Monday, October 31, 2011

Upcoming Pat Shandery

Hey all. I promise there will be some original content here as soon as I catch up on grading and whatnot. Whatnot being the eleven creator-owned comic book proposals that I'm working on - mostly because I'm crazy. For now, here's a bunch of stuff that's either out or coming out soon that you might find some me-ness in.

COMICS


Angel: The End

This is a biiiiig hardcover that collects all of IDW's final Angel stories. It has the entire Bill Willingham run, all of the Eddie Hope back-ups by Bill Williams, the David Tischman/Mariah Huehner final arc, and all of the ANGEL: YEARBOOK stories. That means that this recollects my story Angel: My Only Friend, which was illustrated by the brilliant Stephen Mooney. It's up at Amazon for almost half price now!
ORDER here.



Grimm Fairy Tales: Holiday Edition 2011 - COVER A


COVER B

I wrote this giant sized issue off of an outline by GFT creator Ralph Tedesco. It's a modern take on "A Christmas Carol" and it's completely new-reader friendly.
ORDER: Cover A and Cover B.



1000 Ways to Die - graphic novel

This is a big collection of stories based on the show from Spike TV. I wrote five of the stories in this graphic novel, all off of outlines provided by Spike. It's very true to the show, but it adds a lot of stuff that could only be done in comics.
ORDER here.

PROSE


Big Book of New Short Horror

Includes my short story The Dick, the Wife, and the Pen.
ORDER in hardcover or softcover here: http://www.pillhillpress.com/shoppe-anthologies.html


31 Nights of Halloween

Includes two flash-fiction stories that I wrote (The Ghost of Gertrude Garvey and A Pity Party of Monstrous Proportions).
ORDER from Amazon here.


Halloween Frights - Volume One

Includes my short story Kids Playing Monster. I'm partial to this one, as it's a very long story and ended up feeling a hell of a lot more like a novella than a short. I'm proud of this one, so even with Halloween about to pass... I'd definitely encourage checking this one out.
ORDER here: http://www.pillhillpress.com/shoppe-anthologies.html



Zero

Includes my short story The Morning Show Host.
ORDER from Amazon here.


Told You So: An Anthology of Conspiracy

Includes my short story Gordon Macduff is Just a Man.
ORDER here: http://www.pillhillpress.com/shoppe-anthologies.html



The Undead that Saved Christmas: Vampire Edition

Includes my short story Not Many Vampires, which introduces my character Winter... something I have been waiting for the right moment to do. My story includes an illustration by the amazing Rachel Dukes.
COMING SOON from Rainstorm Press.

A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre

Includes my short story Face, which is my first go at straight horror. Just finished copy-editing my story for this one, and it turned out pretty damn creepy.
COMING SOON from Pill Hill Press.

Thanks to everyone for supporting me, working with me, and buying stuff. To those who didn't buy stuff, I'm watching you. It's Halloween. Be afraid. Mwahhahahaa...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Superman #2 review, The Savage Hawkman #2 review

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #24
(Part Three)

And this brings this week (one of the biggest in recent memory) to a close. For more of this week's reviews, click here (Angel & Faith #3, Cloak & Dagger: Spider Island #3, Casper's Scare School #1, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3) and here (Aquaman #2, The Flash #2, and Justice League Dark #2).


Superman #2
Flying Blind
Script and breakdowns by George Perez
Art by Jesus Marino
DC Comics

I feel like a traitor.

Last month, I wrote that Superman #1 was a lot closer to what I was looking for in a Supes book than Action Comics #1. However... well, not only did Action #2 kick ass, but Superman #2 was pretty dull. It continues the whole endless-text-in-each-panel thing, but this time around, the dialogue was - without exaggeration - 100% exposition. 100%. I didn't buy one bit of dialogue as human conversation. It all functioned to clue the reader in on plot and theme (the latter of which would be a good thing if the execution wasn't so transparent). The story itself is interesting, and I can tell it would've really sung in the hands of a different writer.

The big battle of this issue is pretty awesome. Superman fights a creature that his Kryptonian senses can't detect, so he has to rely on the media (nearby cameras, projection screens, etc) to bring this baddie down. Interesting twist.

Again, this is a meaty read that doesn't suffer from the over-decompression that many of the other New 52 titles do... but it's starting to feel like all of the text is weighing it down when the dialogue and the internal monologue stops adding to the story and starts over-explaining. It's begun to feel less like a peek into Superman's mind and more like an annoying announcer describing every bit of the action as it happens.


The Savage Hawkman #2
Wings of Darkness
Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Philip Tan
DC Comics

This is another comic that wasn't as good as the debut, but I don't really fault this one. The premise of The Savage Hawkman is that Carter Hall wants to be done with being Hawkman, which is complicated now that the Nth metal has been absorbed into his body. A superhero who no longer wants to be empowered is a great idea, and it's even better that Carter Hall is unable to keep himself from saving people when danger is around.

This issue spends a lot of time introducing and building intrigue about the villains, who, while terrifying, are the least interesting players in this series. While the first issue was almost all Carter Hall, this installment is purely villains/Hawkman. It was a good read, but it sort of missed the mark on why the first one mattered.

What I can say, for sure, is that Tony S. Daniel is doing a way better job on this book than Detective Comics. While the last issue of Detective delved into self-parody with its over-the-top gore, this series seems to stay away from that - for now.

