Around in the world for 180 days

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It’s been six months since our first post on MLD and I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the experiences we’ve had and milestones we’ve reached.

We’ve had hits from around the world, which is always incredible to me.  Seeing pageloads from all over North and South America, Europe and Asia is pretty cool.  Still waiting for Australia, Africa and Antarctica, along with 10 states.

While we haven’t gotten as many comments posted here as we’d like, there has certainly been a great response and great support from the people reading the site.  If you’re hesitant to post your reactions here, don’t be.  You’re among friends who would love to hear what you think.

Some of the feedback we have received has helped with a lot of our site updates and changes we’ve made to our navigation since we started out.  Hopefully, you can find anything you’re looking for when you’re on the site, and any suggestions are always welcome.

The searches that have been used to get here are probably the most fascinating part of the site to me.  Countless people have found us searching for “floories” along with “male nudity”, “tearjerkers“, “how to roast peppers for human consumption” and various spellings of “Djurjevic“.  Of course there’s always the odd search for “pocky” every now and then.

Thank you for the attention you’ve paid to MLD.  It’s great to know that there are people out there enjoying what we’re doing.


REVIEW: Wednesday Comics #1

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I know Blackest Night shipped this week, but for me THE comics event of the Summer started last week with the debut of Wednesday Comics #1. Wednesday Comics is exactly the type of outside the box project I wish we saw more of today. DC has collected some of the biggest names in comics including the Newbery Award winning Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Rizzo, Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook, Paul Pope, Kyle Baker, Walt Simonson and Brian Stelfreeze… the list just goes on an on… to work on a weekly series styled after the Comics section of the Sunday newspaper. Giant, full color, one-page stories will run over the next 12 weeks starring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Sgt. Rock, Metamorpho, the Teen Titans, Hawkman, and more. Each page is four times the size of a regular comic page and looks amazing.

To publicize the event, DC struck a deal for the entire Superman story to run on USAToday.com in weekly installments. The first part of the story was even published in the print edition of that paper (though let’s be honest… in 2009 more people are reading the online version than the print edition). I don’t know that this is going to bring a ton of new people into stores looking for the full version of Wednesday Comics, but it’s still something beyond what we normally see in terms of promotion.

I’m typically a story guy. The writing is what keeps me coming back to a book month after month.  And if there’s anything that seems clear from WC #1, it is that you’re probably not going to get a particularly satisfying piece of any story on a given week. Most of the features in issue one are heavy on origin and back story.  This is ok in my opinion because how many people know ANYTHING about Kamandi or Adam Strange or even Deadman? The one story that I DID really enjoy, however, was Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred’s Metamorpho: The Element Man.  That comic was just retro fun.  While the story doesn’t seem to be the focus in WC, it took a surprisingly long time to read the issue and there’s definitely enough story to not leave you feeling short changed.

Really it’s clear right from the second you unfold a copy of Wednesday Comics and finally grasp the size of each page that this project was always about the art.  The opening Batman story isn’t anything special, but starting with page 2 and 3 with Kamandi and Superman I had a giant grin on my face as I read through the issue like a 1o year old in 1964. I love the retro designs of the Green Lantern story, the strange oddly faceless art on Teen Titans, the otherworldly colors on Wonder Woman, the intensity of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. I suspect the Demon/Catwoman team-up is going to be great fun. I like the idea of the Flash page being split up between a Flash story and a parallel story featuring his future wife.

However, the two absolute highlights are Kyle Baker’s art on Hawkman and Paul Pope on Strange Adventures.  Kyle Baker is a guy who I’m only really familiar with his cover artwork for projects like The Truth and Plastic Man both of which had a cartoony feel to them.  His Hawkman, however, leaps off the page and into action (apparently featuring the Aquaman-esque ability to control birds… is that normal?  If so, I never knew that.)

There’s something about Paul Pope’s odd art and the attacking Rock-People of Ragathann… I guess the way it revels in its pulp roots… that I just love.

To me THIS is a book worth $4.  And that’s something I can’t say about too many other books on the market. Yes, this review is a week late. I intended to skip it and just review issue 2, but my shop was sold out.  AGAIN.  Good sign or bad sign?

PS Dan Didio go away.  Stop writing comics.  Stop editing comics.  There’s no reason for your writing to be in this book except that you keep chasing the talented writers away from DC… having said that thanks for allowing DC to try something special.


REVIEW: North 40 #1

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I picked up North 40 #1 last week on a whim. I’m not sure why. Did I read an interview with its creators? I don’t remember doing that. Was it the cover image? It’s a pretty cool design, but it doesn’t tell you much about the book’s contents. I don’t even think I’ve ever heard of writer Aaron Williams or artist Fiona Staples before. Also, has WildStorm even published a good title since Sleeper ended several year ago? If they have I didn’t buy it. (I miss Sleeper.)

Regardless of why I bought it, I’m glad I did.

The first issue feels like an old school, creepy Vertigo horror/fantasy title. I really don’t want to talk too much about the specifics of the issue for fear of ruining it for you but it sets up a pretty cool though creepy world to play in. The art in the book is pretty great across the board. And while I’m showering praise on the book, let’s be honest… It’s issue #1. It could still go in a million HORRIBLE directions. But this issue feels like it has that special spark.

Actually to jump backwards for a second, WildStorm publishes Ex Machina which is a pretty great book. So I guess I took a shot at the WS imprint earlier for no good reason. I mention Ex Machina specifically because it’s written by Brian K. Vaughn and there are clearly some parallels between the events of the first issue of North 40 and the first issue of his fantastic Y: The Last Man. As both books are all about an event… A moment in time… after which the world will never be the same. While in Y the entire world is literally affected, North 40 seems intent on focusing specifically on the residents of the rural community of Conover County. (One major difference between the way the two titles launch is that North 40 seems to show exactly why the event takes place, while Y only hinted at it for years.)

