Friday, October 3, 2014

Weekly Comics for 1405.28


Weekly Comics for 1405.28

My new pledge: No more long comic book weekly posts. As I type this note, it's September or in my annotation method = 1409.02.

No wait. It's October now. It was September when I started. It's now October. What's the date for you?

When I  last posted, I posted the weekly comics report for May 21st, but I had been working on the post for over a month. Not every day, mind you, but in spits and spats for the month. It's a slow process.

Since I have so many drafts sitting in my list waiting to be completed, I am making a pledge to my tiny and yet strangely dedicated readership (Thank you, all two of you). I am going to barrel through my back log of Weekly Comics posts with only short notes on the week as a whole and only a small amount of art or other links. I am going to set myself a schedule of working through these posts (probably over a dozen, though I have not counted), so I can catch up and render these blog posts in a more timely fashion. Granted, as I get ready to publish this, I note to myself that I wrote the text of this promise a month ago.

Given that I might like to read most of the week's comics before making some remarks, I hope to only run a week behind. But you have seen how that worked (not well) in the summer when I was much less busy than I am going to be this Fall (or that I have been so far in the first month of fall).
Also, I am setting myself the task of writing every day no matter what. This counts as writing, though if I do not do some fiction work each week, I will count that week as a failure (so far I have been failing at this... I have so much homework).

Though I will steer clear of reviews of any substance in these posts, at least until I catch up, I may break out a title in its own blog post for special review. Stay tuned for this astonishing revelation.

Meanwhile, thanks for reading my ruminations on process and pledge, and so now on to the comics for the last week in May, which is at this point over three months ago.

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RE: SPOILERS: I don't have to explain that you read at your own risk, right?
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I had been anticipating Trees by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard with a fair dollop of steamy excitement.

Here's an interview.

TREES INTERVIEW WITH WARREN ELLIS

It's a good comic, but not mind blowing. Also, I had to read the first three issues three or four times before they stuck in my head.

WEEKLY COMICS LIST

Interesting ordering. I highly anticipated Winter Soldier: The Bitter March and enjoyed it thoroughly, so it's no surprise that it takes the top slot this week. Aquaman always sits near the top of the stack, if not in the top slot not only because it's very good but because I am a huge Aquaman fan. I have also been loving Mighty Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Batman: Zero Year, so it's no surprise that these take top billing. Trees follows even though I would usually put that near the bottom, which represents a desire to take my time rather than a lack of interest.

Weekly Comics for 1405.28

Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #004
Aquaman #31
Mighty Avengers: Original Sin #10
Fantastic Four #005
Batman: Zero Year: Final Act #31
Trees #1
The New 52: Futures End #4
Al New Invaders #005
Avengers: Original Sin #30
Nightwing #30
Deadly Class #5
Guardians of the Galaxy #015
Iron Man #026
The Flash #31
Uncanny Avengers #020
Ms. Marvel #004

BACK LOG

Batman Eternal #8
Suicide Squad #30
Sheltered #9

COVER GALLERY









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- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1410.03 - 15:22

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Weekly Comics for 1405.21


Weekly Comics for 1405.21


Obviously, I am happy with how comic books have become such a huge and important part of popular culture. As a young comic book reader (I am talking deep past here), I yearned for the time when comic books would achieve the kind of popularity when so much material would be shared via movies and TV shows as it is now. As wonderful as it all is, it has reached a point at which I cannot possibly watch let alone purchase for watching all the material being currently produced.

As of this writing, which is over THREE months past the date of the release of these comic books (it was two months old when I started writing this entry), I have not seen any of the Marvel superhero movies for this year, including Captain America: the Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-Man 2, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. I am hoping to make time to catch The Guardians of the Galaxy. (When I originally wrote this, Guardians had not yet been released. This is no longer true, and I did see it a few days ago. More on that later.) I have nearly caught up on the TV show Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but there's so much more in movies, TV shows, and direct to video special editions, such as DC's DARK KNIGHT RETURNS adaptations that I have barely scratched the surface of what there is to watch and enjoy. For instance, I have not yet seen one episode of Arrow, and I have left the last two seasons of Smallville as yet unwatched (though I am hoping to remedy this oversight soon).

But just as I catch up on some things to watch, more are due to arrive. The major networks will host three new superhero or comic book themed TV shows this fall including Gotham on Fox, Constantine on NBC, and The Flash on the CW. More on the NEW TV SHOWS can be found at this link. And not just for the awesome Joss Factor (as in Joss Whedon) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return for a second season.

As I explained in my post for COMICS OF 1404.09, soon, as in 2016, Netflix will begin to air special shows, featuring the Iron Fist and Daredevil, leading up to a show dedicated To the Defenders. But even before that both Avengers: Age of Ultron in May of 2015 plus Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in May of 2016.

So much to see; so little time. Sure, I am happy that comic books and comic book story content has such visibility and popularity. This is what I wanted. There's going to be a DOCTOR STRANGE movie, and I hope it will be good. Even amazing and fantastic.

So sure, this is all awesome. I get the fan boy jitters just hearing that a Metal Men movie is in the works. And yet, as cool as all this activity is, I just wish I had more time to take it all in.

