What’s I&N Store (9/17)

Being a bit choosy this week, but maybe not choosy enough in some spots.

  • Batman & Robin Future’s End #1 (DC): It’ll be in my bag, but I couldn’t care less.  If that makes me a heretic, so be it.
  • The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1 (DC): With The Multiversity #1, Grant Morrison effectively dangled a Captain Carrot on a stick and for that and a multitude of other reasons I’m going to follow him–and artist Chris Sprouse–to the ends of the Earth–in this case, Earth-20.
The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1

The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1

  • Wonder Woman Future’s End #1 (DC): Same as B&R.  One good thing as I peer into the future: my relationship with Future’s End ends with these two titles.
  • Clone #20 (Image): I’m still hanging onto the cliff, baby!  These guys know how to build tension and expectations, and aren’t afraid to “go there.”  In that, it’s not unlike Saga.  As consistent a book as you’re going to find.
Clone #20

Clone #20

  • Satellite Sam #10 (Image): #9 was a strong issue from every angle.  I know that Sex Criminals gets more attention, but it’s masturbation compared to this orgy of compelling characters and taut storylines.
  • Stray Bullets: Killers #7 (Image): We’ve been kinda down on the reload since a .44 caliber Magnumicent first shot, which we named our #1 book of March.  #5–the return of Amy Racecar–was fun, but it failed to satisfy.  #6, however…  OK, so, for just about the entire issue, I felt as if I were reading #2 or #3 or #4; and I wasn’t excited about it–until the final page.  THAT’S what I’m talking about, Mr. Lapham!  That’s Stray Bullets, baby!  And, darn it, I’m going to fight for its being represented in our Top 5 for August.  It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to try.
Stray Bullets: Killers #7

Stray Bullets: Killers #7

  • Trees #5 (Image): Speaking of a lack of excitement: ugh.  It’s like watching a tree grow.  A really boring tree.  What I should do is prune it from my picks.  Probably won’t, though.
  • The Wicked & The Divine #4 (Image): I liked #2, but I loved #3.  Yeah, I had my doubts at first; but now Gillen’s got me good.  Toss in some terrific art from McKelvie (lovely layouts, splashes, and double-page spreads) and wow, wow, wow!  Another book that deserves to be in our Top 5 list for August.  I’ll do my best to fight for it.
The Wicked & The Divine #4

The Wicked & The Divine #4

  • All-New X-Men #32 (Marvel): I’m getting nervous about the Ultimate storyline.  Damn, man!  If you’ve been following along, then you know I’ve been really enjoying All-New–when I’ve been able to get it, of course.  This could very easily kill it for me.  (I don’t want it to kill it for me!)
  • Daredevil #8 (Marvel): #7 wasn’t very good.  Is Original Sin to blame?  Or is the bigger sin Waid’s turning DD into a monthly PSA?  Instead of being excited about the next issue, I’m thinking more about what issue Waid’ll focus on next.  Not where I should be.  For example: #8 offers up a new “menace”: the Purple Children.  So, where are we headed?  Homelessness?  Adoption?  Child abuse?  It’s getting to be so forced, so processed, ham handedness just doesn’t speak to it–it’s more like Spam handedness.
  • Original Sin #5.5 (Marvel): Here’s the real truth: the first .4 issues of this misguided diversion have been underwhelming and painfully obvious.  Why have I bothered?  Well, I bet on Al Ewing and Loki–and lost.  Should’ve listened to you, Derek!
  • Uncanny X-Men #26 (Marvel): #25 was an overpriced, forced effort that was more transition than climax.  I don’t know what’s happened.  I finally gave myself over to Bendis and I get this and All-New #31?  OK, so, the cover’s cool.  Would say we have a plethora of Cyclopses?
Uncanny X-Men #26

Uncanny X-Men #26

  • The Delinquents #2 (Valiant): #1 was fun but just not as fun as I had hoped it’d be–especially considering the star power in charge of this light brigade.  Sure, we’re only one issue in, but it’s kinda clear: Asmus and Van Lente are neither the Archer & Armstrong nor the Quantum and Woody of writing teams.  Highlight: Kano’s artwork!  No surprise: the guy can sell a story–even one forced into being–with the best of ‘em.
  • The Last Broadcast #5 (Archaia/BOOM!): There’s nothing nonchalant about the way these fellas tell a story. Yeah, this book’s about to Doyle over!  Plenty of threads have been spun together; can’t wait to untie them!
The Last Broadcast #5

The Last Broadcast #5

  • The Life After #3 (Oni):  I’ve enjoyed the casting of Hemingway as Virgil in this Truman Show for suicides.  The Christ twist at the end of #2 was made tolerable by a plugged-in–and brazen–presentation of God.  I’m intrigued.
  • The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead #2 (Oni): Starting a new Sixth Gun pile!
  • The Devilers #3 (Dynamite): Not sure if I’m long for this.   It’s fine for what it is; I’m just not sure if I need it.

