Monday, December 31, 2007

Last solicitations for this year - Part 2

Finally, the last post for this year. This is my 80th post this year
( and my 129th since I started this blog ) which sums up to a quota of 1,54 posts per week or 1 post every 4,56 days.

Not too shabby if I dare say so myself. My initial goal was to have one new post up per week which I have exceeded by 28 posts and I hope to top it in the next year. But before my head gets any bigger let´s first wrap up the solicitations. And I have to apologize because I wrote in my last post that Kurt Busiek was writing BRAVE AND THE BOLD when it´s Mark Waid. Thankfully one of my readers noticed it and I have already corrected it.

Incredible Hercules 115

This is it. The big one ! God vs. Demigod. Brother against halfbrother . Herc against Jerk !

Although where the greek gods are concerned they are all halfbrothers or halfsisters or somehow related. It´s all about sibling rivalry and trying to get Daddy´s attention. If you believe the greek mythology then Zeus was the biggest player before the word was even invented leaving godly offspring all over the place. So most of the gods as a result of being descendandts from him were related. And....

....what´s that ? You didn´t know that Hercules was only a Demigod ? It´s true while Zeus is his father his mother was mortal which always made him an outcast and which also was the reason he took on the twelve labors to begin with. I think that´s one of the reasons why he bonded so strongly with Thor who always was an outcast in Asgard because of his fondness for earth. In recent stories it has never been explained but there was a storyline were it was revealed that Thor´s mother was Gaea mother earth herself. And while this story has been neglected by most writers of today the connection between Thor and Earth is still a big factor in the Thor book.

But back to Herc. Another battle between Hercules and his hated halfbrother. This time the roles are a bit reversed. Normally it´s Hercules who´s fighting on the side of the good guys and Ares with the bad guys. This time it´s Ares on the side of the registered superheroes and Hercules who is with the outlaws. On second thought : is the side of the government really the side of the good ? It is the law - but is it right ? So maybe Hercules is still one of the good guys.

Yep, one of the most interesting things this year was the CIVIL WAR fallout with THE INITIATIVE. It´s not so black and white anymore and if anything the landscape of the Marvel universe has become a whole lot more interesting. Here in Germany everybody is expecting that it´s only a temporary thing and things will be soon back to the usual status quo but I´m not so convinced. So far it doesn´t look like there will be an easy resolution for this whole mess in the near future. For as long as this last it´s one hell of an entertaining read.

Hulk 3

Speaking of slobberknockers it looks like the powers that be in the Marvel offices have decided to boil it down to the essential in this new title and to focus on what readers really like to see. Which is everyone´s favorite greenskinned goliath beating the bejeezus out of huge buttugly monsters. Except that the Hulk´s not green but red now. So we have to come up with a new nickname....something like " the red menace " or would that be to anti - communistic ? Although there are almost no communists left so I don´t know. Don´t want the rest of the world to think we are still stuck in our cold war mentality. Wait a minute....what am I talking about ? Germany was full of Nazis during the cold war and the russians were our allies. Well, until Germany decided to screw the russians and it all ended in a fiasco in Stalingrad. Aw, what the heck....Spain was busy with Franco at that time so I´m neutral on this whole capitalism - communism - american vs russian thingies.

I think I´m just going to call him " el toro rojo " from now on. I also have been thinking if we really need a second Hulk title. Hmm, let me think...a Hulk title with big fights between Hulk and gigantic monsters drawn by Ed McGuiness that´s much more interesting than the sci fi x - files espionage and sensitive soulsearching that kept away younger readers for years....of course we do !!!

Especially if we don´t get to see much of Hulk in his own mag.

Mighty Avengers 10

This month Marvel seems to have noticed that their big plan to catch up on this book with one issue a month is not going to work. Which seems logical because even though you get no further delay on a book with one issue a month you can´t make good on the delay you already amassed in the past. It´s like the " red queen priniciple " of nature ( named after Lewis Caroll´s famous children´s book ) that says that every species has to keep evolving constantly to keep up with the others.

