Archive for December, 2003

Holiday shopping guide 2004

December 18, 2003 | Trades

It’s that time of the year again when thoughts turn to joy to the world, giving and sharing and … huge piles of comics!!! Forget fruitcake and plum pudding, to heck with the sweaters and wool socks, this year try opening up your friends’ and families’ horizons by slipping a collected-edition comic book under the tree. There is a book for every type of fan, and some great starter books for the uninitiated, with many publishers ready to deck your halls with great titles. For the classic fan: Batman Illustrated By Neal Adams Vol. 1 DC Comics $82.95 If you’re under the age of 35, the Batman you know is the one re-created by Neal Adams. In the wake of the 1960s TV show that had The Caped Crusader looking more the like the campy crusader, Adams brought Batman back to his roots. He returned him to the shadows and re-made Batman the Dark Knight. This, the first of three planned chronological collections of all of Adams work with Batman, helps capture the evolution of the character and includes all the stories and covers Adams did on Bat-titles from 1967 to 1969. For the modern fan: Batman: Hush Vol. 2 DC Comics $30.95 Who is Hush? And why is he trying to destroy Batman’s life? This second and final collection of the most talked about storyline of 2003, brought to you by the talented duo of artist Jim Lee and writer Jeph Loeb, gives you all the answers. Featuring a who’s who of Batman’s friends and foes, including the Joker, Catwoman, the Riddler, Robin and many more, this enthralling mystery will have you guessing right up until Hush’s identity is revealed. For the cutting-edge fan: Powers Vol. 5: Anarchy Image Comics $19.95 Brian Michael Bendis is arguably the hottest writer in comics today and perhaps his best work is Powers, tales of cops whose beat is investigating crimes involving super-powered people. Anarchy sees the police investigating a string of brutal murders of superheroes that leads them back to an old friend as the next target. But will their efforts to warn him play right into the murderer’s hands? For the sophisticated fan: The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen II ABC Comics/DC Comics $37.95 Forget everything you’ve seen on the big screen. Comic writing legend Alan Moore’s tales of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen are darker and much more clever. This second installment sees The League, made up of famous fictional literary figures from the turn of the century, including Alan Quartermain, Captain Nemo and Dracula’s Mina Murray, battle an invasion from Mars. League II is a shocking tale of love and betrayal with more twists than a pretzel. For the art fan: The Will Eisner Sketchbook Dark Horse Books $80 Comic book master Will Eisner has been one of the finest storytellers of the genre for the past 60 years. The Will Eisner Sketchbook shows why. This beautiful hardcover takes readers through the production of several of Eisner’s award-winning stories with sketches, storyboards and chapter introductions by the 86-year-old himself. The quality of this book is so good you’ll swear the lead from the reproduced pencil sketches is going to come off on your hands. For the comic strip fan: Liberty Meadows Vol. 2: Creature Comforts Image Comics $34.95 Funny books are a must around the holidays and the latest Liberty Meadows book is a perfect fit. Frank Cho’s terrific art and brilliant pacing will have you in stitches at the adventures of the offbeat characters at the Liberty Meadows animal sanctuary. A good-sized sketchbook displaying a wider range of Cho’s talents makes Creature Comforts even more worthwhile. For the indie fan: Unlikely Top Shelf Comix $19.95 This unabashed look at the rise and fall of a relationship by writer/artist Jeffrey Brown is a touching and sometimes agonizing story about young love in the 21st century. The honesty put forth by Brown, even if its embarrassing or painful, makes Unlikely a compelling read. For the Manga fan: Hellsing Vol. 1 Dark Horse Books $18.95 Based on one of the most popular anime titles out there, Hellsing is finally available in book form in North America thanks to Dark Horse Books. The story of Hellsing, a secret organization sworn to protect England from the forces of darkness, is wicked and sharp and looks outstanding in this classic, slightly-smaller Manga-sized book.


