Reading Pile: 2/21/16

Voracious, More Than Meets The Eye, Mercury Heat, & Klaus

Voracious #1- This first issue was a pretty engaging launch as the first half of the book dealt with the trauma of losing someone and being directionless in life and then the second half turned into a story about time travel and killing dinosaurs so that the main character can open a restaurant and restart his life selling gourmet dino delicacies. Like really, that’s what the book is about. And it’s pretty dang fun. Writer Markisan Naso has a great voice, delivers some engaging characterization, and sets up a really well paced plot. Jason Muhr delivers art, lettering, and designs and the book has a crisp visual voice that really helps delivers the scripts. This was a great over-sized first issue that is well worth checking out. A

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #49- Man, James Roberts is a sadistic and evil human and I love every script he puts forth. There are some genuinely horrible and creepy moments/characters/concepts in this issue, and any book that can offer you that range of villainy in their mythology about trucks that turn into robots and adorable characters like Tailgate deserves a reward. Or a punishment, not sure about that. A

Mercury Heat #7- Well I’m still here, and I’m impressed that Kieron Gillen is still here, so I’ll probably stay here. I was, for some odd reason, genuinely surprised by the end of this issue. It’s the start of a gratuitous crossover that I think is also sort of a joke, and maybe that’s why I’m sort of enthralled to continue reading. Gillen feels fully invested in this character and it really shows, and I really appreciate that considering the uber-violent nature of the series. Which is about to get more violent as it enters into a sort of tongue-in-cheek meta free-for-all next issue I believe. B

Klaus #3- I’m enjoying this issue by issue, but I do believe this will read fantastically as a collected edition. This was definitely a transition chapter with a lot of set-up happening, and Dan Mora’s artwork is stealing the show with every panel. A

Price Check: Is It Worth It?

Manhattan Projects HC & The Multiversity HC

Manhattan Projects Deluxe Edition Vol 1 HC- Published by Image, $34.99- Coming in at 320 pages, this handsomely designed and bound oversized hardcover edition reprints the first ten issues of the dark comedy/sci-fi alternate history mystery written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Nick Pitarra (& Ryan Browne in chapter 10). That’s the equivalent of the first two softcover collections and, depending on which printing of vol 1 of the softcover you find, it’s really only $5-10 more in cost.

Yes they are simple, but I like them and want them

You get some decent back-matter but not a whole lot. There are sketches, character designs, and an abundance of Hickman graphic design work. It’s worth noting the complete absence of the original covers, and while they are minimalist in overall design I feel that leaving them out is a loss. Ideally they will include them in the future volumes, or perhaps in a separate companion piece that breaks down Hickman’s own design work. All-in-all, these are a great upgrade from the softcovers and a nice addition to a collection of similarly scales Image hardcovers, but the completist in me misses about 10 pages worth of material. Worth It, But Gimme Them Covers.

The Multiversity Deluxe Edition HC- Published by DC Comics, $49.99- Written by Grant Morrison with art by an array of amazing and talented artists, this nice oversized edition hardcover collects the entirety of Multiversity event and the package clocks in at about 448 pages. Now if you add up all 9 issues of the event it those issues would cost you about $49 bucks. Now  the real winner that makes this more than just a fair value package is that it includes all of the variant covers, and man there were a lot of variant covers. Some of the really fantastic as well, so you get the added benefit of that art gallery plus character designs from Morrison, sketch work by various artists, and a neat little set of notes about the Multiversal map Morrison created.

On that notes, it’s worth mentioning that the inside of the dustjacket itself is a reproduction of the Multiversal Map, while the art on the hardcover itself is a nice piece of Ivan Reis art featuring most of the key characters in the series. So I have to say that while the price point is high, it is well worth it for such an entertaining story and that they did put a lot of effort and forethought into this hardcover production. Well Worth It.

Reading Pile: 2/17/16

Zana, Surviving Megalopolis, Paper Girls, & Code Pru

Zana #1- Zana is another launch title from new publisher Emet Comics, and I kind of consider it to be frontline title along with the Wendy Project. These are both such different projects that I don’t want to say one is better than the other, which is something I really enjoy about the diversity of titles Emet has shown so far. But of everything the company has released so far, these two books stand out a little more for me.

Zana takes place in an alternate future version of South Africa where apartheid never ended. It’s a mixture of dystopian sci-fi, mysticism, and racial conflicts as the mixed race lead character struggles to live in a world where everyone from the white Royals, the people in her Tribal area, and even her ancestors want her dead. The world building is incredibly engaging as Jean Barker’s scripts and pacing roll out the political, racial, and interpersonal tensions at an excellent pace and Joey Granger’s artwork and colors make every pop in a richly realized style. This series is most definitely worth checking out. A

Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #2- I’m generally curious about how big of a readership this title will find since the original run was released as a graphic novel. It’s still enjoyable for me and probably one of the projects I’ve enjoyed most from Gail Simone over the past few years, so I’m not trying to knock it. Just curious about the effectiveness of the format decision. B

Paper Girls #5- Five issues in and I find it difficult to really summarize exactly what this book is about, but I do enjoy it with each release. Part of that is certainly Cliff Chiang’s artwork, but I like the general panic, confusion, and weird sci-fi that Vaughan is utilizing. I think this is where the first trade will stop, so it will be interesting to see what Vaughan Saga ‘trade paperback only’ fans will think when they check it out. B+

Code Pru #2- Garth Ennis’ RomCom /Horror mash-up comes to its initial close as this will become a back-up in Avatar’s Cinema Purgatorio anthology. Pretty much everything played out the way Ennis telegraphed it from the first issue, which is fine because you can tell he’s just having fun with the concept. I’m a little sad it won’t be its own series, but at the same time smaller episodic segments might be a much better way to go, and that certainly will drive me to try out Cinema Purgatorio. A-

