Posts Tagged ‘Fables

24
Apr
13

Everything But Imaginary #487: Follow the Four-Color Road

You may have noticed, but I’ve been on something of an Oz kick lately.Books, movies… and yeah, comic books. So today in Everything But Imaginary, I take a look at the land of Oz in comic books, past and present, with even a glimpse of future in there.

Everything But Imaginary #487: Follow the Four-Color Road

12
Mar
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 259: John Carter and Books on the Screen

With John Carter finally in movie theaters a century after publication, with Game of Thrones and Dexter burning up your TV screens, this week we take a look at other books that should be made into movies or TV shows. In the picks, Erin goes with Fables Vol. 7 and Blake takes Action Comics #7. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 259: John Carter and Books to the Screen

10
Feb
12

What I’m Reading in 2012

Annually, I keep a running tally of all the books, graphic novels, and short stories I read. This list includes re-reads, as well as audiobooks I listen to over the course of the year, but I don’t include individual short stories if I read all of them as part of a collection. In related news, I really overthink the hell out of this stuff. And should the book be something I review online, I’ll provide a link so you can see my thoughts.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, here’s what I’ve read thus far in 2012:

1. A Tale of Sand (2011), Jim Henson & Jerry Juhl, B+*
2. Who’s Who: The Resurrection of the Doctor, Martin Beland and the Staff of The Guardian (2011), B-
3. Age of Bronze Vol. 3: Betrayal (2008), Part One, Eric Shanower, A-*
4. Locke and Key Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom (2011), Joe Hill, A
5. Hogfather (1996), Terry Pratchett, B+
6. Scream Deconstructed (2011), Scott Kessinger, A-
7. In the Peanut Gallery With Mystery Science Theater 3000 (2011), Rob Weiner (Ed.), B
8. Eats, Shoots and Leaves (2003), Lynne Truss, A
9. My Seinfeld Year (2012), Fred Stoller, B
10. Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals (2011), Mary Jo Pehl, B-
11. A Princess of Mars (1917) Edgar Rice Burroughs, A
12. Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella (2011), Mira Grant, A-
13. Sloppy Seconds (2012), Tucker Max, B
14. Killing Mr. Griffin (1978), Lois Duncan, B
15. The Crucible (1952), Arthur Miller, A•
16. Hilarity Ensues (2012), Tucker Max, B+
17. All-Star Superman (2008), Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely, A+*
18. Ruby of Ragnoor (2012), Brad Guitar, B+*
19. What If? Classic Vol. 3 (2005), Gary Friedrich, Don Glut, Marv Wolfman, Steven Grant, Peter Gillis & Tom DeFalco, B*
20. Atomic Robo Vol. 1: Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (2008), Brian Clevinger, A-*
21. Atomic Robo Vol. 2: Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War (2009), Brian Clevinger, A-*
22. Atomic Robo Vol. 3: Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time (2009′ Brian Clevinger, A*
23. The Gods of Mars (1918), Edgar Rice Burroughs, B+
24. Sum: 40 Tales From the Afterlives (2009), David Eagleman, A-
25. The Nightly News (2007), Jonathan Hickman, A*
26. John Carter: A Princess of Mars (2011), Roger Langridge & Felipe Andrade, B-*
27. Warlord of Mars (1919), Edgar Rice Burroughs, A-
28. The Princess Bride: 30th Anniversary Edition (2003), William Goldman, A
29. Raise Your Glass,: Stuck in the Twilight Saga (2012), Keith Helinski, B
30. Clue: The Musical (1993), Peter DePietro, B•
31. How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months (2011), John Locke, C
32. Forrest Gump (1986), Winston Groom, B
33. The Reporter (2012), Scott Sigler & Mur Lafferty, B+
34. Tales From Development Hell (2012), David Hughes, B+
35. Lamb (2002), Christopher Moore, A
36. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997), J.K. Rowling, A-
37. Buy the RV, We Start Tomorrow: The AV Club’s Guide to Breaking Bad (2010), Donna Murray & Neal Goldman, B
38. Coffee: It’s What’s For Dinner (2011), Dave Kellet, A*
39. Sacre Bleu (2012), Christopher Moore, B
40. Pax Romana (2007), Jonathan Hickman, B-*
41. Paradox (2012), Christos Gage, B- *
42. Avengers Forever (1999), Kurt Busiek, A*
43. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), J.K. Rowling, B+
44. Transhuman (2008), Jonathan Hickman, A-*
45. The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012), Stephen King, B+
46. Atomic Robo Vol. 4: Atomic Robo and Other Strangeness (2010), Scott Wegener, A*
47. Atomic Robo Vol. 5: Atomic Robo and the Flying Fists of Science (2011), Scott Wegener, A-*
48. Misery Loves Sherman (2012), Chris Eliopoulos, B*
49. The Atlantis Chronicles (1990), Peter David, A*
50. Aquaman: Time and Tide (1996), Peter David, B+*
51. Pantheon (1999), Bill Willingham, A-*
52. Atomic Robo Vol. 6: Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X (2012), Scott Wegener, A+*
53. Marvels: Eye of the Camera (2010), Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern, A-*
54. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), J.K. Rowling, A-
55. “They’re Made Out of Meat” (1991), Terry Bisson, B
56. Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? (2012), Brian Cronin, B+
57. The Comic Book History of Comics (2012), Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey, A-*
58. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2010), Seth Graham-Smith, B+
59. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile (2002), Bill Willingham, A-*
60. JLA Vol. 1: New World Order (1997), Grant Morrision, A-*
61. Star Trek: The Next Generation-Ghosts (2010), Zander Cannon, B*
62. Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage (1993), David Michelinie, J.M. DeMatties, Tom DeFalco, B+*
63. The Hollywood Walk of Shame (1993), Bruce Nash & Allan Zullo, C+
64. The All-Pro (2011), Scott Sigler, B+^
65. Our Valued Customers (2012), Tim Chamberlain, B*
66. Batman: Earth One (2012), Geoff Johns, A*
67. The Infinity Gauntlet (1993), Jim Starlin, A+*
68. F in Exams (2011), Richard Benson, A-
69. F For Effort (2012), Richard Benson, B
70. Blackout (2012), Mira Grant, B+
71. The Monolith (2012), Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, A*
72. Locke and Key Vol. 5: Clockworks (2012), Joe Hill, A*
73. Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 1 (2009), Larry Hama, B-*
74. What If? Classic Vol. 4 (2007), Bill Mantlo, Don Glut, Peter Gillis, Steve Skeates, Tony Isabella, Mike W. Barr, Steven Grant, Mark Gruenwald & Ralph Macchio, B*
75. Firestarter (1981), Stephen King, B+
76. “Don’t Tell Jack” (2001), Neil Gaiman, A-
77. Rising Stars Compendium (2004), J. Michael Straczynski, A*
78. Fahrenheit 451 (1951), Ray Bradbury, A+
79. Morning Glories Vol. 1: For a Better Future (2011), Nick Spencer, A
80. Fool Moon (2001), Jim Butcher, B
81. The Maze Runner (2009), James Dashner, B+
82. The Scorch Trials (2010), James Dashner, B
83. The Death Cure (2011), James Dashner, B
84. Action Philosophers (2009), Fred Van Lente, B+*
85. Fraggle Rock Vol. 1 (2010), B*
86. License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold and Silver (2011), Rick Harrison, B-
87. The MVP (2012), Scott Sigler, A-
88. Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astronomy Zombies (2009), Michael Adams, B+
89. Upside Down: A Vampire Tale (2012) Jess Smart Smiley, B*
90. Trick ‘r Treat (2009), Marc Andreyko, B*
91. Madman 20th Anniversary Monster (2012), Mike Allred, B*
92. Texts From Dog (2012), October Jones, B
93. The Complete Omaha the Cat Dancer Vol. 1 (2005), Kate Worley & Reed Waller, B*
94. Superman: Earth One Vol. 2 (2012), J. Michael Straczynski & Shane Davis, A*
95. Tremors of the Buried Moon (2011), J.C. Rogers, B*
96. The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West Vol. 1 (2012), Tom Hutchinson, B+*
97. Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking (2012), Charles M. Schulz, A-*
98. Archie Classics Series Vol. 1: Christmas Classics (2011), B
99. Marvel Zombies (2006), Robert Kirkman, B+*
100. Marvel Zombies 2 (2008), Robert Kirkman, A*
101. Marvel Zombies 3 (2009), Fred Van Lente, B-*
102. Marvel Zombies 4 (2009), Fred Van Lente, C*
103. Marvel Zombies Return (2009), B+*
*-Denotes graphic novel or comic strip collection
•-Denotes stage play
^-Denotes audiobook
“”-Denotes short story

