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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 11 April 2012

“An empire that can provide a prince, one who might end up succeeding to the throne, a life of childish foolishness and happiness until the age of twenty-nine is necessarily doomed to collapse, dissolution, and annihilation.” (Orhan Pamuk, from The Black Book)

She really ought to have an umbrella Benday dots! She's looking for Ah-nold! I blame you! Kids R D-U-M! On the bright side, they're very nice teeth Oh, it's ON! Yes, I'm a 12-year-old girl, why do you ask? Daredevil really needs a theme song Where are the Omaha pin-ups?!?!? Haney + Aparo = Awesome! So much blood!

Batwoman #8 (“To Drown the World Part 3″) by J. H. Williams III (writer), W. Haden Blackman (writer), Amy Reeder (penciller), Rob Hunter (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

I haven’t tried to keep up with the way the various time periods in this book hook up with each other (although I admit it might be kind of fun), but in this issue, Batwoman accidentally shoves a syringe into Maggie Sawyer “six nights ago,” but a few pages later, in “Chase’s Story,” which takes place “one week ago,” Chase tells Batwoman that the drug won’t affect Maggie too much. Is this a mistake? I think it is, but I don’t want to proclaim it so, because I’m not terribly bright. Anyway, the story continues apace, and I’m liking it. Williams and Blackman are doing a good job juggling everything so far (despite that possible mistake), we get some good information about the characters, Chase turns the screws on Kate, and things are moving along well. I don’t love the story, but I do like it.

This is the final Reeder issue, and I can’t say I’ll miss it. The art has gotten worse with each issue, not helped at all by the absolutely terrible inking job. Reeder does some nice work with the layouts, and some of her faces remain very nice and expressive, but overall, the art started off just okay on issue #7 and has deteriorated a bit over the next two. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Reeder would benefit greatly from heavier inks, because her lines themselves are fine but lack much power. The art on this book has looked more like the Tony Daniel/Ryan Benjamin days of Morrison’s Batman, and that’s not a good sign. Just look at the panel below: Kate’s face is terrible, but Cameron’s is superb. That’s kind of what the entire book is like – really nice work side-by-side with weaker stuff. Hunter does nothing to add definition to Reeder’s pencils, and I imagine the “tracer” insult might apply here – I’m sure I’m wrong, but it does look like he just goes over Reeder’s pencils with a thin magic marker. I don’t have Reeder’s work from Madame Xanadu in front of me, but a quick check indicates that she inked herself on at least a few issues, which probably helped. Guy Major colored both books, so I don’t think that’s the problem, although the glossy paper of the mainstream DC is worse for her work than the rougher paper of Vertigo books – her work on Madame Xanadu, although still in the same vein as this, looks weightier, and I imagine the heavier paper stock helped hide the thin lines and Major’s use of the “Vertigo brown” palette (the comic is brighter than some Vertigo books, but still) also contributed. The way Major colors Batwoman (I assume that’s his trick and not Reeder’s) remains the best part of the artwork, and it’s too bad they’re using it as a stylistic choice to set Kate apart.

Trevor McCarthy comes on board next issue, and I’m interesting to see what that art looks like. I like Reeder’s art quite a bit, but her work on Batwoman has not been exemplary, which is too bad.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Damn, Cameron

The Bodysnatchers #4 (of 6) by Pasquale Pako Massimo (writer/artist), Peppe bBox Boccia (colorist), Andrea Plazzi (translator), Adam McGovern (translator), and Studio Blue (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, GG Studio.

Issue #3 of this series came out in August, so it’s kind of difficult to review the book as a whole when it takes so long between installments (I imagine money issues have to be the problem, as the actual Italian comic came out in 2005, so it’s not like they’re waiting on Massimo to finish). It’s especially true because I imagine that, as a European comic, this was NOT released serially, so Massimo isn’t terribly interested in getting anyone up to speed – he actually does give us quite a bit of new information about Utopolis, the city in which the series is set, but there’s also a lot of allusions to earlier events that one really can’t be expected to remember unless one reads this all at once. It’s a weird cyberpunkish kind of book, and I like it, but it’s really hard to appreciate it issue-by-issue. I’m still uncertain exactly what the main character and her band of misfits wants to achieve, or if I did know it, I’ve forgotten it. It’s frustrating. Massimo’s art remains very good, with a nice, hard sci-fi/post-apocalyptic vibe to it, and the characters are weird but not too insanely bizarre. I’m still not sure why the female character is wearing a bikini bottom when it seems that the city is a bit cold, but I guess sex sells, even in a sci-fi book with no overt sexual themes. I hate to say it, but I really do need to read this all at once. In a vacuum, it’s an interesting issue, but there’s so much going on that I feel like I’m a bit lost.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I love the exclamation points!!!!!

Glory #25 (“Once and Future Part Three: The Way It Will Be”) by Joe Keatinge (writer), Ross Campbell (artist), Ms, Shatia Hamilton (colorist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

Keatinge wraps up his re-introduction of Glory and his introduction of Riley by having Riley dream of a future 500 years from now, where she’s still alive and has found Glory living on Mars. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this dream, apparently, helps clarify why she found Glory in the present, which presumably will drive the run for a while. There are some tremendously cool visuals (of course, with Campbell drawing it), but you’d be forgiven if you wonder when things are going to start, you know, happening. At least Keatinge got all his ducks in a row fairly quickly – three issues feels like a whirlwind compared to some Bendis comics – and he did provide a lot of background for those of us who were unfamiliar with the character. I appreciated it, but these first three issues have been more about Campbell’s amazing artwork than Keatinge’s scripts. Now that it’s clear what’s going on in the book and now that a lot of the background has been established, I hope that will change.

