lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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John Constantine Hellblazer: Original Sins written by Jamie DeLano, art by John Ridgway and Alfredo Alcala, colors by Lovern Kindzierski, letters by Annie Halfacree, Todd Klein and John Constanza

DeLano to me has always been the unappreciated work-horse of the early Vertigo line. Especially here, in the first issues of John Constantine's solo title. Which puts him right in between Alan Moore on Swamp Thing and Garth Ennis on Hellblazer. Which is a shame, since DeLano has a perfect grasp of ol' Conjob. The way he'll save the world, even if it costs the lives of friends and allies. Or his ability to hustle his supernatural enemies into taking themselves out...

Plus DeLano presents some genuinely creepy horror tales. The first two stories, "Hunger" involving a bottle imp and a junkie friend of Constantine and "Go for it" about soul buying yuppie demons are especially eloquent and gruesome tales. And he even adds more than a dollop of the series trademark black humor (or humour). Like the flesh-crafted monstrosity made of skin head soccer holligans. Or the final pages where John breaks off a piece of the Swamp Thing to use in making a cigarette roll-up. Yep, Jamie DeLano the Oh Yeah That Guy of the Vertigo line...l
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Punishermax: Kingpin written by Jason Aaron, art by Steve Dillon, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, letters by VC's Cory Petit

Marvel's MAX line is meant to allow them to mature stories. Mature meaning truly gruesome violence and some nudity. The original MAX version of Punisher was Garth Ennis' five, six year run. Stripping away the ties to the super-hero Marvel universe and show-casing the essence of the character. A man whose personal tragedy and loss led to him slaughtering thousands of criminals...

In this volume the title has been taken over by Jason Aaron (Ghost Rider, Scalped) who adds a MAX version of Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin. And he's backed by the pencils of long-time Ennis collaborator Steve Dillon. And there are few artists as skilled when it comes to presenting the over-the-top comedic horrorshow of violence that is Punishermax. Aaron takes a risk by making Frank Castle almost a secondary character in this first arc, concentrating more on the origin and motivations of Fisk. But it pays off in creating a criminal antagonist for the Punisher that you can believe could survive and even best him. At least for now...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Groom lake written by Chris Ryall, art by Ben Templesmith, letters by Robbie Robbins

Enter a world of murderous government conspiracy. Of horrifying experimentation. Where the black-suited agents of black booked agency trade America's rednecks for strange alien technologies. And where the future of the Earth is locked away in the genetic structure of Karl Bauer white trash slacker from Bumfuck, USA...

Groom Lake gives us a Truth that is Out There. Possibly a bit too far Out There...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Brain Camp written by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan, art by Faith Erin Hicks, colors by Hilary Sycamore

I must admit I ordered this comic because I thought it was both drawn and written by Faith Erin Hicks. But despite that Kim & Klavan turn out an excellent story of a Stepford teen camp. Brainwashed teens, strange bird-things and some truly bad parenting. Pretty good, plus all drawn by the talented Faith Erin Hicks...





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Demo vol. 2 written by Brian Wood, illustrated by Becky Cloonan, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher

A second volume to Wood and Cloonan's first mini-series. With six new short tales that take the concept of super-powers and twist and mold them into something different. Wood and Cloonan, as always, make for a near-perfect storytelling team...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Marvel Adventures Spider-Man: Amazing written by Paul Tobin, Pencils by Matteo Lolli & Scott Koblish, inks by Christian Dalla Vecchia, Terry Pallot, Scott Koblish and Andrew Hennessy, colors by Sotocolor, letters by Dave Sharpe

The roommate picks up the trades for the current Spider-Man books every so often. Which means I can then look over them. And they're all very..ok. Sometimes even pretty good. But they never click with me. Nice enough books, even with growing out of a stupid, stupid set-up (like a lot of Marvel books for the last 5, 6 years). But not really doing anything for me...

Unlike the Marvel Adventures version. I don't know if its Tobin's writing or the low-impact continuity. Or just the knowledge that things like Deals with the Devil (regular Marvel) or 90% of the people being total tools (Ultimate Marvel) aren't there. Probably a combination of all that. Heck the entire line essentially rebooted in the last year or so and its barely noticeable...

