Author: Johnny Bacardi

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 24

Time once more for Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to spotlight several recent works of sequential graphic storytelling that I find noteworthy, and think you might too- many of which may still be purchased for your very own personal enjoyment at a comics shop, bookstore, or online merchant near you if you’re lucky. Or not, as the case may be. BILLY HAZELNUTS AND THE CRAZY BIRD Script/Art: Tony Millionaire Fantagraphics Books, $19.99 The world at large knows Millionaire for Drinky Crow, which came from his long-running Maakies strip and eventually became an animated show that aired on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Comics fans that know him from the aforementioned Maakies, of course, but also from the Sock Monkey series, in which he demonstrated his gift for woozy, deadpan turn-of-the-century-flavored highjinks and tomfoolery, often to hilarious results. The last couple of Sock Monkey series, though, seemed to me to be a bit uninspired, though, and perhaps Millionaire agreed, because lately he’s been devoting his time to the adventures of the title …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 23

Here we go again with Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to spotlight several recent works of sequential graphic storytelling that I find noteworthy, and think you might too- many of which may still be purchased for your very own personal enjoyment at a comics shop, bookstore, or online merchant near you if you’re lucky. Or not, as the case may be. NEIL YOUNG’S GREENDALE Script: Joshua Dysart; Art: Cliff Chiang DC/Vertigo, $19.99 hardcover First, there were solo acoustic shows leading up to theatrical costumed stage performances, in which Neil first presented his ambitious “Eco-fable”, then the album, which was greeted with no small amount of anticipation by the Young faithful, whose number I still counted myself among back in 2003. Possessing an actual concept this time out, an ongoing story thread if you will, it promised to be an intriguing attempt by Neil to merge two of his creative interests, filmmaking and music making, as well as make some statements about ecology, the economy, politics, love of course and the …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 22

Welcome back my friends, to another lame ELP reference…oh, and Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to spotlight several recent works of sequential graphic storytelling that I find noteworthy, and think you might too- many of which may still be purchased for your very own personal enjoyment at a comics shop, bookstore, or online merchant near you if you’re lucky. Or not, as the case may be. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PRESENTS THE BLACK CAT #1 Script: Jen Van Meter; Art: Javier Pulido Marvel Comics, $3.99 I’m what you could call a casual Spider-Man reader; although I read it a lot growing up (the classic Lee/Ditko/Romita years), but when lesser talents took over my interest waned, and now I only sample when someone whose work I like deigns to do a one-shot or multi-issue storyline. The last Spidey series I remember buying on anything even  remotely resembling a regular basis was the Spider-Man’s Tangled Web series, which spotlighted above-average creators doing their takes on the Wall-crawler in short arcs. Anyway, one reason why …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 21

Roll up, roll up for Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to spotlight several recent works of sequential graphic storytelling that I find noteworthy, and think you might too- many of which may still be purchased for your very own personal enjoyment at a comics shop, bookstore, or online merchant near you if you’re lucky. Or not, as the case may be. BATMAN #700 Script: Grant Morrison; Art: Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, Scott Kolins, Andy Kubert, David Finch, Richard Friend DC Comics, $4.99 When Morrison gets in the mood to do time travel, look out. I haven’t been following the main Batman title since the R.I.P. storyline wrapped, so I don’t know if this expanded issue is a continuation of any particular part of previous stories, or if this is a Very Special Batman tale which serves as a 700th issue celebration as well as a prelude to Moz’s coming back to the book- all I can do is judge it on its own merits. I’ll tell ya straight up that …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 20

Time (way past time, actually) for Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to spotlight several works of sequential graphic storytelling that I find noteworthy and think you might too, many of which may still be purchased for your very own personal enjoyment at a comics shop, bookstore, or online merchant near you if you’re lucky. Or not, as the case may be. THE BULLETPROOF COFFIN #1 Script: David Hine; Art: Shaky Kane Image Comics, $3.99 Comics about comics (and I apologize in advance for using this word, but I can’t think of a better one) tropes, especially those that veer off into surrealism, always run the risk of heading straight up their own asses, as the writer strains to convey to his presumed audience about how wonderful the comics he read as a kid were, and how sad it is that current creators are no longer able to capture that same essence that once seemed so potent, simultaneously indicting and celebrating his peers. Grant Morrison’s remarkable Flex Mentallo, spun off from his …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie No. 19

