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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #3 [Review]

Story: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Layouts: Kevin Eastman
Art: Dan Duncan
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Associate Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by:IDW

I’ll talk about the “bad” here, first. This is not the TMNT that I grew up with. The characters themselves–as we’ve learned in these last couple issues–are quite different from previous iterations. For one thing, so far, we don’t even have all four turtles together as one family–three believe their ‘brother’ may not even exist, while this ‘brother’ doesn’t even know about the others or how he came to be what and where he is at present. And after half a decade of the primary TMNT book being Tales of the TMNT, a monthly series with mainly done-in-one stories, I can’t help but feel like this story is decompressed, and I’m anxious to see the turtles as a group–it seems so obvious that they’re not going to be kept apart more than perhaps this arc, so it’s easy to just want to get to that point and get on with things.

But–and this is in the face of any and all complaints listed above or not–I am loving this book on the whole. I’m still getting used to Duncan‘s art, but with the assumption that he’s going to be “the” TMNT artist long-term, it’s easy to see how I’m going to find myself embracing this vision of the turtles. Much as Lawson defined these characters for me for years on the Mirage series, I totally expect Duncan‘s will as well. I certainly hope so, anyway. There’s a sort of sketch-like quality to the art that in many cases would tend to put me off a bit, but here, it manages to–through the colors–evoke a bit of the more familiar black-and-white take on the characters. The colors are a bit muted, which lends another quality to the visuals that I like. There’s plenty of color…but the muted tones fit with the sort of muted story.

These are not super-heroes…these are mutants living in a sewer, trying to avoid detection while seeking out a lost family member. I wish I could say that Eastman‘s breakdowns were obvious to me–but I only know that work based on the issue’s credits. However, it’s cool (at least on a meta level) knowing he’s got that sort of hand in this as a part of the overall visual storytelling on this series, and lends a bit of continuity between the classic and the current.

The story itself is actually quite good–I’m really enjoying it, despite it feeling stretched and such. That, or it’s just got me that hooked and engaged that I’m eagerly awaiting each new issue, and it’s always at the top of my stack when I decide what I’m going to read first. Eastman obviously gets the characters, having co-created them. And while I’m otherwise unfamiliar with Waltz, he’s got a big part in this, too, or wouldn’t be credited as he is.

This issue opens with a several-page fight scene in which Raphael (well, we know it’s him but he doesn’t) and Casey beat on some purse-snatchers, while their banter serves to give us exposition, filling things out about the characters more rapidly than otherwise possible, given the flow of story. In their home, the other turtles finish a training session before touching off an ongoing argument amongst themselves and Splinter. A flashback further fleshes out the characters’ current origin. Finally, it seems the two groups may soon converge, as we’re left on a cliffhanger that may or may not be a bigger deal than it looks.

Oh, and just in case anyone’s wondering: there is as yet no mention of Oroku Saki, no mention of a Shredder…and to me, that’s a fantastic blast of fresh air. I’m thankful for a nemesis that is not just another re-tread of a character who was never supposed to appear beyond the original TMNT #1 27 years ago. If you’re at all interested in the TMNT–this is a great re-imagining of the characters, worthy so far of the classic work and certainly a wonderful entry point for new readers. Whether you’re steeped in TMNT mythology or brand-new, there’s plenty here for all.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 9/10

Superman #2 [Review]

Flying Blind

Script & Breakdowns: George Perez
Pencils & Inks: Jesus Merino
Colors: Brian Buccellato
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover: Perez & Buccellato
Associate Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

From the very first look at this issue–the cover–there’s something that’s been missing for me for a long, long time from Superman comics. I can’t quite put my finger on it, put words to it…but I’m pretty sure it’s something to do with just really liking the look of this new costume as shown here. Maybe it’s just simply that I like Perez‘ art over so much of what I think of with a lot of Superman stuff in recent years and so the cover grabs me. This also seems like the sort of cover, somehow, that “fits” an early issue of a new series, and whatever else to it I can’t find words for…I just simply like this cover.

The interior visuals are high quality as well, and I can’t help but think some of that’s gotta be Perez doing the breakdowns, which makes things fit the story moreso than if the writer and artist were working far more independently of one another. Paging through the issue again, I really can’t find anything that particularly bothers me about the visuals, that isn’t attributable to a generic creature/antagonist or keeping with a “newish” younger look to Clark Kent.