As to this specific volume, collecting the first four issues of the new MA Spider-Man. Its got Pete and some low-end teen dating angst and a new girlfriend character (who can talk to animals) and ninjas and cute pug dogs and an owl and the Blonde Phantom and gangsters and JJJ yelling and wraps with a nasty fight against Bullseye. Who comes off as very creepy and menacing. All in a all-ages book. Remember, Marvel Adventures where all-ages means ALL ages...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Giantkiller by Dan Brereton

Brereton again mixes horror and action, this time focusing his talents on the world of kaiju or giant monsters. In 1999 California's Diablo Valley suffers a volcanic eruption. One that leaves the area a tainted wasteland with a poisoned atmosphere. And where strange giant beasts now roam. Every expedition into the area has resulted in total casualties. But now three years later, the U.S. government has Project: Giantkiller aka Jack. A human/monster hybrid, grown in a lab and set loose on the monsters...

Beyond everything else, Dan Brereton draws one hell of a monster. And his variations on the many classic rubber-suit monsters from Saturday afternoon movies do not disappoint...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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X-Men: S.W.O.R.D: No Time to Breathe written by Kieron Gillen, pencils by Steven Sanders, Craig Yeung, colors by Matt Wilson, letters by Dave Lanphear

S.W.O.R.D. The Sentient World Observation and Response Department. The top-secret acronym agency of Marvel Earth, tasked with alien defense. Created, along with its commander the half-alien Abigail Brand during Joss Whedon's X-Men run. Originally meant to be the start of an ongoing series but then downgraded to a mini. Because people are stupid and I hate them...

In the wake of the latest Skrull invasion and the takeover of America's various acronym super-secret agencies by Norman "the Green Goblin" Osborn (don't ask) S.W.O.R.D. now has two commanders. Agent Brand and longtime government lackey Henry Gyrich. Who is plotting to take over. For the world's own good of course. In opposition? Well Brand. And her boyfriend, sometime X-Men and Avenger Hank "the Beast" McCoy. And one very melancholy little space dragon...

Kieron Gillen is probably the best thing to happen to the X-franchise since Grant Morrison. And this mini-series just helps reinforce why. I mean if nothing else for his use of Death's Head and the Adam X cameo...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science written by Brian Clevinger, art by Scott Wegenger, colors by Ronda Pattison and letters by Jeff Powell

Ok, so we've covered Atomic Robo before. And all the main points remain true. Killer dialogue. Sweet action sequences. Robots and super-science. Of course this one, which is about Robo in '31 teaming up with pulp-hero Jack Tarot to hunt gangsters, also actually has appearances by Robo's father, Nikolai Tesla. Plus Robo getting a girlfriend. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL, the '11 Free Comic Book Day story which features Dr. Dinosaur. Crazy ol', terrbile plans, funny ol' gun toting Dr. Dinosaur...

The world will always need comics where robots punch dinosaurs in the face...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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The Books of Magic written by Neil Gaiman, art by John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess & Paul Johnson, letters by Todd Klein

Timothy Hunter thinks of himself as a normal, everyday twelve year old kid. Of course he doesn't know he is someone on whom fate and destiny and stuff can hinge. Which is why a quartet of odd trenchcoated "men" decide to offer him an opportunity. The chance to learn about magic. The Phantom Stranger to show him the history of magic. John Constantine to give him a tour of the DCU's mystical side. Dr. Occult to lead him around the worlds of maybe and could be. And Mr. E to take him by the hand and into the potential of what may come next...

