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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 17 November 2010

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of those you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry. (Ernest Hemingway, from A Farewell to Arms)

The chick on the cover looks NOTHING like the chick inside - it's two different artists, but come on! Gotta love the yellow oval! Do the Republicans know that Batman is selling us out to the United Nations? Why is the Russian girl a Rastafarian? He looks more like a dandy than a punk, doesn't he? Arrrrgggghhhhh!!!!  A photo cover! Well, he doesn't look pleasant It's all dark and spooky!!!! What's she looking at? Is he moving?  He's blurry! That hand needs to clutch that gun more securely, I reckon WTF?  A Greg Land cover I don't hate?  Has the world gone mad?!?!?!? Their dentists' bills must be astronomical! Why so very dark? Zombie Vikings!!!!  Or are they Viking Zombies? More historical fiction! Yay!  More Talbot goodness! Secret societies RULE! Alternate dimensions RULE!

After Dark #2 (of 3) by Peter Milligan (writer), Leonardo Manco (artist), Kinsun Loh (painter), Jerry Choo (painter), Sansan Saw (painter), Clayton Cowles (letterer). $4.99, 48 pgs, FC, Radical Comics.

I received this in the mail, so I’d like to thank whoever it was at Radical who sent it to me. It’s always swell of them!

As with almost every Radical book, I’m torn about this comic. The hook remains interesting – a group of adventurers are traveling across a blasted and polluted earth looking for a woman who can bring light back to the world. And while it might not be Milligan’s best work, it’s certainly better than some series on which he worked where he simply checked out (whether it was because of editorial interference or his own disinterest I don’t know). There’s some good writing in this book, as Milligan creates a very weird atmosphere of paranoia and oppression, where the crew members are stuck together and it feels like things could go horribly wrong at any moment. The only woman on the team, Ana, wanders off by herself at one point (in the city where they think Angel – the woman for whom they’re searching – might be living) and meets up with some punks who, of course, have nasty designs on her. It’s not that Milligan puts her in danger – she’s a badass, so she can easily take out the punks – it’s that he shows a much more disturbed layer to Ana than we’ve seen so far, and she was pretty odd to begin with. And he also gives us a baby who can speak like an adult and is apparently far older than anyone on board. I don’t know about you, but babies who speak like adults freak me the hell out. I hate those commercials!

Manco draws this issue, and like his other Radical book, it’s pretty good although also over-reliant on photo-referencing and the slickness of Radical’s colorists. Unlike many other artists, the best work on this book is in the non-human stuff, from the backgrounds to the weird creatures that attack the ship, because it seems Manco can do some stranger things with the art, as opposed to the people, who look like airbrushed gorgeous people even though they’re supposed to be on some grungy mission. Still, Manco knows what he’s doing, so the art is a notch better than most Radical books, although it’s not as good as Greg Tocchini’s on The Last Days of American Crime or Paul Gulacy’s on Time Bomb or the crown jewel of Radical’s line so far, Steve Pugh’s on Hotwire. But it’s not bad at all.

Plot-wise, this ends with what I hope is something different than what I think it is, because that would be awfully predictable. But Milligan has done a good job setting up this weird, horrible future world, and it will be interesting to see how he wraps up this story.

One totally Airwolf panel:

That's not the way you introduce yourself to a new species!

Batman: The Return #1 (“Planet Gotham”) by Grant “Why don’t you trust me, fanboys?” Morrison (writer), David Finch (penciller), Batt (inker), Ryan Winn (inker), Peter Steigerwald (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $4.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC.

Some people claim that Morrison is so much smarter than the average comic book reader that when they criticize his work, they’re just dim. That may certainly be so – he’s smarter than I am, for instance, as I didn’t even know we had an Internet 2.0 and there’s Batman giving us a 3.0 version! – but let’s consider Batman: The Return, which has some script pages in the back. When Batman knocks the bad guy and the boy off the building, he disarms the bomb in mid-air, which, let’s face it, is pretty bad-ass. But in the script, Morrison writes that “Batman is using the pick in his teeth to defuse the bomb (my emphasis).” We don’t see this at all in the artwork, and while I don’t mind that at all, are readers dim for wondering where the pick came from? Is it Finch’s fault? Should Morrison have written something about showing Batman reaching toward his mouth? Again, this doesn’t bother me at all – I just assumed he pulled it from his glove, to be honest – but does this mean that Morrison is sloppy and maybe gaps in his scripts are his fault? Later, we see the big bad bad guy – the Heretic, apparently (see below). Morrison names him in the script but never does in the comic. Is the Heretic going to play a large part in Morrison’s corner of the Bat-verse, or are he and Leviathan (the evil organization that employs him) going to be in Finch’s book? If he’s Morrison’s baby and when next they’re talking about the Heretic and we don’t know who they’re talking about, does that make us dim? Not everyone reads scripts in the back of the book, after all.

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I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate a bit here, because I loved this issue (with a minor exception to which I’ll get soon) and thought it set up the new status quo quite well (except if Stephanie doesn’t want to go to England because she has a life in Gotham, I would remind her that she could, you know, quit). The beginning (well, after the bat sequence) is thrilling, the ending is creepy, and even the scene with Traktir (who’s obviously supposed to be a bit ridiculous) is very good. Morrison does a good job explaining why Damian has to stay with Dick, and he tantalizes us all with that Bat-girl design for Barbara (if that’s indeed for her – it’s not Stephanie holding the paper, because she has gloves on). I’m a bigger fan of Finch than, it seems, a lot of people ’round these parts, and for the most part, he does a very nice job. He’s still not great at faces – they all look the same – but his action sequences are pretty keen. The biggest problem I had with the art is Lucius. Why, oh why does he look like an antebellum butler? I mean, really. He’s not only wearing a bow tie and an ugly striped jacket, they’ve aged him to the point where he looks like he can’t do anything except serve mint juleps to Miss Veronica on the porch of Oak Alley plantation (which I’ve visited; it’s quite nice). Back before Morgan Freeman, Lucius was a slightly-older contemporary of Bruce Wayne who looked like a businessman and had a hot wife. I don’t know who this old fart is, but he’d probably be more comfortable hanging out with Jessica Tandy than running Bruce Wayne’s mega-corporation. Sigh.

