The Annotated Sword 1-24 by Luna Brothers or how these issues kicked my ass!

Okay, you know how I was championing the collected edition of the Luna Brother’s GIRLS. Brilliant book by the way, proudly displayed on my bookshelf.

Okay I just made it all the way through THE SWORD. All 24 issues, I have both the issues and the collected edition but I do feel you get something out of reading the letters-pages, plus I like the sense of temporality (yes I did just invent that word :) ) it gives to the story, the definite sense of cliffhangers and pacing, that is felt when you have to close one book and transition to the next. I think it works surprisingly well in those 22 page chunks. So my first time through I’m reading the issues as opposed to the big honking collected edition.

I have to say as good as GIRLS is, and it is very good, THE SWORD is head and shoulders better.

Well, I just finished all 24 issues, and gone through the collected edition(I love that they include the original covers to break up the chapters… take note Robert Kirkman, that’s how you’re supposed to do a collected edition!… definitely helps with the sense of temporality), over two years of story and art… my verdict?

Well first, let’s back up and be petty for a bit.

The title, brilliant title, very simple, very to the point… THE SWORD.

How can you mess that up?

Well you’d be surprised! I need to call a couple people out, while it is spelt SWORD, the W is silent, it is pronounced ‘sord’. So unless you’re effing Arnold Schwarzenegger, you don’t pronounce the damn W. When in doubt check the effing dictionary! Damn podcasters! I’m looking at you!!! You know who you are! :) . (Oh and don’t get all riled I love podcasters. In fact my 2010 Best of Podcast Retrospective will probably be up next posting!)

And it’s not ‘supposibly’, the word is supposedly. I swear everyone who comes from a certain close by state, that will remain nameless, pronounces it ‘supposibly’, drives me up the frigging wall.

Do you feel the hate? I Know, I’m sorry, I’m usually in such a good mood when I do these blog updates.

But I’m in really an odd place right now, after reading THE SWORD.

Okay for those who haven’t read it, all you need to know is… it is brilliant! Go buy it now!

I do highly recommend reading it, because it is one of the most brilliant works in its construction and its audacity, that you are going to find. And because they offer the original covers to denote chapter breaks, the collected edition will work brilliantly as most peoples first, and only, introduction to the work.

Check here to purchase the individual issues.

Check here to purchase the massive, bludgeon your neighbor, beautiful collected edition of THE SWORD.

Check here to purchase THE GIRLS huge, honking collected edition!.

I appreciate if you use these links as they help make a few pennies for this blog. So it’s a great way to get a great item for yourself or a loved one, and also help me continue bringing you these mad blog posts! So thanks in advance! And if you do buy via the links drop me an email, or leave a comment here saying you bought it or what you thought of it, and I’ll send you a freebie for supporting. Now back to our regularly scheduled program… :)

So go, buy the collected edition, say uncle HT sent ya, then come back and read the rest of this. Because beyond this point there be Dragons! Spoilers abound as I give a play by play of my run through the series, to the ending, to the odd place I am right now.

You’ve been warned. Okay, without further ado…

The Annotated Sword 1-24 or how these issues kicked my ass!

#1- If you’re not familiar with the Luna Brother’s the art can at first seem simplistic, stiff. But trust me it is anything but. What you’ll get in-tuned to, almost immediately, is the brothers are masters of conveying emotion through these lines on paper. The facial expressions are amazing and convey an almost palpable sense of who these characters are. And that emotion transcends the seeming minimalism of the artwork. Also they make the art breathe, mostly Jonathan in terms of the finished art, Joshua is credited with Layout and Lettering, and they both do the story. A big part of why the artwork works is the coloring and lighting and shading and perspective and focus and variety of other effects Jonathan uses to imbue these 2 D images with life. Another part is shot selection, and the use of panels against a black background. You become that much more funneled in, due to the images of light bound by that darkness. I’ve heard cinematic used to describe the effect, it works as well as any, though sensual is perhaps more accurate. This issue introduces us to Dara Brighton, a nice introduction, a meaningful one, before all meaning leaves her life; or more accurately, before her life becomes hijacked, forfeit, to greater meanings. It’s a great first issue with a cliffhanger to set the stage, for many to come.

