Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happy New Comics Wednseday 9/26/13 - a GREAT week to be a VEGAS comic fan!

Last week of DC's 3d villain titles (also available in 2D for a dollar less!) - what has been your favorite one so far? Mine was last week's Black Hand (I haven't read this weeks yet).
And the first issue of IDW's Power Puff Girls!
Just look at all of these fantastic Image favorites coming out in the same week! Sex criminals looks like it has the makings to join this bunch! Here's some other titles out today not in these photos: Mind Mgmt, The Trial of the Punisher, The Wake, FF, Avengers, Infinity Heist, Ultimate Spider-Man, Young Avengers, Nova, Tom Strong, Unwritten, Uncanny Avengers, and Fatale!

As if all of this New Comics Wednesday feast of great comics wasn't enough, here's what else is happening tonight at Alternate Reality Comics, Friday night at Alternate, and this weekend:

Tonight from 5-8pm, Alternate Reality Comics will be having the opening reception of local artist, John Gamble and his amazing mechanical pencil creations! With complimentary snacks, wine,  and other beverages while you visit with the artist and the other art lovers who will be showing up!

Friday, from 5-7pm, at Alternate, we're having artist Ryan Sook (B.P.R.D, Kamandi, Spectre, Zatanna, X Factor, and numerous covers for DC and Marvel) as our launch for this weekend's Las Vegas Comic Expo (and Ryan Sook will be doing free head sketches at the store - let's give him a BIG Vegas welcome!):

The second annual Las Vegas Comic Expo is happening this weekend at the Riviera Hotel and if you were at last years Expo, you know a fun time is in store! Lots of great guests, great exhibitors, panels, people in fun eye candy costumes, and just a great way to have a wonderful geekend! Alternate Reality Comics will be at adjoining booths 309 and 311, so stop by and say hi to Epstein puppet, myself and the Alternate Crew!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cyborg 009; Desanto, Camp, To, & Herring

 Cyborg 009 is a much beloved, best selling manga series created by Shotaro Ishinomori, that also was done as an anime, live action television show and even feature length movies. Cyborg 009 was the ninth in a series of cyborgs created to be used for military reasons, but Cyborg 009 and the other eight cyborgs aren't on board with this plan.
A couple of weeks ago, Archaia (the graphic novel company that has produced beautiful graphic novels such as Jim Henson's A Tale of Sand, Fraggle Rock, and Mouse Guard), released this beautiful, new, full color, hardcover Cyborg 009 graphic novel and it has to be seen in person to fully appreciate what a gorgeous production this is (the cover image posted above  looks simple here on the internet, but come by Alternate Reality Comics to see how different this cover really is!).

Written by F.J. Desanto and Bradley Cramp and drawn by Marcus To (he's done some DC comics like Flash, but nothing that's suggested he could do this level of art) and colored by Ian Herring, Cyborg 009 is an action packed story with a lot of heart and a person doesn't have to be familiar with previous / original incarnations of Cyborg 009 to appreciate this new graphic novel. As good as the story is, the real stars of Archaia's Cyborg 009 are artists Marcus To and colorist Ian Herring. The comic book medium has a lot of great artists and colorists, but To and Herring with their Cyborg 009, have created a graphic novel that's the closest thing to being an anime on paper that I've ever seen, with their great story-telling chops which makes Cyborg 009 a very kinetic experience.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Peter Panzerfaust; Kurtis J. Wiebe & Tyler Jenkins

The past couple of days I read the first two volumes of Image Comics' Peter Panzerfaust, written by Kurtis J. Wiebe and illustrated by Tyler Jenkins. This is a pretty great comic book on all fronts. All I'm going to say here is that if you're not already familiar with the premise of Peter Panzerfaust, basically it's Peter Pan in World War II (without the magic elements of the classic Peter Pan story though), with the central characters taking a proactive position against the Nazis. One of the things I like most about this comic is that it's narrated by some of the characters from the story in our present, recounting what they went through during WWII - usually I don't like this kind of story-telling, but here it works really well. Peter Panzerfaust is a totally enjoyable, fast paced story with a lot of heart, great characters, and great art.

Avengers: Children's Crusade; Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung

Avengers Children's Crusade was a nine issue series (collected in one nice softcover collection) that came out from 2010-2012, written by Allan Heinberg (creator and writer of television's Grey's Anatomy) and drawn by Jim Cheung, and is a followup to their Young Avengers run. Actually, Avengers Children's Crusade is really mostly features the Young Avengers characters and mostly has the title Avengers instead of Young Avengers because that probably helped this title get a bigger audience.A person could this not having read the previous adventures of the Young Avengers, but that's also collected in a nice big volume, called Ultimate Young Avengers.

