Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I'm working to decide what the first trade/graphic novel for review in 2010 will be. I will be posting the review on Sunday (January 3, 2010) and I'm looking for suggestions based off of the list I have posted of the trades I have.

Feel free to post comments and I will listen to all suggestions.

Enjoy a safe beginning of the new year, and thank you for your support!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Ultimate Origins

Title: Ultimate Origins

ISBN: 9780785128939
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2009
Artist: Butch Guice
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Collects: Ultimate Origins #'s 1-5

Rating: 3.5/5

I have to admit, when Marvel first started their Ultimate line (X-Men, Spider-Man, etc.), I wasn't real enthused about the idea that they were going to tell the same stories from back in the 60's and 70's with a modern spin and new art. Because of this generated bias, I didn't get into reading anything in the Ultimate line.

With the Ultimate lines growing popularity, and the fact that I have enjoyed everything I have ever read from Brian Michael Bendis, I decided to finally pick-up a few of the trades to get a feel for the setting. When I picked-up Ultimate Origins, I knew where I had to start. I love being able to start from the beginning over going through a story and then... somewhere in the middle... get brought backwards to cover why this has been happening. To me, that tactic loses some of the interest in reading the story in the first place. If there's an origin story to tell, I'd prefer to know at the beginning rather than waiting until I am engrossed in the modern storyline and then being dragged back. This is the reason why I have yet to read the Wolverine origin trades. Probably some day, though.

Back to Ultimate Origins. Bendis did not disappoint with this storyline. A lone phrase uttered by Bruce Banner to Spider-Man at the beginning of this book sets the whole story. "Listen, it's all connected. That's it. That's the secret." From Nick Fury to Wolverine to Captain America and beyond, this story draws you in like nobody's business. Bendis knows how to write. I wish I had half of his talent with words.

Butch Guice provides the artwork for this particular tale. While I feel that it sometimes lacks the definition that I enjoy in sequential art, it definitely works for this tale. I think my distraction from the art comes from the covers that have been inserted to separate the issues within this trade. While I enjoy the look of all the variant covers, I'm not thrilled with the newsstand covers and I wish they had kept them in the back like so many other trades do. This is not a flaw of Guice's, but Marvel's layout design for the book.

This trade has made me look forward to reading Ultimate X-Men and Spider-Man, both of which I have started to pick-up to add to my collection. If you're already a fan of the Ultimate storyline's, this is well worth giving a read.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Title: Watchmen

ISBN: 9780930289232
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: DC, 1987
Artist: Dave Gibbons
Writer: Alan Moore
Collects: Watchmen #'s 1-12

Rating: 4/5

Has any comic been as acclaimed as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen? Possibly only Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, but Watchmen remains the critics' favorite. Why? Because Moore is a better writer, and Watchmen a more complex and dark and literate creation than Miller's fantastic, subversive take on the Batman myth. Moore, renowned for many other of the genre's finest creations (Saga of the Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, and From Hell, with Eddie Campbell) first put out Watchmen in 12 issues for DC in 1986-87. It won a comic award at the time (the 1987 Jack Kirby Comics Industry Awards for Best Writer/Artist combination) and has continued to gather praise since.

The story concerns a group called the Crimebusters and a plot to kill and discredit them. Moore's characterization is as sophisticated as any novel's. Importantly the costumes do not get in the way of the storytelling; rather they allow Moore to investigate issues of power and control--indeed it was Watchmen, and to a lesser extent Dark Knight, that propelled the comic genre forward, making "adult" comics a reality. The artwork of Gibbons (best known for 2000AD's Rogue Trooper and DC's Green Lantern) is very fine too, echoing Moore's paranoid mood perfectly throughout. Packed with symbolism, some of the overlying themes (arms control, nuclear threat, vigilantes) have dated but the intelligent social and political commentary, the structure of the story itself, its intertextuality (chapters appended with excerpts from other "works" and "studies" on Moore's characters, or with excerpts from another comic book being read by a child within the story), the finepace of the writing and its humanity mean that Watchmen more than stands up--it keeps its crown as the best the genre has yet produced. --Mark Thwaite (Source:

I wanted to start this review with the words that really sum-up much of my feelings. Then, I wanted to tell my version.

Alan Moore is a very creepy genius when it comes to his writing. I have yet to read any of his work that doesn't make me think. Unlike many of Moore's fans, I think I actually started reading his work on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where most I believe started their fandom with From Hell or V for Vendetta. It wasn't until after I watched the movie versions of these books that I actually picked them up and read them. I'm glad I did.

