Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I didn't see anything I liked, so I didn't buy anything...

A curious collection of stories by a number of talented folk.

Today was "skip week" in the comic book industry. Don't ask for an explanation because its one of those inside horrors those of us who read comic books suppress conscious awareness of until the event rears it's ugly head once every blue moon or so and we are forced to deal with the horrible reality of it. Simply put, it is a Wednesday where no trucks arrive at the local comic book store laden with their shipment of the "paper crack" we addicts of the four color print books live for from week to week. (I'm having difficulty writing a post this evening as the cold sweats of withdrawal ooze forth from the pores of my tormented and clammy flesh.)

I didn't know what else to do today so like one of the mindless zombies who shambled about the mall in that Romero movie I still made my way to the comic book store of my choice, Mavericks, in Dayton, Ohio and whimpered my way through the aisles looking for something, anything that might keep me going until the chronic arrives again next week. I found myself standing in front of the TPBs', (Trade Paperbacks) a place I would normally assiduously avoid, actually perusing the damnable things for potential purchase consideration. I can't begin to express how dirty I felt as the depth of the depravity of my addiction dawned upon me in that moment.

Let me illuminate...

I don't like trade paperbacks because they are a graphic disregard for anything even resembling respect, let alone even passing consideration for the "Green Movement". Many of the trade paperback books being produced are collections of comic book titles that were dreadful to begin with and are better off left to die and then fade away into a well deserved obscurity. Not every comic book story arc deserves to be collected and turned into a trade paperback release. Some comic book story arcs should be collected, recycled and turned back into usable paper upon which more deserving story lines could be printed and distributed to the general public. I think the comic book industry would do well to take a page as it were from the video game industry when it comes to producing trade paperback books.

Video game companies produce a limited number of any particular new game and wait to see how well it is received in the marketplace before producing more units. If a game proves to be a flop they're not losing large sums of money. If a game proves popular enough, by reaching a certain number of units moved, they release the game as a greatest hits release. Yeah, it minimizes the initial investment risk and maximizes back side profit by correctly meeting actual market demand as it actually materializes.

Most comic book companies are producing tons of titles in the hopes that if you throw enough stuff against the proverbial marketplace wall something will eventually stick and they'll make some money. The trouble is that with the economy being what it is right now they're spending more money than they can reasonably hope to recoup on the process of throwing a ton of crap at a wall that only a pound or two will stick to.

Trade paperbacks may produce a certain amount of sales, but are they selling at a rate capable of covering the cost of both producing and storing them in warehouses in the event one creates the big market demand? How many of those units produced are now winding up on after market shelves (like those at Mile High Comics) where it is hoped they will sell at a reduced price rather than continuing to eat up valuable warehouse space? According to the newsletter I received from Mile High Comics, Dark Horse just unloaded a ton of trade paperbacks upon them. And trust me, Mile High is working awfully hard to convince me just how much I need to think about starting my collection today.

So, I'm standing in front of the trade paperback selection when my eyes fall upon, "Weird Tales" Volumes one and two. Now, I have the original issues and consider them gems in my humble collection of books I wouldn't part with to save my soul. It is a rare occasion indeed that I pull them from the boxes they are stored in and only then to prove to a sceptic that I do indeed have them all in my possession. (I never take them out of the bagged and boarded preservation units that protect them from wear and tear. Would you?)

This is a series worthy of being collected and released as a trade paperback. As are all of the early works of Hellboy produced by Mike Mignola. They are historical and significant. They are artistic wonders and deserve preservation. As trade paperbacks they are books I can put into the hands of those less trained in the art of proper comic book handling and say, "Read this and behold the greater glory of comicdom." My originals are safe from harm and I can read and enjoy the stories without fear of ruining a classic comic that one day may bring my great grandchildren tens or twenties of dollars.

So many times when I attempt to share my love of the comic book art form with my younger friends I am rebuffed with, "Dude, how many trees do they cut down each week to feed your habit?" I may never be able to fully overcome this objection, but the argument's impact could certainly be minimized if the industry reduced the volume of books produced each month and focused on producing a higher quality of book. I dare say that a company launching a marketing campaign around the concept of producing fewer titles in order to go green would find a new and younger audience, to whom these things do matter, receptive and willing to invest their hard earned dollar in their product.

The times are tough. Everyone is fighting for survival right now. As Thoreau would say, "Simplify, simplify simplify. Instead of a hundred, make of your affairs fifty. Instead of fifty, make of them ten." Crossovers? Trade paperbacks? Multiple character titles? Gentlemen, the times should be forcing you to rethink and re approach your tactics. The real key to survival right now is simplification, not the old market saturation tactic made so popular by Coca Cola. I go to the comic book store each and every week. Tons of books not worth the paper they're printed upon vie for first my attention and then in turn for my dollar. Quality always wins out over volume...

And yes, I also have Hellboy Junior, both in original release and trade paperback...

Oh, can anyone name the song the title of this post is from?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A rededication...

Perhaps my single favorite comic book issue of 2009

After finding myself spending far too much time on FaceBook playing Mafia Wars I've decided to return to the blogosphere and to an activity I've been missing an awful lot lately, blogging. In particular I've really missed blogging about comics and the industry that produces them on a weekly basis. My New Year's Resolution for 2010 is to return to posting, at the least, one article per week about one of my favorite pastimes, comic books.

With that said, here is my year end, Top Ten List of the books I enjoyed the most in 2009.

10. R.E.B.E.L.S. (D.C.) With the exception of the two "Darkest Night" crossover books this has been one of my favorite titles of 2009. Tony Bedard handles the writing part of the book with a true aficionado's appreciation of the original L.E.G.I.O.N. title while at the same time creating a new and interesting storyline. Unlike Hannibal Tabu over at CBR (Who in my humble opinion wouldn't know a good comic book if it came up and sat on his hip hop face.) I think Tony handles the character Vril Dox with perfect understanding. While Vril Dox and his motivations for doing whatever it is he decides to do at any given time are central to the book, it is the antics of the front line characters who are manipulated by him that provide the center stage action of the series. Vril Dox is a behind the scenes puppet master. Tony understands this and handles Vril Dox with subtly and finesse. The best annual of the year too...

