Reading: Comic Book Reviews

Chew Vol 1 Taster’s Choice (2009): This is one of the weirdest premises for a comic I’ve read yet.  The US is in a post bird-flu world that left 23 million dead. Well, maybe. As a result, the most important and powerful law enforcement branch is the Food and Drug Administration. Tony Chu is an agent of the FDA and more he is a Cibopathic.  This means he gets psychic impressions of what he eats. This first issue introduces us to the main characters and explains how Chu got into the FDA. It’s not a comic for the squeamish especially since Chu gets impressions from whatever he eats, not just food. The story, by John Layman (who also does the lettering), is completely engrossing. By having Chu thrust into the world of food related crimes, the audience is right there with him.  Moreso, Layman does a great job of making the more immediate stories interesting why setting up the long story.  The artwork, by Louisiana native Rob Guillory  (who will also be at Louisiana Comic Con Lafayette), is gritty and fits the noir tone of the writing. The story is often bloody, and Guillory, who also does the coloring, does a great job of showing us the gore without ever going into just pure goriness.

Wonder Woman Vol 2: I read Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman Volume 1 a while back.  That book collected the odd numbers from 1-13 and dealt with who exactly Wonder Woman is/was.  This is a character that has gone through numerous reboots. This story which collects the even issues from 2-14 and here Rucka provides his own origin story. It’s a great story to get people who loved the movie interested in comics. We discover Diana’s powers at the same time we do. We get introduced to her greatest villain as well.  Rucka is a great writer and makes you interested in every character by giving each a chance to develop even if they are not given plenty of time. The art work, by Nicola Scott (and in the interlude Bilquis Evely) is gorgeous.  This is at its heart is a story of hope and the coloring, done by Romulo Fajardo Jr, matches the tone.  At the beginning of this story, Diana doesn’t speak English. Jodi Wynne’s lettering does a great job of informing us of when she is having trouble with communicating.  Again, if you liked the movie, this is a great book to read. In fact, I would read this one first and then Volume 1.

Reading: Thanos Rising

I really wanted to like this comic.  A story, written by one of my favorite writers, Jason Aaron, about one of the top villains in all of the Marvel universe.  It’s not a bad comic.  It’s well written and expertly drawn.  It’s just a story that probably didn’t need to be told.

Some villains are enriched by their back story.  Harvey Dent comes to mind.  Others work better with a lack of a back story.  The Joker is the main one in this category.

This story provides a back story for Thanos and why death follows him everywhere.  It might be too literal of back story.  It provides an explanation by not really providing one.  I know this is vague, but I don’t believe in spilling the contents of books I review because that would give you no reason to read it for yourself.  It does provide plenty of action, and it, smartly, shows that Thanos is not just a thug but that he also has a brilliant, scientific and strategic mind. But besides that, I didn’t feel that I knew Thanos any better than I did before, which for an origin story, means it didn’t really do its job.

Mr. Aaron does write some great dialog and does create some moments of true horror and suspense.  Simone Bianchi does some great pencil work, especially for full-grown Thanos.  There are a few questionable panels, one in particular in which Thanos’s mother is weirdly underdressed considering her part in the story and what is happening to her at that particular moment. The strongest work of the creative team comes from Simone Peruzzi who’s coloring does an outstanding job in helping catch the mood and the mind of Thanos.

On Goodreads, I gave the book three stars.  It’s not a bad comic at all. After reading it, I feel that maybe Thanos, like the Joker, works better when he is just absolute evil.  He works better when we have no idea why he is doing what he does.

Reading: Free Comic Book Day!

Every year, your local participating comic shop hosts Free Comic Book Day!  That’s right, you can go to your local comic book shop and get free comics.

The New Orleans area has some great comic book stores three which we frequent often.  Our comic shop is BSI Comics in Metairie.  However, we highly recommend More Fun Comics and Crescent City Comics as we often shop there when we are in that area.  Heroes Corner in Metairie is also fantastic.  Kenner also has a great shop across from Wal-Mart whose name escapes me at the moment.

Each comic book store has their own little party.  BSI will have author Blake Petit and actor Jason Carter from Babylon 5.  Crescent City will be having a sidewalk party including a lemonade stand since it’s also lemonade stand day.  The 501st usually appears at more than one shop. A quick facebook or google search will let you know what your local store is planning.