-

NEXT WEEK: Action Comics, Batwing, Detective Comics, Mystic, Static Shock, Supernatural, Legend of Oz: The Wicked West.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vote THE BEAUTY for Pilot Season

I met a lot of amazing people at New York Comic Con. People I pitched to, people I talked to, people I did a little unprofessional fan-gushing over (hey, every comic book writer was a fan first), people I bought stuff from, and people who gave me their books. There was a lot of stuff to process after the con, and my mind was admittedly more on the connections I'd made that would be able to elevate my career.

However, there was a certain book that I'd grabbed that stuck with me... and that book is The Beauty by Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley. I remembered the book partly because they pitched it well... but mostly because the concept is aces. The series explores the fallout of an STD that has become coveted by the mass public. Weird, right? Does this comic explore the underground "bug chaser" community?*

Nope - this is the kind of STD that makes the carrier more physically attractive. And it doesn't seem to have any negative fallout... until now.

Check out that dramatic ellipsis.



Anyway, I read the book, and it's solid. The writing is good and the art is good. The art kind of reminds me of the work of one Mr. Stephen Mooney, who drew my Angel comic, which is a very very good thing. The plot is slow-moving and builds intrigue around the central mystery and all that fun stuff. It's not done in a particularly innovative way, but it pulls off the one thing that all comics like these should aspire to do.

We'll get to that.

First, a bit of background on what this book is. It's a part of Top Cow/Image's Pilot Season series. Essentially, Pilot Season is a sequence of new #1s by different creative teams. After all of the books have been released, readers vote on which series they would like to see as an ongoing. Very, very cool.

From the preview of #1 at IGN.com


The Beauty needs to win. It absolutely has to. I say this because this book does the one thing that these books are supposed to do, and it does it so well. Yes, the concept is absolutely brilliant. Yes, the comic itself is enjoyable. Want to know what drove me to write this blog, though?

I have to know what happens next, goddammit.

Excellent job to both Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley, both of whom I talked to at the convention and both of whom were great, great folks. And we need more of those kind of guys and these kind of ideas in the industry.

So when it comes time to vote, I'd encourage you to consider The Beauty. It's a goodun.

From the preview of #1 at IGN.com


Click here for more info on Pilot Season and The Beauty.

* For more a play that does explore the bug chaser community, check out ANIMALS COMMIT SUICIDE by my good friend J. Julian Christopher.

Aquaman #2 review, The Flash #2 review, Justice League Dark #2 review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue 24

(Part Two)

So a fish, a lightning bolt, and a bunch of creepy folks walk into a bar...

Aquaman #2

The Trench – Part Two

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Ivan Reis

DC Comics

In this issue, the creepy fish-monster things attack/talk about food a lot while Aquama, who investigates the situation, continues to be disrespected by the public. Not much happens in this issue, as it continues the exercise in decompression Geoff Johns has been doing in these New 52 books. Johns is one of my favorite comic book writers working now, but I hope that he makes this book live up to his phenomenal runs on Green Lantern and The Flash.

A good bit, though, is that there’s an interesting conversation between Aquaman and Mera where they two of them are going through Aquaman’s childhood photo album. Mera wants to experience human things, such as skiing, now that she and Aquaman have decided to live exclusively on Earth. This was the heart of the issue, but it was too brief to really latch onto.

The action is cool and the story is good, but I hope that Geoff Johns brings this story up to the admittedly high bar he set with his other work.


The Flash #2

Think Fast

Story by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato

Art by Francis Manapul

DC Comics

The story is good – not great, but good. This continues to be the rebootiest book out of the whole shebang (besides, perhaps, Supergirl) and that in itself is very confusing. I mean, Barry Allen sacrificed so much in Flashpoint but seems blissfully unaware that, in setting things back, the world is still not even close to being right – especially for him. The overarching plot is pretty interesting, but we don’t get much information on that. The story being focused on here is Barry Allen trying to make his mind tap into the speedforce… and when he does, it allows Francis Manapul to pull off some wonderfully weird art that could only work in a Flash book.

Despite not being sold on the story, I’m enjoying the hell out of this book because of the art. It’s (and I don’t say this lightly) perfect. There isn’t a panel that isn’t both beautiful and kick-ass at storytelling. The tones are wonderful, the light colors are beautifully unique, and the character design is a hell of a lot more indie than superhero.

The book honestly feels like it will read better in trade, because I think the strange details of the overarching plot are made for digesting in one sitting. However, the art and the fact that this is a Flash comic will keep me coming back month to month.


Justice League Dark #2

In the Dark – Part Two: Dark Matter

Written by Peter Milligan

Art by Mikel Janin

DC Comics

Again, this is another highlight of the week

As the cover suggests, the focus is heavy on Zatanna with a side of Constantine… but it actually turns out that Deadman and Dove (of the Hawk and Dove team) get the most page time. We get a lot of their relationship drama, all of which stems from Deadman’s inability to touch without possessing someone else’s body. The story is allowing the reader the time to peer into these characters lives and actually care about them before they get thrown into a bunch of violent action – and that’s something that a few of the key DC books could learn from.

As I mentioned last time, Mikel Janin’s gorgeous art is worth the cover price alone. His work gives a stark realism to the story, which makes the otherworldly/paranormal scenes so much creepier.

Such a great read.

