Author Archive

STAFF PICKS :: AVENGERS & X-MEN AXIS #1 & PUNKS THE COMIC #1 :: OCTOBER 8, 2014

October 07, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICKS: AVENGERS & X-MEN AXIS #1: I wasn’t a big Marvel reader in the Heroes Reborn days, and the subsequent emergence of the villain called Onslaught. But when promotional material started showing up for Marvel’s next big event – Axis – featured that iconic armor with the Red Skull’s head peeking out, I was intrigued. It’s been a while since the Red Skull was such a major threat, and Uncanny Avengers (the series that laid the foundation for Axis) has been one of Marvel’s more consistently entertaining titles. So this is an event I actually look forward to with some anticipation. With Rick Remender, one of my favorite writers, at the helm, I know I can count on a certain level of quality.

axis

PUNKS THE COMIC #1: Speaking of Mr. Remender, my first exposure to the guy was an interview he did with Dog, a character from Punks, in a special that came out in the mid 2ks. The premise is simple: four roommates, Abe Lincoln, Dog, Skull, and Fist, share a domicile and engage in various shenanigans. It’s absurd and hilarious, and the art style Kody Chamberlain employs, an analogue collage approach, suits the subject matter perfectly. Now, Chamberlain and writer Joshua Hale Fialkov unleash new misadventures of this unlikely foursome via Image Comics, and I urge any fan of quality humor comics to give this one a go. Chuckles guaranteed.

punks

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STAFF PICKS :: PROPHET STRIKEFILE #1 :: SEPTEMBER 10, 2014

September 10, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: Uncategorized

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: PROPHET STRIKEFILE #1: I love anything encyclopedic. I can while away days with a few Official Handbooks of the Marvel Universes, or Who’s Who?es, or what-have-you. The cumulative nature of serial fiction – and especially comics – gets so awe-inspiring when everything is condensed down to its most basic summary…something about it compels me. We’ll let the mystery be. Anyway, now Prophet gets the treatment, and with the wild talents of Brandon Graham and Simon Roy at the helm, this little pamphlet o’ factoids is sure to fascinate. And we can all use a scorecard, sometimes.

prophet strikefile

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STAFF PICKS :: GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS #1 :: SEPTEMBER 3, 2014

September 01, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS #1: Ryan Browne sent me some VERY inappropriate pictures. However, they were not sent via cellphone, and they were not unsolicited. Rather, they were contained in his delightfully grotesque book (OGN, as the kids say these days) God Hates Astronauts. Lucky for us mere mortals, Browne has come back down the mountain, and deigned to grace us with an ongoing follow-up from Image Comics. A glorious misappropriation of the superhero genre, I LOL’d more at GHA than I have at 1,000 cat memes. That’s kind of GHA in a nutshell: cat memes, with more punching. And violence. And potty humor. And cool drawings instead of stupid cat pictures. I don’t know, just buy the darn thing! Twice, because it has two covers.

ghabrowne

ghadarrow

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STAFF PICKS :: TALES DESIGNED TH THRIZZLE TP VOL 01 :: AUGUST 27, 2014

August 26, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE TP VOL 01: If you don’t like this comic, I cannot help you. I can maybe pretend to help you, and I may be accommodating and pleasant, but we both know that the thrizzle is gone. That flame is doused. How could I really, truly concern myself with someone who would deprive themselves of the joy and the ecstasy that is Michael Kupperman‘s Tales Designed to Thrizzle? You just hate laughter, don’t you? We have a name for people like you: the Enemy of Fun. That’s right! ENEMY! OF FUN! Go read a Chris Ware comic, you miserablist! GOSH.

thrizzle

…and JUST SO YOU KNOW the calibre of AWESOME JOKES you’re WILFULLY IGNORING, here’s a favorite bit o’ mine. LIKE YOU CARE.

indiangum

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STAFF PICKS :: HIP HOP FAMILY TREE GN VOL 02 :: AUGUST 20, 2014

August 19, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: HIP HOP FAMILY TREE VOL 02: Ed Piskor and Fantagraphics drop the second volume of this exhaustively researched and obsessively detailed history of America’s most misunderstood (and misappropriated) indigenous art form. Like comic books, baseball, and its predecessor jazz, hip-hop is a mode of expression that is undeniably ours, and for better or worse, it has infiltrated the global consciousness. Piskor has revealed himself as an authority on the subject, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see setting pen-to-paper in this pursuit. The treasury format gives the art plenty of room to breathe, while lending an essential old school nostalgia. If you missed out on the opening chapter of this modern masterpiece, worry not…Fantagraphics also offers a new printing of volume one to satisfy your souls. Read up, son!

hiphopfamilytree2

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STAFF PICKS :: DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE HC VOL 05 PHANTOM BLOT :: JULY 16, 2014

July 16, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE HC VOL 05 OUTWITS THE PHANTOM BLOT: Here’s a comic nerd SAT analogy for you: Carl Barks : Donald Duck :: Floyd Gottfredson : Mickey Mouse. Fantagraphics continues their handsome reprints of Gottfredson’s definitive work on Disney’s beloved mascot with this fifth volume. Before he was a ubiquitous shill, Mickey was an adventurer through and through, as these strips testify. Volume five pits Mickey against (arguably) his greatest villain: the Phantom Blot. Actually the creation of Gottfredson himself, the Blot is a brilliant example of minimalist design, evoking menace and mystery, making him a compelling villain indeed. And just wait ‘til you see his unmasking…no spoilers! Great for fans young and young-at-heart, these books are also a keen reminder of the tactile pleasures print media offers.

