GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — November 13th, 2013

Comic Book Corner Comic Books GeekMom
Earthward by Bryan Q. Miller and Marcio Takara copyright Bryan Q. Miller

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week I take a look at DC: The New Frontier in hopes it’s better than the movie while Corrina checks Earthward and Coffin Hill #2. Melody and her daughter check out Stinky and Pinky, a fun children’s graphic novel and Kay gives us some insight into The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice.

Dakster Sullivan — DC: The New Frontier, Vol. 1, by Darwyn Cooke

DC: The New Frontier  Image: DC Comics
DC: The New Frontier Image: DC Comics

DC: The New Frontier was recommended to me by fellow GeekMom Corrina and while I’m happy I read it, I can’t say I enjoyed it 100%. You see, this isn’t my first experience with DC The New Frontier. My first experience with the storyline was with the DC Comics movie of the same name and I didn’t care for that to much, either.

One of the things that threw me off, as silly as it sounds, was seeing Batman smiling on the cover of the DVD. I’m sorry but Batman doesn’t smile. Period. Despite my feelings toward the movie, I read the book anyway, hoping it would be better. The stories themselves were good, but there were times I didn’t know if I was coming or going.

One of the things I really didn’t like was the World War II setting and the politics that followed. Since Hal Jordan is a pilot, it made sense that his stories would have some politics, but at times it was overwhelming. My favorite parts of the story included Martian Manhunter taking on his John Jones persona in Gotham and his first interaction with Batman. They had a fun chemistry that I enjoyed reading. I think the fear that Batman instilled in Martian was a little too much, but then again, it’s in Batman’s character to be that way.

Wonder Woman also has a nice bit in the story and her famous “there’s the door, spaceman,” line finally makes sense to me. If it wasn’t for Batman and Wonder Woman’s stories, I don’t know if I would have really enjoyed this book.

Despite feeling like this storyline wasn’t for me, I went ahead and purchased a copy of vol. 2 on eBay pretty cheap. I’m optimistic that I’ll be a little happier with it, because that’s when more of the action with the Green Lantern is supposed to happen. DC: The New Frontier is rated for ages 12 and up.

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Earthward by Bryan Q. Miller and drawn by Marcio Takara
Coffin Hill #2 by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda

Earthward is an all-ages (ages 7+) space-faring comic that I pledged to on Kickstarter and received in digital form last month. This was the first time I’ve received a full graphic novel from a pledge and also the first time I used my iPad mini to read one. The experience was great on both ends. The story is about six kids who are sent from their parent’s spaceship out on a supply run. When they return, the only one left is little Daniella, who’s being watched over by a teaching robot. Even worse, their parents left a message to not look for them.

The six are a varied lot. The eldest Ben, is trying to do his best to be the parent of the group that’s left, though he has to face the skepticism of his sister, Alyssa; Smack is the young the young hustler, always thinking he can talk his way out of trouble; the twins Cody and Trin are the tech geniuses of the group; and Daniella, teamed with Teachbot, is far more formidable than she first appears.

The book is 130 pages of story, allowing all the characters time to breathe. First, the group has to stave off a pirate attack, and there’s a really neat space action sequence in which Takara’s art shines. Ben decides to take them to the local authorities in that part of space to start the search for their parents but that turns out to be a very bad idea; everyone seems to be after the science experiment their parents were working on for years. The main villain is nearly as interesting as the kids, and his motives don’t seem totally bad, though his methods leave a lot to be desired.

For me, the stand-out characters were Smack, because he has an irreverent take on everything, and the Daniella and Teachbot team. I was skeptical of having such a young girl be at the center of menace but between Teachbot’s intelligence and the robot’s ability to transform–more neat artwork from Takara–she turned out to be a highlight.

Mysteries are uncovered, the kids all bond, and while their quest is serious, the book is a great deal of fun, especially with Takara’s crisp clear panels showcased by my iPad’s resolution. The digital edition allows the reader to swipe to turn pages or ask for a full screen of all the different pages, in case readers need to flip back. I admit, I miss the paper and being able to hold one page and flip back to the others but that could be the old-style reader in me.

The tale ends the story in this book but there’s clearly more to the quest, so here’s hoping Miller launches another Kickstarter soon for part 2.

