Monday, December 12, 2011

IN DEPTH review of Spider-Man and his Amazing friends episode

"The Fantastic Mr. Frump" over at my Tumblr.

Check it out! 

Some sample pics....

Mr.Frump and Mable

Doom on his hands and knees

Our Heroes

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hey Gang,

I have recently been watching some awesome cartoons, based on comic books, on Netflix Streaming, and my next post will expand on some of these, but this one is a little more involved than the other posts I have done, please bear with me while I put this post together, and enjoy the above sneek peek!

Also, if you want to read some awesome new comics this week, I would strongly urge you to check out Mudman number one by Paul Grist. Grist has wowed me with his Jack Staff series and Kane, he mixes superhero fun with classic style cartooning, below is a link to a preview:

The Avengers number 19 was another one I really enjoyed this week. Daniel Acuna turns out a fantastic looking book, and I really enjoy the camaraderie  that Bendis writes so well between these characters. I also really like the flirty banter that is happening with Hawkeye and Spider-Woman. Also the new line up of the Avengers is revealed!  Below is a link to a preview:

There you have it, more coming soon!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Secret Avengers #18 Mixes Superheroes, Inception and Kung Fu!

Cue the Scooby Doo sneaking music!
On a whim I decided to pick up issue number 18 of Secret Avengers (written by Warren Ellis, with art by David Aja and Raul Allen) and my friend prompted me to pick up the variant cover, which is an amazing image! (Thanks Brian!That is good customer service!) The explosive action continues into the pages past the cover.

So the basic concept of Secret Avengers as I gather, is that there is a group of Avengers that take on deadly missions that no one can know about, foiling plots too terrible to imagine (kind of like Uncanny X-Force?). The mission in number 18 involves Steve Rogers (formerly Captain America) Sharon Carter, and Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, invading an enemy base in the Multiverse, to prevent them from bringing a chemical from the Multiverse to Earth that will transform it into a sun.

Our Heroes
The entire mission takes place inside of an enemy base in another dimension, that has it's own physics. For one thing, the station floating in the Multiverse has a hull too thin for gun use, and has the dimensions of an M.C.  Escher drawing. Think Inception, but with ninja bad guys and superheroes.  Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter bring Shang-Chi in to 'Incapacitate all comers', and incapacitate he does. The action here is paced amazingly, is clear, and uses every possible angle you could to show just how unstoppable these three are when it comes to a bear knuckle brawl. Action depicted this cleanly, clearly and pulse-poundingly is more rare than it should be in superhero books, Aja uses the crazy physics of the setting for all it is worth.

I love the use of color and space here.

Ellis writes a done-in-one story here, he introduces about a dozen awesome concepts, and writes likable, capable characters and fun dialogue.One of my favorite bits was Beast's explanation of the Multiverse, more specifically 'Bad Continuum' which are broken offshoots of the Multiverse:

" They are notable for flaws in the laws of physics. A bad continuum might have gravity, for instance, but water will boil there at ten degrees, or frozen water will turn into music instead of ice."

If that ain't an awesome piece of science fiction style goodness, I don't know what is. The enemy the three come up against is Arnim Zola 4.2.3., who is a man who can broadcast his mind into robot bodies, but apparently 4.2.3. is a broken copy trapped inside a robot body...who plans to kill Steve Rogers and become Arnim Zola OS X! 

If you don't like villains like this comics are not for you.
All in all, this single issue of Secret Avengers has everything I look for in a superhero comic. Cool action, interesting/far out settings and concepts, kooky bad guys, fun banter and awesome artwork. I am going to be checking out issues in the future, thanks a lot Marvel....yeesh (my poor wallet). Oh and I thought that the page below was aweeesome.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Drawing the line at 2.99? How 'bout a buck?

In the past two weeks I've picked up two great comics, not for $3.99, or even $2.99...but one dollar. A buck!

