Archive for January, 2012

Review: X-Men Legacy #260.1

Hi, gang!  Surely you must have known when I promised a new post in “a couple of days,” that it meant over a week, right?  Of course you did!  Sorry, Sleepers.  I have been decidedly rubbish in several different ways this week.  I don’t just fall or trip up, but rather take spectacular dives off long cliffs.

The pile of catch-up reading continues to grow ever more, and I am slowly working on a couple of different pieces for your reading pleasure.  In between, there’s been much news about various things, some of it just god-awful, and some of it bad to the point of hilarity, and some of it outright awesome.  Great stuff to write about; even better stuff to use as fodder for chats at the comic shop.

Here’s a review.

 

X-Men Legacy #260.1X-Men Legacy #260.1
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by David Baldeon, Jordan Tarragona
Cover by Mark Brooks
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

I’ve been dreading the coming of this issue for a while, as it marks the end of what was a remarkable and celebrated run by Mike Carey on this book.  I’ve expressed my love for Mr. Carey on several occasions here, and when his departure from this book was announced, my reaction was flat-out depression.  I also may or may not have acted like a child who lost her favorite toy (“But WHY?!  Why does this have to happen?!  Goodbye, favorite title!  I hate comics!”); waah, waah, waaaah, and so forth.

I know, I’m really building up my credibility here, aren’t I?  Take the above with a grain of salt.  (Sort of.)

Tantrum aside, when I learned that Christos Gage would be taking the reins of X-Men Legacy, I was actually quite … relieved.  Some of you may know Christos as a friend of the store and a Worcester native, but more importantly, he’s a very talented writer.  Christos is putting out some great work on Avengers Academy and Angel & Faith right now, but the only work of his I’ve read has been miscellaneous issues of Avengers Academy and a quick guest-stint he did on Amazing Spider-Man last year (which I loved).  I’ve since gone back to pick up the first AA trade, but the catch up process, as you know, can take a while for me.  Ultimately, the feelings of trepidation subsided and I started to look forward to Christos’ debut issue.

I’m happy to say I wasn’t let down.

Writing a team book, let alone an X-Men book, can be quite challenging, but Christos Gage makes it look easy.  He does very well in splitting panel time between team members and students, and does so in a manner that helps make the story flow as oppose to hinder it via too many scene transitions.

If you’ve ever attempted to learn how to drive a car that has a manual gearbox, you know that one of the harder things to get down is just getting the car moving out of first gear and shifting smoothly into second.  The first few tries, you’re likely to clunk around, stall it once or twice, and find your head bobbing against the headrest with every release of the clutch.  Reading a team book where a writer doesn’t transition well can be a similar experience–the story is thumpy, you’re starting and stopping, and the result is little to no flow.  But with this issue of X-Men Legacy, I’d read through to the final page without even realizing I’d taken in so much story so quickly.  Because it just kept going … until it didn’t.  And I like that.

One of the big things about Mike Carey’s run that endeared me to him was his development of Rogue as a character.  Anyone who has been following along knows that she has grown by leaps and bounds as a result of her role in Legacy, and a factor I feared the most in Carey’s departure was the idea of Rogue being relegated to the background once more.  Goodbye, leadership role.  Goodbye, panel time.  Goodbye, power control.  These were things I had waited decades as a reader to see for Rogue, and the potential threat of regression terrified me.

Happily—as in, GOOD GOD WHAT A RELIEF—this doesn’t seem to be the case.  At least, not yet.  What’s awesome here is that if no one told me that the writer had been replaced, in my glee reading this, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.  The changeover is relatively seamless; Gage plays off of Carey’s groundwork while shifting Rogue’s team to its new status at the Jean Grey School.  It’s great to watch this group interacting with the X-kids again, and Gage wraps it all up with a fun little surprise at the end of the issue—a surprise you could likely see coming, but still great to read nonetheless.

Before reading this issue, I checked out a couple of reviews online and was surprised to find a mixed, below-average reaction.  Among the chief complaints are the artwork, which I have to agree with—while not outright bad in skill, it’s a little too … “cartoony” and … well, straight-up ugly for my taste.  I miss Clay Mann on this title and am hoping the current artist isn’t on for the long haul.  An X-Men book like this should only be saddled with a steady, consistent artist, and I’m learning that very little of that exists at Marvel (I’m looking at you, Captain America/Wolverine & X-Men/X-23/Secret Avengers/Thor/you-name-it).