–Updated August 5, 2012

24
Dec
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 250: It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Podcast

The Muppets are back on the big screen, Blake’s niece Maggie is in love with Kermit, and it’s Christmas Eve. What better reason for Blake and Heather to sit down, watch, and discuss the Muppet specials A Muppet Family Christmas. The Muppet Christmas Carol, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa? Also: learn the joys of podcasting with a 1-year-old! In the picks, Heather has become a big fan of ABC’s Once Upon a Time and Blake gives a plug to the first issue of IDW’s Memorial. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 250: It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Podcast

21
Dec
11

Classic EBI #242: What’s Santa Bringing For the Geeks?

Every Christmas, I make it a point to seek out as many Christmas comics as I can and present them to the faithful readers of Everything But Imaginary, and this year is no different. I’ve got twenty yuletide comics to share with you today, my friends, so click on the link and get to it!

Everything But Imaginary #428: Christmas Comics 2011

Going back in time, let’s look in at 2007, and what Santa was bringing to the Geeks that year…

Classic EBI #242: What’s Santa Bringing For the Geeks?

It’s T-minus 20 days and counting, friends. Christmas is rapidly approaching, the assorted poultry are growing corpulent, and the geriatric gentleman is asking for alms. And for us, the Assorted Fanboys of the Universe, we’re making out lists of toys and goodies that we’re just hoping Santa will leave under our trees. Unfortunately, for those of us who were stupid enough to buy an issue of One More Day, we’re stuck on the “naughty” list, and we’re left hoping for treats from the special people in our lives. So this week’s special “Everything But Imaginary” column is not for you, fanboys.

No, no. It’s for your loved ones.

This column is going to list some of the coolest stuff you can get for your fanboy this year. Fanboys, make sure your primary gift-giver sees it. Print out a copy and leave it in the bathroom. Casually mention how awesome Everything But Imaginary is until they have no choice but to log on. “Accidentally” CC an e-mail to them saying, “Hey, Joe, did you read this column? I hope Marcia gets me some of this stuff for Christmas.” (Also, you may want to use your own girlfriend/fiancé/wife’s name, because if it’s not “Marcia,” you’re going to have much bigger problems than Christmas presents.)

So what are some of the best gifts out there for comic geeks this year? Let’s start with…

BOOKS

Now not every geek has the same tastes, so it’s important to find something that will appeal to him or her. There are a lot of nice, hefty hardcovers available these days that will almost certainly be to someone’s liking. The Captain America Omnibus might be nice for someone who didn’t start reading the comic book until March. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus can give the DC fan some nice background on Countdown. Fans of the Disney theme parks will salivate over the collected edition of Slave Labor’s Haunted Mansion comic book. Looking for a cool comic he probably didn’t read? The Hero By Night hardcover just came out. And if your geek is digging the current Spirit series, there are over 20 hardcover archives available collecting the original run.

Books are the ultimate gift for a fanboy. We’re always looking for something else to read, because if we didn’t love reading, we wouldn’t be comic geeks in the first place. Your trick, your task if you will, will be to determine just what your fanboy likes. Hardcore fans of Serenity or The Dark Tower likely already have those issues in their collection, but that doesn’t automatically mean they wouldn’t appreciate the hardcover collections of those comics.

DVDS

If anything can rival a book in a fanboy’s heart, it’s the DVD, and there were a ton of them released this year. TV shows featuring Superman, Batman, Aquaman, the Super Friends, and a jillion more. Awesome movies like 300, TransFormers and Spi… Spider…. Um, and let’s not forget that this is the year that high-definition players really began to grow in prominence! (Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are in high-def now, right?) Find out if your geek is interested in “upgrading” his old DVDs to high-def or Blu-Ray. Once you’ve figured out if your geek likes a certain TV show or movie (here’s a test: “Hey, sweetie, what did you think of 300?”), ascertaining whether or not he already has it is the easy part. The Native North American Geek usually has a cabinet or shelf where his DVDs are proudly displayed as though they were college degrees, Olympic medals or Grandma’s ashes, providing Grandma looked as good in spandex as Jessica Alba. All you’ve got to do is look and see if the DVD you’re considering purchasing is already there.

TOYS AND ASSORTED JUNK

As always, there are a ton of toys and goodies you can get for your geek. If you’ve got the display space, there are plenty of great statues out there. My girlfriend Erin (who is not only cute, smart, funny, and basically awesome, but also a terrible enabler for my habit) got me the Fables Snow White/Bigby Wolf statue for my birthday back in August, and lemme tell ya, this is the coolest thing you could possibly get for a Fables fan. And of course, there are statues available featuring practically any denomination of fan worship – Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, the X-Men, Serenity, Star Wars, Star Trek, Archie Comics, classic Universal monsters, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Carribean – just walk into your local comic shop (you may have to ask your fanboy where it is) and see the stuff they have on the shelves.

