Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stuff I Wanna Read (Dec 2009 - Part II)

I went to my LCS yesterday looking for the books I wrote about. I didn't walk away empty-handed but I didn't buy any collections from any of the three series I wrote about, even though they had some of them.

Today, reading through CSBG's Top 100 Comic Book Storylines thread.It occurs to me that I haven't read much in the way of Spider-Man comics books. He is one of the best known superheroes. I really need to read some.

There are two story lines that stand out:

Kraven's Last Hunt - wikipedia -
The Death of Gwen Stacy - wikipedia -

I think I read the Death of Gwen Stacy back in the day, before there were trade paperbacks. I know that there's more Spider-man stories worth reading. Somehow, someday I want to read Steve Ditko's run on the book.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Stuff I Wanna Read (Dec 2009)

Sometimes you feel an itch and you should scratch it. There are certain books that I read about, hear about, from time to time, and think about trying but have yet to take the plunge on. Here are three from DC that have been on my mind from time to time. I may have even mentioned them in this blog before. I really need to get my LCS to order me v1 of each of these series if they don't have them in stock.

Jonah Hex - I listened to the recently John Siuntres' re-released interview of Jonah Hex writer Jimmy Palmiotti. He talked about more than Hex in the interview but that irrelevant. What matters is that it got me thinking about reading this series again.

Secret Six - This looks like one of those offbeat series that kinda breaks the mold or at least doesn't conform to the typical superhero team script. I want to at least try it.

Booster Gold - Time travel. I don't have to say anything else. Time Travel is more than enough to get me interested. But maybe I'll press my luck and say that the little blurb's that DC puts out when it solicits each issue also has be salivating. It sounds like a really cool little book. I could be way off base and way wrong here but my gut is talking and I think I should listen.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What I Bought - Nov 27, 2009

I went to a Black Friday comic book sale today at Cards Comics & Collectibles in Reisterstown, MD. It was a bit of a drive. It took me an hour to get there and another hour to get back, but the traffic wasn't bad at all and the discounts made it worth my while, even if I didn't spend as much as some of the other customers; the guy in line in front of me spent about $240. Me? I spent just $28.60.

The Good - I found some manga volumes that I've been wanting to read but that they don't carry at Barbarian. The discount on manga, trades, and hardcovers (for this weekend) is 50%.

The Bad - The selection of back issues wasn't bad but the prices seemed high. Even with a 70% discount it wasn't like you could get many comics for $10 or $20. There were no quarter, fifty-cent, or dollar bins. I wasn't too wild about the layout of the store. It is very boxy, spartan, utilitarian and didn't seem to have much character.

What I bought...

Ooku v1 - link - been wanting to try this for a while. I asked the guys at Barbarian to order it for me but they seem to have trouble getting manga after it is initially released. They told me to try elsewhere so I was very happy to find it today.

What's it about? From what I understand the series in set in Japan 400 years in the past, but an alternate past. A plague has wiped out 75% of the men in Japan. Women have taken over the leadership roles. That's about all I know at this point. I think the main character is a man who is part of the ooku, or the shogun's harem.

Ikigami v2 - link - I liked the first volume enough (it wasn't perfect) but there was enough there for me to give the second one a try.

What's it about? In order to instill fear in the population the Japanese government institute a policy of randomly killing off a very small number of people. The chosen ones are killed by a time-released poison which the victims were injected with when they were much younger. All citizens receive the injections but only a select few contain the poison. Sometime between the ages of 18 and 25 the people who have received the poisons will die. The process is regulated to the degree that the government knows exactly when people will succumb to the poison (which stops the heart instantaneously) and provide them with 24 hours notice. Each volume in this series contains two stories, each one about a victim both before and after they learn they are about to die. I'm not sure how exactly to classify the series but it certainly has elements of sciece fiction and psychological horror.

Oishinbo: Ramen & Gyoza - link - first food manga I've bought in a long while. I don't think that they are planning on translating the entirety of this series. It began in 1983 and is still running today. It also looks like they aren't going to try to number the volumes that they are translating. I couldn't tell which was the first one so I just grabbed this one since I am interested in learning more about ramen.

What's it about? According to the blurb on the jacket it is about the quest for the ultimate meal. Cooks going all out to perfect their craft, I guess.

Pax Romana - link - This mini-series has a cool sounding premise. I'm eager to see how it pans out. This book doesn't look or feel like most comic books but the idea behind it (which involves time travel) is something that one often finds in comic books.

What's it about? The Pope and/or the Vatican send(s) troops back in time (312 CE) to change the present.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What I Read - October 26, 2009

Its been a little too long since I last wrote about what I've been reading and I don't have the time to go into details right now.

I'd love to write about Watchmen (by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons) which I think was brilliant, even if the ending was a bit underwhelming. The combination of the words and pictures was just amazing. Things that I thought were going to be predictable weren't. Some of the scenes were quite moving and had me blinking back tears as I read it in public. I have no interest in seeing the movie but I do want to get the absolute edition.

