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By | Sunday, November 21, 2010 | 10:35 pm | 23 Comments | Blog > Database Updates

I’ve added over 40 covers and tagged Swamp Thing in every book he appears in.

The Swamp Thing Reading Order is complete, with header and everything! I’m pretty happy cause he’s my absolute favorite character in comics.

Every book on this list is fully tagged with all publication information, even including a few showcase volumes and some massive crossover books – which were a pain in the butt, let me tell you. This took two days, which was much longer than the last database updates, but hey – at least I won’t have to tag them all over for any other character’s list.

I also created database entries for the five hardcover Saga of the Swamp Thing collections:

Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book 1

Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book 2

Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book 3

Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book 4 (upcoming release)

Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book 5 (upcoming release)

I’m not going to link every book that I completed the entry but here are the major crossover volumes that are now appearing on a lot of other character lists as well:

Showcase Presents: The Brave And The Bold: Batman Team-ups Vol. 3

Showcase Presents: DC Comics Presents: Superman Team-Ups

The Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told

Absolute Crisis On Infinite Earths

Swamp Thing: A Murder of Crows

DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore

Millennium

Sandman: The Kindly Ones

Underworld Unleashed

Kingdom Come

Justice League of America: The Nail

Infinite Crisis

With all these big books complete, it’s actually the biggest DC Universe update in a long time. Even got four hellblazer books completed on there – that’s gonna be another vertigo u doozy.

Now to get tonight’s review in before 12, if humanly possible!

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By | Saturday, November 20, 2010 | 11:23 pm | 7 Comments | Blog > Reviews
Find This Book At:
Ebay (Search by Title)
Ebay (ISBN/Softcover)
Ebay (ISBN/Hardcover)
Half.com (Softcover)
Half.com (Hardcover)
Amazon (Softcover)
Amazon (Hardcover)
View our database entry
Includes Issues: Tor 1-6
Issue Dates: July – December 2008
Creators:
, ,

This review may contain very light spoilers. Skip To The Verdict? »

Here is the most recent collection of Tor, the wandering caveman, and with Joe Kubert at 82 years of age at the time of its creation, perhaps the final journey crafted by his hands.

We’ve followed Tor from his Golden Age roots in “One Million Years Ago”, his own series soon after, to his 1990s miniseries, which had both beautiful art and serious issues when it came to depiction of women.

These prior series were collected in the hardcover archives Tor Vol. 1, Tor Vol. 2, and Tor Vol.3.

Now we come to the 2008 miniseries, collected by DC into a hardcover and softcover edition. These books are regular sized, having originally been published as standard comic issues. But the price point is much more reasonable, 160 pages of lovely comics easily found at under 10 dollars used – and only half the price of the archive books for the brand new hardcover.

With his Tor stories, Kubert has taken an approach of reinvention and retelling each time. This isn’t often done with a comics character by the same creator, when it happens it is usually a new person’s take on an old property.

There is an aching beauty that accompanies watching one man constantly refine an idea that is obviously so close to his heart and psyche.

These projects have had ups and downs, with many proposals conceived never to reach their potential audience, but Tor has also been born again through the ages, a character that history has not yet forgotten.

It’s possible that these stories are all of the same Tor, but the story is never the same, much like a campfire legend or oral history passed down through tribal generations.

The A Prehistoric Odyssey collection, like the previous archives, has a small gallery in the back, this time focusing mainly on the work in this book without the idea sketches for all of Kubert’s other hopeful revitalizations of the character (children’s books, animated television shows, even glimpses of live action features, none of which were fated to come about.)

We’re indeed lucky that Kubert has dreamed so often of his caveman, because he seems to have reached what he was striving for all this time. The book is almost unique, telling story in ways that Kubert can best – the art leading, of course.

Traditional dialogue and wordballoons have been eschewed entirely, with Kubert instead lending his narration in descriptive phrases accompanying the art.

He attempts no poetry – the language is plain and straightforward, a mix of Tor’s inner dialogue and musings along with clarifications of the action.

