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Comic Review: Side B: The Music Lover's Comic Anthology
04/27/10 at 09:47 PM by Adrian Villagomez


Side B: The Music Lover's Comic Anthology

Story: Various | Art: Various
Publisher: Poseur Ink
Publication Date: June 3, 2008


Back in April 2007 I was introduced to Poseur Ink and a graphic novel titled Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel. To quote myself, "[Side A] chronicles the experiences of over thirty music lovers as they come to musical consciousness and ponder past events set to specific soundtracks. These short stories are presented panel to panel in comic book form and range in style from goofy and cartoonish to vividly realistic."

Well, Poseur Ink decided that releasing a Side A without a Side B is just wrong. So a year later, Poseur Ink once again gelled together music, doodles, nostalgia, and humorous anecdotes for Side B: The Music Lover's Comic Anthology. If you've read and enjoyed Side A, Side B will be a welcome return to form. Once again creative thinkers with various artistic styles tell short stories, revolving around music, through comic panels. The story topics range from the discovery of a beloved artist to a prehistoric love story that concludes with two dinosaurs humping (like this). When reading this collection, it's not easy to guess what might be coming next. In this way, the book's cover art - a hip looking female standing before a mountain of assorted musical instruments - is indicative of the reading experience. Digging through the comic panels, there are stories that will hit close to home, while others may be tossed aside without a second glance - it all depends on the reader.

At this rate, I can imagine Poseur Ink churning out Side C, D, and on and on as the years go by. But I think a change-up would be nice. How about a graphic novel focusing on awkward high school years and the music that helped the comic writers through it all? Or one devoted entirely to the punk rock show experience, in chronological order, from the Dead Kennedys to Blink-182? Rather than sticking with the hodgepodge approach, an overarching theme like this could bind the stories together in a stronger way. But no matter what Poseur Ink decides to publish next, you can bet they're doing it for the love of music.

Side B: The Music Lover's Comic Anthology Images

LinksWebsite | MySpace | Poseur Ink | Buy
Tags: comic review, side b, poseur ink, various artists
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Comic Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #6
05/30/08 at 02:13 AM by Adrian Villagomez


The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #6
"Finale or, Brothers and Sisters, I Am an Atomic Bomb"
Story: Gerard Way | Art: Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Released: February 20, 2008


This is it - curtain call. An unlikely villain has risen from within their ranks, and The Umbrella Academy, as well as the other citizens of the world, are in danger of being destroyed. So how is this issue as a finale? Well, it has to be the bloodiest issue of the series, and as far as climactic battles go, consider this one underwhelming. But, as I've expressed since the first issue, the battles have never been the strongest aspect of Apocalypse Suite. If anything, the extended epilogue should raise more eyebrows. The story is wrapped up neatly enough, though the possibility of future installments is wide open. But of all the revelations made in the aftermath, this series is about one crucial thing - The Umbrella Academy are a team (and a family) again. I'll be keeping an eye out for their adventures in the future.

PS. Writing a fitting end line for any story is difficult. Keeping that in mind, I'm a fan of the offbeat closing sentence Gerard Way thought up here. Kudos to him.

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Tags: comic review, gerard way, the umbrella academy
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Comic Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #5
05/30/08 at 01:55 AM by Adrian Villagomez


The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #5
"Thank You for the Coffee"
Story: Gerard Way | Art: Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Released: January 21, 2008


The Umbrella Academy have their work cut out for them. Team members are cut and bleeding, Vanya has emerged from villainous surgery as The White Violin, and the apocalypse is fast approaching. So begins "Thank You for the Coffee," the second to last issue of this limited edition series. I must admit my interest has waned with these latter issues, but the character commentary on the introductory page is as welcome as ever. In this introduction we're given Dr. Pogo's outlook on the children and the development problems he sees. As the action of the issue unfolds, most of the main characters are split into pairs: 00.02 with Pogo, Kraken with the gruff Inspector Lupo, and Spaceyboy with Rumor.

The forthcoming apocalypse is always on the minds of the characters (especially 00.02), but as I mentioned, my hopes for the inevitable final battle aren't as high as they once were. But, I am still attached to the heroes and enjoy finding out more about them. While Kraken solidifies himself as the rogue of the team, the once absentee-leader Spaceboy is drawing himself closer to his teammates, who give him reason to regret his abode on the moon. And once again we're given glimpses of story elements that may come into play in future installments (see: chimpanzee experiements), but for now that's all they are: detached glimpses. Apocalypse Suite is building up to the end of the world, even if the threat isn't as enticing before.

View past reviews of this comic series.
Tags: comic review, gerard way, the umbrella academy
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Comic Review: Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel
01/22/08 at 07:11 PM by Adrian Villagomez


Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel
Story: Various | Art: Various
Publisher: Poseur Ink
Release Date: April 2007


Everyone remembers their first time. The specific scenarios differ of course, but the feeling of discovering life changing music is universal. Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel chronicles the experiences of over thirty music lovers as they come to musical consciousness and ponder past events set to specific soundtracks. These short stories are presented panel to panel in comic book form and range in style from goofy and cartoonish to vividly realistic. Though each comic is an original creation, and some are far removed from the others, love of music is the binding form.