SOON: Superman and The Savage Hawkman.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ANGEL AND FAITH #3 review, CLOAK AND DAGGER SPIDER ISLAND #3 review, CASPER'S SCARE SCHOOL #1 review, TMNT #3 review

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #24
(Part One)

Looks like we're back on track this week. I'm in between biiiig projects (information soonish!), so I had a little while to do a good ol' Comic Book Wednesday review. This first part includes reviews of Angel & Faith, Cloak & Dagger: Spider Island, Casper's Scare School, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. First, though, here's something super cool. I also bought a bunch of Zenescope books (I don't review those because, as I'm writing for those kind folks, I'm not the most unbiased of sources) and I was flipping through the Grimm Fairy Tales: Halloween Special 2011 (click here to order - see, I told you). In the back, there's a full page ad for my upcoming issue of the series. Check it out:

Definitely made my day. For those who would like to order the issue now (please, he said with a hopeful smile), you can follow these links:

Cover B (pictured above): click

Cover A (art by one Mr. Mike Debalfo): click

Now that that shameless bit of self-promotion/sharing of coolness is over, let's get to the reviews.


Angel & Faith #3
Live Through This - Part Three
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Rebekah Isaacs
Dark Horse Comics

As with many third acts, this is very much setting up the pieces for the conclusion. Christos Gage continues the story nicely, leaving the readers with that "What happens now?" feeling at the end of the issue. This chapter is very Faith-centric, as the eponymous slayer keeps holding more and more things back from Angel as he pushes forward in his misguided journey to resurrect Giles. There's a brief scene with Nadira, who is never as interesting a presence as Angel and Faith, but what the scene does is play on the idea that Faith has become the responsible slayer - or, as she's referred to here, "the grownup." It's both funny and intriguing in its delivery, because while Faith takes offense at the implication that she's old, she can't help but wonder "who went and made me responsible all of a sudden?"

A colleague of Giles, who was a great little guest star, replies, "Why, my dear girl... you did."

The final scene is just great. Isaacs' art has never been better, and there's a great moment between Angel and a Mohra demon that I'm not going to spoil - read the thing for yourself.



All in all, great issue. It's especially cool, because I met Rebekah Isaacs at NYCC, and she was just a lovely human being. She gave me an issue of her creator owned series, MAGNUS, which was just great. I hope to do a spotlight on that issue soon, because it's definitely something fans of ANGEL & FAITH should seek out.


Cloak and Dagger: Spider Island #3
Written by Nick Spencer
Pencils by Emma Rios
DC Comics

Nick Spencer can do no wrong.

I love the last two issues of this series, and this conclusion is no different. This book brings the storyline (Mr. Negative has discovered that Dagger will kill him, so he decides to fuck with her) to an amazing conclusion, changes the central characters in a big way (note the italics), and sets up many plot threads for future issues... which seems to indicate that Nick Spencer and Emma Rios want to make this an on-going series (pleasepleaseplease). This issue is emotional, beautifully drawn, fast paced, and smart. The whole thing reads like the best of Gaiman's SANDMAN with a bit less metatextual commentary.

Incredible conclusion to an incredible story. I'd urge readers to check out the letter section in the back, because Marvel is well aware that fans want more of the Spencer/Rios team on CLOAK & DAGGER, but they're unsure if the series could survive in the current market. Here's what you do: go out and order these issues if you haven't already read them. Then, when the TPB comes out, buy that too - and keep sending those letters in to Marvel. It's comics like these that keeps the superhero genre fresh, alive, and inventive.



Casper's Scare School #1
Halloween is for the Dogs
Written by Paul Morrissey
Art by Sabrina Alberghetti
The New Kid
Written by Landry Walker
Art by Amy Mebberson
APE Entertainment

I bought this issue to see how the series turned out. I pitched stories for this book to APE a while ago, and unfortunately didn't get in. However, I did leave the experience with an appreciation for this new take on Casper. The movie and show are great fun, and the comics manage to translate the energy of the animation to paper quite well. The main story, Halloween is for the Dogs, is fun and sometimes clever, and the back-up story (the four page long The New Kid) is just great.

The best thing about this book, though, is how fantastic the art in Halloween is. The colors jump off the page, the characters look better than they do in the actual cartoon, and the storytelling is super kinetic. If you have a kid that you're trying to get into comics or read, this is a great book for that. It also includes two classic Casper stories that are great fun.



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3
Story by Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script by Tom Waltz
Art by Dan Duncan
IDW Publishing

Eastman and Waltz keep on bringing the awesome with this series. Most of the issue focuses on Raph and Casey Jones, the latter of whom is an absolute badass in his hockey mask. It's obvious (and essential) that Raphael is going to end up with the other turtles, but the scenes with these two fighting crime here makes me was a spin-off... badly. The history of the turtles continues to build through the flashbacks, and while most of what is revealed here was apparent from the last issue, the scene is still very, very cool - especially when we see Splinter and the turtles realize that they have mutated.

Dan Duncan and Tom Waltz do a great job of making sure the readers know which turtles we're seeing (this version of the turtles is similar to the original comics in that the masks are all red, unlike the cartoon which has a different color for each turtle). The names are often thrown into conversation by Waltz, but in the cases that there are no names to go off of, Duncan makes sure that the turtle's signature weapon is in plain sight.

Again, another great issue. So glad that IDW is allowing me to relive my childhood through these comics - and hey, while nostalgia is great, it doesn't hurt that this is a fantastic story with beautiful art.