Anyway, this is a very cool start to the new Batman direction. I do enjoy the DC Nation editorial by Scott Snyder in the back of this month’s books. He claims his run on Detective will “constitute a kind of back-to-basics approach.” I love when incoming writers say that – it’s kind of what you have to say if you take over, say, Fantastic Four. I haven’t been reading Detective recently, but isn’t Paul Dini the outgoing writer? Didn’t he himself do a “back-to-basics approach”? How much more basic is Snyder going to get? (Of course, I’m definitely giving the book a look – Jock and Francavilla, man – but I love when writers say that. When I write Detective – it could happen! – I’m going to say either that it’s so back-to-basics it’s Batman solving crimes … in the womb! or go the opposite direction – Batman as Ninja Space Ranger! It would work, I tells ya! Gimme a call Danny D!)

One totally Airwolf panel:

Batman meets Boussh!

Batman, Inc. #1 (“Mr. Unknown is Dead”) by Grant “I love me some tentacle rape!” Morrison (writer), Yanick Paquette (penciller), Michel Lacombe (inker), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), and John J. Hill (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, DC.

Remember back in the day, when the God of All Comics promised us a return to the “hairy-chested love god” Batman that he, as an adolescent in the early 1970s, read and loved? Oh, it was going to be all Neal Adams posing and fighting Ra’s al Ghul with swords but no shirts while Talia got weak in the knees, and we would love it, because our Deity told us we would!!!!! Well, four years later, this issue is the closest Morrison has gotten, and hot damn, it’s pretty awesome. This is probably his best Batman issue since the “Club of Heroes” arc, even including all those rather good Batman and Robin issues, mainly because it’s not dragged down by the cool-at-first-but-dull-by-the-end Simon Hurt, who has colored far too much of Morrison’s run. This issue introduces the “Batman, Incorporated” concept, as Bats and Catwoman head off to Tokyo to find out what happened to Mr. Unknown, Japan’s most awesometerrific buster of crimes, whom Batman wants to recruit. As you might expect from the title of this issue, that’s not going to happen. But Batman has bigger things to worry about, as Mr. Unknown’s killer has some plan or another that, of course, must be thwarted. And, apparently, there’s another Japanese crimefighter who’s not bad at his job either.

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This is just a balls-to-the-wall exciting issue. Batman and Catwoman break into Dr. Sivana’s lab for some reason, where they encounter killer robot mice and invisible sentries. Of course. And Bruce and Selina, with nothing to do in Tokyo, get it on. I mean, why wouldn’t they? They don’t even keep their masks on! And the GoAC pokes fun at the concept of tentacle rape, too, in a suitably goofy moment, and even manages to have some fun with Catwoman’s attire at the same time. The issue keeps moving, introducing new threats but also doing a nice job with Bruce and Selina’s weird relationship – are they antagonists with benefits? Paquette is a fine artist for the book, as his clean style fits well with the slightly more superheroic tone Morrison is going for. Poor Kelly T., though, as Selina is awfully unzipped throughout most of the issue – I imagine Kelly sitting there, pulling out her hair, while her poor boyfriend makes her yet another cup of chamomile tea and tries to talk her off the ledge by waving Love and Rockets comics at her. “Here you go, sweetie – look, they’re all wearing sensible clothes!” See below for one such aneurysm-causing panels!

Anyway, I really like this issue and hope the new series is as crazy fun as this issue is. And if Morrison wants to give us Adams’ hairy-chested love god, perhaps he should tell Paquette that Bruce does NOT indulge in manscaping. I mean, look at him – he’s like an Olympic swimmer! Sheesh.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Two reasons why this panel is Airwolf: 1. Giant Robot Mouse! 2. Like every panel in this book with Selina, it makes Kelly Thompson absolutely livid, and who doesn't love that?

Ghost Projekt #5 (of 5) (“Requiem”) by Joe Harris (writer), Steve Rolston (artist), Dean Trippe (colorist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

Ghost Projekt is a bit late, but that’s okay, and I’m just glad it finished. It’s a very well done, wonderfully drawn mini-series, and I encourage you to get the trade (I think there’s a hardcover coming out, which might be a bit spendy, but you should definitely get a softcover if it appears). Harris tells a good story with decent but not inexplicable twists – one reveal in this issue is fairly obvious, but the ending makes up for it – and delivers a nice horror story that isn’t just like any other one – most horror stories don’t have Genghis Khan in a crucial role, for instance. Harris goes Indiana Jones on us at the end in a nice homage, and Rolston draws it all expertly – his cartoony style might, as I’ve pointed out, clash with the tone Harris is going for, but throughout the book he’s balanced the clean storytelling with some good, darker stuff – I still love his Genghis Khan – that keeps the book from drowning in seriousness but still gives us a good idea of how spooky things are around the project. There’s one thing I’m unsure about, and it concerns Anya, but I can speculate and I might have to re-read the entire series to see if it was foreshadowed. It doesn’t bother me too much, though.

Go read Ghost Projekt. You won’t be disappointed!

One totally Airwolf panel:

You understand NOTHING!

