31 May 2005

The SideKick Weekly: 5/25/05

What I read:

What was said:
  • Batgirl #64: Couldn't find anything. If you have a review, posting, anything, let me know.
  • DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy #1:: Brian Hibbs reminds us that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Don MacPherson agrees remarking how inaccessible this title is for new readership. Great art, though. For the terribly curious, a Donna Troy primer.
  • Green Lantern #1 - Rose Vess & Tom McLean share the mild optimism non-Green Lantern fans have for this debut, while Matt from Howling Curmudgeons makes a case to grin and bear it as this series unfolds.

What's in my head:

Batgirl #64
This was a lot of fun. Good jumping-on point for new readers. I passed this over to my girlfriend and she liked it - or rather she didn't bombard me with questions. She got it and I'm pretty sure if I picked up the next issue she'd read it. The issue continues a battle between Batgirl and the Ravager, daughter of reviled super-assassin Deathstroke. Interesting juxtaposition of the two characters. You knew who would win (book's called Batgirl after all) but you don't root against the Ravager and writer Andersen Gabrych gets the nod for accomplishing that with sparse narration amidst an action-filled issue.

Donna Troy #1
Admittedly Donna Troy has one of the more complicated origins in the DC Universe but that does not excuse the poor introduction. Just makes me shake my head and ask why bother? When this Infinite Crisis stuff goes down she's just going to wind up donating her eyes to Wonder Woman anyway.

In DC's defense, this Wednesday they are selling Who is Donna Troy?, a $17 Trade Paperback that collects the critically acclaimed New Titans #50-55 and other issues. Hmmph.

Green Lantern #1
There's nothing wrong with this book but after Rebirth I was looking for something a little more daring. I suspect it will be collected at the end of the year (Rebirth + 1st storyarc) so I'm not going to wait for this to pick up the pace. Shame, too, because I really enjoy Pacheco's art.

Next, taking a week off the superheroes. Maybe some Vertigo, maybe Indies. We'll see.

Until next time.

30 May 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 5/25/05

Gotham Central: Half A Life TPB
If you're reading more than five comic books a month and Gotham Central isn't one of them, you're wrong.

Captain America #6
Unlike Winnick's similar Jason Todd-driven storyline currently unfolding over in Batman, Brubaker's take on things doesn't feel lazy and contrived, and isn't reliant on any familiarity with Cap's history or continuity.

The Expatriate #2
The four-color equivalent of the handheld camera in the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. Don't wait for the trade on this one, jump aboard now!

The Grimoire #3
A potential sleeper hit...tailor-made for fans of Harry Potter as well as those who simply enjoy a good dose of fantasy injected into their action stories.

New X-Men: Hellions #1 (of 4)
It's not terrible, and it's not great; it simply is what it is. Current fans, particularly of the current New X-Men series, will enjoy it, while it's unlikely to rope in anybody new.

Zorro #1
A relatively solid effort, but its execution all but screams "wait for the trade!"

Be sure to check out all of this week's reviews from Buzzscope's crack staff of reviewers - some of the best out there, if I may say so myself - as well as On The Fly's advance review of Batman Begins. While you're there, sign up and leave some feedback in the forum. It's one of the more level-headed boards out there and while the usual suspects get the most attention, there's plenty of room to talk about good comics, too.


24 May 2005

Try Something Different: 5/24/05

Support Independent Comics!

Independent comics (and manga) being released tomorrow, 5/24/05, courtesy of ComicList. Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it.

Recommendations, sometimes blind, in BOLD. Which ones are YOU reading?

Golden Plates #2 (Of 12), $7.99

True Story Swear To God Vol 2 This One Goes To 11 TPB, $12.95

AP How To Draw Manga Toning Techniques CD Ed Vol 1 TPB, $24.95

Punch And Judy TPB, $7.95

Archie #557, $2.19
Archie Double Digest #161, $3.59

Brian Pulidos Belladonna Leader Of Pack Ed #3 (Of 5), $5.99
Brian Pulidos Belladonna Warrior Spirit Ed #4 (Of 5), $5.99
Brian Pulidos Lady Death Swimsuit Emerald Foil Cvr 2005, $6.99
Brian Pulidos Lady Death Swimsuit Scorching Ed 2005, $5.99
Brian Pulidos Unholy Bad Attitude Cvr #1, $5.99
Brian Pulidos Unholy Showgirl Cvr #2, $5.99
Friday The 13Th Sp No Escape Cvr #1, $5.99
Lady Death Leather & Lace 2005 Cruel Mistress Cvr, $5.99
Medieval Lady Death Fear Her Wrath Cvr #1, $5.99
Nightjar #4 (Of 4), $3.50
Nightjar Tarot Cover #4 (Of 4), $3.99
Nightjar Wraparound Cvr #4 (Of 4), $3.50
Stargate SG1 Aris Boch Wrap Virginia Gold Seal #1, $4.99
Stargate SG1 Daniels Song Nouveau Carter Ed #1, $5.99
Stargate SG1 Daniels Song Nouveau Hammond Ed #1, $5.99
Stargate SG1 Daniels Song Nouveau Oneill Ed #1, $5.99
Stargate SG1 Daniels Song Nouveau Tealc Ed #1, $5.99

The Ballad Of Sleeping Beauty TPB, $21.95

War Of The Worlds BSI Ed GN, $13.99

Tarot Beltane Blank Sketchbook, $11.95
Tarot Witch Of The Black Rose #32, $2.95

Dinotopia World Beneath HC (AA), AR

Shaolin Cowboy New Prtg #1, $3.50

Alex Raymonds Flash Gordon Vol 3 HC, $19.95
Alien Legion Footsloggers TPB, $19.95
Winsor Mccay Vol 5 Early Works, $19.95

Elvira #145, $2.50

Brian Pulidos Lady Death Swimsuit Moment Of Peace Cvr 2005, $5.99
Brian Pulidos Unholy Gold Foil Ed #2, $5.99
Lady Death Leather & Lace 2005 Prism Foil Cvr, $12.99

Unexpurgated Tale Of Lordie Jones GN, $12.00

Billy The Kids Old Time Oddities #2 (Of 4), $2.99
King Of Wolves TPB, $12.95
Vampire Hunter D Vol 1 Novel SC, $8.95

GI Joe #43, $4.50
GI Joe Master & Apprentice Vol II Cvr B #4, $2.95
GI Joe Master & Apprentice Vol II Udon Cvr A #4, $2.95

Comics Journal #268, $9.95

Uncle Scrooge #342, $6.95
Walt Disneys Comics & Stories #657, $6.95

Flare #6, $2.99

Karney #2 (Of 4), $3.99

Armor X #3, $2.95
Common Foe #1 (Of 4), $3.50
Deep Sleeper TPB, $12.95
Desperado Primer, $1.99
Expatriate #2, $2.95
Girls #1, $2.95
Seventh Shrine #2 (Of 2), $5.95