A statue a little outside of your price range? No problem. There are plenty of action figures out there that look good enough to practically be statues – the Marvel Legends and DC Direct lines are packed with beautiful sculpts of beloved heroes. Don’t want to get your fanboy a toy? (You elitist.) How about a Betty Boop Zippo lighter? A Superman lunchbox? A Serenity-as-Reaver-Ship Christmas tree ornament? Getting “collectibles” instead of “toys” takes a little of the sting out of it, doesn’t it?

STOCKING STUFFERS

C’mon, you know you still hang your stocking up every Christmas Eve, and you know that you still wake up every Christmas Morning in the hopes of finding it full of loot. Give your fanboy that gift this year. There are plenty of things to choose from – including my favorite toy line of the year, Mini-Mates. Miniature action figures that come in packs of two – not as detailed or as displayable as some of their bigger, pricier cousins, but just as cool. And the best part is, they come in a ton of denominations as well – Marvel superheroes, DC superheroes, Battlestar Galactica, 24, Speed Racer and many more. (Um… just try to avoid the zombie ones. I had some trouble with them back on Halloween.)

So there you have it, friends – plenty of ideas to get you started. And if you come up with any gift suggestions of your own, share them here! We can use all the help we can get.

Favorite of the Week: November 28, 2007

It wasn’t a long run, but Tony Bedard and Dennis Calero’s term on Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes (which ended with last week’s #36) was a really good one. In their few issues, they helped the Legion reestablish itself in the aftermath of the Dominator War and the disappearance of one of their founders, Cosmic Boy. They reintroduced a number of fan-favorite Legionnaires and Legion concepts (the lost-missed Wildfire/ERG-1, for instance). They brought Supergirl’s story to a very satisfying close, and they gave Jim Shooter and Francis Manapul a solid foundation to begin their stint on this title. Well-done, sirs. Well done.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

14
Sep
11

Classic EBI #108: The New Mosaic Comics

DC Comics has been having something of a string of good fortune lately with their New 52 venture, leading to some geeks to speculate whether or not Marvel Comics should follow suit. Now I’m not saying that I think Marvel should. I’m just saying that if they did, this is a 52-title Marvel Universe I would be interested in reading…

Everything But Imaginary #415: My Marvel 52

And in this week’s classic EBI, we go back to March 2005, a time when I’d been having a particularly crappy string of luck and I needed some cool comics to cheer myself up. Fortunately, those were easy to find.

Classic EBI #108: The New Mosaic Comics

When I’m having a particularly lousy week (as those of you who follow my blog know I’ve been having in epidemic proportions lately), there are few things that are as certain to cheer me up as finding a new comic book that I really enjoy. So I lucked out Friday when I went into ol’ BSI comics and picked up a copy of Lullaby: Wisdom Seeker from Image Comics and Alias Productions.

I am, as is well known, a big fan of children’s literature. I adore the works of L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll. I think The Chronicles of Narnia are great literature, and one Saturday this summer I’m going to be waking up like a kid at Christmas ready to get the new Harry Potter book. I’m also a big fan of Mike S. Miller, who’s writing this book along with Ben Avery and creator Hector Sevilla on some beautiful artwork. So Lullaby was an easy sell to me.

Here’s the basic plot – the story starts in a version of Wonderland where Alice never made it home. In fact, she doesn’t even remember her life in the “real” world except as vague dreams and shrounded memories. She has risen through the ranks and become the right hand of the infamous Queen of Hearts. Now there is unrest in the lands of imagination, and she sets out to find the source.

Lullaby is, in essence, a patchwork of twisted versions of these classic children’s stories. In addition to this new Alice, we’re also faced with a version of Jim Hawkins (of Treasure Island) who joined up with Long John Silver’s pirate crew and a spritely Pinocchio who was turned back into a puppet and, rather than break his father’s heart, fled to the other lands in hopes of finding the Wizard of Oz to restore his lost humanity.

So no, these aren’t exactly the characters we all grew up reading about, but they aren’t too far removed either. Alice is still a little girl who longs to go home, Pinocchio still yearns to be a real boy and, although Jim isn’t explored too deeply in the first issue, you get the sense that he joined the pirate’s life out of a thirst for adventure rather than gold.

Reading the book, however, immediately brought to mind two other recent comics, both of them critical and commercial successes, that use the same idea of snatching characters from disparate sources and putting them together. Here we’re talking, of course, about Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Bill Willingham’s Fables. Comics have long taken characters from different settings and combined them, going back to the very first stories of the Justice Society of America, which took the most popular characters from the then-National Comics and put them in a book together. At the time, such a thing had never been done. Decades later, it was common for superhero universes to have sort of an “all-star” team – the Justice League of America, the Avengers and so on. What Moore did with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was transplant that idea back a century. Who were the superheroes at the end of the 1800s? Well, that would be like likes of Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde) and Mina Murray. (And go ahead and pan the movie if you must, but I thought the addition of an adult Tom Sawyer was a nice touch.) Who would the supervillains be? Clearly, the likes of Dr. Moriarity, the invading Martians from War of the Worlds and perhaps even some of the “heroes.”

Moore turned out two volumes of this critically acclaimed comic book (this isn’t that big a trick for him – Alan Moore could publish a recipe for prune-flavored flan and the comic book press would declare it a masterpiece) and supposedly a third is forthcoming. It wasn’t the first time such an idea had been attempted, but it was certainly one of the best comics ever to use the idea of stitching together such disparate characters.

Then of course there’s Fables. If you don’t know what Fables is, you must not read this column much because I praise it all the time. The brainchild of Bill Willingham, Fables is a story of fairy tale characters driven out of their homeland and into our “real” world by the invading forces of a mysterious entity called the Adversary. Living among humans for hundreds of years, some have resigned themselves to their existence, while others still believe they can one day find their way home. Of all the “mosaic” comics I’m talking about this week, I think Fables has, hands-down, the most expansive cast: Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Prince Charming, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Thumbelina, Old King Cole, Little Boy Blue, Jack of the Tales, Ichabod Crane, Beauty and the Beast, Baba Yaga, Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs, Robin Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Beauty and the Beast and Flycatcher, just to name a few, have all been a part of this story. And while so far the Fables we’ve encountered have been mostly European or North American in origin, Willingham promises that future storylines will expand to Fables of other cultures as well.

You wouldn’t think that sort of thing was really so unusual for a comic book fan. We’re used to seeing team-ups. We’re even used to seeing team-ups among really bizarre groups of characters – Alien Vs. Predator, Superman/Madman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Flaming Carrot – even Archie Andrews has met the Punisher.

And it’s not that unusual to see these characters combined in other medium, either. Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula novels cover over a century in which Bram Stoker’s Dracula survived and unleashed vampires across the world – but along the way Newman references real people and fictional characters freely. Jack the Ripper and Edgar Allan Poe make appearances alongside representations of James Bond, Superman, Dr. Strange, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even – in a brief Red Baron joke during World War I – Charles Schulz’s Snoopy.

So why is it stuff like Moore’s League seems so revolutionary to us?

