City of Dust #3 Review

cod3_covera_clint_langleyThere are very few series I look forward to each month. This is one of the fortunate to make the cut. Along with Geoff Johns’ Action Comics, Paul Dini’s Detective Comics and select titles from Jeph Loeb and Brian Michael Bendis, I know with City of Dust I’m guaranteed a good read.

Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) has used the series thus far to craft a tight story within a compelling world. There’s no extraneous information. Every character, every concept and every panel is all there for a reason. 5 issues isn’t a lot to make a lasting impression with an original concept from a new publisher, but Niles and his assorted artists serve up quality by the shovel full.

City of Dust’s core concept is an intriguing one. In the future, creativity is basically abolished, with all religion and art banned so as not to corrupt the minds of the masses. Protagonist Philip Khrome is a cop who imprisoned his father years ago for reading him a fairytale, but now he is beginning to see that perhaps such stories aren’t as corrupting as the lawgivers say.

cod3_coverb_lucioIssue 3 opens with a gruesome scene, of which this series is not shy of, as Khrome uses some old school CSI techniques to determine exactly what happened. His superior, Blake believes Khrome’s mind is slightly askew for not putting his trust in the crime scene bots, who say that there is no evidence amongst the bloody corpse. Facing suspension, Khrome walks away, with fellow cop, Sonja to check out an old evidence storage area. At the same time what appear to be werewolves brutally attack a high society ball. Khrome gets called into Blake’s office, but instead of receiving the expected, “You’ve gone too far! You’re off the case!” type scenario we’ve seen in every Steven Seagal film, Khrome gets a surprise. Blake takes his face off, revealing himself to be a Terminator-like android, created by Henry Ajax. Ajax was once a respected proponent of hi-tech gadgetry, but has now gone underground after being disgraced. Blake and Khrome visit him, surrounded by assorted monsters, and the importance of Khrome’s father in the story takes another step forward. The dramatic change in behaviour from Blake can only be attributed to him “saving face” in front of the other cops, due to the fact that moments later he’s pleasantly talking to Khrome like an old buddy. With Sonja, and now Blake, it seems Khrome’s allies are growing, but they still prefer to remain closet friends, lest they too get in trouble with the harsh authorities. This is never spoken, despite Khrome’s noir-like captions (which work well), so there is some assumption on the part of the reader, which is never a good move. However, the series’ concept and visuals rise above these minor storytelling distractions.

cod3_coverc_michal_ivanThis isn’t the best issue so far, and has less of the supernatural elements introduced in the previous two issues. The art is also different, but not in a jarring way. Brandon Chng handles the art chores here, whereas it was Zid on the previous two. Both have a similar painterly style, with great textures and lighting effects, but Zid’s is the better of the pair. This issue is a slight mis-step in the series as it doesn’t really propel things forward until the last few pages, but with only two issues remaining until the conclusion, Niles will undoubtedly unleash a barrage of blood, and answers, upon us as the sci-fi scenario and horror elements finally meet head on, as tantalisingly promised in this series.

This issue goes on sale December 24.

Paul Dini Signing

paul-diniAt Meltdown Comics, a very cool comic shop, you can catch a peek at writer Paul Dini. The man has been closely related to the Bat Universe for the last 10 years, as the creator of Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn, a writer for the 90s Batman: The Animated Series cartoon, and the current scribe for Detective Comics, which has been so much better than Grant Morrison’s Batman work as of late. Official details below.

Paul Dini will make an appearance on Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 from 7 – 10 p.m. at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, Calif. for a Jingle Belle holiday party to sign copies of the recently released holiday special JINGLE BELLE: SANTA CLAUS VS. FRANKENSTEIN and copies of the MADAME MIRAGE trade paperback.

Dini will also be available for a Q&A to talk about these projects and his other works. Holiday cookies and egg nog will also be available for attendees. 

After a successful run of the first “season” of MADAME MIRAGE at Top Cow, Dini then announced he would bring his entire Dinicartoons universe to the publisher. The JINGLE BELLE holiday special is the first book in that line.