So we get two issues of MIGHTY AVENGERS this month. Which reminds me that I should start reading the comic now that it´s going to cross over with NEW AVENGERS ( or how I like to call it SECRET DEFENDERS ) - which I AM reading. At the moment I´m waiting to see if issue 6 will be in my next comic shipment because I think it will wrap up the first storyarc.

Mighty Avengers 11

Now according to the solicitation this cover is by Frank Cho. Doesn´t look like it. Now THIS cover was done by Frank Cho. Doesn´t look like the other one at all.

My guess is they just took some Mark Bagley art from the interior for the solicitation image. Or it´s a part of the cover by Mark Bagley. But it definitely doesn´t look like Frank Cho did it.

She Hulk 27

I finally read the first two SHE HULK issues by Peter David and it´s really hard to much better the book is with good writing and solid art. It´s not Marvel´s highest level but it also doesn´t look like it´s for SHE HULK - THE CARTOON. So that´s already a big step forward.

For the story I´m not sure what this whole " She Hulk as a bounty hunter " deal is all about but after what I had to suffer from Dan Slott I´m willing to give Peter David some leeway. What I found kind of strange was that Jen had a skrull as a partner. Now correct me if I´m wrong but isn´t Bendis busy with this whole skrull secret invasion thing ? I´m curious how that ties in to She Hulk.

Ultimates 4

Well, I guess this book didn´t take off as well as Marvel planned. At this point the second printing of the first issue should be out so at least my readers in the States know if Marvel made good on their promise to improve the printing. After so much anticipation the actual comic was really disappointing but I´m still not ready to give up on this book. Maybe the second issue will be better and maybe Marvel will finally learn that digital inking is NOT the solution to all problems. There IS a reason why comics were inked in the first place. And that´s got nothing to do with the fact that they did not have the means to do it at the time.

Be that as it may the good news is that it´s only a five - issue mini series so if you hold this issue in your hands you almost made it. Only one issue to go. Yay !

X - Men First Class 10

Okay, I´m not reading any x - book at the moment apart from ASTONISHING butI was a bit baffled by the solicitation information for this issue ( which has a nice John Romita Jr cover by the way ). Since when do they need a whole issue to " make Cyclops cool " ? Cyclops the captain of cool. The father of funk. The shizznit pimp of style. Okay, that´s a little too much. But for me Cyclops was always one of the coolest characters. Not in the way of " wolverine cool " but more a quiet kind of coolness. Because he´s really the most interesting charakter of the X - Men. Yes, Logan is also interesting but compared to Cyclops Logan always had it easy. He always gave in to his dark desires and berserk rages. And if he got hurt he has a healing factor.

Cyclops on the other hand was always the one who had to keep his emotions in check and bottle up his feelings. He always had to be in control 100 percent 24 / 7. One weak moment and his optical eye blasts can f up things pretty fast. Try to shoulder that burden for a while and you know why he´s not the wisecracking smartass like Gambit. So for me Cyclops is the real hardcore X - Men. And he got the girl. Well, actually both girls since he now has Emma. He sure gets more tail than Logan. So wait for the new series by Marvel titled CYCLOPS BIG PIMPIN.

And that´s all for today. I wanted to finish the solicitations this year but this post is already too long for my tastes so it´s time to wrap it up. I´m sure you have better things to do for the last day of the year and I don´t want to keep you from it.

I want to thank all my readers for their support and I promise to keep improving this blog. I promise COMICBABE BATTLE will return next year and maybe I can also get to a new section I like to call SEARCH FOR THE NEXT POWER GIRL in which I will discuss which real life massita is the spitting image of Power Girl. Yep, just a cheap excuse to post tons of hot pics.

So happy new year, feliz ano nuevo and guten Rutsch from TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN !

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  • Sunday, December 30, 2007

    Last solicitations for this year - Part 1

    I thought that I should finally get to the solicitations before I write my last post. Of course this may very well be only wishful thinking on my part and not assuming that this is my last post for this year.

