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What I bought – 30 May 2012

People often die in the night, devoured by their own nightmares. (Greg Bear, from “Petra”)

The end of many eras! I don't know why he looks depressed - I would love to watch movies in an empty theater! None more black Is it morally reprehensible to buy a comic with a cover by Darwyn Cooke? That awful logo almost ruins this cover I doubt if he was the only one Oh, the rage!

As you can see, it’s a small week – fifth week and all that. It’s also one of the few weeks of the year when both kids aren’t in school, so while the younger one is at her summer school, the older one is taking the week off. This doesn’t mean much, as she’s usually watching television (I know that kids shouldn’t watch so much television, but as she can’t do much else, I hope you’ll forgive me for that), but it does mean I have to pay more attention to her. It doesn’t help that all three of the comics I actually bought this week were, unfortunately, mediocre. Yeah, I’m not excited about comics this week. Sorry.

I’ll still try to make this fun, though. We’ll see. I’m just warning you: the comics? Not so great.

Elephantmen #39 (“The Killing Season Part Four of Four”) by Richard Starkings (writer/letterer) and Axel Medellin (artist/colorist). $3.99, 41 pgs, FC, Image.

Of course, then the first one we come to is Elephantmen, which is excellent. When I saw Richard Starkings at the Phoenix convention last weekend, he gave this to me but also said it would be the last one I get for free. Is he angry at me? Well, no. But he is very busy and can’t really send stuff out very often, so he told me I’d be better off buying the issues. Now, as I have often said that Elephantmen is a comic I would buy if I weren’t getting it for free, I have no problem with that. I mean, it’s one of the best comics being published right now, so I’d be foolish to stop reading it just because I didn’t get it gratis anymore, right?

This is the end of the story arc, which doesn’t mean too much in the Elephantmen universe, as there’s still a murderer wandering around and Obadiah learns more about how the hybrids are controlled and thinks about neutralizing it. The main plot, however, of the murderer wearing the skull, comes to an end, and with it, several characters are changed greatly, either through death or injury. I’d say the great thing about this comic is that when people die, they stay dead, but Starkings has already brought someone back from the dead, so it’s not that, but the fates of those involved in this arc seem more final, and I doubt if they’re coming back. This has been a harrowing journey for the main characters, and now that it’s over, they do need to deal with some issues that were raised in this arc. Starkings has always written this series on a slow burn, and it’s always nice to see things come back around and show up again. He also allows the characters to feel some hope, but we know that’s not going to last. Finally, there’s always the social implications of the hybrids’ presence among the humans and how they can assimilate, which seems like it’s going to take on more significance going forward.

Medellin’s art is phenomenal, as he continues to improve every issue. He has a lot to draw, because there’s a ton of action in this issue, plus some horrible scenes of emotional trauma, but he nails them. The colors in the book (I assume Medellin colored it, because no one else is credited) are superb, ranging from angry red in the more violent scenes to the wonderful blues and greens in Obadiah’s wildlife park that makes the blood pop even more. It’s a gorgeous book, which makes the tense drama of the story more visceral.

Elephantmen continues to be a brilliant comic book, and I’ll keep saying that even when I’m paying for it! Well, unless it starts to suck. I doubt that it will, though!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

You don't want to piss Vanity off!

The Li’l Depressed Boy #12 (“Three Sketches of a Workplace Crush”) by S. Steven Struble (writer/colorist/letterer) and Sina Grace (artist). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

LDB does his job. Yes, that’s it. Okay, the cute red-headed theater manager desperately tries to flirt with him, and he spectacularly fails to notice, until finally, in the last panel, she pretty much decides she’s going to have to kidnap him so she can get some ragdoll-lovin’, but basically, LDB does his job. Sigh. I did like this comic once. Next issue is the last chance for it, because that’s the last issue I pre-ordered. After that … who knows?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

You should hope to never hear those words

Next Men #43 (“Shards”) by John Byrne (writer/artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Neil Uyetake (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