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Re-arranging my order of operations here, while I also try for the brief content. So first a list re-cap, and then some quickie reviews.

If not for the two special event series of Original Sin and Forever Evil, I think Velvet would have taken the top spot this week as I am really enjoying the retro-spy thriller with the arresting Velvet Templeton as the lead character and the super spy hero. Because the fate of Foggy Nelson was left unknown in the previous issue, Daredevil ranks highly this week as well. With Lex Luthor vying to be part of the Justice League in the wake of the final issue of Forever Evil, Justice League #30 takes the last slot in the top five. 

A little over two months later, some of these issues are still in my back log, such as Batman/Superman, 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mind The Gap, Rocket Girl, and Elektra. Though I am not sold on Elektra and I did not pick up issue #3, and with the quality of Batman/Superman in flux, especially when Jae Lee is not drawing, it's no surprise that these books have fallen into the unread stack. But the others are all books I love to varying degrees of ardor, especially Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Often beloved books fall into the back log simply because I save them for when I can devote a good chunk time and attention to them and not due to a lack of interest. Though with Rocket Girl, I really feel I need to re-read the previous issues, so those have gone into my stack as well, all four of them.

Other standouts that will gets shouts in my quickie review section (or as quick as I can make it) include Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor - God of Thunder, Uncanny X-Men, and Saga.

WEEKLY COMICS LIST

Original Sin #2 (of 8)
Forever Evil #7 (of 7)
Velvet #5
Daredevil #003
Justice League #30
Hulk #003
The New 52 - Futures End #3
The Amazing Spider-Man #002
Nova #017
Thor - God of Thunder #022
Uncanny X-Men #021
Justice League of America #14
Batman/Superman #11
Amazing X-Men #007
Saga #19
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 10 - #3
Mind The Gap #17
Rocket Girl #5
Elektra #002
Avengers World #006

BACK LOG
Batman Eternal #7
Wonder Woman #31

SPECIAL PURCHASE
Mind Mgmt -Volume Three - The Home Maker

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RE: SPOILERS: I don't have to explain that you read at your own risk, right?
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Original Sin #2 (of 8)

I have been enjoying the Original Sin cross-over so far this summer. Unlike other big comic book events that seem to feature battles above all else, such as Civil War or the Skrull Invasion, this series which focuses on the pasts of various characters and a strange murder mystery in that the Watcher has been killed is unusual and fascinating. Jason Aaron, whose work I have enjoyed on Thor, is a fresh, new voice in comic books.  And Mike Deodato is one of the finest artists in the business and one of my personal favorites. Marvel obviously planned well as the entire series has shipped on time and with Deodato as artist.

In part, Original Sin seems to be a series to renovate the original Nick Fury character and possibly allow for a full transition to the new, Samuel Jackson based Nick Fury character. Also, centering much of the story on Fury invokes the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television program; I just finished watching the remaining episodes of the first season, so I am now caught up.

One of the strengths of the series is the usage of little used if not all but forgotten characters, such as Dr. Midas and the Orb. Deodato's moody, dark chiaroscuro suits this story perfectly. Also, there is an intriguing blend of disparate elements, such as the Mindless Ones of Dormammu's dimension, the Moloids in the center of the Earth, as well as a variety of characters including the Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Ant Man, and the Falcon among others.

Since I am writing this entry when seven of the eight issues have been released, I have found this to be an excellent series and much better than most of the summer crossovers of recent years.


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Forever Evil #7 (of 7)

I have been clear about that SPOILERS thing, right? Because don't keep reading, if you don't want to know what happened in the conclusion of Forever EVIL.

This comic is a test case for why a company needs most if not all of a series in the can before it begins releasing it. This final issue was long overdue, so much so in fact that the rest of the DC universe had quite moved on from this story line, the after effects of it were being seen, and yet we still did not know everything about what had happened, which in terms of the time lines for these characters had already taken place.

From the time that the series began, and the evil Justice League captured Nightwing, I was concerned that the DC think tank had decided to kill off my favorite DC character, and one of my favorite comic book characters of all time.


For those not in the know, check out my blogs over on the T-shirt site:

NIGHTWING T-SHIRT BLOG

ROBIN - TIM DRAKE

Yes, I know that Tim Drake was Robin #3 (and #5), but anyway, there's lots of Dick Grayson content in that entry and a good collection of my Batman related content up to that point in my blogging year.

The good news is that they DID NOT kill Dick Grayson. Not exactly.

In this issue, Lex Luthor bring Dick Grayson back to life, but so only he, Batman, and Catwoman know. In the fallout later on, Batman shuffles Dick off the mainstage. Nightwing is gone, and Dick Grayson will star in a new comic, aptly titled Grayson, leading DC's cash-in on the sudden popularity of espionage comics, such as Velvet as seen on this page and Marvel's The Winter Soldier and The Black Widow.

