Friday, December 30, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - January 5, 2006:

Batman And The Monster Men #3 (Matt Wagner's re-invention of an early Batman story is probably the best Batman story I've read in several years)
Exterminators #1 (Deeply, deeply fucked up story of exterminators with interesting character stuff and gorgeous art from Tony Moore. I'm not sure how sustainable the whole thing is, but it's an interesting first issue)
Jonah Hex #3 (Great single-issue storytelling from Palmiotti & Gray, true to the '70s Jonah Hex stuff but with a modern feel and terrific art by Luke Ross - This book is better than expected, one of DC's best new books)
Team Zero #2 (Solid if formulaic World War II actioner from Chuck Dixon and Doug Mahnke)

Down #3 (The change from Tony Harris to Cully Hamner in issue two robbed me of a lot of my initial enthusiasm, but I'm still interested in seeing how it ends)
Essential Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe Vol. 1 Tp (Still haven't decided whether or not I'm picking this up, but I'm glad Marvel is reprinting it at any rate)
Godland #6
Gotham Central #39
Marlene #1 (One-shot mystery by Peter Snejbjerg. Curious to see how his writing is, because I know his art is great)
Marvel Team-up #16 (Part two of the "Legion of Losers" story. This is still not up to Kirkman's standards on Invincible or Walking Dead, but it's become more enjoyable)
Marvel Zombies #2 (First issue was twisted fun. Another one I don't know how it'll sustain itself for the entire length of the series, but I'm curious to find out)
Sable & Fortune #1 (Two of my favorite C-list Marvel characters. I'm surprised to even see this published, but interested to see it)
Seven Soldiers Frankenstein #2
Y The Last Man #41
NYC 2123:
I'm an old school guy at heart, and I still like to hold a book in my hands rather than read it digitally. But one of my absolute favorite comics right now doesn't exist in paper form. It's called NYC2123, and it's probably the best cyberpunk comic ever done. Issue four just came out, and reveals that the previous three seemingly self-contained stories are in fact all lead-ins to a larger, and very interesting, story arc, with two more issues left to wrap up.

NYC 2123 is totally free. You can read it on the web or download it for PSP, and it reads great on PSP. In fact, if Marvel, DC or one of the other big companies was to wise up and try online distribution of some of their comics, they could do worse than going to these guys, handing them a boatload of cash, and getting them to convert some comics into panel-to-panel PSP versions. I'm kind of hoping for a collected print version when all is said and done, which I'll happily shell out cash for, but for right now I'm really enjoying having the books to read on my PSP.

Definitely check NYC 2123 out. Like I said, it's totally free, and it is a fantastic read.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays:
Hope everyone is having a safe, relaxing, fun (or at least one of the three) holiday. And if you're not celebrating Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, etc., then I hope y'all are having a good weekend.

More from me next year.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - December 21, 2005:
Changing this up a little bit. If the book I'm mentioning is an issue of an ongoing series and I don't have anything new to offer, I'll just tag it onto the list as an indication that I'm reading and enjoying it, but don't have anything more specific than that to say.

Light Brigade Tp (World War II supernatural thriller with gorgeous art by Peter Snejbjerg)
Runaways #11 (Some very fun moments in this one, including a great bluff by Chase)
Testament #1 (Very intriguing first issue, terrific art by Liam Sharp)

Birds Of Prey #89
Conan #23 (New storyline, following in the footsteps of "Tower of the Elephant")
Dracula Vs King Arthur #3
Girls #8
Image First Tp (Cheapie trade with first issues of some of Image's books, ala the Vertigo First Offenses trades)
Intimidators #1 ('60s superhero hooks up with Authority-esque team. Hilarity and mayhem ensues. Writing by Ninety Candles' Neil Kleid)
Manhunter #17 (After reading the trade, I read the back issues after the trade and now I'm caught up and now I'm kind of digging this book)
Owly Vol 3 Flying Lessons Tp (Yay! More Owly! What I'm looking forward to most this week)
Pvp #21
Revisionary #2 (First issue was pretty good, curious to see where it goes from here)
Shotgun Wedding #1 (Marc Bryant's long-delayed Speakeasy book about Romeo & Juliet set as a feud between mob families)
Spellgame #2 (Speaking of long-delayed Speakeasy books... finally issue two of this book! Really enjoyed the first issue)
Star Wars Empire #38 (Both Empire and Republic have been great lately, going out strong)
Star Wars Republic #80
Ultimate Wolverine Vs Hulk #1 (I just can't imagine it living up to the hype, but I love Lost and Lindelof's writing so I have to check it out)
Wimbledon Green Hc (New graphic novel by Seth. Also highly anticipated.)
X-men Deadly Genesis #2 (Kind of enjoyed the first issue, a blend of horror, superheroes and mystery. Like Brubaker's Cap, I'm not entirely sure I like it as a fan of the Marvel Universe, but stepping back and looking at is as a more unbiased comic book fan, it's good writing)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - December 14, 2005:

