Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007=fin.

Below you'll find my final review of 2007. I've done so many this year (again) that I couldn't even begin to count them all. Adding the new columnists to the main site really helped me ease back on the throttle a bit, so I'm very grateful for that. And for them.

What will 2008 bring? Something damned cool, I'll tell you that much right now. I'm not ready to totally spill the beans yet, but The Comics Waiting Room as you've known it up until now is stepping aside. Version 3.0 is coming.

Comics Waiting Room 3.0

I'm seriously fuggin' excited about it. It's going to be different, and yet more of the same cool stuff you've grown to expect from me and the merry band of columnists writing for the site. Plus, you'll also get some new writers to enjoy, as well.

So... MONDAY, JANUARY 14TH, 2008. That's the big day. Keep an eye out.

We'll be waiting for you. Happy New Year!

Marc Mason
Owner/Editor-in-Chief
NORTHLANDERS #1-2
Written by Brian Wood
Drawn by Davide Gianfelice
Published by DC/Vertigo


A marauding Varangian named Sven returns to his homeland, only to discover that his father is dead and his evil uncle has assumed control of the lands and gold that rightfully belong to him in NORTHLANDERS, a very accessible (if a little too colloquial) new book about Vikings from the fertile mind of Brian Wood. We’ve seen futuristic sci-fi (CHANNEL ZERO), action-adventure (COURIERS), human drama (LOCAL), superheroes (DEMO), and political allegory (DMZ) from Wood, but those are all quite a distance from a concept like this one, so it does play as a bit of a surprise. But even when Wood has faltered in his storytelling approach, his work has remained compulsively readable. This book is no different.

That isn’t to say that NORTHLANDERS is massively flawed in any way- it isn’t. But giving Sven a sort of Wolverine-esque narration is… well, odd. It serves to make what’s happening on the page at those moments feel anachronistic. It works to keep the reader glued to Sven as a character, which is smart; he’s hardly someone to root for or develop a keen interest in watching succeed. As a man of this period of time, he’s a colossal asshole with an ego of matching size. But everyone else is worse, leading you to hope for more delightful death, dismemberment, and bloodshed to come.

To my eyes, the real treat in these two issues is the work of Gianfelice. What a find! His art resembles a somewhat rougher John Romita, Jr, his characters wonderfully well-defined and captivating to look at. I’m working from black and white preview copies, and they’re so sweet to the eye that I don’t think I’d want to see them spoiled by the eventual colors.

I don’t know that I’d keep up on the monthly issues, as the pacing here is a bit broad and slow, but I could certainly see myself reading the entire tale (these pieces are only the first two of a total eight) once it gets a cover and a spine.

/Mason

Saturday, December 29, 2007

YEARBOOK STORIES 1976-1978
Written by Chris Staros
Drawn by Bo Hampton and Rich Tommaso
Published by Top Shelf


YEARBOOK brings together two short stories focused on Top Shelf honcho Staros’ younger years, each previously published as part of the late, lamented SMALL PRESS EXPO anthologies. The first, “The Willful Death of a Stereotype,” turns its eye towards a young geek’s attempt at achieving popularity and power through a school election. Story two, “The Worst Gig I Ever Had,” skips ahead to his high school years and the first rock band he played in. Each has its merits, though there’s no question that “Stereotype” is the shining gem of the duo.

Autobiographical comics have become such a mixed bag over the years that you tend to have your defenses built so high against them that they have little chance of succeeding. So many are about tweedy jerkoffs who want to tell you every minute detail about their lives and forget to tell you an actual story. But Staros knows exactly how to make them work. “Stereotype” has a full story to tell, and it’s one with an emotional and intellectual progression. “Gig” is a bit more of an extended humorous anecdote, but it also delivers on the punchline. I wish more cartoonists understood how important that is.

Artistically, Staros couldn’t have done better by himself. Bo Hampton is in a class by himself, and “Stereotype” looks incredible. Tommaso also turns in some terrific work, though it lacks some of the fluid spontaneity of Hampton’s work.

For four dollars American, this is a pretty sweet little treat. Pick it up and give it to someone like me who had lost his taste for autobio comix and remind them that the genre can still be done with skill and intelligence.

/Mason

Friday, December 28, 2007

POPGUN VOL.1
Edited by Mark Andrew Smith and Joe Keatinge
Published by Image Comics


Anthologies are a tricky thing. When you try and limit them to one central theme, they can feel forced and lack spontaneity. If you allow them to be broad and open, you run the risk of the entire affair feeling scattered and without purpose. Plus, there’s always the requisite gem-to-crap ratio to deal with, no matter what kind of anthology you have. Putting one together isn’t for the faint of heart.

But AMAZING JOY BUZZARDS maestro Mark Andre Smith and Image marketing guru Joe Keatinge have certainly given it their best shot with POPGUN. Ostensibly based on the concept of the pop single in music, the results are a bit trying and inconsistent for the first two-thirds of the book, but the final third of this gargantuan book (450 pages) finds a solid groove and delivers a powerful crescendo of sound and fury.

There are some gems early on the line-up. Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones contribute a nifty relationship tale (their specialty) that’s as solid as any of their other work in that genre, and it gives the reader an early good taste in their mouth. Chris Moreno’s “Sanz Pants” follows along shortly after to keeping the beat moving. But it isn’t until Adrian Dominguez and Matthew Weldon’s “Ellie saves the World”, an issue-length adventure, drops in that POPGUN grabs hold of you by the lapels and refuses to let go until the final chord is struck. Their tale of a teen superheroine is so fun and funky that you find yourself wanting more of Ellie’s adventures sooner rather than later.

Image has become one of the best anthology makers in the business, and this is a worthy effort to stand alongside some of the previous efforts like AFTERWORKS and 24/7. There will certainly be more POPGUN; I expect it will be fun to keep an eye on it and see where it goes.

/Mason

Thursday, December 27, 2007

THE ART OF BRYAN TALBOT
Published by NBM


A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed THE ART OF GREG CAPULLO and gave it a resounding pan due to a number of glaringly bad decisions in design. So I was quite pleased to see this book in my mailbox- no North American publisher does better “Art” books than NBM, and I expected this would be excellent. As usual, they didn’t let me down.

This is how you do an “Art” book.

Bryan Talbot is one of the greatest living artists in our field, a man who has been mastering his craft for decades. He’s shown himself to be versatile, tackling superheroes, science fiction, fantasy, rock stars, and human interest. He can pencil, ink, paint… you name it… and he does so in brilliant fashion. And each bit of that is on display in this terrific over-sized book. You also get to see a retrospective of his whole career on display here; some of his earliest work is on these pages, along with some of his most recent. It allows the reader to see just how much talent he had to start with, and just how much he’s learned and progressed with over time.

There is also very little “white space” inside this book. Where there isn’t art (printed at all sizes) there is commentary text from Talbot explaining the origins of various works and how they came together. Sometimes he even expresses chagrin about the results, but he isn’t afraid to put them out there.

The book also comes with a lovely introduction by the great Neil Gaiman, but the real star is the life’s work of a man whose talents know no boundaries. Any serious collector of comic or pop culture art will want this excellent work on their shelves.

/Mason

Sunday, December 23, 2007

THE SLEEPY TRUTH VOL.1
Written by Jason M. Burns
Drawn by Erik Valdez y Alanis
Published by Viper Comics


Sleepy Hollow, NY, is a strange little town. It’s beset by all sorts of oddities: sea monsters, ghostly Native American tribes… and maybe even a space alien who’s taking over the city council. So who can the citizenry turn to in order to keep them in-the-know about these phenomenon? How about the staff of THE SLEEPY TRUTH, the local newspaper dedicated to blowing the lid off it all? Of course, the staff isn’t quite what you’d expect: there’s Suzanne and Thomas Watson, the oddly-birthmarked 15-year old twins who run the show; their friend Grant (age 15), who has prosthetic hands; and Matthias, their portly 14-year old friend who claims to be telekinetic, but can’t prove it.

