PRIZE TIME! Let’s talk about shelf porn.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’m kiiiiiiiinda into shelf porn. I’m a slovenly mess when it comes to everything else in my life, but when it comes to storing and ordering my comics, I’m an absolute nightmare. I’m a firm believer that how you store the collections you love speaks to how you love them, and I really enjoy seeing how other people show off their gear. With that in mind, the fine folks at Valiant Comics have very generously offered the five deluxe hardcovers in the banner image (Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Shadowman and Bloodshot) to the Roboteer with the best looking collection. Hit the jump for the rules.
Post pictures of your collection in the comments. Or, if for some reason you can’t get the comment posting to work, email the pic and your screen name to me at thejimdandy1 at gmail dot com and I’ll post it for you. Entries will be judged based on four categories: most ridiculous; best organized; most diverse collection (everything counts here, from book series to types of stuff on display); coolest shelving unit (like these hangers) in order to find who has the best looking shelf. Entries close at 5:00 pm Eastern time on Monday, January 26, at which time I’ll pick the winner, and he or she will be announced in next week’s reviews. So get those pictures ready if you want to make me jealous, since I won’t rig the contest to let me win, even though I really want these books for my oversized shelf.
This all segues very nicely into our reviews this week, where we start by breaking my volume-related taboo on gushing about any more Fred Van Lente books.
Ivar, Timewalker #1 (Valiant Comics)
The Archer & Armstrong team move over to a book about the Eternal Warrior’s dashing timecop brother, and it’s great. There’s a brief instant at the end of this issue that makes me think “Oh my God, what if the villain at the end of time is the person writing the comic.” and then I remembered I wasn’t reading a Morrison comic, and it stopped being possible (and also all comics simultaneously blinked out of existence for a fraction of a second). Like I said, I’ve thrown myself at Fred Van Lente enough, so let’s talk about Clayton Henry!
Dude never gets enough credit because he’s pretty workmanlike – there isn’t a ton of flash to his panel layouts, and his style isn’t exaggerated. What you get with his art is good, clean lines; great facial expressions and body language; strong flow from panel to panel; and when he gets the chance to cut loose (like he does with the spaceship on the page from 10^10^52 years in the future), you get really awesome splashes with really creative stuff. Ivar, Timewalker is the second of six Valiant Next books (a branding tool, but also a nice way of telling folks where it’s good to jump in). Based on the strength of this issue, we’re in for some good comics.
Elektra #10 (Marvel Comics)
When you think of Elektra, you probably think of two things: Daredevil’s dead/just resting assassin ex-girlfriend, and Elektra: Assassin. I also think of nachos, because I do that thing where I see the first and last letter of a word first, then fill it in in my brain later, but that’s a little beside the point. The point is: nachos.
Also, it’s how first opinions, a kind of Johnsian Literalism on the part of readers, are often criminally unfair. Elektra’s hook as a character is hampered – first by her origin, which is a lot like the Punisher’s, only with a splash of damsel in distress; second, by the fact that no one will ever make a comic that looks like what Bill Sienkewicz did again. It’s a real shame, because Mike Del Mundo came damn close.
He is, in my opinion, the best cover artist working in comics right now, and there are a lot of really good ones. But he’s known for covers, not for sequential art, and I was…skeptical isn’t the right word, but maybe unconvinced that his absolutely magical covers would translate to 20 pages of storytelling. I was completely and totally wrong. He’s at least as good on interiors as he is on covers, and W. Haden Blackman’s story has been engrossing. Coming from Batwoman, he knows how to write for a book that’s designed and laid out atypically, which is Del Mundo’s strength. It’s really shitty that this book is ending next issue, because nachos.
Burning Fields #1 (BOOM! Studios)
I found myself more annoyed at Burning Fields than anything. It’s a pet peeve, but I also think it’s something writers are usually advised to do anyway: don’t talk shit about your own story. Obviously, unless a writer really hates it, he isn’t going to trash his own work in interviews about it, but it’s even more irritating when it’s meta commentary on his stuff. That happens in the first third of the issue, too, which didn’t get my hopes up.
The writing, aside from the cutaway from the mysterious story that the CO tells the Grumpy Gladys in the bar but that isn’t shown but that is immediately called bullshit by Gladys, is fine. It’s a bit rote, a little vague, and, as it’s a first issue, all setup, but it’s fine. The art too, is fine. It’s muddy and over-inked, but the figures are good and the colors, where they’re more than just navys and blacks and dark browns, are pretty nice.