100 Bullets #67 (I'm having a hard time keeping up with the plot in single issues, but the mood and style is still there)
Amazing Joy Buzzards Vol 2 #3 (Rock and roll cartoon craziness continues)
DMZ #2 (Good "tour of the city" second issue following up on an excellent first issue)
Fables #44 (Great surprises and plot twists, this book keeps getting better and better. Quite possibly my favorite comic running right now)
Glx-mas Special (I wasn't completely crazy about the GLA miniseries (traded this week), but this special is kind of fun, and plays off the mini, so I may need to give it another shot)
Gravity Big City Super Hero Digest (Loved this new collegiate hero entry into the Marvel Universe though. Highly recommended digest)
Nothing Better #2 (Second issue of Tyler Page's college drama/humor series. Review HERE)
Smoke Vol 1 Tp (Really enjoyed this dark future actioner by Alex De Campi and Igor Kordey... and IDW trades are always swanky)
Temporary Vol 1 Tp (Dug the four issues of quirky stories of an office temp in weird jobs that are collected here as well)
Villains United Tp (I loved this series for five issues... and was really disappointed in some aspects of the ending. It's a super heavy week for me with trades anyway, so I will probably wind up giving it a pass)
X-factor #1 (Kind of fun, in the same vein as Peter David's Madrox mini. Has potential)

Bad Planet #1 (Curious to see this action/sci-fi series, cowritten by Steve Niles and Tom Jane)
Best Of The Spirit Tp (My chance to finally own some Spirit stories, since the archives were too pricey for me)
Fantastic Four Visionaries John Byrne Vol 5 Tp (I think I might be getting my fill of Byrne's FF, but I'll probably pick this one up and might keep going until the end, if I enjoy it)
Further Adventures Of One Page Filler Man Gn (Mahfood at his funniest, at least in the doses I've sampled)
Fused One Shot (I enjoyed the first Fused mini, and though the constantly changing artists sapped a lot of my enthusiasm and the second mini was not as strong, I'm still interested in seeing what Niles is doing with the character)
Hawaiian Dick The Last Resort #3 (Holy crap! With this, Samurai: Heaven & Earth #5 and Secret War Book Five all coming out this week after long, long delays... the apocalypse isn't coming right before Christmas, is it?)
Local #2 (Great first issue... second one is sure to be as good or better)
Noble Causes #15 (Really enjoying the new life that a sinister family of "anti-Nobles" has added to this book)
What If Wolverine (Like the concept of historically displaced heroes in the Marvel Universe. Not super excited about '30s gangster Wolverine, but curious at least)
Off My Routine:
On Friday, I went in for jury duty, and was dismissed along with everybody else after about half an hour. So with my Friday unusually free (I usually work), my wife and I went Christmas shopping for our daughter and then went to see Chronicles of Narnia. I loved it. Haven't read the book, although I did see the animated version when I was a kid, although most of that hadn't stuck with me either, so it was as new to me as Lord of the Rings was when I saw that. Now I'm curious to read the Narnia books, but I'm not sure I've really got the time or the inclination to pick them up or just wait for the movies at this point. We'll see, I guess.

Anyway, this day off wound up being a busier Friday than usual (I was only home for about 15 minutes all day) and I'm working at the store on Saturday and Sunday as well as running some errands on Monday, so it was a pretty busy weekend. The upshot of this is that there will be no reviews from me on Fourth Rail this week, although I will have a new Recommended Reading on Friday (and an update for the Fables Recommendation with the newest issue).

This seems as good a time as any to mention my planned holiday schedule for Fourth Rail. My guess at this point is that I'll have a First Issue Spotlight the week of the 18th (although I'll be out of town that weekend doing Christmas stuff with my wife's family, so it probably won't go up until Wednesday night or Thursday morning) and then I probably won't have any new reviews until next year. I just feel like I need a break, so I'm taking one. I will more than likely still have a new Recommended Reading every Friday, but I might wind up taking a break from those on Friday the 23rd and Friday the 30th as well, depending on how busy my holiday season actually is.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

This link is to Xeni Jardin of Boing-Boing interviewing my favorite director, Steven Soderbergh. Short, but good.

Monday, December 05, 2005

I Lost:
Well, my dreams of Celebrity Poker Showdown-hood are over. The final tournament started at 8 PM last night, and I was out by 8:30. I got horrendously bad cards, and when I finally got a good pocket pair (queens), I went up against two people who went all in (both had shorter stacks than me, so I suspected both had weaker hands)... one had pocket kings, the other drew a straight on the river, and that took over half my remaining chips. From there, with my cards still coming pretty weak, it was pretty much a given that I wasn't gonna make it to the final table.

I could have played a little tighter, but overall I think I played as well as I could with the cards I got. I went out somewhere in the 220s out of 319 players total. Ah, well... I guess it's back to my backup plan: Get a recurring role on a sitcom or drama at one of the big four networks. ;)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Evil, Inc. = Kickass webcomic:
I don't review webcomics, just because I don't even have the time to keep up with all the print comics I receive, but that doesn't mean I don't read them and, on occasion, find new ones. I just spent the last hour or so reading Evil Inc. by Brad Guigar and it is *fantastic*. Very funny, great characters, great high concept (behind the scenes at a supervillain corporation) and art that reminds me of Aaron Williams crossed with Garry Trudeau. Really great stuff, and well worth a read.