At this point, I’m really buying this because I cling to the hope that Byrne will crawl out of his own bunghole long enough to pull it all together. I have no clue what’s going on, honestly. There’s a New York in the middle of the desert, a superhero who can change gender, time shifts, people disappearing, someone using the word “negress” (seriously – see below!), people meeting alternate versions of themselves – you know, when I read the giant Next Men phone books that IDW put out, everything seemed to fit together fairly well, if you ignored the fact that it was all impossible, and that’s why I’m sticking with this. Maybe, just maybe Byrne can get it together for a few more issues, and then I can appreciate this entire thing as his last great epic. Or maybe he’ll just keeping piling crap on top of crap until no one can find their way out. Can you imagine that? Everyone crawling through tunnels made of crap, lighting their old copies of Alpha Flight on fire to use as torches, saying “I think I see a way out!” only to be confronted by a madly-chuckling Byrne, wagging his finger and shaking his head at them and saying “Not this way, motherfuckers!” That’s kind of what it feels like to read a single issue of Next Men: Aftermath. The crap keeps piling up. Will there be a way out? I’m kind of perversely fascinated to find out.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Why, yes, yes it is

Rocketeer Adventures 2 #3 (of 4). “Coulda Been …” by David Lapham (writer), Chris Sprouse (artist), and Jordie Bellaire (colorist); “Butchy Saves Betty” by Kyle Baker (writer/artist/letterer); “History Lesson” by Matt Wagner (writer), Eric Canete (artist/colorist), Cassandra Poulson (colorist), and Shawn Lee (letterer). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, IDW.

These comics have gotten some very good talent on them, and this issue is no exception. Unfortunately, that talent doesn’t really bring their “A” game, as the stories in this issue are probably the worst of the Rocketeer stories in these two mini-series so far. Sprouse’s art in the first story is lovely, but Lapham’s listless tale of Cliff and Betty imagining domestic bliss is so bland I wonder how the man who wrote Stray Bullets and Young Liars could even get the script out. It’s boring, stereotypical, and insulting to not only women but men. Plus, I’m a bit tired of Cliff’s anger management problems, or more specifically, I’m tired of nobody calling him out for his anger management problems. Baker’s story is the tiniest bit amusing, even though I don’t get exactly what’s going on. The cameo by the Shadow is a clever touch, but implying that Betty is having an orgasm is just … weird. Baker does it in his “Deadpool MAX” art style, which I really don’t like, but it looks a little better here than it did there. Baker stopped by here not long ago to explain that Marvel wanted him to draw in that style, but I don’t know why he did it here. I wish he wouldn’t. Finally, Wagner gives us a dull story about how the Rocketeer became some kind of messiah to the future. Canete draws the entire thing in splash pages, which is nice, but the story is a non-starter.

Sigh. It’s rare for an anthology to be all home runs, but so far, Rocketeer Adventures has been far more hit than miss. This is pretty much three strikes, with Baker’s maybe a foul ball. Still, nothing to see here. Just move on.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, Cliff - it never is

Batman: Death by Design by Chip Kidd (writer), Dave Taylor (artist), and John J. Hill (letterer). $24.99, 104 pgs, FC, DC.

I thought about pre-ordering this, but decided to wait for the softcover. Considering DC still hasn’t released a softcover of Superman: Earth One, I’m not holding my breath. Anyway, my retailer had a copy, and I looked at it, and it’s freakin’ gorgeous. I don’t know what Dave Taylor – who’s always been a competent but unspectacular artist – has been drinking, but this art is really good. I hope the story is cool, too!

Brian Boru: Ireland’s Warrior King by Damien Goodfellow (writer/artist). $24.50, 91 pgs, FC, The O’Brien Press Ltd.

I don’t have much to say about this. It looks cool. This is also the first time I’ve ever had to type “.ie” at the end of a web address, so that’s kind of neat.

Uncanny X-Force volume 3: The Dark Angel Saga Book 1 by Rick Remender (writer), Billy Tan (artist), Rich Elson (artist), Mark Brooks (artist), Scot Eaton (penciler), Andrew Currie (inker), Andrew Hennessy (inker), Dean White (colorist), Paul Mounts (colorist), Richard Isanove (color assists), Sonia Oback (color assists), Cory Petit (letterer), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $19.99, 134 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Oh, Marvel, with your four pencilers, two separate inkers (Brooks gets credit for inks, but Tan and Elson don’t), two colorists and two color assistants, and two letterers. For SIX FUCKING ISSUES! How’s that overshipping working out for you? Good, I guess, because they keep doing it, but man, even the colorists on this book can’t keep the look consistent. Disappointing. The second part of this is offered in trade in this month’s Previews. I have to think about whether I actually want it. That’s too bad, because that first arc was so danged good.

