Scott's Thoughts: Another Chance to Experience Vertigo

DC Comics' Vertigo Imprint has an interesting history. Launching in 1993 but remembered as being older than that thanks to the influential works by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, and Grant Morisson (to name a few) that were subsequentially rebranded as Vertigo books after their launch at DC proper, the imprint was carefully curated (perhaps more carefully at times than others) by Karen Berger and also under the watchful eyes of editors like Will Dennis, Axel Alonso (before he left for Marvel), Jonathan Vankin, and Shelly Bond. If you saw "Vertigo" at the top of a cover you could expect to have an interesting experience and could often reliably expect to find good if not great works inside the pages.

Often focusing on mini-series for it's early life it also gave birth to incredible ongoing series such as Preacher, Transmetropolitan, Y: The Last Man, Fables, American Vampire, The Invisibles, Lucifer, Losers, 100 Bullets, Northlanders, Sweet Tooth, ... you know I could go on and on. But when Karen Berger announced last year that she would be stepping down as Executive Editor and that Shelly Bond would take over for her earlier this year after the transition team had a chance to find it's footing it was believed by many that the imprint might be in it's death throes. Add to the mix the conclusion of it's longest running series "Hellblazer" and I imagine that you'd be less than surprised to hear how thoroughly that impression permeated the comics reading community. 

But in May of this year Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy's The Wake hit the stands. It was only a mini-series, but it was really freaking good. And it was a 10-issue mini-series. So not a flash in the pan kind of scenario. about 8 weeks later we saw the release of the "Vertigo: Defy - 2013 Preview" a 28 page free pamphlet that teased the rest of the new titles that were coming out the rest of the year and it was jam-packed with awesome. New ongoing titles, new mini-series, and perhaps most important of all our first look at Neil Gaiman & JH Williams III's Sandman: Overture.

It was clearly going to be a good second half of the year for Vertigo. Though we clearly had no idea how good.

The first hit post Defy came in the form of Jeff Lemire's newest work Trillium, a brilliant sci-fi love story that might unravel all of space and time. Focusing on a botanist from the 38th century and a British explorer from 1921 who meet in the wilds of the Amazon jungle. Thier love could create temporal instiblity and nothing good can come of it ... except perhaps the greatest thing of all ... love.

Then came FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics (though it was called Collider for a hot second before the potential of legal issues resulted in the desire to change the title) a wonderful sci-fi title from Simon Oliver & Robbi Rodriguez that focuses on a world that might be, where physics have become soft as a result of the work at CERN and as a result things like gravity losses and entropy reversals have become commonplace. It follows the team drafted by the US Government who works to keep the chaos in check. And it's gorgeous (at least in my opinion).

Hinterkind from the truly amazing world building mind of Ian Edginton came next and with gorgeous artwork from Francesco Trifogli. Taking place decades after a destructive force known as "The Blight" has all but wiped out humanity and only small pockets of civilization remain among a rapidly changing world where Mother Nature has all but taken over. But Mother Nature is not the only thing that rules the world, Magic has also returned to the world and giants, unicorns, vampires, and creatures of faerie kind have come home. And they have no interest in sharing the world with the likes of humanity.

And most recently Coffin Hill from British urban fantasy novelist Caitlin Kitteredge and Spanish artist Inaki Miranda, a book of witchcraft, curses, and perhaps most simply of all, murder. It follows recently wounded former police officer Eve Coffin as she returns to the place she most wanted to leave, home. When she returns she'll find that her actions from a night over a decade ago that left one friend missing and another mentally shattered still haunt the place she called home and that another friend who knows that she is responsible has found himself in a position of power and still holds a grudge. 

And that's all before we even mention Sandman: Overture (which comes out in two weeks!). Or the return of The Dead Boy Detectives. Or the 100 Bullets sequel Brother Lono from the originial creative team. Or Astro City returning under the Vertigo banner ... 

It's clearly a good time to be dizzy ... er I mean to love Vertigo.

Josey's Review: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Comic.

 Hi, I'm Josey I enjoy long moonlight walks on a summer's night and of course comics. I started reading comics regularly when I was ten and back then (as now) I was all about Marvel Comics. That's not to say I don't love DC, I do and I think I'll get into my love for the smaller creator-owned comics later because that will probably take up it's own post. For my first review I'm going to discuss Marvel seeing as how it's probably their fault I got caught up in this mess in the first place.