    I try to post more often but going by my experience so far it may be a few days till my next post. The last few days I was busy with computer stuff and such. The second day of christmas I was mostly sleeping the whole day and now I´m again sorting through my picture files. I tried to make a new big banner to put in the blog title but I had to realize that I have no idea how to do it. Since my brothers keep reminding me constantly that CIVIL WAR is over I have thought about doing other banners but I´m not sure which way to go. It still makes a lot of fun and it has become kind of my signature to show the end of a post but maybe I will put them up at the beginning of each post from now on. Or at the end.

    Who knows ?

    Anyway I haven´t written in the last few days but today I read a thread in a german comic messageboard that reminded me why I started this blog in the first place. So again it´s time to get to the solicitations for the end of the year this month starting with DC.

    Brave and the Bold 11

    One of the best series this year has been THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. With Mark Waid and George Perez as the creative team and guest - stars like Wonder Woman and Power Girl this books leaves no wishes unfulfilled. In issue 11 George Perez is taking a break but with a high profile fill - in artist like Jerry Ordway they manage to keep the high quality level they have established so far.

    And you can´t go wrong with evil Superman Doppelgangers. Wait, is that a kryptonite planet that Ultraman is using to crush Superman ? That´s gonna hurt.

    Booster Gold 7

    Yes, the blue and gold team is back in action. From all the new titles that were released this year this one flew completely under my radar. With two dozen new series following the events of CIVIL WAR and three dozen series that spun out of 52 there were just too many to keep track of them all. And that´s without paying to the two dozen new series spinning out of Countdown. Or the fact that I should be cancelling books instead of adding new ones to my pull list.

    So it´s understandable that I kind of kept the series in the back of my mind but lost track of it when I didn´t come across any of the issues in the comic shop. After reading issue 5 I have been looking for back issues since the new series seems to be right down my alley with all the time travel and parallel universe stuff but so far I´ve had no luck. Yesterday I ordered some books but I only had enough money for the JLA issues I missed and two ACTION COMIC issues. I thought my brother had put the series on his pull list because of the new artist Gary Frank - which he didn´t. With a bit of luck the issues will arrive in a few days since they are part 1 and 3 of the SUPERMAN AND THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES storyline. So far I have only the second part and I hate to begin something with the second part. Anyway, in a few days I can hopefully put up more content about one of the main inspirations for the title of this blog ( yeah, you would guess that with a title like mine you would find more content about the Man of Steel ) since I still haven´t gotten around to read the SUPERMAN issues by Carlos Pacheco.

    I know, that was one of the things I wanted to do during the holidays but I´m not sure if the stroyline is really finished. I like to read those long stories in one sitting.

    AZTEC Trade Paperback 1

    Before their collaboration on the JLA relaunch Grant Morrison and Howard Porter worked on a little book called AZTEC. Though being loved by critics the title was read on by a handfew and cancelled before it´s time. But since Grant Morrison is the new Alan Moore ( or is Alan Moore the old Grant Morrison ? ) DC is digging up all his old works. In this case it makes perfect sense since the book is unknown to most comic fans. I for one am anxious to discover the world of Aztec.

    Justice League Unlimited Trade Paperback 1

    A few months back I did a few posting called BEST LEAGUE EVER about the best JLA series and storylines ( at least in my opinion ) where I forgot to mention the JLA cartoon spinoff comic series. I already mentioned them in one post because this is really one of the best JLA books out there. While being written for a younger audience it can be enjoyed by older readers and it contains all the elements that made the cartoons such an success : the ability to boil every character down to his essence and what makes him cool paired with a focus on the individual characters and their problems.

    So far I have only read the five poketbooks which contain some of the best JLA ever written. Every JLA fan should have them in his collection and if dirtcheap poket books are not your thing here´s the normalsized edition. I´m not sure which issues it contains but I hope this is a sign that DC wants to give this title more attention and possibly print more collections.

    Starman Hardcover 1

    A lot of collections from DC in this month´s solicitations. Starman is still one of the best superhero books DC ever made. And it still hasn´t been published in Germany. So if you live in Germany and still haven´t read the title because you don´t like the trades here´s your chance. Chris Robinson writes a captivating tale spanning the whole Ted Knight Starman legacy and reaching from the distant past of the wild west to the far reaches of the galaxy in the future. And I really don´t have to mention the great art by Tony Harris.

