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The Joe Rice Media Review 11/15/06

Hey. Weird to be back. I bought some comic books. Most of them were good. In the next paragraphs I will attempt to describe why they were or were not good. I will also attempt to do so better than the other lame-asses at this blog. I mean, seriously, Cronin. What were you thinking? I know the loss of me, Alex, Teel, and the Grammar Police was tough on you. But, really? These guys? It’s like Mayberry RFD, or, more topically, the Detroit League. Here’s hoping I can class this place up a bit again.

Ultimate Fantastic Four is, for once, good. Instead of issues dedicated to extrapolations of one panel of Lee and Kirby’s work, we get actual OK LET’S GO FULL FORCE storytelling. The Ferry art helps. I think I missed an issue somehow . . .in fact I’m rather certain of it. But this is good writing so it doesn’t matter (other than a pang of regret for missing what was most likely another good issue). Carey comes out and admits that Thanos is nothing but a crappy Darkseid rip, but, in doing so, frees him to be an INTERESTING Darkseid rip. It’s really tough doing Kirby work. Kirby was a creator, not a revamper. So revisiting his work usually seems false. That isn’t what he’d do, after all. You’ve got books out there like Godland that just make you wish that the real Kirby was doing something more interesting. But this story and Morrison’s Seven Soldiers finally seem to be taking the torch from the King and doing more than a measly tribute. Good stuff.

A Paul Pope cover is enough to get me to buy most things, including, Joe Rice Is Stupid And Ugly (forthcoming from Peter David and Ethan Van Scriver). But on a great comics like The Escapists? With a Wolfmother allusion? DING DING DING! Vaughn’s story continues to really interestingly straddle the divide between indie comics, superhero comics, and even romance comics, taking the best from each and somehow making the bizarre hybrid work. And work really well. Comics-within-comics usually suck even more than most comics do. But the damnedest thing I realized reading this: I not only care about the actual characters of this book, but I care about the fictional characters they’re writing and drawing. Outstanding. That last page? Ugh! It hurts! Good stuff.

Sometimes I think to myself, Hey, extremely handsome, charming guy, remember how great Jack Staff was? And then I’ll reply, Yeah, it was pretty awesome–just like your ass. Then I’ll go on, Maybe the new color version isn’t as good . . .sometimes I put off reading it. And just as I’m about to agree with myself the comic comes out and is all, “Shut up, you nitwit! I frakkin ROCK!” And it’s right. Where else do you see Alan Moore eating a demon and getting high off it? Where else do Nazi superheroes get bittersweet respect? Where else is Paul damn Grist working these days? Remember how great it was in the black and white days? It’s just as good–maybe better.

For some reason, I got White Tiger. I guess I wondered what this supposed great children’s author would do. Well, she’s not Lemony Snicket, so I’m not exactly familiar with her work. But if it’s anything like this, I won’t be reading it to any of my students. Jesus Christ, what a lame comic. OK, you’ve got this Latina former FBI agent who inherits her uncles magic kung fu medallions. She’s fighting a Cobra dude, some Yakuza and Russian mafia. And she’s got a pretty good costume. This should be easy. It isn’t. We get forced jokes, a photo-realistic tribute to one of Manhattan’s crappier diners, uninteresting flashbacks, and I’m really left wondering who this book is written for. It isn’t for Pierce’s audience or for “fresh female readers” as its too drenched in nerd puzzle pieces. It isn’t for superhero nerds (other than completists) because it’s doing nothing that a hundred other crappy superhero books haven’t done. It’s a nice David Mack cover, yeah . . .but everything else from the hum-drum beginning to the weird appearance of Spider-man just reeks with “second-rate hackery.” That three dollars could have fed some homeless dude, or at least helped him buy some hooch.

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I also got the first Popeye trade from Fantagraphics. God, it’s beautiful. When corporate comics are dominated by utter hack artists (check out crossovers and 52s and miniseries and just about anything not drawn by Frank Quitely for examples), it’s almost painful to look at how EASY it can be to be great. Segar frakking KILLED. Can’t wait to get into this.

I’d like to conclude this re-introductory edition of the Joe Rice Media Review with a letter.

Dear Absolute New Frontier,

Baby, have I told you how beautiful you are? I mean, I know I have. I know a lot of people have. But I want to say it again. You’re beautiful. God, you really are. When I hold you in my arms, I know parts of me that are asleep without you. You make me forget the troubles of my day . . .or, even better, enjoy them. You remind me what life is really about. I love you baby. I love you so much. Tonight, I’m going to cover the bed with rose petals–I know you like rose petals. I’m going to rub some oil on your beautiful casing. I’ll rub it in deep, baby. Maybe I’ll nibble at your corners. I know you like that. I do, too. We’ll lay there together, exploring each other as only two in love can. I’ll kiss you. I’ll make gentle, caring love to you. You’ll tweak my anus a bit. Just a bit. It will be beautiful, baby. But not as beautiful as you are. I love you. Come to me.


