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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 20 June 2012

For them it might stave off what he could not help but see with clarity: that the world was silent and cold and bare and that in this lay its terrible beauty. (David Guterson, from Snow Falling on Cedars)

Poor little Sentinel! I like how she's going to fight all those bad guys with that little weapon More freaky than you are! Sure, let's go around again! You'd think that ghosts would be beyond modesty BLAMMO!!!! Yet another exhibit of why dolls are freaky This would be a lot cooler if it weren't so dark Man, Bisley is good at these! That is a REALLY shiny knife My retailer squirreled away a lot of the best ones, but I do dig this card! I really expect more from Francavilla Talk about phoning it in! He's a cool assassin because he smokes weed! My mind is full of stuff like that all the time! I love the scarf! Get it??? It's all mod and shit! It's olde-tyme Lemire! Admit it: you totally thought this dude was naked! Tardi FTW! Now, where's my Blueberry omnibus for a side-by-side comparison?!? Steampunk?  Really?

As you can see, it was a HUGE week, and happily, most of the comics I bought were not only good but GREAT, so I’m going to curse a lot in this post to express HOW MOTHERFUCKING AWESOME COMICS ARE! So, in honor of Dave’s Long Box, from where I stole the use of “Airwolf” as an adjective, today we’ll be counting FUCK YEAH! moments in this week’s comics. Obviously, my FUCK YEAH! moments might be different from yours, but either way, there are a lot of them. Let’s go!

Avengers Academy #32 (“What the Heart Wants Part 1″) by Christos Gage (writer), Timothy Green II (penciler), Jeff Huet (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I’m sure I’m far beneath Christos Gage’s notice, but I like to think the first few pages of this comic, in which Gage addresses why Juston can’t stop his Sentinel from being a mutant-killing machine, were directed at me. I think Gage should have had Juston look directly at the reader and explain it, and then have a word balloon in which Juston says, “Are you happy now, Greg? Fine. Fuck off” while Laura looks on perplexed. Why, yes, Mr. Gage, I am happy. Thank you very much for explaining.

And then Emma Frost the Phoenix shows up. Dear Sweet Jeebus, tell me someone with a brain and eyes didn’t design that costume (I have my own thoughts about who designed it; see below). Anyway, Emma Phoenix is busy destroying all Sentinels, and she decides to destroy Juston’s. Juston, of course, doesn’t think this is too swell, and eventually everyone else comes over to his side. And so the stage is set for a big Kid Avengers versus Phoenix Frost next issue! Fuck yeah!

So is that really what AvX is about? The Phoenix Five (singing all their hits like “Don’t Shoot Me in the Back With Your Laser of Love” and “Being All-Powerful Means Losing All Fashion Sense”) are “fixing” the world by destroying anything that might be used for warfare? Someone in the Marvel House of Architects came up with that and everyone at the giant, round table (it’s supported by a bunch of Marvel artists, don’t you know, which is why none of them can draw two books in a row – they’re too busy bearing the crushing weight of a large oak slab and hoping Bendis or Fraction or Hickman or Aaron drops a Graham cracker or an Oreo) said, “Fuck yeah!” Well, I’m sorry, Architects, but you misunderstand the idea of Fuck Yeah! Gage gets it – who didn’t say “Fuck yeah!” when Laura sacked up and slashed (bloodlessly, weirdly enough) at Emma Phoenix? Damn straight, X-23! You protect that puppy! Meanwhile, if that’s the direction AvX has taken, I suggest the Architects (Bendis wanted to call them the Marvel Illuminati, but even they thought that was a bit too weird) read … oh, I don’t know, any comic in which a group of superpowered beings try to stop war by force. See how that works out.

Anyway, Green is a good artist, but as usual with this comic, he has a tough time with the teenaged girls, as they look a bit too … enhanced, I guess, for their ages. I mean, they’re supposed to be teenagers, right, or at least 20 or 21? Look at that page where White Tiger is talking to X-23 and tell me you’re not just a tad creeped out by Ava’s breasts. Go ahead, tell me! You’d be a liar, man! Green does a nice job overall – when his characters get angry, they seem to have too many teeth, but that’s okay – and he does a particularly good job with Laura, but man, those boobs!

Gage continues to work around the idiotic event with some good stories, and this is another one. Good job, Mr. Gage!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 6

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? Unfortunately, no. Unless you want to count the Sentinel. Or Phoenix Frost. I don’t think we can, though.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

True story: Marvel asked readers to submit their designs for Emma's Phoenix costume, and our very own Kelly Thompson drew this, which turned out to be the winner! Yay, Kelly!

Batwoman #10 (“To Drown the World Part Five”) by J. H. Williams III (writer), W. Haden Blackman (writer), Trevor McCarthy (artist), Guy Major (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

As I figured it would be, this has turned into a bit of a mess, not because it’s not good, but because Williams and Blackman are trying to keep six story threads going, and it’s hard to do. I’m sure they have it all up on a board somewhere, laid out so it all makes sense, but after five issues of it, it’s kind of hard to keep up. I mean, the “main” one – Batwoman’s – moves toward a resolution, as we get to see a brutal stabbing and an even more bizarre transformation (McCarthy nails that panel, even though it’s gruesome), giving us a revelation about a character, but the story of Kate’s dad sitting by Bette’s hospital bed remains just that – he’s just sitting there whining, and it’s kind of annoying. Wait, you loved one of your daughters more than the other? Get over it, dude. Croc’s transformation from humanoid crocodile to mutated crocodile monster thing is pretty neat, although I’m not a huge fan of making Croc some kind of crocodile avatar – Jeebus, don’t we have enough of that in DC comics, what with the Animal Man and Swamp Thing crap? Can’t Croc just be a weird-ass mutation like he always was? I imagine Williams and Blackman will pull it together in the next issue, and then it will crystallize beautifully into a wonderful whole. Or not. We’ll see!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 3, but they’re almost cancelled out by the two pages of Jacob whining.

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? 1, because I’m counting Croc, and he’s pretty awesome.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Ewww

Casanova: Avaritia #4 (of 4) (“Relaxed in Person”) by Matt Fraction (writer), Gabriel Bá (artist), Cris Peter (colorist), and Dustin K. Harbin (letterer). $4.99, 36 pgs, FC, Marvel/Icon.

Casanova is apparently on a bimonthly schedule these days (I think?), which, with a book as dense as this, is going to make it hard to review single issues, because honestly, I don’t remember much of what happened in issue #3. I mean, I have a vague idea – Kaito is pissed at Casanova and Cornelius, so he’s killing a lot of people, for instance – but not the specifics. So I just sit back and let the comic wash over me, which is a fine way to read it, if you ask me. I appreciate the little things, like the cameo by Charles Dickens (seriously!), Sasa quoting T.S. Eliot, one character actually getting a happy ending that s/he deserves, a very cool “death” scene, and Fraction reversing the bloodbath of the first few issues with a different one at the end of this issue. And, of course, Bá, drawing the shit out of every page. This is a brutal, gloriously violent comic, and it looks stunning … and then Bá and Peter get to do 9 wordless pages in the middle of it that feels so intense and kinetic you wonder if you’re not watching a movie. I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen in the next arc, and I’m not quite sure if I know exactly what happened in this arc (is that Kaito in Hollywood at the end?), but reading single issues of Casanova is much more like drowning in images, and only when you sit back and read the issues together will you see the whole picture. I can do that. And so I will.

Bring on “Acedia,” I say! Who knows when it will show up, but I’m looking forward to it!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 9

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? Nope. I mean, some of the cast members are a bit odd-looking, but no actual monsters appear!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yes, that's what he's thinking about at that precise moment

Chew #27 (“Space Cakes Part 2 of 5″) by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Taylor Wells (color assistant). $2.99, 29 pgs, FC, Image.

Here’s something interesting (well, to me): I never actually reviewed this issue when it came out last year. It arrived in stores while I was in Pennsylvania for those 7 weeks, so when I got back to Arizona and did my monster review post about all the comics I had bought, I kind of skipped over it. That’s okay, though, because that means I get to write about it now!

We’re still waiting for Tony to come out of his coma, so his sister, Toni, is still the star of the book. This issue is structured very much like issue #1 (I haven’t gone back and checked how closely it mirrors it, but I remember enough to know that it is), which is kind of neat. We find out that Toni was licking psychedelic frogs and her group was busted by Savoy and Caesar, who sees Toni in the hospital with Tony but can’t place her (Layman told me recently that this is a running gag in the book). Meanwhile, Toni meets up with a fellow scientist from those glorious frog-licking days and finds out he was breeding psychedelic … chogs. You remember chogs, right? The frog-chicken hybrid that was designed to skirt the chicken laws in the “Chew Universe”? Of course you do. Layman continues to bring back old characters and reference long-ago story arcs, which is pretty awesome, as it really gives us a sense of – dare I say it? – continuity – there are no throwaway pages in Chew, which is nice. Finally, at the end of the issue, Tony wakes up and there’s someone in his room. WHO COULD IT BE?????

Guillory, as usual, gets to have some fun, especially when Toni starts licking psychedelic frogs (see below). It’s really hard to keep coming up with superlatives to describe his work. Toni is adorably clueless about Paneer’s love for her, but that doesn’t mean she can’t break out the doe eyes (hilariously, I might add) when she wants something from him. Guillory also continues to put a lot of fun stuff in each issue (like the tagline of the moving van) that makes reading the book so rewarding. And, as this is the second time around for this issue, Layman and Guillory put the Hero Comics story from last year at the end of the issue, complete with all the art styles Guillory drew in on that one page – you know the one! It’s very neat, even though I’ve already read the story.

Honestly, Chew is so routinely excellent I’m surprised those people who aren’t reading yet haven’t collapsed in pain from the lack of it. It’s your choice, man!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 4, which is a bit low. It was a (relatively) mellow issue of Chew.

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? Zero, but the hallucinations are purty.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck yeah!

Dark Horse Presents #13. “Ghost: Resurrection Mary Chapter 1″ by Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer), Phil Noto (artist), and Richard Starkings and Comicraft (letterer); “The Creep Chapter 3″ by John Arcudi (writer), Jonathan Case (artist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); “Finder: Third World Chapter 11″ by Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist/letterer), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Bill Mudron (colorist); “Criminal Macabre: They Fight by Night Chapter 4″ by Steve Niles (writer), Christopher Mitten (artist), Michelle Madsen (colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); “Aliens: Inhuman Condition Chapter 2″ by John Layman (writer/letterer), Sam Kieth (artist/colorist), and John Kalisz (colorist); “The Occultist: Damned Can Dance Chapter 3″ by Tim Seeley (writer), Victor Drujiniu (artist), Andrew Dalhouse (colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); “The Black Beetle: Night Shift Chapter 3″ by Francesco Francavilla (writer/artist); “Profile: A Cross Story” by Andrew Vachss (writer), Geof Darrow (illustrator), and Peter Doherty (colorist); “Nexus: Bad Moon Rising” by Mike Baron (writer), The Dude (artist), and Glenn Whitmore (colorist); “Mister X: Hard Candy” by Dean Motter (writer/artist). $7.99, 80 pgs, DC, Dark Horse.