    Amazing Spider - Girl 18

    Or as I like to call it " Spider - Girl 118 ". You have to keep in mind that this title has 100 additional issues under his belt. From all the Spider - books published this year this was still the best written with the most consistent art. This books reminds comic readers why Marvel used to be called " The house of Ideas " which seems to be why they tried to kill it so often. But there seems to be a silver lining on the comic horizon. Because last month when I was at the comic shop and looking for issue 12 that my brother is missing because our old comic dealer went out of business there were already two trades available. The title is at number 15 and there are already trades available that contain the first twelve issues. You really can´t say that Mervel isn´t trying to make it as easy as possible for new readers to give Mayday Parker a chance. Judging from the cover there´s a bog mob war going on with Spider - Girl and the Hobgoblin caught in the middle of it forced to team up. Really takes me back to the great mob war storylines of Spidey involving such great characters like Rose, Silvermane, Manmountain Marko, Tombstone or such mainstays like Hammerhead and Kingpin. Great times, man.

    Avengers classic 10

    Yes, I know. Each month I keep drooling all over Art Adams fantastic covers ( or the Enchantress more specifically - masssitaa ! ) without having read one issue of the book. I´m such a fanboy. And each month I keep saying how I wish he would be doing some interior work. Maybe you´re already tired of hearing it. So this time around we will have none of the usual geekfest. Because yes, like always this cover is exceptionally well drawn and it features the voluptuous Enchantress. But this time I wanted to post the cover because this may well be the very first cover that Marvel ever printed that shows how Thor´s hammer SHOULD look. Not like a toy, not like a mace but like a deadly weapon that can crush your enemies. So for all the Avengerfans and collectors out there this will be the one and only Marvel book to ever show Mjolnir´s real appearance. Don´t miss out.

    Captain Marvel 5

    I really have nothing clever or witty or funny to say about this months cover by Ed McGuiness. So sue me. I already said stuff about this months Avengers classics issue. What else do you want from me ?

    What´s that ? I HAVE to say something or I´m not allowed to post it ? Okay. In this month´s issue : Captain Marvel vs. the Batman ! Yes, I know, going by the green color of the pointy eared shadow it´s probably a skrull. I mean Captain Marvel and skrulls that´s like peanut butter and marmelade. Can´t have one without the other. But wouldn´t it be cool if it WAS Batman ? Most definitely Batman. Or a skrull. Or Batman. You decide. As long as you don´t open the actual comic this is the comic equivalent of Schroedinger´s cat. Till you have read the book it´s both at the same time - Batman and a skrull. Wait a minute. Now there´s an idea. Could it be.....Batskrull ?

    Civil War chronicles 9

    Okay, am I the only one who thinks it´s embarrassing that Marvel´s CIVIL WAR is so complicated to read with all the tie - ins that they have to print a series with all the issues in chronological order ? Back in the days when I was starting to read american comics they put little numbers in the corner of ACTION COMICS, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, MAN OF STEEL and SUPERMAN so that readers knew in which order to read them. I guess nobody told Marvel about it. Or they just want to use their readers confusion to earn money. This way they can sell it to all the Marvel Zombies out there who already have the trades but can´t figure out how to read them.

    Since I never got used to read things in chronological order because there was no such thing when you only got scattered issues ( again : this was when I started reading american comics ) it´s not something I miss. But I guess for today´s comic reading audience that has grown accustomed to getting all issues in chronological order from online comic stores the reading experience of CIVIL WAR was nervewrecking. They are not used to it just like they are not used to start reading a new title with a number that´s higher than 1. I really have to say that when I look at the comic readers of today it´s a miracle that there are still new readers coming to comics.

    Dark Tower : The long road home 1

    On a more upbeat note the success of Marvel´s first DARK TOWER comic series has given me something to look forward to in 2008. Not that there´s not a plethora of comic goodness coming our way in the next year. But one of this year´s highlights for me was the Dark Tower series especially since I had no previous exposure to this particular part of Stephen King´s mindscape. I wanted to get it as a christmas present for my sister but she doesn´t read much US comics in the original version and the german translation of the comic will be coming out next summer. I just hope that they can manage a decent translation since it´s being done by a bookpublisher and not a comic company. So there´s a chance that they will see it as a part of Stephen King´s masterwork and not just as a silly comic book. Which would be the worst case scenario here in Germany. But let´s stay positive. The new Dark Tower comic will rule !

