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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #257 - So many graphic novels; so little time

Private Eye - inside cover
Private Eye pg. 10
Private Eye - pg.4
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #257 - So many graphic novels; so little time

Hi Mom, Time for more of your favorite subject matter. Comic books! And not just comic books. REVIEWS of comic books, specifically graphic novels.

I am going to shamelessly steal text from GOODREADS, but fear not, I plan to make some short though pointed remarks.

I read a lot of graphic novels while I was ill this last week when I should have been studying Calculus and Java. Now, I did not read ALL of these in the last week, I have been assembling a stack all year, but I did read many.

Of them all, arguably, the best work is this one, and I proudly give it a 10/10.

Before the shamelessly stolen Good Reads TEXT, I will wax a bit on why. One thing I love about Private Eye is the smart way it allows the world's background to emerge. One difference between visual media such as films and comics is that the visuals can carry a great deal of information that would have to be described in prose and a reader will hold this visual information in abeyance until it is explained. So it is with Private Eye. Why does the guy have a fish head? Why is that woman wearing a a suit that makes her looking like a Tiger walking upright? Why do we see an ad that reads: "The LA Times: Your tax dollars at work!"? It's all explained eventually, but at first, it's all a strange and wonderful future that is fascinating and mysterious. When we finally get that street shot, shown above from page 10, and see all the different people, if we're not hooked by the story, we should be hooked by the visuals.

GREAT stuff.

Plus, Mom, this was a Christmas gift from Dad and as such from you, too. I ordered it for myself, but then had Dad go to Fanfare and buy it to gift me. I finally got around to reading it in the last two weeks.

The Private Eye: The Cloudburst Edition
by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin (artist), Muntsa Vicente (Colorist)

Because retailers, readers, and ROBERT KIRKMAN demanded it, the online sensation from PanelSyndicate.com’s BRIAN K. VAUGHAN (SAGA, PAPER GIRLS) and MARCOS MARTIN (The Amazing Spider-Man, Doctor Strange: The Oath) is finally coming to print with this gorgeous deluxe hardcover edition, presented in the story’s original widescreen format!

Years after the digital cloud “bursts” and exposes all of our worst secrets, THE PRIVATE EYE is set in an inevitable future where everyone has a secret identity. Following an unlicensed P.I. who is thrust into the most important case of his life, this sci-fi mystery explores the nature of privacy with frightening prescience.

Hardcover, 300 pages
Published December 17th 2015 by Image Comics (first published December 2nd 2015)
ISBN 1632155729 (ISBN13: 9781632155726)

I had misplaced my copy of BATMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 1, so I ended up buying it digitally so I could re-read it before reading the second one.

I love Gary Frank's art. I like these better than the Superman ones. These two volumes are riveting and powerful additions to the Batman mythology.

10/10 rating!

Batman: Earth One, Vol. 2 (Batman Earth One #2)
by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank (Penciller), Jon Sibal (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colourist, Cover Artist)

Following the events of the #1 New York Times bestselling original graphic novel by Geoff Johns, comes the highly anticipated sequel BATMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 2!

The Riddler has arrived in Gotham and he’s terrorizing the city with his own twisted brand of anarchy. But why is he attacking now, and what is his endgame? The Riddler isn’t Batman’s only problem, as Killer Croc is on the streets and his violent crimes can’t be ignored. Meanwhile, the Dark Knight has trouble reconciling the increasingly conflicting ideologies of Alfred Pennyworth and James Gordon in this gripping re-imagining of the Batman mythology.

Writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank bring you Batman as you’ve never seen him before in this thrilling original graphic novel that continues their unique take on the Dark Knight

Hardcover, 160 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by DC Comics
ISBN 1401241859 (ISBN13: 9781401241858)

The Superman volumes are interesting but not as strong compared to the two Batman Earth One volumes. Here we see Superman face off against Zod while the Luthors manipulate events. There are new twists on the mythology and a new woman in Clark's life, a "model/actress" named Lisa and Lexa, Lex Luthor's sister, who becomes THE Luthor at the end of this volume. Clark is serious enough about his new love interest to take her home to meet Mom. The art is solid, though not as good as Gary Frank's Batman work. I like JMS, but this one's just not as good as the Batman stuff. That said, it's the BEST Superman stuff on the market right now.
8.7/10 stars.

Superman: Earth One, Vol. 3
(Superman Earth One #3)
by J. Michael Straczynski, Ardian Syaf (Illustrator)

The follow-up to the NEW YORK TIMES #1 bestselling graphic novels SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 1 and 2 is here! Written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Ardian Syaf (BATGIRL), SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 3 follows a young Clark Kent as he continues his journey toward becoming the World's Greatest Super Hero. After defeating villains terrestrial and beyond, Superman faces a threat that he can't simply outmuscle. A threat smarter, more cunning and deadly than he can imagine: the Luthors!
Hardcover, 136 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by DC Comics
ISBN 1401241840 (ISBN13: 9781401241841)

Preacher, Vol. 1: Gone to Texas 
by Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon (Illustrator), Joe R. Lansdale (Introduction)

One of the most celebrated comics titles of the late 1990s, PREACHER is a modern American epic of life, death, love and redemption also packed with sex, booze, blood and bullets - not to mention angels, demons, God, vampires and deviants of all stripes.