I'd also like to write about The Spectre v1 (by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake) which was unsurprisingly (to me) a very good read; unsurprising to me because I enjoyed their work on Grimjack and Firestorm back in the late 80s and early 90s. I hoped for the best but I was worried, before reading it, that it wouldn't measure up to my memories of those other series. Best thing I ever read? No, but it had some choice moments and artwork that really pulled me and made me want more. Sadly, this is the only collection of Ostrander and Mandrake's 60-issue run on the title.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What I Bought - September 26, 2009

The first stop on my end-of-September comic book buying spree was Barbarian. I was there to pick up three items that I had asked them to order for me a couple weeks earlier. Two of the three had arrived:
  • Daredevil: Lady Bullseye - next-to-last collection of Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark's run.
  • Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit v1
I also bought an item that I had been thinking about buying for the past few months. It was expensive but it was also on sale, 20% off:
  • The X-Men Omnibus v1 - collects X-Men # 1 - 31
I spent a total of $113.39.

My next stop was the Wheaton Library Book Sale. I was there primarily to look for books but I also browsed the two or three shelves that they have dedicated to cartoons and comic books. I found a couple items of interest, each of which only cost me $1:
  • Blue Monday v4 - link - I'm in the midst of reading v3 and I don't usually buy ahead like this but it was inexpensive and I think there's a reasonably good chance that I will want to read it after I finish v3.
  • Rex Libris: I, Librarian - link - This series has caught my eye a number of times over the years in the Previews catalogs. The price was right so I decided to take a chance on it.
My third and final stop was the Small Press Expo. It had been quite some time since I last went to one of these. They used to hold them in downtown Bethesda but this year's event (which continues today, although I won't be going back because I've got other stuff to do) was in North Bethesda near the White Flint Metro Station.

It was $10 to get in but that's nothing compared to what you pay to get into some of the big shows, like the Baltimore Comicon.

I meant to sit in on a panel or two but I ended up spending all my time at the expo browsing the exhibitor booths looking for things to buy. I originally intended to buy stuff from a couple of creators that I know from their web comics, Diesel Sweeties and Octopus Pie. Business seemed to be brisk for them, besides which for the most part all they had for sale were collections of their web comics. There was lots of other creators with other stuff for sale, some of which I had heard of on various comic book podcasts.

I made my first purchases at the Oni Press booth based on recommendations that I heard on the Dollar Bin podcast:
  • Crogan's Vengeance - link
  • Black Metal - link
I like Oni quite a bit. They've published a number of series I've read including Queen & Country, Blue Monday, and Love Fights.

I did a lot of walking around. At first I moved quickly to get a feel for what was there. The floor was fairly crowded. Some booths had more people crowded around them than others.

The Fantagraphics booth had some very beautiful looking reprints of old work that certainly caught my eye (Prince Valiant v1: 1937-38; Blazing Combat) even though I decided not to buy either of them just yet.

The guys on 11 O'Clock Comics have talked about Jeff Lemire's comics lately and I stopped by the Top Shelf booth to get an idea of what it is the 11 O'Clockers see in his work. I flipped through Essex County Tales. I wanted to flip through The Nobody but they had that wrapped in plastic. I wasn't ready to buy a 500 page book by a creator that I am unfamiliar with so I kept my $30 and kept looking elsewhere.

One of my goals in going to SPX was to find new comic books by people that I had not heard of before. The books at Just Mad Books' booth caught my eye the first time I walked past. On my 2nd, 3rd, or possibly 4th time around the floor I finally stopped to take a closer work. I couldn't figure out what it was (until just now) but something felt familiar about the look of creator Justin Madson's artwork. I'm thinking now that his artwork reminds me of Guy Davis work, at least on Nevermen.

I asked him about the books he had on display, Breathers # 1 - 4. I was really liking the artwork and wanted to know what kind of story there was to back it up. What he pitched to me was a story about a world in which the air is no longer breathable. People have to wear gas masks most of the time, at least when they are outdoors. It made me think dystopian future which in turn made me think of Y: The Last Man and Walking Dead. I bought the first two issues, which cost $5 each. He said he was planning to wrap up the series with # 5.

Walking around the con floor I saw a number of things that didn't appeal to me. I wanted to spend my money on books and stories. I wasn't interested in buying artwork, no matter how pretty, if it didn't have a story attached to it. There were also a few tables/booths that seemed to showcase topics (farts, politics) that just did not appeal to me.

After leaving the Just Mad Books table and walking around a little more I had yet to buy any mini-comics even though I wanted to. I finally stopped in front of the Last Dollar Comics table. I took a quick flip through some of creator Jim8Ball's comics. I liked what I saw. He was asking for $1 per mini-comic. I was trying to decided which ones to buy when I noticed that he also had a box full of mini-comics available: 25 mini-comics for $10. Seemed like a pretty good deal, given the price per comic and the fact that I liked the look of his work.

I made my final purchase at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) booth. They had a number of very good looking books (including some by Will Eisner) available at very reasonable prices. I was tempted to pick up a book or two by Eisner but bought something else instead. I bought a non-comic book which only cost me $10:
  • Reading Comics by Douglas Wolk
I looked around a little more but I had spent more than $65 at this point and I needed to get going.

Altogether I spent about $190 yesterday. It blows my mind. I now have a fairly large stack of books to read. I need to lay off buying more comics until I have made a significant dent in my current pile.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Next weekend is SPX, the Small Press Expo. I'm going to try to go for at least a couple hours. Two of my favorite web cartoonists are going to be there, R Stevens (Diesel Sweeties) and Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie). Its been a few years since I last went to SPX. I might even stay for a panel or two.

