Posts Tagged ‘Marvel Comics’

“The one where Ian tells Jose that Scott Snyder and Jock’s Detective Comics #871 is his pick for the BEST COMIC of 2010!”

DECEMBER 7, 2010


We hope you have as much fun listening as we did making this podcast!


‘Tis The Season To Tell It Like It Is… And Insideman Ian MacMillan and Comic Retailer/Webmaster/Vlogger & Blogger Extraordinaire Jose Melendez prescribe a MASSIVE LUMP OF COAL as  a “present” for the ill-advised, ill-conceived and illogical REBOOT of Buffy the Vampire Slayer– the EXACT same film being promoted by a slew of powerful filmmakers who have decided it’s “A-OK” to proceed WITHOUT the participation of Buffy’s Creator and Guiding Master, Joss Whedon.

Not satisfied with simply sampling that cold, pitiful bowl of winter gruel, The Boys then turn their attention to Dan Slott’s second “solo” issue of Amazing Spider-man– Issue #649. Unfortunately, things are much worse than were initially anticipated and look to be going downhill fast. Listen in SORROW as Peter Parker REGRESSES back to his bumbling, immature, lying persona of 20+ years ago! Sadly, this is the among the book’s LEAST offenses. WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS NUMEROUS RANTS & CAN BE ADDICTIVE TO PEOPLE WHO ENJOY ACTIVE INTELLIGENT DISCOURSE ON COMICS.

NEXT UP: Batwoman #0. KATE KANE is one of Jose’s favorite characters from the Batman Family. Find out if Issue #0 meets ALREADY HIGH expectations or defeats Mr. Melendez INSIDE the PODCAST! Cringe in fear as Ian– ever in need of realism– takes the writers to task for one of the silliest time snafus to ever appear in Modern Comics.

SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST, Jose and Ian serve up a HEALTHY EXAMINATION of ONE of 2010’s BEST COMICS (if not the ABSOLUTE BEST): Writer Scott Snyder and Artist Jock’s Detective Comics #871.

Already SOLD OUT and SLATED FOR A 2ND PRINT, sit back with a smooth cup of Apple Cider and warm the cockles of your heart as you discover that, in fact, these TWO COMIC BOOK GRINCHES BOTH REALLY DO HAVE HEARTS… As long as they are DISCUSSING QUALITY COMIC BOOKS written and drawn by TALENTED, CONSCIENTIOUS CREATORS, that is.

It is a discussion you do NOT want to miss… As you’ll learn more about WHAT MAKES A GOOD COMIC than you EVER thought possible– and in just a few minutes!


ALL in ALL… A JAM PACKED HOUR (PLUS a few more BONUS minutes!) sure to INFLAME & INSPIRE. You’ll laugh, You’ll cry… But BEST of all, you’ll FEEL LIKE A COMIC FAN!

Hosted by Jose Melendez and Insideman, the Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast is a no-holds barred straight-forward examination and opinion forum concentrating on virtually ALL forms of media and pop culture, including: Comic Books, Television, Film & Music.

If you click on the NEW “Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast #4″ PODCAST PLAYER above, you should be able to listen to the full podcast IMMEDIATELY.

You can also download and/or just listen to this LATEST PODCAST on the DEDICATED IMJ PODCAST PAGE at… Where you can also listen and/or download ALL of the PREVIOUS PODCASTS from the Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast Vaults!

And later, look for Enhanced Video versions of this Podcast at the

Inveterate Media Junkies YouTube Channel


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“The one where Jose asks Ian what the HELL is going on in the creative process of American comic books?”

NOVEMBER 28, 2010


We hope you have as much fun listening as we did making this podcast!


Joltin’ Jose Melendez and Insideman Ian MacMillan briefly discuss the supposed impending, needless and most certainly temporary DEATH of Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man by the infamous sales powerhouses Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis. Ian & Jose then launch into SPINE TINGLING REVIEWS of Millar’s SUPERIOR #1 & #2 and BENDIS’ AVENGERS #7. Have Marvel’s not-always-so-dynamic-duo FINALLY seen the light and started creating comics that rise above their normal less-than-noble output or do these new offerings sink to depths previously unknown?


Leaving no stone unturned, the boys then sharpen their steely gaze on BATMAN: THE RETURN and compare that $4.99 Grant Morrison / David Finch 30-page One Shot comic book to Grant Morrison & Yanick Paquette’s BATMAN, INC #1. Find out if Jose and Ian believe that Morrison is, in fact, a two-faced devil with the power to both SUCK and SHINE in the same week… And whether Mr. Melendez has come to praise or bury ARTISTS turned ARTISTS/WRITERS David Finch and Tony Daniel.

UP ON THE GRILL: Superior #1 & #2, Avengers #7, Batman: The Return and Batman, Inc #1! Is it FEAST or FAMINE? Your fate awaits!

Grab a cup of HOT COCOA– or a Jack Daniels “neat”– depending upon your age & predilections… And enjoy a BRAND NEW PODCAST with almost FIFTEEN MINUTES of BONUS EXTRAS!

Hosted by Jose Melendez and Insideman, the Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast is a no-holds barred straight-forward examination and opinion forum concentrating on virtually ALL forms of media and pop culture, including: Comic Books, Television, Film & Music.

If you click on the NEW “Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast #3″ PODCAST PLAYER above, you should be able to listen to the full podcast IMMEDIATELY.

You can also download and/or just listen to this LATEST PODCAST on the DEDICATED IMJ PODCAST PAGE at… Where you can also listen and/or download ALL of the PREVIOUS PODCASTS from the Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast Vaults!
And look for the Enhanced Video versions at the
Inveterate Media Junkies YouTube Channel


“The one where Jose tells Ian he’s Number 1, then treats him like Number 2.”

NOVEMBER 16, 2010

Inveterate Media Junkies PODCAST #2 PART 1

We hope you have as much fun listening as we did making this podcast!

Jose Melendez and Insideman Ian MacMillan discuss the MASSIVE RECEPTION to the 1st Podcast, the SURPRISE APPEARANCE of ENHANCED You Tube Videos, take a HARD LOOK at the crappy COMIC SALES FIGURES for October, stir up trouble about some IDIOCY concerning J. Michael Stracynski’s move to writing ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVELS ONLY and then take a BIG WHACK at the NEW TITLES that Marvel sadly deemed “good enough” to appear in their FALL “SNEAK PEEKS” issue.

Jose then puts to rest ALL YOUR QUESTIONS about why there are so many Iron Man, Captain America and Thor mini-series in the shops right now…  And warns you that you are staring at the TIP OF THE ICEBERG.


If you click on the “Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast #2 Part 1″ link (in light blue) above, you will be taken to a SEPARATE PAGE where you can listen to a Quicktime version of the podcast.

If you use a PC and do NOT have Quicktime– you can download it quickly and easily here:

For the few folks who are still having trouble playing the PODCAST LINK — click the link below (or paste the address into your browser) to go to our BRAND NEW PODCAST HOST…!

There you can download and/or just listen to this LATEST PODCAST on the DEDICATED IMJ PODCAST PAGE… And you can also listen and/or download ALL of the PREVIOUS PODCASTS from the Inveterate Media Junkies Vaults!

PART 2 of the IMJ Podcast #2 will be posted next!

