Friday, June 29, 2012

Book of the Week

Well hello fellow comic fans. Thanks for joining me again in this weekly celebration of comic goodness. Despite how it seems, the world of comics isn't always about controversy. We do enjoy our books greatly and that's what we're here to do right now.

Finding a home in my collection are Amazing Spider-Man #688, Spider-Men #2, Wolverine & the X-Men #12, X-Men Legacy #269, X-Men #31, Gears of War #24 (final issue), I Vampire #10, Justice League #10, Witchblade #157, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #11. I didn't get my hands on the Fatale Vol. 1 TPB, but it's okay. Overall, it was a good week of releases.

But of course only one book can come out on top. And surprisingly, it's a DC book. I never thought I would've saw that. It's not that I hate DC. Obviously, I don't or I wouldn't spend my dollars on them. But their books don't always connect with me as Marvel and Image comics do. I know how that may sound, so I'll put it out there that I don't read them expecting them to be of lesser quality than other books. I give all books their fair shot. That even included New 52 Action Comics and Superman. Both of which turned out to be trash, but you know, I gave them their chance.

Onto a more positive note, my book of the week is I, Vampire #10. Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino's series is, in my opinion, one of the better books post-relaunch. Let's see what "Waiting for the end of the World" has in store for readers.

In the previous issue, readers were left with two notes. One of those is Andrew taking on anyone who would challenge his control. Who took that challenge? Mary of course. The second of those points is the introduction of the Van Helsings. Whom, according to the cover of this book, are the ultimate vampire killers. In this issue they descend upon Andrew, Mary, and their band of loyal bloodsucking followers.

At one point in the book, Sorrentino opens up Andrew and Mary's fight and he shows out. It's a beautiful two-page spread where Mary has transformed into a giant beast with Andrew still looking like well, Andrew. Cool glasses and all. But that's not all. In the background, the pages are broken up into 20 panels showing the flow of the fight. While some of it obstructed because of the figures in the foreground, it's still something to behold. His work is complimented with Marcelo Maiolo colors giving it a darker vibe. They're a good pair, especially fitting for this book.

I, Vampire has a lot of good qualities. At the top of the list for this particular issue is the discussion of morality between the Professor Troughton and the leader of the Van Helsings. The talk of morality revolves around Andrew and Mary's "struggle" for power and the Van Helsings basically murdering anyone getting in the way of their mission.

If you haven't been reading I, Vampire, you should check it out. It's only getting better and the cliff-hanger could lead to disaster for our protagonists. So my friends, that's my book of the week. I'm curious to see what other people thought of this book as well as what your personal pick of the week. Let me know and of course thanks for looking.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cover of the Week

Happy New Comic Day! It's a beautiful day. And of course that means we should enjoy our comics even more, right? HA! It was a trick question friends. We're gonna love our comics regardless of the weather.

Now let's get to the art. Browsing this weeks releases, several books caught my eye. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #11 by Dan Duncan and I, Vampire #10 by Clayton Crain are two easy runner-ups. But in the end, a newcomer emerged victorious. So get your clap emoticons ready as we welcome the Hypernaturals #1 from Boom Studios to the ring of winners.

I like what Francesco Mattina did with this cover for several reasons. One of them is the use of two of my favorite colors, blue and purple. I don't really know what's going on in the background with the colors, but they almost look like moons. But don't quote me on that. Whatever they are, they look good. Moving onto the three characters, I like the vibe they give off. It's dark, mysterious, and possibly dangerous. To really make it pop, Mattina places them in front a bright white light. Good looking piece. I wonder how it reads.

Did anyone pre-order this book? Or perhaps plan to pick it up if your shop has it? I actually wish I would've pre-ordered it, I wouldn't mind checking it out. I might try and order it today. Happy reading everyone.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book of the Week

Welcome back comic fans. This post is going up later than usual, but blame it on the internets. Okay, just blame me. But you'll forgive me when you read my pick of the week. But first I'll tell you this was a big week of releases for me. I had 14 books waiting for me. Last week I had 10. I can't even say I'm complaining, because I like to read. But it definitely puts a hit in my wallet.

