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What I bought – 21 December 2011

Was the rise of the radical intelligentsia desirable, was their unchecked progress necessary in order that mankind might be led to the broad uplands of democratic freedom? Or was the very concept of democratic freedom a blind alley, developed to make the world safe for an intelligentsia which is only happy when playing at politics, at no matter what cost in suffering to the multitude? (Edward Crankshaw, from The Fall of the House of Habsburg)

The God of All Comics is back, baby! Man, Chaykin is pretty terrible these days, isn't he? Dang, that's a cool cover John doesn't actually go to New York in this comic Brereton + Roman history = AWESOME! Well, I mean, maybe he should move away from Death Way to give away the game, DC So much RAGE! Now THAT'S funny! With Sergio Aragones?!?!? Well, that has to suck She actually wears that hat in this comic! Omnibi rule, man!

Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes by Grant “That shit I’m writing now is for suckers – this is the good stuff!” Morrison (writer), Cameron Stewart (artist, chapter one), Chris Burnham (artist, chapter two), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $6.99, 52 pgs*, FC, DC.

* Fifty-two???? Spooooooooky!!!!!!

Noted DC apologist FunkyGreenJerusalem claims I’m wrong about the God of All Comics’ Action Comics, of which I bought three issues before bailing because it was, frankly, as dull as dishwater. He said, and I quote:

I disagree with you so much about Morrison’s current superhero work, Greg. I think this happened every time Morrison hasongoins [totally sic!] – people get bored, and say he’s lost it, or hit rough patches. Then, once the work is finished and collected, and people re-read it, or he’s doing another ongoing, people start talking about how good he used to be on that book. It happend [sic] with JLA, it happened with X-Men – I bet the Brits were saying it during in Animal Man and Doom Patrol. People should just try and enjoy it whilst it’s coming out – he’ll make it all work, and it will be great.

That may certainly be true, and I certainly took Morrison to task several times during his Batman years, but that was mainly because it appeared that he was trying to be too clever and, of course, that he didn’t have enough juice with DC to get good artists on the book. I don’t agree that “he’ll make it work” all the time – when you re-read some (very little, of course, because he’s still Morrison) of his work, it’s not as clever as it first appears – but I always give him a chance. The problem I had with Action is not that it was bad, but it was so conventional and therefore boring. Perhaps he’s just laying the groundwork for crazy shit later on, but remember how he began his run on Batman – with a lot of insanity. At that time I was just trying to keep up, and while I was annoyed with it, you’ll notice I have never bailed on Batman because he eventually got better artists and the story started to make sense. In the first three issues of Action, everything made perfect sense, and that might have been part of the problem.

That’s a roundabout way of saying that Leviathan Strikes, collecting the final two pre-Flashpoint issues of Batman, Incorporated, contains more interesting stuff on any random page than Action Comics did in its first three issues. I just opened it on this page:

That’s a more exciting page than any in three issues of Action Comics, and that’s not even the most exciting page in this comic book – it’s about the middle of the pack. This is the kind of insane superhero action I like to see from Morrison, not Lex Luthor being a boring xenophobe and that mustached dude acting like a baby when he thinks about Lois rejecting him. Just because I’m disappointed by Action doesn’t mean I won’t get the finale of his Batman epic next year or anything else Morrison writes. It’s just that, for whatever reason, his “new 52″ work hasn’t been up to snuff yet.

This comic, however, is up to snuff. Stewart’s Batgirl-centric story of her adventure at St. Hadrian’s School for Girls is ridiculous in all the right ways, and Morrison, as he usually does, gives us a sidekick who has earned Batman’s trust and is allowed to do quite a lot on her own (Batman needs to come in at the end, but more to assist rather than to rescue). Burnham draws the second issue, as Batman, Dick, Tim, and Damian fight their way through Dr. Dedalus’s labyrinth of death, and it’s really a magnificently written and drawn issue. Of course, first we have to get past the way Burnham draws Lucius Fox, which bugged me:

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Lucius used to be a businessman in his late 40s/early 50s, and now he’s a septuagenarian who looks vaguely servant-like. I think it’s the bow tie. NO ONE LOOKS GOOD IN A BOW TIE UNLESS THEY’RE WEARING A TUXEDO! Not Tucker Carlson – I mean, he’s a tool, but he makes it worse by wearing a bow tie; not Darren Criss; not Kanye West. If they can’t pull it off, what makes Lucius think he can?!?!?!? Anyway, he only shows up on the first few pages, and then we can move on. It’s really a marvelous issue, with Morrison and Burnham going all Steranko on us:

Where's Nick Fury?

I don’t want to give too much away, but it sets up the giant 2012 series very well, and while the reveal might be a bit conventional, it certainly makes sense in the grand scheme of things. THIS IS THE MORRISON THAT MADE ME A WHORRISON IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!! I don’t know who that dude writing Action Comics is – I’d think it’s this guy’s evil twin, but maybe it’s this guy’s boring twin. So there, you crazy Sydneysider: Chew on that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Two totally Airwolf panels:

Makes perfect sense to me!

