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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 15 August 2012

“Stories have no point if they don’t absorb our terror.” (Don DeLillo, from Mao II)

What are the odds of her falling down right in front of tiger graffiti???? This is a good cover because at first glance you might not notice how nasty it is! Man, that's busy It's back! ... and then, it's gone again No, that's not an Adam Hughes cover She fears ... the reader! Yeah, I have no idea what the crap is going on here Farewell, Pigs! Because that makes sense! Um, spoiler alert? Darwin really ought to pay attention to the giant floating wolf head behind him There really is a pretty decent in-story reason that we get to see that magnificent ass! I now own three copies of this! Gabriel Hardman is good, yo! Yay, another printing! I keep hoping these will be great! More sexytime comics! Well, this looks ... weird Will it get good again????

This is the most I’ve spent on comics in a single week in a long, long time, if not the most I’ve ever spent on comics in a single week (I’ve been buying comics weekly for almost 24 years, so I can’t really say if it is or not), and I don’t really care all that much even though it was a bit of sticker shock when the guy rang me up. I don’t spend a lot of money on anything else, so I never feel like I need to curtail my comic book spending too much – I probably should, but it’s not like I’m not buying food if I spend a lot on comics. I spent $211 on comics this week (my retailer gives me a 20% discount on everything I buy … well, not just me, but everyone who comes into the store), and I consider it money well spent. You may disagree! I do hope that next week is a bit, you know, less.

I also decided to do something different with the panels this week. Instead of panels I consider “Airwolf,” I used completely random panels. I simply closed my eyes, flipped through the issue, stopped and pointed, and whatever my finger landed on, that’s the one I used. I did get some nice panels, but I also got some weird ones. Just for fun!

Avengers Academy #35 (“Final Exam Part 2″) by Christos Gage (writer), Andrea Di Vito (artist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I’ve been trying to ignore Marvel’s policy of double-shipping except in the occasional snide remark, but it really is starting to affect my enjoyment of the comics themselves. I buy three Marvel books in single issues, and each one has had issues with this policy. Thunderbolts has managed it the most effectively, I think, because Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey have been able to keep up (Shalvey is off the book now, but prior to this) and when they couldn’t, someone at Marvel was wise enough to put artists on the book whose style was similar to theirs (Matthew Southworth, for instance). X-Factor has managed slightly less effectively, but usually the book has been able to keep an artist on for an entire arc, mainly because David tends to write short arcs. Finally, there’s Avengers Academy. The book is already pissing me off (despite its quality, which I think has remained relatively high) because Gage, despite what appears to be his desires, can’t keep it from brushing up against stupid crossovers, and even though I disagree with Mr. Chad about the whole “Emma Frost kills Juston’s Sentinel” story, I do think the book suffers whenever Gage is forced to acknowledge the greater events of the Marvel Universe (as well as he wrote Absorbing Man and Titania, I don’t love the “Fear Itself” story arc, and I liked the “Avengers Vs. X-Men” one even less). But despite that, I could deal with the crossovers because Gage is writing an interesting story. However, recently he’s had to deal with an artists’ parade that’s worse than X-Factor‘s, and I honestly don’t know why Tom Grummett drew one (1) issue in a row before Di Vito had to spell him (Gage simply writes in the back that Grummett and Hamscher jumped ahead to “crush” issue #37). I mean, I know he has his fans, but Grummett always seemed to me to be notable for one thing: he could work fast. I don’t expect him to pencil all 658 issues of Avengers Academy that come out in 2012, but one in a row? I’m not even blaming Grummett all that much, I’m blaming Marvel and I’m blaming the consumers. Marvel is, presumably, responding to consumers, who want anything with “Avengers” or “X” written on it as much as possible. But sales continue to plummet, Marvel is rebooting in the same way as DC is – i.e., not learning a damned thing and just renumbering – and this whole thing is vaguely distasteful. Am I alone in thinking that I really don’t want this many issues of a certain title in a year, especially if the artist changes every single issue? It’s bizarre that artists are treated so shabbily by Marvel and DC, because the last time I checked, comics were a visual medium. I don’t know – I’m just rambling. I do know that I saw Di Vito’s name on the cover and cracked this open and thought, “Fucking really?” Not because I love Grummett and hate Di Vito (they’re both decent if largely nondescript artists), but because I really think this policy makes these comics even more ephemeral than comics usually are. I know not many comics become classics that people want to read over and over, and I know Marvel and DC don’t really care about that, but if they didn’t, why would they treat some of their older stuff with such reverence? Can you imagine a Marvel Masterworks of Avengers Academy in 50 years? I can’t, because it has no visual identity. It still has a bit of potential, and the fact that it’s as entertaining as it is is a credit to Gage, but with a few exceptions, it’s junk food comics. I like junk food comics sometimes, but it’s kind of depressing that it – and a lot of Marvel’s output – has been willfully turned into junk food comics by this weird shipping policy. And I eat enough fucking junk food.

