I&N Review: WILD BLUE YONDER #5

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From the beginning, Wild Blue Yonder (published by IDW) has been the comic book equivalent of a Summer Blockbuster: non-stop, high-octane (literally!) action, larger than life characters and, thanks to the stunning visuals of Zach Howard and Nelson Daniel, special effects like you wouldn’t believe. The story involves the ragtag crew of The Dawn, a giant airship permanently flying over the earth, which (for reasons barely touched upon) is a scorched ruin. On their heels is the relentless Judge, who is after both their ship and their seemingly endless fuel supply. It’s like Firefly meets The Rocketeer meets The Road Warrior.

Previous issues, have–in between all the dogfights–explored life on The Dawn, and the interpersonal relationships of the cast including: Cola (the headstrong, daredevil pilot), Tug (the newbie and love interest of Cola), The Commander (tough, seemingly unfeeling and, oh yeah, Cola’s mom) and sure-to-be-fan-favorite Scram (a combustible, gregarious combination of Woody Harrelson and Hulk Hogan; easily the stand-out). The writers–Mike Raicht, Austin Harrison, and the aforementioned Mr. Howard–have done a nice job sketching in just enough telling dialogue and spare, quiet moments to make these characters compelling. Particularly well-handled is the mother/daughter dynamic between The Commander and Cola, as the former has to balance the needs of The Dawn with her daughter’s struggle to become her own woman. It’s great to see women take a primary role in a story like this, while leaving plenty of butt-kicking for the men, as well.

Speaking of butt-kicking: issue 5. It’s pretty much cover-to-cover action, as the Judge’s forces engage the woefully outnumbered inhabitants of The Dawn. Extended battle sequences like this can be difficult to orchestrate in a comprehensible manner (just ask Michael Bay). This can be even more challenging in comics, where the images are necessarily static; but Howard and Daniel handle it with aplomb. Through clean layout and bold composition, they expertly control the pacing so that the fast moments whizz by, while the big moments are allowed to be, well, big (though the biggest, involving a fateful decision by Tug, you could see a mile coming). In the midst of all of this they still manage some human moments, most affectingly with the Judge himself, transforming what had been a heavy, Darth Vader-type into a relatable, almost sympathetic human being.

In fact, my biggest complaint is that I’d like to spend more time with these characters, exploring their backgrounds, motivations and interactions in this harrowing, fantastic world. Ah well, if this is a Summer Blockbuster, I can only hope for the Inevitable Sequel.

Wild Blue Yonder #5 hits the shelves on 7/23.

Turning pages,

Derek Mainhart

–Wild Blue Yonder #5

The 2014 Innies: The Winners!

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Here they are!  The kickoff to the 2014 comic awards season!  We proudly present the WINNERS of the 75 Annual Innie AwardsDark Horse had a big year, represented in no fewer than four out of the five categories.  Matt Kindt also cleaned up, winning twice (Best Ongoing & Best Artist).  Congratulations to all the winners!  See you in 2015!
  • Best Limited Series: Mister X: Eviction (Dark Horse) by Dean Motter
  • Best Ongoing Series: Mind MGMT (Dark Horse) by Matt Kindt
  • Best Writer: Si Spurrier–for Six-Gun Gorilla (BOOM!) & Numbercruncher (Titan)
  • Best Artist: Matt Kindt–for Mind MGMT (Dark Horse)
  • Best Colorist: Jordie Bellaire–for The Massive (Dark Horse), The Manhattan Projects (Image), Mara (Image), Zero (Image), Numbercruncher (Titan), and other stuff!

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Turning pages,

Derek & Scott

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Superhero Friday!

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The 2014 Harvey Awards final ballot has been set!

Congrats to nominees Mark Waid (Best Writer) and Chris Samnee (Best Artist & Best Cover Artist), the daring duo behind Marvel’s Daredevil (Best Continuing or Limited Series)!

I've been Double Dogged!

