Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekly Recap

My ball hockey team got absolutely decimated yesterday so let's talk about other things. :)

Over on Occasional Superheroine two posts in particular caught my eye, a discussion of the new Dark Knight poster (and possible allusions to 9/11) and the new Supergirl comic for young readers. On the Dark Knight poster, I have to admit that when I saw the gaping hole in the building images from 9/11 did enter my brain. Though I don't think it was intentional on their part and I don't expect all movie makers to try and avoid anything that could possibly make anyone think of 9/11 (because lets face it, that would be impossible) I've accepted it as a fact of life that some things will remind me of it. And so long as it's not over the top I'll just live with it. As for the new Supergirl design, although I like Dean Trippe's take on the character I do like this one. I think it fits better with the style of the other DC kids books and will probably fit the stories they are going to tell better. Though if they ever do a Supergirl storybook I'd go with Dean Trippe's version. And I have to say I'm happy that they've decided to give her tights under her skirt.

Also on Occasional Superheroine, as the media blitz for Iron Man continues we see even Vogue magazine jumping in. But what actually caught my attention was this interview by USA Weekend with Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, and Maggie Gyllenhaal and this quote in particular: "Comic books are still for boys." I know, I'm sort of taking the quote out of context (I don't expect any of them to start buying comics just because they acted in a comic book movie) but I still hate how comics are seen that way by so many people.

It's odd, I can't think of much else to say about this past week. It seems a lot of the news is still about interviews and such that went on at New York Comic Con or, of course, Secret Invasion which I'm not particularly interested in. Oh well, let me know what comic news caught your attention last week.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for April 23rd, 2008 -- SPOILERS

Before I get into the reviews I need to rant a tiny bit. The topic? Greg Land's She-Hulk cover. I really wonder why Marvel switched covers at the last minute on this one as I actually thought the Mike Deodato (who I am not a big fan of either) cover was better. To start, Land pulls out one of his stock images for her face (an image that he's already used a handful of times) and it looks like he did a rush job of it. Of course he has to add a body to this face now and it's a mess. The hands and forearms are blobs and her left shoulder seems to be coming out of her head. It doesn't match her head at all. I know he's popular and his art seems to sell books but I just can't stand it. His constant use of actors or wrestlers (Triple-H seems to be a favourite of his as everyone seems to be doing his signature pose) and re-use of images over and over again ruin books for me. As a graphic storyteller he should be drawing the characters to match the situation in emotion and body position, instead he tries to force a picture of Jessica Alba into a panel seemingly not caring about what's actually going on in the story. It's really getting to the point where I want to avoid buying anything with Greg Land's name on it. Of course that won't mean squat as I'm in the minority here but I really think comic fans deserve better than this and I wish they'd realize it.

Putting that aside, let's get to the reviews...

Hulk #3 -- I'm really getting bored of this series. I just don't care who the red Hulk is anymore. The big thing for me is that things just aren't being explained or even mentioned. The Abomination has his powers back and is walking around Russia even though the last we saw him he had the nano stuff in him and was captured by SHIELD, Stark, Samson, Ross, and She-Hulk don't say a thing about it. Rick turns into "A-Bomb" for some reason, the red Hulk (who is someone who knows Rick) doesn't react with surprise or anything even though I'm confused as hell. Banner goes from nearly destroying the world to being put in a cell where if he touches the glass he gets gassed. As he says himself, all he needs to do is hold his breath. Or turn into the Hulk without touching the glass. I could go on and on but this book continues to make no sense to me. I know what some of you are saying "Give it time, it'll be explained" or "You're being too picky" but to me, this is just lazy writing. It reminds me of Bruce Jones' run where nothing made sense and after 3 years they revealed that... it wasn't supposed to make sense as the Leader had some master plan that relied on him confusing the Hulk. It's the Hulk, he's actually not that hard to confuse. But enough about Bruce Jones and since I've ranted long enough I'll stop dissecting the story. Art wise, it's pretty and the two panel spread of the red Hulk and A-Bomb is cool looking. But I hate how Banner looks like a 20 year old nerd with Coke bottle glasses in some panels. Oh yeah, one more thing about the writing (you should have known I couldn't let it go) I hate it when someone grabs a gun that is part of something and then starts shooting it as though it was also designed for handheld use. And why the heck would the red Hulk think a machine gun could even hurt A-Bomb? And why is he surprised that he has bulletproof skin (comparing him to an armadillo)? It's not like a gun like that should have any effect on the Hulk, Abomination, or this new A-Bomb. Some things may get explained but some things just make no sense and no explanation works. Despite this being a very popular book (so again I'm in the minority) I don't recommend it.

