31 October 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 10/26/05

Fear Agent #1
Remender's anachronistic snark adds an interesting layer to the story as he firmly establishes that Fear Agent's setting isn't a simple derivative of the usual touchstones; it's not "like Star Wars" or "similar to Buzz Lightyear."

Young Avengers #8
Allan Heinberg still shines as one of Marvel's best scripters, nailing the pacing, snappy dialogue and ensemble feel of the book…and though I'm on the fence about the disappointing turn of events in this issue, I still can't wait for the next one.

Bunch of good stuff on the site the past few weeks, so just click on over and poke around for a bit. I'm too tired and busy at the 9-to-5 to get into specifics today.

27 October 2005

Buzzscope: What's a Nubian? #1

When I first came across PopCultureShock.com last year, it was the combination of the favorable response in their forums to the announcement of Reggie Hudlin taking on Black Panther (in contrast to the immediate sniping over at NEWSarama and throughout the comics blogosphere, with ignorant comments like, "Oh no! He's going to gangstify the Black Panther!"), and the "Color Commentary" column that surveyed black characters' appearances each month, that landed it a spot in my bookmarks. Of course, Hudlin turned out to be a bit of a dud, and "Color Commentary" disappeared before really fulfilling its promise, but those two things still suggested an appealing level of inclusiveness not seen on the other major sites that kept me going back, and eventually signing on as a contributor when they relaunched as Buzzscope.

Fast forward, and I've since taken over as Senior Comics Editor, and one of my primary goals is to expand that sense of inclusiveness, not just in terms of balancing our Marvel/DC:Indie coverage, but also with regard to audience representation, ie: women and minorities.

On the women's side of things, we have both Rambunctious Ronée and Friends of Lulu in the mix, not to mention the estimable Comics Shrew as one of our best reviewers; and there's at least one more columnist of note forthcoming, hopefully in time for the January relaunch.

Meanwhile, with "Color Commentary" on indefinite hiatus, I turned to Glyphs Online's Rich Watson and convinced him to join the Buzzscope Bullpen with a monthly column not just previewing upcoming appearances by black characters and creators, but also offering his own intelligent commentary on them, on the industry, and on the unique issues facing both characters and creators of color. His first offering, "What's a Nubian? #1" went up today.

We’re anomalies. Aberrations.

It’s like this: while we may enjoy rap music, we don’t wear our jeans halfway down our ass or buy jewelry that we need to take out a bank loan to pay for. While we may dig basketball, we don’t wear jackets with NBA logos speckled all over the front and back like a tool. While we may laugh our asses off at Dave Chappelle, we demand more from television than “bling bling” music videos, and more from Hollywood than movies like Soul Plane. And most importantly… while we may enjoy reading and know how to speak articulately, not only does that not mean we’re “acting white,” we reject outright the entire notion of “acting white,” or “acting black,” for that matter...

Where are the comics fans of color? We’re here, there, and everywhere.

And the time has come for us to stand up and be counted.
I'm thrilled to have him onboard and am looking forward to his column, every 4th Thursday of the month. Check it out and leave him a comment in the forums welcoming him to the site.

And keep an eye out for more announcements over the next couple of months.

25 October 2005

COMMENT: September's G*ddamn Sales Figures

Over on the Buzz Blog, I posted some comments on September's sales figures that saw All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder #2 top the list with approximately 178,000 copies pre-sold to the direct market. Further down the chart, though, something else caught my eye:

ARANA #8 (13,758) and #9 (12,920) both outsold the series that spawned her, AMAZING FANTASY #12 (11,983), though Araña can presumably look to its digest collections to justify its continued existence. She's also outselling Indie darlings (and Premier Publisher counterparts) GIRLS #5 (12,002), INVINCIBLE #26 (11,574) and SEA O/RED #4 (4,764), despite Marvel's pretty much abandoning its promotional efforts on behalf of the series.
Girls, Invincible and Sea of Red are three of Image's most promoted, highly regarded series around, and yet they're not outselling Araña, which by most accounts, has been a relative disappointment over its 15-issue run (including Amazing Fantasy #1-6).

Wassup with that?

