Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 2, Issue 3

IciclesToday I heard a new phrase that is sure to add to the (ever-growing) list of things that will keep me up at night. Independently, the two words that comprise this particular phrase are harmless enough, I suppose. Put together, though? Not so nice. Judge for yourself:

"Hiring Freeze."

Okay, granted, the word "freeze" doesn't exactly conjure the nicest of images. Still, put together, don't the words "hiring" and "freeze" just make you feel all warm and squishy inside?

Yeah, me too.

See, just before Christmas, I interviewed with a company that is, frankly, the perfect fit for what I want. It's in my field (which is becoming a major problem, as many publishing houses have cut staff and in some cases...don't exist anymore), it allows for growth, and the location is near perfect.

So I had the interview, and it went well, and then last week I got a call from the publisher at the company, asking for references. This, I was told by people I mentioned the job to, was a good thing.

And, apparently, they were right. It meant that I was on the short list for the gig, and at the very least, I'd get a personal phone call (from a real, live human being!), telling me that I didn't get the job. Which, at this point in my job search, would be a win.

This morning, I got an email from the publisher, telling me that the position has been frozen, and that she'd get back to me when So, yeah, back to the drawing board, I guess.

Granted, I didn't stop my job search because I had the interview. Quite the opposite, really, as I applied to more jobs in the past month than I did in November and the first half of December, combined.

I guess it's reassuring to know that I'm on a short list for something, though. Even if that short list exists on an alternate earth, in a different dimension. At this point, I'm ready to apply for the position of "lackey" in Latveria.

But, as it does every week, Wednesday brings new hope. And, if not hope, then comics. And sometimes that's just as good. Recently, I've been reading as many books as I can from my long-standing pile of new comics, so I'm now actually making some progress.

I'd say I'm still just about three months behind on most things, but I'm getting there. Not everything I'm reading has been great, and it's helped to really trim the fat when it comes to buying new books each week. I've even managed to successfully wait for a trade, and not buy any of the single issues!

For those of you who might be wondering, the trade is Thor, Volume 3, by J. Michael Straczynski.

Today, though, I'd like to do a little off-roading, if you will. We're gonna take Waiting for off the beaten path a bit as this week sees the release of a handful of less publicized titles and smaller press books that look pretty interesting.

So, in the spirit of advocating the less hyped titles out there and assuring financial well being (mine, mostly), let's start with Vertigo's latest series. From madman comics visionary Grant Morrison comes Joe the Barbarian, issue one.

And, since it's Vertigo, this number one issue will be on sale today for one dollar. A full comic--with both story and art--for a buck. Vertigo is great, and their decision to price every new number one at a dollar and every volume one trade at just under ten dollars is just what the industry needs.
Joe the BarbarianIt's also just what the fan base needs in this current, wonderful economy. Vertigo seems to listen to its readership, and genuinely give a hoot about the people buying their product line. Sure, they have the mega conglomerate backing of Warner Brothers to help them in their not-so-Robin-Hood-like endeavor, but hey, Marvel's got Disney now, right? I bet it'll be no time at all before Marvel starts giving us new product for a buck.

Yeah, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

Anyway, here's Vertigo's description for Joe the Barbarian, a series that just seems...interesting:

Having an overactive imagination can get a kid through a lot, but it doesn't change the facts: Joe's still the kid in school that can't fit in. He's the victim of bullies. His dad died overseas in the Iraq war. And then there's the Type 1 diabetes he has to live with.

So is it insulin-deprived delirium or something much, much bigger that transports Joe to a land inhabited by all his toys – from ninja commandos to action robots to magical knights to star fleet captains? Is Joe really the savior of this wild fantasyland that's been held under siege by dark magic and evil forces? With the help of a samurai rodent, is he ready to take back besieged castles and win the freedom of an oppressed people? Or is he just an over imaginative boy who could die if he doesn't take his meds?

White-hot writer Grant Morrison follows up his phenomenal BATMAN AND ROBIN with an epic adventure that's Home Alone by way of Lord of the Rings accompanied with to-die-for Art by future superstar Sean Murphy (YEAR ONE: BATMAN/SCARECROW, HELLBLAZER).

This book sounds eminently interesting to me, and I really am looking forward to seeing if it delivers. Personally, Morrison tends to be hit or miss, and when he misses, I usually close the book feeling very confused. He's kinda like Warren Ellis in that regard for me. Sometimes it's gold, sometimes it's techno-babble that might as well be another language, written for a whole different reader.

