Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bullets: Criminal, Incognito, and Sleeper.

It's been a busy month, so here are the highlights.
  • Criminal: "Bad Night" trade and Year-End Reviews. The trade paperback for the four-part arc "Bad Night" is scheduled to be on sale tomorrow, January 28th. It's a stunning story, and it caps off a very successful year for Criminal. The year saw the start of the second volume, with its longer page-count, and the seven issues released in 2008 were all incredible: we began with the trio of interlocking single-issue stories, now collected as "The Dead and The Dying," and this was followed by the dark humor and twisted character study of "Bad Night."

    The series has been noticed in year-end reviews. The blog Warren Peace put it in its top ten, and at RevolutionSF, the title was named the best Marvel comic for 2008. A little more prominently, Comic Book Resources called the series the second best of the year, behind All-Star Superman, and Newsarama's Jeff Marsick named the title the year's best, writing that Criminal is "consistently worth every cent thrown across the counter." (Thanks for the tip, Jeff.)

  • Incognito: reviews, second printing, and upcoming issues. The first issue of Incognito was released this month, and while critics were praising the last year for Criminal, the reviews I initially saw for the debut issue of this super-powered mini-series tended to be luke-warm. Both at CBR and at The Savage Critic(s), critics didn't say the issue was bad, just disappointing. Personally, I suspect that the mini-series is a bit of a slow-burner, in part because it has to provide the context of the pulp-derived superhero universe in which the stories take place -- something that Ed Brubaker hasn't had to do for work within the established universes of Marvel and DC, or for the stories set in the naturalistic universe of Criminal. Brubaker added a couple comments to the Savage Critic blog entry, reassuring readers that the first issue is "just the tip of the iceberg."

    There have been more positive reviews, at AICN and at Geoff Boucher's blog at the LA Times, which also features a trailer for Angel of Death, an online live-action mini-series which Brubaker has written for Sony's site, Crackle. More impressive than the critical response has been the reader response. For the first time for any of Brubaker and Phillips' work at Icon, an issue has sold out and is going back for a second printing. Newsarama conducted a brief interview with Ed Brubaker, who provided some details about the sell-out. The final orders for the issue were about 25 percent above the very stable sales for Criminal, and Brubaker had overprinted an additional 20 percent. Despite all this, the issue sold out of many stores within hours of its release, and it sold out entirely within five days. This new printing will feature new cover art, and at his blog, Sean Phillips has featured a fairly high-quality image of the striking artwork, which we're reprinting here. The second printing of Incognito #1 appears to be currently scheduled to be released on February 11th, alongside the second issue.

    Preview art and works-in-progress continue to be showcased at Sean Phillips' blog, which is always worth a quick visit. Recent highlights for Incognito include several views of the interior art for an upcoming issue or two -- pencils, partial inks, and final inks -- and similar progressions for the art for the upcoming essay on Doc Savage and the cover art for fifth and final issue.

  • Sleeper: Brubaker interview. Finally, Scifi Wire reports on an interview the press conducted with Ed Brubaker during his promotion work for Angel of Death. The film adaptation of Brubaker and Phillips' WildStorm collaboration is still being fast-tracked for production, but Brubaker reveals that he's not interested in having a significant role in development. Sleeper fans will be happy to know that Brubaker confirms a new "special edition" release of the series for this summer. We first reported on new editions of the series last September, including word from Brubaker that the books will feature a rare prequel story from a WildStorm sampler. (h/t CBR)
In brief, the "Bad Night" trade should be in stores tomorrow; early February should see the release of the second printing for Incognito #1 and the first printing of issue #2; and a new special-edition printing of Sleeper appears to be scheduled for the summer.


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Friday, January 02, 2009

Brubaker Speaks on the Release of Incognito.

The first issue of Incognito, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, is in stores this week. For many comic book retailers, the New Year's holiday has postponed the delivery and sale of this week's new comics until today, but my store was lucky enough to have their merchandise shelved this past Wednesday, the last day of the year. I read the issue just a few hours before New Year's, and that's good enough in my book, for the issue to meet the cover's stated publication date of December, 2008.

Having finally seen the issue, I definitely believe that this mini-series should be considered part of Sean and Ed's larger body of work, particularly their work for Icon that is clearly growing beyond Criminal. Beyond the wraparound covers and the extra content, the best reason to see Criminal and Incognito as parts of a whole is this: the title for the author's page at the back of this issue is a riff on what has become the author's page in Criminal.

"The Secret Ingredient is Pulp."

Today, Newsarama has published a brief interview with Ed Brubaker, about seven things new readers should know about the mini-series, including its genre. The book is "Apocalyptic Pulp Noir," a noir story set in modern times, in a world that remains firmly rooted in Depression-era pulp heroes like The Shadow and Doc Savage.



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