Sunday, December 26, 2010

Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale

Title: Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale

ISBN: 978159825612
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Dark Horse, 2010
Artist: Chris Samnee
Writer: Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon

Rating: 4/5

When I saw the first commercials for Firefly on television, I was excited to watch it. Finding the day and time it was on at any given week was sometimes near impossible, so I never actually got a chance to watch it first-run. My father had, and he enjoyed it greatly. When I hear that it was off the air, I was very saddened that I never got the chance to watch it.

Fast-forward to several years later, and I get the complete series and Serenity on DVD for my wife and she spends her entire Christmas break watching it. She draws me into watching it when I can, and I am sucked into the series. When I found out that Joss Whedon was writing more Serenity to fill in the gap between the series end and the movie as well as some things left open from the movie, I was all sorts of excited.
Shepherd Book has always been one of my top favorite characters from the series, and Whedon gave him a shady past that would have probably been examined closer had the series lasted for more than a single season.  In this trade, we learn about the secrets behind the man.

In the series, they elude to him having served in the Alliance at some point. The story in this trade works backwards from his death in the movie... going back several years at a time, and takes us clear back to his childhood to help us truly understand what makes Shepherd Book the man he is and was. This format works well if written well, and the Whedon’s write it well.

The art is a great compliment to the writing, but it’s not all that great. When I think of great artwork in comics, I’m thinking along the lines of Jim Lee or Marc Silverstri. Chris Samnee captures the essence of this trade, but I wasn’t pulled in our enthralled by it. The story makes this book was it is.

I would love to see something similar done to most of the cast of Firefly/Serenity… especially if it has a tie-in with a particular episode or the movie. I’m sure if Joss Whedon wanted to, he could make that magic happen. He may be doing it, but we don’t know yet. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and put this book in our collection.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds

Title: G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds

ISBN: 9781600107764
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Howard Chaykin, Antonio Fuso
Writer: Max Brooks
Collects: G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds #1-5

Rating: 4/5

From the mind of the author of World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide, we now have G.I. Joe: Hearts and Minds. When I first hear of this title, two thoughts came to mind: “Wow! Max Brooks is writing for G.I. Joe! I must have this.” –and– “Whoa! What kind of title is ‘Hearts and Minds’? This doesn’t sound like something Brooks would write.” Well… I read it, and it was good!

The title alone doesn’t really inspire a real G.I. Joe vibe, but then again, Max Brooks is not your typical G.I. Joe writer. With his previous work, you may think he’d throw in a zombie or two. Not the case. This trade dives into the thoughts of 5 different G.I. Joes and Cobra’s and gives you a glimpse of the types of people who work for each organization.

When I saw the line-up of characters Brooks was writing for, I thought that there were some better choices that could have been made. Perhaps a few more “popular” characters like Snake Eyes, Destro, Zartan or Storm Shadow. As I read through this trade, I realized that he had made the correct choices to start this new sub-genre of comic book writing. Besides, this title was not meant to help promote a cartoon series or line of action figures like the original G.I. Joe comic was.

Our cast of character include: Major Bludd, Spirit, Firefly, Tripwire, Deep Six, Interrogator, Dr. Mindbender, Doc, Recruits, and Blowtorch. Interrogator and Recruits would have been my choices to originally omit at the opening, but when I read their stories I was convinced they needed to stay. Of all the different tales, my favorite has to be Firefly’s. Once you read it and step back a little, it’s really kind of funny. I hope you see what I mean. My only clue to you is that this tale is a good example of social engineering at work.

There are moments in each story where the character starts to daydream, in a sense. This gives an insight into what goes on through their minds. To my knowledge, this has never before been done in the action hero style genre that we have with G.I. Joe. Sure, we’ve learned character’s backstory in the process of reading an issue or few, but nothing like this. If I am wrong, I am happy to read whatever previous incarnations there may have existed prior to this trade. I would like to see how they stack-up against the bar that I have put after reading this trade.

Being a fan of the current vision of G.I. Joe, I am used to Chaykin and Fuso’s work. This is also why I collect the variant or retailer incentive covers of all the G.I. Joe titles. They have different styles, but they work to help the story along.

No matter if you’re a fan of the writings of Max Brooks or a G.I. Joe fan from year’s past/present; I feel you will enjoy this trade. Hopefully as much as I did.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Want to help support this blog?

I have teamed-up with Lone Star Comics of Arlington, Texas to help generate a way to help support my efforts with this blog. They have an affiliate program where I earn credit for when people click-through my link and make a purchase on their website. They have fair prices, and this is where I've turned to to get certain issues that my LCS is no longer able to acquire... namely variant covers.

I would encourage you to check them out and see for yourself. Please click the image below.

Thank you for your continued support.

Help me earn some credit.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

John Constantine, Hellblazer: The Family Man

Title: John Constantine, Hellblazer: The Family Man

ISBN: 9781401219642
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2008
Artist: Ron Tiner, Sean Phillips, Steve Pugh, Dean Motter, Kevin Walker, Mark Buckingham, Mark Pennington
Writer: Jamie Delano, Dick Forman
Collects: Hellblazer #23-24, 28-33

Rating: 2.5/5

When I saw the movie Constantine, I knew I would enjoy reading the series. I have always been interested in the occult and the supernatural. It wasn’t until recently that I actually sat down and started reading it. I started with the earliest trade I could find. I got this trade as a part of a birthday present.

The writing in this trade is interesting but odd because of the British accents being written. It did give the sense of being in Great Britain, but sometimes it would have been nice to be able to read what was meant rather than what was said with accent added. This is a change from trade to movie I’m glad was made. Please don’t get me wrong. I enjoy listening to a good British/English accent from time-to-time, but reading it can be tedious at times.

Occasionally, the panels would also be hard to follow. On one page the flow is standard left-to-right and down a row. The next series is meant to be read across the entire two-page spread. A few time in this particular trade, this also lead to some particularly confusing dialogue. Whoever set the panels for these anomalies should have taken better care is making sure the reading knows where the flow of the story is going rather than just spilling the entire story across two-pages.

Because Hellblazer has been around since the late 80’s, the art is a throwback to that time. Before the popularity of artists such as Michael Turner, Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee, there was the 80’s and early 90’s. The style that had not changed since probably the 70’s is soon to get a facelift from the time the comics for this trade were published. It would have been nice if they only used a single artist for this trade, or at least used artists with similar styles. After the Family Man storyline, the art takes on a darker, harder to look at style. While this works with the writing, it’s not easy to look at and afforded me more time to set this trade down.