The story itself is good, with all the elements that I’ve tended to enjoy about a Superman comic. And for what seems like the first time in too many YEARS, Clark Kent is actually a part of the Superman story again. Maybe not a huge part, and it’s too soon for me to have much hope of any great emphasis being placed on the Clark Kent personality…but Clark is there, is a part of the story unfolding, and for now, that’s a marked improvement over things during the New Krypton era of the previous DC Universe. I really enjoy that we have Clark, Lois, Jimmy, and Superman all playing parts in the overall story. Cat Grant even appears here, and we at least have a mention of Perry. There’s even a sense of continuity here, that Superman’s got a past, even though in some ways this is like a new beginning of his career. He comes off as a bit unsure of things and yet confident enough to do what he’s gotta do.

As we open the issue, Superman’s awaiting information from Sam Lane, who remains distrustful of the man of steel from their prior encounter (in the “5 years ago” story going on in Action Comics right now). We then transition to Lois and Clark discussing their encounter at the end of the previous issue before returning briefly to General Lane, and then Superman encountering the “monster” of this issue–a creature that everyone but him seems to be able to see. After getting knocked around by the creature, Superman of course figures out a way to deal with this threat, in a fight that rages across 11 of the issue’s 20 pages. Finally, we cut to Superman recording an audio journal or log–his narration has not actually been internal this issue, as it originally appeared to be. This also allows for some more defining of the current relationship Clark has with Lois, and then we’re set up with a mild cliffhanger to lead into the next issue.

All in all…another great issue, which is quickly cementing this as a version of Superman I’d love to read long-term…and somehow, I’m even ok with Superman and Lois not (yet) being romantically involved here. It’s also great that rather than load the back of the issue with a preview I’m not even going to read (yet tend to be annoyed at having to page through to make sure there’s no other RELEVANT content to the issue in-hand), this issue has only a single page advertising Batman: Noel.

Though there’s obviously an over-arcing story building…this is the second issue, and we’ve already had two stories where amidst the other character interactions and details, we’ve had the beginning, middle, and end of a creature’s introduction and battle with Superman, rather than stretch either of these into 4+ issue arcs apiece.

Of the two main Superman books, this is by far my favorite for the story, art, and the feeling of actually getting my money’s worth in content. I expect Action Comics will read as a fast but engaging graphic novel, if you want an actual comic with serialized adventures of Superman, this is certainly the title to get. As an “old fan” I’m greatly enjoying this…but it seems there’s enough here that a new or lapsed reader would be able to figure stuff out fairly easily as well without missing out on anything.

Highly recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8.5/10

A Computer Reboot Analogy

This morning, I read this piece on Geek’s Dream Girl and though talking about ongoing games in an RPG with a new rules set, it really put me in mind of DC Comics‘ recent reboot/relaunch.

I also read this piece at Grumpy Old Fan about DC still having a massive history which makes up its entire reprint library at present.

And then I realized I’d closed Windows Live Writer when I rebooted my computer last night, and the word “reboot” stuck in my head…there’s gotta be a lengthy analogy here somewhere.

I hate restarting my computer. The way I use it–constantly multitasking, with at least a half-dozen different things running at once, often a dozen or more tabs in each of often several Firefox/browser windows…it’s highly inconvenient to think of trying to shut the machine down entirely every night.

So, it’ll often be put into standby or whatever, so that the open things stay open, and it’s a matter of but a few seconds to get back to that writing project I started 2 days earlier, to continue reading the whole glob of threads from opening links off a core article, to continue editing that slideshow project, and to keep track of where I left off the ongoing “classic reviews” project that will allow this blog to have daily “new” content for the next 5 weeks minimum.

Whenever I do bring this computer up from a full shutdown, it loads the requisite minimum, the default stuff and background processes, etc. I’ll then bring other programs up specifically, and build from there. Sorta like a publisher setting up the default background stuff, then one by one (or small groups) bringing new titles out. Those build on each other, and eventually there may be a fairly large “universe” of stories (or glump of software running).

And invariably, that’s eventually gonna get outta hand–problems will come up, and it becomes necessary to exit some of those programs–naturally (hey, a series comes to an organic ending for the story) or to terminate some of those processes (cancellation of a series). But even with all that, eventually the computer gets to where it’s just got too much going, that even trying to trim back what’s running isn’t solving the problem.

And there comes a time when I just have to take the time to look at all the stuff that’s open, determine what I’m going to save for the next go-round, what I can dump…and reboot the machine.

The stuff that I saved will come back up (if not right away, then when I remember I was working on it), and the stuff that didn’t really matter…well, it’s not really a loss.

Maybe a dumb analogy, but I’m mildly entertained at it…and it’s just the way my mind works sometimes, seizing on stuff that may or may not generally fit together, but still making the analogy. Sorta like how working at a job with high turnover and realizing that you can’t even remember the name of someone who sat/worked next to you for months can be an analogy for immortality (as can the different “lives” one can live in different stages of a single lifetime).