For the week I picked up: Astonishing X-Men #51, Avengers vs. X-Men #6, Avenging Spider-Man #8, Daredevil #14, Invincible Iron Man #519, New Avengers #27, Secret Avengers #28, Uncanny X-Men #14, Winter Soldier #7, Batwoman #10, Birds of Prey #10, Green Lantern Corps #10, Supergirl #10, and Ghostbusters #10. I should have had Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow #14, but it wasn't ordered. It'll be coming in soon though. Two trades I ordered came in this week too and they were Walking Dead vol. 15 and 30 Days of Night vol. 1 from the current ongoing.

When I started reading my books for the week, a feeling of bad mojo came over me because I wasn't enjoying much of what I was reading. I still had a few more to go but it just wasn't looking good. Thank the comic gods that it turned around. It's not a good sign when you're reading through 14 books and a majority of them are no good. "Zero fun sir" for those familiar with Remember the Titans.

One of those books that changed the mood is Winter Soldier #7. You should be reading this book. I like it because it deals with espionage and old war stuff. That's just fun stuff all around. If it deals with spies, secret agents, covert ops and other related subjects, I'm likely to check it out. I wish there were more comics in the genre. Perhaps there are, I should research this. I'll gladly take a look at any recommendations any of you have.

Back to Bucky. I like what Ed Brubaker has been doing with him in this series. In part two of "Broken Arrow," Barnes and Black Widow are tracking down Leo Novokov. This fella is the third soldier Barnes trained way back. He was placed in stasis to be awaken at a later date when his skills would be put to use. That date never came. And let's just say he isn't happy about that and the world he's rejoined. But that certainly hasn't stopped him from utilizing those deadly skills. He's left a trail of blood that's led to a former Soviet scientist.

This is where this issue comes in. Our favorite former Soviet operatives catch up with Leo and it's not all fun and games. But I can't spoil it because you should just read it. I'll just say it has that spy feel along with some action, flashbacks, and an ending which leaves readers asking more questions about Leo's plans.

Michael Lark's visuals are complimented by inkers Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano and colorist Bettie Breitweiser. Together, they set a nice visual tone that works well with this book. There are some flashback sequences where Lark changes his layout and it works to distinguish them from present events. Breitweiser adds a different touch here as her black, white, and gray are topped off with the warmer colors: brown, red, and orange.

Winter Soldier is a fun book and I definitely recommend readers to check it out. I read a ton of books and it's definitely one of the better ones hitting shelves each month.

Thoughts on this issue? Have another book in mind? Let me know. Happy reading everyone.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cover of the Week

Happy New Comic Day! Another day of new comics is upon us. What's everyone picking up? I'm looking at about 15 books. And you know what that means? I should have some damn good reading ahead of me. Unless they're all terrible. But come on, does that ever happen? No, my friend, it doesn't.

There are a few comics that could've been potential winners had my choice not been released today. That's not to say they didn't have a chance, but this pick means so much. If you follow me on twitter or just happen to know me, you probably could have predicted that my cover of the week belongs to Astonishing X-Men #51.

I picked this book because of what it means for comics and society. I'm an advocate for the LGBTQ community and fully endorse same-sex marriage. Being a fan of Northstar didn't hurt either. To celebrate his nuptials, Dustin Weaver gives us a wrap-around cover featuring members of the X-Men and Alpha Flight along with some other people in the park. It's a great day for Northstar and Kyle.

Here's one for social justice and equality. What do you think? Thanks for looking comic fans.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book of the Week

Welcome back comic book fans. The world of comics has been heating up lately with so many controversies popping up. We're going to get away from all that briefly and celebrate my book of the week.

I figured I'd start listing the books I read each week so you'll have an idea of my reading tastes as well as the weekly contestants. For the week of June 13th I read: Amazing Spider-Man #687, Avengers #27, AvX: VS #3, Fantastic Four #607 (yes, you read that right, I picked up a F4 book), Spider-Men #1, X-Men Legacy 268, X-Men 30, Batman 10, Cobra #14, and The Strain #5. I would have read Dancer #2, but I was unable to get a copy of it.

