Thursday, July 5, 2012

Favorite Spider-Man Story - "Lifetheft"

With the release of the new Amazing Spider-Man movie, I’ve been thinking about one of my favorite storylines that ran through Amazing Spider-Man when I was in middle school. You might even call this my first monthly book since, in one of those door-to-door subscription offers, I had it shipped monthly to my house for over a year (my corner store also carried Classic X-Men which I bought on a regular basis and I read and bought any current issue of Uncanny X-Men I could get my hands on, but these were never super consistent as Amazing Spider-Man).

The first storyline I think I ever received ran just before the Clone Saga, so I think people might not remember it as fondly as I do. The issue featured the classic Spider-Man villain The Vulture. Adrian Toomes sounds much more like a villain from The X-Files than a credible threat for the wallcrawler. The fun of this story is: it kind of addresses that. Sure, Toomes is smart and built himself a flying harness to do major acts of crime, but he’s old and his original harness gave him cancer. He starts the story in jail, using a makeshift harness of mostly spare radio parts to escape (kind of an awesome jailbreak scene, actually). His master plan? Pilfer the research of a scientist working out of ESU (Empire State University, where Peter Parker attends natch) who is working on a way to reverse the aging process. Toomes gets to be young again, but more importantly cure his fatal cancer as well.

Friday, June 1, 2012

"Teen Wolf" Season 1 Recap

I wanted to like Teen Wolf. On paper, the idea sounded good: take the campy '80s Michael J. Fox movie and modernize slash serialize it. Substitute the comedy of the original with teen angst. And sometimes, just sometimes, Teen Wolf manages to surprisingly work, but more often than not it falls flat on its face. Let's blame that brat blowing on the dog whistle from the original movie. He obviously grew up and had a hand in the current show's derailing.

But, jokes aside, the main problem with Wolf is its star, the admittedly adorable Tyler Posey. You might remember him as J-Lo's sassy wise-beyond-his-years pre-teen son in Maid in Manhattan. Then again, you might not. Posey really hasn't had a big gig before this and it painfully shows. He's clumsy as Scott, the show's lead protagonist who is - you guessed it! - transformed into a werewolf in the series' first episode. One assumes Posey was cast because he spend his post-Maid years working out and never EVER touching carbs. And look good with his shirt off he does, but not nearly enough to save his terrible acting which is just so, so terrible.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Watch "Young Justice"

Have you been watching it? It's Teen Titans 2.0. But I still like Teen Titans (don't get me wrong).

The last clip I posted got 86'd, so enjoy Lobo beating the crap out of Wonder Girl and Batgirl.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What's Your Issue? Spotlight on Teen Titans #7

I’m starting to have problems remembering what actually happens after I read issue of Teen Titans. There’s very little forward motion. I’m not sure that’s a problem, since the artwork and characterization are two things I enjoy more than the actual plot. But I can see why this might not be everybody’s favorite comic book.

That said, this issue did have a real clear point. If you also read issues of Superboy (and you know I do!), he was captured at the end of his last issue by N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Which, despite being a “nefarious organization” is also … super not fun to type. I hope the Titans stomp them out soon! But I’m getting ahead of myself. So Superboy is captured, and we see Wonder Girl at the end of that issue breaking in to rescue him. This issue fleshes out that revelation, with Tim (ahem) I mean, Red Robin convincing the rest of the team to go in after him. Only everyone remembers two issues back when he tried to kill all of them. Even Skitter who doesn’t have a normal brain isn’t in a big rush to leap to action. So Tim is all, well... I’m going anyway. See you jerks later. Then everybody feels bad and follows him. Putting aside the ridiculousness of that situation, it does give it a distinct teen feel to this book. Tim is obviously the one in charge who’s got his crap together. Why wouldn’t the rest of them go wherever he goes?

Monday, March 26, 2012

What's Your Issue? Spotlight on X-Factor #233

We're back to Peter David's X-Factor this week. Honestly!? This issue kind of exemplifies why I always champion X-Factor as one of my favorite comics. They can change things up in an organic, interesting way and somehow make me not only like it, but like it even more.

After Jamie Madrox is resurrected after his night of 1,000 deaths, him and Layla Miller embrace in a way that might make you blush. That was last issue. In this issue? It becomes apparent that Layla has become Jamie's new slam piece. And no, there's no nicer way I could have put that. As Madrox often does, he's having a whole internal debate about how wrong the whole thing was and blah, blah, blah. Jamie has been attracted to Layla ever since he went to the future and she was older babe. He needs to get over himself about this, and finally deal with his gross emotional problems. To her credit, Layla is having kind of the same thoughts re: regret. But she's a little bit more honest here, admits the whole Guido-no soul thing, and ... yeah, I'll admit it. I kind of want them to get together. And let's give it up to Peter David who somehow made me feel not icky about that. It's weird how Layla is becoming my favorite.