At first glance, the Reverend Jesse Custer doesn't look like anyone special-just another small-town minister slowly losing his flock and his faith. But he's about to come face-to-face with proof that God does indeed exist. Merging with a bizarre spiritual force called Genesis, Jesse now possesses the power of "the Word," an ability to make people do whatever he utters. He begins a violent and riotous journey across the country in search of answers from the elusive deity.
Paperback, 199 pages
Published March 1st 1996 by Vertigo (first published January 1st 1996)

ISBN 1563892618
(ISBN13: 9781563892615)


9.3/10 rating. I had forgotten about this comic. I had bought the first volume many years ago and then never got around to reading it until my wife asked me if I had heard of a comic called Preacher as it was due to be a TV show on AMC and looked good. I went and found my copy and read it all in one afternoon convalescing on the couch. It's damn good stuff. The premise may be difficult to translate to TV, especially the AMC cable network, so I am curious to see that. But why had I not started to eat my way through this classic Vertigo series so far? I am on to volume two now.

The Fade Out, Vol. 3: Act Three by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips (Illustrations), Elizabeth Breitweiser (Illustrations)  The final act of the bestselling Hollywood noir comic from the award-winning team of Brubaker and Phillips! Collects THE FADE OUT #9-12
Paperback, 128 pages
Published February 17th 2016 by Image Comics
ISBN 1632156296 (ISBN13: 9781632156297)

RATING = 8.8/10


I love these noir, retro comics by Brubaker and Phillips. I still have not read both hardcover compiled volumes of Criminal, but what I had read I loved. I followed Fatale, lovingly, though in trade paperback, which is also how I have chosen to follow The Fade Out, in fact reading trades is the theme of this blog entry. I did not collect any of these series in single issues.

I liked Fatale better, plus the ultimate answer to the murder mytsery, though somewhat satisfying, is not revealed well visually or in terms of narrative. The story takes several wrong turns, in my opinion, hence the sub-nine rating. But it's still good, and the glimpse into the post-WWII world of Hollywood film mania and the McCarthy Communist witch hunts is at least historically satisfying. I hope Brubaker and Phillips do other stories in this time period and setting.

Men of Wrath
by Jason Aaron, Ron Garney (Illustrations)

Ever since Great Grandfather Isom killed a man over some sheep, a black cloud has hung over the Rath family. Now, over a century later, Ira Rath, the coldest hitman ever to walk on Alabama soil, has taken a job that will decide the fate of his cursed family once and for all. Writer Jason Aaron (Southern Bastards, Scalped) and artist Ron Garney (Weapon X, Thor: God of Thunder) reunite, to bring you the story of a Southern family, whose only heirloom is violence.

Paperback, 136 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Marvel (first published April 14th 2015)
ISBN 0785191682 (ISBN13: 9780785191681)
Literary Awards: Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee for Best Writer (for Jason Aaron) (2015)

RATING = 10/10

I see no reason to equivocate. I see no sense in finding reasons to trim rating points from this book. The week before the plague illness sent me to the couch, I went to Fanfare to purchase Scalped as I had been so impressed with Jason Aaron's Thor: God of Thunder and The Mighty Thor and thought I should read some of the other stuff he had produced for Vertigo.

The Fanfare powers that be influenced me to purchase this volume as well, and I liked it better than Scalped. I have always been a fan of Ron Garney. I am fond of the more realistic style of art exhibited by illustrators like Mike Deodato, Greg Land, Michael Lark, Steve Epting, and Seam Phillips (see previous). So it's no surprise that I would love Ron Garney's strong-lined style and dark shadowed moods. As this is a short series, this one volume tells the whole tale. FABULOUS!!

Scalped, Vol. 1: Indian Country
by Jason Aaron, R.M. Guéra,
Brian K. Vaughan (Introduction)

Jason Aaron, the up-and-coming writer of the critically acclaimed series THE OTHER SIDE teams with gritty artist R.M. Guera for an intense crime drama that mixes organized crime with current Native American culture.

Fifteen years ago, Dashiell "Dash" Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in hopes of finding something better. Now he's come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucks, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on "The Rez" -- short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime. Is he here to set things right or just get a piece of the action?