In volume one of what looks to be a potentially lengthy series, the kids must contend with two threats to their First Amendment rights: the return of the creature the twins believe ate their father, and the afore-mentioned alien and councilman, who are determined (in classic SCOOBY fashion) to put these meddling kids out of their hair for good.

SLEEPY comes across as a gentle, fun little lark, and shows a nice grasp on how to put together entertainment that can appeal to readers young and old. No question, one of the real markets for these books should be school libraries; there’s no profanity, no sexuality, just clean fun all the way around. The kids are interesting, unique characters, their dialogue rings true, and while there’s a “threat” involved, you know that whatever resolution comes will be appropriate. I wish there were more like it.

Viper has made its mark in the field mostly with sharp-edged books like DEAD @17, MIDDLEMAN, and THE EXPENDABLE ONE. But with SLEEPY and EMILY EDISON, they’re showing that the youth market is one they can succeed in.

/Mason

Saturday, December 22, 2007

MASKED MAGICIAN
Written by Mike Maddox
Drawn by Pradeep Ingale
Published by Virgin Comics


Centuries ago, a statue fell to earth that allowed the bearer to control the four elements of the world, and it led the planet to ruin. Only the foresight of a select few allowed humanity and the Earth itself to survive, and they split the statue’s power amongst other objects and hid them around the globe. Then they banded together to create a society dedicated to not only making sure no one ever uses that power again, but that sees to it that magic stays solely in the realm of illusion. Unfortunately, a power-hungry member of that society has decided that he wants the statue’s gift for himself, and anyone in his way must die. Now, a special effects technician and his dead partner’s daughter must band together to stop the world’s climate from a magical armageddon.

This is quite an unusual way of bringing the character that did those TV specials a few years back into the spotlight again. That man’s purpose was to expose how tricks are done, and I personally avoided watching- I didn’t want to know. This book actually offers up a sort of “purpose” in doing such a thing, as it serves to keep illusionists from seeking genuine power. Hmm.

The script follows the classic hero’s journey; a man possessed of gifts he barely understands loses his mentor, discovers a conspiracy centuries old, and must dive into this world, discover his inner strength, and save the world. But this is not a bad thing: there’s a reason that the hero’s journey is one of the strongest and most reliable tropes in fiction: when it’s done well it works. And Maddox’s story and dialogue absolutely do. Tom, the protagonist, is very likeable, and possesses just enough of a skeptical sense about him that he doesn’t easily buy in to what he’s being told in concern to real magic, but he also isn’t so stubborn that he ignores the things happening around him, either.

Unfortunately, the book has one enormous Achilles’ heel, and that’s the art. Ingale’s work is stiff, his characters are un-involving, and his grasp on anatomy and movement is poor. In fact, during the climactic fight, I honestly couldn’t tell you precisely how the villain is defeated, because the art doesn’t make it clear at all. It lacks pizzazz, and when you’re dealing with magic and illusion, that ain’t so great.

At five bucks (and laying beneath a stunning cover by the brilliant Brian Stelfreeze) that makes MASKED MAGICIAN a tough call, purchase-wise. Cheap, but not pretty. Sort of like the person sitting next to you at last call. Whether or not you want to go home alone is entirely up to you.

/Mason

Friday, December 21, 2007

PAINKILLER MERCENARIES: ORIGINS

All books from Dynamite Entertainment

PAINKILLER JANE #4
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti
Drawn by Nigel Raynor


Thus begins one of the stranger crossovers in recent memory: Painkiller Jane versus The Terminator. In the present, our indestructible heroine takes out a helicopter in a gun battle, decides not to start a gunfight with 100 armed men, and chooses instead to drink herself silly with her best friend. In the future, John Connor and his resistance fighters alter one Terminator’s trip through time and send it further down the line and into the restroom at Jane’s favorite watering hole.

Much to my surprise, this actually works pretty well, maybe because of the slow pace. It isn’t until the end of the issue that both plots dovetail. Therefore, both tracks read exactly like their regular books, and since PAINKILLER JANE is always a ludicrously violent and hilarious treat… score. And Palmiotti has a solid grip on writing the TERMINATOR world as well, offering up strong material in the short scenes here that we got out of the complete recent series that DE put out.

Kudos are also in order to Nigel Raynor, who has moved from being one of the shakier artists in the DE stable to one who really seems to be growing and learning at a quickening pace. This looks like the best stuff I’ve seen from him; maybe getting him away from GALACTICA was just what he needed.

Good fun all the way around.

MERCENARIES #1
Written by Brian Reed
Drawn by Edgar Salazar


Typically, one of the quickest ways to turn me off to a comic book or film is to have the sentence “based on a videogame” play a part in it. The second quickest way to make me ignore a comic is to have the words “cover by Michael Turner” in the solicitation copy. So MERCENARIES started out buried in a pretty deep hole. But…

…This is one of those rare times when I turn out to be wrong. Because MERCENARIES is a skillfully executed comic.

Three mercenaries, along with their “home” operative, set themselves up for hire and take on all the tough jobs. Their current assignment pits them against a faction of the Chinese army, always a tough one, and when one member of the group falls into the hands of the bad guys, it begins to get complicated. After all… even though they’re doing the job for money, they don’t have to agree on how to execute their objectives. That’s why they aren’t exactly a true “team.”

Brian Reed has come to prominence as a writer at Marvel, but it’s his recent Image book THE CIRCLE that’s sort of made him worth watching in my book. He has a real good grasp of how to put together an action sequence, and for a book based on a videogame, he manages to string together some characters worth reading about. It helps that Salazar has serious chops as an artist. His work is dynamic and has some grace to it, but he also knows his way around the use of shadow and perspective.

And that Turner cover? It isn’t of a woman with balloon breasts that dwarf her head, allowing Mike to keep his fly zipped and concentrate on things like composition and anatomy. So it’s pretty sharp. Just like the interiors.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: ORIGINS #1
Written by Kevin Fahey
Drawn by Jonathan Lau


The best BATTLESTAR book from DE so far was ZAREK, which told the origin of the infamous terrorist turned political prisoner. The reason it worked so well was because it fit into the framework of the show, but didn’t feel slavish to it. Using that template, this series follows in its footsteps, beginning with a look at the background of everyone’s favorite narcissist villain, Baltar.

We open with scenes of the childhood on Aerilon reference in the show. Baltar is the son of farmers, his quest to better himself and rise above his station, yet held back by the failures of his imagination and the equipment he repairs and tries to make more efficient. We also jump forward, to two years before the Cylon armageddon, and see his first meeting with Caprica Six and the early developments in their relationship. And it works; it works within the framework of what we know about Gaius, but it also is a strong enough story that it would work without the trappings of the show.

A big part of that must be credited to Fahey, who writes for the show itself. His Baltar sounds exactly right, and you can easily imagine James Callas uttering every single word that appears on the page here. He also gets strong support from Lau, who turns in much sharper work here than what he did on the recent PEGASUS one-shot.

The original GALACTICA’s Baltar was a one-note caricature, as John Colicos ate enough scenery to keep him going to Weight Watchers for life. But Ron Moore’s Baltar is a much more complex and fascinating character, vain and self-serving, yet with a spark of inner strength and vulnerability. Week in and week out, he’s been the most riveting piece of the show. Starting off this series by putting him in the spotlight was the best possible move, and the book delivers on that promise.

/Mason

Thursday, December 20, 2007

POTTERS FIELD #2-3
Written by Mark Waid
Drawn by Paul Azaceta
Published by Boom Studios


The final two chapters of Mark Waid’s clever little procedural arrive and do a bit better job of showing the strength and flexibility of the concept. John Doe, who’s life’s mission is to put names to the anonymous dead, is approached by a woman who claims that her twin sister is among those in Potter’s Field, and she has a recent assault by local thugs to prove it. But of course, there’s a lot more to her story than that, and it could likely mean the end of Doe’s entire operation if he isn’t careful.

Doe himself is an intriguing heir to The Shadow, using a network of operatives to ferret out information about frozen cold cases and getting them closer to being written in black. In issue one, we got a slight one-off of a story; good, but nothing that really let the concept of what having a Doe running around a city would mean. But here, Waid allows more of the local New York flavor to kick in, and expands the character universe in order to give some dimension to the obstacles that someone doing this sort of work would face. Thus, it’s a far more gripping read, and there feels as though there’s something at stake for everyone involved. That makes for good comics.

