Monday, June 28, 2010

As I had a few hours to kill in Red Bank, New Jersey this Sunday I decided to visit Jay And Silent Bob's Secret Stash (at 35 Broad Street). Of course, this is the comic store owned in part by Kevin Smith. I thought this might make for an interesting blog too. Before I go in, here's the exterior...

It's located on the main street for all the shopping and dining in Red Bank. Upon entering, the register area is located to your right and the current projects of Smith are featured heavily in a display ahead of you (Green Hornet, movie merchandise). Along the left hand side are the recent and new comics arranged alphabetically on the wall.

Here's a view looking back toward the entrance....

Further back the long and narrow storefront is a back issue section. The comics are displayed in a nice custom built file/shelf. The issue are mostly from 80's to early 2000's and are about $1.25-$1.50 generally. More expensive issues line the walls but tend to be signed or variant covers of recent issues. They use the reverse numbering filing system too, although alphabetical, the issues are put in order of most recent to least (#108 before #3).

At the rear of the store there are several display cases for both statues and busts and movie memorabilia from all Kevin Smith movies...

There are a lot of trades and hardcovers. They are arranged by company and by character. And although they didn't have the specific trades I wanted (Korvac Saga and Invincible Vol. 2), they had so many other ones that it was hard to limit myself to the budget I set for this visit.
This view looks to the rear of the store and shows the start of the trade section which continues along part of the back wall. In addition ,there is about six old fashioned spinner racks full of trades. There is a table set up back there which I assume is for signings and podcasts (mics were pushed off to the side and half hidden).

So that is a quick overview of Jay And Silent Bob's Secret Stash comic book store in Red Bank, New Jersey. Check it out in person if you get the chance, especially if you are a Kevin Smith fan.
I thought I might do some more visits/reviews of comic stores, but that would be over fairly soon as there are only three other stores close to me. Also, I really don't have the time or ability (due to responsibilities) to go further afield so to speak. Which is disappointing, because I have a lot to say about what makes a comic store a GOOD comic store and a BAD comic store. i even came up with a criteria.
Merchandising- how organized, laid out is the product. A key part of ANY retail store.
New issues- display and promotion of current (within year sometimes) titles
Back issues- display, selection and organization of comics older than a year.
Other stuff- man does not live on bread and water alone, nor comic book stores just comics. But, I've seen stores where other product (toys, rpg miniatures)dominates to the point of comics being an afterthought.
So, how is J&SB's in my opinion...
Merchandising- B+, some clutter but maximum use of space
New Issues- A-, clearly organized and visible "new" and "recommended" signs
Back Issues- B, nice display and selection but I prefer going by in numerical order (#1,2,3)
Other stuff- A-, kept to a minimum and then only to comic related stuff (toys, statues) with the exception of the Smith movie merchandise (T-Shirts, hats, etc)
Guess that makes a B+

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Random Thoughts 15

Wow! Haven't done one of these for a while!

-In complete opposite to the way Marvel announced same day as comic day digital comics, DC almost stealthily announced that Justice League: Generation Lost would be available online starting with #4 on the day it would be available in stores. Furthermore, #4 and #5 would be returnable by retailers. Is it me, or does that seem classier? On the other hand, what about #6-8 which probably have already been ordered?

-I wrote previously about Gene Colan and his health issues. But, the story has turned even more bizarre and tragic. His wife, recently separated and having plead guilty to assaulting Gene, was found dead in the house they used to share. While relationships are sometimes tumultuous and I really don't know anything about theirs other than the two times I met them at conventions, I'm sure he will miss her. I hope his life improves some, it seems to have been really bleak the last few years.

-The Hobbit lost Guillermo Del Toro as director and had Niell Blomkamp (District 9) rumored to replace him, but now it looks like Peter Jackson himself is going to step in.

-Toy Story 3 ruled the box office as it should have. Although very similar in themes to the last one, Pixar/Disney still delivers an emotional and entertaining film.

-Also in Disney news...Something I found both cool and yet a bit weird. You can now live in Walt Disney World. Yes, if you have the money, you can buy one of thirty homes offered for sale this year (not built yet). There are three, four and five bedroom houses in various styles. As part of a gated community, residents will have access to the facilities of a nearby hotel/spa also being built as well as all the perks that guests staying at WDW owned resorts get. So, if you have $1.5-8 million you can move there.