Avery’s Pick of the Week:

  • Scribblenauts Unmasked: A Crisis of Imagination #9: Avery’s gonna be excited to get a hold of her favorite comic from Josh Elder and Adam Archer!  But she ain’t gonna be happy that this is the end of the Scribblenauts.  Poor baby!
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A Crisis of Imagination #9

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A Crisis of Imagination #9

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

Image

Superhero Friday!

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My wife–Lee bless her–went out to pick up some new clothes for the girls and instead came home with this:

To me, my t-shirt!

To me, my t-shirt!

Poor kids!  Running around in their diapers while I’m busy showing off my all-new Superhero Friday shirt.

Oh, well!  That’s my X-wife for ya!

I’m telling you: this woman could find a superhero t-shirt at an Asian grocery.  It’s uncanny!

Who are you wearing today?

Turning pages,

Scott

 

What’s I&N Store (9/10)

Yeah, so, I haven’t even finished last weeks books.  Thanks, work!

  • Astro City #15 (DC/Vertigo):In #14,  Kurt Busiek offered up a mechanical mystery in the style we’ve come to expect.  Liked Ellie right away and hated seeing her get taken advantage of.  That’s something Busiek is very good at: creating sympathetic characters in a finger snap.  Looking ahead: I’m already anticipating the twist–meaning: I’m pretty sure I know how this is going to play out.
  • Copperhead #1 (Image): Another sci-fi Western?  Oh, why the hell not?  Hickman and Dragotta’s East of West–also out this week–is excellent; Spurrier and Stokely’s Six-Gun Gorilla–a new classic–was one of the best books of 2013.  Wonder what Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski have in store for us?  Will it show up in the square at high noon, or will it hightail its way out of town?
  • East of West #15 (Image): Still running at a very high level.  Love Dragotta’s Lovecraftian creatures, which really pop with horrific elegance.
East of West #15

East of West #15

  • Lazarus #11 (Image): #10 found Jonah Carlyle having a whale of a time in Hock territory.  He sure got a taste of his own medicine, didn’t he?  Tasted a lot like Jakob Hock’s medicine, which was forced down his throat, no doubt.
Lazarus #11

Lazarus #11

  • Sheltered #11 (Image): This book is pissing me off.  I’m so damn conflicted!  I really don’t want to read it anymore; but, at the same time, I want to know how the whole thing plays out.  I guess I could always thumb through it at the shop or ask a friend.  Or just keep buying it.
  • Velvet #7 (Image): Super-solid storytelling all the way around from Brubaker and Epting.  Doesn’t have the one-punch knockout power of Fatale, but certainly racks up points round after round.
  • Hawkeye #20 (Marvel): Re: #19: How do two follow up an issue of such deafening power?  Answer: they don’t!  Instead, we get another patented Hawkeye fill-in issue with Annie Wu.   Lucky for us, the fill-ins are generally pretty good.
  • Magneto #9 (Marvel): The last two issues haven’t lived up to expectations–mainly because they’ve played out just as expected.  Sure, a fully powered Magneto’d be attractive; but I’d like to see Bunn working at full power, too.
Magneto #9

Magneto #9

  • Ms. Marvel #8 (Marvel): The last two issues of Ms. Marvel have been pretty terrible. If this one doesn’t remind me of the reasons I fell in love with Kamala in the first place, I’m out.  (See that: it took only two issues to change my tune about this book.)  Big plus–huge plus: Adrian Alphona is back.
  • The United States of Murder #5 (Marvel/Icon): I’ve enjoyed the series a lot more than I thought I would.  Bendis is sitting right in the pocket; he’s playing toward his strength and delivering.  Highlight of #4: a couple of to-die-for double-page spreads from Oeming.
  • Annihilator #1 (Legendary): Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving?  Yes, please.
Annihilator #1

Annihilator #1

  • Archer & Armstrong #24 (Valiant): “American Wasteland” was about as good as it gets–and not just for A&A, mind you.  Karl Bollers assumes writing duties for an issue with a nice assassin; that’s right: Mary-Maria takes center stage for the first time.  And I’m thinking, as you are: it’s filler time.
  • Black Market #3 (BOOM!): #2 was OK; it suffered from having to necessarily follow up a fantastic first issue, which found me actually–and surprisingly–liking Barbiere’s writing.  I know, right?  The second installment, however, reminded me of why I had reservations going in.  Got a little rough.  What kept me from completely losing interest was Victor Santos’s art, which reminds of Mateus Santolouco, Jeff Stokely, Michael Avon Oeming, and Vanesa Del Rey all at once.  Nice company.  Despite the drop off on the writing side, I’m going to stick it out to the end.
Black Market #3

