Welcome to the 89th instalment of the new Leave Your Spandex @t the Door! Wednesday is Comic Book Day in the U.S., 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! Many thanks to Travelling Man Manchester for providing the advance look copies for review!
In other news, LYS@D now has its own MySpace at www.myspace.com/lysad , so be sure to drop by and add me to your friends list!
Panel of the week:
An enthusiastic response last week gave the winning place to Gail Simone and Brad Walker’s Mad Hatter panel! This week, we continue our Panel of the Week poll with a selection from Dr Strange, The Boys and Marvel Adventures Spider-man!
(Pride of Baghdad spoilers inside, open after you have devoured it)
Previews of the week:
Sam Noir: Samurai Detective #2
story by ERIC A. ANDERSON & MANNY TREMBLEY
art & cover by MANNY TREMBLEY
“BLOOD THIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER”
With only a name to go on, Sam has arrived at the lair of the dirty scoundrel who killed his girl, Jasmine. All that stands between Sam and his sweet revenge are a dozen Joes, Master Fuyu’s elite goon squad, and a date with the cold, hard truth behind Jasmine’s death!
story by RICK SPEARS
art & cover by VASILIS LOLOS
variant cover by BECKY CLOONAN
RICK SPEARS writer of the indie hit Teenagers From Mars and hot international artist VASILIS LOLOS rock this riotous, teenage, romp through young love, car jacking and gang violence. In this first issue Patch arrives in Coney Island only to get his eye sliced out by Trish, the wicked bad leader of the girl gang The Cherries. Across town, Sal, a pizza-selling bookie, meets a nasty end delivered by a monstrous shadow with a shotgun. All the fun begins here in the first super-rad issue of THE PIRATES OF CONEY ISLAND!
Our heroine ventures to an island off the coast of Greenland that contains not only the truth behind the mysterious skeleton but much, much more. Hot on her trail is an assassin trying to cover up the Cold War secret at the heart of this mystery. And hot on his trail is our heroine’s new girlfriend!
The week in (advance) review: great phallic swords, murdering pink robots and Gwen Stacey speaks her mind about Sins Past!
Uncanny X-Men #479
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Billy Tan
Review Content: ‘Oh my, Grandma, what a big frakking sword you have there!’
‘It’s to bend the laws of anatomy and physics better, kiddo’
The newest threat in the X-Men’s path is a Shi’ar warrior who carries the Blade of the Phoenix, a powerful weapon inspired (sic) from Final Fantasy, wielding a portion of the Phoenix’s power. (I’ll avoid naming him because I don’t have my review copy handy. Let’s call him Xloud for good reason). Xloud boards the X-Men’s starship and quickly deals away with the team until he comes up against Rachel and their common power source kicks off a joint memory trip that will put a twist into the Shi’ar’s plans!
After long months of negative reviews, I had finally cut Billy Tan some proverbial slack with issue 478 for his anatomy and character sketches. Boy, did I speak too soon! Here Tan is back on his old bad behaviour, with his characters suffering from extreme bone and muscle dislocation. If I don’t stay too long on the neck less wonder-gnome Nightcrawler on the cover, I’ll surely need to at least stop and ponder over Xloud; the reference to Final Fantasy’s Cloud is obvious from the sheer size of that sword, but there’s homage and there’s this! In either case, Uncanny X-Men isn’t a videogame, and the readers have come to expect a logic explanation of how on earth Xloud manages to not only wield the massive sword, but also sheathe it in that enormous sack on his back; surely his arm span doesn’t even reach a third of the sword’s length to be able to store it behind his back in the manner he’s shown. At least his Polaris is still immaculate!
Overall, the issue moves the plot a step forward but the X-Men are still no closer to Vulcan. Brubaker takes his time to build up his characters and relationships. Weeks have passed since the mission set off in story-time and the tensions have been escalating in the team; the Xavier-Rachel subplot is heading into interesting territory with Rachel finally objecting to being used as a telepathic rifle by the professor. Meanwhile Warbird continues to gain interest, Darwin has a moment of cruel self-realisation and Nightcrawler bonds with his new teammates. Brubaker has a strong grasp on the X-Men but the pacing and art fluctuations may yet prove the demise of his Magnum Opus.
Bonus brownie points for Brubaker this week for his hidden D-movie reference with ‘Plan 9’ in outer space!
New X-Men #31
Writer: Chris Yost and Craig Kyle
Artists: Paco Medina
Review Content: The fight between the New X-Men and the improved Nimrod concludes with explosive and splattery effect as the team comes together as true X-Men by laying out their game strategy and using their powers in unison to overcome their foe. But with a cost?
That’s the main question of the issue. After the slaughter-iffic first issues of Yost and Kyle’s run, and the ominous warnings of the solicit and cover that ‘before this issue is over, a New X-Man will fall’, I was understandably waiting to see some teenage mutie blood on these pages again. The cover could have well been the familiar alpha flight #12 motif with targetheads over the kids’ heads as with each turning of the page I expected to see a different mutant eviscerated. The bets were running, and the odds weren’t looking good for the team’s numbskull strong-arm Santo or the cover’s corpse-riffic X-23.
I won’t get into spoilers of the issue and who or how many bite it, but I’ll just state for the record that I feel disappointed from the issue, not as much because of the quality of the writing and the art (still top notch) but the hype itself.