Barbarossa And The Lost Corsairs #2, $3.50
Jade Fire #1, $3.50

Bolland Strips TPB, $24.99
Pilgrim & Son Festival Ritual TPB, $10.99

Zorro #1, $2.95

Beans #19 Good Evening Pippin, $5.99
Beans #20 Twinkle Planet, $5.99
Beans #21 Everlasting, $5.99
Beans #22 Sycamore Street, $5.99
Beans #23 Gemini Girls, $5.99

Watching Days Become Years #2 (Cold Cut Distribution), $5.00

Grimoire #3, $2.99
Hunger #1, $2.99
Ravenous GN, $14.99

James Bond Dr No TPB, $16.95
Transformers Aspects Of Evil GN, $7.95

Animage Apr 2005, $11.99
Art Of Howls Moving Castle, $54.99
Bishoujo Figure Super Collection Feat Bome (AA), $49.99
Character Design Bible Vol 3, $31.99
Character Design Bible Vol 4, $31.99
Cosplex Vol 1, $23.99
Dengeki Gs Mag Apr 2005, $16.99
Dengeki Hobby Apr 2005, $18.99
Dengeki Hobby May 2005, $18.99
Figure King Encyclopedia #86, $18.99
Fullmetal Alchemist Anime Comic Vol 1, $16.99
Gashapon Hg Series Complete Bk 2004, $33.99
Gothic & Lolita Bible #15, $25.99
Hobby Japan May 2005, $12.99
Hyper Hobby Apr 2005, $16.99
Megami Mag Apr 2005, $14.99
Miyako Hasumi Illus SC, $49.99
Model Graphix May 2005, $15.99
Newtype Apr 2005, $10.99
Quanto Mag Apr 2005, $9.99
Saiyuki Reload TV Anime SC, $29.99
This Is Animation Howls Moving Castle, $17.99
Tsubasa Myojin Illus, $59.99
Ultra Jump Megamix Vol1, $16.99

Alichino Vol 2 GN (Of 3), $9.99
Blazin Barrels Vol 1 GN (Of 18), $9.99
Btx Vol 9 GN (Of 16), $9.99
Cardcaptor Sakura Vol 6 GN New Ptg (Of 6), $9.99
Chronicles Of The Cursed Sword Vol 12 GN (Of 16), $9.99
Dnangel Vol 8 GN (Of 8), $9.99
Gto Vol 1 GN (AA), $9.99
Initial D Vol 18 GN (Of 26), $9.99
King Of Hell Vol 1 GN (Of 10) (AA), $9.99
Legal Drug Vol 3 GN (Of 4), $9.99
Love Or Money Vol 3 GN (Of 5), $9.99
Paradise Kiss Vol 1 GN New Ptg (AA), $9.99
Psychic Academy Vol 8 GN (Of 11) (resolicited), $9.99
Rave Master Vol 15 GN (Of 29), $9.99
Rebirth Vol 14 GN (Of 18), $9.99
Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol 13 GN (Of 27), $9.99
Tokyo Mew Mew Vol 1 A La Mode GN (Of 2), $9.99
Tokyopop 3 Pocket 2005 Manga Pop Display, AR

Dead At 17 Vol 3 Revolution TPB, $14.95

New West #2, $4.99

23 May 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 5/18/05

Black Panther #4
Hudlin said from the beginning that "by the end of the second arc, the character will never be seen the same way again." Love it or hate it, it's safe to say he's already accomplished that goal two-thirds of the way into his first arc, not just with the Panther but, perhaps more importantly and impressively, with Wakanda itself.

Conan #16
One of those mythical "jumping on" issues; and one that will make you want to catch up on what you've missed because it's that damn good!

Dark Horse Book of the Dead HC
From the clever twist of "The Hungry Ghosts," to the waterlogged horror of "Kago No Tori," Book of the Dead delivers literate storytelling that doesn't shortchange fans of gore and hanging entrails.

Freedom Force #5
Another bit of Silver Age-inspired, four-color confection...like I said last week, mourn the lazy, cynical darkening of your superheroes no more. Instead, READ THIS COMIC!

Be sure to check out all of this week's reviews from Buzzscope's crack staff of reviewers - some of the best out there, if I may say so myself - as well as the latest Color Commentary column. While you're there, sign up and leave some feedback in the forum. It's one of the more level-headed boards out there and while the usual suspects get the most attention, there's plenty of room to talk about good comics, too.


19 May 2005

Review: Batman Begins' Smallville Preview

WOW should begin and end every sentence when speaking about Batman Begins. Last night, America was treated to a 10-minute preview of the future blockbuster, courtesy of the WB Network. At the end of the preview my first thought was, "WOW!" My second thought was, "Hopefully I won't die before June 15th." It sounds ridiculous, but it's true. That's what I thought.

Then I said another "WOW! "

It looks like Chris Nolan will have another quality movie under his belt with Batman Begins. If you haven't seen his last two films, do so. Memento is great, and Insomnia is solid.

The cinematography made the first impression. The trailers online are nice, but watching the scenes play out on TV really make it stand out. At the theater it will be even more impressive. You have beautiful establishing shots of the ice fields and mansion laid out right before you like paintings. The interior shots set a mood, a feeling, that just seems right for this film.

The preview clearly indicates to me that this is a film about a "superhero", not a "superhero" film. Do yourself a favor and watch Unbreakable if you have any questions about what I'm alluding too. This is not some over-stylized rendition of what Batman should be like, a la Tim Burton. It's Batman in the real world, or as close as you can come to it.

With June 15th quickly approaching the anticipation mounts. Hopefully the bubble will not burst underneath its own weight. Up to this point Batman Begins gets a resounding WOW! Now lets see if the movie can live up to it.

17 May 2005

Try Something Different: 5/18/05

Support Independent Comics!

Independent comics (and manga) being released tomorrow, 5/18/05, courtesy of ComicList. Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it.

Recommendations, sometimes blind, in BOLD. Which ones are YOU reading?

Bugtown #5 (Of 6), $2.95

Strange Eggs #1, $3.95

Heaven Sent #10 (Of 11), $2.99
Ninja High School #128, $2.99

Betty & Veronica Spectacular #70, $2.19
Jughead #165, $2.19
Sonic The Hedgehog #149, $2.19
Tales From Riverdale Digest #2, $2.39

Freakshow #6, $2.95

Simpsons Comics #106, $2.99

Bone Perfect Coll Act 3 Harvest Gift Set, $55.95

Classic Illus Jr #508 Goldilocks & Three Bears, $5.99

Conan #16, $2.99
Conan The Legend One Shot #0 (AA), AR
Dark Horse Book Of The Dead HC, $14.95
Goon #12, $2.99
Samurai Executioner Vol 4 TPB, $9.95
Star Wars Empire #31, $2.99
Star Wars Obsession #5 (Of 5), $2.99

D3 GI Joe Arashikage Showdown GN, $10.95
D3 Patrick The Wolf Boy Vol 2 Pkt TPB, $10.95

