Archive for June, 2007

30
Jun
07

B.P.R.D. Garden of Souls #1

Image Comics $2.99

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi

Art by Guy Davis

bprdcover

Today I was in a part of town that I usually don’t get to, where there’s a comic shop I don’t usually buy from. I have an extensively organized pull list at the shop I frequent, so there wouldn’t be any point in picking up issues from my list, but I decided to pick up four titles I haven’t read and generally know nothing about. B.P.R.D. is the first. Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, if you will, focuses on an apparent group of paranormal researchers, but because this seems to be a mini-series, the action is all part of a story that apparently occurred before this issue takes place. Even without truly knowing what’s going on or who the characters are, it’s fairly easy to follow and put the clues together as to what’s going on.

The dialog works really well, telling the story of five main characters whose lives revolve around supernatural elements. There is this great tension between all the characters, obviously stemming from the death of a co-worker, but the details of the death aren’t specifically given, in fact, the characters rarely even discuss the source of the tension between themselves, rarely acknowledging that there’s even something wrong

The art has this old effect that makes if feel very familiar, like the first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books. I like it quite a bit, it’s warm and effective and generally helps the story in a very positive way by drawing just enough attention to the details of architecture in the cities and the significant differences in the physical nature of the lead characters.

bprd1pg2

I think I’ll follow this one through the series, it looks like it has a lot of potential.

24
Jun
07

The Clarence Principle

Slave Labor Graphics – $12.95

Fehed Said – Writer

Shari Chankhamma – Artist

clarence principle cover

To be honest, I haven’t read a proper manga in quite some time. Though my girlfriend is rather fond of them, I read quite the pile of American comic books, graphic novels and a fair share of more traditional literature, so anything new has to be scheduled in to my reading list.

Because I’m something of a SLG whore, this one didn’t get too old before I figured out I was missing it.  I knew it was out and had read a few blurbs on the SLG board, but I didn’t know much about it and hadn’t seen it in either of the comic shops.  Oddly enough, I found this at Bordres in the graphic novels section, but the art is clearly closer to that of Japanese Manga.

The Clarence Principle page 01

The story is essentially about a suicide attempt, what the space between, limbo if you like, is like, and what sort of adventure looms between life, death and the journey back.   There’s a bit of a twist ending that I won’t spoil, but it’s definitely worth a read, especially if you are at all into surreal stories, human interest with a quirk or are interested in/suffer from depression.  For nearly a 300 page book, it’s an incredibly quick read, forty-five minutes should be plenty of time to enjoy the art, digest the story and fully understand what Said is trying to get through.

That being said, I really love the art in this book, it works incredibly well in the story; it carefully walks the line between humorously dark and the cutesy kind of art featured in books like Inuyasha or Ranma 1/2.  The black/white/gray shading work is great and suits the narration well,, often letting the story progress for several pages without any dialog or narration what so ever.

the clarence principle page 11

During Clarence’s exodus from the bathroom to life, he encounters a cacophony of characters and situations, seemingly making no sense what so ever.  The similarities to Carrol’s Wonderland are striking and are even mentioned by the main character, as Clarence states, “this is no wonderland, this is death.”  A short series of adventures happens, where , once Clarence has resolved a situation in one group of people, he is immediately transformed to another location with a new cast of characters and an inevitable problem to deal with.   One of my favorite sub-stories is when Clarence confronts a man who has been hanging by the neck from a tree for hundreds of years in a failed attempt at death.  He offers Clarence some information on how to get out of Limbo if Clarence can figure out why he can’t die.  The resolution Clarence comes to is that, because the man has hung himself out in the open where everyone an see him, no one can forget him, so he can never die.  I like the idea that as long as we’re not forgotten, we’re never truly gone, it works for atheists perfectly, but just about anyone of any school of philosophy can appreciate the sentiment that rememberance equates to some some level of partial immortality.  Once the man hangs himself in the shadows of the forest, he dies and Clarence moves on to the next person’s problem.

The story isn’t really a new concept, but it’s done rather well and the art is fantastic, overall it’s a quick and enjoyable read.

Buy it from Slave Labor –  http://www.slavelabor.com/product-exec/product_id/483/nm/The_Clarence_Principle

21
Jun
07

Justice #12 of 12

DC Comics – $3.99

Alex Ross and Jim Krueger – Writers

Alex Ross and Doug Braithwaite – Artists

I can honestly say that this was worth two years of following, without a doubt.  The perils of a bi-monthly twelve issue limited series are vast, almost limitless, but it was handled so flawlessly that it was worth waiting two months in between issues.