I still like DHP a lot and think it’s a superb value, but I’m a bit concerned with the way they’re running things down there in Milwaukie. Before this even came out, DeConnick and Noto got a Ghost mini-series, so I assume Dark Horse will package this as a “zero” issue and then launch into the mini. They’ve already done that with a few other stories that appear here and I guess will continue to do so. I’m not really all that happy with it, not because I don’t want to read a DeConnick and Noto Ghost mini-series or a Hogan and Parkhouse Resident Alien mini-series or anything else, but because I think the stories ought to end where they begin. Arcudi and Case’s Creep story, for instance, seems to end very oddly in this issue, and I know The Creep #0 has already been solicited, and based on the way this ends, I can’t believe Arcudi is done telling this story. So will it continue in The Creep #1? That would be annoying. The Occultist and The Black Beetle do the same thing in this very issue, although, to be fair, I don’t know if those serials will be continuing in DHP or on their own, as I haven’t seen any “regular” issues solicited. Resident Alien did this, too, and it’s annoying. Wood and Donaldson had some stories about The Massive in DHP that don’t seem to be too relevant to the main series, but maybe they will be. I get that this is a way to prime the pump, so to speak, but couldn’t these creators tell a complete story in the pages of DHP and then, if the interest is there, tell a completely different story in a separate mini-series? Dorkin and Thompson did it, Chaykin did it, others have done it – you may argue about the quality of the stories, but it was nice that they were contained in the pages of one comic. It’s kind of frustrating.

This is, naturally, a very solid issue. The Ghost story is a bit perplexing because it just started, but Noto’s art is lovely. There’s another very fun Finder story, and Cal McDonald shoots up some werewolves. Layman and Kieth’s Alien story is starting to make sense, which is nice. Both Nexus and Mister X are into their second chapters, so it’s hard to get a good bead on them – they both look wonderful, but who knows where Baron and Motter are going with them? As usual, it’s a fine read, mitigated a bit by the fact that some of the stories don’t end very well, because they’re presumably moving on to a longer format. But that might just be something that bugs me.

FUCK YEAH! moments: 4

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? Werewolves, an Alien (I think we can count it), two different demons from Hell, and a foxy undead chick. So, at least 8 (there are several werewolves), I guess?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

More things in heaven and earth, dude!

Elephantmen #40. “One in the Eye” by Richard Starkings (writer/letterer), Tony Parker (artist), and Blond (colorist); “Patient Zero Parts 4 and 5 of 5″ by Rob Steen (writer/artist) and Richard Starkings (letterer); “Charley Loves Robots” by J. G. Roshell (writer) and Gabriel Bautista (artist). $3.99, 38 pgs, FC, Image.

Ah, yes, after years of claiming I would pay money for Elephantmen even though I got every issue for free, Richard Starkings called my bluff at the Phoenix Comic Convention and told me he was unable to send them to me anymore. Damn you, Starkings!!!! But, as I have always said, I would buy this if I weren’t getting it for free, so this week, issue #40 came out, and I – gulp – paid American dollars for it. And you know what? It was FUCKING AWESOME! I mean, I figured it would be – this comic has been good from Day 1 and one of the best comics out there for a few years (it took a little bit to get there, but it’s been there for some time), so it’s not like I was expecting it to suck, but Starkings decides to give us a single-issue story and he kills it. He checks in on Panya, the young lady who has been posing as Sahara occasionally (she looks like Sahara) but is currently hanging out at the Eye of the Needle, the floating restaurant high above Los Angeles. A dude in mecha armor shows up demanding the man who killed his daughters – the Silencer, who is also in the restaurant, hiding. The armored dude takes the patrons hostage, and then the Silencer shows up, wreaking havoc. Panya also gets into the game, taking advantage of the fact that she looks like Sahara and the hybrids love Sahara. It’s on then, motherfuckers!

Starkings does a nice job showing us why the dude wants the Silencer dead (it involves sex, because of course it does!) in flashbacks while keeping things moving and showing what a bad-ass the Silencer is. He writes a wonderful Panya, too, as she needs no one to help her kick ass (she yells at the Silencer when he tells her to get behind him, especially as she’s done more to stop the dude by that time than he has). Starkings does a good job putting a nice twist in the story, which presumably will have some dire consequences down the line. It fits well into the rest of the series, but it works very well as a self-contained story. We also get the final two installments of Rob Steen’s creepy “Patient Zero” story, which doesn’t end well for anyone, unsurprisingly.

Parker has been raising his profile recently, to the point where I’m sure I won’t be able to chat with him at cons anymore because he’ll have so many fans flocking around him. I’ve often said to him that I’m not sure why some of his earlier artwork isn’t great even though it showed potential. I thought it might be the colorist, but Blond colored his stuff on Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? as well as this, and this looks much stronger. Maybe Parker is just getting better! The best comparison I can make in this issue is to Igor Kordey, and as Kordey is a good artist, I hope Parker takes that as a compliment. There are a few smaller panels where it’s difficult to see what’s happening, which is frustrating, but overall, this is a beautiful comic, and I’m glad that Parker (who’s a really nice guy) is moving up in the world.

So yeah. Even though I had to pay for it, I still love this comic. You should too!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 8 (7 in the main story, and 1 in “Patient Zero”)

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? I won’t count the elephantmen as monsters, because they’re not, so there’s only one – Betsy, who shows up in “Patient Zero.”

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck yeah!

Fables #118. “Cubs in Toyland Chapter 5: Broken Kite” by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer); “A Revolution in Oz Chapter Four: Bounty on the Mutiny” by Bill Willingham (writer), Shawn McManus (artist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

This issue of Fables is actually pretty good, because shit, you know, happens. I guess it’s true – the comic just works better in trades. Willingham gets around to explaining the mystery behind Discardia, and while it’s not too surprising, it works very effectively. It’s always nice to see Bigby go bad-ass, as well. Willingham could have gotten to this point a bit sooner – it feels like a year since Therese got on that toy boat – but I must admit that he can write a comic that both advances the plot, has some nice characterization, and features some action when he feels like it.

I still haven’t made up my mind what I’m going to do when this arc is over (it appears issue #120 might be the seventh chapter of the story, which is entirely too long), but at least this issue is a lot better than the previous two, at least. Plus, I love the bounty in the second story, because it’s awesome.

FUCK YEAH! moments: 3

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? I suppose not, although the giant bear has always been a bit creepy … but he is just a toy!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck yeah!

Glory #27 (“Destroyer Part Two: Savage”) by Joe Keatinge (writer), Ross Campbell (artist), Joseph Bergin III (colorist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

This is the first of two very monster-heavy comics, and while I think Brian Churilla is the current Monster-Drawing King in comics, Campbell is pretty fucking good at them, too (Jason Copland, whose art we see in Near Death, is pretty good, too). Let’s see … I think Churilla, Campbell, Copland, and James Stokoe should have some kind of Monster-Off. Can anyone think of other artists who should join in?

Last issue, a bunch of aliens showed up at Mont-St.-Michel and things looked grim for Glory and her pals. Keatinge gives us a prologue which sets up the main story, as Glory shows what’s lurking underneath her surface and how it can come out. Riley and the others try to flee, which leads to a bit of slaughter, and Glory goes a bit apeshit (see below), and Campbell draws the hell out of it all. It’s amazing how ferociously beautiful this comic is, even when horrible things are happening. Keatinge has foreshadowed the ending pretty well, but it still feels like a punch in the gut when it comes. For an issue with a ton of action, Keatinge manages to work in some really nice moments with the characters, which I appreciate. It’s not that hard to get a lot into 20 pages, DC and Marvel writers!

Glory has been good since its relaunch, but this might be the best issue yet. It’s phenomenal and gorgeous and tragic. I already want the next issue, damn it!!!!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 9

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? Too many to count, really, and it depends whether you think all the creatures fighting Glory are monsters. I can say that there are 3 pages WITHOUT any monsters on them, and 2 more where the monsters are mostly in the background. That’s a good monster quotient!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck yeah!

Hellblazer #292 (“The House of Wolves”) by Peter Milligan (writer), Simon Bisley (artist), Brian Buccellato (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Simon Bisley steps in for a one-off issue in which John and Epiphany see a werewolf movie and both get a bit shivery about it, which leads into a flashback where we find out they encountered each other once before, back when Epiphany was 14 (don’t fret – John’s not quite that skeevy to put the moves on a young teenager). It’s a nice little horror story, as some lords are werewolves but are getting old, so they don’t feel quite as eager as they used to, and Terry Greaves asks Epiphany to cook something up. She thinks she’s giving them Viagra – or the alchemical equivalent – but she’s really helping them transform, which gets messy. She makes an antidote, and Terry knows a guy who can deliver it – our own Mr. Constantine. Things don’t go as planned, of course, and soon John is sporting a bit more hair than usual and salivating when he sees Epiphany. As it’s a flashback, we can tell that nothing happens, but Milligan does a nice job adding a bit more history to their relationship. I was a bit confused, though – does Terry know that John turned into a werewolf? If so, why hasn’t he brought that up before? The easy answer is because Milligan didn’t know it yet, but I wonder if Milligan had a story like this in mind a while ago or if this was a rush job. This is why I don’t really like filling in characters’ history with heretofore unknown interactions with other characters, something Marvel and DC writers do with frightening frequency, because one would think Terry would have brought this up before. Oh well. It’s a neat little story, and I guess that’s all that matters.

FUCK YEAH! moments: 5

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? 3 … all of them werewolves.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Words cannot express how awesome Epiphany is

Higher Earth #2 by Sam Humphries (writer), Francesco Biagini (artist), Manuel Bracchi (artist), Andrew Crossley (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

The second issue of this series is about as good as the first, which isn’t a bad thing, because issue #1 was pretty good. As we saw, there are several different Earths in the multiverse, and the hero dude – whose name escapes me – found a girl named Heidi on one world and took her to Sunshine Earth 9, which appears to be a paradise but has some issues, mostly with refugees from other Earths trying to stay there. Hero Dude is trying to find a doctor who can help them, but Heidi, having lived her life in a vast wasteland, freaks out because of all the people and runs for it. Hero Dude sees the doctor (who is, naturally, not happy to see him – Hero Dude had something to do with the doctor’s wife disappearing) and figures out where Heidi has gone, and when he gets there, she’s about to be taken into custody. So of course Hero Dude takes out his all-purpose sword once again and starts chopping. They escape to another Earth, one which might not be all that hospitable.