Meltdown Comics is located at 7522 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90046. They can be reached at (323) 851-7223 and found on the web at meltcomics.com.

dini-signing

Mighty Avengers #21 Cover

mightyavengers_21Touted as a great jumping on point for new readers, this extra sized issue guest stars all the different Avengers flavours. That would be New, Young, Dark and Classic. I think there’s also a Cinnamon. Written by Dan Slott and pencilled by Khoi Pham, this January 14 releasing special ish shows the new line-up,  post Dark Reign. On the cover is the once-crazy (hopefully) daughter of Magneto, Scarlet Witch, Hank Pym in a new outfit to honour his wife Janet who died in the last issue of Secret Invasion and the female android created by  Ultron, Jacosta. An intriguing mix of characters so far.

Hopefully fans won’t get fat on all these Avengers variations, but the post-Secret Invasion world, with Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) effectively now a recognised hero, the Marvel U could have enough room for the ever growing list of super-teams. It reminds me of when DC made Lex Luthor President in 2000, and all the great stories that flowed on from that. With Osborn gaining power, yet still retaining his evil machinations, our heroes could have some interesting battles ahead.

Official Wolverine Trailer

This trailer was supposed to go live on-line (after being released with prints of  sci-fi re-make The Day The Earth Stood Still) yesterday. However, I looked everywhere and couldn’t find it, until now. (Then I realised that due to the time difference between the U.S and Oz, I was too eager) So, here’s the latest trailer (not the one shown at Comic-Con this year) for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, opening May 1 next year. It has elements from the Origin comic series, plus guest stars such as fan faves Gambit, Deadpool, the Blob, White Queen and more. Sabretooth is in it too, of course, and it looks like Liev Schrieber was a good choice. So sit back and enjoy. Marvel really are making some fine films these days.

 

Cool, huh? And what a way to celebrate my 200th post! Woo hoo!

B.P.M Signing

Paul Sizer is what you could possibly call a Renaissance Man. Artist, writer, D.J, entrepeneur. Now you can see him face to face. If you live in Michigan that is. Paul will be signing copies of his latest OGN (Original Graphic Novel), B.P.M. on Wednesday. I wasn’t that familiar with the artist until I checked out his great looking web-site, which is chock full of funky art and features. See what I mean here. Anyway, here’s the official skinny:

On Wednesday, December 17th Green Brain Comics (13210 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI) is proud to celebrate the release of the new graphic novel “B.P.M.” by creator Paul Sizer with a book signing and a live dj set courtesy of local turntable prodigy DJ Konspiracy. To make the party even more special Green Brain Comics will be hosting their monthly Comic Jam that same night. It’s a great time to hang out with local comic creators and your chance to participate on improvised comic strips.

 

The book signing starts at 4pm on Wednesday December 17th. The Comic Jam starts when the signing ends at 7pm. DJ Konspiracy will be playing music until around 8pm.
securedownload

 


“B.P.M.”, the latest graphic novel from artist/writer PAUL SIZER is his love letter to the music he loves. In combining the story of a young DJ with the power of computer enhanced artwork, Paul’s goal is to merge his love of comics and his love of music into a moving, dynamic story of passion, motivation and hard choices over following one’s creative dreams.

 “…Call it a mashup, call it a remix, call it a day-glo pop love letter to a misspent youth: B.P.M. is brain candy in the best sense of the word.” -PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Two Interviews

And one of them’s from me. I interviewed Scott Shuford, who’s a Christian entrepeneur interested in marketing, tech and comics. He’s just joined the Christian Comic Arts Society as a guiding hand and was kind enough to chat to me about his varied business and creative life. Go to Sight to check it out.

There’s also a great interview with Barry Levine, the head honcho of Radical Publishing, the maker of those great looking comics such as Caliber, Freedom Formula and the upcoming Shrapnel. He discusses his past as a music photographer and the curious mix of Hollywood and comics. It’s at the Los Angeles Times site.

