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

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.

Graphic Novel Reviews: Grant Morrison’s BATMAN RIP vs Morrison’s BATMAN AND ROBIN I

On the graphic novel front, Grant Morrison continues to be hit and miss. His BATMAN:RIP being a definite miss. It’s unreadable, part of this is largely the art by Tony Daniels that seems to have very little to do with the words actually on the page. I found it not interesting enough to finish.


Now that said, Morrison’s BATMAN AND ROBIN, the graphic novel covering the first half dozen issues, brought to life by the fantastic, stylish, and more than a bit disturbing art of Frank Quietly is amazing.




“Well to begin with, it’s Frank Quitely. This is certainly looser than what he was doing on “All Star Superman.” There was more control on that book, because we wanted it to be more like Superman. So it was all very controlled, very measured. The “Batman & Robin” stuff is more brazen. And he’s producing things like sound effects, because nobody does sound effects anymore. Everybody has given up on them, so what we’ve done is incorporate them into the artwork. When someone hits water, the water rises up and makes the “splash” effect. It just looks fantastic.


Again, it’s much more playful than “All Star Superman,” which was more classical and maybe more restrained. This is more wired.”– Morrison discussing Quietly’s art on BATMAN AND ROBIN





Morrison bringing his A game, creates an unsettling tale of this new Dark Knight’s baptism, and a new breed of monsters that he, and the new Robin… must face. A great, great book. Looking forward to future volumes. A-.

Check status or purchase BATMAN AND ROBIN DELUXE HARDCOVERS here

Check status or purchase BATMAN AND ROBIN latest issues here

The return of UNDER THE RADAR Vol2 Iss 1! Pt 1 of 2! Previews Preorders for Comic Books Shipping in December!

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, those can be quite time consuming, when what most people are looking for are 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 a/titles you can purchase now, at the time of this writing Oct 2010, and b/titles you can preorder this month through your local retailer for December 2010 arrival.

Okay Section 1. Comics I recommend purchasing for Oct 2010:[See tomorrow's post for this info]
(The links will take you to My comic Shop.com where you can view and if you choose, purchase the titles in question. All purchases done through the links help this blog with a few pennies to continue. So get great books, and support this blog in one fell swoop.)


    Section 2: Comics to pre-order (by November 1st) for December 2010 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.

There are two types of companies these days, in my opinion. Companies that value you as a monthly reader (and provide the extras and the pricing to show that support) and that type of company you should support the individual issues with your dollars, and on the other side of the coin there are those companies that pretty much insult their monthly reader-base, and that’s a company you should really relegate to picking up at the library, or borrowing from a friend, or browsing the trade at a bookstore.

Marvel is the latter type of company.

So generally if there is a storyline you’re hearing decent things about, avoid the overpriced, and featureless single issues and wait for the trade, or pick up the books in the quarter bin, but don’t pay $4 for what I see as Marvel’s pretty evident air of disrespect to their potential readership. So all that said are of the 100s of products Marvel is releasing for December arrival, what are the ones that meet my criteria of giving you back-matter (letters pages, columns, articles, etc) and sufficient bang for your buck? Well I’m glad you asked :) They are:

$2.99 SHIELD #5

Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN Penciled by DUSTIN WEAVER Cover by GERALD PAREL Historical Variant by DUSTIN WEAVER “The Forgotten Machines of XXXXXX XXXXX” The story that has taken the comic book world by storm marches on with an issue so secretive that we can’t even reveal the full title! WHO IS THE NIGHT MACHINE?! Find your answer here from Jonathan Hickman (FANTASTIC FOUR) and Dustin Weaver (X-MEN). Every issue has sold out and gone into multiple printings. IT’S GOOD! WE PROMISE! Don’t miss the sleeper hit of 2010! 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this so far self-contained series by Jonathan Hickman of NIGHTLY NEWS fame. It also offers that backmatter I was alluding to, and the price point as $2.99 is right.