Black Market #3

  • The Bunker #6 (Oni): The Bunker has been really, really good.
  • Caliban #6 (Avatar): “It’s going to be okay”?  Really?  What are the odds of that?  Unless, of course, San goes full Ripley on the alien’s ass.  That’d be plenty okay by me.
  • Dawn/Vampirella #1 (Dynamite): There’s no way around it: Linsner‘s Sin Boldly was a disappointment.  Sure, Linsner’s art is gorgeous, but his writing’s always been tough to swallow.  Leaves me wondering if I should just let this one go.  Would be out of character, of course, considering the fact that I’ve got just about everything Dawn going back twenty-five years.
  • Magnus: Robot Fighter #6 (Dynamite): Re: #5: a nice marriage of action and intrigue.  Sure, there was no reason to doubt Van Lente, but still: this series has been a pleasant surprise.
  • Stumptown Vol. 3 #1 (Oni): Double your Rucka, double your comic book fun!  Will never forget Vol. 2 #4 with its stunning car chase that quite literally had me turning pages.  Hoping for similar high notes this time around.
Stumptown Vol. 3 #1

Stumptown Vol. 3 #1

  • Terminal Hero #2 (Dynamite): Liked #1 enough to go another round.  It wasn’t a perfect premier issue by any stretch.  (I can’t help but think of Peter Milligan pulling pantyhose over his head.  A single issue isn’t meant to have so much story shoved inside!)  If the pacing improves, I’ll stick around.  If not, I’m out.
  • Thomas Alsop #4 (BOOM!): The series has been straight-up great.  One of my favorites.  We loved #2 enough to name it one of our Top 5 Books of July; and #3 was also very strong.  Can’t wait to rock out with Chris Miskiewicz and Palle Schmidt again!
Thomas Alsop #4

Thomas Alsop #4

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

What’s I&N Store (9/3)

Back to work tomorrow!  Best way to make up for it?  Comics!

  • The Names #1 (DC/Vertigo): Peter Milligan’s plate is filling up quickly.  Good for him–better for us.  Here, he’s offering up a recent widow who’s taking in the likes of George Soros and Warren Buffet.  That’s a premise even they can’t devalue!
  • The Squidder #3 (IDW): Templesmith’s art is terrific.  It’s worth the price of admission.  Doesn’t hurt that he’s also doing a fine job on the writing side of things.  Sure, the story’s a familiar one, but he’s making his take on it an exciting one all the way around.  I like Jack a lot.  He reminds me of Costner’s Mariner from Waterworld, but as played by Bruce Willis or Jason Statham.  (It’s funny: I don’t usually imagine actors in roles when I read comics.  Wonder what it is about this one?)
The Squidder #3

The Squidder #3

  • God Hates Astronauts #1 (Image): Billed as a jumping on point for those of us who failed to jump on Ryan Browne’s GHA the first time around.  So, what the hell–Geronimo!
  • Sidekick #8 (Image): Flyboy can’t–or chooses not to–rise above the betrayal he’s suffered at the hands of Red Cowl, his mentor; he’s been wronged and he’s ready to return in kind.  I’ve been down on much of what J.M.S. has been pumping out, but I’m digging this one.  He’s clicking with cliché in a meaningful way and delivering a dark twist without coming off as played or playful.
Sidekick #8

Sidekick #8

  • Southern Bastards #4 (Image): Got me a hankerin’ for some ribs–and another issue of Aaron and Latour’s Southern Bastards, especially now that football season is upon us.  Speaking of: I particularly enjoyed how Coach Boss bounced between putting together a game plan to deal with Winthrop’s no-huddle offense and coming up with a strategy to deal with the equally as challenging offense of the stick-swinging Earl Tubb.
  • Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #6 (Marvel): #5 didn’t quite live up to the standard set by an excellent #4 (really, how could it have?), but it still kicked all sorts of ass: Kaare Andrew’s writing is lively and engaging, and his art is so ridiculously detailed and kinetic, especially as he draws out more of Danny’s backstory, setting up further his current conflict.  One of my favorite monthly reads.
Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #6

