Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Comics Round-up

My Twitter followers are already quite familiar with my #SundayComics tweets, in which I live-tweet my way through my current stack of single issue comics to be read. I started doing that about a year ago when I realized my backlog of stuff that was showing up in my subscription drawer at my Friendly Local Comics Store (the awesome Heroes Only) but not getting read was getting out of hand. Since I was already making a small name for myself as a comics critic/reviewer, people were always asking me what I thought of this book or that, and so this seemed a way to share my enjoyment of what I had with at least that part of my Twitter following who were interested in, or at least curious about, what the world of comics has to offer these days.

But tweets are ephemeral, as my good friend and occasional publisher Ommus pointed out when I first started doing this. He encouraged me to find a way to preserve and aggregate them. Yeah, great idea, I'll see what I can do...

But I tweet a lot, and not just about comics, even on Sundays. There's a lot to comb through there, even with the #SundayComics hashtag to help (though as of recently that is no longer a help, since Twitter messed with its integrated search and made it useless. That might just be for those of us who have dug in our heels and resisted the bloated horror that is #NewTwitter, but it's still a major inconvenience that cripples a service that I love). So weeks, then months went by and I was still just tweeting into oblivion -- except, of course, in that my tweets have led to some fun interactions and conversations, as I'll share a bit below.

But so enter FriendFeed, which I've been using and shunting my twitter feed to for quite a while just because it hangs onto stuff longer, and my oh duh moment this morning when I was trying to catch myself up on the story so far in one of the comics I was resuming after way too long since I'd read the prior issue. And because FriendFeed is not infected with bloat and spam and other clutter, voila! It's very easy for me to harvest those tweets.

But to make this more of a reader friendly entry, I shall expand on those tweets a bit. So get ready (note: to spare your eyes a lot of pound signs, I've slashed out the hashtags from the individual tweets).



Malignant Man is published by Boom! Studios; written by James Wan, in what I believe is his major comics debut, and Michael Alan "Zombie Tales" Nelson; and drawn by Piotr Kowalski in what appears to be his American debut. All three are new to me, since I missed Zombie Tales.


Alan Gates, a cancer patient with a terminal diagnosis, is resigned to his fate...until he discovers that his tumor is actually a mysterious parasite! Granted a second lease on life and incredible, otherworldly powers, Alan must fight against an evil army buried beneath society's skin, all the while unlocking the secrets of his forgotten past. -- from Boom! Studio's site for the comic


Grabbing from the #SundayComics bag more or less at random, I have Issue 4 of #MalignantMan. Paranormal powered tumors FTW XD

MalignantMan is pretty interesting to read with this week's speculations on cancer as new, mutant species in mind

Why just have a fist when you can have a FISTFUL OF LEAD? XD Also: yuck!

Interesting tactics with the sphere. Also: yuck!

Rather matrix-y panel full of bad guys in suits. "He WAS expecting us." XD

Classic mentor and former protege confrontation. A little stale..

OK, but the thing with the bullets is very cool.

Ah, and so The End is just the end of this first serial. Must pursue the weirdness back to its origin eventually.

Not 100% sure that I'm on board for another story, though. It's cool but I'm not sure it's THAT cool.


Issue 4 brought the story up to kind of a predictable conclusion. As I tweeted, the mentor or creator/former protege or creation thing has been done to death; it's just the twist, that this guy's tumor gave him regenerative and other paranormal powers, that's new. What really kept me sticking around was the art; I hope Kowalski, who seems to have had a decent little career in Europe, gets a chance to do more here, if such is his desire. He's good with action and with creepy crawlies and gives these characters way more personality than the script, which really has kind of petered out, did.



Published by Radical Comics. There are too many fingers in this pie to mention. Click on the link above to see. Like a lot of Radical's books, this is basically a movie pitch, so one guy (film director Darren Lynn Bousman, he of Saw II fame) came up with the concept and another the story and two other guys wrote it and lots of people worked on the pencils and inks and I'm tired just writing this paragraph.


