Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ringside #7

Ringside #7

Ringside, Issue #7 progresses the three main stories, all of which revolve around CMW, a major-league professional wrestling promotion.  You have the old timers.  One's fallen on hard times, so another falls into organized crime to help him out, but he doesn't know that he's being scammed.  There's the young kids.  Reynolds is on his way up, working his way to the lower midcard, perhaps.  At least he has his foot in the door.  Finally, there are the promoters

I bought five or six comics last Wednesday, and this was the last one I read, but you know what?  I always read Ringside, and more importantly, I always buy it the day it comes out.  The dark, seedy underbelly of professional wrestling has always been laid bare: the Terry Garvin/Pat Patterson sexual harassment stories, Vince McMahon, Ted Turner, Bill Watts.  There've been a number of questionable characters in the wrestling world, and we've all heard about them in shoot interviews and tell-all autobiographies.

So where does Ringside come in?  One of the strengths of this title are the relationships between the characters.  In the on-stage world of professional wrestling, the characters are ten times as developed as the relationships between them because those relationships can be so fluid.  Ringside isn't like that.  Also, it steps away from the wrestling world on more than one front, moving into the drug world.  It'll be interesting to see how those two world collide.

Empress #6

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Empress, Issue #6 starts off with the Empress Emporia being reunited with her three children.  Dane, the former captain of the guard and the Empress's closest companion, is aloof at first, but Tor, the very short captain of the "ship" brings him around.  The ship is a small device left over from some war that allows people to teleport nearly anywhere.  Also in this issue, Emporia is finally reunited with her sister, Valeria.

Again, I can't use enough superlatives to describe this series, but most of all the line art and coloring are gorgeous.  I love how one of the details comes back to bite the protagonists in the end.  I'm very excited to see how this series concludes with Issue #7 next week.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever #2

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Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever, Issue #2 is in three parts with three distinct art styles, like before.  In the first story, Glenn's mother has come to visit.  She's part hippie, part Jesus freak, and part annoying, older mother.  The second story is Glenn visualizing his chores being three monstrous tasks.  The third story is a look at Henry and Glenn in different years: 1982, 1986, 1996, 2013, and 2038.  Finally, there's a gallery lasting a couple of pages and a full-page comic on the back cover.

I did like Issue #1 a bit better because the idea of Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig being a gay couple was still a little fresh, but Issue #2 is roughly of the same quality.  It's funny most of the time, although some of the jokes and situations are so obscure that by the time the joke hit me, the timing was off.  Perhaps this speaks more to my abilities as a reader, having just woken up from a nap, than the difficulty of the comic.  Still, for $5, it's a great buy, and I'll definitely look for more of them.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

She Wolf #4

She Wolf #4

She Wolf Spell Number Four: Demon Trapping ends the first arc, which is available on paperback on November 16 for about ten bucks on Amazon.  Gabby is a werewolf.  Spell One is about her becoming a werewolf.  Spell Two is about her finding a friend who's a vampire.  Spell Three is a series of visions ending with how her ancestor began the werewolf curse.  Spell Four, this issue, begins with a remembrance of the events leading up to the first issue before moving onto Gabby and her friend summoning a demon.

I love the mythology of this series, and the humor.  On the first page, the yellow light of the crescent moon covers the two girls' parents.  Later, the light from the fireworks covers them as they look for the two girls.  The battle between the demons and the girls is over-the-top gruesome.  Heh, heh.  I like the way the two casually cast spells to catch demons the way a normal pair of teens would cast love spells from a library book.  The series will return in January.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

International Iron Man #7

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International Iron Man, Issue #7 continues the story of Amanda and Jude, Tony Stark's birth parents.  Issue #6 dealt entirely with them and how H.Y.D.R.A. attempted to assassinate Amanda, only for Jude to step in and save the day.  A few years later, there's a little baby that will grow up to be a genius inventor superhero.  Issue #7 covers the rest of the basis, Amanda and Jude's backstory up until young Anthony was adopted by the Stark family.

Of course, there's got to be more to the story, and I can't wait to read it.  I haven't read enough Iron Man, a few trade paperbacks here and there, in particular the most recent version of Invincible Iron Man, the one where Tony Stark stops being so philanthropic.  If you haven't read Iron Man, International Iron Man is the one to start with, and the second arc is better than the first.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Citrus, Vol. 5

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Citrus: Secret Love Affair With Sister, Volume 5 continues the story of Yuzu and her strict stepsister, Mei.  The two have been dating since the end of the fourth volume, but as they start their second year in high school, Yuzu's blonde hair is causing a stir.  Yuzu keeps it blonde because her father's hair was blonde, but when a young first-year student begins to idolize Yuzu, going as far as to dye her hair blonde, it causes a scandal at the strict high school, leading to a student council election between the stepsisters.

I know, I know.  This is terrible.  I've always scoffed at teenage drama, shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, but for some reason, it's more palatable to me in manga form.  Oh, and did I mention there's a bunch of scenes of the two hot stepsisters kissing?  I know what most people think; there's porn.  Why not just watch that?  Why enjoy the embers when there's a raging fire on any torrent website?  As Stephen King wrote in The Green Mile, "sometimes the embers are better than the fire."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Civil War II #5

Image result for civil war ii 5Civil War II, Issue #5 is finally here.  The main artist on the project, David Marquez, had a child recently, so the delay is forgivable.  Now onto the comic.  It starts with the two sides clashing over the Statue of Liberty.  Like much of Brian Michael Bendis's work, there's a lot of dialogue.  On top of that, the artwork is very detailed.  There's a lot in this comic, including a lot of advertisements.  I'm normally pretty cool with ads in comics.  It's just par for the course at this stage, especially with Marvel and DC titles, but somehow they ruin the flow of this title.