This narration makes the book easy to take in, with some text adding extra layers of meaning, but it also feels optional – not to be thrown away, but the style of scripting invites us to enter a word before clear language, before characters made their meanings known with the phonetical sounds we understand today.

The book can be read without words, understood through the art alone. Kubert’s art is clear and powerful, open to humans of any language or background.

It’s an amazing thing.

The story contained is likewise refined. Kubert has taken the dinosaurs and given them a place in his world that feels firmly in context, even understandable in terms of motivation. The fantastical is still present, with strange creatures and monstrous humanoids, but feels less pulpy and contrived.

Every tribe and group here has intricate ritual practically evolving on the page before us. It’s a world that is learning and shifting along with our protagonist, a world in flux – battle for survival, battle to become something more.

Tor has become a deep being, no longer a clear representation of modern man placed into a brutal world, but perhaps the first step towards true humanity slowly breaking the bonds of the past.

His companions (and he does grow enough to finally have a family of sorts in this volume) have their own intelligence and motivations, for the first time leaving me moved at their struggles.

The female lead has taken great steps past stereotypical portrayal – she is still beautiful and topless, but no longer in any crude fashion. She is a strong character, possessing of the will to survive, and when she does cower it is in situations where cowering seems to be quite the logical option.

Kubert’s art isn’t as plain as his Golden Age work nor as sketchy and explosive as the art he created in the early Modern Age stories. It isn’t a loss, perhaps, but further refinement. Things seem more subtle overall, but Tor is still able to spring into dynamic action, all of Kubert’s amazing grasp of anatomy rippling off the page.

He colors the work along with Pete Carlsson, and together they craft jungles of relaxing greens that hide threats in their shadows, caves of deep purples and blues, and scenes of action punctuated with the necessary bolts of red.

As one ongoing story for the entire book, things flow together seamlessly, with Tor’s musing on events (from issues previous) taking the form of early man’s first steps to self understanding. While clearly designed to catch up readers following the story in tabloid format, the brief sequences also serve to show that our lead is no longer acting purely on instinct but constantly exploring inside his mind.

In this volume, Kubert has finally managed to tell Tor’s story. It’s an odyssey literal and figurative, containing new heights of adventure and fantastic places accompanied by the depths of personal discovery.

I feel that this is the story he has been trying to tell us all along, the character he always knew but sometimes struggled to portray. The strengths and weaknesses from past volumes all have had some role to play in building this story – but this is a very solid book.

Kubert’s Tor masterpiece.

Verdict:
5 out of 5. If you buy one Tor book, this should be it. Especially if you’re more interested in a solid story with amazing art instead of the history of comics.

Essential Continuity:
This is the final Tor book, and he doesn’t appear expressly anywhere else in the DCU. If you want to know his story, this volume will fill your need.

Read first:
For those interested in seeing Kubert’s progression with this character’s growth, Tor Vol. 1, Tor Vol. 2, and Tor Vol.3.

Read next:
If you are following along with my chronology of the DCU, Viking Glory: The Viking Prince will be the next book. This book isn’t actually Kubert’s creation of The Viking Prince, though, which is probably a more direct step if you are following the creator.

Those tales are collected in Viking Prince by Joe Kubert, a recently released hardcover.

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By | Saturday, November 20, 2010 | 7:45 pm | 0 Comments | Blog > Database Updates

Hey guys, you may not have been following closely, but with a lot of help the Comic Issue Reading Order: Bruce Wayne: The Road Home (DC Event) post has undergone some heavy tweaking.

Of particular interest with this update is the placing of a couple Red Robin issues. Thanks LEO!

Huge thanks to everyone who has contributed to the effort – I really believe we have the absolute best list out there for this event. Continue offering your advice, folks!

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By | Saturday, November 20, 2010 | 7:16 pm | 1 Comment | Blog > Database Updates

First of all, congrats to Jedediah from Lincoln, NE (TRO user Topicality) who won the Superman Chronicles Vol. 1 giveaway! Jedediah, your book will be in the mail on monday.

