Friday, July 29, 2011

La Mano del Destino; J. Gonzo

Wow, what a great week for new comics, with the new LOEG Century: 1969, The Cape #1, Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search For Swamp Thing, Kirby Genesis, and Captain America and Bucky to name just a few new arrivals that are top notch! But my pick of the week goes to a new title called La Mano del Destino, written and drawn by J. Gonzo!

La Mano del Destino is unlike any other comic being published today, and the great writing, art, and characters by newcomer J. Gonzo (well new to me as I've not heard of him before) make me want the next issue right now! What is La Mano del Destino about?: masked warriors in a land called MesoAmerica (Mexico), but really after you read the first issue you'll see that there's more going on than your average slugfest comic. I like this line from the first issue: "Luchador does not don his mask to conceal his identity, but rather, to reveal it."

Here's a link to J. Gonzo's La Mano del Destino, with a cool trailer (with cool musci) that will give you another imprssion of what J. Gonzo is doing:

I only have a handful of issues left at my store, because I was unfamiliar with J. Gonzo's work so i wanted to sample it first , but I'll be ordering more directly from the cartoonist. You can also read the entire first issue (and all future issues) at the above linked website and I'm sure that you'll enjoy La Mano del Destino so much, you'll want to have the print version (and of course actually buying the comic will help J. Gonzo make more great comics)!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

LOEG 1969 has ARRIVED!

One of the best ways I can think of to close out a long day is to read the newest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume, Century: 1969, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. This is going on for sale tomorrow (some of you lucky bastards may have already gotten a copy at last week's San Diego convention).


If you haven't ready any of the previous League of Extraordinary volumes, well Century: 1969 isn't going to make a lick of sense to you. LOEG Century: 1969 isn't as easy to get into as the very first two volumes of LOEG and it probably helps if you have knowledge of the occult (which I don't have), as most of the plot and affairs of Century: 1969 revolve around the occult, but the further you read into Century: 1969, you'll come to appreciate what Moore and O'Neill are doing with this volume of LOEG (this actually being the second of three installments, the first being Century: 1910 that came out a couple of years ago and the third to be called Century: 2009, which hopefully won't take two more years to come out, that takes place over the course of a century).

While LOEG Century: 1969 isn't the leisurely read that the first two volumes of LOEG are, this of course doesn't mean that it's not great, instead it's one of those graphic novels that when you revisit after reading previous volumes, you'll pick up on how interconnected everything is in all of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen stories and if you're like me, you'll have further appreciation for what Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill have conjured with this series.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Captain America movie; one of the best superhero movies ever!

No spoilers following, just excited impressions after seeing the new Captain America movie this afternoon:

Of all of the summer superhero movies, the one I've been most looking forward to has been Captain America (even though I wanted the Green Lantern movie to do the best in the box office so that DC could go up against Marvel's blockbusters - at least DC does better in the animation department). I loved that the filmmakers set Captain America during World War I because that's pretty important to the characters back story and if done right is a period that should easily have made for a good different kind of superhero movie. After seeing a couple of trailers, I was thinking that they'd have to mess up pretty bad to not live up to those trailers. I'm happy to report that the Captain America movie exceeded my expectations and is easily in my top five of all time superhero movies, if not number one (yes, I think it may be even better than the Christopher Nolan Batman movies).

This Captain America movie has everything, a great story, great characters, great casting, great effects / adventure, and great music. The pacing on the Captain America movie is great, as is the drama and suspense, no character does anything really stupid, there's not any crazy suspension of belief going on, and there are good amounts of humor and eye candy special effects and performances that will surely click with a good cross section of people. I actually wish there was going to be another Captain America movie before the Avengers movie is released next summer to better explore what happens at the end of this movie, but the Avengers movie looks like it'll be fun (it better be, they've teased us that this was upcoming for YEARS). Seriously, this isn't just a perfect superhero movie, it's pretty much a perfect movie.

Friday, July 22, 2011

DC Retroactive 1970s

DC Comics, through the end of August, are releasing one shot, self-contained comics called DC Retroactive that will feature creators from yesteryear working on characters they've worked on in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s with a representation of a comic from that time period as the second half of the comic. The Batman 1970 that came out this week features a new story by Len Wein and Tom Mandrake and is a perfect example of the kind of Batman stories done during that period. The classic story represented was also written by Len Wein and drawn by John Calnan and Dick Giordano. Solid entertainment!
The Flash 1970 that came out this week is my favorite of the three DC Retroactive released this week and is by Cary Bates, Benito Callego and Sal Buscema. The story is titled "Son of Grodd" and is a fun, smart story about Barry Allen's (The Flash) wife, Iris, having difficulty getting pregnant and what she does to try to solve this. The comic represented from yesteryear that's also included is written by Martin Pasko, with art by J.L. Garcia Lopez and Dan Adkins and is a Flash / Superman against Professor Zoom story - fun stuff!