And look for the Enhanced Video versions at the

Inveterate Media Junkies YouTube Channel

hopefully this weekend!


NOVEMBER 10, 2010

Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast #1 PART TWO

We hope you have as much fun listening as we did making this podcast!

If you would like to listen to PART ONE of the 1st Inveterate Media Junky Podcast


A few folks are having trouble playing the PODCAST LINK. If you use a PC and do NOT have Quicktime– you can download it quickly and easily here:

Otherwise, please feel free to visit the PERMANENT Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast Site

You can DOWNLOAD a copy of the PODCAST there– which will play back on various players– including REAL PLAYER.


NOVEMBER 8, 2010

Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast #1 Part 1

We hope you have as much fun listening as we did making this podcast!

A few folks are having trouble playing the PODCAST LINK.’s “Media Players” are NOT currently working properly. If you click on the “Inveterate Media Junkies Podcast #1 Part 1″ link (in light blue) above, you will be taken to a SEPARATE PAGE where you can listen to a Quicktime version of the podcast.

If you use a PC and do NOT have Quicktime– you can download it quickly and easily here:

(It is a player you’ll definitely want if you don’t already have it.)

Otherwise, please feel free to visit the Inveterate Media Junkies Permanent Podcast Page at

You can DOWNLOAD a copy of the PODCAST there– which will play back on various players– including REAL PLAYER.

Again, many apologies for the WORD PRESS glitches. We have a “work ticket” in progress with them and hope to have these issues solved shortly.


(Hopefully with all the GLITCHES fixed!)



Many readers may remember that when I first heard about the Black Panther taking over for Daredevil, I had what I thought were some very legitimate concerns.

Here’s some of what I had to say (the whole post, brilliant in its own right, can be found HERE):

“As the Black Panther, T’Challa has spent his entire life either preparing to be– or being– the KING of WAKANDA. His interactions with regular “average” American citizens have been few– with Christopher Priest’s short run on Black Panther Volume 2 being about the only concerted effort to have the man interact with “regular”people on the mean streets. Otherwise, the ruler has spent vast amounts of his time hanging with SUPERHEROES and SUPER VILLAINS– and being KING. Hardly a conduit to understanding the “every man”.

So all my good thoughts for Marvel’s “Who Will Be the Next Man Without Fear?’ promotion were instantly blown to hell– dashed to bits on the harsh shores of reality. (Purple prose? Love it!) The book’s new creative team may play T’Challa as “streetwise” (hopefully they won’t) but just because the former King has been in some hairy situations in the past– chasing after Dr. Doom while perched on top of the Fantasticar does not make for beaucoup street smarts.”

It seems (emphasis on seems) that the Marvel creatives in charge of this switch have actually anticipated the questions that I raised... And that is a great thing. I love it when conscientious comic professionals actually get together and work through an idea. It’s amazing what happens when a writer or writer/artist isn’t arbitrarily given the Keys to the Kingdom and allowed to childishly run rampant through a character’s past, present and future like it was some huge toy box.

Black Panther, Man without Fear writer David Liss definitely seems to be hitting all the right character moments in the Newsarama Preview. T’Challa is unfamiliar with his surroundings but no idiot either… He’s determined to learn his territory and the people and dangers living within. The sequences between the former King of Wakanda and the Devil Diner’s janitor and the interviewing Serbian waitress are excellent CHARACTER touchstones– and hopefully what we can expect for the future of this new series.


Just remember his is essentially a 5 Page Preview of the first issue. It is not an entire comic– let alone a full story arc. Let’s all wish it gets even better and promise to check back in a few months to see how things are going, OK?





Then gawk at the Captain America Super Soldier Trailer!

It’s a shame that such a COOL game trailer was released– only to have the Distinguished Competition focus everyone’s attention on their $1 comic book price decrease!

Watch now and enjoy a HOT game trailer that literally BEATS THE EVER-LOVIN’ CRAP out of that Thor Game Teaser Trailer released last month!

Take Note, True Believers!


is writing this video game!

Therefore, sight virtually unseen– I am comfortable stating that the story and dialogue WILL ROCK!

Random Rants™! are rants too tiny to warrant their own post but still significant (IMO) to be mentioned. As my schedule ebbs or grows, this feature will also allow me to throw something out to the blogosphere– without investing two hours in it.

Think Tweets– with hopefully a little more meat.


There's a big difference between acting like a PR PUPPET and actually writing an HONEST book review

First Bit o’ Business:

A note about a column that almost wasInsideman’s Guide to Upcoming Hardcovers and Graphic Novels. With the helpful aid of Mr. Jose Melendez, I worked out the details with frequent SAYL commenter Locusmortis– who writes a similar monthly column focused on upcoming floppy releases for the CCW*TV Blog. Even though my column would be completely different, written in my style– I still wanted to check in and alert Locusmortis to what I had planned. I’m one of the few fuckers in Hwood who attempts to work with people– as opposed to always taking the shortest route… Which, in this town, is normally straight through them.

You won't see me reviewing Fables Volume 14: Witches GN until after it comes out in December 2010

Satisfied that all the ducks were in a row, I sat down with the distributor’s monthly catalog and began looking intently through the book offerings. It didn’t take me long to realize that this kind of column– focusing solely on comic book collections– would not work unless I had read the stories in advance… And by the time these Trades or Hardcovers see print– the monthly comics will have long been dissected/reviewed by a million different comic-centric websites or blogs… Sometimes as long as 8 months to a year earlier.

The fact is I would not be commenting on new material 99.8% of the time. Besides the Vertigo Crime line (a series of mostly great original black & white books that, sadly, might yet be another casualty of  the Jim Lee/Dan Didio/Geoff Johns DC Comics era)– there is precious little work being printed in collected form that still doesn’t see print as a floppy first. And as more and more companies flog and steer people toward the release of digital floppies, I truly foresee a day when the only way you can buy a PHYSICAL COPY of a comic book is by purchasing a hardcover or trade paperback collection.

But that’s the future and I would be writing this new column today.

If I don’t read the floppies and I don’t read the collections in advance, how in the hell can I really recommend a collection of said stories? What NEW ELEMENT could I bring to the table by adding this column to the SAYL Blog? Speculation on what type of binding (hot glue or stitched) they might decide to use on each book? (Nerd Fact: Almost 100% of all comics collections use the cheaper, simpler hot glue method for binding the stories together.)

Recommending something you haven’t read is a slippery slope I dare not tread. Just like most film stars nowadays, there are precious few comic book pros that you can automatically assume will always hit their next project out of the park. At $3.99 per comic or $24.99 to $29.99 per hardcover– that is an investment that very few are willing to make without at least reading one or two reviews first… No matter whose name is on the cover. I certainly don’t want to recommend anything on the basis of a name. I don’t want anyone investing money in something just because I think it might be good. I also don’t want to play fast and loose with personal friendships or professional relationships– only to find my subconscious urging me to recommend something I haven’t experienced just because a friend or business associate of mine created something.

So a column ends before it ever begins. I feel much more comfortable talking in-depth about books after I read them. That way I can give you a fair assessment in a review– just like I did with the inaugural review column Love, Dislike or Indifference – Rating 30 Recent Hardcovers & Graphic Novels. For those who care, I’ll try to do more of these shorter book reviews more often… Especially after a good friend pointed out that my 30 reviews could have easily been halved to 15 or even cut down to 10 reviews per column… With the bulk of the content spaced out over time. Oops! I often can be far too exuberant for my own good.