Without sounding like a snob… I kind of think it’s because these are all characters from outside of comic books. We’re used to crossovers with comic book characters – or at the very least, characters that have a firmly-established presence in comics (like Aliens). It’s different when you’re talking about characters from other sources. A lot of the general public, if you tell them you’re reading a comic book, may turn up their nose at you. But if you tell them you’re reading a comic book where the Island of Dr. Moreau is a setting, that may elicit a gem of curiosity. If you tell them about Pinocchio and Jim Hawkins sailing off to the land of Oz, people who loved those books as children will want to know what you’re talking about. And if you mention that one of the best love stories in comics is currently between Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf, they’ll have to ask you where that’s coming from.

I think one of the reasons that comics like these three are arcing up in popularity is because we comic fans realize, on some level, that this is the kind of thing that could potentially grab other readers. Someone who loves the Oz books may want to read Lullaby. Someone who was raised on Allan Quartermain will want to check out the League. Someone who studies folklore will want to see how it is being treating in Fables.

The trick, as always, is getting the word out. The League movie, unfortunately, flopped (although I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as some people say). But there’s word that a Fables film may be in the works, and Lullaby would be perfect as an animated feature. If those audiences can be grabbed and lured back to the comic books, that would be a very good thing.

Then there’s the other reason that comic fans like these three titles – the most important reason. They’re all really, really good.

Who knew? Maybe you can get something out of those books without pictures after all.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: March 22, 2005
It was a surprisingly good week for comics, last week, friends. Aside from the aforementioned Lullaby, there were also very strong showings from Runaways, JLA: Classified and New X-Men: Academy X, but narrowly taking the top spot for me was New Avengers #4. This team is slowly growing on me, I must admit. Brian Michael Bendis has found a logical explanation for the characters on the team now and has thrown in a good bit of mystery as well. His characterization is top-notch, and while some may think Spider-Man’s constant quips are annoying, I think they clearly indicate how nervous the character is to be counted among such an auspicious group. While the impending inclusion of Wolverine still bugs the screaming bejeezus out of me, so far, the book is really a solid read.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginnerand the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.comand visit him on the web at Evertime Realms.Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.
24
Aug
11

Classic EBI #105: Getting in on the Ground Floor

With next week’s historical realignment of the DC Universe, I thought today would be an appropriate time to look back at the DCU that was and give a proper send-off to those books, characters, and creators that I’ve enjoyed in recent years that I think deserve a fond farewell.

Everything But Imaginary #412: The Old DC Farewell Party

Going back in time, though, we look at my column from March 9, 2005. This week, I talked about how hard it can be to get into long-running series, and made my recommendation for a book I thought could be the Next Big Thing. I still think it’s a great book, and it lives on as a webcomic…

Everything But Imaginary #105: Getting in on the Ground Floor

In theory, a new reader should be able to jump into a long-running, iconic series at just about any time and get into the action. This isn’t true in practice, of course, but let’s talk about the theory for a moment. In theory, Spider-Man comics should be perfectly accessible to people who just start reading because they love the movie. In theory, people who want to try Fantastic Four should be able to hop on to that title as soon as the new writer takes over. And in theory, if you’re one of the three people on Earth who doesn’t know Batman’s origin, just stick around, because it seems to get recapped every other month anyway.

The reason for this is that these characters have been around for decades and have become part of the constantly-expanding mythology of comic books. Amazing Spider-Man does not tell one complete story, it tells hundreds of stories in short installments that have been added to by hundreds of writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, letterers and editors over the years. So if you missed the beginning of the current story, or if you don’t like it, all you’ve got to do is wait around for the next one to start.

This is not true of all comics, however. In the last few decades, there has been an increasing focus on comics that tell one, extended story, usually the product of a single cartoonist or a single writer collaborating with multiple artists. A comic book series with a beginning, a middle and an end — as opposed to comics like Superman, where you know you’re in a state of perpetual middle.

Now because these single-story series can almost never involve an iconic character, and often are done by a creator who is relatively unknown as the series begins, the titles that fit into this category quite often start off small, with a handful of readers who spread the word. The book gains critical acclaim, rolls on, and eventually may be known of as a classic. But only those handful of people who were there at the beginning got the story the way it was intended. Others scrambled for the trade paperbacks or scoured the back issue bins, or sometimes just jumped in the middle. It’s impossible to predict which of these series will take off, so the speculation doesn’t really work.

Perhaps the best known example of this kind of comic is Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Gaiman, at the time, was a little-known writer with a handful of credits to his name who pitched a series about the Jack Kirby incarnation of the Sandman, the one who lived in a sort of space station and monitored people’s dreams. DC liked the idea but, alas, that Sandman was already in use in the title Infinity, Inc., so they asked him to create a new character.

Fast-forward 75 issues and you have one of the most acclaimed comic book series of all time, about the King of the Dreams, his undying siblings, the power of story and imagination and everything else. It’s regarded as a classic. It’s the only comic ever to win a World Fantasy Award. And most importantly (for purposes of this discussion), it’s a book that DC let Gaiman end when his story was done.

Dave Sim’s Cerebus took this form of storytelling to the extreme, setting out to do a 300-issue series that would chronicle the entire life of his aardvark hero, and he succeeded. He riled up a lot of people, got a lot of people mad, but he told a tale that, like it or not, is unparalleled in scope in comic book history.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to get in on that ground floor. A few years ago, thumbing through the Previews catalogue, I noticed a new series in the works from the Vertigo imprint about fairy tale characters living in the modern world. The premise intrigued me and the writer, Bill Willingham, was somebody I’d grown to respect for his work on various Sandman Presents projects. So I put Fables in my pull folder, reasoning I could just ditch it after the first story arc if I didn’t like it. Oh, but I liked it. It’s now my favorite comic every single month, and when I listen to people talk about how great it is and other people ask when they can start reading it, I just smile because I lucked out enough to get into it from the very beginning.

My favorite example of this kind of story, though, has to be Jeff Smith’s Bone. This was one where I was lucky enough to get in relatively early, with issue #13. I picked up the trade paperbacks of the first 12 issues and I was set to follow the Bone cousins for about the next ten years in their adventures through the valley, against the stupid, stupid rat creatures and the Lord of the Locusts and unravelling the mysteries surrounding Thorn Harvestar.

When this remarkable series finally reached its conclusion last year, I told as many people as would listen to pick the thing up, to get the trade paperbacks or the color reprints or the big mama-jama one-volume edition.

But last weekend it occurred to me, as much as promoting Bone is a good thing, perhaps it would also behoove me to try to find that next big thing, that new comic that nobody knows about yet but is rife with potential, and tell people about it while they still have time to get in on the ground floor.

That thought came to me because I was reading that next comic nobody knows about yet. And it’s Runners by Sean Wang.