    And with that I want to end the first part of the solicitations. Like always I have been writing for a few hours now and I´m starting to get tired and making more and more typos. There are still a few things left for the next part which will hopefully be up tomorrow. If not I want to wish all my readers a happy new year and I hope that you will stay healthy in 2008 and you will keep reading this blog.

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  • Tuesday, December 25, 2007

    On the first day of Christmas

    In Spain you don´t get any presents today. At least in the more traditonal families. Since the holy three kings brought Jesus his presents you don´t get presents in Spain till the 6th of Januar which is the day of the three kings.

    On christmas you also celebrate but it´s much more a day for the family to be together than for presents. And you don´t lock your door on christmas so anyone who wants can come to your house. Over the years we have changed our habits a little since here in Germany it is the norm to make Bescherung ( the oficial exchange of presents ) on the first day of Christmas.

    For my sister I got the new german edition of KRAVEN´S LAST HUNT since it´s one of the best Spider - Man stories ever written. And at least she finds out how Spider - Man´s costume is supposed to look.

    Her husband got the HACK SLASH book from CrossCult. You can´t go wrong with horror books especially when they´re done by CrossCult. They always deliver a nice package with the shiny hardcover and the extra pages. The format was even so successful that Dark Horse adapted it for all new releases of their cult books like HELLBOY and SIN CITY. Which is one of the reasons why I´m glad to have the original trades since the new ones are much smaller.

    Like most of the other titles from CrossCult HACK SLASH was a good read although for my taste there was something missing. Not that the art was bad - the first story was done wonderful. The other stories were done in that " it looks like cels but there is no anime " - look that has already prevented me from reading RUNAWAYS but that´s not what´s bugging me. For my taste the stories don´t " breathe " it all seems much too compressed and the story is at an end before it is really told. So both of these books I got from the Comicbörse in Stuttgart ended up as christmas presents.

    My younger brother got the second WOLVERINE ORIGINS trade.

    Like I said in my last post : I couldn´t get the IMMORTAL IRON FIST trade and at least I know he bought the first trade a few weeks ago. Maybe he´s going to put the book on his pull list.

    And the easiest is always my older brother. Since he buys almost no comics I just give him the newest Hellboy book that´s available.

    Or the newest B.U.A.P. book.

    He never follows up on series. Never. Anyway, I got him the first B.U.A.P. book for his last wait, I got him the first WALKING DEAD book for his birthday and when I got the first B.U.A.P. book I swapped it for WALKING DEAD.

    My brother doesn´t like the WALKING DEAD as much as me and since I already had the second WALKING DEAD book it was a good trade. And they had the same price tag so everybody wins. Like I said I got him the second B.U.A.P. book and I hope he likes it although it´s in color and he usually doesn´t like the Hellboy stuff coloured.

    Here in Germany there have been big debates if Hellboy should be published in black and white like CrossCult does or in colour like Dark Horse does. One fraction says it looks best in black and white so that´s how it should be published. Another fraction says since the Dark Horse version is the original version it should be published in color since the big black spaces build a nice contrast to the big red and yellow splashes of blood and fire. The last fraction argues that Mike Mignola never intended Hellboy to be in colour and it was only done because although SIN CITY was a huge success they felt they couldn´t sell it as a black and white book. Me I just don´t care. I´ve grown accustomed to the coloured version since that´s how I began to read Hellboy but I have since then gone over to reading the black and white german version. Yes, I miss the red and yellow and whatnot. But it also works very well as a black and white book so.....whatever.

    For some people it´s very important to read a comic in the original version but usually I just pick the version I can get my hands on and which one is the cheapest. With WATCHMEN I prefer the original trade size to the blown up german version because the art by Dave Gibbons does not profit from the larger format. It looses most of it´s density and intensity. So as a rule I don´t much care which version I read except in a few cases when I really care for the series or the artist like Carlos Pacheco.

