Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Little Something for the "Direct Market is Dying" Folks

So I've been updating my Goodreads page as I read stuff, which generally includes some of the new graphic novels I've bought at the shop as well as novels, older graphic novels, etc.

And it's brought to my attention something that the "buy online, it's cheaper" crowd might want to consider.,, etc. don't get everything when it releases.

For example: Goodreads has no listing (and nor does Amazon) for the latest Boom! collections of Warhammer and Warhammer 40K, the omnibuses. Which, for the record, even at retail, are cheaper than buying the three trades at Amazon discount, and, more to the point, a great format for the stories.

Atomic Robo Volume 2, which I bought on Wednesday, read on Friday night? Amazon has it listed as "This title has not yet been released." Not even a "Available this Wednesday" kind of thing.

Same thing happened with Scott Pilgrim 5... although, admittedly, thanks to Diamond's warehouse move, it's now available on Amazon, and hasn't quite made it fully back into comic book circulation yet, although hopefully we'll see that resolved next Wednesday.

Unrelated to comics, I remember something similar happening with Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. We sold a *ton* of that early on anyway, but we started selling more in the first week when folks were canceling their online preorders and buying from us instead, since the online retailers weren't even getting the books for another week or two, much less shipping them out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GoodReads Review: Wildcards: Inside Straight

Inside Straight Inside Straight by George R.R. Martin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
After a long time away (I don't know that I read the last couple of books), I was drawn back to Wild Cards by the promise of an updated universe and my interest in George R.R. Martin thanks to Game of Thrones.

I was very pleased with the results. As with all of the "mosaic novels," there are chapters, writers and characters who are not as strong as the rest, but the American Hero reality show and its varying contestants make up a pretty strong group, as diverse and interesting as the original Wild Cards (and I see that Holy Roller, mentioned in the GURPS Wild Cards book, made it into the universe he helped create after all). I was particularly taken with Jonathan Hive and the blog post entry style used to convey his writing, but I also really liked Curveball, Drummer Boy and the British spy, whose identity and powers I can't really talk about without giving away one of the cooler surprises of the book.

The story transitions nicely from the manufactured TV drama of American Hero to the more serious politically-infused drama in Egypt, without making either story feel like a waste of time. I'd love to see it adapted to comics, because there are a lot of cool visual moments in the writing, but even as a standalone novel about superheroes, it shows why the Wild Cards universe captured my attention way back when and sort of makes me long to reread them all. Except that I don't own them anymore, and I definitely don't have time for such a mass re-reading.

View all my reviews.

Weekly Comics - February 25th, 2009

Big (and pretty good) week, plus new trades with Warhammer Fantasy Omnibus from Boom!, Starman Volume 2 hardcover and Atomic Robo Volume 2.

Avengers The Initiative #22 (Ramos seems to be trying out a Simonson-esque style, and it sometimes works and sometimes really, really doesn't. Despite some difficult moments, though, I really liked the story, mostly due to Gage using New Warriors and other C-listers very effectively in this story)

Captain America #47 (Guice turns up the gritty on his art, and while it's not as clear as his usual stuff, it's a beautiful stylistic fit for Cap, and Brubaker's tale of another dark secret in Bucky's past is pretty interesting. Plus, as always, some of the best espionage/action in comics)

Doctor Who The Whispering Gallery (Great art, meh story, didn't really think Moore & Reppion captured the Doctor's voice)

GI Joe Origins #1 (I like everyone involved in this, but it's a bit of a mismash. Jarring changes in art, a jumbled story and some really unbelievable attempts at making the Joe training "extreme" make this a touch disappointing... I'll still want to see where it goes, but it was an overly busy opener)

Green Lantern #36-38 (I finally dove into the Green Lantern stuff, and now I definitely want to go back and read the Sinestro Corps War. Great visuals by Reis, and Johns takes what could have been a lame concept, the rainbow lanterns, and makes it pretty damn cool)

Incredible Hercules #126 (The origin of the Marvel Hercules is a really fun story, but the best part of this issue is an Amadeus Cho solo story with art by Takeshi Miyazawa)