Going into an Alex Ross series focusing on the Justice League, perhaps the most well known classic superheroes of all time, I knew it was going to look great, but I thought this looked even better than Marvels did.  It’s incredibly beautiful, every single page of it.  Ross’ realistic hand painted panels work beautifully with Doug Braithwaite’s pencils, creating a sense of realism that feels more like fantasy photographs than anything one would consider comic book art.

This was obviously plotted out rather carefully, a team-up of Brainiac and Lex Luthor that turns into a double plot/double crossover while endangering the entire planet and making all of humanity believe that all the super villains on earth have provided them with cures to all of the diseases doctors couldn’t cure, freeing them of all the pains and problems the superheroes could never fully handle.

As I said before, I had high expectations for Alex Ross, which were met fairly early, as far as art and general plotting goes, by the fourth issue.  What really made this series fantastic was Jim Krueger’s excellent scripts though, they absolutely caught me off guard.  His narrations were exceptionally strong and I loved the fact that, during a narration via a character, the background of the text box would be that person’s logo(so if Hal Jordan was narrating, the box would be green with the lantern ring in the background), which made it really easy to know when the narration was switching characters, which it did frequently and flawlessly, without confusion.

Krueger’s portrayal of the Joker as a jealous, pissed off character who is left out of the armageddeon plan was really enjoyable even though he was probably only in a dozen or so panels.  Ross’ paints created the hands down creepiest Joker I’ve ever seen in comics.

In the end, Brainiac betrays Luthor, who has already made plans to betray brainiac, leading to Luthor giving the League information and assistance that leads to them capturing Brainiac.   What was really done in this issue was the illustration of Luthor’s personality – how he really thinks- and how, in his mind, he’s never been the bad guy.  His personality encapsulates all truly dangerous men throughout history, he has a constant unquestioning belief that he knows what’s best for the human race, for the survival of the species, and he believes he is best suited to be their savior.  He’s cunningly brilliant, willfully egotistical and always seems to have a back up plan.  After all, if you can’t have preservation of the species, you might as well try for self-preservation.

There are currently two hard covers collecting the first eight issues, as well as a third hardcover collecting the final four issues on its way, but I’ve been too impatient to wait for the collections.  And what I’m really hoping for is that this series has sold well enough, generated enough critical acclaim and attained enough buzz through the blogs to establish itself a good enough name to get it into an Absolute printing in the coming years.  I know that none of the current absolute books are from any comics newer than a decade, but seeing those amazing Alex Ross panels in super sized thick pages will be worth it.  Until then, I have my twelve issues to continually enjoy.

21
Jun
07

Justice Society of America #6

DC Comis – $2.99

Geoff Johns – Writer

Dale Eaglesman & Roy Jose – Artists

To be honest, I really only started reading JSA and JLA because I wanted to see Alex Ross’ velvet elvis covers, I love his work and he’s been doing an amazing job on these covers, I always look forward to them showing up in the shop each month.

This is chapter four of the Lighting Bolt Saga, which is a story involving some time displaced, amnesia-stricken teenage superheroes from the future. It’s been pretty interesting, not because this miniseries crossover with JLA has been incredible in it’s execution, but virtually JSA’s entire run has been leading up to this and it has been executed in a way that makes all the revious issues so much more relevant to the greater storyline that has been unfolding for the past year.

Remarkably, I just noticed that, throughout this crossover, there has been a rush to save the planet from some kind of imminent villainous threat that everyone seems to think they can surely stop, but that threat has never actually been revealed. I like the idea that they aren’t actually going to tell you what the real fight is about until the end, when it just might be too late.

The more of these uber-planned crossovers I see from DC, the higher regard I have for them over Marvel, who’s books I spent my entire childhood reading nad noticing the lack of sensible continuity. DC has such an amazing amount of organization and planning in their stories, reading new issues makes me go back and read old issues. Countdown and the Justice series have been like watching new episodes of Lost(which I sadly am not watching right now), where a new scene gives you a key to several old scenes. Upon finishing the new issue, I go back to see what I missed back when I didn’t know what to look for.

And it’s Geoff Johns, you can’t go wrong.

21
Jun
07

Midnighter #8

Wildstorm – $2.99

Christos Gage – Writer

John Paul Leon – Artist

Eight issues and three head writers isn’t exactly what I like to see on a book that’s a relaunch, but I love the idea of an extremely powerful superhero who is homosexual and completely free of all gay stereotypes, in which the narrative only mentions the fact Midnighter is gay when it’s pertinent to the story. Like in reality, his sexuality is only a big deal to the jerks and super villains.