    This year we decided to make no present for our Mom. Usually she starts giving little subtle hints two weeks before christmas like " I would really like something like new earrings. Golden.....not that silver stuff...yes, gold with some nice stones. " This year she decided that what we really wanted was a projector so that´s what we got. We had to improvise a little but yesterday we watched TRANSFORMERS with Megan Fox ( Massita )

    and today we watched FANTASTIC FOUR - RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER which I hadn´t seen before.

    We also watched PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN AT WORLD´S END which was one of the things I got for christmas this year. The other things were an astrology book for LEO ( which is my sign ) with a quote for every day, a little Santa Claus, chocolate and the new Harry Potter book in the german translation HARRY POTTER UND DIE HEILIGTÜMER DES TODES. I prefer the original version since I heard that the german translation is not very good. Which is not very hard to believe if you know some of the horrifying german translations for comics - which most people would call not that bad. Well, I´m just happy I can read the new book no matter in which way, shape or form. I had intended to wait till you can get it pretty cheap at amazon - which is how I bought the last two books - but now I don´t have to wait that long.

    I also got two new discworld books from Terry Pratchet which means that now I have to start reading the damn books since I already got four of them. Today they showed HOGFATHER on german tv which by the way is also from Terry Pratchet but since I only caught the second half of the second part of the rerun ( try saying that twenty times ) I didn´t watch it.

    So all in all this first day of christmas wasn´t so bad.

    Now in my last post I mentioned Ultimates and digital inking. I wanted to add that I´m not a big fan of using computers for stuff that looks better when done by hand. For me a computer is only a tool and only as good as the artist. And I really think that the comic industry has benefitted from it. Just think about how all the other companies had to switch to computer coloring because image was flooding the market with all this glossy, shiny computer colored comics. When they finally came out.

    What I don´t like is some half - assed book that not really computer rendered and not really drawn. Or when they put 3d - objects in a flat drawn comic. It just destroys the look. And I also don´t like painted comics that look like computer animations. If you do computer just go all the way. Just do a comic with everything done on the computer. Why not ? And if you´re doing one you can do a Power Girl comic since it seems impossible for DC to get a halfway decent babe artist to draw their most popular female character.

    You know, sometimes it seems like they´re afraid to make money. I think a Power Girl comic done on the computer could sell.

    Here is my dummy version of what a Power Girl comic could look like. Yes, there is Rogue in it but it´s only to give you an idea.

    Power Girl is on the way to the topless beach when she suddenly encounters Rogue who seems to be going her way. Startled to find a DC character in her backyard they soon begin to pace each other.

    Rogue is also confused to find herself suddenly smackdab in the DC universe and starts dissing PG. The tension is rising. Anybody could explode at any minute. But after realizing that none of the two had anything to do with Rogue being in the wrong universe they compare cup sizes and decide to head to the beach together where they take their tops off.

    Happy End. You see how easy it can be ?

    Of course the proportions don´t have to be that exaggerated but that´s how it could look like.

    Since I mentioned the german translations of Hellboy and B.U.A.P. I aslso wanted to say something about the PANINI version of MIGHTY AVENGERS.

    I was a bit surprised that they translated the title to DIE RUHMREICHEN RÄCHER instead of DIE MÄCHTIGEN RÄCHER but since the first title has already history in Germany it is understandable. What´s not so understandable is that in a market that has to fight for every reader the price tag for a comic with 3 issues is 13 EURO. That´s 13 bucks for 3 issues that together cost less than 9 bucks when you buy the single US issues. That´s much money for a publisher that always tells it´s readers that they have to keep fighting for the german translations instead of switching to the american originals.

    I don´t know how they calculate this but the way I see it nobody is going to pay 4 bucks more only to have the pleasure to read it in german. Especially with the quality problems PANINI has had in the last few months. No sir. The way I see it the customers are going to read the US version where they can buy 4 issues for the same money and even have 1 EURO left to buy a Snickers bar or an Hamburger in the nearest Mc Donald´s.

    So I hope you had a nice first day of christmas, got some nice presents and didn´t drink to much. And that´s all for today.

