jeudi 27 décembre 2007

Upcoming Marvel comics

Dec 28
Tomorow gets released the Daredevil Omnibus Frank Miller Companion. This is a must-buy. Actually it's way better than the original volume. As much as I enjoyed Miller and Janson, they're no match in the art department with Mazzuchelli, Sienkeiwicz, Romita Jr and Al Williamson (possibly the best inker in comics bar none) and I hope that Marvel will make an Omnibus (or even a Marvel Visionaries) of Nocenti, Romita Jr and Williamson fantastic run.

Battling Jack Murdock is collected. An above average series worth looking.

Marvel Masterworks: Human Torch 2. I'm not a fan of the Golden Age, which I find too crude for my taste but considering this volume has Human Torch vs Sub-Mariner, guest appearances by Ka-Zar, the Patriot and the Angel and the talents of Bill Everett, Mickey Spillane and Basil Wolverton and covers by master Alex Schomburg, it must be worth it.

Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man vol 5. It's the second edition by Romita. I believe Romita was much better when he came back on the character after the Buscema and Kane runs. But still, it's a classic.

January
Essential Power and Iron Fist. A classic team-up book of the 70s. Only Cable and Deadpool has continued that tradition. The mix of two legacies was always interesting. With their membership in the Avengers and the success of Immortal Iron Fist by Fraction and Brubaker, this is truly an essential collection (plus early appearances by Sabretooth for his fans - Sabretooth started as an Iron Fist opponent).

Avengers West Coast: why this collection? John Byrne? It was not so good, nothing classic. Not bad either.

Essential Captain America vol 4. Most of these stories already exist in collected color volumes. This is where Steve Englehart wrote some of the most challenging stories of Captain America that have influenced the top writers of today like Alan Moore and Kurt Busiek. It's more than worthy material. And vol 1 is reprinted as well, a must-buy as well.

This is the month of the new Captain America. Everybody has been expecting the return of Steve Rogers but the brillaint part is that he will stay dead.

Nextwave: Agents of Hate vol 2. A must have. When most of today's comics are decompressed (telling in six issues what used to be told in one or two, a manga influence) this one is compressed like Dan Slott's She Hulk (and as funny). The humor makes it as great as the 60s Stan Lee Classics.

Essential Marvel Saga: it's always surprising to see Marvel reprinting all these reference books. They already publish reference books now: the Marvel Universe Handbook, the Marvel Spotlight issues, the (whatever big event) Files. But I guess that's part of their strategy to exploit every era of comics in order to interest every readership. They even made Handbooks of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, which were enjoyable (not the 90s one). The previous Essential Handbooks were handbooks of the 80s so the handbook of the 80s was unnecessary. What about a handbook of the 40s, 50s?

Thunderbolts Faith in Monsters: a must-buy.

Hulk Visionaries Peter David Vol 5: a must-buy, especially as it's by Dale Keown.

Master Masterworks: Daring Mystery. Even if it contains characters appearing in the upcoming series the Twelve (starting that same month, good thinking), it's an unlikely buy. They don't even tell us who are the writers and artists.

There's a reprint of the Silver Surfer Masterworks vol 1. The best of Buscema and Lee.

Uncanny X-Men vol 6 Classic stuff by Claremont, Byrne, Cockrum.

Thor Visionaries Walt Simonson vol 5, the last one, ending with the fatal battle vs the Earth-Serpent, an accurate end to Simonson's run. (I enjoyed the De Falco/Frenz run that followed and think it deserves reprinting)

February
ClanDestine returns. Alan Davis is a modern master and always worthy as an artist. I don't like the concept as much though. The collection of earlier stories comes at the same time.

Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure. A rejected story is now put together. Don't expect a masterpiece, just the last chance to see a Lee-Kirby-Sinnott FF story. Who would pass it up? We're lucky that Lee and Sinnott are still alive.

Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch start on the FF. To check.

The finale of Astonishing X-Men is here. This has been the best X-Men comic for the last years probably because it was outside the continuity of the other X-titles.

House of M Avengers ends that month. A very good series by Christos Gage which displays his knowledge and understanding of Marvel 70s characters.

By contrast, Joe Casey has failed so far in his retake of 60s Iron Man in Enter the Mandarin.