One of the last storylines in the trade deals with the spirit of a former inspector who has inhabited the body of a dog. This dog takes over a pack of (what I guess) stray dogs and they live in a salvage yard. How the main dog, Drummond, can actually speak is beyond me. If the reason was stated in this trade very openly, then I guess I must have missed it in the British accented dialogue that bogs this trade down.

The saving grace for this trade is that though the minor storylines lack in dialogue and art, the majority of this trade has a well thought out storyline that is actually engaging.  The precursor to the main storyline is intriguing and gives you a little taste of what could be coming from Vertigo in the form of the Fables series. The entire Family Man story kept me in a near constant state of anticipation. I could envision a similar serial killer on the streets of modern day America, or England. Jamie Delano did a great job scripting the plot for this story, even if the dialogue is sometimes lost.

If you’re already a Hellblazer fan, I think you may enjoy this trade. I don’t think it was the best one to start my readings into the life of John Constantine, but I will press on. My biggest wish for this series is that instead of publishing the trades as separate books, I would have appreciated if they would have published them as sequential volumes in a series so I know in which order to read them. Right now, I’m just looking at the indicia to figure out which book should be read in what order.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Title: Siege

ISBN: 9780785148104
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2010
Artist: Michael Lark, Lucio Parrillo, Oliver Coipel,, Jim Cheung
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Collects: Siege: Prologue, Siege: The Cabal #1-4, Avengers: The Way Things Are

Rating: 3.5/5

Finally, the Dark Reign is over. This trade represents the end of H.A.M.M.E.R. and Norman Osborn's Avengers. Asgard has been brought to Earth, and everyone's fearful of what that means. What few people know is that Loki is manipulating both Asgard and Obsorn.

No one could ever imagine what the Sentry would be capable of if properly (or improperly) motivated. How does a God fair up against the power of Bob? We find out when he and Ares go tooth and claw against one another. Only one remains standing at the end of their battle. What does this outcome mean for the future?

Through the Dark Reign storyline, we've seen the decline of Norman's mind. We've seen that internally he's been at odds with the Goblin, and it may be that the Goblin wins. I'd think that this wouldn't be a very good turn of events for the "reformed" Norman Osborn. He's professed that he's alright from the beginning, but was that all a ruse to get the Green Goblin into power as Osborn?

From Civil War to Secret Invasion and the Dark Reign, this story finally brings the world's superheroes back together under a single banner. To Hell with the registration act, and who cares that there were divides between long time friends. This story brings together a new set of Avengers, bridging the old and new. And we also have the return of Thor to the ranks of the Avengers.

As much as I enjoy reading Bendis' work, I've had a hard time truly enjoying the Dark Reign and Siege stories. I think that if I had stayed better connected to the events preceding these stories, I might have found them more appealing. It's no fault of Bendis, but more the actual storyline that I have issue with. In the 80's I was pro Marvel and I barely read anything else. In the 90's, I expanded my horizons to include other publishers, but I was first and foremost a Marvel fan. Any more, I would prefer to read stories from Vertigo or IDW over Marvel. What does that mean for my taste in reading? Have my tastes evolved or have the stories from Marvel become so hard to enjoy?

In any case, for those who have been enjoying the continuing Marvel universe storyline, this is well worth the time. I think that reading the companion volumes to this trade would also help the story as a whole.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Preacher: Proud Americans

Title: Preacher: Proud Americans

ISBN: 9781563893278
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 1996
Artist: Steve Dillon
Writer: Garth Ennis
Collects: Preacher #18-26

Rating: 4/5

The beginning of this trade finds Jesse learning about his father in the days of the Vietnam war, and we learn where the "Fuck Communism" Zippo came from. It's interesting to see how much like his father Jesse is. This is a great story before getting into the meat of this trade, which revolves around Jesse going into the heart of the Grail and rescuing Cassidy.

We learn a great deal about both Cassidy and Starr. We see how much punishment and death Cassidy can go through, and still stay alive. With Starr, we get an understanding on how he's changed since his time in San Francisco. And we also get to meet the Grail's Allfather and the progeny of the sacred bloodline. Who knew that inbreeding the holy bloodline would have such dramatic effects on the descendant of Jesus Christ? It also looks like this group of Christians may also have an affection for Buddha. (You'll get this joke once you've read this trade.)

It's really amazing to see what Cassidy can actually live through. Being shot several times, dismembered and blown apart by a grenade and he still lives on. After getting his manhood shot off, I don't think he'd want to live much longer. It's a good thing they didn't decide to just toss him outside at noon.

I shouldn't forget that the Saint of Killers makes an appearance or two in this trade as well. If it weren't for the Saint, Jesse probably wouldn't have survived very long. And he probably wouldn't have learned a ton about Genesis. Oh... did I fail to mention that the Grail actually had Genesis' "father" (who was cast down from Heaven) locked-up in their prison? Guess that must've slipped my mind.

Another great addition to your collection, and a continuation of the Preacher series. As they say about Pokémon, "Gotta catch them all!" Every volume of this series should be a foundation to you graphic novel/trade paperback collection.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Superman: Earth One

Title: Superman: Earth One

ISBN: 9781401224684
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: DC, 2010
Artist: Shane Davis
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski

Rating: 3.5/5

From the creative mind that brought us Babylon 5, we have the retelling of the age-old tale of a dying planet, and their one hope for continued existence. A child sent to live away from its family. Born of one world, but raised in another.

With many series reboots over the years that have been successful and not (the new Batman movies, Marvel's Ultimate universe, etc) I guess it was time for a new version of Superman. I do like the idea of Clark Kent being a fresh out of Smallville Junior College, looking for a job in the "big city" of Metropolis. The cover of this trade seems to indicate a power within him, eager to be let out. So many years of having to keep it secret from the world.

The art was good for this story. I wish that the story hadn't been so epic, but I understand why it was. This is the world's introduction to Superman, so it has to be big. How about we throw in a race of aliens from a planet that used to go to war with Krypton? And they want to kill Superman since he's the last remaining Kryptonian. Sounds like a good enough story.

What I like the most is that the classic story is now brought to the modern day. Sure, Clark was still raised on a farm in Smallville, but there are cell phones, digital cameras and the internet. Welcome to the 21st century Superman.

When I saw that Amazon had sold out of this trade only days after the initial release, I decided I had to get a copy and find out if it was worth it. I found that the local Borders had several, so I picked it up and gave it a read. It's not too bad. It's a good start, but I don't know if DC has decided to have Straczynski write more books for this series, or if it's just a one-shot.