Drippytown Comics & Stories #4, $6.00

Full Cirkle Classic Silver Foil #1, $7.95
Full Cirkle Classic Silver Foil #2, $7.95

Donald Duck And Friends #328, $2.95
Mickey Mouse And Friends #277, $2.95

Stalagmite #2 (AA), $7.00

Heavy Metal July 2005, $5.99

30 Days Of Night Bloodsuckers Tales #8, $3.99
Castlevania The Belmont Legacy #3 (Of 5), $3.99
Dampyr #2 Night Tribe, $7.99
Easy Way #2 (Of 4), $3.99
Eric Reds Containment #5 (Of 5), $3.99

Dawn 2005 Convention Sketchbook One Shot, $2.95
Freedom Force #5 (Of 6), $2.95
Hero Camp #1 (Of 4), $2.95
Lions Tigers & Bears #4 (Of 4), $2.95
Mark Waid Hunter Killer Scriptbook #1, $4.99
Rex Mundi Vol 2 River Underground TPB, $14.95
Walking Dead Vol 3 Safety Behind Bars TPB, $12.95

Mam Tor Event Horizon Vol 1 Enhanced Fabry Cvr TPB, $21.95

First Kingdom Vol 1 TPB (Of 4), $17.95

Starship Troopers Blaze Of Glory Bk 1 GN (AA), $14.95

Cisco Kid Vol 1 TPB, $10.95

Miracleman #17 Platinum Archive Signed Ed, $99.95
Miracleman #17 Signed Ed, $18.95
Miracleman #22 Signed Ed, $12.95
Miracleman 3D #1 Platinum Archive Signed Ed, $99.95
Miracleman Apocrypha #1 Signed Ed, $14.95

Ojo TPB, $14.95
F Stop GN, $14.95

2000 AD #1435, $4.10
2000 AD #1436, $4.10
2000 AD Extreme Ed #9, $5.99

Fade From Blue #10 (Of 10), $4.95

Last Hope Vol 1 GN, $10.99

Classic Dan Dare Vol 5 Operation Saturn Part 1 HC, $19.95
Transformers Last Stand GN Px Ed, $24.95

Ai Yori Aoshi Vol 9 GN (Of 13), $9.99
Arcana Vol 1 GN (Of 3), $9.99
Arm Of Kannon Vol 6 GN (Of 8), $9.99
Crescent Moon Vol 6 GN (Of 6), $9.99
Dead End Vol 2 GN (Of 4), $9.99
Faeries Landing Vol 9 GN (Of 14), $9.99
Fruits Basket Vol 9 GN (Of 14), $9.99
Get Backers Vol 9 GN (Of 26), $9.99
Hyper Police Vol 3 GN (Of 9), $9.99
Instant Teen Just Add Nuts Vol 4 GN (Of 4), $9.99
Mahoromatic Automatic Maiden Vol 6 GN (Of 8), $9.99
Mouryou Kiden Legend Of The Nymphs Vol 3 GN (Of 3), $9.99
Neck And Neck Vol 3 GN (Of 4), $9.99
President Dad Vol 3 GN (Of 6), $9.99
Rebound Vol 14 GN (Of 18), $9.99
Saiyuki Vol 8 GN (Of 9) (resolicited), $9.99
Slayers Novel Vol 4 (Of 6), $7.99
Spongebob Squarepants Cinemanga Vol 8 GN (Of 12), $7.99
Tarot Cafe Vol 2 GN (Of 4), $9.99

The Sidekick Weekly: 5/11/05

[Trying something different here. Hope to make this a weekly post. Premise is simple.]

Here are the books I read this week:

Here's the general consensus on them from other blogs, forums, etc.:

  • Astonishing X-Men #10 - Folks love it. Joss & John, keep up the good work.
  • Green Lantern: Rebirth #6 - Fans are doing cartwheels for Hal Jordan's return, but the jury is still out in the court of public opinion on whether or not this reboot will earn the Green Lantern his seat back in the DC Pantheon. No surprises. Dialogue over-explains things at times.
  • Outsiders #23 - No comments found.
  • Wonder Woman #215 - No comments found.

And here's what I have to say that they didn't...sorta:

Astonishing X-Men #10
Heading home Wednesday night I saw a couple kids reading it on the subway. Man, I was so jealous. I could have been reading a newspaper from 20 years into the future and I'd still be trying to sneak a peek.

Nods to Nick Lowe and the edit staff. Mails to Astonish captures that old school "Make Mine Marvel" humor and positive vibe. Really completes the issue.

Green Lantern: Rebirth #6
Anti-climactic. What's up with panel 5 on page 13? The GL symbol replaces Hal's iris? A little over the top, no?

Folks are saying Hal represents the hopeful, traditional superhero. Perhaps DC will make him into their Captain America. You can draw a lot of similarities between the two characters. Wouldn't be such a bad direction to take, plausible without being a swipe.

Outsiders #23
Issue felt like a rip-off. I picked up last month's issue on a whim, seemed like they were going somewhere but neither the characterization or the art could hold my attention. I felt like an outsider.

Wonder Woman #215
Good issue for new readers...except for subplots & the whole Wonder Woman is blind thing. The main storyline - going to Hades to rescue Hermes - should be enough to keep readers curious for next issue. Rags Morales and Michael Bair's rendering of Wonder Woman accentuates her majesty and thighs that could crack skulls like they were walnuts.

That's all now, folks. Have a great week and remember to keep your expectations low for Revenge of the Sith.

Infinite Peace.

16 May 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 5/11/05

100 Girls: The First Girl, Vol. 1 (TPB)
Imagine 100 Girls is kind of what Marvel's X-23 might have been if it were more about the character and less about the editorially dictated metaplot...

BONUS: Interview: Girl Talk With Adam Gallardo

Araña #4
Almost a year after she was first introduced with much mainstream fanfare, Marvel's heralded Latina superheroine is still little more than a cipher, considerably less than the sum of her well-intentioned parts.

Elsinore #1
If art and atmosphere were everything, Elsinore would get an unqualified A+. An admirably ambitious debut that not only has me anticipating the next issue, but has me willing to take a second look at some of the other Alias titles I initially passed over.

Freedom Force #4
Dieter and Scioli remember that comics used to be fun, escapist entertainment. No more whining about Bendis killing Hawkeye and ruining your Avengers. Instead, READ THIS COMIC!

Be sure to check out all of this week's reviews from Buzzscope's growing staff of reviewers - some of the best out there, if I may say so myself - and while you're there, sign up and leave some feedback in the forum. It's one of the more level-headed boards out there and while the usual suspects get the most attention, there's plenty of room to talk about good comics, too.


PS: In my Sea of Red review last week, I offered FREE copies of the first two issues to anyone who commented with a reasonable defense of the issue and noticed over the weekend that for some reason, the comment thread for that particular review was inactive. So I'll repeat the offer here. Read the review, tell me why it [the issue, not the review!] doesn't suck here, and I'll send you FREE, my lightly-read copies of Sea of Red #1 & #2. You can pass them on, sell them on eBay, or burn them as an offering to Bendis or Millar. FYI: You don't have to change my mind - trust me, you can't - but as long as it's a rational defense, you win!

