Power Girl 19 flat on delivery

Power Girl 19 one sucky comic book

Power girl 19 as written by Winick

It’s a new year and the bin is back. I know you all have been hungering for more comic book reviews and news, but somehow life has interfered again! No more! And for the last time!! Let’s start this year off right and deliver more analysis of our multi-colored fantasies straight off the racks.

Speaking of racks, Power Girl has always had one of the more iconic in all of comics, but if that was the only thing that made her popular, she’d be as flat as the paper her books are printed on… characterization-wise that is, err, well there was no pun intended there honest.

First of all, the cover to this issue makes little sense to me, a generation found? As far as I can tell it’s in reference to the fact that Power girl’s book is written by Judd Winick, the same guy who also writes JL:Generation Lost. I’ve never read that book, but if it’s as bad as this one was, it might be a good thing. Seriously the book begins with a flash-back to a time when Power Girl fought along members of the Justice League International which at the time was run by Maxwell Lord.

You all remember Lord right? Well if you read comics at all, you will recall that Wonder woman snapped his neck, soon after Lord had committed various atrocious crimes including killing off Ted Kord. This book refers to Kord as “the original Blue Beetle” except I’m pretty sure he wasn’t. There was a Blue Beetle running around as far back as the 40s, before Kord, but for DC’s continuity, maybe all things BB start off with Kord.

At any rate, it seems Lord has been busy mind-wiping all the heroes’ memories since the events of Infinite Crisis, or whatever the heck the last DC Crisis was called. She remembers about Lord shooting Blue Beetle, she recalls Wonder Woman snapping his neck, only soon she, along with the rest of the Justice Society and even Batman forget these critical events. Seems Lord has wiped their memories of it all.

There’s a third sequence in the book that deals with an amnesic Power Girl searching for Divine, when she gets a clue that she may be hiding out in Vietnam (a random hideout if there ever was one) but instead of Divine, she finds…well, I won’t tell you what she finds, because that would be spoiling the only surprise that is included in this very forgettable comic.

Also, if the cover refers to the book’s opening flashback, when Power Girl was running with Fire, Ice, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, how come it’s not Ted Kord in the cover but the new Blue Beetle? The current one, that Hispanic kid from Texas…..this book is giving me a headache. Would have been better off spending the $3 at happy hour, on a large burrito, or just about anything else. I give it 2.5 stars out of 5 but only because the artwork by Sami Basri saves it from being completely atrocious, but just barely.


Deal of the month: Classic Dark Horse titles for a buck

Dark Horse comics for a buck

Dark Horse Comics classic first issues for a buck...what's not to love??

Hello comic book fans. The bin is back. Sorry to have gone so long again without a post, but school started and it has thrown my comics buying schedule out of whack again.

This past week I had lunch with a friend who attends PCC and while perusing a comic book shop in the area, I hunted down these treasures. In case you guys aren’t aware, for weeks know, Dark Horse comics has been reprinting first issues of classic titles like Magnus Robot Fighter 4000 A.D., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens Vs. Predator, and the Goon. For only a buck! Classic reprints for a dollar? The bin was on that like moths to the proverbial flame or like dung bugs to dry carports. LOL, well you get the picture.

I thought I would comment a bit on some of these comics by top tier talent like Russ Manning, Eric Powell, Kurt Busiek and Richard Starkings, just to name a few. First up is The Goon #1. I was at comic con this past summer in San Diego and can you believe at the screening of the potential Goon movie, there were some clueless people who never heard of the Goon?  Think about how wrong that statement is, they never heard of the Goon, at freaking Comic Con! not movie con, not Star Trek con, freaking Comic Con!!  Blashphemy!

But I digress, the Goon is one of the finest, funniest, most clever comics on the racks today. It is the story of a man who used to be a circus freak, but whose family was gunned down one night and he had to turn to collecting the debts of the gangster who killed them (after an enraged Goon whacked him to death, yes revenge is a dish best served cold indeed) Along with his freaky sidekick Franky, the Goon rids the town of zombies and monsters. This issue retells the Goon’s origin and his first confrontation with the Zombie Priest. Eric Powell himself draws and writes this masterpiece of a comic book which always delivers on quirky action, weirdness and laughs.

If you were one of the unlucky few to have missed the trailer for the upcoming Goon movie which premiered at Comic Con. Here’s a glimpse of what you missed. I have to say that it looks like it’s going to be pretty faithful to the source material! Even the undead fear the Goon!

