Thursday, February 27, 2014

REVIEW: New Warriors #1

Writer: Christopher Yost
Art: Marcus To
Color Art: David Curiel
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

 I’m not going to lie, for better or worse, Marvel had my four bucks a month ago when I first caught wind of the re-launch of the New Warriors.  Now granted I haven’t read a New Warriors book in about a decade, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

I had a brief love affair with the Warriors somewhere in the bleak landscape that was the 90’s.  It was just after the Maximum Cloneage debacle had ended and Scarlet Spider, the Ben Riley version, had joined the team.  I couldn’t help it. As horrible as the whole clone saga was, I just couldn’t look away.  To be honest, I was and still am a fan of the Scarlet Spider, be it Ben Riley, may he rest in peace (actually he turned to ash after being skewered by the Green Gobo’s glider), or the rougher less goodie goodie Kaine version that we have been blessed with at the present time.  I was really bummed when the recent Scarlet Spider run came to an end, but William was heart broken. Don’t let him fool you , Mr. Dubbeld and myself had to basically put WRDJ on suicide watch over that deal.  I like my Scarlet Spider comics, but that guy is just plain cuckoo for SS books.

The good news is the Marvel powers that be have dropped the SS right smack dab in the middle of this here new New Warriors book.  Major selling point.  It’ll be really interesting to see how his non-hero approach fits in with the team.
Other than that, Robbie Baldwin aka Speedball, is the only reason I bought this one.  I love me some Speedball with his colorful, panel saturating, kinetic balls.  That’s right, I said it.  I love my panels saturated with Robbie’s kinetic balls…
Madman Loves Him Some Kinetic Balls WRDJ
This first issue really isn’t all that exciting to be blatantly honest.  It’s really just setting up events to come.  Now being as it is the first issue, you may find that hard to believe, but I swear it’s true.  We’re given a page or two to set up each of the heroes that will soon make up our new team of warriors: The Nova, Justice, Hummingbird, Sun Girl, and Namora.  I know, I know, zero Night Thrasher…high five, I’ve never liked that jack ass.  Not even a little.

The actual writing was really tight, even taking into consideration that this first issue was both scattered and jumpy.  I found the art to be top notch as well.  I’m seriously looking forward to reading the hell out of this title and you should be too.  So join in, sign up, and saturate your eye holes with colorful kinetic balls, and the only relevant non relevant super team in the business.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

REVIEW: Busan Comic World

Review: William R. Davis Jr. 

Living in Asia has kept me a bit isolated from the world of American comics. Those little conversations when you're picking up your weekly books from your local comic sage at your LCS are invaluable. But what really lets me keep my finger on the pulse of the comic world is the oppotunity to attend comic conventions. From a journalistic standpoint I am able to arrange interviews with creators and be the first to learn about new projects from every company, large and small alike. Academically, I am able to attend panels and discussions regarding every comic related topic, so they can also be very educational as well. From a fan standpoint I am able to shake the hands of and interact with all of my heroes in the industry, and also get a chance to meet the up and coming stars of the future. I am also able to purchase books that are not yet widely distributed. And as a fanboy, I am able to geek out with my friends, pick up back issues for pennies on the dollar, check out the Cosplay, and interact with the comic community as a whole.

Recently I read that a convention was coming to my city: Busan, South Korea. Busan is a beach city, the second largest in South Korea, and it is a little smaller than the city of Los Angeles (Banana for Scale). But what is a "con" in South Korea? Like much of my adopted homeland it was a bit shrouded in mystery due to Korea's culture and traditions being vastly different from American ones. Would there be rows and rows of artists and creators pumping out sketches, a sea of endless back issues to thumb through, academic talks and panels, large amounts of Cosplay? Knowing Korea as well as I do, I knew it would be different. I was not wrong, but in a few ways it was very similar to the cons that we all know and love.

