No, not any of the comics they put out. I'm talking about the promised CrossGen column that was supposed to be thrown in this slot today. The Real World (not the MTV show) kicked me in the arse this week and I just haven't had the time the column requires. I'll get to it this weekend, though, so you can read it next week. In the meantime, here's some reviews and one-liners I've had saved up for such a rainy day.
NIGHTWING: THE TARGET
… may be the best possible entry-level NIGHTWING book if you're trying to hook a new reader. It's a self-contained 48-page story that will set up a lot of the main threads in the NIGHTWING monthly book for you as it stands right now. It also has an involving story all its own that wraps up between these two covers, with potential future ramifications in the monthly book. If the person you were hypothetically to give this to did like it, there are four other trade paperbacks featuring this creative team telling stories about this character.
Chuck Dixon reunites with Scott McDaniel to tell the story of what happens when Dick Grayson is framed for a crime his fellow Bludhaven police officers committed. The case looks cut and dried, and complications of secret identity kick in. Batman pays a visit to remind Dick Grayson of this.
Aaron Sowd, who has a much lighter touch than McDaniel's previous inker Karl Story, works the inks for this book. Can't say I prefer one to the other, but this style is easy to follow and I enjoyed it. I think Sowd lets a little more of McDaniel's pencils show through, whereas Story liked to bathe the artwork in his inks, by relying on chunkier lines. In fact, this is the first time that I can say I see a little bit of John Romita Jr.'s work in McDaniel's art.
The story flows right along from beginning to end, without a real break to catch your breath. It's a classic Dixon story in that regards. A lot of names get thrown around throughout the issue, so you might want to pay special attention to the detective work throughout the issue. The story is kept deceptively simple enough, though, that you shouldn't have a problem tracking it.
Dave Stewart does a great job in coloring the book. It's presented on shinier paper than the normal series, but Stewart doesn't overdo it with his colors. The palette is kept as dirty as you'd hope for in Bludhaven, but it's not overpowered in an attempt to sculpt the artwork.
Dixon said at WizardWorld this year that there are plans for another story with THE TARGET and Scott McDaniel on art. Look for that when their schedules align. They're hoping for some point next year, though.
THE SOAP LADY
Renee French's latest book is THE SOAP LADY, a 114 black and white pages hardcover book from Top Shelf. It's a children's book, of all things. For those familiar with her previous work, e.g. MARBLES IN MY UNDERPANTS, this might seem like quite a departure. While it retains French's own style, it's still a perfectly acceptable book for the kiddies and a nice artsy book for the adults. The story is told in one-page illustrations with type faced narrative underneath, like your average children's storybook format.
The story runs just over 100 pages and is your basic tale of prejudice and misunderstanding. Kids don't judge others according to the same societal norms that the adults so rigidly adhere to. The adults go nuts and drive the creature away, much to the child's sadness. In this case, the creature in question is a lady made entirely of soap who one day pops out of the water and befriends Rollo, an otherwise dirty little boy. The two strike up an immediate friendship and Rollo learns that it can be fun to be clean.
Heaven help me, the first thing I worried about when I started reading the book was that the Soap Lady would die from using too much of herself and becoming soapless. But this is a children's tale and real world physics sometimes has no place here. You just have to picture her body as being endlessly soapy to get it. Trust me; it's OK. It's kind of fun to think of the ramifications of this, and French explores it in different fun ways.
THE RE-RETURN OF ONE-LINERS
What started out as a semi-regular installment of this column attempting to express as many ideas as possible in one sentence apiece has since morphed. Consider this an attack on the miscellany of the comics scene. Some will be one-line long. Others will be three or four.
The world would be a much prettier and easier place to live if it weren't for $%&*ing Whizbang lettering. Viz Comics would be a much stronger company if it didn't insist on "uglying up" otherwise beautiful books like SANCTUARY and MAISON IKKOKU with the stuff.
I watched the AKIRA DVD last weekend. The movie looks great, but I couldn't get into the story at all. I'm enjoying the manga much more.
Give Marvel's Dot.Comics a shot sometime. I've talked about many of the books that show up there. It's a great way to sample series before buying them.
Looks like J.G. Jones is falling into the trap of being a cover artist. Hope you all enjoyed his sequential storytelling while it lasted.
Favorite spam mail opening line of the month: "Do you want to learn how to adjust horses and dogs?"
JETCAT CLUBHOUSE is not a bad book. I just can't get into it.
Completely off-topic: There's an outfielder that plays for the Expos named Milton Bradley. That kills me. I'm sure both of Montreal's fans are sick of the jokes by now, but that's the joy of interleague play: They're new to a brand new audience again.
The previous "one-liner" has been sitting on my hard drive for entirely long.
If you like watching SAMURAI JACK on the Cartoon Network, be sure to read LONE WOLF AND CUB. You might see some similarities in storytelling style there. Besides that, LW&C is one of the most exciting books being published today.
ICV2.com has an article showing that Marvel's status as best-selling comics company is diminished to number two when DC factors in its re-orders and reclaims the top spot. Is the lesson here that re-ordering is good, or that retailers don't know what they're doing and are under ordering DC books consistently by 4%?
I have more fun with comics than I probably should.
AN IMPROMPTU CONTEST
If you've read it this far, I want to thank you and reward you.
Is there a kid in your house who you'd like to get started on comics? Do you have a little cousin who you want to throw a four-color adventure in front of? Someone's kid at work or something?
Drop me an e-mail at the Augie@comicbookresources.com e-mail address with your name and address. I'll pick one at random and send the books off on Saturday morning, the first of September. Yup, it's a quicky contest. I'll delete everyone else's e-mail right after. I'm not trying to compile a mailing list here.
The winner will be notified by e-mail on Saturday morning.
I'll be at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland this September for a day.
Not sure if I'll be bothering with the National Con in New York City, though…