Essential Avengers vol 6. More Steve Englehart's greatness.

Marvel Fantare gets reprinted at last. Some very good stories.

Wolverine Origins vol 4 Our War; AT last a good story for this title. Granted this is more a Captain America and Bucky story with Nick Fury, Hydra and Strucker. Everybody who loves Captain America shoud own that one.

Masterworks Ant-Man/Giant-Man vol 2: considering that feature was cancelled, don't expect a masterpiece. But still better than many things published today. For Silver Age fans only.

Uncanny X-Men Masterworks vol 2: a must.

Punisher Max vol 4 collects issues #37-49. Not to be missed.

Franklin Richards: Collected Chaos. Inspired by Calvin and Hobbes and not as great but very enjoyable in itself.

Howard the Duck Omnibus. When Marvel released that Essential volume in 1997, who would believe these stories would be reprinted in color one day? That day has arrived. Incredible as that character is not the most popular. The recent miniseries was disappointing.

Atlas Heroes vol 2 is the second part of the unsuccessful revival of the three biggies of Marvel. Everett gave his definite incarnation of Sub-Mariner but John Romita looked very different on Cap than on his later Marvel work. Only for die-hard fans (I would gladly buy it for half-price)

March
A new Franklin Richards story: Yay! more humor in Marvel titles.

A story by Ennis and Chaykin about the Phantom Eagle. Well, it's the only chance to write a war story these days: using a Marvel or DC war character.

Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle gets reprinted, one of the few times when Iron man was great. By Michelinie, Romita Jr, Layton.

Captain America Masterworks vol 4. It has very good John Romita/Sal Buscema and Colan/Sinnott art. It's the period when the Falcon becomes a frequent guest start but the strip is mostly without direction.

Essential Marvel Handbook Master Edition. One wonders who buys all these various editions of the handbooks. At least it's an interesting view of the Marvel Universe at a given time for the historian.

Iron Man: Doomquest, more stories by Michelinie, Romita Jr, Layton.

Atlas Era Tales to Astonish vol 2: I really like these early tales by Kirby and Ditko.

Marvel Masterworks Silver Surfer vol 2 reprint: the second part of that undying classic run.

dimanche 23 décembre 2007

Super-Villain Team Up

I had fond memories of that title and I bought the Essential collection. As a European, I may be more interested in stories featuring villains than Americans. This is a long tradition in Europe: Fantomas, Arsene Lupin, Diabolik, The Spider. Even le Comte de Monte Cristo is ambiguous. Marvel had tried the potential of Dr. Doom for a long time: he was the feature of his own story in Fantastic Four Annual #2, then in Marvel Super-Heroes #20. His half-feature in Astonishing Tales has beautiful art by Wally Wood but uninspired script by Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber. There was an inspired story by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan in #8 that highlighted the tragic dimension of the character who wants to save the soul of his mother from hell but it was too late. Hos co-feature Ka-Zar had proved more successful, probably due to the revival of pulp stories heralded by Conan, and would take over the whole magazine.

In 1974, Roy Thomas would herefore launch a new concept. It was his job as head writer/editor to do so. The Sub-Mariner title had been cancelled (despite a change of costume) with dangling plot lines: all the Atlanteans were in suspended animation, some humans (including Betty Dean) had been turned amphibious against their will, and a beautiful alien called Tamara was stranded on Earth's oceans, the last of her species.

An alliance between Namor and Dr. Doom had been used as a plot ever since Lee and Kirby used it in the first super-villain team-up in FF #6. Roy Thomas had used it in Sub-Mariner #20 and Gerry Conway in #47-49. Roy Thomas had already been behind the use of Sub-Mariner in the Defenders, following from a crossover storyline created when Dr. Strange had been cancelled (after he changed his costume).

So Thomas launched Super-Villain Team-Up. The title would mostly follow the storylines from Sub-Mariner though elements from Astonishing Tales would show up too.

Yet the title's history would be marred with creative musical chairs. Writer/editor Thomas and John Buscema launched the first Giant-Size issue which was mostly made of a reprint of Sub-Mariner #20 (also by Thomas and Buscema) and Marvel Super-Heroes #20 (by Thomas and Larry Lieber). The second issue has horrible art by Mike Sekowsky.

