Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

Thor Omnibus

March 20, 2011 | Comics

British director Kenneth Branagh's vision of Marvel's classic hero, Thor (starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins), hits movie theatres on May 6. Two new books make it clear why this beefy, blond Norse god is worthy of his very own blockbuster: The Mighty Thor Vol. 1 Omnibus (Marvel Comics, $112.99, 768 pages) collects the first 39 appearances of the hammer-wielding hero from the mid-1960s by comic icons Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in one vibrant and beautifully restored package. Thor by J. Michael Straczynski Omnibus (Marvel Comics, $72.99, 520 pages) assembles one of the most recent takes on the character - courtesy of the longtime Amazing Spider-Man writer - an epic yet playful tale that sees the hero reborn only to find his homeland of Asgard floating over rural Oklahoma. (This article was first published in the Toronto Star)

Image United #1 (of 6)

December 17, 2009 | Comics

Image United #1 (of 6) Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino Image Comics $2.99 U.S. **** (out of five) Six of the top comic artists of the past 25 years have come together for one of the most daring and eagerly anticipated miniseries of the decade — and they’ve brought along an all-star writer, too. Image United sees six of the seven Image Comics founders — Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Rob Liefeld (Youngblood), Todd McFarlane (Spawn), Whilce Portacio (Wetworks), Marc Silvestri (Cyberforce) and Jim Valentino (Shadowhawk) — each drawing their own characters over Liefeld’s layouts in an ambitious and impressively delivered effort on all parts. The series, which opens with several of these cornerstone heroes of the Image universe teaming up to try and stop a series of coordinated, yet strangely random attacks on major U.S. cities by a slew of super-baddies, is penned by newest Image partner, Robert Kirkman, who brings rock-solid credentials as co-creator of hit series like Invincible and The Walking Dead. Issue #1 also features the introduction of Fortress, a mysterious new hero created for this series by Portacio (since DC now owns the rights to Wetworks) who just might hold the key to stopping the looming big bad — an event brought on by a very familiar face to long-time Image fans.

G-Man Vol. 1: Learning To Fly

July 6, 2009 | Comics

G-Man Vol. 1: Learning To Fly Chris Giarrusso Image Comics $9.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) G-Man is the greatest kid super-hero around — just don't ask him to display his bullet-dodging skills. Chris Giarrusso, creator of the popular comic strip Mini Marvels (featuring the kid versions of all your favourite Marvel superstars), brings the laughs with this original series focused on Mikey, an average kid who fashions a magic blanket into a magic cape and takes to the skies as G-Man. Alongside his brother, Dave, who uses one of the blanket scraps as a magic belt to become Great Man (hence the matcing Gs on their costumes) and a host of other young heroes, G-Man has wild adventures at Sunnyside Superhero Summer camp (including a rather unfortunate performance during bullet-dodging drills), goes toe-to-toe with Evergreen, the deranged living Christmas tree and even takes a wild trip to Dimension-X. This nice mix of multi-page story arcs and one-page gags is a great starter book for young comic readers, who'll appreciate the slapstick, as well as providing lots of chuckles for long-time devotees who'll appreciate Giarrusso's wry sense of humour and tongue-in-cheek take on super-hero stereotypes.

Apes and Babes, The Art of Frank Cho Book 1

May 18, 2009 | Comics

Apes and Babes, The Art of Frank Cho Book 1 Frank Cho Image Comics $29.99 US (Hardcover) **** (out of five) Apes and babes and super-heroes, oh my! Frank Cho’s transition from successful comic strip artist to full-fledged comic book superstar is cemented with one quick flip through Apes and Babes, The Art of Frank Cho Book 1. Cho’s sense of dynamic action, talent as a painter and appreciation for the human form — especially the female one — is all on display in page after page featuring many popular characters from Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics and more. Also featured is a modest section of pencils and finished art from Cho’s much-loved (and missed) strip series, Liberty Meadows. About the only thing missing from this lavish hardcover is any commentary from the artist. It would be interesting to read about some of Cho's methods, motivations and mediums. Of course with art this beautiful, it can often speak for itself.

Soul Kiss #2 (of 5)

April 23, 2009 | Comics

Soul Kiss #2 (of 5) Steven T. Seagle, Marco Cinello Image Comics $3.50 US **** (out of five) Lili made a deal with the devil that she thought she could pay the price on. She owed him a soul — her soul, she thought. Turns out it was her boyfriend’s (thanks to the big, bad beast she reduced him to ashes with one big smootch) and if she want to get him back she’s got to lock lips with 10 more people in 10 days and send their souls south that famous hotspot. So the questions are: Can she go through with it and if so, who deserves the peck of death? Pucker up for a dark and delightful read, courtesy Steven T. Seagle (Like a Bird…) and Marco Cinello.

