2012 Memorable Moment: Lamia

As much as I love Fables, Fairest wasn’t doing it for me … until issue #7. The wonderfully drawn-but-painfully-slow first arc of Fairest was followed by an unexpectedly fantastic one-shot about Beauty and the Beast. The issue is set in 1946 Los Angeles and drawn in a cheeky noir style by Shawn McManus. We see Beast in hot pursuit of Beauty. Why has his lovely wife skipped Fabletown? That would be because she is a homicidal, misandric serpent who needed to exorcise her inner demon.

Say what? Continue reading

Stream of Comicsness – Week of 03.21.2012

Greetings, lovelies. I had the distinct pleasure of being on vacation this week, so of course there were comics!

Snyder’s Detective
You can catch me almost anywhere complaining about how Batman is overrated and over exposed, so I tend to steer clear of most Batman books. Comixology had a stellar sale on Snyder’s Detective Comics, issues #871 thru #880. I bought them. I know, I am super late to the party, but wow. Snyder’s Detective is suspenseful and interesting. I love how Snyder shows that while Dick is a good Batman, he is no Bruce … and people notice the difference. Also, Snyder gave me a new appreciation for Commissioner Gordon. I think Jock’s art is great, but Francesco Francavilla is AMAZING. I know I am late to that party, too. It’s not that I am not familiar with Francavilla. I am. He has been killing it on cover art. But within the pages of Detective Comics, telling the story of Gordon’s son; he really strikes a superb aesthetic. This is good stuff people. You probably already knew that. Now I do, too.

My Stash This Week …
Wonder Woman #7, Birds of Prey #7, Fables #115, The Infinite Vacation #4, Strange Talent of Luther Strode #6 Continue reading

Stream of Comicsness – Week of 02.15.2012

Happy Friday, Lords and Ladies. It is with great pleasure that I announce my attendance this weekend at MegaCon. I am looking forward to having a splendid time! I promise to take lots of pictures and share my stories upon my return. Also, I read some comics this week.

My Pull List
Wonder Woman #6, Fables #114, Birds of Prey #6, and Peter Panzerfaust #1. Continue reading

WTF? Wednesday: Snow’s Ugly Lecture

Fables character Mrs. Spratt (as in wife of Jack) is easy to hate. She’s spiteful and seems to delight in saying awful things to vulnerable people, which sucks considering that she’s a nurse. Those deplorable characteristics were evident in issue #100 during the birth of Beauty and Sheriff Beast’s child. She coldly dismissed Beast’s concerns after Beauty went into a difficult labor, and she then pelted him with insults when he suggested that the Fabletown physician, Dr. Swineheart, was not on point. Since Beast goes into furry and fanged mode when he’s mad, old girl is very lucky that she wasn’t mauled. Continue reading

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

When is it time to break up with a comic book?

Sometimes, the decision is obvious: The comic’s quality plunges or goes in a direction you don’t like. Maybe the writer and/or artist changes and their work doesn’t move you.

But let’s say you’re reading a book that you’ve enjoyed for a long time, one that is still solidly good and has had its moments of genius. It’s still better than many comics you could be wasting your money on and you’ve made it this far. However, you’ve had the sneaking suspicion lately that something’s missing. Whereas you once couldn’t wait to fetch it from your LCS and dive right in, you’re now putting it aside and thinking, “I’ll get to it eventually.” Then when you do, your attention drifts. It’s not that the book is bad or even mediocre, but it just doesn’t excite you anymore. Continue reading

Stream of Comicsness – Week of 01.18.2012

Not So Wonderful
Holy crow. Who has been singing the praises of Wonder Woman louder than me? Since issue #1, I have been going on about Cliff Chiang’s beautiful art, and how Brian Azzarello “gets” Diana. Maybe I was just blinded by the light (art). I stand by what I said about Chiang being damn near perfect on this book, but this month’s issue was not drawn by Chiang. So, Azzarello had to do the heavy lifting with the story, and that just did not happen. There is plenty of Greek Mythology. There is another half-breed offspring of Zeus unexpectedly popping in on Diana, Poseidon shows up and Hera is still pissed off. Quelle suprise! Azzarello is a good writer, but this issue falls flat without Chiang’s magic. Tony Akins is the fill in artist, and either DC chose him because he kind of sort of draws like Chiang, or he tried to draw like Chiang. Either way, it was not working for me. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t impressed. Akins draws a pretty mean sea monster splash page, but his Diana is all wonky in the face. The proportions seemed off with the other characters as well. Cliff Chiang is a tough act to follow. Continue reading