Aside from butt ugly art, I’m also hearing that Rogue’s casual borrowing of other’s powers in this issue is uncharacteristic of her.  I have to argue otherwise, as Mike Carey spent a long time crafting the idea of her becoming comfortable with the use of her powers, and I’m loving the more free-spirited vibe Christos gives her here.  Especially in the context of the training scene, where she’s preparing the students for an element of surprise, I don’t see it as disrespectful but rather fairly inventive.  Just my take.

That said, this is probably one of the longer reviews I’ve done in a while about a comic I’m pleased with, so that should tell you something about my confidence in this title moving forward.  I’m psyched to have Christos on board, and happily, still looking forward to X-Men Legacy.

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Call it a Snow Delay

Just a post to say I’ll be late posting this week. Check back in a couple of days if you’re so inclined and I’ll have something for you. Maybe some intermittent tweeting between now and then (gotta get the hang of this) on @coverstosleep.

Have a great weekend,

xx R


Review: Princeless #3

Princeless #3

Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher:  Action Lab Entertainment
Price:  $3.99

 

To review a comic book you love can be extremely difficult.  I’ve said it before, but it’s maybe never been more true than it is here.  With each issue of Princeless so far, Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin have had a pretty effortless go at capturing my heart, and issue three is no exception.  If anything, they’ve only further tightened their grasp on me here, and talking about a book that I am so blindly in love with might be … well, kind of boring for you.  So my apologies ahead of time if that turns out to be the case.

There’s only so much I can say here that I haven’t already said for issues one and two.  Issue one took me so wholeheartedly by surprise that it was just like a punch in the face—a really, really GOOD punch.  The kind of punch I want more comics to give me.  Issue two, then, grabbed onto me tight and told me I’d better not think about going anywhere.  Issue three?  Swept me off my feet.

“Okay,” I hear you thinking.  “We get it.  You love the book.  WHY?”

And this is where I’m torn.  Because I don’t completely want to tell you why.

I could.  I could get all technical and analytical, and dig past the surface.  I’ve summarized the plot in previous reviews; I could use this to talk some more about the skill of the storytelling happening in this book—the message behind the tale, what audiences it plays to, what themes, and why.   I could discuss some of the more important things the book represents, such as independent publishing and why you should read more works by unknown creators.  But honestly?  I don’t want to do that.

Because this book doesn’t deserve to be dissected.

Princeless #3 Panel

One of many scenes that make Action Lab's "Princeless" worth the cover price. (Click to enlarge.)

Don’t read that the wrong way—it’s not meant negatively.  Rather, sometimes I wonder, can’t we just let the quality of things speak for themselves?  There are hundreds of other sites out there all talking about exactly the same thing as one another.  There are plenty of other blogs for you to read about all the things I just mentioned above.  I’m far from the only one “reviewing” this, and after a while, it all just starts to sound the same, doesn’t it?  This comic does a lot of things right, and you can discover on your own what those things are—because isn’t that all part of the fun?

So try Princeless for no reason other than it being a great comic.  Something new.  Surprise yourself.  Give it to the kids in your life.  Pass it on.  Don’t let a gem like this go unnoticed on the shelf because you’re too busy picking up “Fear Itself: The Fearlessly Fearful Feary Fear” that Marvel’s selling you for like five bucks a pop, that won’t satisfy you a sliver as much as a book like this will.

I mean.  At least try it.  What do you have to … Fear?

(Sorry.  Had to.)

 

___

*NOTE:  Some people have been having trouble finding this book at their LCS.  If that’s the case, you can buy it online at Graphicly; or, even better, make your voices heard at your LCS and get them to up their orders.  :)


A Terrible Oversight

It occurred to me the other day that when tallying my favorite webcomics of the year, I completely forgot about Hark! A Vagrant, and that’s just not right.  Sorry, The Trenches, but I’m bumping you out of the top five and down to “honorable mention” status.  Kate Beaton is brilliant, hilarious, and worth following.  Here’s just a very small sample:

Hark! A Vagrant


Mostly Here…

My, my.  2012 already?  I apologize for leaving you without updates for a couple of weeks, readers.  Hmm … can I call you “Sleepers” from now on?  I kind of like that….

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays.  The end-of-the-year bustle along with some computer issues have kept me away from the blog for a while, but I aim to change that soon.  I just need a working computer and … you know … to actually read some comics.  I had such lofty plans for my Christmas week off—“I’ll do nothing but read!” I said.  “I’ll read all of my backlog and be caught up!”

I’m sure you can guess how well that went.

I have a couple of posts I was working on pre-computer crash, which I’m hoping to recover.  So stick with me.