Civil War II is a thousand times better than the original Civil War.  The basic idea behind the new conflict is future crimes.  An inhuman named Ulysses has the power to see the future, but Iron Man realizes that it's just something any super-powerful computer could do.  In fact, Iron Man has put Ulysses power into a computer of his own.  But what happens when Ulysses's visions becomes so powerful that everyone can see them?

I realize that I need to read more Civil War II.  It's pretty damn cool, and I've avoided all the tie-ins because I make money sporadically, and now I'm in one of the extra-sporadic periods.  My plan is to buy the trade paperbacks as they come out off Amazon.  I know I'm missing some of the story, but I simply can't afford to get all of the story as it happens.  Here's a shopping list for those that are going the trade paperback route in full:

  • Civil War II: January (Hardback) $35
  • Civil War II: Choosing Sides: November, $20
  • Civil War II: The Amazing Spider-Man: November, $15
  • Civil War II: X-Men: November, $15
  • Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II, December, $15
  • Civil War II Fallout, March, $11
  • Civil War II: Gods of War: November, $16
I'll probably buy most or all of those.  I've been in the middle of Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5 since it came out.  It's a good title, but I haven't kept up with it.  I've also been meaning to read Hawkeye, Vol. 6 for about the same length of time.  I don't know if they'll come out with a Civil War II title about Hawkeye, given that his role in it is so pivotal yet so small.  I think it's better left untold.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What a Wonderful World! Volume 2

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What a Wonderful World! Volume Two continues Inio Asano's early 2000s collection of short "slice of life" stories.  Although the collection is published in two volumes, there's no real difference between the first volume and the second volume.  In fact, the "tracks" are listed as 10 through 19, so you can't really read Volume One without reading Volume Two.  The stories are mostly about teens and young adults, with a few stories about middle-school students thrown in.

One thing I can't stand in comics and manga is the lack of change in the characters.  Inio Asano understands change, that it is an inevitable part of our being.  I think that's why he focuses on transitional characters in this collection and his other work.  Asano isn't as prolific as some manga artists, but he's built a solid canon, of which I've read The Girl on the Shore and Solanin, along with the collection I'm reviewing.  The art is very detailed, and it's better than most manga artists' work.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Titan #3

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Titan, Issue #3 is in three parts, like the first two issues.  The first part is a graphic love scene between Mngr Joao and Wrkr Phoebe.  Their relationship began at the end of Issue #2, where Joao makes a deal to take Phoebe with her when he leaves Titan in exchange for her helping him implement new plans to get the plant on Titan running at a better efficiency.  The second part is them just hanging out.  Joao talks technology, which is pretty interesting.  In particular, he has an "i" in his brain, with which he can watch and record video, listen to music, and do a whole bunch of other things.  The third part is a strike.

The rendering is again bichromatic, this time black, red, and white.  The setting and the mood are absolutely fascinating.  I'm of course a staunch union supporter, having worked in a union myself, but I can't help but see Joao's side of things.  It's a very good comic, and I'm looking forward to Issue #4 coming out this fall.  Science-fiction and comics go hand-in-hand.  They have since the early days of Alex Raymond and Flash Gordon, the first two volumes of which are among many in my collection of early science-fiction comics, both newspaper and magazine-format.

Weavers #5

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Weavers, Issue #5 starts out with Sid Thyme interrogating a car thief, a car thief that turns out to be an old junkie friend of his from before Sid got his bug.  Sid is trying to find out who killed the Boss's sister, who was the host of his bug before she got killed, possibly by one of the Spiders.  There's a short foray into Sid's earlier life, and then there's a rampage.  And then, the shocking twist that I didn't see coming.  And another.

Beautiful comic.  That's all I'll say.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Black Monday Murders #1

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The Black Monday Murders, Issue #1 is a double issue, starting the new series by Jonathan Hickman on Image Comics.  The artwork is by Tomm Coker, the coloring by Michael Garland, and the lettering by Rus Wooton, all people who have worked with Hickman in the past.  The story starts out in 1929, on Black Thursday.  At the heart of it all is the fictional Caina Investment Bank, established in 1957.  Its board members deal in black magic, and there has been a murder.  Theodore Dumas is a Detective First Grade in the New York Police Department.  He's working at a desk following an incident where he shot a woman repeatedly, a woman who happened to be a serial killer.  

This is a great title because it's a new idea.  Sure, the police story with supernatural tendencies has been around as long as there have been police, but this brings in high finance and macroeconomics, rich people, powerful people.  International mergers.  Private airplanes.  Dark imagery.  I can get over the similarities between Dumas and Fox Mulder and all the others.  You have to have a talented detective as the foil for the evil conglomerate.  I'll buy Issue #2 this Wednesday.  

Titan #2

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Titan, Issue #2 continues the story of Mngr Joao and Wrkr Phoebe.  They're an interesting pair.  She's nine feet tall, and he's normal height.  Some of the titans are 12 feet tall.  Phoebe is a former mixer, short for "mixed martial arts," I presume.  Joao comes from a strict family in Brazil.  He's on the moon of Titan to make sure that the moon base doesn't get shut down.  To do that, he has to bring about changes, changes that the Wrkrs aren't going to be too keen on.  In addition to the 50,000 titans on Titan, there are almost 600 humans, mostly working security.

The titans aren't slaves, per se.  In some ways, their situation is worse.  They can't leave Titan without a job on one of the other low-gravity moons, asteroids and dwarf planets in the solar system.  They can't go to Earth, or they'd die in the harsher gravity.  They need those jobs, and if Joao doesn't restructure the workers, they'll possibly even face starvation.