10 May 2005

Try Something Different: 5/11/05

Support Independent Comics!

Independent comics (and manga) being released tomorrow, 5/11/05, courtesy of ComicList. (NEW: Recommendations in BOLD.) Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it.

What are YOU reading?

Americas Greatest Comics #11, $6.95

Tactics Manga Vol 2 TPB, $9.99

Surviving Grady, $7.95

10th Muse Vol 1 TPB, $9.99
10th Muse Vol 2 #1, $2.99
10th Muse Vol 2 Photo Cvr Foil Ed #1, $4.99
Deal With The Devil #1 (Of 4), $0.75
Elsinore #1 (Of 9), $0.75
Judo Girl #1 (Of 4), $2.99
Killer Stunts Inc #1 (Of 4), $0.75
Legacy Manga Digest TPB, $9.99
Pakkins Land Vol 2 #1, $2.99
Soulcatcher GN, $4.99

Slave Labor Peepshow Vol 4 #5, AR

AP How To Draw Manga Next Generation #5, $4.95
I Hunt Monsters Vol 2 #5, $2.99
Mangazine Vol 3 #65, $9.99

Mike Hoffmans Chiller Theatre Con Sketchbook, $14.95

Pan Gea One Shot, $2.95

100 Girls Vol 1 First Girl TPB, $9.95
Starkweather #4, $2.95

Betty & Veronica Double Digest #133, $3.59
Veronica #161, $2.19

Soulfire Collected Ed #1, $6.99

Brian Pulidos Lady Death Abandon All Hope #1/2 Leather Cvr, $24.99
Friday The 13th Sp #1, $3.99
Friday The 13th Sp Glow Cvr #1, $14.99
Friday The 13th Sp Gore Cvr #1, $3.99
Friday The 13th Sp Platinum Foil Incentive #1, AR
Friday The 13th Sp Terror Cvr #1, $3.99
Friday The 13th Sp Wraparound Cvr #1, $3.99

Chemistry One Shot, $2.95

El Muerto Aztec Zombie #1 (AA)(Cold Cut Distribution), $3.95
Muerto Mish Mash #1 (Cold Cut Distribution), $2.95

Aquarian Age Juvenile Orion GN #5, $9.99

Pantheon 2 Pack, $5.00

Ashes #1 (Of 13)(Cold Cut Distribution), $4.50

Berserk Vol 7 TPB, $13.95
Blade Of The Immortal #101, $2.99
Conan & The Jewels Of Gwahlur #2 (Of 3), $2.99
Don Bluth Vol 1 Art Of Animation Drawing TPB, $14.95
Last Train To Deadsville Cal Mcdonald Mystery TPB, $14.95
Man With The Screaming Brain #1 (Of 4), $2.99
Star Wars Empire Vol 4 Heart Of The Rebellion TPB, $17.95
Star Wars Tales #23, $5.99
Star Wars Tales Photo Cvr #23, $5.99
Trigun Maximum Vol 5 Break Out TPB, $9.95
Usagi Yojimbo #83, $2.99

Tsubasa Vol 5 GN, $10.95

Digital Webbing Presents #22, $3.50
Digital Webbing Presents #23, $3.50

Crystal Ballroom HC (AA), $19.95
Death & Candy #4 (resolicited), $4.95

Living With Zombies #2, $2.50

Janes World #19, $5.95

Complete Jon Sable Freelance Vol 1 S/N HC, $50.00
Desperadoes Banners Of Gold #5 (Of 5), $3.99
Grimjack Killer Instinct #4 (Of 6), $3.99
Sencilla Fanta Ashley Wood Sketchbook, $40.00

Battle Hymn #2 (Of 5), $2.95
City Of Heroes Keown Cvr #1, $2.99
City Of Heroes Migliari Cvr #1, $2.99
City Of Heroes Perez Cvr #1, $2.99
Darkness #20, $2.99
Freedom Force #4 (Of 6), $2.95
Jack Staff #8, $3.50
Kane Vol 4 39th TPB, $16.95
Night Club #1 (Of 4), $2.95
PVP #17, $2.95
Raymond Feists Wood Boy #1 (Of 2), $2.95
Wanted HC, $29.99
Witchblade #85, $2.99
Witchblade New Dimension Gold Foil Exc #75, $12.00

Darkstalkers #1 Wonder Con Exclusive Reg Ed, $9.99
Darkstalkers #1 Wonder Con Exclusive Signed Ed, $19.99

Chickasaw Adventures #3 (Of 4), $2.99

Finder #36, $2.95

Event Horizon Vol 1 TPB, $19.95

Tales Of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #10, $3.25

Kolchak The Night Stalker Eve Of Terror GN, $5.95

Kickass Girl Skeletons In Closet #4, $2.99

Shanda The Panda #43, $4.99

Eclipse And Vega The Beds We Make #2, $2.95

Oddly Normal #2 (Of 4), $2.95
Random Encounter #2 (Of 4), $2.95

Cheeky Angel Vol 6 GN, $9.95
Dolls Vol 3 GN, $9.99
Excel Saga Vol 12 TPB, $9.99
Red River Vol 6 GN, $9.95
Shonen Jump Vol 3 June 2005 #6, $4.99

Nothing Left To Lose TPB, $6.99

09 May 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 5/4/05

Holy overload, Batman! That's a lot of comics!

Check out this week's reviews as I cover: Amelia Rules #0, Arcana Studios Presents #2, Flight Primer, Ronin Hood of the 47 Samurai, and Superior Showcase #0 from Free Comic Book Day. Plus, Damn Nation #3, Fade From Grace #5, Power Pack #2, and Sea of Red #2 from the usual Wednesday haul.

And while you're there, sign up and leave some feedback in the forum. It's one of the more level-headed boards out there and while the usual suspects get the most attention, there's plenty of room to talk about good comics, too.


06 May 2005

Free Comic Book Day Is Upon Us!

Support Independent Comics!

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day and to celebrate, I read EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of the 28 comics that will be available at finer comic book shops around the country, and in other parts of the world! Why would I do such a thing, you ask? So I could write up a comprehensive review of them for Buzzscope, that's why! Check it out here, along with an updated interview with FCBD founder, Joe Field. Good stuff!

Comics being released tomorrow, 5/7/05, courtesy of ComicList. To find a participating comics retailer near you, click here.

Which ones are you looking forward to?