So what is the pivotal event that seems to change Conover County forever? All of the people in the county mysteriously fall asleep at the exact same moment one night, and when they awake at 6:33 a.m. the next morning all hell has broken loose… literally.

“That was when things in Conover County… Well, then they got kinda odd…”



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So this week two high profile comics shipped that were both labeled “Reborn.” The latest installment of DC’s Batman Reborn is Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Batman and Robin #2 and Marvel’s much hyped Captain America Reborn #1 by Ed Brubaker and Bryan Hitch. First off, let me say it’s a ridiculously strange thing for DC to have labeled their Bat-Books as Batman Reborn. The new Marvel Reborn series has been well publicized for months (even if Marvel tried unsuccessfully to keep it’s content quiet). So it was a completely underhanded move on DC’s part to push their new Batman books out under the same label a month before Captain America shipped. (Also, Marvel are complete idiots for making a big deal out of last month’s Cap #600 which was shipped early to retailers at their expense to avoid a planned newspaper article spoiling its contents. Of course, the article ended up managing to not mention Cap #600 at all or spoiling anything in the issue. The article did spoil the ending to this Cap Reborn mini-series which didn’t even begin to ship until weeks after the article was published and will continue to be published for the next five months. Thanks Marvel.)

So I guess the key question is are these books any good?

First off, let me completely admit my bias. I (like most humans) enjoy Batman stories and have always thought Captain America sucks and is totally lame as a character.

With that out of the way, Captain America Reborn #1 isn’t that strong to be honest. I’ve been surprisingly enjoying the Captain America title since Ed Brubaker relaunched it. While I hated that Marvel spoiled Cap’s death in the newspapers, I was amazed that they pulled off the resurrection of Cap’s sidekick so well. (Especially considering DC’s simultaneously launched resurrection of Jason Todd went so poorly.) Bucky becoming the new Captain America after decades as a Soviet assasin was ridiculously compelling. And now that they’re bringing back the original Captain America Steve Rogers… It just doesn’t feel like the right time yet. Couple that with the apparent revelation that Rogers’ resurrection will somehow involve needing Sharon Carter to act as his constant and Rogers being displaced in time though within his body… It just feels like Brubaker is auditioing for a job writing for Lost.

After 50 issues of Captain America basically ignoring what was happening in the rest of the Marvel Universe (with one huuuuuuuge exception), it feels completely wrong to see the Dark Avengers show up in this story. What should be a classic evergreen story for Marvel will now be forever tied down with unneeded late 2000s continuity that there is no way will age well. You might as well have had NFL Superpro guest star. And the art from superstar Bryan Hitch somehow looks exactly like the art Cap has had for the last several years, so I can’t help but wonder why he’s even on the book.

Having said all that, I believe in Ed Brubaker. So we’ll have to see where this all leads.

Batman and Robin on the other hand is fantastic. The action sequences are stunning. Morrison is crafting genuinely interesting relationships between the new Batman and his brat of a Robin as well as the between the duo and the police. Batman’s struggles with his new role are perfect, especially for a character that basically hasn’t been written well in a decade. These two issues have gone a long way towards redeeming Dick Grayson… (Which continues to make me think he’ll be killed of when Bruce Wayne is inevitably brought back.) Mr. Pig is looking like he’ll be a creepy addition to the Bat-rogues Gallery. And Frank Quitely may not have ever drawn superhero comics that looked this good. There’s a double page spread of Batman fighting a group of foes in which the action just leaps off the page. I’ll be sad to see Quitely leave in the very near future.


X-Men v. Avengers

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It’s Wednesday and that’s big day for comic book fans everywhere.  This particular Wednesday, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next chapter of Marvel‘s X-Men/Dark Avengers Utopia crossover.  To explain why, here’s some recent history.

Some yahoo “super heroes” filming a reality television show blew up 600 people in Stamford, Connecticut.  The government responded by requiring all costumed heroes to be registered and licensed in order to operate.  Some heroes agree (Iron Man) and some do not (Captain America) and a super-human Civil War breaks out.  The pro-registration side wins out and Iron Man becomes the director of SHIELD and all things related to registration.  His 50 State Initiative to put a team of heroes in every state is the perfect opportunity for a group of shape-shifting alien religious zealots to infiltrate and take over.  They believe the Earth is theirs by divine right and Stark is unable to stop their Secret Invasion.  In the heat of the battle  to drive back the alien hordes, Norman Osborn (the once and future Green Goblin) delivers the killing shot to the invaders’ leader and is elevated from his position leading a team of super villains seeking rehabilitation (right…) in the Thunderbolts program, to Stark’s replacement as master of all things super human.  In order to solidify his Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe, Orborn creates his own team of Avengers to back him up and forms a cabal with some heavy hitters (Doctor Doom, Namor, Loki, The Hood, and Emma Frost) to control the world under his watchful eye.  In the meantime, the Scarlet Witch went crazy and used her magic to reduce the powered mutant community to about 200 individuals after altering the world during the House of M.  The remaining mutants became in that moment an endangered species and Cyclops gathered all the willing in San Francisco to create a safe haven under the protection of the X-Men.

Emma Frost and Norman Osborn had an agreement.  She keeps the mutants quiet and he’ll leave them be in their new home.  Only they didn’t stay quiet, and now Norman is bringing in his Dark Avengers to regulate.  Chapter One of Utopia shipped last Wednesday and was a wild start to this confrontation and Chapter Two is available today in Uncanny X-Men #513.  I highly recommend it.