Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuvok Is Not Interested...

... in your excuses for not blogging.

Monday, November 29, 2010

About Last Week...

Things have been pretty crazy at El Casa Del Jacone the last week.  I moved to a new position at work and thus did not have my computer all week.  This was coupled with getting a new HVAC unit installed at the house, plus Turkey Day, Black Friday, Xmas decorating and watching the Panthers blow it -- it's a wonder I am here at all.  I am going to try to get back on track with some posts for all of my loyal readers out there, so keep watching this space.

Thanks and I hope everyone had a good American Thanksgiving holiday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eclipso's Back!

Eclipso, the Lord of Darkness and Corruption, is back in Justice League of America #54, written by James Robinson and Brett Booth, who also handled this sweet cover.  Considering the knockdown, drag-out that Eclipso and Spectre had the last time, this should be something to see.

Justice League of America #54 is due in February of 2011.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Vault Of Startling Monster Horror Tales Of Terror Episode 4: In The Mouth Of Madness!

Hey there boils and ghouls!  Lived any good books lately?  Then check out episode 4 of The Vault Of Startling Monster Horror Tales Of Terror, where yours truly sits down with Chris Honeywell to discuss the last film of John Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy, In The Mouth of Madness!  But remember: Reality isn't what it used to be!

Some of you may be asking, what happened to episode 3?  Uh, well, I forgot to post a link!  But if you want to hear our SUPER SPOOKY Halloween Special, despite it being a week from Thanksgiving, you can check it out here!

What Looks Good?

Wow, is it really more than halfway through November?  How is that possible?!  Yeesh!

Brightest Day #14 -- According to Newsarama, no one cares about the Hawks' story, but I do, dang it!

Flash #6 -- The delayed finale finally bows.  What is the Renegades true plan?

Superman #705 -- Superman continues his journey, even though we now know JMS is not going to be handling the entire trip.

Tiny Titans #34 -- Everybody loves the Tiny Titans!  A heck of a lot more than the actual Titans.

Iron Man: Rapture #2 -- Marvel knows how to get my money: more Iron Man!

Darkwing Duck #6 -- I am so far behind on this series it's not even funny.

Honey West #2 -- Been looking forward to the second part of this swinging mystery for months!

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Unbridled Capitalism: Mr. K's for November

Made my way down to Mister K's yesterday for my monthly coupon visit, and snagged a couple of volumes I have been eyeing for a while.

Jack Kirby's Mister Miracle & Jack Kirby's Fourth World Featuring Mister Miracle -- I already have the Forever People volume in this style, which is a grey tone black and white.  Would I have preferred to have these in color?  Yes, but you can't beat the price, and as much as I dig Showcases and Essentials, I am on board with the black and white format.  Really, if I want color reference I can look it up.  If I could just find the New Gods volume I would have the entire set.

Of all of the New Gods, I think Mister Miracle has arguably enjoyed the most success, and I attribute this to his relatability.  All of the New Gods are pretty unique, but I think that most comic book readers can grasp the concept of an escape artist who can always find a way out of a trap.  Considering the villain deathtrap trope which used to be so prevalent in the 4 color world, this character concept makes perfect sense.  Couple this with his very memorable costume and you have a recipe for a character who will stick in people's minds.

On the non-comic front, I also picked up the second Star Trek: Titan novel, The Red King.  I just finished the first installment in the series, Taking Wing, last night, and now I am on the hunt for more.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What I Read This Week

A few months ago, I picked up 99.44% of the epic Superman "New Krypton" story off of The Ebay, and have been working my way through it.  

Supergirl #50 -- An oversized anniversary issue, this is a sort of "done in one" which resolves a long running subplot while redirecting a previous major plot.  Lana Lang's mystery ailment is revealed to be an infection transforming her into the Insect Queen!  Supergirl from the New Krypton era is a fabulous book.  I have never had any interest in Kara in any form until I read this run.  My main complaint about this issue is that this Insect Queen hisses with a running "sss" instead of buzzing with "zzz" like Kurt Busiek wrote her.  And if that is what you have to complain about, you know you have a good comic.