Coffin Hill #2
The first issue of this New England gothic horror series was very promising, centered around the homecoming of Eve Coffin, the latest in a line of evil witches, back to her family estate. Eve had tried to escape her family’s legacy by becoming a cop but that ended after she was injured in the line of duty. Instead, she left the force to return to the mansion and the nearby woods, where something horrible happened after Eve, as a rebellious teenager, called forth a seriously evil magical force.
The story in the first issue jumped around quite a bit from teenage Eve, her parents, and the ritual in the woods, to her last case as a police officer and thus was a little confusing. Issue #2 is a great deal more straightforward and easier to parse, with the re-introduction of her teenage boyfriend, now a police officer himself, and centers on the mystery of local teenagers who are disappearing into those same woods.

Eve is a fascinating protagonist because I can’t tell which way she’s going to fall: Will she gain redemption or is she eventually going to be consumed by the evil that she called as a spoiled teen?

The Unwritten Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice
The Unwritten Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice

Kay Moore– The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (published by Vertigo). This is an original, hardcover graphic novel that is a prequel to the series The Unwritten.

The first thing I have to say is that this volume, as usual, has a sinfully beautiful cover from Yuko Shimizu. Online reproductions can’t replicate the shimmer of the silvery waves with the shiny bubble containing our characters. I always find The Unwritten covers attractive, eye-catching, and thought-provoking; before I knew anything about The Unwritten, I would see the cover of #1 and I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and eventually I was reading the series. Many artists contributed to the art here, which is true to the series and delivers the story well. I even liked the handwriting font that is used in the journal-style entries used for parts of the story.

The book explains the “birth” of the protagonists of the two stories in the comic series–it alternates between Tommy Taylor, a literary pop-culture meme-slash-iconic boy wizard, and his namesake, Thomas Taylor, son of the author who creates the Tommy tale. Before words like “meme” and “iconic” stop your reading, know that these stories are written on multiple self-referential and cultural levels, both cannibalizing and canonizing our pop culture, sometimes with a tongue in the cheek and sometimes with a finger thrust down the throat.

This graphic novel has a simpler, more straightforward pair of plots and inter-relationships with our literary treasures than in the series, but still resonates with shadows, echoes, hints, and flavors of characters and plots from the popular psyche. The story itself is a clever mix, almost a parody, of our most popular cultural references, as in Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings and Narnia. I enjoyed many humorous layerings and references and I’m sure everyone finds their own based on personal reading history, although it is hard to miss the magical world, boy with glasses, a wand, two companions, and a world to save from ultimate evil. Right at the beginning there’s a delightful episode that concludes with a whale swallowing our hero, but it is preceded by a vociferous bout of one-upmanship.

I am not going to explain the plot lines in summary form, to avoid spoiling the points where these stories touch on and reflect upon their meta stories. They tell both familiar and complicated tales of family relationships.

The plot here is not as deep and complicated as The Unwritten, but it is referential to those stories offering some explanation and some back-story. It is tastiest for those of us who follow the series but it is fun all by itself. It gave me the feeling of playing a game, layering on the complex inter-workings of the two Tommy stories and catching whiffs of all the cultural and literary references and what their role is in this tale. This graphic novel is a satisfying addition to the story verse for readers of The Unwritten and an easy entry point for new readers, although a fuller understanding would be achieved by reading volume one before reading this prequel. This is the only work by Mike Cary or Peter Gross that I’ve read, but I am going to go find more. The Unwritten is now expanding into a crossover series with Fables, so I will have to find out more about that.

Suggested for 17 and above; readers need to be that age to be exposed to enough literature to understand the context.

Melody Mooney– Ella’s Pull Pile: Pinky & Stinky by James Kochalka

Pinky & Stinky
Pinky & Stinky

Ella loves the two reluctant heroes of the Top Shelf graphic novel Pinky & Stinky by James Kochalka. It is easy to fall in love with this pair of cute piglet astronauts who were called to destiny despite themselves. Their mission: to be the first pigs on Pluto. Ella was concerned when the two got terribly off course and crashed on the moon. Looking for a way back they stumbled across their fellow human astronauts on the moon’s surface.

