Monday, February 28, 2011

Comics at the Den

If you're reading this, then we got through a pretty important step in our comic inventory process last week. I'll spare you the details, only to say that it's something I've been working towards since Day One last April and is a biiiiiiiig check-off on the 'ol to-do-list. Glad that one's done, and thanks to all the employees who helped last Sunday.

I'm in the middle of planning at least 3 different comic- and pop-culture-related events for the 2nd quarter of 2011. I know David and Sean are working on some fun stuff, too, it's really a great time to be working and/or shopping at the store. It's all things we've wanted to do for awhile, but haven't really had the resources to properly dedicate to seeing them done. My hope is that all three of these events are completely locked-in by mid-March, at which point I can finally get the other Big Monster on my To-Do list checked off: the back issues. If those are done by April 1st... Scott will be a happy man. No, really, I know how to be happy. (Quiet, Alex.)

And in the midst of all this, comes one of my favorite times of year: Spring Training. All the baseball players are reporting to camp, which means it's time for me to start drafting my fantasy baseball leagues. Crazy time right now, but I love it, I really do.

Also, we just moved the store around. Heh.

Moving on.


New Thor Trailer out last week, and this movie is looking better and better each time I see a new trailer. Which reminds me, we're out of Thor hammers.

I say thee, Nay! Or Yay. Whichever you like, really.


I am a huge, huge 100 Bullets fan, and if you've never read this modern noir/conspiracy classic, then you're really missing out. The writing is tight, and the art is luscious. There's something about the Vertigo brand that brings out One Great Work, from every writer who's written for the imprint. Warren Ellis had Transmetropolitan, Garth Ennis had Preacher, Grant Morrisson had.. jeez, Invisible, Doom Patrol, We3, Alan Moore had Swamp Thing. And that doesn't even include the current generation of writers: Jason Aaron is knocking it out of the park on Scalped, Brian Wood has DMZ and Northlanders, Bill Willingham is at issue #102 of Fables... the list goes on and on.

But seeing that Azzarello and Eduard Risso are teaming up for what looks to be a sci-fi series called SPACEMAN? Yeah, my inner sci-fi nerd just went ballistic.

I. Cannot. Wait.


So, Nathan Fillion comes out and says that if he won the lottery, he'd buy back the rights to Firefly and create new episodes on the Internet. If you're a fan of Firefly, you can only imagine how absolutely crazy people went. Facebook pages, pledge drives, twitter feeds, the whole nine yards. And we're not done yet. Browncoats know the truth:

No power in the 'verse can stop us.

We're (doing) the impossible, and that makes us mighty.

Go. Click. Now.


I love these Marvel teasers. Colossus is one of my all-time favorite characters, so any face-time for that character makes me a happy man. Anyone recognize what he's holding above his head? Here's a hint: "Nothing can stop..."


I recently sat down and read the entirety of Red Robin. If you can get past the weak title and the costume, this is a really, really good book.

Tim has always been one of the stronger members of the Bat-family. His introductory story - the classic Lonely Place of Dying - introduced the idea that Batman needed (a) Robin to keep Batman from going "too far", or getting "too dark". It was a simple concept, and 20+ years later, it still holds true.

The premise of Red Robin is that Tim Drake doesn't believe that Bruce is truly dead, and begins a worldwide search to find proof. See, noone else (Dick, Alfred, Babs) believes him, so he strikes out on his own. With the financial resources of Bruce Wayne's fortune at his disposal, his quest takes him to Europe, where he immediately runs into one of Batman's oldest and deadliest villains.

If there's one flaw in the first twelve issues, it's the overuse of flashbacks. Reading this comic month-to-month can't compare to reading it in one chunk. Fortunately, the new creative team at issue #13 minimizes the flashbacks, and continues the solid work done by JT Krul & co.

One of the strengths of the book is the great supporting cast. Fabian Nicieza builds on the work done by the original writers, and continues the great character work on favorites both old and new. Some of my favorite scenes came between Tim and Damien. Their mutual loathing and disgust is a lot of fun, and it was nice to see two heroes who honestly dislike each other.

If you've ever liked Tim Drake, Red Robin's the book for you. It's fun, it's dense, it ties in to the Bat mythology very well, and it's a solid read. Recommended.


Okay, I wasn't going to show this, but remember when I said I'm working on a couple popculture-related projects? Here's a hint about one of them:

See you next week.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Deck Building Games:

Deck Building games are one of the newer genres for gaming. The concept of a deck building game is not that you have to go out and purchase additional product to build and play, but you buy the game and during the game you acquire more cards to build a deck. Now, almost every one of the games has an expansion or two, but you do not have to purchase them unless you really want to.