I’ve been Double Dogged!

Who are you wearing today?

Turning pages,

Scott

What’s I&N Store (7/16)

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A big week with some stand-out books and a few make-or-breakers, too.  Toss in a bunch of #1′s and you’ve got yourself a pretty full bag.

Oh, and a picture of a wrestler.

  • Robin Rises: Omega #1 (DC): It’s all led to this.  By it, I mean: early on, Tomasi did a terrific job of toeing the Bat-line that Morrison drew in Batman Inc.; but for the most part the post-Two Face team-ups were terribly tedious.  Stitching Batman to Frankenstein worked well, however, because of its acting as a natural segue into Robin’s resurrection–or whatever’s going to go down.  Who knows?  Maybe Robin’ll come back less human than human; maybe he’ll forevermore be known as–wait for it–Robzombie.
Robin Rises: Omega #1

Robin Rises: Omega #1

  • The Squidder #1 (IDW): Trying out some new Ben Templesmith, who’s trying out some words along with his usually stunning images.
  • The Last Fall #1 (IDW): Writer Tom Waltz has had a hand in making TMNT a must buy.  I’m willing to give him a shot here.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #36 (IDW): That’s right: TMNT is a must buy.  The story’s been solid, and Mateus Santolouco’s art has been instrumental in redefining the Turtles.
TMNT #36

TMNT #36

  • Rat Queens #7 (Image): The Unreal Queens of Comedy are back to offend our sensibilities–and, as #6 proved, to make us like ‘em all a little bit more.  (Yeah, the four-panel first page snagged me but good.)  One thing that keeps me coming back for more: it reminds me of the late Drew Hayes’s Poison Elves.  (God, I loved Poison Elves!)
  • Stray Bullets: Killers #5 (Image): I agreed completely with Derek’s assessment–his very positive assessment–of SB:K #1.  Since then, however, Lapham hasn’t quite killed it.  Rooting hard for Amy Racecar.
Stray Bullets: Killers #5

Stray Bullets: Killers #5

  • The Wicked & The Divine #2 (Image): The title’s got me thinking less about the book itself and more about Kieron Gillen.  I love Uber and really liked Three (Divine!); his post-Schism Uncanny X-Men was unreadable, and Young Avengers was wildly over-hyped (Wicked!).  After #1, I’m leaning toward the latter.  One thing going for it: it read not unlike a Johnathan Hickman book–just with characters who are annoying as hell.
  • Magneto #7 (Marvel): While #5 fell a bit flat, #6 reestablished Magneto’s mojo–with a vengeance!  It’s all about vengeance, ain’t it?  Good for us.  Kudos to Cullen Bunn, who has gone a long way toward establishing himself as the master of the Master of Magnetism.
  • Ms. Marvel #6 (Marvel): #5 was the weakest issue thus far.  Not saying it wasn’t good; there was just something…inconsistent about it.  Wondering how the new artist–Jake Wyatt–will affect the book, especially considering how instrumental Adrian Alphona has been in making this book so magical from the get-go .  I’m still very high on Kamala, though.
Not this one...

Not this one…

This one.  Duh.

This one. Duh.

  • Silver Surfer #4 (Marvel): We’ve celebrated #1 and #2 as Top 5 books–of March and April, respectively.  And, not surprisingly, you’ll soon find that we liked #3 a whole lot, too.  No doubt: this last wave of Marvel books has been damn good; and of the bunch riding it–including the aforementioned Ms. Marvel and Magneto, plus the knockout Iron Fist–Slott and Allred’s Silver Surfer is the Big Kahuna.
Silver Surfer #4