I have Issue #3, but I decided to review the two separately.  Some titles run together a little more easily.  Titan only comes out once a year on Study Group Comics.  The artwork is bichromatic, but black and blue this time, with a full-color cover.  I love Phoebe.  She has freckles.  When do you ever see a comic character with freckles?  There are plenty of us out there, you know.  Anyway, thanks to Francois Vigneault for creating such a wonderful comic; I'll continue to read.

Deadpool V Gambit #3 and #4

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Deadpool V Gambit: The "V" Is for "Vs," Issue #3 and Issue #4 I'm finally getting around to reading, and by the end of this blog, I'll decide if I'll continue reading it.  Deadpool and Gambit are superheroes of a sort, but con men at heart, and this title is about them running a con.  It's actually a little confusing because at the end of Issue #3, the man they're running the con on becomes their friend.  Issue #4 starts off with a mutant going by the name Kim Il Sung getting his hands cut off by Wolverine's daughter.  And later, Deadpool and Gambit pull a con on him.

Issue #4 is mostly about Kim Il Sung, and I liked it a lot more than Issue #3.  Maybe I'm just waking up.  Somehow, I fell asleep at 7:00 PM and woke up just after 3:00 AM.  I figured it was eight hours of sleep, so I got up and drank an energy drink or two.  While Issue #3 failed to permeate my sleep-addled brain, Issue #4 was a lot of fun.  The only problem?  Not much Deadpool or Gambit.  I didn't mind that terribly much, and I'll pick up Issue #5 in two days, which will end the arc.  I don't think that the series will continue after that.  It was only designed as a miniseries, and five issues make up the first book, which is out in stores this November.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weavers #4

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Weavers, Issue #4 begins with the attempted suicide of the boss's mistress.  Fortunately for her, Sid Thyme shows up.  It's one of those things where the girl doesn't care enough about her life to stay away from the risk of death, but where she knows enough to do it when the guy she likes (Sid Thyme) might be there to save her.  Fortunately for both of them, Frankie, the boss's daughter, is around to help out.  Now they have to decide what to do with her.  And then there's still the mystery of the boss's sister and her untimely demise.

I definitely like Weavers more than I liked Si Spurrier's other recent series, Cry Havoc.  Weavers is on Boom! Studios instead of Image, and while I don't read as many Boom! Studios titles as I do Image, it's a solid outfit.  I do love my independent rags, but outside of the Big Two, there are some damn good comics.  Artist Dylan Burnett and Colorist Triona Farrell are also a highlight.  I particularly love the greens and the reds of the spiders.  This title has beautiful contrast, and everything seems to fit into place.  I really wish more people would read it.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Devolution #5

Devolution, Issue #5 concludes the mini-series.  It's been in the dark bowels of my to-read pile since the end of last semester, when I was too busy to read for fun very much.  It's a neat little story, though.  Plagued by Islamic terrorism, the United States develops the DVO-8 bomb that cures people of the belief in God, but it goes terribly wrong.  The bomb creates the "devolution" virus that causes every creature on the planet to devolve into giant, scary monsters, all but a few who have been inoculated.  Raja, the daughter of one of the creators of the bomb, is one of those chosen few, and she must fight her way to San Francisco, where she can reverse the devolution virus.

There are a couple of nice themes touched upon in this series, and this issue.  In particular, I like the environmentalist argument that humans are destroying the Earth.  Also, one character puts forth the argument that evolution favors the selfish.  This isn't necessarily something someone with a science background would agree with, but it fits the character.  I do like how this series resolved, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.  If you haven't followed the series, you can buy the trade paperback, which came out a few weeks ago.

Mockingbird #7

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Mockingbird, Issue #7 is coming off a great sixth issue, where Barbara Morse destroyed a serum that would have cured her of the mysterious plague which she was infected with, along with being given the Super Soldier Serum and the Infinity Formula.  The plague has the unfortunate side effects of causing hallucinations and creating zombies, but Mockingbird hasn't felt better in her life.  Issue #7 sees her on a cruise ship, the Diamond Porpoise, where a passenger has been murdered, a passenger with evidence relating to the Hawkeye trial.  So you probably know by now that Bobbi Morse is Hawkeye's ex-wife, so she has an agenda.  She still has feelings for him.  He's even appeared in her comic.

This is another excellent issue, a mystery, tying into Civil War II, Issue #3, where Cliff Barton/Hawkeye kills Bruce Banner, and there's a trial.  Like usual, it's more than that, although while I do think that the twist in the end furthers the story, it does seem like one twist too many.  In 1991, I went to see the film Oscar, starring Sylvester Stallone, with a pair of friends.  The briefcase with the money in it got switched one too many times for our liking, and we howled out in protest.  This isn't that bad, though.  In fact, it's great.  I can't wait for the next issue.

Old Man Logan #11

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Old Man Logan, Issue #11 continues the "Last Ronin" arc, which takes place in Japan.  In the previous arc, Old Man Logan battles Lady Deathstrike, and he follows her to Japan, where he comes across the Silent Order, which he had met up with in his earlier life.  Now, the Silent Order is at full strength, and to defeat them, he must team up with the woman who tried so hard to mess up his life, Lady Deathstrike.

