Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Impressions - 8/26/2009

Here are some rapid-fire posts from last week's comic books. First up is First Impressions :

Green Lantern #45 - Sinestro is mighty pissed...and that's just the way I likes him. Great scene with Agent Orange too. I think that image is going to be my new desktop wallpaper for a while.

Batman & Robin #3 - "You. You just redefined wrong." Great line from Damian as Robin while being held captive by Professor Pyg. Nice throwback to the beginning of Batman RIP stuck in this issue as well.

Superman #691 - Not the big bang conflict that I was expecting. That world of magic looks like a hyped up Renaissance Faire, though.

Justice Society of America #30 - Damage is awesome. As a villain named Tapeworm wraps around him, the explosive hero asks "You have no idea what my power is, do you?" Boom.

Flash : Rebirth #4 - VanSciver does an amazing job of showing the kinetic power of the Speed Force, and the pace of this series just ramped up big time.

Blackest Night : Titans #1 - Not bad. I haven't really benn following the main Titans book so I definitely appreciated all of the exposition.

Wonder Woman #35 - Another great issue but there was one big problem. Wonder Woman offers to join Nemesis in a hot shower to discuss things...and he says no! WTF dude?

Detective Comics #856 - Art by JH Williams III is stil stunning, although the story is takign a turn for the weird.

Gotham City Sirens #3 - Three issues in and we get a fill-in writer? Where did Paul Dini go???

Jimmy Olsen : Superman's Pal Special #2 - Lots of interesting fill-in information here, but I get the feeling that the ending is a big mis-lead.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Delay in reviews...again

I won't be able to pick up comics until Saturday this week so First Impressions and Reviews won't be up until at least Sunday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Trip to Downtown Books – August

It seems that I’m hitting Downtown Books about once a month now and purchasing random comic titles from their massive collection. All in all I think I came out with 13 books for about $15.00. Here are my finds from last trip :

Catwoman #1 (1993)
Story by MaryJo Duffy
Art by Jim Balent

I’m a sucker for 90s comics with cool covers like holo-foil or, like this one, an embossed cover. The image of Catwoman in her old purple costume doesn’t hurt things either.

All Star Batman & Robin #1 (2005)
Story by Frank Miller
Art by Jim Lee

Look at the Jim Lee art, ignore the story, look at the art, ignore the story.

All Star Batman & Robin #6 (2007)
Story by Frank Miller
Art by Jim Lee

Actually I didn’t find ASB&R to be as bad as everyone was whining about. First appearance of All Star Batgirl.

WildC.A.T.S. #1 (1992)
Story by Brandon Choi & Jim Lee
Art by Jim Lee

More early-90s Jim Lee goodness. Now that I look, I picked up an awful lot of 90s books this trip.

Darker Image #1 (1993)
Story by Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Sam Keith & Brandon Choi
Art by Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld & Sam Keith

Mainly purchased because I love The Maxx. Jim Lee’s name is on it too and I seem to be on a roll with him.

Bullets & Bracelets #1 (1996)
Story by John Ostrander
Art by Gary Frank

So now apparently I’m going after all of the Amalgam books. Some of them are pretty decent. This one is the amalgamation of Diana Prince / Wonder Woman and Frank Castle / The Punisher. Wonder Woman stays pretty much the same but Punisher is named Trevor Castle (after Steve Trevor and Frank Castle) and they had a child together. Good stuff.

Watchmen #1 (1986)
Story by Alan Moore
Art by Dave Gibbons

The guy who was working there let me rifle through the box that he was putting away and I found this original release in beautiful condition. When I pulled it out with the $1.99 price tag on it he said “Damn, I thought I took that out already for myself.” Channeling Snake from The Simpsons in my head, I internally said “Yoink!” and now it is mine.

Chastity : Theatre of Pain #2 (1997)
Story by Brian Pulido
Art by Josue Justiniano

Hot cover….that’s about the main reason I picked it up. What? I’m not gonna lie.

The Invisibles #4 (1994)
Story by Grant Morrison
Art by Steve Yeowell

Some 90s Grant Morrison craziness.

Valkyrie! #1 (1988)
Story by Chuck Dixon
Art by Brent E. Anderson

An early Chuck Dixon story, this is the first issue of a 3 issue mini.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Looking Forward to Wednesday – 8/26/2009

Hmmmmm…10 books from DC this week with nothing else from other companies. I mean, the other companies are putting out books, I’m just not buying them. Click below for the titles that will come home with me this week :

Most Anticipated Book:

Batman & Robin #3
Story by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely

The end of the 3-issue Morrison / Quitely run is here. I actually was enjoying Quitely’s art for once but I look forward to seeing what Philip Tan can do…especially since Red Hood is coming back. Morrison’s take on the new Batman has been enjoyable and, in a surprising move, coherent while meshing with the other Batman books rather well.

The Rest:

Blackest Night : Titans #1 – The Blackest Night tie-ins keep rolling out. So far they’ve been decent.

Detective Comics #856 – I don’t have one bad thing to say about Rucka and Williams’ run on this story. Stunning art and great story.

Flash : Rebirth #4 – The Fastest Man alive is “Rebirthed” in the slowest story alive. Am I the only one who feels this book is dragging by?

Gotham City Sirens #3 – After the second issue I’m on board here for a while. I’m pretty much loving everything that Dini is writing in the DCU right now. Guillem March’s sexy artwork is nothing to complain about either.

Green Lantern #45 – With all of the Blackest Night stuff going on it seems like GL just came out recently. This issue will hopefully show us more of what is going on with the other corps in the War of Light….I’m also hoping for some more Sinestro goodness.

Justice Society of America #30 – So far so good on the new creative team, and it looks like Dr. Fate is coming back. Nice.

Superman #691 – After last week’s issue of Supergirl, I’m hyped for whatever is going to happen in Metropolis.

