1.24.2015

1.28.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Image Comics is absolutely dominating this week! There’s new stuff! There’s old stuff! There’s returning stuff! I’m most excited for Danger Club #6, the long-awaited return of this Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones joint (last seen in April of 2013), which I’ve sometimes described to people as Warren Ellis doing a 1960’s Teen Titans riff. It’s got subversive intent with analogous heroes disappearing, and their ill-equipped sidekicks stepping up to fill the void, either trying to rule the world or trying to save it. I believe this incarnation will end with #8, and we’ll be seeing the forthcoming issues very regularly. Another book which fans have been clamoring for is Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon’s Casanova: Acedia #1, the return of everyone’s favorite universe-jumping agent. This time, Casanova Quinn comes to Los Angeles, with a back-up story featuring Michael Chabon and Gabriel Ba. This is can’t-miss shenanigans, and something I expect to see on Best of 2015 lists come the end of the year. I’m also excited to see more of Antony Johnston and Chris Mitten’s dark fantasy series in Umbral #12, a book which sneaks up on you with charming rogues, highly efficient world-building, and the most lush visuals steeped in sick sepia, bloody crimsons, and royal purples that sing with all the weight of the dread forces at work.

In the new department, there’s The Dying & The Dead #1, Jonathan Hickman & Ryan Bodenheim’s latest creator owned effort. Hickman has been a creator to watch ever since he burst onto the scene with his infographic-laced design sensibility in The Nightly News and (personal favorite) Pax Romana, and I love Bodenheim’s work, especially the rugged sci-fi of Red Mass For Mars. The new book promises an epic feel, spans multiple generations, and the first issue is an impressive 60 pages for just $4.50. I enjoyed the indie X-Men take of this series debut, so I’m also excited to check out They’re Not Like Us #2 by Eric Stephenson and Simon Gane, as well as the self-aware hilarity of Punks #4 by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain. The thing is, humor is subjective. It’s hard to do humor. It’s even harder to do humor in comics. But, these guys just nail the funny, with both quirky visuals and jaunty dialogue, and also manage to seamlessly work in wry social observations in the process. That’s really the role of “good” humor, not only to entertain, but to leave you with some little gem of social insight.

If you wanted some books with “sex” in the title, you could do a lot worse than Sex #19 by Joe Casey and guest artist Ian Macewan, a book I’ve sort of had a like-love relationship with, moving from bouts of fence-sitting flirtation, to eager lustful enjoyment, back to a lukewarm refractory period. But, the central premise of “what happens in a post-shared superhero universe concept?” is a good one, even if Casey sometimes leaves you with the feeling that he’s making it up as he goes for the exploratory ride, and doesn’t necessarily have a master plan with a fixed end-point in mind. Not enough sexy? Try Sex Criminals #19 by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky. I’m not sure this book is the “better” of the two, but it’s certainly more popular thanks to the antics of both creators and their willingness to eschew embarrassment, taboo, indoctrinated social mores, and other words I learned in my social anthropology classes in college.

Oni Press has Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo’s The Life After #6 available, a fun series set in a purgatory style land that is sort of equal parts What Dreams May Come and The Truman Show, with a scene-stealing Ernest Hemmingway helping the ostensible protagonist navigate this afterlife. Diamond is listing Chuck Dixon and Tomas Giorello’s Winterworld #7 as a release this week, which seems curious since #6 of the post-apocalyptic sojourn just came out last week, but perhaps this is a burst of issues to reestablish some sort of slipping schedule(?). It, um, may or may not be hitting the shelves this week, as I wasn’t able to confirm it at the time of this writing.

Books I might take a flip through, but aren’t necessarily guaranteed purchases, include Bitch Planet #2, Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT #30 from Dark Horse, Multiversity Guidebook #1 by some young upstart named Grant Morrison and a whole host of artists (maybe a prohibitive price point depending on the content), and Vertigo Quarterly #1: Black. Basically, ditto my concerns about the price point on this one. While it certainly contains work by some creators I’d love to check out (John Paul Leon, Francesco Francavilla, Steven T. Seagle), for $8 I’d want to like every single piece, which basically never happens in these anthologies.

On the collected edition front, your choices are Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta’s Outcast Vol. 1, which, honestly, I could take or leave the premise from Kirkman, the book has been over-hyped in a vortex created by the wake of The Walking Dead success, an impending TV show, and the rage of the Creator Owned Renaissance at Image Comics, but the art from Azaceta is just gorgeous, full of inky goodness, something for fans of John Paul Leon or Danijel Zezelj, with a little of the old-school Jim Lee commercial appeal thrown in for good measure. The Life After Vol. 1 also arrives, great for catching up with the new issue this week, as well as the excellent Black Science Vol. 2, familial dynamics and high sci-fi adventure, which I sell to people down at the LCS as (pure speculation) Rick Remender’s rejected FF pitch that was too intense for the suits at Marvel. 