Remember, though, that the old adage of nothing is actually for free.  Your comic book shop  has to pay for those comics.  The point of Free Comic Book Day is to get bodies in the stores.  If people enter the store, then they might be inspired to buy something. So PLEASE buy something if you go.  Comic book stores often have great trade paperbacks (I highly recommend Vision or Darth Vader), toys, and other collectibles.  Pick a comic and start a pull folder in which the shop pulls comics for you and stores them for when you can make it.  The only thing about a pull folder is that the store is placing their trust in you that you will pick up your comics on a very regular basis. If not, they are losing money.

Free Comic Book Day is for readers.  Not for just comic readers.  There is some great literature being produced in the medium, so don’t let the medium stop you.  As a teacher, I can not recommend comics enough for young kids and for children who don’t like reading.  Also, don’t be discouraged by the Simpsons comic book shop persona.  We visit comic book stores in every town we visit, and we are always welcomed and given recommendations.  The stores I’ve listed above all are run by wonderful people who love talking to comics with expert collectors and novices alike.  In most cases, I think they like the novices more because (a) they are potential new customers and (b) they are possible new people to talk comics with!

So go get some free comics and pay for some as well!

See you at the comic shop!

 

 

 

Star Wars-ing: More Guests and Star Wars Books at Celebration

Earlier this week Celebration announced two guests that don’t often do conventions.

  • Denis Lawson was the face of Wedge Antilles in the original trilogy.  The Scottish actor is making, according to the sources, we have found, his first U.S. convention appearance.
  • At most celebrations, guests from the prequels are usually in short supply, with the exceptions of Ray Park and Daniel Logan. The man who brought life to Jango Fett will probably have a sizable part of his lines wanting to meet him for playing Chief Tui in Moana.
  • Sam Witwer does do cons quite a bit, but after finishing his run as Maul on The Clone Wars and Rebels this season, he is also sure to have long lines.  (And does this mean Stephen Stanton will be quick to follow?).

Del Rey Books has released some information about its involvement at Star Wars Celebration. They will have booth located at #2522 right next to the Random House Audio and DK booths.  They have also listed some panels:

  • I’ll Take Droids for $500, Obi-Wan:  An audience member will be able to prove that he knows Star Wars more than authors Chuck Wendig and Timothy Zahn.  Good luck to that member of the audience! Thursday 2:30-3:30 at the Behind the Scenes Stage (W304)
  • Lucasfilm Publishing Writers’ Roundtable:  Members of the Lucasfilm team and Del Rey authors (Mr. Zahn and Delilah S. Dawson were specifically mentioned).  This is one that I’m planning on attending.  Friday 4:30-5:30 at the Behind the Scenes Stage (W304)
  • Del Rey Books, Behind the Scenes: Del Rey has published Star Wars books since, well, actually, before a New Hope was released.  This panel will feature authors Mr. Wendig, Mr. Zahn, Ms. Dawson, and Christie Golden and will be moderated by Del Rey senior editor, Elizabeth Schaefer. Friday 4:30-5:30 at the Behind the Scenes Stage (W304)

Individual talks by authors in which the author determines the flow of the conversation will take place during the Star Wars University Panel.  Think of these talks as more workshops where you learn more about the craft as well as the book they write.  All of the University Workshops are in W300.

  • Thursday 5:00 pm – 6:00  Star Wars University: Chuck Wendig
  • Friday 12:30 pm – 1:30 Star Wars University: Delilah Dawson
  • Friday 2:00 pm – 3:00 Star Wars University: Tim Zahn
  • Saturday 3:30 pm – 4:30  Star Wars University: Christie Golden
  • Sunday 12:30 pm – 1:30 Star Wars University: John Jackson Miller

All book signings are free and will take place at the Del Rey Booth (2522) and the Barnes & Noble Booth (2022). They will have books for sale, but you can bring your own as well.

Thursday

  • 11:30 am – 12:30  Christie Golden B&N Booth 2022
  • 1 pm – 2 Chuck Wendig B&N Booth 2022
  • 4 pm – 6:30 Tim Zahn B&N Booth 2022

Friday

  • 11 am – 12  Chuck Wendig Del Rey Booth 2522
  • 11 am – 1 Tim Zahn B&N Booth 2022
  • 3 pm – 4:00 Chuck Wendig B&N Booth 2022
  • 5:30 pm – 6:30 Tim Zahn B&N Booth 2022
  • 5:45 pm – 6:45 Christie Golden & Delilah S. Dawson Del Rey Booth 2522

Saturday

  • 11 am – 12:30 Christie Golden & Delilah S. Dawson Del Rey Booth 2522
  • 2 pm – 4:30  Tim Zahn B&N Booth 2022
  • 3 pm – 4  John Jackson Miller Del Rey Booth 2522
  • 4 pm – 5  Chuck Wendig B&N Booth 2022
  • 5 pm – 6 Christie Golden & Delilah S. Dawson Del Rey Booth 2522

Sunday

  • 10:30 am – 11:30 Chuck Wendig, Christie Golden & Delilah S. Dawson Del Rey Booth 2522
  • 1 pm – 2  Christie Golden B&N Booth 2022
  • 2:30 pm – 4:30 Tim Zahn B&N Booth 2022

You can find more about Del Ray books and Star Wars Celebration here.  Also, check out their twitter for the latest updates.

