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What I bought – 16 November 2011

Every man always has handy a dozen glib reasons why he is right not to sacrifice himself. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, from The Gulag Archipelago)

I love the Cornhusker! Why is Magneto holding his hand like that? I wish all playing cards looked like that Run, punks! I don't know where that blood is coming from Everyone is stupid!  Yay! Man, I love cover text! Now THAT'S a costume! 'Community' is off the schedule?  NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Yay!  The Fifties! Man, this is gigantic!

Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X #3 (of 5) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

Yes, it’s time for another giant slice of awesome, courtesy of Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Ronda Pattison, and Jeff Powell. And once again, it’s almost too superb to write about. I mean, I could go over the plot – Robo is told where the fake phone call from NASA came from, and he thinks it came from “Majestic 12,” an evil organization; the scientists in England figure out a way to track the disappearing house; Robo leads his team to Omaha, where they discover it’s a clever trap; and things, of course, go BOOM! So while the plot reads like many, many other plots in comics and fiction in general, as always, the team’s attention to detail is what makes the book brilliant, from Wegener’s Cornhusker cover and his chalk drawing of Robo to Clevinger’s ways to transport the missing house that get more and more complicated until he lands on “very large truck” and the usual clever dialogue. Plus, MarkAndrew will HAVE to buy this book because it has a pirate in it (see below). Can you argue with pirates???? I think not! (Okay, it would have been cooler if it had been a cameo by one of the Scurvy Dogs, but that would have made this comic the perfect text, creating a wormhole into which the entire universe would have been sucked, crushing the life out of all of us in that absolute shining moment of glory.)

So, yeah. Atomic Robo = good. Don’t listen to Rob Schmidt! He’s dead inside!!!!!*

* I’m just kidding, as I’m sure Rob knows. The Internet is certainly a lousy place for sarcasm. I wish we had a sarcasm font. Our Dread Lord and Master should get on that right quick!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

He only shows up in this one panel, but he's my new favorite character!

Avengers Academy #22 (“Disappointments”) by Christos Gage (writer), Sean Chen (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Rebecca Buchman (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Former blog reader Tim Callahan (he’s way too snooty for us these days, writing for Tor.com and hanging out with Tucker Stone at the NYCC, but he used to stop by!) has long railed against Sean Chen, and while I don’t always agree with him, these past two issues of Avengers Academy have been pretty lousy. Awkward figure work, bad perspective, stiff action scenes, bland facial expressions – man, it ain’t good. Chen is leaving the book for other things (which is weird, because he was never the regular artist), and I’m perfectly happy with that. I have nothing against Chen as a person, but these past two issues, art-wise, have been pretty terrible.

Meanwhile, Gage is writing a heck of a book, as I’ve said pretty much since the beginning. The past few issues, he’s relied a bit too much on the students going nuts and fighting characters who aren’t really doing anything bad (last issue it was the Avengers, now it’s Cyclops’s rump X-Men), but I have enough faith in Gage that I think he’s probably setting something up with regard to their mental states rather than just being lazy. We’ll see. He does move the plot along, as Finesse finally gets to meet Magneto and realize her hero might not be worthy of her worship, Hazmat outs Lightspeed (it’s a pretty cool scene, actually), and Pietro and Magneto get to vent about Wanda (and editor Bill Roseman gets to call House of M a “classic,” seemingly without irony). It’s a solid issue, hampered by Chen’s artwork, true, but Gage still manages to get a lot into it. Tom Raney is drawing issue #23, and then Tom Grummett takes over. If you look up “meat-and-potatoes” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Tom Grummett, but he’s perfectly solid. So there’s that.

I guess the lesson is: Never disagree with Tim Callahan, because he’ll always end up being right. DAMN HIM!!!!! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where Tim Callahan is right.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

First: How dumb is Scott? Second: Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Blue Estate #7 (“Tonight’s the Night”) by Viktor Kalvachev (story/artist/colorist), Andrew Osborne (writer), Toby Cypress (artist), and Tomm Coker (artist). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

