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.