Monday, November 29, 2010

Wednesday Is For Leftovers For All I Care #89

Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #1
The CBLDF Presents Liberty Annual 2010
Skullkickers #1 (2010)
Star Wars: Knight Errant #1 (2010)

Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #1 (Dark Horse, 2010, $3.50)
Eric Powell's side project with Kyle Hotz looks great and has some amusing dialogue, whether from the hideously adorable Elephant Man or the willfully belligerent Henry "Billy" McCarty. It strikes me as a good book to offer a reader suffering withdrawal between Mike Mignola or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen installments. Don't let that inflate you expectations, because this is a Kit-Kat subbing for gourmet chocolate, but ya takes what ya can gets. There's also a serialized Goon back-up that does nothing for me.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Presents Liberty Annual 2010 (Image, 2010, $4.99)
A good cause offering a good excuse to try an anthology, which are rarely any good. They're grab bags of unsatisfying shorts with the hope of plucking out at least one jewel, and that optimism is fueled in part by the caliber of creators the CBLDF can rally. Darick Robertson starts things off with the best looking Conan story I've seen in years, which serves an amusing story centered on political satire. Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba offer a very Eurocentric tale of dystopia that accomplishes what its four pages would allow. Garth Ennis and Rob Steen then shit the bed with The Boys, in a story whose joke I either didn't get, or was so obviously terrible I wasn't confident it was being told.

Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan emerge from '80s indie limbo with a two page Boilerplate tale about the fuckery of intellectual property law, which is better than it sounds. Rob Liefeld contributes an hilariously on the nose Freedom's Lady double page spread. The long missed Evan Dorkin returns for two pages of the best Milk and Cheese strip in ages, which just made me miss Dork! all the more. There's the obligatory Frank Miller Sin City spread, another nice (if random) one by Paul Pope, a Comic Book Guy splash by Jill Thompson, and Lady Liberty by Terry Moore.

I remember Image Comics foisting their own tepid Not Brand Ecch upon the speculating public twenty years ago, and I've always held it against Don Simpson. However, his mocking libertarianism through Megaton Man was alright. There's a one pager called "Charley Loves Robots" that's also okay. It isn't until Gail Simone and Amanda F. Gould's ambitiously awful "Monsters at the Door" that the second half slump really sets in. Scott Morse tries to save the flow with the bitter "Phaeton," but any gains he made were lost by the aggressively pointles "X-Rayz" by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins. Strong pin-ups by Jeff Smith, Skottie Young, Amanda Conner and Colleen Doran salve the wound, though. There's also a page by Ben McCool and Billy Tucci, but it looks so much like a Crusade Comics house ad, I can't objectively judge it. A two page Beanworld strip by CBLDF Larry Marder closes things out with a pleasantly delivered School House Rock message (no song,) to remind folks why they bought the book in the first place. Skip the tired gender politik excesses of "Monsters" and the moronic Boys tale, and you should come out of this feeling good about yourself.

Skullkickers #1 (Image, 2010, $2.99)
Tolkienesque vaguely medieval Middle Earth bullshit turns me off like the prospect of being the meat in a Rosies Barr & O'Donnell sandwich. Skullkickers is a relief in that within the milieu it punctures any associated pretense at every opportunity in its story of two asshole mercenaries just trying to make mead money. I'm also not big on stereotypically manga-style art with Dreamwave cartoon cel coloring, but that grows on you here, as it works for the material. The script isn't as funny as it would like to be, and the plot isn't advanced as quickly as one would wish, but it's still much better than the usual cringe-inducing comic book action comedies (Deadpool, Lobo, etc.)

Star Wars: Knight Errant #1 (Dark Horse, 2010, $2.99)
I can't even pretend I give a shit about Star Wars anymore, my enthusiasm has been so thoroughly extinguished. It's over a millennium before the movies, and it's still about the Republic on the brink of destruction as the Sith press their advantage. I know at the end of the day it's all about good vs. evil with copious swashbuckling, but when they can't even be bothered to change the names of the players, it signals creative bankruptcy. John Jackson Miller telegraphs the fuck out of this initial tale, so you know exactly where the far-famed unbeatable Jedi Master and his rebellious pupil will end up by the story's end. Throw in a parent-killing Darth Vader proxy or two and an idealistic love interest with a secret past, and you've got the predictability of geek porn. Maybe that's why so many Warsies are Jesus freaks: the comforting predictability of the same stories whitewashed and retold for generations.