I've always liked Tim. From his introduction here when he's more of a prop to hold up the story to the long ongoing to the various minis that followed that. Hell, I'd say Tim would work better to try and integrate into the mainstream DCU, but what do I know...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Marvel Zombies 3 written by Fred Van Lente, art by Kev Walker, colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, letters by Rus Wooten

The original concept for Marvel Zombies was simple enough. An alternate version of the Marvel universe that underwent a zombie apocalypse. Where the world is infected by a Hunger Virus that creates flesh hungry undead. Ones still capable of reason and what not. And if you wonder how invulnrebility or healing factors or already being undead aren't effective at resisting being infected? Well its hand-waved away with "because zombies, thats why". Marvel put out three series all written by Walking Dead and Invincible creator Robert Kirkman. Plus a Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness mini-series. And I fucking hated all of them. I mean one of them ends with super-zombies eating Galactus and becoming Cosmic Super-Zombies. Ugh...

But then Marvel handed the concept over to Fred Van Lente who has written some of the better comics out there, both for Marvel and on his own. And he went with an attempted invasion of regular Marvel Earth by Zombie Marvel Earth. And brought in Aaron "Machine Man" Stack as the major protaganist. Recruited by A.R.M.O.R. (Alternate Reality Monitoring and Operational Response). And then just made it all work. It still has its moments of "Oh Come On!" for me. Like why Ghost Rider is now a zombie. Seriously, how do you infect a flaming skeleton with a virus? But despite that Van Lente keeps up the pace so that the story just moves past it. And Kev Walker can draw some hella icky looking super-zombies...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Noble Causes Archives: Vol. 1 written by Jay Faerber, art by many and various

Jay Faerber's Noble Causes follows the celebrity super-human family the Nobles. Starting from the introduction of super-speedster Race Noble's new girlfriend, "regular" girl Liz Donnelly. Liz serves as the entry point character for the world of both the super-human and high profile celebrity. Through her the often dysfunctional relationships of the Nobles and their family is explored...

This first of two volumes collects the frist twenty-six issues of Noble Causes and their assorted back-up features. Almost six-hundred pages of super-human soap opera. Family squabbles, murder, cross-dimensional travel, sex scandals, more murder, more family fighting and even some old-fashioned cape style face punchery...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Artesia by Mark Smylie

Epic fantasy with war and blood and ghosts and monsters and sex and murder and betrayal and religion and visions and violence and ladies with pole arms. What more do you want? Ok its also got wonderful crisp and clean art teamed with its high-stakes, large scale story. Its always good to find a fantasy series that doesn't feel like a rehash of someone's D&D campaign. I mean don't get me wrong. I love a decent D&D inspired fantasy as much as the next RPG nerd, but its still nice to have something with a creator not afraid to aim big...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Terra written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, drawn by Amanda Conner, colors by Rod Reis and Paul Mounts, letters by Rob Leigh, Travis Lanham, Sal Cipriano and Swands

Terra collects Supergirl #12 and the Terra mini-series. And basically serves as a zero volume prequel for the Palmiotti/Gray/Conner run on Power-Girl. And I'll admit that I bought both volumes of that and this one all in the desire to see more drawings of cats by Amanda Conner. Conner draws the best cats...

But in addition to potential adorable kitty cats Terra gives an enjoyable rookie hero story. One that even manages to make Geo-force halfway interesting. Always a challenge that. Plus a reminder of the potential in Capt. Boomerang's kid before DC decided he'd work better as a crazy-pants mass murderer. *eyeroll*

Anyway, Palmiotti and Gray write good cape comics and Amanda Conner deserves to be get far more work than she can handle. Provided it involves drawing cats...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Story and art by Bob Layton, colors by Christie Scheele and Bob Sharen and letters by Rick Parker

See yon noble godling Hercules. Verily, doth he climb up unto the heights of Olympus, home of his brethren. And lo, there he be mightly shushed for his father Zeus has proclaimed that it be a day of quiet reflection for it is truly the anniversary of the day upon which the mightiest of the Olympians was born. And lo all droopy pants is the mighty Hercules for truly he had hoped to return home and have a truly righteous party. But weep not for mopey Hercules for are these not some of the handmaidens of Olympus come to offer him refreshment?

But alas! For it is not in the nature of the Lion of Olympus to quietly partake of either refreshment or haindmaiden. But the groovin' and the shakin' of the Prince of Power has disturbed the solemn contemplations of all-mighty Zeus and truly he is most wroth! And so the scion of Zeus is banished! Let him go forth unto Bel Airedeepest space until he has learned humility...

