Bad news for fans of lame jokes and lamer colored pencil-on-index card art fans. I haven’t been able to connect to the place on the Internet where my computer sends scanned images into Blog@, either because something’s wrong with my computer, or something’s wrong with Blog@, or my computer and Blog@ are fighting, so this week’s installment is nothing but words, words and more words. On the plus side, there’s a lot more words devoted to more books.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
Astro City: Shining Stars: Here’s the latest chunk of Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s superhero comics, including miniseries Astra, Silver Agent and one-shot Beautie. It’s a $25, 210-page hardcover.
Dark Horse Presents #1: After a stint online, the venerable Dark Horse anthology returns to print, now in the form of an $8, 80-page, full-color, ad-free, bound format. This first issue will include work from (deep breath) Frank Miller, Harlan Ellison, Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, Richard Corben, Carla Speed McNeil, Michael T. Gilbert, Paul Chadwick, Randy Stradley, David Chelsea and others. In other words, not something you wouldn’t want to take a look at. Preview here.
DC Comics Presents: Ninja Boy #1: DC’s line of $8, almost-trades saves another property from the back-issue bins. This was a one-time WildStorm property, written and drawn by Ale Garza, with co-writer Allen Warner and co-artist Dan Norton. The 2001, six-issue miniseries was remarkably manga-inspired,not simply in the accents of Garza’s art-work, but in the premise and characters as well. That premise? Cheeky ninja kid has action-comedy adventures. I remember trying and not really liking the book much, but it’s certainly interesting in it’s attempt to process familiar elements from Japanese pop culture into something American, regardless of how successful it was. This book will include the first four issues. For a more traditional offering from DC in the same format, this week also sees the release of DC Comics Presents: Legion of Super Heroes—Legion of the Damned.That was a millennial storyline by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who have since gone on to become fairly synonymous with space-faring superhero adventures, and Olivier Coipel. The solicitation on dccomics.com is rather forthcoming about why this one’s being published like this now: “With the hardcover collection of LEGION LOST coming in June, DC Comics collects the tale that led into that space-spanning epic”
Dungeons & Dragons Classics Vol. 1: I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on Blog@ before, although I know I’ve discussed it repeatedly on my own blog, Every Day Is Like Wednesday, but the old DC/TSR Advanced Dungons & Dragons comic book was the one that got me into comics, setting me on a slippery slope that—greased with Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Neil Gaiman and company’s Sandman and a few Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle Bat-comics— led me to become the well-adjusted, comic book-obsessed, destitute blogger and mini-comic maker I am today. IDW has repackaged and republished it, along with the previously released DC/TSR Forgotten Realms. This first volume of AD&D comics will collect the first eight issues of the series, all drawn by Jan Duursema (she drew every issue of the series, save two fill-ins from Tom Mandrake), and written by first Michael Fleisher and then Dan Mishkin. Fleisher’s arc, comprising the first four issues, is rather unremarkably straightforward, but starting with Mishkin’s first arc, the book improves greatly, moving away from strict adherence to sword and sorcery business into something a bit more interesting. The second half of this book, for example, is the story “The Spirit of Myrrth,” in which our heroes are hired by the ghost of a dead jester to secure a powerful magical joke scroll before the city’s Jester’s Guild gets it and creates a giant jester skeleton to—well, it’s pleasingly strange, is what I’m trying to say. The trade is a $20, 200-page trade paperback. For IDW’s original exploitation of the D&D license, you can check out the publisher’s Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Sun #4 and Dungeons and Dragons #6, also on sale this week. Those are both $4 books.
The Girl and The Gorilla: Two former sure-fire things to put on the cover of comic books in order to sell them—in the same book! (I imagine that’s where Angel and The Ape came from, huh?) This is the graphic novel debut of Madeleine Flores, an $11,100-page, black and white trade about a girl who crosses paths with a gorilla, and the events that ensue. The preview sure looks swell.
Hitman: Ace of Killers: In the title story of this seven-issue collection of Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Hitman, Gotham hitmen Tommy Monaghan and Nat The Hat square off against an eight-armed demon from hell that is literally made out of dead Nazis, and to survive the night they’ll need the help of Jason Blood, Etrigan The Demon, Catwoman (summoned via the cat-signal) and the last thing she was hired to steal. It looks like this collection will also include a one-issue Christmas story in which Tommy and Nat are hired to take down a radioactive Santa Claus. That story is the worst Hitman comic of them all, in my estimation, but “Ace of Killers” is a pretty great one, and even bad Hitman is better than most comics. It’s an $18, 190-page trade paperback.
