Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 1/19/11

Very small stack this week but still some good comics, so lets get to it:

First up is Brightest Day #18. Hawkman and Hawkgirl are finally free of the curse but their troubles aren't over yet as the latter's mother now battles them with the Zamaron's entity. Back on earth, Boston's ring's power level begins rising and it isn't necessarily a good thing. Another good issue from the BD crew, that offers both touching and heart-breaking moments. Don't want to get into spoilers on exactly what happened but this will definitely be remember as one of the key issues of the series.

Only other DC book this week, as evidenced by the symbol covers above, is Green Lantern Corps #56. The Sinestro Corps show up to the party on Qward, and things get a little dicey trying to maintain the truce between them and the GLC. More spectacular art from Tyler Kirkham while Tony Bedard's story keeps things fun read. Nothing really new to say about the title but its maintains its high quality month in and month out.

Heading over to Image, we have Memoir #1 of 6. Written by Ben McCool (great name) and illustrated by Nikki Cook, this mini-series follows jaded journalist Trent MacGowan as he goes on assignment to investigate the small town of Lowesville. What makes Lowesville so special? Ten years ago everyone in town had a mysterious lapse in memory and Trent is here to find out why. I really like the premise but the comic just seems ok and doesn't really live up to it. Going to pass on the rest of this mini but if I ever see it collected and on sale, I might give it another try.

Branching into the Marvel creator-owned imprint, Icon, we have Scarlet #4. Scarlet pulls the trigger on this revolution and takes to the streets, first the digital ones and followed by the real ones. Meanwhile, the police are hot on her trail but in no hurry to bring her in alive if you catch my drift. Another solid issue from Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, sort of like a modern-day V for Vendetta that feels believable. Really recommend checking out this title for the rable rowser deep inside everyone.

Part two of our Icon double feature is Superior #4. Madeline Knox, star television reporter, does everything short of dancing naked in the street (much to this reviewer's dismay) to get an exclusive interview with Superior but does she take one-fatal step to far? Still enjoying this book, while I don't necessarily agree with its advertising tag line of "The Best Book On The Stands" it is an enjoyable read.

Last up and pick of the week is Cyclops #2 of 8 from Archaia, making it 2 for 2 on taking the top spot. New recruit Douglas Pistoia gets into the thick of things on his first mission out, causing the nation (and the CEOs counting on him as a symbol) to hold their breath. Loving this book from Matz (writer) and Luc Jacamon (illustrator.) Its balance of battlefield action and home viewer response/television host critiques makes for a great read. Looking forward to the 6 remaining issues and if you haven't checked this book out yet do so immediately.

That is it for the week, not the greatest one but not the worst either. Usual routine; questions, comments, or critiques can be left below or sent to me at Next week features a ton of mutant books and a certain fantastic four issue that is making headlines.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 1/12/11

Great week of floppies, so lets dive right into them:

Kicking it off is Justice League: Generation Lost #17. Max now has Blue Beetle, and given his track record on having someone with that name in his possession, it doesn't look good. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang tries to track him down only to get a visit from an old friend who was definitely built for speed and comfort. Another solid issue from Winick and crew, that gets into what Max has been planning but doesn't give it all away just yet. Next issue, looks to be a battle of DC heavyweights and I for one can't wait to see.

Moving right into it's solo character connected title, we have Booster Gold #40. Titled "The Life and Times of Michael Jon Carter", this issue examines the high jinks of Booster through the eyes of one of his recent enemies. From his lackluster beginnings up through his "cash for Gold" days, this issue presents a fun re-telling of his origin but also manages to begin a new story. Bang up job by Keith Griffen, J.M. DeMatteis (writers), Pat Olliffe, and Rich Perrotta (artists) who manage to create a great jumping on point for the title as well as tackle an issue of Booster's past that seems obviously overlooked through out the years (or at least to my limited knowledge.) If you've been thinking about giving the book a try, now is the perfect time.

Taking a break for a friendly meal, we head over to Red Robin #19 (Yum!) Tim and the gang wake up in a world that isn't quite right, granting the readers a chance to dive in and take the Red Robin pill. Writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Marcus To bring us a wonderfully whimsical issue that is certainly one of their best yet. Even if your not a regular reader of the title, you may want to give this issue a shot as it is a slice of golden age fun set in the modern DCU.

