Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: Overture - familiar and fresh

The Sandman returns 20 years after I was first introduced to this fantasy-horror series with Neil Gaiman at the helm again in a new mini-series titled OVERTURE, to help mark the 25th anniversary of the book.

If you’ve been around comics for a while, you recognize the critically-acclaimed, award-winning and commercially successful series and its creators (Gaiman, Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg) as iconic for the era of storytelling they helped to usher in with this book.

But even if you’ve never read a single issue or were only a casual reader of it back in the ‘90s, I recommend this new mini-series if your taste in comics dips into the realm of speculative fiction or dark fantasy.

A lot has already been written about this highly anticipated book and a lot more will be added once people have a chance to read this gorgeous first issue, which arrives in stores today. So I will only say this story tells the tale leading into very the first issue of the original series which debuted in 1989, an early wave of the invasion of British creators crashing upon the shores helping to launch the Vertigo brand with its suite of mind-bending books to warp impressionable minds.

I followed this book for nearly two years as it was drawing to a close. Season of Mists was my initial foray into this world. It’s been so long since I’ve read anything to do with these characters, and because I'm not a disciple of the cult of The Sandman or Gaiman, it almost feels like I'm approaching this as a first-timer. For instance, I don’t know if the interesting reveal at the end of this issue is new or known to long-time fans.

Gaiman’s writing is lyrical, especially in the opening pages, and is accompanied with interior art by the masterful J.H. WiIliams III. The story is well-crafted on many levels, approachable to everyone from newcomers to long-time readers. It does not appear to pre-suppose you know anything about the cast or the story from its 75-issue run in order to enjoy, so you can come to the book cold. However, if you have even only a passing knowledge of the characters, it will feel warm and familiar.

At $5, it’s priced on the high end. But when you consider how many $3 of $4 books you probably rip through in a couple of minutes, this “extra-sized” first issue is worth your entertainment dollar. Regular price will be $4.00 for issue 2 and on.

Is Damian alive or am I Dreaming?

Sandman Overture #1

Whether or not you're a fan of the original books, Sandman Overture #1 is enjoyable if you like very unique storytelling. Just like the original books, the pages in this first issue of Overture seem surreal and intricate in presentation, both in storytelling and artwork.

The first issue of Sandman Overture opens with a brief history of far away planet. On this planet exist carnivorous, mildly sentient plants. While dreaming, one of these plants encounters a tall, twisted, familiar black and white plant. This black and white plant expresses an uneasiness in the dreams of this planet, right before erupting into flames. Certainly an interesting look at what is to come.

Some familiar faces show up including Destiny, Death, Merv and Lucien, and the Corinthian, though first time readers don't necessarily need to understand who these characters are to be able to follow the story. Gaiman does a good job at not overcomplicating who these characters are and what their relationships might be.

It should be interesting to finally uncover just where Dream was before his capture, as well as why he was weak enough to be captured in the first place. Ideally, this six issue bi-monthly story ends where the original Sandman books started. Complimenting Gaiman's writing is the art by JH Williams III and Dave Stewart, which is pretty astounding. This is one of the nicest looking titles, and probably one of the more visually diverse, that's been on shelves this month. Maybe even all year. The four page spread at the end is incredible as well.

All in all, it looks like fans old and new have something great to look forward to with his new installment of Sandman.

Damian Son Of Batman #1

Finally, a look at an older Damian Wayne filling his father's boots. Damian Son of Batman takes place in the future (and likely not in continuity) where Batman has been taken out of the picture presumably by the Joker. With his father's death weighing on his shoulders, Damian must take of the mantle of Batman and clean up Gotham his own way.

Of course, Batman and Damian always had rather contrasting brands of justice to deal, which raises questions of morality and legacy. Will Damian do things his own way? Or will he finally adopt his fathers' more lenient practices? Only one issue in, and Son of Batman looks like it's going to be a fun character piece on Damian.