Published by Serve Man Press, the first Runners miniseries, Bad Goods recently concluded its five-issue run with the promise of more to come. The basic premise of this miniseries is that a group of outer-space runners — a crew that transports cargo from one planet to another — discovers a mysterious blue woman that they suspect may have come from the vats they’re transporting, meaning someone is using them in a slave ring. Despite that kind of heavy premise, the comic is really a rip-roaring, old-fashioned sci-fi adventure, with plenty of lighthearted moments, wonderful artwork that’s just begging to be made into an animated movie, and some of the coolest alien designs I’ve seen in a very, very long time.

While I was reading those first five issues, though, I felt like there was something deeper here. It read as though Sean Wang has serious plans for this title, and he was just sort of easing us in on the lighthearted stuff before launching into the full-on space opera that this title has the potential to become. I haven’t felt that way about a comic in a long time.

Not, in fact, since those early issues of Bone where we had a goofy cow race disguising the fact that the valley was about to be plunged into war.

Yeah. I think it could be that good.

So I’ve got to thank Sean Wang for passing the first four comics into Ronée’s capable hands, I’ve gotta thank Ronée for letting me read them, and I’ve got to thank the manager of BSI Comics for going to great lengths to snag a copy of the final issue for me. Otherwise, I may never have known about this comic.

And I may never have had the chance to tell you to try it out. The first five issue miniseries is available at the www.SeanWang.com, and a trade paperback is in the works… and Wang promises that the story will continue. I can’t wait.

So how about an assignment, folks? Kind of like with my “best comics I’ve never read” columns, I want you guys to suggest some of the best new comics out there, ones you think nobody knows about yet but that you want people to try because you see real potential. A miniseries can qualify if it’s the sort of thing that’ll be a series of miniseries, or it can be an ongoing, but let’s say anything less than 12 issues into the run. Anything beyond that and it’s not really the ground floor anymore, is it?

And check out Runners: Bad Goods! It’s worth the hunt.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: March 2, 2005

From the ground floor to the skyscraper, last week’s favorite is kind of the opposite of what we talked about this week, the final issue of a comic that told one story from beginning to end. Although the title was hurt by a forced hiatus to deal with some legal matters, Rising Stars #24 ended J. Michael Straczynski’s epic in real style. The story is resolved, questions are answered, and things all really come full-circle. In typical Straczynski style, this final issue was really more of an epilogue than the actual finale, but it did give us something I never thought we’d get — the truth about the flash that gave the Specials their powers. And it was a simple, beautiful explanation. Now that this series is over, now that people can read the whole thing, I feel confidant that this will make its way alongside the acknowledged masterpieces of the superhero genre.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginnerand the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.comand visit him on the web at Evertime Realms.Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

17
Aug
11

Classic EBI #104: Closing the Want List Gap

Earlier today, a chat with a buddy of mine got me thinking — is it possible that being a fan of a character may be an obstacle to writing great stories with that character? And is that something that can hold me back?

Everything But Imaginary #411: Undue Reverence

But in this week’s Classic EBI, I take a look at books I’m missing, stories that are left unfinished… the famous comic book WANT LIST.

Everything But Imaginary #104: Closing the Want List Gap

I have many goals in my life. Write a best-selling novel. Win an Eisner Award. Correctly identify all 11 herbs or spices. But then there are days where I think it would all be complete if only I could find a copy of Uncle Scrooge #295.

I realize that has to sound kind of absurd to some of you. To those doubting Thomases, I can only say, “I know you are but what am I?” However, I’ll bet most of you understand. Those of you who have been reading comics for a long time, particularly those who started out on the newsstands before discovering the miracle of a comic shop pull folder, know similar pain. We all have those horrible, glaring gaps in our collection, and we all would give anything to close them in properly.

It’s a story we’ve all lived. We get into a title after it’s already begun and now we’ve got a desperate race to find all those issues we missed. In my case, it was a late start reading Don Rosa‘s brilliant “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.” Over the years, at comic shops and conventions, you’d find me voraciously shuffling through long boxes, asking dealers if they had any issues and scouring the quarter bins in desperate hopes. Ronée was particularly amused the first time she ever saw me take out my want list and get on my hands and knees to peruse the less-accessible long boxes. Now, years later, I only have one issue of this run left to find, and even the news that Gemstone comics is finally going to do a trade paperback collecting this run can’t stop me from looking. I consider myself a comic book reader rather than a collector, but there are some stories worth getting the collecting bug for.

The boom of the trade paperback market has made the want list gap easier on me. I never would have read all of Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman series or the entire first series of Runaways if I had been unable to get the collections. Still, chances are there will never be a point where every single comic book ever printed will be readily available in trade paperback, and that means you’ve got to learn to dig.

I’ve completed a few runs this way over the years. I managed to piece together the entire Keith Giffen/J.M. Dematteis run of Justice League Europe, and I’m only one issue away from having a complete run of their Justice League/Justice League International/Justice League America days. By hook and crook (and hunting and searching) I managed to score a complete run of the legendary Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew. And I’m only 20 issues away from having every regular issue of a Superman title published since the 1986 revamp (that’s five issues of Superman, seven of Action Comics and eight of Adventures of Superman, for those of you keeping track).

As frustrating as it can be to hunt down those single issues, it can be even worse when it’s an entire title that you discover long after the fact. For example, I was never familiar with Bill Willingham‘s work until he did a few Sandman Presents miniseries. When he started his own Fables series, I jumped on at the first issue and immediately became a fan.

It wasn’t until then, however, that I learned of The Elementals. This was a much-ballyhooed series from Comico back in the 80s and 90s, written, created and occasionally drawn by Willingham, about a group of people who died, were resurrected with superpowers, and became hero/celebrities. Between three volumes of the regular title and a slew of assorted specials and miniseries, the Elementals lasted for over 75 issues. I, however, didn’t know anything about them… until a few months ago when my local comic shop had a “50-percent off the cover price” sale on a slew of old titles that had been sitting in the back room. I noticed Willingham‘s name on one of the covers and wound up getting the first 20 issues of Elementals Vol. 2 for a real bargain price. And now I’m stuck desperately hoping to find the rest of the issues somewhere, somehow, and for some price I can afford without going broke.

What’s more, once you’ve been doing this little dance for a while, you learn there are certain rules. For example:

• If you are looking for a single issue (for example, issue #295), they will have the issue immediately preceeding it (#294) and the issue immediately after (#296), but not the one you are looking for.

• When you finally find your issue, you won’t have the money to get it.

• If you have the money, it will be more than you really should spend, considering that you still haven’t eaten since Thursday and Aunt Imogene shouldn’t go much longer without her insulin.

• If you decide to spend the money anyway, you will be accompanied by a wife/girlfriend/other such individual who will either mock you mercilessly or make you wish you had never been born for spending so much money on a comic book.

• If you find the issue you need for a reasonable price and there’s no one there to stop you from purchasing it, you may as well play in traffic and buy lottery tickets, because you’re the luckiest geek alive.