Last up from DC is T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #3. This issue tells the back story of NoMan, the invisible/immortal member of the original T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, who has come out of retirement for this rescue mission. Making him out to be part Dr. Manhattan and part The Vision, Nick Spencer (writer) and Cafu (artist) give us another wonderful issue of this series that examines what is sure to happen when "people" like that live long enough. Looking forward to next month's issue, which I have a sneaking suspicion will focus on the new Lightning.

First and only book from the Marvel universe this week is Widowmaker #3 of #4. Mockingbird and Dominic Fortune infiltrate a Russian army base while Black Widow and Hawkeye go the more traditional route of intel gathering and hit up a Japanese Geisha brothel. A descent issue, that had a few laughs and cool moments, but overall I have been less impressed by this mini-series the more I see of it. Still going to pick up the final issue but not really expecting a whole lot out of it and would definitely recommend passing on the series.

From Image comes Hack/Slash: Me Without You one-shot. Featuring great art by Daniel Leister along with Tim Seeley's awesome narrative, this comic tells the tragic origin of Vlad right up until the moment he first met Cassie and became her slasher killing partner. The perfect companion piece to the recent My First Maniac mini-series, this great one shot gives just the right amount of personality and history to the character without over doing it. While it might be more enjoyable for fans of the Hack/Slash series, I think it can still be fun for those new to the book or who have never read it.

Runner up this week comes from the Marvel imprint Icon, Casanova: Gula #1. Starting another chapter in this wacky/sci-fi spy world, writer Matt Fraction (along with artist Fabio Moon this time) brings us almost more absurdity than a reader could handle. Almost. After a mission gone wrong (maybe?) Casanova Quinn is missing in time and everyone, including a sexy sometimes six-armed blue woman from the future, is looking for him. Meanwhile, his alternate reality sister, Zephyr makes new criminal friends who have some sweet digs and hair styles. Its is hard to explain what exactly I love about the Casanova books but a big part of it is Matt Fraction's bravado to make the story whatever he wants it to be, most of the time fighting against a sensible narrative. In addition to that, it is consistently well drawn (whether by Gabriel Ba or Fabio Moon) and is the one comic that has me choking out "WTF?" in between the constant laughs. Normally I would recommend tracking down the first mini-series (and you definitely should at some point) before jumping into this one, but this series is so twisted you won't be much more lost than every other reader if you just start here.

Pick of the week goes to the latest comic from Image, The Infinite Vacation #1. This comic is about a guy named Mark, or many Marks depending how you look at it, as he sells and buys his way through the lives of his doppelgangers throughout alternate realities. Everything is going... well... not great but ok until suddenly a lot of the alternate Marks Mark has been start dying. This comic blew me away! Spectacular art by Christian Ward with a unique and bizarre story by Nick Spencer, this one has sunk its hooks in and is pulling me deeper into the rabbit hole as I write this and flip through it again. I think the advertisement that got me in called it a blend of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, (500) Days of Summer, and Inception which after reading it I completely agree with. So if you some how skipped this book last week make sure to pick it up this time, as we need awesome comics like this to sell through the rough.

That it for this week. Usual deal leave comments, critiques, suggestions either below or email them to me at Now if you'll excuse me I off to search eBay for an alternate reality Geek Lantern that is either shacked up with Tricia Helfer, Taylor Swift, or both.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 1/5/11

A relatively small week compared to the last few, but it still managed to put some awesome books on the shelf that are worth your while. Here's what I picked up:

First up is The Suicide Forest #2 from IDW. Alan is brought in for questioning by the police due to his friendship with a few people that died, while Ryoko gets chewed out by her boss for following the old/spooky customs of her father. This issue takes steps towards setting a firmer horror tone for the book but still leaves the reader a bit in the dark, which I liked about it. Still not sure if I will be picking this up every month, but I will be getting the next issue so its on its way to becoming a regular.

Next up, comes from Image and is another second issue, Twenty-seven #2 of 4. Picking up right where we left off, with Will surround by ghosts, this issue sees the now dead professor explaining the ritual he tried and speculating as to what the gizmo in Will's chest is really capable of. After this issue, I think I'm sold on the entire mini. Charles Soule's story is interesting and complimented quite nicely by Renzo Podesta's brash art. Looking forward to figuring out what this "9" creature is all about and seeing how much deeper they dig into the 27 club.