You can find issues 1-4 of SHIELD here:

$81.25 (save $43.75) THOR BY WALTER SIMONSON OMNIBUS HC
Written by WALTER SIMONSON Penciled by WALTER SIMONSON with SAL BUSCEMA Covers by WALTER SIMONSON Considered by many to be the greatest run on Thor ever, Walt Simonson’s classic tales of the God of Thunder are collected here–completely remastered from the original artwork and newly colored by Steve Oliff! And there are too many timeless tales to count: The Casket of Ancient Winters! The death of Odin! The origins of Asgard! The sacrifice of the Executioner! Thor as a frog! The Mutant Massacre! The curse of Hela! The debut of Thor’s body armor! Guest-starring Beta Ray Bill, Nick Fury and the Avengers! Featuring the threats of Fafnir the dragon, Loki, Lorelei, Malekith the Dark Elf, Surtur, Hela, the Titanium Man, Kurse, Zaniac, the Marauders, the Absorbing Man, Fin Fang Foom, the Destroyer and the Midgard Serpent! Collecting THOR #337-355, #357-369 & #371-382 and BALDER THE BRAVE #1-4. 1192 PGS./Rated A …$125.00

This is really, really expensive. But you are getting around 50 issues worth of comics, and Simonson’s run, unlike many of the omnibuses, is really deserving of such a format. And were you to buy the original issues, you might be able to come in a little cheaper (plus you would get the letters-pages, which I don’t think the omnibus will include, if you can’t tell I’m a huge fan of conversational type extras), but the hassle of doing that compared to just having one large book with everything in it to put on your shelf… it’s an individual call. For me, I know these issues, and with the pre-order discount, I’m in.

$2.99 THUNDERBOLTS #151

Written by JEFF PARKER Penciled by KEV WALKER Cover by GREG LAND Come sit by the fire and prepare to be frightened…we’re going to tell you a “Ghost Story! The Thunderbolts own psychologist, Moonstone, peels back the layers and delves into the mind and past of the brilliant and mysterious paranoid known only to the world as Ghost! How did his war on the corporate system begin and what made him leave his humanity behind? Even his hardened criminal teammates will be forced to admit that some things are better left unknown. Learn more than you ever wanted to about Iron Man’s fearsome foe in the latest issue of the series that has IGN.com raving: “I can’t recommend this book enough–you need to be reading THUNDERBOLTS.” 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99 (changed from $3.99)

I’ve never bought an issue of THUNDERBOLTS. But I’m aware of them. The fact that they dropped the price on this series, and it sounds like a done in one story, and Jeff Parker is writing, has me intrigued enough to plunk down my money. But it better have some extras/letterspage if they want to keep my money coming.

uhh– yeah that’s all for Marvel. There glut of product actually works against them. If there was one X-men book, or one spiderman book, or even one Thor book, I would be interested in reading it, but I’m not going to try and sort through 20 different takes on one character to find the ‘great’ one, the pure singular vision. So because of Editorial’s diarrea of production :) I buy none of those books.

Well to end on a positive, come back tomorrow as I get into the really good stuff with Image, Boom, Dark Horse, Radical, DC and other great companies.

Zack Snyder and the WATCHMEN, and who wasn’t watching! A HT movie review!

watchmen350

I just came from seeing the WATCHMEN, a much anticipated movie. My first film on the big screen since being back on the East Coast.

My first theater experience, made me miss the Southern Californian movie theaters. LA as you can imagine is a place that takes their theaters seriously. From enforcing restrictions on R rated showings, to having state of the art sound and picture, to policing the screenings.

The policing part made moot, by the fact that the Socal movie crowd, like I said is serious about their films. This east coast screening however, slightly marred by the fact that some idiot with a laser pointer made me want to kill somebody. An irritation easily resolved in the short term by having an usher in the theater to monitor just such idiocies, and in the long term by more selective breeding.

This country has too many of the wrong people breeding. This moron, someone told me later was in there with three kids (seemingly his), and all four of them looking like Howdy Doody.

I hate morons. Always have, always will. I hate people who cross the line.

That minor idiocy bringing us back to the topic at hand, the WATCHMEN. The 12 chapter graphic novel at its heart is a cross-generational murder mystery, about a time and a breed of people, that hold an ever more broken line.

The graphic novel is an acknowledged masterpiece, that I read when it first came out in 1986, and reread recently… just a scant month before the opening of the film.
watchmen
The graphic novel is deserving of its praise, as written and drawn and colored by three brits, it uses the trappings of the hero genre to examine and dissect the paranoia of a cold war America, and the violent, decadent, cannibalistic American id. An oft covered topic now, back in 1985-1986, the work was revelatory. In many ways it still is.

Dense and layered and rich, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and John Higgins’ WATCHMEN was the wakeup call to a medium, that had been a long time sleeping. There is a sophistication to what these gentleman had done in the WATCHMEN that has since been much copied, but seldom equaled.

For over 2 decades it kicked around Hollywood, unfilmable most said. But that was before. Before comic properties routinely started generating over 100million dollars. Before CGI grew up. Before Zack Snyder’s 300, made much money on little investment.