Wednesday Comics #8 – I have to admit that I’m like 4 weeks behind on Wednesday Comics. I’ve been purposely saving them up to read en masse.

Wonder Woman #35 – This is DC’s sleeper title that too many people aren’t reading. Buy this book people!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Comic Book Reviews 8/16/2009

7 books for this week (plus 2 stragglers from last week) make it a good time to be a comics fan.

What happened? Mon-El gets an edumacation regarding his home planet of Daxam, Sunstreaker gets all Emo (for good reason, mind you), Power Girl gets hit on by Howard Wolowitz from Big Bang Theory (seriously, Sheldon was there too), Supergirl gets the cold shoulder from Lois Lane, Smallville gets a visit from it’s first (but most likely not the last) Black Lantern, and Bruce Wayne (aka Hush) continues to give away vast amounts of money like a drunken billionaire playboy.

Want more? Click below :

Pick of the Week :

Power Girl #4
Story by Justin Grey & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Amanda Conner

For most new titles, I tend to have a three issue trial period. If I’m not feeling it after the first three issues then I’m out. Power Girl went to a fourth issue for me since the new arc began here, it completely delivered and has now earned a spot on my monthly pull list.

This issue is actually sort of a bridging issue between story arcs and gives us a glimpse into Power Girl’s life when she’s not punching super villains in a bodysuit with a large hole in it. In her civilian identity, Karen Starr, she takes in a movie with Terra which is a very funny scene as Terra is not quite used to the horror genre. It’s nice to see PG using her secret identity though because for a long time she was just Power Girl 24/7. But it doesn’t last long as ogres and elves and a girl wielding a magic tome shows up...commence punching and wisecracks.

Conner’s art is amazing, her facial expressions are dead on and the little touches in the background are great. Towards the end of the issue, Karen Starr is talking with one of her Starrware execs in here office, the exec is sitting on a couch with his suit jacket lying next to him. On the arm of the couch across from him is a cat. As soon as the exec gets up and leaves his jacket there, the cat for no reason at all sits on his jacket. I laugh at this because any time I leave a piece of dark colored clothing laying somewhere for even a second, our long-haired white cat makes it his new resting place.

The dialog is quick and witty. Lines such as “I thought you were dead…” rebutted with “I got better!” from the opening scene and the Elf Princess’ “Stand aside Busty Airborne Lass or I shall be forced to unleash my fury on thee!” might typically come off as cheesy but they work with the fun tone of this title.

The story will make you laugh out loud and is thoroughly refreshing in these dark times of brooding death in the comic universes. By the way, the movie trailer opening was great, and I could hear Don LaFontaine (the movie trailer voice guy) saying “At a time of crisis…..”

The Rest :

Supergirl #44
Story by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle

Codename : Patriot is quickly gaining momentum and this issue is essentially the episode before the season finale. Lots going on here as many different plot threads are coming together and something big is about to happen in Metropolis. All of these super-powered individuals are headed for a huge conflict that will be taking place in next week’s Superman #691.

I’m also curious to learn more about the mysterious new character Mirabai, whose powers seem strongly magic based. This spells trouble for the Superman crew as magic tends to cause them issues.

Batman : Streets of Gotham #3
Story by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen

This is one of those titles that was on my potential drop list recently not because of quality or anything like that, it’s just that I may have to trim my titles down a bit. After this issue though, it’s safe for the foreseeable future. Nguyen’s art continues to impress and fits this story perfectly with his use of shadow and dim surroundings.

I’ve come to a conclusion. I dislike Damian Wayne (the new Robin for those living in a cave)…except when he is written by Paul Dini. I still dislike him, but Dini makes it so much more fun to hate him. The issue has some great Damian dialog as well as a nice twist in the Hush story along with some guest cameos.

This issue also shows that Dick Grayson is a BMW man, which is a good thing. The reintroduction of Mr. Zsasz as a top level villain is excellent too, with his new & improved look recalling a well dressed Mickey Know from Natural Born Killers.

GI Joe Special : Helix
Story by Brian Reed
Art by Joe Suitor

Introducing a new character into the world of GI Joe, this issue provides us with a quick shove into the world of a master combatant and savant level tactician….that has gone missing. Not much is revealed here and the issue seems to jump around quite a bit but the character has major potential and I hope she shows up in the main series.

Blackest Night : Superman #1
Story by James Robinson
Art by Eddy Barrows

Kicking off the third Blackest Night tie-in series (after Tales of the Corps and Batman), we are introduced to 2 new Black Lanterns. The first caused a big ruckus when his action figure pictures were released through Previews and the second is pretty easy to figure out once you know who the first is although he is on the cover so you know we’re talking about Kal-L, the Superman from Earth 2 who bought it in Infinite Crisis.

Lots of talky bits with a little action (including some action from Krypto) don’t make for a bad issue but it’s definitely less exciting so far than Blackest Night : Batman. I’m also kind of ticked off that the Shane Davis cover that has been solicited on DC’s website and in Previews was the variant cover and not the regular one. Oh well.

Superman Annual #14
Story by James Robinson
Art by Javier Pina

Re-weaving the history of Mon-El and his xenophobic homeworld Daxam into the fabric of the DC universe, Annual #14 was much more interesting than I was expecting.

Mon-El is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters since his release from the Phantom Zone and quick takeover of Superman’s monthly title. This book really fleshes out his background and that of his people, from a Kryptonian colony to the hate-filled xenophobes they became.

James Robinson does a wonderful job of telling this tale almost in the form of a History Channel documentary. Art is handled by Javier Pina (Suicide Squad) and looks impressive. There is a grand scope to this issue and Pina captures it perfectly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

First Impressions - 8/19/2009

I was able to pick up my books today and read them during some down time at work. Click below for First Impressions :

Power Girl #4 - Two things : #1) Was that the guys from Big Bang Theory in the movie theater?? Yup, it was. #2) This may just make me go back and read the Terra mini that this creative team put out last year. Any super-heroine that fights in her underwear because she forgot her costume is OK in my book.