Here we go again with Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to spotlight several works of sequential graphic storytelling that I find noteworthy and think you might too, many of which may still be purchased for your very own personal enjoyment at a comics shop, bookstore, or online merchant near you if you’re lucky. Or not, as the case may be. WILSON Script/Art: Daniel Clowes Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95 I think Clowes has refined his take on the “Sequential Narrative” (see, Dan, I didn’t call it a graphic novel!) almost to its purest state; unlike previous efforts in this vein (Ghost World, the excellent Ice Haven, The Death Ray), there’s less than meets the eye yet more between the lines than ever before. Clowes gives us the titular character, a dumpy, balding, bearded nobody with no apparent inclination to stop talking or stop being a misanthropic asshole, kinda like we all imagine ourselves being in our worst moments (OK, me anyway). At first, we get to know him through a series …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 18: “Avengers” #1, “Atlas” #1, and More

Time once more for Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie,  in which I attempt to point out, in often rambling fashion, various offerings of a sequential graphics-type nature that I think might be worth your time to check out, or in some cases, avoid- many of which will still be on sale at various booksellers, both online and real-world, near you. This time, four number ones! ZATANNA #1 Script: Paul Dini; Art: Stephane Roux, Karl Story DC Comics, $2.99 Paul Dini loves him some Zatanna, in no small part because his wife not only bears a passing resemblance to her but is also a practicing stage magician, so whenever the Powers That Be decide they want to give the backwards-speaking sorceress a spotlight, be it one-shot or ongoing, then Dini’s only a phone call away. While I think his best scripting work is on lighter fare such as his Jingle Belle and Mutant, Texas franchises, he certainly does better here than with his recent stint writing Bat-books. It helps that Dini gets Zatanna; gives her …

Confessions of a Comic Shop Junkie, No. 17

Welcome once more to what turns out to be a rather DC-centric Confessions of a C.S.J., in which I write a paragraph or three in order to spotlight various works of the sequential graphics type that I think you might want to check out, or vice versa as the case may be, some which might even still be on sale at a comics retailer or online merchant near you. BATMAN: THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #1 Script: Grant Morrison; Art: Chris Sprouse and Karl Story DC Comics, $3.99 Sometimes I wish that I was as smart as Grant Morrison seems to think I am. One of the defining features of Grant’s comics work, at least that of the last decade or so (excluding All-Star Superman and the excellent WE3), is the tendency to leave out important connective tissue in the anatomy of his scripts, leaving us, his highly intelligent (he assumes) readers, to do our due diligence in order to parse exactly what he’s trying to get across. It’s going on via the helter-skelter time/place …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, Numero Diez y séis: Hellboy en Mexico, The Sixth Gun, and more

Here we go again with Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to point out, in often rambling fashion, various offerings of a sequential graphics-type nature that I think might be worth your time to check out, or in some cases, avoid- many of which will still be on sale at various booksellers, both online and real-world, near you. HELLBOY IN MEXICO Script: Mike Mignola; Art: Richard Corben Dark Horse Comics, $3.50 One of the best things about the whole Hellboy thing is how adaptable the big guy is to pretty much whatever mythology you (or Mignola, to be more precise) want to insert him into- African legends, Norse mythology, European superstitious and religious beliefs, Arthurian legends? Why sure! So it’s a natural that eventually Mike would get around to Mexican wrestling of the Lucha Libre variety, most certainly legendary in some circles and a religion in others, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. And, in the best grindhouse cinema tradition, not only do we get masked wrestler adventure, but masked …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie: “Blazing Combat,” “Shuddertown,” and More

Time once more for Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie,  in which I attempt to point out, in often rambling fashion, various offerings of a sequential graphics-type nature that I think might be worth your time to check out, or in some cases, avoid- many of which will still be on sale at various booksellers, both online and real-world, near you. BLAZING COMBAT Scripts: Archie Goodwin, various; Art: A veritable plethora of greats Fantagraphics Books, $19.99 (softcover) In a nutshell, the history behind this one (helpfully recapped in interviews with Jim Warren and Goodwin included in the back of this collection) is that vet/publisher Warren, emboldened by the success of his horror magazines, decided to take advantage of the talent pool he had access to, many of which were former E.C. Comics veterans that had worked on the company’s somewhat radical war comics —  and launched a magazine dedicated to tales of the military throughout various time periods. Thing is, though, this wasn’t launched in 1945, or 1955 — it was launched in 1965, just …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 13: “Black Widow” #1, “Brightest Day” #0, and More

