On the Shelves: 6/21/06

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My weekly look at select comic books being released Wednesday, 6/21/06. The full shipping is list available at ComicList.

[NOTE: Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it. If not, find another one; or try Khepri.com or MidtownComics.com]

PICK OF THE WEEK

Fallen Angel #6
APE ENTERTAINMENT
Black Coat Call To Arms #3 (Of 4), $2.99

So much better than a black-and-white period piece with a throwback storytelling sensibility has any right to be, I can’t imagine that Hollywood won’t come calling at some point, and deservedly so. Unlike too many recent comics written by aspiring or slumming screenwriters — with their high concept plots, awkward pacing and presumptuous photo-referenced casting — Black Coat stands firmly on its own two feet as a comic book. If you’re waiting for the trade on this one — and you’ll probably have to at this point if you didn’t pre-order, as this is apparently the issue that was being solicited when Speakeasy went under — you’re in for a genuine treat if/when it comes out.

BOOM! STUDIOS
X Isle #1 (Of 5), $2.99

Speaking of “high concept plots, awkward pacing and presumptuous photo-referenced casting”, X Isle hits the trifecta as TV Writer/Producer Andrew Cosby and co-writer Michael A. Nelson attempt to duplicate the magic of Cosby’s damn nation — his engaging Dark Horse mini-series now in production for a 2007 theatrical release (interestingly, with Boom!’s Ross Richie as Executive Producer…) — and fall disappointingly short. In this oft-lamented age of decompression, they make the mistake of trying to squeeze too much into this first issue, overly focused on setting up the mildly intriguing plot (“alien” whale washes ashore, mysterious storm traps ensemble cast on uncharted island full of similar creatures…) while paying only cursory attention to characterization. Artist Greg Scott’s “casting” of Sam Jackson, The Rock, Josh Lucas and Philip Seymour Hoffman — the most obvious ones my wife and I were able to pick out — serves as a distracting bit of shorthand to make up for it, but at the same time raises the “it’s a movie pitch not a comic book” flag that I find increasingly off-putting.

BUENAVENTURA PRESS
Comic Book Holocaust GN, $9.95

I’m not familiar with Johnny Ryan’s work, but the title’s catchy for all the wrong reasons. Some words are simply too loaded with meaning to play clever with, you know?

DARK HORSE COMICS
Conan #29, $2.99
Conan Book Of Thoth #4 (Of 4), $4.99
Star Wars Legacy #1, $2.99

I’m not sure which is worse, Conan‘s steadily declining sales or the fact that Red Sonja is still outselling it, if only barely (and then only because of its decreasingly effective variant cover gimmick). Be interesting to see what happens with this issue, the first non-Busiek-scripted of the run, and how it holds up over the next six months or so. It still generally outsells Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics — though there’s far more of them and they’re the model of consistency — and its spinoffs, like Khitai and the higher-priced Thoth, tend to retain a majority of the main series’ audience, so it shouldn’t be in any danger of cancellation. I’d imagine the collections do well, too, as even my father-in-law enjoys those hefty chunks of graphic barbarian goodness. *** Speaking of Star Wars, despite the simultaneously over and underwhelming #0 “guidebook” a couple of weeks ago — people who complain about Marvel and DC’s inaccessible continuity have probably never cracked open a Star Wars tie-in! — I’m still a bit intrigued by Legacy, not just for the Ostrander/Duursema team-up that sets my nostalgia glands a’tingling, but for the potential of the concept, set 100 years after Return of the Jedi with a “What if Han Solo were a Jedi?” spin.

DC COMICS
Ex Machina #21, $2.99
Flash The Fastest Man Alive #1, $2.99
Green Lantern Corps Recharge TPB, $12.99
Robin #151, $2.99
Shadowpact #2, $2.99

I’m pretty sure that when the current Ex Machina story arc ends — or is this the beginning of one? — I’ll be switching to a wait for the trade policy. I still enjoy it, but I no longer look forward to it. *** The Flash is yet another DC icon I’ve never connected with, and unless Kurt Addams’ highly unlikely speculation that the new Flash is actually Black Lightning is correct, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. *** Green Lantern Corps #1 was actually a pretty solid read, and I did enjoy a couple of random issues of the Recharge mini, so the TPB is reluctantly on my radar. How am I supposed to pare down my pull list when I’m constantly discovering new comics to add? *** The revelation about the fate of Cassandra Cain (#5 on my Top 5 DC Characters list) in the last issue of Robin tweaked my fanboy buttons a bit, but I decided to see how it plays out before getting up in arms about it, primarily because, while I don’t love the idea, it does make more than the usual sense in context. *** Thanks to my ongoing pull list purge, Shadowpact will have to quickly prove itself a keeper with this second issue, after a solid, if surprisingly continuity challenged, debut.