Either way, I think it's worth picking-up and reading at least once. It will linger in my collection, and I will probably never read it again... but it was worth the initial read.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Preacher: Until the End of the World

Title: Preacher: Until the End of the World

ISBN: 1563893126
Price: $14.95
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 1997
Artist: Steve Dillon
Writer: Garth Ennis
Collects: Preacher #8-17

Rating: 4/5

Here we have another installment of the Preacher series. This trade gives you a great deal of insight into Jesse Custer's background. What drove him to become a preacher? What was his childhood like? What about his parents?
It all goes back to a little place called Angelville. Sounds like a nice place, huh? When you first drive up to the large house with the burning crosses out front, then you begin to realize that the name may be a bit of a misnomer. This place is all about religion, but they are hard-line about it. Led by Jesse's Grandmother, Miss Marie L'angell, you have only ever seen a more sick and twisted bunch of people in a Rob Zombie movie.

The 2 primary antagonists from Custer's past are Jody and T.C. Jody seems to be the sadist of the two, beating the hell out of Jesse at every turn, and afraid to not kill. There's even a scene where a young Jesse Custer tries to fight Jody, only to get his ass handed to him, his arm broken, and then punished for being vulgar by being trapped in a coffin underwater for two weeks. T.C. seems to be a product of inbreeding with farm animals. He enjoys the carnal company of various things, including a little "romantic" interlude with a chicken in the barn. This trade has prooved to me that Garth Ennis has a sick mind.

Through all the strangeness and horrible acts of violence and cruelty, God actually seems to make an appearance in this trade. You'll be surprised why he makes his appearance and the impression he leaves behind.

The next part of this trade brings Jesse and Tulip back to Cassidy in San Francisco. Good times until they find out that Cassidy's girlfriend died of a drug overdose and they all go to find the pricks that gave her the heroin. Enter Jésus DeSade and the Grail... separately, of course. The Grail is looking for Jesse, and the drugs lead directly to Jésus. Just to give you an idea, Jésus is the leader of a group called the Gomorrah People. Needless to say, there is debauchery all over the end part of this trade.

Add this trade to you collection, and keep reading this series. I look forward to going through the next several volumes of this series, and I'll be sad when it's over.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

1 year & growing!

Zanziber's 1st Year
2009 - 2010

I wanted to thank everyone who has been reading my reviews and those that have giving me support over the past year. I'm currently having ideas of expanding this out to other avenues. I will still be writing my reviews of trade paperbacks, but I would like to broaden the scope of people who have been seeing them. I have been posting many of my reviews on ComicCollectorLive, but I'm also looking at a few other established websites to promote/publish my reviews on.

The next big item on my list of year 2 is a sponsor. As I have noted, these reviews were based on 2 criteria; my collection and reader's suggestions. The number of trades that I haven't reviewed that are in my collection is slowly diminishing. I have been in contact with one of my LCS, and will be bringing the idea back to their attention soon. I do not get paid for these reviews. I do these reviews as a creative outlet. If I could possibly land a paying gig writing my reviews on a weekly basis, that would help support the whole process. The more disposable income I have, the better my ability to purchase more trades to add to the collection and more trades to review for the future.

As always, I am open for suggestions and enjoy receiving feedback. You keep reading here, I'll keep writing.

Identity Crisis

Title: Identity Crisis

ISBN: 9781401204587
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: DC, 2005
Artist: Rags Morales
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Collects: Identity Crisis #1-7

Rating: 4/5
Comic books have really evolved since the golden age. Does anyone remember the Comics Code Authority (CCA)? Back in the days when violence and sexual innuendo was restricted, this story would have never been published. Then again, I think the same could be said for about 90% of the comics currently being published.

This was my introduction to Brad Meltzer's writing. To say the least, I am a fan. He lured me into the DC Universe, got me up-to-speed, and fascinated me with this storyline. The big question this trade poses is "What happens when the 'bad guys' learn the secret identities of the 'good guys' and start taking it out on their families?" Another good question Brad poses is "Where do superheroes draw the line?"

This trade is an excellent read of fiction, and an interesting study in psychology. How far do superheroes allow ethics and morality to be bent before they become the very villains they combat? Where is the line drawn? For people like Batman, there has always been a large gray area of morality. On the other hand, Superman fights for "truth, justice, and the American way." What happens when a small group of heroes from the Justice League cross the line and keep it secret from the rest? What usually happens when anyone tells a lie? Sooner or later, the lie is discovered.

The entire superhero community is so focused to find the person who committed a horrible act of murder against one of their own; they don't think to look to themselves as possible suspects. They act well as a team, but they don't think well together. It doesn't help that those who are covering their secret help to form the teams to hunt down suspects. The end of this story and the reveal of the real culprit will shock you.

As I said, this is a great work of fiction and psychology. Meltzer did his homework before he wrote this fine piece of work. Rags Morales' art is a fine compliment to Meltzer's writing to combine and create one hell of a trade. Add this one to your expanding collection as I have. I have already read this trade twice, and it has been a great read each time without any disappointment.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Preacher: Gone to Texas

Title: Preacher: Gone to Texas

ISBN: 1563892618
Price: $14.95
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 1996
Artist: Steve Dillon
Writer: Garth Ennis
Collects: Preacher #1-7

Rating: 4/5
When I had to sell some of my graphic novel and trade paperback collection, the Preacher series was one of the hardest to sell. I was able to re-create my collection of Sandman, but I'm still working on this series. I decided to pick this trade up to read for review, and I realized how much I love the work of Garth Ennis.

Before I became a huge Bendis fan, I followed Ennis with a passion that could easily be called fanaticism. I read everything I could find with his name associated with it. In my eyes, he could do no wrong. He gives me a much needed diversion from superheroes, mutants and mecha. His writing reminds me of why DC created Vertigo, and why I love it so much.
The recipe for this series is as follows:
  • 1 part southern preacher
  • 1 part female with personal issues and ties with said preacher
  • 1 part Irish vampire with attitude
  • Mix with an Angel/Demon hybrid child named Genesis
  • Include various ranks of Angels who need to stop Genesis from discovering a secret
  • Add 1 Saint of Killers sent to bring Genesis back to Heaven, and who kills whoever gets in his way
  • Stir in a bunch of normal people (including the local authorities and FBI) to get in the way
  • Bake for about 75 issues (9 trades)
  • Read often
In this trade, we have the small beginnings of the entire series. We find out how Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy found each other. We also get a glimpse inside of Jesse's mind as he converses with John Wayne. Don't forget the Saint of Killers who has been tasked to send Genesis back to Heaven. And the there's Arseface. You have to read this trade in order to really appreciate this series. Pick it up and add this to your growing collection of graphic novels and trade paperbacks.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gear School Volume 2

Title: Gear School Volume 2

ISBN: 9781595826022
Price: $7.99
Publisher/Year: Dark Horse, 2010
Artist: Núria Peris, Sergio Sandoval
Writer: Adam Gallardo

Rating: 3.5/5

The continuing saga of teenagers in specialized school. In this volume, we have the imortal tale of girl likes boy, but is afraid to express her emotions because she thinks that the boy doesn't have the same feelings. This tale also has the turn where the upper classmen try to help Teresa in the acedemic field of the Gear.

