Leave Your Spandex @t the Door: Return of the Greek

Welcome to the 17th instalment of the new Leave Your Spandex @t the Door!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s been a very busy month for your humble writer: visiting my home in Greece for two weeks, taking part in the spotlessly organised Athens Comicdom comics convention and getting into the vibe of Eurovision! Expect some photos and details from the con and my 3-second celebrity next week! I haven’t had any sleep for 2 days now because of a university deadline, but I will still persevere for all (three) fans of LYSAD who haven’t seen an update in a month.

This week because of Monday’s holiday comics ship a day late, and LYS@D is here again with this week’s Early Bird Reviews, so you can catch up on what rocks and what flops this week before you head to your local LCS! I’d like to once more thank Travelling Man Manchester for providing me with the advance look copies for review!

This week: armless statues, cheating boyfriends, cheating alternate reality boyfriends zombie curses, cyborg sex, potty-mouthed mercenaries, white-skinned black cops and the answer to the jke ‘so God, her best friend, a fallen cherub, the Devil and her ex girlfriend walk into a bar”¦’

Thing #7
Marvel
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Kieron Dwyer

Review Content: Once more, together: This is Dan Slott’s world, we’re just laughing in it!

Now grab for the tissue paper, because I have some sad news. Aunt Petunia’s favourite nephew has been”¦

>sniff< “¦cancelled!

Yes, I know, I know, this is Marvel’s best ongoing series right now, it is funny and full of action and good characterisation, it’s innovative and fresh, it rocks my world and yours! I know it, you know it, the only question left to ask is:

Why haven’t you been buying it?

>sob< I’m better now, I will continue with my review. So”¦ this is the penultimate issue of the Thing series and it serves another self-contained story, and it happens to be the best issue of this run! It opens up with Ben breaking the arms off the Venus De Milo statue, in Ancient Greece! At least someone still remembers Stan’s golden rule about the first page and the amazing potential for Marvel Comics to be, well, comics: fun, adventurous, wacky and offbeat!
It’s Alicia’s birthday and Ben is still vying to win back her affections, so he is struggling to find the perfect birthday destination. Since we’re talking about a guy with a teleporting pet dog and a working time machine at his disposal, Alicia is in for the ride of her life! Um, that didn’t sound too right”¦ From that first page and the hilarious cover, it’s easy to guess the final destination is indeed Ancient Greece, where the couple stumble into Hercules and cue in the fisticuffs. Slott mixes Classic Marvel Action â„¢ with a barrage of witty situation comedy throughout the issue, and concludes the issue on an emotional note providing a logical conclusion to the lingering question about the future of Ben and Alicia. The conclusion is true to their characters and makes sense, although I doubt it will last in the long term of things as new writers come and go on the FF family.

p.s. Look back at that preview page. This island, Melos, where the story is taking place? That’s my home island, in Greece! And Dan is actually using the spelling Melos to indicate the correct greek pronounciation, instead of the latin Milos used in the english language… Take a look at my island through this link

To conclude, yet again join in our chant: how cool is Dan Slott!!

Grade: A(++)

Hero Squared Ongoing #1
Boom Studios
Writers: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
Artist: Joe Abraham

Review Content: The dysfunctional duo we loved in the Hero Squared mini returns, and they’ve brought Milo and Captain Valor with them. (cue in canned laughter. Or not”¦)

The story is your basic “Me, myself and Irene and herself”: Mild-mannered Milo’s (get it?) life has been in upheaval ever since he met his alternate reality self: the high-flying camp superman Captain Valor. If that wasn’t bad enough, they were both then hunted by Valo’s supervillain and ex-girlfriend Caliginous, who just happens to be the alternate reality counterpart of Milo’s own girlfriend, Stephie. Thankfully Stephie has even less villainous tendencies than Milo has heroic ones.

The series picks up where the mini dropped off, and does a remarkable job of recapping all the events of the mini for the new readers through a discussion between Milo and his best mate, mr Plot Device. Caliginous had abducted Milo and used him as a sex toy, not against his will. Milo doesn’t think it’s cheating if you sleep with your girlfriend’s evil alternate reality self, but still won’t confess to Stephie. As the ongoing series opens up the four characters will meet once more and deal with the afterburn of this act.