Then the regular series starts with Tony Isabella under editor Len Wein, with a sequence pencilled by Tuska and Bill Everett plus a story by George Evans that probably came from the cancelled Sub-Mariner series (no Dr. Doom mention).

The second issue has pencilers Sal Buscema and Fred Kida as well as the death of Betty Dean. By then Dorma and captain Leonard McKenzie had died. Unfortunately the trend of killing Namor's supporting characters has continued, effectively destroying the character.

Issue 3 has a new writer Jim Shooter under a new editor Marv Wolman (until #7) and the return of penciler George Evans. Jim Shooter's writing has a hard edge to it uncommon in Marvel Comics of this time: Tamara is tortured, Doom murders people, Dr. Dorcas is crushed to death.

Issue 4 has a new writer, Bill Mantlo (who will be one of the most regular but not yet) and a new penciler, Herb Trimpe (who will also be one of the most regular) with inker Jim Mooney who had inked the Sub-Mariner series. There is a link with the Deathlok series and his is one of the most peculiar things of Marvel in the 70s: in spite of the musical chairs, there was a better continuity than in the 80s and later.

In issue 5 arrived new writer Steve Englehart who will stay until 8 (a record). Englehart gets rid of the new Sub-Mariner costume and introduced a Batman doppleganger (the Shroud) probably trying out for DC Comics (where he will indeed do a great Batman with Marshall Rogers).

In issue 6 Englehart introduced politics in that the US signs a non-agression pact with Latveria so that super-heroes can't intervene there. No writer will expand on Englehart's ideas until Alan Moore in Watchmen.

Issue 8 sees a new editor Archie Goodwin (until #14) and new penciler: Keith Giffen. Steve Englehart leaves which is probably why the title started to crossover with Avengers 154 and 155 (by Gerry Conway, George Perez and Pablo Marcos).

Issue 9 has Bill Mantlo as writer who will stay until issue 14 (a new record) and penciler Jim Shooter. Both are known (with Sal Buscema) for their ability to work very fast, which explains many things.

Avengers 156 is by writer Jim Shooter and artist Sal Buscema (with a plot by Conway) and is the end of that crossover.

With SVTU 10 we have new artist Bob Hall who will stay a regular until the end but little else will be regular. The story has the Red Skull and marks his prominence in the title since he is co-featured with Doom in 11 and 12 (Sub-Mariner is still there). 12 is the last appearance of the Shroud.

In 13 Sub-Mariner is back as a co-feature in a story penciled by guest artist and co-plotter Keith Giffen which marks the end of the Atlanteans in suspended animation subplot. They are revived and the story continues with Giffen in Defenders. This is the end of the alliance between Doom and Namor.

Issue 14 (by Mantlo and Hall) features Doom and Magneto and concludes in Champions 16 (same creative team). The title stops there with a reprint of Astonishing Tales 4-5 (Red Skull vs Doom).

It picks up one year later with the Red Skull and Hate-Monger in a two-part story tying up a lot of loose continuity.

This is the index of writers, pencilers and inkers for this collection. It shows there are mainstays in spite of the musical chairs.

Roy Thomas MSH 20, Sub 20, AT 1-2, GSVTU 1-2
Larry Lieber MSH 20 AT 3-6
Wally Wood AT 1-4
George Tuska AT 5-6, SVTU 1
Mike Esposito AT 5-6 Champions 16
Gene Colan AT 7-8
Gerry Conway AT 7-8, Av 154-156
Frank Giacoia MSH 20, AT 7
Tom Palmer AT 8
John Buscema GSVTU 1, Sub 20
Joe Sinnott GSVTU 1
Vince Colletta MSH 20
Mike Sekowky GSVTU 2
Sam Grainger GSVTU 2
Tony Isabella SVTU 1-2
Fred Kida SVTU 1-2
Bill Everett SVTU 1
George Evans SVTU 1,3
Frank Springer SVTU 1
Sal Buscema SVTU 2 Av 156
Jim Shooter SVTU 3,9 Av 156
Jack Abel SVTU 3,6
Bill Mantlo SVTU 4,9-14 Champions 16
Herb Trimpe SVTU 4
Jim Mooney SVTU 4
Steve Englehart SVTU 5-8
Don Perlin SVTU 5,10-14
Pablo Marcos SVTU 7, Av 154-156
Keith Giffen SVTU 8,13
George Perez Av 154-155
Sal Trapani SVTU 9
Bob Hall SVTU 10-12,14 Champions 16
Peter Gillis SVTU 16-17
Carmine Infantino SVTU 16
Bruce Patterson SVTU 16-17
Arvell Jones SVTU 17