-

Now... I see your raised eyebrow. It's all sorts of raised and eyebrow-like. I totally skimped on the second part of the reviews last week. To make up for it, here's a brief run down of the issues I missed.

Wonder Woman (Azzarello/Chiang): Very good. Better than the first issue, which is saying something. I never thought I'd be very interested in a Wonder Woman story, but this tale of creepy gods and mysterious origins is quite a surprise - and a welcome one at that.

Birds of Prey (Swierczynski/Saiz): I really wanted to collect this series in trade instead of singles... but damn. It's just too much fun. Starling is a great character (very Faith-esque, actually), and the story just gets more and more interesting as all the members of this team assemble. And with the introduction of Poison Ivy (WHAT) into the squad, I'm not sure that I'll be able to resist the third installment.

DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS: Deadman (Jenkins/Chang): This is a well-told, intriguing story that feels very different from all of the other DC books - so much so that it almost seems as if it's set in a different world. The vampires and demon bars are straight out of Angel, and it's great to see more aspects of the DCU getting explored. The philosophical/existential tone of this series is interesting, and it's making me enjoy a book I was initially skeptical of.

SOON: Reviews of Justice League Dark, Aquaman, The Flash, Superman, and The Savage Hawkman.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Joss Whedon's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

I don't have time to write this entry. I should be catching up a super secret writing assignment. When I'm not doing that, I should be researching (read as: watching TV) for another super secret comic that I'm pitching for. But you know what? It was just announced that, during his two week long vacation from shooting THE AVENGERS, Joss Whedon directed an adaptation of Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

Yes.

Clicky for the info. Clicky here for a bit more info (mostly through tweets) gathered by Whedonesque.



BELLWETHER PICTURES

Now, I have no idea what Bellwether Pictures is. Google doesn't give much info either, and if Google doesn't know, who does? (Perhaps Jeeves would have, God rest his helpful soul.) Considering who is working on the thing (it seems that everyone who has worked with Joss before), it seems like this may be a fancy new name for Mutant Enemy. That, or maybe the impossibly busy Joss enlisted the help of another company to co-produce this thing? There's no way to know, but this "Bellwether" thing does nothing but make this mystery more... mysterious.

THE CAST

Alexis Denisof as Benedick. Amy Acker as Beatrice.

Amy and Alexis's chemistry is goddamn criminal that it's so good, and truly became the heart of ANGEL in its final seasons. So we know that's going to be awesome - but how about the rest of that cast? Just look at those names.

THE PICTURE

The picture of Topher - er, Fran Kranz - in a pool with a snorkel and a glass of wine definitely evokes modern. However, Nathan tweeted that he's been speaking Shakespearian (which he compared to an intelligent version of Yoda speak - YES), which definitely evokes... not modern. Well, Early Modern, says the English major, but you catch my drift. I think if they set it in a modern setting with modern sensibilities but use Shakespearian dialogue, it will set a nice anachronistic dichotomy that will make this so much funnier.

THE LENGTH

This has got me confused. While it's clear that Joss is the fucking Flash (or maybe he's Hermione with her time-turner - annnd now I just pictured a mash up of Joss and Emma Watson and it was not pretty... sorry guys), it's hard to believe that he did a full-length movie in two weeks. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is meaty play and would thus make a meaty movie, so my gut is telling me that this might be slightly... abridged? However, the cast is... let's just use the phrase fucking giant. And that just makes me think that this is not at all abridged and that Joss better go have a serious conversation with Green Arrow, because he must be on speed.

FINALLY... WHEN?

Principal photography is done. So... when can we see this? I'm betting sometime in 2012, which promises to be the Whedoniest year since the man had three shows simultaneously on TV.

April 13, 2012: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (co-written & produced by Whedon)

May 4, 2012: THE AVENGERS (written and directed by Whedon)

??? ? 2012?: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (seems to mean directed by Whedon)

Every month in 2012: New issues of BUFFY SEASON 9 and ANGEL & FAITH (all executive produced by Whedon, some of the former written by Whedon)



Joss Whedon is a Time Lord, isn't he?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Batman #2 review, Supergirl #2 review, Nightwing #2 review, Morning Glories #13 review, Justice League #2 review

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #23
(Part One of Two)

Life is crazy, and so is writing. I've got a lot to catch up on after NYCC (which I'll be writing about tomorrow), and I know I said that things would be back on track today... but hey, life happens. I promise that the writerly stuff coming your way will be worth a stretch of short reviews.

Let's get to it.


BATMAN #2: Trust Fall
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo

So damn good. Again. It's clear that Scott Snyder follows the writerly advice he gives on Twitter (not a direct quote, but he encourages folks to write what they want to write and read at all times, and to follow their passion), because the love and enthusiasm for this story is evident in every panel. The story develops wonderfully here, creating a comic that is equal parts mystery, drama, and action. Capullo's art in highly energetic, but he really shines in the small areas that give characters personality - Nightwing's self-assured smile, Bruce's subtle facial expressions during conversation... and, well, he also draws a dude landing on a car after falling from an incredible height. Again, this book is a complete success and one of my favorite reads of the month. I met Mr. Snyder at New York Comic Con and he was very inspiring - this (and his other books) is something I think every aspiring comic book writer should read.



