Tag Archives: Graphic Novels

Comic of the Day REVIEW: Doctor Who Special 2013 #1

10 Mar

(Another winning write-up by Orion, folks! Do the Doctor Who comics live up to the TV show’s greatness? Does the story’s young-female Doctor Companion function as a Mary Sue for a middle-aged British writer? Are comics readers and DW fans ALL Special Snowflakes? Read on, and find out…)

by Orion Tippens

photo 1ADC Comic of the Day: Doctor Who Special 2013 #1

Writer: Paul Cornell

Pencils: Johnny Broxton

Published by: IDW Publishing

Released: Dec. 2013

Notes: One-shot, self-contained story

STORY:

The Doctor meets…Doctor Who?!

After a mishap send the TARDIS astray, our favorite Time Lord stumbles upon a world most familiar to us readers.

photo 3This is our real world, or as the Doctor puts it; a world of “anti-fiction,” “non-fiction,” and “un-fiction.” Here, all of the exciting moments in the Doctor’s life are passed off through stories, through a fictional TV show called “Doctor Who” staged with special effects. “Doctor Who” is well-received by its huge fandom base, very popular at geek conventions, and a growing oncoming merchandising storm.

The Doctor is Continue reading

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Comic of the Day: Shifter

24 Feb

Comics of the Day Review:

photo 2Shifter: Interactive Graphic Novel (for mobile devices, IOS version)

by Orion Tippens

Writer: Brian Haberlin and Brian Holguin

Pencils: Brian Haberlin, Geirrod VanDyke, Kunrons Yap, Chan Hyuk Lee

Letter: Francis Takenaga

Published by: Anomoly Productions

Date released: Jan 23, 2014

Pages: 875 panels of art, appendix text (book is 224 pages)

Rated: 12+

Notes: Also in print as a graphic novel with augmented reality options.

The UAR app for Shifter is a separate app and not a subject for this review. The app reviewed is currently the iOS version (Version 1.0) read on my iPad 2

The following review contains mild spoilers, and focuses on the story and app viewing technology.

photo 1Story:

Shifter is set on an ultra-modern-day planet Earth (after a mysterious prologue, that occurs six months later): we meet Noah Freeman, an everyman centered on his job of drone-controlled environmental data collection. All seems well with his secure job and upcoming engagement, until a casual hiking trip goes very wrong; Noah is thrown down a waterfall by a duo of sinister mystery men, and survives only to stumble upon a portal leading into some strange, other-dimensional plane of existence.

Here, Noah finds himself conversing with a sentient, spherical device. With that, he discovers a power within his surroundings to travel back to select times and places, but only through a choice of collected creatures and persons. Many specimens are extinct, and are of different sizes and personalities. One is human – a female Celtic warrior – with whom he develops a friendship. As a possessor of each specimen, he also shares its experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Such new explorations are exciting for Noah, but he seeks out a way to revisit to his old life. But he discovers himself wanted for murder – and a grand conspiracy behind it all. Now, he must use these new powers to set his original life right… Continue reading

Upgrade or Downgrade? Black Orchid Deluxe hardcover

4 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Black Orchid Deluxe HCI hadn’t intended to do another Up-or-Down so soon, but I’ve gotten several requests for more, and since they’re easier to do as I’m organizing my comics and cleaning up my place, why not?

As I’ve mentioned, in the late 1980s-early 1990s DC Comics was on to something truly special. Few publishers at the time were turning out classic after classic (Dark Horse is the only one that comes to mind) and, though I was too young to appreciate it at the time, DC proved beyond a doubt that comics post-Watchmen/Maus/Dark Knight Returns were validated as true literature.

One of DC’s earliest projects to demonstrate this was 1988’s Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, one of their first U.S.-published comics works (along with The Sandman). A strange, short tale about unintended consequences and beauty in a violent world, Black Orchid was the first story to reveal the sophistication of Gaiman’s later self-contained works (his early Sandman stories were strange, cliffhanger- and superhero-populated affairs) and McKean’s sense of story-as-design he later applied to Arkham Asylum and Cages.

Black Orchid TPB 1st printing

The 1993 trade paperback (1st printing). Note the DC logo blotching an otherwise beautiful cover.

THE GOOD: The 2012 oversized Deluxe hardcover edition of Black Orchid is Continue reading

Upgrade or Downgrade? Animal Man Omnibus

2 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Animal Man OmnibusOkay, this is gonna be a quick one, since I’ve been away… I’ve been recovering from a rather inconvenient surgery (minor skin cancer, fortunately quite curable), so apologies for my infrequent posting over the last few months. One of the few things I’ve been able to do easily over the past several weeks has been to FINALLY organize my comics collection, so expect a lot more stuff in the near future. Onward!

