Monday, September 29, 2008

Cover Up: The Nocturnals: Black Planet #1

It's been a long, busy day, so let's just say I'm a big fan of Daniel Brereton, creator of the creepy-crawly noir series The Nocturnals. His watercolor painting style is gorgeous to look at, and is especially well-suited to the characters and storylines that are a mash-up of 50s horror, sci-fi and crime movies.

Brereton does have a habit of giving every man he draws a serious case of five o'clock shadow — which was distracting on that Worlds Finest mini he did — but it works perfectly in a series where every guy is tough as nails and ready to prove it. And of course, he portrays women that would make a priest kick out a stained glass window and are just as tough (if not tougher) than the mooks around them.

I especially like Brereton's use of light in this cover to The Nocturnals: Black Planet #1; coming from the bottom it looks like fire or candlelight, while at the left it could be the glare of oncoming headlights (emphasized by Polychrome's pull-back stance). But at the top of the cover you can also see the highlights from that swollen full moon that almost seems to be acting as a character in itself. Taken all together, the artist is playing with the shadows and colors to great effect.

Brereton's style is beautifully lush and bigger than life, and I think this cover shows it's at its best when put to work on his creator-owned Nocturnals.

What do you think?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Night Fights: You never see that in the Danger Room

There's no doubt John Gaunt — also known as Grimjack — is one of the cagiest and most ruthless fighters to come out of the pan-dimensional levels of Cynosure.

But even he's powerless before Fangs' finishing move, which makes me wince just to think of it.

Just for the record: If you're training and someone says, "Show me your best move," that doesn't mean A KICK TO THE NADS.


Bahlactus knows what I'm talking about.

Following a link? Read more Great Caesar's Post here!

Panels from Grimjack: Killer Instinct #2
John Ostrander, writer; Timothy Truman, artist

Thursday, September 25, 2008

End of the line for Minx

CBR broke the news yesterday that DC is killing the Minx line, and I can't say I'm surprised.

Minx, a young adult imprint geared primarily toward teenage girls, never really seemed to find its footing and failed to build up any kind of real momentum. I won't pretend to have a full understanding of all the nuances — marketing, the vagaries of book store placement or final sale numbers — but I feel comfortable saying this: From the few titles I read, and judging by the various reviews I digested, the Minx books just weren't very good.

Again, I didn't read a whole lot of the Minx books. Mostly it was because the story outlines didn't interest me (and to be fair, they weren't really done with a late-30s dude in mind) or I lost interest once I read lukewarm reviews. And the ones I did read were just ... OK. Ish.

Was it a matter of hype? Were expectations set too high? I don't think so. Any new imprint, particularly from the Big Two, is going to get a huge marketing push, with plenty of noise and glitter. Whether or not they make it, though, is primarily up to the consumer.

(That's ignoring the seemingly growing, movie industry-like tendency to cut a title if it's not an instant bestseller — but that's a whole other discussion.)

In general, Minx looked as if it had its collective head in the right place, with a range of writers and artists (some of whom already had YA credentials) and story ideas that were broad and varied. The problem often was how those ideas were executed; blandly.

I don't know where the inertia came from, but I know it was there and almost from the beginning. When the Minx line launched I was still working at a local comic book shop, and there wasn't much customer interest in it beyond the curiosity surrounding the first releases. I think we did a front-of-store display, and then the books quietly faded into the shelves of the so-called "drama" section. I don't remember any of the employees — a pretty diverse group where reading habits were concerned — being all that excited about the Minx line, even after reading a title or two. Sometimes reading that second book only cemented the initial indifference. I certainly don't remember any customers coming in after the launch and asking specifically for a Minx book.

But I think the Minx line is worth saving — in some form, at least. Some of the stories showed real potential to carry an ongoing series of books, and I'm glad DC is apparently planning to keep publishing at least a few of the Minx titles for now. What I'd like to see the publisher do is bring those books, and any other similar future titles, together under a general Young Adults line, something that will serve the oh-so-coveted group of readers that are too old for Johnny DC and perhaps not ready (or even interested) in the main DC and Vertigo lines — an "indie" line for kids who aren't necessarily children anymore.

A line geared toward girls and boys (which, honestly, I think the Minx books were anyway) who are looking for something other than spandex or the latest profanity-filled Vertigo offering would be appealing. And not just to 'tweens.

Minx was a good idea — I just don't know if it was completely thought out by DC.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Must be the magic of Scotchgard

So yesterday I gently chided the choice of Mark Dos Santos' amiable drawing style for a creepy comic like Fall of Cthulhu: Godwar #2, and for the most part that still stands. There is something in one panel, though, that is pure genius. I give you ...

The Anti-Cthulhu
Couch-cushion Fort!

