Friday, June 26, 2009

Surfing the Bleed interviews Jennifer's Body creator Ming Doyle.

Me: Hi Ming. Welcome to Surfing the Bleed.

Ming: Thanks for having me, Brett!

Me: Why don't you give the folks reading at home a quick rundown of who you are and what sort of work it is that you do in the industry?

Ming: Well, I'm a freelance illustrator and comic book artist. I usually do my own pencils and inks, and sometimes my own colors as well, and I will draw pretty much any kind of comic. My career hasn't been long yet by any means, but it's certainly been wide-ranging. I've
drawn ghostly middle-schoolers, ex-Confederate cowboys, dysfunctional playwrights and one supremely zombie-plagued superhero.

Me: Can you tell me how it was you first got into art? Were you interested in it from an early age and if so, were your parents fairly supportive of your gift?

Ming: I've loved art since I got to fingerpaint for the first time in pre-kindergarten, and my parents have been unfailingly encouraging in all my creative endeavors since. My mom used to draw with me in a kind of interactive form of simultaneous story-telling and world-building, and my dad was always up for helping me decal jetpacks made from shoeboxes or glue-gunning popsicle planks together to make model ships. Even my grandparents, who are Chinese and come from a very strict and traditional "education first" background, always thought art was the right road for me. I don't know how to account for all this luck, but I couldn't be more grateful for it.

Me: Do you remember your first comic book?

I'm not sure if this was exactly my first comic book or not, but the one that sticks out most in my mind was an issue of X-Men dealing with the "Phalanx Saga." I must've been 9 or so at the time, and the sociopolitical parallels were fairly lost on me. I believe I bought it mainly for the awesome silver holographic cover. I carried it everywhere for months and lovingly copied most its panels in the margins of my math homework. I remember lots of tiny pouches and tinier feet.

Me: Can you talk a little about your education? Did you go to school for art and did you take any classes pertaining to comics layout and design in college?

Ming: I've never formally studied comics, but comics have found their way into most of my studies. I had an art teacher in high school who taught me what panel gutters were when he caught me trying to draw my own shoddy "Blade of the Immortal" fancomic during class. Around that time I also took an illustration summer course at RISD where Lucy Knisley was my only pal and very sympathetic to my new-found preoccupation with Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. A couple years ago I graduated from Cornell University with a BFA in painting and drawing, and all the required life drawing classes have proven indispensably valuable to my subsequent work in funny books.

Me: You've done a lot of design and illustration throughout your career, working for firms such as Amalgamated and publications such as Weird Tales, but your main focus seems to be on comics. Do you prefer comic work to regular design and illustration work? Why?

Ming: If anything, I actually usually enjoy illustration work a bit more over comics because it allows me more time to linger on the little details, which are really my passion. The rushed nature of comics deadlines can sometimes be almost too harrowing to handle, but I stick with them for the challenge and the thrill. And I do enjoy storytelling. My ideal career would eventually reach a perfect work distribution balance between both pursuits, so let's hope I can swing it!

Me: You have a very beautiful, very unique style of illustration. Did you take any inspiration from specific artists when you were building your own style?

Ming: Thank you so much! People have been telling me that my work looks like Paul Pope's, even before I knew who Paul Pope was. I didn't check out his stuff until my senior year of college, and though I'm definitely a fan now I can only think that any comic artist who's a proponent of heavy inking and draws in anything even a bit different from the mainstream style is inevitably going to be filed under the Pulp Hopester category, at least for a while yet. But my formative inky heroes were Leonardo da Vinci and Egon Schiele. I don't know how much their influence shows in my style, but their prolific and stylized sketches were what inspired me enough to even want to form a style of my own in the first place.

Me: You drew a lot of attention for the DC fanfic comics on your website (which are fabulous by the way). Our mutual friend Dean Trippe mentioned to me once that what he likes about working in that universe is that it just feels like home. Working in the DC universe is a very organic experience, you just sort of let the story take you where it wants to go. Would you agree with that? What do you enjoy about working with DC characters?

Ming: I'd definitely agree with that. What I love most about the DC universe is how expansively archetypal it is. It has a character for almost every plight and aspiration mankind's been struggling with or towards in verse since the early days of story, and each DC character is just waiting for the next reinterpretation. It's like a playground in there, an epic, mythic, everyman sandbox with a toy to fit any scenario.