SUPERGIRL #2: Reunion
Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Pencils by Mahmud Asrar

Like last month, this is still a quick read with mostly action, but the context gives it a hell of a lot more depth. We get a flashback with Kara taking care of her baby cousin Kal, that flash-forwards right to their reunion... which is basically him trying to help her and her trying to kick his ass. It's some of the best action I've seen in all of the new DC comics, and again proves that Asrar's art is the best that this book has ever seen. I'm skeptical about all of Kara's history being gone, but this issue did a hell of a lot more than last one to convince me to stick with this book. Lovely writing and lovely art.



NIGHTWING #2: Haly's Wish
Written by Kyle Higgins
Pencils by Eddy Barrows

Similar to the way that the Batman title is getting to the core of what's most important to Bruce, this book gets to the chewy center of Grayson: Haly's circus. Nightwing deals with the who accuses him of being the fiercest killer in Gotham. What's most troubling for him, however, is how he is being slowly pulled back into the circus life that he left when his parents died. Mr. Haley, the dying owner of the circus, tries to leave the whole shebang to Dick, who is, accordingly to Haley, not supposed to be doing the superhero gig. The two plots crash together in an action packed and tragic climax, leaving questions unanswered and tension high. I'll certainly be following this book next month.


MORNING GLORIES #13
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma

First of all, this is thirty-four pages of story for an incredible $2.99. No comics are simultaneously this meaty and this cheap. It just doesn't happen. Yet, here it is. And it isn't the only thing Morning Glories does that should be impossible. It answers absolutely no questions while still being an utterly satisfying read. It creates a compelling, very Lost-esque mystery without seeming like a rip-off of the show... trust me, there were many of those, and this is not that. What it is, however, is the best issue of the best creator-owned comic being published today. While the last arc featured one-shots focusing on all of the Glories, this follows up on some of the story threads that began in those issues while somewhat focusing on Casey. There's not much I can say without spoiling it, but I'll add that there is some great interaction between Casey and Ike, and the continued intrigue of Ms. Hodge is also worth nothing. This is the book of the year.



JUSTICE LEAGUE #2
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Jim Lee

This is a lot better than the first issue. This issue is made up of more than one scene and includes stuff other than Green Lantern bitching at Batman. There's a fair amount of that still, but it's spread out a bit and is a lot less grating than the first time. Hal seems to be closer to in-character here, and it doesn't hurt seeing him teamed up with the Flash. The plot still doesn't really launch off much in this, but it's cool to see the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together. It's not Johns' best work, and it certainly doesn't stand up to his incredible scripting on Flashpoint, but it's readable and pretty damn fun.

TOMORROW: Wonder Woman, DC Presents... Deadman, Birds of Prey.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Batgirl #2, Batman & Robin #2, Suicide Squad #2, Ghostbusters #2, The Cape #2, Green Lantern #2, Dollhouse Epitaphs #4, Penguin Pain and Prejudice #1,

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #22
(Part Two - Fast Forward Version)

Hey all. I think I've figured out a way to do these reviews. I was worried that, by the time I got a minute to sit down and type my normal long (hell, probably too long, I should be writing shit that pays me, eh?) reviews, the books wouldn't be fresh in my mind anymore. And I don't like the idea of half-assing it either.

Instead, I'll do a sort of hybrid of the long ass and half ass idea. I'll throw out all of my thoughts in a sort of Cliff's Notes-esque way, foregoing sentence structure, jokes, wordplay, and ass-hattery. Things will get back on track this coming Wednesday, but if work ever takes me away in the future... you can bet your ass this'll happen again. And I think it might be fun.

Why did I say "ass" so many times just now?


BATGIRL #2
Batgirl follows and fights Mirror. Battle quips are surprisingly cliche. People keep calling villains things like "slime" in this series. Not a bad book by any means, but the reoccurrence of that awkward aspect of the otherwise awesome first issue takes the gloss off, a bit. The character stuff going on is great, though, and we get a big reveal on who Mirror is and why he does what he does. A bit too soon, maybe, but I admittedly like longform narratives - hell, my favorite indie book is Nick Spencer's 100-issue (planned) Morning Glories - so that's not really much of a complaint. This was a good read, just not as solid as the first issue.

BATMAN & ROBIN #2
This book, on the other hand, is a hell of a lot more consistent than the first of its series. It doesn't have moments that just shine, like the scene with Batman & Robin in Crime Alley, but hey - it feels a lot smoother in general. It's a meditation on how Batman's role has evolved from partner in crime to father and, in some ways, savior/only home to Damian. There is a lot of dark stuff brewing in Damian that he's letting out in small bursts, so this seems to be building somewhere interesting. Also, Batman brings up the question many comics readers have been asking for decades: why does Batman (and, to a larger extend, why do superheroes) enlist the help of children to fight crime? This series seems to be alluding to an answer, and that in itself makes this worth a read.



GHOSTBUSTERS #2
Great book. Every bit as solid as last time, which is saying a lot. The plot gets thicker, Slimer gets stronger, Venkman gets loud-mouthier, and pretty much every aspect of the last issue is accelerated here. Characterization is spot on, the art is stylized perfection, and the colors glow on these pages like goddamn ectoplasm. I can't wait to see where this arc builds, but this book has been one of the most solid releases from IDW all year. I'm absolutely digging this comic.

THE CAPE #2
And more with the IDW goodness. In this perfect example of how it's bullshit that a book needs a protagonist you care for, the cape-wearing Eric has finally found what he's good at. It's not college like his brother, and it's not anything constructive - it's murder and mayhem. And there is a decent amount of that in this book. There aren't many wow moments like, say, throwing a bear through a car, but the whole ride is a solid, emotionally charged experience with moments of sheer hilarity ("Holy shit! It's Chriss Angel!") and scenes of true horror (Eric in the same room as Nicky and his mom). Ciaramella does a fine job turning Joe Hill's story into kick ass comic. Can't wait to see where this goes.