Your Forecast: Partly Cloudy with 100% Chance of Batmen

Here’s a little factoid that’s liable to blow your mind:

As I began searching through the September 2010 catalog to research the column that never was (detailed above), I came upon the DC Comics section– where I counted 14 PAGES (including the cover) solely promoting the BATMAN FAMILY line of books.

If you are familiar with CCW*TV Blog veteran and Ultimate Bat-Fan™ Stamps 1723– you’ll know that she will never think of this as Bat Overkill. She’ll believe it’s more like Bat Heaven… Or, at the very least, an embarrassment of Bat Riches.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bats too. In many ways, he gave me one of my worst and best movie roles… But we’re talking 19 Batman related comic books in one month– and that number does NOT include issues of Superman/Batman, the Dark Knight on the cover of either Brightest Day #13 or #14 (if the prelim art is to be believed), Bats on the cover of DC Universe Legacies #7, DC Comics Presents Batman #2, The All New Brave and the Bold #1 + 5 more Trade Paperbacks or Hardcovers and a $60 Harley Quinn Bust.

Do you know how much all this will cost? I guess I could have tallied it up when I was looking it all up– but I didn’t. Let’s indulge my laziness and just state with the utmost certainty that all this Bat Stuff is going to cost a Bat Shitload… Maybe even more than some people pay for rent on any given month.

Flogged to Death. The mere thought of this bastard irritates me.

This quite obviously is one of the ways that DC has decided to increase their market share. Flooding the market with your most popular character (or characters) is a time-honored tradition at the Big Two (Marvel & DC Comics). Think Punisher, X-Men, Wolverine and Deadpool just to name a few… And do a double take when you realize that EVERY CHARACTER I just listed was a MARVEL character.

So Didio and DC’s unique way of overtaking Marvel Comics as the #1 comic book publisher is to simply act like Marvel Comics and vomit out book after book after book featuring– or strongly related to– one popular character.

The big question is: Can you run a 70-year-old character into the ground– or dilute him so badly that his fan base will just flip the switch and say, “Fuck it. I’m done?” Deadpool– a relative newbie given the years Old Pointy Ears has been patrolling– is suffering a similar fate now… As once hot book after once hot book featuring the disfigured mutant is being systematically shut down due to poor sales.

Want to know what really sucks? I can remember when I thought 4 Batman books in one month were more than enough.


What do you get when you shepherd-- then edit-- the MOSTLY CRITICALLY acclaimed Vertigo title in DECADES? Why, you GET FIRED, of course!

By the time you read this, the “belt-tightening” at DC that “forced the lay-offs” of 3 very talented Vertigo editors will be old news. Ever love a job so much that you would willingly become the cliché and offer to pay your employer for the right to come to work each day? I have. I know for a fact that one of these editors at Vertigo did too. This Stockholm Syndrome affinity for your workplace becomes all the more insane when said dream job disappears overnight. You blame yourself. You blame your co-workers, the economy– even the sleep robbing witch downstairs that blares her music late at night while she lamely performs some half-assed aerobic work out.

Amazingly, it takes most people weeks or months to blame their employer. What people don’t realize is this same thing is going to continue to happen to them and every one they know until they insist on breaking free of corporate America and take the daring, scary jump to go out on their own… And start their own business.

I can’t imagine that any of these fine people will be out of work for long… And I am sure Marvel would love to volley another big fat “I told ya so” at DC after losing the likes of a super creative mind like Paul Cornell to a Distinguished Competition talent exclusive.


The most recent pic of Dan Buckley we could find

Over at CBR/Robot 6, Kevin Melrose is quoting Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley as saying:

“I think it’s the appropriate price point for the entertainment value and quality that we offer in the books. The $3.99 price point was already the price point for limited series and one-shots before we moved some of our regular series up, and we still have several regular series that are at $2.99. If we want to continue to have the talent and the quality that we offer in those books, it’s a price point that we had to explore. What we offer from an entertainment standpoint is pretty solid and I think we should be proud of that.”

So how does that explain $3.99 price points for books that have artists who are just learning to draw comics? Or writers who are just learning to write their first books? Or the fact that some bean counter admitted long ago that he offered up the idea of raising the books’ cover price an arbitrary dollar just to see if the market would bear the huge price increase?

And one last thing: Please get off the “What we offer from an entertainment standpoint is pretty solid…” horse.

Fifteen $3.99 comics equal– or cost a few dollars more– then a brand new Video Game. You read the books in two hours or less. The video game takes 60+ hours to play. (It would take me 100+ hours to play.) If you just purchased an average stack of comics that week, you would be lucky to sell them on eBay for half off ($22.50). Meanwhile, you can quickly sell the video game back to any number of outlets and score a $30+ trade in fee– with none of the extra charges that you incur when placing an auction on eBay.

(Thanks to Jose Melendez for the link.)


Over at IGN, they’re trying to scare up some page views by asking if Robert Kirkman is ending The Walking Dead. They are using these 4 Teaser Posters to prop up their argument:

Don't believe everything you read

As usual, a brilliant marketing plan by Kirkman & Company– ratcheting up the comic’s action and suspense just as The Walking Dead TV Show premieres on AMC.

But it is just that:  A promotional push.

I’m not saying somebody major might not die in this story arc… Since Kirkman has killed many major characters already. But I seriously doubt it will be main character Rick Grimes. Might be his son Carl– but I doubt that too.

While I am certain that Kirkman can do whatever he wants with his book– I doubt he, director Frank Darabont or AMC want him to kill off the series most recognizable characters now. People who watch the show and then decide to pick up the comic will be awfully confused if there is no Rick running around inside the book. As it stands, comic buyers that come to the series via TV will have to digest Rick’s lack of a hand– an injury that Darabont seemed to think would not be happening on the TV show anytime soon– if at all.

And the idea that this is story arc could mark the COMPLETE END of The Walking Dead comic? Puh-leeze!

Again, it’s just IGN hyperbole to attract web surfers. Kirkman would be crazier than Christine O’Donnell to end the book now. I could see a new series with new survivors popping up some day– but again, that would currently screw whatever continuity will exist between the book and the show once Halloween night rolls around.


ROBERT KIRKMAN-- Hard at work tending to his CASH COW

A lot of what is about to happen in the Spider-man books is all rumor and conjecture. As Dan Slott takes over as the sole writer of Amazing Spider-man with issue #648, there seems to be at least ONE costume change (if not THREE) and some “gadgets” (whatever in the hell that means) that will eventually be added to the mix.

Here’s the cover image for Amazing Spider-man #650:


As Spidey Patrols, A Nation Pukes

There is no word on how long this Tron-like* abomination will stick around or when and if the “gadgets” will appear or disappear.

Either way, it just seems more like a return to the horribly absurd 90’s.

Anybody that’s been collecting for a few years knows that costume changes always sell big– especially when they occur in Spider-man comics. But this one is, well, crap. It feels like a cross between Spider-Man 2099 and the laugh inducing Electric Blue Superman.


Awww Christ! The agony!