Though it was a frustrating waiting for this comic, the payoff was worth it. The revelation that Alexander Luthor, with the evil world's SHAZAM power is the father of Superwoman's unborn child, and the ensuing battle that takes place between that world's Luthor and Ultraman (the Superman knock off) was worth the price of admission. As the issue progresses, many more characters get in on the fight to defeat Alexander Luthor, in the end, fittingly, it is our world's Lex Luthor, in the retro-armor of his 1980s incarnation that deals the final blow, and in a fitting way. As you can see in the images below: "but I am smarter." NICE.

Luthor's triumph sets up the next story arcs in the DC univrse as Lex Luthor makes himself part of the Justice League, in part, by blackmail, as he figures out that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same.

In a fun little extra moment, Lex steps on and crushes Atomica, and though this may seem misogynistic, it's not.
She deserved that end.


As Man of the Hour, Luthor also saves our Superman by removing the Kryptonite shard embedded in him.

The issue also has a long denoument as it closes out some stories and sets up others. Captain Cold has a prominent role in the ending, establishing that Luthor will hire him as head of security and give him a place in the new look Justice League.

Batman warns Catwoman to be good but won't explore any kind of relationship with her, which will only last until the next time DC wants to boost sales. Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) was introduced as Luthor declines to buy Kord Industries.

The Syndicate is defeated but certain villains remain in custody or at large. Owlman is missing, Ultraman is broken, and Superwoman is smug about her pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Luthor figures out that "Bruce Wayne is Batman." Superman presages that Darkseid will return, and in the final page, the DC faithful are treated to a shot of the Anti-Monitor, the powerful entity that was part of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, which, to my knowledge, without cheating by looking it up, was the last time we saw the Syndicate before they were obliterated.

This makes for a confusing time with comic books as some history is honored and other history is erased.

I am not so much a purist that I want the stories to work together in a complex and fully integrated single history.

I just want to read good stories with great art and Forever Evil definitely qualifies.

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VARIOUS LINKS AND RESOURCES

My REVIEW OF FOREVER EVIL #6

FOREVER EVIL PREVIEW 

COMIC BOOK RESOURCES FOREVER EVIL #7 review

RETCON PUNCH review of Forever Evil #7


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Velvet #5

 Far and away Velvet is one of my top ten favorite comic books right now. I have been a fan of Ed Brubaker's since he broke onto the scene years ago with his work on comics in the Vertigo line followed by the revamp of Catwoman and then Gotham Central, which is definitely one of my all time favorite DC comics. I know I write that a lot. But I mean it. Then later, after his jump to Marvel, his work with Captain America (he invented the Winter Soldier) and Daredevil proved his mettle and proved to be some of the best comic books of first decade of the 2000s.

Now with the a new take on the James Bond-style espionage tale with a female main character and teamed with an artist in Steve Epting whose style perfectly suits the jumps in time and the moody feel of certain scenes, like the one depicted below.

This issue fills in more of Velvet's past, with one panel that's very From Here to Eternity. The bulk of the issue jumps between Velvet's childhood in 1946 and her early years as a spy in 1956, until we jump forward eighteen years (1974) to the present time of the main story line.

Brubaker makes Velvet Templeton a real and somewhat tormented character, much like the real James Bond from the Fleming novels. This issue fills in the background for why the case Velvet has taken on is personal for her and how she had real feelings for someone who turned out to be an enemy.

If you are waiting for the collected edition, get into this comic or buy the single issues. This is fantastic stuff.


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Daredevil #003

I have written on this blog and my T-shirt blog about the excellence of Daredevil both as a character and the recent series of comics written by Mark Waid and drawn by Chris Samnee.

Check out a detailed look at Daredevil the character and a close look at the recent series in

T-SHIRT #286

Also, I shared quite a bit about classic Daredevil in

T-SHIRT #267


I am rather proud of both of those entries.

I also reviewed the first issue of the yet again re-started (after a recent re-start) Daredevil  comic in my weekly comics for 1403.19, which can be found as the first entry in my collected lists from the T-shirt blog at WEEKLY COMICS LIST FROM 365 T-SHIRTS.

I was not crazy about the idea of Daredevil moving to San Francisco, but I am always willing to keep with a comic to see how the story unfolds, especially one that has been as consistently excellent as Daredevil.

This issue continues Daredevil's conflict with the Shroud, the other "blind" vigilante in the Marvel universe. Meanwhile, a clever story technique reveals that Foggy Nelson, presumed dead at the beginning of this current re-start, is in fact alive. In the end, Daredevil switches to his other identity as Matt Murdock to confront the Owl and to defuse the situation with the Shroud, only to find himself the victim of an excellent cliff hanger, dropped into a pit of fire!

It is easy to make the argument that Daredevil is the best Marvel comic currently published.

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Hulk #003

I never dedicated a T-shirt blog to the Hulk. I found a shirt online that matched the first Hulk comic I owned, The Incredible Hulk#103 (seen above). The shirt was produced in Thailand where, apparently, EXTRA LARGE means something else than it does here in the USA. The shirt did not fit, thus spoiling my plans to feature the Incredible Hulk on my T-shirt blog (which will have more new entries yet this year). And so, here's the cover at least. I gave the shirt (and a cool Thor one) to Adam Kemp, who has become like a member of our family.

