17 November 2008

Destroy the Cyb.org!

I have been invited to post to Destroy the Cyb.org!, another comics review website. I should be posting there once a week, cross posting any reviews that fit the mission of this blog (i.e., any quality comics that are new reader friendly). Most of my reviews for that site will probably be geared more towards comics fans, and will not be quite so nice. If that interests you, go read my first review here.

22 October 2008

G.I. Joe #0

When I was a kid, I was all about G.I. Joe and Transformers. I liked the Transformers toys better, but G.I. Joe had the more interesting characters and the better comics and cartoons. Even today, I couldn't tell you much about Transformers, but I'll never forget The Weather Dominator or Silent Interlude.

That said, I could not wait to buy G.I. Joe #0 when it came out today. It is a taste of the three G.I. Joe titles coming to the comics store next year. The first story is a typical G.I. Joe mission where the team takes down a couple of arms dealers. The second story is a flashback of how Duke was recruited onto the team. Finally, the third story introduces us to Chuckles, an undercover agent assigned to infiltrate COBRA. The comic also includes a sketchbooks of the updated character designs as well as an interview with all of the writers of the titles.

The best thing about the comic, though? It only costs a dollar. $1 for three good stories and some warm, nostalgic feelings sounds like a bargain to me.

Recommended for: people who loved the toys, comics, or cartoons; Call of Duty and Rainbow Six players.
Not Recommended for: anyone who doesn't like soldiers or ninjas.

Invincible Iron Man: The Five Nightmares

Premise: When is upgrading to version 2.0 not a good idea?

For the last few years, Iron Man has been one of my least favorite heroes. Also, I am not as impressed with Matt Fraction as comics fans seem to be. Yet, some of the best comics to come out this year were the Iron Man comics written by Matt Fraction. Go fig.

In December, a collection of Fraction's first six issues of Invincible Iron Man will be released, and it is a perfect companion to the film. Many of the themes that the film touched upon are present here: modern warfare, corporate responsibility, and foreign relations. Also, Fraction brings the playful banter between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts back into the comics after a decades-long absence. Fraction also does an excellent job of highlighting the differences between events as they were depicted in the film as opposed to the comics. Finally, Fraction succeeds in making a character with roots planted firmly in the Cold War relevant in the 21st century.

Even the best comic scripts can be ruined by sub-par art, so Marvel was wise to pair Fraction with Salvador Larroca, who has been doing consistently great work for the last decade. He marries fantastic technology with photorealistic people seamlessly.

So if you missed the comics when they came out, do not hesitate to pre-order this graphic novel at your local comic shop (if you want it in time for the Holidays) or Amazon (if you'll be buying it with Christmas money).

Recommended For:
People who enjoyed the movie, people who keep tabs on current events.
Not Recommended For: rabid MMORPG players, fans of the Open Source Movement (neither of these groups are depicted in a very favorable light).

30 May 2008

Action Comics #865: New Reader Friendly?

My comic-reading friends and I have a term called "continuity porn". If a story appeals mostly to longtime fans and contains numerous references to previous stories, it's continuity porn. It's a term mostly used in comics, but it can also be applied to other media as well (I love LOST, but it became continuity porn about halfway through season 2). It's also the reason I created this blog, to help potential new readers avoid it.

I honestly can't tell if the latest issue of Action Comics qualifies as continuity porn. It's a complete story told in a single issue, which is a rarity for most Superman comics these days. It re-introduces the Toyman after a long absence, and gives new readers a full history of the character. It also casts his previous appearances in a new light, and builds a second-tier Superman foe into a more credible threat. On the other hand, this comic makes it a point to undo a story from over a decade ago. Also, would anybody who isn't a longtime Superman fan even care about a story that focuses on a villain as obscure as the Toyman?

Misgivings aside, I enjoyed this comic quite a bit, and I would recommend that new readers go to their local comic shop, gamble $3 and answer the "continuity porn" question for themselves.

21 May 2008

RIP Rory Root

I'd like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of Rory Root, comics activist and owner of Comic Relief, one of the finest comic stores in America. Rory died a few days ago from complications stemming from a hernia operation.

I visited his store a few times during my visits to the Bay Area, and bought many a graphic novel from his giant booth at the San Diego Comic-Con. Both the store and the booth were always well-stocked, well-organized, and full of knowledgeable, helpful people, not the least of which being Mr. Root himself.

So thank you, Rory, for all you did for my medium. You will be missed.

21 March 2008

Who Is Wonder Woman?

A long time ago, I talked about how much I love me some Wonder Woman. I also lamented the lack of great stories starring this character. Thankfully, DC recently released a collected edition of a story that reinvents and redefines the character for new readers as well as long-time fans.

One of the best decisions DC made is to hire the team of Terry & Rachel Dodson to provide the art for this series. Terry is unparalleled at drawing sexy heroines and sultry villains, but still managing to render them in a tasteful manner, thanks to the influence of his inker/wife, Rachel. Together, they make Wonder Woman (the heroine and the comic) beautiful.

Of course, art this good deserves an excellent story to match. Allan Heinberg does an amazing job taking 65-years of back-story and paring it down into 5 issues of a story that educates new readers, rewards the faithful readers, and takes the character in a new and unexpected direction.

Recommended For: Women who owned Wonder Woman Underoos as children, girls who love the character on Justice League, men who like seeing catfights, women who are turned off by overly exploitative depictions of women in comics.
Not Recommended For: Greek History majors.