So the unfilmable movie has been filmed, and director Zack Snyder is to be applauded for his vision, his style, his direction, his faithfulness to the source. There are many scenes that made me smile, because they capture exact and momentous moments, capture them well. Many scenes improve on the source, make moments cinematic and visceral, definitely Snyder’s strength in 300.

His action scenes are phenomenal. Not since Peckinpah and Woo has anyone used slow motion as effectively.

In pieces, in parts, the movie impresses; but as a whole it unfortunately fails. And that can be summed up in one word: Pacing.

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Snyder tries to be faithful to the book, but the book is too dense and too rich to be shoehorned into 2 or even 3 hours. Without having read the graphic novel, large parts of the movie are going to be confusing and incomprehensible to the audience. Even having read the novel, I clearly saw that much of it was muddled at best. I felt the whole conceit and destruction it was building up to and that the ‘heroes’ were racing to stop, got lost. The characters moving from scene to scene, but the why of their movements either lost on the cutting room floor or never filmed. I knew the ending of the book, but based on just watching the film, you wouldn’t.

Snyder’s faithfulness to the source material, costing him in terms of making it accessible and exciting as a film. Bottom line, there was too much happening, in too little a period of time, to too many characters.

And it cost a visually inventive movie its heart. Its audience.

The movie would have been better served as a tv show, or a movie trilogy.

Both options giving the audience time to know the characters and care for them, an empathy absent from this film.

Looking at the trilogy aspect, the first movie should have ended with the death of the Comedian, not been just the beginning of a movie. That would have covered the Minutemen years. The 2nd movie would have been Rorschach’s investigation and the Watchmen years, and the third movie would have been the last hour and a half of the movie we saw in the theaters minus the muddled shoehorned in back-story.

But hindsight is 20/20. I can see clearly what works, because of Zack Snyder’s effort.

He had much right. The casting I thought was spot on, the performances, the acting, the visuals, the music, however the script and the pacing did not play to the strengths of cinema, this edit of the movie largely was nonsensical and cost a movie that could have been… great, its greatness.

So all in all, a failed film. That I would not recommend to anyone who has not read the book, and even those who have… may find it a viewing better reserved for when the extended, and hopefully re-edited DVD comes out.

But I still count Zack Snyder, with only 3 movies under his belt (DAWN OF THE DEAD, 300, WATCHMEN), as one of the most exciting filmmakers working, because even his misses, are visually more interesting than most people’s successes.

A filmmaker to watch.

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE! Recommendations & Reviews Comic books, Graphic Novels, DVDs, CDs, Books!

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Hola

Glad you stumbled in here! In this pretty snazzy section you’ll uncover things I love, things I like, and things I find intriguing, all available here for sale.

I hope to make this page a one-stop shop for people looking for interesting items on a daily basis.

And the idea is to update this page daily, YES I SAID DAILY, with new items! So after this week I’ll probably move this page to the list over there on your right. So while the blog proper, will not be updated every day, this specific page will be. But you’ll need to probably bookmark it, just so you can check it easily on a daily basis.

To keep me honest if I miss a single day and you point it out to me via email (“heroictimes at safe dash mail dot net” or by leaving a comment on this post), along with a suggestion for an item I should have posted that day, you win a free comic! Yes a free surprise comic of my choice!

Also the person who buys the most items through this page, in any given month wins the prize of the month.

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This month’s prize is a copy of the acclaimed, and Out of Print film noir book called THE BIG BOOK OF NOIR. A fantastic book edited by Ed Gorman, and packed with interviews, anecdotes, reviews, opinion, gossip on all things noir, from book to film to comics. (Since I’m posting this in the middle of December, we’ll call January 15th, the end of this month, for contest purposes.)

So onto todays items for sale:

If you see an item you’d like to try, please use the following links to buy the items as they help me generate revenue. So it’s a win-win situation. You get great items and I generate pennies to help keep this blog going and growing.

Thanks and Tendras un gran fin de semana.

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David Lapham- is one of those writers whose reputation, for me at least, is made on the strength of one book.

youngliarsThat book is STRAY BULLETS #1. I remember that issue, when it came out, nearly two decades ago if I’m not mistaken, and I remember being completely blown away by it.

No one had seen anything like that first issue. It predated SIN CITY, PREACHER, everything.

It was a dark, bottomless scream… with no end. With no end. And it changed the face of comics.

No one will admit to it. But overnight, everyone knew the bar had been raised.