For example, I love Morrison's Batman: Gothic and All Star Superman, but his latest foray into the mainstream DC Universe, Batman and Robin, just didn't do it for me. Neither did Final Crisis, for that matter. I tend to like his non-licensed work, though (my favorite being a long ago graphic novel called The Mystery Play), so I'm confident that Joe will be a good read.

And, really, for a dollar, how can I go wrong?

I'm hoping my LCS ordered a few copies--I have faith, because my shop has gotten all of the Vertigo one dollar number ones so far, and with Grant Morrison attached, I'm willing to bet they ordered a couple extra copies.

Next up we have another lesser known book, written by Dark Horse's Scott Allie, called Solomon Kane: Death's Black Riders. This is the second Dark Horse Solomon Kane series, and by all accounts, it looks to be a solid series.
Solomon KaneThat said, I need to come clean a moment here. I did not love that first Kane series, which came out about a year ago from Dark Horse. Understand, though, that Solomon Kane is one of my very favorite literary characters, written and created by the incomparable Robert E. Howard.

Although he only wrote a handful of them in his lifetime, those Howard Kane stories are riveting and wonderful and dark and creepy, and I just felt like the first Dark Horse series fell short of what the character could--and should--be.

The series picked up quite a bit in the last issue, though, so I have high hopes for this new series.

Now, with a movie coming out soon about the character, there will certainly be an increased interest in the original Howard stories. That, or since many people don't have the attention span to sit down and, y'know, read a book, they might turn to the comics instead.

Which is a shame, because Howard's short stories are well worth the time.

Still, if the movie gets people into the comics shop, then I'm all for it. But let's get back to the comic at hand. Black Riders takes place after the first Dark Horse series (which is available in trade for around $15), but this new mini is a stand-alone tale, so finding the first book is not necessary to understand what's going on.

Basically, all you need to know is the following--Puritan warrior fights supernatural evil.

Pretty fantastic high concept, isn't it? And here's the blurb for this week's issue one:

Taking place after the events in Solomon Kane: The Castle of the Devil--but written to stand on its own--this new series delves deep into the horrors scattered throughout Germany's Black Forest. When Kane comes across gypsies being terrorized by roving bandits, he's not sure what's worse--the bandits who wish to rob and rape innocent travelers or the evils that spew forth from the forest, intent on killing every man and woman around!

With creature designs by Eisner Award-winning artist Guy Davis, this series uses Robert E. Howard's "Death's Black Riders" fragment and the "Rattle of Bones" short story as springboards to launch into a suspenseful and terrifying new excursion with Howard's troubled Puritan hero.

Dark Horse's new Solomon Kane series features the return of writer Scott Allie and artist Mario Guevara (The Lone Ranger and Tonto), who are joined by colorist Juan Ferreyra (Rex Mundi) and cover artist Darick Robertson (The Boys, Transmetropolitan)!

"With art and writing that perfectly captures the pulp weirdness of his birth, Solomon Kane officially becomes the only Puritan I've ever been a fan of. Don't miss out on these weird tales, you'll regret it." -Ed Brubaker

If you like Howard's Conan stories, or if you're interested in seeing what Van Helsing could have been if it was done right, check this book out. I'm gonna buy the first issue and hope the creative team can pick up where they left off with the last issue of the previous series.

And, finally today, a book from BOOM! Studios, who had an impressive 2009. Between Mark Waid's hit series, Irredeemable, and the spot-on Die Hard: Year One by Howard Chaykin, BOOM! has been on a roll. This week sees issue number two of the Irredeemable spin-off, Incorruptible, hit shelves.
IncorruptibleIt's the story about a bad guy gone good, and last month's issue one was a good start for the new series. That issue should still be around, so check your shop if you missed it.

BOOM! not so quietly made their presence felt in the comics world last year, and I think we'll be hearing and seeing a lot from them this year, as well. With Waid running a tight ship, BOOM! stands primed to elevate itself to Dark Horse status in the industry, and that's saying a lot about a new entity in a volatile market.

Here's the blurb for this week's issue:

Last April BOOM! Studios showed the world that MARK WAID IS EVIL with the smash-hit series IRREDEEMABLE. Now BOOM! shows the world that Mark Waid is...INCORRUPTIBLE! In this new ongoing, the reformed super villain Max Damage and his sidekick, the less reformed Jailbait, set out on their first mission--to extract vengeance against an old ally who must be brought to justice and who holds an important key to Max's plans to bring down the Plutonian!

If you're a fan of Irredeemable, then this new series is a no-brainer. And if you're just looking for an interesting spin on an old cliche, then I'd suggest checking it out.

I'm running a bit late, so I'll have to end this right here. It's a good week of comics, and I hope you all find something worthwhile at the store this afternoon. That's it from me. What are you Waiting for?

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