Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My End Of The Year Post

I know everyone and their dog are doing the end of year posts whether it's "The year in review" or "Top X comics of the year/decade" but I figured why go against tradition so I might as well join in. I won't be covering the decade or anything, this year was enough for me. It'll be a mix of comics/geek stuff and other things (but mostly comics) so you've been warned.

The year started off not so good for me. Ottawa was still dealing with a bus strike with no end in sight. And considering I don't own a car and am living in the burbs, I wasn't in a happy place. Friends and family stepped up to help with the essentials (work, groceries, etc) but other than that, I was stuck at home for the most part. It was a pretty rough time for me though admittedly, there were a lot of people who had it far worse.

So getting to the comics, this year really continued my transition away from the monthlies. I dropped titles or titles I was reading were dropped. It's got to the point now that after Buffy season 8 ends I will stop buying monthlies and go to trade paperbacks for my two remaining books, the Incredible Hulk and Elephantmen. On the topic of the Hulk, I initially hated the idea of the "new She-Hulk" but the character has grown on me a bit. I'm still not a big fan of her being "She-Hulk" as I'm still a fan of "the She-Hulk" but she's become someone I could follow. I still dislike the "Red Hulk" and Loeb's writing (on the Hulk books at least).

The first highlight in terms of print books was finally reading Sandman. It's a lot to take in but an excellent story. And I'm enjoying Invincible, the Walking Dead, Locke & Key, Fables, Jack of Fables (a recent/Christmas addition), Ex Machina, Umbrella Academy, and Mouse Guard, all in TPB or collected editions. I'm also looking forward to Powers picking up again and the conclusions to Planetary and Scott Pilgrim. So still plenty of reading, just in a different format. And I'll still be picking up the odd mini-series and such in collected forms.

Which leads me to the webcomics world. I was sorry to see "Celadore" and "Night Owls" come to an end, but at least they weren't like "I Rule the Night" which just stopped. I have picked up a few others along the way to fill the void. "Lily of the Valley" seems to be picking up as it goes and the "Abominable Charles Christopher" for instance may be my favourite webcomic. And I think Andy Belanger's "Bottle of Awesome" has been getting better as it's gone on. But admittedly, I have sort of stuck to webcomics on Zuda and DrunkDuck or followed some of the talent from those sites.

A definite highlight to my year was attending Canada Fan Expo 2009. It was my first big convention and I was a bit overwhelmed but it was definitely a weekend to remember. There were the tv/movie celebrities I got to meet (or just see in person) and there were the comic professionals. Most of the people I met were very friendly. I probably bugged Caanan and Andy Belanger the most by dropping by every once in a while to chat (when they weren't busy) but they were nice enough not to show any annoyance.

So that was a brief look at some of 2009 for me, at least the comic/geek related stuff (I'll leave the more personal rants and such for my friends and family). As for the coming year and the future, here are some of the things I'm looking forward to, either in 2010 or beyond. We have Josh Alves' latest webcomic, Heropotamus. It looks to be off to a good start and I enjoyed his Araknid Kid. There is the Guild comic written by Felicia Day (who took the time to comment on the sketch of Codex I did a while back, which was also a highlight of my year). Of course, there's Canada Fan Expo 2010 which I'm already looking forward to. We have Marvel purchasing Marvelman which I'll be picking up as soon as they get the Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman stuff back into print (I was really excited by that news this year). And personally, I'll be kicking off the final chapter of my webcomic, Divine Leap. And of course, I'm looking forward to more great stuff from the above mentioned books I'm reading.

So I'll just end 2009 by saying thank you to everyone who's stuck around to read this blog, to everyone who took the time to comment, and to anyone who just dropped by. I hope 2009 was good to you and that 2010 will be even better.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for December 23, 2009

My last weekly comic reviews post of 2009. I am planning a "2009 Year End" post for next week. I just have to look through the year's posts and see what I want to say. :)

Fall of the Hulks Gamma -- I really want to avoid the spoilers here... Let's start with the art. I have to be honest, I have seen better work from Romita Jr. Some parts just looked rather bad, like he just rushed through it way too quickly. And I can't say for sure where the story is going but all the "surprises" and "twists and turns" of this issue seemed not only forced but also could be seen coming from miles away. I almost didn't expect them to happen because they seemed too obvious but I was wrong. I have an idea where the story is going but again, it seems so obvious that I hope I'm wrong. Overall, not really liking this issue and don't really have high hopes for the storyline at the moment.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow -- I think I could have passed on this issue. First up, it takes place before the series started, so much has happened that it seems like revisiting that time isn't really all that necessary. Unless there's something important which I may have missed. You see a bit more of Willow's character but not really enough for a full comic. And I found the writing and dialogue felt a little off in the beginning, I just found it a little hard to follow. I did think Karl Moline did a good job on the likenesses and the art was pretty solid throughout, though the inks may have been a bit heavy in parts. Overall, a good issue for Buffy fans I suppose but not a great issue in my opinion.

