Archive for November, 2006

DC: The New Frontier — Absolute Edition

November 20, 2006 | Trades

DC: The New Frontier — Absolute Edition Darwyn Cooke DC Comics $100/$75 US (Hardcover) **** 1/2 (out of five) DC: The New Frontier was a labour of love for writer/illustrator Darwyn Cooke and one look through this well-deserved Absolute Edition proves it. Cooke, born and raised in Toronto and now living in Nova Scotia, takes more than 400 pages to tell a sprawling tale that spans 1945-60 and bridges comics’ Golden Age with its Silver Age. Painstakingly nuanced and featuring darned near every DC character (and their vehicles/ pets/sidekicks/etc.) from the era, The New Frontier is an epic crossover story that rivals or bests any "crisis" or "war" book around. It is also features a terrific integration of political and social history of the times. It’s no wonder the original series won Cooke both an Eisner Award (comic books’ top honour) and a Joe Shuster Award as Canada’s most outstanding cartoonist. The New Frontier will also be featured as a direct-to-DVD animated movie available next year. As good as the original series is, DC takes it up a notch with this stunning Absolute, which features new story pages, Cooke’s fascinating page-by-page annotations, sketches and extras galore — all in a slipcase featuring an original image by the creator.

12 Days

November 20, 2006 | Trades

12 Days June Kim TokyoPop Price $12.99/$9.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) It’s like some bizarre Forest Gump scene gone wrong: ashes with wine, ashes with juice, ash smoothies... Jackie Yuen’s life is devastated when she finds out the former love of her life Noah (a girl) has been killed in a car wreck. In an effort to make peace with the loss, Jackie recruits Noah’s brother Nick to steal his sister’s ashes — so that Jackie can consume them over the course of 12 days. OK, so it sounds strange, but it’s actually an idea based upon Queen Artemisia, who ruled Halicarnassus in 480 BC. When her husband died, she consumed his ashes so she could be a living mausoleum for him. Writer/artist June Kim, best known for illustrating JET’s debut album cover, has created something touching and original in her first full-length graphic novel. With a tender touch, Kim uses Artemisia’s show of devotion to examine love, death, friendship, loss and a score of other emotions that quickly help readers push past the yuck factor of a person scarfing down an ex-person.

American Virgin: Head

November 20, 2006 | Trades

American Virgin: Head Steven T. Seagle & Becky Cloonan Vertigo/DC Comics $13.50/$9.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Never has a virgin been so screwed. Adam Chamberlain, the 21-year-old leader of a highly successful national virginity movement, seems to have everything going for him. Sure, his family is a little dysfunctional (featuring a pot-smoking little brother and disowned step-sister), but Adam's a bestselling author, thousands of people turn out to hear him speak and his soul mate Cassandra is coming home from two years in the Peace Corps. in just a few days. All this perfection is thrown out the window when Cassandra is decapitated by an African terrorist organization — leaving Adam questioning God's plan for him and what he's supposed to do next. To help deal with his girlfriend's death, Adam and his stepsister Cyndi hop on a plane to Africa and try to find out how this horrible crime could have happened. But the answers Adam finds lead, of course, to more questions and his quest becomes a search for both Cassie's head and her killers. Writer Steven T. Seagle (It's A Bird!), along with artist Becky Cloonan (Demo), has laid the foundation for an interesting conflict between morality and desire and has created an instantly complex and conflicted protagonist to mess with. American Virgin is one of the best of a hot new wave of Vertigo books and shouldn't be missed.

Girls Vol. 3: Survival

November 20, 2006 | Trades

Girls Vol. 3: Survival The Luna Brothers Image Comics $14.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) The battle against hot, naked babes wages on. The people of Pennystown are still trapped inside an impenetrable sphere that has cut them off from the outside world. Even worse, the beautiful and mysterious nude 'girls', who can each recreate dozens of themselves after having sex with human men, are in there with them and are continuing to target all the women in town for death. But things get really interesting as the body count continues to pile up and the surviving women decide to take no more chances with the men knocking up anymore 'girls' and take them all prisoner. Oh yeah, and that giant sperm monster is up to no good. Yeah, I guess this series has progressed to the point were you've really got to read every issue (or all three trades) to make sense of it, but believe me it actually does. This are looking really bleak for our survivors and since the Luna Brothers have already revealed that issue #24 will the series' last, there'll be one last arc to come and it promises to be a doozy.

Star Wars: Empire Vol. 6 — In The Shadows Of Their Fathers

November 20, 2006 | Trades

Star Wars: Empire Vol. 6 - In The Shadows Of Their Fathers Thomas Andrews, Scott Allie, Adriana Melo, Joe Corroney, Michael LaCombe Dark Horse Books $17.95 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) Being Darth Vader's son must be tough to take, but before Luke Skywalker found out about his parentage, he was forced to deal with the horrible consequences of being the son of Anakin Skywalker. After accompanying Princess Leia on a mission to offer Rebel Alliance support to the world of Jabiim, Luke quickly finds himself a prisoner for crimes committed by his father during the Clone Wars. It turns out Anakin, on orders from above, pulled all Republic support off Jabiim, leaving it to the mercies of the Droid army. Luke, with Leia's help, must prove he's not the villain Anakin has been made out to be by the Jabiimi, even as the Empire, led by Vader himself, close in on them. This story, set just months after the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, is one of those compelling pieces that only works now that George Lucas' whole six-film series has been told and the creators do a fine job of tying together all those years of continuity into something original and compelling.

