Thursday, May 28, 2009

Weekly Comics - May 28, 2009

Aliens #1 (Good intro, like the characters, like the twist... it's a slow build, which often winds up being a disappointment, but it's a valid choice, given that Alien and Aliens both had effective slow-builds as well. Oh, and beautiful art by Zach Howard)

Batman in Barcelona (Decent little Batman one-off. Nothing super-cool or anything, but good writing, good art, a solid Batman tale for those not interested in all the event-centric Bat stuff of the moment)

Green Lantern #41 (Larfleez is not super-interesting, and I'm not digging this arc as much as the Red Lanterns one... but it hasn't dampened my interest in Blackest Night)

Guardians of the Galaxy #14 (Big giant War of Kings-inspired brawl! Wheeeeeee!!!!)

Incredible Hercules #129 (New story, descending into hell, with a particularly fun take on Marvel's afterlife - feels very much like Dan Slott's Thing or early She-Hulk work in many ways, and that's a good thing)

Nova #25 (Nice culmination of the "rogue Worldmind" story, best issue of the book in a while)

Starcraft #1 (I'm a huge fan of this game, and I only managed to get halfway into this. It doesn't feel much like Starcraft, it feels like generic sci-fi with uninteresting characters - nice art, though)

Usagi Yojimbo #120 (A fantastic one-off with Usagi and the young ninja-in-training Kiyoko doing some detective work)

X-Men Legacy #224 (Well, whadayaknow - somebody finally fixed Rogue. And wrote a story featuring Gambit and Danger where I liked both characters. It's a shame Legacy is one of the lower-selling X-books... for my money, it's probably the best one running)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Down The Line - May 2009

Welcome to Down the Line, our monthly look at Previews! Each month we look at what’s coming out in comics (and manga) a few months down the road. Randy and Jason are back with another installment, this time covering the May Previews for comics due to ship out July 2009 or later.

We'll also be doing different categories each month, to slice things up into nice easy to read chunks. Some categories will be standard, some will be one-time and some will be occasionally recurring. Without further ado, on to the first category:

Little Mouse Gets Ready HC (Raw Junior) - page 278
Jeff Smith, creator of Bone, writes and draws a kids book. Boom, done, here mister publisher, let me give you a large check in exchange for your books.


Mouse Guard Vol 2 HC (Archaia) - page 192
There have been delays as a result of publisher trouble and a role-playing game that took up a fair amount of creator David Petersen's time, but this second volume of Mouse Guard, Winter, has been worth the wait. Beautiful artwork, the same great use of real animals as monsters (the mice take on an owl... and it's awesome), one of the best all-ages fantasy books comics has ever produced. And the previous hardcover from Archaia had stunning production values, I expect no less from this one.

Dreamworks and their CG ilk have tainted my view of anthropomorphic animals. Is there a sassy squirrel sidekick in this one, as well?


Mouse Guard, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Usagi, is the exception to the furry rule. These cute little mice have swords and aren't afraid to use them.


The Muppet Show: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson #1 (Boom! Studios) - page 219
Like The Incredibles, this was an example of Boom! getting the perfect guy for the property. Roger Langridge nailed the humor style of the original Muppet Show, and in the process delivered a great-looking comic. Getting him back for another four issues is a no-brainer. And like the Incredibles, this one has a $10 trade coming out this month as well. With these, the DC line, Scholastic and Tokyopop's Legend of Zelda adaptations, it's a pretty great time for kids comics.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Collected Book Vol 1 (Mirage Studios) - page 270
Finally, a deal has been worked out and Mirage is collecting the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run into trade paperbacks. It's crazy to have something so crucial to the black and white boom out of print for so long, and it's nice to see it coming out, especially in a gigantic 500+ page book like this one. Collecting the first eleven issues plus the one-shots, each of which focused on a different lead character, this is probably the best of the Turtles stuff, and I'm lucky in that I've only read about half of it, so the first half or so will be completely new material to me. If you only know the characters from their cartoon incarnations or the live-action movies, it's worth checking out the original stuff, which was darker (albeit still a little goofy; after all, they were originally little more than a loving parody of Daredevil) and much, much better.

The original black and white run blew my mind as a kid. I, like most other 12 year olds at the time, were familiar with the goofy, pizza loving, cartoons. While yes, this does have that '90s angst to it, it's still a fun read. The fact that they're ninja turtles is almost incidental at points.