G3 Review: Once Upon a Time

When I got wind of the TV show Once Upon a Time, I was instantly intrigued because of its surface similarities to Fables. Both revolve around fairy tale characters who have been exiled from their magical realm to ours, and that’s excellent storytelling material. Obviously, a show on ABC Family and a comic book with mature themes are going to have some differences, so I didn’t expect an R-rated clone. Besides, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a kid-friendly show that everyone in my family actually wants to watch. (I’m told Grimm is much darker, but I haven’t seen it.)

So what’s the verdict? Once Upon a Time is a good-looking show, and the parts that work well are entertaining. Some of the characters, especially the villains, are great fun to watch. Though it can get a little draggy at times, there’s enough mystery and suspense to keep a viewer coming back each week. The production values exceeded my expectations, especially in the show’s flashbacks to fairy tale world.

The first episode, in which the Evil Queen casts a dark spell over the kingdom, is the best so far. Lana Parrilla is fantastic in this role, and the scene where she barges in during Snow and Charming’s wedding is one of the show’s most memorable yet. Dressed like she’s going to a drag queen ball, EQ pretty much steals the show and puts everyone on notice that they’d better enjoy themselves while they can, because it’s gonna get ugly. She eventually casts a dark spell over the Kingdom that tosses all the players into modern times and causes them to forget who they are. Ruthless? Yes, but there is a secret sadness that makes her more than a one-note witch.

Shift to present day where a bail bondsman named Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is paid a visit from Henry (Jared Gilmore), the child she gave up for adoption 10 years prior. Emma winds up in Henry’s deeply weird residence of Storybrooke, Maine, where the Evil Queen (known here as Regina) is mayor and the boy’s adoptive mother. Time never moves forward and no one there can remember who they are. Well, almost no one. Regina knows what’s up, as do Henry and Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), aka snake-in-the-grass Mr. Gold. Like Parrilla, Carlyle is a top-notch baddie who does icky and quietly dangerous equally well. I also enjoyed seeing the real-world interpretations of storybook characters like Jiminy Cricket, the town therapist; Snow White, a sweet and lonely school teacher; Little Red Riding Hood, a bad-girl waitress; Cinderella, a maid down on her luck.

Henry is Emma’s field guide in Storybrooke, and their relationship is crucial to the larger story. A little bit of the precocious, chatty Henry goes a long way. I understand that he plays an important role in the unfolding events, but boy, is he grating. That’s not a knock on the young actor but the script, which has him popping up at nearly every turn. It isn’t yet clear how he figured everything out, because Regina has kept the curse tightly under wraps.

Regina isn’t happy that Henry is spending so much time with Emma, whose presence is threatening. (Her put-downs of the boy’s birth mom are cutting and coldly delivered.) Given how rattled Regina is by this turn of events, I’m baffled that she didn’t immediately dispose of Emma, Mafia-style. However, there is the potential for serious fireworks now that Emma has decided to stick around — and Regina is clearly not having it.

I won’t lie; I’d be much happier if HBO were doing a TV adaptation of Fables, which would make a hell of an adult TV series. But Once Upon a Time holds its own, and it’s nice to have a quality fantasy show that you can watch with older children. It’s — Dare I say it? — charming.

Heroic Hotness: Bigby Wolf

Bigby Wolf: The Animal

I’ve had a thing for the Big, Bad Wolf since he confessed his love to Snow. The reveal of his super-acute sense of smell that can read emotions is all kinds of hot. A moody girl like me could get on board with a wolf like that. It helps that Bigby is the ultimate baddie turned adoring husband and father. Although, he could still rip someone to shreds if he had to. You know … for his family.

