Showing posts from May, 2011

DC: Now Number One?

Flashpoint has, for months now, been touted as the event. I was very curious about what it could do--it was an alternate reality, Flash-centric event. Sure, it was written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Andy Kubert, both industry superstars. It spawned a host of spinoff titles, most of which are intriguing in either concept or creative team, if not both. And the finale was culminating with the end of story arcs across DC's line. But, really, how significant could Flashpoint change things?
As it turns out? A lot. Flashpoint may be the most significant DC event since Crisis on Infinite Earths. On August 31st, only two DC titles will be released. The first is the fifth and final issue of Flashpoint. The second is Justice League #1 (notably lacking an "of America" suffix) by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Quite possibly the two biggest names in today's comics industry. And with such an all-star creative team, the title will feature, appropriately, all-star characters fo…

Memorial Day 2011 Lightning Round

There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of good reading lately.  Comics just keep getting better and more diversified with a fresh crop of talented artists and writers debuting every other day.  What’s a dedicated blogger to do?                                            One of my goals in writing for BC REFUGEES is to bring attention to the less-noticed but more-deserving quality work.  If I can help someone else discover something new and worthy, then I am accomplishing my mission.                                                                                                                                                                 I’ve been reading a lot lately and putting books that I feel deserve a write-up in a separate pile. The pile is growing faster than I can keep up with my writing.  Rather than wait far too long to give them some attention, I’m going to feature them in the “Lightening Round”.  Every book mentioned here is worthy of a longer review.  I’m forced to com…

Books I Read: Superstar: As Seen on TV

"He's Earth's greatest hero. As long as his ratings hold up." (from the back cover)

Cody Bridges is Superstar, a hero who relies on voluntary bioenergy contributions from the public for his power. It's not really ratings-based, though that makes a good blurb, it's that the more people like him the more willing they are to donate.

In lesser hands than Kurt Busiek's, this story would be about the technology and how it somehow went bad. But this story is about people: Cody's just a regular guy with a family that frustrates him and a job that gets him down sometimes. It's a good intro to Busiek's style of everyman hero, and if you like this you'll probably like "Astro City" too.

Stuart Immonen, whose work I praise often here, is one of those artists who makes the work look effortless. It really isn't, of course, and the sketchbook section in the back of the book is a really good example of that, showing how many iterations it took…

Books I Read: Trouble

"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." (Douglas Adams)

This book, Mark Millar's "Trouble", was pretty much reviled when it was announced in 2003. Collected now, distanced from the controversy, does the work stand on its own? (And why is it collected now? The large caption "From the author of Kick-Ass" on the cover answers that question.)

To refresh your memory, this is a romance comic starring teenage brothers Richard and Ben, friends Mary and May, and an unwanted pregnancy leading to a baby named Peter. Yes, at the time Millar stated that if the book went over well this would be the official history of Spider-Man's family. It didn't, and it wasn't. This new edition doesn't reference Spidey anywhere, and there's a cameo in the last few pages that makes it impossible for it to be a Marvel Universe story.

The problem for me is that without the …

NEW BOOKS = Red Spike: adrenaline-augmented army of two

RED SPIKE #1 (of 5):  (Image Comics/Benaroya Publishing)  Created by Michael Benaroya & Jeff Cahn.  Script: Jeff Cahn.  Art:  Salvador Navarro.  Color: Ifansyah Noor of Imaginary Friends Studio.  Lettering:  Josh Aitken.  Cover:  Mark Texeira.A smaller comics publisher (Benaroya) teams up with a larger company (Image) for distribution purposes to reach a larger potential audience.  They then offer the first issue at a bargain price ($1.00) and tie it into a Facebook promotion for additional exposure.  Benaroya has developed  a new military action comic by utilizing some concepts from other popular series:  G.I. Joe, Robocop, A-Team, Josh Whedon’s Dollhouse, and the Cyborb film (to name a few).   Blend them together to create something that is fresh and new, yet familiar.   That’s RED SPIKE.  Is it worth your hard earned buck to check it out and see if you want to pick up this series?  Definitely.  Like a well-made action movie - - RED SPIKE is just plain fun to read.  Several time…

FCBD - - titles for younger readers - - - Part 8

Two smaller publishers put out worthwhile FCBD titles intended for children. Both are recommended. . . . . . . . . .RICHIE RICH / KUNG FU PANDA  FCBD flipbook  (Ape Entertainment)RICHIE RICH in “ERUPTION DISRUPTION” = Script: Jason M. Burns  Art: Tina Francisco  Colors: Dustin Evans  Letters: David Hedgecock  Cover by Jack LawrenceThis is not the Harvey Comics RICHIE RICH that I remember.   The storyline seems to be updated for a different generation of young readers.  Even Richie Rich himself has a different look and a change in his hairstyle.  The art seems to reflect current preferences/standards for young teen adventure books. I didn’t read a lot of RICHIE RICH Harvey comics.  Mostly I read the Richie Rich back-up stories in the pages of CASPER, HOT STUFF, or BABY HUEY.  It was usually a short feature, always humorous in nature and related to Richie’s unlimited allowance which gave him freedom to do and attempt things ordinary kids lacked the finances to pull off.  The longer stor…