Kalvachev and Osborne hit the accelerator in this issue, as a great deal of what’s been brewing for six issues comes to a head in this issue. When last we left our principals, a hitman was about to kill Bruce Maddox, Rachel’s husband, because he controls all the money she needs to get her brother away from the gangsters who kidnapped him. Unbeknownst to the hitman, Bruce and his bodyguard have been planning to kill Rachel. The hitman, Clarence, ends up at the Maddox house on the same night that Bruce and his bodyguard, Marcellus, are planning to eliminate Rachel, so this issue turns into something of an orgy of violence. But who doesn’t love orgies of violence, amirite? Osborne tempers the violence the way most people do – with black humor – so it’s not quite as depressing as you might think; this book never takes itself too seriously, which is why it’s so much fun, so the fact that Bruce is somewhat of an idiot who thinks his action movie credentials qualify him for actual killing is hilarious, and the fact that Marcellus can distract Clarence with his (presumably large) penis is not exactly original but handled nicely. Through it all, Osborne and Kalvachev do a nice job making sure that the humor doesn’t completely overwhelm the story – by the end of the issue, after all, two people are dead – and they also keep the bigger plot moving along.

Nathan Fox takes a powder for this issue (I don’t know if he’s off the book), and Coker comes on, and it’s always nice to see Coker’s interior art as he seems to be doing mostly covers these days. His artwork here is actually looser than I’ve seen it in other books, and the fact that Kalvachev colors the entire issue helps the transition from his own more abstract work to Coker’s more photo-referenced art. Cypress finishes the issue with his usual flair, and, as usual, the look of the comic is well done and fairly seamless. The different artists usually handle scenes with completely different characters, but as this issue is one long scene, there’s the possibility that the work wouldn’t look as organic as it often does. Coker comes into the book at the right time (when Clarence shows up) and Kalvachev’s coloring makes sure that things stay connected.

We have five more issues of the “first season” of Blue Estate, and after the events of this issue, I’m curious where it’s going next. I’ll certainly be waiting eagerly for it, though!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

You have to watch out for those large naked men shooting guns at you!

Morning Glories #14 by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (artist), Alex Sollazzo (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $2.99, 32 pgs, FC, Image/Shadowline.

Spencer is really throwing a lot at us recently in Morning Glories, and that’s a good thing. After last issue’s apparent time travel (or whatever that was), in this issue we get a woman in 1693 Massachusetts seeing the future, and what she sees is the kids at Morning Glory Academy. Oooooooohhhh! Meanwhile, we revisit Hunter’s rant to Zoe and then see the aftermath from Zoe’s perspective, as she decides to turn the tables on Hunter quite nicely. We find out a bit more about what happens in the forest when the kids start competing against each other, and we also find out a bit about the administrators and what they’re up to. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, but at least Spencer seems to be moving the plot forward and showing us some facets of the answers, if not the entire ones. Plus, as he gets more comfortable with the kids, their dialogue is getting better. Zoe, of course, remains the best character, but everyone seems to be more interesting. Maybe it’s because Spencer is writing this like a typical school year, where everyone is guarded for a while until they get to know everyone better. Whatever the reason, the writing (as opposed to the plotting, which has always been good) is getting stronger, and that’s nice to see.

Image is bringing out the first twelve issues in a fancy hardcover, and if you dropped the book early on because it made no sense or if you never got into it in the first place, a collection of that size is a good place to go, because you can read the story in far fewer sittings and get a better idea of what Spencer is doing. I admit that the first 6-10 issues were intriguing but also a bit frustrating, as Spencer seemed more concerned with the mysteries than the characters. Recently, though, the book has really taken off, and it would be too bad if Spencer lost more readers than he gained because of his early dithering.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Zoe gets all the best lines

Northlanders #46 (“The Icelandic Trilogy Part Five: Christianity 999″) by Brian Wood (writer), Declan Shalvey (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

As the middle issue of the arc, Northlanders #46 is one of those difficult books to review. We’re basically past the introductions (Wood does bring in a bastard half-brother of Brida, whom she gives full rights of the family to as long as he helps her fight the Belgarssons) and, of course, the finale is next issue, so Wood makes sure he sets that up. He does show us a bit more about Brida, who is desperate to keep her family’s birthright together and enraged that the Christians would try to take it from her. As with many of the Northlanders stories, there’s a tension between compromise and stubbornness, and Wood has always done a very good job showing that both sides have advantages and disadvantages. This is typified by Brida, who will fight to the death, and her brother Mar, who doesn’t really care as long as the Christians leave him alone after he pays them their share. Mar, of course, isn’t around, so presumably Brida’s view will win out next issue. We’ll see.

Of course, part of the reason to read the book is Shalvey’s art, which is as good as ever. He gives us a nice, vicious sword fight in the beginning of the issue, followed by a gorgeous double-page splash. As with many of the artists on Northlanders, he’s called upon to draw the harsh northern wilderness, and he doesn’t disappoint. Wood continues to get excellent artists for the book, and Shalvey is just another example of that.

