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What I bought – 21 March 2012

And so I stood perfectly still with folded arms, allowing my eyes to receive the tracery of apian flight, so like curling silver strings in the air. White butterflies, faint as powder on a mirror, yet imbued with the mysterious force of life, hovered and flitted, half-powered by their own efforts and half-carried by the breeze. That all these creatures, and all these plants and dirt and blossoms, from the earthworms to the dung beetles, to the rhododendrons, catnip, delphinium, clematis, lupine, campanula, and bearded iris should all come together here in this spot to create this wondrous place seemed a fact beyond all possibility of mere formality, betokening some kind of marvelous presence having the sense of an artist and the mechanical persistence of an inventor. (Steve Szilagyi, from Photographing Fairies)

I'd vote for him! She doesn't look happy! She has no head! Poor Jason Blood! Cliff is looking at himself! J'accuse! Toby has that fancy helmet, but he's using a gun? What an odd pin-up calendar! Boing! That has to get in the way, doesn't it? Good comix! It's WEE!

Dark Horse Presents #10. “The Massive: The Barents Sea – Modern Day” by Brian Wood (writer), Kristian Donaldson (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer); “UXB” by Colin Lorimer (writer/artist); “Finder: Third World Chapter 8″ by Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist/letterer), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Bill Mudron (colorist); “Criminal Macabre: They Fight by Night Chapter 1″ by Steve Niles (writer), Christopher Mitten (artist), Michelle Madsen (colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); “House of Fun Featuring Milk and Cheese and the Murder Family” by Evan Dorkin (writer/artist/letterer) and Sarah Dyer (colorist); “The Once and Future Tarzan Chapter 3″ by Alan Gordon (writer), Thomas Yeates (artist/colorist/concept); albabe (layouter), Lori Almeida (colorist), and Tom Orzechowski (letterer); “Amala’s Blade: Skull and Crossbones Part 2″ by Steve Horton (writer/letterer) and Michael Dialynas (artist/colorist); “Dead Reliable” by Andrew Vachss (writer), Geof Darrow (illustrations), and Peter Doherty (colorist); “Skultar Chapter 4: The Trainable” by M. J. Butler (writer) and Mark Wheatley (artist/letterer); “The Many Murders of Miss Cranbourne: The Vicar Slash’d from Side to Side Part 3″ by Rich Johnston (writer), Simon Rohrmüller (artist), and Jim Reddington (letterer). $7.99, 80 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

This issue of DHP is a tiny bit disappointing, but it’s still a very good comic. I’m very much looking forward to The Massive, but this chapter felt like it was just kind of scene-setting in a way that the first two installments didn’t (even though they kind of were). “UXB” is interesting, but it’s the first chapter and I’ll have to see what’s going on (it takes place 11 years in the future, too, which is strange because there’s no way society falls apart as quickly as it does). It’s always fun to see “Finder” in color, but the story is kind of bizarre, especially the ending (see below). The “Criminal Macabre” story is pretty good, with a nice set-up, even though I’m not the biggest fan of the Cal McDonald stories. Evan Dorkin’s two stories are really fun and come with his beautiful art, even though I have a feeling I wouldn’t like it in large doses (speaking of which, wasn’t there supposed to be an entire collection of Milk and Cheese, or did I totally miss it when it came out?). Yeates’s Tarzan story is very pretty, but it’s kind of meandering around a bit. “Amala’s Blade” continues to be a really cool story, with great art and lots of energy. I don’t know if I’ve ever read anything by Vachss, and I respect the hell out of him, but his short story is terrible. I don’t want to ruin it, but it’s bleak and pointless and just bad. “Skultar” continues to be really, really funny (there’s a brunch invitation!), which is nice. I was a bit disappointed by the ending of “The Many Murders of Miss Cranbourne” because it felt a bit rushed. I imagine Johnston pitched it as three chapters, but I think it could have benefited from four or five to allow the story to breathe a bit. It’s still pretty good, but it’s too bad it wasn’t longer.

Even with that, you can find good stuff. Donaldson’s art is superb as usual, McNeil’s art is superb as usual, Mitten’s art is superb as usual, Dorkin’s art is superb as usual, Yeates’s art is superb as usual. The book continues to showcase some wonderful creators and allows them to tell their stories, and some chapters are going to be weaker than others. It’s still an excellent comic, even if this issue isn’t as great as some of the others.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That's never fun

Fables #115 (“Cubs in Toyland Chapter 2: Teddy Bear”/”A Revolution in Oz Chapter 2: The Big Plan”) by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Shawn McManus (artist/colorist, “Oz”), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I mentioned that last issue I was toying with the idea of dropping Fables, not because it’s a bad comic, but it seems like it just keeps going and going and never really getting anywhere. This is a slightly better issue, but I’m still mulling it over and switching to the hardcovers, maybe. I think it’s the kind of book I’d like more if I had giant chunks of it between two covers. I don’t know.

