Whether you loved it (like me), or you left the cinema scratching your head, one thing’s certain – Watchmen intrigued people. I’ve leant my copy of the TPB to at least 3 people at work. It’s not bad as a ‘gateway book’ for people unfamiliar with sequential art. Sure, it’s complex, but it serves as a bold statement that comics aren’t simple. DC realise that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ work will open a lot of eyes around the world, and are wisely taking advantage of that. Out now are a few more ‘gateway book’s that can ease new readers into the scary world of comics. Even if you’ve read these Trades, you might wanna grab some for friends that find comics hard to grasp. Go here to see the complete list of 20 titles available under the After Watchmen…What’s Next? banner. There’s something for every taste, from classics like Sandman and The Dark Knight Returns to newer works such as Y: The Last Man and Identity Crisis. Below are some of my faves.
I remember struggling to catch as much of the glorious 1990s X-Men cartoon each day before heading off to school. It was surprisingly faithful to the comics of the time, and often written by comics scribes. Many people came to be aware of Marvel’s merry mutants due to this show. Now you can see them all over again, as well as the new Wolverine and the X-Men animated series, which is my fave thing on TV, along with the fun Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Press release below.
Calling all Mutants! Every Tuesday, Marvel.com will stream episodes from the X-Men animated series that launched in 1992. Relive the adventure, excitement and that awesome theme song every week starting today, April 28!
Watch episode 1, “Night of the Sentinels” Part 1, for free right now, here.
Episode 1, “Night of the Sentinels,” Part 1: After being attacked by a group of robots known as the Sentinels, Jubilation Lee meets the X-Men, a group of super heroes aiming for peace between mutants and the rest of society.
Plus, check out these other shows, already streaming for free on Marvel.com:
FCBD – that’s Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 2. Basically you can grab selected freebies from participating comic shops around the globe. For more info, go here. There’s a lot happening, especially in America (they have all the fun) including signings at various comic shops with Captain Kirk (or at least that Shatner guy that played him), and a treasure trove of comics creators. It’s a great way to introduce friends or family members to the wonders of sequential art. A gaggle of press releases below.
Event: William Shatner signing at Golden Apple Comics
”FREE COMIC BOOK DAY”
Host: Bluewater Productions
Start Time: Saturday, May 2 at 1:00pm
End Time: Saturday, May 2 at 3:00pm
Where: Golden Apple Comics
Hero Initiative is proud to announce a unique fundraising partnership with Southern California comic stores on Saturday, May 2nd for Free Comic Book Day, and Los Angeles’ “Big Sunday” on May 3. Three comic stores in Southern California will donate proceeds directly to Hero Initiative from signings and drawings by featured creators. In addition, the local comic stores will host community events and distribute free comic books as part of the national celebration. Local celebrations on Saturday, May 2nd include:
Collector’s Paradise, 7131 Winnetka Ave, Winnetka California
A signing will be held between 12pm and 3:00pm attended by:
- Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man)
- Marc Guggenheim (Amazing Spider-Man)
- Jim Mahfood (40-oz. Comics)
- Mike Kunkel (Billy Baston and the Power of Shazam!)
- Joe Benitez (Justice League of America)
- David Wohl (Witchblade)
- JT Krul (Fathom)
In addition, eBay auctions of original art donated to Hero will start May 2nd here.
And a professional photographer will take picture of you and your favorite artist or Comic Book Hero at Collector’s Paradise with all proceeds donated to Hero Initiative.
Finally, you can bring your Ralphs Rewards grocery store card to Collector’s Paradise to sign it up for Hero on Ralphs Community Contribution program OR sign up for a new card and get a FREE copy of Hero’s What If This Was the Fantastic Four?
Meltdown Comics, 7522 West Sunset, Los Angeles CA
Artist Tim Sale (Batman: The Long Halloween) will be in attendance on Hero’s behalf from noon-2 PM and will do sketches on the inside cover of books for $20, and Hero sketchcards for $10.
Four Color Fantasies, 7172 Archibald Ave, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Original art auctions will benefit Hero Initiative, and there will be character appearances by Batman and Robin, Superman, and the Star Wars 501st legion. Drawing contests, face paining and free food and fun for the whole family will also be included. Some of the many featured artists to appear include:
- Todd Nauck (Amazing Spider-Man)
- Danny Miki (Amazing Spider-Man)
- Norm Rapmund (Infinite Crisis)
- Allen Martinez (Iron Man)
And on Sunday, May 3, Los Angeles’ all-inclusive charity event known as Big Sunday will also benefit Hero Initiative with “Change for Change” at many of its most-attended sites. Volunteers for Change for Change will be asking people to donate their loose change to Hero. Check out www.bigsunday.org for locations and events
Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced its plans today for this weekend’s Free Comic Book Day, Saturday, May 2nd which takes place in comic shops across North America. Free Comic Book Day is an annual event where participating direct market stores give out free comics to anyone that walks into their store.
Top Cow is participating again in the event with their Free Comic Book Day offering, Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer First Look. The issue serves as an introduction to the publisher’s summer event of the same name, which brings together the two popular teams Cyberforce and Hunter-Killer. The series and Free Comic Book Day offering is written by Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable) and drawn by Kenneth Rocafort (Astonishing Tales, Madame Mirage). Both teams were co-created by Top Cow founder Marc Silvestri and Hunter-Killer was co-created by writer Mark Waid. The teams have been absent from a regular series for several years and this marks their return to the forefront of the Top Cow Universe.