G.I. Joe Vol 1 TP (IDW) - page 257
IDW's relaunch of the G.I. Joe property has been as expertly handled as their relaunch of the Transformers property. Which is to say, a complete reboot that involves some of the original creators, stepping on the toes of some of the original fans but generally creating a viable new line of comics as a result. There are certainly quibbles to be made, from the goofy joystick-wielding cartoon Scottish accented bad guys to the decompressed pacing, but G.I. Joe fans have a lot to be happy about.

Skip the sure-to-be-dreadful movie. Read the comic. Yeah, Randy's disdain for Destro's Scottish-stereotype flunkies is spot on, but the series as a whole is fun enough to overlook it.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly #1 (Dynamite) - page 232
I'm not sure you're going to find a better guy for the new comic about Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name than Chuck Dixon, unless you can somehow convince Garth Ennis to write it and tone down his adolescent humor instincts. I'd be skeptical that you can even make a comic about the character work, except that Christos Gage and company already showed you could with the Man With No Name series, collected in trade paperback this month.

I gave 'the Man With No Name' a few episodes, and felt that it just missed the mark. I'm a huge fan of the films and will give Dixon's interpretation a shot, but now that Randy has mentioned Ennis, I can't get that out of my head. Ennis would add the dirty brutality that the series needs.

Greek Street #1 (DC/Vertigo) - page 112
It's been a while since Vertigo has offered up a "Wow, that's cool" premise for an ongoing series, and Greek Street... well, Greek Street isn't that, either. It's a modern-day crime noir filtered through Greek theatre traditions and tropes, which doesn't quite have the instant "wow" factor of Fables, Y The Last Man, Preacher, etc. That said... it's not a bad premise, and certainly Peter Milligan and Davide Gianfelice have more than proved their abilities to create great comics.

They could really nail it here, but I'm not hopeful. Maybe Milligan will be able to inject some of his trademark oddities to turn this idea on its ear and keep it interesting.

Milligan's last Vertigo outing was the amazing Human Target series. That alone earns this a look from me.

Atlas Era Menace - Marvel Masterworks - M86
Pre-comics code horror, collected in the gorgeous Marvel Masterworks. I've only read a smattering of these and they were produced well before horror comics really hit their stride. They're sure to be campy, but any nostalgic completist would want these.

BPRD 1947 #1 (Dark Horse) - page 32
How do you make the sequel to BPRD 1946, which featured Hellboy's dad fighting Nazi vampire doomsday plans, more awesome? You bring on the brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, whose art has been impressing in places like Casanova, Umbrella Academy, the Eisner-winning 5 and more. More of early B.P.R.D. vs. vampires? Yes, please!

It seems like every BPRD solicit mocks me, as if to say, "See how cool this is? See what you're missing?" Definitely need to add this to my pull list. And the artwork seems like a perfect fit for the BPRD universe.

I'm going to have to force you to read the BPRD books Clockwork Orange style, aren't I? Because they're some of my favorite comics, and knowing what I know of your taste, I know you'd love them.

Creepy #1 (Dark Horse) - page 36
Speaking of horror comic classics, Uncle Creepy himself has returned. He's brought along Bernie Wrightson and other original creators of the mag during it's initial run. And who wouldn't want that variant wraparound cover by Eric Powell?

Dethklok vs. The Goon (Dark Horse) - page 37
If you've watched Metalocalypse or read The Goon at all, you know this is a match made in heaven.


I've read one issue of The Goon. One. He shat Satan's baby out of his rectum. I'll never be the same.


If you're going to read one issue of The Goon, that's the one to read. Presumably there will be no rectum-fired Satan babies in this one-shot.

But you never know.

Hexed HC - page 220
I'm a bit behind on the Hexed series, but the first 2 issues started off with a bang, immediately involving you in the underworld of thieves of the occult and their demonic kingpins. It's fun, fast, and at times rather gruesome, without making the splatter the point.

The Marquis: Inferno TP - page 35
A marquis in an eerie mask fighting off demons only he can see? It sounds like an eighteenth century version of 'Frailty'. I'm in.


