Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Comics Day

Couple books for reading on x-mas eve...

Hulk
Wonder Woman

Hulk has been an unexpected highlight of the year with a double dose of Art Adams and Frank Cho the last three issues. Frank Cho is always great to see drawing and he certainly was a good fit for Red Hulk's bash against She-Hulk and her Lady Liberators. The story was fun if a bit light on any sort of plot outside of an well drawn, extended fight scene. There was a small story twist but it's hard to see me following it unless the follow up art is of equal caliber.

Seeing Art Adams, however, feels like more of a gift. It's far too rare to see him doing sequential pages, and every one of the Las Vegas-based Hulk/Wendigo pages was a reminder of how unique and inspiring that art can be. I hope it is a sign of things to come with Adams back on the scene (outside of comics covers that seem to keep him working, of course).

Aaron Lopresti's art has been the primary draw of picking up the Wonder Woman Monthly, but that's not to say Writer Gail Simone is doing a bad job. She's off and on for me, at times crafting detailed and well constructed tales, at others hacking out less than inspiring material (-ahem- Gen13 -cough-). With the last arc and the current "Rise of the Olympian" storyline, she appears to be slowly crafting her own Mythology For Wonder Woman, something that every Wonder Woman author of note has attempted, and with such expectation that it must be demanded by the work contract. Of the most regarded (or noticeable) may be that of George Perez and John Byrne. Perez set the tone of Wonder Woman for many that followed and I feel is still looked upon as the de-facto mythos. Personally Ifound great enjoyment from Byrne's take on the whole shebang, as strange and abstract as it sometimes was in both style and content. I mentioned Simone is "slowly" building up the foundations, which is one of my grievances. I would prefer things get going already, only because I've no clue how long Rise of The Olympian may be taking before the entry of the already announced "Manazons" storyline. Why I point back to Byrne is that with Wonder Woman he was introducing new concepts and contexts at a dizzying pace, giving his run on the book a palpable acceleration while offering a dense and entertaining read. Particularly of note was the backstory he introduced explaining the split that generated between the once singular Roman and Greek Pantheons, great stuff. As with Perez, many of Byrne's Wonder Woman trappings are still around in the DCU today, one wonders how Simone's will fare as time marches on.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Comics Day

I had to stop for gas on the way to the comics shop. $1.57! How crazy is that? The price fluctuation of the past six months just proves the whole thing is a racket. As soon as the public at large comes even close to a united fron on alternative energy initiative, BAM! Gas suddenly falls to half price. Don't worry, it'll go back up again. But I digress...

Terra
Silverfish

Terra was a really cool series, I think in lighter times it would survive for a while longer. Alas, it's got no Crisis or RIP or Death of the New Something or Other... and those are exactly the things that made it so great! Nice compact little story, new characters, gust stars like Power Girl and Geo_Force. OH and that amazing Amanda Connor art. Luckily her Power Girl series can't be far off!

Nice new collection of Silverfish, too. David Lapham is running on all cylinders over on Young Liars. I hope they give a new offering of Murder Me Dead as well. Maybe even Stay Bullets will get the treatment in this collection-friendly environment.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Venture Bros. Season 3 DVD is Oh Em Gee


Aside from being an awesome show, The Venture Bros. also benefits from Adult Swim's deep and quenching well of package design. The just-released image of reason 3's packaging is retro-riffic and smile-inducing.

Season 3 itself was fantastic, can't wait for this!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two Comics Day

Crisis of Crisis.

Green Lantern Corps
Young Liars

Good reads both, especially Young Liars.

But instead lets talk about what I didn't buy, Final Crisis #5.

I read it at the store, and I only feel slightly guilty about that. The thing is, it's got pieces of really cool stuff in there, beyond my previous notes of Morrison trying to fry my brain. Reading this ish, I finally got it-- and "it" doesn't matter.

DC has effectively shot themselves in the foot by having monumental "events" three or four years running. The only two that stand out to me are Rann/Thanagar War and Sinestro Corps... because they were awesome. Maybe other readers found different events to be awesome, but the point is there were alot of them. So in Final Crisis, following Both Infinite Crisis (ugh) and 52 (yawn) and dozens of tie-ins, the massive setup that Morrison is clearly eager to lay out has but a fraction of the impact it should have. Clearly having this arc with Darkseid angling towards true godhood would in other circumstances be profoundly epic. But I'm afraid I'm all epic-ed out.

I have to admit that I've been reading comics for too long, I know how it's all going to pan out anyways. The Crisis can be as Final with a capital F as it wants, but we all know it's nearly the opposite. While I as both an avid reader of comics and everything else desperately wish comics would truly grow and evolve its respective universes and foundations, it's not going to happen. There will be no new "age" golden or otherwise because the marketeers just don't have the balls anymore. There's too much at stake as it were, what with property rights, multimedia extensions, and overall branding issues. You know, the money.

And that is why comics as an industry must fail for it to truly succeed as a creative endeavor. Only when there is nothing at stake can real risks be taken. Other companies are doing this in some respects, but are still too young to hit that sweet spot where all the creative cylinders are firing and the audience is there. Some are on the cusp, others unfortunately didn't last long enough to get there. The Big Two are far too old and bloated, past what made them great and clinging to that past in order to stay afloat. The world of on-line readership is the new frontier, but the proper model and execution has not been found.

Often I speak to friends of how I long for print to die. Not for some futurist vision of a paperless society, not for the promotion of technology in the information age, no sir. Out of love. My love for print is selfish, only in death can it be truly appreciated. The best of what comics has to offer is entrenched in print, may its end be swift and soon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Smallville's Legion

From a recent episode of Smallville, we have the introduction of the Legion of Superheroes.


