SuBLime Announces Special Deals for YaoiCon Attendees

Global yaoi manga publisher SuBLime has announced its plans for YaoiCon, held this coming weekend in San Francisco.

At their booth, all titles currently available in print will be available at a discount, with an additional 10% off if you buy all available volumes of a series. They’re also debuting Blue Morning Volume 5 ahead of its October 14 release date.

SuBLime will also host giveaways of Awkward Silence Volumes 1-4, Crimson Spell Volumes 1-5, or a digital title of the winner’s choosing. Their panel, scheduled for Saturday, September 13, at 2 PM, will feature news, series updates, games, and prizes, as well as the promised announcement of a new acquisition.

Spinner Rack: Copperhead and Thomas Alsop

Copperhead #1

Copperhead #1 cover

written by Jay Faerber
art by Scott Godlewski
Image Comics, $3.50

As Faerber starts off his editorial note, “I’m not the first person to think of this.” Many people have done space westerns, from Star Trek to Firefly and beyond. But what attracted me to this series was its sense of character and its unusual choice for the protagonist. Most Western leads are vigilantes, not the official voice of the law.

Clara Bronson has come to the mining town of Copperhead as its new sheriff with her son Zeke. There, she meets a resentful deputy, who was passed over for the job, he believes because of his species.

The dialog is wonderful, creating a strong sense of location on the post-war frontier, in spite of the mag-lev trains and spaceport and what looks like a land speeder and the domestic call for a squabbling family of frog-like aliens. Godlewski’s visuals are impressive and establish a solid world.

Bronson’s no angel, seen by her dislike of artificial humans. I get the feeling there’s lots of backstory to explore, whether hers or the town’s or the culture. This extended first issue (28 pages) not only gives her something juicy to explore — a family murder — but her son gets his own adventure as well, with a hunt for a lost dog that takes him out too late. The emphasis here is on the Western side of the equation, exploring the frontier and what happens when people move away from civilization, not the space trappings, which I like. A good start to what looks to be an intriguing series.

Thomas Alsop #4

Thomas Alsop #4 cover

written by Chris Miskiewicz
art by Palle Schmidt
Boom! Studios, $3.99

I know halfway through a miniseries isn’t a great place to start, but this is a good issue that shows off the various themes of this premise well. Thomas Alsop is “the hand of the island”, the home mage of Manhattan. It’s a family job, handed down over generations, but he’s turned his time in the role into a reality show and blog.

This issue introduces Emma, a British witch friend, and engages in a substantial flashback showing their early days together as a rock band made up of magicians. As Alsop explains things to Emma, the reader is also reminded of (or introduced to) the conflict and costs.

What some will find tricky about the series is the underlying concept: that Alsop is trying to exorcise (or otherwise handle) the ghosts at the World Trade Center from 9/11. It’s treated delicately, and while one might argue that the story didn’t need to be told at all, if you’re going to postulate a place-based magician in NYC, you sort of need to tackle it. It’s as valid a way of processing that event as any, in my opinion, through fantasy fiction. (And at least we aren’t presented with some kind of story about preventing or reversing the event.) There’s also the complication of the hull of an enchanted slave ship buried as landfill, reminding us of the tangled history of any long-standing place.

The art is spooky and good at setting mood, from old friends reminiscing before getting down to the business of why you’d ask someone from your past for help, to the dodgy edges of a society based around exploring the unknown. The story’s got an excellent sense of place and plenty of content to ponder.

(The publishers provided digital review copies.)

Jump Start Brings New Japanese Series to Weekly Shonen Jump Same-Day

Viz Media has launched “Jump Start“, bringing the first three chapters of every brand-new manga series appearing in the Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump to English. The digital translated Weekly Shonen Jump will feature these chapters, one per week, on same-day release as the parent country.

Weekly Shonen Jump with Judos

The first three titles are

  • Judos by Shinsuke Kondo, a martial arts series about a 15-year-old village kid who wants to be the best judo practitioner in his village full of the world’s most powerful fighters — available now
  • Hi-Fi Cluster, starting September 15, a sci-fi crime thriller by Ippei Goto
  • Sporting Salt by Yuto Kubota, about sports medicine (interesting!) and debuting September 23

Fans, who are often concerned about authenticity, should love the chance to check out brand-new series in super-timely fashion. (This cuts the legs out from under scanlation sites, too, as who would want a sometimes-sloppy translation when they can get the official in the same time frame?) Readers also get the chance to leave feedback through an online survey. Magazine Editor-in-Chief Andy Nakatani says,

“The ‘Jump Start’ initiative begins a new era in digital manga publishing that will give seasoned readers, as well as those new to the genre, seamless, same-day, simultaneous access like they’ve never enjoyed before to what’s hot and brand new in the world’s most popular manga magazine. ‘Jump Start’ gives new titles an important opportunity to develop an international following. Our readers can play a more active role than ever to help VIZ Media and Shueisha discover what new series resonate on an international level and decide what might possibly be featured on a regular ongoing basis.”

So put in those surveys, kids, and you too can have a voice in manga to read. Weekly Shonen Jump is 99 cents an issue or $25.99 for a yearly subscription (48 issues).

