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The Non-Marvel Action Hour – 05/27/09

July Solicitations. Reviews of new Secret Six and Wonder Woman, Books of Magic, and Atomic Robo.

News

July Solicitations

Blackest Night kicks off, as if you didn’t know. It’s eight issues at $4 a piece, forty-eight pages including ads (So, what… thirty-four story pages? Something like that). Then there are the seven miniseries, each three issues a piece. Only one in July, Tales of the Corps, which ships its issues over a three week period. They’re $4 for forty pages (presumably thirty story pages) each. The solicit makes it sound like this one is nonessential; background info for select characters in the crossover. If you’re looking for something to skip, you probably don’t need this to understand the main story. I could be wrong. There’s also Green Lantern, which ships two issues in July, and Green Lantern Corps, which won’t be skippable if you’re following the Event. Let’s do some guesstimating. If all the miniseries are $4 $3 an issue, GL and GLC stay at $3 (as they do in July), and both titles have eight tie-in issues with Blackest Night, which seems likely with the minis spread over seven months and all, you’ll spend…

$32 for the main series
$48 for the core series tying into the event
$63 for the official-type Event miniseries (though if they’re like Final Crisis, you’ll only need to read some of them)

For a total of $143. That’s assuming there are no tie-ins in regular issues of unrelated series.

Black Canary in Wonder Woman

Gleeheehee! Gail Simone’s writing Dinah again, if only for two issues. Must have.

Secret Six TPB

Vol. 1 of the regular series comes out in August. Seven issues for $15. If you don’t have it, get it. If you have it, I don’t need to tell you it makes a great gift.

$1 Special Editions

DC are reprinting select issues in another of their attempts to boost readership. The first issues of Green Lantern: Rebirth, Y: The Last Man, Tom Strong, and All-Star Superman, as well as Batman #608 (first part of Hush) will all see cheap reprints in July. Not bad, though I already bought a couple of those for less. That’s the drawback here. Most of these were heavily ordered the first time out, and they’re all collected in trades, so it’s not hard to find the stories if you want them. Still, cheap comics. Can’t hate that.

North 40

A new Wildstorm miniseries from Aaron Williams, who is best known for humor titles like ps238 and Nodwick, with art by Fiona Staples. This won’t be as lighthearted, but I’m tempted to pick it up on the strength of his previous work. There’s an excellent chance it’ll be the best thing in the Wildstorm stable for the six months it lasts. I’ll be surprised if sales convince DC to turn it into an ongoing, as nothing under the Wildstorm banner sells. However, that means DC won’t be expecting much from it. If it can hang around the 10-15k range, it’ll be up there with Authority and the rest of the overlooked imprint. Then it’s less a question of DC wanting to keep publishing North 40 than it is about wanting to keep Wildstorm going as a whole. Once Ex Machina wraps, 2010ish, they should take a hard look at it. There’s no apparent interest in the old superhero brands, and series like this one could be folded into Vertigo.

Not sure why it wasn’t to start with. It’s supposedly a horror comic, with magic and monsters. Perhaps, just as Williams was only granted a six-issue commitment for a concept with longterm potential, Wildstorm was a consolation prize.

Greek Street

Another new Vertigo title, another $1 first issue. This is Peter Milligan telling tales of Ancient Greece set in modern day London. It’ll be crazy and probably good.

Unknown Soldier TPB

Another newish Vertigo title, another cheap trade. First six issues for $10. Not as knock-me-over-with-a-feather good as the Madame Xanadu deal, but a cheap way to start on the series.

Fables Deluxe HC

The first ten issues for $30, due in September. Better deal than you usually get with hardcovers, but $7 more than the softcover equivalent. The twelfth trade is also solicited, due in August, collecting seven issues for $18.

Reviews

Employee’s Pick

Books of Magic 14

[DC] Books of Magic Vol. 2 #12-14
Writer: John Ney Rieber
Pencilers: Peter Snejbjerg (issues 12 &13), Peter Gross (issue 14)

Small Glass Worlds is the two part follow-up to Artificial Heart. You might say it’s a five part story, but there’s a clear delineation between the two. At best, this could be called an epilogue, or post-climax falling action. Slaggingham defeated, his underground misery factory starts to flood, and Tim must escape. Auberon must also, but being without his soul, doesn’t realize that. Aboveground, Daniel lurks about while Molly and Marya wait for Tim, and Titania comes for Auberon.

Tim continues to do his best to angst up the comic, taking everything the worst way he can, including a revelation about his mother that should have proven good news. Maybe Molly should find someone who’s not so high maintenance. The problem with wanting to help people is that people need so much help. It has to come from someone, but you can wear yourself out trying to make one person happy and whole. If you don’t, there’s always another. Auberon gets help he wasn’t looking for, from unlikely sources and a bit from himself.

