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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 30 March 2011

How does it happen that sometimes someone says something and wins someone else over forever? … at times a single word can work miracles. (Manuel Puig, from Kiss of the Spider Woman)

Man, I hate when they use my body for comic book covers without my permission! Francavilla drew this cover in 2010 - how long has he known he'll be doing this issue? Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Just to reassure you - that's not a penis Oh, Amanda Conner - is there anything you can't do? Symbolism! It's like she's shooting YOU!!!! Yeah, this won't end well Big 'n' spooky! Why does he have a fishing pole?  Dear God, WHY?!?!?!? Hells yeah!

Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker #1 by Joe Casey (writer), Mike Huddleston (artist/colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

So there I was, opening Butcher Baker #1, ready to dive into the wackiness, and what did I see on the inside front cover? The name of our own English spitfire, Sonia Harris, who designed the logo to this glorious slab of comicbookery. How cool is Ms. Harris? Very cool, if I may so.

Anyway, Butcher Baker is, as you might expect, a pretty insane comic, and I imagine it won’t be for everyone. It’s full of naked women (the only women in the book are naked and having sex the entire time, in fact), on the first page there’s a door knob shaped like a penis, and the hero kills a lot of people after knocking a duly-appointed officer of the law off the road in a high-speed chase. Butcher Baker, a retired superhero, is called back to duty by Dick Cheney and Jay Leno, of all people, who need him to blow up a prison. In order to entice him, they offer him three naked women who are apparently willing to do things that the four other naked women already servicing him are not willing to do. So he jumps in his rig, gets in a car chase with state trooper Arnie B. Willard, and does his job. The “story/art” part of this comic is only 18 pages long, but Casey packs it with information while leaving plenty of story opportunities, which is all you really want from a first issue.

Whether or not you like this issue (and, again, it’s probably a very acquired taste), it’s the kind of thing that would be very nice to see the Big Two do (yes, even with the nudity and swearing). Casey writes a wonderful backmatter story about the time he may or may not have met Steve Ditko (who can tell – the dude is pretty old and hasn’t been seen in a while), and how it, along with the blandness of regular superhero books, inspired him to create this. And he’s right (even if he himself occasionally contributes to that blandness) – superhero comics could use some insanity, and not the kind of insanity we get, which is writers and/or artists mashing together Nazis and zombies and ninjas and thinking it’s cool. Casey is not breaking any new ground with this comic (so far) – it’s a slight parody of Captain America, and it treads ground he’s already covered in Automatic Kafka – but that’s not the point. The point is that Casey goes balls-to-the-wall with the writing, and too many writers play it safe when they’re writing for Marvel or DC. It’s necessary, of course, because Marvel and DC are terrified of someone somewhere taking umbrage (they should remember that if you try to please everyone, you’re probably pleasing no one), but it’s too bad.

I should point out that Huddleston absolutely kills on this issue. He’s always been a good artist, but this issue is a big step forward, as he combines his cartoony style with excellent caricatures, frenetic action, and different linework and colors for different sections of the book. The first scene, where Cheney and Leno convince Butcher to take the job, is pink and red and blue, with Leno and Cheney standing out because they’re not colored, so their blandness contrasts with Butcher’s high-octane fuckathon. The car chase is almost all in beige and black (see below), with Butcher’s American flag paint on his rig popping out from the rest. When Butcher is actually on his mission, Huddleston switches to a scratchier line, turning a wild action book into a grim-‘n’-gritty espionage comic. There’s even a brief section that presumably takes place in the past, where the lines are a bit blurrier, as if we’re looking at the scene on old newsreel film. And, of course, Benday dots are all over the place, most notably in the panel where Butcher parodies Captain America in punching (presumably) Osama bin Laden. Huddleston even paints the final page for good measure.

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While the jury is still out on whether Casey is bringing his absolute A game to the book (it sure feels like he is, but it could go sideways), there’s no doubt that this is a huge artistic leap for Huddleston. He’s really the perfect artist for what Casey is trying to do, and he makes the book a hell of a lot of fun, even if you don’t like the naked women and easy targets. Butcher Baker is off to a fine start, and I look forward to more.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It's just that kind of comic!

Detective Comics #875 (“Lost Boys”) by Scott Snyder (writer), Francesco Francavilla (artist/colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

I’m not sure if Snyder’s schedule got thrown off by the decision to cut DC’s books down to 20 pages (although it’s nice that this one is 22) or if Jock’s slower than he thought (a distinct possibility), but I know the story with the shark was supposed to begin in this issue (or so I thought) and it’s been pushed back a bit, which makes the ending of last issue a bit odd because it leads into the next longer arc, but this issue has nothing to do with it. I’m not criticizing this issue, you understand, because this is an early candidate for best single issue of the year, but I do wonder about the scheduling.

Yes, this is a fantastic issue. Snyder has decided that James Gordon, Jr. is going to be his pet character, so naturally he has to focus on him a bit. We get two intertwining stories, as Commissioner Gordon stalks a guy who just got of prison (although that bit doesn’t make a ton of sense; Gordon narrates that he did time for arson, but “he was just a stupid kid playing with matches,” and then, a few sentences later, he tells us the guy just got out, even though he’s a much older man, by the look of him) because he knows, in his gut, that he’s a really bad dude, while Gordon also reminisces about a series of kidnappings and the time he took James and Barbara to a lake house, where a friend of Barbara’s disappeared. Gordon can’t help but suspect James, who is, after all, a bit creepy. It’s an amazingly tense issue, because Snyder builds the tension so well – we don’t know if James had anything to do with the disappearance, so when Gordon confronts him, we wonder what’s going to come out, and we also don’t know if Gordon is wrong about Roy Blount, the man he’s stalking. It’s impressive that Snyder is able to do this in 22 pages.

