Tag Archives: Jim Lawson

Leonardo Commission

6 Nov

I couldn’t remember if I posted this from before.  Nevertheless, it is so good it warrants being posted twice.  Here’s my Leonardo Commission by Jim Lawson.  He recreated my favorite frames in all of comics that takes place during the Mirage Vol. 1 story Return to New York.  Enjoy!

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The end of an era: Tales of the TMNT #70 Review

9 Jun

My mouth was held agape for the majority of reading this comic.  I wondered how they could somehow end on such a perfect note.  I wondered, how could this be so damn good?

Tales of the TMNT #70 represents one of the most noble and best ways to end a series/possibly even a comic franchise: without doing anything other than producing a book of the highest quality possible.

Now, I’m not going to deny the fact that I’m biased over all things TMNT and that this being the final issue of all comics TMNT (for, at least, a very long time) will affect my review.  But, putting that aside, this is a really great comic.

The book is completely upfront that it’s revisiting events that have already been depicted.  Hell, the first seven pages are recap.  However, this recap is from a completely different perspective and camera angle, and are in the form of flashbacks and other time manipulations perfectly shown with an all black transitioning frame bridging between the past and present.  The recap definitely helps for new readers, and allow this book to be open to anyone interested (although a previous knowledge of the storyline provides many easter eggs).

I went ahead and read this issue, and then went back and read all of Return to New York with this issue fitting in.  I kid you not, but all of the positioning and fighting moves (although some of them are now original or not shown before) are spot on to how they were in the originals!  Plus, this story fills in many gaps.

Hell, with Return to New York being so frantically action-heavy and wonderful, it’s nice to have something that provides more perspective on the comic.

The work Lawson and Talbot put into the artwork and the half-tone/duo-shade is sweepingly magnificent.  Lawson creates one of the most bizarre, imaginative, and beautiful fight sequences I have ever seen involving a single chain and a single, dangling turtle.  Once again, Lawson’s art is extremely detailed while having enough self-awareness on when to focus in on key things.  There are many silent panels, and these always stand out to me as stark, menacing, and add such a creative pacing to the comic.

The writing wins.  The art wins.

The turtles crew ended their (hopefully not but possibly) very last comic on a bang.  I’m so glad I’ve been here to read it.  I’m so glad I got the opportunity to interview Dan and Jim.  I’m so glad to even read some of the best independent work out there.  To me, the Ninja Turtles have never been a gimmick, and I hope that, at some point, other comic readers can recognize the heavily saturated creativity that bubbles out of the Ninja Turtles and their comics.

Tales of the TMNT #70, you really did it for me.  I’m welling up a little now that it’s over.  But, I know I can always revisit my old friends.  Thanks Mirage.

Comic Collecting Scholarship Annotated Bibliography

15 Apr

So, after a couple months of waiting, the winners of the Book Collecting Scholarship were announced today at a reception.  I didn’t win, but I got some free cookies, a free bag, a free mug, and my name on things.  Of course, my name was misspelled, but oh well.  Anyway, I figure I’ll let you guys in on the annotated bibliography I made.  These are in order by how I feel the most pertain to the field of studying Sequential Art.  They are not a list of my favorites.  If this was a list of my favorites, then Dark Knight Returns would be nowhere near this list.

Anyway, keep in mind that I wrote this a month or two ago and many of these have changed or should be reordered, etc, because I get new books nearly every week.  I hope you enjoy:

1.

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics. New York: Kitchen Sink Press, 1994.

This graphic novel by McCloud has been the impetus for much of comic scholarship.  Not only does he go into the history of sequential storytelling and show describe the techniques, he displays the techniques through the medium.  A pivotal book in any collection of comic scholarship.

2.

Duncan, Randy and Matthew J. Smith. The Power of Comics: History, Form & Culture. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc, 2009.

Duncan and Smith structure their recent book as a lesson guide for teaching a class on Graphic Storytelling.  The book is informative, helpful, and a packed guide to discovering the inherent qualities sequential art provides.

3.

Wright, Bradford. Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Wright is one of the top Comic Historians in the field and his 2001 one book reprinted with another chapter in 2003 proves that he knows the complex and rich history surrounding the birth of comics to present day.  This book acts as an outline of history.

4.

Hajdu, David. Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

The main emphasis in the new book by Hajdu focuses on HOW comics and the crisis around comics in the 50s shaped American culture.  This book is very important in understanding how a media form of sequential art can have such a large impact on the public sphere.

5.

Pustz, Matthew. Comic Book Culture: Fanboys and True Believers. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999.

