I’ve spent the last week taking it easy during the holidays and doing my best to catch up on my reading stack. In the past few days, I have brought myself up to speed on a few titles and some 40 issues of:
Justice League – Meh. Just … meh. I wish I could offer something more on this title, but it’s leaving me bored. Might be time to drop it from my pull list soon, but I’ll finish the current arc first.
Gotham Academy – I hate to say this because I was hoping for so much more, but the writing on this title has let me down. It’s not BAD—it’s just … a little slow? The pacing is dragging for me. And it’s perfectly reasonable that many others would love the type of story they’re telling in Gotham Academy, but for me personally, it’s not hitting. I anticipated giving the book at least the first full arc to grab me, but I think I already know that it’s not going to fit. And that’s really a shame, because I LOVE the artwork on this book. Karl Kerschl’s style is so clean and so lively, and even more exciting when you throw on Geyser and Dave McCaig’s incredible colors—I wanted so badly to fall in love with this book. But I’m just … not.
Hawkeye – Umm … so, this title is coming back, right? Because I need this title. This title has to exist.
Black Widow – Natasha/X-23 team-up? Yes, please. More, please. Also, my goodness, I cannot explain my love for Phil Noto in any sufficient way for others to fathom. He is just … I can’t. I love his work so much, it’s unlike anything else. I can’t compare him to anyone. And Marvel just announced that they’re releasing a month’s worth of Phil Noto variant covers in February, which means I’m trouble and will be buying way more titles that month than I need to be….
Thor – LOVE. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Three issues in and I am OBSESSED with this book. Everything about it is solid; the writing is spectacular, the artwork is a delight, the colors are captivating. There is nothing more I could possibly want from this, and I’m so excited for the next issue.
Superman/Wonder Woman – This title was actually fairly decent under Charles Soule—it was better than what I was expecting, and Tony Daniel’s art was crisp and lovely. But Tomasi’s first issue as of #13 made this book take a giant nose-dive for me, and Mahnke’s artwork is just not my cup of tea. Wonder Woman’s characterization continues to suffer greatly since the New 52—I don’t know who that person is, but she’s not my Wonder Woman. But that in itself is a topic for a whole other discussion.
Sensation Comics – This book. This book is … just about the only thing keeping my DC fandom afloat at this point. If post-New 52 Wonder Woman is wrong, then Sensation Comics Wonder Woman is everything RIGHT and everything she should be. Reading this title is this massive dose of nostalgia, which is kind of weird, right? Because how can something brand new with different, alternative takes on a character make you feel nostalgic toward said character? It does, so very much. I’m not sure I’d do it proper credit in trying to explain, except to say that it’s very clear each writer and artist gets Wonder Woman. They get her and they love her, and that comes through so obviously in every story—which, I’m sad to say, is not the case in her actual title or in pretty much any other DC book she’s currently in. It’s a tragic state of affairs. But if, like me, you want the Wonder Woman you loved before the New 52 destroyed everything she was and everything she stood for, then pick up Sensation Comics. You won’t regret it.
It’s always good to support indie titles, but this one’s a little closer to my heart–Liz & Randy are from the New England area, using an area publisher, and are customers of yours and my favorite LCS. Their book will be listed in this week’s Previews and will be released in June, so give them a look!
I was on my lunch break from the day job late last year when I first picked up Princeless at a comic shop near my work. I didn’t know anything about the book, creative team, or publisher at all prior to that day—at most I had heard some negligible rumblings about the title on the internet somewhere, maybe Twitter—but when I saw it on the shelf in front of me, I figured I may as well give it a quick flick.
That flick turned into reading about half the issue off the shelf, and I had such a smile on my face and was laughing so much in the middle of the store that I knew I had to just buy the comic. That was $3.99 I did not plan on spending that day, on a completely unheard of book—not my usual purchasing style. In retrospect, I’m so very glad I did buy it, because I enjoyed the book so much that I wound up writing a short review of it on this blog … and that minor but emphatic little review was somehow, to my incredible surprise, discovered by Jeremy Whitley, the writer of Princeless, who contacted me with his thanks. Later on, when I found myself struggling to find the remaining issues of Princeless (low awareness of the title meant low order numbers, meant zero shelf copies for me to grab), I still had a way to read it through Jeremy. I did eventually get my hands on hard copies of each issue (thank you to the friendly staff at New England Comics), and when the mini was over, I had a timer set for when the next volume and continuation of the story would arrive.
