Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Zuda Comics

So DC Comics have decided to dive into the world of webcomics with Zuda Comics. I won't go into the details of the contracts, the contests, and all that other fun stuff because to be honest, I haven't really looked into it enough to discuss it at any great length. I do rather like the idea of web comic creators being able to make a bit of money via their creations but I'm not sure if this is the way to go. Either way, I figured I'd take a look at the first flock of potential comics as well as the first ongoing one. I'll start with the ongoing:

Bayou -- Visually, this is an impressive book. The backgrounds are often minimal (if existant at all) but it conveys the story and the physical setting well. And it matches the timing of the story well. And speaking of the timing of the story, it seems a pretty bold move to start off the first book on Zuda in such a racially charged time in our history. The first 17 seems a good start to the story and the reader gets everything they need to know from it. I may actually keep an eye on this one. I can see why it got chosen to be an ongoing book.

Now for the competition books...
Alpha Monkey -- The art on this one is cartoon in style and very solid. In fact, I felt the art was the best thing about it. The story seemed rather weak. The quick little blurb in the beginning didn't really get my interest boiling over and it just jumped right in to a rather uninteresting battle against a giant chunk of cheese. It's not terrible but there's nothing really there to have me come back.

Battlefield Babysitter -- First up, I was happy to hear the main character chastise female characters for wearing skimpy and provocative clothing that makes no sense but then immediately having that character do a gratuitous butt shot (even if she does make mention of it being the last time for such a shot) seemed a little hypocritical. There was a few times where I felt things were rushed or not really as well written as they could have been and the 8 page limit may have been a factor in that. But it's not until the very last page that the title starts to make any sense. There just didn't seem to be all that much in those first 8 pages to really establish the story and hook me in. I might give it another shot should it continue but it would be on the fence until it proves itself.

Black Swan -- Meh. The art to start was somewhat interesting but the dialogue ("Bring it, B***h!") seemed to not match at all. Then the book suddenly changes and I thought there was an error on their site that redirected me to another book. Then it kinda jumps around and I just lost total interest. And the art (other than the old flashback stuff) just didn't seem all that great. Definitely not something I would keep reading. I just don't think they handled the 8 pages properly.

Dead in the Now -- More zombie madness huh? A very different style with dialogue and such merging with the art which took me a second to get used to. But really, there wasn't anything that made me want to read this. It's definitely not my cup of tea but it also didn't really establish enough in the 8 pages to make me think it's going to be worth reading.

High Moon -- If it wasn't for the weirdly placed splash page showing a werewolf I'd have no idea where they were going with this. I wish they would have handled that differently. It just seemed so out of place given the rest of the book. Though I like the art a lot and in just 8 pages it did catch my interest to a degree. This is another one I'd be on the fence on. I'd like to see slightly more before deciding for sure if it was worth reading.

Leprenomicon -- I must have missed something with this one. It seemed really out of nowhere and I just didn't feel there was anything that really caught my attention. I had no clue who the characters were or what they were talking about, and worse than that I found myself just not caring. The art isn't bad but not as good as some of the other competitors. But overall, there just wasn't anything in the 8 pages that made me want to read more.

Raining Cats and Dogs -- This one may actually edge the others out for my pick of the bunch. The opening dialogue, the really wonderful artwork (including great colouring), and the overall premise seem intriguing to me. Out of all the competitors I think this is the one that I want to see more of. The characters and story just seem unique and interesting. I may sign up just to vote for it. I have my doubts that it will win though, my tastes often don't match the comic book reading masses.

The Dead Seas -- Honestly, the dialogue that the author uses to try and establish the story here just went in one ear and out the other. It just seemed right from the start to be a typical amateur book with nothing unique or different. There just didn't seem to be enough meat to this story for me to grab onto anything. The woman wearing the chaps with her underwear showing, that just made me shake my head. And her backstory just seemed your standard stuff. The art was pretty good but nothing as different or enjoyable as some of the other competitors. I wouldn't be looking to keep reading this one.

The Enders -- This one could have used an editor. The narration just hits with too much, too quickly. And it tends to seem repetitive as it has to go over some things a couple times. It made it seem like things just didn't flow as well as they could have. The art is okay but some panels seem a little cluttered and not as well laid out as they could have been. This is another one I wouldn't keep reading should it win the contest.

This American Strife -- The most "out there" of the first set of entries (you almost think they had to include at least one of these kinds of books). Sometimes there's a story that goes on for a couple pages and sometimes not. For me, it just didn't work. Nothing really seemed to click even the art seemed off. Some panels looked really nice and others I just thought were a mess. Perhaps it'll gather a cult following with people who "get it" but I won't be one of them. I would pass on this book.

