the goal to inject some fun adventure elements back in to comics. (Note to the folks at Marvel and DC: some of us still like fun. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.) Miranda is exactly that, a fun book with a nifty little meta-concept to get it off the ground running.

This is the first issue in case you are throwing out a WTF at the #295 after the title. We’re in the last stage of Miranda’s career, as she’s apparently been poisoned somehow. She’s dying and we only have five issues left to find out how that will come to be.

I really don’t want to give away a lot of the plot, but I will say there is a lot of action, a great bit of character interaction between Miranda and Jack Warning, her faithful sidekick, and a samurai genie.

Lee Ferguson (I know his name from somewhere too, but it will take awhile for me to figure out where) is an able artist. His style isn’t perfect, sometimes his characters look just slightly off, but he’s got fine linework and good storytelling skills. You never get confused by a strange panel as some of the other ASP artists can sometimes do to you.

All in all, thumbs up for Miranda Mercury. It’s rare that I say this, but it’s well worth the $3.95 price tag. Go check it out, folks.

*****

Re: Nexus #100

Ten years between 98 and 99, and it seems like almost as many between 99 and 100. I’m okay with it though after reading the lead in issue 100. I thought the return issue fell a little flat, but issue 100 finally gets the story moving. I don’t know, maybe I was expecting a slam-bang, dropped in the middle of who the hell knows what’s going on return with the last issue. Sure I know that isn’t Baron and the Dude’s style, but I am so used to it, that it surprises when I don’t see it. With 100 I feel like I’m finally getting back in the groove of things and Nexus is back to being his same classic stuff that I’ve fell in love with thanks to the Dark Horse reprints and back issue bins.

I have to say that the back-up wasn’t worth the ridiculous delay however. It was cute, the Kennedy and Clinton parodies were amusing, but a silly little back-up like this definitely wasn’t worth the full delay. Hopefully, everything will be back on track for issues 101 and 102, and from there we can get to the first anthology issue. I for one want to know what this Origami and Silencer business is about already.

All in all good stuff with Nexus #100. Let’s just avoid the slam-bang specials and keep the schedule going from now on, ok, Rude?

*****

Re: Criminal (v. 2) #1

Best issue of this book already. Everyone should be reading this book. It’s the best writing of Brubaker’s career, and the best art Sean Phillips ever made. The hard-boiled crime genre is a great fit for comics, and they show it every issue. And don’t wait for the trades either; the exclusive back matter in each issue is worth the price of admission alone. It saddens me every time I read an issue though, as this book should be outselling Daredevil, Captain America, and Uncanny X-Men, but instead it remains just a modest success.

I will continue my quest to get everyone reading Criminal as long as Brubaker and Phillips keep producing it. Thanks for the great work, guys.

*****

Re: Ant Unleashed #3

Gratuitous nudity in this issue aside, this book finally gives the payoff for the long build of the Ant storyline. Mario Gully is back on art with this one and despite an absolutely horrible cover (and I do mean bad, Ant just looks terrible on it, barely even human shaped), he provides solid pencil work in this issue. With most of the origin out of the way, Ant Unleashed seems to be well on its way to greatness. Gully’s writing has improved leaps and bounds each issue, and I am still thankful to him for giving the world a strong African American female to comics. Here’s hoping Gully can keep up with his current schedule and finally give Ant the push this character deserves.

*****

Re: Zorro #1

This may be the most disappointing comic I’ve read in months. It’s not bad; it’s just not nearly as innovative as other reviewers seems to think it is. Francesco Francavilla produces some amazing art for the book (I still miss his excellent Black Coat), but Wagner’s story falls flat for me. I love Matt Wagner; his Grendel and Mage are two of the best books of the last twenty years. But Zorro #1 is just a so-so framing sequence wrapped around a comic adaptation of Isabel Allende’s novel Zorro from a couple years back. I had a few problems with Zorro as a novel, and I just fear that Wagner is going to rehash those elements in this book.

I’ll give Zorro a few more issues to get past the origin segment and hopefully we will move in to the quality book that Zorro deserves to be.

Now where is Lady Rawhide at? (Just kidding.)

*****

Re: Youngblood #2

I’m still not sure what to think of the new Youngblood. Casey’s writing is almost always great, but so far this book seems to fall short of his usual talent. He’s quickly developing the personalities of his team members (which is innovative enough for Youngblood), but he still hasn’t really told us what this book is about. So far it just feels like it exists because Rob Liefeld wanted to have a new Youngblood book on the market. He’s having fun with the whole celebrity superhero stuff, but it’s by no means innovative. X-Force/X-Statix, New Warriors, Blood Pack, Wildguard, and even the most recent Wild Cards novel have covered the same ground. The book could be great if it moves past that and in to a clever storyline, and with the building of the insidious sub-plot again with this issue, we may be doing that. I’ll give Casey a chance with this one; his previous work is great enough to make me do that.

Let’s hope that the next few issues can finally give us the ongoing, well-written Youngblood book that I always thought was possible.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Why I do this thing...

Sometimes, I find myself really wondering if my push to bring superhero fiction to the world through Metahuman Press is really worth it. The fan base for the fiction seems small, even though in the book market it can sell hundreds of thousands of copies.

But then I find something like this and my heart leaps with joy. A teenage girl in Singapore of all places obsessed with superhero fiction? That can’t be anything but a good thing.

Anyway, I want to let everyone know that I plan to get Mean Streets moving again by the end of the month. Expect the storyline to take some unexpected twists in the near future as everything that has happened so far is just prologue. Ominous, I know...

And who doesn’t love the team of Death Ray and Bob Cat. Man, I love those names. They are just awesome. Really.

And one last tidbit: Neil Gaiman posted this animated gif at his site, and I just loved it. Awesome use by someone of a bright shining moment from the first few issues of Sandman in a political ad.