Me: One of the comics on your site that really sticks out to me is Lady Gotham. You give some much deserved attention to a young Martha Wayne, a character most often forced to the background of the daddy issue heavy Batman universe. Being a female creator in an often male-dominated industry, how do you feel personally about the portrayal of women throughout the vast market that is superhero comics?

Ming: "Lady Gotham" is very dear to my heart precisely because there have historically been so few fully realized portrayals of female characters in mainstream comics. There are huge exceptions and that number is only growing, and I love that, but we'd still benefit from more passionate and talented ladies both on the pages and behind the scenes.

That's why I had such fun on "Lady Gotham." I took one of the oldest, most looming ciphers of the feminine in comics and for a few pages, gave her nothing but her own voice. A pretty rare thing!

If seven decades from now there's a fictional woman with as many beloved stories and talented hands behind her as Batman, and with as many female creators propelling her story forward as there have been male creators furthering Superman's adventures, I think that would be lovely. Wonder Woman comes so close that it's easy to just lay everything at her feet and walk away feeling like women have been adequately represented in comics, but she could do with a fair few sister titles for solidarity.

Me: Can you talk a little bit about the projects you're currently working on and what we can expect from Ming Doyle in the near future?

Ming: I'm working on illustrations for a couple of book projects at the moment. I also just finished up the art for a chapter in the "Jennifer's Body" graphic novel, published by Boom! in conjunction with Fox Atomic. The movie, a horror film written by Diablo Cody and starring Megan Fox, won't be coming out until September, but the comic should be in stores in a few months. It's written by Rick Spears, and the other artists involved are Jim Mahfood, Nikki Cook and Tim Seeley. I'm honored to be among such company!

Me: I assume the Jennifer's Body graphic novel will have some pretty gruesome imagery. How do you prepare yourself to draw the kind of over the top imagery so often required for horror storytelling?

Ming: For me it's no stretch at all, since my default subject matter is usually some grotesque assemblage of nightmare images. I do enjoy drawing pretty things as well, but there's something a little more alluring to me about the darker stuff. Maybe it's just because I can go crazier with my linework without giving any serious thought to golden ratios or pleasing proportions. Over the top imagery is playtime!

Me: Could you speak a bit about your journey into comic books and how difficult it's been to break into the industry and find serious, steady work?

Ming: I still haven't found steady work, but my entrance into comics was fairly easy. Straight out of art school I drew a couple of Batman fan comics purely because I wanted to, and posted them online. That put me in touch with a lot of other Batman enthusiasts who also happened to be comic artists and editors. After doing a few anthology pieces for free to get my feet wet, the paid work started coming along in addition to my freelance illustration gigs. Now each project I do seems a little bigger and a lot more daunting than the last, but that's exactly what I signed up for! It's been a couple years already, and I know it might be many more until the work is steady, but I've enjoyed the slow progression. It's given me time to acclimate to each step!

Me: Do you have any advice for young illustrators trying to make their way into this wild and amazing industry?

Ming: Never turn an opportunity down in the beginning unless you absolutely cannot bear to bring yourself to take it, especially when you're only just starting out. Do as many things as you can, even unpaid stuff just to get your name out there and hone your craft. And definitely have both passion and patience! The paying gigs are few and far between in this field and they rarely pay enough for even half your bills, so you have to really love what you're doing and have the fortitude to stick with it to get anywhere.

Me: Okay, last question. If you could work with any collaborator in the industry, who would it be? If you say me I'll give you a cookie. *Wink wink, nudge nudge.*

Ming: Ha, okay. You. It better be chunky chocolate chip! But in all seriousness, even though there are so many talented people in comics and people who I deeply admire, collaboration is a tricky and highly personal variable. You never know who you're going to like working with until you've worked with them. That being said, my career to date has been nothing but nonstop collaboration, and I'm sure there are even more exciting people and ideas around the corner.

Me: Thanks for the time today Ming. We look forward to seeing a whole lot more from you in the near future!

Ming: Thank you Brett, and likewise!

Want to hire the awesomeness that is Ming Doyle? Get in touch with her at

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I am marriaged. I am not paying much attention to the internets.

So I never got around to writing a Grab These Books segment last week. Maybe it had something to do with that massive adventure-themed wedding I was an important participant in. Important as in, the groom. Anyway, I'll drop my pull list for tomorrow on you.

