Archive for Picks & Reviews

Book & Brew Review: She Hulk & Southern Rye IPA

This is the ninth in a new series by shop regular, Chris Haas, The Book & Brew Review.

>> Book: She Hulk #4

nw_book & brew SHEHULK2014004-DC11-5e4b2Faithful readers (or reader…), I have grown lazy. It has been quite some time since my last post. Originally, I intended to do one of these every other week but it seems I have slipped up a bit. Here’s to remedying that situation.

Kevin Wada has been supplying the covers for this new series involving the green hulking lady who happens to practice law on the side. And I truly hope it stays that way. The colors are so bright; they explode off the page, especially with using a slightly darker green as the background. The clever way he draws Matt Murdock’s shadow with the horns makes me smile.

Another aspect I enjoy is how sharp he draws the characters. Look at how everything comes to that point, whether it is her jacket or her hair. Matt Murdock’s shoulder is practically a right angle. It can come off as very cartoony but I do love this approach.

Speaking earlier of how She-Hulk is a lawyer on the side, it is quite refreshing that this comic actually focuses more attention on her legal issues rather than the usual fighting and action a superhero tends to get involved in. Kudos to Marvel for another series that is female driven and quite well written.

>> Brew: Susquehanna Brewing Company’s Southern Rye IPA

nw_book & brew aviary_13995992844881Here’s the plan. The next time I visit a beer store, if they sell custom six packs, I will try my best to find every Rye beer they have. It’s become a little obsession at the moment. Up until recently, I had not had the privilege, but now, I will do my best to make up for lost time.

It’s such a new flavor to me. I love that the rye smell is so strong. I would almost think that I had rye bread sitting in front of me, ready to consume. But alas, just beer. I’m just kidding about that “just beer” line. Blasphemy.

As an IPA, I recommend to anyone. It is not overly hoppy. There’s a tropical fruitiness that works well with the rye flavor. As I said earlier, this type of brew is a new favorite and I look forward to having it again. Honorable mention goes to Susquehanna Brewing Company, another new brewery for yours truly. I found it surprising that the beer ABV was 8.6%. Sneaky in its alcohol content, the smell and flavor are well worth the low price I paid at CJ’s Doghouse in Lansdale, PA (random plug).

Before checking out, I would also like to recommend Triumph Brewery and the rye beer they produce.  They’ve developed a much stronger flavor if you happen to be looking for that. Rye beer geeking has commenced.

Book & Brew Review: Daredevil & Sly Fox

This is the eighth in a new series by shop regular, Chris Haas, The Book & Brew Review.

>>> Book:  Daredevil #1.5

Daredevil-1-50-Cover-bf830I am a diehard Daredevil fan. I started collecting these comics roughly around late 2009. Since then, I’ve purchased and read every issue from 1982 on, with a few issues beforehand. Sure, every series has some low points, but Daredevil proved to be an incredible exception.

We celebrate issue 1.50 of the fourth volume of Daredevil. They refer to it with the.50 because the comic celebrates 50 years of publication. And as you can see, the cover truly honors that history. So many images of Matt Murdock. So many different artists over the years. Each artist brought a truly unique perspective to the vigilante (my favorites being Alex Maleev and Frank Miller.)

I love the graffiti style artwork covering the walls of the comic. And the best part is all the names covering said walls. Nothing pays better tribute to the history of such a great character than listing the many people responsible for shaping and creating the great Man Without Fear.

Paolo Rivera should be proud of this cover. His work stands for itself. Daredevil will forever be flying through the air, ready to attack those that would threaten his city.

>>> Brew: Sly Fox’s Nihilist Russian Imperial Stout

nihilist“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
-Leo Tolstoy

Today we once again return to the wonderful world of stouts. I couldn’t pass it up as the name really jumped out at me. I’m a sucker for something catchy and this limited seasonal screamed catchy.

The 22 oz. bottle comes corked, which was a bit difficult to pop if I must be honest. I couldn’t find a definite answer, so I will say that the beer’s alcohol level is either between 9 & 10%. The brewery is a local company out of Phoenixville, PA which is known for its 113 IPA. With Nihilist, they take on a style of beer started in the 18th century as an export from England to the Russian court of Catherine II.