Cover by Jock
Collects Scalped #1–5
Paperback, 126 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Vertigo
ISBN 1401213170 (ISBN13: 9781401213176)


RATING = 8.6/10

This comic is good, but it drops several points for me simply because of the art. I am sure many people are great fans of R.M. Guéra, but his scribbly, scrawly figures and backgrounds lack definition and contort faces in ways that I find unpleasant to look at for page after page. Nice work with women's bodies, but still, the lack of definition doesn't work for me. Aforementioned artists like Lark, Epting, and Garney manage moodiness without sacrificing body definition and clean lines.

But the story and dialogue and all the researching (as Jason Aaron is NOT a Native American) give the story a good foundation. I am going to read the rest, and I am going to move on and read Southern Bastards and the Other Side, as now I am an official Jason Aaron fan, but as an overall product, Scalped did not thrill me as much as other comics on this page with higher ratings.

Crossed Badlands #83 (first issue of Crossed: Badlands volume 15by Mike Wolfer The bridge survivors might be beyond the grasp of the vile Crossed, but they're not out of the twisted murders' sight. Led by 'The Surgeon' and her crew, an alliance of Crossed practice their torturous ways in plain view of the survivors, and the constant barrage of horror begins to form cracks in the once solid affiliation of the uninfected. But the survivors have even more to worry them, as Morgan and Olivia reveal that their zombie survival guide proves that the practices the group have employed could spell their doom if immediate changes aren't implemented. Published 2015 by Avatar  FROM AMAZON: Comics horror veteran Mike Wolfer writes and illustrates a powerful new chapter in the Crossed saga! After admitting two women into their defensible stronghold atop a collapsed bridge, an uneasy alliance of survivors discovers just how the women successfully navigated through the horrors on the ground below. They followed the advice of their "bible," a best-selling, "zombie survival guide" novel. Fiction or not, the book could be the answer to saving all of their lives in the wasteland ruled by the maniacal Crossed. But trust in the uninfected can be more dangerous than the violent urges of the Crossed themselves. There is no help, there is no hope. There is only the Crossed. 

This volume collects issues #81 - 86 of the ongoing Crossed: Badlands series.

RATING = 10/10

Apparently the fifteenth volume of the Crossed series is so new that there's no volume posted yet to Good Reads, so I had to use the first issue. 

I liked the conceit of this story, and I like that the volume collects a self-contained story. I really like that there's a reason that these two women are dressed as exhibitionist, fan boy fantasy, dream girls, so that there's internal logic to comic. These two women are still stereotypes of the evil, manipulative, scheming sex vamp, femme fatales, but there's a new twist on what they scheme and how. It's clever and well done.

I am fascinated by the Crossed series. I read it originally, and then gave up on it because it was simply cheap, sensationalism as far as I could see. Take the zombie apocalypse a la 28 Days Later style but make the monsters cannibals AND sex-crazed rapists murderers with IQs equivalent to the Incredible Hulk of the 1970s. The premise fuels the Avatar mission for extreme blood and guts horror AND Nudity AND extreme sexual content. It's a brilliant way to merge all those goals in one comic. Also, the crossed mark is an obvious religious reference, which is satisfying as commentary. But I did not think the premise had enough to sustain the comic, so I cut it from my pull years ago. Since Alan Moore decided to take a run at what the Crossed apocalypse looks like in 100 years, I had renewed interest in the Crossed series and decided to slowly read the whole thing in trade paperbacks. 

Since the comic is not sequential and does not carry through the same characters, jumping around is not a problem. 

Of the comic's premise, Alan Moore said: "The Crossed are the dream-life of contemporary mass audiences. It's their dream-life. We are, as a culture, addictively obsessed with frenetic sex and frenetic violence. And we also link these two things, as if there is a natural connection between them...it is my contention that fear ans desire are very opposite sides of the same coin, that our desire for a thing is often equal to our fear of not achieving it, and vice versa. Our fear of  a thing is often the exact counterpoint of our desire for things to be otherwise. The two are intimately connected, and I think that in the case of the Crossed, you have the dream-life of modern society. The thing we would most dread and yet... and yet... you cannot deny that there is a visible and prominent urge to that dreadful, apocalyptic kind of erotic and fanatic experience. It's only pretty much what we are rehearsing in most of our action and sex movies. The dream-life of us."

Thanos: The Infinity Revelation by Jim Starlin There is an imbalance in the universe. And, since his latest return from oblivion, Thanos himself feels... incomplete. Now the so-called Mad Titan would put both wrongs right. A pilgrimage to Death's dark domain, and the revelatory waters of the Infinity Well, leads Thanos on a new quest, with a once sworn enemy at his side. A crusade that will bring confrontation with the Silver Surfer and the galaxy's mightiest heroes, the Annihilators. An odyssey that will change everything. Cosmic maestro Jim Starlin returns to his signature character in a tale of death and rebirth that will transform the Marvel Universe once more! Hardcover, 112 pages Published August 5th 2014 by Marvel ISBN 0785184708 (ISBN13: 9780785184706) BUY IT!!!

