This Week In Pictures-March 21,2010

BOOM! again prove their diversity and desire to bring comics into markets they haven’t been before. July’s 4 ish mini focuses on America’s famed CBGB club and is created by a host of talented individuals. Here’s the official blurb, plus the cover and a preview page, written by Jesse Blaze Snider.

The four issue mini-series hitting store shelves this July, features the finest veteran and rookie talents in comics, portraying the tales of music, discovery, heartbreak, confusion, rebellion and greatness.

The first issue’s cover is by superstar LOVE & ROCKETS cartoonist Jaime Hernandez. Also confirmed for the anthology are Ana Matronic (songstress for Grammy-nominated band SCISSOR SISTERS), Kieron Gillen (PHONOGRAM, THOR), Kim Krizan (Academy Award-nominated writer of BEFORE SUNSET and BEFORE SUNRISE) Chuck BB (Eisner wining artist of BLACK METAL), Kelly Sue DeConnick (30 DAYS OF NIGHT: EBEN & STELLA), Rob G. (TEENAGERS FROM MARS, COURIERS), Sam Humphries (the architect behind MySpace Comics) Marc Ellerby (LOVE THE WAY YOU LOVE) and many more!

The final and much anticipated volume of the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley also lands in July. This fun and simply awesome series from Oni Press is one I’ve been getting into purely because it’s been so highly regarded, and I wasn’t disappointed. Scott Pilgrim is one of those rare series with high cross-over potential, and with the film (directed by Shaun of the Dead‘s Edgar Wright) coming up in August (the rather generic poster below has just been released) will surely help that.

Six years, five volumes, and 1,000 pages. Now the long anticipated finale to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s hit Oni Press graphic novel series has finally arrived. On Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 comic shops and bookstores across North America will celebrate the release of SCOTT PILGRIM VOL. 6: SCOTT PILGRIM’S FINEST HOUR.

“It’s been quite a ride, and I couldn’t have gotten here without the support of the fans and the retailers,” said O’Malley. “It feels great to be in the home stretch, and I think this is going to be the best Scott Pilgrim book ever!”

Now, a bunch of Batman related news. June sees a 6 ish mini begin, based on the Batman Beyond TV series. It’s written by Adam Beechen with art by Ryan Benjamin. Here’s the cover for the first issue by Dustin Nguyen.

Another 6 ish mini-series out in June is Red Hood: The Lost Days. Writer Judd Winick and artist Pablo Raimondi present the tale that focuses on the second Robin, Jason Todd and the time between his resurrection and transformation into the villain Red Hood. Don’t forget, there’s also a DVD animated film on the way focused on the character too.

June’s Detective Comics #866 is written by Bat-legend Dennis O’Neill with art by Dustin Nguyen. The cover for this standalone story is below, and is described by DC as, “a tale of the Dick Grayson Batman intertwined with those classic days when Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder, patrolled the mean streets of Gotham City!”

Hulk: Let The Battle Begin #1 Review

As faithfully and thoroughly documented by Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster for comics fans hoping for a few very cheap Marvel TPBs from Amazon. As many of us discovered – yep, it was too good to be true. However, the beauty of being a loyal fanboy or girl is that every week holds the promise of some outstanding new comics, and this little puppy is one of them.

Jesse Blaze Snider continues to prove his skill as a scribe with his pulse on the core of the characters he writes. Dark romance with Vertigo’s Dead Romeo series, the playful cast in BOOM!’s Toy Story and now his great tale in this Hulk one-shot. The guy knows what he’s doing and obviously spends quality time thinking about the specific traits of the characters he’s writing. As anyone who’s enjoyed Toy Story (his 2nd issue is also out this week) already knows, Snider has quite the knack for bringing out the authentic personalities of each of the toys, even if they only utter a few sentences. Likewise, this standalone adventure starring the Green Goliath feels like a purpose built Hulk story, rather than just a bland tale featuring a brute who smashes tanks. Snider brings to play the humanity of Bruce Banner and the rampaging might of his emerald alter ego with equal aplomb.

In the first two pages of Let The Battle Begin, we are given one familiar Hulk element with his “stupid purple pants,” and a new element that makes perfect sense for a rational scientist (a small survival kit in those same pants) as Banner wakes up post-Hulk in the middle of a desert. I should point out that this tale is set sometime in the past, as Hulk’s simplistic threats, and Thor in his old duds reveals. As Banner hitchhikes to the nearest town as part of the post-Hulk routine he’s done many times before, we are given flashbacks to unveil just what went down the previous day. Basically – a massive brawl with The Wrecking Crew in the battleground of Mt. Rushmore. Snider paces it very well, and throws in some surprising humour so that it makes the kind of Hulk fight we’ve seen so many times before appear refreshing and wholeheartedly enjoyable. With hitting with sticks, jokes about haircuts and groin grabbing it’s a great sequence that never comes across as silly or irreverent. In fact Snider boils down the essence of Banner wonderfully, as the captions of his inner thoughts show, as Banner has conversations with the townspeople and just tries to live a normal life. He applies the same focused analysis of Banner’s other side (y’know, the green one) that makes this a superb entry level adventure for the Hulk curious. Within just a few pages Snider sums up the complexities of Banner/Hulk in a way I haven’t seen since Peter David wrestled with Ol’ Greenskin.