DEVILS DUE PUBLISHING
How To Self Publish Comics #4 (Of 4), $4.95

I love “How to” books, and unlike some others who’ve tackled this subject, Josh Blaylock’s got a solid platform with Devil’s Due to speak from, so I’m curious to check out the inevitable TPB collection. Anyone buying it as it came out?

IDW PUBLISHING
Doomed Magazine #1 (AA), $6.99
Fallen Angel Idw #6, $3.99

While not really my cup of tea, I was rather impressed with the first two issues of Doomed. This appears to be a re-offering of the first issue, which includes a short featuring artwork from Supermarket‘s Kristian Donaldson. For horror fans, I’d say it’s recommended. *** On the heels of its remarkable last issue — which I failed to remark upon at all, but Jake, of 2GuysBuyingComics, didn’t — Fallen Angel follows up with what I believe is the first of two standalone issues, both perfect jumping-on points in anticipation of the TPB collecting the first 5 issues of the IDW run which is due out in August, as well as DC’s re-release of the TPB collecting the first six issues from the first volume. It’s officially on my short list for best of 2006.

IMAGE COMICS
Casanova #1, $1.99
Fear Agent Vol 1 Reignition TPB, $9.99

The $1.99 experiment worked out nicely with Fell, but Fell would be a great read for $2.99, so it’ll be interesting to see what Casanova brings to the table. I have no expectations one way or the other. *** Nice to see Fear Agent get a quick turnaround on the TPB, but judging by the series’ sales numbers and this bargain $9.99 cover price, I’m curious what Image’s TPB contracts look like and whether or not Remender is underwriting this one. If you skipped it the first time around, Fear Agent is easily one of the most entertaining comics on the shelves right now.

MARVEL COMICS
Captain America #19, $2.99
Eternals #1 (Of 6), $3.99
Eternals 1 For 50 Romita Jr Sketch Variant #1 (Of 6), AR
Eternals Coipel Variant Ltd Ed #1 (Of 6), $3.99
Eternals Romita Jr Variant #1 (Of 6), $3.99

Giant Size Hulk #1, $4.99
Haunt Of Horror Edgar Allan Poe #2 (Of 3), $3.99
Marvel Westerns Outlaw Files, $3.99

Captain America continues to be one of the most consistently entertaining reads, spandex set or otherwise, and I am on the verge of becoming an official member of the Ed Brubaker fan club. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the upcoming Civil War tie-in, and how smoothly it fits into the larger story he’s been telling since he took over the Super Soldier and made him interesting for the first time. *** Three variant covers for the Eternals, including a “1 for 50” sketch cover that guarantees a Top 20, if not Top 10, slot for the first issue. From there, though, it’ll be interesting to see how far and how quickly it falls. Because seriously, who was asking for this? I’d be surprised if it doesn’t lose at least 50% of the first issue’s sales by the time the mini-series finishes. *** I’ve honestly been surprised by how much I’m enjoying the “Planet Hulk” storyline, and I’ve been wanting to sample Peter David’s acclaimed run on the green goliath for a while now, so Giant Size Hulk #1 is perfectly timed. *** The first issue of Richard Corben’s Poe adaptation didn’t work for me at all; a major disappointment, but a relatively easy cut from the pull list. *** I still haven’t read last week’s Western one-shot, but I’m a sucker for these directory-style comics so I’ll probably pick this one up. So much for pull list management!

NARWAIN PUBLISHING

Is anyone reading any Narwain titles? I haven’t noticed any buzz at all for them, and I’m long past flipping through their titles after being unimpressed with the first wave.

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