Stumptown vol. 3: The Case of the King of Clubs

December 30, 2015

Once again, this review of latest volume of Greg Rucka’s private investigator in Portland series is brought to you courtesy of a 30%-off coupon from Amazon (in addition to the discount already offered by the site).  I think this is a good series.  It’s just not good enough to get me to pay the full $30 to pick each volume up in hardcover.  Vol. 3 is probably the least impressive of the series so far, but that’s also like saying “The Dark Knight Rises” is the least impressive of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” movies.  The case this time around has Portland P.I. Dex Parios investigating the savage beating a friend of hers received after a soccer match featuring the local team.  Between her own personal stake in this incident, and the fear of European-style soccer hooliganism tainting the sport as well as her own mental issues, Dex is coming apart at the seams on this one.  This time around, she has a fellow P.I., CK from Seattle, working the case with her and to help keep the collateral damage from their investigation to a minimum.

What keeps this volume from being on par with the other two is that the cops turn out to be more on the ball than usual in these kinds of stories.  In just about every P.I. story, the cops are there to either provide information or obstruct the protagonist in the pursuit of their case.  All I’ll say is that this isn’t the case this time around, leading to things feeling a bit anti-climactic in the end.  Granted, we do get a scene towards the end where Dex lets us know what really went on, but it mainly feels like Rucka is just doing damage control here.

That being said, we get more insight into Dex’s mindset and history here, while also seeing her strike up a relationship with a soccer player that doesn’t seem like a complete mistake.  The rapport Rucka sets up between the two P.I.s is also fun to watch, with CK offering both cutting humor and insight into her partner’s condition.  This is Dex’s series, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of CK in future stories.  Vol. 3 also features art from “The Fuse’s” Justin Greenwood and his style fits the grounded tone of this series quite well.  So yeah, this volume is still a good read overall.  It’s just that your enjoyment will likely hinge on how much you had to pay for reading about Dex’s latest adventure.

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

A Bride’s Story vol. 7

December 29, 2015

Um… yeah, this volume was a surprising misfire for me.  Mainly because I’ve been enchanted by mangaka Kaoru Mori’s works for years and this is the first time I’ve read something from her that has really failed to satisfy or entertain me.  While she’s always had stellar instincts for characterization, they’re not employed well enough here to make for an engaging story about a concept she finds utterly fascinating.

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Here’s a couple more vol. 2’s…

December 28, 2015

The second volume of “Haven’t You Heard?  I’m Sakamoto” does get a little more creative in its antics.  Where I was worried that seeing the title character effortlessly succeed in the face of any obstacle he faced, mangaka Nami Sano displays a little more inventiveness in showing us how he does that in this volume.  Whether it’s displaying “Splinter Cell” levels of agility while being chased by an amorous housewife, or going head-to-head against a stylish thug in “the push game” while a police officer watches, I was more entertained by Sakamoto’s actions here than I was with the first volume.  Granted, Sakamoto as a character treads a fine line between coming off as well-meaning or smug, and the humor can occasionally trend towards mean-spirited.  At this point the series is basically an amusing curiosity that hasn’t quite come together yet.

Not so in the case of “Prison School.”  Here’s a series that knows exactly how dumb and trashy it is and revels in that fact.  The best part of all is that it’s all played completely straight!  Where else are you going to find a series where one of its main characters utters the phrase, “For whom did I shit myself…!?” without a hint of irony.  Or have another protagonist talk about his plan to crossdress as a schoolgirl -- complete with pigtails made from the hair of another male classmate -- as if he was planning an actual jailbreak.  It’s all utterly ridiculous, and funnier due to how mangaka Akira Hiromoto handles the execution.  I also have to admit to being impressed with how he manages Kiyoshi’s escape, disastrous date, and eventual redemption while also laying out a way for the five “prisoners” to come together as friends in a way that still comes off as plausible.  Within the boundaries of plausibility for this series.  It’s still a title about five boys being imprisoned by a “shadow student council” of three girls, one of whose clothes only seem to stay on through some miracle of friction.  Definitely not for everyone, but it’s highly recommended to anyone who can appreciate something best described as “gloriously stupid.”

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

Marvel Previews Picks: March 2016

December 27, 2015

I don’t think “Civil War” needed a sequel, but it looks like we’re getting one anyway.  After all, there’s a new “Captain America” movie using the title of that event coming out in May.  Marvel also needs any sales boost they can get in light of the fact that most of their new relaunches are settling in at levels lower than what their previous incarnations were selling at.  This event is also coming to us courtesy of the (now former) “Invincible Iron Man” team of Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez.  Despite offering better dialogue, Bendis didn’t provide an entirely superior take on another Mark Millar concept -- “Old Man Logan.”  However, if this new “Civil War” allows him to dig into a socially relevant idea, that’s more up his alley.  I’ve got no concerns about Marquez, as he has done stellar work on “Ultimate Spider-Man” these past few years and this could finally be the project that vaults him onto the A-list of comics artists.

