Currently Reading : BATMAN Vol1-3 by Tom King

Tom King in a few years has made quite a name for himself as a writer of Slims (comic books).

Always suspicious of hype, I went into his VISION quite skeptical. Long story made short, his VISION lives up to the hype. You can come into it not knowing anything, and be quickly swept away by the sheer power, and humanity and hurt; in a story about what it means to be human, in an inhuman world.

http://amzn.to/2sytRaa

 

It truly is fabulous and if you have never read it, it is a highest recommendation. There is a just dropped hardcover available at remaining Bookstores everywhere.

His MISTER MIRACLE released half a dozen Slims in 2017, the issues were definitely good, though the final verdict is out till he sticks the landing this year. Like the VISION and his earlier OMEGA MEN, it is about a damaged character, a broken character. A slightly off kilter world view.  So far all titles are relatively intriguing and well crafted.  In the case of the VISION masterfully crafted.

 

Then we come to the books up for review this installment, BATMAN VOL 1-3 from the DC Rebirth Line of books, by Tom King.

 

http://amzn.to/2EstqnA

http://amzn.to/2EtmNRZ

http://amzn.to/2swBT3r

 

The irrationality and poor decision making and erratic, even stupid, behavior; that worked well in the tale of a broken Android, a torn freedom fighter, and a suicidal God, does not work well in the BATMAN books.

The very conceit for the whole three volumes, is that Batman (the world’s greatest detective and inventor), is distraught about an emotionally damaged ward, and decides in a world of super scientists, magicians, and Gods, the only way to help his ward, is by stealing a mediocre villain, with the power to make people feel happy, so he can smile at Batman’s traumatized ward and make her feel happy. If that is not a brain-dead enough premise, it becomes even more moronic, when he decides to accomplish this by putting together a suicide squad and risking war and death, and doing this knowing it will wake a retired and sleeping dragon.

It is just the type of moronic plotting one tends to associate with brain-damaged villains seeking world conquest, not the resourceful Batman. And adding stupidity on stupidity, KIng redefines what drives Batman, to be not a sense of justice, or outrage, but a desire toward… (wait for it) Suicide.

And that definition doesn’t stick. Not with any interpretation of the character that makes sense. The desire to die doesn’t push you to be a beyond Olympic level athlete, it doesn’t push you to endure, it doesn’t push you to overcome.

Ultimately this addled definition is Tom King’s definition of the character, unfortunately, it seems to be the same broken, frayed creature that he tries to shape all the characters he writes into. And what worked with THE VISION, and THE OMEGA MEN, and seems to be working with MISTER MIRACLE, does inherently not work, does not graft, does not fit… onto the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Plus I can really do without the Yellow costumed Sidekick. I can do without the sidekick dynamic period. Either make him his own character (his own man) and get him out of the insipid yellow costume, or don’t have the character in the book.

Tom King is instead of tailoring the story to the character, seemingly making every character fit into the same story mold. All Tom King’s character are horrible tacticians, who make horrendous plans. That is not any type of Batman I want to read about. I picked up the three Tom King Batman volumes from the library to give a try, and I am so glad I didn’t buy them. It is surprisingly uninteresting, tedious, and disappointing reading.

Final Grade: AVOID

 

 

 

 

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What’s Hot & What’s Not : What’s Worth Buying in Comics & Slims!

What’s Hot & What’s Not : What’s Worth Buying in Comics & Slims!

 

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MARVEL

What is worth buying Monthly: Al Ewing’s MIGHTY AVENGERS

Buy Here: https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=24597149&affid=200301p0

At 3.99 and up, and with stories that don’t lend themselves to satisfying stand-alone monthly reads, Marvel Comics for me have largely priced themselves out of the monthly or periodical business.

The only exception being Al Ewing’s MIGHTY AVENGERS, the only book by Marvel Comics I seek out on a monthly basis. And even then I pre-order that title so I end up not paying the outrageous $3.99 retail price. And once that title is no longer, I will go back to, happily, getting 0 periodicals from Marvel.

