Monday, April 20, 2009

"Well, it's only a quarter..."

The beauty of the quarter boxes is that I find and buy books that I would normally not even take a second glance at. If the cover looks even mildly appealing or the subject matter might be something I like, in the pile it goes. Everybody always says you should "broaden your horizons," right? It's true, and it's even better when you can do so on the cheap. I may not like everything that I grab out of the cheap bins, but when they are less than a dollar, how can I really complain?

What better way to try new things then to pick up a "Special Introductory One-shot." After hearing all of the praise for Jay Faerber's Noble Causes series on multiple podcasts, I decided that I would be looking for some issues, and just my luck, I found Noble Causes: First Impressions #1 in one of the cheap boxes. A lot like DC's Secret Files books, Noble Causes: First Impressions #1 uses a couple small stories to introduce the reader to the Noble family, a family of superheroes that save the world while being followed around by the paparazzi and talked about in the tabloids. Both stories were written by Faerber with pencils from Billy Dallas Patton on the first story and Patrick Gleason (of Green Lantern Corps fame) on the second. Now I am going to be perfectly honest here. The book didn't really do anything for me. I knew going in that the series was a "soap opera with superheroes" but I guess I didn't know how much soap opera there would be. I don't know if I can explain it real well though since there are a lot of superhero books on the shelves that seem like soap operas too. Look at Spider-Man. Geez, how many hearts has he broken? I guess the difference is in the characters. Spider-Man and Mary Jane are multifaceted characters while it felt like every character in Noble Causes were just basic soap opera type characters. Maybe I need to try more than just this introductory issue.

Next up, we have a Top Cow two-fer: The Darkness #3 by Phil Hester and Michael Broussard and Witchblade #118 by Ron Marz & Stjepan Sejic. I came into both of these books totally blind. Top Cow has kinda flown under my comics radar and the only things I know about these books is what I have gleaned from ads and podcasts. Thankfully, both books had well written recap pages so I had enough info to know what is going on and enjoy both issues. (There has been some debate lately about recap pages. I find myself firmly on the pro side. I love a recap page and I think they can be pretty important. Every book is someone's first, right?) Admittedly, based on these two issues, I think I have been missing out on some goodness from Top Cow. I really enjoyed both issues. I can't think of one serious villian-based book from Marvel or DC right now, and The Darkness seemed to have a very cool premise of Grand Theft Auto meets Venom. In one scene, the Darkness summons all of these "darklings" just to make a giant pile to fling himself onto a helicopter. One word: epic. Phil Hester, I applaud you sir. I see the purchase of some Darkness trades in my future. As for Witchblade, I will admit I had some preconceptions. Like I said before, all I knew of Witchblade was what I had gleaned from ads and magazines, so I assumed that Witchblade was just a simple cheesecake book. Most of the ads for the book have the title character wearing little more that strategically placed armor, and honestly, I like the ladies just as much as the next guy but cheesecake books don't really do anything for me. That is why I never picked up any Witchblade books. Sadly, I wish I had known that I was wrong. I might have picked up a Witchblade book a long time ago. The story in this issue was very cool with the son of one of Witchblade's enemies taking up his father's quest to steal the Witchblade. Artistically, the issue shined. I was amazed by Stjepan Sejic's painted art. Sejic's art alone would be enough to make me buy this book on a regular basis. Top Cow is batting a thousand with me right now and I will be looking for more of their books in the near future.

Now I saved the best for last. I present to you Boris the Bear Slaughters the Teenage Radioactive Black Belt Mutant Ninja Critters. This was one of those books that I saw laying in the quarter box and I knew I had to make it mine. Produced by Dark Horse Comics and written by Mike Richardson, Randy Stradley, and James Dean Smith with Smith on art as well, Boris The Bear is one of those books that just makes you ask yourself "What in God's name were they thinking!?" Well, luckily for the reader, they ask that very question in the preface to the book on the inside front cover. Apparently, Boris is the answer to the horrible influx of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles clones and ripoffs that flooded the comic book market in the 80's. Just so you know Boris's answer is of course a machine gun and katana which he uses to brutally kill Usagi Yojimbo, Cerebus, the Ninja Turtles, the Hamster Vice, Ambush Bug, Snoopy, the Looney Tunes, Captain Carrot, the Ewoks, the Smurfs, and many more cartoon favorites. (The best part of the book was the one character Boris spares from his carnage: Droopy Dog. Boris just says "You can go. I like you.") Honestly, Boris the Bear really was interesting to read, purely as an artifact of the 80's. I was right in the TMNT demographic at that time so I never realized how much the Turtles took over pop culture. I loved them and the more I had of them the better. I guess they needed a bear to come and clean house a little, and that is how we got Boris. This is the kinda comic I dig in the longboxes for.

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