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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 21 and 28 July 2010

Society had tamed the erratic fellow by co-opting him into the mainstream. For its largest threats, society reserves success. (Richard Powers, from Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance)

Giant robot runs wild!  Film at 11! Ride, Brucie, ride! There's more action on the cover than almost the entire book! That cover is just two panels from the book - couldn't they have spruced up the covers a bit? It's Jaime Hernandez!!!!! That cover doesn't make a lot of sense Continuing the grand tradition of cheesecakery!!!! Ka-Blooooey!!!!!! Man, Bisley is wacky! Buckingham is really doing a nice job on these covers Man, those pants are close to going down! You can practically hear the ringing of the hammer on steel! Who is this crazy snake bitch?!?!?!?! Cosmicky! So scary!!!! I love how the kid wants Thor to sign his copy of issue #1 Look at that wonderful cover! That can't bode well! Seriously with that cover? It's like he's leaping right at you!!!! I wish Brother Night was cooler, man! No good can come of this! Why does he have the stuff on his face? It's the Seventies, maaaaannnnn! It's all about the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, man! Who doesn't love the giant tiki statue with lightning-discharging eyes?!?!?!?

Somewhat quick reviews for last week’s books, normal rambling for this week’s books. Sorry, last week’s books – something had to give!

Atlas3Atlas #3 (of 5, now) (“The Return of the Three Dimensional Man Part 3″/”The Human Robot”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Gabriel Hardman (artist, “3-D Man”), Ramon Rosanas (artist, “Robot”), Elizabeth Breitweiser (colorist, “3-D Man”), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

It’s a shame that this book is ending, because Gabriel Hardman keeps getting better and better and while I think he’ll do fine with the Hulk, it doesn’t seem to fit his style as well as this comic does. The flashback that Bob makes real and the way the he draws the possessing things are amazing (although the latter probably has something to do with Breitweiser’s colors, as well). Hardman hasn’t done pure superhero stuff yet, and drawing the Hulk is much closer to that than Atlas, so I wish him well. It’s just too bad that a weird little title like this that exists on the fringes of the Marvel Universe can’t survive. I know I’m weird and have been for a while, but the fringes of the Big Two universes are so much more interesting than the center, mainly because the creators can do what they want but still drop in a Captain America or Superman appearance every once in a while. Most people do not agree with me, it seems.

One totally Airwolf panel:

That's just not very nice!

That's just not very nice!

BatmanReturnofBruceWayne4Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4 (of 6) (“Dark Night Dark Rider”) by Grant “No, I didn’t need to use him, but who doesn’t love the Hex?” Morrison (writer), Georges Jeanty (penciller), Walden Wong (inker), Tony Aviña (colorist), Travis Lanham (letterer). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC, DC.

This is the issue that Jeanty had to step into late, and it does look a bit rushed, but there’s nothing terribly wrong with Jeanty’s work, so I don’t know what everyone was bitching about. This continues to be a typical G-Mozz joint, with a lack of explanation that forces us to make narrative leaps ourself (nothing wrong with that) and teasers about what’s to come. Morrison is pulling together quite a few plot points, which is nice. The Indian’s switch from “bad” guy to “good” guy makes no sense, but he’s a minor character so I don’t worry about it too much. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in the panel where we see Barbathos, the bat-demon – is that Bruce seeing Dr. Hurt and Vandal Savage, with the demon in between, “protecting” them? And is that a reference to the very first Elseworlds story on the third-to-last page? And why does Bruce appear to fall into the modern world when we know he’s headed for a 1930s, blimp-filled world? Oh well – these are questions for another day … or for you readers to illuminate me about!

I’m also not sure why Jonah Hex needs to be in this issue. He doesn’t seem terribly necessary. I guess if a DC comic takes place in the Old West, even in an eastern city like Gotham, Hex needs to make an appearance!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Bruce Wayne says NOTHING in this issue, which is AWESOME!

Bruce Wayne says NOTHING in this issue, which is AWESOME!

BlackWidow4Black Widow #4 (“The Name of the Rose Part 4″) by Marjorie Liu (writer), Daniel Acuña (artist), and Nate Piekos (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

For a penultimate issue, this is strangely inert, as Liu gives us more backstory but not a lot of action, making me wonder how easily she’ll clean everything up next issue. If it’s too easy, who cares, right? It’s not that the lack of action is bad, per se, it just seems to come at a weird time in the book. Natasha’s confrontation with Lady Bullseye is handled well, though. The usual applies to this series, though – it’s an intriguing story with fine art, and it will probably read better in a trade, especially as it’s essentially a five-issue mini-series. I just wonder how Liu can make the climax convincing and comprehensive enough. We shall see.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, Natasha, you big meanie!

Oh, Natasha, you big meanie!

