As always, we've got different categories to slice things up into nice easy to read chunks. Without further ado, on to the first category:
I can fix that by having you read any one of the Beasts of Burden stories from the Dark Horse horror hardcovers. Each of those hardcovers featured a new Mignola Hellboy story, and yet the Evan Dorkin/Jill Thompson "Beasts" stories were still the highlight of each one. They're funny and cute, but they also have a good grasp of what makes ghost stories and the like work, and I'm really excited to see them finally get their own limited series. One of the books I'm most excited to read this month, actually.
OK. Fine. I'll try it. But I'm really afraid of something like 'Over the Hedge', but with ghosts.
B.P.R.D. The Black Goddess TP (Dark Horse) - page 24
Hellboy's been around for a while, but holy hell, they're really just now starting to mine every crevice of that universe. Fortunately for us (and for Dark Horse) most of it is good. In fact, most of it is great.
I don't know what I can say about B.P.R.D. that isn't repeating myself, but: Maybe the best ongoing series running, definitely some of the best art in comics, period. Just keeps getting better.
The Cleaners: Absent Bodies TP (Dark Horse) - page 26
I got a kick out of the mini. What started off as a jargon-laden procedural drama (as I've mentioned before), turned into something eerie and altogether bizarre. The layers were peeled back to reveal some nasty goings on in suburbia. The tale takes some gruesome turns that I did not see coming. While I did have trouble following it from issue to issue, I can't quite pinpoint why. In trade form, this will likely make for an outstanding, disturbing read.
I really need to catch the rest of this series. I liked the first issue, and loved the art. I guess it's a good thing they're putting out a trade.
Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai (Dark Horse) - page 28
Full color painted Usagi Yojimbo graphic novel from Stan Sakai. That's all I need to know, but for anyone who needs more, it features Sakai's rabbit ronin battling creatures of Japanese legend as they're amassing for a great raid on the countryside.
Dark Reign: The List (Marvel Comics) - page M25
Don't like Dark Reign? Tough shit. 'Cause that's what you're getting. Lots and lots and lots of Dark Reign. Truth be told, I'm a fan of many of the tangent titles so far (Utopia and Dark Avengers), but this is getting out of hand.
That's it. You just made The List.
Fantastic Four #571 (Marvel Comics) - page M41
Reed Richards is running around the universe, kicking ass and taking names. It really begs the question - why hasn't this happened already? Why hasn't any one of the big brains with deep pockets gone about to set things right in their respective reality? It's one of those things you have to overlook in comics, I suppose, but I'm interested to see the ramifications when the right guy for the job actually gets off his rubbery butt and decides to fix things.
Superman: Secret Origin #1 (DC Comics) - page 69
The only reason I have any faith or interest in this is Geoff Johns. I realize that with DC's ravaged continuity, that 'definitive takes' on origins are important, but is there any living, breathing human in civilized society who doesn't know how this goes? The 1st page of 'All Star Superman' really tells you all you need to know. It's graceful and succinct. Another retelling will only serve to muddy the waters further.
Criminal The Deluxe Edition (Marvel Comics/Icon) - page M83
My thoroughly inappropriate and NSFW reaction to this sexy as hell hardcover of one of the best crime comics ever can be found here. Any way, collects the first three trades in an oversized hardcover for $50, and it should fit nicely on my bookshelf with my Daredevil by Brubaker/Lark Omnibus and Immortal Iron Fist Omnibus. Brubaker's work is pretty much always worth this format, and when he's working with Sean Phillips, it's even moreso. Even better, this month sees the return of Criminal in a new series of miniseries format with the return of ex-military tough guy Tracy Lawless.
I don't know what kind of numbers 'Criminal' brings in, but I'm glad Marvel is backing this horse. It's some of the best, character-driven storytelling you're going to find in any medium. It's not just worthy of a deluxe, hardcover edition. It's mandatory.
Oh, and would someone get Randy a tissue?
