BEST PODCASTS OF 2011: Comic Geek Speak Best Episodes of 2011!

From episode 995 to episode 1169 (as of this writing), The gang of the popular comic book pod-cast Comic Geek Speak, managed to crank out a staggering 174 episodes in 2011. And they will likely sneak in a couple more before 2011 arrives.

That is just a staggering amount of work, and a staggering labor of love, particularly when you factor in they are providing all this great entertainment free to you the listener. But for them it is definitely costly in terms of time, energy, and expense.

I realize the massive expenditure of time and energy and effort, and yes expense, that a blog can take, so a multi-cast pod-cast is an even more staggering commitment of time and energy, that you have to try and juggle in between your pay the bills jobs, and responsibilities of hearth, home, and family.

So yeah, the crew at CGS deserve much appreciation, and respect for their work ethic, because it is a massive undertaking. Made all the more impressive because not only are they prolific, one of the most prolific pod-casts of any kind, but they do it while also putting out a consistently excellent and fun to listen to product. And here they are in 2011, years later, still going strong. And still gaining new listeners.

Now all that said, a 174 episodes could could make it daunting for people coming in to CGS in 2011 and trying to decide where to start. The obvious question to most newcomers trying to get a handle on a new show is… ‘What episodes are the keepers?’.

Well that’s going to change depending on everyone’s interests. Some people like to start from the first episode, some people from the latest episode.

But most everybody at some point wants a best of list.

Recently needing to free up some drive space, I had to delete some episodes, which gave me a good excuse to go through 2011 and determine, which episodes for me were keepers. Which episodes did I see myself listening to or referring to again?

So it was a good bit of house cleaning I’ve just completed (freeing up gigs of Data), and I’ve decided to share the results with you.

As far as which type of episodes factor most prominently in my too-keep list?

Well, for purchasing reasons I find the ‘Previews’ episodes good ones to revisit, as they help me when I’m looking for stuff to pick up in trade or collections, that I might have missed the first time around. So the bulk of the episodes I’ve saved from 2011 are ‘Previews’ episodes ( A preview episode is, as the name implies, an episode where they look at upcoming books to be released).

Also the ‘Drunk Cap’ and ‘Uncle Sal’ episodes figure high on my to keep list. So I’m going to give you a string of numbers, and your mission if you choose to accept it is to head over to the CGS site (link below) where they give you the description and download link to the episodes I recommend.

So without further ado my biased list of the essential Comic Geek Speak episodes of 2011:

995,996,998,999,1000-1003,1005,1011-1012,1016-1017,1019,1031-1032,1035-1036,1050,1057,1059,1065-1068, 1071-1072,1089,1095,1098-1100,1110-1111,1118,1126,1135,1143,1145,1150,1154,1155,1159,1164,1165

Go here to get details on the episodes mentioned!

DEALS OF THE DAY! From comics to DVDs to bookbags to survival gear!

So I’ve been putting off buying a lot of this stuff, but I can’t wait anymore!!

All of this stuff gets the big BUY from me today. I think when you see the list you’ll agree:

Sam Peckinpah’s Legendary Westerns Collection (The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Ride the High Country / The Ballad of Cable Hogue)

Sam Peckinpah’s Legendary Westerns Collection (The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Ride the High Country / The Ballad of Cable Hogue) – Four Peckinpah movies with special features including commentaries for less than $20!!!??? Nearly 80% off??? Duh! Talk about a no-brainer.

I’m on the whole sustainability/self-sufficiency kick, so the following wacky items were priced right for me today:

SE 6-1 Camping S. Steel Detachable Knife 4″ Body

SE 6-1 Camping S. Steel Detachable Knife 4″ Body- I’m a hobo at heart, so this well-reviewed stainless steel mobile cutlery set has my name written all over it. Just think how much plastic wouldn’t end up clogging up landfills if everyone carried around their utensils with them! :) (Yes, I do know I’m crazy. :)) And currently priced at nearly 70% off?! Comeon!! What more can you ask?

Well how about a candleless candle that burns for 100 hours.

100 Hour Plus Emergency Candles, Clear Mist – SET OF 3 Long-Burning Survival Candles

100 Hour Plus Emergency Candle Clear Mist – Emergency Essentials

Man my power goes down more than a hooker when the fleet comes in, so this candle was for me. I buy one every week or two, so now I have one in every room in my house. They don’t call me Heat Miser for nothing! (I have no idea, what that means. :) ) [One note on this, be careful of poor shipping from the seller, particularly if you're getting the 3 pack. Stress that they securely pack and ship it.]