My only real art complaint lies on the crucial double-page spread in the book; the writers don’t indulge Medina often enough with double spreads, so I was expecting a bit more from him when the opportunity arose to spread his wings, instead of a measly action combo which takes up most of the left page and fills the right hand side with dead space in the form of energy backlash.
This issue marked the end of Kyle and Yost’s first year on the title. They have taken a title unsure of its bearing and direction and changed it with purposeful determination into one of my must-read titles every month. Now that they have finally reached their desired status quo and have no more expendable mutants around the mansion, the real challenge begins to develop their final cast and give them staying power!
Stan Lee meets Dr Strange #1
Writer: Stan Lee and Brian Bendis
Artists: Alan Davis and Mark Bagley
Review Content: Now this is a Marvel comic worthy of the introduction “Stan Lee presents…”
Stan Lee is experiencing a creative renaissance and riding a popularity wave after the wildly innovative and entertaining ‘Who wants to be a Superhero’ (which Fat Momma informs me has just been picked up for a second season).
In this new series of one-shots he writes stories for today’s hottest Marvel artists which basically feature him visiting in on his most famous heroes. Each one-shot also includes a completely unrelated story featuring popular writers and artists writing stories about the legend of Stan Lee in the Marvel Universe.
The last time DC attempted a similar feat with Stan, the results were disastrous and costly, remembered with cringes from fans. Stan had been tasked to recreate the DC universe in his image, through the Just Imagine series, paired with DC’s hottest artists at the time. The stories were too long-winded and sorely lacking in the zeitgeist department. Comics storytelling had moved a long way from the 70s, but Stan was firmly stuck there.
With ‘Stan Lee meets..’ the formula is different; the tone is comic and light-hearted, Stan is writing himself and the characters he created and made into classics. and thankfully the new formula works marvels! The stories are 100% Stan, as I can hear his voice in my head as I read, with all the grandpa charm and the camp fun attitude I’ve come to associate with him, which makes reading this both a guilty pleasure and a nostalgic head trip!
This issue: Stan Lee visits Doctor Strange but is appalled to discover his Sorcerer Supreme has become a Sell-out Supreme (I’m developing Stan-isms lately)! The growing costs of maintaining the Sanctum Sanctorum and keeping up with the carpet bills have led the Doc to desperate measures and merchandising! Alan Davis hasn’t done any published work in over a year since he left Uncanny X-Men to concentrate on his upcoming Fantastic Four: The End, but I can understand how any artist would manage to find time for a chance to illustrate a new Stan Lee story! It’s a Marvel artist’s wet dream! I don’t really need long sentences to describe the art here, other than to say it’s gorgeous!
The back-up story is by the Ultimate Spider-man creative team of Bendis and Bagley, bringing back Impossible Man to the Marvel U. In the vein of *that* classic FF story, Impy goes on a rampage in the modern Bullpen offices, trying to confront Stan about the sad state of the Marvel Universe after Avengers Disassembled, Civil War and House of M. Of course when he does reach the Man, there’s a huge queue of similarly disgruntled characters. Look for the Gwen Stacy panel as a front-runner for next week’s panel contest.
The last time Bendis tried to do a Bullpen story in Ultimate Marvel Team-up it backfired in a huge way; he’s learned his lesson well now, as he is self-deprecating enough to actually make the whole thing work. Mimicking the online forums’ consensus, he gets in on the joke with the reader about how the Marvel Universe has deteriorated, even though he’s the main cause of it. And in the end, he answers through Stan Lee the character, in the perfect spirit of the Man. Maybe he’s right too.
the Other Side #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Cameron Stewart
Review Content: Over 10 years after its start, Vertigo continues to prove cleverer and politically daring than ever, with new books like Pride of Baghdad and the Other Side.
The title ‘Other Side’ refers to the two sides of a war, the Vietnamese War. It’s 1967, the war is in full swing and as the death count rises, new recruits are needed to fuel the war machine… on both sides. The narrative of the first issue is split equally between the American boy Billy who is drafted to fight against his will and better efforts, and the Vietnamese new recruit Vo Binh Dai who willingly and proud fully joins the fight for his country. The series delves into the differences and similarities between the two clashing countries, but not on a political level, but with a personal and ideological focus. We see the reaction of the two boys when they first join, the reactions of their family and their countrymen and even their innermost nightmares during their hard training.
Cameron Stewart has recognised the Other Side as his breakout project and wisely given it his all; he has travelled to Vietnam to live the culture and absorb the country’s feel and the people’s emotions, and it all shows in his art here. This is his first Vertigo and mature readers project after a series of superhero work, yet he doesn’t hold back on the violence and gore that the nightmarish sequences demand, and alters his style ever so ground his world. There’s no confusing the world of the Other Side with anything other than what it is: cruel, hard reality. It is an engrossing read about the human truth and emotion in the heart of war and violence.
in the cinemas
The Children Of Men (Alfonso Cuaron)
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Inferno(Mike Carey/Michael Gaydos)
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.
a.k.a. Dr. Dooplove
About The Author
ah, the good old Dr Manolis, the original comics Greek. He's been at this for sometime. he was there when the Comics Nexus was founded, he even gave it its name, he even used to run it for a couple of years. he's been writing about comics, geeking out incessantly and interviewing busier people than himself for over ten years now and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.