Category: Comic Reviews

Seconds

“Seconds” is the third comic from creator Bryan Lee O’Malley.

“Seconds” follows Katie, the chef/auteur creator of the best restaurant in the city, Seconds. She started the restaurant with all her friends, who have all since moved onto other ventures while Katie remained. With all her friends gone, she dreams of opening a new restaurant called “Katie’s,” with the excuses that the name fits on the pre-existing marquee of Lucky’s, the dilapidated building she bought to house her new endeavors.

Alright enough synopses, let’s talk formally. Second’s is by far the most well-crafted comic O’Malley has ever put out. The quality of cartooning and world building is top notch, something clearly O’Malley has a knack for as he’s shown us over the course of his career. The inclusion of color at the onset of this project (as opposed to the post coloring of Scott Pilgrim (which is colored by Nathan Fairbairn the same fella who colors this book)) keeps the work from being disconnected, or rather that one of the balls could drop in the perpetual juggling act that is making comics. That formalism aside, Fairbairn is a truly incredible colorist who fits O’Malley’s work like you’re dad’s old flannel you stole from his closet.

The most impressive thing (from a cartoonist’s point of view possibly…) may be how well O’Malley pulls off collaboration with three different creators on a book sold by his name alone. Having the drawing assistance of Jason Fischer and letters by the great Dustin Harbin is inspired. All too often, comics fall apart simple because the people collaborating on the project don’t completely synchronize into one vision. Writing can be great, drawing superb, but for whatever reason the people working together just don’t (man motions with both hands coming together with his finger’s interlaced). “Seconds” however does not suffer from this in the slightest. The “O’Malley Studio” syncs up without a stich to be shown despite being able to see the difference in drawing styles of Fischer and O’Malley, or the craftsmanship of Harbin versus the looser brush style of O’Malley.

The characters carry three dimensions though interestingly are not characters we all know. That is to say, they aren’t caricatures, you may know people in your life that are say a “Max or Katie Type,” but they have some many affects to their personality you would forever need to temper the phrase “Oh you’re toooootallly a Katie” with “Except you don’t yadayadayadayada.”

 

One issue I have with this book, that many disagree with me on, is an inherent issue I find with every comic that is attempting to be “novelistic.” O’Malley has said that he wanted this comic to be more like a book, hence I’m assuming the choice to have it put out by a book publisher as opposed to a comic publisher, though I’m sure distribution and money always play a heavy role. The issue I’m writing about is the extreme use of narration and exposition. The use of text is heavy, with little use of simple pictures being used to tell parts of the story. It falls into a category of comics that almost come off as “Learn How to Read Comics” or “Comics For Normal People.” An example being Alison Bechdel comics, where in the text is so heavy that the pictures rarely have a chance to shine. This argument is not to discredit the amazing and forward thinking work Bechdel and O’Malley both create or the moot argument of “Why Not Just Make It A Prose Book?” These people are cartoonist and they are telling the stories they want to tell in their medium, that’s not the issue. The issue is why not use the pictures More? There is scarcely an action that isn’t also accompanied by text describing what is happening. I can understand O’Malley’s want to be more novelistic in his approach to comics making but find it a lost opportunity to push the his own story-telling style where-in there is not just the surface quality of the picture making and the interesting story he threads for you, but also a more personalized vision of digestion. For the intricate Groundhog’s Day story that “Seconds” is there is little in the way of interesting Visual Story-Telling.

 

That very personal critique aside, (sorry everyone) Seconds is well worth your time. O’Malley is a supremely talented individual whose work remains consistently strong and consistently gets stronger. Go get Seconds so you cannot wait for his next book.

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Holy moly

My brain is on comic book overload. I’ve been packing, shipping, printing and planning for San Diego Comic Con this week. Traveling with a manual credit card slammer isn’t normal, but for SDCC it is. If you’re going, visit me at booth 1718 for Fantagraphics! But if you’re not going, there’s plenty of comics right where you are! And way less crowded.

100th Anniversary Special #1 The Avengers- Holy fing moly. Besides the fact that Marvel decided to speed up time and pretend that they’ve already been around for 100 years, they’ve also decided to that the best way to celebrate one of their most successful series would be to have James Stokoe headline it with words and art. King of gradients, emperor of hyperlines, and owner of a brain that gives us some of the most original worlds we have ever seen and felt. Stokoe is known for original works like Orc Stain, Wonton Soup, and for the IDW Godzilla series (the good one), but picking up the mantle on familiar characters like Dr. Strange, Rogue and Beta Ray Bill, will definitely give you a different perspective on stories you thought you knew. Besides being set in 2061, the acid trip meets Aztecan atmosphere of a Stokoe Avengers world is going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Artist Edition- If the Steranko Artist Edition book released last week was literally too much to handle, then the slightly smaller, but just as fantastic, Mignola Helboy book should be a perfect match for you and all your little monsters. For over 20 years, Mike Mignola has proven himself to be one of the most consistent and visionary artists with his titular, and fan favorite character, Hellboy. Shown in their oversized and rough stages, this book includes the first five issues of Hellboy in Hell, supplemental material, and work from Nextmen, The Corpse, and more. There’s no better way to follow the process and progress of your favorite artists than through their artist edition pages.