This was definitely a good week's worth of reading. As I was reading them, it was good book after good book. I had that feeling I get, quite often to be honest, when I'm reading a good book and this great feeling of fanboyism hits me and I say to myself "damn I love comic books." It was sweet...until I got to Avengers and The Strain. Neither book did anything for me. I have one question regarding this issue of Avengers, isn't this the Secret Avengers team? It's a not a secret anymore, they've invaded the main book and did not entertain me. And reading the Strain made me question my wanting to read the rest of the series. So it served a purpose in that I suppose. Back to good books.

My runner-up for the week is definitely Cobra. An all around good book. If you aren't reading it, I recommend it. As for the winner, it's a book from a series I was starting to lose faith in up until 2-3 months ago. Say hello to my book of the week: X-Men Legacy #268.

One quick note: even though it does carry the AvX banner and displays the Phoenix Force Five (or whatever Marvel's newest radio sensation is called) on the cover, the story doesn't deal with that beyond the first two pages. Now usually, I'm quick to say "this issue doesn't have anything to do with the event." Well I can still say it here, but in this case, it's not a complaint.

I've talked about how X-Men Legacy hasn't been that great until recent issues. The beginning of Christos Gage's run did bring Exodus back into the spotlight. I've always been a fan of Bennet du Paris. After that, we got Weapon Omega and I just wasn't feeling the book. But when AvX hit, Gage was ready to roll. So now to this book.

Why do I like this book?

I like this because we get a personal story with Frenzy in the spotlight. She hasn't been around for too long and we've never known much about her past. Here's a character whom for most her existence was a baddie in opposition to her current teammates. She's since transitioned to being an X-Men and while her attitude can sometimes reflect her past, you can sense her heroic side.

Her connection to a villager during her mission here is expertly told through Gage's writing and the work of the art team: David Baldeon, Jordi Tarragona, and Brian Reber. The story carries multiple emotions including rage and Baldeon handles them well. They come attached to various issues of social justice, which let's be honest, aren't easy issues to tackle.

One visual note: as I was reading I noticed how many panels Baldeon had Frenzy looked up and to her right. I don't see there being anything really wrong with that though. It was just something I couldn't help but notice and figured I'd point out.

If you can, I'd recommend the previous two issues of this series as well as this one. If you did read this, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Other comments welcome as well. Happy reading.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cobra #14 Review

IDW is running two different G.I. Joe continuities across four books. That may confuse people, especially considering two of the books carry the G.I. Joe title. One series is G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero penned by Mr. G.I. Joe himself, Larry Hama. This series picks up where the original Marvel run ended. The other timeline is comprised of G.I. Joe, Cobra, and Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow. To further help readers, read the latter grouping. The story and art outdo the former. But I have hope Hama's book will pick back up.

Mike Costa, Antonio Fuso, Werther Dell'Edera, and Arianna Florean are guiding the Cobra title which sees Flint leading a small team of Joes tasked with taking down Cobra from an intelligence angle. Flint's team consists of Lady Jaye, Chameleon, Firewall, Clockspring, and Ronin. An interesting note is that this team is primarily female. Their base of operations: a Las Vegas casino. That's classic right there. I like it. It's unexpected and Costa makes it work.

In this issue, the Joes learn more about the former Cobra Commander's son from Tomax. The remaining half of the Crimson Guard Twins (two of my favorite characters in the Joeverse; long list) is no longer a part of the Cobra Command Structure due to their recent shake-ups in leadership. Flint doesn't really trust Tomax (rightfully so) and readers will see he has another source for information. This second character is another unemployed former Cobra operative.

The Joes make plans to catch up with the son of Cobra Commander. But they don't know who else is heading towards that same target. A fan-favorite Cobra operative makes an appearance. Here's a character I haven't seen in action in several years. And no, I won't spoil it. Well only if you really want to know.

