Sandman Overture # 1 hit stores on October 30th and while it was expected to ship every other month with issue two coming in this December, Diamond has notified retailers that issue two has been pushed to February with orders for the solicited December issue cancelled outright. People are predictably blaming artist JH Williams for the delay and expressing disappointment over a series that had over a year of lead-in time already being affected by delays. This is yet another blow to DC’s image that it doesn’t need right now. The response to the first issue, at least from my standpoint in the retail end of things, was overwhelmingly positive. I don’t imagine that this delay will affect sales all that much, as those who were dead set on picking up the issues of Sandman will do so no matter when they hit stands, but at a time when DC needs fewer bullet points for the online community to take pot shots at you can imagine that one of their most hyped and anticipated series seeing a two month delay is at the top of the pile for things they don’t want to deal with.
You know, I’ve been writing about the good work that Image is doing with such frequency lately that I haven’t really had much time to sing the praises of other imprints. Dark Horse has been churning out some great work lately, and so too has Vertigo. You know, Vertigo? The imprint responsible for Y The Last Man, Fables, Ex Machina, and 100 Bullets? When Karen Berger left the company earlier this year, a lot of people considered it a sign that DC Comics was shuttering Vertigo and wouldn’t bother to utilize the brand. After all, Hellblazer went away and Constantine got his own DC title. Things certainly looked like they were going in a different direction.
But DC seems to have given Vertigo some breathing room. Brian Azzarello returned to pump out a 100 Bullets miniseries, Fables and Fairest are still going strong and now we have a new contender for most interesting book on the block with Hinterkind, a post-apocalyptic story that, even after a single issue, feels like a worthy companion to Y The Last Man.
The new book comes to us from Ian Edginton, a writer from Birmingham in the UK who has co-written comics with Dan Abnett and Warren Ellis, primarily in the science fiction and fantasy genre. He’s tackled everything from Warhammer to X-Force to Vampirella and now he’s launching a creator owned series with artist Francesco Trifogli.
Hinterkind gives us a world reclaimed by nature but still occupied by humans, generations after the change in the balance of power. We have become a society of hunters and gatherers, submissive to the whim of nature and the beasts of the wild. Edginton and Trifogli set the book in such a way that the reader slowly learns more and more about the situation of the reclaimed earth slowly and organically, with answers giving way to more questions that will likely not be as quickly resolved.
The book is like many other post-apocalyptic books but dissimilar at the same time. More Y The Last Man than Walking Dead, at least in terms of tone and character, Hinterkind is a well-paced and beautifully drawn book that I would recommend picking up now rather than waiting until months from now and kicking yourself for it.
It’s been a hell of a week. Busy is the word I would use to describe it. But no in the “I have things to do” sort of way, more in the “why are so many things happening to me” sort of way. You know, viral infections, dead car battery, relationship drama; the usual. I haven’t had much time to blog it up, but thankfully things have quieted down enough that I can slip in and do some reviews. Not many, because there wasn’t a whole lot that I was interested in diving into this week just from a casual glance. As I climb deeper into the rabbit hole of reading weekly books on the regular, I’m sure the number of reviews that pile up each week will expand. That said, what I did read carried some heft, so we’ll dive right in and get right to it.
BATGIRL # 23
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Fernando Pasarin, Jonathan Glapion
Cover Artist: Alex Garner
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013
The new “Batgirl: Wanted” epic begins here, as Commissioner Gordon must track down his son’s murderer—who happens to be his daughter! But has Barbara already given up the Bat?
I stepped away from Batgirl when Gail Simone was ceremoniously booted from the title a short while back. When she reentered the fray I neglected to jump back on board but the storyline here intrigued me enough to pick up last month’s issue as a refresher and threw this one on the stack as well. For those not in the know, Batgirl is on the hook for the death of her brother and that isn’t sitting all too well with their respective father, Commissioner Gordon. Barbara is going through much in her life at this point. She’s beginning to date a reformed criminal who can’t seem to escape his past and trying to reconcile what happened with her brother at the same time. She’s a big ball of emotions and her father is looming over her in more ways than one, needling her about staying safe and afraid of losing another child as well as chasing Batgirl down in a way that even Batman remarks is dangerously close to a vengeful tirade. The rooftop scene between Batman and the Commissioner is excellently written and gives the reader a good idea of what we can expect in terms of character beats from Jim Gordon.
That is really what drives this book and makes it such an interesting work; the character beats. Barbara is heavily conflicted here, and conflict makes for compelling reading. Barbara Gordon, at least as Batgirl, has never come across as a character who really elicits much of a response from me because she reads as cut-and-dry in most respects. I only really started to get a feel for her as a fleshed out human being when she became Oracle. We got to witness her deal with so many different types of adversities while she was in that chair in the clock-tower. Gail Simone has taken that development on the character and given us a new lens to look at Barbara. She feels full. She appears realized. She makes mistakes and deals with the consequences.
