Friday, May 29, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for May 27th, 2009

Let's see if I can get my reviews done before my cross validation results are in (that'll be the only science talk of this post, promise). So we have three books...

Ultimate Wolverine VS Hulk #6 (of 6) -- That's it? And I don't mean "That's it, I waited 3 years for that?", I mean "That's it, I bought 6 issues and that's the payoff?" Okay, the collars were a pretty new idea but this is "Ultimate Wolverine VS Hulk" and other than the ripping in half which was done in issue 1 and then replayed in pretty much every issue afterwards all we get are fancy collars. I was disappointed in quite a bit of this book from She-Hulk's apparent lack of a healing factor and the Hulk needing to "catch his breath" from a fall from a plane before he can even leap? Did I miss something there? Despite some funny and entertaining moments during this series (Logan's talk with his inner panda for example) this series feels like a let down for me. Not a big let down, but a let down nonetheless. Oh, and what was with the Hulk's size in those last few pages? I didn't think he grew when he got angry (to the point where his fingers were bigger than Fury).

Runaways #10 -- We have a one shot here as the new creative team fully kicks in next issue (Kathryn Immonen doesn't start writing it until next issue). But I liked this one shot. I think it captured a bit more of the fun aspects of Vaughan's initial run. Not that Whedon and Moore didn't put some fun into it, it just felt different. Molly's time with the X-Men was just silly fun and I enjoyed it. Though I can understand some not enjoying it so much, but in my opinion it's not really to be taken seriously so I can let a lot of things slide. It was just a simple, fun issue, with a pretty big emotional element to it that I won't spoil. But the real story kicks in next issue.

Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #6 (of 6) -- I do enjoy this series, the artwork is beautiful and the characters are unique (though I still have personal issues with distinguishing them by their look). But I think from here on out, I'll be waiting for the collected versions of the stories. They actually do a good job of making each issue episodic and you do feel like you get a story in each, but after reading the first in collected format and the second in individual issues I think I preferred the collected way. But I'm looking forward to the next volume, I'll just have to refresh my memory of the story and the characters when it comes out.

I won't be doing a full review of Invincible vol 10 or Astounding Wolf-Man vol 2 but I did enjoy both. But I am hitting one of the usual problems of going the TPB route, I've seen too many images from Invincible issues (covers and such) so I saw quite a bit coming. Though I have to admit, the thing with Cecil didn't quite go the way I was totally expecting so that was a good thing.

Oh, and I didn't finish this before the results were in but due to a brain fart I had to re-run the experiment. :( Oops, that was more science talk wasn't it?

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Quick Sketch - Codex

Just posting a quick sketch I did yesterday. No real reason. The character is Felicia Day's avatar from the Guild, Codex. I'm not quite sure who owns the rights to the character or it's likeness and I'll have no qualms about removing it should I be asked to do so.

A Little Clarification

Going over my post "Following the Dream" I realized there may be the chance for a misunderstanding so I just wanted to clarify that last line. In no way was I saying that pursuing the dream and that the work done by those I mentioned was pointless but I see that it may have come across that way. So I apologize to anyone who read it like that, especially to anyone I named in that post. The line was actually meant to be a weak attempt at humour by belittling my own post. I was tired (like usual) and couldn't really think of a clever way of bringing that post to a close (like usual) so I figured I'd just label the post pointless and then I wouldn't have to come up with a closer.

The post did have a point for me though, it was to highlight the respect and admiration I have for artists (writers, actors, comic artists, etc) that continue to put themselves out there, especially the independents without the backing of a major company, and to tie it in with the events of my own life.

I apologize for not making that clear.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for May 20th, 2009

Have to make these reviews pretty quick, too much work to be done today (long story).

Planet Skaar Prologue -- I have high hopes for the Planet Skaar storyline and I thought this book was pretty good at giving us a look at what's to come. Though it felt a little weird being labelled a "Prologue", it felt pretty much like an issue 1. I thought the art was a little weak, some panels were good and others looked off. I'm still trying to figure out if Reed was stretching his face for one panel (his face seems to change a lot in the next). But despite some weakness to it, the art did tell the story fairly well (though there was a panel/scene or two that could have been more clear). Overall I'm really looking forward to it. And yes, I'll be picking up Pak's Incredible Hulk but I'm still not picking up Loeb's Hulk series.