Groo vs. Conan #1- What happens when the ultimate parody goes to battle against the barbarian that spawned his arrival? The Mr. Magoo of the warrior sword clashing comic world, Groo has been one of the most successful original characters, created in early ‘80s by Sergio Aragones. But now he’s bumbled his way into battle against the King of Barbarians, Conan, the mightiest fighter. Will they be friend? Foe? Will Groo’s fate be left in the hands of Conan? The four-part miniseries that’s being written by Aragones, and Mark Evanier, and illustrated by Aragones with assist from Tom Yeates, sets out to settle one of the oldest questions to have ever plagued humankind, who would win a fight?

Zero #9- If you’ve been missing out on this series, this week should give you extra incentive to pick it up. Besides being the first new issue since May, and making it a good jumping on point (though you’re a fool to not pick up the trade), the official word came down last week that Zero is going to get to live on the big screen. Or the small screen. Depends on how big your TV is. There’s a long road from getting signing to production, but it’ll be exciting to see the espionage spy story, that’s really about male rage and the death of the American dream, be played out in a new medium. Ales Kot and his vast team of talents keep readers on their toes by mixing up artists, and dropping in unexpected twists and turns, just like the best spy stories.

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Life After reading this will be better

 

There’s really only one book that I care about this week. Maybe not the only one I care about, but the only book I really want to talk about. (Mostly because it’s hot and I spent all weekend killing spiders and blowing up pies with fireworks). Alright, you could say I got lazy, but I’ll never be to lazy to sing the eternally lauded praises of

Life After #1 By Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo-It’s a grand premise centered around some matrix-esque themes of being the only one truly awake in the infinite loop of life. But instead of that loop taking place in a computer generated existence, our protagonist finds himself journeying through the clutches of heaven, hell, and every other layer taught to you by your catechism teacher. The high concept of life, death, struggle against the mundane, and you know, saving the world, is back dropped with a snarky Hemmingway as a guide, and first-season-of-Lost questions that get you jacked up to read every issue because you need to know what’s happening! why is this happening?! I’m so curious and excited to find out what’s happening! The expert hands of Fialkov (Bunker, The Ultimates) and somewhat new to the scene, but no less brilliant hands of Gabo, give holy life to a book that is high energy goofy, juxtaposed with serious moments of salvation.  And covers are drawn by Nick Pitarra! (Manhattan Projects) This is a must must must buy! I guess I’ll talk about some other books, lightning round style!

Spread #1-Cthulu monsters, meets zombie reincarnation, meets Lone Wolf and Cub.

Shutter #4-More monsters! Some friend, some foe. But Kate stands her ground!

Grayson #1-I don’t know the last time I mentioned a DC book on this thing, but Tim Seeley (Revival) is writing this back from the dead character in an unexpected way.

Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me TP-This is the final memoir of the esteemed curmudgeon, Harvey Pekar, and a timely one at that. Illustrated by J.T. Waldman, Pekar reflects on growing up in a pro-Israel household, and his gradual realization that the current state has come a long way from the biblical ideal he grew up with. Considering the current resurgence of major conflict in the region, Pekar’s interweaving tale of history and dissatisfaction couldn’t come at a better time for those looking to get a little bit of a history lesson.

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I almost forgot to send this

Anyone do anything cool last week? Doing anything cool this weekend? That’s cool. Hey, no, I figured you were busy. It’s cool. We’ll catch up next week. Oh yeah here’s some comics. Yeah I’ll talk to you later. Say “Hi” to Steve for me!

 

Twelve Gems-What do you get when you cross Heavy Metal with your high school math composition notebook full of drawings of spaceships and sword-wielding babes? Obviously the answer is Twelve Gems! Originally done around 2010-2012, it’s getting an official release from Fantagraphics and taking the sci-fi world by storm. Follow Furz, Venus, and Dogstar as they travel the universe, unraveling adventures and mysterious while they help Dr. Z retrieve the legendary Twelve Gems of Power. But anyone named Dr. Z is probably not the most trustworthy person in the world (since it’s a few steps below Professor X). Hilarious, eye-catching, and a really fun read. I’ve been waiting about 2 months since I first read it for this book to finally come out so I can shove it in everyone’s faces and make them eat it. I mean read it.

 

White Suits #4-The conclusion! Will all the answers about the deadly white suits that agent Anderson and former suit Prizrak have been searching, and killing for, finally be answered? Even if it’s not answered, Toby Cypress will still probably knock your socks off with the art that he pulls off in this book. He could just draw a pile of socks and you could probably feel the cotton and smell the stink lines. Always action packed, always inventive. Coupled with Barbiere’s succinct, puply writing, I want these two to make comics until my children’s children are born as wifi ports.

I Am Rosa Parks-Allow me to soapbox for a moment (it’s my column and can do whatever I want). A serious problem is the lack of diversity in children’s books. In formative developmental years when children are mostly visually learning how to read, it’s done in tandem with pictures and words. And when the majority of characters within books are represented by only one race, gender, family structure, etc. we do a lot of harm to what a child grows up thinking is normal v. not normal. Prolific and award winning novelist, comic author, and TV show writer, Brad Meltzer is taking a stab at a line of books that profile American icons that show kids who heroes can be. The first book features Rosa Parks in a lively retelling of her story about standing up to racial segregation in the South; teaching kids to stand up for themselves. Thus endeth the soapbox.