The following weekend I'm hoping to have time to stop by the Capital Associates Convention in Dunn Loring on Oct 4. I still haven't finished reading all the comic books that I bought at the last Capicon but it was fun browsing through the back issue bins. Who knows what I might find.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What I Read - September 12, 2009

Watchmen continues to amaze me. I've now read 9 of 12 chapters. I'm tempted to call it the best comic book I've ever read; tempted. It definitely makes the short list. It works on so many different levels. I love how the text pieces at the end of each chapter help to fill in the back story. I also like how each chapter tells a story. Some are better than others. There have been some chapters that have left less excited to read on than others. Chapter 8 was like that. It was a little more diffuse than other chapters like 7 and 9, for instance.

As I get closer to the ending I'm hoping it will live up to the what I've read so far. I've heard mixed things about the ending. Regardless, I think this is one book that I will be re-reading in the next year or two.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I Bought - September 12, 2009

I just made a list. I think I've got too many comic books that I have yet to read; and I went to Barbarian and the Wheaton Library Book Sale this afternoon. I kinda of splurged at Barbarian where I bought...
  • Sleeper: Season 1 - Written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Sean Phillips. Collects the entire first series (12 issues). I've heard so much good stuff about this series. I'm enjoying Brubaker's run on Daredevil and I've heard that this is better.
  • The Spectre v1 - Written by John Ostrander and drawn by Tom Mandrake. Collects # 1 - 4 of the series which dates back to the early to mid-90s. I loved this creative team's work on Firestorm in the late-80s. Once again, I've heard good things about this series which ran for over 60 issues. The book was a little beat up so they gave me 35% off the cover price of $9.95.
  • Six From Sirius - Written by Doug Moench and drawn/painted by Paul Gulacy. This isn't new. It was originally a mini-series published through Marvel's Epic line in the early 1980s. Never read it before but it looked interesting and they were selling it for cover price $8.95.
  • Bleach v25 - Written and drawn by Kubo Tite. So far I'm not wild about the current story arc but I still bought the next book in the series. I may put down this series for a while after finishing this volume. Its probably about time I took a break from it. Maybe I'll give Naruto a try instead
  • 20th Century Boys v4 - Written and drawn by Naoki Urasawa. I have yet to read v3 but the first two volumes were really good. The stage is still being set. I'm eager to see how things unfold.
I also asked them to order a few books for me...
  • Daredevil: Lady Bullseye - written by Ed Brubaker and Greg
  • Ooko v1
  • Ikigami v1
I wrote about Ooku and Ikigami a few weeks ago.


Since I was in the neighborhood I decided to drop by the Wheaton Library Book Sale. The only thing I found of interest was an old copy of Jules Feiffer's The Great Comic Book Heroes. Originally published in 1965, it reprints a bunch of golden age comic book stories, along with a longish introduction by Feiffer. They were only asking $2.00 for this beatup, hard-bound collection and I couldn't resist it at that price. The reprints aren't the best quality but I'm not too picky when I feel as I have found a steal.

Links: Sleeper - Spectre - Bleach - 20th Century Boys

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stuff I Wanna Read (viii)

Here are a couple manga series that I read about in Danielle Leigh's Reading Diary and would now like to read myself:

Ooku: The Inner Chambers - Y: the Last Samurai? Kind of... a plague has wiped out most of the men of Japan. This is about what happens afterwords. [Review, Wikipedia]

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit - Described as Death Note (which never appealed to me) for adults. [Review,]

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What I Bought - August 29, 2009

I went to the Wheaton Public Library Book Sale today looking for books and came back with one comic book and one comic book-related book:

Blue Monday v3: Inbetween Days - Its a former library book. Its got library stickers all over the outside but it was dirt cheap at just $1 and its in fairly good shape. I enjoyed the first two collections of Blue Monday and I'm ready for more.

Comics & Sequential Art by Will Eisner - I was shocked and amazed that I found this and that all they wanted for it was $1.50. Had to buy it must read it.

Wikipedia: Blue Monday - Comics & Sequential Art

What I Read - Week of August 24, 2009

Watchmen - The further I get into this story the more I think about buying the Absolute edition.

I've been limiting myself to one chapter a week. At first I didn't feel the urge to keep reading. That's not the case anymore. For the past three weeks now, after finishing chapters 5, 6, and 7, I've felt the urge to keep reading. At the same time I don't want the story to end. Eventually it will. I've got just five chapters left to read. In my mind the best way to savor what's left is to continue to read just one chapter per week.

I read chapter 7 this week and it was great, better than I thought it would be at first. I thought I knew how and where it was going, and on one level I was right but I didn't know it all. I thought this chapter was going to boil down to nerd-gets-the-girl. On one level that is what happened but the chapter is much richer than that. It was the last few pages that proved me wrong. It wasn't until I had read it all and then flipped back through the last few pages that it all sunk in and then I felt myself starting to tear up.

I blinked back the tears because I was at the laundromat waiting for my clothes to finish drying and I didn't want to attract attention. Still, I got a little choked up. The funny thing is I'm not sure exactly why, which makes the experience that much more precious. I think it may have something to do with Dan's devotion to his job and his fellow superheroes.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised by how good this story is or how much I am enjoying it. After all, it was written by Alan Moore .

Wednesday Comics - I bought the first 4 issues last weekend. I've only read #1 and just started reading # 2. For the most part I am very impressed. The art on the first installment of Sgt. Rock was gorgeous. I was also quite pleased with the look of Deadman and Hawkman. I'm surprised by how quickly the Superman story hooked me.