Francavilla, of course, is astonishing. I can’t keep writing the same things about him, because if you don’t know how good he is by now, what more can I say? He does give us two double-page spreads which are simply amazing – one shows Gordon in the center, surrounded by images from his past – one side is James growing up and doing disturbing things, the other is the family arriving at the lake and meeting the girl who disappears. Later in the book, Francavilla gives us Blount walking the streets in the present while, in the past, Barbara’s friend walks along the lake and doesn’t know someone is coming to get her. Both pages are laid out very well, and of course, Francavilla’s colors continue to be a highlight of the book. It’s really a beautiful comic, and the fact that Snyder’s story is as good just makes it more impressive.

If you haven’t been buying Detective, you should give this single issue a look. There are some vague hints about a bigger storyline, but basically, this is a standalone issue, and it gives you a good idea about what kind of writer Snyder is. This really is a fantastic issue.

(Snyder wades into the Gordon family tree here, which is something people should never do. Barbara introduces James as her stepbrother, but that’s not true, is it? Isn’t she not really Gordon’s daughter, but a niece or something? I imagine stepbrother is easier than “cousin,” because that begs the question of why cousins are being raised by the same person. Or is she not even related to Gordon? See, I don’t know these things. Luckily, it doesn’t really matter for this issue. Still – Frank Miller has a lot to answer for! Oh, and Snyder even references “Year One” really obliquely. That was cool.)

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

One totally Airwolf panel:

Do you really want him to answer that, Gordon?

Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1 (“The Devil of the Sixth Heaven”) by Richard Starkings (writer), Axel Medellin (artist), and Gregory Wright (?)* (colorist). $3.99, 33 pgs, FC, Image.

* Wright is usually the colorist, but he’s not listed for this issue, so I’m assuming.

Yes, there are four covers to this special issue, and Starkings was nice enough to send every single one of them to me. My favorite is that first one up above, because I dig that Churchill is homaging his own Uncanny X-Men cover from a decade ago (yes, ten years ago – man, tempus fugit), but the Spirit homage is nifty, too. Here and here are the other two covers. Plus, Duncan Rouleau draws the back cover, so that’s pretty keen, too.

This is a jumping-on point, as Starkings recaps the major points of the elephantmen universe in the first few pages before launching into a very noir-ish tale that, Starkings writes in the backmatter, is much more along the lines of what he initially envisioned for the character of Hip Flask before he went in a different direction. We’ve seen some noir-type stories sprinkled throughout the series, as this is a good one, as it allows Starkings to introduce the major players – Miki, Vanity, Sahara, Ebony, Trench, Obadiah – in a fairly natural way. His story is very science fiction noir – Hip wakes up one morning and he’s a man, so we get the sci-fi weirdness coupled with the fish-out-of-water scenario we often see in noir. Hip loves his life but even though he has a hot and apparently insatiable woman at home, he longs for what he cannot have – Sahara. This is a problem, of course. It all becomes clear in the end (as we knew it would), but it’s fun to go along with the story while Starkings is telling it.

Medellin has been getting better and better on the book, and this is another beautiful issue. When Hip suddenly hallucinates that Yvette (who in this story runs a breakfast kiosk) is set upon by hybrid soldiers, Medellin’s art switches from softer focus to hard-edged. Sahara’s penthouse is drenched in late afternoon sunlight, making her and everything in it a hazy buttery color that becomes more and more red when Obadiah shows up. Medellin was decent when he first got on the book, but he’s been getting better with each issue, which is nice to see.

This is another comic you can pick up just for a nice taste of what Starkings is doing. Considering this has been one of the best comics out there for the past four years or so, you might want to give it a look! I’m just sayin’.

(I haven’t been mentioned the back-up story, “Charley Loves Robots,” mainly because they’ve been one- or two-page pieces of a longer story. It’s by John Roshell, Gabriel Bautista, and André Szymanowicz, and in this issue, we get ten pages of story, and it’s not bad. It’s about a kid who loves robots (duh!) and his grandfather, who doesn’t. They’re on a bit of a collision course, as Charley is sent to his grandfather’s farm for the summer. It’s hard to review it, mainly because it’s only at the very beginning – even with these ten pages – so I’ll have to get to it down the line a bit.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Man, you really don't want to do that!

Incognito: Bad Influences #5 (of 5) by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), and Val Staples (colorist). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Marvel/Icon.

Some SPOILERS ahead, I guess. I do that sometimes.

This second iteration of Incognito has never felt quite as good as the first, and it’s been hard to really pinpoint why. Now that it’s complete, I can at least wonder why it even existed – Brubaker seems to spend a lot of time to get Zack kind of back where he started, and while nihilism has its place in comics, the fact that this is almost cheerfully nihilistic is kind of odd. One of the reasons I dropped Brubaker’s Daredevil was because is was excessively depressing, and while this isn’t quite that bad, it does seem like there wasn’t much point to this mini-series. Zack got the job done, I guess, but that didn’t seem to be the point – it seemed as if Brubaker was, in this issue at least, trying to show that in this world, there’s absolutely no moral standard and whether or not Zack defeats Simon Slaughter is truly beside the point. That’s all well and good, but that’s not a terribly original idea, and the fact that Slaughter states it so baldly in this issue takes away what little power that message would have. I mean, we know that Slaughter is going to say in his speech even before it comes out of his mouth. Brubaker himself has run with this idea of a man trying to do the right thing but getting sucked down in the muck – he did it to much better effect in Sleeper. The fact that this is a pulp superhero noir is a clever trick, but it’s not really enough. What it really feels like is that Brubaker wanted Zack back in prison, and he couldn’t figure out a way to do it, so he wrote this to get him there. He obviously has more he wants to do with Zack, so he needs him to be where he wants to be, but this series just felt like an overly complicated way to get him there. Sigh. Luckily, there’s a new series of Criminal coming up soon, which is always good to see.