Written and drawn by one of my top ten favorite artists of all time, Guy Davis. Who has the perfect aesthetic for eighteenth century supernatural adventure, as it turns out. I own most, if not all, of this in the trade paperbacks originally published by Oni Press, and I definitely recommend this.

Nocturnals Vol 2 (Image) - page 150
I reread my original Nocturnals around the time the Vol 1 hardcover came out. It hasn't aged a bit. The art is still gorgeous. The stories are still bizarre and pulpy, yet intimate. The hardcover? Beautiful.

North 40 #1 (DC/Wildstorm) - page 105
Based somewhat on the 1972 lineup of the Dallas Cowboys, Burt Reynolds plays . . . What? Burt Reynolds isn't in this?
Oh, I thought this was North Dallas 40.


Wildstorm launches what is likely another doomed original property into an unforgiving market. In fairness, though, this one looks pretty interesting, as a group of supernatural investigators move into a small town where someone opened a Necronomicon-type thing. Art by Fiona Staples looks purty, and writing is by Aaron Williams, creator of all-ages superhero/humor comic PS238 and gaming humor comic Nodwick. Williams is a good writer, this one's a bit of a stretch from his usual stuff, and I want to take a look at it for that reason alone.

As far as I can tell, Burt Reynolds is not involved in the project. But you can never tell where that mustachioed bastard is lurking.

Nosferatu: Plague of Terror - page 286
Nosferatu is public domain and one of the scariest, most iconic images in history. The film is paid homage to quite a bit in various mediums, but I can't think of an example of someone really exploring/expanding the mythos. Hopefully, this will be a new, but reverent take on one of my favorite classics.

We Kill Monsters #1 (Red 5 Comics) - page 278
I like comic books that tell you exactly what they're about, right in the title. A pair of auto mechanics find out monsters are real, get some beneficial mutations as a result of interacting with them, and decide to go out hunting and killing monsters. It's like Monster Garage, if instead of building vehicles and marrying Sandra Bullock, they actually went out and killed monsters. So I guess it's nothing like Monster Garage. But how weird is it that that guy married Sandra Bullock?

I'm re-reading the words, wondering how you got from A to B on that one. It's really just the result of a disease-addled brain, isn't it?


We're through the looking glass here, people!


Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #1 (Dark Horse) - page 33
Edward Grey is, according to the solicitation copy, "one of the Hellboy universe's greatest enigmas." So great, apparently, that I don't remember him at all. But that's OK, because the writing on this spinoff is by Mike Mignola, the art is by Ben Stenbeck (who worked on the great one-shot featuring Johann Kraus of the B.P.R.D.) and secret agent of the queen battling the evil frog-men of the B.P.R.D. in the nineteenth century sounds like a decent premise to me.

I've never heard of him, either, of course. Yet again, the BPRD universe prods me with another jab of 'Why aren't you reading this?"

28 Days Later #1 (Boom! Studios) - page 216
28 Days Later is probably the property that re-ignited the zombie craze of the last few years. I know - they're not *really* zombies, but for if it looks like a duck . . . This one bridges the gap between the 2 films, picking up with the survivors of the first. I enjoyed both of the flicks immensely, despite their flaws, and with Michael Alan Nelson at the helm, this one should be worth a read. Now Randy can mock me for the grudge he holds regarding my love for 28 Weeks Later.

I don't begrudge you your love for 28 Weeks Later... I just don't understand your appreciation for such a terrible movie.

But I did really like 28 Days Later, and I have some interest in seeing this comic, in no small part due to that evocative cover from Sean Phillips.

Blackest Night #1 (DC) - page 63
One more time: It's zombies with black power rings. (wait, that sounds wrong. . . ) Anyway, as our friend Chris has said in regards to the Black Lanter Corps - METAL!!!!

Johns has been building to "Blackest Night" since the early days of his Green Lantern run, and each new Lantern corps he introduces (Blue, Orange, Red) seems to be interesting in its own right. I'm excited for this series, even though DC inevitably lets me down when it comes to their big crossover stories. Maybe this one will be the exception? It feels like an expansion of the Sinestro Corps War, which was a pretty good little cosmic superhero story.

Green Lantern #43-44 - page 64-65
It seems Geoff Johns has been building to this epic since the first panel of his run on Green Lantern. And they're teasing on the cover of one of these that Bruce Wayne himself will be one of the Black Lanterns. Kinda sounds like some ballsy sacrilege. Hopefully it will come off as a great plot device rather than a shock-value story opener.