Dark Horse Presents #7. “Hellboy Versus the Aztec Mummy” by Mike Mignola (writer/artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer); “Skeleton Key: Lost Property” by Andi Watson (writer/artist); “Blood Chapter 6″ by Neal Adams (writer/artist) and Moose (colorist); “Marked Man Part Seven” by Howard Chaykin (writer/artist), Jesus Aburto (colorist), and Ken Bruzenak (letterer); “Skultar the Unconquered Chapter One” by M. J. Butler (writer) and Mark Wheatley (artist/letterer); “Buntori” by Stan Sakai (writer/artist) and Tom Luth (colorist); “Concrete Park Book One: You Send Me Chapter One” by Tony Puryear (writer/artist/colorist); “The Speaker” by Brandon Graham (writer/artist); “The Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizzaboy” by Filipe Melo (writer), Juan Cavia (artist), Santiago Villa (colorist), Pedro Semedo (letterer), and João Pombeiro (adapter); “Finder: Third World Part 7″ by Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Bill Mudron (colorist). $7.99, 80 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.


* I love the luchador wearing a white suit. Sadly, he only gets one panel, but you can totally see him hitting the disco after this!
* Andi Watson draws delightful comics. Yes, I used the adjective “delightful.” You wanna make something of it?
* Neal Adams is weird. Seriously. If you’ve never seen a body’s blood fighting its soul, well, you might want to check this issue out.
* I know I’ve said it before, but what happened to Howard Chaykin? And how can smart comics readers (like Chad N. and Tim C.) still think he’s any good?
* “Skultar the Unconquered” is hilarious. A nice take on the whole sword-and-sorcery story. We’ll see where it goes from here.
* I really should get some Usagi Yojimbo. One of these days …
* “Concrete Park” is interesting despite the propaganda, although I’m not sure what “5:78 a.m.” is.
* Brandon Graham is awesome. But you already knew that.
* There’s nothing scarier than demonic little girls.
* It’s actually funny to see Jaeger lose his shit occasionally.
* Dark Horse Presents is quite a good comic. It really never disappoints. Even the Chaykin story is interesting despite the painful art. And the Adams story is bizarre but entertaining. Lots of good stuff every month. Let’s hope it’s doing well, sales-wise!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:


Fables #112 (“All in a Single Night”) by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Dan Green (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Willingham usually writes a good Christmas story, and this issue is no exception – it’s kind of a Christmas Carol story, in that Rose Red visits three spirits and tries to determine what she’s supposed to do, but Willingham ties it into the bigger story and other fables, so there’s that. Red has to visit three different aspects of hope so she can decide what kind of hope she will be – this is going back a bit in the series, but Willingham gets us caught up quickly – and along the way, she has to confront some dark things, and she doesn’t come out of it unscathed. I’m a bit puzzled by an agreement she makes with a ghost – she doesn’t actually agree to anything, and his terms are very vague, but when it comes time to pay up, he becomes slightly sinister, which doesn’t seem fair to Red at all. Either way, as always with Fables‘ standalone issue, Willingham manages to move the plot of the bigger narrative along. Plus, despite the plethora of inkers and the fact that next issue features guest artists (including Adam Hughes?), it’s nice to see Buckingham draw all 30 pages of this sucker. I mean, how did he survive?

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Gossiping reindeer crack me up

Hellblazer #286 (“The Devil’s Trench Coat Part Four: Let’s All Go to Hell”) by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouter), Stefano Landini (finisher), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I was reading some message board or forum or comment thread in which someone expressed their displeasure about the fact that Milligan had built a story arc around John’s trench coat coming alive. Sure, when you put it that way, it sounds ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than a basic recitation of the plots of comic books since time began, especially ones that are more complex than “bad guy does something bad, good guy punches him.” The point is, Milligan has done so many good things on this book, and the way he’s been going, the idea of a sentient trench coat doesn’t sound so outlandish. I mean, it’s bizarre, but not in a way that is beyond the pale of what goes on in a Hellblazer comic book. This story arc has been more about John’s relationship with Gemma than the trench coat, anyway – the two threads converge in a way, but the familial one is far more important. This arc leads directly into the next – Gemma has charged John with finding out why her mother, his sister, is in hell. That’s more important than whether John’s trench coat is killing people (which, you know, it is).

Camuncoli’s art, which I don’t often discuss, looks a bit rushed here – it’s still Landini finishing, but Loughridge doesn’t usually color him, so perhaps that has something to do with it. It’s just a bit sloppy, and it’s too bad. Camuncoli’s art on Hellblazer has been nice and crisp for the most part, and I hope his Marvel work isn’t becoming more important to him than his work on this comic. We’ll see how it goes – he’s listed as the artist on the next two issues, after all, so obviously he’s not pressed for time. I’d like to see him continue on the book, because he’s doing a good job. This issue looks a bit sloppy, though. Oh well.

