Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1, which was really good ("There will be no eating of teammates."), and G.I. Joe: Cobra #1-3. People who know me know that I don't just pick up and read a G.I. Joe comic. I've never been into them, and I was never even into the toys, really. But the guys on iFanboy really recommended this book, saying it doesn't feel like a Joe book at all. And it really doesn't. It's a lot more like a Queen and Country story. One of the guys (in the Hawaiian shirt) goes undercover, and it's an extremely good spy story so far. Cobra nor G.I. Joe (I believe) have never been mentioned in this book, but some of the characters have. VERY highly recommended!

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Grendel Tales: Devil Worship: This one came out way back in 1990 as a part of a series of other writers and artists taking on the world of Grendel. This story takes place on a college campus in the near-future (now the past, presumably) where a group of students are ardent Grendel worshipers. It is written by Steven T. Seagle and drawn by Ho Che Anderson. It was a great, violent take on the character's influence on the world around him. I bought the Grendel Tales Omnibus Vol. 1 (this summer?) for the Paul Grist and the Edvin Biukovic/Darko Macan stories, but this first story was a great one with some gorgeous artwork. Matt Wagner can draw top-notch talent to work with his material, and I can't wait to dig further into this volume.

Lazaretto #4: Man, this book is so weird and horrific. I always say this, but it reminds me a lot of a Alex de Campi story. But it's not; it was written by Clay McLeod Chapman with art by Jey Levang. It's the continuing story of the Lord of the Flies story taking place in a co-ed dorm during the very first weekend of college. Because of the odd timing of the setting, the characters haven't even had a chance to get to know each other yet, so it's just like a cluster of strangers. Add to that the fact that they are all in quarantine because of a degenerative/zombie/flesh-eating virus. It's almost like this book is trying to do too much without the proper gear, but I will stick around for the last issue in a month.

Redlands #5: Man, the previous issue/s of this story read so fast, but this one was horrifyingly (not in a bad way) slower. It's the story of a group of witches who live in the South. In this one, a truck driver picks up a girl who turns out not to be what he expected, and a back story of pimp who strong-arms his way when he can--nearly always. As good (and scary) as the main story was, the most harrowing part was the diary entries in the end, which tell the story of a girl who is sold into sex slavery at a young age. You want so badly for this girl to just catch a break, and in the end, you get a glimpse of hope. But still, her life is forever changed.

Man, between the books I've read over the last couple days, I need a picker-upper!

Finally read digitally - JSA The Golden Age

Well written, well drawn interesting spin on an Elseworlds Justice Society.

Recommended

I never really understood what it was that made this mini-series an Elseworlds, especially at the time. Still, it was my introduction to James Robinson, and man did he ever deliver.

Richard Mantle said:

Finally read digitally - JSA The Golden Age

Well written, well drawn interesting spin on an Elseworlds Justice Society.

Recommended

Read Issue #2 yesterday. The two young cooks--actually one is a chef, and don't you forget it --run into some difficulty in their way to the Capital. Ends in a tense cliffhanger.

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Umami
Ongoing series by Ken Niimura

Recently read the first issue of the latest Panel Syndicate series. I remember Niimura's cartooning from the Image series I Kill Giants he did with writer Joe Kelly. He has a very loose style, reminiscent of manga. The series is in black and white, and is the only Panel Syndicate series so far that uses conventional portrait oriented pages, like a standard comic book (the rest use a horizontal landscape format). Umami is about the adventures of two cooks in a sort of medieval kingdom. Which makes it a cartoon cooking fantasy story, I guess! The first installment is a satisfying 46-page chunk of story. And it's "name your price," so you can try it out for free if you want.

This morning I read the collected edition of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank from Black Mask. It's by Matthew Rosenberg with art by Tyler Boss. The art was very comfortable for someone used to the work of David Aja, Steve Lieber, or artists of that ilk. As for the writing, it was a solid effort, but not one that I loved.

It's about a girl and her three friends (all sixth grade-ish) who come to the point where they find it necessary to rob a bank to protect the honor of the girl's father.

It's very artfully done, but artful in a way that is very aware of its artfulness, which quickly became annoying to me. Matthew Rosenberg is clearly a fan of Wes Anderson movies, and instead of allowing those movies to inspire him, he simply copies them with the new chapter templates.

Even when I read the voices of the characters in more comedic voices in my mind, it didn't really help. I read the main character in the voice of Tina Belcher (Bob's Burgers), the fat character in the voice of Gene Belcher, the tall friend in the voice of Jimmy Jr., and the quiet friend in the voice of the autistic man from American Splendor. It did make it easier to read, but most of the writing just came off as self-aware-ly cutesy.