She-Hulk 28 -- Okay, I've ranted about the cover so what about the inside of this book. We get back to the story of the bomber and now learn it's somehow connected to She-Hulk's disbarring (is that the right word?). It's got some humour, some action, and some character depth to it. Everything I've come to expect from Peter David. And for the most part I liked the art (though one panel where She-Hulk is buckled over from a punch to the gut yet still throwing an uppercut, that one looked awkward and like something you'd see back in the comics of the 60's). I think my only really downer in this issue is the "24 hours ago" trick. It's a personal thing but I'm kinda getting tired of so many stories doing this (I was watching Battlestar Galactica a while back and they had quite a few episodes in a short time do this). When Peter David took over this book we were already thrust ahead in time with the understanding that we'll eventually see how She-Hulk got where she is and this book starts off with the same thing, She-Hulk being thrown into jail and then flashback to find out how she got there. But I'm ranting about something minor that most people won't pick up on. This book is well crafted and nicely drawn. I'm intrigued by where it's going and Jazinda is one of the few Skrulls I care about in the Secret Invasion story. So it makes my recommended reading list.

Hulk VS Hercules -- I was actually a little disappointed in this one, I was expecting "Hulk VS Hercules" and it felt more like a "Incredible Hercules" special featuring the Hulk. All the character exploration centers on Hercules and Amadeus Cho and the Hulk is just a plot device used for their story. Having just dropped Incredible Herc from my pull list I felt a little deceived here. But just like the Incredible Hercules series, this book is well written and has decent art (though the multiple artists thing still bugs me even if it's not too bad in this book). You just have to know what you're getting when you pick it up. It makes my recommended reading list for Herc fans or people reading Incredible Hercules. Those looking for a Hulk fix or just a Hulk VS Herc one shot should probably move on.

Mice Templar -- I think I'm going to have to re-read this series from the beginning at some point and I'm going to have to do it with a clear head. Because by the time I get around to reading this on Thursday a lot of the myth and folklore goes right over my head. And the fact that my beloved Habs where playing the Flyers last night while I was trying to read this didn't help. Yeah, it's my own fault here. So given all that, the art is gorgeous to look at and tells the story well. The story itself is an entertaining one on the surface but also pretty complex. You'll need to invest a bit of time into it to full appreciate it (though I am still enjoying it even if I haven't invested the time just yet). I recommend checking this out but it's definitely not everyone's cup of tea.

So that's it for me for this week. I think next week will be a slow one for me as I only noticed Elephantmen: War Toys #3 on the list (though I usually miss a book or two when I look at the list). But that's good for me as I just received Wanted and the first two Criminal TPBs in the mail. And I want to track down volume 1 of Fables too. And just to make sure it's not all comics I'm also reading "When Science Goes Wrong". So I have a full plate at the moment. But feel free to offer some suggestions or let me know what you're reading.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Zuda Comics 2008 Invitational

Just wanted to make a quick post directing all my readers (I think there has to be at least 2 out there) to the Zuda Comics 2008 Invitational. So be sure to pick your favourite 10 Zuda comics that lost out in the competitions so they have a second shot. A few you may want to consider (in my opinion and in no particular order):
Battlefield Babysitter

Raining Cats and Dogs

The Mundane Overrated Misadventures of Spudman

Araknid Kid

The Litterbox Chronicles

Sam and Lilah

Laura's Bazaar

They'll most likely be in my list. Feel free to offer your suggestions because I still have some spots to fill.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekly Recap

I really do try to get these recap posts done on Sunday but life just has a way of getting in the way of things.

