KC’s Previews for October 2014

KC’s latest Westfield column is the first half of recommendations for the latest Previews catalog, the one for items coming out starting in October. Before jumping into comic book reprint books, he first shares some Comics Code memories. I learned that there was a super heroine before Wonder Woman — except she’s not American!

Similar Posts: KC’s Previews for October 2012 § KC’s Previews for February 2012 § KC’s Previews for June 2014 § KC’s Previews for September 2014 § KC’s Previews for December 2012

Wonder Woman TV Show on Deep Discount, Also Marvel Movies

Amazon’s deal of the week is Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection, all three seasons of the 1970s TV show starring Lynda Carter. At 68% off, the set is now available for $37, or about $12 a season. (And it’s apparently been popular, since there’s a short delay in shipping.)

If you’d rather visit the Marvel side of the world, there’s a Blu-ray bundle featuring six X-Men and Wolverine movies, the two Fantastic Four films, Daredevil, and Elektra. Listing at $200, it’s also 68% off for a final price of $65 for 10 discs.

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Good Comics at the Comic Shop July 23: Licensed Titles — Buffy, Doctor Who, and the Avengers

Here’s what I recommend appearing tomorrow at your local comic shop.

I’ve been impressed by how well Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 is turning out with the creators, Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs, on this current run. It’s a wonderful recreation of the strengths of the original TV show, and highly entertaining. Issue #5 (Dark Horse Comics, $3.50) concludes an arc co-written by Nicholas Brendon that establishes how the “New Rules” of magic work this time around.

Unfortunately, Steed And Mrs. Peel: We’re Needed #1 (Boom! Studios, $3.99, six-issue miniseries) isn’t as good an adaptation. Writer Ian Edginton gets the voices right, but the plot, about a village of retired spies, is too reminiscent of The Prisoner, and the art by Marco Cosentino is stiff and choppy, relying on the text to carry the story. Some of the likenesses are good, but sometimes the faces look misshapen or unrecognizable, and the fight scenes are difficult to follow. Shame, because it’s always fun to see the sparkling conversation between the two dapper Avengers. Here are a few preview pages:

Steed and Mrs. Peel: We're Needed  #1 coverSteed and Mrs. Peel: We're Needed #1 page 6Steed and Mrs. Peel: We're Needed #1 page 7Steed and Mrs. Peel: We're Needed #1 page 8

Two more much-anticipated licensed comics debut this week, with Doctor Who comics for the two most popular recent incarnations of the time lord now available. Each can be chosen with a standard cover (Titan Publishing, $3.99), or your choice of five more expensive variants.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1 sends a David Tennant-looking Doctor to a New York City laundromat where a young woman is struggling with the conflict between her aspirations and the pressure to be loyal to her large family and work in their business. This first issue starts a five-issue arc written by Nick Abadzis and drawn by Elena Casagrande. It’s an atmospheric story, with rich characterization (for a slightly-too-large-to-follow-easily cast) but this first chapter doesn’t have much for the Doctor to do, so I wonder at the choice. I’d rather see more with the title character out of the gate, although what is here does seem in character. Oh, and it’s the Day of the Dead and there are monsters with glowing red eyes.

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1 features Matt Smith and, as with the other, new characters, not known companions. It’s written by Al Ewing and Rob Williams and drawn by Simon Fraser. In this one, a woman has spent her life taking care of her mother, but now that her mother’s dead, she’s also losing her home and her job. Then her black-and-white world turns to full color when she sees the Doctor chasing an odd beastie through town. It’s distinctly opposite to the other series, which is very much a domestic, down-to-earth, horror-in-the-everyday piece. This one emphasizes the fantastic, particularly in the visuals. It’s also a pleasure to see, in the comics, a departure from the usually mostly white cast of the TV show.

Although I liked watching the Tenth Doctor more, I liked reading the Eleventh Doctor better. There were realistic emotions, but also a good amount of humor, and I got more story in this first issue, which I thought made a better introduction. Plus, there’s a strip in the back by Marc Ellerby about Amy and Rory being parents to River going out on a date. Funny!

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Franklin & Bash Returns August 13

I had no idea they were making more Franklin & Bash, but I’ll be watching. I like this summer series full of stupid fun, as two frat-boy-style lawyers (Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar) take on cases in idiosyncratic style. Season 4 debuts August 13 on TNT, as described in this short ad. Glad to see more Malcolm McDowell!

I talked more about the show when I reviewed the Season 1 DVD set, the only one available so far. The show debuted in 2011, and each season runs for ten episodes.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #5

The “New Rules” storyline concludes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #5, out tomorrow, quite satisfactorily.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #5 cover by Steve Morris

Cover by Steve Morris

Writer Christos Gage has managed to lay out clearly for readers the idea that things will be different, now that magic is back but in as-yet-undefined changed fashion. Yet he focuses first on the story, not the message — the main Scooby gang, all together here once again, and enjoyably so, are still fighting to save the world. I’m impressed by the way Gage has a new threat each issue, yet it’s all built upon the previous installments of the storyline. Here, as suits the climatic issue, it’s a big ol’ monster.

Speaking of the team, Buffy is more confident of herself as a leader, which means she delegates more and allows others more focus because she has less to prove. The teen Giles is a terrific change that plays into and is a constant reminder of the fantastic universe setting. Willow has her magic back, with a good amount of power tempered by uncertainty over what will actually happen. Xander and Dawn are contributing while struggling with their relationship; the return of magic has affected Dawn in an unexpected but surprisingly logical way. Best of all, Spike is still around.