The cynical answer, of course, is that the average comics fan doesn't read beyond their Marvel/DC pull lists and their favorite characters. But cynicism, as much as I prefer it to optimism, sometimes masks other truths. Whatever you might think about Araña - IMO, a well-intentioned, but ill-conceived mess of a comic book - you could make a similar case for the other three titles. Personally, I think Girls is one of the lamer indie darlings on the stands, featuring clichéd dialogue and cardboard thin characters hiding behind a somewhat intriguing plot. (Though not intriguing enough to keep me buying it past the the 4th issue.) Sea of Red is a similarly overrated, pretentious muddling of genres in an attempt to lift the artform, or some such hyperbolic crap; and the little bit I've read of Invincible left me as cold as my first reading of Ultimate Spider-Man, Vol. 1 last week, both trite rehashes of been-there-done-that superheroing that pale in comparison to their inspirations.

Now, Image is a "Premier Publisher" - a point some of the creators under its umbrella are way too fond of pointing out - with invaluable front of Previews real estate, and arguably the recipient of far more Wizard-love than Araña ever received, and yet...

Funny how Araña's numbers are spun as being a result of it being a bad comic book, while the others are given a free pass because, you know, comics fans teh suck!


On the Shelves: 10/26/05

Support GOOD Comics! Try something new EVERY month!

My weekly look at select comic books being released tomorrow, 10/26/05. The full shipping is list available at ComicList.

[NOTE: 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. If not, find another one; or try Khepri.com or MidtownComics.com]

Sinbuck Angel Eyes Wwcg Ed TPB, $14.95

This gets the prize for Best Title of the Week. Mainly because it's a light week, and I have no idea what "Wwcg" means.

Revelations #3 (Of 6), $2.99

Last issue took an interesting little turn, so I guess I'm now hooked for the duration. Ramos' art is really what edges it over the line.

Losers #29, $2.99
Loveless #1, $2.99
Silent Dragon #4 (Of 6), $2.99

Yay, Andy Diggle Week! Loveless, meanwhile, seems like it might not be quite as good as its premise sounded when I first heard about it. I still associate Azzarello with the reprehensible Cage mini-series from a few years back, and his lackluster ending to the recent Lex Luthor mini didn't help matters.

Lost Squad #1, $2.95

I like what they're doing with G.I. Joe: America's Elite, so this gets an in-store flip-through.

Age Of Bronze #21, $3.50
Ferro City #3, $2.99

Shadowhawk #6, $3.50
Spawn #150, $4.95

Age of Bronze and Ferro City both sound really interesting, so I think it's time I finally checked them out. Spawn may get a looksee, too, just so I can stay on top of the "little events" in the industry. ShawdowHawk #6 concludes the fun crossover with Blacklight.

Amazing Fantasy #14, $2.99
Black Panther #9, $2.99
Black Widow 2 #2 (Of 6), $2.99
Captain America #11, $2.99
Daredevil #78, $2.99
Defenders #4 (Of 5), $2.99
Marvel Monsters Monsters On The Prowl, $3.99
New Avengers #12, $2.50
New X-Men Academy X Yearbook Special, $3.99
Young Avengers #8, $2.99

Whoa! This is the biggest Marvel week for me in ages, even with Hudlin's Black Panther getting the axe. (That's right; mid-arc, too. Homie don't play the completist game! Not as long as there's eBay and dollar bins, at least.) The New X-Men Academy X Yearbook Special is DeFillippis and Weir's farewell on the title they made interesting as the New Mutants before the editorially mandated Reloaded stunt gutted their character-driven approach in favor of yet another team book. PS: Ronin is Paul Jenkins.

Adventures Of Bio Boy #2, $2.99
Hero At Large #2, $2.99

Both of these had mildly appealing debuts, but they're nowhere near being Pull List candidates yet.

Crowpsey Rufus & Leveland Vol 1, $6.95

Didn't I buy this already, at Wizard World Philadelphia? Is it really just coming out now? Ken Knudtsen is a nice guy, but his comics work is really weird.

Super F$$$$$S #2, $5.00

I just don't get the Cult of Kochalka. The couple of things I've read from him didn't appeal to me, and the internet love the first issue of this title received struck me as a particularly embarassing example of indie zombie madness. To each his own.

24 October 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 10/19/05

After last week's no-show, this week I've got two really good ones!

X-Men and Power Pack #1
Cynical bastards who'd rather question Wolverine and Sabretooth's convenient presence in the woods, or where this story fits in Runaways continuity need not even bother pick it up. They wouldn't understand. Everyone else, stop complaining about "What if Scarlet Witch Really Screwed Things Up?" and pick this up!

Something So Familiar
Something So Familiar evokes the visual power of Kyle Baker's Nat Turner and the poetic impressionism of Joshua W. Cotter's Skyscrapers of the Midwest, marking Alex Cahill as an artist to keep a close eye on.