- Visited Jay And Silent Bob's Secret Stash the comic store partly owned by Kevin Smith today. I took some pictures for a friend who is a fan, so you might see a blog evolve out of it later. I picked up some trades- The Stern/Byrne Captain America War And Remembrance, Buffy Season Eight Vol. 2 and the Starlin/Mignola DC mini Cosmic Odyssey.

Friday, June 25, 2010

This Week's Comic Stack 6/23/10

The Good:

  • Justice League: Generation Lost #4- Aside from the surprise that this issue would be available digitally on the same day as in the shops (as well as the issue being returnable by retailers) this was a good mix of action and humor. Winick is doing well on this book, guided no doubt by old hand Giffen. The "JLI" battled some Rocket Reds, made friends (unintentionally) with a rogue Red, and Booster figured out that Max was getting the band back together for a reason. Which Max (via radio) confirmed. This is not a groundbreaking series nor "important"...just FUN.

  • Green Lantern Corps #49- The Alpha Lanterns are revolting! And they're rising up against the Guardians too! [sorry, couldn't resist that old joke] The Alphas have been abducting Lanterns and turning them into Alphas. But this issue showed that what was just thought to be an aggressive recruitment drive [think press gangs] turned out to be a bit more sinister. The Alphas set their sights on John Stewart, lured him into a trap and wouldn't take no for an answer. Meanwhile, Kyle and Ganthet noticed that there is now more Alphas around on Oa and decide to investigate. They tracked down John Stewart who was confronted by the mastermind of the Alphas before he started to make him into the newest Alpha. I won't spoil who the bad guy was...just say that it's pretty obvious who it was due to his silhouette and some dialogue. That did ruin the DAH-dah-DUUUHN moment at the end, but I still had a pretty good reaction to it and can't wait to see what happens next issue.

  • X-Men: Legacy #237- Greg Land's art here was the best it's been since he was on X-Men and maybe since Sojourn [Ahhh, CrossGen....] There are some great battle scenes, shorter than the last chapter. Cypher and X-Force stopped the threat from the future sentinels. But they still have to find a way back. And the X-Men still have to deal with their enemies in the present. This really continued that epic feel that the crossover has had. This is the point of the epic that the readers know the heroes would win, but it's a question of who will be left standing and how will those that aren't fall. I'm surprised at how good this crossover has been. Aside from one or two issues, it's been very solid storytelling.

  • Legion Of Super-Heroes #2- Not as good as last issue, but still good. Some Legionnaires returned and Saturn Woman attacked during the Legions rescue efforts after the destruction of Titan. There was more Earth-Man/Green Lantern intrigue as that storyline slowly simmered. A good solid issue.

The Alright:

  • Detective Comics #866- Written by Batman expert Denny O'Neil, this had a nice flashback story as Dick remembers an old case he had as Robin that he reexamines. The case involved the Joker and the Order Of St. Dumas crossing paths and a criminal convicted and sentenced for a crime he didn't commit based on evidence planted on him by the Joker. Now recently paroled and with a terminal illness time is running out for him. As Batman Dick found proof of the guy's innocence and raced to get the evidence of the criminal's innocence to the authorities then tell him he's exonerated. But, the Joker got to the criminal first. The joke being that he died without being cleared of that crime, I guess. While not up with some of O'Neil's work, it was pretty good.

  • Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne #3- The cover was misleading as Bruce was never a pirate. He did get mixed up with the grandson of the Black Pirate [who I got to like because of Starman] and Blackbeard. The art was a big improvement over last issue's. This was a fairly grounded Morrison in terms of story too. If the next few issues are like this the series will end up a nice little mini, but a story that ends up as extraneous in the scheme of things.

  • Zatanna #2- Zee routed a pesky nightmare demon easily in this almost Dr. Strange-like story. Plus it had some nice art.

  • Supergirl #53- As a result of War Of The Supermen Kara wants to renounce her Kryptonian heritage as well as Supergirl. While Lana Lang tried to talk her out of it, Dr. Light (the good one) and Gangbuster observed the painful process of removing the powers of Superwoman (Lucy Lane). Then a meteorite landed carrying a Bizarro Supergirl. It looks like both Kara and the creative team are at a crossroads as to where to go. With Superman off limits thanks to JMS this title might fall by the wayside. I don't know if Bizarro Supergirl will make me come back.