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None of this changes the fact that this issue is, of course, gorgeous. But that’s kind of a given!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, that's not good

Jimmy Olsen #1 (“Jimmy Olsen’s Big Week”) by Nick Spencer (writer), RB Silva (penciller), Amilcar Pinna (artist for what appears to be three pages – really, DC?), Dym (inker), Rob Lean (inker), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Rob Leigh (letterer). $5.99, 68 pgs, FC, DC.

I vacillated about getting this, because the one brief chapter I read of it didn’t impress me too much. But the praise of it on yonder Internet – including the fine readers of this here blog – convinced me to give it a whirl. Are you happy now, readers of this here blog?!?!?!?

It’s pretty good, actually. It’s certainly a nice chunk of comics for six bucks. The set-up is from a silly sitcom – Jimmy gets dumped by Chloe Sullivan (who’s – wait – married to Oliver Queen?) because now that Superman is gone, all he wants to do is play “Superman: The Video Game.” So he decides to win her back, especially because he thinks she’s been bedazzled by Sebastien Mallory, the Lexcorp employee who is apparently Jimmy’s Lex Luthor (isn’t that cute?). This leads to a wild week in which he saves Metropolis from an alien invasion, gets engaged to Maggie Mxyzptlk, becomes Co-Superman (which is kind of awesome), and saves the world. Chloe, of course, is usually one step ahead of him, because he’s a doofus. It’s more charming in one big package than I thought from the one chapter I read. It’s not going to win any prizes, but it is a solid story with a lot of fun stuff in it. And yes, Supergirl and the yarn on the cover comes into play.

The one thing that constantly bugs me about comic book writers is the fact that they don’t write someone who is a different age well. From what I can suss out, Nick Spencer is in his early 30s. Perhaps Jimmy is meant to be that old, but it seems like he’s supposed to be in his mid-20s at the oldest. Why is this relevant? Jimmy makes several off-the-cuff comments in this book referencing 1980s cultural events, and I very much doubt that he would have been alive to pick up said cultural references. I’ve written about this before and people have told me to shut it because the writer is writing to the audience, most of whom are in the late 30s or older, but while aliens and genies and Maggie Mxyzptlk and other weird stuff like that in this comic does not ruin my suspension of disbelief, a character making references from before his time would. Look, I don’t make cultural references from the 1960s or even from the mid-1970s, because I was too young. However, I make references to pop culture of the Eighties all the time, because I turned 10 in May 1981, so that decade was my prime time of soaking up pop culture (for instance, someone recently commented on one of Greg Hatcher’s posts that they didn’t know Sheriff Lobo had his own show, which I knew because I actually watched the damned thing). Jimmy Olsen’s would turn 10 around 1995, so he should be making fin de siècle references. He’s actually trapped by a genie in this comic – where’s a Christina Aguilera reference, for crying out loud? Yes, I know this is a silly thing, but it really does bug me when writers write every character as if they’re the same age as the writer. Aren’t you glad I share these things with you?

Anyway, that’s just some small thing that bugs me. Oh, and the fact that DC had to get Pinna to draw what looks like three pages of this. Silva’s art is pretty good, and while Pinna is okay as well, his style is different enough from Silva’s that it’s kind of jarring. Weird that they couldn’t wait a few days or weeks for Silva to draw three pages. Oh well.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:


Scalped #47 (“You Gotta Sin to Get Saved Part Three of Five: Hearted”) by Jason Aaron (writer), R. M. Guéra (artist), Giulia Brusco (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

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Wow. For the first time in a long time, I don’t like a Jock cover in this series. I mean, this isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely not on par with the majority of the covers of this book. Odd.

It kind of reflects what’s going on inside, too. While Jock’s covers, even uninspired ones, are still better than a lot of what’s out there, so to are issues of Scalped that aren’t quite as good as usual still better than most of what’s out there, and this is an example. Aaron checks in on Dino Poor Bear, whose family has taken in Carol after her abortion and split with Dash. In classic smitten young guy fashion, Dino falls hard for Carol even though she sees him as a brother. Commence crushing of a young man’s soul! The final pages, actually, are fantastic, as Dino walks through the night, pondering why he can’t get the girl and the narration tells us bad things are a-coming. It’s a good ending to a necessary but not a particularly brilliant issue of the series. Aaron hits all the beats that we’ve seen before in these kinds of stories – Carol tries on jewelry that she can’t afford, Carol touches Dino (not like that, you preverts) and Dino misinterprets it, Dino does something to get the money he needs (which is probably one of the more important plot points of the issue), Carol tells him how she feels, totally ignorant of the fact that he’s about to declare his love. Oh dear.

So while it’s not the best issue of Scalped in the world, it still gives us some important information and it still features Guéra’s stunning art. Man, those last few pages, when almost everything is black as Dino walks down the road … chilling, I tells ya!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, well, maybe he should have listened some more

Scarlet #5 by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alex Maleev (artist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer). $3.95, 24 pgs, FC, Marvel/Icon.

