We, the PoP! Stars, are only human. It is all too easy to become entrenched in our ways and grow complacent in our reading habits. But our friends and fans have shone the harsh light of truth upon us and forced us – or at least me – to question the choices I make. Am I reading the best books for me? Am I giving our audience all they deserve?
So was born the 52 Pick-Up Challenge. Each week in 2010, I will pick up one new book – something at least somewhat outside my comfort zone – and give it a fair chance. Each series will only count once, so if I find one I like that I add to my pull list, subsequent issues will not count towards my 52. I will post a review of each and every book I read, remembering to judge the book on its own merits, and not short sell it simply for not being “my thing.” Links to the reviews will be found here, along with truncated review blurbs to give readers a quick and easy guide to the weekly faire. I’m going to try to have reviews up on Tuesday’s, and I’ll be updating this page with the following week’s pick on Fridays.
Now… some books may be superhero or mainstream books, just so long as they are those which I don’t already read. They also don’t have to be current books, nor do they have to be single issues. I’m throwing wide my net, in case any given week provides nothing particularly daring for me to cut my teeth on. Still, I may need your help. Got a recommendation? Send it my way. If anyone suggests anything I absolutely love, you may be setting yourself up for some sort of prize package. Maybe. We’ll see. So sound off below with any suggestions you may have – from current on-goings to long-time favorite TPBs to upcoming minis. The sky’s the limit! And this goes for any publishers out there, too. Have you got a new title that you know will knock my socks off? Put it in my hands or at the very least point me to it, and I’ll gladly give it a read!
Oh, one last thing. I’m going to try to announce my upcoming selections in advance. Here’s where things really get fun… I challenge you to read along with me. Good, bad, or indifferent, I’ll have my reviews up each and every week. Once they’re posted, join me and let me know what you thought. Just don’t ever call it a book club. Do I look like Oprah to you? Alright, let’s get this thing started!
Week 1 – The Music Box #2, IDW Publishing
Jennifer Love Hewitt’s (sort of) comic book about a malevolent music box and the misfortune it brings to those it enthralls marks the first entry in my foray into mostly capeless comics. Miguel would be proud, indeed.
Week 2 – Asterios Polyp, Pantheon Books
A “paper architect” joins my usual selection of paper heroes for an intriguing look at what makes a man tick, and how one’s life can change them. This book is for “mature” audiences, but moreso in regards to comprehension of the complex subject matter. Less so due to the occasional nipple.
Week 3 – Conan: The Weight of the Crown One-Shot, Dark Horse
Conan the Cimmerian finds his way to Gaul and the throne, only to learn that some problems can’t be solved at the edge of your sword.
Week 4 – I Feel Sick, Slave Labor Graphics
Somewhere between Filler Bunn-ies and Homicidal Maniacs, Jhonen Vasquez takes the time to tell the story of a girl. Is she insane? Are aliens or demons or something pulling her strings? Did we really see her date, eviscerated, try to get to second base? Read on to find out.
Week 5 – Political Power: Barack Obama, Bluewater Comics
President Obama finally gets the attention he deserves from the comics industry in this edition of Political Power from Bluewater Comics, written by PoP! forumgoer Chris Ward.
Week 6 – Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter – Guilty Pleasures Vol. 1, Dabel Brothers Publishing
While I was away, I sunk my teeth into this hardcover collection belonging to PoP!’s own Darth Frodo, but was it a mis-stake?
Week 7 – Mice Templar: The Prophecy, Image Comics
In the midst of Toy Fair travels, I nibbled away at this story of a world not so far away, not so different from our own. Except, y’know, for the fact that its inhabitants are mice.
Week 8 – Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension, Red 5 Comics
There’s really nothing you need to know about this book that isn’t in the title, aside from – perhaps, if you didn’t already infer it – the fact that it’s really a rather silly read.
Week 9 – Broken Trinity: Pandora’s Box #1, Top Cow
I’ve always known that Top Cow books were pretty, I just never realized how meaty they could be. This is a fantastic read, but be careful… it WILL suck you in!
Week 10 – Sparta, USA #1, Wildstorm
Week 11 – The Waking #1, Zenescope
We’re back on track this week with Zenescope’s superstar Raven Gregory bringing us an eerie tale of cops and zombies. I wonder… do zombies like to eat their police in the morning with eggs and toast?
Week 12 – Mythoi Birth: Taros, Semantink
A tale of revenge and betrayal quickly takes an intriguing turn in this tale made available for free at Semantink’s website, www.semantink.com.
Week 13 – Chew #1, Image
Detective Chu has the worst power ever. I’d love to make some sort of joke about waiting to read this book in digest form, but I’m worried it would be in bad taste.
Week 14 – God of War #1, Wildstorm
A legend in his own time, Marv Wolfman goes for Olympic greatness with intersecting tales of everyone’s favorite bald and bearded rageaholic. Sorry Chris.
Week 15 – Kill Shakespeare #1, IDW Publishing
The most important thing to know about this book going in is that the title is not an ironic one. This isn’t Naked Lunch. This is literally a book wherein the characters – Shakespearean characters – seek to kill Shakespeare. If that doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what would.
Week 16 – Hellcyon #1, Dark Horse
Futuristic exo-suits and planetwide rebellion are the order of the day. Given my love for Exo-Squad, you’d THINK this would be a no brainer. You’d be sorely mistaken.
