Indie Eye on Previews: February

It is time to take a look at the offerings from independent publishers in the latest issue of Previews.  As always, I am focusing entirely on trades, collections, graphic novels and one-shots.  There are plenty of series that I am interested in, but I will be waiting for the trade so I can read it in a single chunk.  With that in mind, let’s dive in!!!

3 Story: Secret Files of the Giant Man (Dark Horse pg. 62)  The most acclaimed graphic novel of 2009 returns! Some episodes from the life of Craig Pressgang were too sensitive even for the pages of 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, but now the full truth of his years as a spy can be told! Lending new meaning to the phrase “hiding in plain sight,” Craig’s missions to Paris, Cairo, and the Philippines makeSecret Files an essential companion to the 3 Story graphic novel, as well as a perfect standalone introduction to Matt Kindt’s touching history of the Giant Man. Collects all three Giant Man stories from MySpace Dark Horse Presents.

Matt Kindt’s 3 Story was a real delight to read when it came out in 2009.  I’m excited that he is back with a few more short stories about the big guy!  This is on my must-read list!

Grendel Omnibus Vol. 1 (Dark Horse pg. 65)Matt Wagner’s masterpiece celebrates its thirtieth anniversary with the first-ever comprehensive collection of the complete Grendelsaga! The first of four volumes presenting the entire series and following the chronology of the stories, this edition introduces millionaire Hunter Rose and his alter ego, the criminal mastermind Grendel!      

I haven’t read much of the Hunter Rose Grendel stories.  I know how it starts and I know how it ends.  That’s about it.  Thankfully Dark Horse has put together a 600 page omnibus that collects Devil by the Deed, Black, White & Red, and Red, White & Black and Behold the Devil.  That is a lot of Grendel for not a lot of price.  My only complaint is that the Dark Horse omnibi are pretty diminutive.  But, the trade off is a good price.

Get Jiro! (Vertigo pg. 136)  In a not-too-distant future L.A. where master chefs rule the town like crime lords and people literally kill for a seat at the best restaurants, a bloody culinary war is raging.

On one side, the Internationalists, who blend foods from all over the world into exotic delights. On the other, the “Vertical Farm,” who prepare nothing but organic, vegetarian, macrobiotic dishes. Into this maelstrom steps Jiro, a renegade and ruthless sushi chef, known to decapitate patrons who dare request a California Roll, or who stir wasabi into their soy sauce. Both sides want Jiro to join their factions. Jiro, however has bigger ideas, and in the end, no chef may be left alive!

Normally I avoid “celebrity” creators like the plague.  They usually can’t write, and their creations are luke warm at best.  But Anthony Bourdaine is a different story.  The man can write.  His Kitchen Confidential is a fantastic read.  So, with that in mind, I am going to take a chance on this food-themed comic.

Deadenders (Vertigo pg. 142) In this stylized book of mystery and science fiction, a drug-dealing car thief must discover the secret behind his visions in order to save the world. Twenty years after the devastating Cataclysm, society has been separated into sectors in which the rich are able to enjoy machine-generated weather and sunlight while the poor are forced to live an eternally dank and dark existence. Banished to the dismal Sector 5, the angst-ridden Beezer discovers that the corrupt city police are hunting him because of his experiential visions of a pre-apocalyptic world. Now Earth’s reluctant savior must learn his true origin and the meaning of his visions before he is captured and killed.

Ed Brubaker does sci-fi!  Sold!

Parker: The Score (IDW pg. 152) Fresh from his Eisner Award-winning efforts on The Hunter and The Outfit, Darwyn Cooke now sets his steely sights on The Score, the classic Richard Stark Parker novel from 1964. Parker becomes embroiled in a plot with a dozen partners in crime to pull off what might be the ultimate heist—robbing an entire town. Everything was going fine for a while, and then things got bad. Considered one of the best in the Parker series, The Score is the perfect vehicle for Darwyn Cooke to pull out all the stops and let loose with a book that has all the impact of a brutal kick to the solar plexus!

The first two Parker volumes were a real pleasure.  Even though I like the first one more than the second, it was kind of the difference between great and really great. Darwyn Cooke is bringing his A-game to this series.  This is another must-read!