Overall, I wouldn’t call this the best Russian imperial stout I’ve ever had. It was decent but nothing to write home about. There was a slight chocolate flavor which is always welcome with this style of beer. The head was ridiculous. It took a bit just for the foam to finally settle. Once it did, the taste was smooth but it almost made me question whether or not I thought of it as a stout. It reminded me of a black IPA.

This may not be a rave review, but I’m always happy to try a new brew. Consider this one checked off my vast list.

Book & Brew Review: Sandman & Russian River

This is the seventh in a new series by shop regular, Chris Haas, The Book & Brew Review.

>>> Book: Sandman: Overture #2

nw_beer book sandmanWho here is not familiar with the Sandman series?  Anyone?  If so, please leave the computer or smartphone or what have you.  Go to your local comic shop, preferably New Wave Comics.  And then acquaint yourself with the greatness that is Neil Gaiman’s writing.  It’s incredible and I hope you enjoy it as I truly have.

And as I have said before, on to the cover!  JH Williams III has once again knocked this book and cover out of the park.  His gorgeous art is the perfect pairing to such great writing and I’m glad Gaiman could make something like this happen years after the original book ended.  You may have seen Williams’ work on books such as Detective Comics and Batwoman.  Where I really noticed him was when he did the first set of covers for Batman Incorporated (before all that New 52 craziness).

So does this cover make sense?  It does when you realize anything is possible in the world of Dream.  His world is that in which imagination knows no bounds.  Creativity is on tap.  And he watches over all.

>>>  Brew: Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Younger

nw_beer book plineyOther than a few beer festivals, I have never participated in a beer event.  That all changed last weekend when I hit up Via Marconi’s Pizza Pub in Hatfield and Blue Dog Tavern in Chalfont.  And at both locations I got to taste the wonder that is Pliny the Younger.  I had heard many things.  On BeerAdvocate.com, the beer is #3 of the top 250 brews.   While standing in line (yes, a line for beer outside of a bar) I had heard others talking about how they drove an hour to that very location.  A freaking hour!

Named after a man who was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome, this beer comes in at a substantial 11 % ABV.  Russian River considers the beer to be almost a true Triple IPA because they use triple the amount of hops, yet most sites classify the beer officially as a Double IPA.  After realizing I wasn’t fully aware of the exact difference between the classifications, I decided to research a little.  It would seem that many others have a differing opinion as well.  Either way, it’s a strong ass IPA.

As for Pliny the Younger…well…this was a damn, fine beer.  The color was wonderful, like gold.  The taste was so smooth; I almost couldn’t believe this beer was an IPA.  And when I say smooth, I mean dangerously smooth.  I’m glad it was a pricey, rare brew, because if not, I would have shelled out more just to continue tasting this deliciousness.  I guess you can say I did either way because I went to the second event just so I could taste it again before it’s all gone for the year.

Was it worth it?  Every penny.

Book & Brew Review: Lazarus & Ophelia

This is the sixth in a new series by shop regular, Chris Haas, The Book & Brew Review.

>>> Book:  Lazarus #7

nw_beer book lazarusWhen I picked this cover, I totally thought to myself, “Well…this is a real downer of an issue…it’d be perfect to review!”  And here we are; staring at what many would call one of the most depressing covers you can come up with.

The silhouettes show a complete lack of hope in a terrible situation.  Their heads are bowed, displaying resignation and grief for the loss of life.  Maybe the reader is spared by not seeing detailed faces, but I think this cover is just as powerful by only portraying dark images.

The world also mourns.  The trees are devoid of life, cold in their lack of greenery.  The sky has opened up and a flood comes down upon the travelers.  The clouds blot out any sun and dark hues dominate the entire landscape.  And the people are forced to see their sad reflections in the growing puddles beneath them.

The only vibrant color on this cover is red.  The blood draws the viewer’s eye.  As the person is held in a family member’s arms, the life drains from them as the world washes any trace away.  As if they hadn’t existed in the first place.  And most interestingly, the title of the book appears in that same bold red.  Maybe that is the book’s intent.  The name and the blood.  I would consider that quite ominous for the future of many characters.