Finishing out the smaller publishers this week is Radical's latest book, Earp: Saints For Sinners #1 of 5. Taking the ideas of Wyatt Earp's old west and putting them into the near future, this book treats us to a bloody, bank-robbing, dueling America where cash is king. The recently retired Wyatt is looking forward to the quite life of owning a casino with his good buddy Doc Holiday rather than being the most famous U.S. Marshall of all time who is probably responsible for creating just as many celebrity criminals as he captures. This peace is cut short however, as his younger brother Morgan comes to him for help and brings a full helping of trouble right behind him. I was definitely surprised at how much story ended up being packed in this first issue, and not in a bad way. It manages to create a compelling world that is fully realized while still telling us about the characters and their place in it. Art in the book is in Radical's usual fashion (gritty and realistic), but fits the books like a glove. Can't wait for the rest of this series and to fully immerse myself in the world it creates.

Heading into the superhero fare, we have Avengers: The Children's Crusade #4 of 9. Wiccan being captured last issue leads everyone and their super powered mothers to Latveria resulting in an all out, battle royale at Doctor Doom's castle. Meanwhile said prisoner tries to get the Scarlet Witch to remember who she is. Another beautiful issue from Jim Cheung (penciler), with the only downside being Allan Heinberg's story seems to be moving too fast for a 9 issue series. I am hoping this doesn't turn out to be the case but I could easily see a few of the issues becoming filler and not adding to the story, but I have been known to under estimate writers before.

Jumping over to DC, with their symbol based covers this month, we have Brightest Day #17. Firestorm finds himself in an unwelcoming place, (no longer) Deadman visits with an old relative, and we catch up with hawk family fighting for their lives on Zamaron. This great issue manages to balance the action on Zamaron well with the personal developments in Deadman's life. Art is good, as usual, with the Brand reunion being particularly moving. Hopefully they keep this balance up for the remainder of the series.

Hitting the fast forward button, we head into the DC future with Batman Beyond #1. After the recent events in Gotham City (aka Dick Grayson's clone tearing it up and killing old bat-villains) things have calmed down for Terry and allowed him to enjoy more time with his family and friends. Nothing good lasts forever though as the Justice League comes to town, chasing a thief that's holding the entire mall hostage (including Terry's mother and brother.) Awesome first issue from Adam Beechen (writer) and Ryan Benjamin (penciler), that shows they will keep expanding the universe but aren't going to shy away from characters established in the television show. If you enjoyed the recent mini-series or the TV show from years ago, you really should be checking out this book.

Pick of the week goes to a new mini-series starting up from Marvel, Ultimate Captain America #1. We open with Cap being held hostage and about to be executed in the coming minutes. This gives way to a flashback of 6 weeks ago in North Korea as Steve is on a covert mission to sabotage their Super Soldier program, only to meet someone who bears no love for the stars and stripes. Phenomenal comic from Jason Aaron (writer) and Ron Garney (artist), this first issue really re-ignites the spark of life in the character. Portraying Cap as the hard-headed, ignorant symbol, Aaron sets up what looks to be an interesting, politically-charged tale about the Ultimate universe's super soldiers that will set them apart from their regular Marvel universe counterparts. In addition, Garney's art kicks all kinds of butt while depicting all kinds of butt kicking. Definitley looking forward to more of this mini, as it reminds me of the promise the ultimate marvel universe once showed in things like Ultimates vol. 1 & 2.

That's it for this week, and as of now I am totally caught up on all my comics to be reviewed (or at least until I go and buy the new books out today.) Comments, critiques, and book suggestions can be left below or sent to my email ( Now if you'll excuse me, my talents are required at my X-Box as the Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum and needs to be stopped.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wednesday Pickups The Last Three Weeks of December and of 2010 (12/15, 12/22, and 12/29)

This will hopefully be my last multi-week post for quite a while since I will be all caught up. That said, lets get right into it since all three of these weeks had a lot of books.

First up from the 15th we have our only Marvel entry from the week, Uncanny X-Force #3. Picking up right where we last left them (getting their arses kicked), this issue reveals the origins of Apocalypse's final horsemen as they try to finish off our merry mutants. Wolverine and the gang use every trick up their sleeve, including pop rocks and psychic blades, but not every one makes it to the final show down with Kidpocalypse. Another spectacular issue that really only losses out on pick of the week because I don't want to give the spotlight to this title all the time, even if it's my favorite. Jerome Opena's art is gorgeous, especially for the graphiX-Men, while Rick Remender's story presents us with interesting new characters (in the Final Horsemen) and a fascinating test to see just how deep these X-Men will go into the darkness. If you love any of these characters or the last volume of X-Force, you really need to be picking this up.