**********

I don’t mean to keep bringing up Before Watchmen, but JMS has decided to “speak” again (and by “speak,” I mean tweet), so it’s on my mind. I imagine many of you have read this article, which trashes superhero comics, and in which the author goes out of his way to pick on Straczynski’s work on He-Man almost 30 years ago. JMS responded, and everyone was reminded why the Internet is, essentially, the Wild West. Anyway, somewhere out there in Internet-land, someone said that JMS’ involvement in BW will make them never read anything by JMS again. That makes me wonder about the other creators involved in Before Watchmen, and it gets back to moral/ethical stands. For me, it would be easy to say I’m never going to buy anything that JMS writes ever again, because I haven’t liked anything he’s written since Supreme Power was a MAX book. But what about the other creators? Are you going to boycott Darwyn Cooke? Amanda Conner? Brian Azzarello? All the others? And, as I mentioned last time I brought this up, where does it end? If you’re mad at Marvel for not giving enough credit to Kirby in their movies, should you be mad at Bendis for working for Marvel? If DC is screwing their creators over, should you get mad at anyone who has to audacity to work for DC? I don’t know. I found the person who was swearing off JMS’ work humorous because I wonder if they were making that stand for all the creators or just the ones they didn’t like. Anyway, Before Watchmen drops next week. Are you going to buy the issues?

In our little corner of the world, news is newsing right along. Perhaps you’ve read about Paige Sultzbach, who plays second base for the Mesa Preparatory Academy baseball team. The team recently won the state championship because their opponent forfeited rather than face a team with a girl on it. The team was from Our Lady of Sorrows, a fundamentalist Catholic school (man, talk about hardcore!) that, according to the principal, teaches respect and deference toward women, and they felt that in the heat of competition, those values might be compromised. I have to call bullshit on this one. Don’t they teach their students sportsmanship as well? So why can’t they respect the young lady while still competing? It smells like the school doesn’t think girls should play a “boys’ sport,” so they forfeited. What I never understood is, in a non-contact sport like baseball, why there’s separation of boys and girls. I see fathers teaching girls to throw big softballs underhand, and I wonder why they don’t teach them to throw small baseballs overhand. It’s weird. Anyway, in case you think we’re living in the 21st century, a school like Our Lady of Sorrows (I bet their proms are bummers!) comes along and reminds us that many people are still living in the 13th. (Grantland has an interesting story about it, in case you’re interested.)

I don’t really have anything else “in the news,” so to speak, so let’s get to this week’s Top Ten list. In honor of the latest series of Sherlock (which I just started watching last night and have only seen the first episode so don’t spoil it for me, please!), here are my favorite fictional detectives!

1. Jupiter Jones of the Three Investigators. I like the Three Investigators more than the Hardy Boys. I don’t know why – maybe it’s because they felt more contemporary than the Hardys (even though I did enjoy the Hardy Boys, don’t get me wrong; but the first Three Investigators book came out in 1964, while the first Hardy Boys came out in 1927) and their adventures felt a bit more dangerous. The Hardys seemed to deal with mysteries that were often about smugglers and bank robbers, while the Three Investigators dealt with some real sadists. Jupiter was the brains of the outfit, while Bob Andrews and Pete Crenshaw were often along for the ride and to provide some muscle, such as it was. I liked Jupiter because he was portly, unathletic, and kind of surly – he was likable, but not a typical hero. The mysteries were complex but not too difficult, and the setting – modern Los Angeles – made this series feel like “adult” books while still being appropriate for kids. I still have some of the books at my parents’ house, and I should try to get a complete set. They’re fun books to read.

2. Sherlock Holmes. I was not into Holmes for many years, even though I had read many of the stories. Then I got the annotated version that came out a few years ago, and I devoured it. Man, I loved reading those stories. When you get a lot of the context to them, they become far more interesting. Conan Doyle wasn’t the greatest writer of mysteries, as the annotations show, and Holmes often gets stuff wrong, but the personality Conan Doyle gave him is so neat that we can’t help but be fascinated by him. He’s a jerk, but a riveting jerk. And the stories, even the ones that don’t make much sense, are interesting and often very exciting. I’ve warmed up to the Holmes pastiches, too, even though I still like the originals more.