And before anybody goes all bug-nut crazy on me– this post is not a slam against Slott. It’s more of a collective sigh that Marvel is going in this direction. Slott’s talented and seems like a nice man. But I thought that all that Brand New Day and O.M.I.T. bullshit was supposed to take the character back to his roots. You know, “We want Spidey to be the way he used to be.”

None of that seems to be working out.

It’s a shame too– I really thought given the way Slott was geeking out over the opportunity to be Spidey’s main caretaker that we were going to see some solid stories that didn’t rely on smoke and mirrors. Is Marvel really afraid that Spider-man– or any comic for that matter– will not sell just on solid storytelling… So much so that they are back to relying on costume changes and gadgets?


(In all fairness, I first saw Jose Melendez at the CCW*TV Blog compare the new Spider-man costume to Tron outfits. )


❤ = LOVE



It’s simple: a GREEN HEART means I loved the book, a RED SKULL & CROSSBONES means I extremely disliked the book (I attempt to reserve the word HATE for things I truly hate– and I try not to hate on inanimate objects) and the INDIFFERENT PINK SNOWMAN is just a “Meh. Who cares?” moment.

I offer short commentary with very few– if any– spoilers!

I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it is worse that I dislike a book or worse that I don’t give a shit either way.

Please note: The books are listed in no particular order.


Book killed ANY interest I had in this series

Cyberforce Hunter Killer Volume 1 GN ($14.99, TOP COW) You know you’re in fucking trouble when the introduction to the book (written here by AOTS Roving Reporter Blair Herter) makes no sense. Mark Waid’s story is run-of-the-mill and flaccid. Kenneth Rocafort’s art was nice– but also seemed deliberately obtuse and sketchy.

Art: Pretty Story: Sketchy

Invincible Volume 13: Growing Pains GN ($16.99, IMAGE) I’ve read lots better and more cohesive Invincible story lines. Ryan Ottley’s art, as always, is stunning. An apropos middling PINK SNOWMAN for the reuse of the boring PINK SEQUIDS.

I'm that sucker that seemingly gets REBORN almost every Wednesday at the comic book store

Zombie Warriors GN ($14.95, ARCANA) 1st off– silly me– I thought the book was about ZOMBIES. It’s not. It’s about kids injected with a serum that turns them into super-soldiers (sound familiar?) and they are recruited… Oh fuck it, I don’t care. (And you shouldn’t either!)

Just. Shoot. Me.

Frank Castle The Punisher: Naked Kills GN ($19.99, MARVEL) A collection of 4 Punisher One-Shot comics– where 3 out of the 4 stories sucked. The lone winning tale being Jonathan (Rot & Ruin) Maberry’s “Naked Kill”. The rest seemed like the writer’s were stretching their styles to provide various forms of perversion, pain and degradation that Marvel’s MAX imprint normally delivers. While sometimes creative and different, I also did not care for Laurence Campbell’s art.

Thought provoking, cool and barely read

Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter GN ($14.99, MARVEL) To be blunt: I went in with low expectations and came out a True Believer. Sadly, I don’t even remember seeing this comic solicited in “floppy” form. Kieron Gillen‘s story is thought provoking without being pedantic– showing how anyone, hero or not, can go too far in the pursuit of justice. Since I’ve seen NO promotion, I’m guessing the book sold very poorly… A true shame.


Avengers/X-men: Utopia HC ($39.99, MARVEL) That’s a lotta money laid out to come away feeling indifferent. This book meanders through the Avengers/X-men conflict as Cyclops bridles under Norman Osborn’s H.A.M.M.E.R regime. Fairly boiler plate stuff. Paul Cornell’s “Dark X-men, The Beginning” short is the best story in the bunch– but certainly not worth spending $39.99 over. If you need to know what happens in this book– later issues of the X-men comic will most certainly fill you in. I’m sure those book’s descriptions of what happened in this hardcover are much more exciting than what actually did happen here. Luke Ross’s art on a couple of stories was also very jarring– when compared to the other artists used in the collection.

Jeff Parker-- Hindered by poor subject matter

Marvel 1602: Spider-man HC ($19.99, MARVEL) I reluctantly gave this HC a so-so grade– especially since “average” Jeff Parker stories are normally 10x better than the rest of Marvel’s output. Given the constrictions inherent in the Marvel 1602 era– Parker’s story stands as a cut above any other spin-offs to Neil Gaiman’s original series. It was a sort of cute idea when Gaiman did it but it needs to stop now.

Sadly, I feel gypped

Runaways: Homeschooling HC ($19.99, Marvel) This book earns its’ mediocre grade because it is one of those semi-coherent, slapdash affairs that Marvel seems to be so fond of printing as of late. In this new Hardcover/Graphic Novel era, the Marvel Powers That Be seemingly have never seen a story that they didn’t feel deserved to be collected for one final cash grab. What’s sad here is the first 4 issues of Homeschooling– written by Kathryn Immonen and drawn by Sara Pichelli– are killer… A fine return to form for a book that surprisingly floundered under the crushingly bad stories written by Terry “Echo” Moore. So why didn’t I like it? Well instead of giving us 5 or 6 issues of coherent continuity– Marvel throws C.B. Cebulski’s “What If the Runaways Became the Young Avengers?” into the back of the hardcover. This may be a perfectly fine story in its own right… But put in at the back of this book at such a critical juncture in the ongoing story line left me feeling confused, gypped and angry. I wanted to see more of the current story I paid to read. If I wanted to read a “What If?” tale then I would have bought one of Marvel’s “What If?” collections. An “A+” for the first 4/5th’s of the book and a “D” for the What If? story… Simply because it is not where it should be. I got so mad when I realized they weren’t going to continue the regular story that I read the first 3 pages of the Cebulski story and then slammed the book covers together. (I dislike decisions that waste my time.)

A great Invincible book-- without Invincible

Invincible Presents Volume One: Atom Eve & Rex Splode GN ($14.99, Image) If you told me I would have liked this book better than the most recent Invincible graphic novel– I would have told you that you’re nuts. But I did.


The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft GN ($16.99, Image) I wanted to like this GN, I really did. But in the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to say anything but, “It was okay.” I felt the story dragged on too long. Liked the art. I guess in the end, after reading so many of Michael Alan Nelson’s excellent Cthulhu books from Boom! Studios– maybe I am just Cthulhu’d out. Too much squid, perhaps? Either way– if you need a Cthulhu fix, I suggest the Fall of Cthulhu books from Boom!

This book could have been a contender

Pug GN ($14.99, Image) The is a perfect example of a book being judged by its’ cover. The cover to Pug is vibrant and alive. One of the most striking– yet simple– pieces of artwork to grace a hardcover or graphic novel in many years. Unfortunately the fun stops there. The artwork inside is crude and definitely suffers from not having the great coloring that enhanced the cover. The story is somewhat simple as well. This is what I call a “development” book. While I cannot wholeheartedly endorse this effort– I’ll be back to purchase what they do next. I also did not like the sideways “comic strip” style book format (and I love reading and collecting comic strips collections). I think the use of this different comic book format actually detracted from the reading experience here.

Sweet Mignolas!