Superman: The Bottle City of Kandor - The dialogue in these stories is enough to make me groan. Its amazing how much of it is used for exposition, to explain what you can already see on the page. Setting this fact aside, I love how silly these stories can be:
  • Superman has a distant cousin, Van-Zee, in Kandor who not only looks exactly like him, but also has a twin brother, Dik-Zee, who Lois Lane falls in love with while she is stuck in Kandor (Superman's Girl Friend,Lois Lane # 21)
  • Jimmy Olsen (while stuck in Kandor) has his memory wiped of Lucy Lane, similar to but decades before Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen # 53)
  • Renegade Kandorians using Green Kryptonite on Superman, like they shouldn't be affected by it (Superman # 158)
In part I think that it is the silliness of these stories that keeps my interest. It also maybe a bit of nostalgia. Most of the comics in this collection were released before I was born but I read either these or many like them (especially Jimmy Olsen comics) when I was growing up.


Wikipedia: Watchmen - Wednesday Comics - Kandor

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nostalgia - Star Wars # 7, 8, 9

I got to thinking about the first comic books I ever owned. Well, they weren't just mine; my mother bought them for my brother and I. My first comic books were Star Wars #7, 8, 9. Mom bought them at the PX in the American Embassy in Paris, where we were living at the time. They were bagged together in a plastic bag.

We're talking Star Wars so this was probably 1978, judging by the publication dates, or possibly 1979. While I loved the original trilogy of movies I never really read much of the Star Wars comic books after these three. I've tried reading the Star Wars comics from Dark Horse a few times but it just doesn't appeal to me in the way that the movies did.

What I Bought - August 22, 2009

I made a trip to Barbarian Books today. I wanted to pick up Bleach v24 and 20th Century Boys v4. I found Bleach v24 but they didn't have v4 of 20th Century Boys. They checked for me and it looks like it won't be out until next month. Its a great series and that keeps me reading but also hearing it discussed on podcasts, namely Crankcast (week 198) and 11 O'Clock Comics (episode 58), makes me want to keep as current as possible so that I don't have it spoiled for me by one of my favorite shows.

In addition to Bleach I also picked up the first four issues of Wednesday Comics. Cover price for each one was $3.99. I got a 10% discount but they still cost me $15.36, before adding tax. I dunno what I was thinking, spending that much on individual issues. I've heard a lot of great things about this short-lived series and wanted to experience it for myself. It looks like the sort of thing that won't be the same in trade paperback format. Its like a newspaper. Each page is from a different series. The great part is that the stories feature more than just a-list characters, like Batman and Wonder Woman, but also include b-list characters such as Kamandi, Metamorpho, Sgt. Rock, and Deadman.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What I Read - Week of August 10, 2009

Watchmen - Chapter 5 - Last week I wrote about how I should take my time and savor each chapter of Watchmen. This week I showed that I have zero discipline. I read all of chapter 5 in one fell swoop. I loved how all the different story lines were laid one atop the other the newsstand, Tales of the Black Freighter, Rorschach, Dan and Laurie, Ozymandias. It very different from chapter 4, in which Dr. Manhattan was the focus. The text piece at the end of chapter 5 about the fictional rise of pirate comic books in the 50s and 60s, which Tales of the Black Freighter was part of, was great. The whole chapter was great, possibly my favorite so far. It was like mainlining crack. I just couldn't stop reading.

I definitely wanna buy the Absolute Edition of this book but I'll probably wait a couple years before doing so.

Phantom Stranger # 21, 22 - Not great but they were fun to read. I didn't bother with the back up stories. I was most interested in the Jim Aparo art, sappy dialogue, and half-baked plot.

Superman: The Bottle City of Kandor - Started to read it last night. The first story (from Action Comics # 242) has some great moments. Loved the art work by Al Plastino, especially some of the facial expressions. Loved how silly and simple some of the science is. Both Kandor and Brainiac make their first appearance in Action Comics # 242. I bought the collection because I love those old Superman and Superman family stories from the 1950s and 60s.

I finished reading the story after having dinner at Mark's Kitchen. The waiter ribbed me for reading Superman. He even went as far as to ask the manager if I would get a Superman discount. I did my best to grin and bear it and ignore his silliness.

20th Century Boys v2 - link - This collection is vindicating my faith in Naoki Urasawa. I can see the story is going to be a slow burn and take its time to develop but I like the direction the story is going in and more importantly I like most of the characters. I like the art too. I especially enjoy looking to see the expression on Kanna's face when she does appear. Quite often I have to go back to look for it because she's in the background and I skip right over her. Kanna is Kenji's niece whom he carries around on his back.

Carl Barks' Greatest Ducktales Stories v2 - link - Another fun read. A nice change of pace but I wouldn't want to read stories of Uncle Scrooge, Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie all the time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stuff I Wanna Read (vii)

A while back I mentioned that I wanted to read Ed Brubaker's (still ongoing) run on Captain America. Well, I'm also interested in reading some previous runs of Captain America...

Silver Age Captain America - Collected in four volumes of Marvel Masterworks. I've got the Essentials v1 but I would prefer to read them in color. Classic stories that introduce classic villains and organizations such as M.O.D.O.K. and A.I.M. The last volume includes the first appearance of the Falcon. The second volume seems to be currently out of print.

Jack Kirby's return to Captain America - collected in three volumes: Madbomb, Bicentennial Battles, The Swine.