The Last Resort #1 (IDW) - page 261
I've praised IDW throughout this column for their licensed material, so it's worth noting that they've got some good (or at least, good sounding) original material as well. Like this one, a post-apocalyptic tale of zombies at a Caribbean resort, courtesy of the writers of Jonah Hex with pretty-looking art by Giancarlo Caracuzzo.

As tired as I am of most zombie stories, 'pays homage to 1970's exploitation films' is quite enough for my $4. And the zombie tale set on a tropical isle conceit recalls Fulci's 'Zombie', which is in no way a bad thing.

President Evil - page 189
Please. Just stop already. Is this all it takes to write a comic? Some pun on an existing IP, but with Obama as the main character? It really is like an off-the-cuff joke that's already gone on too far.

This isn't a joke. It's the Obama Administration's plan for dealing with the zombie outbreaks resulting from swine flu. You heard it here first!


Zombie Tales: 2061 - page 218
I'll be the first to moan about the glut of zombie books. They just keep coming back! (I know. I know.) But Boom's first Zombie Tales TP didn't have a week story in the bunch, which is unusual for any anthology. I'm looking forward to this one, too.

Dave McKean: Pictures that Tick - page 49
This long out-of-print collection binds together some of Dave McKean's more experimental art and stories of the last 20 years. It's certain to be a visual feast and will look nice on your coffee table next to that Darwyn Cooke collection, I'm sure.

Noir (Dark Horse) - page 40
Black and white anthology from a who's who of great writers and artists, all telling tales in the crime noir tradition? That's promising enough, but when you consider Dark Horse's exemplary record with anthologies, from Autobiographix to Scott Allie's horror-themed "Book Of" series all the way back to the original Dark Horse Presents, it gets even more promising. And when you look at that list of talent, which includes the Criminal team of Brubaker and Phillips, 100 Bullets author Brian Azzarello and Stray Bullets/Young Liars creator David Lapham, not to mention more esoteric indy talent like Jeff Lemire, Paul Grist and Rick Geary, this becomes a must-buy for any fans of crime comics.

Even if you're *not* a fan of crime comics, how can you pass this one up? The lineup is extraordinary and there's bound to be just a buffet of good stories, no matter what the trappings.

Tales Designed to Thrizzle: Volume One (Fantagraphics) - page 247
I've read only a handful of pages of Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed To Thrizzle, but they made me laugh, and I know that this is generally regarded in the blogosphere and amongst the comics literati as one of the funniest comics on the planet. $25 is a lot of money for a collection of (to me) untested material, but the word of mouth is so strong, and good humor comics so rare, I might have to take the plunge.

The title alone makes me think of the movie 'Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror'. And at $25? I think I'll just wait and see on this one.

3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man (Dark Horse) - page 47
Matt Kindt writes and draws gigantic phone-book sized comics about traditionally "comic book" subjects like spies, pulpy crime and now the sci-fi concept of a giant man, and brings to it a thoughtful, unusual indy sensibility, and the result is always worth reading. Reading the solicitation indicates that this is told from the POV from three women in the lead character's life at different points and purports to tell the story behind the "official CIA biography."

Sounds interesting, but I do prefer my giant men to be of the wife abusing, drug addled, Skrull variety.


I like my giant men like I like my coffee.


The Brave and the Bold #25 (DC) - page 81
I've been more than a little disappointed at the return of the Milestone heroes to the DC Universe, especially given that Dwayne McDuffie, one of the best writers at Milestone, has been involved (although apparently, not happily and not even remotely without interference). Static on the Teen Titans seems a perfect fit, except that the Titans has become little more than an unimaginative snuff book under the guidance of its editor, and having the Shadow Cabinet face off with the Justice League seemed like a neat idea, but like so much else in JLA, it got buried under layers and layers of incomprehensible and/or uninteresting modern DC continuity. However... ever the glutton for punishment, I remain cautiously excited to see Hardware teaming up with the new Blue Beetle under the pen of Adam Beechen, a talented comics writer who is also one of the genius writers behind Brave and the Bold, the best superhero cartoon currently on TV.

Brave and the Bold is good, but Spectacular Spider-Man is the best superhero cartoon currently on TV. Your commentary is so cute. Flawed, but still cute.


