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For The Love of Comics – Seven to Eternity!!!

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Yup. Rick Remender’s new book Seven to Eternity is out today. And guess what? If you didn’t realize it, if you hadn’t already read this, it’s Mr. Remender once again teaming up with Jerome Opena, the artist that, to me, best captured the awesome scope of Rick’s run on Uncanny X-Force a few years back. So I am PSYCHED!!!

Also, should be noted, there are several awesome variant covers (I don’t normally go for that kind of thing and I’ll still only buy one, but it’s nice to see so much great art on the book’s face!) and if you live in southern California Mr. Remender is signing the book and probably anything else over at Manhattan Beach’s The Comic Bug. Still the best damn shop this side of Chicago for my money…

Thee Comic Column #136: Rick Remender’s Year of Creator-Owned Comics

DeadlyClass_12Recently I fell behind in my comics. Due to extenuating personal circumstances I found myself repeatedly unable to get into the shop and pick up my pull. This lasted for a while – almost two agonizing months to be specific! Near the end it became a self-perpetuating problem, as week after week I realized that the amount of cash I was going to need to empty my box at Manhattan Beach’s amazing Comic Bug was growing into a monster. Finally I found myself with a spare $100 bill (how often does that happen?) and I walked in and traded that sucker – or $97 of it – for everything I had missed since the beginning of June. As you might imagine, it’s taking me all the spare time in a busy weekend to put a dent in this pile. This was especially true when, in the backs of both the latest issues of Deadly Class and Black Science, writer Rick Remender made with the best comic-related news imaginable: He is taking a break from writing at Marvel Comics and spending the next year focusing on his creator-owned series.

Thee Comic Column #127: The Art of the Letters Column

ScanAh, the letters column. Sometimes I wonder if it had more of an impact on the comic book world – or maybe just comic book readers – back before the advent of the Internet and email, when fans of a book wrote their questions, comments and musings out by hand, sent them to the address specified on the last page of their favorite books and waited to see if theirs would be one of the dispatches picked for publication/response. Or perhaps sending an email is just as time consuming, personally revealing and weighted with anticipation. Either way, letters columns are a beloved industry standard, but one that I myself had gotten away from reading quite some time ago. Why? I’m not really sure. However, this has slowly been changing and yesterday, during an illness-inspired confinement to bed, I read my way through the new issues of several comics that all have very impressive letters pages and you know what? Something was reignited in me. I’ll place the responsibility for this final realization squarely in the hands of Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus, which probably has the best letters page ever. But there are more books than that which, on a monthly basis, have been slowly eroding whatever prejudice I long ago developed for something I used to love. That’s right true believers, I don’t think I’ll be trying for a No-Prize anytime soon, but I am whole-heartedly back on the “Must Read the Letters Column” wagon from here on out.

Thee Comic Column: Goodbye Marvel Universe Hello… Battleworld?

NEOeY2HqTwZgSS_1_3It is not a coincidence that my previous column outlined my plans to leave Marvel Comics as a monthly reader and then a scant two weeks later we get the massive announcement that the House of Ideas is destroying their 75 year-old Universe – as well as their 15 year old Ultimate Universe – in a major continuity upheaval come May. No, that was not a coincidence at all. My inner comics circle know I kinda called this after juxtaposing second hand information about Jonathan Hickman’s current “World’s Collide” storyline in his Avengers books with the very ‘real’ sentiment Marvel editorial staff seemed to be approaching the recent Death of Wolverine storyline with. However, though leaving the Marvel fold so to speak, I do not do so with the vitriol some have bore this world-rending news. I simply see this moment as what my friend Louis has called a perfect “jumping off point”. Am I upset? Outraged? No, not really. Am I skeptical? Perhaps, but maybe more than anything else I am actually quite confused at how I have interpreted the news and intend to use this week’s column to jot down my own thoughts for the first time and really get to the bottom of how I – an essentially life-long Marvel fan – feel about the company razing all that has come before and carrying on in a new direction.

Thee Comic Column #114: My Favorite Comics of 2014

a-voice-in-the-dark-04Wow. I read a lot of comics this year. Not just the stuff I’ve been reading, continually from year to year (there’s less and less of that with ‘classic’ titles/characters as reboots continue to constantly re-boot, rejuvenate (?) and re-evaluate the ongoing properties of the big 2) but there was a literal flood of great, new comics that hit the shelves this year. And some old friends of course; not everyone is interesting in covering up old scars. And even with all that I did read it’s clear I didn’t get to them all – reading fellow Joupitter Tommy’s year end blow-out spectacular I was shocked to see his favorite was Spread. Shocked because, well, I don’t remember even hearing about this book! Couple with that quite a few other titles on my radar that I missed out on and you’ll see this isn’t  a list compiled by someone who read everything there was to read in the 2014 world of comics, but by someone who tried really hard to read as much of it as he could. All that said, this list isn’t only for new books, simply the best comic series I read in 2014, continuing or new.

Thee Comic Column #105: AXIS

uncannyavengers4f-onslaughtGenerally, I try to stay away from Event books. That’s not very difficult with DC as I’m largely unfamiliar with the subtler points of their history and I don’t read any of their regular books on an ongoing basis – never really have. With Marvel however it can be tough. The appeal of massive, world-changing events always draws me in at least a little bit, and over the last decade or so the House of Ideas seems to have become dedicated to the creed that there should always be an Event happening. Secret Invasion, Fear Itself, Original Sin… the list of shake-ups to the Marvel Universe is endless and mostly, in the long-run limp. I always follow from afar and yeah, these stories almost always sound interesting, but they also regularly fail to deliver at the moment of truth, i.e. the ending. Things never change as much as the situations would seem to dictate and everything more or less goes back to normal. And yet despite my bias against Events, when I first caught wind of Rick Remender’s Axis I knew I’d be breaking my “No Event Book” policy and diving in head first. Why?

Thee Comic Column #102: Black Science Returns

BlackScience7coverUnbelievable that I have not yet addressed this book in these pages, especially since Rick Remender has grown to be pretty much my favorite non-Grant Morrison writer over the last two years. All his books – whether for Marvel or his creator-owned stuff Image is currently putting out by the truckload (Yay!) – are fantastic; Mr. Remender treats iconic, cannon characters like Wolverine, Rogue, Janet Pym and Thor with not only the utmost respect but also the restraint of a Claremont; the cash cows don’t need to be the focal point of every story in a team book. He also has that je ne sais quoi that Morrison has, the one that enables him to construct fresh and intriguing approaches to otherwise vapid characters. He’s done this numerous times, whether it’s using X23 and the *ahem* female Ghostrider from a few years ago – quite effectively I might add – in a Venom storyline; making Wonderman a part of the Uncanny Avengers Unity squad or resurrecting that godawful Onslaught visage from one of the worst late 90s X-Men storylines for the upcoming AXIS event, Rick Remender has proven he has the chops to deconstruct possibly any character, examine what makes them tick (or not tick) and then put them back together inside the multi-faceted embrace of a fantastic story, ready to do their part and help carry the weight of some of the most involved and epic storytelling to grace superhero books in decades. Conversely, when we look at the man’s creator-owned series we find that there are no weak links, and it’s here that RR doesn’t have to challenge himself to update or bolster weak characters. No, in Deadly Class, Low and Black Science Mr. Remender just has to tell an outstanding story. And frankly, that is exactly what he does. Every time. Especially in Black Science.

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