Although this series and the spin-off Planetary Brigade have been billed as ‘Bwahaha’ books, Giffen and DeMatteis don’t restrict themselves into the genre they created. They are not playing these character just for laughs but instead take the time and effort to build them into three-dimensional relatable people. It will probably make mocking them afterwards more rewarding!

This first issue is more about these 2×2 characters and their thoughts and motivations, although there’s still a lot of laughs and the TM setting. Valor is trying to convince Milo to come clean to his girlfriend about his affair with, well, herself. Meanwhile, the villainous Caliginous confronts Stephie over a cup of coffee in a cute bistro and they talk about their boyfriend(s) and what it feels like to be a world-devouring supervillain.

Joe Abraham is the original series artist, but here he has finally ironed out any amateurish flaws in his style and is a power to behold, both in his storytelling and in his rendition of the characters’ emotions.

For the final word: Read this series, you owe it to yourself!

Grade: A

Tag #1
Boom Studios
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Kody Chamberlain

Review Content: Equal parts ‘Walking Dead’ and ‘the Ring’, Giffen’s latest series attempts to mix two of the most popular horror genres: Zombies and Curses. With the first taste I’ve taken with this issue, I’ll say it’s a success!

The star of the story is one Mitch, is a rather pathetic individual who gets dumped by his girlfriend on the very first panel of our story and proceeds to get her a taxi home so that her friends don’t think he’s cheap. On the way out he gets ‘tagged’ by a Zombie. Mitc’s body instantly shuts down but he retais consciousness and has a mysterious vision of a woman, while the zombie, now cured, runs off. Now it’s Mitc’s turn to seek out the woman in his vision before his body falls apart.

Giffen has come up with a winning ‘spin’ on the zombie genre, treating the zombie condition as a literal transplantable curse and telling a zombie horror story with a narration from the actual zombie! The protagonist doesn’t come through as the most likeable individuals but he is indeed relatable, even more so because of his victimisation. The artist, Kody Chamberlain is a new name to me, but his style and sense of pacing are perfectly suited for this story. Many horror comic books fall in the trap of sacrificing the plot pacing for atmosphere, but Tag strikes a great balance, making it the first horror comic I’ve read that does the genre justice.

Grade: B

Crisis Aftermath the Spectre #1
DC
Writer: Will Pfeiffer
Artist: Cliff Chiang

Review Content: It’s One Year Later”¦ and dead detective Crispus Allen isn’t the Spectre? Apparently since last we saw them, the spectre has been chasing Cris around begging him to bond with him, with Cris giving him the cold shoulder. So this issue we get to retread the story from Infinite Crisis as Cris realises it gets pretty lonely when you’re a ghost and you can’t avenge your own death if you can’t even talk to anyone, so he rebonds with the Spectre. He must be pretty dim for a detective if it took him a whole year to figure this much out”¦

This mini started on a very quiet note. As a reader I was eager to find out how Crispus is coping with being the Spectre, but instead Pfeiffer has decided to take a step back to the Start line, thereby losing the momentum he had gained from Infinite Crisis. On the flip side, this odd choice will now enable him to showcase the first steps in this new co-habitation, something he couldn’t have done otherwise in the OYL setting he has to work with.

The art is still top notch, as cliff Chiang is an eerily appropriate match for the Spectre and the noir setting of the story. I’m expecting more from the second issue, where he actually gets to draw the protagonist for more than a few panels.

Grade: D

Ion #2
DC
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Greg Tocchini

Review Content: I believe in second chances. So what if the first issue of Ion was the most boring 22 pages in succession I’ve encountered this year? Things can pick up in the second issue as the creative team gets a better dynamic. Miracles can happen.

Well, not in Ion, apparently. Nope, Ron Marz doesn’t do interesting, he’s not a guy that swings that way, no, sir! So instead, we get yet another setup issue: The little blue guys are being cryptic, the Corps are concerned that Kyle is sleep-slaughtering in space and Kyle spends the whole issue fighting a generic winged female merc while exchanging deplorable sexual insults and angry insults in the vein of ‘you’re a potty-mout’. No, I’m not kidding about the last bit, Kyle actually calls her that. With a straight face!