When I first heard that they were creating a Watchmen movie, I was mildly skeptical. I didn't think that a true interpretation of the story would go over well with moviegoers, and felt that too many people would get lost in the Tales of the Black Freighter storyline. When I saw the first trailers in the theater, I was impressed and hopeful. I loved V for Vendetta and enjoyed The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but I knew that neither of these had been named "One of Time Magazine's 100 best novels". I waited in anticipation. How would they capture the essence of Doctor Manhattan and Rorschach? How much of Rorschach's backstory would they actually be able to fit into a movie?

Then came the media hype. Everything was Watchmen for the longest time. I was very concerned that this movie was going to become a bigger epic failure that Batman and Robin. I was wrong to feel this way. I think they were able to create a live action version of the story very well, without ruining the original work. Obviously, there were some liberties taken and changes made, but I feel that this was an incredible movie.

So naturally... I had to read the trade again.

My first time reading Watchmen, I remember having a hard time reading through all the Tales of the Black Freighter story. I didn't completely understand the necessity of it as I read. In the end, I made the connection. For some, this trade may also catch you in the same way. I urge you to continue reading to the end... It's worth the effort and the payout is an incredible story.

As many others (I'm sure), my favorite character is Rorschach. I love the twisted sense of justice he has. He reminded me of Frank Miller's Dark Knight, a Batman with an "F-off!" attitude. Rorschach played by his own set of rules, and was pissed that the very government and people that he was helping to protect turned their backs on him. If I were in his shoes, that would upset me as well. The difference is that I am not a vigilante hero.

In my opinion, the only other character with a flavorful background in this trade is (of course) Doctor Manhattan. That's why I feel that the movie version took a good deal of time giving you a look into what created both Manhattan and Rorschach. These were the 2 biggest characters in the trade, and they became the forefront of the movie. I feel that Moore captured the reality of what would happen if someone were given the ultimate power of the universe. They would ultimately get tired and bored of it and want to get away, thus falling right into the insidious plot of Ozymandias.

Dave Gibbons' art seems to have been made to depict this story. Reading this trade, I felt like I was in their world. It's not like reading a superhero book where the sights and sounds around the characters are familiar, you are in a different reality. There are moments where I see glimpses of the world from various movies. The biggest I recognize is from the world of Blade Runner. Not futuristic, but grimy and dirty. Trash all over and much of the inner city is not well maintained.

I would have to agree with most other people who have reviewed this trade before me. This book is well worth picking up and reading. This has a permanent spot in my collection, and has for several years. Earlier this year, I actually had to replace my original copy because it was beginning to fall apart from years of being read. I felt that the expense was justified.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Next review...

I apologize for not posting a review this week. My life has been in a bit of chaos recently, and I have moved again. My trades a GN's are in one location, where I am living in a different location. I intend to move them with me soon while I have time off of work. I promise that once I have my life under control again, I will be back on schedule. I will try to have a new review before Christmas, but I will promise a review no later than the following Sunday.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season, no mater what holiday you celebrate.

You can always connect with me on either Facebook or MySpace.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 1

Title: Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 1

ISBN: 9781600103452
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2009
Artist: Herb Trimpe, Don Perlin & Mike Vosburg
Writer: Larry Hama, Herb Trimpe & Steven Grant
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #'s 1-10

Rating: 4/5

I was so excited when I learned that IDW would be reprinting the original G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero issues in TPB format. This included with all other things G.I. Joe made me absolutly giddy in 2009. Give me a copy of the TPB and put the G.I. Joe cartoon in the DVD player, and this will keep me happy for a while. Watching the DVD's made me wonder how I ever thought that it could be based in anything close to reality, though. Nevertheless, it all brings me back to happier times when I didn't have so much to worry about and the country was in a better place... relativly speaking.

Larry Hama, the grandmaster of G.I. Joe. Creator and writer extrodinare. The storylines are fun allbeit the dialogue is sometimes clunky and akward. For me, the dialogue never detracted from the story or my enjoyment of the entire book. It made me hope that IDW could possibly publish these reprints faster so I could relive more of my childhood.

