GrimJack Trade Post: The Legend Of GrimJack Volumes 1 & 2

legend of grimjack volume 1The Legend Of GrimJack Volume 1 (First Comics/IDW)
Written by John Ostrander, drawn by Timothy Truman
Collects GrimJack back-ups from Starslayer #10-17

GrimJack is one of those characters that I had a vague awareness of, but never really knew anything about, aside from the fact that he had a funny hat and a big sword. It wasn’t until I was listening to one of the SmodCast podcasts (I think it was either Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave or The Secret Stash) and Walt Flanagan started talking about how much he loved the book that I thought, “Hey, I should check that out.” To Sequential Swap I went and made a trade for the first two volumes of the 80s First Comics offering as reprinted by IDW.

If you’re unfamiliar with the character, GrimJack is an old soldier who now works as a kind of gun-for-hire helping people who need it. That alone is interesting as he’s essentially a Clint Eastwood character (Clint’s voice circa Dirt Harry was GrimJack’s voice as I read), but then you’ve got the book’s imaginative setting. GirmJack lives in a place called Cynosure which is a city that exists in a pan-dimensional city that touches different dimensions at various times. Because of this, there’s a lot of dirty dealings going on, dirty dealings that GrimJack sometimes runs afoul of.

This first collection is interesting because, in addition to intros by John Ostrander — a writer whose later work on Suicide Squad I like very much — Tim Truman and editor Mike Gold, there’s also a new wraparound story that introduces the reader to many of the characters who will show up in the series including GrimJack himself and his bar, Munden’s. This is interesting because the second volume has absolutely no extras.

Anyway, this book collects the short stories that originally appeared in the back of Starslayer and while they obviously share characters, they’re mostly one-and-dones which is good because they offer the reader the chance to get to know GrimJack by way of the things he does and doesn’t do. These tales really run the gamut, from the first one about a god who has abandoned his people and taken to drinking in a Cynosurian bar to sci-fi/fantasy story co-starring Starslayer. There’s also a vampire one and one where he goes to a world populated by adorable cartoony animals.

I’m a big fan of the variety found in this collection. In addition to the character stuff I talked about, it also gave Truman the chance to draw, well, pretty much everything. It also shows how crazy GrimJack’s world can be. While reading this collection, I kept thinking about how cool a movie, TV series or even video game series would be. There’s so much meat here that could be explored and exploited. With Eastwood probably too old to play the part, who would make a good GJ?

legend of grimjack vol 2The Legend Of GrimJack Volume 2 (First Comics/IDW)
Written by John Ostrander, drawn by Tim Truman
Collects GrimJack #1-7

Soon enough, GrimJack proved popular enough to warrant his own series from First Comics, which wound up going for 81 issues. While still crossing all kinds of genre ground, these issues definitely carried over into one another a lot more. I’ve got no problem with this because, unlike a lot of stories these days, there’s no decompression at all as you’re constantly propelled forward either in the story itself or from one to the other. You also get to learn a lot more about GrimJack, his world and his past. He’s one of those characters like John Constantine where he’s got this big huge past filled with battles, friends and foes. The nice thing about reading from the beginning, though, is that you know what’s actually been on the page before and what’s new, unlike when I’ve read random Hellblazer trades.

After reading these two trades, I definitely see what Walt saw in these books and agree that it’s worth a read. I do have a bit of a problem, though. As I said above, the series wound up going for 81 issues, but there are only 8 volumes in this series from IDW which get up to #54. For whatever reason, they stopped making these books and switched over to the smaller omnibus format collections. It’s kind of annoying to not finish out one format and switch to the other, but I could adapt. The real problem is that those books seem to have stalled out too with the second omnibus hitting in 2011 and nothing else. I’m sure GrimJack collections aren’t exactly burning up the charts, but I do wish that companies would finish reprint projects like this once they start. I don’t know how it all breaks down, but it seems kind of crummy to promise a full run of a series and not follow through on it.

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Merry Christmas Toy Commercial Tuesday: Child World

Hey gang, posting’s going to be a little light this week because we’re spending part of the week in New England then heading back to New York and hosting my parents. If you’re checking out the internet for whatever reason, I highly recommend checking out this commercial from Child World, which, near me as a kid, was known as Children’s Palace. I vaguely remember this commercial from my childhood and was definitely that kind of kid for a long time. I was a worldclass snooper up to about high school or so and then I let it go because one year I found all my presents which made opening them on Christmas a little boring. I like surprises, so I gave it up and have been clean ever since.

Christmas Stories: 2012 Geek Ornaments From Hallmark

IMG_2185I actually snapped these pictures at our local Hallmark weeks ago, well before Thanksgiving, but forgot about them until now. Hopefully you’re all set on your Christmas shopping, but if not, the geek in your life will surely enjoy something from this line-up (assuming they’re still available, I really have no idea). Either way, I’d love to get my hands on the giant cardboard Darth Vader wearing red cloves and cape AND a Santa hat!