Grrrr.

2010 Memorable Moment: Frau Finds Love

If you have not read Fables, I judge you harshly. You should. But, I am kind enough to warn you that there are some serious Fables #100 *SPOILERS* here. Continue at your own risk.

For those of us who have experienced the wonder and greatness of Bill Willingham’s epic tale, we know and love Frau Totenkinder. She is also known as the Black Forest Witch of Hansel and Gretel fame, as well as nearly every other witch responsible for various curses in Fable history – Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Flycatcher, and somehow, I’m sure, many others. She might very well be the baddest bitch alive … like ever. Especially considering she’s been around since the dawn of man, I’m talking Paleolithic era, people. Continue reading

Pull List Assessment – Part Two

E. inspired me to take a crack at my pull list …

I’ll miss you Nimue

GREATNESS
These are the books I absolutely cannot live without. If I were broke and had to choose between lunch on Wednesday or these comics … I’d be a hungry fangirl.

Madame Xanadu – Often times, the art on the book is nothing shy of perfect. Amy Reeder does an amazing job. I’d also like to give mega-kudos to Shelly Bond over at Vertigo for this most recent arc, Extra-Sensory. Six books, six different female artists, all of them relatively new to the game with the exception of Reeder. What a wonderful way to shine some light on female comic art talent. Marley Zarcone and Chrissie Zullo are new favorites of mine because of it. But it has been the story all along that stole my heart. Matt Wagner’s Nimue is one whom I will love forever. He’s developed Madame Xanadu into a beautiful character of substance. I am truly sad that this book will be over in two issues. Continue reading

Pull List Assessment Time

Every now and then, it’s a good idea to evaluate the old pull list instead of running on autopilot. Though my queue tends to be DC-heavy, there are several indie titles that I read either in trade or via review copy that are plenty good. Since V. and I are asked what we recommend or books that rock/suck, here’s assessment of what I’m reading and where it falls on the Great-to-Dropped scale. Those listed under “Promising” have not yet been added to the file, but they’re well on their way.

GREAT
Morning Glories: Image is firing on all cylinders with this book about a scary private school that traps and traumatizes its adolescent charges. Comic shops can’t keep it in stock, and that’s no surprise given the roller coaster of a plot, snappy dialogue and pretty art. Morning Glories is further proof that there’s some stellar work being done outside of the big publishing houses and the capes genre.

Morning Glories

Fables: Since I get this in trade form, I’m not current. The last volume, “The Great Fables Crossover,” was only so-so, but this book has been otherwise excellent. It also continues to evolve and expertly mixes fantasy and comedy with flat-out horror. I can’t wait for the next trade, “Witches,” to drop in December.

Batman and Robin: I’ve written before about how much I dig this book, so I won’t bore you with another love letter. Grant Morrison is handing the reigns to Peter Tomasi soon, but I’m a fan of Tomasi’s work and eagerly anticipate his work on Batman and Robin — especially since he did such a good job during his all-too-brief Nightwing run.

Madame Xanadu: After the most recent (and brilliant) issue about a deadened supermodel named Neon Blue at the height of late ’60s-fame, I was even more depressed that this comic is coming to an end. I have V. to thank for educating me about Madame X just in the nick of time. At least I’ll always have the back issues.

 

GOOD
G-Man: I initially started getting this Image comic for my children, but like Tiny Titans, it’s a smart, kid-skewing book that’s better than much of the fare for grownups. The most recent arc, “Cape Crisis” centers on young hero G-Man, who gets powers via a magic cape. The problem is that all of his peers (and his kid brother) want a piece of the action, and the results are darn funny. The news that Chris Giarrusso’s book is returning made me very happy, and the kids will have to pry it from my hands.

 

Red Robin: I didn’t like this comic at all when it debuted, but it has found a consistently good groove and done right by one of my favorite characters. Fabian Nicieza writes Tim Drake and the extended Bat-family well, and Marcus To sure can draw.

