Tagged: Try Something New

TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 23: We’re Doomed!

Tyler wants me to turn in my new column so he can go home. I have to write it first but he doesn’t know that yet. I don’t really know what to write about though because I mostly wanted to write about myself but Forbidden Planet is less excited about that. So after much arguing and fighting the lovely heads of Forbidden Planet have convinced me not to just rerun last weeks column where I fiercely recommended my book, TWELVE REASONS TO DIE #1, which is (still) on shelves now! So I am not going to mention TWELVE REASONS TO DIE #1. I am going to talk about a bunch of other books. Books I didn’t write. Books I don’t like as much as TWELVE REASONS TO DIE #1.

Oooh. Here is one I can support wholeheartedly! REGULAR SHOW #1 is out this week. Not only is it the very funny comic based on the very funny TV show, but if you are reading this on Wednesday (or have the ability to go back in time) the great Allison Strejlau, artist on The Regular Show comic will be signing at FORBIDDEN PLANET, starting at 6:30. I may bring doughnuts for Allison and maybe she would share with you. I may end up forgetting to bring donuts so don’t make her feel bad if she doesn’t have any to share. Also, the staff at Forbidden Planet tends to get all Gollum-y when there are sweets around so the do-nuts don’t always make it to the signing. (Please don’t go back in time just for the doenuts. That’s not ok.) Anyway, even if you can’t come to the signing buy the book. It is crazy and fun and weird. You could probably use those things in your life.

Forbidden Planet is a New York City comic book store and that is a heavy burden to bare sometimes. The Spirit is from here. Part of Maus take place here. The Avengers are from here. Part of Sandman takes place here. Cecil & Jordan are here. Jacques Tardi called New York his love. DMZ, Ultimatum, Watchmen, and countless other books attacked our city but never destroyed it. Ex Machina is about our mayor. Adrian Tomine sketches people on our subways. Frank Miller accosts poor people on our streets. Steve Ditko monitors all comings and goings from his secret lair. The ghost of Will Eisner haunts every inch of gentrified New York. Marvel is from here. DC is from here. Raw is from here. Valiant is from here. Archie is from here. Abrams is from here. There is an issue of The Authority that takes place in our very store for #$&@ sake. When you talk about New York you better do it with the gravitas it deserves. Charles Soule (27, Swamp Thing) has decided to throw his hat in the ring of New York stories and, thankfully for all involved, he comes out the other side unscathed. STRANGE ATTRACTORS is a beautiful, complex, and amazingly fun book about the mystical, mathematical, and all powerful forces that make up a city and the people who control and channel those forces. Equal parts Ex Machina, Sandman, and Planetary, this is one of those books that people will still be rereading, discussing and trying to better understand 10 years from now. If you want smart love letters to New York you have an awful lot to choose from, but this should be at the top of the heap.

INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK vol. 1 is out this week. Leinil Yu draws the hulk smashing stuff. That’s all you need to know.

I talk a lot about how good the new Image books are. A lot of people are reading the obvious stuff by the big guys- Fatale, Manhattan Projects, Walking Dead, Saga, etc. Here’s the thing, there are a lot of brilliant books that are flying under your radars and you should be picking them up without a doubt. HOAX HUNTERS vol 2 is out this week. On premise alone this book should be everyone’s favorite. A team of paranormal investigators who use their “Mythbusters” type show to discredit these phenomena while secretly dealing with them off camera. So much fun and about as good an ensemble cast as a comic is likely to have, if you haven’t grabbed HOAX HUNTERS do yourself a favor and pick up both trades this week. It was also just optioned by the suits in Hollywood so, much like Chew, 100 Bullets, and all the other in development tv/movie comics, you should expect everyone to be talking about this one in a few months. Most importantly though Hoax Hunters doesn’t go where you expect it, which is the best praise I can give a book like this.

Image also has their 4th volume of the hilarious and tragic LIL’ DEPRESSED BOY this week. Indie rock, unrequited crushes, and ragdoll of a guy make this book the heir apparent to the Scott Pilgrim throne. LIL’ DEPRESSED BOY is one of those books that will mean the world to a few people and will be missed by most others. You should buy it and see if you are one of those people who it will mean the world to, because being the person who falls in love real hard is always the better person to be.

Completing the trilogy of great Image tpb’s by their up and commers is PETER PANZERFAUST vol. 2. The little book that could, this book looked like it wouldn’t make it past 12 issues when it started, couldn’t find an audience, couldn’t get attention, and then… Something! One of the most talked about books of 2013, this tale of Peter Pan and friends fighting Nazi’s in WWII is a clever idea done well. There is not much more you can ask for out of a book. Smart and good? That should be enough for you.

Lastly, if I can’t talk about my book TWELVE REASONS TO DIE #1 (on shelves now) I will talk about the reprint of FIVE GHOSTS #2. That’s right. I am recommending a reprint. Why? I will give you 5 reasons because I am not very clever and the number 5 appears in the name of this book.

  1. One of the best books of the year, this is just classic pulp adventures, nastiness and all. There’s nothing like it on shelves now and that is sad for us but great for Five Ghosts.
  2. It is definitely one of the hottest indie books of the last few years. Finding a copy of issue #1 or #2 is becoming a herculean task so get it while you can.
  3. Issue #3 comes out next week and ups the ante in every way. What was one of the best books of the year is about to become one of the best books of the last 10 years. Get on board now.
  4. The brand new S.M. Viduarri cover is amazing. It goes perfectly with Chris Mooneyham’s moody and period appropriate interior art and Frank Barbiere’s tense and creepy script.
  5. I WROTE THE BACKUP STORY!!! Ha! I tricked you! I got you excited about a book I am in without you even knowing it. Buy it for FIVE GHOSTS, stay for my 2 page story that begins here. Or just buy it for my story. I don’t really care.  Just buy it. Don’t be a square.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 18: And Restore Freedom to the Galaxy…

WHERE HAS OUR DEAR SWEET TYLER GONE? HE LOOKS SO TROUBLED.

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I really don’t want to do this this week. This column is going to take some weird turns. Some days I don’t like writing things that don’t make people feel anything so I might just get real creepy and personal. All exposed nerves and open wounds. Awkward as a substitute for interesting. I have abandoned the idea of comics journalism in favor of weird tangents, self aggrandizing, and the occasional comic recommendation. This is a one week special. Next week I will be back to talking about…I guess I kind of do this every week. Anyway, I feel like in my war with Unkie Dev (which he doesn’t know is a thing… but it is a thing) I am fighting the ground war and he is going for a victory through attrition. We battle each week for column space and witticism supremacy (both of which I win… because I am very witty.) and I fight each week’s battle like it is the last. It never is. He has been writing a column that nobody appreciates much longer than I have. This is only my 18th. He is old hat and yelling into the void and his long game is wearing me down. I don’t know how he does it. I can barely muster the energy to be excited about telling you, my last loyal reader, about new comics. But muster I will. I got you this. It’s not much but it’s mustered.

My first review is a twofer. MIND MGMT. Matt Kindt is one of those guys that is hard to pigeon hole. That’s a weird term. Seems sexual in a really gross way but I don’t think it is. Maybe it is. I don’t know. I’m pretty vanilla. Anyway, Matt Kindt’s stuff was too indie to get the action comic persons attention, to actiony to get the indie kids excited. That’s what made him brilliant. Then his buddy Jeff Lemire broke out in a big way doing a very similar thing and opened a lot of doors. Now Matt Kindt is making waves as one of the most exciting writers at DC and soon to be Marvel but the whole time he has had MIND MGMT brewing. This is one of those books that makes other writers stay up late and curse their brains for not being able to perform these sort of narrative acrobatics. Mr. Kindt makes me feel inadequate, and that is about as high praise as I have. His cerebral conspiracy theory book has become one of the hot books of 2013 with the announcement of an upcoming film and back issues being nearly impossible to find. Now you can finally start catching up with a $1 re-release of issue 1 or the first collection in a very nice hardcover. You can either try if for cheap or trust me and dive right in. I vote for trust me. Why would I vote against you trusting me?

Ok. One review down, infinite to go. That one wasn’t so bad. I might have shared a bit too much about my proclivities but at least we got through it and now we are a little closer. It’s your turn to share.

You took to long. I will review X while you think of something uncomfortable to share with me. X #0 is out. It collects all the Dark Horse Presents stuff into one issue. Old superhero book brought back from the dead. Pretty fun. Buy it. End review.

Got anything? No? Well keep thinking. I feel like our relationship is becoming more Doctor/Patient and less Mentor/Mentee every day, which is disappointing. I keep sharing things with you that make me agitated if I think about them. I am sharing too much. When I get uncomfortable I can’t maintain eye contact and I constantly look at the door. I’m like a puppy on a dropped leash, always in danger of bolting into traffic. For the rest of this column imagine that I am reading it to you, monotone and drymouthed, but staring at the door the whole time.

They have made Judge Dredd comics in the UK for literally decades and only a handful of Americans ever cared. We are a self involved people at our best. Then they made a big budget nightmare of a movie and the ones that cared ended up caring a little less. Then they made more comics for 15ish years. The attrition of caring continued. Then they made another big action movie but this one was really good. Even less people cared about this movie then cared about the bad one. So, naturally IDW decided it was a really good time to start making Judge Dredd comics in America. My guess is the number of people who care about this book is in the high single digits. This book is some sort of proof of Zeno’s Paradox of heading towards 0 fans. Soon only half of a person will like Judge Dredd in this country. But that is damn shame because it is really good. The British like their sci-fi comics in a very specific way; weird, morally ambiguous, and loaded with layers of nearly impenetrable lore. Americans don’t like any of that. So the American Judge Dredd walks a fine line between faithful and dumbed down. It is tricky to pull off a story about a super violent cop with fascistic tendencies who is also the hero of the story, but Duane Swierczynski does a good job of making it palatable and still off putting, like it should be. If you have been looking for something out of your comfort zone but don’t feel like wading through 20+ years of UK Judge Dredd then start with JUDGE DREDD vol. 1 out this week. Americans have a bad enough reputation as it is in this world, let’s prove we can appreciate good things to our British friends once and for all.

Someone mailed me a pair of index fingers last week. I freaked out. I assumed that Tech Wizard/Human Prey, Tyler, had been taken in by some kindly old stranger only to be met with a few excruciating days of torture and finally the sweet release of death. Tyler was always too trusting. And now his sick captors were trying to lure me into their game. Anyway, I ended up having some DNA tests run though and it turns out the fingers aren’t Tyler’s at all. I totally forgot that I bought them from some weird German dude on ebay because he gave free shipping. Oh well. No idea where Tyler is. I guess I will continue to put the Weekly Planet together myself. Hopefully this time I remember to change the title. I feel like the biggest moron in the whole wide world when I forget to change the titles on my column. The absolute biggest, most worthless moron there ever was.

I think Jay Faerber is a really unappreciated writer in comics. I read the first volume of Noble Causes and hated it in a really fundamental way. I spend a lot of money on stupid stuff to make me feel better about myself temporarily, and rarely does it make me angry but Noble Causes did. Actual anger. Then I read an interview with Faerber where he spoke really well about the point of the book and for some reason I decided to reread it. Turns out he is much smarter than me and the book is really clever. It’s a great pastiche of superhero and soap opera. After that I was hooked on Noble Causes and all his work since then. POINT OF IMPACT is his most recent, a mini series murder mystery that hits all the right notes. Beautiful art by Koray Kuranel adds to the overall moody tone of the book. There are not a lot of crime books on shelves these days so thankfully the ones we do have are worth your time and attention. Once you have read through Criminal, Scalped, Parker, and Murder Book, make sure POINT OF IMPACT is on your buy list.

As I write these words or as you read these very same words something remarkable and tragic is happening. Somewhere, someone is working really hard to tell an amazing, and personal, and beautiful story about love, or sadness, or aspirations, or death. Maybe it’s about injustice, or righting wrongs, or the inherent beauty in honesty. Maybe it’s about betraying the people you love, or watching people you care about suffer, or about the overwhelming power of bringing life into this world. They have the most beautiful and personal and universal book in the world and they just need it to exist. They are working night and day for years on it. They are putting more into this book than any audience has a right to deserve. They are working two jobs to be able to make this book. They are giving up freetime, then hobbies, then passions in order to see this through. Even when they manage to sneak away a few short hours to sleep they lay awake in bed thinking about their book. Dreams become nightmares, nightmares become hauntings. They are haunted night and day by their book. They lose all their money. They lose all their friends. They lose their physical and mental health. They lose the ability to see clearly why they needed money or friends in the first place because the simple burden of the story inside of them is becoming all consuming. It devours everything. Time. Then money. Then relationships. Then their ability to have relationships. Then, most brutally, it devours hope. They lose the ability to remember why they wanted this life. They begin to wonder what they did wrong to be cursed with the burden of this story. They forget the feeling of excitement of trying to get this story out and it simply becomes a tumor that they want so badly to excise. And just like that, the weight of comics breaks them. To create comics they must destroy their love of comics. They must destroy a piece of themselves. And then, when they are at their lowest they walk into a shop to find something, anything to keep them going. And they do find something. They find out that someone made a book about a raccoon soldier from space and his space tree friend. ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT COMPLETE COLLECTION is out now. This book is great. Comics are an awesome and cruel mistress.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 17: That Can Save Her People…

Funny story. My column ran long last week and Unkie Dev’s space got cut. Since then I have been wracked with guilt and completely unable to function in my daily life. I am overwrought with worry thinking about all you Unkie Dev Dev-iants who missed his thoughtful words and gentle demeanor. I have completely rethunked my whole column to try and make amends. Also the numerous death threats helped me see the issue more clearly. For this week I am doing a very special, micro-machines man-esque, super speed version of TRY SOMETHING NEW. Without further ado…

THE MASSIVE #1 is being rereleased for $1. Frontrunner for book of the year, Brian Wood does realistic global disaster from the POV of a radical environmental group hunting for a missing boat. There’s nothing like it on shelves and if you like the $1 issue you can buy the whole trade for just a bunch of dollars more. I know nobody wants to hear that this book has some light environmentalism themes so I won’t mention that. People shoot at each other though, you all like that. Read also: DMZ.

SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY. A friend of mine who works at Marvel lent me this and said it was the best Superman book of all time. That’s how good it is. It almost brokered the Marvel/DC peace accords. He was wrong though. ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is the best, but this is up there. A surreal tale of a young Clark Kent that will keep you guessing. Kurt Busiek can find the humanity in superheroes better than almost anyone, and Stuart Immonen can draw that just as well. Read also: ASTRO CITY

PUNK ROCK JESUS. Sean Murphy steps out of his own artistic shadow to become a powerhouse writer. The story of a clone of Jesus who quits his reality TV show and fronts a punk band may make you cringe, but Murphy handles it with aplomb. His art, as always, is brilliant. This one may not be for everyone but if it seems interesting to you now you will probably dig it. I think the ratio of people with mohawks in comics to people with mohawks in real life is crazy. This book doesn’t help that. Read also: AMERICAN JESUS vol. 1

MISS FURY #1. It seems like something changed over at Dynamite and their relaunched character books have either been getting much better or people are finally caring about them. Now they launch Miss Fury, a hero who ends up moving through alternate timelines after WWII. She may be lost, she may be crazy, she is definitely angry (Dynamite, call me. I can make this $#!% up all day: 212.473-1576). This book is good too because if you squint you can pretend you are reading Catwoman. Read also: CATWOMAN

MICE TEMPLAR vol. 4 #1. How &*(%!#@ weird is it that there is more than one book about mice with swords? I think it’s absolutely insane. It makes me feel like I am losing my mind. It’s hard to find comics with black characters in them and there are two books with sword wielding mice?!?! Both sword/mice books are good. This one has some great Michael Avon Oeming art. Read also: MOUSE GUARD (obviously…)

THANOS RISING #1. I once went on a long and moderately well received rant about how I think in some ways comic writers are too sheltered. Many just lack crazy life experiences and it shows in their writing. I said something about how I don’t want to read comics from anyone who has never been in handcuffs, or slept with a stranger, or been knocked unconscious, or had a gun pointed at them, or woken up on a strange floor, or seen a dead body, or crashed a car, etc… Rantings of an idiot, but my point remains. I don’t know if Jason Aaron has done any of those things but he sure writes like has. Now he is writing a Thanos origin story. I don’t know who thought a Thanos origin story was necessary but here it is. Read it and everything else Jason Aaron writes. Read also: SCALPED

UBER #0. There’s a lot of Nazi stuff in comics. Nazis are like mice with swords, they’re everywhere. Except in MAUS where the mice aren’t Nazis at all and there are no swords. Confusing. Most of the Nazi stuff I find to be boring and cliché. Heck, this is my second Nazi stuff book of this column, and this column only has stuff I like in it. But Kieron Gillen is a good writer and can take a tired cliché and shake it up enough to make it feel fresh and exciting. His new series finds Nazi superheroes entering the last days of WWII to CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY! Whoa. If that doesn’t excite you you should probably stick to books with mice and swords. Read also: PHONGRAM

HARBINGER WARS #1 is a crossover between Harbinger and Bloodshot. Both of those books are among the better offerings in superheroics right now. This, the first crossover of the Valiant Comics relaunch, is all set to be epic and hopefully gamechanging. If you have been reading both main books then this event is a no-brainer. If you haven’t then I don’t know why you would start here. The trades of both individual series are only $10 each. Start there. Read also: HARBINGER, BLOODSHOT.

50 GIRLS 50. Fantagraphics has been re-releasing old EC stuff in these really nice hardcovers. Now they are taking a shot at Al Williamson’s work. Ranging from sci-fi & fantasy, to horror and crime, this stuff is almost infinitely fun and readable. There are some Ray Bradbury stories in here, as well as some stuff that Frank Frazetta drew. All with great notes on EC and Williamson. This book is equal parts truly classic comics and amazing history lesson. Come for the arts, stay for the smarts. (Again, Fantagraphics, I will write taglines like this for you. I make up stuff this good like every day.) Read also: CORPSE ON THE IMJIN

‘TAIN’T THE MEAT…IT’S THE HUMANITY. I could write about how this is Fantagraphics collection of all of Jack Davis’ Tales From The Crypt stuff but instead I will just direct you to the title. Now I offer the theory that anyone who does not own a book called “’Tain’t The Meat… It’s The Humanity” deserves nothing of value in their lives. This stuff is funny, gross, creepy, and like nothing that has come since, but mostly it just has the single greatest title of all time. Ever. Including the future. Read also: CAME THE DAWN

Well that’s all for me now. I just got a tip from a friendly lady cop I used to run with that a guy matching the description of tech wizard/crazed mole person, Tyler, has been spotted in the abandoned Fulton Fish Market building. I just hope I can get to him before they do. Pray for us.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 16: Custodian of the Stolen Plans

So last week was my worst column yet. How do I quantify that? Well I thought it was dumb, everyone else who read it also thought it was dumb, and not many people read it. See? Quality isn’t really subjective. So I’m sad to say that was my last column as a comic journalist. I know some of you were living and dying by my recommendations, and to you loyal readers I apologize. The good news is I’m not leaving the Planet entirely. I spoke to the important so and so’s at FP and they, after much crying and pleading, begged me to stay on in some capacity. Especially with Tyler missing, the loss of dear old me might be too much for the old Planet to take. I can’t go into details about the deal but lets just say I can finally afford that sandwich I’ve had my eye on. So here we go with TRY SOMETHING NEW 2.0. as an advice column for all your pressing social etiquette questions, troubling moral quandaries, and secret relationship dilemnas. So, without further ado-

Dear Matthew,

I love your column. You are my hero but I think there is something wrong with me. Nothing makes me happy anymore. I find myself longing for something old yet new somehow. I want action, but not over the top stupid excitement for the sake of it. I want mystery and adventure. Everywhere I turn things seem ugly and unappealing. Am I going crazy? -Ben S. from Dearborn, Mi.

Ben,

There is nothing wrong with you. You just don’t know what you want. You are aimless. Have you ever checked out Dean Motter’s MISTER X? If you haven’t then you probably should. Motter’s retro futurist character returns in this week’s one shot MISTER X: HARD CANDY. Beautiful Golden Age looking art and gritty detective stories that feel like a cross between The Rocketeer and Blade Runner. There was a time when this is all science fiction did, and Motter would have been among the best at that time. Now sci-fi almost never does this type of story and the genre suffers for it. Pick up a copy of this book and see if it gives your life some meaning little buddy.

Hey Matthew,

You are great. Keep being great. I keep thinking there should be a comic that is a post apocalyptic story ala books like Wasteland or Judge Dredd but involve biblical characters like the Four Horseman in some politically intriguing scenarios. This book would be a mess though unless someone awesome like Jonathan Hickman of Manhattan Projects/Avengers/Ultimates fame helmed it to ensure it was clever and always zigged when I thought it would zag. I was thinking a rising star artist like Nick Dragotta could draw something like this well. A sort of Sean Murphy meets Jock sensibility. All of this would be perfect on a company like Image who keep putting out good series after good series. What do you think of that idea? Pretty good right? – Javier R. from Brooklyn, Ny.

Javier,

That book sounds exactly like EAST OF WEST #1. It comes out this Wednesday. Please think of something more original.

Hello Matthew,

First of all, I love the column. You truly are the voice of a generation. I have a friend who thinks that all comics suck. What should I tell them? Vita A. from L.E.S., NY.

Hi Vita,

Thanks for the kind words. I get that a lot. First of all, are you sure this person is really your friend? It sounds like they are just hanging out with you to try and make you angry. That’s not what friendship is about, keep that in mind. Either way, you should give them JULIO’S DAY which is out today. Originally started in Love & Rockets vol. II but never completed until now, JULIO’S DAY is one of the more easily digestible while still brilliant works by Gilberto Hernandez. There are few folks alive or dead who will end up having either the massive impact or the stunning catalog in comics of either of Los Bros. Hernandez. While JULIO’S DAY may not go down as his most important work because it lacks the impressive scale of the Palomar stuff, it shouldn’t be overlooked. For a man who has found his career making epic sprawling stories, it is humbling and inspiring to see he can do the same thing in small doses as well. Give that to your “friend” and tell them to choke on it.

Hello Matthew,

Do you know what your problem is? – Anna P. from Seattle, Wa.

Anna,

Yup.

Dear Matthew,

Thanks for the column. It saved my life a few times. Or maybe it just felt that way. Anyway, I met this guy at a party recently and he seemed really great. He was really tall and good looking, wearing this psychedelic blue and yellow jumpsuit. He said he was a magician from another dimension and he did all sorts of strange tricks. He had an entourage of strange dwarves, catfaced men, and all sorts of odd characters around him. But then he said he had to leave because his biggest fan was in danger and he had to dimension hop and rescue them from the clutches of his arch nemesis. I don’t like getting in over my head but I really like him and want to see him again. Here’s the thing; I don’t know how to find him now? I am worried he is gone forever!- Rich W. from Long Island, Ny.

Hey Rich,

Good news/bad news here. The bad news first: none of that happened. You are having a weird flashback and need to sort that out. The good news: What you are describing sounds a lot like the mini-series Zaucer of Zilk. Z.O.Z. was a great and truly bizarre British psychedelic comic and has just been collected as THE COMPLETE ZAUCER OF ZILK. To any of my readers who want to feel like someone dosed them but you don’t want to end up babbling nonsense like crazy Rich over here I would strongly recommend this one. The British comic guys do no holds barred crazy better than anyone else and it is always a fun trip. Bright colors, weirdo plot twists, amazing characters, and only a passing grasp on reality makes for great comics.

Hiya Matthew,

Would you like a cashew? -Jean B. from Bronx, Ny.

Jean,

No thanks. Nuts are gross. Nothing personal.

Hey Matthew,

Great work with the column. Keep it up. I am writing because I’m in a weird situation. There is this person I know who I hang out with just to make them angry. I say things like “all comics suck” just to see what they say. Is this wrong? P.S. You are my favorite writer of all time. – Danny L. from Harlem, Ny

Hi Danny,

No, this definitely isn’t wrong. The whole point of having friends is to push their boundaries and get under their skin. Friendship should be a caustic and trying affair. Like prolonged exposure to lye, if it isn’t making your skin blister you aren’t doing it right. In the meantime you should read a book. Try B.P.R.D. VAMPIRE #1. It’s a new arc of B.P.R.D. so it will definitely be a fun book and it’s drawn by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon aka the team behind Daytripper aka two of the best artists in comics. Go buy it in secret, read it in private, and tell your friend to she smells funny.

Hello Matthew,

Love the column so much. You are the greatest mind of our generation. I put you up there with Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Ellison as a defining voice of the American experience. Please don’t ever stop writing. Your words give my life meaning. Also, are there any good X-Men books out this week? Carly R. from Burlington, Vt.

Hi Carly,

Again, thanks for the kind words. Really flattering. Funny you should ask about X-Men books because ALL NEW X-MEN vol. 1 is out this week. I don’t hide my weirdo fondness for the work of Brian Bendis. His work on All New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men so far has been the absolute breakout of the Marvel Now relaunch and with good reason. These books fundamentally break down the X-Men to the basics of what the X-Men should be. Add to that actual character arcs and progression and you have what may end up being the best X-Men book in 25 years or more. Bold words but I don’t have to back them up because you can just read the book and see that I’m right. Hope that helps you Carly. Now quit smoking.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 15: Princess Leia Races Home Aboard Her Starship.

Ok, big week here at TRY SOMETHING NEW. It seems a ton of you have been reading my column and taking my advice. Obama released the sales charts for comics last week and it turns out REPTILE MUSEUM by Cody Pickrodt was the best selling comic in the country, selling a whopping 1,288,000 copies in one week. That’s a lot of folding and stapling. Thanks loyal readers. I hope you all enjoyed reading the book as much as I did. I am sure Cody would thank you too if he wasn’t busy orbiting the earth in a newly purchased Soviet space shuttle. Hopefully there is stuff in this weeks column that you can be equally as excited about.