3. Thomas Magnum. My mom used to watch Magnum, P. I. every week, and I, being a young lad who couldn’t go out wilding, would watch with her. The great thing about Magnum was that he never seemed like that good an investigator, but when he needed to be, he was. His cases were quirky and strange, he very often took cases for which he knew there would be no payment, yet he didn’t care, because he somehow got a job that allowed him to live in a mansion and drive a Ferrari. That always bugged me – did Robin actually pay him, or was the house and the car payment? Robin’s rich, so it seems like he would get a good salary on top of the living arrangements, yet Magnum was always poor. Anyway, what made the show work were the relationships between the four leads, but also the unusual ways Magnum would get involved in the episode’s plot. It wasn’t always just someone coming to him with a problem. Also, the show had some great guest stars – Ian McShane, June Lockhart, Ted Danson, Erin Gray, Morgan Fairchild, Ernest Borgnine, Shannen Doherty, Carol Burnett, Sharon Stone (in a stunning dual role!), Cesar Romero, Norman Fell, and Frank Sinatra, just to name a few. Plus, they actually did crossovers with Simon & Simon and Murder, She Wrote, which were kind of nifty.

4. Hercule Poirot. I have been an Agatha Christie fan for years, but really only of Hercule Poirot novels (the lone exception is And Then There Were None) – I just can’t get into Miss Marple books. My favorite Poirot book is Murder on the Orient Express (I like the movie, too), but I don’t think I’ve ever not enjoyed one. I always loved his characterization – he’s a fussy little man, who is so off-putting to the suspects in the murders, who always underestimate him. He’s also, if possible, ruder to Arthur Hastings than Holmes was to Watson, even though there’s also affection between both sets of men. Like Holmes, he can be rather annoying, but in a different way than Holmes. His final case, Curtain, is a brilliant book, fascinating and chilling all at once. And Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov played him excellently in the movies, too.

5. Jennifer Mays and Gabriel Webb of the Maze Agency. Read more about this series here!

6. Dirk Gently. Douglas Adams is, naturally, better known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its spawn of sequels, but the two books he wrote starring Dirk Gently are better, and I wish he had managed to write a few more before his death. Dirk is a “holistic” detective, meaning he examines every aspect of the case and/or the people involved to reach a conclusion, which means he often goes “fact-finding” in the Bahamas on his clients’ pound, because you never know what crucial piece of information will turn up on the beach! The two books starring Dirk, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, involve ghosts, time travel, aliens, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thor and the Norse gods, an I Ching calculator, and the selling of souls. Both are wildly convoluted yet amazingly fun to decipher, and I, at least, still haven’t figured everything out, even though I’ve read them multiple times. I would recommend them over the Hitchhiker books (even though I really dig those, two), and I’m recommending them now!

7. Remington Steele. I haven’t seen a lot of this television show, but it’s another one my mother always liked, and I dig the concept. Stephanie Zimbalist isn’t getting clients because no one takes a female detective seriously, so she invents one – Remington Steele – and claims he’s her boss. So, of course, Pierce Brosnan shows up and convinces everyone he’s Remington Steele. Whenever I watched the show, I liked it, because it has nice sexual tension between the two leads and some deeper-than-you-might-think sexual politics, too. Doris Roberts as the secretary is quite funny, far more than her annoying mother role on Everybody Loves Raymond. I should get this series on DVD. It would be fun to watch more episodes, as I missed quite many of them.

8. Jessica Jones. My post about Alias still has the formatting problems, but you can still read it!

9. Sam Spade. I’ve only seen the Bogart movie of The Maltese Falcon, but I love everything about his Spade – he’s kind of a jerk, tough with the bad guys and ladies, ready to hop into bed with the dame, but never falling for her and therefore able to keep his wits about him. He’s only slightly less morally bankrupt than everyone else, which is why he wins out in the end – remember, this was 1941, so a villain couldn’t win! This is a wonderful movie to watch again and again, and it would be fun to see it back to back with Murder by Death, in which Peter Falk parodies Bogart’s Spade.

10. Daryl Zero. The Zero Effect, from 1998, is a wonderful movie, with Bill Pullman starring as the world’s most brilliant and reclusive detective and Ben Stiller (when he was still a decent actor) as his Dr. Watson. Pullman is completely socially inept, so when he falls in love (with a very good Kim Dickens), it’s funny but a bit like watching a train wreck. Plus, the mystery is interesting. And it was filmed largely in Portland, which is an added bonus. It’s a shame this movie didn’t get more love when it came out, because it really is excellent. Go watch it right now!

