Avengers: Endless Wartime (Marvel Entertainment): Marvel’s new line of original graphic novels — note the “Marvel OGN” logo on the spine — is off to a pretty strong start with this continuity-light Warren Ellis-written, Mike McKone-drawn story of an Avengers squad facing a new form of semi-sentient weapon evolved from a generation-old attempt to marry Nazi science with Norse magic.
That’s a good conflict for an Avengers comic, as the team includes a Nazi-fighting hero and a Norse god, and, better still, both Captain America and Thor were tied to the this new weapon’s origin.
Ellis does his usual fine job of mixing current science, speculative next-level science, elements of our zeitgeist and corporate superheroes with something that feels appropriate, cool and like the writer has something to say. Additionally, he has a pretty decent handle on the characters, and does a relatively good job of singling out particular voices (this is the first time in a long time that I’ve read an Avengers comic where everyone didn’t talk like Brian Michael Bendis).
Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Hawkeye, who reflects Matt Fraction’s version, are a bit of a rag-tag group, but they seem to be assembled primarily for their military backgrounds. “Do you know, I just realized I’m the only non-soldier in the room,” Tony Stark says at one point, and Captain Marvel sneers back, “That’s right, Tony. You’re just an ex-arms manufacturer in a metal death suit.”
Papercutz has been releasing its translated versions of Pierre “Peyo” Culliford’s classic Smurfs comics since 2010, and it’s the sort of publishing project that is so welcome that one doesn’t like to complain too loudly about some of the less important choices made in the republication.
I’ve only ever had two real complaints about Papercutz’s presentation of the comics, of which the publisher has released 16 slim volumes.
First, there was their size: At 9 inches tall and 6-and-a-half inches wide, the four- or five-tiered page layouts could result in Smurf-sized panels. The comics were never illegible or even all that hard to read, but with an artist of Peyo’s caliber, I and many other readers would have preferred to be able to see the pages and panels bigger, to better appreciate their construction and line work (this is the complaint I’ve heard most often regarding the new Smurfs line).
Second, there’s the lettering, particularly regarding sound effects: It had a tendency to look more cut-and-pasted than organic, drawing unwanted attention to itself and away from the story being told.
Papercutz just released the first new volume in a new Peyo series that should address those exact concerns, however: The Smurfs Anthology Vol. 1 is a hardcover 11-and-a-quarter inches high and 8-and-three-quarter inches wide.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Everyone still may be coming down from the excitement of Free Comic Book Day and the blockbuster opening of Marvel Iron Man 3, but we’re already looking ahead to Wednesday’s releases and Saturday’s two noteworthy events: Kids Comic Con and Long Beach Comic Expo.
But first, back to Wednesday, as ROBOT 6′s contributors single out some of the best titles going on sale this week, including a new edition of Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits, You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack and Red Handed.
We’ve all marveled at the photos submitted to “Shelf Porn,” the regular feature on ROBOT 6 showcasing frequently envy-inducing collections of comic books and related memorabilia that as often as not spill off of shelves and walls to consume entire rooms. Well, now meet 37-year-old Karen Bell of Ayrshire, Scotland, whose lifelong love of the Smurfs has led her to spend £20,000 (nearly $32,000) on Peyo’s little blue creatures.
“It amazes me that I’ve spent around £20,000 on the collection,” she tells the Daily Mail, “but to be honest, with the amount I have, I’m surprised it’s not more.”
The collection, which began at age 6 with a single toy, has grown to 4,482 items, including 930 two-inch PVC figures (she buys duplicates from other countries because of the differences in packaging), 70 buildings and playsets, 145 books, comics, videos and DVDs, 130 badges, and 50 bath and beauty products. It takes up an entire room in her house, and her husband has drawn the room there. Well, mostly.
You’d think that after one hit movie and a sequel on the way, the Smurfs would’ve cleaned up their acts. Instead, Peyo’s little blue creatures appear have turned to a life of crime, with Papa Smurf right in the middle of it.
Live Leak reports that police in Australia are on the lookout for four Smurfs suspected of committing two crimes Dec. 16 at a 7-Eleven in the Melbourne suburb of Pascoe Vale. According to authorities, a 37-year-old man was walking out of the store at about 1 a.m., when he was approached by a Smurf who asked for a cigarette.