Admittedly, I do not have a strong love or knowledge of Japanese Manga. In many ways it eclipses the popularity of traditional and non-traditional American comics, having a fanatical fanbase that knows just about every facet of the medium. Busan Comic World was centered around Japanese Manga and its almost endless sea of various characters. It was not selling books, or hosting panels, but instead revolved around elaborate Cosplay, which could be found everywhere. A large Cosplay contest was the focal point of this event, and the ratio of elaborate costumes to those wearing none was extremely high, way higher than any American event. There were almost no creators present, and no books for sale, but sketches could be commissioned by amateur artists of your favorite manga characters. There was one small exhibit on a back wall, but the event itself was very small in scope and we walked through it completely in less than one hour.

What I did see was a strong sense of community between the fans. The Cosplay was extremely elaborate, and the costumes were undoubtedly expensive to construct in most cases. Fans and spectators delighted in taking pictures. When asking for one you were expected to say something along the lines of: "Picture please. Can you please do your pose?" The Cosplayer would then strike a pose indicative of the character and then a picture would be taken. It was nice to see the Cosplayers being so accommodating, and the fans showing such a thorough appreciation of their efforts. All in all it was almost a complete departure from an American comic book convention. While I did not know the characters being portrayed, or get a chance to feel the satisfaction of walking a massive convention floor hall for three straight days participating in everything American comics, I did leave with a positive feeling regarding the event. It was well worth my 4000 Won (Roughly $4) to see a different community come together in appreciation of what is obviously a passion to so many. At the end of the day however, there's no place like home.

Friday, February 14, 2014

REVIEW: Maximum Minimum Wage

Maximum Minimum Wage
Writer/Artist: Bob Fingerman
Review: Will Dubbeld

Indy books, Underground Comix, Small Press, Creator-Owned.
These are amongst the most glorious words in comicdom, right up there with 'New Comic Day' and 'Man-Thing'. Not that there's anything wrong with the Big Two (well, there's a lot wrong, but anywho...), but there's always a measure of satisfaction in reading a book that was squeezed out of the heart of some guy or gal over the course of years, with endless nights toiling in a cruddy apartment, eking out a living whilst attempting to craft a labor of comic love.
At least that's how I envision the independent comic book creation process.
I suppose there could be some trust fund babies slinging Indy Books, but I kinda doubt it. Thus Spake Maximum Minimum Wage. Paging, once again, through Previews, I discovered a solicit for Bob Fingerman's new Minimum Wage series. The description grabbed me immediately and the accompanying preview art sealed the deal. The book screamed the primal scream of a time when Fantagraphics was the premier publisher of Indy Books and Image was slinging shoulder pads and belt pouches.
Times, they are a changin'...
Solicited along with the new Minimum Wage series was a plug for Maximum Minimum Wage, an oversized hardcover collection of Fingerman's original series. I gave it a good, long look, but ultimately didn't order the hardcover as it was a bit on the spendy side.
Not that I balk at droppin' bills at the comic shop, but I'm trying (mostly) to be a bit more frugal.
These funnybooks ain't free, folks.
Upon reading Minimum Wage no. 1, I immediately regretted not ordering the hardcover.
The first issue was phenomenal, a slice of life snapshot of some poor schmuck, recently split from his wife and bemoaning his fleeting youth.
And the damn thing near demanded I read the preceding series.
Cursing my sporadic frugality, I found a significantly cheaper copy of Maximum Minimum Wage on the Internets and promptly ordered. Upon receipt, I devoured the book in a couple of days and was awestruck by the contents. 
Minimum Wage is a slice-of-life, semi autobiographical account of a budding cartoonist named Rob, his mildly damaged girlfriend Sylvia, and their potpourri of friends and coworkers in '90s New York City. 
Fingerman paints us a picture of an Everyman, albeit a bit exaggerated without delving into the fantastical. Moving in with your girlfriend, putting up with neurotic family, friends and coworkers, and marriage. It's a book about common, everyday occurrences presented in an uncommon and interesting manner. The characters are evocative of those idiot friends, those crazy exes, those asshole supervisors we all have or have had. But it's not us, not our obnoxious Godzilla-fanboy friend or archetypical Italian grandmother. It's a mildly oblique version of these friends and family, in the same reality as ours, but just slightly to the left. Much of the book is tongue in cheek humor, but Bob Fingerman touches on some very real issues through the life of Rob, his hapless Everyman. There is a sequence involving Rob and Sylvia and their decision have an abortion that disturbed me more than anything I'd read in a comic in quite a while. It wasn't a graphic depiction, it was merely a frank discussion and emotive sequence that unsettled me. I'm not hypersensitive when it comes to the topic of abortion, nor am I easily shaken, but that particular chapter of Minimum Wage was so vivid, so raw, that I was unnerved. If that was Fingerman's intention, well done.  
After that bit of gravitas...
The Art! The art in Minimum Wage is fantastic. The seemingly simplified black-and-white line art contained some deceptively complex pieces of background and character studies. Every so often, a background character or passerby would be rendered with such an amount of detail, you know it was Fingerman's landlord, his aunt, his pizza delivery boy, or the guy who ran the 7-11 down the street from his apartment. The character designs of the main characters are great, not overdone but neither are they simplified to the point of monotony. The characters reminded me stylistically of the Mission Hill animated series from some years ago. An R-rated Mission Hill...
Bonus features, bonus features, bonus features, will you guys get your money's worth out of this book!
The main story concludes on pg. 236. The book clocks out at pg. 384. You do the math, but it's somewhere in the neighborhood of shitloads of extras, and none of it felt like filler. The next hundred (100!) pages are early stories/incarnations of Minimum Wage, followed by a cover gallery, pin ups from Peter Bagge, Gilbert Hernandez, and some other Indy luminaries I could name drop to be hip.
Closing out the book is some sketches, character designs, and an unused script.
Minimum Wage is a less foul Robert Crumb, a less zany Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, a more fanciful American Splendor, and nearly as full of human drama and study as Strangers In Paradise. Or Omaha the Cat Dancer, but without all the graphic, anthropomorphic cat-sex.
Maximum Minimum Wage is a 384 page hardcover available from Image Comics for the worth-the-money price of $34.99. Skip a few books from the Big Two for a couple of weeks and buy this collection instead. You'll feel better about yourself, and Spider-Man will still be there next week.
Plus, this book has a dust jacket and one of those fancy bookmarks that's sewn into the binding.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: The Horror Show #1