30 Day of Night: vol. 1 (IDW pg. 157) Fright-master Steve Niles returns to the creation that launched his career for an all-new 30 Days of Night series, with warped genius Sam Kieth handling the art duties. Features an all-new cast of characters being introduced to the world of 30 Days of Night for the first time!

I am on the fence about this one.  I enjoyed the original book as well as the first sequel.  However, I really feel that the property has been diluted by constant mini-series and spin-offs.  However, a return by the original writer as well as art by Sam Kieth has me interested.  I may be checking this one out!

TIME OUT!!!!!

Page 166 proclaims that Cobra Commander is USA Today’s  2011 “New Villain of the Year!”  Excuse me? WTF????  Cobra Commander was introduced in 1982…30 years ago!  Guess next year they will announce Lobo as the “Hot New Character of 2013!”

Ok.  Back to comics.

Nevsky: Hero of the People (IDW pg. 176)A true legendary Russian hero, a groundbreaking Russian filmmaker! Alexander Nevsky is a central figure in Russian history, having lived during one of Russia”s darkest periods – the invasion of the Teutonic Knights. Alexander Nevsky helped establish the Russian nation by defeating the Teutonic Knights, invaders from the last vestiges of the Holy Roman Empire, with an army comprised of ordinary citizens who were poorly-equipped soldiers, but fought for their freedom. This ragtag band, against overwhelming odds, defeated the invaders in an epic battle on the frozen lake Peipus – a spectacular achievement that is still celebrated in Russia to this day. In 1938, the great Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, much acclaimed for his masterful historical interpretations, as seen in “Battleship Potemkin” (1925) and “Ivan the Terrible” (1944), brought the story of Alexander Nevsky to life on the silver screen in an innovative and brilliant way, by developing new film techniques that remain in use almost 100 years later by some of the greatest directors of our time. Now, following in the steps of Eisenstein, IDW is proud to present one of the most compelling historical graphic novels ever produced – one that is as relevant today as it was at any time in history!

I am a sucker for awesome history.  Sounds like Nevsky was a total badass!  I realize that this may stretch the truth a bit as it is a re-imagining of  the 1938 film as opposed to something historically factual.  But, as we always say in my family, never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

27 vol. 2 (Image pg. 196) Troubled guitar hero Will Garland has regained mega-fame by revealing his supernatural creativity powers to the world. Enter Valerie Hayes, a 1980s one-hit-wonder turned witch who is desperate to steal Garland’s power that she may return to the spotlight. A mystical battle of the bands is on, winner take all, with the god of fame as the judge!

The first volume of this series was moody and full of wonderful twists and turns.  Can’t wait to see what vol. 2 has in store!

The Infinite Horizon (Image pg. 199)
The Infinite Horizon is the tale of an American soldier’s epic journey home following a protracted war half a world away. Every step of his odyssey must be earned as he struggles to survive not just the war, but breakdowns of the world’s economy and communications.

Inspired by the Odyssey. Art by Phil Noto.  What could be better???

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode vol. 1 (Image pg. 202)  There is one word to describe this book: Buzz.  I can’t wait to see if it lives up to the hype!

 

 

The Boy Who Made Silence (AAM Markosia pg. 230)  Rural boy, Nestor Gudfred, mysteriously loses his hearing after nearly drowning in a river.  As Nestor adjusts to a silent world, other mysteries arise, including an ability to create an impermanent silence around him, casting anyone within its reach into the pasts and memories of others.  With an eye and ear for both the familiar and the fantastic, Hagler imagines the intersecting lives of a small town through a surrealist lens.  An ensemble cast of characters include Peter’n’Charlie, the mysterious upside-down cat-headed visitor, Pastor Buddy, Nestor’s mother who seems to run a strange kind of brothel, and, at the center of it all, Esmé, the young girl who saved his life.

This was one of the most haunting books on the stands when it came out in the early 2000′s.  Unfortunately only 6 of the 12 issues were released.  Could this collection signify a return for this series?  Here’s to hoping!

The Silence (Allen & Unwin pg. 232) When Choosy McBride discovers an extraordinary artwork she is determined to track down the unknown artist. With her partner Dmitri, an artist wrestling with his own creative demons, she follows the trail to an exhibition at an enigmatic gallery in Northern Queensland, but the creator of the mysterious artworks remains elusive. Increasingly frustrated, and resolved on a dramatic course of action, Choosy insists they make a final visit to the gallery. But will the truth revealed there be what either of them expect?