#2-2nd issues can often be difficult, as they are oft the exposition heavy portion of the story. The great thing you learn in this issue, and that continues throughout the series is the Luna Brothers ability to make their talking scenes as compelling and captivating as their action sequences. The silences in the hands of the Lunas are as deafening as the explosions.

#3- Speaking of explosions this is where we learn what the Sword, and a young woman called Dara Brighton, picked by fickle fate to survive… can do. Phenomenal, jaw-dropping (in more ways than one) issue! The first “shout-out-loud” great cliffhanger of the series. A+.

#4- What amazes me is the Luna Brothers art. No one is going to mistake their art for Kevin Nowlan, or Art Adams, or Alex Ross or Gil Kane or JH Williams III or any of the masters of the medium, technically they are not draftsmen of that level, however what they are is masterful storytellers. I said it before it comes down to expression and shot selection, and using those two tools, they’ve created an issue that moves, and compels you to turn pages! They rivet you with just how masterfully they invest their characters into the story, and you into the characters. Add to that their ear for dialog, the naturalistic amidst the absurd. This issue is a chase, and at the end of it Dara Brighton, wielder of the sword… makes a choice that puts her at the mercy of a world that cannot understand her. B+.

#5 The thing that strikes you about this issue is just how solid and strong the storytelling is. From Dara waking up to see herself chained in a mirror, to her breakdown as the agent makes her consider her father’s culpability in her family’s murder, to the perspective shot of her leaping over the agents. Just great visual storytelling to go with a great story. A-.

#6- Dara is reunited with her fugitive friends, and a history lesson is told. Very engrossing. B+.

#7- This issue flows between riveting storytelling and laugh-out loud moments. “Girl pants”, “bus trip”. And the Luna Brothers are masters of the final page. Of that iconic last image/line that makes you go “Damn!”. I own the SWORD COLLECTED EDITION but the best way to initially read this series, and the way I’m doing it, is reading the singles with letter pages. You really need that moment between issues, to recognize that down-time, that transition. Great issue. A-.

#8- Another winner “Reached into the bowl” Great issue, but you know what I said previously about the Lunas being the masters of the last page. If this last page doesn’t make you cackle out loud, there is something wrong with you. Masterful cliffhangers. Plus that’s a fantastic cover. A-.

#9-If the ending of this issue doesn’t make you go…”Aww Sh*t!!!!” , then I repeat… There is something wrong with you. Yeah bring it!!!! Frigging awesome storytelling. Dara at the mercy of the monster that killed her sister.A+.
.

#10- Woah. Like the protagonist you suddenly realize this is a lot harder than you thought it was going to be. A-.

#11- It’s a LOT! LOT!! HARDER! Man, what a throwdown, and it’s getting worse. You can almost say shes on her last… legs? Doh! It’s compulsive page turning entertainment. A-.

#12 The first year or thereabouts of the SWORD comes to an end, and the Luna Brothers could not have ended it better. Dara is 1/3rd of the way through her ordeals, and it has taken much. It primes you, as does the last page, primes the remaining two thirds with simple question… what next? Great issue. A-.

#13- Coming off the powerhouse first 12 issues, this issue was more a lull before the storm. Didn’t really captivate or emotionally resonate with me like previous issues, on first read, but still good. B.

#14- Is back on stride, as Dara and friends… storm the house of an elder god. Great “Bring it!” Cliffhanger! B+.

#15- Efffing INSANE! There are no words! Just read the audacious lunacy that is this issue! Man! They are putting this girl through a lot. A+.

#16- Dara goes toe to toe with an elder God. Nuff said. A+.

#17- Dara vs Giant Rock Elder God! More, more, more. B+/A-.

#18- What a frigging AWESOME final page! Cackling my head off like a loon. Absolutely brilliant. And just the expressions the Luna Brothers put on everyone, but especially Dara as a woman driven beyond all limits of man or god, to exact revenge. Brilliant. A-frigging +.

#19- Wow. How is it possible the Luna Brothers can follow up one of their most action packed issues, with a contemplative one, of mostly talking heads and make it one of the best issues of the run? I’m in awe, as Dara and Friends discuss the future and the past on the way to meet the last of the gods. A+.

#20- Dara lands in New York… and mayhem ensues. Absolutely great series. A-.

