Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Kevin Colden Still Rules the Night

If you haven't been keeping up with Eisner-nominated Kevin Colden's Zuda comic, "I Rule the Night," here's what you've been missing:

It's a weird companion piece to Morrison's "Batman" run, and as of page 29, I have no idea where it's headed next. But it is good, indeed.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Playing Catch-Up: What I've Been Doing


After my two-week break, I'm back to talk comics. Or to catch you up on the comics I've been talking about elsewhere at least.

Since I last posted, I reviewed a whole bunch of comics for CBR (with linkery for you to enjoy):

Daredevil Noir #1
Northlanders #16
Batman Confidential #28
Captain America #49
Punisher #4
Squadron Supreme #10
Green Lantern Corps #25
Astonishing X-Men #29
Skrull Kill Krew #1

And I tackled the career of the awesome Bernie Mireault in a two-part retrospective/interview in "When Words Collide":

Me on Mireault's Masterpieces
Me talking comics with Mireault

But you already knew that, I'm sure.

What do I have in store for the future of "Geniusboy Firemelon"? I don't know, but I'm back!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm supposed to be on break, but: Jann Jones No Longer at DC

I tried to e-mail Johnny DC editor Jann Jones about the situation with Mike Kunkel and the "Shazam!" book (which, if you don't know, is that Kunkel is being replaced by Art Baltzar and Franco on the writing, and an as-yet-unnamed artist, but Kunkel will come back and do some issues in the future), and Jones's DC e-mail is no longer active, and it sends an auto reply saying to contact another DC employee.

When I e-mailed this other employee, she confirmed that "Jann no longer works here."

I haven't seen this reported anywhere.

I wonder what that means for the Johnny DC line, which Jones had so strongly redirected. I wonder what that means for the still-unreleased "Ambush Bug: Year None" #6.

Anyone know anything?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The 2009 Eisner Award Nominations Hit THE SPLASH PAGE

Hundreds of years ago, Chad Nevett and I began writing a column called "The Splash Page" for Sequart.com. With that website's temporary inactivity, we moved the discussion to our blogs (and starting this summer, we'll be doing a modified version of this for CBR, but that's all hush-hush for now, so don't tell anyone about it yet). Though we haven't maintained our weekly schedule since leaving the hallowed halls of Sequart, we do still talk about comics regularly, and this week we talk EISNER NOMINATIONS!

Chad Nevett:
On Tuesday, this year's Eisner nominations were announced to their usual vocal reception online. Some were pleased, some weren't, most were in between, but, what you may be wondering is, how do Tim and I feel about the nominations. Well, we're going to tell you. I know there's one nomination we can both agree is great, which is CBR's nomination for "Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism." We both have ties to the site, so our bias is fairly obvious, wouldn't you say, Tim?

Tim Callahan: That is indeed a great and proper nomination, and I'd love to see Jonah win the life-size Will Eisner trophy in San Diego this summer. Though he's up against some tough competition with "The Comics Journal," "The Comics Reporter," and "Comics Comics." CBR definitely has a wider range of content -- and MORE content -- than the other three, but we'll see what the judges think. I know CBR publishes a certain Chad Nevett (now of "Comics Should be Good"!) and a certain...me, so that's gotta count for something. We are awesome, as we keep telling ourselves.

Let's move on to something people might actually care about, though, like the "Best Continuing Series" category. "All-Star Superman," "Fables," "Monster," "Thor," and "Usagi Yojimbo" all got the nod, and though everyone in the world kind of shrugged, "huh," when "All-Star" was listed in that particular category, I can't say I'm surprised to see it nominated somewhere. What do you think about those five nominations overall?

CN: Yeah, I went "What?" when I saw "All-Star Superman" was listed there. The only other title nominated that I read is "Thor" and that also gave me pause, because while a decent enough read, it never struck me as best-continuing-series-in-all-of-comicdom good. It's not even the best continuing series Marvel publishes (though, I would put it in Marvel's top five). I always hear good things about "Fables," but never had any desire to read that series, because the concept doesn't appeal to me. "Usagi Yojimbo" is one of those books where, again, I always hear positive things and I've always meant to check out, but just never seem to. Never read or heard of "Monster," but it's manga and what I know about manga you could fit into a small comic box with room to spare. Nothing nominated really seems to warrant outrage, but nothing also seems to warrant a lot of celebration and passion -- at least on my part.

The category I find more interesting is the "Best New Series" one with at least one or two books that had me scratching my head: "Air," "Echo," "Invincible Iron Man," "Madame Xanadu," and "The Unknown Soldier." Now, my problems with "Invincible Iron Man" are documented well here and in my CBR reviews, but, I think, one of the big surprises was the nomination for "Madame Xanadu," which, beyond a few lackluster reviews of the first issue, I haven't heard, well, anything about.

TC: I don't understand the "Thor" nomination either, since it's just a good, but not great, series. As you point out, it's not even the best continuing series Marvel publishes. "Captain America" is better. "Captain Britain and MI: 13," better. "Ghost Rider," better. "Daredevil," too. And that's just the superhero stuff. What about "Criminal"?