Brown Vintage Wayfarer Tear Drop Backpack with Leather Accents

Brown Vintage Wayfarer Tear Drop Backpack with Leather Accents

It takes me a lot of research before I decide on something worth buying. I mean minimum of a couple hours per item, just comparing styles, prices, reviews, construction. This book-bag is a case in point. Up all damn night, deciding on the right bag. Both stylish, and yet functional for carrying books, laptops, etc. My time… your gain.

And let’s round all this functional stuff off with some pure enjoyment:

THE SHADOW: The History and Mystery of the Radio Program, 1930 – 1954

THE SHADOW: The History and Mystery of the Radio Program, 1930 – 1954
Huge Old Time Radio and Shadow fan, so this exhaustive 800 page book is a must own.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great (1956) and Anthony & Cleopatra DVDs for less than the cost of rental??? Say it with me… No Brainer.

Targus CityGear 320 Capacity CD/DVD Album Case TDP019US (Black with Grey Contrasting)

Targus CityGear 320 Capacity CD/DVD Album Case TDP019US (Black with Grey Contrasting)- Holds over 300 DVDs/CDs for only $30 shipping included. SOLD!

Farscape: The Complete Series

Farscape: The Complete Series- The Bluray is coming out so you would think the DVD would go down in price. But Noooooo! The stupid thing has gone up over $20 from the cheap prince of $49 that it was at. But even at its new price… it’s a great deal.

The Well

The Well (1951)- Is a nice little 50s Drama/thriller that plays as a nice counterpoint to THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL.

Captain America by Jack Kirby Omnibus (Marvel Omnibus)

Captain America by Jack Kirby Omnibus (Marvel Omnibus- I own the comics and am still buying the Omnibus. Great stuff!

X-Men – Volume 2 Omnibus (Marvel Omnibus)

X-Men – Volume 2 Omnibus (Marvel Omnibus)- Neal Adams great run collected in over-sized format. Nuff said.

Okay, I’m broke now.

CD of the Day Review! Alan Moore’s MOON AND SERPENT!

Review Alan Moore’s MOON AND SERPENT: It starts off with roller-coasters and rain, and there’s something fitting about that. That Moore’s finest, most all-encompassing work should start off with roller coasters and rain. Highlighted tracks are highly recommended listening.

Track 1 roller-coaster/carnival barker-“tell all your friends, tell all your enemies, tell all the people you do not know.” Goes to about the 5:30 mark. From the start, his most sonically, and stereoscopically mesmerizing CD.

Track 2 rain, a tour of London- Moore’s voice at once longing and hungry and haunted and stark. A dreamer two days dead, speaking of dreams. Speaking of London, all Londons. “hallucinated rain in a mirage of gutter… a phantom, speculated city, somewhere else… where do the Yarmouth breakers detonate, a distant semtex when we are away from yarmouth… these are the towns of light, built from remembered brick… where thought is form…locations we shall never visit that yet have their hearsay substance in our lives, and so are never far from us… metropolis erected out of nothing, only metaphor, and ringed with slums of dreams… a shadow London, our idea of London” Goes to about the 8:44 mark. 9/10.

Track3 a tour of London- “Move on to the city hypothetical… his Tesla grid of terror and magnificence…streets filthy with mythology… “ till about 13:20 mark

Track 4 Cray Twins/Double trouble – Brilliant use of stereo! Love listening to this. “two sides to every story, two doors to every cell” till 15:31 10/10

Track 5 St.Pauls/Diana -The heart of the City – Let us pay attention to St. Paul himself, a Proto-Mason , there in 1st Corinthians 3:10 he states “As a Master-builder I have laid foundations and another builds there on.” , “here is Diana chained, the soul of woman-kind bound in a web of ancient signs that women might abandon useless dreams of liberty” “be careful here” till 19:45

Track 6 Fleet and Bride Street –“they are the engineers of our exhaustion” “If this room is mirrored in idea space, what of we?” “…monologues we have mistaken for the world” “stay close together, these are stairways beyond substance, things get slippery here.” Till 24:50

Track 7 Into the Abyss – “Theory and belief are all we have to walk upon” A walk through idea spaces, through landscapes/mythologies… eclectic. Till 32:15.