Humphries is keeping things moving quickly, and he’s done a good job so far establishing the basic plot and some basic personality traits of his two main characters. Biagini remains the draw so far for the book, because he’s doing some nice work. When Heidi is walking through the city, Biagini shows how her perception of the place becomes warped so that it seems natural for her to flee – if I were seeing what she is, I’d run too! He continues to do some nice things with page layouts, and he really does seem to enjoy drawing sword-related violence, which is good when that’s Hero Dude’s principal weapon. Humphries’ scripts are fine, but right now, Biagini is probably the better reason to buy this book. Of course, that may change! And no, I don’t know what Bracchi does on this comic. All the art looks consistent, so perhaps he draws some backgrounds or something.

FUCK YEAH! moments: 5

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? The city is bizarre, but I can only think of 1, and I’m not sure it counts (it’s the creature on the last page, in case you read the book).

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

You think?

Mars Attacks #1 (“First Contact! First Carnage!”) by John Layman (writer/letterer), John McCrea (artist), and Andrew Elder (colorist). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW.

I was on the fence about buying this in single issues, and I still might wait for the trade, but I did pick this up for a few reasons. One: Layman showed me the uncolored pencil art a few months ago, and it looked freakin’ awesome; Two: I really wanted one of those covers, man! My retailer scooped up a few of the best covers, but I love how terrified the pilot looks in this one as he burns to death. Yes, I’m a sick freak. It’s okay, I can deal with it.

One reason why I might not wait for the trade is because this is a really cool issue. It’s not at all deep – some Martians crash land on Earth in 1962, humans shoot them, one survivor swears revenge and gets it 50 years later (the final page implies that the rest of the book will be set in the present) – but Layman knows how to write a good script, so the pedestrian plot zips along nicely, and the human characters are stereotypical but fun. Two hicks find the Martian saucer and take one of them – Zar – to a circus, where they sell him to a dude with a freak show. One of them decides to free the Martian because he doesn’t like the idea of selling him, but the entrepreneur interrupts him, there’s a struggle, and the good Samaritan is killed. So the circus dude blames it on the Martian, and mayhem ensues. Martians and humans are killed, but Zar manages to escape and begin plotting revenge. Man, you don’t want to piss off the Martians!

While Layman’s script is fun but nothing special, McCrea’s artwork is superb. McCrea has always been good at cartoonish creatures, and the Topps Martians are certainly wacky looking. The first page is a splash of Zar leading his armies into battle, and it’s an amazingly detailed rendering of the might of the Martians, colored wonderfully by Elder, with fiery orange at the bottom bleeding into the deep blue of the night sky at the top. McCrea and Elder work really well together, and considering that you read a Mars Attacks book to see Martians and humans die in gruesome ways, it’s nice that they deliver the goods in perfect fashion. Layman breaks the book into chapters, with each title a separate panel that looks like one of the Topps cards, which is a clever way to do it. The book looks fantastic, and as I really like McCrea’s work, I’m always happy to see him working on something that I want to read.

As you know this will come out in trade, I don’t blame anyone for waiting on it. It is pretty danged awesome, though – if you can wait for the awesome, have fun with that!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 4

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? Do the Martians count? If so, 4

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck yeah!

Near Death #9 by Jay Faerber (writer), Simone Guglielmini (artist), Ron Riley (colorist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer); “The Car-Jackers” by Ed Brisson (writer/letterer), Jason Copland (artist), and Paul Little (colorist). $2.99, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

I’m freaking out a bit about this issue of Near Death. Is it me, or did Faerber already use the opening vignette, about Markham delivering a witness to the courthouse? I don’t feel like digging out my back issues, but it’s really giving me a severe case of déjà vu about the whole thing. It’s really weird. Will Mr. Faerber come by and tell me I’m an idiot? Does anyone else get that feeling when they read those first few pages? AM I GOING INSANE?!?!?!? (Speaking of which, why has “déjà vu” become a commonplace expression while poor “jamais vu” (when something familiar is not recognized by the viewer) and “presque vu” (“It’s on the tip of my tongue”) remain relatively unknown? It’s quite odd. Use the other two in your daily life and impress your friends!)

The main story deals with Markham getting asked to help a policeman who’s been targeted by a bad guy. It sounds easy enough, but then he finds out it’s the cop who shot him and almost killed him, which led to his “near death” experience and turned his life around, and the guy targeting the cop is Markham’s old boss. Oh dear. Plus, the cop still hates Markham even though he’s heard that he’s working on the side of angels these days. So many complications! Of course, feces strikes the rotating cooling device, and Markham has a difficult situation to get out of at the end, and I’m glad that Faerber decided to stretch this out to a two-part (at least) story, because of all the angles involved. I’m sure things will remain stressful for a while.

Meanwhile, we get another nice “Murder Book” story from Brisson and Copland. Unlike the amazingly bleak ones I’ve already read, Brisson gives us a darkly humorous one this time, as two punks steal a guy’s car … but maybe they shouldn’t have. It’s only 5 pages long and on the second page, we can figure out what’s going to happen, but it’s still pretty funny.

Anyway, someone needs to tell me that I’m not insane. Will it be you? Help me, readers, you’re my only hope!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 1

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? It’s a crime comic, so the possibility of actual monsters is pretty slim, and they don’t show up in this issue.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I thought you were a professional!

Next Men #44 by John Byrne (writer/artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Neil Uyetake (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, FC, IDW.

For the second issue in a row, Byrne gives us an almost all-black cover. Man, he’s really phoning it in, isn’t he?

Byrne cleans up a lot of the loose ends in this comic, and I guess it all makes sense. The biggest problem with these latter issues of Next Men is that there’s no real villain, and Byrne isn’t really writing a character drama, so the lack of an antagonist hurts the comic. Yes, the main characters have been wandering around time and space and it’s all very weird, but just when you think there’s going to be a villain, Byrne head-fakes and gives us yet another layer of the onion. Now, we find out it’s pretty much all onion. Man, I don’t like onions. Why don’t vegetables taste better?

I guess this is the end of the series, because issue #45 hasn’t been solicited and it does end on a note that could be a “final” ending, but it feels a bit anticlimactic. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a villain – there’s nobody to defeat, really. Next Men could have been a masterpiece, but I wonder if Byrne just isn’t that good anymore. Oh well.

FUCK YEAH! moments: 1, if I’m feeling generous.

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? I don’t think that alien “dog” counts, so zero.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Sadly, the ways things are today, you don't know if he's describing that robot or calling someone's name

Saga #4 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (artist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

You know that feeling you get when you’re really on the opposite side of the fence from the prevailing opinion? It’s kind of weird, isn’t it? I don’t mean it feels superior, like you’re so smart because you don’t like the stuff everyone else does or you like the stuff that nobody else does, but I mean like … confusion. It’s easy to hate The Bachelorette even though it gets good ratings – that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something you really, really love yet no one else knows about – I doubt if anyone who watches The Bachelorette would really defend it all that much – and you can’t understand it. I felt this way about Vietnamerica last year – why didn’t more people read it and love it? Am I an idiot, or did people just not read it? The opposite of this is my feelings about, say, The Avengers. It’s perfectly fine, but I can’t understand why so many people are calling it the greatest superhero movie ever. Really? I just don’t get it. Saga is the same way – among people who write about comics, it’s almost universally loved; I don’t think I’ve read a bad review yet. I go into every issue with the same attitude I had going into the underwhelming issue #1 – the creative team is very good and I think, “This issue I will love! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! Then I will know what everyone has seen all along!!!!” And yet … each issue has left me with more disappointment than enthusiasm. Vaughan does make me think, though, and this is better than something utterly boring, so I guess that’s something. I can deal with being underwhelmed as long as I’m not bored. Not for too long, you understand, but for longer than some other things.

So what’s my problem with this issue? Well, first of all, I will say that I enjoyed the way Marko and Alana talked about Marko’s fiancée – that was a nice conversation. It was funny and felt true, right down to Marko not understanding how to compliment Alana even though he’s trying. I still do not like the “earthly” slang, but I guess that’s the way it is, right? Unfortunately, the Alana and Marko scenes (with Izabel providing some comic relief) take up only 10 of the 22 pages. The other 12 are devoted to The Will visiting a sex planet. Oh, the sex planet scenes. Oh dear.

First of all, nowhere on the front cover does this say it’s for “mature readers.” The rating, such as it is, is on the back cover and it’s very tiny. At least it’s there, because this is, frankly, a pornographic comic. The Will visits “Sextillion,” a sex planet, and Fiona Staples very clearly draws a penis entering a vagina on page 8. Now, I wouldn’t let my kids read this anyway, but I’m a bit surprised it’s not more clearly labeled as “not for kids.” If you take your kid to the comic book store, they’re not going to notice the tiny “M” on the back, and I doubt if parents will, either. If you have no idea what Saga is about, why wouldn’t you let your kids pick it up? Why is this any different than a porn comic that retailers won’t place out on their shelves? Because it’s “classy”? I really don’t care all that much, because I don’t go shopping for comics with my kids and I know pretty much which comics are too mature for them, but I find this a bit odd. There’s always the big debate about violence versus sex and why it’s okay that Geoff Johns can decapitate people with impunity and the book can be sold to children, but now that I’ve been a father for a while, I can understand it a bit more: my daughter isn’t really bothered by violence, because it’s easy to tell her that it’s make-believe and that nobody gets hurt. We don’t let her watch really bad violence, obviously, but characters die in Disney movies, after all, so we’ve had to explain it to her. Most people have never seen and will never see someone die violently, so it really is easy to explain away. Sex is different, because sex is far more complicated than violence, kids aren’t ready to handle it yet and won’t understand it, and it’s something they will presumably engage in at some point in their lives. So the violence The Will performs in this book, while gruesome, is actually easier to explain to a kid – “That guy was bad, and that’s what happens to bad guys” – than the sex is. At least that’s my experience. Your experience with your kids may be different.