Heading over to DC, we have Batman: Orphans #2 of 2. Everyone in the city, good and bad alike, are searching for a package said to contain a villainous super weapon culminating in a battle royale where not everyone walks away. Plus, the secret reason Batman has been recruiting these orphans is revealed. Not the greatest Bat story ever, but all in all it ended up being a descent two issue mini-series. The highlight would have to be Carlo Barberi's (the penciler) fluid and action packed panel structure, which really kept the book moving at a great pace. Ultimately, if you're a fan of Batman's wards I think you'll enjoy this book.

Next up is our bi-weekly dose of cheer, Brightest Day #16. Aquaman tells his newest aquabrother all about his past and dubs him the new Aqualad, with some slick aquabling! Meanwhile, Deathstorm has a little fun with his prisoner's and Firestorm blows up in a big way. An average issue, but one that was needed to keep these particular plot lines moving. Art, as usual, is still pretty good so that and the collector's mentality are reason enough to add this one to you're Brightest Day collection.

Rounding out the usual super suspects, is Green Lantern #60. Parallax takes a new in host in the Flash and the mysterious being collecting the entities is revealed. As I said last time Geoff Johns' story here has been boring me but picking up the slack, Doug Mahkne's art is awesome in this issue. Owning quite a bit to the great inkers (Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Shawn Moll, and Mahnke) and colorist (Rod Reis), I couldn't take my eyes of this vibrant issue even though I didn't care much for the story being told. Also, kind of felt like Johns was stepping on the toes of Tony Bedard's story over in Green Lantern Corps in having a character react in a completely different way than he did in that title. Can't rightly recommend this if your looking for a compelling Green Lantern tale but if your in it for the art, this one does not disappoint.

Adding a little fresh blood to the stack, we have The Suicide Forest #1 from IDW publishing. In this introductory issue we meet the two protagonists of the book; Ryoko, a young Japanese female park ranger working in the Aokigahara forest also know as The Suicide Forest for the massive amount that take place there, and Alan, an American living and working in Tokyo who just ended an exhausting relationship. It is a little early to tell exactly what the book is about besides the ghosts of these suicides stalking the woods, but it certainly lives up to its title. I will be sticking around to find out what El Torres (the writer) has in store for us though. The real appeal of this issue is Gabriel Hernandez art; very rough but strangely alluring it comes together nicely focusing particularly on symmetry of adjacent pages and panels. Definitely give it a chance a flip through at the your local shop to see if you dig it as much as I did.

Going back to a familiar face, from Vertigo we have The Unwritten #20. Continuing with the sexy ending of last issue, Tom and Lizzie bump uglies helping Tom to remember some of the time they spent together as children. This is cut short however as Tom picks up the trail of Moby Dick and ends up in the famed novel. Yet another solid issue from Carey, Gross, and crew; this title never fails to keep my attention and leave me wanting more. The only disappointment was the missed humor opportunity of not one mention Moby Dick during the more intimate scenes ;)

Also from Vertigo this week we get another helping of Vertigo: Resurrected, with John Constantine getting the special treatment. A 100 page collection that contains reprints of Hellblazer #57-58 and #245-256. In the first story, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion, John helps a friend track down a family member's body that is being used for something beyond science; while in the second tale, by Jason Aaron and Sean Murphy, a group is doing a documentary on the long forgotten punk band "Mucous Membrane" and they end up meeting one of John's oldest fans. If you've been following the blog, you know I've really been digging these resurrected titles and in particular the Constantine stories they've featured. This issue just builds that love even more with two great stories by two great, creative duos. Not sure why I never really checked out Hellblazer stuff till recently but I am certainly glad I finally did.

Last up and a double pick of the week is the first two issues of DCs latest series, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (kind of cheated here since they didn't come out this week, but this is when I read them.) Written by Nick Spencer, with pencils by Cafu, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents follows of group of individuals recruited by the United Nations and given super powers to handle covert situations, the catch being the powers will eventually kill them. In these first two issues we see the death and capture of current agents, the assembling of a new team, and (in issue two) the back-story of the new Lighting (one of the agents.) I skipped this title the first time I saw it on the shelves but after a little prodding from John over at the Burnt Weiners Podcast, I decided to give the first two issue a chance and ended up loving them. A perfect blend of action, humor, and drama; this series has it all (along with some great art) and is easily accessible to readers because it isn't bogged down by the lengthy continuity of all the big name titles. While there was a previous T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents title, this one doesn't seem to be tied to it much if at all. Highly recommend giving this new book a shot and if your having a lot of "huh?" moments in the first issue, just press through. Everything gets explained and it will give you a funny new definition of double agent.

Lets keep right on moving with the huge stack of books (15!) from the 22nd.