Damn it, you're right. I forgot about Spider-Man because it's taking so damn long for season two to show up on American TV. But Spectacular Spider-Man is to Spidey was the '90s Batman: Animated Series was to Batman, which is the perfect adaptation incorporating all eras of the character.

Which doesn't take away from the talent Beechen has evidenced on Brave and the Bold, or indeed in other comics.

Immortal Weapons: Fat Cobra - M53
While I'm sad that Immortal Iron Fist is gone, in it's place is a kung fu book about a dude named Fat Cobra. Smack a Shaw Brothers seal on the cover and I'm sold!

The Incredibles #0 (Boom! Studios) - page 219
Mark Waid writing the Incredibles is every bit as good as you'd expect it to be. So glad it turns out that it's not a four-issue miniseries and out, but a four-issue miniseries, then an issue zero, than an ongoing series. Also worth noting that the trade collecting that issue is solicited here for only $10. I don't wanna judge or nothing, but if you don't buy it for your kids, it might be considered child abuse.

Is Boom! the only publisher really doing all ages right? The Marvel Adventures stuff certainly isn't bad, but Boom!'s execution of Pixar's stable and The Muppets have been note perfect.

Actually, there are a ton of great all-ages books right now, from DC's Supergirl in the 8th Grade and Tiny Titans to the Marvel Adventures stuff (especially the work done by Paul Tobin) to the array of books from Scholastic. But Boom! is a great addition to this booming kids' market.

Justice League: Cry for Justice #1 (DC) - page 84
Can a good Justice League story be told without unending editorial interference? Hopefully, this will be the one. The art is gorgeous and Robinson is generally pretty solid.

Robinson has disappointed me too often of late. I loved Starman, but I've been bored or outright annoyed by a lot of the books he's written since then. That said, because Starman was so good, I keep coming back, and I sure would love for this to be good. It's a great team of characters, pretty close to my ideal actually. Green Arrow, the Atom and Green Lantern are three of my absolute favorites, I like the use of Supergirl and Shazam in the "super" role and Congorilla and the Mikaal Starman as the obscure newbies is intriguing. The pitch is that tired "they're the proactive super-team" thing that never works, but the line-up is great.

New Avengers #55 - M25
Yeah, I still like New Avengers. Want to make something of it? I'm excited to see Immonen's work on the title, even if the 'heroes drained of power' idea worn thin way before even 'House of M'.

New Warriors Classic Vol 1 TP (Marvel) - page M115
Yes, they were a '90s team featuring a leader whose powers included riding around on a skateboard. Yes, the coloring looks subpar these days, and will no doubt look weird on the shiny paper Marvel will print this trade on. Yes, it's probably better to stop relaunching them and let them be a team of the past, never mind how many "Bring the Warriors back!" letters Marvel gets. However, filtered through my high school and college memories, I remember really digging this book, and thinking it was a great team comic with a bunch of characters I knew only vaguely or had never seen before. Nicieza's messages could be a bit heavy-handed, and this is early Mark Bagley work, which is sometimes a bit rough around the edges, but I love these books enough to still have them in my longboxes, which is the only reason I'm not picking up the trade. If you're a fan of classic superhero team books like X-Men or Teen Titans, New Warriors are a worthy addition to your collection.

I haven't read these since their original run, but I have a huge fondness for the lineup. Yes, even Night Thrasher. Yes, even Speedball. Randy just likes it 'cause he has a man-crush on Nova.

That's not true! I also like Night Thrasher. Wait, that's worse.


Reborn #1 (Marvel) - page M3
Here's what we know: No solicitation information about the premise or characters, not even any teaser art. Creative team is Ed Brubaker and Bryan Hitch, and it was deemed important enough to take Hitch off his Fantastic Four run with Millar before it finished. Clearly, the implication is that this is the return of Steve Rogers to the Marvel Universe. I give it a 50% shot of being that, and a 50% shot of being a swerve. Remember when Civil War: The Return was in fact about Captain Marvel?

Does it make me an American-hating commie in that I'm kind of not caring right now? It's sure to be a great yarn, but I wish they'd give Bucky a bit more time behind the shield.