So, yes: a story about a sentient trench coat is a bit silly. But this was still a pretty neat arc. As they’ve been since Milligan took over!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Gemma goes hardcore!

The Last Battle by Tito Faraci (writer), Dan Brereton (artist), and Douglas Sherwood (letterer). $7.99, 62 pgs, FC, Image.

I’m a fan of history, I’m interested in Roman history, and I like Dan Brereton. Plus, Vercingetorix is a presence in this book (he doesn’t actually appear), and I’ve been keen on Vercingetorix for years, since I read that some dude back in the 1800s wrote a fake Shakespeare play based on his life. So yeah, I’m pretty much the audience for this book. Will you like it? Well, it depends on whether you like Dan Brereton, I suppose. His art is superb as it always is. It’s not quite as insane as it occasionally is, but the dude still knows what he’s doing, and there’s plenty of violence in this book to sate even the bloodthirstiest among you! Well, maybe not that much, but it’s a story about a war between the Romans and the Gauls, so yeah, people get killed.

Faraci’s story is pretty good, but not great. Caius Rodius, a Roman general who used to fight with Julius Caesar, is called back into service in 52 B.C. because Caesar needs him for a special mission. Caesar is besieging a city of Gauls, but a relief force is on the way. The relief force is led by a man named Cammius, who was raised as a Roman by … Rodius. Of course! Will Rodius choose Rome over the man he thinks of almost as a son? Will Cammius dare raise a sword against his foster father? Does Caesar have a devious motive behind sending Rodius out to stop Cammius? All these questions will be answered! It’s a fairly standard story, but Faraci does a nice job keeping things moving, and he even manages to sort everything out by the end of the book. There’s a bit of the whole “Roman Republic versus Roman Empire” deal that serves as a metaphor these days for the republican, more democratic dude fighting against fascism, which is a completely false dichotomy but which works in this context far better than it did, for instance, than in Gladiator (the ending of which was painful to anyone with a basic knowledge of history). At least in 52 B.C. this was still an argument that Romans could have with each other, even if it was for very different reasons than given in this comic. But it gives Faraci a way into the conflict between Rodius and Caesar, who look at Rome very differently.

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The Last Battle isn’t the greatest comic, but it’s a nice action story that gives us a peek at a time we don’t often see in comics. So that’s keen. Plus, Brereton!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

'Oh, wow, didn't see you there'

Near Death #4 by Jay Faerber (writer), Simone Guglielmini (artist), Ron Riley (colorist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Image.

I was watching Terra Nova last night. Why? you might ask. Well, it’s entertaining and brainless, and that’s all I want sometimes. But the characters made me angry, and I was actually yelling at the screen because they’re so stupid. So the bad guy, moustache-twirlingly played by Ashley Zukerman, has taken over the colony and driven Stephen Lang out into the jungle. So he’s sitting in the bar and putting the creepy moves on Alison Miller, in as close to this year’s edgy theme, incest, as FOX is willing to go (he’s Stephen Lang’s son, she kind of thinks Commander Taylor as a father since hers was killed, so there’s that), which pisses off Landon Liboiron, who’s already in a funk because, in one of the most hilarious scenes in television this year, his girlfriend walked through the portal and immediately got killed. So Josh (Liboiron) bashes Lucas (Zukerman) over the head and punches him a few times before the soldiers pull him off of their boss. Why doesn’t Josh bash him over the head with a bottle and then slice his carotid with the shards? Threat over! The show has made it clear that Lucas is the only one who knows how to make the portal between Dino-Land and 2149 work both ways, so if he’s dead, the evil capitalists can’t exploit it anymore. Anyway, Josh doesn’t kill Lucas, and the soldiers begin to beat him up. Poor Jason O’Mara, starring in yet another time travel series that’s going to be cancelled, shows up and bashes Lucas because they’re beating on his son. I can buy Josh, a punk kid, not killing Lucas, but his dad the cop? He totally had the drop on Lucas! There had to be a knife lying around! Then, when O’Mara is alone with Lucas, who’s about to torture him, his hands are bound – in front of him, mind you – and he’s about a foot from Lucas. No head butt? No kick in the balls? Lucas isn’t a soldier, and Jim is a cop. He could easily knock Lucas down and kick the shit out of him. But no!

Okay, so now the Shannons have escaped with the help of Simone Kessel, who stays behind even though she knows the bad guys will know she helped and will kill her. So they drag her in front of Lucas. She’s a soldier and they let her stand up in front of him (her hands are bound behind her back). Lucas actually allows her some time to tell him where the Shannons are going, for crying out loud. She knows she’s going to die, but does she run at Lucas (who’s not holding his gun at this time) and at least try to do something nasty to him before the others react? No. She just stands there and lets him shoot her in the head.

