Sunday, July 31, 2016

All Star Superman #1 Free Comic Book Day 2008 Edition

From the stack of random unread comics, and originally from Free Comic Book Day 2008.

Title: All-Star Superman
Issue: #1
Date: June, 2008
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciler: Frank Quitely
Inker: Jamie Grant
Colorist: Jamie Grant
Letterer: Phil Balsman
Editor: Brandon Montclare, Bob Schreck

This is one of several promotional reprints that DC Comics has produced of the first issue of All Star Superman. I read and reviewed a more recent reprint (coinciding with the release of the Man of Steel film) here.

This edition uses the original cover (formatted for Free Comic Book Day), which is something of an improvement on the Man of Steel promo (or rather, the new cover for the Man of Steel promo was not an improvement on the original).

My opinion on the story holds up after a second reading (actually, this was probably at least my fourth time reading this; I've got the original printing somewhere).

This is an excellent, and complex story, with Superman facing the possibility of his own mortality due to a scheme by Lex Luthor that lured Superman into the sun and left his cells dying slowly from a solar radiation overdose. The story feels very Silver-Age, and is reminiscent of Alan Moore's great Silver Age tribute, "What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?".

The artwork is absolutely gorgeous.

It's not the best introductory story for non-fans, in spite of DC constantly reprinting it as such, but for a fan, this is a really intriguing beginning that holds up nicely after multiple readings.

Rating is up half a point due to the better cover.

Rating: 8.5/10

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Wonder Woman Rebirth #1

This is one of the recent DC books I picked up at Newbury Comics in Hyannis MA on our summer visit home.

Title: Wonder Woman: Rebirth

Issue: 1
Date: August, 2016

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Matthew Clark, Jeremy Colwell, Sean Parsons, Liam Sharp
Colorist: Jeremy Colwell, Laura Martin
Letterer: Jodi Wynne
Editor: Chris Conroy, Mark Doyle

Cover: Liam Sharp, Laura Martin

One problem with the constant reboots of continuity that DC and Marvel have been doing more and more frequently, really ever since Crisis on Infinite Earths, is that it is very easy to fall back on an "everything you know is a lie" type of story.

That's what's happening here in this Wonder Woman reboot. There is a random action sequence with a self-reflective monologue thrown on top of it, questioning the various inconsistencies in Diana's origin story, while giving glimpses of a "current version" of a retold origin.

This transitions into a sequence where Diana uses the Lasso on herself in an effort to discover the truth about her origins. Clever idea, but not as well executed as I was hoping it might be.

This leads us to Olympus, some generic fighting, and nothing resolved.
Oh, and by the way, everything we have been told is a lie. Maybe.

Visually beautiful (awesome cover, and the interior art delivers too), but not much substance beyond some half-formed ideas.

Rating: 4.5/10

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Incident Under Hill Farm

First up from the newly-refreshed unread comic stack is a minicomic I picked up from the writer/artist at MASSive Comic Con in Worcester MA in June during our visit home.

Title: The Incident Under Hill Farm
Publisher: Benjamin Wright-Heuman
Date: 2014
Writer: Benjamin Wright-Heuman
Artist: Benjamin Wright-Heuman

Half-sized 12-page b/w minicomic. The story is a variant on one of Aesop's fables, modernized into a Twilight Zone style horror short about two farm workers, a tunnel, and the consequences of greed.

I particularly liked the artwork on the tunneling scenes, which were appropriately claustrophobic. Nothing is really explained, but that is not a big issue given the fable vibe that the creator was going for here. The writing had a nice told-around-the-campfire feel to it, which again, meshed well with the overall tone.

I bought one other minicomic from Benjamin Wright-Heuman at MASSive Comic Con, and am now looking forward to checking that one out.

Rating: 6.5/10

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The To-Read Stack

We're back in Vietnam, and settling in. Thanks to Emirates' generous baggage allowance, I was able to bring almost 100 comics here from the US (when added to the few remaining unread comics I left here, the total is exactly 99!). These are mostly from a box of unread comics from our storage unit back home, plus a few new issues that I bought at various comic shops, and a small number purchased at the two conventions I attended during our visit (MASSive Comic Con, and Readercon).

I'm looking forward to reading these over the coming school year, along with a few graphic novels I brought with me, plus some graphic novels and manga available at my school's library. I'll also be attending Manga Festival here in Ho Chi Minh City this weekend, and I'll keep my eye out for any other chances to buy comics during our upcoming travels.

Here are some photos of the to-read pile! First neatly stacked:

And then spread out on the floor!

Looking forward to some good reading!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Big Bad Best of Booty

This was one of several crowdfunding (Indiegogo in this case) purchases I made over the last school year and had shipped to a US address, to be waiting for me when I headed home for the summer visit.

Title: Big Bad Best of Booty
Date: June, 2015
Publisher: Anne Thalheimer
Writer: Anne Thalheimer
Artist: Anne Thalheimer

I'm a fan of Anne Thalheimer's autobiographical comic/zine, Booty, since discovering it at some of the Boston-area zine and indy comic events. I've reviewed individual issues here and here.

This is a "best-of" collection, featuring individual pages from past issues of the Booty zine.

Anne writes and draws about her jobs, her crafting and creativity, her travels, and gives some insight into life with ptsd. You also get Anne's experiences as a roller derby referee, plus guest appearances by her cats. Not to mention a range of geeky topics from the biology of squids to the game Apples to Apples to participation in a soup-swap (complete with sweet potato soup recipe).