I like where Old Man Logan is going.  The creators are focusing on four-issue stories rather than the mythology of why Old Man Logan is in the present.  I'm sure that'll come up later, but for now, they're on a hell of a run.  I picked up this comic because it's Jeff Lemire, but I quickly became fans of the artists.  Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo have drawn and colored this comic for a year without break.  And VC's Cory Petit is doing a great job of the lettering, breaking up the text with just enough bolds and italics to make it stand out.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Spider-Man #8

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Spider-Man, Issue #8 starts off where Issue #7 left off, with Spider-Man (Miles Morales) in full suit being confronted by Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.  They know his secret identity, and they know who knows his secret identity.  Then they hit him with the news: it wasn't hard to figure out, and Miles's grandmother hired Jones.  Once that awkward confrontation is over, Civil War II is up next.  An incident from Civil War II, Issue #3 is replayed from Spider-Man's point of view.

Both halves of the comic were good stuff.  I particularly like the take on Civil War II, and how the story is growing.  I'm not a huge fan of crossover events, and let's face it.  The original Civil War was readable, but it wasn't great.  This is great.  I like how Nova, Spider-Man, and Ms. Marvel all commiserate.  Ms. Marvel thinks Captain Marvel is cool, but they all hate the situation.  Basically, there are two very good stories working at once.

Green Lanterns #6

Green Lanterns, Issue #6 is the sixth issue in the "Rage Planet" arc.  I believe Green Lanterns: Rebirth, Issue #1, along with Green Lanterns, Issue #1 through Issue #5 are collected in the first trade paperback,although the story seems to resolve in this issue, meaning that the projected issues to be collected are wrong.  Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are the only people who can stop the Red Lanterns from creating a Red Dawn on Earth.  The Justice League is defeated, and Jessica Cruz can't even make a construct with her ring.

One of the many things I like about this comic is how it shows the characters' thoughts as well as their words.  These are often at conflict.  Simon Baz's narration is differently lettered than Jessica Cruz's, and in the coda on Ysmault, Bleez and Atrocitus have a conversation where Bleez is hiding her experience escaping from rage, and Atrocitus could never know about it, or else he'd kill her.

The Force Awakens #4

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Issue #4 is good fun.  It covers the movie from when Rey finds Luke and Anakin Skywalker's old lightsaber on Takodana to when Rey is captured by Kylo Ren.  The highlight is Rey's vision when she touches the lightsaber, which includes images of Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda.  I've only seen the movie twice, but I don't remember them being in the vision, so it was kinda' cool.  I also liked the expression on General Hux's face when the weapon is fired.

I don't particularly like the weapon.  It's too much like the Death Stars in Episode IV and Episode VI.  I also don't like how firing it once takes out four or five different planets.  Shouldn't they have to take the planets out one by one, after charging the weapon and re-positioning it?  I guess that would've been too time consuming in the movie; it probably wouldn't have worked.  Then why not just take out one planet?

Issue #4 was a quick read, like five or ten minutes.  I generally spend a good portion of my free cash on comics so that I don't have to read things twice, but this is one I think I'll have another go at.  I don't think that the movie, The Force Awakens, is very re-watchable, but somehow, the comic is; it's a good adaptation, and I might go through the entire five- or six-issue series some time in the future.  I do like this series quite a bit, and it was the first title I read this week despite there being a number of other titles I like.  Chuck Wendig gets points for readability.  That's why I read another one of his titles, Hyperion.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Daredevil/The Punisher #4

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Daredevil/The Punisher, Issue #4 ends "Seventh Circle," Chapter One.  It starts out with Sergey Antonov trying to get free from the prisoner convoy to Texas, where he'll surely get the death penalty.  He's also trying to escape the clutches of Frank Castle, the Punisher.  Daredevil, along with Blindspot, is trying to make sure that Antonov makes it to Texas and make sure that the Punisher doesn't assassinate him.  Of course, a monkey wrench is thrown in the work when the Crimson Dynamo, a mercenary wearing Soviet super armor, comes in to help out Antonov.

I was actually surprised after reading this title that it got a T+ rating, for older teens.  Usually, when a Marvel title has Frank Castle out killing people (I won't say who), they slap a "Mature Readers" title on the cover to pump up the sales.  I do think that such ratings are laughable compared to The Humans and a few other truly mature titles.

I do like the series, and I'm not usually this slow in picking up a title with so much good about it.  Charles Soule does the writing, and I'm a big fan of him.  Daredevil?  Oh, yeah.  The Punisher?  Keep going!  I had a rough couple of days, so I'm behind in my comic reading, but this title was on my bookcase for several weeks, and I can't really think of why.  Anyway, good comic.  If you haven't read it yet, look for Daredevil/The Punisher: Seventh Circle to hit stores and on 10/25/16.

Henry & Glen Forever & Ever #1

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Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever, Issue #1 is a title I hastily picked out.  I was buying a new long box for $6.99 at Comickaze in San Diego.  They charge a dollar for all credit card purchases under $10, so I needed to spend another $3.01 to keep from spending an extra $1.00.  Make sense?  I couldn't find Hadrian's Wall, Issue #1, and then I saw some independent comics and grabbed the cheapest one.  Henry & Glenn is kind of like Archie Comics, but with two gothy gay guys who look surprisingly like Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig.  They live together, eat Lemmy-O's Cereal, and get into adventures.

In fact, there are a number of references to music from the 1980s.  Their neighbors, John and Daryl, a pair of Satanists who look like John Hall and Daryl Oats, complain about Glenn's obsession with a pile of bricks in Henry and Glenn's front yard in the first of the three stories.  The series has gone on and on for some time.  This is actually the second issue, the first being Henry & Glen Forever.  Rob Halford has even done an intro to one of the comics.

