Monday, August 27, 2012

Don´t pay the ferryman

You may have heard about the demise of my computer but the news of the death of this blog have been a bit premature. Yes, he was on the river Styx on his way to Hades but thankfully a friend could resurrect it and now we´re back.


As luck would have it Today is also the first day I have to work again. Or better CAN work again. Because while it´s nice to have a few days off a man´s gotta eat - or buy comics in my case.

I´m still bummed out because I couldn´t spend the three weeks the Stadionbad was closed in Spain. But that´s the downside to going to Erlangen if you know beforehand you really can´t afford it. Speaking about Erlangen, I was in the middle of telling my adventures in Erlangen when my computer crashed - right before I could finish the post. It´s really frightening to experience how much we rely on technology like computers for everday life things, let me tell you this. Because I went cold turkey in seconds.

No googeling something you want to know. No checking on imdb who played in which movie. No surfing your favorite comic news websites. No facebook, no e - mails and no data you have on your pc whatsoever.

So what did I do in those three weeks without work ? Because you just know the computer will go on the fritz when you finally have the time to really use it. Okay, what I had to do was venture out into the real world and interact with real people. Not my favorite thing to do.


Usually I leave the house when I have to - to work, buy food or get new comics ( usually in inverse order ) - and I try to get as many different things done on one trip as possible.

So while I had to get out of the house to get provisions or use the internet cafe to check out my e - mails ( I had to frequent the only one in Ludwigsburg which I think is run by turkish people so it is kind of shifty and you expect the police to do an unannounced raid any minute ) there was a lot of stuff on my " to do " list. I just had my 45th birthday at the end of July and while I still hadn´t gotten any birthday presents when my computer committed suicide I spent most of my birthday basically doing what my older brother wanted to do. Don´t ask me how that worked out, spanish families are just different. Anyway, there were certain things that I had planned to do on my birthday ( one of those was writing a post but I was just too busy to do it and I don´t think it would be right to write one now ) and which now were all on my " to do " list.

But I think the first thing I did from my list was sending some comics and other things to somebody outside of Germany which I had planned to do for ages. This person always sends me stuff and I always tell myself I´ll return the favor when I do my next big contest but then I´m too busy, or something else comes up or whatever. Anyway, now I had the time and I went to the new post office we have now in Neckarweihingen. Which isn´t as far from my home as I had feared.

For the next thing from my list I didn´t have to leave the house ( Yay ! ) which was starting with watching all the new movies my brother had brought from Spain.


Yes, it´s like I´m still 16 and we have to get the good movies in Spain because the german FSK mutilates everything and you can´t get uncut movies in Germany even if you are older than 18. With all the brouhaha about the Europian Union and that everything has to be the same in all countries you would think that at some point the germans had to stop their ridiculous rating system and get with the program. Well, probaly not when you have the rest of Europe under your financial thumb. I guess I will just have to accept to live in a totalitarian state where censorship is concerned. Hey, the problem of racism is much worse so, anyway.

Wow, no idea where that came from but it´s better not to think too much about the differences between Germany and Spain. Since I couldn´t go to Spain this year I tried to find some of the books I couldn´t buy during my last trip to Barcelona on amazon - which I did, but they added so much money on the price I would have paid in Spain that it would have been almost cheaper to fly to Barcelona and buy them myself.

Which was another huge bummer when my computer fried. I guess right now I get 50 or 60 percent of the comics I read over the internet ( probably 70 percent if you add the recent increase of trades and hardcover in my reading list ) because my comic shop - as great as it is - doesn´t have that wide of a selection outside of my monthly subscriptions. And to suddenly find yourself without the means to get the books you read outside of your subscription list can be a pain.


On the other side it meant I had to go to my comic shop for some new comics which I had planned since my last visit. Usually I go there once a month but with Erlangen and all the other stuff to keep me busy it was almost three months on my last visit. Which meant I had to leave a lot of stuff in my comic box so I made a mental note to not wait that long again and clear out my comic box - at least part of it.

Well, what can I say ? It didn´t work out and it´s all the fault of the second hand section. Since they changed it from 50 percent off to 10 EUROS per kilo I always pick two or three things on every visit and although I did manage to make a trip just last week I didn´t get as many issues from my comic box as I had hoped. Not that I´m complaining, with the way german comics are priced most of them are unaffordable for me without such welcome opportunities like comic fairs or the second hand section of your local comic shop. Here´s what I got on my last 2 visits :

RED ROBIN 6 - SIEBEN TAGE DES TODES


which contains RED ROBIN 23 to 26 and May I have this dance ? from BATMAN 80 - page giant 2010. The regular price is 12.95 EUROS but in kilos it goes for for 2 EUROS. A small part of the backcover is cut, a few of the last pages are damaged in the lower left corner but that´s no problem if you just want to read it.