Hellblazer #273 (“Bloody Carnations Part Three: Squaring the Circle”) by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouter), Stefano Landini (finisher), Simon Bisley (artist), Trish Mulvihill (colorist), Brian Buccellato (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Whenever nudity shows up in my Vertigo comic, I wonder about the nudity policy at Vertigo. Male junk is, of course, usually verboten, mainly because the biggest audience for comics is still, I assume, heterosexual men, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that even seeing another man’s penis will turn you gay! (That’s just SCIENCE, folks.) But what about the fairer sex? Boobs are fair game, of course, as are asses (even seeing a male ass won’t turn you gay, because if you see a random ass, you can’t really tell if it’s a dude or a chick). Ah, but then we get to holy grail of nudity, and that’s where I begin to wonder. In this issue, Gloria the succubus is trying to seduce John so he forgets all about Epiphany. She’s nekkid for the first four pages of the issue, and when John throws her out on the street (he’s not too happy about the attempted seduction), we see, in a long shot, what appears to be pubic hair (yes, I examine some comics this closely – don’t judge me!). Yet later, when it’s much more of a close-up (she’s standing up talking to Nergal), Camuncoli apparently deliberately draws her long hair to obscure her hoo-ha. I’m always very puzzled by this, and I wonder what the editorial direction is when nudity in a Vertigo book is involved. I can’t imagine it’s too restrictive, so do the writer and artist self-censor? Because I know we’ve seen a woman’s naughty bits in Vertigo comics before, so I can’t imagine it’s a line-wide editorial fiat. Yes, this is what I think about occasionally. Deal with it.

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As has been the case for a while with Milligan’s run, this is a very good read, as Epiphany’s father shows up and surely will plan something nasty for John, while 1979 John finishes his exorcism and then uses a really lame line on Epiphany … except it works! And then 2010 John meets 1979 John. You knew that was coming!

Milligan also gives John’s sister a brief guest-shot. Does this mean that Gemma is now 31 years old? I don’t know when the last time we saw Gemma was, but if John ages in real time, so does she, right? Can anyone confirm what’s going on with the rest of John’s family? I don’t recall them showing up in Milligan’s run so far. It’s been two years, though, so I may have forgotten. I do that.

Good stuff, as usual. Long live the nekkidness!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Those succubi - stylish to the end!

Honey West #2 (“Killer on the Keys Part 2: Requiem for a Dressmaker”) by Trina Robbins (writer), Cynthia Martin (artist), Ken Wolak (colorist), and Marshall Dillon (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Moonstone.

Who doesn’t love photo covers? Maoists, that’s who. Don’t be like Mao! I was curious about the model who posed for this issue’s cover, so I used the magic of Google to find her. Although her last name is spelled incorrectly on the inside cover (McLachlIn rather than McLachlAn), I have to imagine it’s this young woman, who’s 26 years old and has starred in several movies you’ve never heard of. She looks slightly different on the cover than she does in real life – a bit older, frankly. I wonder if it’s the makeup or something. I don’t know – I’m not a chick. I do find it interesting that she’s wearing a wedding ring. Ms. McLachlan (Hollis? really?) might be married, but Honey West certainly isn’t, so I wonder why they either provided that to her or didn’t ask her to take it off. Bizarre.

I want to like Honey West, the series, but it’s just not working for me. Martin’s art, while sufficiently 1960s-retro, is a bit too stiff, and Robbins gives us a two-issue story that feels like she wants it to be four or five issues – it seems to zip along unnecessarily, as she could have taken a bit more time to let the story breathe a bit. Given the erratic publishing schedule of Moonstone’s books, one-and-done or two-and-done stories are probably the way to go, but that means this is a rather superficial murder mystery. Robbins does a decent job with the culture clash of the late 1960s, but not enough. I did pre-order issue #3, so we’ll see about that when it shows up, but right now, it doesn’t look like something I’ll be keeping up with. Oh well.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Don't do drugs, kids!

Kill Shakespeare #7 (of 12) (“The Play’s the Thing”) by Conor McCreery (writer), Anthony Del Col (writer), Andy Belanger (artist), Ian Herring (colorist), and Chris Mowry (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW.

Kill Shakespeare enters its second half without missing a beat or a month, which is a nice change from so many other books that get further and further behind schedule. This isn’t quite a recap issue, but it is a quieter one, as a troupe of players show up in Shrewsbury and put on a play, one that has remarkable similarities to the death of Hamlet’s father (it is, of course, “The Murder of Gonzago,” the same play that Hamlet arranges in the actual Shakespeare play). So Hamlet freaks out and runs into a fun house, where Juliet finds him and they both confess their sins, basically. It’s a gripping few pages, and because McCreery and Del Col have taken their time getting there, it feels more powerful. We know these characters relatively well, so when they break down and admit their failures, it’s a good moment. Belanger really knocks this out of the park, giving us page after page of full-page spreads with individual panels placed over them, many framed by theater curtains to heighten the arch metafictional feel of the issue. I don’t know how much lead time Belanger had for this series or if he just works very fast, but his page design is getting better as the book progresses, and it doesn’t appear that he’s slowing down at all. I wondered if after the first half of the book was over the team might take a break, and I’m glad that they don’t appear to be doing that. It’s quite cool.

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The trade of the first six issues is out, and it’s a good book to pick up. It’s clever and exciting and gorgeous – don’t let the Patton Oswalt endorsement on the cover of this issue scare you off!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Seriously - don't do drugs!

Morning Glories #4 by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (artist), Alex Sollazzo (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Image/Shadowline.

I’m not sure about that cover. On the one hand, I like when artists mess with the traditional format, and the fact that the walls are closing in on the kids and the title is written on the two walls meeting in the corner and the Image logo acts almost like a window is pretty keen. On the other hand, it’s awfully dark, and I wonder if people who might not have picked up the first three issues might avoid this one just because it’s so dark. Beats me. I don’t love the cover, but I like that Esquejo is doing different things with them.