I like the direction of this book and look forward to the next issue. Costa's strong writing shows well through his character interaction and the story as a whole. Visually, Fuso, Dell'Edera, and Florean, produced a book that's not overly flashly, but it gets the job done. The coloring carries a flatter tone as well. These elements work well and give it that G.I. Joe look.

I like this series and Cobra #14 is definitely worth a read. The overall set-up on this side of the Joeverse is the Joes are still suffering from a recent loss at the hands of Cobra. As a result of that, their budget is cut and Hawk was relieved from duty. The new Cobra Commander and the organization as a whole are doing big things and it doesn't appear is though they'll be easily stopped.

The Strain #5 Review

Dark Horse's The Strain returns from hiatus after issue #4. David Lapham, Mike Huddleston, and Dan Jackson continue with their adaptation of Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan's novels. Read on to find out if you should jump back on board.

Most of Lapham's tale centers on flashbacks of Abraham's time at a death camp in Treblinka in 1942. We do see Abe at his current state, but only in the opening and ending of the book. His time at this location is rather insignificant except for his interaction with a rather important figure of the series. If you're reading this book, I'm sure you can guess quite easily.

The art serves the horror book well. Huddleston and Jackson's work does well presenting the darker vibe. The use of shadows play a big part in that. Jackson uses very few colors in showing the moments from the war. It's mostly black and white with a small mix of pale blue. Outside of that, we see some royal blue during some of the night scenes as well as red for the blood and the nazi wristbands.

This series is losing favor with me. Nothing here serves to move this 11 issue series forward. There's been a lot of build-up to an end which may not deliver. I wouldn't recommend this issue to anyone just interested in the series. If you're even slightly interested, I would suggest waiting for the collected edition. But you won't be missing anything if you skip the story entirely. And I won't hesitate in saying you can make that a strong option.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

SDCC 2012 Exclusives are Amazing!

It's June, so of course means that SDCC, San Diego Comic Con (for the few hypothetical people that don't know what that means) is approaching fast. As with any other convention, only multiplied ten-fold, it brings us, amongst other things, comics, video games, great costumes, and tons of people who share our interests. And yes even movies, television shows, and their stars (blah blah blah). Can you sense my enthusiasm there? I’ve wanted to go for years even though it seems as if the comic presence isn’t given the love it once was. In 2011, I was able to make the trek and I had a ball. Well for the most part anyway.

Of the many aspects that attract people to the show, the toys definitely stand out. The exclusives debuting at SDCC pull in the collectors as well as the career eBayers. Do a search on eBay and you’ll see what I mean. Some of the prices people set these toys at are ridiculous. But I digress. I am quite the toy collector and Hasbro has gotten a nice amount of my dollars over the years. At last year’s show I picked up a few of Hasbro’s goodies including two G.I. Joe Zarana figures, one for me and the other for someone on as well as a Marvel Universe Sentinel (in its’ classic colors). The latter of which made my top toys of 2011 which you can view right here.

Hasbro's had some great exclusives over the years and this year will be no different. They'll have figures from each of the three current lines I collect: G.I. Joe, Marvel Legends, and Marvel Universe. But wait, there's more. Not to be outdone, NECA Toys, will be rolling out a ton of toys for the con. This of course includes my beloved Gears of War. Well it's actually Gears of War 3 at this point. So let's take a look at the figures I would quickly adopt.

I'll kick it off with some G.I. Joe action. Have you ever been jinxed twice? Well you will be. Jinx, who's set to show up in this year's next year's G.I. Joe: Retaliation movie, gets two figures. Both which come on 25th Anniversary styled cardbacks as opposed to the hideous Retaliation packaging. Thank you for not making that mistake Hasbro.

I can't remember which of these is the variant. And I wouldn't know which to open as either could fit in my Joeverse. I might even be tempted to pick up extras to keep moc as I should have done with Zarana in 2011.