#21- Do you know what it is that makes these issues, this story so great. The Luna Brothers have an unerring grasp of both the naturalistic, who we are in our everyday failings and strivings to succed, and the iconic, and their ability to switch between those two poles of our existence… powers what is best about THE SWORD. Once again the last few pages made me go… OH YEAH! And that by itself deserves an A+.

#22- Ouch! That was effing harsh. I don’t even have that particular organ, and it hurt me to watch. I can’t even grade this issue, kinda painful. Double ouch.I go into the last two issues, and I who have known the world… am afraid, That’s pretty damn good storytelling.

#23- Okay. Did not see that coming at all—- brain overloading– too much data! Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Series is blowing my mind.

This is MAJOR SPOILER territory, so read only after reading the whole series.

#24- And now we come to the end. God that was fucking depressing. Talk about a crucifixtion. That’s no way for anybody to die. To go through all that pain, save the world, and then to end like that. Man you Luna Brothers are some cruel SOBs. Uhhh… so depressed, must open vein now.

Over 2 years of story… brilliant, but why oh why would the Luna Brothers let the story of Dara end so brutally, so… unfairly. I know, I know… cause life isn’t fair. Efff that!!! You save the world multiple times you should get more for it than… that. I’m on record as wanting an epilogue to this story to give Dara the happy ending she deserves. I’m looking at you Luna Brothers! I’M LOOKING AT YOU! Call me a hopefull romantic, but I like to believe in happy endings.

“When you strip everything away from the Batman, you’re left with someone who doesn’t want to see anybody die!”–from Ross and Waid’s KINGDOM COME

Unlike the above quote I understand that all life ends in death, but I guess if you strip everything away from me you’re left with someone who doesn’t want anyone to die badly. Who believes that lives of honor, should warrant a little bit of happiness or at least deaths of honor.

It is a dark end to a brilliant book. However I would like to imagine an unseen end to Dara Brighton, where she was acknowledged for her great deeds, and given a gift for those deeds. A boon.

It’s a dream… I have.

And who knows, much like David Peterson of Mouse Guard… who let famous writers and artists do a take on his characters, maybe the Lunas could do a similar one-shot epilogue issue where various creators give their take on Dara Brighton’s end or resurrection or salvation, etc.

Well that’s it for now. Luna Brothers’ are taking a break from joint work, to pursue individual projects, so nothing on the horizon (beyond possible movie talk) to followup THE SWORD. But whatever the future brings for these talented young men (have you seen them? They look like they are ten. To be that young and that talented is mind blowing!) they have left a body of work that will long be admired, enjoyed, and ultimately emulated.

The ending did not make me a happy camper, but the ride is not to be missed. THE SWORD by The Luna Brothers gets my highest recommendation… A-.

I saw this poster, and this young lady would make the perfect Dara Brighton. The combination of beauty, a certain foreboding, a certain vulnerability, and a certain resolve, all captured in a look. Her face is impossible to look away from. With lips that men in ages past built temples to. Alluring on levels that words do barely touch.

Jason Aaron vs. Alan Moore vs DC Comics vs the History of Comics


I think most people are aware of this brouhaha.

But for those late to the game Alan Moore, was interviewed, as is wont to happen, and was asked about DC’s plan to do new stories in the WATCHMEN universe that he and Dave Gibbons created nearly 3 decades ago. Moore’s response was typical Alan Moore, both erudite and acidic and a bit tongue in cheek. Satire and epiphany are strengths not just of Moore’s writing, but his speaking.

Deconstruction is the term you typically hear in regards to Moore. But epiphany is more accurate. SWAMP THING and WATCHMEN and MIRACLE-MAN are often lumped under the lazy man’s term of deconstruction.

They are not.

Moore takes old tropes, and he twists it till you see it, in that rarest of ways, in a brand new light, until you get a moment of… clarity of purpose, not just about the character you’re reading about, but in some crazy way, you get a clarity of purpose about yourself.

Epiphany.

That’s what Moore does at his best, he gives you moments of epiphany.

And that Epiphany is in that interview he does with Adi Tantimedh.

Moore started his career with comedy, true comic strips, I would say he has forgotten more about humor than most people will ever know, except I don’t think he’s forgotten anything. So with this in mind, in the interview he responded to DC’s claim to be putting top-flight talent on these new Watchmen stories. He responded the way pretty much anyone would… with a bit of incredulity. But more than that with a valid question of, “if this talent is so top-flight, why don’t they create their own tales” (paraphrasing there), rather than try and retread Moore and Gibbon’s 25 year old tale.