And, geez, Matt Fraction gets the nod for "Iron Man" but not "Casanova"?

"Fables" is good enough, I suppose, but I don't love it as much as others seem to, and I've never actually read "Usagi Yojimbo" even though I did pre-order the massive hardcover omnibus, so I'm trying to rectify that. I'm two volumes in on "Monster," and after those two volumes, and how much I adored "Pluto" so far, I had already ordered the next eight "Monster" books before these nominations hit. So, yeah, it makes sense that it's there. Two volumes in, and I'm hooked.

For the "Best New Series" category, I don't think any of the nominees make sense. I read three out of the five regularly, and I like them, but I wouldn't consider any of them the BEST new series. "Air" has the terrible M. K. Perker artwork, "Invincible Iron Man" has the annoying Sal Larroca art, and "The Unknown Soldier" hasn't developed into anything great yet, even if it's pretty damn good. The first few issues of "Madame Xanadu" were enough to make me never want to read another Matt Wagner comic again, and that's sad, because I really used to love "Grendel." It was just one cliche after another, though CBR's Andy Khouri insists that it's a great comic, so I'm clearly wrong about it.

I can't think of a lot of great series that began last year, but what about "Rasl," or "Gigantic," or, your favorite, "Young Liars"? "Hulk" is even better than most of the nominees (though that probably didn't start in 2008, did it?).

CN: The lack of love for "Young Liars" and David Lapham bothered me, yeah. I didn't want to trash the other "Best New Series" noms since I haven't read most of them -- of course, that I haven't had anyone talk those books up enough to make me want to probably says something about their quality -- but, hot damn, "Young Liars" is just so good. It's, by far, my favorite ongoing comic at the moment. Maybe the slow start affected it's chances. Who knows.

"Casanova" didn't publish too many issues since last year's awards, so it not being nominated didn't bother me that much, although that final issue deserved something. One idea put forth (by someone who I can't remember since I read a bunch of random thoughts on the Eisners earlier in the week), though, is whether or not something like "Invincible Iron Man" really is a new series. Does Marvel relaunching one of their titles with a new number one really count, especially when you look at their habit of reverting to old numbering when a big round number comes around? Is "Invincible Iron Man" a new series or really just another run on the broader Iron Man ongoing series? Is it "Invincible Iron Man" #12 or is it REALLY "Iron Man" #481? Or, to put it in a way that Marvel operates: will we see "Invincible Iron Man" #31 or will it be "Iron Man" #500? Should the Eisner's distinguish between actual new series and "fake" ones like Marvel's various relaunch books?


A Short Break From Posting

You may have noticed that I've slipped from the daily update schedule I had maintained for the past year. Well, I just don't have a whole lot to say about comics right now that can't be said in my four-to-six CBR reviews and my weekly "When Words Collide" column. And since I've jumped to Twitter, if I have a little comment to make, I'll probably just make it there, rather than spending time developing it into a full blog post.

So, other than a discussion with Chad Nevett on this year's Eisner nominees (which will probably run tonight or tomorrow), I will take a TWO WEEK VACATION from posting here, but I will return at the end of the month with updates and new posts galore.

Those two weeks off from regular posting will let me recharge my comic book commentary batteries and give me a chance to see what I really feel like writing about. Because I get the sense that I'm not the only one who has less to say about comics these days. There's kind of a lull now, isn't there, and the only recourse seems to be to go deeply into the Humanoids back catalog or just step away for a couple of weeks until things start getting interesting again?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

When Words Collide: Albany Adventures

Some comic fans get really annoyed at the media coverage of comic conventions since all the television reports ever show are the weirdos dressed in costumes, and the thousands of regular fans are forced to cry to the heavens, "it's not like that -- it's mostly just middle-aged guys with t-shirts and backpacks standing in lines, and, oh... forget it, I understand why they show the costumed weirdos on tv now."

So even though like six people out of the entire crowd at the Albany Comic Con actually showed up in costume, I had to include this image as part of the required convention coverage social contract. And who doesn't like to see Darth Vader in a Holiday Inn courtyard anyway?

So, the Albany Comic Con! I broke free from my normal "When Words Collide" routine of saying semi-smart stuff about old comics and/or interviewing someone who had even smarter stuff to say to do a full-on convention report about my experiences, past and present, at the little Albany show. Because sometimes, comic books are not about the words and pictures on the page. Sometimes they're about hanging out in a motel and talking to Herb Trimpe.

Read this week's "When Words Collide" HERE!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wolverine: Weapon X #1 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Wolverine: Weapon X #1, about which I write the following sentences: "In this issue, we get the return of Maverick, Wolverine's old Weapon X colleague, and a growing mystery involving the Blackguard group and the introduction of some mysterious laser-claw wielding killers. Aaron is building some new mythology for Logan, not by telling stories from the past, but by using the legacy of the past to drive the story forward. Like most of Aaron's protagonists, Wolverine's fate is bound to into his history, but he has no choice but to boldly push forward and make amends for who he is and what he's done."