What will happen next issue? Will Brida sacrifice herself to save the Hauksson inheritance? Will Ott earn her respect? Will the Christians be driven into the sea (probably not)? Only issue #47 knows for sure!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

You know, when I shoot crossbow bolts at passersby, I get in trouble with Johnny Law

Severed #4 (of 7) (“Stealing Home”) by Scott Snyder (writer), Scott Tuft (writer), Attila Futaki (penciller/colorist), Bill Nelson (inker), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Last month, my good friend Ivan Hart Dominguez-Carson wondered why Jack is so very stupid, and famed commenter Dan Coyle said that Jack’s stupidity was one of the reasons why he dropped Severed. Well, I was on board because of a few reasons: 1) Since the book is set in 1916, I can forgive naïveté slightly more than I can if the book were set in 2011; 2) Jack has serious trust issues AND father issues, so he’s generally fucked up; 3) Sam totally calls him on it, so it’s not like every character is an idiot. Then, in this issue, Sam does something really, really stupid. “Yeah, kid, go to the old deserted diner – it’s totally safe!” Sigh. Now, I’m four issues in, the art is very good, Snyder and Tuft have done a nice job creating the tension on the book, but I’m conflicted. I’ve already pre-ordered issue #5, and I don’t want to stick my retailer with it, and if I’m willing to give a new ongoing six issues, I’m perfectly willing to give this the entire seven issues, and it’s not like it’s a bad comic, but … man, those kids are dumb. Dumb dumb dumb. And, of course, Snyder and Tuft pull the classic horror cliché of not showing something but implying it so we think someone is dead but I doubt it very much. Oh well. Today’s lesson: Businessmen tend not to set up their office in old abandoned diners. That’s SCIENCE, people!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Let's hope he flosses, at least

Thunderbolts #165 (“Golden Age Thunderbolts Part 3: The Fiery Death From Above”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Kev Walker (penciler), Terry Pallot (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Marvel.

There are some odd panels in this book, as if Walker was a bit rushed, and I went back and checked his inker, because Pallot inked the issue before this one, so it wasn’t that. The last few pages aren’t quite as crisp as Walker’s work usually is, so I wonder if he was pressed for time? It’s odd.

Parker ends the “Golden Age Thunderbolts” arc with a lot of fighting, naturally. I mean, it’s the good guys versus Nazi Human Torch clones, so there’s going to be mayhem. He also allows Satana to get busy with Namor, which is nice for both of them, and he points out that Captain America is still a boy scout even in the middle of a war (he’s a bit disturbed by how happy the Thunderbolts are to be slaughtering Nazi Human Torch clones). Moonstone manages to make sure that Baron Zemo is motivated to create history the “right” way, as well. It’s just another exciting and well-drawn issue of Parker’s Thunderbolts. There’s really nothing more to say. Next: Jack the Ripper! Parker digs his time travelin’ heroes!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, Troll Girl - you're so full of rage!

X-Factor #227 by Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (artist), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I know some people out there in Internet-land don’t like Peter David’s humor, mainly because the man digs him some puns, but when he’s not punning, he can write some very funny dialogue, mainly because it tends to sound like people speak and the humor comes from the situations in which the characters find themselves. It’s better than things you or I say (unless you have an editor following you around, which, let’s face it, would be pretty awesome), but it sounds like stuff you’d say to your friends when you’re sitting around bullshitting (an honorable and worthy pursuit, I think). So even though the X-Factor cast is quite pithy and quick, we can relate to them, because while David is driving the plot through dialogue, he’s revealing character and entertaining. This issue is a bit funnier than usual, but that doesn’t mean David scrimps on everything else. We find out a bit more about Bloodbath’s relationship with the Hangman (and yes, Bloodbath is still a terrible name – it’s not the Nineties anymore!), we get a bit with Guido’s new situation, and we get a typical Davidian cliffhanger, which is slightly weirder than usual. All in all, it’s another good issue of X-Factor. Kirk is still channeling Stuart Immonen, Monet still magically manages to keep her breasts inside her outfit, and all’s right in the world. Yay!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I wore an outfit like that to church once ... yeah, it didn't go over well

Zorro Rides Again #5 (of 12) by Matt Wagner (writer), Esteve Polls (artist), Oscar Manuel Martin (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