Once more into the breach with Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie,  in which I attempt to point out various offerings of a sequential graphics-type nature that I think might be worth your time to check out, or in some cases, avoid- many of which will still be on sale at various booksellers, both online and real-world, near you. BLACK WIDOW #1 Script: Marjorie Liu; Art: Daniel Acuna Marvel Comics, $3.99 The Natasha Romanoff Black Widow, first created as a Cold War Mata Hari-type sent here to seduce and steal secrets from Tony Stark aka Iron Man, has certainly had a long and somewhat unusual character history. After kicking around as a villainess for a while, Stan or Larry Lieber or Don Heck or someone decided to give her some weapons tech and even later a skintight black spandex superhero suit, and eventually she crossed over and became a “good guy”, even joining the Avengers. I won’t recap the multitude of things they’ve done with her here; you can find that elsewhere– and it’s kinda …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 12: “Turf” #1, “Hate” Annual #8, and More

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends…oh, wait. Welcome back to Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, our often tardy feature in which I attempt to point out various offerings of a sequential graphics-type nature that I think might be worth your time to check out, or in some cases, avoid- many of which will still be on sale at various booksellers, both online and real-world, near you. S.H.I.E.L.D #1 Script: Jonathan Hickman;  Art: Dustin Weaver Marvel Comics, $3.99 Well, I suppose it was inevitable- not a lot has been established in regards to the origins of the Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage  Law-Enforcement Division that Stan and Jack created and Jim Steranko made cool…and in the endless search to put a “fresh”, “edgy” spin on something that probably is better off without one, we get this, which echoes the whole 1602 franchise, or maybe even something like Action Philosphers! or Five Fists of Science, and blends it with a dash of the whole Steampunk aesthetic, as well as a hint, just a …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 11: Kevin Smith’s “Green Hornet,” “Die Hard: Year One,” and More

Time once more for yet another Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to point out various offerings of a sequential graphics-type nature that I think might be worth your time to check out, or in some cases, avoid- many of which will still be on sale at various booksellers, both online and real-world, near you. GREEN HORNET #’s 1,2 Script: Kevin Smith; Art: Jonathan Lau Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99 It’s a dream that dies hard, I think- publishers are always looking for something that will grab the readers’ attention, and presumably create the next hype sensation that will sell lots of comics…and more often as not (since, let’s face it, there’s very little concept-wise that hasn’t already been done and done to death) said publishers will seize upon some character from days gone by, specifically the 30s or 40s, and trot them out in some sort of revamped fashion- or in some rare cases, exactly like the original, hyped as a return to former glories, which hardly ever lives up to the …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 10: “Criminal: The Sinners,” “Supergod,” and More

Time once more for yet another Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to point out various offerings of a sequential graphics-type nature that I think might be worth your time to check out, or in some cases, avoid- many of which will still be on sale at various booksellers, both online and real-world, near you. Before we get started, I’d just like to take a minute and mention the passing of Dick Giordano. Giordano was one of the most important figures in comics in the 60’s through the 80’s, first at Charlton Comics and later at DC. For a quite thorough career overview, I’ll refer you to Tom Spurgeon’s typically eloquent bio/obit; Mark Evanier’s is, as usual, well done too. For me personally, it’s hard for me to recall when I first became aware of his work…I just didn’t buy or read very many Charltons in the 60’s, so I figure it had to be in an issue of Batman or Detective, where he inked Neal Adams (I think Giordano was …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 9: “American Vampire,” “Hercules: Fall of an Avenger,” and More

Number nine…number nine… Yes, here we go with yet another Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to point out some various publications of a comic-bookish nature that I think might be worth your time to check out, or in some cases, avoid- many of which will still be on sale at various booksellers, both online and offline, near you. AMERICAN VAMPIRE #1 Script: Scott Snyder, Stephen King; Art: Rafael Albuquerque DC/Vertigo, $3.99 Despite Benecio Del Toro and co.’s best (?) efforts, vampires are still all the rage these days, even the non-sparkly ones, so it was only a matter of time before Vertigo got in on the act, and here we have the result. Of course, most of the buzz is about King’s byline, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m usually skeptical about writers of his celebrity “slumming” by writing comics; I usually figure an assistant, or some other uncredited writer, does the honors in exchange for the publicity. If that’s the case here, it doesn’t seem that …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 8: “Doom Patrol,” “The Twelve,” and More