Several different companies have now made their own Deck Building game, and each one has a slightly different twist and allows players to enjoy different options. Here is a brief list if you are interested in checking out a new game:

Dominion: Rio Grande Games
Thunderstone: AEG
     Wrath of the Elements
     Doomgate Legion
Ascension: Gary Games
Goblin Supremacy (GOSU): Moonster Games
Resident Evil: Ban Dai
     New Expansion Coming Soon
Nightfall: AEG (Releasing Soon)

We are hoping that one day we will get some advanced copies of release so we can test them out and post some more information, but for now we will post what we can and hopefully get some more players excited to try a new game!

Sean "Striderlotr" Banks

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dwayne McDuffie February 20, 1962 – February 21, 2011

(I had a post queued up for this week, but somethings things change. -Scott)

One day after turning 49, industry icon Dwayne McDuffie passed away due to complications during surgery.

Known for his work in comics, tv, and animation, McDuffie was a long-time advocate for better representation of minorities. His work on the Justice League cartoon is beloved by fans of both tv and comics, and heralded as one of the great JLA stories of all time. The success of the cartoon is such that an entire generation of fans thinks of John Stewart as Green Lantern, not Hal or Kyle.

His influence in comics was equally profound. As one of the founders of Milestone Comics, McDuffie was instrumental in creating the character Static, who later got his own tv show, Static Shock.Through Milestone and Static, McDuffie used his career to introduce more diversity into comics; more people of color, more stories involving them, and better stories with them. This was a theme of McDuffie's work: diversity.

Besides his work on tv and with Milestone, McDuffie also wrote for Marvel and DC Comics, including the fan-favorite Damage Control.

Stories being told today speak of his generosity towards fans who'd approach him at con's, and the up-and-coming pro's who would reach out to him for advice. He was a creative icon with a passion and love of the characters that have entertained generations of comic fans. He leaves behind an industry full of those who'd benefited from his advice and his drive, and will be forever remembered as a trailblazer, in an industry that never has enough of them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Last Week in Comics

Make with the clickies, people. Last week was chock-full of comic and pop-culture-related goodness.

MOVIES: Want a cast picture of the "oh my god, it really is going to start filming, isn't it" The Hobbit? Don't say I don't love you:

The Fellowship of the Hobbit

COMICS: Once upon a time, two guys by the name of Kurt and Alex created a comic called MARVELS. That was in 1993, and it still holds up as a great story, and an example of the power of the medium. Reuniting again for the first time, Busiek and Ross get their hands on a number of Jack Kirby's public-domain super-hero creations and are going to have a blast in KIRBY:GENESIS, published by Dynamite.

Kirby+ Busiek + Ross = Genius

COMICS: Brian Bendis has announced he doesn't think he writes enough monthly comics! Just-kidding-but-not-really. Re-uniting with DAREDEVIL artist Alex Maleev, the duo are re-launching Moon Knight. Moon Knight is one of my favorite B-list/C-list heroes, and it sounds like Bendis is going to be ignoring MK's history with Khonshu, and spending more time on the split-personality aspects of the beleaguered hero. Not sure how I feel about that yet, I always liked the tortured Egyptian hero storylines. Either way, I'll definitely be giving the first issue a read to see how it comes off!

Moon Knight moves to LA. No, really.

TOYS: McFarlane Toys makes Walking Dead figures. What, you don't think that's cool? Communists, all of you.

You know you want to see what they look like

COMICS: The solicitous solicitation for Flashpoint #1 has been released. I'm not concretely certain what the plan for this series is; it feels like AGE OF APOCALYPSE for the DC Universe. And let's be honest, AoA was absolutely awesome, so if you're going to sensuously steal someone else's idea that's a good place to start.

I love alliteration.

INTERVIEW: I love Joe Casey. One of my favorite writers, he has a distinct voice and vision. He's written all the major characters at one point or another, from Uncanny X-Men to his sublime Superman run. He's one of the writers behind the uber-popular Ben 10 tv show, so any comic writing he does now is out of love, not financial necessity; those Ben 10 guys are all  swimming in vaults of gold coins like Uncle Scrooge. He pops his head out of Hollywood once or twice a year to do an interview in which he usually says something completely outrageous, and then disappears again. He's like Alan Moore, but younger, less bitter, and without the beard. Casey's new series, BUTCHER BAKER, looks completely deranged and I can't wait to read it.

Go. Read.

COMICS & ART: X-men fans, go to town with this one.

Can you name them all?

COMICS: Four weeks to go. Find out how it all begins.

REMINDER: The Dragon's Den is on Facebook  and on Twitter, too.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Looking Ahead: April Comics

[Looking Ahead is a monthly column where Scott scours Previews and highlights new and upcoming comics]

Greetings, earthlings! Lots of great stuff coming out, so let's get into it.