Last issue Diego’s father decided he was a tough guy and got a sword through his chest for his troubles, as predicted right here in this very column some months back!!!! (See, I don’t predict the hard stuff, I predict the ridiculously obvious and then crow about it when I’m right.) So, of course, in this issue Diego decides to get revenge, and he does something stupid (well, possibly – we’ll see how it shakes down next issue). What’s most interesting is that the alcalde, as a good politician, realizes what a clusterfuck Alejandro’s death is, and instead of praising Esteban for killing the old man, he actually threatens him with punishment. Usually bad guys are just bad guys, but Wagner points out that bad guys might be bad, but they’re not necessarily stupid, and the alcalde knows that he needs to massage public opinion if he wants his grand schemes to continue. So while this issue is pretty much a straightforward revenge tale (or at least the first part of one), Wagner doesn’t ignore the realities of what Alejandro’s death would mean in this setting.

It will be interesting to see where Wagner takes the story from here, given the last page of the issue. As I’ve said with regard to this series, it’s not as good as the earlier, Francavilla-drawn issues, but Polls draws what he needs to and Wagner is telling an entertaining yarn. Sometimes, that’s good enough.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Adding insult to injury!

Bob Powell’s Terror by Craig Yoe (ed.). $24.99, 144 pgs, FC, IDW.

This is a collection of horror comics from the 1950s. Plus, we get some neat biographical information about Bob Powell, which is always nice.

The Fracture of the Universal Boy by Michael Zulli (writer/artist) and Ryan Graff (letterer). $27.99, 199 pgs, BW, Eidolon Fine Arts.

Zulli’s ambitious project was delayed quite some time, but now it’s out, and it looks phenomenal. I can’t wait to dive into this sucker!

So let’s see what’s going on elsewhere in the world, shall we? My lovely 6-year-old daughter is still taking her drawing classes, and this week she came up with this:

She likes the bright colors, man!

She did this on her own after the class did a standard drawing, which I thought was pretty keen. I have been assured that it is oriented the correct way, in case you’re wondering (I thought this would be upside-down, but no!). It’s some sort of space ship – that’s Earth in the upper right – and no, I don’t know why it has smokestacks. Dare you question the drawing skills of a 6-year-old?!?!?!? Anyway, I thought it was pretty neat that she drew this on her own.

Speaking of pictures, I’ve been cleaning out my garage this past week (it’s always good to get rid of the detritus of life every so often) and I’ve found a bunch of old photographs and other goofy things. I found my third-, fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade class photographs – those are always a hoot:

Miss Barron was a great teacher. The best thing about this picture is that handsome devil in the top row totally checking out all the ladies next to him:

He's got game!

The girl in the middle, Patti, was one of the people I enlisted a few years ago to review my comics for me when I was back in Pennsylvania. I just got an e-mail from her last week about how her kids are digging all sorts of comics these days, some of which I recommended. I’m so proud to be able to contribute to the delinquency of minors!

Can you spot me in the next three pictures?

The best part of these pictures is, of course, the clothing. Check out Shawna in that last picture, rocking that prairie shirt (she’s third from the right in the back row). That’s fashion awesomeness!

I also found this picture, from the spring of 1987 (I would have been 15 or 16, depending on when exactly it was), when some friends of mine and I bumped into President Reagan in the Smithsonian:

Okay, it’s a cardboard cutout. This time, however, instead of fashion, the mullet is tremendous!

Finally, here’s a picture of me (not bowling) and a co-worker (bowling) playing bocce against two tie-wearing dudes:

This is from around the turn of the century – when I worked at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Oregon, we had offices at 200 SW Market Street in downtown Portland. In front of the building (which we called the Black Box because the windows were tinted), you can see two lawns (if you’re in satellite view). Every year the building had a bocce tournament, and our supervisors actually allowed us to enter and take time out of our work day to compete. Eric and I never won the tournament, but in one game, we had the biggest comeback anyone had ever seen, from down 1-13 to winning 16-14 (the games are to 15, but you must win by two). It was a lot of fun, and one of the few things I miss about working at 200 Market (interestingly enough, BCBSO’s main office was in the building next store, and if you worked in that building, you weren’t allowed to compete, because it wasn’t a Blue Cross tournament, but a 200 Market tournament).

I also found some silly stuff I’ve collected over the years. Here’s one of the more fun and misleading headlines I’ve ever seen:

He probably called his friends in the Police!

No, Gordon Sumner was not involved. But it would have been cooler if he had been. Then there’s one of the funniest quotes in a newspaper I’ve ever seen:

Wow. Sucks to be you, sir. Finally, I found this once in a newspaper (possibly the Oregonian, but I’m not sure) and thought it was fairly brilliant:

Iago rules!