Where's the team? Madrox asks. This is when Layla alludes to a change in leadership.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What's Your Issue? Spotlight on Superboy #7

I have something kind of dirty to admit this week... I actually kind of enjoyed reading “Superboy.” When I read the initial solicitations, I had a feeling like it might play out this way. I also think since this might be the only time such an event happens, I should probably review this issue.

When last we left The Superboy, he was barreling his way to a secret N.O.W.H.E.R.E. facility. He beat the snot out of the new combined forces of the Teen Titans, then confronted Rose Wilson and a bunch of the agents on his way to deliver a smackdown to his current handlers slash creators. Why it has suddenly occurred to him to attack the evil organization, I can’t tell you. I think it would have been a better idea to trash the place when you first woke up or when you’re red headed doctor hottie became super strong and went berserk. But I guess The Superboy isn’t very bright. Or we can blame it on his newly cloned brain still learning how things work. I don’t really know (or care?) but Superboy’s motivations should be clearly established so we as readers can get behind him. It’s pretty hard to relate to a character who seems very resistant to establishing emotional connections and has no clearly established purpose. I feel a little bit like I’m reading about a teenage version of The Hulk who hasn’t turned green yet.

I’m getting off topic. Let’s talk about The Superboy’s progress. He’s finally inside the facility now. The director of security guy - he reminds me a lot of The Guardian from Project Cadmus from the “Death of Superman” era - tries to stop him with a crapload of security dudes. They have guns that can down a tank (really!? Because even in comic book terms, I kind of don’t believe them) and they have the element of surprise. They blast him, but Superboy tosses them around like ragdolls anyway. It’s interesting to note that he gets hurt here. He also doesn’t immediately recover; it seems to really have a negative impact on him. There’s also this really strange moment where reality shifts, I guess because another character is in N.O.W.H.E.R.E. either manipulating the enviornment or altering The Superboy’s perceptions. Still, it’s a weird few panels that don’t really go with the rest of the issues. Dear editors at DC Comics: If you’re not going to show this character who is doing this thing or explain why he’s doing, I don’t really care.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Comics Roundup

I have a few odds and ends that are worth highlighting this month. Here goes.

Fans of my Goodreads page will note that the Salem Press Graphic Novel encyclopedia I contributed to is out next month. If you are a library and have money or are independently wealthy, feel free to purchase the book here. I'm excited it's finally out. It's also worth noting that DC Comics just tweeted about a Flashpoint giveaway that you can view here. Enter to Win. You know I just did.

This month I read both Wolverine & Jubilee and vol. 2 of Gotham City Sirens (the latter which I bought at Bergen Street Comics - I finally visited!). I recommend both books, and will probably be providing extended reviews of both of them for my new gig on Graphic Novel Reporter reviewing things that I read. You can read my first review on the special edition of Oni Press' Courtney Crumrin here.

If you don't think I update my blog enough, be sure to check me out on Yelp. I've been catching up on my back log lately. While I still don't review a place every day, I've been updating my reviews a lot more there. I hope to eventually get down to the Midtown Comics in NYC's financial district soon since I still have yet to go. I have a cool list of NYC comic shops you can read about there.

Wednesday also means 'new comic day.' Here's the issues I bought for this week:

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's Your Issue? Avengers Academy #27

Full disclosure: Actually. Let's take a minute after that statement. Every time I blog lately I feel like I'm revealing some sort of seedy insight into my comic buying habits. You guys might soon know me better than I know myself...

The only thing I was going to admit, re: above "full disclosure" is that I'm not a regular reader of Avengers Academy. I've heard good things about it, but with Young Avengers and every other attempt to modernize the Avengers team and turn it into a franchise? No thanks. I know Marvel has a big movie planned, and yes... Joss Whedon is writing it so I'm super excited. But the idea of creating a bunch of kiddie Avengers has been done several times in the past few years with generally disasterous results. And by that I mean boring! I'd rather have a comic that takes place in an alternate reality where all the Avengers are kids again ala that one rad Star Trek: TNG episode. Oh wait noIwouldn't because honestly I hatestorieslikethatsomuch!

Anyhoo, it's gotten a few good reviews on Comic Book Resources (I recommend their reviews section if you are mulling over buying a title, as I often do. Again with the buying habits!). I know that it's gotten a little bit of press for having gay characters in it, but again... if they're characters I don't really know or care about, there's not much sense in reading the stories. I picked up this issue as probably most people did, because a lil' old team called The Runaways happen to be guest starring. Recently, they popped up in the Daken comic. I think that they are now reduced to being guest stars in books that need them to boost sales. Despite this being a very clear sales gimmick, I'm game. I love them, and I'll read whatever they are in. Well played, Marvel.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What's Your Issue? Spotlight on Angel & Faith #7

Sorry for the delay in getting this blog out, kiddies. Things have been much busy in the Life of Ryan. But I did buy a new comic last week, and it turned out to be Angel & Faith #7. So let's talk about it.