Don’t get me wrong, Marvel has some fantastic writers and artists, from Remender’s UNCANNY AVENGERS to Aaron’s THOR, however at nearly $4 a pop for advertising strewn monthlies, from a company that has the margins of scale to hold the line at 2.99 but simply choose not to, I can’t justify paying $4 and up for their monthly comics. Which you invest all that time in, and the story ends up being derailed by editorial or a weak conclusion. Much better way to sample Marvel, I have found, is to wait till the stories are collected, do your homework by checking the reviews, and using resources like Amazon or your local comic store or library to purchase the collected editions at a sizable discount.

DC

What is worth buying Monthly: ASTRO CITY and GREEN ARROW, and the upcoming GRAYSON has me interested as well! Buy Here:
https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=22331595&affid=200301p0
https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=24307845&affid=200301p0
https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=25854386&affid=200301p0

Everything I said for Marvel goes for DC, with the exception DC has of late had far fewer creators or titles I’m interested in sampling at all. I think they followed up the initial high of the New 52 with largely a lot of uninspired and direction-less characters and books. Their flagship titles such as JLA, Superman, Batman, due to too many cooks (editorial influence) and over-saturation of the characters across multiple titles, are largely unreadable. However in the titles that are one-offs and left alone in the periphery, such as GREEN ARROW and ASTRO CITY that tell self contained stories with characters that are the singular vision of one creative team, if DC can do more of this they can right their flailing ship. Have 1 JLA title, 1 Green Lantern title, and no more than 2 Batman or Superman titles, but staff them with exciting creative teams, and that lack of confusion right there is a start. Add to that if they have more such titles at the $2.99 price-point, they can attract readers rather than alienating them.

DARK HORSE

What is worth buying Monthly: MIND MGMT, THE MASSIVE, GHOST, DARK HORSE PRESENTS, THE GOON OOR, POP, and SUNDOWNERS

Buy your Copy Here: https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=22803281&affid=200301p0

When it comes to the smaller publishers I’m more forgiving in regards to price. They don’t have the scale to set prices as a Marvel and DC do, but still try to provide lower prices, and even when the prices are the same, smaller publishers such as Dark Horse excel in giving you more pages, less ads, extra material, including letters pages, and best of all books that are the unique vision of a distinctive creative team, not typically beholden to company wide editorial events. The books as a whole are more mature, able to offer something more than another reworking of decades old super-hero stories.

Dark Horse makes some of the best hardcovers and collected editions, and recently they have excelled at making some of the best monthly books.

Among them MIND MGMT, THE MASSIVE, GHOST, DARK HORSE PRESENTS, THE GOON OOR, POP, SUNDOWNERS and the recently ended Brian Wood’s STAR WARS. At over half a dozen titles, it for me is clearly a more interesting company with more interesting titles than either Marvel or DC.

IDW

What is worth buying Monthly: WEIRD LOVE
Buy it Here: https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=25619219&affid=200301p0

IDW makes great collected editions and art books. I’m less enamored of their monthly titles. One that does get my vote for solid entertainment month in and month out is WEIRD LOVE.

The last company to mention is IMAGE, and I left them for last because they are the best. I get more books from IMAGE than all the other companies combined. In part 2 of this installment we’ll devote it to covering all the great monthly books available from Image.

— to be continued–

 

 

Slims vs Comic Books! Diamond Preorders for books shipping July 2014!

The internet has made buying anything, a process far easier than I think we truly grasp. The technological leaps ahead that we have done in a few scant decades, taken for granted, underplayed and underacknowledged by a population seeking to numb itself from its horrors, by conversely meeting with jaded cynicism its wonders.

Reading is likewise much changed in the age of the atom.

This post particularly, concerns itself with reading slims (my name for the product hard-headedly referred to as a comic-book. Hardheadedly because it is neither typically humorous or a book).

The term ‘Slim’ poises it correctly as something periodic and sleek and a bit sexy and just as well suited for grownups as Dvds or books or paintings.

Today’s recommended Slims are:

Slims suffer from a bit of a distribution issue. For the most part you are not going to find them in the spinner racks of convenience stores any longer, nor in the big box superstores of say a Target or Walmart. So while Graphic Novels have never been more popular or influential in our society, the serialzed, periodic form of the Graphic Novel, the Slim, suffers from a visibity issue. They are hidden away for the most part in niche stores, called “direct market comic stores” that our misnomers that will not attract anyone but those already in the know, or nostalgia seekers.