Of course, it helps that Azaceta continues to grow as an artist, and his work is much more suited to this book than it was to TALENT. With a book with noir roots, like this one, you need someone who can deliver darker, edgier work on the page, and this stuff looks terrific.

The one problem I see here is that there needs to be more, especially for the eventual trade paperback. Right now, the added material is pretty slight. So… sequel anyone?

/Mason

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

UNBEATABLE
Written by Matthias Wolf
Drawn by Carlos Gomez
Published by Razor Wolf Entertainment


Heimen Dale Jr.’s existence has gone… astray. He’s awakened to find himself in an insane asylum, with no clue how he got there or why he’s now incarcerated. All he has are his early memories and his dreams. The memories are of he and his father, and how he taught him to quietly learn how to stand up for himself, and of the girl next door, Denise, that he fell in love with and married. Seemingly a pretty standard existence. But his dreams… those are something else entirely. His dreams are filled with one brutal, bloody fight after another, as he’s continually murdered in battle with some of history’s greatest warriors. Now he must begin to piece together exactly what has happened to him, before he completely loses his sanity and the ability to withstand the pain he feels upon waking up from those fights. And what he’s about to learn will be unlike anything he could have imagined. Ever.

Debut graphic novels can be a tricky thing; writers often struggle with story structure, pace, and dialogue, and artists are usually pretty green as far as storytelling capability. But UNBEATABLE manages to defy those problems- Wolf’s script is strong, he juggles multiple pieces of the story with grace, and the characters are genuinely interesting on the page. He also does an excellent job of offering up solid clues as to what’s really happening without slapping a huge neon sign on the page that says “Clue Here.” Going back through the book, he actually makes the book’s final revelation fairly obvious, but it certainly wasn’t upon first read.

Gomez also turns in strong work, shifting back and forth seamlessly between the various milieus Wolf places the character, and showing an adept ability for portraying action. He also does well with characters and faces, which makes it easier to dive fully into the story.

I think the highest complement I can pay UNBEATABLE is this: lacking space, I rarely find myself keeping a lot of debut graphic novels from small publishers. They don’t turn me on enough to merit a spot in the collection, instead getting donated to friends, schools, you name it. But UNBEATABLE is a keeper, earning a permanent place of honor on the bookcase.

/Mason

Monday, December 17, 2007

GOBLIN CHRONICLES #1
Written by Troy Dye and Tom Kelesides
Drawn by Collin Fogel
Published by Ape Entertainment


A young goblin boy named Gorim is a rebel without a cause no longer in GOBLIN CHRONICLES, a new kid-friendly fantasy book that follows a pretty standard path in setting up its uber-plot. Gorim loves to read and create, where goblins are a war-like race, and that doesn’t sit well with his parents. In fact, each race in the GOBLIN world (troll, elf, goblin, shape-shifter) is constantly fighting, thanks to the manipulations of the Dark Queen who rules the land. However, there’s a greater purpose to her keeping the factions fighting; there’s a prophecy (there always is) that says four will band together and bring her down… and you can probably guess that a little goblin boy who prefers to read than fight is destined to be one of them.

There’s nothing inherently offensive about using the standard tropes of a fantasy story, so I’m willing to give the book a pass on that, because they’re executed with competence and charm. However, the book does get bogged down on the artistic side; Fogel’s art is static and lacks dynamic movement, and the color scheme is murky, making it difficult to tell the goblins and trolls apart. The dialogue could use a bit more punch as well, but it’s acceptable as is, as opposed to some of the art issues.

One other thing I’d point out- the target audience here is definitely younger by nature, making publishing this as a miniseries a questionable call. Indy publishers are already ignored by a significant percentage of comics shops, making this a tough sell to a limited market; the real sales potential here is in bookstores for the collected edition.

/Mason

Monday, December 10, 2007

I just posted this bit of PR out to the news sites:

VIRGIN COMICS WRITER SAURAV MOHAPATRA JOINS THE
COMICS WAITING ROOM!


Up-and-Coming Talent is the Latest Addition to the Comics Columnist Community!

TEMPE, AZ, Monday, December 10, 2007-

The Comics Waiting Room (www.comicswaitingroom.com) is proud to announce the addition of comic book writer Saurav Mohapatra to the site. Mohapatra will be writing a column titled “NINE PANEL GRID” for the site and it will cover his trials and travails in making it in the comics business and the things he continues to learn along the way. Saurav is currently writing DEVI, THE SADHU, and DEEPAK CHOPRA PRESENTS: INDIA AUTHENTIC for the publisher, so you can see the results of his columns and the lessons he’s learned on the stands at your neighborhood comics shop!

“NINE PANEL GRID” begins today with an introductory and the first two lessons in scripting that he had to internalize in his early efforts. The column will then run on a bi-weekly to monthly basis as Mohapatra’s writing schedule allows. The column will be archived at www.comicswaitingroom.com/ninepanelgrid.html so that anyone who has missed an installment can easily catch up. Column one can be found at http://www.comicswaitingroom.com/ninepanelgrid1.html.

Comics Waiting Room owner and Editor-in-Chief Marc Mason had this to say about the addition of Mohapatra to the site: “Saurav is a terrific young talent, and I’m ecstatic to have him add The Waiting Room to his list of assignments. He brings a new, unique voice to the table, and his connection with Virgin Comics will help him see his work published across the world. I think he’s going to be able to help other writers trying to follow in his footsteps and give them the tools and the confidence they need to succeed.”

About The Comics Waiting Room:
Established by Marc Mason in July 2006, after working for a number of other comics-related websites, The Comics Waiting Room has consistently added new content five to six days a week. The site offers reviews of comics, graphic novels, and media, as well as occasional media and entertainment features. After producing 99.9% of the content himself in the first year, the second year has seen the addition of five new columnists to the site, with more to come!

Contact: Marc Mason
marc@comicswaitingroom.com
Manga Monday! Leading off the week, a review of the (now super-good) ES (ETERNAL SABBATH).

Plus a new columnist joins the site. Details to come shortly!

/Mason

Thursday, December 06, 2007

DOCK WALLOPER #1

CWR BLOG EXTRA

Latest in Virgin Comics line of Hollywood director-created comics is DOCK WALLOPER, from the mind of Ed Burns and written by Burns and comics stud Jimmy Palmiotti and drawn by Siju Thomas. Burns has made his movie career based on films about schlub New Yorkers who can’t get their shit together when it comes to women and who need to drink and navel gaze a bit less. So the premise of WALLOPER comes as a bit of a surprise; set in Depression era New York, it follows the trials and tribulations of two unusual friends: John “The Hand” Smith, a bruiser whose right hand is much bigger than his left, and his best friend and fellow orphan, Bootsy.

In the first issue, the duo manages to fall under the good graces of an Irish gangster thanks to a timely bit of saving their own asses from a hit by a rival Italian ganglord. Thus, even though the Irish (being thorough racists) would prefer to not have Bootsy around, they are stuck with him for the moment thanks to Smith’s loyalty to his friend. But as the pair moves upward through the ranks, you can bet that temptations galore will work to tear the two apart, beginning with their first taste of actual money.

Actually, I suppose that could lead to Burns getting back to telling a tale about schlub New Yorkers who can’t get their shit together and need to drink less, but in a different format and era. But either way, this is actually quite a bit more appealing than a lot of his film work; the characters are interesting, the dialogue is crisp (something I’d bet good money is attributable to Jimmy), and Thomas does a nice job of depicting the era’s clothing, architecture, and colors.

Mind you, it isn’t a rocket science debut, but it is done well enough to merit a continued look (or at least a reading of the inevitable collection). If there’s one thing I know, it’s that Jimmy P. makes damned good comics, and his involvement here was reassuring from the time the book was announced.

/Mason
Thursday... we're running a bit out of order this week, so you get a new COMIC CULTURE WARRIOR today instead of Friday...