Snider isn’t alone on this tale though, and artist Steve Kurth matches the plot with some great images. A slightly sketchy style similar to Bryan Hitch’s, Kurth’s grasp of facial expressions is bordering on masterful. There are a few misshapen missteps, but generally he tackles the pages with ferocity and humanity. Banner’s messy hair, the enthusiasm of a Hulk fan/hotel clerk and the confidence that drips away from Thor’s bloodied face are all great touches in this hectic day-in-the-life-of Hulk tale. There are a few close ups that appear like snapshots, brimming with honest emotion.

Also included is a short story written by Mark Parsons and Tom Cohen that originally appeared in Marvel Comics Presents #9. With art by Ed McGuiness it of course looks brilliant, even if Kelsey Shannon’s colours take a while to get used to seeing over the monstrous McGuiness style. Excellently titled Gamaragnarok it focuses on the harsh world of the future Hulk, Maestro. It’s very different from the preceding pages, with its serious story of war, but it sure looks pretty.

This Week’s Winners

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #2. Essentially this 4 ish mini is a simplified attempt at Black Widow: Year one, but it works. When Iron Man 2 debuts in May, with Scarlett Johansson as the Russian red headed spy, this will be a good place to start for those curious about the character. Paul Cornell manages to write an intriguing tale involving Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow and never allows the flashbacks to her youth to get distracting. Of course, with Tom Raney on the art in the current setting and John Paul Leon on art chores for the flashbacks, it makes for a book as pretty as its titular heroine. Guest stars such as Hawkeye and Winter Soldier never seem jarring and Cornell has a blast making Widow a 007-like action girl with a unique Russian background. I’ve already learned a great deal about this character whom I’ve only ever been marginally interested in, such as the fact that she’s one of many Widows trained by the Soviets and has a long lifespan. #2 throws in some Cold War antics, the activation of the Icepick Protocol and a cool White Widow variant suit.

Toy Story #0. Bringing writer Jesse Blaze Snider to play in BOOM!’s kids line of comics seems like an odd choice, but now I can see why they chose him. Snider’s last work was the surprisingly good Dead Romeo mini-series from DC and here he kicks a new four issue arc off with great skill. Nathan Watson’s art is cartoony, but solid. Of course, it can’t be easy to replicate the 3D magic of Pixar, but each character is instantly recognisable. Woody and Buzz steal the show of course, but the whole gang (from the first film where this issue looks to be set) is here. The amusing chaos begins when Andy receives a new present from his grandpa, but unfortunately it’s another Buzz Lightyear figure. The two Buzzes have a rather funny duel and the voices of every character rings true. It was much funnier than I expected, and is another fast paced and entertaining entry in the BOOM! Kids line. Snider proves his diverse skills as a writer here.

Daytripper #1. Those talented Brazilian siblings Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon launch a delightful new 10 ish series from Vertigo. It follows the life of an obituary writer in Sau Paulo who aims to be a disciplined novelist. Themes of family, life and death run through this issue, but never in a heavy handed manner. It’s quite enticing and very readable, with a magical quality to the art and a lyrical tone to the words. Where Ba and Moon go from the surprising ending will be even more intriguing I’m sure.

Snider Writes Toy Story

Below is a press release from BOOM! Studios about their latest Toy Story title, which is now an ongoing. The fast growing indie publisher has had great success with their Disney and Pixar line, such as The Incredibles and Cars, so it’s great to see they’ll still be putting out the all-ages books, despite Disney’s recent purchase of Marvel. The writer of the new 4 issue arc, beginning in December is Jesse Blaze Snider. That’s a surprise I must say, though his recently concluded mini-series for DC, Dead Romeo was far better than was initially apparent with it’s vamp romance/drama tale. It was quite dark too, so to go from that to the kid-friendly Toy Story is quite a jump, but obviously BOOM! has faith in the man, so congrats are definitely due Snider.

JESSE BLAZE SNIDER  TO WRITE NEW  TOY STORY ONGOING SERIES FOR BOOM KIDS!

Why wait until next summer’s TOY STORY 3 to get your Buzz on? BOOM Kids! has your back! With the breakout success of last Spring’s TOY STORY miniseries, BOOM Kids! announces today that as of December, TOY STORY will launch as an ongoing monthly, starting with TOY STORY #0, written by rock star Jesse Blaze Snider!

“When I first saw TOY STORY years ago, I was in love,” said Snider. “It wasn’t just the idea that every toy has a secret life, but I was fascinated with the secret lives of those toys we saw in the film. It’s always been something in the back of my mind, Woody and Buzz and even the Pizza Planet aliens waiting to come out to play again. This is a tremendous opportunity and it will not disappoint.”