I'm also digging PVP, Penny Arcade, The Perry Bible Fellowship and Girls With Slingshots, just for the record.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Comics Stuff - Monthly Update for November
This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, listing my Current Favorite Monthly Titles, which is my counterpart to Current Favorite TV series, as well as my five favorite first issues of the month and my ten favorite graphic novel reads of the month.

A couple things of note in how I organize these things, for those who care. These listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. I've narrowed it down to five or ten, beyond that is further narrowing of which one I liked best than I want to do on a monthly basis, at least right now. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. And thirdly, I was relatively strict on the monthly series, in that it has to be a series that is solicited and actually printed monthly (for the most part, at least), and it has to be either ongoing or a long limited series (at least 30 issues) instead of a limited series. This is primarily why, for example, Age of Bronze (irregular schedule), True Story Swear to God (irregular schedule) and The Middle Man (limited series) didn't make the list. Of course, both The Goon and Walking Dead are not really as monthly as they mean to be, but hey, my blog, my rules.

In each case, I've provided a link for the listing, usually to one of my reviews (for further info on my opinion), but in the case of the monthly books and books I haven't reviewed, I've provided links to official publisher or creator sites or the best source of info I could find relatively easily. Oh, and the numbers in parentheses on the monthly titles is their latest ranking on the Diamond Top 300. Usually that's for the October Top 300, but some books (like Ex Machina) didn't have a new issue in that month, so the rating is a month old.

Finally, the updates are for the month of November... December just barely started. So all my favorites will be anywhere from a week to a full month old, but these are meant to be sort of "standing" preferences anyway.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - December 7, 2005:

Batman And The Monster Men #2 (If you've been disappointed with the campy, over-the-top All Star Batman, I'd especially recommend Matt Wagner's Batman tale, much more close in tone to Batman: Year One with an added touch of superhero flavor and great art)
Demo Collection Tp (Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan's great series of 12 one-shot tales collected in one volume)
Jonah Hex #2 (Solid second issue of the episodic western)
Looking Glass Wars Hatter M #1 (A dark take on Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter... review HERE)
Marvel Team-up #15 (Kind of fun. Kirkman puts many of the "morts" of the Marvel Universe front and center with a clever gimmick... too bad that the stories are getting better after Scott Kolins departed on art)
Marvel Zombies #1 (Twisted and funny... it's not a masterpiece or anything, but it is darkly fun for fans of horror/comedy)
New Warriors #6 (Solid conclusion to the entertaining miniseries)
Team Zero #1 (Surprisingly good first issue of a new action-oriented military miniseries... G.I. Joe fans should check this out)
Vimanarama Tp (I'm still not sure I liked it that much, but it's Morrison and Bond, and there's too much neat stuff not to pick up the trade)
What If Captain America (Sort of an OK story, but the new framing device and the idea of a parallel world with time-displaced Marvel heroes has real potential)
Y The Last Man #40 (More Y... what more can I say at this point?)

Age Of Bronze #22 (Wow, that was pretty quick... guess I'll have to update the Recommended Reading)
Down #2 (Really enjoyed the first issue of this crime stuff... Harris's work looks great with these colors)
Essential Spider-Woman Vol 1 Tp (The only real benefit of New Avengers to me is a resurgence for Spider-Woman, a character I've always kind of liked despite having read virtually zero stories with her in them)
Image Comics Holiday Special 2005 (Real solid line-up of talent for Image's holiday special)
Jla Classified Cold Steel #1 (Chris Moeller returns with a Justice League mecha story... curious to see how this one comes out)
Lost Squad #2 (First issue had good art, solid if predictable storytelling... I'll see what the second issue has to offer)
Maze Agency #1 (Never read this back in the day, but I'm curious to see what it's like)
Nat Turner #2 (Finally! Kyle Baker's beautiful and moving opus about the leader of a failed slave revolt gets underway once more)
Penny Arcade 1x 25 Cents (Penny Arcade = funny. And for 25 cents, you can't go wrong)
Robotika #1 (Art on this one looked gorgeous)
Rock N Roll One Shot (Ditto for this)
Seven Soldiers Mister Miracle #2 (Not even sure who's doing art for this one, and Mister Miracle #1 was the most disappointing Seven Soldiers for me so far, but... I've got to see this through to see if Morrison pulls it out in the end)
Surrogates #3 (The third issue of the fantastic speculative science fiction miniseries from Top Shelf)
Tails #1 (Animal activists in love!)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Music to Check Out:
My musical tastes are much less considered, more sprawling and yeah, probably worse than my tastes in comics, television, movies, etc... but I know what I like. And I really like what I've heard of The Metasciences, which I found through Warren Ellis's Apparat podcast.

You can download the whole album from their myspace page.

And any comics fan who doesn't have "Four Color Love Story" by the Metasciences in their collection is really, really, really missing out.