9. Greek Street (Vertigo) Again, a book that Hannibal Tabu dismisses as incomprehensible is to me a sophisticated and well plotted read. (It simply proves to me that being hip doesn't make one literate.) Peter Milligan's writing is elegant and gritty at the same time. He's produced a book that I can can only describe as a beautiful portrayal of the grand ugly. I'll miss the artistic stylings of Davide Gianfelice when he moves on, but for the time being these two have teamed up in a great book. This is a book I put my big boy panties on to read...

8. The Unwritten (Vertigo) If you enjoy something more in your comic book diet than capes, cowls, rings or super powers this is a book you'll look forward to reading every month. Mike Carey has created a marvelous world with a slowly unfolding story line that keeps me coming back for more with each new issue. I thought issue five, "How The Whale Became" was as good a story as I read in 2009. Again, this is a grownup book that requires the reader to engage their mind as actively as they engage their eyes. If you enjoy reading, you'll like this book.

7. Incarnate (Radical) Nick Simmons (Son of Kiss front man, Gene Simmons.) makes his comic book debut with this book. I have to admit that I was surprised and in no small way impressed with his abilities in handling both the writing and pencils of this book. Nick has talent and I hope he continues to contribute to the Radical line of comics in 2010. This three issue mini-series really entertained me and I'd like to see more of the characters he spawned in this series.

6. Citizen Rex (Dark Horse) I'm normally not the biggest fan of black and white titles. I just don't think many of today's artists understand how to make the genre work and the books just don't do it for me. The Hernandez brothers are masters of the genre and Citizen Rex was as good a read as there was to be found in 2009. The six issue mini-series was entertaining, well paced and a damn fine piece of science fiction extrapolation. This book is the ideal of what I think comics can be at their best. The story was well written and I enjoyed book six as much as I enjoyed book one. (I'm so sick and tired of mini-series titles that work for five of the six issues and then collapse into unresolved piles of spaghetti in the final book of the series. ) This story was seamless and complete. Period... The covers were sweet, the inside panels too. In a nutshell, the best damn black and white book I've read in a very long time.

5. Solomon Kane (Dark Horse) Spooky and dark. I simply couldn't believe what a great storyline Scott Allie managed to pull out of the scraps left to us by Robert Howard. This is another book that left me wanting more when I finished the mini-series and I'm very happy to report that a new Solomon Kane book is coming in 2010. And it will be illustrated by Guy Davis! I love Guy's work and can't wait to read the next installment of this title.

4. Incognito (Icon) Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker produced one of the best six issue mini-series titles of the year. I didn't want this series to end and as far as I'm concerned they could start a company of their own with the characters in this story and I'd buy every book in the line. Seriously, this was story telling at its most engaging and entertaining level. I want more...

3. The Dream Hunters (Vertigo) Neil Gaiman and P Craig Russell produced the most beautiful book of 2009. Visually one of the most engaging books I read this year and at the same time one of the most intelligent and sophisticated comic books I've ever read. Short run titles have become my favorite books these days. I like stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end. I'm tired of the infinite cliff hangers that were the staple of the industry for so many years. Give me a story that runs a good course and isn't afraid of ending. I'm tired of characters that never die. Books like this prove that a character can die and a story end without bringing down the company. I wish there were more books like this on store shelves today.

2. B.P.R.D. (Dark Horse) Both the story arcs, "1947" and the conclusion to "War of Frogs" were great pieces of story telling. I'll never forget turning the page in issue four of 1947 and seeing poor Simon covered in bites and drifting away on the sea of oblivion while the succubi fed upon him. Mike Mignola is a god, plain and simple... Just as I will never forget issue four of 1947, I will probably be haunted forever by the final panels in book four of, "War on Frogs". I don't want to ever pass into the great beyond and find something like that waiting to carry me home. Gross and ugh! I still shudder when I think about it...

1. Hellboy (Dark Horse) The Wild Hunt was Hellboy at his best and I can't wait to see what Mignola has in store for 2010. Hellboy has begun to fulfill his destiny, but will it be the one everyone else has in mind for him or will he finally free himself from a predestined path and begin a journey solely of his own design? Mike Mignola represents what I believe to be the best of Dark Horse and the majority of the books they produce. Mike Mignola does whatever Mike Mignola wants to do and if the fan likes it, so be it. If the fan doesn't like it, so what, Mike remained true to his vision and his work carries a real integrity for doing so. And Mike knows how to relegate responsibility to quality people to work with his creations and trust in their ability to deliver quality goods. Scott Allie, Guy Davis... Need I say more?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Comics on a budget...

A bargain at double the price!

As I stated in my last entry, I have a twenty dollar a week budget for comic books. What did I buy this week? Let's take a look and find out.

First off, I passed on the Incognito double issue containing reprints of issues one and two. I mean for God's sake, this series is only three books into its run and already we have a second print variant cover of issue number one and now a reprint "special" of issues one and two. C'mon! Talk about milking the cash cow...

I took a look at D.C.'s new Vertigo title, The Unwritten. I liked what I saw and with a price tag of only one dollar I decided to give it a try. Once I got home and read the book I was glad I'd decided to take a chance and picked it up. I'd be willing to read this book for a few more issues and see if it becomes file worthy. Not bad, not bad at all...

I also picked up issue four of R.E.B.E.L.S. and with every passing book this title just gets better and better. This is good science fiction and a fine comic book. Seriously, if you're not reading this book you need to find the first three issues and give it a read.

I also picked up B.P.R.D. and as always enjoyed a good read. I am really looking forward to the third arc of this story line. I'm also so pumped for 1947 and Witchfinder.

Nothing else caught my eye, so I didn't buy anything else...

I spent eight dollars of my twenty dollar budget and tucked twelve dollars into the petty cash fund. H-m-m-m... Could there be an action figure in the near future?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

This is how I do it...

I'm ready for the Rapture.

Every Wednesday I walk into my local comic book store with twenty dollars in my pocket. (Hey times are tough and money is tight.) I look for the titles I think are going to give me the most bang for my buck and I refuse to go over my twenty dollar budget. No, I don't always get every book I want, but I do manage to acquire a good number of pretty decent books. Whatever I have left over of my twenty dollars when I leave the comic book shop comes home and goes into my petty cash box. (I use that money to buy back issues or trade paper backs.)

Having a twenty dollar a week comic book allowance has forced me to make some rules about what I will or will not consider purchasing when it comes buying time. The easy rules; no crossovers whatsoever, books costing $3.99 or higher, annuals, black and white books and no movie titles.

(1.) Crossover events rarely live up to their advance hype and half the books involved in them almost never have any major role in the story being told. Crossover events rarely manage to get the books out in chronological order. I hate that! Crossover events get none of my money.