The Darkness: Lodbrok’s Hand Review

dklh001_cov_aThis is a good stand-alone issue, to be sure. It’s a simple one-shot, but it won’t reveal anything about The Darkness. It’s a very loose tie-in. Apart from one of the main characters being a medieval Darkness bearer, it could be just a generic sword and sorcery adventure. Written by Phil Hester with art by Michael Avon Oeming, Lodbrok’s Hand recounts the sad tale of Lodbrok, the captain of a Viking ship, who as a youth lost his hand. The crazy King Grimur was moving from village to village forcibly enlisting strong men in his army. When young Lodbrok’s family was taken, he, his magic-wielding sister Freydis and a few other youngens set on a harsh journey of revenge. They realise they’re outnumbered and outgunned, or rather, out sworded, so Lodbrok bravely, or foolishly, calls upon the creature known as the Black Captain. He’s big, he has goblin servants bonded to the oars of his ship, and he’s on Lodbrok’s side, for  a price. A bloody battle ensues. Heads are cut off. Freydis dies.Two dragons fight, and Lodbrok learns the hard way what his victory means. The twist at the end, in which the Captain revives Freydis to serve him as a slave forever, rather than Lodbrok himself is a nice one and shows the maniacal assistance that The Darkness offers. It’s an amusing enough tale. The story is so simple that a 24 page one-shot is all that’s needed. Hester has the speech of centuries past down pat and while this isn’t Oeming’s best work (that’s in Mice Templar-grab the TPB), his trademark harsh lines and strong forms are evident. His character and costume design is great as always, and looks like something from a Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy II, Pan’s Labyrinth) film. Go here for  a preview.

The Remnant #1 Review

remnant_001bWhen an actor’s name appears on the cover of a comic, us fanboys become skeptical. Heroes hottie Milo Ventimiglia’s name is stamped on Rest from Devil’s Due and more familiar names like Nicolas Cage have had their input on comics, thanks to Virgin (who also had something in the works with Hugh Jackman. I guess we won’t be holding our breath for that one, thanks to their recent downsizing). Kevin Smith seems like the only name that makes fans flock to his comics, regardless of an inconsistent output. And do you notice how it’s usually the indie publishers that pull this? Marvel and DC don’t.

So another actor has his name associated with a comic. A Baldwin brother no less. However, don’t let that deter you. Don’t judge this book by its cover. The first issue is an engrossing start to this mini-series. The story is created by Stephen Baldwin, with help from Andrew Cosby (creator of the TV show Eureka) and is scripted by Caleb Monroe.

Beginning with corpses floating in the street after Hurricane Katrina is an attention grabber. Then to seal the deal one elderly man speaks into the ear of a victim, giving him life. We are then introduced to CIA agent, and newlywed, David Sacker just before he’s caught in an explosion at the Federal Building in L.A while attempting to file marriage papers. David is flung to the ground, clutching his life, just before the man saved in the first few pages passes on the favour, whispering to David and allowing him to return to his very thankful, and amorous, wife. All seems happy for the re-united couple, until a pair of investigators from Homeland Security break the joy by taking Sarah Sacker in for questioning. She, nor David, has any idea why she’s there, despite her name and address being found on the bomber’s body. David is determined to save his wife any way he can and goes home for the night. However, being the on-edge agent that he is, notices a stranger, attacks him and a chase begins. Little does he know that the man he’s silently chasing is the one who saved him in the explosion. Confusion about the mind behind the attack reigns, until a breakthrough in the analysis – the main suspect is the silent Katrina ‘victim’ who apparently is legally dead.

Where this all goes from here is anyone’s guess, but this is a superb set-up. Its mixture of cop-show reality and the supernatural is a classy one. Nothing about this story is over-the-top, but is all handled with a very aware pace. Monroe builds a great rhythm and uses his limited time with the main characters extremely well. In only a few scenes, we know all we need to know about them and their personality shows. It’s a simple tale, but one with enough surprises to entice you further. I dare anyone to not read the next issue after reading this dynamic premiere. Apart from the pacing and characterisation, the greatest highlight is the art.