As I mentioned, right now Campbell is the star of the book. His Mars is a weird, wild place (Dr. Doom apparently hangs out there, and I half expected Campbell’s Shadoweyes to show up), and Campbell makes the conversation between Future Riley and Future Glory, which occupies 8 crucial pages, visually interesting, moving between the future and the characters’ past, showing how they came to that place. Hamilton does a nice job contrasting the conversation with Riley’s flashbacks, lending drama to the way life has gone over the 500 years. Campbell’s “new” design of Glory is wonderful, too – it shows how far she’s gone and implies she’s never coming back. It’s really a nice-looking comic, and it helps make Keatinge’s place-setting feel less formulaic, which is nice.

I’ve liked the return of Glory, and I’m keen to see where Keatinge is going with it now that he’s shown us the direction. I’m sure it will look pretty!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Change the threat level to 'brown'!

Northlanders #50 (of 50) (“The Icelandic Trilogy Part Nine: Waygone 1260″) by Brian Wood (writer), Danijel Zezelj (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I don’t have a lot to say about the end of Northlanders. It’s always been a very good book, with some stories rising to greatness and only one (“Metal”) falling short. “The Icelandic Trilogy” had an air of inevitability about it, not only because it was the final arc but because if you care, you could easily find out what happened in Iceland in 1263, shortly after this story takes place. This final three-issue story of the bigger nine-issue tale is slightly underwhelming, simply because it feels like Wood might have bitten off more than he could chew with only 60 pages – the destruction of a family and, by extension, a way of life. Oskar’s delusions come home to roost far too quickly, it seems, and Freya Macbeth kind of turns into Lori Grimes a bit, doesn’t she? Anyway, it’s a nice-looking comic, and I hope DC releases a giant trade of all nine issues (I mean, why wouldn’t they?) and I hope that people appreciate that Wood wrote a motherfucking Viking comic for 50 issues, because that’s damned impressive. It wouldn’t kill you to get The Massive instead of his X-Men comic, you know. Or Mara. Because Ming Doyle is fucking awesome.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

She'll do it, too!

Saga #2 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (artist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

After Saga #1 got every Internet reviewer into a lather (well, except this one), I wonder what the reaction to issue #2 will be? Probably more of the same, but this issue earns it a bit more. Vaughan, perhaps, didn’t feel the need to jam a lot into 40-odd pages this time, and much like Glory, with the world-building out of the way a bit, he can concentrate on the story. He also spends most of the issue with Alana and Marko, so we get a better sense of who they are and why they’re together, which is crucial if you’re asking us to care about them. They argue less than they did in the first issue and actually seem to act like a team, and when something bad happens to Marko (see below), Alana’s reaction feels extremely genuine (as does the subsequent showdown between Alana and The Stalk). I’m not totally in love with the characters yet, and I still think Marko is more interesting than Alana, but they’re better in this issue than they were in issue #1. I still don’t like Vaughan’s attempts to make this universe “like ours,” and the bit with the person talking about trashy romances that housewives buy at the supermarket was a terrible bit of dialogue, completely awkward and out of place. If Vaughan makes Marko, Alana, and their predicament with Hazel better, he doesn’t need the clunky stuff that is supposed to make all these weird characters more like us but when the words are being spoken by robots with televisions for heads comes off as really bad, because we’ll care about the comic. Concentrate on that, Mr. Vaughan!

Staples has gotten rid of the worst of the backgrounds from last issue – it probably helps that a lot of the issue takes place in a rain forest, so she just has to do a lot of green murk – and her Marko and Alana are as good as ever. Plus, we get a new character, The Stalk (Alana knows she’s an assassin by her name, so maybe having an article as your first name means you’re an assassin?), and she’s pretty damned cool-looking. The final page, which has already been ruined if you’ve seen the cover of issue #3, is pretty cool, too. I still don’t like the fact that the characters don’t look integrated into the background – my post about The Question shows that Tommy Lee Edwards was able to blend these elements years ago, so it can be done – and I wish Staples would somehow fix that. I honestly don’t know how hard it is, because I’m not an artist, but perhaps it’s just very time-consuming. Still, there’s nothing extremely egregious about the art this time around, and Staples does show her strengths nicely, so that’s cool.