Finally, the good guys capture Lucas later on. Instead of bashing him over the head into unconsciousness (or, better yet, shooting him in the brain), they leave him, tied up and in the custody of Skye (Miller), who’s playing a teenaged girl with no military training whatsoever. Of course he escapes! Then, when Stephen Lang beats the shit out of him, he fakes repentence, and of course Stephen Lang falls for it! Jesus, Taylor, I know he’s your son and all, but don’t be such an idiot! So Lucas stabs Taylor, but along comes Skye, who finally does what should have been done an hour ago – she shoots Lucas twice. Even she makes a mistake – she should have walked over and shot him right between the eyes for good measure! So of course he’s not dead, and if the show survives, I’m sure he’ll somehow live through leaking blood from two bullet wounds with no medical assistance whatsoever. Man, why is everyone on this show so stupid?

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So what’s my point? Well, Markham isn’t quite as dim-witted in this issue as Near Death as every single good guy in Terra Nova, but for a guy who’s been a cold-blooded hit man for years, he’s awfully trusting. The software guy who got in bed with the Triads? Yeah, maybe you shouldn’t trust him too much. I have a feeling he’s not as naïve as he acts. This is the first story that doesn’t wrap up in one issue, so we’ll have to see, but Markham seems taken in fairly easily. I mean, I trust Nigerian princes with my money and even I thought he was a bit shady! Oh, and we circle back to issue #1 and that guy that took over Markham’s job when he went straight and whom Markham shot. I think I wrote at the time that maybe Markham should have stopped and made sure the dude was dead. YOU ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE TARGET IS DEAD!!!!!! I’ve fired a gun once in my life and I know that. Sigh.

Still, Near Death is a nifty comic. Faerber moves things along well, and the cliffhanger is a nice one, and the story is exciting even if it might hinge on Markham being an idiot. It’s certainly not as shitty as Terra Nova. You’ll notice I didn’t even get into the plot holes in that thing, because that would be a black hole from which none of us will ever escape!!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, I mean, it's a start, innit?

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #2 (of 6) (“Chaotic Terrain”) by Nick Spencer (writer), Wes Craig (artist), Jerry Ordway (artist), Hi-Fi (colorist), Chris Beckett (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

I was listening to the House to Astonish podcast, and Mr. Kennedy and Mr. O’Brien were saying that issue #1 of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents was so far from a #1 issue that it was puzzling that DC even called it that. Now, saying DC (or Marvel) did something dumb is like saying Skip Bayless said something idiotic – it’s kind of axiomatic – but it is somewhat interesting that DC is allowing Spencer to wrap this up, especially because issue #10 of the pre-Flashpoint series was a fairly good place to end it. As I’ve often mentioned, Spencer has some negatives of Danny D. and Jimmy Lee and L’il Geoff in some kind of compromising position, so I guess that’s why, but you’d think they would be more upfront about this being “volume 2.” I wonder what Al and Paul will think of this week’s Batman, Incorporated event. It’s basically the same thing. I sympathize with Paul and Al, because there’s no indication whatsoever that the first issue of this mini-series is “issue #11″ of the regular series. That said, their complaint about not knowing who Demo was rings hollow. I didn’t know who he was, either (a quick Google search showed me), but I figured he was just a bad guy from the past and Spencer would get around to explaining him. Which he does, in this issue. Problem solved!

I’m actually kind of glad that Spencer gets around to killing some characters – the basis of the series is that the suits burn out the users and kill them, and while he doesn’t do that, the idea of expendable heroes who are just there to wear powered suits is interesting, and Demo certainly has no qualms about killing them. I’m not sure why DC basically gives it away on the cover, but Spencer still does a nice job leading up to Dynamo’s death. Plus, Lian is totally bad-ass, which is always cool. And Craig is still doing a wonderful job, while Ordway’s old-school art makes the flashback nice and old-school, which is the vibe Spencer is going for. I was optimistic after issue #1, and the second issue is a solid as that was. I fear for all our principals, but oh well – theirs is not to reason why and all that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Sounds simple to me!

Thunderbolts #167 (“The Ripper Tour Part Two”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Declan Shalvey (artist), Frank Martin (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Marvel.