Andy Kubert is on story and art for this book. A master of the craft, Kubert does a great job with both tasks. Son of Batman is as much fun to read as it is to look at. The pace of this book is quite quick as well. Kubert also sneaks in a quick look at Damian's origin story as well, allowing new readers unfamiliar with the character to understand why Batman has a son, and just where he came from.

We get to see a few familiar faces in Gotham's rogues gallery, as well as Damian's parents and the League of Assassins. Ra's Al Ghul gives Damian some advice warrior to warrior, making for a fun little moment, of which this book is full of. Damian Son of Batman is definitely recommended for fans of the Bat-Books, and for those who want a fun new Damian story to enjoy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Its a BIG week at DC this time around.
5th Wednesday of a month means Annuals, and we get a good batch this time. A few like Action, Swamp Thing and Titans lead off or tie directly into the regular storyline in the ongoing comic. The Green Lantern one actually wraps up the current Lights Out battle against Relic.
A few other companies are getting into the 5th week Annuals set up as well, as we get an Adventure Time Halloween Special labeled as an annual, and My Little Pony Annual, that features the human versions of the ponies as seen in the recent movie.
Forever Evil spin-offs continue as Steve Trevors team, Argus, gets 6 issues to battle the villains without the aid of their top heroes.
Damian may be dead...but he lives on in Damian Son of Batman. A 4 issue series where hes all grown up and ready to take his fathers place. Not sure if its being called an Elseworlds or not.. could be this story may still fit continuity at some point.
Superior Spider-Man Team-up Special, ties up the 3 part story from All New X-Men and Hulk. The Ultimate Universe faces the Galactus runs amok. It all starts in Cataclysm #0.1. I'm not even sure how much of this stuff will be totally overlooked when you consider
Sandman Overture #1 will be on the shelves with them. The FIRST NEW Sandman story in over a decade, looks to be the biggest seller of the year. My advance pre-orders are already dwarfing anything I've seen in years. And with good reason, advance looks have been popping up on the internets and it looks amazing. Don't wait for the trade on this one, buy it as it comes out every 2 months.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


2 new books from Image this week, both featuring female leads


Pretty Deadly  is Kelly Sue Deconnick's new Image title, and a good start to a promising series.

Legends passed down tell of Death's daughter - the result of Death's love with a beautiful human woman. Songs and poems are told to entertain, but it turns out that they're not just stories. Death has a daughter named Ginny, and she's just as deadly as her old man.

Pretty Deadly follows a band of horse riding misfits as they travel town-to-town and saloon-to-saloon, telling the story of Death's daughter and collecting tips from their performance. After working a performance, one of the group members is handed a mysterious feather by a peculiar man, which turns out to be trouble for the gang later on. This feather is important, and it appears Death's daughter needs it for herself. The band ends up on the run from Death's daughter, and must do whatever they can to keep their distance.

Pretty Deadly #1 is a little ambiguous, which is great if you like long payoffs and intriguing mysteries one after the other. Not a lot of information on the main characters is provided in issue one, but the characters themselves clearly have stories of their own, as well as rich histories for the reader to unravel. Fox is an old bearded blind man who can shoot his targets with deadly ease and accuracy. Sissy is a sharp, smooth-talking youngster who's eyes are different colours. There's a lot to explore.

The story is set in the Wild West, with what seems to be a touch of magic or spirituality involved. Certainly the setting makes for some interesting storytelling, but the mythology that Deconnick has wrapped this world in seems rich in itself. How the story is unfolding is still a little unclear at this point, but for a first issue, there's certainly enough information to enjoy the book, and more than enough to look forward to the next installment.

Pretty Deadly is recommended for the older crowd as well, due to some adult themes that pop up. All in all, a great addition to the Image line.


Velvet is the newest addition to Brubaker's crime fiction books. Whether you're a fan of his existing material or not, you'll enjoy Velvet if you like crime fiction books.

