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Token Post: Non-Comics This Week

Just a quick/token-y post.

This week we got a new Teen Titans animated movie. I first went to Target to get it but balked at the EXTRA-steep price. Found it $3 cheaper at Walmart…which sorta balances out the Tales of the TMNT: Super Shredder pricing.

teen_titans_judas_cotract_package

I think of all the DC animated movies, the only ones I’ve missed the figurines for are the Wonder Woman and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse ones. While nostalgia gives Ted Kord the edge for me in terms of "Favorite Blue Beetle," I can’t deny that I dig Jaime’s version of the costume…

teen_titans_judas_cotract_blue_beetle_figurine

And these darned figurines are a weak spot or "guilty pleasure" for me, they always sucker me for the extra few dollars for this edition of the movies. (Add Gods and Monsters to the list of ones I did not get with a/the figurine).

wild_times_oral_history_of_wildstorm_book

And last for this post, Wild Times: An Oral History of Wildstorm Studios arrived. I’d backed this on Kickstarter a couple months ago and was looking forward to it, and then forgot it with stuff going on in my personal life the last couple weeks…so this was a pleasant arrival.


Hopefully I’ll get to something a little more substantive for tomorrow’s post, but time will tell. I also hope to get to actually watch the Teen Titans movie this weekend…as it does not look like it will happen sooner. As always, though…time will tell!

The ’90s Revisited: Wildstorm Chamber of Horrors #1

wildstorm_chamber_of_horrors_0001Warblade
Story: Ron Marz
Layouts: Bernie Wrightson
Finished Art: Alex Bialy
Colors: Lee Ann Clark
Computer Color: Ominous Color

Lord Emp
Story: Steven Grant
Art: Trevor Scott
Color: Gina Going
Computer Color: Quantum Color

Tapestry
Story: Merv
Pencils: Jason Johnson
Inks: Chris Carlson
Color: Monica Bennett
Computer Color: Ominous Color

Savant
Story:
Jeff Mariotte
Pencils: Tom Raney
Inks: Al Vey
Color: Gina Going
Computer Color: Ominous Color

Framing Pages
Pencils:
Aron Wiesenfeld
Inks: John Beatty, Alex Garner, Al Vey
Color: Monica Bennett
Computer Color: WildStorm Effects, Ominous Color
Production: WildStorm Effects

Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Simon Bisley
Pinup: Jeff Rebner & Richard Friend
Editor: Jonathan Peterson
Editorial Coordinator: Amy Zimand
Cover Date: October, 1995
Cover Price: $3.50

Well, that’s an extremely long list of creator credits for this issue! For purposes of this post, I suppose that’s my fault, as I’m not breaking them up for individual-segment thoughts on writing/art/etc. Because while I read the issue, I quickly realized it’s a collaborative one-off piece…essentially a bunch of characters coming together, hanging out, exchanging stories while doing so…and different creators handling the different parts that are then stitched together into this single comic book.

I found this issue in a quarter-bin, and the main reason it even caught my attention was the "generic" Wildstorm in the title…then drew me in with the Chamber of Horrors bit. Hey, Halloween is almost here, and I haven’t acknowledged October. So I’d thought ok, I’ll get this issue, and maybe read it in time to do a post before Halloween. So here we are.

I know the "high points," or the "bullet points" of Image in the ’90s…and largely consider (personally) that most of what gives "The ’90s" a bad rap in comics IS the Image stuff. And while there’s some nostalgia for me, I’ve yet to really dive in and erase the blind spot so much of ’90s Image still has for me. That said, or as such…I’m not all that familiar with characters in this issue…very few by name, just looking at them. I recognize a few, and a couple others sort of look familiar…but this is a jam piece I fail to appropriately "appreciate," I’m sure.

This issue is–as said–a "jam piece," with 5-6 "creative teams" involved in multiple segments that collectively make up the issue. At its core, characters come together and wind up in their own space at a party, but outside of "authorized space" at the museum that’s hosting them, and are free to tell stories amongst themselves that would not work for a general public. So the characters swap stories about horror situations they’ve found themselves in–from dating/making moves on a body possessed by spiders, to experience with the Salem Witch Trials, to a mirror that led to horrible versions of what should have been one’s best dream.

As a whole, this issue was entertaining enough. Reading it, I simply breezed through–I noticed the visual changes, but the story overall seemed relatively seamless…or at least, nothing jarring that didn’t mesh with the other parts. As said, I’m not familiar enough with any of these characters or individual series to come to the table with any real expectations, so stuff really just "is."

