Archive for August, 2011

And so it begins…

This week, I found myself surprisingly excited for Justice League #1 … and that’s kind of weird.  If you read my teary-eyed, rage-filled rant over the New 52 when it was announced a couple of months ago, then you know I was heartbroken and angry.  DCnu?  What?  I didn’t want new.  I wanted the old stuff—the good stuff.  The stuff that got me into this publisher in the first place.  My Wonder Woman and my Catwoman, my Birds and my Bats.  Except that DC claimed that the old stuff was NOT good stuff anymore (despite all their earlier statements otherwise), and they now needed something new and fresh.  You, dear comics fans—you, who have loyally and perhaps misguidedly been there from the very beginning, were being told it was time to let go … again.  The search for “new readership” deems that we also become readers of the new.

So I ranted and raved and pissed and moaned, and got myself all worked up over this like the fangirl that I am, because hey—I care about these characters.  And frankly, it didn’t feel like DC cared as much as I do.

But that’s kind of silly, right?  Of course they care.  It might not feel that way on occasion—when you are reading about gimmick after gimmick, event book after event book, tie-in after pointless tie-in, you kind of start to question the ideologies behind these companies, don’t you?  Are they doing these things because they genuinely think it makes for a better story, or is it solely about being a big business—a bit of a heartless machine?  Well, it’s a combination of both, and that can sometimes cause the line to blur.  But at the end of the day, the people behind the scenes live and breathe comics the same way that we do, and I am trying hard to give them the benefit of the doubt.  They seem pretty excited about it.

So I want to be excited for this, too.  I want it to work.  I want it to be good, and FUN.

Some of you—many of you—hopefully attended the midnight release of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1.  I won’t be getting my copies until late tonight, so it’ll be a few hours yet before I can form some thoughts on the debut of this initiative, but the excitement is there.  It’s hard not to be after getting texted at quarter to 8:00 this morning with a lovely spoiler from my friend Phil (thanks a lot).

(Skip over these images if you don’t want to be spoiler’d.  Really.)

<Update: Deleted!  He’s had enough embarrassment.>

I’m the one in the green, obviously.  Please ignore my friend’s deplorable use of grammar and punctuation.

So, yeah.  It’s 2:30, which means I have another four and a half hours or so before I can get to the comic shop.  I’m excited and I’m giving this a chance.  I hope it doesn’t let me down.

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Reviews: Cloak and Dagger #1, Batgirl #24

Cloak and Dagger #1Cloak and Dagger #1
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Emma Rios
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Oh, what a pleasant surprise.  I have to be honest, I kind of just picked this up on a whim.  I’ve always had a passing interest in Cloak and Dagger—while I’ve never actively sought them out, I always appreciated them when they made appearances in various titles I’d be reading.  Hearing about this miniseries, I was a little turned off at first by the idea that it’s a tie-in to the “Spider Island” event.  Oh, another event?  Another tie-in?  I was ready to pass on this.  I was gonna pass on it so hard, its face was gonna hurt.

Well, something obviously changed my tune.  I’m not sure if it was the preview art, the fact that there was a female creator on the book, or just the overall badassery of Cloak and Dagger that convinced me to give it a try, but I’m glad I did.  This was enjoyable.

While this story does function as a tie-in to Spider Island, I’d argue that it’s a pretty loose one. I’m not reading Spider Island at all, but I could get into the setting for the story quite easily from the recap page, and then it’s all more or less relegated to the background from there. This is not so much about Cloak and Dagger reacting to Spider Island as it is just about Cloak and Dagger themselves, their relationship, and what makes them tick in the midst of all the action.  These are the types of stories I always want to read, and Nick Spencer, despite being quite a busy man these days, appears to deliver.  Here, we learn that the duo is being evicted from their makeshift home inside a church.  Cloak takes matters into his own hands and arranges a “Heroes for Hire” type of setup for the pair, of which Dagger is critical.  What makes the events and discussions in this issue so interesting, though, is how it’s all laid out for us by Emma Rios.  The artwork most certainly amplifies the dialogue coming out of the characters’ mouths, particularly during one double-page spread that’s done just achingly well.  Rios plays with Cloak and Dagger’s dark and light, yin and yang, form and function aspects of their personalities, and it accompanies the script in a way that’s complementary, not overbearing.