I never followed the show, there's only so much re-invention of canon I can take. But occasionally they do some cool things with the Superman gallery, even if they are to be introduced to a generation removed from my own.

Here with the Legion, I particularly like the contemporary costume details. Saturn Girl's t-shirt emblem is a given, and the the bolts on Lightning Lad's jacket are pretty slick. But the primo attention to detail has to be the metal studs on Cosmic Boy's jacket. Nice touch, costume dept.

Of course if you follow Smallville, you're sure to be a reader of Kryptonsite. Or if you're just interested in random plots and comics characters brought to the small screen, they've got you covered there, too.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Northlanders: Sven the Returned

Northlanders: Sven the Returned

"Waiting for the trade" has paid off with Vertigo's Northlanders, tho I guess I should be glad the floppy survived long enough to warrant it. Individual issues are no doubt as good, but I'm more than happy with the collected format for this viking tale.

Vikings roam aplenty in Brian Wood's telling of protagonist Sven's homecoming to a community gone corrupt in his absence. It follows Sven about midway through the classic hero's journey as he wroks to reclaim his birthright with just enough time to lose it again. Bloodletting, treachery, passion, and redemption comb thru the desolate northern landscapes of this early and brutal civilization.

Ah, but there is a hook. Wood tells the story in historical time and context, but does so with all contemporary dialogue. No "Thous" or "Thrices" or heavy Odinspeak. Primarily it's cussing and lots of it. It pulls your attention as it starts but quickly seems the norm as Wood spins out a pseudo-translation of an ancient language into the words and curses prevalent in any modern argument or R-rated movie. It's not too excessive, nor is it pandering by incorporating unnecessary slang that would come across as blatantly anachronistic. Indeed you attach yourself to Sven quickly, which is a feat in itself considering what an unapologetic bastard he is. With this style Wood once again adds to his library of multiple genres that appeal to a wide audience.

The interior art is good stuff by Italian artist Davide Gianfelice. It has that great look and feel of European inkwork, a misture of tight rendering and loose detail over a clearly strong foundation. The book is noticeably colored in a "film grain" style by top notch colorist Dave McCaig. It's a little busy in places but finds a good balance as pages go on. The paper is of lower stock, but it holds ink well and was a good choice for the book with it's style of color. The pages soak up more ink to diffuse the stipple effect that may have been too glaring in glossier stock. Also (thankfully) showcased at chapter breaks are the fantastically graphic covers by Massimo Carnivale.

The series appears to be staying on its feet, tho I'll be waiting for the next collection wich will be an easy choice to purchase.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New Comics Delay

Post T-day reading with some good looking books.

Secret Invasion
Terra
Superman/Batman Vengeance TPB

So the Secret Invasion is no longer a secret. All over and done with, and only slightly anti-climactic. Except the art--- top notch the whole way. But really, what was going to go down? Yes, there are some interesting conclusions, and the overall theme and concept held its own. Stilll... nothing to flip our lids over, and it's almost humorous how the final chapter sloly start leading things back to the status quo. The Marvel U will never be a place for mega fiction on levels that can truly evolve. I think therein lies the true nature of comics lost audience. Eventually every generation has read them all, and realize everything "new" is just a variation on a them. There no reason it can't just go on and on, tho there does seem to be a level of diminishing returns that eventually won't be able to sustain itself. Still a ways off perhaps.

What we had was an opportunity that came too soon. Just as Marvel finally gets its multimedia ducks in a row and can present their characters to the masses the way they've always wanted -- I"m talking about the movies now-- they can't up and destroy or re-invent the core of fictional their universe. Maybe next time.

Terra, yay! DC should have just bit it and published the whole thing as a mini trade. Would that have been so bad, really?

The Superman/Batman collection is a good buy if you're a fan of Ed McGuinnes. His super-clean and playful style is in use over wide variety of characters in this story and alot of fun to look at. Actually reading it isn't going to be as fun, I'm afraid. But McGuinnes' visuals are so strong it works out in his favor.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Chex Likes to Party



I spyed this collection of new Chex boxes at a recent grocery run. Chex over the years seems to have directed its focus on being a party mix rather than a ceral, and the new boxes certainly promote that. Almost overly simplistic, but sure looks cool on the shelves.

Too bad the current Chex web site doesn't reflect the new look.

Rut Roh, Raggy!


Zoinks! A quick perusal of the blog see's that I've written about nothing but comics for weeks! Seeing as this week's comics run is delayed a day, I best be putting together some new posts. Not to mention some filler for xmas break.

On with it then!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Comics Day

A few books for T-Day reading.

Hulk
Wonder Woman
Body Bags


Woot! Art Adams and Frank Cho are back on Hulk #8! Pay no mind to those little balloons with squiggly lines in them, they just get in the way.

According to the Cover of Wonder Woman #26, "Rise of the Olympian" begins. Artist Aaron Lopresti is back from a short break, and the insides are as keen as ever, if not precursor to some dark times. Looks like WW gets her ass kicked something fierce.

Treat of the week belongs to the Body bags One Shot. While not a huge follower of Body Bags from days past, I do really dig the art of Jason Pearson. His tight yet playful style is in top form and is good enough excuse to pick up the book.