Superior Showcase #0 FCBD Edition, AR

Alternative Comics Presents FCBD Ed 2005 Edition, AR

Arcana Studio Presents #2 FCBD Edition, AR

Betty & Veronica FCBD Edition #1, AR

Ronin Hood Of 47 Samurai #1 FCBD Edition, AR

Bongo Comics Gimme Gimme Giveaway FCBD Edition, AR

Mortal Coils Presents Free Bodies FCBD Edition, AR

FCBD Star Wars Edition, AR

Batman Strikes #1 FCBD Edition, AR

Devils Due FCBD Special Edition, AR

DST Bag O FCBD Minimates, AR

Adventures Of Paul FCBD Edition, AR

Funny Book FCBD Edition, AR

Walt Disneys Uncle Scrooge FCBD Edition, AR

Bone Sharps Cowboys Thunder FCBD Edition, AR

Flare FCBD Edition, AR

Flight Primer FCBD Edition, AR

Impact University FCBD Edition, AR

Johnny Raygun Freebie FCBD Edition, AR

Keenspot Spotlight 2005 FCBD Edition, AR

Comics Festival FCBD Edition, AR

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man & Fantastic Four FCBD Edition, AR

Oni Press Fist Fest Featuring Hysteria & Sharknife FCBD Ed, AR

Amelia Rules #0 FCBD Edition, AR

Runners #1 Remastered FCBD Edition, AR

Buzzboy Roboy Major Damage Triple Frosted Fun Comics FCBD Ed, AR

Owly Splashin Around FCBD Edition, AR

Wizard Presents The Top 100 TPs FCBD Ed, AR

03 May 2005

The SideKick: So, Against Better Judgement...

...I picked up X-Force #6. The final part of the 6 issue limited series, by the original series's creative combo of Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld.

My roommate walked into the living room while I was reading.

"What the hell is that?!"

"I know."

"Why? Did...did you buy this?"


"Ohmygod! Look at how he drew The Thing!"

"It's for my column."

"Oh...well I guess that explains it. Well, I'll leave you alone."

Rob Liefeld's art gets that reaction a lot and yet...to his credit...he hasn't changed a line. The dude is like the Jose Canseco of Comic Books. Like the Bash Brother, there was a time when Liefeld was hot sh*t. His pencils were exciting. His women were voluptuous. And he introduced a character, in Cable, who helped merge the loosely connected X-Men books into a bonafide franchise.

I'm not going the route of Liefeld bashing. Do a Google search and you'll find over a dozen sites doing just that.

And I'm not going to reminisce about the 1990's comic book market either.

Gee...that doesn't leave a whole lot to write about.

Well this is the SideKick. Does this issue stand on it's own?

Absolutely not. It's the last part of a 6 issue mini series and while Fabian Nicieza does his best to add storytelling and characterization, it all gets ruined by Liefeld's totally illogical final four pages and a blatant rip-off of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.

For those who remember the old X-Force series, this book is less awful. There are plenty of opportunities to cheer on Cannonball, Boomer and the rest of the team and having that background makes the first few pages read like fast-paced action blockbuster as opposed to a mess.

The one bright spot is that it seems the mini-series marks the end of the Liefeld era, at least at Marvel. One only wonders how this would have been received 10 years ago. Don't worry I won't lose any sleep.

Until next time...

Try Something Different: 5/4/05

Support Independent Comics!

Independent comics (and manga) being released tomorrow, 5/4/05, courtesy of ComicList. Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it.

What are you reading?

Following Cerebus #3 (AA), $3.95

Best Of The West #50, $6.95
Femforce New Millenium Coll Pack, $24.95
Women Of Mystery Pack, $44.95

Actor DFE Magdalena Preview Book (AA), $3.00
Actor DFE Transformers War Within Vol 3 #1 Foil Ed, $14.99
Actor DFE Witchblade Red Foil Ed #48, $5.00
Actor Identity Crisis #7 Sgn, $29.99
Actor Superman #204 Lee & Azzarello Sgn, $39.99
Actor Witchblade Magdalena Vampirella B&W Sketch Cvr, $3.00

Zig Zag #1, $5.95

Pirate Club #6, $2.95
Serenity Rose Vol 1 Working Through The Negativity TPB, $12.95

Gold Digger Swimsuit Special 2005 #1, $4.50
Luftwaffe 1946 Vol 5 #3, $5.95

Chase Vol 1 TPB, $9.95
Complete Darkham Vale TPB, $32.95

Archie & Friends #91, $2.19
Archie Digest #216, $2.39

Brian Pulidos Lady Death Abandon All Hope #1/2 Premium Cvr, $9.99
Brian Pulidos Lady Death Abandon All Hope #1/2 Ryp Cvr, $2.99
Brian Pulidos Lady Death Abandon All Hope #1/2 Wrap Cvr, $2.99
Brian Pulidos Lady Death Abandon All Hope #1/2, $2.99
Brian Pulidos Lady Death Abandon All Hope Plat Incentive Cvr, $3.75
Brian Pulidos Medieval Lady Death #2, $3.99
Brian Pulidos Medieval Lady Death Incentive #2, AR
Brian Pulidos Medieval Lady Death Premium Cvr #2, $9.99
Brian Pulidos Medieval Lady Death Wraparound #2, $3.99
Brian Pulidos War Angel #1 (Of 3), $3.50
Brian Pulidos War Angel Adrian Cvr #1 (Of 3), $3.50
Brian Pulidos War Angel Plat Foil Incentive #1 (Of 3), AR
Brian Pulidos War Angel Premium Cvr #1 (Of 3), $9.99
Brian Pulidos War Angel Ryp Cvr #1 (Of 3), $3.50
Brian Pulidos War Angel Wraparound Cvr #1 (Of 3), $3.50

Fade From Grace #5, $1.99

Lone & Level Sands GN, $9.95

Soulsearchers #71, $2.50

Brian Pulidos Lady Death Abandon All Hope #1/2 Gold Foil, $5.99
Brian Pulidos War Angel Gold Foil Cvr #1 (Of 3), $5.99

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Angel #1 (Of 3)(AA), $2.95
Concrete Human Dilemma #5 (Of 6), $3.50
Damn Nation #3 (Of 3), $2.99
Dark Horse Presents Annual 1997 (AA), $4.95
Eisner Miller TPB (resolicited), $19.95
Jingle Belle #4 (Of 4), $2.99
Little Lulu Vol 3 My Dinner With Lulu TPB, $9.95
Super Manga Blast #51, $5.99

Fernando Fernandezs Dracula GN, $14.95
Genshiken Vol 1 GN, $10.95
Nodame Cantiabile Vol 1 GN, $10.95
Richard Corbens Werewolf GN, $14.95

Stylish Vittles Vol 3 Fare Thee Well TPB, $13.00

Transformers The Wreckers Directors Cut #2, $8.99

Army Of Darkness Ashes 2 Ashes Con Foil Ed #1, AR
Army Of Darkness Vol 1 Ashes To Ashes Ltd Ed HC Sgn, $69.99
GI Joe Master & Apprentice Vol 1 TPB, $12.95
GI Joe Reloaded #14, $2.95
GI Joe Vs The Transformers Vol 2 TPB, $14.95
Street Fighter Vol 2 TPB, $13.99

DFE Red Sonja Foil Cvr #0, $10.00

Graphic Classics Vol 3 Hg Wells New Ptg, $11.95

Blecky Yuckerella GN, $11.95
Complete Peanuts Vol 3 1955-1956 HC, $28.95
Why Are You Doing This GN, $12.95