Yes, I'll admit it. I've been buying Angel & Faith... but I haven't exactly been reading it every week. I got the first issue signed by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs at the New York Comic Con, so I read that. I liked it, but didn't exactly love it. People raved about it, so I guess I let expectations get the better of me. I was also largely disappointed by some of the quality of the IDW Angel stuff, especially when it wasn't being written by John Byrne or Peter David. Some of that got real bad real fast, and DO NOT argue with me. Because I am clearly right and you are clearly wrong.

So I didn't even realize when I started reading Angel & Faith #7 that this was the second part of the "Daddy Issues" arc. Because I read the solicitations and because I'm actually buying the damn things I realized that Harmony had showed up recently, and that Drusilla was set to. These are two of my favorite characters from the Buffy universe ever so I was kind of ridiculously excited for a competent writer to tackle both of them. I thought I might get to the Harmony issue last month, but let's start here with Drusilla's.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What's Your Issue? Spotlight on Teen Titans #6

Are you reading Teen Titans?

Scott Lobdell is writing it, and his work on X-Men (and later Uncanny X-Men) was nothing short of prolific. Don't believe me? Go back and read that story about Iceman's racist dad getting beaten up for defending his mutant son. And Lobdell was writing that s@# before it got trendy.

In Titans, he's made the bold move to feature Red Robin (the Tim Drake version, natch), Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash on the team. But he's also created a host of brand new characters who are actually pretty interesting. There's Skitter, an insect-like girl who shows very little rational, coherent thought in her "bug state" (more on her this issue). Solstice; who is apparently made up of some sort of blue light in a black smoke girl form. And finally Bunker; a carefree Mexican gay character who can create purple energy constructs. For example, he likes to form "brick hands" when punching people. We still don't know much about the newbies. This issue is a direct follow up from the Superboy attack in #5, with the team slowly regaining consciousness. The immediate danger? Kid Flash was vibrated so fast by "The Superboy" (I like how they put the "The" they put in front of his name in this and other issues) that he is now in danger of vibrating out of existence.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Comic Vlog Attempt

This video is pretty bad, but I figured I would give a comic vlog a try.

NOTE: You need to now comment with your YouTube user name to access this video.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What's Your Issue? Spotlight on Batgirl #6

A new week brings new comics. Since X-Factor was a Marvel title, I figured let's switch things up with a DC 'New 52'. Since Batgirl is slightly more fun than Superboy this week, that's what I'm going to talk about. Deal with it.

Batgirl #6 is a direct let's-pick-up-right-at-the-end of Batgirl #5 issue. There's a new villain with multi-colored hairdos named Gretel that can appearantly mind control people. I guessed that it was just men last issue, and that's pretty much confirmed here. Anyway, she took control of Bruce Wayne's limo driver who I think had a gun for some reason, so Batgirl swoops in to save him. Only... Bruce Wayne is mindcontrolled, too. And he's motherf@$#ing Batman.

So Barbara is about to face off against Bruce, who has a crowbar and an angry expression. She doesn't want to hurt him, but is also worried she might lose to him in a fight regardless. He keeps repeating '338' - a signature of all of Gretel's victims. Batgirl does a pretty good job fending him off. She's also remembering Bruce's support after she got shot by The Joker, so we get some insight into their rebooted relationship. They weren't close before that, but looks like he had her back and they became buds after. I guess to get Batman to like you, just get shot. Anyway, Batgirl is winning... then she gets slammed on the head by Bruce's personal assistant. This was awesome because I totally didn't expect it. Then that female cop shows up who hates Batgirl from the first 4 issues and I think pistol whips her.

The whole issue was very violent, obviously.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What's Your Issue? Spotlight on X-Factor #231

Welcome to my new weird semi-regular segment, What's Your Issue? where I review individual comic issues because I just read 'em and have no one to talk to about 'em. For our first installment, we're talking about X-Factor #231 which came out this week.

The issue opens with Multiple Man Jamie Madrox still in the same alternate world we left off in; a dual set of Sentinel-size Iron Men are about to put him out of his reality hoping misery (which will probably just send him to another world anyway, as this keeps happening when he "dies"). A scan by of one of the Iron Men reveals that Madrox is somehow out of phase or out of sync with their world, so they decide to take him to their "boss." If you guess that to be Tony Stark, then you've read yourself some Marvel Comics in the past few decades.