Time once more for Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to spotlight several works of sequential graphic storytelling that I find noteworthy and think you might too, many of which may still be purchased for your very own personal enjoyment at a comics shop, bookstore, or online merchant near you if you’re lucky. Or not, as the case may be. Gonna be a short one this week.  I get my comics on a bi-weekly basis, and I won’t get my box till Friday, and I don’t really want to foist a bunch of reviews of two-week-old comics on you. Still, I managed to find a few things lying around the Internets…so let’s dance. DOOM PATROL #8 Script: Keith Giffen, Art: Matthew Clark, Ron Randall DC Comics, $2.99 There are some characters that publishers just won’t leave alone, even though the public continually votes in the negative with its wallets, try as they might to freshen them up with bold new directions and fresh new ideas. Most of the time, it’s fitting …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 7: Marvel’s “Girl Comics,” DC’s “First Wave,” and More

Here we go again with Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, in which I attempt to spotlight several works of sequential graphic storytelling that I find noteworthy and think you might too, many of which may still be purchased for your very own personal enjoyment at a comics shop, bookstore, or online merchant near you if you’re lucky. Or not, as the case may be. SMILE Script/Art: Raina Telgemeier Scholastic/Graphix Books, $10.99 Many of the reviews I’ve seen have taken this to task for a perceived lack of conflict, or dramatic tension, or some something that the critic was looking for — some standard they usually apply to the sort of comics stories that they’re used to reading. Me, I think they’re looking for something that doesn’t need to be there, and are missing the forest for the trees, to coin a cliche. This is no hyped-up saga of personal rediscovery and coming-of-age and struggling with inner and outer demons, a la Blankets (to cite, perhaps unfairly, one example). It is a quiet, unassuming account …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 6: “Jack Staff,” “Hellblazer,” and More

Continuing to take the opportunity to point out various releases of the graphic narrative-type variety that I deem noteworthy for this or that reason, some of which may even be on sale at a comics shop of retail bookstore near you if you’re lucky…or not, as the case may be. THE WEIRD WORLD OF JACK STAFF #1 Script/Art: Paul Grist Image Comics, $3.50 per issue Jack Staff began as a pitch for a series starring Marvel’s Union Jack character; when that didn’t happen, Grist decided to rework it and put it out on his own after he put his excellent Kane series on hiatus. It gave us the exploits of one John Smith, who fought evil during WWII in a Union Jack-style costume and a staff through which he channels energy, hence the title, along with a large cast of characters that include a host of WWII-era Invaders simulacrums, one Becky Burdock, Vampire Reporter, a pert young lady in big glasses and a penchant for wearing the same outfit day after day- and oh yeah, …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 5: “Mercury,” “Nola,” “Supergirl,” and More

In which I take the opportunity to point out various releases of the graphic narrative-type variety that I deem noteworthy for this or that reason, some of which may even be on sale at a comics shop of retail bookstore near you if you’re lucky…or not, as the case may be. Big news in the World of Comics this past week, as DC Comics announced the new management team that people had been speculating upon since former President and Publisher Paul Levitz stepped down, in the wake of Warner Bros. Entertainment initiating the company-wide restructuring that led to its rebranding as DC Entertainment, Inc., presumably to get serious about making inroads into creating successful motion pictures that don’t star Batman. The appointment of a five-person team has led to much discussion throughout the Comics Internet, with reactions being, to put it kindly, mixed.  I think that Dirk Deppey’s remarkably even handed take (unless you’re Levitz) makes a lot of sense, and many other more-astute-than-I pundits have weighed in as well. Me, while I am a …

Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie, No. 3: “Invincible Iron Man,” “Valentine,” and More

In which I continue to take a look at select bound-and-published sequential narratives of recent vintage, some of which may still be on sale in a comics shop, book store or online merchant near you, if you’re lucky…or not, as the case may be. INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #22 Script: Matt Fraction Art: Salvador Larroca and various Marvel, $2.99 Fraction is an insanely talented and imaginative writer who, when left to his own devices via works for smaller companies such as Casanova, can write some of the most convoluted and hard-to-parse scripts that I’ve encountered, anyway. Too smart for the room and eager to prove it, and if clarity suffers, well, that’s your problem, buddy! But playing in Marvel’s sandbox, he’s adaptable enough to be able to play it straight and keep himself honest, and this reining-in makes his run on this particular Iron Man title, launched in the wake of and based on the hugely successful film you may have seen,  successful as not only action-oriented entertainment, but character-driven drama as well. This particular issue …