BullettotheHead2Bullet to the Head #2 by Matz (writer), Colin Wilson (artist/letterer), and Chris Blythe (colorist). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

I mentioned that I didn’t get a chance to talk to Colin Wilson at San Diego, which would have been keen because I could have told him how much I like his art on this book (and other stuff, of course). There’s a LOT of exposition in this issue, and Wilson has to stick to talking heads quite a bit, but because his character design is so strong, we never lose track of the characters and he manages to make Matz’s wordy script a bit more visually interesting. And, of course, when things to get exciting, Wilson is good at that, too. Matz connects a lot of the dots for us, which probably isn’t necessary (we know what happened, even if the cops don’t), hence the wordiness, but we do get some more information about the murder in issue #1 and the bigger picture. I just wish Matz had figured out a way to do all of this with fewer words. It gets a bit daunting.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, I get that

Yeah, I get that

CBGB1CBGB #1 (of 4). “A NYC Punk Carol” by Kieron Gillen (writer) and Marc Ellerby (artist). “The Helsinki Syndrome” by Sam Humphries (writer), Rob G (artist), and James Dashiell (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

I’m only going to read the first issue of this series, and that’s because of Gillen’s story, but the fact that it’s basically an anthology series makes that easier. Gillen’s story is solid, with a riff on “A Christmas Carol” that is typically informative about punk’s origins and typically hilarious. Gillen didn’t know that he couldn’t use likenesses of the various rock-n-rollers referenced in the story, so he and Ellerby came up with a nice way to show them. I liked the story because I didn’t know much of what Gillen tells us – someone else who knows about punk in the 1970s might feel differently. And it has an interactive page, as well! Humphries’ and Rob G’s story is notable for the art and for a double-page spread which is pretty damned keen. It’s basically a “punk will save the world” kind of story, not that there’s anything wrong with that. True fact: in 1979 I was eight years old and listening to ABBA (still am!) and my sister’s Grease soundtrack and Styx records. I’ve never been cool, have I?

One totally Airwolf panel:

Creative swearing is the BEST!

Creative swearing is the BEST!

Dynamo5SinsoftheFather2Dynamo 5: Sins of the Father #2 (of 5) by Jay Faerber (writer), Júlio Brilha (artist), Joe Eisma (artist, “Notorious” back-up story), Ron Riley (colorist), Paul Little (colorist, “Notorious” back-up story), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $3.99, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

Faerber gives us the story of what happened when Dominex showed up on Earth lo those many years ago and why his sons are back. There’s a nice, “gathering-of-heroes” vibe in the book, and the sons show they’re not to be taken lightly. As usual, Faerber sticks to a good superhero story with just enough twistiness to it (Supreme’s suggestion about what to do with Dominex, Bridget getting the distress call post-coitus) to make it more interesting than what you usually find from the Big Two. Plus, he has a long essay about Elementals in the back of the book. And hey, I convinced David Norman to give the book a try … maybe I can convince you, too!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, doesn't it, sir?  DOESN'T IT?!?!?!?

Oh, doesn't it, sir? DOESN'T IT?!?!?!?

FearlessDawn4Fearless Dawn #4 by Steve Mannion (writer/artist) and Frank Forte (colorist). $2.95, 22 pgs, FC, Asylum Press.

In its final (for now) issue, Fearless Dawn goes even berserkier, as Mannion ditches any pretense of realism with regard to the time period, transplants everyone to the modern day, and has Helga von Krause attack Hollywood in order to seize control of the “American entertainment machine.” She takes over a reality show and tries to dictate terms, but the plan goes wrong when her henchman, Fritz, shoots one of the reality show contestants in the head, revealing that she has no brain and can still survive. She becomes a sensation, relegating Helga to the back pages of the newspapers. It’s utterly silly and a tiny bit mean-spirited, but Mannion takes the easy shots at reality shows because, as usual, the main focus of the issue is sexy chicks in tiny clothing causing mayhem. And we get plenty of that. Fearless Dawn continues to have no point except to showcase Mannion’s insane art, but at least he has a blast showcasing it. (I’m also not sure why, in one panel, one character says “fuck” but another character’s swear word is grawlixed out. Odd.)

One totally Airwolf panel:

Steve Mannion knows what the people want!

Steve Mannion knows what the people want!

Garrison4Garrison #4 (of 6) by Jeff Mariotte (writer), Francesco Francavilla (artist), Wes Hartman (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Wildstorm.

Mariotte, unfortunately, still writes too much in this series. It’s very frustrating. There are narrative boxes telling us stuff we either already know or can easily figure out, or there are narrative boxes telling us where we are, when Francavilla’s art tells us very clearly. It’s a shame, because Garrison continues to be a zippy little action adventure with an odd mystery at its center, and most of the actual words in it are unnecessary. Garrison decides that he needs to ally with Jillian Bracewell, because she’s in trouble with a different government agency, and he also tries to infiltrate the bad guys’ headquarters, with predictably bad results. Francavilla continues to set an exciting and moody tone (helped by Hartman’s colors, of course), and Mariotte is doing a good job giving us small pieces of the puzzle. It’s just annoying that it slows down so much when the omniscient narrator feels like (s)he has to hold our hand to walk us through every thought that crosses Garrison’s mind. I thought, early on in the series, that Mariotte was just getting us up to speed and he’d back off as the series moved along. It’s obvious now that he’s not. I think it holds the series back, which is too bad.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, that can't be good

Well, that can't be good

Hellblazer269Hellblazer #269 (“Sectioned Part Three: The Kiss”) by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouter), Stefano Landini (finisher), Trish Mulvihill (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

This book keeps getting better and better. I had forgotten how much I love Lenny Shapiro, and the fact that Milligan uses her to point out how infantile both Shade and John are is brilliant. I do want to point out that if Milligan is going to reference Shade, the Changing Man, why is he ignoring the fact that Cathy, technically, isn’t dead? He wrote the end of the series, after all, and despite the fact that it went off the rails a bit after Cathy was killed, the end of the series was a charming happy ending … so is Milligan implying that it didn’t count? It’s not as if another writer took over, and it’s not as if the editors at Vertigo told Milligan to make the ending happy – I imagine he had freedom to write it however he wanted. If, years later, he realized he should have ended it with issue #50, that’s one thing, but at least he could have Shade explain it somehow, right? Or maybe he will next issue. Who knows.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Damn, I miss Shade, the Changing Man