Morning Glories continues to vex me, because it’s a fun, exciting comic with lots of twists and turns, but it also feels a bit hollow. Chad Nevett and Tim Callahan, whose podcast is wildly addictive even though it’s ridiculously long (three hours, guys?) talked about T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents last week, and Tim said that he likes Spencer because of his deft characterization. But that’s the main problem with this comic. I get that these kids are prodigies, but nobody seems all that put out by the weirdness going on around them, from mysterious deaths to rooms filling with water to evil nurses. Maybe we’re supposed to believe they’re all sociopaths (the rich dude whose name escapes me certainly is), but they seem to take all this strangeness in complete stride, and it doesn’t feel right. Spencer obviously is going for a breakneck pace on the comic, and that’s cool, but I do hope we get a little bit more about how the kids are feeling. Hunter reveals a bit about himself in this issue, and I was happy that the other kids just didn’t fall in line and start sharing – that would have been terrible – but at some point, I’d really like to know what’s going on in these kids’ heads a little more. We shall see.

One totally Airwolf panel:

I wish I had known that in high school!

Northlanders #34 (“Metal Part 5: War”) by Brian Wood (writer), Riccardo Burchielli (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

This is the most disappointing arc of Northlanders so far, for a couple of reasons. First, Wood goes a bit supernatural in this arc, and it feels like such a huge shift away from the rest of the stories that it just doesn’t work. Second, the religious ideas are never really brought to full fruition. Erik begins by killing Christians on the orders of the Elder Norse Gods, but then he realizes that gods are not to be trusted? It’s not only obvious, but Wood reaches that conclusion in the most blunt way possible – the goddess who is telling Erik what to do turns evil and reveals her treachery. Had Erik reached the conclusion in a different, more subtle way, the story might have worked, but told in this way, it doesn’t feel like Erik earns that knowledge. I’m sure I’m missing the point, but that’s because I’m not very bright, I guess. I’ll just look forward to the next arc.

Burchielli does a cool job with the climactic fight, though. I might not like the supernatural elements in it, but it looks pretty keen.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Who wouldn't like to keep a woman as a pet?

Osborn #1 (of 5) by Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer), Warren Ellis (writer, “The Prime of Miss June Covington”), Emma Ríos (artist), Jamie McKelvie (artist, “The Prime of Miss June Covington”), José Villarrubia (colorist), Matt Wilson (colorist, “The Prime of Miss June Covington”), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $3.99, 29 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I actually ended up getting two comics that people voted for, mainly because this and Thunderbolts were the clear winners and I couldn’t make up my mind. That’s just how I roll, people!

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I’ve been moving toward getting Marvel and DC mini-series in trades, and this is a good example of why. There’s nothing wrong with this issue – I quite liked it – but not a lot happens. It’s mostly set-up, and while it’s an interesting foundation, it’s mostly mood establishment and putting people into places. DeConnick takes Norman Osborn out of the Raft and ships him off to a “privately operated facility.” A few senators decide this is the best thing for him, as he hasn’t actually been charged with a crime yet and they can’t really figure out what to do with him. The “facility” houses some really creepy bad guys, all of whom are tended to by a priest who … well, you can’t really trust priests, can you? Meanwhile, a co-worker of Peter Parker’s, the most annoying woman in the Marvel Universe (it pains me that she’s named Norah, as my similarly-named daughter is not annoying at all), rants to Peter about not doing her job and letting Osborn take control of the Avengers, and later she finds out that Osborn has simply disappeared. So there’s a subplot.

The back-up story is a clever little tale about a crazy woman. I have no idea why it’s been included (Osborn is in two panels, so there’s that), but Ellis just might know how to write a story, and McKelvie is, well, McKelvie.

Ríos is a good artist, although there are a couple of problems with her figure work. You see Peter Parker below, and he just doesn’t look like Peter. He looks like a slacker guitarist for an emo band, which is fine if you’re drawing an indy comic about an emo band, but he just doesn’t look like Peter Parker. One of the senators is off, too – he’s weirdly androgynous (he’s definitely a man, though) and looks in his early 20s. Senators have to be at least 30, and even if I can squint and believe the dude is 30 years old, there’s no way he has enough seniority to be in on top-secret decisions like the one to “disappear” Osborn. Other than that, Ríos’s art is good, but those two people are just weird.

I’m not sure what’s going on with this “cult of Norman Osborn” that’s going on in this comic (the cultists are tattooed with that Goblin art in the title). Is this a new thing? Has it been established in Spider-Man comics or back when Osborn was running things? It seems odd – why would a sect grow up around Osborn? If DeConnick invented it, I hope she gives us some backstory about it.

I’ll probably still wait for the trade on this, but it’s a good start. Who doesn’t love South American chimera gods in their comics?

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yes, that's Peter Parker, and apparently, he's ... gay?

The Sixth Gun #6 by Cullen Bunn (writer), Brian Hurtt (artist/letterer), and Bill Crabtree (colorist). $3.99, 34 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun finishes its first story arc, and it continues to be a truly wonderful reading experience. This is basically a big fight issue, as the general and his minions reach the Maw and it’s on! Of course, a prophecy comes true, and the real villain behind everything is revealed (it’s not like it was hard to figure out), and Hurtt draws the hell out of it. I don’t know what else to say about it. It’s a tremendous comic book, and I hope you get the trade, because I hope this book lasts as long as Bunn and Hurtt want to do it.

One totally Airwolf panel:

You really never want to see a hand do that

Thunderbolts #150 (“Old Scores”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Kev Walker (artist), Frank Martin (colorist), Fabio D’Auria (colorist), Richard Starkings (letterer), and Albert Deschesne (letterer). $4.99, 48 pgs + reprint of Thunderbolts #1, FC, Marvel.

