Friday, December 31, 2010

January Pull List

DC

Action Comics #897
Adventure Comics #522
Birds of Prey #8
Detective Comics #873
Flash #9
Knight and Squire #4 (of 6)
Legion of Super-Heroes #9
Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1
Red Robin #19
Steel (one-shot)
Superboy #3
Superman/Batman #80
Teen Titans #91
Weird Worlds #1 (of 6)

(Notice that there's no Batman Inc on the schedule for January. Issue #3 has been delayed until February.)

Vertigo

Northlanders #36
Sweet Tooth #17

Marvel

Astonishing Thor #2 (of 5)
Invincible Iron Man #500
Secret Avengers #9
Thor #619

Icon

Casanova: Gula #1
Superior #4

Dark Horse

Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #2 (of 2)

Image

Halcyon #3
The Infinite Vacation #1
Marineman #2

(Not sure if any issues of Orc Stain and Meta 4 are coming out this month.)

Avatar

Neonomicon #4

Boom

Soldier Zero #4
Starborn #2
Traveler #3

12 Gauge

Magus #2

Five Images

Galactus by J.P. Leon

Superboy by cris-art@DA

Superboy and Krypto by Stanley Lau

Supergirl by Amy Mebberson

Captain Marvel by Michael Avon Oeming

Monday, December 27, 2010

Is It Thursday Yet?

(Books are shipping on Thursday this week, due to the holidays.)

Here are the books I'm getting this week:

Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #1 (of 2) (Dark Horse)

A two-part story with art by Scott Hampton. Sounds good to me. Here's a preview.

Action Comics #896 (DC)

I'm enjoying Paul Cornell's ongoing Lex Luthor story in Action Comics, but it's a bit uneven. The first two issues were great, then we had a bit of a dud with the Deathstroke issue, followed by the ridiculously awesome Grodd issue and the fascinating Death issue, and then another let-down featuring Vandal Savage. If the pattern holds up, this issue featuring the Secret Six should be full of awesome.

Detective Comics #872 (DC)

The new creative team on Detective (Scott Snyder and Jock) knocked it out of the park with their first issue last month. In fact, I loved it so much, I'm considering dropping all other bat titles and just concentrating on this one instead.

Flash #8 (DC)

Like the last issue that shipped earlier this month, this one features Scott Kolins on art, while regular artist Francis Manapul gets a head start on the new story arc that starts next month. This one focuses on Reverse Flash.

Teen Titans #90 (DC)

After the last issue, which I thought was terrible and featured a completely out-of-character Damian Wayne, I decided to drop this title and never again pick up a book by J.T. Krul. Now I'm having second thoughts. I really want to enjoy this. I really do! There's a crossover with Red Robin - another book I'm considering dropping from my pull list - coming up, so I think maybe I'll give it a few more issues. I hate myself for spending money on this, though.

Bulletproof Coffin #6 (of 6) (Image)

Bulletproof Coffin has been one of the best series of the year and it's sure to make my top-10 (which I'll be posting in January). I just can't wait to see how it all wraps up in this final issue.

*

I thought I should point out that the highly anticipated new series written and drawn by David Finch, which was originally supposed to be released on November 24, is finally coming out this week, and I won't be buying it. I personally don't care for David Finch's art at all. I hate his covers for Action Comics, and his interior art in Batman: The Return was just awful. As for his writing talent, I really wouldn't know, since I've never read a word he's written.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Quick Reviews: Secret Avengers, Neonomicon, Traveler, Superior, Superman/Batman, Batman Inc

Secret Avengers #8 

I never seem to have anything to say about this title, but it's pretty solid, in terms of both story and art.

Neonomicon #3

I really wish this book wasn't published by Avatar. Rick Johnston's infantile attempts at hyping it up on Bleeding Cool annoy the hell out of me. It's disgusting that he's using rape as a selling point for this title, while simultaneously denouncing the popularity of rape as a plot device in contemporary super-hero comics. Regardless of what Alan Moore's intentions are with this title, there something really disingenuous about this sensationalistic promotion that relies on shock value while at the same time claiming that there's more going on than just sensationalism.

I realize that none of this actually has anything to do with the quality of the comic book itself, but it does have an effect on my enjoyment of it, because I'm not reading this in a vacuum. As for what it all means and whether or not it's any good, I'm going to continue to reserve judgement until I've seen the conclusion, in the next issue.

The Traveler #2

This second issue is a lot less confusing than the first one was. Plot and characters are starting to fall into place, hinting at a larger mystery that's probably going to to be gradually revealed as the series continues. I like the fast pacing of it and the story, but some of the dialogue really grates me. Especially when the protagonist is speaking out loud about what is happening during the fight scene. "And now I will punch him while slowing down time. Oh, I see that didn't work. In that case, I will try this different approach - speeding up time while kicking him in the face! Yes, that seems to work better." I'm paraphrasing, of course, but it's almost that hackneyed. Is it because the art is so bad that the fights wouldn't make any sense without this kind of exposition? Or is it some kind of self-conscious meta-commentary on comic book conventions and the type of dialogue Stan Lee used to write? I'm not sure.

Superior #3

This is good. I want to write more about it later, but for now I'll just say that I'm really enjoying it and, after the twist on the last page, really looking forward to the next issue.

Superman/Batman #79

I was disappointed that Robot Robin from the future only makes a brief appearance in this, despite being prominently displayed on the cover. But otherwise this was really good. And I love the old-fashioned thought bubbles! I wonder if these are coming back in style. Anyway, conclusion in next month's issue.

Batman, Incorporated #2

Still not convinced. Not that this is a bad issue. Nice art and nothing blatantly wrong with the writing. I'm just not sold on the Batman going international premise at all. Something about it stinks. The American hero going to other countries to show local heroes how it's really done. "My people have to be better than that." What does this all lead to? Some kind of global homogenization of super-heroes? Batman is not just hiring heroes to join his team. Mr. Unknown ceases to exist and is replaced with Batman Japan. It all makes me kind of uncomfortable. I'm giving this a couple more issues, but I think I might drop this one. I think Detective Comics is the only Batman book I'm really interested in at the moment.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Links!

Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter has started posting a series of lengthy interviews with comics creators. (The first one is with Joe Casey, the second with Karl Stevens, and the third with Matt Seneca.) This is apparently a yearly tradition around the holidays. I've only had time to read the first interview, but if the others are as good as that one was, then I've got a lot of great reading ahead of me. And so do you! Here's Joe Casey on Wildstorm:

The loss of Wildstorm and what it meant within the overall DC brand could -- and probably should -- be seen as a cautionary tale. When Wildstorm was making some cutting edge comics, they were vital. They were important. They were alive. They helped make DC a lot cooler than they would be without them. But, as they say... when you snooze, you lose. When Wildstorm stopped being cutting edge, they were instantly a millstone around DC's neck. They brought nothing to the table, creatively. The fact that their videogame tie-in comic was reportedly DC's biggest seller didn't even register, because what does that have to do with Wildstorm as a brand? Now go even wider and consider Warners in general. They just had that shake-up at the highest levels of management. A big-time studio head is basically pushed out, and it's been suggested that it was possibly in part because he couldn't get his shit together when it came to exploiting DC properties in the wider mediaspace, where billions of dollars in profits are at stake. When you don't know what to do with the assets you've got, when it comes across like you're too paralyzed to take action (for whatever reason), it's time to step aside and let the adults take the wheel. Or, in the case of Wildstorm, it's time to be taken back behind the barn and be put out of your misery.
Brutal!