The Rest of the Stack: Week of October 19, 2011


The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.


fearitself007Spoilers ahead. When? When am I going to learn that Marvel does not ever, Ever, EVER actually END an event? It’s just the attempting “hook” of the next thing. This issue hardly made any sense. More posturing. More glowy/Tron Legacy-style characters, more magical weapons transforming characters into weird alternate-version-action-figures of themselves. And just a couple years after all the hoopla over JMS having an interesting story to bring Thor back? Hey, let’s kill him off. AGAIN. And let’s just have all these vague little “moments” to spin off into other stuff. The story ends way early, but wait–there’s more! There are these multiple “epilogues” that REALLY are PROLOGUES to other series and such that Marvel wants you to go out there and buy. And of course, like a complete sucker, I fell in for it. And at $4.99 for this issue. Pretty sure that means I was hoodwinked into paying for those prologues. And the Hulk stuff makes no sense.


fearitself007aYeah, in writing this, if you think *I* am being choppy, well…I’m just emulating what I read. I was almost content to not even buy this issue, but figured no, I’ll finish the series, finish the event. But it doesn’t even truly end, it just sets you up for these other spin-off series, and these .1/.2/.3 issues (aka Fear Itself #7.1, #7.2, #7.3 so they can claim you don’t have to buy ANOTHER mini-series to make sense of this one, nor have to admit this series is now 10 issues instead of the originally stated 7). And you know what? I barely paid attention to the art here. Maybe it was ok, maybe it just wasn’t horrible, but I was trying to follow the story, and neither story nor art nor the combination really made things make the sort of sense they were surely going for. I may sound cliche, but fired up as I am at this, and seeing this as being another of Marvel‘s “core” things…well, chance after chance after chance, but I’m sorry, I just am not interested in more than the concepts. The actual stories, the actual execution of whatever ideas…there just isn’t any satisfaction to whatever payoff there is. Very dissatisfied with this issue, this series, and I’m voting with my wallet. I’m out. (2/10)


invincibleironman509My 10th issue post-500 (counting that 5xx.1 issue)…and yeah, I’m done. Modified my pull list recently, and told my comic shop I’d finish out Fear Itself and Iron Man, but none of the follow-ups. None of the spin-offs. Maybe I’m just out of touch with Marvel, but whatever potential there was here is squandered. Surfacey plan on Tony’s drinking. Whatever this Asgardian armor thing is, he looks like the Destroyer or whatever that robot with the visor is–but no one says anything about it, nor do I get what its properties are, whether this is a quasi-permanent thing or not. There’s some interaction between Tony and a dwarf that could set up stuff for down the road, but time alone will tell on that. Pepper’s situation is “conveniently” dealt with, squandering tension from the previous issue. And much as I loved Fraction‘s first 24-some issues in particular–it’s what got me buying this in the first place–all that goodwill has pretty much been crapped away–though I mainly blame Marvel in general and these darned event-after-event-after-Event-after-EVENT thing they’ve been doing. Art’s the usual for this title. Story’s probably not bad once it gets explained by those more patient than me, or in the collected volume (maybe with some tie-ins thrown in for better flavoring). Again…voting with my wallet. I’m done. This isn’t worth $3.99/issue, I’m caught up, and I’m choosing not to keep buying a title on the offchance it’ll get better “next month” or have an epiphany-type moment. (5/10)


justiceleague002If I’m paying $3.99, it’s for extra pages of story. If you want to–on top of a full issue at $2.99–give me extra pages of text or prose or whatever to add to the worldbuilding, sure, great. But if I’m paying for it? No. Not my cup of tea. 22 pages of story for $3.99, with some supplemental stuff. The Superman and Batman design pages were semi-interesting, because I’d listened to an interview weeks ago with Mr. Hamner discussing having been hired to do these guides. But the Steve Trevor transcript segments did nothing for me. Somehow I’m not quite AS fired up about this as I was about practically the same thing happening with Action Comics #2…but the mood I’m in having read this week’s comics, and being so freaking tired of comics’ prices, their VALUE these days, this title’s on my chopping block. Like Action…maybe I’ll enjoy it more in a collected volume, from Amazon, bundled with something else for free shipping, to justify whatever the cost. Get the whole story in one go so it feels like an actual story instead of a segment, and not have it broken up by the same old useless ads and such, and hopefully without stupid PAID backmatter clogging things up. The story–this feels like just another segment of something much bigger, that is INTENDED for a single story, which it will achieve in collected-edition format. The art’s good–it’s Jim Lee, after all–but even some of that seems to be posturing, and doesn’t really “do” anything for me. At $3.99 and not being significantly longer (remember, Superman #1 was what–25 pages for $2.99???) than anything else…you’re probably best off waiting for the graphic novel. (6/10)