Saga is still a book more about potential than delivery, but issue #2 is more enjoyable than the first one, so I guess that’s something. There’s no reason it can’t keep getting better!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

What he doesn't know is, to her, this is foreplay

Secret #1 (“Teeth With Which to Eat”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Ryan Bodenheim (artist), Michael Garland (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

Hickman’s return to Image continues with Secret, which is a typically intriguing Hickman book that bristles with interesting ideas that may or may not pay off (that’s the chance you take!). In this case, a man wakes up to find an intruder in his house, who ties him up, rips a tooth out of his mouth, and gains access to his computer. The victim happens to be the CEO of a giant accounting firm, so this is bad news. When he tells his lawyer, the lawyer puts him in touch with a private security company that handles stuff for them, and the plot moves into action. A member of the security group, which is called Steadfast, tells the lawyers that their security is shit, and in true movie thriller style, proves it because his associate has already hacked into it. This guy, Grant, is at the meeting because their usual representative, Thomas Moore, is otherwise occupied (see below). So we have the deal with the law firm, which may or may not be important, the deal with Moore getting threatened by some unseen assailant, and the deal with the guy breaking into the dude’s house. Are any of these connected? Who the hell knows – it’s a Jonathan Hickman comic! (I say that in the nicest way possible, because I like Hickman’s comics for the most part and respect the fact that he’s ambitious as hell). Unfortunately, when I can see the ending coming a mile away, it’s probably pretty obvious to anyone with a brain (the debate rages on as to whether I possess one!), but that doesn’t change the fact that the set-up is pretty keen.

Bodenheim is a decent enough artist, and it’s too bad that he doesn’t get to cut loose all that much. When Hickman writes his talky scripts and illustrates them himself, he does dazzling things with page layouts to distract from all the talking. Whether he doesn’t ask that of his other artists or the artists just aren’t capable of it I don’t know, but it means that Bodenheim has to draw a lot of talking, so while the actual work is fine, the art is kind of boring. Where the art shines is in Garland’s coloring – you can see below that the guy with the gun is in red while the rest of the panel is gray. Garland does this repeatedly, switching colors seemingly randomly and coloring entire panels in shades of one tone, either green or yellow or blue or red. It’s actually fairly effective – not only does it help highlight flashbacks and shifts in location, but it helps set apart the young, hip Steadfast employees and the dull, dry lawyers they’re trying to help. It makes the book far more visually interesting than it has any right to be, and I for one appreciate it quite a lot.

I guess Secret is supposed to be a kind of techno-thriller, and that’s cool as long as there’s, you know, some punching. This is an intriguing first issue that sets everything up nicely and gives us a lot to chew on. That’s always fun!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, I'd tell him

Wasteland #36 (“Devil’s Dance”) by Antony Johnston (writer), Justin Greenwood (artist), Matthew Razzano (toner), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

I have a feeling that Johnston stretched this story arc one issue too long. Once we got the revelation about the big naked dude, this could have wrapped up more quickly, but there’s still one issue to go in the arc. It’s not that any issue is bad, it’s just that for the past two issues, we’ve seen the characters running around a lot and yelling at each other. Yes, yes, Michael is a demon and Abi is probably a whore, according to the close-minded people in town. Oh, Templar Rickerd, you’re such a Philistine! The major plot points of the arc – the giant naked dude, Michael discovering what Gerr is doing, Abi showing off her abilities again – have been covered, and I’m not sure how Johnston will end things just because it seems like our heroes have totally overstayed their welcome in the town. Abi does threaten them at the very end, but it seems like we could have reached this point a bit sooner. The arcs on Wasteland have occasionally felt longer because of the delays in the scheduling, but when you consider what Johnston was doing, it doesn’t feel like they could have been cut in any way. This arc, however, feels a bit padded, and that’s too bad.

Still, I imagine that anything that feels extraneous will become important in later issues, and I am willing to cut Johnston some slack. Just knowing that Johnston has the entire sage pretty much plotted out is comforting, because it does seem that he knows what he’s doing. One arc that feels an issue too long isn’t a deal-breaker, after all. But it still feels a bit long!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That's kind of douchey

Courtney Crumrin volume 1: The Night Things by Ted Naifeh (writer/artist) and Warren Wucinich (colorist). $19.99, 125 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

Fact: Ted Naifeh is awesome. Fact: The new coloring on this book is really, really good. Fact: Courtney Crumrin is adorable even though she totally lacks a nose. What the hell’s up with that?

Daredevil: Season One by Antony Johnston (writer), Wellington Alves (penciler), Nelson Pereira (inker), Bruno Hang (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $24.99, 100 pgs (plus a reprint of Daredevil #1), FC, Marvel.

Considering that a five-issue mini-series from Marvel these days would cost $19.95 (5 x $3.99) or even (if we’re lucky) $14.95 (5 x $2.99), paying 25 bucks for the same amount of pages (no, I don’t count the reprint) seems excessive. I don’t care. I’m just chuffed that Marvel is doing graphic novels again, even if they’re retelling origins that have been retold many, many, MANY times. I figure if these do well, maybe they’ll start doing “real” OGNs again. Wouldn’t that be keen?

Kitchen Sink Press: The First 25 Years by Dave Schreiner and others. $15.00, 128 pgs, Kitchen Sink Press.

This originally came out in 1994, but it’s been re-released. It’s not a comic, but a book about comics, so it may be hard for me to read. So many words!!!!!

Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo volume 1 by Bob Haney (writer) and Jim Aparo (artist). $49.99, 510 pgs, FC, DC.

This came out last week, but my retailer forgot to give it to me and I forgot to get it from him. It collects 23 stories from The Brave and the Bold in the early 1970s that I could probably find in the quarter boxes, especially as they’re all one-and-done stories, but I’m not Greg Hatcher, for crying out loud, and I can’t find hidden gems in tiny bookstores located all over the Northwest! I am weak and like my cheap comics in an expensive, fancy format. Don’t judge me with your judging eyes!!!!!

