Archive for December, 2007

JPK’s Best of 2007

December 24, 2007 | Comics

You asked for it, and now you’ve got it. Readers of this site regularly ask me what I’m currently reading and what I’d recommend, so here it all is with a nice festive bow: Metro’s best comic books of 2007: Best original graphic novel: The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill (America’s Best Comics) Well the wait was long — over 18 months from its originally scheduled publication date — but the Black Dossier finally arrived in November and boy was it worth it. Writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O’Neill truly outdid themselves with a wild and imaginative League tale set in a post-Orwellian 1950s full of odd and alluring tangents into the past and hinting at a tempestuous future to come. Oh, just one bit of bad news: Due to copyright concerns, the Dossier was never published in Canada. If you want a copy you’ll have to head online instead to your local comic book shop. Finalists: The Goon: Chinatown And The Mystery Of Mr. Wicker by Eric Powell (Dark Horse Books); Sentences: The Life Of M.F. Grimm by Percy Carey and Ronald Wimberly (Vertigo); Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly). Best ongoing series: The Spirit by Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone (DC Comics) It took some major stones to take on the adventures of a character created by a pioneer like the late Will Eisner, but Darwyn Cooke definitely proved he has ’em. Seamlessly mixing action, drama and comedy, along with some truly breathtaking visuals, this Canadian creator took what might have been a decent little revival project for this masked crime-fighter and turned it into the book of the year. Finalists: All-Star Superman (DC); Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 (Dark Horse); Daredevil (Marvel Comics); Invincible (Image Comics); Irredeemable Ant-Man (Marvel); Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E. (Marvel). Best new series: Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 by Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty and Andy Owens (Dark Horse Comics) It was a dream come true for Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans when word spread that series creator Joss Whedon was going to continue the character’s canonical adventures in a new comic book series. And it’s been everything we could have hoped for so far, with the same fun characters, quick and clever dialogue and fast and furious slaying action. Finalists: Scalped (Vertigo); The Mice Templar (Image); The Sword (Image). Best miniseries: Shazam: The Monster Society Of Evil by Jeff Smith (DC Comics) After the raging success that was Bone, Jeff Smith had set himself a rather lofty standard. Luckily, his next project, Shazam: The Monster Society Of Evil was of comparable quality. This sweet and sincere re-imagining of Captain Marvel’s origin is one of those rare few books that you could hand to anyone from age five to 95 and they’d be sure to enjoy it. Finalists: World War Hulk (Marvel); The Nightly News (Image); The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (Dark Horse). Best single issue: Satan’s Sodomy Baby by Eric Powell (Dark Horse Comics) Packed with filthy jokes, violence and completely extraneous and gratuitous nudity, Satan’s Sodomy Baby is one of the most wonderfully offensive comic books ever released. Finalists: Pieces For Mom: A Tale Of The Undead (Image); Wonderlost #1 (Image).

Holiday gift guide 2007

December 13, 2007 | Trades

You can keep your partridge in a pear tree, turtle doves, French hens and all the rest of that birdie business — I prefer a much more graphic holiday gift. ’Tis the season to gift someone special a beautiful new collected edition comic book, so here’s a look at some of the nicest new ones around: The Absolute Sandman Vol. 2 $120/$99 US The Sandman, bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s mystical and mysterious tales of the Lord of Dreams, is considered by many to be one of the greatest comic book series ever printed and never has the beauty of it been captured as well as with this over-sized, deluxe hardcover edition. Not only do you get a whopping 19 issues, but also a slew of extras including bonus stories, scripts and art. Girls: The Complete Collection $99.99 US ($150 US for signed and numbered edition) Brothers Joshua and Jonathan Luna’s sci-fi/horror epic about a small town imprisoned in a giant bubble with murderous, yet beautiful, girls, was a roller-coaster of a read and now the entire 24-issue series is collected in one handsome volume along with bonuses galore. Madman Gargantua $125 US Want to blow your favourite comic book fan’s sox off? Hand them the titanic 852-page Madman Gargantua, containing every single issue of the adventures of comic book icon Mike Allred’s Madman. Just remember to tell them to lift with their knees when they go to pick it up. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 1-3 $60.99/$49.99 US In the 1960s, legendary artist Jack Kirby helped co-create series like the Fantastic Four and the Hulk and in the ’70s he created the Fourth World for DC Comics, a new universe full of amazing heroes and vile villains like nothing seen before. Now readers can go back to the beginning of this world with these new omnibuses that recapture Kirby’s work in all its glory — a perfect gift for comic fans old and new. The Complete Peanuts 1963-1966 Boxed Set $54.95/$49.95 US The annual tradition continues as this set containing the seventh and eighth volumes of The Complete Peanuts, designed by Canadian graphic novelist, Seth, arrives just in time for the holidays. These two 344-page hardcovers continue the chronological collection of creator Charles M. Schultz’s comic strip masterpiece and are guaranteed to deliver a wonderful feeling of nostalgia to whomever you give them to. The Art Of Bone $39.95 US Jeff Smith’s Bone continues to be one of the most lauded and loved comics of the last 20 years and there’s no better way to get even more out of the adventures of the three lost cousins than with The Art Of Bone. This new over-sized hardcover volume contains never-before and rarely seen artwork, outlines and gives a remarkable insight into the creative process that went into this amazing fantasy epic. The Art of Matt Wagner’s Grendel $39.95 US Commemorate the 25th anniversary of Matt Wagner’s visionary creation, Grendel, with this glorious art book featuring breathtaking art and an engaging look at the history of the character from the original master assassin to the futuristic criminal overlord. The Art of Matt Wagner’s Grendel contains rare art from the creator himself, along with other masters such as Tim Sale and Frank Miller.

