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Author Topic: The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog  (Read 3448 times)

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Offline EllipsisTopic starter

The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog
« on: March 08, 2013, 07:47:42 pm »

To start, this blog is intended to serve as my reintroduction to the world of comics. I’ve been out of the loop for quite some time and I found myself exhausted of standard superheroes. Between blockbuster Hollywood films and the overwhelming amount of Marvel and DC content, I’ve decided to try my hand at more “alternative” comics and graphic novels. I use that term loosely to what I consider content that is apart from your usual masked vigilantes, though there’s nothing wrong with them. In fact, I have several volumes of Ultimate X-Men boxed up somewhere. This renewal of interest was sparked by some beautiful artwork of Saga I happened to find on Tumblr. I asked a friend of mine, my go-to comic book guru, if he’d heard of it and his response was, “YES AND YOU HAVE TO READ IT!” Since I had planned on picking up one, and Amazon throws in free shipping on certain orders of $25+, I figured I’d throw in a few more.

With this blog, I hope to keep track of what I’m reading and what I hope to read. I also plan on making monthly updates. I can probably afford to buy one volume a month, though that's not set in stone. On a personal note, I prefer to buy trade paperback volumes instead of individual issues. It’s more of a time and cost thing. Often, tracking down issues can be a pain and I find it more enjoyable to have several bundled together. For those of you interested, I mainly buy them on Amazon because some of the used prices are just amazing. For issues, I’ve browsed through sites like Midtown Comics and Things From Another World.

I welcome any suggestions or recommendations as well. Or even just a discussion about things I’ve posted. I will keep the actual content of the comics to a minimum to avoid spoilers for others, though I’m always willing to discuss the particulars of something via PM. Reviews will be for current comics only. One's I've read in the past probably won't appear, though I don't mind answering any questions.

Below I’ve organized the latest comics that I’ve read. Reviews will follow and links will be provided. Then, there’s the comic I am currently working through and a reading list. They books are listed in the order I hope to read them. Lastly, I’ve created a buying list to keep track of the ones I’d like to pick up at some point and those are merely alphabetical. Links list will take you to the publishers' websites.

Currently Reading
*Cyber Force #1

Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile - Review
Morning Glories Vol. 1: For A Better Future - Review
Saga Vol. 1 - Review Coming Soon!

Reading List
I Love Trouble #1
Chew Vol. 1: Taster's Choice
Ozma of Oz Vol. 1
Lady Mechanika #0
*Artifacts #1
Morning Glories Vol. 2: All Will Be Free
*The Manhattan Projects #1
*Mind The Gap #1
I, Vampire #1
*Fatale #1
*Madame Mirage #1
*Bedlam #1
Triggergirl 6 #1
*Girls #1
*Nowhere Men #1
*Box 13 #1

Shopping List
American Vampire Vol. 2
Cyber Force Vol. 1: Rebirth
Executive Assistant Iris #1
Fables Vol. 2: Animal Farm
Five Weapons #1
Gotham City Sirens #1
Haunted City #1
Jupiter's Legacy #1 - Released 4/24
Kill Shakespeare #1
Lady Mechanika #1
The Manhattan Projects Vol. 1: Science. Bad.
Neozoic #1
Polarity #1
reMIND Vol. 1
Revival Vol. 1: You're Among Friends
Saga #7
Sky Doll Vol. 1
Tank Girl
Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned

* Denotes a free issue acquired digitally, usually though Comixology.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 05:16:18 pm by Ellipsis »

Offline owen84

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Re: The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2013, 06:43:23 am »
Always wanted to read tank girl but never got around to it. So ye let me know how that is.

Offline EllipsisTopic starter

Re: The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2013, 01:00:33 pm »

Starting last night, Marvel has decided to release over 700 first issues for free. This will continue until Tuesday, March 12 at 11PM Eastern Time, so get them while you can. The first issues available range from classic titles to some that are more recent, so there's a wide breadth in terms of selection. You can download these issues from Marvel's digital shop or from their smartphone app. I believe the app exists for both Android and iPhone. A link to the announcement can be found here.

UPDATE: For those of you trying to look through the content, Marvel's servers are having a tough time keeping up with the traffic. It's been a headache constantly refreshing pages. Hopefully, Marvel will either fix the problem or extend the deadline.

UPDATE: As of right now, the promotion has been halted until the server problem gets fixed. Here is an announcement made by ComiXology. You can also sign up to be notified once things are fixed and the promotion has continued.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 07:09:02 pm by Ellipsis »

Offline EllipsisTopic starter

Re: The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2013, 03:32:52 pm »

My comic book haul for today. I was only supposed to keep to one, but...things happen.  :P  I actually went to two stores with my roommate before we caught a movie this afternoon. I frequented a particular comic book shop in my previous city before moving for college. Here, I haven't been to any so this was my first outing. The first shop was super disappointing - poor organization, limited issues, unhelpful staff. The second was amazing and they're having a "Ladies' Night" at the end of the month.