Mister X: Condemned (Dark Horse) - page 36
My interest in this one is piqued by the strange premise alone. The architecture of a Radiant City, meant to soothe it's inhabitants, has actually plunged the inhabitants into madness. As the city council takes drastic steps to raze many of the buildings, the titular Mister X tries to get to the bottom of it.
Underground #1 (Image Comics) - page 132
A straight-up mystery/drama set in a small town, focusing on park rangers, an opportunistic businessman, and an environmentally-sensitive cave. Written by Jeff Parker, art by Steve Lieber. These guys are always good, and the first issue of this one, which I've had the chance to read in advance, is no exception to that general rule.
If it's half as good as Whiteout, this will be one of those gateway drugs for people who think comics are all about capes.
The Unknown: The Devil Made Flesh #1 (Boom! Studios) - page 214
Mark Waid's modern day thriller about a super-smart female private investigator who may or may not be dying and/or hallucinating has thus far been one of my favorite Waid stories, with terrific artwork by Minck Oosterveer, so I'm really happy to see that there's not only a second series here, but a hardcover collection of the first series. Those who dug Waid's work on Ruse or Potter's Field should definitely pick this one up, as it combines the best elements of both.
The Waiting Place (IDW) - page 269
These days, Sean McKeever is best known for his work on Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Teen Titans and other superhero books, but this was the first book I ever read for him, and it remains one of my absolute favorites. It's basically the story of teenagers living in a dead-end town, and I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that those who dug the early days of Ultimate Spider-Man with its look at high school life would really love it.
Beast OGN (Image Comics) - page 136
Shadowy creatures? Eerie sculptures? Well, that just makes my Lovecraft parts all tingly.
You have Lovecraft parts? I told you to get that looked at. At any rate, this one's an original graphic novel featuring beautiful art from Marian Churchland, who's been doing some pretty nice stuff on Elephantmen.
Magog #1 (DC Comics) - page 80
And the award for killer vigilante with the biggest horns goes to...
Lola GN (Oni Press) - page 278
A young boy who sees dead people, monsters, demons, etc. living in a small town and trying to help. I like the idea, but what I like even more is the sepia-toned artwork from artist Elbert Orr, which looks beautiful. Fans of Courtney Crumrin, keep an eye out for this one.
Oni makes the smart decision to compare this to Jim Henson's 'Storytellers'. That's enough for me to give it a shot. Oh, and it mentions pigs possessed by the devil. WIN.
Strange Tales #1 (Marvel Comics/MAX) - page M80
Marvel makes a grab for indy cred, and it's a pretty good one. Junko Mizuno? Nicholas Gurewitch, of Perry Bible Fellowship? Dash Shaw? Johnny Ryan, of Angry Youth Comix? Finally printing Peter Bagge's "Incorrigible Hulk?" All wrapped up in a Paul Pope cover? Chances are if you're mostly a Marvel fan, you've never heard of these guys, but trust me, that is some serious, serious talent and some serious, serious weirdness. I can't wait to see these creators turn loose mature readers indy style on Marvel icons and C-listers.
Sweet Tooth #1 (DC Comics/Vertigo) - page 107
I love that Vertigo is going a little bit more "out there" for their latest story. It's going to be an even harder sell, as Jeff Lemire's work is decidedly unlike what mainstream audiences are used to, and the premise of a boy with antlers living in a world that suffered a pandemic ten years ago is not an easy one-sentence pitch, to say the least. However... it looks great, and the very thing that's going to make it a tough sell also make it pretty likely to be a complex and fascinating read. Plus, Lemire's art has looked great on his Top Shelf work, but it looks even better with Villarrubia's colors.
I almost applauded Vertigo for being so 'adventurous', but what I really meant was 'damned weird'. Despite all of Vertigo's previous 'off-kilter' titles, most of them had some sort of sexy protagonist for the reader to latch on to. It certainly doesn't seem so here. I just keep thinking of the Goat Boy from the old Saturday Night Live Sketches.