Garth Ennis wrote the first six issues, which didn’t really feel like Ennis stories, but I enjoyed them just the same. His final issue featured an onslaught of ninjas trying to kill Midnighter because they found out he was gay, but, of course , he slaughtered the ninjas, leaving one to tell the rest of the village to stop judging people. B.K. Vaughn wrote the last issue, which was told in reverse. Although it took me about four pages to figure out what was going on, I really liked the issue, I think an entire arc told from the end to the beginning would be a great read if it was done right.

Gage’s issue is a bit formulaic, an adventure story where an attempt to find a girl’s dog leads to a factory and a sinister scientist doing illegal test on stolen animals in an attempt to advance cybernetics for humans. It’s all over in 32 pages, nicely wrapped up like a Star Trek episode, seemingly without any room for continuity between this adventure and the next.

It wasn’t a bad read, it’s just that I would like this comic to be about much more than a portal-door-jumping superhero who has a pretty easy time slapping the shit out of everybody who he deems to be in the wrong. I’ll be keeping an eye on Gage’s work on this title because after Morrison’s four issue arc is over(who knows when, it’s taken almost a year to get his two issues out) on The Authority. Hopefully it will come out considerably faster than it is under Morrison’s authorship.

The Grifter and Midnighter mini-series that’s going on right now offers a lot more in the area of human interest and overall interactions instead of slap-bang style adventure stories.

That having been said, I really liked the art of this book. John Paul Leon does this great mix of monochrome and Jack Kirby style superhero/big city pencils that really work with the fast flow of the comic book. I’d like to see him stay on the book and see what he can do with the Authority crossing into this book.

20
Jun
07

Amazons Attack #2 of 5

DC Comics – $2.99

Will Pfiefer – Writer

Woods – Artist

Will Pfeifer is doing an amazing job on this, it’s unbelievable how fast a read this is, how you’re really hoping that the story won’t stop. I actually became sort of depressed when I reached the final page, because I just wanted to ingest this entire story in one sitting. Though the art is pretty mediocre, this is probably the most exciting mini-series I’ve read all year long.

I love the concept of the Amazons going to war with the United States government over the possession of Wonder Woman. The first issue was essentially the Amazons blowing military planes out of the sky with arrows and primitive weapons, massive women clad in gold, riding horses down Pennsylvania Avenue, marching to the White House, blowing up the Capital Building, just destroying the capital. At the end of issue one, reserve members of the Justice League show up.

In this issue we get to see the heavy hitters show up; Batman, The Flash, Superman. I like that there’s conflict between the league and Wonder Woman, not knowing how to treat her mother’s army destroying the capital, not having a clue what side Diana will be on. Halfway through the book. once the Washington conflict has been essentially calmed and rescue operations begin, there’s this fantastic confrontation where they outwardly ask Wonder Woman what side she’s on, and she seems offended that they would even question where her loyalties are.

The issue ends with the government essentially freaking out via a video conference with Batman when they reveal that the attack isn’t over, Washington lies in rubble, but a massive attack against the east coast has been initiated. The Teen Titans are dispatched and Superman takes off, looking terrified. Then Batman gets the information that most of Kansas is on fire(where Superman’s parents live). The last panel is a terrified looking superman flying at top speed through corn fields. Pete Woods does an excellent job with this final panel by making Superman look so worried, as if he’s ready to cry.

20
Jun
07

Action Comics #850

DC Comics – $3.99

Busiek/Johns/Nicieza – Writers

Guedes/Magalhaes – Artists

Really, this was some filler story introducing the idea that Super Girl could come back from the future and a little attempt at showing the Legion of Superheroes in the 31st century. It was alright, not really what I’ve come to expect of Geoff Johns, but whatever, there were a ton of people working on this story.

What did excite me is that this story seems to be the final filler in the Geoff Johns break. The preview for next week is apparently Bizarro, so I’m excited. It looks like we’ll get back to Zodd and the new Kryptonian child and all the other stuff I’ve been complaining about not getting during Johns’ hiatus from Action. This issue is way less than necessary, it was a dollar more because they supersized the issue due to it being issue 850. All in all, I’d probably pass it up if it wasn’t in my pull list and I knew that it was going to be another filler issue.

I’m sure I’ll be freaking out when 851 comes out though, I think it’s a 3-D issue too.