Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday is New Comics Day

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.

Written by Garth Ennis; art by Steve Dillon

You wouldn't be off-base to assume this is a comic adaption of the new Punisher movie that just came out last week but in fact it's a new weekly mini-series from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon that I'm not sure has anything to do with the movie but is instead a sequel to their "Welcome Back, Frank" story arc from the Marvel Knights Punisher comic from a few years ago. If you're more familiar with Ennis' recent run on the Marvel Max version of the Punisher, the Knights version was what is referred to as the "funny" version of the character at least by comparison. If you've read Preacher by the same guys than you know what their idea of "funny" is.

By Philip Francis Nowlan & Dick Calkins
Hermes Press

The latest hardcover offering of newspaper strip reprints brings us good old Buck Rogers. When guys my age hear the name "Buck Rogers" we can't help but think of Gil Gerard and Twiggy and the dreamy Erin Gray...

...what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, old newspaper strips. Though the character got it's start in a pulp novella, this comic strip is where he really took off into the public consciousness. From an artistic perspective, we're not talking Alex Raymond or Milton Caniff levels of greatness here, but from a historical perspective this is an important one, worthy of the $40 hardcover treatment. Without Buck Rogers we wouldn't have Star Wars, Duck Dodgers in the 24-1/2th Century, and our fond memories of Erin Gray.

By David B.
$14.95 | 128 pgs

David B. has a bizarre dreamlike style that lends itself perfectly to a book in which he describes nineteen dreams that he's had between the period of 1979 and 1994. If you've read his highly acclaimed book, Epileptic, or any of his recent work in the anthology, MOME, you know that his graphic, black and white line work is all about imagination and psychological expression and not so much about reality. That said, the art in the previews for this one look a little more reined in than some of the wacked out stuff he's capable of. Oh and look there's a color in there.

Written by Kieron Gillen; art by Jamie McKelvie
Image Comics
$3.50 | 32 pgs

The first Phonogram mini-series was a popular book that presented a world in which 90s British pop music had magical powers. It made stars of its creators, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie - the latter has recently been seen doing some Marvel work. This new mini-series is a collection of single stories that each take place on the same night in the same nightclub. All revolve around music and magic and if you passed on the first series because it was in black and white you'll be pleased that, like McKelvie's beautifully pop-colored Suburban Glamour, this one is in full color. There's also a couple of backup stories with guest artists Marc Ellerby and Lauren McCubbin.

Written by Brian Michael Bendis; art by Alex Maleev

I believe it was the esteemed Dr. Manhattan that once said "Nothing ever ends."

If you went into last week's final issue of Marvel's latest mini-series event, Secret Invasion, expecting an actual ending to what you couldn't be faulted for thinking was a "story" you were mistaken. Again. These things don't end, they just lead you right into the next event. The good news is that the creative team is Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, frequent collaborators from such books as Daredevil, Illuminati and the occasional outstanding issue of New Avengers. Their run on Daredevil alone has filled me with enough good will that I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on any cash grab event they want to pull. Oh and I guess I'll go ahead and admit that the premise here sounds pretty good too. A "dark" version of the Illuminati. A group of villains that have been pulling strings in the same way that the "good" version of the Illuminati has been doing. And the funny thing is that Namor appears to be a member of both groups.

And then there's this stuff...

The second volume of Jeffrey Brown's new anthology where he branches out into new genres like mixed martial arts fiction. I hear this one has an 80 page fight sequence.

DC brings back the Milestone characters so that the JLA can beat them up, apparently.

A graphic novel by Quebecois cartoonist Pascal Girard that deals with the true story of the death of his younger brother but in a direct, honest way that at times is actually funny.

Marvel's latest release from their Soleil line of European reprints. This one is a classic series about the three survivors of a spaceship crash on a strange planet being pursued by deadly mercenaries.

If you'd prefer, save your money on the Buck Rogers reprints and pick up the second reprint volume of this classic strip instead.

A Marvel adaptation of the classic novel by Eric (Age of Bronze) Shanower and Skottie (New X-men) Young.


Rusty Baily said...

Honestly Rich, I cannot WAIT to read/just LOOK AT the Wonderful Wizard of Oz...that Skottie Young sure do draw purty! Once again, great reviews! THANX!

Andy Mansell said...

In all my years of strip collecting, the two strips that generate the most diametric opinions- love it or hate it-- are Lil Abner and Buck Rogers.