Or maybe I just read into things…

>>> Brew: Breckenridge Brewery’s Ophelia

nw_beer book ophelia wheatSo this is a bit of a shock, but this beer is only 5% ABV.  I would imagine that it’s the weakest beer I’ve reviewed thus far.  It’s definitely been quite a while since I’ve ventured into the world of lower alcohol percentages.  And don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against beers of the weaker variety.  I just tend to lean towards the stronger stuff.  Get more bang for my buck, so to speak.

Ophelia is a hoppy wheat pale ale.  I enjoyed the fruity flavor that came with it.  I was glad to get back into a pale ale because as of late, I have focused primarily on stouts and IPAs.  This was a perfect choice for reentry, so if you haven’t had any real experience with this style of beer, make this a hopping on point (I truly did not mean to connect the hoppy flavor with the hopping on point, I swear, it just happened that way.)

And lastly, I’ve got to say that the bottle itself caught my eye.  I love the clean lines.  Makes me think of Michael Allred’s comic art, oddly enough.  And who doesn’t love a great Shakespeare reference every now and then.  To Ophelia!  May she finally know peace and get away from that crazy Hamlet in the afterlife.

Book & Brew Review: Fanstastic 4 & PB&J Stout

This is the fifth in a new series by shop regular, Chris Haas, The Book & Brew Review.

>>> Book:Fantastic Four #2

nw_beer book fantastic 4So you ever have one of those days where nothing goes well and it’s as if a major destructive force has crash landed into you and your loved ones? No? Well apparently the Fantastic Four are quite familiar with those kinds of days.

Their bodies lay battered and bruised. They lay on top of rubble, which actually turns out to be the ruins of the Baxter Building, their official headquarters. After years and years of adventures, the writer and author are attempting to make it look like the group is in the worst situation it ever has been. And so far, they may be succeeding.

The credits to such a devastating cover belong to Leonard Kirk and Art Adams. The little touches are nice. Showing Reed Richards all stretched out is oddly comical yet it shows just how recent the desolation occurred. The very same can be said concerning Johnny Storm remaining slightly on fire.

Also, I hope the readers are enjoying the change of the costumes. A few years back with the beginning of the Future Foundation comic by Jonathon Hickman, the group started their all white costume phase. The red, I feel, implies a sense of danger. Of impending doom. I hope they stick with it (if they can survive past the first few issues of this new series.)

>>> Brew: Spring House Brewing Company’s Lil Gruesome’s Peanut Butter Jelly Stout

nw_beer book pbjI’m not going to lie. This is a weird beer.

What first drew me to it was the little guy on the bottle. I assume that is “Lil Gruesome.” He seems harmless enough but maybe it’s the beer that could be more treacherous. And then I read the name of the brew. Peanut Butter Jelly Stout. And the first thought to run through my mind was, “I’m definitely buying this for comic reading.” And here we are.
This beverage is actually rated as a Fruit/Vegetable beer and comes in around 7% ABV. The bottle is 22 ounces and the brewery is actually a local enterprise. They hail out of Conestoga, Pennsylvania (with a taproom in Lancaster) and are relatively new, having opened their doors in 2006.

If you like a sweet stout, this is definitely for you. Before drinking it, you can easily smell the peanut butter. It’s almost too much. But then when you taste it, surprisingly, the first thing you notice is the sweet taste of jelly. I almost wonder that I only think that because of the title itself. But to me, all I kept thinking was, “Smells like peanut butter, tastes like jelly.” Like I said, a weird beer, but I definitely enjoyed.

Maybe it’d go well with the sandwich?…

Book & Brew Review: Moon Knight & Cali-Belgique

This is the fourth in a new series by shop regular, Chris Haas, The Book & Brew Review.