1.17.2015

1.21.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

It’s a relatively small week for me, but there’s some great material hitting the shelves. First up is Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey’s anthropomorphic world-building full of political intrigue. Perhaps best described as Game of Thrones meets Kamandi, it’s The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #3. Another rising star from Image Comics is Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein’s Drifter #3, featuring a wayward sci-fi traveler trying to piece together his past while surviving his intense new surroundings after crash landing on a strange planet. It’s got a twinge of The Twilight Zone, with modern sci-fi sensibilities and plenty of action. Image also has the ever-popular The Wicked + The Divine #7 from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, and with news out of the recent Image Expo that more of their seminal Phonogram series is on the way, I don’t see attention cooling off on these guys any time soon.

IDW is bringing us Chuck Dixon and Tomas Giorello’s latest installment in Winterworld #6, a book that doesn’t necessarily rock your socks off, but Dixon is a consistent and reliable writer, continuing this quietly intriguing take on the post-apocalyptic drifter traversing the land and meeting various tribes of people struggling to compose some form of civilization. Last up is the penultimate issue in Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood’s Moon Knight arc, with Moon Knight #11. This team has been vastly underrated in the wake of Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s departure, but they’ve delivered an equally good romp with their grounded urban vigilante I’ve dubbed “The Ghost Protector of New York City.” Most critics have ceded that Wood and Smallwood were worth staying on for, but I’m not sure civilians got the message. I can only hope that we’ll see more from the Wood & Smallwood creative team in the future.

If you’re into comics at all, you should do yourself a favor and check out work by Jacques Tardi if you haven’t already done so. This week, Fantagraphics is bringing us the latest of their Tardi translations with the neo-noir seedy crime story Run Like Crazy Run Like Hell, which has art by Tardi and a story by Jean-Patrick Manchette. Tardi has a way of forcing us to examine deep character motivations by shoveling all kinds of detail-laden action at us, and it’s the rare book that both entertains and makes you feel as if you’ve learned something about human nature in the process.

1.10.2015

1.14.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

The big news dominating the mainstream this week is the re-entry of Marvel Comics into publishing what is sure to be a heap of Star Wars material, led by the aptly-named, non-subtitled anchor book, Star Wars #1. It’s all subsequent to the Disney acquisition of LucasFilm, and their transitioning the property away from Dark Horse’s 20-year run to their in-house subsidiary, all while wiping clean the EU slate and barely acknowledging anything that came before. I’m sure I’ll check out a few issues, though it’ll basically be done begrudgingly so for a few reasons. At a casual glance, all three of the new books seem to be rehashing the same ground that the single Brian Wood & Carlos D’Anda series recently did so well. I’m also a little nervous about artist John Cassaday’s ability to commit to a monthly schedule. I love his style, and he’s proven capable of longer runs on older works like Planetary and Astonishing X-Men, but his recent track record leaves something to be desired. I also feel nothing but utter disgust aimed at the now ~100 variant covers which have artificially inflated the print run to around 1,000,000 copies, a phenomenon last seen in the 90’s with the Jim Lee X-Men re-launch, an act some historians have cited as one of the primary markers of the publishing boom-glut-implosion cycle of the time. It’s tough, I generally like the property, I like many of the creators involved, but it’s hard not to be worn down by the marketing juggernaut, and view the entire debacle as the very logical cash grab it represents to the business side of the equation, and yet I can only hope the combined artistic merit of the material is even half as good as all the hype.  But hey, if anyone is listening, I’d kill to write a Sabine Wren mini-series, featuring the adventures of the Mandalorian Street Artist Rebel featured in the new Star Wars Rebels series. Call me, I’m waiting.

I also sincerely hope that the Star Wars launch doesn’t overshadow so many other great books hitting the shelves this week. Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson continue their insightful examination of the rich peripheral stories found in a shared superhero universe concept in Astro City #19, and Larime Taylor continues to his creator-owned crime thriller that blends elements of Dexter with Pump Up The Volume in A Voice In The Dark: Get Your Gun #2. I’ve read an advance copy of the issue and it remains a superb treatise on an American subculture and the journey of disaffected Millennials that most pop culture only superficially tries to understand or comically dismisses as a punch-line.

Image Comics has a host of their best titles available this week, including Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski’s Copperhead #5, the gender-bending Sci-Fi Western, Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood’s gender-bending, genre-blending, Sci-Fi Cop Drama (I like to call it CSI: Galactica) The Fuse #9, and arguably the best title the publisher is currently offering with Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s excellent Lazarus #14. Honestly, if you’re not reading Lazarus, you’re missing one of the best comics of the decade, one which radically extrapolates advancing biotechnology and current socioeconomic disparities to their terrifying conclusion.

There was once a book from Mark Millar and Frank Quitely that was quite good, so I’m excited to see its return with Jupiter’s Legacy #5. I generally try not to support such publishing delays unless there’s some extenuating set of circumstances, but Quitely is certainly one of those “worth the wait” artists regardless. Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay continue their psychological sci-fi affair in Supreme: Blue Rose #6, while over at Oni Press, Greg Rucka and Justin Greenwood wrap the first arc of volume three of this now ongoing series in Stumptown #5.

