Monday, January 31, 2011

Timmy's Guide To Life

Getting this in with just minutes to spare!

Title: Timmy's Guide To Life: A "Ray-TV" Special
Date: 2001
Publisher: Ray Tomczak (
Writer: Ray Tomczak
Art: Ray Tomczak

This quarter-sized minicomic consists of a collection of sketches, representing the cast of characters in the protagonist's life with a few words of commentary about each (told in second person). This had a fun caricature type of art style, and the little bits of detail on the characters was intriguing enough to get me interested in seeing what would happen with them all interacting with the faceless main character. I am guessing that this is an intro to a longer piece of work that delivers some plot. It's a good start, at least.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Way It Crumbles

Title: The Way It Crumbles
Publisher: Boston Comics Roundtable
Writer: Dan Mazur
Art: Dan Mazur

Half-sized minicomic that tells the sad tale of a down-and-out elf who once lived in a hollow tree and made cookies. Once the satirical elements are revealed it's easy to see where the story is going, but writer/artist Dan Mazur still manages to tug on the heart strings getting you there. The art is beautiful, especially in the final scene. This is a good bit of urban fantasy and a nice play on the traditional faerie tale structure.

Rating: 8/10

Hunter's Moon / Salvador

Title: Hunter's Moon / Salvador
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer: James L. White, Mark Polish, Michael Polish, Sebastian Jones
Art: Dalibor Talajic, Steph Stamb
Colorist: Juanmar
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Randy Buccini
Cover: Dalibor Talajic, Tomislav Tikulin

Flip book. This is a Free Comic Book Day giveaway, but there's no date on it. My best guess is 2006.

First story is Salvador by screenwriters Mark and Michael Polish and Sebastian Jones, with art by Steph Stamb. It got off to a very shaky start with a text introduction that was grammatically shaky at best and bordering on incoherent. Given that, I was pleased to see that the comic itself was wordless. Much better! Stamb's art is beautiful and the story's imagery is an interesting interpretation of the Icarus myth. I wonder if it's going to stay wordless. That might be the best approach.

Flip the book over and you've got Hunter's Moon, which begins with a flashback to the lead character deer hunting as a boy with his father. Flash forward to the present where the boy who once enjoyed spending time outdoors with his dad is now a high-powered business executive with a son of his own, one who's not too keen on spending a week of father-son bonding in the woods. The characters here are interesting, but I get the impression from the cover that there is much more to the plot than was revealed in this segment. This was clearly taken from the first issue and cut off at the best stopping point the editors could manage. The writing on this, by James L. White who wrote the screenplay for the Ray Charles biopic Ray, is quite good in terms of dialogue and characterization. It will be interesting to see how things progress as more action is introduced.

There is some sloppy editing here, but both stories show promise.

Rating: 6.5/10

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bone: Happy Halloween

Title: Bone: Happy Halloween
Date: 2008
Publisher: Cartoon Books
Writer: Jeff Smith
Art: Jeff Smith

Promotional ashcan-format freebie with a full-color sequence from fairly late in the Bone epic, when the story was in full-on epic fantasy mode. Thing are looking pretty beak as a weary and wounded Thorn makes her way through treacherous caverns to the Crown of Horns while her friends face their own perils. Jeff Smith's art is gorgeous as always, and it the color looks great. This is a nice pivotal moment in the story, and this sample does a good job of building the anticipation.

Rating: 8/10

Percy & Grimm

Title: Percy & Grimm
Date: 2010
Publisher: Mischief Comics
Writer: Matt Aucoin
Art: Matt Aucoin

Half-sized minicomic preview of Matt Aucoin's webcomic of the same title. This book presents sketches and writeups of the characters and unusual creatures that populate the world of Percy and Grimm. The characters and critters get stranger as the book progresses, eventually reaching Ethan the Enchanted Piece of Grass, and the ominous Gumdrop King. One character has a "licking problem". Another has a tendency to get bitten by things. The character designs are creative, and there's enough fantasy flavor to provide some familiarity with enough weirdness to keep the book from seeming derivative. There's no plot in this minicomic, but it was enough to get me curious as to what is going to happen when all of these oddball characters get together.

Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A List Of Grievances

Rather than going out today and buying a certain overhyped "killing" of a longstanding member of the Marvel Universe today (who will undoubtedly be back in the land of the living just it time for the next Fantastic Four movie), I'll be doing a review of an indie webcomic collection. Enjoy!