Meanwhile, at Comics Alliance, Laura Hudson interviews Mark Waid, and he's got some things to say about digital comics.

Kelly Thompson at She Has No Head! writes about her 20 favourite female creators of 2010 (part one, part two). And speaking of Kelly Thompson, you should really be listening to her podcast 3 Chicks Review Comics, in which the other two chicks are Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass and Maddy from When Fangirls Attack. These are three of the smartest comics bloggers I read and it's always fun to hear them each bring their own unique perspective on the comics they discuss in the podcast. There are four episodes so far and the podcast is on hiatus until after the holidays, so that should give you enough time to catch up.

Finally, my pal Mike Muller shares his five favourite Eightball covers over at his blog, It's a Bit of a Shame. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is It Wednesday Yet?

Here's stuff I'm considering picking up this week.

Batman Incorporated #2 (DC)

I thought the first issue was all right, although I'm still not 100% sold on this new status quo. But Grant Morrison seems really to have some big plans (as he always does) for it, so I'll give him a chance. Yanick Paquette's art is pretty nice, although the cheesecake in the first issue was a bit intense. Hopefully that gets toned down a bit. But with a cliffhanger involving tentacles at the end of the first issue, I'm not sure what to expect.

Legion of Super-Heroes #8 (DC)

I'm having a hard time catching up on this series. I think it's because I'm simultaneously (and very slowly) making my way through the deluxe hardcover collection of The Great Darkness Saga I recently bought. So I haven't yet read LOSH #7, nor the latest Adventure Comics, which now ties into the same continuity. But I keep buying them because I have faith in Paul Levitz, or something. Which I may end up regretting somewhere down the line.

Superman/Batman #79 (DC)

Superman/Batman is a title that I don't buy religiously, but since the story arcs are usually stand alone and feature different creative teams, I pick it up once in a while when it happens to catch my interest. This issue is the first in a two-parter written by Chris Roberson, set in the 853rd Century, featuring Robin the Toy Wonder, and with a beautiful cover by Fiona Staples, so that's a lot of very good reasons to get it.

Teen Titans: Cold Case #1 (DC)

Art by Sean Murphy is pretty much all you need to convince me here.

Secret Avengers #8 (Marvel)

This continues. I don't really have anything to say about it, but I'm reading it.

Superior #3 (Marvel)

I've enjoyed the first two issues of this mini-series by Mark Millar and Leinil Francis Yu, though I haven't been writing about it yet. I think I'm going to wait until the mini-series ends before reviewing it. But so far the story's been good and the art is phenomenal.

Neonomicon #3 (Avatar)
These issues are coming out painfully slowly. Thank God there are only four issues. I have no idea what to make of the first two installments. I am simultaneously repulsed and fascinated by the depth of depravity that was reached in the final scene of the previous issue, and I can't help but wonder where this could possibly be going next.

The Traveler #2 (Boom)

This is probably the weirdest and most confusing of the three new Stan Lee series from Boom Studios. The first issue was a bit of a mess, I thought. But I decided to give each of these new series a full arc before deciding whether or not I'm going to keep reading them.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Does DC see controversy as more profitable than diversity?

If you've read the DC solicitations for January, then you know there's a Steel one-shot coming up. For all intents and purposes, when it was first announced, this seemed like a somewhat unimportant book, written by DC newcomer Steve Lyons, featuring a character who isn't appearing in any other books these days, and not tying into any bigger event. But it seems now that most of the info in the original solicitation has changed.

Back in November, DC announced an upcoming event called The Reign of Doomsday, which kickstarts with the Steel one-shot and will continue in the pages of Outsiders, JLA, Superboy and beyond. The villain changed from Metallo to Doomsday, and the artist changed from Sean Chen to Ed Benes.

In an interview at Newsarama last week, Lyons explains that he'd originally pitched the story as a stand-alone issue, but that editorial later decided to change the villain and tie it into a larger event. Sean T. Collins at Robot 6 wrote an interesting piece about the interview and the status of the character in the DC Universe.
Steel is one of the most undervalued characters and designs in DC’s pantheon. Iron Man’s powers, Thor’s hammer, Superman’s cape, and an African-American folk hero’s name? That’s pure gold. And seriously, what a great design: The Alex Garner cover to the issue — itself part of DC’s genuinely awesome iconic-cover line-up for the month of January — is practically payoff enough. Plus, in a genre often (and accurately) decried for its lack of strong non-white heroes, John Henry Irons is an armor-clad, hammer-wielding, ‘S’-shield-wearing super-genius whose role in Metropolis’s scientific and business community is basically “the anti-Lex.” Tough to top that.
Okay. But Sean and others have also picked up on the rather ominous way in which Lyons avoids talking about the future of the character after the one-shot. From the interview at Newsarama:
Nrama: Will Steel's role in the story continue into the other issues involved in the story? Or is he pretty much relegated to this one issue?
Lyons: Um. that would be telling, I think.
DC has a long-standing tradition of starting big events by killing off a character, to show how serious they are. (Ugh!) The death of Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) launched Infinite Crisis, the death of Metron launched Final Crisis, and most recently the death of Ryan Choi (Atom) launched the new direction of Titans. So I wouldn't put it past them to pull something like this off again. But considering how much controversy there's been this past year about the whitewashing of the DC Universe and the death of minority characters, could they really be planning to kill yet another one of their increasingly rare non-white heroes?

I realize this is a lot of speculation based on what is essentially a writer refusing to tell us how his story ends. But on the other hand, considering the precedents, it's not entirely crazy to jump to that conclusion. I just find it difficult to believe that after all the criticism DC could still be so stubbornly unwilling to admit that there is in fact a staggering lack of diversity in their books to the point that they would continue to make it worse, instead of doing even the slightest effort to remedy the problem.

At this point, killing off another non-white hero could only be interpreted as a provocation. The cynic in me is even tempted to suggest that the line from the interview may have been deliberately planted to stir up exactly this kind of speculation and discussion about the title, to generate interest and (presumably) drive up sales. I'll confess that I wasn't all that interested in the one-shot when it was first solicited. Not because I dislike the character or don't support books featuring non-white heroes, but mostly because I'm not familiar with the writer's previous work and lately I haven't had much luck with one-shots from DC. But now my curiosity has definitely been piqued. I don't know if it'll be enough to get me to buy the book, but I'm definitely paying more attention than I was before.