If you’re going to buy an issue of Thunderbolts, I suppose this is the one to get, because it’s pretty much self-contained. Luke Cage, Crossbones, Juggernaut, Ghost, and Man-Thing are going to be evaluated by Steve Rogers, Iron Man, and Thor. Ghost figures out a way to futz with Man-Thing’s teleportation abilities so he, Crossbones, and Juggernaut, can escape, but it goes a bit wrong and they all end up in another dimension. So Luke and the Avengers have to round them up. Let the battle begin!

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It’s a fun issue. Crossbones has gotten some weird power recently in the series, and he goes after Steve. Iron Man takes care of Ghost in an interesting way. Luke stands up for his team even though he doesn’t like them very much. The water in the dimension has some strange power that shows people differently – the frog-man they meet in the dimension says it might be their true selves or an answer to a puzzle. Parker does a nice job showing how each person views themselves in the water, leading up to the final person to look into it, which is a nice bit. I’m a bit unsure why the frog-man changed so much in the other dimension, but Parker does get a good gag out of it.

Walker is tremendous, giving us a grand action issue with great, choreographed fights that look like they actually take a toll out of the participants. It’s a visceral issue, with desperate men doing desperate things, and Walker kicks butt on it. He has a kind of a harder-edged Stuart Immonen vibe to the art, and it’s really good for a book about superpowered people who aren’t quite as squeaky-clean as the Avengers.

The reprint of Thunderbolts #1 is interesting partly because I’ve never actually read it (even though I know what happens in it) but also because it’s amazing how painful late-1990s Marvel writing was. Kurt Busiek is a good writer, but this is a tough issue to get through – there’s a lot of extraneous information that we can easily figure out on our own, and the prose is extremely purple. Marvel was guilty of this more than DC was at this time, if I recall correctly, but even so, I’m glad we’ve moved beyond this period of comics writing. Sheesh.

Anyway, I don’t know if Parker and Walker are still working on Thunderbolts, but I may have to think about checking the next issue out. That’s how much fun this issue was!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Thor can swear with the best of them!

Warlord of Mars #2 (“A Tale of Two Planets, Part 2″) by Arvid Nelson (writer), Stephen Sadowski (artist), Adriano Lucas (colorist), Troy Peteri (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

I find it interesting that on Mars, the women are supposed to be as brave as the men or they’re thrown from the Cliff of Sighs (no!), but they’re still property. I mean, why would they be expected to be so brave when they’re basically chattel? It’s very weird.

Nelson continues with the split stories here, as John Carter loses a partner but discovers some strange cave paintings that indicate that the Apaches are all-too-familiar with the Martians. Then he somehow leaves his body and disappears while looking at Mars. According to him, he spent ten years on Mars, and I wonder what happened to his body in that time. Wouldn’t it decay? Oh well. Then Tars turns away the challenge from Tarkas and gets to keep his women. How nice for him. Both stories are fine, and I’m glad Nelson got John to Mars quickly, because that’s where the real fun will begin!

I’m a bit disappointed that Sadowski is apparently off the book, at least for the next two issues. What the crap is up with that? I don’t have a problem with Lui Antonio, the new artist, but why would Sadowski only do the first two? Behind-the-scenes stuff makes me head hurt.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Luckily, he has three more!

Whispers in the Walls #4 (of 6) by David Muñoz (writer), Tirso (artist), Javi Montes (colorist), Silvia Villamisar (coloring assistant), and Alex Donoghue (translator). $3.50, 27 pgs, FC, Humanoids.

I really wish this comic weren’t so dark. It’s really hard to figure out what’s going on. When you can see the art, it’s very nice, but Montes and Villamisar really crank up the black, and it’s kind of annoying. Maybe it looked better on European paper. Beats me. I have figured that I’m going to have to read all six issues in succession to really figure out what’s going on, because the characters don’t use a lot of names and while the overall plot is kind of straight-forward, some of the machinations within each issue are a bit puzzling. The really dark art doesn’t help, either.

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One totally Airwolf panel:

You probably don't want him coming at you like that!

X-Factor #211 (“Staying in Vegas”) by Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciler), Pat Davidson (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Hela’s a goddess, so I would imagine that she’s stronger than your mortal people, but whenever I see her hanging around in that ridiculous headdress, it cracks me up. She’s torturing Pip, lying on a fainting couch wearing a few tiny ribbons, and she has that headdress on. It’s so goofy. I can’t be the only one who feels this way!

I don’t have much to say about this. It’s Peter David, it’s beautifully drawn by Lupacchino, it’s funny and violent and guest-stars Thor. David just gets the characters – when Longshot is being a dick early in the issue, it feels like something he would do, not necessarily because he’s a dick, but because he’s very literal. And why wouldn’t Shatterstar think Thor is a tasty dish? Women do, so why not him? David’s plots are always interesting, but as usual, it’s the character work that really carries this comic. Yes, this is a big fight issue. But it’s a fun big fight issue. And that’s always good to see!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, Layla - you're so wacky!

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (writer), Derek Ruiz (adapter), Daniel Sampere (artist), Others (artists). $22.99, 187 pgs, FC, Harper One.

I will probably never read the prose version of this book. I have no interest in reading the prose version of this book. Yet I’m excited about the comics version. That means something. I just don’t know what.

Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot (writer/artist). $19.99, 96 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I didn’t love the first entry in this series of graphic novels, but I did love Talbot’s art, and the writing was fine, I just didn’t like his plot. So we’ll see what’s going on in this one!

Mirror Mirror by Joshua Williamson (writer), Lee Moder (artist), Jon Alderink (colorist), and Bill Tortolini (letterer). $14.99, 82 pgs, FC, Kickstart Comics.

Remember when Lee Moder drew Wonder Woman and he was kind of an Adam Hughes clone? I liked that guy. I still like his art, but not as much as that guy’s stuff.

Rift Raiders by Mark Sable (writer), Julian Totino Tedesco (artist), Juan Manuel Tumburús (colorist), and Bill Tortolini (letterer). $14.99, 88 pgs, FC, Kickstart Comics.