Mighty Avengers #22 (Yeah, I think I'm done. Sketchy artwork, a mismash of characters and a jangled plot, not to mention some kinda annoying takes on the characters I do like, makes for a mediocre read)

Nova #22 (Once again, it looks like Richard Rider is screwed and cosmic events are going to turn very, very bad. Abnett & Lanning really know how to do high stakes galactic superheroics)

Star Wars Legacy #33 (The Mon Calamari side stories are the least interesting part of the book, but I kind of like the Imperial Knight they've introduced here)

Thunderbolts #129 (I see now why Diggle was twittering about how much fun he was having writing the bad guys. It comes through in this book, as Norman Osborn frames Samson and uses his black ops team to set himself up as a hero. Kudos to Diggle for making Obama skeptical despite it all, so he comes off as smart. The multiple artists are a bit of a bummer, but it's all solid at least, even if I do wish Deodato had stayed onboard this book rather than decamping for Dark Avengers)

The Umbrella Academy Dallas #4 (We're into the point of the series where I start having trouble following it, but it's still tons of fun, beautifully illustrated and sure to read great when the collected edition hits)

Usagi Yojimbo #118 (Loving the new story, and I need to go back and see where the demon hunter first appeared, because he's a cool as hell character)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You Are Not Allowed To Watch This Show

CBS announces Arranged Marriage reality show

You are not allowed to watch this show:

A) If you've ever been making that ridiculous argument that gay marriage somehow diminishes the institution of marriage

B) You did not watch Firefly, Pushing Daisies, Arrested Development and/or Cupid

C) You are not being paid or held at gunpoint in order to force you to do so

D) All of the Above

(Psst... the correct answer is D. If *this* doesn't degrade the institution of marriage, I'm afraid that the institution is completely un-tarnishable. If this succeeds and, worse, gets a second season, when so many great shows did not, it further weakens any remaining faith I have in television as a medium. And if you're not being paid or somehow forced to watch this, surely the shame of finding entertainment in the sad, pathetic spectacle of this show should keep folks away.)

I have to give credit where it's due, though... I didn't think CBS's reality division could disgust me more than they did by green-lighting Kid Nation. Kudos, scumbags!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Goodreads Review: 20th Century Boys Volume 1

Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, Volume 1: The Prophet (20th Century Boys) Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, Volume 1: The Prophet by Naoki Urasawa

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
After loving Monster, I was anxiously awaiting the two new Naoki Urasawa series from Viz. The first volume of 20th Century Boys doesn't disappoint. Like Monster, it's got a slow-burn opener, but it's full of potential, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

The easiest comparison is to a Stephen King story, with a tale of young boys having shared secrets and a made-up secret society, only to discover in their adult lives that those childlike playtime behaviors are having more sinister real-world effects. Urasawa builds a compelling cast of characters and really sells the creepiness of "The Friend's" cult.

Kudos also to Viz for giving this the deluxe treatment, with flaps and a slightly oversized printing.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weekly Comics - February 18, 2009

Super-light week. But it's a week in which the two new Urasawa manga were released, so that's OK.

Dynamo 5 #0 (Doesn't really get across the fun of the whole book, but it's a tasty little buck-priced snack that might entice folks to try out the trade)

Guardians of the Galaxy #10 (I keep thinking I couldn't be any happier with this book, and I keep being proven wrong. The use of Jack Flag is terrific, there's a lot of great action and I like the multi-layered plotting going on)

Uncanny X-Men #506 (Dr. Nemesis is growing quite tiresome, and the book feels like it's flailing a bit in terms of plot, but I still like the "mutant rescue"/San Francisco variation on the X-Men, and the Dodsons' art is pretty strong)

X-Men Legacy #221 (Really reminds me of why I liked the post-#200 X-Men, even though it was clearly on the decline. Fun continuity bits, good action, involving soap opera, nice art... probably completely unreadable to anyone who hasn't read X-Men for years and years, but if you have, it's kinda fun)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Street Angel Trailer

It's a fun trailer, and one of my favorite moments (the megaphone scene) is in there.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Most Important Post I Will Make This Year

If you can read this without it absolutely breaking your heart, you're a better person than I am. But the bottom line is that somebody really needs all the help she and her family can get, and I aim to do my part.