Honestly, I’m not sure if this really counts as poetry, but it’s still awesome.

Anyway, moving on, I’m not sure if you saw the news that NBC is probably getting ready to cancel Community by removing it from the midseason schedule. I was a late convert to Community – I watched the first 4-5 episodes of its first year, didn’t love it, but got back into it in the second season thanks to all the praise it was getting. This year has been more experimental than downright funny, but it’s still a fantastic show mainly because showrunner Dan Harmon and his crew are willing to bend the confines of a 22-minute situation comedy and still make it entertaining. It’s never been highly-rated, but as that link points out, putting it up against American Idol or The X-Factor isn’t the best idea, as those shows might even kill something that has a very wide mass appeal, which Community didn’t. Oh well. I’m not too bent out of shape about it – as you may recall, I’m still in mourning for Double Rush and It’s Like, You Know – but it does show, once again, why network television is somewhat of a wasteland. But it does give us an opportunity to check out this Venn diagram.

On a more serious note, Congress is close to passing two bills that would basically allow corporations to censor the Internet, China-style! Read more about it here, here, here, and here. If you’re upset by the news (and I’m always wary about “the sky is falling” predictions, but it still sounds dire), go here and see what you can do. Or write your congressperson on your own. For me, the biggest problem I have with these bills is how confusing they are and if they become law, how many people will break it inadvertently? (Speaking of our hard-working Congress, they’ve re-affirmed that pizza is a vegetable. Good to know!)

On a more ghoulish note, this article (which is excerpted from a book) claims that for Lindsay Lohan to regain her popularity, she has to die. The idea is that she’s such a train wreck these days that only death will give her a bump in Q rating like it did for Michael Jackson, Elvis, and a bunch of other celebrities. It’s a horrid article, even though I understand what the moron writing it is saying. Lohan’s life is a train wreck, but she is, after all, not even 30 yet, and maybe she’s more concerned right now with getting her life together and NOT being a celebrity (probably the best thing for her if someone would only tell her that) than caring about her popularity. People like the dude who wrote that article are really creepy. That’s celebrity and celebrity coverage, I guess.

All right, it’s time for The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “The Captain”Kasey Chambers (1999) “Well I don’t have as many friends because I’m not as pretty as I was”
2. “Greenville”Lucinda Williams (1998) “You scream and shout and you make a scene, when you open your mouth you never say what you mean”
3. “Vervaceous”James (1999) “This time I’ve a starring role; hide the shape I’m in; I’m too old to sacrifice for gold and skin”
4. “Silent Night”Bon Jovi (1985) “I guess the dream got lost, ’cause baby you’re still you and I’m still me”1
5. “Andante, Andante”ABBA (1980) “Play me time and time again and make me strong”2
6. “One Short Night”Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (2010) “And as I move to let him in I can feel you crawl under my skin”
7. “Asleep on the Motorway” – Jesus Jones (2001) “There is a world beyond the glare of these lights”
8. “Summer, Highland Falls”Billy Joel (1976) “For all our mutual experience, our separate conclusions are the same”
9. “Eye for Eye” – Think Tree (1991) “You were promised a taste of honey and wine, all you got was a waste of money and time”3
10. “Get Up (Before the Night Is Over)” – Technotronic (1990) “Do what’s right and you just might win a battle you never fought”4

1 1980s power ballads FTMFW!

2 This has to be one of the sweetest songs about fucking multiple times.

3 Think Tree was formed in Boston and never had a huge following. This album was released on Caroline Records, which is an interesting but not gigantic label. So where did I find this CD? In a record store in Auckland, New Zealand. The world is an awesome place.

4 When I told my wife I bought this on iTunes, she said, “Who?” I almost cried.

How about we get a Totally Random Movie Quote!

“After my mother died, you know what he told me? ‘Robert, there’s really nothing to be said.’ ”
“He was bad with emotions.”
“I was eleven.”

I thought I’d do something fun for this post. Back in May, Bill Reed did a post not unlike these that I do and wrote something about the time it took to put it together. I forgot about it, but for some reason this week I decided to see how long it takes me to assemble this sucker. Here’s a breakdown:

I picked up my comics early this week, about 9 a.m. (all times are Mountain Standard Time) on Wednesday, because I noticed that my retailer was in the shop even though it was closed and I thought he probably had already pulled my comics because he knows I usually get there right when he opens. He had pulled my comics for me, and he was nice enough to sell them to me an hour earlier than usual. I came home and started reading them, which took me about 75 minutes, from 9.15 to 10.30. Some weeks it takes longer and some shorter, obviously, based on how many books I bought. This week was a fairly normal week – nine single issues is a decent haul, but not as small as the past two weeks and not as big as some of my weeks in the past have been. So, 75 minutes to read 9 comic books.