>>> Book: Moon Knight #1

nw_beer book moon knightWarren Ellis. I should just end this article on that very name, but I will not. I’m a huge fan of his work and as soon as Marvel announced that he would be writing a new Moon Knight comic, I had Jason and Mikaela put it on my pull list months ahead of time. He does write novels but if you are ever looking for other comics he has written, I suggest Transmetropolitan, Red, Black Summer, Supergod, and his work on Hellblazer.
On to the cover, the actual reason for this post. I admit, there is not a ton happening with this image, but that’s what I love about it. Black and white. Very simple. And the lines underneath the eyes is what I truly enjoy. They make me think of two things. The first thing is that of the tired superhero. A man who has been on the street and seen too many things. And the second thing would be how it draws such attention to the eyes, as if they are shining a light on the whole world when it’s in the dark. Maybe I’m reaching, but that’s what I see with those simple lines.

Kudos to Declan Shalvey. His cover is great, but if you want more, I highly recommend opening the book. His work shines throughout and every time he draws the main character, he pops on the page. Kind of like a shining light in the night. Please pick this title up.

>>> Brew: Stone Brewing Co.’s Stone Cali-Belgique

nw_beer book stone ipaAlright, so up until this bottle, I had never ha d a beer that was an interesting mix between a Belgian style and an IPA. This sort of blew my mind. For lovers of both styles, I do not see how you wouldn’t be happy with this hybrid. The most positive thing I can think about this beverage would be that the IPA aspect is toned down. It’s not like both styles are overpowering each other in any way. It’s a wonderful balance.
A modest ABV of 6.9%, this brew comes from Stone Brewing based out of Escondido, CA. They were founded in 1996 and managed to become the 10th largest craft brewery in the United States (thank you Wikipedia). I would definitely venture a guess that there most famous (or infamous if you’d prefer) beer is the Arrogant Bastard Ale. The title just jumps out at you.

And on a random note, I’ve always been a big fan of their bottles in general. The art is nice and their mascot, some devil like creature, seems to always be enjoying a great drink. Maybe it’s Hellboy…or maybe I’m just reaching.

Book & Brew Review: Black Science & Unearthly

This is the third in a new series by shop regular, Chris Haas, The Book & Brew Review.

>>> Book: Black Science #4

nw_beer book black scienceFor $3.50, you are getting one crazy comic. And on top of that, it is insanely good. Despite this being a review for the cover, I just want to point out how great the writer is month after month. Rick Remender is a powerhouse and DC would kill to have someone this talented on their team. His indie work with Image has been nothing short of spectacular and there is a whole lot more coming with different projects.

Ok, enough Remender love. The two people we should be thanking for such a detailed cover are Dean White and Matteo Scalera. The painted style is perfect as usual. I will never be able to get over how they highlight the colors in such a way. The words that come to mind are vibrant and stunning.

I also enjoy the imagery. Even on what seems to be a completely alien world, this man appears to look like he’s the king of kings. Relaxing in bed, a beautiful woman before him, and a bottle (of what I assume to be some form of alcohol) in her hand. What more can one ask for in life? It comes off very James Bond to me.
The work is so consistent; I’d wager you will be seeing future issues popping up on this site. I can’t help loving a great artist who delivers every time.

>>> Brew: Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Unearthly
nw_beer book unearthlyFirst off, aren’t I clever? Black Science involves breaching other dimensions, exploring new environments, and pushing science to the edge. So how appropriate is that this week’s beer goes by the name Unearthly.

This week’s entry is an American Double / Imperial IPA. IPA stands for India Pale Ale and refers to a hoppy style of brew within the pale ale family. The ABV is 9.5%; strong for the typical alcoholic drink, but the higher alcohol content is one of the factors in making this beer an Imperial. The typical bottle is 22 oz.

I’ll be honest. On first taste, I wasn’t totally won over. But never judge a drink on its first sip. After a few more tastes, I began to warm up to this one. For IPA lovers, you will not be disappointed as long as you don’t mind a sweet style. I don’t feel like I run into the sweet IPAs often so it was a welcome difference in flavor.

As a brewery, Southern Tier’s selection of craft beers shows their dedication to quality and flavor. I’ve had a majority of their stock (thanks to Wegmans) and I look forward to finding a new one whenever that may be. Cheers.