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.