This could go either way.  It could be really good…or it could be really bad.  Don’t think there is going to be much of an in-between on this one.  I’m not familiar with the creator, so I don’t have much to go on.  But the premise sounds interesting.

Knights of the Living Dead (Amaze Ink/Slave Labor pg. 234) The mournful king, Arthur, has sentenced Queen Guinievere to burn for her infidelity, but he none-too-secretly expects her lover, Sir Lancelot, to save her. And here comes rescuer – Lancelot! – the greatest knight, on the greatest stallion. With a horde of the shambling dead behind him. As the greatest knight of all fights through the courtyard to reach the queen, Guinivere, before she burns at the stake, she sees he is not the hero she expected. Lancelot is among the stricken of the ‘walking starvation.’ Knights of Living Dead transcends the brain-munching of most zombie fiction and examines the nature of the soul and the essence of being.

Ok.  This one has a better than fair chance of being bad. The inclusion of one of the creators of Pinocchio Vampire Slayer does not give me much hope.  But I can’t resist!!!  I am a SUCKER for mash-ups and zombies.  This one is coming home with me.  I know I’ll regret it later, but I can’t help myself.

City in the Desert (Archaia pg. 239)  Monster hunter Irro is perhaps the only person in Kevala making a good living. The city pays him and his tailed assistant, Hari, a bounty for each monster carcass they bring in. But one day a religious sect called The Way of the Sacred Peace comes to Kevala to solve the monster problem by capping the city’s Spirit Fountain. Out of a job with all the monsters gone, Irro and Hari are determined to prove that there is a more sinister plot behind the Sacred Peace’s plan.

Another intriguing concept from a creator I am not familiar with.  However Archaia has a proven track record of publishing some of the best books on the shelves.  That pushes it over to the read pile for me!

Teen Boat (Clarion Books pg. 270) The angst of being a teen … the thrill of being a boat!

I thoroughly enjoyed Dave Roman’s Astronaut Academy.  I am really looking forward to this next book.  Just be sure that you are careful when googling “Teen Boat”.  I happens to be the name of a very popular gay teen porn site.  Kinda felt like Julia Wertz when she googled “Cute Bears”.  A bit of an eye-opener!

Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City (Drawn & Quarterly pg. 296)  Acclaimed graphic memoirist Guy Delisle returns with his strongest work yet, a thoughtful and moving travelogue about life in Israel. Delisle and his family spent a year in East Jerusalem as part of his wife’s work with the nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders. They were there for the short but brutal Gaza War, a three-week-long military strike that resulted in more than a thousand Palestinian deaths. In his interactions with the emergency medical team sent in by Doctors Without Borders, Delisle eloquently plumbs the depths of the conflict.

I have not read any of Delisle’s travel books.  However his Ailene and Albert books are a real blast.  This book was the hit of the Angeloume festival.  Looking forward to reading this one!

Giants Beware! (First Second pg. 301) Make way for Claudette the giant slayer in this delightful, fantastical adventure!  Claudette’s fondest wish is to slay a giant. But her village is so safe and quiet! What’s a future giant slayer to do?  With her best friend Marie (an aspiring princess), and her brother Gaston (a pastry-chef-to-be), Claudette embarks on a super-secret quest to find a giant—without parental permission. Can they find and defeat the giant before their parents find them and drag them back home?  Giants Beware! offers up a wondrous, self-contained world in the tradition of the very best of Pixar. Claudette and her friends will have you laughing out loud from page one.

Something for the younger set!  First Second really knows how to find books that are good for kids without talking down to them.

VS Aliens (Gen Manga Enttertainment pg. 305) Kitaro must unravel a mystery between the two cutest girls in school. One claims the other is an alien! Is Sana Sakuma really a secret visitor from outer space or is this some elaborate prank? The mystery spirals in and out, back and forth, keeping you guessing unti the very end. Do you want to believe?

Only in manga could there really be a possibility that one of these girls is really an alien!!!  But now I MUST know!!!!

Are You My Mother? (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pg. 308)  Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It’s a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother—to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.

Alison Bechdel.  Really, is there anything else I need to say?  The woman produced one of the most poignant books  I have ever read with Fun Home.  Where Fun Home explored her relationship with her father, Are You My Mother? now takes a look at the author’s relationship with her mother.