Sable, Tedesco, and Tumbuús brought us Unthinkable, which wasn’t bad. The art on this looks better, which is neat-o.

The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “I Don’t Want to Know (If You Don’t Want Me)”Donnas (2004) “And I sure hope that was your sister”
2. “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”Pogues (1985) “But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared, then turned their faces away”1
3. “Galileo”Indigo Girls (1992) “And now I’m serving time for mistakes made by another in another lifetime”2
4. “What the … Are We Saying?”Lenny Kravitz (1991) “They wind us up, put us down, and watch us go”
5. “Times Like These”Foo Fighters (2002) “Do I stay or run away and leave it all behind?”
6. “Gave Up”Nine Inch Nails (1992) “Covered in hope and vaseline, still cannot fix this broken machine”
7. “We Are Together” – Indigo Girls (1999) “And though I said I did not care it was way before we’d gotten there”
8. “Alien Lover”Luscious Jackson (1999) “Hear my whisper when I tell you I’m your sister”
9. “Life’s Been Good”Joe Walsh (1978) “It’s tough to handle this fortune and fame; everybody’s so different, I haven’t changed”
10. “The Night You Can’t Remember”Magnetic Fields (1999) “You said nobody loves me, and I said wanna bet?”

1 iTunes has the name of this album as Rum, S***** & the Lash. Is “sodomy” that horrible a word?
2 I never understood why Galileo was the only one who did enough to stop the cycle of reincarnation. I mean, sure, he did a lot in the pursuit of knowledge, but so did a lot of others. I suppose he fit the rhythm and rhyme, and that’s all there is to it.

It’s time for totally random lyrics!

“Could I write a requiem for you when you’re dead?
‘She had the moves, she had the speed, it went to her head’
She never needed anyone to get her ’round the track
But when she’s on her back
She had the knowledge
To get her into college”

I apologize for the tardiness of this post. Illness has swept the Burgas household in the past few days, and I am just getting over a fever, which, as you might know, makes you unable or indifferent to doing much that requires thought. My older daughter is the only one who has escaped unscathed yet, and I really hope she doesn’t get sick, because that’s no fun. Anyway, I know how much some of you love mocking everything I read and listen to, so I’m sorry you had to wait for your chance. Have at it!


The woman in the Osborn back up is the woman from the creepy prison. That is why it was in there. I assume there will be one an issue.

Belle and Sebastiannnnnnnn! I bought their new album. It is solid; the title track, with background vocals by Carey Mulligan, is best.

I am buying The Sixth Gun trade, so have no fear.

To be honest, I’d expect Dick Grayson to be wearing the yellow oval. But he’s not! Wacky!

Michael: Yeah, duh. I just missed that, because I’m dim.

Huh. I thought the lyrics would be a tiny bit harder. Damn you, Reed!

While I am an idiot when it comes to 97% of music, I do have some eclectic areas of expertise.

In a side note, there are depictions of japanese tentacle porn that goes as far back as the early XIX century!

Now you know.

I haven’t read the latest Amazing Spider-man (#648), but I did read the one before (#647) and in that one, Vin Gonzalez (Peter’s roommate at the beginning of Brand New Day) threatens Harry Osborn to take good care of his baby (Harry just had a baby) and then shows him a tattoo of a green goblin on his arm. I think that was supposed to be the first appearance of such a tattoo.

I am not a fan of that development, because Vinnie was a good guy. If he turns bad, that means more reasons for Peter to feel guilty.

I am surprised you find Norah annoying, I think she’s hilarious. Most of the time she makes an appearance in Amazing Spider-man, I get a nice laugh out of it. Joe Kelly usually does a very good job with her (I think he’s the one that created her and there’s a fun short story written by him in Amazing Spider-man #647 about Norah).

The Sixth Gun is one of the best comics on the stands right now. I hope they can keep it going for a long time.

I thought the same thing about Morning Glories, but it seems to me that Spencer is going for a “The Prisoner” vibe with the comic. In that series, Number Six never seemed very freaked out by all the craziness around him.

Oh, by the way, two positive Morrison reviews? That must’ve been one hell of a fever! :-)

“Yes, that’s Peter Parker, and apparently, he’s … gay?”

Haven’t picked this issue up yet, so I can’t comment with any authority because I haven’t read it. But the way I interpret that lone panel, she (Norah?) is slurping a noodle with skill and making a sexual innuendo, and Peter’s immediately all “Check please!”, which suggests to me he wants to get out of there so they can be alone and get some.

On the other hand, that doesn’t sound much like Peter (but I’m out of the loop — is he a horndog now that he’s single again?) … so what’s going on, really? She made him uncomfortable and he just wanted to leave?

Enrique: I’ve only seen Norah in this one issue, and she seems like a fairly stereotypical wise-cracking, fast-talking sitcom female without much of a personality otherwise. Obviously, if other writers have done better things with her or if DeConnick gives us a bit more, I might change my mind, but based on this issue, I didn’t like her very much.

Rebis: You know, that didn’t even cross my mind. Peter just looks so uncomfortable in that drawing that I just assumed he thought she was totally serious and was terrified of the prospect. If they know each other even a little bit, I would expect more banter from him right back. If he thought she was serious, I’d think he’d be grinning a little bit.

Please re-read Batman – The Return regarding The Heretic. You are confused.

2 bits: I liked Lee Moder on Stars and STRIPE.

Your question about Rum Sodomy and the Lash reminds me that on AMC, (at least what I’ve seen in Mad Men and the Walking Dead ep 1 (haven’t gotten to the rest)) they’ll let us hearing people hear words like bitch and even, I think, damn, but on the closed captioning, you get b$^$%^ and D$%%. (or some sort of symbols censoring it) It’s weird that you can say it out loud, but you can’t read it on the screen.