  • Thunderbolts #145- So Zemo turned out to be a test (and the Fixer in disguise) for the new recruits. Aside from some mischaracterization there was enough there to warrant another issue before taking this off the buy list.

  • Fantastic Four #580- While I liked the art, the Arcade trying to kill the Human Torch story wasn't that good. I did like the little bit with Franklin and how Johnny related to him. The B story was about Reed's students coming up with their first science project...cure Ben Grimm. And they found one... for one week each year...Not impressive as he used to be able to control his transformation to the Thing at one point.

  • Superman #700- In this anniversary issue there were three stories. The first featured Superman's return to Earth after New Krypton's destruction. After a brief fight with Parasite Lois and Clark catch up. The art is not that good. The second story was the best. Dan Jurgens both drew and wrote this flashback featuring Superman and Robin. The third and final story was a prologue to the JMS run. Superman is going to literally walk the country because someone slapped him in the face because he didn't offer his services as an X-ray machine. God, brilliant stuff [Letterman made fun of this story!] I don't like where JMS is headed so this will likely be the last Superman I get for a while.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This Week's Comic Stack 6/16/10

The Good:

  • Brightest Day #4- The Hawks stepped through the Door O' Bones onto... Pandora from Avatar?[floating rocks], Deadman met up with Dove and Hawk, some Atlantean types attacked, Robbie Raymond was attacked by a "Ghenna" made of salt while Jason Rauch slept and a Firestorm atomic power symbol emanating from his head, and the new Aqualad appeared, although powerless.

  • DC Universe: Legacies #2- Len Wein continued to examine the history of the DCU. This time it was the late 40's and early 50's. As the JSA made it through the war and ended up forced into retirement by the HUAC. In the secondary feature Wein looked at the Seven Soldiers of Victory. JH Williams III did something real unique with the art. He drew each member of the Soldiers slightly different, as if they were done by different artists. This played into the old formula in SA/GA teams and team-ups of the group splitting up for mini adventures then reuniting for a climax. Although here each was only for a half page.

  • The Lone Ranger #22- This was an incredible issue. I admit, mainly because of the hint at the future of a certain character named after a verdant insect. The plot picked up after last issues bleak looking ending and provided a satisfactory resolution of that cliffhanger, yet still had a continuation of the bigger story.

  • Birds Of Prey #2- The Birds were set up by the White Canary and a mystery person. Dinah was framed for murder and her ID made public (Max Lord again?) than lured to fight White Canary while the police arrived. The BoP joined by Hawk and Dove are forced to fight the cops to avoid arrest. Oracle prepares to enter cyberspace to find out how Dinah was framed and how. It's interesting that in Brightest Day DC will have TWO "outlaw" superteams.

  • R.E.B.E.L.S. #17- I missed the last issue so I was catching up while reading this one. Blackfire (Starfire's evil sister) regained her lost powers and her Tameranian forces attacked Rann. So in this issue the conflict raged on Rann while the sisters fought each other. The new rookie Vegan sector GLs showed up to end the battle, but make matters worse almost creating a temporary alliance against them. Luckily, a Thanagarian fleet showed up carrying Vril Dox who was negotiating a formal end to the Rann/Thanagar conflict. Rann, Thanagar and the displaced Tamaranians all came to an agreement. The Tamaranians will colonize the southern contident of Rann. The rookie Lanterns happily reported the cessation of hostilities to Salaak, who chided them for allowing Dox to undermine the Corps authority and mission.

  • New Mutants #14- The eleventh part of Second Coming, this issue really nailed the desperation of the X-Men and their Utopia. Cyclops gave a Jack Shepard "Live together, die alone" speech to all the mutants on the island. Hope and Rogue prepared to do... something bad ass. The frequency between waves of Nimrods increased, Colossus was overwhelmed and had his arm broken. Xavier aided his son Legion in wrangling all his personalities and their powers to come to the rescue. Meanwhile in the future X-Force's mission was proceeding well until another Master Mold Sentinel activated. The book ended with a weakened Magneto summoning up his strength to go into battle.

The Alright:

  • Age Of Heroes #2- This second issue featured: Gravity battling Warhead (the Radioactive Man's "child") an okay intro to Young Allies; A new(?) American Son battling a generic monster with a Spidey cameo; A pointless Young Masters two page story; and the best story...a one page Gauntlet piece that had him answering another serviceman's question as to why he chose to come to Afghanistan if Steve Rogers offered him a spot on the Avengers.