B.P.R.D. Volume 13: 1947 GN ($17.99, Dark Horse) I love almost everything to do with Hellboy. Everything. And the B.P.R.D. comic book is no exception. This volume investigates the early days of the B.P.R.D. when Hellboy was just a child. You might understandably wonder, “How exciting is a Hellboy book without Hellboy?” The answer is: DAMN EXCITING. It’s wonderful to watch craftsmen like Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart weave the Hellboy legend– giving life to the many names and faces that pop up in the current comics. It may sound like an investment (and it is)– but if you aren’t reading Hellboy or B.P.R.D. in collected form– then you are missing out. If can afford it, start at the beginning. Dark Horse is good at keeping all these volumes in print– and even if you only bought one trade every other month, you will catch up… And I believe you will be very glad you did.

Super Spy Cinderella

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love GN ($14.99, Vertigo) Shawn McManus is one of the greatest artists in comics and he works so sporadically in the medium that you just want to hunt him down and chain him to a desk until he draws 100 more books. Chris Roberson’s spy story is lots of fun too. I can’t imagine fans of Fables or Jack of Fables not loving every panel of this trade paperback!

It's not gonna change your world but it IS funny and fast paced

The Expendables GN ($16.99, Dynamite) I am trying to figure just what Chuck Dixon did (if anything) to deserve being seemingly “exiled” by the Big Two comic publishers (DC/Marvel). The guy is a damn solid writer who turns in above average work on everything from G.I. Joe to The Expendables. I haven’t seen this movie yet but I know Sylvester Stallone’s writing well enough that I am certain Dixon’s dialogue is funnier. Dark Horse and other publisher’s should give this guy all the work he can handle. Unlike many of his peers who turn into hacks when faced with the perpetual grind of monthly comic book writing– Dixon gets better with age.

Excellent, as usual

The Walking Dead Volume 12: Life Among Them GN ($14.99, Image) Creator Robert Kirkman is leading up to something insanely sinister in this latest volume of the hit Zombie series. His rag-tag group has found a community walled off from the Zombie menace– where children still run the streets playing as if nothing has happened… A concept that can also be found in the excellent Billy Connolly Zombie film Fido. Much like Fido, this Zombie suburb is rotting from the inside. My only gripe? That the graphic novel wasn’t double-sized… So I could keep reading what happens next!

A thought-provoking, excellent read

Absolution GN ($24.99, Avatar) There are days when you just want to read a “straight” superhero story or some science fiction or even a war story. But if you want to read a story that’s almost guaranteed to be OUT THERE– then 9 out of 10 times Avatar’s got the book for you. Christos Gage brings on the provocative in this collection– as a cop superhero kills a bad guy one day and discovers that he likes the expediency of it. When the killing gets easier, he begins to believe it is the only way to do his job. All kinds of different themes get examined here– from the religious to the ethical– and Gage refuses to let any subject off lightly. If you like your hero action in your face and mind bending, then this book’s for you.

There's some sad, nasty shit in here

☠ Ultimate Comics Avengers: Next Generation HC ($24.99, Marvel) Hey, if there’s a red skull and crossbonesit must be Millar time! This is the already infamous story arc that has the Ultimate Red Skull allowing his henchmen to rape a woman right after he throws her infant child out of a third (or fourth) story window. Just ugh, Mark. Just fucking ugh. And you too Joey Q– for allowing this shit to see print.

You won't see comics like this from anybody else

The Sword Volume 4: Air GN ($14.99, Image) The Luna Brothers make me feel schizo. One minute I am beside myself because their sense of story pacing can be so slow, the line art so plain and pedestrian… And the next minute I realize exactly what they are doing and they drag me back in for the rest of the ride. They are intent on creating fantastical stories in mundane, every day worlds. They insist that their main heroes and heroines look exactly like the guys and girls that live next door. Sometimes characters have discussions that restate complete conversations that occurred earlier in the same book– because that’s what people do… They repeat themselves. In many ways, this is the comic book art form at its’ most bare bones and gracious. The Luna Brothers are not trying to assault you. They are trying to tell you a story– nobody’s way but their way. And they always succeed. Check out Girls for some science fiction craziness and Ultra if you want to see the Brothers unique take on the superhero genre.

Starts snazzy, lags in the middle, then dies

Haunted Tank GN ($14.99, Vertigo) When I started reading this book, I thought I was going to really enjoy it. I love crazy stuff. Author Frank Marrafinio takes the conceit of the original Haunted Tank comic series and turns it on its’ ear. Confederate Calvary General Jeb Stuart– cursed forever to defend family members in time of war as a ghost– discovers to his shock that his current descendant is an African-American soldier fighting in Iraq. Cool idea but the sarcasm is never biting enough, racial themes never fully explored enough. Sure this is a Vertigo title– so you are going to read some things that will surprise you… But in the end, you’ll just be asking, “Why did I bother?” Henry Flint’s art is magnificent.

I wanted to like this but there was NO WAY

Koni Waves: The Perfect Wave GN ($19.95, Arcana) Whenever anyone uses the word “perfect” in the title of their creation– they’re jonesing for trouble. Unfortunately, this Arcana collection is no different. Having been introduced to the original Hawaii 5-0 by my parents, I have always been fond of Hawaiian based stories– whether on TV or in comics. The most recent comic example being Mark Murphy’s excellent Tiki Joe Mysteries: The High Stakes Patsy from SLG. Everything Tiki Joe gets right, Koni Waves fails at. Koni Waves offers up a mountain of cheesy dialogue and silly, forgettable plots. The art– pedestrian at best. This is a personal gripe– but I cannot stand to look at page after page of simplified art with virtually NO background objects drawn in. BO-ring.


MySpace Dark Horse Presents Volume 5 GN ($19.99, Dark Horse) I have adored every single one of these Dark Horse collections. Why? Because Dark Horse always makes a point of using some of the BEST creators in the business to make these short story collections. Most of the time these artists and writers are working with properties that they are well known for. Sometimes they are writing and drawing characters that they would never normally be associated with. Like all anthologies, there are winners and losers here. But the good far outweighs the bad. Allow me to direct you to David Malki’s hilarious Wondermark short called “The Gax of Life” and Jesse Reklaw’s great “Going to Work”. Malki showcases the unique humor that drives all of his Wondermark books (some of the coolest hardcovers ever)… While Reklaw writes the most scathing fictional story about the comic book world I have ever seen. Those 2 stories are worth the price of the GN– so other stories by Jeff Parker, Dean (Mister X) Motter, John Arcudi and Matt Kindt (among many others) are all gravy, Baby!


Something's FISHY here... And for once it AIN'T the Sub-mariner!


Invaders: Eve of Destruction GN ($19.99, Marvel) This book literally could be retitled “Bait & Switch”. You think you’re buying an Invaders title– when you truly are buying reprints of Marvel Universe 1-7.  The first three stories are indeed an adequate Invaders story… But the last 4 comics reprinted deal with The Monster Hunters. It’s this kind of bullshit that drives me crazy. I flipped through this book. Knowing that Roger Stern wrote it– and satisfied that the art was decent– I bought it… Only to find that more than half the book had NOTHING to do with the Invaders! WTF? The Monster Hunters do NOT appear anywhere on the front or back covers of this Graphic Novel. They rate a ONE SENTENCE mention on the back of the book in a mini-paragraph. WTF again?!? Marvel, are you so desperate for cash that you are now forced to HOODWINK your customers to generate sales? If so, fuck you!