I have to say, I think that’s a pretty valid question. You can read his post in Rich Johnston’s very nice summation of the issue here!

But when you do read it, you’re going to see it’s pretty typical Moore. And given his problematic history with DC, that they’ve treated him not exactly the greatest, for someone who has pretty much defined that company in the 80s, and his shadow, seemingly continues to define that company; it’s an understandable distrust/dislike he avows.

It’s hard to say, what building blocks if removed causes the house of cards to come tumbling down, but I would say for DC, that building block is named Alan Moore.

Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING, its success created Vertigo, buried the comics code, sanctified the idea of DCs hiring of British Talent, and his WATCHMEN would give birth to this idea of comic books as BOOKS. As Graphic Novels, as something worthy of true literary consideration. So arguably if Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING fails, then the idea of the British invasion fails with it, and you don’t get Neil Gaiman or Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis or Mark Millar or Garth Ennis, and DCs revitalization of the late 80s… is stillborn.

So even by the most jaded eye, what DC owes Alan Moore, cannot be overstated, or easily repaid. And even by the most jaded eye, DC has done a piss-poor job paying it.

So all that backmatter goes into Moore’s comments on DC ‘revisiting’ WATCHMEN.

And like stated Moore’s questioning of putting ‘Top-Tier’ talent on their WATCHMEN cash grab (let’s call it what it is) sounds like him quite rightly questioning what the hell that ‘catch-phrase’ means. Seemingly it’s a veiled attempt to placate users, that see messing with Moore’s opus may be a bit of heresy, by saying “we don’t have the original creators, but we’ll have top-tier talent”. To which, if it was my legendary property, I would have the same question Moore has, namely… “if they are such Top-Tier talent they surely have their own legendary story to work on. Don’t they?”

That’s the gist of Moore’s statement.

At no point does he mention any creator.

Yet Jason Aaron, gets so incensed, he states “Fuck You Alan Moore” and goes on a tirade. His tirade you can find at the link above. It is quite inexplicable. Since as pointed out, without Alan Moore you don’t get a Vertigo, which means you don’t get someone picking up Aaron’s THE OTHER SIDE, which means you probably don’t get Jason Aaron as a comic writer.

“F**k you Alan Moore”? seriously? Something in that article incensed anyone that much? Typically the only thing that gets people riled up that much, about an article their name is not in, is their conscience. They feel for whatever reason… the article is an attack on them. Seemingly they see a truth unspoken, except in their hearts. What truth Jason Aaron saw, what doubt or slight it called to mind, I don’t know. But whatever it was, I didn’t see it in the Moore article I read.


“Alan’s fight with DC Comics led to DC being much nicer to comic creators so as not to have a repeat performance. Their creator ownership/creator participant contract for certain titles, including Scalped, was a direct result of that. Indeed, Vertigo itself as a imprint owes more to Alan than any other creator. Without Alan, there wouldn’t be a Scalped – at least, not published by DC.

Alan generally does these kind of interviews in a very self deprecatory, ironic to[n]e. It’s the way he talks. I gave an example of that at the beginning of the interview, because I know how his words can be taken if read in a different manner. Try watching the video, then reading the piece again in that voice. When Alan is talking about the comics industry having no top flight talent – he’s including himself in that analysis. And I don’t think he’s blaming any creator for his problems, or the problems of a retro-looking industry, he’s blaming the companies.”— from BLEEDING COOL

Jason Aaron would perhaps be better served, by thinking clearly, and perhaps thoroughly, before he speaks, or types. Better yet, perhaps burying the hatchet with Alan Moore and apologizing would not be a bad thing for him to consider.

Being loud and outraged is easy. Being stand-up when you’re wrong is hard.

But it would win Aaron points in many people’s books, and I think even in his own.

I think Aaron, if he judges it quietly and well, must see he went off for no good reason, seeing an enemy where no enemy was. Aaron has proved he can be loud and think he’s right, unfortunately we all can do that (even Alan Moore who has had his own share of tirades); but can he be loud and admit when he’s been wrong?

I like Aaron as a writer. I thought his THE OTHER SIDE was great. I haven’t followed anything past the first trade on SCALPED, but have heard good things about it. And have caught his Marvel work sporadically.