All in all, my first reaction is that I should go back and pick up what I missed to fill in the gaps, because I am enjoying what I’m reading. There are a few downsides, mostly having to do with some predictability regarding Barbara’s love interest that are far too telegraphed to be enjoyed fully on my end, but I imagine the narrative beats that will result from certain decisions will translate into some payoff in regard to Barbara’s development later down the line. At least I hope so.
INFINITY (2013) #1
Published: August 14, 2013
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Cover Artist: Adam Kubert
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013
The oversized kickoff to the year’s most anticipate Blockbuster summer event, chaning the way you view the Marvel Universe! • The outbreak of war on two fronts: Earth and Space, with our heroes torn between them. • The world-shattering return of Thanos! • Includes material from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: INFINITY
If you have been reading Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Avengers you may have figured out that his handling of the team is pretty much the anti-Bendis in terms of plot progression, storytelling, and theme. Hickman’s take on the book has been much like Morrison’s deconstruction of the X-Men years back. It is as different from what preceded it as you can get and yet never feels like it isn’t true to what the book should be about. Jonathan Hickman writes the Avengers as a hard intellectual sci-fi yarn, recalling elements from classic Avengers lore like the Kree-Skrull war and Infinity Gauntlet while infusing it with his very distinct creative voice. There is never a time where you are not aware that you are reading a Jonathan Hickman story. Much as Bendis has come to be associated with abundant panels and fast, snappy dialog, the elevated science fiction overtones along with deliberate pacing and neo-modern graphic design stylings clearly indicate a Hickman joint.
Those familiar with his work on the main Avengers title and therefore comfortable with his style and pacing will find Infinity to be a strong book. He takes his time and gives us freedom to enjoy the world-building that he puts on display. We are introduced to an abundance of alien races and evil machinations. We only see the Avengers on panel for perhaps 1/4 of the book’s length. Front and center instead are the actions of our antagonists, razing worlds and infiltrating the highest order of the Inhuman’s stronghold of Attilan in a meticulously plotted cerebral espionage sequence. What I am trying to say is that people who are looking for the whiz-bang pacing of a Secret Invasion, World War Hulk, etc. may find themselves disappointed at the way the first issue plays out. I personally enjoyed it and I will do my best to explain why without sounding like a total idiot.
The first issue played out, for the most part, like an episode of a TV show. The story beats are concise and structured for maximum effect, but it is the final pages of the book, where we see our heroes putting a plan into action and a final page cliffhanger that could easily have been followed with a meme image of Michael from Arrested Development saying “I Have Made A Huge Mistake” where things really clicked for me. You see, those last few pages didn’t feel like part of the narrative of this issue so much as a quick flash of what’s to come, similar to a “Next Week on MARVEL” montage at the end of a TV show. The pacing and the implications make for effective drama, and while Infinity # 1 is definitely a slow burn, it is also very much indicative of a quality mini-series that seeks to tell its story in a very deliberate way.
Simply put, Hickman delivers a standout first issue that couldn’t be further from what I have come to expect from a Marvel event series while at the same time giving me everything I want from a Marvel event series.
Rating: 4 out of 5
It started small: temporary gravity failures, time reversal loops, entropy reversals. With much fanfare a new government agency was formed with a mandate “to prevent and protect.” Its official title: The Federal Bureau of Physics. Humans, if nothing else, adapt to the changing parameters of their existence. What was extraordinary soon became ordinary, a part of people’s daily lives. They move on and do what people have always done: survive. But even that new status quo is now under threat. Things are getting worse, and it falls to Special Agent Adam Hardy and his FBP team to figure out what’s going on, before it’s too late…
I know I’m late to the party on this one but following all the hubbub surrounding the abrupt title change (Beginning with issue 2, Collider will be renamed to FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics) I decided to throw this one on the reading pile and give it a go. Writer Simon Oliver has done work previously for Vertigo on Hellblazer and The Exterminators and while I may have read his work before I cannot remember if I formulated an opinion so I am going into this 100% blind.
Collider feels like a Vertigo book. It takes a premise and runs with it. There is mystery and the promise of expanded world building and solid character work along the way with artwork that, were it on a mainstream book, would be decried for not fitting the mold. As it stands, it is a fine book. The premise, that the foundation of universally accepted laws of physics are starting to crumble and the fallout surrounding that hornet’s nest, is one worth delving into. It hooks you and keeps you there until the end. I’ve read comments about the book being boring but I had no such qualm with the book. But then again, I enjoyed Sweet Tooth and that book was admittedly a chore to get through sometimes.
For regular devotees of Vertigo content, this will not disappoint. For those who fall more squarely in line with the mainstream, I’m not so sure you’ll enjoy this one. It has all of the hallmarks that most people mock “indy” comics for; strange yet alluring artwork, strange premise, heightened dialog… you get the idea.