(2.) When cigarettes reached the four dollar a pack price tag I quit smoking. I've yet to see a comic I feel is worth a consistent four dollar an issue expenditure. Have you? I'll make an exception for a really good book once in awhile, but four dollar titles hold no ongoing spots in my pull file.

(3.) Annuals, how many have you ever read that just rocked your world? How many annuals con you count on your fingers right now and truthfully say, "Man, those are classic books!"? Yeah, that's what I thought. Annuals are for suckers who don't read comics on a regular basis and think they're getting a really good book because its thick.

(I consider most Christmas books to be a mutant form of the annual.)

(4.) Black and white books are okay in very rare instances. I just don't think there are enough artists who understand how to do it right. Rendering a book in black and white is art form within the art form of comic books. Not everyone can pull it off and I hate seeing a black and white book that is nothing more than uncolored pages. (Yes, you can tell the difference.) Black and white books lack artistic consistency and I think they're best when done as a one shot only now and then. As a general rule; black and white books show a lack of confidence in a project. It's a cost cutting method that minimizes investment risk and maximizes potential profit.

(5.) I hate movie title video games and I hate movie title comic books. I've never been satisfied with either, ever. They never get the best of either genre, comics or video games. We're talking second rate artists, designers and writers at best and the only thing they ever seem interested in is capitalizing on whatever hype surrounds any given movie.

So what do I spend my money on? First off, stand alone titles. I like self contained books that don't force me into spending money on other titles just to make sense of the book I'm currently reading. Next, I like the short four and five book series. Right now they deliver bang for the buck because they get a good story up and running fast. If you're like me and buying comics on a budget the short run titles give you a wide variety of goodies to enjoy and also let you familiarize yourself with a lot of artists and writers. Yeah, if I find someone I like, I start looking at other pieces of their work. Short run titles make it easy to clean out a pull file too. They kinda do the job for you...

Good writing always wins out over fine art for me. Yes, I do enjoy a well illustrated book, but I really enjoy well written prose and well handled story elements. I look for depth to a story, cardboard characters performing cliched actions just don't cut it for me. If characters aren't fleshed out, if plot lines are predictable or completely lacking in some cases I'm just not interested in wasting my time on pretty drawings. (No matter how well rendered.)

Now, based on these and other criteria here's where my money goes.

(1.) Dark Horse gets the lion's share of my comic book dollar because their books are affordable. They also offer a large number of short series titles showcasing work by some of the best and brightest artists and writers working in the business today. They also have enough long run titles like, B.P.R.D. and Goon to give me a regular running title each month.

(2.) D.C. comics gets the next share of the pie. Between Wildstorm and Vertigo I've always got a nice short run series to read. I must say I'm growing fond of The Mighty and R.E.B.E.L.S. too. Both are proving to be keepers.

(3.) Marvel gets almost nothing from me. I just think they're doing everything wrong and apart from Criminal and Incognito they're not involved in anything I consider worth reading.

(4.) Alternative small press titles are gobbling up more and more of my comic book dollar. The books tend to push my envelope for price, but sometimes they're worth it.

Times are tough and money has go a long way. Bills, food on the table and family come first. You can still collect comics, but you need to be smart about it. This is how I do it.

(This week I purchased, The Mighty and Demon Cleaner. $13.00 went into the petty cash fund.)

The Mighty - D.C. Comics

A Flawed Hero?

One of this Wednesday's biggest surprises for me was issue four of D.C. Comics, The Mighty. I like a story that unfolds like a exotic flower. As petals open more and more details emerge slowly revealing a blossom rich in color and subtle details. Issue four made me want to see more of this flower unfold. Which surprises me because I really didn't think I'd care much for this book.

Issue one was the much hackneyed radioactive accident turns normal guy into the super powered do-gooder who becomes the savior of mankind origin tale. (How many times have I read this story in my lifetime?) The book certainly didn't impress me, but my local comic book store guru, Jason, swore the book had legs so I stuck it out for a couple of more issues.

Issue two still didn't do much for me even with the death of the kid at end of the book. (Yeah, I'm a heartless bastard.) I wasn't even affected with the poor lonely super hero shtick who just needs a friend storyline. I mean come on, this guy was turning out to be as cliched a character as any I've ever seen. Let me tell you, this title was losing my interest fast and I was seriously considering jerking it from my pull file.

Issue four starting unfolding and the story began to blossom. Did you catch Alpha One's lie about the number of people trapped in the chemical plant fire? Have you noticed how often he saves the ladies? Did you notice him leaving a dead female behind in the fiery wreckage to replace the live one he snatched from the tragedy he created? Yeah, something ain't right with this guy...

Demon Cleaner lived up to my expectations too. A guy starts summoning demons from Hell and serving them up as tasty treats in his restaurant? What the Hell? I'm starting to become a real fan of Miles Gunter. He's got something to say and I like the way he's saying it. He makes me laugh...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My pull file...

Big time fun!

A good pull file is one that constantly evolves to incorporate new titles. It also requires pruning to remove the dead limbs from an otherwise healthy reading tree. I've been looking at a number of titles lately, some I've been thinking about adding to my pull file and a few I've decided it's time to weed out of the garden to make way for healthier additions.

First off, I've decided its time to weed Fathom from the garden. I've given this title six issues and it just bears no fruit whatsoever. Aspen books are so pretty to look at, but I'm a reader too and pretty pictures just don't cut it for me. Snip...

I think I'm going to add Rapture to Fathom's spot and hopefully add a bit of vitality to my file. Earth abandoned by both super heroes and super zeros. Lovers separated by a continent willing to do anything to be reunited. A mysterious being laying the mantle of responsibility on a young woman. Does she choose destiny over love? So many tasty story elements...

Incognito stays right where it is basking in a prime ray of sunshine filling the garden with an almost tropical array of color. Three books into the run and I'm hooked like a junkie on the good brown heroin. I don't care who you are, you need to be reading this book. (Criminal too.)

Gotham after Midnight has finished its run. I had such high hopes for the series, but it fizzled out about book three and never recovered. I'm not sure what to add in its place yet. Aliens? Predators? I just don't know...

Books like that are basically Cowboys versus Indians stories. The planet Earth are the cowboys and the aliens are the Indians. You get a lot of: "Quick, pull the community into a circle!" "The Aliens have got little Billy!" "Pesky gray varmints.". You can take any Zane Grey story, turn the horses into spaceships, Indians with bows and arrows into aliens with ray guns and replace cowboy hats with space helmets and you've got an Alien or Predator best seller. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, I just like my science-fiction with a bit more substance.