So the Fables find Nurse Spratt in prison, find the dude she’s been hanging out with, and totally fall for her story of woe. So that’s going to play out in a while. There’s one page checking in on Beauty and the Beast and their baby, who, Willingham reminds us, is somewhat shifty. And Therese shows up on the Island of Misfit Toys, where she will eventually be rescued by Hermey the Dentist Elf. Wait, where was I? Oh, Therese realizes she’s made a mistake, but she’s screwed now! And then, of course, there’s the revolution in Oz, which isn’t going all that well.

There’s nothing really wrong with Fables, but as I pointed out last issue, it’s just not exciting me too much anymore. I’m still thinking about it, and this story arc will help determine it. Things happen. It’s very nice looking. And so it goes.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I may cry

Hellblazer #289 (“Another Season in Hell Part Three: The Unquiet Grave”) by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouter), Stefano Landini (finisher), Brian Buccellato (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Peter Milligan has long been one of my favorite writers in comics, even though some of the things he writes just aren’t very good. In recent years, he’s not quite as bizarre as he once was, even though he still has some wacky ideas. The Milligan who wrote Shade or Hewligan’s Haircut or Rogan Gosh or even X-Force/X-Statix doesn’t show up all that often, but in this issue, we get as close as we’re going to get, I reckon. This issue is not only a bit creepy, but it has the black and surreal sense of humor we often get with Milligan comics and the abrupt changes of fortune that he often threw at us. Too often when Milligan tries to do something like this issue these days, he does it with too much of a wink at the audience, like he knows it’s ridiculous but does it anyway. That kind of comic has its place, of course, but it’s nice that Milligan can pull some of the weird shit out if he needs it. John’s attempts to escape from Hell and Epiphany’s attempts to help him are a good setting for it, because Hell is a weird place anyway, and Milligan knows that the laws of physics don’t necessarily apply. At his best, Milligan shifts quickly from the surreal to the brutality of life, and so he does here, as Epiphany finds Gemma in the hospital after what happened to her last issue. In 20 pages, Milligan manages to cram quite a lot in here, and there’s even a cameo from a character that, I believe, is from Garth Ennis’s final story arc almost 20 years ago. It’s a fairly impressive achievement, even if I still can’t take the First of the Fallen all that seriously. I don’t know why. Milligan has done his level best to make him scary, but I don’t know why I can’t. Maybe it’s Ennis’s fault. That’s probably it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I'd be fine with them renaming this comic 'Epiphany = Awesome'

Near Death #6 by Jay Faerber (writer), Simone Guglielmini (artist), Ron Riley (colorist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Image.

Near Death returns, and the first thing that’s noticeable is the coloring. Ron Riley remains on board, but Markham’s move to Los Angeles means that things aren’t quite so gloomy as they were in Seattle, so Riley gets to lighten things up a bit. He still uses blue as a foundation, but it’s a lighter shade of blue and there isn’t quite as much of it. Markham is still wandering around in a heavy coat, and I would love to see him ditch it for something more appropriate to the weather. Little touches like that are what makes good comics even better.

As usual, Faerber is telling a single-issue story (even though the cover proclaims it’s an “all-new story arc,” it certainly seems like it’s a single-issue story), and it feels a bit light. Perhaps the guy he’s hired to protect – a retired DA – will figure prominently in the arc, and I have to believe that Faerber is planning that, because if he disappears after this story, it feels a bit light. The first six pages are devoted to Markham protecting an actress from a stalker, and only then do we move on to the main plot, which is the DA hiring Markham. If Faerber is setting up the DA for a bigger role, that’s fine. As a single-issue story, everything moves really fast and doesn’t really satisfy. However, the fact that the DA is targeted for assassination on every day of the week, which Guglielmini shows in a nice double-page spread, is pretty funny. Sucks to be that dude.

I guess I should just trust Faerber. The dude knows what he’s doing. I’m just saying that this doesn’t feel like the first issue of an arc, it feels like a one-and-done. If it’s the latter, it could be better. Faerber will in Seattle next week, so he can punch me in the face then if he so chooses. Stay tuned!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Burn!

Rocketeer Adventures 2 #1 (of 4). “The Good Guys” by Marc Guggenheim (writer), Sandy Plunkett (artist), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Robbie Robbins (letterer); “The Ducketeer” by Peter David (writer) and Bill Sienkiewicz (artist/letterer); “A Dream of Flying” by Stan Sakai (writer/artist/letterer) and Dave Stewart (colorist). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, IDW.