Retro-review (sort of) ASM #36

Sorry for the long break without a post comic book fans. It really has been a busy transition from summer to fall. In addition to finishing up my radio internship at KPFK, I have been covering prep games for the SGVTribune.
Today is the anniversary of 9-11 and I know each and everyone of you remembers the exact moment you heard about or watched the attack on the twin towers.
As a sort of “retro-review” I wanted to look back and spotlight a special moment in the life of everyone’s favorite webcrawler.

You see, Spidey and 9-11 have a special connection because Spider-Man is not only the everyday hero, but the original New York superhero. While fictional heroes had lived in big sprawling metropolitan cities like Gotham and Metropolis before, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko decided to set Spidey’s adventures in their home town of New York City.

Amazing SpiderMan vol. 2 #36

Spidey surveys the damage from ASM Vol.2 #36 courtesy of Spideykicksbutt.com

I will let my good friends from spideykicksbutt.com explain the rest. I can’t begin to do as good a job of detailing the Spidey 9-11 connection, and writer J. Michael Straczynski’s involvement in producing that story,  than they already have. I will be back with reviews and ruminations of more cheap and recent comics in the coming days. As Stan would say, excelsior!!

Aunty Emma seducing Namor?

You gotta hand it to Emma Frost. She really gets around. In 22 pages of story that constitute Uncanny X-Men #527, she has a meal with Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) and dinner with Prince Namor of Atlantis, all while pontificating on her tumultuous relationship with Scott . Oh Matt Fraction, what a weird and twisted X-tale you spin these days. Following Bastion’s recent attacks, the X-Men seem to be regrouping, or at least what passes for regrouping in these post apocolyptic days, at their secret Utopia island.

Like the master of magnetism a few months back, t was only a matter of time before I returned to the fold, catching up on the adventures of Marvel’s merry mutants. Back in the day, I would not miss a single issue of Uncanny, but the Emma Frost I remembered was classy, conniving and methodical, the characterization seems strikingly off. For one, she seems to be more verbally abusive and short tempered than I remember her. She is really condescending in a scene between Colossus and Kitty Pride.

Speaking of Kitty Pride, ever since she was rescued from the bullet hurling through space, she hasn’t really been used much, so it will be interesting to see how they reintroduce her back into the X-Men fold.

The activation of the new “mutant five’s” powers was only mildly interesting reading to me, I guess they have to give Hope Summers an integral role in the comic, being the Messiah child and all, but I found the more quiet scenes to be of more significance. Scott talking to Logan at the bar, for example, though brief, was reminiscent of the tiny interludes which had become a staple of this comic book for so long. Logan is tough, he isn’t letting on his feelings about Kurt’s death, but his stoicism masks a concern for Scott, which is a nice bit of character development. Is he really concerned about Scott’s emotional state of being, or is he more concerned about his leadership abilities following all that’s transpired of late?

The scene with Namor and Emma did bug me. It was hard to focus on their discussion when they both sat down to sushi. Some one correct me if I’m wrong but don’t the surface dwellers kill all kinds of ocean creatures like Sharks for culinary purposes?

It seems a little out of character for the King of Atlantis  to be consuming sushi. The artwork in this comic was decent, Kirk and Portacio make a good collaboration, but I didn’t like the cover. Namor looks a bit too buff and his ears don’t look right, he resembles a Vulcan!

Also, the cover makes it seem as though they are about to hook up, when in reality she calls him a “brat” during the story. Overall this was a good read, but a little jumbled. At $3.99 the bin cannot in good conscience recommend this Marvel comic, unless you can pick it at a discount like I did.

Steve Rogers Super Soldier #2

The cover to Amalgam Comics' Super Soldier #1, wonder if the house of ideas was looking to this for inspiration to Steve Rogers' new duds??

I almost feel guilty including this comic from the house of ideas in the bin, except my discount offset some of the $3.99 cover price, just barely making the cutoff point for inclusion.

I went to F&S yesterday and spent part of a pleasant afternoon eating cheap junk food and scouring for cheap comics, as it is my periodic habit. Truth be told, the selection in the back issue bins was pretty atrocious (no specific gems jumped out at me) and ridiculously priced at $2.

$2 for individual back issues? That’s no deal.

The trade racks had much better deals with quality stuff like Superman vs. Doomsday trades, IDW books and other goodies and I will certainly go back to pick up a few. Among the copies I did get, I ended up picking up Steve Rogers Super Soldier #2 of 4 and was glad to do so. This comic by Brubaker and Eaglesham with art by Troy features Steve Rogers investigating what happens when professor Erskine, grandson to the original, is rumored to have developed a super-soldier formula of his own. Rogers is afraid that it will land in the wrong hands and be sold in the black market, so naturally he has to prevent this from happening.