Writer Mark Waid will be appearing at Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka, CA and artist Kenneth Rocafort will be appearing at the Puerto Rico Comic Con in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Other Top Cow creators making appearances in Los Angeles include Michael Broussard, Rob Levin, Nelson Blake II, and Rick Loverd. Additionally, Top Cow mainstays Ron Marz and Phil Hester will be appearing in various parts of the United States to celebrate the annual event.
Complete details follow below:
7131 Winnetka Ave.
Winnetka, CA 91306
Mark Waid (Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer)
Joe Benitez (The Darkness, Magdalena)
David Wohl (Witchblade, The Darkness)
Puerto Rico Comic Con & Pop Culture Expo
100 Convention Boulevard
San Juan, PR 00907
Kenneth Rocafort (Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer, Madame Mirage)
For more Top Cow related signings, see below.
Wonder Woman #31, from DC Comics goes on sale this week. Diana battles Achilles, Zeus’ choice to replace her. The battle of the sexes is on. Written by Gail Simone (Secret Six), with art by Bernard Chang (not Aaron Lopresti despite what DC’s website says), this issue continues the Rise of the Olympian storyline.
See more great art below.
From Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes, who have written the excellent BOOM! series Eureka and Station, respectively, comes this impressively cuddly debut. It had me smirking and fondly recalling my own carefree days of playing with my He-Man figures and G.I Joes. Ah, good times. This is a boy’s own adventure – literally, but it does have a healthy dose of dark humour and adventure. Like BOOM!’s other series, such as The Incredibles, or The Muppet Show Comic Book, this is something parents could read with their kids, with both getting enjoyment from it.
It begins with a scientist running from the agency he works for. Upon creating Artificial Intelligence, he flees from his nefarious employers and runs to the closest toy shop, where he swaps his CD with that of an interactive teddy bear. At the same time, David, a bath salesman recently separated from his fed up wife, is taking his son Zach out for a bit of shopping. After waving masculine gifts infront of his face, Zach decides to go for Mr. Stuffins instead. The rest of the issue is focused on Zach as he discovers his teddy’s unique skill set and gets frustrated with his lack of singing and bed-time story telling abilities. After all, that’s what the box promised! It’s like a premise of a classic 1980s film that was never made.
I could hear Mr. Stuffin’s gruff, take charge voice every time he spoke. He ties up a lifeless pink bunny for interrogation, beats up school bullies and mocks Zach’s parents. Yet he’s a loveable rascal. While elements of Buzz Lightyear and the 1998 film Small Soldiers may be apparent to some, this is still a refreshing concept. Zack is old enough to know that a teddy bear with military skills is not normal, yet young enough to just accept him as a new, though reluctant, friend.
I can see why this was a sell-out when it first appeared, and now that it’s returned with new art by Axel Medellin, it will surely garner new fans. Medellin draws with great expression. His figure work is simple, yet fluid enough and from the moment Mr. Stuffins’ eyes alight and he sits up, fully aware, I was sold on the approach. It has some great pacing and truly witty lines, that I won’t do the disservice of spoiling here. Let’s just say that I haven’t been entertained with cuddly toys for many years, yet I now want a Mr. Stuffins for Christmas.
The tech-mag Wired appears to be ramping up its comic book cool factor lately. You can check out an interview with Neil Gaiman on his delayed conclusion to the Batman’s farewell, Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? Now, the interviewer describes these final two Batman-centric issues of Detective Comics as “hilarious” for some odd reason, but then again Gaiman’s issues, which either discard or embrace continuity, depending on your point of view, are somewhat intriguing. They’re also slightly maddening as a send off to the legendary man in the cowl. The interview is worth a read though, as Gaiman discusses Alan Moore, the Watchmen and Sandman films, and more.
Also, you can read an interesting piece in the latest issue of Wired, by guest editor J.J. Abrams about his frustration over the internet hating his attempted 2002 Superman script (the one where Krypton doesn’t explode, Lex Luthor is a Kryptonian and Jimmy Olsen is gay). Um…yeah, there’s many reason why fandom didn’t embrace your script, Mr. Abrams.
This is a big comic in every way. It’s hard to imagine any other publisher than Image stamping this on the stands. I get the feeling that Viking, the self described, “9th century crime book” is going to be one of those series that people will be hungry for. Like Scalped, or Incognito, Viking is a series that seems to come from left of centre, yet is filled with a dominant sway that will topple the spandex adventures beside it. If you have any doubt about the entertainment value of a series by two virtually unknown creators that has no spandex inside it, such uncertainity will be pulverised to nothingness after turning the last page.
So, Viking is a big comic. Big in concept and big in production. What Image craftily kept to themselves was the size of this bad boy. It stands out from its funnybook brethren. Viking is slightly larger than the avergae monthly; not by much, but just enough to be noticeable. It’s a great surprise and I can foresee many readers like me, who ordered this book based on the preview art alone, having this thump down on the counter from their pull box, and being genuinely taken aback. Thank you Image – seeing this for the first time was a pleasant surprise. And more than that, thank you for the contents within the larger pages. It lives up to the time and effort that’s been put into it. Of course, better paper and a laregr size mean nothing if the story within is a waste. Thankfully, it’s not. Writer Ivan Brandon and artist Nic Klein have declared themselves to be true talents with this book.
Now, granted this story isn’t going to be welcomed into the bosom of every fanboy. It’s old-timey dialogue and instantly detestable protagonists will throw some people off, but it is a simple narrative and engaging to boot. Two criminal brothers, Finn and Egil are thieves, killing and selling the goods of their victims. They’re tough guys, but with a love for their family. Between their last raid and their next, they face retribution of a swift and terrible kind, which lays the ground for the next issue well. Interspersed is a nice sequence involving a rich king and his lovely, carefree daughter. She desires adventure, and I’m sure when her path crosses with the brothers, that’s surely what she’ll find.