 The first I will write about here is my first ever digital comics purchase, which I bought yesterday on Halloween, entitled Dracula The Unconquered, number one! Written by Chris Sims, with art by Steve Downer and letters by Josh Krach, Dracula is a fun for everyone adventure romp. The first thing you will notice, or at least the first thing I noticed, was that this comic is absolutely gorgeous. Goodness knows how long it took Downer to to draw AND color all of this awesomeness, but he does a stellar job. The action is clear and energetic, the characters are lively and fun,  I love the design of Dracula (and the entire cast) but I think one of my favorite things in particular here is how he integrates the sound effects into the panels. Too often have mainstream comics been resorting to digital fonts for their sound effects, plopped all hurly burly over the artwork. In Drac, the sound effects are etched in stone, engulfed in flames, and sliced through the air. It is something only comics do, and it is outstanding. The backgrounds, colors, lettering, everything here in fact, is top notch.

 Sims writes a confident and ready-for-anything Dracula, who isn't quite at his peak right now, but will not let momentary weakness stand in his way. The story opens with Dracula emerging from a coffin, a young woman standing over him with a stake, booming "WHO DARES RAISE DRACULA FROM THE DEAD?" An old acquaintance and rival it seems, who seeks to use Dracula as a tool to unite the world of the vampire. Dracula of course will have no part in this, but it seems those that resurrected him will not take 'no' for an answer. But why was Dracula locked away? What lead to his downfall? I really can't wait to find out. For a first issue, this baby moves, too! We have Dracula using spells, swinging chains, and battling giant magic spirits. This is well worth my one dollar payment! Sims, Downer and Krach should be very pleased with this first issue, and I will most definitely be back for issue number two.

Here is a six page preview! The website also has a lot of great process stuff!

The second book for a buck I got was Spaceman, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. I have not read their most famous work, 100 Bullets, but I really enjoyed their mini series Batman: Knight of Vengeance in the Flashpoint crossover fact it was the ONLY Flashpoint tie in book I really liked! Keeping that in mind I decided to try out Spaceman, and there is something very interesting cooking here.

Our hero in Spaceman is an ape-like creature named Orson who was created in a lab to explore Mars, but seems to have never gotten there...or perhaps he was there and is back? Orson is experiencing a nightmare at the opening of the story, on a dangerous mission to fix a breach in the Greenhouse at the base on Mars. He awakens, on Earth, in a seemingly post-apocalyptic landscape. This comic reminds me a bit of the book Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban, which also takes place in a less than ideal future where everyone speaks a strange hodgepodge of English. An example from Spaceman:

"This Batch,..I came across some primo CHEM--
tweaked the playlist. Strong like bull, so go eez. 
LITTLE tastes, or your HEAD'LL come off"

The whole comic is filled with dialogue like this, and makes for a more attentive read. The plot has some hints of the film Children of Men mixed in, it seems like this is a future that got away from humanity a little bit, and is just trying to catch up with the train-wreck it has become. 

I am a big fan of Eduaro Risso's artwork, to me he is a modern day practitioner of Herge's Ligne claire style, with a dash of Frank Quitely, especially in his use of negative space on the page. This is a Vertigo book, and as such is basically the exact opposite of Dracula the Unconquered, which is more of an all ages book. Spaceman features, among other things, weird future phone/skype sex (with diodes and suction cups) drug use, cursing and murder...but that is to be expected with a Vertigo book. I am very interested to see more of the world that Azzarello and Risso are building here.

So there ya have it chumps, two great comics for a dollar each (Spaceman has sales tax in PA though so it is a little more that that) what could be better?!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooky Halloween DragonBall post! (NSFW)

Just in time for Halloween! I wanted to do a ghoulish post before the Holiday passes us by completely, and a few options rooooose from the brain, when I was deciding. I was considering covering the recent Xombi series, or the Phantom of the Opera-esque arc in Jack Kirby's original The Demon series, or even the issue of Jimmy Olsen (also by Jack Kirby) where he runs into the universal monsters. One manga (Japanese comic for those who do not know) came to mind immediately though, and I decided to go with it...a particularly spooky arc from the classic manga by Akira Toriyama, DRAGONBALL!