Gage does an amazing job capturing everyone’s voices and conveying an awful lot of story while still providing the wisecracks and humor and characterization we expect from this beloved property. It’s a wonderful way of capturing the appeal of the show, now that it’s impossible to do the same anywhere but in comics. (I wish the other franchise book had as talented a writer on it.) I also like how he calls back to previous plot elements and series without being exclusionary to those who have only begun reading recently.

Since Nicholas Brendon (who played Xander on the show) began co-writing with this arc, one shouldn’t be surprised that Xander gets some significant character development here. It’s fully in keeping with the character’s history, though, and others don’t get short shrift because of it. As the “everyman” character, it’s easy to overlook his contributions, and it’s good to see him get attention without maiming or torturing the character (part of the final TV run I disliked). The universe is so rich that I’m also glad to see more supporting cast members get a bit of focus, including here Andrew and (surprise!) Anya. There’s a lot more story there that I hope to see in future.

I’ve given no attention yet to the art, which is equally talented and accomplished. The biggest problem with licensed work is likenesses that resemble the actor so closely the art becomes stiff and photo-referenced. That isn’t the case here. Everyone looks the way they should, but the characters are full of emotion, expression, and motion. Rebekah Isaacs also does a great job with scale, when it comes to giant monsters and fighting battles.

Gage and Isaacs on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 have captured the best parts of the original TV show: the way relatable personal struggles can be shown with plenty of action, humor, and scary beasties. Life lessons are gained while the support and strength of friendship carry us all through. Highly enjoyable for fans. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)

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The Movie I’m Most Looking Forward to This Summer: Magic in the Moonlight

I am not a Woody Allen fan. It’s not any kind of ethical statement (although shacking up with your much-younger stepdaughter is a tad odd, or at least feudal); it’s that I don’t enjoy movies about middle-aged and older guys freaking out about becoming older and/or single and hitting on younger women as a result.

Yet the movie I’m most excited about seeing this summer is by him. Magic in the Moonlight, out next Friday, July 25, hits several buttons of mine. The first and most important is a great cast. Emma Stone, a favorite, plays a young woman who may or may not be a medium. Stage magician Colin Firth is trying to unmask what he thinks must be a swindle. Also appearing is Hamish Linklater, who will always be “that guy from The New Adventures of Old Christine” to me, but I like him for it.

Next is the setting and visuals. It takes place in the 1920s/30s, and the costumes and scenery are lovely.

Also important are the ideas — there are hints in the trailer below that the characters will be discussing magic and belief and uncertainty and all kinds of interesting concepts. Anyway, I hope I enjoy seeing it. At least, with this kind of film, I won’t have to worry about computer effects taking the place of acting and whether the explosions will be so loud they’ll hurt my ears. (Yes, I know, that’s fogeyism.)

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Bats Bats Bats Bats: The History of Batman’s Costumes

The same group that put out an infographic on the history of Spider-Man’s costumes is back with a look at Batman’s outfits over the years. Smartly, they’ve titled it “The Mark of Batman: The Evolution of an Icon” since what changes is the bat on his chest. Some of those early 1940s bats, before branding became a concern, are pretty goofy-looking. The list comes in two sections, one each for comics and movies.

Batman Symbol Evolution Infographic
Infographic Created by HalloweenCostumes.com

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Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Book 1

Food Wars! is due out in print at the beginning of next month, but it’s been available digitally (along with book 2) for months now. If you enjoy cooking competition manga like Iron Wok Jan or Yakitate!! Japan, this is another strong entry in that category.

Soma Yukihira is a scrappy teen cook. He’s been raised in the family restaurant, and he’s quite talented, but unpolished. He winds up attending a prominent culinary high school for the best of the best. There he meets Erina, a high achiever with a “divine tongue… the most refined palate known to man.” Of course she also has a large chest.

The flavors of the food are evoked through exaggerated images. The first has made this series somewhat infamous, as Soma’s attempt at a squid dish tastes so wrong that the girl trying it feels as though she’s being molested by tentacles, a spectacle given a two-page fan-service spread of her flashing underwear. As seen here, like those other books I mentioned, this series is written for guys.

The dish shown on the cover is a fake pork roast, constructed out of potatoes and bacon to defeat an unscrupulous land developer who’s trying to destroy the family restaurant. The sequence where he describes its construction is impressive, followed by several images of the female executive experiencing “the rich juices… explod[ing] inside [her] mouth” and begging to be allowed to eat more. Thankfully, that sort of thing calms down once Soma goes to school, although we do see Erina almost topless, surrounded by angels, when she finally agrees to taste his food.

Once we get past those images, the love of food does shine through in the series. Erina represents fancy gourmet cooking and all the snooty elites that participate in that world. Soma is the champion of “common, dirt-cheap dishes” that when done well are filled with flavor and possibly even more satisfying. He’s labeled a “common plebeian” (redundancy!) by the book itself, and his skills will require the stuck-up high-class chefs to acknowledge his value.

His challenge is to make Erina acknowledge how good regular cooking can be. His lifetime of practical experience working in a restaurant, where the food has to get done and it has to please the customer, is his major asset, although his “screw everyone but me” attitude will needs its rough edges smoothed out.

The recipe for Soma’s rice dish is also included in the volume, as is the one-chapter stand-alone “pilot” story for this series. There’s also a short bonus about Soma’s girl neighbor (the tentacle victim).

Although the art is aimed firmly at the young male, if you can overlook the fan service, Food Wars! does a great job of capturing the emotion of competition and the struggle to improve and win. (And even the images can be laughably enjoyable in a “really? they went there?” kind of way.) There’s a strong respect for food and flavor that comes through the pages, and that’s the part of the series I enjoy.

Future volumes are planned to come out in print on an every-other-month release schedule. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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