There is a lot of mystery and stereotypes involved in the Fanboy realm of comic books where fans will memorize their favorite letterers.  Pustz focuses on these unique qualities while also demonstrating how Comics affect both the culture of its fans and the surrounding culture.

6.

Heer, Jeet and Kent Worcester, eds. A Comic Studies Reader. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2009.

This collection contains critical and mostly recent essays on the field of sequential art.  These essays range on the effects of the medium on the public to the specifics of certain artistic techniques in different books.  The book is very useful to show that journals can be created for the specific study of Comics and/or sequential art.

7.

Jones, Gerard. Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book. New York: Basic Books, 2004.

Another book delves into the history and origin of comic books.  Jones, however, uncovers some other interesting tidbits like how comic books were related to organized crime, and comments how comic books helped shape American culture.

8.

Versaci, Rocco. This Book Contains Graphic Language: Comics as Literature. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc, 2007.

Versaci explores the techniques of comics and sequential art storytelling while also coming to the conclusion that the medium remains in a special field of its own in terms of art equal to all other forms.

Signed

9.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992.

No other biographical work deeply resonates with as many people as Spiegelman expressing his father’s past in the concentration camps of WWII and living as a Jew.  Spiegelman does not just tell a story, but he heavily uses metaphors like his characters being mice to further the power that resides in the medium.

10.

Peeters, Frederik. Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008.

A personal favorite, Peeters delicately reveals the autobiographical history of him falling in love with someone who is HIV Positive.  The graphic novel explores the human condition of disease while showing that love can exist in any form.  Blue Pills takes the comic medium and explores the use of contrast and brushes with each page worthy of being in a museum.

11.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York: Pantheon Books, 2003.

Perhaps one of the most famous graphic novels, Persepolis also is an autobiographical investigation at childhood, government, and responsibility.  The graphic novel provides an insight into Iran and politics while giving a great story about a rebellious girl.

12.

Waid, Mark, writer. Kingdom Come. Illustrated by Alex Ross. New York: DC Comics, 1997.

Iconic may be the best way to describe Waid and Ross’s Kingdom Come.  The graphic novel delves straight into the heart of how religion could possibly exist or function in a world of superheroes.  The work distinguishes itself with painted artwork by Ross showing that Comics are more than just “funny books.”

13.

McCloud, Scott. Reinventing Comics. New York: HarperCollins Books, 2000.

McCloud’s follow up to his groundbreaking Understanding Comics, the work mostly discusses the new possibilities that new technology provides in creating comics.  McCloud suggests revolutionary new ideas where comics can become more than just drawings on a piece of paper: such as, his infinite canvas idea for a computer monitor.

14.

Miller, Frank, writer. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Illustrated by Klaus Janson. Colored by Lynn Varley. New York: DC Comics, 1986.

The graphic novel that basically revolutionized storytelling in the 80s on the same level as Watchmen is presented by Miller as the idea of “what if Batman retired for a long time, and then came back after being disgusted about how things were going with the government.” Miller freshly presents Superman as a fascist and government tool, while Batman fights dirty and snarls.

15.

Zulli, Michael. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Soul’s Winter. Massachusetts: Mirage Publishing Inc, 2007.

Honor.  The mysticism and re-imagining of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Michael Zulli put them back in the Samurai-era of Japan where the characters are abominations fighting against the community.  The work explores what humanity actually means while displaying honor among enemies.

16.

Seagle, Steven T., writer. It’s a Bird…. Illustrated by Teddy Kristiansen. New York: DC Comics, 2004.

A graphic novel that uncovers and challenges the need for superheroes, especially the big one of Superman, while simultaneously delivering an emotional powerhouse in the context of family and chronic illness.

17.

Chabon, Michael. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. New York: Picador, 2000.

The fictional novel by Chabon covers some real life stories while showing the pressures of working in the comic business back in the day.  Chabon truly does a lot of his research to provide a fairly accurate portrayal.

18.

Busiek, Kurt, writer. Marvels. Illustrated by Alex Ross. New York: Marvel Comics, 1994.

Marvels shows what a somewhat ordinary human (a photographer) feels during some of the massive events of the early Marvel comics.  The lead character often questions the use of superheroes when the public either admires them or hates them and switches between the two so frequently.  He questions what his purpose in the world is if there are people inherently better than him while he capitalizes on the success of his photographs of superheroes.

19.

McCloud, Scott. Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection. New Yorker: Harper, 2008.

A love note to a bygone era of comics that is filled with nostalgia, but still creates new meanings and techniques for the medium.

20.

Meltzer, Brad, writer. Identity Crisis. Illustrated by Rags Morales. Inked by Michael Bair. Colored by Alex Sinclair. New York: DC Comics, 2005.