The Wonder Woman 1970 that came out this week is written by Dennis O'Neil and drawn by J. Bone (in the style of the artist that was working on WW back in the early 1970s) and is good, but odd, which I attribute to them wanting to create a story that could have been an issue released back in 1970 (which is the point, but this was an especially odd time for Wonder Woman). The old story is by Denny O'Neil and Dick Giordano. Not my favorite of the three, but still an interesting curio. All of these DC Retroactive comics are worth checking out and we have three more coming out next week!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm a 2011 Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer finalist!!

Last night I was tooling around online and saw via The Hollywood Reporter that Alternate Reality Comics had been selected as one of the finalists for this years 2011 Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing Award! I wasn't sure if their list was the entire list of finalists (as their wording says "amongst the finalists"), but after seeing this list of finalists pop up on the official San Diego Comic-con International site and a couple of other sites, well joy and jubilation!

Every year the comic book industry has their own Oscars / Academy Awards, called The Will Eisner Award, also known as The Eisners, named after legendary cartoonist great Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit, and the graphic novels that include A Contract With God and The Dreamer. The Eisners are awarded to the best comics and graphic novels of the preceding year, with the winners being announced on the Friday of the San Diego Comic-Con (this years ceremony will be tomorrow night, July 22nd).

Since 1993, The Eisners also have a category called The Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing Award, which puts the spotlight on comic book stores by awarding one (there have been years in which there were two stores that won) as the best store in the U.S. / world. The amount of stores that enter and or are nominated varies every year, but based on the stores that I know were nominated (and almost no one knows how many stores are nominated from year to year, except for the judges, who change ever year), this year had an especially high amount of top notch stores and I've heard from several sources that making the selection for the finalists was especially difficult. I've seen a few of the videos (part of the submission packet) that some of the stores posted online in the past week and I'm very SURPRISED at some of the stores not amongst the finalists (including another Vegas store that entered, Maximum Comics), but I think this just illustrates that there are more great comic stores today than ever before and I just got a good roll of the dice.

Being a 2011 Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing finalist and getting this recognition from my peers is a great milestone in my 17 years (thus far!) of owning Alternate Reality Comics and I really could not have done this without the patronage / friendship of my beloved customers, the creators of the many wonderful comics and graphic novels that exist, and the publishers and distributors who make everything come together. I, like comic book store owners (and employees) everywhere, already am a winner every day we can keep our doors open talking and selling comics regardless as to who the ultimate recipient of the 2011 Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing Award goes to, but that's not saying that I wouldn't be uber happy to be THE winner this year! Huge thanks most also be given to this years judges for selecting Alternate Reality Comics as one of this years finalists and to Steven Matview, who produced my video for the submission packet when I was deadline crunching and my wife, Kate, Paul, and Ashleigh, who also helped greatly with said video.

Here's a link to my store video for those of you who haven't seen it yet:

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Homeland Directive; Venditti & Huddleston

Last week, Top Shelf released another fine graphic novel, The Homeland Directive, written by Robert Venditti (Surrogates) and drawn by Mike Huddleston (The Coffin and Deep Sleeper). What is The Homeland Directive about?: The central character is Dr. Laura Regan, who works as a researcher / authority on viral and bacteriological study at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Her research partner is murdered and she gets involved in a governmental conspiracy frame-up. Here's another sound-bite summation of what The Homeland Directive is about (from the inside flap of this graphic novel): "Set in the Orwellian present, The Homeland Directive confronts one of the vital questions of our time: In an era when technology can either doom or save us, is it possible for personal privacy and national security to coexist?" This graphic novel couldn't be more timely and Venditti and Huddleston tell this story with great characters and an intensity that makes The Homeland Directive a great thriller.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Red Wing: Hickman & Pitarra

Red Wing is a new creator owned comic published by Image, written by Jonathan Hickman (Fantastic Four, SHIELD, Pax Romana) and drawn by Nick Pitarra. Red Wing is about fighting a war across the time stream and anyone who knows me, knows that I usually get a headache when I hear that a story involves time travel. Well because Jonathan Hickman is such a smart writer, the fact that time travel is going on in Red Wing doesn't impare my enjoyment of this book at all. The only "negative" thing I can say about Red Wing is that it's only a four issue mini series, which seems too short for a story of this scope, but I like to think this will get such great word of mouth that it will sell fantastically and there'll be more stories to follow.