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #6

  • Miracleman #10 (Marvel): I’m finally all caught up–and I want Moore!  Damn thing is brilliant.  If I had only read it when it first came out…
  • Moon Knight #7 (Marvel): What a way to end a run! #6 is a brilliant bridge–even if it is a bit smug.  Trent–a disgruntled beat officer–tries to take out and replace Moon Knight, but he fails pretty epically.  Of course he does: Moon Knight is perfect in all he does–which mirrors the perfection of Ellis and Shalvey’s storytelling.  Yeah, this Spectre-acular creative team has set the bar pretty damn high, but that doesn’t mean Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood are going to blow (up) their opportunity to make Moon Knight their own.  I’m excited–especially because Wood’s been doing some of our favorite writing of the year on The Massive.
Moon Knight #7

Moon Knight #7

  • Uncanny X-Men #25 (Marvel): #24 fell a bit flat: Kris Anka’s art wasn’t enough to elevate an issue that doesn’t really go anywhere.  I knew–I just knew!–that this damn Original Sin crossover would put a crack in my newfound faith in X-Bendis.  With Bachalo back on board, maybe this issue will crackle and uncannily spackle the aforementioned fissure.  That wouldn’t make up for the fact that #24 was more or less $4 filler.
  • Cloaks #1 (BOOM!): I don’t know the creators (Caleb Monroe and Mariano Navarro), but I’m willing to give it a shot in hopes that they’re making some magic a la another BOOM!/Archaia book: The Last Broadcast, which has been so very good.
Cloaks #1

Cloaks #1

  • The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage #1 (Valiant): A couple of draws here: it’s a Valiant #1, and I’m excited about artist Roberto De La Torre, who did some de la terrific work on Shadowman.
  • Ex-Con #1 (Dynamite): I liked Duane Swierczynski’s work on Bloodshot enough to try this out.  (Brought the same attitude to X, however, which I dropped pretty quickly.)
  • Extinction Parade: War #3 (Avatar): As I mentioned last month: this is good stuff!  In #2, Brooks brings some beauty and musicality to the zombie massacre by unveiling a heady dance of death, which is delivered in great detail by the undaunted Raulo Caceres.
Extinction Parade: War #3

Extinction Parade: War #3

  • The Twilight Zone #8 (Dynamite): This brings the second arc–which has played second fiddle to the first one–to a close.  Hasn’t been a disappointment, but also hasn’t excited, which may leave the series on the chopping block.  This one’ll have to blow me away to keep me around.
  • Über #17 (Avatar): Gotta give Gillen a hand: my heart sank when Vernon sank, even though I knew things weren’t going to work out for him.  Got too warm and fuzzy; something bad had to happen.  Even still, Gillen got me feelin’ pretty quickly; but then just as quickly, he had me forgetting, which is what made Vernon’s hand breaking through the surface of the water that much more impactful.
Über #17

Über #17

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

The Top 5 Books of July

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This was one stacked month of comics. Consider: our #1 book from last month (Silver Surfer), despite another strong outing, didn’t crack the Top 5 this time out. Also, only one of the titles below has been featured on our hallowed list before (having been, at different times, praised and damned – see below). This speaks to the veritable title wave of new, quality work being produced in this, the New Golden Age of Comics.

#5. Bodies #1 (DC/Vertigo): Brit scribe Si Spencer–whose ambition is clearly as vaulting as a well-known Shakespearean Thane-in-the-neck–has brazenly pieced together a primo pastiche of disparate eras and artists–including a Murderers’ Row of Meghan Hetrick, Dean Ormston, Tula Lotay, and Phil Winslade–and in doing so has Doyle-d up a Holmes-ian mystery multiplied by four.  Sure, the transitions from one time period to the next are as harsh as a head on collision, but it’s entirely understandable because so is the seemingly singular homicide that links one Longharvest Lane crime scene to the next.  Lee Loughridge’s colors, too, help to both draw a distinction and create a connection among the settings, the latter established by his use of a clichéd shade of red, which is hinted at by the blood splatter on Fiona Stephenson’s vintage–and ironically vivacious–cover.  Bodies #1 is a killer first issue that executes an experimental exposition that could’ve easily succumbed to redundancy, but instead rises effortlessly to the level of required reading. (SC)

Bodies #1

Bodies #1

#4. Cap’n Dinosaur (one-shot) (Image): MORE! FUN! COMICS! Cap’n Dinosaur is just what any jaded comic book reader needs: sublime silliness distilled through a love of classic super hero tropes. A synopsis of the plot would be futile, and pointless besides (just take a gander at the cover!) Suffice it to say that writer Kek-W and artist Shaky Kane have cooked up a kooky confection of pure comic-y goodness. Kane’s absurdist Silver-Age aesthetic seems to bring out the best in his collaborators (as evidenced by another recent Image one-shot, That’s Because You’re a Robot, with writer David Quantick – also worth a look). In particular, Kane seems to inspire writers to release their buried id in order to keep up with his lunatic visions, in much the same way that Mike Allred does. In fact, with his timeless, retro style, anarchic non-sequiturs and surreal approach to pop culture, I’d say that if Mike Allred and (comic genius) Michael Kupperman had a baby, it would be Shaky Kane. So I guess what I’m saying is: Mike Allred and Michael Kupperman should have babies….Oh, just buy this book! (DM)