Oh, Scarlet. Scarlet, Scarlet, Scarlet. What ever are we to do with you?

If I’m ever going to drop this train wreck, I need to do it now. This ends “book one,” and I know if I get sucked into buying issue #6, then I’ll want to know what’s going to happen, and then it will turn into The Unwritten, and nobody wants that! So issue #6 is offered in the latest Previews, and I don’t think I’ll pre-order it. Scarlet is just too much of a mess, and I just can’t keep getting it. It’s really too bad, because Bendis and Maleev are certainly talented (I’ll try Moon Knight even if I fear what they’re planning), but Bendis, especially, just doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing on this book. There’s certainly entertainment value in that, because watching something self-destruct can be compelling, but while I didn’t like the utter implausibility of the premise of this comic, it seemed like Bendis was going to go in some oddball ways. With last issue and then this one, it seems like he’s pulled back from the brink, and the book has become mediocre instead of godawful but still weirdly gripping. Bendis addresses the Arizona shooting in the letters column, as some writers wonder if Scarlet is just too similar to Jared Loughner, but it’s obvious that Scarlet is killing actual criminals (policemen, sure, but criminals), while Loughner is detached from reality, so I don’t think the events in Tucson had anything to do with Bendis pulling back. Perhaps he realized that giving us a heroine who thinks all cops are corrupt makes her far less sympathetic, so in last issue and this issue, characters tell us that not all cops are bad. That’s true, of course (I would argue the majority are not corrupt, but I don’t know for sure), but it also makes this a far less interesting comic. Scarlet has become a dull vigilante, not a visionary, and as Bendis hasn’t spent a lot of time developing her character, she becomes far less interesting just with that shift.

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Bendis can’t resist, however, making the cops look stupid once again, as one of them throws a grenade into the crowd at Pioneer Square because he’s pissed off that Scarlet is making a speech. Once again, this is idiotic, not because cops can’t be jerks, but because the authorities made such a big deal last issue about not being provoked by Scarlet. You would think Bendis would show whoever was in charge on the ground at the gathering telling his cops to keep their cool, but apparently the cops were just standing around with no direction at all, and one of them decided to throw a grenade. And then, of course, the higher-ups begin the spin that it might have been a person in the crowd who threw the grenade. Gaaaaaahhhhhhh!

One final thought: Bendis reprints a story about the FBI stopping a bomb threat in Portland – at Pioneer Square, where the “flashmob” gathers in this issue – during the Christmas season. He writes that he doesn’t know what to say about it, just that it struck him. The reason he doesn’t know what to say about it, it seems, is because it doesn’t fit his narrative that cops are corrupt. They just did their job and stopped a terrorist. I know, surprising. I know that Bendis doesn’t necessarily believe in what Scarlet is saying, but it gets back to how simplistic this comic book actually is. It wants to be revolutionary, but so far, it’s falling far short. I just don’t feel like waiting around for it to get any good.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, okay, that's funny - but Daemonakos? Really?

The Suicide Forest #4 (of 4) by El Torres (writer), Gabriel Hernandez (artist), and Malaka Studio (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

Torres and Hernandez finish their latest horror series, and in some ways, it’s not as good as The Veil, but in other ways, it’s better. I loved the fact that The Veil didn’t punk out at the end, like so many horror stories do, but it also wasn’t as deep as this comic is. Torres and Hernandez don’t quite go for broke on this book, but they do give us a more nuanced look at horror, so there’s that. Ryoko knows what Alan has to do to get them out of the forest, so she helps keep the spirits at bay while he confronts Masami. It’s a tense issue, because we’re not really sure if either of the two principals will survive (we think Ryoko will, but who knows, right?), but Torres manages to write some nice, human moments as well. Ryoko needs to deal with the memory of her father as much as Alan needs to deal with how he treated Masami, so Torres does a good job paralleling their situations (especially on the first two pages, where Hernandez draws both their lives and the narration implies that they are very much the same kind of person). It ends kind of the way we expect it to, although it’s nice that Torres doesn’t telegraph it too much. It’s not as freaky as The Veil, but it’s also better written.

Hernandez has been getting a bit of work from Marvel and Torres is writing some vampire thing for Image, so I don’t know if they have another horror title up their sleeves, but in my book, they’re 2-for-2, so I’ll keep my eye out for any others. I imagine IDW will put out a trade of this before too long, so look for it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

How touching!

Bloom County: The Complete Library volume four: 1986-1987 by Berkeley Breathed. $39.99, 285 pgs, BW/FC, IDW/The Library of American Comics.

Still great. Duh.

B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs volume 1 by Mike Mignola (writer), Guy Davis (artist), and a bunch of other dudes. $34.99, 406 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

This came out a while ago, but I didn’t order it when it was in Previews because I thought it was just a regular trade instead of a bunch of trades collected in one hardcover. I’m a bit disappointed that Dark Horse didn’t do “Library Editions” of B.P.R.D. but that’s the way it goes. I’ve read a little of this (I got the first thin trade of this series a while ago) and liked it, so I’m looking forward to more hardcovers. I’ve never read anyone who doesn’t love this series, so this should be fun.

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The Fish Police volume 1 by Steve Moncuse (writer/artist). $14.99, 104 pgs, BW, IDW.

I have nothing to say about this. I got into comics too late to get the originals, and I’ve been curious about it over the years, so why wouldn’t I take a look at it?