Identity Crisis was the hot storyline of 2004 for DC Comics which shows the mistrust between the superhero community.  The work also uncovers the single driving factor in most superheroes that makes them take up a suit and go out in public to try to help.  The storyline would continue to influence other stories for DC for years to come and still resonates within many titles.

21.

Knowles, Christopher. Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes. San Francisco: Weiser Books, 2007.

The book is an outline of how occultism and other beliefs have been influencing comics and their creators for years.

22.

Carré, Lilli. Tales of Woodsman Pete with Full Particulars. Marietta, Georgia: Top Shelf Productions, 2006.

Delicately beautiful is the best way to describe this work.  The small graphic novel switches focus between Woodsman Pete and Paul Bunyan.  Her sweeping illustrations convey sinking loneliness juxtaposed next to simple pleasures.

23.

Starlin, Jim, writer. Batman: A Death in the Family. Illustrated by Jim Aparo. Inked by Mike DeCarlo. Colored by Adrienne Roy. New York: DC Comics, 1988.

This book is not as important for the content, but for the events surrounding it.  The storyline involves the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd.  However, readers were given a choice to either kill him or save him by calling a hotline, and they ultimately killed him off.  The comic shows implications on how narratives and private feelings cross into the social sphere.

24.

Eastman, Kevin and Laird, Peter, writers and illustrators. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1 Issue 1. Massachusetts: Mirage Publishing, 1984.

A phenomenal sensation that has spawned a multi-million dollar property, the TMNT began as turtles with ninja capabilities who needed to avenge their sensei with a small amount of cash and 3,000 copies.  The issue is a prime example of independent publishing within the medium.

25.

Gillen, Kieron, writer. Phonogram: The Singles Club. Illustrated by Jamie McKelvie. Canada: Image Comics, Inc., 2010.

Music and comics blend in this revolutionary collection of seven stories all taking place in the same core setting with the same core characters with each story focusing on a different perspective of the same events.  The comic works to promote that comics aren’t all about superheroes and to showcase the amount of detail that can be put into a single page.

26.

Rogers, James. The Dictionary of Clichés. New York: Ballantine Books, 1985.

Incredibly helpful to figure out the off references sometimes in books, Rogers goes into the history of each and every cliché he can find and describes what they mean.

27.

Laird, Peter, writer. TMNT: Vol. 4 Issue 30. Illustrated by Jim Lawson. Massachusetts: Mirage Publishing, 2009.

A personal favorite because my second letter for the comic (also had one printed in issue 29) is printed, and an illustration of Leonardo by Jim Lawson graces the back cover.

28.

DeMatteis, J.M., writer. The Life and Times of Savior 28. Illustrated by Mike Cavallaro. New York: IDW Publishing, 2009.

Probably the best storyline of 2009, DeMatteis deconstructs the superhero myth as Savior 28 goes through a change in beliefs to advocate for peace instead of violence leading him to become an outcast because he is not beating people up, anymore.  This comic shows why superheroes are still important in comics, but describes that some may just have to change.

29.

Lawson, Jim. Illustration of Ninja Turtle Leonardo in a Jungle. 2009.

I recently did an interview with Jim Lawson, illustrator for the past 20+ years of the Ninja Turtles comics, on my blog.  Afterwards, I commissioned him to do this piece for me, and it continues to inspire me that comics are worth something.

30.

Dooney, Michael. Illustration of Ninja Turtle Leonardo and New York. 2009.

I commissioned this illustration shortly after the Lawson piece from Michael Dooney.  The artwork graces my room to also keep me going in my studies.

Wishlist:

1. The Language of Comics: Word and Image edited by Robin Varnum and Christina T. Gibbons

Collects essays on comics and things related to the medium of sequential art: covering a ride range of topics from the Yellow Kid to the Road Runner.

2. Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium edited by Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester

Includes essays from throughout the century all the way back from the twenties with the purpose of displaying that sequential arts studies did not just begin after Maus.

3. Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk

Another person’s view on how and what sequential art means with a criticism of artists, genres, etc.  The book gives a little bit of everything.

4. The System of Comics by Thierry Groensteen

A book devoted to the intricacies of sequential art which provides examples from all over the world.  A more modern version of “Understanding Comics.”

5. The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard

Collects the first forty eight issues of the compelling Image comic book series which explores what human nature may become in times of distress.  Not just a typical “zombie” book, it often echoes of absurdism and is prompted forward by the emotional side of the characters rather than useless killing with tally marks.

Wow… Been awhile. NEW COMICS!