HULK on COMIC VINE

I have already reviewed the first two issues of the Waid/Bagley Hulk work on this blog in

WEEKLY FOR 1404.30 (HULK #2)

and

WEEKLY FOR 1404.16 (HULK #1)

You know I love the cross-referencing.

This issue continues the battle with the Abomination and Banner's recovering from what seemed like irreparable brain damage as the Avengers intercede to aid S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill in helping the Hulk.

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The Amazing Spider-Man #002

I have reviewed the most recent Spider-Man comics multiple times on this blog. Instead of cross-referencing everything, I created more categories, so now there is a Spider-Man category for handy reviewing if you so desire. If anyone has dug this deeply into my blog, especially one three months old, I commend you.

Slott is doing a great job of keeping up with the remnants of Doctor Octupus' time as Spider-Man as Peter tries to reclaim his life, especially Anna Marie Marconi, Ock's girlfriend and now Parker's roommate.

Ramos has also toned down the goofier cartoony aspects of his art to make the art more realistic.

This comic coincides with the release of the Spider-Man movie and so features Electro. It's not mind-blowing work, and though good, comics like Future's End  and Justice League, which I am not reviewing, beat it out this week in the stack.

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Thor - God of Thunder #022

After a I raved positively about Jason Aaron's writing for the Original Sin comic, it seems fitting to give him props for his work on Thor. He's telling very interesting and somewhat offbeat tales that get Thor back to his roots but also stretch how stories about the character are told. One very smart thing Aaron has been doing is moving around in time, even in one story treating us to three incarnations of the immortal and long living God of Thunder, a young Thor from the age of Vikings, our modern day Thor, and an older, King Thor from the future.

This story line resolves the debacle that was the bizarre idea to situate Asgard floating above the town of Broxton, Oklahoma. I never liked this idea as it violated the idea that Asgard is a fantastic other world in another dimension and shrunk the majesty and breadth of the realm eternal, as if it could fit on a hunk of rock that would float in the air.

Aaron wisely did not wish to simply dismiss the previous story lines, but instead chose to add the Roxxon corporation to the mix and do a good job with legal and environmental commentary. Meanwhile, the story charts a conflict in the far future as Thor fights Galactus one final time to save Midgard (Earth) even though the planet is essentially dead and the human race, apparently, is extinct (or at least has left the Earth behind).

The issue ends with future Thor retrieving the God Butcher's weapon to use against Galactus, tying in the first, long arc that Aaron created for this run of the series. Another very good cliff hanger ending for a comic from this week.

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Uncanny X-Men #021

I also created an X-Men category. I reviewed an issue of Uncanny X-Men not long ago and discussed my deep affection for the art of Chris Bachalo.

This issue is only good if you like Chris Bachalo and you have been following the series. If you attempt to read this one out of sequence, you will be completely lost.

There is a great sequence in which Storm brings down some serious lightning, drawn beautifully by Bachalo. Of course, anyone could appreciate that kind of art and event.

There's a great pic of Emma Frost holding an umbrella. I love the way Bachalo draws Emma Frost, toning down her model-quality good looks and body, and here he puts her in a uniform that makes her look totally bad ass while de-emphasizing the usual eye candy elements in renditions of her, which in turn is sexy as Hell.

Meanwhile, Magneto rescues Dazzler, who has been held captive by Mystique and used to produce a special drug which she is selling out of Madripoor while also posing as Dazzler, who had supposedly signed on to work with S.H.I.E.L.D.

Would S.H.I.E.L.D. have shown up in so many comics if not for the TV show? Probably not, but I can't say I hate it.

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Saga #19

 Eventually, I will write more about Saga. I did buy a Lying Cat T-shirt, so I could devote an entire blog entry to this great comic book by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

This comic is just another reason why Image is arguably producing the best comics in the business.

Though Saga does not yet appear on my

LIST OF COMIC BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NON-COMIC BOOK READERS,

it will surely find a place there once the story concludes, joining Y, the Last Man, another of Vaughan's creations.

This is the gem on this blog entry, especially for those not much interested in super heroes and even those not much interested in comic books. This is superb and wonderful comic, a love story, an adventure, science fiction, fantasy, and surrealism all rolled up with social commentary, pathos, and strength of character and storytelling. PLUS, Fiona Staples is an exceptional artist, as you can tell from the single image from the issue above, an image that tells you everything you need to know about the story without me having to even describe it (so I won't).

If you don't take my advice on any of these other comic books, treat yourself and as gifts to all of your loved ones, with this remarkable comic book.

Trust me. I like to think I am a doctor of trust.

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COVER GALLERY - Including some of my other older Hulk comics.




















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- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1408.30 - 9:07

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Leftovers - a review

The Leftovers - a review

Intrigued by the TV show, helmed by Damon Lindelof of Lost fame, I decided to give this book a read. I liked the premise very much. The idea of two percent of the world's population vanishing suddenly and without explanation fascinates me. It's also close in concept to an apocalyptic book on which I have been at work for years though I kill off 75% of the world's population. However, despite my affection for the premise, I did not like this book.