Blackest Night : Superman #1 - Lots of setup...and Rainbow Superman! Kind of disappointed that the solicited cover was actually the variant one though.

Supergirl #44 - That was easily one of the most exciting comics that I've read lately. Big things will be going down when this continues in next week's issue of Superman.

Batman : Streets of Gotham #3 - Nicknames abound this week! Power Girl gets called Busty Airborne Lass in her title, and then Damian is branded Psycho Ninja Brat...which, upon further consideration, is quite fitting actually.

All Hail Megatron #14 - Two stories, both pretty decent. I really have to go back and re-read the stories before AHM to refresh my memory. It really seems like they'll be pulling heavily from those for the next story arc.

Superman Annual #14 - Mon-El is shaping up to be a very interesting character. Hopefully they keep him around for a bit and don't shove him back into the Phantom Zone again.

...and two from last week :

GI Joe Special : Helix - Exciting introduction for an interesting new character.

Red Robin #3 - I may be thinking too much into this, but was the reference to Clown Baby a nod to Mac's underground street fighting name in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia??

Reviews will be up soon

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Possible delay in reviews this week.

I've just been informed by my Senior Vice-President of Accounting and Financial Operations (aka Liz) that I may have to hold off until Friday to buy comics this week. So reviews may be a bit delayed but I'll have them up ASAP.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Looking Forward to Wednesday – 8/19/2009

Praise Jeebus for a lighter week, since I still have two hold-overs from last week. Click below for the books :


Blackest Night : Superman #1 – So far, so good on the Blackest Night tie-ins. Let’s hope that it continues because I was really looking forward to seeing how they handle Earth-2 Superman as a Black Lantern. Superboy could be interesting in this as well, since I'm not reading Adventure Comics at the moment. Also, that variant cover by Shane Davis is awesome, so I may be picking that up.


Batman : Streets of Gotham #3 – This is the weakest of the current Bat-titles in my opinion, but it’s by no mean a bad book. Dustin Nguyen’s art is beautiful and Paul Dini continues his story arcs from Detective Comics.

Power Girl #4 – The beginning of a new story arc. The first one was great, so I’m giving the second a chance to impress me.

Supergirl #44 – I’ve been picking up Supergirl for nearly 10 months now. If you told me that last year I would have told you that you were insane. Great job by Sterling Gates on turning this book into a readable title.

Superman Annual #14 – Looks like Mon-El will finally get to check out those crystals that Sodam Yat sent to him. The history of Daxam! This actually sounds pretty decent.

Transformers : All Hail Megatron #14 – Last issue was OK, so these “bridge” issues between AHM and whatever the next story is may be hit or miss.

Wow…I just checked out DC’s releases for next week. 10 books, just from DC alone

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Comic Book Reviews - 8/12/2009

Nine books came home with me this week (had to leave two behind, but I’ll try to fit them in next week).

What happened? Bruce Wayne draws cars, dinosaurs and airplanes, Zod and Ursa have some intimate naughty time, Mongul finds a new home, Damian Wayne gets possessed, Aquaman puts the Atlantean band back together, Destro is not a big fan of his new outfit, and Superman returns to Earth…briefly.

Also in comic new this week, it seems that Diamond's cover for an upcoming Previews catalog made it out to the internet and in turn, let the cat out of the bag for who the "Big Bad" will be in Blackest Night. It's no huge surprise to those that have been following speculation on the 'net but I'm still immensely interested. Check out this link to The Weekly Crisis if you want to see it.

Click below for the reviews :


Blackest Night #2
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis

In any big event, the Issue #1 tends to be the one filled with “Oh Shit!” moments and reveals to draw you in to the upcoming story. A good indicator of how the event will hold up is how well Issue #2 stacks up against #1. And I will say that Blackest Night #2 stacks up.

Issue 2 continues Geoff Johns’ epic tale that has been building for years about the dead heroes and villains of the DC Universe coming back to life. This issue is still laced with the aforementioned “Oh Shit” moments, but also builds upon what came before and what is touched on in the tie-in issues (skillfully continuing the thread from Green Lantern #44) and upping the ante by recruiting even more characters into the Black Lantern Corps. Aquaman is quite a focus in this issue and I’ve never enjoyed him this much. Everyone mocks his powers as a joke, but it’s no joke when he commands the ocean’s dead creatures in this issue. Actually it’s one of the more brutal scenes contained within.

Ivan Reis is doing phenomenal work here, and the little touches throughout are a great bonus. As two Black Rings head to Washington DC to recruit the corpses of Don and Hank Hall (Hawk and Dove), they pass by a few birds who quickly fall dead from the sky. His rendering of the Black Lanterns are excellent, keeping just enough of the former character’s costumes so they are instantly recognizable but changing them enough to remind you that this is something different. My favorite scene has to be the heartfelt conversation between Barbara and Jim Gordon on top of the Gotham PD, interrupted only by Hal Jordan being thrown into the Bat-Signal and destroying it in the process.

I won’t give away what characters show up but there was at least one that I was not expecting to be recruited into the Black Corps, and the integration of the appearance of Pariah (the crying harbinger of doom from COIE) was handled very well. And once again, the team of Barry and Hal is perfectly written and drawn. Flash fact.


Batman #689
Story by Judd Winnick
Art by Mark Bagley

In the second issue of Winnick and Bagley’s run on Batman, the differences between Bruce as Batman and Dick as Batman become more apparent. This is what I wanted to see. Dick Grayson, consummate performer and comfortable in the spotlight, taking down Gotham’s criminals with a smile and a hint of actual enjoyment that the Dark Knight never really had (at least in modern times).

