Archive for the ‘Reviews’

STAFF PICKS :: HE-MAN: THE ETERNITY WAR #7 :: JULY 1, 2015

June 30, 2015 By: Karla Marsh Category: Reviews, Spotlight on New Releases, Staff Picks

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karla_staff_picksKARLA’S PICK :: HE-MAN: THE ETERNITY WAR #7: Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know, BIG SURPRISE! My pick for the week is He-Man: The Eternity War #7. That’s almost like me saying, “Hey guys, you know what I REALLY like? BREATHING!! Breathing is AWESOME!!” All obviousness aside, however, I AM picking this issue for a reason other than my true and undying love of all things Masters of the Universe. Issue #7 picks up with a new creative team. Rob David and Dan Abnett take the story-crafting reigns for this arc while Edgar Salazar’s pencils bring a slightly edgier look to the Masters. The changes in artistic style are bold, but not detrimental as the story picks up with Skeletor, She-Ra and Skeletor’s minions trying to find a way to best Hordak now that Evil-Lyn has betrayed them. The story is solid and offers more insight into the current incarnation of Skeletor! There’s also some good moments with Shadow Weaver which made me happy! (I want more Princess of Power characters in my Master’s of the Universe!) The cover by Jonboy Meyers is also worth mentioning because, if you look closely, you can see twisted versions of classic She-Ra characters Madame Razz, Kowl and Glimmer in the mix!

Eternity War 7

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REVIEW :: SUPERMAG by JIM RUGG

April 08, 2013 By: Craig Fischer Category: DISCUSS, Feast Your Eyes, Looking Ahead, Reviews

The most important aesthetic breakthrough in comics in the 21st century is the increased attention (by both artists and critics) to the picture plane, the exploration of comics as a rapturous visual experience as well as a vehicle for narrative. The book most responsible for this shift is the anthology Kramers Ergot #4 (2003), which juxtaposed the deliberately crude, resolutely non-narrative aesthetics of Fort Thunder cartoonists like Mat Brinkman and Leif Goldberg with such story-based work as Jeffrey Brown’s autobio strips, Sammy Harkham’s Poor Sailor, and early excerpts from Frank M. Young and David Lasky’s Carter Family graphic novel. This mix of approaches made reading Kramers #4 a disorienting experience, a book that, in critic Bill Kartalopoulos’ words,

was clearly packed with a range of comics and art that included things I was comfortable with, things I was uncomfortable with, and things that I didn’t really know how to categorize. I bought it, without much equivocation. It seemed like I had to if I really wanted to know what was going on in comics.

Part of “what was going on” was a generation following Gary Panter’s example, dedicated to elaborate margins, psychedelic colors, ironic appropriations of mass cult logos and symbols, and mark-making independent of a line’s narrative function. It was suddenly OK to draw rough and be bold.

The Fort Thunder/Kramers paradigm shift has cross-pollinated comics culture in various ways. The newfound emphasis on design and decoration has snuck into some more mainstream direct-market books—I’m thinking of the Fort Thunder-meets-Heavy Metal success of Brandon Graham over at Image—even while Kramers #5 (2004) published my favorite narrative comic novella of the last decade, Kevin Huizenga’s “Jeepers Jacobs.” And then there’s Jim Rugg, an artist uncannily able to toggle between straight-forward storytelling and wild explorations of what Rugg himself, in the introduction to his new Supermag, calls “the narrative collapse.” (more…)

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NOT COMICS :: An Impassioned Review of OZ: The Great and Powerful

March 14, 2013 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

ALL HAIL (a FILM without) DOROTHY

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,  and those opinions are valid, but let me be crystal clear here… in the case of OZ, the Great and Powerful, those great and powerful movie critics are (for the most part) wrong, wrong, wrong.  This is a film that delivers pure movie magic and provides some much needed myth-remaking for the next generation of film aficionados.

Now there is not a snowballs chance in the Impassable Desert that anyone over a certain age can watch the film without comparing it to the 1939 classic musical, The Wizard of Oz.  Instead of creating a pastiche or homage to that Technicolor treasure, director Sam Raimi and his writers take Victor Fleming’s vision of L. Frank Baum’s magical world and infuse it with a new vitality.  Apparently, there are many viewers out there who believe strongly that there are some things that should never be tampered with.