I am giving the book a rating of two stars, and it's truly two stars. I considered giving it one star, but Perotta writes well enough as a craftsman that one star would be an unfair assessment.

Perotta wastes his concept. He starts with a very good concept; as I mentioned, it's a concept into which I have put a great deal of thought. And yet, he does not do anything significant or thoughtful with the concept. Even if seen as a reflection on grief and the grieving process, the book is a failure. We do not see the characters do much grieving, and when we do see it, it's almost comical, and, really, there's nothing funny about grieving.

Stephen King wrote, in his piece in the New York Times Book Review that "The Leftovers is, simply put, the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw." I simply cannot agree. Based on the premise alone, yes. The idea of disappearing 140 million people and examining the aftermath for the world and a set of characters is a good idea for a novel. But this is not a good novel.

I am willing to admit that in part my reaction originates with my expectations. I just finished reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (which is why the King review quote bites harder), and I had become accustomed to a plot-driven, powerful story in which THINGS HAPPEN. The Leftovers is a character driven book with a great premise that fails to deliver on its premise. Technically, it is not poorly written. Tom Perotta is a deft writer with skill in handling language, scene, and character. And though I would like to know why the people disappeared and how, I understand the point of leaving this unexplained and uncertain. Where did they go? Why did they go? Will they be coming back? Will they have aged if they come back? The book leaves all of these questions unanswered, leaving the reader in the same state as the characters, but the character development and story do very little that is interesting or worth reading to compensate for not revealing the truth of what happened. Had I not been listening to this book on audio, I would have put it down after 50-75 pages, during which NOTHING HAPPENED.

Granted, Perotta's goal may be to create an aftermath story following a massive catastrophic event and show that very little changes, that very little happens. But this idea is not worth exploring in a novel.

In an interview following the audio book presentation, Perotta explains that he considers his novel to be a "comic novel." I was a bit surprised by this description as there is very little comic about this novel. What may have been meant as comic or absurd comes off rather than as ill-conceived and stupid. As I wrote earlier, there's nothing funny about grief. But given what happened, there's not nearly enough grief in this book.

Though I am a bit surprised to see that the book received 82 five star reviews and 109 four star reviews on Amazon, I am also pleased to see that it received 255 reviews of three stars and below: three star [103], two star [88], and one star [64].

I feel a bit hypocritical writing a bad review of any novel. As a writer myself, I know how difficult it is to just finish a book, let alone to craft a good story with engaging characters. On the other hand, as an unpublished writer seeing this book published simply on the strength of the author's previous work and success galls me to no end. If I submitted this book, I bet it would have been rejected by every agent and publisher whose desk it passed across because it's just not a very good book.

What little story there is here concludes much too quickly and uneventfully, which the author may argue is much like real life. Yes, that's true. But who wants to read about "real" life? The plot suffers because the characters are not very interesting. Had Perotta created more engaging characters and let them loose without bits in their mouths hauling on tack and bridle, he might have salvaged a better novel. As it is, the characters are wasted. His intriguing Holy Wayne character disappears without incident. The town Mayor avoids sleeping with his daughter's friend by chance and circumstance not through struggle and conflict. The devotees of the Guilty Remnant--a poorly explained, post-apocalyptic cult--engage in a sacrifice that in the end is even less explained and meaningful than the cult itself. The woman whose entire family disappears has the most interesting and eventful story of all, but even her story lacks impact because she is just not a very interesting character.

What I have seen of the TV show is already much more interesting than this novel. Lindelof changed much of the situations and characters and actually generated some actual conflict and some better mystery, and yet even so, the TV show is not very riveting.

Just when I wondered if I was losing my critical chops (as I wonder, here in my DOCTOR SLEEP review). Definitely, not lost yet.

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- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1407.27 - 8:48

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weekly Comics for 1405.14


Weekly Comics for 1405.14

I am cheating. I am using Superman: Doomed as a masthead for this blog entry and now, in late July, I have still not read it. That seems disingenuous, yes? But is is a very cool image and worth showing off.

I could leave the spoilers thing here, but I am not planning too many in this post. Though I guess there are some if you have not read these comics even in my brief remarks.

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RE: SPOILERS: I don't have to explain that you read at your own risk, right?
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Given that it is a fun and a quick read, Afterlife with Archie is often going to take the top spot the week that it comes out. It continues to be a completely entertaining comic and an intriguing spin on the old Archie model.

I love these "slasher-film-esque" lingerie covers by Andrew Pepoy. Gorgeous Veronica cover here.

Issue five focuses on the Lodge butler Smithers and all he does to keep the Lodge family safe and sound. The story establishes how Smithers learned to be a great butler from his father, to be as his father advised "invisible."

Smithers is a great thread of continuity as he observes everything going on in the Lodge mansion, the refuge for the still living residents of Riverdale. Smithers observes the rather large cast, checking in with other students not often seen in the Archie stories. Smithers confronts a distraught Veronica, bemoaning that Archie went to Betty for solace for killing his zombified father and not to her.