There's some interesting speculation that this might be the introduction of a black Captain America, probably tied into the Truth project from Robert Morales and Kyle Baker and the resulting Young Avenger character Patriot. I think this speculation is probably on the money, and it makes me a lot more interested in the story, especially since it means a continuation of the Bucky-as-Cap story, which definitely doesn't feel like it has run its course yet.

Spider-Man and the Human Torch HC (Marvel) - page M92
There are times, such as when Norman Osborn is banging Gwen Stacy or Hawkeye is too dumb to take off a bag of flaming arrows on his back, that I think maybe it's time to let go of my well-earned Marvel zombie-ism and let the kids have Marvel Comics. I'll read Johnny Hiro and Scott Pilgrim and RASL, etc. and they can have Dark Avengers, Old Man Logan and Dark Wolverine and the rest. And then Marvel remembers that it published one of the best Spider-Man stories ever, a five issue mini that explored his friendship with the Human Torch in a series of one-off stories throughout different eras that wound up having one of the most touching Spider-Man/Fantastic Four moments ever, and not only do they put it back in print, they put it back in print as an oversized hardcover. Aw, Marvel... I could never stay mad at you.

I can't wait to read this. I missed it the first time around and the friendship between Johnny and Peter is one of the earliest story elements that I remember growing up. While I'm digging a lot of the Osborn-centric Marvel tales currently running, it's good to get back to 'pure' Spidey.

Uncanny X-Men: First Class #1 (Marvel) - page M75
Three things interest me about Uncanny X-Men: First Class. First of all, going back to the early days of the new team to tell stories intrigues me because it means all the characters I love without all the continuity baggage they're currently carrying around. Second, the First Class stories featuring the original team by Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz have been somewhere between pretty good to really damn good, and I'm not even innately interested in those characters the way I am in these characters. And three, and perhaps most important, joining Roger Cruz on this is writer Scott Gray, whom you may know from a variety of projects but whose most important credit is the spectacularly awesome and fun Fin Fang Four, which makes him maybe the perfect choice for this kind of project, blending old school continuity and fun with a breezy, modern writing approach.

I'll be honest, the whole idea of First Class has irked me from issue 1. It really seems like brand dilution from Marvel. Why do we have a First Class, Ultimates, *and* a Marvel Adventures lineup? Can't they at least fold First Class into Marvel Adventures? If it's meant to introduce new readers, it seems like they missed the boat.

Well, Marvel Adventures sells about 5,000 copies, and First Class sells about 13,000, which is why they're sticking with the First Class branding. I'll agree with you that it's probably not fully hitting its target market, but without exception, the First Class stories have been really good.

Wednesday Comics #1-4 (DC) - page 68
DC is really stepping outside of the box on this one. A fantastic lineup of stories and creators. It's so inspired and retro that I can't wait to get my hands on it.


Oversized, gorgeous artwork and an amazing line-up of creators working on characters ranging from the big guns (Green Lantern, Batman) to the "who the hell is that?" (Kamandi, Metal Men). I've bought maybe a half-dozen single issues over the last couple years, but I will buy every single issue of this book. Every preview has been stunning. Mark Chiarello, DC art director (and resident genius) is the idea man behind this. He's also the guy behind Batman: Black and White and Solo. The heavy betting is that this will be a critical darling and sales disappointment, just like Solo, but I sure hope that's wrong, because this is the kind of thing that would get me buying a lot more comics.

Doctor Who #1 (IDW) - page 260
The Doctor and Charlie Chaplin team up to battle an alien menace in the silent film era. Pitch perfect for the character, and given the general good reaction to Tony Lee's Doctor Who: The Forgotten miniseries, I expect that putting him on as writer of the new ongoing series is a good call. IDW is really on a roll of late, both with licensed properties and with their more esoteric material.

This is just the kind of weirdness that the comic incarnation of the Doctor needs to be harnessing. Charlie Chaplin is an odd choice, though.



The Middleman: The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse! GN (Viper Comics) - page 300
Fresh off a critically-acclaimed (but unfortunately unsuccessful) TV run, Javier Grillo-Marxuach's Men in Black-esque series returns to comics for an all-new graphic novel based on an unproduced script for the TV show.


I know I run the risk of sounded jaded (or like Randy), but the whole Men In Black idea is another one that's growing kind of tired. It seems like so many organizations that fight the paranormal/aliens enlist the trappings of hard-nosed, blue-collar guys in cheap Reservoir Dogs suits. Am I way off base in this?