Bagley’s art continues to impress, but my main problem with the issue comes in the form of a nitpick. Who is editing these comics??? Here we have one of the key books in DC’s lineup and there are two obvious grammatical issues here that jumped out. First, on page 7 when Two-Face tells his lackey that he’s going to need someone for a job, the lackey replies “I’m got some names.” Second, on page 16, Batman says “…I’ve going to have my hands full.” Clearly, the first words were swapped somehow but between 9 pages? Errors like this take me out of the book quickly and that’s the main reason that I have an issue with it. If DC just hired a 12 year old to proof the books part-time this would be taken care of.

GI Joe #8
Story by Chuck Dixon
Art by S.L. Gallant

Something just didn’t cut it for me in this issue. The previous 7 issues were action-packed and thrilling while this one just sort of fell flat. It definitely feels like a fill-in issue. This happened with All Hail Megatron for one issue and I hope it only lasts an issue here because I’ve thoroughly been enjoying this series so far.

Blackest Night : Batman #1
Story by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Ardian Syaf

This is how you do event tie-ins! Continuing the Boston Brand (Deadman) story from Blackest Night #2 and tying it into the current Batman and Robin, we see how the New & Improved Dynamic Duo will be dealing with the risen dead.

It’s no huge surprise who comes back at the end of this issue considering Dick Grayson’s origins, but it’s very creepy. And Deadman possessing Batman, only to realize that Bruce Wayne is no longer wearing the cowl is great.

Green Lantern Corps #39
Story by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason

Taking place during Blackest Night #1, we are treated to a much more expanded version of what happened on Oa as the dead members of the Green Lantern Corps are resurrected.

Peter J. Tomasi weaves this story in perfectly with the main Blackest Night book and Patrick Gleason’s art has never looked better. Most of the issue deals with the black rings arriving on Oa but we also touch base with Mongul for a few pages. He seems to be on a “Let’s see how much we can piss off Sinestro” kick lately since he jacked half of his army, and is now settling in on Sinestro’s home planet of Korugar to make it his new base of operations after he was kicked off of Daxam.

While not as emotional or horrifying as Blackest Night #1, this issue does serve to fill-in some scenes that were compressed in the main book. You can tell that Geoff Johns is living up to his promise to personally oversee the Blackest Night books to ensure that we get a complete story that flows between the tie-ins.

Superman : Secret Files 2009
Story by James Robinson, Greg Rucka, Sterling Gates & Geoff Johns
Art by Pete Woods, Aaron Lopresti, Jamal Igle, Pere Perez, Francis Manapul, Renato Guedes, Matt Camp, Fernando Dagnino & Stefano Gaudiano

If you’ve been reading Superman, Supergirl, Action Comics & Superman : World of New Krypton for the past 6 months or so then you don’t really need most of this issue, as it serves mainly to recap the events that brought us to the current story arc titled Codename : Patriot.

Personally, I have been following all of these books and I still enjoyed this issue because it refreshed all of this in my mind. There are also 4 mini stories focusing on Supergirl, Ursa, Mon-El and surprisingly, Lex Luthor’s former Vice-President Pete Ross.

The maps of Metropolis and New Krypton were pretty cool, but the character profiles where what I found most interesting here. There is a vast cast of characters in the Superman books currently and this definitely helped to keep everyone straight.

Final Crisis Aftermath : Escape #4
Story by Ivan Brandon
Art by Cliff Richards

Final Crisis Aftermath : Run! is clearly the leader as the best FC Aftermath book, but Escape was running a close second. Now, 4 issues in (out of 6), we’ve still managed to answer nothing and raise tons of questions.

One of the characters has an epiphany as to what is going on but she (selfishly) doesn’t share it with us. Guest appearances by Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill and the Miracle Machine from Final Crisis do not help to ease our confusion.

Seeing that I am now two-thirds of the way into this mini series, I’m in for the whole run now. Hopefully a complete read through at the end will shed some light on what is happening here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

First Impressions - 8/12/2009

Three Blackest Night books this week and a few other good titles. Click below for the First Impressions:

Blackest Night #2 - The deady goodness rolls on, and Aquaman hasn't been this bad-ass since SuperFriends! Just kidding, he was never bad-ass in SuperFriends...but he is here. One other thing, and I'll expand on this later, it seems that the only reason I read Hannibal Tabu's "The Buy Pile" article every week at Comic Book Resources is so that I can see how utterly opposite my opinions are from his. He is, so far, one of the very few reviewers I've seen that is slamming this book and I almost feel that it's just because he can look like the cool guy who disses the mainstream stuff because it's mainstream.

Blackest Night : Batman #1 - The first of the major Blackest Night tie-ins starts out just how you would think, but I'm still loving Dick as Batman.

Green Lantern Corps #39 - Good stuff, expanding on the story on Oa. These first few Blackest Night tie-ins are really well done.

Action Comics #880 - Part 2 of Codename : Patriot is grabbing my attention. The Captain Atom backup story is extremely odd.

Superman : Secret Files 2009 - Not really a necessary read if you've been following all of the books, but a nice reminder of things that have been going on.

GI Joe #8 - Good buildup between the first part of the story and the next. The Baroness and Destro courtship continues, and it's brutal.

Still have a few to read, but reviews will be up by Sunday.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Looking Forward to Wednesday - 8/12/2009

Now that I’m back from Comic-Con I can get back to normal posting. Many, many good books will be releasing this week and here’s what I’m picking up :

Most Anticipated Book :

Blackest Night #2 – The undead (or are they just dead?) awesomeness continues (hopefully) as Black Lantern Aquaman is scheduled to make an appearance. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis completely blew me away with the first issue and the hype was well worth it. Although this book will have quite the uphill battle to take Book of the Year because All Hail Megatron is definitely in the lead for that.

The Rest :

Action Comics #880 – Continuing the second story arc of “World Without Superman” called Codename : Patriot. This kicked off to a decent start last week.

Batman #689 – 2nd issue of Bagley and Winnick’s run. I enjoyed their take on Dick as Batman in the first issue so I’m eager to find out where this goes.