Batman: The Brave & the Bold #6 (for my new 10 year old brother-in-law)
Detective Comics #854
Gotham City Sirens #1
Green Lantern #42
Superman #689
Thor #602
Uncanny X-Men #512
Wolverine: Weapon X #3

I'll be at Bosco's here in Anchorage tomorrow to grab these books. I suggest you get down to your local shop and do the same!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pull List - 06/17/2009

I figured I'd at least go ahead and throw up my pull list for this week since that's easy.

Action Comics Annual #12
Batman: Streets of Gotham #1
Power Girl #2
Supergirl #42
Angel #22
Captain America #600

If you've got the extra scratch this week then I suggest picking up the Batman: The Black Casebook trade as well. DC has decided to collect the 1950s stories that inspired much of Grant Morrison's epic Batman run into a nice new anthology. This looks to be pretty cool. Go grab a copy if you're a fan of the Dark Knight Detective. Who knows, if this sells well enough, maybe DC will do an all new anthology of "black casebook" stories. That would be super sweet!

Wedding Days Are Upon Us!

Grab These Books may have to wait a day or two this week since I'll be traveling to Alaska on new comic day. Futurewife and I will be wed on June 21st and we're going up early to get everything in order. So all day on new comic day I'll be stuck in a giant metal tube with wings. Not my idea of fun, but it's for a worthy cause. If I can I'll get to Grab These Books that night. If I'm too jet lagged, I'll do it on Thursday. Either way, get down to the local shop and get some reading material!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Interview with Robot 13 creators Thomas Hall & Daniel Bradford!

Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford are the masterminds behind Blacklist Studios, the upstart comic book company responsible for bad ass, monster bashing comics KING! and Robot 13. Robot 13 was debuting at this past week's MoCCA fest in NYC so I asked the guys to take a minute out of their busy schedules to answer some questions about their current projects, the future of Blacklist Studios, and the difficulties of making it in the comics industry. Enjoy!

Me: Hey guys. Welcome to Surfing the Bleed!

Thomas: Hello!

Daniel: :)

Me: First off, could you both just give the readers a little back-story on how you guys met and the projects you've worked on together?

Thomas: We met back in 2003. I saw a comic online that Daniel did, and just loved it. I wrote him an email and told him how much I liked it, and we struck up a friendship and decided to try working together. We both have done a few things apart since then, but basically we've been a team since 2003.

Daniel: What Tom said. We've worked on a wide variety of things together, from horror to the comical.

Me: Do you remember what your first comic book was? Can you remember how it affected you the first time you laid eyes on it?

Thomas: My first, first comic book was a copy of Werewolf By Night. Mom took it away from me because there was some stuff she didn't like. Dad let me buy it, but it didn't go over well. The first comic I was really obsessed with was a Hulk comic, though. I just stared at that thing endlessly. My father explained the whole mystery of word balloons to me from that book, and told me that people actually got paid to write comics, and doing that became my dream from that point I guess.

Daniel: I think it was a Superman book. It had something like giant green globby things with tentacles that invaded the planet and Superman had to fight them. I remember thinking, no matter how many times I read it, that Superman wasn't going to make it. No way. Not possible. And then he does it. I also remember how scared I was for the victims in the book. It just totally sucked me in.

Me: The two of you have formed your own publishing company, Blacklist Studios. Can you talk a bit about the decision to self-publish your work and the difficulties and benefits you've dealt with because of it?

Thomas: Well, everything is on us. We have to do all the creative stuff, arranging for the printer, picking up the books, doing publicity... we have help, mind you. Don't get me wrong- we have help. But everything is on us to make sure it happens. And we have to fund it. That's the reality of it- it's hard work all around. I guess the best part is getting our books out there into people's hands. People still want comics. Yes, the economy is bad, and people have less money. WE have less money too, which is why we try to keep the cover prices low... But we know that a good comic has a shot. Doing it ourselves means we don't have to wait for someone to "discover" us. We can make comics NOW.