batman002Best of the week. Which isn’t saying much. Well, I suppose moreso, it doesn’t take much. This has Batman, and Bruce, Dick shows up and we see that this isn’t gonna be some dumb cliche thing. We jump right into the action, then flash back to pick up where #1 left off and resolve things and head to that opening action, and then wrap up from there. Though this is part of a continuing story, we get a functional beginning-middle-end that works, and I’m interested in coming back for the next issue. The art’s good overall, though I don’t much care for some of the panels that just seem…”off.” All in all, solid story and solid art, doing what a single issue should. Also potentially fortuitous that this came out the day after the Batman: Year One animated film, and that I read this issue shortly after watching an interview “extra” on the B:YO disc with Snyder and others talking about Batman. (8.5/10)

The Rest of the Stack: Week of October 12, 2011


The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.


batmanandrobin002I’m definitely enjoying seeing the dynamic between Bruce and Damian here. Somehow it doesn’t seem like it’s really been all that long–but I think it’s been about half a decade now–since Damian was introduced into Batman continuity. And even though this title is part of this new DCU, even the flashbacks in this issue speak to it being a continuation rather than something all-new. Just as Alfred’s been a father to Bruce, now Bruce is trying (albeit in a suspend-your-disbelief sorta way) to be a father to Damian. We get a confrontation between Bruce and an “old friend” that sets up some of the atmosphere the two have–and while I’m not often a huge fan of “hey, here’s yet another person from this character’s past we’ve never heard of, but he’s really a Big Deal” situations…it works here. Mostly, I think I’m just glad to see BRUCE WAYNE, to see that there actually is a man under the cowl, and that Bruce is a part of things as much as Batman. Story’s good; not entirely thrilled with the art, again…but it still comes off better here than it did in Green Lantern Corps last I’d read the title over a year ago. (8/10)


buffyseasonnine002While the ending to the previous issue was a complete what-the-heck?!? sorta deal…this issue makes it quite plausible, and I think it made that cliffhanger that much more…something. I like it now, much more than I did then, since I didn’t have the context. I still have not read the final couple volumes of Season Eight, and I’m getting the feeling they were the most important–so I’m totally going to have to track ’em down in some form or another to read ’em. This issue, and probably this whole arc–would seem to be ‘the setup’ part of things, getting stuff together to propel us through the rest of the series. I like that this does not directly seem to tie to Angel & Faith, despite both these series being in the same universe. The story’s good here–though it’s now been long enough that I don’t quite hear the actors’ voices in my head anymore on reading the issues. This is definitely a different Buffy than what Gellar had played–this one’s older, and has been through a heckuva lot since Gellar portrayed Buffy. Art’s not bad; I definitely like that while the characters are recognizable, they’re not slavish look-alikes for the actors from the tv show. This title, and Angel & Faith made it through my recent cuts, and for the foreseeable future are part of my official pull list. (7.5/10)


dailybugleavengingspiderman000Now, this is the kind of preview I don’t mind. Give it to me as its own separate thing, and quit padding out the single-issues of other series with the exact same stupid previews. Have a little substance to it, explain it, give the first few pages or whatever, give the sketch/back matter/etc. and make it like a comic on its own, something that I can read when I’m good ‘n ready. I’m far more receptive to such material in this format and thus a little more willing to consider buying what’s being sold–whereas I get totally turned-off to stuff when I get sick and tired of seeing the exact same preview issue after issue after issue, almost like I’m being ‘punished’ for reading numerous issues from a given publisher. That said…no, I won’t likely be buying Avenging Spider-Man…not for $3.99, and I don’t intend to hassle with the download codes and such. I’ve stated my feelings on digital and print elsewhere, and may do so in detail again soon. Still…if Marvel would put one of these out every couple weeks, these Daily Bugle preview things–or even every week–I’d actually be inclined to collect ’em, as they’d be their own series, and maybe something would come of it. Not an actual full comic, but as an individual item, I’ll rate this at a 5 for effort and potential. (5/10)