I'm looking real hard at Demon Cleaners. I loved Yeti versus Vampire (What there was of it. Thanks, you bastards at Diamond.) and just want to give Miles Gunter and Victor Santos a little love. I'm a sucker for humor...

Citizen Rex and rapture are going into the pull file for sure. Witchfinder is a given, as well as 1947 and War on Frogs #3.

I don't know...

Any other recommendations?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Witchfinder - Darkhorse Comics

Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels

Does it get any better than Mike Mignola? The body of work he's produced under both the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. banners is simply incredible. I'm not just talking about his skill as an artist either. Mike Mignola has become a formidable story teller. To paraphrase a story from the bible, "Every man at the beginning brings out the good wine; when everyone is well drunk, then the box wine; but you have saved the very best brew until this moment."

I can't think of any other words to best describe Mike's work right now. Have you been reading Hellboy: The Wild Hunt? Did you happen to catch Hellboy: The Crooked man? These books are story telling at its best. It has been a long time since I've read a comic book that just made me sit back afterwards and go, "Wow.". Mike's stories are just amazing right now and right up there with the best anyone is producing at the moment. Mike makes me go wow with almost every book he's producing these days.

Are you reading B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess? So far this story has sent me back to the boxes and has me rereading every single Hellboy and B.P.R.D. book I own. Mike is about to produce a really big wow moment. I can feel it coming and I'm just chomping at the bit for the story to unfold. Mike's taking his work to the top of the mountain and stretching the boundaries there in search of new plateaus. He is in every sense of the word, a creator. I am continually amazed by the variety of supernatural themes in Mike's work. He understands the regional flavors of myth, folklore and superstition from around the world and uses these ingredients to create a rich buffet of story lines.

Mignola's universe is filled with such a diversity of the occult; He gives us samplings of Nazi techno evil, Appalachian witching, Russian folklore and at times even a dash of the old God's of Lovecraftian horror. I never know what I'm going to get when I enter a Mignola story and I like that about his work. And you'd best be on your toes in Mike's world too because characters die. Sometimes in lightning quick and brutal manners. It makes his stories scary because I care for the characters in his books and knowing they are in continual peril makes turning every page an adventure in horror. Turn too many pages and blam, somebody buys the farm. I like it!

For every character he kills off Mike always seems to have another body waiting in the wings. Lobster Johnson, Roger the Homunculis, Captain Benjamin Daimo and others have come and gone in the Mignola universe. I have celebrated their lives and mourned their passing. And every time a character I've loved has been taken from me and I'm sure mike's world will be diminished, he introduces someone new or fills in the background on a character seemingly mentioned in passing and then forgotten. Enter Edward Grey.

We've seen glimpses of Edward Grey, but never a clear look. Until now. We know he's a nineteenth century occult investigator and he's worked for the Queen of England. We have a couple of other pieces of information, but nothing that gives us a real understanding of the man and his like. That is about to change with the upcoming series, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels. Yeah, I can hardly wait. But at the same time I'm a little scared too, because I'm starting to get this eerie feeling that someone is going to die. And I'm starting to think it might be someone big too because Mike is also giving us B.P.R.D. 1947 too.

Something big is coming in the Mignola universe. Forces are at work the likes of which I don't think we've ever seen before. If your not reading B.P.R.D. or Hellboy right now your missing something real good. Don't say I didn't try to tell you...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dark Horse Presents

Hands down, the very best.

I've made no bones about my preference for Dark Horse Comics over every other company in the business today. Their books rock, they still have room for a letters page, they maintain the best web presence of any company out there and they are home to both Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. which happen to be my two favorite comic book titles. Today I'd like to take a look at what makes them the best web presence of any comic book company on the internet.

Dark Horse has taken the novel approach of using the internet to supplement their books instead of using it to supplant their books. The Dark Horse method seems to be one of integration instead of elimination with both components working together to compliment each other rather than compete against each other. Comic books and the internet working together to enhance the overall experience of each other? What a novel concept!

Until the day comes where comics are exclusive to the internet why shouldn't the two mediums work together? Two of my favorite comic book websites are D. H. P. and the Hellboy Zone. Both offer free material and both are updated on a regular basis. There's always something fresh online and I've numerous times found myself reading something there first before adding a new title to my pull file. (Rapture for one.) Yeah, I hear those voices asking the question that always comes up when talking about an internet website; How much money are you making from it?

Let me tell you a little secret about making money. (I think it's one Dark Horse knows very well.) Are you paying attention? Here it is. If the only thing you care about is the customer's money, it's the last thing you'll ever get out of him. Did you catch that? Dark Horse gets my comic book dollar because they make me feel as valuable as my money. Who else in comics today has a letters page? What other comic book company offers email addresses where fan questions and comments receive actual responses?

Go here, here, here and here. What do these websites all have in common? They all talk at you about their product, but they don't give you an address to talk to them about it. They don't care about the fan. All they care about is our money. The message is loud and clear. And most of these websites rarely update their content. Again, they just don't really care...

The Dark Horse message seems to be, "What do you think and what do you want?". They care about comic book readers like the big two used to do. Visit Dark Horse. Visit some of the zones and check out the reading material offered on Dark Horse Presents. You'll find a fan friendly environment that welcomes both you and your input. You'll find yourself part of a dialog where fans are encouraged to participate, give voice and not just told to shut up and purchase.

Dark Horse Comics earn my money, they don't expect it. I think there's a lot to be learned from the Dark Horse business model right now and I wish some other companies would take a long hard look at how they do things and learn from the way they treat their customers. Respect is a two way street. Dark Horse gives as good as they get.

Seriously, go give these guys a look. Do it for no cost on "Free Comic Book Day" this Saturday May 2nd, 2009 at a comic book store near you. Aliens versus predator! Good stuff.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rapture - Dark Horse Comics


The more I see of this project the more I like it. I'd normally give a comic book involving cannibals an inferior rating as the genre isn't one of my favorites, (Not to my taste.) however, I think this book has legs and will prove to be an interesting read.

Check out the preview at Dark Horse Presents, Rapture and I think you'll see what I mean. Also take a look at the sneak peeks of the art pages here too. See what I mean? Tasty goodness from the team of Michael Oeming and Taki Soma.