From left to right:
I Love Trouble #1
I, Vampire #1
Triggergirl 6 #1

Offline EllipsisTopic starter

Re: The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2013, 08:49:28 pm »

Title: Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
Publisher: Vertigo
  • Writer - Bill Willingham
  • Penciller - Lan Medina
  • Inkers - Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton
  • Colorist - Sherilyn van Valkenburgh
  • Letterer - Todd Klein
Pages: 160; Issues #1-5
Extras: An introduction and two short stories by Bill Willingham (one written and one illustrated), a preview of Fables Vol. 2: Animal Farm, and a preview of Fairest Vol. 1: Wide Awake.


First off, the entire volume is in color. Most trade paperbacks tend to be. The pages are very newspaper-y and personally, I was afraid of tearing one because they felt really delicate. They also leave that feeling on your fingers that you get after handling a standard newspaper. I know these are minor things, but it came as a surprise when I opened it, especially when compared to the glossier, more durable pages in Morning Glories.

I must say that I'm extremely picky when it comes to artwork. There have been times when art has prevented me from buying a comic book, graphic novel, or manga. I didn't hate the illustrations. I would say the style is very classic and they're very reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein's pop art. Each chapter (there are five in total), they've included the cover art of the corresponding issues. While I did like seeing them and having them practically applied as separators between chapters, the cover art in my opinion conflicts with the content artwork. In fairness, I do believe the cover art is done by someone else. Mark Buckingham, I believe. I can understand putting a bit more flair into covers. After all, they need to attract readers at a glance, but I'm a bit anal retentive when it comes to continuity.  :-[   

Overall though, I don't want to make it seem like I was disappointed. I wasn't. A lot of details are packed into the panels and they've illustrated the cast of characters really well. Fables includes notable characters like Snow White, Bluebeard, Prince Charming, and the Big, Bad Wolf, and they all get their own modern revamping. I don't watch Once Upon A Time; however, my roommate does and I think that particular audience would enjoy something like this.


Synopsis taken from Vertigo website:

When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society-within an exclusive luxury apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side-called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Bigby, Fabletown's sheriff, and a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the culprit is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.
The first volume just scratches the surface, but that's pretty typical of first volumes. It feels more like a self-contained vignette because the larger issue of the Adversary takes more of a backseat to Rose Red's disappearance. It briefly touches on how they lost their lands, but questions about who or what the Adversary is and the current state of their lands now remain unanswered. I'm still fuzzy on the details of how they made their way to New York and where their lands exist geographically. Is it in another dimension? Or does it exist in a secret realm? I need to know!

In these first five issues, we're introduced to a handful of characters, who I assume are going to be the main players. Snow White, Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Wolf, Bluebeard, King Cole, Jack (Jack and the Beanstalk), Little Boy Blue, etc. However, characters who are unable to alter their forms, such as the Three Little Pigs, are kept on a piece of land called the Farm in upstate New York. While it's nice to see some childhood favorites in the mix, I feel the volume was a little overloaded. It's easy to keep the characters straight, but most of their appearances, save for the few main characters (i.e. Snow White), were superficial. For example, Cinderella has a brief conversation with Bluebeard, but she doesn't play much of a role in the volume. You do get to see her utter the phrase "turd sandwich" while engaging in a fencing match, so that's pretty awesome.

The volume wraps up rather nicely. Too nicely, in fact. It was more like a "Same Bat Time. Same Bat Channel." sort of thing, where you have to tune in next time. Aside of the sporadic allusions to growing tensions regarding the Adversary and the reclaiming of their homelands, it felt very much like a standalone piece. The extras were nice. Bill Willingham's other work, Fairest, has a neat concept and the art is more modern, or at least it appeared that way in the preview. The preview to the second volume of Fables is probably the leading reason why I'll pick up the next one. In the preview, Snow White heads up to The Farm to check up with the residents and realizes there's some dissent brewing, as some see the Farm as more of a prison. I really want to get into the bulk of the larger issue surrounding the citizens of Fabletown, rather than solving temporary mysteries.

Offline EllipsisTopic starter

Re: The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2013, 09:50:27 pm »

Title: Morning Glories Vol. 1: For A Better Future
Publisher: Image
  • Writer - Nick Spencer
  • Art - Joe Eisma
  • Covers - Rodin Esquejo
  • Colorist - Alex Sollazzo
  • Letterer - Johnny Lowe
  • Design - Tim Daniel
Pages: 192; Issues #1- 6
Extras: N/A


Holy crap, do I love the artwork in Morning Glories! It's detailed, modern, sharp, and the issue is full of glossy pages in full color. I would say this is probably the first comic I've picked up that's actually displayed such graphic violence. I can't remember any eyes popping out of people's faces in Ultimate X-Men. Each cover features one of the six main characters; however, I preferred their appearance in the actually comic rather than the overdone, stylized artwork. Then again, that tends to be the nature of cover art. I've noticed that a lot of the panels happen to have a distinct color palette or theme. Sometimes it'll be warm colors like golds, yellows, and burgundies. These tend to occur when the panels are set in the hallways or other public areas of the school. In places like what I assume to be the school's basement, there are more blues and grays. Cool colors. Then you'll have a pop of red blood. It's really all well done and aesthetically pleasing. I feel as though a lot of thought was put into color choice and how it functions with the setting/atmosphere of the panels.