Jesse Blaze Snider is well known for starring in the popular MTV show, “Rock the Cradle” where he received acclaim from fans and critics alike for his “Back-Flipping” performances on the show. Fans will also recognize Jesse as a Music Host and VJ for MTV2, Fuse and AOL’s Top 11 Countdown.

When he is not writing comic books, Jesse is in the studio working on his first solo record. Growing up the son of famed rock star Dee Snider, Jesse attributes some of his greatest musical influences to watching THE MUPPET SHOW.

But Snider isn’t just a song and dance man. He’s a jack-of-all-trades with a background in comics, working on titles for both Marvel and DC, from MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS to the critically acclaimed vampire book from DC called DEAD ROMEO.

TOY STORY #0 is the tale of two Buzzes. When Andy receives another Buzz as a gift, old Buzz finds himself challenged by new Buzz! And only Woody can save the day.

The first four-issue arc is written by Jesse Blaze Snider, with interior art and covers by Nathan Watson.

Dead Romeo #2 Review

DR2 CvrAs promised, I have given this series another shot. I’m glad I did. This issue is slightly better than last month’s debut. Unfortunately one of the areas DC falls down compared to Marvel, is their lack of an introduction page. So, if you haven’t read Dead Romeo #1, this won’t mean much of anything to you. However, here’s the skinny: Romeo is a vampire recently revived from far too long in hell. He’s now trying to avoid going back there,which means avoiding satisfying his bloodlust. The white haired hero meets a sassy virgin, Whisper and falls head over heels for her far too quickly, though he does wonder why at least. Romeo’s old gang also return from the grave and they’re a motley crew of nasties. They want Whisper too. Now Romeo must make a choice -kill her and save himself, or save her and kill himself. Last issue we were introduced to the man characters, while this issue is effectively a 22 page run and fight feature, bringing him closer to a fateful decision.

There’s more blood, some predictable gangsta speak and not much characterisation. There’s 4 more issues to go, so Romeo and Whisper have to fall in love and defeat the baddies while somehow living to live a happy life. Of course, writer Jesse Blaze Snider may just manage to avoid those cliches and pull out a few surprises. Let’s hope so. Thus far, it’s a mix of Blade, Twilight and The Crow with it’s vampire in love battling fellow vamps while trying to avoid damnation flair going on. Those influences aren’t obvious ones however,and Snider, along with artist Ryan Benjamin, has put considerable time into making each character distinct. I only hope it pays off in the long run.

For a preview of this ish, go here.                                                                                                       DR2 prvw

Dead Romeo #1 Review

Dead RomeoI grabbed this for 2 reasons – the cover and the name. They’re both awesome. Written by Jesse Blaze Snider (yes, he is a musician, the son of Dee Snider infact) and pencilled by Ryan Benjamin this new six issue mini-series is kind of like Twilight for the manly.

Snider is fairly new to comics, but it doesn’t really show. The old familiar story convention of having a narrator introduce us to a dying man and how he got into that predicament kicks things off, before we’re hit with, “But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s not where the story begins. It’s not even where it ends. Our story begins six feet underground.” Sure, not entirely original to start a story with the protagonist’s death, but in this case it works-barely. The dead man is Jonathan Romero. He gets out of his grave, having been buried in 1986 and finds a homeless girl called Whisper hanging out at the cemetery with her snarling dog. They exchange unpleasantries and part ways, with Romero (nicknamed Romeo) seemingly smitten. The building of this romance between the cynical Whisper and the undead vampire Romeo is the basis of the series. Romeo has done some horrendous things to escape hell apparently, and was protected by the also-resurrected Hollywood Vampires, a collective of bad fangs. To escape hell forever they must kill a virgin.

For a debut issue, this is okay. There’s a lot to introduce here, but compared to say, Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, or even Hexed which were strengthened by their simplicity, Dead Romeo seems to be filling every page with characters. If all those characters serve a purpose, then that’s fine, but only future issues will tell. Snider’s not a bad writer though. Romeo seems quite clearly the romantic vampire, a la Angel, while every other vamp seems like they’re auditioning for the next Lost Boys sequel. They’re all bad to the bone. Got it. 

I’ll give this series a go, because despite my harshness, I can see what Snider’s attempting. There’s going to be a battle, with love caught in the middle, and tough choices involving sacrifice to be made. Dead Romeo just needs time to develop the characters, and Snider shows promise in his dialogue. It’s not off to  a great start, but with more streamlining this series could be interesting. Benjamin’s pencils are fine. There’s heaps of blood (if there was any swearing this would’ve been a Vertigo book) and each character, including Romeo in his glam rock outfit, Death the skeletal barman, and Dwight Phry (leader of the Hollywood vamps) possess a distinct visual identity.

Vampire tales have been through the wringer of pop culture so many times, there’s almost nothing new to say, but Snider may very well be creating an intriguing, atmospheric tale here. It’s just hard to see so far.

See a preview of this ish here.

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