With that line being the highlight of the dialogue exchange during the equally boring battle, this issue truly deserves a:

Grade: F

Lucifer #74
Vertigo
Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Pete Gross and Ryan Kelly

Review Content: Just one issue left to go. I’m really going to miss this title. Not since the days of Sandman has Vertigo published such a grand scope epic. As of last issue Lucifer has left our world, leaving Elaine Belloc, the new God of Creation to find her own balance. Elaine decides she be true to her new duties by retaining this semblance of her human self, but before she becomes one with everything she has planned a special ladies’ night out to patch up some dangling threads from the last 7 years of stories. All the familiar faces are here: Mazikeen (the new Mornigstar), Spera (the fallen cherub), Mona (Elaine’s best friend and the Goddess of Hedgehogs), Jill Presto (the lounge singer impregnated by a living Tarot deck) and Rachel (a character introduced in the very first Carey Lucifer story!).

Carey uses Elaine as his means of providing ‘happily thereafte’ for all the characters he breathed life into during the past 73+ issues. The story is very enjoyable and rewarding to the dedicated fans of the series, but certainly not one I would recommend to new fans of the title. Better to purchase the first trade ‘Devil in the Gateway’ and discover the magic that made this one of Vertigo’s longest running titles! It’s worthy to note that original series inker/artist Ryan Kelly rejoins his collaborator Pete Gross this issue, and the art shines as a result, compared to the last few issues. Ryan Kelly is doing phenomenal work over in Local, but I will sorely miss this particular pairing of artists.

Grade: B

Daughters of the Dragon #5
Marvel
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Artist: Khari Evans and Jimmy Palmiotti

Review Content: Another fun issue! It’s awkward how all the titles I’m enjoying from Marvel right now are almost entirely in their bottom 20 selling rank. After next issue this mini-series will translate into a new ongoing with Bill Tucci (Shi) on the art duties, with the two starring ladies joined by their current ‘assistants’ Humbug and Orka, as well as Shang-Chi and the T&A specialists Black Cat and Tarantula as the new Heroes For Hire! Although I personally prefer Khari Evans (and can put my money where my mouth is when I say that Khari is going to be HUGE within 5 years), I’m hoping Tucci’s name recognition and more babealicious art style is going to give this title the popularity it deserves with the Marvel fans.

This issue delivers more of the over the top action and posturing that has become a trademark for Colleen and Misty, along with a steamy guest-sex-star in Iron Fist!

Grade: B

Runaways #16
Marvel
Writer: Brian K Vaughan
Artist: Adrian Alphona

Review Content: Things slow down suddenly just when the pace had picked up. The new Pride abducted Molly after moping the floor with the runaways last issue. This issue is essentially a ‘licking our wounds’ exercise, with some significant developments in the interpersonal relationships as a result of last issue’s outing of Grim and Talkback’s stolen kiss. Meanwhile Geoff Wilder is back in contact with some very familiar Powers and is attempting to strike a deal that will affect the status quo of the book.

Grade: C

Son of M #6
Marvel
Writer: David Hine
Artist: Roy Allan Martinez

Review Content: ‘And then everyone went home’. Last issue was essentially the conclusion of Quicksilve’s Terrigen-stealing adventure, as he only appears very briefly in this last issue of his own mini-series. Instead, the story focuses on the characters he dragged into his life during the last 5 issues and how things escalate after Pietro’s departure. There is a major turning pointing the status quo of the Inhumans as a result of their actions here, which I expect to tie in with the current Civil War crossover. Apart from that one scene, the rest of the issue is just dragging along quietly without anything to remind the reader of the high standard of the first 5 chapters.

Grade: D

PRESS RELEASES

BOOM STUDIOS!

TALENT #1 from Boom! Studios Draws Rave Reviews

Golden, Sniegoski, and Azaceta strike a chord with critics

May 30th, Los Angeles – Variety, Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, and a dozen other websites agree… since its release on May 17th, TALENT #1, the new bi-monthly supernatural thriller comic book series from writers Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski with penciler/inker Paul Azaceta, published by Wizard Magazine’s “Best New Publisher” BOOM! Studios, has met with critical acclaim from reviewers. Nationwide sellouts at the retail level have followed.