Mysterius the Unfathomable #5 (of 6) -- Sometimes reading this series feels like a whirlwind of events as you jump through settings and times. Characters come and go, and I find it a lot to keep track of. I'm starting to wonder if this series would be better read as a TPB. I did find that I was pretty disappointed with some of the set up in this book, I don't want to spoil it so I can't really say more than that. I'm still enjoying this book for the most part but I won't be too disappointed to see it come to an end, I don't think I'd stick with it if it was ongoing. Though maybe if it was ongoing it could be more episodic.

Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #5 (of 5) -- We get the conclusion of the storyline... Wait, was there a storyline that I was supposed to be keeping track of? Really? Anywho, I wasn't really reading this for a deep story, it was just pure Colbert fun. So if you don't like Colbert, stay away. But I got some chuckles through the series and I thought it was pretty fun.

Angel 21 -- While Mysterius felt like a whirlwind I'm not sure what this one felt like. So many times I found myself wondering if I missed a page or something. It jumps around, the writing seems a bit disjoint, and the art can't tell enough of the story to cover for it. I think this book needs a second lookover to pace it out better so the story flows and the reader can follow along and get more engaged. As it is, I feel like I'm just seeing snippets of something going on, none of which ends up seeming important. Though to be honest, I've already decided I'll be dropping this series after the next issue.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Makin' Money

After my last post I thought back to the two times I made money off my "art". One time was in high school when I painted a picture that was auctioned off for charity. It was a picture of a kingfisher and was one of the first times my colour blindness really came into focus (people asked me why the branches around the bird were green but they looked brown to me). I think the picture sold for $60 and they gave me $15 of that.

But the first time was either in grade 1 or 2 where for 5 cents I'd draw a person's name in bubble letters. But a fellow student told on me and my teacher forced me to give back the money (though they got to keep the "drawings" I did). Come to think of it, I think I may have lost money on this one when some students claimed I had taken money from them even though I hadn't.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Following The Dream

Part of this post has been stewing in my head for a while. Another part was put in place during last night's How I Met Your Mother. In the episode, Lilly convinces Ted to "take the leap" by not chasing his dream of being an architect (something that hasn't been working for him) and let the "universe" direct him (ie. take a teaching job at a university). Without going into it too much, my feelings are obviously mixed. On the one hand, you want Ted to follow his initial dream and succeed but you know it often doesn't work out that way. And you can't throw your life away following a path that just isn't going anywhere.

Which brings my ramblings to a more personal level. I had several dream jobs through my life. One that stuck with me for a while was "teacher" (even while doing my Master's in university the possibility of lecturing/teaching seemed like a possibility). And of course, there was the times I wanted to do something more creative (like make comic books or movies or something). The teaching thing fell apart at some point. I think the idea of imparting my knowledge in pretty much anything and influencing the next generation always stuck with me but the idea of putting up with the kids always got to me. Plus, those around me always discouraged it since there wasn't much money to be made and everyone seemed to have this idea that I should be making lots of money.

The more creative job prospects pretty much died before they even started though. Everyone around me said that only a select few actually get to make a living at it, and for every success in the various artistic fields there are so many stories of those who failed. And clearly I wasn't good enough to be one of the success stories so I would be far better off looking elsewhere for my calling. So I followed the math/science route and at the end of high school I went to the guidance counselor who suggested I had the marks to get into Computer Science and here I am. I'm definitely not making the money I guess I was "supposed to" but I have my current government job that pays me pretty well, has good benefits, and usually doesn't require much overtime. And by sticking in a research institution, I usually get to do projects I really care about and can get behind. So it's good.

But over the years I've really noticed how reluctant I am to publicly show my more artistic projects. I've been improving on this, posting stuff on DrunkDuck, the odd image here, and for friends on other sites, but I usually do so pretty reluctantly, very quietly, and with much discomfort. Every time I do so I think back to those people who said I wasn't good enough to be one of the success stories and I imagine them seeing whatever I do and saying "See, I knew he wasn't good enough."

I think that's what makes me see so much potential in media produced for the computer/internet. It's open to so many who may never have had the opportunity before. Now many of them won't be able to make a living at it but it opens up more possibilities for those still pursuing that dream. And if not, they can still put their work out there while making a living doing something else. And that's why I have so much respect for people who put themselves out there, for David Gallaher out there promoting the heck out of his High Moon series on Zuda, for Valerie D'Orazio putting her writing up on her blog for everyone to check out, for Felicia Day working so hard on the Guild, and for every other creator putting themselves out there for everyone to see. Obviously they have the talent to make it work and they haven't given up.