Ultimately, Smithers helps after Archie convinces Mr. Lodge that they cannot stay in Lodge Manor until they are completely surrounded by zombies, who will find a way inside. As confirmation of his prediction, two zombies begin to climb through a heating vent. After they are dispatched, we learn that the zombies were Betty's parents.

This issue, which concludes book one of the series (due soon in a collected edition) show what's left of the gang escaping Lodge Manor, armed and ready to battle through hordes of zombies as they continue to fight for their survival in this dangerous new world.

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After slipping in the rankings, The Walking Dead #127 soars to number two, just behind the Archie book, which simply wins due to the fun factor. The series jumps ahead two years after the recent "All Out War" saga, which concluded the issue before. I skimmed some of the reviews online. Some reviewers felt this issue was too mundane given the high-tension, violence, and action of the previous ten or so issues. But this is to be expected and long-time readers of comics should expect it.

But it's almost a rule in comics that there must be some down time after a big story arc. Historically in a book like X-Men, thinking specifically here of several arcs during Chris Claremont's long run, after the team has been in space fighting Brood and were believed dead for eight issues, that they have a picnic and play softball in the next. Do readers need to see them play softball? Actually, yes, they do. The down time is necessary to re-establish character and work on down time.

But it's not all down time. The issue opens with a new group of characters in a tight spot. The new characters are rescued by a band from the new Alexandria community. Lead by Jesus, a cavalry leads a huge horde of zombies away from the stranded new group and then invites them to speak with Rick and earn a place in their community.

After the opening gambit, and Adlard's gorgeous two-page spread of a horde of zombies so massive that it stretches out of sight in the distance, the reader is treated to life around the new community, where Rick and the others have settled into a sustainable living arrangement, growing food and under-going the business of re-establishing civilization.

As the double-sized issue winds down, we see Rick talk with a very grown up Carl, a move that surely is meant to match what will need to happen in the TV show, as the young boy wants to strike out on his own and go apprentice at Hilltop. In the final scene, we see Carl go into a cellar and talk to how he tried to convince his dad to let him go to Hilltop, the other community. On the last page, it is revealed that this "confidante" is an imprisoned Negan. The story concludes with Negan asking Carl: "Do you still want to kill me?" and Carl replies, "Yes, Negan. You know I do."

This is an excellent transitional issue, setting up much of what is needed for the next story arc. Many of the criticisms leveled against it by comic book reviewers online rob Kirkland of his agency, of his ability to tell different types of stories. After the constant action and what seems like a dragged out conflict in the "All Out War" saga, this tale and set up of a new story that will develop slowly but feed the desire to see how the survivors survive is a nice change of pace.

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Fantastic Four #004 - It's no surprise that I am going to keep writing about and shilling for my favorite comic books.

If I have not made the point enough times on this blog, I established well on my T-shirt blog how much I love THE FANTASTIC FOUR.

Check out this entry for T-shirt #344 - Fantastic Four, which contains a lengthy review of the first new issue of this current run of the Fantastic Four comic book, plus a ton of Fantastic Four content and a collection of links for all of my previous Fantastic Four content on the T-shirt blog. Lest I forget, there was some Fantastic Four content on this blog. In fact, it was my first blog entry here at SENSE OF DOUBT:

THE “New and Improved” INVISIBLE WOMAN: Does she look like she needs protecting?

So, with this week, I come to the fourth issue of the current issues of Fantastic Four, better known as The World's Greatest Comic Magazine.

Here we have a return of the Frightful Four, who attacked Ben Grimm and a powerless Johnny Storm. Though Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman arrive, the battle goes poorly, especially without the Human Torch. The Thing gets clobbered by a new Bulldozer, a woman, the original's daughter, who has donned the gear and has a bad attitude for all things Fantastic. Just in time, the FF crew -- She-Hulk, Ant Man, and Ms. Thing -- show up and lend a hand. Turns out the whole thing was a lure. Unable to resist attacking Johnny when powerless, Reed Richards engineered a lure for the Frightful Four's vanity, knowing they would be beaten and captured.

Though this issue is not the best of the lot so far, it's a crucial story for what's to come, and the final scene sets up the next story. As the Fantastic Four return to the Baxter Building after bagging the Frightful Four, they find themselves locked out of their home, their children re-located to a "safe" location, and the team served with papers to appear in court.

More to come as it appears that issue #5 came out two weeks later!

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Didn't I just write about Justice League United  #0? Indeed, see COMICS FOR 1404.23.
My comments for Justice League United  #1 are much the same. Jeff Lemire and Mike McKone. These two creators together will get me to buy the book no matter what it is. Start a comic with a throw down between Lobo and Hawkman? Love it. Adam Strange fully outfitted and featured in a full page spread taking flight: awesome. And best of all, some great stuff with Martian Manhunter, ending in another full page spread in which the alien blasts apart a giant monster once it's made of wood (as its composition kept changing). Strong writing, beautiful art, some of my favorite characters. Already, this title has catapulted above where I rank either of the other Justice League comics.

Looking forward to more!