The first volume of the anthology series about Dave Stevens’s famous character featured creators like Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, Mike Allred, Darwyn Cooke, Ryan Sook, John Cassaday, Tony Harris, Michael Kaluta … lots of legends or top-tier guys. So the first story in this is by … Marc Guggenheim and Sandy Plunkett? That’s not to besmirch their work, but they’re not exactly household names among the comics litterati. It’s not a bad little story – Cliff happens to crash on a farm and, while he’s unconscious, the townspeople debate whether they should call the cops until a young, innocent boy reminds them what heroes are, man! Guggenheim not-so-subtly shows that the obvious Christian is the most strident about turning him over to the cops (even though all the adults are, ultimately, fairly benign), and as usual with stories set before Pearl Harbor, I’m not sure how much people out on a farm in the American heartland would be informed about how evil the Nazis were, but whatever.

Sakai’s story is clever, as Cliff meets yet another young, innocent farmboy after he’s shot down by a mean dude with red hair named Lex. The youngster, who’s wearing blue jeans and a red shirt, wants to fly, so Cliff takes him flying after they thrash Lex together. His parents (his mother is named Martha) don’t see Cliff, so they think his story of flying is just his imagination. It’s a fun little story.

For me, of course, the highlight is the Sienkiewicz-drawn story, which is fairly typical late Sienkiewiczian. David’s story is about a cartoon duck (who bears no resemblance at all to Daffy Duck) fighting a Nazi who looks nothing like Marvin the Martian. It’s supposed to be a cartoon short that Cliff and Betty are watching in a theater, and Cliff is not amused. Of course, because it’s Sienkiewicz, it looks nothing like a true animated short would look like, but it’s still very cool.

As usual with these stories, they’re fairly inconsequential, but it’s fun to see a bunch of different creators tackle Stevens’s character. Waid and Chris Samnee are apparently doing a new mini-series later this year, which will be nice, but it’s also cool to see a bunch of good creators go a bit nuts with short stories.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Up, up, and away!!!!

The Sixth Gun #20 (“A Town Called Penance Part Three”) by Cullen Bunn (writer), Brian Hurtt (artist), Bill Crabtree (colorist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

The newest arc in The Sixth Gun is showing once again why it’s such a great comic, as Bunn and Hurtt are really knocking it out of the park. Last issue Becky found herself in the middle of a firefight without her gun, which isn’t really good. Meanwhile, Drake is being tortured, and we discover some other awful things he did in the past (or at least the awful things are implied). It’s a nice scene because it explains why Drake is still alive, plus we get to see some weird kind of beastie that the Knights of Solomon like to torture people with. We also find out what happens when someone other than Becky uses the gun, and it ain’t pretty. Hurtt and Crabtree really kill on the final part of the book, from when Becky regains the gun, loses it again, and someone else picks it up. As Becky is resisting using the gun, it’s always interesting to see what happens when it does get fired. Bunn is doing a good job reminding us that it’s not a normal gun, and the fact that she doesn’t fire it all that often makes it more effective when she does.

As I’ve pointed out, this arc is turning out really nicely. In the previous arc, it was easy to wait for the next issue because it wasn’t that exciting. Now, however, I’m very keen to see where the story goes next!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That ain't really fair, is it?

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #5 (of 6) (“At Breath’s End”/”Aqualung”) by Nick Spencer (writer, “End”), Michael Uslan (writer, “Aqualung”), Wes Craig (artist, “End”), Mike Choi (artist/colorist, “End”), Trevor McCarthy (artist, “Aqualung”), Hi-Fi (colorist, “End”), Dave McCaig (colorist, “Aqualung”), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer, “End”), and Steve Wands (letterer, “Aqualung”). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC.

DC raised the price of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, but we do get an extra story (it’s even continued!) and we DON’T get 10 pages of DC creators fellating themselves talking about how great their books are, so that’s nice. The main story has a bunch of twists – Spencer only has one issue left, so he needs to wrap things up – and it ends on a depressing cliffhanger. But we’ll see what happens next issue! Mike Choi, interestingly enough, gives us a few pages at the beginning of the issue that are rather unlike what we usually see from Choi – he colors it himself, and it appears he uses a brush more, because it’s much softer than you usually see from Choi when Sonia Oback colors him. It like it, although I’m not Choi’s biggest fan. Meanwhile, Trevor McCarthy warms up for his gig on Batwoman with some nice pages in the back, and I honestly don’t understand people bitching about Amy Reeder not working on the book anymore and getting replaced by McCarthy – they’re similar in terms of talent level, McCarthy has a few nice page layouts that will work well with Williams’s sensibilities, and as long as he’s not being inked by Rob Hunter, his lines should look fine. I have no idea who “Undersea Agent” is (because I’m not a long-term T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents reader), but it’s a nice little story.