From director Darren Lynn Bousman comes a chilling supernatural tale set in the cold beauty of Middle America. After a brutal massacre takes place in a mansion, real estate agent Richard Ashwalt is assigned the impossible task of cleaning the blood-soaked grounds. When a twisted old man journeys to the house with a sinister and terrifying purpose, Richard is drawn into a web of shadows, murders and massacres that will shatter him to his very core… and make him run for his life. -- from Radical's website

Basically, the twisted old man has lived for at least 100 years and goes around buying properties where particularly grisly murders have taken place. He then removes the actual part of the house or grounds where the deed was done and spirits it away; as Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs sought to make a dress out of women's skins, creepy Mr. Crone is building a house out of crime scenes. Pretty cool concept...


This creep has built a house out of snatched pieces of other crime scenes. What happens now?

Abattoir is an intriguing mess. And so is this finale.

I have a weird-ass sympathy for Crone in this late hour.

Ew. Gross. Wait, what?

A little underwhelmed with that finale.


What I said in that last tweet: I'm a little underwhelmed. Which is a pity, because I started out liking this comic. The slow build to the discovery of what Crone was doing was pretty well handled, and the truth came as a surprise. The art was always pretty much just so-so; Radical is evolving a house style that aims at photorealism, probably because, as we know, Radical is mostly making movie pitches in comic book form; it's only when someone like Steve "Hotwire" Pugh gets involved or, as in Radical's first book Caliber, they bring in an established comics artist like Garrie Gastonny, that we get visual standouts (but oh, when we do, we really do. Go have a look at Hotwireespecially. I reviewed it in detail for Indie Pulp last year. But anyway, my attention was theirs to lose, for Abattoir, and they lost it. See that tweet where I just said "Ew, gross. Wait, what?" I have no memory now, just a few hours later, of what made me say that, nor do I recall why exactly I was feeling sympathy for Crone. And -- and this is what is important -- I can't be arsed to go look again right now because I don't care all that much and I have more interesting things to share with you. Moving along.


THE CREATORS Hellboy comes to us from Dark Horse Publishing and is the brainchild of Mike Mignola. Google him and Hellboy too, for that matter, if you don't know of them. I'll wait. Meanwhile, this issue was written by Mignola, penciled by Duncan Fegredo, and colored by Dave Stewart. These are all also big names; Hellboy is big stuff. You may have heard of a film or two by Guillermo del Toro (though I, for one, shudder at the second one, though mostly because of the ludicrous inclusion of Barry Manilow tunage, ironic in intent, intolerable in actual presence).


While Hellboy makes one last stand against the Queen of Blood the war between the forces of good and evil rages on the battlefield with heaps of dead monsters and knights! - from Dark Horse's website.

Basically, Hellboy has been established as King Arthur's heir and is combatting various evil forces out of Arthurian legend and Celtic mythology -- which is exactly the kind of stuff for which I love this comic.


Hellboy next. With loads of @duncanfegredo. Happy sigh

Oh, there's gonna be a dragon? Yes, please.

"Your fall should be like the fall of mountains... But I was before mountains." Positively Lovecraftian!

Sigh. That poor, poor cathedral.

Oh that poor bridge. And those poor buildings.

Dude. Enjoying the hell out of this Arthurian/Nordic heap that is this arc.


As you might guess from my clucking over the fate of the buildings, this was an action-heavy issue. A cathedral, the Leicester Council offices, and Edinburgh Castle took a beating. The colors were glorious and the fight between Hellboy and the current big bad, who as you see liked to trash talk, was equally so. This book is famous for a reason and the torch is still being carried proudly. I was thrilled with it.

But that's not all!

See, Duncan Fegredo is on Twitter. And he saw my starting tweet, with my happy sigh. And he responded with the hope that I would enjoy it. And because, what the hell, you never know, and because I have interacted with him a bit before on Twitter, I tweeted him back, teasing him about how mean he'd been to all those buildings. And soon we were having a very enjoyable conversation and joking about how Hellboy must employ an amazing army of contractors to repair all that damage because as far as I know all of those buildings are intact already/again, and how he also must have hellacious tailoring bills for all the overcoats that get trashed and, you know the kind of silly conversations that can happen about comic books. And it lasted well into my other tweets about other comics and was altogether delightful. So here we have a textbook case of why Twitter makes comic books more fun. It's like a letters column with instant gratification and sometimes, repeat contact. How do you think I know exactly which buildings got trashed? The artist himself told me. Simply awesome!