Track 8 Spectre Garden- Angel Baeletic- “I am the daughter of fortitude, and ravished every hour of my youth” Haunting and beautiful. Till 35:24

Track 9 Demon Asmodeus- Sumptuous, disturbing use of sound. Till 40:02

Track 10 Deity/Glycon last created of the roman gods- “Proceed with caution, this is old power. And the idea of a god, a real idea” Till 44:10

Track 11 Tundra Absolute/The Final wasteland- “if we observe it, we affect it” He is dropping knowledge, no, not knowledge… wisdom… wisdom beyond the paltry dreams of science. Brilliance! Brilliance! Reaches a stunning conclusion, with a truly compelling performance by Alan Moore. A+. till 59:35

Track 12 End Music/Denouement- Don’t care for this folksy/wood nymph song, or the delivery. But not enough to mar this excellent CD. Till 63.07.

Overall grade: A+. Best of breed. Essential CD.

Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels

Favorite Gene Colan Covers

“To the living we owe respect, to the dead we owe only the truth”
—Voltaire

******

Gene Colan.

Artist, Husband, Father.

Coined ‘The Dean’ by Stan the Man Lee, was one of comics’ most beloved elder statesmen, and days ago as of this writing… he passed away.

I had the pleasure of hearing the soft spoken Gene Colan speak on a panel with the aforementioned Stan Lee, as well as via various podcasts, and he was always a gentleman in the truest definition of that word.

Growing up in the age of Neal Adams and Don Newton and John Byrne and George Perez, Colan was, like Kirby, not an artist I gravitated to.

With Colan, particularly, this is because his moody belabored pencils never came through in the garishly colored comics he was oft relegated to doing. His fine detailed pencils were lost beneath ‘get to the point’ inks, and gaudy colors. And his superhero work for me, just didn’t appeal.

It was only much later when I got the chance to see Colan’s work sans skintight costumed heroes, an unhelpful colors, that I saw an undeniable craft and consummate work ethic.

It is when working with real people, in real clothes, with creases, and expressions, and faces uncovered by masks… that Colan’s work for me came alive. Some of his best work is on books like TOMB OF DRACULA, and SON OF SATAN, where Colan’s penchant for camera angles, and atmospherics, and beautiful women could shine.

A few years back I bought the simply stellar SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS: THE ART & LIFE OF GENE COLAN. It’s a simply indispensable overview of a great artist, and an inspiring man.

Secrets in the Shadows: The Art & Life of Gene Colan

I point you to that book for an indepth look at Colan’s work and Colan’s grace (spring for the HC, it’s worth the money), but I’ll end this post with a few of my favorite Colan covers.

For reasons previously stated much of Colan’s Superhero work, including covers, didn’t grab me, but there were some where I thought everything worked, the pencils, the inks, the coloring…and here are those chosen few:

DCs RELAUNCH! 52 Books coming in September! Tips on ones to get & ones to avoid!

DC has announced its lineup of 52 new titles starting September. As stated in my previous post DC is doing a lot of things right, with this publishing revamp of their comic-book line; namely pushing digital distribution, and creating new jumping on points to coincide with that distribution.

But the major thing I see DC Publishing (owned by Time Warner)is doing wrong is ignoring the root reason they were not selling books in the first place, which is that there books were not that good.

Their esteemed major competitor, MARVEL COMICS GROUP, has the better writers, and without question the superior artists. And I see very little in this revamp that addresses that quality problem.

You can see the full list of the 52 titles to be released in September here, and for the most part they look uninteresting at best, and 90s retread crap fodder at worst.

Uninteresting writers with very dated looking artists. And often artists, untried as writers, writing major characters?!! WTF?? Nice way DC to sabotage your own facelift/revamp.

You want to do a revamp and make it count then pay the money, and get the name writers, and the hot artists. Get the best. Liefield? Really??? God bless him, but really? That’s who you choose to launch a new book geared to galvanize and attract new readers? This is not the 90s.

SAVAGE HAWKMAN, good artist, but needs a name writer to get my money. Tony Daniels? Sorry, just don’t care. STATIC SHOCK, great character, no interest in that creative team… at all. NIGHTWING, TEEN TITANS, LEGIONS LOST, JUSTICE LEAGUE, FLASH, GREEN LANTERN books, most of the BATMAN books, most of the SUPERMAN books (Grant Morrison is too hit and miss for me to trust him monthly, I wait till his stories are collected and listen to the general feedback to see if he’s the good Morrison, or the hodgepodge one), all look like the poorly written, poorly drawn tripe no one was buying before.

Now the ones I think are (or could be)exceptions to DC’s general trend of mediocrity and lack of quality are as follows:

SUPERGIRL #1
Written by MICHAEL GREEN and MIKE JOHNSON
Art and cover by MAHMUD ASRAR
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Meet Supergirl. She’s got the unpredictable behavior of a teenager, the same powers as Superman – and none of his affection for the people of Earth. So don’t piss her off!

The writers did good work on Batman/Superman, and I like the art.