Henry Rollins is aware of the comic, and he's even signed a few copies.  He takes a "live and let live" philosophy, as anyone who's followed his career knows.  I saw his band in concert in 1991 or 1992, and he put on a hell of a show in the pouring rain.  He says Danzig wouldn't be too keen on it, and I have to agree.  I think most people wouldn't like it if some jerk wrote a comic about them.
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Well, great.  I didn't really need another title to get obsessed with, but Henry & Glenn cracks me up.  I swear, these tiny comics will be the economic death of me.  I have a whole bag of Retrofit comics, and just yesterday, I picked up Issue #2 and Issue #3 of Titan, a mini-comic published by Study Group.  While some Image comics like The Humans (also drawn by Tom Neely) capture the feel of truly independent comics, there's nothing like an underground sensation such as Henry & Glenn.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Descender #14

Descender, Issue #14 is mostly from the viewpoint of Bandit, Andy's and Tim-21's childhood friend, a robotic dog (as seen on the cover).  The issue shows a little bit of Andy's story, of what happened when the Harvesters came, but for the most part, there's very little dialogue.  It mostly takes place on the planet or moon where Andy's mother was working as a miner, but the ending portends of a reunion between Andy and Tim-21.  If you'll recall, the last time we saw Tim-21, he was being assaulted by Tim-22, an attempt at murder, really.

Like usual, Issue #14 is full of Dustin Nguyen's beautiful watercolors.  I hadn't read Descender in some time, and Issue #15 is supposed to come out at the end of September.  It's always a good time to catch up on Jeff Lemire's work.  I like how the artwork shows the rooms and planet-scapes not from Bandit's perspective, but from Bandit's level, as if the "eye" of the art is a foot off the ground.  There are other eyes used on this title, too, such as showing Bandit from various levels depending on who else is in the scene.  Brilliant stuff.

She Wolf #3

Image result for She Wolf #3She Wolf, Spell Number Three: Ancient Incantations begins with a nightmarish scenario in a church basement, where three werewolf-like creatures are chained to the wall, while a pastor leads them in prayer.  Is it real or is it a nightmare?  Gabby then receive a vision of how the first werewolf was created, and how the curse was passed down from generation to generation, down to her.  She learns about how the Devil himself was summoned by an enchanter - her ancestor and a citizen of the Roman Empire - and how that enchanter became the "dog" of the Devil due to a tiny flaw in his circle.

Issue #4 comes out September 21, and that will conclude Season One.  While I do have trouble keeping up with all the various comics I read, She Wolf is a title that I'll hold on to.  I've filled up an entire long box with comics over the past year, and I'm ready to start a new long box.  Here are a few reasons I like this title:

  • Werewolves are overdone, and it's refreshing to see a werewolf story done in a new light.
  • The panel with Gabby's mom doing the dishes reminds me of R. Crumb.
  • The coloring is perhaps the highlight of the series, especially the yellow moonlight.
  • I love the pin-ups at the end of the comic.  I'm using part of one as my avatar on a forum.
  • The hair on the various creatures is so simply done yet so powerful.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Spider-Man/Deadpool #8

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Spider-Man/Deadpool, Issue #8 resumes the "Isn't it Bromantic?" story, which so far has featured Spider-Man and Deadpool hanging out and being superheroes together all while Deadpool is secretly targeting Spider-Man's boss, Peter Parker.  Deadpool obviously doesn't know that Spider-Man and Peter Parker are one in the same.  Deadpool kills Spider-Man only to bring him back to life.  Now, they're both after the guy who hired Deadpool to kill Peter Parker.

I have mixed feelings about this issue.  I like the story, and I like a lot about it, but I had a little trouble following what was going on.  I mean, I do read a lot of comics, but I kept thinking that I'd missed an issue somewhere along the line, and I don't think I did.  I did enjoy the two or three filler issues, the last one quite a lot, but they separated this issue from the rest of the "Isn't it Bromantic?" story.

Saga #37

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Saga, Issue #37 begins the seventh arc.  I don't know how many arcs there are going to be.  Y - The Last Man had 10 arcs or 60 issues, and if Saga lasts as long, it could be running until 2018 or later.  So, Hazel is reunited with Marko and Alana, and Alana is pregnant with their second child.  I'm not quite sure how much time has passed in the Saga-verse, but Hazel is about half the height of her parents, five years old, according to the story.  Sophie has grown, as well.  She's a bit older, she's wearing glasses, and she's still with Gwendolyn and the Lying Cat.

This title was out two or three weeks before I got to it.  To save money, I've subscribed to a few titles straight from Image.  Well, I don't really save that much money, more like I had money a couple of summers ago, and I wanted to ensure that I could read my four favorite titles - Saga, Velvet, Lazarus, and Southern Bastards - for the indefinite future, ordering 12 issues of each.  But I do love this title.  I'm wearing a Saga tee shirt as I write this, but it's most likely pirated, as Red Bubble is known for not paying for the artwork it prints.

What makes Saga great is its characterization.  Long-running titles from One Piece to In Search of Lost Time have made their readers fawn over returning and new characters.  It's a lot different from, say, Isaac Asimov's original Foundation series in that each new situation had new characters.  Only later, as Asimov expanded the Foundation - Robot - Empire - universe into over a dozen books over nearly 40 years that he began reintroducing old characters.  Saga is famous for bringing back stars of its earlier arcs; some of them I actually forget about and have to look up, and some I'd never forget.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Star Trek #59 and #60

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Star Trek, Issue #59 and #60 end the five-year mission with a two-issue arc, "Connection."  The Original Series universe and the Abrahmsverse collide when they each encounter an anomaly in space in their respective universes.  So, a James T. Kirk looking like William Shatner appears in the universe where we're used to seeing James T. Kirk looking like Chris Pine.  Storylines intermingle in this lighthearted adventure in space that ends as so many of the Original Series episodes does (spoiler alert), with them simply configuring a photon torpedo to save the day.