Horror Hunter: A Glimpse into artistic interpretation

I enjoy learning how works are  translated from writer inception to artist visualization.  The link here provides some interesting background on an upcoming story I look forward to reading.RE: MONSTERVERSE Story Process - From Cover to Page Art DesignPRESS RELEASE - MONDAY, MAY 16, 2011 - Immediate Release(Los Angeles) MONSTERVERSE ENTERTAINMENT unveils the step-by-step process behind its recent BELA LUGOSI'S TALES FROM THE GRAVE #2 cover by make-up legend Rick Baker to create the book's horror story, STRANGE TO THE FINISH. Follow the details from conception by Monsterverse wunderkind KERRY GAMMILL to the (almost) finished page by top artist Kamil "Kurt" Kochanski at the MONSTERVERSE BLOG. publisher/editor/artist & story teller Kerry Gammill provides a character design for the "soul-stealing sailor" to be illustrated by Kamil Kochanski for the story, STRA…

More guests added to Baltimore Comic Con - - August 2011

Celebrate Independents at This Year's Baltimore Comic-ConBALTIMORE, MARYLAND - May 16, 2011 - The Baltimore Comic-Con is happy to announce the addition of Indy comics creators Dean Haspiel, Thom Zahler, Brad Guigar, Tim Truman, and Neil Vokes to the line-up of this year's show, taking place August 20-21, 2011. Dean Haspiel broke into the comic scene in the mid-1980s, working as an assistant to Howard Chaykin, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Walter Simonson. After graduating college, he made a career for himself as an independent artist working for such companies as Eternity Comics, Top Shelf Productions, and Alternative Comics. In addition, his artwork was featured in the Vertigo graphic novels, The Quitter,The Alcoholic, and Cuba: My Revolution. Haspiel is a founding-member of the webcomics collective, Act-i-vate and, in 2010, won an Emmy Award for his title design for HBO's Bored to Death. Said Haspiel, "If I could attend only one show a year, it would be Baltimore Comic-Co…

FCBD – what about the super-heroes? - - - Part 7

FCBD 2011 GREEN LANTERN FLASHPOINT SPECIAL EDITION 1 (DC Comics June 2011) “Green Lantern” Secret Origin Book 2”  Geoff Johns, Writer. Ivan Reis, Art. OClair Albert, Inks. Randy Mayor, Colors. Rob Leigh, Letters.  “Flashpoint Preview” Geoff Johns, story.  Andy Kubert, art. Many of us know this story by heart.  However,  put a little spin on it, write an entertaining script and couple that with dynamic art - - - and no one minds reading it all over again.  The familiar becomes fresh once again.  I loved both story and art here  - - - and I’m not a diehard Green Lantern fan.  There’s a little bit of background on Abin Sur here that I don’t remember reading before  - - and Geoff Johns establishes a connection between his choosing to land his disabled spaceship on Earth and the much later advent of the “blackest night”.   It’s probably no coincidence that Hal Jordan as depicted here bears more resemblance to actor Ryan Reynolds (soon to be seen in green on screen)  than I recall of other …

FCBD Preview, Part 6: Radical Free Book Day at comic shops

JAKE THE DREAMING FREE COMIC BOOK DAY PREVIEW  (Radical, May 2011):  Created & Written by Adam Freeman & Marc Bernardin.  Art by Andrew Jones.  Art Direction by Jeremy Berger. Design by Baptiste Ringot. . . . . . A selection of passages from JAKE THE DREAMING Young Adult Illustrated Novel coming in December 2011.A review of JAKE THE DREAMING FCBD preview in the USA TODAY national newspaper implied that this could be the next “Harry Potter” in terms of popularity.  That may seem a little over the top, but if enough young readers were exposed to this it might just catch on.  It’s certainly worthy.  The art is fabulous, the story holds your attention, and the production values are extremely high. Ten-year old Jake and little sister Ella are used to fending for themselves and staying occupied. Their single parent mother has her hands full after starting a new job and moving her family to a new town at the same time.  Jake and Ella adjust to life in quiet Lumberton and handle the t…

Summer Movies: Thor

I think "Thor" is one of those movies that's going to depend on word of mouth for its success, so let me be clear up front: I thought it was perfect. It's as good as "Iron Man" and I wouldn't change a thing.