And so Hercules sets forth upon the borrowed sun chariot of his brother into the vastness of space. There to encounter recording robots, aliens, sexy space ladies and even Galactus the World Devourer...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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iZombie: Dead to the World written by Chris Roberson, art by Michael Allred, colors by Laura Allred, letters by Todd Klein

Gwen's a brain-eating zombie. But not so much in the shambling around and attacking farm houses and malls kind of way. More in the working as a hipster gravedigger and hanging out with ghost girls and wereterriers and flirting with the new vampire hunter in town. Of course there is a new monster in town and he wants Gwen's help. But he's kind of a murderous vigilante mummy so she's not sure if she can trust him...

Chris Roberson creates Yet Another Urban Fantasy world, but he does it with style and wit and humor. And of course being backed by the art of Mike "Madman" Allred...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Inanana's Tears written by Rob Vollmar, drawn by M.P. Mann

Set some 5000 years in the past in the Fertile Crescent of the Tigris and Euphrates during the pre-history of humanity. Somewhat literally pre-history as part of the story concerns the birth of the concept of a written language. As well as the conflict between the old way of living as nomadic tribes and the new ways in cities built around the early mastery of agriculture. A story of religious conflict and gender roles and simple greed for power...

Inanna's Tears is less historical fiction than it is a possible fiction of what might have become history. All set at the beginning of what we might consider to be civilization...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Duncan the Wonder Dog: show one by Adam Hines

How would the world be different if every animal of every type, everywhere, could talk back. Were rational, sentient beings. Could discuss philosophy and politics and what your sister's daughter has been up to. Would things be different? Or just different enough to be noticeable but not to the level where you can't get a cheap hamburger...

Adam Hines book takes a long look at what makes a person a person. As well as telling a story of federal agents and terrorists and interspecies dating and raising kids and strange half-dog/half-boy godlings and cats and dogs and birds and politicians and stuff...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Tricked by Alex Robinson

In many ways Tricked is similar to Robinson's earlier Box Office Poison in that both have a large cast of odd Life in the City type characters. But where BOP is less a single story then a collection of loosely connected pieces, the six characters in Tricked all have their tales move inevitably together for the big climatic moment. Ray the rock star, Nick with the secret life, Phoebe the young girl in search of her past, Steve the weirdo, Caprice the waitress looking for love and Lily the luckiest office temp ever...
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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One Piece: East Blue story and art by Eiichiro Oda, English adaptation by Lance Caselman, translation by Andy Nakatani

Man, this series. Each volume packed full of mad cap super-pirate adventures. Captain Monkey D. Luffy the Rubber Lad determined to become King of the Pirates. Roronoa Zolo willing to face any challenge to be the World's Greatest Swordsman. And Nami who would steal the world blind. Facing deadlier and crazier and ever more dangerous foes. But damn. SOOOOOOOoooo many volumes. Like over fifty. Where's a giant-size omnibus when you need one?
lurkerwithout: (Reading cat)
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Franklin Richards Son of a Genius: Ultimate Collection Book 2 Story & script - Chris Eliopolous & Marc Sumerac, art & letters by Eliopolous and colors by Brad Anderson

Isn't calling Book 2 an Ultimate collection unfair to the ultimateness of Book 1? Anyway, this volume collects the "Spring Break", "Not So Secret Invasion", "Summer Smackdown", "Sons of Geniuses", "Its Dark Reigning Cats & Dogs", "April Fools!" and "Schools Out" one-shots...

One thing Marvel manages to do well are their all-ages books. Whenever their mainline is swimming in angst or cynicism or disappointing Big Event cross-overs I can count on books like Franklin Richards Son of a Genius to bring back the fun. Eliopolous and Sumerac always do that with their stories about Franklin and his robot baby-sitter H.E.R.B.I.E. With Franklin being a well-meaning, but impulsive little kid. One who, no surprise, would rather treat a lab full of super-science as the World's Greatest Toy Chest then do his chores or homework....

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