demonknights002Actually enjoying this…all the more since having the D&D analogy pointed out. While this is set in the distant past of the DCU, it’s still got that sword-and-sorcery/fantasy element (and yet, the dragons turned out to be other than what I thought, taking things at face value last issue). I’m not terribly familiar with all the characters, and can’t tell you much about them individually. But the issue was a fun enough read, and nothing to it particularly turned me off, so, that’s definitely a good thing. Story’s solid enough, and the art definitely fits the story–that’s a clear positive in my book. Unfortunately, this also has the feel of a limited series, like we’ll get this one adventure and that’ll be it–so I remain hesitant to invest overly so in the title. Still…I’ll be getting the next issue, to see where things go. (7.5/10)


fearitselfhulkvsdracula003This mini wraps up rather anti-climactically…and yet, it makes sense at the same time. By its end it seems to have given us a key part of the overall Fear Itself story, and with more detail and context than just going from the pages of one issue to a different status quo randomly showing up in another. I’m very glad this is a $2.99 series, though…yet I still had to check the price a couple times to make sure it wasn’t $3.99. Which, in gaining and maintaining my interest in a line of comics is not the best thing–as I tend to fixate on the price almost to detriment of the content. I suppose Gischler deserves congratulations–as the writer, it’s his work that prompted me to pick this series up at all, as I’d had no intention of buying any tie-in minis for Fear Itself. The Uncanny X-Force mini I bought for being UXF; this I bought for Gischler‘s prior work; and I’ve been getting Iron Man since I neglected to take it off my pull list before getting stuck in the midst of Fear Itself. So…story’s good. Art’s good. And I can’t help but wonder…will this be collected in a $9.99ish paperback, as part of a larger multi-mini volume, or what? (7/10)


Layout 1Almost seems too soon to have another issue already–but I am absolutely not complaining. Well, there IS that pesky $3.99 price…but with a recent slashing of my pull-list, this is one of very few $3.99s that survived the cut. This issue picks up with Peter and Winston battling Slimer (this is not your goofy Real Ghostbusters Slimer, but the far less cute movie-verse Slimer). There’s something to seeing this “fight” play out, and the way it ends…I found myself seeing the transition in my head much as it’d likely play out animated, which made it a bit humorous. Story’s quite good, and the art still works quite well for me. If you’re a Ghostbusters fan, this is well worth picking up. I may even dig out the Infestation mini-series, as I believe that’s set in-continuity a bit, and I now have some context to go with for that. This is only #2, so if you’re a fan…snag this and find the first issue and just enjoy the ride… (8/10)


greenlantern002This issue feels a little like a cop-out on what seemed to be a twist on status quo. Now rather than seeming status quo, it seems like more of a gimmick for the arc rather than anything particularly long-term. Still, we’ve got Hal and Sinestro, and Sinestro’s shown to be quite competent–far preferable to what he was before Johns got ahold of the character. There’s definitely potential here, and I do look forward to where things go. Hal’s new status being tied to Sinestro opens up a lot of possibilities for growth–for both characters. The mission the two now face also holds a lot of potential, and I’m glad to be along for this ride. Whatever comes of this arc, I have to say that a Sinestro-as-protagonist (villain or otherwise) could be very interesting, and especially after this summer’s film, would seem to be a lot more viable than ever before. Four lantern titles, but this is the one I’ve opted to stick with–and at least for this issue, I don’t regret it. Looking forward to seeing where #3 takes us. (8.5/10)


resurrectionman002Not too much to this issue in a way…and yet there’s quite a bit. We get a glimpse into the Resurrection Man’s past, as an individual–with hints as to his origins (which may have been covered in the 1990s series, but I don’t know yay or nay). We also get more on the folks trying to kill him–or rather, secure him, and again–I don’t know if these characters are new or old, or new takes on old characters, or what. But there are a couple other details dropped in this issue–particularly about an old man helping Mitch that seem highly ripe for story development in the near future. This is one of those oddball series that somehow works in the DCU even though in some ways it has a sort of Vertigo feel to it. Even though I’m not yet heavily invested in the book and can barely tell characters here apart, this is another title that I’m glad I’ve stuck with, and looking forward to the next issue. (7.5/10)


shade001I waffled on this–first it sounded interesting, then I figured it’s a limited series so I’d pass on it, then I figured it’s tied to the writer’s “classic” Starman run, so another reason to hold off at least for a collected volume. But then I found myself at a comic shop, one $2.99 comic in-hand and in need of meeting a $5 minimum to use my card. Since Shade had not been something I’d already bought nor planned to buy–it wasn’t something I’d cut. It’s also 12 issues, which is more than some ongoing series seem to get these days. And it’s $2.99 rather than some debut $3.99 issue, so it fit my criteria. Having only read the first volume of The Starman Omnibus and the Blackest Night issue of Starman from early 2010, I’m not exactly steeped in the Starman stuff. Still, I found this to be accessible enough, and really pretty enjoyable. There’s an added bonus that a new character appearing here seems at the very least to be an analogue to the Malibu/Ultraverse Firearm character Robinson was responsible for, and even as a background character, I’m intrigued enough in this character alone to probably come back for the next issue and see where things go. (8.5/10)