The format of this results in some repetition, but this adds to the conversational tone. Reading this is like catching up with an old friend who you haven't spoken to in a while. It helps matters that this friend is so full of nerdy awesomeness.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Lumberjanes Volume 2: Friendship to the Max

I liked the first volume of Lumberjanes enough that I went to New England Comics in Quincy MA and picked this one up, and read it in one sitting.

Title: Lumberjanes Volume 2: Friendship to the Max
Date: October, 2015
Publisher: Boom! Studios (Boom Box)
Writer: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis
Artist: Brooke Allen
Colorist: Maarta Laiho
Letterer: Aubrey Aiese
Cover:  Noelle Stevenson
Editor: Dafna Pleban, Whitney Leopard

The second volume of Lumberjanes begins with dinosaurs attacking the Lumberjanes Scout Camp, and it proceeds to get weird from there.

This volume covers issues 5-8 of the comic series, plus a cover gallery and a preview of another Boom Box comic series, Giant Days. The Lumberjanes stories basically conclude the initial arc begun in the first volume (or first four comic issues), introducing some more well-defined villains, and a healthy dose of Greek mythology.

A game of Capture the Flag has much of the drama of real warfare, as the scouts learn to rely on each other under pressure, and they face down some serious supernatural forces by the end.

Character growth continues nicely, and the dialogue continues to be brilliant.

Giant Days, a comedy/drama about three women in their freshman year of college by John Allison and Lissa Treiman, looks like it has potential.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Poe Dameron #1

I stopped in at Newbury Comics in Manchester NH during our wanderings on our summer US visit, and got the first two issues of this series for the Kiddo, who continues to be a big Star Wars fan.

Title: Poe Dameron
Issue: 1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: June 2016
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Phil Noto
Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles
Editor: Heather Antos, Jordan D. White

In this Star Wars: The Force Awakens preview, Poe Dameron is searching for clues to Luke Skywalker's whereabouts, along with BB-8 and a new "Black Squadron" team of Resistance pilots.

After flying through a maze of caves, Poe finds himself in a tense standoff with a group that stands guard over a mysterious egg.

I liked the handling of the negotiations between Poe and the cave-dwellers. Neither side really wants to fight, but it's still a tense situation.

The new characters in Poe's squadron only get brief introductions, but it's enough to make them interesting. The hints of a possible traitor among them are a little heavyhanded, but I did like the snippets of history that added to the backstory for The Force Awakens.

This was a good start to a nice original story that fits in well with the new film.

Rating: 7.5/10

Monday, July 11, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens #1

Many years ago, back when I was in college, I used to get my comics at Comics For Collectors on the Ithaca Commons in Ithaca NY. I finally got back to visit Ithaca during our current trip back to the US, and managed to stop in at Comics For Collectors at their current location, still right near the Commons in downtown Ithaca. I had the Kiddo with me, and he picked out a couple of Star Wars comics.

Title: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Issue: 1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: August 2016
Writer: Chuck Wendig
Artist: Luke Ross
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles
Editor: Heather Antos

Adaptations always present their own set of unique problems. A comic adaptation of a film is working with limited space, and so there are cuts and other adjustments that must be made. There is also the issue that the adaptation writers are usually working from some version of a script an not necessarily the finished cut of the film.

This series adapts the new Star Wars film, covering the beginning of the movie, through most of the action that occurs on the desert planet Jakku. Most of the film's new characters get introduced, while the cast who appeared in the original trilogy will appear in later issues of the adaptation.

The comic uses caption introductions for the characters, which comes off a bit clunky, but does give the advantage of getting everyone's name out immediately.

The art is good, and the characters as draw look like they appear on film (which can be hard to do well in film-to-comic adaptations). I felt like a really iconic visual toward the beginning was unfortunately cut, but the ending full-page panel is a perfect shot of another one of the movie's iconic moments.

As an overall story, I liked this better than any of the prequel films, and I found it to be at least as good as Return of the Jedi, probably better (I'll have to see how it holds up to multiple viewings), so I felt like the plot is solid. The adaptation looks good visually, and its pacing feels right.

Rating: 7/10

Lumberjanes Volume 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

I bought this at Merrymac Games and Comics in Merrimack NH on our trip home for the summer.

Title: Lumberjanes Volume 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
Date: September, 2015
Publisher: Boom! Studios (Boom Box)
Writer: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis
Artist: Brooke Allen
Colorist: Maarta Laiho
Letterer: Aubrey Aiese
Editor: Dafna Pleban, Whitney Leopard

This is the first trade paperback volume of the critically-acclaimed Lumberjanes series, collecting the first four issues, plus a bonus gallery of the variant covers.

Five girls discover friendship, weirdness, and various monsters during a summer at Lumberjanes Scout Camp.

Loaded with catchphrases and frenetically-paced, the story places the girls into one dangerous adventure after another, with hardly a moment to stop and wonder "What the junk?".

The character development happens in small moments and little details, amid plenty of humor and a strong sense of wonder and weirdness.

The occasional entries from the Lumberjanes Field Manual and the badges (Pungeon Master!) are a nice added touch.

There is lots of action in this volume, but not many answered questions. I look forward to seeing where all of this is going.

Rating: 8/10