He’s a good writer.

But I think you have to come to the plate with more than good, before you call down the thunder on someone who has done a lot better than good. Has done a lot better than great.

I’ve never particularly been a fan of the British invasion. I think people tend to forget that long before Moore or his ilk, writers like Doug Moench (hugely underrated writer) and Chris Claremont and Kraft and Giffen and Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber and Jim Shooter and Denny Oneil and JM DeMatteis were teaching the medium how to be better.

So I say the following, not being an Anglophile or British Invasion bandwagon rider, not being a particular fan of many British Writers. I say the following, being very glad we have great American writers like Brubaker, and Fraction and Hickman and Christos Gage, and Priest (get back to writing!) and Geof Johns and Greg Rucka and Joss Whedon and Johnathan Hickman and Robert Kirkman and… yes, Jason Aaron…, being very glad of all the aforementioned writers… I say: Alan Moore has been called the best writer in comics for one simple, undeniable reason… he is.

He has the work to back it up. Not everything he does is a home-run. His Avatar work… not a fan. But Moore’s missteps are few and far between, and his successes… will stand the test of time.

So bottom line, you don’t call out Stan Lee, until you’ve done what he’s done. And you don’t call out Alan Moore, until you’ve done, what he’s done.

So for one professional to go off like a crazy fan-boy to another professional, does nothing but put your own professionalism in doubt. If you thought he was slighting you personally, drop the man an email or give him a call, and get a clarification. But make sure you have reason to rant, before calling out an elder statesman of your medium.

It’s just common sense.

Perhaps not so common.

The return of UNDER THE RADAR Vol2 Issue 2! Part 1 of 2!

“Must we start every sup, with who we love and who we don’t?” —Peter O’Toole in the LION IN WINTER


Okay it’s that time again. My recommendation for comic books/graphic novels to preorder now for January 2011 arrival.

If while going though the below list you see any titles that you want to purchase current or backissues of go

here.

But first, what is UNDER THE RADAR?

UNDER THE RADAR was an experiment I started a while ago that I was quite proud of. Basically a very cool PDF I launched out to comic book retailers and fans to highlight titles you would otherwise miss, or get lost in the deluge from bigger publishers flooding the market.

It was fun, and very intensive, and very time consuming, so when time became an issue it fell by the wayside.

But I notice my old UNDER THE RADAR posts get a lot of hits, and even though a lot of people are doing preview podcasts (audio/radio-like programs dedicated to recommending items to preorder), those can be quite time consuming, when what most people are looking for is a quickly viewed list of recommended items they might otherwise miss.

So with that in mind, UNDER THE RADAR is back, but in a FAR simpler format. No PDF, no long diatribes. just a monthly listing of new titles to preorder or be on the lookout for.

Okay without further ado, this is a list of titles you can preorder this month through your local retailer for January 2011 arrival.


Marvel

No letters pages, no back matter, ads breaking up the story.

All these odd decisions from Marvel give no incentive to buy marvel issues monthly. Seemingly, they don’t care enough to give you a something beyond what you would get in the trade paperback, a real sense of a Stan Lee dialog, or sense of a monthly behind the scenes look at the creative process, so generally I say eff em. I’m talking about the publishing policies and policy makers of Marvel, not generally the creators, (as marvel has some great creators, but perhaps in service of not the greatest decision makers) but rather the lackluster way the creations are fed to you.

So even though Marvel floods the market with well over a hundred titles a month, their policies make it very easy to dismiss most of them from purchase consideration. The exceptions for this month?

$4.99 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500

Written by MATT FRACTION Art & 50/50 Covers by SALVADOR LARROCA Variant Covers by MARKO DJURDJEVIC, JOE QUESADA & JOHN ROMITA JR. GIANT-SIZED ANNIVERSARY ISSUE! Three generations of Starks face their ultimate foe, seventy-some years in the future while, in the present, Spider-Man joins Iron Man as he tries to fill in the blanks of his missing memory. What if amnesia was a weapon? What if the smartest man in the land had ten nightmares that all came true? Who is the son of Tony Stark? What’s inside of the rings? The future starts now, for the Marvel Universe’s favorite futurist. The Eisner-award-winning series makes a four-hundred-something-issue leap and raises a glass of non-alcoholic champale in salute to Ol’ Shell-head! By Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, CASANOVA) and Salvador Larroca (UNCANNY X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR), with special guests Howard X, Y and Z! 104 PGS./Rated A …$4.99

100 pgs for $5. Not great, but I do like what Matt Fraction is doing with this book. Hopefully it isn’t full of reprints to pad out the page count, but figure the odds of that. A lukewarm recommendation.