Damn, I miss Shade, the Changing Man

MadameXanadu25Madame Xanadu #25 (“Extra-Sensory Chapter 2: Dirty Little Mouth”) by Matt Wagner (writer), Lauren McCubbin (artist/colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Laurenn McCubbin is a good choice for this story, because the star of the book is a 1960s advertising executive, and McCubbin’s slightly stiff style and use of bright colors and prefab patterns makes the book pop like a hip, 1960s ad campaign. The people look plastic, which is the point. McCubbin’s art probably wouldn’t work with a different story, but here it makes Spencer Wilkins’ world of middle-class perfection all the more creepy and highlights the disturbing things he keeps hearing. Wagner gives us a story about Spencer, who talks all the time (it’s his business, after all – convincing people he knows how to sell their product) who suddenly begins hearing everyone saying horrible things to him, sharing their darkest secrets with him (and him alone) and telling him to kill them because they deserve it. Madame Xanadu shows up to explain that he’s being haunted by a malevolent spirit who will only become stronger, driving him further into madness. Will he take her advice? Of course not – he’s Spencer Wilkins, man! Of course, that means bad things will continue to happen. But he can handle it, right?

I find it interesting and will continue to track the main characters in this story arc, because so far, the WOMAN who listens to Madame Xanadu finds relief while the MAN who ignores her doesn’t. Spencer Wilkins knows something weird is happening to him, but despite repeated warnings from our heroine, he brushes her off. I don’t know if Wagner is going to continue with this theme of women being saved because they listen to Madame Xanadu and men not being saved, but I very much hope he’s not going that route. That would be disappointing. I get that a man in the 1960s probably wouldn’t listen to a strange Gypsy woman who tells him a mean bogeyman is haunting him and believe he could handle the problem himself, but after two stories, both set in the early 1960s, I wonder what will happen with the rest of the arc. I also wonder if I’ve been reading Kelly Thompson too much. But that’s a question for another day!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Check out those groovy patterns!

Check out those groovy patterns!

Meta42Meta 4 #2 (of 5) by Ted McKeever (writer/artist/letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, BW, Image/Shadowline.

Things get weirder, but we do get some exposition. That’s really how it should work, shouldn’t it? Answers doled out slowly even as the book gets more opaque. A strange woman shoots a bird in the head (to be fair, the bird was asking for it), our astronaut sort-of gets a name, there’s a weird tattoo session, and we end on the moon. Isn’t that always the way? McKeever continues to soften his art, which means it’s still very odd but also has a bizarre, dreamlike quality to it. Excellent stuff.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Northlanders30Northlanders #30 (“Metal Part One: The Old Ways”) by Brian Wood (writer), Riccardo Burchielli (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

The new story arc begins, and Wood takes us to Norway in AD 700, where Erik the blacksmith is told that he can’t work on a project because of his animosity toward the new Christians, who are paying the village a lot of money to lease land to build a church. Erik decides to cause some property damage because he’s peeved that the villagers aren’t following the old gods. Mayhem ensues!

As often happens with Northlanders, I’ve been thinking about this issue. Wood is a very good writer because he brings up subjects that resist facile reasoning and trite answers. This issue made me think of The Anchor, the recently-cancelled Boom! series. I caused a bit of a firestorm in the comments when I wrote that Clem, the main character of The Anchor, is an example of a positively-portrayed Christian, something we don’t often see in comics. Resident Curmudgeon Dan took me to task, and the battle was on! This issue made me think of that one because I would point Dan to this issue and, really, this series as a whole. I have no idea what Wood’s beliefs are, nor do I really care. For the record, I’m a fairly strident atheist, although I’m perfectly willing to be convinced otherwise. As someone who has studied a great deal of medieval history, I’m very cognizant of the horrors perpetuated by the Christian Church over the centuries. But I’m always struck whenever Christians show up in Northlanders. I could be wrong, but I can’t remember any positive Christian portrayals in this series. Wood might say that they’re not the focus of the book, so when they do show up, they’re as antagonists, and antagonists tend to be portrayed unfavorably. But Wood has done a very nice job showing us all kinds of Vikings – good ones, bad ones, neutral ones – that it’s strange the Christians are universally shown as bad. The closest to a positive portrayal is Boris from the last story arc, but he was less a Christian and more man doing some good things who happened to be a Christian. The idea of Christianity as a transformative experience that uplifts a person is absent from Northlanders. Again, this book is not about Christians, but to write a story about Vikings means you’re going to deal with the clash of civilizations that began with the northerners attacking Christian settlements, so it’s going to be in the background. Wood has given us a very rich cultural assessment of the Northlanders’ society, but whenever Christians show up, they’re uniformly evil. Even the girl whom Erik rescues in this issue isn’t really a Christian, just someone who was forced to become a nun. When Dan points out that Christianity is so overwhelming in our society that showing one positively portrayed in a comic is unnecessary, I can easily point to comics like this. Wood is far more thoughtful than most comic book writers, which makes his lack of nuance when it comes to Christians a bit vexing. It’s not even as if this is what Erik believes about Christians and we know we’re seeing them from his point of view. The Christians in Northlanders deserve the Vikings’ scorn, because they’re pretty much scumbags whenever they show up. And it’s not just Wood, of course. In almost every comic I’ve ever read, “Christian” is shorthand for hypocritical pederast. Christians can look after themselves, of course, and don’t need an avowed atheist doing it for them. I just love this comic series, and whenever Christians show up in it, it feels like the greatness of the rest of the book jars significantly with the way they’re portrayed.