We'll have to wait and see, of course. Maybe this time it really is a tempest in a teapot.

The Steel one-shot hits stores January 5.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Is It Wednesday Yet?

As you may or may not know, I recently deleted my tumblr account in an effort to get away from all the petty drama and to focus on this blog instead. I hope this will mean more regular posting here. I have several ideas for weekly and monthly features I want to do, but there's going to be a period of adjustment where I try things out and figure out what I'm comfortable with in terms of workload.

"Is It Wednesday Yet?" is my weekly preview of comic books, but I find myself always torn between featuring the comics that potential new readers out there might be interested in, or just posting a list of the stuff that I personally am interested in. Previously, I tried a top-10 approach, but I've decided to abandon that. For now, since I'm kind of assuming I don't really have any regular readers who come to this site to find out what to buy on a weekly basis, I'm just going to go with what's basically my pull list, plus whatever else catches my attention for whatever reason.

So this week...

Birds of Prey #7 (DC) - This has a new story line starting, the provocatively titled "Death of Oracle" (which I'm willing to bet will not actually involve the death of Barbara Gordon). But what's most exciting, though, is that there's a new regular artist on the book. And let me just say, about freaking time! Since the title relaunched earlier this year, Ed Benes (who was supposed to be the regular artist) suffered some health problems which resulted in the use of several fill-in artists who rushed to complete or take over the issues. And while none of those fill-in artists were bad, the result was a bunch of patched up issues from multiple artists with different styles. The series hasn't had a consistent issue yet. Hopefully that's about to change with Adrian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes taking over art duties this month.

Meta 4 #4 (of 5) (Image) - Wow, this book is coming out really slowly. I don't even remember what happened in the first three issues. In fact, I'm not even sure I ever got around to reading the third issue. (Or was that the one Mike and I reviewed in Comic Carnage a few months ago? I could check, but I'm too lazy.) in any case, here's the penultimate issue.

Magus #1 (of 5) (12 Gauge) - I just sent an e-mail to my comic book store asking them to put an issue of this aside for me if they happen to get one, but since I didn't special-order it, there's a good chance it's not gonna happen. This looks pretty cool and it features art by the very awesome Rebekah Issacs. There's an interview with writers Jon Price and David Norton at Newsarama.

Stan Lee's Soldier Zero #3 (Boom) - It's only a matter of time before I drop the ball on this one. After the very problematic first issue and the rather lackluster second issue, I thought that would be it, but now I find myself considering giving it one more chance. It'll probably be a spur of the moment decision at the store.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Best and worse DC Comics covers of 2010

I have compiled my favourite and least favourite comic book covers of the year from DC. The rule I followed was that I couldn't feature the same artist of book more than once per category.  Vertigo and Wildstorm were not eligible.

TOP 10 BEST DC COVERS OF 2010

1. Phil Noto's Superboy #2


Phil Noto draws a very pretty Superboy. Add to that a nice restricted colour scheme, a stylish composition, and a little bit of bondage sexiness with Poison Ivy's vines, and you've got a clear winner. This is my favourite cover of the year.

2. Gary Frank's Atom Special


I love covers that depict the characters in action or in peril. This cover is full of movement and danger and it's visually striking.

3. Stanley Lau's Superman/Batman Annual #4


It was really hard to decide which of Stanley Lau's covers to pick for this list. His Batgirl covers are all stunningly beautiful and so is his double-cover for the Detective Comics and Batman annuals. But in the end I had to go with this one, because it features probably the best-looking Batman Beyond I've ever seen.

4. Amy Reeder Hadley's Supergirl #56


Amy Reeder did four or five Supergirl covers this year and they're all really nice, but this one was the most striking, making great use of the mirror imagery of the Bizarro world. Using the capes to emphasize the yin-yang motif was also a great idea.

5. Frazer Irving's Batman and Robin #13


It was a tough decision to leave out all of Frank Quitely's covers for Batman and Robin in favour of this variant by Frazer Irving, but ultimately this one wins hands down.

6. Cliff Chiang's Birds of Prey #3


The cover was so much better than this short fantasy scene was in the book. Cliff Chiang also did some really nice covers for Justice League: Generation Lost.

7. J.H. Williams III's Detective Comics #862


Wow. I don't really have to say anything else about this one.

8. Dustin Nguyen's Batman: Streets of Gotham #11


Picking only one Dustin Nguyen cover was torture. All of his covers for Streets of Gotham are amazing. He also did great cover for Detective Comics #866 and the first issue of his run on Batgirl.


9. Jesus Saiz's The Brave and the Bold #33


Although a lot of people had issues with the actual story in this issue, the cover is undeniably great in my opinion. It hinted at a lot of ass-kicking from these three great female characters, which unfortunately wasn't quite what we got.

10. José O. Ladrönn's The Spirit #1


And finally this one. Ladrönn's covers for The Spirit are all absolutely amazing. They're stylish, beautifully rendered and exciting. Unfortunately, the interior art by Moritat can't even compare. I got the first three issues of this new series before dropping it from my pull list and they were some of the worse comics I read all year. Which is proof that you should never judge a book by its cover.

BOTTOM 5 WORST DC COVERS OF 2010

1. Rodolfo Migliari's Green Lantern: Emerald Warrior #5


It was very easy to pick the worst cover of the year from DC. God, how much I hate this! Not only is it fucking disgusting and totally inappropriate to have a character puking blood and bleeding from his eyeballs on the cover of a DC book, but this is also terribly ugly art in my opinion. I hate absolutely everything about this.

2. Felipe Massafera's Superman: Last Family of Krypton #2


No. This is just wrong. First of all, Felipe Massafera is an obvious Alex Ross wannabe. I'm not even a fan of Alex Ross, much less some second-rate imitation. Second, flying babies are creepy. This cover is almost as repulsive as Guy Guardner puking blood, which is a remarkable feat in itself.

3. Billy Tucci's Red Hood: Lost Days #5


What the hell is this? I don't know whose arms these are, but they are surely not Jason Todd's. Billy Tucci is very hit and miss. Some of his other covers for this mini-series are actually quite nice, but this pumped-up-on-steroids version of the Red Hood is just gross.

4. Doug Mahnke's Green Lantern #57


The less said about this one, the better.

5. John Cassaday's Superman #706


And finally, a cover from what I consider the single biggest failure of the year from DC - the disastrously boring, delayed, critically despised, and ultimately abandoned "Grounded" storyline from superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski. On this ridiculous cover, I'm assuming that Superman is doing his best Dracula impression. It's an awful cover for an awful comic book. (At least it's not misleading, like some of those covers in my top-10 list.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Quick Reviews: Superboy, Starborn, Northlanders, Hellblazer, Flash, Red Robin

Superboy #2

So apparently a lot of people don't like this art. I think it’s all right. The colouring’s really awesome, though. As for the story, I’m enjoying it also. I’m surprised that the purple mind-controlled frogs showed up so quickly, though. I thought Lemire was going to save those for later. Anyway, the point is, I think this is a good book and I really want people to give it a chance. Jeff Lemire is a brilliant storyteller and I’m fascinated by the way some visual motifs are already starting to find their way in the book, despite the fact that he’s not drawing it himself. I really wish I could read his script and find out how much direction he gives the artist. Those last few pages with the teaser for what’s coming up are creepy.