Silver Surfer #4

  • Uncanny X-Men #23 (Marvel): I’ve admitted it already, but I’ll do so again; see, it needs to be emphasized–especially since I was such a tough customer: I like what Bendis is doing on both X-books.  That’s right: I’m a believer!  And not simply on the strength of one or two issues of each; no, I’d still be cautious–maybe even rude–with such a small sampling.  After several issues of each–of All-New and Uncanny–I haven’t had a single thing to complain about!  Well, it’s more than just not having something to complain about: Bendis has found the all-important balance between the serious and the silly that must be struck in order for the X-Men to work.  Works for me.
  • Black Market #1 (BOOM!): I haven’t really liked anything I’ve read from Frank Barbiere (Five Ghosts, White Suits); but, as I tried those, I’ll probably try this one.
  • Dicks: End of Time #2: I hope I score the offensive cover!  Honesty: I felt like a jerk buying it, more so while reading it, and totally after.  Yup, I’m Super Wanker!
  • Harbinger #25 (Valiant): Here comes Harada!  Doesn’t look like he’s gonna Toyo with Peter any longer.  Ouch.  Sorry for that.  Speaking of ouch: plenty of ouch potential here, right?  I mean, anniversary issues usually suck.  A gaggle of special guests usually results in an overpriced mess, doesn’t it?  Hoping for more.
  • The Last Broadcast #3 (Archaia): Thus far, The Last Broadcast has been a magical experience!  In fact, we’re going to be celebrating #2 as a top book of June, you know, when we finally get around to it.  Seriously, though, Andre Sirangelo and Gabriel Iumazark have pieced together an engrossing mystery that plays like a Polanski film (Frantic, The Ninth Gate).  (Hey, I might use that in my Top 5 review…)
The Last Broadcast #3

The Last Broadcast #3

  • The Devilers #1 (Dynamite): If I see Joshua Hale Fialkov’s name on a book, I’m going to buy the book.  Where he’s at now (The Bunker, The Life After), odds are good this’ll be hella good.

Avery’s Picks of the Week:

  • Scribblenauts Unmasked: A Crisis of Imagination #7 (DC): She’s got the first six, so there’s no stopping now–even if she has no idea what’s going on.  After all, we’re a family of completists.  Unless a book really sucks, of course.
Sribblenauts #7

Scribblenauts #7

  • Littlest Pet Shop #3 (IDW): The first two were cute enough.
  • Doodle Jump #2 (Dynamite): Oh, Avery’s going to totally jump for Doodle!  What is Doodle Jump, you ask?  It’s Q-bert on drugs.  Well, Q-bert on more drugs.
Doodle Jump #2

Doodle Jump #2

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

I&Nterview: Guillermo Zubiaga

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There are a lot of ways for independent creators to get published these days. You could start a Kickstarter campaign. You could publish on the web. Or, if you’re Guillermo Zubiaga, you could have it financed by scholarly cultural institutions like the University of Nevada and The Center for Basque Studies. His comic Joanes, or the Basque Whaler, has garnered him considerable attention, much of it from sources you wouldn’t normally associate with comic books.

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 Derek Mainhart: So first a little background info: What’s your professional comics background?

Guillermo Zubiaga: I started my career working in an animation cartoon studio, while getting my degree at Syracuse University. After graduation I decided to move to New York City, to expand my professional possibilities. I got my first job in the comic book industry around 1997. I did a year or so work “ghosting” (uncredited work) and after a relatively short time I managed to get my work credited in Marvel’s X-Force. I also ghosted on Images Comics’ HellHole #1 and then on Witchblade INFINITY, for which I was given credit. 

Around the same time I also worked as a toy designer with Art Asylum, drawing designs for action-figures for ToyBIZ: X-Men, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings and others. I also worked on the Image Comics title Nosferatu 1922 and some more ghosting for Vertigo (DC) on Big Daddy Danger, for which I was occasionally credited. I did some inking on an issue of B.P.R.D. for Dark Horse, and on an Image graphic novel, The Romp.

I have also drawn quite a few storyboards, mostly for TV-advertising, some music videos, but most notably for the short film Witchwise (2006) by Joe Harris and Night Messiah Films-Lointerscope.