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Inadvertently, I’m on a Jack the Ripper kick recently. This past week I finally got around to watching Whitechapel, the first series of which concerned a Ripper copycat in 2008 London, and of course this comic is dealing with the Ripper’s crimes. Whitechapel is a pretty good show – I think I liked the second series, about the sons of Ronnie Kray committing crimes, more than the first – and it shows the differences between British and American police procedurals. Both follow a formula, but because the British ones tend to be three episodes or so, they can delve into things a bit more. Plus, they tend to create better psychological problems for the characters and follow them through. DI Chandler’s OCD isn’t a primary focus of the show, but when it flares up, it’s a frighteningly disturbing moment (as when he can’t leave his office because he’s turning the lights on and off repeatedly). Character quirks in American police shows tend to be just that – quirks – and while the trend these days is for long-running villains to pop up now and then to vex our heroes over the course of a season, the cases are more formulaic because they have to be resolved in one hour blocks. The three British police procedurals I’ve watched this year – this one, Luther (with Idris Elba), and Case Histories (with Jason Isaacs) – have been really excellent dramas. Plus, Whitechapel stars Philip Davis as DS Miles, and both my lovely wife and I immediately said, “Hey, it’s the British Gary Busey!” when he showed up. It also features Claire Rushbrook, and because Krys and I are so in sync, when she said, “I knew I had seen her before – she was in, in …” and she couldn’t find the reference, I said, “Yes, she was,” because I knew she was thinking of Secret & Lies, Mike Leigh’s brilliant 1996 movie, in which she played Brenda Blethyn’s daughter. We’re on the same wavelength, man!

Oh, this issue? Well, obviously Hyde isn’t Jack the Ripper … or, at least, he is, but not for the reasons we think. The Thunderbolts may be bad guys, but they’re not evil, after all – they’re roguish anti-heroes! So they need to help Hyde and Satana stop the dastardly stuff that’s going on. I’m sure that our friends in the 3 Chicks podcast will love the fact that the plot hinges on crazy witches being crazy (it’s no “women be shoppin’,” but it’s in the ballpark!), but hey, the Iceni made it into a comic book, so that’s kind of cool, right? As usual, this is just a way for Parker to have a blast doing crazy comic booky things and for Shalvey (or Walker or whoever) to have fun drawing Satana, say, ripping souls out of bodies (which really isn’t as gross as it sounds). And, because Parker isn’t done being wacky, our time-traveling anti-heroes next turn up in Camelot, which already looks anachronistic. But I assume that it’s Sir Percy of Scandia at the end of this issue. I mean, Parker surely wouldn’t screw that up, would he?

Anyway, things get sorted and Satana (I guess?) channels the Rolling Stones when she says “We are all Jack the Ripper.” Ooooh, deep, man! It makes as much sense as Sir William Gull. Yeah, you heard me, Alan Moore!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Heck, I'd be miffed too

X-Factor #229 (“They Keep Killing Madrox Part One”) by Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciler), Guillermo Ortego (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I absolutely love that cover, because it’s so dramatic and goofy at the same time. Peter David refuses to take comics too seriously, even when he’s writing serious comics. I assume he had something to do with Yardin doing this cover. I could be wrong.

After messing around with us for a few issues about what exactly happened when Madrox got stabbed and presumably killed, David gets around to explaining it. Madrox is apparently jumping dimensions whenever one of his “primes” gets killed, which is really confusing (if his “prime” was killed in the regular 616 universe, who’s jumping dimensions now?), so he ends up in a hotel room where he and Layla lie dead on their wedding night. He interacts with the X-Men of that universe (David’s penchant for running a joke into the ground comes to the fore here when a bunch of characters ask why he has an “M” on his face, including the character who’s about to kill him*), and it’s fun to see Longshot and Shatterstar in their 1990s glory, long hair flowing in the wind! So of course this Madrox gets killed and immediately jumps dimensions, and I assume this will occur for an issue or two until Jamie can figure it all out. It’s a fun little comic (as fun as a book that includes a brutal killing can be, I guess), and as the superb Ms. Lupacchino is back on art, it’s a good-looking comic, too (Kirk did a nice job on the last few issues, but I really like Lupacchino’s brash, sexy, “more Dodson-than-the-Dodsons” pencil work). Okay, Rahne’s and Theresa’s necks freak me out a little, but nothing’s perfect, right?

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David continues to do his thing. And X-Factor continues to be extremely enjoyable. And I continue to read it! Everyone wins!

(* Speaking of running jokes, I like the one on Person of Interest, where everyone describes Jim Caviezel to Taraji Henson as a “guy wearing a suit.” Now that she’s seen him, though, I assume that joke will go away. Too bad. The show is funnier than it appears to be, and that was part of it.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, Logan - you hate everyone!

Jon Sable: Freelance Omnibus volume 2 by Mike Grell (writer/artist), with an odd cameo by Sergio Aragones. $29.99, 412 pgs, FC, IDW.

I just read Shaman’s Tears and didn’t like it as much as I liked the first volume of Jon Sable. Grell seemed to be trying too hard to make it relevant. Still, this should be good, right?

The Li’l Depressed Boy volume zero: Lonely Heart Blues by S. Steven Struble (writer/colorist/letterer) and a bunch o’ artists. $9.99, 83 pgs, BlW, Image.

Lots of cool artists in this book, and it looks … well, depressing, which I guess is the point. But it also looks neat!

Nelson by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix (eds.). $22.99, 251 pgs, FC, Blank Slate Books.

I wrote about this when it was offered in Previews, but I’ll do it again! This is a collaboration between a bunch of UK comics creators, telling the story of one woman from her birth to this year, which each creator (or team) getting one day during one year of her life to tell her story. It’s packed with talented people and looks very keen. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but I’m very interested to see how it all works out.