Starborn #1

I appear the be the only person I know who is reading these new Stan Lee books. It’s kind of astonishing. You’d think that a bunch of new characters by arguably the most important comic book creator of our generation would attract a bit more attention.

Anyway, the other two (Soldier Zero and The Traveler) both had interesting elements but didn’t really click with me. I think this is the best of the three so far. It certainly has the best art (by Khary Randolph, whom I’d never heard of before). Or, maybe not necessarily the best, but just the one that appeals to me the most, stylistically. The story is intriguing, based on interesting concepts, and not as confusing as the first issue of The Traveler was. Chris Roberson wrote the script and did a pretty good job. If I only end up following one of the three new series, this might be the one I decide to stick around with.

Northlanders #35

The first issue of a two-part story called “The Girl in the Ice” is beautifully drawn by Becky Cloonan. And Brian Wood is a really amazing writer. I need to check out more of his work. (I want to read DMZ, I think.) If super-hero comics are like big Hollywoood action blockbusters, then this series is like a really good European art film. Quiet, subtle, beautiful, restrained, a little stark. But not pretentious. I love it.

John Constantine: Hellblazer: City of Demons #5 (of 5)

Oh, my God. This issue, which is the last of the mini-series, has two climaxes. And while they’re both pretty good, it’s the first one that really blew my mind, with all its tentacular goodness. Constantine is such a badass! I absolutely loved this series. Writing and art both fantastic. Now I want to read more Hellblazer, but I’m almost afraid it’s not gonna be as good as this. Anyway, I hope somebody else out there read this. If you did, let me know what you thought of it.

The Flash #7

Okay, I usually don’t like it when books get fill-in artists, but when it’s Scott Kolins, I don’t mind! Francis Manapul’s art is so beautiful, I’d forgotten that Kolins’ was almost equally formidable. (I can’t believe I just used that word.)

I think the Rogues are incredibly silly, but I’m sort of learning to just accept that as part of their charm. This issue is all about Captain Boomerang, a character I actually don’t know that much about, so it was interesting to get his back story. And it looks like the next issue (coming out in just two weeks) is gonna be pretty good, too. Reverse Flash is kind of scary.

The only thing I didn’t really about this is the same thing I don’t really like about all the other Brightest Day books - i.e., the tie-in elements to Brightest Day. I just don’t care, and none of it really makes any sense to me. I wish this could just be a book about The Flash and his rogues and tell its own story instead of plugging that annoying crossover event that’s never going to end.

Red Robin #18

I was kind of avoiding this one, because I said this would be a rant-free evening and I knew this book was going to make me want to rant, but I read it anyway. And, really, I don’t have much to say about it, except that it nearly bored me to tears. I don’t even have anything to complain about anymore. I’m just bored by this story. And Tim Drake’s incessant internal monologue is annoying. I think I’m starting to dislike his character, which is a pretty good sign that I should stop reading this series before I completely forget what I used to love about him.

Sorry, Marcus To. I love your art and you’re an awesome dude and I wish you a lot of success. But I don’t think I’m going to be reading this book anymore. I guess I’m just not a fan of FabNic. I wish Chris Yost had never left.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Read in November 2010

Batman and Robin #16
Superboy #1
Generation Hope #1
Sweet Tooth #15
DC Presents: Young Justice #1
Thor #617
John Constantine: Hellblazer - City of Demons #3, 4
Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #6
Birds of Prey #6
Red Robin #17
Batman: The Return
Batman, Inc #1
Flash #6
Legion of Super-Heroes #7
Superior #2
Soldier Zero #2
Action Comics #895
Batwoman #0
Detective Comics #871
Teen Titans #89
Secret Avengers #7
The Traveler #1
Astonishing Thor #1

TOP 5 BOOKS OF THE MONTH

1. Sweet Tooth #15 -  It might seem like an obvious pick, since this is generally my favourite book, but this issue was particularly rewarding. Perfectly structured, with a brilliant last page. Mind blown.

2. Detective Comics #871 - The surprise hit of the month for me. With two Grant Morrison Batman runs coming to an end (B&R and Return of BW), a big one-shot introducing the new status quo (Batman: The Return) and the launch of a new series (Batman Inc), I was really surprised that the new team on Detective Comics, Scott Snyder and Jock, delivered the best Bat-book I've read in months. As much as I love Grant Morrison and have been enjoying his shenanigans, this felt like a breath of fresh air in the form of a return to basics, with solid storytelling and amazing art. An instant win. This is my new favourite bat book.

3. Superboy #1 - The much-awaited debut of the new Superboy book didn't disappoint.

4. Batman and Robin #16 - Of all the Grant Morrison bat books this month, the final issue of his run on Batman and Robins was my favourite - even if it was itself very flawed due to the massive delays resulting in three artists with wildly different styles sharing art duties on a title that was supposed to be fully drawn by Cameron Stewart. Still, this was a satisfying end to the saga of Dr. Hurt.

5. Hellblazer: City of Demons #3 and 4 - I'm loving the hell out of this mini-series, written by Si Spencer and drawn by Sean Murphy. Only one issue left and I'm really looking forward to it.

NOTABLE OMISSIONS FROM THE TOP 5
(aka disappointing books, to varying degrees)

1. Batman, Inc #1 - Yeah, I liked it. But it didn't rock my world. I'm waiting to see where it's headed.

2. Batwoman #0 - Amazing, beautiful art. And if that was the only criteria, this book might have ended up in the top spot this month. But the story was not very substantial and the decision to have it told entirely from Bruce Wayne's perspective, with Kate Kane not even being given a voice, was disappointing. The ladies at 3 Chicks Reviewing Comics did a great job deconstructing the issue.

3. Red Robin #17 - Wow, this book really took a plunge into mediocrity this month. It was among my favourites for a while, but that scene with Lynx turned me off completely. (And led into a stupid Tumblr argument that lost me a few followers - oh well.) Marcus To's art remains nearly flawless, though, and the full page spread of Bruce and Tim hugging was one of my favourite pages of the year! This book is now on probation. I'm giving it one more issue to convince me that it's still worth following.

4. Teen Titans #89 - Last issue marked the start of a new run by writer J.T. Krul and artist Nicola Scott, and after reading it I was cautiously optimistic. It didn't take very long for it to go south, though. This issue featured Damian Wayne written completely out of character to such an extent that I decided to immediately drop the book from my pull list. It's a real shame, though, because Nicola Scott's art sure it pretty.

5. Batman: The Return - This stank. I've realized that I'm not a fan of David Finch's art at all. And this was by far the weakest Morrison bat book of the month.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Is It Wednesday Yet?