On to the update: Today we’ve finished adding covers and publication information to all the Lucifer books, plus adding a header, making the Lucifer Reading Order look nice and pretty.

Here are the books that were updated:

Lucifer: The Devil In The Gateway

Lucifer: Children and Monsters

Lucifer: A Dalliance With The Damned

Lucifer: Nirvana

Lucifer: The Divine Comedy

Lucifer: Inferno

Lucifer: Mansions of the Silence

Lucifer: Exodus

Lucifer: The Wolf Beneath the Tree

Lucifer: Crux

Lucifer: Morningstar

Lucifer: Evensong

One of my favorite series. If you haven’t checked it out before now, keep in mind that it’s highly recommended.

I’ve still got to tag our favorite fallen son in the Sandman books, but those will come as soon as I can get to them. Perhaps my next database update!

I also updated the next Tor book, collecting the 2008 miniseries, in anticipation of my review tonight. If I can, I might be able to get two reviews in during one day! Ah, I love days off from my day job :)

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By | Saturday, November 20, 2010 | 6:05 am | 13 Comments | Blog > Reviews

Find This Book At:
Amazon (Original Editions)
Amazon (Softcover 2011)
Amazon (Hardcover 2011)
Ebay (Search by Title)
View our database entry
Includes Issues: Original Graphic Novel
Issue Dates: December 2006
Creators:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This review contains very light spoilers. Skip To The Verdict? »

By now, you’ve probably seen the trailer for the upcoming Cowboys & Aliens film starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde. The trailer seemed to take both genres – gritty western and science fiction suspense – pretty seriously, something I didn’t expect.

It looks like it has the potential for an excellent (if more than slightly deadpan) action thriller. This review isn’t for that film – it isn’t out yet.

When I found out that the film is based on a comic, I had to seek it out.

Amazingly enough, the 112 page original graphic novel is selling for between 40-60 dollars each on Amazon and Ebay.

Probably because of the film related interest – but that’s still a pretty big inflation from the original 4.99 cover price.

Even though there were 7 variants in the original print run, it must have gotten hard to find since its original release in 2006.

Luckily for me, I was able to borrow a copy to write this review. Luckily for you, there are hardcover and softcover releases coming up to coincide with the film at much more reasonable prices.

Of course, that still leaves the question of whether this comic is any good.

The story here is pretty much what you’d expect. There are cowboys. There are aliens. There are also cowgirls and Native Americans, but that kind of goes without saying.

The book itself is separated into two parts – the “Prologue” is a few pages of flavor written by Andrew Foley with art and colors by Dennis Calero. The main graphic novel is written by Foley along with Fred Van Lente.

The pencils are by Luciano Lima and Magic Eye Studios, with Jeremy Wilson, Silvio Spotti, and Luciano Kars inking. Andrew Elder handles the colors, with Scott O. Brown and Zachary Pennington on letters and design.

Overseeing this whole gang is Scott Michell Rosenberg of Platinum Studios, who is credit here as creating the Cowboys and Aliens concept.

It’s a big team for an independent title, which seems surprising until you notice the location of the studio: Los Angeles, California.

Following this clue, peeking at Rosenberg’s bio in the back (almost a full page, much bigger than any of the other bios, including both writers combined) lends more context: Platinum studios “controls the world’s largest independent library of comic book characters and adapts them for film, television and all other media.”

Not sure who independent means in this context, so I can’t evaluate the “largest” claim, but the purpose of the book is clear: We’re selling movie pitches, people. And it looks like it’s working.

I honestly don’t know much about Rosenberg’s previous company, Malibu Comics, except that they put out a lot of titles during the speculation boom (including the Ultraverse) and not much is seen of them today.

Back to the actual content of the book.

The prologue story, all five pages of which are available online here, chronicles America’s history of bloody westward expansion (at the expense of the Native Americans) alongside images of parallel conflicts taking place between a conqueror race of aliens seeking to colonize planets.

