Thief of Thieves vol. 2: Help Me

May 31, 2013

I didn’t expect the first volume of this series to grow on me as much as it did while I was reading it.  The end result was that I wound up looking forward to reading the next volume more than I thought I would.  Creator/co-writer Robert Kirkman and artist Shawn Martinbrough are still onboard, but they’re joined by James Asmus for this arc.  He’s a writer who I’m not that familiar with, even though I know he did the last arc of “Generation Hope” and is currently writing “Gambit” for Marvel.  While I don’t want to put everything in this volume that rubbed me the wrong way down to him, the fact remains that it isn’t as entertaining as the first.

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Comic Picks #134: Hidden Treasures of Manga

May 30, 2013

What are they?  Click to find out.  (Most likely the first part of a multi-part series.)

Glick's Note:  I would've included Moto Hagio's excellent "A, A'" in here as well, but Shaenon Garrity wrote about its virtues much more compellingly than I would've managed.

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Image Previews Picks: August 2013

May 27, 2013

Do I have anything to say about Image right now?  Not a damn thing at the moment.  Of course, I am coming down from the high of attending Fanime in San Jose since Thursday.  Even though I went with John for an extra day this year, the con didn’t seem to last any longer because of it.  We both had a great time in spite of the godawful mess (and that’s putting it lightly) that was registration and issues with certain panels and movies being cancelled.  There were, however, lots of great panels this year and I now have a new con staple with their comedy panels thanks to John’s recommendation.  Good deals were had at the swap meet, I finally saw the live-action “Ruroni Kenshin” movie (which was quite good thanks to the fact that the people who made it actually put some thought into how to make the stories they adapted work as a two-hour story), and some anime music videos as well.  Bizarrely, the four late-night hentai AMVs I saw were actually better than most of the ones in the formal competition during the day.  It’s not how things should work, but that’s how they did here.

Oh, John and I also recorded a podcast at the con as well.  Given that we did it while at an anime/manga/Japanese culture convention, you’ll see that the content will be appropriate in that regard when it goes up on Wednesday.

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Marvel Previews Picks: August 2013

May 26, 2013

So I did get out to see “Iron Man 3” a couple weeks back and was thoroughly impressed by what I saw.  Though it didn’t quite capture the “shock of the new” that the first film had, it was still a big step up from the previous one in that it gave us an actual story.  It was one that lifted the core concept and some characters from Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s “Extremis” storyline to decent effect.  Yes, there were a few plot holes here and there (just how did Killian think that he’d be able to get away with killing the president on live TV anyway), but it helped sustain the film along with the superb acting, great action scenes and sharp dialogue courtesy of writer/director Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce.  Special mention has to go to their interpretation of the Mandarin and Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of him in the film.  I think it’s still too early to talk about spoilers, but I think it was an AWESOME take on the character and I hope that when Kingsley starts getting lifetime achievement awards from the Academy, AFI and the like, that they use scenes from this movie along with “Ghandi” and “Sexy Beast.” (If nothing else, they’ll make for an interesting contrast as they show the breadth and range of his work.)

Speaking of which, given that Marvel has shown an inclination to make their comics more in line with their movies (Hello Nick Fury Jr.!), when will we see the comics version of the Mandarin line up with the one in this movie?  I mean, how could the company not pass up a golden opportunity like this to bring their universe in line with what will likely be the year’s only $400 million dollar grossing movie!?

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Dark Horse Previews Picks: August 2013

May 24, 2013

Going back to “The Beat” again, there was an article from last week that asked the question, “Is Dark Horse Entering a Golden Age?”  Writer Hannah Means-Shannon, who also did the article about the “Essential DC Graphic Novels” cites the company’s long reliance on (quality) licensed titles like “Star Wars” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as providing them a steady bedrock of income that allows for the publication of buzzworthy creator-owned titles like “Mind MGMT” and “The Black Beetle” as well as upcoming series like “The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.”  While I would like to share Hannah’s optimism, I just can’t see it.  That Dark Horse uses revenue from licensed titles to subsidize its more riskier efforts is something they’ve been doing since almost day one, or at least when they published their first “Aliens” comic. The titles she cites also haven’t really made much of a dent in the direct market sales-wise, and while Brian Wood’s “Star Wars” title has been an unqualified success, I don’t think the company has had a title pass 100K issues sold since the early days of “Buffy Season Eight.”  There’s also no mention of the manga they publish, but I doubt that my thoughts on their efforts there need to be reiterated.