Marvel Speed Review: 2/15/16

Old Man Logan, All-New All-Different Avengers, Howard the Duck, & Patsy Walker

Old Man Logan #1- On one hand, I like Lemire’s scripting a bit more than Bendis, and he works well with Sorrentino. On the otherhand, I’m generally not a fan of my heroes straight up murdering people who didn’t commit crimes, even if their alternate future version of them did. I just don’t really care for the tone of it right off the bat, but that’s something that can change relatively quickly. It is just one more notch on my lists of reasons to stay away from mutants however and Marvel’s horrible need to make anything with an X-man as convoluted as possible. So we’re keeping normal Wolverine dead, but let’s bring up his alternate future version after surviving a multi-universal crisis. That’s not going to be confusing at all…… B

All-New All Different Avengers #4- This book is by no means groundbreaking in any way, but it is fun. And while the title is a frustrating abuse of adjectives, I just have to say a fun superhero book is refreshing. Waid is dropping minor sub-plots here and there, Asrar’s art is clean and engaging, and the characters are experiencing interesting dynamics. It’s just fun. B+

Howard the Duck #4- Still love this title. The introduction of a Galactus groupie is fantastic. A

Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat #2- And this maintains the fun and tone from the first issue incredibly well. I hope Marvel keeps this title going for as long as Leth and Williams can take it, because it’s a nice tonal switch from the larger group titles like the various Avengers and X-titles that don’t seem to be doing as well as they can be. A-

Reading Pile: 2/13/16

Replica, Kennel Block Blues, & Street Fighter Unlimited

Replica #2- This second issue to Paul Jenkins and Andy Clarke’s comedy sci-fi police mystery following a frustrated human and his police force comprised mostly of clones of himself is really hitting its stride, offering a funny, engaging, and entertaining read. I like the world of interstellar bureaucracy and incompetent aliens they are developing, and the fun range of sub-plots available with the clones. And that’s something in itself worth mentioning; I really, really hate clones. As a plot device, as a cliché, and any type of fiction, I learned to hate clones immensely over the years. This book? It’s proof that almost any idea can be good as long as it’s handled well, and Paul Jenkins is no slouch. So I’m looking forward to the next issue, and hopefully they will keep the momentum strong on the series. A-

Kennel Block Blues #1- I had trouble really caring about this first issue. It might not be fair, but I had to compare it against Oni’s Kaijumax, another prison drama series with unlikely stars. Kaijumax hit hard and hit fast, developing its world and characters deftly while maintaining space for heart ripping emotion. This book…..not so much. It’s not bad by any means, it was just mostly boring to me. I didn’t care about any of the characters, the art didn’t engage me, and its mixture of psychedelic mental breakdowns and inferred reality twists for future issues was just a little underwhelming. In an industry drowning with too many choices, it didn’t give me much of a reason to continue with the next issue. B-

Streetfighter Unlimited #2- I enjoyed the first issue for what it was, a nostalgic trip back to my 90’s video game habits and a general liking for the SF aesthetic of characters. This issue is very much the same, but the downside of that is that we are dealing with a huuuuuge cast, and I’m not going to care about them all. Partially because I never did, and partially because there have been dozens of new characters added to the mythology that I’ve never heard of. So I don’t want to hold any of that against it really, because that would be hypocritical considering my love of another franchise with untold thousands of characters. I will say though that the sprawling sub-plots don’t do much for me, so I will find it difficult to continue reading the series as single issues. B

Price Check: Is It Worth It?

Groot HC & Goon Library Vol 1

Groot HC- Published by Marvel, $24.99- Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger’s lovingly well-crafted and emotionally uplifting mini-series featuring the cosmic adventures of Groot is collected at a price of $24.99, which is actually a decent price. Marvel has put me off plenty of times with their higher than necessary price points, but this six issue series originally would have cost you $23.94 anyway so for the extra buck you get a nicely bound edition that’s a little taller than the normal comic size. For 136 pages that’s really not too bad, plus you get all of the covers plus the variant covers. For one of the most enjoyable mini-series of 2015, that’s a lot of win. So you can probably wait for the softcover and potentially save $5, but as it is I would recommend this particular edition. Definitely Worth It.

The Goon Library HC Vol 1-Published by Dark Horse, $39.99- It’s a library edition from Dark Horse, so of course it’s worth it. I don’t even have to do a review, but for the sake of explaining just how good Dark Horse is at the hardcover game I’ll give you the breakdown. This is the equivalent of the first four Goon softcover trades, and when you put those together you get a base retail value of about $68 bucks. Following so far? So this oversized, supremely well designed and sturdy hardcover edition not only has those four volumes, but also includes the forewords to every previous edition, plus sketches, plus original trade dress artwork, and a slew of additional backmatter. For less than the original price value and with a higher quality of production. And that original production value wasn’t bad by any means.

So how many pages does that add up to? There are 496 pages of content to this book. That’s 496 pages you could read, or 496 pages that you could use as a weapon because this is a great thing you could just throw at a person. Not that I’m condoning violence here, but I tend to grade all my bound hardcovers on whether they could be used for blunt force trauma, and really, I feel like that’s keeping in spirit with the Goon. But I digress.

If you like the Goon already, this is a fantastic way to upgrade. If you’ve never read the Goon, this is an affordable way to get a chunk of it in one sitting, and an interesting study to see how Eric Powell developed over the years. And if you hate the Goon, then this is a slightly expensive heavy object to just throw at people, but at least it can double as a gift. Hell Yes This Is Worth It.