DOLLHOUSE: EPITAPHS #4
And the book is back on track. Joss's work is best known for his great characters, so maybe that's what this comic needed all along... more of the original characters from the show. There's a great development between Paul Ballard and Alpha that reveals why the latter has taken on heroic tendencies. The rest of the book is the search for Echo, and, well, based on the cover, you can kind of guess how this ends. I didn't think it would happen after last month, but I'm back on board and excited to see how this mini comes to an end.

GREEN LANTERN #2
Another solid Lantern effort from Johns. It's great to see Sinestro and Hal side by side again, as this is sort of like a supremely twisted version of SECRET ORIGIN. It's made more colorful by their terrible histories with each other, and that's the real core of this book: the tension between these two great warriors who ended up on opposite ends of the spectrum. Fine, one pun/joke, I'm allowed, even when I'm rushed. Anyway, it's a goodun. Some fun action, great constructs, and development of the relationship between Sinestro and Hal.

SUICIDE SQUAD #2
Fun, dark, funny, wild. Better than the first one. A hell of a lot better than the first one. It's great to see these characters on a mission, working (or not) together. Morality is constantly in question, as is villainy, with these characters who are constantly challenging each other's ideas of good, bad, and insanity. I didn't expect to stick to this series for the longrun, but hell - this was a solid, solid issue.


PENGUIN: PAID & PREJUDICE #1
Jeez... Brutal. Dark. Beautiful. Sheds some light (not positive, mind, but light nonetheless) on Gotham's notorious Penguin. We see the beginning of some mommy issues, and one scene makes me almost suspect a bit of a Norman Bates thing going on. Or, more accurately, a THE JILTING OF GRANNY WEATHERALL thing. Such a creepy book that, I feel, is not trying to make us sympathize with Penguin, not to condone his behavior, but to understand him.

NEXT WEEK: Batman, Birds of Prey, DC Universe Presents, Justice League, Nightwing, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Morning Glories.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #2 review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #22


Written on Wednesday night - the eve of NYCC.

Prepping for New York Comic Con is rough. I’m not sure when the rest of the reviews will be up, but I had to get this one in, because I’ve been dying to read this issue since the first one came out.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #2

Freefall - Part Two

Written by Andrew Chambliss

Pencils by Georges Jeanty

Dark Horse Comics


After one Jossy issue, Andrew Chambliss of Dollhouse and The Vampire Diaries fame takes the writerly reigns. The transition is seamless, ‘cause this dude can write – in every sense of the word. He continues the story in an incredibly interesting way, the voices are spot on and utterly Whedonesque, and it reads well as a comic. I think, after the enjoyable but rocky Season Eight, the BtVS team has figured out how to stay as true to the tone of the television series as possible in this medium.


A lot happens in this issue. There is a quick bit with the Student Loan Demon that is funny as hell, but on a somewhat larger scale the scene is indicative of what’s going on in the larger story. This demon was cut off from his home, much like Willow was cut off from magic, and has resorted to taking on a day (well, night) job to pay his way in this unfamiliar dimension. Another point is made that Buffy and Spike—really, slayers and vampires—have magic, yes, but their powers come from within… so they are in a strange place where they get to keep their “special” quality in a world that’s lost it’s soul. This seems to be building some nice tension (between Buffy and Willow and really between Buffy and herself, because she ponders about how a normal life would be if slayers had lost their powers and if vampires ceased to exist. That thought leads to a wonderful moment between Buffy and Spike:

SPIKE: For starters, I’d be dead. And you wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

BUFFY: Fun is overrated. But I’d probably miss you.

SPIKE: Bloody hell you would.

Also, there’s something building between Xander and Dawn. Something normal-people-like, which I so missed last season. Spike is investigating something for Buffy. There’s an investigation going on. Buffy is (already) a fugitive. Annnnd there’s a new character in town… and he’s got some pretty nifty powers that seem to pose an answer to Buffy’s “I want to be normal” crisis. But, of course, things are going to get complicated, because this is, after all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


Steve Morris's sketch for the cover

And that feels good to say. Season Nine is very much Buffy the Vampire Slayer. More than any comic with than name has ever been. So big, big kudos to the team for getting this series and the characters right. It’s damn awesome.

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Until next time, see ya when I see ya!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

NYCC

I meant to post this last night, but I have been very busy prepping for New York Comic Con. I'm here right now, in fact, waiting for them to open up the floor for preview night. The normal Wednesday reviews will be severely delayed for the most part, though I can promise to post the BUFFY #2 review by tomorrow. For now, though, you can spend your time trying to find me at #NYCC! I'm short, ginger, and likely confused about where the hell the bathroom is.

See you there!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

MORNING GLORIES - Volume One review



For me, Morning Glories has sort of been that special Christmas present. You know the one. The gift with the awesome shape that you're saving for last because you know, when you open it, it's going to be fantastic. See, I bought the first volume of Morning Glories after having heard a bunch of hype about it, but it was reading Nick Spencer's other work that got me excited for the series. I'm talking about the Jimmy Olsen one-shot (review here). If you haven't read that yet, minimize this review and get your ass to the comic shop, because that is one hell of a book. Cleverly written, wonderfully plotted, and gorgeously pencilled, that's the comic that made me turn back to the credits and realize that this Nick Spencer guy is someone to notice.