DM: So you’ve been around. How did you feel about the “ghosting” process? Did it bother you to not get credited for some of your work?

GZ: I found ways around it. For example, perhaps semi-consciously, I began peppering a few subtle Basque “winks” and “tags”. Well, some not so subtle at all: there were iconic Basque symbols, letters, words, even phrases and names of Basque rock and rap bands, etc. Things I thought would not be recognized by anybody. I figured no other Basques were likely to be working as artists in the comic book industry. I never thought I was getting away with anything. If any of the camouflaged, incomprehensible Basque “winks” I drew in the background would have jumped out as any kind of red flag to an editor, the worst that could have happened was that I would’ve simply erased them and drew them over. But that never happened. On the contrary, I think that my when some of the books I worked on in America got published back in Europe, the “Basque winks” that I thought I had concealed so inconspicuously were eventually discovered. This led to some very considerable attention until finally the University of Nevada got news of my “affairs”.

DM: What was this “considerable attention”? When the University contacted you, were you already working on Joanes?

GZ: Yes. In 2007 I finished the flying whaleboat, showed it around to different editors in NYC and throughout the Comic Con circuit, trying to find a suitable venue.  I gave myself a self-imposed deadline of one year to find somebody to publish it. If not, I’d try self-publishing it.

During this time several articles were published about it in just about all the newspapers back in the Basque Country. I also was invited to participate in several interviews in a couple of Basque Radio shows and featured in a small piece on Basque News television.

A few months before my self-imposed deadline to find somebody to publish my book, I received a call from the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2009, courtesy of their Center of Basque Studies I published Episode 1 of my Joanes or the Basque Whaler saga: The Flying Whaleboat.

The second installment of the Basque whaling trilogy, Whale Island, premiered two years later at NY COMICON.

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DM: What part did the University and the Center for Basque Studies play in publishing/promoting the book?

GZ: The Center for Basque Studies of the University of Nevada, in Reno holds and publishes (for the last 50 or so years and counting) the largest Basque themed library in the world (outside of the Basque country). So it has been, along with its vast distribution network, pivotal in spearheading this project and making it a reality.

I want to think of it as having been the right fit, and in retrospective I think I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

DM: What can you tell us about the story?

GZ: I would describe it as a fictional epic scattered with Basque mythological references. Regarding the first volume, Joanes, the protagonist, tries to make his fortune as a whaler during an era when the whales in the Bay of Biscay were becoming scarce. He’s forced to look farther afield, but without the means to do so. Here is when the story begins to depart from historical fact and the narrative weaves in elements of Basque legend. With the help of witches, Joanes summons a sea-devil who assist him…But for a price!

The episode ends with danger hanging over the recent success of Joanes and his crew as he has to live up to his unhallowed pact.

As far as the second book goes, continuing with the idea of Joanes as an anti-hero, we see that his fame and fortune grow, but so does his notoriety as a blasphemous and impious drunk. This defect will ultimately become his downfall, something quite real, human and flawed, characteristically lacking in most heroes.

This volume represents a turning point in the narrative: it’s the point of highest tension, before the conclusion in #3.

DM: The story takes great pains to recreate 15th century whaling practices. What interested you about the subject?

GZ: I hold the entire framework to be genuinely a Basque Western genre, comparable to The Cowboy in America, The Samurai in Japan or The Viking in Scandinavia. A truly epic age for the Basque people, which to quote a friend of mine “was the time when Basques have shined the brightest in their history”.

We Basques have been sitting on a buried treasure. As luck would have it, in our lifetime we have had the opportunity to discover the oldest and best preserved wreckage from the exploration age in the world. Not to mention two of the oldest written documents in American history, acknowledging us with the verifiable truth to claim back such a historical and cultural wealth.

DM: In addition to the whaling stuff, the narrative teems with historical detail. How much research did you have to do? Can you tell us about the process?