A little after hours test against an unknown opponent helps give Teresa some needed confidence and adrenaline. Unfortunatly, like all good stories, there is a twist that may leave our young Teresa doubting herself.

Because the story is so short, so to must the reviews. Thank you Adam for keeping the story interesting enough that I look forward to the next volume. I do hope you're able to publish the next volume sooner than 3 years. Keep up the good work.

Pick-up this volume, and continue reading this series.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Title: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

ISBN: 9781593078911
Price: $15.95
Publisher/Year: Dark Horse, 2008
Artist: Brian Ching, Bong Dazo, Wayne Nichols
Writer: Haden Blackman

Rating: 3.5/5

After playing this game on my X Box 360, and also being a big fan of most anything Star Wars, I felt compelled to read this graphic novel. I was not disappointed, and with the sequel game coming out soon, I would recommend reading this and playing the game before you get the new release.

The story follows the same lines from the game, except that it is from the point of view of Proxy; Starkiller's training droid. He recounts the events of Starkiller's life until he is disabled on Corellia after Vader's attack. The story is well written and gave me several ideas for running a Star Wars RPG game. I love the idea of Vader taking on a secret apprentice, and then the entire idea was Emperor Palpatine's plan all along to find out who the main opponents to the empire are.

The action in this graphic novel and the video game are spectacular, and this is a good read for any Star wars fan. The art fits well with the story and allows you to step back into the Star Wars universe while you read.

My only problem with this book was that the cover separated from the rest of the book at the spine when I opened it for the first time. This is apparently an issue that Dark Horse has with many Star Wars books, because the same thing happened to me when I bought brand new copies of some of the Star Wars: Infinities trades. As posted previously, once I commented to Dark Horse the problem I had with this particular book, they were quick to respond for my shipping address to send me an undamaged copy. Kudos to Dark Horse, but ultimately they should probably get a better binding process/system so this doesn't happen again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gear School Volume 1

Title: Gear School Volume 1

ISBN: 9781593078546
Price: $7.95
Publisher/Year: Dark Horse, 2007
Artist: Núria Peris, Sergio Sandoval
Writer: Adam Gallardo

Rating: 3.5/5

I like being able to support local writers, artist and businesses. With this single book, we have Adam Gallardo from my hometown of Salem, Oregon and Dark Horse Comics based out of Milwaukie. I've been a long time supporter of Dark Horse, and even submitted my first attempt at a script to them oh so many years ago.

I met Adam when he was writing 100 Girls for Arcana Studio. He came into my place of business, where I was the assistant manager, wondering if we'd be interested in carrying his title. Adam has come a long way since those days. It's good to see him writing for Dark Horse again, as I was a HUGE fan of his work on the title Star Wars: Infinities - Return of the Jedi. I have a great deal of respect for Adam as a writer.

Let me be frank on one point: I've become less and less of a fan of manga as an art form over the past 6 years with the proliferation of title popping-up all over the place. I remember when manga and anime were only able to be found in the back shelves of comic book shops, and now you can find several shelves lined full at your local Borders or Barnes & Noble. I prefer old Robotech and Akira over Naruto, Fruits Basket and Yu-Gi-Oh.

The story is basic in its design. You have an alien race that the Earth is at war with, and the human’s defense are large war machines called "Gear". In this, you have your basis from the Robotech series. This story is where these teenagers are learning how to pilot the "Gear" so they can become the next generation of defense for the world. I like this.

Adam and crew not only capture the beauty of having these huge machines to be able to go into battle with, but the difficulty of these teens going through training and going through normal teenage items. Think of it as Robotech mixed with a little Head of the Class or Saved by the Bell, without it being so silly or campy. (Probably not the best references I could draw from, but I think you get the idea.)

My biggest issue with this series is the fact that they are so short. Adam did write the story well enough that I wanted to read volume 2, but I could easily see the 2 volumes combined into a single graphic novel. It does go without saying that Adam and crew probably didn't have everything for volume 2 ready when they published volume 1, and I can forgive this small oversight. :)

In this volume, we are introduced to the primary characters, and get a brief glimpse of their school activities. There are awkward social situations and little pieces of teen angst that keep this book light hearted. Of course, like any good beginning of a long term storyline, we are given an opportunity to see what these cadets are training to fight/defend against. The aliens have the typical manga/anime feel, so don't be too surprised.

I picked this book up because I know Adam. I read it because I wanted to review it. I praise it because I liked it. This book, and series, will have a permanent placement in my collection. Probably not for everyone, but I think it's well worth trying if you have the chance.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love

Title: Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love

ISBN: 9781401227500
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2010
Artist: Shawn McManus
Writer: Chris Roberson
Collects: Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love #1-6

Rating: 4/5

Oh how I love the Fables series and this trade is no different. It may not have been written by Bill Willingham, but Chris Roberson captures the essence of Cinderella beautifully in this work. It definitely satisfied my desire for more Fables since I still have a few months before volume 14 becomes available.

As devoted followers of this series know, Cinderella is one of Fabletown's secret tourists; a spy network originally setup by Bigby and now run by the current sheriff, Beast. Mild mannered (opinion) shoe store owner by day, super spy by night.

Cinderella's mission is to find out who has been trafficking in magic items to the mundy's. Oddly enough, her mission takes her to the Middle East and she runs into Aladdin and they work the mission together. Soon enough, they find out that the picture is larger than imagined. While magic weapon's are coming into the mundy world, mundy weapons are headed back to the Homelands.

After this revelation, Cindy and Aladdin head through the portal where the weapons were headed, and arrive at Ultima Thule. This region of the Homelands has daylight for 6 months, and night for 6 months. There's a law against frowning and non-licensed magical items. Who is behind this insidious land? You'll have to read this trade to find out.

While Cinderella's away, someone has to run the shoe store. Enter Crispin Cordwainer. He's been working there forever, and doesn't feel that he receives the respect that he deserves. While Cindy's gone, Crispin decides to place an order for some new shoes to be made. Unfortunately, these new designs are not well received.