The Animal Man Omnibus is 99% perfect. The story contents remain an essential touchstone for mainstream comics’ transition to more mature and deconstructionist material, and made Grant Morrison (The Invisibles, All-Star Superman, New X-Men, Doom Patrol, Batman, JLA, etc.) one of comics’ biggest names. (John Byrne did a fun, goofy take on a main character that knows it’s a fictional comic-book character in Sensational She-Hulk, which was published at about the same time as this Animal Man material – but Byrne’s mastery of old-school, 1960s/70s-inspired comics storytelling hasn’t received the same accolades as Morrison’s innovations.)

Secret Origins #39 cover

A missing Animal Man piece that’s finally been reprinted.

THE GOOD: This book features Grant Morrison’s entire run on Animal Man, including Animal Man #1-26 and a story from Secret Origins #39. Morrison took a ridiculous character (a guy in orange tights who gains the powers of animals) and built the perfect story around him, one that breaks down the entire idea of the role of superhero stories. The story is a must-read for anyone who appreciates a mature take on the frankly immature superhero concept, and has a permanent place in comics history.

Extras include all Continue reading

Upgrade or Downgrade? Hellblazer: Original Sins

19 Sep

by Mike Hansen

Hellblazer: Original Sins (1st printing)

Hellblazer: Original Sins (1st & 2nd DC Comics printing)

Occasionally, I’ll buy more than one edition of a graphic novel. Sometimes it’s by accident (which is surprisingly easy when one has thousands of books!); sometimes it’s because the newer one looks like a better version…

After a big move five months ago, I’ve finally gotten around to organizing my comics again, and I’ve discovered a LOT of duplicate material in some of my books. So as a Public Service, I thought I’d share what I know, so you can make a more informed decision on which books to buy. I’m a giver.

I’m starting with DC/Vertigo’s Hellblazer books, as I’ve managed to amass most of them over the last 21 years. It’s one of the best horror comics series of all time, so if all you care about is whether it’s good the answer is YES. Hugely imaginative, massively influential, the stories of John Constantine remain as potent today as they did when they were first published over the last 26 years. Even the character’s creator, Alan Moore, has praised the work of writers Jamie Delano and Brian Azzarello on the series, despite his general hatred of DC Comics.

the 1993 Warner Books edition

1993 Warner Books edition

(It’s a shame that DC decided to incorporate its “mature” characters back into its New 52 superhero line. If only DC knew how to properly manage its intellectual property and branding, instead of taking an “all or nothing” approach to its company-owned material, draining the life and power out of ideas that now fall far short of their potential. I’m grateful that a large enough audience exists for the “real” John Constantine so the Hellblazer stories can continue to be reprinted.)

I’ve given DC Comics a hard time a lot lately (because, let’s face it, that company has done a shit-ton of stupid things in public in the last few years – hell, in the last few weeks), but the company hasn’t survived for over 75 years by being stupid all the time. The DC of today doesn’t Continue reading

San Diego Comic-Con 2013 pictures (part 2)

12 Aug

Photos by Orion Tippens

Occasional caption text by Mike Hansen

Photo Jul 19, 9 02 30 AM

Photo Jul 18, 1 29 39 AM

Dustin Nguyen (Li'l Gotham) rocks the stage.

Dustin Nguyen (Li’l Gotham) rocks the stage.

Photo Jul 21, 1 17 33 AM

Photo Jul 18, 2 30 03 AM

Continue reading

I saw The Wolverine

11 Aug

by Mike Hansen

The Wolverine argentina

Probably my favorite of the international posters, even if the tagline is as cheesy as U.S. posters: “Fugitive, Hero, Legend.” Really? “Inmortal,” indeed…

They finally got the claws right.

Every X-Men film has its nitpicky moments, giving long-time comics readers like me something to complain about (in the right company). The first couple of X-Men films get a pass, because they were at the very beginning of the superhero-film wave that didn’t really get going until the first Spider-Man movie. Both of them have a lot of good visual and character moments, but watching them now reveals a lot of stuff that would make me cringe if they were made in 2013. The near-franchise killer (despite its initial box-office success) X-Men: The Last Stand is still nearly unwatchable for me, with its odd and pointless creative choices. Likewise X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which clearly owed its limited success to the last bit of goodwill fans had for the material (not to mention the rough cut’s leak, marking the beginning of the end for MegaUpload and making it really damn tough for me to complete my AC/DC bootleg collection – but I digress…).

The Wolverine japan flag teaser

I usually like teaser posters more than later ones. For me, less is more.

