Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DC Solicitations once again

It´s been almost a month since my last post which is rather longer than the usual gaps between posts here. But now I´m back to let my fellow readers know I´m still around.

The reason why I didn´t post the last few weeks is that I wanted to concentrate on translating the HORST stories for the new blogs. Normally I can do one in about a week, meaning that the translation of four up to six pages to english and spanish takes about six to eight days. But this time I first had a rather difficult one to translate ( you try to find the englisch or spanish translation for Klosteine ) followed by a very long one of ten pages where I needed one week for the english and spanish each.

Since I vowed not to post till I was at least finished with those stories three weeks had passed like nothing. I know I could be faster but for that I would need my own studio. As long as that isn´t the case I don´t know when or how long I can work every day. And I´m still having shoulder problems thanks to the health care system not paying for my physiotherapy sessions anymore.

Right now there are two stories left to translate : one that is eight pages long and one where somebody talks with an austrian accent. I´ve finished the english version of the first one and for the second one I´m undecided between a texan accent and trying to do a 70´s blacksplotation ghetto speak version. Something like DOLEMITE.

So since my mother returns from Spain today and it´s not likely that I can get any work done on the translations I wanted to use the opportunity to start another installment of the unqualified look at the newest solicitations. As usual I´ll start with the DC stuff and see how long we´ll go ( and how many parts it will take ).


Do I really have to pimp ASTRO CITY at this stage ? Doesn´t everybody already read this ?

For those two of you who don´t read it : ASTRO CITY is one of the best and most unique superhero books out there. If you are tired of reading event after event after event or the constant crossovers and retcons here´s a superhero universe - or much rather a superhero town - that actually makes sense. Yes, you heard right, while most writers start of a new superhero universe Kurt Busiek limits himself to one town.

Although " limit " may be the wrong word since he does more innovative storytelling than other writers who have a whole galaxy to roam. Kurt Busiek, who has won numerous awards for ASTRO CITY including various EISNERS, demonstrates that you can show the whole range of human condition in one little microcosmos which a town basically is. You don´t need a big Metropolis or the big city lights to get to the human part inside the superhero - or the heroic side inside the mild mannered reporter.

All the while Kurt Busiek builds layer upon layer of this superhero town not only mapping out the town itself but also the history of the superheroes of this town, the history of his superhero world as well as the history of comic books. There´s always the history of our real life world underneath it all - of course peppered with intriguing questions like what the Silver Agent´s tragic story is.

Aided in this herculean task is Mr. Busiek by cover artist extraordinaire Alex Ross, who provides absolutely stunning covers for each issue and the capable Brent Anderson on the interior pages, whose art can look deceptively unspectacular at times but so far Í haven´t seen a single thing he hasn´t pulled off. From big cities, to alien space ships, to talking cartoon animals ( surprisingly one of the best issues ), to small country towns, to the great pyramids or the amazonian jungle there´s nothing he can´t draw effortlessly. If Kurt Busiek is the one to get you in touch with the people living in ASTRO CITY Brent Anderson is the one who gets you to feel the city vibe.

The trash in the rundown alleys, the hundreds of post-it notes on a reporters desk and even the wonderful logos for every company and store in the city Brent gives you the whole canvas of city life.

And even beyond that he´s equally a master of showing the big superhero fights with the big explosions as the little moments of human drama that make up the life of the people in this not - so - ordinary town.

THE DARK AGE is Kurt Busiek´s longest running storyline - YET - that not only spans the length of four four issue books, it also tells the tale of the DARK AGE between the beginnings of the superhero community in ASTRO CITY ( which of course is an allegory for the comic industry of America on some level ) through the times of doubt and distrust of the 70s to the much darker and grimmer age that followed.

Our tourguides through the times are Charles and Royal two african american brothers ( no pun intended ) who witness their parents murders as kids and fall on different sides of the law.

