Weekly Want List – May 23rd, 2011

The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde #2

We’re look at a slow week for comics which is great for my wallet.  I’ve got a brilliant Memorial Day Weekend coming up with my beautiful girlfriend in the great white north, aka Cheboygan, so I won’t be spending too much moolah on comics come Wednesday.  That being said, these are the books that I want.

Dark Horse Comics
The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde #2 – Any time a writer/artist attempts to expand or transform a classic piece of literature from the public domain into comics, I’ll be there to read it.  I can only hope that issue #2 is just as great as #1!

DC Comics
Green Lantern #66 – It’s gosh darn Green Lantern isn’t it?  I’M GETTING IT!  Though just as an aside, this is probably my least favorite of the three series.

Green Lantern Corps #60 – See above minus the last sentence.

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #10 – See above.

Image Comics
Super Dinosaur #2 – Michigander Jason Aaron is penciling this bad boy, and I liked issue #1, so this’ll definitely be a purchase!  Gotta support Mitten artists!

Marvel Comics
The Incredible Hulks #629 – I like Hulk taking on magic and I can’t wait to see what happens with Betty.  While I think Bruce needs to get out more and see other women, yeah I know that’s hard because all the women he loves eventually bite it, it’s fun watching him deal with the She-Hulk side of his ex-wife.

Mighty Thor #2 – Olivier Coipel penciling Thor = ‘Nuff said.

Uncanny X-Men #537 – I have an unbroken run of Uncanny X-Men from issue 300-something and that’s not changing any time in the near future.

X-Men: Legacy #249 – I’ll see where this one goes, but I can’t promise that I’ll buy it.

Weekly Wish List
The Anthology Project vol. 2 – I was absolutely blown away by the quality of volume 1.  It wasn’t just that the comics were wonderful, they were, but the book was beautifully made as well and it’s just a pleasure to hold and look at.  I can’t afford to throw $30 at a hardcover anthology right now, but if I could I would totally be picking this up.

Book of Lilah – I don’t know anything about this book, which is a crying shame because the cover is pretty and the premise sounds interesting.  A girl has to save the Keepers, a group of benevolent knowledge gatherers that aids the evolution of mankind.  I want it, but a $9 graphic novel just isn’t in the cards right now 😦

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Moriarty: The Dark Chamber #1 Review

Moriarty: The Dark Chamber #1

Great public domain literature adaptations redefine our understanding of classic universes and the characters contained within.  Alan Moore’s re-imagining of British heroes and villains in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and so many other works draw us in because they tease a decidedly different rendition of a tale or character we’re intimately aware of.  We want to be surprised by a new take on our favorite classics and we’re excited to see where the authors might take them.

Moriarty: The Dark Chamber #1, written by Daniel Corey with artist Anthony Diecidue, takes the great detective’s arch-enemy down a road we’ve yet seen him travel: the way of the hero.  It wouldn’t work as well as it does if Corey had simply cast him headlong into a suit of shining armor though.  Rather he sets the stage for a compelling tale of criminal intrigue set just before the woes of World War I.  There’s a bit of political unrest, a dab of the supernatural, and a mystery just big enough to end the Professor’s self-imposed exile from the dark underbelly of the world he once ran.

The story takes place 20 years after Sherlock Holme’s death, and the Professor is working odd jobs for the petty criminals of London.  He’s a shade of his former villainous self.  Without the detective, where’s the challenge?  While some of the narrative runs dry at times, Moriarty himself is exceptionally well written.  The character is calculating, driven, dangerous, egotistical, and incredibly self-aware.

I was intrigued most by Corey’s display of Moriarty’s deductive abilities.  Unlike a lot of other pseudo-detective stories in comics, in which the hero finds clues but only reveals the solution to the mystery at the end (the typical “parlor scene”), you actually witness the Professor’s powerful mind working through certain situations with terrifying clarity.  Using his masterful deductive reasoning abilities he discerns intimate details of a man just by looking at his handwriting.  These episodes are fun to read because you feel as though you’re there standing beside Moriarty, seeing what he sees and uncovering the secrets with him.