Anyway, the sex aside, let’s consider what else happens in this issue (I guess I’m going to SPOIL it, so be aware!). The Will goes to Sextillion to get laid, and he walks past various sex things and appears bored. Some dude shows up and promises a “slave girl” who will do anything he wants, so they head to a chamber where the pimp dude brings out … a six-year-old girl. The Will then kills the pimp dude by pulping his head between his (The Will’s) hands, which seems really hard to do unless the pimp dude’s skull was made of tapioca, not bone. Anyway, this is the big scene in the book, and it sucks. I mean, really. Why does it suck? Let’s consider what Vaughan is trying to do with this scene. I really don’t know. The Will shows up on a sex planet and wants sex, but even though, as the pimp dude says just before he dies, The Will kills children (whether that’s true or not, I don’t know), he won’t have sex with one. Hazel narrates right after the pimp dude dies that The Will is a “fucking MONSTER.” But, she also narrates, “some monsters are worse than others …” So is Vaughan trying to make The Will a sympathetic character? Why? He took a job to kill two parents and turn a baby over to authorities who will presumably do horrible things to said baby. He is called a “fucking MONSTER” – there’s very little equivocation there. So why would he draw the line at having sex with a six-year-old? Plus, I don’t mean to be extremely gross, but I didn’t bring it up, Vaughan did – if The Will wants something less “safe,” why would he want something to put his dick in anyway? Ultimately, putting your dick in anything and having an orgasm is pretty much the same thing no matter what the hole is, so a six-year-old girl is no different than a grown woman or a grown man or, I don’t know, an apple pie. If Vaughan wanted to be perverse (and it’s pretty clear he did), why didn’t the pimp dude take The Will somewhere where he (The Will, that is) could be the one being penetrated? That would be interesting, but it wouldn’t allow The Will to be a hero. So Vaughan simply wanted to show The Will as being less of a monster than … what? I don’t get this scene at all, because obviously, Vaughan is simply setting up a situation where we’re supposed to be horrified and then cheer when The Will does the “right thing.” But it’s such a simplistic scenario, and we know so little about the character so far (why wouldn’t he screw a six-year-old; what ethics has he shown?), and we’re told immediately after the fact that he’s a horrible person, so what’s the point? Has he just acquired a six-year-old sidekick who he’s going to mentor and turn into a killing machine? Really? I suppose if we see this girl again and The Will becomes a father figure, then I understand the scene (although that would be a really lame sub-plot), but I have a feeling we’ll never see that girl again. Even if we do, the scene makes no sense. Why would The Will care about the girl?

Oh, Saga. Why do you do this to me? I will say that Staples’ backgrounds are a bit better, and she obviously had a lot of fun drawing a lot of nekkid people. Good times!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 2, although 1 of them is The Will killing the pimp dude, and I really don’t want to count that.

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? Everyone’s an alien, so no one’s a monster, right?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Tee hee - she said 'vagina'

The Secret History of D. B. Cooper #4 by Brian Churilla (writer/artist) and Ed Brisson (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

I’m a little worried about this title, because issue #6 wasn’t solicited in last month’s Previews, and I’m hoping it’s just a case of Churilla getting the trade out and taking a month off before he launches into another story arc, because I can’t believe he can wrap everything up next issue. It would be a shame if the book doesn’t come back, because in addition to Churilla’s glorious monster designs, the story is really picking up, with a few genuine surprises among Cooper’s quest to find his daughter. I can certainly imagine this arc ending with him going out of the plane (which is where the “real” D. B. Cooper disappeared from history) and the next arc picking up after that event, and I imagine that’s where Churilla is going … if he gets the chance. I suppose I’ll find out next week, when Previews shows up, if the series is continuing. Any comic that has panels like the one below deserves to keep going!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 5

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? 3

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck yeah!

The Shadow #3 by Garth Ennis (writer), Aaron Campbell (artist), Carlos Lopez (colorist), and Rob Steen (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

There’s not much to say about this issue except that it’s solid. Ennis continues to move his pieces around the board, as Kondo and the Shadow move closer to a confrontation with each other. There’s a giant Chinese warlord, there’s whiny Russians and whiny Americans, there’s people getting burned alive while upside down and tied to crosses, there’s a classic “behind a painting” moment right out of Scooby-Doo, there’s Kondo getting the Shadow to do some of his dirty work (with the Shadow finding out too late), and there’s Lamont Cranston saying things like “This time we fight with the fate of millions hanging in the balance, and the killing will not end with a single Abwehr slut.” Oh, Lamont, no wonder you get all the wimmins!

I enjoy this comic. It’s not great (yet), but it’s a nice read. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!

FUCK YEAH! moments: 4

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? Sorry, no.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck yeah!

“Tumma Avengers” #176 (“Whatever Happened to the Thunderbolts?”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Kev Walker (penciler), Terry Pallot (inker), Frank Martin Jr. (colorist), Antonio Fabela (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

So there’s Jeff Parker. He’s a good writer and has been for some time, and he always seems to bring a nice sense of joy to his more superheroic comics, whether they’re serious or not. He’s been writing Thunderbolts for, what, 30+ issues, and I’ve read 25 of them, and they’re very enjoyable. I don’t know how well they’ll hold up as “seriously good” comics, but Parker has gotten really good at writing 20-page slices of awesome. Then Marvel decided to change the name of his comic, and Parker wrote one issue featuring the Dunkel Avengers. Then he got back together with Kev Walker and unleashed this comic on the world. The last time Walker drew a Thunderbolts comic, it featured a toad-like creature licking a woman’s foot. That was not awesome enough, apparently, so Parker decided to check in on the (still) time-lost T-Bolts and see what’s going on with them. The result: A COMIC ON WHICH SOMETHING FUCKING AWESOME HAPPENS ON EVERY SINGLE FUCKING PAGE!!!!! You think I jest? Let’s review (with some SPOILERS, but not enough to ruin things), with one awesome thing from each page (and occasionally, there is more than one awesome thing on a page, but I’m only listing one!):

Page 1: T-Bolts Tower arrives in the Pleistocene Era. Walker draws it like 2001: A Space Odyssey and the monolith.
Page 2: Continuing that motif, a cave man throws a bone at the tower … which Troll catches in her teeth.
Page 3: Troll is about the fight the cave men, but unfortunately, she is stopped. Still, a cool image.
Page 4: “Sex imps.”
Page 5: “I think you’re all simpletons.”
Page 6: SEE BELOW!
Page 7: Moonstone references Bat-Shark-Repellent. Parker refuses to pay Cronin royalties!
Page 8: Potential catfight between two large-breasted women. Boomerang approves!
Page 9: The Watcher and the Celestials!
Page 10: Okay, so the tower goes further back into the past. It’s not a particularly exciting page, but the idea of them going back to the dawn of Earth is pretty awesome.
Page 11: “I am registering thousands of proteins in the water that do not exist in our day.”
Page 12: The time-traveler’s “master.”
Page 13: The Vogurnus Koth!
Page 14: Man-Thing speaks!
Page 15: “Y’all tha snitches that got me my riches.”
Page 16: “Him talk Troll good!”
Page 17: Betrayal!
Page 18: The time-traveler’s identity revealed!
Page 19: More betrayal!
Page 20: ‘SPLODE! (Honestly, every single superhero comic should end with something exploding. So it shall be done!!!!)

I know I was vague, but I think the specifics were specific enough to let you know how motherfucking awesome this comic is. I can’t remember a comic not called Atomic Robo that had so much awesome packed into it in a long time. More than that, though, Parker isn’t just throwing stuff in to try to be awesome, he’s actually telling a story, and the awesome just comes along with it. He’s reached a point with these characters that writing them seems natural to him, so when they interact, awesome shit happens. Plus, Walker draws some cool-ass sharks.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to start buying Thunderbolts, this issue should be it. Yes, the name change is stupid. But damn, the comic is pretty fucking awesome.

FUCK YEAH! moments: 12

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? Can you not see the giant motherfucking sharks?!?!?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

FUCK YEAH!!!!!!

X-Factor #238 by Peter David (writer), Paul Davidson (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I don’t know if this cover tops the psychedelic one that Yardin gave us earlier in the year, but it’s pretty cool, plus it gives us clues as to what’s happening inside, which is keen. Well done, Mr. Yardin!

David fires up another story arc (I guess last issue could be the beginning of one, but although he builds on that issue, I think this counts more as the beginning of one) with some mysterious murders that seem to be perpetrated by … Theresa (well, that can’t be good) and Rahne hitting the road to find her child, where she’s joined by Rictor and Shatterstar. Meanwhile, because it’s David, we get a lot of banter, as Guido and Jamie discuss coming back from the dead and Jamie’s relationship with Layla, Havok appears to be having some problems with Lorna, and Jamie is still concerned about the dead “real-life superheroes” from a few issues ago. Plus, there’s a funny scene involving Longshot. As usual, there’s a lot in the hopper, and David has a good handle on it all. Davidson is the latest in a parade of artists (is Lupacchino ever coming back?????), but he’s a pretty good artist, so I have no problem with it. David writes in the letter column that Assistant Editor Jordan White and Editor Daniel Ketchum pick the artists once they get the script, which I find a bit fascinating. We know that editors don’t appear to correct spelling mistakes in scripts, so perhaps if Marvel weren’t double-shipping every title they can and one artist could stay on the book for a while, maybe the editors could, you know, edit. White and Ketchum have managed to do a fairly good job with the artists on this title, but that’s a little sad that they need to do it because of Marvel’s policy. X-Factor is a very good comic, but I don’t know how great it is because it lacks the definitive clarity of a great team. This seems to be hurting a lot of Marvel’s comics, but I guess they don’t care about posterity, just squeezing every last penny they can out of, to use >Colin Smith’s term, the Rump. I love reading tidbits about how comics get made, and that nugget was a good one. I imagine it’s not too frustrating for David, as he’s an old pro, but that would be weird writing scripts and not having any idea who’s going to draw them. At least I think it would.

Anyway, it’s a good issue of X-Factor. Who’da thunk it?

FUCK YEAH! moments: 4

Are there monsters in it, and if so, how many? I’m going to say 1, although it’s unclear whether it’s really a monster or not.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck yeah! ... so to speak

Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire (writer/artist). $9.95, 102 pgs, BWR, Top Shelf.

This is early Lemire back in print. It’s very rough, art-wise, but that’s to be expected. I’m curious to read this and see how good or not good it is.

Marathon by Boaz Yakin (writer) and Joe Infurnari (artist). $16.99, 187, BW, First Second Books.

Boaz Yakin directed Remember the Titans and has written some other crappy movies (the Jake Gyllenhaal Prince of Persia movie, for one) but his first movie, Fresh, is superb. I’m always curious about directors who make one absolutely brilliant movie and never seem to come close to it again (I haven’t seen all of Yakin’s movies, but they don’t get the love that Fresh does). Is it a fluke, or do they have one great story to tell, or are they let down by other factors? Things like this really fascinate me.