Still, Erik’s vision in the forest is pretty awesome. And Burchielli’s art is fantastic, especially that last page. Keen!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, that's pretty much all you can say, pal!

Yeah, that's pretty much all you can say, pal!

PrinceofPower3Prince of Power #3 (of 4) (“Our Lady of Slaughter”) by Greg Pak (writer), Fred van Lente (writer), Reilly Brown (penciler), Zach Howard (artist), Terry Pallot (inker), Val Staples (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

More wonderful sound effects (too many to get into) abound in this issue, as Amadeus and Thor fight Sekhmet in the Egyptian underworld. Van Lente and Pak just think about these things in a more interesting way than most, as we see what happens when the afterlife evolves just like any other society and what happens when you find out a way to neutralize a goddess of destruction. It’s very funny and even (dare I say it?) thoughtful. Plus, Delphyne goes awesomely crazy, wearing a death scrunchie and doing some serious killing. Even that is funny and entertaining, more than it has any right to be. I’m not surprised that this is a fun mini-series, and I’m keen to see how it ends.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Her snakes are shooting guns because.  Comics.  Are.  Awesome!

Her snakes are shooting guns because. Comics. Are. Awesome!

SecretAvengers3Secret Avengers #3 (“Secret Histories 3 of 4″) by Ed Brubaker (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (artist), Rain Beredo (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I’m still not sure if I’m going to continue buying this at four dollars a pop, but this was the best issue yet, so it gives me hope for the future. Brubaker starts in 1865 and some time travel, then shows us what happened to Ant-Man, then gives us a big ol’ bombastic explanation for some of what’s going on. Plus, Nova kicks ass. This is the kind of thing I wish we had gotten when Brubaker wrote Uncanny X-Men and sent them into space – a big, wacky space epic with dark things lurking on the edges of the universe. Maybe Brubaker has gotten better since that previous ill-fated space epic. Of course, it helps that this space epic is somewhat “grounded” – Mars isn’t the far reaches of space, and the plot remains Earth-bound, so there’s that. But the fact that we get the Confederate refugees in the beginning and Nick Fury conspiring and the archon talking cryptically makes this a nice blend of superhero stuff and the more clandestine, weird stuff that a title like “Secret Avengers” implies.

Another cool thing about this is that the initial arc ends next issue. That will be a good place to assess. Man, these $3.99-comics will be the death of me, won’t they?

One totally Airwolf panel:

Brubaker makes a funny!

Brubaker makes a funny!

SevenPsychopaths3Seven Psychopaths #3 (of 3) by Fabien Vehlmann (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), Hubert (colorist), Deron Bennett (letterer), and Dan Heching (translator). $3.99, 20 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

This series ends in quite the weirdest way possible. I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that the mission succeeds … and fails. Yes, it’s very confusing! Vehlmann doesn’t really have a point with this series – he wanted to write a story about assassinating Hitler, and that’s what he does! It’s much more of a puzzle box than we first imagined (it’s certainly not hard to follow, but there is some legerdemain involved), and it’s far more depressing than we expected – not because some of the principals die, but because of what a character realizes about the mission itself. It’s an entertaining series, and I encourage you to check out the ten-dollar trade. Phillips is, of course, amazing on the book. His drifting parachuter is a haunting symbol of the frustration and randomness of war. It’s cool to see him on a book like this, and it’s just another incentive to pick it up.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Spooky!

Spooky!

ThortheMightyAvenger2Thor: The Mighty Avenger #2 (“Hyde”) by Roger Langridge (writer), Chris Samnee (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Langridge and Samnee gives us nice little two-issue arc to kick off this series, and a few things make it memorable. Langridge injects just enough humor into it that it doesn’t become a dark-n-depressing superhero story, as he manages to retain the wonder we often feel when we read superhero stuff and also add a nice mystery – Thor doesn’t remember how he got to Earth or how to get back to Asgard – which makes it feel more “adult.” There’s also a nice disturbing touch of Thor wailing on a defenseless human with all his might, a brief scene that Langridge simply leaves there for us to read without making too much of it. It’s one of those things that, while it has no impact right now, feels like something that will return to bite Thor on the butt later. Samnee shows that he’s a fine superhero artist, as he does a wonderful job with the fight scenes, but as the book also calls for an (apparently) ongoing flirtation between Thor and Jane Foster, we get some excellent facial expressions as well. Much like Gabriel Hardman’s work on Atlas (see above), this doesn’t look like a traditional superhero book, which is part of the reason why it works. I do hope that more of these kinds of artists keep coming into the Big Two and putting some different spins on superhero art. That’d be nice.

I’ll mention this again: I don’t have any idea how well this series is going to do, but give it a look. It’s oodles of fun, only two issues in!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, Thor, you're incorrigible!

Oh, Thor, you're incorrigible!

UnknownSoldier22Unknown Soldier #22 (“Beautiful World Chapter One”) by Joshua Dysart (writer), Alberto Ponticelli (artist), Oscar Celestini (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

This is the first issue I’ve read since I heard Unknown Soldier‘s last issue was #25. Whenever I hear that a book has been cancelled, I find it kind of pointless to review it. I will say that even if Dysart didn’t want to end the series with issue #25 (and I have no idea if he did, but it feels kind of short for the ambition of the book), Vertigo is at least giving him a chance to wrap it up with some semblance of an end game. That’s nice. So Moses gets captured by the CIA and his wife goes looking for him. Ponticelli is excellent, and Dysart has just gotten better and better over the course of this series. His writing is haunting and heart-wrenching as well as hard-edged when it needs to be. I haven’t loved everything Dysart has written, but I will look forward to what he’s doing next, because he’s become a very good writer over the past two years.

