Archive for the ‘Reviews’

NOW READ THIS! :: SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE

October 03, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

Though I was among those who read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman in my high school and college days, I came to Sandman Mystery Theatre a little later.  Vertigo knowingly produced the Mystery title in hopes of not only capitalizing on the fame of Sandman, but also telling new stories about a preexisting property.  The Golden Age Sandman was a very ordinary man named Wesley Dodds, who inherited a fortune from his father and was also plagued by nightmares the way his father and forebears were.  Dodds had no superpowers, and his only real offensive weapon came in the form of a gas he’d use to render opponents incapaciatated.  The gas also acted as a truth serum of sorts, prompting confessions and admittances from crooks.  But other than the gas mask and gas gun, there was never much that separated Dodds from, say, The Crimson Avenger, The Green Hornet, The Shadow, or any similarly-clad avengers of the night.

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REVIEW :: BUILDING STORIES

September 28, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

We all have certain creators whose work we habitually return to that remind us why we love comics so much.  For me, Mike Mignola, Dave Stevens, Eddie Campbell and Jacques Tardi all fall into that category.  There is another name I need to add to that list – Chris Ware.  This one might surprise some of you, if for no other reason than the notoriously tedious nature of his storytelling.  It’s no secret that Ware’s books require some dedication from readers.  Still, it’s hard to deny the level of skill that Ware employs in his cartooning, and the equally astronomical level of respect he has for the craft and history of comics.  One of my personal highlights of attending last week’s Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland was not only meet Ware and buy an advanced copy of his latest book, Building Stories, but to also attend a panel where he discussed his latest magnum opus at length.  Here are some initial thoughts following my first reading of Building Stories.

Walking through the halls of SPX with my new copy of Building Stories in tow, I felt not unlike I do whenever my wife wants to go to Ikea.  I usually end up carrying a box the size of a small table of something or other under my arm, and I know it’ll take some time to construct the piece, but it’ll end up being some form of functional furniture.  It’s really not until you crack Building Stories open that you really start to grasp the breadth of this project.  It’s a box full of various sized comics in numerous forms.  There are a few small folded strips, a larger hardcover (which reprints the original Building Stories found in Acme Novelty Library #18, a full newspaper full of comics, a folded game board complete with full diagrams of the building of the title, several large folded comics, and something that looks like a Golden Book that tells the building’s story in the building’s voice.  It’s even worth pointing out the beautiful design work on the box front and back.   I’m sure I left some items out, but needless to say it’s a lot of comics.  When we unpacked the box Sunday night, it took up the entirety of our king size bed.

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FEAST YOUR EYES :: JACK DAVIS: DRAWING AMERICAN POP CULTURE

September 20, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Feast Your Eyes, Reviews

When you think of the comic artists with the most recognizable drawing style, the usual suspects immediately come to mind–Jack Kirby, John Romita, Neal Adams, et.al.
But there is one artist who  is recognizable to almost every American (okay–of a certain age).
Now, when I was 10 years old I was a huge fan of MAD Magazine — it was the late 60s and arguably at it’s second creative peak.  I was beginning to identify (and quantify) different art styles.  That  year, my father took me to a revival of his favorite comedy It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I loved the movie. (a three hour comedy–why not??–give me a break– I was only 10)
The very next day, as I was still buzzing from that comedic onslaught, I spotted the ad for the movie in the local paper and I noticed the caricatures of all the comedians who appeared in the film and (gasp!) I recognized the artist.
It was Jack Davis from MAD.  This changed everything!!!  (Well, not really, but give me some artistic liscence here.)  Once I saw this poster, I began to notice Davis’ art everywhere–More movie ads, Album covers, Magazine covers, cartoon advertisements.
And this book–Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture celebrates and showcases the drawings that made Jack Davis famous and even iconic to three generations of non-comic fans (civilians–bah!) who could recognize his art by sight but most certainly never knew his name.
And for over three decades, his art was everywhere–most notably– his regular gig as cover artist for TIME and TV Guide. This was during the years that they were the two best selling magazines in the world.  Millions enjoyed the Jack Davis drawings.
In addition to all the Jack Davis commercial art — the book includes a beautifully written and insightful biography by Fantagraphics Publisher Gary Groth–you may love him, you may hate him, but either way– he is a terrific writer who knows how to interview and his sentences just flow off the page. The book also includes testimonials from a number of iconic artists who laud Davis’ talent and influence.  My only caveat: The book is brimming with 200 large pages of Davis art and for $50.00, it is an ideal size and a reasonable price, but I came away from the book wanting more.  I would have loved to see more art from the MAD heydays like:
But the book could have doubled or tripled in size (and price).  What is included will certainly do–and do very well!!!
Now I know I’ve recommended a lot of high priced Comic Art Books, so the question you probably want answered is–how essential is Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop?
Simply put:  Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find is kind enough to loan me books so I can read, analyse, review and then return. Once I was finished with it, instead of returning Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop, I bought it.  I had to own it.  It is that good.
If the folks at IDW, Fantagraphics and other publishers continue to publish quality comic art books like this one –well, as Chief Brody might say–“We’re gonna need a bigger coffee table
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Review :: Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics

September 03, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

This is for all of you out there in Heroesland who were unfamiliar with Joe Kubert and did not understand the importance of his his place in comic’s history or the importance of his (and other’s) stature in the history of our beloved medium. There is nothing to be ashamed of–comics has a long rich history and it is hard to get involved in comics’ past when the present is moving so quickly toward the future.
Now, I love comic books and there is only one thing I love more than Comic Books (besides my wife, daughter, and  those fresh Harris Teeter donuts with the sprinkles) and that is Books about Comics. I am a Comic Lit junkie and I try to read every book that gets published about Comic History and Comics Analysis.  And there is a lot out there.  Some of it is OK, some of it is good and some of it is great.  Most books are for the experienced Comic Enthusiast but  sometimes a book is published for fans who are new to our rich history. And Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics by writer Christopher Irving and photographer Seth Kushner is an ideal place for the initiate to annoint themselves in the rich history of Comic book past. In all honesty, the book is really a Photography Portrait album peppered with quite a few fascinating quotes from the creators themselves.
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REVIEW :: BEFORE WATCHMEN

August 27, 2012 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Opinion, Reviews

What makes a good comic book is up for debate. Content-wise, there is no real consensus to be polled. But if the prevailing business model at the Big Two is any indication, good comic books come from the Big Event. There’s a definite thrill to seeing our humble little industry mentioned in grown up newspapers when editors pull stunts like guest-starring the President, but the constant barrage of reboot and crossover can also grow tiresome and desensitizing. It can leave an audience a little cold, especially after the initial buzz of the press release.
It almost goes without saying that no event straddled the gulf between content and concept quite like DC’s Before Watchmen. When the project was announced, the Interwebs lit up with endless flame wars about the merits of such an undertaking. The lines were drawn with a clarity and conviction that was palpable, even for the obsessive comic book fan. Now that DC has completed the roll-out last week with the first issue of Dr. Manhattan, here’s a bucket list of how the books measure up to their source material. (Note: the following views are the author’s own and do not represent Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, Inc. or any of its affiliates – ed.)
Click through for Justin’s Before Watchmen Report Card!
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HEROES REVIEW :: CONCRETE: THREE UNEASY PIECES

August 23, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

Every few years Paul Chadwick puts out a new Concrete story or series through Dark Horse Comics.  It’s one of those books that seems to slip past readers’ periphery in spite of the copious amounts of critical praise it’s received over the years.  Bottom line, Concrete is a book that has maintained relevance over its 25 year history, and the new Three Uneasy Pieces one shot is a fine place to start if you’ve at all been curious about the character.

First things first, I should point out that this new one shot isn’t really brand new, but collects three short stories as they appeared in the recent relaunch of Dark Horse Presents.  That title has been consistently good since the relaunch, but if you’re among those who don’t like putting down $8 a month for a new anthology, this gives you a chance to read the latest Concrete stories for the low price of $2.99.

So what’s the appeal of Concrete?  Imagine if a more philosophical version of Ben Grimm went out to space and was transformed into The Thing, only to return to a completely normal Earth with nary a costumed hero or villain in sight.  How would he make sense of his new body and life?  How would he spend his time and energy?  One of the consistently pleasing aspects of Concrete is how Chadwick allows the character to experience the mundane in spite of his lumbering new physique.  It’s a book that relishes quiet moments and isn’t afraid to feature the lead character awash in reflection.

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NOW READ THIS! :: Age of Bronze by Eric Shanower

August 16, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Now Read This!, Reviews

I know, I know– there are just not enough hours in the day.  I know, I know, it is difficult to stay on budget with so many quality comic products released each and every week.  I know, I know… you have a stack of comics next to your bed/favorite chair/comfy couch that is this high and growing… the last thing you need is for some wise guy like myself insisting you add another book to the pile.

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HEROES REVIEW :: THE CREEP #0

August 14, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Looking Ahead, Reviews

The Creep #0 collects a story from John Arcudi and Jonathan Case that was serialized in three issues of Dark Horse Presents.  For those who don’t like spending $7.99 for a comic, this is a fine way of readings some of the serials for the more affordable price of $2.99.  The issue also acts as a lead in to the upcoming The Creep four issue mini series.  While Arcudi is mostly known for his work on B.P.R.D., The Creep has little in common with that world of monsters and supernatural activity.

In fact, it’s very much rooted in a normal, everyday world.  That said, the main character Oxel Karnhus does have a genetic condition called acromegaly, where the human growth hormone is produced in excess and can cause physical deformities.  Oxel looks a bit like he could’ve been an old Dick Tracy villain, but the twist in this story is that he’s the protagonist.  Not only is he our hero, but he’s a private investigator.  It’s a clever reversal of archetypes, but that’s not the most notable aspect of this book.

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REVIEW: RICHARD STARK’S PARKER: THE SCORE BY DARWYN COOKE

August 07, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

Important disclaimer: I am not an employee of IDW Publishing and I am not paid for my contributions to Heroesonline. So, bottom line: there is no bottom line, I do not get any money from extra copies of The Score that are sold thanks to a rave review. Here is another Bottom Line: If you are a fan of Crime Drama or Crime Fiction or Film Noir you must read Darwyn Cooke’s adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker novels. The first two, The Hunter and The Outfit were outstanding, I didn’t think they could get any better, and boy oh boy, am I excited to tell you that I could not have been more wrong!

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HEROES REVIEW :: HAWKEYE #1

August 02, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Reviews


My love for the character of Hawkeye is well documented in the annals of the Heroes blog, so I won’t bore you with repetition.  I will, however, mention that I’m not usually the kind of reader who will buy up every comic bearing the character’s name.  Hawkeye’s solo comics have been all over the map in terms of quality.  Hearing the news about the latest ongoing series brought some youthful reminiscence about how I’ve enjoyed the character, but also some understandably cautious optimism.  This is, after all, a Hawkeye book.

 

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