Comic Picks By The Glick
DC Previews Picks:  November 2019

DC Previews Picks: November 2019

August 31, 2019

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

Pearl vol. 2

 

The first volume of “Pearl” wasn’t the best of the creator-owned bunch of titles that Bendis delivered when he set up shop at DC.  If I’m being honest, it was just ahead of “Scarlet.”  Yet it’s the only one which is being followed-up on by its creators after that initial batch.  So yeah, I’m kind of curious to see where Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos are going to take the story of Pearl Tanaka and her kinda boyfriend Rick Araki now that she knows her mom used to run the local Yakuza outfit from the shadows.  Figuratively speaking, of course. The solicitation text tells me that the story is actually heading to Tokyo, which I’m sure is going to work out GREAT for her and Rick.

 

Still, I’ll be happy if story gives over a decent amount of its time to the Endo Twins.  The sibling pair of failed smut peddlers turned money launderers were the best part of the first volume because of their interesting backstory and wannabe thug antics.  If they’re headed to Tokyo as well, then I’ve really got something to look forward to.

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Dark Horse Previews Picks:  November 2019

Dark Horse Previews Picks: November 2019

August 30, 2019

Above-the-Board Recommendation

What’s Michael?  Fatcat Collection vol. 1

 

Wow.  I had just about forgotten that Dark Horse had published this series.  This series, about the wacky adventures of a cat named Michael, was just a bit ahead of its time.  It wasn’t published in pamphlet form, but in slim 60-100-page graphic novels for around $7 IIRC. This was back in the late 90’s before the manga revolution and the series apparently did well enough to get to 11 volumes in the U.S., but not before being folded into the “Super Manga Blast” anthology.  No knock against “SMB,” except the stated purpose of that anthology was to provide a home for oddball series that wouldn’t have survived on their own like “Seraphic Feather,” “Shadow Star,” and another series from “What’s Michael?” creator Makoto Kobayashi, the delightfully quirky “Club 9.”

 

Despite being a cat person, I never picked up a volume of “What’s Michael?”  I think it was because my younger, less open, more value-driven mind couldn’t wrap its head around the way it was being presented.  “You call this a volume! It’s too thin! Even if it is $7 I’m gonna go put my money towards this new volume of ‘Gunsmith Cats’” is something that I probably would’ve said about it at the time.  However, because I am no longer the person I once was I’ll be picking up this volume when it drops early next year. Because hey: who doesn’t like wacky cat antics?

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Marvel Previews Picks:  November 2019

Marvel Previews Picks: November 2019

August 28, 2019

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

Punisher:  Soviet #1 (of 6)

 

This is a pick that, on the surface, was incredibly easy to make.  After all it’s Garth Ennis writing “The Punisher” again with his “Crossed” and “303” collaborator Jacen Burrows.  It even has a premise that makes it sound like it’ll fit right in alongside the other “Punisher MAX” stories the writer has done.  It involves lots of dead Russian mobsters. Only the catch is that Frank Castle didn’t kill any of them. Someone out there is taking a page from his playbook and things are going to be bad for everyone once the Punisher catches up with whoever did this.

 

While “Punisher:  The Platoon” was amazing, I didn’t think we’d be seeing Ennis return to the character again so soon.  In fact, he even has another “Punisher” miniseries lined up with artist Goran Parlov, “Get Fury” for sometime next year?  Getting one new Ennis-written “Punisher” miniseries is cause for celebration. Getting two makes me think that something’s up.

 

Now, while the writer has always been one of my favorites, even I have to admit that his non-Castle-centric output of late hasn’t been that great.  The “Section Eight” minis at DC had him retelling the same tired anti-superhero jokes, “Dastardly and Muttley” wasn’t much better, “Jimmy’s Bastards” was maybe a little better than the lame James Bond parody it presented it as, and there’s always hope that “A Walk Through Hell” could turn out to be great when its second half is collected.

 

What I’m getting at here is that Ennis’ return to “The Punisher” feels like an act of necessity rather than triumph.  There’s no other character at DC I can see him having the stomach to write (though I could be wrong) and with his latest creator-owned efforts fizzling giving the adventures of Frank Castle another go seems like the only way for him to raise his profile and get some other projects off the ground.  This sounds like backwards logic for a creator who currently has TWO TV series based on comics he’s written -- “Preacher” and “The Boys” -- airing right now, but that appears to be the world we live in at the moment.  

 

The upside here that Ennis isn’t the kind of creator who’s simply going to repeat himself on this kind of project.  He may have written a lot of “Punisher” stories over the years, but each of them is distinct in its own way. So even if he isn’t coming back to the character in triumph, I don’t think he’s here to play the hits.  Which is exactly what we should all be wanting.

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An Oshimi Twofer

An Oshimi Twofer

August 26, 2019

I don’t know how I wound up with two volumes of manga from different series by mangaka Shuzo Oshimi in my “To Review” pile.  I wasn’t planning on reviewing both of them in one go either. Except some of the manga titles in my “To Review” pile are coming up on a month old and I just got a new batch of volumes to read last week.  So in a transparent effort to make my backlog go down quicker, here are my thoughts on the latest volumes of “Inside Mari” and “Happiness.”

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Avengers:  No Road Home

Avengers: No Road Home

August 25, 2019

I don’t think the world was crying out for a sequel to the thoroughly alright “Avengers:  No Surrender,” which served to wrap up the various “Avengers” series Al Ewing, Jim Zub, and Mark Waid were writing at the time, but we got one anyway.  “No Road Home,” however is the exceedingly rare time when a follow-up to a Marvel event actually surpasses the original. Yes, the main plot is another MacGuffin hunt.  The key difference this time is that the hunt is a lot more interesting this time around.