Hrm... the conclusion to Batman RIP also shipped to day. Seriously? Wow. If the culprit was indeed [Spoiler], things appear a bit more interesting than they once were. I read at the store and tried to keep pace, Morrison is throwing a ton of crazy shit out there. Tho I'd say for what was supposed to be the definitive end to (this era's) Bruce Wayne, "definitive" wouldn't be the best word.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Comics Day

Terra
Uncanny X-Men

Terra looks to be on a biweekly schedule, which is fine by me. Its packed to the brim with great art and Conner-style cheesecake. Plus >gasp< story! I like it so far, comics can still be fun. Who needs Crisis???

I don't pay much attention to X-Men, but Terry Dodson is on Uncanny-- well, half of it, in an odd rotating schedule with Greg Land. Anywhoo... this particular ish was full of signature Dodson beauties and it looked interesting enough to pick up.

What? That's it? Guess so. I have been picking up some trades on the sly and I'll have another slate of reviews posted soon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Comics Day

Two good comics, and one great book.

Green Lantern Corps
Young Liars
Fables Covers by James Jean

I regularly espouse my liking of both Green Lantern Corps and Young Liars. The extra special treat this week is a wonderful collection fron Vertigo, the Fables covers of James Jean.

Jean's art is pretty god damn amazing. I can barely come up with a bunch of flowery text to describe it. It's both ethereal and impactful, with some of the most astounding uses of color I've had the pleasure to admire. The composition is near flawless, and the varying subjects that all tie to the collected mythos speaks strongly to Jean's stature as a true artist.

That myhtos in this new book is of course a hefty collection of art from his definitive run on Fables. It's great not only because of the skill and beauty employed within, but for its very love of the subject. The book itself is nicely constructed, with large pages and good paper stock as one would expect. The reproductions are well represented, I wish some of the designers involved on this project paid as much attention to DC and Vertigo's monthly covers, where there seems to be an epidemic of poorly reproduced digital art for print. Not to mention It's quite rare to have a collection of this caliber featuring covers from just one title, I dare say some other titles should get this treatment as well. Adam Hughes and Wonder Woman and Catwoman? Surely in the works would be a collection Dave Johnson's 100 covers for the soon to be complete 100 Bullets...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

New Comic (and President) Day

Only one comic for me this week, but it's the only one I needed, really. Terra looks to be a relaunch of the classic Teen Titans character. New Terra has had a few brief cameos prior and this series was supposed to be the official introduction. For one reason or another it was shelved, put on hold, de-Crisised, whatever. But it's out this week!

Why does that make me happy? The interior art by Amanda Conner. She's one of my "it" artists, who's art I follow wherever it goes. Fantastic stuff, and a great prelude to her upcoming Power Girl series. Go Conner go!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Comics Day

Good stuff this week!
FC: Rage of the Red Lanterns
Empowered v4 (!!)
Kill Your Boyfriend (!)

Empowered 4!!!! Empowered 4!!!! My love for this series is high and mighty, I cannot wait to crack it open and dig thru the myriad of Warrenesque superhero shenanigans. While repleat with scrumptious and hyperkinetic artwork, Empowered is also one of the best examples of Adam Warren's uncanny writing skills that instantly endear you to new characters, a ridiculously rare skill not found in 99% of new properties. Even rooted in comicbook hero canon, Empowered introduces new and fresh concepts snuggled ever-so-deftly into the zeitgeists of pop culture, something many (many) books could take lesson from.

Kill Your Boyfriend is one of my all time favorite comics. It's just been re-released in a snazzy new edition, if you haven't read it, just buy it already. It's Grant Morrison spinning yarn at his non-superhero best. The art by Philip Bond, another fave of mine, is a perfect match. In fact I think it was Kill Your Boyfriend that first introduced me to Bond.

Final Crisis, Rage of the Red Lanterns, it's the only FC tie-in I've picked up. Or that I have a desire to, In that I've a continued interest in the Lantern Spectrum storyline. The book is (while not my highest endorsement) written by Geoff Johns, who is directing all things Green, so the FC tie in appears more of a marketing decision than something directly tied to whatever the Final Crisis turns out to be.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Comics Day

Final Secret Crisis Invasion!

Final Crisis
Secret Invasion
Northlanders v1
Hulk

Secret Invasion, okay. As it has, it looks amazing, but reads a little less so. I found the epic scenes this ish to be a bit more worthy, and I feel they could have been even more so if such things hadn't been over emphasized in previous issues. Here at the tail end, I was really hoping for more of a mindfuck. Some consequence, even. Silly me, right? There is a possibility that the last issue could turn everything upside down, but I'm not counting on it.

Over in Crisis land, man I tell you I still don't know what the actual "crisis" is. At least with Infinite Crisis there was a driving plotline, if negligibly defined as a "crisis," and the outcome of the restored multiverse. I do want Morrison do do his thing, but in regards to the DCU, what thing is that exactly? I see the direction of the story, and the conflicts involved, but have yet to make the connection to the universe spanning crisis and its supposed finality.

On the FC subject of artistry musical chairs, Jones cannot be faulted for being unable to finish the book if it was DC's decision to pull in some ringers. This ish was way late and momentum counts in crossover events. And the finishing choices of Pacheco and Manhke are strong contenders each for my wanting to have seen them on the whole series, let alone a chapter or two. Regular comics readers know that the choices and execution could have been much, much worse.

I dug the look and feel of Northlanders, but decided to pass on the floppies. Northlanders to me is the perfect book to pick up as a trade, and for Vertigo to start releasing exclusively as trades. Vertigo does need to make careful choices here to meet costs, where the Northlanders trade uses a lighter paper stock, the coloring and art style of the book works well with it. As a side note, the trusty sales clerk pointed out to me that the trade costs $15 less than the individual issues. Trades are the future, people.