VOODOO #1
Written by RON MARZ
Art and cover by SAMI BASRI
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Who is Voodoo? Is she hero, villain – or both? Learn the truth about Priscilla Kitaen as she leaves a trail of violence across America. Discover the new DCU through her eyes, because the things she sees are not always what they seem

Ron Marz doesn’t do anything for me, but Sam Basri I consider one of the few great artists DC has (that Marvel hasn’t stolen away from them yet) and this book is worth getting for his art alone.

BATMAN #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION
Cover by GREG CAPULLO
Variant cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Be here for the start of a new era for The Dark Knight from writer Scott Snyder (AMERICAN VAMPIRE, BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM) and artist Greg Capullo (Spawn)! A series of brutal killings hints at an ancient conspiracy, and Batman learns that Gotham City is deadlier than he knew.

Only Batman book that has me really interested, and it is because of the writer, Scott Snyder.

BATWOMAN #1
Written by J.H. WILLIAMS III and W. HADEN BLACKMAN
Art and cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
At last! Batwoman’s new series begins, from the multiple award-winning creative team of J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman!
In “Hydrology,” part 1 of 5, Batwoman faces deadly new challenges in her war against Gotham City’s underworld – and new trials in her life as Kate Kane.
Who or what is stealing children from the barrio, and for what vile purpose? Will Kate train her cousin, Bette Kane (a.k.a. Flamebird), as her new sidekick? How will she handle unsettling revelations about her father, Colonel Jacob Kane? And why is a certain government

I had mentioned Sam Basri being one of DC’s great artist, here’s the other, the brilliant JH Williams III. Now whether he can write is another story, but I’ll definitely check this one out to see.

MISTER TERRIFIC #1
Written by ERIC WALLACE
Art by ROGER ROBINSON
Cover by J.G. JONES
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The world’s third-smartest man – and one of its most eligible bachelors – uses his brains and fists against science gone mad in this new series from Eric Wallace (TITANS) and Roger Robinson!
Michael Holt is the head of a successful high-tech corporation and an institute that recruits and encourages the finest minds of the next generation to excel. As Mister Terrific he inhabits a world of amazement few others know exists, let alone can comprehend.

Premise sounds interesting, and I really like the character, but once again we have an unknown writer, and generally unknown, serviceable (but not awesome) interior artist. I’ll give it a try but have serious doubts.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by MIKEL JANIN
Cover by RYAN SOOK
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The witch known as The Enchantress has gone mad, unleashing forces that not even the combined powers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg can stop. And if those heroes can’t handle the job, who will stand against this mystical madness?
Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna and John Constantine may be our only hope – but how can we put our trust in beings whose very presence makes ordinary people break out in a cold sweat?

- I was going to pass on this book, but the artwork by Mikel Janin looks great, my only concern is a gaudy colorist could ruin his beautiful gray-scale washes/artwork. If they were smart they would use spot coloring and leave it mostly gray-scale.

SWAMP THING #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
One of the world’s most iconic characters has returned to the heart of the DC Universe, and every step he takes will shake the foundations of the Earth!
Alec Holland has his life back…but the Green has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it’ll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it!

ANIMAL MAN #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by TRAVEL FOREMAN and DAN GREEN
Cover by TRAVEL FOREMAN
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Buddy Baker has gone from “super” man to family man – but is he strong enough to hold his family together when Maxine, his young daughter, starts to manifest her own dangerous powers? Find out in this dramatic new series from writer Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and artist Travel Foreman (The Immortal Iron Fist).

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by ALBERTO PONTICELLI
Cover by J.G. JONES
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It’s Frankenstein as you’ve never seen him before, in a dark new series from acclaimed writer Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and artist Alberto Ponticelli (UNKNOWN SOLDIER)!
Frankenstein is part of a network of strange beings who work for an even stranger government organization: The Super Human Advanced Defense Executive! But can he protect the world from threats even more horrifying than himself? And since he’s vilified for who and what he is, will he even want to take on this mission?

—Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, interesting premises, and decent artists, what is not to like.

DEMON KNIGHTS #1
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art by DIOGENES NEVES and OCLAIR ALBERT
Cover by TONY S. DANIEL
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Set in the Dark Ages of the DC Universe, a barbarian horde is massing to crush civilization. It’s fallen to Madame Xanadu and Jason Blood, the man with a monster inside him, to stand in their way – though the demon Etrigan has no interest in protecting anyone or anything other than himself! It’ll take more than their own power to stop an army fueled by bloodlust and dark sorcery, and some very surprising heroes – and villains – will have no choice but to join the fray!