I enjoyed Brubaker’s writing immensely on the Captain America title, he obviously has translated his love for the character and his inventive storytelling style to this limited series. I also like to read different takes on Captain America which is why I enjoyed the Captain America-Superman Hybrid from the old Amalgan comics back in the day. (compare that uniform with the current one for Steve Rogers Super Soldier #2 and you see some similarities.)

Steve Rogers Super Soldier #2

Steve Rogers Super Soldier #2 by Marvel comics image courtesy of IGN

Brubaker makes good use of the old cliffhangers, and this issue ends with a doozy. Doozie? I don’t know how to spell that word. At any rate, I would recommend picking up a copy of issue 3 when it hits the stands this September, the cover art by Carlos Pacheco, Tim Townsend and Frank D’Armata was a good set up for the interior illustrations which preserved the film noirish elements of the Brubaker Captain America run, and the writing is suspenseful, clever and interesting.

The $5 comic book

Are comic books getting too expensive?

That was the topic posted in this forum

The cover to this week's Avengers #4 priced at $3.99 by Marvel Comics

That was back in 2008. In my old blog I posted at some point that we were not too far from a $5 comic book and Marvel has almost made it a reality. I single out Marvel for the sole reason that their moves (pricing changes included) usually dictate what DC and the rest of the industry do.

Case in point is a cursory look at this week’s new releases list. I compared offerings by the “big two” eliminating, of course, trades and collected editions for obvious reasons.

It seemed to me that Marvel’s books were more expensive than DCs. Whenever I stopped by the store, DC still managed to carry some all ages books which priced at $2.50 were at least cheaper than those aimed for the adult readership. Getting back to my non-scientific comparison of the big two, DC offers more $2.99 books than Marvel (although just barely) with DC offering 10 books at this price to Marvel’s eight.

Now granted, this slight disparity will probably fluctuate over the coming weeks, and Marvel’s list of new releases was bigger than DC’s this week, but now that the $3.99 price tag seems to be reserved for the premium books like “Amazing Spider-Man” and even “Action Comics,” it’s not hard to imagine that a one dollar increase would be in the future, making the single individual comic book a whopping $5.00. That may not seem like a lot, until you do the math and consider that would mean $50 per week if your pull list is 10 titles  and $200 monthly. At a minimal, if your list is a modest 5 titles, that would come out to $100 monthly. The question remains, can the industry continue to sustain itself at these rates in a weaker economy? I found an interesting article from fanboy.com about this very topic and this was back in 2008 before the price increases right around the time the economy was going in the crapper.

Personally, I only purchase the occasional trade now and my pull list has shrunk to one title from each of the major publishers and the occasional indie, hence the focus of this blog (finding deals on comics) What about the rest of you??

Retro-Review: Hunter Killer #0 Jan. 2005

Has it really been five years since this comic was released? For today’s retro-review, the bin has dug up our copy of “Hunter Killer” #0.  I’ve decided that from now on, every week we will go down memory lane as I pluck a book out of my own personal stash and do a retro style review, like they do in CBG. That’s Comic Book Buyer’s Guide for all you noobs out there.

The introductory comic book by the team of writer Mark Waid and superstar artist Marc Silvestri was offered by Top Cow for a mere 25 cents. I picked up my copy at Wizard World Los Angeles a few years back and liked the comic so much, I put it in my list of the year’s best. It was a heck of a story. Super-humans walk among us. Known only to a select few, these “Ultra-Sapiens”are a genetic super-race living in secret; walking weapons of mass destruction who must constantly be monitored and policed to ensure the safety of Planet Earth. When one of these super-humans goes rogue, upsetting the balance of world power; only one group can stand up to them in order to save us all: The Hunter Killers.

This was a heck of a premise, plus I had always been a sucker for Marc Silvestri artwork, way back from the days when he was pencilling Uncanny X-Men. For an introductory 12 page story, the creators gave us enough hints and a good taste of what was to come. A dossier soon followed, but our first glimpse of the Hunter Killers came in this quarter priced comic.

In this issue, Wolf beats Sam and her strike team to the rogue ultra-sapian named Cathy Cthulu and slays her before she can disclose the location of other rogue ultra-sapiens.  The reader also gets his/her first look at the comic’s main protagonist, Ellis, who is sequestered at his parent’s place in Montana.