The Invaders - link - Tales of Cap and other superheroes (Sub-Mariner, Original Human Torch, Union Jack, Spitfire, etc.) fighting the Nazis. I read and collected some of this series back in the early 80s. There are currently three collections: v1, v2, v3.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What I Read - Watchmen

Watchmen - link - Don't think I've blogged about Watchmen before. I started reading it a few weeks ago. I'm reading a chapter a week. I'm up to chapter 4. Its my first time reading it and so far I think its great. I love how there is a big story and then each issue seems to be its own story and even have stories within the story for that issue.

What struck me today is how fast I read the first three chapters. I've been taking it with me to the laundromat. While my clothes are in the washer and then the dryer I would read the comic book pages. I've been reading the prose pages later the same day.

As I indicated I love the story and the artwork, too. I'm starting to feel as if I am rushing myself through the comic book pages. I should be savoring it more. To that end I only read the first half of chapter 4 at the laundromat. I'll probably finish it later today and maybe read the prose section tomorrow.

Reading a story too quickly, whether prose or comic book, does an injustice to the writer/artist. In my book it is comparable to gulping down fine cuisine. Both should be savored. Even if I can't appreciate it all at first glance I believe that by reading it slowly, re-reading it, and spending time thinking about what I've read before moving on to the next chapter I believe that I will gain greater insight and appreciation.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dunn Loring Comicon 809

I went to a small comic book convention in Dunn Loring today.

I wasn't looking for anything in particular. I didn't want to spend much money so I stuck to the discount bins. I looked through a lotta 1/2 price trade paperbacks without buying any. I did pick up a dozen comic books mostly from the early-70s to early-80s.

Phantom Stranger # 21, 22, 23, 24 - I love the the cover and interior art by Jim Aparo on all four of these. It's funny but I never noticed it before now but looking at the cover and some of the interior art of PS # 21 made think of Mike Zeck's art work.

House of Mystery
# 290, 307, 308 - While HOM was normally an anthology book but all of these issues include part of the ongoing I...Vampire story. My interest in this series was piqued by this blog posting. The art on the covers by Joe Kubert are much more to my tastes than the interior art.

Showcase # 104 - This was the only comic that I found in the many boxes that I went through with a WWII story. Its the final issue of this anthology series which normally didn't feature war stories. Once again a beautiful Joe Kubert cover but alas no Kubert art on the inside.

Hopeless Savages: Ground Zero # 1, 2, 3, 4 - I thought this was the first but it looks like its the second Hopeless Savages mini-series. Alas. I'll read it anyway. I almost didn't buy it because it has been collected in a trade but it was so low priced that I couldn't resist.

So in all I got 12 comics for $8. Good deal. Even if the comics aren't great reads I had fun looking through the back issue bins.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nostalgia - Comic Books Subscriptions - Part 2

In addition to Cap the other series I had a subscription to was X-Men.

Uncanny X-Men - Phoenix was dead, had been for about a year, and Uncanny X-Men was definitely the book that everyone reading comic books seemed to be talking about. I am sure that was due in part to the beautiful job John Byrne and Terry Austin were doing illustrating the series. By the time I started collecting Byrne and Austin were gone. Chris Claremont was still writing and Dave Cockrum was back penciling the series.

At first I was disappointed but the quality of the stories soon picked up. The first couple issues weren't great.

#152 - I can't remember what this one was all about. On the cover Storm is fighting Emma Frost. Presumably that also happened in the issue but I can't remember what else.

# 153 - One-shot. Kitty has a dream or tells a story à la 1001 nights. I don't think I was spectacularly impressed by this issue. Not bad but not what I wanted.

# 154 & 155 - This is where it started to get better. Cyclops' father, Corsair, returns from outer space. He is being pursued by aliens. Colossus seemingly gets killed during the fight with the aliens but he back on the cover a few issues later. I can't remember how he is saved but I think it might have been by some of the Corsair's alien buddies, the Starjammers.

# 156 & 157 - More Starjammers plus the Shi'ar. The X-Men leave earth temporarily. Warbird, Lilandra's sister is their primary foe.

# 158 - Rogue is on the cover but from what I gather she was still a villain at this point and it would be more than I year before she would join the team.

# 159 - Dracula attempts to turn Storm into his consort. Of course he was ultimately unsuccesful. I remember this issue because it marked the first time I learned that holy symbols like crosses only could affect Dracula if the bearer believed. Overall a pretty good story from what I recall

# 160 - Colossus' sister Illyana is kidnapped by a demon, Belasco. Magic wasn't exactly what I was hoping to read about in X-Men but I think I enjoyed this issue. Especially cool was how Illyana was only gone for a few moments out of the X-Men's lives but years passed for her and she came back a teenager.

# 161 - Probably my favorite single issue from this run. A one-shot story about the past. Professor X and Magneto team up to fight Baron Stucker.

# 162 & 163 - The X-Men return to outer space and fight the Brood. These two issues are just the beginning of a story that ran through issue 167.

I was hooked at this point. I continued to collect and read Uncanny X-Men for a couple more years. Not sure why I ultimately dropped it. My favorite multi-part story following the Brood story was probably the one featuring the Morlocks. After that the title languished a bit. I've tried a couple times but never been able to get myself to read much following the early 180s. I still enjoy going back to read these stories and hope that one day they will be available in a Marvel Masterworks colleciton.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nostalgia - Comic Book Subscriptions

I should start calling this blog 'Inspired by Podcasts', because that's where I seem to get most of my ideas. This post was inspired by the very first episode of Bullpen Bulletins; I started listening to it earlier this evening.