Our Weekly Roundup is up, a little light this week, but with another good reviewer coming onboard next week, and a couple of others I have my eye on hopefully on deck, by the end of the year I think we'll be cranking out some really good, wide-ranging Roundups on a more regular basis. In other news, Rambunctious Ronée's latest column not only has our forums in a tizzy, it's even spread over to the Bendis Board. Fanboy Rampage closed shop a week too soon!

A No-Prize for the first person to identify the "sour grapes" post in the Bendis Board thread. ;-)

LINK: When Comics and Politics Clash!

Over at Newsarama, a lively debate sprung up on their message boards. That's nothing new to Newsarama regulars, though. They have one of the most active forums on the web. Fans regularly log on to bitch *cough, cough* discuss topics related to comic books, but this one was slightly different. This time the "Hero" being written about holds a dubious place in history. Not the comic continuity type of history, real life history, as in you and me. The topic in the fanboy's crosshairs this time is Che Guevara.

For those of you who don't know who he is, here is a quick lesson. Che is the face on T-shirts that, if not looked at directly, could be easily mistaken for Bob Marley. Now if you'd like more info than that, check out a little thing called Google. (Word on the street is that Google is gonna be big. Back to the topic.)

The book being reviewed by Newsarama is a fictional and exaggerated view of Che. Written by Ian Harker, THE EPIC & TRUE* LIFE STORY OF CHE GUEVARA is published by Triumvirate Press. If you have a few minutes, I suggest you take a look at the two pages of comments that immediately follow the review. An interesting range of viewpoints are posted. When comics and politics clash, there are no holes barred. When Matt Brady, the site administrator, tries to focus the discussion thread to the review of the book, he is quickly shot down. He comes off like that teacher who couldn't corral the rowdy kids in class.

Take a look. You may enjoy it as much as I did.

Till next time.

21 October 2005

LINK: Wisdom of the Batman

Batman: "Nobody wants war."
Robin: "Gee, Batman. Belgravia's such a small country. We'd beat them in a few hours."
Batman: "Yes, and then we'd have to support them for years."

Batman's a better war planner than anyone in the Bush Administration apparently.

Thanks to Batman Lecturing Robin.

20 October 2005

CBC Quickees: Home Sick Edition

Can't title these by the previous Wednesday anymore since my posting schedule and To Read pile are wildly out of sync. Been home sick most of this week, though, and have been able to cut the pile almost in half. Rocketo #1 and XIII #1 are still buried at the bottom, and I'm thinking I've given up on following either of them.

Infinite Crisis #1 and House of M #7: Seemingly every comics blogger and their mother has offered some sort of commentary on these two blockbusters, so I'm going to split my two cents between them. IC was overly dependent on continuity, not just from Countdown and the four lead-in mini-series, but from 20 years of stories going all the way back to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. (Which, BTW, I now want to re-read, so I guess that's not a total failure.) The final page reveal didn't have any significant impact for me until I read that Newsarama article which broke it all down rather nicely. Nevertheless, reading a comic book shouldn't be the equivalent of writing a research paper, so while I'm onboard, I'm not quite thrilled. HoM, on the other hand, finally kicks into high gear with its impressively emotional penultimate chapter. I'm still not convinced it all really matters, that it's not simply one big retcon wrapped in What If...? clothing, but on its own merits, #7 was a great read.

Daredevil #77: Knowing almost nothing about current DD continuity, I thought that was a nice little twist at the end here, though I'm starting to wonder what Brubaker and Lark are going to have to work with when Bendis wraps things up. Especially if the New Avengers' Ronin does, in fact, turn out to be Daredevil.

The New Avengers #11: I wanted to drop this after the ridiculous Sentry arc, but I flipped through it in the store the Wednesday it came out and got caught up in Bendis' cat-and-mouse game over the identity of Ronin. On one hand, it's so obvious that it's Daredevil in a different costume. On the other hand, I've read some interesting theories about him being anyone from Shang-Chi to Night Thrasher to, highly unlikely, Elektra. While I'm sure Marvel is thrilled about the amount of speculation over the character's identity, they're setting themselves up for some serious backlash if it's anyone other than Daredevil. People can deal with predictability, but random bait-and-switches rarely go over well.