Title: A List Of Grievances
Date: 2008
Publisher: Free Lunch Comics
Writer: Stephanie O'Donnell
Art: Stephanie O'Donnell

This paperback-sized squarebound volume collects a selection of Stephanie O'Donnell's webcomic, The Original Nutty Funsters. The characters, anthropomorphic slacker roomates tackle politics, weather, haiku, and the occasional God of Anger (who wants cookies). There's also an amusing plotline involving former juvenile delinquent Dee Pilsner (well, at least he's formerly juvenile; hmm... um, chronologically, anyway) mentoring an actual juvenile delinquent. Stephanie O'Donnell provides plenty of laughs and some entertaining ongoing stories.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Plastic Man #19

Title: Plastic Man
Issue: #19
Date: September 1977
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: John Albano
Art: Ramona Fradon, Bob Smith
Colorist: Liz Berube

Plastic Man and his buddy Woozy are cleaning up the city streets when they rescue a young "98-pound weakling" from a gang of thugs. But when "Mouse", the local wimp, has a close encounter with a flying saucer (two flying saucers, actually), he ends up with temporary superpowers that could make Plastic Man look and feel like a has-been. This was played mostly for laughs, and it generally worked, particularly in comedic-Shakespearian ending. I also really liked the attention to detail in the artwork. The art team of Fradon and Smith manage to put Woozy into multiple panel backgrounds before he actually gets close enough to the action to get a speaking part, and they even incorporate tiny subplots involving stray dogs and cats for those paying attention. The actions of the aliens make little sense as they zap Mouse with some kind of stun ray that just happens to have a superpower-granting side effect, and the only significant female character in the book is depicted and shallow and treacherous (but lovely, of course), but this story does succeed at being a decent little bit of self-contained comedy.

Rating: 6.5/10

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Coelacanth And Friends (Kekionga Miniworks #16)

Title: Coelacanth And Friends (Kekionga Miniworks)
Issue: #16
Date: 2005
Publisher: Paradise Valley Comics
Writer: Pan Bliss
Artist: Pam Bliss

This minicomic, set in Pam Bliss' magical (or simply odd) town of Kekionga, was a "25-hour" comic created from a set of prompts involving a disembodied brain, and ugly fish trophy, and an airplane about to crash. The resulting story tells about how the Coelacanth in the back room of Bud's junkyard office found its way to the front of the shop, and how Mr. Spit's remote controlled plane got some emergency repairs. There's also a brain in a jar. Great dialogue in this cute story.

Rating: 8/10

I picked this issue up at one of the SPACE conventions and it's signed by the creator.

Amelia Rules: When The Past Is A Present

Title: Amelia Rules! When The Past Is A Present
Date: 2010
Publisher: Atheneum
Writer: Jimmy Gownley
Art: Jimmy Gownley
Cover Design: Sonia Chaghatzbanian

This volume collects issues #16-20 (plus a preview from the next collection) of Jimmy Gownley's Amelia Rules comic book.

Amelia McBride is a 5th-grader from New York City who is living in a small town with her mom following her parents' divorce. Her mother's musician sister lives in the same town and Amelia has become friends with a band of nerds, superheroes, ninjas, and misfits. That's the basic scenario. It's handled beautifully, with witty geeky dialogue, fast-paced jokes, and a kind of tenderness that is rare in comics. The opening story "Funny Story" has Amelia's mom going on a date, much to the horror of Amelia, who had plans to watch The Princess Bride with her mom. It doesn't help that the only babysitter available on short notice is, well, delusional. The resulting mayhem is clever and hilarious, and it gives a good taste of what Gownley can accomplish with his cast of characters.

Gownley's work is even stronger on "The Things I Cannot Change", the third chapter in this volume, which tells the story of one of Amelia's friends coping with her father's impending deployment overseas with the Army. "The Things I Cannot Change" is one of the best stories about war that I've ever read in comics, and it's written without a single battle scene.

Amelia Rules has some of the best storytelling in comics these days.

Rating: 9.5/10

I picked this up today at Ocean State Job Lot for $3. Best comic bargain I've gotten in quite a while. I know the purpose of this project is to read the comics I have, not to buy more, but this was too good to pass up!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beowulf Comicon Promo

Title: Beowulf Comicon Promo
Date: July, 2007
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Chris Ryall
Art: Gabriel Rodriguez
Colorist: Jay Folos
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Based On The Screenplay By: Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary

"Monster Grendel's tastes are plainish/For breakfast, just a couple Danish." - Maurice Sagoff.

IDW's preview of their comic based on the movie based on the ancient Anglo-Saxon epic. We get started with Grendel attacking Hrothgar's hall and tearing apart some of the Geatish warriors. Interestingly, Grendel refuses to fight Hrothgar himself, the first of several hints of a connection between the two that the Gaiman/Avary script adds in an attempt to "improve" a story that has endured for well over 1000 years. The fight scene is pretty standard comic fare, but the introduction of Grendel's mother gets is a bit more interesting, and the arrival of Beowulf in the land of the Geats is handled quite nicely. Visually, the combination of Gabriel Rodriguez's artwork and Jay Folos' coloring is stunning. While there is some wandering from the source material, there is also some obvious effort made to stay faithful to the original wherever possible.