December 8, 2003 | Trades

Fray Joss Whedon, Karl Moline, Andy Owens Dark Horse Comics $19.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Joss Whedon is a genius. Ask any fan of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer or Toy Story. The Emmy- and Oscar-nominated writer has a great way with snappy dialogue and can pepper pop references with the best of them. Almost everything he touches turns to gold — including comics. Which brings us to Fray, Whedon’s first foray into the genre, which, to the surprise of few, is a rollicking good time. The ingredients are familiar to any Buffy fan. Take a smart-mouthed teenaged girl, mix in monsters and a little sci-fi gadgetry, and serve with wit and intelligence. Melaka Fray is strong, fast and tough. She’s also a thief and a hoodlum. Most importantly, she is The Slayer — the first one in a long time. Spun out of the Buffyverse, Fray is set in a futuristic Manhattan teeming with problems. And just like in Buffy, a mysterious stranger arrives one day to tell Fray of her special destiny. But why now? What evil is rising that only The Slayer can stop? The answer takes the feisty Fray on a wild adventure through the darkest parts of this new New York, and leads her down a path of betrayal and blood. All with a quip and a smile. Whedon, along with talented penciller Karl Moline and inker Andy Owens, give us a realistic and reluctant hero, who grabs her destiny by the throat and squeezes. The only sadness is that we are rushed through Fray’s life so fast. There’s little time to enjoy the ride of her coming to grips with her powers and destiny before she’s foist into her final battle. Of course, being no fool, Whedon has left plenty of room for a sequel, but it still feels like this collection, which reprints an eight-part limited series, should have been a few chapters longer.

Batgirl: Year One

December 8, 2003 | Trades

Batgirl: Year One Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon, Marcos Martin, Alvaro Lopez DC Comics $27.95/$19.99 US (Paperback) **** 1/2 (out of five) Batgirl: Year One is positively joyous. While these look-back-to-a-simpler-time, retelling of an origin stories have been done before, few have been done with the simple delight of Batgirl. The story of a young Barbara Gordon, daughter of the future police commissioner, is a familiar one. Nobody takes her seriously because she’s short and cute and a girl, to boot. She wants to be a cop like her dad, but he won’t allow it. So Barbara decides to take a different route. She slips on a mask and copies the world’s greatest detective, Batman. But a run-in with the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder, Robin, shows Batgirl she’s got a lot of work ahead of her to prove she belongs. Writers Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, along with artists Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez, do an amazing job of capturing the spirit of super-heroes. The sheer joy Barbara feels by being Batgirl, in spite of the dangers, radiates from the pages. Even for comic fans who know Barbara’s character would go on to one day be crippled after being shot by the Joker, it’s hard not to get lost in thoughts of being a kid again, like Batgirl is in these pages, and to imagine the exhilaration of swinging from the rooftops as a hero.

Transmetropolitan Vol. 9: The Cure

December 8, 2003 | Trades

Transmetropolitan Vol. 9: The Cure Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson Vertigo/DC Comics $22.95/$14.95 (Paperback) **** 1/2 (out of five) Welcome to The City of the future. It is a city with a million strange things, like Nazi sex midgets, seahorse salads, bowel disrupting guns, pigeons who smoke and the strangest thing of all: Spider Jerusalem. The self-proclaimed vigilante journalist is hot on the trail of the story of a lifetime. The President of the United States is committing crime after crime and then having the witnesses killed, along with any innocents that get in his way. And the person he wants to suffer most is Spider. But Spider’s time is running out. He’s sick and losing what little faculties he has. As the president’s forces are closing in on Spider and his “filthy assistants,” they in turn are getting closer to the truth and putting a finish to the president’s career. But will they get the story out before government forces find them and stop them? The ninth, and penultimate, collection of Transmet, arguably the most over-the-top and compelling Vertigo series ever published, is an amazing visual and psychological experience put together by the brilliant writer-artist team of Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. With scenes of extreme violence, nudity and vulgarity Transmet is recommended for adults only and the warning is definitely warranted. But it is an essential for true comic fans.