GZ: Research indeed!! I believe that the success of anything you do in this life depends 90% on research. It wasn’t easy, especially since not all investigating, in terms of archeological study, was done when I began this project. I realized that there wasn’t a whole lot to be found, although I am quite a library mouse and as much as I like to research, I had to talk to quite a lot of people. It wasn’t easy. I remember I went to different academic and cultural museums in the Basque Country as well as in Canada and Iceland, requesting any kind of visual aid, but like I said there wasn’t much. Luckily today I would say the field itself seems to be experimenting a bit of a revival.

DM: The story has the feel of folklore about it. How much derives from Basque tradition and how much is purely invention?

GZ: As far as the narrative is concerned, with the exception of personifying the natural occurrence of the Traganarroo (“watersprout” in Basque) into an anthropomorphic killer whale, I have painstakingly gathered every single element from the vast Basque mythological tradition; the witches and their relationship with the sea as well as the night whaleboat air rides, etc. I also drew from a very rich (though often little known) maritime history. The way I see it, all the elements were already there I just had to find them and weave them in a cohesive way that made them all fit.

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the Traganarroo

DM: You incorporate text and symbols into some of your page design. Considering your penchant for hidden “winks”, are these meant to provide added layers of meaning?

GZ: Well of course! One would only hope those “added layers of meaning” are deciphered. However, unlike my days of ghosting, where my Basque winks were somewhat unpremeditated, every element in JOANES is fully planned.

DM: The overall storytelling approach, episodic in nature, with an omniscient narrator, reads less like a traditional comic and more like a heavily illustrated narrative. In fact, the combination of this approach with your exhaustive attention to detail and realistic rendering style put me in the mind of nothing so much as Hal Foster’s work on Price Valiant. Was this approach dictated by the type of story you’re telling? Why did you choose this method?

GZ: Right off the bat, thanks for that reference to “the Prince of Illustrators”! I am not sure if I could explain my method or how I choose it; however I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to do something “different”, with a clear conscious effort along the way that I wanted to avoid most (if not all) cliches, narrative as well as visual. Yet I also knew I wanted something done with a traditional feel, especially if we consider the atavistic nature of the subject matter. I even considered doing it in sepia tone as opposed to B&W to give it a weathered look, although I do think the current print works fine.

DM: There is some interesting conjecture in the story concerning the Basque’s discovery of the New World (you even provide some historical footnotes to this effect). What evidence you find supporting this? And was this part of the impetus for the story?

GZ: Impetus for the story? You bet!! There is a whole lot of undisputed evidence on the early presence of Basques in the New world. The tale itself is inspired by two of the oldest known texts to be produced in North America, the last will and testaments of Juanes de Larrume and Joanes de Echaniz, Basque whalers who respectively died in Canada in the years 1577 and 1584. ( A recent discovery by Michael Barkham places Domingo de Luça, also a Basque Seaman, who died in 1563, as the oldest written document in North America). Along with these written documents, the oldest shipwreck found north of Florida is the Basque Galleon, San Juan.

Furthermore a recent discovery (it happened while I was wrapping #3) at a Huron village site near Toronto, places one of the oldest pieces of iron (an axe fragment) in North America. The item was radio carboned to be from around 1500 A.D. and it has yielded very suggestive results because not only does it turn out it is Basque in origin but forensic archeologists were even able to locate the actual forge where it was manufactured back in the old B.C. (Basque Country).

In 1497 A.D. when Giovanni Caboto sailed for the King Herny VIII of England and “discovered” Newfoundland, on his arrival to the New World he encountered several Basque ships already fishing its coast.

Later in 1534 A.D. as Jacques Cartier explored the east coast of Canada on his “discovery” expedition for France, he also reported seeing Basque whalers off its shores. Moreover, some of the French-Basque crew that Cartier brought with him were the only ones who could understand a few trade words that the natives were using. An Algonquin-Basque pidgin had developed over years of trade between the two groups. Modern Micmacs today claim that when both Cartier and Cabot were first encountered they were greeted in Basque. The Basque language was without a doubt one of the earliest European languages that the natives learned, before, English, French or Spanish.

