Archive for February, 2007

Heartbreak Soup & Maggie The Mechanic

February 26, 2007 | Trades

Heartbreak Soup Creator: Gilbert Hernandez Fantagraphics Books $14.95 US (Paperback) **** 1/2 (out of five) Maggie The Mechanic Creator: Jaime Hernandez Fantagraphics Books $14.95 US (Paperback) **** 1/2 (out of five) There’s an interesting recurring discussion that knowledgeable comic book fans like to have with one another. It begins with: “Who’s your favourite Hernandez brother?” The answer to this question is rarely brief, often very personal and reflects very much upon what kind of person they are and what kind of life they’ve led. This is how deeply rooted in comic culture Gibert and Jaime Hernandez’s book Love & Rockets has become over the last quarter century. Trying to choose between Jaime’s poignant Locas stories, which follow the wild lives of one-time punks and sometimes lovers Margarita "Maggie" Chascarrillo and Esperanza "Hopey" Glass and Gilbert’s moving tales of the people of the fictional Central American village of Palomar can be as painful as choosing your favourite child. For those not yet able to throw their two cents into these discussions, the 25th anniversary of Los Bros Hernandez’s series has yielded two new affordable, chronological collections. Heartbreak Soup is the first of two volumes that will be released in 2007 that contain Gilbert’s sweeping Palomar stories, featuring a fascinating cast of characters that are so well developed that you might come to think of their village as a real place. Maggie The Mechanic, one of three Locas books coming this year, takes readers back to when Jaime was trying hard to fuse sci-fi, post-punk culture and Chicano life into a single book. Watching this idea, along with Jaime’s art style, evolve is a true comic delight.

Brit Vol. 1: Old Soldier

February 26, 2007 | Trades

Brit Vol. 1: Old Soldier Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Cliff Rathburn Image Comics $17.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) OK, so unless you’re a comic fan who’s been living under a rock for the past few years (or your mom’s basement) you’ve got to know who Robert Kirkman is by now. Kirkman has been tearing up the comic industry by writing, well, almost everything. He’s perhaps best known for his awesome original series Invincible and The Walking Dead at Image Comics, but he’s also knocking reader’s socks off with tales in Ultimate X-Men, Marvel Team-Up, The Irredeemable Ant-Man, Marvel Zombies and more. Well somewhat lost in the shuffle of all those titles is a very fine creation that Kirkman, along with artists Tony Moore and Cliff Rathburn released called simply, Brit. Set in the same world as Invincible, this series follows the adventures of an aging indestructible government agent whose everyday routine of battling alien monsters and hulking terrors is shaken when his superiors decide he might be worth more to them if they dissect him and see how he ticks. Full of over-the-top violence and humour, Brit is classic Kirkman and too much fun to miss a second time.

Red String

February 26, 2007 | Trades

Red String Gina Biggs Dark Horse Books $9.95 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) The Red String of destiny has taken quite a while to lead Gina Biggs from webcomics to print. Biggs’ series Red String began online at way back in May 2003 and is now has a devoted readership that eagerly awaits each new page when they are updated three times a week. The series follows the life of Japanese high schooler Miharu Ogawa, whose world gets turned upside down when her parents inform her that she has an arranged marriage. Miharu’s life gets even more confusing when she then meets a wonderful guy and starts falling for him. Will the red string that ties two people destined to be together link her to him? Or does is connect her to this mysterious fiancé? Red String is fun and romantic comic-of-age story full of fun twists and turns. Hopefully this new print edition will give even more attention to Biggs’ fine work.

Superman: Back In Action

February 26, 2007 | Trades

Superman: Back In Action Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza, Pete Woods DC Comics $19.99/$14.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) It’s the team up that Superman fans have been waiting years for. Alien invaders are plundering earth of its rarest treasures and to stop them, the Man Of Steel is aided by, no not the Justice League, nope not the Justice Society, Teen Titans or Outsiders, either. Actually, um, let’s see there’s Nightwing, Firestorm, ummm, that new Aquaman, and, uh, Shockrocket, along with, Live Wire, the Veteran and… Blue Jay? OK, so World’s Finest it ain’t, but this odd band of heroes actually makes sense when it all comes together in this brief three-issue arc of Action Comics. As a bonus (that is, to pad this trade and make it worth the money) there are three classic Superman stories from the now-defunct DC Comics Presents, featuring team ups with the original Firestorm, the Metal Men and Deadman. All in all, this is one action-packed little collection.

Dynamo 5 #1

February 26, 2007 | Comics

Dynamo 5 #1 Jay Faerber, Mahmud A. Asrar Image Comics $4.05/$3.50 US **** (out of five) Captain Dynamo was a remarkable hero who spent his life protecting the people of Tower City. Turns out he was also a bit of a man-whore. After the good captain’s death, his widow Maddie Warner discovers her late husband’s little black book, filled with the names and dates of his conquests throughout the years. As the bad guys in Tower City begin to take advantage of its hero’s death, Maddie does a little digging and discovers that her husband’s trysts have resulted in at least five illegitimate kids, now all in their late teens and 20s. She quickly rounds them up, doses them with the same radiation that unlocked her husband’s powers, and voila: Dynamo 5 is born! Now all these super-siblings have got to do is figure out how to work as a team fast enough to save the city from being overrun by evil. Writer Jay Faerber (Noble Causes) and artist Mahmud A. Asrar have a great concept here and a fantastic first issue has laid the groundwork for what could be the sleeper super-hero series of 2007.