This week, Elliott remembers the work of Elliott S! Maggin and how it influenced him, and points your way towards Maggin's congressional campaign for office.

Vote by clicking, won't you?

/Mason

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Today at the Waiting Room...

Matt Maxwell returns with a new FULL BLEED, dreaming of a Marvel Comics that never was and pondering the audience for big ticket comics like DC's Absolute editions.

You'll never look at Tom Spurgeon the same way again...

Plus: I take a gander at THE ART OF GREG CAPULLO

/Mason

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This lovely bit of PR just went out this morning:

COMICS WRITER BRANDON JERWA JOINS COMICS WAITING ROOM!

Infamous Comic Writer is the Latest Addition to the Comics Columnist Community!

TEMPE, AZ, Tuesday, December 4, 2007-

The Comics Waiting Room (www.comicswaitingroom.com) is proud to announce the addition of comic book writer Brandon Jerwa to the site. Jerwa will be writing a column titled “ANYTHING GOES WITH BRANDON JERWA” for the site and working to find out what’s on the minds of your favorite comic book, TV, and film professionals. Known throughout the industry as one of the funniest and most sarcastic writers currently sitting at the keyboard, he’ll use his sharp wit and conversational skills to get new and entertaining insights about those who feed our weekly habit.

“ANYTHING GOES WITH BRANDON JERWA” opens today with an introductory essay and will get into full swing as the calendar marks 2008. It’ll appear on a bi-weekly to monthly basis, and the column will be archived at www.comicswaitingroom.com/jerwa.html so that anyone who has missed an installment can easily catch up.

Comics Waiting Room owner and Editor-in-Chief Marc Mason had this to say about the addition of Jerwa to the site: “Seeing as how the big galoot is one of my good friends, I had no qualms about guilting him into doing something for the site. Fortunately, his original idea to be the site’s first nude centerfold fell by the wayside, and he came up with this one instead. Still, just to make sure he doesn’t get too cocky, I’ve decided to let my hair grow out and use it to remind him who’s boss. I’m just glad I didn’t have to threaten to withhold sex; his wife Jess writes for the site and she told me if I stopped putting out and she had to do it, she’d quit on me. The things I do to keep my columnists happy!”

About The Comics Waiting Room:
Established by Marc Mason in July 2006, after working for a number of other comics-related websites, The Comics Waiting Room has consistently added new content five to six days a week. The site offers reviews of comics, graphic novels, and media, as well as occasional media and entertainment features. After producing 99.9% of the content himself in the first year, the second year has seen the addition of five new columnists to the site, with more to come!

Contact: Marc Mason
marc@comicswaitingroom.com

What are you waiting for? Click over already!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

DYNAMITE: EXPLODO!

CWR WEEKEND BLOG EXTRA

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down with a pile of goodies from those sexy beasts at Dynamite Entertainment. Let’s remedy that, shall we?

EDUARDO RISSO’S TALES OF TERROR is a collection of stories drawn by the great artist and written by his frequent collaborator Carlos Trillo. With eleven stories total, that’s so much gorgeous Risso art that you almost don’t need another reason to pick up the book. However, it turns out that the stories are generally pretty good as well. Most are meant to evoke some of the classic EC work from the 50s, offering a twinge of ironic horror in their denouements. Some, though, prove to have a wicked sense of humor, the best being the third chapter in the collection in which a man whose greatest attribute is his eternal apathy discovers that you can carry certain things beyond the grave after all. But my favorite is the final tale, which dissects the eroding marriage of a class-crossed couple. Again, it has a wonderfully snarky ending, and demonstrates an edge you don’t see enough of in comics these days. I love that Dynamite has been bringing more of Risso’s foreign work to the North American audience; his stuff is so damned good that it shouldn’t be missed. Buy this.

Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello continue their excellent work on the LONE RANGER, with issue 10 bringing the second story arc to a close. This fine closing chapter finds the Ranger wounded and having to test his faith in Tonto. There’s a killer still on the loose, and while the Ranger remains stridently opposed to killing, Tonto has never shared that particular value. He must also balance his own vow against killing against the idea of the justice system’s inability to protect prisoners. While you might normally expect a more action-packed resolution to an arc, the action here moves on a moral level and is shockingly gripping. The Ranger has never been portrayed, character-wise, any better than this, and you have to hope that the next Hollywood incarnation takes its cues from the best western to hit the shelves this decade.

WITCHBLADE: SHADES OF GRAY #4 is written by Leah Moore and John Reppion and drawn by Walter Geovani, and concludes DE’s collaboration on Top Cow’s flagship character. The story got off to a relatively decent start, and the writers seemed to be making a concerted effort to make a solid stab at putting together a non T&A book featuring the character. And even with some diversions along the way, they almost pulled it off. The actual plot required thought and movement, and through three issues, the art was fairly serviceable and never embarrassing (or, frankly, looked like a Top Cow book). Unfortunately, while Moore and Reppion do their best to deliver a tense climax, Geovani’s art just buries it. Bad anatomy, clothing on Sara that makes no sense, impossible spine angles and ass shots- I honestly felt bad for the writers. For the completists only, I’d think.

Finally, a look at Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s THE BOYS #12. I’m not going to address the book’s contents so much; it’s another great issue in what has been a great series. Instead, I’d like to take a moment to disagree with a friend. He took offense to one of the characters in the book using the “N” word, and I get that completely. It’s a horrible word, one that should be expunged from the language. But the character isn’t using the term on Ennis’ behalf- he’s not speaking for Garth. Instead, the character that uses it (a Russian) does so as a bastardization of what he has learned and adsorbed from imported American popular culture. For better or worse, the prevalence of the term, particularly in music, has given the appearance of a cultural acceptance of the word in the United States. That isn’t true, but it is what we’ve put out there. Thus the character’s use of the word acts as a slam against the use of it in any sort of way. I think it shows Ennis as a sharp cultural critic, personally.

That’s it for this week. Friend us on MySpace and make sure you drop by here throughout the week for main site updates.

/Mason

Friday, November 30, 2007

DAN DARE #1

CWR FRIDAY BLOG EXTRA!

Chances are, if you like the work of a U.K. born comics writer or artist, they were at some point in their life a big fan of DAN DARE. Some have even taken that appreciation for the character a little further than most; what is Warren Ellis’ MINISTRY OF SPACE but a cynical tribute to the great space pilot? If you are a fan of BBC’s brilliant DOCTOR WHO spin-off TORCHWOOD, you can also see some of Dare in its main character, Captain Jack Harkness. Long a staple of the great comics magazines like EAGLE and 2000AD, Dare now makes his return thanks to longtime fan Sir Richard Branson and his involvement in Virgin Comics.

As written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Gary Erskine, Dare has retired and moved on from Earth’s International Space Fleet, enjoying the quiet splendor of a quaint English village where the pub is lively and the cricket matches amongst the local youth are carried out in the best of sport. But in space, trouble begins to brew- there are ominous signs of Dare’s old nemesis Mekon stirring in the distance. Thus must the Prime Minister, a somewhat corrupted version of Tony Blair, prevail upon Dare’s sympathies for his old home, in the hopes he will once again put on the uniform and fly under his planet’s flag.

DAN DARE reads much like a comic I would have devoured as a young boy. Ennis and Erskine eschew their Vertigo roots and do a very straight-forward and PG take on the character (as they should) and reintroduce him well to a new generation of readers. There’s nothing ponderous or deeply intellectual about any of it; there are space battles, character moments, cool technology, and a scary threat. The very things that capture a reader’s (young or old) heart. Ennis’s script is somewhat cynical, but not overboard, and you never stop seeing the hero beneath Dare’s beaten exterior. And Erskine simplifies his approach to the art; much of his work can be very complex on the page, but his pages here acknowledge how misguided that would be. Of all things, the work must appeal to a younger and newer reader.

Solid debut, and a book that looks to be a solid read for the time to come.

Friend us on MySpace and make sure you tune into this blog throughout the week for main site updates!

/Mason
Friday, and the living's easy...

Elliott returns with a new COMIC CULTURE WARRIOR and addresses a female reader's supposition that Tony STark's character can be saved only by sex at this point.