 

Luba and Her Family-The newest Love and Rockets collection from Gilbert Hernandez’s half of the dynamic comic duo’s decades sprawling family saga. This volume obviously focuses on the life of Luba, her sisters, moving to the states, and their ensuing family dramas, and joys. Volume 10 of the Love and Rockets library bids farewell to the town of Palomar as Luba and her family emigrate to the United States and make new lives for themselves. The L&R Library is the most comprehensive collection of the series, and I don’t need to tell you how important these artists are to the universe of comics, you just need to know it’s out!

 

The Field #3-The past two issues, and the first half of this one, have mostly been car chases and gun battles between groups that are all after this one guy. For completely unexplained reasons! Until nooooow! I was happy just enjoying the shit out of this comic even if everything was a mystery. The crazy characters, the idiomatic language, and beautifully rendered trekkie knockoffs. In fact, the reveal of why all these crazy groups are after The Source, reminds me quite a bit of a certain time looped TNG episode…Whether or not it’s inspired from that, this book gets better and better with every issue; art, story, violence, everything (and it already started out pretty great). Brisson and Roy are unstoppable Canadian comic book war machines, powerhouses, hockey fiends? I’m just assuming.

 

Wonton Soup COLLECTION-James Stokoe’s Wonton Soup worked its way into my hands when it was first released in 2007. I was still in high school, and don’t think I was ready to handle the Technicolor, hyper-lined art, that has become the signature Stokoe look. And by couldn’t handle, I mean it did severe brain damage to me because after that I just wanted all of the comic books. Thankfully since then he gained some traction with books like Orc-Stain and Godzilla: Half Century War. In Wonton Soup, a champion chef turned space trucker gave up fame and fortune for reasons unknown, but has to pull out his greatest knife skills when he gets into trouble and finds himself in a cook off to end all cook off’s. Originally put out in two volumes, the first when went out of print a few years ago, depriving new generations of reprobates from having good comics. FINALLY Oni has put them into one big beautiful book to put you into maximum comic overdrive.

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Look what i did!

Yikes, there’s a lot of heavy hitters out this week. From old to new. Indie to mainstream. Black and white to two-tone, to hyper-color. There’s something for everyone this month. Stop hating and get with the program!

Ritual Three: Vile Decay- It can seem blasé (read: lazy) to say that someone is an “exciting” artist. What does that really mean? Are they doing something new or different? Does the art itself illicit an excited energy? Are you so excited when you see something new by that artist that you want to vomit? If you’re talking about anything by Malachi Ward, the answer is yes to all of the above. Known for working on the Brandon Graham mega-project, Prophet, and for the notoriety gained from The Scout put out by Study Group Comics (which is seriously one of the best independent publishers in the business. you can read their stuff online for free. do it. you’d be an f’in fool not to). This new stand-alone sci-fi weaves together a grandmother’s recollection to her grandson about how the world simply went bad. Ward’s settings and characters are gracefully drawn, with an element of Charles Burn’s other (but still similar) worldly eeriness. I’m getting a little comics hyphy just thinking of it being in my hands this time next week. And if you’re in the NYC area, he’ll be attending a release party at Bergen Street Comics on June 25th, so you can gush in person!

Judgment Day- Joe Orlando is often lauded as the nicest man in comics. He’s been passed for a while, so I can neither confirm nor deny this praise. But what I can tell you is that his technical skill, editing abilities, breadth of work throughout the industry’s formative years, and the subsequent influence that he left on everyone that ever picked up one of his comics, is true to the core. Anything of his you can find is worth a look, but Fantagraphics has included his EC work, some of the first professional comics stories he did. Most of the stories in this collection are scripted by Al Feldstein, and they highlight Orlando’s most prolific sci-fi stories; including the titular story that spoke out against the racism of the early ‘50s in which these stories were published. Orlando is true comic book history, and his work is legendary.

 

Amazing World of Gumball #1- Truth time, I’ve never watched Gumball. It’s been on Cartoon Network for about 5 years, and I’ve had no TV for about 6, so there’s that. But it’s new form just had comic book life breathed into it by Frank Gibson (who I’ve written about previously for his work on Baby Fiona and Cake, and Tiny Kitten Teeth), and one of my all time favorite web cartoonists, Tyson Hesse. He does this little thing called Boxer Hockey, and when I started reading it about two years ago I never thought I would get so emotional about a stupid little comic about a group of friends who play a field hockey type game in their underwear, essentially using frogs as pucks. But I did get emotional, and I still read certain panels that make me misty eyed. Whether it’s Nickelodeon studio work, or little cartoons of his poodle on twitter, no one has made cute cartoons that have had as much of an influence on me than Hesse has.  Sometimes you follow an artist to whatever project they work on, whatever the story is, and Hesse is one of those artists.

Pirates in the Heartland Vol 1: Clay Wilson- If Joe Orlando and his contemporaries set precedence’s for the future of superhero and action comics, S. Clay Wilson is without a doubt a parallel of that mark in the alternative comics world. R. Crumb, who is cited as every other alt cartoonists main influence, lists Wilson himself as his great comix influence and contemporary. Hailing from the middle of nowhere, sometimes called Nebraska, Wilson ended up in San Francisco after an army stint, and quickly unleashed the underground art scene with his wild dreams and nightmares of gore, sex, body parts and general bedlam. This first of three hardcover volumes attempts to catalog his comics that appeared in publications like Zap, Pork, Insect Fear, and Arcade Magazine. Part biography, part retrospective, part collected chronicles of a comic legend, this is a huge undertaking that pays off in every way you could expect, and a million ways you couldn’t. Stay tuned.