In addition to being a continuation of the Young Avengers characters, Children's Crusade is also the story that addressed what happened to the Scarlet Witch after what she did in the mini series, House of M. There's a lot going on in this nine issue series and a lot of characters running around, but Allan Heinberg gives all of the characters within chances to shine, there's great character interactions, and the villains (Doctor Doom and some would say Scarlet Witch, who is trying to redeem herself here) are apt threats to the power levels of these Young Avengers, and the ending is a good one, not a lackluster one or non-conclusive one as to many superhero story endings are (especially on event series).

Although this was Heinberg and Cheung's swan song on these characters as Heinberg went back to television writing and Jim Cheung is sadly too slow for any kind of regular series, the new Young Avengers series has some of the same characters and some interesting new ones and under the creative team of Kieron Gillen and Jaime McKelvie, is just as exciting and well drawn (and I'd argue that it's even more innovative) as when the Young Avengers first came on the scene.

A reminder: the Las Vegas Comic Expo is next weekend at the Riviera and original Young Avengers artist, Jim Cheung, will be one of the big featured guests!

Locke & Key v1; Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez

Joe Hill is a horror short story and novel writer ( Heart Shaped Box, Horns) as well as a comic book writer, who also happens to be the son of best selling horror novelist, Stephen King. Joe Hill first came on the comic book scene with an adaptation of his short story, the Cape, which is one of the darkest things I've ever read. The Cape, as with his comic series (and series of graphic novels, of which there's five to date), Locke and Key is published by IDW.

The first volume of Locke & Key introduces us to the Locke family and what happens to them that and causes them to move to the small town of Lovecraft. They move into a house / mansion called Keyhouse and before this first volume concludes we find out that there are various keys which people with hidden agendas want. Horror definitely abounds in Locke & Key, there's a lot of mystery, but there's also good characters within and great, very expressive, spooky art by Gabriel Rodriguez. I'd put Locke & Key up there with series like Y The Last Man and Walking Dead because all three of these titles share great characters that actually develop over the course of issues / volumes, horror / suspense, and they're quite the page turners - after reading what ever issue you just finished, you can't wait for the next one.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Happy New Comics Wednesday 9/17/13! DC 3D week three! What happened to the red vines!?

Have these DC villain month 3D covers been some of the coolest use of 3D or what!?
Probably my favorite of all of the villain one shots that DC is doing throughout September is this week's Black Hand - written by Chris Soule, Black Hand is back to the crazy depths of darkness that he had when Geoff Johns wrote that character! This week we also finally get a trade paperback collection of the classic 1970's series, The Secret Society of Super-Villains (one of my favorites when I was first reading comics many moons ago! And a collection of the first Star Wars ongoing series that Brian Wood is writing!
Zero, is a new series by Alex Kot (Chance, Suicide Squad) and it's FANTASTIC - every issue will be self contained, with a bigger connecting over arc going on as well. This feels like the making of a really BIG story! Infinity #3!!! - actually I haven't read it yet, so it better live up to the extra "!'s I've given it (grin)! Some other great titles out this week that are not pictured, because there's only so much room on the front counter: Daredevil, Fables, Uncanny X-Men (Children of the Atom pt. 4), Powers, Thor, Batman '66, and..... (I have to leave some surprises, right!?) And because two of the Smart and Final stores were out of Red Vines, I had to get grape vines - they're kind of interesting, but Alternate Reality Comics wasn't built on grape vines (grin!), stop by and sample a grape one and tell me what you think of that flavor!

Friday, September 13, 2013

From Up On Poppy Hill - a WONDERFUL movie!

 No Spoilers - just some RAVE impressions of From Up On Poppy Hill, an EXCELLENT movie that EVERYONE should watch! Whatever you do before watching this movie, do NOT read the back cover description and especially do NOT read the booklet included with the DVD until after watching the movie!