In the meantime, here’s a quick couple of lists I thought I would do because:  a.) everyone seems to be doing them; b.) I wanted to post something at least somewhat worthwhile; and c.) umm … I guess I don’t really have a point c., but odd numbers always sound better in the flow of a sentence like this.  :)  #grammarnazi

So here we go!  Some 2011 stuff.

 

Favorite Titles of 2011:

1.  Batgirl – The Bryan Q. Miller run, not the current incarnation.  I doubt I have to say much for this one—anyone who has been following my reviews will know my undying love for this title and the heartbreak I felt when it was canceled.  I hear BQM has a new project with DC that will hopefully be announced soon, so I’m keeping my ears to the ground.

Ultimate Spider-Man2.  Ultimate Spider-Man – Miles Morales quickly shot this book to the top of my reading list last year, and I can’t wait to see where the next year’s worth of issues takes him.

3.  Uncanny X-Force – Cannot gush over this book enough.  Cannot do it justice with words alone.

4.  Avengers: The Children’s Crusade – I almost feel guilty putting this on here considering its strange release schedule/lackthereof, but damn it, every time I pick up an issue it’s just GREAT.  It hasn’t let me down, and that consistent quality is sometimes hard to find in comics.  Regardless of lateness, this deserves a “best of” spot.

5.  Princeless – Ooooh … a challenger appears!  I didn’t expect this book to knock me out as quickly as it did, and again, I almost didn’t want to give it a place on this list since only three issues were published last year.  But you know what?  Screw that.  Three issues was all it took to hook me.  Three issues was all it took for me to think of this as an absolute favorite of the entire year.  That’s how much enjoyment I get from Princeless, and I’m happy to give it a nod each time it comes out.  Look for a review of issue three coming soon!

Honorable Mention:  The Walking Dead (read in trade); Fables (read in trade); Rachel Rising

 

Favorite Webcomics of 2011:

1.  Max Overacts – I’ve mentioned Max on the blog before and am completely addicted to this strip.

Lady Sabre2.  Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether – Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett’s new venture has taken off in its first year, and I’m loving every moment of it.  It’s nice to get in on the ground floor of something like this; if you haven’t already, you should definitely check it out.

3.  Gronk – A friend turned me onto this and it hooked me from the start.  It’s soft and it’s sweet and it’s funny and wonderful.

4.  The Abominable Charles Christopher – See number three.

5.  The Trenches – From the guys behind Penny Arcade.  Some geeky fun, and it’s accompanied with hilarious and horrifying narratives submitted by readers.

Honorable Mention:  Let’s Be Friends Again; The Adventures of Superhero Girl (I’m just getting into this one); How I Made the World

 

 

Comic-Related Nerdly Firsts of 2011:

1.  Convention Scene:  I attended both Boston Comic Con and PAX East for the first time last year, and they were both awesome.  Can’t wait for this year’s!

Mortal Kombat 92.  Gaming:  2011 was the year I finally gave in and bought a PlayStation.  Though it hasn’t had as much exercise as I’d’ve liked to have given it over the last couple of months, the initial surge of addiction and the endless rounds of whipping my fiancé in Mortal Kombat over and over were worth the purchase price.  I also just picked up Batman: Arkham City—yay!

3.  Marathoning:  Movie marathons, that is!  I’m kind of anti-Potter, but was forced to watch the entire series of Harry Potter movies for the first time over the course of a couple of weekends, and frankly, I’m glad that’s over.  Other marathons included all six episodes of Star Wars, full seasons of The Big Bang Theory, and … sigh … yes, I’m kind of a Gleek now.  Next up in the Netflix queue:  Pirates of Silicon Valley (never seen it; Fiancé’s choice), episodes of Man vs. Wild, and re-watching Futurama in its entirety.

4.  Podcasting:  As in, listening to them.  Never really been into podcasts until last year when I realized they were a great way to kill time during train commutes.  Awesomed by Comics is the best one.  Ever.  Period.  I’m so sorry I was late to the party.  (And shoutout to my friend Bob for the recommendation!)

5.  Oh damn, this needs to be an odd number.  I’m all out of … umm … oh, I know!  Ugh, very, VERY reluctantly, I have finally decided to join the incredible mass of Twitterers and create an account for the blog.  I did this completely on a whim and haven’t made a single tweet yet, but if you’re so inclined to follow me, you can do so at @coverstosleep.  I’m still tip toe-ing into the water here … so be nice.  :)

 

That’s all I have for now, Sleepers.  See you, hopefully, soon!  Here’s to a great 2012.

– Ravenhaired