I also review the noir thriller NARCOLEPTIC SUNDAY, which features a man who wakes up next to his murdered girlfriend. Hard to believe something that crappy didn't happy on a Monday, isn't it?

/Mason

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Today at The Waiting Room... Vince comes back from vacation with some interesting news: he's back to doing a little bit of comics retail work. What happens when you return to one of your old haunts after a long time away?

Read the new OMNIUM GATHERUM and find out!


/Mason

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hitting the hump... comics get literary with Stephane Heuet's adaptation of Marcel Proust's REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST VOLUME THREE: SWANN IN LOVE PART ONE.

Kinda good, kinda not.

/Mason

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Like a quality indy book? Me, too. One of the better ones over the last couple of years actually began as a minicomic and worked its way up to floppy format. I'm atlking about, of course, Joshua Cotter's excellent SKYSCRAPERS OF THE MIDWEST.

Issue four, the conclusion, has hit shelves, and my review appears today.

/Mason

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Manga Monday!

NOT.

Nope, this week, something special, instead: the return of "Should It Be A Movie?"!!! My old column has been sleeping quietly for months, but I've dusted her off today, with a look at Jason Burns' THE UNDERWORLD RAILROAD.

Take a looksee, won't you?

/Mason

Sunday, November 11, 2007

HEROES: HOLIDAY WEEKEND BLOG EXTRA

Welcome back to the Blog Extra. After taking a couple of weekends off, I’m back with a book that I suspect will be flying off shelves nationwide: HEROES: VOL.1.

Published by DC/Wildstorm, this beautiful hardcover collects the short stories that originally appeared on the HEROES website throughout season one. The stories served mainly to supplement and inform the show’s storylines, but occasionally they used the graphic novel format to greater advantage and told tales that would have been impossible to pull off because of budget constraints. Indeed, that turns out to be where the book’s strongest material comes from.

In particular, we get the full saga of Hana Gitelman, a character who only appeared twice on the actual show. Her power, which allowed her to access communication networks through her own brain, was fascinating, but not necessarily showy, but it was still striking when she vanished mid-storyline. With this graphic novel, we now know why, and it’s terrific stuff. Not just because it makes a couple of things seen on TV make better sense, but because her power is much easier visualized in comics. Her story also gets more room to breathe than most, and that serves to make her compelling as well.

That isn’t to say that the shorter bits focusing on what could almost be classified as “deleted scenes” featuring the main cast aren’t good. Certainly, many of them are very entertaining and illuminate the audience about what happened in the “cracks.” “Isaac’s First Time” is perhaps the best of the bunch, a story that not only shows what happens the first time he paints the future but also grants insight as to why it made him seek the solace of drug abuse because of it.

The stories are written by various writers of the show itself, and are drawn by a rotating cast of talented artists. There’s even a story drawn by Michael Turner that isn’t thoroughly repugnant. I didn’t even know that was possible. So there’s not much to complain about here.

Except the price. What a bungle!

Here you have a hardcover collection, geared towards a show with an audience of 14 million, that should do gangbusters in bookstores without a problem, especially releasing it in the middle of holiday shopping season. Unless you do something stupid like over-price the fucking thing.

Who thought 30 bucks was a good idea for this? There is no excuse for pricing this anywhere past the 22-25 dollar range, just like any hardcover book in Borders of similar size and page count. Bad, bad idea, and it will cost the book some sales, especially in a struggling economy. That extra 5-8 dollars makes a huge difference.

That’s it for this weekend! This will be an abbreviated week at The Waiting Room, thanks to the holiday and real world intrusions from the day job. But check with us on Tuesday and Friday for new content as we begin the gentle slide to the end of 2007.

Oh! And friend us on MySpace!

/Mason

Friday, November 09, 2007

Closing out the week...

Today sees the addition of Elliott Serrano to the site. His column, COMIC CULTURE WARRIOR, opens up by discussing Stephen Colbert's run for President.

Also, Vince Moore concludes his powerful series on race and comics, "40 Acres and a Mule of My Own."

You don't want to miss either of these things. Honest.

/Mason
This bit of PR went out this morning:

COLUMNIST ELLIOTT SERRANO JOINS THE COMICS WAITING ROOM!

The Comic Culture Warrior is the Latest Addition to the Comics Columnist Community!

TEMPE, AZ, Friday, November 9, 2007-

The Comics Waiting Room (www.comicswaitingroom.com) is proud to announce the addition of columnist Elliott Serrano to the site. Serrano will be writing his column “COMIC CULTURE WARRIOR” for the site and exploring not only the contents between the covers of our favorite hobby, but also the trends, foibles, and general oddities of geek culture. With his sharp wit and observational skills, he’ll bring new and entertaining insights to light and keep readers smiling along the way.

“COMIC CULTURE WARRIOR” will appear on Fridays on a bi-weekly schedule, and the column will be archived at www.comicswaitingroom.com/ccw.html so that anyone who has missed an installment can easily catch up.

Comics Waiting Room owner and Editor-in-Chief Marc Mason had this to say about the addition of Serrano to the site: “I had the pleasure of getting to know Elliott at San Diego this year, so I’m excited to bring him onboard the site. It wasn’t easy; everywhere we went, he was swarmed by wide-eyed young girls entranced by his dreamy looks and geek glasses, so I wasn’t sure we’d be able to pull this off. Fortunately, his recent vow of celibacy has finally taken hold and he’s ready to put that nonsense behind him and do some writing. It should be a lot of fun, as long as he can stay focused and out of the clubs.”

About The Comics Waiting Room:
Established by Marc Mason in July 2006, after working for a number of other comics-related websites, The Comics Waiting Room has consistently added new content five to six days a week. The site offers reviews of comics, graphic novels, and media, as well as occasional media and entertainment features. After producing 99.9% of the content himself in the first year, the second year has seen the addition of four new columnists to the site, with more to come!

Contact: Marc Mason
marc@comicswaitingroom.com

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Two for Thursday! Vince is running a bit late, and we have another new columnist in the pipeline, but first, new reviews!

First, Fred Chao's JOHNNY HIRO returns, and that's a damned good thing.

Then, a look at Mike Dubisch's E.C. homage, WEIRDLING.

Saddle up and click away!

/Mason

Monday, November 05, 2007

Manga Monday! This week, a look at all three volumes of the cat-centric FREE COLLARS KINGDOM.

It didn't exactly make me want to lick my paws.

/Mason

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HALLOWEEN BLOG EXTRA

Ahh, yes... instead of a weekender last week or this coming one, I'm splitting the difference with a very "day appropriate" Blog Extra. What goes better with Halloween than vampires? Just about nothing, so here's an early look at the latest book coming from Harris Publications.

That book would be VAMPIRELLA QUARTERLY: FALL 2007, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and drawn by Stephen Segovia. This issue brings to a close the storyline dealing with Vampi taking on her nemesis the Red Queen and the Queen's attempts to raise Chaos itself. At the end of part two, she succeeded, using the body of Vampirella's lover Adam in order to do it. As you might guess, she found that sort of problematic.

Parts one and two have been just fine on a story level, but Segovia's art has been dragging down the book and continues to do so. He seems incapable here of actually just telling the story; instead, he puts most of his energy into making sure he can contort Vampirella into one stupidly contortioned pose after another, or flat out making panels that focus on her ass (with the occasional crotch shot). Frankly, it's embarrassing. Other artists have worked on the character and shown how to balance the needs of the story with the needs of those who spank over the character's costume. Segovia's work never comes close.

And unfortunately, the story kind of crashes in this climax, too. A HUGE deus ex machina moment crops up to change the course of how things are going, and the ending feels artificial on top of it. Fialkov is a smart writer, so this is an abberation, and I was surprised by it.

Happily, we get another Archie Goodwin/Jose Gonzalez reprint in this issue, and it's another dandy. I'd pick up these books on the strength of the classic tales alone.

Still, Vampirella deserves better, and so do the readers. Cheesecake is fine, as long as it's served with some actual storytelling ability, and you just don't get it here. Picking up the latest VAMPIRELLA QUARTERLY is a scary prospect, indeed.