Not in your disdain for the Men in Black idea in general, but specifically relating to The Middleman, the usual rules don't apply. It's funny, clever and oddly wholesome, rather than subversive, embracing the wackiness of the genre rather than deconstructing it. For example, the lead is not a grizzled, jaded veteran, but a square-jawed blond all-American who drinks milk and eschews swearing, despite being an ex-Navy SEAL badass who could kill you with his pinky.

Star Wars Invasion #1 (Dark Horse) - page 24
I have to admit, the decision to add weird techno-organic aliens to Star Wars is kind of where I parted company with the novels. The Yuuzhan Vong (not a typo... just a bad name) are much more of a Star Trek or Babylon 5 idea. However, Star Wars Legacy has done some interesting stuff with the leftover Vong and Vong tech, the Dark Horse Star Wars comics have generally been good and also, and perhaps more importantly, the prequels sucked, so really, Star Wars continuity feels a lot less sacred than it used to. So I'm mildly interested in this, and art by 2000 AD legend Colin Wilson doesn't hurt.

The Yuuzhan Vong storyline from the books piqued my interest when it started years ago. It's got quite the fan following, but I wasn't brave enough to be seen reading a Star Wars paperback. I have my pride (lie).

The Surrogates Vol 2 Flesh & Bone TP (Top Shelf Productions) - page 284
The original Surrogates was one of the best science-fiction comics I've read, and Bruce Willis seems like perfect casting for the movie, which I can't wait to see. However, the best thing about the movie being produced is that it means cha-ching, graphic novel sequel time to cash in on the potential new audience from the movie, and so the original creative team are getting back together for a prequel story set in the earlier days of the invention of surrogate technology. Worth noting that if you haven't read the original, it's back in print as well. You can read the Wikipedia version of the synopsis, although it barely even hints at why the original graphic novel was so cool, so no spoilers... just a tease.

A solid sci-fi story built around a neat premise. I'm glad to see this getting the attention it's due.

Absolute New Frontier HC New Printing (DC) - page 92
I have many shameful admissions. Having not read New Frontier is one of them. I have, however, thumbed through the original printing of this Absolute version and found it to be stunning. I'm having a hard time thinking I won't love it, so I might as well do it right the first time I shell out money for it.

If my house was on fire, this is probably the comic book I'd grab on the way out.


The Hunter (IDW) - page 253
For those who don't know, the Parker novels were a series begun in the '60s by crime writer Donald Westlake, writing under the pseudonym of Richard Stark. They're fast-paced, brutal, unforgiving takes on a professional criminal named Parker who gets involved in all sorts of crime, usually involving someone doing him wrong or taking his money and him getting things righted. They've been adapted into numerous movies, most folks will know the Mel Gibson film Payback. If you liked Payback, you'd love the original novels. I did.

So to have Darwyn Cooke, among my top five favorite cartoonists ever, adapt The Parker novels, some of my favorite crime books ever? In swanky hardcovers from IDW, who know a thing or two about production design? C'mere, comics industry... I wanna make out with you.

This is a perfect match. Darwyn Cooke on Richard Stark/Donald Westlake's 'Parker' novels, noir tales of a revenge-fueld thug blazing his way through the New York underground. I've never read the novels, but I liked Payback and absolutely loved the Lee Marvin 'Point Blank'. It will be interesting to see how the story holds up after being pillaged by other noir writers for the past few decades. And I can't get enough of peeling back the shiny veneer of the '60s.

Modern Masters Volume 23: Darwyn Cooke (Twomorrows Publishing) - page 286
These Modern Masters volumes are always chock ful of information, from interviews to published and unpublished art, but they're definitely for the hardcore fans of the artist, and through 22 previous volumes, I've managed to resist the temptation to pick one up, because I know I wouldn't really have time to read through it. Darwyn Cooke, however, is one of my absolute favorite artists, and I'll absolutely be picking this up and putting it at the top of the "to read" stack.

I'm something of a Cooke neophyte, but I like that this scoops out a large chunk of his work from all mediums. It's sure to be gorgeous.

Remember, especially with the indy books, that pre-ordering is your friend, and the best way to make sure you get the books you want. Tell us in the comments what you thought, and what did we miss?