The art by Federico Dallocchio looks well above par at first blush, but the creeping stiffness of obvious and extensive photo reference cramps his style. His storytelling also leaves something to be desired, with one action sequence so mangled the dialogue has to be reread to decipher what happened between panels. Regardless, the glorious coloring of Michael Atiyeh makes up for all shortcomings, making Knight Errant a lovely comic to look at and not read again and again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Linkypeux of 11.14.2010

John Henry gave his life against the Inky Poo to prove a man could overcome a machine. Frank Lee Delano fights a losing weekly battle against the internet, so that his sacrificed time might save your own.


Art & Photograpy
Malgosia Bela by Tim Walker (Touch Puppet)
Devon Aoki by Ellen von Unwerth (Touch Puppet)
Charlotte di Calypso by Miles Aldridge (Touch Puppet)
Liu Wen by Sebastian Kim (Touch Puppet)


Barry Munday review by Dustin Rowles (Pajiba)
Let Me In review by Daniel Carlson (Pajiba)

Celebrity Gossip:
Frankie Muniz Is The Bane Of Shia LaBeouf's Existence (dlisted)

Comic Book Blogs:
Nobody’s Favorites: Neutro (Armagideon Time)
Nobody’s Favorites: Man-Monster (Armagideon Time)
Nobody’s Favorites: The Butcher (Armagideon Time)
Nobody’s Favorites: Terrorsmith (Armagideon Time)
Nobody’s Favorites: Scott Fischer (Armagideon Time)
The Champion Bad Guy: Iron Jaw (The Comics Journal)
"And Men Shall Call Him . . . Warlock!" from Marvel Premiere No. #1 (Kingdom Kane)
"The Hounds of Helios!" from Marvel Premiere No. 2, May 1972 (Kingdom Kane)
79: The X-Men #1 (Marvel Genesis)
80: Fantastic Four Annual #1 (Marvel Genesis)
81: Journey into Mystery #96 (Marvel Genesis)
82: The Avengers #1 (Marvel Genesis)
83: Tales to Astonish #48 (Marvel Genesis)
84: Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #3 (Marvel Genesis)
85: Amazing Spider-Man #5 (Marvel Genesis)
86: Strange Tales #113 (Marvel Genesis)
What If... the Hulk Went Berserk? (Siskoid's Blog of Geekery)

NUDITY (Not Safe For Work):
Jessica Alba - GQ - Nov 2010 (3NE)
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley - DT Magazine (Spain) - January 2010 (DeepAtSea)
Candice Swanepoel - Vman Magazine - Winter 2010 x3 (DeepAtSea)
Rosario Dawson - GQ Magazine (Germany) - November 2010 (Egotastic!)
Lily Cole All Freckly and Naked and Birthday Wishy All-Over (Egotastic!)
Eliana Franco Sexy Topless Photoshoot for La Revolucion (VIDEO) (Egotastic!)
Elizabeth Loaiza Pictures Are Sexing Back to Cali (Egotastic!)
Paz De La Huerta, Purple FW10-11 photographed by Hanna Liden (Finn's Place)
Unknown for American Apparel (Finn's Place)
Bare Back to the Future (The Scandy Factory)
Portraits by Eric Ray Davidson (Touch Puppet)
Lara Stone by Steven Klein (Touch Puppet)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday Is About Dollar Dames For All I Care #88

Image Firsts: Dead@17 #1
Image Firsts: Hack/Slash #1
Lady Death Premiere
Mata Hari #0 (2010)
Warlord of Mars #1 (2010)

Image Firsts: Dead@17 #1 (Image, 2003/2010, $1.00)
Once again, I'm in a position to compare Josh Howard's Dead@17 unfavorably against Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash. Howard draws in a cartoonish style that completely neutralizes the horror element while still managing to sexualize the murder of a teenage girl. The characters are uninvolving stock caricatures, the genre tropes familiar, and I fail to see the appeal in Buffy meets lonelygirl15.