Marijuanaman: Today is April 19, or 4/19. That means tomorrow is April 20, or 4/20. Ziggy Marley and Image Comics are releasing a book entitled Marijuanaman. What a weird coincidence, huh? The $25, 48-page hardcover would probably be easy to dismiss, were Marley not working with the formidable creative team of Joe Casey and Jim Mahfood.
Mister Wonderful: A Love Story: Without a doubt, the release of the week is Daniel Clowes’ latest, a $20, 80-page, horizontal hardcover version of the cartoonist’s New York Times Magazine serial. It’s the tale of a lonely, middle-aged divorcé who goes on a blind date and meets a woman who may or may not turn out to be the woman of his (rather modest) dreams. I’ll have a review of it shortly, but in the mean time, it’s obviously highly recommended, and features the best uses of splash pages I’ve seen in a comic in a good long time. (Eat it, Green Lantern!)
Skaar: King of The Savage Land #2: Devil Dinosaur appearance alert!
Spectacular Spider-Man #1000: Sooooo someone at Marvel thought it would be funny if joke character Deadpool had an issue #900 and #1000 of his comic book to make fun the trend of renumbering previously renumbered comics, and some other folks at Marvel didn’t get the joke, and so random characters have just started having random #1000 issues…? Is that right? Well, here’s a Spider-Man one.
Spider-Man: New York Stories: One advantage the Marvel heroes have always had over their older, more fantastical counterparts at DC is the sense of place and rock-solid setting their adventures have always had, by virtue of their stories being set in the same, real-world city that the majority of their writers and artists lived and worked in, and where their publisher is still headquartered. This $20, trade paperback collection is apparently organized around Spider-Man as a New Yorker. Writers including Stan Lee, Kurt Busiek, Karl Kesel, Sean McKeever, J.M. DeMatteis, Frank Tieri, Joe Casey and artists like Marcos Martin, Paulo Siqueira, Val Semeiks, Stephanie Buscema and Eri Canete tell tales of Spidey, Captain America, JJJ Sr., Hammerhead, Jackpot and Frog-Man.
Suicide Girls #1: IDW’s four-issue miniseries written by Brea Grant, plotted by Steve Niles, Missy Suicide and Grant and drawn by the incredible David Hahn (with covers by the even more incredible Cameron Stewart) kicks off in the first in a four-issue series. That’s a pretty interesting creative team—I hope it turns out being worthy of talents like Hahn and Stewart’s time and attention. I also hope its full of nudity, drawn and photographic; there’s way too much almost-but-not-quite nudity in too many crappy comics in the direct market today, so an honest-to-God softcore/pin-up comic that goes all the way and is well-written and well-drawn can only help. Plus, I like looking at naked ladies. It’s a $4 comic.
Super Dinosaur #1: With a name like Super Dinosaur, how can it not be at least a little awesome? The Astounding Wolf-Man creative team of Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard are behind this comic about a brilliant Tyrannosaurus Rex with robot arms and weapons who protects the dinosaurs of Inner-Earth from the outer world.
Taxidermist: A few minutes of Internet research reveals only that this book is a $25, 130-page hardcover, it’s by John Wagner and the incredible Ian Gibson, and it has a great cover making use of Olympic and U.S. imagery. That’s actually probably more than enough for me to know I wan to read it. Just as soon as I can find an extra $25…
Winterworld: Another of IDW’s rescue projects, this $18, 150-page trade paperback collects Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino’s 1987 Eclipse miniseries. It’s a tale of an icy, frozen future, in which “an amoral adventurer and an orphaned girl form an unlikely alliance.” The collection will include a new sequel, WinterSea, and will be presented in black and white.
X-Men: First Class—Class Portraits: This $15, 145-page trade collects some of those random First Class one-shots Marvel’s been publishing lately (Like Brian Clevinger and Juan Doe’s excellent Iceman and Angel one-shot and the also excellent Lee Black and Dean Haspiel Cyclops one-shot ) plus some stories from Spider-Man Family and Marvel Comics Presents.
Zatanna #12: I really like Amanda Conner’s cover for this issue. That is all.