After a century of war between the great villains and the great champions of Earth they suddenly vanish. The planet is trashed and we the people are left to pick up the pieces. Two young lovers, Evelyn and Gil, are separated by the distance of a continent, but they'll do anything to reunite again. The situation gets complicated when a being called "The Word" turns Evelyn into a champion and gives her an angelic spear. Yeah, I like it too!

Love versus destiny, which one wins out? I guess we'll just have to read the series and find out.

C'mon, give these kids a break and buy the damn book!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Skaar, Son of Hulk - Marvel

"Have, Skarr?"

"Thanks, but no thanks, Hulk, no smoke!"

Really, this is the best the great house of ideas has to offer these days? Jack Kirby must be laughing in his grave.

Well, I've gotta run, there's a crew of guys putting in my new windows today.

Not those kind of windows! House windows...

God, what a bunch of geeks...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cinnamon El Ciclo - D.C. Comics

"Reach for the sky, Sistah!"

For every lesbian teenager that ever wanted to be a cowgirl when when she grew up.

That's right, six gun toting lesbian cowgirls at high noon. "You killed my daddy, now I'm gonna kill you."

Yeah, another one of those bargain bin goodies that will warm your heart and fill a previously unrecognized niche in any good comic book collection. Seriously, even though there isn't one single overt lesbian moment in the entire story the sexual tension is undeniable.

Okay, don't believe me; find this five book series and read it for yourself.

In fact, I may just read it myself before I go to bed tonight...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special - D.C. Comics

Ya bastiches!

Who cares whether you like it or not?

I still read it to my family every Christmas and I love the tears it brings to the children's eyes.

Man, do I miss Lobo...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Caper - D.C. Comics

Good clean fun!

One of the best short run books Ive ever read, period. There are three vignettes spread over twelve issues each of which is better than the one preceding it. My personal favorite is arc three which had me laughing from the very moment it started to the moment it ended. This series is representative of why I started reading comic books and as good an answer to those who ask why I'm still reading them today. Good stories are good stories, no matter what genre you find them in.

This is one of those bargain bin gems you'll be more than satisfied to find at a convention or your local comic book store. I don't care if it ever increases in value, its a book I'll always be glad to have as a part of my humble collection. Seriously, if you find this series intact, pick it up. You won't regret it.

Most of my current collection is short run books. They get up and running quickly and I like how fast paced the shorter books are. At the current price for comic books, anywhere from three to four dollars (and sometimes even more per issue) I don't like books that take three and four issues to get into a storyline. Don't make me spend twenty bucks for little more than character introductions.

N.C.A.A. basketball is on so I'm out of here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Dead, Kingdom of Flies - Berserker Comics


I really wanted to like this book. I really did. Alan Grant and Simon Bisley working together again, how could this title go wrong? Three issues later, I'm just stunned how dreadful this comic book is turning out to be. First off, I've always enjoyed Alan's ability to take a tired old storyline and breathe new life into it. (Alan is usually so good with the twist.) I've always enjoyed his ability to take the tried and true and turn it into something twisted and new.

Sadly, this book is offering nothing new or twisted at all. The storyline is as generic as any zombie tale is capable of being and Alan's storyline offers nothing new to the genre whatsoever. I mean its got zombies-but I've been there and done that-its got a group of people isolated in a building who seem far more interested in fighting each other than they are in battling the plague around them, but again, I've been there and done that. You shoot the zombies in the head to stop them. Scratches and bites infect healthy flesh and create new zombies. Okay, I've seen this tale a gazillion times of late and this book is just a rerun of a worn out theme at four dollars per issue. I can take the same four dollars and buy another zombie movie at, Blockbuster-and the pace of the action will be much faster and scarier.

Bisley's artwork is disjointed and uninspired at best. You can just sense how uncommitted he is to the project and it feels as if he's doing the book for no other purpose than busy work. I'm used to finding a visual commentary in Bisley's illustrations and so far he just hasn't seemed to find the visual hook yet that makes the work enjoyable for him. Aside from a penis drawn provocatively close to Jesus and a naked shower scene there just isn't the running gag running through the book that marks it as a Bisley work. (To me Simon has always been a social commentary artist. His artwork usually says more in background illustrations than most writers get out of their primary story words.) The potential is there, but so far the spark hasn't caught and this book is more smoke than fire and it bothers the eyes instead of lighting them up.

I still want to like this book. Its Alan Grant and Simon Bisley for God's sake! One more issue... I'll give this book one more issue and something really cool better happen or its going into the dead pile. And trust me, once a book goes into my dead pile it doesn't get up and walk again.

Sorry, but right now I'm bored of the flies.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Watchmen

Why this movie crashed and burned...

Okay, I'm on vacation with my wife and son in Gatlinburg, Tennessee celebrating five wonderful years of marriage so this will be quick. (A wife and a child, kinda voids my geek membership card doesn't it.)

First off, at a time where people are looking to the movies to provide a temporary respite from the problems of the day, a story stripping away the glitter of our super heroes and leaving us even one less thing to believe in was sure to be a hit. ("Hey honey, we need a break from all this bad news about the economy, let's go watch a movie about the Alamo!") See what I mean?

Second and I think most important; What guy wants to take his girl to a movie where she gets to look at a bigger-than-life-swinging-blue-schlong for nearly three hours that he knows the one he hopes to bang her with later will never compare to? ( "Oh, Charles, I guess we'll never have to worry about you becoming a super-villain now will we?") Like us geeks don't have enough problems with girls as it is. Duh...

Last but not least, I've seen better actors in porn flicks and they didn't have the benefit of costumes to hide behind.

This film was doomed from the very beginning.

Now if you'll excuse me I've got a family vacation to enjoy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fathom-Aspen Comics

Nice eye candy, but not much else...

Aspen Comics produces some of the most beautifully illustrated, God awful comic book titles I've ever seen. Even the non-stop gnashing of teeth and lamentation over the death of Michael Turner fails to elicit in me the faintest of reason to continue buying their product. Slow, tortuous and lacking in plot to the brink of mind numbing boredom as any ongoing title I've ever 'read'. And the entire line is like that! The Aspen motto must be, "Writers? We don't need no stinking writers!' because they don't mince words when it comes to storytelling. Hell, they hardly even use them.