It’s easier than it used to be. Online retailers and auction sites like eBay, plus fan communities like this one, have made it easier than it used to be to network with people and find that one last comic you need, that Four-Color Holy Grail, that last mass of paper, ink and staples that will suddenly make your life complete.

But no matter how easy it gets to find those suckers online, it can never really replace the thrill of sifting through those long boxes, catching the corner of the book in your eye, raising it up to display the cover of that issue you want, jumping up and squealing with delight and then finally bonking your head on the table you’re under. Because that’s how it always happens.

And for some sick reason, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: February 23, 2005

I know, you’ve heard me talk about Uncle Scrooge quite enough in this column already. I don’t care. Last week’s #339 featured Don Rosa’s “The Crown of the Crusader Kings,” one of the best Scrooge comics in years and easily the most exciting comic to hit the stands last week. Scrooge and his nephews find a clue that can lead them to a legendary crown left behind by the Knights Templar, and they go forth on a quest to find it. Rosa seamlessly weaves a little real history into a rip-roaring treasure hunt adventure with lots of comedy along the way. This is the epitome of what an all-ages comic should be — something you can read to the kids and still enjoy yourself. This issue gets my highest possible recommendation.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

 

25
Jul
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 230: San Diego and Captain America

Another San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone, and this week Blake and Erin get together and talk about the big anouncements from this year’s show: crossovers between Star Trek and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Archie and KISS, the new Fables spin-off, the upcoming relaunch of the Defenders, and much more! They also give their review of Captain America: The First Avenger, do a Rampant Speculation on the upcoming Suicide Squad, and give a few picks. Erin has discovered Tim O’Brien‘s The Things They Carried, and Blake doubles up with Sergio Aragones Funnies #1 and Locke and Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 230: San Diego and Captain America

29
Jun
11

Classic EBI #97: The 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards

It’s been about a month since DC’s big announcement, the restructuring of the universe, and I’ve had time to digest it all. So this week in Everything But Imaginary, I’m taking a more informed look at the future of the DC Universe…

Everything But Imaginary #405: The New DCU Take Two

But in this week’s classic EBI, we’re rewinding to January of 2005, when the readers of Everything But Imaginary voted on their favorites for the previous year. Set the Wayback Machine, friends, because it’s time for…

Everything But Imaginary #97: The 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards

It’s that time again, folks, for the 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards, the only awards show voted on exclusively by the people who visit Comixtreme.com [CXPulp.com] plus a few other people that Blake begged to vote to help him break ties. So without further ado, here’s your host, Blake M. Petiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!

Thanks, Blake. Man, isn’t he a swell guy? Well friends, welcome to the 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards. By popular demand, we’re doing away without the musical numbers and long, boring speeches by people you’ve never heard of. We’ve got 15 categories to get through and 30 awards to hand out, so let’s not waste time. The EBI awards are simple, there are two awards in every category. The Reader’s Choice award reflects the voting of you, the reader (hence the name). The Writer’s Choice award was selected by yours truly, because it’s my column and I get to do that sort of thing. Keep in mind, the Writer’s Choice winners were selected before voting was opened to the readers, so there are some categories where the same title won both honors. They get the coveted Double Blakie award! So without further ado, let’s roll on to the best comic books of 2004!

1. Best Superhero Title

Reader’s Choice: Invincible. Robert Kirkman’s story of a superhero coming of age really surprised me by pulling away to take this honor. This is the story of Mark Grayson, a seemingly average superhero, with the caveat that he also happens to be the son of one of the world’s biggest superheroes. Launched last year as part of Image’s recommitment to superhero comics, this book has not only become extremely popular, but one of the lynchpins of the Image Universe, such as it is. And it may not be the sole factor behind making Kirkman one of the hottest commodities in comics, but it sure as heck hasn’t hurt matters. I’ll admit to you guys right now, I have never read an issue of Invincible, but seeing the incredible support this title has, I’m determined to find that first trade paperback and see what all the fuss is about.

Writer’s Choice: JSA. Do I talk about this comic book a lot? Yep. And you know why? Because it’s one of the best comic books on the market. Geoff Johns and his solid art teams, currently including the great Don Kramer, have taken some of the greatest superheroes of all time, thrown them into a pot with their various progeny and successors, and turned out a comic book about heroes and legacies that is unsurpassed in modern comic books. The strongest things the DC Universe has going for it are its legacies – Green Lantern, the Flash, Starman and many others. This title celebrates those legacies and what makes superheroes great, and tells the best stories you can get in the process.

Honorable Mention: Fantastic Four, Superman/Batman, Birds of Prey.

2. Best Science Fiction Title

Reader’s Choice: Y: The Last Man. It’s hard, if not impossible to argue with the selection of this as one of the most outstanding science fiction titles in all comics. Brian K. Vaughan and his artists, most frequently Pia Guerra, have created a fascinating story in the adventures of Yorick Brown, the last man alive after a plague sweeps over the Earth. This title swerves into various storytelling styles – sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s terrifying. Sometimes it’s a sharp political satire and sometimes it’s a straight-up adventure story. One thing is for sure – it’s always a great read. With amazing cliffhangers that don’t seem forced, characters that grow and develop and a mystery like none in comics, Y:The Last Man is one of the best there is.

Writer’s Choice: The Legion/Legion of Super-Heroes. It is no secret that I’m an old-school Legion fan, but it’s been a long time since this team had as good a year as they did in 2004. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning wrapped up a fabulous 5-year run with an assault on Darkseid and the reintroduction of Superboy to the heroes of DC’s future. Once they left they passed the book on to Gail Simone, who delivered a great fast-paced adventure tale, which dovetailed right into the collision with the Teen Titans, and in turn, to a reboot of epic proportions. Now I was skeptical of the need for a reboot of this title, but one issue under the pens of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson was more than enough to convince me, this is still a fantastic sci-fi title, and likely to be a strong contender again in 2005.

Honorable Mention: Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Negation.

3. Best Fantasy Title

Double Blakie Award: Fables. The readers and I agree, when it came to fantasy in 2004, there was nothing that could touch the magic of Fables. Bill Willingham’s warped fairy tale follows the survivors of a bloody war in the Homelands of fairy tales as they live a new life on plain ordinary Earth. 2004 was quite a year. The Fables were attacked by the forces of the Adversary, Snow White and Bigby Wolf became parents and Prince Charming became mayor of Fabletown. Good people died, bad people thrived and through it all, the readers got to reap the rewards. Funny, exciting, beautifully illustrated (usually by the incomparable Mark Buckingham) and never patronizing or condescending to the reader, it’s no question why this has become a fan favorite. As far as I’m concerned, this book marks the high point of DC’s Vertigo line these days, and that’s saying an awful lot.

Honorable Mention: Bone, The Witches.