Okay, to sum up this post... Ah heck, I'll just tag it as "random stuff" and "ramblings", that way I don't have to sum it up, it can just be pointless. :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for May 13th, 2009

I only had one book this week, which is actually one more than I was expecting when I entered my comic shop. Unfortunately I'm a little busy at work and super-tired due to feeling under the weather so it'll have to be quick.

Elephantmen #19 -- We get a look back into Sahara's history as well as what exactly happened between her and her father in the hospital a few issues back. It's definitely not a light hearted story and the punches aren't pulled. Having said that, the book continues to be incredibly well done. The writing is great as usual and the art told the story very well.

One thing I really like about Elephantmen is that you pretty much get a solid story in each issue. Sure, there was the spore wars with it's cliffhangers and the stories tie into one another building a larger narrative but after reading an issue I don't have that feeling of knowing I have to wait 5 more months for the story to end. They are doing a great job of keeping it episodic while still building on a larger story.

On a side note, Valerie D'Orazio looked at the demographic data for various sites, including comic book ones. I've looked briefly at the table but not enough to come up with anything other than what she has to say on her site. I have noticed that DC has done a few things to try and improve their website (which I've said in the past that I really disliked) but one thing Valerie says plays true for me in a big way:

"One thing I sometimes point out to clients is how a smaller site with a relatively simpler design does so much better than sites with all the flash and bells & whistles -- case in point xkcd, but many personal blogs, etc."

This is one of my pet peeves as well, throwing everying and the kitchen sink into the main page with as much eye catching animation and over the top presentation as you can fit into a page (or more). When I get hit with pages like that it often leads me to go back to Google and search for whatever in particular I'm looking for. If that search ends up leading me to back to the particular page (ie. the Marvel solicit page for a particular issue or character page) then fine but if I can avoid that site, I probably will.

Anyhow, rants on that stuff would probably be better left for another post. One made when I'm thinking a little more clearly.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 2009 Zuda Competitors

I probably won't get around to doing a full review of all of this month's competitors so I think I'll just talk briefly about the ones I'm leaning towards voting for. But before I do I have to admit that I'm pretty stupid, I thought the Zuda winner was determined by voting only but it turns out it's also based on ratings, favourites, etc. I guess I should have read it more closely... Then again, I'm not the one competing. :) So for this month my favourites at the moment include:

Lily of the Valley -- Not quite sure where the story is going yet (which is a good thing) but have a sense of the feel of the story (also a good thing). An interesting art style with a sort of a weird/quirky thing going on that works well with the story.

Sides -- Again, I liked the art and the story seems like it could be interesting and different. I'd definitely keep an eye on this one should it get chosen.

Flowing Wells -- I'm not sure if there was enough meat to these 8 pages to really hook me, I felt like there could have been a bit more there to not only show more of what's going on but also to hook me in. The artwork was pretty amazing though.

And looking like a real longshot for my vote at the moment...

Gone Zombie -- On the one hand, it looks like a zombie story and I'm not big on them (despite reading the Walking Dead but that's because that book is more about the characters than the zombies). On the other hand, like Walking Dead there seems to be the potential for the story to be more than just a zombie story. Again, I'd probably check it out should it get selected but it probably won't get my vote.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for May 6th, 2009 -- SPOILERS

The downside of picking up your comics over lunch, you have to go back to work for the afternoon knowing that they are sitting, unread, just a few feet away.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #25 -- Well, Dawn's story seems to have come to a close, at least for now. Overall, I enjoyed the issue. The usual combination of fun, character moments, and a bit of action. There were a few things that I felt could have been flushed out a bit more (this doll maker seemed to come out of nowhere unless Imissed something, Buffy leaving him so quickly also seemed a little odd, and Dawn's farewell to Kenny seemed a little too simple) but on the other hand, the story gets moved along at a pretty good pace. The art was good for the most part and told the story well. Overall, another enjoyable issue of this series for me.

Hulk Broken Worlds #2 (of 2) -- I know the first issue had a few problems and maybe some people didn't enjoy it that much, and I was actually expecting this to be the weaker of the two issues so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this one more than the first. The stories range from the moving Hulk stories (focussing on Banner and the characters around him) to simple fun stories (manga Hulk versus Fenris using the Midgard Serpent) and they all seemed to hit the mark for me. The art was pretty solid throughout as well. I definitely enjoyed this book overall. I know it's really more for Hulk fans than your every day comic fan but it may be worth checking out either way. And it gave me my Hulk fix for a little while at least. :)

So that's it, only 2 books this week. I'm hoping to get some reading done this weekend in between house cleaning and mother's day stuff. On the top of my reading pile would be Planetary Volume 3 (haven't started), "The 10-cent Plague" by David Hajdu (currently about 100 pages in), "Conspiracy!" by Valerie D'Orazio (only one chapter in so far), and "Was Superman a Spy?" by Brian Cronin (haven't started yet). We'll have to see how much I actually get done. :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Non-Comic Annoyances

Just have to complain a little.