So I end the year on two not-so-positive reviews. I have a few TPBs coming in so perhaps I'll do some reviews of those to end the year on a more positive note. But with that...

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for December 16, 2009

Let's get right to it shall we...

Darkness/Pitt #3 (of 3) -- First off, amazing artwork. I don't know if it was my print of the book or not but a few pages seemed a bit washed out where the inks and colours looked a little faded but still, really great. In some panels though the art seemed ... different than the previous issues. Maybe it was just the difference between when issue 1 was done and issue 2 but I don't know. Still, I really do love Dale Keown's work. It was a good conclusion to the story which I'd say was pretty good but really, it felt like just an excuse to get these characters together. And they were great together. Funny and intense. I did enjoy this series. One thing I said to Dale Keown when I met him briefly at Fan Expo Canada was that I almost wished the pages were larger to show off more of the detail of his work (though I don't think I put it that way and I think I just confused him or he thought I just wanted more pages, not too sure, but he was polite about it). Anywho, enough name dropping, I'd say this series is worth checking out.

Elephantmen #23 -- I was a little harsh on the last issue but I thought this one was much better in terms of art and the writing. It did feel a little weird and a bit jumpy as we get closure in some things and some new questions/stories seem to be starting up. I'd say it's a solid issue of what I consider a great series. And I guess that's all I have to say about that. :)

As an added bonus, here's the gift I drew for the DrunkDuck Secret Santa. It was for the user usedbooks who makes the comic Used Books.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for December 9th, 2009 -- SPOILERS

I decided to pick up the What if? World War Hulk special so a whopping two books to review. Spoilers abound.

Incredible Hulk #605 -- This was a pretty disappointing issue. I guess it all centers around Skaar feeling it necessary to be the one to kill the creatures from Sakaar but the book seemed to be all over the place. From Moleman's sad little story to Tyranus' appearance, it just seemed like a mix of things that were unnecessary to the story. Perhaps it's due to the fact that this is the calm before the Fall of the Hulks storm or it's just that I don't really care about these characters (including Skaar) all that much. Both Olivetti and Pelletier's art were nice but didn't really fit together over the story. And I felt the fight between Skaar and Tyranus could have been a bit clearer as to what was happening in some panels. Overall, not really a great issue in my opinion.

What if? World War Hulk #1 -- After the disappointment of the Incredible Hulk issue I really hoped this would be a good book. It wasn't. It was really bad. I almost wondered if the creators had even read the World War Hulk series. The Hulk just didn't feel like the "Green Scar" Hulk that was in World War Hulk. And the idea of "what if the heroes had lost" just seemed off because it's not really like they won World War Hulk in the first place. This was more like "what if the heroes really screwed up and killed themselves" and focused on the Skrull/Secret Invasion. The Thor joining WWH story was really bad. So a trainload of people convinced the Hulk to talk it out with Thor? That seemed really weak. Some of the cartoons at the end were pretty funny though. But a very week issue of What if? and not something I'd recommend.

So yeah, not a very good week I felt.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Very late reviews for December 2nd, 2009 (and older)

I was travelling for work last week but I was finally able to pick up my books from last week which included the second issue of "The Stuff of Legend" (my comic shop missed ordering it for me the first time around).

The Stuff of Legend #2 -- I thought that this was advertised as a two issue story but it looks like only chapter 1 is two issues and there's not a lot of closure with the ending of chapter 1. This was a really solid issue though. A lot of emotions at play and unique characters showing their range. And the art is really beautiful and solid storytelling for the most part (a few scenes took me a minute to figure out but weren't too bad). I have seen/heard people comparing this to Toy Story (it is toys coming to life after all) but I think that really does this a disservice, there's so much more to the story and the characters. I'm really looking forward to seeing where the story and characters go so I'm a little disappointed in the length of time between issues (I think the second volume is set to start in the spring 2010, around the same time as the collected version of the first two issues) but at least they're upfront with the schedule. I definitely recommend checking this one out, especially with the Free Comic Book Day book online.

Fall of the Hulk Alpha #1 -- I was on the fence as to whether or not I would be picking this series up but I decided to give it a try, I need some books to review after all. I'll see where it goes and drop it if I need to pick up Loeb's Red Hulk stuff (seriously, even the characters who created him are refering to him as "a Red Hulk" as in "we will create a Red Hulk"?). First up, I love Pelletier's work. I thought the inking here was a little rough but still really impressive art. As for the story, I'm not a huge fan of this trend towards "Look, we have another group of masterminds who have secretly been behind all these events in the Marvel Universe. Isn't that clever?" How many "secret groups" are there and how many have Doom involved? Though I guess that makes sense for Doom. I do have to admit to kinda liking the explanation of this group being behind helping each other out when they get caught or worse, explaining their (and other character's) unexplained freedom and reappearances throughout the years. But in the end I was sort of "meh, it feels like it's been done very recently by the Illuminati and the Cabal." If you're a big Hulk fan and looking forward to Fall of the Hulks this is a pretty important book, but I wasn't really blown away by anything in the story yet. Just have to see where things go I suppose.