X-Men: First Class was a big step back in the right direction, with its bold and ballsy 1960s Cold War setting and the kind of reboot no superhero franchise in any medium had seen yet: nailing down the premise’s origins in a specific time in history, despite the unofficial Marvel “ten-year rule” for its oldest characters (i.e., as of 2013, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man got their powers in 2003 – even though their first appearances were in 1961-1962). This kind of thinking has also led to creative disasters like DC’s New 52 reboot (although one of its few good ideas was Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics featuring the early days of Superman), so it can be a fine line to walk between respecting and adapting source material, and just doing overpaid fan fiction. First Class also had that great, super-brief scene with Wolverine, one of the few times I’ve seen a scene designed as fan service really work. (Will its other choices, like an early furry Beast and using Cyclops’s brother, make sense in the long run? Time will tell…)

The Wolverine samurai

I think this poster was for the Japanese market. I dig it, especially its similarity to the new X-Men: Days of Future Past teaser posters.

The Wolverine has none of the problems of previous X-Men films. It’s a tight story set (mostly) during just a handful of days, some time after the events of The Last Stand (none of which are directly referenced, other than that Wolverine killed Jean Grey and is now haunted by this). The story is mainly Continue reading

Sales charts and the lies they tell

8 Jan

by Mike Hansen

Michael Jackson Thriller zombiesNow that comics shops have only one nationwide distributor that carries the major U.S. publishers, it’s easy to look at Diamond’s sales figures and assume they’re pretty accurate. Except that Diamond adjusts the numbers for comics with various sales-incentive schemes, and doesn’t release figures on returns or overseas sales.

There are ways of tracking actual sales to customers (not just to retailers). The music industry used to certify Gold and Platinum albums based on how many albums were shipped to stores, not how many sold to customers. Then along came SoundScan, which revealed that a lot of so-called hits were getting returned unsold to the record labels.

Bookstores have a similar program called BookScan, but it doesn’t cover Walmart or book club sales, among others.

A friend shared with me a recent New Yorker article about the top-selling albums of all time, worldwide. It turns out that Michael Jackson’s Thriller didn’t sell anywhere near a hundred million copies, as Sony Music (remember them?) has claimed. Here’s the actual top ten sales (click on the article link for more):

1. Michael Jackson, “Thriller”: 66,200,000
2. Soundtrack, “Grease”: 44,700,000
3. Pink Floyd, “The Dark Side of the Moon”: 44,200,000
4. Whitney Houston et al., “The Bodyguard”: 38,600,000
5. The Bee Gees at al., “Saturday Night Fever”: 37,200,000
6. The Eagles, “Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975”: 36,900,000
7. Bob Marley, “Legend”: 36,800,000
8. Led Zeppelin, “IV”: 35,700,000
9. AC/DC, “Back in Black”: 35,700,000
10. Shania Twain, “Come on Over”: 35,400,000

We already know Continue reading

Get well soon, Peter David

30 Dec

by Mike Hansen

I can’t access his website right now, but Google has given me the following:

We were on vacation in Florida when I lost control of the right side of my body. I cannot see properly and I cannot move my right arm or leg. We are currently getting the extent of the damage sorted out and will report as further details become clarified.

Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to Mr. David. His work on The Incredible Hulk and SpyBoy hold a special place in my heart, and I hope for many more wonderful stories from him.

News: Some people still buy back issues (at least Walking Dead, but probably not Deadpool)

6 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Deadpool by Liefeld

Who wants some freshly baked bread? Mmmm.

A few weeks ago, a grade-9.9 copy of The Walking Dead #1 sold for over $10,000. That is INSANE for any comic under 50 years old, much less one from a decade ago – I mean, even a 9.8 copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1 is offered at only $4,000 at Lone Star Comics! The Walking Dead is one of the few series that still has demand outpacing supply, despite the zillions of reprints in various formats (including Walking Dead Weekly, which even included the original letters pages!). I have a feeling that there’s a small group of very rich comics collector/investors out there buying this, probably the same folks who have been pushing up the prices of key 1930s-1960s comics like Action Comics #1 or X-Men #1 or whatever.

On the other end of the scale, folks are finally waking up to the fact that the first appearance of Deadpool in New Mutants #98 is WAY overpriced. I’ve been talking about this for years now – while most Marvel comics sell 10,000-50,000 copies these days, in the early ’90s they generally sold hundreds of thousands of copies. NM #98 is one of the most common back issues in comics history, but retailers have hoarded copies and jacked up prices because of a brief resurgence of interest in Deadpool stories after the Wolverine movie came out. Now there’s a website devoted to this absurdity! I love it.

The fact is, Continue reading

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