G3 Gift Guide: Part V.

Picking up where Erika left off, below are some ideal geeky gifts (according to me) for this Festivus season.

Absolute Planetary Book One

Absolute Planetary Book OneYou could get the issues of Planetary digitally. You could get the trades. But THIS is the Absolute Edition. Book Two is easy enough to get. Book One … not so much. Any comic lover would be all over this, and doubly impressed because they know it’s out of print.

Full color commission of Nimue by Amy Reeder

Madame Xanadu

I imagine we won’t see Madame Xanadu written and drawn as her youthful Nimue self any time soon (or maybe ever again). Being that this incarnation of the character only existed in the first arc of Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder’s Madame Xanadu, there are not many images of her in that costume. Oh, to have a full-color commission of Nimue from the artist herself, Amy Reeder. Pure joy.

Troy and Abed “Warhol”

Troy and Abed WarholI first noticed the picture in the Community episode “Remedial Chaos Theory” hanging in Troy and Abed’s apartment.  And as soon as I saw it, I loved it. I immediately sent a tweet to NBC saying that it needed to exist. Now, NBC has made a poster. And a T-shirt. Because all Community nerds love it (and probably tweeted it, too).

Donate to a comic book Kickstarter!

Peter Pan The Graphic Novel - Vol. 1 by Renae De Liz

‘Tis the season to be … generous! What better way than to support a creator-owned comic? Here are a few good ones …

Peter Pan: The Graphic Novel – Vol. 1 by Renae De Liz

GODLESS COMICS! by Kona Morris

Girls Night Out: Tales of New York by Amy Chu

SEX AND VIOLENCE Volume 1 by JIMMY PALMIOTTI

The Big Feminist BUT by Shannon O’Leary and Joan Reilly

Cheers, ya’ll!

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.

 

Haute Heroism

Because I love a Kate Spade purse as much as a Fables hardcover trade, I tend to have strong opinions about comic book fashion. V., a Gucci aficionado from way back, is no different, and we’ve had plenty of Project Runway elimination-style discussions about superhero garb.

Of course, everyone had something to say about Wonder Woman’s new costume, much of it hilarious. My favorite observation came from Tom and Lorenzo, the duo behind the brilliant Project Rungay blog: “She kind of looks like she’s on her way to yoga class. In Vanilla Ice’s old jacket. That sound you hear is the wail of drag queens the world over, all of whom wouldn’t be caught dead in this thing.”

Now that the dust has settled, we were inspired to survey the field of DC superheroines to determine who looks red-carpet ready, and who looks a hot mess. The men just didn’t interest us as much, because frankly, there’s not much to say about dudes who favor briefs and capes as a daytime look.

As for Vixen’s outfit, well, you know where we stand on that madness.

Liberty Belle: Ms. Chambers if you're nasty.

Liberty Belle: Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always liked Jesse Chambers’ classic Liberty Belle getup. It’s a nice homage to her mom, and since she’s got that Veronica Lake thing going on, she manages to be sexy without giving away the store. Few people could get away with those thigh-enhancing jodphurs — or that color scheme for that matter — but L.B. does so with grace. What a classy dame. Grade: B+

Yawn.

Wonder Girl: Cassandra Sandsmark’s costume, if you can call it that, reflects the problem with her character. There’s no there there, and certainly nothing fitting a heroine. You could walk into any Forever 21 or Wet Seal in America and come up with the equivalent of what she’s wearing. Her boyfriend, Conner Kent, seems to share the notion that a pair of Gap jeans and a logo shirt are just dandy for saving the universe, but where’s the glamour? The intimidation factor? The effort? Girl, bye. Grade: D

Black Canary

Black Canary: Artist Ed Benis’ Matrix-referencing take on Dinah Lance makes our favorite Bird of Prey as stylish as she is deadly. The long, cinched black coat, Dinah’s trademark fishnets and the motorcycle boots are gangsta in a very good way. Siu Jerk Jai deserves nothing less. Grade: A

Artemis: New Earth

Artemis (New Earth): Brimming with Amazonian swagger, Artemis of Bana-Migdhall looks great no matter what she’s wearing. But I’m partial to the sultry I Dream of Jeannie togs Artemis wears in her New Earth incarnation. It’s exotic (wispy genie pants), fashion-forward (calf-high gladiator shoes) and a touch dangerous (leather push-up top). Extra points for the bicep-enhancing gold bangles and choker. Fierce! Grade: A

Showoff.

Starfire: When you’re hot, you’re hot, but that’s no excuse for dressing like a truck stop lingerie model. I know what the Starfire apologists are thinking: “Jealous, much?” Yes. Grade: D-

Wonder Woman in "Amazonia"

Victorian Wonder Woman: Wondy went Steampunk to solve the case of Jack the Ripper in Amazonia, an Elseworlds tale set in the Victorian era. Of course, she looked fantastic in this retro version of her iconic costume: Crimson corset with a fishtail flourish, elbow-length gloves with filigree bracelets and chic, lace-up boots. The hair is very Padme Amidala in The Phantom Menace, but Diana rocked it out with the tiara. Grade: A-

Manhunter

Manhunter: Unless it’s got some built-in Spanx, Mahunter’s costume leaves absolutely no room for error. This is an aerodynamic, body-hugging costume that means business. In addition to being sleek and functional, it’s got that cool plating at the neck and shoulders (with matching clawed gauntlets), and the power staff is just cool as hell. Grade: B

Nimue rocks the hoof heels.

Nimue: Nimue’s fashion has evolved to suit the times and moniker of Madame Xanadu. Her woodland nymph garb, complete with antlers and proper baubles, is hippie ethereal in an “I’m actually Homo Magi” kind of way. The knee-high lace up hoof heels are just about the cleverest shit we’ve ever seen for those times when you don’t want to be found in the forest — aaand you might not want to be found if you’ve pissed off your lover, Merlin.

Batwoman

Batwoman: I love everything about this costume, which somehow manages to be more menacing than Batman’s. Maybe it’s the stark black-and-red color combo, or maybe it’s the kickass footwear JH Williams III bestowed upon Kate Kane in his Detective Comics run. These are not girly boots for prancing around, but wall-climbing, roof-jumping, thug-stomping kicks. Throw in some red gloves, and you’ve got a look that’s a little bit scary and a whole lot sexy. Grade: A+

Stay classy, Star Sapphire Corps!

Star Sapphire: Cher wept. Grade: F

In Comics, Only the Good Die Young

Nimue does not take kindly to impending doom.

As with so many other things that are artistically awesome, they come to an end long before they should. Over at Bleeding Cool, rumor has it that Madame Xanadu will soon meet her demise at Vertigo. Whether because of corporate rearranging of characters, low sales, or the creators having other projects they deem priority, this falls under the category of tragic.

I only recently discovered Madame Xanadu. The first trade, “Disenchanted,” was exceptional. When I finished reading it, I immediately re-read it. Amy Reeder’s art is out of this world. She draws Madame Xanadu so beautifully, with ethereal hints of Manga that make her work bright and unique. Matt Wagner’s story is nothing short of brilliant. Continue reading