If I have any reservations regarding the script, I’m worried Nick Spencer will just beat us over the head with this yin yang analogy for the rest of the mini, but I’m hoping that isn’t the case.  I feel like he’s a talented enough guy not to go that route, and I think the remaining issues should be equally good if not better.  Oh, one weird thing—there’s a part where the Avengers show up, and Wolverine has some pretty skeevy dialogue when talking to Dagger.  I don’t really get it.  It seemed noticeably off to me.   Meh—if that’s the worst thing, I’ll take it.  I’m actually kind of anxious to learn what happens, especially when you consider who the villain of this is—which I’ll let you find out for yourselves.

If you’ve got some room in your pull list to play around, check out Cloak and Dagger.

 

Batgirl #24Batgirl #24
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Illustrated by Pere Perez
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Well … that was fun while it lasted.  I guess this isn’t a review of this issue alone so much as of the series overall, as Bryan Q. Miller wraps up two years writing what has been a truly wonderful book. I’ve voiced my devout love of this series before on this blog, so it’s probably unsurprising that I was nearly in tears reading the final issue of something I have cherished for the last 24 months.  That’s how good this title has been, that I can get this emotional over its ending. Although I’m looking forward to reading the “New 52” Barbara GordonBatgirl under Gail Simone, I can’t help but feel major heartbreak over losing a character I never expected to love this much—Stephanie Brown.

Bryan Q. Miller does a great job in concluding the series with this issue.  Readers from the last issue will recall the unexpected appearance of Stephanie Brown’s father, Cluemaster—the catalyst that set Stephanie off parading as a vigilante in the first place during her Spoiler days. This is Steph’s first meeting with her dad since she was “killed,” and it’s a dramatic one.  I only wish Miller had more time and more issues to write and develop this encounter (his plans were cut short via the reboot mandate; read the interview here).  As it is, he uses this opportunity to bring Steph on a “what if” style adventure—what could have been for her, what she dreams of her legacy as part of the Bat family, what could await her in the future, etc.  I’ll leave it to you to discover the plot device Miller uses to bring all this about; it’s something I haven’t seen in a while, so there’s a bit of nostalgia there, and I really enjoyed it.  The artwork by Pere Perez does a lovely job of conveying the ideas present, and Dustin Nguyen’s cover is beautiful and perfect—as his stuff always is.  Man … this is depressing. I’m going to miss this book so hard.

If you’ve never read this title, you’ve really missed out on something special.  Fans who once clamored for Cassandra Cain are now clamoring for Cass AND Steph, and hey—how awesome would a TEAM BATGIRL book be?!  We struck gold with this incarnation of Batgirl, and all I can do is wait patiently for Steph’s triumphant return.  Her happy-go-lucky, never-say-die attitude means she’s bound to come back eventually.  Right?

Batgirl #24 Final Scene


Reviews: Mystic #1, Rachel Rising #1

So I’m starting to watch the new X-Men anime series that came out recently.  The opening scene in the first episode revolves around Cyclops screaming “Jeeeaaaaaannnnnnnn!” several times.  Priceless.  Also, Phoenix is in it, and each one of her individual um … “assets” … is larger than her head.  By like, miles.  More gruesome details to potentially follow if I ever get through more episodes.

 

Mystic #1Mystic #1
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Illustrated by David Lopez
Cover by Amanda Conner
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

YEAH!  THIS!  VERY THIS!  This is what I wanted from this book!  Amazing.  So, I never read any of the original Crossgen titles back when they were around.  I checked out Marvel’s versions of Ruse and Sigil recently, so I thought—okay.  Mystic.  Let’s do this.  G. Willow Wilson and David Lopez as a team has to be good, right?  I’m ashamed to say I have not read Wilson’s Air, nor her Cairo, but I’ve heard great things and they’re definitely in the “to be read” pile.  I also loved Lopez on Hawkeye & Mockingbird, and seeing some of his preview pages for this instantly guaranteed I’d check it out.  While I can’t comment on this book in relation to its previous incarnation, I can only address what I’ve read here.  And what I read here is wonderful.