Arc-7 is a secret government organization that trains an elite group of special ops spies known as X-Ops. When agent code name X-14  is found murdered on the street, questions are raised and accusations are thrown around, resulting in distrust between agents. One of the X-Op agents named Velvet is affected on a more personal level, due to her past relationship with X-14. This leads to an investigation of her own. That's when things go from bad to worse.

Brubaker is the leading creator of crime fiction comics, and Velvet is no exception of his skill with the genre. The characters and locations are mysterious and secretive. The book is paced quickly with more than a few pages of action, though there is a lot of breathing room to present questions and answers to fuel this murder mystery. Another strong female lead is always a welcome addition, and it looks as though Brubaker is on his way to achieving that with this first issue.

The art by Steve Epting is solid as usual, and compliments the writing perfectly. Lots of heavy shadow and graphic blacks enhance the story, something most pulp crime mysteries strongly benefit from. It's clear just how well Brubaker and Epting understand this genre, and Velvet is a great example of just how well this creative team works.

Velvet #1 is highly recommended if you are a fan of the genre, or if you'd like to try it out.

Friday, October 18, 2013


2 more chapters in the Forever Evil ship as we find out whats become of the Justice League and Justice League Dark. Sounds like Constantine and friends will have their hands full with the Blight.
Marvel Now What? is a humour anthology like the old What The comics from years ago. Should be  a fun read.
Image starts off a couple more female lead titles as Pretty Deadly and Velvet launch. The first is Kelly Sue Deconnicks ( Capt. Marvel)supernatural western, the 2nd is a spy thriller from Ed Brubaker.
Beware the Batman is based on the current cartoon series.
Hellboy Midnight Circus is a NEW  original story by Mignola about Little Hellboy running away to join the circus.
Vertigo Essentials Sandman is a $1.00 reprint of the classic first issue, timed to lead into the new series Sandman Overture arriving next week.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

JLA review

Justice League of America #8 marks the first issue of Matt Kindt's run, and gives us a look at where the Justice League are after the events of Forever Evil.

This issue is a must for anyone currently enjoying Forever Evil. It not only ties into the event, but it seems to be an important part of the story. The issue follows Martian Manhunter as he awakes alongside Stargirl in what seems to be a super-prison. Manhunter visits the "cells" that contain some of the Justice League members and realizes that this is not so much a physical prison as it is a psychological one. It looks pretty bleak for the heroes.

We see Wonder Woman in a perpetual state of war, Superman trying to reverse time, and Shazam immersed in a regenerating city with no one to tell him what he can't smash. Some of the "prisons" are personal heavens and some are hells, but either way, the Justice League is trapped and Manhunter might be the only one who really knows it. All the other heroes seem oblivious and helpless.

Matt Kindt did a great job with his Villains Month titles, and he's off to a fine start with this first issue. Fans of his writing should enjoy this one, and it's also a great place to jump into the JLA for those who haven't yet. The JLA and the Justice League will be working together closely during this event, making Justice League of America #8 a great jumping on point in the series.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Its that time of year again when the ghosts and goblins or more likely Sheriff Rick and Carl (and maybe Michonne) will be banging on your door, looking for treats.( Scariest of all will be the Miley Cyrus wannabees)

Well you know what I always say,

"Rot their brains, not their teeth"

This year, give the little ghouls a real treat and stick a comic book in their pumpkin. A comic book will last them a lot longer than candy or chips, and is a lot less messy to save or share. And unlike peanuts or milk chocolate, very few kids are actually allergic to printed words and colourful pictures.
 We have 2 different kinds of  pack this year.   10 regular sized comics for only $2.00.
OR 20 mini-size books for $3.00
 Either way its cheaper than almost any sugary treat you could buy.

Shop early to get the best selection, I know from past experience, these packs sell fast. And don't underestimate how many you'll need. There's 2 more benefits to the comics, they won't go bad if you get stuck with a few leftovers, and you won't be tempted to eat them yourself.