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As for the rest, given that I am writing two months later, many of these were forgettable. The various Avengers books at Marvel are such a mish-mash of story upon story upon story without resolution that I have no idea what these dealt with. I did like Avengers #29, despite Leinil Yu's art. Good Doctor Strange stuff. And as I write this, two months later, it seems like Joaquin Phoenix may play the good doctor in the forthcoming movie. If nothing else, Frank Cho's cover for Avengers #29 grabbed me.

I am liking Starlight #3 as a rumination on what happens when John Carter (the source on which this character and story is based) gets old and can't quite do what he used to do and yet still gives his all to save the other world where he's more than a hero, he's a savior. Millar writes deftly enough, and Parlov's Moebius style art is beautiful.

Lastly, I would like to confess my weakness for weekly episodic narrative. The New 52: Future's End series at DC has just enough of the right elements to capture my attention. The cast is better than the previous 52 weekly that ran from 2006-2007. With Firestorm, Grifter, Frankenstein, Batman Beyond, Mister Terrific, Robin, Lois Lane, and more, this series has just the right cast to keep my interest enough to buy a weekly comic book. I like the premise of stories set five years in the future with some serious and disturbing outcomes having befallen the big name heroes, such as Superman, Batman, and Green Arrow. Slated to run weekly for a year, 52 issues, ending in March of 2015, at first, I was not ordering the comic, expecting to give it up at some point, but with the last month's order, I decided to pre-order the issues. This is not the kind of comic every one will embrace, even the most hardcore comic readers will shy away from this due to lack of interest and/or lack of commitment to a weekly comic. And yet with Azzarello, Lemire, Giffen, and Jurgens writing and a bevy of artists including Zircher, Merino, Jurgens, Lopresti, and others, the book has some quality names behind it. It's worth the price of admission.


WEEKLY COMICS LIST

Afterlife with Archie #5
The Walking Dead  #127
Fantastic Four #004
Justice League United  #1
All-New X-Men #027
Avengers (Original Sin) #29
New Avengers #018
Uber #13
Starlight #3
Stray Bullets: Killers #3
Iron Man #025
Secret Avengers #003
Batgirl #31
Captain Marvel #003
Captain America #020
Superman: Doomed #1 (one shot)
Superman/Wonder Woman #8
The New 52: Future's End #1
The New 52: Future's End #2
Batman Eternal #6
Fables #140

BACK LOG
Avengers Undercover #004

SPECIAL PURCHASE
Locus  Issue 640 Vol. 72 No. 5

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- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1407.27 - 9:34

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Weekly Comics for 1405.07



Weekly Comics for 1405.07

The image atop today's entry comes from the excellent comic book series CLONE from Image created by David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, and Wade McIntyre (writers) with art by the incomparable Juan Jose Ryp and Andy Troy (colors). The book is gorgeous and the story arresting, which is about all I want to share about it now, though I will probably doing an extensive review of just that book some time soon.

Most notable about this set of comics from May is the last comic in the stack: The Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl #1.1. Though I bought this issue out of curiosity, somewhat reluctant as I am not a fan of these side series and tangents, this retelling of the early years of Spider-Man's life rivals another similar comic, The Untold Tales of Spider-Man, that ran from 1995-1997 helmed by Kurt Busiek with art by Pat Olliffe.

Since this week when The Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl #1.1 ranked at the bottom of my stack, the subsequent issues have risen to higher ranks as you will see in weeks to come.

On a related note, the two comics in the back log, Batman: Detective Comics and Green Lantern have been rescued. I let both of these titles pile up until I had 4-5 issues of each, which I just read through last week, so that's clear. Since I am writing this in July and this list comes from the beginning of May, there's many other comics in the back log, in fact, some of these comics, such as Batman/Superman  and Real Heroes are both still sitting in the unread stacks.

In other news, as I am showing in the image below, I finally clawed my way to the top of the Rotisserie league for which I am the commish. There's the image from the league page with my team, Creepy Mama's Boys, at the top of the standings. I had been stuck in second place for at least two months, unable to overtake the other team. As you can see, I hardly have it locked up either. a stat here or there could change my standing, though, I have managed to stay in first place for two whole days.

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RE: SPOILERS: I don't have to explain that you read at your own risk, right?
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Original Sin #1 of 8

I like finding new sites with reviews and comic book news, such as the one following for BAM SMACK POW.

ORIGINAL SIN REVIEW - BAMSMACKPOW

Like a lot of comic books fans, I grow a bit weary of the big crossovers. I know it's all about sales, but it;s not always about telling a good story or meeting the deadlines for the delivery of the book, such as the most recent and much delayed Forever Evil by DC Comics. Publishers have solved this dilemma somewhat either by getting enough of the book in the can before releasing the first issue or using multiple artists to be able to meet the shipping deadlines.

One of the things I like best about special events and crossovers is the featuring of comic book heroes who do not have their own books and whom we do not see that often, such as Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, Black Panther, and Ant Man herein.

As big summer Marvel events go, this is a clever change of pace from big alien wars (Skrulls) or the heroes fighting each other (Civil War).

I love Deodato's art, and, after his success with Thor, primarily, it's nice to see Jason Aaron get a marquee venue for his talents.