Image result for star trek issue 60I had actually hoped that this story would be fixed by configuring the tricorders to set the universe right, but shooting the Federation's most powerful weapon at a problem and that problem going away is so 1960s.  And of course, it has been said that the neo-liberalism of James T. Kirk (looking like William Shatner) foretold the era of the 1990s to the present, when bombing people with remote-controlled airplanes is the solution to so many of our problems.

Call me crazy, but I don't think we could've had a president of the United States like Jimmy Carter without Star Trek.  Imagine four entire years - a Pax Americana - where no soldiers killed supposed enemies on foreign or domestic soil.  More or less, of course.  Jimmy Carter didn't get the C.I.A. shut down or anything.  And, alas, it wasn't permanent.

Friday, September 9, 2016

How to Listen to Proust

Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time has been an imposing treasure of French literature for 100 years.  Clocking in at 5400 pages, it is published in seven volumes:

  • Swann's Way
  • Within a Budding Grove
  • The Guermantes Way
  • Sodom and Gomorrah
  • The Captive
  • The Fugitive
  • Time Regained
So, let's start with Swann's Way.  You can always read it, but if you could read it either the original C.K. Scott Moncrieff translation (which this blog entry will focus on), the 1981 Terence Kilmartin revision or the popular 1992 Modern Library re-revision by D.J. Enright.  The C.K. Scott Moncrieff translation was realized between 1922 and 1930, so it is out of copyright and therefore the cheapest solution.  Moreover, all of the audiobook renditions are of the Scott Moncrieff translation.  

There are two main audiobook versions of Swann's Way, one read by the ever-popular George Guidall and one by Neville Jason.  I read the George Guidall version in hopes of him finishing the series, but that, unfortunately, shall not come to pass, most likely, and I continued the series read by Neville Jason.  Both audiobooks are available for less than $5.  While the list price of both books is around $20, you can buy the Neville Jason version for $2.99 if you buy the Kindle version as well for $0.99, making the total purchase $3.98.  Similarly, the George Guidall version is $4.99, and you don't even have to buy the Kindle version.  

Within a Budding Grove recorded by Neville Jason is available for $2.99.  If you want to see if you're a Proustian, go ahead and buy those two books, but I have to warn you, the remainder aren't cheap, and it's tricky to buy them.  The Guermantes Way by Jason is $31.84, but you can buy it with one credit, which costs $14 to $21.  Sodom and Gomorrah by Jason is also available for one credit.  

Then it gets tricky.  Neville Jason recorded books V through VII in 2012, but due to copyright issues, the three volumes are not available in America.  Here's what you have to do: 
  • Go to eBay.
  • Buy The Captive, unabridged (16 CDs) for around $55.
  • Buy The Fugitive, unabridged for around $30.
  • Buy Time Regained, unabridged for around $30.
Note: Even reputable sellers are known to sell pirated discs.  After I finished writing this, I became aware that I had spent $55 on an illicit copy of The Captive.  Worse yet, the 15th disc was blank.  I requested a full refund. Still here?  Congratulations!  You've spent $150 for about 150 hours of Proust.  The last three volumes have to be imported from England; that's why they're so expensive.  Pro hint: don't buy from American sellers. Now, let's figure out how to get The Captive on your phone.  
  • Download the free program Free Rip MP3 Converter Basic.
  • Install Free Rip MP3 Converter Basic.
Now, normally, when you rip a CD to MP3 format using Free Rip MP3 Converter Basic, there will be a database of the different tracks, so there's not much trouble in ripping the CDs.  With audiobooks, I have found, it isn't so easy.  
  • Insert The Captive, CD1 into your computer's CD/DVD/BluRay drive (if you don't have one, you can buy a USB CD/DVD drive off Amazon for $40 or less).
  • Open Free Rip MP3 Converter Basic.
  • On the right side of your screen, click on "CD info."
  • From here, you can rename the artist as "Marcel Proust."
  • Rename the album as "The Captive, CD1."
  • Rename the album year as "2012."
  • Rename the genre as "Audiobook."
  • On the left side of your screen, rename "Track 1" as "1-1."
  • Rename "Track 2" as "1-2."
  • Rename "Track 3" through "Track 8" as "1-3" through "1-8."
  • Click "Rip Disc."
  • Insert The Captive, CD2 into your computer's CD drive.
  • Rename the information and tracks as before, but rename the album "The Captive, CD2;" "Track 1" as "2-1;" and so forth.  
This will take some time, but you're a Proustian, aren't you?  The good news is that you might not have to rename all those tracks, should Free Rip Converter Basic upload my work.  The reason for all this renaming is so that once you get The Captive on your phone, your phone will see a nice, ordered set of music and play it in order.  Now, to get it on your phone (this is instructions for how to get it on an iPhone; for others see the many other sites dedicated to those phones):
  • Download iTunes, if you haven't done so before.  
  • Go to Desktop>Marcel Proust.
  • Plug in your iPhone.
  • Click on "Device." 
  • Click on "Music."
  • Select all tracks (there'll be over 100 of them).
  • Drag them into the "Music" folder in iTunes.
You didn't drag them into "Audiobooks" because Free Rip Converter Basic will tag them as music files.  I don't know how to tag them as audiobooks, and this is good enough for me.  
For information on the Swann's Way Graphic Novel, click here.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #6