The thing everyone knows that makes Marvel special is the human element of its characters. The X-Men are denied civil rights, Daredevil has to overcome his disability, Peter Parker has to deal with every problem ever. It's a little something extra that makes a story a little more meaningful than just guys punching each other; not that I knew that when I was ten, honestly back then I was just in it for the guys punching each other. It's a proud tradition that I believe makes Marvel the finest purveyors of men (and women) in tights out there.  Unfortunately it's a tradition that I fear they falter on every so often. Where was that human element in AvX? I hate to say it but after 12 issues of super heroes throwing planets at each other I got a little bored. That's not too say Marvel has lost what makes it special because you know I'm about to bring up Hawkeye.
Hawkeye is Marvel at it's best, Clint Barton and Katie Bishop kick all sorts of butt, but the really interesting stuff is about Clint running an apartment complex. Matt Fraction has found a funny, neurotic, and painfully interesting character where there once was just a guy that shoots arrows. Another great example is Captain Marvel which I just discovered and she quickly became my favorite female superhero out there right now. Carol Danvers is an incredibly powerful hero but the biggest threat to her right now is a brain tumor, that kind of storytelling is beautifully nerve-wracking and it's the reason why I still read superhero comics to this day. I'll stop my rambling here to say simply that the thing I love more than a superhero story is a superhero story that isn't necessarily focused on super heroics and I'm happy that, even though there are a few exceptions, Marvel comics has been able to deliver me these stories since I was ten.



Dawn's Review: DC Super Hero Chapter Books

While perusing the shelves looking for something to read, I decided to try out Batman: Catwoman’s Classroom of Claws.  Obviously I wanted to read it because it has my favorite villain, Catwoman. 

The story follows Robin, who is trying to get into a villain’s school to find out who’s behind it.  He is forced to pretend to beat up Batman and fit in among the up and coming villains of Gotham to get in good with the Headmistress.  In the end, he finds out that Catwoman is behind the school because she wants her own sidekicks.

It’s a quick read, five chapters in total.  There are full page pictures to go along with the story every couple of pages, and the onomatopoeias are written just like in the comics.  There is a glossary in the back for some of the bigger words, as well as a dossier on Catwoman.  There are also writing prompts and discussion questions to facilitate critical thinking.

If you have a kid who’s at the age to start chapter books, or are a kid at heart like me, these are a bunch of great books to check out.


Scott's Thoughts: Wild Blue Yonder #1

This is the best new comic series from IDW since Locke & Key. Is that hyperbole? I really and genuinely don't think so. I am often seen as eternally sunny in the world of comics. As though there is always something positive to be said about a comic when talking to me. It's simply not the case. And these days as much as I still love comics I am super behind on a lot of things. I try to keep up with some things more than others but haven't had the time between all the work it takes to keep a store going on the trajectory that the South County store has been on and the recent resurgence in interest that I've had in Magic the Gathering. There is only so many hours that a person can devote to consuming media and my interests these days are so varied that I have had a reduction in the number of comics with which I can actively continue to be current.

So when I say all of that and then I say that I cannot wait, cannot flipping wait, to read Wild Blue Yonder #2 you will hopefully understand my excitement.

Written by Mike Raicht, Austin Harrison, & Zach Howard with art by Zach Howard Wild Blue Yonder is exactly the kind of comic that makes me get incredibly excited. The world building that has been done prior to the release of the first issue makes the world in which you are stepping in to feel completely realized. I imagine that each character that the book introduces you to, no matter how central or peripheral, has a whole life story. This is what makes a great reading experience, it's what makes a great viewing experience in television and film as well. But I should probably get around to talking about the book itself.

Raicht, Harrison, & Howard have created a wonderful world and populate it with interesting characters. The story takes place in a world that has become increasingly uninhabitable to humans and as a result society has moved further and further into the stratosphere. Those who are a little less well off wind up working in mines on the surface where the quality of life has become less and less and people grow more and more desperate. Those who live among the clouds are often aboard skyships or live high on mountains. The introduction speaks of pilots and jet pack warriors and of the fleet that dominates the sky, which is lead by The Judge, they are pirates of the worst kind, who take what they need and prey on the weak. In the skies only the fittest may survive.

The characters we are introduced to are Cola, a young female pilot from the skyship The Dawn, a ship that flies the skies on the power of the sun, who is on the look out for a promising young "Gun Type" (or jet pack warrior/tail gunner) to replace a recently deceased crewman. Carter the owner/proprietor of The Peak, a bar and restaurant high atop a mountain, which serves as a rest stop for those who fly among the clouds as well as an communication station and place to find new crew who want to try to make their lives among the skies. We also meet Tug a young man who has left the mining crew that he worked with when they stopped at The Peak and has been looking for new work and a new life, and happens to be interested in serving as Cola's new Gun.

Then we see a great sky battle where ships from The Judge's fleet have found and are attacking The Dawn and her crew and we meet Scram, one of the Guns from The Dawn who wears a jet-pack and flies from ship to ship to try to attack opposing pilots, in Scram's case with his trusty axe ... that sometimes gets him into trouble. 

I'll leave the rest of the book for you to read but I will say that it is a stunning achievement of both world building and story telling that immediately reminded me of the incredibly memorable world of Meridian from the now defunct CrossGen comics (and boy howdy do I miss that book) with elements of The Rocketeer and the very best of pulp sci-fi. 

Everything about this book appeals to me. I would give it my highest recommendation and would love to see it continue beyond the solicited 5 issue mini-series. (Even more so I would love to see material released that would allow me to utilize this world as a role playing setting.)