Saturday, February 19, 2011

Waiting for Trade? Morning Glories

Creative Team: Nick Spencer (W), Joe Eisma (A)
Price: $9.99
Available Now!

It should be no secret by now that I love this comic. Seriously, seriously love it. It is the first or second comic I read in my giant stack of 50-60 comics every month. Under the Shadowline imprint of Image comics Nick Spencer has created some great characters and an amazing environment to push them to their limits.

It is surprisingly difficult to describe this series without venturing into spoiler territory. The series has been described as Runaways meets Lost. I can’t speak for the Runaways side as I have not read the series (but really want to check it out) but, like Lost, this series is a long form mystery. Spencer envisions this series being 75 or 100 issues in length, and he is building toward a planned ending. He assures audiences that he is not making things up as he goes along, but since we are only 6 issues in, sometimes it might feel that way. I have faith that things will be explained at their proper time and am having more than enough fun along the way. That being said, if you are someone who wants answers RIGHT NOW, you might not enjoy this book as much as I do.

Our story takes place in the prestigious Morning Glories Academy and follows the six newest students as they find out that there is much more going on at the school than was mentioned in any recruitment brochures. The characters are what drew me into this series, and they are what has kept me coming back excitedly every month (more on my favorite Glory here).

I’ve heard some criticize that the characters are too stereotypical. Again, I would counter that we’re only 6 issues in and haven’t had a ton of time for multilayered character development. We all knew (or were) these sorts of people in high school; the flirt, the nerd, the “emo” girl, the sleazy jerk. It’s a comfortable place for us to START the story. We recognize the types of characters and it makes it easier for the reader to get into their heads in this first arc. If the characters do not develop further, then yes they are stereotypes and it’s a strike against Spencer for poor writing. But at the moment we are in a great place for continued development and for the characters to surprise us.

I absolutely love the covers for this series. I’m not sure if this matters to those who read in trade, as I am not sure if the covers are included in this volume or not. I will admit that I prefer the art style of the covers to the interiors, but that’s not to say that the interiors aren’t great. They have their own charm and depth to them, and I feel like it is a solid fit for the series. Faces are very expressive and the characters each have a unique look that is easy to tell apart. Backgrounds are descriptive and help set the mood.

Image is geniusly releasing volume one, containing issues 1-6, the week before issue 7 hits the stands. Any reader who picks up the trade and is enthralled with the series can start to follow the monthly releases the very next week on February 23rd (or wait the grueling six months for the next volume). This quick of a trade release is nearly unheard of, so take advantage of the opportunity to discover your my new favorite comic. To top it off, the trade is only $10 (which is like half of what I paid for the monthlies, seriously you have no reason not to try this!). And as an added bonus for all readers, issue 7 will be the first issue with the newly discounted price of $2.99.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A look at Morning Glories: Hunter

I have realized that I haven’t talked much about the wonderful comic Morning Glories. I was excited about it before it came out, but once I got the first issue in my hands I was hooked. It exceeded every expectation I had. As the first arc comes to a close (and the first trade on sale February 16th for only $10) I felt the need to gush over it some more and decided that a fun way to do that would be to take a look at my favorite character of the book, Hunter. Hopefully in introducing him to you I can give you all a small taste of why I love this comic so much.

Morning Glories features an ensemble cast of six new students to the prestigious Morning Glory Academy. As to be expected from such an honor, all the kids are intelligent and gifted, although some have demonstrated their talents more than others at this point. Of course, there is more going on at the school than advertised and it may take every gift the students have just to survive.

One reason I like Hunter so much is that I relate to him. Looking at the kids in Morning Glories I think that I was somewhere between Hunter and Casey when I was in school. I wasn’t quite as shy and awkward as Hunter, but I also didn’t have Casey’s insane drive. In the initial teasers for this series Hunter was described as the “Most likely to quote Star Wars at inappropriate times.” And he has. And that is something I can see myself doing. All of the kids are “smart” but Hunter seems to be the only “nerd” in the group. And for that, I love him.

While many of the students seem to have had complicated home lives, Hunter’s seems to rank right up there with the worst. We only get a brief look at Hunter’s life before coming to the Academy, but it seems clear that even if they escape the school Hunter won’t have much to go back to. While I did not get an outwardly abusive vibe, I would say that it’s pretty obvious that Hunter suffers from severe neglect. His father seems to have already forgotten about him before he even walks out the door. I’m sure we’ll get a better look into it down the line, so for now I can only speculate on what kind of disconnect could occur to cause his step brother to refer to him as “Uncle Hunter.” But this sad home life has shaped him in many ways that I will get to in a moment.

