Comic Picks By The Glick
DC Previews Picks:  June 2015

DC Previews Picks: June 2015

March 20, 2015

With “Convergence” behind them in these solicitations, the company (presumably safely ensconced in its new Burbank headquarters) moves on to the business of the mini-relaunch of its superhero universe.  Though DC is leaving the “New 52” branding behind, as they haven’t published 52 monthly comics for a while now, the continuity of that relaunch will remain.  Their aim for most of the new titles here is to serve a broader demographic of comics readers than the straight white male that was the assumed target of nearly all of the comics launched at the start of the “New 52.”  What does this mean?  In addition to the usual spate of expected relaunches, you’ll be seeing several titles that are taking a page from the successful “Batgirl” soft relaunch and displaying a style and approach you wouldn’t normally see associated with DC’s house style.

As for me, I’m more surprised by the fact that they’re publishing a title from a creator I never thought I’d see (allowed) back into the DC Universe.  I mean, utter contempt for the superhero genre is one of his main calling cards these days…

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Comic Picks #180:  Neon Genesis Evangelion — The Manga

Comic Picks #180: Neon Genesis Evangelion — The Manga

March 19, 2015

I've seen the anime.  My friend Rob has not.  Did I enjoy this new take on the series?  Did he think it even made sense?  The answer to these questions and a whole lot more are waiting for you.

Dark Horse Previews Picks:  June 2015

Dark Horse Previews Picks: June 2015

March 18, 2015

A special above-the-board mention for this round of solicitations goes to “The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Omnibus Edition:  Book One.”  While “Eden:  It’s An Endless World!” is still -- and will always be until the final volume is published -- the Dark Horse manga that I most want to see completed, this is another series I’m always looking forward to seeing more of.  In addition to having the best English localization and translation notes, courtesy of Carl Horn, of any manga being released today the stories it features in each volume manage to balance comedy and horror in an always-entertaining fashion.  It’s also one of the most reader-friendly of the company’s irregularly published sales-challenged manga as the stories being told in each volume are self-contained within them.  The August-arriving omnibus collects three volumes and is well worth your time and money.  Reserve your copy now so we can see about getting vol. 15 sooner rather than later -- and maybe tell your friends as well!

Also worth mentioning because I want to say “Called it!” is word from Dark Horse co-publisher/occasional writer Randy Stradley that “Resident Alien” may become a TV series.  It’s the story of an alien who crash-lands on Earth and assumes the identity of a Dr. Harry Vanderspiegel to fit in with the locals in a rural woodland town and winds up embroiled in a murder investigation.  I enjoyed the first volume “Welcome to Earth!” and felt that the execution was perfect for this kind of thing.  If it does become a series, I’ll actually make the effort to watch it!

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part I:  Phantom Blood vol. 1

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part I: Phantom Blood vol. 1

March 17, 2015

I was keeping my expectations low for this, and that turned out to be a good thing.  Much as I liked the “Stardust Crusaders” arc of this manga, it represented mangaka Hirohiko Araki settling into a solid groove in both art and writing after finding out what works and what didn’t in those earlier volumes.  Those growing pains are on full display in this volume which introduces us to Dio Brando before he became an immortal vampire and the nemesis of the Joestar family line.  Here, he’s just a scheming well-to-do teen who finds his way into the family after his deathly ill father tells him of the debt he is owed after the time he saved the head of the family.  Upon his arrival, the well-to-do teen makes a plan to secure the Joestar family name and fortune for himself and turns the young Jonathan Joestar’s life into a living hell.  One-upping the boy in manners whenever his father is around, putting the moves on his girl, kicking the boy’s dog right in front of him!  There is no depth to which Dio won’t sink to claim the fortune he believes he deserves because he’s that awesome.  However, it isn’t until years later and the secret of the strange mask in the Joestar household becomes known to him that Dio obtains the means to make his ambition a reality.

This is a… strange book when you consider what modern Shonen Jump titles look like.  Araki fills the book with burly, over-muscled men that look fairly ridiculous today, even if the Schwarzenegger style was very much in during the time this particular storyline was being published.  It’s also hard to imagine a manga that starts off in Victorian England with NO Japanese characters (so far) becoming as big a hit or lasting as long as “Jojo” has in the present day.  This volume does get points for its curiosity value in that regard, which is good because the story doesn’t have a whole lot to recommend it so far.  Even if treachery and scheming amongst the upper class in another continent over a century ago is a rare thing in American comics as well, the way things play out and the “frenemy” relationship between Dio and Jonathan doesn’t really offer anything we haven’t seen before.  The art also fails to impress as the stylization that makes these ridiculous-looking characters look ridiculously awesome has yet to make its appearance.

None of these issues were outside of my expectations for this volume given its age and the fact that most Shonen Jump titles take a while to really find their groove.  “Slam Dunk” started off almost as badly yet I wound up being glad I stuck with that title through the very end.  “Phantom Blood’s” importance is entirely historical as these weird-looking roots eventually produced something quite entertaining.  You can get in on the ground floor with this and see where it all came from, or jump right into the good stuff with the “Stardust Crusaders” arc.  In all honesty, it’s probably better to start with the latter and then work your way to the former as the goodwill incurred through that process will help out a lot when reading this first part of “Phantom Blood.”

The Fade Out, Act One

The Fade Out, Act One

March 16, 2015

Now this is more like it.

