Julius

Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Brett Weldele
168 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

I didn’t really understand Julius Caesar the first time I encountered William Shakespeare’s play. It was in 4th grade, and our teacher had our class perform an abridged version of the play. A lot of the subtleties were lost as a result, like the real nature of Julius Caesar and Brutus’s relationship, the manipulations of Cassius, or for that matter, the fact that there’s still half a play to go after Julius Caesar’s assassination. It wasn’t until much later in life that, reencountering the play, I really understood all of these things. If I’d had Antony Johnston and Brett Weldele’s Julius to read back then, mind you, I’d have learned the error of my ways much sooner.

Read the rest of this entry »

Phantom Jack #1

Written by Mike San Giacomo
Art by Mitchell Breitweiser
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I’ll admit it, I read Phantom Jack #1 in spite of myself. The idea itself seemed perfectly ordinary—reporter can turn himself invisible—but what really grabbed my attention was creator Mike San Giacomo’s removing the book from Marvel’s stillborn Epic line and taking it to Image Comics. Between that and San Giacomo’s stream of online columns about the creation of the book, there was so much attention focused on the mechanics of the title and almost none about the actual content that it seemed to demand a review. Ultimately the question becomes, is Phantom Jack really worth all the fuss?

Read the rest of this entry »

Mister O

By Lewis Trondheim
32 pages, color
Published by NBM

Every time there’s a new Lewis Trondheim book printed for the North American market, I feel like I should cheer. Slice-of-life, humor, mystery, fantasy, science-fiction… there isn’t a genre or style that Trondheim hasn’t conquered in France. Now Mister O is available thanks to NBM, although I have to chuckle to myself at the thought of the book being “translated” since, like Trondheim’s Li’l Santa books, Mister O is wordless.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kinetic #1

Written by Kelley Puckett
Art by Warren Pleece
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

Last month DC Comics released Hard Time #1, the first of their new “DC Focus” line, home to non-connected series about people in the real world gaining super powers. With Kinetic #1 being the second title out of the gate, Kelley Puckett and Warren Pleece are showing that perhaps they should have been the debut series.

Read the rest of this entry »

Escapist #1

Written by Michael Chabon, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Starlin, and Howard Chaykin
Art by Eric Wight, Kyle Baker, Steve Lieber, Jim Starlin, Howard Chaykin, and Kevin McCarthy
80 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

I have a confession to make. I still haven’t read Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year and a half now, and I really do intend on reading it. I’ve read some of Chabon’s other books and enjoyed them, and I know that The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay won the Pulitzer Prize for literature… and yet somehow I still haven’t gotten around to it. What I’m leading up to here is that while I know that the Escapist is the comic character that Kavalier and Clay create in the novel, I’ve got no actual connection to the character. So the question becomes, if you haven’t read the book, will the comic still be interesting?

Read the rest of this entry »

Strip Search

Edited by Adam Gallardo
128 pages, black and white, and color
Published by Dark Horse

I enjoy anthologies a great deal. They let me take a look at both established and up-and-coming talent and let me see just what they’re made of. In many ways, it’s like getting to see nothing but trailers for upcoming movies and then you get to pick and choose which ones you’d like to go back for and pay full price to see. Strip Search is all about the up-and-coming talent, reprinting the first year of Dark Horse’s online strip contest. Are these comics’s version of the next Kelly Clarkson? Or will it be nothing but disappointment like Jim Verraros and Vanessa Olivarez?

Read the rest of this entry »

Yellow Baby #1

By Jed Alexander
32 pages, two-color
Published by Alternative Comics

One-man anthologies can be both appealing and frustrating at the same time. On the one hand, you often get a wide variety of stories and styles by the creator all collected into a single volume, letting you experience all sorts of different approaches in one sitting. On the other hand, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting an anthology by a single creator, loving one entry in particular, and wishing all the rest of the pages had been just like that. It’s sort of like an appetizer tray, where either you’ll love the entire assortment or make you wish you’d just ordered a lot more of one particular food. I’d never read anything by Jed Alexander before Yellow Baby #1, so I had no idea just which of those two options I’d be in for…

Read the rest of this entry »

Swamp Thing #1

Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Enrique Breccia
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

Poor Swamp Thing. He never seems to get a break, really. After a 24-issue series in the 1970s, most would have thought that he’d slip back into the swamp, never to be seen again. Instead he got a new series in the early ’80s that lasted for an astounding 171 issues, followed by yet another series a couple of years ago starring his daughter that lasted for 20 issues until cancellation. Now a fourth series has begun, and the question remains: is it time for the character to be retired back into the bog, or is there eternal youth lurking in that swamp water?

Read the rest of this entry »

Romp

Written and penciled by Adam Pollina
Inked by Guillermo Zubiaga
56 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Adam Pollina made me buy X-Force. No, it’s true. When he was drawing X-Force I bought the book every month, desperate to see how Pollina would draw the cast every month. You can imagine my delight, then, when I found out that Pollina had a new book being published by Image Comics. I had no idea what Romp would be about, but if it was Pollina, I’d be there.

Read the rest of this entry »

Spooked Vol. 1

Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Ross Campbell
168 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

I know that Spooked has been in the works for a long while, now, but if I didn’t know better I’d think that it was designed as a very deliberate “break out” book for its two creators. Writer Antony Johnston’s first Oni project was Three Days in Europe, which seemed to sort of sneak up on the market while helping build buzz around him. Likewise, Ross Campbell’s first Oni work is Too Much Hopeless Savages, providing the flashback sequences to the already-popular series of mini-series. So like I said, if I didn’t know better I’d think that the editors at Oni had decided that if they teamed the two up, they’d be able to simultaneously show off each other’s talents and really make names for themselves. Surely it’s just a coincidence that their stars are both on the rise as Spooked hits stores. Or is it…?

Read the rest of this entry »