I don’t love paying 4 bucks for a DC or Marvel comic, but if they’re going to do it, at least we get a nice, thick package of stories. That ain’t bad.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Toby totally needs his own comic!

Thunderbolts #171 (“How Songbird Got Her Groove Back”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Kev Walker (penciler), Terry Pallot (inker), Frank Martin Jr. (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Marvel is renaming this Dark Avengers soon, to which I say: Really, Marvel? I feel like people at Marvel never saw The Incredibles and didn’t learn the lesson: If everything is called a variation on The Avengers and The X-Men, then nothing is. Instead of Exiles, we have X-Treme X-Men (fucking really, Marvel?). Instead of Thunderbolts, we have Dark Avengers. Look, I get it: People only buy Avengers comics and X-Men comics. But maybe if you only had one fucking Avengers book and one fucking X-Men book, then people would be inclined to try other shit. I imagine that it was either a name change or cancellation for Thunderbolts, but that doesn’t make it any less fucking asinine. Eventually, the law of diminishing returns sets in, and then, people don’t just drop the ancillary titles, they drop motherfucking everything. A lot of people working at Marvel were around in the 1990s. Did they forget the decade entirely, or are the so motherfucking arrogant that they think it won’t happen again? Shit, Marvel, if the United States, with the biggest, most powerful, most efficient military in the world, didn’t learn the lessons of the past and of Wallace Shawn and is now trapped in Afghanistan, what makes you think some rinky-dink company that only a quarter of a million people, at best, care about can defy history? I don’t know if I hope it’s that they forgot what happened or if they’re so arrogant they think they can buck the trends. Either way, far too many people at Marvel have their heads literally up their asses. Which fucking hurts, believe you me.

Anyway, it’s probably not Parker’s fault. Well, maybe it is – Parker is part of a giant cabal that secretly runs the world, after all. It’s too bad, because of all the absolute shit that Marvel puts out, Thunderbolts just sits over there, minding its own business, showing up 16 or 17 times a year and entertaining the hell out of anyone close to it. The motherfucking PTB want to steal Juggernaut from Parker? Whatevs, dude, it’s all good. Parker ain’t care, is what I’m trying to say. He just motherfucking moves on. So this issue, which is basically a one-and-done (it ties into the bigger story arc, but it’s still a single-issue story) has Songbird going on vacation and getting kidnapped by … well, I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say it’s the Marvel villain who could give anyone a run for their money as “Guy With the Lamest Name EVAH!” Songbird gets away, natch, but the way she does is pretty awesome. It’s just a cool little creepy, icky story, beautifully drawn by Walker. I find it humorous that it hinges on Songbird finding some dude attractive – it would have been hilarious if she had seen him, thought “Ick,” and walked away (my 68-year-old mother finds dudes with long hair “icky” no matter what other attributes the dude possesses). What would you have done then, dreamy islander? Huh?

So, yeah. Thunderbolts. I’ve been buying it for a couple of years and it’s always been very entertaining. Let’s hope the name change doesn’t come with a certain Spider-villain, because that dude is a joke these days, and I don’t know if I can keep buying this if he shows up. Shit.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I don't know where they got a photo of me doing this to my wife's feet, but it's kind of scary that they were able to!

X-Factor #233 (“In From the Cold”) by Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (artist), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

It’s odd – after last issue’s psychedelic piece of cover work by Yardin, this issue is a fairly generic “Group flying at the reader with no background” kind of thing, and it’s just dull. Unfortunately, it portends some problems with the issue, even though, like Thunderbolts, X-Factor just hangs out in a different corner, minding its own business, also entertaining the hell out of anyone in its orbit. You might notice that these are two of the three Marvel series I still buy in single issues (Avengers Academy is the other).

The first thing that bugs me is somewhat minor, but if nitpicking is disallowed on the Internet, we might as well all go read a book, play with our kids, and (*shiver*) interact with actual humans. No thanks, man! So last issue, Jamie and Layla (who somehow got herself a code name?) made the beast with two backs, which is still kind of oogey because I still think of Layla as a tween, but okay. So in this issue they wake up together in the morgue on one of those drawers on which you store dead bodies. Again, whatever. But they somehow managed to stay on that thin drawer and not roll off? I don’t know about you, but I and everyone I’ve ever slept with likes to move a little bit, and that drawer isn’t wide enough for two people. Second, it’s metal. How comfortable and warm could it be? It made me chuckle when I read that scene, and I don’t think I was supposed to.

