Star Wars- This is an obvious choice for Darkhorse comics. No doubt there are hordes and hordes of people inticed by the final chapter in this saga. And the public needn't wait but a week before it hits theatres. It is an enjoyable story, if a bit formulaic... and yet confusing. Anakin (Darth Vader) Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi set out to find two sources to the shift of power towards the Dark Side. Anakin in his head strong attempts to attack first and think later, inadvertantly sabotages the mission. There is a sequence in which Anakin confides to Obi-Wan that he has more desire than just having peace and the dark side eliminated forever. Obi-Wan only makes the comment that these desires are very un-Jedi like. More foreshadowing continues... not much conflict... rather this teases and then sets the stage for a much bigger battle to follow. This title, and many of it's spin-off titles are readily available.
Betty And Veronica- Well, it was definetly a different approach from Archie Comics company. But I have to wonder what the pay off is. I am sure collectors snatched this up, apparently this is the first appearance of a character from a few yesteryears ago... Katy Keene. The only objective that this comic seemed to accomplish for me was to make the issue feel dated. The obvious difference between the artistic look of Katy Keene to the rest of the Riverdale girls, made her seem quite alien. I would have much prefered this story to have Bridget as a top model... as it is the story had as much inspiration as a Barbie doll. Even more puzzling was that DC merchandise filled the advertisements of this comic, with only one devoted to Archie products. I am not sure what audience Archie wanted to grab with this comic. But I hope it appealed to someone.
Festival- This was a compilation of comics from a variety of people from all over the world. Apparently all of which will be at the Toronto Comics Art Festival. The problem with comic books of such a large variety, is that sometimes the brief introduction you do get to a comic might not be enough to hook you with. There are many cute stories... thought-provoking snippets... and stunning art to be found in this title. From a story about an old comic buyer who was snooty and yet had an effect on many retailers. Another story of a young female wizard who is found out by a nosy neighbor... but eventually wins him over to the rewards of magic. A story about a man who once had a desire to fight Bruce Lee, quite hilarious. Sweet sentimental stories... tales that border the bizarre. There was an untitled project by Leslie Stien ... whose artistic flexibility astounds me as much as David Mack. There are more well-known projects such as Love As A Foreign Language. The problem lies in that this is a comic to promote a festival. Expect to do some digging to find your favorite creator's stuff, but then... a little digging never hurt anyone.
Roninhood of the 47th Samurai- This is another fine offering from Beckett. There is a trend in some of the better comics of the past few years... to have deceptively simple art. Powers being another prime example. Last year Beckett did a rather original concept on the fabled Sleeping Beauty tale. This year they take you into Japan, into the 1700s, into a story so familiar it will leave the taste of Disney and Kevin Costner strong in the back of your throat. But yet again, what you know of Robinhood, is taken and tossed on it's tail. Beckett has won me over... no doubt this and a couple of other TPBs will be lining my shelves.
Mortal Coils Presents- You have entered the Twilight Zone... well sort of. I am not sure Mortal Coils started off with the best title to begin this comic. Godpoint is some sort of time travel story. Our main characters... two women somehow know each other. And somehow know that everytime they wake up somewhere, it will be a new place, on the way to their own time and world. It would be nice to let in on any of these developments... but we aren't. And it seemingly ends as confusing as it began. Pit Stop was by far more fascinating, slightly less confusing. As we are peeking in on two travelers... one has a goal... while the other is left to wander. Upon her wanderings... one traveler comes across a man who possesses a book of some importance to the woman. Upon prying it becomes rather obvious that the man is not the person she seeks... but rather a lovesick broken hearted man... who has stolen his ex-girlfriend's property. As punishment... she shows the man... the life and love he would have had... and then twists the events of fate... so that he never finds this new love, and must live alone forever... all for stealing a book. Wouldn't you know it, she's a librarian (just kidding). The final comic brought a smile to my face... a bit of a parody on portals and alternate realities and superheroes called, "I Didn't Know This Place Had A Cellar", it should be found by following that link.
Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge- There is no denying the talent possessed by Carl Barks. There is no denying that Disney is a great outlet for kid's comics. Disney goes all out reprinting the first Uncle Scrooge comic ever published. It is the most requested reprint they recieve. Kids will find fun in it too, it may be dated, but it is the Scrooge that many of us have known for years. Yet again this year, Disney goes with a classic. And it still works on many levels.
Arcana Studios Presents- This offers up some pretty dark stuff... needless to say, it ain't for the kiddos of your household. Some pretty intriguing stuff though, particularly 100 girls. For fans of Crimson... or the Cliffhanger line from DC... this is a nice title to fill that void. So for those of you missing some of the more gothic and dark entertainment this will be a nice title to try out. I even think I might get a title from this company, though it will be one that is decidly more light-hearted and fun.
Funny Book- This is an underground and adult group of selections from Fantagraphics. Among them are a few treasures. If you have a desire to let your wings spread to the most indy of FCBD, this would most likely be it. With so many different comics highlighted, it kind of put too many hands in the pot. Although it seems stories from the series Love And Rockets dominates.
Impact University- This is yet again a book that not only highlights the making of comics. It is all about the process. And they pulled no punches, top creators like Peter David and the late Will Eisner offer there insights and tips. The art touches on a great many things from the more common comic book art style... to the increasingly popular Manga style. Yet again a company that goes for resource over entertainment, and it works so well, that I would be hard pressed not to encourage this sort of comic in monthly installments. Of course for money.
Tokyopop Sneaks- By far the most ambitious genre-spanning free comic out there. Over 150 pages of comic... for free. A seemingly confusing aspect... one side you read in a "comic book manner" as accustomed, the other is read in a "manga" manner as the author intended. While all the stories are for a teen audience. There really is quite a bit to offer to even the most discerning reader. Pick this up for an assortment of stories... an abundance of quality. For those looking for the biggest freebie out there... this is it.
Flight- Image's surprising freebie. Somehow Image caught on to the fact that storytelling is at it's most enjoyable when it can be a family activity. This comic plays off the fact that no matter how old, every adult was a child. And every child dreams, and sometimes it is nice to see what one used to believe was possible. It is nice to remember that if you have enough fantasy, enough playfulness and you set out to tell a good story. A spectacular event occurs... a child's eyes will light up, and for a moment, they don't have to grow up so fast... and neither do you.
Whew... that was pretty exhausting. Any chance you publisher's could send me next year's selection early... like now. I need all the time in the world.