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode by Justin Jordan (writer), Tradd Moore (artist), Felipe Sobreiro (colorist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $14.99, 145 pgs, FC, Image.

Damn, the art in this book is cool. And damn, there’s a hella lot of blood in this book. Damn.

**********

In the continuing saga of Arizona’s descent into madness, the House approved Bill 2036 this week, sending it off to the governor to sign. Good times! Our legislature, meanwhile, has cut a lot of services for, say, special needs children under the age of three in recent years. Oh, and school programs that help elementary-school special needs kids instead of waiting until they’re teenagers and might benefit less because their brains are less elastic? Yeah, they’re getting cut, too. The good news is, this new bill won’t cost any money, it will just extend government intrusion into private affairs. So yeah, fuck women and children. God obviously hates them. Sorry, I’m just really pissed off at certain segments of our society right now.

This week I watched Green Lantern, finally, and I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. It wasn’t any good, of course, but it wasn’t any worse than, say, Thor, yet people seemed to like Thor a LOT more than poor GL. Thor definitely had better actors, but I’m not sure it had better acting (Idris Elba should have totally played Heimdall as DCI Luther, because that would have rocked so hard). Green Lantern was fairly stupid, but again, most superhero movies are fairly stupid. Mark Strong was good, unsurprisingly; Tim Robbins as Peter Sarsgaard’s father was dumb (Robbins is not even 13 years older than Sarsgaard, and Sarsgaard looked older in the movie); I was surprised to see Amanda Waller show up (I may have heard she was in the movie, but forgot); I did enjoy how no one batted an eye when Hector Hammond starts physically transforming – they’re all just like, “Hey, don’t fret, dude”; it’s always nice that Temuera Morrison gets work, even though he was hardly in the movie; Ryan Reynolds is really well put together; and I don’t get Blake Lively. I mean, she’s purty and all, but she’s not a good actress, yet she keeps getting high-profile gigs. I love this phenomenon – an actor somehow gets hot (luck probably has a lot to do with it) and suddenly they’re in all sorts of things in which they’re punching far above their class. Lively somehow ended up in The Town, and now she’s in Oliver Stone’s new movie, and that’s great for her, but I hope she’s socking away some money for when it all comes crashing down. She’s not even 25 yet, and when you’re not a good actress but you are an attractive woman, your shelf life in Hollywood is limited. I don’t mean to pick on Lively – good for her if she’s getting parts – and this is not a unique phenomenon or even a specifically female one (Sam Worthington, really?), but I do find it utterly fascinating, especially because actors (especially women) often find a second life after their initial phase of “hotness” is over. Anyone who has seen Elisha Cuthbert killing it as a comic actress on Happy Endings knows what I’m talking about. Anyway, Green Lantern: Crap, but not deserving of so much derision. Of course, I didn’t pay 10 bucks to see it, so maybe that factors into things.

Speaking of things I watched, I hope everyone caught the finale of Justified this week, because it was pretty awesome. I won’t give anything away in case you haven’t seen it yet, but as usual, the show rocks. The writers not only nail the endings of seasons, they even give us killer last lines of seasons, and this one was no exception. I watch a lot of television, but there are very few shows that I would really miss if someone took my television away. Justified is one of them. Mad Men and Game of Thrones are two others. Community might be one, but after that, I really start grasping. Some of the BBC stuff – Luther, Whitechapel, Sherlock – would probably be next on my list.

Speaking of television, I watched Don’t Trust the B_____ in Apartment 23, which replaced Happy Endings (let’s hope not for good), last night. It was pretty lousy, but James van der Beek playing himself was pretty awesome. I love it when celebrities play themselves for comic effect, a trend which I first noticed (whether it began there or not I don’t know, but I doubt it) when Jennifer Grey played herself on It’s Like, You Know … THIS IS JUST ANOTHER REASON WHY THAT IS A SADLY UNDERRATED CLASSIC!!!!!! Anyway, van der Beek is very funny. The rest of the show … not so much.

Speaking of old-school television, here’s a mash-up of a bunch of famous people who called into Frasier. They’re cut way too short, but it’s still pretty funny. I liked Frasier (although I gave up in the later years), but occasionally I found myself watching it because I had a serious crush on Peri Gilpin. Poor Peri Gilpin. She totally never became the superstar she deserved to be!

Speaking of random goofy stuff on the Internet, here’s a Danny Trejo meme. Who doesn’t love Danny Trejo? Commies, that’s who. For some reason, there’s also a a Party Spock picture. I love the Intertubes!

Speaking of Community, this photograph of Alison Brie cracks me up. Any one of us could be the dude in the picture! You know it’s true!

Speaking of creepy dudes, an acquaintance of mine has become a meme. Corwin is a very cool dude, by the way. But he totally deserves this!