The Smurf, whom we’ll call “Smokey,” then asked for a light, suggesting perhaps that the creatures aren’t nearly as resourceful as the comics and cartoons would lead us to believe. The man refused and noticed that three other Smurfs were trying to hotwire a van in the parking lot, undoubtedly regretting they hadn’t brought Handy along. At that point, the man’s evening turned very un-Smurfy, as he was assaulted.
Luckily, police have a lead in the form of the 7-Eleven’s surveillance video (below), which shows three of the suspects. I suggest the cops start by knocking on doors in that strange neighborhood with the little mushroom-shaped houses …
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start things out with Wolverine and the X-Men #11 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series’ intersection with Avengers Vs. X-Men might put this book in a tailspin, but from the preview it looks copacetic. Aaron has real amazing grips on these characters despite being less than a dozen issues in, and Nick Bradshaw has quickly come from being a surprising follow-up to Chris Bachalo to arguably being more in line with the book than Bachalo himself. Next up for me would be Walking Dead #98 (Image, $2.99), the low march toward #100. After that I’d get FF #18 (Marvel, $2.99) for something arguably better than its parent book Fantastic Four. I hope this title lives on past Hickman’s run on the book, because it’s succeeded in being more than the stereotypical kids team book. After that, I’d snap up Supercrooks #3 (Marvel/Icon, $3.99). Leinil Yu is on a real high here, doing art that goes up against his great High Roads and Silent Dragon era work. Mark Millar’s story is really optimum Millar-style work, but Yu’s storytelling and rendering here are the best in some time.
If I had $30, I’d buy one additional thing: Empowered, Vol. 7 (Dark Horse, $16.99). Adam Warren has really blossomed since his days doing Dirty Pair, and Empowered is a great second act showing the seedy side of superheroes. Adding to that, Adam Warren keeps up a great online presence over on DeviantArt and releases all sorts of magnificent process sketches to go along with the book.
If I could splurge, I’d spend my grocery money this week on Batman: Death By Design (DC, $24.99). Like some sort of Mister X meets Dark Knight crossover, this book is an interesting work especially in contrast with the day-to-day of DC with New 52. I still think of Chip Kidd more as a designer than a writer despite reading his first novel, but I hope this breaks that in my mind and allows me to see him for both his creative avenues.
Let me try to expand upon them a bit.
The first in a planned trilogy of original graphic novels, Creation Myths certainly lives up to its name.
Brian Froud, the creature designer who was integral in the creation of the 1982 film is credited with “Concept, character designs and cover,” and he also pens an introduction. Brian Holguin writes, while the talented Alex Sheikman and Lizzy John provide the art. Prose encapsulations of several of the stories follow, so that different versions of the same “myths” co-exist between the covers.
The work is all fine, but I found it lacking a relevance or urgency, due perhaps to how far it is removed from what I know or care of the setting and premise of the original film (a drawback that might fade in succeeding volumes) and to a more insurmountable deficiency of the medium: Comics can’t capture puppetry, the jolt of sheer wonder that accompanied seeing such bizarre creatures move so naturalistically across a movie screen that proved the film’s greatest and most enduring virtue.
The Astro Smurf (Papercutz) Despite mild—or should I say morbid?—curiosity, I’ve decided to hold off on seeing the new Smurfs movie until it’s on DVD. Or has been on DVD for a few years. Mostly because I’m afraid that seeing it will make it that much harder for me to enjoy Papercutz’ repackaged reprints of Peyo’s original Smurfs comics, which, even in the seventh volume, remain a surprising amount of fun.
The Astro Smurf features the unnamed Smurf whose defining characteristic is to be the first Smurf to fly into outer space and visit another planet. Papa Smurf and the rest of the village go to great (bordering on insane) lengths to make the little Smurf’s dream come true, even if it’s not technically possible for Smurf technology to send a Smurf into outer space. It’s paired with another story of Smurf tech, as a pair of Smurfs invents a submarine, and Gargamel builds his own sub to destroy it (That one’s titled “The Smurf Submarine,” not “The Hunt For Blue October”).
As with previous volumes, there are some less-than-perfect packaging decisions and questionable translation choices, but they’re more glitches than mortal wounds—The Smurfs trades remain one of the better amount of quality comics to price of comics values on the stands.