New Avengers Annual #1There’s a lot of simple reasons to pick this book up. Frank Barbiere is writing it. Marco Rudy is doing the art. And it’s all about DR. STRANGE! Everyone’s favorite world-saving, evil magic slaying, sorcerer is staring in his own book. He’s heading back to his Himalayan roots to help some techno-monks (the name of my new hip-hop crew) defeat an evil they summoned that’s beyond their control. It’s oversized Dr. Strange, I think that’s all you really need to know…

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What we do is secret… unless you watch the Tuesday Transmission.

Javier of Mini-Mate Minute fame joins me for a full episode.

“Can you see it? No wait, can you see it?”

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I Hope This Isn’t Late

Hope everyone had fun at BookCon/Book Expo. Was Chaucer there? He’s pretty great. If you’re Northwest local, the Olympia Comics Fest is this weekend in our state capitol, with special guest Charles Burns! He’s pretty great too.

The Superannuated Man #1Ted McKeever would never be accused of making stories that weren’t unusual. His last series from Image, Miniature Jesus was premised on a crucifix that becomes sentient and leads the alcoholic pastor of a small church down a path of supernatural recovery. This new book, The Superannuated Man, is no less bizarre. The coastal town of Blackwater is overrun with mutated creatures who speak with heavy Scottish-like accents, often eat each other, and at the very least and really really concerned with the one person who appears to have not mutated, but is probably losing his mind. McKeever stabs into the peculiar without exposition, and the reader follows closely behind, with all senses alert, not knowing exactly what they’ll find on the journey.

Big Trouble in Little China #1The legend of Jack Burton is alive and well in one of my most anticipated cult movie-turned comic book releases of the year. What’s almost better than the fact that we’ll be able to read more stories about everyone’s favorite truck driver as he navigates the supernatural and with super kung-fu through San Fran Chinatown trying to help his friends Wang Chi and Miao Yin actually tie the knot. So it’s pretty much a straight up sequel from the movie. But the best part is the creative team. Eric Powell and Brian Churilla! These are some straight up pros of the highest caliber, with books like The Goon and D.B. Cooper under their respective belts. The film’s director, John Carpenter, consulted with Powell on the script, ensuring that the new series will have the same Pork Chop Express vibe everyone loves.

Princess Ugg #1-Continuing the solid list of highly anticipated number one issues coming out this week, is a new series by Ted Naifeh, author and artist of the acclaimed and well-loved series, Courtney Crumrin. Princess UGG! She’s not like other princesses. Swords instead of scepters, wielding axes instead of ladies in waiting, and a trusty mammoth instead of a pony. The Princess Academy of Atraesca won’t know how to handle Princess Ülga of Grimmeria. An exciting new teen book from Oni Press that makes me laugh and root for Ülga every time I read it. This princess ain’t nothin to mess with.

Nailbiter #2I think I was lazy the week this first issue came out, and didn’t write about it. But after reading the second issue I’m glad I waited to endorse reading this, because it got even better. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re no strangers to the lore that something about our constant overcast (it’s sunny right now), damp dreariness (it’s like 75 degrees), and frazzled caffeine nerves (no comment), are the perfect hotbed concoction for serial killer primordial ooze. And while I can’t deny that a fair number of people who decided to take up the serial mantel were either born here, or spent considerable time here, doesn’t mean that we all have pillows made out of human hair. But the permeable myth has festered in the town of Buckaroo, Oregon, which has played home to nearly a dozen killers. When one detective goes missing in the town, his partner is determined to uncover the secret to why this town spawns some horrific butchers.

Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two #5-They say all good things must come to an end, and unfortunately that’s true for everyone’s favorite high energy Dredd story of whirl-wind of crime fighting, monster slaying, and where the camera’s are constantly rolling. The conflagration of Dredd’s West Coast-best coast investigation into covert corruption have led us to LAW-CON, where you’ll see the most egos packed into one room outside of San Diego comic-con. This event will put our hero through the gauntlet one last time. Will he ever make it back home to the peaceful, serene, Mega-City One?

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Thanks For Noticing

It was my birthday last Friday. Thanks for noticing. All your gifts and well wishes were received in kind, and you can expect thank you cards in the mail within the week. VanCaf happened this past memorial day weekend, and if I was smart I would have said something about it last week. But I’m not smart you see. I’m simply a vessel of firing synapses that causes electrical currents to make my fingers dance across my keyboard in a whirl of creative furry and madness. Much like Amadeus. Yes, I am the Mozart of my generation. It’s my birthday.

Amateurs by Connor Stechschulte- When we forget history we’re doomed to repeat it, but for the butchers in this graphic novella premiere from Massachusetts artist, Connor Stechschulte, the horror of the lack of memory propels them into what is probably the worst day of their lives. As the owners of a butcher shop, they both show up to work one day with no idea how to butcher. Their follies unfold as customers arrive. I mean, imagine if someone asked you right now for pork back strap, would you know how to do it? The mess and problems what would ensue, the torture of your sensibilities and of the animal? The situational humor built out of such an absurd scenario reveals itself to be darker, and much more problematic for everyone involved. Juxtapozed with the framing of a terrible crime on the outset of the story, the black and white crosshatched story is anything but amateur.