Then I had to scan the covers and the panels, load the covers and the panels, type out all the credits, and find all the links to the various creators’ sites. That’s the most boring part, but every other week, it gives me an opportunity to listen to the 3 Chicks podcast, because scanning doesn’t take much thought. On Wednesday, this operation took me 155 minutes, until about 2 p.m. in the afternoon (with some breaks for lunch and getting my daughter off the bus – it was an early-release day – and making sure she had stuff to eat).

Then I had to be a father for a while. My older daughter, Mia, has physical therapy on Wednesday afternoons, so I spoke with the therapist for a while. I picked up my younger daughter, Norah, at the bus stop. Then, about 3.45, I started writing the actual reviews. This is the quickest part of the post, because I just have to think about the books and type stuff. I wrote for about 45 minutes last night (before dinner and putting the kids to bed and watching television with my wife – I rarely do any reviewing after about 5 or 6 at night) and about 70 minutes this morning (I had a periodontist appointment in the middle of that), and finished writing reviews about 11.40. Then I had lunch, watched a little television, and cleaned up some dishes and emptied the litter boxes. At about 1 p.m. I sat down and did all the miscellaneous stuff, taking some time out to get Mia off the bus and get Norah at the bus stop (they come home at different times). Finding links for the songs on my iPod actually takes quite a while. Thinking of a movie to quote and thinking of a totally random hottie actually takes a while, too. Then I quickly read the post to check for errors, and I’m done! Today, this took me about 200 minutes – I started, as I said, at 1 p.m., and it’s getting close to 5 p.m. MST as I write this, and I’ve taken some breaks in between for various reasons. So, in all, it took me slightly over 9 hours to put this post together. That seems about normal. Not for the first time, I’m glad I don’t have a real job.

Anyway, sorry about that peek behind the curtain – I thought you might be interested!

Finally, have a nice day, everyone! It’s that rare time of the year, when living in Phoenix is an actual good thing, as it’s sunny and in the high 60s/low 70s here, and I’m loving having all the windows open! Fret not, though – it will be back in triple digits far too soon, and then I’ll be miserable again!

31 Comments

Where did you get Fracture of Universal Boy? I looked on Amazon and it’s not there. I looked on Eidelon’s site and nothing. Does this book actually exist?

Seth: It was listed in Previews in July, so I ordered it, and it arrived in my store on Wednesday. It exists, I swear! It’s right next to me right now!

I’m actually very envious. It looks wonderful.

Other things I have been right about:
Heroes was a terrible show even in Season One.
Lost was terrible all the way through, but with actors good enough to trick you into thinking otherwise.
Scalped.
DeMarco Murray.
Wonder Woman would be the best of the new 52.
The short life of non-streaming, non-downloadable HD formats.
The inherent flaws in the No Child Left Behind measurement system.

Things I have been wrong about:
That time I said, now is the time to buy a house. Prices will NOT go down any more. (Two years ago.)
King City.
The overall quality of the new Action Comics.
That I don’t really need an iPhone.
Hellboy.
The films of Bryan Singer.
That Battlestar Galactica would be worth watching for even one season.

So, yeah, I’m batting about .500. Don’t worry.

Interesting comment about Lindsay Lohan. She should hold off on dying for another 2 years. She’ll be 27 then. Lots of famous celebrities have died at the age of 27. Dunno why that stuck in my head.

Speaking of dying, what do you think the odds are of the three Marvel books mention above will be cancelled among the ever-growing list of recent Marvel cancellations? PunisherMax being the exception, since that was coming to an “end” of the storyline.

Speaking of dying, what do you think the odds are of the three Marvel books mention above will be cancelled among the ever-growing list of recent Marvel cancellations?

I buy 3 Marvel titles, and Thunderbolts and X-Factor are two of them, as well as being two of my favorites to read each month. I keep hearing their names being bantered around as also being on the chopping block and I keep hoping and praying that’s not true. Both are mid to low level sellers, true, but both have pretty loyal fan bases and have been very stable sellers for a long time now. I’d be very sad to see them go…

Oh, and that third title I’ve had on my pull list from Marvel? Powers. Which is fast approaching the one year anniversary of its last issue! Sigh…

In a world where Tim Callahan is right about something, i think the survivors would envy the dead.