Then there’s the big conflict, which re-introduces Havok and Polaris (and Val Cooper, I guess) to the team. It’s all very action-oriented, giving each cast member a chance to show what they can do, and I guess David designed this to be something of a jumping-on point (he even explains what the deal with Josef Huber is), but I don’t get why X-Factor is in this situation. There’s a big compound full of anti-mutants bigots, and Val Cooper wants the team to go in and … do what, exactly? The characters keep talking about the fact that they have kids inside, but I guess Val wants the team to go in and arrest them because someone in there wrote threatening letters to the president? I don’t know what’s going on in the Bigger Marvel Universe, and I suspect no one else does either, but has the government launched some kind of Kumbaya Movement that claims that Mutants R People 2? If not, why would this group send threatening letters to the president? And if they did and the government wants to stamp them out, why send in a group of mutants to shut down an anti-mutant camp? That seems like throwing gasoline on a fire, if you ask me. And, of course, as far as I know, X-Factor isn’t a government group anymore – they’re nominally a detective agency. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Kirk continues to ape Stuart Immonen, which is fine, but I always wonder about artists. Let’s say you’re Leonard Kirk, and you’re sitting down to draw this issue. You get the script and you see that Havok and Polaris are in this issue. So you go and find the latest iterations of their costumes for consistency, right? So when you begin to draw Alex and Lorna, why don’t you say to yourself, “I can’t bring myself to draw that stupid headgear. I mean, really. I just can’t do it.” Would the editors, who apparently don’t actually read the comics they’re editing anymore (no, I will never let that go), even notice if you ditched the headgear? Would Peter David care if he saw it before it went to the printers? Unless … you don’t think that Kirk actually digs the headgear? Dear Lord, I hadn’t considered that. Anyway, if I were drawing this book, I’d “forget” to put the headgear on just to see what happened. Both Alex and Lorna look like idiots with their headgear. No one in their right mind would design a costume for him- or herself that looks like that. Sheesh.

Yes, all I did was complain about this issue. It’s my right as a comics nerd and Internet ranter! Deal with it! I did like that in the letters column David kept referring to the insane amount of issues Marvel keeps pumping out every month. Funny stuff!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

This, mind you, is the final panel in the book

Zorro Rides Again #9 (of 12) by Matt Wagner (writer), John K. Snyder III (artist), Mike Malbrough (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

It appears that Snyder is on this book for the rest of its run, which is fine with me. He gives the book such a nice, stylized look that so many artists fail to do in their effort to make everything look “realistic.” Snyder doesn’t care about that – his look is his own, and we can easily tell what’s going on even if his figures are a bit too angular to be “realistic.” Malbrough colors the night scenes well, too – I’ve been ranting about colorists going to far into black and obscuring the art too much, but Malbrough keeps it mostly in dark blue, and even though it’s night, we can easily see what’s going on. Zorro’s campaign against the alcalde, which involves making him think he’s being stalked by something supernatural, is silly but convincing enough, and we get more of “Lady Zorro” in this issue (she calls herself that, don’t you know) – she even manages to have lightning crackling around her dramatically, which is a nice trick.

As always, this book isn’t great but it’s entertaining. Dynamite has been collecting licenses for old characters like crazy, and this remains one of their best efforts with those old characters. It probably will read better in trade, but it’s still a fun comic to check out every month!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, those scaredy-cat Spaniards!

B. P. R. D.: Plague of Frogs volume 3 by Mike Mignola (story), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer). $34.99, 404 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Dang, I love reading these things in giant-sized hardcover format.

Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix by Patrick Marty (writer) and Chongrui Nie (artist). $14.95, 156 pgs, BW, Archaia.

Sherlock Holmes in ancient China? Yeah, sign me up. The art is really nice, too. Yay, comics!

**********

Oh, Arizona. What are we going to do with you? I mentioned last week about HB 2625, which is idiotic, and now we have a supporter of another House Bill, 2036, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks, who says:

Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a “surgical procedure”. If it’s not a life it shouldn’t matter, if it doesn’t harm a woman then she shouldn’t care, and don’t we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else … Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain – I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living – I will be voting YES.

Man. Good stuff there. As a commenter pointed out, why don’t politicians have to live on minimum wage for a few months before they introduce laws getting rid of it, or give up their cushy taxpayer-provided health care (socialism!) for a few months before they vote against government health care? I’ve known more than a few women who’ve had abortions, and it was not an easy decision for any of them. To imply it’s something you just zip off on your lunch break and get taken care of is wildly insulting. This is the same woman who wants to teach the Bible in school, but only as an example of “literature.” Which, you know, you can already do, so this isn’t an attempt to bring Christianity into public schools at all. I mean, she doesn’t want students to read the Qur’an, because Muslims never influenced Western culture at all. Nah-nah-nah-nah, I can’t hear you!!!!!