Our heroes, ladies and gents.
The basic plot of Dragonball centers around Son Goku, a young boy who lives alone in the woods, who has a monkey tail, and is as strong as an ox. He goes on a quest around the world for 7 magic balls, the Dragon balls, which when gathered together summon the mighty dragon Shenlong who can grant any wish. While the most popular form of Dragonball (at least in the United States) is Dragonball Z, an animated fighting series adapted from the latter half of the Dragonball manga, it may come as a surprise for some the Dragonball started out as a really jokey, raunchy and silly martial arts comic.

The chillllling arc in question sees our heroes Son Goku, with his friends Kruririn (the monk) Yamucha (the tall young desert bandit) Upa (the little Native American boy) and Puar (the floating cat) entering a tournament held by a fortune telling witch who will tell them the location of the last Dragonball they need. Their opponents: SPOOKY MONSTERS!

First up is this Dracula with boxing gloves (I like calling vampires Draculas, sue me) who does battle with Kuririn. He keeps on turning into a bat and fluttering around, which is pretty cheap, and Kuririn can't catch him. He eventually re-dracs and chomps, or glomps, Kuririn's enormous bald head. 

The results of this are hilarious, but the action is still lively and satisfying. The brilliant thing about the early Dragonball comics is that Toriyama perfectly blends exciting and intense action with humor. It seems effortless, and perfectly illustrates why Toriyama is a master of comics. Oh and the hilarious results of Kuririn's wound:

Kuririn loses his match, and 'Count Dracula' is dispatched by Upa and Puar with some fast thinking...Yamucha takes up the next battle and his opponent:

The Invisible man! Yamucha can't see his opponent, obviously, and is getting the tar beaten out of him...that is, until Kuririn has a brilliant idea from the sidelines! A brief aside here, Dragonball is a very raunchy comic, which frequently features pretty low brow jokes and nudity that American audiences would be surprised by. Many of those instances of raunch are perpetrated by Master Muten Roshi, Son Goku's martial arts teacher.Very often when Master Roshi sees a pretty girl his nose bleeds, Kuririn knows this and fetches Roshi and their friend Bulma, for this eyebrow raising strategy for exposing the Invisible Man (possibly NSFW):

Yamcha attacks and makes short work of his opponent, thanks to Roshi's nosebleed, which brings the tournament to the next level. This is possibly the best setting I have ever seen in a comic:

Yep, there is a toilet paper dispenser.

Why yes, that IS an arena made from two giant statues of demons on toilets touching tongues. Here, Yamucha must do battle with his next spooky foe,

a Mu-Mu-Mu Mummy! The battles from here on out become a little more serious, Yamucha is dispensed with fairly brutally and quickly, leaving the challenge up to Son Goku. Son takes out the Mummy, to everyone's surprise, with ease, as well as his next opponent, the Devil!

What an awesome panel.

The panel above is the Devil using his evil beam, which brings the evil in his opponent's heart out and kills them...too bad for him that Son Goku has no evil in his heart! 

The tournament goes on for one more match but that section, but that section is not as SPOOKY as the ones I decided to share. Dragonball gets a bad rap in America, I think, because of the cartoon show Dragonball Z (which I personally still love). If you have an opportunity, check out the volumes out by Viz comics!

Oh and on a digital comics aside, for more spooky comics fun check out Dracula the Unconquered, by Chris Sims, Josh Krach and Steve Downer. The story is really fun, the art is spectacular, and it is ONE DOLLAR. Check it out:


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Last Week Of October in Superhero Comics

This week I picked up some pretty awesome books, why don't we share them together? EH?

Bachalo really takes his spreads to the next level.

