Zilla and the Comics Junkies

Sunday, July 31, 2005

7.31 Panel 'o the Day

Another really easy one (sunday style) from one of my favorite ongoing titles... give 'em hell big guy.

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01 August, 2005 02:12, Anonymous Flem said...

Great choice. I love this panel. The Goon #13.


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Ex Machina #1-5

I had somehow avoided most of the buzz around Brian Vaugn's Ex Machina before the good Dr. Flem emerged from the outback (at the head of a pack of wild dingos no less) and recommended it to me as "can't miss". At first i was skeptical - i mean the idea of an ex-superhero becoming Mayor just didn't sound all that appealing (at first). Days later i stumbled across a steal on ebay where i could get a short run (#1-6) for virtually free + shipping and so i jumped at it. I'm glad i did. Ex Machina is one of the best DC/Wildstorm titles i've read since i've been back.

Even though i initially thought the premise was a bit hokey - it grew on me quickly (like after the first issue). Essentially we have the story of a longtime public servant (Mitchell Hundred) who's viciously electrocuted examining some sort of alien bomb. He recovers to find out that he has the power to talk directly to machines (and by "machine" here we pretty much mean anything mechanical). He hooks up with a couple of friends; Ivan (nickname: Ruskie or Kremlin) who has a brilliant mind for inventing things, and Bradbury, who was there when he got his powers, and starts out trying to save the city from crime as it's first ever superhero (yeah first ever).

After a few years of playing hero under the pseudoname Ex Machina, Sept. 11th rolls around and (in this obviously altered reality) our champion is able to stop the second plane from flying into the second WTC building, but not the first. He's devastated at having not been able to defense the city against both attacks, and hangs up his cape (so to speak).

As a lifelong public servant with a real hard-on for his beloved New York City, Hundred can't just fade away into obscurity... So he runs for Mayor - using his popularity as Ex Machina, along w/ the help of an unwitting and dreadlocked campaign manager, to sweep him into office. And this is when it starts getting good.

I read somewhere that Ex Machina was a cross between television's West Wing and well... something else that i can't recall, but the West Wing ref is dead on. The title plays out like a political thriller, with a great supporting cast and some top notch writing. Much like in West Wing, we get a glimpse into the inner workings of a major political office (in this case the Mayorship rather than the Presidency but you get the picture), with a great twist surrounding Hundred's former life as a superhero, and his amazing powers.

Mayor Hundred is surrounded by a strong, well-developed cast: Bradbury (his friend with him during his accident), Dave (his campaign manager now Deputy Mayor), Ivan (the grizzled old Russian who desperately wants Hundred to get back into super-heroing w/ him so he can renew HIS sense of purpose), an intern named Journal Moore (who's character gets more and more interesting), and Police Commissioner Angioti (playing the role of gently opposing antagonist and doesn't want him to use his powers under any circumstances).

This first story arc covers a very delicate issue (racism) with a confidence from writer BKV that helps ensure it never feels uncomfortable to the reader (as it very easily could have). Vaugn does a great job with his narration boxes and diologue - everything that happens and everything the characters say feel realistic and believable (outside the fact that our main character can talk to machines obviously). I'm more impressed by this guy (Vaughn) w/ each and every title/issue of his that i read. I can see why this guy has so much buzz floating around about him (and not to mention Eisners). But I digress...

Both the story and characters are very well developed - the reader starts to really feel like he knows these people by the end of even the this first trade. Each has a unique personality and contribution to the story that proves once again that it's not one character that makes or breaks a story (typically) but the entire cast. Additionally, BKV does an excellent job with Hundred's internal struggles as an ex-superhero now in a position of power (when is it "ok" to use his powers? should he have left superhero-ing in the first place?) and with his personal relationships w/ each member of the cast (there are some very cool, underlying sub-plots through this first arc here).

The art is fantastic. Tony Harris' pencils are excellent, and his layouts work really well IMO. The entire book has a "painted" feel, with some pretty exquisite detail in some places. The Ex Machina costume isn't the coolest i've ever seen - but works well in this context (especially once you've read a few issues). All of the characters are visually unique (a big plus we don't always see), even in their faces. There's not a whole lot of action through this first arc (trust me this is NOT a bad thing tho), but when the action panels do come, they flow nicely and layout beautifully. Nice work.

Overall i have to thank Flem for introducing me to this title. I'm loving it so far and can't wait to get my hands on the next issues (and get caught up so i can read the current floppies i've been buying and shelving). If you're the least bit interested in a very cool, West Wing style look at life in politics with a unique twist for comic nerds like us - you have to pick up this first trade and give it a shot. I can assure you you won't be disappointed. BKV might just be THE man to watch amidst a nice size barrel of up-and-coming writers (can we even still refer to this guy as "up and coming")? A+.

It was all over when...

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31 July, 2005 12:31, Blogger Ryan X said...

Zilla, killer review man! Thanks for all the detail, this was a book I had looked at, but never got interested because I just heard it was political and not much else. Sounds like a really intellectual piece of art after reading your comments. An A+ from you = a trip to the LCS for me.

31 July, 2005 18:00, Anonymous Flemmy said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Great review. It only gets better.

31 July, 2005 20:06, Anonymous Hammer said...

Ex Machina is awsome. I loved Harris's artwork since he worked on James Robinson's Starman (a book that everybody should read). That is what drew me to this book. The interesting story and sweet art keeps me. I think it's one of the best comic's availible.


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Y: The Last Man Vol1 - Unmanned

The story of Y is pretty basic. A plague (or something) sweeps across the Earth and seemingly kills every male inhabitant at the same exact instant. One man, Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey (also male) survive. They wander around for a few weeks eventually making their way to Yorick's mother, who is a House Representative, in Washington D.C.

Yorick's mother reveals a plan to contact a doctor in Boston that is an expert in cloning and entreats Yorick to help out by allowing himself to be examined by this doctor. Yorick is more interested in finding his girlfriend in Australia, but eventually volunteers to seek out the doctor and help however he can. Realizing that he is potentially the last of the male species left, the new President blesses his trip to find the doctor. An agent of the mysterious Culper Ring is assigned to Yorick for protection, and the trio set off for Beantown. Of course the only male left on Earth can draw some attention so their journey is fraught with danger from the beginning.

The art in this book is good, but it isn't anything special (except for the pieces in between issues). The language in the book is good, but really nothing to write home about. What is special about this story, is the story. It causes you to deeply consider how you would react if placed in similar circumstances. However, what you think would be the main story, the plague, is actually just background for everything else that happens.

In the tradition of The Stand, Night of the Comet (that's going back a few years eh?), or more recently, The Walking Dead, the essence of the book is the characters and how they manage day-to-day in an unthinkable situation. You would think that life would be stripped down to its barest essentials after something this monumental, and yet it is surprising to find out that most of the problems we have now, still exist after this catastrophic event. In a number of ways, there are even more problems and little or no frame of reference to solve them.

Vaughan tries to show a wide spectrum of reactions by the women to the loss of "mankind" in this first volume. Many women are extremely distraught and some have even created a memorial for the men (not by accident, the memorial is the Washington Monument, ha ha). Others have convinced themselves that men were a disease and now they have finally been cleansed from the Earth. The latter are calling themselve Amazonians and no doubt these boob-slashing femicrazies are going to cause problems for our boy Yorick in the issues to come.

Although you get the sense that the world is a semi-ghost town at times, you also feel that that things are moving forward. The women are taking over where the men left off and trying to make the best of the situation. In fact, they are getting along quite well in many cases I am sure. The appearance of Yorick among the population is obviously upsetting; he simultaneously provides potential hope that all is not lost and reminds everyone just how much has been lost.

The potential at the end of this book is enormous. If you consider the epic nature of a work like The Stand, you can realize how many different directions this story could take. All in all, this volume is the start of what is bound to be considered one of the strongest series in the last 5 years. Highly recommended. Download 1st issue free!

It was all over when...

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31 July, 2005 01:47, Blogger zilla said...

another great review mr. x. i'm through the first trade (and halfway through the second) of this title myself and def enjoying it. BKV is fast becoming one of my fav writers. Guy has talent no doubt about it. To be honest this is another one of those titles that i actually had to force myself to read - the premise just didn't sound all THAT impressive when i heard about it - but after a few issues i was hooked... can't wait to catch up to the current floppies via trade and find out just where BKV is going to take us...

31 July, 2005 12:32, Blogger Ryan X said...

Love the pic at the end there...excellent! Thanks Zilla, this series really gets good later on, I need to finish up the trades and catch up with the floppies as well.


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Saturday, July 30, 2005

New Hulk Creative Team?

Well we may have finally gotten word on the new creative team for The Incredible Hulk after PAD bails. Seems that Daniel Way will write and Keu Cha will man the pencil for at least the first story arc. I heard about this over at Buzzscope, where they had a link to Cha's website. I spent some time looking through his sketches and the cat can draw there's no doubt about that (i hadn't seen much of his work before today). Not sure whethere both these guys (or one or the other) is just a stop gap, but here's to hoping we can get some continuity on this title and revitalize the Hulk ('specially since he's one of my all time favs).


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7.30 Panel 'o the Day

Where's it from? Actually, don't answer that since it's far too easy. Chalk this up to another Panel 'o the Day w/o the guessing part - just click on it and admire it :) it's like a cross between UFF4 and TWD.


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Silent Dragon #1

Now THIS is my kind of book. I'm a history nerd pretty much all around but i especially love ancient Japanese history (even more specifically feudal Japan). Samurai culture facinates me to no end and i usually try and get my hands on anything directly, or even loosely related. Unfortunately (for me since i kind of sleep on the style) most of the Samurai comics/GN's/cartoons you'll find these days are hardcore manga (or at least "manga-ish" like Blade of the Immortal), but every once in a while you'll get a few non-manga gem's like Dark Horse's Usagi Yojimbo or Samurai Heaven and Earth (both of which i love). Wildstorm's Silent Dragon falls neatly into this non-manga Samurai title category (albeit with a unique sci-fi twist) - and #1 is a winner IMO (especially after the halfway mark).

Our story starts in 2063 A.D. and after just a few intense pages (and one INCREDIBLE panel), we're taken back a year to 2062. Our main character, a Samurai named Renjiro, is confronted in the woods by a vaporous image of Ikiryo (or "Living Ghost"). Ikiryo warns Renjiro of an impending and life-changing crossroads in his future and offers him safe passage (protection) if he will only turn against the evil Lord Hideaki, whose clan Renjiro's family has served for over 400 years. Renjiro quickly turns down the offer (his personal honor will not allow such betrayal), and returns home to the summons of the beautiful Lady Takara (Hideaki's wife/concubine).

Takara reveals her oft hidden feelings for Renjiro (oh my this is going to get ugly you can tell right?) and a plot she has conceived to poison Lord Hideaki - or kill herself if she fails. By telling Renjiro of her plan, she forces him into a decision: Stand idely by (protecting Takara) and allow his master to be murdered and his own honor tarnished, or warn Hikeaki and see Takara summarily tortured and eventually murdered for treason. I want so, so badly to give away the end of this issue but i won't do it (so feel free to read on). It's one of the best endings i've read in a long, long while (to any floppy at least) and sets the stage for #2 and the rest of the mini i'm sure.

From what you've read so far, you can probably tell i'm in love with Andy Diggle's writing in Silent Dragon (first of his work i've read). He does a great job w/ the flow of the story and in writing some powerful dialogue that doesn't feel like it was translated from Japanese (mainly because it wasn't). Diggle deftly handles the mixture of Samurai culture, Bushido, and sci-fi/futuristic elements. I'm anxious to see where Diggle takes us with this story over the next 5 issues (especially considering the first and last few pages of this #1). And luckily for us Diggle is not alone in the "atta-boy"'s from this reviewer.