It’s a comparison that’s been made before in science fiction, but it’s the next step where the fun comes in – so maybe these two manifest destinies actually meet and they fight, yes?

Turn the page and we’re in the Old West, 1873. The scene is huge cliche, with grumpy mercenary gunslingers defending a wagon circle from angry Native attackers.

Perhaps the only surprise is that one of those gunslingers is a girl, but remember that this is a movie pitch – we need a romantic interest.

I’m not knowledgeable enough to tell you precisely how offensive these “Apache” are, but it seems that some effort was made to keep it classic without being overly stereotypical.

Even with effort – they’re smart, even tempered, quick to pick up new technology and come to well reasoned solutions – I’m sure actual Apache culture is much more nuanced than what’s presented here. So maybe medium-low offensive?

I suppose we’ll allow it because this is intended to be a send up of the Western genre and not any kind of accurate depiction.

And it’s very quick to break from the standard as a sonic boom pierces the sky and perspective shifts to the tribe’s warriors, then quickly again to the alien invaders who have just crash landed and slaughtered the “savages” – a term they use for any human, of course.

The aliens are a mix of conquered races and are relatively bureaucratic as far as invading armies go. The bad guys are written as recognizable jerkwads, not the “strange creatures we couldn’t hope to understand” kind of ET (which kind of looks more like what the trailer for the movie suggests, and I hope they go for – I always found the Alien style offworlders to be much more terrifying than ugly foot soldiers with fancy guns.)

In the comic it works. I particularly liked a scene where the invading commander seemed to be holding a clipboard (or maybe an ipad style device.)

The whole shebang is a pretty silly action oriented affair. The dialogue isn’t anything special, but it’s not jarring either.

The art, similarly, is serviceable. It gets the job done and the story told, sometimes looking a little more awkward than you’d expect from such a large team. Or perhaps it’s because this is such a large team and they’re doing a job more than crafting their own individual masterpieces.

Some of the backgrounds are well crafted, with textured detail work, and  overall composition that fits the action well, but not a page goes by without some annoying anatomy or facial structure.

This may be an unfair comparison (to the internet) but I was reminded of some of the better crafted but less unique webcomics out there. None of the over the top quirky insanity that makes Dr. McNinja so great, but perhaps similar artistic ability put through a bigger budget.

Overall, the book is good. Fun.

I should use words with generally positive connotations without too much enthusiasm.

The good guys do their thing, the humans come together. People fall in love across cultural boundaries, there are the expected betrayals.

There isn’t much in store in terms of surprises.

Once you get past the amusing premise, everything plays out just how you’d expect from a summer blockbuster, with all the good and bad that entails – stupid moments designed to cater to certain audiences as well as attempts at doing something different just to do something different.

Not enough risks are taken for this graphic novel to ever really fail. It knows its a comic and it plays for laughs.

As for the movie, it seems like it’s taking the general concept in a direction more suited to a high production feature – same amount of action but less  farce, more sheen. I’m all for a couple hours full of hard jawed, slow talking cowboys confronting the unknown in corridors filled with flickering lights.

I hope the aforementioned deadpan trailer is true to the rest of the film.

Verdict:
3 out of 5. Good concept with satisfactory execution.

Not amazing and certainly not worth 50 bucks on ebay. Maybe worth pre-ordering the reasonably priced hardcover if you’re a fan of this kind of content. Probably perfectly priced at the original 4.99.

Update:

Interesting link over at Bleeding Cool.

Apparently my hunch based on the content and packaging (“Creator” Bio especially) was correct: this was entirely an attempt to get a movie made right from the start.

The only real surprise here is that the comic is kind of enjoyable.

Essential Continuity:
This title stands alone.

Read first:
No prior reading required.

Read next:
I’m honestly not sure where’s best to go after reading this. When I think Westerns and Comics, I think Jonah Hex.

But when I think weird western influenced work, I think Preacher. Anyone have any other recommendations?

Of course once the movie is out, the next step would be to see the film!

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