HIDDEN TREASURES: Recent Books Worth Looking For . . . .
A-1 #1 (Titan Comics, July 2013 www.titan-comics.com )
The London comics company invades U.S. shores with a fresh new science-fiction/fantasy themed anthology of serialized stories edited by the wondrous Dave Elliott. Great stuff here! The Weirding Willows by Elliott with luscious art by Barnaby Bagenda is a fantasy land inhabited by characters and creatures of classic literature. Dr. Jekyll visits Dr. Moreau regarding a contract for flying monkeys. Moreau’s daughter, Alice, talks to rabbits and they talk back. We learn what a “gammy kanurd” is. And is that Mogwai showing up in the last panel? A good beginning.
An unlikely assemblage of seven heroes/agents make up Carpe Diem as they gobble up the scenery in the satanic kitchens of Aaron The Iron Chef. A potluck supper of superhero/secret agent/covert team a la G.I. Joe, Carpe Diem is funny and quirky. The agents are named for days of the week. Their version of the “Avengers Assemble” call to arms can be easily guessed if you think about it a little. Hey, it’s a one and done episode here. Hope there is more to come. Written by W. H. Rauf with art by series creator Rhoald Marcellius.
Odyssey, with story by Elliott and sepia-toned photo-realistic art by Garrie Gastonny (of DISCHORD fame) starts out seeming very similar to the Captain America origin but takes a twist soon after. There is an attempt to inject a serum into an American soldier to help with WWII efforts, but the purpose is to prepare a vessel for habitation by a supernatural godlike force. It seems like a pentagram, a Black Mass, and satanic rites are a part of the formula. To be continued, obviously. Issue #2 debuts on July 3. Cool! This book takes a welcome place beside DARK HORSE PRESENTS and other current anthologies.
ALL STAR SUPERMAN 1 SPECIAL EDITION (DC, June 2013, free)
This free comic, released to coincide with the opening of the MAN OF STEEL movie on June 14 reprints the first chapter/first issue of 2006’s epic ALL STAR SUPERMAN. This makes me want to dig up and re-read my hardcover copy. Grant Morrison scripts a fresh look at both Superman (noble) and Lex Luther (ruthless!). Fantastic art by Frank Quitely. Superman flies too close to the sun on a rescue mission and gets sunburned along with side effects. Free! What else could you possibly want? Get your butt to your local comics store and get a copy before they are gone! A super way to get ready to see the new movie! Fun to share!
BLEEDING COOL #4 (Avatar Press, May 2013 www.bleedingcool.com) $4.99 per issue
Any readers who want to stay up to date on comics publishing news, interviews, articles, previews, etc. only need to get on their computer and go to any one of a multitude of websites dedicated to those interests. Those of us who are a bit more tactile and prefer a printed copy that can be paged through now have BLEEDING COOL magazine to keep us informed. Every issue published so far has contained at least one or more informative and detailed articles and interviews that make it worth the trip to pick this up at your local comics shop. This is not a fanboy-infused slab of eye candy like the former (and unlamented) WIZARD magazine but a serious publication dedicated to our favorite hobby.
Some of the highlights of Issue #4 include story details and art showcasing John Byrne’s recent burst of creativity for IDW Publishing; a lengthy but enlightening and entertaining piece where authors Simon Spurrier & Mike Carey interview each other about their newest works (SIX-GUN GORRILLA and SUICIDE RISK, respectively) which has prompted me to check out their debut issues; a cool preview of Max Brooks’ Extinction Parade plus interview; an in-depth interview with IDW Editor-In-Chief Chris Ryall that is highly informative regarding their rise to prominence in the crowded comic book marketplace; and the usual gossip and rumors from the pen of Rich Johnston (the most infamous BC scribe). For those who despise Johnston, there is less of him this issue and more of the other talented writers for BC, specifically James Kuhoric (very good work, especially interviews). For those who admire Johnston (it’s a mix of both for me) there is a very good serious article by him regarding the early days of censorship.
I look forward to BLEEDING COOL magazine every month and recommend reading it on a regular basis. It’s the best print source that is readily available for comics news, etc.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #3 (Marvel, August 2013)
None of the current Marvel books have clicked with me except for this one; the only one that I am following monthly. It seems very fresh and unpredictable, and filled with little funny asides and light humor that entertains without resorting to silliness. The cover is a homage to a classic Wolverine cover and I love it (but I’m not in love with the featured character).
Issue #3 picks up at the end of the prior issue. After the Guardians saved Earth from a war ship loaded with the alien Badoon, they were arrested by the Royal Guard and taken to the Spartax prison planet. While the Guardians try to figure a way out, the Galactic Council debates what to do with them. While the Council is scratching their heads and appendages, some of the prison guards speculate and debate on their own. It’s interesting and funny to compare and contrast the two different levels. It seems like the guards have realized something that the big all-important Council has apparently overlooked.
The art by McNiven and Pichelli is spectacular and really enhances the scope of the cosmic epic that scripter Bendis is building. There are more two-page panels and more of the narrow wide-screen panels that have been really effective at indicating scale in this book. The ink and color team does a super job with backgrounds. Just take a look at the one-page spotlight on Tony Stark as he contemplates the next course of action. I have never seen bigger guns in use than right here in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. How can some of the smaller characters possibly hold and aim them with any accuracy?
The weakest part of this book for me are the two most shallow characters - - Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Groot is featured here repeating his three word mantra over and over again, each time more annoying than the one before. Rocket just likes to make sound effects for his weapons and boast about how many soldiers he has murdered during the battle. Sigh. I can tolerate this only as long as these two characters don’t dominate the book. There are only two more issues before Angela and Neil Gaiman show up in Issue #6. I’m really looking forward to that.