Archive for January, 2007

Batman: Year 100

January 29, 2007 | Trades

Batman: Year 100 Paul Pope DC Comics $26.99/$19.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) There’s a little bit of grey in his black hair, but all in all Batman looks pretty good for 100. Welcome to the year 2039, where Gotham City is as bad as it has ever been, a place where the biggest fear doesn’t come from men in masks, but from Big Brother. A member of the city’s federal militia, the Panthers, is dead and both they and the G.C. Police Department are hot on the tail of a suspect — an “unclassified, undocumented” man with a cowl and cape. As the law tries to identify and capture this “Bat-man”, his secret allies, his motivation and his role in the Panthers’ death all slowly come to light amid a whirlwind of high-speed action. Writer/illustrator Paul Pope (100%, Heavy Liquid) uses his distinctive storytelling and art styles in a celebration of the ideals of Batman and how they can be so timeless — even in a story set 100 years after his first appearance.

The Goon Vol. 5: Wicked Inclinations

January 29, 2007 | Trades

The Goon Vol. 5: Wicked Inclinations Eric Powell Dark Horse Books $14.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Y’know, The Goon could actually be a really chilling book if it wasn’t so damned over-the-top funny. Creator Eric Powell is a truly gifted artist who brings some exceptionally gruesome creatures to his stories. In Wicked Inclinations for example, The Goon’s town is overrun by scores of dead-eyed, scragily haired, little grey monsters that are terrorizing the locals and destroying everything in sight. The Goon, the good-hearted local mobster — straight out of a 1930s movie — doesn’t take to kindly to this and takes to the streets. But just as the tension of the situation is beginning to rise and the fists are flying and this series is starting to seem like a horror title, out come lines like: “Get off him you chug-headed troglodytes, before I plug you!” and “You think I won’t put a slug in your face just ‘cause you were born with a giant potato head, you got another thing comin’!” Tension gone. Belly shaking with laughter. All is right with the world. Now into its sixth collection and still going strong, The Goon is a comic book treasure where issues are filled with tales that delight and some of the most breathtaking art in modern comics.


January 29, 2007 | Trades

Gear Doug TenNapel Image Comics $14.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) Doug TenNapel is some kind of whiz kid. He’s the mind behind successful video games like the 1990s classic Earthworm Jim, books like Creature Tech (optioned to become a feature film) and cartoon shows like Catscratch, appearing on Nickelodeon in the U.S. and YTV in Canada. What makes TenNapel’s work so enjoyable is often a healthy helping of humour, depth and humanity in every character and a highly distinctive art style. Gear, newly collected for the first time in colour, contains all these elements and much, much more. This pseudo-prequel to Catscratch (only a few of the characters and the art style are the same) sees four cartoon cats named after TenNapel’s real-life felines: Simon, Gordon, Waffle and Mr. Black on a mission to retrieve a giant robot to help protect their town against the aggression of invading dogs, cats and insects. The story, which TenNapel admits in his afterword was not well planned in advance and done more as an art exercise, is kind of a mish-mash of genres and tends to meander. But it has heart and its creator’s trademark humour enough to be well worth picking up.

100 Bullets Vol. 10: Decayed

January 29, 2007 | Trades

100 Bullets Vol. 10: Decayed Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso Vertigo/DC Comics $19.99/$14.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) The end of 100 Bullets is in sight and war is looming on the horizon. It ain’t gonna be pretty. With less than two years until its planned final issue #100, this edgy, bleak and black tale of power, corruption and death is now very close to having all its pieces set for a bloody ending. The days of Agent Graves showing up to hand some stranger that infamous briefcase with a gun, 100 bullets and irrefutable proof as to who has ruined their lives are becoming less and less frequent as he rounds up the last of his brainwashed Minutemen in preparation for war with his former employers, the Trust. Decayed puts two final pieces in place, introducing readers to Jack, a street-fighter with a winning streak in serious jeopardy and Remi, the small-time con man who might not make it into battle — because his brother will kill him first! As 100 Bullets draws closer to its conclusion, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso continue to grind out gut-wrenching crime-noir at its finest and the war that is coming should prove to be bloody and brilliant.

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic Vol. 1: Commencement

January 29, 2007 | Trades

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic Vol. 1: Commencement John Jackson Miller, Brian Ching, Travel Foreman Dark Horse Books $18.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Everything old is new again — at least in the Star Wars universe. Dark Horse Comics takes us old school — reeeeallly old school — with its newest series from the Lucasverse, almost 4,000 years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. As we hop in our wayback machine, we meet Zayne Carrick, struggling Padawan (student) Jedi who is either close to completing his training and becoming a knight or getting his butt booted out the door, depending on the day. But Zayne’s life as a screw-up seems like the good ol’ days after walking in late for a ceremony only to find his school’s Jedi Masters standing over the bodies of their dead Padawans. When they fail to catch and kill him too, Zayne’s on the run and facing not only the Jedi, but an entire galaxy after they frame him for the murders. Can one Padawan, even with a little help from some unexpected allies, outwit the Jedi and escape in one piece? Knights Of The Old Republic is an instant must not only for Star Wars junkies looking for their next fix, but for any fan of action-packed, eye-catching comics.