Rating: 6/10

Friday, January 21, 2011

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #38

Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Issue: #38
Date: July, 1991
Publisher: Mirage Studios

When I rediscovered comics in the late 1980s (I'd been a Marvel fan as a kid), it was still relatively early in the b/w comic boom that began with Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. TMNT had been going for a couple of years when I got my first comic shop subscription at the original Newbury Comics location on Newbury St. in Boston. At that point the first couple of issues had already jumped in price enough to turn me off of picking them up. I stuck to the books I could get at cover price (Robotech, Elflord, Adventurers, Mai: The Psychic Girl, Lone Wolf & Cub, Watchmen, and Kamui were on that first subscription).

I mention all of the above as my way of explaining that this issue is the first issue of TMNT that I've actually ever read. My only other experience with these characters has been through the very sanitized and family-friendly movies and cartoon show.

I wouldn't go so far as to describe the humor in this issue as "adult", but the raunchy factor is certainly up a few notches from the animated "Heroes on a Half Shell" (a nickname that makes no sense at all, come to think of it). The basic plot here has a couple of incompetent aliens abducting Raphael (and a cow; what is it with aliens and cows?) and dodging the equally incompetent government forces that are trying to blow their flying saucer out of the sky.

There are a couple of good jokes and a lot of really bad lowbrow humor. I did like the advice that one particular page would be best enjoyed while listening to the song "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins. Unfortunately, the laughs generally were neither frequent enough nor clever enough to keep my attention.

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dan Is Silly

Title: Dan Is Silly
Date: 2010
Publisher: Kristen Toohill (
Writer: Kristen Toohill
Penciler: Kristen Toohill
Inker: Kristen Toohill
Letterer: Kristen Toohill

Half-sized minicomic from Kristen Toohill's classes at Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies. Dan Is Silly introduces Kristen's friend Dan through a series of geeky slices of life. They discuss Facebook games, WOW, Bejeweled, vuvuzelas, and the distinctive oxygen-extracting mechanisms of gills and lungs. Both characters are amusing, and the artwork and lettering is more crisp and clear than is typical for a lot of slice-of-life minicomics. If you're into autobiographical geekery, this is a nice little book.

Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Avengers #1

Title: The Avengers
Issue: #1
Date: 2010
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Dean White
Letterer: VC's Cory Petit
Cover: John Romita Jr., Jason White
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort

Sadly, not John Steed and Emma Peel. This is a 2010 reboot for Marvel's long-running superhero team comic. The roster on the cover features Iron Man, Cap, Thor, Spidey. and Wolverine. What? No Giant Girl this time around? Actually, by the time we're on page 4, you've actually got more than 25 prospective team members being recruited. But still no Giant Girl. Unless they changed her costume. There were some I didn't recognize. So it's Steve Rogers (out of costume) doing the recruiting, and they finally settle on the characters from the cover (including some other dude as Cap) plus Spider-Woman and Hawkeye. Oh, and a woman named Maria Hill, Agent of SHIELD, apparently, as team leader.

Within moments of the getting-to-know you stuff it's "Let's do the time plot again!" (feel free to sing along), as Kang shows up to warn Stark about some device he hasn't invented yet. Stark: "It's a doomsday device." Thor: "You invented a device who's purpose is doom?" Ha!

At this point it degenerates into silliness involving Ultron, the "children" of the Avengers, and some dystopian future that is supposed to be distinctive from all of the other dystopian futures that Marvel heroes have confronted over the years. Spidey manages a few more witty lines before everything fizzles out and we get to the backup feature, a reasonably interesting prose history of the (retconned) Avengers. Oh, and the lovely pinup by Arthur Adams and Laura Martin that features just about all past and present Avengers? Still no Giant Girl.

Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bonus Review: The Dream Detectives / Pashanata

Title: The Dream Detectives / Pashanata
Date: 2010
Publisher: Zeros 2 Heroes
Writer: Carmen Wright
Penciler: Craig Shepard, Richard Pace
Inker: Diana Greenhalgh, Steve Sprayson, Richard Pace
Colorist: Stephen R. Buell, Ian Sokoliwski
Cover: Richard Pace
Editor: Robert Parizek

Flip book, with both halves contributing to a single overall storyline. Callum, a musician out on the road with his band, can't get the woman he broke up with out of his dreams, and his dreams always show her dead. Meanwhile, back in Montreal, the woman of Callum's dreams is being stalked by a mysterious man who's seeking a leather jacket that she gave to Callum.

