Showing posts from March, 2011

March Madness - - Decimal Points .4 - - - March 31, 2011

WOLVERINE #5.1  (Marvel Comics, April 2011)  “Happy”  by Jason Aaron, Writer.  Jefte Palo, Art.  Nathan Fairbairn, Color Art.  Paolo Rivera, Cover Art.  VC’s Cory Petit, Letterer.  Above the art on the splash page/credits page is a short but accurate summary of the game-changing event that led to the transformation of Logan into Wolverine.  Below that art is another short  but accurate summary of what has happened to Wolverine in the years following his escape from the living weapon experiment through his association with the X-Men and Avengers and involvement with his children = Daken and X-23.  The last sentences bring us right to the current situation and takes us right to the events of this particular “Point One” issue . . . . . “He’s been to hell and back.  Literally.  But there’s one experience Logan’s never had before . . . “ That single page contains more information that a new reader or a returning reader will obtain about the current state of Wolverine than in the followin

March Madness - - Decimal Points .3 - - - March 30, 2011

THOR #620.1  (Marvel Comics, May 2011)  Script: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning.  Art: Mark Brooks.  Color Art: Sonia Oback & John Rauch.  Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino. Wow!  Who is Mark Brooks?  I can’t recall seeing his art before.  It’s magnificent!  An epic look fit for a mythic book.  Art lovers are going to pick this as their absolute favorite “Point One” book.  It is gorgeous to look over. The story is not too shabby, either.  It starts off with the preparations for a celebration revolving around Thor.  It’s also very funny to imagine a pizza and beer delivery going to Asgard.    It’s Thursebolt, the feast of Thor.  I’ve been reading Thor titles on a fairly regular basis (but not every single title) and this is the first time I’ve heard of Thursebolt - - but I like it.  It makes a great framing device for Abnett and Lanning to set up their story.  Many and various players get to step up to the “podium” and toast/roast the God of Thunder - - which lets the writers touch on some m

March Madness - - Decimal Points .2 - - - March 29, 2011

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500.1  “What It Was Like, What Happened, And What It’s Like Now” Matt Fraction, Writer.  Salvador Larroca, Artist.  Frank D’Armata, Colorist.  VC’s Joe Caramagna, Letterer. This was my second favorite of the “Point One” books that I read.  The reason is similar to why I made CAPTAIN AMERICA #615.1 my first pick - - - it gets into the core of the character - - what makes Tony Stark - Tony Stark, and what makes Tony Stark Iron Man  - Tony Stark Iron Man. (No, I’m not stuttering. Read aloud and put more emphasis on the pronunciation when the names are repeated for full impact.) As I read IRON MAN #500.1 I felt like a Roman Catholic priest sitting in the dark cubicle of the confessional and hearing the sins of the church member through the little screen that separates the thin walls of the  booth.  And, true to form and the legend of the original Iron Man, Tony doesn’t take his confessions to a church.  He bares his soul at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.   That is

March Madness - - Decimal Points .1 - - March 28, 2011

I’m going to review several of the Marvel “Point One” titles  - - as described, they are intended to be a good “jumping on” point for new readers or readers coming back to these books after an absence (like me).  So, to fulfill their purpose  they need to give a non-regular reader a feel for both the tone of the book as well as the characters - - and give them enough background to follow the stories that come next, or even begin in # .1 issues. That’s a tall order.  Whether or not they succeed in accomplishing all of that is subject to interpretation and debate.  What all four books that I read had in common  = they were all great reads with excellent stories and art.  You will get your need for entertainment satisfied.  I’m going to review these in order of my personal favorites - - and none of them are runner-ups.  All are contenders.  This first one merits a grade of A+. CAPTAIN AMERICA  #615.1 (Marvel Comics, May 2011) Writer: Ed Brubaker.  Artist:  Mitch  Breitweiser.  Color Arti

Books I Read: Finals (Vertigo Resurrected)

This is a classic Vertigo miniseries by Will Pfeifer (HERO, Catwoman, Amazons Attack *cough*) and Jill Thompson (Sandman, Invisibles, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman), re-presented in DC's new "DC Presents/Vertigo Resurrected" 100 pages for $7.99 format. Somehow I missed this when it first came out, but I've heard good things about it in the years since and I'm happy to have the opportunity to read it now at a bargain price. The story is set at a fictional university where everyone's senior project is an extreme version of their field of study: for example, the physics student is building a time machine, the religious studies major has started her own cult, and the criminal justice student is committing a series of ever more audacious crimes. The main character is a film student, which is appropriate for Pfeifer, a film buff  who writes a movie blog for the Rockford Register Star . (Pfeifer's Film Freak arc in Catwoman is also fondly remembered.) We follow t