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Conan the Barbarian vol. 1:  The Life and Death of Conan, Book One

Conan the Barbarian vol. 1: The Life and Death of Conan, Book One

August 24, 2019

You could ask, “Is this a good volume of ‘Conan’ comics?” and it would be a perfectly valid question.  A better one to ask would be “Is this volume of ‘Conan’ good enough to justify Marvel snatching the license away from Dark Horse?”  To the first question I’d say, “Actually, it’s fine.” To the second, my answer is, “Not by a longshot.” Dark Horse did right by the Barbarian for over a decade, and I didn’t think he needed another home.  Now he’s back at Marvel, with an A-list creative team in writer Jason Aaron and artist Mahmud Asrar on the main “Conan” book. It’s enough to ensure that this first volume is a decent read. Regrettably it doesn’t get much better than that.

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Die vol. 1:  Fantasy Heartbreaker

Die vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker

August 23, 2019

It’s a brand-new series written by Kieron Gillen!  With art from the immensely talented Stephanie Hans!  And it has a literal fantasy RPG setting! What could possibly prevent me from declaring this one of the best comics before I’ve even read it?  Common sense really -- having little is not the same as having none at all. So I actually decided to sit down and read the first volume of “Die” before waxing even more ecstatic about it.

 

Good thing I did.  “Fantasy Heartbreaker” is certainly an interesting and even at times compelling start for this series.  What it is not, however, is the grand-slam home run that I was expecting from this creative team.

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Comic Picks #296:  B.P.R.D. — The Devil You Know

Comic Picks #296: B.P.R.D. — The Devil You Know

August 21, 2019

Okay... so this is how the "Hellboy" saga really ends.

Golden Kamuy vol. 10

Golden Kamuy vol. 10

August 19, 2019

This is one of the most satisfying volumes I’ve read in this series after a while.  Not because of any one thing it does. No, this volume is a case of mangaka Satoru Noda throwing a lot of stuff at the wall, plot-wise, and having it all turn out pretty well.  I’m talking about bits like Kiroranke and Hijikata teaming up to rescue Shiraishi from the 7th Division. Only the catch is that the Escape King doesn’t want to be rescued. We also have the sole survivor of the gang of criminals who took over an Ainu village in the previous volume turning out to be a master of disguise and deception.  Which is good because Sugimoto is going to need his skills to actually get Shiraishi out of prison. Then there’s Inkarmat who gets “persuaded” into posing as a fake clairvoyant while Tanigaki and Cikapasi have to rescue her. Tanigaki by using his rifle, Cikapasi by using his Dinky. I definitely can’t forget about how Nikaido, recovering from losing his leg in the previous volume, gets a very welcome gift from a very loud man.

 

As odd and disparate as these elements sound, they all work completely on their own terms.  The stuff involving Shiraishi at the beginning is great goofy fun, as his very good reason for not wanting to return helps fuel the comedy.  Even better is the hospital chapter where Nikaido’s response to the true nature of his gift winds up being the funniest thing I’ve read all year.  Even when Noda dials down the wackiness for the bits involving Sugimoto and the conman, he still manages to make the tension gripping even before the bullets start flying.  It all leads to a final scene that unexpectedly references “The Empire Strikes Back…” Okay I’ll admit that it’s probably closer to similar scenes from “Rob Roy” and “The Revenant,” but it was still unexpected.  As was just about everything I read in this volume which was the best kind of experience I could ask for.

 

comicpicksbytheglick@gmail.com

West Coast Avengers vol. 2:  City of Evils

West Coast Avengers vol. 2: City of Evils

August 18, 2019

You may have already heard that Kelly Thompson will be the writer of “Deadpool’s” latest ongoing series come November.  I’m hoping it’s a big smash and boosts her profile accordingly. Much in the same way that “The Immortal Hulk” has done for Al Ewing.  Because if that happens then maybe she’ll be able to do an ongoing series that doesn’t get the cut after two volumes.

 

That’s what “Mr. & Mrs. X,” “Jessica Jones,” and “West Coast Avengers” all have in common, in addition to being good.  This volume of “West Coast” in particular is a lot of fun as it starts off with the team facing Gridlock -- the traffic-based supervillain -- before encountering bad times at an amusement park.  It turns out that Madam Masque has assembled her own team of C to D-List supervillains to take on this team and winds up succeeding quite well at it. While we know that Kate Bishop will succeed at freeing them all, her path to that outcome is cleverly complicated when she encounters not one, but two significant people from her past along the way.  Throw in lots of sharp and witty writing -- seriously, the banter between Quentin Quire and Gwenpool never gets old -- and some lively art from Daniele Di Nicuolo and you’ve got a winning first act.

 

The series keeps the momentum going without a hitch when it moves into the second arc, featuring appealingly exaggerated art from Gang-Hyuk Lim and Moy R.  Here, one of Kate’s significant people hopes to get the team to take an interest in the matter he’s investigating. That would be the fact that Skrulls have infiltrated L.A. and are busy putting together their own cult for nefarious means.  This person winds up being wrong in a way that almost leads to the team having a bloody bad time of it. The team’s struggle is our gain as Thompson and the artists make the conflict into a funny, character-driven one. It all leads to an ending that does its best to put a positive spin on the fact that the series is over.  I’m still disappointed that this didn’t find an audience to last longer, but at least we got these two volumes out of “West Coast’s” latest run.

 

comicpicksbytheglick@gmail.com