Kari Anne Roy is a mom and blogger and writer whose blog, Haiku Mama, inspired her first book. I've met Kari only once, when she was doing some research for a possible comics-related book, but she's on an email list/community for Austin moms with my wife, and she feels like a friend of the family.

She and her family have had much more than their fair share of troubles lately. Their baby boy, Isaac ("Ike" for short), was a troubled pregnancy, and after all of the stress and worry, the Roys got what seemed like a miracle. Ike was delivered prematurely, but he survived, and was getting stronger, and came home.

But he's had health issues, and just recently they took a turn for the worse, landing Ike back in the hospital. On top of that, thanks to the economy, Kari's husband recently lost his job, which means that their health insurance (through COBRA) is immensely expensive.

What they really need is a ton of good luck, but I can't help with that. They also need moral support, and they're getting tons of that through the Austin Mamas List. I can help a little with that. But what they're really gonna need, with this crisis sort of taking over their life, is money to help them get through.

The Austin Mamas are working on bake sales, silent auctions, etc. Rogues Gallery will definitely be donating comics and games for any silent auctions. But I'd like to do more. I'd love to be able to do a small auction of signed comics/graphic novels, etc. at the store, with all of the money going to the Roys. The comics industry has always been amazing about rallying around its own, and I'm reluctant to keep asking folks to give more, but if any of my comics-creating friends reading this would be willing to donate some original art, a sketch, a signed comic or something of that nature for a charity auction, I sure would appreciate it. You can drop me an email at

You can see more about all this at

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Weekly Comics - February 11th, 2009

Batman #686 (Well, it probably won't live up to "Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?" but that's a pretty high bar to clear. At any rate, it's a strong opener, with very good artwork by Andy Kubert)

BPRD The Black Goddess #2 (It doesn't really seem fair that Mignola has two books this good out in one week, but BPRD and Hellboy, while different, share a level of amazing quality, intricate yet approachable continuity and stunning artwork. BPRD remains one of the best comics published right now, period)

Dynamo 5 #19 (Missed this one last week. Nice action, good conclusion to the alt Dynamo 5 tale, the cliffhanger had me scratching my head trying to figure out what the tattoo meant)

Fables #81 (I've said before that Fables basically ended for me with #75, and I view this stuff as sort of an "alternate continuity," but this was an interesting issue for all of that, sad, occasionally brutal to some of its characters. And the bad guy... is that the tooth fairy?)

G.I. Joe #2 (It's a bit of a slow-burn, but I'm digging the slow build-up, really enjoying the artwork and just generally loving this new take on G.I. Joe)

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #3 (Cool to see some familiar faces from early Hellboy stories, while the story itself is something new and interesting playing off the dichotomy of Hellboy's nature, and Fegredo continues to rock on art)

Incognito #2 (Wow. I loved issue one, but issue two is a stronger issue. The opening crook/lawyer scene was a great use of superhuman abilities on a classic mafia story trope, the twists and turns of "ordinary" life as affected by supervillains throughout are fascinating, and it's got a great cliffhanger. Plus another terrific pulp write-up, this time on Doc Savage, from Jess Nevins)

Punisher #1 (Picked up the second print on a whim to read, and it's a good opener, fun Punisher vs. Superman (well, Sentry, same dif) tactical stuff with nice, gritty looking art from Opena)

Thor #600 (Brian Hibbs oversells it just a tad, and I honestly only really liked the lead story as much as he clearly liked the whole book, but that lead story is pretty damn good)

Walking Dead #58 (Man, it's good, but... it may be getting too dark for a dad like me. I got enough horrible "what ifs" in my head already, I don't need more ideas for bad things that could happen... even if they're fictional)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Goodreads Review: Finder Vol 1

Finder, Vol. 01: Sin-Eater 1 Finder, Vol. 01: Sin-Eater 1 by Carla Speed McNeil

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finder is an immensely ambitious, occasionally frustrating but mostly thoroughly entertaining read. Carla Speed McNeil has crafted a pretty immense world here, and it's clear from reading the comic pages and the annotations that there's so much more than she's able to get into the book.