The pencil is handled by a guy (new to me) named Leinil Francis Yu - and he does a more than admirable job. The art is killer IMO (Yu's pencils are colored by the guy who does such a temendous job on Conan - Dave Stewart). Even though Silent Dragon takes place in Japan 50 years in the future, Yu makes impressive work of the characters and backgrounds to give the entire book that ancient Japanese look and feel (from the scenery and architecture, to the clothes, armor, and weapons), and at the same time throwing in a subtle futuristic twist here and there (much better IMO than shoving it in our faces to help push what they feel is a unique differentiator for the title).

There's a kick-ass (and highly original) character in here w/ tattooed lizard arms that is just so bad-ass IMO, and an incredible panel a few pages in that literally took my breath away (i'm a super nerd i know, i know). You'll definitely see this one on Panel 'o the Day at some point ;) Here's hoping we get a lot more of Yu's work on the shelves in the future.

This title probably isn't for everyone (but how could you resist a Samurai tale set 50 years in the future?)... from my point of view it's an A+.

It was all over when...


30 July, 2005 10:02, Blogger Mark Fossen said...

Great review, Zilla. I really liked Silent Dragon, as well. It's by-the-book, but in a good way. That first issue is the perfect setup for a great Samurai story.

30 July, 2005 12:27, Blogger Ryan X said...

Excellent review! I read this yesterday at work, I absolutely loved it. The panel you posted here at the end, that is one of the best I have ever seen, unreal. Looking forward to discussing this story as future issues emerge. Thanks zilla!

31 July, 2005 01:03, Blogger Greg said...

You should check out Samurai: Heaven and Earth from Dark Horse. It's a mini-series that has been coming out rather slowly, but it's excellent. A samurai wanders around Europe in the early 18th century looking for the love of his life, who was sold into slavery. Gorgeous art by Luke Ross.

Silent Dragon was excellent, you're right.

31 July, 2005 01:16, Blogger zilla said...

greg - i've read the first 3 issues of samurai H&E. it's def fantastic. the art in that title is amazing. i've already got the TPB on pre-order for sept. can't wait to put that on my shelf.


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Friday, July 29, 2005

A Quick Look at a Cool Website: Sequart.com

The subtitle for this website is "for the sophisticated study of comic books and graphic novels", very appropriate IMO. The cover page basically has a ton of links to news, shipping info, etc., a lot of great information all in one place. But what really intrigued me about this site were the "Continuity Pages". This is something I have been looking for on the web (maybe someone knows of a similar site). Basically, it is a listing of most major comic titles and authors with comicographies for each. Every title is not there of course, nor is every author, but from a rudimentary look at it, it is fairly comprehensive. Tons of cover shots, reviews, story summaries, etc. Check it out, you'll see what I mean. It is damn cool!


29 July, 2005 16:56, Blogger zilla said...

Conan isn't listed under Kurt Busiek's name (just noticed that). This is a great start - i'd LOVE to have a comprehensive list somewhere tho (just like you were looking for)... ah hopefully someday :)

29 July, 2005 17:03, Blogger Ryan X said...

Yeah, they have some work to do over there. Some good info if what you want is there though.

31 July, 2005 23:32, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Julian Darius of Sequart.com. Thanks greatly for the plug.

A lot of people comment that The Continuity Pages is the best on the site, and indeed it all started from there. I've been putting all of my energy into expanding the rest of the site, which involved me learning to program... and takes a lot of time. Eventually, I'll get back to The Continuity Pages and they'll be better than ever.

In the meantime, thanks for noticing and telling someone. It's an enormous labor of love, and I'm always thrilled that our team of volunteers has an audience.

Again, thanks!!!

01 August, 2005 09:21, Blogger Ryan X said...

No problem Darius, I'll be checking your site out often. Let us know when you make any changes, at least the people reading our blog will know to go check them out. Thanks!


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7.29 Panel 'o the Day

Where's it from? This one's super easy (but way cool). Hey it's friday ;)


29 July, 2005 15:41, Blogger Ryan X said...

Since everyone else is out on this lovely Friday afternoon, I'll spoil it. Conan? I haven't read it, but I read the review at TQ so there!

29 July, 2005 15:59, Anonymous Hammer said...

Conan. Awsome artwork.

29 July, 2005 18:38, Blogger Robby Reed said...

Hi Conan! We're the Ice Giants, and we want to crush you!


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Moms Rule: A Retrospective

Hey guys, I received something very special in the mail (actually UPS, but who cares) the other day. Ever since I left home for college, my comic book collection has been languishing in the ridiculously cold third floor of my parents house in Wyoming. So now that I have "returned" to comics I of course wanted ALL my comics to reside at my present location.

I asked my Mom once before to send them when I thought I had returned to comics, but she never did. She must have known I wasn't serious that time. Well, she finally sent them and I couldn't wait to dig in and see the old collection. My original plan was to organize them, input them into a database (along with all my "new" comics), and store them safely in my office at home. This way I could trade them, sell them, or just enjoy having them around.

But a strange thing happened last night when I broke the seal on the first box. I opened it up, removed the incredible amount packing on top (my mom is a legend at my house for the way she packs everything like it was a nuclear warhead with a hair trigger) and was immediately met with an issue of Alpha Flight.

This didn't really mean anything, I never was that big of a fan, but for some strange reason they were on my pull list at my local LCS (Comics Utah if you are interested). I pulled the AF out and underneath it was Ghost Rider #80 (remember when comics were 60 cents?). It isn't in very good condition, but I flipped it open and started thumbing through it.

Not only was I amazed that I still remembered specific panels in this issue, but I was surprised by the flood of memories that poured in from that period of my life. It wasn't dramatic and it didn't conjure up any old psychic scars or anything (this sort of thing only happens in the movies), the memories were mostly foggy, but pleasant. And yet, sometimes it can be strange (and a little uncomfortable) to be shot back to your past after seeing something from your "old days". Mostly I think it is the feeling that something has been lost, a feeling of a time you can't relive.

The point of all this (I know you are on the edge of your seat) is that I think a lot of us are looking to regain that time in our lives, that feeling when everything was pretty simple and comic books were a cherished form of entertainment. Of course you'll never get that innocent simplicity back in your life, but I think I am starting to regain, through comics, the joy of escaping into a story and leaving reality behind if only for brief moments. That is what entertainment was all about then and what it is about now, and I can't think of a better way to do it than with a well told story.

Needless to say, I will be going through every issue in those boxes and I know that there are many more "Ghost Riders" in there. I'll be the first one in line to pick up the newest version of Ghost Rider this year so I can be twelve again for 32 pgs...


29 July, 2005 12:21, Blogger zilla said...

dude i've been trying to get my mom to do the SAME thing for me. I have a bunch of long boxes in her basement that i need her to send to me... i'm going to call and remind her right now as a matter of fact (great post BTW). thanks x.

29 July, 2005 13:00, Blogger Mark Fossen said...

Boy - I sure wish any of my old comics were out there.

When I first collected, I was a pre-teen (late 70s - early 80s). We moved from CA to Chicago, and I just gave all my books to my buddies. That was Claremont's early X-men, the Wolfman/Perez Titans, etc ....

Then I started collecting again, and had accumulated a bunch. I stopped collecting when my first daughter was borm, and when we moved from PA to Utah there just wasn't room. I sold what was worthwhile, then gave the rest to a friend.

Now I'm starting from scratch again ....

29 July, 2005 16:21, Blogger Christopher Green said...

Sadly I don't have my old collection anymore. When I got out of comics I sold most of my titles (though I kept about 30 or so odd issues of random things)


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Thor: Blood Oath Art

Powers turned me onto Oemings pencils, and i'm hoping Thor: Blood Oath will prove he's an equally talented writer. In addition to Oeming, the Thor: Blood Oath creative team includes penciler Scott Kolins who's credits include runs on The Flash, The Avengers, and Marvel Team-Up. Personally i can't wait for this new Thor mini, and got even more hype when i stumbled across these preview images this morning:

For a couple more (and an interview w/ the guy who drew them) check out this post over at Comixfan.


29 July, 2005 13:04, Blogger Sean Maher said...


Oops, sorry. Had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Uh, WOW. I knew I was excited about this already, but JESUS. Tradewaiting this puppy just got a lot harder.


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Mark Fossen Reviews Scott Pilgrim 1 & 2

My good pal Mark Fossen has posted a phenomenal review of the first two editions of the now famous Scott Pilgrim on his blog (Focused Totality). I was sure to mention how much i loved the review in a comment to his post, but that somehow didn't feel like "enough" so i decided to gush over it here in the comfort of Zilla's lair. Mark's reviews are getting better and better - and in this man's humble opinion he should be doing this professionally (can someone please hire this man??). Whether you have any interest in Scott Pilgrim at all - do yourself a big favor and CHECK OUT the review.


29 July, 2005 09:32, Blogger Ryan X said...

Well, no doubt that was a highly intellectual and impressive (understatement)review of a comic book. Mark is obviously trained in the arts and his depth of knowledge is slightly intimidating. I am compelled to pick up Scott Pilgrim, as any thinking man would be after reading Mark's review.

29 July, 2005 13:03, Blogger Mark Fossen said...

Thanks for the pimp, Zilla. And the kind words.

The piece came out a bit more academic and stuffy that I wanted, but I do actually think about these things. I suppose it's my misspent youth in theatre. :)


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Marvel Film and TV Projects

The always excellent Comics Continuum has dropped some info on upcoming Marvel big and small screen projects:

  • Feature film development: X-Men 3, Fox, script, director, May 26, 2006 release; Ghost Rider, Sony, filming completed, summer 2006 release; The Punisher 2, Lions gate, writer, director, targeted for 2006; Spider-Man 3, Sony/Columbia, director, May 4, 2007 release; Namor, script, targeted for 2007; Iron Man, New Line Cinema; Luke Cage, Sony/Columbia; Deathlok, Paramount; Hulk 2, Universal; Wolverine, Fox.

  • Feature film projects in development: Ant-Man, Black Panther, Captain America, Killraven, Nick Fury, Silver Surfer and Thor.

  • Animated direct-to-video projects in development: Partnership with Lions Gate to develop, produce and distribute original animated DVD features. Four projects in 2D/3D format are in development with the first release slated for 2006. Titles include: The Avengers 1, The Avengers 2, Iron Man and Dr. Strange.

  • Animated TV Projects in Development: Partnership with Antefilms Distribution to produce an original animated television series based on the Fantastic Four. Twenty-six, 30-minute 2D/3D animated episodes are planned with initial TV airings in 2006.

  • Live-action TV projects in development: Brother Voodoo.
There's some good stuff in here... Big-screen adaptations of Silver Surfer and Thor? A FF4 animated series? I've also heard elsewhere that there is a Powers movie in the works. Keep in mind that this is only a Marvel list, and there are obviously a ton of projects in the works from other publishers (i have heard rumor of a Walking Dead movie, and even read in Wizard that there is a WE3 script in development! How you like that Mr. X?).


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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Uncensored's Review of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1"

Our story begins as a man named Campion Bond enlists Wilhelmina Murray (formerly Harker) to assemble a group oh heroes to do a service for King and country (so to speak).

Mrs. Murray firsts meets a mysterious "sea captain", who is none other than Captain Nemo, enlisted to aid her in her quest. They travel to Cairo to find Allan Quartermain (who has become an opium addict). Quartermain causes a commotion, and eventually decides it would be best to leave with Ms. Murray rather than hang around and continue to embarass himself. The next destination is Paris, to seek out a mysterious "beast man" who has been murdering prostitutes. In order to trick their quarry, Murray poses as a lady of the evening herself, luring the beast into the open, where Quartermain and C. Auguste Dupin manage to capture him. It is ultimately discovered that the "beast man" is Mr. Edward Hyde (of Jekyl and Hyde fame).