Trees #1 By Warren Ellis and Jason Howard-Do you still lie awake at night because Ellis and Templesmith haven’t updated Fell since 2008? This is new series is nothing like Fell, but hopefully the fact that this will be Ellis’s first release on Image since 2008, might ease the pain. Trees. They’re here. Here is Earth. What are trees? Trees are alien intelligence. Intelligence belongs to the trees. Trees see humans as we see trees. Not alive. Not intelligent. Howard, who worked with Ellis before on the web series Scatterlands, usually keeps a tight Super Dinosaur look in his art, but has pushed himself to a new level with this book, borrowing looks from fan favorite artists such as Simon Roy and Giannis Milonogiannis. As a standard writer for decades, Ellis is continuing to prove his relevance in modern comics.

 

Tanpopo Collection Vol 2 HC by Camilla d’Errico- Like the work that the story of Tanpopo is based on, reading the work calls for careful consideration of the philosophy in play, and to experience the poetry in tandem with the art. Playing off the themes of the German play, Faust, the first volume begins with the titular protagonist, a girl whose existence is dependent on the knowledge given to her by a machine, at the cost of human experience and emotion. She is given the opportunity to experience the pain and joy of humanity upon entering a pact with the devil, which seems like a bad idea, but ultimate knowledge without shared experience is often argued as the absence of existence. Because even the greatest minds of our generation precipice their knowledge on base experience like procreation. Take episode 16 of season three from Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Offspring”, where Data creates a daughter. This series is basically that. With roughly the same amount of Shakespeare. More devil though.

 

Chew/Revival #1 Layman/Seeley and Guillroy/Norton-I barely know what the word crossover means not coming into comics with a superhero background, that and my debilitating illiteracy, but my interest in the notion was certainly peaked when I heard last February that the teams behind Image comics Chew and Revival were joining forces of awesome to bring a series that follows everyone’s favorite cibopath detective into the rural crime-noir. The zombie crime-time town is the perfect host for Tony Chu and his newest investigation. I’m trying really hard to make a cheese-head/head-cheese joke, but it’s just not happening. I just want everyone to know I tried.

The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor #1 by Mark Waid and Neil Edwards- I’ve googled Gold Key so much in the past few months I’ve started getting targeted ads from Masterlock. Why have I been searching it so much? Because the revivals coming from them have literally rocked my world. I talk about them frequently, but now that one of my favorite occult investigators, (my first fav being Constantine) is getting a revamped series I might as well make it an auto search and send it to my rss feed. (I have no idea if those are real things. How does the internet work?) But Doctor Adam Spektor is like the Geraldo Rivera meets Criss Angel of occult detective work, and his public persona has started to drain on his personal life. But when you’re a TV legend, Wall Street wolf, Internet mogul, tabloid bad boy, master metaphysicist, spiritualist, and monster hunter, what more could you possibly need to make you happy? Comic extraordinaire Mark Waid (Daredevil) dares to find out.

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Sci-fi summer school

To organize your thoughts, to give yourself new ideas, and to think about things a different way, I often try to give myself some thematic perameteres to work in. Often those themes don’t stick because they’re dumb, or don’t actually make sense to people other than myself. But today I made themes and decided to leave them.

What are some writing tips you have?! What themes did you notice this week?! Hunt someone down in the store and aggressively tell him or her your thoughts!

This week’s comics are, dyna-miiiiite!

Magnus: Robot Fighter #3-Fred Van Lente turns it up when he pits human hunter Leeja Clarke against the hostile robots of the future. Her introduction is solid pulp, but her fighting prowess is completely real. She’s punching her way up in life, using her own flesh and blood to take down our hero human. If you thought fighting maleficent metal miscreants was going to be Russell Magnus’s biggest challenge, you thought wrong. (But it was a good effort. I mean, it makes sense to assume that his hardest opponents would be robots. But you’re still wrong. Don’t beat yourself up over it though.)

Solar: Man of the Atom #2-With confusion over who is REALLY the new Solar that was left in the wake of #1, I have to say, if you are confused, why do you care?! It’s a pretty solid character trait of first issues to leave a cliffhanger with the audience going “omg what’s going to happen?!?! So crazy!!” but some people just seemed bummed that solar might not be who they thought he was going to be. But this comic is so good I really have to wonder again, why does it matter?! So the mantel of a solar reboot is being passed to someone else, if it’s written as well as Barbiere probably writes his grocery lists, the new Solar will be sure to impress all audiences. Try on some super science with this spectacular new series!

Flash Gordon #2-Evan Shaner is drawing the ever-loving crap out of Jeff Parker’s take on Flash Gordon. The man from Earth is doing a not so great job at keeping his identity when attempting to save an alien race from being transformed into minions of the nefarious Ming. Classic humor and new adventures make this story just generally fun to read, but the amazing art team kills at making this book fun just to look at. The team will continue hopping through time and space in their overarching quest to defeat Ming the Merciless, and prevent the invasion of Earth.

Game on, with Hick-mon….? I’m so embarrassed now

Manhattan Projects Vol. 4-Just buy it! It’s a part of my top 5 fav series! I don’t want to keep telling you to read it! (yes I do)

East of West #12-War is imminent in the best western, high sci-flyin, cryptic apocalyptic, adventure you cowpoke folk ever did read. But the effort swelling to change the course of the war-horse is the greatest quest for Death’s theistic compatriots.