Okay, let’s move on to The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “And We Danced”Hooters1 (1985) “There was no use talking, there was nothing to say when the band began to play and play”2
2. “Nothin’ But a Good Time”Poison (1988) “I’m really sorry about the shape I’m in, I just like my fun every now and then”3
3. “I’m With Stupid”Chumbawamba (2000) “Another white boy band, they’re happy on demand”
4. “I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)”4Eagles of Death Metal (2006) “Trust your instincts and let me in”
5. “Free Your Mind” – En Vogue (1992) “I wear tight clothing, high heeled shoes, that really doesn’t mean that I’m a prostitute”
6. “Nervous Breakthrough”Luscious Jackson (1999) “All the best things make you nervous and all the best things come in disguise”
7. “My Philosophy” – Boogie Down Productions (1988) “It ain’t about money ’cause we all make dollars”5
8. “Pretty Noose”Soundgarden (1996) “I don’t care what you got, I don’t care what you need, I don’t want anything”
9. “DVB” – Mary’s Danish (1989) “I saw it in the window of Woolworth’s yesterday”
10. “Alaskan Pipeline”James (2001) “With all my words I can’t find one to help you understand”

1 No, not this. The Eric Bazilian/Rob Hyman ones!

2 Yes, I am lame for having this song on my iPod, why do you ask? I can’t help it – I love songs about dancing (even though I’m not a very good dancer – well, I’m a fair ballroom dancer, but not freestylin’!). I don’t know why. It’s one of the reasons I love “Pull Shapes.”

3 I think this is the only Poison song on my iPod, and I like when it comes up because I can remind Travis Pelkie about “Unskinny Bop” and get it stuck in his head. Suck it, Pelkie! “Unskinny bop-bop-bop-bop!”

4 This video is pretty awesome. When the dude starts blowing everyone’s clothes off with the power of his sexyguitar, you know you’ve gone to a whole new level!

5 Is this the most sampled song ever? I can think of four different songs that use samples from it without even trying. I’m just wondering.

It’s tax time, so I hope every red-blooded American got theirs done. You have until Tuesday, remember! Take the weekend to go see Lockout (you totally want to, even if Kurt Russell and Adrienne Barbeau aren’t in it!) and get them done on Monday! It’s a win-win! Have a great weekend, everyone!

22 Comments

I bought the Jim Aparo Omnibus too, which is also secretly a Bob Haney omnibus. I’m only two issues into the 23 collected within its pages, but my brain has already melted six times.

Well, it’s BOTH Haney and Aparo. Along with Aparo came a switch from Brave and the Bold being goofy not-always-in-a-good way too Brave and the Bold being goofy in a revolutionary and spectacular way. Aparo (A) gave everything a veneer of realism which made them a hundred times better, and (B) was the only guy Haney worked with who could draw EVERYTHING well. And if you’re working with Bob Haney you better damn well be able to draw everything.

Greg – And they’re difficult to find in the quarter boxes – I paid ’round ten bucks a pop for issues 111-117, and overall spent more than you did buying singles in good-ish condition of the same material. And I still don’t own a # 98. (Although you’re missing some great reprints in the 100 page issues, and the letter pages were always interesting.)

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm

My mind’s reeling from your comment “… I’m not terribly bright …
Here I thought you’re a frickin’ genius, but I guess I wuz wrong!

Among your list of tv shows to watch, check out BOSS. Brilliant acting from Kelsey Grammar. I KID you not!!!
I’ve NEVER seen him perform so well.

I picked up The SECRET cuz I thought it had the coolest creepiest cover I’ve ever seen. Would you want to see a smile like that before you go to bed?!? Haven’t read it yet.

Funnily enough, that quote “Give me what I want.” reminds me of a Stephen King written mini-series with Colm Feore who quoted quite often in the series “Give me what I want and then I’ll go away” Can’t remember the name of the mini-series.

You’d be surprised at just how often certain songs are sampled. Off the top of my head, “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell seems to be sampled every year.

If I recall correctly, though, I once read that a James Brown song “Funky Drummer” was the most sampled song of all-time (at least it was back when I read the article) as there is a drum bit in there that has been used in ALL sorts of songs, including “Fight the Power” and “Mama Said Knock You Out” to name two particularly famous songs that used it.

Bill: I hope your brain recovers!

Mark: That’s interesting to know. I guess these are a bit more well known than most comics, so they don’t get relegated to the quarter bins as much. I’ll have to read this slowly – I don’t know if I can take so much Haney awesomeness at one time!

Tom: I like Boss quite a bit, but I’m not sure I’d really miss it too much if television ceased to exist. It kind of occupies a level with Boardwalk Empire – I like them both more than some of the simple network crap that I watch, but it’s not quite up there with the truly great stuff. But Grammar is damned good, and the season finale kicked much ass.

According to Google, it was Storm of the Century. Sound right? I’ve never seen it.

Brian: I’m not surprised a James Brown song gets sampled so much. I wonder if there’s a database showing which songs get sampled the most. It’s the Internet – of course there must be!

I wonder if it’s too late to return Arizona to Mexico…nah, they probably wouldn’t want it. And who could blame them?

If Green Lantern has a virtue, it’s Ryan Reynolds not playing Hal Jordan as a complete asshole (in contrast to Justice League Hal Jordan). Otherwise, it’s just another mediocre superhero movie.

Greg : The site “WhoSampledWho” will answer all your questions. What surprised me was the sheer number of hip-hop samples using Kraftwerk.