/Mason
Today in FULL BLEED... Matt re-watches the Indiana Jones trilogy and remembers what made the first one so great and the next two... not so much.

Agree or disagree, it's an interesting thesis he has on his hands.

/Mason

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Making a bit of a change here... for whatever reason, when I began using this blog to update folks on what new content was available over at the main site, I set the links to go to the site's home page instead of straight to the new reviews, etc. Not anymore.

All links from here will take you directly to what I'm talking about. No muss, no fuss.

Today, a review of Naomi Nowak's new graphic novel HOUSE OF CLAY, and it's worth your time. She's pretty much the second coming of P. Craig Russell.

/Mason

Monday, October 29, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's Friday, and the floodgates are open! Vince Moore's OMNIUM GATHERUM begins its look at issues of race in comics, "Forty Acres and a Mule of My Own" with installment one: "Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?"

Open your mind and come along on the ride, won't you?

/Mason

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Two for Thursday! Vince's new OMNIUM GATHERUM is taking a little longer to brew up, so instead you get two new comic reviews! First up is WALK IN, one of the more unusual head trip sci-fis in recent memory. Then, a look at Marc Guggenheim's RESURRECTION, which tells the story of what happens after the alien invasion of Earth is over...

Good stuff today, for sure.

/Mason

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for a new FULL BLEED! This week, Matt comes to praise disaposable culture, not bury it.

Shakespeare references are fun, yes?

/Mason

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday brings a review of the second volume of BORDERLINE, and it turns out to be even better than the first.

And considering the big, glowing pull quote from me on the back, that's saying something.

/Mason

Monday, October 22, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

MIDDLEMAN VOLUME THREE: FIRST LOOK

From what I can tell, this Weekend Blog Extra is a bit extra special: it looks like I’m the first person to get an early review of the forthcoming MIDDLEMAN VOLUME THREE up on the net. The book’s official title is MIDDLEMAN: THE THIRD VOLUME INESCAPABILITY (available from Texas’s finest, Viper Comics), and with a moniker like that, you’re probably thinking that writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach and artist Les McClane have once again packed another volume of this series with a metric ton of terrific sight gags, loads of snarky dialogue, and a crate of tongue buried firmly in a cheek. And you’d be exactly right.

Volume three begins with a flashback, sending us to an earlier time in the Middleman’s career, and introducing us to his sidekick prior to Wendy Watson, Middleboy. The duo is on a mission against the Middleman’s greatest foe: Kanimang Kang, head of F.A.T.B.O.Y. (Federated Agents of Tyranny, Betrayal, and Oppression’s Yoke). However, in an amusing homage to Cap and Bucky, Middleboy is soon out of the picture, and we’re back in the present, F.A.T.B.O.Y. still a looming threat. In the meantime, Wendy has continued her training with the Middleman, but still longs for a life outside of the weird one she’s currently living. She’s still an artist, and the opportunity for a gallery show arises… just about the same time that a prominent scientist goes missing, requiring her to play hero instead.

What can you look forward to in volume three? The usual awesome artwork from Les McClane, who only seems to get better. Giant space robots battling one another. A giant mutated shark with arms. Femme fatales. Wendy’s combat lessons paying off. Multiple jokes at the Bond franchise’s expense, including a ninja carrying guns. Zesty dialogue (“Did you just say that so you could call me a bitch?” “I… uh…” “Cause you could have just said ‘give me the antidote, bitch.’” “You know what I mean!”) A betrayal. A death. A change in the series’ status quo. Plus: an alternate ending, drawn by a contest winner, a buncha pin-ups, and most pleasantly, Grillo-Marxuach provides many pages of annotations explaining some of the origins of the jokes, names, and character designs. Whew!

On first read, the primary story does end rather abruptly and without any sort of classic resolution and feels a bit hollow, a fact that Grillo-Marxuach openly alludes to in the characters’ dialogue. But instead of breaking the fourth wall, what it really does is set up the ending to the real story being told in this volume and the deepest emotional impact the series has put to page. There are really two tales being told here and it’s easy to forget that as you move through the pages.

The given alternate ending suggests that at one point, this could have closed the series, and honestly, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. This has become one of my all-time favorite books, but if the creators decide they’re done, more power to them. Better that they call it quits on their own terms than run it into the ground. But the given ending suggests an intriguing and fresh direction, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the property, especially with the filming of the pilot for ABC Family approaching. I know for sure that I’ll be watching.

Be here through the week for site updates, and make sure to friend us on MySpace!

/Mason
Finishing up the week... two new reviews! First up is BRAWL, easily one of the more split-personality efforts of 2007. Then, a look at Jeremy Tinder's BLACK GHOST APPLE FACTORY, a sweet little book from Top Shelf.

Plus: all those cool columns from this week. Go read already!

/Mason

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday brings a new installment of OMNIUM GATHERUM, and it's a good one: Vince throws down the gauntlet against Aaron McGruder and says he's part of the problem, not the solution.

It's all about to get very interesting...

/Mason

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Wednesday, and that means a new FULL BLEED has leaked from the mind of Matt Maxwell. And if that wasn't enough for you, an all-new AISLE SEAT, taking a look at the COMIC BOOK CREATOR and MANGA CREATOR softwares.

Get greedy and go read!

/Mason

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's been a LONG time in the making, but Jess has arrived! JESS KNOWS BEST is the first advice column dedicated to the geek set. Questions about life, love, and all that good stuff? Ask Jess!

What are you waiting for? Go check it out!

/Mason

Monday, October 15, 2007

Manga Monday! Starting off the week, an updated look at last year's "Essential Manga", NODAME CANTABILE.

Can it maintain its momentum?

Tomorrow: a day I've been waiting for, for a very long time!

/Mason

Sunday, October 14, 2007

WEEKEND BLOG EXTRA

Welcome, and thanks for dropping in for a new Blog Extra. This weekend, a look at two new books from a new indy publisher: Pit Bros. Productions.


THE LEGEND OF JOE MOON #0 was written by Gonzalo Ventura and drawn by Manuel and Leonardo Silva. MOON focuses on the adventures of a bounty hunter in the old west who’s a bit different than most: he’s also a werewolf. This introductory issue finds him on the trail of two brothers who are raping and murdering their way across the desert, and vile fiends they are, indeed. In fact, the story goes to great lengths to show you how awful they are, and it makes the book feel more distasteful than necessary. The continued rape of their female hostage goes on over the space of three of the sixteen pages. This was a time that subtlety would have been well called for. The creative team also runs out of room and winds up using exposition to explain an off-camera incident at the end of the tale, so the pacing could have been a bit better as well. However, the art shows great promise; the Silvas deliver some lovely black and white pages here, and demonstrate that they could have a very strong future ahead of them. Good concept, but better execution will ultimately be needed to make this one a winner.

HENRY AND BUTCHER #1 is written by Gonzalo Ventura and drawn by Martin Blanco. Ventura’s other book is a different animal altogether. Henry is a boxer-turned-leg breaker leading a reasonably normal suburban existence (as much as his job would allow, anyway). He’s got a wife and a kid, and he’s pretty happy with his life. But one day and automobile accident turns it all upside down. He goes home and a different family is living in his house. His car isn’t where he had the wreck. And his favorite bar no longer exists. However, a chance meeting on the street is what really makes it all crazy; his dog, Butcher, remembers him just fine. Oh, and by the way, the dog speaks English and tells Henry that he knows how to get him back to his real life. Now Henry’s in the loony bin, looking to get out… and find Butcher. Assuming he isn’t crazy. The plot idea has been done innumerable times, but the dog angle is a fresh one and sets this apart. Throw in some nice, noir-ish artwork from Blacno, and this is a solidly entertaining effort.

Join us here through the week for regular site updates, and friend us on MySpace. And please be back here next weekend for an all-new Blog Extra!

/Mason

Friday, October 12, 2007

Finishing off the week... Phil Yeh's DINOSAURS ACROSS AMERICA is a delightful way to teach your kids about the states and their capitals. Presented for the first time in hardcover, color glory.

Enjoy your weekend!