Black and white panels lead readers into the nostalgia of writers who all have (or had) a passion for music. Some comics fit the limited selection of colors while others would have benefited by a color palette, namely the more animated sketches. None of the comics are drawn out to unnecessary lengths, so the collection can be picked up at any time for a quick read. To get a better idea of what's to be found in Side A, here's an anecdotal example. In Mike Stevens' piece, he recalls his youth as a backward pants wearing fan of the duo Kris Kross. One day in 1999 while walking past his brother's room he overhears "gritty" and "harsh" music that would change his life forever. Entranced, Stevens is revealed in one of the next panels proudly holding up a Sonic Youth cassette while smiling broadly. His reflections mirror those of many writers found in Side A:

"For the first time, [my music] was something I liked instead of something people said I'd like. And I ate it up. Anything I could find. It all evolved me. It was like going through puberty before puberty. I wasn't yet becoming a man. I was becoming myself."

And of course, making fun of oneself is mandatory when looking back:

"Gone was my backward hat & pants. Now I just had my shaggy hair, that dirty flannel and combat boots that were too big. It was nice, and well worth being mistaken for a girl."

Poseur Ink also offers a two song 7" featuring Get Back Loretta and Fight Fair titled Winter Bloo for purchase with the graphic novel for those interested. "95" by Get Back Loretta has a steady beat to it and could be confused for an easy going dance track if not for the soul in vocalist Steven Bradford's voice. Fight Fair's "Take One for the Team" is a mix pop punk and hard rock, a track I don't find particular interest in, since the genre itself isn't a favorite of mine.

Personally, the only real downfall of this graphic novel is my lack of familiarity with the authors. If I knew more about the people behind the stories, if I were familiar with their other works, my interest would have been higher. But it isn't a requirement to know the authors at all; it would just be a nice perk. Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel is often amusing, sometimes surreal, and easily relatable for anyone who still cherishes their first vinyl record. This is coffee table reading for the musically nostalgic.

Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel Images

LinksWebsite | MySpace | Poseur Ink | Buy
Tags: comic review, side a, poseur ink, various artists
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Comic Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #4
12/19/07 at 05:17 PM by Adrian Villagomez


The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #4
"Baby, I'll Be Your Frankenstein"
Story: Gerard Way | Art: Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Released: December 19, 2007


The last issue of The Umbrella Academy established The Kraken as the anti-hero to look up to, but most of the storyline was tied up with a battle that was only serving to distract the team from the real threat. Before delving into the content of issue four, I must comment on the wonderful cover art. A pale, white violinist playing a melody amidst a macabre setting is already one compelling reason to pick up this issue. I heard about the cover before I saw it, which means that others have also taken notice of the visual appeal of this issue.

Vanya Hargreeves (00.07), the child born without any special powers, is the focus of this issue, but then again, she's always been given special attention in past issues of this series. She's felt dejected her whole life due to her status as the only normal child in the family, and after The Kraken's refusal to acknowledge her as his sister, she fled to the arms of the evil orchestra. This changes things. Not only does this make the orchestra's position as a relevant villainous faction more authentic, it builds toward a final conflict that was not expected from the start. Another hopeful turn of events is 00.02's recognition by a mysterious group (yes, another mysterious group) which may reveal information on the immediate armageddon he swears is coming.

The other members of the Academy are mostly placed on reserve; their battle was in the last issue. Issue four is less about action and more about moving the plot forward, something that had to be done to maintain reader attention. So how's this all going to end? I must admit I'm not as excited for the conclusion of this series as I once was, but this team certainly still has my attention. I'm actually more interested in seeing what Way does with his team once this series comes to a close. Here's to hoping no other hero will meet the same fate as The Horror, rest his mutated soul.

View past reviews of this comic series.
Tags: comic review, gerard way, the umbrella academy
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Comic Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #3
11/21/07 at 02:55 PM by Adrian Villagomez


The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #3
"Dr. Terminaut's Answer"
Story: Gerard Way | Art: Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Released: November 21, 2007


At the close of issue two, The Umbrella Academy were headed to a rumble with artificially intelligent robots posing as carnival rides. At the start of issue three, we given a glimpse of the past as we're introduced to Terminal, creator of the flying machines. Flashing back to the present is a miniature mushroom cloud created by the machines. Spaceboy, Séance, and Rumor struggle to stay alive as they are outnumbered and outgunned while The Kraken goes rogue in the sewers. Holding his bleeding left arm, the lone wolf must make a choice: remain hidden and safe, or leap from the shadows to save some children who have drawn the dangerous gaze of the robots.