Oh, this book is about the dude who ran the distance that became the marathon. Infurnari is a good artist, and the book looks very cool.

New York Mon Amour by Jacques Tardi (writer/artist), Benjamin Legrand (writer), and Dominique Grange (writer). $19.99, 82 pgs, BW, Fantagraphics.

More Tardi! Yay!

Rio by Doug Wildey (writer/artist). $49.99, 288 pgs, FC, IDW.

When this showed up in Previews, those people who had read it couldn’t stop raving about it, so of course I had to get it. I haven’t read it yet, but the art is stunning, and it’s a giant book (it didn’t quite fit on my scanner), so the art looks even more sumptuous. Just from the art, it looks like it’s worth every penny.

X-Club by Simon Spurrier (writer), Paul Davidson (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $16.99, 100 pgs, FC, Marvel.

This looks like something I will really dig. I hope I do!

**********

I don’t often read McSweeney’s, because I could easily spend my entire day on the site, but I did like this. Oh, you unappreciated font, you!

Roger links to GayProf’s lament about the death of cursive. I think it’s a shame, too, but I’m not too hung up on it. I think it’s more depressing that a lot of kids don’t know how to tie shoelaces because everything is Velcro these days. I have wonderful handwriting, by the way. When I got back from Germany in May 1979, the second grade class I was in had already learned it, but I hadn’t yet. So my teacher made me sit in class and copy the “official” cursive letters off the wall, so I never developed any idiosyncrasies in my cursive, and to this day it still looks like something you’d find on a classroom wall. I don’t mean to sound proud, but as I can’t do many things right, I like to talk about my excellent handwriting!

Today is my younger daughter’s 7th birthday, by the way. To give you an idea of how long I’ve been annoying you with my thoughts here, I’ve been writing for this blog longer than she’s been alive. Yee-ha!!!! Wish Norah a Happy Birthday by following her on Twitter!

Well, I’ve added some more stuff to my iPod, and I plugged it back into my automobile, so let’s check out the Ten Most Recent Songs it Played, shall we?

1. “Thriller”Michael Jackson (1982) “You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination”1
2. “Wonderous Stories”Yes (1977) “It is no lie I see deeply into the future”
3. “Tobacco Island”Flogging Molly (2004) “This rotten cage of Bridgetown is where I now belong”2
4. “Vervaceous”James (1999) “Falling in between the lines, never fitting in”
5. “She’s Crafty”Beastie Boys “I said, ‘I don’t know her just met her tonight’ and Adrock started hiding everything in sight”
6. “N. F. B. (Dallabnikufesin)”Anthrax (1991) “I never meant to hurt you or sleep with all your friends”
7. “Silent Lucidity”Queensrÿche (1990) “Your dream’s alive, you can be the guide”3
8. “The Roof Is Leaking”Phil Collins (1981) “I woke this morning found my hands were frozen”
9. “The Sun And The Moon”Pogues (1995) “And everybody will soon be asking you for more and everybody will be telling lies”
10. “Black”Pearl Jam (1991) “And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass of what was everything”4

1 Today’s discussion: Should Michael Jackson retired after Thriller and gone to live in seclusion in Irkutsk or Tierra del Fuego or the Orkneys or some out of the way place? Would he have been happier? I mean, did he really think he could outsell Thriller? Remember George Costanza’s advice: Always go out on a high note!
2 I’ve been to Bridgetown. It’s very charming.
3 You’d think that for such a nice song, drummer Scott Rockenfield could have lost the chains on his kit in this video. I guess he’s too hardcore, man!
4 I’ve mentioned this before, but I saw Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Penn State in 1991. It was a pretty cool show, although Billy Corgan was an asshole. “Black” is still one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs, and on that day, Eddie and the boys played every single song on Ten … except for one. Go ahead, guess which one they skipped. Motherfuckers.

It’s also time for the return of Totally Random Lyrics! Fire up your thinking caps, ladies and gentlemen!

“Schemin’ on house, money, and the whole show
The low pro ho she’ll be cut like an afro
See what you’re sayin’, huh, she’s a winner to you
But I know she’s a loser (How do you know?)
Me and the crew used to do her”

My goal with this is, of course, to get this song stuck in Travis Pelkie’s head. Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

Have a nice weekend, everyone. Remember this week’s lesson: COMIX R AWWWWWWSUMMMMMMM!

49 Comments

Travis Pelkie

June 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I dunno that song, so it won’t get stuck in my haid. Yay me!

That Near Death vignette is probably from the Image 20 FCBD issue, as I believe that story said “cont.’d in ND 9″. You’re welcome.

Comics are fuckin’ awesome, but I haven’t had the chance to pick up any in a couple weeks. Damn my finances!!!

I think another reason I wasn’t as big on Dial H as funky was because when funky went on about how good #2 was, you bought that, but when I went on about how good the Spider 1 was, you didn’t get that. :( sad panda.

That drawing of Emma is.. just… oh, good lord.

Travis called it — the beginning of NEAR DEATH #9 was also used in the Image FCBD offering this year.

Emma is the Phoenix now? Yeesh! This Avengers Vs X-Men thing sounds even worse than I expected.

Travis Pelkie

June 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Alright! Doin’ my awesome dance!

OK, not really.

Mr Faerber, a shame about the ending of Ringer (although given how much things seemed to be gutted to “dumb it down”, it’s probably for the better), but I hope you’re working on new TV stuff. I’d love to find out what was planned for Ringer if it had been able to continue (or if it hadn’t needed to be truncated like it was).

I was hoping 2 different panels from Fables and Thunderbolts. From Fables I was hoping for “Blunt Force Trauma” As sad as that scene is, it made me laugh. From T-Bolts I was hoping for Man Thing’s first words.

Funniest thing I’ve read in a comic all year. I think.

All week definitely.

Mary: There are five Phoenixes. Phoeni? Cyclops, Magik, Emma, Colossus, and Namor. So… yeah.

Travis — Thanks for the kind words about Ringer. My lips are sealed about what might have been, though. I didn’t create the show, so I feel like it’s up to the creators to divulge those details — or not.

I want a tattoo that says “Being All-Powerful Means Losing All Fashion Sense”

Travis (and Jay): Ah, yes, now I remember. It was really bugging me!!!! Thanks for proving that I’m not insane.

And Travis, I’m very disappointed that you don’t know that song. It’s very sad!

I would have bought The Spider #1, but my retailer sold out of it. I haven’t seen another printing of it around the shop, else I would have snatched it up. I’m going to get the trade based on your recommendation, though. Isn’t that good enough?

jjc: That Fables panel is pretty good, I will admit. And I didn’t want to use the T-Bolts panel because I didn’t want to spoil that scene, as it is too awesome. People should experience it as they read!

Matt D: That’s just what happens when you can turn people into cinders with a thought – who’s going to tell you what to wear?

Travis Pelkie

June 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm

OK, trade waiting is good enough. I guess I need to (over)sell it like funky to get you to get your shop owner to get a second print ;) hee hee. I so love bustin’ on funky.

Speaking of, yeah, that song seems vaguely familiar, but without the rhythm, I can’t tell what it is.

And sorry to say, knowing that you’ve seen a comics story before doesn’t exactly prove you’re not insane :) I did like how that ND bit in the FCBD was almost like an Encyclopedia Brown thing, where that one detail is enough to make the protagonist go, that ain’t right. If my comics shop has ND 9 whenever I get there again, I’ll probably pick it up.

A *ahem* ringing endorsement, huh?

RE: Avengers Academy (and AvX in general). Phoenix Force Five are trying to make the world perfect, so they’ve hit all the old familiar “benevolent demigod” notes – turning deserts into farms, creating infinite clean power sources, irrigatin’ like a mother-fucker – and as part of that they’ve “outlawed war.” Being the most fascistic element of the whole deal, it’s the one that seems to pop up the most in the tie-ins so far. So destroying all weapons isn’t their stupid plan, it’s the stupid part of their bad plan.

As for Emma’s costume looking like it wasn’t designed by someone with two eyes and a brain: the Phoenix Force has neither eyes nor a brain. Verisimilitude achieved!!

@Mary Warner – the Phoenix Force is split five ways between Emma, Namor, Cyclops, Colossus, and Magik. And if you think Emma’s outfit looks bad, wait until you see Namor’s.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Well, well, well, will wonders never cease! Andrew H. Vachss is writing another comic (in Dark Horse Presents). He hadn’t done that for years. Hands up, how many of youse remember HARD LOOKS from Dark Horse? And those Burke novels?

Sniffle, I’ll so miss those JB’s NEXT MEN, but all things ends. Except for those #$&@ X-men, Avengers books!!!! There’s too many!!!!!

Lastly, but not the least, I soooooo want to vist the planet Sextillion. ;-)

Travis Pelkie

June 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Vachss is awesome, so how do you know about him, Tom? :) ha ha ha, I kill me!

The story in the DHP 5th anniversary book (where Sin City debuted) by Vachss is drawn by Klaus Janson, iirc, and is fuckin’ awesome.

Tom would totally get kicked off Sextillion, too, btw.

Sextillion — god, it’s like something from a Lobo book. Or better yet, from Liefeld’s Lobo knock off, Bloodwulf. In fact, I think that’s where he DOES go in one issue of that I have. (A’ight, I dug Liefeld’s Lobo parody from Darker Image 1 and found some more, sue me!)

As the defense is attempting in a real life case, just because you’re a creepy guy, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily a baby raper. Because being a murderous bounty hunter dude or being a “diagnosed creepy” dude is ok as long as you don’t do horrible sex acts to young children.

Does PA have the death penalty? Because anything I’ve read, Sandusky deserves it.

ok, political comment out of the way. Proceed.

About that Next Men: Aftermath #44 cover…

John Byrne couldn’t decide on an image for the cover. Chris Ryall, the EiC of IDW came up with the black cover because they needed something for the previews. He showed it to John and Byrne thought it was perfect so they made it the official cover.

Also it ended at #44 because of Doctor Who. Originally Aftermath was supposed to be 12 issues but because John felt the season finale of Doctor Whowas too much like the story he wanted to tell, he cut it down from 12 to 5 issues. He was afraid people would read the issues and think he ripped off Stephen Moffat.

Uh, Steven Moffat. Brain fart ;)

Oh, and it’s Poison

ABC…
BBD…

the East Coast family.

Can one of you nice folks give me a brief explanation of what a Tumma and a Dunkel and a time lost Thunderbolt are/is? I gave up on Marvel comics around the time Hawkeye turned into a tubby ninja. Thanks.

It’s not just Emma’s costume, though. It’s her– and I use the word loosely– anatomy.