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Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Issue #6 concludes Book I.  Poe Dameron is the leader of Black Squadron, a squadron of X-Wing pilots dedicated to "black" ops, meaning operations not officially licensed by the New Republic.  Not all of the politics of the Star Wars universe/galaxy are mapped out to the public so far, but there are three main players in the galaxy where Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens takes place: The First Order, the New Republic, and the Rebellion.  Poe Dameron and Black Squadron are in Megalox Beta, a prison planet, to recover information on the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker from Grakkus the Hutt.  Unfortunately, so is Agent Terex.  The deal?  Grakkus the Hutt will give his information to whoever breaks him out of this prison, where he has resided since the second arc of Jason Aaron's Star Wars, which takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

I like the reference to "slicing," which is the term for "hacking" used in Timothy Zahn's Empire Trilogy.  I know Soule has used terminology and characters from the Zahn-verse before, but I'm always appreciative when he does.  I definitely am a fan of this series, though.  It'll be until 10/26/16 before we see a new issue of Poe Dameron - starting Book II - but that's only six weeks, so I shouldn't complain.  Great stuff, as always.  If you haven't followed the comic, buy the trade paperback, which comes out 12/06/16, most likely containing the first six issues.

The Woods #25

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The Woods, Issue #25 begins the third and final year.  The Woods was originally scheduled to go 24 issues, but the creators graciously decided to go to 36 issues instead.  I'm going to talk about what's been going on with this comic over the past 24 issues, so if you've only read 8 issues, don't get angry if I spoil Issue #9.  Two years earlier, Bay Point High School disappeared off the Earth, appearing on an alien moon.  It was the largest of many such disappearances throughout history.  The students and teachers built a new life on this moon, but there have been problems: the Hordes, local predators, local drugs, and now... a ghost, it appears.  Issue #25 opens up in Milwaukee, on Earth.  Dr. Jacobs, Karen's dentist mother, rejects government theories of a gas explosion that destroyed the school.

This is a very fun title for reasons I've covered in my various reviews of the first 24 issues.  The Woods, Vol. 1, containing Issue #1 through Issue #4 is out of print on right now, but you can buy the first 20-something issues in digital format for $1.99 each on (recent issues are at the list price of $3.99).  With Universal Cable Productions opting this series for television, The Woods is going to be more popular than ever, should the television series get made.  Sorry to be a Debby Downer, but I've heard so many comics and books set to become major movies and major TV shows.  Just the fact that the series was optioned a year ago means that James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas are getting paid, which I'm all for.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Titan #1

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Titan, Part 1 on Study Group Comic Books is a sci-fi tale of the colonization of one of Saturn's moons by a large, genetically engineered race of humans who can't go to Earth because they're designed to live on the lower gravity of the asteroids, planetoids, and moons.  They are called titans, and the moon they work on is Titan.  Mngr Joao da Silva comes to inspect the moon-based operation, but he carries a deadly secret.  The nearly 50,000 titans living and working on Titan may be out of a job.

The story and art are by Francois Vigneault, who has a Patreon account where you can pledge money to him on a monthly basis.  Patreon is a neat way to fund the arts and artists you love.  You simply select your giving level - from $1 to $10 a month or more - and enter a credit card.  I'm interested in this because my main gig (aside from the millions of dollars I make writing these reviews) is fundraising for nonprofits.  Patreon is geared more toward art-based fundraising, and right now, I'm not working with anyone in that field.

You can read the comic itself on, in part, and on that page, you can find links to buy this comic in its complete form.  The artwork is bichromatic, in black ink with orange tones, and the lettering is crisp, consistent, and legible.  I love independent comics, and Titan is one of the reasons why.  It has a lot of parallels with a novel series I've been working on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Nisekoi 17

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Nisekoi: False Love, Volume 17: Mistress is another collection of amusing stories, like the first 16 volumes.  Raku and his crush spend the night together at Kosaki's aunt's spa.  The head of the Char Sui Syndicate, Yui, is in love with Raku, like before, but now her mentor, Night, connives to get them to get married.  Night breaks down the wall separating their room and replaces all of Yui's underwear with fancy, lace panties.  Then Raku and his fake girlfriend, Chitoge, surreptitiously spend the night together because Chitoge is afraid of the storm.  And there's more.

I've been reading more manga recently, so it's no surprise that I read Nisekoi 17 the day it came out in English.  There are no overarching stories, just situations.  Raku and Chitoge's eponymous false relationship doesn't grow; it doesn't change.  They don't change.  Nothing really changes, including the fact that I've been reading three or four tankoban volumes of Nisekoi a year for some time.  The volumes are usually $4.49 when they come out, so it's not like I'm spending even $20 a year on this title.  It's just good, plain, mindless fun.

Monday, September 5, 2016

What a Wonderful World! Volume One

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What a Wonderful World! Volume One is a collection of interrelated stories written and drawn by Inio Asano, who is absolutely lovely at creating manga.  Music is a consistent theme, as the nine stories are called "Track 1," Track 2," etc... Asano writes about young people, like always, ranging from middle-school age to young adulthood.  Suicide is a repetitive motif in these stories, and the mood is dark.  A raven shinigami.  A ronin, meaning not a masterless samurai but a student who failed entrance exams to college and must go to cram school for another year.  And most of all women.

Asano's work has a lot of character.  It reminds me a lot of Naoki Urasawa.  Both artists have a unique style.  I could open up to a random page of an unmarked book of either Urasawa or Asano and immediately recognize whose work it is.  But Asano's strength is his portrayal of women, sometimes quirky, sometimes frustrated, sometimes successful, sometimes not.  In this volume, he portrays shocking violence with the same ease as he portrays bored young women.  I've ordered Volume Two already.