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  • Monday, December 24, 2007

    Merry Christmas

    This is my second christmas post on this blog. Which in itself is a big accomplishment considering the unsurmountable obstacles put in my way by the fates, the gods and whoever is trying to sabotage my blog.

    Anyway, in my last christmas post I explained that as a rule I only give away comics as christmas presents. Why try and make sense of things I have no experience with like cigars, alcohol or clothing so I never know if I´m giving people top notch quality or just worthless tinnef ? I like to stick to the only field where I´m the Big Poppa Pump.

    This year I already had all my christmas shopping done four days before christmas since I have taken up the habit of start looking for christmas presents in September. It´s especially difficult to find presents for my family because you never know what they like. With my sister and her husband it´s mostly because I have completely lost track of what is already in their comic collection. But since they have a different taste in comics I can usually get rid of comics I don´t like very much.

    I´m not going to post what exactly I got as christmas presents this year so I don´t spoil it for my brothers - even though the chance of one of them checking out my blog is say the least. For my older brother it´s not that difficult since he buys almost no comics. If he buys ten comics in one year that was a really good year. So I ususally get some Hellboy stuff for him since he´s not big on following up series.

    My younger brother was much more of a problem since he already buys a $%%&?ßload of comics. And not always in the top category. So this time it was very difficult. No it wasn´t. I have to confess that I have known since August what I wanted to get him for christmas : the first trade of IMMORTAL IRON FIST. From all the rave reviews, previews pages and online commentaries this really sounds like a comic my brother should be reading - but isn´t. So I decided to get him the first trade. The only problem was that I couldn´t find it anywhere.

    Even my most valued comic store sources came up blank. And since my credit´s too bad to order it online at the moment I was unable to buy a copy. It seems that the first Iron Fist trade is going to become as elusive as the legendary THE SECRET GOSPEL OF MAXWELL LORD trade. It has become the comic equivalent of an urban legend since many have heard of it but no one has seen or read one himself.

    So instead I bought him something that I´m not sure if he will like it since it came as a total surprise to me that he bought the first trade of it. I guess you can´t go wrong with a title he´s already collecting. I would have bought the third trade as an add - on but like always money´s too tight to mention.

    Anyway, I also wanted to comment on a comic for a change. I always try to put up more positive content on this blog but sometimes I can´t help myself. And though I try to listen more to my own inner voice than fall in line with all the playerhaters online this time I have to agree to the message board consensus. Yes, I´m talking about Ultimates Vol 3 issue 1.

    Ultimates Vol 3 or Why this comic is like new coke

    Like it isn´t usually my style to spoil things in my comic rants I want to warn my readers that the following may be hazardous to your comic reading fun.

    When I first heard the announcement that Joe Madureiras is doing the new Ultimates book I didn´t count on it actually hitting the shelves. There have been a few announcements that BATTLE CHASERS was going to be continued from now on and a few issues later it was always cancelled. Which is the reason why I tend to halt the applause and praise for when I can hold the actual issue in my hands. Especially if the star artist is not known for being very fast. So you can guess my surprise when this week I did not only find a new issue of ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN THE BOY WONDER ( or like I like to call it I´M THE GODDAMN BATMAN ) but also the first issue of Ultimates. Will wonders never cease ? Of course that all changed when I actually read the issue.

    Now anyone who has read my blog on a regular basis knows that I´m not too keen on digital inking. There have been a few instances in which a comic book has benefitted from going directly from the pencils to coloring. In all the other cases it´s just painful to look at.

    Some may say that one of the reasons why I don´t like digital inking is that I´m much too old school in my comic book tastes. And you are right if by old school you mean that I have experienced the best in the field of inking and know to what stellar heights the art on a book can be elevated by a master inker.

    I shudder to think what would have happened if the comic book industry had done this decades before and we would never have experienced how much artists like Tom Palmer, Joe Rubinstein, Mark Farmer, Scott Williams or Oclair Albert can add to a book. There would be no comics industry now because it would never have gotten to the quality it has now.