This comic is just a small part of an ambitious multimedia experience that includes blogs and twitter feeds for characters in the story as well as an iPhone app. Although I haven't sampled the full array of online material, I was impressed with the storytelling in the two parallel plots in this comic. This is an intriguing tale with strong romantic elements and hints of a deeper mystery. Good dialogue and supporting characters too.

Rating: 8/10

Bonus Review: The Wolf and the Sun

Title: The Wolf and the Sun
Date: 2011
Publisher: Aya Rothwell
Writer: Aya Rothwell
Art: Aya Rothwell

Aya Rothwell presents her interpretation of the myth of the wolf swallowing the sun (or in this case, curling up to sleep around the sun in the night time). Full-color quarter-sized minicomic that tells the tale of Sunwolf and the shadowy Quiet Wolf and their race to chase the sun. Rothwell's vivid watercolors give this mini a unique look, and I enjoyed her quirky wolf characters.

Rating: 7.5/10

Deathless: The House Committee

Title: Deathless: The House Committee
Date: 2011
Writer: Catherynne M. Valente
Art & Layout: Amy Houser

The House Committee is a full-color half-sized minicomic excerpt from Catherynne M. Valente's upcoming novel Deathless, which adapts traditional Russian fairy tales and sets them in Stalinist Russia. In a crowded house in a city that was once called St. Petersburg, a girl named Marya discovers that her room, which had once taken four steps to cross, now took seven. Valente's mix of soviet culture with the gnome-like domovoi of Russian legend is instantly engaging, especially when combined with Amy Houser's beautiful artwork. As a teaser, this was a treat, and it certainly got me interested in the upcoming prose novel.

Rating: 8/10

I'd been hoping to run into Cat Valente at Arisia to pick up her new minicomic, so it was great to find her at the autograph area of the dealers hall when I arrived on Monday morning (along with author Seanan McGuire, who's in the picture with Cat and the comic).

I've got two more bonus reviews coming tonight, which will cover my last two comic book acquisitions at Arisia. The special convention edition of Comic A Day has been a lot of fun. I'm definitely planning to do convention specials for my upcoming shows. The next two are templecon in Rhode Island and Queen City Kamikaze New Hampshire, both in February.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bonus Review: How The Trendy Dog Went To Salem MA And Became Ichabod Crane

Title: How The Trendy Dog Went To Salem MA And Became Ichabod Crane
Date: 2008
Publisher: Aya Rothwell
Writer: Julia Abrams, Aya Rothwell
Art: Julia Abrams, Aya Rothwell

This quarter-sized minicomic was drawn as a jam between Julia Abrams and Aya Rothwell at a cafe in Salem MA in 2008. The trendy dog in introduced in proper surreal style before the action moves to a tarot reading in Salem, followed by a Legend of Sleepy Hollow themed brawl. A nice moral wraps things up at the end, while the introductory page shows a quick guide to how a jam comic is put together. Not quite coherent (not that you'd expect that from an improv like this) but surreal and quirky with some good laughs.

Rating: 6/10

This is a bonus review. of a book I picked up at the Arisia convention (shown in the photo with writer/artist Aya Rothwell). Look for more Arisia reviews tomorrow.

Out The Window

Title: Out The Window
Date: 2010
Publisher: Free Lunch Comics
Writer: Sarah Morrison
Artist: Sarah Morrison

Really adorable story about a girl and her dragon, told without dialogue (none is needed) and with the main characters in full color against b/w backgrounds. The format is similar to children's paperback picture book, with one illustration per page. The story is straightforward but engaging and the art is lovely. Nice bit of magical fantasy that's good for all ages.

Rating: 8/10

I ran into Sarah Morrison (that's Sarah in the photo!) at Arisia and picked up her debut comic, Out the Window. Sunday at Arisia was a solo day for me and aside from my one panel, I spent it at my dealer's table. I'm catching up on come other comics I got at the convention, so look for some of those bonus reviews coming soon.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bonus Review: Ubunchu! #01

Title: Ubunchu!
Issue: #01
Date: 2008
Publisher: Aerial Line
Writer: Hiroshi Seo
Art: Hiroshi Seo, Arturo Silva
Translations: Fumihito Yoshida, Hajime Mizuno
Editor: Martin Owens

This manga minicomic is all about the Linux Ubuntu operating system (in spite of the fact that one of the lead characters insists on pronouncing it "Ubunchu!"). Matsano and Akane are the two leaders of the System Admins club, and they can never agree on, well, apparently on anything technology-related. When Risa, the only other club member, recommends Linux Ubuntu for the club's new desktop, can she possibly get the two officers to stop bickering long enough to hear her out.

