Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories

February 28, 2013

More stories from the creator of “Blade of the Immortal?”  Yes please!  Years ago, Dark Horse released another story collection from the mangaka called “Ohikkoshi” which told an extended story of the romantic tribulations of a group of college students.  It was wild, goofy, full of in-jokes and more than a little slapdash in parts of the story, but it was still very entertaining and showed that the man’s knack for creating interesting characters wasn’t limited to his signature work.  The second story in the collection, “Vagabond Shojo Mangaka,” was even better as it detailed the remarkably unconventional route the title creator winds up taking to manga greatness.  There was also a story of a drinking trip Samura went on with his friends that I’m struggling to remember right now.

My point is that “Ohikkoshi” showed that he had skills beyond lavishly illustrated tales of revenge and retribution in feudal Japan and that anything he worked on would be worth my time.  That’s true here too, if only a little less so.

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Jonathan Hickman’s “Fantastic” Climax

February 26, 2013

Why?  Because putting “Fantastic Four vol. 5:  Forever and FF vol. 3:  All Hope Lies In Doom” would not only exceed the character limit for titles here but is also quite unwieldy on a visual level.  Whereas this title... well, you’re reading it now aren’t you?  That being said, these two volumes effectively represent the culmination of Hickman’s multi-year “Fantastic Four” epic as all hell breaks loose across the world.  The Kree armada shows up in Earthspace to take out Attilan and the rest of the Universal Inhumans while the Annihilation Wave spews forth from the portal inside the Baxter Building.  You’ve also got the machinations of the surviving Reed Richards of the Council as he, his prisoner Doom, and Nathaniel Richards meet up with Franklin, Valeria and the other kids of the Future Foundation in Latveria.  Then when it seems like things can’t get any worse, Galactus and the Celestials show up.  So the stakes here are about as high as they can get do we get a satisfying wrap up?  Yes we do.

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Spaceman

February 24, 2013

I check Diamond’s shipping lists religiously each week, so I’m not sure how I missed this collection of the latest collaboration from Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.  Between their work on “Johnny Double,” various “Batman” stories, and their landmark crime series “100 Bullets,” the two have established a reputation as one of the industry’s premiere creative teams.  Picking up their latest in a deluxe hardcover format was an easy decision for me after I noticed it was on sale.  To give you an indication of how I regard their works, I was worried going in that I’d have to issue some sort of amendment to my “Best of 2012” list.

That concern ultimately turned out to be unnecessary.  Regrettably, “Spaceman” is the least of the Azzarello/Risso canon and it’s all the writer’s fault for a very specific reason.

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Image Previews Picks: May 2013

February 22, 2013

Okay, there’s been no recent Image news that I feel the need to comment on so I’m at a.  Unless  “Peter Panzerfaust’s” storming of Diamond’s reorder charts counts as news.  I just got my copy of writer Kurtis Wiebe’s “Debris” today so we’ll see how inclined I am to follow up on this after I read it.  Also, this doesn’t really count as Image news per se but I hope that “The Walking Dead” fixes it habit of spotlighting a member of its supporting cast before killing them off.  Yes, the death in last Sunday’s episode was shocking, but we’ve been down that road before with the likes of T-Dog and Oscar.  It’s a familiar genre convention that you’d think the writers would be wise to, but I guess not.  Criticism about such conventions aside, I do like where they’re going with the second half of the season in terms of building towards the inevitable conflict with Woodbury.  I’m just worried about Rick’s left hand now that it looks like Merle will be joining them in the prison.

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Comic Picks #127: Tenjo Tenge

February 21, 2013

Blood, (muscle) bombs, and boobs, Boobs, BOOBS about in Oh!Great's fighting series that can be as fun as it is ridiculous.

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Marvel Previews Picks: May 2013

February 20, 2013

Since DC recently had a creative summit, Marvel had to at least match them by just having one too.  While there’s still a lot of rumors that will likely be dripping out from these meetings over the next few weeks, one from the Marvel side of things caught my eye.  It turns out that (at least one of) Marvel’s big events for 2014 will be “Avengers vs. The Ultimates.” Not only will this be the first large-scale clash between the two universes, it’s also said that this will mark the end of the Ultimate one as a publishing concern.  Does this bother me?  No, because it’s hard to get worked up about something you’ve seen coming for quite some time finally happen like this.  If I’m going to make one prediction, it’s that Miles Morales and his family will likely make it into the regular Marvel Universe more or less intact.  Yeah, I know.  THAT’S an obvious one too, as will the fact that he’ll still be written by Bendis... for a little while.  With the universe ending, I also have a feeling that the writer may see that the writing on the wall has come for his time with the character and decide to pass the reins over to someone else.  That’s less likely, but still within the realm of possibility.

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Atomic Robo Presents: Real Science Adventures vol. 1

February 19, 2013

Now that “Atomic Robo” has been around for a few years, garnered sizeable amounts of acclaim, and established a dedicated fanbase an anthology project such as this was inevitable at some point.  Given that all six miniseries (with the seventh due to be collected in short order) have come from the established team of writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener, doing something like this gives them a break from the standard format and allows us to see other artistic interpretations of the title character.  (After all, it has worked out great for “Hellboy” in the past and given that the creators are probably sick of those comparisons by now I’ll shut up about that.)  Clevinger does write all of the stories in this collection, so it’s really a pure showcase for different artistic interpretations of the title character and his world.

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Dark Horse Previews Picks: May 2013

February 17, 2013

Brian Hibbs’ annual crunching of the BookScan numbers is up at Comic Book Resources and as always it’s worth a read.  While I haven’t finished the whole thing yet, it gets off to a depressing start mainly due to the dire state of manga in the bookstore market it reflects.  That may seems strange even though it’s still the dominant kind of book in the market, but the numbers show that with the departure of Tokyopop and the bankruptcy of Borders it’s not going to be that way for much longer.  Even former bestselling titles like “Naruto” are selling at historic lows and without any smash-hit series to turn things around, things are only going to get worse.

What does this have to do with Dark Horse?  The company only placed one title in the top 750 periodicals that Hibbs focuses his analysis on:  the “FLCL Omnibus” with just under 6,000 copies sold.  News like that just depresses me and it should depress the company itself that their best selling title on the list was a license rescue from Tokyopop.  Since it was, it makes me wonder if they’ll even have a manga in the top 750 come next year.  It is my sincere hope that they’ll prove me wrong here.

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Knights of Sidonia vol. 1

February 15, 2013

Tsutomu Niehi is certainly an acquired taste.  The mangaka behind “Blame!” and “Biomega” definitely prefers style over substance and his storytelling can be frustratingly opaque more often than not.  However, his art is certainly distinctive with its Geiger-esque influences and the narrative in “Biomega” showed that he was growing as a writer.  So when Vertical announced that they had picked up his latest series last year I knew that it’d be something that I’d be buying when it came out.  Now that I’ve read it, this first volume of “Knights of Sidonia” strikes me as a litmus test for how much of a Nihei fan you are.

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Comic Picks #126: Paul Pope

February 14, 2013

I was considering calling this the "Popecast," but then common sense intervened.  If you're not familiar with the man or his work, then you NEED to listen to this.

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