And then, Cloak and Dagger. I've been on the "give these characters a goddamn book" team since Brian K. Vaughan used them as guest stars in Runaways. Nick Spencer is writing a C&D miniseries as a tie-in to Dan Slott's Spider Island event, and goddamn... those comics are so good (reviews here: #1, #2). At this point, I'd only read three issues by Spencer, but I was sure that this dude had become of of my favorite writers in comics. Hence the awesome-present-on-Christmas status of Morning Glories.


I read the first volume last night. The book collects six issues (the first of which is 44 pages long! and the rest of which are a still thick 32), and these are six issues of pure, unadulterated intrigue captured on paper. The characters are great, and truly Runaways-esque in feel. The mystery, as Spencer described, takes the best elements of Lost, managing to walk the line between mind-fucking the readers while making them still want to come back for more. The stakes are incredibly high, especially for the first six issues of a series that Spencer has described as having a 100 issue (!) plan. But here's the thing. After reading this, I don't give a shit when we get our answers to these mysteries. I'm in for the ride, because it's the best goddamn first volume I've read in a while. I said the same about iZombie a while ago, and I love iZombie like Gwen loves brains, but Morning Glories just delivers in every way possible.


The dialogue has a distinct Whedonesque feel, but (Joss forgive me) the wittiness and wordplay feels even more natural here, because there are characters that are supposed to be extremely intelligent. And the concept... heh. Some have argued that it has been done before. I'd argue that that argument is bullshit, because the "mysterious prep school" idea isn't the concept, in the same way that Lost isn't "people living on an island." It's the mystery, the characters, and the (it seems) building mythology that makes this book one of the most wholly original comics on the market today.


I'm buying Volume Two at NYCC. From then on, I'll be picking up this series monthly, because this is a book that I want to see succeed. If there is a 100 issue plan, then hell, it's 100 issues of awesomely-shaped Christmas gifts. And I'm through waiting.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Action Comics #2 review, Detective Comics #2 review, Batwing #2 review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #21

Part Two (of Two)

And the week of judgment has arrived! Let’s see which New 52 books have improved with the second issue, which have gotten worse, and which have managed to maintain the same quality as the first.

Action Comics #2

Superman in Chains

Written by Grant Morrison

Pencils by Rags Morales & Brent Anderson

DC Comics

Whoa.

The first issue of Action Comics received a hell of a lot of praise, but I found myself in the “it’s pretty good” crowd. I was a bit more impressed with Superman #1, which I also didn’t think was great, but found it to be closer to what I was looking for in terms of character development and an introduction to this new world. It’s safe to say, though, that Action Comics #2 is easily the best Super-book of the reboot so far. This thing is good.

Readers might not like that there are only twenty pages of story and the book is priced at $3.99. However, there are eight pages of extras (character designs with notes from Grant, Rags, and also Gene Ha) that make this book well worth the charge. But if the storytelling stays this good, I’m willing to shell out that extra dollar, because Grant Morrison spins quite a yarn with this issue.

I got a lot clearer picture of who this new Superman is in this issue. While the opening scene of the first Action was great, this is a whole issue of that excellent. Luthor is a calculating bastard, and the stuff that Grant and Rags say about him (and the choice to make him a bit heaver) in the extras makes his scenes even more powerful. This is just the book that’s necessary to get people excited about Superman again.

And man, how about that Action Comics #1 homage on the second to last page?


Detective Comics #2

Playtime’s Over

Written and drawn by Tony S. Daniel

DC Comics

While Action Comics #2 greatly improved on the first issue, the second installment of Detective Comics only serves to highlight the flaws inherent in the writing, which sadly takes the first issue down a few notches in hindsight. The writing is just all right (with often stilted dialogue and clich├ęd exchanges), the art is pretty good when it’s not trying its hardest to gross the readers out, and the plot is so dark and gritty for the sake of being dark and gritty that it sadly delves to a Frank Miller-esque self-parody. It wasn’t a completely awful issue, but it’s so damn violent that it completely severs any emotion connection that I’ve had to the story. Which is sad, because I love these characters, and I think they’re put to great, great use in Scott Snyder’s Batman.

This could be a good read if it dials down the violence and shock value, concentrating more on building story and character. I’ll follow it through this story arc and see how it ends.


Batwing #2

First Blood

Written by Judd Winick

Art by Ben Oliver

DC Comics

I have to be honest. I was two seconds away from dropping this book after the first issue. I was about to submit my pull list for this week without Batwing #2 on it, but then I paused. I figured I’d give David, the Batman of Africa, one more try. All in all, I’m glad that I did. This is Winick’s best effort of the New 52 so far, standing head and shoulders above the first issues of Batwing and Catwoman. It’s violent, maybe as violent as Detective, but there is a strong emotional center here. David cares about the people being murdered, and it’s written in a way that we, the readers, do as well.

The art is beautiful, just as it was last time. If Ben Oliver stays on pencils/inks and Judd Winick keeps improving this story from issue to issue, I’m in for the ride. I’ll certainly pick up this book next month, because the story of Batwing vs. Massacre is admittedly pretty interesting. Let’s just see if, after this battle is over, Batwing can support a book of his own.