The motley crews' final destination is a girls' boarding school, where three young women have been impregnated by what they believe to be "The Holy Spirit". We soon find out however, that this invisible figure is none other than Dr. Hawley Griffin, The Invisible Man. The team convinces Griffin to join them.

With the crew now assembled, they learn that their mysterious benefactor (known simply as "M") has charged them with a mission to retrieve something known as Cavorite (which has the power to control gravity and lift any object, regardless of weight or size, into the air). The Cavorite has been stolen by an Asian Opium-smuggling crimelord known as Fu Manchu.

There's a couple of things I must admit before we get further into the review. First of all, prior to this, I had only read one Alan Moore story. I had heard many things about him, but didn't have much first hand experience with his work.

Secondly, I saw the film long before reading this (and actually enjoyed it). However, after reading the hard cover edition of the graphic novel, I lost a lot of appreciation I had of the film. The graphic novel is such a fine piece of storytelling that the film adaptation of it is an obvious dumbing-down of a sophisticated (yet fun) adventure through Victorian literature.

I enjoyed this story very much, in fact, it is easily the best thing I've read since returning to comics. Mr. Moore gives us a highly engaging story, that had me eagerly anticipating what would happen on the next page. Lots of intelligent and authentic dialogue is traded back and fourth between each character in the story, and it successfully gives them all strong personalities that you will quickly become familiar with, and like.

Quartermain is presented initially as being an Opium-addicted shell of his former self, but as the story progresses, he endears himself to the reader, and regains his strong convictions and sense of honor and adventure. Ms. Murray is definitely the star of the story, and she comes off as a naive (yet strong) woman who reminded me very much of Rachel Weisz's character Evelyn from the 1999 film The Mummy (minus the clumsiness). I believe these two to be the most fascinating characters of the story, as they both have much more to them than is initially depicted.

The artwork is drawn in a simple Victorian style, and while it suits the comic very well, it took me some time to get used to. At first I wasn't fond of it at all, being used to the flashy artwork of superhero comics, but I warmed up to it. The action is spectacular for the setting, particularly in the climatic battle of the story. The expressions on the characters are believable and convey their emotions quite well, which helps the characters become even more than written words. There's also a fair amount of violence and gore in the story, but it's done very tastefully, and it serves a purpose.

Which brings me back to Mr. Moore's writing, everything about the story just flows together so nicely. The events all string together, the dialogue never gets dull, and you're always interested in what the characters have to say. The pacing is perfect, and there really are no dull moments. I read this book in two sittings. I honestly wanted to do it in one sitting, because I was deeply involved in the story and where it would go from there (unfortunately I was unable to, due to having to do other things).

Overall, this is a fantastic story, with an interesting and original premise. One does not even need to be a fan of Victorian literature to love it.



29 July, 2005 07:04, Blogger zilla said...

Good review Uncensored. I just finished reading this as well and loved it just as much as you did. Really puts the movie to shame (obviously). You said you read the HC - what's the cover price on that? did it have any extras?

29 July, 2005 07:06, Blogger zilla said...

PS i love that panel of Quartermain looking up Mx. Murray's dress. Her dialogue then the experession on his face are hilarious. I was going to use that as a panel 'o the day at some point ;)

29 July, 2005 09:24, Blogger Ryan X said...

Excellent review Uncensored! I have also been wanting to pick this up. Since I have never seen the movie, I will be going in fresh which is the way I like it. Thanks for the review.

29 July, 2005 16:19, Blogger Christopher Green said...

The hard cover edition has a cover price of $24.95 USD.

It features the six issues, plus it also features a back-up novel-typed story called Allanm And The Sundered Veil. I didn't read it though, as I'm not really into novels.


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7.28 Panel 'o the Day

Where's it from?


28 July, 2005 16:12, Anonymous Hammer said...

As soon as I saw it, I thought it looked like either Mignola art or O'Neil. It's Keven O'Neil from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 1 issue 4 I believe.

28 July, 2005 16:14, Anonymous Hammer said...

Checking the properties of the pic says it's leaguePanal2. That's a bit of a clue

28 July, 2005 16:25, Blogger zilla said...

yeah i knew it wouldn't be long before someone figured that out... so from now on they will have cryptic names for sure. great moment though in the first league trade.


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Sean Maher's Quality Control

Today's shameless pimping of another's comics blog:

Sean Maher's blog "Quality Control" is fast becoming one of my favorites. The guy posts some good thoughts, killer reviews, and seriously big, nice, high resolution image scans (thank God for the age of broadband). It's almost scary how similar Sean's taste is to your old pal Zilla's. He's got some business up there today about Wildestorm's Silent Dragon, and a post immediately preceding it about the latest Conan incarnation. Both are must reads w/ some must see images. I'm about to drop a review of Silent Dragon sometime today (loved it w/ a capitol "L").

Stop in today, tomorrow, next week or all 3.


28 July, 2005 15:04, Blogger Ryan X said...

Sean's blog is very cool, I loved the Conan review. I am sorry I passed on it today at the store, if I had known that #16 was a logical jumping on point, I would have snagged it. Also, speaking of Silent Dragon (which I am getting also), Andy Diggle also did "The Losers", another excellent book (3 trades out so far).

28 July, 2005 15:11, Blogger zilla said...

yeah i REALLY dug silent dragon - i'm putting up a review of it tonight.


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7.27 Floppy Mini-Reviews

I must be in a bad mood this morning considering the 2 mini-reviews i'm about to write. Rest assured though - i really enjoyed SILENT DRAGON #1 and somewhat enjoyed GODLAND #1; i'll be dropping separate reviews of those after i get these "others" out the door.

HULK DESTRUCTION #1 - Oh how i waited for this one (w/ baited breath even; whatever that means). I wanted this to be good SO bad, and well, i got half my wish. The writing is solid IMO, i actually enjoyed the story - but the art kills me. I'm sure some people might enjoy Muniz's style but it hurts my eyes. His characters faces and bodies are almost always out of proportion and he has an unhealthy obsession with veins. Veins, veins, bulging veins everywhere!

What we have is a story of the gub-ment trying to use the abomination as a WMD in trouble spots around the world. PAD asks the reader a question i've often asked myself: Why risk our troops lives when we can just drop a super-powered goliath behind enemy lines and have him "smash" until there is no more smashing to be done? Turns out to be a good idea with poor execution (typical gov't). Instead of recruiting some reasonably intelligent and morally sound superhero or team to do the job, let's pull the mindless abomination from prison, try to brainwash him with the help of Doc Sampson (who we'll hold hostage until he does our bidding), and create our WMD that way? Oh this is going to work out well you can just tell.

It may sound like i'm clowning PAD's work but i'm not. Like i said the writing/story has me on lockdown, it's just that i've got this problem w/ the art i'm not sure i can get past. Let me read this again in a few days and see.

MUTATION #1 - Poo Poo. I picked this up primarily because the writer is a friend of my LCS and yesterday they had signed copies for cover price (even though i'm not sure why THAT means anything since i'm more of a reader than collector and this is the only signed anything i own). This is probably the first time i've read a comic and actually thought it would have been just fine as a digest (since i usually despise the format). Beavers art isn't that bad really (it reminds me of an immature Oeming), it's just that it's large, cartoony, and lacking detail. The writing though is super-thin. This entire production would have been much better as an animated series (i must admit it IS action packed). Avoid until they make it one. D.


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The Surrogates #1

I initially picked up The Surrogates because it had a really interesting premise (that and i'm desperate to get some good, hardcore, non-superhero science fiction into my stack): Suppose technology has progressed to a point where fully customizable (gender, height/weight, hair/eye/skin color, etc.) humanoid robots can be mass produced at a cost that makes them available to just about every average joe or mary. Take it a step further and build in the ability for these androids to digitally relate complex stimuli (sights, sounds, smells, and feelings) back to their "operators" via wireless virtual reality, and you have one hell of a brain-buster setting for a story.

According to a great newsmag article add-on at the back of this first issue, greater than 90% of people are using these surrogates to live their lives while they virtually "drive" from the Laz-E-boy in their living room (think of this as an uber-advanced, real life Sim City). They go to work for you, they socialize for you. You can experience laying on the beach all day, smoking cartons of cigarettes, or getting wasted on alcohol w/o the threat of any harmful side effects or even hangovers. Hell you can look anyway you want to look, be anyone you want to be... scary. You'll feel the experience as if you were there, but you won't actually BE there, your surrogate will. Interesting right? Right. A bit more from Top Shelf's website:

In the tradition of William Gibson and Philip K. Dick, The Surrogates is more than just an action story with sci-fi trappings. Applying familiar tropes in unfamiliar ways, The Surrogates is about progress and whether there exists a tipping point at which technological advancement will stop enhancing and start hindering our lives. It is also a commentary on identity, the Western obsession with physical appearance, and the growing trend to use science as a means of providing consumers with beauty on demand.

I've heard (somewhere) Surrogates described as a heady mix of technology, crime drama, and social commentary - and to be honest that's right on point. Vinditti does a pretty good job handling what is a HUGE can of worms; covering a tremendous amount of ground in the 22 pages of this first issue. Essentially we spend our time following a couple of detectives as they investigate the suspicious "murder" of two surrogates (since surrogates are really just the property of their operators, these cases are typically treated like grand theft or destruction of property and ultimately become insurance rather than legal matters).

Vinditti's writing and dialogue are nice and strong (which is a must for crime drama writing IMO), and he covers a TON of ground in just this first issue (admittedly with the help of a great 4-5 page text-only article in the back written like an excerpt from a news magazine). We get a glimpse at the effects surrogate technology has on society as a whole, dating and relationships (even marriage), crime, religion, and briefly explore the new surrogate/operator paradigm.

The art is very "sketch" in both it's pencils and coloring - but the style works pretty well for a crime drama and gives us that gritty back-alley feeling (another must have for this genre). This is another one of those books for me where the art is a turnoff at first but grows, and grows on me (much like Sin City), and by the end of the first issue you're actually appreciating it.

Overall this is a fairly solid entry from Top Shelf. Personally i think the the title will read much better as a trade (in one or two sittings perhaps) - but i'm not sure i'll be able to wait that long to get the story - so most likely i'll be picking up the floppies as they hit the stands. Vinditti does a solid job with what i think is a difficult subject matter (this could VERY easily have been corny or mishandled) and sprinkles in just enough social commentary to get your synapses firing (you WILL walk away thinking about this, i promise you) w/o preaching at us. Weldele's sketch-style pencils add effect to the Blade Runner rainy-night-in-the-urban-jungle mood of the story. Check it. B+.

It was all over when...


28 July, 2005 08:48, Blogger Ryan X said...

This looks pretty good. I am a big PKD fan so that fact that this is being compared to his work is enough for me. I'll check it out.


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Uncensored's Comics Pruchased: July 27

All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder #1: Miller & Lee together on a Batman title is too good to pass up,
New Avengers #7: Pull list.
Battle Pope #1: I'm all for religious parodies, so I picked it up.
Daredevil #75: Pull list, expect a review of the "Decalogue" arc within the next couple of weeks.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #21: Saw the movie, decided to check out the comic book (see my review of the film).
Hellblazer #209 & 210: Pull list.
House of M #4: Pull list.
Majestic #7: Pull list.
The Punisher #23: Pull list.
Spider-Man: House of M #2: Pull list.
Marvel Knights Spider-Man #16: Pull list (unfortunately).
New Thunderbolts #10: Recomended by several people at the Comic Book Resources Forum.

I haven't read any of them yet. If anyone is interested in any of these ask me about them, and I'll give my thoughts after reading them.


28 July, 2005 04:02, Anonymous Flemmy said...

I love Daredevil man. Decalogue was a great arc and I look forward to reading what you thought of it.

Drop MK Spider-Man and start with Amazing. It's getting pretty good.