* Marvel had a couple interesting trades, but their pricing is outrageous. For 4 and 5 issues of content they are trying to charge $20 to $30 for a collected edition, trade, or hc. Which basically boils down to them trying to charge you between $4 and $6 per issue collected. To that I say, hell no. A trade should, with rare eceptions, be no more than $2 per issue collected. So if you are only collecting 4 issues you’re only going to get $8 from me. And if it costs more than that you get nothing from me.

So Marvel trades get nothing from me this month.

*I’m interested in Matt Fraction’s THOR but not interested enough to pay $4 an issue, they can keep it.

$1.95 (save $1.04) THUNDERBOLTS #152
Written by JEFF PARKER Penciled by KEV WALKER Cover by GREG LAND The T-Bolts leap into HULK’s “Scorched Earth”! At the request of Steve Rogers, Luke Cage must take his hardened team to deal with a doomsday scenario unleashed in the pages of HULK! And now that the squad is a man short, Cage finally uses his power to recruit another prisoner to duty–and his pick will shock you! Will the Thunderbolts accept this new member as a part of their force? Or will this heavy duty wild card destroy the balance of power? Find out in the series that Newsarama.com’s Best Shots calls “The Avengers title that not enough people are raving about…it’s one of the best of the bunch.” 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99 (preview artwork is available)

The reason I’m picking up this title is it has potential, it has Luke Cage:Power Man (They need to go back to calling him that), Jeff Parker is a good writer, storyline sounds like a good jumping on point, and the price is $2.99. So to keep me picking it up monthly they’ll need to add letterpages or backmatter, or I’ll be hopping off of it relatively soon.

$2.99 BLACK PANTHER MAN WITHOUT FEAR #514

Written by DAVID LISS Penciled by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA Cover by SIMONE BIANCHI Luke Cage guest stars as T’Challa’s new adventure in NYC continues! The former King of Wakanda has sworn to protect the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and while battling the mob is one thing, how does he stop a killer targeting innocent people? It’s a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, as T’Challa hunts ruthless new crime lord Vlad the Impaler, while Vlad concocts a desperate and bloody scheme to entrap the mysterious new vigilante that’s ruining his plans. T’Challa learns what it really means to be a man without fear, courtesy of award-winning thriller novelist David Liss and the pulp-tastic art of Francesco Francavilla! 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

I think without argument Christopher Priest’s take on the Black Panther was the essential take, and Marvel’s use of this character since, has been in the shadow of that great run. And good writers not withstanding, Hudlin and Mayberry, I think it suffers from idiotic editorial decisions. Petty decisions intent, for whatever reason, on dismantling a great character. A female Black Panther? Really? That was someone’s stab at a good idea? Just indicative of the sabotaging type editorial decisions that have plagued this character.

The post-Priest series suffering from gimmics rather than gusto.

However with T’Challa back in the suit, if only in the DAREDEVIL title, I’m hoping this will be a good jumping on point. I’d love to see an entertaining, respectful run with this character. I’m unfamiliar with David Liss, but he has sense enough to toss Luke Cage:Power Man in here, and that means I’m willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, and willing to support, until they prove otherwise.

From Marvels ICON Line

$3.99 CASANOVA GULA #1 (OF 4)

Written by MATT FRACTION Art & Cover by FABIO MOON CASANOVA is back. Or is he? Actually Casanova is gone. Gone from space, gone from time. The burning question WHEN IS CASANOVA QUINN hangs over the entire world as E.M.P.I.R.E. and W.A.S.T.E. alike race toward the horrible, inevitable, answer…The second staggering volume of CASANOVA starts here by the Eisner-laden team of Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN) and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK) taking over art duties. Never before collected! Never before reprinted! Never before understood! In gorgeous full 4-D psychocolor! Worth a million in prizes! Change your shorts, change your life, change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy! Guaranteed!* *not actually guaranteed 40 PGS./Mature Content …$3.99


No ads breaking up the story, and loads of backmatter, and additional pages. So it’s me getting more bang for my buck, plus it’s Matt Fraction’s CASANOVA.