Pick of the Week: Superboy #1 (DC)

It wasn't hard to choose this as my pick of the week. Jeff Lemire, writer, artist and creator of the excellent Vertigo title Sweet Tooth, signed an exclusive contract with DC earlier this year and since then I've been anxiously waiting for his contribution to the DC Universe. The Atom one-shot, which led to a back-up feature in Adventure Comics, felt like he was just warming up, but now this is it: his very own ongoing titles featuring one of DC's biggest stars.

I have complete confidence that this is going to be a great book. The character and setting are a perfect match for Lemire's writing talent, and based on the wacky preview he gave us in Action Comics  a few months ago, he's got some big plans for the story and no shortage of ideas.

Artist Pier Gallo is new and it remains to be seen whether his art will live up to the challenge. You can check it out for yourself in this six-page preview at DC's The Source. I'm not a huge fan of the face he gave Superboy, and the backgrounds in those pages tend to be lacking in details, but I think there's potential here. Let's give him a chance.

2. Batman and Robin #16 (DC)

Here it is, finally, after much delay. The very last issue of Grant Morrison's run on Batman and Robin, the title he launched a little over a year ago. Bruce Wayne is back (even though we're still waiting for that last issue of The Return of Bruce Wayne, which was supposed to come out two months ago), and this is the big showdown between him and the most evil man in the world, Dr. Hurt. I'm going to be honest with you, if you haven't been following any of the goings on in the Batman books lately, this is not going to make any sense to you. But if you have been, well, you're probably shitting your pants in excitement right now. Art by Cameron Stewart, Frazer Irving and Chris Burnham. Here's a preview.

3. Strange Tales II #2 (of 3) (Marvel)

The first issue of this three-part anthology was amazing and ended up at the top of my favourites list for October. The second issue promises more awesomeness from a long list of exciting indie creators, including Jaime Hernandez and Kate Beaton. There's no continuity involved, so you can pick this up even if you missed the first issue.

4. Captain America: Man Out of Time #1 (of 5) (Marvel)

A Captain America mini-series written by Mark Waid. If that doesn't sell it to you, I don't know what will. Art by Jorge Molina. Here's an interview with Waid from back in July.

5. Generation Hope #1 (Marvel)

Marvel is calling this "the most important new X book in years," so it must be important, right? It's written by  Kieron Gillen with art by Salvador Espin. Here's a preview.

6. Adventures into Mindless Self-Indulgence (one shot) (Image)

Sorry about this token non-Marvel/DC entry. It's kind of a slow week for indie comics. I don't know. I thought the title was pretty cool, but I kind of lost interest when I realized it was the name of  real-life (i.e., not just in comics) synthpunk band.

7. Women of Marvel #1 (of 2) (Marvel)

This is a collection of "the tales that took Marvel.com by story." I guess that means material that was previously released digitally only. I don't know, I wasn't paying attention. But there are a few interesting creators in there, including G. Willow Wilson. Worth checking out.

8. Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money (one shot) (DC)

Written and drawn by Howard Chaykin. This should be pretty good. 

9. Sweet Tooth #15 (Vertigo)

Consistent quality from Jeff Lemire. Can't let this one go by without a mention.

10. Ozma of Oz #1 (of 8) (Marvel)

And finally, this is the third in a series of all-ages adaptations of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. I have not read any of them, but the art looks pretty fantastic and if I had kids I would totally be trying to get them hooked on comics with these. Check it out here.

Honourable mentions

I don't usually do this, but there's a ton of new Marvel mini-series launching this week and they're all kind of mildly interesting depending on which characters or creative teams happen to appeal to you, so it was pretty much impossible for me to narrow it down to 10 titles. So you might want to check out the following three #1 issues:
  • Iron Man/Thor #1 (of 4) (Marvel) Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; art by Scot Eaton.
  • Warriors Three #1 (of 4) (Marvel) Written by Bill Willingham; art by Neil Edwards.
  • X-Men: To Serve and Protect #1 (of 4) (Marvel) Written by Chris Yost and more; art by various.
  • Punisher: In the Blood #1 (of 5) (Marvel) Written by Rick Remender; art by Roland Boschi.
Don't miss anything!

Here's the full list of new releases shipping this week.

About "Is It Wednesday Yet?": Every week, I take a look at the new releases and compile a list of 10 titles that look interesting to me. These are not necessarily the books I will buy for myself, but rather things that I think are noteworthy for a variety of reasons and that I want to bring to people's attention in case they might have missed them. I try to give priority to #1 issues, one-shots, new creative teams, or new story arcs, so that most of these are easy jumping-on points for new readers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sexism in The Walking Dead: An Ongoing Discussion

(I apologize in advance for the somewhat hodgepodge nature of this post. I've tried to summarize as best as I could the various arguments for and against sexism in The Walking Dead, which I've encountered over the past 48 hours or so. I hope this is somewhat readable and coherent, but I offer no guarantee that it is.)

Over the past couple of months, I've read through the first 50-some issues of The Walking Dead, and this weekend, I also watched the first episode of the AMC television series based on it, which premiered on Sunday. Throughout all this, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the sexist and anti-progressive undertones in both the comics and the first episode of the television series. And since yesterday, I've been involved in a few discussions about it.

My intention, at first, was to write a very long and detailed review of the comics, focusing on what I think is a very problematic representation of gender relations and gender roles. As it turns out, though, I found a few reviews online that already do a pretty good job at listing some of the problems I've noticed in the books.

A few different takes on the comic books

Darren's reviews of the first and second hardcover volumes at The M0vie Blog do a pretty good job at highlighting some of the more problematic scenes dealing with gender roles. When I complained on Tumblr that I hadn't seen a lot of discussion of those issues online, someone pointed me in the direction of this excellent post by Jennifer at Fantastic Fangirls. Here's an excerpt:

One of the biggest concerns for me with The Walking Dead has been the troubling gender issues. The book is structured around zombie apocalypse survivor Rick Grimes, a man who takes charge of a group of fellow survivors and expects everyone else to fall in line behind him. While I find Rick to be an obnoxious character, and I get annoyed when his stupid or immoral decisions are validated by his swooning followers, his wife in particular, I understand that this is mainly a function of protagonist privilege. The book revolves around Rick, and even if he does contribute to the long tradition of straight white males at the center of Western narratives, that in itself isn't the problem.

The problem comes up when issues of gender inequality are present, questioned within the text, and then summarily dismissed. This happens in the first volume, when the women of the group are expected to take care of laundry and childcare while the men do the hunting and gathering. One female character is frustrated by this stereotypical division of labor and wonders, when the zombies are gone, if women will even be allowed to vote. But the other women in the scene laugh off her fears. They know nothing about guns, after all, and shouldn't they do what they're good at? The characters continue doing laundry, the matter settled.

Later, when the group elects a committee of leaders to mitigate Rick's single-handed dictatorship, the elected group is entirely male. When Rick points out this imbalance ("No women?"), the other men assure him that the women wanted this team to be all male, because they don't feel they're cut out for leadership. Rick accepts this reasoning, and the leadership committee settles into its role.
Those are pretty much exactly the same issues I had with the comics.