Super-Crazy TNT Blast! #1: Weird that the odd title that got me to buy it in the first place, was the same thing that kept it from reaching the top of my To Read pile for a few weeks. A fun, kinetic setup issue that posits a world where all of the super-powered heroes have been killed off and only the gimmicky ones remain as mankind's last defense against the "Magnate," an Annihlus/Baron Karza-type extra-dimensional bad guy. Fun stuff, with appealing art from Tim Kane, I'll give the second issue a looksee.

Snake Eyes: Declassified #2-3: Snake Eyes' origin story picks up steam in the 3rd issue, with odd shades of Batman Begins. As with Dark Horses' Conan, I'm officially a G.I. Joe fanatic! Am I hurting comics?

Finder #38: One of the biggest complaints about mainstream comics these days is their relative impenetrability thanks to decades of convoluted continuity. Finder suffers from a similar problem, a reasonably entertaining read who's lack of context diminishes its impact a bit. Not something I'd likely seek out again, unfortunately. I am hurting comics, aren't I?

The Bakers #1: As much as I loved Nat Turner, which was printed on the same cheap paper and sported the same $3 cover price, this series of mildly entertaining snapshots of Kyle Baker's family life felt like a self-indulgent ripoff. Nevertheless, better this than Ant or The Gift, no? So as not to hurt comics, of course.

Amelia Rules! #15: If Jimmy Gownley is able to squeeze one more issue out before the end of the year, something will be getting bumped from my Top 10 list. (NYC Mech, most likely, which is there largely on the strength of its stunning 2nd issue.) As it is, they're all going to get a closer look after this wonderful issue's heart-stopping cliffhanger left me anxiously awaiting the next. Amelia does, in fact, rule. And proves that I am not hurting comics, I'm just selective! ;-)

Franklin Richards: Son of Genius #1: Collecting the shorts that originally appeared as backups in the Power Pack mini-series, along with a newer story - two words: Jell-O clones - that's also in the Halloween Ashcan that my son claimed for himself, only the most heartless and soulless of comic book fans could possibly not love this. Heartless. Soulless. And, BTW, hurting comics.

The Goon 25¢ Issue: Kinda fun, and well-timed considering my heightened interest in "monster comics" these days, it did what many other promotionally priced issues haven't recently: caught my attention and left me curious.

Batman: Gotham County Line #1: Oooh, Batman + zombies = cool. The Bat-Jetpack was kind of silly, though. And $5.99/issue is kinda steep. Might wait for the trade on this one.

Batman Year One: Scarecrow #2: Finally dug out from the bottom of the To Read pile - trades and prestige formats always go to the bottom for optimal stacking! - Bruce Jones does what the writers currently steering the primary Batman ongoing titles have been unable to do in my 2+ years of regularly reading comics again: told a good Batman story. Some detecting, some wise-cracking, some parallels to the nicely defined villain, some wonderful art from Sean Murphy, all adds up to one of best Batman stories in a long while.

18 October 2005

On the Shelves: 10/19/05

Support GOOD Comics! Try something new EVERY month!

My weekly look at select comic books being released tomorrow, 10/19/05. The full shipping is list available at ComicList.

[NOTE: 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. If not, find another one; or try Khepri.com or MidtownComics.com]

10th Muse Vol 2 #5, $2.99
David Shepherds Song #2 (Of 3), $2.99
Deal With The Devil #5 (Of 5), $2.99
Legend Of Isis #4, $2.99
Opposite Forces Vol 2 #2 (Of 4), $2.99

Now that they've lost both Elsinore and Monkey vs. Lemur, the only two titles of theirs I liked, let the Deathwatch begin. I'll take April 2006 in the pool.

Mr T #2, $3.50

I thought these guys went under already? I know they lost several of their titles to Markosia, and Mr. T #1 wasn't very good...

Dead Men Tell No Tales #2 (Of 4), $3.95

Flipped through the first issue at the store - as I'll do with anything from Arcana - and wasn't terribly impressed.

1000 Deaths Of Baron Von Donut #1, $2.99

Winner of the Best Title of the Week prize!

Garth Ennis 303 #6 (Of 6), $3.99

Still have #0-1 sitting near the bottom of my To Read pile.

Conan #21, $2.99

Still going strong.

Astro City The Dark Age #4 (Of 16), $2.99
Batgirl #69, $2.50

If one of the outcomes of Infinite Crisis is Barbara Gordon resuming the Batgirl mantle, I'm going to be really pissed.

GI Joe Americas Elite Data Desk Handbook, $2.95
GI Joe Snake-Eyes Declassified #3 (Of 6), $2.95

What? Screw you, I'm hooked!