One of my pet peeves with a comic book is using the artwork to tell the entire story. When I'm ten or twelve pages into a book and the only thing I've read is, "Look out!", "Jump!", Over here!", "Careful!" "sh-h-h... they'll hear you." I'm not a very satisfied reader. I always feel like I've regressed back to a time in childhood where the books I read contained sentences like, "See, Fathom. Swim, Fathom swim." Duh...

Every book I've looked at in their line is the same. By the time I've invested three dollars per issue for five or six books in a row where nothing happens and I'm no further into the development of a plot line than, "See, Soulfire. Run, Soulfire run." I'm outta there! Seriously, if you're not going to use words in telling a story, stop using them all together. I'm tired of having to purchase five or six issues of an Aspen book in order to get one full sentence of storytelling.

Comic books are a unique literary form where a balance of illustration and dialog come together to present a cohesive drama. Fathom is not a comic book by this definition, it is a picture book and quite frankly I outgrew those a very long time ago.

Using nautical terms to create a rating scale for this title I'd find myself speaking pirate as in, "Thar she blows!" and trust me, this book really does.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Warrior Nun Areala, Ben Dunn

Warrior nuns, Nazi evil and the occult!

As much as I've always enjoyed the books produced by Antarctic Press, and yes they are still putting out quality titles, I've always enjoyed reading the editorials nestled between the covers of their magazines. When I look back at their thoughts, reflections and opinions on the state of the comic book industry during the early and mid-nineties I'm struck how much more relevant their comments are today than they were then.

The relationship between those who produce comic books these days and those who read them is as dysfunctional and abusive as that between Cris Brown and Rihanna. Somehow the dynamic between creator and reader has devolved into a love hate relationship where all the comic book companies, irregardless of size, seem to love is our (the readers) money and they hate everything else about us. What the heck happened? When did we become nothing more than bitches to be pimp-slapped and abused? When did purchasing your products become a reason to ridicule and a license to treat us as the lowest possible forms of life on the planet?

With that in mind I reprint the following editorial by Ben Dunn originally published in, Warrior Nun Areala: Portraits, March 1996.

The Politics of Fanboy

Doesn't sound very nice, does it?
Why is it that in this industry we are in the mood to quickly label those that have a genuine passion for the hobby? Do we feel the need to exercise our own superiority or is it a way to cover our own inner passion? Why is it so many professionals in the comic industry need to label comic readers as 'fanboy'? You'll notice there is little regard to call someone a 'fangirl'. Probably because there are so few of them we are afraid to chase off females who actually enter the hobby of comic collecting.

I remember a time it was a badge of honor to be called a 'fan'. I was passionate about comics because I loved the medium. I loved anime, manga, and science-fiction. I loved it so much I created a company. As time went on and I came to know more and more people in the industry , I began to encounter prejudices: the accepted practice of calling comic readers 'fanboys'. Why is that? You wouldn't call a Jew a 'kike', you wouldn't call an Asian a 'chink', you wouldn't call an African American a 'nigger'-unless you were a racist. So why is it okay to call a comic reader a 'fanboy'? Isn't that labeling someone because of what they are? Let's face it, nobody would want to admit in public that he or she is a fanboy, but isn't that what all of us are? Isn't the appreciation of comics the reason we are in this industry to begin with? I have not seen any other industry that treats its own customers with with such utter contempt. Through its own actions and its own words it continues to play these readers, thinking they are fools-i.e., 'fanboys' "Lets go exclusive!" was the rallying cry , and to hell with the readers, "Who cares about them? They will follow us because they are 'fanboys'" was the mantra in the industry. "Let's flood the market with as much similar product as possible because they are fanboys and will buy what we feed them," continued the industry. Just how long did they think the readers were going to fall for it? Now the industry is in the midst of almost collapsing and they have no one to blame but themselves...or do they? Perhaps, in some nameless comic company boardroom, an executive is blaming the fall on those stupid 'fanboys'. They did not realize it was these 'fanboys' that were supporting them for years, and now the truth comes out that they never cared for them to begin with.

I am a comic reader. I like reading comics and I like talking about them. I am not afraid to admit that. I think the industry needs to take a hard look at itself and its readers and try to understand that the passion of collecting and reading comics comes from within. Sure, there are those who try to manipulate it, twist it and take advantage of others to enrich themselves in this industry. It is those I consider the real threat.

Ben Dunn, 03/96

Like any bad relationship the abused victim will stick around for awhile because of the feelings of love they have have for the abuser. Eventually however the bruises become too much to bear and the return on investment diminishes beyond the ability to endure. Even the name calling becomes too much...

To paraphrase an old saying, "If you torture us, we will leave."

This post is dedicated to, Marc Hansen, who needs to read his blog, then ask himself if he were a prospective customer would he purchase his own product, given what he thinks of comic book reader/collectors regardless of whatever format he offers it?

C'mon, Dude, even Cris Brown treats his bitches better...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Flash Gordon- Arddeen Entertainment

Pure beauty?

This is one of those books where it all comes together in perfect harmony and balance. The artwork is stunning and the coloring masterful. I could sit and do nothing more than look at this comic for hours on end.

It would be so easy to lose the story in artwork of this quality, but Brendan Deneen more than holds his own against the artistic splendor of Paul Green. Each element of the book holds my attention and I find this just as good a read as it is eye candy to look at.

Unfortunately, I find the marketing techniques to be as crass as the book is polished. Clearly Arddeen Entertainment believes the planet to be composed of an endless forest of paper producing trees because they're producing an endless number of variant covers for each and every issue of the book they've produced to date. Five issues and each one has had no less than five variant covers. Not only is this marketing technique unfriendly to the planet and the environment, it's also unfriendly to comic book buyers at a time of economic hardship.

These guys are asking top dollar for their product and the only interest they seem to have in producing comic books is making as much money as inhumanly possible off what they perceive to be paper-crack addicted Fanboys. If there was a single shred of integrity remaining to this company they'd change their name to, Greed and Avarice Entertainment. I haven't seen such money grubbing since the early days of the Image label.

I bought the first four issues of this book in hopes that they'd settle down and ease up on the print runs and variant covers, but every time I visit their web site they're alredy hawking hardbound collections of the first four issues, included the over hyped New York comicon zero edition that I just get fed up and want nothing more to do with Arddeen Entertainment no matter how good their books are.

Corporate greed on the level displayed by these guys ruins the quality of their product and is comparable to spray painting graffiti on the Mona Lisa. Sorry, but with the economy the way it is right now I've got much better things to do with my money than line your excessively greedy pockets with it.