RED ROBIN is one of the better books of the Pre - New 52 DC Universe and if the word " world building " ever was appropiate then it´s in this series with Tim Drake and his growing supporting cast. Tim is a character I always liked since his first appearances and he really got to find his individuality in the series. I mean for a long time he was the only once who was convinced that Bruce had survived. So far I have read and enjoyed the first three volumes and while it is kind of weird to read the final issues before parts 4 and 5 it is a fitting ending.

DAREDEVIL 1 - DIE RÜCKKEHR


containing thre first six issues of the new, critically acclaimed DAREDVIL series penned by Mark Waid and illustrated by Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin. The regular price is 16.95 EUROS, kilo price 2.60. The front cover is heavily bent, otherwise it´s okay.

I have read the whole DAREDEVIL run from when Bendis started ( with Alex Maleev who´s really not my favorite Daredevil artist ) to the end of Ed Brubaker´s story in RETURN OF THE KING and all things considered it was an entertaining read. The art could have been better on some issues but apart from that it was a pretty cohesive story. Okay, you might think after all the problems Matt Murdock has had with women in the last years he would finally learn not to get involved with them.

I mean if there was ONE THING that got pretty boring pretty quick in the whole run it was Matt´s relationships with women because it was all so repetetive. Matt meets new girl, Matt falls in love with new girl, Matt tells her he´s Daredevil, they get married / engaged / go on a trip, some villain tries to get at Matt through the girl which all ends with Matt´s new friend / fiancee / wife´s life totally f - worded up / possibly dead and Matt feeling bad and sorry for himself because of it. Wash, rinse, repeat.

On the other hand knowing you shouldn´t fall in love on an intellectual level and managing to act accordingly are two different things. Especially if you keep in mind the kind of hot women Matt gets freaky with.


But that was just a minor nuisance, all in all it was good. What I did avoid at all costs was the whole SHADOWLAND trainwreck with all its dozens of miniseries tie - ins and spin - offs and according to the bits I read here and there about it ( demonic possession, Matt going bonkers - again, Black Panther posing as the new Man without Fear Black Daredevil and whatnot ) I did the right thing. It might have turned out different if I had taken the chance and ordered the THUNDERBOLTS SHADOWLAND hardcover when it was offered at amazon.de for less than the trade version but that´s water down the river.

There was a DAREDEVIL REBORN story after SHADOWLAND but having read the DAREDEVIL issues after INFERNO by Ann Nocetti and John Romita Jr I already had my definite rebuilding of Matt and I´m not sure the new creative team was able to top that.

But now there is a new Daredevil series and the comic critics like it, the comic readers like it and the comic interwebs sites like it. So, is it really that good ? I words of one syllable : Yes.

After all the gloom and doom high drama this series is a bit of a return to the swashbuckling days of Daredevil´s carrer without ignoring what has come before - something a lot of reboots have the tendency to do.


One of the things that is on the forefront in the new stories is that everybody believes Matt Murdock is Daredevil ( tell me the truth you are also convinced he is ) which his opponents in the court room start to use against Matt. Which ultimately leads to Matt re - organizing his law firm so that from now on they train clients to defend themselves in a court of law. Something which reminded me very much of the days when Matt had lost his lawyer´s license and ran a free legal advice clinic in Hell´s Kitchen with Karen.

As I said, this book has the first six issues which are an excellent jumping on point for new readers, old readers who have left the tittle at some point or diehard fans of old hornhead. It serves very good to set up the new status quo and you have Daredevil going up against the usual assortment of antagonists that we all love, from other heroes like Captain America


to old school villains like Ulysses Klaw


to mobsters ( he crashes a Mafia Princess´ wedding in issue 1 )


to an alliance between Hydra, AIM, Black Spectre, Agence Byzantine and the Secret Empire. Talk about having your plate full. It´s a high octane story with a slow start that keeps gaining momentum as it goes on and it has a satisfying ending that leaves you questioning what is going to happen next to the Man without fear.