Meanwhile, Kelly Thompson has a different take on the series, praising its "fantastic female characters" in this week's edition of her column, She Has No Head, on Comics Should Be Good. I was surprised that she doesn't put as much weight on the sexism or larger problems with gender roles in the comics as I would have expected. But even though her take on the series is mostly positive, Kelly is still critical of some of the characters. For example, about Donna, she writes:
She's totally unlikable for the majority of her screen time and is by far the most stereotypical and cliche of Kirkman's early characters. The feminist in me likes that she asks the question of why it's three women doing the laundry while the men folk do the huntin' and protectin' and I wonder if found in the same situation if I'd be asking the same question.  However Kirkman pulls from the worst feminist stereotypes and she comes off as humorless, cold, bitchy, judgmental woman jealous of others younger and prettier than she. Donna is also rendered to be the least "traditionally attractive" of the ladies. I'm not sure what's a lazier stereotype than the "ugly humorless feminist" but that's mostly all Donna brings to the table for the bulk of her page time.
Kelly's post is worth reading all the way through. Although I'm inclined to be tougher on Kirkman overall, her interpretation is very nuanced and it's clear that she's thought about these characters a lot. Without being apologetic, she points out quite a few redeeming qualities of the various female characters that are easy to overlook or simply ignore because they don't fit into a simplistic interpretation of the book as sexist and misogynist.

My biggest problem with the comics is the general trend toward an essentialist view of gender roles. Kirkman seems to think that men and women are fundamentally different in ways that go beyond the physical/anatomical, and those differences include men being generally more action-oriented, better leaders, and more rational, while the women are more passive, emotional, and better at domestic tasks (cooking, laundry, sewing clothes, taking care of children). There are of course a few exceptions. Amy is a good shooter, while Tyreese can’t shoot to save his life. But these are just that: exceptions.

The feeling I get from the books is that men are meant to be leaders while the women are meant to be in the kitchen. And the fact that Kirkman keeps saying "I'm only being realistic in terms of what I think would happen in a zombie apocalypse" suggests that this is what he sees as the natural order of things, rather than just social constructs. If you push the logic of the comics far enough, you could argue that all the social advances in women's rights are what's artificial - all it's gonna take is a cataclysmic event like a zombie apocalypse to return things to the way they were always meant to be.

The first episode: equally sexist, but in different ways

I was pretty appalled by the blatant display of sexism in the pilot of the series, and after watching it, I made a few comments about it on Tumblr. A few people were surprised by my reaction. "The women only appear in it for like five minutes, so what was blatantly sexist about it?" they asked.

Well, for one thing, when you have a one-hour pilot episode that only allots about five minutes of screen time to female character, that's already a pretty good clue that the show is primarily concerned with a male perspective. Which is not necessarily sexist, but it's certainly one of the first steps in that direction. But it gets a lot more obviously sexist once you start looking at the specifics of those scenes that either feature or mention women:

1. One woman at the camp near the end of the episode, whose character is only onscreen for this one scene,  is so stupid and useless, she doesn't know that in order to respond to someone on a CB radio, you have the push the button. Seriously. I'm pretty sure most people have seen enough of those things on television, whether they've actually used them or not themselves, to understand this simple concept. And if they didn't, why wouldn't someone at the camp teach them how to use it?

2. Lori, Rick's wife, has already been established as a bad mother in the incredibly, blatantly, offensively sexist opening dialogue, where Rick and Shane talk about "the difference between men and women" (in which we learn, among other things, that women are responsible for global warming, because they don't know how to use a light switch). When we finally meet her, we see that her being a bad mother isn't just Rick's opinion, but is in fact true. (This is demonstrated by he way that she walks away from her son, which Shane then scolds her for in the tent.) And not only is she a bad mother, but she's also a bad wife, because she's cheating on her husband, whom she left in a coma back at the hospital.

3. The only interaction between men and women in the entire episode (not counting a few encounters with female zombies) is in that one scene at the camp. In includes: a man taking the CB away from the silly woman who can't figure out how to use simple technology; Lori trying to express herself and show some leadership, but being immediately put in her proper place by a man who knows better; Shane treating her like shit, insulting her, telling her she's a bad mother, and bullying her into admitting that he's right - all of which we could dismiss as characterization of him as an asshole and not necessarily representative of the views of the producers of the show, except that, of course, her reaction to all this is to make out with him, because that's apparently what turns women on.

4. In an earlier scene between Rick and Morgan, the guy who's staying at his neighbour's house, Rick points out that all the photo albums are missing from his place, which is evidence that Lori was alive when she left, as a burglar wouldn't have stolen these. Morgan laughs and says his wife did the same thing. "I'm out there packing stuff for survival and she's gathering photo albums." Silly women!

That pretty much sums up the show's take on men and women: men are rational, practical, survivors; while women are stupid, inefficient and sentimental.

Of course, as several people have pointed out to me, this is only the first episode. The scene between Lori and Shane could very well be setting her up as a strong character who has her own reasons for putting up with his bullying and who will eventually assert herself later in the show. I guess this is not impossible. But given how close the characterization seems to be to the books, I find that highly unlikely, since in the comics she's never really developed as a strong character.

A few things I didn't hate about the first episode of The Walking Dead

I've been debating with myself whether I'm going to continue watching the series, because as much as I hate the sexism and find it inexcusable and impossible to ignore, the show is also really exciting and well made. I want to give it a chance and I want to enjoy it.

Here are a few things that I didn't hate about the first episode:
  • The expanded sequence with Morgan and Duane. I thought it was very smart of the producers of the show to spend more time with these characters and expand on their story a little bit, compared to their brief appearance at the start of the series. Those who have read the comics know that these characters will be seen again eventually, but in terms of the TV series, I would bet that probably won't be before the second or third season. I would love if they actually spent more time with these characters and gave us their story in parallel to what happens to Rick and his companions. Maybe not spend as much time with them, but at least visit them once in a while to give us an update. I don't think they're actually going to do that, but it would be cool if they did.
  • The special effects, the level of gore, and the action sequences. Absolutely amazing and impressive on every level. They didn't hold back at all on the gore or violence, but at the same time none of it feels gratuitous or distasteful. And the special effects are impressive. This must have cost a fortune.
  • The physical likeness between the actors and the characters in the book. Every character that was introduced was instantly recognizable from the comic. Very cool.
  • The acting. There wasn't a bad performance in the episode. The only area of concern there for future episodes would be with Carl, since he's the youngest character and we all know how hit-or-miss child actors can be. He didn't do or say much in this episode, so that remains to be seen.
  • And finally, the overall aesthetic and cinematography. No complaints there either.
Really, there's a lot to like there, and I understand why all the fans are so impressed and excited and delighted by it. It's just that none of this makes the sexism any less present or more excusable. If anything, it kind of makes it all the more disappointing, because this show had the potential to be just brilliant, but it's already been tainted by this very strong negative aspect that I can't ignore.