This issue has just sold out, but Image are rushing a second printing, for release on May 6. Issue 2 is out on June 13. Once you cast your peepers on the art, you’ll understand why. Nic Klein’s work deserves the larger format, and as Ivan Brandon mentions in his afterword, Klein solidified what Viking was and brought it to a new place. Klein’s artwork is rustic, and dirty and filled with blood and grime. Yet it all looks very beautiful. At times it resembles the large-dot style of the Golden Age and other times he turns his attention to a particular panel and paints it splendidly. It’s not a mish-mash of techniques, and it all blends well, thanks to his restrained layouts and colour choices.
Some may find the conversations hard to follow at times, and despite its fairly straight forward narrative, you will need to concentrate when reading it. It’s such a pleasure to actually hold in your hands though, and even if the story isn’t for you, the artistic approach must be admired.
Preview pics of #2 below.
I haven’t read a lot of Warren Ellis’ work, though I’m familiar with his recently wrapped (but not finished) Anna Mercury, also from Avatar. It was a simple and unashamedly fun 4 ish mini centred on a red head’s crazy sci-fi adventures. Similar to Mercury, in that it stars a sassy female character surrounded by men in a mish-mash world of hi-techerry, with low-tech solutions, Ignition City is entertaining enough. City throws in lots more swearing, vomiting and toilet humour than an America Pie film. It’s amusing in a way, but not exactly novel. Fans of Ellis will know exactly what to expect. He seems to present similar ideas in new packaging. I’m not saying he’s not a great writer. He definitely is, but perhaps he’s over this quasi sci-fi vibe he’s dealing with now, he can show the diversity he’s capable of once more. City is concerned with Mary Raven, a pilot who travels to the grimy titular location to discover what happened to her famous father before he died. Gianluca Pagliarani’s art is mildly distracting. Facial expressions often look awkward, but he draws ugly cosmonauts and grimy, steel plates well, so that’s something. The 1956 setting is sold ably with his unusual designs for weapons and transport, as well as the look of Earth’s last spaceport. Its diversions from our history’s space race and its effects on he world’s superpowers are played out with promise, but this title is off to a slow start. For Ellis fans only.
IDW’s American McGee’s Grim is a new series bringing the apparently popular game character to the printed page. Grimm is a surly pirate-like dwarf who runs amok through fairy tales, jumping on things wit his butt to put the darkness back into the tales. Yes, that’s right. I’ve heard of American McGee (yep, that’s his real name), and his games such as Alice, and Scrapland, but never played them. Grimm is currently being released weekly through GameTap.com. Written by Dwight L.Macpherson, each issue of this mini-series is focused on Grimm’s intrusion into a different genre of comics. Naturally, first up are do-gooder superheroes. I didn’t laugh once. There’s just not enough room to play with. It’s a vaguely interesting concept, as Grimm empowers the assorted baddies to defeat the ever-victorious Freedom Friends, but it’s all been done before. Lobo, the recent Bizarro arc in Action Comics, or even Justice League International have all run with this idea, but they were given more than 22 pages. Once Grimm has introduced himself in the first 6 pages, the remaining 22 are just a one-sided battle during a parade through the streets of Megalopolis. There are over a dozen costumed characters – all the obligatory homages to popular characters, but none are obviously given the time to develop character. Superheroes being surprised that they’re getting beaten just isn’t funny, by itself. Grant Bond’s art does work though, with its loose Mike Allred style and Golden Age colouring, and having Grimm rendered in a style separate from the rest of the universe is a nice touch. I’m sure MacPherson is an accomplished writer, as he’s been doing this for a while but he’s not given a lot to work with here.
The team behind Beach Studios, and Crozonia must be a confident bunch, competing with Fathom and its assorted spin-offs from Aspen MLT. Like the late Michael Turner’s best creation, this new series is focused on an attractive young woman torn between two undersea worlds. Writers Jim Su and Dan Merisanu have wisely set this story in 1948. I don’t know why exactly, but it’s enough of a deviation to make things a little more interesting. Essentially a young man, Matt Stark works for a publisher, with hopes of becoming a writer. One bad day he realises that perhaps his dreams are fruitless, so hits the bar and goes for a walk at night. Then he sees the aforementioned woman “drowning” and dives in to save her. Like Lenny from The Simpsons says, “Alcohol and night swimming – it’s a winning combination!” Matt becomes the rescued instead of the rescuer and wakes up to an amazing undersea city. The woman he attempted to save is actually a princess and a war is brewing. The whole issue has 1996 written all over it, from dialogue to the early-Image like art. The up-sides are some groovy pin-ups and Jim Su’s encouraging reflection on the journey it took to get this to print. So far Crozonia appears to be something that comic book newbies would gladly read, but those hankering for something more contemporary should look elsewhere. It’s not without promise though, and the production values are higher than the average indie (or even Big Two) book. With three colourists, including Su (who also did the lettering!) the look of this issue does hit above its weight class. With some more character development and surprises it could be one to watch.