Twenty years ago STRAY BULLETS #1 was the most powerful gutshot the comics world had ever seen. Unfortunately the 20+ issues of STRAY BULLETS that followed that opening, never equaled it, never came close.

And the medium in the 20 years since, has grown beyond STRAY BULLETS. And the medium is the better for it.


But that first issue of STRAY BULLETS remains a favorite, and its creator Dave Lapham, on the strength of that issue, remains a name I’m always ready to support.

That long winded intro brings us to the just released TPB of Dave Laphams, YOUNG LIARS. I’ve heard some good word of mouth about this series, and at $7.99 for six issues worth of material that’s a fantastic deal and one I’ll be picking up. Try a copy for yourself here!

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Next recommendation:

A book that has not been far from my corner table and I whole heartedly recommend is:

sightunseenSIGHT UNSEEN- by Robert Tinnell and Bo Hampton, is an Original Graphic Novel published by IMAGE COMICS. It’s slightly an odd choice for a holiday stocking stuffer, but if someone likes horror movies (specifically ghost stories) and Graphic Novels, you’ll have a hard time trying to find a better combination of the two, to give them as a present.

Horror movies, the adrenalin inducing scenes/scares that compose them… are very medium specific. They depend on pacing, and sound, and sudden motions… so it’s not something that translates into the static medium of slims (comics/graphic novels).

To generate a sense of momentum, and pacing, and unease, and perhaps even horror… is perhaps the hardest thing to do in comics.

Most horror comics, are about horrible contexts, but the book itself has no horror in it. It either leans toward the campy or tongue in cheek, ala EC comics, or just the wonderfully rendered image, ala the Warren books, and this is because making something that elicits feelings of trepidation out of words and static pictures, takes a unique melding of the craft. A unique marriage of the words and the images.

WALKING DEAD to its credit has done it. And SIGHT UNSEEN to its credit, is equally effective.

SIGHT UNSEEN might just be the most effective example, of Graphic Novel as a book of horror.

Robert Tinnel crafts a truly engaging, and compelling narrative, married to absolutely effective visuals… visuals that almost… move, by the great Bo Hampton.

It’s a fantastic ghost story that I will not go into details about, except to say… I keep looking for another Graphic novel half as good, and as effective… and have yet to find one.

Pick up the hardcover if it is available, this graphic novel deserves the hardcover treatment. It’s one you’ll want a copy to give as a present, and a copy to keep for yourself. Order your copies here before it sells out. You’ll thank me later. :).

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You can fit what I know about Tori Amos on the head of a pin, but I know a good value when I hear it, and Tori Amos’ COMIC BOOK TATTOO clearly qualifies. A wealth of talent, and a fantastic price point makes this book one that has been selling out all over the place. Pick up your copy here.

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I’m a real big fan of interactive books. I got hooked when I was a kid, on the “choose your own adventure type ” books. Books where depending on what you want to do, you jump to a particular page and read your ending of choice.

Just a great book for a kid, pre-video games. And I think even in our 21st century CGI, video-game obsessed society; it is still a good present.

So anyhow, huge fan of interactive books. So when I saw new publishing company, QUIRK had started putting out Interactive Mystery books starring iconic characters, I had to order them, and I think they’ll make a great present for adults and kids alike.

The titles are Dracula’s Heir HC (2008 Interactive Mystery) dheiravailable here, and Batman Murder at Wayne Manor HC (2008 Interactive Book) batmaninteractiveavailable here! So go pick em up, and tell them Heroic Times sent ya! :) .

rexlibrisvol1Rex Libris Vol I- A book about a 2000 year old, Alien and Demon fighting, Librarian. What’s not to love? :) . Amusing, fun, and with a nice intro by Dave Sim. Collects the first half dozen issues. Click here to get it on sale!

Books For Kids of all ages!

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AMELIA RULES- I picked an issue of this comic up for free, along with free versions of SIMPSONS, SCOTT PILGRIM and OWLY and a few other kid friendly comics; and while all those books are good, AMELIA RULES clearly stood out from the pack.

It was just such a fun, endearing book. So much so that I decided to pick up the AMELIA RULES: WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY? trade. I have to say, that book will make you happy. It hits the Charlie Brown note of telling stories of a pack of neighborhood kids, but is its own animal, by including the misadventures of the adults as well.

It is a bittersweet, at times biting satire, but always heartwarming chronicle of a young bunch of friends, and their wonder years.