Arizona: Come to see the big hole in the ground, stay for the crazy people! Now that’s a motto!

I’m actually going to see a movie this weekend, as my wife and friends of ours want to see The Hunger Games and I can’t think of a reason why I should object. I haven’t read the books, but they don’t sound terrible, so we’ll see. I know Jennifer Lawrence is supposed to be the next big thing, so there’s that. Anyway, we already have our tickets, so I’m committed. I cannot remember the last movie I saw in the theaters. The last Harry Potter movie, maybe?

I have nothing else to rant about (is Wonder Woman #7 really as terrible as people say it is?), so let’s dig into The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “Under the God” – Tin Machine (1989) “This is the West, get used to it”1
2. “Wild Flower”The Cult (1987) “You’re a perfect creation”2
3. “On the Frontier” – Renaissance (1973) “Morning breaks the light will shine and find the blind”3
4. “Veins of Coal”Horse Flies (2008) “I am floating right beside you, though you touch me I am alone”
5. “Locomotive Breath”Jethro Tull (1971) “He hears the silence howling — catches angels as they fall”4
6. “Rio”Duran Duran (1982) “At the end of the drive, the lawmen arrive”5
7. “Scandinavian Skies”Billy Joel (1982) “We climbed toward the sun, we turned and cursed as one”6
8. “I Held Her in My Arms” – Violent Femmes (1986) “I can’t even remember, if we were lovers, or if I just wanted to”7
9. “Hurricane Drunk”Florence + the Machine (2009) “I’m going out, I’m going to drink myself to death”
10. “Working for Vacation”Cibo Matto (1999) “Watching television for as long as I want”8

1 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The very concept of Tin Machine was really weird.

2 Apparently Jon Bon Jovi wrote this song. That explains quite a bit, actually.

3 Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Renaissance. Go ahead, don’t be shy! I know you’re out there!

4 Ian Anderson is releasing a sequel to Thick as a Brick in a few weeks. That’s … odd.

5 I know it’s been said before, but it really is fascinating watching videos from the early days of MTV. Watching these bands invent an art form from scratch is really cool. “Let’s pour water over someone for no good reason!!!!” Awesome.

6 I wonder if, with Nylon Curtain, Mr. Joel deliberately set out to make a Beatles album. Honestly, listen to that thing. It’s a very good album, but he’s totally channeling the Beatles. Bizarre.

7 I once wrote a story in which this song was one of the more important threads running through it. I know, cool story bro. But still!

8 Hey, Cibo Matto is back! Whattaya know?

Finally, I was reminded today that if you want to piss my wife off, start singing “Wrap it Up” by the Fabulous Thunderbirds. It drives her mad, I tells ya! It’s quite hilarious.

On that fun note, I bid you adieu. Have a nice day, everyone!

21 Comments

I’m jealous of your BPRD oversize hardcovers. I have them in trade paperbacks and I’ve been trying to justify to myself upscaling, but it’s sooooo hard when I also know there are a million other books out there I haven’t read yet. For instance, I only have ten volumes of 20th Century Boys so far, on volume of Ooku (though I’ve read more via the library), one volume of Scalped, one volume of etc… I have the same problem with the Walt Simonson Thor Omnibus. I have every issue in singles so it’s not like I can’t read them if I want to go rooting about in my garage. But weigh that against recolouring and the convenience of all of int in a single book. And then weigh that against all the unread books again. But then again, maybe Simonson’s writing is a hackneyed relic of the early ’80s. But still again, his art will never be out of date. *sigh* There’s just no math that can do this kind of complex decision-making justice.

Dude, I feel your pain on Thunderbolts. I was digging what Parker was doing with the title, and Shalvey and Walker are quality artists, a big step up from the rush jobs that plagued Andy Diggle’s run. Still, I dropped it like a hot potato when I saw the book was beholden to whatever event Marvel had going on that week. I couldn’t help feeling vindicated when the latest “Dark Avengers” stunt was announced.

Heck, I’m this close to crossing Daredevil off my pull list for the same reason. It’s a great title, done deftly by a creative team with vision (ironically), but not even 10 months in, and we’re already hard on the heels of a second Spider-Man crossover. Guest spots and crossovers might have been cool when there were few comics on the stand, each under a dollar, and it was only a matter of which characters you could get into, but that’s not the way things work now. For $4 a pop, with a million books and characters out there, with slower stories paced across a great number of issues, I buy superhero comics not for a cheap, rollickin ride (I would be disappointed on all counts if I did) but to see the creative team’s vision for the characters. I can’t do that, however, when prominent characters are suddenly siphoned off into other books, and crossovers and double shipping result in all the hoary hosts of Hoggoth having a hand in the artwork.