Superman #697 -- In the wake of the attack on Science Police HQ, a vast conspiracy around Mon-El stands revealed!  Who has been keeping a watchful eye on our favorite Daxamite and what is their true motives?  To be continued over in Adventure Comics!  Superman has stood out to me during my New Krypton readings, and this issue continues that trend.  I just dig Robinson's take on Mon-El, Steel, Guardian, and the rest.  The main sticking point for me in this issue is that I don't know much of anything about the Legion of Superheroes so the reveals are somewhat less impactful for me.  Still a strong issue for sure.

Hawkman v.2:no.1 -- Please head over to Being Carter Hall to see the review.

So, what did YOU read this week?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

King Kull Will STILL Mess You Up Something Fierce

I feel once again the need to point out that Kull, Exile of Atlantis and barbarian King of ancient Valusia, will kick you rear so hard that your yet-to-be-born grandchildren will feel it, as seen in this cover to Kull: The Hate Witch #4 by Tom Fleming.

Kull: The Hate Witch starts this month from Dark Horse.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thought Of The Day

"Comic books are real.  People are fake."

-- Luke, with thanks to Mr. Anderson (...Anderson!)

What Looks Good?

We're officially in the official holiday season... officially!  So it's time to check out some possible gift ideas for the nerd on your shopping list!

The Mighty Crusaders #5 -- I'm so eager to see what happens in this book, it's actually driving me crazy.

Superman vs Muhammed Ali HC -- I'm sorry, but this is so classic.

Tiny Titans/Little Archie #2 -- What adventures await our pint-sized protagonists?!

Iron Man: Rapture #1 -- Iron Man miniserieses.  Marvel knows how to get my money.

Darkwing Duck v.1: The Duck Knight Returns -- I suppose I should have just gotten this instead of bothering with the single issues.

glamourpuss #16 -- In case you haven't logged onto Faceitbook lately, you should know that glamourpuss is still awesome.

Zeroids #2 -- Never got the first issue so this should be interesting!

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I Read This Week

Excalibur #65-67 -- Long-time readers may recall that I used to do a segment on the blog entitled "Not Blog Ex," a play on G. Kendall's NOT BLOG X, wherein I looked at the classic Excalibur issues which I hold so dear.  Well, that feature eventually sort of fell by the wayside, but I still had the remaining issues I wanted to do sitting on my night stand, so there you go.

These are the last three issues of Excalibur featuring Alan Davis on both words and art, and they effectively tie up all of the loose ends and story threads from the Claremont/Davis era of "classic" Excalibur.  In the build up to the big X-Men crossover Fatal Attractions, Excalibur was brought "into the fold" a bit more, becoming seemingly synonymous with the other X-titles being published at the time.  And, as such, the quality (and my interest) waned pretty quickly.

#65, "White Lies, Dark Truths" wraps up the RCX/Warpie storyline which had been carrying on for a few issues, with the team trapped in the headquarters of the mysterious organization.  In the end it leads mostly to a series of fights, but we get some nice character moments in there as well, such as Kurt tricking his guards to leave him and Cerise alone by faking a bout of flaring passion, or Brian getting repeatedly beaten down by a Warpie only to continue getting back up.  The Warpie story goes back all the way to the original British Captain Britain strip, so some elements of this story are somewhat confusing if you don't know them.  But it remains a nice little showcase for Davis.

The next two issues comprise one of the most underrated X-Men stories of the 1990s, Days Of Future Yet To Come.  The first installment also has one of my absolute favorite covers of all time, as well.  Our story opens in the Days Of Futures Past timeline, where the mutant Kitty Pryde is being experimented on after being captured.  While Houndmaster Ahab and Master Mold's scientists examine her mind, Kitty phases through the machinery, causing a bizarre reaction, and throwing the now machine-like Kitty through time.  In the present, Phoenix is called back to her own time, taking Excalibur with her.  In the wasteland of the future, the team hooks up with the remaining resistance (consisting primarily of Marvel UH characters, appropriately) and leads the fight to overthrow the rule of the Sentinels.