Sadly, they did not take kindly to meddlesome pigs and cast them out to find another way home. It is not long until the pink pair were thrust into action. First captured by and then rescuing the moon men and their colony from the short sighted humans and their space program. Ella loved the moon princess and her room full of cute little cutie collectibles. I found the story to follow the true heroes journey and a gentle reminder that friendship with just a dash of forgiveness and cuteness can solve even galactic size problems. There are two hundred and eight pages of action in this Eisner Award nominated romp. It is a fun read for adults and little piggies alike. A downloadable version is available on the Top Shelf website.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

DC Comics Logo  marvel logo

Aquaman Vol. 2 The Others TP
Aquaman Vol. 3 Throne Of Atlantis HC
Astro City #6
Batgirl #25
Batman #25
Batman Arkham Unhinged #20 (Final Issue)
Batman Li’l Gotham #8
Coffin Hill #2
Constantine #8
DC Comics Essentials Green Lantern #1
FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics #5
Forever Evil Arkham War #2 (Of 6)
Green Lantern Corps #25
Injustice Gods Among Us Annual #1
Injustice Gods Among Us Vol. 1 HC
Joe Kubert Presents TP
Justice League Of America #9
Justice League Of America’s Vibe #9
Katana #9
Nightwing #25
Red Lanterns Vol. 3 The Second Prophecy TP
Silver Age Teen Titans Archives Vol. 2 HC
Smallville Season 11 #19
Suicide Squad #25
Superboy #25
Superman / Wonder Woman #2
Swamp Thing Vol. 3 Rotworld The Green Kingdom TP
Worlds’ Finest #17
All-New X-Men #18
Avengers Arena #17
Captain America Living Legend #3 (Of 4)
Cataclysm Ultimate Spider-Man #1 (Of 3)
Deadpool #19
Essential Daredevil Vol. 6 TP
Fearless Defenders #11
Guardians Of The Galaxy #1
Hulk By Jeph Loeb The Complete Collection Vol. 1 TP
Marvel Knights X-Men #1 (Of 5)
Marvel Masterworks Marvel Two-In-One Vol. 1 HC
Marvel Universe Avengers Assemble #2
Marvel Universe The Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Digest Vol. 4 TP
Savage Wolverine #11
Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #5
Superior Spider-Man #21
Thor God Of Thunder #15
Thor Sunlight And Shadows TP
Thor The Warriors Three The Complete Collection TP
Wolverine #11
Wolverine Sabretooth Reborn TP
X-Men #1
X-Men Gold #1
X-Men Legacy Vol. 3 Revenants TP
IDW Logo 2 Dark Horse Logo (2)

Chilling Archives Of Horror Comics Vol. 5 Haunted Horror HC
Doctor Who Prisoners Of Time #11 (Of 12)
G.I. JOE #10
G.I. JOE A Real American Hero #196
G.I. JOE Future Noir TP
Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #3 (Of 4)
My Little Pony Art Gallery
My Little Pony Micro-Series #9 (Spike)
Other Dead #3 (Of 5)
Popeye Classics #16
Rocketeer The Spirit Pulp Friction #3 (Of 4)
Star Trek Khan #2 (Of 5)
Star Trek The Stardate Collection Vol. 1 The Early Voyages HC
Star Trek Vol. 6 After Darkness TP
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics Vol. 2 #1
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villain Micro-Series Vol. 1 TP
Transformers IDW Collection Vol. 1 HC
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye Vol. 5 TP
Transformers Prime Beast Hunters #7
Transformers Robots In Disguise #1 (Hundred Penny Press Edition)
Triple Helix #2 (Of 4)
Wraith Welcome To Christmasland #1 (Of 5)
Abe Sapien #7
Akaneiro HC
Bandette Vol. 1 Presto HC
Bloodhound Crowbar Medicine #2 (Of 5)
Clown Fatale #1 (Of 4)
Colossal Conan HC
Lone Wolf And Cub Omnibus Vol. 3 TP
Resident Alien The Suicide Blonde #3 (Of 3)
S.H.O.O.T. First #2 (Of 4)
Sabertooth Swordsman HC
Shaolin Cowboy #2
Star Wars #1 (Of 8)(Lucas Draft)
Star Wars #11
Terminator The Burning Earth TP
X #7

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading / KF10 = Kid-Friendly for 10-years old and younger

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