Starting off with a slew of Marvel books, we have What if? Dark Reign one shot. Sick of Norman Osborn making the real Avengers lives a living hell, Clint Barton (aka Ronin aka Hawkeye) declared he was going to kill the former villain turned... well still a villain but now working for the government. Of course in the regular Marvel universe his plan didn't come to fruition but this comic explores the dire consequences on if it did. Being a big Hawkeye and What If? fan I had to check this out and was not disappointed. Instead of focusing on just the capes and tights aspect, writer Jason Henderson instead explores what if a hero became an assassin/terrorist and how quickly those roles can change in the public eye. Definitely recommend checking out this one shot, there is also back-up story involving Deadpool and Venom but I skipped it since I didn't read the other parts of it and I don't have much interest in either character.

Next up is Secret Avengers #8. John Steele and Max Fury, members of the mysterious Shadow Council (and surprisingly not male porn stars), cook up a scheme to kidnap Shang-Chi but will the Avengers figure it out in time to stop them? Still digging this interesting Shadow Council story of Ed Brubaker's while Mike Deodato's awesomely detailed art provides a great back bone to the book. The only improvement I could ask for is a bit more character development in the coming issues and having read some of Brubaker's other work I am sure that is just around the corner.

Moving in to the mutant books, we have Namor: The First Mutant #5. A one and done issue, this one examines the many faces of Namor through a bystander who has met him on more than one occasion. I have talked about how much I love this title at length previously but I think this issue provides a perfect example of why I love it. Stuart Moore's excellent writing shows the many sides of Namor whereas so many just write him off as the pissed off king. If that wasn't enough to sell you, Ariel Olivetti (whose name is misspelled in the title page, for shame Marvel) turns in more spectacular underwater art, while Brian Ching does some awesome flashback scenes of Namor throughout the years, and Mike Mayhew gives us a delicious cherry topping with his slick cover. If all you know of the character is his anger and physical strength, you really need to give this issue (and series in general) a shot.

Getting into the mutant team books, we have Uncanny X-Men #531. The virus continues to run rampant on Utopia affecting even the strongest among them, meanwhile the de-facto X-Men (basically the few who weren't on island at the time) try to maintain the media panic, find The Collective Man, and find out more about the artificial mutants sporting the powers of the original X-Men. In addition to all that Emma, Shadowcat, and Fantomex continue to deal with Sebastian Shaw. A solid issue with good art and writing but it does seem a little bit crowded plot-wise. It seems to me like Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen (the writers) are trying to fit too many stories into one issue. Hopefully this will end with the Quarantine story line but I don't really see it happening before then.

Rounding out this week's X-books is X-Men #6, the conclusion of Curse of the Mutants. The vampire invasion failed and now Xarus must defend himself against Dracula, Blade, and Cyclops' X-Men, but that doesn't necessarily mean those three are playing nice together. All in all not a bad little story, a bit predicable but still fun and entertaining. The biggest disappointment was the one vampire I wanted gone is still around (hint: she is also on my short list of disliked X-Men.) Looking forward to what's next for our favorite mutants in this title as they apparently head back to the NYC.

Skipping over to Marvel's Icon imprint, we have Superior #3. Simon starts doing the whole hero thing, and in spectacular fashion. Another great issue by Mark Millar (writer) and Leinil Yu (penciler), particularly on Yu's part who draws some awesome crowd panels. Also, a nice little surprise at the end of the issue that hints as to what is really going on. Looking forward to more from this great creator owned book.

Over at DC, we start with Justice League: Generation Lost #16. The boys (Booster, Atom, Blue Beetle, and Rocket Red) engage in an all out battle with the Creature Commandos while Ice tries to help Fire who was shot last issue. Back stateside Batman and Powergirl dig a little deeper into what is really going, only to discover something is rotten in the state of Checkmate. A fun, action centered issue but nothing to spectacular. Still really digging the book though and looking forward to where it goes from here.

The second one shot of this loaded week is Teen Titans: Cold Case. Going back to shortly after "One Year Later" began, this book focuses on Robin and Ravager, the former dealing with the loss of his father and the latter being toyed with by her's. Inevitably, this leads to the two of them (along with Wonder Girl, Cyborg, and Kid Devil) getting roped into a battle with The Rouges. Big fan of this team, especially Robin, so picking it up was a no brainier for me but did not expect it be as well done as it is. Sean Murphy turned in some great art and Mark Sable's story is interesting, adding to the characters without mucking around to much so it can stay as a one shot. If your a fan of Tim Drake, Ravager, or this Titans line up you should give this issue a chance.