Of course every silver lining comes with a sad old cloud inside it. I am putting this issue of the Weekly Planet together myself for the first time. Turns out it’s not so hard. This is shaved ape territory. That’s not the sad part though. No living person has seen dear sweet Tech Wizard/Milk Carton Model Tyler in over a week. This is hard to talk about but Tyler was getting into weird stuff recently. Stuff you wouldn’t want your parents to see, stuff you would deny to your friends. Comics with no narrative, comics that were just made up of shapes, comics that took place inside large animals, comics about comics even. MoCCA stuff. Real sicko $#!%. Sadly no one at Forbidden Planet heard his cry for help enough to just hand him a copy of Hawkman and slap him in the face once. We have all seen it before. Kid moves to the big city from… I don’t, Canada? Texas? Where the hell was Tyler from? And the big city shows him things he has never imagined. Blexbolex things. Deforge things. Marra things. The first time he saw Pillow Fight it was like watching a puppy come to understand string theory. Soon he is shaving his head, hanging out in offices with british dudes, and … Sorry again. I don’t really know what Tyler does other than edit this steaming pile of journalism. Either way, if you see Tyler out there tell him someone at Forbidden Planet loves him. Tell him to come home before this world ruins him. He had so much to give. I can already feel this is too little too late. Oh well.

Image came out swinging pretty hard in 2012, firmly staking their claim as the innovative mainstream publisher. Books like Saga, Manhattan Projects, Fatale, Mind The Gap, Prophet, and King City were among the best books to come out last year. Well Image is feeling the pressure to top all that clearly. Books like End Times, Nowhere Men, Sex, and Great Pacific are all causing a lot of buzz and are well worth your time. But no book has generated the buzz or the praise of FIVE GHOSTS #1. The Five Ghosts team (Team 5G is what no one is calling them) is signing/signed at Forbidden Planet this Wednesday, (and what a fine looking and charming group of young men) depending on when you read this. A great classic pulp adventure with big ideas and breathtaking art, FIVE GHOSTS feels just like what you imagined all comics should be like when you were 10. An Indiana Jones type meets the great literary characters of the past 200 years in a supernatural thriller as drawn by a cross between Milo Manara and Wally Wood. That was probably too nice, but still, really fun book. Make sure to grab a copy so you can see what everyone else is already talking about.

While we are on the subject of Image and the signing on Wednesday, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE comes out this week and Bob Fingerman will/was also signing on Wednesday. If you aren’t familiar with Minimum Wage then you should probably stop reading this and just buy the book right now, which is a fully remastered collection of the old stuff with new bonus material. Bob Fingerman is a true classic cartoonist in every sense of the word. He has had work in everything from Cracked to Screw, High Times to Heavy Metal. He has done children’s comics (the excellent Recess Pieces), and porno comics (the also excellent Skinheads In Love), and turtle comics (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). But for many of his fans and admirers his pseudo autobiographical comic Minimum Wage is his true crowning achievement. Underemployed twenty-something characters try to find their places, get by, and fill their days in this book that in many ways feels like the sibling to books like Love & Rockets and American Splendor. Slice of life storytelling that is character driven and vital, while never losing sight of what makes indie comics fun.

Another of my favorite books of the last year finally lands in collected format this week, Brian Wood‘s brilliant environmentalist post apocalyptic drama, THE MASSIVE. Part insane naval action thriller, part end of the world disaster story, all framed around a disappeared freighter. Wood does his usual great job of making simple ideas seem thrilling and fresh, and then populating them with great characters. In many ways The Massive is the spiritual successor if not actual sequel to his amazing NYC modern civil war series DMZ. With a story that jumps smartly and easily from one mind blowing locale to another, The Massive doesn’t read like anything else on shelves. I don’t know if Wood is great at research or the best bull$#!% artist in comics but it doesn’t matter. His work feels authentic and topical, while never getting bogged down in stupid stuff like “science” and “facts.” While never quite overt, it is nice to see a major comic address climate change and environmentalism in a serious and smart way. This and Joe Harris’ Great Pacific are working hard to bring important issues back to mainstream comics and that is a very good thing. Mr. Wood’s whole career is filled with work from some of the most exciting artists working. From his old books with amazing talents like Becky Cloonan, Ryan Kelly, and Toby Cypress, to more recent fair where he has introduced the masses to artistic geniuses like Riccardo Burchielli, Fiona Staples, Shawn Martinbrough, and Nathan Fox, Wood may have the best taste of any writer in comics. He hasn’t slowed down at all in recent years, doing books with folks like James Harren and Ming Doyle, and now Garry Brown on The Massive. Garry Brown’s art makes The Massive a book that should be in every single smart person’s read list. I have known Garry’s work for a while and been counting the days until he became a superstar. I have a feeling that this time is now. There aren’t a lot of people in comics who can make 2 page spreads of the ocean seem beautiful, scary, or even worth looking at, but Garry does it effortlessly issue after issue. In short, a smart, exciting, and refreshing book that is also beautiful. Stop spending money on the stupid stuff you spend money on and give this book a chance.

Thanks for reading and good night. And sleep well sweet Tyler. Wherever you find yourself tonight.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 14: Pursued By The Empire’s Sinister Agents!

Hey lucky readers, I am back from the great state of Seattle in time to phone it in from my apartment. And what a phoning it in this will be. Last week’s column was brutal because I was jetlagged, sleep deprived, and over-comic’d (It’s a real thing. Look it up. Happened to millions of people in the mid-90’s.) This weeks column will be brutal because I am not a great writer and have been coasting on my mediocre sense of humor far too long. One important thing of note; dozens of readers wrote to ask why I didn’t mention Forbidden Planet’s Tech Wizard/Razor Enthusiast, Tyler, last week. Sally from Barrie, Ontario asked if it was because I was in Seattle and he was “Out of sight, out of mind.” It’s a good guess Sally, but no. When I travel I always carry a picture of Tyler in a heart shaped locket I wear around my neck at all times. He is never out of sight or mind. Tragically the reason I didn’t mention Tyler is much more dark and sinister. Tyler is on a journey now and I don’t think I have the strength to save him. Poor Tyler. Anyway folks, let’s find out what is happening in comics, shall we?

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Managed to get an advanced copy of FIVE GHOSTS last week. Issue #1 makes it an easy frontrunner for book of the year. Chris Mooneyham’s art is stunning, Franke Barbiere’s writing never misses a beat. This is a full tilt pulp adventure like comics hasn’t seen in a long time. Think Indiana Jones meets League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I almost guarantee this book will be a huge hit and fan favorite for the year, the buzz is crazy and the book surpasses it. Unfortunately for you all the book isn’t out this week but fortunately for you all it comes out very soon. Not just that but Forbidden Planet is hosting a signing for the book on IMAGE COMICS PREMIERE NIGHT, Wednesday, March 20th. Bob Fingerman will also be there signing his brilliant new collection, MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE. And there will be awesome special guests. And maybe a cake or something. Probably not. But great comics should make it worth your time. Mark your calenders and set aside some dollars. Not all of them though because you need to buy some books this week too.

BUDDY COPS #1 is actually out this week. Doc Shaner may be the next superstar artist in comics. He has a smart take on the updated retro style of current superstars like David Aja and Chris Samnee. In short, he draws really pretty. Nate Cosby used to edit for Marvel where he focused on the good but under loved all ages books. He has since moved on to doing fun books like Cow Boy and Pigs. Buddy Cops is like Axe Cop if you want to read absurd cops stories but instead of being written by children it is written by childish men. There is a character named Uranus. Either you find that funny or you should buy something else. I like Uranus.

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL vol 26. My bet is that most of you don’t read manga. That’s cool. I was dumb once too. Here’s the thing, don’t dismiss the cultural output of an entire nation, especially when the nation loves comics as much as Japan does. And especially especially when they make such good comics. Blade Of The Immortal is one of the craziest and most badass things humans have ever made. A shamed samurai cursed with immortality must kill 1,000 evil men in order to be allowed to age and die. Awesome, right? Well volume 26 is probably not the one I would start with, but that’s the one that’s out this week. Go read volume 1 and see if you like it. If you like reading about dudes getting dismembered, bloodworms, and really detailed portraits of feudal Japan as much as I do then you should love it. Come for the bloodworms, stay for the guilt.

Mike Mignola and John Arcudi make awesome comics like Hellboy, BPRD, and Lobster Johnson. (Fun Fact: John Arcudi used to work at Forbidden Planet. The store probably still owes him like 2000 hours of overtime from like 25 years ago. Good luck getting that John, we’re pulling for ya.) Every book Mignola and Arcudi have worked on has been, at worst, well worth your time. When these guys are off they are still better than 99% of the field. (Fun Fact: I met Mike Mignola recently and acted like a big idiot. He was pretty cool though. Firm handshake.) Now they have teamed up with the great Jason Latour to introduce SLEDGEHAMMER 44. A man in a giant metal suits who fights nazis. That’s pretty much all you should need to know. (Fun Fact: umm… I don’t have any fun Jason Latour facts. umm… Latour is French for “The Tour.” Useful info.)

I feel like a moron telling you to read HAWKEYE Vol. 1: MY LIFE AS A WEAPON. It’s one of the best books Marvel has done in years. Beautiful, funny, exciting, and innovative. It is David Aja and Matt Fraction doing the work of their respective careers. HAWKEYE is a line in the sand. You can either buy it or be the reason we don’t get to have nice things.

I remember reading Ben Katchor‘s brilliant JULIUS KNIPL strips that ran in The New York Press in the early ’90s I think. I bet you thought I was much younger than that, huh? I just write with childlike whimsy and grammar. Always bizarre, his oddly compelling characters made it less of a favorite read and more of a compulsion. Mr. Katchor always puts forward interesting and thought provoking work. HAND-DRYING IN AMERICA is his latest, a meditation on place, property, and possessions. His insights and wit offset the pervasive feeling of wrongness that he illuminates so eerily well. This is a book for those who notice they feel out of place or out of touch with their world.

Maybe the best book you aren’t reading this year is THE END TIMES OF BRAM & BEN by Rem Broo, Jim Festante, and James Asmus. The perfect mix of Chew‘s dark humor and Preacher‘s tongue in cheek religious and cultural satire, TETOB&B is both clever social commentary and laugh out loud absurdity. TETOB&B #3 comes out this week (with a brilliant cover by Juan Doe), but you should be able to track down issues 1 & 2 pretty easily. Image puts out a lot of new books every months, but few have the heart and personality of this one.

That about does it for me. I’m going to go listen to Lungfish and read BULLETPROOF COFFIN until I pass out. Make sure to come to the FP/IMAGE party next Wednesday and wear something nice. Maybe bring cupcakes. I am sure we will forget.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 13: To Destroy An Entire Planet!

I am in Seattle for Emerald City Comic Con as I write this. ECCC is the beginning of the 9 months the comics industry affectionately refers to as “Con Season.” 9 month seasons. Not so bright. Comics Industry- ok at making comics, less ok at everything else. Anyway, I flew in on the Forbidden Planet jet on Thursday night. Not the nicest private jet I have ever been on but that’s alright. I was just happy the doors closed all the way and the heat worked.

So after 4 days of intensive comics immersion in the form of announcements, chatting, gossip, snooping, and spying, what have I found out for you all? Comics people really like donuts and beer. I tried to find out other stuff but that’s all anyone really talks about. There was some cool stuff though. I saw a guy cosplay as Leeloo Multipass and that made me question my sexuality and vomit in my mouth at the same time. I saw a a bar fight where one man choked another man for 2 minutes and then both walked away like nothing happened. James Robinson called me Patrick for no discernible reason. I found out if you put Adventure Time on stuff you can probably take Scrooge McDuck style money baths. Someone who clearly doesn’t have parents or friends thought it was a good idea to cosplay as Geordi LaForge in blackface. I guess maybe some of the comic writers and artists are doing new books or redoing old books or something. I wasn’t paying attention to that. I am pretty sure there are comics planned through at least June of this year. After that, who knows?

But let’s talk about this week. Since I’ve been around a ton of comics all weekend and I’ve decided I really like ’em I am going to TRY SOMETHING NEW. In an attempt to trick you into buying more stuff and save me the effort of thinking up more jokes, we are going to do this rapid fire style. I am going to call out some books than usual that are good, write a sentence or two, and you are going to buy them. Simple and elegant. GO!

REPTILE MUSEUM #1 & #2. Only issue #2 of Reptile Museum just came out, but consulting my trusty comput-o-tron tells me that it is statistically impossible that you read issue #1 so I will review both right now. Published by Ray Ray Books which, for all I know, is either a dude in his parents basement or a division of Newscorp, Reptile Museum is what we call an indie, mini, or self-published comic. This is annoying because technically everything but Marvel and DC are “indie” so that word is meaningless. Sometimes minis are huge so that word is meaningless. And like I said before, I have no idea if Cody Pickrodt published this or Rupert Murdoch, so self-published is a difficult label to use. Either way, Reptile Museum is great. A clever post apocalyptic story that answers questions and creates them at an equal rate. Two issues in and I have no real grasp of the world at all and I love that. A unique dystopian tale, Reptile Museum spends much more time on it’s characters than it does explaining it’s world. We follow as a character reenters the folds of a mysterious organization and shows himself to be a true badass. That’s really it. But it’s great. This is a huge story scaled down and made small and personal. Mysterious and exciting, this book is well worth your support. Buy it now because you may not easily get another chance.