Read the entire review HERE.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Haunted Tank #5 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Haunted Tank #5, about which I write the following sentences: "It doesn't become about the racist ghost of a confederate soldier learning to accept the ways of the world today, and it doesn't become about the soldiers of today learning to live with this charming old racist codger. In other words, it's not 'Gran Torino: Iraq.'"

Read the entire review HERE.

Justice Society of America #25 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Justice Society of America #25, about which I write the following sentences: "And what makes it more than just merely fine. What makes it fine in a way that implies yeah-it-was-a-compressed-resolution-of-a-lot-of-stuff is that Jerry Ordway provides the art. Who better than Ordway -- the Platonic ideal of the 'All-Star Squadron'/'Infinity Inc.' approach to comic book nostalgia -- to work on Geoff Johns's 'Justice Society of America'? He's really the perfect artist for the kind of story being told here, a classic artist for a story drenched in old-school storytelling tropes."

Read the entire review HERE.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Full Ninjawolf and Squidhunter Story Now Online

For superhero buddy comedy/action/intrigue/tomfoolery, check out the eight page "Ninjawolf and Squidhunter" story I wrote a few years ago, drawn by the always loveable Todd Casey.

Click HERE to read the whole thing. For FREE!

Albany Comic Con Today

I'll be there. Stop by as I moderate a panel that still doesn't have a name or a list of participants. So let's call it: "Comic Book Scissor Kick."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Secret Invasion Reading Order via Chad Nevett

You've been clamoring for it, so Chad Nevett has gone and done it: Bendis Secret Invasion Reading Order.

The question is: Is it WORTH reading again, now that its corpse has grown cold?

What say you?

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Destroyer #1 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: The Destroyer #1, about which I write the following sentences: "This comic is drenched in blood, and if Val Staples had to hand-paint this issue he would have had to prepare buckets of the red stuff. Yet it's Cory Walker doing the drawing, so the extreme gore takes on a delightful absurdity. This isn't a gruesome, stomach-churning story even if blood drips from its pages. It's a ridiculous, over-the-top, post-'Nextwave' comic full of ultra-violence and explosive action. But since this comic stars a geriatric hero facing the end of his life, the extreme visual bombast contrasts sharply with Marlow's underlying sadness. He's a larger-than-life action hero, but even he doesn't have the courage to tell the ones he loves that he's been given a death sentence by his physician."

Read the entire review HERE.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pride and Prejudice #1 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: "Pride and Prejudice" #1, about which I write the following sentence: "this isn't a good comic. Not at all."

Read the entire review HERE.

When Words Collide: Wolverine and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I've been doing the "When Words Collide" columns for what, like 30-something weeks in a row? And in all that time, I've spotlighted a Marvel character or comic book only once before, when I tackled Marvel's "Punisher Omnibus" and wrote about my preference for Garth Ennis's more blatantly absurd take on the character.

That column led to some harsh criticism from a certain corners of the internet as one angry e-mailer told me that I should stick to reading my "pre-9/11 comics."

But here I am, spending time with another Marvel character: the little-known character called "Wolverine." You may not have heard much about him, since he's Canadian and all -- and one of those, ick, mutant types -- but he's a cool little character who's kind of like a angry badger with a lot of smelly habits. And to examine this character I decided to talk with my old pal Barry Lyga who has a young adult novel coming out soon, featuring this obscure character with the funny hair and the metal pig-stickers.

Join us, won't you, as Lyga and I discuss what's so special about Wolverine in "Wolverine and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Todd Casey: Artist of Goodness

Check out this picture on the left. Squidhunter is definitely in trouble, what with the giant robot tentacles and all. It's a fine little illustration by artist Todd Casey, and you can see more of his work on his newly-minted blog: Rotting in the Berkshires.

I've worked with Todd on a bunch of projects (and he's currently drawing a monkey story of mine for a yet-to-be-announced anthology -- think trampolines, robot monkeys, and magic bananas), and he's a guy who deserves a shot at the big time. So check out his blog, encourage him to post even more art, and let's get this guy working on graphic novel or a Johnny DC title (I'd love to see his Ace the Bathound epic).

Yeah, Todd Casey!

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vol. 2 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: "Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka" Vol. 2, about which I write the following sentences: "It's the shift in focus that makes 'Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka' so powerful. It's probably a silly comparison to make, but as a longtime superhero reader and relative manga neophyte, this series struck me as a kind of 'Watchmen' for the manga crowd. It deconstructs the mythic characters of Tezuka's immensely influential 'Astro Boy' comics, taking them from cartoonish exaggerations and treating them with a subtle realism. This is softer than 'Watchmen,' and it's less formally inventive, but it reminds me of the experience I had while reading Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's work for the first time: 'Oh,' I thought, 'this is certainly a different take on things.' And I have that same feeling reading this series."

Read the entire review HERE.