One more note on trades and paper. Today marked the release of the first volume of very nice hardcovers for Y the Last Man. Excellent, clean package and great paper. I've since sold off my collection of Y and looked at this series of hardcovers as a likely replacement candidate. If you'd like to get into Y, or like me replace your issues, this is a great way to go.

BONUS!! Hulk # 7 oooooh yeahhh... An issue divided between Art Adams and Frank Cho??!! DREAM DUO.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

99 Bullets

From DC's solicitations for 100 Bullets #99,

"...this is not a jumping-on point in case you were wondering."

/golfclap

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No Comics Day

No comics of interest for me this week, but a couple good pickups nonetheless.

I've been a follower of Illustration Magazine for some time. Whenever I'm down or blue about the state of art in the world today, along comes Illustration to remind me of all the greats that came before; dreams of the future of art need only look to its past to see the unbridled potential. Every issue is an amazing look at the history of the form at its best, and the last few issues have been have been extra so.

Speaking of amazing Illustration, I also picked up Mike Hoffman's Newspaper Girls, a fantastic collection of experimental pinups Hoffman did over the course of a year-- all with a sharpie on actual newspaper pages. Super cool.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New Comics Day

A sweet book and some comics.

Green Lantern
Green Lantern Corps
Young Liars
Hellboy Library v2

I tell you, I cannot resist such things as the Hellboy Library Editions. That is because I both love Hellboy and have a library. Oversized, clothbound hardcovers packed with great stories and art are good old fashioned biblioporn.

Every once in a while, Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps ship the same week. Maybe on purpose, maybe just because the release schedules fall out of sync. On one hand you'd like to offer comics readers and GL fans something to return to the store for and pick up every other week, spread out the spending. Especially in light of other potential offerings like oversized, clothbound hardcovers. On the other hand, just give GL fans an extra helping of what they like all together. It's an odd call.

But What I'd like to talk to you about today is David Lapham's Young Liars. Not because it's a good book. Because it is a cray-zee goooood book. It started as a wild adventure romp amongst friends starting local and moving international, with quirk tumbling over quirk amidst strained relationships bearing monumental emotional baggage and history. This is doled out in little chunks throughout a madcap run-and-gun and was addictive as the series established its start.

But now as the story enters its second arc, things have gone batshit insane and it is awesome. Things previously hinted at about Sadie's character are expanded on in bizarre and unexpected ways. Her actual story takes center stage rather than the antics of the character that demanded it in chapters prior. Sure, practically anything goes as far as the series has been setting up so far. But writer/artist Lapham takes that shit all the way south into realms of absurdity that can only be observed as genius. The book is at times brash and harsh, at others a roller-coaster of the improbable. Ridiculously entertaining, it's a book I must read as each new issue comes forth and simply can't wait for the trade.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New Comics Day

Top 10
Vampirella Crimson Chron. Maximum
Savage Sword of Conan

Top 10? Aroo? Where did this come from? It may not be Alan Moore behind the curtain but it is Gene Ha and Zander Cannon, and that ain't bad. Um, waitaminnit. Wasn't Gene Ha supposed to be doing Authority? Oh, no, that was abandoned and Authority started over again this summer. WildStorm is a clusterfuck on a good day.

But here's a treat: Vampirella Crimson Chronicles Maximum, v1. Luscious late 60's-early 70's art in delectable black and white, by artists who know how to draw. I'm telling you, this shit is bananas. Plenty of Vampi cheesecake to boot, snuggled inside those wacky tales of a bygone comics era.

Treat number two is a companion of sorts, Savage Sword of Conan v4, also a boon of black and white goodness. But WHY Dark Horse WHY? Why did you wait until volume FOUR to start printing on the good paper??? I am mystified as much as I am enthralled by the now extra-crisp Buschema art.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Comics Day

Got a couple weeks to catch up on, but all very good stuff!

Last week:
All Star Superman
Local collected HC

This week:
New Avengers
Conan vol. 6

I was a little late to the party, but last week had two stellar offerings. The first would of course be the last issue of the Millar/Quitely All Star Superman, or so they would have us believe. Still it concludes what is for certain something I count as one of the all time great Superman stories, fantastically existing in and of itself. Inevitable trades are sure to follow, perhaps even a full 12-issue collection ala Watchmen's softcover brick or even in Absolute format. However so, it will be a must have collection for many reasons.

Speaking of must have collections, Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's entire run of Local has been collected in a sweet hardcover by Oni Press. I've noted how much I love Kelly's art before, and the matte paper in this edition compliments his black and white art so much better than the high gloss in the floppies. Wood again delivers the goods with a string of seemingly separate but interconnected tales of a not-so-average young woman's travels. The book is presented nicely and has a great heft. The kicker-- it's just 30 bucks for over 300 pages! Go out and buy this thing, already!

Dark Horse's Conan is just good. This volume marks the end of the first series, as the monthly book has restarted with the Cimmerian age. But for me the collections are what I look forward to, I have them all and enjoy them thoroughly. They look oh so nice together on a shelf!

Secret Invasion tie-in aside, this week's New Avengers features art by Jim Cheung. Reason enough to pick it up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Sargasso Awaits!


Avast! Work away your druthers-- for today be Talk Like a Pirate Day once more!

Flog yer clogs across the planks and stitch your britches up for adventure on the high seas! Speak wise to Neptune for waves of flight and not bite, trade in your favors to the West Winds to fill the sails rightly and long. Thar be treasure afoot, mayhaps across a sandy beach through a ferny grove, or up on the big blue plundered from the Queen's good graces. Slack not yer pirate ways-- by the sword what's yours shall be yours!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Please make it stop



Archie Unveils New Logos, via The Beat.

