Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Royal Jelly: Queen's Top Picks for Release Day Aug 20th

Hiya! I got my list of this weeks top picks! These are the items I am most looking forward to that are being released tomorrow.  So let's start with the lists:
Singles:
Harley Quin #0
The Empty Man #3
Eye of Newt #3
Dark Engine #2
Fade Out # 1
Manifest Destiny #9

Trade Paperbacks 
Attack on Titan: After the Fall vol #2
Lucifer Book Four

So a lot of these you are probably familiar with me reviewing monthly. Manifest Destiny has been a big ticket for me now going on ten months. Action packed, crazy adventure! Always a great cliff hanger. I was very lucky to interview Chris Dingess last month. You can read that interview HERE.

You may have noticed Harley Quinn on that list. DC is releasing a second pressing of the special so if you didn't get it in June, now is your chance. I'll be grabbing a copy because I missed it. The special has an all-star cast with Paul Pope and Sam Kieth thrown in there. Dunno how the heck I missed that one.

Fade Out is a much anticipated new series from Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips which is going to replace Fatal for a lot of people. Fatal having just ended last week. If you're morning the loss of your favorite Brubaker series, like my friend Kelly then you should pick up Fade Out. The variant cover is especially amazing.

Dark Engine I want to mention because it's one of the most exciting new series for myself. I had interviewed artist John Bivens last month. He is one of my favorite artists currently. The first volume screamed of Heavy Metal Magazine and I am going to frame every damn cover. You have to be reading Dark Engine. Check out my interview with Bivens HERE.

Under trades you'll notice the Lucifer Book Four. Vertigo has slowly been re-releasing the Lucifer series in larger collected trades. They're beautifully done and on lovely paper. A little tip, they are substantially cheaper on Indigo right now than anywhere else. You can get the volumes for 20-21 dollars while you'll find them 10 to 15 dollars more in stores. If you are a fan of the Sandman Series and fantastic writer Mike Carey (also writer of terrific Hellblazer) then Lucifer is the next place to go. Especially if you've read your way through the rest of Gaiman's Sandman series and spin-offs.

The last one pick of the week which I'm only sort of excited about, is the spin-off prequel to Attack on Titan called Before the Fall. I am reading it because I've read all the Attack on Titan available but I wasn't head over heels for this one. It's very much written and illustrated the way a typical mass marketed manga traditionally is done. Female characters are over the top doll like and pander to what must be the fantasies of teenage boys. I'm only guessing. Yet I'll read it anyway in hopes that there might be some important and interesting story in there somewhere.

 That's the jelly! What are you most looking forward to?

A Distant Soil Vol 1 & 2 by Colleen Doran

The remastered collection has a lovely
cut out cover of a diamond revealing a
peek at the artwork on the first page.
Wikipedia describes A Distant Soil as "an epic Space Opera" (the melodramatic adventure type not the type that involve music). Melodramatic is a good way to describe this series. It's full of dramatic character interaction and lots of romance. This sci-fi is most known for being one the earliest comic books to contain openly gay characters in lead roles. Over the years people have speculated on the story telling of the book and related it to manga. I agree these thoughts do have some validity. The pacing of this book reminds me greatly of a lot of the shojo I read although I have to say I'm a bigger fan of Angel Sanctuary than A Distant Soil. There's little comparison really other than the slower scenes showing expressing the desires of characters and hinting at ulterior motives and betrayal. I guess that's most manga and opera right there.

Plot-wise this whole book feels as if it was meant for teenagers which is why it reminds me of Shojo. Not to mention all the romance. Originally I wanted to read the book because I was told it was a science fiction story.  It lacks the complexity of explaining technology (technology not being all that important in this book which is why I think it is classified as space opera). The alien technology is mainly powered by crystals. Yes, those damn 80's crystals which I find extremely cheesy. Do not let me mislead you however, this book is cheesy by my standards. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Doran employs a diverse group of people from all kinds of backgrounds as the team who is supposed to save the Ovanans race from its governments genocidal ways.