Eternals

I bought the Eternals Omnibus. I didn't read it. I have vague memories of seeing it in Starnge before it was cancelled and then in Etranges Aventures in small black and white. What I can say is that the big size look is gorgeous and perfect for Kirby. I want to buy the Devil Dinosaur Omnibus next as well as the Kamandi Archives and I want a 2001 Omnibus. With the Captain America and Black Panther stories already reprinted, it seems Kirby enjoys more success now than he did on his comeback to Marvel in 1975-1978.

Persepolis

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is part of a recent trend in comics: autobiography. It is full of humanity, little scenes of life. For sure she is not a typical character: growing in a progressive family in Iran, living by herself in Austria while a teenager are not common experiences. I wished my past was as colourful.

comics 20 dec

Deadpool is looking very much like Badger right now. I suppose most people are more familair with Deadpool than with Badger. Badger is a fantastic creation of Mike Baron that was published by First

Comics in the 80s, he suffers from a multiple personality disorder, is a martial artist in reg super-hero tights most of the time and teams up with a druid. So, to all those who would like more of

Deadpool I suggest they buy Badger, which Baron brought back just last month. It's the original zany character. And since Deadpool is about to be cancelled...

In Speak of the Devil, we see Gilbert Hernandez telling us a story about today's youth. It is
surreal. For some reason it reminds me of another middle-aged man, Jack Kirby, featuring youths in 1971's Forever People and New Gods.

Mighty Avengers continues in its experimental trend. Bendis is using thought balloons in a way closer to the way people think. There's the use of character logos appearing in the middle of the story and Frank Cho enjoys himself. His females are gorgeous and have very muscular thighs. This is the true Avengers title.

The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul has been a failure. The bat-titles were very good before but I
expect this crossover to drive readers away. Plus Damian leaves the bat-family. I hope the editors give up on that old idea of making a crossover to increase sales.

I picked up Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin because I'm always interested in seeing classic stories reinterpreted but Joe Casey already messed up with the X-Men and the art is not up to it. Dave Stewart's palette is fine for Conan or Hellboy bot not for super-heroes.

Exiles ends with issue 100. Back in the 70s a few series were cancelled that had Claremont as their writer, a fact that most people don't think about when they consider th eman who created the New X-Men "franchise."

Wolverine Origins 20 concludes the flashback with Captain America and Bucky, the best run of this magazine so far. Daniel Way integrates without a hitch Brubaker's version of Cap and Bucky. To be held as a great Captain America stories.

Captain America: The Chosen has been disappointing. Certainly the art is good but Morrel's script wasn't. It's better this issue, though. We'll see next issue when it concludes.

Justice League 16. Sort of an in-between issue. Prologue to a Tangent crossover. This type of thing has been a tradition for Justice League, so I won't gripe.

Foolkiller 3 is starting the action after two issues of exposition. This is ultra-violence but some
humor would be welcome as well.

Immortal Iron Fist remains a top of the pile book. The flashbacks flesh out the backstory.

Hulk 112 features no Hulk but Amadeus Cho and Hercules on a rampage, with SHIELD, Ares and the Avengers on the pursuit. It seems Angel and Namora are out of the picture but Wonder Man and Black Widow are in. Not quite the Champions but a fun read that weaves mythology in the story.

Red Sonja: hard to believe this sells enough. I generally enjoy to see comics going back to the
themes of my youth (the 70s) but this no Roy Thomas, John Buscema or Frank Thorne. Same comment for Savage Tales.

Superman 671: the new dynamics of Superman with his wife and his son, with the reinroduction and modernization of the Silver Age greatness make it one of teh best superhero titles.