4. Best Horror Title

Reader’s Choice: 30 Days of Night. The vampire tale by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, among other artists, scored the most votes among horror fans in this year’s awards. The series of miniseries, including Dark Days, Return to Barrow and the current Bloodsucker Tales, is a remarkably gory, energizing horror comic. Some time ago (back in the first 30 Days miniseries), a cadre of vampires descended upon the small town of Barrow, Alaska, where darkness lasts a full month, making it a perfect smorgasbord for creatures of the night. The following series examine the lives of the survivors of that initial massacre – both human and bloodsucker alike. I just hope that when the promised movie hits the screen it does the comic book justice.

Writer’s Choice: Dead@17. Josh Howard’s tale of the undead stayed at the top of my list this year with the sequel, Blood of Saints, the current Revolutions miniseries and a Rough Cut special. Nara Kilday was killed, cut down in the prime of her life, only to return from the dead as an agent of a higher power against the forces of evil. Although Howard does sometimes tend to lean towards the cheesecake with his artwork, unlike a lot of comics, Dead@17 has a real story to back it up. With the announcement that this is going to become an ongoing series next year, replacing the series-of-miniseries format, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

Honorable Mention: Devil May Cry, The Walking Dead, Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes.

5. Best “Down to Earth” Title

Reader’s Choice: Strangers in Paradise. In a tough category to judge – one that looks to comics that don’t rely on sci-fi or the supernatural – Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise gets the prize. For years now this has been a real genre-bender, waving between soap opera to crime drama to sitcom and back to soap opera again without missing a beat. Katchoo is in love with Francine, who’s marrying Brad. David, the man who loves Katchoo, has resurfaced and is chasing her again. And try as she might, Katchoo’s past keeps catching up to her. This is an intricate, complex, layered title, one that few others can match, and for a long time now it’s been one of the best, most offbeat comics on the racks.

Writer’s Choice: Gotham Central. If you’re not reading this comic book, guys, you’re just plain missing out. Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, along with the soon-to-depart Michael Lark, have taken the world of the Batman and managed to tell a series of deep, powerful tales not about superheroes, but about the police whose job it is to keep order in a city of darkness. There are good cops and bad cops, and even those lines aren’t clearly defined. One thing is clear, though – this is one of the best crime dramas in comics, and it deserves all the accolades it can get.

Honorable Mention: 100 Bullets, The Losers.

6. Best Humor Title

Double Blakie Award: PVP. From its origins as a webcomic at PVP Online to its days at Dork Storm and through its current run at Image Comics, Scott Kurtz turns out one of the funniest comic books out there not just every month, but every day. Set in the offices of PVP Magazine, this strip focuses on a cast of geeks, video game addicts, harried office workers, a good-hearted but stupid troll and an evil kitten based on world domination. In other words, it’s just like your office. Kurtz has an uncanny knack for taking trite, overused comedy stories and making them funny and new again, due mostly to the great characters he’s created and his own versatility. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – man, I love this comic book.

Honorable Mention: Simpsons Comics, Lionxor, Plastic Man.

8. Best Mature Reader’s Title

Reader’s Choice: Fables. Gee, have I mentioned this title before? Just like in the Fantasy category, readers have handed the win to Bill Willingham and his crew. It’s interesting to note that one of the best mature titles on the market springs from some of the most classic characters of our youth. Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Pinocchio all have important roles in this title, but Disney it ain’t. There’s blood, sex and language that you don’t want the kids to read. But that alone doesn’t make it a good comic book. In fact, it would keep it from being a good comic book if not for the fact that the stories themselves are smart, sharp, clever and intriguing. Willingham knows that the secret to telling a great mature reader’s comic isn’t just throwing gore, boobs and f-bombs at the reader, but rather crafting a story that a younger reader just isn’t ready for.

Writer’s Choice: Hellblazer. This is probably the longest-running mature reader’s series in comics, and this year in particular it has earned that distinction. The story of the man who has cheated death, cheated the devil and cheated his way out of every nasty scrape he’s ever been in. And he’s lasted over 200 issues now, and his stories are as good as ever. With the Constantine movie coming out next month, DC has some of its top talent on this comic, namely Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco. It’s a great horror comic that, relies a bit more on the gore than Fables – but hey, it’s a horror comic. You’ve got to expect that.

Honorable Mention: Y: The Last Man, Supreme Power, Sleeper Season Two.

7. Best All-Ages Title

Reader’s Choice: Teen Titans Go!. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t always care for this comic, because I didn’t care for the TV show. But the show and comic have both grown on me, and evidently, with the readers as well. I don’t mind telling you that this was the category with the most spread-out votes, so I had to ask one of my “tiebreaker” people to pick one, and this came out on top. It’s a solid, enjoyable comic, and at least one six-year-old I know has really started to get into comic books, in no small part because of this series. It’s a perfect companion to the TV show, and it helps introduce kids to the wonderful four-color world we’ve all grown to love. In the end, what more could you possibly ask for?

Writer’s Choice: Uncle Scrooge. Mixing new stories by the likes of Don Rosa and Pat and Shelly Block with classics by Carl Barks gives this book a fantastic balance. Old stories, new stories, great stories. The comics are clean and simple, starring characters your kids already love and that, chances are, you grew up loving too. The only downside to this comic is the hefty cover price, which is at least justified considering it’s 64 pages a month, but I’d still prefer they drop it down to a standard 32 pages and give it a price that kids can afford. Overall, though, the stories and great and the art is beautiful – and most importantly, it features stories that kids will love and that adults will still get a kick out of. That’s the mark of a true all-ages comic book.

Honorable Mention: New X-Men: Academy X, Cenozoic, Usagi Yojimbo, Ultimate Spider-Man.

9. Best Adapted Comic

Reader’s Choice: Star Wars: Republic. While a lot of people savage the prequel era of George Lucas’s Star Wars saga, the ire seems to have spared Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Republic. Telling the tales of the waning days of the old Republic, this is the place to go to read about the great Jedi of the past. John Ostrander is crafting the tales of the Clone Wars, bridging the events between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and the upcoming Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, with the adventures of the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura. This makes for some of the most exciting space opera in comics.

Writer’s Choice: G.I. Joe. Although G.I. Joe: Reloaded may be getting a bit more attention, the original title is still one of the best in comics. Brandon Jerwa and Tim Seeley’s ongoing epic about the war between G.I. Joe and Cobra has taken some serious twists this year. General Hawk is paralyzed. The Baroness is pregnant. The Joe team has been cut down to 12 members and Destro has seized control from Cobra Commander. The creators of this title are never content to let the status quo rest for very long, an incredibly refreshing way to tell a story about characters that were first created in another medium, and they’ve used that fearlessness to create a great comic book.

Honorable Mention: TransFormers: Armada, Street Fighter, Dragonlance.