First off Greg, I can’t believe you didn’t pick up the Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE trade that came out this week. It’s a fantastic 7-issue collection (though why DC didn’t include issue 8, which ends that story, is fucking beyond me), and it’s probably the most fun comic DC is publishing. Lemire is writing it as though it’s basically Hellboy and the BPRD set in the DCU, which is a great concept. And considering the pseudo-theme of this week’s post is COMICS!! and monsters, you can’t get much more of either of those than you can in Frankenstein. Of every New 52 book, Frankenstein is one of only two titles where no issue has disappointed me (Flash being the other).

I’ll make you a deal, I’ll pick up the new issue of Thunderbolts (a title I haven’t read since the first few issues in 1997) if you give Frankenstein a whirl. Was there something in the first issue that you disliked and made you not want to get the trade?

While I suppose I haven’t been reading this column that long ( a year or so), I’m pretty sure the 9 stars you just gave Thunderbolts was the highest grade I’ve ever seen you hand out. Would you say it’s the best issue you’ve read in the last year?

And I agree with you about Saga. I’m liking it enough to keep getting it (and I have enough faith in Vaughan), but I don’t love it and don’t see why so many others do. And I thought all of the scenes with The Will just seemed pointless. I don’t see how it will advance the plot or how it enlightened us to his character, and it didn’t work as entertainment. But so it goes.

Travis Pelkie

June 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm

DAMN YOU, JJC!!! NOW I HAVE IT IN MY HEAD!!!

And nicely played, Burgas. I DO dislike that “Poison” as well!

What’s funny with that Emma picture is that it would look totally in place in the previous incarnation of Glory. Ah, EXTREME, we love ya!

Mutt, Greg threw in the Tumma and Dunkel because he refuses to call Thunderbolts by their new name, Dark Avengers. Time lost Thunderbolts are because there was a story involving time travel before the new name. That’s all I know.

But I would totally buy a series called Tubby Ninja. Have…Frank Miller write it, and…fuck, have SETH draw it in the John Stanley/Irv Tripp style. I would buy the fuck out of that.

But Hawkeye is getting his own series, by…is it Bru and Aja, or Fraction and Aja?

Yes, a Steely Dan album is drawing a Marvel comic. Life is awesome.

just talked with brian churilla on twitter and it concludes next issue. very sad indeed.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Obviously, my FUCK YEAH! moments might be different from yours, but either way, there are a lot of them. Let’s go!

Daredevil #14 had my favourite fuck yeah of the month, and it was a return to form for the title as well.

Someone in the Marvel House of Architects came up with that and everyone at the giant, round table (it’s supported by a bunch of Marvel artists, don’t you know, which is why none of them can draw two books in a row – they’re too busy bearing the crushing weight of a large oak slab and hoping Bendis or Fraction or Hickman or Aaron drops a Graham cracker or an Oreo) said, “Fuck yeah!”

Fuck Yeah!

I still like DHP a lot and think it’s a superb value, but I’m a bit concerned with the way they’re running things down there in Milwaukie.

I grabbed the first issue, then came back on with the last couple because of buzz, and I’ve got the same concerns.
I’ve no problem with a serial in DHP making the jump due to quality/fan demand, but I don’t want to read little teasers that just make up the first issue. It feels like it’s letting down the concept of an anthology title.

But I’m hypocrite, I guess, because I grabbed Resident Aline #0, which was al DHP material, and I loved it so started getting DHP again.

Of course, feces strikes the rotating cooling device, and Markham has a difficult situation to get out of at the end, and I’m glad that Faerber decided to stretch this out to a two-part (at least) story, because of all the angles involved. I’m sure things will remain stressful for a while.

This was my favourite issue since the book shifted to LA. Such a great series.

First of all, nowhere on the front cover does this say it’s for “mature readers.” The rating, such as it is, is on the back cover and it’s very tiny. At least it’s there, because this is, frankly, a pornographic comic.

Whoa, settle down Grandpa Burgas! I’m not sure what happened with you and this review, but I think you’re off your rocker with almost everything you say about it!

This isn’t pornographic – sexually explicit, perhaps, but not pornographic. You know there’s a difference!
Also, why should it have a big mature readers label? Books don’t have to do that – even books with photos don’t have to do that.
In Australia, Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psyhco must be sold in shrink-wrap with a warning label, due to it’s sexual violence, but his other books with plenty of detailed sex don’t have any kind of warning on them. (Probably due to the high level of sales American Psycho gets being the only book to require shrink-wrapping! You ain’t no one in your late teens if you haven’t read it!)

If you have no idea what Saga is about, why wouldn’t you let your kids pick it up?

Because you are a responsible parent who’d give it a flick through first?
And if not, it doesn’t seem to matter if there are warning labels or not – there was that comic news stories doing the rounds the other week about a fourteen year old who picked up Alan Moore’s Neonomicon from the library’s adult section, her mother borrowed it out for her as is required when a minor wants to borrow a book from the adult section, and then complained that her child was exposed to the contents of such a book, and there should have been a warning label/system in place to stop the child from being able to borrow the book – which of course ignores that there was.

There’s always the big debate about violence versus sex and why it’s okay that Geoff Johns can decapitate people with impunity and the book can be sold to children, but now that I’ve been a father for a while, I can understand it a bit more: my daughter isn’t really bothered by violence, because it’s easy to tell her that it’s make-believe and that nobody gets hurt.

A big debate? Yeah, there’s always that discussion… and y’know, it regularly comes out in this blog! You’ve often criticized DC for allowing all sorts of violence, but no sex or nudity in their comics.

Your experience with your kids may be different.

Yeah, I don’t read Saga or Preacher with them, that’s for sure.
But I don’t read Optic Nerve or Palestine with either.
Saga isn’t aimed at children in anyway, so why should I be concerned about how they would react to this? It’s sci-fi setting? The Game Of Thrones novels have a fantasy setting, yet aren’t aimed at kids – no warning label there.

Anyway, this is the big scene in the book, and it sucks. I mean, really. Why does it suck? Let’s consider what Vaughan is trying to do with this scene. I really don’t know.

To show that although the guy is an assassin, he still has a code of ethics/morals. As the book says, although he is a monster in one sense, he’s not a total monster.

So is Vaughan trying to make The Will a sympathetic character? Why? He took a job to kill two parents and turn a baby over to authorities who will presumably do horrible things to said baby. He is called a “fucking MONSTER” – there’s very little equivocation there. So why would he draw the line at having sex with a six-year-old?

Because he’s not a pedophile?
Having a sexual attraction towards children is a disorder/sickness, not something for those a little more kinky.
Would it make sense for you if Markham from Near Death used to have sex with kids? Of course not, he’s a hired killer as well.

As for why is he trying to make The Will sympathetic? I think he’s adding a little depth to the character, to make him more interesting. Presumably at some point he will let the family get away, or will stop someone else doing something totally horrible to them – he’s been shown before this to be a little over his profession, or at least not as hungry for jobs as the other Freelancers.
On the other hand, he could be setting us up to think he will let them go, and he won’t, or to make us like the character, so we are left with a moral dilemma when one of the leads kills him (not knowing what we know).

It’s much like you wonder why he would kill two parents and hand the child over to the authorities – well, he doesn’t know their story, and he’s working for the authorities. Everyone seems to think that the two them together is wrong, so this is probably one of the more straightforward jobs he’ll ever get.

? Ultimately, putting your dick in anything and having an orgasm is pretty much the same thing no matter what the hole is, so a six-year-old girl is no different than a grown woman or a grown man or, I don’t know, an apple pie.

What the heck are you talking about?
He wanted a lay, but feels he needed something less vanilla – He probably wanted to be slapped around and called a bad boy – but he still didn’t want to do it with a child, or presumably a goat.

Why would The Will care about the girl? Oh, Saga. Why do you do this to me?

Because he didn’t like the idea of children being sex slaves?
You commented that Vaughn hasn’t show The Will having ethics before… well, it’s only #4, and he’s not the protagonist. This was Vaughn showing us that the character has ethics.

Honestly dude, I think with this ish, you did it to yourself.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to start buying Thunderbolts, this issue should be it. Yes, the name change is stupid. But damn, the comic is pretty fucking awesome.

Ok, I’m going to give it a shot!

I can’t remember a comic not called Atomic Robo that had so much awesome packed into it in a long time.

They had a dollar sale on Atomic Robo on comixology this week! I’ve got so much Atomic Robo it’s coming out my nose!

Travis:

I think another reason I wasn’t as big on Dial H as funky was because when funky went on about how good #2 was, you bought that, but when I went on about how good the Spider 1 was, you didn’t get that. :( sad panda.

You’ve just got to know how to work him Travis! Find the weak spots and attack!
Does this mean though, that you are coming around to the sheer panel by panel awesomeness of Dial H?
I got The Spider #1, and almost left it at that until Greg Hatcher raved about it, so I gave it a re-read and decided to get #2 as well. Haven’t gotten read it yet, but I may as well right now!

Tom: Sorry, Vachss isn’t writing comics – the stories are prose with some Darrow illustrations thrown in.

Travis: I don’t know if PA has the death penalty. He’s guilty, by the way, on 45 of 48 counts. I’m curious about the three counts they didn’t convict on. I’m also curious because I’ve been reading a bit about the trial and apparently the prosecution didn’t have any physical evidence, so they convicted only on the testimony of the victims. They must have been overwhelmingly compelling.

AND YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T TRUST A BIG BUTT AND A SMILE!!!!!!

JohnByrneSaysOnTwitter: That’s a bizarre story about the cover. I was just having a little bit of fun since the last one was also almost all black. I’m a bit disappointed by how he cut it, though, because that seems … I don’t know, odd in some way. Plots are always recycled, so who cares where it came from?

jjc: Well done!!!!

Mutt: As Travis mentioned, Marvel renamed the comic to “Dark Avengers,” which I find stupid. So I’m calling it _____ Avengers, using different languages. “Dunkel” is German, and I think “Tumma” is Finnish, although I don’t know if the adjective changes form based on the plural usage in Finnish. I just looked it up on the Internet, so who the hell knows? As for the “time lost” part, some of the Thunderbolts escaped and tried to teleport and they ended up traveling backward through time. It’s been an ongoing story for some time.

Third Man: I wasn’t sure about Frankenstein, although I did like the first issue. It’s in my shop, though, so I;ll take a look at it when I go in again. I will believe your praise!

I know I gave an issue of Casanova 9.5 stars. I can’t remember which one it was, though. But that issue of Thunderbolts is one of the best single issues of the year so far.

funky: I’ll keep going with Dial H if you keep going with the Spider. #2 wasn’t quite as fuckin’ awesome as 1, but it was still pretty awesome. If you’re digging the Shadow, I think you’ll like the Spider more. I sure did.

