Twilight Zone: The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street: I’m a huge Twilight Zone fan. Let’s just get that out there right now. I own the complete series on DVD and one of my favorite episodes is “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” As it turns out, this is also the case for Mark Kneece and Rich Ellis who have adapted the classic episode from the original script treatment by Rod Sterling. The art is simple and the layouts are very well done and style never dominates over the substance of Sterling’s original designs. This is also not a shot-for-shot remake of the episode (which could have easily been a pitfall of such a project). Kneece and Ellis create their own set-up and designs make every panel unique to their story, not the episode’s. A solid adaptation of a truly great story.
Never As Bad As You Think: Stuart Immonen is one of my all-time favorite artists. The man is a master of multiple styles and disciplines of sequential art. When he worked on Adventures of Superman in the 90′s, it was all soft lines and curves. When he tackled ShockRockets for Dark Horse, it was thicker inks and detailed action scenes. NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E. for Marvel allowed him to create wacky and cartoonish action scenes. Even Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man allowed for more straight-forward superhero fare, but with a lot of attention to detail and character expression. “Jack-of-all-trades” does not even come close to describing. Immonen and his wife, Kathryn, have worked on one or two projects together, but this webstrip was something special just because of the fun series of characters and quick transitions to small situational comedy moments. A great strip-size hardcover.
Noble Causes Archives Vol. 2: I became a Noble Causes fan super late in the game. I was never really a Jay Faeber fan since usually his work-for-hire jobs produced lackluster results. His work on Marvel’s Generation X and DC’s Titans were both devoid of any real originality or passion. When Noble Causes premeired at Image, I just plain wasn’t interested. The thing is, I was an idiot. All of Faeber’s independant work has been just plain awesome. Dynamo 5, Venture, Gemini and, of course, Noble Causes. The series follows the family of superheroes with more problems than the Kennedy’s and more drama than the X-Men. This second “phonebook-size” volume collects the second half of the entire run of the series (the first came out last year). It’s well worth the money and make sure you buy both volumes to get the complete story.
Strongman: Strongman is by far the single best grab I made while at Emerald City. Created by newcomers Charles Soule and Allan Gladfelter, Strongman follows the tale of fallen Luchador warrior, Tigre, as he must overcome his doubts and failures that have left him a shell of his former self to take down the corruption sweeping his neighborhood. The writing is tight and the characters are well-developed. Soule manages to evoke emotion and create very well done pacing with his writing. Gladfelter meets him with solid panel layouts and very well done action scenes and expressions for the characters. The layouts are tight and the panels show an almost cinematic quality especially in the flashbacks to Tigre and his cohorts “better days.” We’re treated to rich and fun characters, an intriguing story, and some really great art from new talent. All in all, my favorite book of the show.
Tiki Joe Mysteries: This book from cartoonist Mark Murphy is just plain fun. Classic 1959 Las Vegas pulp crime setting with the adventures of Joe Halliday and his former WWII soldier friends as they solve cases that cross their pathes at Tiki Joe’s Restaurant. It’s solid story-telling that reads like an old Rat Pack movie (in fact, it’s obviously cast as such when you look at the characters) and Murphy’s art has developed nicely from his House of Java days. Well wroth picking up.