Correction : it’s actually called “whosampled.com”. My apologies.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 13, 2012 at 5:10 am

Storm of the Century, yes, that sounds right. Just as well you didn’t see it, the ending would leave you with an empty depressing feeling. Remember The Mist, the ending of that? well Storm of the Century was far worse.

Man, haven’t read anything this week due to visiting my folks in picturesque central NY. There aren’t quite as many book stores in the middle-of-nowhere as there are in Atlanta. I think I was only really looking forward to Uncanny X-Men 10 and Winter Soldier 4 anyway.

I don’t know if your a fan of “Real Time with Bill Maher”, but he has been running a competition for the countries stupidest state on his show. I think the results are determined by viewer votes. He announced the winner of this years competition on this weeks episode and the lucky winner is Arizona!

At least you are not alone in your disapproval.

JJC – there are plenty of comic shops in Central New York! I live in Syracuse and there are at least three large shops. Surprisingly enough, there are a also a lot of smaller towns up here that have an LCS. Where do your parents live?

Jeff – very small town called Nelliston, it’s along I-90 between Utica and Albany. No big deal though, I’ll be back in Atlanta tomorrow. I used to actually buy my comics in Utica when I lived in NY.

especially because actors (especially women) often find a second life after their initial phase of “hotness” is over. Anyone who has seen Elisha Cuthbert killing it as a comic actress on Happy Endings knows what I’m talking about.

Man, you are not lying. She is fantastic on that show. Half her lines are throwaways, but she nails them very time.

I watched Don’t Trust the B_____ in Apartment 23, which replaced Happy Endings (let’s hope not for good)

Ratings-wise, Happy Endings isn’t in any danger of cancellation; it’s on par with Suburgatory and The Middle, which are solid performers that, like everything else on ABC, trail behind Modern Family. Whether or not HE will continue to follow MF on Wednesday nights in the fall depends, at least in part, upon how well Apt 23 does in the time-slot, but at least HE’ll be back. Cougar Town might not be so lucky…

Anyway, van der Beek is very funny. The rest of the show … not so much.

I’m willing to give Apt 23 a few episodes to find its tone, since pilots tend to be the worst episode of any series. I mean, the show can’t be as bad as Mr. Sunshine, right? And I managed to sit through, like, three full episodes of that before I gave up. Still, if the creators completely retooled Apt 23 and turned it into James van der Beek: Affable Dick, it’d be a helluva lot better.

Speaking of things I watched, I hope everyone caught the finale of Justified this week, because it was pretty awesome. I won’t give anything away in case you haven’t seen it yet, but as usual, the show rocks. The writers not only nail the endings of seasons, they even give us killer last lines of seasons, and this one was no exception.

Amen to that. If Justified isn’t the best drama on television, it’s at least in the top three, three years running. Last season completely obliterated any notion of a sophomore slump, and this season kept the ball rolling in the right direction. As dynamic a character as Mags Bennett was, I hardly noticed she was gone. Hell, there were eps that barely featured Raylan and still hit all the right notes. I do wish Tim and Rachel had more to do this season, but that’s the downside of having such a deep bench of talent.

Also: Comics.

This sentence (?) in the Saga review confused me:

“If Vaughan makes Marko, Alana, and their predicament with Hazel better, he doesn’t need the clunky stuff that is supposed to make all these weird characters more like us but when the words are being spoken by robots with televisions for heads comes off as really bad, because we’ll care about the comic.”

Huh?

You totally suck on that Poison thing, too. SUCK!

bopbopbopbop

NOOOOO!!!!!

As to upstate NY, I live about 1 1/2 south of Jeff in Syracuse, and there are 3 shops in my area, and we’re not even as big as Syracuse. Plus, Ithaca isn’t too far and they’ve got a couple shops (unless that newer one went under already, I haven’t been up there in a bit). The actual Albany area has at least a couple good shops from what I hear. Maybe because we are a cultural backwater otherwise :) we need all the entertainment we can get.

As to samples, I read of something similar to what Brian mentioned, in that there’s some drum and bass type album, possibly with a title not unlike “Funky Drummer”, from the early ’70s that is one of the most sampled things around. Don’t remember who made it, but iirc, it was kinda studio musicians or something.

@Mars: Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express was “reworked” in Afrikaa Bambata’s Planet Rock, and I believe that since that’s an early hip hop track, it would be sampled a lot, and Kraftwerk would therefore be the credited artist. “Meet Iggy Pop, and, David Bowie”

bopbopbopbop

The next to last Ringer ep was pretty cool, with a head turning twist to it. day-um! I’m very looking forward to the season finale this week, and wonder where they might go if the series continues.

Also digging Mad Men as well. I thought we were further along than summer of ’66, though. You know Richard Speck is bad when the part about him killing 8 nurses isn’t quite the weirdest part of his life story….

And Venture Brothers, man. Such a good show. I will babble more on Chad’s post this week.

BOPBOPBOPBOPBOP All night and DAYYYYYYYYYEEAAHHH!!!!!

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Travis: Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

What, you don’t like my tortured syntax? I re-read that sentence a few times to make sure it was exactly what I wanted and was grammatically correct, but I may have screwed up. Basically, what I meant was that Vaughan doesn’t need the trappings of “our” time and place (the mentioning of romance novels at supermarkets) if he makes the main characters compelling. When characters who are unusual as the characters in this book talk about romance novels at the supermarket, it just comes off as bad dialogue and Vaughan trying too hard. I hope that’s clearer!