As with all the rest of the Fables series, add this trade to your collection.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ultimate X-Men: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1

Title: Ultimate X-Men: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1

ISBN: 0785121870
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2006
Artist: Adam Kubert, Andy Kubert, Aaron Lopresti, Tom Raney, Tom Derenick
Writer: Mark Millar, Geoff Johns
Collects: Ultimate X-Men #1/2-12

Rating: 4/5
As I mentioned when I wrote my review for the Ultimate Spider-Man trades, I came to the "ultimate" Marvel universe late in the game. I feel fortunate that I can catch-up on what I've missed through trade paperbacks. Had I known that this series was going to be as good as this singular trade was, I would have collected the entire series from the start.

Mark Millar and Geoff Johns have taken the classic X-Men, and retooled them for the next generation (no pun intended) by putting the young team in the modern era with modern problems. As much as I'm a fan of the original team of X-Men, plus several of their various off-shoots (X-Force & X-Factor), I have now become a fan of this re-imagined team of mutant superheroes.

We start with Jean working to recruit new members to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. The line-up for recruitment include Henry "Hank" McCoy, Piotr "Peter" Rasputin, Robert "Bobby" Drake and Ororo Munroe... better known as Beast, Colossus, Iceman and Storm. They soon receive help from a curious source who is only known as Wolverine. What they don't know at first is that Wolverine was actually sent to kill Xavier. Do you think he gets the job done?

The major problem for the young team of mutants at the beginning of this trade is the government and their Sentinel project. The classic X-enemies are brought to the 21st century, and they have superior mutant detecting capabilities. It takes an abduction, rescue and then saving the president and Washington D.C. to finally put a halt to the robotic army... but at what cost?

Once they've dealt with the Sentinels, the next roadblock is from a little known agency, funded by the government, called Weapon X. They've abducted mutants from all over the world and "trained" them to work for them. Their "training" consisting of torture, abuse, threats and explosive devices attached to their heads. They even take the whole team and bend them to their ways. Imagine the X-Men as members of Weapon X. Guess who comes to save the day?

With great writing and the excellent artistic skills of the Kubert brothers, this trade is well worth adding to your collection. I'm looking forward to picking-up volume 2. They have me hooked, and I know that down the line Brian Michael Bendis takes-up the writing mantle for this title.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kick Ass

Title: Kick Ass

ISBN: 9780785134350
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2010
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Writer: Mark Millar
Collects: Kick Ass #1-8

Rating: 4/5
I had to read this trade after watching the movie. The movie was LMAO funny, and Millar & Romita Jr. didn't disappoint as a follow-up. I think it would be equally received if you had read this prior to watching the movie.
The entire premise of this trade: What if regular people became superheroes? Dave "Kick Ass" Lizewski is your average teenager with normal teenage problems. To spice-up his life, he decides to become a real life superhero like from one of his comic books. His first attempt at crime fighting, epic failure as he's beaten, stabbed and left for dead after being hit by a car. Does that really stop him? The trade and movie would both be very boring if it had.
Being in an published, illustrated format, the trade had a lot more blood and profanity to offer than the movie could. I'm sure that if the movie had as much gore, sex and cursing as this trade does, they would probably have received an NC-17 rating. Thank goodness that the screenplay made it to the big screen or many of us would have missed this entirely.
From kids playing dress-up superhero, to a guy who uses his comic book collection to give his little girl a fun life, this trade has everything you want. I hear that there have now been some talks about making a sequel: "Kick Ass 2: Balls to the Wall". I hope it doesn't get screwed-up like so many sequels have. Keep your principle actors, and don't make the script too outlandish so that fans of the original will still love you for what you're doing.

This trade doesn't have nearly the "happy" ending that the movie does, but it's still a great read. Millar knows how to spin a tale, and JR, Jr's art is a fine compliment to it. Add this one to your collection, and look forward to a companion in the coming years.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

G.I. Joe: Special Missions Volume 1

Title: G.I. Joe: Special Missions Volume 1

ISBN: 9781600106767
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Herb Trimpe
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: Special Missions #1-7

Rating: 3.5/5

In the introduction for this trade, Mark Bellomo (assistant editor) writes about the reasons for Marvel deciding to publish a new G.I. Joe series. G.I. Joe was hugely popular at the time, with a successful cartoon/comic book series and toy line, Marvel and Hasbro decided that Larry Hama  could work on something that wasn't primarily driven by the sales market.

These missions are "so secret, so sensitive that even the Joes who go on them are told only the bare minimum, on a strictly need-to-know basis." Many of these missions weren't Cobra centric, they were based in "real world" issues such as hi-jacked planes, terrorist plots and cold war politics. The stories can still be a little outlandish, but more realistic. People actually die in this series. This is still very tame in comparison to what gets published these days.

I remember when this series original came out in the 80's. I even had a subscription for a short time. I recall not being too enthralled by this series. Possibly because as a child I preferred the "glitz and glamor" of seeing new toys and figures that the original ongoing series provided. I was a slave of the Marvel/Hasbro brainwashing as I not only followed the comic series, but also the cartoon and toy line.

As stated in my previous reviews, Larry Hama has a great talent for writing. I enjoy how he captures each individuals personalities in the dialogue. It does help that Hama has the support of some very talented artists to illustrate his work. Herb Trimpe gets the job done for him in this series. Now, as an adult, I can appreciate these stories a little better and I look forward to the next volume. Thank you again IDW for reprinting the classic G.I. Joe series.

Add this to your collection and keep your eyes out for the next volume.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tales from Wonderland Volume 1

Title: Tales from Wonderland Volume 1

ISBN: 9780981755038
Price: $12.99
Publisher/Year: Zenescope Entertainment, 2009
Artist: Richard Bonk, Talent Caldwell, Michael De Lepine, Joe Dodd, Victor Drujiniu, Alejandro Garza, Garry Henderson, Daniel Leister, David Nakayama, Jim Reddington, Nei Ruffino, Kevin Senft
Writer: Raven Gregory, Ralph Tedesco
Collects: Tales from Wonderland Shorts, Beyond Wonderland #0-1

Rating: 1/5

The cover draws you in. The writing lets you down. This trade was a huge letdown. The only reason I believe this trade was published is to let some talented artists to draw women in peril with large breasts, and throw in some blood and gore to help bring in the horror fans.

I wanted this trade to be good. I even purchased the companion volume (Grimm Fairy Tales: Beyond Wonderland) so I could become a fan and have some good reading. No such luck. If you were hoping for something similar to the recent Disney/Tim Burton film, you will be sorely disappointed like myself. I feel they Zenescope may have spent the majority of their budget for this trade on the cover art to lure people in.

