Black Panther, Red Sonja and FF Minus One

The Black Panther motion comic has been on DVD here in Australia since the 1st of December last year, but for some reason other countries haven’t had that privilege until now. The 6 episodes briefly premiered on iTunes before disappearing, but now the DVD is out collecting all the episodes based on the Reginald Hudlin/John Romita Jr. comic story. See if it was worth the wait here.

Jen Van Meter is writing a 40 page Red Sonja one-shot for Dynamite that arrives in April. It’s a surprising choice for the writer of Hopeless Savages and Black Lightning: Year One, but it should be worth a purchase, even though the title seems a bit odd.

Written by Jen Van Meter and drawn by Edgar Salazar, the Red Sonja: Break the Skin one-shot is a must-read!  In the story hitting comic shops this coming April, it looked like such a simple job: Zepur, a princess of the nomadic Talakma Horsemen, sought Sonja’s sword to defeat an unwelcome suitor and his army. When Sonja discovers she’s led her mercenary band into the middle of a bitter and vicious rivalry for leadership of Zepur’s clan, she’s got to figure out who’s lying to her the least, which promises she can keep, and how to fight the soul-eating avatar of an angry ape god.

“It had been awhile since I’d gotten the opportunity to write a character like Sonja–an unapologetic badass who answers to little outside herself–so I dove into this gleefully,” says writer Jen Van Meter.  “Red Sonja: Break the Skin is my effort to really look at her mercenary, sword-for-hire life in a world in which  the lies and political machinations that are handled comparatively cleanly in other genres are visceral and passionate and immediate, and in which angry gods are active players who can be manifest, grotesque and cruel.  The great thing about Sonja, to me, is that she feels like a lone gunslinger and a wild-eyed pirate captain at the same time; there’s tons of charisma, lusty bravado and brazen ego there, alongside this wonderfully quiet isolation.  There aren’t a lot of female characters who have both those modes available to them so readily, so it’s been a real delight to write her.”

Writer Jonathan Hickman talks about the death in this week’s issue of Fantastic Four. I won’t mention who it is, unlike the mainstream press.

Sticking with Marvel super teams, you can see two more full episodes for free of the new Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! cartoon, focusing on Hawkeye, Captain America and Black Widow. I assume it only works if you’re a U.S resident though as it won’t work for me, alas.

Entry Level: October 2010

Hit the ground floor running with this selection covering a mass of genres for the discerning reader. If you’re tired of convoluted epics that make no sense to the newbie, these books will give you a good place to start, or add to, your graphic habit, whether they be the first issue of a new series, or a collection worthy of that lonely coffee table. Here’s a list of some of October’s best.

GUY RITCHIE’S GAMEKEEPER

Dynamite Entertainment

256 pages of vengeance from the short-lived Virgin Comics, given a new audience thanks to Dynamite. This omnibus collects both volumes of the action packed story, as Brock foregoes the quiet life he’s known and puts murder in his sights once more. Along with film director Ritchie, other creators such as Andy Diggle, Jeff Parker and Mukesh Singh fill the pages with tense drama and bloodshed. An awesome movie just begging to be made.

BRUCE WAYNE-THE ROAD HOME…

DC Comics

So, Batman was “killed” a while ago in the pages of Final Crisis, with original Robin as his current replacement. However Bruce Wayne has been working his way through the timestream to get back to modern day Gotham. This month sees 8 one-shots focused on how various characters react to Batman’s resurrection, including Red Robin, Oracle, Catwoman and the Outsiders. Also out this month is Batman: The Return from the great duo of Grant Morrison and David Finch, and the debut of the 6 issue Knight & Squire, focused on England’s answer to the Dynamic Duo.

GUERILLAS: VOLUME 1

Oni Press

Brahm Revel’s black and white tale of simian soldiers in Vietnam. Yep, you may be taken back just like Private John Clayton is in this collection of the original 4 ish mini.

EMITOWN

Image Comics

400 pages of two-colour diary sketches from Emi Lenox.  The challenge to draw her daily life, whatever that may encompass, has garnered the artist many fans. You can check out her work for yourself at her blog (www.emitown.blogspot.com) or in this first collection of her quirky, humorous work.