It is an insular inbred model that does not shine its light beyond its own living room, and as such is not new reader friendly. Which is a shame, because as someone who has grown up with this oddest of hobbies and artforms, here in 2014 the width and breadth of story and art of the medium has never been better.

From scifi to mystery to historical drama to horror to humor to instructional to spy thriller, you name a genre and there is a writer, artist producing great work in this medium of Slims, of graphic literature.

That said there is, as in any medium, a lot of garbage out there, particularly in the most visible genre of Slims… the Superhero comic. A genre hampered by monopolistic collusion to the point the very term Super-hero has been jointly trademarked by the colluding companies of Marvel and DC. An idiotic trademark, attempting to own a term as much a part of the cultural venacular as God or myth or justice. But it is the choices of fawning to uncreative monopolistic interests that results in flooding the medium with a lot of noise, a lot of bad books.

The rising popularity of digital gives new options to find books, which is a great thing, however it also increases the odds that the books you come across will be bad, will be the noise rather than the signal.

And with Slims being $2.99 at best and $3.99 on the worse end, you can’t afford to experiment at this price point. This is no longer the day of 25cent comics, so each purchase of $2.99 or $3.99 has to justify itself. The $2.99 or $3.99 has to earn its value against a world rife with options from gaming to streaming to dvds to itunes to traditional books.

Which is why preordering is a pretty fantastic idea. Diamond is the monopoly that distributes Slims. Retailers order from them two months in advance. Customers like you and I preorder from Retailers. The benefit of preordering from your retailer… discounts of typically 35% to 40% off!!! WooHoo! Sign me up! :).

Now that said, that discount only means something if you’re ordering a great book. For a crappy book even getting 99% off is not reason enough to get the book.

So the following are books you can order by the end of May, at a discount, for July shipping. I’ve done the homework for you! 🙂

MAY140044
*
1 @ $0.60 = $0.60*1 FOR $1 MIND MGMT #1 (O/A)*
MAY140047
*
1 @ $0.60 = $0.60*1 FOR $1 STAR WARS (O/A) (C: 1-0-0)*
MAY140048
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1 @ $0.60 = $0.60*1 FOR $1 THE MASSIVE #1 (O/A)*
MAY140050
*
1 @ $0.60 = $0.60*GOON OCCASION OF REVENGE #1 (OF 8) *Special Discount*
MAY140010
*
1 @ $1.75 = $1.75*GHOST #6*
MAY140062
*
1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*GREAT PACIFIC #18 (MR)*
MAY140707
*
1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*MANIFEST DESTINY #8*
MAY140712
*
1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*MERCENARY SEA #6*
MAY140713
*
1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #2 (MR)*
MAY140719
*
1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*REVIVAL #22 (MR)*
MAY140723
*
1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*SAGA #21 (MR)*
MAY140726
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*STAR WARS #19 2013 ONGOING (C: 1-0-0)*
MAY140085
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*WALKING DEAD #129 (MR)*
MAY140744
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*SIMPSONS COMICS #213*
MAY141127
*
1 @ $1.94 = $1.94*LOW #1 (MR) *Special Discount*
MAY140566
*
1 @ $1.99 = $1.99*RAGNAROK #1 *Special Discount*
MAY140444
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1 @ $1.99 = $1.99*USAGI YOJIMBO COLOR SPECIAL ARTIST ONE-SHOT *Special
Discount*
MAY140055
*
1 @ $1.99 = $1.99*TAROT WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE #87 (MR)*
MAY141233
*
1 @ $2.07 = $2.07*BLACK SCIENCE #7 (MR)*
MAY140696
*
1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*LAZARUS #10 (MR)*
MAY140709
*
1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*MANHATTAN PROJECTS #22*
MAY140711
*
1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*MASSIVE #25*
MAY140071
*
1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*SKULLKICKERS #29*
MAY140730
*
1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*SOUTHERN BASTARDS #4 (MR)*
MAY140731
*
1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*STRAY BULLETS THE KILLERS #5 (MR)*
MAY140734
*
1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*HALLOWEEN EVE ONE SHOT CVR A (O/A)*
MAY140640
*
1 @ $2.39 = $2.39*MIGHTY AVENGERS #12*
MAY140795
*
1 @ $2.39 = $2.39*MIND MGMT #24*
MAY140070
*
1 @ $2.39 = $2.39*BEAUTIFUL WAR #2*
MAY140447
*
1 @ $2.59 = $2.59*CALIBAN #4 WRAP CVR (MR)*
MAY141073
*
1 @ $2.59 = $2.59*SIMPSONS ILLUSTRATED #12*
MAY141129
*
1 @ $2.59 = $2.59*WEIRD LOVE #2*
MAY140541
*
1 @ $2.59 = $2.59*ENORMOUS #2 CVR A CHEGGOUR*
MAY141626
*
1 @ $2.79 = $2.79*TUKI SAVE THE HUMANS #1*
MAY141240
*
1 @ $2.79 = $2.79*BLACK KISS 2 XXXMAS IN JULY SPECIAL ONE SHOT (MR) (C:
1-0-0)*
MAY140601
*
Go here to order : http://www.dcbservice.com/
Tell em HT sent ya!

