X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailers Build Excitement

The first trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past, released last fall, focused on closeups of the many stars populating the mutant film — Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence — mixed with shots of the new characters, emphasizing the many superpowered mutants, all with a mysterious Patrick Stewart voiceover. That was followed by scenes of the typical blockbuster destruction, complete with voiceless choir music, to show us what the stakes are.

The second trailer, out last month, emphasized the high stakes, with scenes of destruction and mention of the need to work together to avoid extinction. More of the footage is shown from the 70s scenes. (Love the costumes!)

The third, presumably final, trailer came out this week. In it, Wolverine explains the plot to Professor X, and thus, us. The Sentinels make their appearance as well. It’s the most exciting of the three, at least in terms of what interests me about the movie, particularly the humor. I’m now eager to see it!

X-Men: Days of Future Past, in which “the beloved characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in an epic battle that must change the past — to save our future” is in theaters May 23.

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Son of Batman Premieres Tonight at WonderCon; Video and Images for Those of Us Not There

The next original DCU animated movie, Son of Batman, will be available for home video purchase on May 6, but attendees of this weekend’s California show WonderCon will be able to see the film tonight, followed by a panel discussion with stars Jason O’Mara (Batman), Sean Maher (Nightwing), Xander Berkeley (Langstrom), Stuart Allan (Damian), and filmmakers James Tucker (producer), Ethan Spaulding (director), Phil Bourassa (character designer), and Andrea Romano (dialogue director). (Can you believe this is the 20th!?! original animated DCU film?)

For those of us who can’t attend, here are some video clips. This one shows a whole bunch of Man-Bats attacking Batman and Robin:

This one looks more at Bruce Wayne and his son Damian’s home life, with the child acting as a baby ninja. Cute! And Alfred gets to be dry and witty, which is always fun.

Last, Batman faces off with Killer Croc, who brags about his upgrades.

And here’s an image gallery of promo pictures released so far.

Son of Batman promo image - Damian

Son of Batman promo image - Bruce Wayne and Alfred

Son of Batman promo image - Batman and Damian

Son of Batman promo image - Bat-gun

Son of Batman promo image - Damian and Robin costume

Son of Batman promo image - Killer Croc

Son of Batman promo image - Deathstroke

Son of Batman promo image -  Nightwing

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Lumberjanes #1

Lumberjanes #1 cover

Lumberjanes #1 cover by Noelle Stevenson

It’s always nice when something much-anticipated turns out to be better than you hoped. Lumberjanes is a strong start to a girls’ adventure series written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis and drawn by Brooke Allen.

There are evocations of all kinds of “girls in the woods” victim stories, starting with Little Red Riding Hood, but these scouts are no victims or shrinking violets. When they hear scary noises, they spring into action poses, ready to defend themselves and their friends. Mal, Molly, April, Ripley, and Jo are all campers, investigating weird goings-on and frustrating their counselor, Jen.

Lumberjanes art by Brooke Allen

The character designs look as though they all came in from different sources, down to different styles of inking, but they oddly work together. (A wonderful metaphor, actually, and an interesting choice in this age of the internet mash-up.) The monsters aren’t the usual woodland creatures; this is a heightened adventure, with three-eyed fanged foxes fought off in the opening sequence. Allen does movement well, with a sense that these characters are active between panels, always in motion.

There are a WHOLE lot of readers waiting for this kind of comic. Instead of a team with The Girl, this team is made up of different kinds of girls, so there’s more than one type of woman to read about or admire. They’re all friends, not rivals, so even when they disagree, we know they support each other. They do exciting things on their own, without waiting for anyone to give them a mission or a purpose. There’s a mystery to solve — just what is going on at the camp? — and further adventures to have.

It’s terrible that these basic statements count as praise, but only because there’s such a gap in the comic market when it comes to these kinds of stories. We don’t know much about the individual personalities here, yet, but that’s another reason to read future issues, to find out more specifics about how they’re different. This issue focuses on the teamwork.

About my only complaint with this comic is that it’s begging for people to wait for the collection. It’s $4 an issue for 22 pages of story, which is standard but still expensive, and since it’s from Boom!, there are multiple alternative covers, many of which are exclusive to a particular event or store, in an attempt to drain more money from customers for the same content. The eventual book will be a better deal and (I’m assuming) have all the images in one place. The only downside to that plan is that this comic is so much fun, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to wait for it.

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*Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! — Recommended

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! is an adorable short story for the youngest of readers (although enjoyable by the whimsical of all ages). It’s beautifully illustrated, in that nebulous border between kids’ book and comic, and it reminds me of some of Toon’s releases (a high compliment).

Anna is reading, beyond the time she’s supposed to go to bed. Her six stuffed animals want to sleep, but she won’t turn out the light, no matter how they try to convince her. Finally, when she’s ready to go to sleep, they decide to turn the tables on her.