Going back to public transportation, I just had to shake my head at the two young women who got upset at the bus driver for asking them to move further back to allow a woman in a wheelchair on to the bus. Moving back to allow people on should be common courtesy, getting upset because you're asked to do it to allow a person in a wheelchair on is just stupid.

And I've been hearing radio commercials for a restaurant advertising their "date night" special. What bothers me about it are the stats that are being thrown around. The first claim is that a very high percentage of women prefer to have the man pay for dinner. The second claim is that a VERY high percentage of women find men with a lof of money sexier (which seems kinda funny when you're advertising how they can save money on their date). I can't even really put my finger on why the ad irritates me so much, possibly it's just that they seem to be pushing the idea that you'll fail at dating until you have lots of money that you spend on your date, but it makes me want to avoid the place. Or maybe I just need to lighten up.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for April 29th, 2009 -- SPOILERS

Before I get to the reviews, as I was waiting for my bus yesterday I saw a young blind woman trying to get on another bus. As she was trying to feel her way on to the bus three, yes three, people decided to cut in front of her, bumping her seeing eye dog out of their way as they did so. I thought about getting on the bus just to give these people a piece of my mind but I hesitated and the bus left. Some times I really do want to believe in karma.

On to the reviews.

Skaar #10 -- At least they shortened the title and dropped the "Son of Hulk" which I didn't really care for anyways. On the positive side of things, I'm still liking Ron Lim's art over Garney's. I have liked a lot of Garney's work but something just wasn't working here. As for the story, there seemed to be a lot going on and at times it was hard to follow. I may have to go back and re-read it and I'm not sure that's a good thing. But even despite that, there's the feeling that there's a good story going on and we're getting to see some development in Skaar. I'm looking forward to seeing his upcoming adventures on Earth given where he is (character wise) at the moment. I don't know if it makes my recommended reading list but I'm sticking with it for the time being.

Runaways 3 #9 -- I have to go back on some things I've said in past reviews for this series. We now learn that something is going on with Nico and where it started. And I'm happy about that. I did prefer the art here to Humberto Ramos'. I was surprised that Moore is leaving the series with a lot of loose ends (especially with Nico) but I think that's good, it creates more of a continuing story. Overall, although Moore didn't really knock my socks off with his run on the book I think it is in a good place right now and I'm looking forward to what comes next. And I liked the little bit of dialogue at the end as the kids were playing their games. But you'd have to read it, I couldn't do it justice here.

Ultimate Wolverine Vs Hulk #5 -- Well, at least they're acknowledging how much they are jumping back and forth in time for this book. I saw one review where someone was pointing out how frustrating it is that we have a series titled "Ultimate Wolverine VERSUS Hulk" and other than the Hulk ripping Wolverine in half, we haven't really seen much of the "versus" portion of that. I don't think that bugs me so much but it is noticeable. As for this issue, Leinil Yu continues to provide great art for this series and I actually found this issue a little less irritating with the flashback/flashforward writing as we seem to be moving in a more forward direction now. I am looking forward to seeing how everything comes to its conclusion and maybe in the end, the TPB will be worth recommending. But overall, I thought this was a good issue.

I also picked up a few TPBs yesterday with Astounding Wolf-Man Vol 2 and Planetary Volumes 2, 3 and the Crossing Worlds TPB. As well as the Marvel 70th Anniversary special which might be worth checking out for people who don't want to spend the money on the Marvel Chronicles (though to be fair, I'm only saying that based on a brief flip through of both books, I haven't looked at either in great detail yet). I haven't got to read those yet (other than half of the Wolf-Man TPB which I stopped upon seeing Invincible since I haven't got the latest TPB of that series and I don't want anything spoiled for me) but perhaps I'll post reviews when I do. But then again, I say that a lot about the TPBs and don't get around to posting reviews so don't hold your breath. :)

And congratulations to the creative team behind Earthbuilders on Zuda. Even though it didn't get my vote it looks like it's going to be a very well done webcomic which I'll have to check out when more pages get posted.