Greg: I think PA doesn’t have the death penalty, not positive (even though I’m basically just across the border). I’m not 100% sure NY still has it. But in my view, those kinds of crimes are worthy of it.

Probably got that viewpoint in part from reading Vachss stuff, actually. That Batman Ultimate Evil novel, just the notion of sex trafficking is sickening to me. I actually switched brands of…something (whistles innocently)…because the one kind I was getting was made in Thailand, and Dark Horse/Vachss were promoting the Don’t Buy Thai notion. So I switched to a different brand, that’s made in America, dammit!

Trojan Man!!!

Ahem…

Ben: “Sexually explicit” is different from “pornographic”? Okay.

I do criticize DC for allowing ridiculous amounts of violence but no nudity, you’re right. It’s actually not really about “the children,” it’s about the fact that DC still thinks their books are for children but they have some strange kind of line about one thing and not the other. I think they should give up the idea that their comics are for kids and embrace it all. I also agree that parents should know what their kids are looking at. In a perfect world, no comics would have any labels. I’m a bit surprised, though, that Image puts the “M” on it but makes it so small, and that the comic is so “sexually explicit” as that. I hate to be a Grandpa, but that panel is worse than what you see in Playboy, and the sale of that is seriously restricted. It was more surprise than anything.

I suppose we must agree to disagree about the effectiveness of that scene. I think it was dumb, because it existed only for shock value – “Oh, he’s going to have sex with a 6-year-old!” The moment I saw her, I knew that The Will was going to do something like that, because Vaughan would never have the balls to make his anti-hero – and it’s fairly obvious that’s what he’s going for with The Will – have sex with a little girl. It’s obvious manipulation by the writer – yes, all writing is manipulation, but this is more blatant than most – because now we’re splitting hairs about monstrous people? If The Will is a monster as Hazel says, he shouldn’t have a code of ethics. What are his ethics? He’ll slaughter children (why would the pimp lie?) but not fuck them? You’ll excuse me if I don’t think that’s “ethical.” You liked the scene because it made him sympathetic. I would rather Vaughan show that he’s sympathetic by showing how ruthless he is and then letting Marko and Alana go. That would be a surprise. The scene in this issue basically tells us that he’s going to do something noble, and I’m kind of sick of the noble assassin. I was hoping The Will WOULD be a monster, because he does seem, early on, to be a fan favorite. He’s a charismatic monster, and that’s more interesting than a monster with a heart of gold. Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds comes to mind. He’s a monster through and through, yet he’s so magnetic we feel totally uncomfortable enjoying the performance. Vaughan misses the boat with this scene.

As for the sex part – The Will specifically wants something less “safe.” I’m just pointing out that Vaughan wasn’t showing something less “safe,” but which allows The Will to come out looking noble. The scene is forced and fake because on a weird sex planet like we see Sextillion is, “dangerous” would be something actually dangerous. I agree that pedophilia is a sickness, so The Will wouldn’t be into it, but I don’t think he’d give a shit that someone is pimping out children. Again, it gets back to the fact that Vaughan wants to have it both ways, and I don’t think it works. If you do, great. I just don’ think Vaughan handled that part of the issue at all well.

I always enjoy arguing with you. Some day we’ll have to do it over alcohol!

Greg, always amazed how many of your buys are my buys. Guess we have good taste. I went after someone on Robot 6 over the Saga M rating thing, as they made a similar argument as yours, but with more, “won’t somebody think of the children!” Here is my thing with it: 1) printed by Image (probably not for kids) 2) It is Written by Brian K Vaughan (Y: not for Kids, same Vaughan who did a series about a Pot-smoking mayor) 3) People fuck 4) Parents need to know what their kids are doing 5) It has “M” on it–just not where people would like it…I hope they do a cover that incorporates a giant M in the future.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 23, 2012 at 5:06 am

Mr. Burgas: Thanks for the warning, I might have bought that issue just to read the Vachss’ story. You just saved me some $$$. ;-)

Nice to know, that we can always count on you for an impartial subjective review.

And of course, a silly funny smart-ass ridiculous scorching sarcastic remark/comment from none other than the legendary T.P. to make us smile laugh or groan.

I partly agree with you, Greg. I wasn’t a fan of that that scene either, because it WAS blatant manipulation, but that’s the only thing I agree with you about. Killing and fucking children are both monstrous things but I’m not sure how you can assume that just because someone that would kill for a living and possibly has killed children would then automatically be predisposed to fucking them. And people that fuck children wouldn’t be predisposed to killing them either. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the people that have committed either of those actions have thought “well, at least I didn’t kill/rape them. I’m not THAT bad.” I don’t think that FFJ was saying that killing them but not having sex with a kid makes him ethical, it just shows he does have his own ethical guidelines. Those guidelines are different from person to person, and just because a person is going to do one monstrous thing, doesn’t mean they’ll do EVERY monstrous thing.

My main problem with the scene besides it being manipulative, is it doesn’t make any sense. It assumes that every alien race ages at the same pace and that every alien culture has the same ethical concerns about age and sexuality. And it brings up the question as to whether there is a governing body in space that enforces these kinds of things.

So, yeah, it’s manipulative and puts a big limit to the world building of Saga, in a way that doesn’t make much sense.

Re: SAGA #4, I’d assumed that The Will had been hired to retrieve that little girl — that he went to the Sextillion specifically for that purpose, and that everything he said to the guy who was showing him around was a ruse to get to that specific little girl.

Joe H: THANK YOU. I thought of your “main problem” after I posted this, and I’m glad someone else brought it up. One the issues with Saga is that so far, it’s not “alien” enough. Yes, Staples has come up with some interesting character designs, but everyone acts like a person we’d see around town, down to the slang. Vaughan is trying to build this world, but so far, everyone is far too human. Why would alien races have the same ethical concerns about children? Might that girl not even be a child, but some kind of weird race that ages in a different way? After four issues, the only alien thing about Saga is the way Staples draws the characters, and I do wish that Vaughan would try harder to make it more convincing as something alien rather than just regular people who happen to look weird.

Jay: That’s certainly a possibility. That would lead to my point that if Vaughan continues to show The Will with that girl in the next issue, perhaps it would help clarify the scene a bit more. I don’t know if I’d like the scene any better, but at least I’d understand it more!

jeff: Dang. That sucks. Well, I wish Churilla well in the stuff he’s doing next!

Why are you reading Saga if you don’t like it? Seems silly.

joe: It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s that I’m frustrated by it. Usually with books that aren’t from DC and Marvel, I give them a bit more leeway to win me over, and Saga is only four issues in, and I’m willing to allow Vaughan some time. I know Vaughan can write a good comic, so I think of the initial issues as having growing pains if I think they’re not quite wonderful. As I mentioned, when he’s on, the book is VERY good, so when he’s not on (in my opinion), I struggle with why rather than dismissing it out of hand. I want to like the book, after all, and I do find quite a bit to like about it. Obviously, I’m not going to keep going with it if Vaughan continues to disappoint me, but I am certainly willing to give him some time, and since it’s not a DC or Marvel book (where my tolerance is much lower), I don’t really have a problem with it. We’ll see how I feel after 6 or 8 issues – then I’ll probably drop it if I haven’t fallen in love with it.

I hope Emanuela comes back to X-Factor, but somebody at Marvel noticed how good she is and snatched her up for their next Castle GN. While I’m glad it’ll mean a wider audience and more lucrative work, I’m sad to see her go.

I know that “other side of the fence” feeling all too well. I dropped Batman at issue 8, and yet every issue got rave reviews, especially those following. I always wonder if I made a mistake, but y’know what? I just never got excited to read Batman, and I still don’t really care what happens. Sometimes I read something and acknowledge that it is good, but that doesn’t always justify spending the money every month.

Another enjoyable column Greg – it really seemed like a big week.

I noticed Peter David’s info about choosing the artist too and your comment about editors not editing made me chuckle.

In the last issue did you notice how unzipped Monet’s costume was? That struck me as particularly odd as Monet has been zipped up since Pip called her out on it (which PAD said in a later letter column was an intentional decision as he didn’t like Monet being unzipped). I would expect an editor to have sent that panel back to correct, but apparently not!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 24, 2012 at 12:51 am

Greg, I’m sure a preacher or a parents group activist would argue that there’s no difference between pornography and something being sexually explicit, and it’s a thin line, but films such as Romance, Shortbus*, 9 Songs all feature actual sex on camera, and you see bits go into bits, bits spray on bits and all that good icky stuff, yet the films clearly aren’t pornography, as for the most part they aren’t titillating, nor trying to be.
(Seriously, anyone who can watch Romance the way they watch porn is someone to avoid).
And if someone wants to argue that those films are still pornography, what about Last Tango In Paris, where it’s all pretend, yet still rated ‘Sexually explicit’.
You do raise an interesting point about the rating size – if there’s going to be a rating, and I don’t think there should be but if there is, then there’s no point putting it on the back.

I’m with you on the DC comics not knowing who they are for thing – if they are for kids/teens, there’s probably too much violence and sexual innuendo. If they are for adults, they need to grow up a bit and give us story lines with more depth behind them, and more thought behind the art – y’know, like the non-superhero stuff I read and watch.
I got into superheroes around 11/12, and so in my mind that’s the level they should be written for, maybe up to a mid-teen level – maybe feeling more mature than that, but not showing much more than is appropriate for that age (I thought X-Men comics were well sophisticated when I first read them) – I know I’m indulging in nostalgia when I read them, so I’d be ok with it. (Hell, best Superman comic I read last month was Superman Family, and I’m too old for that shit!).
At the moment, I think they are trying to play it to their perceived audience, teens, and their actual audience, 30/40’s, and it’s having awkward results.

You’ve got me wrong with Saga – I didn’t actually like the scene all that much. I thought it was manipulative, and rather cliché.
Much like you, I knew how it was going to play out the second the kid was revealed and had hoped for a twist of some kind. I think it shows great hypocrisy on the part of the character, but for different reasons – don’t go on a sex tour across Asia or across Eastern Europe, and then play outraged when you find out they were underage or sex-slaves, or that those were about. That’s just being willfully ignorant right up until you can’t ignore it any longer*.
And… it’s meant to show he’s a great guy or make him sympathetic – but when confronted with underage sex slaves, he just killed that one guy. Presumably he didn’t run around freeing every child, or dedicate the rest of his life to freeing kids, he just killed that one guy right in front of him to feel better about it.