Get the trades, people. This is a fantastic series, dying far too soon.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Moses is hardcore, man!

Moses is hardcore, man!

WelcometoTranquility1Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #1 (of 6) (“Homecoming Part One: A Shot at Redemption”) by Gail Simone (writer), Horacio Domingues (artist), Jonny Rench (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Wildstorm.

Simone picks up almost where the old series ended, and confronts a question superhero books don’t often address: How do you convict the bad guy? It doesn’t happen here, as the killer from the first series walks free … and only a few people are angry about it (including Thomasina the sheriff, the nominal star of the series). Simone doesn’t do a perfect job re-introducing all the characters, but she does do a solid job, even though the cliffhanger only makes sense if you’ve read the previous series. All in all, though, it’s Simone back to her old tricks, and I’d much rather see her write this than something like Birds of Prey. In only one issue she gives us several well written scenes that show a great depth of love and understanding for the large cast. Domingues isn’t quite as good as Googe was on the original series, but he’s not bad.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oooooeeeeeooooooeeeee!

Oooooeeeeeooooooeeeee!

XFactor207X-Factor #207 (“Lost Souls”) by Peter David (writer), Sebastián Fiumara (artist), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I don’t understand that cover. I’m sure it was drawn many months ago, when Peter David said, “I’m doing a story about Hela,” but in this first issue of the arc, nobody in the book knows it’s Hela (long-time Marvel readers will know, however, even without the cover, but still – it would have been nice to be a bit mysterious), so the cover just gives it away. Oh well. The Baron Mordo subplot is dealt with speedily so that David can move on to Hela’s involvement with a certain man whom she wants found, a man who turns out to be quite different than he looks. Rictor and Shatterstar get all romantic, as well. And there’s a cliffhanger. Of course! Fiumara does a solid job on pencils – I like his art more than De Landro’s and wouldn’t mind if he was drawing this book on a more regular basis. He has a more solid line to resist Cox’s “Marvelizing” color process, and his characters don’t all look alike. He still draws Monet in that ridiculous costume, though. Still, a good issue. Except for that annoying cover.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Gotta love a good splash page!

Gotta love a good splash page!

YoursTrulyJacktheRipper2Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper #2 (of 3) by Joe R. Lansdale (adapter), John L. Lansdale (adapter), Kevin Colden (artist), and Robbie Robbins (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

There’s really not a lot to say about this issue. Things unfold. Colden is the real star, with his strangely designed Jack the Ripper, his creepy atmosphere as Jenny and Hollis navigate the city, and the nice use of red to highlight the strangeness. He screws with the panels just a bit for effect, but does rotate the camera angle occasionally to give us some vertiginous views of the action. Colden really knows how to add verve to a somewhat static script, and while I enjoy this mystery, it’s fun to check out how Colden lays the entire thing out. This is a spooky comic mostly because of Colden, and it makes the mystery even more interesting. I have no idea what the cliffhanger means, but then again, I’ve never read the original story, so I’m looking forward to the final issue.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

Zatanna3Zatanna #3 (“Night on Devil Mountain”) by Paul Dini (writer), Stéphane Roux (artist), Pat Brosseau (letterer), and John Kalisz (colorist). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

The first story arc finishes, and while it’s not great, it’s not bad, either. Nothing really changes, and Zatanna shows a nifty evil side that will help her fight magical bad guys, plus a good twisted sense of humor that will also serve her well. Because this is a short arc, Dini tells us that Brother Night is a lot tougher than he turns out to be, but I guess this arc was about Zatanna’s relationship with her father and establishing her as the go-to girl when you have magical problems. Roux’s art obscures the blandness of the script, as he’s dazzling on this book (so far; he’s taking next issue off). He’s not the only reason to buy this, but he’s the major one. I usually give a book six issues to hook me. Based on this arc, I may not continue with it. It’s more a question of not wanting to spend my money on it than hating it. It’s just not quite good enough to drop the ducats on it.

One totally Airwolf panel:

This is why you don't mess with demons!

This is why you don't mess with demons!

A Friendly Game by Lindsay Hornsby (writer/inker/letterer), Joe Pimienta (penciller), Lauren Affe (toner), and James Hornsby (special guest letterer). $14.95, 187 pgs, BW, SLG.

Two young boys play a game. Things get nasty. Oh dear.

Jon Sable: Freelance Omnibus by Mike Grell (writer/artist). $29.99, 450 pgs, FC, IDW.

I really like these omnibi that IDW puts out. They’re packed with comics and they ain’t that expensive. Good move, IDW!

Marvel Masterworks: The Black Panther volume 1 by Don McGregor (writer), Rick Buckler (penciler), Bill Graham (penciler), and many others. $64.99, 353 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Yeah, that’s a good chunk of change, but they’re comics. From the 1970s!!!!!! You do know that was the Greatest Decade in Comic Book History, right? Right?!?!?!?

Mondo Urbano book one by Mateus Santolouco, Eduardo Medeiros, Rafael Albuquerque (writers/artists), Ivan Brandon, Cris Peter (adapters), and Michael Thomas (letterer). $11.99, 116 pgs, RW, Oni Press.

This looks wacky cool, but I’m worried about the fact that it’s only “book one.” I’m still waiting for the second volume of The Last Call by Vasilis Lolos!

Warlord of Io by James Turner (writer/artist). $14.95, 206 pgs, BW, SLG.

Yay! I’m so happy this is out in a trade! James Turner, for those who don’t know, is a comic genius. A GENIUS!!!!!!