Read in October 2010

These were my favourite new comics:

1. Strange Tales II #1 (Marvel) I didn't like every story in this anthology, but the ones that were good were so amazing that this easily takes the top spot. Special mentions go to Rafael Grampa's twisted Wolverine tale and Kate Beaton's hilarious story featuring Spider-Man vs. Kraven.

2. Action Comics #893-894 (DC) Paul Cornell's Lex Luthor story continues to defy expectations with a crazy "anything goes" approach to storytelling. From a ridiculously over-the-top issue featuring Gorilla Grodd with a giant spoon to a quietly metaphysical one consisting almost entirely of a conversation between Lex and Death, every new issue is a joy to read.

3. Batman and Robin #15 (DC) The delays have been excruciating, but the final issue in Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving's story delivered all the thrills I expected from it. This three-issue arc might be my pick for best interior art of the year.

4. Knight and Squire #1 (DC) More Paul Cornell craziness. This new series is off to a good start, and I'm excited to read the rest of it.

5. Sweet Tooth #14 (Vertigo) Jeff Lemire's book is the very definition of consistent quality. It never falters or misses a step. Just great storytelling, characters and art each month. If you're not reading this, what the hell is wrong with you?

And my least favourite comic of the month:

Avengers Academy #5 (Marvel) Oh, God, this sucked. See here for some evidence.

Here's the list of all the comics I read last month:

One Month to Live #5
Action Comics #893-894
The Incredible Hercules #126
Avengers #500-503 ("Disassembled")
Hercules vs. Spider-Man: Assault on New Olympus
The Incredible Hercules #139
Neonomicon #2
Avengers Academy #5
Sweet Tooth #14
Fantastic Four in Attaque del MODOK
Orc Stain #4-5
Captain America: Winter Soldier (TPB)
Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #5
Edge of Doom #1
Superior #1
John Constantine: Hellblazer: City of Demons #1-2
Thor #616
Knight and Squire #1
Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Batman and Robin
Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Red Robin
Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Batgirl
Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Outsiders
Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #3
Vision Machine #1
Batman and Robin #15
Superman/Batman #77
Legion of Super-Heroes #6
Morning Glories #3
Robin #0, 5-10, 85
Gotham Knights #1
The Walking Dead #31-57
Teen Titans #88
Showcase '93 #1-4
Secret Avengers #6
Godland vol. 1: Hello Cosmic (TPB)
Strange Tales II #1
Stan Lee's Soldier Zero #1

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quick Reviews: Teen Titans, Secret Avengers, Action Comics, Hellblazer

TEEN TITANS #88
Written by J.T. Krul; art by Nicola Scott.

I’ve been very cynical about this new creative team, because although I think Nicola Scott’s art is wonderful, JT Krul wrote a certain scene featuring a dead cat that we all know about and that I probably don’t need to elaborate upon. So even though I really desperately wanted to like this book, I went into it with very cautious optimism. And I'm glad to say that it didn't suck! In fact, this was pretty damn good. I mean, there's nothing amazing about it, but just there's nothing terribly wrong with it is already kind of remarkable, considering how bad this series has been (by all accounts) for the past few years.

I’m not 100% sure I like that scene with Raven in the middle of the book. I don’t know why, but I have a bad feeling about where that’s going. Maybe it’s nothing, though. We'll see.

I’m officially adding this to my pull list and looking forward to the next issue.

SECRET AVENGERS #6
Written by Ed Brubaker; art by Mike Deodato.


It still doesn’t feel like this series is as good as it should be. It’s weird. I can’t put my finger on it, but something seems lacking. There’s nothing really wrong, but also nothing really amazing. I think maybe it’s because it’s very plot-driven, and what I expect from Brubaker is really great characterization.

Still, I enjoyed this. I like Deodato’s art and this issue was probably the best looking so far. The colouring was also much improved, compared to the first arc, which I thought was too dark and lacking dynamics. All things considered, this is still a very good title. Maybe my expectations are just too high, because Brubaker’s Captain America is so amazing.

ACTION COMICS #894
Written by Paul Cornell; art by Pete Woods.

I've been in love with this series since Paul Cornell started writing it. Everything about his writing here is exactly right. Luthor is amazing. Death (from Neil Gaiman's Sandman) was also amazing in this issue. And Pete Woods’ art also shines.

My only slight complaint is that the whole villain-of-the-month format of the story risks getting kind of monotonous. There’s obviously a larger story being told in small increments here, but it’s hard to get a sense of where it’s all going. I kind of wish Cornell wasn’t dead set on following this structure.

But the characterization and the dialogue and the ideas and the weirdness… loving it all.

JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER - CITY OF DEMONS #2
Written by Si Spencer; art by Sean Murphy. 

This is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but this mini-series is the first thing I've ever read featuring John Constantine, so only two issues into it, I'm still getting a feel for his character and exactly what he's all about. But I have to say he's a very easy character to like! I'm already thinking I need to read some of the older, classic stories about him.

This is petty good so far. Sean Murphy's art is fantastic. (I can't wait to read Joe the Barbarian! I missed the boat on the first couple of issues, so I'm eagerly awaiting the trade paperback.) Also, Dave Stewart is becoming my favourite colourist.

Review: Secret Avengers #5

(This review was originally posted on September 27 at Population GO.)

SECRET AVENGERS #5 "Secret Histories Epilogue: The Secret Life of Max Fury"
Written by Ed Brubaker; art by David Aja, Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano.

Secret Avengers is a comic book that should’ve been awesome from the start. Writer Ed Brubaker has been doing a fantastic job with Captain America for a long time, and to have him write about a new covert ops Avengers team headed by former Captain America Steve Rogers sounds like a perfect fit. While the first issue was promising, the next three were very underwhelming, to the point where I was considering dropping the title after the completion of the first arc. But now, issue #5 comes out and I’m perplexed. This issue was great, definitely the best in the series thus far, but it was also very atypical. Not only did it have a different artist, but the story also focused on a couple of characters who are not even members of the team. The question is, will the quality hold up when it’s back to business as usual next month?

Mike Deodato’s art so far on the series has been decent, so I was initially a little weary when I saw that issue #5 featured a different artist – or rather a team of artists, namely, David Aja, Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano. (Deodato will be back next month.) But the strikingly different style in this issue, which is an epilogue to the first arc, ends up working in favour of it. The art is a bit grittier or sketchier, which fits nicely with the story of our antagonist’s origins, told mostly in flashbacks. 

Being fairly new to the Marvel universe myself, I’m not exactly sure how much of the information we are given in this issue was previously established. It’s all new to me, but easy enough to follow. Though presented as an epilogue to the first arc, the story could work as well as a stand-alone, and as such it would be a good jumping-on point for readers who want to get some background before the next arc begins. All you really need to know is that the Secret Avengers have been attacked by a group called the Shadow Council, led by someone who looks suspiciously like Nick Fury.