When I was 9 or 10, or possibly a little older, my mother bought subscriptions for my brother and I to a couple comic books. There were four subscriptions in all. I believe two were my and two were my brother's. I don't think we had all four at the same time. I think we had two and then when those ran out we got another two.

One of my picks was Captain America. The issues I received were # 265 - 276. Not all great issues. Some better than others. My subscription began with a two-parter that guest-starred Spider-Man and Nick Fury. After that it sorta went downhill after that until Nick Fury returned, this time with the Howling Commandos. Together Cap and Fury battled Baron Stucker and Hydra, although if I remember correctly Baron Strucker turned out to be a robot. The real Baron Stucker had been killed years before.

In between the two appearances by Nick Fury were some unmemorable tales that included fighting lame villains like Everyman and Mr. X, and fighting alongside new creations like Team America and old ones like The Defenders.

That's it for now. I'll try to remember to write about the other three subscriptions in the near future.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What I Bought - July 18

I made the monthly trek to Barbarian Books today. I wasn't planning on buying a lot. I ended up spending more than $50, which is well within my monthly budget but more than I thought I would.

20th Century Boys v2 & v3 - link - I'm not completely sold on the series yet but I decided to take a chance and buy the next two books at the same time based on how I felt about writer/artist Naoki Urasawa's previous series, Monster.

Superman: The Bottle City of Kandor - link - which is a collection of stories from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s about the Kryptonian city of Kandor. I may have read one or two of these before but I couldn't resist.

Carl Bark's Greatest Duck Tales Stories v2 - link - Uncle Scrooge stories from the 1950s and 60s. Hard to resist. I recall reading some of these kinds of stories before I really got into reading comic books. I would usually find them at the barber shop. When I was in my teens I sometimes watched the Duck Tales animated tv series. This collection is of comic book stories that were made into episodes of the tv series. I would have bought v1 if they had it but they didn't.

Stuff I Wanna Read (vi)

More stuff that came to mind while listening to an interview of Guy Davis from Heroes Con 2009.

Mage - link - Written and drawn by Matt Wagner there is nothing to connect it to Guy Davis other than the fact that he mentioned reading it during the interview. Where to begin? The Hero Discovered

Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules - link - I remember this getting a lot of press at the time it was released. Haven't heard much about it since then but learning recently that it was drawn by Guy Davis makes me want to read it. From the description it sounds like an Elseworlds or alternate history of the FF. That intrigues me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stuff I wanna read (v)

B.P.R.D. - link - I've never had too much interest in reading Hell Boy (or is it Hellboy?) but for some reason B.P.R.D calls to me. Maybe it's the art by Guy Davis, although he didn't draw all the BPRD minis. Where to begin? Hollow Earth and Other Stories

Casanova - link - Supposed to be really weird. Where to begin? Luxuria

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What I wanna read iv

More stuff...

Grimjack - link - I've read some of Grimjack. I started reading it during my sophomore year of college; the series was near the end of its run but it was still a solid read. My interest in rereading this series was brought to the surface by the Wordballoon interview with Grimjack co-creator and writer John Ostrander. Where to begin? The Legends of Grimjack v1

Bone - link - Sounds great. I've never even tried it. This series was most recently brought to my attention by the podcast of a panel from Heroes Con with writer/artist Jeff Smith. It has been printed in black-and-white and in color, although it was originally released in black-and-white. I think I would rather try it in b/w. Where to begin? Out from Boneville.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What I Read - Powers, Starman

Powers v10: Cosmic - SPOILERS >>> A power (person with superhuman abilities) gets killed by another power. Walker and Pilgrim investigate only to get pulled off the case by the FBI. Turns out the power who was killed was the human agent of the Millenium Guard (think Green Lantern Corps of the Powers universe). Walker gets tapped by the Millenium Guard to replace the dead man as the protector of Earth. Meanwhile Deena is being investigated by Internal Affairs and trying to deal with the her new powers. <<<

I liked both Christian's and Deena's story arcs. Both are dealing with having powers. He used to have them, she's never had them. How do they cope? Her story arc is a little more developed and actually began in the last collection.

I enjoyed this collection but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who hadn't read Powers before. Its an in-between-er arc. There are developments but it feels like everything here is building to something bigger that's coming down the line. There are some great moments, great sequential art by Mike Avon Oeming, and great dialogue by Brian Michael Bendis but once again this feels like the 2nd or 3rd act of a 5 act play. Things develop but nothing substantial gets resolved.

Starman Omnibus v1 - I wrote about Starman before, but that was when I was halfway through the book. I finished it off several months ago but have not written about it since. The short of it is that I wasn't wild about it. There wasn't any single aspect of the story that I really liked, that would keep me coming back for more. It had its moments but on the whole it came up short and didn't impress me.

On iFanboy Booksplode # 1 (released about 1 week ago) Josh, Connor, Paul, and Sonia discussed volume 1 of this often praised series. I listened to it in the hopes that it would spark my interest in the book and nudge me closer to picking up the second volume. Instead, for the most part, it only reminded me of the parts that I didn't like and that I feel that it is overrated. I finished the program feeling the same way about Starman as I did after reading v1: it wasn't bad but it also wasn't something that I felt the urge to read more of.