If one loves paranoid books about conspiracies and world conquest, this is the book to read. It was born from the simple premise, what if the arms race involved living weapons, super-humans instead of mere guns and bombs? “Marc Silvestri and I were pretty much on the same page from the start, and that page was from the daily paper. Marc and I both have matching concerns over the increasing ability-and willingness-by Those in Power to manipulate us; to run about the planet engaging in the sour of grand conspiracies and corporate lies that, sadly, frame the world we live in today,” wrote Waid in the book’s prose epilogue.

cheapest bin pricing: a sketch 2004 variant covered copy was detected at Amazon for a mere 99 cents plus shipping. What a deal! I’m sure physical comic book retailers could have it in stock for less. With a little detective work, you can get your hands on it for cheap.

IDW re-imagines Dungeons and Dragons.

Welcome back comic book bargain hunters. For this blog’s initial offering, I tracked down last week’s release of D&D #0 from IDW. IDW normally publishes awesome monster themed comics, so a $1 intro to their new series set in the D&D world was a no-brainer.

I love fantasy genre stuff, but Lord of the Rings and other fantasy properties owe a lot to the late Gary Gygax and to the folks responsible for D&D. Tolkien may have predated D&D, but it was the RPGs that popularized the genre and brought it to the forefront of pop culture. Back in the 80s, DC comics printed a 36 issue run of comics based on AD&D, and most recently, Devil’s Due was publishing some adaptations of D&D prose novels.

Now we have a new series set in Fallcrest, a small town built upon the ruins of a large city. The comic book sheds light on the ongoing series’ protagonists. According to writer John Rogers, Fell’s Five is a ragtag group of troubleshooters and adventurers led by accidental hero Adric Fell. Their initial 10-page adventure has them in the middle of an dungeon crawl  where they are soon fighting monsters and bandits. I really enjoyed the feel of this book which does a good job of capturing the look and aesthetics inherent in D&D’s fantasy settings.

For an introductory comic, this issue is good. It has a nice cover and glossy pages. The interior artwork by penciler Andrea Di Vito is crisp and does a nice job of portraying the “party.” of adventurers. The dialogue also captures the feel of the group rather nicely.

Additionally, there is also a back-story introducing a supplemental comic book to be released in January set in the “Dark Sun” campaign setting. Even though there are only 17 pages of actual storyline, as opposed to the regular 22 in most comics, there are also pages with sketches and a Q&A with the creators. For a $1 comic, what else can one expect? I was more than satisfied with this volume and may check out the ongoing when it gets published in November.

For those interested in finding more here’s a link to an interview with D&D comic editor Denton Tipton from Wizards of the Coast.

Comics are expensive

The one thing we can all probably agree on is that comic books are expensive. With publishers like Marvel and DC and even Dark Horse offering their premium books at an average price of $3.99  per issue, the thrifty or economic buyer has to watch what they spend or be more selective in their purchases.

This is what this blog is all about, finding deals in a crowded comic book market. Let’s face it, how many times have we been excited about a specific title coming out only to be let down by the eventual book, or have felt “ripped off” by a specific creative team or project which at first promises to be good, but in the end leaves us feeling unsatisfied or even disappointed.

So tune back and read about deals, reviews and any goodies I can scour from the one dollar bin.

Battle Hymn TPB: Farewell to the First Golden Age

I was really thrilled when my editor at Silver Bullet Comics made this trade paperback collecting the first five issues of this critically acclaimed comic available to me. He said he’d send it to me and sure enough after coming home on saturday after an all day journalism convention, I was happy to have it waiting for me in my mail pile.
Wizard sung the book’s praises last year saying, “Battle Hymn marches with substance and style.” and I had been wanting to read it.

Here’s the premise:
It’s 1944, and the first gathering of super-powered heroes may be the last. In the waning days of World War II, at the dawn of the nuclear age, super-powered beings are emerging from the shadows of conflict, beginning with the arrival of the Artificial Man. Now the United States government has assembled this collection of genetic misfits, patriotic zealots, and half-human creatures to help with the war effort. At least, that’s the official version of the story.
Thus far, I have only read the first chapter, but I can already tell you that this tribute to golden age war comics is one fine effort and one beautiful book to look at. Jeremy Haun’s pencils are at the same time understated and dynamic and Clay Moore obviously loves the subject matter and it shows. You have to love the way the very first page assaults your senses with that image of bombers and WWII aesthetics. It’s another reason why Image comics is at the top of their game today publishing some of the finest material in the market. This story is top-notch so if you can grab a copy of this one, go ahead and do so, you’ll be singing its praises along with the rest of us if you do so.