ALL-STAR WESTERN vol.2- WAR OF LORDS AND OWLS. DC’s most consistently great book is All-Star Western. Jonah Hex is a brilliant character, Palmiotti & Gray handle him in a way that makes it almost impossible not to love and loathe him. Someone at editorial decided to make a book that takes place in the 1880’s cross over with Batman and it isn’t horrible and stupid, it’s actually quite fun. The art is great. It’s one of 3 westerns on store shelves. Go buy it.

SLEEPER Omnibus. Ed Brubaker does superhero crime noir comics. A deep cover superhero begins to lose his identity. Do you like stuff like The Departed, Infernal Affairs, or Donnie Brasco? Well this is better. $75 gets you 2 volumes of Sleeper, the Point Blank prequel, and a ton of bonus stuff. There isn’t much more that I can say other than fans of crime, superhero, great writing, or beautiful art must own these books.

Grant Morrison writes 50% crazy nonsense that is almost impenetrable. Then he writes 50% next level brilliance that is untouchable, fun and smart. Sean Murphy is one of the best artists in comics today. They teemed up on JOE THE BARBARIAN to tell the story of a little boy getting lost in his own fantastical mind. It is the best thing either of them has done in many years. These are the best guys in the business doing their best work. Buy the paperback version out this week and lock yourself in a room so you can read though it a few times.

I don’t care about the Rocketeer. Jennifer Connelly isn’t in the comics so 12 year old me doesn’t make adult me buy them. But then Mark Waid goes and does his thing of taking old things, getting rid of the excess, and making them fun again. Then Chris Samnee comes in and does his thing of making comics that are so pretty they make everything else seem like ugly, busy, squiggles. Both men make ROCKETEER: CARGO OF DOOM a must own book for fans of pulp stuff or inventive ways to make action heroes feel fresh and familiar at the same time.

I just want to run the copy for LOST VEGAS #1 because either they have my sense of humor exactly and the notes to the editor are brilliantly funny OR someone really didn’t do their job. Either way Jim McCann and Janet Lee made RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN which is probably the most brilliant kids book in recent memory. Lost Vegas isn’t a kids book but it looks like it might be as brilliant. So, without further ado, the weird solicitation text for LOST VEGAS #1- The EISNER AWARD-WINNING team of JIM McCANN?& JANET LEE reunite to create a universe filled with intrigue as one gambler-turned-slave has 24 hours to go all in and pull off the greatest heist the universe has seen. (in this next section, can it be like a brochure, like a different font? If not, italics is cool) WELCOME TO LOST VEGAS! Aboard this luxurious casino-filled traveling space-station you will find the highest stakes games from every corner of every planet, unheard-of winnings, and the greatest attractions anywhere!* (Can the below section be a smaller font size?)*the fine print- those who bet it all and lose must work it off as indentured servants to the casino. Escape is not possible. No one is exempt from these rules.

Joe Casey is a great writer. He can do almost anything with style, heart, and humor. None of that matters because his new Image series is called SEX. He wins. SEX #1 is on shelves now. Buying any other comic instead of SEX makes you look stupid.

Cullen Bunn may be getting famous for his work over at Marvel but if there were any justice in the world he would already have been famous for his brilliant western series SIXTH GUN. He returns with a new series called HELHEIM launching this week. Vikings, the undead, gods, and monsters come together in what may be the most fun book of the year. I was lucky enough to see Joëlle Jones art for HELHEIM #1 this weekend and it is quite clear that Ms. Jones has just launched herself into the top tier of comic artists working today. With an art style that falls somewhere between Luther Strode‘s Tradd Moore and B.P.R.D.’s Tyler Crook but feels completely fresh at the same time, this book is painfully beautiful, which is what you want when you are dealing with swordsfights and beheadings.

I seem to do it every week so here I go to do it again. ARCHER & ARMSTRONG Vol 1 MICHAELANGELO CODE is out now. The Valiant relaunch books are great. Archer & Armstrong is buddy cop stuff done pitch perfect. A “struggling with his faith” teenager and a perpetual screw-up immortal are forced to work together to save the world from a problem that is both somewhat their doing. This isn’t life changing stuff, but it is the kind of comic you might fall in love with. This is super hero stuff that feels fresh. This trade is $9.99. If you read superhero books and someone as smart as me tells you that some of the best new ones are only $9.99 for volume #1 you really should buy it. Valiant are leaving cash on the table in order to offer books like this at “TRY ME!” prices. They believe in their books that much, and that should be enough for you.

OK, I wrote the last 2 paragraphs while snoring. I am going to go to sleep and regret not cosplaying as Spoonman or Niles Crane.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 12: An Armored Space Station With Enough Power.

The reviews are in! I was told this week that my column is mostly me “talking about yourself  for 2 pages and then recommending a book.” While technically that is more of a synopsis than a review, the point still stands. I talk a lot about myself in this thing. There is a good reason for that though. I am a weirdo recluse who reads too many comics and can’t relate well to other people. I tend to wall off my emotions for fear of burdening others with my problems and I put on a big, farcical parody show of my own existence so that people will like me. I do this by talking about myself too much. My only real friend in life is Forbidden Planet’s Tech Wizard/Fresh Eater, Tyler, who I think hates me. I don’t value my own ideas and opinions so I try and build myself up into this larger than life character that is always trying to keep people entertained. This is why I have and how I rationalize having a column when I feel this deep rooted personal inadequacy. It’s a shell game, a distraction, using humor and long-winded anecdotes to keep people at arms length so they can’t realize that I don’t really have anything of substance to offer them. Thanks for bringing that up. Your criticism (synopsis) has been taken to heart. So this week we are going to TRY SOMETHING NEW. I am just going to write about some comics and remove myself from the dialogue entirely. I am bringing the integrity back to this column, this store, and comics journalism everywhere. I apologize for all the minutes of your life I have wasted with my sad, self aggrandizing charade and I hope you, my loyal-ish readers, will appreciate the new format.

First review: FIVE WEAPONS is a new 5 issue monthly comic book mini-series. FIVE WEAPONS is published by Image Comics Inc. FIVE WEAPONS is written by Jimmie Robinson. FIVE WEAPONS is pencilled by Jimmie Robinson. FIVE WEAPONS is colored by Paul Little. FIVE WEAPONS is lettered by Jimmie Robinson. FIVE WEAPONS is 32 pages, including ad materials. FIVE WEAPONS is full color, printed on 70 lb. low gloss stock with self cover. FIVE WEAPONS is rated T for Teen. FIVE WEAPONS is the story of a boy who is not properly equipped yet still attends a school for deadly assassins. FIVE WEAPONS is a spinoff of Jimmie Robinson’s semi-popular BOMB QUEEN series. In recent years Image Comics Inc., the publisher of FIVE WEAPONS, has had a higher than average success, rated against other independent comic publishers over the same period, of launching new intellectual property. Often times first printings of Image Comics Inc. #1 issues sell out at the distribution level and yield an average appreciation of 221% on the secondary market within a fiscal year. It is speculated that Image Comics Inc.’s sellout issues and surrounding media attention are, in part, based on the companies refusal to print overstock beyond the initial orders placed by Diamond Comics Distribution LLC at time of F.O.C. This leads to what some analysts deem to be an artificial scarcity that could be creating a “false” appreciation in value. The sustainability of that appreciation outside of the “speculation bubble” is based, in large part, on the intellectual properties options being picked up for development in a secondary medium. At the time of this writing FIVE WEAPONS has not been announced to have been optioned. Image Comics Inc. has recently stated that they are changing their policies in regards to overstock printing. How this will affect the secondary market for upcoming titles remains to be seen. Consumers looking to purchase a new story about superpowered assassins or looking to invest in a new property with sizable fiscal growth potential would do well to purchase FIVE WEAPONS #1 on or near Wednesday, February 27th.

Blaaaaaah. Barf. Snooze. The new format sucks. Integrity be damned. Actually just talking about books is boring. Sorry. We are going back to the old format of me talking about me talking about books. Sorry if it bums you out anonymous reader, but I don’t get paid to do this so I am beholden to no one but myself. Say it with me crust punks on St. Marks Place who only come to Forbidden Planet to try to charge their cell phones- “No gods! No Masters!” I might up the ante here and talk about me talking about me talking about books. I may already be doing that. We are getting meta here. I might pull a Grant Morrison and start making appearances in the comics in my columns. I might start lying about what the comics are about. I might start reviewing books that only exist in my head. Next week’s column is going to be called TRY SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT NOW NOR EVER WILL EXIST. It will serve no purpose other than to amuse me and abuse you, disloyal reader. And when I see you stop reading it in disgust in the store I will match your disgust with my own and I will follow you home and read it out loud to you until you beg me to stop, until you vomit. Who is the narcissistic self obsessed weirdo now, huh? Ok. Now let’s get back to sort of talking about comics.

Alan Moore has two new books out this week. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen spinoff NEMO and the re-release of photo/literary biography of famed occultist/comic writer Steve Moore, UNEARTHING. Buy both of them or don’t tell people you like comics.

I am going to cram a three-fer of Marvel books into one paragraph. Why? 2 reasons. 1. When I post my reviews of Marvel books Marvel staff don’t ever tweet or post about it. They are too busy “complaining” about Bleeding Cool talking about their books to bother to support small blogs of large comic book stores (not bitter). 2. But these books are something new from Marvel though so I should be covering them and you should be giving them a chance. The compromise? Less column space. First up- GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #0.1 (Oh WTF Marvel?!? What the Holy #&<@ is that? Use whole numbers!). Guardians is a funny one. A few years ago Marvel couldn’t pay you to give a $#!% about their “cosmic” books even though they were, for the most part, very good. Then they decided to make a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie so they pumped a lot of money into telling you you like Guardians Of The Galaxy and you believed them. Lucky of all of us the new book is really good. Successful cultural brainwashing! 2. ULTIMATE X-MEN #23 (A whole number! Yay!) Ultimate X-Men has been a Bermuda triangle for brilliant comic writers for years. Bendis, Millar, Vaughan, Kirkman, Carey, etc have all done some of their worst work there. For some reason Brian Wood didn’t notice this and launches his brand new arc this week. It isn’t just the best Ultimate X-Men has been, this is some of the smartest stuff Marvel has published in years. Read it. 3. X-TREME X-MEN Vol. 1: XAVIER MUST DIE. Marvel’s EXILES book was a brilliant and fun way to turn nobody characters into compelling leads. It worked well because the throw-away nature of the characters meant that the stakes always felt higher and the characters and writing reflected that. Marvel basically relaunched EXILES but wanted a much worse name that reminded us of awful 90’s comics, Mountain Dew, and rollerblading. Hence; X-TREME X-Men. Despite their best efforts to make something unappealing this book is quite fun. If it goes on long enough and writer Greg Pak is allowed to cut loose and chart his own course this book could be something worth really cherishing. It is off to a great start.

BART SIMPSON #80. The shocking “The Death of Bart” storyline wraps up in this issue with a brutal and heartbreaking conclusion. Bongo has done a great job of making Bart’s descent into the murky underworld of Springfield’s drug and human trafficking rings feel visceral, frightening, and most of all compelling. Bart is a real character pushed too far and the things he has had to do, while not morally acceptable, are understandable to the reader. He has made himself a pariah, but he has also made himself the last honest man. Much like Hamlet, when you started reading The Death of Bart arc you knew it had to end with his murder, but it doesn’t make it any less harrowing. When Bart finally meets his end the tragedy of the moment comes with something else, a palpable sense of relief that a life lived too hard can finally come to rest. Like the gun barrel he slowly puts in his mouth, we as readers are now participants in a crime that is equal parts heinous and catharticly beautiful. And, in Bart’s passing, Springfield itself dies a little too. When his limp body, battered, broken, and abused, is pulled from the river, for the first time in years we see Bart as the child he always should have been but never could be. And as the stonefaced residents watch Marge breaking down and clawing at her own skin, each resident of Springfield knows their role in the death of a boy who never stood a chance. Bart has always worked well as a metaphor for the working classes struggle to define itself and for America’s ability to cannibalize it’s own young for the sake of some poorly defined idea of progress. In that, the death of the last boy in Springfield, USA is the death of us all. A beautiful and tragic conclusion to one of the great cartoons of all time. Ay Caramba, Bart. Ay Caramba.

Valiant‘s stunningly good relaunch continues with BLOODSHOT Vol. 1: SETTING THE WORLD ON FIRE. An inverse of Captain America, Bloodshot is the story of a government super soldier program gone horribly wrong. The Valiant books are as smart and pretty as almost anything at the Big 2, but the fresh characters give the stories a chance to cut loose and provide twists and turns you won’t see coming. X-O Manowar and Harbinger have already released their first trades and are fast becoming fan favorites for the superhero set and I expect Bloodshot to follow suit. For anyone who feels like some of their “people punching people” books have started to become stale, Valiant is trying really hard to give you a fresh alternative. And at $9.99 for the collection why wouldn’t you buy it?

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 11: The Death Star!