I absolutely love this story.  The first mystery from the first page of the first Excalibur special is finally revealed (the identity of Widget), the long-running saga of Phoenix-Rachel gets an appropriate blowoff, and Excalibur as a crew take care of business in truly epic, fist-pumping manner.  Everything is resolved and we get a perfect last page sign off to the series.  Davis is on his game here, and even the varied and unusual UK characters are handled deftly.  And it goes without saying that his renditions of the Excalibur members are dead on.  Of course, the end of this story didn't really stick, and the series itself would take a sharp left-turn to crap the very next issue.  But that doesn't take anything away from my enjoyment of these issues.  It was really great to read them again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fair Trade -- Justice League Of America: When Worlds Collide

DC's relaunched Justice League of America from a few years back is an odd book.  For a book which was supposed to be the "centerpiece" of the DCU, it sure ran off in a lot of weird tangents under Brad Metzler and then under Dwayne McDuffie.  How much of this was due to editorial changes beyond the writers' control I am not privy to.  But it made for unusual reading.  It also brought us stories which we would not have gotten had it been a more typical sort of slugfest title.  The story contained in this volume, collecting JLoA v.2:no.27-28, 30-34, is one such story.

Our tale begins shortly after the Final Crisis, with the mysterious Shadow Cabinet slipping into the Satellite in order to steal the waxy remains of the evil Doctor Light.  When they are discovered, a huge brawl breaks out between the two teams, with the alien powerhouse Icon being more than a match for Superman.  But why are they stealing Light's remains?  What does this have to do with the Dr. Kimiyo Hoshi, the heroic Dr. Light?  And how will this encounter, coupled with the splinter faction lead by Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen, impact the League?

One of the elements which McDuffie brought to the title under his watch was that while there were longer storyarcs, they were not completely devoid of connective tissue both fore and aft.  Case in point, this volume not only brings back a character from a previous arc, it also heavily reference both Final Crisis and Cry For Justice. It makes for an strange reading experience if you are reading the volume independently, as I was.  It's not bad, as it reminds me of the kinds of comics I cut my teeth on, but it's a change of pace which not everyone will appreciate.  For me, it made me want to find out more about what I didn't understand.  Other readers will just be turned off.  

Now, the reason I was reading this volume on its own is the guest stars: The Shadow Cabinet, from the dearly-departed Milestone Comics.  Icon, Hardware, Donner, Blitzen, Iron Butterfly, Iota, and the rest are just great characters, and seeing them fully integrated into the DCU as a whole makes me happy.  And the fact that Milestone head honcho McDuffie gets to handle them makes their personalities come through spot-on.  When Icon calmly tells Superman that his word should be enough to gain Big Blue's trust, or when Hardware refers to Vixen as "the future Mrs. Hardware," they sound perfect because no one knows these characters better at this point.

Fist pumping moments abound.  Icon informs Green Lantern Jon Stewart that as a member of the Collective, he is not bound by the laws of the Guardians; Stewart shoots right back saying that he's still on Guardian turf.  Dr. Light and Firestorm have two brutal encounters with the Shadow-Thief (yes, really), and Hawkman makes a smashing appearance as well.

The art is unfortunately inconsistent, with no fewer than 6 pencilers credited.  There's some solid artists in there -- Ed Benes, Jose Luis, Rags Morales -- but their styles clash with each other as we move from chapter to chapter.  Still, the work as a whole is dynamic and professional, and there was not any one artist who work was glaring bad, so I let that pass.  

This story did what it set out to accomplish: introduce the Milestone characters for a new set of readers, incorporate them into the DCU at large, and set the stage for the next storyline, all the while delivering the action and goods for monthly readers.  I would have liked this better in monthly installments, but you can always read your trades in issue-sized chunks.  In the end, this made me move my Icon collection up a few slots on the "To Read" pile, and made me want seek out more classic Hardware and Shadow Cabinet comics.  So, to that end, Mr. McDuffie -- good job.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Looks Good?

Just because I am not buying comics at the shop anymore doesn't mean that I can't tell all of you folks what looks good!

Brightest Day #13 -- The Hawks are in the spotlight again (finally)!

Doom Patrol #16 -- The Chief is gone... where does the team go from here?