Anthony Diecidue puts you next to Moriarty with his awesome pencils and wonderful line work.  His hatching adds a dingy aura to the pages, and the colors, a palette of blacks, grays, and browns, only enhance the dreary, rundown feel of London and her denizens.  Occasionally the inks seem to vary in width for no particular reason, as in one panel Moriarty will be realized with thin fine lines, while in another directly next to it he’ll be blocky and almost misshapen, penned into existence by a much thicker instrument.

Unfortunately with such a drab, atmospheric color scheme nothing jumps off the panel.  It sets the tone but doesn’t draw the eye.  However, when events explode later in the issue Diecidue experiments with a brilliant gamma green that really lights up the page and hopefully indicates more brilliant color work later in the series.

Moriarty: The Dark Chamber #1 is an absolutely solid first issue.  Corey and Diecidue mined material from one of the most celebrated literary universes in history and do Sir Doyle’s ultimate villain justice, all while crafting a comic with a unique flavor all its own.  I can’t wait to see more.

The Art of War’s Kelly Roman Talks a Little China

I’ve been talking a lot with Kelly Roman, a friend who’s been busy writing a graphic novel, The Art of War, with his artist counterpart Michael Deweese for these past 5 years.  Specifically, we’ve been conversing about his influences for the book and how the recent media explosion surrounding Action Comics #900 could lead to more mainstream media stories on “socially relevant” comics.

In this short interview we talk about Kelly’s thoughts on China as a world power, an issue I can safely say he’s mildly obsessed about, his inspirations for The Art of War, and comics and politics.

I Speak Comics: First, could you explain what The Art of War is about?

Kelly: On a deeper level it’s a story about how vengeance still leaves you emptyhanded.   From a plot perspective, the book takes place in the future when Wall Street is militarized and China is the dominant economy.  Our hero follows his murdered brother’s footsteps and goes to work for Sun Tzu, who oversees China’s investments around the world. I think the book is a meditation on how successfully waging war is about making your opponent exhaust his resources.  There’s a strange addiction to the fight instinct, even though it destroys us.

ISC: What were your inspirations for the book?

K: China’s rise as a superpower. The Art of War was written 2500 years ago in China, and boy we’ve been seeing it play out, even if we don’t realize it.  Their economy is going to surpass ours in 2016 according to the IMF.  That’s not far in the future.

ISC: Specifically, what current events do you think give credence to the overt Chinese influences portrayed in your graphic novel?  You show Times Square transformed by traditional Chinese architecture and such.

K: I use visual metaphor to raise questions, not to show you a photograph of the future.  I depict Chinatown as 50 times its current size in Manhattan. It’s a metaphor. And there are Chinatowns in every major city of the US.  Did you know that today, in reality, the Chinese government is looking at buying Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae? My images point to that reality.

ISC: Would you call this a cautionary tale for the United States?  Was it ever intended as such?

K: There is something politically seductive about China, because they appear to be very patient and measured and thoughtful in their approach.  But we also need to remember that they brutally repress voices of dissent.  And we need to remember that they have an enormous, sometimes nationalistic population that requires access to vast natural resources.   People like to take comfort in the size and strength of the US military, but a military like ours is not sustainable.  We are already seeing Republicans concede that military cuts will need to occur if we are to have a viable economy.  That used to be unheard of.

ISC: Recently, we saw the American media explode over Superman renouncing his US citizenship in Action Comics #900.  Whether it was canon or not, possible presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee blasted the Man of Steel for his actions.  It was a great example of how comics can influence the media and expose social opinions and ideas.  Do you think that The Art of War is poised to do the same thing?

K: Just like immigration, China is going to be a main focus of the 2012 presidential election, and HarperCollins (my US publisher) are I are going to do our best to insert The Art of War into the conversation. I launched a YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/racecardriver, where I’m posting videos of average Americans sharing their thoughts about China becoming the most powerful nation on Earth.  And there’s a free 50 page sample from the graphic novel on the book’s website (http://www.theartofwargraphicnovel.com/) that people can read and, I hope, use to help understand the world we are living in.

ISC: Do you think it’s ironic that you’re using The Art of War, an ancient Chinese manuscript, something that is in fact very “Chinese,” in a narrative that brings to light the looming threat of China as the world’s most powerful nation?

K: I don’t see it as ironic, so much as straightforward.  There’s nothing ironic about a gun’s instructional manual describing how to fire the gun.