The biggest problem I have always had with BR is that it is sooooo over-written. The artwork is a matter of taste. However, it is really facinating to watch Nowlan and Calkins develop the world of the strip into the model that has been used for almost all subsequent SF works. (Raymond's Flash Gordon was always closer in story and feel to Robert E Howard than genuine SF)

My suggestion-- grab the book and read the first page, then jump to the middle--look at the difference!-- read it. If it floats your boat buy it!! If not you can either grab one of Raymond's or Raboy's Flash Gordon books... or take Rich's advice and pick up either volume Herbie Archive. It is THE most under-rated comic of all time. A gem

Thanks for listening-- great job Rich!!!

Phil Southern said...

It is indeed a bold new status quo for the marvel universe, the fourth bold new status quo in the past six years. NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME!

Rich Barrett said...

From a great review of Secret Invasion on

The status quo prior to SECRET INVASION: a force for evil had infiltrated the very heart of the Marvel universe, and were threatening to bring down the Marvel heroes from the inside. Who can the Marvel heroes trust?

The status quo after SECRET INVASION: oh my god, guys! A force for evil has infiltrated the very heart of the Marvel universe! It’s threatening to bring down the Marvel heroes from the inside! Who can the Marvel heroes trust?

Robert Ullman said...

I know it's nitpicky, but I hate, hate, hate the lettering job that NBM does with their translated works. Everything from the spacing to the font they use looks so cheap and slapdash. Compare the David B or Trondheim books published by NBM to those Fantagraphics puts out...the difference is glaring, and maddening.

Rich Barrett said...

NBM gets a lot of flack for their book designs and I guess the point you bring up, Rob, is part of that.

I feel like I have only actually seen one NBM book in person. Does the store carry many of them? Like all those Rick Geary books. He's NBM right? I've never seen one of his books in real life.

Dustin Harbin said...

I agree for sure about the NBM design thing, although I hate to poo-poo anyone who publishes good books. The Trondheim memoir ("Little Nothings" is not so bad. And the font they use for him is a like a Trondheim font, I think. But yes, they are way behind the curve for pretty books.

Rich, you should TOTALLY get Little Nothings or the new David B. book, both of which are NBM books. David B. is one of the most important cartoonists working right now, I really think. We don't carry the Rick Geary Victorian murder books--I tried the first two way back when at the old store, but they wouldn't sell, so I gave up.

Robert Ullman said...

I love the books that NBM publishes...I pushed 'em pretty hard back in the day when I managed Watch the Skies in Kent, Ohio and Tony Shenton was their rep...but their font choice rankles me, cause their books are this close to perfect! I'll probably still buy it!

Dustin Harbin said...

I will say, as someone who both buy AND aggressively sells First Second books, that their fonts aren't much better. A lot of them are little more than italized "handwriting" fonts, and look cheap. Even paying some newb like me to letter them (HINT!) would be better in the long term--at least it would look human...

Andy Mansell said...

Old Fart Alert:

The older I get, the more difficult it is for me to read badly chosen, miniscule or poorly executed fonts.

Take two books from First Second Bourbon Island and Gus & His Gang.
For me BI worked nicely, yes the font is dull, but the balloons are roomy and help the reader with the fast pace of the book.

Gus-- good lord-- the teensy print made reading what was truly one of the best comics of the year an absolute chore!! I love to spend extra time pouring over page design and mise-en-scene within individual panels, but if I am squirming in my chair for extra light and squinting just to read dinky, dinky font, it really kills the BUZZ!!
Bertozzi's The Salon was the same way-- he went for a stylized font that caused letters to blend together. It was nearly impossible to read with middle aged eyes.

I know I am setting myself up for some teasing, but to me, the poorly executed lettering in Gus is the equivalent of trying to watch a great old black and white foreign film where the subtitles are faded and diasappear into the white parts of the screen.

Thanks for listening

Robert Ullman said...

Yeah, I passed on GUS at first, even with all the accolade, 'cause the font was pretty bad. But then I spotted it for five bucks at a con, and decided it was far too good a deal to pass up. Haven't read it yet, tho'.

Phil Southern said...

wow, Dark Reign was bad. It was really, really bad. Namor looked like a hobo.

It hurt my face when I read it.

Rich Barrett said...

Glad to hear my number one pick for the week caused you facial pain, Phil. I sure know how to pick em, huh?

Phil Southern said...

ARGH! I meant no offense! I had some expectations of Dark Reign based on Daredevil, which I found to be Bendis' most consistent, revealing and interesting book.

However, Namor looks like a hobo, I'm sorry, but he does.

Vote for Bruce Hazel at !

Phil Southern said...

And before anyone points out that Namor was a hobo when the Human Torch found him in FF#4, I remind you that he was a "Bowery Bum", which is quite different. If you don't believe me, go ask a hobo and see what happens. I dare you!

Andy Mansell said...

Strange, I thought Rawhide Kid and Northstar were the only hobos in the Marvel Universe

Phil Southern said...

I have long been hobophobic