This is not a re-imagining of the classic Lewis Carroll tale, this is a sick and twisted tale that I feel only a few people would actually enjoy. I'll be honest, because the art and story could not keep my attention, I could not finish this trade. I doubt I will ever revisit this book ever, and it is unlikely that I will ever crack open Beyond Wonderland.

The only reason I even rate it a 1/5 instead of 0.5 or 0 is because I do appreciate the cover gallery. If the interior artists were as talented as the cover artists were (or if they kept the same consistency from cover to interiors), I may have been able to make it to the end and possibly give it a 2/5 rating.

To sum it all up.... don't bother purchasing this trade. It's not worth your time or your hard earned money. Go spend your money on something that will do you some good, like bottled water or canned air.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dark X-Men

Title: Dark X-Men

ISBN: 9780785145264
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2010
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Writer: Paul Cornell
Collects: Dark X-Men #1-5

Rating: 3.5/5

Norman Osborn has created a set of Avengers, it's an evolutionary step to create his own team of X-Men as well. What a hodgepodge group of mutants. Led by Mystique, you have Dark Beast (a reject from the Age of Apocalypse storyline), Mimic (a throwback to the X-Men from many years ago) and Weapon Omega (the necessary Canadian element on any mutant team).

This storyline begins when a group of regular humans start walking around in a trance all saying "I am an X-Man." Odd behavior, and with the recent mutant issues, of course Osborn send his X-Men to investigate. They find out that it happens to be Nate Grey (also another reject from the Age of Apocalypse), who had been once believed to be dead. He's stuck in a pure energy form and has been trying to pull himself back together. The X-Men find out about Nate when they find another project Osborn has put together, combining several psychic's to form one cohesive unit.

When recent events come to Nate's attention (specifically Civil War, Secret Invasion as well as Dark Reign), he is very upset and plans to do something about it. Enter the Dark Avengers to help take him down a peg for Osborn's plan to use Nate to power the Omega Machine. Unfortunately, Nate has other plans that don't involve him being held prisoner. To prevent this from happening, Nate goes somewhere I think nobody would ever intentionally want to go; Norman Osborn's mind.

With Nate taking control of Norman's body, it's Mystique and the rest of the X-Men to save the day... by being projected into Osborn's mind. Do you think that Norman and the Green Goblin can overpower Nate Grey? Will Norman or the X-Men be the same after this encounter in Osborn's mind?

Interesting storyline and pretty good art help keep your attention in this trade. I don't think it adds much to the Dark Reign storyline, but it's a good read. What's going to happen to this team of X-Men after Norman's been brought down? I hope to find out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Azrael: Death's Dark Knight

Title: Azrael: Death's Dark Knight

ISBN: 9781401227074
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: DC, 2009
Artist: Frazer Irving, J. Calafiore, Tom Mandrake, Mark McKenna
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Collects: Azrael: Death's Dark Knight #1-3, Batman Annual #27, Detective Comics Annual #11

Rating: 3.5/5
I became a fan of the original Azrael, Jean-Paul Valley, while I was sucked into the Batman world when Bruce Wayne was getting his back broken by Bane. One I got a glimpse of who Jean-Paul/Azrael was in the Knightfall storyline, I wanted more. That's when I decided to pick-up the Sword of Azrael trade and read more. Thank you to Joe Quesada and Dennis O'Neal for creating such an interesting character.

At the time of this trade, Jean-Paul has been dead for several years, and Azrael has been dormant. With Batman presumably out of the picture, the Order of Purity decides to find a new Azrael to help bring Gotham back from the brink. They find their man in the form of an ex-cop who was being groomed as a replacement to Batman for just such a day. With the Suit of Sorrows and the Sword of Sin, Michael Washington Lane becomes the latest incarnation of Azrael and he proclaims himself "The Dark Knight of God".

I've always loved Fabian Nicieza's writing from the first time I read his work on X-Force. I actually had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Nicieza many years ago when he came to the Portland Comic Book Show; really nice and fairly laid back. Those were the days when the autograph's were $0.25 each and that would go to some wonderful charity. They also had big names like Nicieza and John Romita Jr. attending for the cause. Wish they would go back to that.

The art in the first part of this trade isn't the greatest. It's not incredibly horrible; I just like the art from the annuals rather than the actual series. Sorry to Frazer Irving, but I don't like your artistic style. If it weren't for Nicieza's writing, I probably would have put this trade down and not picked it back up.

This is a good tie-in with the Battle for the Cowl storyline, and I would recommend it for any Bat-fan and especially for those Azrael fan's out there.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 6

Title: Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 6

ISBN: 9781600105456
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Rob Whigam, Ron Wagner, Todd McFarlane
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #51-60

Rating: 4/5

We begin this trade in the aftermath of the attack on Springfield. The Dreadnoks have made a run for the swamp, and they've stumbled upon Zartan's brother and sister. A family of shapeshifters, masters of disguise and thieves... what could be better? The entire lot of them break Zartan out of the Pit from underneath the noses of the Joes, including the latest addition; Sgt. Slaughter.

What is Cobra Commander going to do with the newly anointed savior of Cobra, Serpentor? He's bringing the entire population of Springfield to Cobra Island, and the Commander is none too happy. Even before Serpentor touches down on the island, Cobra Commander is plotting his destruction. It's a good thing that Serpentor is a few steps ahead of the Commander and seems to be able to out think him.

We also find the invasion and destruction of the Pit by Cobra. They send an entire army of Battle Android Troopers (B.A.T.s) down the main elevator shaft to begin the assault. The funny thing is that the entire G.I. Joe team has been suspended and forced to leave the Pit. The only people that are down there during the attack by Cobra are Hawk and the council from the Pentagon that oversee the operation of G.I. Joe. They manage to hold them off until they are able to bring the entire pit down on the Cobra force, which happen to include Cobra Commander and Destro.

We find out that it takes more than a large underground building falling on top of them to kill Cobra Commander and Destro.Cobra Commander ends up finding a comatose Billy and takes him to Denver to get help, while Destro goes home and finds that an impostor has been working to acquire the secret plans for Cobra's Terror Drome.With all the people that Cobra has available to disguise themselves as Destro, you'll never guess who actually was picked to wear the beryllium steel mask of the McCullen family. Cobra Commander also receives a new look in the form of his battle armor, built by Fred VII of the Crimson Guard.