superdinosaur005I am incredibly used to the 6-issue arc. So this ending the first arc now caught me by surprise. But it makes sense–this issue here in October, then next month is the collected volume, and sometime later the series will resume with #6, I believe…but there’s a brief hiatus for the creative team to work ahead a bit, it seems. Kinda took a chance on this series, and on the whole it’s been pretty good. It’s on my pull list, anyway, and I’ll probably go at least one more arc, see how I feel on it. This issue wraps up a number of threads running so far in the series, and opens up some new stuff. I’m not as engaged in this as I am with Kirkman‘s other stuff–specifically The Walking Dead or Invincible–but this is still the beginning of Super Dinosaur. There’s a lot of potential for the various characters, and I do look forward to seeing where they go in the near future. If you’ve not checked this series out, I do recommend it. I’ve paid about $15 now (5 $2.99 issues and 1 Free Comic Book Day issue), but the collected volume coming next month will only set you back $10. This issue was fun, but not huge…we’ll see where the story goes. (8/10)


uncannyxforce016So…X-Force fights back against Archangel and the various Age of Apocalypse characters that’ve crossed over. There’s something that just really bothers me in particular about seeing Weapon X as a villain, to say nothing of Iceman. Blob was quite disturbing simply in his depiction, period…and I am still trying to get used to these gray costumes. They definitely symbolize the “dark” side of things, but seem to set the characters off all the more from their otherwise quasi-colorful surroundings. Looks like we have at least one more chapter of this to go, and I think I’m near the end of my run with this series. It’s still been good in and of itself, the writing’s solid, and the art–stylistic though it is–fits the story quite well. But the Schism that this title will soon be joining may make for a decent enough break-off point…or maybe I’ll just take Wolverine’s side with X-Force. I’m ready for this arc to end–haven’t cared for the “modern” Age of Apocalypse, as it’s so vastly different from the AoA that I so enjoyed in the mid-1990s, and I’d like to see this wrap up so we can get on with things. (7/10)

Shades of Pricing

shadehulkvsdraculaI managed to miss Hulk vs. Dracula #3 this week in my regular visit to my local comic shop. Didn’t notice til I got home, so wasn’t particularly worried about it.

Friday night, out of town, I stopped by another shop to grab the issue. Having all of $1.37 in cash on me, of course I had to use my card. Which, at this store means a $5 minimum. Not a huge deal. Just gotta grab one more comic of at least $1.99, basically. Given those don’t really exist, my next option’s a $2.99 comic. Given I’ve settled with what I’m buying of the New 52 for present, and that I pretty much associate Marvel Comics with $3.99, my choice was pretty simple.

The Shade #1. Yeah, it’s 1 of 12, so a finite thing. And no, I have only read whatever’s contained in the Vol. 1 of The Starman Omnibus by way of Robinson‘s Starman work (oh, and the Blackest Night issue).

Yet another example (to me, myself, at least) of where I’m totally willing to try a new comic, or at least that Marvel has SO trained me to “assume” that any of their new comics are $3.99, that I really don’t even give their books a second glance unless–like the issue I was in this store specifically to buy–I already plan to buy the issue.

No clue if I’ll grab another issue of The Shade or not–if I write reviews this weekend, maybe it’ll be in there. I sort of have to read the thing before I make any decisions.

Shattered Heroes [Checklist]

“The war is over, and the warriors return home, carrying with them scars of battle, both physical and mental. Now the cost will be tallied, the casualties buried and mourned, the rubble swept up and carted away. But the damage to our heroes isn’t easily repaired, the wounds not easily healed. Decisions are made and lives are changed–can shattered heroes find renewed courage to go on?” — Tom Brevoort, SVP Executive Editor


The Fearless #1
Incredible Hulk #1


Fear Itself #7.1
Fear Itself #7.2
Fear Itself #7.3
Battle Scars #1
Avengers #19
Invincible Iron Man #510
Journey Into Mystery #631
Avengers Academy #21
The Mighty Thor #8


Defenders #1
Captain America #6


Booking Through Thursday: Sequel

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If you could get a sequel for any book, what would it be?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Dragons of the Hourglass Mage?