Ed Brubaker’s writing is excellent in this issue and I’m finally getting a sense of what makes him such a unique voice in comics. It’s clear he has a good handle on the characters of Nick Fury and Steve Rogers and the way they interact with each other. If the writing stays this good once the focus returns to the rest of the team next month, Secret Avengers could become the best current ongoing Avengers title – which it really ought to be.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Too Much Awesome: Comics in January

Time to look at the January 2011 solicitations, as listed in Previews #266.

DARK HORSE

Hmm, there's not a single book from Dark Horse I'm interested in this month.

DC

The DC solicitations start with a bunch of random one-shots, none of which look all that interesting to me. Depending on whether or not Krul's Teen Titans gone south by then, I might check out the Wonder Girl one-shot that ties into it, otherwise I think I'm going to pass on all of these.

The new anthology mini-series Weird Worlds features "a kind-hearted monster called Garbageman." I think that speaks for itself, but you can read more about that wonderful creation in this interview with Aaron Lopresti, who will be writing and drawing that story.

Batman: Europa is a new mini-series based on a story by Brian Azzarello and Matteo Casali, with painted art by "many of the industry's top talents. This first issue is by Jim Lee, and if that cover is any indication, it's going to be really, really ugly. Not interested.

I'll probably be getting the new issues of Batman Inc, Batman and Robin, Knight and Squire, Red Robin, Birds of Prey, Action Comics, Superboy, The Flash, Adventure Comics, Legion of Super-Heroes and Teen Titans, all of which are on my regular pull list at the moment.

Superman/Batman #80 is the conclusion of a two-part story by Chris Roberson and Jesus Merino, taking place in the 853rd century, and I'm looking forward to that as well.

In the collected editions section, I noticed that the first collection of Paul Cornell's Action Comics run is going to be titled Superman: The Black Ring. Now why would they put "Superman" in the title when the character is not even featured in the story? I know, I know, the answer is probably just that his name sells better than Lex Luthor's, but that seems really disingenuous, even by DC's low standards. Is it possible that Superman does make an appearance at the end of the story Cornell has planned? I'm also confused by the fact that there's no "volume 1" attached to the title, since that collection only includes issues #890-895 and the story will not have concluded by then. Very weird.

Notice a bunch of Wildstorm titles at the end of the DC Comics section. Mostly these are mini-series that haven't yet concluded, but it's nice to see a seamless transition into DC's main imprint instead of a bunch of abrupt cancellations.

VERTIGO

Daytripper gets a trade paperback collection. I bought all the single issues, so I won't be getting this, but I highly recommend this beautiful story by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.

I'm going to be picking up the new issues of Northlanders and Sweet Tooth. It seems like there are fewer and fewer Vertigo books of interest. I hope they're going to announce some new titles soon.

IDW

I'm not going to get sucked into this Infestation mega crossover event, featuring zombies across IDW's various licensed properties (Star Trek, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Ghostbusters), but I'll admit it's a pretty clever marketing stunt. Of course, it would maybe have a bit more impact if we hadn't seen major zombie crossover events at DC and Marvel recently. Coupled with the surge in popularity of Kirkman's Walking Dead due to the new TV series, I'd expect most people to be really sick of zombies by January. I'm pretty sure I will be.

I bought the first issue of Steve Niles and Kelley Jones' Edge of Doom mini-series this month and didn't think much of it, so I'm dropping this one.

There's a trade paperback of something called Off-Road, written and drawn by Sean Murphy. I'm assuming this was previously released as a mini-series, although the solicitation doesn't say. It's the first time I notice this title, but I'm probably going to look into it, since I really love Murphy's art.

IMAGE

I dropped Morning Glories after issue #3. I don't understand where all the positive reviews are coming from, as I found both the art and the writing to be mediocre.

And yet, here I am looking at Nick Spencer's new series, The Infinite Vacation, thinking it looks pretty cool. Art is by Christian Ward and it looks a lot more up my alley than Joe Eisma's work in Morning Glories. I'm intrigued, if not completely sold on this one.

And depending on how I like the first issues of Halcyon and Marineman (coming out in November and December, respectively), I may or may not continue reading them in January.

MARVEL

I will be getting the new issues of Avengers: Children's Crusade, Secret Avengers, and Thor. I think that's it. I dropped Avengers Academy because it hasn't been very good (and the last issue, to put it politely, sucked cock) and I'm not really tempted by anything else at the moment. Which is not a bad thing, considering my budget is already stretched thin as it is.

There's a Magneto one-shot written by Howard Chaykin and pencilled by "TBD." Awesome.

ICON

Casanova continues, with Fabio Moon taking over art duties from Gabriel Ba. They're both amazing artists, so that's cool.

I'll also be getting Mark Millar and Leinil Yu's Superior, unless something goes horribly wrong in issue #2 or #3.

BOOM!

By January, all three of Stan Lee's new series will have launched: Soldier Zero, Starborn and The Traveler. I read the first issue of Soldier Zero this week and I'm currently working on a review of it. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to continue reading it or check out those other two books when they launch, but for now I'll just say these are worth keeping an eye on.

RED 5

I have Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #3 on my pull  list.

12 GAUGE

I'm picking up the first issue of Magus in December. Depending on whether or not that's any good, I may or may not pick up the second issue in January. The premise is interesting.

And that's all for January, folks.

Top 10 ugliest faces in Avengers Academy #5

(This was originally posted on Tumblr on October 8, 2010.)

Avengers Academy #5 was the worst comic I bought in months. In large part, this was due to filler artist Jorge Molina’s apparent inability to draw character faces consistently. Below are the top 10 ugliest faces from the pages of the issue. Please note that it was actually really difficult to narrow it down to these 10, as I had originally about 25 cropped faces that would all qualify.

#10 - Striker


#9 - I don’t even know who this is


#8 - Veil


#7 - Hank Pym (why is he wearing black lipstick?)


#6 - Striker’s dad


#5 - Steve Rogers


#4 - Veil


#3 - Hank Pym


#2 - Steve Rogers


#1 - Striker

Five images x2

by Scott Hampton, from Batman Masterpieces: Portrait of the Dark Knight and His World.

"Icons" by Marc Laming.

"Catwoman - Cat Got Your Keys" by Eric Goff.

Invincible vs. Power Girl, by Ryan Ottley.

Superboy and Krypto, by Jeff Lemire and Jose Villarubia.

"Lil' Matches" by lebzpel on Deviant Art. (This is Damian Wayne in his Halloween costume, based on Superman/Batman #77)

Atom (from Pluto) with a snail, by orb01 on Deviant Art.

Superboy sketch by Mike Wieringo.

Supergirl sketch by Yildiray Cinar.

Man-Thing by Art Adams.
Found on the following tumblrs: fuckyeahttk, spoonr, discowing, kandidkandor, fuckyeahcomicrelationships, korovamilk, awyeahcomics and yours truly.

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