While you're here, pick up a treat for yourself. There are plenty of horror related titles available in store, Marvel Zombies, for one, would make a great read to pass the time between visitors. Or catch up on your Walking Dead. The comic is different enough to the T.V. series that you won't have to worry about spoiling the show for yourself.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


A little quieter this week, but a few first issue to mention.
Forever Evil Rogues Rebellion leads off from the Villain month issue that explains most of Flash's foes are bad guys...but not actually evil.
Justice League of America #8 starts off the new era of JLA, with the big heroes gone, Martian Manhunter has to rebuild the team with the help of Stargirl.
Indestructible Hulk Special #1 continues the Arms of the Octopus trilogy started in the All New X-Men Special from a few weeks ago. LET ME KNOW ON THIS ONE.. it will not be ordered in X-Men quantities and may sell out fast.
DC Essentials Wonder Woman, is the 2nd of a series of $1.00 reprint comics with the paperback collection guide added.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Week in Review

Superman / Wonder Woman #1
Just when you think Charles Soule can't possibly handle another ongoing title, Superman / Wonder Woman hits the shelves. Just like all of Soule's other titles, this one is fun from start to finish. It's a great new addition for either Superman fans or Wonder Woman fans.
Superman / Wonder Woman focuses on the relationship between the two characters, but manages to stay action packed almost the entire time. Some readers were worried that this title would be more of a romance comic than anything else, but that's not the case with issue #1. Soule manages to throw in some action sequences even when the two are spending their downtime with each other.
Superman / Wonder Woman #1 features a favorite Superman villain as the main antagonist. It'll be fun to watch, over the next few arcs, how the two team up to take on their toughest villains without the help of the Justice League. More interesting still will be how their personal relationship grows or decays as a result of their teamwork.

The art (Tony Daniel with Matt Banning) is another great addition to this book. Even the more quiet scenes are fun to look at. The three page spread that comprises the cover is beautiful as well. And at no extra charge, it's a great value too. Now we just need a new Green Lantern / Green Arrow book and DC will have three excellent team-up titles to choose from, along with the current Superman / Batman.

Coffin Hill #1
From from the new line of Vertigo ongoings, Coffin Hill is great for fans of horror, mystery, and cop stories.
Eve Coffin is the daughter of a wealthy high class English family, though you'd never know it. She's
a brash, outspoken police officer and more interestingly, she's possibly a witch. The first issue of Coffin Hill takes place, for the most part, in the past. We see Eve's upbringing and get some insight into who she is. The Coffin family has deep roots which serve as somewhat of a legend to the locals. Clearly, some dark secrets have been buried in their front yard.

The writing is quite mysterious, in that many questions are presented and none answered. It looks promising for fans of long payoffs. The writing is clearly for a mature audience, and the artwork suits it well. It's a gritty looking book with a macabre feeling to it, complementing the writing very well.

The title says it's an "extra-sized issue" though it clocks in at 24 pages. of course, it's only a $2.99, and the story is well written, making Coffin Hill a great new choice for mystery horror fans.

Rocket Girl #1
After the Halloween Eve one-shot from a while back, Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare successfully funded Rocket Girl on Kickstarter. This first issue is an awesome sci-fi time travel story set in both 1985 and a dystopian 2013.
Dayoung is a 15 year old cop in the year 2013, and she's fed up with the way the world works. She decides to travel to 1985 and apprehend the scientists responsible for her frightening corrupt world, only to end up befriending them. It's a nice twist on the time travel revenge tropes that have been recycled many times over. Better still, the book is very well written.
Rocket Girl #1 features a small crew of characters and a ton of action. Montclare paces the issue very well, establishing character motives, skills, personalities and more, all while delivering some great action sequences. The art from Reeder make the book as much fun to look at as it is to read. You can tell that the two creators work incredibly well with each other.