As sullen as he likes to be, Tim lives in a world of magic, and we learn that he’s so powerful, everything he’s ever believed in is real. Imaginary friends, boogeymen, half-truths and wholesome lies. That comes into play with his escape from underground, and afterwards when he calls on a creature he invented to take care of “the useless,” cast aside possessions that Timothy no longer needed. He tasks this creature, Wobbly, with the removal of his father, Bill’s derelict car, which no longer serves a purpose other than to keep Bill depressed.

Tim does that weird, accidental thing he does again, where he turns enemies to allies without half trying. This time it’s Gwendolyn, previously employed in stealing souls, who tracked Tim down to get Auberon’s back and has decided not to be evil anymore. Seeing as Tim’s a teenager, his mother’s dead, and his father’s in the hospital recovering from severe burns and immense self-pity, he wants for a guardian. Gwen turns out to be surprisingly motherly, and after Bill comes home, she sticks around a while.

New-Type Books

Secret Six 8

[DC] Secret Six Vol. 4 #8

Writer: Gail Simone
Pencilers: Carlos Rodriguez (main story), Amanda Gould (Ragdoll Dreams)

Do you ever find yourself reading a story, hoping it will end because you can’t believe it can stay this good the whole way? and it keeps going, and it gets better? This is one of those.

After their epic seven-part opening arc, the team have earned a day off. What better way to spend it than on a double date? Scandal runs into the stripper from issue one, and Jeannette makes her move on Deadshot. Sorry, DeadCat fans. Keep hope alive!

Speed Ragdoll

The rest of the story involves the foursome trying not to kill anyone for one night. Rodriguez does a passable job as fill-in artist, handling the action scenes well, but I’ll be glad to have Scott back. The main story is followed by three pages of intense cuteness; Tiny Titans viewed through the lense of Ragdoll’s twisted mind. I have to assume this series hasn’t been nominated for an Eisner because it hasn’t yet qualified. There is no other possibility in a rational world. Next year, this starts racking up trophies at a Fables-like rate, or they might as well throw the whole shebang out.

Wonder Woman 30

[DC] Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #30
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Aaron Lopresti

Simone’s in a groove now. We’re smack in the middle of the story, typically where you’d have a lull, but these past two issues have been the best of the lot. Subplots aplenty moving forward. The birth of the Olympian, the male Wonder Woman, who’s surprisingly cool so far. The welcome return of the Amazons, stronger and more unified than ever. And a heaping helping of buttwhooping from Wondy, who goes to town on the Secret Society of Super-Villains.

Wonderdoom

Back Issues

None this week.

Trade

[Red 5] Atomic Robo Vol. 1
Writer: Brian Clevinger
Artist: Scott Wegener

Robo gets going in a hurry, plunging straight into action and not letting up. Pages whiz past, each story bleeding into the next, and before you know it, you’re at the end. Along the way, we learn a bit about the title character, his origins, his past, his personality. Invented by Nikola Tesla, Atomic Robo is a robot so sophisticated that his brain might as well be human. There’s a running subplot about famous scientists who are more than rivals with Tesla and Robo. Not much is explained about that, which fits the general air of the series.

Science Fact

It’s not terribly deep. If you’re looking for serious drama, look elsewhere. The focus here is on action and humor. People die, but it’s incidental. The issue of robot rights and whether they deserve to be treated equally to humans is only touched upon briefly. Robo isn’t sanitized to the point that it’s overly kid-friendly, but it does avoid gore and extreme violence. There’s no cussing or sexual references, humorous, serious, or faux-humorous. It manages to be more mature than the average comic that does include such things.

It’s not groundbreaking. A wisecracking robot who fights science with science. He has a team of “fightin’ scientists” with him, which basically makes this another BPRD, without the paranormal angle. That is, if you don’t count giant ants, rampaging pyramids, or immortal nazis as paranormal. Some of it’s explained with pseudoscience, some is lampshaded as impossible, and some of it just is. Again, it’s not deep.

not nuke

What it is is very, very good. Ideas are nothing without proper execution, and Clevinger and Wegener execute their concept extremely well. Laughter and explosions the whole way through. I’ve only read this and the FCBD special, and I’m already hankering for an Atomic Robo action figure. If this were at one of the Big Two, I’d soon be whining about how no one bought it and it got cancelled for being too awesome. Being at a small publisher means lowered expectations and allows it to survive as a series of miniseries rather than an ongoing monthly. So, like Scott Pilgrim and Empowered, but in issue form first with a trade later on.

Truncation

Books of Magic – Business as usual.
Secret Six – Insignificus for best new character of ’09.
Wonder Woman – Kick ass.
Atomic Robo – One of the best reasons to look outside the Big Two for your comics fix.

 


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1 thought on “The Non-Marvel Action Hour – 05/27/09

  1. I love what simone is doing right now on Wonder Woman and Secret Six. I wonder how long it will be until we get a ‘secret origins’ issue for Jeanette. I’m really curious about this character.

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