From Up On Poppy Hill is based on a manga of the same name that came out in 1980, the screenplay was co-written by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by his son, Goro Miyazaki (and is light years ahead of Goro Miyazaki's debut Tales From EarthSea, which I couldn't even finish). All you need to know about From Up On Poppy Hill is that it is set in Japan, 1963, and is primarily about two young characters, Umi and Shun and... (watch the movie and let the story unravel without knowing anything else and your From Up On Poppy Hill experience will be all the richer!).
Here's another poster that was used in Japan upon the release there of From Up On Poppy Hill, illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki. This was released briefly here in the U.S. theatrically earlier this year, but somehow I never saw it (don't know if it made it here in Vegas), but when I saw that it was being released on DVD, being a HUGE Miyazaki enthusiast (he's my favorite filmmaker), I had to get it. Before watching it, I really hadn't heard much buzz about it at all, so I was just expecting a good little movie. Well a few minutes into From Up On Poppy Hill, I knew that this was going to be a favorite and besides it being my favorite movie of the year, it ranks up there with another favorite Studio Ghibli movie, Whisper of the Heart (please look that up and watch it if you haven't already) - actually, the only reason that Whisper of the Heart edges out From Up On Poppy Hill for me is its excellent use of John Denver's Country Road song (which is sung in Japanese and  is part of the story in Whisper of the Heart), but the music in From Up On Poppy Hill is excellent too, as are its characters and plot. There's nothing fantastical going on in From Up On Poppy Hill, as it's basically a people story set in the real world, but movies like this show that there is plenty of magic and fantastic things in our everyday world. As many of you may have heard, Hayao Miyazaki has said he's retiring from film-making and his The Wind Rises (now playing in Japan and set to open in the U.S. at the end of this year) will be his last movie, but with From Up On Poppy Hill, it looks like his son is now ready to continue to steer Studio Ghibli into the future.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Happy New Comics Wednesday 9/11/13! FUN, great comics & graphic novels abound!

3D DC Villain Week 2! Scott Snyder does a Riddler one shot and how about that Court of Owls cover!? Geoff Johns co-writes a Black Mantra one shot (and aren't we sad that he'll be leaving the writing on Aquaman shortly?)! The second JMS / Tom Mandrake Sidekicks - the first issue was pretty dark! Walking Dead the followup to last issues craziness and the lead in to #115's twelve part bi-weekly All Out War! East of West - first collection for only $9.99 - see what everyone's been talking about, this is such a great Hickman / Dragotta series!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sweet Tooth; Jeff Lemire

Earlier this year, Jeff Lemire's excellent Vertigo series, Sweet Tooth, ended after 40 issues (collected in six trade paperbacks). I was reading it when it came out monthly, but somewhere I got behind (not for lack of loving what I'd read) and decided to wait until it was over and read the entire series in one go. Well today was that day and as I suspected, reading Sweet Tooth this way was a very enjoyable experience.

Jeff Lemire, is a modern day comic book writer / illustrator, creator, like Matt Kindt (Mind Mgt., Red Handed), who is telling / drawing comics unlike anyone else currently doing comics. Lemire, with his creator owned projects like Sweet Tooth and his new Vertigo series, Trillium, is always looking for new ways to create sequential art stories and his artistic experiments also very much serve the greater story he is telling.

Sweet Tooth is a post apocalyptic story in which people are dying in great numbers (an unexplained event called the Sickness) and a new species is being born called Hybrids, who have animal and human traits, such as Gus, one of the central characters, who has antlers on his head. Sweet Tooth is a very thrilling, fast past story, with lots of mystery, but it also has great characters for which you'll very early on become attached to and you'll be very invested in what happens to them. The entirety of Sweet Tooth is done without any missteps (there's also a couple of chapters drawn by Matt Kindt, that totally enhances the story being told) and the ending is perfect - need I say HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy New Comics Wednesday 9/4/13 - to say that today is a BIG release day is a HUGE understatement!

DC Villains Month starts today!! Having read the first issue of the mini series that kicks off these one shot villain titles, Forever Evil, I'm here to tell you that the first issue is REALLY good, you'll know from the first issue whether this is a book you'll be sticking with! It's by Geoff Johns and David Finch, so I'm surprised more people didn't sign up for this title, especially given Geoff Johns' track record at writing really good villains (remember his four year Flash run?) and David Finch does some pretty dynamic art too! The first issue of The Star Wars is also on the slate for today (haven't read that yet) - it's an eight issue adaptation of the original treatment of what the Star Wars movies became (meaning Episode Four specifically)! This is another new title that I'm surprised more people didn't sign up for in advance of its release (Alternate Reality Comics has a lot of copies, because I think people will be curious about this). Everyone loved the first issue of Trililum by Jeff Lemire, right? Well if you want to ensure not missing future issues, signing up for this issue will help us know how to stock this - sorry if this post seems to lean heavy on adding titles to your pull and hold file, but with  the sea of titles out there, we can't just order an infinite amount of everything (at the same time, I do understand that people want to check out a new title for an issue or two before committing to it, because no one can buy everything, so if you just like to come into your favorite comic store and be surprised at what's available that's cool too of course - and there's always the trade paperback collection if you miss out).