Read The Art of War 3-chapter sample here

Follow The Art of War’s protagonist Kelly Roman on Twitter here

And don’t forget to like him on Facebook here

Weekly Want List – May 11, 2009

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #518
Cinderella: Fables are Forever #4

What’s up everybody, not much to say this week besides some comics are coming out that I’m pretty geeked for, especially Hellboy and Cinderella.  check it!

Dark Horse Comics
Hellboy: Being Human (One-Shot) – Richard Corben and a story with Hellboy and Roger?  Done and done!

IDW Comics
Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars #1 – I don’t know anything about this book but the cover looks cool, there are yetis, and hopefully tons of ridiculous action.  If it’s worth it I’ll do a full review of the book this week.

Image Comics
Chew #27 – Gosh darn it, Chew is so darn intriguing but every issue is so unfulfilling.  It just keeps hinting and teasing at stuff, but I need more!

Moriarty #1 – Just looks great!  Ever since Alan Moore introduced Moriarty in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen I’ve noticed a bunch of Sherlock Holmes material hit funny books.  Whether or not that’s actually the case… Regardless, it looks cool.

Marvel Comics
Astonishing X-Men #37 – X-Men vs. Fin Fang Foom!?!  AWWW YEEAAHHHH!

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #518 – This series is awesome.  The art is incredible, Francesco Francevilla really outdoes himself.  I love this book.

Incredible Hulks #628 – I’m more a fan of the Hulk vs. Myths than anything that the Hulk does in space.  Bring on Pandora’s Box!

X-Men Legacy #248 – Was Age of X just an excuse to bring back some crazy old dead X-Men?  I don’t know!  I’m was crazy confused at the end of last ish!  I want to know more!

Vertigo
Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #4 – Hells yeah! Cinderella vs. Dorothy Gale is one of the greatest vs. matches in comics.

Hopefully I don’t go over my $30 limit this week, otherwise I’ll be busting my budget.  Oh well 🙂

The Art of War Author and Artist Prepped to Bleed for their Book

Blood and belief often go hand-in-hand.  This May, two talented New Yorkers will be giving their own blood to celebrate the completion of their graphic novel, The Art of War, and using it to sign free 3-chapter previews of their book.  Aside from a few other select comic book productions receiving the biological treatment from their creators, Kelly Roman and Mike Deweese, author and artist respectively, are doing something sensationally different.

To give you just a little background, the book depicts a future when China is the dominant economy and Wall Street is militarized.  Kelly was inspired to write the story in 2007 after reading a Wall Street Journal article about China investing billions of dollars in Blackstone, an American private equity firm.  The world he came up with is terrifyingly prophetic, with a gritty Blade Runner-esque feel that Mike hammers home in every single panel.

But when Kelly first proposed the idea of the bloodletting, I was skeptical.  “Is that even legal?” I thought.  Yet the more I mulled it over the more the idea grew on me.  How could you possibly show more enthusiasm and conviction for your creation than by bleeding for it?  Kelly found a way: by bleeding in front of a crowd!

On May 19th in Chinatown’s Columbus Park, the destination a courteous bow to the original manuscript’s author and Kelly’s inspiration, these guys will be having their blood drawn by a registered health care professional, dousing stamps that say “The Art of War,” and marking free copies of the 3-chapter preview for fans.

They’ve spent 5 years writing, penciling, storyboarding, digitally inking, coloring, revising, and editing this book into the beautiful graphic novel it is today.  While I’ve only been riding with them for about a year now I’m just as excited as they are for the bloodletting.  It will mark the culmination of a long and arduous process crafting a work that, when you look at current events, borders on the prescient.

In this insane post-Action Comics #900 world, where everyone from your grandmother to your mayor has an opinion about comic books and their role in American culture, The Art of War is going to give us even more to talk about.

The Art of War is slated for a Spring 2012 release through HarperCollin’s imprint !t Books, so this will be one of your only chances to pick up a physical copy of their work before next year.  If you can’t make it to the event Kelly was kind enough to put up the 3-chapter preview over at TheArtofWarGraphicNovel.com.

Read the official Press Release for the Blood, Sweat and Tears event here

Follow The Art of War’s protagonist Kelly Roman on Twitter here

And don’t forget to like him on Facebook here