I love the face that this series is being reprinted from the beginning and hopefully encompassing the entire 155 issue run. I know that Marvel reprinted the first 50 issues in a series of TPB's back in 2002, but try to find them at a reasonable price. I was never a huge fan of the "spin-off" titles such as Special Missions and Eurpoean Missions, but I remember having a subscription for the Special Missions for the first couple years it was originally printed. If IDW decides to reprint these issues, I'm sure I'll pick them up and give them a read just to see why I didn't care for them when I was a kid.

The art is a real throwback to a generation that is slowly fading away. Back in the 80's, they didn't use computers to create the art. They didn't have Adobe and Apple computers were not known for their graphic capabilities. These comics were had drawn, inked, colored and lettered. Having touched on being an inker and really enjoying the experience, I can really appreciate the time and effort it must have taken to create each original issue.

This trade, and the subsequent volumes, are a must have for any G.I. Joe fan of the 80's. I would also recommend this book for anyone who was born after the 80's to really learn to appreciate the work and dedication of the artists and writers who worked without the assistance of computers... something you may not ever know.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

And the list grows.

Here are the recent additions to the collection of trades and GN's that I will be reading and writing reviews on:
  • Ultimate X-Men Vol. 2
  • Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1
  • Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 2
  • Batman and Son
  • Angel: Not Fade Away
  • Batman: Battle for the Cowl
  • G.I. Joe: Cobra
  • Spider-Man: Back in Black
I'm still looking for more requests/suggestions for other books to read.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wizard's 100 greatest TPB's/GN's

(Originally published in Wizard #212.)

#100 Batman: Faces
#99 The Red Star Vol. #1
#98 Batman & Dracula: Red Rain
#97 Spiderman vs. Venom
#96 The Complete Concrete
#95 X-Men: From the Ashes
#94 Batman: Haunted Knight
#93 Sock Monkey
#92 Cerebus Vol. #2: High Society
#91 Wolverine: Blood Debt
#90 American Flagg Vol. #1: Hard Times
#89 Batman: Arkham Asylum
#88 Hulk: Ground Zero
#87 Ultimate X-Men Vol. #1: The Tomorrow People
#86 Batman: Dark Victory
#85 Nightwing Vol. #4: A Darker Shade of Justice
#84 The Coffin
#83 Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood
#82 Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn
#81 Obergeist: Director's Cut
#80 Crisis On Infinite Earths
#79 Avengers: Ultron Unlimited
#78 JLA: Earth 2
#77 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Collected Book Vol. #1
#76 Batman: The Long Halloween
#75 Doom Patrol: Crawling from the Wreckage
#74 Whiteout
#73 Punisher: Circle of Blood
#72 Powers Vol. #1: Who Killed Retro Girl
#71 Goldfish
#70 Fortune and Glory
#69 Wolverine by Claremont and Miller
#68 Captain America: War and Rememberance
#67 Daredevil: The Man Without Fear
#66 Avengers: Under Siege
#65 Silver Surfer: The Rebirth of Thanos
#64 X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
#63 Jinx
#62 X-Force: A New Beginning
#61 Justice League: A New Beginning
#60 Infinity Gauntlet
#59 Earth X
#58 JLA: A New World Order
#57 Dr. Strange/Dr.Doom: Triumph and Torment
#56 Legion of Super Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga
#55 Strangers in Paradise Vol. #2: I Dream of You.
#54 Animal Man Vol. #1
#53 Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits
#52 Box Office Poison
#51 The Authority Vol. #2: Under New Management
#50 Iron Man: The Power of Iron Man
#49 Stormwatch Vol. #4: A Finer World
#48 Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others
#47 Walt Simonson Thor Visionaires
#46 Hellblazer: Hard Time
#45 New X-Men E is for Extinction
#44 Usagi Yojimbo Vol. #6: Circles
#43 Fantastic Four Visionairies
#42 100 Bullets Vol. #3: Hang Up on the Hang Low
#41 Akira Vol. #1
#40 Kingdom Come
#39 Banner
#38 Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days
#37 Planetary: The Fourth Man
#36 Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
#35 Pedro and Me
#34 300 HC
#33 League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
#32 Bone Vol. #2: Great Cow Race
#31 Torso
#30 Astro City: Confession
#29 Daredevil Yellow
#28 Spider-Man: Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaught
#27 Sin City: That Yellow Bastard
#26 Solar Man of the Atom: Alpha & Omega
#25 Fantastic Four: Trial of Galactus
#24 Death: The High Cost of Living
#23 Superman: For All Seasons
#22 Squadron Supreme
#21 Books of Magic
#20 Preacher Vol. #3: Proud Americans
#19 Hawkworld
#18 Frank Miller Daredevil Visionairies Vol. #2
#17 Magnus Robot Fighter: Steel Nation
#16 Top Ten Vol. #1
#15 New Teen Titans: Judas Contract
#14 Miracleman Vol. #3
#13 Swampt Thing: Saga of the Swamp Thing
#12 X-Men: Days of Future Past
#11 JSA Golden Age
#10 X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga
#9 Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow
#8 Marvels
#7 Daredevil: Born Again
#6 Batman: Year One
#5 Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. #1
#4 Sandman Vol. #4: Season of the Mist
#3 Batman: Dark Knight Returns
#2 Watchmen
#1 Maus: A Survivor's Tale