Move over Spaceboy, because at this point Kraken is the most compelling member of the Academy. Call it the Clint Eastwood-effect; people dig anti-heroes. Kraken has attitude problems and doesn't respect authority, but no matter how sharp his tongue will be afterwords, he will save the day. His action and dialogue are the best reason to read this issue. He is the Wolverine to Spaceboy's Cyclops. 00.02's situation as sixty-year-old living as an eternal youth is interesting, but he doesn't do much besides make a claim similar to, "We have to do something!" The gallery of villains still hasn't impressed much, but The Kraken is reason enough to look forward to the next issue.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #3 Images

View past reviews of this comic series.
Tags: comic review, gerard way, the umbrella academy
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Comic Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #2
10/17/07 at 10:18 AM by Adrian Villagomez


The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #2
"We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals"
Story: Gerard Way | Art: Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Released: October 17, 2007


It’s been years since The Umbrella Academy have been a team, but the death of their father figure The Monocle has brought forth a reunion. The time from youth to adulthood has not done much to mend fences between conflicting personalities. We are introduced to the characters on the synopsis page in a similar manner to issue one, but rather than reading from The Monocle’s notes, the page presents excerpts from Extra Ordinary: My Life as Number Seven, by Vanya Hargreeves (00.07). This is one of the best practices going for the series. Subjective character profiles are a fantastic method of viewing the heroes from different points of view.

Another delight is the character interaction during the time of mourning. Séance’s (00.04) introduction is a memorable one. He floats down into a panel with luggage in levitative tow and, at his father’s funeral, proclaims, “You know what I love about funerals? Everything I own is black.” As children, the Academy members were almost indistinguishable bobble heads. Now they are grown with distinct personalities, and this leads to much more interesting dialogue. Also of note is the tension between former team leader Spaceboy (00.01) and Kraken (00.02). Perhaps motivated by his second place status, Kraken is insolent in his rank. As the book comes to a close, the two find themselves in a scuffle straight out of Astonishing X-Men #1 – think Cyclops vs. Wolverine.

Gerard Way loves to keep doors to prospective storylines wide open by continually raising questions. Rumor (00.03) is no more, a regrettable and mysterious loss. And although this probably won’t lead to its own side story, 00.05, who disappeared from the team before given a non-numerical alias, adds another “huh?” to the theory of time travel. He lives for years in the future until he’s bald and frail with a flowing white beard, but when he travels back in time he’s an adolescent again. Huh?

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite is continually impressive in terms of plot, but the action of this issue is even more of a letdown compared to the first. Mechanical villains disguised as carnival rides are simply a method of solidifying the heroes as a team again. There’s also a (somewhat) sinister group shown whose goal is to compose a literal symphony of destruction. Thus far the opposition has not looked half as promising as the super team. Even so, if you were caught by the first issue, there’s plenty of reason to stick around for more – got to love that gorilla suit.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #2 Images

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Tags: comic review, gerard way, the umbrella academy
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Comic Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #1
09/19/07 at 07:20 AM by Adrian Villagomez


The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #1
"The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Berserk"
Story: Gerard Way | Art: Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Released: September 19, 2007


Don’t think about this as “the guy from My Chemical Romance’s” comic book or just another opportunity for a musician to dub themselves an entrepreneur. That would be taking away credit from this book. And after reading through issue one of The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, it’s clear that Gerard Way’s passion for comics is the real deal.

If Tim Burton were inspired to write a story after watching Pixar’s The Incredibles, it might come close to Way’s vision of young superhero team The Umbrella Academy. Lacking any alphabetic names, the members are organized by number (00.01, 00.02, and so on to 00.07) by their adopted father The Monocle. They gain notoriety after making their debut by defeating a crazed Eifel Tower using their supernatural powers, which range from super strength to having repulsive tentacles growing out of the stomach cavity. Before the reader is given a firm hold over half the heroes, the story flashes forward twenty years; it’s a somewhat jarring transition. The Umbrella Academy has disbanded in the years passed, and 00.01, who is the focus of the issue, is standing guard over the moon.

While intriguing, the biggest downfall of the story is Way’s effort to cram as much as he could into the first issue. For every exciting new discovery, there’s a question raised. So really, the strength of this one can only be determined by the next five. If plot points are revealed in a satisfactory manner, then this is certainly a series not to be missed. And there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful for the future.

Gabriel Bá compliments Way’s story extremely well, walking a fine line between cartoonish innocence and gruesome reality. A minor character seen on the first few pages, “Tusslin’ Tom” Gurney, is a wrestler with massive arms and the legs of a five-year-old. One panel below Gurney is an infant coated in blood, a soon to be member of the Academy. Bá’s best surprise is found in the last panels of the story though, as the reader is shown the future shape of 00.01.

Issue one of The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite definitely deserves a look, not only from rabid My Chemical Romance fans, but loyal comic readers in general. Way has a vision for this book, and though the first issue is one question mark after another, the potential for greatness is there. Fans of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Watchmen should think about picking this up at the local book store. If anything, I’m hooked. Any story that sticks the protagonist in a giant mechanical ape suit is fine by me.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #1 Images

Special thanks to Krystin Overstreet at Dark Horse Comics for setting this up.
Tags: comic review, gerard way, the umbrella academy
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