The characters are well written, the plot is strong, and the art is absolutely awesome. Image made a smart move working with Reeder and Montclare in releasing this new title. Rocker Girl is an excellent choice for sci-fi fans looking for something new, fun, and interesting. Even non-sci-fi fans will enjoy Rocket Girl for the great writing and artwork.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Halloween is on the way, judging by some of this weeks biggest books.
Walking Dead enters its bi-weekly run as the groups all head to war. You can tell its an important story because it comes with about a dozen different covers, which apparently fit together as a large poster.
Archie gets in on the zombie action as Afterlife With Archie begins. A new regular series where Arch and his gang all get undead. Showing a little restraint it only has 4 different covers on this one.
Proving they can still do a good horror comic, Vertigo has another new entry this week with Coffin Hill, the story of a girl growing up under a curse dating back to the Salem witch trials.
 The Forever Evil spin-offs begin as Arkham War #1 ships. This one ties together elements from the various Villain month issues, as the Arkham inmates battle the Blackgate inmates for control of Gotham ( with Bane waiting on the sidelines to take out the winners).
DC starts another obvious team-up book, Superman/Wonder Woman. Written by Charles Soule ( Swamp Thing)and art by Tony Daniels(Batman),this one looks like an easy sell.
Keiron Gillen has some experience writing about 3 warriors from his stint on Journey into Mystery and Thor. But his newest work is titled simply Three. Its the story of 3 slaves attempting to escape from 300 of the finest Sparta has to offer.
Just to be different, Image sends us the first issue of Rocket Girl, a sci-fi series involving time travelling cops, by Amy Reeder.


Look kids...comics. ( Not actually for kids)

Hinterkind #1

Hinterkind is the new ongoing Vertigo series from Ian Edginton and Francesco Trifogli. It's technically a post-apocalyptic story, but not one of endless wastelands or crazed infected zombies.

The end of the world in Hinterkind wiped out most of the population of earth, while simultaneously covering it in trees, plants, shrubs and other greenery. Skyscrapers are jungles and highways are gardens. The story focuses on a group of remaining humans as they live day-to-day, evading encounters with the feral wildlife that now populate earth.

Humans are not only an endangered species, but are also closer to the bottom of the food chain. There also seems to be more than just wild animals inhabiting the planet though, as trolls, ogres, giants, dwarfs, and other fairytale creatures are a part of this world. It's kind of reminiscent of Fables in a couple ways, so fans of that book might enjoy Hinterkind.

It's a good first issue, and it clocks in at 28 pages of story and art. Because the book is set in a lush green paradise (which is kind of nice for a post-apocalyptic book) the artwork is vibrant and strong. The writing is equally well done, and this first issue sets up the rest of the series pretty well. Hinterkind is a good value for the $2.99 price tag.
The Witching Hour #1
Perfect for October reading, The Witching Hour is an oversized issue containing nine short horror stories from various writers and artists. There's a lot of variety in this book, as it's not just stories about ghosts, goblins and witches.
The Witching Hour is definitely for mature readers, and not because it's too scary for the youngsters.
There are more than a few heavy mature subjects in some of these stories. Sexual orientation and sexual abuse are a couple of the themes in this compilation, and they can be laid on fairly heavily. Sometimes the scariest stories are rooted in reality, so a couple of the shorts in The Witching Hour aren't about monsters, but rather people. Relationships, abuse, and war are all present.
Sure enough, there's also the classic spirits/witches/demon stories, and the psychological thriller stories with twist endings. There's even an alternate reality story about Arthur Miller's famous play, The Crucible. It's a pretty contrasting glance at the parallels between the Salem witchcraft trials and Communism.
Kelly Sue Deconnick delivers a creepy monster story about a woman obsessed with spiders, and there's an interplanetary horror story focusing on astronauts stranded on Mars. It's a great compilation for fans of horror and Halloween, and definitely for mature readers

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