28 July, 2005 07:11, Blogger zilla said...

i'm w/ Flem Uncensored, i'm wanting to jump onto DD so drop us a review of that one (and New Thunderbolts). Also you're the one who told me to ditch MK spidey (and i did - it was sucking). Even though i do like absorbing man ;)

28 July, 2005 09:35, Blogger Ryan X said...

Make sure to comment on your buys, I am looking at jumping on board almost all of your choices. I am in desperate need of a Spidey fix, sounds like Amazing is the choice du jour at the moment. Why is MK Spidey so bad? I thought that would be the "edgy" one...

28 July, 2005 09:41, Blogger zilla said...

that's def part of my routine (my shopping list is below BTW) this is Uncensored's list. Uncensored - from now on let's mention in the title of our posts who's "list" it is. like "Zilla's 7.27 Shopping List" or something.

28 July, 2005 09:47, Blogger zilla said...

but ryan - i have my shopping list a few posts down - and i'm working on reviews of those for sometime this afternoon :)

28 July, 2005 11:57, Blogger Christopher Green said...

MK Spidey is in the middle of an arc, and love or hate a ttle, I really don't like dropping them mid-arc (Toxin was an exception), besides, after this arc ends in two months, The Other is starting, so it would look odd in my collection to have a few missing issues.

28 July, 2005 14:52, Blogger Ryan X said...

Sorry guys, wasn't looking at the name. I was curious as to why Zilla put up a shopping list and then put up another right after that. I thought I was the only one going to the LCS 3-4 times a week...


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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Brain Dump From Sept.'s Wizard

  • There's a decent article talking about Jim Lee and Grant Morrison's forthcoming WildCats reboot (due in 06). Supposedly WildCats will tie-in with the new Captian Atom series. I missed WildCats the first time around but i'm almost sold on the reboot...

  • Warren Ellis' new superhero team book Nextwave, taking little known Marvel characters and setting them in little known locales. I'm generally an Ellis fan so i'm looking forward to this. With typical Wizard enthusiasm this is called Ellis' "...most inventive and explosive idea since Planetary.".

  • This isn't new but there's more info on DC's "52" (an ambitious WEEKLY 52 issue continuous series from DC immediatly following Infinite Crisis). Can't wait to see them pull this off - weekly issues is cool, but they better not be 3 bucks each!

  • There's a wretched 2 pager in the middle of this issue flaunting comics "most voluptous and under-used vixens". If i were 15 instead of 30 i might be hype.

  • Hadn't heard about this but happy, happy: There will be an MK "Surver" 6-issue mini (Silver Surfer) in 06 by Straczynski (man that's hard to spell and/or type) w/ "fully painted" art by Esad Ribik. The way Straczynski describes the mini makes it sound like the story will focus a lot on the Surfer's introspection about his solemn, lonely existense (cool!). The Silver Surver is one of my all time fav's so this is good news.

  • There's an interview w/ Jenkins who talks briefly about the upcoming Revelations mini w/ Humberto Ramos. Ramos is one of my favorite artists and i cannot WAIT for the first book in this series in August.

  • There's an interview w/ Mike Mignola. Evidently he's trying to get more active (w/ more HB mini's etc.) and feels like HB fans were left w/ a whole lot of "not much" over the past year. Also - there's a HB animated series in the works for CN's Adult Swim and a new Sci-Fi channel show "The Amazing Screw-On Head" (nice!).

  • Oh man, Frazier Crane (Kelsey Grammar) is playing Beast (what??), and one of the funniest tough guys around (Vinnie Jones) gets to knuckle up as Juggernaut (i'm def seeing this now that guy kills me.).

  • In what i think is a coup for Wizard, there's a 6-page preview of five new Image titles: Battle Hymn, Sea of Red, The Atheist, The Amazing Joy Buzzards, and Godland. Not a lot new here (I've already got Battle Hymn "Meet a violent, foul-mouthed and sexually charged JSA during WWII", Sea of Red "Pirates, vampites and Hollywood producers terrorize in this genre-bending epic", and Godland"The Silver Age meets the 21st Century in this sci-fi, superhero opus" on my wish list) but a good read to help me remember why i love Image.

  • For anyone looking for some background on New Avengers, Wizard breaks down each issue (w/ cool side-commentary from Bendis and Finch). I missed the first few of these so found this really worthwile - and the commentary was def entertaining - kind of like the director's walk-throughs on DVDs.

  • This is also old news but Paramount nixed the Watchmen movie before it got off the ground (figures considering Moore's distaste for the idea). They've been trying to make this thing since the early 90s, one wonders if we'll ever see it.
That's a wrap.


27 July, 2005 19:42, Blogger El Snoozo said...

Hopefully Warner Brothers will be able to snatch up the film distribution rights for "The Watchmen"..It is a DC publication, but I believe that the distribution rights were snatched up by Paramount before the big Warner Bros purchase of DC and their properties.
I saw the trailer for "V for Vendetta" which is an Alan Moore graphic novel which is being distributed by Warners and it looks promising.
I really think after the shit stain that was Catwoman that Warners is really trying to do these comic properties justice in the transition to film, like Batman Begins and Constantine.

27 July, 2005 19:48, Blogger zilla said...

yeah i've actually heard rumors of all kinds of comics->movies - Ex Machina, even Powers (i'd love to see that).

27 July, 2005 23:56, Blogger Greg said...

Joe Casey did some very interesting things with Wildcats over two different series (Version 2.0 and 3.0, I suppose). The second series is all out in trades (the first one is Scott Lobdell and Travis Charest, but then Casey and Sean Phillips take over), and I think most of the third one is (mostly with art by Dustin Nguyen). It's a shame they didn't sell better, because they're excellent. Check them out.

Godland is good (another Casey book!). Sea of Red is pretty good. I haven't read Battle Hymn. That's my two cents.

28 July, 2005 00:25, Blogger Robby Reed said...

This is almost impossible to read. PLEASE skip spaces between bulleted items! I'm begging you...

28 July, 2005 03:15, Blogger Christopher Green said...

There's actually been several WildC.A.T.s series' over the years. Including a new mini starting in september.

28 July, 2005 03:21, Blogger Christopher Green said...

Oh, and if you missed the first few issues of New Avengers (I missed the first three as well), try to get Marvel Must Haves: New Avengers 1-3. It's about the cost of a double-sized issue, and it's the first three issues collected together. It was released in March, but you may still be able to find it.

28 July, 2005 07:24, Blogger zilla said...

your wish is my command photoshop God.

28 July, 2005 14:54, Blogger Ryan X said...

Didn't this mag come out yesterday? You must have been in the can for a long time to already have this much out of it...great summary, saved me $4.99 or whatever it costs.

28 July, 2005 15:11, Blogger zilla said...

HA!!! no doubt my friend, no doubt ;)

29 July, 2005 10:43, Blogger Robby Reed said...

So much better!!!!


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Loveless #1

This book is out in October so this is a little premature, but I don't mind starting the hype machine now. If 100 Bullets is any indication, Brian Azzarello is one of the hottest writers out there. I love 100 Bullets so I know I won't be disappointed when this hits the stands. I'll let the solicitation tell the story (from Newsarama):

Fresh off his white-hot run on SUPERMAN, Eisner award-winning writer Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS, BATMAN) has created a Western for the new millennium. Reuniting with HELLBLAZER artist Marcelo Frusin, Azzarello has fashioned a tough-as-nails monthly series that combines all the bloody action and atmosphere of a Sergio Leone film with the provocative storytelling of HBO's Deadwood. The extra-sized 40-page issue #1 is just $2.99; future issues are 32 pages.Wes Cutter is a wanted man running from a violent past the horrors of the Civil War, a brutal stint in a Union prison camp, and the savage fallout of Reconstruction. Now he's on a quest for the one thing in short supply: peace. Joining Wes is his beautiful wife Ruth, a woman who has been to hell and back herself and hides dark secrets of her own. The road they travel will be a bloody one, leaving a trail of bodies stretching from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean. This is a tale only Azzarello the mind behind some of the hardest-hitting comics of the last decade could tell. Vertigo | 40pg. | Color | $2.99 US

Can't wait for this to hit the stores! Giddy up!


27 July, 2005 15:55, Blogger zilla said...

man i love me some spaghetti westerns. where's flemmy? i know he's in for this. i'm w/ you mr. x - can't wait.

27 July, 2005 16:23, Blogger Ryan X said...

Everyone make sure you check out the sample pages at Newsarama.

27 July, 2005 17:19, Blogger Bigseek said...

I can't wait for the trade on this one. I'm gonna pre-order from the get-go.

27 July, 2005 20:08, Anonymous Flemmy said...

Oooooooh, yeah! :D I can't wait for this one!

28 July, 2005 00:21, Blogger El Snoozo said...

I don't know about all that "hot run" on Superman hub-bub..That was probably some of his worst writing, and I love the stuff he did on The Losers, but man did that near year long Superman story arc go nowhere, and because it was year long it definitely wasn't fast.


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7.27 Panel 'o the Day

Where's it from? (and yes that is a monster made up entirely of human bodies :)


27 July, 2005 15:28, Anonymous Hammer said...

Brit. The first one. Gotta love Kirkman and Moore.

27 July, 2005 15:33, Blogger Bigseek said...

I have one of the Brit series on order. I placed after seeing that sequence online somewhere. I can't wait to read it.
That is the kind of insane crazy stuff I want in my comics.

27 July, 2005 15:42, Blogger zilla said...

i'm w/ you bigseek. you won't be disappointed - i actually loved all 3 of the brit trades (esp #2).


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R!OT Comics and Culture

Have you ever dreamed of opening your own comic shop? If you haven't heard of it already, there's a great little blog run by a guy named Jason Richards who is chasing this very dream while we watch. Jason posts his progress toward opening his own comic shop (R!OT Comics and Culture) to his blog every day and it really is an uber-entertaining read. He logs the ups and downs of starting your own business (in particular an LCS) with such detail you almost feel like you're right there with him. I love this blog and wander over there at least once a day to get my fix on Jason's updates... great stuff.


27 July, 2005 12:01, Blogger Ryan X said...

Thanks for the reminder, I have been to his blog before, but forgot to check back on it. It is very cool, makes you want to open up your own store (sort of). I would love to throw whatever support I can at Jason so if you are reading this Jason, let us know how to help out! I'll buy a t-shirt and sticker right now!

27 July, 2005 17:31, Blogger jason @ RIOT said...


i should have t-shirts sometime next week. i'll have to set up a Paypal account for them...6 different designs at $15 each.

27 July, 2005 17:44, Blogger zilla said...

definitely do that - i'll pimp them here to our modest audience (you've got at least 2 sold already :) also - mind if i use one of your logos here somewhere to promote your store/blog??

27 July, 2005 17:46, Blogger Ryan X said...

The man is opening a comic book store within days and still has time to post on the Zilla blog, can we get a round of applause please:)? Good luck Jason!

27 July, 2005 22:45, Blogger jason @ RIOT said...

hey zilla, give me an e-mail address, and i'll send you one of my logos.

and the t-shirt designs are now up on the RIOT blog...


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7.27 Shopping List

Looks like it might be a couple of light weeks in a row at the 'ole LCS. Not necessarily a bad thing though - i've got a bedside stack a mile and a half high and i could def use a break from the last couple of months "add three, read one" routine ;)

Looking ahead one week: MARVEL 1602 NEW WORLD #1 (OF 6), NEW AVENGERS #8, and HUNGER #3

None :(

SILENT DRAGON #1 (OF 6) - Can't remember where i read about this but i DO remember thinking it sounded/looked cool.
SUPERMAN BATMAN #21 - Pull list.

GODLAND #1 - There's a lot of hype swirling around about this book and the good Dr. Flem has further hyped me by pointing me to the Newsarama link. "I guess it's the 'everything all at once' approach we're taking, where every issue is a complete experience. No writing for the trade. No 'Part 1 of 6' nonsense. G�DLAND is meant to be the kind of comic book that comes straight from the spinner rack" - writer Joe Casey. Cheers to that.