Hello loyal readers. How was your week? Not that anyone asked but I had a good one. Well it was good until Forbidden Planet’s Tech Wizard/6th member of Modest Mouse, Tyler, threatened me. It turns out that some of the links I use on the blog weren’t up to his liking. I think he didn’t like the one linking to him singing a song he wrote about me, but that is conjecture. He is my editor though (ironic since his grasp of grammar is even worse than mine) and that comes with a certain amount of power. Mostly the power to make me look like an idiot… more of an idiot. I, of course, can write stuff that makes him look bad as well. I OBVIOUSLY never ever would , but I could. And that keeps him up at night, sweating through the sheets in his tiny little crib. And thus we have invented the concept of mutually assured blogging destruction. I am Forbidden Planet’s Dr. Strangelove. Tyler is my Dimitri.

In good news I’m not apologizing for anything in this week’s column. I pitched a perfect game with my last column. I’m hoping to keep my streak going and have some great comic recommendations for you all. And yes, all you Unkie Dev fans (or Dev-iants as we call them), I do not consider having my column run long so that Unkie Dev gets bumped a mistake. I consider it good strategy. There’s a plan at work here people. You won’t understand that until it’s too late for you.

I talk a lot about Dark Horse Presents here. Partially it’s because I think it is a great venue for some of the best storytelling in comics and you readers would love it. Mostly it’s because I like it a lot and don’t want it to get canceled. I never claimed this wasn’t self serving. DARK HORSE PRESENTS #21 has more stuff from comic greats like Shannon Wheeler, Duane Swierczynski, and Michael Avon Oeming. I am really excited to see new stuff from the great Simon Roy, artist on the always great Prophet. But the real reason you are probably buying this, and the real reason I don’t have to think of more stuff to say is this- a new story from Paul Chadwick (Concrete) and Neil Gaiman (Neil Gaiman stuff). If that doesn’t mean anything to you there isn’t much more I can say other than you need to read more comics. Start with Concrete and Sandman. Also read Dark Horse Presents.

The point of this column is to suggest (read: pressure) new books for you all to buy. Well I feel like an idiot for suggesting you pick up HELLBLAZER #300, but as the foremost comic journalist in the world I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. As it stands right now Hellblazer is the longest running sequentially numbered book at DC. That might seem like a minor distinction but it feels important. Hellblazer may only “technically” be the longest running book at DC, but it is arguably the best. And now all of that comes to an end with issue #300. DC has canceled the book in favor of a “younger, hipper” book in the regular DCU called Constantine. Apparently young hip people don’t like unique characters with rich history. Either way, buy issue #300 and put it on your nightstand for later while you work your way through the collected editions. (I know you don’t have a nightstand, you just use a bunch of old pizza boxes as furniture.) Hellblazer vol. 1 is about as good as a comic gets and it rarely lets up for the next 290ish issues.

Dynamite has done a real interesting thing the past few years. In their quiet corner of the comics universe they have taken a bunch of old pulp characters most people don’t care about and they started making fresh and exciting books out of them. The Shadow has been one of their flagships in this re-imagining. Well comics never let’s a good thing simply be, so this week sees the release of a new Shadow book, THE SHADOW: YEAR ONE #1. Willfredo Torres does some beautiful pencil work that has both a classic cartoon feel and modern styles all at the same time. And Matt Wagner does a great job of slowly leaking the origin of this 70+ year old character and keeping you guessing. This is a book that is good enough to get you excited about the whole Dynamite line. Get into it.

Remember- Don’t talk about a perfect game while it’s happening. You will jinx it.

HOW DO I KNOW WHO I AM IF I FORGET? is the new self published mini comic from writer/artist Luis Echavarria Uribe. As beautiful as it is disturbing, HDIKWIAIIF? is the story of an obsessive girl trying to figure out who she is and how she relates to the world. Her obsessions are both uncomfortable and somehow comforting all at once. Equal parts outsider art comic story and EC horror book, Mr. Echavarria Uribe crafts a story that twists and turns under you in uncomfortable and exciting ways.  His art can be quite beautiful and, unlike so many self published creators, he has learned to write to his art strengths and draw to his writing strengths. Obviously for most of the people who read this column a self published mini-comic may be far outside their wheelhouse, but this book would be write at home in the collection of anyone who likes reading good comics, regardless of genre or format. Pick it up, support someone who is doing it on their own, and you will be rewarded with one of the best books out so far this year.

I was going to write a bunch more stuff but I am tired and for some reason my girlfriend just put Glengarry Glen Ross on so I sort of stopped caring about my job here. Other good stuff out this week includes the long awaited return of Kill Shakespeare. Fans of Fables, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and trying to look more literate than you actually are would do well to pick up KILL SHAKESPEARE: THE TIDE OF BLOOD #1. A mash-up of many of The Bard’s most famous characters, the Kill Shakespeare series is always good fun if you get the references and really odd but still enjoyable I am sure if you don’t. Also worth grabbing is the strange early 90’s British sci-fi series TALES FROM BEYOND SCIENCE, which is finally collected into one hardcover. 8 tales all drawn by British artist and graphic designer Rian Hughes and written by a bevy of great Brit sci-fi scribes including Mark Millar (Kick-Ass). These bizarre short stories explain seemingly unexplainable phenomenon in ways that will make you laugh and feel like someone dosed you. If you like stuff like stuff like Madman or anything zany at all this book should be going home with you. Now go spend your money wisely. And remember kids, Always Be Closing.

How about that. It was funny. It was smart. It used commas in interesting ways. Good books were recommended. A flawless column. And that means back to back perfect games. Give me the Cy Young right now. (1% of you have any idea what I am talking about.)

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 10: To The Empire’s Ultimate Weapon!

Sometimes people in positions of power royally #@$% things up. I’ve never had the amazing opportunity to do this before, but this new year has been all about new experiences for me. After 9 brutal weeks of spending 20 minutes a week writing semi-nonsense about new comics in this column I think we can all agree I now wield a remarkably frightening amount of power in this world. And what did I do with my power? With great power comes human trafficking. I offered up Forbidden Planet’s poor basement dweller/demerit collector Ben to you all like he was some sort of man-shaped cookie… Which he sort of is. Poor, sweet Ben. 9 “lucky” contest winners got to take Ben on a date this past week. Poor, sweet, gentle Ben. And what did you, the loyal readers of TRY SOMETHING NEW, do? I legally can’t go into all the details but suffice it to say that Ben will never be the same. Good job readers. My power and your depravity royally #@$% this up. No more contests for at least 2 weeks. Poor, sweet, gentle, exsanguinated Ben needs to rest and regenerate around 4 pints of blood… and an eye. How long does that take?

These double digit columns are rough. Now I’m onto my second apology/retraction of the week. Last week I suggested you pick up Mr. Diggle & Mr. Jock‘s Snapshot #1 from Image. I just wrote “Mr. Jock.” Huh. Anyway, I pointed out that is was a newly colored update of the UK version. Well if you bought the book you might have noticed that the colors they used are both the color black and the color white. There aren’t even ink washes. And if you didn’t buy the book, what the hell? Buy the stuff I recommend. C’mon. I went back and edited that part out of last weeks blog post because this is the 21st century and information is supposed to be fluid and temporary. But for those of you who read the newsletter, you Guttenberg-ites, you are all stuck with what we used to refer to as “mistakes” but what we now refer to as “artifacts of non verified information.” I would feel bad for lying to all of you print readers but in a way I feel like it’s social Darwinism. You get bad information, it slows you down, and a lion eats you. The comic reading herd begins to move faster and make better choices. Malthus smiles from his grave. Sucks to be you. So anyway, yeah I sort of $#!% the bed on that one. You see I don’t get sent many preview versions of books (You hear that marketing/pr folks? Sort your stuff out.) so I go off what I can. What I saw was the black & white stuff and I was told the great colorist Lee Loughridge was going to be adding more colors beyond black & white. Mr. Loughridge is a great colorist and I met him at a party once and we talked about hardcore bands for 5 minutes so he’s basically the coolest guy working in comics right now. Either way, he didn’t color the book. Don’t know what happened. Like most reputable news outlets I get my news from various disreputable news outlets. They said it would be colored. It wasn’t. So there you have it. Either way the book is really good and worth your time. Stop being such a prude and read black & white comics. It’s better for your eyes. (No. It probably isn’t.)

Atomic Robo TP VOL 07 Flying She-Devils of the Pacific

Onto the parade of new books. When Mike Mignola created Hellboy in 19XX (too lazy to google that) there was a weird byproduct that I don’t think anyone could have predicted. The “monster/freak as adventurer/government agent” genre is certainly weirdly specific and probably only exists in western comics. You got the Hellboy spinoff monster cops book B.P.R.D., and new series like Yeti cop book Proof, monster cop book Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E., other Yeti cop book Footprints, and robot adventurer (cop) book Atomic Robo. The weird thing is that all of these books are pretty good. It is a premise that lends itself well to big exciting stories. Personally I have a real soft spot for Atomic Robo and was really glad to see ATOMIC ROBO vol 7.: ATOMIC ROBO AND THE FLYING SHE-DEVILS OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC out this week. Atomic Robo manages to differentiate itself from the crowd by maintaining a serious amount of fun at all times. If Hollywood people were smarter Atomic Robo would be a successful film or cartoon franchise already. (Do they make cartoons in Hollywood?) Equal parts Hellboy and Indiana Jones, Atomic Robo is one of the few ongoing (pretty much) all ages books of any real worth and is a real treasure. Before you pass over the book because it is kid friendly let me remind you that you are reading the newsletter/blog of a comic shop. You are, by definition, at least 60% manchild or womanchild depending on your genitals. Stop being pretentious and read something fun.

You remember 2007? I don’t really. I looked online and it seems almost nothing really happened that year. Some Marvel character probably died. The Loch Ness monster was caught. George Clinton was president. That Battles record that came out was really good. I discovered basketball shorts. 7/11 perfected making “chicken” nuggets out of Loch Ness Monster meat. The U.S. became the first country to use giant robots in actual combat. I meant to see Michael Clayton. Forbidden Planet’s Executive Director of Web Development, Halal food, & Mini-Comics, Tyler, was born. I had my first milkshake with pieces of cake in it and I refused to believe it was as gross as it actually is. Crazy all the stuff you can find out on the internet, huh? All of that stuff was ok but the one really interesting thing the whole year was that Vasilis Lolos released his super weirdo comic Last Call. Did you miss it? Well it’s about… I don’t really know what it’s about. Some dudes get on a train that is magical or demonic or metaphorical. Not sure. Then lots of weird stuff happens. Well now it’s 2013. Cake shakes ARE gross, basketball shorts are out in favor of smart ties and v-neck sweaters, I probably still won’t watch Michael Clayton, and Tyler is 5 years old and makes more money than me. Also, Mr. Lolos has released LAST CALL vol. 2. There is a lot of killing, some playing with relativity, and lots of “train as metaphor for _____”. In short, the book is pretty awesome. Another of the up and comers making western comics with strong Manga influence, LAST CALL vol. 2 feels like the freaky offspring of Scott Pilgrim, Prophet, and Orc Stain. If you have been digging the work of people like Giannis Milogiannis (some folks just have dope names), James Harren, Brandon Graham, or James Stokoe, this book should be a no-brainer for you. Remember; if you just read vol. 2 and don’t bother to track down vol. 1 first you haven’t earned your sense of confusion.

Powers Bureau #1

Let’s talk about Powers for a minute. Michael Avon Oeming draws it. It looks like he puts more thought into each panel than most cartoonists put into their careers. That’s cool. Good look, Mike. But I am, in some shameful misuse of the word, a writer. I like words. Words are sexy to me. Words are the things I use to both mock and lie to the people around me, and that gives me most of the joy I get in this world. People who use words well are better than people who don’t in my world. Now let’s talk about Brian Michael Bendis. But let’s talk about him via me. I had a shameful period in my life where I didn’t care about comics more than I care about everything else. I was into other stuff and comics just weren’t doing it for me. The thrill had faded years ago, like the shine on so many foil covers. Artists turned writers had abused me and left me bitter and broken. If I did hard drugs this would be my opium years. I was aimless, vacant, distant bordering on ethereal, and almost always nodding off in the back of that cockfighting place on Mott Street. Then someone came to me and saved me. They handed me POWERS vol. 1: WHO KILLED RETRO GIRL? It was an epiphany. It was a chance to see a world I once loved through virgin eyes again. It would have been cool for the sake of this story if the person who handed me that book was Brian Michael Bendis himself, but it wasn’t. I don’t know him. He probably doesn’t hang out at cockfights (“probably” is a strong word.). It was a creepy Gollum-like man in a comic shop that shall not be named who gave me the book. Anyway, I read it and I felt something. Brian Michael Bendis writes dialogue not like the way people talk, he writes it better. It’s idealized dialogue. It’s conversation, perfected. I can’t explain how important his dialogue and the way it forms his characters is to me. In my love of writing I have stopped and obsessed on folks like David Mamet, Elmore Leonard, Quentin Tarantino, Aaron Sorkin, and Whit Stillman for periods of my life. But here is where I say the crazy thing that gets me hate mail. None of them do for me what Bendis does. Bendis made me realize that comics are supposed to be better than all the other mediums. It is the best of all the worlds.