The Girl Who Owned a City (Lerner Publishing pg. 311)A deadly virus killed every adult on Earth, leaving only us kids behind. My parents are gone, so I’m responsible for my little brother, Todd. I have to make sure we stay alive. Many kids are sick or starving, and fierce gangs are stealing and destroying everything they find. Lots of people have given up, but here on Grand Avenue, some of us are surviving. Because of me.   I figured out how to give the kids on Grand Avenue food, homes, and protection against the gangs. But Tom Logan and his army are determined to take away what we’ve built and rule the streets themselves. How long can we keep fighting them off? We need to find another place for us to live safely. A strong place. A secret place.   In a world like this, someone has to take charge. But do I have the strength to take charge of a whole city?

Joelle Jones continues to be one of the most prolific artists working today.  She produces some of the most beautiful and nuanced women to grace the pages of comics.  I don’t know much about this story, but Joelle’s involvement is enough for me!

Holliday (Oni pg. 320) Tombstone is a city as bleak as its name suggests and for most, life depends on the gun kept in their waistband. When Doc Holliday, a gambler with twisted morals and a deadly reputation, arrives, his presence upsets a fragile balance in the fractured urban center. The gunman and his allies are a threat to the ruling powers and eventually the long simmering tension boils over. Deception surrounding Holliday and a gruesome double homicide serves as the catalyst for war.

Looks like a modern-day retelling of the legend of Doc Holliday and the town of Tombstone.  I am not familiar with the creators, but I trust Oni.  Theyhave yet to let me down with a book!

Leviathan (Rebellion 2000AD pg. 322)   In 1928, the Leviathan, the largest cruise liner the world had ever seen, was launched, bound for New York, with a crew and passenger complement totaling nearly 30,000 people. It was never seen again.  Twenty years later, one of the remaining passengers, Detective Sergeant Lament, begins to investigate the mystery at the liner’s heart. What he discovers will change his world forever—but it might just bring the Leviathan home…

Ok.  I know I have written about this book at least once, and ordered it at least twice.  It has been solicited and dropped more times than I can count.  Why??????

Drawbotz (Sea Lion Books pg. 324) Pat Lee, illustrator of the Transformers comics, reveals his secrets and techniques for designing and illustrating robots. With 20 years of experience in comic book illustration and concept design, Pat takes you on a step-by-step tour of the tools he uses and quick and easy ways toward creating anything from a simple robot to a highly detailed and fully-articulated cyborg. Whether you are just a beginner or an accomplished artist, these techniques will help advance your skills and understanding of concept design from a fresh perspective.

Unless this is a tell-all about hiring ghost artists to do the work for you, shifting your assets to a shell company, then declaring bankruptcy and skipping the country without paying those creators, then I’m not sure what Pat Lee has to say about drawing robots.

But I Really Wanted to Be An Anthropologist (Selfmadehero pg. 324) Meet Margaux: thirty-something mother, self-confessed geek, style-goddess and red wine drinker. We follow her real life, collected from her illustrated blog, as she makes her way as a freelance illustrator in Paris. Anyone who has ever worn inappropriate shoes to the supermarket or danced around the house in their underwear will be charmed by Motin’s irreverent humour.

There comes a time in our lives when we look at ourselves and wonder how we got to where we are.  Sometimes it is in awe of how fortunate and happy we are.  Other times it is with amazement with how far afield from our dreams we have landed.  Looking forward to reading about  someone else’s experiences!

Lost Dogs (Top Shelf pg. 326)  Long out of print, Jeff Lemire’s Xeric-Award-winning LOST DOGS now returns in a newly remastered edition, soaked with blood and ink. This 104-page mythic yarn follows a family man who’s larger than life… but even he may not be powerful enough to prevent the loss of everything he’s ever known.  Bold, brutal, and emotionally raw, LOST DOGS represents an acclaimed storyteller’s first professional work — an early exhibition of the gifts that have made his ESSEX COUNTY and SWEET TOOTH so phenomenally popular. 

You had me at Jeff Lemire!

WOW!  That is a shit-ton of books this month!!!!  I need a second job to pay for all these and a third eye to read them all!!!!  Any that I missed????

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