Second issue of Infinity! And Marvel tries to go one on one with DC's Forever Evil event by releasing X-Men Children of the Atom #1 and All New X-Men #16, which is chapter two of Children of the Atom. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, not many people signed up for X-Men Children of the Atom, which I think is odd as it is very "important" to what's going on in All New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. Spidey 2099 pops up in Superior Spider-Man! - what's up with that (I haven't read this yet)!?

God is Dead - new Jonathan Hickman title! Mocking Dead looks like it could be fun (or it could very well be a stupid attempt to cash in on Walking Dead). Reality Check, a new Image title, looks like an interesting, different new series. And Batman Black and White is back, a title that features short black and white Batman stories by some of the best comic creators out there (I think the Chipp Kidd / Michael Cho story is worth the price of this first issue all by itself)!
Yes, we will have some of the DC villain month 3D lenticular covers available, but a lot of them have been absorbed by people who filled out our Villain month sign up sheet (including our club subscription files which had a copy of this form within) we had at the front counter for six weeks. We ordered well above what we had people signed up for because we thought these would be fun one shots that could have a long shelf life beyond just the "normal" one month sell through cycle. Comic stores all across the U.S. also ordered heavily on these 3D titles, so heavy that they exceeded DC's 200% overprint, so DC had to allocate (reduce the number of copies retailers ordered across the board) the amounts every store would get. Normally a publisher knows how many to print up (the amount stores would like) before they set the print run, but because this cover process took longer than normal printing does, they needed a longer print window so they just guessed what they thought stores would want. This is going to happen all through September unfortunately and yes this should have been handled differently by DC, but there's no undoing it now, so please don't beat up your favorite comic stores too much as this really was beyond our control (additionally, I hope it doesn't appear that I'm just attacking DC, rather I just want to share what has happened here). Villain month should still be fun and DC has also made available standard 2D cover versions of all of these titles (which will come out on the same day as the 3D cover version) and they're a dollar cheaper!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Building Stories; Chris Ware

This morning I FINALLY got around to reading the entirety of Chris Ware's Building Stories. Building Stories originally came out in October of 2012 and it's really surprising that I haven't read this prior to today, especially as Chris Ware is one of my favorite sequential art writer / artists.  I think a part of me knew, based on the emotional drain that one gets from reading Ware's work, that Building Stories would have to wait until a great block of time could be devoted to it.

Building Stories, is a GIANT boxed production housing (pun intended) many different parts that combine into one graphic novel, HUGE  fold out comics that are bigger than Sunday newspaper comics, small comic booklets, over-sized 16-25 page comics, and two hardcover "conventional" graphic novelettes. There is no directional key to direct the reader as to which way Building Stories should be read, so I just chose to read the big fold outs and little booklets first and ended with the two longer hardcover graphic novelettes (all of the various pieces of Building Stories are inter-connected and there's probably no right or wrong order in which to read them, but I'd recommend ending with the two hardcover books).

Anyone who has ever read any any Chris Ware graphic novel knows that he tells just about the saddest stories you'll ever read. Ware does this with every new graphic novel he does, but at the same time, all of these stories are different. Building Stories is mostly about this young woman (never named) who has an artificial leg, through various stages and experiences in her life. She leads a pretty uneventful life, sad (of course) life. This is all related throughout Building Stories in very interwoven ways, but also done somehow in beautiful minute detail fashion.  Chis Ware's art, which often takes the form of many many panels per page, has always been terrific at showing a character's day to day activities, but he's really refined his prose in Building Stories to enhance the existential details of his characters. Actually the two hardcover books included in Building Stories also have pages in which the building / buildings narrate themselves as if they were living entities (and in a lot of ways they could be considered as such) and this is a further bonus to the experience that reading Building Stories is.

Yes, it can be exhausting reading about the unrelenting sadness that permeates Building Stories and Chris Ware's other works, such as his Acme Novelty Library graphic novels, but they are also rewarding as they will get you to reflect on your life, people around you, and how you interact with and treat others.