The lettering is too cute by half, though. Normally, [conversations in other languages are bracketed, followed by a condescending editor’s note treating the foreign language like it’s Ohio State](Translated from THE Spanish – Juez Jim). Jim Campbell, the letterer here, put a little blurb of text in the original language at like, 10 o’clock on the word balloon. And it’s really helpful at the very beginning – it’s in a language that looks like cuneiform on the murderer’s balloons, which tracks with the not-Latin nonsense words he’s speaking. But then later, when we move into Kirkuk, I’d be happy to be wrong, but I think that every word balloon that’s spoken in Arabic by an Iraqi character has the same word in Arabic written on the balloon. If it doesn’t say anything, that’s craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy disrespectful – imagine if a Russian comic had English writing on the edge of the word balloon to show that the characters weren’t speaking Russian, but it just said “Dwlkrn, smwonrf?” On the other hand, if it says something like “This is Arabic,” or spoils a plot point, that’s the too-cute part. I am interested enough at the possibility of a Phoenician death cult operating in Iraq to read the second issue, but if some of this stuff doesn’t get cleared up, that’ll be my last.
Teen Titans #6 (DC Comics)
It’s too bad this Teen Titans series jumped out of the gate taking a beating for its cover. The beating was justified, sure, because it was a pretty crap cover, but the comic itself was like the inverse of putting lipstick on a pig (pigstick on a lip?) – the story inside was fun, and Will Pfeifer’s clearly been having a blast writing it.
The last issue introduced the new, boob windowless Power Girl, and it seems to have nailed the teen angst/action mix that really belongs in books like this or X-Men stuff. Now paired with Scott Hepburn, whose art looks like exaggerated graffiti and is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for a teen sidekick book, Pfeifer’s getting to cut loose a little. He has brought in Power Girl, and he’s bringing back Superboy after Convergence wraps.
I loved loved loved the Teen Titans show, especially the Titans Together last season where they brought everybody under the age of 20 who had ever appeared in a DC comic in. Since that and Geoff Johns’ run ended, I haven’t had much to get excited about. I think I’m starting to here, though.
Noragami vol. 3 (Kodansha Comics)
I powered through three volumes of this manga in about four days, because it’s SUPER entertaining. Noragami is the story of a vagrant god trying to build up his worshipper count by performing odd jobs and having a best friend who turns into a giant sword blade that lets him cut the bad feelings to death until people can lead positive lives. That…sounds ridiculous, but as a veteran of over four anime, I can assure you, it’s utterly ridiculous. But it’s also incredibly charming and dynamic and fun to read.
Seriously: nothing that happens here is any more or less ridiculous than in any other comic, but it really succeeds in the quality of the characters and the quality of the art. Yato and his secretly-a-nice-guy relationship with Yukine, his shinki, is completely engrossing, and I really like the play between those two and Hiyori. The action sequences are, of course, outstanding. My only wish for this is to see it printed on a larger format book, just to blow up the art a little. I think it would look great larger.
I highly recommend Noragami. It’s close enough to the beginning where you can catch up quickly, and it’s second to none as an elaborate metaphor for breaking into Weird Twitter.
You can pick up Noragami volume 3 at your friendly local comic shop or (LEGALLY, important) online somewhere, probably. Help?
Millennium #1 (IDW Publishing)
It’s a little tough for me to read a comic about Lance Henriksen without actually being able to hear him scrape the rocks in his throat together to make the sounds himself. It’s also hard to get through an entire issue without trying to do the knife game from Aliens to myself. Thank God my dog already ruined my coffee table.
Millennium is a follow up to the successful X-Files Season 10 comics. It brings Mulder and Bishop together to hunt down the serial killer connected to the Millennium Group who Mulder put away when he was a wee pup of an FBI agent. Your appreciation of this is going to vary depending on where on the Carterverse venn diagram you fall. If you’re on the outside, with no real investment in either show, you probably won’t care enough to get invested, though the book is written and drawn clearly enough to guide you through very well. If you’re a fan of either show, I suspect you’ll be interested to read more. If you’re in the middle of the diagram, a fan of both shows, this probably won’t be able to come out fast enough for you. I, in the first of my great nerd heresies, was never really a huge fan of X-Files, so this book wasn’t anything other than well-made and well-executed for me. But if you like either show, you’re not going to want to miss this.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Every week there are way too many comics for me to read and keep track of. So in every column, I’m going to take a look at a book that came out in the last few weeks, but that I only just had a chance to read.
This week, it’s Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne, a popular Internet web comic.
That was my exact reaction to finding out that Atomic Robo was turning into a free webcomic. Then there was the mix of “oh thank God, I don’t have to loan out any more copies” relief and “OH SHIT HOW ARE THEY GONNA MAKE MONEY” panic. Because this is for real: in their quest to make their comic as easy as possible for everyone to read, they are now literally giving it away for free on the intertubes. Once my panic subsided, I realized that there was no way they’d still be spending time and effort on a book that wasn’t making them enough to eat at least a healthy diet of Cup Noodles. And that no freeloaders were going to walk off with my copy of Volume 3 anymore, because I could just email them a PDF now. YES.
Starting today, Team Robo is posting everything they’ve ever done on their site beginning with all of volume 1, which includes the story where Robo and a jeep full of Action Scientists try to take out a walking pyramid. That’s the exact spot where I got hooked.
You can pick up Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne right now, for free, at Team Robo’s web site. You have absolutely no excuse.
That’s what I’m reading this week. What are you picking up?