X-Men crossover Messiah Complex includes everything classic element: The Reavers, The Marauders, Reverend Stryker, Sentinels. I guess the feeling of deja vu comes from there.

In She-Hulk Peter David keeps the title interesting by doing a 180 turn. There is a skrull and she's not a spy, apparently. There are also a number of new supporting characters, 3 or 4, depending on who is supposed to come back and maybe one should wonder if one is a skrull.? Anyway, intelligent writing.

Army@love is one of the best comics currently published.

Spider-Man Family present two new stories in a carytoony style: one taken from Walt Simonson's run on Thor in the 80s and the second like a Marvel Team-up story from the 70s. There are then two reprints by Ross Andru, an Amazing Spider-Man story with the Green Goblin and a Christmas Marvel Team-Up story.

Doctor Who Classics present stories from 1979 by Pat Mills, John Wagner and Dave Gibbons. You know you will have quality with such a line-up.

The Twelve #0 previews the new comics series reviving twelved Golden Age heroes. I found JMS and Weston's thinking behind their redesign to be interesting. The Golden Age stories in issue #0 were more curiosities than anything else: the Basil Wolverton art. It was also interesting for Marvel to make use of the 40s hero in modern times. Since Captain America had had more than ten years in the recent era over at Marvel there wasn't much of a culture shock left. This culture shock is worth telling about: I know people who live in sects since the early 90s. They never used internet nor a mobile phone.

dimanche 16 décembre 2007

More comics

New Avengers 37. To be concluded hopefully in the coming annual.

Punisher War Journal. Vs Kraven. Now this is a good idea.

BPRD Killing Ground concludes this week. Great comics.

Lone Ranger, nothing remarkable.

Bat Lash: Needs to be seen just for the John Severin art, for a man at 86 his hand is as sure as ever. Beautiful. Sergio Aragones writes, Walt Simonson on covers.

Suicide Squad is really good. It's a pity DC didn't release the Showcase Presents volume. Ellis stole the idea for Thunderbolts (which is also really good).

Exterminators has reached 24 and it deserves it. With its satire and social commentary, this is an intelligent comics. Now, if they could make a TV series out of it as was originally intended...

Many years ago, DC previewed a new series in New Teen Titans: Captain Carrot and his Zoo Crew. This series lasted 20 issues, quite an achievement. The character comes back with original penciler Scott Shaw! and new writer Bill Morrison. However Morrison doesn't achieve the kind of success he had with Radioactive Man.

X-Men First Class 6 is offering new stories in the style of the 60s.

Batman and Robin 8 has Frank Miller playing loose with everything fans hold sacred. Where it's unusual is that Lee and Williams do not have the caritural style of Miller. We don't expect that kind of storytelling with Lee and Williams.

Garth ENNIS gives us a good start on Dan Dare.

Savaeg Dragon is probably the only super-hero book that reminds us of the solo writer/artist books of the 80s when Miller, Byrne, Chaykin, Grell or Simonson really took hold of a character and did a great job.

Superman Annual 13 has all one could expect from Superman: the humanity, the Krypton mythology.

Jungle Girl 3 is very entertaining. It doesn't take Frank Cho on the script and pencils to make this genre a success. Of course, I could have believed it was Cho doing it all.

The Twelve looks promising. The design work on the characters is very interesting in itself.

The last and best is Green Lantern 25, the 72-page conclusion to the Sinestro Corps War with great previews of things to come for the next two years. This kind of long planning is what makes this series so good. The epilogue comes along with it in Green Lantern Corps 19 as well as the Tales of Green Lantern Corps Special Ion.

samedi 15 décembre 2007

comics 15 Dec

Spider-Girl fete ses dix ans mais ce genre de numéro anniversaire surchargé n'a jamais été une bonne idée.

Wolverine 60 emmène Logan au Japon pour revisiter la série de Claremont et Miller. Chaykin est la bonne personne pour nous faire du style à la Miller (pour être juste c'est plus Miller qui a copié Chaykin).

X-Factor ne ressemble pas à un numéro de la série tant cet épisode est intégré dans le crossover. En tout cas Peter David écrit très bien les autres X-Men.

Claremont concludes his story in Die by the Sword 5. the best thing is the dedication to the Cockrums but even this is out of place as there are none of the characters he created.