And here is where I disagree.  I grew up watching the WoO and loving it, but the older I got, the weirder the experience became.  The Munchkins made me extremely uncomfortable. The poppies/snow business was always more than a bit strange.  Dorothy was not a little girl no matter how hard MGM tried to corset the great Judy Garland down to size.  What gave Dorothy the right to the ruby slippers?  Did the Wicked witch of the East die intestate?  And Glinda—what was her deal—and the helium she used to float her bubble really affected her speaking voice.  A classic is a classic, but times change.  To younger eyes the MGM Oz looks old fashioned and really fake.  My daughter feigned any interest in the original and today, whenever I catch the film,  I see the tragic fate of Judy Garland unfold in front of our eyes.

I can’t help thinking that most critics did not give the new movie a fair shake for the following reasons… (more…)

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REVIEW :: X-MEN LEGACY #1

November 21, 2012 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

I’ve always liked the X-Men as characters, but their comics always intimidated me. Between the dense continuity and the scope of the X-corner of the Marvel Universe, it’s hard to know where to start. What other major Marvel characters comprise so many story elements? From the political sphere to magic, time travel, intergalactic adventure, and alternate realities, mutantdom, truly, has it all.

Like many readers, I was caught in the net of Jason Aaron’s excellent new series Wolverine and the X-Men when it debuted. The real coup there is that even through the major upheavals brought on by Avengers vs. X-Men, Aaron managed to keep the book fun and accessible, which is a testament to the quality of his craft. It was the gateway I needed to crash the X-Men franchise. (more…)

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NOW READ THIS :: GASOLINE ALLEY: THE THREE FACES OF WALT

November 14, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Now Read This!, Reviews

What is the Great American Comic Strip? Does such a thing exist? Like trying to figure out what book is the Great American Novel or which songwriter is the Great American Composer, it is a fun exercise but there are too many diverse (and worthwhile) opinions.  It is a no-win argument. But still….  Many would choose Peanuts, Pogo or perhaps Little Orphan Annie and those are fabulous choices, but in my own opinion, there is one clear cut leader for that elusive title:  Gasoline Alley


Gasoline Alley was created by Frank King in 1918 as a single panel cartoon for car enthusiasts.  Soon characters began to emerge from the group of amateur alley mechanics and by 1921, the strip had it’s star-young, rotund, tough but loveable Walt Wallet.  Then on Valentine’s Day 1921, Walt is awakened in the middle of the night to find an abandoned baby boy on his doorstep.  For the next 94 years (and counting) Gasoline Alley has told the story of Walt Wallet and his family. (more…)

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HEROES REVIEW :: SHAOLIN COWBOY ADVENTURE MAGAZINE

November 08, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

Even when you work at a comic shop, sometimes you forget when a new book is hitting shelves.  You might even read over the New Releases the Friday before a new shipment comes in, and still manage to overlook something good.  It’s not until you’re unpacking new comics that you see it and think, “How did I miss that?”  This is what happened to me a few weeks ago with Dark Horse’s new release of Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine.  Like many of you, I also live on a budget.  Yeah, it’s the first Shaolin Cowboy book to be produced in years, and sure it’s got art from creator Geof Darrow and Gary Gianni, but should I spend $15.99 on it this week?

(more…)

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MASTER CLASS :: DAVE STEVENS COVERS AND STORIES

November 07, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Feast Your Eyes, Master Class, Reviews

Talk about a book title that leaves all description moot
Dave Stevens Covers and Stories
Sadly, Dave Stevens was taken from us much too early in 2008. This book stands as a testament of his art. The book is 250 large beautiful pages big–the reproduction is flawless and best of all the book is only 49.95!!!
And here is the most unique thing about about the book– with the exception of a terrific intro by fan and legendary cover artist Adam HughesDave Stevens Covers and Stories has virtually no prose beyond Book titles and dates: every page is nothing but corner to corner art–covers, preliminary sketches paintings and the short non-Rocketeer comics. Almost all of the art is shot directly from the original art… (more…)
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NOW READ THIS :: THE CREATIVITY OF STEVE DITKO

November 01, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Now Read This!, Reviews

The history of comics is brimming with mysteries and enigmas.  Did Alex Raymond kill himself? Why did DC cancel the Jack Kirby penned Fourth World series so early in its run? Is it really a true story that Gwen Stacy’s death got published because Stan Lee was out of the office for the month and couldn’t stop it ? Why did Jack Cole take his own life when he seemed to have everything he’d ever wanted?