It largely works for the same reason that "Iron Man" did: casting. Just like Robert Downey Jr. was Tony Stark from the first scene, Chris Hemsworth inhabits Thor from the minute you see him. One of the things that's unique about Thor is that he needs to learn humility, and so Hemsworth's Thor is arrogant at first, but so instantly charming that you can't help but like him anyway and want him to be a better person. (Even the Avengers character that has a weapon trained on him during his cameo says he's rooting for Thor.) As the film goes on, and Thor learns the lessons he needs to, Hemsworth's performance slowly gains warmth until the audience is completely smitten by him just like Jane Foster. And of course for the lar…

FCBD - - What about the super-heroes? - - - more previews part 5

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2011 SPIDER-MAN #1  (Marvel, May 2011) “The Way Of The Spider” Dan Slott, writer. Humberto Ramos, pencils. Carlos Cuevas & Victor Olazaba, inks. Edgar Delgado, colors. VC’s Joe Caramagna, letters. If you have strayed away from following the Spider-Man titles for awhile  (as I have), then this FCBD edition is essential reading to bring you up to date with the present world of Peter Parker - - and serves as an excellent jumping on point. In the opening page  Spider-Man directly addresses the reader and recounts his latest mishap at Horizon Labs where his experiments/inventions caused him to lose his spider-sense.  As Madame Web the psychic observes a battle between Spider-Man  and Spider-Woman (controlled by the Mandrill’s powerful pheromones)  she obliges us with a brief but succinct two page account of Spidey’s origin.   Then, poor Peter gets his butt handed to him by Jessica until he comes up with a non-violent solution to the problem.  This leads to Spidey’s …

FCBD Preview - - Part 4 - - - worthwhile books for kids

GERONIMO STILTON AND THE SMURFS  (Papercutz, May 2011)  GERONIMO STILTON: DINOSAURS IN ACTION  Script by Andrea Dengri.  Interior illustration by Giuseppe Facciotto and Color by Giulia Zaffaroni.  Based on an original idea by Elisabetti Dami.  Translation by Nanette McGuinness. Lettering by Ortho. This is an excerpt  (the opening 18 pages) of GERONIMO STILTON Graphic Novel #7 - - DINOSAURS IN ACTION  - - published in the United States by Papercutz.  I had forgotten about this company since their short-lived revival of EC’s TALES FROM THE CRYPT etc. some years back.  They are now concentrating on publishing graphic novels - - and judging from this example - - high quality works for younger readers. GERONIMO STILTON novels focus on the adventures of a society of civilized mice (they wear clothes, build cities, and go to work everyday just like us mundane humans) on Mouse Island.  The action centers around Geronimo Stilton, editor of The Rodent’s Gazete, his fami…

FCBD Preview - - - books worth seeking out - - - Part 3

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: BALTIMORE - - A PASSING STRANGER (Dark Horse, May 2011) Story by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. Art by Ben Stenbeck. Colors by Dave Stewart.  Letters by Clem Robins. . . .  NOTE: This is a FCBD Flipbook,backed up with . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: CRIMINAL MACABRE - - CALL ME MONSTER   Story by Steve Niles.  Art by Christopher Mitten. Colors by Michelle Madsen.  Letters by Nate Piekos of Blambot. As the cover blurb claims, if you like “supernatural horror” this is a double dose of the good stuff “at it’s finest!” BALTIMORE: A PASSING STRANGERI’ve often wondered if I should check out Mike Mignola’s latest creation - - Lord Henry Baltimore - - and this book provided me with a quick and inexpensive way to do so.  Now, my wish list just became bigger as I realize I want to read more of his adventures, including the novel.More intense than Mignola’s HELLBOY and B.R.P.D. tales, the 14-page BALTIMORE preview here spreads a darker tone over its so…

FCBD Preview - - books worth seeking out - - - Part 2

PEP COMICS FEATURING BETTY AND VERONICA, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY EDITION # 1  (Archie Comics, May 2011)  “You’ve Been Clubbed!”  Script & Pencils:  Dan Parent.  Inks:  Jim Amash.  Letters:  Patrick Owsley.  Colors:  Digikore StudiosNOTES:  A year ago I tackled a huge stack of FCBD titles and wrote about them, using a critical 7-point ratings scale.  Those books that seemed to best attract the intended audience and provided a good story that would encourage more reading received the best ratings.   I’m not going to attempt that this year because it no longer seems necessary.  Every 2011 FCBD title I’ve looked at so far seems to “get it” more than ever before.  Each one presents an original story (no reprints) or at least a new spin on a familiar story (origin tales) and does a fine job of engaging the reader with good scripts and art.  Bravo, comic book publishers!One of the many pleasant surprises I received was the ARCHIE SUMMER SPLASH FCBD 2010 EDITION #1, also scripted and penciled…

Free Comic Book Day preview - - books worth seeking out – Part 1

ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST  (Boom Studios, Free Comic Book Day edition May 2011)  Written by Chris Roberson.  Art by Francesco Biagini. Colorist: Stephen Downer. Letterer: Travis Lanham.  Elric created by Michael Moorcock. Among the many benefits of participating/supporting Free Comic Book Day by visiting a local comics shop on May 7, 2011 is getting to network a little with like-minded individuals who share our fascination with this original American art form.  (We are legion!  That’s reason enough to be there. )   Obviously, the primary purpose is to entice new readers to our hobby by giving them a free sample.  For those of us already converted, it’s a chance to explore a little beyond our regular reading choices and see what else might attract our attention.  I certainly hope that comic shops have ordered enough copies of ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST because this is a book that everyone should sample.      Writer Chris Roberson has already demonstrated his ability to adapt and create new …