Daniel: When Tom and I started working together in '03 or '04 we came up with the Blacklist thing just as a sort of identity. I don't even remember what it meant or why we went with it, but it sounded cool. Back then we were looking for a publisher to house our project so it wasn't like we planned on turning Blacklist into a publisher, it's just ending up that way. I'm not even comfortable calling ourselves a new publishing company...technically I guess that's what we are but we're really only publishing our own books. I hope someday we can start publishing other creator owned books, but that's too far down the road to consider. Right now there is a lot more pressure to put something out that is worth those precious few dollars that our readers are holding closer to their chests. And instead of focusing on promoting ourselves as a publisher (like I've seen in the past) we're focusing on promoting the books. The book is what's going to speak on our behalf as creators, not publishers. Be that good or bad.

Me: You guys both live in different cities so the collaboration takes place at a distance. Can you talk about the process of collaboration by distance and how the advent of technology has really opened up the creative process as a whole?

Thomas: Technology keeps it all rolling for us. Email is like an every day thing between us, especially when we have deadlines. And Daniel puts alot of the art on our server for me, so between what we email and stuff I can download, I can see everything he's working on. In the writing process it helps too. I grab a ton of stuff from online, and I order books from the library and find out all kinds of sick information that I use in our books. I have always loved doing research for projects, and the internet makes it SUCH a more efficient process.

Daniel: And it's not like we have a team of artists and editors that we have to maintain a network for or keep track of...everything visual in the book is on my shoulders. The pencils, the inks, the colors, the letters, the logo design, the book design, and especially the mistakes (something goes wrong my wife has to calm me down from the ledge). The only real essential technical need between Tom and I is making sure I get the scripts and he gets the mocks. Email is awesome at making that happen in seconds, as opposed to waiting days for a package in the mail.

Me: Could the two of you talk a bit about your other series, King? Growing up in Middle Tennessee and being a big rockabilly fan, I can tell you that two things I know a lot about are Elvis and wrestling. What was the inspiration for the book?

Thomas: Daniel can tell you about that more in terms of what the book is about, because he bugged me to do KING! for years. I wrote the story, and I brought in some extra elements to it, but so much of it was Daniel. I can say the reason it came about, was we were doing another book for Markosia that was delayed and we didn't know what was going to happen with it. We didn't want to sit around and do nothing, so we decided to do something totally unrelated- Daniel pulled out his designs for KING! and told me, "He's going to kill monsters." Elvis killing monsters. I was sold.

Daniel: Yeah, about him...ha. I've been wanting to do something about a massively ripped Elvis looking guy for the longest time...I think the idea had been floating in my head since middle school. The book is really as simple as it sounds...a former professional wrestler in the Southwest who now fights monsters for a living. He even has these huge blue suede colt .45s. The idea isn't even really about Elvis or his persona, rather it's about a guy who is so badass, so hardcore, so not in his own right mind that he submits to his own inflated ego, to what he is the king of: beating the snot out of anything that threatens his status in the food chain, be that a 7 foot luchador or a 9 foot, horse eating man-goat. He even abandons the name his mother gave him and simply calls himself King.

Me: Now onto the other book, Robot 13. This book is generating a ton of buzz around the net lately. I dare say you guys were one of the most anticipated parts of the MoCCA fest in New York. What's it been like getting this much positive press in advance of the book's release?

Thomas: Oh, it sucks... Seriously, it's a bit humbling to hear such nice things about a book you have worked so hard on. We are glad that people like it, and we hope each issue is that much better than the last.

Daniel: I've been feeling like I'm going to throw up non-stop. I've gotten emails from authors that I've read, artists that I've admired, fans... Honestly, I've been waiting for the other foot to fall but so far so good. I guess you can say I've been in constant flinch mode.

Me: Thomas, there seems to be a great deal of mythological influence on your work. You've spoken in other places about the influence of Mary Shelley and Ray Harryhausen on Robot 13. Can you talk for a moment about the importance of research and of other writers that you draw some inspiration from? Personally, I see a lot of Robert E. Howard wanting to come through here.

Thomas: Robert E Howard is fantastic! I hope that some day I can be a tenth as good as he was. I got stacks of his books at a library sale when I was in High School and just loved them. So anything that might of rubbed off, I take as a complement... As for research- I think the big mistake that writers sometimes make is they think they have done enough. In my experience, it's always good to have way more information on your subject than you'll ever need. Sure, alot of it never makes it to the page, but it gives you such a big box of crayons to color with. With Robot 13, I actually wrote an entire series of scripts that Daniel & I ended up scrapping. We scrapped the whole concept, in fact. All we kept was the title and the fact that I wanted him to fight giant monsters. But I had all my research, and some of it that never made those scripts is being used now. it's great when you find some odd fact and can use it in a story. Maybe 1 out of 100 people will find it or figure out where you got it from, but those little details will make it that much better.