I guess the big news of the week is the New York Comic-Con. Valerie D'Orazio at Occasional Superheroine and David Gallaher of High Moon are just two of the many MANY people who are there and will be blogging about it. I keep talking about going to one of the big conventions but never doing anything about it. I think next year I'm going to make a point of going to the New York Comic-Con. I've never been to New York and I'm not sure who I'd go with but it really is time I stop talking and do it.

I was pretty surprised by the news of a Mortal Kombat VS DC game coming out. I'm not a big gamer but I'm curious to see how this one plays out. They say they are working in story elements to make it work (incorporating magic to weaken Superman and such) but are we really going to see someone ripping out Superman's still beating heart? Or Batman's spine?

Some more pics from the GI Joe movie got leaked out. I realize that they had to change quite a few things about the appearance of the characters, and it made sense that many of them would wear similar body armour suits (with the military, you typically don't get individually designed suits), but the newer shots of Snake Eyes bug me even more. First up, with all the characters wearing black he doesn't really stand out now. And hopefully they only wear those black suits for night time ops and such. But what seemed odd was Snake Eyes' face. Instead of it being a mask it looks like his actual face is painted black (at least around the nose and mouth). That seems very weird to me, are they saying this guy actually has jet black skin for some reason or that he takes the time to paint himself black? I know, I should wait and see.

And the last tidbit that I can think of is the new "The Spirit" teaser. Again, I'm trying not to make a final judgement on it just yet but so far, I don't particularly like everything I'm seeing. It just seems to be Frank Miller doing a "revamp" of the character and not really doing "Will Eisner's 'The Spirit'". So the fanboy in me is a little disappointed to be straying from the established characters, going so far as to describe "Silken Floss" (a character with a PhD and MD in the comic) as a "punk secretary and frigid vixen" for the film. The trouble is that I think Frank Miller's version stands a good chance of outperforming the movie I'd like to see made. And I think the narration they went with (especially describing the city as his mother and his lover) just seems a little off.

I guess that's it for now. See ya later in the week with my comic reviews.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for April 16th, 2008 -- SPOILERS

Let's get to it shall we...

World War Hulk: Warbound #5 (of 5) -- Well, at least the Leader is portrayed as being highly intelligent, I was a little worried when he was so easily tricked in the previous issue. Overall, it's an okay ending to a decent story. The art is solid enough though I kinda laughed at times when I thought the Leader looked more like one of those aliens from Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks". Hiroim finally meets his end but it just lacks a bit of a punch given his previous "deaths" in this series alone. I'm sure it's permanent this time (with the old power moving on and such) but it still lacked the emotion. Overall though, I enjoyed the series but it's not one I'd highly recommend, especially if you aren't a Hulk fanatic.

World of Warcraft #6 -- Pretty much the usual review for me here, I felt the story was just "meh" and the art again let me down. Whether it was the panels where I couldn't figure out what was going on or the introduction of however many female characters all with breasts falling out of their suits and butts hanging out. Maybe that second part is somewhat a product of the game but it's still pretty bad. And the gratuitous shots of the Blood Elf's backside definitely are just for the comic audience. I'll definitely be dropping this series once the first storyline is done. I'm sure some fans of the game or people who like this sort of thing are loving it, personally, I'm just not.

Marvel Adventures Hulk #9 -- I was able to track down this issue I missed last month. I didn't really feel that this was the strongest issue. I thought the art was a bit hit or miss for me. In some panels it was like the artist wanted to add too much shadowing for who the book is aimed at. It made it tougher to read (especially in one panel where I couldn't tell if it was Rick or Betty talking, the dialogue seemed to be Betty but the small figure seemed to be Rick while Betty was entirely blacked out). I'd also be curious to see if the story actually connected with younger readers. Though there was also plenty of smashing to make them happy. Overall, I'm still thinking this is an admirable attempt at re-introducing the Hulk to a younger audience with simpler stories and less baggage.

Comic Book Comics #1 -- An interesting history lesson about comics where they obviously did their homework. There's quite a few little tidbits and stories in here that are very interesting for the comic book aficionado. I had a bit of a problem with the way things were laid out in the beginning but either I settled in or they improved, I'm not sure which, because I didn't notice it later in the book. Anyways, it's a very interesting and entertaining look at the beginnings of the industry and probably worth checking out if you are into that sort of thing.