It’s also worth noting that the first “Civil War” led into “The Death of Captain America.”  While it’s not certain that history will repeat, there are two circumstances worth considering:  Next year is Cap’s 75th anniversary and the sales of the current Sam Wilson as Cap series, written by Nick Spencer, are already below those of the previous one written by Rick Remender.  I guess what I’m saying here is that if you don’t want history to repeat itself, consider showing the current Cap series some sales support over the next few months.

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Image Previews Picks: March 2016

December 26, 2015

I noticed that James Stokoe is providing variant covers for the new issues of “Birthright” and “Head Lopper” that are being solicited here.  It also got me thinking that, aside from these variants, and other variant covers for Marvel, we haven’t seen a lot of new sequential work from this immensely talented creator.  After the “Godzilla:  The Half-Century War” miniseries from 2013, I believe he’s just done an issue of the Marvel “100th Anniversary” event and the first issue for the recent “Godzilla in Hell” miniseries.  I’ll probably have to pick up both collections at some point because it’s been too long since I’ve read anything new from him.  Here’s hoping that he’s taking all of this work doing variant covers and other work-for-hire stuff to fund his next major project.  Even if that doesn’t turn out to be new issues of “Orc Stain,” I’m sure it’ll be worth reading.

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Uncanny X-Men by Bendis vol. 5: The Omega Mutant

December 25, 2015

This is not a storyline that needed nine issues to tell.  I can understand why Bendis may have thought that it did, as it’s essentially the climax of his run on this title.  It’s hard to see how he can get much bigger than having Scott team up with his former comrades to take on a mutant with godlike powers that Professor X hid from them long ago.  There’s no denying that’s a solid place to begin this story, but the execution is downright terrible.

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Comic Picks #200: “Daredevil” by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

December 23, 2015

One of the best superhero comics in recent memory.  'Nuff said.

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Ooku vol. 11

December 21, 2015

Low points don’t get much lower than what we got in vol. 10 of this series.  Just about everything that could go wrong for the good guys in this series did, leaving them either dead or out of favor with the new government.  Then we left off with the premise of the series being partly upended by having a man become shogun again.  Where the hell is mangaka Fumi Yoshinaga going to take things from here?  In the end, she manages to defy expectations by making things simultaneously better and worse for everyone in the series.  Though I’m certainly rooting for the members of the cast looking to find a cure for the redface pox, I’m also left fearing that Yoshinaga has done too good a job in creating a villain for this part of the story.

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DC Previews Picks: March 2016

December 20, 2015

It’s been a long, hard, weird road from the start of the “New 52,” but come this March several of the surviving titles from that initiative will have hit a significant milestone:  Their 50th issues!  Of the 52 titles that launched, “Batman,” “Batman & Robin,” “Detective Comics,” “Superman,” “Action Comics,” “Batgirl,” “Catwoman,” “The Flash,” “Green Arrow,” “Green Lantern,” and “Wonder Woman” will all have reached this mark.  I’d have counted “Justice League” here too, but it’s running late with #49 solicited for this month.  This would be even more impressive if at least one of these titles, looking at you “Green Arrow,” wasn’t rumored to be up for the chop and “Catwoman” and “Aquaman” are currently featuring fill-in creative teams.  As for the fact that of the original 52 titles launched at the start of this initiative, only 25% them hit this particular milestone, that kind of speaks for itself.  Then again, it’s not like Marvel is doing much better with their latest “All-New All-Different” relaunch (save for “Deadpool,” of course).

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Dark Horse Previews Picks: March 2016

December 19, 2015

Renowned and best-selling novelist Margaret Atwood’s first comics project will be arriving courtesy of Dark Horse in 2016.  “Angel Catbird” is described as a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired story about a human whose genes wind up getting spliced with those of a cat and owl.  Will Eisner’s “The Spirit,” the Grant Morrison/Chas Truog run of “Animal Man,” and Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s “Squirrel Girl” were cited as influences in this all-ages superhero story.  It’s certainly an impressive achievement for the publisher to land a writer of Atwood’s caliber and her involvement may also give the project some attention from the mainstream press as well.  That said, the last time Dark Horse teamed up with a well-known bestselling writer, the result was the Janet Evanovich co-written “Trouble Maker”which wound up being an expensive flop for the company.  We’ll see if they’ve learned anything from that in the build-up to this new project’s release.

Also, the publisher will be putting out “North” next year.  It’s a crime series co-written by Michael B. Jordan -- currently wowing everyone to great acclaim in “Creed” -- and Nathan Edmonson, with art from Denys Cown and Bill Sienkiewicz.  Jordan strikes me as a smart guy, so I think that he’s aware of the commitment necessary to make his involvement with this project not come off as a kind of vanity project.  He might’ve done better to choose a less-embattled co-writer for this project as Edmonson has been dogged by accusations of sexism in recent months, while his conservative politics have won him few fans.  Still, these issues might be swept under the rug if the project is good enough.  That’s the way these things go, after all.

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