February 12, 2007 | Trades

Aya Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie Drawn & Quarterly $21.95/$19.95 US (Hardcover) **** (out of five) The best works of literature have the ability to effortlessly transport you to different times and places and will surround you with characters full of depth and richness to complete your mind’s journey. Reading Aya is like taking a luxury cruise to late-1970s Africa — Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast to be more specific — where we are immersed in the lives of the title character, her two best friends and a colourful and quirky cast of characters. Writer Marguerite Abouet and artist Clément Oubrerie deliver a fun and quick-witted tale of teen pleasures and troubles as the sensible Aya watches with fascination while her friends outwit their parents and sometimes even themselves in pursuit of fun times. The wonderfully immersive setting of the book is working-class neighbourhood of Yopougon with its vivid colours and distinctive tastes — offering a sadly seldom seen more joyous and identifiable side of African life that is truly fascinating.

Manhunter: Trail By Fire

February 12, 2007 | Trades

Manhunter: Trial By Fire Marc Andreyko, Javier Pina, Jesus Saiz DC Comics $23.99/17.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Kate Spencer has brains, beauty and is tough as nails. She has to be, not just for her night job as the vigilante known as Manhunter but also for her day job as a U.S. federal prosecutor trying to keep super-criminals behind bars. As far as Kate’s concerned the guilty get two options: Be fairly convicted in the courts or use legal trickery to get off and see their brains blown out by her alter ego. Now, as the trial of her career looms, Kate must pull out all the stops to earn a conviction against the villain called The Shadow Thief, a man she knows to be guilty, while his allies in evil target both the Manhunter for catching him and Kate herself for trying to put him away. Writer Marc Andreyko and artists Javier Pina and Jesus Saiz deliver a roller-coaster of action, drama, humour and more in this whopping 222-page second collection of the recent Manhunter series, which sadly was cancelled recently by DC Comics due to poor monthly sales. Hopefully this fine work will at least garner some attention and allow for the collecting of the whole series for those “waiting for the trades”.

Ion: The Torchbearer

February 12, 2007 | Trades

Ion: The Torchbearer Ron Marz, Greg Tocchini, Jay Leisten DC Comics $19.99/$14.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) The all-powerful Ion is back — but is he friend or foe? DC Comics’ 2006 mega-crossover series Infinite Crisis saw longtime Green Lantern Kyle Rayner regain the massive power of Ion after his one-time girlfriend, the hero Jade, transferred all her energy to him with her dying effort. Kyle had previously called himself Ion when he held as much power — far more than a standard Green Lantern ring provides — and he’s done so once again (which also works out since DC he too many characters called Green Lantern kicking around). As this 12-part miniseries begins, Ion is devastating entire regions of space and killing alien beings by the thousands. Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner is trying to sort out his complicated life by spending time painting at an artists’ retreat. Confused? Well that’s the point! After being attacked by a bounty hunter, Kyle heads off into space to figure out what’s going on and the answers he finds lead to even more perplexing questions. Writer Ron Marz returns to the character he created and delivers an enigmatic piece of the puzzle to the future of the DC Universe.

Superman: Emperor Joker

February 12, 2007 | Trades

Superman: Emperor Joker Jeph Loeb, J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Schultz, Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mike Miller, Duncan Rouleau, Scott McDaniel DC Comics $19.99/14.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) The notorious villain Superman has escaped from Arkham Asylum and only the heroic Bizarro can stop him. Uh…. what? In a nightmare come true, Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker, has acquired god-like powers and remade the world to his liking. This means Superman is Public Enemy #1, the Justice League are reviled as the world’s worst crooks and it rains pies from the sky. Seriously. In order to restore things to the way they ought to be, Superman seeks out the help of evil-genius and billionaire industrialist… Lois Lane? But can even their combined might overthrow Emperor Joker? And where exactly is the Dark Knight? An all-star cast of creators, including Jeph Loeb (TV’s Heroes), Ed McGuinness (Superman/Batman) and Scott McDaniel (Green Arrow) combine to tell one wild and wacky, but pretty darned entertaining, Superman adventure.

Shazam: The Monster Society Of Evil #1 (of 4)

February 12, 2007 | Comics

Shazam: The Monster Society Of Evil #1 (of 4) Jeff Smith DC Comics $7.25/$5.99 US **** (out of five) Jeff Smith’s award-winning series Bone remains one of the most popular independent series in comic book history. So how do you follow something like that? Well if you’re Smith you dive into your first ever full-length mainstream super-hero work, Shazam: The Monster Society Of Evil. With his trademark art style, his keen wit and humour, Smith sets out to retell the origins of DC’s Captain Marvel and how a young homeless boy named Billy Batson comes to be the world’s mightiest mortal by simply uttering the word “SHAZAM”. This first issue recounts Billy’s first encounter with the powerful wizard who merges him with the mighty hero and our first hints at who exactly the Monster Society is. Smith’s follow-up to Bone took quite a while to complete — three years or so — but all evidence so far indicates it was well worth the wait.