It seemed like there were a lot more available this year, which is pretty cool. I guess geeks like to go all out when decorating their Christmas tree. Of course, I know this. A few years back, we only had a tiny artificial tree that I decorated entirely with the superhero, movie and TV ornaments I’ve been given over the years. Speaking of superheroes, considering the huge summer they had at the box office, it comes as no surprise that they’re featured so heavily. You’ve got Spidey, Catwoman, Batman, Iron Man, Thor, Captain American, Green Lantern and of course Lion-O. That last one is the most exciting to me as it seems to come out of nowhere (especially because it’s in the classic style instead of the new-but-failed style of this year’s excellent remake). IMG_2184

Of course, you can’t have a giant cardboard Vader and not have a goodly offering of Star Wars ornaments. Looks like you’ve got your choice between a TIE Fighter, Hoth Han on Tauntaun, General Grievous, Darth Maul and a pair of Lego dudes. I have a longstanding love of Hoth Han, so I really should get my hands on that ornament.

I’m also a big fan of the movie and TV ornaments they make. I’m as much a product of the thousands of comics I’ve read as the hundreds of movies I’ve watched over and over again, so I’m just as, if not more excited by the Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshamallow Man, ET with flowers and Caddyshack groundhog dressed like Rodney Dangerfield as I am about the superheroes. Looks like a pretty darn good crop of ornaments to me!

New 52 Trade Post: OMAC & Green Arrow

OMAC volume 1 OmactivateOMAC Volume 1: Omactivate (DC)
Written by Dan DiDio & Keith Giffen with Jeff Lemire, drawn by Giffen & Scott Kolins
Collects OMAC #1-8

Do you ever get a group of trades and pull the ones you’re least interested in to the top and read those first? I can’t say it’s something I’ve done a lot of. When I was a monthly comic reader, I’d move the books I was most excited about to the top and get to the rest later. But, I recently came into a stack of New 52 books and wanted to read a few of the more random ones first just to see how they were.

One of those books was OMAC. I wasn’t super excited about the creative team or the fact that yet another one of Jack Kirby’s creations was getting yet another make over. But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised by this series, which only lasted the 8 issues collected in this book. This new version actually stands for One-Machine Attack Construct unlike the One Man Army Corp of the original series (which I can’t believe I read three years ago at this point). Set in the new DCU, the human component this time is a scientist named Kevin who gets moved all over the chessboard by Brother Eye to do his bidding.

Basically, this whole series is a love letter to Kirby, or at least that’s how I’m looking at it. Giffen is clearly paying homage to The King’s style with his pages, all of which feature at least one of Jack’s trademarks: squared off fingers, Kirby crackle or the four panel pages he seemed to like. You could also say that some of DiDio’s story elements take their lead from Kirby’s. Not everything is explained super well and things just kind of happen, much like they did in Jack’s DC books.

I like the approach I mentioned above, but it does have its fair share of problems. There’s basically three levels you can enjoy this book on. Let’s called the homage one level. Then there’s the more basic level of a superhero smash ’em up bonanza which it definitely delivers. But, the third layer is a lot less satisfying. I mean, we’re never even told why Brother Eye chose Kevin. Worse than that, it’s never explained why Brother Eye (who annoyingly says “Eye” instead of “I”) even needs a human-hosted OMAC. Why doesn’t he just use a robot? I wish these questions had been answered in these eight issues but they weren’t. I can still enjoy the story that is told on the page, but it definitely could have been more satisfying.

KEEP/DUMP: I’m going to keep this one for now. Not sure if it’ll stay in the collection after a re-read later on down the line, though.

green arrow volume 1 midas touchGreen Arrow Volume 1: The Midas Touch (DC)
Written by Dan Jurgens, J.T. Krul & Keith Giffen, drawn by Jurgens & George Perez with Ray McCarthy & Ignacio Calero
Collects Green Arrow #-6

I fell in love with the character of Green Arrow when Kevin Smith brought him back from the dead and was on board with the series up until a few years ago when Judd Winick left Green Arrow & Black Canary. I even started collecting the previous volume by way of lots on eBay and back issues found at conventions. As such, I’m always leery when I experience a new version of the character.

I haven’t written about it much on the site, but I actually really enjoy Arrow on The CW because they gave Oliver Queen a really solid, interesting and believable back story that I can sink my teeth into and enjoy. I can’t say that’s the case for this New 52 series, though. Sure you’ve got rich Oliver Queen dressing up in a superhero costume and running around fighting supervillains, but why?

This is something that I think some of the New 52 books completely failed on and others nailed really well: the question of why this book exists. I understand that DC and Warner Bros. wanted to continue with a book that had done fairly well before the relaunch and also wanted something that eventual fans of the series could read if they were so inclined, but in the book itself, what’s the point of it existing?