That next volume is finally here, and I was all too happy to find my review copy patiently waiting for me in my inbox.
The first thing I noticed about volume 2 is that the series has a new artist. Where M. Goodwin held art duties for the first iteration of the series, here we have Emily C. Martin illustrating Adrienne, Bedelia, Sparky, and the rest of the cast upon their return. Martin definitely has her own style—I noticed the art was different before looking at the title page—but it blends in really well to what came before. It’s not a drastic shift in art by any means. One of my pet peeves when it comes to comics, but something that comes with the territory, is when a fill-in artist’s style is so radically different from the main art you’ve settled into on a book. It can be jarring. This isn’t the case here—the change is subtle, and that same great expression and color that we got with the first volume is still intact.
The story picks up more or less right where it left off, with Princess Adrienne & Co. on the run, except that we now learn Adrienne’s father has recruited quite a … let’s call them “eclectic” band of men to hunt down what he sees as his daughter’s attempted killer. The prize for whoever captures this fiend’s head, of course, is the hand in marriage of any of the King’s daughters. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Adrienne’s brother Devin overhears his father’s proposal and pleads with his mother to put a stop to it all. Her reaction is not what you would expect … or, then again, maybe it is exactly that. I’m not sold on what’s really happening here, and I’ll let you read the scene for yourself to see what I mean.
The best parts of the issue, unsurprisingly, are the scenes with Adrienne and Bedelia, and I was pleased to see this issue continue the same level of humor and satire as in the previous volume. We’re also introduced to a handful of new characters, not the least of which occurs on the final page of the issue. I can’t wait to see where it goes, because I’m betting it’s going to be hilarious. Sometimes when I’m reading this title, I forget that it’s an all-ages book and really meant for a younger audience, because there’s still so much here to play with as an adult. It’s pure fun.
Princeless volume 2, #1 is available for pre-order from Previews, so if you’re interested in checking this out, it’s really important that you take a moment to order it with your LCS. I’m guessing it will likely be available on Comixology as well. Great independents like this absolutely need our support. Remember the feeling of utter exhaustion and cynicism you felt after putting down an issue of Marvel/DC’s 698th Event this year? Remember that feeling? Yeah—Princeless won’t give you that.
Action Lab Entertianment is proud to present the return of 2012 Glyph Winner for Best Heroine, Princess Adrienne! Last year’s breakout all-ages hit, Princeless is finally making its way back into your comic shops and this time it’s bringing more action, more adventure, and a rogue’s gallery of deadly bounty hunters with their sights set on Adrienne and her new friend Bedelia!
Having saved herself from her own tower, Adrienne is now out to save her sisters, starting with her sister Angelica, the most beautiful girl in the whole kingdom. However, Adrienne is about to learn that rescuing princesses is not as easy as she’s always believed and that not everybody has the same ideas about what it means to be saved as she does!
Princeless Volume 1 was nominated for two Eisner awards including “Best Series for Ages 8-12” and “Best Single Issue.” It also won the Glyph Awards for “Best Heroine,” “Best Writer,” and “Best Story.” It has been nominated for a number of other awards and is one of the best reviewed books of 2011-2012.
Join Writer Jeremy Whitley and Illustrator Emily C. Martin for a second wild ride with the princess who saved herself and pre-order “Princeless Volume 2, Issue 1” from Diamond today! Order code: STK522144
As you may have guessed, my fights with Captain Couch haven’t been going so well lately. He has, in fact, gotten so full of himself and his winning ways, that he’s passed on his torch of torment to a new adversary, Lieutenant L.L. Seat.
… In other words, I have a new sofa.