I know I’ve missed a lot of fictional detectives, including a certain dude who wears a cape and a bat-eared cowl, but that’s the way it is, man! Hit me with yours!

I hope everyone has a nice day and a good weekend. Maybe I’ll like next week’s comics more than this week’s! It’s always a mystery!

30 Comments

Zero Effect is one of my fav’ misunderstood movies ever. Mismatched love affair between to genuinely hurt/broken people (think Punch Drunk Love but more quiet/less boiling).
In the end, it can’t work out, but does make them better for it.

Watchmen was not work-for-hire and the prequels are being done while the original writer (Alan Moore) voices objections. Not later, while the writer is saying he does not want them done. Why do people keep trying to equate that with Kirby or Siegel?

There was a rather good BBC series of Dirk Gently in 2010/11. Unfortunately it was canceled after just four hour-long episodes due to cuts in the BBC Four budget, but it’s a little gem that’s well worth looking up.

Yeah, I just finished watching Sherlock Season 2. It was evenbetter than seaon 1, which was also great. I wonder if you’ve ever checked out Laurie King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books. Being that I take my Sherlock any way i can get him, I’m fairly open minded and have enjoyed her books. BTW – It was my love of Sherlock Holmes that first got me interested in Comics. That’s a story for another day.

I’m not nearly as upset about Before Watchmen to threaten to boycott anybody’s future works (JMS’ being boycotted for reasons totally different…those reasons are generally sucking as of late). I will be avoiding any BFW books though, not because of moral outrage or whatever, but because I’m just not the slightest bit interested. I’m certainly aware of the ethical issues and side with more in that respect. But point blank none of it actually sounds the least bit interesting to me. Everything I need to know about this world and it’s characters was provided by Moore/Gibbsons decades ago. I look forward to seeing what the talented creators working on these books have in the future but these particular works? Meh, I’m good. Too many books coming out that I’m psyched about to even consider opening a single one of them.

I know you say that you enjoyed the Doris Roberts “Remington Steele” episodes, but as someone who watched the series when it began in 1982, IMO, the first season episodes are the only ones’ worth watching. There was some great sexual tension in season one with supporting characters Murphy and Miss Foxe. When they replaced both of those characters with Mildred, I quickly lost interest.

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm

The Zero Effect was an excellent film deserving far far more acclaim than it did.
My regret is that Stiller and Pullman did not do another sequel, or a prequel.

Have you ever seen any of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Granada series)? Sherlock played by Jeremy Brett was considered the definitive S.H. I believe that most of Sir Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories were adapted in this series.

As usually happens when someone posts a list, I feel the absence of one of my favourites. In this case, I was sad to see no Philip Marlowe. He’s probably actually my Number One. Also, it probably doesn’t count but I adore The Savage Detectives :)

The second part of The Dark Angel Saga is better in both art and story. I’d say stick it out, but it’s your money.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Or maybe he’ll just keeping piling crap on top of crap until no one can find their way out. Can you imagine that? Everyone crawling through tunnels made of crap, lighting their old copies of Alpha Flight on fire to use as torches, saying “I think I see a way out!” only to be confronted by a madly-chuckling Byrne, wagging his finger and shaking his head at them and saying “Not this way, motherfuckers!” That’s kind of what it feels like to read a single issue of Next Men: Aftermath. The crap keeps piling up. Will there be a way out? I’m kind of perversely fascinated to find out.

That was awesome.

Lapham’s listless tale of Cliff and Betty imagining domestic bliss is so bland I wonder how the man who wrote Stray Bullets and Young Liars could even get the script out

Lapham has one of the biggest quality swings between books of any writer at the moment. Some books are so very good, and others feel like a high-schoolers first draft.

How’s that overshipping working out for you? Good, I guess, because they keep doing it, but man, even the colorists on this book can’t keep the look consistent. Disappointing.

C’mon man, comics are a visual medium so people don’t really care who draws it, just that the writing is consistent. Oh, hang on….

JMS responded, and everyone was reminded why the Internet is, essentially, the Wild West.