HULK DESTRUCTION #1 (OF 4) - Been anticipating this one for a while (even though the preview pages i've seen lately have curbed my enthusiasm a bit).

EL ARSENAL #1 (OF 3) - Another one i've had on the 'ole wish list for some time. So long in fact i've almost forgotten why. Until i sifted through the El Arsenal website again this morning that is...
WIZARD COMICS MAGAZINE - I really need to just pony up for a subscription to this - everyone seems to hate it but i enjoy it (and keep spending cover price on it unfortunately).


27 July, 2005 09:50, Blogger Ryan X said...

My interest in Godland was also piqued by that article, so that comes out today? I was going to hit the LCS for the new Losers and pick up Previews and Wizard. On that topic, why does everyone hate Wizard? If someone that hates it would like to comment, I just want to hear their reasoning. Also, what is a better alternative?

27 July, 2005 12:07, Blogger Christopher Green said...

No worries man, I love Wizard, always have.

27 July, 2005 13:09, Blogger Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Wizard's fine if all you want is overblown hype about the latest Marvel & DC projects and "exclusives" that NEWSarama offers similar coverage of, sometimes the same day it's published in Wizard...for FREE!. It's a relic of the speculative 90s, targeted directly at teenage-minded fanboys. Not necessarily teenagers, mind you, but teenage-minded.

Now, I'm not bashing people that enjoy reading it as I understand its appeal even if I don't agree, but I'd highly recommend picking up an issue of Comics Buyer's Guide along with it for the next month or two, and then deciding if you still want to subscribe. IMO, CBG is a far superior publication.

27 July, 2005 13:22, Blogger zilla said...

i'll have to check out CBG. to be honest i don't read wizard for the news necessarily (like you i get that from the web)... for me it's just to have something comics related (but not as intense as actual comics) lying around to read when i'm laying on the couch or on my deck (or in the can). magazines are generally mindless for me.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Transmetropolitan Vol 1: Back on the Street

I do not want your cheap brainburning drugs. They are useless for work. And I am a working man today. I want vasopressin, washed caffeine, jumpstart, gingko biloba, guarana, and any intelligence enhancer introduced in the last five years.

From the opening scene, the drug-addled, chain smoking, futuristic Gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem grabs your frontal lobe with both hands and demands your full attention on his halluncinatory adventures. The frantic energy and paranoia of Spider, amid his rapidly approaching "deadline", practically drip off the page.

The premise of this first volume is a rapid fire introduction to Spider and his reemergence on the city after a long "sabbatical'. He is a journalist and for the last five years has chosen to live in the mountains, completely cut off from society. After a pissed off editor calls demanding the two books Spider is contracted to write, he leaves his retreat and heads for the city where he can hammer out his books with the stench and chaotic din of this burned out metropolis as his backdrop. In one of many classic scenes, he fires an RPG into a diner on his way out of the mountains - trust me, this is cool with a capital C. After settling back into his familiar surroundings, he sets out to find a job...er, make that "take" a job, by force. Ultimately he enmeshes himself in a low-brow battalion of revolutionaries fighting for their rights to, well, "change" themselves. All this and much much more...no spoilers here!

This book is a trip, period. A strangely comfortable trip through a deeply disturbing version of our modern urban jungle, but with a very cool guide. Spider makes you feel safe, because you know he will be able to handle whatever situation he drags you in to, you are just sticking around to find out HOW he will handle it. He doesn't care how he gets it done either, just so that it gets done, and despite his peace-loving ways, ha ha...he isn't afraid to brandish the steel to make shit happen.

Along the way, you'll get to see a lot of what many people despise about the urban environment (I am a lowly suburbanite so I think all city things are scary). Ellis is definitely getting some social/political message across, but I typically try not to decipher these things so you'll have to find the message yourself, SORRY! He portrays the city as a post-apocalyptic cess pool of thugs, whores, and drug dealers/users. This is exactly what you expect to find though before Spider even takes you into the city, because HE is a drugged out weirdo and that is who you assume he will be hanging out with when he arrives. This is all okay though, Spider is obviously very comfortable haunting these dark, stinky hallways, and you are too...because you can't help but trust old SJ.

There are even a few softer moments that show what a truly compassionate person SJ really is under his tattoos, possibly a sign of things to come? He just has a certain charm about him that makes you feel welcome as he allows you to closely observe his skills in "investigative journalism"... I say "investigative journalism" tongue-in-cheek of course, this is pure "Gonzo" journalism. Every review ever written about this series has probably made some reference to the great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, considered by many the Father of Gonzo journalism (I guess I am no different as I opened with this most appropriate of references). For anyone who has read anything by HST, this is, of course, a mandatory nod as the similarities between Spider and Raoul Duke are unmistakable.

Darick Robertson's artwork is great and masterfully complements the extremely bizarre storyline. All the scenes are drawn with an amazing amount of detail: Check out the inside of the back page, you could probably build whatever contraption (A/C unit or Meth cooker?) is behind Spider in this scene if you knew your way around a tool box.

I also loved the different ways you get to see Spider. A lot of books that I have read are sometimes lacking when it comes to seeing the full range of emotions in a character (on purpose many times of course), but not so with Darick's renderings. SJ goes through the full spectrum and in doing so, makes it impossible not to like him by the end of the book. You may not like him all the time, but at some point you'll be thinking you would like to at least share a brew with him at your local bar.

This is an award winning series, I wasn't exactly shocked that I loved the first book. Warren Ellis is considered one of the modern geniuses in the industry and reading this I can see why. I can't wait to get the next one, although I may need to bring some sanitary hand cleaner this time...

To totally plagiarize Zilla (he said I could!): It was all over when...


27 July, 2005 00:53, Blogger zilla said...

ryan seriously this is a great review. i'm on issue #5 of transmet at loving it as much as you are... i can't believe we have what 4 or 5 trades of this to look forward to? here's to hoping transmet doesn't "jump the shark" until the bitter end page of the last issue (#60 i think?).

27 July, 2005 01:55, Blogger Robby Reed said...

Not to seem trivial, but your reviews would be much easier to read if you just used shorter paragraphs! You don't have to cut anything, just make more paragraphs. This is a common problem on the web, and comic blogs in particular. Just a thought to help you.

27 July, 2005 07:04, Blogger zilla said...

Don't feel bad ryan - it's funny that Robby brought this up - i've totally (totally) noticed that about my reviews too and have been consciously trying to be better about it... shorter para's are def easier to read on the screen. great review tho ;)

27 July, 2005 09:14, Blogger Ryan X said...

Thanks for the constructive criticism Robby, great advice. And I totally agree with you. Hopefully my write ups will improve as I do more of them (that's the way it is supposed to work I think?).

Can't believe I forgot to mention this earlier, Zilla, love the new look of the blog. It is the little changes that make the biggest difference. It is even more readable now and looks killer. Also, thanks for the image help, looks awesome!

16 December, 2005 13:12, Anonymous Tom Oatley said...

I''ll be back. Later :)


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I.. I just don't know what to say...

Back in '99 when I was 14 I loved Dark Minds, and loved Pat Lee's artwork, and the fact that he's Canadian (like myself) made me have even more admiration for him, and prompted me to buy every Dreamwave title to show my support. I eventually stopped reading comics for a few years (as I'm sure you're all aware of). Anyway, I just read the following article on Newsarama:

(Note: It's a legnthy read, but I ask you all to please take the time to read it)


by Alex Segura Jr.

Funny books are a tough business. Whether you're trying to break in as an artist or writer, the odds aren't good. But few potential creators think beyond the initial assignment, and the hurdles that may await them even after their big break in the four-color industry.

Adam Patyk and James McDonough (who for a period of time wrote under the name “Brad Mick”) were experiencing a fan's dream: After years of effort and networking, the creative duo were writing a top-selling book featuring characters they'd grown up admiring. Comic book writing became their careers, and the question no longer was when they'd get their shot, it was what will we work on next?

But the bubble burst. Transformers, the property Patyk and McDonough helped lift to the highest levels of sales and catapulted the team into the roles of full-time comic book creators, wasn't lucrative enough to keep floundering company Dreamwave afloat. And as rumors of financial peril swirled around the former Image studio and its star artist/publisher Pat Lee, Patyk and McDonough were left with a harsh reality: checks not arriving, e-mails bouncing back, silence from their employer and a growing fear that maybe things had taken a turn for the worse. As regular Newsarama readers know, things did go south.

Dreamwave filed for bankruptcy amid claims of unpaid freelancers, fiscal mismanagement and the usual he-said, she-said that has become all too common in the comic book industry when a company goes under. We caught up with Patyk and McDonough to get their take on the Dreamwave collapse, their initial work and discussions with the company and how they've had to deal with the loss of their jobs, creative outlet and -- possibly worst of all -- the damage it brought down on their reputations.

NEWSARAMA: How did you guys get involved with Dreamwave?

ADAM PATYK: We were both working at Wizard at the time, which is where we initially met. Both of us were trying to push coverage of Transformers-related material to add some variety to the magazines. When Dreamwave got the TF license, we ended up meeting them through magazine-related contacts and intros at conventions. As far as working on comic-related material, I had previously done some editorial work for Black Bull and also helped write numerous scripts for the various "strips" in the Wizard magazines during my time there.

JAMES MCDONOUGH: Dreamwave originally approached me about coming aboard when they began to make serious strides in their relationship with a company whose higher-ups had apparently expressed interest in forming a partnership with Dreamwave. Before that, my primary focus back in school was scripting for various media, including television and film.

NRAMA: Give me a rundown of the titles you worked on for DW. Which projects stand out as your best work? Why?

MCDONOUGH: We worked on Beast Wars -- which was never published, Custom Robo, Devil May Cry, Transformers G1 Volume 2 and Volume 3, More Than Meets The Eye for G1 and Armada, Transformers Summer Special, Micromasters, Transformers/G.I. Joe: Divided Front and a few others things. We also worked on developing a few projects editorially, like War Within: Age of Wrath and others, in addition to helping on some Dreamwave-owned properties, such as Capsoul. One of the things I was most excited about was the direction our Transformers G1 ongoing series was headed. It was really disappointing to us for the series to stop so abruptly.

PATYK: I'm also sorry that we couldn't finish Transformers/G.I. Joe: Divided Front. We really enjoyed working on that one, and we were blown away by the positive response to the intro issue from the readers, especially the G.I. Joe fans. It was a real bummer when some freelancers alerted us to the fact that Dreamwave actually tried to take portions of our scripts, like G1 #11 and TF/Joe #2, and continue our stories without our input or permission and without paying for those scripts or what had come before. It was ridiculous.

NRAMA: What were those early days with DW like?

PATYK: After he had moved on to Dreamwave, James contacted me about getting involved. Apparently, they were looking for more people who could provide a solid editorial structure, and he brought me up because of my previous work experience and business background. Once I got more heavily involved, I talked to Pat more frequently on the phone and via e-mail, or when getting together for meetings. At the time, he seemed very supportive of our efforts to get things on track editorially in terms of direction and maintaining quality, though it did feel like we were fighting an uphill battle trying to rein things in and get things running more professionally.

MCDONOUGH: At first I was hesitant to commit to Dreamwave, but they convinced me with what sounded like a fairly solid long-term plan to form a partnership with one of the companies they were working with. I actually dealt with Pat and his staff quite frequently when I first signed on, since I moved up to their offices in Canada for a while to help them iron things out. The situation wasn't at all what I expected, and I was actually kind of surprised by it. Despite the huge success of Transformers, it really felt more like a fledgling operation than an established publisher. Many people were definitely trying their hardest, but there also seemed to be a lot of people involved that weren't quite qualified for their positions.