Oh, yeah, comics. I’m still way behind on my Batman reading, and didn’t get to the comic store today. Ah well.

James: I’m confused because I missed the one reference to his name, which may or may not have been referring to him? Yeah, I guess so. I spotted it, though – my bad.

– I’m honestly not entirely convinced by Morrison’s Bat-work anymore. I really thought the tie-up of Simon Hurt’s origin was painfully convoluted and, to some extent, didn’t seem entirely planned out (heresy!). He was more interesting as a symblic “hole in things” than he was as…what was he, exactly? I took away that he’s a demon-worshipping looney Wayne ancestor gone bad who apparently ate Darkseid’s “hyper-adaptor” after mistaking it for Barbatos in bat form, but I’m not 100% on that. And Batman: The Return really felt like any of half a dozen writers could have produced it. Batman, Inc. felt like a Morrison bat-book, though, so maybe The Return one-shot is just a long trailer for Finch’s debut as writer-artist. But Batman, Inc.’s first issue also feels a lot like a rehash of the Club of Heroes three-parter, and less fresh than maybe it needed to be.

— The frog joke in Thunderbolts might be a reference to Man-Thing creator Steve Gerber doing a very similar joke in the first-ever solo story of Howard the Duck. This Frog isn’t the same character at all, but he ends the same way: http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/garko.htm

— That said, I nabbed the last three T-bolts issues to give Parker’s run a second look. Has it always been a poor man’s Suicide Squad, with Cage as a less-interesting Amanda Waller? Under Ellis and previously under Parker, this new direction worked because of the upside-down status quo of post-Civil War and Dark Reign, but with Heroic Age branding, this just isn’t working.

— Osborn’s Goblin cult is brand-new, but they’re apparently going to treat it as something that’s been brewing off-panel for awhile. He did run the cult of Scriers in some of those early 2000s post-Clone Saga stories, though.

— The first arc of The Flash has been astonishingly good given the dreck that was Rebirth, except for the pointless Brigthest Day stuff around Captain Boomerang (which is fortunately easy to ignore). Cutting out the first-person narration has eliminated most of Johns’s more annoying tics as a writer, and Manapaul’s art is beautiful stuff for a superhero book. It’s got a surprisingly light touch and it’s a load of fun.

I think Norah always makes Peter uncomfortable. And she can be pretty annoying, but usually in a humorous way.
I’ve only seen the Spider-Man issue Enrique refers to, but I hate this whole Cult of Osborn idea, too. (And I agree that Vin should not be part of it.)
To tell the truth, I really don’t ever want to see Norman Osborn again as long as I live. I’m just so sick of him, and I never saw the appeal in him to begin with.

It’s been way too long since I read the books (and I only read four of them), but I was under the impression that John Carter leaves a different body behind every time he travels to a different planet. So maybe it doesn’t matter if it decays. I don’t know; I’m probably wrong.

That Hellblazer picture is really sickening. You really should warn us if you’re going to show something like that.

Didn’t they do some cult thing with Osborn and that Gathering of the Five stuff back when Byrne and Mackie were on the book? Somewhere around the time that Spidey was wearing the different costumes that became the Slingers characters?

I hope the cult sprang up around Osborn as Goblin and not Osborn as government bureaucrat. That would be just weird. Although the symbol of their cult would be a loop of red tape.


Re: X-Factor.

You were looking at the head dress? Oh Greg…

And I have to say, I’ve never heard of Emanuela Lupacchino, but I loved the artwork in this issue. Would like to more from her (I presume that’s a her…)

Re: John Carter

Have you ever read the novels? Carter’s body stays in the cave while he has his first adventure on Mars but (SPOILER) he does return to it later and while it has some dust on it, it has basically gone unaged or untouched since he “left” it. I’m just finishing up the third book in the series and so far no, Carter’s astral projections to Mars have not been explained as of yet…

Re: Honey West

A new creative team does the next storyline, so maybe you’ll take to them more. I agree with you, this issue felt rushed, but I did enjoy it overall.

I also read Batman Inc.. and Hellblazer this week and loved both issues a LOT. It was a good week for comics overall…

Omar Karindu, from another computer

November 21, 2010 at 8:34 am

– I must say, both Return of Bruce Wayne #6 and Batman: The Return didn’t work that well for me. I feel, like Greg apparently does, that Simon Hurt, the allegorical “devil” representing Bruce’s externalized psychological trauma, was a lot more interesting than Evil Thomas Wayne, the crazy devil-worshipping ancestor who ate a bat that was apparently some form of Darkseid’s hyper-adaptor which he mistook for Barbatos. (At least that’s what I drew from Return #6 and B+R #16.) It’s a rare case where Morrison fails to make the narrative elements fit together aroudn the thematic elements; the origin of Simon Hurt turned out to be a contrived, seemingly last-minute tie-up of all the plotlines around R.I.P and Final Crisis.

— Batman, Inc. is a lot better, so maybe Batman: The return is more a trailer for Finch’s series than anything else, much as Morrison used the third arc of B+R to promote Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman. That said, the resemblance to the earlier Club of Heroes stuff is deliberate, but unavoidable; I wonder if skipping the recruitment plot and showing Bruce running a few operations or whatever might have worked better. While it’s an unexpected bit to have both the villain and hero of the “Japanese Batman” idea appear to die in the first issue, it also means the story’s going to have to effectively undo that first beat — either revealing that someone’s not really dead, or giving us a new version of the Japanese vigilante guy — in order to move forward. That means this first issue’s plot will essentially be an exercise in running in place.

— The frog joke in Thunderbolts might be a reference to Man-Thing creator Steve Gerber doing a very similar joke in the first-ever solo story of Howard the Duck. This Frog isn’t the same character at all, but he ends the same way: http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/garko.htm

— That said, I nabbed the last three T-bolts issues to give Parker’s run a second look. Has it always been a poor man’s Suicide Squad, with Cage as a less-interesting Amanda Waller? Under Ellis and previously under Parker, this new direction worked because of the upside-down status quo of post-Civil War and Dark Reign, but with Heroic Age branding, this just isn’t working.