I really hope Community isn’t canceled. It may not be the most consistently funny show on TV, but the best episodes of Community are better than almost anything else on TV.

Well this is where I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you Greg… For a book like Avengers Academy, Sean Chen was like a natural fit because of how clean and neat his artwork is. It is a superhero / teen book where each character should be instant recognizable and Chen for the large part depicted that. As a result, his fight scenes with the teens and adults capture their personalities and emotions in my opinion.

By contrast, you love Kev Walker’s art on Thunderbolts and it fits the type of book that is by being “dirty” and “scratchy” in parts. I may not like it for most books, but it’s a natural. I know it is a personal bias, but I have thought that way about his art since his Image days. Great on dirty, dark scenes and fights but felt it was disjointed during quiet scenes.

Again, just my opinion but I am going to miss Sean Chen on Avengers Academy and hope he gets another team book in the Marvel U.

You should have stuck with Gen Hope. It was packed with goodness.

The quote’s from Inception.

Uau, Tim Callahan and I agree about Heroes and Lost. I didn’t expect that. The Hellboy part confuses me, though. So you didn’t enjoy the comic when it first started? I think the quality hasn’t varied all these years.

The Sting headline was funny enough, but your added punchline about the Police was incredibly well-done.

I need to rewatch Lost. I thought it worked on an episode by episode basis, just not as an overarching narrative. As someone who watched X-Files, I came to the conclusion very very early on that there was no coherent overarching theme and that expecting one would invariably lead to disappointment, so I just treated each episode like a character-driven mini-movie and it was much more enjoyable to me that way.

Except for Season 2, which sucked even on an episode by episode basis.

I too felt that Heroes was a bad show even from Season 1, even though I’ve yet to see a single episode. I knew from the moment the creators behind it were announced.

Also, am I the only one who finds the new Wonder Woman very confusing? Then again, I’ve never liked anything Azzarello has written and find his “clever” dialogue tics exceedingly annoying.

Is that Gene Simmons or Jim Belushi on the playing card on the Blue Estate cover? Creators must be Kiss or K9 fans…

@T: I wouldn’t say confusing, but I do think that there’s something off about it.Wonder Woman seems the least interesting character in her own comic.

I loved Azzarello’s dialogue in the beginning of 100 Bullets, but I agree that it became grating after a while. That is one of the reasons why his Hellblazer run is my least favorite of the whole series.

@Pete Woodhouse: The first name that came to my mind when I looked at that cover was Nicholas Cage, but I can see Gene Simmons in there too.

I saw Nic Cage in that cover too.

If X-Factor gets cancelled it’ll be a shame. Is it not mutanty enough? Or is it that because, for the most part, they’re C-list characters? I assume this is still a character driven vs. story driven business sadly.

Ed (A Different One)

November 18, 2011 at 10:18 am

“It’s just another exciting and well-drawn issue of Parker’s Thunderbolts.”

I feel like you can sum up pretty much all of Parker’s work that way. “Just another highly competent, entertaining and oftentimes thoughtful read from Parker. Nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary – just consistently good stuff.”

I feel like Parker is the Bill Mantlo of this era. He just bebops along, putting out consistently good-to-great stuff, and flying just below that super-star threshold (or what goes for it nowadays in comics).

We should have a National Jeff Parker Appreciation Day. You know, because he deserves some, and otherwise he may never get it . . . .

The Dude: You’re right, confusing may not be the right word. After all, I understood everything that was happening in the plot. It is “off” as you put it, but I can’t quite think of the right word for it. Something about his writing does kind of suck me out of the story, and it’s definitely more on the scripting level than the plot level. I’m really at a loss for how to describe it better.

It’s kind of weird how Tom Grummett always gets praised as meat and potatoes or workmanlike, because to me he’s an incredibly slick, stylized and flashy artist, in a good way. I’ve loved his work since I first saw it on New Teen Titans, and I’ve always found him to be a draw. He’s one of the few artists who will make me buy a book just because he’s working on it. I like his Teen Titans work better than George Perez and Mike McKone’s. He’s still the definitive Connor Kent and Tim Drake artist to me. I’m actually going to finally try Avengers Academy for the first time just because he’s joining it. Despite all the raves about the writing, i was staying away because of Mike McKone.