Harry Potter’s the obvious: even though DH was a solid ending and there’s no great need of a sequel–it could be interesting to have stories of the kids’ generation. Either filling in the in-between time from the book to the epilogue, or better just picking up where the epilogue ended.

Or, I’ve long thought it could be very interesting to see the world of Harry Potter continued into comics. Soooo much potential there. Rowling could oversee things, of course, but let other writers and artists play in the sandbox. Granted, there could be the stipulation that the main characters, maybe even Hogwarts, would be off the table. But what about the other schools? Surely other students have had adventures!

Meanwhile–Dragons of the Hourglass Mage was the third in a trilogy of books set between the pages of the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy from the 1980s. It revisited the continuity and characters as they were at the time–almost as if expanding those original books by at least double. I would love to have more stories by Weis & Hickman set during their original Dragonlance run. Maybe during Legends, or short one-offs of The Second Generation. Of course, at the moment I can’t think of much of anything dangling, and I’d want it to be the main characters, not just a story of others set at the time.

But overall, I find that the single-volume books I read, lately mainly Grisham, Meltzer, and King–they’re a solid story, and I’m really NOT itching for a sequel. Or, I get into a property when there’s ALREADY a sequel, and there’s already (again) nothing to leave me itching for a follow-up.

Now, there are book series…do those count? I’m still stuck in The Lost Hero, but been looking forward to the next book in the series as well (which came out last week), so I guess technically that’s a sequel, except I’ve “known” it was planned from the start, and was trying to get through the first book before the 2nd came out.

Magic: The Gathering, Dragonlance, Aliens, Predator, Left Behind….all these series sit on my shelves (Magic and Dragonlance have far more books than I could ever hope to get for a “complete” collection). But right now none of them have anything screaming “sequel!” to me; and chances are that other than Left Behind, any of the books that would deserve a sequel could well have one already, for all I know.

I always mention comics, it seems, so let’s look there: by their nature, comics are typically ongoing periodicals, though the “mini-series” or “limited-series” has become extremely popular. Most individual comics will have a “sequel,” aka “the next issue.” But there are specific overall stories, and some of those tend to get sequels. Infinite Crisis was marked as a sequel of sorts to Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Dark Knight Strikes Again was a sequel to The Dark Knight Returns. JSA: The Kingdom was a sequel to Kingdom Come; so was the mini-“event” simply titled The Kingdom.

But other graphic novels that I own? I can’t really think of any offhand that I’d like to see have a sequel made. Scanning my shelves now as I type, the only things I see where I’m even interested in another volume, it’s stuff that I know already exists. More John Constantine: Hellblazer volumes. Preacher and Transmetropolitan. Original Ultimate Spider-Man. Heroes Reborn; X-Men: Age of Apocalypse; Brightest Day; Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps.

I suppose ultimately, this is a rather passive topic for me. Sure, if a follow-up comes out, that follows on or builds on or is billed as a direct/specific sequel to something I’ve already read and enjoyed, I’m more likely to go for that than an untried entity. But other than seeing the world of Harry Potter continued or getting even a short Dragonlance story set with old characters in an early part of a huge series…I’m just interested in reading good stories, and look forward moreso to new works by authors I enjoy than to specific sequels of specific books.

Final thought: I’ve found it interesting when I read one book by an author, and it references another. I want to say that the latest Meltzer book took place in the same continuity and referenced events from an earlier book, but was not itself an actual sequel. Ditto some of Grisham and King’s stories.

The Missing Dead: Why Amazon Wins

halloweendisplayofbooksYesterday was the release date for the new hardcover prose novel The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor. I’ve been looking forward to the book for months.

I don’t buy NEW books in hardback often–usually I’m buying stuff from the used-books stores like Half-Price Books or M&P or using a coupon from Borders and picking up something recent-ish but not generally still classified as a new-release. But a few times a year, I’ll buy a brand-new hardback–usually the new Brad Meltzer book, or John Grisham in particular, or something that just really strikes me.

Rise of the Governor was to be one of those books. Go to the store, get the book, start reading, and I figure I’ll dive in right away.


Two trips to Walmart–no luck. Target…no luck there, either. Walmart‘s offering it via their website–but I’d have to wait til at LEAST early next week for it to arrive, whether shipped to my apartment or using the Site-to-Store shipping.

Figuring despite my consternation over big retailers like that not having the book where I could expect a ~30% discount off cover price, I knew that surely Barnes & Noble, a dedicated book-seller, would have a new hardback novel based on one of the top cable television shows with a new season debuting in under a week. Surely, a new novel based on a hit comics-and-tv series about survivors in a zombie apocalypse would be available, given it’s October where horror and the like seem to get top billing genre-wise.