Transformers #0, $0.99

Considering my reborn love for G.I. Joe, I shouldn't talk, but is there really any reason for this series?

NYC Mech Vol 1 Lets Electrify TPB, $14.99
Ruule Ganglords Of Chinatown TPB, $19.99

I'm loving the current arc of NYC Mech ("Beta Love"), so I'm curious to see how the first arc was. Image had the complete first two issues online a while back, and I didn't like them nearly as much as the current storyline. Ruule is Beckett's second release under Image which I'll probably pick up one of these days.

Daredevil Vol 12 Decalogue TPB, $14.99
Nick Fury Howling Commandos #1, $2.99
Official Handbook Marvel Universe Horror 2005, $3.99
She-Hulk 2 #1, $2.99
X-Men And Power Pack #1 (Of 4), $2.99

As a monthly, Decalogue was pretty good up until the last issue's weird-ass left turn into horrorville. Speaking of horror, I'm looking forward to both Howling Commandos and that Official Handbook. Haven't bought an OHTTMU in years! She-Hulk was one of those buzz books from last year, like Runaways, that's getting a second chance and the preview of the first issue actually looks kind of fun. Of course, I cut Runaways after the first arc of its second go-round so, we'll see. And a big "HOORAY" for the new Power Pack mini-series. The first was one of the most entertaining minis of the year.

Wallace And Gromit A Pier Too Far HC, $12.95

Allow me to take this opportunity to recommend the new Wallace & Gromit movie. Cracking good time, that! And the Madagascar short that precedes it is way better than the bloated, tedious movie was.

Battle Royale Vol 14 GN (Of 15), $9.99

Read Volume 1 of this a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still on the fence about whether I liked it or not. It was entertaining, in a "leaves you feeling dirty" kind of way, and I'm not sure if I'll continue with it or not.

Surrogates #2 (Of 5), $2.95

About time! First issue was pretty good, though.

Comics Buyers Guide Jan 2006 #1612, $5.99
Wallace & Gromit Magazine #1, $5.99

Got CBG last week, with a great feature package on horror comics. Have to give the W&G magazine a looksee.

14 October 2005

Buzzscope: Friends Like These

My latest "Establishing Shots" column is up:

In my inaugural column two weeks ago, I brazenly declared Buzzscope to be “the best goddamn comic book web site around!” I qualified that statement a little bit, offering that, even if we actually aren’t yet, we will be, and went on to give some of the reasons why I believe that to be true. A couple of days after, I received a “Welcome” email from the publisher of one of one of the smaller comic book magazines (not one of the three I mentioned in the column) and he offered an interesting assessment of my declaration: “You've probably won no friends by firing such a cannonshot over the bows of your online competitors...”


There's links to some good stuff you may have missed recently, so head over and read the whole thing!

13 October 2005

Link: Infinite Crisis 101

I'm still gathering my thoughts about Infinite Crisis #1 - didn't love it, didn't hate it - but thanks to Troy Brownfield's excellent WHO WAS THAT CAPED MAN? A SPOILER HEAVY LOOK AT INFINITE CRISIS #1 article over at NEWSarama, I feel like I have a much better understanding of where it's coming from - and where it's possibly headed - and the final page reveal now has a lot more of an impact for me. Kind of ridiculous that it takes something extracurricular like this to make it work for all but the most anal-retentive of DC fanboys, but c'est la vie. That's the unfortunate reality of corporate comics these days.

I am officially excited about it again, and am looking forward to restoring a few DC titles to my pull list post-One Year Later.

11 October 2005

On The Shelves: 10/12/05

Support GOOD Comics! Try something new EVERY month!

My weekly look at select comic books being released tomorrow, 10/12/05. The full shipping is list available at ComicList.

[NOTE: 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. If not, find another one; or try Khepri.com or MidtownComics.com]

Goon 25 Cent Comic, $0.25
Tony Millionaire Little & Large HC, $7.95

The Goon is one of those internet favorites I've yet to check out, so I'll pick this preview up and see what the deal is. The track record on these previews hasn't been too good, so far, though. Red Sonja, Invincible, PvP...none of them made the jump to my pull list. Meanwhile, I'm a big fan of Millionaire's Maakies strip, so if that's what this HC is - for only $7.95?!?! - I'm all over it!