— Osborn’s Goblin cult is brand-new, but they’re apparently going to treat it as something that’s been brewing off-panel for awhile. He did run the cult of Scriers in some of those early 2000s post-Clone Saga stories, though.

— The first arc of The Flash has been astonishingly good given the dreck that was Rebirth, except for the pointless Brigthest Day stuff around Captain Boomerang (which is fortunately easy to ignore). Cutting out the first-person narration has eliminated most of Johns’s more annoying tics as a writer, and Manapaul’s art is beautiful stuff for a superhero book. It’s got a surprisingly light touch and it’s a load of fun.

“I’m just finishing up the third book in the series and so far no, Carter’s astral projections to Mars have not been explained as of yet…”

They never are explained in the books. Just roll with it…

Oh, about Hela — she has to wear the helmet thing. Without it, she turns into a half-corpse creature like the mythological version.


November 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm

- I’m with you in actually enjoying Finch’s art on Batman: The Return.
If his art on his ongoing is this good, and the writing up to his short in Superman/Batman #75, I might check that book out.
(I say this as I fully expect it not to last past one arc – Bleeding Cool has said there’s rumours he is way behind on art, and his interview with CBR makes it sound like he’s ignoring continuity to do his own thing, so if he’s writings not great, I don’t see it lasting).

– I’m not sure if Batman and Catwoman are just hooking up, or it there’s something more. In the arc before Bruce’s disappearance, the much better than it’s title would make you think, Heart Of Hush, Bruce and Selina pretty much admitted to being in love with each other.
Also, what’s with G-Mozz and Tokyo hook ups?
The same thing happened in New X-Men – the team went to Tokyo, and everyone shacked up.
It was the first hints of Scott and Emma, as well as Wolverine and Domino getting it on.

– I don’t know how Snyder can get more back to basics than Dini – Dini started with a whole lot of done in one tales of Batman fighting at a ‘street crime’ level, with the costumes nothing more than more sophisticated criminals.

– I’m glad Morning Glories didn’t go with the ancient conspiracy from last issue.
Keeping it as one of the many odd things going on is cool, I was worried it was going to overwhelm the book, and become all about an ancient conspiracy, which frankly, I’m bored out of my mind with.

Batman: The return is more a trailer for Finch’s series than anything else, much as Morrison used the third arc of B+R to promote Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman

I don’t think so Omar – it’s a showcase for his art, but he has said his series will be set in Gotham, and have Bruce dealing with supernatural threats, neither of which are the focus of this book.

– The first arc of The Flash has been astonishingly good given the dreck that was Rebirth, except for the pointless Brigthest Day stuff around Captain Boomerang (which is fortunately easy to ignore).

I thought #6 actually excused Rebirth – Barry is clearly going to go back in time to ave his mother’s life.
I think he might succeed as well – he’s not altering the course of time, but correcting what Zoom did to it.
That said, after one successful fixing, he will probably then decide to change other things, which is where problems will arrive.
Probably Johns will have him want to save his mother and fail, but I’d love it if he had Barry undo her death, if only to make all the tears and teeth gnashing over nothing.

Everyone who says they are sick of grim comics, and wish the big two would be more fun, are part of the problem if they don’t grab this Flash series in trade – it’s awesome fun.

They never are explained in the books. Just roll with it…

Gotcha. Thanks! I figured as much, and honestly, I’m not that bothered by the lack of explanation, the stories themselves are just so much fun…

I agree with you on the latest Northlanders story arc. I was scratching my head wondering what the hell was Brian Wood smoking when he did that arc? What made Northlanders work was the gritty realistic storylines, and then there’s that supernatural thing. Unless, you can explain that the Hero was stoned out of his mind for most of that arc — you can see it happening that way, but otherwise, it doesn’t mesh with all the previous stories.

So, what DID Kelly Thompson have to say about that airwolf panel of Catwoman?
Did she give you a piece of her mind? ;-)

Tom: Unfortunately, she didn’t. What’s this world coming to when I can’t piss off Kelly?

The first arc of The Flash has been astonishingly good given the dreck that was Rebirth, except for the pointless Brigthest Day stuff around Captain Boomerang (which is fortunately easy to ignore). Cutting out the first-person narration has eliminated most of Johns’s more annoying tics as a writer, and Manapaul’s art is beautiful stuff for a superhero book. It’s got a surprisingly light touch and it’s a load of fun.

Wait..a DC comic without first person narration needlessly cluttering up the page? I may indeed check it out then.

Was that slurping by Norah supposed to be sexual innuendo for a blow job? Because if so, that’s pretty bold I’d say.


November 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Tom: Unfortunately, she didn’t. What’s this world coming to when I can’t piss off Kelly?

Maybe she just understands that it was sexy, sexy times, and that it’s okay to objectify female characters when it’s done for sexy purposes?

Wait..a DC comic without first person narration needlessly cluttering up the page? I may indeed check it out then.

Let me know if Marvel ever have one!

Honestly though, we should pass a hat and raise a kitty to give to which ever writer/editor realizes there was nothing wrong with captions and thought bubbles – especially as weak first person narration is often worse than purple prose ever was.

Let me know if Marvel ever have one!

Note, I said “needlessly cluttering” the page. Marvel’s first person narration usually helps the story, at least their books that I sample, so even though it’s there I don’t consider it needless clutter. Brubaker, Bendis, Aaron, and others, their first person narrations are impeccable. To me, DC’s first person narration usually falls into the category of what I call “emo noir,” just endlessly talking about feelings in a purple prose that is meant to sound kind of noir.

Nitz touches on this well in this post:

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