One becomes a cop and the other a crook - with everything that means in a city like ASTRO CITY. Now this may sound a bit cliche but let me tell you : from the first issue you never waste a tought on this. The story is just too exciting to that. What starts as a simple black and white story takes turns and goes in circles as you learn that cops are not always the good ones and there may be more honor among thieves. In the end you´re not sure who wears the white hats and the black hats. And if there really is a difference.

Of course there is the backdrop of the story : all the changes in the superhero society while more heroes get fleshed out and we finally learn more of the Silver Agent´s tragic end.

In the past ASTRO CITY has suffered from gaps in the publishing schedule but by changing from ongoing to four four issue arcs ( with specials between them ) that problem has been solved. So far the first three books have come out, each on time with not a single issue skipped and the series is now on the break inbetween with the special issues that focus on ASTRA - the First Family´s teen member - coming out. At 3.99 it´s in the higher price category but if you compare this to other books by the big two it´s worth every penny.

Along with USAGI YOJIMBO, SAVAGE DRAGON and now ECHO ( before it was STRANGERS IN PARADISE ) this series will stay on my reading list as long as it´s being published because - as I mentioned before - it brings you the exclusive quality that only a book that follows one artists unique vision can.

If you haven´t read ASTRO CITY, now is the right time to get in on this story arc as the first book is already available as a trade. I´m sure if you try it out you may become a regular visitor to ASTRO CITY.


Not much to say about this one. I liked the first three issues by Frank Quitely but I´d have to see the following issues first - hand before deciding to buy them. With the increase of a lot of books to 3.99 ( although not this one ) you have to select a bit more as I really found out the last time I was at the comic store. Because this time around I only had one or two 3.99 books and that added a considerable number of books I could take home.

This Saturday there is the Comicfair in Stuttgart and maybe I can check out the issues there. If you are like me waiting for Mr. Quitely´s return to the pages of BATMAN AND ROBIN you can get your monthly Batman fix with BATMAN - THE UNSEEN.

This series is done by the creative team of BATMAN - GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT artist Kelley Jones and Batman veteran writer Doug Moench. The untold story of Bruce Wayne´s past ( of which we will be reading more now that they have wasted the O.B. - original Batman ) is really hitting it out the ballpark each issue.


Another series I highly enjoy each month is BOOSTER GOLD. At first I passed up on this great book that combines some of my favorite stuff : time travel, alternate realities and Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. Dan Jurgens writes the story of the best hero nobody knows as former superhero blunder Booster becomes the secret defender of the timestream.

As one of the books from DC that has gone up from 2.99 to 3.99 I have to pay more for the book but because they have added BLUE BEETLE ( the new one ) as a back up feature it lessens the impact a bit. Although I have to say that there has been better art on the book which looks more like BLUE BEETLE ANIMATED now.

GEN 13 issue 34

Why is this book still being published ? With each new incarnation the series just gets worse and worse and worse. Worse art, worse writing, worse stories, worse main characters. There are seldom such books where you can experience the gradual decrease of quality while reading it. This is one of them. And don´t let the cover by Amanda Conner fool you, normally the covers suck too ! If I had to sum up the bad parts of this book I would probably just repeat the verdict about the bad part in DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION : Just about everything ! Whatever you do.....don´t buy this book.


Finally I can buy a new issue of JONAH HEX as Jordi Bernet returns on penciling duty. I already did an extensive review of his issues here : Hex appeal

Getting a new issue by Jordi Bernet is always a treat and I already know this one will be no exception. One of these days I have to check out the issues by other artists to see if they are as kickass. As I have to do another post on Jordi Bernet´s comic book work.

And this brings us to the end of this part as - once again - our time is up for today. In the next part of the DC solicitations we will get to Power Girl, more JSA than you can shake a stick at ( although I can´t fathom for the life of me why anybody would want to shake a stick at the JSA ) and even more Power Girl.

" Now that I have killed Dr. Midnight you have to mate with ME, Power Girl ! Bwah - ha - ha ! "

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