Blackest Night : Batman #1 – The first of the main Blackest Night tie-ins, let’s see how the new Batman deals with the dead rising.

Final Crisis Aftermath : Escape #4 – This series still makes very little sense but since I’m picking up issue 4 I guess I’m on for the whole 6.

Green Lantern Corps #39 – 3 Blackest Night books in one week??? I’ll be in Black Lantern overload by Thursday.

Red Robin #3 – This issue is a deciding factor whether I keep or drop this title. It’s good, but I’m starting to feel the pinch of sooooo many books coming out in the 2nd half of 2009.

Superman : Secret Files 2009 #1 – Basically a fill-in issue to get the new story arc going. All of the Superman titles have been good since Superman departed for New Krypton so I’ll check it out.

Wednesday Comics #6 – I’m behind by one week on this so I’ll read both this week.

G.I. Joe #8 – Chuck Dixon is hitting all of the great points in this series and lacing in some new stuff here and there. 8 issues in and no Cobra Commander (or Cobra for that matter) yet, I’m totally loving the slow build.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chicago Comic-Con Part 4.1 (Costumes)

This year, as in past years, the costumes were plentiful at Comic Con. Here’s just a sample of what we saw and I wish we could have taken pictures of every single person who dared to wear a disguise. Great job to everyone who obviously spent tons of time putting these outfits together and walking around to entertain all weekend. Click below for the costumes :

Adorable Green Lantern & Green Arrow with cross-dressing Supergirl.

This He-Man costume was very cool and takes a lot of work to maintain. He-Man also had a large Superman tribal tattoo on his arm which I don’t recall from the cartoon.

Thor and I think someone from Final Fantasy (someone please correct me if I’m wrong). The Thor costume was extremely well detailed, down to individual scale armor plates. This was indicative of the level of costuming that goes on there.

Two Umbrella Corporation troopers from Resident Evil and (I’m gonna take a guess here but I don’t speak Marvel) Black Widow?? Maria Hill? Nicole Fury?? Someone please help me out on this one.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Ladies Corps. Their rings all lit up which was pretty cool. The Hal Jordan costume was mostly leather, that guy must have been roasting.

This is the same guy that appeared earlier in a Supergirl costume. Great stuff folks.

There are always swarms of Stormtroopers of varying battle damage wandering about. Many of these are from the 501st Legion Midwest Garrison. There were even some scantily clad female troopers as well which I did not get pics of. Typically there is a huge crowd around them :-)

This Adam Strange costume was completely hand made by this guy’s wife. He said “I’m facing the one enemy that even the great Adam Strange couldn’t defeat….old age”

This Batman from Superman : Red Son was cleverly done. Again, fur hat in this environment? That is serious dedication to concept my friend.

The Joker on our left was extremely well done (from Batman R.I.P.). He even had the laugh down and did not break character. He was totally freaking my wife out every time we passed him.

I'll try to finish the rest tomorrow (Part 4.2). I didn't realize how many I had and it's getting hot sitting by this computer.

Guest Review - Chicago Comic-Con by Jeffrey Weniger

Fellow Collector's Edge regular Jeffrey Weniger sent me his thoughts on the Chicago Comic-Con this past weekend to share with all of you, just in case you're sick of my own rambling on about it :-) Click below for Jeff's thoughts:

Reflections on the Wizard World-Less Chicago Comic Con

Comic Cons offer so much that it’s almost impossible to hold one where somebody won’t find something to like, but this con (now officially called the Chicago Comic Con) felt a bit off. Not bad, mind you, just slightly off.

DC, Marvel and Dark Horse all passed on having a presence at this Comic Con. Not having the big hitters at the Con was almost like where you planned a party and your two rich friends were going to bring beer and pizza. But then they didn’t show up. Sure you have a great time with all your friends, but it would have been better with beer and pizza. That’s kind of what it felt like.

My wife and I have started a bit of a tradition, in that we always seem to bring people to their first Comic Con. This year’s inductees were my co-worker Jerry and his wife Wendy. At first, I was a bit concerned as to how well it would go, but they quickly got into the swing of things and that made me feel better. In the end, they had a great time, so I’ve managed to keep my streak of successes going.

I have to admit one thing here in all honesty. I LOVE the DC booth. I love seeing all the new stuff they’re working on and all the neato products they’re developing at DC Direct. So not having that kind of bummed me. I decided that since there was nothing I could do about it, I should make the most of it. And I did.

Because we showed up early (9 am) we were able to hit some of the booths before they really opened, which gave us an opportunity to do some easy shopping. First item on my list was the Captain Jack figure with trench coat. I had to decide whether I wanted the one with his Wembly revolver or the one with the Doctor’s hand in a container. I opted for the gun. My wife spotted the Batman Hot Wheels Tumbler that I have been searching for and I quickly bought that. I also snapped up the Homer and Bart set of them as Pie Man and the Cupcake kid. And lastly, I got the Hal Jordan mini-bust for a steal.

But NOTHING could prepare me for the awesomeness that was at one booth. Statues of the Disney characters dressed as Star Wars characters. Mickey Mouse was dressed as Luke Skywalker when he was training on Dagobah. Goofy was Chewbacca, and Minnie Mouse was in a slave Leia costume. However, the crown jewel in the collection was Donald Duck in Carbonite.

Artist Alley seemed more vibrant this year. One of the things I noticed was that there were more African American artists displaying their work than previous years. All of the artists in the alley are talented, but it was nice to see how a different culture could bring something new to the comic medium. Hopefully some of these talented artists can get a shot at the bigs and we can say “I knew them when.”

And when Kurt Wood becomes DC’s next big thing, I can assure you that I will sell my Black Lantern Ch’p sketch he did for a lot of money. Who am I kidding? There’s no way I’m parting with that.