Mickey Mouse Adventures Vol 3 TPB, $7.95

Flare #5, $2.99

Bigfoot #3 (Of 4), $3.99
CSI Secret Identity #3 (Of 5), $3.99
Complete Jon Sable Freelance Vol 1 TPB, $24.99
Hell House Vol 3 TPB, $6.49

Casefiles Sam & Twitch #16 (resolicited), $2.50
Deadworld #1, $3.50
Felt True Tales Of Underground Hip Hop One Shot, $2.95
Houdini Man From Beyond GN, $16.95
Michael Turner Witchblade #4 Litho, $19.99
Monster War Magdalena Vs Dracula #1 (Of 4), $2.99
NYC Mech Beta Love #1, $2.95
Rising Stars Voices Of The Dead #1 (Of 6), $2.99
Savage Dragon Bust Sp Ed, $42.00
Sea Of Red #2, $2.95
Shadowhawk #1, $2.99
The Gift #11, $2.99
Ultra Vol 1 Seven Days HC Sgn, $39.95
Ultra Vol 1 Seven Days TPB, $17.95

Johnny Raygun Quad Pack, $8.95

Kolchak Tales Of Night Stalker #3 (AA), $3.50
Phantom #3 (AA), $3.50

Brutal Planet 4 Pack, $11.99

Furrlough #147, $3.50

2000 AD #1433, $4.10
2000 AD #1434, $4.10
Judge Dredd Megazine #231, $11.99

Burying Sandwiches (Cold Cut Distribution), $7.95

Jetta Tales Of The Toshigawa Vol 1 Defiance GN, $6.95

Transformers Last Stand GN, $19.95

Flower Of The Deep Sleep Vol 2 GN (Of 2), $9.99

Animerica May 05 Vol 13 #5, $4.99
Battle Angel Alita Vol 9 2nd Ed TPB, $9.95
Ceres Celestial Legend Vol 11 TPB, $9.95
Flowers And Bees Vol 7 TPB, $9.99
From Far Away Vol 4 GN, $9.99
Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 1 TPB, $9.99
No Need For Tenchi Vol 3 2nd Ed TPB, $9.99
Please Save My Earth Vol 10 TPB, $9.99
Ranma 1/2 Vol 17 2nd Ed TPB, $9.95
Ranma 1/2 Vol 18 2nd Ed TPB, $9.95
Ranma 1/2 Vol 30 TPB, $9.95
W Juliet Vol 4 GN, $9.99
X/1999 Vol 18 Inversion TPB, $9.95

02 May 2005

CBC INFO: Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Just a little heads-up on some changes afoot here at CBC. Most significant, in terms of content, is that I will no longer be posting current reviews, including ménage à trois, or interviews here. The Editor is a megalomaniacal control freak who insists on...

Oh, wait, wrong site! I'm the Editor here!

Seriously, though, last week I signed on with the recently re-launched Buzzscope.com - f/k/a PopCultureShock.com - one of my favorite comics sites that's home to some of the funniest, enlightening, and insightful columns on the internet. They also publish weekly reviews to which I'll be contributing my fair share, starting with today's role call of last Wednesday's comics, with reviews of Batgirl #63, The Losers #23, Lullaby #2, Red Sonja #0, and the newest addition to my 2005 Top 10 (so far...), 15 Minutes #3. Check them out and leave some comments behind!

[NOTE: I began adding all Buzzscope/PCS reviews to the CBC archives as of 7/2/06.]

I'll also be contributing interviews, as well as a feature package now and then, a la the Free Comic Book Day roundup that was just greenlit and should go up either Friday or Saturday. My goal is to take advantage of their larger audience to continue to spotlight good comics, particularly the underappreciated indies and underdogs of the Big Two, as well as the creators busting their asses to make those comics good.

You can follow me specifically here, but I'd also encourage you to bookmark the site itself and make it a regular stop on your comic book-related travels. They also cover games, toys, movies, music and more, so definitely check it out!

As for CBC, we'll still be here patrolling our little corner of the comics blogiverse, and hopefully some of our less-frequent contributors will step up to fill the void, particularly with coverage of the current stuff. I'll still be contributing the occasional Retro review (a bunch of old EPIC comics have been trying to get my attention for weeks now) and commentary, as well as minding the store in general. Even though the FAQ says we're not currently looking for more contributors, unless it's another female, I'd love to hear from anyone who might be interested in contributing a weekly review roundup of current stuff. Drop me a line at glecharles at gmail if you're interested. If you've contacted me before, drop me another line to show you're still reading along!

Change is good sometimes, and I'm looking forward to this one. Thanks for reading!

REVIEW: Lullaby: Wisdom Seeker #2

All-ages fantasy stories are apparently the new zombies, and Alias seems to be trying to corner the market, making a splash with a trio of mini-series -- Lullaby; Lions, Tigers and Bears; The Imaginaries -- squarely targeted at the sub-genre. Cleverly promoted with the high-concept blurb "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Shrek," creator/artist Hector Sevilla has combined an engaging cast of familiar characters from the best of children's literature -- Alice, Jim Hawkins, Pinocchio, Little Red Riding Hood and the Pied Piper, among others -- and thrown them into a world where magic has gone awry and "a big, bad something" lurks in the background.

Sevilla's character designs -- from the lupine Red Riding Hood to Hawkins' shark-headed sword -- are unique and distinctive, and the fantasy world he's placed them in is vividly depicted, partly thanks a complementary assist from a trio of colorists. The dark, magic-infused 8-Balls Hawkins confronts are particularly impressive, large winged whale-like creatures ready to pounce on a fleeing Hansel & Gretel before the wayward, land bound pirate saves the day. Of all the characters, Hawkins is the most engaging, having embarked upon a quest to see the Wizard in the hopes that he will restore his wooden friend Pinocchio's humanity. Equally impressive, if somewhat off-putting is his Alice, the Hand of the Queen of Hearts, a buxom teenager whom Sevilla frequently over-endows in ways more fitting for Red Sonja than a purported all-ages heroine.

Wonderful artwork aside, Lullaby lives and dies on its storyline, and it's an ambitious one, attempting to weave together disparate story elements from a wide range of source material into a unique and cohesive tale. Whereas the first issue suffered from an awkward transition between its two main stories, scripters Mike S. Miller and Ben Avery have a tougher time with the more complex plotting Miller and Andres Ledesma have put forth in this issue. Combining four different storylines, two of which clearly converge while the other two do so more subtly, the transitions are again handled awkwardly, sometimes abruptly. It's a cinematic approach that doesn't quite work on the page, partly because there's so much story crammed into the issue...in and of itself an admirable "problem" to have to deal with. The use of colored narration boxes isn't always enough to distinguish between the characters' too-similar voices, either. At the same time, it's the individual strengths of each character that makes it all work, simultaneously familiar and unique as they are. Hawkins again stands out the best in that regard as Lullaby's Han Solo.