The articles author said in a tweet to someone else that he purposefully put down JMS because he doesn’t like what JMS has been saying about Alan Moore.
Given that JMS is a dick, and he really managed to remove all class and wit from that bastardized Churchill quote, I’m glad the guy so clearly got under his skin.
I particularly like JMS trying to absolve himself of all responsibility from a book where he is credited as the writer. I don’t think he understands personal responsibility.

I know I’ve missed a lot of fictional detectives, including a certain dude who wears a cape and a bat-eared cowl, but that’s the way it is, man! Hit me with yours!

Y’know, I don’t really have one. I’d have liked Adams to write more Gently, so I guess I’ll go with him as my fave.
Closely followed by Detective Chimp.

I never really buy into Batman as the worlds greatest detective. I wanna see Batman swinging around, punching baddies in the face, not hunting for clues.

DonW: No, I haven’t read those. But I always appreciate hearing about new stuff!

Richard: I have a vague memory of the first season, and I think you’re probably right, but I did like Roberts on the show. I really do have to get the show on DVD.

Tom: I’ve always heard good things about Brett’s portrayal of Holmes, but I’ve never seen them. This is why I need to be independently wealthy – so I can consume more popular culture!

Seth: I’ve read The Big Sleep, but it was so convoluted that I’m still not sure what was going on. I don’t have much experience with Marlowe beyond that, not even the Eliott Gould version.

jjc: Good to know. I haven’t read the first part yet, but maybe it will inspire me to get the second part!

FGJ: I really like it when Batman is more of a detective. Not enough writers make him one, though.

You want the second DAS trade. Five issues of Opena-White goodness.

Hmmm, heavy stuff.

Creator’s rights is such a difficult issue. Of course, in a world where no decisions had mitigating factors, we would all want talented people to be treated with respect and become prosperous in due proportion to their talents. But as Greg said, this isn’t just about Before Watchmen, or just about JMS. It’s like a breach in the hull of an airplane; one tiny hole can eventually suck everything out. It’s great, in principle, to not support parties and institutions that have screwed over their workforce… but what does that leave us to support? Marvel and DC have a long history of making decisions that yield low benefit to their creators and high benefit to their bottom line. But it’s also worth asking where those creators might be had Marvel and/or DC never given them jobs in the first place. Should Jack Kirby have a larger estate and a more significant place in history? I think we can all agree on “yes.” But Jack Kirby also became immortal working for Marvel, and it’s difficult to imagine another platform for him to have attained the stature that he did. Another major issue is that one of the fundamental reasons people maintain such love for the best Marvel and DC characters is because of their ability to interact with one another in a shared universe. If Kirby had maintained control of, say, Captain America, and used him in his own stories outside of the Marvel U, would the character be worth as much, literally and figuratively? I would argue no.

Watchmen is, of course, slightly different, because it is (to use the term of another commenter) “a hermetically sealed work.” The love people have for Watchmen is not dependent upon Nite Owl having been in the Justice League. But choosing to not support Before Watchmen on the grounds that Moore was screwed by DC is a slippery slope, because it’s difficult to find many creators that have been around long enough who haven’t been screwed by Marvel or DC. And as Greg said, it might be easy to say you’ll never buy another JMS comic (as there are plenty of JMS haters out there), but is it so easy to say the same about Cooke or Joe Kubert? I suspect not. And lest we forget, Len Wein, who is partially responsible for the existence of Before Watchmen, is one of the “most screwed” creators out there. He created Wolverine and the New X-Men, two achievements for which his bank account likely doesn’t overly reflect.

The bottom line is that it’s easy to cry foul in these individual cases and take a side. But the cases are not individual. They are legion, and they have been occurring for as long as the comic industry has existed. Choosing to only support one is ignoring the larger issue, and choosing to support all of them doesn’t leave many comics to read.

My father is an art historian, and one of his favorite allegories to dilemmas like this one is to talk about stolen art. Most of the frieze of the Parthenon is on display in the British Museum in London, and Greece wants the sculptures back. It seems like a cut and dry case: of course England should give the parthenon sculptures back to Greece, as they are a major artifact of Greek cultural history (and have nothing to do with England). But where does that end? A vast majority of great art in the world was stolen from somewhere else in this war or that… should it all be given back? Should America be given back to the Native Americans? Australia to the Aborigines? Understanding history isn’t about trying to correct the past, it’s about not repeating it.