6 Feb

Alright, I’ll admit it: I’ve been slacking on the comic book side of things.  However, new things have been happening in my life that have made me feel pretty damn good.  I’m more than likely moving, I have a girl that I like and even though she just wants to be friends and not have a relationship I still enjoy every goddamn moment I’m with her, I’m actually trying to make new/more friends and succeeding, and Quantum Leap is a show that will never lose its beauty to me.

So, where does that leave me?  Oh yeah, I’m in a damn fine mood to go to the comic store and post about what I’ve read.

Batwoman in Detective Comics #861:

Wait, this comic doesn’t have the beautiful work of J.H. Williams III in it?  Fuck, I’m not picking that up.

Well, you should because this was by far the best read I’ve had in awhile.  Jock’s artwork flows flawlessly with Rucka’s script which is not only occasionally surprising, but instantly badass.  Everyone should read this book… and I’m not kidding.  Everyone.  Whether you like comics or not.  Here, we have a kickass superhero who’s a lesbian and uses her defining qualities to her advantage.

The thing I loved about this issue was that Batwoman gets stabbed a lot but keeps on fighting like a pro.  The duality of the story in the past with Batman and the story with Batwoman in the present really brings it home that Kate may not have the same amount of training as Bruce did, but she can still hold her own against anyone else in the Bat-family.

God, I loved this.

Invincible Iron Man #22:

Tony Stark is still kinda in la-la land stuck in his head, and ruling him out as the main force in the comic is a pretty interesting thing to do, but Fraction nails it home with this issue.  I’m really enjoying this series.  Sure, Marvel’s been having the whole problem lately of “hey, we don’t like to schedule our books out in proper sequential order so you get spoilers in issues all the time,” but I’m okay with that.

Bringing in Strange is a clever, mildly desperate move, but I like when he realizes that this task may just end up being a lot harder than he expected it to be.  Has anyone else noticed that him and Tony look nearly identical with a few modifications? It’s kinda distracting.

Red Robin #9:

Fun.

That’s the best way to describe this issue.

Wait, what?  Describing the new badass “I’m dark and angry like my Daddy” attitude Red Robin-Tim Drake-Wayne-(Draper) as fun is a little weird.  However, it works.

I loved the contrast in this issue of how Tim comes back to Gotham, talks about how shitty it is yet feels the need to apologize and actually crack a smile for good ol’ times.  Ra’s is super menacing in this issue and his plan seems pretty dastardly.  I feel like this actually has some substance.

The nice thing about this series – so far – is that it works the way a comic should work.  It has nicely developed storylines in 3-5 issue arcs that play a role in the bigger picture.  Not only that, it also makes reference to what’s going on in the whole universe.  Sure, I would have liked it if Tim did some more world-touring, but I love how this comic and Batman and Robin #7 came out at relatively the same time with similar themes with different approaches.

It probably helps that I’m a huge Tim Drake fan.

Batman and Robin #7:

Let’s admit it, this issue had problems.  From the ridiculous way Batwoman gets brought into the story to the accidental dialogue switch in a certain frame that’s a bit confusing.

Let’s also admit that Cameron Stewart just brought new life to this series.  I was a converted fan for the first Quitely issues, then I got the Phillip Tan ones and thought, “fuck, I hate this art.”  I hated it so much, in fact, that I was going to stop getting this series.  Then, I read some reviews of the issue and decided, “okay, you’ve got another shot, don’t disappoint.”

The things this issue does well completely overshadows the above problems.  The issue is at such a breakneck speed that sometimes it’s hard to keep up, but then you read something later on and pick up what actually happened earlier.  So, Morrison kinda safeguards himself on that.

The interrogation scene is killer like 3 pages of absolute glory.

So Cameron, you got me.  I’m picking up the next issue.

The Walking Dead#69:

Ever wanted to see what post-Zombie Washington DC would look like?  Well, here you go.

The mistrust simmers down in this issue and a mini crisis happens in which we discover this community our characters are going to is pretty damn well-off in terms of resources and firepower.

Things may just be looking up for the group, but I’m expecting something to happen in issue #73 that shakes things up… just a guess.

My one problem is that this comic always feels short.  I know that Charlie Adlard typically does about a page of art a day, and it would be pretty mean to force him to do more.  I guess it is a sign of a good comic when you’re craving the next one as soon as you read that one (hence why this series works better in trades, but I’m so goddamn impatient I can’t wait).

Green Lantern #50:

I guess it’s fairly significant that Hal Jordan turns back into Parallax in issue 50 when in Vol 3 of Green Lantern he’s infected with Parallax and destroys the Corps.

So, takin’ down the Spectre, huh?  That’s neat.