Well. These aren’t the greatest reviews, are they? I thought the ones from last week would be shorter, but then I don’t really have a lot to say about the ones that came out this week, either. They’re enjoyable, certainly, but maybe I’m still experiencing a post-San Diego hangover. Who knows. It’s also monsoon season here in Hell, which means it’s not only hot, it’s really humid. I’m more beat than usual!

All right, let’s check out The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle But Which Often Gets Reset, A Vexing Dilemma):

1. “100 Nights” – Marillion (1991) “They say that people live and learn; some people only live and live”
2. “Train in Vain (Stand by Me”) – The Clash (1979) “So alone I keep the wolves at bay”
3. “Celebration, Florida” – Chumbawamba (2000) “They’re buying up nostalgia for a time they can’t remember”
4. “Family Business” – Fish (1990) “The kids are all she lives for, she’s got nothing left to lose”
5. “Take Me Home” – Phil Collins (1985) “I can’t come out to find you, I don’t like to go outside”
6. “Three Minute Boy” – Marillion (1998) “They named their children after him”
7. “The King Has Lost His Crown” – ABBA (1979) “She doesn’t care, still you just dream of her”
8. “Pretty Good Year” – Tori Amos (1994) “They say you were something in those formative years”
9. “The Kilburn High Road” – Flogging Molly (2002) “Where to kiss the lips of that love forgotten, to fly where no others have soared”
10. “Amerika v6.0 (The Best We Can Do)” – Steve Earle (2002) “Meanwhile, back at the hospital, we got accountants playin’ God and countin’ out the pills”

And who wants totally random lyrics? You do!

“It’s been months now, since we heard from our Mary,
I wonder if she ever made the coast
Well she and her young man, they both moved out there
I sure hope they write, just to let us know”

Hey, Englishers! After I got back from San Diego, I immediately hopped on a plane for London! I’m totally serious – look, it’s London Bridge!

This is, of course, Lake Havasu City on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, which is where we went for a few days earlier this week. It’s very odd seeing a big stone bridge in the middle of the desert, but London wanted to sell it, and sell it they did!

Have a nice day, everyone!

41 Comments

This question may be answered in the book, since I didn’t read it, but why does Gotham – a city on the Eastern seaboard – look like a Western boomtown (with the saloon and the feed store and whatnot)?

Yeah, allow me to second Chad Walters’ comments. Why does Gotham look like Dodge City or Tombstone?

Greg, I’d be interested to know what you thought of Magnus from “The Cross and the Hammer” arc RE: Christians’ portrayals in Northlanders. He was a psychotic, but he was also standing up against the pagan Norsemen occupying his country.

Make sure to check Kirby’s Black Panther run right after the one you bought. The people in the the letters of Kirby’s BP thought The King had a lot of gall to follow a serious run with his Kirbyness. Kirby gives BP telepathy and then just abandons the whole thing.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 30, 2010 at 1:20 am

No Action comics? No way!

wow, that’s awesome~ i love comics too~

Greg,

Nothing to do with comics, but I have noticed that Fish / Marillion appears a lot on your ipod. Totally random fact, I live very near Fish and I often see him in the local supermarket. He is very tall and his land rover license plate is F1SH!

Also, I totally agree about Secret Avengers. I enjoyed the first issue but at 3.99 (£2.90 in the UK) it is a wee bit pricey. I think I will just wait for the trade. (if everyone decides to trade-wait, this will just end up in the comic being cancelled and as a result there will be no trades to wait for. I think the 3.99 price point is going to squeeze a lot of lesser titles out).

It’s mostly because I think Christianity of that time era and location specifically WAS almost uniformly bad, and I (obviously) love the conflict between it and the ‘old ways’, that cultural colonization. I am neither a Christian or a pagan, but I do strongly dislike the imposing of any religion onto anyone. I find Christianity does that better than anyone else.

And everyone in The Plague Widow were Christians, including Hilda, even if, at times, they can lapse into superstition.

b

“Puttitatslap” might’ve been the best sound effect I’ve ever seen!

I had the same doubts reading Hellblazer. I almost thought that I had forgotten something from the Shade series, because everybody refers to Cathy as being dead.

@ Brian Wood: but isn’t that exactly what Greg was talking about?

You say that Christianity is very good at imposing their religion at other people. Fine, I can agree with that. Hell, my country is 95% Catholic! There’s not a lot of room for other religions.

But that is also a very broad statement. I think Greg was referring to individual portrayals of characters.

That was “Hello In There” by John Prine, wasn’t it?

Steven R. Stahl

July 30, 2010 at 6:40 am

Brubaker deserves a tiny bit of credit for trying to spice up the primary plot in SECRET AVENGERS, but the primary plot is so generic that it might be included in a software package, “10 Surefire Plots for the Novice Comics Writer!” The point of the story invariably winds up being “Aren’t the heroes magnificent? They saved the universe when _____ couldn’t!” This storyline has Brubaker displaying the same flaws that he did in his UXM storylines: too much reliance on tired plots and plot devices.

SRS

@The Dude yeah, a couple things:

I stress again that this is a very specific streak of Christianity I’m writing about. Certainly the religion of today is not the same as it was in the time of the Crusades, or the Inquisition, or the Viking Age. I’m not making a broad statement on the religion, I’m making very targeted statements on how it could have been applied at a certain point in time, in a certain place, by certain people with an agenda. And that agenda was, in a couple of the Northlanders stories, about eradicating paganism.