March Madness 3/27/2011 - - - DIGITALIS

  I just finished what I thought was going to be a short survey after receiving an email invitation from It asked many questions related to comics on the internet, digital comics and digital subscriptions, comics apps for smart phones, etc.  Seems like Marvel is trying to plot their future direction and determine some trends so they can respond accordingly. I think they are smart to do so, and appreciate the thoroughness of the survey - - which gets into many other areas of popular entertainment, entertainment habits, etc.  I’d encourage anyone who cares about the future of this important medium to respond.  I wanted to be sure that I could indicate my preference for print, and there were several responses that allowed me to do so.  Even though I’ve warmed up to some of the other presentation formats for comics, nothing beats holding the book in your hand.  I tried to copy the link here from my email invite.  It must be personally synced to my individual survey beca

March Going Bats Madness 3/26/2011 – DARK KNIGHTS

BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT #2  (DC Comics, May 2011) “Golden Dawn, Part Two”               Written and Penciled by David Finch. Inked By Scott Williams.  Colored By Alex Sinclair.     Lettered by Dave Sharpe. This books fits David Finch like a bat-glove.  This is the title he was meant to draw.  I’m amazed at his work in Issue #2.  It just gets better.  I know many readers will wait to pick this up in trade paperback or hardcover --  and I can’t blame them.  It’s sure to be a beautiful book.  But I can’t wait that long when the work is this good.  I want to get it in regular doses. In Issue #2 Batman (Bruce Wayne) continues to investigate the disappearance of Dawn Golden, his childhood “friend”.  Issue #1 ended with Batman surrounded by the Penguin’s cronies with huge guns.   He manages to escape by using a new device that I haven’t seen before.  Seems Batman is not the only one getting out of a jam this issue.  Killer Croc makes his escape from the Gotham City Police Department as

They Said it Better: Xombi #1

I was a huge fan of Milestone comics in their heyday, and of all the attempts to revive them since. So it won't surprise you, especially those of you who know me, that I loved the new Xombi #1. It felt to me as if the book had never stopped, yet it had everything in it a new reader needs to know. But don't take my word for it. After all, I admit I was predisposed to love this book. Listen instead to San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs, who says that he hasn't liked a lot of comics lately. His comments also have a comic book store spin on them, which is appropriate for the community from whence this blog sprung. (Yes, I just used "whence" and "sprung" in a sentence, apparently. Deal with it.) In Which Hibbs Actually Recommends Something

March Madness 3/25/2011 - - - THE MISSION - eerie

THE MISSION #2  (Image Comics, March 2011) Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber, Writers.  Werther Dell’Edera, Artist.  Arianna Florean, Color Artist.  Dave Sharpe, Letterer. In my March 13th review of THE MISSION #1, I commented that the story covered some familiar themes in fantasy/horror fiction and the telling of the tale would determine if this was an original variation on those themes or just another mediocre or derivative version. After reading THE MISSION #2, I’m happy to report that this delivers the goods.  It’s captivating and a little frightening/eerie.  It holds the attention.   This is a very good book.  Just how far would a person stray from the center of their comfort zone if  refusal meant a threat to their personal salvation or the welfare of their family and loved ones?   And in making the choice would the unfamiliar and unpleasant aspects of those decisions start to become comfortable?   By taking one step off the beaten path, could that person become lost and begin

March Super-Hero Movie Madness 3/25/2011 – CAPTAIN AMERICA

The official CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER movie (July 2011 debut) trailer is all over the web.  I found a link to it here, via Fandango: I like this trailer, especially the transformation scenes from scrawny, skinny Steve Rogers to the Ultimate Super-Soldier = Captain America.  I’m excited to see this movie now! 