Of course, maybe that’s how people feel about Before Watchmen. Maybe people feel that Kirby’s case can’t be helped, but it’s not too late for DC to realize they’ve wronged Moore. I don’t know. I merely try to support quality. I intend to buy the first issues of Before Watchmen and go from there. If it’s good, I’ll keep buying. But the bar is set damn high, and if they disappoint me, I won’t hesitate to drop them.

My beef with the big two right now is that they seem to discourage casual reading/collecting. They expect their readers to be all-in, which is a terrible business model. Of course Marvel hopes that someone reading one of their comics will buy another, but that should happen organically through quality, not via an obligation of continuity. How many Marvel titles at the moment could someone legitimately be reading by themselves? I’m only getting 3 (Wolverine & the X-Men, Daredevil, and Defenders), and even those are a bit trying to read alone and fully understand. During the Shooter era, you could likely read 30 issues in a row of any title and not feel lost as long as you had a cursory understanding of what happened during Secret Wars. Can the same be said of any Marvel titles right now? If anything’s killing the industry, it’s that. Just like was pointed out in the article Greg linked to, how many kids that loved The Avengers on the big screen will be able to pick up an Avengers comic right now and have a fucking clue as to what’s happening in it?

I at least think DC has kind of learned their lesson in this regard (though perhaps it’s too early to tell, as maybe Crisis: DCnU is just around the corner). All of the New 52 titles I’m reading (Flash, Wonder Woman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Action, Frankenstein, JL: Dark, Batman, Batgirl, Batman & Robin, Justice League) are more or less self-contained.

Wow, I’ve gone on a bit, haven’t I? So it goes.

Greg, I’m looking forward to your review of that Batman graphic novel. I also think it looks stunning, but I’m curious if there’s a story there.

Thanks so much for the comments on Elephantmen 39! And yes, yours truly handles the colors. As side information, issues 40 and 41 are by guest artists (Tony Parker’s 40 has to be seen to be believed), and I’m back at the drawing table for 42…

The Three Investigators were cooler than the Hardys not just because they were more contemporary, but because they were infinitely better designed, better plotted, and better written. The first two, The Secret of Terror Castle and The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot, in particular, are just plain great mystery novels, period.

Sam Spade and Mike Hammer are probably my favorites of the hard-boiled private-eye crowd, and we have all four seasons of REMINGTON STEELE here, as well. Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe is probably my favorite of the eccentric-genius school of mystery fiction….. I’ve been a working magazine writer of one sort or another for about twenty years, fiction, nonfiction, all kinds of stuff, some that paid well and some not so much, but I think my proudest publication credit of all time is one that paid almost nothing; when the Wolfe Pack printed a pastiche of mine in their quarterly magazine, The Gazette. Fanboy dream achievement. Yeah, I’m a huge nerd.

The Secret of the Vanishing Treasure was one of the first books I ever read. To this day I’m a sucker for any kind of mystery set in California coastal towns. In fact between the 3 Investigators, Spade, Marlowe and Harry Bosch, California is the perfect state of mystery.

I would never boycott the future work of artists for working on Before Watchmen. But, at the same time, I won’t buy Before Watchmen. Not because I’m boycotting the series (though I suppose I am) but because I have no desire to see one of the best attempts in comics to be a proper novel to become… a series of summer event comics. I have no issue with Darwyn Cooke doing it, because I’m sure DC came to his house with a dump truck full of money. I just won’t be reading what he did and instead will find his next Parker adaptation my summer event comic. JMS is an idiot who doesn’t seem to want to comprehend the terms of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ deal with DC. I won’t be buying his work because I haven’t liked it ever.

Remington Steele has a brilliant first season, which were concentrated on actual mysteries. The subsequent seasons are more in the vein of Hollywood TV series about Detectives with shooting and explosions and sexual tension and whatnot and don’t have the satisfying mysteries that I liked in the first season. But your mileage may vary.

Third Man: That’s what we’re here for, so people can go on! You make some very excellent points, more eloquently than I could. I particularly like your point about not going back and correcting things, but learning as we move forward. I think that’s probably where DC and Marvel continue to screw up – they can’t recognize that they’re still doing some of the idiotic things they’ve done in the past!