And lets look at the track record, since I disagree with Greg on the pervasiveness of this within the series:

vol. 1 – no overt Christianity here. The main character is not religious. This is also no overt paganism either, deliberately.

vol. 2 – maybe a little bit. The conflict is more racial than religious, but I’ll admit there is a bit, but Christianity rules the roost in that story.

vol. 3 – that Lindisfarne story is an example of what Greg is talking about, but the father characters is clearly a fundamentalist and not a sane or rational person practicing his faith. The monastery is destroyed and many a monk slaughtered, but I’ll share the blame for showing that with actual history . Nothing else in that volume is derogatory towards Christianity, save for a couple jokes made at a fat priest’s expense.

vol. 4 – as I said upthread, everyone there is Christian, constantly and devoutly so.

The Sea Road, I don’t believe, mentions the religion at all. Which brings up to METAL, which in a massive way is showing these particular Christians in a negative light, and that is also deliberate. I’ll take the heat for that, and say its all in service of the story, which people can approve or of not.

One of the founding concepts of Northlanders is the fact the series is set at this time of change, when Christianity is replacing paganism, and I chalk all positive and negative portrayals of both religions as the pains of that change. Personally I don’t make a huge distinction between one group of people worshipping a make believe god in the sky and the other group worshipping a different person. I don’t want to romanticize paganism (although they did have a much healthier attitude towards their women, I’ll give them that) and when I write bits about the spinners of fate and how the northern lights are actual flying warriors, etc I’m not holding that up as an ideal. It’s just as ignorant as anyone else struggling to find their way in that difficult time.

So brace yourself, METAL is gonna be heavy on this stuff, equally anti-Christian and anti-paganism. Kind of like Matty Roth in DMZ, we can already see how Erik’s being manipulated from both sides.

brian w

Chad and trajan: I was going to bring up the Gotham thing, but I looked at the big double-page spread a bit more, and it seems Jeanty did just enough to make it look a bit more “easternized.” I still don’t think it looked as it should, but it didn’t look quite as “frontiersy” as it did on first glance. I just think Morrison wanted to use Jonah Hex, so he implied Gotham was more western than it really would have been.

FGJ: I flipped through Action after the cliffhanger from last issue, and it just didn’t look all that interesting.

Derek: That’s very cool to know. Marillion is my favorite band, hence their large presence on my iPod, and I dig Fish’s solo work too.

SamL: As you point out, Magnus is crazy, so I’m not sure if his portrayal is that positive! :) But speaking to your point and Wood’s (thanks for stopping by, sir!), when Christianity is a major factor in someone’s lives, it’s not a positive force, it seems. Brian mentions that everyone in “The Plague Widow” is Christian, which I should have noted, but because religion seems to have no impact on their lives, it’s not really pertinent what their religion is. Brian is right about Christianity, as a political force, doing some bad things during this time period, so I understand that he’s setting up this nice clash of civilizations, but The Dude is right – if everyone (including Hilda) is Christian in “The Plague Widow,” I wonder why she doesn’t take some comfort in her religion. Maybe I have to re-read it. As always, though, I love that the book makes me think about stuff like this, so I hope, Brian, that you don’t think I’m being too much of a jerk.

Matt: Nope, it’s not John Prine.

Steven: That’s why I’m reserving judgment on the book until the first arc is through. I still think he’s doing a better job than he did on UXM, though.

I’m excited to see if what is hinted to happen on the last page of Secret Avengers actually happens next issue. Should be cool.

I like Jeanty’s art, I didn’t realize that the issue was rushed so I was confused as to why it was so bad for him. Now I know.

Thanks, I appreciate you taking some of your time to elaborate on this.

I completely agree that the era when Northlanders takes place wasn’t Christianity’s finest hour. And I’ve been reading the book since the beginning and I certainly don’t think that you have an anti-Christian agenda.

It’s just that I share Greg’s opinion about the rarity of positive portrayals of Christians in comics and other mediums, and I wanted to know how you approach that when writing Christian characters in Northlanders, especially since in my opinion, character development has always been one of your greatest strengths as a writer.

Anyway, I’m in this book for the long run and I’m looking forward to this next story arc(and hopefully it will have more lines like the one about “their nailed god” in The Shield Maidens. I enjoyed that one).

Brian: I think the “problem,” if we can call it that, is that you’re writing about cultures, and with Christianity in the Middle Ages, you can’t really separate the culture from the religion. It seems like you find the Vikings’ culture more admirable, either because, as you point out, they had a bit of a better track record in some areas, or because that’s the focus of the book. The culture of Christianity was, naturally, more hierarchical and patriarchal than a typical pagan culture, and perhaps it’s not surprising that, in our culture that recognizes that maybe, just maybe, all women aren’t whores, they would come off looking not as great. The interesting thing about pantheism is that it never appears as aggressively proselytizing as Christianity, perhaps because it doesn’t have a structured organization nor one holy book, and so the clergy in Northlanders do come off as looking worse because spreading the word is part of their mission. As you point out, “The Plague Widow” features a Christian community, but because they’re not clashing with any alien culture, just among themselves, it doesn’t become such an obvious “us-vs.-them” dynamic. And I look forward to seeing Erik’s journey between the two cultures pulling at him.

@Greg – I DO think people in The Plague Widow take comfort in their god and their religion… or they try to, because please bear in mind the story is about a plague that’s killing everyone around them, so more often than not they wonder why their god is failing them. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable reaction in this case, and I think anyone in any religion in any point in time suffer those crisises of faith in times of trouble. And I disagree about it not being pertinent… I think the Northlanders’ character’s religions, whatever they may be, are nothing BUT pertinent… as you agreed, its a big part of what the series is about.