I went to one of my comic shops yesterday and was aghast to discover that 5 books I ordered in February were now cancelled. Thanks Diamond! Actually, I wasn’t aghast exactly, as I never remember what I order two months after the fact (I like the surprise each week). It must be terribly frustrating for self-publishers now that the world’s biggest distributor of comics demands a minimum order before they carry it. I kind of get where Diamond are coming from, in a business sense, but it’s no fun for retailers, publishers or consumers. The Previews catalogue is only going to get smaller and that’s so depressing. I order way too many unheard of books each month from Previews, and look forward to new discoveries from unique talents and brave creators. Now it’s going to be very difficult to find them. I’m glad I’ve managed to do my tiny bit for great books like Harker and Kid Beowulf with Extra Sequential, but it’s not enough. New distributors without such restrictions will continue to gain new ground and the digital distribution model will attract more creators though. One company can’t kill the magical diversity in comics, and if anyone risks their talents, time and finances on actually creating a comic, they’ll be determined enough to find an outlet for it, I’m sure. I recommend keeping your eyes open every time you visit the LCS and check out what indie books are gaining new fans on-line. There’s a world beyond the familiar out there, and they need our support.
Retailers and publishers may find this interview with the minds behind Haven Distribution hopeful reading.
Image’s Dynamo 5 first appeared in 2007, created by writer Jay Faerber and artist Mahmud A. Asrar. Like Faerber’s other superhero family title, Noble Causes, Dynamo 5 focuses on a mixed team of heroes and the complications that come from being siblings and world savers. The tag-line, “Strangers bound by fate, and a father they never knew,” sums it up pretty well. The intriguing premise is that the world’s foremost superhero Captain Dynamo, wasn’t such a great husband, and sired at least 5 illegitimate children. Now he’s dead, and his widow, Maddie Warner, rounds up these kids, all of whom have inherited one of their Dad’s powers, and shapes them into a team – Dynamo 5. That’s a great launching point for any series.
This issue begins in an unusual place for an ATM – a park, as several drooling people rip it open and toss bystanders aside. Cops on horseback arrive, but the situation doesn’t get resolved until Dynamo 5 land and disperse the madmen (and women). The thankful cops blame the outpouring of a new drug called Flex onto the streets of Tower City for this rampant violence, as it increases strength while lowering inhibitions. The 5 siblings disperse, dedicated to launching their own investigation, but not before 2 of them go on dates, because balance is important in a busy superhero’s life. Visionary, otherwise known as Hector Chang, proves he’s the romantic by bringing flowers to the door of Firebird, otherwise known as Emily Reed. At the same time, Scrap, AKA Bridget Flynn, feels uncertainty as she waits for her on-line date to arrive at a coffee shop. Her fears seem to be erased as Nate turns up and the pair discuss their mutual disgust for poor grammar. Sounds like my kinda gal. After some inappropriate wordplay, the pair’s discussions are interrupted by…yep, a mouth frother demanding cash. Bridget rolls her eyes and is about to pounce on the thief, superhero style, but is beaten to it by Nate, who handles himself rather well with a gumball machine.
At the same time, Hector and Emily find the park too boring so suit up and blast things in the Shark Tank – the underwater workout area in the 5′s HQ. Beating up robots is far more bonding than looking at trees.
Meanwhile, the remaining 3 members of the team (Myriad, Scatterbrain and Slingshot) discuss the recent revelation of Maddie’s past. The issue ends on 3 different cliff-hangers, which is pretty impressive in itself. They’d mean more to a long-time reader, and I can’t say if they’re true to how the characters have been portrayed thus far, but they’re interesting surprises nonetheless and give Faerber a lot to play with in future issues.
I have the first Trade sitting unread on my shelf, with far too many other unopened books, but as a newbie to this title it reads well. It’s a good jumping on point for new readers as it introduces the team members and their different powers with ease, as well as their alter egos. Asrar styles the issue fluidly, and Yildiray Cinar, the artist on Faerber’s other family/superhero series, Noble Causes pitches in too, but the shift in artists is hardly noticeable. Each of the team member’s red and blue costumes look varied enough and it’s easy to identify who’s who. The fight scenes are handled dynamically, as are the facial expressions, whether it be Emily’s nervousness or the drug user’s mania. The Flex set-up seems like it will only lead to more action and danger, while the two superhero romances surely could go anywhere.
Appropriately entitled Geek-lactus (after the biggest, baddest planet eater in the Marvel Universe, Galactus) is Marvel.com’s new monthly video feature. Its’ devoted to the latest news regarding Marvel toys and collectibles. The premiere video features looks at the new Hasbro figures, Kotobukiya busts and more.
This is one of those books I ordered from Previews simply because it looked like something different. And it certainly is. World War 3 has been around since 1980 and was created by artists Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman. In their own words, “WW3 has functioned as a microcosm of the the kind of society we’d like to see. Content is valued over style and ideas are not regarded for their popularity, but for their substance. Artists are given a forum to reach an audience with their work and the opportunity to interact and examine their concepts in a group setting.”
With a rotating team of editors and no shortage of contributors, WW3 offers true creative freedom and a rare outlet for some inspired artists. Every page has something to say about today’s world; both good and bad. The latest issue is an almost entirely wordless one. With over 30 short stories, this 120 page mainly black and white comic is a splendid read. Size-wise it sits somewhere between a standard comic and a magazine, reminding you that what’s inside is some entertaining and unique content. Reading it, I felt like an intellectual, part of the cultural vanguard, rallying against, “the man.” Or maybe I just felt that way because this is a comic from artists I’ve never heard of and doesn’t feature a single superhero. Either way, I’m so glad I picked it up. As with any anthology, the quality varies, but I was genuinely smiling at a few witty entries, particularly The Crisis by Terry Labahn about one man’s failure to learn his lesson about money and In Security by Santiago Cohen. The latter brims with dark humour, but like every story within these pages, it has a point to make. Some are obvious and quite touching in their simplicity, while others had me scratching my head as to what exactly they were trying to say. The art styles range from manga to cartoons to the swirling, expressive line work seen in the double pages of Mac McGill’s Song For Katrina. There’s also a short selection of Kuper’s photos of art seen on Mexican walls. A well researched 4 page article by David A. Berona on the history of wordless art as it relates to spotlighting social injustice is a nice touch too and helps remind readers that the powerful , yet simple tales within WW3 are part of a global force. The majority of the work here, as in every issue, is focused on humanity and it’s needless desire for destruction of the environment or itself. None of the stories are depressing however. They serve to remind us of what we already know, such as the sometimes foolishness of chasing material wealth. Those who know that comics don’t always live up to their potential as a storytelling force to be noticed, will find a kindred spirit within these emotive pages.