You see the whole subject of Basque whaling shrouded in a halo of mystery. Besides working so far from their home ports, they were exempt from many taxes that the crown or the church would otherwise claim, so naturally the occupation itself was quite secretive, in the nature of the fisherman who keeps quiet about the source of its catch to protect him from his competitors.

At any rate, all these elements were like a jewel for at least the backdrop of the centerpiece for a narrative work.

DM: The second issue ended on a note of almost biblical proportions. What can you tell us about Joanes #3?

GZ: The whole narrative of Joanes could be described as a journey of self discovery where the protagonist begins as a clear cut anti-hero but events transpire which transform him into a more traditional hero. Self sacrifice comes into play in this last issue, but even though the character appears more benign, the inner scoundrel never fully disappears.

The only two things that I can reveal is that our character has himself ordained and in addition to that becomes a pirate!!! (hence the title, Priest of Pirates)!

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Look for Joanes or the Basque Whaler on Guillermo Zubiaga’s Blog:

http://guillermozubiaga.blogspot.com/

 

What’s I&N Store (7/9)

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A very welcome wee week:

  • American Vampire: Second Cycle #4 (DC/Vertigo): I’ve been disappointed by the Second Cycle thus far.  It pales in comparison to the first go-round; it’s as if the life has been sucked out of the story by some supernatural force–because there’s no way Snyder’d stumble so badly on his signature series without there being a unreasonable explanation, right?  Damn thing’s gone from blockbuster to B-movie.  At the end of #3, I was like “What the devil?” and “What?  The devil?” at the very same time!  Followed with an “Ugh.”  I’m only considering it because it’s a light week.  Smart move’ll be to pass.  Honest self-assessment: on Wednesdays, my IQ drops more than a few points.
  • Grayson #1 (DC): I’ve always preferred Dick over all of the other Robins.  Sure, his transition to Nightwing was tough to swallow at first; but in the end it made terrific sense; and the character has played an rock solid role in the DCU and in the Bat-family ever since.  This move–to super-spy–seems more like engineered evolution, meekly bending toward what’s trending; see: it has me thinking Winter Soldier–which means I won’t be able to help myself from comparing Seely’s work to Brubaker’s.  Yeah, yeah, I know: but all’s fair in love, war–and comics.
Grayson #1

Grayson #1

  • Royals: Masters of War #6 (DC/Vertigo): The penultimate issue ended with a kingly twist–a perfect set up for the finale.  Rob Williams and Simon Coleby have packed five issues of Royals with high energy and explosive moments.  Should probably wear a bomb-disposal get-up while reading this one.
  • All-New X-Men #29 (Marvel): Still waiting on #28.  Wonder if I should take it as a sign and pass.  Followers will note that for 24 issues–I skipped #25–I begged for the strength to leave Bendis’s mutant massacre on the shelf and that #26 stripped me of all complaints and left me believing in Bendis anew–all the way through #27.  That’s right: still waiting on #28.
  • Daredevil #5 (Marvel): Time to find out about Foggy.  A quick note on #.1: Surprisingly good.  I’m generally wary of .this and .that issues; but this one’s got a clear purpose: filling in some of the blanks between New York and San Francisco.
Daredevil #5

Daredevil #5

  • Original Sin #5.1 (Marvel): As much as I’d like to avoid the Original Sin trap, I can’t here: Al Ewing and Jason Aaron are serving up a little Loki.  Oh, and Thor, too.  Can’t forget Thor.
  • The United States of Murder #3 (Marvel): Bendis is in his criminal element here.  If there were any question after a lackluster #1, then #2 is all the proof you’ll ever need.
  • Armor Hunters #2 (Valiant): #1 was a solid opening salvo and was supported very well by a strong X-O Manowar #26.  Super-high praise: kudos to Venditti for making me feel like I did when I read comics as a kid.
Armor Hunters #2