Upon arriving at the Academy, Hunter immediately made a connection with Jun, physically the strongest of the new students. Jun recognizes Hunter as someone who doesn’t have the same toughness that he possesses and tells Hunter to stick with him if things get out of hand. As someone who is capable of defending himself and others, he sees that Hunter lacks this but is someone worth sticking up for. This is not an open offer for just anyone, as he tells their third roommate, Ike, to stay away from him. But Jun sees something in Hunter and he seems like the type of friend Hunter could really use in a place like the Academy. I hope that his relationship with Hunter will be explored in the issues to come.

Now that I have called Hunter weak and all, I want you to take a look at this picture. This picture was the whole inspiration for writing this post, as I was originally just going to post the picture and gush about it. But I realized that without a bit of context the image was pretty but didn’t have the same impact. This was supposed to be the cover for issue 8, but recent solicitations have a different cover for the issue. I’m guessing that this cover has just been pushed back a few issues as it is a fantastic image and I can’t see them wasting it. *crosses fingers*

Here’s Hunter, and at first glance you can see that he isn’t the strongest of the bunch. I’d wager this is not Hunter’s first black eye. But if you take a closer look at the image (click on it for a larger version) you will see something in his eyes that speaks to an inner strength. This is a kid who is going to get knocked down, but you can see in his eyes that he’s still going to get back up again. There is a quiet determination there. He understands that if he gets up again he will probably end up back on the ground, but that isn’t going to stop him from doing it anyway.

I think I can explain a bit of his motivation here. In the comic, when Casey comes to him for help he agrees to help her before she can even explain what she needs help with. I would say that this behavior is only about 40% motivated by his teenage hormones and the fact that he has quickly developed feelings for her. The main factor in this behavior, I think, is his incredible excitement at being noticed. He gushes to Jun about how Casey came to him, him of all people, to help. As I said before, Hunter didn’t seem to have much of a home life. I would wager that Hunter’s good grades, and possibly even his application to the school, were driven by his need to be accepted by his father. It doesn’t seem like he was able to achieve this, but suddenly he has someone important in his life who notices him and confides in him. As such, he is very eager to please. He wants to help, wants to continue this relationship. And that has brought out a stronger side of him.

I think if you hit Hunter for no reason, or just because you like to beat up on other kids, he might not get back up. He’s not looking for punishment. But if he believes that his actions can help his friends, even a little, he will get back up and take anything you will throw at him.

Hunter has already had a few very strong moments in the comics. I won’t spoil them here for those who have not yet read the series, but rest assured that he is someone who you can trust in an emergency. He may not always know the right thing to do, but he is going to try his best to help out those few he is close to. And yet he’s still this awkward, geeky kid who is just trying to get by. Not all the kids like him or understand him which I think is something we can all relate to.

I look forward to seeing Hunter and the rest of the characters in action every month, and, if you’re looking for a great story with some great characters, you should give it a look too.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Beasts are coming back!

I cannot explain how excited I am about this image announcing that the Beasts of Burden series will continue in 2011.

I gave a glowing recommendation of the first volume and thoroughly enjoyed the one shot with Hellboy. I’ve been checking Dark Horse’s solicitations every month hoping that a new miniseries would pop up. And now they have released this teaser image!

I’m assuming that this will be another miniseries. As much as I would love it to be an ongoing series, I have a feeling that Jill Thompson’s beautiful painted artwork requires a bit more time than a monthly schedule would allow for. While there is no specific date listed I’m hoping that the first issue will be solicited for a May release. I guess we’ll find out toward the end of the month. There will likely be another Comic Buzz column about this one once we have some more details. In the meantime, check out the first collection so you can see why I’m so excited about this.

Monday, February 7, 2011

By the Numbers – January

Posting this a little late, but here's the comics I ordered for January (note: not all of these shipped this month, this is just what I ordered)

Total comics for the month: 55
Change from last month: -6

Company Run Down
DC: 31
Vertigo (DC): 3
Wildstorm (DC): 1
12 Gauge: 1
Antarctic Press: 1
Archaia Entertainment: 2
Boom!: 4
D. E.: 1
IDW: 1
Image: 7
Oni: 1
Th3rd World Studios: 1
Zenoscope: 1

Average price I paid: $1.87

0 Issues: 1
First Issues: 8
Last Issues: 4

Ongoing: 35
Mini-series: 19
One shot: 1

Batman Issues: 12
Brightest Day books: 5