 So the only new 'X' book I have been reading lately is the awesomely epic, always purty to look at Uncanny X-Force, written by Rick Remender (I especially like the ones where Jerome Opena does the art). The recent Schism story by Jason Aaron got a lot of praise, and there was a LOT of hype on the ol web for this title, as well as good word of mouth from a few trusted friends, so I decided to give it a try. The basic premise, is that Wolverine, after his falling out with Cyclops, reopens Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters as The Jean Grey School For Higher Learning. Wolverine is the headmaster, and Kitty Pride is the headmistress, with Professors including Beast, Gambit, Rogue and Iceman (Toad is the janitor!). Wolverine's school is in utter chaos on it's first day, and will probably remain chaotic for some time. Jason Aaron is mixing X-Men with Hogwarts here, and I think its an amazing idea (and fun!Fun is good for comics!). The art by Chris Bachalo is just perfect for the book, fun, chaotic and full of energy and busy cartooning. I also really like the fact that he colors his own pencils. It looks like I will have 2 X books on my plate from here on out. Also,a selection of some funny classes offered at The Jean Grey School :

 World History (1880-1950): An Eyewitness Account, with Headmaster Logan

Sex Ed, with Professor Remy LeBeau (funny cuz it's Gambit)

Ethics 101: Forgetting Everything You Ever Learned From Emma Frost, with Headmistress Pryde

You can REALLY feel that punch.
I mentioned Rick Remender above, who in addition to Uncanny X-Force is also writing Venom. I never in a million years thought I would buy a Venom comic, but Rick Remender and Tony Moore made me do it! Remender is still on writing duties come issue number 8, Tom Fowler does the art now, and he has a meaty inking cartooning style that has really grown on me (see above panel). I really like Fowler's art, and Remender makes venom a compelling and tragic figure, much like Spider-Man, but this Venom has a much less rosy personality than ol' Pete Parker. He is forced to rely on the venom symbiote, he lost his legs while in the military, and he is a recovering alcoholic...AND his Dad just died. This issue is a tie in with the Spider Island event, and Venom is facing off against the Spider Queen.

I really like her posture and facial expressions.

I love how Fowler draws this character...definitely has a Bettie Page thing going on, sexy but not...trashy. I really enjoy this book.

(This is a dream sequence) Look at Buck's face! Outstanding.
As I have blogged before, Captain America and Bucky  is an amazing looking book (and the story ain't half bad, neither!) that I personally don't think is getting enough praise on the ol' internet. Chris Samnee and Bettie Breitweiser are a comics one-two punch, like Cap and Bucky socking the Red Skull in the face! This issue has Bucky and the sidekick to the original Human Torch, Toro, rescuing a spy from an enemy Nazi camp.  The problem is that he is being held in a concentration camp, and the horrors Bucky sees there drives him into a frenzy. I really like the characterization going on here for Buck, it is really evident that while he has just as high a moral code as Cap, he is a lot more bloodthirsty. I am no Captain America expert, but I do not really remember the Holocaust subject being tackled much in the comics, so I find this path an interesting one.
 I DO think the cover is a little tasteless features Bucky is featured behind some barbed wire with other concentration camp captives all beat up and haggard as if he was a prisoner there. That definitely does not happen in the issue! The cover is on the internet, go find it I don't want to post it here. To be honest I found the covers to be the only weak point of Cap and Buck so far.

 Onward for the Marvel books this week! We have Daredevil number 5 from Mark Waid and Marcos Martin, who I have gushed about in previous posts. This book delivers AGAIN. Waid writes some really compelling and ENJOYABLE comics, that can switch from fun to solemn or poignant at the turn of a page. I think it is very impressive. Read some of the word bubbles in the panel below, hilarious stuff:

Marcos Martin is one of he saviors of superhero comic art, I imagine he and Waid are like two smooth jazz guys who have mastered their craft and are just mad experimenting now, taking the rules and bending them to their whims, like the below panel...