This issue just sort of felt “meh” for me.  I mean, it’s cool seeing all of the new Corp members dealing with their bosses (I love Atrocitus urging Mera on), but the issue just moved really quickly at first to me.  Then, once it hit halfway it moved a little slow.  I think it’s just suffering from having too many characters at this point.  I want more screen time for all of them, but there’s just not enough room.

In terms of Blackest Night, this plays a decent role.  Plus, I wonder how Parallax is going to be put back into his cage.

Oh, and the part between Hal and Carol is cute.

The art on this issue is pretty good.  Not amazing, but better than a lot of art.

I guess I may just be caught in the rut that I’m putting this series to a (deservedly) higher standard.  Hmmm.

Tales of the TMNT #66:

A bit frustrating to find 100 versions of a Batman and Robin cover and only 10 of a TMNT cover – all of which are quite small.

So, I went into this thinking that this issue probably wasn’t going to work for me.  I’ve always have loved Tales for covering aspects of heroes’ lives typically not seen in comics, but an issue about dog smuggling by a gang in NY that’s pretty lame in the TMNT series just was not doing it for me in description since it’s so arbitrary.

Nevertheless, upon reading it, I found the issue to be fun and meaningful.  Sure, I don’t really have much of a recollection of how it went and I read it two weeks ago, but I remember smiling and rooting for my characters.  So, I suppose if a comic can have even that short term effect, then it must be pretty damn decent.

For something that didn’t require too much, Lawson still kicked out some great art.

World’s Finest miniseries #1-4:

Okay, I meant for all of those images to just line up horizontally, but it wasn’t happenin’.  So, I picked up the first issue of this miniseries on a whim partly because of good ol’ Timmy being in it.  Sure, he was drawn like he was 40 and not 19 which was a bit upsetting, but oh well.

The miniseries was entertaining.  It wasn’t great nor was it bad.  Just a nice pairing of the two biggest franchises for DC which was fun.  I did enjoy how most of the stories convalesced together in the final issue.  That was nice.  It was also nice to see Superman drawn in a way that made him actually seem like a mentor who has aged since the beginning.

I was a little offended with how carrying the trend of Damien being a jerk, he’s made yet another comment about Stephanie being fat or not – basically – a skinny ass, busty, big hipped, typical comic book female.  I think she’s one of the few mainstream female characters that might just happen to have a real body.

The ending of the series was a bit goofy, and totally feels like a lead-in to War of the Supermen.  Oh well.  Overall, if you want an introduction to some new characters that are staples for their universe(s), then check this out.

Heard I should probably check out Siege.  I mean, what with people being torn in half!?  I’m just not a big Marvel guy… oh well.

Also, in case you were wondering: I’ve read all of 100 Bullets and caught up to date with Fables recently.  So, expect posts on that and Zot! soon.

The Best Comics of 2009

22 Dec

1. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

It seems like the obvious choice because almost every Top 10 list has this in at least the Top 3 with most of them having it as the number one.  The reason: this piece of work is just that good.

Mazuchelli furthers the graphic medium in strange and ingenious ways to depict time, characters, moments, emotions all in separate visual ways.  The art and the writing combine to make the piece extraordinary.

The story follows Asterios Polyp, a tenured professor of architecture, who, due to circumstances, removes himself of all of his possessions and travels to the Midwest to rediscover himself.  Through the novel, we’re treated to glimpses back to what has made Asterios who he is and what he feels is wrong with his life.  Memorable characters are abundant throughout, and I only wish I could have as many philosophical conversations in one lifetime as Asterios does.

Frankly, this is the perfect exercise of what comics are, what comics can become, and what makes comics – and frankly storytelling – so goddamn enjoyable.

2. The Life and Times of Savior 28 by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro

What is the use of a superhero once they start advocating for peace through nonviolent means?  No beat ‘em up, no entertainment, no thrills, no deaths, no nothing… just a message.

DeMatteis explores this question among many others in his pinnacle achievement of Savior 28.  This comic came out so strong because it explored national identity, personal identity, and the human condition of morals, beliefs, and love.  What started out as a rejected Captain America pitch from 20 years ago turned into one of the best superhero comics of, honestly, the decade.

The art isn’t anything special, but I’m a fan of that for this story because readers need something simple to latch onto while they face some very complex thoughts.

It challenges the status quo, and shows that superheroes can be people who fuck up, too.

3. Donatello: The Brain Thief by Jim Lawson

There was no better comic to come out of Mirage this year than Jim Lawson’s miniseries on Donatello.  First and foremost, I have to admit that Donatello is far from my favorite turtle.  Nevertheless, Lawson captured something special in the character that made him fresh and exciting.

Jim Lawson’s illustrations are often stark and barren, but somehow still filled with incredible amounts of minute detail.