BLACK WIDOW: DEADLY ORIGIN

Marvel

This Trade Paper Back collects the 4 issue mini-series from writer Paul Cornell and artists Tom Raney and John Paul Leon (who handles the flashbacks). Guest starring Daredevil, Hawkeye, and Bucky Barnes as the new Captain America, Russian spy Natalia Romanova must investigate the Icepick Protocol and her own past to survive. If you liked the glimpse of the character in Iron Man 2, as played by Scarlett Johansson, this is the best place to discover more.

ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY #20

Drawn and Quarterly

This Hard Cover is the latest installment from Chris Ware’s acclaimed series. Titled Lint, this issue offers a Rusty Brown story, and also focuses on the tale of family man and C.E.O Jordan Wellington Lint. Bold and diverse story telling at its finest.

NORTH 40

DC Comics/Wildstorm

Effectively creepy writing from Aaron Williams and delicate, yet dazzling art from Fiona Staples from their 6 issue mini-series is gathered here. Residents of a small town discover the weird happenings and monstrous forces that are being awakened within their county. Despite the recent closure of Wildstorm, hopefully their remaining TPBs will come out as promised.

The Phantom From Dynamite

Alex Ross loves his old-time superheroes, as is evidenced by his work on DC’s Justice series with Jim Krueger who he also worked with on Dynamite’s Project Superpowers. Now he’s going back to one of the original superheroes, Lee Falk’s The Phantom. The classic character had a recent (and unsuccessful) stab at re-invention for a TV pilot, but this new series from Dynamite looks a lot more interesting. Scott Beatty scripts the new book with Eduardo Firagto as artist, with Ross offering creative guidance. The Last Phantom debuts in August. Get more details about the series here.

This Week’s Winners

The Complete Alice in Wonderland #1. Like most people, I am more familiar with adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s master work, rather than the source material. However, the faithful work that writers John Reppion and Leah Moore have done on this title is obvious from the die-cut cover, as Carroll’s name is above theirs. It probably means more to those who have read the novels, but there’s something quite odd and charming about this issue. I felt like I was reading a lost Monty Python script, with all the zaniness and seemingly random plot advancements. Choosing a manga artist was a bold choice that pays off splendidly. Erica Awano’s delicately flowing renderings are quite beautiful, and she’s aided greatly by PC Siqueria’s muted colours. The whole book is presented like  a centuries old bedtime tale. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, as essentially Alice falls down the hole and meets a bunch of different characters and has strangely lyrical conversations with them. She never has a panic attack, but recalls her family and talks to animals with child-like confidence. This is the kind of book that seems out of synch with all the other comics on the shelves, and that’s what makes it rather appealing.

The Brave and the Bold #30. I picked up last month’s team-up with Batman and one of DC’s forgotten characters, Brother Power the Geek last month and quite enjoyed it. J. Michael Straczynski continues his little character studies in this series here and fixes his focus on Dr. Fate and Green Lantern. Both characters are long-time faves of mine and JMS masterfully manages to give both characters equal billing and bring readers new to both up to speed. There’s no titanic tussles that we’d expect from a superhero tale, but rather a simple story which has GL stranded on a planet with his ring power failing, when the golden Doc shows up and the two reminisce and discuss the power of will and fate. JMS has a firm handle on these characters and distills their essence to put on the page with care and confidence. Anyone who’s seen Changeling (written by JMS and directed by Clint Eastwood) will understand how Straczynski can get inside a character’s head without ever being too obvious or schmaltzy. We should be thankful he applies those skills to comics.

Batman 80 Page Giant #1. Truthfully Batman only appears in 2 of these 8 short stories, but his supporting cast has always been rich enough to sustain themselves. The link between them all is that they’re set in modern continuity (ie, Batman is dead) and there’s a blizzard in Gotham. It’s good to see Commissioner Gordon and Mr. Freeze tangle again, and writers like Kevin Grevioux and David Tischman tackle Gotham’s cast, the latter in a tale focusing on Alfred’s friendship with a prostitute that isn’t as strange as it could’ve been. Amongst this collection is a variety of art styles, and the highlight for me would be Rafa Garres, and especially Kat Rocha and Josh Finney in their Catwoman tale. The partners (from Archaia’s great Titanium Rain) have a style somewhere between Alex Ross and Stjepan Sejic, though that description isn’t quite adequate. There are places where faces appear a little lifeless, but the duo work well together and bring a diversity to these pages.

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