A great continuation of the old Marvel series, this is a must own for the collection. When the original series was being published, I had a subscription. I still have those issues in my collection and I'm working on completing the entire Marvel series. I'm happy that IDW has asked Larry Hama to write the continuation of the original series. I was very happy when I saw that they were offering G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #155 1/2 for Free Comic Book Day 2010. Since that day, I have added the title to my subscription list at my LCS; Tony's Kingdom of Comics.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 5

Title: Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 5

ISBN: 9781600105197
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Rob Whigam
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #41-50

Rating: 4/5

These are the issues that started it all off for me. One day, when I was sick as a child, I asked my father if he could pick up the latest MAD magazine for me to read. Upon returning from the store, he told me that they didn't have any copies of MAD, but he did buy me a copy of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #50 from Marvel Comics. Thus began my obsession with collecting comic books.

In this particular trade, we begin with the aftermath from volume 4... namely the creation of Cobra Island. Obviously, this creates several problems for the Joes. The biggest issue with Cobra Island is the fact that they become a "legitimate" sovereign land off the coast of the United States. Imagine, a huge island off of the southern coast of the USA that houses some of the world's most terrible terrorists. You can tell that these were written during the Cold War era.

Throughout this trade, we find stories that include-
  • Billy leaving Storm Shadow to go seek out his revenge.
  • The Soft Master coming to Springfield to find out if Cobra has files on who really killed the Hard Master.
  • One of the many Crimson Guardsmen known as "Fred" attempting to take revenge of a Snake Eyes and Stalker.
  • Buzzer making his way back to Springfield with the location of G.I. Joe headquarters.
The final two main stories that complete this trade involve Rip Cord dropping in on Cobra Island to find out if his girlfriend Candy is really a Cobra agent or not, and the creation of Serpentor. We close this trade with the attack of the entire G.I. Joe team on Springfield; "A Nice Little Town". This creates some headaches for the Joes in the next volume. I suggest you read on to find out more.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 4

Title: Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 4

ISBN: 9781600104626
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Rob Whigam, Frank Springer, Mark Bright, Bob Camp, Larry Hama
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #31-40

Rating: 4/5
In the continuing saga that is G.I. Joe, we find Snake Eyes going back to his cabin deep in the woods, and Cobra comes to destry his serenity in the form of Firefly, Destro and Crimson Guardsman Fred Broca. It's a good thing that Hawk decided to sen Airborne and Spirit to keep an eye on Snake. And we see the return of the Soft Master, but why?
Another storyline in this trade finds the Baroness and Major Bludd training Billy to assassinate Cobra Commander during a huge rally in Springfield. What's their motivation and why use Billy? We find out the reason for using Billy later in the trade.
What happens when Dreadnoks get bored? We find the answer in here as Buzzer decides to take Zartan's motorcycle for a little spin. They also cause quite a bit of mayhem. I think the mass quantities of grape soda and chocolate doughnuts facilitate their ADHD.
We are also treated to the first appearance of brothers Tomax and Xamot. To be a little nitpicky, the cover shows one of the twins with the scar on his right cheek, but the scar is supposed to be on the left. I guess J. Scott Campbell (the cover artist) wasn't a G.I. Joe fan. These twins are a great addition to the Cobra organization. I remember in the cartoon series that they were the head of Extensive Enterprises, one of the legitimate faces of Cobra. Here, they are in charge of the Crimson Guard.
At the end of this trade, we find the Joe team in a precarious position that leads into events that span into volume 5. Did the Real American Heroes get duped by Cobra? Guess you'll have to read this trade and volume 5 to find out. Add this to your collection if you don't already have it.

G.I. Joe Vol. 3

Title: G.I. Joe Vol. 3

ISBN: 0785109307
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2002
Artist: Mike Vosburg, Steve Leialoha, Russ Heath, Frank Springer, Marie Severin, Jon D'Agnostino, John Tartaglione, Mike Gustovich, Andy Mushynsky, Pat Redding, Larry Hama
Writer: Larry Hama
Collects: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #21-30

Rating: 4/5
Yet another throwback to my childhood, this is actually one of the few original Marvel trades from the G.I. Joe line that I have acquired since IDW took over. The real difference is that at the end of each issue, they've reprinted a page from the G.I. Joe: Order of Battle series depicting a character's dossier.

This trade starts off with the famous "Silent Issue". Arguably the greatest Joe story ever told. Written and drawn by Larry Hama, but without a word in it. Various comic book writers have said that they received inspiration from this issue. It is this issue where we first meet Storm Shadow and get the foreshadowing of his relation to Snake Eyes.

This trade also features the introduction of Zartan and the Dreadnoks. One of my favorite action figures from the G.I. Joe line was Zartan, with his color changing skin and his "master of disguise" mask. The Dreadnoks have got to be the most disorderly bunch or guys you will ever meet. With their fondness of grape soda and chocolate doughnuts, I'm surprised they have most of their teeth.

We also have the first telling of Snake Eyes origins in this trade. Any fan of Snake Eyes should include this into their collection. Any fan of G.I. Joe will already have this trade in theirs. I had a hard time putting this particular trade down. Once I came close to the end of this trade, I had to go online and find volume 4.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spike: After the Fall

Title: Spike: After the Fall

ISBN: 9781600103681
Price: $21.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2009
Artist: Frank Urru
Writer: Brian Lynch

Collects: Spike: After the Fall #1-4

Rating: 3/5

Those of you who have been following/reading my reviews have already seen those that I've posted for Angel: After the Fall series. Now it's time to see what happened with our bloody British friend, Spike. Just as with the Angel series, this starts off soon after L.A. went to hell and Spike has gone his seperate road from Angel.

Our hero gains a following on humans that have been able to survive the onslaught of being sent to Hell. In true Spike fashion, he can't get the name of his closest follower right. This makes for a few laughs throughout this trade. In no time, Spike is taken prisoner by one of the self proclaimed lords of Los Angeles named Non. He also manages to get Illyria/Fred captured as well as she's having a hard time focusing between God and human. After being tortured by demons and working hard to make Illyria stable, Spike becomes the new lord of of Beverly Hills with the help of Connor.

There's not much to say about the story for this trade. It's a good read with comperable artwork, and it ties in perfectly for when they introduce Spike and Illyria in the Angel series. Nice addition to the collection and to the Angel series. You could read this before the Angel trades or after, works well either way.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Grendel: Red, White, & Black

Title: Grendel: Red, White, & Black
ISBN: 1593072015
Price: $19.95
Publisher/Year: Dark Horse, 2005
Artist: Matt Wagner, Jill Thompson, Cliff Chaing, Andy Kuhn, Mike Hawthorne, Tom Fowler, Andi Watson, Jim Mahfood, Kelley Jones, Phil Hester, Michael Avon Oeming, Farel Dalrymple, Stan Sakai, Zander Cannon, Mike Huddleston, Darick Robertson, John K. Snyder III, Phil Noto, Dan Brereton, Michael Zulli, Ashley Wood.
Writer: Matt Wanger

Collects: Grendel: Red, White, & Black #1-4, Decade: A Dark Horse Short Story Collection, Dark Horse Extra #49-50, Dark Horse Maverick 2001.