You can read an interview with Kuper about WW3 and this particular issue here.
Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer #1 Mark Waid/Kenneth Rocafort/Mike Choi
Berserker #2 Rick Loverd/Jeremy Haun/Dale Keown
Fusion #3 Abnett/Lanning/Kirkham/Choi
Dragon Prince #1-4 Reader Set Marz/Moder
Impaler #5 William Harms/Matt Timson
Witchblade #128 Ron Marz/Stjepan Sejic
Witchblade #125 ECCC Var Cvr Marz/Sejic/Silvestri
Art of Top Cow HC Silvestri/Top Cow’s Finest
Witchblade Vol 7 TPB Marz/Sejic
Witchblade/Darkness/Angelus: Blood on the Sands Sgn Smith/Mitchell/Grindberg/Admira
And here’s what I’d pick – actually all of them if I could. Berserker started strong, Witchblade continues to intrigue and Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer is by Waid and Rocafort, so what’s not to love there? Art books seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately, and we should be thankful for that. The Art of Top Cow should be dream to the eyes, and for newbies who like horror, you can’t go wrong with Impaler or if you prefer you entretainment less adult – go for the complete set of Dragon Prince. The conclusion to the 3 part x-over with Marvel, Fusion should also be a beauty. That’s enough to keep you busy.
I have a soft spot for indie comics. At least a third of everything I order from Previews is from relatively small self-publishers. Two things struck me about this book; the gloomy yet intriguing cover and the fact that it’s from a Xeric Award winner. Published by Passenger Pigeon Publishing, Chronicles is a simple, black and white 96 page one-shot. Writer/artist Felix Tannenbaum clearly has some skills. However, what is also clear is that he’s a far better writer than an artist. Judging by the work on his web-site, Tannenbaum shows quality with his sketches and paintings. He’s not a bad artist, but just not a superb one when it comes to sequential art. Reading Chronicles made me realise that not every great artist can necessarily translate their talent to storytelling on the printed page. Every eager fanboy clutching pages of superheroes posing who face disinterest at conventions know this.
Chronicles has some good art in on its pages, but most of it is lacking. There’s no real texture and the majority of its pages are filled with blank space. Tannenbaum shows promise though and with further work he could really develop his pencilling abilities. His book has been praised by several reviewers, but few mention the minimalist art, as it is the story itself saves this book. There are two short stories, both of which concern robots. Such things as sub-plots and even character’s names aren’t really vital, but I must admit that the simple tales are rather enchanting. The first one is set in a war torn nation, where 3 robots discover friendship, spare parts and a desire to overcome their destructive programming. The second story, entitled , Why Doesn’t My Robot Love Me? involves the endearing love between a robot and a snowman (or woman). It’s well told, and charming really, and Tennenbaum’s one page explanation of his motivations behind the story will find sympathy in anyone who’s loved, or lost. I look forward to more that Tennenbaum offers in the future, as Chronicles is a sweet, easy to read book, but hopefully he puts as much effort in his visuals as he does with his writing.
The curious can read the whole first chapter of Chronicles, here.
Just in case you haven’t heard, DC’s new venture is entitled Wednesday Comics (as new comics come out every Wednesday in the U.S). The concept was launched from the brain of artist and Art Director Mark Chiarello. Every weekly issue is only 16 pages, but will be filled with superb art from some great storytellers, and it will be big art too. Bigger then the average comic size, it will be like a large tabloid, newspaper supplement. It’s a bold direction but it should pay off. There are some great artists in the industry that will take gleeful advantage of this. Below is a preview of John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo’s Superman story and a Batman tale from the 100 Bullets team of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. Also included in the upcoming 12 part series will be a Metamorpho tale by Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred, Supergirl by Kimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner and Joe Kubert on Sgt. Rock. Creators such as Kurt Busiek, Dave Bullock, Walt Simonson, Ryan Sook, Dave Gibbons and Paul Pope are also involved. Look for the first oversized issue in July. Awesome news.
We haven’t seen any Marvel teaser images for a while, so here’s a couple for you. Following the success of World War Hulk and Planet Hulk, Bruce Banner’s boy is all grown up and looking to follow in the footsteps of his father by wreaking havoc. The Planet Skaar Prologue hits shelves on May 15 and is written by Greg Pak with art by Dan Panosian. The other image is related to a mysterious new storyline running through upcoming issues of Amazing Spider-Man, beginning in May 27′s #595. It’s written by Joe Kelly and pencilled by Phil Jiminez. Part 2 in ASM #596 is drawn by Paulo Siquera, while ASM #597′s Part 3′s art chores are handled by Marco Chechetto. Using my deductive reasoning, it appears that this story arc will focus on the original Green Gobiln, Norman Osborn in his new power play, post-Secret Invasion. Apparently he gets a new costume and starts to look more like a superhero. It’s about time he got rid of the Star Spangled Iron Man outfit.
