Friday, October 19, 2007


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!

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!


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...


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!


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!


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!


Sunday, October 14, 2007


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!