The art’s not bad in and of itself…though I really "see" a lot of ’90s Image in the stuff (considering this IS "’90s Image," that’s to be expected!). For a 25-cent purchase that I had zero real "expectation" for going in…I honestly enjoyed the issue, and it was worth the purchase and reading. Despite the title, and the cover, other than it incidentally being the characters gathering around a Halloween party, this could be "any time," just messed-up situations or "out there" stuff.

I never knew this issue existed, nor sought it out. I wouldn’t say it’s really anything to go to great lengths to acquire…but it’s worth a 25-cent purchase/read-through, and can serve (at least visually) as a sort of "sampler" of stuff being put out at the time.

There’s an ad in the back of the issue for a $30 "chromium" poster version of the cover…which makes me wonder if there might be a "chromium" version of this issue out there somewhere. If there is, I obviously haven’t seen it. The cover image gives me a bit of deja-vu…so perhaps I’ve seen it before without consciously taking it in; maybe I’ve seen the poster; maybe just the ad. (Or perhaps there’s some promotional trading card from Wizard with this image on it that I’ve seen).

Though titled Chamber of Horrors…you could definitely find worse horrors than this issue.

Astro City (2013) #2 [Review]

Astro City (2013) #2Welcome to HumanoGlobal

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Published by: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

$3.99 sucks. I’m really, really very tired of this price point. I think I’m going to keep making sure that’s extremely well-documented in these reviews and other blog posts until I eventually give up on new comics altogether.

That said, if you’re going to pay $3.99 for a single issue of a comic, there are few better series out there than Astro City. Even when you don’t know what the issue will be about or it deviates from the previous issue or whatever…it’s hard not to look back on a given issue without a bit of a smile and some disbelief at how much it was enjoyed and sheds different light on superhero stuff typically taken for granted or outright not often considered.

This issue focuses on a new employee of a hotline–said hotline turns out to be for a call center that weeds out the truly important calls for the Honor Guard, and in other cases outright makes connections allowing Honor Guard to be sent after villains/terrorists before they have a chance to enact plans that would otherwise leave the heroes reactive rather than proactive. We see bits of her training, the sorts of calls she takes, and the excitement with her teammates when they manage to catch a big call and be part of the overall “process” that leads to the saving of so many lives. Though they largely have to keep the true nature of their work secret from family and non-work friends, they find certain perks within their work…but also learn that one mistake can be very costly.

The art is strong as usual for an Astro City issue; everyone who should look familiar does, and those that don’t still look quite good. While the story itself isn’t your usual fare, the sequences with superhero action look as one might expect (if not a bit on the higher end quality-wise) while the normal people look…normal.

Story-wise, this is another great outing, showing that Busiek knows his stuff–and does very well giving us a look at the human side of things, as “normal humans” interact in a world filled with super-powered beings and threats, and how the culture itself is impacted by their very existence.

While I missed this issue on Wednesday and thought “oh well” I quickly realized that no, I actually really wanted to read this, and it became the entire reason of going back to a comic shop Friday rather than simply waiting and picking it up with next week’s books. There really aren’t many series that do that for me.

Provided you have any background at all with Astro City–I’d especially recommend the first TPB Life in the Big City (there’s even a new edition out now)–you’d actually be fine jumping in on this issue without even having read #1…which is another strength of this series: there are a lot of short arcs and done-in-one issues, rather than the “standard” fare from DC and Marvel necessitating 4-6 issues’ investment just for a single story.

I’d largely prefer to hold off for the collected volumes, but for now, this return of Astro City is such a welcome thing, I’m likely to keep going with the single issues for at least a few more months.

The ’90s Revisited: Action Comics #761

actioncomics761For a Thousand Years…

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: German Garcia
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Seps: Wildstorm
Letterer: John Costanza
Associate Editor: Maureen McTigue
Editor: Edddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $1.99
Cover Date: January, 2000

This is one of those fairly “one-off” issues, the sort I tend to quite enjoy, despite being one who thoroughly enjoys a rich “continuity.” While cover-dated as January 2000, this came out in 1999, and is one of the later issues of the ’90s run on the Superman titles that has really and truly stuck with me through the years.\

While there’s stuff with ongoing plot details, the heart of this issue is about Wonder Woman recruiting Superman to assist an ongoing battle of the gods. Unfortunately, the two find themselves stuck–they cannot return home until the war is over…and they learn that war can last for a very, very, very long time.