I've read the first 17 chapters in this series. It didn't hook me or pique my interest enough to want to know what comes next. Its time to move on and read something else. That said I just learned that the guys at Around Comics also recorded a podcast about Starman Omnibus v1, episode # 191. Because so many people think this is a great series and because I like to hear different POVs on the same topic I will probably be listening to their discussion of Starman soon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What I wanna read iii

More stuff that I wanna read...

Series of Miniseries

Fear Agent - link - This is supposed to be Rick Remender's great indie title. Where to begin? Re-ignition.

Astro City - link - No particular reasons. I've just heard good things about it. Where to begin? Life in the Big City.

What I'm Reading Now

Two chapters into Kingdom Come and I'm not so sure about where this is headed. I like the grand scale but sometimes it seems like there's too much in the story and not enough focus. Also the sequential story-telling isn't as good as I expect it to be in a story is spoken of with such reverence. That said there are still some great moments here, to go along with the ones that just make me shake my head.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What I'm Reading Now

Kingdom Come - link - This is supposed to be one of the great comic book mini-series of the past couple decades, or so I have been led to believe. I've seen plenty of his artwork all over the internet but I believe that this may be the Alex Ross-drawn story that I have ever read.

I'm one chapter in. So far I like. At first I was concerned with knowing who all the characters were but as I've gotten into the story I've lost that urge. Its enough for me to just get the general gist of the story and enjoy it for what it is. I like how the main character isn't a superhero but an ordinary human. The painted look and feel of the book work for me, in large part because of the scale and apocryphal tone of the story.

Mixed Vegetables v1 - link - a shoujo manga, about Hanayu who comes from a family of pastry chefs and wants to marry Hayato (one of her classmates) who comes from a family of sushi chefs. What drew me to this manga initially was the cooking angle of it. I knew about the romance but that was secondary in my mind and I thought it was going to be secondary in the story. Wrong.

Hanayu's determination to get Hayato to propose (they are only classmates at the beginning of the story) was a bit annoying, at first, probably because it made her seem one dimensional. When she panicked after he asked her out in menu (chapter) 2 it made her seem more real and I started to enjoy the story more. I did like the humor from the get go. I'm only three chapters in but I like. Hopefully the rest of this book will be as good as the first three chapters, or better.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What I Wanna Read ii

More stuff that I wanna read...

Limited Series

I've read parts of both these stories. Neither of these are ongoing although one of them does star one of the most popular comic book characters ever.

Batman: Death and the Maidens - link - I bought the first issue of this nine-issue mini-series, when it first came out. At the time I was looking to cut back on my comic book buying and didn't buy any more issues for that reason. Since then I have heard a lot of good things about it. Most recently it was brought to my attention during the recent Wordballoon interview with writer Greg Rucka. I don't read a whole lotta Batman comics but this one sounds like it would be worth my time, primarily because of who wrote it and my past experience (Queen & Country; Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood) with his comic books.

Rocketo - link - I've got the first few issues of this series. I love the style employed by the artist. Some of his creations leave me stunned by their beauty and the amount of creativity they show. Its kind of how I feel when I read China Mieville's novels. That's not to say that the two are comparable just that they are both very creative. So far there are only two collections but hopefully one day there will be more.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What I Wanna Read

Just for my own reference, and because I am thinking about it and have the time right now, here are some trades/series that I would like to read and have heard good things about but have yet to dive into:

Ongoing Series

DC Comics
  • Booster Gold - link - time travel, need I say more? - where to begin? 52-Pickup
  • Secret Six - link - it just sounds cool, ok? where to begin? Villains United

Marvel Comics

  • Captain America - link - Ed Brubaker's run of course; I read the first two trades some time ago but dropped it not realizing how big the story was going to get; should give it another try; where to begin? Captain America Omnibus

  • Scalped - link - where to begin? Indian Country
  • Ex Machina - link - I thought Y: The Last Man was great so why not give Brian K another try? where to begin? The First Hundred Days
  • Fables - link - sounds like can't miss comics; where to begin? Legends in Exile

There may be others series that aren't coming to mind right now. I also have a list of limited series or runs within (and across) ongoing series but I'll get to those later. That's it for now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Nightly News

The Nightly News is getting better. I'm reading a chapter a week, usually on Saturdays and I read chapter 4 today. Prior to this it felt a bit predictable. Sure it looks different but in this case that wasn't enough for me. I'm glad I've stuck with it. I've got two more chapters to go. I'm interested to see where it ends up. Will it go back to being predictable or continue on the dynamic course it seems to be on?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

FCBD 2009

I went to Barbarian for Free Comic Book Day. I didn't get any of the free comic books but they were having a sale: 20% off all trades. I picked up Powers v11 and Daredevil: Cruel & Unusual. and saved roughly $7.50 (including tax).

I have yet to read v10 of Powers but I've already got 11 and 12, now. I ordered v10 and asked about 20th Century Boys v2, even though I have yet to read v1. I think they understood that I want them to order it for me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

April roundup

Bleach 21 - My original plan called for me to drop Bleach after the Soul Society arc ended, which it did, but all intents and purposes, in v20. The first few chapters of v21 wrap up a couple of loose ends but it is more or less epilogue. Now that I've finished v21 and read the beginning of the new arc I want more, so I bought v22. The story is good in this series but the art is better.