Anyone who has read anything by Jonathan Hickman already knows that he's a great thinking outside of the box writer, but I was unsure about the artist for Red Wing as I hadn't seen any of his work until I read this first issue. Well I'm sure I don't have to tell anyone looking at the interior page here, from Red Wing #1, that Nick Pitarra's art will have people talking and companies trying to employ him. So yes, Red Wing #1 is my top pick of the week and that's saying a lot because there was a lot of great comics that came out this week!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Starman: James Robinson

The past couple of months, when I'm not trying to keep up on reading new comics and graphic novels, I've been re-reading one of the BEST superhero comics ever, James Robinson's Starman, which are now collected in six hardcover omnibuses. Starman ran for 81 issues from 1994 until 2001, but also had many special issues, including annuals and mini-series, so Robinson's Starman really ran for about 100 issues.

Starman is one of DC's legacy characters, meaning there's been different versions of this character throughout their companies history and James Robbinson wrote his Starman incorporating the other Starmans as well as the rich history the DC universe has. A person doesn't have to have read any other DC superhero comics to enjoy Robinson's Starman as he thoroughly explores the characters legacy in addition to writing fantastic stories about Jack Knight (his Starman) and his rich supporting cast.

Each volume of the Starman omnibuses have an afterward by James Robinson in which he talks about every issue as well as recounting some personal things he and his artists were going through while they were working on this landmark series. As Robinson relates in one of his afterwards, his Starman is his ode to the great superhero characters in DC's stable as well as being his forum for telling just plain great stories that transcend the slugfest aspects of this genre.

Starman should be sitting on book shelves everywhere right next to Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Seriously, no amount of hype can do justice to what an incredible series James Robinson's Starman is. I read this comic when it came out monthly and have long been meaning to revisit it. I thought it was great then and was one of my favorites, but I didn't remember it being THIS good. Actually, like many long series that have a lot of characters, are telling different kinds of stories within the series, and is highly personal as Starman is, I think reading them in collected form (or digging out all of the individual issues) is the way to go to fully appreciate the scope of what's being done. James Robinson's Starman takes a long time to read (I just finished the fourth of the six omnibuses), but it's in no way a chore to read, rather Robinson just goes into so much depth with every facet of the main character, the supporting characters, and Opal City (which is a BIG part of this series). There are so many seemingly small moments and details in Robinson's Starman, and it is a delight to see how he brings EVERYTHING together.

James Robinson's Starman wouldn't be a tenth of what it is / was if it were not for the huge creative vision and artistic talent of artist Tony Harris, who did most of the first forty five issues. While Tony Harris "just" did half of the art of the whole run of Starman, his style so clearly defined the series that people often forget that many great artists contributed to this series, such as Peter Snejbjerg, Gene Ha, JH Williams III, Steve Yowell, Gary Erskine, Mike Mignola, and many others.

I hope to finish the last two volumes of the Starman Omnibuses in the next two weeks, so I'll have more thoughts when I get done with them. They are pricey at $49.99, but that's because each volume contains over 400 pages (and they're really nice productions). Starting today until these books go out of print (which is hopefully never), here at Alternate Reality Comics, I'm going to have each volume on sale always at 25% off the cover price so that more people can afford the benchmark of great story-telling (and art) that is Starman!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Gingerbread Girl

Gingerbread Girl is a delightful new graphic novel by writer, Paul Tobin, and artist, Colleen Coover, and published by Top Shelf. Gingerbread Girl is about Annah Billips, who thinks she has a missing sister, but others think that the missing sister or "Gingerbread Girl" as she's referred to, is an imaginary sister that Annah thinks is real.

The mystery of the "Gingerbread Girl" is told by Annah and the other characters in the breaking the fourth wall fashion, which of course means that the characters talk directly to the reader, a story-telling device that many long time readers of Ich Liebe Comics! already know is at the top of my list of ways to tell a story.

Even if the Gingerbread Girl story wasn't fun and engaging (which it is), Collen Coover is one of my favorite artists (if you like the interior page shown here, you're pretty much sold on the book already, I'm thinking). In my perfect world, Colleen Coover would draw every comic at least once - can you imagine how cool it would be to see her draw a Green Lantern or Hulk comic!? And you heard it here first - at this years Vegas Valley Comic Festival (November 5th), Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover will be amongst the guests!