    I´m not saying all digital inking is bad but like the new released Conan trades by Dark Horse Ultimates 3 suffers from it. When I first read the issue I thought I was reading the first comic of a small indie company. I don´t want to say that our own first ( and to the moment only ) issue of POWER FREAKS is as good as it but there´s not that much of a gap between the two. It really looks like the first attempt to make a comic. This should be really used as an example how NOT to make comics.

    The panel layout is confusing, the storytelling is even worse and the panel borders are almost nonexistent. It´s all just bad. If the lack of good inking doesn´t do enough too distract your eye the coloring is so murky and dark that it´s almost impossible to see anything. In BATTLE CHASERS Joe Madureira was already overrendering the pages but at least there was some phenomenal inking on the book so you were able to see what was going on. And as if that wasn´t enough to prevent you from making out what´s happening the panels are cluttered with text and logos. This page looks confusing enough ( trust me it´s much darker ) but in the printed page it´s splattered with text.

    Like I said the storytelling is unclear and you never know if characters are running towards another, away from each other of even in the same building.

    As far as the story goes Jeph Loeb is not on his best. Compared to his mindblowing stories in SUPERMAN / BATMAN he´s not firing on all cylinders with Ultimates. Now I have no problem with the Iron Man / Black Widow sextape. It´s not like we haven´t had any of those in the real world before. And ULTIMATES is supposed to be pushing the boundaries. I mean it´s not like there are any underage comic readers out there picking up copies of Ultimates. So in fact it´s high time there was a bit of adult entertainment in the pages of this book. I mean it´s not like we actually see any kind of graphic stuff. And we´re talking about a comic where the Wasp flashed the Hulk without us readers seeing anything. So in that direction it is rather a step forward.

    Really, reading the online reviews it almost sounds like the Valkyrie wearing a wet t - shirt was a bad thing. Number one : we need more wet t - shirts in comics. No kidding. And in the issue I have there is no wet t - shirt. I guess I missed that.

    What I found a bit creepy and weird was the concept of Wanda and Pietro sharing a bit more than the last name. That came a bit out of the blue.

    And when did Hawkeye turn into Grifter ? What´s up with that ? Wasn´t it enough that they turned him into Bullseye in the last story arc ?

    As usual Thor has gotten his toy hammer back. I don´t know why Marvel always gives him an itsy bitsy hammer. I know that in the legends it says that the handle of Thor´s hammer was too short.

    But a regular warhammer was made that the wearer could lean on it when standing up. So the usual height was a bit under the chin of a normal man. Now if Thor´s hammer was a bit short that would mean that it was probably somewhere up to his chest. Or where his belly is. If you want to give him a really short handle. A warhammer is a two - fisted weapon after all.

    But come on Marvel, the hammer you give Thor in your comics doesn´t even get up to his knee. If that would have been the case I´m sure that it would be mentioned in the legends as Thor´s mace and not as his hammer. The one good thing about Ultimate Thor was that he had a biga$$ hammer. Now the only thing to distinguish him from the regular Thor is his beard. And who knows how long that will last.

    Now I have heard that the first issue has gone back to a second printing which shows us once again that quality has nothing to do with sales numbers. Supposedly Marvel is trying to improve the color in the second printing but since it´s not probable that I can swap my old issue for a new one.....I´ll just have to wait for the second issue to see if it really makes a difference. A lot of the blame is put on the colorist here but I have to say that a big publisher like Marvel should be able to check the proofs before going to print. But who knows - maybe big companies like Marvel and PANINI are above such trifle things as proofreading.

    So far it doesn´t look like the new version of Ultimates will be on top of my reading pile. Ultimates is now the new coke.

    With that said and done we will come more positive things in my next post. Finally the DC solicitations are up so we can finally start on this subject. And of course we will get to look of the best of 2007 and what to look forward to in 2008. I know a lot of websites are already busy with it but I like to wait for it till 2007 has actually ended. Because usually the most important things happen in the last few days of the year no matter if it´s Katrina, other natural disasters or finding Saddam Hussein in some dirty hole.

    So for now I just wish all my faithful readers ( and all comic readers in general ) a merry christmas, happy hanukkah, feliz navidad and fröhliche Weihnachten. And lots of good comics to read.

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