Carey's Best

The Unwritten Volume 2: Inside Man GN ($12.99, Vertigo) This is a superbly crafted book. Mike Carey’s stories are dumbfoundingly good while Peter Gross’ art is perfectly suited for the subject matter. The final story in this trade revolves around a foul-mouthed rabbit and is one of the funniest, saddest things I have read in a long time. Without a doubt, this is the best series to come out of Vertigo since Bill Willingham’s Fables. What’s conceivably strange here? If you only know Carey from his X-Men work– you will be utterly flummoxed by how mundane that mainstream Marvel stuff is compared to how wonderful these stories are. I’m sure Mike enjoys those fat “X paychecks”– but I wish he would just create another title so he could work on his own projects– instead of working on heavily edited crap for the House that Stan the Man Built.


WTF? A cool retcon? WTF?


Deathlok: The Demolisher HC ($24.99, Marvel) I really liked this book too. Charlie Huston is an excellent comic book writer. Lan Medina’s art meshes well with Huston’s crazy story. Normally I don’t like retcons– but Huston’s version of Deathlok is different enough and creative enough that I didn’t mind it was a retcon that also borrowed a heavy flavor from the original Rollerball movie starring James Cann.

Garth Ennis. 'Nuff Said.

Battlefields Volume 5: The Firefly and His Majesty GN ($12.99, Dynamite) Let me just admit this up front: I believe I have liked or loved almost every single thing that Garth Ennis has ever written… Certainly everything he has created since he came into his “own” as a known comic book writer. This Battlefields GN is no exception. Another excellent entry in the series– with some truly knock-out moments that only a wonderfully imaginative writer like Ennis can supply. Extra points for being the only continuous World War II book currently being published.


Unfortunately, more like INANE in the brain

Wolverine Weapon X Volume 2: Insane in the Brain HC ($24.99, Marvel) I really admire Jason Aaron’s work on Vertigo’s Scalped…. But his Wolverine Weapon X stories– especially in this volume– just doesn’t woo me. First off, I am not a big fan of any form of entertainment that takes two dimensional characters and has them acting in a way that no longer makes them special. Wolverine– for all his inexplicable popularity– is one such character that really suffers from this type of off brand treatment. What Aaron and his editor didn’t seem to understand: Wolverine is really a nothing character. Creators who assign too much feeling or care to the murdering bastard don’t really understand that care is not what Logan is about. Killing is what Logan is about. I would have rather Aaron use his considerable writing skills to take the Killer Wolverine and wrap an exciting, intricate morality tale around that man. Slapping Logan into a pot boiler asylum story worthy of an old Twilight Zone episode presupposes that we care about Wolverine– when, in fact, must of us do not. We only notice him when he’s out being the best he is at what he does: KILLING. Still, Aaron’s writing is good– so I can’t state that the work or idea completely stunk… But I can type I am not the least bit surprised that Marvel canceled the title. Better luck for Aaron’s next iteration of the X-man.



Dark Wolverine Volume 2: My Hero HC ($19.99, Marvel) Can someone tell me how many FUCKING people Daken can slaughter on camera before the “public” no longer trusts him at all? Is it 10, 20, 200? How fucking many? Here he kills 2 more. Threatens some people, walks around in a STUPID mohawk… Awww, who gives a flying fuck? Really?



Wolverine Origins: Seven the Hard Way HC ($19.99, Marvel) The only thing that stops this book for suffering the scarlet stamp of the Red Skull and Crossbones is the VERY LAST IMAGE in the book. Since I am not your Friendly Neighborhood SpoilerI will not tell you about the great reveal at the end. However, I will say that I am very depressed to see how this story line is turning out… Mainly because I actually thought that writer Daniel Way was going somewhere significant with it. I should have realized that when artist Steve Dillon left (and he never seems to leave any series until it comes to a natural conclusion) there was trouble ahead. Some may prefer Braithwaite’s art over Dillon’s. Not me.

Sweet Christmas!

Impaler Volume 2 GN ($14.99, Top Cow) This book accomplished something I thought impossible– it made vampires scary to me again. The great writing by William Harms is moody and dark. The excellent art by Matt Timson adds claustrophobia. Some real unexpected shit inside too… All masterfully played out against a blanket of continuously falling virgin snow. I recommended buying Volume 1 and then reading these 2 collections together. Vampires= Scary. I never would have dreamed it.





Good enough to be a Regular-Sized Comic... But apparently NOT "good enough" to stay that size forever.


How would you like to order a Marvel Trade Paperback only to have it arrive and be 1/3 to 1/2 smaller than you anticipated? My guess is you wouldn’t like it. At all.

Happens to me all the time… And I am sick and fucking tired of buying trades that end up being digest sized books. Worst of all? Marvel sorta seems to being doing all this on the sly…. So don’t feel bad if– like me– you end up buying

See the simplistic art? This SCREAMS younger reader.

lots of books you don’t want because Marvel often buries the specs on their smaller format collections in a mountain of hype. Is it intentional? I have to believe it is– at least partially– since their other digest collections– like Marvel Adventures and their Runaways series–  are clearly marked as being digest sized.

You might think that’s the only reason I harbor such a dislike for these tiny books. You’d be very wrong. I have many reasons… The 2 most basic being 1) As mentioned,  I feel their sizes are often misrepresented in the Marvel Previews descriptions and 2) I don’t believe the smaller publication size is worth the FULL DOLLAR price tags Marvel charges.

How can a digest sized book seriously carry the same price tag as a larger, regular-sized trade paperback? Does Marvel really expect us to believe the smaller size doesn’t save them significant money? Cause it does– both in lower amounts of the paper and inks needed to produce the books and lower shipping costs incurred sending the products to their final retail destinations.

Before I vent any further, I want to state that I understand the bulk of the Marvel’s digest books are meant to be aimed at a younger, more GENERAL audience. I have zero problems with that. After all, you’re reading opinions from a person who proudly collects– (and actually reads!)– all of James Kochalka‘s Johnny Boo: The Best Little Ghost in the World books… And these books are aimed at kindergarten kids!


I’ve always believed that general audience books can be extremely entertaining… And I certainly don’t need to read about ass rape and female decapitation every time I pick up a comic to feel like I’ve fully lived my life as a discerning comics connoisseur.

Johnny Boo is for kids and it is a BIG BOOK with HARD COVERS! How can this be Marvel? Kids only read small, flimsy books... Right?

I understand that someone at Marvel assumes their general audience releases need to be made smaller– for smaller hands. But here’s the problem with that frickin’ assumption: Most of the concepts and plots in the “general audience” Marvel comic books are much more complicated than, let’s say, the plots found in Andy Runton‘s excellent Owly series… or  Kochalka’s aforementioned Johnny Boo. And the crazy thing about Boo? Those books are hardcovers printed in a larger size format than the Marvel digests… For kids in kindergarten! Where’s the logic in that, Marvel?

Doesn't LOOK like a kids' book either

Here’s just some of the plot for Black Widow and the Marvel Girls– transcribed word for word from the back cover of the recent Marvel digest release: “While removing a rogue weapons dealer from an impregnable safe house, the Black Widow remembers her escape from the brutal KGB training ground known as the Red Room…” Cone on, does that sound like the plot of a “kiddie” book? It is my firm belief that any child that can understand that story has to be old enough to hold a larger book.