And frankly, the last issue where he inks his own work (Eric Talbot inked the first three) you can see a master at his best.

The story resonates as a mystery comic with mixes of science fiction and fantasy, but it is still incredibly accessible to new readers.  Sure, it’s a ninja turtle comic, but whoever said that was a bad thing?

4. Batwoman in Detective Comics by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

Powerful female lead(s), the strongest portrayal of a homosexual character in any comic I have ever read, and by far the most beautiful artwork in mainstream comics.  I have been a fan of this from the get-go, and have probably shoved it down everyone’s throats with all of my reviews.  Nevertheless, people even interested in comics need to read this one!

Williams III switches between styles to display different parts of Kate Kane’s character, but it is still distinctly his work.  Plus, all of the styles he uses are on the level and often exceed the work of contemporary, modern artists in any field.

Not only does it achieve great things for women and homosexuals with incredible artwork, but this comic contains a hell of a story!

5. Blackest Night by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis


Probably the greatest crossover book of the decade, and it’s not even finished yet.

Sure, the premise is kind of stupid: let’s bring back all of the dead characters in the entire universe whether they were good or bad before, and turn them into the equivalent of flesh (and emotion) eating zombies.  There are dozens of zombie books on the market, why would anyone want to read one from a mainstream publisher?

Well, somehow the simple concept becomes something much more complex, and Geoff Johns writing far exceeds most of his peers.  He can take this mildly goofy premise and turn it into something that actually feels like it matters.

Plus, he throws in hell of some surprises along the way.

Zombie Aquaman sharks, attack!

6. Nine Ways to Disappear by Lilli Carré

I love Lilli Carré.  She is probably one of my favorites of all time.  I follow her work with a devotion unlike any other, and her latest work is no exception to the high quality of work she has already produced.

The little book feels like a treasure when you hold it, and you read along and absorb these nine wonderful stories.  Most of them may not be as quirky as Woodsman Pete, but I love them nevertheless.

Her illustrations are sometimes zany, other times brilliantly simple, other times filled with pattern-like complexity.  After reading this book, I felt like I had learned something about myself and the world… So, I read it again.

7. Chew by Jon Layman and Rob Guillory

If you went back and reread all of my reviews that I did of Chew, you probably would not expect it to be found anywhere near this list.  In fact, you may have imagined it on the worst of list.

Really, I wouldn’t have been too surprised either about a month ago.  Then, I reread all of them, and I realized that I was wrong.  There is a brilliance in this series that far surpasses most comic books on the market with its crazy and original content.

Hell, the created dictionary-like terms for most of their characters that will forever easily be said in lore as if they didn’t come from a comic.  “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if you could be a cybopath!”

Tony Chu works for the FDA.  He eats things.  He solves crimes.

8. The Walking Dead: Fear the Hunters by Robert Kirman and Charlie Adlard

Robert Kirkman sure is consistent with his output.  This was a great story really digging in to tell how far humanity can get away from being human when under forced circumstances.

Plus, the standoff is probably one of the most badass moments in the entire series.  I gasped aloud and reread that issue.

If you’ve never read this series and are either a) interested in comics b) interested in zombies c) interested in human morality systems amongst many other things, then you should read this.  No doubt.

9. Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata

The best series out of Marvel, by far.  Watching Tony Stark erode and work backwards through his past to become a cripple was strangely one of the most entertaining things I looked forward to every month.  I came onto this series midway through, and it didn’t scare me at all.  It made sense with its small cast of characters.

I can’t really say much else about this one because it seems so inherently obvious that it deserved a place on this list, and that others should check it out.

10. Tales of the TMNT #56, 59, and 61 by Tristan Jones and Paul Harmon, Tristan Jones and Paul Harmon, and Tristan Jones and Andres Ponce, respectively.

Tristan Jones, you brought the grit back to the Mirage Universe for the handful of issues that you got to work on before the end of the series.  You made the turtles kick ass again.  You made new characters in the Turtles-verse which, in a single issue, suddenly reminded me that the Turtles can lose.

I loved each and every one of these comics, and I know it seems unfair to pick and choose from the run, but these were some of the best of the entire volume two of Tales of the TMNT.

Paul Harmon and Andres Ponce, you guys made B x W comics look way better than most colored comics in my entire collection.

Notables: Batman and Robin (issues #1-3, at least… 4-6 were really bad), Batgirl, Secret Six, Incredible Hercules, and Barack the Barbarian (I love this mini more than I probably should).

Things ranked high on other lists that I still haven’t read and may have placed on the above list: Stitches by David Small, Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra, Driven by Lemons by Josh Cotter, Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke, and The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefevre.