But what about the art you might ask. As regular readers of this blog know I´m a big fan of Marcos Martin even when the stories he chooses to illustrate have big problems like the BATGIRL miniseries or his work on Spider - Man. What Marvel seems to have learned from that title ( or from reading my blog, but how high are the chances of that happening ? ) is that they paired him with another artist who´s not too different but also not too similar which gives the books a cohesive look even if they work on alternating issues. As you might guess the book gets a recommendation and I already ordered the second volume because right now amazon.de is selling it for about the same price as the trade.

preview issue 1 / issue 2 / issue 3 / issue 4 / issue 5 / issue 6

SECRET AVENGERS 4 - DIE LETZTE STUFE


collects issues 16 to 21 of SECRET AVENGERS and how you end up with a title like THE LAST STEP when the original title is RUN THE MISSION, DON`T GET SEEN, SAVE THE WORLD is anyone´s guess.

I have most of the Secret Avengers issues until number 15 but I was a bit hesitant about getting the following ones because they have a different artist in every issue. For a while I thought about ordering it from amazon because they had it at bargain price but i waited too long and the offer expired. The german edition costs 16.95 EUROS but the kilo cost is 2.40 and the only defect is that the front cover is ripped rather heavily. A good bargain and a good read full of Warren Ellis´usual weirdness although - like expected - I only liked the art in the Stuart Immomen issue.

HUNTRESS - DARKKNIGHT DAUGHTER


collects stories from DC SUPER STARS 17, BATMAN FAMILY 18 to 20 and WONDER WOMAN 271 to 287, 289, 290, 294 and 295. Regular price for the trade is 19.99 dollars, kilo price comes to 2.60 EUROS which is the same price as the much slimer DAREDEVIL trade. I guess PANINI must use heavier paper. The first few pages seem to have gotten wet - though during shipping or at the printer I can´t say - apart from that it´s okay.

I can´t say if I would have picked this up at regular price but I´ve always been a big fan of parallel worlds and those Silver Age Earth Two stories and Joe Staton was the artist on GREEN LANTERN ( or better GRÜNE LEUCHTE ) when I was reading the book. But I already covered that period of my german superhero reading career in my COVERSTORY part 4 post so I won´t get into detail about it here.


There have been a few collections of the JSA or other Earth Two stuff by Joe Staton but I never had the budget. He also did a ton of stuff like Superman stories that were printed in the german SUPERMAN TASCHENBUCH and I even remember reading a few of the german translation of the Huntress stories from this trade somewhere, especially the one with the flashback of Huntress´ mother Catwoman ( which is not a spoiler after 30 years ) going up against that Lionmane character.

But it´s been so long since I read that that it was like reading it for the first time, which might have been true if you keep in mind how bad german translations can be. A big part of the stories WERE new for me and it was a lot of fun to read them all in order. A big part of my enjoyment of the book might stem from the nostalgia of seeing Robin in his Earth Two costume ( which I still think is one of his best ever ) and just getting the whole continuity of that parallel world. And it sure helps that Power Girl made a guest appearance. You can´t beat the Power Girl.


But if you think that Power Girl was included to provide some eye candy - boy, you couldn´t have been more wrong. Helena Wayne was pretty capable of providing that herself. I was a bit surprised - okay, pleasantly surprised ( and aroused ) by the number of times Huntress is shown with a ripped shirt,


in a bathrobe that is generously open up front


or taking a shower.


I couldn´t help but wonder if comics haven´t lost an big part of their greatness and splendor when they lost the innocent attitude with which they used to pepper their comics with nude chicks, cheesecake shots and especially buttshots which seem to dominate this comic.

And since we´re on the subject of cheesecake, MEMORY by MANARA


was not that big of a bargain since the regular price is about 15 EUROS and you get it for 10 EUROS in the second hand section but that is the downside with some of those heavy hardcovers.

I think I was most surprised to find this book in the second hand section in the first place ? I mean, which guy in his right mind would want to get rid of it ? I bet whoever did this was forced by his girlfriend or mother. In any case it has the usual collection of the masters fabulous portrayals of the female form and it´s totally worth it. I mentioned him a few times on this blog and for my readers from America you may know him from the X - WOMEN oneshot or his variant cover for UNCANNY AVENGERS 2.


Which is a reason to pay my comicshop another visit since it´s probably unaffordable if I try to order it from one of the online comicshops I use. So this brings us to the end of this post which was mostly about pimping the SAMMLERECKE in Esslingen and especially the second hand section. But before we come to the video part there is something I want to mention even if some of my readers are annoyed by the next section.

Today´s celebrity birthday is cinema cult siren Barbara Bach who turns 65. She is probably best known for being a Bond girl ( The spy who loved me ) but my favorite movie with her is UP THE ACADEMY - often falsely listed as Kelly McGillis first movie.