Checking in with my second favorite lanterns dressed for the season, we have Green Lantern Corps #55. Things heat up on Qward as Kyle and crew show up to rescue Soranik from The Weaponer and the corps find out about Gathet's secret alliance with Atrocitus. Another solid issue from Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham. Art is great, which has become the status quo on Green Lantern books, and the story actually remains interesting as opposed to Johns' GL book. Hopefully the regular GL series takes some notes from its younger brother here.

Last up from DC proper is Larfleeze Christmas Special one-shot. Being the "good" alien that he is, Larfleeze expects to get everything on his X-Mas list to Santa but he wakes up Christmas morning with not a present in sight. Johns and artist Brett Booth craft a fun one shot for all-ages that not only entertains as a comic but has a maze, make-able ornament, and a recipe for cookies. While its a little late to do so now, this is definitely one comic you could share with the whole family this holiday season.

The final third of this large week kicks off with Kill Shakespeare #8. Fair Othello attempts to ready the men for the coming battle with Richard and his forces while Hamlet and Juliet edge closer together. Consistently one of my favorite books, this issue brings us more amazing work from Andy Belanger (the artist), Conor McCreery, and Anthony Del Col (the co-writers.) The best little Shakespeare reference in this issue is a recreation of one of the more famous scenes from Romeo and Juliet. The question on this title isn't whether its great or not (that's already been decided) but rather whether to pick up single issues or wait for a nice collected edition of it all?

Next book up comes from Image, Skull Kickers #4. Shorty and Baldy make their play to retrieve the chancellor's body but, as per the norm, things don't go exactly their way. More fun, visual story-telling from Jim Zub and Edwin Huang comes in this issue along with quite a few laughs. Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but the unsung hero on this book is Marshall Dillon who does the awesome letters. If your still looking for a reason to check out this book, you have it right there as his letters here are probably the best on the shelves. Also for you RPG nerds out there, this issue contains stat sheets for its two protagonists. Strangely, neither of them has a +2 Shield.

The Stuff of Legend Vol.2 #3, makes a rare and always delightful appearance. In Chapter 3 of The Jungle, our favorite toys are split up as the animal-like ones are forced into the ranks of the Snake's zoo while their humanoid companions become the other animals' latest prey. While I don't talk about this title as much as I'd like, since the time between issues is lengthy, it is always a joy when I do. Sort of a cross between Toy Story and Saving Private Ryan, this comic has something for everyone and one of the easiest titles to hand to non-comic fans. With spectacular illustrations by Charles Paul Wilson III and a compelling story written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, this is one of the few comic I have no problem shelling out the $4.25 for every time it appears on the shelf. If your unfamiliar with The Stuff of Legend series, do yourself a favor and check out the first collection here. (Its only $11.05!)

No stranger to the blog is the next entry, American Vampire #10. Pearl and Henry continue to enjoy their new peaceful secluded life and take in a local jazz club opening, while we find out exactly what happened to Hattie after Pearl got her hands on her quite a few years back. Same great continuing story from Scott Snyder while Mateus Santolouco (and this time its Vertigo with a name misspelled on the title page) does the art solo for a few issues and it looks satisfyingly gruesome. This along with The Stuff of Legend were both close to pick of the week and probably would have taken it if they next book didn't have that new hotness appeal working for it.

Pick of the week comes from Archaia (in what is probably their first single issue appearance on the blog), Cyclops: The Recruit #1 of 8. Written by Matz and illustrated by Luc Jacamon, Cyclops takes place in the only somewhat distant future of 2054. Jobs are still tough to find as our protagonist, Doug Postoia, is forced to join up with a security firm who just landed the U.N.'s outsourcing contract and is now handling their military missions. This war will be seen by everyone the world over, as soldiers wear camera helmets and are affectionately known as cyclops (hence the title.) While this issue is mostly setting up the world, it starts with a bang that draws you, and the masses watching this war from their living rooms, in with every dark detail. This sci-fi thriller book looks to explore the fine line between entertainment and war reporting, and judging by this first issue it does so in spectacular fashion. Bottom line - buy this book!

2 Weeks down, 1 to go

Kicking off once again with marvel we have Ultimate Avengers (Vol.) 3 #5. The Avengers begin staging a massive attack force to take down the growing vampire populace but, Nerd Hulk (the new vampire leader) is tired of waiting and decides to attack the Triskelion. Essentially just another issue in this average arc, it has its funny moments and it has its ones that you roll your eyes at. The one thing that probably sets it apart, is its pretty descent examination of newer Avenger Perun and what brought him to where he is. Like I've said before, I wouldn't recommend it out right but if you think you might enjoy a bad vampire horror movie involving the Avengers, give it a shot.