Much of the plot of the first arc in this book focuses on younger supervillains who get their jollies committing crimes and sending that out over the internet for people to watch. It’s the next level up from schoolyard or bum fight vidoes in a world with super powers. For some reason, this aspect of the story never grabbed me. It didn’t feel super new (Will Pfeifer did something sort of like this in the amazing HERO). I think I didn’t care about that part of the story because I didn’t care about Ollie. Sure you see him in his civilian identity blowing off the guy who runs the larger Queen family company, but that’s not enough. This is supposed to be a brand new universe where anything can happen, you can’t rely on old stories for that, you need to put enough on front street to suck me in or get me with one crazy hook and unfortunately Green Arrow had neither of those.

It did have one issue — #6 — drawn by Ignacio Calero who looked like a more stylized JLA-era Howard Porter. I’d like to see more from him in the future.

KEEP/DUMP: This one’s going up on Sequential Swap where it will hopefully get me another book.

Christmas Stories: 12 Of My Favorite Christmas Records Of All Time

It doesn’t feel completely accurate to say that my wife and I like Christmas music. We freaking love it. We both come from homes that celebrated old school classics as well as newer material. As a result we have a pretty solid and impressive collection of Christmas music. In fact, we actually have an iPod dedicated specifically to Christmas music. When my wife got a new iPod, we took her old mini (which very appropriately is green), cleared out all the old stuff and loaded it up with holiday tunes. As soon as Thanksgiving’s over, we pop that bad boy on and dig those tunes until Christmas. I figured it would be a good time to lay down a list of some of my favorite records to listen to around this time. Hit the jump to dig these crazy tunes. Continue reading Christmas Stories: 12 Of My Favorite Christmas Records Of All Time

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Kenner Millennium Falcon

The fact that, even at 29 years old, I still dropped my jaw a bit and widened my eyes when I saw the kid playing with this 1981 Kenner Millennium Falcon toy shows how ingrained my love of toys must be. Even though I’m an adult with a kid, there’s still a part of me that wants some of these gigantic toy recreations of vehicles from my favorite movies. The only one of these I remember seeing in person was the one in the ToyFare library. Man, I miss that library.

That kid’s Chewie impression is pretty bad, though, has he even seen the movie?

Casting Internets

If you want to see what I’ve been working on lately, head on over to my author page on CBR. I talked to Paul Pope and John McLaughlin and also did another installment of my collectible column Toying Around!justin aclin's star wars comic

My pal, one time boss and all around rad dude Justin Aclin talked about writing a Star Wars OGN for Dark Horse over on his blog. As you  might expect, I’m super proud of him and super jealous at the same time.

Karen Burger leaving Vertigo is pretty huge when you think about all the amazing series’ she helped foster. Good luck to her! (via The Mary Sue)

Everyone interested in comics and comic production should read Jim Zub’s breakdown of costs and profits for such books. Then he wrote about digital comics. Eye-opening stuff.

I fell in love with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere when I first read it. I’m very excited about the BBC radioplay version that will include James McAvoy, Anthony Head, Benedict Cumberbatch and Christopher Lee! (via Hypable)phil noto 70s storm

I love Phil Noto‘s series of original art pieces that are supposed to be photos from Hank Pym’s collection. Dig this Storm he posted.

Esquire scored an interview with June Diane Raphael, the wonderfully funny co-host of one of my favorite podcasts How Did This Get Made and a  recurring player on the equally wonderful New Girl.experiencing nirvanaI’m pretty curious about Sub Pop co-founder Bruce Pavitt’s e-book about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana in Europe in 1989. $5 isn’t too steep, but is it only available on the iPad? That’s no good. (via Rolling Stone)

Billy Corgan talked to Rolling Stone about my first ever Smashing Pumpkins album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Rolling Stone talked to Jimmy Page about his days in the Yardbirds. I’m sure I knew most of this stuff from Hammer of the Gods, but it was still a nice read.

Speaking of music, I discovered The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” by way of a cover and fell in love with it. This Guardian story about the song’s origins are pretty interesting.

Whoa, this skateboarding video posted over on One Cool Thing A Day is AMAZING. Tricks you’ve never seen before, guaranteed.

I hope you’re enjoying 25 days of Doctor Who goodness over on the BBC’s Adventure Calendar.

I’m pretty excited about Comedy Central giving shows to Nick Kroll, Amy Schumer and Anthony Jeselnik. Here’s hoping I’ll actually know when they’re on. (via THR)

Speaking of funny people, Louis CK answered the Proust Questionnaire over at Vanity Fair.

Lastly, I’m grown to really love Judd Apatow’s movies. I always liked them, but as I get a little older I can relate to the truth and honesty in them a lot more. As such, I’m very excited for This Is 40, though I have no idea when I will see it. Until then, I’m happy reading interviews about him and Leslie Mann from The Chicago Tribune.