Image Firsts: Hack/Slash (Image, 2010, $1.00)
I maybe should have been pissed when I realized this book featured the same material as Hack/Slash: New Reader Halloween Treat #1, which itself reprinted segments from Euthenized and Gross Anatomy. However, I'm not sure where my copy is, and I enjoyed the material more the second time than the first (there were extraneous spoilery elements that irked me then, plus I'd paid $3.50.) I did finally buy a trade paperback collection, My First Maniac, that I hopefully won't read and wait a year to review, as is often the case...

Lady Death Premiere (Boundless, 2010, Free)
I'm not entirely sure why Avatar felt the need to create a separate publishing entity to release a Lady Death comic. There's still gore, cleavage 'o plenty, and at least one naked ass, which posits it on the welcoming end of immature mature readership. I guess when your company is known for incestuous rape and the devouring of entrails in grisly detail, there might be concern that might overshadow more mainstream product. 

Lady Death is still written by Brian Pulido as a better than average '80s fantasy title with surprisingly good art. Marcelo Mueller bridges the stylistic gap between two of the character's best known artists, Steven Hughes and Ivan Reis, so expect him to be stolen by a major publisher in the relatively near future. Somebody's going to have to draw that Aquaman ongoing series after Brightest Day wraps. The twelve page story establishes a new nemesis and status quo, and is trailed by three pin-ups intended for future covers by Juan Jose Ryp (already drawing a Wolverine book for Marvel,) Richard Ortiz, and Matt Martin (who draws a damned fine athletic backside.) I've never been a big Lady Death supporter, but it does my heart good that she and Vampirella are still headliners at small companies, instead of wasting away in a big company file drawer.

Mata Hari #0 (Radical, 2010, $1.00)
I talk a lot of shit about Radical Publishing, and I do think they ruin Roy Allan Martinez's art by having Drazenka Kimpel paint over it like an old Innovation adaptation, but Mata Hari still comes across well. Obviously, the infamous entertainer/spy presents a rich vein for fiction, and writer Rich Wilkes takes pleasure in weaving contestable fact with fiction. As usual, the book abruptly stops with narrative interuptus, and I'm not won over to such a degree as to pay twenty bucks for the hardcover graphic novel, but I got my buck's worth at the taste.

Lady Death Premiere (Boundless, 2010, Free)
I also talk a lot of shit about Dynamite Entertainment, but their take on Edgar Rice Buroughs' John Carter starts off strong. I've been impressed with what little I've read from Arvid Nelson, and his take on Carter by way of '70s Clint Eastwood sells the badass. Stephen Sadowski, who I always found off-putting on super-heroes, seems far more in his element on a western. After the first dozen pages, both creators stumble in the transition to Mars. Sad's Martian youths look like cloned Ambush Bugs, while Nelson doesn't have much to offer amidst the sparse dialogue and barbarism on display in the back ten. A two page prose piece tries to pick up the slack, but momentum had been lost. Again, this teaser is stronger than average, and I'd be willing to try another, but not at full price.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #87

Brightest Day #11-12
Chaos War #1
Knight & Squire #1
R.E.B.E.L.S. #21 (2010)

Brightest Day #11-12 (DC, 2010, $2.99)
Are we halfway through yet? No? Fuck.

Deathstorm had better be some sort of '90s metacommentary (like Superboy Prime spoke to entitled fanboys,) because he's cheesy and irritating even in small doses. Scott Clark's art on the Firestorm feature continues to be bad, still employing low rent computer effects, now juxtaposed with poor man's Jae Lee styling. Especially disappointing is a full page money shot of Firestorm trying to be a badass, shouting his own logo '80s logo. Alex Ross lives for that kind of shot, but the execution is utter saltpeter. What isn't in awkward silhouette is chicken-scratch buried under cornball digital fire effects. The best part is a two-page satirical homage to an iconic image from last year. There's also a nice bit in the latter issue where Jason tries to sell Ronnie (and readers) on Firestorm's past glory, even if comparing rogues galleries with Batman and the Flash raises snickers.

Meanwhile, Aquaman's feature continues to be so damned pretty, but it feels like the Sea King has been fighting Black Manta for three months straight. It doesn't help that when Manta's sissybitch dartpoon finally connects with human flesh, it's Aquaman's, managing to pierce body armor when bullets were bouncing off the hero's brow months back.