$14.99 CASANOVA TP LUXURIA VOL 1

Written by MATT FRACTION Penciled by FABIO MOON & GABRIEL BA Cover by GABRIEL BA Meet Casanova Quinn: prodigal son of a law-and-order family hell-bent on keeping the world safe and sound, now blackmailed into betraying his father and the international law enforcement organization he controls. LUXURIA collects the first volume of CASANOVA as its titular star transforms from devil-may-care thrill-seeker into the most dangerous man in the world. What happens when the ultimate player gets played? Find out in this genre-bending sci-spy epic. Gorgeously re-colored and re-lettered by hand, this staggering psychedelic spy-fi epic is collected for the first time as it was meant to be made. By the Eisner award-winning team of Matt Fraction (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN), Gabriel Ba (UMBRELLA ACADEMY, BPRD: 1947), and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK). With all-new, all-different, never-before-seen bonus material! Collecting CASANOVA: LUXURIA #1-4112 PGS./Mature …$24.99 152 PGS./Mature …$14.99

And speaking of CASANOVA we also have the CASANOVA trade. At $15 and being a collection of bigger ICON issues, the price point is a doable exception.

$3.50 INCOGNITO BAD INFLUENCES #4

BY ED BRUBAKER AND SEAN PHILIPS WITH COLORS BY VAL STAPLES Zack Overkill has plunged into the super-criminal underworld on a deadly mission that’s made him question everything. Now he’s come face-to-face with his target, and things just got a hell of a lot worse. And so with every issue, our Professor of Pulp Culture, Jess Nevines is back with another great essay on forgotten pulp history, available only in the single issues of INCOGNITO. INCOGNITO, BAD INFLUENCES #4 -32 PGS/Mature Content/Np Ads … $3.50

It’s always good to see the CRIMINAL team of Brubaker and Philips releasing another issue.

Uhh, yeah and that’s all for Marvel.


DC

All the negatives I said for Marvel, goes for DC as well. Which makes it easy to disregard most of the 100 or so books they put out every month. It’s stupid, confusing, greedy, and ultimately just off-putting to have 20 different Bat Titles. You should have just 2. BATMAN, and one 100page anthology called BATMAN FAMILY. Boom, job done. And until they do this it makes it very easy for me to buy none of their titles. Thanks. :).

The exceptions?

$2.99 POWER GIRL #20

Written by JUDD WINICK Art and cover by SAMI BASRI Racing headlong into the adventure and turmoil of GENERATION LOST, Power Girl is hot on the trail of Max Lord – seeking answers and looking for payback. But a trip to Project Cadmus leaves her with a bit more than she can handle, and monstrously outnumbered. On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

The one big difference between Marvel and DC is in terms of art. For the most part Marvel has frigging kick ass artists and cover design, and no doubt this is due to two of the companies driving forces, Quesada and Bendis, being great artists in their own right. DC to be kind, with a few exceptions (such as the great and innovative art of Perez or Quietly), underwhelms. DC’s covers and interiors are typically a bland, uninteresting house style; and in a medium that lives and dies on art, that’s not a good thing.

And when they do get a decent artist, like Simone Bianchi, seemingly the suits are too inane or cheap to keep them, and Marvel ends up offering the artist a better deal.

Which brings us to Sam Basri.

I touched on this in the last UNDER THE RADAR, Sam Basri is one of the few absolutely amazing artists that DC has working for them. His sense of cover design on the POWER GIRL series has been blowing me away. They really are works of art by themselves, and is one of the main reasons I’m picking up this series in individual issues rather than waiting for the trade. He really is one of DCs best artists, and the company really needs to realize this and pay him accordingly, or they’ll find him working for their competition in no time. :) .

$2.99 SPIRIT #10

Written by DAVID HINE Art by MORITAT Cover by LADRONN Roscoe Kalashnikov was sure he could get away with murder – and in a town as corrupt as Central City, maybe he could. But if that’s so, why do his victim’s words still haunt him? She said something about “the spirit of justice” and now, around every corner, Roscoe is seeing a flash of trench coat and the briefest glimpse of a masked man… On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

David Hine on a SPIRIT comic? I’m intrigued. David Hine is a really good writer.