Only comics. Only comics. BUY DAREDEVIL if you like good superhero comics and want to support them at their best.

That about does it for the Marvel books this week, let's check in with DC comics, shall we? This week I picked up two DC comics, both #2s, The Flash and Aquaman. Lets take the Flash first...

In this issue the Flash learns to think as fast as he can run by tapping his brain into the 'Speed Force'. Above he is seeing all the possible solutions he could take to foil some robbers and save some innocent bystanders. This sequence is a really interesting few pages. Like Mark Waid and Marcos Martin, I think Franics Manapul and Brian Buccellato are furthering the greatness of superhero comics, keeping what makes them great safe and furthering the form. I also can't help but think Manapul read Daredevil number one by Waid and Rivera and thought 'Hey I can do that too dammit! (which I think is a great thing for comics). He has a lot of fun with the logos and mastheads as well, which is always fun:

 I also bought Aquaman number 2...not much to say about this one. The art but Ivan Reis is outstanding, and the story and characters aren't too bad...but nothing really compels me to share in this space...not sure if I am going to keep up with that one.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To Drop or Not to Drop...

I pick up a lot of comics every month. Currently, just from Marvel and DC, I am reading Animal Man, Action Comics, Batman, Batman and Robin, Batwing, O.M.A.C, Punisher Max, Punisher, Moon Knight, Uncanny X-Force, Venom, Batwoman, Swamp Thing, Captain America and Bucky, Daredevil...and probably a few more. I am also reading the Avengers every month, written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art usually by John Romita Junior. I really enjoyed the book initially, although lately the Fear itself ties ins were losing me, as I don't usually read crossovers. At times the lack of central characters bothered me. I was beginning to feel like the book was too unfocused, and that too many characters were sharing the spotlight in every issue, almost like 20-some pages of cameos every month. I was prepared to drop the book this month.

Then, I saw the cover, which I think is just a great image. I think it captures,visually, what Bendis has been doing with the scripts on The Avengers. Bendis is fleshing out the personalities of the Avengers, with small conversational sections and text interview style pieces, with the team members talking about each other, what was currently happening in the book, and what it meant to each character to be an Avenger. I think these sections are really interesting, and do give the readers a bit more of a connection with some of the characters. Seeing Cap's hands rummaging through a pile of potential Avenger's pictures with his cup of coffee immediately (for me anyway) brings him down to earth and also still conveys him as the leader of The Avengers. I also love the selection of characters on the table (how awesome would it be to have Ghost Rider on the Avengers?!).

The artwork, by Daniel Acuna, sealed the deal for me. This is one awesome/beautiful looking super hero book. I loved every page of this comic, but the page above stood out to me. For the past few issues a romance has been budding between Hawkeye and Spider-Woman, and ex wife of Hawkeye Mockingbird has noticed...

Those three panels of Hawkeye giving Spider-Woman that rouge's smile, then getting caught, is just outstanding. It made me laugh out loud. The issue also sets up a pretty interesting future plot point, utilizing many of the major events that have taken place the last few years in the Marvel universe. This issue has made me decide to keep up with Avengers...I hope it stays this good.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Awesome Art from Recent Comics I Bought

So every now and then I like to share some art I think is awesome from the comics I am buying, this past week there is a lot of New 52 stuff, with some Marvel and a non big two entry. I have a Tumblr mostly for this purpose also, here. Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E, written by Jeff Lemire with art by Alberto Ponticelli, is a title I was not 100% sure about, but I couldn't NOT not buy the above cover, I think that image is superbly done and really funny. The below splash page was also very appealing. I very much enjoy the wonky way Frankenstein's face is drawn in the book.
Animal Man, also written by Jeff Lemire with art by Travel Foreman, is a superbly written book, but the artwork seems a little hit or miss to me. The below spread is definitely not a miss, and will have me back at the shop for issue number three next month...