Most fans will be familiar with Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski from their track record as best-selling novelists – between the two writers, they have over 9 million copies of their books in print. “I’m thrilled to be associated with such accomplished authors,” BOOM! Studios publisher Ross Richie said. “As a writing team, these guys are hitting their creative and commercial peaks at the same time. They’ve got a lot of exciting projects going on at various stages in Hollywood, so it’s no surprise that the comic book audience has discovered them.”

Golden and Sniegoski’s Aladdin Fantasy series of novels, OUTCAST, have been optioned for film by Universal Pictures. Sniegoski’s Pocket Book series THE FALLEN will run as a six hour special event limited series on ABC Family beginning this summer on August 13th, starring Paul Wesley and Tom Skerritt. Warner Brothers has optioned Sniegoski’s two teen thrillers, SLEEPER CODE and SLEEPER AGENDA, for film. Sniegoski’s next lit project is BILLY HOOTEN: OWLBOY, with Eisner award winning creator of The Goon, Eric Powell. Golden’s in the midst of a trilogy for Bantam Spectra, THE VEIL, whose first volume, THE MYTH HUNTERS, hit stores in February, and has just delivered to Bantam the first draft of BALTIMORE, OR, THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER AND THE VAMPIRE, a novel co-authored with comics legend and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, who will provide more than 100 illustrations for the summer 2007 hardcover.

Talent’s proven to be a book that has drawn attention for its art as well as its story. Featuring moody, intense storytelling-driven artwork from hot new stand-out artist Paul Azaceta, best known for his art on Image’s series Grounded. “The scripts were a blast to write, but seeing Paul’s art really brings the story to life,” Sniegoski commented. “I knew the book would look good, but I never imagined it would look this good. Paul continues to knock my socks off. “Added Richie, “Review after review has spotlighted his attention to detail, draftsmanship, and superior storytelling.”

“This has been a great year for us so far, drawing accolades for things like CTHULHU TALES, PLANETARY BRIGADE, WAR OF THE WORLDS: SECOND WAVE, and WHAT WERE THEY THINKING,” Boom! Studios publisher Ross Richie said. “But it looks like we’ve got lightning in a bottle with TALENT #1. The response has been phenomenal.”
“Tom and I have been away from comics for a while,” Golden noted. “Ross Richie and BOOM! made coming back to comics irresistible. BOOM! provides an environment where it really is possible to do your best work. It’s incredibly cool to read all of these reviews, and to get the interest we’ve gotten from Hollywood on this project. It’s just one of those moments when everything seems to come together. We feel very fortunate to be at BOOM! with TALENT and to have a rising star like Azaceta on the book, not to mention our unsung hero, colorist Ron Riley. These guys are total pros.”

“I like gum,” added Sniegoski. “Want to pet my monkey?”

“Creepy, interesting, and well-executed… Grade: A-“ — Daily Variety

“If you’ve never read a book from Boom! Studios before, start here.” — Newsarama

“Fascinating, and well worth watching.” — Comic Book Resources

“9 out of 10… Boom! Studios has turned a few heads in the industry over the past year or so… But with the release of Talent #1, the relatively new publisher is going to come to the attention of a much wider audience. Talent is a rare creature: a comic book that lives up to its own in-house hype.” — The Fourth Rail

“I’m hooked, baby!” — Chud.com

“Golden and Sniegoski pack a hit movie into a comic book… one of the best first issues to come out in a long time.” — Pop Syndicate

“Compulsively readable…” — Comixtreme

“Talent becomes a top-of-the-stack read… there’s no question this has unlimited potential.” — Movie Poop Shoot

“One of the strongest openings of any series I’ve read in some time.” — Broken Frontier

“Golden and Sniegoski grab you from the opening panel and refuse to let you go… A stronger, more addictive debut issue I haven’t read! …grade = A+!” The Comic Fanatic

“The storytelling is flawless… it doesn’t get much better than that. Talent is one of my favorites so far this year and it’s only part one.” — POPIMAGE

“Golden and Sniegoski hit all the right notes here… action and intrigue a’plenty” — Popculture Shock