Firsts and lasts

MPH #1-Mark Millaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar has a gotten tired of violence and is instead writing a new book about self-discovery through meditation. Just kidding. This book is about DRUGS, and MONEY, and going really FAST! When two friends realize that a new street drug will give you super speed abilities, they use it to do anything but help others. Obviously something like that will only get them into trouble; but that’s the least of their worries as long as they’re having fun and stacking cheddar. Coming to you from Mark Millar and Duncan Fegredo. I expect a bunch of speed lines.

 Dark horse Presents #36-The series is ending! (only not really) We’ll never see it again! (it’ll be back in July) Nothing will ever be the same! (it will be in a different format though). Full scoop, the current version of DHP you know and love, mainly that it’s 80 pages of awesome, will be going on a diet and getting a little slimmer to fit into a more cost effective model, coming out sometime in July. But that doesn’t mean they skimped on creators for the final (this version) issue. In this corner, we have Mike Mignola! Stan Sakai! And JAIME HERNANDEZ! + a bunch of others. They’ll be wrapping some stories up, starting some new ones, and giving you all around great tales for a great price.

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Summa

I’ve taken up the ancient art form of origami as of late, and between creating lotus flowers, cranes, and tie-fighters, I have learned the power of creativity, dexterity, concentration, and the overwhelming urge to set all pieces of decorative paper on fire out of sheer frustration.I’d like to think there’s a metaphor for life somewhere in there, but I’m too consumed with rage to see it yet.Anyways, this books will calm me down…

 

Rust Vol 3: Death of Rocket Boy by Royden Lepp-Like a steam punk gateway, this beautiful and fantastical world has created a world that’s full of robots, family struggles, and jet packs. Life was forever changed for the Taylors, when Jet Jones and a decommissioned robot from the alternate universe World Wars crash land on their farm. Lepp has spent the previous two hardcover volumes building up family secrets, sacrifice, and robot action that will all come to a head in this penultimate book of the series. This book seriously is all ages, because I’ve recommended to readers of any age, and no one is disappointed with the action or the heart that sits at the core of these books.

 

Manifest Destiny Vol 1 by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts-

History and giant monsters collide in this take on the REAL story of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark! Especially pertinent to us Washingtonians, or anyone who enjoyed a rousing CD-Rom game of the Oregon Trail, the journey to discover the Pacific Ocean is historical, but the truth is what will make this story legend. Wild monsters, infection, betrayal, and help from the French and Native Americans drive all first six issues of this collected edition. The American frontier is a dangerous place, I suggest using this as a guidebook for your journey.

 

This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki- Summer is not officially here, but the memory is always present. Fires, camping, jumping in lakes, back sweat, booty shorts. If you’ve been missing any of the above, This One Summer, might help alleviate that. Possibly with less booty shorts than my summer, the one written and drawn by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki does capture the youthfulness of summer nostalgia, and then wrecks it. Rose and Windy are best beach buds, and have always looked forward to spending their long days doing what kids do best. But things have gotten rough between Rose’s parents, and Windy and Rose look for a distraction that ends up getting them involved in the even bigger problems of some older local kids. This might not have been the summer they dreamed up, but it’s one they’ll never forget. Cousin duo, the Tamaki’s, produce tween angst against artwork that has a beautiful flow.

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Rogue Trooper Classic #1 by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons- Did James Stokoe’s covers on the new Rogue Trooper series make you wonder where all these badass blue warriors came from? Wonder no longer! IDW is bringing the original comics from 2000AD, created by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons, back to life in fuuuuullllll cooolooooooorrrr. The war torn future is rife with chemical weapons and warfare, and the only ones able to fight the fight are the genetically modified infantrymen. These are the tales of one such Genetic Infantryman, Rogue. One part Full Metal Jacket, and one part Fallout, this classic series will feature appearances by Judge Dredd, who will feel right at home in the war ravaged Nu-Earth.

 

The Auteur #3 by Rick Spears and James Callahan- I know I mention this book every week, but I don’t STOP mentioning it because it’s LITERALLY THE BEST THING EVER. If I haven’t convinced you at this point to read a book that’s about a psychotropic drug rampage through Hollywood and your own mind, on the quest to create the most realistic horror film ever, then I haven’t been doing my job and I might as well jump off a cliff. (I also use the term job loosely because I have yet to receive as much praise and adulation and keys to cities and babies presented for healing kisses, as my words deserve)

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I’ll never be successful because I’m not crazy

Jodorowsky’s Dune finally came to Seattle this weekend, and I was painfully inspired by this doc. You basically get an animated Moebius film, in between beautiful H.G. Giger art, and topped with an amazing soundtrack that really feels essentially Dune. I can’t say enough good things about this film. For sci-fi, comic, film fans alike.
I followed the painful inspiration with a weekend of day drinking, nail painting, and reading. My magnum opus won’t be built in a day.

Adventure Time Annual 2014- The thing I love about annuals is that they come out once a year. They’re also bigger. They feature a new creative team. And sometimes they’re Adventure Time. Lucky for us, this one hits all those sweet spots. Joining the already extra special AT Team is husband-wife comic duo, Becky and Frank! They write and draw the super adorable webcomic, Tiny Kitten Teeth (that is hand painted, I might add). If you have diabetes you might want to keep a candy bar on hand for this one, because it not only features the sugary cuteness of their typical art style, but the story follows little Fionna and BABY CAKE! The sweetness is in the name! Just thinking about it gets me a little light headed. The two get into all sorts of magical trouble, but who could ever stay mad at a baby Fionna and Cake?!