Black Butler XIII

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Black Butler XIII continues the "Aurora Society" arc.  Ciel and Sebastian, along with their friends, the Milford family, are on the Campania, a magnificent ocean liner that has struck an iceberg.  Elizabeth Milford, Ciel's betrothed, has always promised to look weak and dumb in front of Ciel, but with zombies attacking them aboard a doomed ship, she has to protect her future husband.  There is a lovely flashback to when Lizzie was slightly younger, right after Ciel survives the attack on the Phantomhive household.  She's a year older than Ciel, and quite taller than him, much to her chagrin.

I just love this series.  I put off reading Black Butler XIII a little because I just don't like zombies very much, but the two flashbacks are outstanding, one at the beginning of the book featuring Lizzie, and one at the end of the book, about Sebastian's pact with Ciel and their first days together.  This is really a title you cannot miss, and I am glad I had the foresight to buy Black Butler XIV a week or so ago.  The "beginnings" arc-within-an-arc is my favorite in some time.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

East of West #28 and #29

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East of West, Issue #28 and Issue #29 I'm reviewing as one because I've gotten behind in my reviews.  East of West is a difficult title to read at times because of its sprawling cast and its shifting allegiances, so look at this review as more of a guide to reading East of West than a simple reading of spoilers (which I try to avoid) and a few nods to the creators.  The best way to read East of West is issue-by-issue, even if you're reading the trade paperbacks.  Look for overall arcs, but don't expect a volume of East of West to read like a book.

It is End Times.  Issue #28 is Death looking for his son, but he's not the only one.  Heck, there's so much going on in this issue that I can't really recap it.  There's a slight mistake in the discussion of nucleosynthesis on page 22.  For the correct information, read here.  Issue #29 continues directly from Issue #28 and ends Year Two of the Apocalypse.  I suppose there is going to be a break before Issue #30.  I do love this title and all its creators, down to my favorite letterer, Rus Wooton.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Wandering Island, Vol. 1

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Wandering Island, Volume 1 is a beautifully drawn, stand-alone-ish manga volume by Kenji Tsuruta.  From what I've read, it was published in Japanese in 2011, and a second volume has yet to be forthcoming.  It was published a week ago in North America.  Mikura Amelia is the scantily-clad heroine who just lost her grandfather.  With her grandfather, she ran a delivery service among the many small islands in the Japanese archipelago.  After her grandfather dies, she finds out that he had been searching for a floating island - Electric Island - for 30 years.  Now she takes up the hunt.

Just as Mikura is beautiful yet flawed, so is this book (spoilers coming).  Don't get me wrong; this is among the best artwork I've ever seen in manga.  I'm very happy with this purchase.  The detail of everything from the airplanes to the island to the junk in Mikura's houses is, to put it in a word, art.  I love everything about it except for the fact that there's only one of them.  It's almost unthinkable to me to have a series like this where Mikura doesn't step foot on Electric Island.  It needs a Volume 2.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Gods Lie

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The Gods Lie is a coming-of-age manga story about Natsuru Nanao, an 11-year-old boy obsessed with soccer who befriends a tall girl in his class, Rio Suzumura.  Rio lives alone with her younger brother in a ramshackle old house.  They fend for themselves and hide a terrible secret.  It's summer.  Rio ditches a three-day soccer camp to stay at the Suzumura house.  Did I mention there was a cat?  And a beetle.

I loved this little story; it's about a 40-minute read.  Unlike most manga, which last for thousands or even tens of thousands of pages, The Gods Lie clocks in at 216 pages in five chapters.  This is the type of book you just want to lend to someone, to share with other people.  I was watching my nephews this morning, and I always like to read in front of them, to show that even their marginally-cool uncle likes to read.  I left this book for my sister to read.  Anyway, this book sticks with you.

Hyperion #6

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Hyperion, Issue #6 ends the first arc, as the first six issues (Amazon lists 1-5) are collected in Hyperion, Volume 1: Daddy Issues.  At the end of Issue #5, Hyperion is confronted by Iron Man.  In this issue, they fight.  Iron Man wants to take Hyperion into justice for killing Namor.  Hyperion, on the other hand, says that he brought justice to Namor.  He also says that he can't go because he has to stay and protect Doll from her father (Junior) and the rest of the circus, which is coming in force.

I've grown to appreciate Chuck Wendig's work on this title and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Nick Virella and Marc Laming are the artists, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. is the colorist.  VC's Joe Caramanga does the lettering, and Elizabeth Torque does the cover, the latter of which I particularly like.  The introduction of Iron Man is always a plus, but the reason for Hyperion running off and becoming a truck driver might be that he feels bad about killing Namor.  Namor is the Sub-Mariner, and he is the first mutant published by Marvel, in 1939.  He's sometimes a good guy and sometimes a bad guy.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Spider-Man #7

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Spider-Man, Issue #7 starts out with Miles Morales having a nightmare about the Hulk (Civil War II spoilers ahead).  This concerns Civil War II, Issue #3, where the inhuman Ulysses has a vision of the Hulk killing all of them, a vision that they all could experience.  Also in bed are Morales's parents.  They're discussing an incident between the mother and the investigator her mother hired, Jessica Jones, the mutant.

This is an important issue, perhaps even a starting off point if you're caught up with Civil War II and want to read more about it.  I'd recommend starting off with Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Volume 1, which collects the first five issues of this comic.  It comes out in trade paperback on September 20, so mark your calendars and buy Issue #6 and this issue to catch up.  This is one of the top-selling comics on the Marvel line and rightly so.  For me, Spider-Man in all his different forms works best as a kid.