What makes Annihilation Conquest so successful is that anything can happen. If any single of the characters had its own series the sort of turnabouts that we experience would not be possible. That said it is not as good as the Sinestro Corps War to which it has been compared.

Foolkiller 2 shows Omega the Unknown and Man-Thing the two Steve Gerber series from the 70s that created the Foolkiller but otherwise there is none of Gerber's quirks to be found (well, very little).

Dans Love and Rockets 20 on apprend que trois personnages sont morts: Gato, Sergio et Doralis. Seul gilbert Hernandez fait des choses pareilles. Quant à Jaime il nous livre une histoire qui nous ramène à Mechanics ainsi qu'une histoire de Maggie quand elle était enfant.

The Spirit 11 has zombies. This doesn't fit well with the Spirit. Maybe the author is trying to tell us something.

lundi 10 décembre 2007

comics 10 déc

My last post was lost (sigh). So instead of trying to make one post a week, I'll make shorter ones.

Usagi Yojimbo 107 is putting together a number of characters and earlier threads. We also see a one-page bonus: Usagi vs Groo with a clear winner.

In Foolkiller 2, we learn the origin of the main character. We also get to see issues of Man-Thing and Omega the Unknown, the two series in which Steve Gerber introduced the Foolkiller.

dimanche 9 décembre 2007

Je suis en retard cette semaine, alors je vais devoir faire court.
JLA 15, McDuffie profite (enfin?) du style de Benes pour inclure tout un tas d'allusions sexuelles. Et il ajoute un autre noir à l'équipe, ce qui établit un record, je pense, du nombre de noirs dans une équipe traditionnels (4).

Justice Society of America 11 : encore un chef-d'oeuvre de Geoff Johns, qui a cette capacité rare de recréer des personnages. Il suffit de voir ce qu'il fait avec le nouveau Judomaster. Et dans le prochain numéro le nouveau Mister America. Mais c'est le Superman de Kingdom Come avec toute sa dimension tragique qui donne sa profondeur à la série.

Omega the Unknown 3: cet hommage au héros décalé de Gerber commence à prendre ses marques par rapport au matériel d'origine mais le style de dessin n'a pas le réalisme de Jim Mooney.

The Initiative Annual 1: Cette série est nominée sur des forums pire nouvelle série de l'année (et aussi meilleure nouvelle série, allez comprendre). On apprend ici des détails sur l'invasion skrull que Bendis nous a pondu dans New Avengers. Rien de bien intéressant à l'origine mais là ça devient pire: il y aurait un skrull dans chaque équipe de The Initiative. Voilà qui rappelle une série chez DC où chaque série était infiltrée par un Manhunter. Bref du réchauffé en perspective.

Countdown s'éternise mais dans ce numéro on voit apparaitre des concepts de Jack Kirby créés dans OMAC et Kamandi.

Die by the Sword (aussi nominé comme pire nouvelle série) nous sert du réchauffé: Sir Jaspers et the Fury. C'est Claremont qui imite Alan Moore imitant Claremont. Dommage.

Dans Ms Marvel, Brian Reed copie Claremont. Claremont a guidé la destinée de Carol Danvers dans les années 70 quand il a repris la série, puis dans les années 80 quand il a introduit le personnage dans les X-Men. La couverture rend hommage aux différentes incarnations (mais pas à celle de l'agent introduit dans Captain Marvel en 1968 dont personne ne se souvient). En tout cas Reed réussira-t-il à égaler le record du nombre de numéros de la série précédente?

Vinyl Underground est une série Vertigo que je viens de découvrir. Ca fait très série télé.

Crossing Midnight is really good. With covers by J.H. Williams III and colors by Jose Villarrubia, we have some of the people behind Promethea. I missed issue 12 somehow.

House of M Avengers 2 est vraiment une bonne série. Christos Gage est la star montante de Marvel. N'étant ni un fan de House of M ni des Avengers, je n'attendais rien de cette série mais elle plonge dans les personnages des années 70 et les fait briller.

Dans World War Hulk Aftersmash Hercule empeche l'ile de Manhattan de se scinder en deux, une allusion à un épisode de Marvel Team-Up de 1974. (Ai-je lu trop de comics?)