“It does best what it should; getting you interested enough to buy the next book… BOOM Studios appears to be more interested in telling good stories than showing you how smart they are.” — Around Comics

“a potential-packed actioner. As a publishing line, Boom! is definitely taking advantage of its position as relatively new kid on the block to provide readers with a strong set of entertainments unencumbered by decades of company-imposed rules. Precisely what we look for in a small comic book line – and oh too rarely get.” — Pop Culture Gadabout

When flight 654 goes down, it takes 148 souls with it. But not Nicholas Dane. How did the 34 year old college professor survive — was it a miracle? Now Nicholas finds that he has the memories and talents of one of the passengers from the flight — a boxer — and he’s got to use them to survive!
Talent #1 is available for reorder by using Diamond Order Code FEB062920. Talent #2 is available for advance reorders using Diamond Order Code APR063025 and the next installment of the hit bi-monthly series will hit stores nationwide July 6th.

BOOM STUDIOS!

BOOM! Studios launches new exclusive web strip Nitroglycerin at its site with all-new forums!
Wizard’s “Best New Publisher” increases website presence
Los Angeles: Boom! Studios welcomes latest addition Nitroglycerin to its site, along with an all-new forums presence. Wizard Magazine’s Best New Publisher, Boom! Studios, has announced today that an all-new, totally exclusive web comic strip, NITROGLYCERIN, will appear weekly on the site’s front page. Building off the new content at the site, Boom! Studios is also moving its forums from its former home at Comic Book Resources over to the www.boom-studios.com site.
Written by noted comics blogger Kevin Church (www.beaucoupkevin.com/) and drawn by Benjamin Birdie, Nitroglycerin is the debut of their collaboration together. “It’s really great working with Kevin, as we share nicely complimentary sensibilities. Which is to say, we both find things funny on a five year old level,” added Birdie, creator of the monster webcomic hits “Genre City” and “Kings Of Pop” at http://www.webcomicsnation.com/bb/ and the mini-comic sensation “Kevin Analog.” Birdie is also excited about not having to worry about writing for a change: “As a classically trained writer, it’s nice to be able to focus on the art and have someone else worry about the gags. The best part, though, is that if I feel like it, I can contribute jokes as well. It really adds to my overall feeling of superiority over Kevin.”

“It’s nice to know I can help out with Birdie’s inferiority complex,” Church responded. “Seriously, though. I don’t want to be that guy, because we all know ‘that guy’ from press releases, but it’s rare that I instantly have a working relationship like the one with Ben. We bounce ideas off each other constantly and he always surprises me with how well his art clicks with my babble.”
“This is about having fun, plain and simple,” Boom! Studios publisher Ross Richie said. “I hope everybody likes it! Comics publishing can often be driven by big-time Hollywood studio deals, or cross-branding action figures, and generating variants to cash in on collectors. I wanted to find something to do that was all about having a good time. We’re just hoping that we can get people to chuckle each week. That, and we’re showing everyone what my true face looks like in the first strip, unveiled in public for the very first time!”

“Ross Richie makes unabashedly pop comics that recall the smart blockbusters of the 70s and 80s. It’s easy to see why I’m excited about working with Boom!, where material isn’t focus-grouped to death and audiences get some real stimulation from the books,” Church asserted. Birdie went on: “My favorite thing about Nitroglycerin is what a retro idea it is. These days most editorial content has become painfully unfunny attempts at generating hype. It’s nice to see a publisher interested in those
old school kinds of promotional ideas and who isn’t afraid to offer two damaged individuals the opportunity to roast his life’s work week after week.”
Nitroglycerin will update every week on New Comics Day: Wednesday and joins the recently re-started Boom! Studios forums, expanding the content offered at www.boom-studios.com.
Since being awarded BEST NEW PUBLISHER by Wizard Magazine and nominated for the same award by DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS for 2005, Boom! Studios has seen an uptick in sell-through and initial orders. Selling most of its outstanding backlist now, Boom! Studios is having a record year.

Aaaaand that’s a wrap for this week! I’m waiting your comments and feedback through email to Manolis@gmail.com. If you self-publish your own comics or represent an indy comics company, add me to your press release list, and I will run your news in this space every week.

Manolis Vamvounis
a.k.a. Dr. Dooplove