There are three trades currently and the fourth is on the way. Jimmy Gownley has yet to place a foot wrong, and if you’re looking for a great read for kids, as well as layered humor that will also make adults laugh out loud for different reasons then these are the books you want to buy. Highly Recommended!

(Example of that layered storytelling: In the Ninja Battle story of WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY, there’s a line shouted by the character REGGIE as he tries to hold onto his presidency. It’s a line that kids will laugh at because it’s just a funny line, but politically savvy adults will laugh out loud at, because it satirizes a recent political reality. That is unbelievably difficult to do, write a multi-leveled work, that can be many things to many people. But Gownley in AMELIA RULES pulls it off.)Click here to buy Amelia Rules! Your funny bone will thank you!

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K-CHRONICLES-by Keith Knight. And speaking of satire. I had the great pleasure of meeting the author and artist of the K-CRONICLES, Keith Knight at a recent con, and purchasing two of his books from him. The books are Just funny, fantastic, insightful looks at the world, from a most unique 20something protagonist.

From making a living as a Michael Jackson impersonator to the finer points of Frat parties and beer bongs to that oddest of things called Californication (where people from California, want people from other states to stay the heck away) it’s just a great strip, to touch base with often.

Cartoons and cartoonists like this give me hope for the future of the medium. And thankfully there is now a thick compilation of all the previous slim K-CHRONICLE volumes. THIS IS A MUST HAVE! Because it might go out of print, then the used prices will shoot up, and you’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t buy it when you had the chance.
So highly recommended the complete K-CHRONICLES.Click here to buy THE COMPLETE K-CHRONICLES! 500 pages of goodness!

And finally wrapping up this installment, please support the following auctions. You can find all the following items pictured below and more being auctioned off here!

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2008 Holiday Gift Recommendations! Comics and Trades!

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!

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I’ve tried to write this stupid 2008 Holiday gift guide half a dozen times, and each time it turns into WAR AND PEACE. Raaaaaaaarrrgghhhhhh! I hate being so… so….. complete! I want to tell you everything that is good to give as a gift….and quite frankly… taking a long time.

So no research, no looking up, just off the cuff, I’m tossing out items I think will be great gifts:

AMELIA RULES- Great for kids. Great for adults. It’s on trade number four, and I highly recommend all of them.

BOONDOCKS- Both the TV show (both seasons available on DVD) and the trades rule. Pick em up.

MADMAN- The newest trade from Mike and Laura Allred does not disapoint. Issue #3 alone, you can spend days! DAYS! researching each panel, and his influences, and their influences… etc.

TED MCKEEVER LIBRARY BOOK 1 TRANSIT- Mckeever is one of my favorite creators. His style somewhere between Giffen and Mazzuchelli. You can see him in this volume riffing on DAREDEVIL BORN AGAIN (A classic!). And surprisingly I like the Dark Horse small hardcover format. Though I do think that given the size the price is a little steep. But that aside a great book.

If you’re a classic comic fan, it is a REALLY good time to be a collector, because there are a ton of great companies, putting out long sought after collected editions. “Like what” you ask?

jkirbyomnibusWell DC’s JACK KIRBY FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS set (4 books in all) is a long time coming, and done in chronological order, it’s really a must have. DC has better designed books, their ABSOLUTE EDITIONS are the most impressive hardcovers currently being produced (sorry MARVEL), but THE FOURTH WORLD books are arguably the most important collected edition DC has produced (and they are just fun!). They are great comics, and they are also historically important to the medium. If you like comics I think it’s a must own.

DARK HORSE is to be applauded for bringing to hardcover quite a few acclaimed properties, from BUFFY to HELLBOY. But the three I want to single out for praise are the CREEPY ARCHIVES VOL I and VOL II, THE TED MCKEEVER LIBRAY, and BERNIE WRIGHTSON’S FRANKENSTEIN. They are all MUST HAVES!

It’s funny DARK HORSE is collecting Warren’s CREEPY and EERIE, but the other acclaimed Warren publcation BLAZING COMBAT is being released by FANTAGRAPHICS. I guess FANTAGRAPHICS beat them to the punch, but I’m just happy to have this one back in print. A must own!

And finally last quick recommends for this installment:

BLUESMAN, MAGE, REX LIBRIS (First trade is fantastic! And last issue #13 has just wrapped), JOURNEY, and SCUD THE DISPOSABLE ASSASSIN, BLACK JACK (an older trade by Alex Simmons, but quite good).

Okay that’s it for now. I’ll have more recommendations later, and will mix it up with books, movies, music, etc.