I did enjoy the stories. I like shojo and things that generally fall into that category. One of my favorite stories to this day is still Escaflowne. I think that if I had read this growing up, I would have been completely in love with it. However the idea of finding gay-character-positive comic books in my home town is hysterically unlikely. We were lucky to find anything that wasn't just Marvel & DC. I'm pretty sure this would have been banned from our only real comic book store back in the 80's and 90's. I'm from a town called Truro which has since been known as the gay capital of Nova Scotia but don't say that around the mayor. He wouldn't let anyone fly the pride flag because he didn't want Truro associated with homosexuality. You mean the homosexuality that's already there? Fuck that guy....anyway....

Recently Image has been re-releasing A Distant Soil in remastered editions. As far as I can tell, only the first two volumes are currently available. Volume 2 came out last August so I think we're due for a remastering of volume 3 now Image! Come on!! Cough it up!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Piles of Books

Is it pathetic that all I want to do is listen to old Pumpkins albums and read comics? Unfortunately for me, I've been laid up the last two weeks unable to go to the gym or do much at all because I'm on crutches. Seems there's some stress fracturing in the bones of my right ankle. Totally sucks so I had to put my gym membership on hold and rest it for a WHILE. Still doing that actually. Start physio next week, getting a bone scan whenever the doctor calls me and eventually I'll be able to ditch the crutches and get back to normal. Until then I am seriously running out of books. I have been reading non stop and playing a little Civ because well, I can't do a whole lot else. Not to mention that depression creeps in when you're immobile. So let's see what have I been reading.. well some of it is obvious based on my reviews but there is a lot I read that I don't write about.

I'll just make a list: 
A Distant Soil
a lot of Berserk
a lot of Batman
Death Note
Man-Thing
Buddha series by Osamu Tezuka
Black Science Vol 1
Anamorphosis no Meijuu (The Great Beast Metamorphosis)
Manara Erotica Vol 1
Shade the Changing Man
Chaos
The Crow

FINALLY : lots of digital submissions that come through my website and countless singles. Currently reading Sam Kieth's My Inner Bimbo despite the incredibly tiny lettering which by the way is the reason I haven't read it previously. It's killing my eyes. FOR SERIAL!!!

I feel like there's a lot missing from that list. There probably is but who knows. Between the digital world and the organic, I have no real concept of everything I've gone through the last few days. It's literally just finish a book and grab another. This is the first time my bedside table has had so little on it. All I have left is the Finder Library which luckily is gigantic. It is nice to finally read older books that I've never had a chance to. However I did miss the Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival yesterday due to not being able to get a ride because let's face it, getting anywhere distance-wise is impossible on crutches. The transit system doesn't help the impaired out much or so I've found. You still are required to walk some distance to even get to a bus stop. Anyway, I didn't make it there so there is no article this year detailing the events. SIGH. I tried to make the best of it. I laid in bed and read with my foot up. OOO I did some arm exercises at the end of the bed. Should I write some articles on all the older stuff I've been reading? Would it be of interest? I dunno.

I've been digging a lot of different artists recently. I just started really falling in love with the work of Tony Sandoval who has a book soon to be released called Doomboy vol 1. It's about a lonely boy obsessed with metal who is actually a rock god. I'm falling in love with Sandoval's artwork. Is it any wonder ?? It's beautiful and creepy at the same time. I'm all over the place lately. Maybe bits of bone are getting into my blood stream...

Work by Tony Sandoval




Friday, August 15, 2014

Shutter #5

The more Shutter I read, the more Shutter I need to read. Shutter is one of the few series that I actually feel satisfied with after each single. Sometimes I feel cheated after reading a single, as if didn't contain any actual story or developments but Shutter always gives you something to make you feel full. With issue five we finally we get to meet one of the siblings. That's right! Don't forget there are siblings PLURAL. We don't know how many there are. More interesting is that we finally get to find out what happened to Kate's father!

Art-wise, I think this is my favorite issue. I suppose that's because of the last few panels. They're so exciting! Not to mention the crazy tentacles. At least I guess that's the best way to describe them.. and look at me, I'm giving it all away!