I published my review of the latest League adventure from masters Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill in the 2nd ish of Extra Sequential, but seeing as the book is coming out this month, I thought I’d run it here too, for those who haven’t read it. Obviously Moore and the League have a lot of fans, but Century may not live up to their expectations. Read on…
This third volume of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen opens at the bedside of a sweating man with feverish dreams involving a young lady swimming naked and cloaked cult members’ ambitions to create a Moonchild, whatever that may be. As the man, Tom Carnacki, the ghost finder wakes he speaks of his night-time adventures to his fellow team-mates, Orlando, A.J, Mina Murray and Allan Quartermain. Thus we are introduced to the latest batch of “gentlemen.” This has been an extraordinary series from the outset. Well, mostly. Writer Alan Moore (Watchmen, From Hell) and artist Kevin O’Neill unleashed their concept of famed adventurers from the annals of literature upon the world in 1999. Mina Harker, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula was tasked by British Intelligence to form a team and gathered Allan Quartermain, Dr. Jekyll, Captain Nemo and others along the way to saving London. The second volume was a great tie-in to H.G Wells’ War of the Worlds while the third was a stand-alone graphic novel entitled The Black Dossier. Dossier was not the high point that the first two series were, mainly due to its varied narrative and frequent use of Moore extras such as prose pieces, letters, maps and the like. The greatest asset throughout the series has been the constant relationship of Harker and Quartermain in the different time periods. Dossier was light on that but did fill in some details about other incarnations of the League, reminding comic readers again that Moore is no slouch when it comes to research.
Not nearly as accessible as the first two volumes, Century is the first to be published by Top Shelf, instead of DC Comics. This is the first in a trilogy of 80 page one-shots, with this introduction set in 1910. The next one will delve into the swinging 60s, with the finale set in the present day. That prospect intrigues me. However, this isn’t the Leagues’ greatest outing, though I am curious to see where it goes. O’Neill’s harsh lines are perfect to Moore’s creation, with it’s dark humour, nudity and brutal violence and he makes the most with the dirty world they inhabit. League has always been unashamedly gritty and multi-layered, like most of Moore’s work, but League has always been, not surprisingly, his most literary series. You either feel smarter for having read it, or dumber for not grasping the references to works of fiction scattered throughout each page. Student of literature will continue to have a field day with this series.
The problem with Century is that there is simply too much going on. I know doubting Moore’s genius is like slapping Shakespeare, but whereas the first two volumes were just manic fun with a boy’s own adventure feel stamped all over it, this feels unnecessarily complex. The number of characters is greater than a Cecil B. DeMille film and the League gets diluted because of it. Saying that, I’ll attempt to break down the plot as best I can. Here goes…
The woman from Tom’s dream, Jenny Diver walks past a popular reproduction of Captain Nemo’s impressive battle ship, Nautilus and discovers from Nemo’s old friend Ishmael that the Captain’s last wish was to give his recently changed beauty of a ship to his only child. The crew need a Captain, but the stubborn woman doesn’t want to be any such thing. She eventually changes her mind for some reason and goes on a mad rampage.
Tom, along with Mina, new League member Orlando (known as he-she, behind his/her back), thief A.J Raffles and Quartermain (who is introduced as his own to avoid suspicions of his newly gained immortality presumably) visit the Merlin Society. While the team wanders around a room full of occultists, A.J does some snooping around and the team discover Doomsday premonitions from magicians Simon Iff and Oliver Haddo. Tom eventually barges into the cult’s HQ and sees the events of his dream played out before him -almost. Amongst all this, there’s plenty of singing from various characters espousing exposition, claims that Orlando posed for the Mona Lisa, and wields the famed sword Excalibur, the return of a famed serial killer and a meeting with Andrew Norton a figurative prisoner of London. All of these characters and more are from old novels, though don’t ask me which ones, and they do serve a purpose in moving the story. However I think Moore needed to restrain himself. The majority of the scenes, and singing, just appear indulgent. This could have been a tale with fewer pages and it would have been a lot less shambolic. References to actual events of the time, such as King George V’s coronation, as well as the events of the brilliant previous series help give this perspective, but it’s not enough.
Fans of Watchmen will be familiar with typical Moore devices, particularly the panels that are filled with details that go over this uneducated fanboy’s head. After reading Century, I’m still a fan, but one of the earlier, and simpler tales. I don’t mean to say that I’m a fan of the much-diluted film version (which made Sean Connery retire from cinema) but Century has gone too far the other way. This is strictly for League lovers only. However, I am curious to see where the next two one-shots venture forth. League is far too grand an idea to let go just yet.
CWR is an on-line magazine all about comics. It’s text-focused, rather than littered with art, but the few topics they cover every issue offer something for everyone. The brand spanking new #31 features a great interview with the creators of Image’s intriguing Olympus series, a peek at Marvel’s mistreatment of female readers (and characters), an honest look at Y: The Last Man and much more. The writing quality is varied, but most of the team do a good job offering up concise and interesting views on comics and the world around them. There’s an even mix of articles for fanboys/girls and newbies too, and that’s always a good thing.
Writer/artist Ronnie del Carmen has had an impressive career, working on storyboards, designs and as a story consultant from Batman: The Animated Series to WALL-E and the upcoming Up, from Pixar. He’s also self-published a few comics focused on his dream walking character Nina. His latest comic is a 64 pager from AdHouse Books entitled, And There You Are is an engrossing peek at his journals and sketchbooks, all lovingly laid out before us. We featured the book in Extra Sequential #2, and I’ve just reviewed the whole thing over at Broken Frontier. Here’s a peek at what I said….