I wrote last week that I was going to see Sucker Punch, but I just couldn’t do it. I don’t mind seeing a crappy but fun movie, but every review I’ve read, plus the guy at my comics shop, who sees a lot of movies and is pretty smart, think it’s absolutely terrible, and even though I could see the matinee (seven bucks plus one dollar for a drink), I actually feel worse about wasting two hours of my life. Is it as bad as I’ve heard, people who’ve seen it? Do you fear for the Superman movie even more now? Fire away! I will say that I’m jazzed about Source Code – I really hope it doesn’t get pounded by the critics!

Let us move on to The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “Black Boys on Mopeds”Sinéad O’Connor (1990) “These are dangerous days; to say what you feel is to dig your own grave”
2. “Counting Every Minute” – Foreigner1 (1987) “Can you feel my fingers running through your hair”
3. “All You Need is Love”Beatles (1967) “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be – it’s easy”2
4. “Get Out the Map”Indigo Girls (1997) “I’m gonna love you good and strong while our love is good and young”
5. “Where Have All the Good Times Gone!”3Van Halen (1982) “Once we had an easy ride and always felt the same; time was on our side, we had everything to gain”
6. “Man in the Wilderness” – Styx (1977) “Ten thousand people look my way, but they can’t see the way that I feel; nobody even cares to try”
7. “A Question Mark” – Elliott Smith (1998) “Said your final word, but honesty and love could have kept us together”
8. “Blood on the Rooftops” – Genesis (1976) “Better in my day – Oh Lord! for when we got bored, we’d have a world war”
9. “Swallowed in the Sea”Coldplay4 (2005) “I can only blame myself, you can only blame me”
10. “Words Can Save Us”Chumbawamba (2008) “World, are you listening now? this fool just had his day”

1 Go ahead. Make fun. I can take it.

2 I was listening to this while taking my daughters to school, and my older daughter started banging her head quite vigorously to it. She often bobs her head or waves her hand when a song has a good beat, but she was really thrashing to this one. Why, I don’t know. She often does things at a slower pace than the rest of us, so perhaps the rhythm was just right for her. Whatever the reason, she was totally rocking out to the Beatles, man!

3 What the hell was up with Eddie and overalls? It’s really weird.

4 Go ahead. Make fun. I can take it. Actually, I’ve long had a theory about why Coldplay is so popular. Chris Martin isn’t all that good a singer; he’s often flat and he doesn’t sing in rhythm with the music. The lyrics are okay but nothing spectacular, and the music is decent but also nothing spectacular. So what’s Coldplay’s secret? Major chords. It’s been a long time since I was anything even approaching a musician, but from what I can pick out of their music, Coldplay uses major chords to huge effect, resolving them perfectly in many of their songs. Lots of bands do this, of course, but Coldplay does it almost obsessively, and they rarely (if ever) use minor chords or strike any kind of dischordant tones, so while other bands might step outside their comfort zones occasionally, Coldplay never leaves it, and that makes their music comforting but not challenging. It’s all about major chords, people!

No one officially got the movie quote from last week (jjc knew it, but didn’t reveal it) – it was from My Dinner with André, a tremendous 1981 movie with Wallace Shawn, of all people. I thought last week’s Community episode was called “My Dinner with Abed,” but it wasn’t, even though Abed set up his meeting with Jeff exactly like the movie. So if you were wondering what the hell was going on last week, that’s what. My Dinner with André is essentially a 100-minute conversation, and it’s fantastic. Anyway, here’s this week’s Totally Random Movie Quote:

“Well, I’m totally over her, all right? Positively!”
“Me too! Definitely! … Great stems, though …”
“Buds, too.”
“Yeah, those were nice …”

Is that too easy? Oh well – they’re totally random!

Enjoy your baseball team’s brief moment to believe they can win the World Series before the Phillies crush their dreams! You know it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of time!!!!


YOU DIDN’T BUY GODZILLA!!!!!!!?????? Why, I’m ashamed and dismayed, Mr. Burgas.

Andrew Kennedy

March 31, 2011 at 5:22 pm

The quote is from Batman and Robin… I shivered typing that out.

I love Foreigner for all the ridiculousness that they are. Really though, listen to their greatest hits and not sing along.

Scalped didn’t work for me this week, not much did really, but I haven’t read American Vampire or Secret Avengers yet.

I didn’t totally know the movie last week. I knew I’d seen it, just couldn’t remember so I looked it up and I didn’t think it’d be fair to just reveal it.

Some people are aware of pop culture that was released before their time. I was born in 1985, and I make references to Ferris Bueller, that “I wish I was a little bit taller…” rap, and MASH. Isn’t it possible that someone as cosmopolitan and experienced as Jimmy Olson would have a broader knowledge set?

Spider Jerusalem

March 31, 2011 at 6:23 pm

No Caligula? SHAME.


March 31, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Greg, what do you do if you don’t feel like reading all your comics in one day?
I usually read a huge chunk thursday night (shit gets crazy with US oriented release days when you live in the future), but can’t get it all done in a day!
Do you have to push yourself through them all, or do you sometimes just drop one out of the reviews and not mention it.
Just curious.

Ooh, and Rick Remender did an odd attempt to do an Australian reference in Uncanny X-Force 5.1, that stood out to me more than some of Johns Australian slang in Flash – he had Deadpool reference Yahoo Serious in a list of Australian things he’d seen when he checked the place out recently.
I can only assume that like Fosters beer, Yahoo Serious makes a bigger impact in the US than he does here – he was big here in late 80’s/early 90’s, but that was it.
I doubt Australians under twenty have even heard of him.