More at Comics Worth Reading

Just... bummer. To keep things brief before I have a fury-induced aneurism, this design direction is depressingly generic and diminutive. They are lost on the covers and lack the personalities they should represent. Another blow to American design, this is doubly shameful considering that there still exists a bevy of talented typographers and designers readily available to offer unique custom lettering for such iconic titles.

This is part of our artistic heritage, Archie should care and so should you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Comics Day

Doesn't look like anyone slipped and fell into a black hole, and comics have arrived on schedule.

Green Lantern Corps
Secret Invasion
Wonder Woman
Young Liars

Green Lantern Corps is getting weird. Good weird.

Lopresti is on break from Wonder Woman, which is a shame because it would have been fantastic to see him portray all the costume changes in this issue. The pinch-hit art isn't bad, but after the quality Lopresti consistently delivered on the last arc and change is noticeable.

Secret Invasion is not looking like it will win me over in the end. Here in issue 6 of 8, the pages are very impressive and Yu seems to be killing himself in true Perezian fashion-- but the truth is nothing really happens. In this issue more-so than others, the feeling is pressed that there is a shitload of events going on in other books (all other books, actually) and that the core title is just a wrapping. I am not a fan of that. The core story and events should be in the core book, with other books being the extension of that story. But such is the way of the mega crossover. Here's what the book left me with:

Page 19 - 20
DOUBLE PAGE SPREAD
ALL HEROES

IRON MAN: ASSEMBLE!

PAGE 21 - 22
DOUBLE PAGE SPREAD
ALL HEROES FIGHT ALL SKRULLS


Does that mean I can write for Marvel?

Here on the Edge of Forever


Just in case, by some strange, (un)explainable phenomenon, we all fold into some compressed time singularity, I just want to say it's been swell.

The Big Picture: Large Hadron Collider of Doom

CERN

LHC Homepage

Apple is the prettiest girl in school


(and she totally puts out)

iPod Nano g4

Apple September Keynote

Update: So entranced was I by the new iPod Nano spectrum that I actually had a dream about it. My dream Nano was green, as it would be were I to get one in the waking world.

Apple continues to put out the slickest, feature packed, user friendly devices that only suffer from one common malady: cool has a price. As an addendum to the joke above, you'd undoubtedly be soaked for a lobster dinner or two. While the iPod shuffle remains an incredible value of tech (now at $50), the new feature-rich Nanos set you back $150 for 8 gigs. If you already own an iPod, a quick glance will show you that 8 gigs will not get too far as a replacement even for your older g2s or 3s. The 16 gig Nano is more appropriate (my own iTune library clocks in just shy of 15), but bumps things up to $200 and tax, making the colorful trinket a bit of a shell out. But even the upped storage is a fraction of what most of my more musically minded friends would require, far exceeding even the top tier iPods, so an iPod substitute the Nano is not.

Holding a chunky subset of ones library is a keen ability of the shiny new Nano, albeit a pricy one, so clearly it's marketed towards the casual music listener with expendable income. Those that like to partition their library or simply never accumulate more than a few thousand songs seem prime targets. By comparison to a $250 iPod, the $200-ish Nano may find its way into more than a few hands while the iPod itself remains the high-end consumer device for music lovers. Or you could fill your car with gas 4 or 5 times.

I did play around with Genius. It's cool in theory, but not quite "genius" yet. There were alot of no-go selections, which according to Apple will decrease over time as more and more people provide their library data and algorithms and all kind of seeding AI stuff that will likely lead to the robot uprising. It's a little cheeky to request so much information from users to better an AI, but that's how it works, at least it's passive. No one's gonna chide me for all the television theme songs I have, right? The Genius recommendations for the iTunes Store are slightly better, but traditionally iTunes recommendations are mostly bunk. The best recco's usually come from friends.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite

I had a couple of friends tell me I'd enjoy this book, and it was something I noticed on the shelves. Yet more and more these are the days of the trade, and The Umbrella Academy from Dark Horse makes a damn good case for it.

Going in I didn't know what the book was about, so I went in blind and gleefully enjoyed the hell out of it. Surely I would have enjoyed the individual issues as well, but reading the whole story as a big chunk over a couple of nights is immensely satisfying. Bonafide rock star Gerard Way delivers a solid, super science adventure full of oddity and awe. It is surprisingly layered and the world Way creates has an underlying fiction that peels away like onion skin leading readers ever deeper into its harsh reality accented by wit and charm.

The story follows the lives of seven children who eventually form the Umbrella Academy, each with a unique skill or ability, but far removed from the average superhero tropes we read again and again. Some are downright esoteric, but are employed imaginatively or even just hinted at. The storytelling jumps rapidly from one scenario to the next, randomly skipping years both forward and backward, eventually letting little bits fall into place as the plot reaches its climax. This is some seriously good storytelling not just in structure but in execution. Every great thing about weird science is touched on or boldly invented, both as key plot points or throwaway lines. My own fires were lit again and again as different aspects unfolded, often muttering to myself, "I can't believe how good this is," after finishing a chapter. The Academy members are instantly endeared as both children and adults, and I won't even begin to describe them here. Trust me, it's best to discover on your own.

Gabriel Ba's artwork is the perfect compliment, being a striking and stylistic emphasis on shape and character, invoking the likes of Mike Mignola and Tim Sale while retaining an independent flavor. It has that extra indie quirk that adds to the oh-so-elusive "accessibility" I tend to speak of now and again. The story calls for plenty of bizarre and epic situations which are handled spectacularly, yet the small, emotional moments hold onto their significance in the Academy's strange and often tragic lives.