Armor Hunters #2

  • Doc Savage #7 (Dynamite): Has lost some of its shine.  As time has gone on, The Man of Bronze has become The Man of Boredom.  Can’t imagine I’ll be sticking around much longer without a real knockout of an issue.
  • The Life After #1 (Oni Press): Joshua Hale Fialkov is a must try considering the tremendous job he’s doing with time travel on The Bunker.  The guy can flat-out tell a story.
The Life After #1

The Life After #1

  • Magnus: Robot Fighter #5 (Dynamite): #4 ended on a pair of strong notes.  The series, in general, has been my favorite of the Gold Key books.  Could it be–I don’t know–because Van Lente’s at the top of his game right now?  You just nodded in the affirmative, didn’t you?
Magnus: Robot Fighter #5

Magnus: Robot Fighter #5

  • Thomas Alsop #2 (BOOM!): #1 was a BIG surprise!  Chris Miskiewicz and Palle Schmidt delivered an excellent set-up issue that balances well the spirited situation in the present and the foundation that was laid in the past.  Can’t wait to get into this one.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

Dark Knight, Dark Bright, aired on IFC tonight…

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Watching the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman series with my daughter (currently being shown on IFC), I’m reminded of my own childhood experience of the Dynamic Duo. Blissfully ignorant of irony, my 6-year-old self took these shows at face value, shark repellent and all. I was mesmerized, electrified, occasionally terrified. It was my introduction to the world of super heroes. My mind crackled with possibility. It was love at first sight.

As I grew, like many fans, I dismissed the 1960′s version as a too-campy distortion of what Batman was supposed to be. I preferred my Dark Knight serious, gritty, “realistic,” as God and Frank Miller intended.

Years later, having been exposed  to the unremittingly bleak visions of Nolan and Goyer, and having endured the utterly soulless spectacles of Zack Snyder, it occurs that asking imaginary costumed men to reflect our base reality is a task ill-suited to them. And reductive besides. They are better used to inspire, to fire the imagination, to fuel the stuff of dreams.

And so I think perhaps my 6-year-old self had it right.

-Derek

 

What’s I&N Store (7/2)

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As you know, our sign off is “Turning pages.” As of today, for the foreseeable future, I’ll also be “turning Paige’s” whatever it is she wants me to turn or needs me to turn. That’s right: my second daughter was born this afternoon–and still I’m making sure to get this list out on time! So here it is: What’s I&N Store: The Hospital Edition:

  • Clone #18 (Image): Clone is humming along, as solid as ever, with ethical dilemmas driving the plot–toward a collision between the clones and the coalition.  Will Luke kill the father and son?  Will Laura kidnap Luke’s son?  Gosh, I hope so.
  • East of West #13 (Image): Re: #12: the entire issue is a meeting amongst the nations.  Just a meeting, you ask?  Oh, no, not just a meeting: it’s the best damned meeting, like, ever!  Xiaolian Mao makes the case for war; and Hickman and Dragotta use some superior panel work to take us around a very tense table, giving all in attendance the opportunity to explode with rage–or with something else, you know, like, in the case of Mr. Graves, a bomb.  East of West has been very good of late, with this issue standing as one of the strongest of the series thus far.
  • Lazarus #9 (Image): #8 was one of our top books of April.  Check out why here.
Lazarus #9