That's good in that the world feels fully realized, and bad in that, as others have noted, the story sometimes feels maddeningly vague or incomplete. Without the annotations at the back, some of the story cues in the comic (like when it's a flashback or a dream, or even what a particular character is doing) are unclear or even downright impossible to figure out.

However, even without knowing fully what's going on, there are a lot of neat sci-fi ideas and some amazingly fleshed-out characters. McNeil does fall into the "tell, not show" problem with the characters from time to time, but even without her notes, you can pick up on a lot of inner conflict and flaws in the various characters. These characters feel more real than most fiction can manage, and that goes a long way in terms of making this a favorite.

In addition, McNeil's artwork is beautiful, reminiscent of Terry Moore in its adoration (but not objectification) of the human form, male or female and her mastery of expression, whether it's subtle facial expression or more broad physical movement. And while her panel structure is generally straightforward, she's not afraid to break the pattern in order to show off a chaotic moment, an expansive backdrop or a character experiencing something spiritual.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Weekly Comics - February 4, 2009

Agents of Atlas #1 (Strong opener, and the use of Norman Osborn means that maybe more folks will pick it up who missed the original, great miniseries. Fun backup with Logan & Agents of Atlas in the '50s, too)

Bad Dog #1 (Shockingly fun and delightfully rude, Joe Kelly turns in a book that has his usual quirkiness, combined with a style more like that of Garth Ennis and a more straightforward storytelling style than Kelly's creator-owned stuff tends to have. And, in keeping with the theme of the week, this is another book with fantastic artwork. Diego Greco's digitally inked and colored artwork and unique character designs really help give the book its flavor.)

Buffy #20-22 (Picked these up on a whim, and they're not bad. The Harmony story feels like a weird fit for the universe we've seen, but issue #20's animated series flashbacky type thing was fun and #22's Japanese adventure (and interesting villain) was entertaining as well)

Dark Avengers #1 (I have to admit, I didn't hate this. Bendis's Avengers have always seemed kinda douchey and villainy to me, so having the much-hated Sentry and Ares side with the black hats, not to mention the Thunderbolts turn the team has taken of making villains in heroes' clothing, all seems to fit, and the artwork is gorgeous.)

The Mighty #1 (Honestly? I'm kind of tired of "realistic" superheroes at this point. But Tomasi, Snejbjerg and Champagne earned a look with Light Brigade, and they serve up a pretty intriguing first issue with great characters and great art)

Scott Pilgrim 5 (Spectacularly good, as always. Maybe not quite as much as volume 4, which was my favorite of the series thus far, but still an exceptional read. Now the long wait for the final volume begins.)

Secret Warriors #1 (Didn't hate this either, but it's a terrible first issue in terms of accomplishing what a first issue should. Doesn't establish who the characters are at all, drops a huge, nonsensical retcon and seems to think it's doing something different in establishing: A) SHIELD is corrupt and B) Now it's Nick Fury against SHIELD. We've seen it before. At least three times. He always comes back, SHIELD always comes back, and I'd much rather this was just a Nick Fury, Commander of SHIELD comic, knowing that. I also don't give a crap about the ill-defined and barely explained kid team Fury's running. But when Fury's doing his thing, the book is good, and the artwork by Stefano Caselli is terrific.)

War of Kings: Darkhawk #1 (Nice use of the "Loners" characters from Vaughan's Runaways, and while I'm sad to see the Darkhawk at Project Pegasus status quo disappear so fast, giving him a little Annihilation: Nova style upgrade probably isn't a bad idea. Also, really nice artwork from newcomers Harvey Tolibao and Bong Dazo, Marvel is really coming up with great new art talents lately. Reprinting the fairly bad Darkhawk #1 and charging an extra buck for the issue is kinda cheesy, though.)

X-Men: First Class #1 (Kind of meh, as an intro issue goes, even though I like Parker and Cruz together. But the villain reveal, and the tie-ins back to previous First Class stories, has me interested, and I did like the talk about what the kids were going to do when they graduated.)

Sunday, February 01, 2009