I may be late to the party in regards to catching up with Umbrella Academy, but I'll sure be promoting it from here out. Easily one of my highest recommendations.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

New Comic Delay

Green Lantern continues the "Secret Origin" storyline, which is likely to be culled heavily for the GL movie Hollywood seems to be jonesing for.

I am enjoying it for the most part, however it is a retelling of things GL readers have certainly read before. I do take umbrage with the forced inclusion of characters in to this "origin" that weren't necessarily there before. I understand why an author might want to tie a supporting cast together, but to do so retroactively comes off a bit forced. Everybody doesn't have to know each other from day one. Everything in the world of GL doesn't have to be connected. The Green Lantern mythos is rooted strongly in the grand cosmic, it's almost a betrayal of science fiction (and arrogant) to lead readers to believe everything points to Hal Jordan.

That's what's so great about the Silver Age GL's, they were just wingin' it. They just let things build over time and built the universe around Jordan instead of from him.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Killing Girl

Maybe you saw Killing Girl when it was out as single issues from Image last year, maybe you didn't. Recently released is the collected edition, so if you missed it the first time, there's an even better reason to look for it now.

Created and written by Glen Brunswick, you may not be surprised to learn that the book revolves around a girl and some killing. Yes it's a bit more complex than that as the heroine Sara discovers her origins and true identity one little suppressed memory at a time, amidst her violent ballet of blades and bullets.

The standout feature of the book is the art, and it is two-fold. If you like espionage and sexy assassins, you'll like the book, sure. But if you enjoy art, you will love this book. The first third is by none other than Frank Espinosa, who blew me away a few years ago with his introduction of Rocketo. Here his beautiful, graceful (digital?) brushwork continues to amaze, with pages that display a seemingly effortless panache. His linework is loose but bold, his colors striking and unexpected. Simply put, Espinosa is singular in his style, and it is stunning.

The remainder of the book is by Toby Cypress, and in a way it's even better than what precedes it. Not in terms of skill, but in how the complimentary but evocative style accelerates the whole book to its conclusion. Cypress' art is just balls out in every direction, free and unfettered as if it was put down immediately from brain to pen to paper. His lines and figures are wonky and unpredictable, but every bit as sexy and daring as I've ever seen. Aided by colorist Rico Renzi, the palette expands and evolves from that set up by Espinosa, growing to accommodate the runaway train of Cypress' pages. Like Espinosa, Cypress presents visually that which has no comparison on the shelves, and by jove it's wicked cool.

At 15 bucks, the trade is in my opinion a must have for comics and book readers on the art enthusiast side. The subject matter and content keeps the book away from being all ages or an entry level read, but outside of that-- and based purely on the visuals-- I can't think of a reason not to pick it up.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Apocalipstix

The Apocalipstix from Oni is a great little book. It can be boiled down to Josie and the Pussycats by way of Mad Max: a three babe band survives doomsday and just keeps on rockin'. Writer Ray Fawkes constructs the stories as short chapters, avoiding any complicated setups in favor of hopping right into the action. It's a fallout world send-up with road warriors, giant atomic ants, and electric guitars. It's not taken seriously and that's most of the appeal because the stories spotlight on fun.

I say "most" of the appeal because the treat here is art by Cameron Stewart. It's a bold, thick-lined style with tons of character. It's hard not to flip through the book multiple times to enjoy his renderings of Mandy, Dot, and Megumi amidst the post-apocalyptic mess their world has become. The end of the book promotes volume 2, and it's definitely something to look forward to!

I'm a Cam Stewart follower for sure, and he has a new art book out, Cameron Stewartwork from the utmostly awesome Brand Studio Press. It's a wonderful full-color collection of his art studies and of course dozens of beautifully rendered women. You can get the book direct from Brand Studio or Stuart Ng Books.

The Apocalipstix Official Site

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No Comics Day?

Yeah, a big fat goose-egg this week. I've got some more book reviews coming tho.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fantastic Four: The End

"The End" mini-series of Marvel books take a look at a protracted final adventure of a hero or group. Not to be confused with "The Last [Marvel Character] Story," tho. They can never really be canon, since the Marvel licenses themselves are eternal and will evolve over time as the company sees fit. But these stories do allow favored creators to give it their all for a fictional extrapolation of what may be.

With Fantastic Four's "End," I can't imagine anyone doing a better job than Alan Davis. And he is in good company, as the aforementioned The Last Fantastic Four Story was drawn by Romita Jr. and written by Stan Lee himself. But Davis both writes and draws his End tale, and it is because of his focused vision that the outcome is so great.

The book reads wonderfully as a collected trade, replete with science fiction surrounding a bevy of Marvel's best characters. Davis has been writing as long as he's been drawing, and it's hard to choose which to favor. He especially excels with established characters in slightly of kilter realities. That was the foundation of what made his Excalibur issue so great, and helped deliver the awesome Nail books for DC. ClanDestine can be considered Davis' own in many ways but it's still with characters like the Fantastic Four and their supporting cast that something really special comes into play.

FF's End jumps ahead years into an almost utopian future, the the Fantastic Four themselves have gone on to lead separate lives. Ben Grim lives a happy family life with Alicia and their children among the Inhumans, Johnny Storm is a member of the Avengers. Reed and Sue are estranged since the group parted, resulting from a tragic last battle with Doctor Doom whose casualties included the Richards' children. Reed, consumed with work, chooses denial to deal with his pain while Sue searches for newer adventures to stave off the grief. The Marvel U is now a galactic one, and of course something's afoot that steadily builds to bring the heroes back together for that final resolution and ever-needed closure.