March Madness - - March 24, 2011 – STRANGE Memories

DOCTOR STRANGE: FROM THE MARVEL VAULT #1  (Marvel Comics, April 2011) “This Old House”  Roger Stern, Writer.  Neil Vokes, Penciler.  Jay Geldhof, Inker. Lee Loughridge, Colorist. Jared K. Fletcher, Letterer. This is Doctor Strange the way I remember him best = keeping the world safe from the intrusion of otherworldly or supernatural demons and entities.  The front page of this one-shot tells the story behind this particular story.  “This Old House” was a script in development by Roger Stern back in 1998, intended to become MARVEL UNIVERSE #8.  However, the series was canceled before the story was completed.  Thanks to the efforts of Marvel Editor Tom Brennan, it was finished this year and finds its’ way to publication now. It’s worth seeking out for a number of reasons.  One, its’ a flashback story that occurs in the early history of Doctor Stephen Strange, right after he completed his studies with the Ancient One and returned to New York City.  Two, it reveals how Dr. Strange cam

March Horror Hunter Madness 3/23/2011 – Edge Of Doom #2

EDGE OF DOOM #2 (IDW Publishing, December 2010)  Written by Steve Niles. Art by Kelley Jones. Colors by Jay Fotos. letters by Amauri Osorio After I recently  finished voting in the annual Rondo Hatton Horror Awards and nominated EDGE OF DOOM as the Best Horror Comic of 2010 - - I realized that I’ve only featured that book one single time on this website.  I need to catch up!  (So many comics --- good comics – so little time!)  Issue #2 takes a different turn from the horrific elements of the first issue and presents a science-fiction story that would fit right in with the best of the EC Comics tales from the 1950’s.  Which is the whole point of the EDGE OF DOOM series  - - using original tales patterned after those classic comics to pay tribute to the EC stable of writers and artists.  The advance IDW press release for this story summarizes the story very well:   “ Another tale of stark-raving four-color madness from our horror hosts Steve Niles and Kelley Jones! On an exploratory

March Madness - - Phoenix / Atlas - - - March 22, 2011

PHOENIX #1  (Atlas / Ardden, March 2011)  Writers = Bre ndan Deneen + Jim Krueger.     Art = Dean Zachary.  Colors = Mai.  Letters & Design = Richard Emms. I wanted to like this title more than I actually did.  I’m just excited by the very notion that a comics company would be resurrected almost 40 years later and have another go at market acceptance and profitability.  That’s admirable.  I’m pulling for Atlas to survive and thrive.  It could be the feel good comics story of this decade. However, I’m not going to recommend a title simply because I like the publisher, the writer, the artist, the character, etc.  It can’t be poor quality.  It must have some entertainment value. Fortunately, PHOENIX is worth your examination.   While it may turn out to be the weakest of the new Atlas titles (I haven’t read GRIM GHOST yet, so the jury is still out- no final verdict yet) it does have it's moments. And, those moments are interesting enough to bring me back for a few more issues.

March Madness – Get happy. Read Superboy. March 21, 2011

SUPERBOY #5  (DC Comics, May 2011)  “The Superboy / Kid Flash  Race”                                       Jeff Lemire, Writer.  Pier Gallo, Artist.  Jamie Grant, Colorist.  John J. Hill, Letterer. I have previously written several favorable reviews about SUPERBOY on this site.  Almost every month I’ve had good reason to do so - - as each issue seems to provide further evidence that this is becoming a great superhero book, and one that should be added to your pull list. SUPERBOY is one for all the ages.  Every comic reader can find something to enjoy and appreciate here.  Even more so, it’s one of those books (like the revived Crossgen SIGIL at Marvel)  that seems to be the best hope of attracting the attention of those young middle-school aged readers in their most formative years. It is without doubt the one book that I would recommend without hesitation to those younger readers.  If you have been following my reviews of SUPERBOY and are curious to see what the fuss is all about  -

March Comics Technology Madness - - March 20, 2011 – Doctor Who

I’m not the biggest fan of all the new formats for comics.  I much prefer holding a book in my hand and flipping through the pages.  I still get a little uncomfortable with digital comics, motion comics, smart phone comics, etc. - - but I’m becoming more and more adept at using them every month and my tolerance level has increased “exponentially” (or insert appropriate tech/marketing word here).  One thing that’s occuring that I’m absolutely onboard with = these changes are creating new formats for comics. That results in  new markets that bring in new audiences that keep the art form (the original American comic book) alive and vital in the 21st century.  And if these new formats create enough curiousity in the original item to drive new readers into comic book stores to view and hold the real thing - -  well, I consider that a good thing.  What follows is some information from the official IDW press release . . . . . . . . . . BBC Worldwide America and IDW Publishing bring DOCTOR W