You tortured that syntax so much, even the Justice Department wouldn’t write a memo justifying it.

Anyway, let’s look at it again:

“If Vaughan makes Marko, Alana, and their predicament with Hazel better, he doesn’t need the clunky stuff that is supposed to make all these weird characters more like us but when the words are being spoken by robots with televisions for heads comes off as really bad, because we’ll care about the comic.”

I understand it all through this part:“If Vaughan makes Marko, Alana, and their predicament with Hazel better, he doesn’t need the clunky stuff that is supposed to make all these weird characters more like us”. After that it gets confusing. I think it should have been at least 2 sentences. Let’s try:

“The clunky words [about romances novels] are being spoken by robots with televisions for heads and it comes off as really bad.” “If Vaughan makes Marko, Alana, and their predicament with Hazel better, he doesn’t need the clunky stuff that is supposed to make all these weird characters more like us”, “because we’ll care about the comic.”

Maybe. Maybe that’s tortured too. But never feel that cramming a bunch of thoughts into one sentence instead of using multiple sentences works great.

Oh, and other TV stuff I forgot to mention: I don’t know what wonderful TV gods got Madchen Amick back into the TV biz, but thank goodness, because she did a neat turn on Ringer and of course last week’s Mad Men appearance. And day-um she is still bee-yoo-ti-ful. I always liked her best of the Twin Peaks gals, and I enjoyed her appearance in a crappy SF movie called Bombshell (with the kid that was ET’s pal, the girl from Becker and Saw, and the woman who was Brigit on the Pretender), because she got down to her skivvies in one scene. If she’d been in a scene with Christina Hendricks, I would have totally lost it. (And those 2 would be wonderful random hotties, hint hint hint! Payback for getting BOPBOPBOPBOP into my head again! Oh….it’s stuck!!!!)

Travis: I will always try to cram as much into one sentence as I can!!!!! The longer the sentence, the smarter the writer!!!!!

I think Madchen Amick is far more attractive these days than 20 years ago, because she was creepily skinny back then. She put a little bit of weight on, and that helped immensely. You’re right, though – she’s quite attractive.

I thought I was the only one who remembered It’s Like, You Know…

I miss. A.J. Langer.

I agree that Batwoman #8 was not very good, and I think I’m dropping that book. I realize the art will change next issue (and McCarthy looked great on Gates of Gotham), but more than the lacklustre art the last few issues, I just don’t love the way this comic is being written. I feel like it’s stretched too thin and the stories are created merely as launching pads for the art. Like Demon Knights, I don’t think the series has had a single issue that was fulfilling in and of itself, and that bothers me.

I’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men lately, and that series has mastered 3 levels of storytelling: every episode succeeds as an individual episode, with its own themes, story, style, and ending; every episode succeeds as a part of a season arc; and every episode succeeds as a part of the entire series. It’s like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run, where you could take any random issue, and it succeeds completely on it’s own terms as a single reading experience, but also fills a larger part of the greater story (be it American Gothic, or Swampy’s space odyssey, etc.), and also serves as another step for the character in the journey that was Alan Moore’s entire tenure.

I realize that it’s not necessarily fair to judge things against the pinnacles of their mediums, but it’s the lack of effort that bothers me. Just because comics are largely consumed in trades now doesn’t mean they should only be written for them. TV is also largely consumed on dvd now, but most good shows still write for the episode format. Ed Brubaker did this really well with Sleeper, where each issue was its own story, but also part of the season arc, and part of the series’ overall story. How many comics do that today? Glory #25, for example, was pretty good (not great), but it did tell its own story. I also thought the most recent issue of Defenders was a fantastic single reading experience.

I’ve been trying to figure out where this problem comes from, beyond just a larger change in the way comics are read. I’ve come up with two contributing factors: splash pages and the death of issue titles.

I’ve noticed in several of the New 52 titles that there are often 4 or 5 splash pages per issue, which is ridiculous. Where does the blame lie for that? Is it the fault of the writers, who are instructing artists to keep drawing so many splash pages? Is it the fault of the artists, who now largely came of age in the early Image comics years and therefore only know how to draw in massive action panels? Or is it the fault of the editors, who might be mandating so many splash pages because they think that’s what readers want? I don’t know the answer to this question, but I do know it’s seriously detrimental to the comics reading experience. Splash pages used to resonate, because they came as a semi-surprise after pages and pages of 8/9/10 panel story-telling. Now, they just seem to be used out of pure laziness. Wolverine & the X-Men is a good example of a comic that doesn’t use them much, and really packs in a lot of panels per page. This could be because the books two artists learned from better sources. Chris Bachalo learned his craft working on early Vertigo comics, and Nick Bradshaw emulates Art Adams, who used to pack his pages with as much as humanly possible. As a result, each issue of Wolverine & the X-Men feels like it’s bursting with stuff happening, and even if they aren’t always individual reading experiences, they’re at least fulfilling in terms of amount of content. (I actually think Wolverine & The X-Men might be the best book on the stands right now.)