If I had to complain about one thing, it was the organization of the event. No one seemed to know what the heck was going on when or where. The costume contest was supposed to be held from 3 until 4. And then it got pushed back to 4. But in fact it started earlier than that. To add to the confusion, they had the contestants walk up the stairs between the entry escalators for everyone to see. Sure, The Defuser (from Who Wants to be a Superhero Season 2) maintained some control, but it was a mess.

Overall, I’d say the Chicago Comic Con was a success. Everybody I knew had a good time. One has to wonder how C2E2 will stack up by comparison. But then, we’ll have to wait until April to compare notes, won’t we?

Chicago Comic-Con Part Three (Day Two)

Day two of our two day convention trip took us mostly into the depths of Artist’s Alley and the packed vendor section as we collected different things we were searching for and got to meet some of my favorite artists in person. Click below for more :

In preparation for a long day of conventioning, Liz had the brilliant idea to pack peanut butter sandwiches and other snacks to bring with us so we wouldn’t be trapped into paying $8.00 for a hot dog inside.

As predicted I was like a kid on Christmas morning and was clamoring to get there for when the doors opened. Being weekend passholders, we were able to get in at 9:00 instead of the usual 10:00 which was awesome because we got a good quick lay of the land as far as the items I wanted to buy before it got too overcrowded. The lobby mural was progressing nicely as well :

Saturday was definitely the day for costume watching since this is the day of the big costume contest, but my goal today was to meet some of the big names that were in attendance. First up was one I was not even expecting to be there, Freddie Williams II. I’m a big fan of his work on Final Crisis Aftermath : Run!, which if you haven’t read it is completely batshit crazy over the top violence and fun. I got to speak to him a little about his upcoming JSA : All Stars project with writer Matt Sturges that will focus on a smaller team of younger JSA members. He signed a copy of Run! for me, took a picture and seemd like an all around nice guy who was happy to be in comics and pleased to meet fans.

Next, while wandering through Artist’s Alley, I came across J. Scott Campbell’s table and there were only about 10 people in line. I had brought Amazing Spider Man #601 and an older GI Joe that he did the cover art for to have him sign, which he happily did. The guy in line in front of me had a comic board on which he drew a scene of a magazine stand with blank magazine and newspapers, then he has different artists each add a sketch to one of the covers. I thought this was an awesome idea and didn’t mind waiting while I watched a master add his contribution to it.

Finally, in the last aisle of Artist’s Alley, I happened upon J.G. Jones who was signing as well. Once again, there were only a few people in line since he had just started and he was only doing signatures so the line went quickly. Jones was extremely personable and shook both my hand and my wife’s after signing my copy of Final Crisis #1 and posed for a picture. As people were waiting in line he was joking with everyone and thanking them for waiting. He picked up a copy of 52 #25 that a fan had brought for signing (the one with the kids trick or treating on it) and explained to everyone that those are his neighbor's kids and the cat in the picture is actually his cat. I love to see superstar creators in this light because we deify them sometimes but they are just regular people with jobs to do and (most of the time) they are extremely appreciative of the people who put them in the position they are in today.

Something just came to mind that always bothers me. Why is it that no matter how much notice you have when meeting an idol of yours, you can do nothing but stutter when you actually get to meet them? When I got up to Jones, I felt like my mouth wouldn’t work and what seemed to come out is “You….art…good…do!!!” I think what came out of my cake-hole was more intelligent and coherent but I’m not so sure.

After making some final purchases and being disappointed that a figure that I wanted to come back for was gone (Red Son Batman for $8.00 dammit), we made a few more laps and then said goodbye to the convention floor for this year. In the lobby, people were prepping for the costume contest so we did some final mingling with the costume crowd and got some great pictures which will be up in a later post. I definitely had more fun doing the convention in two days rather than one and will more than likely do the same next year. It’s just nice to not feel like you have to see everything in one day and makes it less of a rush to get to everything.

On the way out I was stopped by a Stormtrooper Patrol from the 501st Regiment and subjected to search and seizure, but Liz talked them out of taking me in to the Regional Empire Headquarters for questioning.

When all was said and done, the convention was a lot of fun. We came home with tons of great stuff which will be shown off in a separate post tomorrow and we got to meet so many great people. Thanks to Wizard for putting on a fun show and thanks to Freddie Williams II, JG Jones, J. Scott Campbell and all of the great artists and writers that were selling their books and sketches and made themselves available for the fans.

Check back Monday evening for the return of Looking Forward to Wednesday, a special Comic-Con edition of Show & Tell and coverage of the costumes along with a review or two of indie books that I picked up.

Feel free to share your personal convention stories in the comments section.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chicago Comic-Con 2009 - Part Two (Nightlife)

The evening of Day One brought some nice lounging around but it showed the need for some entertainment options that I think Wizard could adopt into the convention experience. Click below for more :

Two things here. Number one, the pics in this post were taken by my cell phone so the quality is poor. Number two, all of the pics feature my beautiful wife Liz, whose accounting prowess made this trip possible once again this year :-) So after being bombarded by everything a comic geek could want at the Convention Center, we retreated to our hotel to check out the area’s options for food and relaxation. Now, this convention is called Chicago but it is actually in Rosemont which is just outside of O’Hare Airport about 30 minutes from downtown. Since we didn’t feel like driving after the long day, we checked out what Rosemont had to offer.

First we stopped for a drink at the WXYZ Bar in the hotel and also got some decent area recommendations from the bartender. The loud group with kids that were checking in earlier had taken over the lounge area and we found it difficult to relax while ten year olds were running around, shooting pool (one of the balls actually did jump the table and flew down into the bar area) and generally being annoying. We ended up having dinner at Bogart’s Bar & Grill which is inside a complex called Muvico 18 across from the hotel. Dinner was good and not as expensive as I had anticipated (awesome, more money for the con). We then headed back to the hotel and the loud group of kids was gone which left a beautiful and peaceful lounge area.