Of course, the biggest problem with the article is that there’s a company that’s currently experiencing a “golden age” of its own right now:  Image.  Not only do they consistently beat Dark Horse in sales each month, but they now have two top ten titles in “The Walking Dead” and Millar & Quitely’s “Jupiter’s Legacy” (for the moment, anyway).  They’ve also got strong performers in Hickman’s “East of West” and “Manhattan Projects,” Kirkman’s “Invincible” and “Thief of Thieves,” Brubaker and Phillips’ “Fatale,” and Vaughan & Staples’ “Saga.”.  This is a company that’s been going from strength to strength for over a year now and the good times don’t seem to be due for a sudden end since (unlike that last Image boom) the successes here are built on quality work rather than unchecked speculation.  I’d like to see Dark Horse enjoy this level of success too, but they’ve found a plan that works for them and seem content to follow it as long as it continues to work for them.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten everyone properly excited for the company’s future *rimshot* here’s what their latest solicitations hold!

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DC Previews Picks: August 2013

May 23, 2013

The Beat posted a breakdown of the “DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels” promotional magazine that came out recently.  It contains 25 titles in the list and is full of titles that deserve the “essential” tag (“Sandman” vol. 1, “The Dark Knight Returns,” “Saga of the Swamp Thing” vol. 1), some that are just good (“American Vampire” vol. 1, “Green Lantern:  Rebirth,” “JLA” vol. 1), and some that make you go “Really?” (“The Flash:  Rebirth,” “Superman:  Earth One” vol. 1, “Identity Crisis”)  It’s clearly a promotional tool and if DC wants to create an entryway for readers who aren’t too familiar with their wares or the medium itself then more power to them.  Personally, I can’t put too much stock in any “Essential DC” list that doesn’t include the likes of “Preacher,” “Transmetropolitan,” “100 Bullets” or any of Paul Pope’s work in it.  (Yes, that’s almost all Vertigo right there.  Why do you ask?)

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Batman, Incorporated vol. 1: Demon Star

May 21, 2013

I said over a year ago that the finale of Grant Morrison’s “Batman” run was shaping up to be nothing less than awesome, and this latest/new/unrebooted volume of “Batman, Incorporated” goes a long way towards proving that.  With the mastermind behind the globe-spanning criminal organization known as Leviathan revealed to be Talia Al’Ghul, the true nature of this conflict stands revealed.  Vindictive at Batman’s rejection of her offer of a family with their son Damian, she sets out to infiltrate every aspect of Gotham and reduce his city to ash.  The Dark Knight, however, has plans of his own and an army of followers to see them fulfilled.

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Morning Glories vol. 4: Truants

May 19, 2013

Reading this volume makes me wish that Nick Spencer would take some time and read through all of Naoki Urasawa’s “20th Century Boys.”  Though both of their series are very different in style and tone, at their cores they deal with mysteries that slowly unfold over a long period of time.  What gives Urasawa’s series the edge here is that he managed the trick of making just about each volume an entertaining read unto itself while slowly doling out pieces of the puzzle.  Spencer... well, he hasn’t quite managed that trick yet.  There’s fun to be had in this fourth volume of “Morning Glories,” but you’re also left with the feeling that any real enjoyment is going to hinge upon how its numerous mysteries ultimately play out.

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Bakuman vol. 19

May 17, 2013

Everyone who has read my reviews of this series so far should know by know that while I enjoy it a great deal, there’s always been one thing holding it back.  The “romance” between Moritaka and his “girlfriend” Miho; or rather, the complete lack thereof due to their idiot promise at the start of the series to not see each other (but texting’s fine) until they had realized their dreams.  Well, now that we’ve reached the penultimate volume there’s finally some traction on that front as the prospect of Moritaka and Akito getting an anime for their series “Reversi” looms.  Much to my surprise, I found the couple’s “romance” to be less irritating in this volume.  That’s mainly down to how writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata pit it against something I find even MORE irritating:  the feelings of entitlement from Japanese otaku.

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Comic Picks #133: The Travelogues of Guy Delisle

May 16, 2013

His accounts of Pyongyang, Shenzen, Burma and Jerusalem are all worth checking out -- though one stands above the rest.

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