Barbara Bach giving a very popular, openhearted lecture about big guns

She also stared in the movie CAVEMAN where she met her husband Ringo Star. By the way, although you may think so Barbara Bach is not related to Catherine Bach from THE DUKES OF HAZARD, a show I always watch after work ( I´m now watching season three ) and not only because John Schneider who plays Superman´s Dad on SMALVILLE is in it.


Catherine Bach ( not related ) and her big guns in a french maid outfit

Catherine looks a bit like Barbara and it would realy be a hot sandwich with two hot sisters if it were true but no such luck. Catherine Bach´s full name is Bachmeier while Barbara Bach´s full name is Goldbach. So sorry, they are not related although they both have german roots. Hmm, like John Schneider. There´s a lot of germans on that DUKES OF HAZZARD show.



Since I have finished watching the GREEN LANTERN ANIMATED episodes ( again, a must - see for all fans of Green Lantern or comics in general ) I have started watching the AEON FLUX DVD we got for Christmas some years ago. You know, as soon as I found out that they couldn´t even get the costume right I knew the movie adaption couldn´t end well. In any case the episodes are much better if you don´t have to watch them in 5 minute parts although the stories can be pretty weird and freaked out in themselves.



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Friday, August 03, 2012

My Erlangen crash course ( finished ! )

Okay, last time we got a bit sidetracked ( and as always when I get off on a tangent I never know how long it will be or where we will end up ) but this time we´ll talk about my further adventures at the Erlanger Comicsalon 2012 - for real.


We already covered my trip to Erlangen and ..... what ..... the first two hours ? Oh boy.

So I already had spent my first 100 EUROS in comics ( additionally to 20 on gas and the money for the ticket ) and I had only been at one table so far. My next stop was - after the usual bouts with disorientation caused by the long absence from Erlangen and the urgency to get things done in less than two days this time - the table ( better tables ) of SCHWARZER TURM where I always stop to look for the new books and talk comics. Usually just to meet Robi and talk a bit about stuff but this time around he had his kids with him and was kind of busy. Not that we didn´t have time for the usual banter but I always enjoy our comic talks as he has a similar taste when it comes to DC and Marvel comics from the 70s / 80s.

Robi´s a super nice guy and he insisted that I get the new Complete edition of ALRAUNE - well, part 1 of it. Not that I wouldn´t have bought it anyway. At this point I shouldn´t have to tell you about Alraune. If you live in Germany, are male and don´t live under a rock you probably have all the issues or at least have heard about it. And if you live outside of Germany, the series has also been published - in full colour to boot - by Eros Comix. Which is one of the main reason for the new collection. Not only to have it in the collected form but also to present it to the german comic reading audience in colour for the first time.

Since I first saw the coloured pages on the interwebs I have been telling my guys at Schwarzer Turm that they have to do a coloured collection because no matter if you already have the issues you´re going to buy it again. And it seems at long last they ran out of excuses not to do it. Of course the hardcover has a nice new cover by Toni Greis but this time around I didn´t manage to get a sketch from him.


Now I could tell you how wonderful the art looks in stunning colour but the truth is because I already read all of the issues I haven´t gotten around to open it. It´s in my big pile of comics to read or better re - read next to the two big piles of comics I have read and another pile of new comics on my desk. But I´m sure ALRAUNE will be excellent - once I get around to read it. Volume 1 is 108 pages strong and contains the first 4 issues, the second volume will collect issues 5 to 8 and there are rumours about a third volume full with bonus stuff like sketches, interviews and more goodies. I can think of worse ways to spend 24 EUROS.

The second comic I bought at the Schwarzer Turm table was also done by Toni Greis and it´s one I have actually read in the meantime : LUNA issue 4. Since I missed the last Comicbörse in Stuttgart I´m not sure how new it is but since I didn´t have it either way I just had to get it. And not just because I was the inspiration for one of the characters in the comic.


Now right on the other side from the tables of the guys from Schwarzer Turm are the usual suspects of Weissblech Comics where I made my next purchase, with a few changes of course. The thing is - and if you have read my posts from hte last Comicsalon in Erlangen you already know that - that they always offer the NEW PUBLICATIONS PACK with all the new comics of the last month but as an avid reader of Weissblech Comics I already have one or two of the issues in the pack. So we do a little swap and change since there are always some comics I´m still missing.