Butcher Baker is off to a fine start, and I look forward to more.

I was slightly let down that it wasn’t as balls first crazy as Automatic Kafka, but I’ll still be following it for more.

Do wish we got a slightly different ending though – just another page or two to show that the villains survived or something, as it looks like some of them are back in the previews.
(Unless this is going to be like Automatic Kafka, and the villains are only in flash backs. I’d totally be up for another Casey book about a superhero without anyone to fight/do).

If you haven’t been buying Detective, you should give this single issue a look. There are some vague hints about a bigger storyline, but basically, this is a standalone issue, and it gives you a good idea about what kind of writer Snyder is. This really is a fantastic issue.

Holy shit it was good.

Not quite sure why Gordon waited to Roy was out to re-start his investigation though – just cause the guy is in jail for one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t prosecute him with another.

Even so, that was an unexpectedly great read – I thought it would be good, but had no idea it would be that good.

This second iteration of Incognito has never felt quite as good as the first, and it’s been hard to really pinpoint why.

I don’t think Sleeper was helped by having a second volume either.

Still, I doubt I’ll be able to resist the urge to get the trade of this.

It’s not going to win any prizes, but it is a solid story with a lot of fun stuff in it

I dunno, I reckon it’s worthy of an award or two.

I do wish DC let more people get away with crazy shit like this in the DCU though.

Bet they are kicking themselves for letting Spencer sign with Marvel.

Oh, Scarlet. Scarlet, Scarlet, Scarlet. What ever are we to do with you?

I was out after #1.

If Bendis wants to write something crime based, he should do more crime books – when he was just on those, I thought he was going to be the guiding light of comic book awesomeness for the 21st century.

I know he likes street level heroes, but why he thought he could do street level Invisibles is beyond me.
All he’s doing with this is showing us that he’s not as good as his opposite number G-Mozza.

Do you fear for the Superman movie even more now? Fire away!

I don’t fear it at all – it’s being made to beat a deadline, so quality was never a top concern for WB.

Honestly though, as someone who loves film, studied film, and watches lots of films every month for work, watching people get excited about the films Zack Snyder has made, must have been what it was like for comic artists/critics watching Rob Liefeld rise to super stardom.
The guys never shown an original idea, wears his influences on his sleeve, and is barely journeyman in his ability to a story though film.
He’s a fucking terrible filmmaker.

That said, it might be exactly what a Superman film needs.
My hope is that he’ll make a stand alone action oriented Superman film, that does well enough, that they give the character to someone else to do a Nolanesque start over on the character.

He’s a terrible director, but Bryan Singer is pretty good, and he ballsed it right up – so just a straight up generic action film might not be the worst thing in the world.

You gotta know your 80s references if you want to be a real geek, man– or if you just want to watch Family Guy, which all the kids my age do. I didn’t really “live it” but it doesn’t mean I can’t know it or reference it. I imagine Jimmy Olsen is at least as much of a nerd as I am.

I’ve ordered the first three Butcher Bakers, but I don’t expect to like it. Crazy Casey is worthy a try, though.

I doubt many Americans under 20 know who Yahoo Serious is. Paul Hogan maybe, but only by Crocodile Dundee and not his actual name.

You listen to Sinead O’Connor. *Beavis & Butthead laugh* Wuss.

Self-depricating humor:
I remember Beavis & Butthead. *Teenagers laughing* I’m old.

About the character who is Jimmy’s personal Lex Luthor…is he also Lex Luthor’s Jimmy Olsen? (does that sentence make sense?)

funky – 20-year-olds here wouldn’t know who Yahoo Serious either, most likely. We haven’t heard of him since the early 90s – Remender just tends to write for his generation, I think, and does a good job it.


March 31, 2011 at 8:10 pm

About the character who is Jimmy’s personal Lex Luthor…is he also Lex Luthor’s Jimmy Olsen? (does that sentence make sense?)

Yeah, he is.

funky – 20-year-olds here wouldn’t know who Yahoo Serious either, most likely. We haven’t heard of him since the early 90s – Remender just tends to write for his generation, I think, and does a good job it.

Ok – still seems an odd reference to me.
There’s been plenty of shit since then to make fun of Australia for!

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 31, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Fear the Bendis/Maleev, fear the Bendis/Maleev …

Interesting comment about Snyder’s schedule may suffer from the 2 page cut at 20 pages (from 22 pages). I used to remember, DC printing 25 pages of the New Teen Titans (Perez) back in the ’80’s.

I’ve just read an article about the MAD MEN creator/writer having problems with AMC/Lionsgate wanting him to cut a few minutes off per episode as well as letting two cast members go (better not be Hamm, Hendricks, or Sterling!!!). I wonder if the quality of MAD MEN will suffer if this happens.

I thought the ending of Sucker Punch to be unbalanced and overkill. The similarities between SP and 300 and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil was too obvious.
I’ll be seeing Source Code this weekend.

Yahoo Serious was never big in the US. Young Einstein got a lot of press when it was released here, but it wasn’t a big hit. It’s just that for some unexplainable reason, something about the guy really stuck in people’s minds.
I’m not sure if any of his other films even got theatrical release, but I did see Mr Accident on TV once.

SmoManCometh: My store didn’t have Godzilla, and I’m not the biggest fan anyway. Maybe if I go to a different store this weekend and see it, I might get it.

T.: Given that the other covers were homages, I think it’s safe to assume Churchill was referencing his old cover.