From this point forward I'll be waiting to pick these books up in bargain bins where every other over printed and over variant covered title winds up.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

R.E.B.E.L.S Bedard and Clarke

Vril Dox returns!

One of only two long run comic book series remaining in my collection today is L.E.G.I.O.N. which began its run in 1989 and ended in 1994. I always enjoyed this title and I still admire the series for the number of characters who were carefully shaped and molded for eventual starring roles in the D.C. universe. (Need I say anything other than Lobo?) Vril Dox was the main character in this series and for anyone who's never heard of him before he was the quintessential control freak and all around inconsiderate horse's ass. The only two things in the universe he had respect for were his own abilities and personal vision of how things "should" be. Everything and everyone else around him were seen as little more than raw materials and tools to be used as he saw fit to accomplish his personal goals. Vril Dox had many associates, but very few friends. I liked him.

To make a long column short, Vril Dox put together a mercenary police force that kept the peace over about eighty-five planets at it's height. L.E.G.I.O.N. was the story of this band of peace keepers, held together more by a mutual desire to keep Vril Dox in check than anything else, and their adventures throughout the galaxies under their protection. R.E.B.E.L.s is not a revitalization of the L.E.G.I.O.N series nor is it a continuation of it although it does indeed hearken back to the original epoch of that particular storyline. I've been rereading the original title, refreshing my memory of Vril Dox and trying to gleam a clue or two (If possible.) on just who it is that may have stolen control of L.E.G.I.O.N. away from him.

Which brings me to the story line overview...

Issue one opens with Vril Dox landing on Earth with a group of nasty bounty hunters hot on his intergalactic heels. It isn't long before he's managed to manipulate Supergirl into playing the role of unwitting bodyguard and maneuvering her into position in a plan only Vril is aware of. This is classic Vril Dox! No one ever knows what role they're playing in Vril's schemes until his machinations are completed and they're lying bruised and confused on the ground wondering just what the hell just happened to them. Issue one is like a fuse on a bottle rocket, it sets the eventual fireworks into motion without stealing the upcoming show.

Issue two explodes in a pyrotechnic display of lightning fast action and plot advancement. Supergirl is used and abused in a typical wham, bam, thank you, ma'am Vril Dox fashion that brilliantly foreshadows what is about to happen to the next female character he encounters in this new tale. By issue's end I knew what he was going to do, but I just couldn't look away. I won't spoil the moment for you if you haven't read it yet, but suffice it to say, "Be careful what you ask for around Vril Dox, cause you won't believe the sick and twisted way he gives it to you."

Two issues into this series so far and I'm hooked. Tony Bedard has shown an excellent grasp of Vril's personality and written a masterful story to this point and even though I'm not all that familiar with the artwork of Andy Clarke, I like what I see so far. I think this is a sleeper title this year and by the time September rolls around everyone will be looking for the early issues of this book.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My pull file...

Yeah, I'd do Hellboy. What of it?

As any comic book reader knows, Wednesday is the best day of the week. From the moment our eyes open on the very bestest day of the week our only thought is on what awaits us in our pull files at our local comic book retailer. I live for Wednesdays. Weekends are for alcoholics and sports fans. For me and my friends it's all about gathering around the big table as the new books are checked in and we share reviews and opinions about the previous week's offerings. Yeah, it's just how we roll. Anyway, each and everyone of the true aficionados keep what is known as a pull file. It's like a reservation in which you're guaranteed to have copies of particular titles pulled by the staff and held for you until you're able to visit your favorite comic book dealer and pick them up in person. If you're lucky, like me, you have a good relationship with a staff member who also pulls special releases or low print run books just in case you might wish to try something new and puts those in your pull file too. Here's a list of books I consider worth reading and always look forward to finding in my pull file.


Icon is a sub title under the Marvel banner and is home to their primarily creator owned projects. I collect two books from this line; Criminal and Incognito. Both books are produced by the same creative team and I don't think many better titles exist anywhere else in the industry.


I just finished a four part Sandman series entitled, The Dream Hunters. If you've never read a comic book this would be the series to start with. Comics like this are rare these days and you'll be hard pressed to find a better creative duo than that of Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell.

I just added a new title, R.E.B.E.L.S. to my pull file and if the first two issues are any indication the team of Tony Bedard and Andy Clarke are working on a winner. Issue one was like the fuse on a bottle rocket, it sparkled and set the stage for the fireworks to come, but issue two ignited the rocket and launched the story skyward. Vril Dox is back with a vengeance...

Dark Horse

Hellboy is just plain smoking right now. He's currently halfway through a story arc entitled, The Wild Hunt and so far I get the feeling this story just might be headed back to things first hinted at in an earlier two book series, Makoma. Something is brewing in this series and it's spinoff, B.P.R.D. and I can't wait to see what Mike Mignola's got up his sleeve.

The B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Psychic Research and Development) is another read I just can't wait for month to month. The Black Goddess is the name of the current story arc and you can just feel it building towards something extraordinary and I'm biting my nails to see what it is. Seriously, Mike Mignola is a genius of the horror genre and his work is getting better and better with every passing year. He's also surrounded himself with a very talented group of people like; Guy Davis, Richard Corben, John Arcudi, Duncan Fregredo and Scott Allie. (Yes I did just list an editor as a creative force.) If you're not reading Hellboy you're missing a master of the craft in his prime and you'll regret it someday. This guy is Jack Kirby good...

Is anyone else reading, The Cleaners? I'm not sure what's happening with this book just yet, but I like it.

Solomon Kane... The first story arc just completed and I'm already looking forward to the next one.


I just finished reading the final book of five in the, City of Dust series and am looking forward to this title becoming an ongoing book. Written by, Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) this is a post apocalyptic tale about one man's search for his place in a world stripped of imagination. It's dark, adult and maybe not a good book for the kiddies, but I liked it and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a damn good read.

That's a pretty good look at the kind of books I enjoy reading right now. I won't pay $3.99 for a run of the mill title or books involved in crossover after crossover event so there won't be a lot of Marvel titles in my pull file.

If you have any suggestions please be advised that offering them may subject you to ridicule. Nuff said...

Brubaker and Phillips, "Incognito"

Goodness with a capitol G!