The regular NEW PUBLICATIONS PACK included HAMMERHARTE HORROR - SCHOCKER issues 27, 28 and 29, WELTEN DES SCHRECKENS issue 5, WEISSBLECHS WELTBESTE COMICS issue 20 : SCHAURIGER SCHUND and issue 21 : BELLA STAR and XXX - COMICS 12 all for 30 EUROS. Since I already had issues 27 and 28 of HAMMERHARTE HORROR - SCHOCKER I swapped it for SCHOCKROCK : TALES OF THE OTHER and got a bit of an additional discount. I totally forgot that I also already owned issue 20 of WEISSBLECHS WELTBESTE COMICS : SCHAURIGER SCHUND but I was too lazy to look for another substitute. So it´s gonna land in the next pile of comics when I do another Christmas contest or something similar. I´m sure I can find somebody who will be delighted to get it.

HAMMERHARTE HORROR - SCHOCKER 29 ( 36 pages / 3.90 EURO ) presents the usual assortment of horror short stories this time with a spectacular lead off story with art by Carsten Dörr although I have to say my favorite part was SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE by Geier ( you can find his blog Geierheim on the blogroll ). And speaking of favorites, The Lep is quickly becoming one of my favorite Weissblech artists. All things considered it´s the usual high quality level of entertainment one has grown to expect from the best horror anthology title in Germany.


A newer anthology of short stories from Weissblech is WELTEN DES SCHRECKENS ( Worlds of Terrors ) with only 5 issues under it´s belt. I´d describe it as a melting pot of stories that are either too short for a special or don´t fit with the theme comics. Weissblech mastermind Levin Kurio is like a creative fountain of ideas and not always those comics can be integrated in the usual outlets or finished on time. So the usual group of ragtag neverdowells end up here.

Issue 5 ( 68 pages / 7.80 EURO ) contains four stories, of which DIE CHRONIKEN VON SOL ( The Chronicles of Sol ) has already been printed in the GRATIS COMIC TAG 2012 issue from Weissblech. As I have already gotten quite a few comics from this year´s GRATIS COMIC TAG maybe that should be my next post.

Back to Worlds of Terror, it also includes another story by The Lep about a comicfan who literally ends up inside the pages of a comicbook and Kala, one of Weissblech´s few recurring characters. Think Cavewoman but blonde and topless.

The longest part of the issue ( 20 pages ! ) is IN DER GEWALT DES ERLKÖNIGS ( Under the power of the Erlking ) which features another recurring character : Argstein the huntsman. Although this character has his origins elsewhere. Eckhardt Breitschuh and Josef Rother started their adventures about the 15th century answer to Hellboy in the pages of Ehapa Comic Collection before he found a new home at Weissblech.

As the title implies the story is an adaption of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe´s ballad which every kid has to learn in german school although this version has much more action and a plot you can understand.


WEISSBLECHS WELTBESTE COMICS ( Weissblech World´s Best Comics ) is Weissblech´s series for specials, something german readers are familiar with since the days of BATMAN SONDERHEFT and the likes. And while some issues have several stories about a certain topic issue 21 ( 36 pages / 4.90 EUROS ) revolves about BELLA STAR, Germany´s comic amalgam between Barbarella and Emanuelle.


While some of Bella Star´s adventures may be for readers above 16 ( like you can see above ) the story that´s included in XXX - COMICS 12, as one could guess by the title of the publication, is for adults only.

The story takes place before the events in Weissblech World´s Best Comics 21 a fact I should have known before reading it but which I only learned when I discovered the reading order of the Bella Star stories ( which are scattered a bit through various series ). Aside from this XXX - COMICS 12 ( 36 pages / 6.80 EUROS ) also presents two erotic shorts but as is the custom with this kind of entertainment the artists work under a pen name.


And last but not least the comic I picked and which was not in the original pack ( I already wrote about WEISSBLECHS WELTBESTE COMICS issue 20 : SCHAURIGER SCHUND in one of my earlier posts so I´m not going to repeat that ) was SCHOCKROCK : TALES OF THE OTHER and I don´t think I have to translate that.

The comic ( 36 pages / 6.66 EUROS ) contains various horror short stories and in the end the protagonists of those stories form the german horror punk band known as THE OTHER. Don´t worry, if you don´t know them - I´m from Germany and had to take a short crash course via internet to dig up the most important facts.


And speaking about crash courses - my computer selfdestucted just when I was about to finish this post so it´s going to be a while before there will be new content here. As usual here are a few links with more info about Todays topics :

Der Erlkönig - german wikipedia / english wiki / weissblech homepage

The Other - german wikipedia / english wiki / the other on myspace

As I like to end the posts with a video Today´s one is - of course - by THE OTHER. I think I have already covered all the bases with the current animated series so we´ll end this on a musical note. Oh, one last thing : watching the new GREEN LANTERN ANIMATED series is a must. It just gets better and better with each episode.



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