The story focuses on two orphans, Giselle and Genevieve, trapped in a boarding house and working to pay off the “debt” they’ve incurred to their headmistress for feeding them (slop), clothing them (rags), etc.  Set in a steampunk world called Hyperion and rendered beautifully by Lopez, Genevieve aspires to learn all she can about the “noble arts” and to become a mystic apprentice.  Giselle, the more realistic and/or pessimistic of the two, has pretty much resigned herself to the idea of life in the boarding house despite its misery.  The girls are eventually caught sneaking into an off-limits area of the house, and they subsequently manage to flee, climbing over and past the fence that cages them in.  What happens next is the best part of the story, so I won’t spoil it for you.

Some of the unfortunate clichés we begin with here—the boarding house as a prison; the seemingly evil and mean headmistress; etc.—are pretty much the only strikes I have against this story.  Even then, I feel like much of that can be blamed on the fact that this is only a miniseries—you really can’t take up much time building an elaborate setup—and I’d wager that Wilson had to make this concession for the sake of fitting more pertinent things into the next three issues.  I’ll give her that leeway under the assumption that the rest of the story will pick up the slack, and frankly, even a cliché-laden start is better than most original starts on other minis.  I need only point to the Wolverine and the Black Cat for evidence there.

As a whole, I loved this first issue.  Who’s the colorist on this—Nathan Fairbairn?  I’m unfamiliar with him, but he deserves a major nod—the colors on this book are FANTASTIC.  Wow—just excellent stuff.  Really gives life to Lopez’s pencils.  It kind of reminds me of something out of a Disney movie—it feels like these characters can just leap off the page any minute and start singing a musical number about their hardships.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a plus for me.  Bring on issue #2.

 

Rachel Rising PromoRachel Rising #1
Created by Terry Moore
Publisher:  Abstract Studios
Price:  $3.99

 

I’m in love with Terry Moore.  Desperately in love (don’t tell the Boyfriend).

Terry Moore is my hero, he really is.  I had the incredible pleasure of meeting him at Boston Comic Con this year, and he was just such a stand up guy, you know?  Unfailingly nice and I totally wanted to be a spaz and just hang around his table all day.  But, I’m guessing that would have freaked him out and I really didn’t need a repeat of what happened with Frank Quitely.  The point is, Terry Moore is completely amazing, and I will buy anything with his name on it.  I would buy a home prostate exam if it said “created by Terry Moore” on the box.

So when I heard about Rachel Rising coming out, I was aaaaalllllllllll over this like white on rice.  I’ve only ever read Mr. Moore’s  works in collected formats—Strangers in Paradise is one of my favorite series of all time, and I’m anxious to pick up the complete edition of Echo that was just released.  With Rachel Rising, though, I thought I’d try another way of reading Terry Moore by picking up each individual issue as it’s released … and so far, it’s a vastly different experience.

This title begins hauntingly, as it opens with the main character literally digging her way out of her own grave.  It’s apparent to the reader right off the bat that something is terribly wrong with her—I mean, in addition to the fact that she’s seemingly come back to life from what we presume to be her murder.  Rachel is disoriented in making her way back from her grave to her home.  She has no memory of what’s occurred, nor does she seem to notice at first the strangulation marks on her neck or the spooky manner in which her eyes change color.  Her house cat, for one, doesn’t want to go near her—that alone should be a pretty big tipoff.  Moore breaks the issue into scene parts and we learn just a little bit about her past life, but end with an alarming statement from another character—a statement on which I gather the rest of the series will decidedly rest.

The artwork, as always, is fantastic.  I love that Mr. Moore does not color his work—it functions especially well on a book like this—and his lines, transitions, and panel work is crisp as it ever is.  The only downside I can find to his art, if there is one at all, would be that the main characters from his books tend to look very similar.  Rachel looks a lot like Katchoo from SiP, who also looks a lot like the girl from Echo.  But honestly—if that’s the worst thing about this, I’ll happily take it.  And with a guy as talented as Moore, I have to believe the similarities are intentional.  If I have any real complaints here, it’s just the fact that I’m not getting enough story.  I desperately want more.  I want the next issue right now, and I want to know what went down that got Rachel to that grave.  While I don’t typically go for horror as a genre (Walking Dead aside), I don’t mind it if it has a purpose, and if the storytelling is good, then I’m there.  There’s no question I’m on this ride ‘til the end.