Me: Daniel, similar question to you. Your work on this book is being favorably compared to Mignola. Were the Hellboy books a big influence on your style? What other artists can you point to over the years that have really had an impact on the way you wanted to draw comic books?

Daniel: All through college I studied graphic design and just lost interest in comic books all together but right after I graduated I found myself with a copy of Gotham by Gaslight and I got sucked right back in. I didn't even really know about any Hellboy at the time. But I wanted to know as much about Mignola as my wallet would allow and that led to an interest in many other artists such as Alex Maleev (particularly his earlier work on The Crow), Chris Bachalo, Sean Murphy...but ever since I picked up my first copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark when I as in 6th grade I developed a love for Stephen Gammell that no other artist has ever been able to rival. To me, Gammell is the ultimate horror artist. His art literally rots and goops on the page so beautifully. Can't really tell you how many copies of the Scary Stories series I've torn through, hung on my walls, and cuddled at night.

Me: You've employed a very DIY approach to marketing for Robot 13. Can you talk a bit about the different promotional items you were offering and about the process of generating publicity for your book?

Thomas: We have buttons that glow in the dark, Daniel is doing prints... We are doing some contests with our website too. We try to do things that fans like to draw some interest... alot of our promotion was just hard work, though. Us contacting every website and blog and podcast that we thought might enjoy the book. It's been just tons of contacting people. Leading up to MoCCA, I have been running on 4 hours of sleep a night. It's hard, but you need to put in the hard work to make things happen.

Daniel: I run on about 4 hours as well, but that's because I have 3 kids. Promotion is a terror for me and I try to leave as much of it to Tom as I can. I can't tell you how many people have asked me "what's your book about?" and I'm all "uhh...erm...duuhh...durrrr...." I have a hard time just telling Tom my new ideas. So I just draw something and show it. "What's your book about?" Here, lemme show you.

Me: Breaking into the comics industry is one of the more difficult things a writer or an artist can attempt to do. Can the two of you offer any advice to up and coming creators who are trying to break in?

Thomas: I would say the best thing is to do finished work. If you are writing, find an artist to work with and strive to complete something. And make that "something" a comic that stands alone. Do some 8 page stories, do some one shot books, do whatever you can where a reader can have a beginning, middle and end of the story you are telling. Don't look to do 300 issues or some mega-story. For an independent person, that's just crazy talk. And when you have done your story, get it out there and get feedback. Let people kick your ass a little bit, and tell you everything that's wrong with what you did at first. And they will-everybody sucks early on. It's part of growing. Once you have that feedback, start again. Improve your work by doing a lot of it, and as you get better you will get recognition if you have talent. And don't be a jerk, either. Make some friends who do comics. It's so helpful to have friends in this business. We would be nowhere if our friends didn't give us support and help and the occasional kick in the rump.

Daniel: Yeah. It's rough. The important thing, above talent, is completion. You've got to finish a book. I've met creators that have a list of completed books and even though their art was crap and their writing sucked they had completed books and that will garner far more respect in this industry than a talent that rivals Alex Ross. Talent and skill will grow with experience, so just get those books done.

Me: Finally, what can we expect from Blacklist Studios in the future? Do you have any plans to try and branch out and publish the work of other creators?

Thomas: More Robot 13. More KING!. We have plans for both series. We have some stand alone ideas too, but that is something we will use to fill in if we ever get a break. You can expect each story to be better in some way than the issues before. We love comics, so we want to give people something we'd buy if we were walking down the racks. Something worth the money that you can't wait for the next issue.

Daniel: There is a pretty heavy book called Enlightenment on the back burner right now. The first chapter of that book was drawn several years ago, then re-drawn along with three more chapters, and then it was shelved for the time being. We will be pulling that one back out to finish it hopefully next year. Aside from R13 and KING! we have a number of other titles (all Graphic Novels) that we have been talking about and will get to pretty soon. But first things first. As for other I would love to bring more creators onto Blacklist. We've already been receiving emails with sample art and it just breaks my heart that we can't work with them just yet. God willing in a couple of years we will be able to start accepting submissions, but just not yet.