  • Atlas #2- This issue was a "getting to know each other" issue as 3-D Man and Atlas shared their histories thanks to The Uranian's telepathy uncovering some mysterious discrepancies. They did go to Iceland (to stop that pesky volcano) for some action. 3-D Man had a cryptic remark to The Uranian as his vision revealed something that he has been hiding from the others (exactly what, wasn't shown). The backup flashback story was a midly interesting "zombie" story.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This Week's Comic Stack 6/9/10

The Good:

  • Booster Gold #33- A great issue. I loved Booster's rant on the JLI's relevence and the trip back in time with the old J'onn, Canary and Max. The perfect companion piece to JL: GL.

  • Justice League: Generation Lost #3- More of Max Lord's machinazations against the JLI. This time focused on Fire being kicked out of Checkmate and bringing in the new Blue Beetle. I really don't see how they're gonna get out of this.

  • Secret Six #22- This story arc wasn't my favorite. It was written well, but I didn't like where it was taking my favorite character of the team, Catman. His kidnapped son had been given up for adoption, rather than subject his son to the life of his parents he let him go. However, he told Chesire that he died...pretty harsh considering that Lian just died. He did so many evil things to find his son that there maybe no way back for the person who was the conscience of the Six. And what does that mean for the others.

  • The Heroic Age: Prince Of Power #2- Thor and Cho had a Mighty Marvel Misunderstanding Melee. While Vali Halfling took over Olympus. He destroyed the Eternal Flame and all but a single vial of ambrosia, aging the immortal gods. Once Thor and Cho worked things out they went in search of the Egyptian Book Of The Dead the next item that Vali needs in his bid to become THE GOD. A clever and funny book.

  • Uncanny X-Men #525- Things got more desparate this issue. As the Avengers and FF try to get through the sphere encapsulating San Francisco, the X-Men face a never ending wave of Nimrod Sentinels. The X-Force team is sent into the future to stop the reinforcements from coming through.

  • Invincible Iron Man #27- Another "talky" issue. But, there was some good scenes and dialogue with Rhodey and Tony as they prepare for the action [I hope] of next issue. Oh and Stark's former secretary Mrs. Arbogast joins Stark Resilient.

  • Captain America #606- Again an issue I don't have an actual problem with, but don't like what they are doing with a character. Zemo returned this issue [he also reappeared in Thunderbolts] and to a more villainous demeanor. I don't hate this, but find it sells the character and his progress as a "person" short. Now, I may be surprised later on...and I can see a reason why Zemo would act like this (his father's greatest achievement, a failure), but I felt he was a different man. It's also gonna be interesting to see how this gels with the Thunderbolts. I loved the continuity nods in this issue, especially the dream sequence that references Steranko's classic issues.

The Alright:

  • Avengers Academy #1- I liked the twist this successor to Initiative had. The McKone art was good, but something was missing. I wasn't as wowed as I was with his Teen Titans. So I'm still not sold on this title.

  • Batman #700- This read better the second time around. Grant Morrison used an obscure villain and plot device to tell a story about Batman (or the men who are Batman) through the ages. From Bruce to Terry all the way up to the Year 1,000,000 Batman. I liked that aspect, but it was not enough to get me to enjoy the issue.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Random Thoughts 14

Suffering from extreme depression over the loss of Lost last week (say that five times fast) I put off a RT, but it's back...

-It's a long way off, but Flash is next to the big screen after the third Nolan Batman and the Superman reboot.

-Hugo Weaving joins Captain America cast as the Red Skull, and Tommy Lee Jones has a part in the movie as well, what role hasn't been revealed yet.

-James McAvoy will portray a young Charles Xavier in the hurried production of X-Men : First Class

-Marvel will release a digital and hard copy of Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 on the same day setting of a flurry of speculation and debate

-Both DC and Marvel were tight-lipped at HeroCon this year.

-DC is getting back all the characters Vertigo "highjacked" including Swamp Thing! Big news, as these characters still existed in the DCU but were verboten when the mature reader imprint got a hold of them (to prevent confusion between an all ages book and an adult)

-While still awaiting the official Mattel confirmation the Four Horsemen announced a Green Lantern Classics offshoot to the DCU Classics line.