Mr. Moore had this to say about the series on his blog:

Can Rachel rise above the glass ceiling of indy books and break into the Top 100?  That would be a first for me.  Eighteen years of books, and I’ve never been in the Top 100.  Ultimately, I don’t decide that… you do.  I know the comics industry is particularly preoccupied right now, but I’m going to do everything I can to make Rachel impossible to ignore.  Anything you can do to help her find recognition in our hero-centric comics world would be great, because everything you post gets reposted by a dozen other people and so on and when a lot of people talk about something, things happen.

So, what do you think?  Will you support Rachel Rising?  Will you forego at least some of the anticipated garbage you know will come out of “the New 52” and “Fear Itself” in order to support an independent like this?  Give it a shot.  Rachel—and Terry Moore—are worth it.


Pants: Never a Good Decision

…at least where Wonder Woman is concerned.

Why hello there, comic shop peeps!  If you’ve been trying to reach me via e-mail and I haven’t replied, please know that I’m not intentionally ignoring you (unless your name is Dario*)—rather, my e-mail has not been working lately.  And by “not working,” I mean “forgot my password.”  Don’t ask me how I managed to do that, but I did, and thus haven’t been able to log in for about three weeks or more now.  EDIT:  fixed!

I am staggeringly behind on my comics reading and haven’t picked up any new stuff in two weeks, so I ask your forgiveness for the lack of reviews.  In the meantime, some notes/commentary:

  • As the final cover and variant cover for Justice League #1 come out, the great pants/no pants debate rages on, and it’s absurdly amusing if not very depressing.  For the record?  I’m pretty thrilled to see the pants gone (although that David Finch cover makes me want to cry).  DCWKA has a pretty great post that rather nicely sums up most of my own feelings on the topic of female character uniforms.
  • Oh.  I finally saw the nixed David E. Kelley Wonder Woman pilot.  To say that it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever watched would be paying it a compliment.  Thank goodness this thing didn’t get picked up.  As I sat there twitching and staring at the television in disbelief, Boyfriend fearfully turned to me at one point and said, “I can actually feel the rage coming off of you right now.”
  • Because I am completely obsessed with comics to the point I spend my … um … “lunch break” (heh heh) reading about comics news on the internet, I just saw that The Source has a first look at Henry Cavill as Superman in the upcoming new movie.  It looks very good, wouldn’t you agree?  And as the article mentions, Laurence Fishburne now has the role of Perry White.  Are we following in the footsteps of a Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury?  Not a bad decision, if you ask me.
    Rachel Rising #1
  • Another thing that’s not a bad decision is Marvel’s reveal of who the new Ultimate Spider-Man is.  SPOILERS here and here.  The character’s debut issue hit the stands on Wednesday in Ultimate Fallout #4, so snag a copy while you can.
  • The first issue of Terry Moore’s new book, Rachel Rising, also came out this week.  Is anyone checking this out?  Because you should.  Terry Moore is legit amazing—I would hate for his awesomeness to be eclipsed by the latest Marvel and DC hype.  Really looking forward to getting my hands on this.
  • Speaking of amazing—oh my goodness, Craig Thompson.  I love him.  His new book, Habibi, is coming out in just a few short weeks, and the previews I’ve seen are unbelievably gorgeous.  It makes me feel better to know I’ll have something to look forward to in September when the “New 52” inevitably lets me down.  Also, Mr. Thompson is doing a signing at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square the day after the book comes out, so if you’re in the area, let me know because I will most certainly be there.  PSYCHED, PSYCHED, PSYCHED!
  • Saw Captain America the other week.  It was awesome.  Avengers trailer after the credits brought out my squealing fangirl.  ‘Nuff said.

Okay, that’s all I got!  It’s gonna be a three-day weekend for me, so I’ll catch you punks later!  Happy comic reading!

*Just kidding, Dario, you know I love you!