phantomblot

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STAFF PICKS :: DKW DITKO KIRBY WOOD ONE SHOT :: JULY 02 2014

July 01, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: DKW DITKO KIRBY WOOD ONE SHOT: Hello, Staff Picks, how have you been? Sorry, I’ve been a real jerk. I haven’t called, I didn’t write. HeroesCon had us all hopping…I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Maybe if I offer you this awesome Fantagraphics one shot? Would that help? Cartoonist Sergio Ponchione draws three different stories in the signature styles of those titular titans Steve, Jack, and Wally. It’s a gorgeously designed book, as well, tastefully toned and wrapped in a masterful cover. I know I’ve neglected you, Staff Picks, but can’t we put that all behind us now, and just be together again? Aw, you’re the best. I knew you’d understand.

dkw

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STAFF PICKS :: SOUTHERN BASTARDS #2 :: MAY 28 2014

May 28, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: SOUTHERN BASTARDS #2: When I see the word “southern” in anything, I am immediately skeptical. I’m all too accustomed to our region and citizenry being unfairly pigeonholed as a bunch of unthinking bigot morons. Thankfully, Jasons Aaron and Latour sidestep all that, and craft a tale that’s somewhere between pulp and spiritual. I’m sure nearly every one of you read #1; this is a gentle reminder that #2 needs your attention, as well. Aaron is working the spaces between genres like he did in his acclaimed Vertigo series Scalped, and Latour’s art is a blend of darkness and whimsy in the grand EC tradition (don’t let those colors fool you, I see Kurtzman and Davis both lurking in that line work).

sthbsts

 

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STAFF PICKS :: ANDRE THE GIANT LIFE & LEGEND GN :: MAY 14, 2014

May 13, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: ANDRE THE GIANT LIFE & LEGEND GN: Fellow 80s kids will understand the childhood affinity for professional wrestling. It’s a cult that runs right up to today, but it found its footing and gathered its momentum in those halcyon days of Reaganomics and bad newsman toupees. The sport has its detractors; personally, I just enjoyed it for what it was: a good show. And we must remember, for all its highfalutin pretension and staggering gallery listings, art is, at its core, show business. It would seem that’s the point Box Brown is underlining in his biography of pro wrestling icon Andre the Giant. Once we start to gauge art by assumed intentions or monetary gain, we must evaluate ALL art by the same criteria, and that, my friends, is a slippery slope. Art is in the heart of the artist, and I believe this tender portrait of Mr. Roussimoff will illustrate that point quite well. Brown dove into some exhaustive research for this project, and his style – somewhere at the intersection of Tezuka and Pendleton Ward – is perfectly suited for the subject matter. Expect this one to show up on plenty of best-of-the-year lists, come December.

andregiant

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STAFF PICKS :: APRIL 23, 2014

April 21, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: Some weeks, doing a staff pick can be pretty tough. I mean, I know there are homeless and starving people in the world, but do THEY have to sift a SINGLE comic book – out of hundreds – to highlight on a weekly basis? NO. Clearly, my plight is underrated. Taking a cue from our man Phil, I’m just going to babble about a few things that’ve struck my fancy of late. We’ll call this the Southern Variation, since that’s an appropriately nerdy in-joke one out of ten of you will understand.

First of all, Uncanny Avengers. This is my favorite Marvel comic going right now (but it better watch its back, She-Hulk’s creeping up fast). Rick Remender packs more into a single issue than most writers manage to squeeze into a trade paperback. The pacing can be pretty glacial, and he wanders off on a lot of tangents, but man, are they good tangents. Remender is one of those guys that really understands the synthesis of plot and characterization, and how crucial that alchemy is to comics. Too many of his contemporaries seem to sacrifice one for the other, and it makes for some pretty boring and/or predictable comics. Of course, having Daniel Acuña illustrate your scripts is never collateral damage, and this guy’s stuff just gets better and better. I liken his artistic development to whittling: the more he shaves off, the more beauty is revealed. Uncanny Avengers #16 is part two of a big denouement for the series – Avenge the Earth – and even though the involvement of Kang makes any incident inherently undoable, it’s about the trip, not the destination.

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If you’d like to take a different trip, why not visit the fantastical land featured in Chris Roberson and Paul Maybury’s new Image sword and sorcery series, Sovereign? Issue two is out this week; #1 teased just enough to really whet the imagination.  Understandably, it concerned itself more with exposition and conceptualizing, but hinted at broad enough conflicts to fuel this title for some time. The focus is split between a few different classes: religious, royal, and warrior, and an underlying sense of dread informs the whole issue. This is an obvious choice for fans of Saga or Game of Thrones, and the art! Paul Maybury is consistently overlooked as a reliable and deft storyteller. The guy deserves more eyes on his stuff. Provide a pair, won’t you?

sov2

Lastly, my generation will not permit the publication of a Simpsons one-shot without at least a passing remark. After the likes of Mr. Burns, Professor Frink, and even Lisa Simpson have proven to be shining solo stars, who could warrant the treatment next? Moe Szyslak? Bumblebee Man? The Captial City Goofball? Close, but no cigar! It’s the one, the only…DUFFMAN! That’s right, Springfield’s resident swill shill is ready for Spring Break with an issue of his very own comics magazine! What shenanigans may ensue are anyone’s guess, but here’s hoping the Seven Duffs show up (“Surly only looks after one guy: Surly.”). I suppose for this particular issue, we’ll have to move back to the former genre rack residency…but then again, what 80s kid didn’t adore Spuds MacKenzie? Alas, those were different, heady times.

duffman

Welp, that’s the top of the heap for me this week. Good night, and good luck. See you in the funnypages. Etc.

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