REVIEWS: For Your Consideration 06/20/07

by Jeff

Reprinted courtesy of Guy LeCharles Gonzalez and Comic Book Commentary.

Free time is a precious thing. Don’t waste it reading bad comics out of habit!

I don’t know if it’s just the nice weather, or the fact that I’m slowly edging my way back into the poetry scene and focusing on my own writing again, or that I’m buying less and less floppies and more TPBs these days, but my interest in comics has faded to that of a more casual reader. It’s not the first time, not by a long shot, but it feels less whimsical, more transitional this time around. Ironically, it was my fading interest in the poetry scene that got me back into reading comics in the first place, so it will be interesting to see if the two can peacefully co-exist, or if comics (or blogging about them, at least) will get kicked to the curb.

With that huge caveat emptor, here’s my weekly look at select comic books being released Wednesday, 6/20/07. The full shipping list, as always, is available at ComicList. (Note: For the “just the facts, ma’am” crowd, ComicList impresario Charles LePage has launched a no-frills version of his invaluable list called The Bullpen Bulletin.)

[NOTE: Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it. If not, find another one; or try Khepri.com or MidtownComics.com]

PICK OF THE WEEK*
BanzaiGirl_Cvr REVIEWS: For Your Consideration 06/20/07
Banzai Girl (Arcana Comics)

ARCANA STUDIO
Banzai Girl Manga Vol 1 TPB, $9.99
Banzai Girls #1, $3.95

Even as my tastes have drastically changed over the years, I’ll always have a soft spot for Arcana Studio (now called Arcana Comics), publishers of 100 Girls and Ezra, two of my favorite, non-Marvel/DC titles from a few years back when I started reading comics again. The former remains a personal favorite, while the latter (a “guilty pleasure” for which I have no guilt) garnered me my first significant blurb, which they used in Previews, miscrediting me as comiccommentary.com, which led to my registering the URL. My two-part interview with their publisher, Sean O’Reilly, was also my first “big” (in length, at least) interview. Sadly, I haven’t picked up an Arcana title in over a year now (Jova’s Harvest and/or El Arsenal) as they seem to have shifted towards a T&A art style for the majority of their releases, but Banzai Girl caught my eye for the interesting fact that its creator represents an interesting “Wha…Huh?!?” figure in light of recent events in the industry: “Its author is Jinky Coronado, who is also its artist, its main character, and its photo cover model. Jinky already has a burgeoning career as a calendar and lingerie FHM model, a recording artist (her music CD, the appropriately-titled BANZAI GIRLS), has just been released, and artist for TokyoPop’s upcoming AVALON HIGH project with best-selling author Meg Cabot.” Interesting enough to get me to give this a looksee, at least.

DARK HORSE COMICS
Conan #41, $2.99

I was talking to my father-in-law this weekend about Conan as he was thumbing through my copy of Conan and the Midnight God #5, and he was saying how much he loved the two TPBs I’ve bought him so far — Volume 2 of the main series and the over-the-top Conan and the Songs of the Dead — and couldn’t wait to read more. I’ve been thinking I was going to switch to TPB-only for the spin-offs after Midnight God, and after #50 for the main series, but our conversation made me realize how much I’m actually enjoying having a regular dose of Conan and how long the wait between TPBs can be. It helps to get an unjaded take on things every now and then.

DC COMICS
Countdown #45, $2.99
Flash The Fastest Man Alive #13, $2.99

I’m not buying either of these titles, but they stood out for me this week in light of the rumor that, despite having so many good reasons to let him go, DC is renewing Dan Didio’s contract. The former’s sales are tanking quickly in comparison to the surprisingly strong-legged 52, while the latter is arguably the highest-profile “One Year Later” disaster in a rather competitive field. One of the less talked about side effects of a lucrative segment of the industry being so dominated by two publishers is that the talent pool for editorial management is depressingly shallow, and the two main players are understandably skittish about making any significant moves that might upset the apple cart. My guess is Didio got a Tom Coughlin-like extension that gives him just enough rope to finish hanging himself (another year, tops) while allowing DC time to do some behind-the-scenes maneuvering that will lessen the impact of his inevitable departure.

DEVILS DUE PUBLISHING
GI Joe Storm Shadow #2, $3.50

The first issue was a solid introduction, setting a distinctive tone that separates it from the primary America’s Elite title while still playing in a recognizable sandbox.

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Savage Tales #2, $4.99

Generally speaking, I like anthology comics, especially when there’s a unifying theme, and the first issue of Savage Tales was well worth the $5 cover price.

IMAGE COMICS
Madame Mirage Greg Horn Cvr A #1, $2.99
Strange Girl Vol 3 TPB, $15.99

Never having watched whichever Batman cartoon Paul Dini is best-known for, I don’t have the fanatical love for him that many Batman fans seem to, so his run on Detective Comics, while solid, was a lot easier to give up after reading the first issue of the incredibly boring Countdown, and seeing the T&A art style he went with for his creator-owned Madame Mirage title. *** Strange Girl is wrapping up much sooner than I’d like — and from the pace of the last few issues, I’m guessing a tad sooner than planned — but it’s been a good run and it’s always better to go out on top, so kudos to Rick Remender and his artistic cast of thousands for putting out one of the best comics of the past few years. If you slept on it, I highly recommend that you pick up the TPBs.

MARVEL COMICS
Amazing Spider-Man #541, $2.99
Marvel Adventures Avengers Vol 3 Digest TPB, $6.99
Moon Knight #11 CWI, $2.99

While I doubt the thrice-a-month schedule will last long, I think having one primary Spider-Man title is a great idea, as is the TV-like crew of writers and artists. Schedule a few mini-series and one-shots throughout the year, a mix of in-continuity and standalone stories, and that’s a winning formula for putting your franchise character near the top of the sales charts on a monthly basis without depending on overblown crossovers, tie-ins and world-changing events every six months. *** The first two digests of Marvel Adventures: Avengers have been some of the best team comics Marvel’s published since the first arc of Young Avengers. It is also an exception to my no current Marvel/DC rule. *** It will be tough not picking up Moon Knight this week, but Mico Suayan’s terrible artwork in his first two issues made it an easier decision.

NBM
Tales From The Crypt #1, $3.95

I’m curious to see how they’ll pull this off as an all-ages offering.

PUTNAM PUBLISHING GROUP
52 the Novel TPB, $15.00

I would not want to meet anyone who’d read this in a dark alley. The temptation to beat them up and take their lunch money would be too much to resist.

VIRGIN COMICS LLC
Devi TPB, $14.99
John Woos Seven Brothers TPB, $14.99
Snakewoman TPB, $14.99

I believe these represent Virgin’s first TPBs, a welcome sight that will get me to give a couple of their titles a second look, particularly Snakewoman, which piqued my interest ever so slightly with its first issue before completely dropping off my radar.


* ETA: I haven’t mentioned it in a while, and this would have been an appropriate time to do so, but my “Pick of the Week” doesn’t necessarily mean I think something is good, only that it’s worth a look. In this case, it’s purely about Banzai Girl’s curiousity factor in the context of recent debates here and throughout the blogiverse.

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