STORMWATCH #1
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art and cover by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
They are Stormwatch, a dangerous super human police force whose existence is kept secret from the world Directly following the ominous events of SUPERMAN #1, Adam One leads half the Stormwatch team to recover the [INFORMATION REDACTED] from deep in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the Stormwatch crew look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet: Midnighter and Apollo! And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian Manhunter can change their minds…

— Both of these by Paul Cornell sound interesting

ALL-STAR WESTERN #1
Written by JUSTIN GRAY and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art and cover by MORITAT
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+
Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer? Find out in this new series from HEX writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with lush artwork by Moritat (THE SPIRIT)!

-This is a great and proven creative team.

MEN OF WAR #1
Written by IVAN BRANDON
Art by TOM DERENICK
Cover by VIKTOR KALVACHEV
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+
On the ground and on the front lines, a young, headstrong soldier known as Joe Rock assumes command of Easy Company – a team of ex-military men turned contractors. Will they survive the battle-scarred landscape carved by the DCU’s Super-Villains? Find out in this explosive new series from Ivan Brandon (Viking, DOC SAVAGE) and Tom Derenick (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!

-Premise has me interested, and Derenick is a good artist.

SUICIDE SQUAD #1
Written by ADAM GLASS
Art by MARCO RUDY
Cover by RYAN BENJAMIN
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
They’re a team of death-row super villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous – they’re sheer suicide!
Harley Quinn! Deadshot! King Shark! Defeated and imprisoned, they’re being interrogated about their mission – and about who’s pulling the strings behind this illegal operation. Who will be the first to crack under the pressure?

-Not familiar with the writer but Marco Rudy’s work an ACTION COMICS was stellar

DEATHSTROKE #1
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art by JOE BENNETT and ART THIBERT
Cover by SIMON BISLEY
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
“Friends die, family disappoints, but a legacy… That lives forever.”
Slade Wilson is the best mercenary in the DCU, and he’s been doing this a long time. Some might say too long. But they’ll learn: Never turn your back on Deathstroke the Terminator. He won’t quit, no matter how high the stakes. Kyle Higgins (BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM) and Joe Bennett (TEEN TITANS) team up to bring you the finest in mayhem and gore.


-An unknown writer, and the premise doesn’t fill me with confidence, anything that uses gore as a selling point is usually braindead, lowest common denominator tripe, but Joe Bennett (THE CREW) is a great artist, and I would like to be proven wrong on this one

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA
Cover by KARL KERSCHL
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The Legion of Super-Heroes has been decimated by the worst disaster in its history. Now, the students of the Legion Academy must rise to the challenge of helping the team rebuild – but a threat of almost unstoppable power is rising at the edge of Dominator space, and if the new recruits fail, the Legion Espionage Squad may be the first casualties in a war that could split worlds in half!

-solid creative team, so worth a look.

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #1
Written by ETHAN VAN SCIVER and GAIL SIMONE
Art by YILDIRAY CINAR
Cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond. These two high school students are worlds apart – and now they’re drawn into a conspiracy of super-science that bonds them forever in a way they can’t explain or control. The dark secrets of the murderous Dog Team and its Firestorm Protocol force them to put aside their differences to confront a threat so terrifying that it may lead to a new Cold War! Welcome to a major new vision of nuclear terror from writers Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone with astonishing art by Yildiray Cinar!

- I’ve seen some sample art by Cinar, and Gail Simone is a good writer and should keep Ethan’s ideas from imploding. Though from this premise sounds like this is a miniseries rather than an ongoing. Worth a look.

The Following are MAYBEs:

BATWING #1
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art and cover by BEN OLIVER
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Africa, a land of beauty – and of great horror. A land of creation and conflict. It is in desperate need of a defender, and from the ranks of Batman Incorporated comes a soldier to carry on the legacy of The Dark Knight in the most tumultuous region on Earth. Meet Batwing, the Batman of Africa!

I’m intrigued by this one, the premise sounds like a Bat take on Unknown Soldier, but I’m not sold on the art, and that costume is horrible. This one is a wait for the trade.

BATGIRL #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by ARDIAN SYAF and VICENTE CIFUENTES
Cover by ADAM HUGHES
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Yes, it’s really happening!
Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl – and she’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as the dark secrets from her past. You won’t want to miss this stunning debut issue from fan-favorite BIRDS OF PREY writer Gail Simone!

Gail Simone has me interested, but not interested in the artists. I’ll wait for the trade.

CATWOMAN #1
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art and cover by GUILLEM MARCH
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in this new series from writer Judd Winick (BATMAN: UNDER THE HOOD) and artist Guillem March (GOTHAM CITY SIRENS)!