Plus, the story takes an extremely dark turn toward the end, and there is no connective tissue between that dark turn and the resolution many years later.

I had higher hopes for this one based on reviews I'd read, but clearly, your mileage may vary.

THE WALKING DEAD: I’ve finished v11 (#121-132) and have begun v12 (#133-144). I’ve read these before. I think I left off with v13. The most current HC is v14, so soon I’ll be moving on to 24 issues I’ve never read before.

RAGNAROK: I bought the first issue, liked it, decided to tradewait. There have been two HC collections so far, and I’m about midway through the first. Having just read a long run of Jack Kirby Thor, the “Ragnarok” story which ended the previous series, and gearing up for the Simonson run, I must admit this take is pretty interesting. I can almost imagine this is Marvel’s Thor.

DICK TRACY v23: I’m behind on many of my comic strip collections, but ever since it moved into the “Moon Era” I’ve been keeping caught up on Dick Tracy. I have no idea where Chester Gould got his science (it’s crap), but I like the space coupe and the aircars. These stories from 1966-67 are set firmly in the Moon era and feature Bribery (currently featured in modern continuity) and his sister Ugly Christine. I had remembered that, despite the shaky science fiction, the police work in these stories was good. Not in the particular one I’m reading now, though. His “humor” (a cigar smoking cat) is a bit off the wall, too.

LI’L ABNER: I’ve finished the 1951 dailies.

X-MEN FOREVER: X-Men: Legacy has reminded me of how much I miss the X-Men. I decided to go back and re-read the last X-series I read regularly, X-Men Forever. This one is written by Chris Claremont and continues from the end of his 16-year run as if he had never left. The series regular artist is Tom Grummet. It’s out of continuity, officially, but AFAIAC, it’s in. Wolverine is killed in the first issue, and Wolverine has also been “killed” in current continuity, so it kind of fits. There may be some other discrepancies, but I’m not aware of them. Well, maybe one, but I’ll discuss that next time.

Sorry to hear of your disappointment in the series, but thanks for reading it for so I don't have to. I remember when it came out I was interested, but I never did pull the trigger on it. There is always the next time!

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

This morning I read the collected edition of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank from Black Mask. It's by Matthew Rosenberg with art by Tyler Boss. The art was very comfortable for someone used to the work of David Aja, Steve Lieber, or artists of that ilk. As for the writing, it was a solid effort, but not one that I loved.

It's about a girl and her three friends (all sixth grade-ish) who come to the point where they find it necessary to rob a bank to protect the honor of the girl's father.

It's very artfully done, but artful in a way that is very aware of its artfulness, which quickly became annoying to me. Matthew Rosenberg is clearly a fan of Wes Anderson movies, and instead of allowing those movies to inspire him, he simply copies them with the new chapter templates.

Even when I read the voices of the characters in more comedic voices in my mind, it didn't really help. I read the main character in the voice of Tina Belcher (Bob's Burgers), the fat character in the voice of Gene Belcher, the tall friend in the voice of Jimmy Jr., and the quiet friend in the voice of the autistic man from American Splendor. It did make it easier to read, but most of the writing just came off as self-aware-ly cutesy.

Plus, the story takes an extremely dark turn toward the end, and there is no connective tissue between that dark turn and the resolution many years later.

I had higher hopes for this one based on reviews I'd read, but clearly, your mileage may vary.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #150: I bought this one because it features the return of Adam Warlock. It also features a 3-D cover, the first I’ve ever bought. Although I admit the effect looks cool, I generally eschew cover gimmicks of any kind. (I’m a purist that way.) But this time I didn’t have a choice because there was no standard version to choose. The Warlock story was six pages at the beginning and five pages at the end. For this I paid five bucks. If you’re a Guardians of the Galaxy fan, the main story was the last of a four-parter which began in #147, but I didn’t bother to read that and don’t plan to. (This is the last issue of the series.)

For those of you interested in the Warlock piece of it, I think this chapter can be safely skipped, but here’s a summary. Warlock come to awareness in the Gemworld (or I suppose it’s called “Stoneworld” now, since the Infinity Gems have been rechristened the Infinity Stones), a kind of limbo where he spent many years before. A brief, mainly pictorial, recap of his past is provided. He emerges from his cocoon to be greeted by Kang the Conqueror.