I also picked up volume 14 of Naoki Urasawa's Monster but I've only read the first 2 chapters of it. I think once I'm done the series I'll post a quick review of it in its entirety.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Zuda Reviews for April

I'll have to try to keep these somewhat short so here goes:

Agent Happydeath -- Looking at the overall story on this one I find it kinda humorous and somewhat interesting. I just thought the execution was off. The art seemed to be lacking in the storytelling department and the dialogue was a bit clunky for me.

Brave Ulysses -- I kinda felt that I was being over told the story here. You had the narrative (the storyteller), the pictures, and the dialogue all together and I didn't find it flowed well. Not to mention the acronyms being list at the top of the page, I can't say I liked that very much. The art has an interesting "old-style" to it but I'm not sure I liked it all that much. And I didn't really feel that into the story or characters or see them as all that engaging.

Feverkind -- I actually thought this was an interesting, quirky story with some cute dialogue and story ideas. The character designs were simple and fun. Then the last panel hit and I suddenly lost a lot of interest in the book. For some reason the knife wielding masked maniac just didn't seem like a good idea to me.

Melody -- The current leader (as I type this at least). Visually, I see this as the most solid and appealing of this month's books (at least for me). It's very solid graphic storytelling. And it's written well. But for me, the overall story just doesn't seem all that appealing. It just doesn't seem to be something I'd want to read as the whole idea of this "greatest song of all time" just has me having flashbacks to the Tenacious D song "Tribute".

Punchboys -- Though there seems to be some artistic talent here, I just get the feeling that the art is too sketchy and "unfinished" looking. It almost looks more like quick storyboard sketches. And there are too many splash pages so there isn't much story or characters built up. It needs more meat added to it.

Re-Evolution -- An interesting premise with some decent storytelling but what actually "bugs" me about this one is the art. A few things that sent off warning bells for me is the range of character designs from cartoon looking animals to real life looking animals, I just didn't feel like it had a consistent look. And every time you see a gorilla's face it looks swiped from Planet of the Apes, they look just like Michael Clarke Duncan's character. And as interesting as the premise is, I just didn't feel it was strong enough.

Streetpunx -- This one has some pretty amazing visuals to it but it seems to rely solely on them. The story seems pretty week, at least from reading these first 8 pages. I don't think the art is enough to sell me on this book as it's pretty, but overall needs more story to it.

Suckerpunch -- An interesting art style with decent storytelling to it but this one didn't really blow me away. The story seems overdone whether it's the Matrix or Equilibrium or whatever. The write up also gave a bit more story to it (which sounds even more like Equilibrium) that these 8 pages didn't even get into. I think it needed a better intro to catch my attention and something more that makes it different story wise.

Super Seed -- This story has some interesting aspects to it and the characters seem different and possibly interesting. I say "possibly" because it doesn't seem like you get enough time with any of them to say for sure. There's no connection to the reader. The art is hit or miss. Some panels (mainly the ones of just hands or such) are nice and some are well laid out but often the character's head or face looks squished or off, or their appearance is inconsistent from panel to panel.

The Erebus Effect -- For the most part I like this one visually. There was one instance where I wondered if he was throwing up onto his someone's head (a clearer divide between those images would have helped) and the style might not be for everyone but I thought it fit well. I did find I wanted more from the first 8 pages to sell the story. The talking toy ninja was somewhat intriguing but other than that I didn't really find it "new" for me. I wanted something more.

So I'm still not exactly sure who I will be voting for this month. Going over them again for these reviews I may actually end up going with Feverkind.

And since we're talking about Zuda comics, one news item of note that I just learned (though many probably already know) is that former competitor "Sam & Lilah" has moved to Acti-I-Vate. Congratulations to the creators who put together an interesting comic.

Weekly Recap

Yeah, I'm a day late again. I was pretty beat from yesterday's hockey game and I'm nursing a sore wrist (again, from the hockey) so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Oh, and we lost again.

The fury over the Superman legal fight has diminished somewhat and I'm done with it for now.

The latest Zuda Comics competitors are up. I know, I still have to do my reviews for those but I think Erebus Effect may be my pick this month. Also, quite a few of the creators behind some of the books on Zuda will be at New York Comic-Con. So if you're fortunate enough to be going you should drop by to say 'hi'.