While "all-ages" is something of a subjective term these days, Sevilla and Co. are undoubtedly putting together an intriguing tale that, like Shrek and every single PIXAR movie to date, appeals on multiple levels. While I suspect it will read even better if/when it's collected in trade form, it's a worthy monthly pull and I'm looking forward to the next issue.

Lullaby: Wisdom Seeker #2, (Image/Alias Enterprises, April 2005; $2.95); Written by Mike S. Miller, Ben Avery and Andres Ledesma, Art by Hector Sevilla.

REVIEW: Batgirl #63

Post-"War Games", writer Andersen Gabrych is slowly but surely turning Batgirl into the most satisfying Bat-book not named Gotham Central. Freed from the angst-ridden constraints of patrolling the streets of Gotham City in Batman's shadow -- and to a lesser degree, Oracle's -- Batgirl is on her own, relocating to the mean streets of Blüdhaven and carving her own niche out of one of the darker alleys of the DC Universe.

After ruining the also-relocated Penguin's arms deal by taking down the Brotherhood of Evil last issue, this time around he raises the stakes, bringing in Deathstroke to take her out in one of the better-orchestrated, and thankfully low-key, Infinite Crisis tie-ins yet. The latter half of the issue features an awkwardly choreographed fight scene that nevertheless does a good job of depicting how formidable a fighter Batgirl is, her ability to read body language and react accordingly serving her well against a similarly skilled opponent who very recently took down the JLA's B-team single-handedly. While artist Alé Garza has a couple of Liefeld moments with Deathstroke, for the most part he comes through with another solid effort here as his ability to capture Batgirl's essence, a lethal assassin with an inferiority complex, makes the extended fight scene work.

The beauty of Gabrych's nascent run on Batgirl, though, is on display in the first half of the story as he continues to develop the Cassandra Cain side of the character, exploring her new surroundings as well as her efforts to overcome her illiteracy and break out of her defensive shell. He's introduced a new supporting cast on the civilian side and uses them to effectively do what Marvel is so desperately attempting with Ara ña, offering readers a strong but flawed, young female lead who is capable of standing on her own two feet. There's a scene shortly before Deathstroke arrives, where Cassie witnesses her first mosh pit and is immediately drawn to it, jumping in and letting loose in a way Garza makes clear is completely liberating for her. It's a nice moment and a sign of Gabrych getting that there's so much more to the character than just another Bat-sidekick in tight black spandex.

There's a bit of a cliffhanger at the end that Gabrych sets up an emotional parallel for in the opening scene where Cassie goes through her morning routine, noting there's only one difference between the past and the present: "I'm not my father's daughter." It's a declaration of independence from her childhood father, the assassin David Cain, as much as it is from her current father figure, Batman. Though he's still a significant presence in the background, Batgirl is quickly becoming her own woman, and as a result, Batgirl stands on its own merits as one of the best comics DC is publishing right now.

Batgirl #63, (DC, April 2005; $2.50); Written by Andersen Gabrych, Art by Alé Garza, Jesse Delperdang and Andrew Pepoy.

Review: Red Sonja #0

Damn Kurt Busiek and his unexpectedly enjoyable revitalization of Conan! If not for him, I wouldn't have taken a chance on Red Sonja, a comic book I was pretty sure I wouldn't like from the minute I first saw its Greg Land cover. The easy thing would be to simply say you get what you pay for and move on, but I like to do things the hard way and will figure how to belabor the obvious in as interesting a manner as possible.

Cheesecake aside -- and this comic is pure cheesecake with a faux-gritty graham cracker frosting -- there's really not much "here" to work with. Whereas Conan #0 hooked me with Busiek's well-written and intriguing [re-]introduction to the infamous barbarian, throwing in three pages of sketches and an engaging interview with artist Cary Nord, Dynamite goes the cheap route, offering nothing more than an over-written, under-developed interlude that tells little about Sonja beyond showing that she's a skilled fighter with a great body. Emphasis on the latter as Mel Rubi delivers the fan service with appreciative angles and multiple close-ups of her breasts and posterior, aka T&A, that leads one character to comment as she checks her out:

"You're a strong woman. You fear no man..." [Breast shot.]

"You're a warrior.." [Crotch shot.]

"Here, have some bread -- a gift!" [Close-up of Sonja holding loaf of bread to her slightly parted lips, followed by one of her seemingly deep-throating it.]
WTF, Mel?!?!

The story, such that it is, begins with Sonja walking through a rain-drenched village where a threat seems to lurk in every corner, held at bay only by a knowing glance. It is told awkwardly by Jessa, a bartender with a taste for flowery narration who is made to set Sonja up, slipping a roofie into her drink so that an unidentified group of men who have been stalking her can take her out easily. They make their move after she passes out drunk, only to be surprised when she leaps up ready to fight when the arrows start flying towards her. For some reason, though, she waits until after her sword and dagger are lifted from her seemingly unconscious person, leaving her with nothing but a splintered table and some Steven Seagal moves to take them all down with, which of course she does, and with nary a single unnecessary close-up of either of the two parts of her body that are covered in chainmail. Leaving only one witness alive to tell the tale, her legend presumably grows.

If Jessa were narrating this review, she'd probably describe the divide between this version of Red Sonja and Busiek's Conan something like this: "There was a great mountain with a shallow river at its base. The mountain kissed the sky, and even on the cloudiest of days, it called out to us, challenging us to scale its height. The river below, while suitable for bathing, was unable to quench our thirsts when we returned."

More simply put, you do get what you pay for, and $0.25 doesn't get you much of anything these days. In this case, it isn't getting me to stick around for the next issue.

Red Sonja #0, (Dynamite Entertainment, April 2005; $0.25); Written by Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Carey, Art by Mel Rubi.

REVIEW: The Losers #23

Most mainstream comic books these days ride a rickety wooden roller coaster throughout their ever-shortening life spans, offering an uneven mix of definitive and forgettable story arcs before inevitably being rebooted by some flavor-of-the-month talent in the kind of short-term thinking that brought down corporations like Enron and Worldcom. Then there are comic books like The Losers, defined by a singular creative vision that, hopefully, is allowed to carry through to its organic conclusion and then able to rest in peace. Typically, though, these types of comics die on the vine, languishing in obscurity as they are ignored by the spandex-loving lemmings who dictate the Big Two's publishing slates, preferring their four-color confections to mimic Hollywood's approach to summer blockbusters: keep it simple, stupid.

Thankfully, there are imprints like Vertigo, and comics like The Losers -- DC's Yang to their Yin of, say, Jeph Loeb's simple-minded Superman/Batman series? -- that reject the lowest common denominator approach to publishing and take a gamble on the other end of the spectrum.