I do like the art on this one but not interested in the character. It’s a weak maybe.

Well those are the titles I think are worth a try, and you may agree. Try them and let me know.

MOVIE REVIEW! THOR IMAX 3D… The Verdict is…..????

Well the long awaited THOR movie is finally exploding across screens everywhere, and as I mentioned in my previous posts a lot hinged on this film, not least of which is a turnaround in a string of commercial disappointments for director Kenneth Branagh.

Well having just come back from seeing THOR in IMAX 3D… my verdict….??

It’s good, I enjoyed myself. It’s nicely paced, surprisingly smart film that also hit all the notes and plot points to shut-up people who were complaining about a multi-cultural cast, particularly Idris Elba (who always brings it), for pretty much all the story reasons I surmised.

So I was expecting it be action packed, but not necessarily as inventive, and even touching as it was.

Now that said, it does perhaps not quite meet the Juggernaut action expectations built up, but a solid story and performances, make up for that.

Kenneth Branagh handling perhaps the most difficult of all comic adaptations, exceptionally well, finding that difficult balance between regal and relate-able.

THOR even in the comic books, is extremely hard to a/get right and b/command a storyline. Instead working best as the heavy gun of the Avengers, then as a solo character. So for Branagh to steer this ship safely into movie theater shores, is no small accomplishment.

That said the ending felt a bit anti-climatic, the most effective action is clearly in the early portions of the movie. But that aside, the story beats, the emotional intensity, the Shakespearean like levels of tragedy and sacrifice, Branagh hits well. Hits hard enough… to satisfy.

Now leaving the movie proper to discuss the projection of the movie. I saw this in IMAX 3D, paying rather than the normal $8 matinée price, an exorbitant $14.50 for ‘IMAX 3D’. A $6.50 surcharge.

Before seeing this movie I couldn’t get any reviews to really discuss the 3D and if it was worth it. I’ve seen my share of IMAX 3D movies, real ones and the retrofitted AMC ones, and the ones not shot in 3D but simply post-processed, ie THOR.

Outside of a real IMAX THEATER (5 to 8 stories high, viewable at better science centers throughout the world), the best I’ve seen at an AMC IMAX theater (a midget IMAX) is of course AVATAR. Cameron pushing the technology to create 3D that actually works in a cine-plex.

But beyond AVATAR on IMAX 3D, most other 3D films suffer in comparison. THOR is no exception, it looks okay in 3D, but closer to the inferior Sony backed REALD 3D process, then real IMAX 3D. Sony’s inferior REALD 3D, gives a sense of looking into the screen, but it’s unable to give a real sense of the screen coming forward into real space, your space. This is what true IMAX 3D does so well. Not only offering depth, looking into something, but immersion, the film intruding and surrounding your real space.

So THOR IN IMAX 3D, looks okay, it just isn’t great. It isn’t IMAX 3D, and therefore is not worth the $6.50 surcharge. I personally think 3D movies should be the same price as 2D movies, but particularly if you’re going to charge that premium, the 3D experience should be breathtaking, and THOR IN IMAX 3D is just okay. The 3D almost transparent, and therefore, what’s the point.

So all in all if you can see this in 3D for no price increase, go for it. Otherwise avoid and stick to 2D on a big screen, you won’t be missing anything. And may actually gain something in brightness of picture.

3D is a nice thing for the occasional viewing, for the gee whiz factor, but it is no replacement for a really beautiful rendered and composed 2D film.

Just as HDTV for all its praise is not, nor never will be the equal of 35mm film, much less 70mm film.

HDTV is like DVD, a bastard compression medium, used to compress film into something viewable into the consumer confines of a tv and a living room, rather than the commercial standard of a movie screen and theater. Similar, but make no mistake, inferior, to true film.

And whereas a 70mm true IMAX 3D movie is in no way inferior to standard 70mm film, it is not appropriate for everything.

Cinema is a language.

And just as Black and White film can speak in a way color film can’t, and why I’m a huge Film Noir fan, 2D is also a distinct cinematic language, and sometimes that flat plane is the thing.

Not being in the shot, but observing the shot, is the thing.

Just as you can do THE THIRD MAN in color, but you would lose an ineffable part of the tone by so doing, that’s the same way that David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 70mm, saying things about distance and alienation, would be lost translated into the “in-your-face” histrionics of IMAX 3D.

I like 3D in all its forms, to differing degrees, but even in its best forms I understand it’s a gimmick, that should not be overused.