So there you have my initial take on the books.

And on another note, it has been pointed out that Wizard Magazine will be changing their tagline to “The #1 Men’s Pop-Culture Magazine!” Hmm... so the supposed #1 magazine in comics isn't for women anymore? Honestly, I don't even know why I pick it up anymore. There was a time they had some fairly decent articles including stuff on independant books but that seems to have been a long time ago. Now an interview may have one or two interesting bits to it where they aren't simply kissing up to Joe Quesada and some articles give a small tidbit of behind the scenes info of interest. But other than that, my complaint list just keeps growing. Some of them include:
- Refusing to say something is bad even when they know otherwise. One example would be saying how great the Hulk was when Bruce Jones was writing only to admit later they thought it was bad but continued to push it so Marvel would be happy with them. And they've admitted that saying something bad about a comic goes against their goal of just having people buy comics.
- Taking their "movie news" stories straight from Ain't It Cool News or SuperHeroHype and not confirming any of it. It's pretty sad when their "movie scoops" are almost straight from rumours posted online that were debunked 3 weeks before the magazine hit the stands.
- Promoting the whole "comic book women have to be babes and are all about being sexy" thing. It just seems that now they have at least one article in each issue focussing on how great some artist is at drawing women's butts. Or who is the "hottest comic book movie babe". Hmm... I guess with this one their new tagline is appropriate.
So yeah, I suppose the real question is why I was still picking this up. I guess I just liked getting a bit of comic book news but really, spending the $8 and digging through all the crap for a nugget of interest just isn't worth it anymore.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for October 24th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

Only two books this week so let's get right to them. We have the "What if? Planet Hulk" special and She-Hulk #22 (Peter David's first issue).

What if? Featuring Planet Hulk #1 (of 1) -- There are 3 stories in this book though the third doesn't really warrant being called a "story", it's just a comedy bit tacked on at the end. First up, we have "What if the Hulk had died instead of Caiera?" and this is the main course of this book. As the planet is exploding the Hulk tosses Caiera into the atmosphere and dies himself. She crashes back down and then the fun begins. I'll avoid giving away the details of the book though it's pretty quick to summarize. And that's probably the biggest downfall of the story. It's just too short for what it contains. There's no battles or fighting, it's just slaughter until she decides to stop. And it ends with what's supposed to be a sad moment that just comes on too quickly. The story would have been much better served by having been expanded but I know there probably isn't the demand for a 2 issue what if book. The art succeeds despite the rushed nature of the story. But I guess the heroes should be happy that it was the Hulk that came back. The second story is "What if the Hulk's shuttle didn't go through the wormhole?" and it's a very different story to the first. Here, there is ample space to dedicate to the story. After sabotaging each other's plans they are forced to come to an agreement. And in the end, you get the fast forward to show how it all works out. It was a well done story and even left the door open for most stories to be told. Though it may be a disappointment for some hoping to see how this plan might fail, it actually is an interesting story of how it might work out. And the art is good on it too. The last story is just a one page cartoon depicting what would happen had Bruce Banner landed on Sakaar instead of the Hulk. It's predictable and only got a slight chuckle from me. So overall, it wasn't a bad issue and if you're a Hulk fan then it's worth picking up. If you're only a World War Hulk fan then not so much. But overall, it makes my recommended reading list.

She-Hulk #22 -- Peter David takes over the writing chores with a new artist as well. And if you've read my previous reviews of the series, you'll know I was pretty happy about this. I didn't like the art recently and thought Slott had jumped the shark in his last few issues. Unfortunately, I found this issue a little tough to get into at the start. Looking back it had an interesting start to it but throwing She-Hulk into the bounty hunter business seemed kinda weird and out of nowhere. Though there are a few months unaccounted for which I hope (and suspect) Mr David will go back over at some point. The art was a huge step up for me. It wasn't exceptional and had its flaws here and there but it wasn't distracting and did a good job of telling the story. Though the book had plenty of twists and turns, Peter David definitely isn't trying to be Dan Slott who sometimes seemed to have something extraordinary on every page. As he has said in interviews, he's trying to cater to those who did enjoy Slott's work while trying to make the book his own. While this first issue didn't blow me away it's kept me wanting to read this series which is all I was really hoping for. She-Hulk is back on my recommended reading list. I just hope Peter David can keep it there.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for October 17th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

It was another really slow week for me with only one book coming out, Elephantmen #11. So let's get to the review shall we.

