I read comics. So should you.

The Stack-3/8/17

In new books on March 9, 2017 at 8:31 pm

. . . Aaaaaaaaaaand I’m back!

Sorry to all three of my regular readers, but i sorely needed a vacation. Not from comics, mind you, but from day-to-day life in general. Sometimes you lose perspective, and get in a rut so deep that your wheels just spin without purpose, and you angrily kick up mud at everything around you, losing any interest in forward momentum. Yep, according to my lazy-ass metaphor, sometimes you turn into a jeep.

hound

And you watch helplessly as your leader heroically drives off to his doom.

But now it’s time to get back to the things I love, hopefully with some renewed purpose and enthusiasm. First I’d like to quickly touch on a few of the more noteworthy books I missed in the last two weeks. I feel kind of guilty, taking my already brief one-paragraph nonsense and chopping it into rapid-fire nuggets (I’m capable of long form reviews, I swear), but since I’m not getting paid for this and you’re all probably just skimming it anyway, we’ll zip right past my insecurities and get the hell on with it.

Letter 44 #30 (Charles Soule, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, Dan Jackson, Crank!-Oni Press): The human race tries to put on a brave face and go out with some dignity, and we witness the inevitable heroic sacrifice. NO, I’m not crying. There’s something in my eye. Shut up.

Clean Room #16 (Gail Simone, Walter Geovani, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, Jenny Frison-DC/Vertigo): It’s on like Donkey Kong. Demonic forces have infiltrated our world, and are ready to push humanity over the edge. Astrid and her organization are mobilizing, ready to kick said demonic forces in the taint.

The Old Guard #1 (Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández, Daniela Miwa, Jodi Wynne-Image): Four weary immortals offer their services as mercenaries and get tricked into revealing their nature. This one’s off to a very promising start.

Savage Things #1 (Justin Jordan, Ibrahim Moustafa, Jordan Boyd, Josh Reed, John Paul Leon-DC/Vertigo): Children with sociopathic traits are recruited by an organization within the United States to be remorseless killers that will be unleashed on the nation’s enemies. What could possibly go wrong?

Royal City #1 (Jeff Lemire, Steve Wands-Image): The story of a dysfunctional family, the city they grew up in, and the loss that has manifested itself in different ways. I love the feel of this comic, and the way Lemire tells its story. I hope it sticks around for the long haul.

DC Rebirth update: I have read a few more titles in this new lineup recently, and I find I’m still not connecting with any of this stuff. At this point I’m honestly not sure if I’m just bringing in weird preconceived notion baggage, or if these books are really just mostly stale and bland throwbacks, but either way it’s not for me. I never want to be one of those people who dismisses a whole publisher’s worth of books for no reason (I still won’t touch Zenescope, who proudly just slap big ol’ titties on public domain fairy tales and call it a day, but I consider that sort of lazy exploitation a good reason), so I’ll still give one a read here and there, but in my opinion the really worthwhile comics in their arsenal are over at Vertigo and Young Animal.

stack7

Redline #1 (Neal Holman, Clayton McCormack, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Crank!-Oni Press): I have no doubt only become MORE persnickety over the years about the execution of narrative, feeling that the HOW of storytelling makes all the difference when it seems like that old chestnut about there only being three (or maybe seven) basic stories is mostly true. So it was exciting to see this Science Fiction story approach its subject matter almost entirely from the point of view of a few US military agents stationed on Mars (ostensibly as a peacekeeping force). The exposition is as much in the repartee and shit-talking between Coyle and his team as it is in the art team’s gritty visuals. It comes across, speaking in the inevitable TV and movie comparisons, like Generation Kill meets Aliens, keeping us as entertained as we are intrigued.

Green Valley #6 (Max Landis, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cliff Rathburn, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Pat Brosseau-Image): The issue where Max Landis essentially points out how dumb the plot to Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits is.

The Wicked + The Divine #27 (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles, Dee Cunniffe-Image): This issue contains a very interesting experiment using eight-panel pages and color coding on those panels to differentiate scene breaks. I want to see more of this, please. Also, Dionysus tries to battle The Great Darkness with a series of experimental raves, because OF COURSE he does.

Copperhead #11 (Jay Faerber, Drew Moss, Ron Riley, Thomas Mauer, Scott Godlewski-Image): It has returned! Co-creator Scott Godlewski has passed the art torch to Drew Moss for now, who does a great job filling those big, Budroxifinicus-sized shoes. Speaking of everyone’s favorite wiseass, he drops a significant bomb on everyone at the conclusion of this issue.