Oh, you can order it through their website, and while offhand I forget the discount. But I didn’t want to order the book online. I wanted to buy the book in-person, have it already, take it with me upon handing over payment, and start reading the thing.

Even if I’d manage to find some independent bookstore (I don’t know of any near me) it’d likely be a “special order” and highly unlikely the store would be willing (to say nothing of whether or not they’d be “able”) to give me much of a break off the cover price, and I’d still have to wait for the book to come in.

So I was forced online.

Amazon wins. They had the best discount, I’m familiar with their services, and over the past decade they’ve successfully branded themselves as THE place to order new books online (and I’ve even had success with their 3rd-party sellers, but that’s a different post entirely).

Annoyed and frustrated from going to multiple stores, the simple fact no one seemed to stock this book physically, and the fact that I’d already resigned myself earlier to paying full price for the book to get it same-day, I noticed something rather interesting.

For $2 more than cover price, including SHIPPING…I was able to ALSO order The Walking Dead Chronicles, which I’d also been eyeing but was going to hold off on.

This morning I woke to an email saying my Amazon order has shipped, and ought to arrive Monday. The same wait I’d have ordering the book any other way…but here from a familiar brand/service, with another related book, and though I don’t get to read the thing “in preparation” for the new season of the tv show…I get to see the premiere, and on a Walking Dead “high” (assumably), get another “fix” the next day.

And I notice there’s a new Grisham book coming out soon, and a new Stephen King as well. Might as well order through Amazon–and save myself even the potential hassle of stores randomly not stocking it, or just to spite ’em (even if the only one who cares is me).

The Rest of the Stack: Week of October 5, 2011


The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.


actioncomics002Superman’s been smashed by a train, and captured by the government. While his captors question him, Supes is working up enough focus to break free–and woe to those who stand in his way. Meanwhile, his indestructible cape is also put to the test, while Lois Lane gains entry thanks to her father. And it seems Luthor’s out of his depths. Oh, and the actual CONTENT of this issue, the story itself, the thing that I buy any given issue for? 20 freaking pages. For $3.99. Meanwhile, there are 8 pages of generic extras–sketches and internet stuff printed for the sake of pages thrown in to make the issue feel that much thicker, and then the USUAL back-of-the-issue preview for something I’m not even going to buy, and which is not going to change my mind, because either I’m NOT BUYING WHAT IS BEING PREVIEWED…or I’m NOT GOING TO READ it because I am planning to buy it, and don’t want to read a QUARTER to THIRD of its contents before I pay too much for cover price. So on principle alone–$3.99 for 20 pages–this thing is a huge disappointment, and I discourage anyone who hasn’t already from buying the single issue, as such. Collected volume? Sure. I think this’ll be a strong story in the end. But I for one refuse to support this sort of crap for a $4 issue when bought alongside several $3 issues with the EXACT SAME LENGTH STORY. (2/10)


animalman002Lots of death, decay, and gore in this issue. Disturbingly so, really. Buddy finds himself drastically affected by “The Red,” and his daughter seems more powerful than her father, leading him to follow the call of the Red. The cover alone is quite disturbing, and the interior visuals are, too. Even some of the tamer stuff is rather creepy–the skeleton of a cat squatting for milk especially rattled me. And yet…for essentially a horror book, something that typically would’ve been Vertigo…it’s fitting. The story doesn’t have nearly the blown-away effect on me the first issue did. But still, something to this–I’m curious where it’s all leading. And hey…it’s Vertigo, yet not. A worthy second issue, and there’s nothing to this one that prompts me to drop it or otherwise not come back for the next issue. (6/10)


justiceleagueinternational002I wish I was overtly enthusiastic about this issue. There’s something just sort of mediocre about it. It’s nothing spectacular. The story’s not terribly engaging, and doesn’t send me running for back issues and chomping at the bit for the next issue. But the story’s solid enough. The art’s not bad–I do like it, really. And together, they make for a quality book. And while there isn’t much that really jumps out or stands out…I liked it. We have the team, already assembled from the first issue, we see them in action, we see them in down-time, we get interaction and we get a built-up threat that justifies the group staying together. And on the whole, this feels like a second issue–we’ve been introduced to the characters, but here we learn a bit more. Unfortunately, there are a lot of characters, so there’s little focus on any specific character. Much of my not being bothered too much by that is my history with these characters’ prior incarnations, so I’m “projecting” what I know of those onto these. Still sticking around for the next issue, and seeing where this goes…if only for Booster Gold. (6/10)

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