10. Best Comic Adaptation

Double Blakie Award: Spider-Man 2. This ran away with it in the voting, friends, nothing else was even close. Director Sam Raimi reunited with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, and threw in Alfred Molina to make one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. Peter Parker’s responsibilities as Spider-Man finally overwhelm him and he decides to throw away his costume once and for all… but has to reconsider when he finds his loved ones plagued by the mad Dr. Octopus. Great acting, great visuals and characters that are true to the comic book. This was better than the first movie, and better than almost any other superhero movie out there.

Honorable Mention: Smallville, Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans.

11. Best Miniseries or Special

Double Blakie Award: Identity Crisis. Like the previous category, this is another one that left all competitors in the dust. DC Comics took their greatest heroes and gave them something even their vilest enemies couldn’t – fear. When the loved ones of a superhero become targets for a serial killer, all heroes have to be ready to fight. A lot of people balked at the conclusion to this series, and while I didn’t think it was flawless, I thought it was expertly crafted and impeccably written. Plus, with the noises we’ve heard coming from DC over the last few years, I get the impression that this is only the beginning of the shakeup of the DC Universe.

Honorable Mention: My Faith in Frankie, Powerless, Punisher: The End.

12. Best New Title

Reader’s Choice: Astonishing X-Men. With the end of Grant Morrison’s historic New X-Men run, Marvel Comics wisely decided not to try to duplicate his efforts, but instead took the team back to its superheroic roots. Written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon with beautiful art by John Cassaday, this book focuses on a team of X-Men trying to prove themselves as superheroes in a world that hates and despises them. While the “mutants dealing with bigotry” angle isn’t new at all, what is new is the stance the characters are taking: fight bigotry by purposely making themselves heroes. It’s a new take on a concept that’s been done so much that a lot of us didn’t think any more takes would even be possible. It’s a great read.

Writer’s Choice: Fade From Grace. This little-known title from Beckett Comics was literally just handed to me at the Wizard World Dallas Convention in November, and I was astonished to totally fall in love with it. Written by Gabriel Benson with haunting artwork by Jeff Amano, this is the tale of John and Grace, a young couple very much in love. Their world is turned upside down, however, when John discovers he has the ability to turn immaterial as a wraith or solid as stone. Taking the name Fade, he sets out to become a superhero. What makes this comic so unique is that the story is told through the mournful eyes of Grace, a woman in love with a hero, frightened for his life, often grieving for him as though he were already dead. This is an incredible romance totally unlike any other comic book on the racks, and well worth the read.

Honorable Mention: District X, Cable and Deadpool, Conan.

13. Best Comic You’re Not Reading

Reader’s Choice: She-Hulk. Dan Slott’s new take on She-Hulk has turned out one of the best, most critically-acclaimed comics in the Marvel stable. Shulkie gets a job with a law firm specializing in superhumans – but they don’t want her, they want her human alter-ego, Jennifer Walters. In a day and age where most comic books seem to run and hide from continuity, this title revels in it, pulling out obscure characters and storylines and crafting new, often side-splitting stories out of them. The book is so self-referential that old Marvel Comics are often used as actual legal documents. With Paul Pelletier on the art chores and the promise of a big push to help boost sales in the coming year, this book is primed to become the mega-hit it deserves. Just for Heaven’s sake – start reading it!

Writer’s Choice: The Monolith. It may be a case of “too little, too late” since the cancellation of this title has already been announced, but DC Comics’ The Monolith is one of the finest comics out there that simply hasn’t found its audience. Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with great art by Phil Winslade, this is the story of Alice Cohen, a young woman with a messed-up life, who inherits her grandmother’s old mansion with the caveat that she get her act together. When she moves in she discovers her grandmother’s secret – the giant clay golem living in the basement. It’s a superhero story with a twist. It’s a “girl and her monster” story. It’s a totally new set of eyes through which to view the DC Universe. And it may be ending, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jump on and see what’s so great about it before it goes. There’s always a chance that the Monolith can rise to fight again.

Honorable Mention: Street Angel, District X, Invincible.

14. The New Beginning Award

Reader’s Choice: Green Lantern. With the conclusion of the previous series and the beginning of Green Lantern: Rebirth, fans couldn’t be happier to see what’s happening to one of DC’s iconic properties. Hal Jordan is on his way back, and while a lot of us don’t want to see Kyle Rayner vanish either, the fact is that Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver are delivering a great story with beautiful artwork that’s not just taking the easy way out. As Johns is so good at, he’s mining the past of this property to craft his story, making a tale of redemption that actually seems to fit. It looked like a nigh-impossible task, but he’s making it happen.

Writer’s Choice: She-Hulk. I’ve already gushed about this title once, but I don’t mind doing so a bit more. She-Hulk is a character that has gone through a lot of incarnations over the years. From her savage days to her birth as a superhero with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, from the zany John Byrne series and back to being a team player, Jennifer Walters is someone who has reinvented herself every few years. Dan Slott understands that this character is at her strongest when she’s being lighthearted, but rather than copy the Byrne era, he’s found a totally new way to make her title into a comedy. I hope to get to read this book for a very, very long time.

Honorable Mention: Thor, Silver Surfer, Iron Man.

15. The Happy Trails Award

Reader’s Choice: Captain Marvel. No surprise here, seeing the uproar that followed this comic over the last several years. Peter David’s unique take on Captain Marvel lasted this long thanks to the severe dedication of the fans. It went from a fairly lighthearted satire to a much darker satire when the main character went mad, and while that storyline probably was dragged out a bit too long, there were still a lot of sad faces when the self-referential final issue hit the stands. It was a book that had a dedicated fan base, and it’s a book that many will miss.

Writer’s Choice: Bone. After over a decade Jeff Smith’s magnum opus finally came to an end. The tale of the Bone cousins, driven off to a valley full of strange and terrifying creatures, is one of the greatest fantasy tales ever put to comics. With beautiful artwork, compelling characters and an epic feel that makes Smith to comic books what Tolkien was to literature, it’s hard to believe this title only lasted 55 issues before the end. If you’ve never read Bone, now’s your chance: there’s a massive one-volume edition collecting the entire series, and Scholastic Books is about to launch a reprint paperback series that will redo this classic comic book in color, most of the issues appearing in color for the first time. I love this comic, and while I’ll follow Jeff Smith to any project he goes to in the future, I’ll never stop hoping that he comes back to the world of Bone once again.

Honorable Mention: Sentinel, Negation, H-E-R-O.

And that’s it for this year’s Everything But Imaginary Awards! Hope you had a great time, folks, and don’t forget to tip your waitress!

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: January 5, 2005

Continuing the revitalization of one of Marvel’s icons, Captain America #2 scored the first Favorite of the Week honor for 2005. Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting have managed to make a healthy blend of superheroics with the spy and crime genres that Brubaker does so incredibly well. This is a book with a big ol’ mystery, lots of danger, lots of spies and lots of action. It’s been quite a while since Captain America was this good.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

 




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