Blue Mondays v2: Absolute Beginners - I liked this collection as much, possibly more than the previous one. It certainly made me want more. I like the manga influences on this book, even though it doesn't look manga. The writer/artist definitely has her own style. Lots of gals cursing in this book, I like it. Not always my cup o' tea but since I don't see or read comics like this too much I like it. Ok, some of the twists and turns seem a little ridiculous but once again this isn't one of many teen romance comics that I read.

Negation v3: Hounded - Loved this the first time around, when it was first released in individual issues. It isn't quite the same rereading it in a collection. Its easier to avoid the cliffhanger endings and I have a (somewhat faded) recollection of what is going to happen. Still it was a fun read. I've got v4, the last of the series and plan on reading it in the near future.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Powers v9: Psychotic

Powers v9: Psychotic - by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming; Collects # 7 - 12 of the Marvel/Icon run.

Unlike some of the earlier trade paperback collections this feels like more than one story; three stories to be precise. Two of them take place in the foreground and one in the background. The two foreground stories are related. In the first (Act I) a superhero is killed by a cop. Turns out the dead superhero, the man behind the mask, isn't the same person who he was thought to be. The investigation by Detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim leads in an unexpected direction and eventually taking them back to the person who originally wore the mask.

In act II, the extremely powerful gem that gave the hero his powers, both incarnations, goes missing. With the FBI threatening to step into the matter Walker and Pilgrim launch an investigation to figure out how it disappeared from the evidence room in Police HQ.

Meanwhile, throughout these six chapters, Deena is with a pesky ex-boyfriend. She is determined that the relationship is over but he doesn't want to let it go. Her refusal to even talk it over with him leads him, in an act of desperation to do something very stupid. There is some resolution this storyline but I get the feeling that it will continue in the next collection or possibly the one after.

Good plot developments in this collection but overall it feels like an "inbetweener": there are character and plot developments without resolution. The Act I and II story lines felt a bit like filler material. Filler for what? For the Deena's Boyfriend storyline which isn't really resolved in this collection. So I liked it but don't think it would be a good place to start reading Powers. You really should start at the beginning. I do plan to continue reading this series.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hercules/Hot Gimmick

The Incredible Hercules: Against the World - This wasn't bad. I liked the team of Hercules and Amadeus Cho. I liked watching them interact. The art work was okay. I did like how they wove in the different myths about Hercules. Aside from that the story wasn't anything too special. Part of what holds it back IMO is the fact that it is tied to the aftermath of World War Hulk. I don't read the big event books so I felt like I was missing something; or maybe it was just ill will for the big events getting in my way of enjoying what is (arguably) a well written and decently drawn comic book. There were parts where I was really digging it and other parts where I felt my attention waning. I doubt I'll pick up the next collection. Its worth trying, if you like superhero comic books, but its just not for everyone. From what I've been told future issues tie into other big crossover events. *sigh*

Hot Gimmick v6 - I'm not sure how I got this far into this series. I'm not that wild about it. I don't really like any of the characters. I do appreciate the craftsmanship of the writer/artist, Miki Aihara. I think she does a great job with visual story-telling. Love how the action flows and the facial expressions of her characters. If only the characters themselves were a little deeper. I can't see myself reading anymore of this 12-volume series.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2008: Manga

Manga I finished reading in 2008:

Classic - Tezuka
Buddha vol. 5, 6, 7
Phoenix vol. 7, 8, 9

Fruits Basket vol. 1, 2
Hot Gimmick vol. 5
Kare Kano vol. 12, 13

Bleach vol. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Kekkaishi vol. 2
Monster vol. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
Yotsuba&! vol. 2, 3, 4

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2008: Graphic Novels

I've made a list of the "Graphic Novels" I read in 2008. Note that I use the term "graphic novel" to include anything that I usually think of as sequential art. I use the term "graphic novel" because I think it is probably more commonly recognized than sequential art. I put quotes around the term because I don't like using it this way even though it serves a purpose.

Superheroes (23)

DC Comics
All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder vol. 1
Catwoman: When in Rome
Crisis on Earth Prime
Doom Patrol Archive vol. 1
Hitman vol. 1
Legion of Superheroes: An Eye for an Eye
Starman Omnibus vol. 1

Marvel Comics
Daredevil: The Devil Inside and Out vol. 1, 2
Exiles vol. 14
Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four vol. 6
Nextwave vol. 1, 2
Punisher War Journal vol. 1
Punisher: Circle of Blood
She-Hulk vol. 3, 4
Uncanny X-Men Omnibus vol. 1
Wolverine (mini-series by Chris Claremont & Frank Miller)
X-Men: God Loves Man Kills
Young Avengers vol. 2

Image Comics
Invincible vol. 6
Powers vol. 7

Other (12)
Some of these books contain elements of science-fiction or the supernatural but I don't consider any of them to be superhero books.

A Contract with God
Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright
DMZ vol. 3
Queen & Country vol. 7
Strangers in Paradise vol. 1, 2
Team Zero
Y: The Last Man vol. 8, 9, 10
Camelot 3000


Superheroes - DC Comics (7)
2000s: 2
1990s: 2
1980s: 2
1970s: 0
1960s: 1

Superheroes - Marvel Comics (14)
2000s: 9
1990s: 0
1980s: 3
1970s: 1
1960s: 1

Hmmm, seems like I read many more Marvel than DC superhero books, and that I seem to be more interested in current Marvel titles rather than well aged ones. Also worth noting is that four out of five of the Marvel books from the 20th century are X-Men related titles, and none of the 21st century Marvel titles are X-Men related.