March Awards Madness - - - 3/19/2011 - - Rondo Hatton Awards

This is the final week to vote in the NINTH ANNUAL RONDO HATTON CLASSIC HORROR AWARDS.  The deadline for ballots is midnight, March 27, 2011. The annual awards are fan-based and dedicated to the best in horror in 30 different categories.  This year’s awards are dedicated to the memory of Gloria Stuart, Ingrid Pitt and Verne Langdon. More information about the awards, including previous winners, and an e-mail ballot can be obtained at: Here are the categories for the awards: Best Movie Of 2010 Best TV Presentation of 2010 Best Classic DVD Best DVD Collection Best Restoration Best Commentary Best DVD Extra Best Independent Film Or Documentary – there are video links to clips or trailers. Best Short Film – there are video links to clips or trailers. Book Of The Year Best Magazine Of 2010 Best Article Best Interview – award goes to the interviewer. Best Magazine Cover - - these are all reproduced

March Heavy Metal Madness 3/18/2011 - - - Iron Man 2.0 #2

IRON MAN 2.O #2   (Marvel Comics, April 2011 – release date 3/16/2011)  Nick Spencer, Writer.  Barry Kitson, Kano & Carmine Di Giandomenico, Artists.  Matthew Wilson, Colorist. VC’s Joe Caramagna, Letterer. “Palmer Addley Is Dead” Part 2 of 3  It wasn’t that long ago that I reviewed Iron Man 2.0 Issue #1  (BC REFUGEES, March 11, 2011) .  It was my first encounter with the work of writer Nick Spencer (MORNING GLORIES, ACTION COMICS, etc) and I was impressed.  He did an outstanding job in the first issue of establishing the new setting for the main character  (James Rhodes, War Machine), and then set about planting clues and information for what became a very intriguing mystery for Rhodey to figure out and solve.  I anxiously awaited Issue #2 so I could learn more - - so I snatched the last copy of this off the shelves of Captain Blue Hen today.  (Sold all their copies by the 3rd day of display? - - not too shabby!  I’m sure they had at least 8-10 copies in their new releases se

March Crossgen Revisited Madness – March 17, 2011

SIGIL #1  (Marvel Comics, May 2011) Mike Carey, Writer. Leonard Kirk, Pencils. Ed Tadeo, Inks. Guru Efx, Colors. Rob Steen, Letters. The Crossgen era at Marvel was ushered in last week with the debut of SIGIL, soon to be followed by the highly anticipated return of RUSE.  I’ve also chosen to write about SIGIL today as my way of honoring St. Patrick’s Day.  By writing a review of a book about a red-haired, green-eyed “Colleen” I pay my respects to my Irish heritage.  The other option was to pour a Guinness over my laptop - - - I picked the first choice instead.  At first SIGIL seemed an odd choice of Crossgen book for Marvel to revive/adapt.  Most of the Crossgen books took place in fantasy settings - - and I remember SIGIL as a galaxy-spanning good old science fiction space opera.  (See the cover image to the left.)  It wasn’t even one of the Crossgen books I was following on a regular basis.  (That would be RUSE, SOJOURN and a few others.)  However, it seems that this new SIGIL is

March Horror Hunter Madness- Grimm Myths March 16, 2011

  GRIMM FAIRY TALES MYTHS & LEGENDS #1 – 2  (Zenescope Entertainment, January + March 2011) Story by Raven Gregory, Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco.  Written by Raven Gregory. Art by David Miller. Colors by Jason Embury with consultation by Nei Ruffino. Letters by Jim Campbell. Rather than being an adaptation of classic fairy tales or simply based on them as parent title GRIMM FAIRY TALES does,  GRIMM FAIRY TALES MYTHS & LEGENDS is an original story and set in current times.  The “myth” or “legend” referred to in the title appears to be a werewolf  for this first story arc. It’s a fierce and stalking predator of gigantic Incredible-Hulk-sized physique with a bloody appetite - - all vividly depicted in the Zenescope house style of gore and girls. All of the Zenescope books I’ve read feature gorgeous women with enhanced anatomies in seductive and teasing poses and situations.  They sometimes come close to being R or X-rated adults only fare but always stop short, back off, or w

They Said It Better: Wildcats 3.0 Year One and Year Two

I just finished rereading Wildcats 3.0 in its new "Year One" and "Year Two" volumes, and I don't have anything to add to this Comics Alliance appreciation of the series other than to say I recently read some issues of "G.I. Joe: Cobra" and "G.I. Joe: Origins" (Hi, Aaron!) and in my opinion the writers of both those series were influenced by Joe Casey's work. (Also influenced: Matt Fraction's Iron Man. But that's a discussion for another day.) Wildcats 3.0: A Look Back at a Comic Too Far Ahead of Its Time