I was checking out the DC solicits on newsarama and something I find funny is pictures of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman fighting a character. On the covers to Trinity 5-9, here's a character that appears to be giving Superman a struggle with one arm while also dealing with grappling with Wonder Woman. So what exactly is Batman hoping to achieve by wrapping up his other arm with a batarang??? Physically, Bats just isn't in their league. Oh well, I guess it makes for a cool image and all that.

Wizard magazine is hitting 200 issues this month and they're celebrating with an issue so big it had to be split into two magazines. I have to say I enjoyed the first half. As someone who really threw himself back into comics around the same time (actually, just a few years before) Wizard started it was a nice nostalgic look back. I was really taken aback by the huge drawing they tried to assemble by a whole lot of artists (with George Perez providing the initial outline of character placements). I didn't necessarily agree with their lists (I wouldn't have put Y: The Last Man as the top book) but it was still interesting to read. And speaking of their top 200 books, I was rather disappointed in some ways that #1's were often so high not because they were good issues but because the rest of the series was good.

I'm sure there was more going on last week but I probably should get back to work. :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for April 9th, 2008 -- SPOILERS

Jumping right into it...

Serenity #2 (of 3) -- This book seemed to be a bit of a let down for me. Or perhaps I was just expecting too much. Although the art wasn't bad, I didn't find it quite as consistent with the likenesses as the first issue. And there were parts that left me wondering "huh" (like when Wash shut off the lights somehow or what was going on with those guys looking at Kaylee through a magnifying glass). But all in all, I felt this issue fell into the pitfall that many middle books do, having not really much meat to it as you bridge the gap from the first issue to the big climax in the third. And in the end, you feel like so much could be cut. The big splash pages and such of their dreams of what to do with their money for instance. After having said that, it wasn't a terrible issue but it's only part of the story and a pretty small and routine part at that. I'm hoping for something better with the big finale of the next issue. Overall, the series is worth checking out for Firefly/Serenity fans but it may be best to read it all at once.

Marvel Adventures Hulk #10 -- That's odd, I somehow missed issue 9. >:( Anywho, fortunately for me this book doesn't really have much of an ongoing story to it. In this one we get the Hulk meeting up with Juggernaut (not really important how). There's the required fight and such. All in all, it's still a good book for the younger audience or for Hulk fans just wanting a simple story. As such, you have to take things with a grain of salt. Yes, the Hulk doesn't put up that great a showing against Juggernaut but it's just part of the story. My only real problem with this issue was the cover, it just didn't sell what was on the inside. It was a little too "stylized" for my liking. On the regular Hulk book it would be one thing, with this book aimed at a younger audience (and having a slightly cartoony interior art style to it) I just didn't think it was the right way to go. Other than that, I'm happy to see a quality Hulk book aimed at kids.

Terry Moore's Echo #2 -- Talk about decompression, it almost felt like we weren't much further along after issue 2 than when we started. There were baby steps to furthering the story but a lot of the book is dedicated to filling in a bit more of Julie's life (such as a bit more on her relationship with her husband and the whole divorce thing going on). I really enjoyed Terry's work on Strangers in Paradise and he's an amazing storyteller but you have to be ready for a long term investment as some things are pretty spread out. I'm enjoying it so far but I can definitely understand waiting for a TPB on this one.

Also, the April Zuda competition is a go. I've read the candidates and I'm letting them sink in before reviewing them or voting. Hopefully I'll post some reviews soon. There is some interesting stuff this month but I think last month's selection was a bit stronger for me.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Weekly Recap

It seems posting on the weekends just isn't working for me. After my usual Sunday ball hockey game (which we lost again) I had so many errands to do that I didn't get home until about 5ish. But enough about me, what's been going on this week that caught my attention.

Obvious the first thing would be Secret Invasion #1. I'm not picking it up because I'm just not that interested to invest the time and money into it. But I am reading the spoilers so I know what's going on in the Marvel universe. I was pretty surprised that issue 1 led with as much as a bang as it did.