With character creation, you have the usual cast of busty females. To me, it looks as though the women are on the verge of popping a button and putting someone's eye out. That being said, they remain relatively clothed, even during a particularly intense water scene. The six protagonists were all relatively easy to differentiate between because they have very distinct looks. It was with the secondary characters that I tended to confuse me. Three or four teachers, a school nurse, other students, etc. They really weren't distinct enough in looks to demand specific attention. For example, the three main girls have a fourth roommate and I had to go back a couple pages because I couldn't remember her name.  :-[ This may not be a problem for other readers and a couple of these characters were used merely as a plot device, but I prefer a solid, small group of characters. I'm going to assume that in the second volume, it'll be more obvious as to who the main players are, specially the antagonists.


Synopsis taken from Image website:

Morning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country, but something sinister and deadly lurks behind its walls. When six gifted but troubled new students arrive, they find themselves trapped and fighting for their lives as the secrets of the academy reveal themselves!.
My friend described Morning Glories as being similar to LOST; at the end of each section, you're left with more and more questions and very little answers. And he was right. However, with LOST, I quickly became frustrated with it and my desire to watch the show dissolved. Oh, I know I'm in the minority here. With Morning Glories, I didn't get that feeling. Not even once. Then again, I'm only one volume into it. At the end, it was certainly a "Holy shit. What the hell is going on?" moment, but it was sooo good. It was completely entertaining the whole way through and unlike Fables, I felt like the content was a part of the bigger story, rather than just giving me what felt like a quick vignette.

A majority of the first volume consists of introducing the six students. Three boys and three girls. It felt very reminiscent of The Breakfast Club to me. Each student appears to be attributed to a stereotype - kid from a broken home, rich troublemaker, strong & silent, girl with loose morals, intelligent yet humble, "emo" (I use the term here because that's how she's described on several occasions within the volume). At first, I was disappointed that the writer chose to go this route. It felt too cliche and corny. However, as the story continues, the stereotypes ebb a little bit. Not fully, but it isn't used as a crutch to be the sole explanation for the characters' personalities.

I was really surprised at how violent and gory the content was. I really wasn't expecting it, to be honest. It's not really a complaint, but those that are expecting more of teen drama vibe may be disappointed. I also have a slight complaint. While the creators have no qualms will depicting a man getting his brains essentially emulsified, curse words are often censored by using symbols (e.g. @#$%ing). I don't get it, though it's only a minor gripe and it certainly didn't detract me from enjoying the content as a whole.

Without a doubt, I'll be buying the second volume. Maybe even this weekend. The storyline is complex and engaging. I'm one of those readers that constantly tries to figure things out ahead of time, but between the flashbacks, the weird mechanical devices lurking somewhere in the school, and people writing cryptic messages in blood on the walls, I'm completely stumped so far. The last chapter included in the volume really confused the hell out of me. It also ended on a cliffhanger. So if you hate those, I'd suggest having the next volume on hand. I also really can't think of anyone who wouldn't like giving this a read.

Offline EllipsisTopic starter

Re: The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2013, 12:42:42 pm »
So I'm heading to a Ladies' Night event this Friday at a local comic book shop. My tentative shopping list consists of Morning Glories Vol. 2, Gotham City Sirens #1, and/or Lady Mechanika #1. I'm also open to any suggestions or recommendations, if there's something you'd like to see reviewed or you just want to suggest something you think I'd like.

Offline EllipsisTopic starter

Re: The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2013, 05:18:48 pm »

My spoils from Ladies' Night. I apologize for my wrinkled sheets. Unfortunately, they didn't have Gotham City Sirens #1 or Lady Mechanika #1. However, I picked up #0 for Lady Mechanika just to get my feet wet. They were also giving out free volumes. I chose Ozma of Oz, but the other two choices were Pride and Prejudice and Girl Comics.

From left to right:
Morning Glories Vol. 2: All Will Be Free
Lady Mechanika #0
Ozma of Oz Vol. 1

Offline EllipsisTopic starter

Re: The Back Issues - A Comic Book & Graphic Novel Review Blog
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 09:10:24 am »

The Marvel promotion is back on! Starting at 9am ET and going until 11:59pm ET on 4/9, you'll have the opportunity to sign up to receive an invite. On Thursday (4/11), you'll be able to access these 700 free digital issues, though I do believe you'll only have 48 hours to grab the ones you want.

To sign up, visit this link.