The Goon: Chinatown And The Mystery Of Mr. Wicker

December 10, 2007 | Comics

The Goon: Chinatown And The Mystery Of Mr. Wicker Eric Powell Dark Horse Books $19.95 US (Hardcover) **** (out of five) The Goon is the toughest crook in town and everybody knows it, but the mysterious Mr. Wicker is keen to test that fact. Bit by bit, the Goon’s territory, business and allies (even his best friend Franky) all get gobbled up by his supernaturally powerful rival, and the challenge to get it all back forces our hero to reflect back to a time when he was a better person — a man in love — back in Chinatown. Creator Eric Powell finally draws back the curtain on some of the Goon’s greatest mysteries, including how he came by his trademark facial scars, in a stirring and notably darker original graphic novel than the Goon’s bimonthly Dark Horse Comics series.

Wonder Woman: Love And Murder

December 10, 2007 | Trades

Wonder Woman: Love And Murder Jodi Picoult, Terry Dodson, Drew Johnson, Paco Diaz DC Comics $23.99/$19.99 US (Hardcover) *** 1/2 (out of five) Everybody knows that Clark Kent is Superman and Bruce Wayne is Batman — remembering Wonder Woman’s alter ego might take you a while, though. Not much attention has been spent developing the Amazon warrior’s human guise over the past several years and she had, perhaps, lost some of her humanity. Enter Jodi Picoult, author of 14 novels, including the recent New York Times bestseller, Nineteen Minutes. As the first female writer to take on the character’s regular monthly series, Picoult set to the task of breathing a little bit more of that human element into Wonder Woman, using her alias of Diana Prince to walk among the people she protects. Just as she’s starting to make a little progress, Wonder Woman is forced to take on her old enemy, Circe, avoid the U.S. government who want to take her in for questioning in a murder case and to try to stop her mother from destroying Washington. D.C. Love And Murder is a solid story with some clever observations on the oddness of Wonder Woman’s everyday life and it leads nicely into DC Comics’ Amazons Attack crossover series, which is now available in collected form.

Ex Machina Vol. 6: Power Down

December 10, 2007 | Trades

Ex Machina Vol. 6: Power Down Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, Jim Clark, JD Metler Wildstorm/DC Comics $15.99/$12.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) Mitchell Hundred has wished thousands of times that his ability to communicate with inanimate objects would just go away and leave him in peace — until one day it did. The former superhero known as The Great Machine, who turned his fame into a successful move into becoming mayor of New York City, Hundred finds himself powerless just as the infamous blackout of 2003 strikes. Without the ability to make a gun jam or any other device come to his rescue, the mayor is forced to face off against a madman who holds his mother and his mentor hostage. Making matters even more complicated is the fact this gun-wielding fiend may actually be able to help Hundred put some pieces together regarding the accident that gave him his abilities. The dynamic duo of writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Tony Harris just continue to up the ante on their outstanding Wildstorm series.

The Flash: Wonderland

December 10, 2007 | Trades

The Flash: Wonderland Geoff Johns, Angel Unzueta, Doug Hazlewood DC Comics $15.99/$12.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) It’s amazing how much a person can accomplish in just six issues. Having already proven he knew his stuff as a comic book writer with Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E., Geoff Johns landed his dream project back in 2000: The Flash. A life-long fan of the Scarlet Speedster, Johns picked up the reigns of this DC cornerstone series for a six-issue story arc and managed to stretch it out for half a decade, creating a signature run that will be hard for any future scribe to match. So how did it all begin? Displaying his love for adding great depth to the villains of the DC Universe, Johns teamed the Flash, a.k.a Wally West, up with Captain Cold and Mirror Master as they attempt to get themselves out of a mixed up parallel world where there has never been a Flash. Things don’t get much better when the hero and his ne’er do well allies find their way home as they discover their native city has vanished — along with Wally’s wife! With a passion for his characters so evident, it was easy to like Johns’ work on this series right from the start and given that the rest of it had already been available in collected form, it’s great that this final piece — where it all began — is now out there, too.