Making their return to shelves earlier this year, Marvel Legends made an appearance at the 2011 show and brought with them an exclusive Thor figure wrapped in a Mjolnir designed package. I waited for the retail release though. For San Diego, Hasbro is hitting fans of the line with an Uncanny X-Force 3-pack featuring Archangel, Psylocke and Wolverine. I haven't seen the back of the box, but the front does feature art from Clayton Crain. This set will go great with the Fantomex sitting here. And apparently we're getting a Deadpool soon. That'd be a nice set to have sitting on the bookshelf.

First, just look at Archangel's wings. I have this great appreciation for winged characters. There's just so much design-wise that can be done with them and it's always nice to see each artists' interpretation of someone's, especially Warren's, wings. Hasbro should make this pack in their standard colors. It would be great to have Archangel in his blue and purple costume.

Next up is a set from the Marvel Universe line, which is definitely my favorite line out of these. Here is a Masters of Evil 3-pack featuring Baron Zemo, Radioactive Man, and Tiger Shark. I'm not big fans of the characters, but I definitely appreciate them and I want more villains in my collection. And look at Radioactive Man, who doesn't love a translucent figure? Oh you don't? Well I don't believe it.

And the final toy I want to get my hands on comes from NECA. It's the recently revealed Gears 3 Elite Theron. The Gears figures aren't great on articulation, but I love Gears and I like having the toys. This guy will fit in just nice with the rest of the Locust Horde.

So there we are fellow toy collectors. I really did want to hit SDCC again, but it appears that won't be happening. You might have an idea of how geeked I'd be if I could still go and managed to grab all of these. It looks as if I may have to pay attention to after the con is over. I already have low expectations because I know there will be a mad rush for these and there will undoubtedly be issues with their website from the traffic. As for the Elite Theron, I have no idea. Ebay will likely be my only option for him. I'll figure out something.

What do you think of these? Would any of them have a place in your collection? Let me know. Happy toy hunting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cover of the Week

Happy New Comic Day! Tons of good books (as usual) will be hitting the shelves today. One of those books is The Strain #5 from Dark Horse. This series took a brief break after the previous issue and its' return is welcome. Dancer #2 is in stores as well. Though I don't believe I'll be getting it this week because my shop didn't have #1 and I didn't pre-order this one. But I did ask them to order it for me, so hopefully I'll get it at a later date.

So we have another day of new comics and you know what that means? The internet has been set ablaze yet again by some controversy. But instead of dwelling on that poor art (for the moment at least), let's take a look at some good art. Here is Fantastic Four #607.

I've been a fan of Mike Choi for several years and have met him at several conventions. We have Black Panther sitting on the throne as regal as ever. Shining down upon him from the background is the sun. It's a nice piece with the great king on display.

Black Panther is a great character and one of my favorites. I think I may actually grab this issue today. I don't read FF but have been somewhat curious about what Hickman has done with the team. I have issues of Fantastic Four in my collection, but none of them were current issues. Some of those are from the time when Storm and Black Panther jumped on board. The others are even older with Gladiator making an appearance battling the FF.

Here's hoping FF doesn't suck. Happy reading to you all.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book of the Week

I'll start off by saying it feels good to really be caught up on books. Now I can actually make posts such as these and engage in those ever entertaining twitter conversations we all love. No sarcasm there. Not completely anyway.

Jumping right to the book I'll say it took less than six pages before I was ready to name Thief of Thieves #5 my pick of the week. I wasn't even done reading all of my books and I had another strong contender, but Redmond's tale just happen to stick. I wasn't going to forget about the rest, they all got their fair shot.

I won't give too much away because you should definitely be reading this series, so I'll just briefly point out why you're reading this. As I said before, the first few pages definitely hook you in and you won't be disappointed. That first conversation between Redmond and James is classic. Their friendship and how the scene ends are something special. After that, we see Redmond and Agent Cohen discussing Augustus, Redmond's son. That talk makes an interesting turn when it ties into the another section of the book that deals with Celia forming a group of pros (with a previous ties to each other and Redmond) for a job. Is the next issue here yet?