Dan: Yeah, I don’t have a problem with people knowing cultural references from before they were born. In comics, though, it seems like no matter how old the person is, he or she makes cultural references from the 1970s or the 1980s. An isolated incident like Jimmy’s doesn’t bug me, it’s the accumulated accretion of it that bugs me.

FGJ: Nope, I read them all. Remember – I don’t have a job, and after I get them at about 11 a.m. on Wednesday, I have three hours before the kids come home from school and everything goes haywire. So I just sit down and read them.

Wally: Not only do I listen to Sinead O’Connor – I love her stuff. Her first two albums are brilliant, and although she tapered off a bit after that, she still released some good songs throughout the 1990s.

I really loved Jimmy Olsen #1, but you are right about the references; he’s talking about stuff I know about but I do think, now that you mention it, Jimmy is supposed to be younger than I. Whedon and Co. were terrible about this on Buffy; I was the exact same age as the chracters (if not the actors) and I often didn’t get what they were talking about when it came to references.

“I don’t have a problem with people knowing cultural references from before they were born. In comics, though, it seems like no matter how old the person is, he or she makes cultural references from the 1970s or the 1980s…”

Because that’s when all the cool shit was done, and the era that today’s “writers” are all cribbing from out of their pop culture collections, Greg.

And is that Fish Police book worth it, Greg? I saw it in my LCS and I could’ve sworn I’d pre-ordered it but it wasn’t in my pull box (I only got Zatanna and the Previews guide this week). I glanced through it, and I was… non-plussed (I could’ve sworn I remembered it being better?), and I didn’t have the cash on hand to buy it so I put it back.

Kudos to Sonia Harris for her work on the logo. Butcher Baker seems right up my alley.

I gave up on Scarlet last issue, pretty much for the same reasons you mentioned, and also because I’m completely burned out on Bendis’s writing (I recently tried reading Jinx, which is supposedly very good, and couldn’t finish it).

Your comment about Coldplay is really interesting. I recently had a conversation with my guitar teacher about the benefits of creating tension in music, chord progressions in particular. It makes for better music, but not many bands will sell out arenas that way. In fact, I believe that a similar thing happened with R.E.M.. Around the release of Green, they started using more major chords, and their popularity increased until they became the huge band they are today. Or I might be completely wrong, I don’t know…

[…] of all, Greg Burgas at Comic Book Resources, liked our little japanese tale: “Torres and Hernandez finish their latest horror series, and […]

Once again I read your review of Scarlet and wonder if somehow you got a different version of the book than I got.

IMO, Scarlet is the best book coming out.

I suppose one of the reasons we differ is world view, but after the G20 in Toronto I can’t think of any reason to ever assume that the police are working in our best interests…

Ethan Shuster

April 1, 2011 at 7:20 am

Characters making references aimed at the audience despite the characters’ age happens all the time on TV, etc, too. Or often, they’re making references that the writer himself finds funny. I noticed back during the run of “Scrubs”, that the characters’ pop cultural references seemed more from the 70s than the 80s. The 80s would’ve been more accurate for people that age, which I knew because they were the same age as me. I guessed that maybe the producers / writers were actually writing based on their own experiences, and were a bit older than the characters / actors. But I think they somehow became aware of this, because I started noticing they were making references to things like the Transformers in later episodes.

Ed (A Different One)

April 1, 2011 at 10:29 am

Strange timing – I just finished reading the American Splendor issue where Harvey Pekar met “the guy” who made Dinner with Andre when it premiered in Cleveland – otherwise, I would have never gotten the reference and would have had no idea what you were talking about.

I missed your last week’s installment of “What I bought” because I was on my second consecutive week of coughing my lungs out while sweating with a high fever – so I never got the opportunity to try and solve your mystery quote. Don’t know if the American Splendor issue would have given me anough information to solve it, but it’s just one of many opportunities that horrible, horrible satanflu robbed me of over the last 2 weeks of my life.

That, and the pile of work waiting for me at my place of employment. OK, done whining. Back to comics . . .

Louis: I haven’t read Fish Police yet, so I can’t say. I’m debating whether to review it or not; it’s 25 years old, after all, so I’m not sure if it will be relevant. I’m mulling it over!

Rusty: I know you’ve written that about Scarlet before, and that’s cool. It’s not that I inherently trust the police, because I’m not that naive, but I think that Bendis seems to think he’s making some cool-ass statement about police corruption and, in my eyes, he’s really not. Once that breaks down, I don’t think he’s done enough with the characters to overcome it. It’s frustrating, because I kind of want to like the book, but it just seems like Bendis doesn’t know what he wants to do with it. Oh well!

@ Greg Burgas:

Perhaps Jimmy is meant to be that old, but it seems like he’s supposed to be in his mid-20s at the oldest. Why is this relevant? Jimmy makes several off-the-cuff comments in this book referencing 1980s cultural events, and I very much doubt that he would have been alive to pick up said cultural references.

I think that this is part of an odd weightlessness that superhero comics have that has become a little unhealthy.

Very few of these characters are ever really part of a generation, since that would make it harder to prevent them from aging in the never-ending “now”. Moreover, they do not have any regional attitudes, since they are highly no specific places. Nor do they have politics of any real substance, since that might alienate someone. Nor do they have any religious attitudes that matter. Nor do they have sexual identities beyond the very broadest strokes.

Heck … aside from Spider-Man being a Mets fan, I cannot think of a single superhero that has an affiliation with a sports team.