Green Arrow: Road To Jericho

December 10, 2007 | Trades

Green Arrow: Road To Jericho Judd Winick, Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens DC Comics $21.99/$17.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Broken, bloodied and beaten, Green Arrow was left to die as his city crumbled around him. Thing is, he’s just too stubborn to die. DC Comics’ One Year Later event, which fast forwarded all of its series 365 days, showed us a new Oliver Queen, one who blended his night job as the bow and arrow wielding vigilante Green Arrow with a new day job: Mayor of Star City. How Oliver managed to come up with the plan to get that job, and how Green Arrow remade himself as a much more dangerous combatant, though, remained a mystery — until now. Road To Jericho, written by Judd Winick and drawn by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens, reveals how Oliver went through extensive training with some of the world’s deadliest fighters, including some on the wrong side of the law, to help hone his abilities in the wake of getting beaten down by Merlyn and Dr. Light. This whopping and highly enjoyable 10-issue collection also contains an interesting little superhero team up with Batman and culminates with an all-out battle against Deathstroke and a shocking scene that ends with Ollie, the most notorious womanizer of a hero, on one knee.

American Virgin Vol. 3: Wet

December 10, 2007 | Trades

American Virgin Vol. 3: Wet Steven T. Seagle, Becky Cloonan, Jim Rugg Vertigo/DC Comics $15.99/$12.99 US (Paperback) *** ½ (out of five) Just when Adam Chamberlain thought his life couldn’t get any weirder… After a turbulent few months where the deep faith of the teen virginity advocate was tested by the murder of his girlfriend, Cassie, and later witnessing the death of her killer, Adam is back home in the U.S. looking to get back to work. Unfortunately the plane ride back to Miami ends with it skidding off the runway and Adam having a near-death experience that makes him question whether Cassie was truly the only woman he was ever meant to be with. Now, with a little help from his shady stepbrothers, Adam attempts to track down Miss Right among a handful of women that he met years ago — an undertaking that leads the formerly clean-cut youth pastor into some more remarkably seedy situations. If you think you’ve been shocked by previous collections of American Virgin, written by Steven T. Seagle and drawn Becky Cloonan and Jim Rugg, you won’t believe your eyes when you read volume 3.

Robin: Teenage Wasteland

December 10, 2007 | Trades

Robin: Teenage Wasteland Adam Beechen, Freddie Williams II, Frazer Irving DC Comics $21.99/$17.99 US (Paperback) *** ½ (out of five) Doing homework, meeting girls and stopping crimes. OK, so Tim Drake’s got a few different priorities than your average teenager, but in spite of the fact he spends his nights as Robin, The Boy Wonder, he’s still pretty normal. In Teenage Wasteland, writer Adam Beechen, with help from the excellent artistic tandem of Freddie Williams II and Frazer Irving, does a nice job of balancing the angst of high school life (as Tim tries to woo his lovely tutor, Zoanne) and his action on the streets (where his decision to spurn a would-be sidekick named Dodge comes back to haunt him — big-time). The big question is: Can Tim successfully keep juggling his dual life or will it all come crashing down on top of him?

Nightwing: Love And War

December 10, 2007 | Trades

Nightwing: Love And War Marv Wolfman, Dan Jurgens, Jamal Igle DC Comics $17.99/$14.99 US *** (out of five) He can’t seem to catch the newest supervillain in town, he’s having rotten luck with women and he can’t seem to find a job that he’d like to do. Times are tough for the handsome, wealthy, athletic hero known as Nightwing. With comic book writing icon Marv Wolfman (New Teen Titans, Crisis On Infinite Earths) at the helm, the adventures of the now-full-grown Dick Grayson, formerly the boy sidekick known as Robin, promised to take an upward turn. The unfortunate truth is that in Love And War, Nightwing comes off as whiny and self-absorbed as he laments things like not being able to find a job he’ll enjoy (even though he’s got all the money he’ll ever need), having little luck meeting women (in spite of the fact that he’s handsome, charming and athletic) and can’t seem to stop the masked villain called the Raptor (even though a few months ago he helped save the multiverse). Boo hoo. While the action in this latest Nightwing book is quick paced and often eye catching, all the whining from someone who’s seemingly got it is just a little hard to take.