Friday, September 28, 2012

Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea

Nautical horror is one of my favorite subgenres. I picked this book up at Boston Comic Con last spring.

Title: Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea
Date: 2012
Publisher: The Draw Box
Writer: Tony Sedani, Joe Daxberger
Artist: Tony Sedani, Joe Daxberger
Cover: Tony Sedani, Joe Daxberger

Full-format comic consisting of two nautical horror stories. The art by both creators (each does writing and art on one of the stories) is stark and gorgeous throughout this book. I love the fish-tale-turned-dark flavor, which was nicely complemented by the grim art style.

The first story features a fisherman who survives a shipwreck only to find himself in an even worse place.

Next up a man trying to give up his dark secrets to the sea has an encounter with some of the sea's own secrets.

These stories are horror flash-fiction in comic form. There isn't room for a lot of plot twists or character development, but the mood and flavor of the stories give them their impact.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, September 24, 2012

Onyx: Colouring & Activity Comic Book

I picked this one up this past July at Otakon.

Title: Onyx: Colouring & Activity Comic Book
Date: 2012
Publisher: Mika Darling
Writer: Mika Darling
Artist: Mika Darling

Tale of a cat with a rich fantasy life, and a bird for an arch-nemesis.

This is a strip-format minicomic sprinkled with activity pages including a maze and a connect-the-dots between the three-panel comic strips.

Nice mix of good old fashioned feline humor with some amusing and surreal bits of fantasy. This was cute and fun, as cat comics should be.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mad's Dave Berg Looks At You

Title: Mad's Dave Berg Looks At You
Date: 1982
Publisher: Warner Books, EC Publications
Writer: Dave Berg
Artist: Dave Berg

Flea market find. Standard paperback format.

Organized into three segments on childhood, married life, and old age, Dave Berg's Mad Magazine cartoons do a nice job of skewering society's expectations and customs. Some of the humor is a bit dated, but there is plenty here that is laugh-out-loud funny.

It's also an amusing trip back in time, with Berg's excellent drawings of the ordinary people of the 1970s and early 1980s, complete with some classic 70s fashion. I also enjoyed a very early video game (Pong!) reference in one of the cartoons.

Berg's characters may say outrageous things at times, but they are always drawn as ordinary folk of all shapes and sizes, making this truly the "look at you" that it is intended to be.

Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Owl Time

Here's a minicomic that I picked up at the Maine Comic Arts Festival last spring.

Title: Owl Time
Date: 2011
Publisher: Sophie Goldstein
Writer: Sophie Goldstein
Artist: Sophie Goldstein

Eight-page micro-minicomic from the co-creator of Darwin Carmichael is Going To Hell.

Mostly wordless tale of a sleepy owl on a tree limb.Very cute and a nice example of how expressive a simple image can be. Back cover includes some amusing quotes from "reviewers".

Quick, but good fun.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Justice League #12

Title: Justice League
Issue: 12
Date: October 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, David Finch
Inker: Scott Williams, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, David Finch, Sandra Hope, Jonathan Glapion, Mark Irwin, Matt Banning, Rob Hunter, Joe Weems, Alex Garner, Trevor Scott
Colorist: Alex Sinclair, Gabe Eltaeb, Tony Avina, Sonia Oback, Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Editor: Katie Kubert, Brian Cunningham
Cover: Jim Lee, Alex Sinclair, Scott Williams

I've totally fallen behind on my New 52 reading, and this one generated a bit of buzz with the Superman/Wonder Woman kiss on the cover, so I skipped ahead to it.

This issue begins a transition into some membership changes for the Justice League that will go along with the release of a new Justice League of America title.

It also wraps up a plotline involving David Gray, who has abducted and possibly killed Steve Trevor as part of a scheme for revenge against the Justice League, who Gray blames for the deaths of his wife and children.

The final battle takes place on Mount Sumeru, which is conveniently labeled via caption as the "Mythic Valley of Souls". Not quite sure how it can be a mountain and a valley at the same time.

The battle pits the League against what appears to be the spirits of their deceased loved ones. It's well-handled, but nothing exceptional. This sort of thing has definitely been done before. A lot. Once the actual brawling starts, things proceed at a nice pace to endgame and about half the book ends up getting devoted to epilogue material, all of which is pretty good.

Most noticeably for me in these scenes is the fact that somewhere between issues 6 and 11 Hal Jordan stopped being a complete jerk. His scene here is great, and a lot more in keeping with the hero that Hal ought to be. Maybe the memories of the awful Green Lantern film are finally being put to rest.

Wonder Woman's scenes with Steve Trevor and with Superman were also good. Clark and Diana's  kiss (not really a spoiler here, since it's on the front cover) comes somewhat out of nowhere, but the lead-in dialogue worked well, and the earlier scene involving Steve was genuinely powerful.

Not disappointed I picked this issue up.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Steed And Mrs. Peel #0

Title: Steed And Mrs. Peel
Issue: 0
Date: August 2012
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Steve Bryant
Colorist: Ron Riley
Letterer: Steve Wands
Cover: Joshua Covey, Blond
Editor: Matt Gagnon, Chris Rosa

The A-word is nowhere to be found in this book, but this is a new adventure featuring characters from a certain classic British TV show that happens to share its title with a certain Marvel Comics property.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of the show, which makes this one of the very, very few times that I will say that about a TV adaptation. So I went into this with a lot of trepidation, and the cover did not help. Absolutely awful (apparently, there are actually 8 variant covers, this was version B; I haven't seen any of the others, but they would have a hard time being much worse).

Fortunately, the book itself proved to be pretty good.

The interplay between Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg on the show was consistently brilliant, and definitely a challenge to translate into the comic medium. Writer Mark Waid did about as good a job as could be done, with several scenes that were absolutely spot-on. He also got a lot of the show's style right. The situations are quirky. The villains are not always entirely competent, but their schemes are convoluted to near-ridiculousness.

Steve Bryant's interior art was good. He doesn't always capture Emma's easy grace, but that's more a function of the difficulty of using images of real actors.

Fight scenes are handled nicely with good attention to the details of the show's choreography. Loved the bit where a villain is dispatched by a combination of (judo!) chop from Emma and being tripped up by the handle of Steed's umbrella. Classic. Emma overpowering and swapping clothes with a henchwoman was pretty much pure fanservice. That is not a bad thing.

The story stands alone, but ends with a brief lead-in to the ongoing series.

About as good as I could have hoped for. Mr. Steed and Mrs. Peel, you were most definitely needed.

Rating: 8.5