Strange Girl Omnibus by Rick Remender (writer), Eric Nguyen (artist), Jerome Opeña (artist), Harper Jaten (artist), Nick Stakal (artist), Micah Farritor (artist), Peter Bergting (artist), Joelle Comtois (colorist), Tony Aviña (colorist), Michelle Madsen (colorist), Russ Lowry (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $59.99, a bunch of pages, FC, Image.

I think I recall that Our Dread Lord and Master was a fan of Strange Girl back in the day. I never got into it, but now, every issue is collected in this handy hardcover! Now, if only the final Fear Agent trade would come out …

I’m not listing my iPod songs this week, because I’d like to get this done today as tomorrow we’re heading up to Williams to ride the Polar Express, and if I don’t get it posted today, I might not finish this until Monday, and I don’t want to wait that long. Next week I think I’ll be putting some more music on it, so I might skip that week too. That’s just the way it goes – you may have to wait until the new year to mock/admire my weird musical tastes!

Some fun links of note that I came across: Mighty God King examines Kim Jong-un as only MGK can.

This is the world’s greatest headline. Totally safe for work, but I’ll warn you: It contains the words “cocaine,” “butt,” “eats,” and “dies.” How do these words fit together? Find out at the link!

This takes while (it’s a click-through), but believe me, it’s totally worth it. Well, if by “worth it” you mean that you’ll be horribly scarred psychologically. I mean, that’s what I mean! (Why does Santa have a black eye? Why is that guy naked? WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!?)

Vin Diesel goes to the DMV. Soak it in, fanboys: “I looked around the room. Took inventory. All the things I wouldn’t see for another four to six hours. My DJ booth. The barracudas. My snowmobiles. My new skysurfing board. The rock-climbing wall. The zero-gravity lounge. My hypno-jacuzzi. I wanted to shut my eyes and not open them again until the world made sense.” Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

I do have a Totally Random Movie Quote for you!

“Have you ever tried to persuade him that he wasn’t Teddy Roosevelt?”
“Oh, no.”
“Oh, he’s so happy being Teddy Roosevelt.”
“Oh … Do you remember, Martha, once, a long time ago, we thought if he’d be George Washington, it might be a change for him, and we suggested it.”
“And do you know what happened? He just stayed under his bed for days and wouldn’t be anybody.”

I hope everyone has a very nice Christmas, if that’s your thing. If it isn’t, have a nice Sunday. I doubt if Americans will be celebrating – remember, we’re at war with Christmas, so I’m sure the almost 80% of Americans who identify as Christians will be out spitting on icons or something vile like that!


A-ha! Is that quote from Arsenic and Old Lace?

Neal Adams’ “Blood” is one of the worst things I’ve been reading in a while

While I pretty much share your disappointment with Action Comics, I don’t think Morrison started his Batman run with the crazy/ weird elements that characterized his later run.

His first story arch with Man-Bats was a very conventional action heavy batman comics. It introduced Damien and had nice little touches (battle in the pop museam), but it was, at the end of the day, a run of the mill batman comics.

I remember being hugely disappointed with his first story arch. However, right after that, he introduces the ghost of three policemen, Docter Hurt, Black Glove, and all the other insane concepts. And it was glorious.

Mm, I didn’t know Tito Faraci had been writing stuff like that…I know his work mainly from Italian Disney but might be interested to cheeck that one out too.

“Man Eats Cocaine Out of Brother’s Butt, Dies” makes me ever-so-proud to have been born in South Carolina.

WARNING: Heavy Sarcasm of previous sentence equal to sea pressure at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

But does The Last Battle have a scene where Vercingetorix lays his sword before Caesar’s feet and stabs him in the foot in the process?

I think your review of Terra Nova was mistakenly labeled as a review of Near Death. ;-)

Oh, and Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family, Greg! Safe travels and I hope your lovely daughters get lots of goodies from Santa!

I agree with Bruce Kim. Morrison’s Batman started out conventionally and got weird in the second arc. I actually think Action is going to get weird even sooner since Andy Kubert’s issues apparently involve two Supermen, multiple versions of the Legion and of course time travel.

I totally agree about Person of Interest. It seems like such a serious show but I find myself laughing a lot. In a good way of course.

You know, it truly bends my brain to realize that when I meet a thirty year old fanboy, he grew up with John Constantine the way I grew up with Jimmy Olsen and Sgt. Rock.

oric: Yes, it’s Arsenic and Old Lace. And thanks for the well wishes!

Bruce (and bongoes): It’s been years since I read the early Batman issues, but doesn’t the “Joker” get killed in the first issue? And the Man-Bats one was really early, as well (as Bruce points out), and I thought that was pretty wild. I’m not talking about the plot being conventional – let’s face it, in a corporate superhero setting, even Morrison can’t be too off the wall – but the way he tells the story, and I seem to recall the early issues of Batman, even though the plot was fairly standard, the way the stories were told were wacky. Of course, the fact that the first few issues of Action were $3.99 with no back-up stories made me grumpy, too. I hope Morrison turns it around, and I’d be interested in buying the trades if I hear he has!