March First Issue Madness 2 - - The Intrepids March 15, 2011

  THE INTREPIDS #1 ( Image Comics, February 2011)  Kurtis J. Wiebe, Co-Creator, Writer.  Scott Kowalchuk, Co-Creator, Illustrator, Cover, Designer. Justin Scott, Colorist. Frank Zigarelli, Letterer. It’s been a month of discovery for me ( even though I’m discovering books one or two months after their release dates).  Next up on my list - - and a nice surprise - - is THE INTREPIDS debut issue from Image featuring a new team of both heroes and creators. It’s not deep.  It’s not dark.  It’s not philosophical or controversial. It’s just a little bit thought-provoking.  What it is  - - is loaded with entertainment and a fresh approach to a familiar format. THE INTREPIDS will remind you of both THE X-MEN (the original Uncanny ones) and THE DOOM PATROL (the originals again).  It calls to mind THE X-MEN much more than it does THE DOOM PATROL although readers familiar with both can find things in THE INTREPIDS to trigger the memories. One of the reasons I quit on THE X-MEN titles was bec

March Madness - - - Who Wants To Play? - - March 14, 2011

I just finished making my picks for the NCAA College Basketball Tournament on a Yahoo web site.  I joined a league that includes my older son, girlfriend, some of his buddies, cousins, etc.  It’s just for fun and bragging rights - -  no money involved. The thought occurred to me – - - why not start a BC Refugees March Madness related to comics?  That could be tons  of fun! There are lots of possibilities - -  picking the top selling books for the month of March.  (We’d have to wait for Diamond’s final results to know who won that one).  Or, just pairing off different super-teams head to head and then eliminating them for a final four.   If you like the idea, leave a comment here and I’ll try to put something together. Now, where did I put that thinking cap?

March First Issue Madness - - March 13, 2011 = The Mission

THE MISSION #1  (Image Comics, February 2011  ) Jon Hoeber + Erich Hoeber, writers.  Werther Dell’Edera, artist.  Arianna Florean, color artist.  Dave Sharpe, letterer. THE MISSION poses the question:  Could anyone kill another person for a good reason?  For the right reasons?  Would anyone kill if it meant saving their family?  Saving themselves? I’ve encountered several variations on this theme in other stories before.  An ordinary person is suddenly asked to do the extra-ordinary = to perform a task out of their comfort zone and often in direct violation of their own principles and values.  They’ve been enlisted or forced into service to a higher power.  They are asked to accept their mission without benefit of explanation because it involves gods or demons.  They feel as if they refuse they will disrupt the balance between chaos and order, or something equally dreadful will happen as a consequence.  It’s in the telling of the story that separates the original variation on th

All-Star Superman (Blu-ray and DVD)

DC/Warner's newest animated home video is an adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's epic "All-Star Superman". I can't imagine how hard this story must have been to adapt, given the time constraints, but the late Dwayne McDuffie did a fine job. Basically the Lois Lane and Lex Luthor threads of the story are retained, and the Jimmy Olsen, future Superman, and Bizarro scenes are cut. (I wish he had been able to include my favorite scene, pictured at right.) It's still remarkably faithful, opening with Morrison's minimalist origin ("Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple. Superman.") and ending with Luthor's realization of why Superman is who he is. McDuffie made two changes to the scenes that he did use: one, about the disposition of Solaris the Tyrant Sun, that I disagree with and the second, about how Superman's genetic code is preserved, that I like very much. The film is not a substitute for reading the b

March Randomizer Madness - - Birds, Holmes, etc. . . March 12, 2011

BIRDS OF PREY #10  (DC Comics, May 2011)  Gail Simone, writer.  Inaki Miranda, artist.  Nei Ruffino, colorist.  Swans, letterer.  Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, cover artist. “The Death Of Oracle” conclusion:  “The Gristle And The Ghostly” The Death Of Oracle story arc wraps up here in nice fashion.  Oracle gets what she wished for - - her faked death which ensures she can remain a background player in crime prevention.  As Barbara Gordon so aptly puts it: “If I’m out in the open, then the criminals get cautious.  And we can’t have that. . . . . Because my goal is that they never see me coming.” Second tier criminal The Calculator gets the credit for disposing of Oracle, and ups his credentials by doing so.  Word gets around because he’s a big bragger, and likes the free drinks all his associates are buying him now.   But he doesn’t earn his stripes easily - - and not before the Birds Of Prey crush his credibility with the hired guns, as well as abuse him both physically and mental