“Words are few and far between, and I think that’s a wise choice on the artist’s part. Del Carmen chooses to step aside and let his art speak for itself. Occasionally he’ll mention where this pencil sketch, or that water colour piece was done, such as the beach or a café, but there’s a genuine sense that we’re given a glance at his thoughts anyway, simply by seeing his vast array of art displayed before our appreciative eyes. Sketchbooks have a real wrinkled texture about them, complete with hand written notes and curled edges. I studied art a few years ago and it makes me long for those days where a blank piece of paper meant one thing – potential.”
If you like dreamy, inspirational art, pick it up. Read the rest of the review right here.
Now, this is a good idea. The name pretty much tells you everything you need to know, but read below for more info, especially if you like laughing, comics and Battlestar Galactica.
Comics on Comics takes on Battlestar Galactica this Wednesday, April 15 at The Comic Bug!
Host Juan-Manuel Rocha welcomes one of the stars of both Battlestar Galactica TV series, Richard Hatch (Apollo, Tom Zarek) as well as Michael Taylor (co-executive producer of Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Mike Wellman, (Tokyopop’s Battlestar Galactica: Echoes of New Caprica) along with comedians Asterios Kokkinos (Cracked Magazine, NPR’s Marketplace) and Robb Fulcher for an intergalactic night of comics and comedy! The taping begins at 8pm and admission is FREE! Be sure to show up early to grab a good seat!
Additionally, Richard Hatch and Mike Wellman along with artist Anthony Wu (Image’s Popgun anthology) will be signing copies of Tokyopop’s Battlestar Galactica: Echos of New Caprica from 6pm to 8pm!
You can RSVP for this event on facebook, or you can find us online at ComicsOnComics.com The Comic Bug is located at 1807 1/2 Manhattan Beach Blvd in Manhattan Beach, CA. For general inquiries, please email email@example.com.
About Comics on Comics: Comics on Comics is a WebTV series where “The Greatest Comic Minds Meet The Greatest Minds In Comics.” The show, which gathers three professional comedians and one comic book creator for a round-table discussion of the latest comic book news, is hosted by Juan-Manuel Rocha and is taped in front of a live audience.
Available now is the double feature DVD tying in to Watchmen, and is a must for fans of the film or ground breaking comic series.
As Watchmen readers know, the pirate adventure Tales of the Black Freighter, was a comic within the comic. As an eager kid read it at a newsstand, sometimes the panels would spill over into the narrative of the Watchmen tale. Originally, film director Zack Snyder wanted to film Black Freighter in a manner similar to how he approached 300, but due to budgetary and time constraints, chose to make it a stand-alone animated feature instead. And it was a good choice as Black Freighter is a lush, engrossing story. Written by Snyder with Alex Tse, and directed by Daniel Delpurgatorio and Mike Smith, this 25 minute short film mirrors its printed inspiration beautifully. 300′s Gerard Butler is the primary voice, narrating the descending horrors faced by his sole survivor of an attack by the titular ship of ghouls. Washing ashore, he uses the bloated carcasses of his dead crew as a makeshift raft, fighting sharks and his own descent into darkness, to Davidstown. It is here that his wife and daughters live, and it is also the Freighter’s next target. At least that’s what the captain believes.
The mini-comic inside Watchmen gave me just as many memorable moments as Watchmen did, and it’s satisfying to see them on the screen. It’s filled with simple, yet bold colour choices and gross visuals such as seagulls eating brains and plucking eyeballs. Thus the R rating is understandable, compared to the PG of Under The Hood. The animation is superb and fluid and though not a lot happens, it’s still highly entertaining. You don’t have to look too far to see the allusions to Watchmen’s thematic explorations. Though at first a dark pirate tale may seem an odd companion to a superhero deconstruction, it does sit proudly on the same shelf, just like the other film included on the DVD.
The live action Under The Hood is an imagined documentary about the life of Hollis Mason, who was the original costumed adventurer Nite Owl in the 1940′s world of the Watchmen. Played by Stephen McHattie, as he did in the film, it also includes interviews with Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre, her agent and former husband, as well as bad guys (also seen in the film) Moloch, and the imprisoned midget Big Figure. Set in 1985 TV host Larry Culpeper (played by Ted Friend) introduces us to his 1975 report on Mason in an episode of the Culpeper Minute. He and Mason talk about Mason’s career as a baddie-basher, first as a cop, and then as Nite Owl, in the Gunga Diner. Dialogue from Alan Moore’s Under The Hood excerpt is used, and it brings a geeky smile to my face as Mason explains how he constructed his costume, his motivations for being a superhero (“because it was fun, and the right thing to do.”), how he was inspired by the mysterious debut of the first costumed do-gooder, Hooded Justice, and the assembling of the Minutemen (whose members are seen in authentic looking news footage).
Tying into DC Comics’ rich history, Mason mentions also being wowed by Superman’s first appearance in 1938 in Action Comics #1, and the Golden Age Green Lantern and Blue Beetle are also shown on comic covers.
The archival footage of WWII is used well, but we are only jarred out of the realism when obviously Photoshopped pics of the young Mason are revealed. The whole Hood doco really is well done though. The interviews look like they’ve been lifted directly from 1975, with their slightly grainy and faded look, without being distracting, and the 1985 ads for products such as Veidt’s Nostalgia fragrance, and Seiko’s cutting-edge LCD watches, just add that extra realism.