Panel from Fall of Cthulhu: Godwar #2

Michael Alan Nelson, writer; Mark Dos Santos, artist

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Pull List (9-24-08): Good dog!

There are a bunch of good comics coming out this week, making it hard to choose which one I'm looking forward to most, but Superman #680 was the top pick for one very simple reason:

Krypto the Goddamn Super-dog!

Writer James Robinson has been carving little love notes out of my suddenly tender heart with his characterization of Superman and Krypto's relationship, to the point that I go gooey every time I read the words, "good dog." And while we've seen the loyal, smart and happy-go-lucky Krypto in previous issues, this one promises a loyal, smart and completely junkyard dog-nuts Krypto going right for Atlas' throat (seriously; check out the preview).

I haven't read Superman for a long time but decided to give it a try when Robinson took over, and I'm glad I did. Characters, setting, even the bad guy — everything fits the way you would hope to give the reader an honest-to-Rao Superman story. Some things, like the bubblegum-like look of the flesh tones and story pacing that might be a little too slow, can be distracting but not to the point of throwing the book off the rails.

If anything, with the sure-handed way an inherently goofy and beloved concept like Krypto is being handled, I'd say Superman is right on track.

Also getting ...

Blue Beetle #31: Getting Jaime mixed up with the Border Patrol is an interesting idea, and I hope the angst between the agency and Hispanics (of whom many make up the Patrol's ranks) is at least touched on. Also, that hat is adorable.

Captain America #42: The conclusion to the "Death of Captain America" storyline, the best espionage/superhero story on the stands.

Cthulhu Tales #5: Boom! seems to have nearly cornered the market on Cthulhu, and that's all right by me. Like any anthology, this series sometimes lets loose a clunker, but it (along with the publisher's other ongoing Mythos-based series) has given me the creeps more than once. Good, Lovecrafty horror.

Daredevil #111: A new storyline starts with this issue, making a good jumping-on point if you've been waiting to give DD a chance. The sound of something like "Lady Bullseye" is usually the sort of thing that makes my eyes roll back so far I can see my own ass, but I trust Ed Brubaker as a writer so I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt. I'll just have to check out my ass on my own time, I guess.

Hellboy: The Crooked Man #3 (of 3): Hands down one of the best Hellboy short stories ever, surprising considering the title character hasn't been given a lot to do so far. In fact, most of the story is being pulled along by Tom Ferrell, cursed, remoreseful and acting as a sort of Appalachian Constantine. Now hear this, Dark Horse: More stories of the backwoods magician! I would totally buy books about the further adventures of Tom Ferrell, especially if they're done by the Crooked Man team of Mike Mignola and Richard Corben. (Preview)

Maybe ...

Back to Brooklyn #1

The Girl Who Could Run Through Time Vol. 1 (of 2)

The Immortal Iron Fist Orson Randall and The Death Queen of California #1

M-Theory #1

Solomon Kane #1 (of 5) (Preview)

Trading up ...

(Titles I either am, or will be, picking up in trade)

100 Bullets Vol. 12: Dirty (trade paperback)

Ambush Bug: Year None #3 (of 6): Dropped from the regular pull list! Too many insider jokes and not enough funny, it's like listening to people talk about a co-worker you don't know. Hopefully it'll come together once it's done.

Fables #76

Fall of Cthulhu: Godwar #2: This series tends to read better in trade, giving the story a chance to build suspense without losing momentum between issues. What's with the new artist, though? Maybe I've just gotten used to Mateus Santolouco's work, but the stuff by Mark Dos Santos seems like an odd choice. The work is solid, but the style just doesn't fit the tone of the book.

Wasteland #20

Recommended ...

Wonder Woman: The Circle (hardcover): Gail Simone made me fall in love with Wonder Woman all over again, and this storyline is a big part of the reason why. I don't know if I'm so smitten (smitten, I tell you!) that I won't wait for the trade paperback, but any fan of the Amazon princess should consider picking this up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Night Fights: No corsage necessary

At their heart, superhero comics are about idealizing the qualities we'd like to see in ourselves — heroism, selflessness, courage, strength, honor. And, of course, bad-assery.

And for my money, there are few comics that stand as icons of The Bad-Ass like the various Grendel Tales mini-series. Spun-off and overseen by Grendel creator Matt Wagner, Grendel Tales told the stories of the warriors, soldiers and killers that tried to find some sort of honor in lives inspired by the legend of the original assassin, and one of the most powerful of those stories was Homecoming.

Susan Verhagen might not sound like a very impressive name, but after dealing with doubts about her role as a grendel, returning home and seemingly finding a chance at peace with her unrequited love Avril only to have it all taken away by a brutal gang — well, they don't call her Grendel for nothing.

Why don't I let Susan do the talking in a language we all understand ...

And she's just getting started!

Bad. Ass.

Just like Bahlactus!