And it's all in Davis' unmistakable polished style. Kids, this is what great comics look like. Aside from some of the best representations of Marvel characters your likely to see, there are fantastic futuristic settings and worlds with characters who have aged both gracefully and heroically. Pages are packed with armadas of spaceships, high tech labs, operatic settings, and fist throwing, ray-blasting heroes and bad guys. The whole book is gorgeous, with the resplendently paired inks of Mark farmer and great colors of John Kalisz. I'll also mention lettering veteran Dave Lanphear not because I have to, but because his tight and non-intrusive balloons in a dialog heavy story really brings it home as a finished package.

Having no ties to continuity, it reads great if you're not a die-hard Marvel reader. It just plain good sci-fi that happens to be in the Marvel setting. As a reader myself, it reminds of the best that Marvel was when it meant the most to me, it calls to that era that seems so long gone in comparison to todays books.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No Comics Day

No floppies for me this week. :-(

So instead I bought Batgirl.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hitman Two this is Hitman Two Actual


Oh how I am loving Generation Kill. Ed Burns + HBO = good television.

Set during the initial push into Iraq by US forces, the show follows a group of Recon Marines in the middle of one of our country's greatest clusterfucks. You know, I think the military first coined the word "clusterfuck," but... This is one of those portrayals of the Iraq situation where you watch and hope to god that things really weren't (aren't) like that. But in the back of your head you kind of know the truth is closer than the fiction, and that's a bit numbing. I really, really hope things were (are) not like that. Not that I know any better than the other guy about how often soldiers to break into song to pass the endless hours of desert driving, which is something we can more easily relate to than the level of ineptitude suggested in some instances of top level command. We as citizens have to place a large amount of blind faith in the armed forces, tho I can see how ignorance remains bliss.

There is also some really cool Alpha Bravo military combat stuff which I have to say is awesome. The story shows combat from a couple different angles. There is the intense, first-person perspective as the unit engages as the mission unfolds. Cool shots of ATVs cruising in unison with gun's-a-blazing, wicked night-vision combat with tracers. Then there is the passive combat that happens perpetually around, well, everything. Explosions, nightime drumbeats of distant bombings, and tank divisions rolling by during downtime. Sometimes military life certainly seems to be its own, alien world.

Now what scares me about the show is this: none of the main characters have died in battle. Yet. By this point of the show we are really getting to know these Marines and I have to say I'm getting kind of attached. The Iraq War is merely the framework of this character-driven drama. But the reality is Marines or not, this is a war and in a war... soldiers die. Compounded by the fact that the Marines are based on actual soldiers I can only be wary of heartbreak ahead. Fictional attributations aside, these are men who have served or are still serving in Iraq and abroad. They are sons, brothers, and friends, it is a great tragedy to have one of those lives lost. The hook of Generation Kill partly revolves around a reporter embedded in the Marine unit (who them wrote a book about it, that the show is based on). Most of the story is relayed through him to us-- and obviously he got to know these Marines over time as we are while watching now. Having not read the book I don't know the ultimate fate of the unit's members, but like I said, this is war. And HBO always brings down the hammer.

Evan Wright, the reporter, was right there in the desert. But I am detached, very far away, and it is hard to not care. But then that's the whole point of it all, right?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pineapple Express

In the midst of all the blockbuster insanity, Pineapple Express is a nutty comic desert on the tail end of an incredible summer of movies.

There's not much to say, tho if you enjoy the Apatow brand of humor filtered through Seth Rogan's, um, "Seth Roganness," you'll likely enjoy this flick. There's also action on par with your star-fueled buddy cop movie. So much so that I can't tell if Pineapple Express is a comedy wrapped in an action movie or an action movie wrapped in a comedy. That may not make alot of sense, but the movie really doesn't either. That's why it's fun, you're just along for the ride. And by the end you'll probably want a joint or a bong hit, that is if you weren't already lit on the way in.

I really have to commend the film's mindbogglingly strong pro-marijuana adgenda, it's mildly surprising such a film could be made and offered in such wide release. Add on a strong box office showing and its a wonder how any anti-pot crusaders could still be taken seriously. Obviously Pineapple Express is a caricature, but outside of itself it goes a bit towards highlighting what a ridiculous waste of resources are focused on busting up such a harmless pastime. I doubt it has any political leanings as such, at the end of the day Pineapple Express is a harmless (and very funny) pastime of its own.*

*See also: Weeds, which continues to be one of the best shows on television.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Comics Day

... a day where I actually buy new comics!

Secret Invasion
Fantastic Four
Green Lantern Corps
Wonder Woman
Young Liars

Green Lantern Corps continues to be cool, despite the loss of Patrick Gleason on art this issue. The story features lots of eyeballs, and I wonder if it alludes to anything related to the Emerald Eye? Those were some of my favorite Legion stories so it'd be cool to have it show up here. Just a guess, tho. Also Mongul makes a breif cameo/epilogue from his Black Mercy demise, which I didn't expect so soon. He was awfully entwined with plant stuff... maybe that'll mean something later?

On Wonder Woman: Good Lopresti art is good.

Fantastic Four, why am I still buying this? I thought I was waiting for the trade! Dammit!

Meanwhile, during the Secret Invasion: Reed Richards at the brink, did he just do what I think he did??? Oh, no, wait, he didn't. Darn, that would have been something. It's not until the end of the issue that we get back to all that hooha in the Savage Land, which is good because that leave the majority of the book dealing with actual interesting stuff. But it seems there's a twist or two left in the book, and a angry condemnation. Can the Marvel U walk down the path of genocide? U-decide!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wanted

Ug. Wanted is one of those movies that makes you want your money back in return for the time you had to spend sitting through it.