A few idealists out there on the intertubes think the solution is for Marvel to dramatically diversify their line, putting out more books like the recent Mystic revamp (which was lovely, by the way). But I think in reality that’s not feasible; it would be a huge risk in a bad time, which seems more likely to sink the company than draw in some previously untapped market. Marvel is right to play to their reputation as a superhero company, but the way they’re going about it is gross and unsustainable. I love your comparison to the Incredibles, because that’s just it; Marvel is pumping out SOOOOO much X-Men, Spider-Man, and Avengers product, the books don’t feel special any more. It becomes more like a chore to follow the characters than a treat.

For example, the sales figures say that Spider-Man books sell, but does any one actually WANT there to be another Spider-Man title? No, I think pretty obviously not. But Marvel’s position in this regard is clear: it’s going to target the obsessives, the ones who need to know everything about the character, and wring every dollar it can from them before they’re fed up too. But what happens after that, when they’ve alienated their entire customer base? It’s hard to imagine any retooling of the line succeeding at that point.

But hey, sorry for the tl;dr, which for whatever reason I seem to do often in your threads. Like you, I feel frustrated at the short-sightedness of Marvel’s publishing decisions. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be reading three times as many DC’s as Marvels, I would’ve slapped you in the mouth and called you a dirty liar. But yeah, for all their Catwoman porno scenes and other silly flubs, I think DC is riding the storm of the recession more gracefully than Marvel, which to me is a shame because I tend to favor the Marvel characters. I just hope Axel Alonso and co can get their shit together before Disney decides there are more profitable ways to maintain their IP than publishing funnybooks.

I had no problems with Wonder Woman 7. It’s not a phenomenal issue, nor is it as good as the first 4 issues, but I didn’t think it was bad. I can picture people complaining that it turns the women of Paradise Island into a bunch of Starfires, but I think that’s missing the point. The way Starfire is used in Red Hood is as a literal sex dummy. The Amazons aren’t out trolling for sex, their trolling for implements of procreation. It’s a retcon that both makes sense and serves a degree of story usefulness. And hey, that Cliff Chiang cover is a future classic.

But the best issue I read from this week was Prophet #23. That series keeps getting better and better. I would actually recommend NOT trade waiting on it, as I think it reads very well in individual issues. If your LCS still has 21 & 22, you should start up.

But I’m really starting to wonder about Scott Snyder… After Batman & Swamp Thing both had phenomenal starts, they’ve gone downhill. And the weird thing is, I don’t think either has gone downhill in terms of the story direction. It’s more like they’ve gone downhill in terms of Snyder’s ability to actually tell the story. While the first 3 or 4 issues of each series were immensely rewarding books that were incredibly well told and paced, and succeeded as individual issues with beginnings, middles, and ends, the last 2 or 3 issues of each series have been total opposites. Specifically, each series had a completely wasted 6th issue where it felt like 3 pages of story was stretched into 20. And with each series, the first ten pages of issue 2 had more going on than the last 3 issues combined. What’s really weird here is that Snyder’s obviously not just stretching things out to fill a six issue trade, as we’re already past that point and neither series is near the end of the first arc.

As I said, I really like the actual story that’s going on in both series. I’m fully invested in what’s happening, I’m enjoying the mystery, and I like the art. (In Swamp Thing’s case, I beyond love the art, like I haven’t loved comic art since Planetary and Promethea both started up in 1999. Paquette’s really been that good.) It’s just the way Snyder has been telling the stories for the last few months that I’ve found perplexingly ineffective and bad. Hopefully it gets better soon.

Regarding the Milk and Cheese hardcover…YES! It’s been out for a couple of months now. Reading it…well it changes it a person. And changes your relationship to Merv Griffin.

And regarding Hunger Games, I’ll say the same thing that I’ve been to any of my friends on the subject. Just rent the Japanese movie ‘Battle Royale’ instead…same subject matter, better treatment.

I am on the verge of dropping Fables too.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 23, 2012 at 5:09 am

@ Manglr: But skip the Battle Royale 2, the movie’s 2 hours too long.

Mr. Burgas: if you like Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix, (which I haven’t read), you should watch Detective Dee and the Phantom Flame. It’s seven kinds of awesome. Sherlock Holmes gets the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon treatment.

Personally, I’ve always believed that Fables reads better in trade.

Seth T. Hahne – I feel your pain. I have the first 15 or so issues of the Simonson Thor run, as well as the entire run in TPB and I *still* broke down and got the Omnibus. I don’t regret it at all. It’s awesome to have the whole run in one book, and I think they did a nice job with the re-coloring. It’s not overdone, and definitely looks better than the original colors on glossy paper in the TPBs. On the other hand, you should definitely catch up on Scalped!