Sticking in the Ultimate Marvel U, Ultimate Thor #3 of 4 is next. Its all been leading up to this, as Loki leads his army of Nazis and Frost Giants into Asgard destroying everything in their wake, Ultimate Ragnarok is here! Continuing this great mini by Jonathan Hickman (writer) and Carlos Pacheco (penciler), this issue really delivers on what the story has been building to but ends on a great cliff hanger going into the final issue. Looking forward to the book wrapping up nicely next month and it should make a great TPB purchase for those who held off on it.

Shifting time zones to the 616, Widowmaker #2 of 4 strangely creates no widows. Picking up right where it left off, Widow and crew are forced in to battle with the ruskies accusing Hawkeye of being the multiple murder eliminating politicians under the guise of Ronin. Descent issue as far as continuing the story but I honestly did not enjoy Manuel Garcia's art that much. Looking forward to getting back to David Lopez's art in issue #3. Still if you've been digging the Hawkeye and Mockingbird title, I recommend checking this mini out. Even if I wish they would have just kept it as a crossover between that and Black Widow.

Heading into the X-titles, we start it off with X-Men: The Heroic Age one-shot. Essentially the book is a guide to the current X-Men and mutant world written from the perspective of recently returned to life Steve Rodgers. Definitely a worthwhile investment ($3.99, but your getting a lot of book) for anyone who hasn't been keeping up with all the mutant books and it even manages to drop some knowledge on those of us that have been.

Next up was an impulse pick and one in which the cover really won me over, Chaos War: X-Men #1 of 2. Chaos War apparently centers around Chaos King (new character to my knowledge) putting every living person into eternal sleep and destroying the underworld so the dead return to earth. This comic follows some of the desceased X-Men (Thunderbird, Banshee, Moria MacTaggart, Esme & Sophie Cuckoo, and three clones of Jamie Madrox) as they come to and figure out what is going on. Really enjoyed Doug Braithwaite's art in this book and the story (by Chris Claremont & Louise Simpson) is ok but not particularly strong. It is mainly held back by Claremont's tendency to over explain everything to the reader (via character's thoughts and dialogue), something that has really been keeping me away from his books. I will pick up the second issue, since there is only two in the mini, but I'm not expecting any thing worthwhile besides more of Braithwaite's art.

Rounding out the X-books is New Mutants #20, Rise of the New Mutants part 1. After their narrow escape last issue Magick, Karma, and Pixie make it back to Utopia to regroup with X-Men and prepare to "rescue" their friends. Meanwhile in Limbo, General Ulysses finally starts to get his revenge on the demons for trapping his people there for so long. Still LOVE this book! Zeb Wells (writing) and Leonard Kirk (artist) truly are a dynamic duo, putting out one of Marvel's best books every month. Wells manages to show he's got everything well planned out by returning to and answering questions that have been present since this title launched. Can't wait to see how he wraps it up next issue and where the New Mutants stand going into the Age of X.

Heading over to the distinguished competition, we kick it with the young-ins in Teen Titans #90. After a certain hot head ruined things last issue, the team tracks down this TK kid and finds his high school isn't just sloppy joes and boring math lectures. Another great issue from J.T. Krul and Nicola Scott, they keep the current story line moving at a good pace but also throw in a little guide as to where their going next. Judging by the end of this issue Robin and Ravager are going to have their hands full next time, which is sure to result in our enjoyment almost equaling their own.

Adding a bit of color to the mix, we have Green Lantern #61. Taking a break from Hal and the gang, this issue focuses on Atrocitus tracking down the rage entity, The Butcher. The Butcher isn't alone how ever as he has started stepping on the toes of The Spectre, and good ole Crispus Allen certainly isn't one to take that lying down. It seems like I've been saying how bored I've been with this title for months, and in this issue Geoff Johns finally delivers a story I could sink my teeth into. While it does seem to play a role in the over all story of Krona trying to capture the entities, I think this chapter can stand on its own two legs and represent Atrocitus' adventures on earth. Doug Mahnke delivers some stellar pencils, as usual, and his team of inkers and colorist (Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen, Mark Irwin, and Randy Mayor) really complete the art. If you've been iffy on or staying away from GL as of late I recommend you give this issue a shot, its a great example of what Johns and crew are still capable of delivering.