The actors are vital to these kinds of endeavours. All the cast sell the premise well. Sometimes these kinds of fake docos can be very unconvincing, but writer Hans Rodionoff, director Eric Matthies and the actors pull it off ably.
The extra features are a nice touch too. Usually on straight to DVD experiences like this, the bonuses are usually just an afterthought from the marketing department. However, with Under The Hood, Black Freighter plus the extras the running time for the whole shebang comes in at a rather impressive 2 hours.
Story Within A Story – The Books Of Watchmen is essentially a combination of behind the scenes footage of Watchmen and Tales of the Black Freighter. There are interviews with cast members (Stephen McHattie, Carla Gugino, Jeffrey Dean Morgan), DC creators of the original maxi-series (Jenette Kahn, Len Wein, artist Dave Gibbons and colourist John Higgins) and the director of Under The Hood, Eric Matthies. It’s not exactly a riveting 25 minutes, but is necessary viewing for those unaware of the importance of Alan Moore’s original extras, such as newspaper cutouts and prose pieces as well as the Black Freighter pirate comic that runs within, and alongside the Watchmen story. And if you feel like getting intellectual, influences of Black Freighter, such as German playwright Bertolt Brecht, are mentioned by a few of the interviewees.
Curiously, it also includes a behind the scenes look at the original Nite Owl, Hollis Mason attacking a punk in his home. I assume this will be on the Director’s Cut of the film. Speaking of which, it’ll be interesting to see how director Zack Snyder manages to squeeze the Black Freighter into the film itself when the Director’s Cut DVD is released in July.
The other substantial extra is Chapter One of the Watchmen Motion Comic, which also runs at 25 minutes. I’ve seen so-called animated comics before, and the concept has been around for a long time, but this is far and above the best approach I’ve ever seen. The original Watchmen comic really does come alive, but I’ll say more once I check out the whole 2 discer Motion Comic soon.
The final inclusion amongst the special features is the first look at Green Lantern: First Flight, the next animated DVD release from Warner Bros./DC. It’s being released in July and it looks fantastic, and is a nice present for Hal Jordan, seeing as it’s the 50th anniversary of his creation this year.
Over at the always awesome Project Rooftop site (where artists submit their ideas for superhero re-designs) the winners of the latest Batman competition are up. Below are my faves (the first one being the Grand Prize Winner). You can check out the rest of the runners up and honourable mentions at Project Rooftop.
I always admire those who risk their resources by doing something truly creative. It’s even more important in these days of Diamond’s recent changes that make it harder for the ‘little guys’ in the comic book biz to get their work noticed and appreciated by a worldwide audience. So, firstly my hat is off to Gibson and Danks, and the multitude of self-publishers like them. However, apart from all that Harker is genuinely entertaining, and it’s obvious that it’s a labour of love. From writer Roger Gibson’s nice introductions in each issue, that offer an honest peek into the process of creating a comic, to artist Vince Danks’ efforts on the art, which must be time consuming, it all makes this a pleasant change for those raised on a steady diet of spandex soap operas.
Carrying on from the debut issue, Harker #2 continues the look at the British detectives Harker and Critchley (the bald one) as they investigate a gruesome murder on the steps of a church. Last issue left us with a hint that the murder was tied into occult practices, and with this issue we delve deeper into that world. With the discovery of book remnants under the fingernails of the corpse, the two lads search a number of shops for a book entitled The Key of Solomon, but to no avail, until they meet a somewhat shifty man in an occult bookshop, who appears to be hiding something. Then it’s off to the coroner who gives the pair the identity of the murder victim, and the hunt continues.
Montages can sometimes be tricky to pull off in sequential art, but Gibson and Danks do it beautifully here. Harker and Critchley’s book hunting at the beginning of the issue, and their questioning of associates of the deceased towards the end, are both handled well. That may seem like an odd thing to praise, but in a black and white comic, it can sometimes be hard to identify faces and locales. Danks’ photorealistic approach to the art manages to avoid this pitfall though. There’s no confusion as to who is who and exactly what’s happening. With a style similar to that of Dave Sim’s current work on Glamourpuss, it’s simple, but not simplistic.
I couldn’t help but notice the incorrect spelling of “presumably,” but that’s a very minor misstep. The other one would be the differences between the two main characters. Hopefully as the series progresses, they will start to sound less alike. Harker appears to be the more level headed, logical one, while Critchley calls his partner, “guv,’ but other than that the differences are subtle. However, all their dialogue is natural and never awkward, and considering there’s no action in this issue, merely talking heads, that’s vital. Danks does well to make each page look interesting, with suitable detail of interior and exterior locales, instead of a steady stream of close-ups of whoever’s talking. Gibson and Danks are a superb team of creators. The dialogue just rings true in your head. It’s not ‘comic book dialogue,’ but rather it’s filled with the cadence and flow of something more realistic. The TV series comparison is the most obvious one to make, and Harker could easily fit into a late night slot in that format. This is another solid entry in this series and is definitely worth picking up. Gibson and Danks can be proud of what they’ve achieved.
You can order Harker from your local comic shop, or from Ariel Press. If you’re looking for something that stands out from your pile of funnybooks, I’d recommend you do.
And you can read my interview with Gibson and Danks in the latest issue of Extra Sequential here, starting from page 32.
It’s been ages since I’ve been excited about a game, but I’ve been following this one ever since it was announced. I picked up the first ish last week of the Wildstorm comic and it wasn’t too bad. Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti and with gruesome, bloody art by Darick Robertson and Matt Jacobs, it serves as a backdrop to the game, going from the Vietnam War to today’s Manhattan. The violent trailer for the game, which is released in June by Radical Entertainment, is below.