My point is, I truly think after over a decade of reading the internet that I am the only one who thinks Grummett rises above competent. No one ever seems very moved by his artwork the way I am.

I believe Grummett has won a Comic Buyers Guide Award for Favorite Artist.

Tim: Well, you’re still right more than I am, so that’s something. Not much, but something!

Tom and Andrew: In the letters column of this issue of X-Factor, David seems to imply that the book isn’t going anywhere. He could be talking out of his butt, but you’d think someone like David would be honest about the book’s sales if it was going in the tank. I don’t know about the AA and T-Bolts, because I don’t pay attention to sales. It would be a shame, because they’re solid comics, but that’s the way the world works, unfortunately.

Daryll: Chen’s style is certainly good for a book like AA, but I just don’t always like his actual linework. His first issue of AA, a few months ago, was okay, and I even liked some of the art on that X-Men: The End series (I didn’t buy it all, because I couldn’t deal with Claremont, but Chen did the early issues, at least). I agree that for a superhero book, his style works, but I still think the problems I wrote about above apply. As for Walker – I also agree with you, but the good thing about T-Bolts is that he does get to go nuts a lot AND there aren’t a ton of “quiet moments.” Perhaps I wouldn’t be as impressed if he was on a book like AA, which relies on good character work, but on T-Bolts, he rocks. To each his own, obviously.

Ghostplanet: I thought about it, but as with all these “Regenesis” X-books, it’s such a natural jumping-off point that I took it. As I’m doing these days, if I hear more good things about it, I’ll get the trade.

Ed: Yeah, Parker does kind of truck along writing good comics, doesn’t he? Maybe someday he’ll be a superstar!

T.: That’s fascinating, because obviously I disagree. I think Grummett is a stronger artist than McKone, but he’s in the same ballpark, for me. That’s cool that you’re going to give the book a try (McKone hasn’t been around for a while, actually – Raney has been the “regular” artist for a spell), but I find that really interesting. To me, AA has had fairly solid and almost interchangeable artists, with Raney probably being the best one.

I like Grummett’s art, but I don’t know HOW much, really. He’s not a favorite artist, but he’s pretty good, and he’s been on good (not great) runs of books like Superboy, Robin, and whatever Superman triangle title he was on. (He could probably trade arcs on a book with Mark Bagley and people wouldn’t be too put off.)

I’m a bit confused about your comment, Greg, on XFactor. “David seems to imply that the book isn’t going anywhere.” If the book isn’t going anywhere, why should we follow it if it’s got no point? Wha?

Oh, you mean it’s not getting cancelled!

I like my version better.

Obviously, it’s able to continue because of all the people confused into thinking it’s an adaptation of the Simon Cowell show….

I believe Grummett has won a Comic Buyers Guide Award for Favorite Artist.

Cool, I didn’t know that. Do you know around what year? I tried Googling but had no luck.

That’s fascinating, because obviously I disagree.

Trust me, you’re not alone. I’m used to being in the minority on this.

My problem with McKone is his faces. They are always glazed over, emotionally flat and looking like they’re falling asleep, no matter what they’re doing with their bodies. Like it could be a big fight scene and the faces of everyone still looks oddly relaxed. Maybe it only seems that way to me but the glazed over and sometimes droopy expressions always end up sucking me out of the scene.

I guess I’m the only one that cares. I think that you’re 3rd from the right (not including the teacher) back row in the first one and then glasses boy in the back row on the next 2. But if you wouldn’t have told us where you were in the very first one, I probably wouldn’t have found you.

I feel like I should know the movie quote, but I have no idea.

Da Fug: You got it. Thanks for caring!

The movie is Inception, by the way.

Back in the 90s, when I bought nothing but Electric Blue Superman comics, Tom Grummett was my favorite artist.

*sob* Community……

BTW Greg, over the weekend Comedy Central showed the Donald Glover Stand Up Special…. Funny Stuff from the Peter Parker wannabe…

I find it hard to imagine that anyone wouldn’t like Azzarello’s dialogue style, but to each his own I guess. I like “natural” dialogue along the lines of The Big Lebowski, but I also like stylized, punchy dialogue full of double meanings and clever wordplay like Azzarello’s work in 100 Bullets. It’s not how anyone actually talks, but it’s entertaining and goes perfectly with the stylized art of Eduardo Risso.

Oh, and for those speculating on the figure on the Blue Estate cover, he’s actually one of the main characters in the comic book, an aging martial arts movie star based on Seagal. His name is Bruce Maddox

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