Week 17 – Cowboy Ninja Viking #1, Image
An intriguing concept, a polarizing execution – I personally didn’t love it, but I can see where some would.
Week 18 – Sky Doll #1, Marvel
I’d been saving this tale of sexy robots in space for a rainy day, and it was well worth the wait – I think. Breathtaking art is paired with a story that will make your head spin, in a good way.
Week 19 – Bram Stoker’s Death Ship: The Last Voyage of the Demeter #1, IDW
This is why I never go on European cruises. Sure, the open bar and buffet are great, but eventually, you’re going to be ravaged by the undead. Or a lonely widow. Either way… ::shudder::
Week 20 - RASL, Cartoon Books
Hit-or-miss art coupled with a story of interdimensional intrigue? Sure, why not?
Week 21 – My?tery Society #1, IDW Publishing
What if Mr. & Mrs. Smith had a penchant for the occult?
Week 22 - Cowboys & Aliens, Patinum Studios Comics
When I heard this was getting the Hollywood treatment, I had to check it out for myself. Good luck, misters Favreau and Lindelof. Your work is cut out for you.
Week 23 - Days Missing, Archaia Comics
A stitch in time may save nine, but five or so make for a fantastic read!
Week 24 – The Stuff of Legend – Volume I: The Dark, Th3rd World Studios
This book is more than I ever could have hoped for. If you like good comics, look no further.
Everyone should read this book. Now I finally have.
Week 27 – Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor, IDW Publishing
And now for something completely different to lighten the mood. One to beam up!
Week 28 – Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island #1, Avatar Press
Really, the title pretty much says it all…
Week 29 - Muppet Robin Hood, Boom! Kids
This book’s attempt to amuse both long time fans and young readers alike falls about as flat as Gonzo’s trumpet blast from The Muppet Show’s opening
Week 30 – Zombies vs. Cheerleaders, Moonstone
Instead of a straightforward sexy slasher, Moonstone goes the route of parody, and as well all know, good parody is hard to come by. This isn’t it.
Week 31 – Demo vol. 2 #1-3, Vertigo
If you can stop yourself from thinking about where these stories are going, this one might be for you. Beware, though. It doesn’t take Batman to figure out where these tales are headed.
Week 32 – Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant #1-3, Marvel
Flying cars and robosapiens make for a slick setting, but dropping acid doesn’t actually transport you to another dimension, even if you’re an ant.
Week 33 – Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper #1, IDW Publishing
Spoiler Warning: Jack the Ripper looks like he belongs fighting the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, not Scotland Yard
Week 34 – Yaku
Protector of the homeless, cutter-off of killer’s hands – Yaku. What?
Week 35 - I Killed Adolf Hitler, Fantagraphics
This one starts off decidedly NOT kid-safe, but mellows quickly before diving headlong into the bizarre.
Week 36 – Helen Killer, Arcana Comics
Imagine some sort of insane cross between the Hulk, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, and James Bond. Then pit them against an amalgamation of Ra’s Al Ghul, Two Face, and Artemis Loveless. Yes. That’s what I said.
Week 37 – Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy, IDW Publishing
Have you been longing for more Belmont family antics? No? Umm… then… nevermind?
Week 38 – Anna Mercury, Avatar Press
Hot red head? Check. Tight leather? Check. Rainbow powered mind control? Check. Wait, what?
Week 39 – Emitown, Image Comics
Wanna know about the live of Emi Lenox, via adorable daily sketches? As it turns out, I don’t.
Week 40 – Scud – The Disposable Assassin, Fireman Press Ltd.
With just three months to go, I take a look back at one of the ’90s favorite sons
Week 41 and 42 – Tron: The Betrayal #1 (of 2), Marvel Comics and Warlord of Mars #1, Dynamite Entertainment
Two more disparate books I couldn’t find. Okay, maybe I could. Whatever.
Week 43 – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, Dark Horse Comics
This book does wonders for making Boba Fett seem more human. But for a character who always traded on his mysterious nature, is that a good thing?
Week 44 – Superman: Earth One, DC Comics
Somebody saaaaaave me from Smallville: Season 11.
Week 45 – The Unwritten, Vertigo Comics
Who IS Tom Taylor? He himself may not even know as we embark on the journey to find out.
Week 46 – Echoes, Top Cow Publishing
Fialkov and Ekedal are the real deal, and this murder mystery suspense thriller is sure to please.
Week 47 – Tracker, Top Cow Publishing and Heroes & Villains Entertainment
Werewolves and rapidly fluctuating art come together for a mediocre book that never quite hits its stride.
Week 48 – X’ed Out, Pantheon Books
Crack this book open, trip without the acid, and help me figure out what it is we just read.
Week 49 – Twenty-Seven, Image Comics
Supernatural guitarists and self-aware numbers are at the core of this weird and wild ride.
Week 50 – Digital Visions #4, Visionary Comics
One book, three stories. Sometimes, less is more.
Week 51 – The Song of Excalibur, Soleil
What if Merlin reawoke with a mission to save all of magic from a world that was too quickly forgetting it? And what if he was traveling with a virgin!?
Week 52 – Motel Art Improvement Service, Dark Horse Books
The worlds of drugs and art collide – for the first time, I’m sure – in this story of self-discovery and bicycles.