Cap'n Dinosaur

Cap’n Dinosaur

#3. Thomas Alsop #2 (BOOM!): The Mage. The Mystic. That mysterious Master of the Dark Arts, guarding the thin veil that protects our reality from the nefarious nether-worlds. Such figures have constituted their own archetype in comics since at least Mandrake the Magician. Curious then, that they have been underrepresented in the current comics scene since the demise of the venerated Hellblazer (What’s that you say? There’s a comic called Constantine featuring the same character? Sorry, never heard of it.) Poised to step into those considerable loafers is one Thomas Alsop. And by “step” I mean “stagger, covered in his own vomit.” Conjured from the aether by writer Chris Miskiewicz and artist Palle Schmidt, the titular magician (and voracious abuser of all sorts of substances), possesses a nice insouciance, equal parts debounair and depraved, that provides a necessary (gin and) tonic to the severity of the grave matters at hand (all puns and in-jokes are very much intended). Calling himself a “Supernatural Detective”, he shills his skills on his own reality television show (what else?). This however, is largely a cover (albeit one that pays handsomely) for his more serious work as protector of New York City. But that is not all the creators have up their sleeves; adding complexity is the story of Thomas’ ancestor Richard, the first magical protector of New York, and the dark secret that links past and present. And more still: this being very much a tale of New York, Miskiewicz has, very bravely I think, interwoven the 9/11 tragedy into his story. No small risk that, especially amidst all the fun and games. But he and Schmidt have, so far, accorded it the respectful tone it requires. All in all, this brew, seemingly light and frothy, is a lot more heady than at first it seems. Another round! (DM)

Thomas Alsop #2

Thomas Alsop #2

#2. Life With Archie #36 (Archie): Paul Kupperberg and Co.’s chocolate soda brought all the boys and girls–including yours truly–to the comic shop, and damn right it’s better than than all but one of July’s releases.  Yeah, this book–with the help of mainstream media coverage–absolutely blew up.  And I–like many other non-Archie readers–was caught in the blast radius; so even though I hadn’t touched as much as an Archie Comics Digest in 30-plus years, I just had to have it!  Mind you, this was no ordinary ordinance; this was a nostalgia bomb–one that made me feel welcome in Riverdale despite my being, for all intents and purposes, a complete stranger.

Writer Kupperberg and artists Pat and Tim Kennedy (pencils), Jim Amash (inks), and Glenn Whitmore (colors) put Archie on a path through his past, present, and future–in a lead up to the not-so-shock ending–and as I followed I was struck by just how good Archie is; in, fact, he’s not unlike Superman in his Boy Scout-ish goodness.  In the end, however, he is simply a man: he can’t fly or see through walls; he’s not bulletproof; and his sacrifice leaves us all lamenting the death of that perfect innocence embodied by Archie Andrews–which is made more affective not by the amount of blood about Archie’s body but by the final image of a chocolate soda with three straws having been knocked over during the fracas, its figurative innocence–established on a playful first page–left to melt and spill to the floor.

More that that, really, I was surprised by how good the journey through Archie’s life made me feel.  Gosh, it made me wish more than once that we could all be Archies and Jugheads and Bettys and Veronicas–that all joy could be shared and problems solved over a chocolate soda with three straws. What a world it’d be!  It was an experience I did not expect.  I had initially planned to thumb through the thing and stick it in a bag.  Who knew that “every bit of it [would] just [feel] like home”? (SC)

Life With Archie #36

Life With Archie #36

#1. Zero #9 (Image): Sonuvabitch. As you might have surmised, we here at I&N read a LOT of comics. With so much new product coming out each month, we not only have to decide which titles are worth our time, but also which titles are no longer cutting the mustard. Zero, Ales Kot’s minimalist gut-punch of a spy thriller, in particular has been quite the roller coaster ride, and not always in a good way. After naming it one of our Top Ten Books of 2013 for its innovation and unpredictability, it promptly took a nosedive, as unpredictability gave way to incoherence. In fact, it was only a couple of months ago that the previous issue (#8) was named our Biggest Dis(appointment) of the month. So yeah, this book was on the chopping block.

And then Kot does this. Set in the midst of the Bosnian War, Zero #9 tells a tale from Roman Zizek’s past. Zizek is Zero’s mentor, an American black ops agent, and a war profiteer. Unsurprisingly, he’s a double-dealer of the first order. Already knee-deep in subterfuge and complicit in some of the worst atrocity in recent history, he also has a Bosnian girlfriend who is pregnant, victimized by the war. And things go from there.