Ted: Sorry, no. Vercingetorix is simply spoken of, not seen!

Jay: Yeah, sorry! You know sometimes I hijack my own reviews! I managed to get around to it eventually, and I enjoyed the issue, as you know!

Greg, thoughts on Wolverine and & The X-men? I honestly think in three issues, they made the most fun with x-men characters in a good 5 years. And who can say no to whiskey drinking bamfs?

Just finished watching AMERICAN HORROR STORY: Afterbirth. What a truly heart-felt all-american family show.

Nothing makes sense. That’s the way it should be.

Gemma Constantine tells it as it is.

It indeed had some wild touches. The opening sequence with Joker and Batman was wonderful, the fighting sequence using pop art was innovative, and introduction of Damien was interesting.

However, despite these nice touches, “Batman and Robin” felt like a conventional 90’s Batman yarn in both plot and presentation. I still prefer “Batman and Son” over the opening arch of Action Comics. It’s an arch I appreciate more every time I reread it. But I think that Morrison really got going after his Three Policemen arch.

It will be interesting to see what Morrison does with Kubert in Action Comics.

I think that version of Lucius Fox is supposed to look like Morgan Freeman. Morgan Freeman must be pretty old so that explains the age of this Fox. You’re right about the bow tie, though.

[…] What I bought – 21 December 2011Comic Book Resourcesby Greg Burgas Was the rise of the radical intelligentsia desirable, was their unchecked progress necessary in order that mankind might be led to the broad uplands of democratic freedom? Or was the very concept of democratic freedom a blind alley, … […]

I think the artist used an image from Driving Miss Daisy instead of the recent Batman films as a reference for Morgan Freeman. An honest mistake? Or some sort of editorial comment?

But does The Last Battle have a scene where Vercingetorix lays his sword before Caesar’s feet and stabs him in the foot in the process?

No, you need Goscinny and Uderzo to craft something that awesome. Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield, right?

AS, The Last Battle was an italian Disney publication too!

Another one, from the same short lived line (Buena Vista Comics) is Howard Chaykin’s Century West. Maybe it will get published also.

But the best comic on the line, in my opinion, was by Faraci with legendary italian Disney artist Giorgio Cavazzano: Jungle Town, a funny animal crime comic.


It’s no Blacksad, however.

“No, you need Goscinny and Uderzo to craft something that awesome. Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield, right?”

Not only that. The scene is repeated a few times during the run, including at the very beginning of Asterix the Gaul (the first story), sort of Asterix’s “Krypton blowing up” scene.

But yes, it’s on the story you mentioned that the scene is most played upon, being a major part of the plot.

daniel the demon cleaner

December 23, 2011 at 12:43 am

Caius Rodius, a Roman general who used to fight with Julius Caesar, is called back into service in 52 B.C. because Caesar needs him for a special mission. Caesar is besieging a city of Gauls, but a relief force is on the way. The relief force is led by a man named Cammius, who was raised as a Roman by … Rodius. Of course! Will Rodius choose Rome over the man he thinks of almost as a son? Will Cammius dare raise a sword against his foster father? Does Caesar have a devious motive behind sending Rodius out to stop Cammius?

Well, that does sound like a “mature readers” Asterix, and that guy on the cover totally looks like Chief Vitalstatistix to me.

I’m glad to see that you also noticed this year’s theme in TV. For a while, I was worried that it was only my sick mind coming up with crazy patterns. I don’t watch Terra Nova, but Dexter and Boardwalk Empire both dealt with incest this year.

And you should really, really read Usagi Yojimbo. Make it a New Year’s resolution or something.

Merry Christmas for you and your family!

Shaman’s Tears is really disappointing. I love the artwork and I understand what he’s trying to do, but it just kinda failed for me. However, the issues collected in John Sable: Freelance Omnibus volume 2 are great. Including the Sergio Aragones issue. You shouldn’t be disappointed.

Ed (A Different One)

December 23, 2011 at 6:02 am


Well, you have to make an exception for Matt Smith (the current Doctor Who). The man rocks a bow tie like no other.

That Polar Express attraction you’re taking the girls too sounds like great fun. My own daughter has really gotten “Polar Express Fever” this year, to the point where she’s telling me that if she hears a train on Christmas Eve, she’s going to sneak out of the house and find it. Needless to say I’ll be pulling guard duty that night (unless I can get that electric fencing installed in time). In all seriousness though, I love doing stuff like that with kids – especially now that I only have a couple of years left of that “My Daddy is the Most Awesome Person in the Universe” stage. Those teenage years are coming fast and, with it, my status as the Supreme Awesome Dude in the Universe.