This is a minicomic freebie done in manga format to promote the Linux Ubuntu operating system. It's funny in places and informative in places, but the dialogue is very jumpy, and in spite of the overall message that Linus is easy to install and use, the book bogs down in technical jargon on occasion.

Rating: 6/10

My plan is to finish up Arisia with no net gain to my unread comics pile, so this is a bonus review for today! More to come!

Attack of the Super-Wizards #1

Title: Attack of the Super-Wizards
Issue: #1
Date: 2010
Writer: Joey Peters
Penciler: Joey Peters
Inker: Joey Peters
Letterer: Joey Peters
Editor: Joey Peters
Creator: Fletcher Hanks

Fletcher Hanks created a number of oddball characters during comics' Golden Age in the early 1940s. Among his creations were Fantomah: Mystery Woman of the Jungle, Big Red McLane: Earth's Mightiest Lumberjack (no, really!), and Stardust the Super-Wizard. Fletcher Hanks' characters have fallen into the public domain, and Joey Peters lovingly recreates Hanks' style in this tribute comic.

There is some amusing material here, as well as some things that will just leave you scratching your head. And that is exactly the reaction you're likely to have to the original stories. My favorite segment in this issue featured Stardust's hardboiled detective galpal Rosemary Redgrave. I love her line "Have you sold squids to any suspicious customers lately?" The fact that the book is loaded with Lovecraft references is a nice little touch.

A few of the jokes fell flat, but I had a lot of fun reading this and learning about Fletcher Hanks and his comics. Readers will need at least a little bit of context to really "get" this, but once you have that context, it's quite entertaining.

Rating: 7/10

When I talk about "finds" at conventions, I usually mean comics I discovered walking around the dealer hall. This one was a literal find at Arisia. I found it on the sink in an unoccupied mens room. I forgot to take a photo of the comic at the con, so the photo instead was taken with the comic on a bench next to my bag as we waited for the train at Boston's South Station. Back to Arisia tomorrow, so look for more reviews of comics I find (one way or the other) at the con!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sky Pirates of Valendor Series 2 #1

Title: Sky Pirates of Valendor Series 2
Issue: #1
Date: 2011
Publisher: Jolly Rogue Studios
Writer: Everett Soares
Penciler: Brian Brinlee
Inker: Alex Rivera
Tones: Jet Amago
Letterer: Steve Kuster
Editor: Amy Haley, Elizabeth Tramonti
Art Direction: Keith J Murphey

Captain Tobin Manheim is willing to give his ex-lover Shyni one chance to explain her involvement in the killing of his mother. But her story may open wounds that are too old and too deep to heal. The beginning of the second series of Sky Pirates of Valendor takes its time to deepen the characters and to delve into some of the political intrigue that Tobin and his crew are being swept up in. Shyni's background story holds together well, and that's in spite of me feeling like there's a bit of an overabundance of "cute girl trained to be world's greatest assassin" in comics these days. Shyni somehow takes that cliche and rises above it with some genuinely powerful interplay with a conflicted Tobin. The emphasis on character development over swashbuckling action in this issue will make the action that much more meaningful as the series progresses.

Rating: 7.5/10

Sky Pirates of Valendor Series 2 #1 was my first acquisition at Friday night of the Arisia convention (with a photo of the book "in the wild" at Arisia). I'll be reviewing comics obtained at the con all weekend, and I'm even planning to up the Comic-A-Day ante to include a couple of bonus reviews as time permits. The first night of the convention was a lot of fun in spite of us getting a later-than-planned start heading up to Boston. We got home just in time to get this posted right under the wire. We'll be heading out bright and early tomorrow and I'm looking forward to a fun day at the con.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reviewing From The Arisia Convention This Weekend

This weekend will be my first convention weekend since I started this review blog. I'm going to try out something a little different. While the primary focus of Comic A Day for most of the year will be working on my backlog of unread comics, for conventions, I'd like to purchase one new comic per day at the con and review it on the spot.

So this weekend I'll be at the Arisia convention in Boston MA. Arisia is a general SF convention that features a wide variety of programming. I know specifically of two new comics that will be available at the con, so I'll need to get those two and then find two more. I'll also need to arrange for some online time to post reviews. For these on-the-spot reviews, I'll be replacing the scans with photos.

For those interested in checking out my comics, I'll be at Table 54 in the Dealers' Room. I'm also a panelist. Here is my panel schedule:

  • Sat 12:30pm - Challenges of Self-Publishing
  • Sat 3:30pm - Comic Book Creation from Creators' Perspectives
  • Sun 2:00pm - Marketing Independent Media
  • Mon 11:00am - The Care and Feeding of the Young Fan
  • Mon 2:00pm - Other Cons: What Else is Out There?
Looking forward to doing my first set of Comic A Day reviews on the road. Hope to see you all at Arisia!


