Monday, April 30, 2007

Blog Template Update for April

This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. This is basically also my own records of what I read/liked for the inevitable "End of Year" lists I feel like making.

April was a fantastic month for single issue comics. I had a tough time cutting it down to 20, and the books that didn't make the cut included All-Star Superman #7 (a good issue, but one of the weaker ones for the series), Spider-Man Family #2 (great Spidey by Sean McKeever and Kano, good Spidey by Paul Benjamin and Vasilis Lolos), three Kirkman books on the cusp (Invincible #40, Irredeemable Ant-Man #7, Walking Dead #37), Spider-Man Fantastic Four #1 (classic superheroes by Jeff Parker and Mike Wieringo) and the latest issues of Ex Machina and Manhunter, which should give some indication of how good I think my top 20 were this month. Pretty good month for jumping-on points, too. Four issue ones make the list, and three of the others (DMZ, Fables and Runaways) are new story arcs or new creative teams.

In general, Marvel dominates the market right now, and maybe there's a good reason for that. Although I hated Civil War and I don't like a lot of the editorial direction of the universe in general, I still found 7 books that I really liked, three of which are directly Initiative/Civil War fallout-related, all but one of which is in continuity. Contrast that with DC, where there are two books, The Spirit and Brave and the Bold, which is as out of step with DC's modern, grim and gritty continuity as you can get. Marvel may not be exactly where I want them to be, but it seems that DC has really lost its way, and badly needs re-focusing. Of course, DC also offers Vertigo, where 4 of my favorite books come from. Dark Horse has two perennial favorites (BPRD and Usagi) and one new favorite (Whedon's Buffy). Boom! offers up a strong first issue (hope the second arrives in a timely fashion) with Steven Grant's Two Guns #1, and Adhouse offers up awesome in comic book form with Johnny Hiro #1. And Image has a strong single issue in Ellis and Templesmith's Fell and a potentially great new ongoing in Jay Faerber's Dynamo 5.

Graphic novel a day is definitely dead, I just don't have time! In fact, my graphic novel reading for this month was down, such that I had a little trouble putting together a Top 10. Thankfully, a swell of interest in Ben Templesmith's work at the end put three of his graphic novels on there. Interestingly (to me, anyway), there are no Marvel or DC or even Vertigo trades on my list this month. It's all indy, the closest I get to mainstream is one Image book.

As predicted, Andy Barker is D.O.A. Just as well, I guess, as the last few episodes weren't as funny as the first couple. Also unsurprisingly killed on the TV Front, Drive, the new Fox/Tim Minear (a combination that is a synonym for early cancellation), which grudgingly makes my Top 10 (largely based on Nathan Fillion's work) on the basis of the three or four episodes that actually aired. How I Met Your Mother, Studio 60 and Veronica Mars are still M.I.A., but that didn't stop April from being a pretty good month for TV. I fell behind watching Raines and The Riches (although I want to get back to them) and completely gave up on 24 and Black Donnellys (before NBC did). 30 Rock had a fantastic two-part season finale, and here's hoping that Alec Baldwin's personal issues won't crash the show next season (it's certainly crashed my previously high opinion of the man). Heroes came back really strong, with ".07%" and the future episode from last night, and it's easily my second favorite show at the moment. Favorite? Oh, that'd be The Shield, which did an amazing two-part opening arc with Forest Whitaker and continued on in the dark, tense vein of the series after that. Also back, Entourage (not great, but good, and I love Carla Gugino so that earns it bonus points) and Sopranos (slow boil, which I know some folks hate but I'm kind of digging). Scrubs has finally picked up, and something on the NBC promos about "final four Scrubs" made me wonder, is this show ending? If so, it's probably about time, and I'd like it to go out strong. The Office came back and was continuously funny. And Lost has been up and down, but has had some really good episodes, and I'm still very much on board the show.

I fell a little behind on TV and Movie watching and Graphic Novel reading this month because, for the first time in a while, I finally picked up some prose. I've had the Harry Potter bug for a while, but wanting to watch The Order of the Phoenix trailer and knowing that the final book was coming out in July finally spurred me to read the books. So I spent this month reading the six Harry Potter books, and I really enjoyed them. My personal favorite is probably Goblet of Fire, if only because there's so much important set-up in there, followed closely by Half-Blood Prince and Prisoner of Azkaban. My least favorite (although I still really enjoyed it) is probably Order of the Phoenix, because it spent a lot of time building up the bad guys and none of them really got a harsh enough comeuppance for me. It's a good book, but the dark tone went a little far for my tastes. I'm now working my way through the movies (re-watched Sorcerer's Stone, saw Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban for the first time), and I'm just waiting for Goblet of Fire (which I know will be disappointing, as I can't imagine fitting enough into even a three-hour movie) from Netflix. In short, though, I was easily swept up into the cult of Harry Potter, and while I'm glad that the character is getting an ending, I'm already hoping that J.K. Rowling will open up the world when she's done with it so we can get comics or something of that nature set in the world. It's such a rich mythology she's created, I'd love to see more of it outside of the Harry Potter-Voldemort epic story.

Tons of new feeds this month. I keep finding artist blogs, like the one from Chad Thomas (talented guy I met at Wizard World Texas), Max Riffner (winner of the Isotope Mini-Comic Award) and Ted Lange (re-mixer of Super Mario and Shakespeare). There are a couple comics blogs I probably should have been reading before now, like Chris's Invincible Super-Blog (which seems like it's undergoing changes now), the amusing Pass/Fail Studios and Christopher Bird's Tetsubo Productions (where he has humorously, but convincingly, been campaigning to be made new writer of The Legion). Then there's Fisticuffs, in which artists' creations face off in imaginary battles voted upon by the readership, probably my favorite new site discovery of the month. Oh, and I once again started visiting The Engine and The Onion, although both are updated so frequently that I don't do much more than skim, in general.

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