Panel from Grendel Tales: Homecoming #3 (of 3)
Pat McEown, writer and penciller; Dave Cooper, painted art

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm going to rule the world!

I've still got my hands full here at GCP-HQ, so instead of that tricky creature known as "content," I give you ...

The Origin of Doctor Doom
(in four panels)

Yeah, that sounds about right.

From the gift that keeps on giving, Spidey Super Stories #9.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WTF Wednesday: When strikes ... the Funny Bunny!

Spider-Man is not only a hero ...

Like lightning, the web-slinger is on the case!

Even when answers are hard to get, Spidey doesn't give up. Dammit, table lamp — talk!

Meanwhile, tonight's nightmare is revealed!

Oh man, this is getting to be too much for me — I think I'm ready to end this post right now. I know Spider-Man will be disappointed, but ... wait, what'd you say?

Thanks, Spidey!

Panels from Spidey Super Stories #9
Jean Thomas, writer (based on a script by Tom Whedon); Winslow Mortimer, penciller;
Mike Esposito and Tony Mortellaro, inkers

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Sibling rivalry!

What's the deadliest spice in the galaxy?


(With apologies for the crappy scans and even crappier joke)

Panels from The New Teen Titans Annual #1
Marv Wolfman, writer; George Perez, artist

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fun fact: Gorillas are surprisingly litigious

Are you having problems you just can't solve?

Is your neighbor's tree dumping leaves all over your yard?

Does your boss refuse to give you the raise you deserve?

Are you an Amazonian princess wrestling with espionage and god-level intrigue?


At Tolifhar, Rhanda & Associates, we know the best man for the job is a gorilla! Put the strength of hyper-intelligent apes behind your next negotiation and see what the best of Gorilla City can do for you!!

Remember, when it comes to arbitration, think Tolifhar, Rhanda & Associates. We also handle: Drunk driving convictions! Bankruptcies! Personal injury! And, of course, highly motivated bodyguard and metahuman protection services!

Call us today at 1-800-GORILLA and put Tolifhar, Rhanda & Associates to work ... for you!!

Panels from Wonder Woman #24
Gail Simone, writer; Bernard Chang, artist

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Suddenly ... EL GORGO!!

I can't remember where I first saw it (I know Kevin also linked to it recently), but the first online issue of El Gorgo has been sitting on my desktop for about a week now, waiting to be read. And now that I have read it, my only question is — why did I wait so long?!

If you have any love for comics in your heart, you'll love El Gorgo. The comic crams a ton of awesome into a story in which Lovecraft's Dagon, Kirby-crackle and a super-intelligent gorilla luchador are only the beginning. And while it owes a definite debt to the Silver Age, the title avoids becoming a shallow imitation without sacrificing any of the fun; every time El Gorgo opens his mouth it's like listening to a happy-go-lucky Namor, and I can't wait to see more of a supporting cast that apparently includes a dog in a wrestler's mask.


The writing by Mike McGee is spot-on, and leads the reader breezily to a neat, classically convoluted and clever plot twist that makes me eager to see the next issue. The art by Tamas Jakab almost tips toward sloppy in places, but it still suits the story and the tone the creators are obviously going for, so it's a minor complaint. Honestly, I don't even know it I'd call it a complaint, because I actually like the sketchy, kinetic artwork. It feels as if the art is racing to keep up with the story, and together they work.

El Gorgo #1 had me grinning nearly from the first page straight through to the last, and it's free for God's sake. Go read it and see what you think.

UPDATE: Print copies of El Gorgo #1 are now available through the creators' Web site, and at $3.95 it's a bargain. Show your support and buy a copy of your very own!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Roll call (part 2): Fattening up for winter

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I enjoy the comic book fan community. Sure, there are some mouthbreathers out there, but I've been lucky enough to come across a lot of people who are able to discuss comics with intelligence, wit, humor and an honest passion for the medium.

Judging by the sites listed in my blogroll, you'd think those would be enough to keep me occupied. Oh, but you'd be wrong — dead wrong (also, you had me at hello and I'm getting too old for this shit). I'm always coming across comics blogs that bring a fresh take or different voice to things, and I'd like to highlight some of the ones that I'll be adding to the 'roll.

A lot of these have been active for awhile (and a few are actually really well known) and I'm just now getting around to adding them, but if any of these are new to you, swing by, give 'em a read and let them know Maxo sent you.

The Aquaman Shrine (Rob also does the Hey Kids, Comics! blog, among others)

Blah-g! De Wicked Juan

Bob Mitchell in the 21st Century

Brill Building (aka Ian Brill)

Comics 212 (aka Christopher Butcher)

Dave Ex Machina


Good Comics for Kids

Hoosier Journal of Inanity (99 percent more about comics than you think!)

I Was Ben

Mindless Ones

Power Most Cosmic

Second Printing!