$2.99 THUNDER AGENTS #3

Written by NICK SPENCER Art by CAFU & BIT and HOWARD CHAYKIN Cover by CHRIS SPROUSE The new hit series by Nick Spencer (ACTION COMICS, Morning Glories) and CAFU continues! Think the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are a messed-up team? Wait until you learn the secrets of the evil organization known as Spider! This issue promises twists, turns and a sequence illustrated by the legendary Howard Chaykin! On sale JANUARY 12 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US

I’m hearing good things about this Nick Spenser, so this issue may be worth a look.

$2.99 LOONEY TUNES #194

Written by BILL MATHENY Art by DAVID ALVAREZ Cover by SCOTT GROSS Beaky Buzzard is hungry. He thinks he’s found a nice meal in Daffy Duck, but the wacky bird has another suggestion: Bugs Bunny. So just who will be feeding the hungry buzzard family? A hint: It won’t be the ever-cool Bugs! Poor Beaky doesn’t stand a chance… On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

$2.99 TINY TITANS #36

Written by ART BALTAZAR & FRANCO Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR Titans to the center of the Earth! Terra uses her powers to take the “hot” Titans on the journey of a lifetime. And if Terra is involved, you know Beast Boy isn’t far behind! Don’t forget the sunscreen and the bottled water, and watch out for the Sea Trap of Doom! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I’ve started looking for books that I can give to younger readers. The above seem to fit the bill.

$2.99 ACTION COMICS #897

Written by PAUL CORNELL Art by PETE WOODS Cover by DAVID FINCH & BATT The last place Lex Luthor expected his quest for the Black Lantern energy to take him was Arkham Asylum – specifically to the cell of The Joker! What clues about Lex’s quest could The Joker have to offer, and why on Earth would Lex trust him? Get ready for a one-of-a-kind confrontation between comics’ two greatest villains, as brought to you by the twisted minds of Paul Cornell and Pete Woods! On sale JANUARY 26 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US

$2.99 STEEL #1

Written by STEVE LYONS Art by SEAN CHEN Cover by ALEX GARNER John Henry Irons is a normal human being who managed to overcome all odds and become a hero who Superman considers a peer and colleague. What kind of determination drives a man to reach such heights? Find out here as a battered and bruised Steel defiantly stands as the only thing between Metallo and the destruction of Metropolis! Doctor Who novelist Steve Lyons and artist Sean Chen (ACTION COMICS, SALVATION RUN) deliver a story that shows why Steel is a true DC Universe icon! ONE-SHOT * On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Great solicitation. Plus I really like the character of Steel.

*I’ve heard good things about Lemire’s SUPERBOY, but I’ve seen the art, and it just doesn’t work for me. May try it later in trade.

$2.99 SUPERGIRL #60

Written by NICK SPENCER Art by BERNARD CHANG Cover by AMY REEDER & RICHARD FRIEND SUPERGIRL welcomes aboard writer Nick Spencer (JIMMY OLSEN, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, Morning Glories) and artist Bernard Chang (WONDER WOMAN, SUPERMAN) for a Girl of Steel story unlike any other! Someone is trying to kill the young heroes of the DC Universe! Who is this villain, and how can Supergirl stop him? Maybe her friends can help – namely, Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, Static and…Robin?! Buckle up, folks, because this one puts the pedal to the metal on page one and doesn’t let up for a second! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Two things are getting me to give this a try, Nick Spenser and Static.

$2.99 HOUSE OF MYSTERY #33

Written by MATTHEW STURGES Art by WERTHER DELL’EDERA and DAVID LLOYD Cover by ESAO ANDREWS Since the Pair of the Conception first chased Fig Keele into the House of Mystery, Fig has never known who they were or what they wanted from her. Now, Fig solves a mystery that’s been lingering since the very beginning. Featuring a tale illustrated by David Lloyd (V FOR VENDETTA)! On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US MATURE READERS

Probably not the best place to jump in, but I’m intrigued, and have been meaning to pick this up.

Wow, I’m actually quite surprised how many DC comics I recommend this month. I guess their price drop has helped their titles to become more attractive, or at least most justifiable of the expense. Well that’s all for this installment. Catch me tomorrow for part 2 of this, and the remaining titles I recommend. Don’t miss it, as that’s where the good stuff is.