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NEXT WEEK: New York Comic Con! Reviews for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #2, Batgirl #2, Ghostbusters #2, Batman & Robin #2, Green Lantern #2, Joe Hill’s The Cape #2, CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011 #4, Suicide Squad #2. That is a lot of books, but I’d expect no less the week of the convention. These might be a bit late, what with me prepping for NYCC, but I’ll do what I can! There will definitely be big con reports, though, pictures ‘n all.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Supernatural Caledonia #1 review, Mystic #3 review, Static Shock #2 review

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #21
Part One (of Two)

Before I get to my reviews, give me a minute to geek out. I went to my local comic shop this morning (Cosmic Comics in Oceanside, NY) and saw the new PREVIEWS book. Naturally, I did what any pretentious comic writer would do. I picked it up to see if it had anything I'd written was featured inside.


I defy you with my Super Work Boots!

Sure enough, my two Zenescope comics coming out in December were solicited. Check it out! My Grimm Fairy Tales: Holiday Special 2011 book is on the left. On the bottom right, Zenescope has featured my upcoming 1000 Ways to Die graphic novel.


Clicky.

For those interested in orders these, they're on pages 336 and 337 of this month's PREVIEWS, and they'll be in store December 2011. If you like this blog, if you like comics, if you like me, if you like gingers, or if you like (insert something that you like right here - doesn't matter if it's relevant), these books are for you!

Now that that utterly shameless self-promotion is out of the way... let's get to the reviews.



Supernatural: Caledonia #1
The Dogs of Edinburgh - Part 1 of 2
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Grant Bond
DC Comics

I was wondering where this series had been hiding.

DC's Wildstorm imprint had been publishing Supernatural comics pretty steadily for a while. They mostly focused on John Winchester, telling tales set before the TV series. Most of the stories were straight horror, which evoked a similar feel to the first season. Thing about Supernatural, though, is that it's the most improved series on television. It started as a pretty straight-faced horror anthology show, but had developed into an epic story of two brothers looking destiny in the face and saying "Screw you." It's currently one of the funniest, most engaging, and daring shows on TV. While the comic was always entertaining, it never really lived up to the incredibly high standard the show set.

Until now.

Fans of the show should be warned, though, that the comic is still not much like the show in tone. It takes place before the series, but this time it focuses on Sam Winchester. Thing is, I like that its tone is different from the show. The comic managed to snag acclaimed comic book writer Brian Wood for the scripts, and it's clear from this issue that Wood is more interested in building atmosphere, character, and the emotion than he is in the action in which the older comics reveled. The plot is simple: Sam Winchester goes to Edinburgh, Scotland on a university trip and ends up meeting Emma, a fellow hunter (Scot's call 'em "breakers"), who shows him around. There's a wonderful scene with a ghostly funeral procession, but it's more atmospheric and romantic than creepy... and I think that's wonderful.

Brian Wood and Grant Bond (the incredible artist, who does pencils, inks, and colors for this issue) are telling a daringly different Supernatural story... and if you watch the show, isn't that what the writers are all about?

Can't recommend this highly enough to fans of the show, Brian Wood, or just comics readers. It's completely new-reader-friendly, and just really, really rocks. I'd love for this to become an on-going.


Mystic #3
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Pencils by David Lopez
CrossGen Comics


Either I love magic in an academic setting (The Name of the Wind and Harry Potter FTW), or this series is quality storytelling. I'm thinking the latter.

Mystic is one of the best comics on the shelves. For the past three months, I've enjoyed the hell out of this funny and compelling story that's different from everything on the shelves. There has been a lot of talk about the misrepresentation of women in comics recently (particularly but not limited to superhero comics), and I think Mystic is just the antidote for that. The leads are two young women that read like - you won't believe this - actual young women. These are characters that you want to root for, that you can sympathize with, and that manage to be pretty and appealing without even coming close to being objectified.

Enough about comic book politics in a post-Red Hood and the Outlaws word, though. This is just a damn good story by an excellent writer and an excellent artist that should be at the top of your pull list. The final page made me hunger for next month's issue, but it also made me a bit sad. The words "to be concluded" are at the bottom. #4 will be the final installment. I hope that another storyline follows this one, and that the G. Willow Wilson & David Lopez team comes back to give us more of these characters and this world.



Static Shock #2
Disarmed
Written by Scott McDaniel and John Rozum
Art by Scott McDaniel
DC Comics

I found the first issue of Static Shock to be one of the best of the New 52. The second issue doesn't quite live up to that, but it was still a fun read. The dialogue is weak in parts, though, which wasn't an issue in the first installment. A scene where Static talks to himself for an entire page, soliloquy style, was pretty painful - it would've been fine if those were thought captions, but it just makes Static appear to be a mouth for the writer's exposition.

The plot develops nicely, though, as the Slate Gang races to kill Static for their bosses. And we also get a very cool surprise appearance of the Joker and a strange, and maybe promising development with Static's sister. It's a very busy book with a lot of action and a break-neck pace, but I think the dialogue in general could've done with a good brush up. That aside, though, I look forward to the next issue. I read that co-writer John Rozum left the series, but I wonder how much of these he wrote and who will take over the writerly reigns.

Anyway, this was a good read, Static is a great protagonist, the villains are fun, and the action is top notch. I hope this book makes it in the long-run, because Static is one of the coolest heroes to come out of DC.

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Thanks for reading, all! Catch you tomorrow.

TOMORROW: Action Comics, Detective Comics, Batwing.