The older Tryp has gained a new ally (a shadowy red-eyed figure) to help rescue Madrox from Stark's tower. Jamie is in rare form while being taken to Tony's office, giving off a lot of one-liners and zingers that make it really the best part of the comic. Tony and him have a conversation where it's revealed he was in space when Wanda reset reality, only removing most of the humans from the world instead of most of the mutants (as she did in regular continuity). They are interrupted when Tryp's friend busts in, a franken-like amalgam of Steve Rogers and Deathlok. Basically, it sums up the awesome cover.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

SLJ Cover - October 2009

Ever since I created the "sidebar" on my blog of 'quicklinks' to my book reviews for School Library Journal, I have been looking online for the cover of the very first issue I was featured in. This was way back when in October 2009. The cover is nearly impossible to get, it turns out. SLJ is great about keeping all the covers up, online, and easy to find... but only after it became 2010.

Turns out, my problem wasn't that difficult to solve. Sort of. A quick trip to the New York Public Library Periodicals Room a couple of weeks ago and boom! Cover in hand. Sorry the cover isn't in color, but I was so proud of getting my hands on an issue, photocopying, and scanning it in, I just had to share it with y'all here. I consider this a personal library victory. Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Playing Comic Book Catch Up

So, as a result of the holiday season and subsequent return-to-work haze, I missed a few monthly titles I now need to spend some time this week tracking down. After doing a quick inventory in my apartment, I discovered the following titles from last month are missing: Teen Titans #4, Wolverine and the X-Men #3, and X-Factor #229.

Very surprised I managed to miss an issue of X-Factor. The cover looks familiar, but probably because Peter David blogged about it being a clever cover when it hit the internet a few months ago. Also, if you aren't reading Wolverine and the X-Men, start. It's a slam dunk every issue, and #4 out this month with a teenage Apocalypse is pretty rad.

I won't apologize for liking the new Teen Titans book. I just won't.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Out of Print Graphic Novels

Here's a bunch of out-of-print graphic novels currently sitting in my office.

Many of these might be given out this year for Free Comic Book Day

Friday, January 13, 2012

Raised by the Church: Growing Up in New York City’s Catholic Orphanages / Edward Rohs

A frank and informative look at one man’s experience growing up in parochial orphanages in and around New York during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Edward Rohs doesn’t remember his parents. They gave him up when before he could form any familiar recollection of them. Instead, his childhood was spent under the care of both the Sisters of Mercy and the Marianist Brothers, moving from one institution to the next as he aged out of each one. Along with fellow author Judith Estrine, Rohs gives a brief overview of the history of orphans in and around New York City before recounting his own experiences as one. He also provides backgrounds on the religious orders that helped raise him, including the rather fascinating tale of how the Sisters of Mercy came to New York from Ireland and ended up in Brooklyn. Rohs’ story is both thoughtful and shocking as he recounts everything from a stressful incident of racism at an institutional football game to his molestation by a religious man from a visiting order. His matter-of-fact style and glass half-is-full approach to writing makes it hard for readers not to empathize with his situation. The titles does falter, however, as he begins to list all his jobs accomplishments as an adult. This doesn’t seem to keep in line with his earlier purpose; recounting his experiences both prior to and post his institutional life.

An interesting and thought-provoking book that is sure to to grab the attention of anyone interested in orphans and early New York City life.

Raised by the Church by Edward Rohs with Judith Estrine. ISBN: 978-0823240227

Friday, January 6, 2012

Resolutions & Stuff

It's a new year! And it has been for six days! So I'm not going to do that whole thing where I wish you you a Happy You-Know-What, then you roll your eyes because... well, I'm way too late for the whole thing to matter. You can also tell it's a new year, since Facebook is planning on changing their interface again with a new 'Timeline' that is sure to give us all a heachache we won't soon forget.

I have two different books to read in the next two weeks, so I'll be busy with my face buried in those respective paperbacks. It's also kind of worth noting that the mid-season TV lineup has started again, at least with Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries. With the former, Rose Y. and I have resumed our podcast, so you can literally download us on iTunes (if you want). That is going to blow my mind. Every. Single. Time.

In serendipitous news, I did discover an ultimately unpublished review I thought that was lost forever for the Edward Rohs' book Raised by the Church. I'm hoping to post that in the next few days as a seperate review entry since otherwise, it never actually would see the light of day. I gave the book to my friend Alex who had a very emotional reaction to it. The book is good; it's a kind of sad tale, but touching nonetheless. And it really did give me a sense of how New York City was (especially Brooklyn) in a time long before I moved here. It's completely worth reading, and is written in a really accessible way.

School Library Journal is supposed to update their website today with new reviews. I have a sneaking suspicion that one of two pending reviews I have are up there, but we will have to wait until the end of the day to see. If you want the most up-to-date information on this development, be sure to hit up my Twitter feed @rybrarian.