Iron Man: Legacy #8 -- Stuck on the Left Coast with a makeshift armor, Tony is in real trouble.

Iron Man/Thor #1 -- Moneymaker, meet cash cow.  Cash cow, meet moneymaker.

Namor #3 -- New Atlantis has only been "New Atlantis" for a week and already it's under siege!  Yikes!

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Critical Commentary: 9/11 Heartbreaker

Recently, I was contacted here on the blog by one Craig Staufenberg, creator of the comic 9/11 Heartbreaker, to offer a review of his project.  This came as a surprise to me, as I had never been contacted in that way previously.  So, with a little apprehension I contacted Mr. Staufenberg and received my review copy of 9/11 Heartbreaker.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but with that title, I was fearing something which 1) I would not enjoy and 2) would ruin any further chances of this sort of opportunity for me in the future.

I think pretty much all Americans have some semblance of a political identity.  It's rare to be truly apathetic.  I am no exception.  But I try to keep my politics out of comics as much as possible if only because I read comics for fun and enjoyment, and not for more of the same garbage we get in the real world.  

I was born and raised in New York.  9/11 was an insane day for me personally.  I read a statistic somewhere that every New Yorker knows or knew someone who was impacted by 9/11.  I know I do.  So the use of 9/11 in media is sore spot for me, actively gets me hot and riled, and often either causes me to lose my temper or become very upset.  This was the case back in September with the Sgt. Rock one-shot DC published.  So I was needless to say a little concerned about reading a comic entitled 9/11 Heartbreaker.

It turns out that my concerns and prejudices were unfounded.  Staufenberg has created a story which, though ostensibly drenched in politics, is in fact divorced from them.  This is a story about the personal meaning of tragedy, of loss, and of the memories and emotional resonance of those losses.  Our story follows a young woman who meets a man named Peter.  Peter runs a website which records and documents the memories of young people of 9/11.  This chance meeting sends her on a journey of discovery and introspection, wherein she has to examine the nature of not only 9/11, but of the darkness and decay around us on a daily basis, and the losses we feel and how we cope with them.

I don't think this can be called anything but a tragedy.  This is a tragic story which deals with tragic events.  There are certain elements which offer moments of uplift, but in the end, this is a downbeat story.  As well it probably should be.  There's nothing wrong with tragedy, the artistic sense anyway.  Staufenberg avoids the romantic cliche trap, and instead presents something substantially more realistic.  Our narrator is unsure of her feelings in the face of her vague memories of 9/11, so she goes out and finds other feelings to examine.  Considering the short length, the story makes several turns and feels deep for it's page count.  I'd really like to see this expanded out to full length.

The art is on the simplistic side but suitable to the work.  This isn't trying to wow you with visuals.  I was very impressed with the rendering of various landmarks in and around Buffalo which crop up in the second half.  The art is stylistically simple, as I said, but it sells the story and thus does an admirable job.  

The best compliment I can give 9/11 Heartbreaker is that it treats a potentially controversial topic with sensitivity and care, along the lines of one of my favorite indy comics of all time, Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan.  I hope that Staufenberg has more stories to tell, because I am interested in reading them.

Check out Staufenberg's website, Memory Is Fiction, for more information, including ordering info.  It's definitely worth checking out.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What I Read This Week

Well, this is a new twist on the What I Read This Week posts, because with the end of October comes the end of a 4-and-a-half year era for El Jacone.  

As of this month, I am getting my comics online instead of in my LCS.

This is a big change for me.  When I moved to the Greenville area in 2006, one of the first things I did was set up my pull list at Borderlands.  And I have been a loyal customer ever since.  But it is getting too expensive to continue on that vein, so I have switched to an online mail order service.  I'm going to have to pop in here and there for specials or delayed books, but I am going to close my pull list this week.  I'm saving quite a bit of money, but it means that I won't be able to write my typical Monday posts anymore.

What does this mean for Mondays?  My plan right now is to still write about what I read in the past week, but instead of new comics, to talk about old ones!  I have a huge amount of back issues I have not had a chance to read yet, so I figure this is a great opportunity to do exactly that.

So, keep watching this space, folks!