I quite like the cover of this issue…at least compared to the main interior art. The art isn’t bad, mind you–but it’s a bit less detailed and more cartooney than I remembered. Beyond that, I’m neither put off nor enamored by the art–it does what it should conveying visuals of the story, it just doesn’t blow me away in and of itself.

The story is what really makes this issue stand out in my memory, such that I had but to see the cover to know this was the issue the story was in, and recall the overall plot. This is the Superman I grew up on, and hold to be “my” Superman: the one who is great friends with Wonder Woman, but extremely sure of himself and his relationship with Lois. That what he had with Lois was essential to who he was, and not something casually set aside for some woman who also happened to be “more than mortal” or some such.

I like the epic-ness of the issue, though it’s a bit far-fetched in a lotta ways, especially in this “era” of Superman. At the same time, it fits–as there had already been hints–if only in Kamandi: At Earth’s End and the DC One Million stuff–that suggest Superman would go on to have an extremely long lifespan. I honestly don’t recall how much “fallout” there was from this issue–but there was some, I’m almost certain.

Despite plenty of attention given to the supporting cast, this issue is a fairly good stand-alone issue, if plucked by itself from a bargain bin. For me, it’s one of the stand-out issues of the 1990s-era Superman run, of all the ongoing titles, simply FOR its dealing with the Superman/Wonder Woman/Lois “triangle” and (to me) strongly affirming where the characters stand with each other.

Astro City (2013) #1 [Review]

Astro City (2013) #1 [cover]Through Open Doors (Part One)

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color Art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

I’m pretty sure it’s been a few years since I’ve read Astro City. The last I recall, I left off during the Dark Age saga: as I’m typing this, I don’t even recall why I never finished. Might be I’d grown bored; maybe I was “protesting” a cover price if they were $3.99, whatever.

This new #1 is $3.99, but since it seems EVERYTHING is $3.99…I’d really have to just give up comics entirely, now, to “protest” the price point (and I am a lot quicker to find any “excuse” to outright “drop” a title as a result).

But Astro City! The series is back–after awhile under Image/Homage, then the Wildstorm banner and limbo when Wildstorm was terminated, I’d wondered where we’d see the series pop up. And now it’s under Vertigo, which while I wouldn’t consider this a title exactly fitting with Vertigo (moreso that I wouldn’t limit this series to the older crowd) means it’s still under DC, which is what it is. And as a new #1…I’ll bite for the first issue…particularly given the nostalgia factor and that I’ve generally enjoyed Astro City stuff that I’ve read.

We open with a strange man speaking to us of some looming threat, and we’re introduced to American Chibi, a sort of “overlooked” heroine of Astro City (that when you focus on the big ones, obviously some are going to be missed). We’re re-introduced to some familiar faces as well as new; see the city introduced to some powerful new alien, and a “common citizen” chosen to befriend him and be his guide to understanding the Earth. And finally, against his protestations, we learn a potentially disturbing fact about our narrator that can cast the whole story in a new light.

The creative team behind this issue is quite familiar, lending a continued consistency to the title as it’s been bounced from imprint to imprint: the cover logos may change, but the story, the art, the characters–those remain constants, creatively.

As the art is “standard” Astro City art by Anderson, everyone who should look familiar does, and I had no trouble following along…and there was no weird anatomy to throw me off with anyone (well, no weird anatomy that shouldn’t be there), no weirdly constructed pages/panels to leave me scratching my head. Basically, the visual side was a smooth ride all the way through the issue, with nice detail and all the right “touches” I expect of an Astro City comic.

The story left me a bit hesitant at first, but quickly drew me in. I quickly found myself first thinking of this narrator in terms of Doctor Who, which (to me) was rather amusing in a way, and then another sort of familiarity set in, and just when I felt I was getting to “know” the him, the end of the issue changes things rather dramatically.

Overall, the issue does what I’d want in a first issue, especially one like this where it’s an older, continuing property, but the RETURN of that property after several years’ hiatus. We get new characters and old; and we get the details pertaining to the story, that we need, in the story. Having a “history” with Astro City, I pick up on allusions to other stuff, other characters–but even so, I haven’t read any of those in years myself, so I’m foggy on details. But that in no way hinders this story; if anything it just makes me want to go back and re-read some older Astro City stories.

As far as I’m concerned, this is a great return to the series’ existence. I’d originally thought to just try this first issue, “for old time’s sake,” and let that be that…but I’m pretty likely to actually go ahead and snag the next issue.