I am a big fan of Marvel’s “cosmic” books, especially those written by Jim Starlin. I’ve read several other non-Starlin cosmic books and most of them were… well, pretty good actually. But Starlin continues doing his own brand of “cosmic” in a series of OGNs (one trilogy completed, another on the way). In those he demonstrates that he can work within the new paradigm, even though he did not create it himself (not that everything Starlin himself has done has been stellar). I’m looking forward to reading the new Starlin series, but I have also decided to buy this new non-Starlin Infinity thing and see where it goes.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #697: As much as I like this new series my enjoyment is tempered by the rumor I heard that Mark Waid will not be on the title beyond #700.

PHOENIX RESURRECTION #2: I’m enjoying this story so far, but I’ll tell you what yanked me out of the story this issue: the guy mowing Jean’s lawn at 7:30 in the morning. And he had already mowed another lawn in the neighborhood! He was using a push mower and apparently working by himself, so when did he start? 6:00A? Uh, uh… no way. Willing suspension of disbelief is one thing, but even if the neighborhood doesn’t have an HOA there ain’t no way that’s gonna fly.

PLANET OF THE APES URSUS #1: I’m very impressed by the first issue of this six-issue mini. So far, it’s similar to the 2011 novel Conspiracy on the Planet of the Apes in that it starts where the movie does, but then follows Landon’s story rather than Taylor’s. It also incorporates plot elements of a previous comic book mini-series set 10 or so years before the events of the first movie. The art is some of the best I have seen in a POTA comic.

X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #2: I have a strong distaste for comic books that try to be movies or TV shows. I like movies and TV, but I don’t consider either medium inherently superior to comics as an art form. Any comic which takes that tack automatically starts with a strike against it AFAIAC. The reason I mention that here is because, although Grand Design definitely utilizes the strengths of comic book storytelling, it does have something in common with a movie adaptation of a comic book, namely, that it adapts the source material to fit the needs of the story being told.

For example, the alien characters faced by the X-Men in the early days (Lucifer, the Mutant Master of "Factor Three") are all somehow tied to pursuit of the Phoenix force. Issue #2 of Grand Design covers the first 66 issues of the original series. (Issue #1 covered continuity implants, flashbacks and retcons.) Pretty much every issue of the original series is dealt with, some summarized in a panel, some in a page. For those familiar with X-Men continuity, it’s fun to guess why the cartoonist made the choices he did. For example, it makes better storytelling sense that, when Xavier faked his death to concentrate on the impending Z’Nox threat, the entire team was in on the deception, not just Jean Grey. On the other hand, I have no idea why he decided to insert Machine Man (!) into the Magneto/Stranger story.

I am enjoying this series quite a bit and I recommend it to anyone who likes the X-Men, whether familiar with established continuity or not, however I don’t recommend it to anyone who is going to get hung up on the deviations from established continuity.

Wow, I had no idea this miniseries had even started. I am waiting on the trade (hopefully hardcover) on this one. I'm just a fan of Ed Piskor's work, and am really interested to see what he does with this.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #2: I have a strong distaste for comic books that try to be movies or TV shows. I like movies and TV, but I don’t consider either medium inherently superior to comics as an art form. Any comic which takes that tack automatically starts with a strike against it AFAIAC. The reason I mention that here is because, although Grand Design definitely utilizes the strengths of comic book storytelling, it does have something in common with a movie adaptation of a comic book, namely, that it adapts the source material to fit the needs of the story being told.

For example, the alien characters faced by the X-Men in the early days (Lucifer, the Mutant Master of "Factor Three") are all somehow tied to pursuit of the Phoenix force. Issue #2 of Grand Design covers the first 66 issues of the original series. (Issue #1 covered continuity implants, flashbacks and retcons.) Pretty much every issue of the original series is dealt with, some summarized in a panel, some in a page. For those familiar with X-Men continuity, it’s fun to guess why the cartoonist made the choices he did. For example, it makes better storytelling sense that, when Xavier faked his death to concentrate on the impending Z’Nox threat, the entire team was in on the deception, not just Jean Grey. On the other hand, I have no idea why he decided to insert Machine Man (!) into the Magneto/Stranger story.

I am enjoying this series quite a bit and I recommend it to anyone who likes the X-Men, whether familiar with established continuity or not, however I don’t recommend it to anyone who is going to get hung up on the deviations from established continuity.

Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert

On the old board we once did a poll of the Greatest Comic Runs ever, and one of my nominees was Alan Brennert's run on Batman. I was cheating a little bit becuase his Batman stories were spread across several different titles. But man, were they good. Back in the early 80s they really stood out. There was nothong quite like them and I still hold them in high regard to this day. So I was happy to finally get a digital copy of this fantastic collection. Really great stuff that holds up very well in my opinion. And Brennert's introduction is excellent as well.

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