Prophet vol. 3: Empire

February 28, 2014

If you like this title for the pervasive weirdness it offers up, then you might be just a little disappointed by vol. 3.  Oh, there’s plenty of interesting sights to behold, like the multitude of various Johns we see on Earth.  Big ones, tall ones, small ones built for pleasure, ones with multiple faces, symbiotic ones with giant brains -- the list goes on.  It’s all a part of the window we get into the Great Earth Empire after focusing on Old Man Prophet’s exploits in the previous volume.  The focus is on the first John we met in this series, Newfather, as he is awakened to a much greater threat facing the universe and recruits some of his like-minded comrades to assist him in confronting it.  This is also true of Old Man Prophet though his route takes him down the far stranger path of integrating even more old characters created by Rob Liefeld into this series.


The thing that stands out to me about this volume is that even though it continues to offer plenty of out-there visuals and ideas, the storytelling hews pretty close to convention for the most part.  You can see this in the opening tale, about a female John who has to track down one of her brothers who went native and the sympathy she develops for them as well as the greater threat that looks to force a union between the warring factions in this title.  So the disappointment comes from realizing that the story we’re getting here isn’t as entertainingly weird as the trappings around it.  That said, the art is still great as original artist Simon Roy returns to illustrate the “Earth Empire” sections and he gives the visuals a wonderfully fleshy detail to them which suits their copious action and violence.  Giannis Milonogiannis continues to refine his style here, offering up a interesting contrast in the “Old Man Prophet” scenes as he delivers art with lots of thinly precise detail to it.  Given that writer Brandon Graham is an artist itself, it’s not surprising that the book continues to be a visual feast, even if the writing here only offers more proof that he’s better with images than the stories surrounding them.


Jason Glick

Bokurano vol. 10

February 27, 2014

We’re in the title’s home stretch as there’s only one more volume to go.  With the final conflicts looming, mangaka Mohiro Kitoh takes a break from the mecha battles and focuses almost exclusively on the personal journey the two remaining pilots, Jun and Yoko, take to give closure to the families of the children who have piloted Zearth.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this particular storyline, yet it ultimately wound up working a lot better than I was expecting.  At least, it does until a couple last-minute twists wind up sabotaging the book’s momentum as it prepares to wrap things up.


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Marvel Previews Picks: May 2014

February 26, 2014

You know, it occurred to me earlier today that with “Miracleman” now being republished by Marvel are there any other great series from the 80’s still waiting to be collected?  One comes to mind:  “Rom:  Spaeceknight.”  Originally a tie-in to a long-forgotten toy, “Rom” transcended its roots to become an epic about one man who was willing to sacrifice everything to save his people and the people of Earth from the threat of the Dire Wraiths.  There’s a friend of mine who swears by this series and he loaned me all 75 issues (plus annuals) several years back.  Given that the series hails from the 80’s, there’s a lot of Marvel-style histrionics and expository dialogue that you’ll have to be willing to wade through.  However, if you can accept those things then it becomes quite easy to get caught up in Rom’s quest.  Not only does the series provide a great trip through the Marvel Universe of the era as the title character teams up with EVERYONE, the legal circumstances surrounding his ownership meant that the ending he got has stuck (more or less) ever since.  The great Bill Mantlo wrote every issue and it’s not hard to see why he’s so beloved for it.  Given that “Rom” still has at least a vocal fanbase, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Disney may be working on getting the rights for themselves just so that they can have access to every Marvel character ever.  I wish them the best of luck if that’s the case, so long as the original comics get reprinted if they’re successful.


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The Unwritten vol. 8: Orpheus in the Underworld

February 25, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve written about “The Unwritten” proper, so let’s fix that.  After losing his friend/lover Lizzie Hexam in “The War of Words,” Tom Taylor finally gets a lead on where she wound up.  Problem is that she’s now in Hades.  Now getting there is the easy part for someone who can travel through stories, even when the fictional landscape they inhabit is such a mess that some of Jane Austen’s most notable characters are now whoring themselves out for food.  The problem is that in getting there, Tom winds up drinking from the river Lethe and loses his memory and reason for making the journey in the first place.  Meanwhile, back in the subjectively real world, Richie the Vampire gets mixed up in a recurring zombie story and Madame Rausch gets a dog in the fight for all of reality.


Told like that, you might think that this volume has a lot going on and provides a enough to keep your attention throughout.  That’s only about half true as the main story here -- Tom’s journey to find Lizzie -- feels like it’s simply marking time than anything else.  Oh, there’s plenty of well-utilized fanservice in this volume.  Lots of familiar faces from the series reappear here in Hades, from “Tommy Taylor” superfans Cosi and Leon, to none other than Pullman himself in a very appropriate guise.  Paulie Bruckner gets his largest role to date and shows that he’s a character best taken in small doses.  There is at least one nice surprise regarding Mr. Bruckner’s “origin” and the surprising return of a certain character which is bound to lead to some very interesting scenes providing that he and Tom can get some time alone to talk.  We also do get some narrative momentum going in the end when we, along with Tom, find out what’s at stake and witness his plan to find out just what makes his story tick.


In case you’ve forgotten, it involves “Fables.”  I wish the rest of the book had been as compelling as its final moments, but it does set up the impending crossover quite well.