The Absolute Sandman Vol. 1

November 6, 2006 | Trades

The Absolute Sandman Vol. 1 Neil Gaiman Vertigo/DC Comics $120/$99 US (Hardcover) ***** (out of five) Neil Gaiman made us both feel old last autumn when he reminded me that Sandman was quickly approaching the 20th anniversary of its first issue. “I had a beautiful adult woman come up to me the other day — and by adult I mean 28, 29, 30 — and say ‘I’ve been reading your work since the eighth grade,’” Gaiman said. “All of the sudden I felt, not only old, but scarily old.” I didn’t have the heart to tell the author, who turns 46 this week, that I started reading it when I was in Grade 10, but I’m sure he can take solace in the fact that his horror/fantasy comic-book masterpiece is finally getting an edition worthy of the King of Dreams. The Absolute Sandman Vol. 1 contains the first 20 issues of the most critically acclaimed series of the 90s, which follows the rather complicated existence of Morpheus, the living embodiment of dreams. Also included in this breathtaking slip-cased, leather-bound hardcover are Gaiman’s fascinating original proposal to DC Comics, a gallery of character designs and the script for the World Fantasy Award-winning issue #19, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, along with reproductions of the issue’s pencils by Charles Vess.

Degrassi — The Next Generation: Extra Credit Vol. 1

November 6, 2006 | Comics

Degrassi — The Next Generation: Extra Credit Vol. 1 J. Torres, Ed Northcott H.B. Fenn $12.95 (Paperback) **** (out of five) Confession time: I am not a Degrassi fan. I know that ranks right up there with hating the music of the Tragically Hip or thinking Don Cherry is a loudmouth on the big list of Canadian blasphemies, but I just never watched it. To this day when people start going on about Joey Jeremiah, Caitlin and “Wheels” I start to nod off. On the flip side, I am a big fan of Toronto writer J. Torres. His quarterly series Love As A Foreign Language (along with artist Eric Kim) is the best humour/romance comic around and his knack for smart and natural dialogue makes him the perfect person to tackle the illustrated tales of the newest batch of Degrassi kids. This first in-continuity story, drawn by Kitchener, Ont.’s Ed Northcott, sees Ellie dealing with the crunch of exams, work and an overly friendly male co-worker, while J.T. finds a rather, um, unusual way to distract himself from the fallout of his relationship with Liberty.

Fables: 1001 Nights Of Snowfall

November 6, 2006 | Trades

Fables: 1001 Nights Of Snowfall Bill Willingham Vertigo/DC Comics $26.99/$19.99 US (Hardcover) **** 1/2 (out of five) It’s amazing what you can do when your life is on the line. Snow White, representative of the former fairytale characters in Fabletown, U.S.A., manages to tell a different story every night for almost three years to keep from being beheaded by the Sultan of the Arabian fables. Writer Bill Willingham, award-winning creator of Vertigo’s monthly Fables comic, partners with some of the most talented artists in the comic book industry —†including Charles Vess, Brian Bolland, John Bolton, Jill Thompson, Tara McPherson and James Jean — in a gorgeously illustrated series of secret histories for series regulars like Snow White, the Big Bad (Bigby) Wolf, Old King Cole and the Frog Prince.

Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort

November 6, 2006 | Trades

Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort B. Clay Moore, Steven Griffin, Nick Derrington Image Comics $14.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) The Irish and Italian mobs are both making a play for the illegal gambling market in 1950s Hawaii and they’ve each found the best person to help them eliminate the competition. Oh yeah, of course it’s Byrd. The Hawaiian Dick finds himself at the centre of a double-, no triple-, maybe even quadruple-cross in his second full-length adventure. With his assistant Kahami and cop buddy Mo Kalama in tow, Byrd tries to figure out which one of the mobs is secretly breaking a long-standing truce, while mysterious “accidents” keep our favourite flowered-shirt wearing gumshoe on his toes. It took a long time for this series to get finished, with nearly a year between the final two issues, but it was well worth the wait. B. Clay Moore’s slick writing and Steven Griffin’s incomparable art make an unbeatable combo that already has readers clamouring for the next installment.

Birds Of Prey: The Battle Within

November 6, 2006 | Trades

Birds Of Prey: The Battle Within Gail Simone, Ed Benes, Joe Bennett, Tom Derenick DC Comics $23.99/$17.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) A little new blood, some of the old guard and a bevy of beautiful butt-kickers — what more could you ask for in a book? Writer Gail Simone’s superb run on Birds Of Prey continues as the team heads out on the road to tackle some homicidal vigilantes, Black Canary teams up with Justice Society veteran Wildcat to battle some of the deadliest assassins in the world to bring down a drug lord and Oracle, A.K.A. Barbara Gordon battles for her life against a runaway computer virus. This 10-issue collection, which also features some fantastic art by Ed Benes, Joe Bennett, Tom Derenick, Joe Prado and Eddy Barrows, is a perfect illustration of why Birds Of Prey has been the most consistently impressive superhero book over the last half decade.