@The Dude – Northlanders is what it is, and because of the era it takes place in, Christianity will tend to be shown in a particular light. I’m sure if I were to write a series set in the Italian Renaissance, let’s say, these things would be different. I personally feel that art and architecture is that religion’s greatest gift to the world.

b

@greg
“It seems like you find the Vikings’ culture more admirable, either because, as you point out, they had a bit of a better track record in some areas, or because that’s the focus of the book.”

I really made a point to NOT say that… that comment about women aside, which was about pagan religions in general and not so specifically about Vikings, I did say I find this belief in gods to be equally ignorant. Such was the times.

b

Brian: Ha! Touché, sir.

@ Derek & Greg,

F1SH as license plate is tha awesome. I can certainly understand why he didn’t go with D1CK.

Derek, you should go up and introduce yourself some day; you are, after all, namesakes.

You’re a Doctor Who fan. Do you ever get Kieron Gillen and Karen Gillan confused? What do you think would happen if they teamed up?

random question/observation that this post made me think of… will hellblazer (in 2 1/2 years) be the ONLY comic series launched in the 1980s to reach a 300th issue? i can’t think of a single other.

marvel’s main 1980s series launches were x-factor, new mutants, punisher, wolverine, alpha flight, gijoe, excalibur, avengers west coast, and web of spider-man, but i don’t think any of those even reached a 200th issue.

dc gave us new teen titans, swamp thing, legion of super-heroes, animal man, doom patrol, sandman, green arrow, wonder woman, justice league, flash, suicide squad, and superman, but the most long-lasting of those were finally put to rest after infinite crisis. i suppose the post-crisis superman relaunch never technically ended, but they renumbered it so we’ll never actually see a #300.

and i don’t think any non-big 2 series from the 1980’s even reached a 100th issue.

is there something i’m forgetting?

if you were asked in 1990 to bet on any series from the 1980s to reach a #300, would ANYONE have picked hellblazer?

and now that i think about it, i don’t believe a single series from the 1970s reached a 300th issue (conan ended at #275).

the lack of title longevity is just something interesting to think about–300 monthly issues is exactly 25 years, so will hellblazer really be the only post-1970 series to last 25 years? bizarre.

ha! forgot about cerebus.

maybe hellblazer will have to settle for being the only post-1970 series to have an issue #301…

Better not let John Prine know someone mistook a Phil Collins lyric for his. That’s “The Roof Is Leaking” off his first album, “Face Value.”

Also, lots of Marillion on that iPod. I approve.

Anthony: I am actually NOT a Doctor Who fan. That’d be Mr. Reed. But when I saw that Karen Gillan (who’s so cute I ALMOST started watching!) was on the show, I did a double take, because I thought the doctor’s new sidekick might just be Mr. Gillen. That would have been a weird dynamic.

Third Man: You are correct … that is weird.

Mike: Good call on the lyrics. I saw Collins sing it on PBS once – he was doing an “unplugged” kind of thing before it was hip, and his live version was amazing. I can’t often say that about Collins!

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 30, 2010 at 10:51 am

What?!? No Walking Dead # 75?

Tsk Tsk Tsk. You’re slipping in your young age.

Tom: I’m well behind on my Walking Dead trades. As it’s constantly in print, I never feel the great need to get them. I enjoy the series, though.

Not a Scott Pilgrim reader?

Hey man, can you send me that Black Panther book after you’re done with it? Thx.

Lord Paradise: I read the first issue and famously didn’t like it, much to the chagrin of its legion of fans. Everyone tells me it gets better, but I’ll probably wait until I can get the volumes for relatively cheap or from the library to read them again. It just wasn’t for me, I guess.

The Ugly American

July 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm

He’ll fight for his freedom wherever there’s trouble,

The Lord of Night Terrors is there.

LORD OF NIGHT TERRORS!!!!

X-Factor has lasted over 200 issues (which you can see by looking at the reviews above), but I guess it doesn’t really count since it wasn’t continuous.

Time travel makes Greg’s brain hurt, so we don’t want him watching Doctor Who. It would kill him.

I can’t believe you’d spend 65 dollars— retail, Burgas!– on one comics hardcover. That is more than I (try to) spend on comics in two months.

Well, that’s 65 dollars minus 20%, so it was only 52 dollars. Isn’t that better?

funkygreenjerusalem

July 30, 2010 at 11:10 pm

FGJ: I flipped through Action after the cliffhanger from last issue, and it just didn’t look all that interesting.

From Luthor stealing fire from the gods, to him protecting a small town in the will west, to Mr. Mind Jr breaking the 4th wall, and none of it interested you?

Crazy!

I also think you’re missing out by not following Flash and Justice League – Generation Lost.
Both are kicking much more ass than one would have first suspected.

FGJ: No, the fact that it was all taking place in his headand kept resetting didn’t interest me. Although Inception, as good as it was, would have been better if it had been more like the issue!

That said, if I keep hearing good things about the arc, I’ll probably end up getting it in trade.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 31, 2010 at 10:01 am

That said, if I keep hearing good things about the arc, I’ll probably end up getting it in trade.

I’ll take that to heart!

I’m certain this run will be awesome.

Though, two issues in, I wish I was seeing Lex take on the galaxy already.

The 1980s were the Greatest Decade in Comic Book History.

“and i don’t think any non-big 2 series from the 1980’s even reached a 100th issue.”

Archie Comics relaunched both Jughead and Betty & Veronica with new #1s in the late 80s, and Veronica got a solo title around the same time. All of those have made it to #200 and are still going.

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