D'Kay D'Razz? Fucking hell, Martian Manhunter-- can't you ever catch a break? Commander Blanx was silly as it was, and you were really pushing it with Ma'alefa'ak, but D'Kay makes Bel Juz look like Peter O'Toole. As if that wasn't laying it on thick enough, she's got the Martian equivalent of Night of the Hunter tats ('tho bitch stole her's from Sideshow Bob, guaranteed) offers a plate of Oreos at a formal dinner, plus plays the "alienated hero," "widower" and "I had your origin before you" cards? Once again, we have the Villain Sue trying much too hard to win reader approval. Worse, this feels so much like a retread of Ostrander/Mandrake, from the otherwise good artist who doesn't quite work on the character (Pat Gleason) to the writer who is set on stuffing J'Onn J'Onzz into ill-fitting molds (Peter Tomasi.)

Well, at least Deadman & Dove only polluted one page this month.

Chaos War #1 (Marvel, 2010, $3.99)
You know how DC sometimes has those "other" crossovers. Like, they decide to have one generated out of storylines from Wonder Woman or the New Gods, and nobody cares? Twenty years later, you're like, oh yeah, Genesis happened. What was that about again? Someone may try to tell you, but you kind of get lost in thought on a tangent partway through. "An event comic drawn by Cynthia Martin that was supposed to be buoyed by pin-ups from a very green Chris Spouse? Didn't that go up again The Infinity Gauntlet? Ouch."

So, yeah, Chaos War. It starts with King Chaos (really) tearing out Nightmare's heart and lopping off his head. That should get those five thousand Dr. Strange fans' blood pumping. It isn't like you could ever bring back Nightmare, who is like a more omnipotent Freddy Krueger. That'll take.

Hey, Hercules is back. From the dead or something. Yeah, something else, but like that. He's a lot more powerful and crazy now, so he starts punching out pantheons like in Lobo's Back. By the way, when the fuck is Luke Cage going to put on a fucking costume and not just be the average looking black guy with a speaking part? You know, I'm still not wild about Bucky Barnes as Captain America, but Steve Rogers' spy suit isn't too bad. The guns bother me a lot, though.

Where was I? The crossover! Right. The dialogue is actually cute, but I don't see where people who didn't read Incredible Hercules would get much out of this. Khoi Pham's art is nice, recalling guys like Mike Kaluta and Charles Vess, which most definitely is high praise. There's also a back-up story about some stuff Hercules got up to between now and his series getting canceled. Excited yet?

Knight & Squire #1 (DC, 2010, $2.99)
That was a disappointment. I'm into international heroes, so a British Batman with a Harley Quinn lookalike sidekick held some appeal for me. I also dug glimpses of the pair in JLA Classified and elsewhere. However, like Phonogram, this issue totally alienated me by being so exclusively British that it seemed more like a book length in-joke/private party than an accessible story.

Limeys love their pubs, so the whole thing is set in a bar full of super-heroes and villains magically barred from throwing down. A P.O.V. character is introduced to allow Squire to give a Moore/Ellis-style truncated pseudo-history, except the new creations are all rather stupid. When you get down to evil Ruttles analogues and heroes based on Benny Hill skits, you've scrapped through the bottom of the barrel to the floor.

Remember the part about the "magical bar," and how half the book is about how all these truces were signed under its protection. Do you see the "twist" coming, by which I mean an Alanis Morissette more than a Shyamalan, because it's totally going to rain on your wedding day?

Knight is in this a little bit, but he's as chatty as modern Batman with more of a Silver Age temperament, which is to say he's boring. The British Joker gets the best lines, which aren't worth repeating, and his personality runs its course within the one issue. The art's okay, and the package is inoffensive, but I can't see what possessed an editor to approve something so aggressively niche.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #21 (DC, 2010, $2.99)
This one was alright, offering an origin for an Okaaran rookie Green Lantern and casting Lobo in an unusually positive light. Vril Dox works his angles, Bedard's script does the same, and I continue to enjoy Claude St. Aubin's art. My only complaint is the two page spread featuring ten L.E.G.I.O.N. heroes, including four that were presented as co-stars early on, who have spent most of the series in bit parts or cameos. Outside of Dox, the title never seems content with its cast, constantly introducing new faces to be ignored within a few months.


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