3D ultimately is about lying to your brain, it’s about forcing a lie onto your brain, that this thing in front of you on the screen has as much depth and reality as the person sitting beside you or the world outside the theater.

In moderation it’s a fun gimmick.

But with this recent push to 3D TVs, you risk making it something else. You risk making the exception of lying to your brain, the rule, and what long term effects this can have, particularly on children’s development, growing up exposed constantly to this new medium, what challenge or aberration to their motor skills, and coordination, and socialization?, are questions that in the rush toward a new revenue stream… too many are ignoring.

Some of these 3D TVs are coming with warnings. You should heed them, and leave the 3D in the theater. My gut reaction? Stick to 2D for the home. At least till all the bugs are shaken out.

Likewise troubling, is the Sony push to digitize cinemas, as it has nothing to do with the best picture quality and everything to do with control and maximizing profit streams. The theaters forced to go this route will see their profit margins dwindle, and find themselves ever more at the mercy of the studios. And true 70mm and 35 mm theaters will go the way of the dodo, becoming a high priced specialty item for the few to seek out.

Here ends the public service announcement. :). Back to our THOR review.

Here on out I’ll be avoiding all 3D movies, unless a/specifically shot in IMAX 3D, with the Cameron cameras, or b/if it’s something especially gimmicky and is the same price as a regular film.

So given this criteria Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS III, which meets criteria # 1, will be the next 3D flick I check out. Unlike some people, I’m still quite enamored of Michael Bay’s visuals and always have fun at his movies. So if any movie can visually give Cameron’s AVATAR a battle, it may be Bay’s TRANSFORMERS.

So getting back to THOR, a very good if not great movie, that is poised to be the critical and commercial hit that Kenneth Branagh was definitely needing. And stay past the credits for the easter egg, if so inclined. Nothing earth shattering, but it’s fun that Marvel continues to do this universe building. Giving people a reason to sit through the credits.

Grade is a strong B/B+.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Review : SIGHT UNSEEN Horror by Tinnell and Hampton!

Reviewing SIGHT UNSEEN Graphic Novel
Written by Robert Tinnell
Art by Bo Hampton
Published by Image Comics

Purchase your copy of SIGHT UNSEEN here!

Review Copyright 2011 Heroic Times
All rights reserved

When was the last time a book with pictures… scared you?

Gross you out? Yes. Surprise you or excite you? Certainly. With a clever page reveal, WALKING DEAD surprises all the time.

But scare you?

Sequential art (I don’t use the term comic-book, it’s not about elitism, it’s just I don’t like misnomers. The term comic-book may have been accurate 80 years ago, it just isn’t today. So you’ll catch me using a bunch of terms, GN. Trade, Collected Edition, Monthly, Slim [you read it here first:) ], but very rarely comic) being too far out of your head, lacks the ability a novel offers to surrender yourself to your internal dialog, and Sequential art being too much in your head, doesn’t allow you to surrender yourself to someone else’s external dialog.

So that should spell no to the idea of getting scared by the marriage of words and art, because fear requires loss of control, the surrender of your senses to the violation of the other (in terms of media film/tv/radio drama) or the hypnotism/violation of the self (novel).

Graphic Literature, slims, manga (insert your favorite nomenclature here) :) is a bastard medium that is somewhere removed from those two extremes of submission, and as such is a medium that is in large part about viewing specific moments at your leisure. The ability to linger on a particularly affecting panel, or race through multiple panels, or rereading a word balloon, all define graphic sequential viewing as a medium for lovers of the moment, and as such you tend to be an aloof master of time in sequential stories, and fear requires you to be time’s slave.

I’ve read all kinds of slims. All kinds of horror GNs. I’ve read slims that have sickened me, disgusted me, surprised me.

But I have never read a slim that has scared me.

Based on all the reasons given, there is no such thing. At least that’s what I thought till I read Robert Tinnell’s and Bo Hampton’s SIGHT UNSEEN.

Published by Image Comics back in 2006, 5 years ago at this writing, it is a relatively unknown book and somehow that almost seems fitting; as if it is one of those whispered of tomes, more myth than matter.

SIGHT UNSEEN is a ghost story and like all ghost stories it requires, not that you believe, but that you want to believe. It requires that ineffable quality that all ghost stories require, your willingness to be— seduced. If for you horror is less splatter and gore and slasher or zombie, and instead is crystallized by titles like The Legend of Hell House (1973) and The Haunting (1963) than SIGHT UNSEEN is a book that waits… for you.

Specifics I always find idiotic things. I don’t read spoilers, I don’t read the back of paperbacks, that tend to give away lots of great things you should experience, rather than have told to you.