Joe Rice


Remind me again why Cronin invited this guy back? The letter thing at the end? Completely unecessary.

Have you seen Absolute New Frontier?

It’s all that and more.

It haunts my dreams.

“The letter thing at the end? Completely unecessary.”

Yeah, at least without some sexy pictures to back it up. Where are the sexy pictures, Joe? I’m only halfway towards climax here!

The letter part was the best part!!

The only part I didn’t like was the potshot at the writers and artists working at corporate comics. Not all of them are hacks, some of them are pretty talented and hard working. And a lot of the noncorporate guys can be pretty hackish themselves.

Good to know the Popeye book is out. I want to get complete collections of that, Peanuts and Dick Tracy. Pieces of classic Americana! I may try the Gasoline Alley books too.

How can anyone not like the letter?

I think I’m going to have to wait until Christmas for the Popeye book. That seems like a long ways off.

I didn’t say they were all hacks.

Just that most of them are.

“You’ll tweak my anus a bit. Just a bit.”

Anyone who did not laugh when reading that needs to take a long hard look at themselves.


Thanks, Bill! Good to see you.

Dave: I know just where to put the mirror!

Love the letter.

As for the crack on corporate comics and hack artists: Aren’t blogs all about batting around strong opinions?

Or facts, as the case may be.

Rebis, no one’s saying strong opinions shouldn’t be expressed on blogs. But strong opinions get strong reactions. I feel that the indie comic scene has just as high a ratio of crap to gems that the corporate comics do from my experience. A majority of those banal autobio comics alone are enough to drive one crazy (although I did read Blankets finally and that was awesome).

My Absolute New Frontier was in my hands before yours and boy, she’s already done things I didn’t know were physically possible.

Yes, including the thing with the bookmark.

Kevin Church just got five cool points.

And who said anything about indie comics being better? I didn’t.

You know what I’ve noticed about the whole “Corporate Comics” fanbase – they’re a lot like Neoconservatives. They’ve got the market share, they’ve got the power, and they still whine and try to come off as the underdog whenever someone mentions their flaws or an alternative.

This applies doubly for Marvel fans.

Jack Staff is awesome.

I’vc seen this play out at least a dozen times elsewhere at CBR and I really hope we’re not going to do this again here whenever Joe posts.

Joe’s opinions and mine rarely mesh, our tastes are at roughly perpendicular angles to one another, but I always enjoy seeing wehat he has to say. I never take it personally. But a lot of people do, even when Joe is at pains to never actually insult the people who read books he doesn’t like, and his column is usually talking mostly about the good books he DOES like.

I realize this is comics discussion on the internet, so suggesting this stuff isn’t terribly important and probably not worth brawling over is not only futile but possibly blasphemy… but I thought I’d at least mention it.

First of all, welcome back, Joe. Second, go to hell. Myself and the rest of the people that replaced you, Alex, Doug/Paul and whoever the Grammar Police were (I’m betting on Chuck D and Flava Flav myself)are far from Mayberry RFD or the Detroit League. At worst, we are After Mash. At best, we are the New Fantastic Four that showed up in Walt Simonson’s FF run. Get your facts straight. Also, I had Absolute New Frontier before you or Kevin. Well, at least you. I’ll deal with Kevin when the time comes, if neccessary. But only if he compares me and other bloggers to inferior products we are not analogous to!

Could you be any more Super Mario Brothers 2, Brad? Jesus.

(Also, I had my copy…two weeks ago.)

I always preferred Sagendorf to Segar.

Yeah, I said it.

“You know what I’ve noticed about the whole “Corporate Comics” fanbase – they’re a lot like Neoconservatives. They’ve got the market share, they’ve got the power, and they still whine and try to come off as the underdog whenever someone mentions their flaws or an alternative.

This applies doubly for Marvel fans. ”


I’m sort of surprised to see that someone prefers Sagendorf to Segar, but in fairness, I’ve really only seen the later “always on model” Sagendorf whose art seemed a bit stock. So I will say that I prefer the Segar stuff I’ve seen to the Sagendorf stuff I’ve seen to date and allow that my knowledge is limited in this arena.

Say, since it was mentioned, does anyone know if the IDW reprints of Dick Tracy have scotched any further volumes of the Collins Casefiles? Because Collins, while not as good as Gould at his peak (thanks mainly to changes in the way newspapers treated their comics) rocked hard on that strip.

“Remind me again why Cronin invited this guy back?”

Considering the fact that Joe was one of the founders of this blog, I don’t think you are in any position to be questioning it.

“Remind me again why Cronin invited this guy back?”

He’s funny and worth reading.

I also add much-needed sex appeal. That always brings in the hits.

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