B.R.P.D.: Hell On Earth: Monsters #1


B.R.P.D. is another Dark Horse book, a spin-off of Hellboy, also created by Mike Mignola. This issue, though, was written by one of those trusted helpers I spoke of above, John Arcudi. It's also the debut issue of artist Tyler Crook, with whom we are greatly pleased; colors by the great Dave Stewart.


While the Bureau's off fighting giant bat-eared beasts in Texas, Liz Sherman is kicking hillbilly ass in a trailer park! - from Dark Horse's website

B.P.R.D. stands for Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, a government agency and Hellboy's sometime employer. Many freaks of nature and supernature work for it, including Liz, who is a firestarter and who has taken her training as a sort of supernatural cop very seriously as we soon shall see.


So hey, why not follow that up with a look at the latest BRPD that I have. Looks like Liz in Redneck Central. Hmm

Wow. Did she just break a dude's jaw with her foot? Apparently so.

If I could do that, I would probably go to a lot more bars. So it's probably for the best that I can't XD

Oh, dude. Come on. This is the Mignolaverse. You think that frog you kicked was just a frog?

Um, wow. And gross. And wow. Sick Bastard Is Sick.

Aw. Poor broken jaw guy!


Very little can ever really be taken at face value in this comic, and that was certainly true here. Crook obviously had a lot of fun drawing these hillbillies and their icky homes, and gave them a lot of personality -- especially the big guy whom Liz kicked in the face early on, who totally seemed to deserve it at the time but later, in a neat story turn, garnered my sympathy. Not a totally unexpected development by that time, but still nicely handled. And note this contrast: where I couldn't be bothered to go back and see what grossed me out in Abattoir, I could sure as hell tell you in excruciating, gory detail, without having to look again, what got to me here. I won't, though; go get the book your own dang self.



The Last Mortal comes to us from Top Cow's Minotaur imprint and represents the comics debut of writer Thomas Mahoney, working from ideas by Filip "Witchblade" Sablik. Thomas Nachlik is the artist and is simply blowing me away with his sketchy lines and fantastic and stark black and white work.


Immortality is the most sought after gift in human history. When does it become a curse? When the only thing you want to do is die. Alec King is a small time criminal and three time loser. When he gets his partner and best friend killed, he tries to commit suicide and finds out the hard way that he can't die. Now he has to find a reason to keep living. - from Top Cow's website

This is basically a revenge story. Both Alec and his best friend were supposed to die in a staged botched assassination, but of course Alec didn't die, as some people are about to find out here in Issue #2.


On to Issue 2 of #TheLastMortal. Amused by the "story so far" on the inside cover.

"Shooting yourself in the head sucks. Waking up afterwards is infinitely worse" As is graphic B&W puking XD

Setting this in a train yard turns this into a weird riff of Vertical Features Remake. Freight cars every panel.

Really digging the line work in this. Thomas Nalchik. Go Thomas!

I like the Jack Daniels roll here. Everybody's done it.

And WOW with the expressionistic violence.

College flashback now? Really? Um, okay.

These characters have awesome taste in music.

Just once I'd like a mysterious ability story not to feature a whole secret cabal of people with it. Sigh.


Man, oh man do I love what Nachlik is doing here (yeah, I spelled his name wrong in the tweet). This is stark black and white (as in no grey tones) at its finest. The train car backgrounds are just heavily shadowed enough so many panels have strong, broad vertical lines that make the visual suggestion that everybody is already in jail. Nachlik's figures are done with contrastingly fine lines that remind me weirdly of those intricate drawings that were in, I think, Highlights for Children when I was a kid that were all done in one line (the challenge being to follow that line all the way to its unexpected stopping point). It's really this art that is selling me on this book, which is not to say that the story is bad, it's just not extraordinary so far -- my disappointment at the suggestion at the end of the book that Alec might not be the only immortal out there and is either going to join or be hunted by a bunch of others was real and may be slightly colored by having just read Malignant Man about an hour before but still, that got a meh from me. Had it not been accompanied by such wonderful eye candy I might have been angry.



This one's from Image Comics, my go-to house for good stuff. The story is by Viktor "Heavy Metal" Kalvachev and Andrew Osborne, with art by Kalvachev, Toby Cypress (whose done everything from Batman to X-Men to Star Trek, but whom I chiefly did for the issue he did of C.B.G.B and Nathan Fox.