When this stuff does crop up, it is inevitably taken way over the top. Green Arrow can’t be a liberal. He has to be a screaming leftist or totally apolitical. The lack of these humanizing details puts way too much weight onto the fickle winds of superhero continuity to define these characters.

Travis Pelkie

April 1, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Yeah, Fish Police must not have anything going for it, being 25 years old.


Sorry, Greg, just being goofy. I don’t see why you wouldn’t review a new trade, especially when you just posted a CYSO about New Mutants issues older than that.

Does the Fish Police trade include the original Harlan Ellison intro? What issues are in it? Does it have a DVD of the TV cartoon show?

More later.

Travis: I know you’re kidding around, but my point is – if I read it and hate it, I probably won’t bother to review it, because it’s just a waste of time. I have the same attitude toward newer stuff, but with newer stuff, many people might not have heard of it. I figure if Fish Police sucks and it’s been two decades since it came out, I have no obligation to tell people about it. If I really like it, I’ll write about it.

Unfortunately, the trade is really bare bones. No introduction, no cartoon, just the issues. As IDW doesn’t list the issues contained within their trades, I’m not sure how many are in it, but there are only three covers reproduced, so maybe it’s only three issues? I can’t see any “chapter” breaks, either, so there’s that. Anyway, it’s not the greatest package, but I don’t mind if the material is good.

Oz the Malefic

April 1, 2011 at 11:49 pm

This story line of Incognito to me just read like a “what if” for Sleeper.

It was great, but it didn’t do anything new for me.

Travis Pelkie

April 2, 2011 at 2:37 am

Hey, I was mostly busting you. I suppose it was more the comment about “it’s 25 years old, who cares?” kind of attitude. I GET what you mean, but the phrasing got to me. I hope you’ll do a “mini” review of a bunch of stuff that you’ve gotten over the past few months that you aren’t thrilled with but might interest readers. That way, with some of these books you’ve been picking up and saying, hope that’s good, we can see if you did, indeed, think they were good.

I’m glad you did let me know what’s what with the book itself, as it’s something I’d be interested in, but wouldn’t order without seeing it first. No intro or anything? Maybe you are right, who should care about it?

To me, the “cultural” significance of Fish Police is that it was a punchline, as one of the post-Simpsons attempts at prime time cartoons, and it failed pretty miserably, I believe. Other than that, I’m not sure why to reprint it. Yeah, it was a HOT book in the late 80s, but what wasn’t? (It’s amazing, reading some old letter columns of later issues of HOT books and seeing that the prices people were paying were $50-$75 for the first issues. Crazy. I mean, who gives a fuck now about Trollords?) (Note: I like Trollords, actually.)

I always confuse the 2 guys. Steve Purcell either did FP or did Sam and Max. I think I confuse them because the Fish Police guy advertised (and maybe published) early Sam and Max, and they were both named Steve (Moncuse is the other one, I think the FP one).

Hmm, I have a few issues of FP and I’m not sure what would be reprinted either. The SHARK Bait story didn’t start until issue 5 or 6, I thought, but maybe it started in 4, and that’s where volume 2 picks up.

I know it was originally self published under Fishwrap Productions, then Comico printed the trade (with the Ellison intro) and a color version of the book, but I’m not sure how long the series lasted or if anyone else published the series. Or what the creator is doing since or now.

Also, I think some people like Mignola, Art Adams, and Sam Kieth all did FP pinups. Selling point, maybe, IDW????

Ok, I think that’s all about Fish Police.

Travis Pelkie

April 2, 2011 at 2:53 am

The scary part? — all that Fish Police stuff was from memory.

I picked up several of the same things you did. Still a year plus behind on Scalped, so I skipped that part yet again…

I picked up Jimmy Olsen, and it was a fun little romp. I don’t remember the few pages that someone else did, I’ll have to flip through again. If those pages are near the end, perhaps Silva moved on to a project that would actually be, y’know, published, and not just in a special one shot.

But I actually DID have that same thought about the cultural references that Jimmy was making. I can’t remember the specific one that set off my “really, he’d reference THAT?” meter, but there was something. I suppose part of it’s feeling old as a writer and not knowing what the hell “the kids” would have been into at an early age.

What really scares me, and it appears in the liner notes for their box set of several years ago, is that 20 year old kids have no real knowledge of Nirvana as they were, since they were about 3 when Cobain died. And that was the rockin’est stuff when I was 13. Man, I was in 9th grade English when I remember hearing about him being found dead….


Ok, anyway. Yeah, I totally agree on the references thing. And while I know you were referencing “Genie” era XTina, I was hoping for a “Dirrty” picture…

I actually got to the comic store on Wednesday for once due to Butcher Baker, and I too squealed with delight at seeing Sonia’s name in the credits. EEEE!! I was a bit…let down, I suppose, but the back matter was quite entertaining. Like you say, I’m not sure Casey’s breaking any real new ground (another out there superhero, not unlike Marshal Law and other comics Chad referenced in his review), but Huddleston is rocking it.

I hope Sonia’s next Committed column is about how Butcher Baker compares with Deadpoolmax…

I also picked up, but haven’t read, a couple Captain America/Secret Avengers related things.

I recommend, too, picking up the Cyclops one shot. It’s apparently in the First Class universe, like the other X Men one shots that have been coming out, but it’s got Dean Haspiel art. And the Circus of Crime. Teamed with Batroc ZE LEPAIRRRRRRRR!!!!!! Fuckin’A, dude. It kind of peters out by the end, but the Batroc bits are gold.

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