Buddy Buys a Dump TPB

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Continuing the Buddy Bradley series from the collected books of Buddy Does Jersey, and Buddy Does Seattle, comes the first collection we’ve seen from Peter Bagge’s iconic Hate Annual series in seven years! But this newest collected version will also feature new pages created by Bagge; a major contribution to the renaissance Seattle is having right now of its alternative comics scene. Life for the junky, 1990’s famous anti-hero, Buddy Bradley has changed significantly. We find him now in his 30’s, with a wife, son, owning a junkyard, and wearing an eye patch. Pretty normal for Buddy I’d say. This conclusion to his most recent arc will be marked by the 25th anniversary of Hate Comix in 2015. I’d say that time has flown by, and something nostalgic like “I remember when these comics blah blah blah”, but I’ll be honest, Hate came out the year I was born. So I’ve had A LOT of catching up to do.(If you’re interested in the current work of underground Seattle cartoonists, look up the work of Ben Horak, Gnartoons, and Tom Van Deusen in their monthly publication, The Intruder)

Unlovable Vol 3 HC- Grotesquely hilarious, in only the way an illustrated journal of a teenage girl from 1989 can be. Unlovable, by Esther Pearl Watson, is what all of us were at some point in our adolescence, but wishing we never were. Summer is here for Tammy Pierce, and she’s ready to party, flirt with all the boys, and wear waaaaay too much mascara. This is a must read for all Tina Belcher fans. This is also a must read for anyone who likes fun!

Southern Bastards #1- Jason Aaron just made the South real dirty. Dirty with rednecks, piss, and dogs. Craw County is home to all of the above; it’s also home to the meanest sheriff the town has ever seen, and his brutality is the stuff of legend. But it’s very real to his son who has come back to town for the first time in years. His dad is dead, but his brutality lives on in the town, through a new boss who has this football town in his fist, and people running from his terror. While this may not be a welcome home for Earl Tugg, for fans of Aaron’s work on books like Scalped, this feels like we’ve been greeted with open arms. Originally from Alabama himself, this feels really down home Southern. Artist and co-creator, Jason Latour also hails from North Carolina, and these two don’t miss a beat when it comes to creating an atmosphere that’s soiled with too many memories, and too much power.

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two #4- When you combine the most serious man in crime fighting, with two cute animal tour guides to Crimeland that sing rhyming tunes, you get only a piece of the wacky ride that is Judge Dredd Mega City Two. Dredd takes care of some old fashioned boss’s in the amusement park that caters to showing old-fashioned street crime! Sounds like a good time for Dredd and his film crew, until they run into a rogue Judge who turns their world upside down by giving up the law…to help the people. The art is out of control on this issue, and the contrast between the hyper detail of the city and landscape, combined with the cartoonish auxiliary characters gives this book a distinguishing flavor from anything that’s on the shelves today. And this issue definitely satisfies my need for some form of musical theatre.

Pretty Deadly Vol 1 TPB- Prolific author Gabriel Garcia Marquez may have left us, but this world is no less full of magical realism as long as Pretty Deadly is still around. DeConnick and Rios have left a sizeable dent in the comics’ world, following the release of their spaghetti western meets kung-fu epic. If you’re one of the poor souls wandering this wasteland of a planet lost and alone because you haven’t picked this book up yet, now is your chance to feel the swift righteous blade of death’s daughter, Ginny. Her origin is the stuff of legend; a tale that bards sing around a fire. But the wronged always know where to find her.

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Bunglers and Bummers

I’m not embarrassed to say I fell asleep with my computer open and lights on last night. Or that when I woke up this morning to finish writing, I fell asleep again sitting at my computer. Maybe a little embarrassed. Not enough, obviously, to stop me from mentioning how much I want to burrow inside a pile of blankets like a dog. Pillows piled high, next to a crackling space heater. I think I’m trying to live vicariously through my own words now. You work hard, now you should play hard by buying comics, and crawling into bed to read them.

Letter 44 #6When the conspiracies began to abound back on Earth, I was nervous President Blake was going to be, to borrow a phrase from real politics, a lame duck. But as the first arc of the series comes to a close, Blake has shown us that he will not back down. Nothing Charles Soule does in this story is drawn out, so President Blake kicks ass and takes names, but doesn’t take prisoners, but he’s all out of bubble gum so he might take some of that. Up in the big black emptiness, life has ended for some, and begun for others. Secrets of the aliens are revealed to the remaining crewmembers of the Clarke, but things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Sheltered #8- Sheltered makes you feel bad about yourself. It makes you feel bad because you watch some truly awful people to terrible, terrible things to one another. Instead of just feeling complacent like a reader usually does, I turn every page with trepidation; afraid of what I’ll find waiting for me. Maybe I feel too deeply, maybe Ed Brisson writes this cast with too much callous fervor, or maybe Johnnie Christmas illustrates with too much stylized energy that I can’t help but want to crawl into this comic and punch Lucas (the boy leading a coup against the parents of their pre-apocalyptic encampment for his own psychopathic entertainment). Or maybe I want to do that is because this it really is addictively aggravating to watch imminent disaster looming for these kids in their f’d up Lord of the Flies world, and hope that most of them burn when everything goes downhill.