The Powers premise, police procedural in a superhero world, is so simple yet so perfect. This is the chocolate and peanut butter of comics. And the things Bendis does within the book, they were a revelation at the time and can still give you a jolt if you let them; the talking head panels, the multiple interwoven arcs, the focus on the relationships of characters, and lets not forgot the monkey sex issue (google it). All of this was eye opening for me (and most of the comics industry it would seem). The man brought me out of my smoky backroom cockfighting ring and into the less smoky but equally sketchy comic shop once again. Powers is my moment of clarity. I knew I wanted to give myself wholly to comics after I read it and I knew I would follow Mr. Bendis until the day he writes his final panel description. Sadly, Powers has come to an end. And like Lazarus, frozen yogurt shops in New York, and noisy indie rock, Powers has returned from the dead better than ever. POWERS BUREAU #1 comes out on Wednesday. I would say buy it but I might buy all of them and give them out in Port Authority to lost souls and wayward Aaron Sorkin fans. They have nothing left anymore.

Uncanny X-Men #1 Now

Hey, did you read that last paragraph? Did you like it? Don’t care. This awkward obsessing train rolls on. So… Brian Michael Bendis. I don’t expect all people to like his work. I get that he can be polarizing. He occasionally sacrifices old characterization continuity to serve story and people like their weird old continuity baggage. He pushed the medium forward and there always have to be people who push back. Sometimes his female characters are treated like second class citizens… (I don’t have a funny quip for that one. It’s a bummer.) He is good and most people don’t like good things. I get all that. But for me this new Bendis era of X-Men is about as exciting as comics gets. The X-Men were my childhood obsession, and smart comics are my adult obsession. This week childhood me and adult me meet up for a very excited 22 pages as Brian Michael Bendis begins writing UNCANNY X-MEN #1. His All New X-Men is the standout book of the very excellent Marvel Now! relaunch. Now his “X-Men on the run” team gets their own book, harkening back to the mutants as outlaws origins of the characters. The recent evolution of Cyclops, from preppy milquetoast, to his “heavy is the head that wears the crown” version, to his current radicalization, is one of the best things either of the Big 2 has done with one of their characters ever. This is actual growth and development. This is art. It is sad, hard to read sometimes, and compelling as hell. My guess? When all is said and done Mr. Bendis does the best X-Men book of the last 25 years. Get it now and watch the X-Men take their place once again as the most exciting team in comics.

Well it’s time to go. You have new books to buy and it’s my turn to irrigate Ben’s eye socket and I have to find out if my attorney appealed Mr. Bendis’ restraining order yet. Wish us both luck.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 9: Rebel Spies Managed To Steal Secret Plans…

I am writing this column a day earlier than I usually do in hopes that with more time it will be better written and better researched. Weird thing is I didn’t do any more research and I am not sure why I would be a better writer at 3AM on a Saturday than I am at 3AM on a Sunday. Let’s chalk this one up to pointless planning and once again celebrate procrastination.

The one exciting thing about this week’s column is it’s my 9th. My final single digits column. So sad. To celebrate I will be rewarding 9 lucky readers with a no expenses paid date with Forbidden Planet’s resident Shipping Monster/Skinny Pants-Wearer, Ben. You thought I was going to offer up Tech Wizard/Baby Eagle, Tyler, didn’t you? Here’s the thing. Tyler reads this column. He has to. Hi Tyler. He would edit this part out before you all ever got close to hand feeding him the baby shrimp he eats for every meal. I am pretty sure Ben does not read this and I am very sure he can’t stop it before it comes out, hence my contest offering him up as a prize. Good luck everyone. May the best 9 men or women win. Anyway, there are a lot of good books out this week and I ran out of jokes in mid January so let’s get on with the show, shall we?

New Deadwardians TP

There are a few publishers in the world that have such an amazing vision, such a unique and well cultivated sensibility, that their brand can be trusted without question, their logo on a book jacket is basically a greenlight for smart readers. Vertigo has always been at the forefront of those publishers. Sandman, Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Preacher, V For Vendetta, 100 Bullets, Transmetropolitan, Invisibles, Scalped, Y The Last Man, DMZ, Sweet Tooth, Fables, Unknown Soldier, and tons more. That list alone is sort of breathtaking. Unfortunately for everyone who likes good stuff, Vertigo has fallen on a bit of hard times. Long running books are being moved to DC, books that traditionally would be Vertigo titles are being lost to other publishers, and worst of all, books are being overlooked. NEW DEADWARDIANS is one of those titles. Smart, fun, social commentary on gender and class struggle as told through a society of zombies, vampires, and humans, trying to survive together in post-Victorian England, New Deadwardians is the kind of book that would have been a must have for savvy comic fans 10 years ago. I miss those days of great books getting attention.

RIYL: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the works of Jonathan Swift, the Buffy-verse.

Dia De Los Muertos #1

It’s always an exciting thing when you find an artist you can fall in love with and watch their work grow over time. Riley Rossmo is one of those artists for me. Falling stylistically between folks like Ashley Wood, Ben Templesmith, and Fiona Staples, Rossmo’s work is both unique and somehow familiar. Having honed his craft on books like Cowboy Ninja Viking, Green Wake, Proof, and Bedlam, Rossmo has once again put together a new project that looks like it may be his best work yet. DIA DE LOS MUERTOS is a short anthology series with a great concept, 9 good writers contribute horror stories about the Mexican Day Of The Dead for Rossmo to illustrate. Greatness ensues. The 1st issue of this 3 issue series is out this week and well worth the attention of anyone looking for the next great comic artist.

RIYL: The old Vertigo Anthologies, Creepy or Eerie, artists putting on a workshop for you.

Snapshot #1

Andy Diggle has written a lot of comics. Jock has drawn a lot of comics. Together they made brilliant comics like Green Arrow: Year One and The Losers. This week they are finally brought together again for the first issue of their “wrong time, wrong place” crime thriller SNAPSHOT. It came out in Judge Dredd Megazine in the UK but British people don’t always share their stuff with us well  so Image is re-releasing it for us stateside. Man, I’m so happy we had that revolution. If you have never read any of their stuff get ready for fast paced, gritty, clever, and beautiful. If you have then I’m sure you’re already buying this one.

RIYL: Criminal, Rear Window, Stray Bullets.

Zed A Cosmic Tale TP

I guess the story that everybody talks about with ZED is that it was Michael Gagne’s labor of love for 11 years. That is an awfully long time to work on a book. It would be heartbreaking if it was bad. Luckily for all of us ZED is pretty brilliant. This seemingly whimsical tale of an adorable alien turns very dark and brutal when the fate of his planet is thrust upon him. When I was young the stuff for kids that I actually cared about was upsetting, traumatic, and wonderful. Bambi, The Seventh Seal, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Pinocchio, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Beetlejuice, The Witches, Lord Of The Flies, and on and on forever. That is something kids and YA entertainment has lost these days, the idea that it’s ok to be harrowing and terrifying. ZED has that perfect mix of innocence and brutality that makes it feel substantial enough for kids and adults to fall in love with. This is how classics are made.

RIYL: Bone, Wall-E, Lilo & Stitch.

Harbinger #0

I suppose a journalist should be impartial and have objectivity. I get that. Luckily, what I do is pretty far from journalism in most regards. Mostly I just tell you to buy stuff and you ignore me and buy Green Lantern. So with that first test failed I can move past and journalistic aspirations and put it out there that I have very little objectivity. There are comic creators who I like. I value their work and I pull for it to be successful. Luckily 99% of the time (maybe more like 87%) I am pulling for these creators because they are good and deserve to have readers. Joshua Dysart is one of those creators. I buy everything the guy writes. Remember a few weeks ago when I got real weird and preachy on how good Unknown Soldier is and how good his Harbinger vol. 1 is? Well now I am doing it again because I can. HARBINGER #0 is out this week. An origin story following the rise of the mysterious Toyo Harada, this issue is a great jumping on point for anyone who wants to read one of the best superhero books on shelves today. It’s nice looking, smart, and it isn’t something you have read 100 times before. Just do it.

RIYL: Morning Glories, Rising Stars, old X-Men books.

Well that concludes our 9th column together. Here’s to the next 9, may they be as sweet as our tears and as bitter as our dreams. Now to pick the 9 winners of the 1st ever weekly “Take Ben To Eat And See Where It Goes” contest. If you see a big $$$ at the bottom of this page  it means you are a winner! Drop by Forbidden Planet with donuts, lamb & rice (no salad), or Dos Toros to collect your prize.

$$$

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 8: During The Battle…

Greetings from Ice Station Zebra. For all you people out there who check the spines of your comics to make sure they don’t have creases or whatever it is you are looking for please note that Forbidden Planet is now refrigerated to ensure that your books stay extra fresh. No more rotten book smell! Anyway, about my column this week; I don’t know how many of you have peaked early in life but it is a terrible feeling. I’m pretty sure that last week’s column is as good as this column is ever going to get. I don’t know if you saw it but it was pretty great. There was a whole Choose Your Own Adventure type thing and I made lots of jokes about killing you. I don’t think I can top it and I am coming to terms with that. This is my Godfather III. I am just going through the motions here. But there is a ray of hope in this trainwreck of a column.

TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!

Well, that’s not necessarily true. Wednesday January 30th is my birthday. If you are reading this on another day then today is not, in fact, my birthday. But if you are reading this on Wednesday then HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Feel free to order yourself a piece of cake at dinner, sing me a song, and then eat it (the cake, not the song). So while I clearly have nothing to talk about in this column I thought, “I have done enough for my readers so far. Maybe too much. It’s time they do something for me.” So that is the theme of this week’s column. Stuff you can get me. A birthday wish list. Just so you know what you are up against, Forbidden Planet’s Tech Wizard/Actual Wizard Tyler got me a self portrait he painted. It’s 10’x10′, based on Botticelli’s “The Birth Of Venus”, and creepy as hell. I am hanging it above my bed so I remember to never sleep. But you should feel free to get me stuff that isn’t nightmare stuff.

MY BIRTHDAY WISH LIST:

For starters I always like cash. Any amount is fine, but if it’s under $10 it’s kind of rude. Feel free to stop by Forbidden Planet and leave cash with any of the register jockeys for me. There is a 50/50 shot I will get it. They aren’t the most trustworthy lot. I would also take Forbidden Planet gift cards. That isn’t going to pay my rent or buy me chocolate milk but it doesn’t hurt. RIYL: Capitalism. Buying stuff. Goods and services.

Global Frequency TP

You know what you could get me? GLOBAL FREQUENCY. Warren Ellis & a team of great artists come together to do single issue standalone sci-fi spy stories. A 21st century reimagining of stuff like Bond or Mission: Impossible, these stories focus more on fast paced and sometimes socially conscious thriller than they do on things like character. Originally released by Wildstorm in 2004, this book is finally back in print now. Ellis is a comic writing genius, but if you have never read his stuff this isn’t where I would start. Luckily for us, I already read Transmetropolitan, The Authority, & Nextwave so feel free to buy me this. RIYL: Queen & Country, Channel Zero, or 80’s and 90’s Bond films.

Hawkeye #7

I don’t think I would be causing much controversy among those paying attention if I pointed out that Matt Fraction & David Aja‘s HAWKEYE is the best book at Marvel right now. Sure Thor, and All New X-Men, and Punisher War Zone, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Daredevil are all putting up a good fight, but it’s sort of hopeless. Hawkguy feels fresh and relevant, smart and fun in a way that most comics don’t begin to approach. It is style AND substance. I hope every single person at Marvel (and DC) is noticing the bar is being raised each month. Issue #7 gives it an extra nudge. With 2 short stories about a massive hurricane hitting the Northeast, Hawkeye #7 manages to be topical while still being a book about everybody’s 6th favorite Avenger. On top of all this, Mr. Fraction is donating his salary from this issue to hurricane Sandy relief efforts. If you don’t know how comics tend to work, his salary is based on royalties from sales. Meaning that each issue you buy helps Sandy victims who are still desperately in need. So yes, by all means go give money to Occupy Sandy, but reward yourself with a copy of this book and keep the charity going. (And while you are at it, reward Mr. Fraction for being a class act by picking up his other series like Casanova or Five Fists Of Science.) And since it’s my birthday go ahead and buy me an issue as well. RIYL: helping people in need, near perfect superhero comics, Immortal Iron Fist, the idea of a Bryan Lee O’Malley and Chris Ware teaming up on an action book.

Tales Designed To Thrizzle HC Vol 02

First an anecdote. At a comic convention last year I bought an issue of TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE from Michael Kupperman and he signed it to me. I later gave the issue to my lovely ladyfriend, Alethea, as a gift. Giving someone else your stuff and acting like you got it for them is considered “not proper gift giving etiquette” by squares, teachers, and cops. Now, Matthew and Alethea contain some of the same letters but she can recognize that they are not the same name. It took her a whole 6+ months to notice that the book was inscribed to me instead of her but when she did… whoo boy was that fun. Anyway, in terms of funny comics going on right now there are not a ton of great options. Even if there were though, TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE Vol. 2 would stand head and shoulders above the competition. Volume 1 of TDTR was among the funniest things I have ever read. I easily put it alongside works like The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy or Calvin & Hobbes in terms of books I can revisit and still completely lose myself in over and over again. Michael Kupperman’s absurdest strips that range from the adventures of historical figures Twain & Einstein, to buddy cop duo Snake N’ Bacon, and the history of sex blimps, all peppered with old timey fake comic ads for odd products are nothing if not bafflingly weird and compelling. If you are at all a fan of the absurd in any form I would urge you to read this book. And since I only have volume 1 you can get me this as a great gift. RIYL: The anything goes spirit of old Mad Magazine, the fast paced boundary pushing humor of stuff like Monty Python, Kids In The Hall, Airplane! or Amazon Women On The Moon.