The Time/Warner vs Siegel family dispute is still a hot topic. I'm shaking my head at people trashing the Siegel family without reading the facts of the case. I've read up a bit more and they're well within their rights to take this legal action and all this talk about breaking promises or just being greedy is a load of BS in my opinion. Time/Warner has benefitted from being allowed to extend their copyrights beyond the original 56 years, it's only right that the creators (or their families) be compensated for that extension as well.

I'm really eager for quite a few comic book movies coming out this summer. I can't even remember all the ones that are coming out but the new Hellboy 2 trailer came out this week and I'm liking it. I really liked the first movie, even more so than the comic actually. And every time I see more clips from Iron Man I'm blown away. The Dark Knight's viral campaigns are entertaining to read about but I'm eager to see a new trailer for this one now. And pictures of the Spirit hit the web (yeah, I know it's not out this summer but oh well). I have mixed feelings about this one, especially with Frank Miller directing. It may turn out to be an entertaining movie to watch but I'm not sure it'll be capturing Will Eisner's the Spirit, or at least how I see the character.

Well, I'm sure there was more to talk about but it's back to work for me. If I think of something maybe I'll add an addendum or something. :)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Weekly Comic Reviews for April 2nd, 2008 -- SPOILERS

With my cutting back on Marvel titles I was a little surprised to have 5 books this week. But then I remembered that all 5 were either limited series or, as in the case of the Buffy series, a finite series. So let's get to it shall we...

Buffy Season Eight #13 -- This one was a weird one for me. Perhaps I just generate too much hype in my head but after reading this book I felt like "that's it???" Yet thinking back now it's hitting me that "yes, and it was good." There may not have been the "holy crap!!" moments that other issues had but it had a lot. It had the Dracula/Xander comedy (which may or may not have gone on a page too long for me), a touch of the Buffy/Satsu drama, and a "Oh crud!" moment as pretty important tidbit of the plans of the villains is revealed. The art was pretty solid though I didn't like some shots of Buffy, she just didn't look right at time. Maybe it was her looking too young or the hair being tied up like it was. Despite my initial reactions to it I think the issue was solid and I still eagerly await the next issue to see what happens next. So I still recommend it.

Angel: After the Fall #6 -- My feelings haven't changed since I first read this one, I remain somewhat disappointed in it. It just felt like there was no meat to it. The breaking up of the story into the individual characters' sub-stories seemed to limit what could be told and left me thinking "that's it, that's their reaction to this?" The only real story I felt was worth it was Connor's and that's only because of his flashbacks (which weren't all that necessary for those of us who've watched the show). And the take on Lorne's story just seemed out of place to me and took me out of the book. On the plus side, I felt the art was slightly stronger in this, even with the various artists, than previous issues. But it's not really an issue I could recommend.

Logan #2 (of 3) -- I was hoping this issue would be where things get turned around for me. Unfortunately, it still feels like a "been there, done that" kind of Wolverine story. Some of the small elements may be different (this guy who it seems you can't kill) and it's well written and drawn (you feel Logan's emotion as he opens up with the Japanese woman) but overall I'm not really feeling that much from this book. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have skipped this series. Not a bad pickup for the Wolverine fans out there but not a recommended read in my opinion.

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #2 (of 5) -- This series is losing its luster for me already. It definitely has a different feel and tempo from the first series. The art is lovely and all in this issue (though some panels I had no clue what it was showing) but I didn't need that many pages of them crossing that bridge. As a completist I'll probably finish out this series but unless something clicks soon I'll probably be dropping it after that. Another book I wouldn't put on my recommended reading list.

American Splendor Season Two #1 (of 4) -- It's odd for me that the book that probably had the least excitement happening in it seemed to have the most while I was reading it. I don't know how Peckar does it but he makes the most simple life story seem like an adventure. Of course, I don't think it would work nearly as well if it wasn't for his personality and quirks. It's definitely not for everyone but I really enjoy reading it. It makes my recommended reading list with the caveat that there's a good chance you'll wonder what the heck I was thinking when I recommended it.

I felt a little let down with this week's books but oh well, life goes on. Now I hope that the Invincible TPBs I ordered come in the mail today so I have something to read this weekend (on top of the crapload of other books I have that I want to read).