I’ve never heard of Julian Totino Tedesco. After this, that will change. I would not be surprised if he graduates to the Big Two in a year or so. The action in this issue is minimal.  The explosion and chase are more than needed, and essentially the remaining pages are talking heads. But in Tedesco’s capable hands, they come alive on the page. He’s not afraid to use white space when necessary, and to break panel boundaries and wisely use every page as a new design opportunity. The Federal Building explosion is the best ka-boom I have ever seen on paper and the chase is so varied in its choice of angles that it could be a Spielberg storyboard. Managing natural conversation with scenes of devastation, and a somewhat raunchy make-out scene between the Sackers is a great display of diversity. His art lies somewhere in the vicinity of Frank Cho (Hulk), thanks to the flowing lines and natural expressions. I am so glad BOOM! has enlisted Tedesco. The studio has some truly great titles around, with original ideas, like Challenger Deep and Station, but too often the art is too rough and sketchy and doesn’t give the concepts the support they deserve. If this is a sign of BOOM!’s future, I’ll be definitely be reading more of their stuff.

There is a subtle sense that the world’s not as it is supposed to be running throughout this ish; one that will become more prominent in the next three issues if Baldwin’s rather eloquent intro is to be taken as a promise of things to come. This book has got me. It’s a well rounded package. On every level its just a pleasant surprise.

The Remnant #1 hits stores on Christmas Eve. Grab it.

Farscape Preview

FarScape_001CBOOM! Studios has wisely chosen a good, familiar franchise with Farscape and they’re not the only one. Dark Horse has Buffy, IDW has Angel and Doctor Who and Star Trek. TV franchises work, because they have a built in audience. They work even more when they’re faithful adaptations, in-continuity and carry on what the TV series began. Because Buffy has been promoted as the official next season by creator Joss Whedon himself, Dark Horse, and the industry, has been rewarded with a greater audience, and  a new one at that. Hopefully BOOM! will have a similar response. I was never a huge fan of Farscape, but it has my respect for being a sci-fi series filmed in Australia and for using puppets. Thanks to the Jim Henson Company, no less! Well, Christmas Eve is the launch of the new Farscape comic, which picks up straight after the events of The Peacekeeper Wars mini-series. This was originally slated for a November release but has been pushed back to allow for some fine-tuning. The comic is written by Farscape creator Rockne O’Bannon and Keith R.A. DeCandido, with art by Tommy Patterson. Preview pages are below to give you a glimpse of John Crichton and co. once more.

FarScape_001C

farscape001_1

farscape001_2

farscape001_3

Dark Reign Trailer

Now that Marvel’s most recent epic, Secret Invasion is over, the next phase begins. All that we know so far is that the Avengers will be re-made yet again. Those guys have more roster changes than the Guns N Roses line-up. Anyway, to begin putting the pieces together early, here’s a look at two covers for Secret Invasion: Dark Reign, focusing on Norman Osborn’s (Green Goblin) new power play. This one-shot is out on Christmas Eve and is written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Alex Maleev. Dark Reign: New Nation is another one-shot by Bendis again and others – including Jonathan Hickman in his first foray into superheroics, with art by various pencillers including Stefano Caselli and Leonardo Manco. The New Nation one-shot will focus on the new Secret Warriors, Agents of Atlas, War Machine and more and will go on sale December 17. It’s basically a showcase for a slew of new series starring these characters.You can also grab a free Dark Reign edition of Marvel Previews at your LCS and Marvel has also put together a neato trailer for Dark Reign.

secretinvasion_darkreign

secretinvasion_darkreign_variant

darkreign_newnation

Dinobots Debut From IDW

image0061Those loveable Dinobots were fan favourites in the Transformers cartoon in the 80s and hold a dear place in many Transfans’ hearts. Now, IDW, the current publisher of original Transformers comics, including tie-ins to the next live-action movie, are giving them the attention they deserve.