Astro City Local Heroes TPB, $17.99
Ex Machina #15, $2.99
Infinite Crisis #1 (Of 7), $3.99

And so it begins... I bailed on the minis after the disappointing Countdown killed my interest completely, but like House of M, I'm a sucker for the primary story in these big, dumb crossovers. I thought there was a George Perez variant cover for this, though? Old school, baby! As for Astro City, the current Dark Age mini has me curious about the rest of Busiek's little world.

Necromancer #2, $2.99

I was really looking forward to this one, but the first issue was boring.

Finder #38, $2.95

Picking this up to see what all the buzz is about, what with it moving to web-only after this issue, with print trade collections.

Essential Werewolf By Night Vol 1 TPB, $16.99
House Of M #7 (Of 8), $2.99
Marvel Milestones Blade Man-Thing & Satana, $3.99

I'll be keeping an eye out for that Essential collection in the sales bin in a few months, whether it includes the Moon Knight issues or not, but that "Blade Man-Thing & Satana" sounds interesting.

How To Draw Furry By Kit Fox, $2.95

And we have a winner for best title of the week!

Amelia Rules #15 (resolicited), $2.95

I could've sworn this came out a few weeks ago, and I bought it!

Grimoire #6, $2.99

Before they picked up Elk's Run, this was my favorite Speakeasy book. Considering it was one of their launch titles, though, and the number of new titles they've released since, that's not a good sign.

Street Fighter Eternal Challenge TPB Udon Ed, $34.99
Street Fighter II #0, AR

Who buys this stuff? I mean, really, what's the appeal here? I still have a soft spot for Mortal Kombat, and the first movie was a hoot, but I wouldn't buy a comic book based on it! Do these licenses just come really cheap?

Karma Incorporated #3 (Of 3), $2.95

This was a pleasant surprise, so it'll be interesting to see how they wrap it up.

10 October 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 10/5/05

Cranked a few out this week, including our first "Staff Picks" entry...

Amazing Fantasy #13
With the underlying concept of superpowered humans who eschew capes and tights – and are inherently more dangerous as a result – Karl Kesel quickly establishes a credible setting that begs for elaboration, while teasing just enough information to pique the readers interest.

Conan and the Demons of Khitai #1 (of 4)
Editor Scott Allie has proven to be a worthy steward of Robert E. Howard’s storied barbarian, and with Demons of Khitai, it looks as if he’s once again caught lightning in a bottle as Akira Yoshida and Paul Lee get off to an excellent start.

Staff Pick - Elk's Run
I personally guarantee that anyone who's spending more than $25/month on comic books is buying at least one title that pales in comparison to Elk's Run, especially if your pull list is dominated by Marvel and DC titles. (Includes preview pages and an interview with Joshua Hale Fialkov.)

Our Weekly Roundup will go up later today, pending another review or two being submitted, but you can get a sneak peek here, including a review of the intriguing Bone Sharps, Cowboys & Thunder Lizards GN that was previewed on Free Comic Book Day earlier this year. And, of course, our weekly dose of Ronée Garcia Bourgeois' "What a Girl Wants," as she checks in with once and future Wonder Woman artist Drew Johnson, and gets his thoughts on her recent crossing the line in the run-up to Infinite Crisis.

07 October 2005

Industry Buzz #3: Flawed Diamond?

There was some interesting buzz last month about Diamond Comic Distributor's policy of canceling orders for comic books that don't reach certain thresholds, a move which, long story short, primarily affects small press titles selling under 1,500 copies/issue, and it's led to the inevitable speculation about the eventual demise of independent publishers. The fact that Diamond pretty much owns the North American Direct Market means they have an inordinate amount of control over what makes it to retailers' shelves and, ultimately, into readers' hands.

This month, Industry Buzz takes a closer look at Diamond and the direct market, and asks: is it time for a change?

As is our way, we turned to our crack panel of experts for some answers, and were surprised this month when we had to cast a wider net than usual in order to find people willing and able to speak on the record about Diamond. And, oh, what some of them had to say! In fact, one of our regulars, Richmond Comix proprietor, Frank Miller, was so inspired, he ended up writing a column’s worth of a response that we’re running separately as our first installment of Living the Dream? A View From the Trenches, which we hope will become a regular look at comics from the retailer’s perspective.

Our distinguished panel of contributors this month:

* Ronée Garcia Bourgeois - National VP / PR, Friends Of Lulu
* Louis Bright-Raven - Founder, Constellation Studios
* Joshua Hale Fialkov – Writer, Elk’s Run
* Joe Field – Proprietor, Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff, Concord, CA
* Debbie Huey – Creator/Writer/Artist, Bumperboy
* Mike S. Miller – Executive Director, Alias Enterprises
* Jason Richards – Proprietor, Riot! Comics and Culture, Camp Hill, PA
* Jason Rodriguez - Editor, Hoarse & Buggy
* Jim Salicrup - Editor, Papercutz
* Dan Vado - President and Publisher, Slave Labor Graphics

Read the entire column here.