Artist Tonci Zonjic deserves special mention as his storytelling manages to be atmospheric, clean, and cartoony (in the classic sense), perfectly setting the tone with a style reminiscent of early Mazzuchelli. And Jordie Bellaire’s muted hues, perfectly navigating between harsh reality and precious memory, are, as always, flawless.

A cursory look at the news will tell you that the world is rife with new, terrible things happening every day. So much so, that the horrors of even the recent past quickly get buried. Rare is the comic that can successfully mine such tragic events for its own fictive purposes, while also shining a light on those so easily forgotten or ignored (Joshua Dysart’s Unknown Soldier comes to mind). Rarer still, one that can do so with such spare, awful beauty. With this issue, Kot and Co. have not only banished any thought of dropping this vital book; they’ve produced one of the most powerful, resonant stories of the year. (DM)

Zero #9

Zero #9

The Biggest Dis(appointment): Robin Rises: Omega #1 (DC): I’ve been pretty vocal in my support of Peter J. Tomasi’s Batman and Whoever, especially in light of its being overshadowed by the over-hyped and underwhelming Snyder books.  (I even told Mr. Tomasi as much when I met him at the 2013 NYCC.  He seemed mildly appreciative.)  Tomasi did a commendable job of following in Grant Morrison’s footsteps, when it seemed that others had no use for them–until now, that is.  Ah, and therein lies the disappointment.  This book, which starts off well enough with a Damien-Robin retrospective, descends into a chaotic disaster of day-old dialogue and stumbles–despite some solid work from Andy Kubert, Jonathan Glapion, and Brad Anderson–into a terminally anemic battle scene–an epic game of casket keep away–that only ends because it eventually reaches its $4.99 price-point page limit.  To make matters worse, it turns out that Batman’s going to have to go BOOM! if he wants to get Robin back; that’s right: he’s headed to DC’s dark side–and, boy, I’d punch Tomasi in his pursed Mother-Boxing Apokolips if I were to ever see him again for going so against the Wayne with his choice of settings for the next rung on the way toward Robin’s return.  (Heck, whom am I fooling?  I’d probably say, “Hey, Mr. Tomasi!  Love your work!  I can’t wait to see what you have in store for…Superman/Wonder Woman!”  And he’d probably be mildly appreciative.)  The New God-darned piece of shard is so distressingly disappointing that I’m seriously considering giving up entirely on Batman and Robin–no, seriously–which would leave me Bat-less for the first time since I jumped into The New 52.  Well, there’s always Moon Knight…(SC)

Robin Rises: Omega #1

Robin Rises: Omega #1

Turning pages,

Derek & Scott

What’s I&N Store (8/27)

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This week isn’t defined so much by the number of books I’m getting as it’s defined by one particular book I’m getting.  You’ll know which one when you get to it.  So much for self control!

  • The Massive #26 (Dark Horse): Winding down to the end.  (I’m still in denial about it, mind you.)  #25 was OK–tough to be the first issue after an arc that truly slakes the thirst like “Sahara”–but had that “setting up the wind down” feel to it.  Silver lining: answers are on the horizon.
  • Mind MGMT #25 (Dark Horse): Can’t type about #24 without first mentioning the gorgeous wraparound cover–which, by the way, was won at auction by some lucky fan for a smidgen over $5000: I got Lyme disease just looking at it!  Inside, a bit of a retrospective, more a Rosetta Stone–all through the lens of Henry Lyme, who’s heart is so lovingly revealed–and it’s Merutiful!.  Loved it.  OK, so, the big question about this month’s issue: how much is this cover going to go for?
Mind MGMT #25

Mind MGMT #25

  • Pop #1 (Dark Horse):This poppy premise is definitely Top 40: a prefabbed pop princess goes off the reservation!  Will she auto-tune her way out of trouble?  Or will she go full Milli Vanilli?  Don’t know the creators, but when has that ever stopped me?  Here’s hoping that Curt Pires and Jason Copland deliver a hit–and that they’re not one-hit wonders.
Pop #1

Pop #1

  • Bodies #2 (DC/Vertigo): Loved, loved, loved the quilt that Si Spencer stitched together with his coterie of co-creators.  We liked it so much that we’ve made it one of our Top 5 Books of July!  (Write-up to come.)
Bodies #2