Here is one of my recommendations for the organizers. I feel that there needs to be some organized social events in the area for those that are staying the weekend, and I don’t mean the high-priced cocktail receptions with the celebrities. What I’m thinking of is something along these lines : a comic themed party at a hotel or local club where your weekend pass gets you admission. Cash bar would be cool, with some decent music and areas for gathering and mingling. Maybe show some comic movies or cartoons on screens like some clubs do. Convincing some of the big name artists and writers to attend and mingle would also be a good move. My wife was telling me that when Milwaukee hosted Gen-Con a few years back that there were similar get-togethers for convention-goers and that it was fun to be able to meet others with similar interests in a relaxed atmosphere.

Although it was fun walking around the hotel and hanging at the lounge, giving nods to fellow members of the Green Lantern Corps as they passed by wearing their GL t-shirts, or seeing others with wristband bracelets lugging large bags of goodies. Our hotel lounge also had a large area with big couches, tables and chairs as well as random board games scattered about. Liz and I enjoyed a game of classic Battleship while having drinks that was more fun than it should have been. I would have enjoyed getting to know some people in the lounge but comic fans are an insular bunch and most people seemed to retreat to their own corners.

After a few rounds of shooting pool (poorly) and a few drinks, the sleep need finally set in and we went to enjoy some rest. Although, having forgotten that we were about a mile from one of the world’s busiest airports, there was a period of getting used to the sounds of jets all night long. But, sleep or no sleep, I was going to be up and ready to go bright and early like a kid on Christmas.

Chicago Comic-Con 2009 - Part One (Arrival & Con Floor)

Chicago Comic-Con (formerly Wizard World Chicago) just blew through the Windy City and Liz and I had a blast. Although some publishers were clearly absent, there was still plenty to see (and buy) and some great creators to meet. Click below to read the coverage of Day One :

The first day involved getting there, which honestly only takes about 90 minutes from Milwaukee, and checking in which wasn’t until 3:00 but we were pleasantly surprised to find our room ready to go so we went up to check it out and drop off our bags. We stayed at the Aloft Chicago O’Hare which is one block from the Donald Stephens Convention Center. The rooms were a bit small but arranged in a very cool post-modern minimalist way. They also had a really nice bar and lounge area that I’ll get to later. Although on the way in there was a very loud group of people with many kids checking in, which was weird because it comes off as a very adult-oriented hotel.

After dropping off the baggage we noticed that it started storming a bit, which is completely par for the course on any vacation with me but luckily all of our activities are indoors, so take that Mother Nature. The convention center was easily accessed by walking through the parking structure and then along the 13 mile long Skywalk that links the hotels to the Stephens Center. OK, it’s not 13 miles long but its twists and turns make it seem like a tunnel to nowhere…on the bright side it was very dry and you got to preview some of the people in costume. We were being followed by a rather well done Darth Vader who did not have his helmet on but was still managing to frighten small children, much to our childless snickering.

In the lobby, we picked up my press pass & bracelet (thanks again to Brian from Pendragon’s Post for the connection and the forms), and the weekend pass for my wife, which this year consisted of just a bracelet, so the lanyard that we specifically went to Hot Topic to buy was unnecessary. The bracelets were color coded though so you could tell the hardcore weekend crew from those down for the day. My press bracelet was gold and it was funny seeing creators perk up when they saw it while talking to them. Chalk artist Eric Maruscak was doing a huge chalk and pastel mural of the Ultimate Avengers outside the entrance which was fun to watch throughout the weekend.

A quick flash of the bracelets to the rather bored looking security guards and we’re in. What was the first thing I noticed? DC and Marvel actually aren’t here. I had read online the night before that both of the mega-publishers bailed on Chicago Comic-Con this year and already signed on for the C2E2 (Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo) coming up in April…at first I was extremely disappointed but that passed as we started wandering through the aisles. I just remember last year walking in and seeing the huge Batman banners and full sized Hulk statue and almost going into nerd-shock.

Friday was busy but not overwhelmingly packed as the cons tend to get. One of the first booths on the floor was Aspen where Peter Steigerwald and Talent Caldwell both already had significant lines in front of them for autographs and sketches. Maybe I’ll try to hit them tomorrow because I am a fan of Steigerwald’s coloring talents. The Tonner booth was well done as usual, showing off their collection of detailed collectors dolls. The Get Smart collection was very cool and their Con-Exclusive Catwoman in a purple velvet catsuit was awesome. Unfortunately these tend to be a bit out of my range starting at around $150 and up, but they are still excellent examples of their art.

The vendor area is enormous and you can find everything and anything you want from 1980s Star Wars toys still in the boxes, to the latest releases from toy companies like Shocker and Mattel. On the first day it’s a bit overwhelming and there are certain things I’m searching for but that’s a job for tomorrow. Mark Millar and J. Scott Campbell are signing at the Wizard booth but again, the lines are extraordinary so I’ll take my chances tomorrow when we have more time.

On to Artist’s Alley where our first stop is the bright and cheery booth of friend and local Milwaukee artist Kurt Wood. I try and come up with a challenging sketch for him to do on the cover of his 2009 sketchbook (something like Kurt as Green Lantern dressed as Adam West’s version of Batman) but after flipping through his sketchcards and seeing some sweet villains, my request is simply “Ooooh…how about Deadshot?” Although I did run into another friend from the comic shop who challenged Kurt to do a sketch of himself….as a Muppet (which by the way, looked great).

As we walked through, great costumes abound. My wife, who is quite the seamstress and occasional Renaissance Fair geek (yes you just heard a comic geek call someone else a geek) loves going to the convention to check out the costumes. She had planned two for this year actually, but unfortunately due to some financial and time issues it was not to be. But rest assured, the plans for Halloween have already begun :-) There were two kids who I recognized from last year, the girl was a Green Lantern and the boy was Green Arrow posing with Supergir…..wait a minute, that’s not a girl at all. That’s a 6-foot plus man dressed as Supergirl….well played, sir. Liz also got her picture taken with He-Man, and yes in the picture my wife is taller than He-Man (she is kind of tall and he was kind of short) but he had serious dedication to walk around in so little for the day.