Writer:  James Maddox
Artist:  Todd Beistel
Review:  Arthur Black

Recently I was exposed to an independent writer's comic: The Horror Show #1, through another writer.    Although the title is not original, it was a pretty decent read.  The Horror Show #1 has a very fascinating story with characters, whom are not complex but believable.  Todd Beistel does a great job with the art work in this one. 

Since the tender age of twelve, my infatuation with the horror genre has come to include movies, books, comics, and magazines.  When it comes to comics, many horror comics fall short in my opinion as they do not provoke a reaction. Horror should make you jump, feel scared, or invoke shock.  This book did get a reaction out of me; something that few comics have ever done.

James Maddox starts the story with a pair of friends at a cabin in the woods drinking beer and reminiscing.  Then they are disturbed by a noise outside.  When one of them looks, there is a swarm of zombies marching toward the cabin.  At this point, my thoughts were, “Oh my God, another Zombie book,” but I stuck with it and found more than I anticipated.  The zombie attack was a prank set up by one of the friends, and the writer does a superb job in providing us with this information.  The story takes a drastic turn.  Maddox provides a solid plot twist with the presentation of a monster crashing the prank.  Fortunately I am not going to ruin this with any more details for any of you readers. 

The artwork in this comic book is done with black and white inks splashed with red for dramatic effect.  This is not original, but effective.  Todd Beistel's style is accomplished and consistent.  His best work is on page eleven, where the actual monster is introduced.  This image actually made me recoil in shock.  That is what put it squarely in the horror genre.  Another noteworthy panel is on page twelve, a close-up of the monsters eye.  The details of this image are fantastic. Beistel's forte seems to be in his shading and shadowing, but his drawing of human heads and faces seems a little distorted. This may be on purpose for effect, but at least he is consistent.  In my opinion consistency from a comic book artist is more important than any other quality.

For Maddox and Beistel to tell this story as effectively as they did in only sixteen pages is very impressive.  Overall I would say this is a winner for the horror comic genre. The price is perfect as well.  The digital PDF is completely free. You can download it at  If you like horror comics at all or would like to try one, check this one out.  It will only cost you some time, and it is sure to be worth it.