I come to reviews not looking to be told, beyond the most generic themes, what I’ll find, rather I ask only that you enlighten me to what I may feel.

And with that consideration, is how I review.

The most generic description of SIGHT UNSEEN is it is a book about a man who seeks to see the dead, foolishly perhaps not preparing… for the dead to see him. There’s a nice technological hook to the story that elevates it out of the ‘routine’ ghost story, and into the unusual and innovative.

Yeah, I hear you saying, but where does the scare come in?

Robert Tinnell creates an immersive engaging story, but with any other artist it would suffer from that normal distancing effect, that makes for a great graphic novel, or a nice static story, but not anything more than that.

No, the true alchemy here is with artist Bo Hampton.

Bo Hampton, does something in this GN that I have never seen in three decades of reading comics, he makes the characters move.

These static images, he arranges, he places, he cuts, he juxtaposes in such a way, that in moments he breaks that anchor of control, of distance, that is always there between word and picture, and should be there.

It is the charm of the medium that it is there, our control, and Bo Hampton with foreshortening, and blurring, and angles, and an inexplicable understanding of how to get behind our eyes, in brief moments sets us adrift from our control, and we find ourselves, not watching bad places, but in bad places and among bad things.

And that bit of immersion that the story of Robert Tinnell married to the art of Bo Hampton pulls off, is as close to alchemy as anything you’ll read in the story.

He creates sequential art that does two things that sequential art seldom or never does, match perfectly the tone of the story the writer tells AND match perfectly the angles and perspectives and images those words would invoke in your own head.

Hampton shatters that normal, fun difference and dissonance between writers perspective, artist perspective, and readers perspective that makes comics so expansive a medium, and by collapsing these three perspectives he creates a fetid, claustrophobic, dank, limiting idea space, that pulls you in.

And watches you.

In the years since first reading this… accident on paper, this odd confluence of genius or mania, I have never come across another sequential art book, by the creators or anyone else, that does what this book does. That makes a thing of words and pictures… writhe.

The book is called SIGHT UNSEEN and if your brain is wired anything like mine, the book will make you do something a ‘comic-book’ wasn’t designed to make you do.

It will make you look over your shoulder.

Your mileage may vary, but if it doesn’t… you are in for a treat.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Art from the Edge of the Sea: Images of you and Images of Me #1

I’ve been meaning to get back into the habit of drawing regularly. While I’m obviously no Kyle Baker or Kevin Nowlan, and not going to make a living at this, the goal isn’t that.

The purpose of this new segment ART FROM THE EDGE OF THE SEA is just to get back into putting down lines that hopefully day by day get better. The goal to see if a bad or rudimentary artist can progress… noticeably.

The hardest thing about doing this on the computer is controlling the line, it’s a bit harder than controlling a pencil. And I’m just using a crude basic illustration program and my touch pad (no tablet, no pen), so you can imagine it’s a bit like trying to draw with a brick.

But what the hey.

I’ll take it slowly, like this is the first day of my life. And this my first drawing. I’ll try and do one at least every other day, we’ll see how that works out.

Hope you guys will keep checking in to see if I evolve out of awful. :)

Here is the first drawing. Try not to scream :) :

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.

Current Comic Book Reads Fall 2010: Jonathan Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D 1-3

SHIELD 1-3 by Jonathan Hickman published by Marvel Comics. Jonathan Hickman, of NIGHTLY NEWS fame, has an interesting premise in this book about the secret history of SHIELD. Unfortunately the book’s promise, three issues in, is hampered by art that is a bit too reminiscient of 90s image art (if the cover art was indicative of the interior art, that would help a lot), and also by a central character who has yet to emotionally connect with the reader in any way. The praise for this book was heavy, but it hasn’t quite earned it yet. Plus the white ancient Egyptians/Nubians… uh yeah… that never works for me.

In many ways it seems a weak precursor to the far better illustrated and, to this point, more engaging EARTH X in terms of seeking to create a conspiratorial, larger historical tapestry for the Marvel Universe.

But it is only 3 issues in. And Hickman is an interesting and innovative writer, so I’m willing to give this a couple more issues, before jumping ship. One of the reasons I picked this up in issues rather than waiting for the trade, was that I thought the issues would have detailed backmatter/letters pages, and unfortunately that, so far, is not the case.

So if that trend continues there is no incentive for me to pick up the individual issues. And if Hickman doesn’t begin to invest his story with some type of emotional resonance, ie characters we care about (the one failing I do notice about Hickman’s work… it’s cold), there won’t be any incentive to pick up the trades either.

Grade:C.