Jason Glick

DC Previews Picks: May 2014

February 24, 2014

It almost seemed like pure fantasy at first, but it’s actually happening.  After working almost exclusively at Marvel all these years, John Romita Jr. is jumping ship to DC to illustrate “Superman.”  The word is that the Distinguished Competition has been wanting to get the artist away from Marvel for a while now and has only managed to pull it off due to two reasons.  One, Romita Jr. wanted to do Superman.  Two, he wanted to work with an A-list writer while doing it.  So he’ll be collaborating with Geoff Johns with their debut issue likely to arrive just in time for Comic-Con.  I’ve generally liked Romita Jr.’s work at Marvel, though the promotional drawing of Superman that’s been making the rounds has left something to be desired in my opinion.  Even so, with Johns’ involvement I’m willing to be optimistic about this.  Picking up the writer’s previous “Superman” work has also been put on my “to do” list as well.


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Dial H vol. 2: Exchange

February 23, 2014

This was a series that was too weird to live.  Some people have argued that it should’ve been published through Vertigo, but it wouldn’t have felt entirely appropriate there.  Strange as it was, “Dial H” is a series that’s steeped in the superhero mythos and it was entertaining as a trip through the strange back alleys and dimensions of the DC Universe.  You can tell that writer China Mieville clearly had plans to do more with what he established here, and the wrap-up inevitably feels rushed.  Yet if you like your superhero comics strange, then you’ll probably be willing to forgive the series its issues.


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Dark Horse Previews Picks: May 2014

February 22, 2014

There was one genuinely mind-blowing solicitation in this month’s offering.  Yes, it was a manga title.  No, it’s not the one you’re thinking about.  However, it’s not the one that deserves above-the-line recognition here.


The Sakai Project HC is a celebration of 30 years of Stan Sakai’s legendary “Usagi Yojimbo” from a host of the industry’s greatest artists.  Sakai has been going through some tough times recently with his wife Sharon’s illness and the proceeds from this graphic novel will go directly towards the man himself.  With that setup, this volume isn’t a probable buy for me -- it’s a must buy.  The enjoyment I’ve derived from “Usagi” over the years demands at least that much.  If you’re interested in contributing more, there are currently twenty-seven volumes in print and they are all worth your time.


That being said, expect more frivolity after the break.


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An Addendum to Comic Picks #153

February 21, 2014

The trouble with doing podcasts as off-the-cuff as I do is that after they’re done, something else I should’ve mentioned tends to come to mind.  Usually it’s a minor thing that doesn’t bear addressing, but that’s not the case with Abe Sapien.  A while back I wrote about how “B.P.R.D.” seemed to be setting the character up for a fall as he embraced a calling that put him at odds with his friends and comrades.  That’s still a storyline I’d like to read about and even though this path also looks like it might be pursued with Andersen in “Vampire” it’d still be valid with Abe’s ongoing series for a couple reasons.  Not only do we have no idea when we’ll get a follow-up to “Vampire,” but it’ll also help distinguish Abe’s solo title and give it the focus I felt it needed after the end of the first volume.


Though I enjoyed the stories about the character I discussed on the podcast, the fact remains that they’re not all that dissimilar from what we’ve been getting from “Hellboy” over the years.  Now it could be that Mike Mignola and his co-writers Scott Allie and John Arcudi are simply warming up for this path that I mentioned.  We have Panya effectively pushing Abe away from the B.P.R.D. while Abe himself seems to be unconsciously spreading chaos everywhere he goes.  If so, the “slow burn” approach doesn’t quite work in the first volume and that’s why it left me feeling that Abe’s story would be better served as an ongoing subplot in “B.P.R.D.” proper.


Mignola and co. have lit a fire in my mind with how the character’s direction could possibly go from here.  Now they just have to either deliver on this idea or show me that whatever they have in mind is better.


Jason Glick

Comic Picks #153: Abe Sapien

February 20, 2014

I get caught up on the solo exploits of the B.P.R.D.'s famous fish-man and find them to be good comfort food for fans of the series.

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Image Previews Picks: May 2014

February 19, 2014

Crossovers between creator-owned properties are rare, to say the least.  When you’re that passionate about telling your own story, teaming up with someone who is likely to be equally passionate about theirs is more of a recipe for disaster than anything else.  That’s why the recently announced crossover between “Chew” and “Revival” comes as a genuine surprise.  John Layman and Rob Guillory’s series about a guy who gets psychic images from the food he eats doesn’t seem like it’d be a natural fit for Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s tale of a rural town where the dead have returned to life.  Of course, that incongruity is part of the appeal and both creators strike me as smart enough to have realized that this is going to take some work in order to pull off and can’t appear half-assed.


Why do it in the first place?  The pairing seems random until you remember that Layman got some unwelcome attention back in December after venting on Twitter about “Chew’s” sales.  There’s also the fact that “Revival’s” sales have also been on a steeper downward trend recently as well.  So the main reason that this is happening is for the oldest reason in the book:  to boost sales.  Cynicism aside, I hope it works.  “Revival” is fine, but I’d certainly like “Chew” to reach its planned ending at issue #60 without any issues.


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