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 2 Now on Blu-ray

Out today on Blu-ray is the complete second season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This follows, of course, Season One, which came out at the end of last year.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 2 on Blu-ray

All 26 episodes are included, as listed below, on two discs in widescreen HD. Guest stars this season include Aquaman, the Flash, the Justice Society, Justice League International, and the Super Batman of Planet X (voiced by Kevin Conroy). Best of all, the episodes are presented in the producer’s preferred order for the first time — including “The Mask of Matches Malone!” in the correct aspect ratio!

We previously reviewed the first half of these and loved them.

Disc One Disc Two
  1. Death Race to Oblivion!
  2. Long Arm of the Law!
  3. Revenge of the Reach!
  4. Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure!
  5. The Golden Age of Justice!
  6. Sidekicks Assemble!
  7. Clash of the Metal Men!
  8. A Bat Divided!
  9. Super-Batman of Planet X!
  10. The Power of Shazam!
  11. Chill of the Night!
  12. Gorillas In Our Midst!
  13. The Siege of Starro! Part 1
  1. The Siege of Starro! Part 2!
  2. Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!
  3. The Last Patrol!
  4. The Mask of Matches Malone!
  5. Menace of the Madniks!
  6. Emperor Joker!
  7. The Criss Cross Conspiracy!
  8. Plague of the Prototypes!
  9. Cry Freedom Fighters!
  10. The Knights of Tomorrow!
  11. Darkseid Descending!
  12. Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!
  13. The Malicious Mr. Mind!

The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic

The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic is a great idea, but I had some problems with the execution. Learning about geology in comic format seems like a good match, since the science is known for being visual, what with earthquakes and volcanos and such, plus exploded diagrams of the earth’s content.

Unfortunately, the authors — writer Kanani K.M. Lee is a Yale professor of geology and geophysics, while the work of artist Adam Wallenta can be seen at his website — seem to have fallen prey to the idea that comics = superheroes. Instead of concentrating on making the educational material clear and interesting, they’ve dressed it up with a silly and pointless daydream of being a superhero, just to provide the kind of flashy graphics seen on the cover.

George is concerned about his upcoming science test, so he dreams about skateboarding through ancient earth with a robot dog. This is unnecessary and distracting from the actual content, which is fascinating enough. Most of the art is dedicated to drawing George getting to school or these daydreams, with little left for explaining the science in depth. The educational material is dropped in, in large text chunks full of specialized terms. The diagrams are the same standard ones I saw in my grade school textbooks, without thought being given as to how they could be elaborated in a visual format or explained in more memorable fashion.

It looks to me as though the authors fell in love with the concept but didn’t know enough about non-fiction comics to convey the material in the best form for education. Plus, already a slim volume, at 40 pages, the comic only takes up 22 of them. The rest are text pages that explain geology in more depth than the comic could handle.

This thin color comic is flashy and eye-catching, but I found it disappointing. It feels as though the authors felt kids needed to be pandered and talked down to in order to make exciting material entertaining. You can see a preview at the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

Arrow Season 3 Trailer Promises Brandon Routh

Arrow Season 3 launches on the CW on October 8, and here’s the trailer.

Clearly, I have some catching up to do when Season 2 comes out on DVD on September 16, since I have no idea which guy on the motorcycle is flirting with Felicity. Oliver, I guess, since he’s kissing her later.

Anyway, Black Canary returns, yay, and even more exciting is the introduction of Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer, whom we comic fans know as the shrinking Atom. (I’ve been rewatching Chuck, where Routh has a substantial role in Season 3, and it’s quite impressive. I’m glad he’s into doing geek roles.) Plenty of action coming, too.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Out on DVD Tomorrow

Thinking back, Captain America: The Winter Soldier just might be my favorite Marvel superhero movie. Sure, it isn’t on as huge a scale as The Avengers and it doesn’t have the wackiness of Guardians of the Galaxy, but it also doesn’t have the sexism of the latter or the yet-another-dark-villain of either. So overall, it’s more balanced, less of a guilty pleasure and more just pleasure.

Out tomorrow on home video is the movie, starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, and Sebastian Stan in a story of betrayal and friendship. Man, that sounds sappy, doesn’t it? But those are the themes that make me want to see the movie again, those questions of who can be trusted. Here’s a trailer for the Blu-ray release:

The Blu-ray includes making-of featurettes, commentary, deleted scenes, and bloopers, while the single-disc DVD has one featurette and deleted scene.

I am disappointed that Disney has cut back on its packaging. For a release-day price of about $20, you used to get a combo pack with Blu-ray and DVD (and originally, a digital copy). Now, to get a variety of formats, you have to upgrade to their 3-D package, which for most people, is a waste, since I don’t know anyone that watches 3-D at home. For $20, you only get a single Blu-ray disc. I suppose that’s the main way I’m going to watch the film anyway.

SPX 2014 Programming: Learn How to Get Your Comics Reviewed

SPX 2014 poster

I can’t believe that SPX — the 2014 Small Press Expo — is this coming weekend! I better get ready.

One of those tasks includes reviewing the outstanding programming slate put together by Bill Kartalopoulos. I always have a hard time tearing myself away from the show floor, looking at all those new and exciting minicomics and graphic novels, but it’s good to remember that there are informative and entertaining panel discussions as well.

One of those I hope you’ll consider is the one I’m hosting: “How Comics Get Reviewed” will be held at 2:00 on Saturday. I’m joined by Brigid Alverson, Michael Cavna, Dan Kois, Heidi MacDonald, and Douglas Wolk to talk about how to get coverage for comics and what editors and critics are looking for. It will be fun and enlightening, I hope!




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