I don’t want to write much about it because I feel people will enjoy it more if they just go in blind. It’s sometimes the best way to enjoy a work of art and I’ll wager that this is the sort of book that benefits heavily from a clean frame of mind. It certainly helped when I read it, as I had zero knowledge of the title when I turned the cover. Whatever you do, just don’t dismiss it outright. Give it a chance.
Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5
Vertigo puts out some of the best work in the comics world. The best thing about that particular imprint is the fact that they look at their works in a way that doesn’t mesh with the rest of the books being published elsewhere. Comic books seemingly follow a pattern across the board in order to garner mainstream acceptance. The fact is that books that aren’t standard superhero fare don’t really find a huge audience on a monthly basis. They garner tons of critical acclaim, but the average comic fan tends to skip over them. The people who read books like Sweet Tooth tend to only read books like Sweet Tooth, and every time they recommend a book like this to your everyday comic fan, they get brushed aside as elitists. I know that seems like a generalization, but I’ve been working in a comic shop since 2006 and its a sort of sad truth.
Sweet Tooth is another home run for the imprint, which has been on a roll lately with other series like THE UNWRITTEN, DAYTRIPPER, and JOE THE BARBARIAN. The book revolves around a “hybrid” child named Gus who because of his unique physiology is immune to a disease that has ravaged the majority of the human population. It’s a high concept story told with a minimalist zeal by Jeff Lemire that draws the reader in through mystery in the same way that LOST did all those years ago, asking questions and driving the reader forward in the hopes of getting some sort of satisfaction. It’s graphic storytelling at its finest.
The first trade, at $9.99 is well worth picking up. It’ll suck you in and leave you wanting more, which is sort of a bad thing if you have to wait for the next trade considering the epic cliffhanger the first collection ends with. Seriously, I’m considering picking up the issues of this one.
I made the horrible mistake of visiting the IMDB boards for this movie shortly after seeing it. I sometimes forget what a cesspool of ignorance and misery that little patch of internet earth is. Nearly every thread was a black hole of negative energy and petty whining. The people who frequent those boards are, by nature, soulless vultures from the bowels of hell whose one purpose in life is to spread malice and discontent like a disease throughout the labryinth of that site’s message board system. Thread after thread of “They Changed This!” or “Watered Down Crap!” or “This Just Sucked!” or any other mindless dribble they could spurt out like warm blood cut from a femoral artery. I mean, good lord…when you hate everything with such fervor what does it feel like to enjoy something? Would your brain explode like that scene in Scanners? I mean, I am sometimes driven to physical pain by some of the shit I read for this site (*cough*Brightest Day*cough*) but at least 80% of what I read leaves me feeling warm and happy and content. Why are some people so prone to fits of teeth-gnashing hatred over stupid, stupid things?
I should probably state that The Losers is a damn fine film. It hearkens back to the action films of the 80’s that didn’t take themselves too seriously. Where everything wasn’t some pseudo-Jason Bourne world where everything had to be grim and melodramatic and one-liners were punishible by death. I enjoyed it about as much as I have any other movie this year, and I think it’s because everything about the movie is done with the intent of thoroughly entertaining the audience. You do not make your villain chew THAT much scenery if you’re not hoping to go so over the top that you didn’t even realize you’d scaled the bar. This is not an art film people. It’s an action flick for the sake of being an action flick. If you’re not on board with that you probably missed all the signs telling you what to expect when you watched the damned trailer. And don’t act like you didn’t see a trailer.
The major complaints seem to be over the changes made from the book to the film, which I’m tired of hearing. The book and the film are two different entities. Where was the outrage over the changes to Two-Face’s origin back when The Dark Knight came out? There was some, of course. But it wasn’t overwhelming. The boards for The Losers are populated with multiple threads for “ROQUE ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE BLACK ****WHARGARBLE***!!!!” or “ZOE SALDANA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AFGHANISTANIANIANIAN!!!!” or other such negligible bullshit. The changes were made to allow the movie to be the movie and the book to be the book. It doesn’t hurt the book that the changes were made to the film. Judge the film on the merits of what is presented in the context of the film, and there is very little to complain about except for some minor stylistic choices in the action scenes and perhaps the fact that Chris Evans is too damned awesome.
I went back and re-read the first volume of the book following the movie and the spirit of the book remains almost wholly intact. The characters on the screen are very much like their counterparts on the page, except for Max who dialled it up to the point that he makes Bond villains uncomfortable. But on a base level, the two are very much alike, with scenes lifted directly from the book to placate those who need everything to be exactly the same all the time.
There’s your disturbing visual for the day.
Here’s the first look at the film adaptation of Vertigo’s THE LOSERS, which looks so damned good that I’m almost afraid that this is some sort of hallucination brought on by a whiskey overdose…
CLICK TO VIEW