The Lindbergh Child

April 6, 2009 | Comics

A Treasury of 20th Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child Rick Geary NBM ComicsLit $15.95 US (Hardcover) *** (out of five) It was a crime that shocked the world. The kidnapping of 20-month-old Charles Lindbergh Jr. on March 1, 1932 made headlines around the world, while the subsequent investigation, and eventual arrest, trial and execution of the man found guilty of the crime held the attention of the globe years after that fateful night in rural New Jersey. Writer/artist Rick Geary delves deeply into all the facts of the case from Day 1 through to the decades-later after-effects, using clean pages of black-and-white art, and presents a fairly clear argument for the guilt of Bruno Hauptmann, the man who was eventually sent to the electric chair for taking, and killing, the child of the most famous man in the world. Geary also infuses a little twinge of black humour into the case as he highlights the numerous quirky personalities who gained their 10 minutes of fame in association with the crime, including several spectacular liars and scam artists, adding a nice layer of depth and preventing the book from decending into a simple blow-by-blow account.

Studio Space

June 23, 2008 | Comics

Studio Space Joel Meadows, Gary Marshall Image Comics $49.99 US (Hardcover), $29.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Once upon a time there was a little boy who got turned on to comics. He loved them so much that when he got older he worked really hard, got his big break and is now read by thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of fans. That little boy’s name is Brian Bolland, Steve Dillon, Dave Gibbons, Adam Hughes, Joe Kubert, Jim Lee, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Alex Ross, Tim Sale — well, you get the point. In Studio Space, these comic book icons, and about a dozen more, talk about how they fell in love with the genre, how they got their big break, how they prefer to work and, best of all, about some of their most beloved pieces of art. Packed with rare sketches, black-and-white originals, splashy colour pages and eye-catching portraits of the creators in their work areas, Studio Space is an outstanding intimate look at the people behind your favourite books.

Tales Of The Starlight Drive In

June 2, 2008 | Comics

Tales Of The Starlight Drive In Michael SanGiacomo Image Comics $19.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) The only thing better than a good love story is a good love story about a drive in movie theatre. Mike SanGiacomo, Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter and one of a handful of media types whose love of comics may even top mine, has been working on his love story for many years now. What was supposed to be an ongoing series of stories about the roller-coaster existence of the Starlight drive in went off the road and into the ditch thanks to the demise of its would-be publisher, leaving SanGiacomo and a group of almost two-dozen artists with a lot of work done and no home for it. Thankfully, Image Comics got this drive in tale back up and running and the result was worth the wait. From the introduction Adam, the little boy whose bedroom window faces the screen at the Starlight, and his first meeting Neil, the quirky projectionist with a whopping secret, Tales Of The Starlight sucks you in with its mix of solid characters and great nostalgia. Every tale in this anthology, which includes contributions by Canadian artists Sam Agro, Mike Faille and Paul McCusker, ties into the movie being shown at the time and the eclectic mix makes for some interesting storytelling. It also helps that SanGiacomo clearly loves his subject matter (though maybe not as much as he loves comics) and all that passion results in a pretty engaging read.

Jessica Farm Vol. 1

May 19, 2008 | Comics

Jessica Farm Vol. 1 John Simmons Fantagraphics Books $14.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Comic book creators truly are vagabonds nowadays. More and more in recent years, they work on a series for six or 12 months and then scurry off to the next book. This leaves readers to deal with either the end of a favourite monthly release or a new direction under a different writer and/or artist. Fewer and fewer creators are willing to spend a few years really developing a book and its characters, like Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso and their 100 issues of 100 Bullets or Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man. So to hear that Josh Simmons plans to work on his book, Jessica Farm, for the next 50 years is pretty shocking. Simmons, who enjoyed some critical success with his recent debut graphic novel, House, began Jessica Farm in January 2000 with a single page. Since then he has written and drawn one page a month and he plans to continue this pace for 50 years in total, releasing 96-page volumes every eight years until he completes a 600-page story. As for the content of this first volume, Jessica Farm is a very nice girl who lives in a very odd place. Her wonderfully quirky house is filled with secret spaces and hidden residents — from a friendly talking monkey to an angry nipple-twisting old man — and this first book follows Jessica’s adventures on a not-so-simple trip downstairs on Christmas morning. Jessica Farm is ambitious and entertaining and it might just have you thinking ahead to the spring of 2016 for volume 2.

Nixon’s Pals

May 19, 2008 | Comics

Nixon’s Pals Joe Casey, Chris Burnham Image Comics $12.99 US (Paperback) *** ½ (out of five) Parole officer Nixon Cooper has always tried to treat his cases with dignity and humanity — even if some of them may not qualify as human anymore. Nixon’s job of keeping track of metahuman parolees has always been tough, but things get much tougher when one of them decides to make things personal and sets out to destroy his caseworker’s life. Meanwhile, Nixon’s also got to try and keep a bunch of would-be reformed crooks from slipping back down a dark path, including an ex-hitman who’s been contracted to kill the man Nixon knows is sleeping with his wife! Full of bizarre-yet-likable characters and featuring a fast-moving and well-constructed plot by writer Joe Casey (Godland) and impressive art by Chris Burnham, Nixon’s Pals is a very fine example of quality super-hero crime noir.