A powerhouse team of Hollywood and comic book veterans (along with special guest artists) presents a fast, funny, 100% cool new series for readers of all stripes. On the mean streets of Los Angeles, an alcoholic hit man and a desperate starlet dodge Russian mobsters, Italian gangsters, ninjas, hippies and the L.A.P.D. in a scheme to steal millions from a psychotic action movie hero. - from Image's website.


Another deliciously OTT lurid pulpy cover.

Reading the little recap at the beginning and suddenly I'm thinking of Southland Tales. What a hot mess THAT was.

LMAO at the Russian-dominated film set.

"Why for you sabotage my film debut?" XD

Moviemaking as money laundering scheme. Would be surprised to learn this is not a real thing XD

That's a ridiculous place to put a cell phone.

Amusing as #BlueEstate is, I don't feel too motivated to dig deeper into it online. Too many other floppies! Next!


Blue Estate is so Hollywood I'm surprised it didn't come from Radical. This is straight up pulp-y crime with a gloss of glamour and, in the form of Russian gangsters who are making a movie starring the boss's girlfriend as a money-laundering scheme, very trendy villains. All of Image's marketing stresses that it is 100% cool and, well, therein lies a bit of a problem I'm having with it as it goes on. It's trying, a lot of the time, a little too hard to be cool. It's so arch. It's so hip. It's so tongue-in-cheek lurid. The ridiculous place to put a cell phone? The front of a woman's bikini bottoms. And it's vibrating. Like that. So trashy I need a shower. But I'll probably keep reading, just to watch what might well be a great slapstick ending.



Dollhouse was, of course, originally a TV show created by Joss Whedon, about which I had a thing or two to say when I first started up this blog. In what has become a tradition for shows that only ever found a cult audience on the Devil's Fishbowl, the story is being concluded more properly and at a more leisurely pace in comics form; in effect we're to accept it as Season 3 of the show, or beyond if it continues. Joss didn't do any of the writing here that I'm aware of, but his brother Jed, who was one of the writers on the show, joins fellow alum Andrew Chambliss and Maurissa Tancharoen (who helped bring another Whedon creation, Dr. Horrible, to comics) in penning this. Cliff Richards, a pro with heaps of superhero and other stuff under his belt, has the pencils here.


The fight for free will starts now! Alpha was the perfect product of Rossum Corporation's mind-altering technology, until he snapped, burdened by the dozens of personalities they'd downloaded into his brain. Now the technology has gone viral, turning the entire population into murderous automatons, and it's up to the psychotic Alpha and a small group of survivors to save mankind.

Basically, someone, probably the evil corporation, has taken rogue the technology it once used to wipe the minds and memories of attractive people who agreed to work as "dolls" and imprint them with new personalities and skill sets to please the clients of the Dollhouse. Not only that, but the tech has gone viral, as depicted in those weird flash-forward season finales of the show. The comic is, I gather, going to fill in the gaps between the regular show and those "epitaphs."


Haven't bothered with the Buffy or Angel comics but love the Serenity ones, so giving #Dollhouse a try

Off to a nicely creepy start in a telemarketing tank

Nice! Matrix-style skillz uploads! William Gibson territory FTW

Multiple Ivies. And they went there. "I'm hooking up with myself?"

So I am intrigued by the "Wielders" and their mysterious directives. And Alpha is still fascinating.


This is a great looking comic, faithful to the appearance of actor Alan Tudyk, who played Alpha in the series, but not slavishly so. The overall impression, visually, is that it is pro work -- so mostly, I don't notice it and I'm just there for the story, which is unfolding nicely. We're not yet into what promises to be a quest narrative to find Echo, the heroine of the TV show; it's a marshalling of forces and Alpha and his many personalities are making due and assessing the real horror of the situation, which is grim. Intercut with Alpha's scenes is a capsule story of how the tech starts going viral; a nasty electronic tone is robocalled into a telemarketing center and everyone who answers the phone gets zapped. But they're neither zombies nor homicidal maniacs (the two basic kinds we saw in the TV episodes), but something new, with a directive that involves building devices out of whatever crap they find lying around that spread the imprint and the directive. Scary stuff. I'm in!


OK, I hate entering stuff in HTML and making all of these links and embedding images is way more work than just writing so I'm breaking off here for now. I'll do Sunday Comics 2: Electric Boogaloo, tomorrow. Comics nerd's honor.

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