Thing is, I put off seeing it, then I kept hearing how cool it was so I thought I'd check it out. I heard it compared to Fight Club and The Matrix. Hell, no. It is not remotely close to the clever, de-saturated nihilism of Fight Club and leagues behind what made The Matrix the stylized, FX revolution of its time. As a film it can't even be casually grouped into the visually "cool" as far as I'm concerned, I don't think there was one memorable sequence that stands out as unique or inspired. By the end of the movie things devolve into the absurd and any hope of buying into its fantasy universe is long gone. Perhaps viewers who hail Wanted as something enjoyable just haven't seen enough good movies.

Originally all I knew of Wanted was its comic book origins, but as far as I can tell the only thing the movie has in connection to the comics are a few of the names of the main characters. I had thought even the base premise of the comic would bee good fodder for a summer movie, but sorry, no. It's like the produces actually went out of their way to take out the most interesting concepts of the comic and throw together their idea of a "high octane action film," thinking one or two visual gimmicks could see them through. And I hate to break it to you, but mid-air bullet-on-bullet action played it self out in the early 90's via Hong Kong gangster cinema. I'm trying to recall the first time I saw opposing trajectory bullets collide... Was it Gun and Rose? Well it was cool then, and it could no doubt be cool again but Wanted was not able to join the ranks of cinematic gun fu.

Brought into the ring of all that's been offered this summer, Wanted does not play.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

I DID catch Hellboy 2 when it opened and enjoyed it alot. It went in some different directions than the comic mega movies that surrounded it, but that's what made it refreshing. The Hellboy movies in my opinion are only loosely based on the comics, pulling the core concepts and characters into the theatrical realm. But how that's done is something we rarely get to see.

Guillermo Del Toro is a cinematic visionary-- but I don't say that in the way of some overused adulation. I mean it literally, where here is a man who has a specific vision for what he wants to put on film and executes it beautifully. By doing so he begins to create his own version of the Hellboy mythos, not that what Mignola has done in book form could ever really be replicated in another medium. There are so many great things to watch on screen, and it comes in a steady stream of the bizarre and fantastic. And what's so great about it all is that it filled me with the thoughts of all the great fantasy movies they don't seem to make anymore. Labyrinth, Legend, Dark Crystal, Hawk the Slayer, Willow, Neverending Story, Baron Munchausen, Time Bandits (all from the 80's coincidentally, I bet there's some sort of socio-economic connection there). Hellboy 2 is packed solid, with virtually no wasted space. The shots are wide and long when they should be, then close and personal to bring it home. Everything from the costumes to the creatures to the sets is pure eye candy.

Prior to this Del Toro brought us Pan's Labyrinth, which is also an amazing looking film, but it's matched there by dread and bleakness. Hellboy 2 is fun and lively wrapped around moments of thought and pathos, and at times sheer wackiness. Yea... I probably could have done without the Barry Manilow, but in the end that is just part of the oddity of it all. The story behind resurrecting the Golden Army is solid and awesome to watch come to fruition. The action sequences are balls-out, something I wasn't expecting at all. The last fight scene between Prince Nuada and Hellboy is amazing to watch, I hadn't felt that sense of unexpected, wide-eyed awe of a duel probably since Darth Maul's showdown in Phantom menace.

The cast brings the characters alive, clearly much more at ease in their roles since the first film. As Hellboy, Pearlman keeps his wit and aplomb balanced keenly with an outsider's self consciousness and need to be accepted. I was also happy to see much more of Abe Sapien, well 'cause he's just awesome. Doug Jones even wins his own voice back this time around. Selma Blair is always someone I like to see show up, tho her character Liz definitely seemed to be short changed, waffling between shrill crow and all-around second banana. The biggest treat for me was Luke Goss' Prince Nuada, who's character I just wanted more and more of. Tho the title says otherwise, I say he was the real star of the movie.

Hellboy 2 is way better than the first in all these respects, both in story and how we see it told. I hope its success is an opening for more great fantasy movies to come.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Also, Watchmen


Phonepic from Austin Books, which if local info is to believed has Austin's only current stock of Watchmen. A clerk informed me they've started to average about 10 sales a day.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Comics Day

Another one comic week.

I have to admit a couple of things.

1. I have no idea what is going on in Final Crisis.

2. Sometimes Grant Morrison is over my head.

I do not know which of the two statements above is hindering the book, but Final Crisis is not doing it for me. We can sit here and discuss Morrison all day long: How he straddles both comics deconstructionism and classic yarn spinning, etc. etc. ect. But this does not belay the fact that Final Crisis is supposed to be a landmark, tentpole book, whereas I am seeing something more in the direction of ala 7 Soldiers or (gasp!) The Invisibles. Applied to DC core characters and Universe doings, that sounds really cool on paper, but I'm lost here. I'm pretty hardcore DC, this should be gravy. I'm just saying I'm not "getting it" as a reader of the actual end product.

On the subject of FC, Final Crisis: Director's Cut also shipped today. Which is bullshit. I like seeing black and white art and original scripts as much as the next ardent comics reader, but don't go packaging it as a special "Director's Cut." A director's cut implies something that is re-presented with the auteur's original creative vision-- which if any recent interviews with Morrison shed light on the issue, this Final Crisis "Director's Cut" is decidedly not.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Comic Day

Just good 'ol Green Lantern for me this week. Back soon with more goings on.