Axel: No problem, sir. I haven’t seen Parker’s pages yet, but I know he’s been getting better and better, so I’m looking forward to his issues, as well.

Greg: I agree, but whenever people talk about detectives for kids, they talk about the Hardy Boys. The Three Investigators need more love!

@Third Man

Excellent point. DC, since the New 52, has not relied on endless crossovers and tie-ins. I hope this continues

Thanks for the return of the alt text!

I’ve read every issue of Aftermath as well and have no clue what is going on most of the time. That normally makes me feel like I must be dumb but go to John Byrne’s board and the majority don’t know what is happening either.

There is only 1 issue left and then it’s done.

I’m actually super curious about that “Dark Angel Saga” book 1. I have the first arc (the Apocalypse whatever) in individual issues, and I decided I would start to buy the rest in trades, but my local shop only has “Dark Angel” book 2. My brother and some of the guys at the shop said to just buy it, since the stuff in-between wasn’t that important, but I’m not sure.

One of their arguments was “All you’re missing is them picking up Dethlok”, which is a statement I don’t really understand. Dethlok is awesome!

TJ: I’ll have a review of the Dark Angel Saga book 1 up later this afternoon (or evening, depending on where you are). The second trade is where they pick up Deathlok, and it’s much better than the DAS Bk. 1. The quality of the book has declined quite a bit since the first trade, but I do hope Book 2 will be better.

I read every one of those Three Investigators books. (and poor Bob Andrews, relegated to “Records & Research”!)

Magnum is a great tv detective. The voice-overs are especially brilliant. The show itself can be surprisingly dark for what is commonly remembered as a more goofy/unrealistic show with all of the Vietnam resonances. Watch “Did You See the Sun Rise” from season 3 (especially the last scene) and tell me Magnum, PI was nothing but a fun romp through the Hawaiian Islands.

Tess Monaghan (from Laura Lippman), VI Warshawski (Sara Paretsky), and Spenser (Robert B. Parker) are three of my favorite modern detectives, in part because the authors make their hometowns such integral parts of the stories (Baltimore, Chicago, and Boston respectively). Spenser’s had the best screen history (Robert Urich was great in the role) but all three are engrossing and fun.

Travis Pelkie

May 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Not much to say this week either, just that in re the BW/ethical considerations stuff, I’ve found it quite amusing that here at the blog, I’ll get that big DC New 52 ad…

…and an ad for Chris Roberson’s new book right below it.

It makes me giggle, and I need that some times. Like the past few weeks. Oy.

No mention of my favorite literary detective, Marcus Didius Falco. I highly recommend the whole series of Falco books (hard to believe there are 20 of them!) by Lindsey Davis. Set in the ancient Rome of emperor Vespasian, each book explores the street-level crimes and obsessions of a very alive and metropolitan Rome, the original Big City. Don’t expect Liz Taylor and a bunch of overblown palace intrigues here; Falco is of the poorest classes and the crappiest neighborhoods, giving us a distinctly worms-eye view of the Eternal City and the many far-flung locales throughout the empire. We also get a good look at how different people made a living back then, from commercial laundries to barkeeps, prostitutes, priestesses, jewelers, wild animal procurers and Jove knows what else! Above all, the books are very funny, due to Falco’s narration and dry observations of the people and situations around him.

The first book is called “The Silver Pigs” (the first several books all have some type of metal in the titles, until Davis gave up on that notion around book 6), but the first one I read was “Poseidon’s Gold” and I’d recommend that as a good starting point because he’s back in the City after a few books’ worth of traveling and the series is up to speed by then. BBC Radio has adapted a few of the books with mixed results.

Go read them!

Also, a local pal of mine, Will “the Thrill” Viharo is an excellent detective novel writer and one of his first books, “Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me” has just been picked up as a movie adaptation by his big fan Christian Slater! Slater is flying Viharo out first class to Florida this week to discuss adaptation and shifting the locale of the story to Florida. Go Will! Hopefully he will survive the current flesh-eating zombie craze out there long enough to get the job done, or at least to deposit the check!

Greg, have you seen the David Suchet Poirot? Like the Hickson Miss Marple it’s considered to be the best version

Philip: I’ve seen … one? I know I’ve seen him play Poirot, but I can’t remember which mystery it was!

l thoroughly recommend the BURkE series by Andrew Vachss. Burke is by far my go-to for hard bo¡led mystery.

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