Lack of issue titles is the other major problem. Go back and look at the Dark Phoenix Saga: Uncanny X-Men 136 wasn’t called “The Dark Phoenix Saga, Part 8.” It was called “Child of Light and Darkness.” Swamp Thing 48 wasn’t called “American Gothic. Part 12.” It was called “A Murder of Crows.” Most of the truly classic issues have titles that remain in the memory. If I say things like “For the Man Who Has Everything,” “Men of Good Fortune,” “Days of Future Past,” “Rite of Spring,” “The Sound of Her Wings,” or “Lifedeath,” there’s a very good chance many of you know what issues I’m talking about. For all of their many other attributes, one of the reasons Alan Moore, Chris Claremont, and Neil Gaiman rose to the top of their field is because they wrote issues that stood marvelously on their own, even as they were always part of larger wholes. They ensured that their readers were having memorable experiences regardless of whether they picked up one issue or three years’ worth.

I think Animal Man is certainly one of the better books our right now, but it bothers me that each issue is just called “something something, part 3.” It’s a question of mentality: if you’re writing something with a title that ends in “Part 3,” you feel no subconscious obligation to treat it as it’s own entity. And this breeds lazy writing.

For companies and industries to succeed, they have to provide their customers with good experiences. If creators want to tell 120 page stories, that’s fantastic. But release them as 120 page stories. If you decide to release 20 page stories, then you have an obligation to make those 20 page stories worthwhile to the reader.

Sorry for my rant, but this has really been bothering me lately. I just reread Alan Moore’s “The Supreme Story of the Year,” and all 13 issues managed to tell single stories that succeeded completely on their own (except for the last 2 parts), even as they told one 13-part story that worked marvelously as a greater whole. This should be the rule, not the exception.

Oh yeah, a few other things-

1. I agree that Saga 2 was better than the first issue, and I’m pleased I decided to stick with it. Hopefully it keeps getting better.

2. Surprised you didn’t get America’s Got Powers. I enjoyed the first issue, even if it feels a bit too similar to Hunger Games. I wonder if that’s on purpose, and it was released now to try and entice that audience, or if it’s mere accidental timing. Anyway, like Saga #1, this was a lot of story (37 pages) for $2.99, so that’s always worth supporting.

3. Brian is right that Funky Drummer is widely regarded as the most sampled song of all-time. Questlove once talked about it in an interview, that for aspiring drummers, learning that song is considered a rite of passage.

4. Sorry Greg, but Green Lantern was historically awful. I wasn’t as high on Thor as most people (I gave it a B-), but it was a movie that didn’t have any major flaws other than simply being not incredibly compelling. There weren’t any egregious decisions made on that movie (casting, story, characters, setting, effects, dialogue, etc.) that you can point to and say “Thing X ruined Thor.” Green Lantern, on the other hand, had three such instances in the first ten minutes alone. First, there was the terrible intro, that tried to throw the continuity of Geoff Johns’ entire run at the viewer in about 4 minutes flat. Text/narrative backstory intros are generally lazy, but are okay if kept either extremely brief (like Star Wars or Gladiator), or made interesting on their own terms (like Royal Tenenbaums). But Green Lantern did neither. All it did was say in giant green letters “this movie will not be fun.” You can’t just pound the viewer with information before they have a reason to care. That’s supposed to be common sense movie-making 101. Second, Blake Lively. Yikes. (I should say that I don’t think her acting is completely without merits, and I thought she was good in The Town. But, even great actors have a hard time selling sub-par dialogue, and Blake Lively is not a great actor.) And third, the opening flight sequence looked like it was copy and pasted right out of the beginning of Top Gun.

There was no reason Green Lantern couldn’t have been a good movie, it just needed a different cast and crew. The inherent problem with Thor was that Thor just isn’t a great character, or at least not on the level of Batman/Spider-Man/X-Men. But Thor the movie was about as good as it could have been given this major flaw. Green Lantern is a compelling character to start with, but the people who conceived the movie went about it completely wrong. With backstory, less is more. Just give Hal the ring, and then let him learn/figure out any important information with the viewer. And then there’s Geoff Johns, who is probably the reason Green Lantern sucked more than anyone else. Even if comic fans like his Green Lantern run, it’s pretty incomprehensible to anyone that hasn’t read a few hundred GL comics. Trying to import any of that to the movie was just a disastrous plan from the get-go. GL is also a character with only one “name” villain: Sinestro. The decision to not use him as such was a major mistake, because we ended up with Parallax and more backstory.

The failure of Green Lantern is incalculable to DC, because they were mortgaging their Hollywood future on the movie. The inclusion of a name actress playing Amanda Waller pretty much proves that they were hoping for an Avengers-like connected universe of Hollywood properties to build on, but now they’re left at ground zero. Instead they get to sit back and watch Avengers double the GNP of most developed countries this summer.

Third Man: Tell us how you really feel about Green Lantern! :)

I agree with a lot of what you write, but at the same time, I guess I wasn’t as high on Thor as others, so I don’t see it as being so much better. This certainly isn’t a defense of Green Lantern, it’s more of an “attack” on Thor.

I decided to wait for the trade on America’s Got Powers. With Hitch and Ross working on it, I can’t imagine it will be in any way timely, and also with those big names working on it, I can’t imagine it won’t get a trade (which isn’t a huge concern with Image, but it’s a bit of one). I figure I can wait two years for a collected edition!

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