Bodies #2

  • Dead Boy Detectives #8 (DC/Vertigo): Continues to be an engaging read a la The Books of Magic ongoing.
  • Superman #34 (DC): Finally!  A Superman book worth reading!  It’s felt like forever since Morrison left and took his massive moments with him.  Two issues into their arc, Johns and Romita, Jr. have proven that they are worthy successors–even if they are a bit more straightforward in terms of storytelling.
  • The Last Fall #2 (IDW): Wasn’t knocked out by #1, but I’m going to try another.  Why?  Since you asked: I’m giving Tom Waltz my attention because of his terrific work on TMNT.  I’m loyal like that.
  • Low #2 (Image): Not high on this but not exactly low, either.  Yes, #1 read like a Remender book; but Greg Tocchini’s art, which is pretty excellent, made me think but not mind that I was basically reading The Wake Part II #1.  I’m going to go against my better judgement and buy this one.  I don’t know–maybe this’ll be the book that finally turns me toward Remender.  Then again, the writer’s own words from #1 haunt–and taunt–me; they are essentially telling me to lay off: “Being optimistic doesn’t mean you have to ignore the realities around you.”  Preach, Reverend Rick.  Preach.
Low #2

Low #2

  • The Manhattan Projects #23 (Image): In #22, Hickman refers to a “line between the mundane and the divine.”  Usually, TMP is firmly planted on the divine side; it’s as consistent a book as you’re going to find.  However, much of #22 toes that ironically referenced line; in fact, it does a much-too-talky tip-toe dance for a goodly part of the book.  But, in typical Hickman fashion, it ends elegantly on pointe.  And blade.  And spike.
  • Outcast #3 (Image): The story is compelling enough, with its layers and all.  Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta–whose art, as colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, reminds of David Aja’s–have done a fine job of developing a sense of dread–you know, the seventh sense–and authentic sympathy for Kyle.
  • Saga #22 (Image): Honesty: #19 and #20 left me a bit wanting; yeah, hadn’t been feeling so gaga about Saga–until #21, that is.  Oof, what a comeback.  (Not so much for Mama Sun, though, eh?)  Five big splashes from Fiona Staples help hammer home the love, the hate, the hurt–the brilliance—of Saga.
Saga #22

Saga #22

  • Wayward #1 (Image): Marketed as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a new generation,” but gonna give it a try anyway.  God knows I love a me a good “supernatural spectacle,” you know, like the supernaturally terrific Thomas Alsop (BOOM!).
  • All-New X-Men #31 (Marvel): Still haven’t gotten a hold of #30.  Figures that just as I came around to what Bendis is doing I can’t find the damn book on the shelf.  My fault, I guess.  I should’ve put it on my pull list as soon as things turned toward the positive for me.
  • Original Sin #5.4 (Marvel): Once again, a crossover has come along and murdered momentum–in the case of Loki: Agent of Asgard, magical momentum.  It’s been nice to look at; otherwise, I can’t wait for this nonsense to fall away so we can get back on the alluringly loqucious Lokimotive.
  • Silver Surfer #5 (Marvel): We’ve celebrated each of the first three issues as a top book of the month.  (See: March, April, and June.)  #4 was great, too; but, because of all of the greater books that dropped in July, it missed being a Top 5 book.  It was easily a Top 10 title, though.  Despite a dignified drop in the I&N rankings, one thing’s been a constant: SS has been a perfect marriage of writer and artist: Slott’s writing the new adventures of Norrin Radd like it was his professional destiny, and Allred’s, well, Allred: he is the power cosmic complement who makes the book pop–for as long as they both shall live.  Or at least until their hang-tenure is over.
Silver Surfer #5

Silver Surfer #5

  • Brass Sun #4 (2000 A.D.): I’m digging Brass Sun.  I like the possibilities offered up by the universe that Ian Edginton’s created, and I’ve really taken to artist I.N.J. Culbard’s approach and how carries the story without ever distracting from it.  #3, with its twists and spurns, has kicked things up a notch.  On to the next!
  • Evil Empire #4 (BOOM!): Speaking of a #3 that delivered some twists!  Glad I didn’t ditch after #2!  Can’t look past the great covers by Jay Shaw, either.  Then again, you have to, you know, if you want to read the book.  Rest assured: it’s OK if you want to judge Evil Empire by this cover:
Evil Empire #4

Evil Empire #4

  • The Sixth Gun #42 (Oni Press): Still a bit behind.  This’ll sit on a short stack, which I will–i must–read before I go back to work.
  • X-O Manowar #28 (Valiant): Generally, I don’t care for crossovers, but the Armor Hunters diversion works well here, for obvious reasons.  Sure, Archer & Armstrong and Quantum and Woody deserve the accolades they’ve received.  (Harvey noms are nothing to sneeze at.)  Robert Venditti, however, deserves a lot of credit for playing a one-note character into a symphony of sympathy, which has lasted, now, for twenty-eight issues.