7 Miles a Second HC

7 MILES A SECOND. Painter, musician, photographer, filmmaker, writer, and activist, David Wojnarowicz was a key figure in the underground New York City art scene of the 1980’s. Often times having strong homo-erotic subtext, his work pushed cultural boundaries, continues to inspire new generations of artists today, and invoked the wrath of the christian right. After a lengthy court case, Mr. Wojnarawicz earned a hard fought victory against the loathsome Donald Wildmon and the American Family Association who sought to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. This single legal struggle did more for artists and artist rights in this country than most people can comprehend. By 1992 Mr. Wojnarowicz sadly lost his battle with AIDS. 7 Miles A Second was completed by his collaborator on the book, James Romberger, and published by Vertigo posthumously in 1996. Now it is back in print for the first time and is well worth your attention. Wojnarowicz autobiographical tales start you with his life as a child prostitute, onto his teenage years on the street, through his time has an HIV+ man, and onto his inevitable (at the time) conclusion. The stories serve as beautiful and brutal snapshots of a brilliant life lived too hard and extinguished too soon. It is not too much to say that we all owe a great cultural debt to Mr. Wojnarowicz and picking up this book and trying to understanding his life is a good first step toward understanding that debt. RIYL: Maus, American Splendor, or artists having the right and the ability to make a living in this country.

Well, that was a super depressing note to end on. Sorry about that. Anyway, I’m going to go because there are a lot of good books to read this week and you are still freaking out from all that sugar in the birthday cake. Even if you don’t want to buy me these or any other books you can still get me a present; you can go look at the comics on the shelves and promise to try something new.

Awww. What a sweet moment. Now if you excuse me I am going to go warm up by Tauntaun-ing one of Forbidden Planet’s managers and sleeping nestled in their gross guts.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW CHAPTER 7: Against The Evil Galactic Empire.

(note: This weeks column will be structured like a Choose Your Own Adventure. If you do not understand what a Choose Your Own Adventure story is you should call your parents and ask them why they didn’t give you a better childhood.)

So here we are again. Me at my computer, drinking chocolate milk like an adult. It’s 3 AM. I had a really long day and I don’t want to get into the details. On the bright side I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant next to Peter Scolari. I also thought I recognized the guy sitting on the other side of the room but I realized after dinner that I thought it was Walter Cronkite and I am pretty sure he’s dead. So that was either not him or the craziest celebrity sighting ever. Peter Scolari isn’t dead, right? If he is, you all should check out this Chinese spot on 74th and Amsterdam. It’s like Dawn Of The Dead but with soup dumplings. Anyway, enough about me. What’s going on with you? If you are reading the newsletter in Forbidden Planet please proceed to PARAGRAPH 1. If you are reading the blog on FPNYC.com skip ahead to PARAGRAPH 2. If you are reading the newsletter somewhere outside the store please jump to PARAGRAPH 3.

1. I see. Well, it’s good to see you in Forbidden Planet again. It feels like it’s been a while. Did you see Forbidden Planet’s own technical wizard/artistic muse Tyler yet? He’s here somewhere. He is always in the store. If you find him you should give him a hug. He will act like he doesn’t want you to, but he does. Maybe he’s downstairs. Duck under the rope and look for him in “The Dungeon”. (editor’s note: customers are not allowed to duck under the rope or touch Tyler.) Go on. It’s fine. Never listen to editors, cops, or your parents. The Dungeon is cool. It is full of Abominations and staff members eating halal food. Anyway, thanks for reading this before you do your shopping. You seem like a real savvy customer who wants to TRY SOMETHING NEW. Would you be offended if I made a suggestion? If you want to hear Matthew’s recommendation for you hurl onward to PARAGRAPH 4. If you want to act like a weirdo jerk and not hear his recommendation then slither ahead to PARAGRAPH 9.

2. Oh that’s cool. And hey, thanks for coming to FPNYC.com. There’s so much stuff on the internet. Some folks would have you believe there is too much stuff, but those folks are sociopaths. Either way, it really means a lot to me that you came all the way out here to the middle on internet nowhere to read this of all things. You can’t tell right now, but your dedication to our little blog just made technical wizard/evil henchmen Tyler tear up just now. He is acting like he has something in his eye but he doesn’t. He is an emotional dude. Don’t judge. Anyway, I think it’s really cool that you came here. I know you could be watching that video of the guy teaching the baby wolf how to howl or trying to figure out what Hawkeye from the Avengers would look like if he were a sexy lady. But you have a dedication to seeking out some of the worst comics journalism of all time and I think that is swell. That reminds me, do you know what book you might like? If you don’t know what book you might like and want to find out hop along to PARAGRAPH 6. If you are some freak who somehow already knows all of the books he/she will ever like crawl forward to PARAGRAPH 9.

3. Hey. Sorry to cut you off but I got something to say. I don’t want to be a jerk here but I am a little annoyed. Why would you come into Forbidden Planet, pick up a newsletter, and then wait to read it until you left? How are my book recommendations going to help you now? You can come back in a few days and hope that all the books I’ve recommended aren’t sold out, but I make no guarantees. A lot of people read this newsletter in the store and I am very persuasive. Anyway, I am not mad or anything, just disappointed. Our technical wizard/ jackbooted thug Tyler is really mad though. Next time you come into the store you better hope he isn’t in. Lucky for you, Tyler is almost never in the store. Anyway, I want to prove to you that I’m not mad. I want to recommend a book. Cool? If you want to be cool with Matthew launch yourself over to PARAGRAPH 8. If you don’t want to be cool with Matthew or anyone else creep on to PARAGRAPH 9.

4. I think you might like DARK HORSE PRESENTS #20. It’s one of the great comic anthologies of all time, showcasing amazing legends and exciting up and comers in all genres. Two cool new stories begin in this issue; Michael Avon Oeming‘s dark superhero story THE VICTORIES, and Geoffrey Thorne and Todd Harris‘ intriguing JOURNEYMEN! Josh Williamson‘s great take on the old pulp hero CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT is a great read for anyone who appreciates fun action, which you seem like you do. And this issue also has another installment of one of my favorite new series of 2012- THE WHITE SUITS. Crime and conspiracy stuff done in a fresh and stylized way, THE WHITE SUITS short story makes DARK HORSE PRESENTS worth the cover price alone. Anyway, pick this one up. It’s right over there on the shelf. I’m sure you’ll like it. If you pick up DARK HORSE PRESENTS #20 walk over to the register where one of the register jockeys will ring you up and say “do you want a bag and board for this?” even though it won’t fit in a bag because it is prestige format. THE END. If you choose not to buy DARK HORSE PRESENTS #20 lurk on over to PARAGRAPH 9.

5. The ground you are standing on momentarily groans like an old man before it gives way. You fall for what feels like a lifetime but is only a moment. Mercifully, you stop with a violent splash. You have landed in what seems to be water… maybe. As you look up you can just barely make out the fading sunlight. It’s beautiful, shades of red and orange blend together like a Gauguin. You barely hear tires kick up dirt as your only “friends” drive away. Are they laughing? The water is violently cold, a cold you could have never imagined. It fights its way deep into your muscles, into your bones even. They burn against the cold but it is a losing battle. The pain begins to give way to an almost peacefulness as treading water becomes harder and harder. Hypothermia begins to set in and you find that you now think of yourself in the past tense, “I was so young.” The universe doesn’t care though. THE END.

6. This is what I wanted to show you. It’s DAN THE UNHARMABLE. Have you read the single issues? No? Well that’s fine because this is the first volume of the collection. It’s by David Lapham. You may know him from such disturbing and ultraviolent books as CROSSED, CALIGULA, or FERALS. Or you might know him from a personal favorite of mine, STRAY BULLETS. STRAY BULLETS is one of the smartest and best slice of life/crime/I don’t know what books ever written. It’s LOVE & ROCKETS but with more murder. Lapham has an extraordinary ability to blur lines between the disturbing, the tragic, and the hilarious. DAN THE UNHARMABLE tells the story of an immortal private eye who gets caught up in a very personal case. It is violent, crass, low brow, funny, and exciting. Lapham can pull off this kind of schizophrenic storytelling in ways no one else would think of trying. If any of that interests you grab this and proceed to check out. If you order a copy of DAN THE UNHARMABLE vol 1 sit by your mailbox for a few days until the postman puts it in your hand. Thank your postman. It’s a thankless job. THE END. If you choose not to buy DAN THE UNHARMABLE Vol. 1. scurry on over to PARAGRAPH 9.

7. Her lips graze your neck and you can feel your pulse quicken. Her warm breath on your skin makes your toes tingle. She whispers something you can’t quite make out and your whole body starts to go numb. “Did she just say my real name?!” you think to yourself. Startled, you go to push her away but your legs give out before your hands can respond to your mental commands. You fall to the ground like a hostage dropped out the front door during a botched bank robbery. You hit the ground head first and your neck twists violently but painlessly to the right. The acrid taste of bile creeps up the back of your throat and fills your mouth. You can see part of your body you have never seen before; your back. Sticking straight out like a flag, the syringe she used is clearly visible. She leans down over you and sensually whispers one last sentence to you, “The universe wanted you dead.” No it doesn’t, you wanted to be able to tell her. It just doesn’t care. THE END.

8. So these Marvel Now books have been really great. Strong and smart editorial leadership has managed to put together a lot of really smart and interesting books without abandoning what came before them. THOR, ALL NEW X-MEN, NEW AVENGERS, CAPTAIN MARVEL, SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, there are almost too many good Marvel books to name right now. Well two more enter the fold this week with #1 issues. Ron Garney and indie hotshot Sam Humphries launch an all new UNCANNY X-FORCE this week. Mohawk Storm is all you really need to know. Mr. Humphries likes to take his stories down unusual paths and that is just what an X-Force book should do, go where you least expect it. This may not be high on a lot of folks lists, but neither was Rick Remender‘s run on UNCANNY X-FORCE, and that ended up being one of the best Marvel books in 10 years.

In addition to UNCANNY X-FORCE #1, this week sees YOUNG AVENGERS #1. Most people don’t know this because most people didn’t read it but Allan Heinberg‘s YOUNG AVENGERS series was absolutely brilliant. It was a great idea grounded in very smart, very human characters. If Marvel played their cards right that book should have been the hit that Brian K. Vaughan‘s RUNAWAYS was, but they didn’t and it wasn’t. Well now Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, known separately for doing all sorts of really good stuff but known together as the team behind the brilliant and shamefully underloved PHONOGRAM are reuniting to make the Young Avengers count. There are a ton of great characters to fall in love with here and both of these guys excel at really good down to earth storytelling. And both Gillen and McKelvie are British indie rock dudes so hopefully they will throw in some references to The Arctic Monkeys or Caves or Chvrches or chip butty or stab vests or 56 Up or something else Americans don’t understand. I am excited to see a new young Marvel team act like a bunch of chavs. I hope someone calls Captain America a geezer. $5 says they throw in a reference to Ziggy Stardust before issue 6. That stuff is like their bible. If you want to go back to the store and buy copies of UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 & YOUNG AVENGERS #1 do so soon. Forbidden Planet are keeping some copies warm, but it’s cold out there. Hurry, hurry, super scurry! THE END. If you choose not to buy either of these books mosey on over to PARAGRAPH 9.

9. “Well it doesn’t seem like I have anything I can offer you. I tried to be nice. I tried to be helpful. I recommended cool new books. You seem uninterested. You seem like something is bothering you. Oh well. I hope you have a great life though.” With that your time with TRY SOMETHING NEW comes to an end. You can read on and find out if Unkie Dev still likes Hellboy a lot. You can go even further still and find out if that other guy still likes incomprehensible Japanese robot toys. But you won’t. Your ennui pushes you out the door. You need to walk. You wander for hours only to find yourself in a deserted part of town. Nearly deserted. You think you are being followed now but you can’t be sure. You duck into an alley to get away or maybe it’s just to clear your head. Why would someone be after you? You decide to stay in the alley just to catch your breath. You are safe. No one wants to hurt you. A misguided feeling of relief washes over. You decide to make the most of the alley and look into some people’s windows because, well, because you’re not a good person. As you look into a dingy studio apartment you catch a reflection in the window of a crazed, half starved man looming behind you. All at once three things enter your head. The first is “Was that tech wizard/escaped mental patient Tyler?” The second is “Was that a brick in his hand?” And the last thing to enter your head is the aforementioned brick. As you bleed to death in the backstreets of Anytown USA you finally understand that neither Tyler nor the universe ever cared about you. You realize that you wasted a great opportunity. You realize you should have TRIED SOMETHING NEW. THE END.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW CHAPTER 6: Have Won Their First Victory.