Sporadic Sequential

Warren Peace Sings the Blues

Hey, I've got some reading to catch up on!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Please hold on to your tickets

Word has come down from on high, and it's the end! No Friday Night Fights! In the most bitter wallop of all, the mighty Bahlactus has denied his loyal heralds the honor of their weekly battle. Friday Night Fights is over! Done! Gone forever!

Well, until next week when it picks up again with Ladies Night: Round 6. Geez, settle down, Orion.

In the meantime you can check out the historical records for every bone-crackin', bowel-shatterin' blow from Great Caesar's Post!

I'm, uh ... I'm just gonna go do some stretches or something.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Pull List (9-4-08): Aiiee! El Diablo!!

Aaaaaaaaand ... to the list!

El Diablo #1: This is probably a ridiculous, fanciful dream, but I'd like to see a return of DC heroes to that mythical place called "The West." Not necessarily the Old West (that Bat Lash mini? Blech.), but just the West as a concept, as the idea of a place of wild lawlessness but with an urban update. We've already got Blue Beetle patrolling the El Paso/Juarez borderland, and it would be nice to see other characters keeping an eye on something other than the Eastern Seaboard.

I don't know exactly where El Diablo #1 is set, but it sure doesn't look like Metropolis. I'm looking forward to this new version of the Haunted Horseman, particularly since the new Diablo is Hispanic; is joined by the original character acting as a mentor (I'm a sucker for the ol' Ancient Advisor bit); and it's written by Jai Nitz, who wrote that all-Spanish issue of Blue Beetle (I smell team-up!), with art by Phil Hester and Ande Parks.

I wouldn't mind if DC came up with some new characters instead of just new versions of old characters once in a while, but if they're going to do it they might as well make it fun — and this looks as if it has what it takes to hit the mark like a gunslinger at High Noon.

The rest ...

Army @ Love: The Art of War #2

Manhunter #34

Maybe ...

Fringe #1 (of 6): Investigators of the paranormal is usually the sort of thing that's right up my alley, but I just can't shake the feeling that this tie-in to an upcoming TV show of the same name isn't going to be much more than six issues of paper-thin advertising. And even though one of the writers is Dr. Horrible co-creator Zack Whedon (and seriously, this title takes three writers?), I don't think there's enough here to tempt me into buying it. Huh, what do you know — I just talked myself out of it.

Mixed Vegetables Vol. 1: I have a confession to make — I have a soft spot for silly manga about star-crossed lovers, and this one about a wannabe sushi chef and a wannabe pastry chef looks like fun. STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.

Spooks Omega Team #1: I was about to disregard this as just another "elite, special-ops task force kicking ass" sorta thing until I realized it was an elite, special-ops task force kicking ass sorta thing written by Larry Hama. The guy who wrote all that G.I. Joe. I even like the art work. Well played, Devil's Due.

Sub-Mariner: Depths #1: The art looks OK, but I'm probably going to wait and see if the story goes beyond Namor shouting "Imperious Rex" and acting like a douchebag. Don't get me wrong, I love that, but I don't know if it can carry an entire mini-series. I'm assuming it's a mini — the solicitation doesn't say. If it's a regular series, consider me even more doubtful. (Also, a helpful hint to the guys and gals at Marvel online: If you're going to post a preview, make sure the first three pages are actually legible. Thanks!)

Recommended ...

Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 2: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven: As close to a perfect kung-fu comic mixing modern sensibilities with 70s-style wah-taaah! as you can get.

Krazy & Ignatz 1925-1926: A Happy Lend Fur Away (trade paperback; new printing): George Herriman's Krazy Kat is considered one of the most important, groundbreaking comic strips in the history of the medium, and rightly so. Beautiful in its starkness, surreal in story and heartbreaking in its ever-present undercurrent of unrequited — and unconditional — love, the strip is also consistently funny and strangely real. Like a brick to the head, Krazy Kat hits you hard and leaves a lasting impression: Get it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Someone will die!

I've been slacking a little with the updates, but when I see a beloved hero on the verge of being wiped out because of some arbitrary editorial edict — well, there's no time to waste. Consider this a call to action! A call to arms! We cannot, we will not, stand for this!

Oh. Well. At least we know this won't end up with some lame resurrection story or something.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cover Up: World's Finest Comics #303

No artsy-fartsy analysis for the cover to World's Finest Comics #303 — I just think this is made out of pure awesome.

Click to Green Blizzard size!

Also awesome: This is my 300th post! I actually had a whole thing planned, but in the grand American tradition of celebrating Labor Day, I decided to phone it in instead. I would like to thank everyone who's taken the time to comment, added Great Caesar's Post to their readers and sidebars, or who just swing by on a regular basis — I appreciate it with the ferocity of a deadly plague.