Fallout Toyworks #1 (Image Comics) - page 130
The last time a pop band member created a superhero comic, we got Umbrella Academy. I'm not entirely certain lightning can strike twice, and there are a few too many cooks in this kitchen (three writers and multiple artists) for me to be excited... but because of how great Umbrella Academy is, I can't entirely write it off yet.
Mr. Ashlee Simpson is going to be writing a comic book. Next, the lead singer of Nickelback is going to script Volume 3 of Persepolis.
Galactica 1980 #1 (Dynamite Entertainment) - page 236
I think we all have that friend who brings up embarassing stories, one who loves to tell strangers about the time Randy crapped his pants at Six Flags. Well, Galactica 1980 is the equivalent of Randy crapping his pants at Six Flags. We all love Six Flags. And most of us think Randy is a swell guy, but we'd like them both a lot better if we don't have to remember that story.
I just hope that the Cylons in this can still be stopped by microwave ovens.
For the record, I never crapped my pants at Six Flags.
But Jason totally made out with a tranny on the Cyclone. For real.
Oh, and Galactica 1980 sucked.
True story. But the tranny was actually Nick wearing a scarf. And that's the story of how I got involved with Comic Pants!
There's a similar story about how I came to guest on a LEOG podcast, but it involves Cyrus, a bottle of vodka and a convincing babushka.
Ghost Whisperer Trading Cards - page 334
Hey kids? Are you in need of a good ass beating? Then bring these to school. Nothing will isolate you from your peers like showing off your glossy card of Jennifer Love Hewitt talking to a ghost!
High Moon Vol 1 TP (DC Comics) - page 94
Wild West meets Werewolves. I don't know what else I can say to build interest here, except to say that you can check it out for free at www.zudacomics.com.
Comics really are scratching that horror/Western itch, aren't they? In a genre that's all but dead, so many of the indie publishers are bringing this demented hybrid to the public. For me, you could pretty much inject any horror or oddball element into a Western setting and have my attention. And now that the fads of pirates, ninjas, and zombies are finally petering out, I think it's the werewolf's time in the moonlight.
Mickey Mouse and Friends #296 (Boom! Studios) - page 212
You know what the biggest obstacle has been to selling Disney comics, at least in my store? Old-looking stories (classic or no) packaged in expensive $7-8 packages. Boom! has answered both problems with their continuation of Mickey Mouse and Friends and Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. Truthfully, I'd rather have new issue ones, but I understand that the big numbers are either: A) tradition or B) contractually obligated. More importantly? $2.99 cover price, and cool-looking new stories in the fantasy and superhero tradition with some of the most recognizable kids' characters ever. Boom! continues to lead the way in terms of how licensed kids' comics should be done.
Boom! continues to impress. Their Pixar line is excellent. Their more adult offerings are worthy of putting on your shelf in trade format. The proof will be in the pudding as far as the quality of this new Disney series goes, but they do seem to be aiming in the right direction for kids' comics. If they keep it up, these will go along quite nicely with the Muppets. Now bring me some Uncle Scrooge tales.
Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu (Marvel Comics) - page M52
Over the past few years, I've rediscovered the B-listers I grew up with: Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Daimon Hellstrom. . . Shang Chi has been waiting in the wings for a while now, only flirting with a re-introduction into Marvel proper. Bring on the rest of the 1970's entourage! If nostalgia isn't quite your thing, Marvel sums it up quite nicely - Kung Fu Motorcycle Race.
Nomad: Girl Without A World #1 (Marvel Comics) - page M58
I'm a little hesitant about this one. Pulling more alternate universe characters into 616 is a messy proposition, at best.
Definitely true, but I have a fondness for the female Bucky from an alternate world, I like the idea of her taking on the Nomad name and I really like Sean McKeever's writing. This probably has a built-in audience just slightly higher than the Human Torch miniseries, but I have to admit, I'm kind of looking forward to it.
The Torch #1 (Marvel Comics) - page M9
Every so often, somebody at Marvel gets the idea that the original android Human Torch is a really interesting character. Byrne brought him back in West Coast Avengers, John Ostrander used him in Heroes for Hire and now Alex Ross and Mike Carey are writing a new miniseries. Truthfully, I have some fondness for the character as well, but I question whether or not he's really all that interesting to most comics readers today.
Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #1 (Marvel Comics) - page M17
Give Ellis free reign to work out his transhumanist fetish. Why the hell not? It's the Ultimate universe. Let the guy unleash some of his futurist weirdness.
So far in the pages of Wolverine: Origins, Daniel Way has given us Wolverine's emo son Daken and now he's bringing back Romulus, from what is quite possibly the worst Wolverine story ever.
We may need to quarantine Wolverine: Origins. Or Daniel Way. Or both.
Brave and the Bold #27 (DC Comics) - page 75
Sure, Straczynski had Norman Osborn bang Gwen Stacy and then erased the Peter Parker-Mary Jane marriage of 20 years in the two most unpopular Spider-Man stories of all time, but...
Uh... I'm sorry, I lost my train of thought.
Oh, right! Dial H For Hero! Teaming Up With Batman! For that, I'll tune in. Plus, his Thor run was pretty good.
I'll always wonder how much of Straczynski's infamous Spidey run was his fault. The first person I punch in the throat will be Quesada. Even though the wound hasn't calloused over, I'm going to stop picking at it for now. JMS' run on Thor was more than 'pretty good'. While I only read the first 12 issues, it had brushes with greatness. I don't see him as a natural fit for this title, but I'm eager to see 'Dial H for Hero'.
Spider-Man: The Clone Saga #1 (Marvel Comics) - page M23
It is a testament to how much people hated "One More Day" that Marvel is now releasing the "director's cut" of the Clone Saga as a six-issue miniseries. Because really, how pissed can you be about Ben Reilly when Mephisto presided over the supernatural divorce of Spidey and Mary Jane? We now turn you over to our "I Liked Spidey/MJ married, Damn It" correspondent Jason for some obscenities. Jason?
Holy dammit Christmas, it makes me want to fucking murder someone. It's like they're rubbing 'One More Day' in our faces. "See? The Clone Saga doesn't seem so bad now, does it?" And they're right. I think we all owe Ben Reilly an apology. You want to know what the real story here is? Quesada. Quesada is everything bad about the Bush administration.
Hear me out.
You've got some jackass in charge of everything you love and sometimes, he royally fucks up. But what does he do? He stays the course and feeds you platitudes, telling you that you'll come around to his way of thinking, that this was the plan all along. He doesn't say he's sorry. He doesn't try to fix anything. He just tells us he's right and that we just don't understand.
Well, fuck him. Fuck him up his stupid ass. Can we please get some 'hope' and 'change' in the Marvel Bullpen? Can we elect a new EIC? I'm already voting with my dollar. Now I'm ready to cast my vote with a pair of pliers and a claw hammer.
The Clone Saga? Kiss my white, fanboy ass, Marvel.
...Sorry. I'm not sure what happened there. Kind of blacked out for a minute.
And that's how my own personal Manchurian Candidate program works.
I should say that Quesada's done a lot more good than harm at Marvel, and in general is the best EIC Marvel has ever had, aside from maybe Jim Shooter, but I'm afraid that Jason might come at me with a stabbing weapon.
Trick R' Treat (Wildstorm) - page 100
This trade adapts the anthology horror film that's been floating around in limbo for at least 2 years. I've been dying to see it, as early word pegs it as one of the best horror films in recent memory. The film finally has a release date of this Halloween and the adaptation has a solid stable of creators bringing it to print.
And it should be noted that the writer/director also wrote 'X2' and 'Superman Returns'. Take from that what you will.
See, folks, this is why you need Jason. Because I saw this and I was like, "Well, it's cool that Marc Andreyko and Mike Huddlestone are getting work, but this looks like some random horror bullshit." But Jason? He's dropping horror film knowledge bombs for y'all!
Also, watch this: Hey, Jason? What do you think about One More Day?
Hey, Randy? How would you like to get raped to death by rabid grizzly bears?
I... would like to not.
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?