How do I know this? Well to start, I wasn’t spit out of Hell’s foul embrace like an ignorant Hellboy. (At least I don’t think I was.) I grew up reading comics after I basically taught myself how to read… Conquering the thick Charlotte’s Web novel by the time I was five. If I could hold a book like that, I also held a comic book or a comic trade paperback (they were called “Annuals” back then) with ease. I have no doubt that I would have found these miniature comics just as irritating back then as I do today.


The other reason I can’t stand these little buggers– besides the misrepresentation, over-priced volumes and too small sizes?

Easy to read my ass! And this was one of the MORE STEALTHY, LESS VERBOSE pages

The artwork reprinted in these collections was originally rendered in a STANDARD SIZE– meant to fit in a “regular-size” comic book. The art is not drawn for Manga-size books (the format these Marvel digests most clearly ape)– where the artists tailor their work and storytelling techniques to favor the smaller format. These are regular comic pages reduced to fit into a pitifully small area. You can’t really enjoy the art… As the pages were never drawn in consideration of the digest format.

What thought– other than greed could Marvel be using as they take all these great stories (that were once printed regular comic size) and reduce them to digest size? Are they that desperate to shave their margins on these books? I would have loved to read the collections for Spider-Man Secret Wars, Iron Man: Armor Wars or Dr. Doom and Masters of Evil in “normal” trade paperbacks. Not so interested now that the publishers have insisted on squeezing these stories into books one might easily find stuck in a McDonald’s Happy Meal box one day. I’m exaggerating, of course… But not by much.

Plus, why are almost all of Marvel’s recent female-centric books being almost surreptitiously released in this shitty format as well?  Why am I paying regular sized trade prices for small books featuring these popular women as lead characters? Here are just a few of the titles (and prices) of some of the female led books I won’t be reading: Black Widow and the Marvel Girls ($14.99 USD), Models, Inc ($14.99 USD) and Nomad, Girl without a World ($14.99 USD). Only Marvel Divas (and monthly titles like Ms. Marvel) seemed to have escaped this sad reduction binge.

I have a WHOLE STACK of digest sized trades that I unwittingly purchased at

Tim Gunn-- obviously pissed to be regulated to such a small format

one time or another. Now I have decided NOT to read them because of their cramped art and pitifully tiny word balloons… And that just sucks.

Since I am finding it increasingly hard to determine what any Marvel book is actually going to look like until it arrives in the comic book stores– I have specifically requested that my retailer let me know if any of the books I have ordered suddenly turn up digest sized. I hate to ask– to burden them with yet another one of my  idiosyncracies… But I really, really, DON’T want any more of these Marvel monstrosities entering my home ever again. Since I receive my books via mail order, I cannot look at them and reject them due to their small size… So I must rely on the fine folks at the comic shop to do it for me.

I really don’t enjoy feeling poorly fucked by Marvel when I open my box filled with comics. I want to feel joyful (or at least happy)– especially since I seem to spend over $200 on books every week. That’s a lotta moola to pay out– only to feel jerked around.

I’ve been wanting to type the following sentence ever since I started writing this Blog: I may want to read like a child but I don’t want to be treated like a child.

Hey Marvel… Be up front with me. Don’t distract from the sizes of your trades with razzle-dazzle bullshit or miraculously forget to mention your trade trim sizes in a lot of your product descriptions. The majority of your readers are not children. I know you know this… So even though a book’s content may skew a little younger– please stop printing them in digest size.

At the very least, print them in both large and small formats (like the Runaways series) so your customers can pick the format they want to purchase. I certainly wouldn’t mind paying a couple of dollars more for a larger book… And we all know that a “couple of dollars more” would actually be a big premium for us to pay just to receive slightly larger book.

At the end of the day, I would like to think that somebody– ANYBODY– at Marvel would give a shit about this… But the haphazard, bone-headed way they arbitrarily choose their Trade Paperback printing sizes would say otherwise. Just more crap from the former House of Ideas.

♫ He was born a Rambling Man… ♫

These TWO thoughts are the types of crazy shit my as usual over-caffeinated mind comes up with late at night.

While watching episode 5 of season 4 of The Guild tonight I realized that Felicia Day looks like the perfect star for a re-make of Sega’s Night Trap. I mean, they just re-made Piranha and they’re going to make a movie based on the friggin’ Magic 8 Ball… So things can’t get any worse.

Or can they?

Are you ready for THIS close-up Felicia?

I’m currently replaying the original Marvel Ultimate Alliance– but this time on the 360 as opposed to the PS2. Alliance is based on 2004’s X-Men Legends gameplay… But I remember when the first press information came out for X-Men Legends back in ’02. Back then the game was tentatively titled X-Men RPG. Well, that’s some funny shit… Cause I thought it was going to be like a JRPG with turn-based combat.

Far from the JRPG I thought it would be

I kept imagining Cyclops as Cloud– always moping about everything but still kicking ass. Or Wolverine as Barrett– always cussing and killing people with little Marlene as Jubilee. How about Jean Grey as Aeris… Because she always dies just when you need her the most?

Bring it on, Wes!

Urasawa's Modern Manga Classic

You Can Go Home Again

Anyone who follows the CCW*TV Companion Blog or watches my rants on CCW*TV will not be surprised to read that I have become increasingly disenchanted with the Big 2 comic publishers. Lame “blockbuster” events, rising cover prices, gratuitous deaths and clichéd storytelling are only a few of the problems that currently bother me. That’s not to say there aren’t any mainstream comics that I currently enjoy on a monthly basis. I do. They just seem too few and far between nowadays.

The Sentry Rips Another One!

The escalation of mean spiritedness, bloodshed and misogyny in American comics has become quite tiring. As a result of the persistent problems I’m having with the mainstream superhero books, I have rediscovered a lost love of mine: Manga.

Keeping up with Marvel. DC gets into the gratuitous violence act.

Even though U.S. comics were my introduction to the wonderful art form known as sequential art– Manga soon crept in and overtook my love for most capes and cowls… And I am quite certain that my affinity for anime had something to do with it.

Japanese produced animation has always struck a deep chord with me… Much more so than any old Hanna-Barbera “cartoon” ever could. Was it the seriousness of the subject matter, the captivating action sequences or how the animation cells meshed together so fluidly? If I had to choose between these reasons– I would choose all three.

After watching my first episodes of Battle of the Planets,  Captain Harlock– and eventually Robotech– how the hell could I ever be content to watch Scooby Doo?

In the late 80’s I was a complete, unapologetic Marvel Zombie. I did not care for anything DC offered– nor had my horizons expanded to vast and fertile area of independent comics.  That entire mindset changed one day while I was looking through a friend’s stack of books and came across a comic called Xenon.

♥ My first Manga ♥

The artwork on the cover caught my eye– feeling very familiar to me.  Not because it resembled any of the comics I had been reading but because it looked more like the great anime I had been watching.

Though the cover illustration was in color I soon realized that all the interior pages were in black and white. The concept wasn’t completely foreign to me as I had seen a couple of TMNT comics by this point… But Xenon just felt different from any book I had seen. The artwork was dark and gritty. Backgrounds and cityscapes were drawn with the precision of an architect. It had intricate robotic designs for the hero and the villain’s alter egos. All of this set against the backdrop of a Japanese high school.