Keeping the Johns' train running, we have The Flash #8. Centering on Eobard Thawne this issue tells the Revese Flash Rebirth, and just how he became the man that who attempted to destroy the Flash legacy before it even began. Haven't checked in on this title since the first issue, and I must say I was really please with it. While I don't think I will start picking it up regularly (it seems to be heading into some Flashpoint event) Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins certainly put together a great one and done on the Reverse Flash. If your into the character, you might want to consider grabbing the issue even if your not regularly reading the title.

Hitting up one of the smaller companies, Slave Labor Graphics (SLG) Publishing, we have The Royal Historian of Oz #3. After being captured last issue, Frank awakens in Oz to find them a lot friendlier then he expected while the Ozians discover one of their own didn't feel like coming back. Not much new to add here, other than that I am still enjoying this fantasy tale from Tommy Kovac (author) and Andy Hirsch (artist.) The pacing seems to be a little slow for my taste but the humor more than makes up for it in the long run.

Saving the best for last we have the one shot Whatever Happened To The World's Fastest Man? from Accent UK. Its a cheat pick since it didn't come out this week, this just happened to be when I got it in the mail. The comic follows Bobby Dole, your average fellow, on the most important "day" of his life. In his city, a mad scientist placed a bomb that could not be defused and would kill everyone in two city miles. It is at this point Bobby comes into play as he posses the power to stop time and he could potentially save almost everyone but it would take his entire life to do so (as he ages normally when outside time.) Don't want to go to much beyond there story-wise, suffice to say this comic blew me away. After its glowing reviews from Tales from the Parents Basement and Burnt Weiners podcasts, I was a little skeptical on it holding up to their praise but it went above and beyond. This book contains a phenomenal story that is not only emotional but puts you in to the shoes of the protagonist, and is paired with some great art that perfectly illustrates the passing and standing still of time. Written by Dave West, with art by Marleen Lowe few comics in 2010 have been more deserving of your hard earned cash. Probably not a book you will find on your local shelf, I highly urge you to track it down (Hint: checking out the Accent UK website should give you a good start.)

Well that wraps up a very lengthy edition of Wednesday Pickups. You know the deal, any comments, recommendations, or questions can be left below or sent to my email at Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pass out on some long boxes with visions of Psylocke dancing in my head.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Circle of Trust #5: Howl (2010)

If your new, this is the series where I talk about the DVDs I receive as member of Oscilloscope Laboratories' Circle of Trust. To learn more about Oscilloscope, the awesome movies they distribute, and their illustrious Circle of Trust DVD club click the link above.

This time we are looking at Howl, written/adapted and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman, starring James Franco. Definitely my favorite film Oscilloscope has put out so far and one that will end up pretty high on my top ten list of films from this year (whenever I finally get that written out); Howl is a 3 part film that features an illustrated verison of the title poem, a re-enactment of the trial in which it was accused of being obscene material and therefore not art, and a blended in narrative/fictional interview with Franco as Alan Ginsberg (writer of the poem Howl) revealing his life and thoughts on the poem. I first saw this film back in September and rather than rehash my review of it (found here), I will simply link you to it and hope you check it out if you haven't already. The one important note I do have to add about the film itself though is that it stands up to repeat viewings, and I found it just as impact-full a second and third time. Now, onto the DVD itself.

Oscilloscope has the film available in two packages, the first a standard DVD copy and the second a blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Similar in packaging style, although a slight size difference is given to the blu-ray box, the main difference is the definition (DVD vs Blu-ray) and a few additional features on the blu-ray disc. For starts both contain a feature length audio commentary (with Franco, Epstein, and Friedman), an interesting making of featurette that goes in depth about the film and Alan Ginsberg, four research interviews with former associates of Ginsberg, and two readings of Howl (one by Ginsberg and one by Franco.) So needless to say, you are getting a jam-packed disc and the quality of the material makes it well worth the price of admission. The aforementioned blu-ray only features are a Q & A with the director's at Provincetown Film Festival and Ginsberg reading two of his other works (Sunflower Sutra and Pull My Daisy), which are neat little bonuses but not necessarily must have extras.

Not surprisingly based on my original thoughts on the film and the nice selection of features, I am giving this DVD (while I have the blu-ray combo, I recommend either one just as much depending on your player availability) 5 out of 5 stars. If your looking for how to get a hold of it or just to see the film check out the links below. It is officially out today (actually just turned 12:00 am CST while writing this paragraph.)

Buy either the Howl DVD or Blu-ray combo from Oscilloscope Labs

Add Howl to your Netflix Queue