Okay, so in an odd and probably surprising turn, I do have some problems with the book. The biggest of which is that the only female recruited has no role. And she's a stripper. If there were more to it, it might not be a problem. I have anything against strippers. I've known some and have visited strip clubs on several occasions. My issue with this is, as stated, she's the only female in the group besides Celia, who rounded them all up. That doesn't exactly help out the image of females in comics. And then, all she offers to the conversation is "mmph." The other members of the group each speak multiple times. And they actually use words. But she repeats "mmph" twice, that counts for something, right? You guys have to do better than that.

One other knock against this issue deals with Celia's recruiting effort. She catches up with them either during a job or some familiar setting. Okay, I can chalk up her finding them during a job to possibly her just having some knowledge of their current whereabouts and whatnot. That's all fine. It's the first one which is rather odd. One of the guys is a safecracker. He's using a torch to break into a safe. When he opens it, Celia is waiting inside. Think about that for a second. He had to use a torch to get it open. How did she get in there? If someone has an answer, I'm curious.

Now I know you might be thinking how could this be my book of the week with those two complaints. And that's understandable, but the book overall wins out despite these. It was quite difficult to detail why I picked this book without spoilers. Only you can determine if that effort was successful. I'll go out on a limb and say it was. I still recommend this series. And not because of all the talk about it possibly becoming a television show on AMC. Pick it up because it's a good comic book. So go out and pick it up. As in right now. I'll wait. No, not really, I have video games to play.

So what do you think of my pick? Have a different book in mind? Let me know. Happy reading to you all.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cover of the Week

Happy New Comic Day! It's a beautiful day for comics. But any day is a good day for comics. There are quite a few books I'm looking forward to including both G.I. Joe books, AvX #5, Winter Soldier #6, and Ultimate Spider-Man #11. This might be an average number of releases and I'm perfectly fine with that.

There were several contenders this week, but in the end the winner was pretty obvious. Nothing against the others but come on, it's Spawn #220. Look at it. Yeah, you like it too.

It's been 20 years since Image Comics was formed and it's been a ball. Todd McFarlane is apparently making his return to more creative duties on the title. That includes starting with this nice cover showing Spawn holding up the "20th" sign. This books has been damn good and one of the top titles I look forward to each month. Can't wait to read this.

What do you think about my pick? Let me know. Happy reading to everyone.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Book of the Week

I've wanted to do this feature for some time, but never could because I was behind on so many books due to school and other obligations. But that's a thing of the past. I'm caught up on all but two of the books I'm reading monthly from a list of around 38 titles. This includes bi-monthlies, several books on hiatus, as well as some mini-series, so that number will drop soon.

I just trimmed some fat on the DC side and I'm eyeing a few other books that might not have a home on my pull-list anymore. Yeah I'm looking at you Witchblade. More on that another time though. So there will be plenty of books to choose from each week. That is unless a week worth of books just happens to suck; which would be quite unfortunate.

IDW's Ghostbusters #9 is my pick for book of the week. It's quite fitting that the first entry in this category is from my first love. As a kid, I LOVED the Ghostbusters. I loved the movies and the cartoon. I even had a ton of the toys including the action figures and toy replicas of the items they used.

Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, and Luis Antonio Delgado have the fellas in their technologically superior RV and set them out to travel the country. They first stop in Ohio before settling into Detroit for the rest of the issue. In Fort Wayne, they must deal with the resurgence of Major-General Anthony Wayne; a soldier from the Revolutionary War. Pretty sure he shouldn’t be around. And he's followed by the rest of his dead army. And I’m sure they shouldn’t exist anymore either. Whatever will the Ghostbusters do? I’m doing this spoiler-free, so you’ll have to read it yourself to find out.

This is just a fun book. Burnham has a way with the characters that will appeal to longtime fans of the franchise. His writing will also pull in newer readers. Schoening’s visual storytelling matches the writing well. He’s backed up by Delgado’s bright colors. Luis’ touches on the supernatural entities definitely stand out. If you aren’t reading Ghostbusters, I definitely recommend the series. Who ya gonna call? You’re comic shop of course, to order this series.