Elephantmen #11 -- I had been wondering why it was so long between issues and it turns out the artist had carpal tunnel syndrome which meant he had to take some time off. I'm glad to see he's back and I hope he remains healthy. As for this book, the art continues to be really beautiful stuff. The colouring in particularly really brings the art to life. And the writing continues to be strong. This issue still serves as a character piece and perhaps it doesn't move the current story along (the meteor crash landing) but it does show more of the histories of Dr Nikken and Serenghetti, and how their paths crossed. In Nikken's case, we have him standing before the UN where he stands proud of his accomplishments and places himself above them and their morals. And Serenghetti looks back on his life as an "Elephantmen" brings him "corpse markers" to sell. Both storylines add depth and are told in such a way that these two monsters almost seem human (Serenghetti more so than Nikken). This definitely makes my recommended reading list and I can't wait for more.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for October 10th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

Wow! I'm really falling behind on these reviews aren't I? And it's not even like I get all that many books. This week it was only 3 regular books. I also picked up Hellboy volume 6 and Monster volume 6 (which means I can now read 7 and 8 as well). But those reviews will have to wait for another day. The three for this week are: Runaways #28, Marvel Adventures Hulk #4, Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #1 (yes, it was a weird selection this week). So let's get to this as I have to make this rather short.

Runaways #28 -- First up, the time between issues is really hurting this book. With an abundance of new characters to get to know with weird names I find it hard to keep track with months between each issue. So I might be better off waiting for the TPB on this one. But after trying to bring up the previous issue in my mind (thanks to an okay recap at the beginning of this issue) I jumped into this comics. It's another very interesting and very funny ("He makes you do chores?", oh Molly, so young and so innocent) issue with some intriguing build up to something. I can't wait to see where this goes next. Unfortunately, I have to wait. Great writing, great art, what's not to love? So it makes my recommended reading list.

Marvel Adventures Hulk #4 -- Adequate art, decent storytelling, and definitely geared towards a not so fickle audience (ie, kids). I mean c'mon, Multiple Man diverting an avalanche like that? I know, I can't criticize the book for that and I'm not really. Just trying to be funny there. I'm just glad that Marvel is still trying to make comics that appeal to a younger audience. I got started in comics at a young age and I've been disappointed how North American comics weren't giving today's youngsters the same opportunity. So yeah, for a younger audience, I recommend Marvel Adventures Hulk.

Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #1 -- You're probably wondering why I bought this. Well, as a kid Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew was a favourite of mine. So it was mostly to relive some of my childhood and all that. The problem, this book doesn't bring back the good memories. I didn't realize what DC had done with the characters when they included a few pages of them in some Teen Titans books. Little Cheese murdered by teammate Alley-Kat-Abra because "cats hate mice"? Ugh! I gotta say, I know they are "parodying" the darker comics and all but I just can't get myself to like this spin on it. It's just another part of my childhood trampled on. Even though I see quite a few positive reviews of this book it doesn't make my recommended reading list. I'll admit, a lot of people might enjoy it but I'm just too hurt right now.

So that's it for this week... Or should I say last week. :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for October 3rd, 2007

Yeah, I know I missed last week. But last week the only book I picked up though was volume 7 of the Walking Dead. And this week was pretty slim with just Buffy #7 coming out. I'm a little pressed for time so here goes...

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #7 -- The artwork was okay in this issue but I still don't like how Faith is drawn. Something about her just doesn't work for me. But I was able to look past it for the most part. The book continues to flow nicely and is well written. Vaughan is really doing a great job of storytelling as well as getting into the characters. This storyline reminds me of just how complex Faith is and how we still really haven't scratched the surface to this character. This series continues to make my recommended reading list.

The Walking Dead Volume 7 -- I'm glad that I decided to stick with the TPBs for this series as it seems rather slow moving. I don't know if I'd have the patience if I was having to only get a small snippet of the story every month (or longer due to the delays). But there are a few bursts of thrills and chills throughout this volume. A few characters continue their deterioration while others seem to be settling in to their new lives. But of course, just as things seem to be going quiet the crap hits the fan. Unfortunately, you have to wait for volume 8 to actually see the crap fly. The characterization and dialogue really draws you in to the story by making you feel for these survivors though it's this characterization and lengthy dialogue that also tends to slow things down a bit. So it's not all out zombie action but what I consider a well crafted story. I'm really eager to see what happens next. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll be waiting a while for volume 8 (currently scheduled for January I believe). So it makes my recommended reading list with the caveat that I don't consider it a typical zombie storyline, so if that's what you're looking for this isn't it.