Title: Zoir!
Publisher: Geekocracy
Writer: Mason Johnson
Penciler: Mariano Laclaustra
Inker: Mariano Laclaustra
Design: Mason Johnson
Letterer: Mason Johnson

The cover blurb on this 12-page half-sized b/w minicomic describes Zoir! as "A zombie-detective-noir comic with possible super-hero-like action".

Intriguing start to this tale of revenge beyond the grave. The protagonist is a zombie with his mind (brainnnn!) intact. Jack is one of a group of zombie slaves brought back from the dead by an evil preacher, but as things turn out, he's not as controllable as the preacher had hoped. In fact, things very rapidly get out of control. This is just the opening segment of the story, but it's told very effectively and it's distinctive enough from standard zombie fare to raise my curiosity.

Rating: 7.5/10

This is the (lucky!) 13th installment of Comic A Day, and the closest I've come so far to missing one. Started reading and reviewing at just about 11:00 PM. Posting at 11;20 PM. The next four days will be challenging since I'll be at a convention. More on that in my next post!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Battlestar Galactica #0

Title: Battlestar Galactica
Issue: #0
Date: 2006
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: Nigel Raynor
Inker: Nigel Raynor
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover Art: Steve McNiven

Convenient note for the hardcore fans: "The events of this comic book take place in the middle of Season Two of the television show, after the return from Kobol in Episode 207 (Home, Part 2) and before the arrival of Pegasus in Episode 211 (Resurrection Ship, Part 1)". For those who are not hardcore fans, this is an adaptation of the Battlestar Galactica remake, not the original series. No Dirk Bennedict. Starbuck is a woman. The comic itself centers on a hospital ship that is under attack by Cylon centurians. When Kara "Starbuck" Thrace boards the ship, she discovers that all of the survivors are people officially listed as dead in the records. Are they Cylons in human form? Are they who they claim to be? Or are they something else? Not much is answered here, but it serves as a nice teaser for the comic series. The art is good, although as with most adaptations of movies or TV shows, the character designs feel just a little bit "off". The characterizations seemed pretty good, especially Commander Adama.

Backup story is a two-page preview of Red Sonja #11 that's all fight scene with no dialogue. The chainmail bikini is still just as ridiculous as it ever was, although artist Mel Rubi does a nice job with all of the jumping around, kicking, and sword-swinging. Writer on this segment is Michael Avon Oeming.

Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Avengers: Halloween Ashcan 2006

Title: The Avengers: Halloween Ashcan 2006
Date: 2006
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jeff Parker
Penciler: Manuel Garcia
Inker: Scott Koblish
Colorist: Val Staples
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Art: Aaron Lopresti and Guru eFX
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Assistant Editor: Nathan Cosby

Giant Girl? Really? The rest of the team is pretty familiar: Cap, Storm, Hulk, Spidey, Iron Man, and Wolverine. This is an alternate (and all-ages friendly) origin story for Ultron, and it's played mostly for laughs. The military decides to fire the Avengers in favor of its new Ultron artificial intelligence, which turns heel within seconds of being activated. This would normally be pretty lame, but at least they have Spidey breaking the fourth wall and commenting on how Ultron has just set some kind of everything-went-wrong speed record. The silly continues from there. Banner: "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Logan: "I don't like you that much now." Ha! None of the danger ever feels all that threatening, but the jokes keep coming and the action is fast-paced, harmless fun. Not really sure what any of this had to do with Halloween, but it's a decent little freebie (26-page full-color ashcan-sized). I still have no idea who the heck Giant Girl is, but I suppose that the concept, at least, is fairly obvious.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Batman: Gotham Knights #6

Title: Batman: Gotham Knights
Issue: #6
Date: August 2000
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Devin Grayson, Walter Simonson
Penciler: Paul Ryan, John Paul Leon
Inker: John Floyd, John Paul Leon
Colorist: Jean Segarra
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Editor: Dennis O'Neil, Mark Chiarello

Bruce Wayne learns the details of a city councilman's misdeeds during the Gotham Earthquake and the various catastrophes that followed. The evidence needed to put the corrupt politician behind bars is buried under rubble in a bank vault, and the Batman turns to Barbara Gordon for help in locating the vault. But it turns out that Oracle has a secret of her own hidden in that same vault. This story engages in a fair amount of retcon, but if you can get past that, the interplay between Bruce Wayne, Barbara Gordon, and Jim Gordon is excellent. It's also nice to see a Batman story where the mayhem really takes a back seat to the character interaction really. It helps that Barbara Gordon has become one of the best characters in the DC Universe, and that she's got the Batman to play off of. Penguin is also handled well here, as are the rest of the supporting characters.