Love Bunglers HC- All praises be to Jaime Hernandez, and the deliciously poignant masterpiece that is Love Bunglers. Backdoor brag, I’ve read A LOT of Hernandez brothers in my life, but this might possibly be my favorite epic about the girl from Hoppers, Maggie Chascarillo. Life for the Love and Rockets cast of characters has grown increasingly complicated over the 30+ years since its inception. This hardcover release collects all pieces of the Love Bunglers that originally appeared in the ongoing series, Love and Rockets New Stories. Years of character development, history, and heartbreak have culminated in a beautifully illustrated story that captures a slice of middle-aged life, rarely seen in media.

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Brilliant Premiere HC Vol 1- The eternal struggle first contemplated by the great ancient philosophers of time: science and superheroes; can the two mix? I guess my definition of great philosopher would also be Brian Michael Bendis, which is probably why I almost failed it in college. (X-Men aren’t reliable sources when arguing sentiency of personhood). Regardless! In their first creator-owned series together, Bendis and Bagley pitted their own college geniuses against the mystery of superpowers, and had them tinker until the powers ticked back. Where does the true power of the world lie when all it’s seemingly magical doors are opened, and everyone’s nerves are exposed?

Bunker #3- I’ve started and stopped three times trying to write a preview as to why you should pick up this time traveling, conspiracy creating, and friendship unraveling, without giving something away. But I can’t do it. Fialkov is too good. He’s too smart, and no thread starts to pull in this series without the whole sweater (or you know, the world) falling apart.

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Poetry in Motion

Here’s a poem about the Portland – Seattle bus trip I’m on right now:

Bolt Bus, you smell like booze
I think someone mistook you for a cruise.
You let us travel with free wi-fi,
But half the time it doesn’t work and I want to cry.
The sun is shining outside your windows,
But here I sit inside you, writing poetry, not prose.
Dude, the girl in front of you doesn’t want to talk,
I’m sorry you can’t take a hint, but you gonna walk.
Thank you, bolt bus, for cheap public transportation,
Are we there yet? I have to pee.

Also, a tip from the weekend:
When people tell you to drink a lot of water at a convention, and then volunteers proceed to hand you free water, don’t turn it down, you moron (me).

The Auteur #2- A new effing Auteur. I won’t lie, this is the comic I wish I had made, if I had ever attempted to make a comic. The art is humorously violent; the dialogue is reminiscent of a mental breakdown (maybe epiphany?) on a rampage; and characters are the best type of messed up, the type that have little redeemable characteristics, which is a rarity in any story. The story thus far: pure pandemonium! Our flop of a producer, Nathan T. Rex….holy shit, I’ve read his name so many times that I just realized his name, ugh I am a moron; anyways….Mr. Rex is trying to get his horror film Presidents Day off the ground, and hiring a real serial killer is sure to bring some realism to the project. Too bad he has to get him out of jail first, and make a mockery of the justice system. God bless America.

Solar Man of the Atom #1- Where Frank Barbiere goes, so I go too. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it until I die (when my hyperbole’s will never be challenged). Picking up another Gold Key mantel under Dynamite, Barbiere brings back a fansinating superhero, Solar Man of the Atom. A physicist who is transformed into nuclear energy is having some problems with his super power and his estranged daughter might the only one who can save his power. This smartly written number one issue is part origin story, part destruction story, and combines the power of hard science with the flexibility of science fiction. Artist Joe Bennett is highly skilled in bringing superheroes to life with a slew of work under both Marvel and DC, but the homage to ‘60s pulp science, Solar’s beginning, lends itself to this book in everyone’s favor. With a lot of history behind the character from Gold Key, to Jim Shooter’s take with Valiant in the ‘90s, and even bouncing to Dark Horse, Barbiere has a lot of material to mine from. But he’s definitely managed to make his characters and the story brand new again.

 

Sex Criminals TPB Vol 1- This book doesn’t really need my help to sell. Judging by the fact that every single issue goes back to the printers around four times, and even 2nd printings of 4th cover printings. It doesn’t end with these two. Two being Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fraction. These two share a rapport that goes beyond their comics and the internet, and infuses itself in the characters that we as an audience are so rapt to follow to see what sex-capades they get up to in their pursuit of money, acceptance, and maybe a little love. Suzie and Jon are full of wit, and they are ready to hit it…with each other. More than just a funny sex book, these characters are some of the most complex I’ve ever seen on pages, and their special sex-having/time-stopping abilities aren’t their defining characterstics. It’s what creates the story, moves the plot, but there’s a lot of depth under the surface, which is what makes people keep coming back for more. That and brimping. The intense character building and the brimping. (They tell me a detailed explanation of brimping would be inappropriate for publication, so I guess you’ll have to read it to find out)


White Suits #3- Has it been long enough since I last talked about White Suits? If I’m not mentioned this Barbiere and Cypress book on a weekly, nay, daily basis, then I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. Mob crime done right. The key to the success in his writing comes from his ability to cut all the stuff that doesn’t matter, and par the story down to the essential scenes that move the story along without page filing fluff. All of the writing necessary to a novel, does not translate into comics, which is why each panel is full of Russian mercenaries, the mysterious White Suits, and our main characters as hostages in Chinatown. Obivously there’s more than happens in between the lines of Toby Cypress’s impressionist and dreamlike work; the action is tightly coiled, and ready to spring at any moment. Cypress and Barbiere perfectly combine the show v. tell conundrum, that can render even the best comic story a humdrum.

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