/Mason

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Two for Thursday! First up is a new Omnium Gatherum, as Vince takes a look at some indy comics from black creators, featuring black characters. Then, a review of the magazine guaranteed to bring some peace and silence into every parent's life: AVATAR: THE LAST AIR BENDER, the beloved show of the 'tween set.

Go read!

/Mason

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wednesday brings some new goodness from Matt Maxwell, as the latest installment of FULL BLEED takes a look at what gateways there are to bring readers to comics.

It's great stuff. As usual.

/Mason

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tuesday brings a look at the very fanservice-heavy JUNGLE GIRL...

It has talking breasts. Sort of.

Really.

/Mason

Monday, October 08, 2007

Manga Monday! Catching up on the back volumes of HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS, one of our faves...

Should be an interesting week, yes?

/Mason

Sunday, October 07, 2007

WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?

Welcome back to the Weekend Blog Extra. This week: easily the strangest thing I’ve read in quite some time.

PUNKS: THE COMIC is written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and drawn by Kody Chamberlain. A risen from the dead Abe Lincoln is joined by a man whose head is a skull, a man whose head is a fist, and a man with the head of a dog, to battle an alien invasion and cover up the death of a prostitute.

Yes, yes… read it again. I’m not making that up.

Really, there is no actual story. PUNKS is mostly an exercise in absurdity, and while it annoys in the first few pages, eventually you just sort of begin to go along with it. A big part of that is the wicked sense of humor the gags are built upon. In one sharp scene, Lincoln complains about how hard it is to get an apartment, seeing as how he lacks a drivers’ license and social security number, and that he’s been on disability since 1865. In another, a father exasperated with his children laments at their lack of appreciation that he’s taken them out to rain death on mankind from above and that next year he’ll just stick with Epcot. Sharp, witty stuff, and it takes some of the edge off of the stuff that really doesn’t work.

I don’t think PUNKS is for everyone; not even close. But if you like the surreal, and you can appreciate a truly interesting experiment by Kody Chamberlain, then it might be for you.

See you here through the week for site updates. You can also friend us on MySpace for updates as well.

/Mason

Friday, October 05, 2007

Closing out the week... Vince, too, is late, but he arrives to rebut his fangirl critics in the latest edition of OMNIUM GATHERUM. Plus: a look at THE SURREAL ADVENTURES OF EDGAR ALLAN POO, wherein the writer shits out his imagination and the turd takes on a life of its own.

I'm not making that up. Honest.

/Mason

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A day late, but not a dollar short, Matt Maxwell's FULL BLEED returns to ask "Where do comics fans come from?"

Nothing to do with the birds and the bees, I'm afraid...

/Mason

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wednesday... FULL BLEED has been delayed this week due to illness, so it's role today will be played by a review of VAMPIRELLA QUARTERLY: SUMMER 2007.

Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. Send Matt your positive energy, won't you?

/Mason

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tuesday is a good day for mythology, as we take a look at DEVI from Virgin Comics.

Best book from them yet. Honest.

/Mason

Monday, October 01, 2007

Manga Monday! LE CHEVALIER D'EON is quite a nifty little police procedural/occult thriller about a boy whose dead sister inhabits his body in order to wreak vengeance on evildoers.

How can you pass up that description?


/Mason

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A QUICK BIT OF COOL


Top Shelf is celebrating its ten-year anniversary this year, and in response they’ve created a nifty little marketing tool. THE TOP SHELF SEASON SAMPLER is available through their website or at conventions, and like love, it don’t cost a thang.

Contained within is a number of previews of this year’s releases, including a number of books I’ve reviewed (LONE RACER, TALES FROM THE FARM, KORGI, FOX BUNNY FUNNY, DEATH BY CHOCOLATE, SUPER SPY), The entries include a summary and some art, along with the occasional pull quote. However, they don’t just restrict themselves to this year’s releases. The sampler also includes previews of the company’s perennial sellers like FROM HELL, LOST GIRLS, TRICKED, BOX OFFICE POISON, BLANKETS and others. Then they throw in some promotion for stuff coming next year, including the third volume of Alan Moore’s LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN and Alex Robinson’s next book, TOO COOL TO BE FORGOTTEN. (Can’t tell you just how much I’m looking forward to that one.)

If you’re stuck with a comics shop that doesn’t order from the back of the catalog, or have just been curious about breaking away from the superhero grind, Top Shelf has a healthy amount of material that should appeal to you. Getting your hands on a copy of this sampler could lead you to something interesting and maybe change your reading habits.

/Mason

Friday, September 28, 2007

CWR WEEKEND BLOG EXTRA

And I mean seriously extra. Because this book is still wayyyyy off in the distance, but you’re getting your first look Right. Fucking. Here.


The book in question? HAZED, written by Mark Sable and drawn by Robbi Rodriguez, and published by Image Comics: the real San Francisco treat.

HAZED is the story of Ileana, a college freshman who winds up going to a “second choice” college and nearly immediately regrets it. She’s got a vapid roommate named James (who is a woman, despite her name), a reasonably healthy sense of self and a decent body image, and enough smarts to fill multiple backpacks. But we find out early on that it all went by the wayside and she’s headed for a life of eating disorders and binge drinking. The question then becomes, as Sable begins building his parody: how did it all go wrong?

Honestly, taking shots at college culture is pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel, and being a college librarian, trust me: I know. To make it work, you have to do two things: have at least one good character to get behind, and some new, clever ways to deliver the snark. Sable’s best: the sluttiest sorority on campus is Sigma Tau Delta… the STDs. Funny stuff.

In the rougher spots where the story isn’t quite flowing, Sable has the best backup possible in the form of Rodriguez. As he’s proven on MAINTENANCE, he has a gift for drawing projects with a warped sense of humor, and he really delivers some terrific stuff here.

Nothing about HAZED screams “genius!” or “Eisner!”, but the first chunk I’ve read here does do a solid job of entertaining and putting a smile on your face. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Be back here through the week for site updates and/or friend us on MySpace. See you next weekend for the next edition of the Blog Extra!

/Mason
Ending the week with greatness... Gipi's NOTES FOR A WAR STORY arrives on our shores, and it's one of the best books of the year, period.

Read all about it.

/Mason

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday... Vince Moore goes on the attack against When Fangirls Attack in the latest edition of OMNIUM GATHERUM! Plus: Marc reviews the hardcover collection of Frank Beddor's HATTER M.

What else do you want?

/Mason

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday shifts up a gear, as Matt Maxwell's FULL BLEED dives into superhero hate and asks the question "Where has the imagination gone?"

It's a good one, gang.

/Mason

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Scott Chantler's excellent NORTHWEST PASSAGE gets collected in an annotated hardcover edition. Folks, it's a beauty.

Read all about it.

/Mason

Monday, September 24, 2007

Manga Monday! Starting off this week, we have a look at PRETTY FACE, a manga that's actually pretty good... but a little penile-phobic...

What does that mean? Go see.

/Mason

Friday, September 21, 2007

CWR WEEKEND BLOG EXTRA

Like last Friday, I’m getting an early jump on the Blog Extra! This weekend: a look at a new title from the folks at Devil’s Due.

DRAFTED #1 is written by Mark Powers and drawn by Chris Lie. The story certainly doesn’t have small aims; we begin in the aftermath of large earthquakes which have wiped out Berlin and Ottawa, and those have occurred after bizarre disasters in Jerusalem and St. Louis. Only one thing is known for sure: people are dying by the thousands and nothing about any of it makes sense. But it all becomes plainly, horrifically clear when an alien race arrives and announces itself to every soul on the planet at one time. They have come to enlist the Earth’s population in a war against a great evil, and if we cooperate, we get all sorts of goodies. Refuse to assist, and they’ll wipe us out completely… using very similar methods to what they’ve done to our world so far. Human civilization as we know it is at an end either way… so can people put aside their differences and work together to save the species? Or is humanity about to go the way of the dinosaur?

Like a classic Hollywood mega-blockbuster, DRAFTED brings together an international cast, places them in danger, and jams the plot into motion. Certainly, as hard as Powers tries, none of the characters come across as anything but stock, but that isn’t necessarily a flaw. We’re meant at this point to get only a slight glimpse, and any development will occur as each one faces the horrors ahead.