Rating: 3/5

I've been a fan of Matt Wanger for many years, being drawn to him initially because of Grendel. I just love the concept and the costume design. I know that when Wagner originally published Grendel with Comico, they were very low budget and only printed color on their covers. I'm not sure if this was the reason behind the simple colors for Grendel's costume, but it works very well. The cover of this trade is one of my favorite pictures of Hunter Rose as Grendel. The red of the roses and blood exemplify the simple black & white of the mask and tuxedo.

I remember actually having the fortune of meeting with Matt Wagner at one of the Portland Comic Book shows in Oregon many years ago; mid to late 90's. Much like every artist/writer I've ever spoken to, Wagner seemed like a very down-to-earth kind of guy. He knew that the multitudes of fanboys that were in line waiting to get his autograph on the many comic books they brought from far-and-wide, he didn't let that get to his head. We spoke about Grendel, his future work and (of course) I gushed a bit about being a fan of his.

This trade is a several stories written by Wagner and illustrated by various people. There are a few pieces that I feel the art could have been better to help the story. The different styles of art sometimes made it hard to stay interested in the story. I do enjoy that throughout the trade, red was used as an accent color to emphasize the black and white art. I prefered the more "traditional" art styles as opposed to the divergent styles depicted in the stories "Devil's Dash", "Devil's Karma" and "Devilish Escapades".

If you're not familiar with Grendel, I would suggest finding another trade to start with. This is a good book for someone who is a fan or just has a passing familiarity with the character.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Angel: Last Angel in Hell Volume 6

Title: Angel: Last Angel in Hell Volume 6

ISBN: 9781600107320
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Franco Urru, Stephen Mooney
Writer: Brian Lynch, Juliet Landau
Collects: Angel #23-27, Angel: Last Angel in Hell Annual

Rating: 3/5
We begin this trade with Gunn as he's still in a coma from the battle that ended season 5. There are several demons that would like to lay claim on killing him, but Illyria won't have it. She's having a bit of a crisis herself as she's struggling with the memories from Wesley and Spike of Fred and her newfound humanity.

After that brief interlude, we have a short arc revolving around Drusilla and actually written by actress Juliet Landau. Drusilla was always one of my favorite vampire characters while watching both Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel, so this was a real treat for me. Some of the covers from the actual series that are in the gallery at the end of this trade are really great to look at. I'm thinking about picking up the 2 Frank Urru covers of Drusilla in her padded cell. The story gives you a good sense of what Dru is going through after her last appearance on TV. As you can probably guess by the clue I threw at you, she's been locked-up in a mental hospital to get help. Something tells me that she doesn't get the help the doctor's were expecting to provide.

The bulk of this trade revoles around the "Last Angel in Hell" storyline, which just so happens to be the title for the movie based on the quasi experiences of our heroes as L.A. went to hell and back. The first part is actually a throwback to an old episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer where people in costume become what they are costumed as. This is especially funny because the setting for this dibacle is a comic-con sytle event where so many people are in cosplay. And what happens when Spike is caught in the spell while he's costumed as Angel?

The tail end of this trade is the actual "movie" adaptation of "Last Angel in Hell". You get a fairly good idea of who the stars in this movie are supposed to be. Angel is portraited by Nicholas Cage and Jorge Garcia as Gunn. I can't quite figure out who plays the other characters, but in the adaptation Spike is female and in love with Angel. Pretty funny and campy, but worth the read.

Add this one to your collection.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Angel: Aftermath Volume 5

Title: Angel: Aftermath Volume 5

ISBN: 9781600105166
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2009
Artist: Dave Ross, Stefano Martino
Writer: Kelley Armstrong
Collects: Angel #18-21

Rating: 3/5

Los Angeles is back from Hell. Angel has a new team starting with a friend from the past. Everyone else seems to have gone their own ways. Gunn is in the hospital. Wesley is still dead. Lorne is watching over Gunn. Spike is gone and being Spike. And Illyria is watching over the comatose Gunn to make sure he doesn't get killed. Sounds like a typical Angel scenario, doesn't it?

This is not the old Angel Investigations. Not by a long shot.

Angel is the savior of L.A. and has a hard time finding serious work, at first. Then, along comes a pair from the government who offer Angel a contract to lead a "committee to handle the apocalyptic fall-out". The apocalypse may have been averted, but everyone still remembers what happened while L.A. was in Hell. Another fun fact is that Wolfram & Hart are no longer in L.A., and apparently never have been.

And then along came James and Desdemona. One is an actual angel trapped on Earth trying to find his brothers and figure out why they can't return to Heaven. Desdemona (Dez) is a jaguar that was turned human that is trying to revert other animals-turned-people back to their normal selves, though she's struggling to keep herself from going back to her native form.

It's one thing when Angel and company were going up against demons, but here they are going up against angels; a little too much for my taste. I feel that they're really working hard to find storylines for this series, and it's going downhill rapidly. The art is consistent throughout, which helps keep some interest in this trade. The best part would have to be the cover gallery at the end.

If you're a fan of this series, you may not like the direction this is taking.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Kudos to Dark Horse!

Dark Horse Comics

Recently, I purchased the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed trade from my local Borders. When I got home and went to open it, the cover separated from the spine of the book. This has happened to me once before when I bought one of the Star Wars: Infinities trades, also published by Dark Horse.

As before, I jumped onto their website and sent an email regarding the binding problem and offered to send pictures as proof. I didn't hear anything for several days, so I simply assumed that my email was either lost or discarded.

Just as I was about to lose hope, I received an email from Melissa Richardson, Publicity Coordinator for Dark Horse Comics. She writes, in part "I am so sorry about the faulty binding and would be happy to replace it for you." Melissa asked for my shipping address and asked if there were any other problems that she could take care of. This email from Melissa was received on Thursday, July 29, 2010. I responded with my information as soon as I could. It is now Friday, June 30, 2010 and I have a new copy of the trade!

I would like to commend Dark Horse and specifically Melissa for handling this issue. I would hope that Dark Horse's binding practices are reviewed so that something like this doesn't happen again. I tried to glue the cover back to the spine, but the glue would just not take. I know that there are special book glues that I could try, but with a speedy recovery from the publisher, I don't have to take that route.

Thank you Dark Horse and Melissa Richardson. You have kept another customer in me.