The Worst of 09:

I thought about doing a separate blog post about these, but really… it would just be a lot of me bitching, and I’m tired of working on best list for the last three hours.

  1. Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth
  2. Dark Wolverine #78 to current
  3. Batman: Battle for the Cowl
  4. Buck Rogers (everything except #0)
  5. and everything else I tried to avoid.

Review Time! 12/19/09

19 Dec

Alright, I’ve been a bad little boy lately… well, to tell you the truth, due mostly to circumstances out of my immediate control, I did not go to the comic book shop for three weeks!  And yet, I’m one of those weekly people… Damn.  So, these are fairly recent comics.

They’re ordered from best to worse, once again.

Donatello: The Brain Thief #4 of 4

Wow, that’s all I can really say to sum up this miniseries.  Jim Lawson really fulfilled on his promise in the interview that I did with him (that you can read here: https://mechanisticmoth.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/an-interview-with-jim-lawson/ ) that this miniseries would show a much darker side to Donatello than ever seen before.  Frankly, I haven’t been this surprised with the character since he fell, broke his leg, and then used a gun to save Karai in City at War way back when.

The pacing on this issue is phenomenal with so many quiet, introspective moments that really emphasize the horrible lengths Donatello will go to for some sort of better good.  I read it so quick that I read it again… and then again… then I read all 4 issues again.  Expect to see this miniseries on a list at the end of the year!

I really have to refrain from going into too much detail about this book because it’s just one that you have to read on your own.  And, don’t fear readers, this miniseries is pretty easy to pick up without ever reading any TMNT stories before.

Batgirl #5:

You know what really makes me happy?  The best titles coming out of the Bat-Family right now are ones that feature Strong Female characters.  Batgirl and Detective Comics.  The characters are truly dynamic.  You get Barbara Gordon who is disabled and in a wheelchair but still empowered, sexy, intelligent, and playing the very important role of being Oracle.  Couple that with her working with Stephanie Brown who’s only been vigilante-ing it for a couple years (comic book time) who is sassy yet smart and fierce.  Not only that, out of any of the characters in the Bat-verse, Stephanie actually brings some much needed light to the dark of Gotham.

Plus, what’s this!? The women aren’t drawn with giant T & A in this book!  There’s even a stab by the writer at other books that do this (which was pretty darn good).

Any issue of Batgirl is great for first time readers because the stories are pretty issue inclusive, and they’re very attractive for first time readers because of the stories being fun, thrilling, and fresh.

Plus, there’s an Omen joke in here (connection between the boy in the movie and the son of Bruce Wayne-aka the new Robin) that I’ve been waiting for for quite awhile.

Read this, you won’t be disappointed… unless you get a copy like I did… which is when the colors bleed on a couple pages because the printer was off from the registration marks… which is really frustrating (especially when it happens multiple times a week) because it detracts from the art.

Invincible Iron Man #21:

This is the best comic coming out of Marvel.

Despite the somewhat contrived way of getting Tony’s knowledge back, this comic works really well.  Fraction does a great job of leaving some mystery as to what the hell is happening inside Tony’s subconscious as he tries to make it back too.

The art’s really neat.

There’s some pretty strong female characters in the book despite the occasional large boobs that they’re graced with.

There’s no reason not to read this book, really.

Red Robin #7:

You know, I have to say that I think it’s pretty darn funny that the only good books coming out of the Bat-verse post-(the atrocious)-Battle for the Cowl are pretty unrelated from Batman.

Here we have Tim Drake traveling around the world in search for the missing Bruce Wayne.  ‘Cept, he’s had to hit it up with the League of Assassins to go toe to toe with the Council of Spiders… sure, that sounds a bit confusing, but it makes sense when you read it.

I really love the new artist on the series Marcus To, he’s really showing his talent with this book.

I also enjoy how we experience the weirdness alongside Tam Fox since this is her Introduction to Super Hero-ing and Assassins/Ninjas… it gets pretty funny to read her reactions, but you still feel vested in the interests of the characters.

I have to admit, I was a little surprised by the climax of Ra’s Al Ghul being there the whole time to only be taken out by a touch by poison lady… Ra’s Al Ghul is the most dangerous man on earth, so… how could someone just walk up and put their hand on him?  Oh well.  It was  a good sport.

The Walking Dead #68:

Alright, it’s pretty easy for me to say that The Walking Dead is one of the best comics out on the market.  Hell, it’s really easy.  However, this issue is totally a transitional one, and it shows.  Nevertheless, Robert Kirkman pulls it off and makes it not entirely boring and hints at some other stuff in it.

