Didja miss me?

Hi! How the hell are ya!? What’s happening!?

Well, as you can see from the date of my previous post, I’ve been offline for ohhhh about 10 months. I haven’t actually been offline, in a coma or something – I just haven’t been writing about comic books. Or even reading them, for that matter…

So what happened? Well, truth be told, I got a little burned out. Not of the comic books per se, but rather of the self-imposed obligation to write a big review after each book. I got comics all tangled up with the pressure of this big writing task, and unfortunately, it took all the fun out of it. So I had to walk away for a while.

What have I been doing? Well, I spent 2 weeks in India (for work). When I got back from there, I finally purchased a banjo, and I’ve been spending a lot of time teaching myself how to play it. I also watched some good TV series, like Hell on Wheels, and Game of Thrones. I became so obsessed with Game of Thrones that I actually read the first two books. Yes, I read two “normal” books – no pictures or nothin’! I know, the horror, right? Plus, I put a couple hundred miles on the bicycle exploring Minneapolis’s wonderful trails. And, I’ve still got those three kids, so yeah, my schedule has been pretty full, even without this blog.

Which gives me a bit of pause that jumping back into this might be a little reckless. But I do still love comic books, and I always took pride in the body of information (and opinion) that I was building here. So hey, I’m going to give it another shot. But I’m also going to try to make it a little easier on myself. I may not review every single book I read. The reviews probably won’t be quite as long (or quite as boozy). But I’ll still try to make them useful, otherwise what’s the point?

I just read my first comic in 10 months – “You’ll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man”, by Carol Tyler. It felt good. I’ll tell you about it soon. Plus I’ve got some other good ones on order down at the local library, including picking back up on the Scalped series, which I’m pretty stoked about.

I’m excited to get back into this! Let’s resume our journey together, shall we?

Happy reading. ­čÖé

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REVIEW: Northlanders, Vol. 1: Sven The Returned (3/10)

Scalped, Vol. 5: High Lonesome

Northlanders, Vol. 1:
Sven The Returned
Vertigo
2008
Story: Brian Wood
Art: Davide Gianfelice
ISBN 978-1401219185

Score
3/10

Greetings, friends! It’s been a minute since I got at ya! Well, that’s on account of me laying off the bottle a bit as a result of my New Year’s health kick. (As my regular readers may know, I typically do my best review work with a solid buzz.) But tonight I’m putting it down with my good friend Jack Daniel’s, and I’m doing it just for your benefit, dear readers, so you’re welcome. ­čśë

So what are we talking about tonight? We’re talking about Northlanders, Vol. 1: Sven the Returned, which is a Viking comic. Not a comic book created by Vikings – although I would pay to see that! – no, I mean a comic book┬áabout┬áVikings, of course. At least that’s the premise, although I’m not sure I’m any more informed about Vikings after reading it, but we’ll get to that…

I’ll preface this review by saying that I was pretty stoked about this comic when I ordered it from the library. Not that I knew anything about it, mind you – I believe I learned of this series from an advertisement in the back of a Scalped book. I just thought it looked cool, and I was frankly excited at the mere prospect of a Viking comic book. I’d never read a Viking comic before, and let’s face it, there’s so much potential for great material there, right? Well, let me tell you how it went…

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REVIEW: Scalped, Vol. 7: Rez Blues (7/10)

Scalped, Vol. 7, Rez Blues

Scalped, Vol. 7: Rez Blues
Vertigo
2011
Story: Jason Aaron
Art: R.M. Gu├ęra,
David Furno,
& Danijel Zezelj
ISBN 978-1401230197

Score

7/10

Hi, kids. It’s been a minute – thanks for hanging in there. Today I bring you my review of Scalped, Vol. 7: Rez Blues. This was an interesting one, and somewhat of a departure from recent volumes of the Scalped series. Jason Aaron spends a lot of time fleshing out the back stories of some well-known Prairie Rose characters, and even introduces us to a couple new ones. Shall we?

Story

Volume 7 is really kind of broken into 4 distinct parts, so I think I’ll summarize each of those, and then give you my insightful and fascinating opinion on the book as a whole. Sound good? Great.

Chapter 1, a.k.a. “Listening to the Earth Turn”, is a self-contained tale that introduces us to two elderly residents of the rez that we haven’t met before. It remains to be seen whether or not they will play a role in the larger story, but even if they don’t, this moving and emotional episode is pretty riveting and expertly crafted. Even if we never see Mance & Hazel again, this chapter helps to paint a more rounded picture of the Prairie Rose reservation, and reminds us that not all its people are participants in the shocking crime that this series is generally focused on. Some of these folks are struggling just to live an honest life and put food on the table…

Chapters 2 & 3, a.k.a. “A Fine Action of an Honorable and Catholic Spaniard”, focuses on our old friend Shunka, the fearsome enforcer of Chief Red Crow. Well, just like most other character in this series, Shunka is not as one-dimensional as he may seem. I won’t say much more for fear of spoiling the surprise, but suffice to say this story contains one of the more eye-popping reveals of Scalped so far! Plus of course there’s lots of violence. A lot of people get shot. And, even though this also seems to be a self-contained sub-plot, I have little doubt that the secrets that are revealed in these chapters will come into play later on. They are, simply, too juicy…

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REVIEW: Akira, Vol. 6 (7/10)

Akira, Vol. 6

Score

7/10

Well, we’ve come to the end of yet another journey here on First Panel – a LONG, intense journey to Neo-Tokyo, ca. 2030, where super-powerful telekinetics rule over a post-apocalyptic megalopolis, whilst being assaulted on all sides by assorted parties who fear their uncontrolled power.

This final chapter in the Akira series – Vol. 6 – is the swan song of Katsuhiro Otomo‘s epic – and I mean EPIC – Manga tour de force. I still find it hard to believe, but Otomo wrote and illustrated this entire series himself. For the record, that’s 2100 excruciatingly detailed pages. It’s not so hard to believe however that he spent 7 1/2 years of his life doing it. Honestly, I’m somewhat surprised it didn’t take longer…

For the record, the version I’ve been reading and reviewing here on First Panel is the recently finished reissue by Random House.

Story

After all my admiration of the scope of this work and the ridiculous dedication and effort that Otomo put forth, the first thing I’m going to do is complain about how long volume 6 was. ­čÖé Don’t get me wrong, a lot of very important things transpired in this book (obviously) – I just felt that they probably could have been accomplished in about half as many pages. Allow me to explain…

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Movie

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie posterWell, I finally got around to watching the Scott Pilgrim movie – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – a good year or so after it was released. What took me so long? I was waiting until I finished the books, naturally. I like to do that – watch the movie version of a book, right after I finish the book. It’s like I get to see Hollywood’s visualization of the story after I’ve just spent days or weeks or months visualizing the whole thing in my own head. Generally, it’s a good experience. I recommend it! ­čÖé

And it’s a good thing I waited until I’d finished the whole series, because this movie somehow manages to pack the entire thing (6 volumes, roughly 1000 pages) into one film – and rather successfully, I might add.

Now I know that movies based on books never really follow the printed story line 100% -and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is no exception. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they followed it fairly closely – until the end at least. I can never quite figure out why movie-makers make the changes they do when bringing a book to the big screen – but of course, I’m no movie director either. I just have to trust that the digressions were absolutely necessary.

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