CBC Quickees: 9/28/05

My To-Read pile is getting out of hand...

Black Panther #8: Sigh. Hudlin totally let me down here. After defending the first four issues of his controversial reimagining of the Black Panther, he abruptly wrapped up his first arc without ever answering the primary question his story posed, "Who is the Black Panther?" Then, last issue's pointless, though admittedly entertaining, House of M tie-in, and now this internal continuity confusing crossover with the X-Men, whom he's inexplicably met before and even had some sort of a relationship with Storm!?!? Storm, whom strips down naked and takes to the skies posing as "the goddess of the desert" to calm a group of rioting Nigandans whom are... You know what? Who cares? It's a dumb story and I'll be following the rest of Hudlin's run via Ebay, and only there because I'm a Panther completist. My bad.

The Gift #13: My spider-sense was right. This wasn't very good. From the clichéd tale of bullied geek gets revenge, to the old school Image-style artwork, to Raven Gregory's unnecessary disclaimer explaining that he doesn't condone high school violence and over-the-top PR efforts a few months back hyping this issue - which, sadly, even Buzzscope bought in to - it all left me unimpressed and wanting a refund. This and Ant are two good reasons why there needs to be more black creators working in the industry. In the same way I hate that UPN represents black comedy, ya know?

Young Avengers #7: I had every intention of hating this series, but it not only won me over, it's one of my favorite superhero titles right now. I've never watched the OC, and still don't plan to, but Allan Heinberg has a great ear for dialogue and sets the right tone - not too light, not too serious - in this always entertaining series. In this issue, his Captain America / Spider-Man / Luke Cage interplay outdoes Bendis' work over in New Avengers, and the cliffhanger ending has the potential to either be an interesting twist on one character's abilities, or a terribly clichéd way to handle his development that'll make me axe this from my pull list without blinking. Seven issues in, I'm trusting Heinberg to do the right thing.

Silent Dragon #3: Andy Diggle and Leinil Yu rock! Robots, samurai, intrigue, and Dave Stewart on colors? How can you not love this?

The Losers #28: One of my favorite comic books, another Andy Diggle effort, finishes its penultimate arc with a literal bang. And Jensen, my favorite character, gets a money shot. I'm going to miss this series when it's done.

Defenders #3: There's moments here that are great, like the two-page splash of a defeated Eternity, but many more where anyone familiar with the Giffen/DeMatteis schtick are left groaning for new material. It's fun, in a been there done that kind of way, but like Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards, it's wearing thin rather quickly.

Battle Royale #1: My second foray into Manga, I'm still making my mind up about it. On the one hand, it's an intriguing blend of Death Race 2000 and The Breakfast Club, featuring a TV show that drops an entire 9th grade class on an isolated island and pits them against each other in a game of Kill or Be Killed. It's ultra-violent, sexually explicit and so over-the-top that you can't take it seriously. And yet, it's not presented as a satire, even with Keith Giffen doing the translating. An entertaining read that left me feeling a little skeeved, but likely to pick up the next volume.

06 October 2005

Comment: Larsen Backtracking?

So Erik Larsen managed to rile up the internet last week with his rant about comic book creators working on established characters for the Big Two instead of creating their own, ignorantly going with a slavery metaphor - But you stay shackled to that chain and pick that cotton and tell us all how "nice" your master is and how much you "like it" there. Ah, white privilege! - and calling them pussies.

Because I use Bloglines to track CBR articles, it notifies me whenever a piece has been updated, and Larsen's column popped up again today with the notation: Posted on: Thu, Sep 29 2005 1:00 AM Updated: Thu, Oct 6 2005 6:48 AM

"Hmm," thought I, "what's up?"

Skimming through it, nothing jumped out at me, and I specifically searched for the two aforementioned comments thinking maybe he'd come to his senses a bit, but no, they were still there.

What was also there, though, was a bit at the end that I don't recall being there last week:

What are you afraid of?

And for those of you that did break free of the shackles, which had restrained you-- this rant is clearly is not meant for you-- you're living the dream! Good for you! Keep at it!

As for the rest of you…

C'mon, man.