Jessica Jones #6 (Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Matt Hollingsworth, VC’s Cory Petit, David Mack-Marvel): Man is this issue good! I really don’t know why people give Bendis so much shit–He keeps proving how adept he is at superhero storytelling, whether it’s dialogue, action, or drama, and the end to this first arc showcases that perfectly. AND it starts off with a flashback where Jessica (then known as Jewel) beats down Doctor Octopus and tells him that he has no dick, so there’s that. One of Marvel’s best right now.

I think that about wraps things up for this week. Join me next time, when there will be a new Bitch Planet, Kill or Be Killed, Manifest Destiny, God Country, Head Lopper, Injection, Spider-Man, The Mighty Thor, Ether, Batwoman (Oh yeah, I DID like that one), The Wild Storm, and more! In addition, I feel it’s time to drop a piece about working the retailer side of things, too, so keep an eye out for that.

Thanks for reading, and comment below so I don’t feel so alone in this world!

hulk

And Happy Birthday, Freddie Prinze, Jr.!

The Art of the Pull List

In new books, rants on February 17, 2017 at 7:32 am

Like any true Wednesday Warrior, my comic book pull list is in a constant state of flux. There ARE those people who blindly buy every book a company puts out, I suppose in some pointless display of brand loyalty, but I’ve never been one of those (Though, to be honest, I came close when Vertigo was at its peak). Recently there has been a bit of a purge, and that got me thinking about the entire process, both from a consumer and a retailer perspective. I’ve assembled here a bunch of random observations that could possibly be of some use to anyone who loves comics so much that they must have them each and every week. Enjoy.

1. The Chopping Block: Should it stay, or should it go?

There’s the obvious primary factor in choosing titles for a comic shop pull list–limits on disposable income. Sure, we’d all like to add whatever we want, and give more books a chance. But there’s that pesky rent/food/bills/depression medication thing getting in the way. So you’ve got to be kinda picky, and prioritize based on what you value most in a floppy. Maybe it’s art, maybe it’s story, or maybe it’s variant covers. Actually, if it’s variants, and you don’t just nab one here and there because it features art by someone you adore, you should probably take some time to evaluate your life. You filthy collector.

Beyond that, there’s a personal threshold that develops for everyone, and it involves a few factors. Most important is how long you intend to give a series to develop. First issues are designed to hook you, but when that wears off, the development of the plot and characters are what will keep you buying. So how long do you allow for that? Most of us will go to the conclusion of the first storyline, which is usually five or six issues. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it, in which case you should by all means drop it and move on with your life. There will be this completionist part of you that will nag at the back of your mind, trying to convince you that enduring mediocrity for the sake of a complete run is wise. Ignore that shit. Trust me. You filthy collector.

2. The Previews catalog: Your greatest friend, your greatest enemy

previews

Every single month, Diamond puts out the Previews catalog. This monstrous tree-killer lets you know about every single comic, collection, and graphic novel headed your way in about two months. Each shop gets a free copy, and any that desires staying open will at the very least let you peruse one. DO THIS. I realize that I don’t really need to emphasize this, since the thrill of the new is all the motivation you’ll need. Your wallet will hate you, and loved ones may disapprove, but you knew the risks going in. What is even more important is that you inform your shop owner as soon as you’re done looking at it, letting them know what you want to add or remove. Their initial orders each month are based primarily on pull list numbers, and the interest suggested by those numbers. You’ll get exactly what you want, and they will not be wasting time and money. It’s a wonderful bit of symbiosis, when everyone is on board with it.

3. The Social Contract: It takes two to make this thing go right

Speaking of your relationship with your local shop, let’s talk about responsibilities. YES, you have them when you start a pull list. It’s not a legally binding contract, but by ordering comics that a shop has agreed to hold for you, you have agreed to actually pick them up and pay for them. Regularly. Not put most of them back on the shelf. Not disappear for months and expect that you can just cherry-pick some when you deign to show up again. Nope. You take and pay for them all. Your shop is providing you with a service, and many of them are even giving you a discount on top of that. Be an adult and uphold your part of this deal. Let them know in a timely fashion if you have changes. If you have to or want to cancel, just say that. You might be making them less money, but you will have earned their respect. I speak from experience on this one.