Of all the titles in the Marvel catalog I read only two these days, both are by the same creative team and both are among the very best books being produced in the industry today. They are, Criminal and Incognito. I'll save a review of Criminal for another day and focus on Incognito this afternoon. First off, the balance between story and art work is perfect and, Icognito is a book I enjoy reading as much as I enjoy looking at. This is a title for grownups and I don't recommend it as appropriate for small children. That being said, I really think that's one of the reasons I like this book so very much. The story line is about a twin who watches his brother gunned down in the midst of a battle with police after a robbery effort goes terribly bad. He is offered a deal if he turns on the brains of the outfit he's working for which he readily accepts. He is then entered into the government's witness protection program.

This is a tale that will grab you firmly by the cojones and command your attention from the very first panel of the story. The colors used to create mood are lurid and psychedelic in intensity. I always feel as if I'm being assaulted by garish signs offering titillating XXX promises of nude girls and twisted sex acts. I know it's dirty and I shouldn't be going into that kind of shop, but its got me by the balls and I just can't help but enter a peep show booth for one quick glimpse of a forbidden world of cheap physical gratification. Yes, the artwork and the color schemes used to enhance it are just that visceral and enticing.

Ed Brubaker knows how to tell a story. He's one of those writers who knows how to make characters and the world they inhabit come alive without going into verbose descriptions of setting and character motivation. He knows how to keep it real too. The main character in Incognito is in spite of his super abilities little more than a thug. His task is to pull off the job rather than think about it. He is a muscle boy and there's not much effort to ennoble him whatsoever. You won't be bothered with rationalization and justifications here, this guy is just as liable to do whatever he does for beer and babes than for any other reason. He loves the fighting and he loves the thrill of the action. I shouldn't like the guy at all and I don't, but I can't help but be fascinated by the things he does. He's a like bug I'm watching under a magnifying glass. Eventually I'm going to focus the sun's rays on him until he lays in a writhing mass of smoking ruin, but in the meantime I 'm getting a kick out of watching him crawl all over the dead bird.

I know, so far I keep thinking, "If not for the calming grace of illegal drugs there go I." Reading Incognito is like sleeping with that freaky hottie of a crack whore where you have a thousand and one good reasons for not going anywhere near her, but you'll never be able to forget that one thing she did with her tongue in the bad place for the rest of your life. You know what I'm saying...

Hey, as long as my buddies and the wife never find out about it, and I ain't telling no one, what's the harm?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dark Horse

One of my favorite titles.

Dark Horse comics has been in the business of producing quality comics since nineteen eighty six. You'd think that after nearly twenty four years of surviving in an industry that's still dominated by the original big two of the industry, Marvel and D.C. they'd be a well respected name and well recognized for their achievements, but such is not the case. Why this is so is a mystery to me and no matter how hard I try to figure it out I never seem to arrive at a satisfactory answer. These guys put out a truly superior product in what I believe to be a truly unique format. Dark Horse is a master of the short run series. You won't find a title in their catalog running into the two and three hundred digits. Granted, "Dark Horse Presents" ran into the one hundred number, but it wasn't the same as a single character title running as long because the book showcased any number of characters during it's long run.

Dark Horse has introduced some fine characters to the comic book world. My favorite has to be Hellboy followed closely by B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Psychic Research and Development) and the various books that relate to them. I'm always carried back to the Sunday newspaper comic section and characters like Steve Canyon when I read these these books and I feel like I've gone back in time to a better day. Hellboy and B.P.R.D. are earth bound books. There aren't any space battles involving fleets of massive battle stars and cosmic heroes saving the galaxy from evil hordes of space demons. You will find creatures of a subterranean origin and the remnants of races from the earliest moments in the creation of the earth and mankind. Oh yes, there will be monsters.

Creator, writer and illustrator, Mike Mignola has grown and matured almost as much in the years he and his creation, Hellboy have traveled the realms of myth, world folklore and Jungian archetypes in his abilities as an artist and storyteller. I never cease to marvel at his ability to dip his creative brush into the paintbox of well known story lines and produce fresh tales at the same time both familiar in origin yet new in color and context. His work is a continual reminder of what I like most about Dark Horse comics. The artist's story is always more important than the creation of a new character to market for the next ten or twenty years.

At Dark Horse it doesn't matter if a story is four books long or a thirty issue series. Creative integrity matters more than creative marketing and it shows in the way their books are crafted and placed into the marketplace. I look through my collection of Dark Horse books and the diversity of stories and artistic styles never ceases to impress me. Books like: White Like She, Egon, The Hammer, Zombie World, Amazon and new tales like The Cleaners or Solomon Kane have created a world of rich variety in which anything is possible at any given moment instead of a continuity line in which characters are forced to conform to existing time and story arcs in what are more often than not contrived and convoluted ways rather than natural and creative manners. Stories are fresh and interesting because they're not forced to extremes by a character that's been around for decades and yet is still a teenager or has faced every arch-enemy in every imaginable situation for every possible reason or motivation.

Dark Horse isn't afraid to let a story end or a character fade away. They seem to trust the artistic communities ability to produce fresh material instead of forcing it to breath life into old characters that should have been allowed to die years ago. I mean, come on, the radioactive spider bite may have given Peter Parker incredible physical powers, but did it make him immortal too? Don't get me wrong, I loved Spider-man when I was a teenager, but as I've matured I've watched his story become more juvenile and fantastical than I'm capable of accepting as an adult.

I grew up on the big two comic book companies. I loved anything Marvel and characters like Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, The Hulk and Captain America were more than good friends to me, they were role models to look up to and faithful companions to me no matter how many times my family moved back and forth across the country. These characters were consistent and familiar to me no matter how strange and alien any new neighborhood appeared to my young adolescent eyes. Now a days I pick up my old favorites only to find out that in an attempt to squeeze out a few more years and a lot more money from them their entire story lines have been distorted into aliens wearing their skins as disguises or secret clues revealing a true purpose and nature none of us ever guessed at or their life stories revealed as a complete sham because of the true evil beings in the background pulling and manipulating strings they never knew existed.

It does not entertain or satisfy me because I recognize it for the great pile of steaming excrement it has become. Having run out of believable and plausible story ideas for characters that have continued on long after their allotted shelf life has expired, the big two have turned to the bizarre and the extreme in a desperate attempt to keep their readers attention. There is nothing fresh in their content, it is purely absurd. Dark Horse keeps me entertained with new and challenging material on a monthly basis. I can't recommend them highly enough to the new reader or the old collector looking for something fresh to revitalize a waning appetite for comic book goodness. Remember, Dark Horse and Hellboy for satisfaction guaranteed reading, you won't be disappointed.