Avery’s Pick of the Week:

  • Bee and Puppycat #3 (BOOM!): Avery just thinks that Bee and Puppycat is the dog’s meow.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

I&N Review: Wynter #1

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Here’s something to do on a quiet evening alone, you know, with the kids asleep and the wife snuggled up on the other end of the couch with her iPad, her face aglow with the shiny promise of Pinterest pins: pick a pair of authors and imagine a literary love affair–one that results in some form of fictional offspring, which you’d describe in great detail, of course, to yourself, of course, because the wife is still busy pinning away on her end of the couch.  Let’s try a quick, not-at-all random round: What kind of child would result from the objectively insane coupling of notorious party girl Ayn Rand and futurist Casanova Philip K. Dick?  She’d be special, that’s for sure; and she’d have a hell of a story to tell–one probably a lot like New Worlds Comics’ Wynter #1, a thought-provoking and visually stunning sci-fi spectacle from writer Guy Hasson and artist Aron Elekes.

Wynter #1

Wynter #1

Liz Wynter, the teenaged protagonist of this data-driven dystopian vision, is herself driven by a singular desire: to be an individual–to be special–in a world that is coded to corral such wayward thoughts, with the powers-that-be wielding drugs and ubiquitous technology as means to achieve their soul-crushing end.  She spends the entirety of the issue wandering the city with a Holden-esque compass, wondering where she might find that sliver of self amongst the oppressive numbers spouted out unsympathetically by the voice in her head, the aptly named Liz, a con of a conscience, a rewired superego meant to keep her in check, to keep her thinking she’s like everyone else, thus making her just like everyone else–not unlike the devices heaped upon Harrison Bergeron, the doomed hero of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story of the same name.  Hasson’s hitting familiar notes makes Liz an easy character to root for, even if she is as cold as her name implies.  See: we instinctively know that the thaw will come as the Promethean flame born of an unbridled ego burns through the layers of ice that have frozen her will; and the final reveal–timed just right–clearly provides the spark that’ll set the tinder alight.

Bringing it all together, lifting the story from the effectively familiar to the level of something special, is Elekes’ digitally painted art, which, from page one, captures the prevailing tone of shadowy dissatisfaction and, at the same time, serves up a certain sensuousness, with specially affected textures–seen specifically in the folds of Liz’s loyal red scarf–that transcend the page.  If I’m comparing–and I most assuredly am–Elekes’ figures remind of Fiona Staples’ (Saga), just with considerably more depth; and I can’t help but think of Clayton Crain’s fully-painted work on Rai, which, while unquestionably beautiful, suffers–as Wynter does–from being much too static, a shade too stiff.  Ekeles’ makes up for it, though, with his layouts, which inject some energy into the narrative, especially as he, at times, emphatically eschews traditional paneling and, by doing so, puts a premium on every page turn.

One page turn, however, left me shaking my head in disappointment.  I mean, I don’t want to make a federal case out of it, but I was immediately taken out of the story during a brief courtroom scene in which the well-rendered countenance of a celebrity judge makes an unexpected–and unwelcome–appearance.  No, really: it’s quite shocking!  I’m sure it’s meant to be silly, to bring some levity to an otherwise dour story; but considering the effectiveness of the dourness, in particular, I have to object!

What I can’t object to is what Wynter as a whole brings to the table–err, tablet: a compelling main character, who is both familiar and relatable, and a unique visual experience that isn’t too soon forgotten.  With that as my takeaway, I’m definitely down for another issue.  In fact, if I had a Pinterest account, I’d pin the damn thing, without hesitation, to a board dedicated to independent comics that happen to get it right.

And my wife, who just so happens to be under a blanket at the other end of the couch, her face very much blanched by the bright light of her iPad, is undoubtedly pinning another recipe that she’ll never bother to attempt to her “Too Foodilicious for Ya Babe” board.

Want to read Wynter #1?  Find it on Comixology here.

Visit newworldscomics.com for more information.

Turning pages,

Scott

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Superhero Friday!

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My wife and I watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on pay-per-view Tuesday night.  As ludicrous as some of it was, there was plenty to like, including the opening sequence, the chemistry between Peter and Gwen, and the very end–which drew a tear from this true believer.

He swings and Mrs.

He swings and Mrs.

As the much maligned movie ended, I turned to my wife and asked her what she thought about it.  Her response launched my eyebrows into the hairlineosphere: “I really liked it.  I definitely liked it more than I liked The Avengers–“

“I can see that.”

“–or the last Captain America movie.”

As of now, we’re still married.

You know, for the kids.

Who are you wearing today?

Turning pages,

Scott

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