There was a definite feeling of resistance and frustration as we were trying to implement a more rigid professional structure. There was a kind of struggle going on back and forth between the attempt to revamp the operation and the people who appeared to be worried that they wouldn't have a place in a more professional environment. It seemed kind of silly -- instead of just doing their jobs and eliminating the possibility of seeming unprofessional, some people would just make things needlessly difficult. I don't think either of us was or is claiming that we're 100 percent perfect or that we know it all, but we were trying very hard to implement a working structure that would help the company last.

Although the Dreamwave higher-ups were constantly commenting on the problems with the staff and the desire to "broom" the majority of them, it didn't seem like anything was done to improve the situation. In retrospect, I wonder if that was somewhat intentional.

NRAMA: You guys were writing a top-selling book for a pretty recognizable property, going to conventions, networking, etc. How did it all feel?

MCDONOUGH: It was very rewarding to get to write "funny books" for a living and be a part of that creative process, but there was never really a moment where I stopped and said, "Whoa!"

PATYK: Right. It's not like the comic game is really some glamorous industry where you can get blinded by the glitz. Either way, it was difficult to enjoy anything because we were constantly being pressured for more output. This wasn't just the scripting we were contracted for, but additional work that kept popping up for us -- helping them write business plans, helping represent Dreamwave at meetings with other companies, etc. It just never felt like there was a moment to breathe, which got really frustrating because we weren't getting paid for a lot of the writing, let alone all of the other functions we were being asked to perform.

NRAMA: You were an associate editor at ToyFare and James was a staff writer at Wizard. You both left at different times, but what factors played a part in deciding to work on writing full-time?

PATYK: In all honesty, many of the people involved with industry "gateways" like Wizard are there to get in the game. It seemed like a logical step to take that editorial and industry experience and apply it more directly to the creative side of things, which is ultimately where we both wanted to be, anyway.

MCDONOUGH: Agreed. Establishing yourself in any industry often requires you to network from the entry level on up. Many of these institutions serve as prime opportunities for aspiring professionals to "pay their dues" while learning more about the industry from the inside out.

NRAMA: What was the first sign that things weren't as they seemed?

PATYK: Hindsight is 20/20, and there were a lot of things that should have been pretty good indicators -- including the disparaging comments made by Dreamwave higher-ups about many previous associates that had left on bad terms. Obviously, in retrospect, you see a lot of things that seem like neon signs screaming, "Get out!" At the time, though, I accepted a lot of things based on their word and the feeling that we wanted to be "team players" and help out. Honestly, if there's any real regret that I have, it's the fact that we were naive enough to take people's word at face value and trust them to be honest with us.

Once we figured out that we were the only people who had our best interests in mind, it was practically too late. The first major thing that I can look back on as a sign happened in late 2003 and early 2004. I had just done a lot of editorial work for Dreamwave, and they kept dodging the issue of paying me for it. At the time, it seemed like it could be legitimate -- they said they were very busy, a lot was going on, etc. I was even sent messages about it, asking me to be patient and saying things like, "I know I owe you big time" and "I will move quickly on getting you the payment info."

Of course, that never happened and I never saw any money for that work. That's not even included in the amount that Dreamwave owes me because, unfortunately, I dropped the issue. I just decided to focus on the future work and payments -- my way of showing that I was willing to work with them in good faith and be a team player when they were having trouble. They did a good job of fostering this impression that we were all on the team for the long haul, and any questioning was made to feel like personally insulting disloyalty.

MCDONOUGH: Similarly, in the summer of 2003, I noticed that they started to get later and later with payments for scripts. Moving into 2004, problems started to get more obvious as other freelance writers started contacting us about their payment problems as well. We were pushing to get everyone paid, including ourselves. At one point, we were told that Dreamwave was having financial problems, and we offered to have our payments delayed temporarily so other freelancers could get paid.

Again, we did this in part because we honestly felt that we all had a future with the company and wanted to help out. We later found out through the bankruptcy that most of the other freelancers hadn't been paid either and were also owed substantial amounts of money. Our question is: Where was that money going if they didn't pay us and they didn't pay everyone else?

NRAMA: When did you and James seriously begin to worry, and how did you express those concerns to DW?

PATYK: Once the late payments and excuses started to become really chronic, we knew something was wrong. While this was going on, the books continued to sell in numbers that would have thrilled any other small publisher...yet the creative teams for their highest-selling books weren't getting paid for their work! It was at a point where my girlfriend and I had to renew our lease, and I asked directly for a clear answer about the payment situation from Dreamwave, simply to know whether we would continue being able to afford living in our place. I was told that everything would work out, just give them time, etc., etc. Long story short, my girlfriend and I ended up stuck with a lease and none of the money I was promised would be there to pay for it.

MCDONOUGH: The thing that gets really nerve-wracking is that, on several occasions, we stated that we were interested in leaving due to the lack of quality control and the payment issues. Each time, we were begged to stay and promised that things would improve. The bottom line is, if at any time there was any real problem with us or our work, they could have easily ended the situation professionally by telling us that things weren't working out, paying us what they owed, and calling it a day. Instead, they kept asking us for more product and more ancillary assistance on projects we weren't even contracted to do. The only real problems started when we requested our money and told them we couldn't keep producing work for them without getting paid for it.

NRAMA: What was the company's reaction? Did they give any assurances?

MCDONOUGH: Assurances were made regularly. It was a situation where we were constantly asked to stay aboard and promised that things would work out. They were talking about establishing a partnership with another company, and they had us working on a business plan for that. That was kind of the carrot they dangled in front of us, the promise that it would become a more professional enterprise if we just stuck it out a little while longer.

PATYK: Asking for our money became such a time-consuming ordeal that we had to ask other people to help do it for us, because it was so distracting. Please remember, this wasn't about $40, it wasn't about $400, it was even about $4,000...we were talking about a debt of almost $40,000 between the two of us. I don't think anyone can say that we jumped the gun or didn't give them ample opportunities to work things out. We were very patient, but enough was enough. At one point, they acknowledged the problem and provided us with payment plans to pay off their debt to us. When asked how they intended to make the back-payments and still keep up with the newly accruing debt for current projects, there was no real answer. They soon started being late on and missing the payments from their own payment plans, and ultimately stopped paying entirely. This made working extremely frustrating and difficult.

The worst part was when we got to the lawsuit stage and listed the amounts we were owed. At first, they tried to tell us through their lawyer that they owed us much less--even though we had payment plans sent to us directly from the company heads! It really got to be unbelievable.

NRAMA: As many know, you weren't the only freelancers affected by this. Did you hear any other horror stories from fellow DW writers or artists during the period leading up to the bankruptcy?

MCDONOUGH: There were a few instances of other creators asking for assistance in getting paid, which we tried to provide. After our final falling out with Dreamwave, we opted to make a brief public statement about the matter that we cleared through our lawyers, in part to clarify things, and in part to let the other freelancers know what was really going on. After that, some of them chose to contact us and share that they were in a similar situation, but didn't know what to do.

PATYK: After the matter became public, we actually heard from some former Dreamwave associates who told us some of the things that had gone down with them...stories that we wished we had known beforehand. That's part of our reasoning behind talking about this, to let others know what to watch out for and warning them to be careful in these scenarios.

NRAMA: Give me a timeline from the point you guys thought, "Ok, this is getting weird" up until the end. What was Dreamwave saying? Did communication slow down to the point of no response? Who did you deal with directly?

PATYK: There were so many things going on that it's almost impossible to pinpoint one event; it was more the combination of everything going on simultaneously. There were a lot of things. At one point, for example, we were being pressured to take a trip to help them represent the company to one of its licensors. When we declined in favor of working on our scripts because we wanted to keep things on track, the vibe definitely became weird and somewhat hostile. It was like the additional work was expected of us, even when it could potentially interfere with other things.

MCDONOUGH: We primarily dealt with Pat. We both had frequent phone conversations and e-mail discussions with him. Ironically, my last conversation with him actually involved his request for us to help them in preparing the pitch to re-up the Transformers license, which we ended up leaving in their hands.

NRAMA: What was the last straw that made you realize "We might have to take legal action here"? How is that progressing?

PATYK: We were getting no response to our constant requests for updates about the status of our payments, but demands for our work kept increasing. We even started to get messages from other companies' reps, asking what was going on with the company and if we were getting paid. Not long after, one of Dreamwave's higher-ups employed tactics that seemed to us like an attempt to discourage us from asking for our money. We thought that was unacceptable, especially considering how patient we had been in trying to work with them about things. When we brought our concerns to their attention, hoping for some clarification to ease the situation, we got conflicting responses and excuses that just made things seem even more dubious.

MCDONOUGH: Not only was it insulting that they would stoop to that level when we had tried everything to work things out professionally, but it also made things even more uncomfortable than they already were. Realistically, would anyone be willing to continue trying to work with people who weren't paying you while consistently making money off of your work? Until everything started coming out leading up to the bankruptcy, we had no clear reason to even suspect that their problems were so severe, because for all intents and purposes the majority of their titles were making money and they were telling us about all these new deals they were signing.

First, we had our legal counsel serve them with a demand letter, asking that we be paid the balance of what we were owed. We had made clear that we would be unable to meet their constant demands for new work when we still hadn't been paid for what had already been published and sold months ago. It was around this time that they terminated our contracts, sent out a "secret" e-mail asking industry forums not to let us speak out, and posted a press release implying that our being overworked was somehow responsible for the lateness of the books -- as opposed to the fact that they weren't paying us. Interestingly, they quietly changed the press release on their own website after our lawyers told them it was libelous, but seemed to make no attempt to publicly correct the original release which they had sent out across the Internet.

With all this and the fact that they stopped responding to our attempts to negotiate, we were forced to move forward with our lawsuit, which covered the money we were owed in past-due payments, the money owed for wrongful termination of our contracts and damages for their defamation. Obviously, the last thing we wanted to do was get involved in a legal situation with anybody, but their lack of response to other attempts to work things out left us with no choice. It was a very weird time. Threatening, anonymous posts directed at us started to appear on their message boards. It was creepy, but almost funny -- these posts were attacking fans as if they were us, and the fans were like, "Slow down, there!"

PATYK: To make a long story short, Dreamwave presented no defense against our claims. They defaulted on the lawsuit, meaning that the next step would have been for the court to assess damages against them on our behalf. Of course, as everyone knows by now, it was right after that that they declared bankruptcy, preventing us from getting any of our money.

So, even after that particular legal battle, it was conveniently arranged so that we didn't end up seeing a dime. After the bankruptcy, things continued to be very strange. Some of the creditors appointed to be inspectors in the bankruptcy proceedings turned out to still be employed with Dream Engine, for example. We've also heard that people apparently have plans to sell or reprint work that we were never paid for, but we have yet to be notified of any plans to first pay us or any of the other creators involved.

NRAMA: Have either of you spoken to Pat or anyone at DW since the bankruptcy announcement? What have they said?

MCDONOUGH: Pat dropped out of contact abruptly as the matter started to unfold, despite our numerous attempts to get in touch with him to try to resolve things before being forced to take the legal route. It's all really too bad, because so much of this probably could have been avoided if the people involved had just tried to be more forthright about things instead of ignoring issues or trying to keep things a secret. After that, we were also contacted by several Dreamwave staffers and freelancers who kept us abreast of the situation as it unfolded.

PATYK: Recently, we were also asked by a group of former employees and freelancers about potentially forming a group claim to pursue the company's higher-ups for possible "breach of fiduciary obligations." Also, after the incidents on the Dreamwave website, some people apparently figured out that we weren't posting on the Internet boards, so that became an avenue for those claiming to be associated with the situation to make baseless personal attacks on us without fear of retribution. Friends would let us know about this stuff, and some of it was just crazy. Even though we had a pretty clear idea who some of the people doing this were, they would hide behind fake names and whatnot to keep from getting publicly taken to task for their false statements.