After the (awesome!) Fear the Hunters storyline the gang has done some pretty terrible things and find out that Eugene who seemed like he had contacts with the government and was leading them to Washington D.C., was actually lying in order for him to survive.  Disgruntled and starving, a man just walks up to the group out of the woods and offers them a spot in the special community he lives in.

Very intriguing.  But, this issue is working in between the short run of Fear the Hunters and the story line once they end up in the community.  So, it’s meet and greet/ Rick’s kind of mean again.

I really enjoyed how in the couple of panels, Kirkman (heavily) suggested that the partners from the town doing the scoping for people to join the community Aaron and Eric are homosexuals.  They both seem very empowered characters and I hope to see more of them in the future of the series.

Green Lantern Corps #43:

You know, it would probably be helpful for me to go and read the reviews I did for the previous issue of a comic that I did before rating the newest one just to make sure there’s some consistency.  Oh well.

Kyle Rayner isn’t dead!  Big surprise since I already knew it with the Origins and Omens from last year.  However, it wasn’t a completely useless tool used by Tomasi because Kyle’s “death” basically gave the impetus for Guy Gardner to become a Red Lantern/aka complete badass.  Since he’s got two rings on his fingers, Guy can just go around “killing” the undead Black Lanterns in droves.  Other than that, though, the issue is kind of sad, in a way.  It had some cool ideas but there was this overall sadness to it that was strange.

Other than that, the issue was neat, but it didn’t completely flow.  This comic just seems to go by way too fast when not much is actually shown but you know there’s a lot going on.  I don’t know, maybe they could pull an Amazing Spider-Man on us and release three issues a month!

Tales of the TMNT #65:

Okay, I had a really hard time with this issue.  The overall premise of delivering a somewhat Holiday-time Tale along with everything else going on in this issue was really good.  I just don’t believe that it was carried out to the best possible degree.  This issue’s all Berger, and I believe that at times his writing can sway between okay and great which is the same for his art.  The Turtles sway between Archie style and Eric Talbot style which are pretty distinct differences.

The best part of this story, however, is the Rat King.  The Rat King is by far one of the best ever characters in the Mirage-Universe who is fairly underutilized (he died during or before City at War depending) because he’s the only person to have ever successfully messed with Splinter.  This issue gives us about 10 frames worth of Rat King, and all of them are classic.  I really wish more of the issue focused on the Rat King than the mystical guy and the snow oni.

I mean, how did the guy even find out about the Turtles?  It seems so arbitrary.

The thing that did it for me to bring this one down from a 3 to a 2.5 was because of the binding issues which have absolutely no connection to Mirage or the story.  It just really pissed me off when the pages of my comic were still perforated and attached together so I had to tear the tops of them apart which, in the process, bent all of my pages.  It was frustrating and a first.

How I view it, is that 3 stars is average, and 2.5 stars is squeeking just below the surface of that.

My New Room

9 Dec

As promised yesterday, here’s a look at the new setup to my room.

This is the main wall which overhangs my couch.  The left is my Lawson commission of Leonardo, Middle is a Dan McCarthy Serigraph (screenprint), and the far right is my Michael Dooney Leonardo Commission.

Here’s a close up on the Dooney Commission.  This sucker is so neat!  Although, I did notice, and commented about it on Dooney’s blog, that Leo’s missing his across-the-shoulder strap.  So, his sheaths (sheaves?) are being held up by magic… possibly because Splinter taught him more mystical arts stuff than we ever could have known!

Sure, this picture’s kinda bare, but I wanted the little picture painting by Turddemon to accentuate some color on the side while not taking away from the three art pieces on the main wall.

I put this near my closet doors so that when I set at my desk it’s like the eyes of the heart are looking into the back of my head.  When I first got this off of eBay, I wasn’t much of a fan of his work, and just was happy that it only cost me a little less than $10 including shipping.  Now, after seeing this in person, it’s artistry is top notch and I would really like another one at some point.

Here’s a look at my desk.  I have my screen at an angle because it’s big and I really need a flat screen monitor, but working at an angle actually is a lot nicer than I expected it to be.  I keep all of my movies in easy reach.

Sabretooth’s been having a field day with my desk because it’s not completely organized so she likes to bat stuff off of it while I’m trying to sleep.

I had to have my “Your Ship Sank” Serigraph above my desk because it brings me such great, unexpected joy whenever I look at it.

Here’s another look at the main three.

For updates, I’m hoping to come up with a Christmas shopping recomendations list this week.

I would also like to update “1000 Things We Hate” as well as the other tabs, but that may come during winter break.

I’m staying in Tacoma for all of break, and will probably be bored out of my mind.  But, at the moment, I have to focus on finals.