I took issue with what you said because I see it as a false dichotomy that just because he’s a hired killer, he would also be a pedophile.
There are plenty of horrible, sick, slimy pedophiles who aren’t killers, just child rapists/wannabe child rapists. And there are plenty of murderers/hired murderers who aren’t pedophiles. There’s no proven, or even suspected, connection between the two.
As for would he care about someone pimping a child – now on that point, I don’t know that he would. Hopefully Vaughn is going to go deeper – there could be a reason The Will acted out – because yeah, if it’s just on principle, I wonder if it makes sense for a hired killer to be that outraged just by the concept of child prostitution going on.

You’re right about the The Will’s stated tastes. It doesn’t really make sense for the pimp to offer him a kid if he wanted something dangerous. I figured from what he was saying he was looking to get punished – I thought we were going to get some insight to the character through him having some weird super-kinky business with an alien dominatrix plant or something. I’d have found that more interesting – as a character piece, honest!
Maybe that pimp was just really bad at his job and that’s why The Will killed him!

Joe H said it all better in a briefer fashion than me, and I agree that there’s a little too much of our world’s everyday in Saga for my tastes… BUT, I’m still digging the heck out of it as a whole.
I really enjoyed the leads having an adult conversation about last ish’s cliffhanger, and I’m interested to see where Vaughn goes having Marko give up his vow of pacifism so soon.
Plus, Staples is killing it on art!

Arguing over alcohol would be good – I tend to find that as I drink, my points get deeper, I make them wittier, and I get better looking!

*Speaking of Shortbus and pay-for-sex-willful-ignorance – the two have an oft overlooked, comic book connection!
You know Chester Brown? You know how he wrote a book about that he thought was about it’s awesome to use prostitutes but everyone else saw it was about how creepy it is to use prostitutes, especially if you’re going to try deny sexual slavery whilst using a hooker who can’t speak English and has a pimp, “Paying For It”?
The girlfriend he lives with at the start of that, who starts seeing someone else whilst living with him, plays the sex therapist who lives in an orgasm free life in Shortbus.
It doesn’t really tie into this at all, but it’s something I realised the other month, and hadn’t really had an avenue to share it before except with people who have never heard of Chester Brown.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 24, 2012 at 12:58 am

Travis:

funky: I’ll keep going with Dial H if you keep going with the Spider. #2 wasn’t quite as fuckin’ awesome as 1, but it was still pretty awesome. If you’re digging the Shadow, I think you’ll like the Spider more. I sure did.

Let’s do it – I’m on-board for at least the first arc of The Spider.
I felt the second issue wasn’t as strong, but the twist at the end was pretty cool. Not as shocking as blowing a kids head up like in #1, but cool none the less.
I do have an issue with those two cliffhangers though – we saw the villain blow a kids head off, so the argument that all she wants to do is clean-up the scum of the city is even more hollow than it would seem otherwise.
Also, we saw her blow a kids head off, so I’m not sure why the character at the end of #2 would do what they do with her.

Jay:

Re: SAGA #4, I’d assumed that The Will had been hired to retrieve that little girl — that he went to the Sextillion specifically for that purpose, and that everything he said to the guy who was showing him around was a ruse to get to that specific little girl.

In #2 he decides to go to Sextillion only after learning that The Stalk is the other freelancer on the case. He’s stated intention is to to use the expense account on sextillion whilst he can, because there’s no way The Stalk will fail to kill a couple and some kids. (He forgot she was scared of ghosts!)

Travis Pelkie

June 24, 2012 at 1:47 am

@funky: I was indeed aware that Chester Brown had been involved with Sook-Yin Lee (that’s the lady’s name, I looked it up), and iirc, Dave Sim did some comic strips about her post-Cerebus/pre-Glamourpuss.

One thing I’m reminded of with this discussion of Saga and intended audiences and sexually explicit stuff is that Rick Veitch once talked about wanting to do something of an X rated type superhero book, but I believe that he drew the line at showing penetration.

I’m just giggly that I get to type that and it’s in context.

As to the Spider, I’m now a bit fuzzy on the details of both issues, as I’ve been reading a ton of other comics in the meantime (in addition to all sorts of real life crap), and I don’t want to get too spoilery besides, so I won’t go into much detail as to what you mentioned, although I think it’s explainable regarding the issues you have with it. I think there might be a thematic thing there, though, that Nietzschean “he who fights monsters”, and the notion of not being able to stop something once you start it, and the behavior of the characters you mention might be a compare/contrast with the Spider. Or something. It made sense before I typed it.

I do know that Liss did a “commentary” on issue 1 for bleeding cool awhile back, but I haven’t read it yet (printed it out and am keeping it with the issue, though).

I’ll keep with the Spider and Dial H even if I have to stop buying all else but my pull list. For now, anyway.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 24, 2012 at 2:31 am

@funky: I was indeed aware that Chester Brown had been involved with Sook-Yin Lee (that’s the lady’s name, I looked it up), and iirc, Dave Sim did some comic strips about her post-Cerebus/pre-Glamourpuss.

Cool! It’s an odd connection and left me feeling weird – I defiently know more about Sook-Yin’s sex life than I should, or intended to!
I’m a little scared to think what sort of commentary Sim had to say about her – the guy is a hell of a comic creator, but well, we all know what he’s like when it comes to ladies.

One thing I’m reminded of with this discussion of Saga and intended audiences and sexually explicit stuff is that Rick Veitch once talked about wanting to do something of an X rated type superhero book, but I believe that he drew the line at showing penetration.

I remember reading, years ago, either just before or just after he took over Avengers, that Bendis had a porno comic he wanted to do when he’d finished at Marvel.
I wonder if he ever still dreams about that one? And if he did it now, how far before the sex started would the book begin?

I think there might be a thematic thing there, though, that Nietzschean “he who fights monsters”, and the notion of not being able to stop something once you start it, and the behavior of the characters you mention might be a compare/contrast with the Spider. Or something. It made sense before I typed it.

I hope there’s something – if it’s a twist for twists sake, it’ll be a little too much.

The books doing a fair bit in this arc, world building and telling a story, so it’s a bit tricky to get a feel for it all – I appreciate them not wasting time/page space, but it does make it tricky to get a feel for everyone and what’s specifically being said, at the moment.

Ben: Oh, I see. Yeah, I didn’t really express that too well, did I? I was trying to point out that we don’t know very much about The Will, and since he’s specifically called a “monster,” I don’t know that pedophilia would be so off-putting to him. If he treats living creatures as poorly as he does in other aspects of his life, why wouldn’t he treat them poorly in this aspect? You’re right, though – just because someone kills people for a living doesn’t make him a pedophilia. I guess I was put off by the description Hazel uses – as we’ve seen over the past few months and especially this week with the Jerry Sandusky case, the word “monster” is used pretty liberally to describe pedophilia, even among (strangely enough) people who think it’s a mental disease. I guess I’ve become inured to assassins in comics, so Hazel’s description of him as a monster made me think he was far WORSE than just a hired killer. I’m too cynical, I guess!

And if we get back to his tastes, the pimp must have wildly misinterpreted him, because if we’re talking about perverse sexual tastes, dominating someone who can’t or won’t fight back seems fairly safe. Extremely icky and horrific, but nevertheless safe. There doesn’t seem to be any regulation on Sextillion, after all, so it’s not like anyone is going to stop The Will.

I see what you’re saying with the distinction between “sexually explicit” and “pornography.” I really had never thought of it that way. I don’t watch enough of either, I guess. Better get on that!

That’s interesting about Chester Brown and Shortbus. I haven’t seen the movie or read the book, and I’m not really sure I want to do either, but that’s a nice nugget of information.

Travis Pelkie

June 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm

hey funky, I had a thought. (Just the one, though)

If Brian’s cool with it, wanna do a back and forth commentary here about Dial H and the Spider, a la Chad and Brian’s BW commentary? It’ll be a bit less controversial (I think…), but it might be interesting.

Of course, I dunno when the next issue of either comes out… but we could do a piece about the issues that have been out so far.

I’ll drop Brian an email later, and if it sounds cool to you, drop him a line and I’m sure he can hook us up through email. Because he doesn’t have enough to do :)

So if the Dark Avengers fought Justice League Dark, maybe in the dark, that would be, um, dark. They could call it “Dark Vengeance.”

I don’t think even Gail Simone wants Misfit back that badly to do THAT crossover….

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 25, 2012 at 1:20 am

If Brian’s cool with it, wanna do a back and forth commentary here about Dial H and the Spider, a la Chad and Brian’s BW commentary? It’ll be a bit less controversial (I think…), but it might be interesting.

Sounds like it could be a laugh!

I’ll drop Brian an email later, and if it sounds cool to you, drop him a line and I’m sure he can hook us up through email. Because he doesn’t have enough to do :)

Sure, although I do wonder if Brian would be interested – he’s already got a bunch of great writers, and Greg(!).
Could do it elsewhere if you wanted?

Not sure how the best way to swap emails on here is without getting inboxes swamped, or breaking Brian’s back – I’ve got a hotmail one based on this username (FunkyGreenJerusalem@) that usually just collects junk mail as it is, If you drop me a line there, I’ll look for it, and I could get in contact with you that way.

The biggest problem with analyzing BKV’s works is that the entire series are often written like one long novel, and thus, it’s very hard to critique anything because the subsequent chapters will reveal more as the story unfolds.

I have faith that the story will reward those who stick with it, despite issues with earlier scenes and unanswered questions.

When I read Saga one of the first things I thought was “the uptights who called the breast-feeding scene in issue #1 gratuitous are going to lose their shit”. Seems I was right.

The only thing that stopped Saga from being the best comic of the week was an EXCELLENT issue of Fables.

I like Thunderbolts (which is what this issue was, not Dark Avengers) but the implication in your review that it was better than Saga or Fables is just… bizarre. (Or Unwritten, whcih was the other great comic this week, but you don’t read it, I guess.)

Rusty: To each his own, I guess. I didn’t lose my shit with the breast feeding scenes, as you’ll notice that the panel I chose shows Alana breast-feeding. So I have no idea why you think I’m uptight, especially because you’ve read my stuff for a while. Fables was pretty good, but just because it was the best issue of this story arc doesn’t make it brilliant. And yes, Thunderbolts was better than either of them.

Stealthwise: I certainly get that, but then Vaughan should write graphic novels. Don’t release things serially if you don’t want things to be criticized serially. I understand that reasoning and I think it’s valid, but I also don’t think that should stop anyone from criticizing a small part of it. I’m currently reading Crime and Punishment for the first time, and 100 pages in, I’m ready to give up on it, because Raskolnikov is just so annoying. That’s a novel, but I’m criticizing it based on a short section of it. That’s the way it is!

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