Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework

Written by Nadja Spiegelman
Art by Trade Loeffler
40 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

I adore the Toon Books line, a series of slim books for younger readers that merge comics and children’s books into a single entity. So now, every time there’s a new publication on the horizon, I found myself eager to read it for myself. In the case of the new Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, what I wasn’t expecting to find was a slightly educational story starring two aliens. But the more I read it, the more I find myself enjoying it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Angel: Lorne

By John Byrne
48 pages, color
Published by IDW

When actor Andy Hallett passed away in March 2009, it left the publishers of the Angel comic at IDW in a slight quandary. While not the main character of the series, Hallett’s character Lorne had shown up on a fairly regular basis. Deciding that they would at least temporarily retire the character, the Angel: Lorne one-shot was conceived. And as a way to say goodbye to the character? Well, it’s not going to knock you out, but its heart is in the right place.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brave and the Bold #32

Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by Jesus Saiz
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

The Brave and the Bold has been a title that seems to have struggled for an identity for quite a while. Originally serving as a title for Mark Waid and George Perez’s collaborations, the departures of first Perez and then Waid looked like they may have sunk the comic. When J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz finally were handed the reins after a series of guest creators, I think most readers felt the book was already on life support and wrote it off. Now that I’ve read their latest issue, I feel the need to give them credit where it’s due: if all issues from them are this good, The Brave and the Bold deserves to be a best-seller.

Read the rest of this entry »

Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11½ Anniversary Edition

By Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik
176 pages, color
Published by Del Rey Books

Penny Arcade is one of the harder-to-categorize web comics out there. It’s a comic that at a glance appears to be about video games, but can just as easily zoom off on tangents about other real world situations. It’s not a continuing strip, except when it is. Sometimes it shifts into a series of stories about characters that started as a one-off joke. It’s also becoming an empire run by its two creators, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, which includes charity drives, gaming conventions, and their own video games. It’s with all that in mind, though, that The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11½ Anniversary Edition makes perfect sense, a combination of "best-of" and "behind the scenes" books rolled into one.

Read the rest of this entry »

American Vampire #1

Written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King
Art by Rafael Albuquerque
40 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

Lately, Vertigo’s launched their new series with a gimmick of a $1 cover price for the first issue, to try and pull in new readers. I’m amused that they didn’t feel the need to do that for American Vampire, although I do agree with their assessment. After all, when half of the issue is written by Stephen King, who needs a lower sales point to grab attention? The funny thing is, though, of the three main creators to work on American Vampire #1, I think I’d probably place King as only the third best in this comic. That’s not so much a slam on King, though, but rather how well Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Return of King Doug

Written by Greg Erb and Jason Oremland
Art by Wook-Jin Clark
184 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

When I heard about the basic premise of The Return of King Doug, I had to laugh. As far as concepts go, it’s a good one: young boy discovers a magic kingdom, is told he’s the king and savior, and responds by running screaming in the opposite direction. It’s a knowing nod towards series like The Chronicles of Narnia where instead of jumping full hog into the story as dictated to the child, we instead get a realistic, honest reaction. The only thing hovering in the back of my head as I heard about this, though, was that everyone would surely see exactly how the end of this story would play out. Fortunately, I think it’s also clear that writers Greg Erb and Jason Oremland understood that potential pitfall, too.

Read the rest of this entry »

DMZ #51

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Riccardo Burchielli
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

One of the many things that I appreciate about Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s DMZ is that it never seems to stay complacent, or even in one place for very long. It’s easy to see how it could have been that way; Manhattan turned into the demilitarized zone in the heart of a new American Civil War is full of endless story possibilities, and even last month’s special one-off DMZ #50 reminded readers of that via a series of glimpses of life across the island. But with the events of DMZ #49 still weighing heavily over the series, it’s refreshing to see Wood following through in brutal honesty.

Read the rest of this entry »

Marvelous Land of Oz #1-4

Written by Eric Shanower
Art by Scottie Young
Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel

Growing up, I think I read L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Ozma of Oz about 50 times each. The first and third of Baum’s Oz books, both have formed the basis for a lot of different Oz-related projects over the years. But until now, I’d never actually read the second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz. I knew the basics of what happened in it (thanks to Ozma of Oz, which is incidentally a top-notch book that everyone should read) but I hadn’t gotten around to reading my free copy courtesy Project Gutenberg. Fortunately for me, Marvel was happy enough with Eric Shanower and Scottie Young’s adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that they’re now publishing Shanower and Young’s The Marvelous Land of Oz, and it’s definitely the strangest of the three Oz books that I’ve come across so far. And when I say strange, I mean that I love it.

Read the rest of this entry »

First Wave #1

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Rags Morales
40 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

I’ll admit that even after reading First Wave #1, I’m still not entirely sure why DC is publishing this comic. I’m not saying that because of quality, but rather the general idea behind it all. I normally applaud publishing initiatives that have generated lines like Vertigo, Minx, Helix, and Vertigo Crime, and a pulp-adventure line of comics from DC sounds like a lot of fun. But to do so by mashing up characters like Doc Savage, the Spirit, and Batman is such a strange hook for a book that I’m so far not convinced that this is a hook that will work beyond its initial curiosity factor.

Read the rest of this entry »

One Piece: East Blue 1-2-3

By Eiichiro Oda
600 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

I remember reading One Piece when it was first published by Viz back at the launch of SHONEN JUMP and enjoying it. But in what was a modern golden age of manga translations, there were so many books being published at the same time that I quickly fell behind, and before long it dropped to the wayside. Now that Viz is putting a lot of publishing muscle behind the book (unleashing a wave of One Piece books to catch the series up to where it is in Japan, like they did before with Naruto, and releasing a series of 3-in-1 omnibuses), it seemed like a perfect chance to catch up with the series and see just what I’ve been missing.

Read the rest of this entry »