The battles are frequent. It’s a whole new weightclass, here. I’m just no match. Please forgive my absence—it can take a while to get over these injuries.
I’ve talked about my comics backlog a few times, and I’ve always hesitated to show you just how truly grotesque the situation has become, but I can hold back no longer. It’s time to unveil the horror.
Feast your eyes upon 209 unread comics:
I tried to break them up into three piles to subdue the overwhelming magnitude a little, so in actuality, this doesn’t do it justice. We’re talking several years of stuff, here. Whole runs of things I’ve picked up and never gotten around to reading—things as far back as Daytripper, half a run of House of Mystery, and the final issues of Secret Six I never finished. I KNOW, okay?! I know. I know.
By the way, this isn’t counting all the trades I have piled up. I’d estimate probably another two dozen unread collected editions of things.
It’s pretty bad.
But I make this post for a reason! There is method to this madness! I have every intention to catch up, starting this weekend. And I’m going to be taking notes … oh, copious notes. Notes I will share on all the crazy comics crap I’ve been missing. Perhaps by announcing it to you before I actually do it, I’ll scare and pressure myself into action. Get ‘er done, as they say.
Let’s hope there’s far more good than there is crap in the pile. Cross your fingers for me. And keep reading.
Oh—one more thing. Look for these upcoming new posts in a somewhat unexpected place.
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.
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.
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
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.
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. :)
Hello. Have we all recovered from our food comas yet? I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It’s tough being back to work after four lovely days off, but such, I suppose, is life. At least there is always the promise of Wednesday and new comics.
So … are you reading Princeless yet? Was my earlier review of issue #1 not convincing enough? Because I’m going to hound you all relentlessly until I get some messages saying “Yay, you’re so right, Princeless is awesome!”
Oh, issue #2—you were everything for which I’d hoped. Princess Adrienne’s story is continued, but this time around the narrative voice is shifted in the beginning from being Adrienne’s to that of her brother, Prince Devin. When their belligerent father, the King, is misinformed that Princess Adrienne is dead (having fled the tower atop her dragon at the end of the last issue), Devin is devastated by what’s happened to his sister and the thought that he may have had a hand in her death. Ooohhh, yeah—weren’t expecting that, were you? You’ll just have to read the issue to learn what I mean. There’s a lot more that happens here, but I can’t tell you about it without an insane amount of gushing.
Jeremy Whitley’s writing keeps its momentum from issue one, and the hilarity doesn’t stop either. A couple of scenes in particular had me laughing out loud as I read this on one of my train commutes, and the ending left me disappointed in the sense that I was sad there had to be one at all. Two issues in, and I feel like I’ve known these characters for a while. They’re well-developed, well-rounded, and well-illustrated. Wonderful, wonderful comics being made.
This book is just a blast, and I’m so happy I found it. In a week where DC didn’t release any of their New 52, it’s a perfect opportunity to check out something else and breathe a breath of fresh air instead of the same old constant disappointment.
Please read this book, and please pass it along. I absolutely cannot fathom that you’d regret it.
Hmm. What can I say about this one? I’m kind of stupid about Bucky and Natasha. They’ve only been a relatively recent discovery for me and I really, really love the pair … my reasons are myriad. So whenever I see the promise of some Bucky and Natasha team-up, I’m all on it. But this was a little bit of a letdown.
The issue started off very well. The story is set in the early days of the Winter Soldier, and Brubaker and Andreyko use it to delve into some of Bucky’s past conditioning. We get peaks of his early missions and the formation of his romance with Black Widow, and all is well. We also see Bucky begin to defy his programming—the writing is strong, and I have to shout out to Chris Samnee, who really draws some excellent stuff. His style is wonderfully suited to the “throw back” feel of the book, giving it a unique flavor that’s separate from that of the main Captain America title.
I began this by telling you that the issue was a letdown. Then I told you the writing is good and the art is great, so obviously I’m not making much sense here, right?