On the collected edition front, I’ll recommend Manifest Destiny Volume 2: Amphibia and Insecta, containing issues 7-12 of this gorgeous speculative historical fiction series, pitting Lewis & Clark and The Corps of Discovery against eerie supernatural forces and general monster mayhem as they make their journey to the Pacific Ocean. Yes, this is going to be a great week of comics.

1.03.2015

1.07.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Welcome to the first shipping week of 2015! These are the selections that caught my interest as the year gets underway. First up is Lady Killer #1 by Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich, published by Dark Horse. Jones is a big draw for me, capable of some very graceful lines, while Rich was a stalwart figure on the indie scene a decade or so ago, and always worth a look. They’re promising a weird juxtaposition of domestic bliss and visceral violence, in a way that reminds me of The Milkman Murders, a seminal work by Joe Casey and Steve Parkhouse that was tongue-in-cheek suburban horror, sort of subsuming the American Dream and traditional social roles.

Image Comics has a strong trio of titles out, starting with The Humans #3 by Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely. Neely is one of my three favorite indie artists working today (along with Noah Van Sciver and Julia Gfrorer for anyone keeping score at home), and I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Humans was not just about comedic monkey love and raucous biker adventures, but also very honed social commentary, in a way that 1970’s cinema captured the bleed through of the Vietnam War experience. I’m interested to see where Keller and Neely take the series. Rick Remender and Wes Craig have Deadly Class #10 out, as Remender taps his go-to theme of the parent-child dynamic, specifically what happens to a group of kids in the absence of strong parental figures. The story is fun, but I’ve been blown away by Craig channeling the sensual lines of Marcos Martin, and early Frank Miller panel layouts, among other influences. There’s also Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Trees #8, which has proven to be not just the wry sci-fi we expect Ellis to turn in, but also a closer examination of evolving interpersonal dynamics in the near-future, hyper-exaggerated by the presence of the extraterrestrial “other.”

I might take a peek at Captain Victory & The Galactic Rangers #4 from Dynamite Entertainment, with Joe Casey and a host of artists (including personal favorite Nathan Fox), which is usually a bat-shit crazy love letter to Kirby era concepts. It doesn’t always make linear sense, but it’s usually pretty fun to pore over the pages at the very least. On the collected edition front, I can also recommend the Casanova Complete Edition Hardcover Vol. 2: Gula, published by Image Comics. This is Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon’s 168-page follow up to Fraction and Gabriel Ba’s first volume featuring multiversal time travel and fourth-wall breaking zany espionage zeitgeist, answering that age-old question: When is Casanova Quinn? Casanova was largely an experiment at the time, but history has fashioned it an avant-garde pioneer of Image Comics raison d’etre – a thought lab that can take those gambles, gleefully publishing creator owned visions before it was once again in the recent rage stage. 

12.28.2014

12.31.14 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Well, between it being the 5th week in one of the rare 5-week shipping months (notoriously sparse for offerings), the final day of the calendar year, and the day before a holiday on top of that, it’s a very light week, but I still have two very good recommendations for you! First up is Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta’s East of West #16, the post-apocalyptic sci-fi series featuring an alt-history Civil War era confrontation that leads to a very compelling future timeline.

There’s also The Massive Volume 4: Sahara, the penultimate volume of the Dark Horse series, collecting issues 19-24 (including a confrontation with one of the series antagonists, Arkady), which also comes on the heels of final issue #30 last week. There’s just one collected edition remaining, and as usual, Volume 4 includes those gloriously inky John Paul Leon covers, with Brian Wood, Garry Brown, Danijel Zezelj, and Jordie Bellaire on interiors. 

12.23.2014

The Massive - Top 10 Covers @ Comics Bulletin


The Massive #30 arrives in stores this week from Dark Horse Comics, marking the conclusion of the critically-acclaimed series by Brian Wood, Garry Brown, and Jordie Bellaire. To help celebrate the finale, I figured out the Top 10 Covers over at Comics Bulletin. Spoiler Alert: 8 of the 10 are by John Paul Leon. 

12.22.2014

Brian Wood @ Yesteryear Comics [Signing]


I’m very happy to announce that my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics has their next in-store signing scheduled for this Saturday, December 27th, 2014. This signing will feature Brooklyn based writer and multiple Eisner Award nominee Brian Wood (Channel Zero, DMZ, The Massive, Rebels, X-Men, Conan The Barbarian).

He’ll be in the store from 1pm to 3pm. Brian’s got a plethora of great books to choose from, so come on out and get your runs of Moon Knight, Star Wars, or Northlanders signed! I also have to recommend DMZ Book Three (Deluxe Edition Hardcover), which was recently released and features interviews and bonus content edited by yours truly.

I’ll be working this event, so if you’re in San Diego, please stop by to say hi, support the creators you love, and support my friend Michael, owner of Yesteryear Comics. Additionally, I'll be acting as a CGC Witness and verifying signatures for those of you interested in submitting books for professional grading. For more information, check out Facebook.com/YesteryearComics.