Ironically, The Losers would make a great summer Hollywood blockbuster -- or an AiT/PlanetLar monthly -- equal parts The A-Team, Three Kings and Armageddon. Andy Diggle knows how to write smart action stories and with The Losers, he adds a cynical political edge to the mix that will tickle the conspiracy theorists out there while pissing off the "it's all good" conservatives who prefer their worlds painted only in black and white. Diggle has successfully weaved together a tangled plot of international intrigue and paranoia, supported on the backs of an appealing cast, and this issue begins a new arc, "Anti-Heist," where he does a nice job of recapping the events so far without stalling the engine. He doesn't quite pull off a clean "jump-on point" for new readers, though. It's more like a "go buy the trades and catch up point" as the already thickened plot gets even thicker when a new piece of the puzzle falls into place as the Losers realize Max, the shadowy mastermind they've been tracking down in order to clear their names, isn't who, or what, they thought he was. And what is partly revealed/partly hinted at in this issue, is much worse than they thought.

"Max wants to be able to see this little barbeque from space."

Jock returns on art, bringing his distinctive, cinematic flair that is as much a signature of this comic as is Diggle's crisp plotting and scripting. His layouts are always energetic, even the talking head scenes, as he deftly mixes up his angles and perspective to match the fast pace of the script -- no Bendis-style decompression here -- and despite this being a rare issue where nothing blows up and no one gets shot, he still manages to get across the underlying sense of urgency. The only misstep he makes is on his usually perfect cover, misrepresenting Aisha, the only female character in the book, a mysterious badass who'd sooner slit your throat than pose in a bikini. On the other hand, it could infer a possible not-so-deadly-serious side of the no-nonsense assassin, so maybe it was purposeful? Either way, if it manages to catch the wandering eye of a fanboy or two and gets them to pick up the issue, it's a minor complaint as The Losers deserves a much wider audience than it’s currently getting.

NOTE: Next month's "Trifecta" TPB collects issues #13-19, and the first two TPBs as well as the previous three-issue arc are still relatively easy to track down. Don't wait for the movie; jump on The Losers now!

The Losers #23, (DC/Vertigo, April 2005; $2.99); Written by Andy Diggle, Art by Jock.

REVIEW: 15 Minutes #3

"In the future, everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes." In this era of 24-hour news channels and Reality TV, Andy Warhol's prophetic quote has practically come true. Why should superheroes be any different?

That's the angle Bob Elinskas comes from with 15 Minutes, an appealing combination of Troy Hickman's Eisner-nominated Common Grounds and Marvel's Great Lakes Avengers played straight, featuring poignant snapshots of D-list superheroes and villains, as told through the eyes of the everyday civilians whose lives they affect. While the basic premise isn't terribly original, the execution is near-perfect as Elinskas packs more emotional subtext into each short story than most writers manage in multiple story arcs.

This issue features only two stories, the third replaced by artist David Hedgecock's Sketchbook, which includes insightful tidbits on the various characters from the first two issues that smartly doubles as an enticing "what you missed" promo. Hedgecock's style is graffiti-esque, cartoony but not unrealistic, and Mike Kelleher's inking nicely complements his work. Anyone that can look at Captain Frogfish, an 80-year old Captain Freedom, or the Amazing Puma -- whose story in #2 stands out as the best of the series so far -- and not be intrigued is even more jaded than I am.

The lead story, "After the Fall," focuses on an unnamed, self-proclaimed "newest hero in town" -- Cary Mitchell, wife and mother of two, whose first mission ends in tragedy. Elinskas presents a wonderful contrast between Cary's wannabe superhero and the everyday heroism of the police, represented by Officer McCleen who has to deliver the bad news to Cary's husband. McCleen, also a wife and mother of two, ponders why a woman like Cary would "put on a costume and stand between two robbers and the door?" and Hedgecock effectively uses a full page of silence to let it all sink in. This easily ranks as the second best story in the series to date.

The second story, "Secret Identities," is a much more light-hearted look at life as a superhero as normal guy, Walter, believes he's stumbled upon the secret identity of the American Avenger when he accidentally opens the wrong locker at the gym, finding the unmistakable costume hanging in his friend Lance's locker. "What do you do at that moment? These are my fifteen minutes, even if no one knows it." At a time when superheroes are getting their heads blown off, and women are raped and tortured for shock effect in crass attempts to capitalize on a presumed thirst for even more darkness in our post-9/11 world, this is a welcome spin on an identity crisis that doesn't end in tragedy.

Three issues in, Elinskas, Hedgecock and Kelleher are delivering as enjoyable a comic book as anything on the shelves right now, and if Hickman can snag an Eisner nomination for Common Grounds, this trio should clear a space on their shelves for their own trophy next year.

15 Minutes #3, (SLG Publishing/Amaze Ink, April 2005; $3.95); Written by Bob Elinskas, Art by David Hedgecock, Mike Kelleher.

01 May 2005

Free Trade Guerrilla: Queer Eye for the Meta Guy

With this...

I say "THANKS!" to Brandon and anyone else associated with Superman Returns for throwing two strikes on this movie before it even hits the editing room! Somebody invest in some foam! Hire BALCO and hook him up with some Cream and Clear. Someone up the CGI budget, please.

Do something. Anything!

Physique issues aside, the trademark S is looking more like an Izod Lacoste logo than the symbol for Truth, Justice and the American Way. And what up with the name buckle, bro? That shit went out with Freestyle and skinny ties!

The color palette is also distinctly brand Eecch! (Cool points if you get that reference.) The primary lexicon in our comic mythology is looking very dark here, people.

Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a purist. I have no problems with updated uniforms for the sake of a better film. I thought that the black leather X-costumes worked a hell of a lot better than the originals; especially when you take into account that the movie goes out of its way to emphasize that the X-Men are supposed to be a clandestine operation, not ATTACK OF THE BARNUM & BAILEY'S REJECTS!

Ditto on Spider-Man. I heard mad rumblings from fanboys that the loss of the web-spinners was a tragedy of the highest order. Pssst! Guys! How do you think that a teenager that possess the only patent on a polymer that would put 3M out of business in a heartbeat would stay a dead broke sucker living with his aunt in Queens other than that he also inherited the proportionate business savvy of an arachnid as well? Giving Peter Parker organic webs is a master storytelling stroke that I am SURE Stan Lee would go back and fix if he could.

The updated Daredevil and Bullseye costumes looked awesome on the big screen that and the truly badass version of Kingpin were just about the only saving graces to a film that was the cinematic equivalent of a marathon run on a treadmill. But "BOO!" to the fool that decided Elektra should go with a more realistic look. Depriving her of her one and only actual superpower: The ability to throw men and women off their game plan as they simultaneously ponder--

How does that all stay in place?

And if you think that this is all just splitting hairs, please note how quickly a surefire billion-dollar franchise went to the toilet the minute the costume went from this to this(?!?)

Much of my hope for Batman Begins lies in the fact that they went with a minimalist bad ass look for our new dark knight.

Which just proves that everything goes full circle as the powers that be behind Superman Returns are trying to get us back to the Superman of the 70s.

No, not this classic figure:

More like this:

(David Wilson as Superman, circa 1975 ABC)

With all this said, remember the immortal words of Fernando: "It's better to look good than to feel good!"