Blue Beetle: Shellshocked

January 29, 2007 | Trades

Blue Beetle: Shellshocked Keith Giffen, John Rogers, Cully Hamner DC Comics $17.50/12.99 US (Paperback) *** (out of five) This new Beetle has got me feeling blue. Perhaps I’m just too rooted in my love of Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis’ late 80s Justice League series, but I was a true fan of the wise-cracking Ted Kord, the last hero to be called Blue Beetle. He, of course, was on the receiving end of a point-blank shot to the head in the now-classic Countdown To Infinite Crisis. So when Jaime Reyes, a whiny teenage kid from New Mexico is introduced as the new Beetle last year, maybe I just wasn’t ready. I read the first issue and then kind of forgot about him. After taking more time to mourn and then pouring over this first collection of the new series, I can’t say my opinion has changed too greatly. Oh sure, writers John Rogers and Giffen do a good job of portraying Jaime’s confusion and angst and having the mantle of the Beetle thrust upon him. There’s even a nice twist about where his powers really come from. Cully Hamner’s art is equally well done. But another series featuring a whiny, angst-filled teen? I’ll be re-reading my back issues of Justice League International instead.

Wonderlost #1

January 29, 2007 | Comics

Wonderlost #1 C.B. Cebulski, Paul Azaceta, Juan Castro, Jonathan Luna, Martin Montiel, Khoi Pham, Alina Urusov, Ethan Young Image Comics $6.95/$5.99 US **** 1/2 (out of five) C.B. Cebulski is a brave, brave man. Not only is he willing to lay bare some rather revealing stories of his teen years — he’s gone the extra mile and had them illustrated. This longtime Marvel Comics editor, now focusing more on his writing career with ongoing series like Drain for Image Comics — with the help of artists Paul Azaceta, Juan Castro, Jonathan Luna, Martin Montiel, Khoi Pham, Alina Urusov and Ethan Young — shares six tales of his youth, all focusing on friendship, lust and love. Delving way beyond the stereotypical “she broke my heart” stuff, Cebulski doesn’t shy away from the painful or embarrassing. He admits to cheating, gross insensitivity and a very humiliating interlude inadvertently involving a female sanitary product. He still comes out smelling like a rose, though, as he does his best to do the right thing — even when that means not getting laid. These kinds of explorations of the meaning of those flawed fumblings of youth can often be ham-fisted, but Wonderlost of graceful and at times touching and Cebulski should be lauded for this emotional issue.


January 15, 2007 | Trades

Ragmop Rob Walton Planet Lucy Press $29.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) The beauty of the biting satire that is Ragmop is that you don’t have to agree with the views expressed to appreciate the divine delivery of the argument. Toronto writer/illustrator Rob Walton blends homage to the classic comic books of his childhood with left-wing politics and nearly every conspiracy theory involving economics, history, science and religion to create something hilarious, action-packed and thought provoking. It doesn’t matter whether you agree that: — There is a secret society that actually runs the planet in place of elected governments. — Capitalism and democracy are really shams. — The C.I.A. is behind almost every major assassination of the 20th century. — The U.S. government began the U.F.O. conspiracy. — Dinosaurs evolved from fish. — Quentin Tarantino is a genius. In fact, this book might be better if you don’t. The plot sees would-be villainess Alice Hawkings racing around the globe, and then the galaxy, in search of a device of God-like power. Of course, something like that attracts the powers-that-be of the world, including politicians, religious leaders, angels, devils and everyone in between in what becomes a sometimes-slapstick battle for power. Originally begun as a serialized comic series in the mid-1990s, Ragmop has been revamped using current-day politics and societal issues. The transition is nearly seamless — a tribute to Walton’s skill as a graphic storyteller — and this now-completed volume is sure to become an underground classic.


January 15, 2007 | Trades

Silencers Mark Askwith, R.G. Taylor Desperado Publishing/Image Comics $14.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) Sandman creator Neil Gaiman calls Mark Askwith “one of the secret masters of everything.” Askwith, the one-time manager of Toronto’s popular Silver Snail comic book store, is a TV producer having developed the groundbreaking Prisoners Of Gravity for TVO before going on to become the big brain at Space: The Imagination Station. He is also the nation’s foremost comic book journalist, having interviewed more creators than most fans have even read about and in the process inspiring people like me to do what I do in this space every two weeks. On top of all this, Askwith is a comic book writer himself, most notably penning a cult-favourite miniseries based on the British TV show, The Prisoner, along with lesser-known works like his 1991 series Silencers, collected for the first time this month. The story — focusing on the tribulations of a small group of Canadian spies near the end of the Cold War — is solid, if not spectacular. But Askwith and artist R.G. Taylor’s use of actual people in the roles make it a standout. Notable faces include Askwith’s own, along with that of his wife Catherine Marjoribanks, Ragmop creator Rob Walton and Seth, creator of Clyde Fans Book One and Wimbledon Green. Silencers is more proof (as if we needed any) that Askwith is everything Gaiman says and more.


January 15, 2007 | Trades

Robotika Alex Sheikman Archaia Studios Press $19.95 US (Hardcover) **** (out of five) It takes mighty big stones to give the star of your very first miniseries no dialogue. Kudos, then, to Alex Sheikman for giving us Niko, steampunk samurai star of Robotika. Not since G.I. Joe’s classic ninja Snake Eyes have a character’s actions said so much while he said so little. With eye-catching detail and rich and lavish colouring, Sheikman brings Niko’s far-future world to life and unveils the truth behind his mysterious existence. Niko, in the service of the queen, is sent on a mission to retrieve the recently stolen results of a key experiment in cybernetic engineering. Without a word he completes his task, but the results of his actions force him to call into question his life, his past and his future. Is he simply the perfect warrior? Or is he something more? Sheikman’s Robotika is as impressive a debut as you’ll see in comics and sure to whet your appetite for a pending sequel in 2007.