Judging by the reviews and word-of-mouth online, I was one of the only people who didn’t think that “Fatale” was another stunning addition to the existing canon of works from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.  It was a solidly constructed supernatural tale, but the stories it told never grabbed me in the way that their work on “Sleeper,” “Criminal,” and “Incognito” did.  Having a mythology that felt liked rehashed Lovecraft didn’t help either.  With “The Fade Out,” the two have decided to make a full-on noir story inspired by the films that defined the genre.  Far from being any kind of rip-off, this first volume shows the creators to be back at the top of their collaborative game.

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Sex Criminals vol. 2:  Two Worlds, One Cop

Sex Criminals vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop

March 15, 2015

Jon and Suzie have a problem.  Contrary to what the back cover of this volume says, it doesn’t involve their orgasmic time-stopping abilities.  No, their problem is that they’re the stars of a winning comedy/romance/fantasy series that’s being dragged down by an actively unlikeable antagonist.  The kind of villain who it’s impossible to have sympathy for and who you hope to see outwitted and outmatched by the protagonists.  This second volume of “Sex Criminals” has some great moments of humor, tenderness, character development, and dick jokes that make it a tremendously fun read.  But does it manage the even more difficult task of making Kegelface a character who you actually want to see in this story?

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Ten Grand vol. 2

Ten Grand vol. 2

March 13, 2015

When I talked about how I hoped that “Trees” represented a return to form for Warren Ellis, I was selling him short in that regard.  As I was reminded while reading the first volume of that series, there are a lot of things I like about his comics even if he tends to play up the more tiresome parts of his style in his superhero work.  No, when it comes to creators who have lost their touch over the years, J. Michael Straczynski should be held up as a warning to others.  After his recent superhero work at DC didn’t endear him to anyone -- mainly because it included an utterly wrongheaded take on Superman -- he has since gone back to putting out creator-owned work at Image with mixed results.  I did like the first volume of this series, and the second has things about it to recommend as well.  If only it didn’t end in an anticlimactic fashion that made me wonder just what the point of it all was.

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Uber vol. 3

Uber vol. 3

March 12, 2015

What keeps me reading this series?  Three volumes in and I can say that it’s the delicate balance of terror Kieron Gillen maintains in the struggle between the Allied and Axis powers.  At the start I was worried that a series about how the Nazis developed superhumans to fight as soldiers in WWII would mean we’d see them trample over everyone in their path until the good guys got their act together in the end.  That didn’t happen and now there’s some actual drama as to who is actually going to win this conflict after all.  It’s a balancing act that Gillen nearly upsets in this volume with all of the advantages he gives to the Nazis.  The introduction of the blitzmensch and the heavy fighters.  Sieglinde’s fate.  The surprise return of a key member of the Nazi war effort.  Finding out there may be an Uber spy amongst the British ranks.  All these developments work against what I want to see from this series.

That being said, seeing the Allies actually score a solid victory for once towards the end was definitely gratifying after all that had come before.  There were other moments of hope:  Stephanie’s breakthroughs and the implication that the African-American presence in the war is going to be a force to be reckoned with.  Yet the most welcome addition to this volume is the appearance of actual characterization!  The spotlight issue on Stephanie at the beginning illuminates her history and mindset well, while also revealing the tragic and horrific current state of the Allies’ current Battleship-class Uber.  There’s some nice dissonance in the story of Russian Uber escapee Katyusha, between her vow to protect the elderly couple she takes shelter with and how they actually see this one-woman war machine.  Vernon, the potential African-American Uber, also gets a memorable introduction as well.  You can still expect to find over-the-top levels of violence and gore throughout this story, but at this point they’re not compensating for a lack of actual substance.  Right now, I continue to see good things coming for “Uber” so long as that delicate balance of terror is maintained.

Trees vol. 1:  In Shadow

Trees vol. 1: In Shadow

March 11, 2015

Even if I did enjoy Warren Ellis’ brief run on “Moon Knight,” there was little doubt that his style was starting to wear on me.  Years after they first captivated me in “Transmetropolitan,” the rhythms of his dialogue were starting to irritate with their familiarity in that project and even more so in “Avengers:  Endless Wartime.”  Now the first volume of his latest creator-owned series is out.  It’s his first since the not-quite-as-good-as-it-should-have-been “Freakangels” and it’s time to see once again if Ellis can deliver a compelling science fiction story.  The answer so far is a tentative “yes,” even if I do wish he gets to the point in a quicker fashion next time.

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Maria the Virgin Witch vol. 1

Maria the Virgin Witch vol. 1

March 10, 2015

In one of those wars of the medieval era where France and England are fighting each other (there were so many that they start to blend together after a while), a witch named Maria lives in a forest.  When she’s not helping out local villagers, she’s working to defuse the conflict in her own way.  This can either mean sending out her succubus familiar Artemis to wring the leaders of an upcoming battle dry before the fighting starts, or by bringing some kind of mythical/magical beast -- we get to see a dragon, a wyrm, and a golem in this volume alone -- to actively disrupt the fighting.  While Maria has the best of intentions, you know what they say about those and the road to Hell.  Particularly when the fighting is being observed by the Archangel Michael.  Thanks to his involvement (and some divine intervention), we find out that the whole “virgin witch” title isn’t a random thing but a key part of this series’ plot.

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