Since I so far behind with my weekly posts, this series has almost run its course already with a bi-monthly ship schedule. I will save the remainder of my remarks for a catch all review when the series concludes.

Moonknight #003

This book takes second ranking for the week because I was more eager to read the first installment of Original Sin yet the book stays highly ranked more for more appreciation for Warren Ellis' work than because this book is the second best one to be released this week.

Ellis is somewhat apologetic to fans that there's not more meat in the bones here in his short run on Moon Knight.



Here's his comments from his June 5th ORBITAL OPERATIONS newsletter:

 MOON KNIGHT #4 came out yesterday, as did the announcement that Brian Wood will be taking over MOON KNIGHT from me with #7. Dec is also leaving with me after issue 6. Issue 1 went to three printings, and 2 and 3 went to two printings, and so I consider that a job reasonably well done. The job has been, simply, reactivating MOON KNIGHT as a productive property for the Marvel IP library. And, in personal terms, producing six single stories that held together, because I thought it would be amusing to provide a book that could be entered at any point and still give the reader a complete experience. Which goes against the grain a bit, because the modern commercial-comics reader has been very much entrained to expect long arcs rather than singles. I’m sure there are plenty of complaints out there about the lack of character arcs or long stories. But the book is still getting bought and reordered. So I guess we found an audience after all.
Six issues and out. Fun.
Okay, then. Fine.

If I had my druthers, I would ask for something with more meat and longer arcs. But this is fine. Each issue has been interesting and has hit the top five in my stack, unseating other regular favorites like Aquaman and Ultimate Spider-Man as we see this week.

Of the run so far, this is one of the most interesting issues as it shows Marc Spector's relationship with his past and what happened to him in Egypt and how Khonshu fits into his current mythology. Directed by Khonshu, Spector digs through his archeological holdings and dons a suit of armor for fighting the dead and proceeds to kick the asses of ghosts that beat the crap out of him at the beginning of the story. Now, with the suit of special armor, that makes him look like a giant white bird, he is able to do damage to them whereas before they could do damage to him and he could not touch them.

Awesome.



Even if the Ellis/Shalvey Moon Knight comics are not quite what I would prefer, they are entertaining and unique enough to differentiate themselves from the herd of super-hero books I read each month.

Bravo! Oh, and if you want to see my review of issue #002: LOOK HERE.


Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #001

Though I know it boosts sales, I grow weary of the re-launching of comic book series to keep publishing titles with a number one on the front. This sales engineering practice is less irritating with a book like Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man than with longer running books, such as Detective Comics and Fantastic Four. I do not mind so much with the re-launching of Ultimate Spider-Man as Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man because what if Peter Parker is "ultimately" returning to the Ultimate universe?

Ultimate Spider-Man has been one of my favorite comics since its original publication starting in 2000. I was also on board when Peter Parker died, ending the run of nine years and 160 issues and the comic re-launched in 2011 with Miles Morales, again re-launching after 28 issues here with this issue in May of 2014.

The strength of the comic is showing how a young boy copes with having Spider-Man's powers while juggling his life as a high school student. He also struggles with whom he lets know his secret identity. His friend Ganke knows, but, currently, Miles struggles with whether he should tell his girlfriend Katie Bishop.

The genius thing about these comic books is that Miles interacts with Peter Parker's friends and family, who give him special spider advice, especially for how he will cope with keeping his secret. He also adopts Spidey's villains, such as the Green Goblin, starting in this issue. Although this issue has a bigger cliff hanger as Miles confronts an intruder in the vacant apartment where he used to live with his dad, an intruder who looks just like PETER PARKER.

I did discuss the end of the former run, somewhat, here in Comics for 1404.02.

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Green Arrow continues to be deftly written an beautifully drawn, staying near the top of my stack. Iron Fist: The Living Weapon stays highly ranked simply due to my love for the character as I am disappointed with this creator and this title. I am really enjoying Alex + Ada, which I will review in its entirety if it's a closed series or at least after a few more issues come out. Though it's not as good as VELVET, I am really enjoying Black Widow, which probably deserved a higher ranking given how much I have been enjoying it. She-Hulk has won me over and stays ranked high, though it will drop in two months as the quality of the art drops. And once again, I am very fond of Aquaman and the Others. Granted I am a big Aquaman fan, but I like this team and how they all have one of the ancient Atlantean artifacts and how (now in the new 52) Aquaman adventured with them in his younger days, which provides plenty of back story to fill in. This comic is going interesting places. I look forward to many more issues and hope for a long, successful run.

And, as my cover gallery will reveal, I have a weakness for Red Sonja. And it's NOT just the chain mail bikini.

WEEKLY COMICS LIST

Original Sin #1 of 8
Moonknight #003
Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #001
Green Arrow #31
Aquaman and the Others #2
Alex + Ada #6
Black Widow #006
Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #002
She-Hulk #004
Clone #16
The New Warriors #004
Batman Eternal #5
The Punisher #005
Batman/Superman #10
Red Sonja #9
Real Heroes #2
The Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl #1.1

BACKLOG

Batman: Detective Comics #31
Green Lantern #31

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COVER GALLERY










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- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1407.24 - 19:47