Thanos: The Infinity Relativity by Jim Starlin Annihilus, lord of the Negative Zone, makes a renewed assault on the positive universe, searching for a source of infinite power. To stop him, a fragile alliance of cosmic protectors forms. The Guardians of the Galaxy. Gladiator, Majestor of the Shi'ar. And Adam Warlock - whose complex cycle of death and rebirth has left him more confused than ever about his true nature. With Adam reunited with his Infinity Watch comrades Gamora, Drax and Pip the Troll - and joined by newer friends like Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and Groot -they hold the potential to end Annihilus' threat once and for all...if only they knew how! But the answer lies in the dark mind of another. A Titan, whom some would hold as mad. Could the fate of everything rest in the hands of...Thanos? Cosmic maestro Jim Starlin's infinite odyssey continues!
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Marvel

RATING = 8.1/10

This rating must be put in perspective. It's based on already being a Jim Starlin fan, which I am and have been all my life. I was a HUGE fan of the Warlock comics in the 1970s. I ADORED the Avengers-Kree war that involved Thanos in the late 1970s. And even more so, before I went to work at Marvel's Epic division, I managed to get my hands on the entire run of Dreadstar to date and read the whole thing in one sitting. It was my first ever binge read on new comics. I had never had a run of something like that before, and I find it odd that Dreadstar is not mentioned among his writing and art credits.

This stuff is good, though not great, if you already love Starlin. The art is gorgeous. But as a story, it's not that great, and if you don't already know Starlin's work on these characters, this stuff is probably going to be inscrutable and meaningless.

East of West, Vol. 1: The Promise by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Nick Dragotta (Artist), Frank Martin (Colourist) This is the world. It is not the one we wanted, but it is the one we deserved. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the Earth, signaling the End Times for humanity, and our best hope for life, lies in DEATH. Collecting: East Of West 1-5 Paperback, 152 pages Published September 11th 2013 by Image Comics ISBN 1607067706 (ISBN13: 9781607067702) URL: https://www.imagecomics.com/comics/releases/east-of-west-vol.-1-the-promise-tp BUY IT!!
East of West, Vol. 2: We Are All One by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Frank Martin (Colourist), Nick Dragotta (Artist) The second volume of the most exciting new book in the industry is here! "We Are All One" follows our cast around the fractured future-scape of America as we learn more about a world that's rapidly coming to a end. Collecting: East Of West 6-10 Paperback, 144 pages Published April 9th 2014 by Image Comics ISBN 1607068559 (ISBN13: 9781607068556) URL: https://www.imagecomics.com/comics/releases/east-of-west-vol.-2-we-are-all-one-tp BUY IT!

East of West, Vol. 3: There Is No Us by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Nick Dragotta (Artist), Frank Martin (Colourist) It's the third volume of the Eisner-nominated East Of West. "There Is No Us" sees the breaking apart of the future-scape of America as the world races forward towards the apocalypse. Collecting: East Of West 11-15 Paperback, 144 pages Published October 21st 2014 by Image Comics (first published October 8th 2014) ISBN 1632151146 (ISBN13: 9781632151148) BUY IT!!

East of West, Vol. 4: Who Wants War? by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Nick Dragotta (Artist), Frank Martin (Colourist) It's the fourth volume of the Eisner-nominated, best-selling East of West. "Who Wants War?" sees Year Two of the Apocalypse kick into high gear. Collecting: East of West 16-19 & East of West: The World Paperback, 144 pages Published May 13th 2015 by Image Comics BUY IT!!

RATING = 9.7/10

I am not sure why I am giving this a 9.7, maybe just because I do not want to give so many things 10/10? I love the premise of this series. It's an alternate history of the United States, which is a concept that I have been working on as well, and it's set in the future at the time of the Biblical apocalypse, and so it features the Horsemen and the beast and DEATH. The art is gorgeous, and the story is smart (I like Hickman). In fact, Hickman avoids some of his indulgences that made his Avengers work somewhat inscrutable: multiple storylines, unresolved storylines, and over complicated milieu that he cannot support with the medium in the short issues on the set schedule.
EAST OF WEST works much better with fewer stories and good resolution. I like the technique of dropping a reader into a world with no explanation and letting the reader slowly come to understand the world. Eventually (so to start volume four), Hickman finally provided a world overview, explaining features and nations, but by this point, I had figured out most of that stuff. Obviously this story is best read in one go, certainly not monthly. It has not become my new favorite or even a top five favorite, but I am engaged enough that I am finishing these four volumes before I go back to new, single issues that are filling up my bedside night stand drawer.

Did I mention that I LOVE the art??

There's the round up. I took out Revival, which I will handle in another post as I have to stop working on this now and do work-work and school work. Plus this is a day behind anyway.

Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 259 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1603.20 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.
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