Batwoman by J.H.Williams III and W. Haden Blackman is another beautiful book, and the art is always top notch and probably the best super hero comics has to offer, but I particularly enjoy the below spread because it takes the viewer through a crime scene in a way only a comic book could do. Bravo.

Speaking of the Bat-verse, the new Batman and Robin book is, in my humblest of opinions, extremely under rated. Pairing Bruce and Damian together makes for compelling comics. Bruce has a long way to go as a father, and this story does not shy away from that. He is cold to Damian sometimes, but you really can tell Batman is trying to be a good Father. Damian is at once sympathetic and chilling, a child torn between the expectations of his Father and his savage upbringing as a killer. There is a gut-wrenching spread I don't want to spoil with Damian in the Bat-cave that was at once very sad and frightening. I am really looking forward to the next issue. Also check out how Patrick Gleason draws Damian...perfect!

I love how intense Damian's face is in the above page...
...perfect. I also picked up the new Shade by James Robinson and Cully Hamner, which was a great book, but none of the panels jumped out at me as ones I needed to share, same with the new Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette.
I still wish I enjoyed Grant Morrison and Rags Morales on Action comics a little more, but I trust Morrison so I'll keep with it, I really liked the below panel, especially the thin ink lines.

Also the cape panel is outstanding. Really fun/hilarious stuff here.

As for Marvel I picked up Uncanny X-Force number 16, Venom number 7, and the Newest Punisher Max by Jason Aaron and Steve Dillion. I LOVE Punisher Max, but this week's issue had so many surprises and twists, that it is risky posting a pic I will make due with this over the top scene of carnage:

I also had the chance to pick up The Death Ray by Dan Clowes, and boy is it a sharp looking book...too big to scan though...

And that is that!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Manapul and Martin: Keepin' it Real in Superhero comics

Of the glut of DC new fiddy twos, another book I really enjoyed was the new Flash, with art by Francis Manapul (full credits above). I've never read a Flash comic before, and what Manapul is doing with the page layouts here is spectacular. I love this title page spread, using the letter shapes to introduce us to The Flash, and continues telling the story!

I love that page, it is probably my favorite opening spread I've seen in the New 52. Also for superhero comics I think that the blurb in the upper right corner explaining the Flash's origin is just perfect, and wish more comics and comic book movies would skip the lengthy origin and just jump right into the story! The artwork and page layouts are definitely the best part of this new issue of Flash, the story is enjoyable to read and develops some interesting starting conflicts, but these layouts are what is going to get me back to the comic shop to get the next issue. Pages like these are exhibiting storytelling techniques that only comics can do, and I love it. The below page is also a pretty sweet one,

and reminded me of another similar page in the recently collected 'The Amazing Spider Man Spidey Sunday Spectacular' by Marcos Martin and Stan Lee, which was one of my favorite comics purchases in quite some time. The 1st story is comprised of 2 page chapters that use the format extremely well.

Marcos Martin is a powerhouse, his is a world of classic superheroes transported to the here and now. There is a lightness and joy to how he draws superheroes and their world, his is a perfect blend of illustration and cartooning, and the story by Stan Lee here is really snappy and funny, I had a blast reading these. Lee is doing what he does best, that wiseacre banter, corny humor, and interesting, perfect word choice (Stan Lee's thesaurus must be pretty damn dog eared, if he even needs it anymore). There are so many funny moments and details in these Spidey stories, and the number of Marvel characters that appear is staggering, and it all works! One of my favorite examples is when Spidey visits Reed Richards (or Mr. Fantastic) for advice on a project. This could have been just a few panels of talking heads, but look what Martin puts in the background to spice up the story (also this could have been a direction in Lee's script):

I love little touches like these. Artists like Manapul and Martin are Pushing the envelope, and using actual cartooning to help their comics move, and keep lively, not be too bogged down by photo reference, filters and too many word bubbles. The recent Daredevil also yields a spectacular spread. Enjoy:

We need artists like these to continue to push the envelope, mixing old with new, to create some dope comics.