Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Gosh! Authority 10/07/08

Hello, virtual humanity! Today I’m going to sell out my immortal soul to the mainstream by selecting a DC comic as the pick of the week, but for a very good reason!

Joker’s Asylum: The Penguin, on the surface, doesn’t seem like a particularly special comic. It’s a one-shot in the middle of a run of issues celebrating the villains of Gotham, which is likely to provoke a yawn and a ‘seen it before’ from most readers, but stay your signs of boredom! This newborn comic, blinking in the harsh light of day, coming into the world without presumption, is written by comics wunderkind Jason Aaron and drawn by action cartoonist of great talent Jason Pearson. Two Jasons for just two quid! That’s a treat that can’t be beat. Aaron’s absolutely everywhere these days (no bad thing, mind you), but Pearson lately appears to be focusing on covers, so new internal art from him is something to appreciate.

Coming up a close second (and only not pick of the week because I gave it to Hellboy last week) is BPRD: The Warning. This is not, as I thought, another in the recent series of one-shot stories, but the start of the brand new series. So set aside some time this evening, get some tea brewing, open a packet of digestives and prepare for a leisurely evening of monsters, Lobster-themed pulp adventurers, gaseous bubble-head mans and spine-chilling terror in one of the greatest comics in the world. Also included is a cover by the dream team of Mike Mignola and Kevin Nowlan!

DC’s second powerful release of the week is Action Comics #867. I really enjoyed the Legion of Super Heroes story which got the current creative team so much acclaim, but last month’s issue, the first in their new Brainiac story, quite simply stunned me. I never thought an in-continuity Superman comic could ever match All-Star for writing or art, but Geoff Johns and Gary Frank are well on their way to proving otherwise. More than anything, there was a real true blue sensibility to it, making the best use possible of the character and his supporting cast. What’s more, last month’s issue bore a “Sightings” banner, which supposedly denotes a comic that’s indicative of the future direction of the DC universe. I, for one, really hope that’s the case.

Also from DC is the latest issue of probably the best Batman title currently running: Detective Comics #846. Up to the end of the Ra’s Al Ghul crossover a little while back, Paul Dini’s tenure on the series was somewhat spotty, not quite living up to the legacy of Bat-mastery that he built on the Animated Series. However, since the arrival of Dustin Nguyen as regular series artist, something just seems to have clicked, and the past five issues have been firing on all cylinders. This issue begins the title’s RIP tie-in story, featuring the return of Hush. Not instantly compelling, perhaps, but as I say, there’s something about this team that really works, and this issue also sees the re-introduction of Dini favourite Catwoman to the Gotham cityscape, so I’m expecting good things.

Marvel’s biggest hitter of the week is nonetheless a potent one: Secret Invasion #4, containing all the tantalising, action-packed thrills you’ve been waiting for. Is Iron Man really a Skrull? What of the war at home with the Runaways and Young Avengers? And was Nick Fury carrying literally the biggest gun in the entire world at the end of last issue? The answers can only be found rendered in exquisite detail by Leinil Francis Yu in the latest issue of Secret Invasion.

There’s also Captain America White #0, which is half preview, half first chapter, of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s newest Marvel Knights series. It’s proper comics, as well as a nice backup section with an article about the pair’s previous collaborations, an interview with them both, and an easy-on-the-eyes sketchbook section. It’s neither reprints nor just text, so if you’re waiting for the proper start of this series – it’s here!

Phew! That’s a lot of spandex. Let’s take a breather from the mainstream and take a look at something a bit different in Matt Madden and Jessica Abel’s collaborative instructional manual: Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. This book’s a real treat for the eyes as well as an informative guide to comic production, from layouts and pencils to finishes and colour, all laid out in an idiot-proof format. It’s also only £14.99, which came as a surprise! One for anybody who’s ever thought they could beat Stan and Jack at their own game.

Another oddity in the books department is the Collection of Sha TP, leaping catlike from the pages of Heavy Metal. A psychedelic tale of revenge from beyond the grave, this thrilling tale comes from superstar 2000 AD alumnus Pat Mills and French painter Olivier Ledroit. And if that’s not enough, there’s also Blake Bell’s colossal coffee-table art book, Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, celebrating the life and art of the Amazing Spider-Man co-creator from Amazing Fantasy through Blue Beetle all the way to Mister A.

There’s just also time to plug two more new indie comics releasing this week, of very different sorts. The first is The Goon #26, the latest issue of Eric Powell’s cumulatively knuckle-whitening pulp parody action series, which, this issue, spotlights the covert investigations of Buzzard, the greatest character in anything ever. The second is the Captain Stoneheart and the Truth Fairy Hardcover, re-collecting the fairy tale as told by a hippo-man in an issue of Elephantmen, expanded upon with the original full script, full pencil artwork for the story, and even an audio CD reading of the story. If that’s not deluxe, I don’t know what is. It’s a charming little tale, and a welcome development of the Elephantmen saga, with gorgeous illustration and comics work within by Chris Bachalo.

With San Diego only a couple of weeks away, publishers are holding back the news this week, but instead go check out Comic Book Resources’ gallery of alternate Hulk covers from the Hero Initiative auctions here. Hulk like. Hulk no smash.

Missed our chance last week, curses, so let’s just say that to celebrate LAST week’s release of Usagi Yojimbo Vol 22: Tomoe’s Story, we’re giving away a copy of The Art of Usagi Yojimbo THIS week. Ahem. To stand even the merest chance of winning, you’ll have to follow these instructions:

Compose a haiku about Usagi Yojimbo. We’re talking traditional haiku here, so we want a 5-7-5 syllable mitre. All entries must be in by 5pm on Friday 11th July.

The best haiku posted on our blog, as judged by our panel of comic/haiku experts, wins a copy of the book. If you can’t sign in to a personal account, you can comment anonymously – but don’t forget to leave your name along with your haiku in the comment itself! Please note that the judge’s decision is final and that it is the responsibility of prize winners to arrange collection of the prize within a period of 14 days, after which any non-collected prizes will be offered to the runner-up.

Good luck, and good reading!
- Tom


Anonymous said...

The Rabbit Ronin
Dignified, his sword in hand
Never Disppoints

David Carnegie said...

O Deadly Rabbit
Your Purpose Is Strange To Me
But I Like To Win

Matt said...

Mighty warrior!
Is Usagi Yojimbo,
a mere white rabbit?

benlefoe said...

Oh well, I wrote four, so take your pick...

Wandering rabbit
Could sakai foresee his work
would make a legend

floppy ears disguise
this bunny is not a pet
best not to cuddle

tales of a ronin
the path of a warrior
(without baby cart)

has no obvious advice
for rabbit haiku

Gosh! said...

The pen is mighty
In the prolific hands of
Winner Ben le Foe

- Sensei Goshomon.