Wednesday, July 31

DC Comics – August 2013, New 52 Month 22

Reviews, commentary, general reactions, and random notes on the DC Comics that were released during June that I received near the beginning of July. Caution: Spoilers ahead! [ Link to previous month ]

The online previews of the DC solicitations which will appear in the August issue of Diamond's Previews catalog (and therefore solicit items mostly on-sale during the month of October) appeared while the days of July were still in single digits, earlier than I ever remember. Not sure why so early, but you may see them here (link).

News that dropped during the period I was reading this batch of comics included George Perez's announcement of what he had cryptically referred to when I was talking with him in Houston (link). It turns out he is going to Boom! Comics (link). He's the second creator in as many months that has left DC for Boom! – Paul Jenkins (last month) also was headed that direction, and although Perez's announcement is not filled with the vitriol some others' departures from DC have been, he has clearly been dissatisfied with the corporate culture that increasingly prevails at DC. That was clear both of the times I've had the pleasure of meeting him, and comes through clearly albeit graciously in the linked interview. It's DC's loss, is all I can say.

Sunday, July 28

The Wolverine (2013)

Directed by James Mangold

The first thing I said when I returned home after watching this movie was, in answer to my wife's query, “It's really nice to go to a comic book movie where the heroes' objective is not 'saving the world'!” Sure, there is plenty of over-the-top action here, there, and yonder, from start to finish but especially toward the end (although the far superior and most memorable sequence is the 300-mph fight atop the bullet-train much earlier), but this is primarily a character story with both an inner and an outer conflict springing from the very nature of The Wolverine. Inner, Logan's actions at the end of the chronologically previous X-Men movie, The Last Stand, literally haunting him with the knowledge that his mutant healing factor makes him potentially immortal while all he loves will eventually die; outer, a Japanese business magnate, Yashida, whose life Logan saved almost seventy years ago at Nagasaki, not understanding that reality – though he thinks he does – striving from his death bed to steal that potential for eternal life for himself. Add a large dose of family and political conflict as well as conflicting issues of love, loyalty, and honor in the exotic locale of Japan and you end up with what I think is perhaps the best story of any of the X-Men franchise.

Cheers! ... and Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 23

Library-Bound Comics: Grant Morrison's New 52 Superman in Action Comics; “Retroboot” Legion of Super-Heroes; and Young All-Stars

A few weeks ago (Monday, 1 July), I received a box with my four most recently library-bound volumes of comic books, which I had sent off to Herring & Robinson Bookbinders about three months ago. I had been looking forward to this shipment for some time, because it contained what I consider one of the highlights of DC Comics' New 52 “reboot” that launched in September 2011 with the appearance of the new Action Comics #1, featuring Grant Morrison's revisionist version of the origin of Superman and his earliest adventures. Also included were two volumes completing the pre-New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes as well as a single-volume collection of the full run of Roy Thomas' Young All-Stars sequel to All-Star Squadron.

Tuesday, July 16

Comics Other Than DC – August 2013

Reviews, commentary, general reactions, and random notes on comics by publishers other than DC that were released during June (mostly) that I received near the beginning of July. Caution: Spoilers ahead! [Link to previous month] [Link to this month's DC Comics]

It seems that my monthly purchases from Dynamite Comics are dwindling away, but I'm branching out slightly with some upcoming purchases from other publishers besides the 95%-plus that are always DC Comics. So I've decided to rename this monthly round-up post to include all of them rather than potentially have two (as this month) or even three single-comic posts.

For a post logo I've “repurposed” a slightly edited logo from a venerable Silver Age Marvel title, Not Brand Echh!, whose tag line used to say, “Who says a comic book has to be good??”  (Any implication regarding the current state of affairs with DC Comics is intentionally subtextual....)

Friday, July 12

DC Comics – July 2013 New 52 Month 21

Reviews, commentary, general reactions, and random notes on the DC Comics that were released during May that I received near the beginning of June. Caution: Spoilers ahead! [ Link to previous month ]

Here I am, back again, a little late because we had our family vacation at the beginning of June which put me behind getting and starting to read my May-released comics. Then, by the time I finished the Man of Steel post (link) I was a bit blogged out.

And, not really meaning to start out on a downer (again), because there are a lot of things I liked in the comics I read, the various news items that hit in the past month or so make me less and less able to get excited about DC Comics as a brand. Particularly damning was yet another disheartening creator rant, another creator basically walking out and telling DC (and Marvel) “A pox on all your houses!” (link) This time it's Paul Jenkins, who wrote Batman: The Dark Knight for a while after David Finch figured out writing is a lot harder than it looks as well as Stormwatch after Paul Cornell left that title. Whether or not I really cared that much for what he wrote, in either case, is immaterial – something is dreadfully wrong there. A company can't piss off that many creators otherwise. Where there's smoke....

Wednesday, July 10

House of Steel: The Honorverse Companion (2013)

By David Weber with BuNine

2013 is a big year for fans of the Honorverse series of military space opera novels. Earlier this year came Shadow of Freedom (link); already out at the time of this writing (and in fact I've already started reading it) is the sixth volume of short stories and novellas written by David Weber and friends, entitled Beginnings; and with autumn will come the third of the new “Young Adult” Star Kingdom novels, Treecat Wars. This present volume, House of Steel, was, according to an afterword, conceived in conjunction with the twenty-year anniversary of the first appearance of Honor Harrington, On Basilisk Station in 1992, and contains as about a third of its length a substantial novella featuring the father of the current Manticoran Queen Elizabeth III, King Roger III, with the balance comprising a long-awaited in-universe guide to the Star Empire of Manticore, its staunch ally the Protectorate of Grayson, and their respective militaries that figure so prominently in the series.

Wednesday, July 3

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006)

By Max Brooks

Compelling. That is the word I keep coming back to in describing this book both to my son, who is interested in reading it, and the friend who gave it to me when he discovered I might be interested in reading it as he was about to donate it to the library.

I'm not really that big into the zombie genre, although I do follow The Walking Dead on TV (not in the comics, though), and thought Zombieland to be quite amusing. Really, though, I think those are the only examples of zombie fiction I've ever followed in any medium, other than incidental appearances in stray episodes or issues of series I was already into. Mindless predatory ambulatory corpses as a plot device in horror/thriller stories just never appealed to me in and of themselves. Zombieland is of course a satirical send-up of the genre, with its own appeal (and Woody Harrelson. And Emma Stone). What attracted me to The Walking Dead TV series – not immediately, I might add, but as a result of good reports from colleagues – was the focus not on the “mindless predatory ambulatory corpses” but rather the “survivors,” and in fact I seem to recall that comics creator Robert Kirkman has indeed said that they are the true “walking dead” in the story he's telling. At least in the case of the TV series, the focus on a small group of people fighting for their lives on a day by day basis in a world of virtually unimaginable horror makes for some really gripping story-telling.