Me: Well thanks a lot for doing this guys. It's been really great. Keep up the good work!

Thomas: Thanks!

Daniel: Thank you.

You can find Thomas on Twitter here and Daniel here. Robot 13 is available for purchase now at the Blacklist Studios website so go grab a copy today! And don't forget to tell the guys how awesome you think it is once you're done.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Grab These Books!

Just a few quick words about my faves from last week.

Batman & Robin #1 (Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely) - This was the book of the week before I even read it. I don't believe I've ever anticipated the release of a single comic book more than this one. And boy howdy it did not disappoint. In my opinion there isn't a better collaborative team in comics than Morrison/Quitely, and that talent really shines on Batman & Robin #1. Already the book is drawing favorable comparisons to the duos other major DC collaboration All Star Superman, but I'm not sure the comparison is entirely apt. While this book will almost certainly succeed in redefining everything we know about Batman, it already appears to be going into some much darker areas than All Star Superman had to go. But isn't that how it should be? Batman has always been the dark mirror to Superman. What's most interesting about this book already though, is just how bright it is. Morrison has said in previous interviews about the title that he wanted to try and find the good in the campy Batman of the 60s and infuse this new book with it. That means bright colors and lots of action, even when things just beneath the surface are anything but bright and fun. Quitely's pencils on the first issue are some of his best work ever and the colors by Alex Sinclair (though not Jamie Grant) really bring it all home. What's best about this issue though is Morrison's ease with the character. Like many comic fans, it's obvious that GM's been thinking about what a Dick Grayson Batman would be like for a very long time. He's more playful, less rigid, rubber instead of stone. All of which makes him the perfect foil (and mentor) for Damian Wayne, the fiery new Robin. What's great about this book is how comfortable Morrison already is with Damian's voice. In the hands of a less talented writer (Tony Daniel, white courtesy phone) Damian could end up sounding a lot like the arrogant, bull-headed and downright reckless second Robin, Jason Todd. But Morrison understands that being the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Head may make you headstrong and obstinate, but it certainly doesn't make you dumb and reckless. Damian is cool, calculating and reserved, the way a child of such excellent breeding would be. One of the greatest moments in issue #1 occurs just after Alfred has brought lunch to the boys. Dick is ecsatic over Alfred's chicken and jalapeno sandwiches and speaks to him with the ease and comfort one reserves for a favored uncle. Damian is far more rigid. He is polite to Alfred but he quickly dismisses him. Why? The son of Talia Head wouldn't fraternize with the help. Watching how their relationship will grow (and how Damian will hopefully learn to trust Alfred as his father did) will be one of the great joys of this book. And leave it to Morrison to introduce some new evil to the Batman's world. Just like in R.I.P., he's given us some decidedly sinister and frightening villains to fear. I can't wait to see what Pyg and friends have in store for the Dyamic Duo. The back of the issue had a preview section that left me almost as breathless as the story itself. I've read the thing four times now and I'm literally chomping at the bit waiting for the next issue. Great stuff!

Continuing on the DC kick...

Superman: World of New Krypton #4 (James Robinson, Greg Rucka and Pete Woods) - This book is one of my favorites coming out of DC these days and certainly my favorite of the four main Superman titles. The story of Superman living amongst his people gives us a glimpse into Kryptonian lifestyle on a scale we haven't seen since John Byrne was writing the Big Blue Boyscout. This particular issue, which shows Green Lanterns Hal Jordan, John Stewart and Sodam Yat (don't ask about continuity, just don't) show up on New Krypton for a little fact finding mission has some great glimpses of Kryptonian culture. Kal's buddy Tyr, a member of the Kryptonian Labor Guild, gives the GLs a tour around New Krypton that shows off everything from fashion to terraforming. The tour soon turns bloody though, as Kal and his security force, with help from the GLs, have to track down and capture a rogue Kryptonian who has escaped the Phantom Zone. A really great balance of action and exposition, this issue is beautifully rendered by Woods, who turns in his best pencils on the book to date. Lots of cool stuff happens in this issue, including a near conflict between Hal and Zod, some misgivings on the part of Sodam Yat that Kal has left Mon-El in charge of Metropolis in his stead, and a frying pan/fire situation for Supes at the end. More quality stuff from the Superman Family. Also, stay tuned in the back for an awesome preview of Cry for Justice!