COMIC BOOK COVERS OF THE DAY

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Artist of the Day: Alex Ross!!

The only reason I started rereading comics or graphic novels or slims, is because of Alex Ross. I had turned my back on the medium, just tired of the juvenile art, the storytelling style, everything. Then Alex Ross exploded onto the scene with the one-two punch of the graphic novels MARVELS then KINGDOM COME.

Self contained, stand alone, complete stories, told with jaw droppingly astonishing painted art. People immediately began calling him the Norman Rockwell of comics, and that term is not quite undeserved.

Like Norman Rockwell, Alex Ross is able to imbue his scenes with a sense of homey Americana, that calls back a yearning to better, simpler days now passed… or perhaps never existed.

But he does more than imbue scenes with nostalgia, he does something Rockwell never did, perhaps never dreamt of doing, Alex Ross imbues his scenes with a sense of awe, of scale, of grandeur.

Of myth.

It has become habit these days for people without a fraction of Ross’ talent or vision to take his work for granted. To call his effort: extremism, and to call his meticulous paints: stiff, over rendering… I see nothing stiff or over-rendered in the work of Alex Ross but people are allowed their opinion, though the criticism always struck me as uninformed opinion.

It always struck me as the voices of jealous ants trying to deride an elephant. People disparaging Alex Ross, simply because he was that good.

Alex Ross is a meticulous perfectionist, who paints worlds that never were, but should be, and populates them with the stuff of faith…rewarded. Long before Hollywood made a habit of making our marvels real, Ross reached out to the lightning, and called down the thunder, and put it on paper, and gave us all a vision… to aspire to.

Many a painter has come on the sequential art scene since Ross’ mainstream debut, and they all bring something wonderful to the mix. But it’s a testament to Alex Ross’ skill, his understanding and his love for the heroic… that none of the numerous painters now in the medium, quite grasp that sense of grandeur that Ross brings to even the least of his creations.

All his creations look out at you with eyes that have seen the worst, yet still seem to say… “endure, be better.”

And end of the day, I figure… that’s not such a bad message for an artist and his art to leave us with. So for all these reasons Alex Ross is our Artist of the Day.

Check out all his work at the links below:

Site for Alex Ross Art and Info!

Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross

Rough Justice: The DC Comics Sketches of Alex Ross

The Dynamite Art of Alex Ross HC

The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes

Absolute Justice

Absolute Kingdom Come

Uncle Sam: Deluxe Edition

COMIC BOOK SERIES OF THE DAY I of III: THULSA DOOM!

Arvid Nelson is a strong writer, I really like his work, and leave it to him to flesh out one of Robert Howards more underwritten, stereotyped characters. Plus fantastic covers!

It’s one of the books I would recommend picking up the slims (individual issues) over the graphic novel if you can find them. If not grab the graphic novel here: Robert E. Howard Presents Thulsa Doom SC!

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