So one of my co-workers today told me that they have no idea what it means when I write “RIYL” in my column. I guess I just thought that was something everyone knew. Seems not to be the case. This is like when I try and talk to my friends about… most of the things I try and talk to my friends about really. Blank stares. A sea of blank stares. An endless, bottomless, oppressive ocean of blank stares. Now I put my actual readership of this column at about 8 people split between the blog and the newsletter. One of those people is my dad for some reason. One is Forbidden Planet’s tech-wizard/dancing machine Tyler, who gently informed me “I only read it because I have to.” Then he thoughtfully added, “Stop mentioning me in your column.” No. Anyway, I now wonder if any of my 6 other readers have understood why every book recommendation ends with a series of letters and a list of other books. Is my writing that disjointed that when I lapse into code and nonsense nobody bats an eye? Either way RIYL stands for “Recommended If You Like.” It’s an acronym. TRY SOMETHING NEW has just taken it’s first step towards becoming educationalish.

Fun Fact: The word “acronym” is, in fact, an acronym. What is a.c.r.o.n.y.m. an a.c.r.o.n.y.m. for? Well you will have to use g.o.o.g.l.e. to find out the answer to that one. On with the show!

Bionic Man Vs Bionic Woman #1

BIONIC MAN VS. BIONIC WOMAN #1. I don’t know anything about this book. Didn’t read it. Didn’t read the BIONIC WOMAN comics that came before it. Didn’t read the BIONIC MAN comics that came before it. Never watched the TV shows those comics are based on. So why am I recommending this book? It was written by a man named Keith Champagne. That is the best, most badass name in all of comics. This guy must get invited to every party in the world. People probably offer him money to sleep with them. I bet Keith Champagne could kill a man on live tv and never be arrested. I bet he owns a submarine. He probably wouldn’t need a spacesuit on the moon. I feel like I got pregnant just talking about him. You know, I used to think Dennis Hopeless was the best name in comics. Boy was I wrong. Go buy Keith Champagne’s book so he gets more writing gigs and we can talk about him more.

R.I.Y.L: I have no idea. Running in slow motion? Track suits? People with robot parts? Men and women fighting each other? No. Recommended if you like Keith Champagne. R.I.Y.L.K.C.

Black Beetle #1 (of 4)

BLACK BEETLE: NO WAY OUT #1 is out this week. Why are there two different comics with color coded beetles as the main character? Because humans as a species are all really close to running out of ideas. That doesn’t change the fact that Black Beetle is a very fun new series from superstar artist and sometimes writer Francesco Francavilla. With an art style that is most at home doing stylish and action packed noir stores, Mr. Francavilla has written a character that easily plays to his strengths. This pulp detective/superhero character has appeared in a few short stories in DARK HORSE PRESENTS that were collected as BLACK BEETLE #0, but now he heads out on his first longer case. If you have no exposure to this Black Beetle yet No Way Out #1 is a great place to jump on. Keith Champagne would want you to.

RIYL: Pulp stuff like THE SHADOW, THE ROCKETEER, or THE SPIDER, new superheroes who feel like old superheroes.

Harbinger (Ongoing) TP VOL 01 Omega Rising

HARBINGER vol 1. OMEGA RISING. I am a big supporter of Valiant. They took a bunch of dead properties that only a few diehard fans cared about and brought them back to life in a big way last year. Rather than going out and spending a ton of money on big names who would do rush jobs on their properties, Valiant spent wisely. They got not the biggest names, but some of the best names, to thoughtfully and carefully bring their books to life. ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, X-O MANOWAR, & BLOODSHOT were some of the best superhero titles released last year, with writers like Fred Van Lente (HERCULES, COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS), Robert Venditti (SURROGATES, THE HOMELAND DIRECTIVE), Duane Swierczynski (PUNISHER, CABLE), (if they were smart they would hire Keith Champagne) making a smart and coherent universe for these characters. Fun, nice looking, and a good starting points without alienating old fans, the relaunch was well planned across the board. But the book that got me most excited, the book that shot my interest through the roof, was HARBINGER. Like a dark and cynical, yet compassionate take on the X-Men, Harbinger is the story of a superpowered teen who must learn to control his powers while others seek to use him for their own gains. This idea should be intriguing for any fan of capes comics, but I cared because Valiant went out and hired Joshua Dysart. Far from a household name but he should be, Mr. Dysart is probably best known for his run on SWAMP THING or writing the Neil Young comic that I didn’t read. But Mr. Dysart also wrote my favorite comic of the last 5 years, one of my favorite stories of all time actually, UNKNOWN SOLDIER. If you haven’t read UNKNOWN SOLDIER you are missing out on one of the great graphic narratives of our lifetime. I use a lot of hyperbole in this column but I kind of think that last sentence was true. It is hard for me to put into words how compelling and beautiful UNKNOWN SOLDIER is. HARBINGER, while no UNKNOWN SOLIDER, is however one of the best superhero setups we have seen in a long time and a reason to visit comic shops every month. Valiant are continuing their wonderful commitment to get people excited about their books by making this collection of the first 5 issues only $10. They are challenging you not to read it, daring you to continue to read the same old stuff when there is newer, better, and cheaper. Don’t let Valiant make you look like an idiot. Buy HARBINGER vol. 1 today. Or this week at least.

RIYL: The more personal X-MEN stories, MORNING GLORIES, or RISING STARS.

One Trick Rip Off Deep Cuts HC

ONE TRICK RIP-OFF. Paul Pope is one of those artists who has reached a level of success which means he doesn’t have to put out a lot of work and it only increases peoples excitement. There are a few folks operating in this class now; Geoff Darrow, Ashley Wood, Darwyn Cooke, Charles Burns, folks like that. Paul Pope definitely leads the pack though. Sure they do things here and there from time to time, a shirt, a magazine cover, a short story, but a new book is a cause for serious celebration and excitement. Well Paul Pope has a new book this week. ONE TRICK RIP-OFF. And here’s the thing. It’s not even a new book and I am disturbingly excited. Originally it was published as short stories in DARK HORSE PRESENTS and later collected in the mid 90’s, but this is the first time this story has been printed in color, and the first time it has been available at an affordable price in more than a decade. Containing the whole story, plus over 150 pages of other shorts, art, and rarities from Mr. Pope, this book is a no-brainer for people who want to study the work of one of the pioneers of modern comic visuals. Mr. Pope is a true badass in the comics world today and he rarely sticks his head out long enough for us to get work from him. Also, not as cool a name as Keith Champagne, but Paul Pope is a pretty awesome guy name. Grab this one while you can.

R.I.Y.L: Great art that is also really cool. Cooler than you or me.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 5: Rebel Spaceships, Striking From a Hidden Base

I feel like I have been doing this column long enough now that you all must be dying for a behind the scenes peek at how the magic happens. It all starts around 1:30 AM on Sunday night/Monday morning. That’s around 4 hours after I am supposed to have emailed this in to Tyler, our lovely wizard/graphic designer. I sit down in a chair and make up a bunch of stuff about new comics. I then send it to Tyler’s cauldron of spells/email account. He then does some process I don’t understand, blah blah blah, now it looks nice to look at. Then someone does something so that some internet nerds make it a blog post and someone else or maybe the same person does something so that printing nerds make it a newsletter. Viola! And that’s how it works. Same as the New York Times. It’s like Arthur C. Clarke once said to me, “Any sufficiently advanced low level comics journalism/sales pitch is indistinguishable from magic.” Anyway, there is a surprisingly good amount of new stuff on shelves this week and I have wasted a lot of space making jokes that only I will find funny, so let’s get on with it.

First, a moment of sadness and thanks to the great Jeff Lemire who wraps up his brilliant post apocalyptic coming of age story Sweet Tooth this week in SWEET TOOTH #40. If you haven’t ever read Mr. Lemire’s work you should be ashamed. SWEET TOOTH vol.1 is one of the true great joys of comics in the twenty first century. RIYL: SANDMAN, THE ROAD, or Children Of Men.

Also well worth reading no matter your feeling on superhero books, or anything else really, is WONDER WOMAN. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are quietly sitting in their own corner of the DC universe taking one of the most beloved characters in comics history and telling new stories for her that feel exciting, fresh, and look about as good as a comic can look. Matthew Wilson’s coloring on this book will be studied for years to come as the correct way to have coloring not just serve the pencil art, but to make coloring it’s own art. You don’t have to know anything going in, nor do you have to care about the rest of the DC universe. You just have to like good comics. DC is finally putting out WONDER WOMAN vol. 1 & vol. 2 this week. This is about as good as superhero comics get so you should get them. RIYL: Wonder Woman stories on any level, Clash Of The Titans or any modern takes on mythology

DEVIL IS DUE IN DREARY #2 is also out this week. I really loved issue #1 of this series that felt like a perfect cross between the modern western elements of PREACHER and the foreboding tone of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Add to that art that looks like a smoother Howard Chaykin and you have a really well made book. I know this is a book that will fly under most folks radars but that is a real shame. It has just enough uniqueness to make it stand out, just enough familiarity to be relatable, and is good enough to be a classic if people gave it a chance. RIYL: JONAH HEX or any modern westerns, FELL, PREACHER.

EERIE #2 hits shelves as well. I don’t hide my love for anthology comics and EERIE is a classic. Dark Horse’s relaunch of the series is off to a great start with weird short stories from Mike Allred (MADMAN, iZOMBIE, FF), Brian Clevinger (ATOMIC ROBO), and others. If you just want to read some fun & unusual stuff this is a no-brainer. Don’t be the guy or girl in your local comic shop who has to admit “I just like unfun & usual stuff.” RIYL: Old EERIE comics or other EC stuff, TWILIGHT ZONES, feeding your short attention span.

Peter Bagge is one of the modern legends of indie comics for his brilliant series HATE. When there is that much love and respect heaped on ones work it becomes easy for a lot of creators to shrink away from ever doing something substantial again. Fear of the followup or what have you. But Mr. Bagge has dived headfirst into new and brilliant projects one after another. From APOCALPSE NERD to YEAH! to OTHER LIVES his post HATE work has been varied and fun. It’s a different time for comics and it’s hard to get people as excited about a new book as it once was, but Mr. Bagge’s latest series, RESET, is maybe his best work since HATE and, if it were a different time, would be loved and talked about in much the same way. RESET is the story of a man who enters into an experiment that allows him to relive and change choices he’s made from his past. Weirdo stuff ensues. RIYL: Older Bagge stuff like HATE, the modern indie masters like Daniel Clowes or Charles Burns, or the idea of going back in time and messing things up like a creepy Marty McFly.

I don’t have much of an interest in Conan. Never did really. Some things aren’t for everyone. I know why people like it, I get that, it just wasn’t for me. Then Brian Wood wrote the excellent NORTHLANDERS series about badass vikings axing each other and whatnot and I immediately got the appeal. Apparently someone at Dark Horse did too because they snatched Mr. Wood up and put him on their CONAN book. I don’t know if that worked to bring new readers into the fold but it damn well should have. Mr. Wood is great at huge epics (DMZ, NORTHLANDERS), great at telling stories smarter than they need to be (COURIERS, CHANNEL ZERO), and great at working with amazing artists. For the beginning of his run, collected as CONAN vol 13: QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST he continues these trends. A smart Conan story that feels epic and has beautiful work by two of the more consistently interesting artists working today; BECKY CLOONAN (AMERICAN VIRGIN, DEMO vol II) and JAMES HARREN (B.P.R.D.). For those of you who have ever loved Conan and forgotten about it, this is the time to jump back on. And for those of you like me, who never saw the appeal, this is the comic that will make you fall in love with a barbarian with an ax. That’s a good thing.

RIYL: NORTHLANDERS, people using swords and stuff on each other, old pulp stories made relevant again.

END TIMES OF BRAM & BEN #1 is out this week. A buddy comedy set around the rapture. Image pumped out more good series debuts in 2012 than most people can afford to read and ETOBAB is their hope for their first big hit of 2013. This book is clearly gunning for the bookshelves of fans of smart and snarky comics and is definitely worth checking out if that is you. Co-writer James Asmus is a rising star over at Marvel but is also doing his time at Image on THIEF OF THIEVES with some nobody named Robert Kirkman. If you look for comics that have some action but really want to make you smirk this should fully be on your radar by now. RIYL: BATTLE POPE, CHEW, or the film Dogma.

My last recommendation is BETA TESTING THE APOCALYPSE. 10ish short stories from Tom Kaczynski that all play with the idea of exploring modern intangible concepts like capitalism or utopia and breaking them down into very tangible and very human stories. These are big ideas made very small and personal. Kaczynki’s style makes all the heavy stuff feel very immersive with out ever feeling oppressive. It is a delicate balancing act, and one that clearly he is comfortable with. BETA TESTING THE APOCALYPSE, like a lot of the Fantagraphics stuff from the last decade, is definitely one of those books that’ll please almost everybody who has the interest to pick it up and for a select few it will become a most cherished and prized possession. RIYL: J.G. Ballard, the more esoteric but personal stuff Fantagraphics puts out, CONCRETE.

Ok. I’m done.

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