I think that pretty much covers it. Don’t be scared to commit to the list. The hours of reading enjoyment are totally worth it. Just make sure you honor that commitment. It’s like having a puppy. A puppy made of paper. But there’s a new one each week. A bunch of them each week.

Okay, it’s nothing like having a puppy. Just read comic books. Please. And thank you.

You filthy collector.

 

The Stack-2/15/17

In new books on February 16, 2017 at 8:06 pm

I’ll keep the opening banter to a minimum this week, since I’ll be making another post right after this one that will tie into what I want to discuss, and it will hopefully make up for the lack of anything on Sunday.

Wednesday was a deluge of goodness. If you didn’t visit your local shop yet, get off yer rump and fix that situation posthaste. Behold, nerdy mortals:

stack6

 

God Country #2 (Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie, John J. Hill, Gerardo Zaffino-Image): Emmett was an old man suffering through Alzheimer’s, and then for some reason a magic god-forged sword from beyond Earth chose him to wield it so that he might slice up demons. Its former owner and his father aren’t too pleased about this, so it’s time to parley while Emmett comes to terms with the fact that this weapon has returned his memories and life to him. This book is a spiritual successor of sorts to the amazing 2008 Luna Brothers series The Sword. Unintentionally, I’m sure, but the similarities are there. Regardless, this cosmic-mysteries-by-way-of-real-world-Texas-grit yarn is one of the best new books out there.

The Wild Storm #1 (Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt, Ivan Plascencia, Simon Bowland, Tula Lotay, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair-DC): Jim Lee’s Wildstorm universe was a thoroughly 90s superhero concept that made its way from the early Image days to DC Comics. Full of black ops teams, conspiracy theories, and genre action, it really didn’t pop until a Red Bull-swilling, cane-swinging Brit by the name of Warren Ellis got to make his mark on it. With StormWatch, and later The Authority, these ideas soared to glorious new places, with a swagger all their own and page-consuming fight scenes. This latest iteration goes a bit more street-level on the surface, but even darker and more devious below that. It’s going to be one hell of a twenty-four issue ride.

The Mighty Thor #16 (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Matthew Wilson, VC’s Joe Sabino, Joe Jusko-Marvel): Thor, right in the middle of Malekith’s war, has been whisked away beyond the edges of space to the place where the Shi’ar gods reside, and they have decided to challenge her to determine who is mightier. To these vicious celestials it’s all a game where mortal lives mean nothing, and Thor does not approve. In fact, she’s going to show these tyrants up by simply being her awesome, benevolent (at least as benevolent as a hammer-wielding superhuman can be) self. Meanwhile, in the Congress of Worlds, Volstagg filibusters by talking about his favorite foods.

Animosity #5 (Marguerite Bennett, Rafael De Latorre, Rob Schwager, Marshall Dillon, Marcelo Maiolo, Mike Rooth-Aftershock): Another fantastic comic that puts the thesis statement of the whole series in one beautifully-executed page! The whole conflict is right there on page one of this issue, as two shrimps who have been sent as emissaries for their kind head to the surface world to speak with the rest of the animals who have been suddenly given human-level consciousness and the power of speech. They wonder what other forms of life have been given these gifts, and if they are just too far down the chain to be taken seriously by larger forms of life. And then a whale eats them. Yep. There’s also goat drama, a big human event, and possibly a dragon attack…?

Unfollow #16 (Rob Williams, Mike Dowling, Quinton Winter, Clem Robins, Matt Taylor-DC/Vertigo): It’s time for the big showdown. Ferrell has revealed that he’s still alive, and he’s given the survivors of his experiment his coordinates in Venezuela. So they’ve hopped on a few helicopters to confront–Oh, he has shot them out of the sky with missiles. I know. Spoilers. But it seems like many of them are still alive. So there’s that. Back in the States, the FBI is trying to shut down the Global Church of Akira, which is more than up to the challenge, what with all the tax-free money they’ve accumulated and the MANY social media followers they’ve amassed. And then, the most thoroughly modern of disasters occurs, which put a big grin on my face. This one I won’t spoil.

There were so many other great books this week, including (brace yourselves) a Rebirth title–Batwoman! What made top of the pile for YOU? Feel free to comment. Seriously. You can. Just try it. It’ll be fun. Comments SHOULD be enabled. I think.