- The Fear Itself Prologue kicks off in March, followed by the first issue in April. This is Marvel's first major event since Secret Invasion, and they've put together a stellar creative team in Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen. The storyline features the Red Skull's daughter, Sin, and the ancient Norse God of Evil. I'm happy that Fraction, who's become one of Marvel's go-to guys, and Immonen who is a workhorse and knows how to get product out on time, are working together. This is most likely going to be one of the two biggest events of the year.

Other Marvel Titles:

- Speaking of Matt Fraction, Thor relaunches with a new #1. I can imagine a couple people rolling their eyes right now, saying "Another #1 from Marvel? What a surprise." I can't lie, I feel the same way sometimes, but this is a book where you want to jump-on, not jump-off. The fact that Oliver Copiel is returning to Thor after a prolonged absence makes me very happy. His work with JMS for the first two years was stellar, and he's come a very long way since his Legion work for DC (see below).

- One of my favorite parts of the MU over the last couple years has been the Cosmic books. Annihilation, Annihlation Conquest, War of Kings and the recently-ended and supremely-awesome Thanos Imperative. Now, the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (aka DnA) are back with The Annihilators. Think of it as a group of ultra-powerful Cosmic Avengers, taking on the Dire Wraiths from the old Rom and the Spaceknights books. Yes, it is going to be that cool.

- Another book that may have dropped under your radar is the 5-issue Silver Surfer mini-series. While the Surfer has never been the most popular of characters or considered an "A-lister", he's the Herald of Galactus and that makes him a force to be reckoned with. Greg Pak is writing this series, and Pak is responsible for two of the best Hulk stories in years: Planet Hulk and World War Hulk.

Some very cool Marvel graphic novels being solicited:

- Thor: For Asgard is a treasure. Written by Robert Rodi and drawn by Simone Bianchi, this Thor mini-series flew under the radar due to all the other Thor products being released. Don't miss out! Robert Rodi also wrote the wonderful Loki story that's being re-printed in February as Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers. 

- Thunderbolts Classics Volume 1 was a great series written by Kurt Busiek about a group of super-villains masquerading to the world as super-heroes. I'm psyched to see this back in-print.

- Marvel goes old-school with X-Men Lifedeath and Spider-man The Death of Jean DeWolff, both published in their Hardcover Premiere Format.

Diving deeper into Previews, I found some real gems.:

- From Dark Horse Comics, Dark Horse Presents returns! The legendary anthology is back, with a sneak peek of Frank Miller's prequel to 300, Xerxes.

- Alan Moore: Storyteller features interviews, art, photos, and an audio cd by the legendary writer.

- There is a plethora of all-ages material being published every month. From Fraggle Rock Volume 2 to Boom! Studio's numerous Mickey Mouse softcovers to all the Archie material, there's a tremendous amount of great product available.

- Speaking of Mickey Mouse, long-time independent publisher Fantagraphics has acquired the license to some of the Mouse's earliest works. Published in a similar format as The Complete Peanuts, Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Volume 1: "Race to Death Valley" is going to be the first of many reprints of this great material.

- In the mid-80's, Berkeley Breathed created a talking penguin named Opus and somehow turned his strip Bloom County into one of the great political newspaper comics of all time. Volume 4 of the Bloom County Complete Library has Steve Dallas getting his back broken by Actor Sean Penn. Ah, the 80's. Ack! Pthpw!

- Finally.  I have waited an eternity for these Legion stories to come out. A little back-story first: I was never a big Legion of Super-heroes fan (sorry, diehards); The large cast of characters, the epic back-story, it was all too intimidating. My personal tastes also veered towards stories that had a little edge to them, and the Legion always seemed bright and happy and cheerful.

Around ten years ago, DC decided that the Legion needed a shake-up, so they hired DnA and Oliver Copiel to wreak havoc on the LSH. Reprinted under the DC Comics Presents format, we see the first arc of their tremendous Legion run, Legion of the Damned, brought back in-print. When a Borg-like menace from deep space takes control of most of Earth and most of the Legion, the few remaining Legionairres are pushed to their limits in an effort to free their friends and everyone on earth from captivity. Featuring some of the first Big-Two work by Oliver Copiel.

The Legion of the Damned arc continues in one of my all-time favorite stories, Legion Lost. A group of Legion members are separated from their home galaxy in a freak accident. Lost, alone, and despondent, they're forced to find their way in alien space. As the 12-issue mini-series progresses, the team falls apart until the very end, when they're forced to face their very worst nightmare... and I'm not going to tell you what that is, because that'd just be cheating. You don't need to be a Legion fan to enjoy these stories.  Legion Lost will be published as a hardcover and comes with my highest "if you like science-fiction, the Legion, a great story, or any combination of the three" recommendation.