Comic Picks #121: Scalped

November 30, 2012

Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera's Native American crime drama may not always be pretty or easy to take, but it's a compelling and rewarding read.

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Narbonic Perfect Collections vols. 1&2

November 29, 2012

Due to unforeseen circumstances, there’s no podcast ready for tonight.  We should have it together later this week, and it’ll be about Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s great indian crime drama “Scalped.”

Until such a time as it arrives, let me say that after almost five-and-a-half months I have finally finished reading everything that I bought at Comic-Con.  It’s not that I was saving the best for last or putting it off because I regretted having picked it up, but that I had read this already.  These “Perfect Collections” of Shaenon Garrity’s “Narbonic” collect her excellent webcomic of mad science, romance, fandom and everything in between.  I should hope that the fact that I was willing to plunk down real money for something that I read for free on the internet is proof of its worthiness, because the real story I want to tell here is how I came to read all of it.

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Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland

November 28, 2012

You didn’t have to read “1001 Nights of Snowfall,” the first original graphic novel set in the “Fables” universe, to continue to enjoy the main series.  However, the book made a strong case for its inclusion in every fan’s library with stories that not only feature the kind of imaginatively witty storytelling that makes the series so enjoyable, but also fill in key bits of backstory for the main cast.  Creator Bill Willingham eventually went on to filter parts of it back into the parent title, but that was just a bonus for those who picked up the graphic novel.  It also featured a host of talented artists at the top of their game, making it one of the best looking volumes of the series so far, if not period.  “Werewolves of the Heartland” is not an anthology like “Snowfall,” and while I can appreciate the effort that went into trying something different the end result is one of the weakest stories I’ve read from “Fables” in quite some time.

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Avengers (by Bendis) vol. 3

November 26, 2012

Once again, it’s H.A.M.M.E.R. time!

After being left to rot in a jail cell following the events of “Siege,” Norman Osborn is subsequently sprung from his imprisonment by a group of loyalists from his organization.  Teaming up with Madame Hydra and her terrorist organization, he aims to bring the heroes who took him down to their knees.  Meanwhile, the Avengers themselves are left to rebuild in the wake of “Fear Itself.”  Though some of their members died in the crossover (and subsequently came right back in their own ongoing series) the team’s morale is bolstered by the return of the Vision and the all-new addition of X-woman Storm.  Then everyone fights, Osborn loses, Hydra emerges stronger than ever in the shadows and Vision pouts about being brought back to life.  The end.  I don’t want to be glad that Bendis is leaving the “Avengers,” but these last few volumes have made it clear that new blood is needed.

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Image Previews Picks: February 2013

November 25, 2012

The creators of “Skullkickers” have finally figured out what they need to do in order to get more people to read their series.  It’s quite simple, really, as this one little thing has worked wonders for “X-Men” over the years and for “X-Force” and “Avengers” more recently.  What is it?  It’s quite uncanny and somewhat obvious when you think about it...

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Alien: The Illustrated Story

November 23, 2012

The majority of comic book movie adaptations over the years can be classified as terrible wastes of space that read like they were put together by whoever had some free time in the office that day.  It’s why we don’t see nearly as many these days compared with the 80’s or 90’s.  However, I’ve long heard that this particular adaptation is one of the exceptions that proves the rule.  Written by legendary writer/editor Archie Goodwin and illustrated by equally legendary artist Walt Simonson, this particular adaptation displays a level of craft and skill in its execution that puts it head and shoulders above other such works.

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Marvel Previews Picks: February 2013

November 22, 2012

Two new series and the latest relaunch of an old one written by Brian Michael Bendis debut this month.  We get the 0.1 issue of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and two issues each of “Uncanny X-Men” and “Powers:  The Bureau.”  Naturally I’m interested in all of them, but if I was to bet on which of these will have shipped on schedule through their sixth issue it wouldn’t be on the creator-owned superhero cop drama.  Just sayin’...

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Avengers vs. X-Men

November 20, 2012

Yes, I realize I’ve backpedaled on my original decision to pass on picking up this hardcover and going back to read my thoughts on the matter doesn’t make it any easier.  What changed?  Deep Amazon discount aside, a buddy of mine pointed out that the size of the volume made it unlikely that they’d be able to bind all of its contents -- the 13-issue main series, 6-issue “AvX” fight anthology, some of the “Infinite” comics, and assorted backmatter -- into one edition.  This was two weeks ago and a quick check online proved him right.  So rather than wait a few months to pick up two volumes that might not collect everything here, I took the plunge and got the “Limited Edition Print + Digital Combo” hardcover edition.

How was it?  As someone who is invested in following the ongoing narrative of the Marvel Universe it is virtually my duty to pick this up in some shape or form to absorb the knowledge it imparts for the future of its fiction.  For anyone else who might be interested, if you can’t say that sentence out loud with a straight face, this probably isn’t for you.

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Dark Horse Previews Picks: February 2013

November 19, 2012

This month, my feelings towards waiting for the softcover editions of some comics are severely confused.  Two of the trade paperbacks offered this month, “Angel & Faith” vol. 3 and “Star Wars:  Knight Errant” vol. 3 have price points and page counts of $18/132 pages and $19/120 pages, respectively.  Then you also have the first volume of Matt Kindt’s acclaimed series “Mind MGMT” in hardcover for $20/200 pages.  Even though the latter series sells far less than the other two, it’s clear that their licenses are driving up the prices of the collected editions.  It’s also possible that Dark Horse wants to present Kindt’s work as deserving of the treatment (like Yen Press with “A Bride’s Story” and “Thermae Romae”) to make it stand out on the bookstore shelves.  With stats like these (and the overall price creep from the major publishers over the past few years) picking up “Mind MGMT” in that format seems downright reasonable right now.  Which is likely what they were aiming for all along. Read the rest of this entry »

Thermae Romae vol. 1

November 17, 2012

If you read something this year with a more unique premise than this... please let me know.  I don’t think you will, but I’d certainly be surprised to see it.  This is further proof that the Japanese can make a manga out of even the most unlikely, or even uncommercial, subjects.  While it certainly has its virtues, I’m also left with the feeling that it’s ultimately more of a novelty more than anything else.

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