NRAMA: If you could talk to Pat directly right now, what would you ask of him?

PATYK: We'd ask, "Can we get our money?"

MCDONOUGH: And we'd ask for an apology, as well as an explanation, regarding the whole situation. It was awful to have to go through this whole ordeal when all we ever wanted or asked for was to be paid for the work we had provided.

NRAMA: How has this, and the negative press inherent in a sticky situation like this, affected your careers? Do you find it harder to get work in the industry?

MCDONOUGH: Standing up for ourselves in this situation definitely seems to have made things a little tougher. Even when you're in the right about a situation like this, people become wary because of the bad press involved. The best thing I can say is that if anyone in the industry has any doubts or questions, please feel free to ask us directly. Similarly, if someone wants to make any statements about us, feel free to let us know and put your name to them. Then we can compare the facts.

PATYK: We certainly never wanted to give people the impression we were troublemakers, and -- maybe naively -- we hoped that we wouldn't somehow be blamed for responding to the fact that Dreamwave wasn't paying us. We tried every option to work things out. Once things were underway, we opted to be honest and just put out a few brief, factual statements that we had cleared through our lawyers at the time. Yet some people still tried to spin it like we were airing dirty laundry, when we were only trying to tell our side of the story in the face of a company that had already put out misleading press releases and under-the-radar e-mails about us. It's never been our intention to spit any dirt, which should be obvious because there's much more that could have been said if that had been our goal. At the end of the day, they didn't pay us for the work we did for them. I don't think anyone can fault us for trying to fight for our rights in that situation. We simply want the money we're owed for our work.

NRAMA: Is there anything you'd like to say to fans of the books that are wondering about what you guys are up to?

PATYK: Currently, we've been doing some toy- and animation-related development work. Overall, things have been very difficult because of the loss of the money we were owed in addition to the money we had to put into fighting the legal battle, but one of the few bright spots throughout it all was the support we got from many of the fans. We both put a lot of time and effort into what we were doing; if nothing else, we're glad that a lot of people enjoyed it.

MCDONOUGH: We're very thankful for their support through all of this. If it wasn't for the fans informing us about some of the things that were going on, we probably would have been in an even worse situation. It's still shocking to believe the tactics that were being employed.

NRAMA: Coming out of this experience, what are you left with? What lessons have you learned and what are you guys doing to move forward?

MCDONOUGH: Well, we've been left with a lot of debt...

PATYK: And now we're certainly more cautious about future endeavors and cognizant of the potential pitfalls.

Newsarama Note: Check back shortly for an interview with Dreamwave's Pat Lee

I, I just don't know what to say. A man I had alot of respect and admiration for as a teenager turned out to be an absolute crook. I'm ashamed that I was ever a fan of his, and if I had known this beforehand, I would have never bought Iron Man: House of M. It may sound stupid, but this is a serious downer for me.


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Millarwold an Exclusive Club?

Is millarworld an exclusive club or what? I can't get any love from the administrators over there - I've tried to join the forum about 6 times over the past 2 months under about 3 different names and 4 different email addresses from both "free" (gmail/yahoo) and paid-for (work/cable) email services. I can't get them to activate my account and/or respond to me (it's one of those "the forum administartors like to review every application before granting access" deals). Millarworld is a great comics community and i'd love to participate but i'm starting to feel like that guy who can't get membership to the local hoity-toity country club. weak!


26 July, 2005 14:26, Blogger Mark Fossen said...

I feel ya, Zilla. Same here ... it took a few months of attempts before i was able to really register.

It's worth it once you do, though. :)

27 July, 2005 10:01, Blogger Ryan X said...

You guys are referring to being able to post over there right? You were able to set up an account but they haven't granted posting rights? I just checked it out and registered, but like you, I haven't been granted posting access yet.


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The Always Amusing "Dial B for Blog"

I can't help but pimp Robby's blog one more time. If you aren't a regular visitor you need to be, this is one of my most entertaining stops in cyberspace each day. Check it.

PS Just in case you didn't know (and this has NOTHING to do w/ me being a Dial B for Blog whore i swear... seriously - i swear), Robby designed our very professional looking "Zilla and the Comics Junkies" header image. Thanks again Mr. Reed.


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Newsarama "Sit Down" w/ Eric Powell

Man i love me some EP. This guy is brilliant (honestly) and The Goon is proof. Newsarama has a decent interview w/ him up today w/ a few tidbits about his 2 eisners, the new Goon HC, the new Devil's Dinosaur one-shot, and how EP almost drew a Hulk mini (blast "almost"!!)

The hardcover is cool because it has essential stories that I was actually able to re-cut into chronological order. You start from the Goon's childhood and go from there… and when I say essential stories I mean stories that are leading into pretty big events in future issues of the book. It also has a never before published four page Buzzard story.

Can't wait for this HC and the extras. Got this on pre-order already.

the entire concept and storyline was created in a single, very long, phone conversation. The series is basically about Billy the Kid leading a group of sideshow freaks on a treasure hunt to rob Dr. Frankenstein. But it also has some nice themes woven into the silliness of the premise.

I've been waiting on the trade for Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities, anyone know when that hits? I've heard a lot of good things about it and pretty much regret not picking up the floppies.

[Marvel] originally wanted to know if I'd be interested in a Hulk miniseries.

A Hulk mini written and/or drawn by EP? How did we miss out on this? If he ever comes back to it Zilla will party.

I will use other artists on back up stories occasionally, but if it's a Goon book, I'll be drawing the majority of it. I don't think I'll ever want to turn it over to someone else to do. It is too personal.

Good to know we can expect some long-term continuity with at least ONE title out there :)

I always wanted to get the Goon and his world firmly established before I really started tampering with it. I think I have done that, so the gloves are coming off. Big events are just on the horizon. The next five issues or so should be really interesting. Oh, and I just started drawing the Chinatown graphic novel. It took me a long time to get the story just where I wanted it but now the hard part is over… so all of you patient fans who have been clamoring to know what happened in Chinatown, give me a little more patience. I'll try to get it to you as fast as I can.

Cheers. And EP - Keep writing/drawing and i'll keep buying.


26 July, 2005 11:42, Anonymous Flem said...

Thanks for that Zilla.

26 July, 2005 11:47, Blogger zilla said...

glad you're back flem. hadn't heard from you in a few days and thought you might have been drug off into the outback by a pack of dingos or some wild aboriginies.

26 July, 2005 11:58, Anonymous Flemmy said...

You're not too far off from the truth actually. ;) Now the break's over, I'm back at TAFE(college) again so my net time's a little limited.

Blog's looking great, mate.


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Panel 'o the Day

Where's it from?


26 July, 2005 09:47, Blogger Ed Cunard said...


26 July, 2005 10:41, Blogger zilla said...

man - i'm loving Preacher at the moment... i think i'll post a panel like this every day (having fun w/ my new scanner). i'll try and make them harder ;)

26 July, 2005 12:05, Anonymous Flem said...

Good idea. I've only ever read the first Preacher trade so that panel's pretty familiar to me.

26 July, 2005 20:52, Anonymous Hammer said...

Late to the party, but it's Preacher...No doubt.


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Hero Squared #1

I'm enjoying the new Defenders mini and it's kind of turned me onto the creative team of Kieth Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. The writing is hilarious (at times) and the art refreshing and easy on the old oculars. I was checking out Newsarama this morning and stumbled across some preview screens of their new ongoing Hero Squared.

On this world, Milo's a slacker. The next parallel world over, Milo is CAPTAIN VALOR. When Valor's world is destroyed by the super villain Calliginous, he finds himself transported to Milo's world -- and needing Milo's help to survive.

There's a link inside this article to an interview w/ Giffen and DeMatteis with a ton more info (and mention of a one-shot already put out that i need to track down). Check it.


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Monday, July 25, 2005

Super F*ckers #1 (James Kochalka)

First of all, if you mind a lot of cussing in your comics - then there's absolutely no need to read any more that i (or anyone else) has to say about this title because you'll hate it. Super F*ckers is filled to the brim w/ foul language (would you expect any less given the title?); the superheros use it, the villians use it, hell just about everyone in the book cusses like a sailor. But you know what? Don't let that deter you if you can handle it, because this comic is entertaining and really (and quite genuinely) laugh-out-loud funny.

The art is done (purposefully) in a kind of 3rd grader with magic markers style including hand drawn and lettered pop-ups. You'll get the feeling (at least i did) that you're reading a cartoon comic writer/artist James Kochalka draws on scraps of loose paper or napkins during spells of boredom (kind of like the comics i draw during meetings at work). When i first thumbed through Super F*ckers i was thinking to myself - this can' t be a REAL, published comic can it (obviously i bought it anyways since i seem to love the quirky stuff)? But after reading through this first issue, i have a lot more respect for the humor of Mr. Kochalka and i can now understand (especially after meeting the cast and digesting the plot) why he decided to go this route creatively, and to be honest it ADDS to the experience rather than takes away from it IMO.

So what of the story? Essentially what we have is a title about an extremely dysfunctional teenage superhero team (even though it's more like a club all things considered). This first issue does a good job of introducing us to the core group (surrounded by a plot where the team holds a try-out to recruit a new member). The comedic cast of misfits include a guy who keeps a living snapshot of his past (before he got his powers) in a sealed jar, a girl who needs to comb her hair 1000 times to activate her powers, another who has some sort of unexeplained bond w/ a rancous blob named Grotus (who's slime can be rolled in papers and smoked to get high), an oblivious do-gooder, a kid with two machine (read: android/robotic) fists, and even a complete a-hole guy you will love to hate (doesn't every superteam need one of these?). I'd go into more detail but i think that Speakeasy does a great job summing it up on their website w/ the following para:

No, it's NOT a sex book! The Super F*ckers are the baddest teenage superhero team around, and everybody wants to join. They live in a big club-house, play video games on their state-of-the-art supercomputer, smoke their teammate Grotus' slime drippings, and fight amongst themselves like cats and dogs. Would-be heroes are lining up outside the door for a chance to try-out for a spot on the elite team. But why must they incessantly keep ringing the doorbell? The try-outs aren't until tomorrow. Somebody's got to stop them. This book is outrageously funny, vibrantly colored, and out of control. Just like America.

All-in-all i must admit i was well entertained by Super F*ckers and couldn't help but laugh out loud at more than a few parts. There's a kind of pop-culture, street cred feel to it that reminds me (very loosely) of independent works like Street Angel and Battle Pope (as if those two have ANYTHING in common i know, i know) and heaven knows we definitely all need a helping or two of Independents in our stack to go w/ our big-house, mainstream mags. If Kochalka can take this title where it needs to go w/o overdoing it (to me this will make or break it), we may be in for some off-the-wall, interesting, funny issues to come. If you dig on the quirky stuff far off the beaten mainstream path and can handle a few crude jokes and a ton of bad language with simple, crappy cartoon strip style art, give this #1 a try (even though it's hard to recommend at 32 pages for 7 bones!). B.

It was over when...


26 July, 2005 12:07, Anonymous Flemmy said...

Hehe... very nice review.

Just reading it makes me want to join the Super F*ckers.


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Small Gods #1

Sean Maher (of Quality Control) wrote a pretty good review of Small Gods #1 (and i agree w/ most of what is written there) so i won't go into too much detail here but wanted to add a few of my thoughts.

Small Gods definitely has potential - the story is interesting (reminds me a lot of a present-day Minority Report w/ the precognitive homicide PD element) and the art is phenomenal. Ferreyra turns in some great work w/ the pencils - this is some of the best B&W i've seen in a long while. The characters and backgrounds are detailed and realistic - and the shading/use of grey tones is superb. Personally (and disagreeing w/ what Sean wrote in his review) i found Rand's dialogue to be a bit wooden at times, but the story definitely flows well, and moves along at a solid (and often captivating) pace. As w/ most #1's, we spent the majority of this issue laying groundwork so the real proof as to whether this title is "good" or not will come in the next issue or two. If you want a crime drama w/ a Minority Report style precognitive twist, and could dig on some solid B&W art, then Small Gods may be right up your alley.