We just purchased quite a few books from the new canon on a whim the other night.  Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple has already started reading Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden. I’m still reading Scoundrels by Mr. Zahn that we purchased from him at Pensacon.  In other words, we are super excited about meeting all the authors, and we will probably drop quite a few credits at the Del Rey booth!

May the force be with you!

 

 

Reading: Quick Hits

  • Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn is really good.  It’s the kind of story I want to see more of in the new Star Wars universe.  One that develops established characters without having to worry about the mythology of the universe.
  • I’ve read the first volume of a couple of Rebirth titles.  Superman was good and really worked well for those of us that have no idea of what happened in the new 52.  Justice League of America had great action but I was left wondering why should I really care.  I really enjoyed Green Arrow in that it had its eye on bringing in viewers of the TV show but telling its own story.  I’ve only read the first issue of Wonder Woman in her volume and I thought that story was fantastic for a new reader of her comics.
  • I’m also reading Cured by Lol Tolhurst.  It’s a memoir from the co-founder of the Cure.  It’s not a straight history because Lol admits that his memory was chemically suppressed from years of drinking.  It’s more of snapshots of what he can remember.  I’m reading it sporadically, so I’m only at the formation of the Cure.  However, there is a certain joy in these chapters that makes the book infectious.
  • I’ve been reading Black Panther as they came out until #7.  Then I realize they are really dense and I need to read them all at once to truly enjoy them. Either that or I really need to read them the way I read books in my History grad school classes.  That’s pretty amazing for comic.

Reading: Nerd Links – January 21-27

Legion of Collectors:  This blog is about a guy who collects subscription boxes from Marvel, DC, and Stan Lee.  However, this reviewer isn’t just any body (like your favorite bloggers), this guy is Tony Isabella.  Mr. Isabella created Black Lightning for DC and Misty Knight for Marvel, so he brings a unique perspective to collecting.  The box he discuss strikes a memory from his days at DC and what he would have done had he taken over the reigns of Aquaman in the 70s.

New York Times is Killing It’s Comics Bestseller Lists, and the Comic World Isn’t Pleased:  Regardless of how you feel about the New York Times, having a best-selling list of comics/graphic novels was good for the industry.  Comics are still considered by many as second class literature.  While the NYT promises expanded coverage of comics, the list provided insight to what people were reading and, more importantly, a list for new readers to check out.

The Star Wars Death Star Trench Isn’t Where You Think It Is:  Sure, the super fans will say they alway new it wasn’t the huge horizontal trench all along, but I won’t.  I always though Luke and the rest of gang were in that trench.  Now, I know better.

The Power of Fandom In History’s Chame: Why we need to Demand Better Content:  The first half of the title is kind of odd, but this article does make a basic point.  The only way we are going to get stories that reflect who we really are is to only purchase those stories. We should all be tired of the “girl in the refrigerator” trope, but until we do anything about it with our pocketbooks, some writers will use it. The article also does a good job of explaining how we can like characters we hate, but that we need to remember they aren’t good people.

Reading: Kickstarter Finds – Alternative Periodic Table

We often search Kickstarter for interesting items such as games, films, and albums.  We recently came across the Alternative Periodic Table.  The graphic artist, Matt Baker, takes a pattern that is found in the atoms of the elements.  He also avoids the jumps that occur in the regular periodic table.  In the artists’ words “my alternative periodic table is designed to simply emphasize the way in which atoms are “built” (specifically, how electrons group together into shells and subshells).”

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Here are the specs on the table:

  • Size: 24 x 36″ (61 x 91 cm); comes rolled in a thick poly bag. Frame not included.
  • Paper: 80 lb glossy cover stock (difficult to tear)
  • Print-process: Eco-friendly UV inks; carbon neutral plant
  • Delivery target: Early March
  • Price: $25 Cdn / $19 US (Includes free shipping to US or Canada)

This is would be a great chart to have in an educational setting or in a budding scientist’s room.  A great project would be having students explain the differences from this table and the traditional periodic table.  Mr. Baker makes wall charts for a living and you can find more of them at usefulcharts.com.