-Mattel did annouce a huge production of Green Lantern movie product including basic and deluxe action figures (including wearable rings with each figure) as well as a continuation of the Movie Masters line. It looks like they are following the Dark Knight example.

-Green Lantern will get an animated series in 2012. It will air on Cartoon Network

-Also airing on Cartoon Network in the future...a new Thundercats cartoon. It will have a blend of western and anime influences in the design and animation

-Another 80's toy/TV cartoon property will return on Nicktoons...Voltron! The cool lion version not the vehicle one.

-Mattel will be producing new toys based on the Voltron show.

-Oh, and Thundercats will also support a new toy line from Bandai. Unfortunately, it's the much weaker in quality Bandai America that will run the line.

Guess it's true....everything old is new again.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

This Week's Comic Stack 6/3/10

A fairly light week....

The Good:
  • Brightest Day #3- I'd pick any other color Lantern than white [okay, maybe not orange or black] damn thing is worse than a Magic 8 Ball. Not only does it give you cryptic answers when asked questions, it throws you into situations you're unprepared for. [Sounds like the entity behind the White Lantern Ring is Jacob from Lost] Deadman found that out the hard way as he wound up fighting the Anti-Monitor. Aquaman tried to get a handle on his summon the DEAD sea life powers, Ronnie and Jason were told they could never become Firestorm again (unless they wanted to be a nuclear bomb) and the Hawks found Hath-Set building a gateway to somewhere with their bones, all of their previous bodies bones. Oh, and Martian Manhunter trailed the murder of the family from last issue by talking to a dog. Strange, but compelling.
  • The Thanos Imperative #1- The Kree/Inhuman and Sh'iar fleets were overwhelmed by the invading Cancerverse, while the Guardians of the Galaxy dealt with a revived Thanos and the evil Revengers attacked the Nova Corps taking Namorita captive. Talk about epic! Next issue looks like it's twice as epic from the the Silver Surfer, Galactus and the Celestials show up! This book is four or five different titles that have been crammed into one!
  • Superman/Batman Annual #4- Paul Levitz writes this "preview" of sorts to the new Batman Beyond series. This issue dealt with the absence of Superman after the events of the JLU episode of the TV series. Levitz got the voice of each character down...and had a real good story. However, it was a little offputting seeing the animated characters drawn realistically, or at least in a style more like the regular DCU. Not bad, just strange. Which also made me think about whether DC wants to have it's cake and eat it too. Clearly Clark and Lois never married in this timeline/universe, yet references to stories that happened in the DCU proper were shown and as mentioned before it refers to the TV series as well. I am excited about the new comic series, but can't figure out if it's a continuation of the TV show, one of the 52 Earths or the official future. BTW I'd be fine with either one of those.
  • Adventure Comics #12- Paul Levitz again...This was a nice retelling or should I say "between the pages" story of Clark as Superboy touring the future Metropolis. I liked how there was a great blend of Silver Age and modern storytelling. It felt like a Silver Age story (Superboy plays baseball, it's him vs. Legion) yet with modern storytelling and dialogue. Apparently many of these Superboy and LSH "rediscovered" adventures are going to influence or be built upon in the Legion title

The Alright:

  • Torch #8- The series kinda ended the way I knew it had to, so it was kind of anti-climatic. I was more excited by the coming soon teaser page at the end. IN SEPTEMBER... THE INVADERS..with Captain America(Bucky), Captain America (Steve), Namor, Torch, Toro, Spitfire, Union Jack and Vision(Golden Age?) I guess it's from the same creative team...but, oh....I would love a Brubaker writing this title.
  • Red Hood: Lost Days #1- This is the history of the not dead Jason Todd before he showed up as the new Red Hood. Winick is hit or miss with me, usually. However this issue had enough in it to keep me until next issue, but didn't blow me away. Interesting the use of Talia and Ra's here given what is going on with Damian and Batman now.
  • The Stand: Hardcases #1- This issue focuses on the pyromaniac Trashman's journey to meet the Dark Man in Las Vegas. The creative team continues their level of work in adapting King's epic novel. Unlike a novel, once finished with an issue there is a months wait for the next issue. Which really gets in the way of the story. Comics (hero) are structured for serialization, not novels. So, while one issue of a comic will take a reader far along in the story an adaptation of a novel goes a lot less further. And that's the problem I'm discovering that is popping up with the Stand series.