Back to Artist’s Alley where Liz set up a commission with Becca from Wink Studios and we wandered up and down the aisles picking up indie comics wherever something caught our eye. I’m always impressed by the guys who just yell out “Hey, how are you guys? Come over and read a page of my comic!” This is where my disappointment at DC and Marvel became a non-issue. This year, the convention seemed to have more room for the independent creators who are out there selling their hearts out and keeping the industry fresh with their new ideas like Cybernetic Boars and Happy Space Boys. I absolutely love walking through the rows and rows (and there were many) of creators of different levels and talent. It’s absolutely inspiring, and I always get charged up when I get home to get back in my own art studio and pick up the pencil (which I’m blocking out some time for later).

Before we knew it, it was getting to be 5:30 and we needed real food, not just the energy bars that we hid in my bag. Back to the hotel for some fun and relaxing, which you can read about in Part 2. There will be a special section at the end (not sure which part yet) that will focus just on the costumes that we saw (and photographed), and then some of the swag that we came home with.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back from Comic-Con

Hey Everybody,

We're back from the con and after I sort through my purchases, free stuff and pictures I'll be posting my thoughts from the weekend along with pics. All in all, the event was lots of fun, even with the noticeable absence of DC, Marvel and some of the other big name publishers. After my initial disappointment I was able to enjoy the con on a level that I don't think would have been possible had the mega-publishers been there front and center.

Some quick highlights :

- Got to meet a few of my favorite artists like J.G. Jones, Freddie Williams II and J. Scott Campbell
- Artists Alley was impressive and I picked up some great indie comics
- The costumes were, for the most part, pretty incredible (have lots of pics)

Like I said, pics and thoughts will be up in the next day or two.

- Jason

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Off to Comic-Con (Chicago that is...)

Hey Everyone,

Since we're getting ready for Chicago Comic-Con tonight there won't be any of the regular updates this week. Although I will tell you that Secret Six #12 was pretty damn awesome. Anyway....check back next week for pictures, coverage and maybe an interview or two from the Con.

Thanks for reading,

- Jason

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Comic Book Reviews 7/29/2009

Not a bad run this week with decent issues all around, but nothing really stood out as fantastic. Only two quick reviews right now since I’m in a time crunch getting things ready for Chicago ComicCon, but hopefully I’ll have some time for more around mid-week.

What happened? Batwoman continues to be very well illustrated, Kilowog gets yelled at…a lot, Stargirl gets creeped out, Wonder Woman and Black Canary play dress up, Steel gets his alloy ass handed to him and Streaky the Super Cat takes down a jumbo jet. Click below for reviews :

Wonder Woman #34
Story by Gail Simone
Art by Aaron Lopresti

Wow…Rise of the Olympians is finally over. Seems like that story was going on for years, didn’t it? Here we have our first issue with the “post-fallout-with-Zeus-no-longer-an-Amazon” Wonder Woman. She teams up with Black Canary to infiltrate a meta human fighting ring (the Justice League Unlimited episode “Grudge Match” comes to mind) and there is some wonderful interaction between the two. My only small nitpick is that Black Canary’s personality is a bit over the top but it’s a minor concern.

Funny moments abound as they choose undercover costumes and Black Canary refers to Wonder Woman’s chest as “the second most famous bosom” in the superhero community. Who is the first you ask? Power Girl of course, whose chest Black Canary refers to as “a national treasure”.

As I was discussing with the manager at my local comic shop, I keep thinking that I need to drop Wonder Woman and then an issue like this comes out. It’s not that the issues are bad, they just drag on a bit sometimes. Great job by Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti.

Justice Society of America #29
Story by Bill Willingham & Matt Sturges
Art by Jesus Merino

“A New Era Begins For The JSA” says the banner across the top of the cover this month. Bill Willingham (Fables) and Matthew Sturges (Final Crisis Aftermath : Run!) take over writing duties from comic superstar Geoff Johns. The art is handled very well by Jesus Merino (Superman) as we are reintroduced to the JSA team as well as some new members.

The issue reads like Issue #1 of a new series and contains some of the first issue standards : new team members who have awkward meetings (All American Kid & King Chimera), some humor (Stargirl realizing that Obsidian sees everything in the JSA brownstone) and then all hell breaks loose.

JSA had honestly become quite unwieldy (as some big team books have a tendency to do) by the end of Johns’ long run as writer. There seemed to be new members every month and the roster grew too big for the book. This issue gives the team a fresh start with the new creative team and ends with a major metahuman brawl and one hell of a cliffhanger. I’m staying on board with JSA at least for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

First Impressions - 7/29/2009

After a brief hiccup in the posting schedule, First Impressions is back. Reviews for the week and my Blackest Night update will be up tomorrow (Sunday). Chicago Comic-Con is coming up quickly as well! Can't wait. 6 books this week, click below for First Impressions :

Superman #690 - The title of the issue basically says it all - The Setup. More like a preview issue of what's coming in the next few months.

Wonder Woman #34 - ...and the Power Girl chest jokes spill over into Wonder Woman's book. And PG doesn't even make an appearance!

Wednesday Comics #4 - One month in and Supergirl is clearly the standout comic in my opinion with Adam Strange and Deadman gaining.

Justice Society of America #29 - Willingham and Sturges' first issue on JSA starts with one hell of a cliffhanger ending. Not bad guys, not bad at all.

Detective Comics #855 - Beautiful artwork abounds in this issue, and I'm really digging the new villain.

Blackest Night : Tales of the Corps #3 - I was really looking forward to the Kilowog story but his mentor just killed it for me. Maybe on a second read I won't find it as bad. Great art though.