As a fan of the disaster genre, I liked DRAFTED maybe more than I should have. Honestly, not enough happens here; we’re not even at the point of the series when we find out exactly what the title truly means yet, and there was a preview issue before this one. Still, Powers and Lie get a lot of latitude from me on this one, so I’m counting on them to come through.

Be back here throughout the week for site updates or friend us on MySpace!

/Mason
Finishing off a very exciting week here at the Waiting Room... the second edition of FULL BLEED, the addition of OMNIUM GATHERUM... and wrapping it all with a new review today of ANGEL SKIN.

It's gotten fun around here! Go see why!

/Mason

Thursday, September 20, 2007

*500*

It is here, on the occasion of the 500th post to this blog, that I'm pleased to reprint this piece of PR I Just sent out:

"THE COMICS WAITING ROOM PROUDLY WELCOMES VINCENT S. MOORE TO THE SITE!

Comics Retailer, Writer and Editor Joins the Comics Columnist Community!


TEMPE, AZ, Thursday, September 20, 2007-

The Comics Waiting Room (www.comicswaitingroom.com) is proud to announce the addition of columnist Vince Moore to the site. Moore, who has spent time on both the retail and creative sides of the comics industry, will be writing his column “OMNIUM GATHERUM” for the site, and using it to discuss his thoughts about the comics industry, the process of creating and publishing his own, review books new and old, and riff on other topics of note.

“OMNIUM GATHERUM” will appear on Thursdays on a weekly to bi-weekly schedule, and the column will be archived at www.comicswaitingroom.com/vince.html so that anyone who has missed an installment can easily catch up.

Comics Waiting Room owner and Editor-in-Chief Marc Mason had this to say about the addition of Moore to the site: “Having Vince at the site makes me very happy. He’s a very mellow, thoughtful guy, and even when he has a controversial opinion you might not agree with, he’s just so damned nice that you still love him anyway. I’m glad he said ‘yes’ when I asked if he’d like to come onboard. Year two at the Waiting Room is all about adding more content and variety to the site, and Vince is a huge part of it! And there’s more to come!”

About Vincent S. Moore:
Vince has been a retailer, comics editor, and is now creating comics of his own. He’s also written for Comic Book Resources and Silver Bullet Comics.

About The Comics Waiting Room:
Established by Marc Mason in July 2006, after working for a number of other comics-related websites, The Comics Waiting Room has consistently added new content five to six days a week. The site offers reviews of comics, graphic novels, and media, as well as occasional media and entertainment features. After producing 99.9% of the content himself in the first year, the second year will see the addition of three new columnists to the site."

Throw in a review of SNAKE WOMAN vol.1 from Virgin Comics, and you have zero excuse for not clicking and reading today!

/Mason

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

World War Wednesday! Two new comics reviews: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: SEASON ZERO and EVA: DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON! And if that wasn't enough, it's the newest installment of Matt Maxwell's FULL BLEED, wherein he discusses how horrible it would be if television were run like comics!

Tomorrow: the arrival of Vince Moore's OMNIUM GATHERUM!

Make with the clicky!

/Mason

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Today... ELEPHANTMEN gets the deluxe hardcover treatment, and we have the review...

Tomorrow... more new reviews, plus the newest installment of Matt Maxwell's FULL BLEED...

Thursday... more new reviews, and Vince Moore's OMNIUM GATHERUM joins the site...

Do you really need any more reasons to click here?

/Mason

Monday, September 17, 2007

Manga Monday! SUZUKA is, technically, a fine manga, but the characters are becoming obnoxious to the point of being painful.

Should I keep caring?

/Mason

Friday, September 14, 2007

POTTER’S FIELD #1

I’m mixing things up a bit with the Weekend Blog Extra, bringing you two new reviews, and on Friday to boot! Let’s tackle number one, shall we? From Boom Studios:

POTTER’S FIELD #1 is written by Mark Waid and Drawn by Paul Azaceta. This book has achieved near-legendary status before ever shipping, giving it a lot to live up to. Originally announced as JOHN DOE, it was supposed to be in stores over a year ago. Ads for the book kept running in the back of other Boom products, but the JOHN DOE remained an unknown. However, with Waid’s arrival as EIC of Boom, the perfect time has arrived to get the comic on stands.

FIELD follows the exploits of a man known only as John Doe, and Doe’s mission in life is a fascinating one: he investigates the identities of those buried anonymously in New York’s Potter’s Field, ultimately working to give the dead a name and a story, and hopefully allowing the living to mourn their losses. He is aided by a network of operatives throughout the city, using their connections and talents to supplement his own intuitive gifts. Issue one puts its primary focus on a young girl who seemingly committed suicide. But there was much more to it than that, which allows Waid to take a poke at one (disgustingly) popular member of today’s media, and Doe must dig through a case cold enough to be frozen solid in order to put the girl at rest. But what surprises is what occurs when he displays his own sense of justice in resolving the issue.

The book looks terrific; Paul Azaceta gets better and better with every book he draws. Waid’s poke at the aforementioned media member is the book’s biggest weak spot, as it’s an awfully easy target. But it works better in its setup, as the concept is very solid. In fact, it’d make for a perfect TV procedural drama, and considering Boom’s efforts in development, I’d be shocked if that weren’t where it was headed.

/Mason
Closing it out... Henry Chamberlain wraps up ALICE IN NEW YORK and does a solid job of it.

It's been a huge week around here, and it's only going to get bigger next week as we add ANOTHER new columnist!

/Mason

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Heading for the weekend... Wes Molebash's excellent YOU'LL HAVE THAT gets the one-shot floppy treatment. So spend a little to get a big smile!

Trust me.

/Mason

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This bit of PR from me just went out:

THE COMICS WAITING ROOM PROUDLY WELCOMES MATT MAXWELL TO THE SITE!

Longtime Comics Columnist and Graphic Novel Writer Brings His Column to a New Home!


TEMPE, AZ, Wednesday, September 12, 2007-

The Comics Waiting Room (www.comicswaitingroom.com) is proud to announce the addition of graphic novel writer Matt Maxwell to the site. Maxwell, whose STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON will hit shelves this winter, will be resurrecting his column “FULL BLEED” for the site, and using it to discuss his thoughts about the comics industry, the process of creating and publishing his own graphic novels, and other topics of note.

“FULL BLEED” will appear on Wednesdays on a weekly to bi-weekly schedule, and the column will be archived at www.comicswaitingroom.com/fullbleed.html so that anyone who has missed an installment can easily catch up.

Comics Waiting Room owner and Editor-in-Chief Marc Mason had this to say about the addition of Maxwell to the site: “I’m ecstatic to have Matt on board. He’s one of the smartest and most insightful guys out there, and I’m thrilled to be giving him some of my cyberspace. This second year for the Waiting Room is all about adding more content to the site, and Matt’s arrival is just the first of some exciting announcements I’ll be making in the next few weeks!”

About Matt Maxwell:
Matt’s blog and the trailer for STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON can be found at www.highway-62.com.

About The Comics Waiting Room:
Established by Marc Mason in July 2006, after working for a number of other comics-related websites, The Comics Waiting Room has consistently added new content five to six days a week. The site offers reviews of comics, graphic novels, and media, as well as occasional media and entertainment features. After producing 99.9% of the content himself in the first year, the second year will see the addition of three new columnists to the site.

What are you waiting for???? Go read it already!!!!

/Mason

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's Tuesday, and I'm kinda excited. It isn't just because a review of STORM SHADOW #2 was just posted and because that book has been surprisingly good. Nope, it's because tomorrow is the biggest day for the site in many a moon.

Go read the new review and then make sure you come back tomorrow for the first of THREE huge additions to the site!

/Mason

Monday, September 10, 2007

Manga Monday! Kia Asamiya's JUNK begins to show some steady improvement! PLUS: a brand new AISLE SEAT review! TORCHWOOD sets the world on fire right out of the gate!

What are you waiting for? Go read!

/Mason