This issue also features an excellent "Batman: Black & White" backup story, told almost entirely from the point of view of the Riddler as he searches the Mad Hatter's (booby-trapped, of course) mansion on a quest for the answer to one of literature's great riddles, a conundrum scribed by Lewis Carroll himself.

Two excellent stories in one issue make this one of the best single issues of an ongoing Batman series I've read in a while.

Rating: 8.5/10

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dark Tower Sketchbook

Title: Dark Tower Sketchbook
Date: 2006
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Artists: Jae Lee, Richard Isanove

Serving as a preview freebie for Marvel's The Gunslinger Born series based on Stephen King's fantasy novel series, The Dark Tower, this book introduces the artists and provides some sketch work and some insights into their techniques. Jae Lee's raw pencil and ink line art is perfect for the stark feel of King's writing, and it particularly shines on the character concept sketches that appear here. The best feature in this book, though, is Richard Isanove's walk-through of his work on a single panel, starting from a photograph, and taking the reader all the way through the addition of background colors, line art, and finally the digital painting process for the foreground elements. This is not meant to be a detailed "how-to", but it's definitely worth a look to anyone who's interested in the digital painting or digital coloring process.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, January 8, 2011

(Face) #2

Title: (Face)
Issue: #2
Date: April 2005
Publisher: Rochelle
Writer: Rochelle
Artist: Rochelle

Four-page quarter-sized photocopied minicomic featuring a conversation between Eye, Nose, and Mouth. Not a whole lot to it, but funny in a surreal sort of way.

Rating: 5.5/10

Snapshots (Kekionga Miniworks #20)

Title: Snapshots (Kekionga Miniworks)
Issue: #20
Date: 2006
Publisher: Paradise Valley Comics
Writer: Pan Bliss
Artist: Pam Bliss

Pam Bliss' Kekionga is an absolutely wonderful setting, full of quirky characters and little bits of magic. This minicomic is exactly what the title describes: A set of snapshots arranged into a photo album of the characters of Kekionga. From local superheroes to wooly mammoths to retired gods, these glimpses of Pam Bliss' magical town and its inhabitants are lovingly illustrated with captions that give just a hint of the stories behind the characters. No plot here, and probably not the best starting point for exploring Kekionga, but really fun if you're familiar with any of the stories or characters.

Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Clockwork Girl #0

Title: The Clockwork Girl
Issue: #0
Date: 2007
Publisher: Arcana
Writer: Sean O' Reilly, Kevin Hanna
Penciler: Grant Bond
Colorist: Grant Bond
Cover: Grant Bond

In a land far away, two competing scientists occupy castles on two hills. One castle is dedicated to the science of biology, the other to mechanical technology. The lead character really doesn't fully appear in this introductory book, but the creators do a great job of setting the scene and introducing the rest of the cast. The steampunk-flavored artwork looks great, and the bit of story that we get hints at a complex and engaging tale to come (with the added plus of it being told in an all-ages suitable format). Excellent start.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Galactic Grem: Friends And Enemies #1

Title: Galactic Grem: Friends And Enemies
Issue: #1
Date: March 2007
Publisher: Alterniverse Comics (purchase from Comixpress here)
Writer: Michael Parla
Penciler: Michael Parla
Inker: Michael Parla
Cover Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Interesting combination of space opera action in space mixed with a men-in-black style intrigue back on Earth. Grem, an alien, was rescued as an infant from the infamous Roswell crash. Eighteen years later, he's part of a US military investigative team that deals with alien incursions on Earth. Meanwhile, he dreams of missions in interstellar space fighting against alien forces. The story jumps around a bit in its opening, but settles into a good groove once the Earth storyline is introduced. I liked the fact that the aliens are not presented as overpoweringly powerful, and all of the cast seem like solid, well developed characters. The black-and-white art is sparse in places, but the panel layouts are effective and the book flows nicely. One minor quibble: the editing could have been better (I realize that it's a little thing, but using the word "rouge" when you mean "rogue" is very silly, even more so when it's on the back cover blurb).

Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kris For The Hell Of It Mini Comic Collection #2

Title: Kris' For The Hell Of It Mini Comic Collection
Issue: #2
Date: 2007
Publisher: Mean Goat Comics
Writer: Kris Lachowski, Mary Lachowski
Artist: Kris Lachowski, Mary Lachowski

Sampler minicomic freebie featuring the work of Kris Lachowski (with Mary Lachowski on one of the strips) of Mean Goat Comics. Includes a very amusing (and realistic, for once!) story of a mad scientist cloning himself, along with a couple of more slapstick gag strips involving aliens. The first story is pretty clever, and the rest is harmless fun.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Everything's Archie #106

Title: Everything's Archie
Issue: #106
Date: June 1983
Publisher: Archie Comics
Writer: Frank Doyle
Penciler: Dan DeCarlo
Inker: J. DeCarlo
Colorist: Barry G Man
Letterer: Billy Y
Editor: Richard Goldwater

The cover is interesting with its Donkey Kong, Asteroids, and Pac Man motif. Unfortunately, in spite of the cover text asking "Guess who's got video game fever?", there is actually no video game themed story in this issue. What you do get are some classic Riverdale tales, plus a couple of bonus gag strips, a Sabrina the Teenage Witch quickie, and a bit of the Archie gang in their "Archie 1" caveman incarnation. The first story is the most amusing with Archie's band considering replacing Reggie because he never shows up for rehearsal. Most of the other shorter stories are setups for a single punch line and they're a bit hit or miss, although it's always amusing to watch the ongoing machinations between Betty and Veronica.

Rating: 5/10

Monday, January 3, 2011

Jack The Lantern: Ghosts! #1 (Free Comic Book Day Color Edition)

Title: Jack The Lantern: Ghosts!
Issue: #1 (Free Comic Book Day Color Edition)
Date: May 2007
Publisher: Castle Rain Entertainment
Writer: Michael Angelos
Penciler: Tim Vigil, Jerry Beck
Inker: Tony Bledsoe
Colorist: Michael Wulf
Letterer: Michael Angelos
Editor: David Rust
Cover Art: Jerry Beck, Tony Bledsoe

This is issue #1 of a six-issue series, but it opens with the story already in progress and a somewhat wordy recap passage to get the reader up to speed. You might want to get out your score card. Basically, you've got a guy named Jack Corby who's hosting a demon named Argotakar (and Izralwisp!). He's teamed up with a mentor figure, Frank Casper, and a "mystical knight" named Lisa Fraser. Those are the good guys. The bad guys are a cult called the Yavlo, who are in possession of something called the "Book of the Yavlo", which is described as "an alien book with unfathomable power" because the writer figured he probably shouldn't actually use the word "Necronomicon". Anyway, leading the Yavlo is a woman named Jadugar who favors cleavage-revealing dresses, along with an assortment of henchpersons including her brother Roman, cult leader Pavel Malkov, and billionaire London Dirk.

And the whole thing starts off as a very Freudian adventure inside the hellish landscape of Corby's subconscious, where he seems to be slowly working through the issues around his abusive father. The dream sequence bit is dark. In flavor, in subject matter, and in the actual ink tones used to color it, which makes it difficult to read and to figure out what the heck is going on. Artwork gets better once we're in the real world, although most of the action just recaps what has gone before and sets things up for future battles.

I appreciate that the writer takes some time to develop characters here. I like the knight character, Lisa Fraser, a lot. She actually wears sufficient clothing (as opposed to the villainess), and she's got an interesting role, training the lead character in both fighting and meditation. Likewise, the villains were fairly interesting. I was very pleased with the fact that they were all shown to have their own flaws and weaknesses right from the start. In spite of all of their resources, they are unsure how to proceed and it shows. That's a refreshing touch, particularly for a book that seems very heavily influenced by other dark supernatural comics (Vampirella, Hellblazer, and The Demon immediately came to mind). Hopefully, the strength of the full cast will continue to come through as the plot develops.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pirates Vs. Ninjas #1 (FCBD Edition)

Title: Pirates Vs. Ninjas
Issue: #1 (Free Comic Book Day Edition)
Date: April 2007
Publisher: AP Entertainment/Antarctic Press
Writer:Fred Perry, Robby Bevard, Wes Hartman
Penciler: Craig Babiar
Inker: Craig Babiar
Colorist: Craig Babiar
Letterer: Wes Hartman
Editor: Doug Dlin, Wes Hartman

Ah, the classic internet meme, now available in comic form. Opens with a legendary tale of a mythic clash between pirate and ninja demigods and then proceeds rapidly into the main storyline involving a pirate crew hunting treasure in ninja territory. The main character, a conscripted navigator, was loads of fun. The humor fell a bit flat for me and there were some silly elements that seemed unnecessary, but this was a good introduction that introduced the world and set up the plot while keeping the action moving. There's some clever steampunk flavor to the weapon and ship designs, and the swashbuckling action looks great. The pirate dialect distracted more than it added to the story, but the book is definitely intended to be tongue-in-cheek, so it fits with the flavor of the book. Book ends with several nice pages of concept sketches for the series.

Rating: 6.5/10