The first issue of Maximum Dinobots is a new-reader friendly 32 pager and will be released on December 10.Written by long-time Transformers scribe, Simon Furman, with art by Nick Roche, the series shows the Dinobots reunion and features the huge bad guy Scorponok, and two Autobots – namely, Hot Rod and Sunstreaker. Cool! That’s a lot of robots in disguise in one issue.

Holidays Go BOOM!

Man, American comic shops are so much cooler than the ones in Oz, especially after checking out these funky LCSs in New York. Like they did last year, publishers BOOM! Studios are throwing a party at Meltdown. Details below.

Everyone’s Invited to the BOOM! Studios Holiday Party!
@Meltdown in Los Angeles
Sponsored by Asahi

It’s time once again for the BOOM! Studios Holiday Party at Meltdown! Everyone’s invited to our holiday party taking place this next Wednesday December 17th at Meltdown. We couldn’t have made BOOM! a success without our friends and fans, so come and help us celebrate another successful year. Most importantly – FREE BEER.

Who: The BOOM! crew. Mingle with Mark Waid, Andy Cosby, Ross Richie, Michael Alan Nelson and many more!

When: Wednesday, Dec. 17, 8:00pm – till they kick us out!

Where: Meltdown Comics & Collectibles 7522 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90046

Why: Free Beer while supplies last.

boomholidayparty_20081

Villain Variant Covers

As part of Marvel’s Bring on the Bad Guys! ‘event,’ they are populating a few of their best books with villain-centric covers. Below are the covers of Incredible Hercules#124, with the god of war Ares on the cover, and art by Ed McGuiness. There’s also the crazy cover for X-Force #10 by the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz. Both variant covers go on sale on December 31.

herc124villain

xforce9villain

10th Muse Returns

One of Bluewater Productions’ most well-known titles is back. Press release below.

downloadBluewater Productions is bringing back its flagship title 10th Muse as part of the Ray Harryhausen Presents comic book line. The exciting new series, “10th Muse: 800”, is scheduled for a February 2009 release.

Just as Stan Lee took on DC Comics, Wonder Woman in the “Just Imagine” titles, Ray Harryhausen Presents will be putting a whole new spin on the 10th Muse.  It all begins when Lxandra witnesses the destruction of Olympus. She wakes up in the year 2907 to find herself in a whole new world with a completely different body.  The world may have changed, but the pursuit of justice hasn’t. Not only must the 10th Muse adjust to her life in a different time, she must also fight a new enemy with an old face.  The battle for the city of Neo Ithaca begins with a bang in the first epic issue of 10th Muse 800!

“2009 is going to be the year of the 10th Muse at Bluewater,” said series creator, and Bluewater publisher Darren G. Davis.  “This version of the character is going to be a little darker than the traditional series, along the lines of “Blade Runner.”  Some of the classic characters from the original Image Comics series will be making an appearance.  There is also a new ongoing series in the works that will feature the new and fully reloaded Lxandra.

The new version of 10th Muse is written by Adam David Gragg.  Gragg has worked on other Ray Harryhausen Presents titles, most notably “Sinbad and the Merchant of Ages.”   He will be teamed with former Chaos Comics penciler Roman Morales III.  Roman is best known for his work on such Chaos series as Lady Death, Evil Ernie, Lynch Mob and also the X-Men book Time Gilders for Marvel Comics. Morales’ long time inker Greg Harms who has done extensive freelancing work will be working on the inks.  Rounding out the team, with breathtaking watercolor paints will be colorist Martina.

“I can say with all honesty, working this version of the 10th Muse is one of the highlights of my career,” said writer Adam David Gragg.   “It’s not often a writer gets to work on an iconic character like the 10th Muse that has so much to offer, not only in story, but also in sheer kick-ass, take no prisoners characterization.”

“Working with Bluewater Productions on the 10th Muse has been living up to the challenge and interest I wanted in a book” said penciler Roman Morales III. “I have been given an opportunity to apply my talents along with a group of other amazing artists who seem to compliment each others abilities.”