Scalped #29 (Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera) - High Lonesome ends with a whimper more than a bang, but it's a resonant whimper nonetheless. Revelation and degradation abound as the latest Scalped story-arc comes to a close. More great work from Aaron and Guera as this series just continues to get better with each passing issue. It's not easy to review this one without giving too much away, so I'll just tell you to get your butts down to the shop and pick it up. This is the best Vertigo book since Preacher. And yes, I have read Y: The Last Man.

My pull list for this week:

Action Comics #878
Flash Rebirth #3
Red Robin #1
Angel: Blood & Trenches #4
Uncanny X-Men #511
X-Men Forever #1

That's it for this week. Get down to your local shop and Grab These Books!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grab These Books!

And heeeeeere we go.

Superman #688 - Mon-El continues to fill in for the absent Superman as Metropolis's appointed guardian. This is my second favorite thread moving through the Superman books right now (World of New Krypton being the first) but this issue felt a little flat to me. Mon-El briefly loses his powers, but then he gets them back, then he finds out he may still be dying? Everything, including the layouts, felt a bit clunky. Still, the New Krypton/World Without Superman stuff is compelling each month, so it's worth reading if you've been enjoying everything so far.

Green Lantern #41 - With each new issue of Green Lantern you can feel the tension building. Issue #41 is no different. The war with Larfleeze escalates and you really get the feeling that maybe some of these Green Lanterns aren't going to get out of this battle alive. The bulk of the issue is Hal vs. Larfleeze in what is as much a screaming match as an actual battle of the light and the cliffhanger Johns gives you at the end is actually pretty chilling. My only issue with this book right now is the art, which I don't think stands out, especially as compared to Ivan Reis's work on the series. But more importantly it's the colors that really bother me. I'm no color theorist, so maybe those of you out there who are can correct me if I'm wrong, but I really feel like none of the color here pops. And on a book where color is the driving force of the story, it should. That being said, it was still one of the best books of the week.

Ghost Rider #35 - If you're a fan of Tony Moore (and you should be) then you'll adore this issue of Ghost Rider. Moore gets to go crazy in almost every panel, drawing increasingly wild and disturbing images as the Skinbender blows through town. But that's about all that you get from this issue. I'm a big fan of Aaron's run on Ghost Rider, but there's just not a lot going on in this particular issue. It's important to the story because, by the end of the issue, Johnny Blaze has found the spirit of vengeance inside of himself and let the Ghost Rider out. That being said, you'd feel like a total heel if you missed the awesomeness that is Tony Moore on this issue. Grab it!

Gotham Gazette: Batman Alive - Unnecessarily "sexy" Vicki Vale imagery? Check. Tim Drake acting like a spoiled mysoginist and treating Stephanie Brown like crap? Check. An obvious set-up for other storylines we'll see in future Batman books this Summer? Check. Nothing actually happening? Check. Yeah, this definitely feels like a Battle for the Cowl tie-in. Skip it.

Batman in Barcelona: Dragon's Knight - This was the best book of my week. I picked it up not really knowing what to expect and I was very pleasantly surprised. Diego Ramos's art on the book is not his best work, but it's good enough not to take the reader out of the story. And that's a good thing, considering Mark Waid has created one heck of a neat little Batman story here. Taking place outside of the current BFtC timeline, this book sets Batman in Barcelona, re-telling the tale of St. George vs. the Dragon with Killer Croc standing in for said beastie. This is maybe the closest a Batman comic has ever come to capturing the mood of the newest Batman films, specifically the Dark Knight. You could easily see Dragon's Knight taking place sometime in between Batman Begins and the Dark Knight. There's just so many neat little additions to the Batman universe here as well, specifically the realization that Bruce Wayne keeps underground "Bat-caves" in major cities all across the world. Why does he do that? Well, it's not easy slipping all that Bat-gear through customs these days. At another point in the book, Batman is pursuing Croc through the streets of Barcelona and the people are as frightened of him as they are of Croc. "...I'm not in Gotham." Maybe in Gotham City they know and trust the Batman, but there's no reason for the people in Barcelona to necessarily. It's little things like this that make Dragon's Knight a very enjoyable Batman story. Definitely pick this one up.

That's all for that. Here's my pull list for this week:

Batman & Robin #1
Scalped #29
Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye #3
Superman: World of New Krypton #4
Irredeemable #3

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