Spider-Man: The Other

Title: Spider-Man: The Other
ISBN: 0785128123
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2007
Artist: Mike Wieringo, Pat Lee, Mike Deodato Jr.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, Reginald Hudlin
Collects: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #'s 1-4, Marvel Knights Spider-Man #'s 19-22, Amazing Spider-Man #'s 525-528

Rating: 3/5

When I began reading this trade paperback, I thought that is was another great "What If..." storyline. I was wrong. This is what happens when you aren't reading the comics regularly and chronologically. Much to my surprise, this storyline was apart of Marvel canon. Even better, the events happened right before the epic Civil War storyline Marvel published that same year.

The only way I was familiar with J. Michael Strazynski (who is also credited as the Story architect) was Babylon 5 before this trade. I loved Babylon 5, and I wish that I had watched more when it was available. After the final episode on regular TV, my interest fell and I have yet to watch any other Babylon 5. His writing kept me interested through the entirety of this book. Combined with Peter David and Reginald Hudlin's writing, this came to be a very interesting read.

Spider-Man has been through several incarnations throughout the years. Cosmic. Scarlet. Armored. Black costume. Red & blue costume. Six-armed. Clone. And he has gone through so much physical trauma. This book sheds the years and pain from Peter Parker, and let's him start over again. A clean slate... with some new found abilities.

The last time I actually read an issue of any Spider-Man book, either Todd McFarlane was still working for Marvel or maybe it was when they introduced Carnage. Needless to say, I was caught unaware of the changes in Peter's life. This trade brought me back to wanting to read Spider-Man again. It was just by chance that I actually picked this book up.

There are 3 styles of art in this book. I can't say I'm a fan of all of them, but the style that broke my desire for the book the most made me think that the characters had jumped from New York City to Japan. It had the manga feel that I am not a big fan of. I know that there are those out there that really enjoy the manga feel, so they may really dig this 3rd style of art.

In a nutshell... this book was an excellent read. The art didn't really detract too much from the reading enjoyment. Even though I'm not a fan of the manga style, I was still able to get through the book without having put it down due to headache or eye strain.

Pick it up. Give it a shot. I think any Spidey fan will enjoy the story, at the very least.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bluntman & Chronic

Title: Bluntman and Chronic

ISBN: 1582402086
Price: $14.95
Publisher/Year: Graphitti Designs, 2001
Artists: Michael Avon Oeming, Pat Garrahy & Mike Allred
Writer: Kevin Smith

Rating: 3.5/5

Another favorite of mine is all things Kevin Smith. From "Clerks" and "Mallrats" to his more recent work with "Zach & Miri Make a Porno", I am a fan to the bitter end. Smith introduced us to the wonders of Jay & Silent Bob and a couple of young actors with real careers in their future. Talking about Ben Afflect, Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Shannen Doherty and Claire Forlani to name a few. Smith really knows how to write and how to make a guy laugh.

For those of you who don't actually know who Bluntman & Chronic are, I suggest renting "Chasing Amy". This is arguably Kevin's best cinematic work. This is where you get a true sense of where the characters come from. Give it a shot. You may become a Smith fan like myself.

As far as this graphic novel goes, Kevin Smith brought he writing skills to the comic very well. The art is alright, except I am not a big fan of Mike Allred. Fortunately, Allred's work is confined to a small story at the end of the book. The characters fit well within his art, but I just don't care for it. Good thing that Michael Avon Oeming and Pat Garrahy are here to save the most of the book.

For those of you who are already Kevin Smith fans and or of Jay & Silent Bob/Bluntman & Chronic, then it's just another reason to keep liking. For those who know they don't like Smith's work, don't bother picking up this book. For those who are undecided or are unfamiliar with the works of Mr. Smith, give it a try.