There’s a wonderful page capturing the emotions reading can evoke, from frightening to hilarious, that demonstrates through exaggerated expression how magical books can be. Anna’s fluffy friends, which include a bear, a whale, a penguin, and a fuzzball, all have different personalities and body language. Their activities are playful and fun to read, in differently sized borderless panels.

There’s even a message, that one should consider how one’s actions affect those around us, and how not to be hypocritical or selfish. I’m told that there’s another book with Anna to come, and I look forward to seeing it.

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! can be ordered from your local comic shop with Diamond code APR14 1232. It’s due out on June 17. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)

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How I Made the World

Previews orders for this month are due tomorrow, so I wanted to call your attention to a title you might otherwise overlook. I don’t read many indy periodicals any more, but this one was really good, a satisfying single issue with a ton of options for where the series might go next.

How I Made the World cover

How I Made the World is written by Liz Plourde and drawn by Randy Michaels. It was one of the final Xeric Grant recipients. It’s the semi-autobiographical story about a college art student who finds out more about herself through working on a sculpture project.

Although many have done similar stories, about young artists experiencing self-discovery, this telling is fresh and insightful, and the linework is wonderful, dynamic and streamlined. The characters seem real and well-developed, and did I mention it’s really well-drawn? There’s humor and friendship and artistic instruction and learning how to break the rules and just a hint of supernatural aid. The places are solid and realistic, and the art studios, next to a smokestack, weirdly look remarkably like my high school overflow building.

There’s also a backup story, “Catman”, about a girl, her teasing uncle, and the tale he tells about her pet cat. While the first story feels like Strangers in Paradise or Love and Rockets, this one has the feel of an Archie comedy or an older Sugar and Spike.

The first issue of How I Made the World is a 32-page black-and-white comic priced at $2.95. You can find preview pages at the title link above, and you can order it from your local comic shop with Diamond code APR14 1257. It’s due out in June, with a second issue planned for 2015.

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KC Recommends Some Purchases This Week

People who know KC and I often say, “How lucky, you’re each comic fans, so you can share your hobby!” That’s true, but there’s so much diversity in comics these days that there isn’t necessarily a lot of overlap. For instance, I made a list of recommendations that I’d be looking for at the local comic shop this week, and this time around, so did KC (as his latest Westfield column). KC’s list points out some gorgeous super-sized reprint collections, such as the one shown here, as well as a data-gatherer favorite (which unfortunately has fallen prey to Diamond’s spotty delivery record on import items). However, our two lists have nothing in common. Oh, well, more to share, right?!

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Good Comics at the Comic Shop April 16

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

Katie Skelly’s Operation Margarine (AdHouse Books, $12.95) is a retro-flavored story of girls on the run. Margarine, troubled rich girl, and Bon-Bon, tough chick, take off through the desert together seeking freedom and escape. It’s like a feminist Russ Meyer movie. The flat, simple lines used by Skelly give the whole thing the feel of a fable. She talked with Tim O’Shea about making the book.

Fantagraphics’ first Uncle Scrooge collection, Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge: Only A Poor Old Man ($29.99) has now been reprinted and is available again. We recommend it.

I wanted to like Family Ties (NBM, $13.99) by Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon, the team behind The Broadcast, but I couldn’t follow the art at key points. It’s a great concept — a version of King Lear set among a crime family in Alaska, with the aging boss father facing dementia and two ambitious daughters — but the artist’s style is so scratchy that, combined with a dark grey wash, I sometimes couldn’t tell the characters apart. (It doesn’t help that there are a bunch of interchangeable tough guys without clearly explained relationships.) When he lays off the murk, there can be panels capturing significant emotion, particularly as the boss’ son comes to cope with losing his father while he’s still alive.

Rounding out the week is the much-anticipated first collection of Sex Criminals at a bargain price (Image Comics, $9.99). Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky present a story that’s a lot more than it sounds like, although even just the concept is dynamite: a girl who discovers that time freezes for everyone but her when she orgasms finds a boy with the same ability, and together, they decide to rob a bank. Nothing goes as expected, but instead of snarky/smarmy sex comedy (although there’s some of that, too), the first issue was an insightful portrait of a young woman discovering her body and trying to figure out just how different she was in a world that didn’t support either of those. Comics rarely has meaningful portraits of significant relationships — this is one. For adults only, obviously.

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Tomboy, Liz Prince’s First Graphic Novel, Due This Fall

Liz Prince, the creator behind Alone Forever and the award-winning Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?, is releasing her first graphic novel this fall. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir is a long-form comic story, in contrast to her previous strip collections. As you might guess, it’s also autobiographical, about struggling with gender expectations.

Prince has written in depth about the process of creating the book, and the publisher has posted preview pages. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing both how she handles the longer form and her story.

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