Archive for January, 2010
Holy hell did a lot of comics come out this week! Pick of the Week goes to Geoff Johns & Doug Mahnke for Green Lantern #50 (DC). Fast Five picks include New Avengers #61 (Marvel), Gotham City Sirens #8 (DC), Daredevil #504 (Marvel), Detective Comics #861 (DC), and Avengers: The Initiative #32 (Marvel).
I’m battling a cold, so please forward all your support and well wishes to Haiti.
Do yourself a favor and check-out these great comics pronto!
Hot damn what a good week! Pick of the Week goes to Warren Ellis and Facundo Percio for Anna Mercury 2 #3 (Avatar). How can you go wrong with space vikings? Fast Five picks include Blackest Night: The Flash #2 (DC), Dark Wolverine #82 (Marvel), Power Girl #8 (DC), Fables #92 (Vertigo), and Blackest Night: Starman #81 (DC).
Lotta dark / black titles out this week, huh?
I live! Pick of the Week goes to Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul for Adventure Comics #6 (DC). Fast Five picks include Conan: The Weight of the Crown #1 (Dark Horse), Amazing Spider-Man #617 (Marvel), Absolution #6 (Avatar), PunisherMAX #3 (MAX), and The Anchor #4 (BOOM! Studios).
And yes, I realize that I do eat crow in the closing remarks.
No Pick of the Week to start-off the New Year, but we we do have a Fast Five! Picks include Haunt #4 (Image), House of Mystery #21 (Vertigo), The Mighty #12 (DC), Sweet Tooth #5 (Vertigo), and Suicide Squad #67 (DC).
By the time you view this episode, I’ll be in Las Vegas getting mauled by tigers (if I’m lucky!).
Book Of The Month – January
The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite
Written by Gerard Way
Art by Gabriel Bá
When it comes to superhero teams in comics nowadays, the market is flooded. Each one a knock-off of the one before it, with very little room for standing out and captivating a new audience. Comic fans know what they like, so to introduce a favorable new team to them that isn’t a tweaked version of the X-Men or Teen Titans is not an easy task to accomplish. Furthermore, to have the writer be a successful celebrity in another medium that appeals to the “Hot Topic” crowd, is just on the road to ruin straight-out the gate. Before one page is even published, you’re already fighting an uphill battle against all the internet trolls that post at various forums and websites dealing with comics. You just can’t win.
Or can you?
Enter The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite written by Gerard Way, of My Chemical Romance fame, and art by Gabriel Ba, a little-known artist from Brazil who has a twin brother. These two did the unthinkable and created a comic book that is loved by many people from all walks of life. To be fair, it took awhile to finally catch-on. With the name “Gerard Way” on the cover, unfortunately many comic folks wouldn’t dare touch it, fearing it was going to associate them with being a fan of goth / emo / screamo music. I personally am a fan of My Chemical Romance, but I’m hardly what you could call a die-hard fan of the band. I almost don’t want to admit that I listen to the music, just because I’m afraid people would automatically slap me with the label “bias”, and that’s the only explanation of why I would pick-up such a comic. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Gerard Way is a hardcore comic book fan. As a matter of fact, he was working at DC Comics as an intern up until 9/11 happened, and he then took to music.
So enough about the back story of how the comic came to be, and onward to what it’s about; it’s about family. More specifically, a dysfunctional family of seven children who were all born at the same time and raised by a wealthy alien posing as human, who will all one day save the world from total annihilation. Got your attention? Good. The seven children are raised to fight crime and save the day with the powers they were born with, all given a number instead of a name. Eventually we come to know them by their codenames, and each of their unique personalities.
Spaceboy (00.01) is the team leader, and due to an accident on a mission to Mars, has the body of a space ape thanks to an experimental surgery to save his life. The Kraken (00.02) is the rogue of the group, doing things his own way (which usually consists of a sharp knife). The Rumor (00.03) can make things happen just by starting her sentence with “I heard a rumor…” which makes her very dangerous. The Séance (00.04) is a rather morbid fellow, who is able to channel the dead (among many other psychic abilities). The Boy (00.05) disappeared into the future, and remained there for sixty years before coming back. He may look like a boy still, but he’s incredible deadly. The Horror (00.06) is dead. And finally, Vanya (00.07) isn’t special at all, and plays the violin. Together, they saved the world countless times when they were children. In the present, they’re only back together because of the death of their father.
During their family reunion, darker things are happening at the Icarus Theater where the villain known as The Conductor is composing the end of the world, The Apocalypse Suite, and Vanya is the missing key. Eventually turning her against her adopted family, she personally leads the symphony of destruction with her newly acquired powers. First her family, then the world. So to call them a dysfunctional family would be putting it lightly. Whenever I fight with my sister, billions of lives don’t hang in the balance.
The art on this series is just absolutely superb and breathtaking. Gabriel Ba really does a fantastic job creating such a uniformed team in his abstract style. Usually when you think of what a superhero is suppose to look like, you might think of a Jim Lee or Rob Liefeld type figure, with muscles galore and crisp, clean pectorals. With Ba’s style, they feel how they act; disheveled. His attention to detail has you completely captivated, making you smile as you turn to examine every inch of every page. Dave Stewart’s colors compliment the art very nicely, and do a great job setting the tone and setting of the dialogue. As children we’re told to color inside of the lines, and what Stewart sometimes does is color outside the lines ever-so slightly, making worlds of difference when you’re indulged in the colors. Finally, the covers by James Jean are out of this world. I don’t know how Way & Ba got so lucky to get him to contribute the covers, but they are exceedingly beautiful, almost bringing me to the verge of tears (I kid you not, look at the cover to issue four).
I personally think this is the perfect comic book series. We’ll always have the constantly changing Justice Society of America and X-Force titles, but once in a blue moon a series like The Umbrella Academy will come along and completely blow everyone away. The fact that it’s not a series from decades past, but merely a few years ago still boggles the mind, for it has already survived and has amassed a huge fanbase on the same scale as some of the Marvel and DC titles currently have. I cannot tell you how many times I have recommended it to non-comic book fans and got them hooked. They don’t have to worry about any continuity or origin stories, for it’s all right there in six issues.
So remember, never judge a book by its cover, especially this one. A second series is already out, and a movie is also in the works. Jump on board and have a fun time, for I personally guarantee you’ll love it.
In this 2009 wrap-up, I discuss my favorite Writers, Artists, Series, Story Arc, Single Issue, and Hardcover.
Best Writers – Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Peter Tomasi, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns
Best Artists – J.H. Williams III, Tony Daniel, Sean Phillips, Eric Powell, Gabriel Ba
Best Series – Detective Comics (DC), Scalped (Vertigo), Green Lantern Corps (DC), Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel), Green Lantern (DC)
Story Arc – Detective Comics #854-857 “Elegy”
Single Issue – Jonah Hex #50
Don’t agree with my picks? Complain about how wrong I am on the forum!