I was trying to dissect what I like about the story so much. I guess what keeps me reading is that I actually really like the main character. It's sort of a first for me. I generally dislike main characters but I like Kate because she's trying to move on with her life. Or so she thought she had. Her past keeps chasing after her and she's not having it.She left behind all her adventure ways and made a new life for herself. I respect that. I suppose her attitude also appeals to me as well. Her resistance to being drawn back into the environment she obviously has negative feelings about. I can relate. I bet a lot of people can. Plus, she's really bad-ass. I think Shutter might be the first comic I've read where the hero spends the majority of it in a cast and sling. HA! I think that's pretty brilliant actually, who does that?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Batman Earth One

I can't say the name Batman in my house or it turns into a back and forth argument of which one of us is Batman. Sometime Chris reads to me and does the voices when my eyes are tired. Let's face it, I read ALL day. I like his Lt Gordon. Anyway, I read Earth One to myself last night and drooled over the panels. So lovely. Gary Frank's artwork caught my eye initially and with the trade release yesterday I was like "oh hell I'll grab this".  The original release happened back in July of 2012. It got to #9 on the New York Times Best Selling Hardcover Graphic Book list so the trade paper of course says "New York Times Best Seller" on the top.

I don't want to spoil the plot so I won't get into it much. This is basically a new origins story. DC intended to start a series of re-imagined origin stories for the DC universe under the title of Earth One. They started with Superman which I've been told to ignore. Apparently it's gawd awful but it's fine because I've never been one to read Superman. If I recall, the only Superman comics I read were a few random issues when I was very young. Maybe ten or eleven at me grandmothers house.

This story shows us a grittier Alfred and a fairly gritty Gordon. Sadly, daughter Barbara plays the part of the damsel in distress to serial killer The Birthday Boy but there is a little hint, hint that she begins to develop Batgirl. So at least there's something to look forward to if the sequel actually gets pushed out in 2015. It's already been once delayed. Originally it was due 2013 but something went array there. Perhaps other projects merely got in the way.

In the end I just keep comparing this to Frank Miller's Year One. Nothing really stands up to that however this is still worth a read just so you can drool over the artwork.


Starlight #5

I've been waiting for this! Patiently anticipating and following Goran's facebook posts as he slips panels out. Serious tease. We didn't get a Starlight in July but Mark and Goran made it worth the wait with issue five. I can't spoil it...even though I want to but things are picking up and Duke is full of the confidence he needs to take on the Brotean. He slays some pretty sick mermen too. teehee..

With this issue we have variant covers by Tommy Lee Edwards and Rob Liefeld. I have to say that I'm not a fan of the Liefeld cover. Duke's whole body has been stretched to take up more of the page. Not liking the typical Liefeld jawline either. So you can guess which cover I grabbed! Edwards' cover is 'oh so' lovely and haunting. Normally I'm all about lots of pencil lines but this is just so striking. I really enjoy the sharp edges which make both characters look formidable. Despite a lot of the criticism I've directed at variant covers over the years I actually like variant covers. I enjoy them when they are done by people like Sam Kieth mostly HA! Who would you like to see a Starlight variant cover from ? If he were alive, I think it would be amazing to have something from Frank Frazetta but we all know that's not going to happen. Alive or dead, who would you pick?
Liefeld's Duke
(obviously stolen from the CBR page)

I would like to stress how amazing Goran Parlov's work actually is. It's soo fantastic that if he wasn't illustrating Starlight, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. As far as Millar is concerned, he's a good writer but everything he publishes isn't automatically gold. Starlight reuses a lot of classic science fiction stories and plot devices. There's not a lot new there but Goran's work makes this story stand out from other comics. He actually makes this story new and exciting.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Stumptown #1: The Case of the King of Clubs

Written by Greg Rucka
Drawn by Justin Greenwood
Colored by Ryan Hill
Lettered by Crank!

Back by popular demand? Greg Rucka's private eye Dex is back in a new series. I am afraid that I haven't read the previous adventures of Dex Parios. I've become a fan of Rucka's only recently after reading the first two volumes of Lazarus. I'm not really the type to involve myself in private eye stories. They rarely appeal to me, but Rucka captures my attention in the same way he did with Lazarus, through realistic characters and good scripting. He always leaves a little cliff hanger at the end of an issue and Stumptown is no different.

In the past Mathew Southworth had illustrated Stumptown. This story arc is illustrated by Justin Greenwood and colored by Ryan Hill. The artwork isn't typically appealing to me but the characters are easily identifiable which is important to me. Sometimes I'll be reading along in a book and if the characters are too similar in appearance I'll lose the story. I'm looking at you manga! Well, not all manga, but a large portion of it.

Oni Press has yet to release information on how you can pre-order this single but I'll be sure to let you know when I find out :) Keep your eyes peeled.