PS One last thing i'd like to point out - there's a "roll call" at the beginning of this issue that lays out the characters in brief - i wish more comics would do this... it's really helpful at times ;)

PPS I got me a phat (use of that word increases street cred i'm told) new scanner so i'm going to start a new deal-e-o (as long as we're dropping words for street cred) here at Zilla's by highlighting THE climactic panel of each issue i review ("It was over when..."):

It was over when...


25 July, 2005 10:15, Blogger Ryan X said...

After your review and Sean's review, I am definitely picking this trade up. Looks like it is right up my alley. The art really looks spectacular. Thanks for the review Zilla!

25 July, 2005 10:17, Blogger zilla said...

actually RC it's only in floppy so far - the trade is probably a long ways off. if you get a chance grab #1 at your LCS, personally i think you'll dig on it.

25 July, 2005 10:18, Blogger zilla said...

and PS - that panel i pulled doesn't really tell the story of the art - once you read the issue you'll get what i'm saying - there is some class A pencils in there.

25 July, 2005 10:33, Blogger Greg said...

The first story arc (The Killing Grin) is in trade, and the second will be out soon, I think. This issue was a crossover with the main characters of the first two arcs. I don't know where they'll put it in a trade.

25 July, 2005 10:37, Blogger zilla said...

greg i had no idea this wasn't the first issue in a brand new title... so small gods #1 is a spin-off of something else? or is "killing grin" just the name of a previous trade? thanks...

25 July, 2005 13:25, Blogger The Comics Shrew said...

I really, really liked this book right from the get-go. It's still a little rough in spots and reads a little better in trade than as single issues, but it's quite a nifty concept. I like how much thought was put into the purely practical ramifications of psionic powers -- the law, etc.

25 July, 2005 13:39, Blogger zilla said...

and to think this whole time i thought it just started w/ this issue ;) i'm going to have to dig up the trade for sure (same writer/artist?)

25 July, 2005 14:10, Blogger The Comics Shrew said...

Killing Grin: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1582404577/

Dead Man's Hand just finished up, but if it wasn't already solicited as a trade, it should be. It's in the same city and the same world, but no real overlap with Killing Grin.

Additionally, the SG Special, which ties the two arcs together, just came out.

25 July, 2005 16:22, Blogger Sean Maher said...

Hey, Zilla, thanks for the shout-out, glad you liked the review.

As someone mentioned above, the issue you read was a "Special", a new jumping-on point for readers. The series proper has nine issues out so far, including the first, four-issue arc which has been released in trade with the subtitle, "Killing Grin".

I agree with you that the dialogue in the special was a tad on the wooden side (I think Rand was trying to soften the introductions to the characters, for the benefit of new readers), but I think you'll be really pleased with what you read in "Killing Grin".

The second arc has not been solicited for a trade and there's no guarantee that one is coming - Image books are all essentially self-published, with everyone putting up their own production costs, so the courageous reader will treat this book as if it was a "real" indie. Comics activism, baby!

25 July, 2005 18:22, Anonymous Flemmy said...

Small Gods is a definite must!!! I'm missing out on just two issues but I think Jason'll be sending them over just after he sends a few Spideresque threats to my LCS for screwing me around.

Just keep in mind that each arc is basically self contained so for those wanting to jump on, go right ahead. The next issue/new story arc should be out next month.

I hope to be meeting with Jason Rand in October. Glad to see another Aussie actually get somewhere in this industry. :) He's well on his way.

For those that are curious, just pick up Killing Grin. It's a great start to the series.

Great review Zilla.

25 July, 2005 20:02, Blogger zilla said...

damn - i'm pumped to find out there's more of this stuff already available... i'm going to grab up killing grin this week. thanks all.


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CBR Interview w/ Fabian Nicieza (Cable & Deadpool)

Cable and Deadpool is one of my favorite ongoing floppies at the moment (it's truly insane), and there's an interview over at CBR w/ writer Fabian Nicieza. He comes off as a bit of an ass but i'll let that go since i'm enjoying this guys work so much :)


25 July, 2005 19:11, Blogger Brian Cronin said...

As an aside, almost half the questions were answered by Fabian via e-mail after the chat froze up 25 minutes into it, which I thought was a cool move by Nicieza.


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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Batman Begins

Bruce Wayne, as a child, had his parent's murdered by a thug named Joe Chill in front of his very eyes. Some years later, Joe Chill is offered an early release in exchange for testifying against Carmine Falcone, leader of Gotham's underworld. After paying a visit to Falcone, and seeing what kind of man (basically) owns Gotham, he disappears, and is presumed dead. During this time, he travels to find himself, and a way to combat the evil that has broughten peril to a city that his parents once did everything they could to save. He eventually meets Henri Ducard, who teaches him the arts of fighting, stealth, and fear. Bruce returns to Gotham with intentions on saving Gotham, but realizes he can't do that as a mere man. He must become a symbol of terror to strike fear in the hearts of criminals, he must become The Batman.

I must start this review by saying that this is not only one of the best films I've seen this year, it's also (in my opinion) one of the greatest films I've ever had the pleasure of viewing.

The Bad:
Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes, Dawson's Creek) serves very little purpose in this film other than moral support and a love interest for Bruce. Her character isn't overly interesting, and Ms. Holmes doesn't play the part of a D.A. very well (she comes off as a sweet small town girl, which I'm convinced is the only part she can ever play properly), and the love subplot doesn't add very much to the story of the film overall. The important contributions to the film her character makes, could've easily been replaced by Harvey Dent, but I suppose Warner Bros. figured because this is a Batman film, and every previous one had a love interest for Bruce, this one should, too. I also wish we could've saw more of Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe, The Last Samurai) than we did, because I have a high appreciation for the actor who portrays him.

The Good:
This is the first Batman film to have a screenwriter, director, and star who love the comic books, and let me tell you, it shows. The mood of Gotham City is perfect, it's dark, without being gothic (unlike Tim Burton's films). This film does it's best to bring The Batman out of his campy superhero stereotype and into the real world, and it succeeds incredibly. From the realistic and believable explanations of where Bruce's Batgear came from, to how he aquires it, and how he uses it. The film also does a fantastic job of showing us just why The Batman is something to be feared, and just how he is able to defeat criminals the way he does. These are all things previous Batflick's have lacked, yet it doesn't become appearent until you watch this film. After you see Batman Begins, you'll wonder just why none of this was ever addressed before, and why you were ever satisfied with the previous films. The acting, in my opinion, is Oscar-calibur. Christian Bale was born for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, even in sitting in a movie theatre you can't help but feel a little intimidated by him at certain points. Michael Caine as Alfred, is in my opinion, the gem of the film. You can feel the love he has for the Wayne family, and the pain that he himself hides over their loss. Alfred is much much more than a Butler in this film, he loves Bruce like a son, and you can feel it. Morgan Freeman is great as Lucius Fox, a man in charge of the division of Wayne Enterprises where Bruce gets the Batgear from. You feel bad for him that he has gotten the short end of the stick by the company, but he takes it all in stride, and is a quite likable character. My favourite line of his in the film goes something like this "Mr. Wayne, if you don't tell me what you're doing with these, then I won't have to lie if someone asks. But don't think of me as stupid." Gary Oldman's portrayal of Gordon is easily the best yet, and the (eventual) friendship between him and Batman is finally showed on screen, and it's about time. He plays the "last good cop" very convincingly, and his character is just another reason why you'll look back at the older films and ask yourself "Why didn't someone do this before?". In general, just about every character in the film will have you caring about them by the end of the film. The action in the film is top-notch, with exciting fights, and an awesome Batmobile chase through the streets of Gotham (in fact, this was probably the mst exciting part of the movie).

This is a movie you will never get sick of seeing, and it completely puts the rest of the franchise to shame. If Warner Bros. can keep (most) of the same cast for several more films, then they will have a winning franchise on their hands. I honestly hope there are more many Batman films like this in the future. I refer to the Batman films as "Batflicks", yet I will never do so with this film, because it deserves so much more than that. I cannot recomend this film enough, and it is one of the only films to get a perfect score from me.

**** out of ****


24 July, 2005 22:26, Blogger zilla said...

great review as usual Uncensored. i can't wait to see this.

25 July, 2005 10:21, Blogger Ryan X said...

Awesome review Uncensored! Like everyone else reading this, I can't wait to see this movie. Thanks!


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Marvel Solicits for October

I just finished the Image solicits for Oct and realized i don't have the nuts to go through the Marvel list w/ as much detail (this month at least) - so i'm just going to list a few biggies:

FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #1 - Now that i've dropped MKSM and USM, i'm hoping this will fill the Sidey void i've got going right now... I'll probably be forced into buying all the "Others" crossover books even though i've only list FNSM.
NICK FURY'S HOWLING COMMANDOS #1 - On the fence about this but looks like it might be cool... 60/40 towards no at the moment.
MARVEL MONSTERS - I'll probably grab all 4 of these, but moste definitely DEVIL DINOSAUR (written and penciled by Eric Powell).
POWERS VOL1 HC - I'm a sucker for Powers and will probably add this bad boy to my collection...

Info courtesy of CBR (thanks).


26 July, 2005 08:50, Anonymous Flemmy said...

Hrmmmm..what's the deal with Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-man? I'm reading Amazing at the moment but I wouldn't mind another Spidey fix. I'll check it out if it's worth it.

26 July, 2005 08:55, Anonymous Flem said...

Just read the CBR article. I might pick it up.


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Speakeasy's "Mutation"

I keep hearing about the new Mutation title from Speakeasy Comics (#1 drops 8.31.05). The art reminds me of Oeming's work on Powers (which i love) so I admit i'm intrigued. I don't think i've read anything from Speakeasy, or by writer George Singley, but hey, i'm ALWAYS open to new comics. I wish i could give you a detailed run down of the title, but I can't find a whole lot on what it's actually about; except that it's based on the life of a guy named Trent Tyson (a.k.a. Mutation) and his struggles as protector of "Silver City". There's a tiny bit of info and a preview of #1 over at Speakeasy's website (and tell me you don't think it's Oeming on pencils at first glance).


26 July, 2005 08:14, Anonymous Flemmy said...

Looks good. I might even give it a go.

If you're up for a Speakeasy title, think about giving "The Hunger" a try. It's a different take on the Zombie genre. Issue #3 comes out in August and the previous two shouldn't be too hard to track down. It's pretty decent.

26 July, 2005 08:24, Blogger zilla said...

i'll have to look that up... you've yet to steer me wrong flem.


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In no particular order:

Criminal, The Goon, Daredevil, Exterminators, Punisher, Hellboy/B.P.R.D (All), Powers, Godland, Usagi Yojimbo, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Conan, Ex Machina, DMZ, Desolation Jones, Fell, 100 Bullets, All-Star Superman, Ultimates 2, Loveless, and Fear Agent.

I'm recently back reading after a 15 year comics hiatus.

Zilla is not my real name.

I'm from Tejas living in VA. I'm married w/ 2 dogs. I'm an IT security consultant cranking the wheel for a big consulting firm in "real" life.

I watch the History Channel, Nat'l Geo, TLC, Mil Channel, ESPN and NFL Network, CourtTV (forensic files, etc.) and the Cartoon Network (love Genndy T's Samurai Jack and Clone Wars Adventures). My taste in movies: Gladiator, Last Samurai, Braveheart, Godfather, Tarantino (whatever), Kung-Fu (whatever), Westerns, Top Gun, Big Lebowski.

I love the outdoors and bs'ing around w/ my dogs.

In addition to being a comics junkie, i'm also a sports junkie especially when it comes to the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys.

Blog contents copyright © 2005 Rod Wetsel