Whatever this comic was about didn’t matter to me. All I knew was that I had to read it right away– along with every other issue my friend had collected.


Now Being Reprinted in Deluxe Editions

Soon I was adding all kinds of Manga books to my weekly pull list. The more Manga that became available (at the time it was a fairly slow trickle)– the more I wanted to buy. Titles like Appleseed, Ranma ½, Maison Ikkoku, Gunhed, Silent Mobius, Urusei Yatasura, Fist of the North Star and Nausicaa. As well as Ninja High School, The Dirty Pair and Gold Digger– all comics drawn by Americans with a profound influence from Japanese artists and anime.

These books gave me something that American comics couldn’t (or wouldn’t)– huge amounts of imagination. Where regular superhero comics seemed grounded in a reality populated by fantastical and impressive beings– the entire world of Manga seemed gloriously overloaded with the fantastical and the impressive. Each book had its own reality, not a shared one, and I seemed to never tire of discovering new worlds with each new manga I started to read.

Gantz-- Another great Manga

Thanks to the efforts of a growing number of companies like Viz and Dark Horse– Manga became even more predominant on comic shop shelves as the years passed. As anyone with a passing interest in the genre knows, Manga has since exploded far beyond comic specialty stores and now reaches the mainstream via national bookstore chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble.

A while ago Insideman contacted me about writing a Manga column for his Swear All you Like Blog– or maybe even a series of reviews. Whether this column becomes a reality on a regular basis remains to be seen– as life, work (and fun) always have a way of interrupting the best of plans. Still, I went back and forth concerning what topic to write about, what book to review for this post– and finally settled on letting you in on “where I’m coming from” when I am enjoying (and possibly even reviewing) manga.

Giving some background on what this art medium means to me– and the years I’ve been invested in it– may give you a better understanding of any future reviews. I was there almost at the beginning of the Manga industry in America… And to see it grow so vast in the last couple of decades simply amazes me.

Orange Jumpsuit Ninja. Not my favorite by far. Maybe it is yours.

It’s becoming tougher to find great books out there as the industry keeps growing– then contracting– and growing again. With a crowded field of books and various Manga companies starting , suspending or ceasing publication, hopefully I can steer you in the right direction. I want to help you experience some of the best the genre has to offer.

So, thanks Marvel and DC! If it weren’t for your poor attempts at keeping this comic fan satisfied– I may never have rediscovered my long-lost love.

(Besides reading Manga for more than half of his life, Jose Melendez has also been a comic book retailer for almost 18 years. He is the co-host of CCW*TV– where he attempts to make the show somewhat entertaining on a weekly basis– despite the “best efforts” of co-host Elliott who tends to ruin everything with his boring, stale personality. Jose is also the main contributor on the CCW Companion Blog.

His only regret in life is breaking up with a very cute and kind redhead 10 years ago for no good reason. Please learn from this and don’t make the same mistake yourself… Or else alcohol will most likely play a big part in your future lifestyle.)


What's to compare? Aren't these 2 books just different children of the SAME medium?

Recently, I came across an article entitled MANGA VS COMICSI know. I know... What’s weird– there are a ton of articles just like this out there… All comparing Manga to American Comic Books.

Truth be told, I am not in agreement with most of their content. First off, let’s make this clear– Manga MEANS Comic, okay? Second, why are people bothering to compare these?

Most people in the CCW Nation know me as Mike F. I’m a proudly confessed Manga, Video Game and Comic Book fanatic… And clearly, I have passionate thoughts on these subjects.

Here are statements made from one of the articles mentioned above (I have added a few of my own thoughts as well):

“American comics are all capes.”


“American comics are all about prolonging a dead franchise.”


Everyone knows American comics are all about retconning. (Unless you’re Geoff Johns, of course… But that’s completely different post.)


I watched anime for years– never once venturing into comics. Turned out to be a good thing too. I wouldn’t have had the first clue where to start.

My first ever experience with comics was with a Manga book. And like many people– like the articles I so strongly disagree with now… At the time, I just assumed that American comics were only about superheroes.

A challenging tale that highlights the difference between lust and true love

The first manga I ever read was Chobits– by the 4 female mangakas CLAMP. I loved this unique story about a robotic female (called a persocom) named Chii whose vagina holds her on/off switch. The internal chip is located there so if someone makes love to her– the chip inside turns her off and wipes her memories.

When Hideki– the horniest of horn dogs (the subject of his vast porn collection is a focus in the first few volumes)– discovers a completely wiped Chii in the trash, he can’t believe his good luck and takes her home… Eventually falling in love.

But he doesn’t want to risk the possibility of Chii losing her memories again… So he resigns himself to never having sex with the woman he loves for the rest of his life. It’s a charming story about virginity… And the line between common lust and pure love.

The female artists of CLAMP created a challenging premise that moved me and really made me think. I’d never been exposed to a story like this before. The panel placement, the clever jokes, the stunning artwork. Chobits became an instant favorite of mine and spawned my love for comics. Wanting to experience more, I searched extensively until I found other great Manga titles like Gunsmith Cats and Battle Angel Alita.

And then, again, I was content to stay exactly where I was. Years and years would pass before I would come across an American comic book that would change me forever. That book was WE3–  a small masterpiece written by oft-praised Scottish comic messiah Grant Morrison.

As good as it gets

When I first saw this book on Amazon, I thought, “Hmmm… What in the world could this be about?”

What a joy it was to read– watching 3 captured animals used by the government attempt to escape back home. I literally shouted “Yes!” at the end of the first issue– when WE1 says: “We go home, home now.” Completely arrested by the spirit of the comic’s overall story,  I became hooked on Morrison’s other comics work. This eventually led to my reading Green Lantern, Batman and Superman.

Not too long after that,  I began reading Marvel comics too. By then, I was well into all type of comic book genres.

Which leads me back to my original question: WHY ARE PEOPLE SO INTENT ON COMPARING MANGA TO COMIC BOOKS?

Yes, Marvel and DC comics can get lost in their prolonged continuity and yes, Manga can get ridiculous with its “cute” or KAWAII random sense of humor… But why compare two things that are basically the same? Vertigo, Image– even Marvel’s Icon imprint– publish plenty of non-superhero related comics from such great writers as Brian Vaughn and Ed Brubaker… But no one is foolish enough to say those books aren’t comics.

The current Akira Reprint Series

Japanese comic legend Katshuiro Otomo (creator of AKIRA) has stated he found inspiration in some DC comics… And felt delighted when given the chance to write a short 8-page Batman story in the BATMAN: Black and White limited series.

Even more frustrating: The people commenting on this article all wrote things that proved they were as ignorant as the article’s authors.

My roommate is from Japan and was a comic reader back in the day. She confirmed the similarities for me. She even felt it foolish to compare Manga and American comics– as they are, again, the same thing.

As you can tell, I love the comics of America and Japan. Even France, the UK and other countries have some great titles.

But I feel no need to compare these two genres because really– it’s just wasting my time. Time better spent reading great books like 20th Century Boys or Daredevil and not noticing any difference.

Mike F is a citizen of the CCW*TV Nation– a regular poster on the CCW*TV Companion Blog. He reads comics because he wants to and obviously couldn’t care less if a comic was in color or black and white. While normally we would say a Guest Columnist’s views are exclusively his or her own… We totally agree with everything he’s written.