Deathblow (2006 series) #3 [Review]

Quick Rating: Average (Qualified)
Story Title: And Then You Live! (Part Three)

Deathblow continues his quest for "place" in contemporary society.

deathblow003Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D’anda
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editors: Scott Peterson
Cover Art: Carlos D’anda Brian Stelfreeze
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics

It’s a bit hard to review this issue…and I feel rather stupid for that fact. I just don’t seem to "get" who these characters are nor exactly what’s going on. At the same time, it’s not a TOTALLY negative thing, but I think there’s something lacking for my not being familiar with the character prior…the positive being that this is "only" the third issue and much of the story yet to go.

This issue sees the character we’ve followed for a couple issues attempting to figure out his place in contemporary society, free to do what he wants as he will when he wants to. After breakfast with his family, Cray sets out to find his friend/his dog at the park. Some less-than-comfortable encounters and violence later, we see some hints at a villain of the piece and what the title character might be facing soon.

While it was a bit hard to follow at points, I generally enjoyed certain chunks of Azzarello‘s Hellblazer work. I’ve read the first trade of 100 Bullets, as well as his arc on Batman several years ago, and the more recent Superman arc. Unfortunately, it seems his writing is a bit hit-or-miss for me, almost on an issue-by-issue/case-by-case basis. This is, despite some early optimism, turning out to be a miss. Those other stories had the benefit of involving characters I was already familiar with, whereas here I’m not only not familiar with the characters, but don’t care about them. Even comparing this to a tv show, the infrequency (though I believe mostly on-schedule for once-per-month) of the story segments and lack of any introductory pages make this an hard read without having dug out previous issues to re-read–though that could be leveled more at the publisher than writer.

The art is just fine, and captures a certain sort of realism without leaving behind the visual "feel" that it is still a two-dimensional series of images on paper. No complaints from me artwise.

While I didn’t much enjoy this issue, I suspect others more familiar with the history of the character, or more patience, or just a better memory may enjoy it. It’s still the middle of an arc, and will very likely be far more understandable in its eventual collected/single-volume format than it is here.

Ratings:

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Deathblow (2006 series) #2 [Review]

Quick Rating: Average
Story Title: And Then You Live! (Part Two)

The man code-named Deathblow continues to be integrated back into society…

deathblow002Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D’anda
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editors: Scott Peterson
Cover Art: Carlos D’anda, variant by J.G. Jones & ALex Sinclair
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics

While I liked the previous issue and found plenty of positive points in it despite my unfamiliarity with the character, this issue takes a much different turn for me. The art maintains its quality, and the writing still seems strong in itself–but I find that I don’t really care that much about the main character, the supporting-cast-thus-far feels forgetable, and I don’t really know where in WorldStorm continuity this even fits.

Deathblow is returned to a home and family he doesn’t remember, and pretense on his part is not well-rewarded. There’s some sort of lab experimentation going on, analogous to the character’s re-introduction into New York City society, and a question is raised at issue’s end that looks like it’ll be playing a solid role in coming issues.

In a way, not MUCH happens in this issue, and yet quite a bit. I wasn’t–personally–pulled into the story itself all that much. For one thing, there seems to be a time-jump from what I recall at the end of the first issue, and some potential story-stuff that I expected is not present, which throws me off a bit.

There’s a lot of potential to the character himself, and the series; lots of room for commentary politically and on military stuff, and just the state of the world. There’s lots of room to look at what soldiers get put through and are asked to do, and the issue of being both the victim and causation of trauma. Other than recognization of the "Deathblow" name, I really don’t have anything else to ground me in the story, to know where things are coming from; there’s nothing summing up the first issue, and characters aren’t specifically identified. While this works for the story in and of itself, as someone new to the character without any significant knowledge of what may have come before, nor a clear placement (YET. It may be still to come as WorldStorm continues to unroll) of the story in general continuity (assuming it is in the shared universe) keeps me from being invested here.

Azzarello seems good for writing this sort of gritty, non-pretty story, and I suspect that while things are starting slow, given time, the characters and story will develop into a richer tapestry that’ll draw folks in.

D’anda‘s art is appropriately gritty and dark, capturing the tone of the story and bringing a fairly unique feel to the issue–one’s not going to mistake this for a Superman comic (hero showing up or not), for example.

If one is familiar with the character and history, and not coming in cold, there’s probably stuff that’s a lot deeper that I’m not picking up on. I want to like this series, for some reason. It’s not there yet. The potential is, though. I for one will give another couple issues to get pulled in more. I’ll cautiously recommend this if you bought the first issue. If you’ve not picked the title up yet, there’s nothing I can really point out that would singularly be reason to start.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

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