Show us what you've got.
The bolded section there. Was that added after the shit hit the fan? Wonder who it was specifically that convinced him he needed to make this little clarification, if in fact, it was edited in afterwards, as it appears it was.

Wouldn't that make Larsen something of a "pussy," in his definition of the word? Pot, meet kettle?

04 October 2005

On the Shelves: 10/5/05

Support GOOD Comics! Try something NEW!

My weekly look at select comic books being released tomorrow, 10/5/05. The full shipping is list available at ComicList.

[NOTE: 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. If not, find another one; or try Khepri.com or MidtownComics.com]

College Girl Named Joe Vol 2 TPB, $14.95

The "front of the back of Previews" strategy - whereby you name your company something starting with an "a" - garners Amazing Aaron a best name of the week nod.

Justice City Chronicles Vol 1 #1 (Of 2), $3.50

Picked this up in Baltimore a couple of weekends ago because the APE table always has some nice people behind it, but from the half of it that I've read so far, it felt a little not-quite-ready-for-primetime.

Conan & The Demons Of Khitai #1 (Of 4), $2.99
Damn Nation TPB, $12.95

Yes, Dark Horse has turned me into an unabashed Conan fan. And the Damn Nation TPB is a great pickup for fans of good, cinematic horror stories.

Arkham Asylum Anniversary Ed SC, $17.99
Batman: Gotham County Line #1 (Of 3), $5.99
Gotham Central #36, $2.50
Son Of Vulcan #5 (Of 6), $2.99
Vertigo First Offenses TPB, $4.99

A special week of Batman-related goodies, including a new edition of Arkham Asylum, one of those comics I missed that've been on my To Buy list for a while. Steve Niles on Batman in the suburbs sounds intriguing, and I believe Gotham Central is wrapping up the "Dead Robin" storyline this month.

GI Joe Americas Elite #4, $2.95

It's official. I'm a GI Joe fan again!

Genie #3, $2.95

I'm actually impressed that this is still being published considering its underwhelming, though potential-filled, debut. Might give it a flip-through to see where it's going.

Fell #2, $1.99
Grounded #3 (Of 6), $2.99

For fans seeking a good old-fashioned done-in-one series, Fell is comics nirvana. And writer Mark Sable managed to re-energize my interest in Grounded when I previewed it for Buzzscope last week.

Amazing Fantasy #13, $2.99
Powers #13, $2.95

I saw a preview somewhere of the new Amazing Fantasy storyline, only a two-issue arc this time, that intrigued me. Something about Las Vegas and a Jonah Hex-style character. I think. And Bendis won me back with #12, so Powers gets a reprieve from the pull list axe for a few more months.

Atomika #2 (Of 12), $2.99

I'm pretty sure this is a typo, and this is actually #5, the first post-Speakeasy issue. I've stuck with it this long so I may go the distance. As long as Abbinanti chills with the variant covers. I bought the Buzz version over Michael Turner's of #4 as a protest of sorts.

Ice Haven GN (AA), $18.95

One of these days, when the bitter taste of the comics blogiverse elitists fades from my mouth, I'm going to check this out purely out of curiousity. Right now, there's simply no way it can live up to the hype.

Elks Run #1-3 Collected Ed Vol 1 TPB, $7.99

Hopefully the switch to Speakeasy will boost orders for Elk's Run, one of the most criminally overlooked comics being published right now. I like it so much, I made it my first Staff Pick over at Buzzscope earlier today. Includes an interview with Fialkov, who is surprisingly honest about his feelings on Speakeasy's aggressive expansion over the past few months.

Shonen Jump Nov 05 #35, $4.99

I keep saying I'm going to check this out and haven't yet. I suck.

Buzzscope Reviews: 9/28/05

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her #1 (of 6)
The combination of a regular dose of Bill Sienkiewicz' art and Richard K. Morgan's intriguing, globe-spanning spy-noir tale made their first Black Widow volume an unexpected treat last year, and they succesfully pick up right where they left off without alienating new readers.

Be sure to check out this week's Review Roundup, including Action Philosophers! #3, one of my personal favorites. Also, there's brand-spanking new What A Girl Wants and Comics You Should Own columns, ripping Brian Pulido and praising Aztek, respectively. Check 'em out!

01 October 2005

Buzzscope: I'm the G*ddamn Editor!

Yes, it's official.

As of today, I've taken over as the Senior Comics Editor for Buzzscope.

"Who the hell are you anyway, giving out orders like this?"
"Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman!"
Check out my table-setting column here.