I guess I can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing. I think the problem is that I’m sitting here reading this issue, things are moving, I’m getting really into what’s happening, and then … it’s over. It just sort of … ends, and not in a “to be continued next issue” way. At first I wondered if my copy was missing some pages or something—that’s how confused I was. I even went online and read some web reviews, but the three reviews I read all loved the issue and said nothing much further. I’m thinking I’m the only one who was left with this hanging feeling. If the book were an electronic device, could we chalk this up to “user error”? Did I somehow read the book wrong?
Despite my confusion, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed what I read, and if you’re a Bucky fan or a Black Widow fan, it’s worth the pickup. Past that, I’m still trying to figure it out, but if the writing here is any indication of Brubaker’s new upcoming Winter Soldier title, I’ll definitely be picking that up.
I had some qualms about this title and the team split that resulted from Schism, but since the X-Men are essentially what got me into comics in the first place, I always tend to follow at least one or two of their books. I read through the Schism event, and while I wasn’t impressed with it to start, the latter issues picked up the pace and I found myself a little more invested in the central argument of what was happening—should the X-kids be mutantkind’s soldiers, per Cyclops, or should they be children and students, per Wolverine? You can see the pull for both sides, and the depiction of that gray area is what makes this so interesting.
So as much as I dislike the title of this and the emphasis that’s continually placed on Wolverine, the lure of most of my favorite characters siding with him as well as the promise of Chris Bachalo’s artwork convinced me to pick it up.
I’m not disappointed. The first issue was a lot of fun, centering on Wolverine and Kitty trying to prep the newly-built Jean Grey School for opening day—and Jason Aaron’s writing was strong. It continues to be so with issue #2, which is full of action. Usually when an issue of a comic is nonstop action, I actually get kind of bored, because my favorite thing about comics is character interaction. I like dialogue, I like getting in characters’ heads, I like seeing them play off of one another. You know when Bendis writes pages and pages of Avengers where the characters are just talking and talking and talking? A lot of people seem to hate that, but I love the stuff. It’s vastly more interesting to me than watching the X-Men battle a giant monster for 24 pages straight. If they aren’t saying things to one another—if I’m not learning anything about anyone by watching them fight, then for me, that “action” is boring.
Lucky enough, this seems to be where Jason Aaron shines. The majority, if not the entirety, of issue two was the X-Men in a fight, and I was not disinterested once. Aaron seems to have struck the perfect balance between action and character development. We have an opening scene where Iceman unleashes his oft-discussed “potential” against the bad guys; there are shots of the X-kids holding their own while conversation and even romance brews. There are great things here.
That said, it’s definitely not my perfect book. For one thing, I really dislike the villains—not in the “oh man, these guys are so evil” kind of way, but more in the “wow, these guys are so lame” kind of way. A group of rich, genius evil children taking over the Hellfire Club doesn’t do it for me. I just have trouble buying it, and that’s all on Aaron. His setup for them in Schism felt hackneyed and contrived, and I have no feelings invested in the group whatsoever. I can’t connect, and really at this point, I just want the X-Men to defeat them and get it over with so they can move on to their next set of villains.
Despite that, I’m definitely enjoying this new title so far, and I’m optimistic that we can look forward to it being consistently good story-wise. However…
In my last review of the Captain America, I complained that Steve McNiven was the artist on the book for only six issues. Well, Bachalo’s got him beat, because he’ll be off of this after issue #3, with Nick Bradshaw taking over. I cannot tell you how much this pains/saddens/infuriates me, and it’s taking a high degree of restraint not to fill this paragraph with cuss words. While it isn’t a HUGE surprise that Bachalo’s tenure here is brief—I can’t remember the last time he actually stayed on a book past a few issues—it’s still a huge tease to be reeled in like this, only to have half the creative team change within three issues. This is NOT the way to launch a new title, Marvel, and the habit is becoming unbearable. And for goodness’ sake, this book is four bucks. FOUR BUCKS! Argh! Infuriating. Depending on how Bradshaw’s art is, this title may or may not be on a short leash for me. Let’s give it a few more and then re-evaluate.