We can speculate and wonder and gossip and even investigate these topics (and dozens more!) and that is part of the charm and excitement of any long history of any art form filled with quirky and talented individuals.
And there are few names in comics that are as enigmatic as the co-creator of Spider-man, Doctor Strange, Iron Man’s iconic orange and yellow armor, Captain Atom, The Question and The CreeperSteve Ditko
A new book has just been published by YoeBooks! entitled The Creativity of Steve Ditko and the book is a real treasure trove, but it doesn’t even begin to solve any of the mysteries surrounding this very private, very extraordinary man.
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HEROES REVIEW :: MIND MGMT #1-5

October 18, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

Trust me, I get it.  Money’s tight for a lot of us, and when you plop down $3.99 for a twenty page comic, you expect it to at least be worth the cost of admission.  It’s easy to buy a monthly title just because you always have.  It unconsciously becomes more about the routine than the book itself, and inevitably gets to be frustrating when you keep buying the book in spite of your waning interesting in it.  Some readers understandably turn to the act of “trade waiting,” or foregoing the purchase of a monthly title in favor of the more affordable trade paperback.  Still, the monthly comic book holds potential that isn’t always appreciated in these jaded times.  Here’s a brief look at what I think is one of the most underappreciated, innovative monthly comics on the stands today: Matt Kindt’s Mind Mgmt. (more…)

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WHERE DO I START? SPY TRIO: JAMES BOND, AGENT CORRIGAN & MODESTY BLAISE

October 09, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Reviews, Where Do I Start?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved a good spy story.  I grew up reading Robert Ludlum and watching James Bond.  To this day, 007 remains the measuring stick against which all other action heroes are compared.

Nothing beats a good spy plot and nothing is worse that a half-baked one.  This is true for novels, films and comics as well.

Three of the best comic strips currently being reprinted in collected editions involve super spies and for all Espionage fans–I am going to see if I can steer you all over to the comic strip section of the store and enter the world of double agents, action, global scale danger but above all else terrific art and exciting storytelling.

First up is the granddaddy of them all–James Bond.  Titan books has been publishing the entire run of James Bond comic strip–which ran in British newspapers from 1958 to 1984!!!  Originally adapted by Bond creator Ian Fleming and then handled by other writers including  noted novelist Martin Amis, the Bond strip focuses on the characters from the source material and captures the feel of the original novels.  There is less pyrotechnics and more tense drama.  The Cold War is still threatening to go hot any minute and James Bond is right there keeping the world safe with enough time left over to enjoy his cars, his women and his martinis. (Not necessarily in that order)  Although any of the volumes will do nicely– I highly recommend  Colonel Sun, Death Wing, Golden Ghost, The Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy, Phoenix Project, Spy Who Loved Me and Trouble Spot . Each volume contains three or four complete and self-contained stories. So pick up any one.  You will end up buying them all and then you will find yourself reading the original novels as well. Great Stuff!

Now, across the pond here in America, the talented comic team of writer Archie Goodwin and artist Al Williamson were asked to breath new life into the long running daily comic strip Secret Agent X-9 which was created by the unlikely team of Dashiell (Sam Spade) Hammett and Alex (Flash Gordon) Raymond way back in 1934!.  Rechristened  Secret Agent Corrigan, Goodwin and Williamson did more than just invigorate the strip, they made it their own.  For over 12 years, from 1967 to 1980, they turned Secret Agent Corrigan into arguably the last great adventure comic strip published in the US.  The stories are fast paced, exciting, economical and intelligent.  The storytelling is clear and beautifully rendered.  Each daily strip contains panels which are never too busy that the art becomes a distraction. Any volume of the IDW published series will do the job, but I especially recommend Volumes 2, 3 and 4. Greater Stuff!

EVERY PANEL is THIS GOOD!!

OK–Bond is a terrific read, and Corrigan is a true high-point in adventure strip history, but I saved the best Spy strip for last – Modesty Blaise.  Along with Steve Canyon and Johnny Hazard, Modesty Blaise is in my top three all-time favorite comic strips.  The plots are intelligent and exciting and above all–consistent. The strip ran in Britain for over 20 years and when the creator/writer Peter O’Donnell finally shut down his word processor, longtime fans were angry. In over 100 adventures, O’Donnell never repeated himself– and more importantly, the strip never “jumped the shark.” What really made Modesty Blaise hum was the relationship between the title heroine and her partner the very lethal Willie Garvin.  Their relationship was unlike any in fiction.  There was no sexual tension– instead their friendship was based on mutual admiration and respect.  And that respect was hard-earned. In these reprint books, the danger is real and the setting, tone and illustration are strictly for adults! Any volume will do the series justice, but Cry Wolf, Death Trap, Gallows Bird, Green-Eyed Monster, Sweet Caroline, Top Traitor, Black Pearl, Yellowstone Booty and Puppet Master are all essentials! Greatest stuff!!!

Now you see what Willie Garvin sees!

So if you are a fan of spy fiction, these three titles really fit the bill.  Give any one a try–you will be back for more.  Like the owner of the Men’s Warehouse, I guarantee it.

 

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