I’m also on boad with your take on Action Comics, but some of the comments left on here have convinced me to hang on for one more story arc. I wasn’t reading comics back when GM first started on Batman, so I don’t really have anything against which to judge his current progress on Action Comics. However, the level of awesomeness eventually acheived on Batman cannot be denied, so I think I owe GM one more story arc at least.

Greg & Family: Have an awesome Christmas. And the same goes to all my fellow commentors out there (whatever your observances may be)..


Wait, no one’s replied “bow ties are cool” yet?

Pedro, I didn’t know Italian Disney did also stuff like that (and my comment read first “Topolino” but changed it to “Italian Disney” as I guess the first reference might be too obscure)…Jungle Town I have seen but not read, but Faraci+Cavazzano is of course always worth reading.

I where a bow tie now. Bow ties are cool . . .

Lando: I’m waiting for the trade on Wolverine and the X-Men, but it does sound pretty keen so far, and I love Bachalo’s art, so I’m looking forward to it.

sandwich eater and Gavin: I’m not sure if the Morgan Freeman connection is editorially mandated or if that was what Burnham was going for. Freeman looks much more distinguished and business-like than this Fox does, however.

Pedro: Let’s not forget Bored to Death, where Jason Schwartzman doesn’t realize he’s hooking up with his half-sister (as they were both from the same sperm donor). Now that the show has been cancelled, we’ll never know whether he tells her or not. Of course, if I found out I was nailing my half-sister and she looked like Isla Fisher, I might be tempted to keep it to myself, too!

Ed: I don’t know – he still looks kind of geeky to me. I guess all of these dudes are going for “geek chic,” which, to me, just looks geeky. Being a geek myself, we can smell our own!

Yeah, my 6-year-old still thinks her parents are pretty great. We’ll see when that starts to change …

AS, that line was VERY short-lived, I’m sure that even in Italy most people overlooked it.

And Faraci, being the fastest comic writer in Italy, is also writing a bunch of Bonellis and the occasional Diabolik!

Whitechapel season one was clearly superior, and not just because it was a David Fincher movie but all proper and British. The blue collar nature of the working-class police folks really shone through, and it was a pretty realistic look at coppers. And then it had a cool plot.

The second one lost me with its breakneck pacing and odd character bits.

I loved the use of pop art in the background during Morrison’s first Batman arc. I imagine it was more Morrison than Kubert.

Yeah, those first 2 issues of Morrison’s Bat arc were f—in’ awesome, dudes! Hell, the first 5-6 PAGES alone kicked so much more ass than most anything in comics! Gordon falling off the side of the building, “The Joker’s poisoned the commissioner!”, the 2 page spread of the Joker over a beaten Batman, cackling about it, until that Batman shoots him in the face while the real Batman shows up behind them, then Batman holding the Joker, a cop tells him “he’s not dead!”, to which Batman responds by throwing the Joker into a dumpster in disgust. Plus, we first see the Zur En Arrh graffiti!

And the second issue. Ninja Man-Bats. Ninja. Mother-f’in’. MAN BATS!!! Fighting in a pop art museum gallery where the art “comments” on the action!

Maybe the fight stuff was “standard”, but holy crap it was done awesome!!!

Contrast that with what I’ve read so far of Action, the first 2 issues. Um, what even happened there? I don’t even remember! And I’ve read those much more recently!

And it’s not like Morrison can’t write an awesome Superman. We saw it with All Star! Each issue of that (well, almost, the Bizarro and other Kryptonians in issues 7-9 are to me the low point of that series. Of course those are the issues of it I own….) was awesome.

Between Action being dull, Justice League being unimpressive, and the mixed/bad reviews I’ve seen of the rest of the DC 52, I’ve almost completely lost faith in DC. I’m wondering if 2012 will be my year of switching to the trade….

But then I’m reminded that Batman Leviathan will be coming out, so yay!

And in my rush to tell of the awesomeness of Morrison Batman, I forgot to mention that “delightful” is exactly the right word for Andi Watson comics.

[…] Greg Burgas, Comics Should Be Good!: “This comic, however, is up to snuff. Stewart’s Batgirl-centric story of her adventure at St. Hadrian’s School for Girls is ridiculous in all the right ways, and Morrison, as he usually does, gives us a sidekick who has earned Batman’s trust and is allowed to do quite a lot on her own (Batman needs to come in at the end, but more to assist rather than to rescue). Burnham draws the second issue, as Batman, Dick, Tim, and Damian fight their way through Dr. Dedalus’s labyrinth of death, and it’s really a magnificently written and drawn issue.” […]

I guess I haven’t read Batman and Son in a while, because I remember everything you’re talking about, but I don’t remember it being really crazy, especially compared to what came immediately after. It also might be because I’m really enjoying Action so far, I haven’t found it boring at all, plus Action is supposed to be for new readers so he might be trying to ease them into the crazy instead of throwing them into the deep end right away.

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