Apologies in advance for any damage done to your wallet…

Seth: I feel the same way about upgrading anything. I was tempted to get the Thor Omnibus, but I already had four of the five trades, so I didn’t. But I agree that it’s very tempting to keep upgrading.

Manglr: Thanks for the info. For some reason my retailer didn’t get it.

We already have tickets to Hunger Games, so it’s full speed ahead! Thanks for the recommendation, though.

Tom: Man! So many suggestions! Thanks, though – I always appreciate them!

Robert: A couple of other people last month said the same thing, which makes me think it would be better for me to do it that way too.

I have fond memories of reading Peter David’s Rocketeer movie novelization back in ’91. So, it was fun seeing him working with the character again, this time adapting the comic to a movie within the comic.

I got the M&C collection in November. I think Dorkin is building up the fun . . . next month brings back the “Fun” strips; May will feature the first Eltingville Club story in ten years. Remember, Dorkin has won three Eisners for doing those stories.

I was really enjoying Thunderbolts until Fear Itself and the arc with them traveling through time. I don’t have enough of an investment in the characters to care about seeing them in different costumes, reacting to different settings. It got very boring, suddenly, and it felt like Parker couldn’t ever decide who he wanted to focus on. I don’t think we ever got in depth with any of the team members until maybe this issue with Songbird, which was a neat story, until the end where it was summarily tossed in the drawer.

Truth to tell, I’m far from impressed with Marvel AND DC. Even though I’m buying Fantastic Four, FF, Amazing Spider-Man, and Wolverine and the X-Men, the bulk of Marvel books are a fairly hard slog worth avoiding. I prefer the likes of Dark Horse Presents and Rocketeer Adventures – in fact, I make a point of stressing my preferences to my local comics shop.

Bragging rights: I found all four issues of Concrete: Fragile Creature in the 50-cent bin this week!

I was kind of shocked at the ending of THUNDER Agents, but then I remembered the plot twist they pulled out a few pages before. So, maybe it’s another fake out?

I really liked Wonder Woman 7. It was a really good issue. And when it comes to Fables I usually stockpile a few issues at a time then read them all at once. I’m just too impatient to wait for the trades.

“and there’s even a cameo from a character that, I believe, is from Garth Ennis’s final story arc almost 20 years ago”

The First of the Fallen is from Ennis’s whole run; he’s introduced in ‘Dangerous Habits’, and I think he’s part of the story with the angel and the demon that had sex too. There’s also a creepy story from an Annual or Special where he sends a guy to have a conversation with John, just to remind John that he’s out there.

sean: I’m not talking about the First of the Fallen, I’m talking about the nurse who takes care of Gemma. I think she was one of the nurses who showed up in “Rake at the Gates of Hell,” because she mentions knowing a “Constantine,” but I don’t feel like digging out my back issues to check.

Wouldn’t like Milk and Cheese in one big she-bang…what is WRONG with you?! And I’m glad to hear of more Eltingville, too, as I’ve just recently seen the Adult Swim pilot of it.

If you do see Faerber, tell him I’m digging Ringer, and I think his eps seem to be the better ones of the show. Because that’s what you’ll want to talk about, what I like on the teevee.

Travis: From what I read in this issue of DHP, Milk and Cheese seem fairly one-note. They’re angry, and that gets them in trouble. I certainly don’t mind it in small doses, but i don’t know if I’d like stories like the one in DHP in a big format. I’d have to read a bit, put it away, and take it out a month later, read a bit, and so on. If they’re not all like the stories in DHP, then I’d probably have a different opinion.

Hey, if I remember, I’ll tell Faerber that! :)

I just wanted to get angry :)

Yeah, M&C are very one note, but that’s part of the charm, to me.

MERV GRIFFIN!!!

Andrew Collins

April 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Greg,
I just finished a multi-week effort at re-reading the entire run of Hellblazer (Which is an amazingly consistent book! It was nice to finally read the Paul Jenkins issues after skipping over them all those years ago. But I digress…) and the character you’re talking about, the black female doctor, showed up at the very beginning of Milligan’s run on HB. She was the best friend to John’s doomed lover Phoebe, and was the one always out to try and prove to Phoebe how awful John was. She was actually fairly annoying as a character and I was glad that she basically disappeared after the initial few appearances. I’m hoping this cameo stays pretty much that, a cameo…

Oh, and I agree, Epiphany is all sorts of awesome. I already know I plan on making room for her in your next poll for favorite DC characters…

Andrew: Thanks. I haven’t re-read Milligan’s run, so I had forgotten about her. I’m pretty sure the nurse from Rake at the Gates of Hell was black, too, which is why I thought it might be her.

I do hope Brian does another poll, because more people need to realize how excellent Epiphany is!

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