The Summit of the Gods vol. 3

June 30, 2012

The wait for this volume was still worth it.  Granted, most of this volume doesn’t focus on mountain climbing and almost seems to go out of its way to focus on the series’ weaknesses.  I’ve said before that writer Yumemakura Baku has a tendency to over-write many scenes, leaving NO DOUBT AT ALL as to what Fukumachi, now back in Nepal on the trail of Habu and the camera he found, is thinking at any given moment.  This is particularly annoying since he has an artist in Jiro Taniguchi who is very good at conveying a lot of this information visually without the need to clobber the reader over the head with exposition.  His approach does have its place, though, as the opening chapter details the history behind Mallory and Irvine’s ill-fated approach to Everest that set this story in motion.  The rest of the time, it leaves you feeling like he could’ve used an editor with a stronger hand, like when he takes several pages to tell us the history of the Gurkas.  I’ll admit that it’s an interesting bit of history, but it stops the story cold to flesh out one part of a supporting character in this volume.

However, whenever the volume focuses on mountain climbing, as in the first chapter, during Habu’s rescue attempt, and in the build-up to the next volume, it’s as compelling as the series has ever been.  The kidnapping subplot, which takes up most of the middle here, is also well-handled.  There’s a nice slow burn to the tension as Fukumachi and Habu come to grips with the situation and take the necessary steps to resolve it.  The whole sequence actually feels pretty believable within the context of the story.  Granted, the whole thing does feel like the writer’s way of killing time, and that’s why this volume isn’t quite as good as the previous two.  However, with all this out of the way, it looks like the next volume will be playing to the title’s strengths as we get more of Habu’s backstory and see the start of his attack on Everest.  We probably won’t get to see this until early 2014 at the earliest, but I’m sure the wait will be worth it again.

Image Previews Picks: September 2012

June 29, 2012

This month’s big launch is Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s “Happy” which is quite a feather in the company’s cap.  It comes down to Morrison’s involvement as, aside from his stint on “New X-Men” and a handful of smaller projects, the writer has been joined at the hip with DC since the start of his professional career in the states with “Animal Man.”  While he has had an incredible amount of freedom with his superhero projects over the years, the man also pursued a number of creator-owned projects through Vertigo including “The Invisibles,” “The Filth,” and more recently, “Joe the Barbarian.”  Whether it was the tightening of the imprint’s creator-owned rules, dissatisfaction with the delays in “Joe” or something else entirely, the fact that he’s doing a mini-series for Image speaks volumes about the company’s new status as a haven for creators looking to offer something new and different from the big two.

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Comic Picks #110: DMZ

June 28, 2012

Brian Wood's allegory for our divided times may seem like medicine, but it's still a compelling read.

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The Walking Dead vol. 16: A Larger World

June 26, 2012

This isn’t going to be another post on how good the series continues to be.  Yes, this volume represents a major turning point as Rick and co. manage to not kill the emissary from another encampment and find out that there are a lot more survivors out there than they first imagined.  It all leads to our protagonists finding an actual self-sustaining community that isn’t run by a complete madman.  This is progress.  After a deal is struck, and everyone heads back to their base, we’re treated to a lengthy monologue from Rick that really sorts out why he keeps finding himself in these leadership positions and his thoughts on what this community means for everyone.  The volume ends with a full-page close-up of Rick’s that really manages to make you wonder about what he has just said.

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Marvel Previews Picks: September 2012

June 23, 2012

“Avengers vs. X-Men” wraps up this month.  It’s hard to be invested in it right now as many are already talking about Marvel’s publishing plans in the aftermath.  With Bendis leaving “Avengers,” Hickman leaving “Fantastic Four,” and Fraction rumored to be leaving “Thor” and “Invincible Iron Man” that leaves a lot of the company’s core titles and characters up for grabs.  Naturally the wrap-up of “AvX” is going to act as a springboard for a lot of these transitions, but it’s hard to get excited about the finale as we don’t know what it’s going to lead to.  Plus, there’s the fact that I’m already talking about it as a cog in the company’s publishing plan rather than a story in and of itself.  Of course, if the Kieron Gillen on “Iron Man” rumor turns out to be true, that should be something to look forward to.  Even with Greg Land doing the art.

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The Comic Book History Of Comics

June 21, 2012

In the 1940’s Will Eisner, creator of “The Spirit,” coiner of the phrase “sequential art,” arguable father of the graphic novel, ran into some static from the Army brass when he used comics to teach soldiers preventive maintenance.  However, when the higher-ups decided to see whether soldiers retained and used the information better when reading their manuals versus Eisner’s comics, the version with sequential art won hands down.  Not only is this collection full of memorable anecdotes like the one I just mentioned, said anecdote also gives you a pretty good reason why you’re likely to remember the history of comics told here possibly better than if you went and read everything in its bibliography.

I’m intending that last statement to be read as an endorsement of how well writer Fred Van Lente (best known around here as the writer of “Marvel Zombies 3” and co-writer of “The Incredible Hercules”) and artist Ryan Dunlavey (artist of Van Lente’s “Action Philosophers”) the many intertwining threads that make up the history of the medium.  From the origins of the medium in newspaper strips and animation, to the first superheroes, the underground comics movement and the rise of manga, everything is told in a wonderfully irreverent fashion that draws you in and makes what could’ve been a dry history lesson incredibly vivid and amusing on the page.  Regardless of your familiarity with the history of comics, I’m willing to bet that you’ll find that the presentation makes even the most familiar stuff fresh again.  You’re also bound to learn something new -- heck, I didn’t know Frederic Wertham hated the Comics Code Authority.  Did you?

Dark Horse Previews Picks: September 2012

June 20, 2012

So it appears that Carl Horn was on to something when he kept referencing vol. 13 of “The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service” in his notes from the current volume.  There’s also more Yasuhiro Nightow manga than you can shake a stick at here... which is apparently two volumes.  But one of them is a three-in-one omnibus.  No points for guessing which series is being collected in that format.  There is (as always) more “Star Wars” collections worth a look this month, and an omnibus collecting a series I’ve long been interested in because I read somewhere that it was good.  No, it doesn’t take much to get me to buy something sometimes...

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Comic Picks #109: The DCU New 52

June 18, 2012

Or, the "new seven" based on the titles talked about here.  It's a full house as myself, John, Myron and our buddies Chris and Eddie sound off here.

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We’re still working on it!

June 16, 2012

The podcast has been recorded, but we don't have a way to get it off the recording device.  ETA is now either late tomorrow or Sunday.

The Boys vol. 11: Over The Hill With The Swords Of A Thousand Men

June 15, 2012

(Still on track to get the podcast up sometime tomorrow evening...)

There are times when I think that Garth Ennis just looks through his collection of books, albums and movies and thinks, “Yeah, this’ll be a good title for the next arc of ‘The Boys.’”  More often than not, there’s a kind of random disconnect in the way that the titles sometimes fail to properly convey what the story is about and frequently land on the wrong side of pretentiousness.  That being said, when the actual story is as good as what we have here the man could’ve called this volume “I Banged Your Mom Last Night” and I wouldn’t have had a problem with it.

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