G-Man = good times

Birds of Prey: The Gail Simone incarnation of BoP was instrumental in getting me back into the comic book habit, and it’s been a fine reunion. While I’m not as mesmerized as I was the first time around, BoP is one of the books I look forward to most each month, along with …

Secret Six: This comic vacillates between “great” and “good,” so I have been spoiled. I love the characters and their bloody misadventures, and there is some real tenderness and heart underneath piles of bodies. My expectations for a Secret Six issue are probably unfairly high, but if it came down to cash flow, there are a whole lot of books I’d drop before this one.

Love and Capes: This book about a superhero married to a non-superpowered bookstore owner is light, bright and utterly adorable. I’m also reading this in trade, and there’s a longer overview here.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: As with Red Robin, I’ve already heaped lots of praise on the latest incarnation of Brian Michael Bendis’ long-running, consistently winning comic. The love-triangle drama between Peter, Mary Jane and Gwen is heating up again, and if enjoying juicy teen drama is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird: When I started reading this title after the “Read This, Too!” challenge, I immediately thought that this is the book Green Arrow & Black Canary should have been. The vibe between the title characters — formerly married, now dating — is sexy and fun, and the book is full of action.

 

 

 

Welcome to Tranquility: Another Gail Simone gem about retired superheroes and supervillains, and a whole lot of secrets and lies. See a recent review here.

Mystery Society: I was late to the party on this five-issue series about a wealthy, urbane husband and wife who uncover government conspiracies and recruit odball characters along the way to join their adventures. The story is a kick, but it’s worth reading for Fiona Staples’ artwork alone.

 

PROMISING

 

 

 

 

 

Haweye and Mockingbird

 

Thunderbolts: I read my first issue a few weeks ago and thoroughly dug it. Luke Cage is leading a group of formerly bad guys trying to go legit, and Jeff Parker spins a good narrative (with ninjas!). Declan Shalvey’s art is impressive, and as a Thunderbolts newbie, I found issue #148 easy to jump into. And no, I’m not reading Shadowland.

Freedom Fighters: I bought this comic based on Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s Power Girl work, and I liked the first two issues quite a bit. It’s always a joy to see Nazis getting beaten up, and chances are good that this will be a dynamic team comic. Stay tuned.

Lady Mechanika: I’ve never been a Steampunk gal, but the artwork in this Aspen Comics title by Joe Benitez blew me away. The story focuses on a rifle-toting character named Mechanika, who is part human, part machine. It’s set in late 1800s London, and based on issue #0, it’s going to be a wild ride. My Newsarama review is here, but suffice to say that it’s worth checking out. If my stomach were sufficiently flat, this would SO be my con costume.

MEH
Wonder Woman: I think I got all the Haterade out of my system in this post, but I’m buying this book purely out of loyalty. I don’t want to give DC another reason to treat Diana like a stepchild, so I can’t bring myself to drop it.

First Wave

First Wave: At this point, only Rags Morales’ awesome illustrations are keeping this in my LCS file. This pulpy, character-heavy comic involving The Spirit, young Batman, Doc Savage and an alternative Black Canary got off to a nice start, but the long stretches between issues killed some of its momentum for me. There are only two issues to go, so I’m not sure it can deliver on its early promise or do justice to all the players.

DROPPED
Brightest Day: Pretty, but too draggy, convoluted and crowded. I might read it in deeply discounted trade form.

Power Girl: Judd Winick’s first few issues were better than I expected, but they just weren’t good enough to justify my $2.99. Part of the problem is that the previous creative team was so good that any successors would have a challenge on their hands. I don’t care enough about PG to read her adventures if the comic is just middling, so I cut it loose with no regrets.

 

Justice Society of America: I stuck with this book after Bill Willingham finished his “Fatherland” arc, but James Robinson’s follow-up just didn’t do it for me. I almost kept buying it just for Jesus Merino’s illustrations, even though story quality fell off in a major. The book is getting a new creative team, so I might give it another shot. Maybe.