Lazarus #9

  • Satellite Sam #9 (Image): Did you get your Tijuana Bible straight away?  Or did you have to ask for the insert?  Did you kinda cringe after opening it and then shove it inside Sam and place it all together on your finished pile?  Dirty distraction aside, #8 was very good.  Almost earned Top Five honors for May.  Sure, Fraction’s earning raves for the wildly overrated Sex Criminals, which I’ve dumped as of #6 after having realized that I could have this conversation with my friends for free; but his best work is right here.
  • Sheltered #10 (Image): A fist-pumping “Yes!” moment was enough to sell me on another issue.  Yeah, I’m talking about Curt’s gettin’ his comeuppance and about taking Sheltered one issue at a time.
  • Sidekick #7 (Image): I ended up liking the first arc a lot. Definitely my favorite of the Joe’s Comics offerings. Clearly my favorite, considering the fact that it’s the only one I’ve stuck with. Oh, and I haven’t been turned off by Straczynski’s borrowing from himself (see the first arc of The Twilight Zone); after the initial surprise, it was just something worth remarking.
  • Southern Bastards #3 (Image): We loved #1 and celebrated it as a Top 5 book of April. #2, while a decent single issue, suffered in comparison to such a strong opening statement. Here’s another strong statement: I’m hoping that Aaron and Latour rebound here; otherwise, I may consider pulling the Bastards from my pull list.
  • Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #4 (Marvel): #3 was a particularly strong issue. Hasn’t taken long for writer/artist Kaare Andrews to assume complete control over Danny Rand/Iron Fist. He’s balanced the past and present like yin and yang, and, artistically, has injected just the right amount of fantasy into this kick-ass Kung-fu tragedy.
Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #4

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #4

  • Magneto #6 (Marvel): Bunn’s Magneto–and his approach to piecing the vengeful mutant’s story together–has been attractive on a very singular level. Who needs layers, right? Not Bunn; not here. And his decision to keep it simple–employing steely page turns to great effect along the way–has been the key to his making Magneto a must read. #5, however, crashed into a cliche. Hope things return to normal here.
  • Miracleman #8 (Marvel): Still sitting on 5-7. Derek’s been raving about them. I’ll get around to ‘em eventually.
  • Moon Knight #5 (Marvel): Thanks to Warren Ellis’s vision, Moon Knight‘s been weird and fun, smart and exciting. It’s also been a showcase for Declan Shalvey, as Ellis has allowed him to do some top-notch visual storytelling. #4 was particularly weird, and in its weirdness offered up some terrific transitions in the mindscape and ended emphatically on an abrupt note, one that reminds of Terry Moore’s sudden endings on Rachel Rising. Moon Knight is so much better than anything Dark Knight right now. I hope that the coming change in creative team doesn’t change that.
  • Rocket Raccoon #1 (Marvel): I’m gonna give it a shot because Derek said he’s giving it a shot on the strength of Skottie Young.
Rocket Raccoon #1

Rocket Raccoon #1

  • Caliban #4 (Avatar): I’ve enjoyed it enough for what it is: a Sci-Fi horror story with some grisly moments–see the end of #3–a la Avatar. Ennis’s writing keeps the story moving, even if it doesn’t necessarily help one differentiate among the characters; in that, his ensemble cast, so far, anyway, lacks star power. Not typical of Ennis.
  • Extinction Parade: War #1 (Avatar): It’s been a while since the first arc ended. Might have to freshen up before going to war.
  • Quantum and Woody #12 (Valiant): #10 earned a spot in our Top 5 for May because it came together on so many levels to create a terrific character study of the wild and wonderful Woody. #11 was a strong follow up with some real hot dogging by James Asmus, who has established himself as one of the best funny businessmen in comics. Hard to believe this book–at least this iteration–is coming to a close. Reason to be excited: the team-up with Archer and Armstrong. Van Lente and Asmus together on the same book? Readers may literally die from laughing so hard.
Quantum and Woody #12

Quantum and Woody #12

  • The Twilight Zone #6 (Dynamite): #5 drew us into another part of the world Straczynski created during the first arc. A much less interesting part of the world. Look out for the heavy hand!
  • Uber #15 (Avatar): I always look forward to reading Gillen’s Uber because it’s never a difficult read and because something remarkable always happens to force the story forward. What more can one ask for? Also of note: it’s very different stylistically from The Wicked & The Divine. That one read like a Hickman book. I know his latest offering is only one issue in, but as of now, I prefer what he’s doing with Uber.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

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