Sigh. Oh, yeah, this comic. Stuff happens. You know, like it does.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

Owwww!

Bad Medicine #4 (“Killing Moon Part 2 of 3″) by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir (writers), Christopher Mitten (artist), and Bill Crabtree (colorist). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

Presumably Douglas E. Sherwood lettered this, but the only credits are on the front cover, and he’s not listed. Hey, fuck that guy, right? He’s just a fucking letterer. They could train a marmoset to do his job!

I don’t really have much to say about this comic right now. It’s a decent horror mystery comic, and DeFilippis and Weir are good at writing that sort of thing and Mitten is good at drawing that sort of thing, so it’s entertaining. If Mitten has a weakness, it’s emotions, so a few pages of this, where the characters need to express their feelings non-verbally, aren’t as strong as they could be, but then werewolves show up and everything’s all right again. Sorry, that’s all I got. It’s an entertaining comic.

I have no place else to mention this, so I’ll do it here: the last comic Weir and DeFilippis worked on, Frenemy of the State, was co-written with Rashida Jones. She was on The Daily Show a few weeks ago and said she was busy adapting it into a screenplay. This seems like the most heinous example of “I’m going to write a comic to use as a screenplay,” but I think we can forgive Jones because she actually does write screenplays, which makes me think she actually helped write the comic instead of just having her name on it as “Idea person.” Plus, she’s so darned cute. How can you stay mad at her?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

Poor Mitten - always drawing werewolves getting shot!

Batwoman #12 (“World’s Finest 1: Blood Ties”) by W. Haden Blackman (writer), J. H. Williams III (writer/artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Williams is back on the art for Batwoman, so I assume people are going to start buying it again. It’s odd that when I claim comics are 65% art, that’s a controversial statement, yet apparently a lot of people are buying this strictly to look at Williams’ pretty pictures. I’m not judging – buy this comic for the art if you want! It is, after all, pretty fucking gorgeous.

Two things bug me about the writing, though. One is Wonder Woman’s narration. I know that she’s going to narrate like some archaic Greek character, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. “I place my sword on the breast of Gaia … and vow to hunt down the serpentine and destroy them. In her name and mine.” Really? I mean, if someone speaks like that, it’s … different, somehow. It’s still goofy, but it’s tough to imagine someone thinking like that. But whatever – it’s Wonder Woman, so I guess we have to live with it.

Then there’s the parents of the missing children. You know what, drawings of people who don’t exist? Fuck you and your fucking problems. Williams and Blackman want us to sympathize with them because it’s been “months without answers” and their non-white children haven’t been found yet and Maggie Sawyer is a shitty cop, but fuck them. She tells the parents that they know she hasn’t given up because she talks to them every day, and they basically tell her to fuck off. I really fucking hate the “if this child were yours” defense, because it’s completely specious but enables you to sound like you fucking care more than other people. Fuck you, Isabella and Felipe. I know that your kid is going to show up safe and sound because this is a mainstream superhero book and nobody would have the fucking stones to slaughter the children, but you don’t fucking deserve it. Oh, you want instant results? You want instant gratification? Congratulations – you’re true Americans. The cop working on your case is killing herself to solve it AND making sure she keeps you in the loop? She can go fuck herself, I guess. I wish Maggie and Gordon had told Felipe and Isabella to go solve their kid’s disappearance by themselves and see how well they would do. Fuck them.

Yeah, I’m bitter. That was a really annoying few pages, because it’s cheap manipulation that doesn’t advance the narrative one bit. Maggie could easily be stressed just by the case when she throws Kate out of her apartment instead of having parents shit all over her. Williams and Blackman have actually been doing a decent job making this mystery stretch out somewhat organically, and I’m surprised I’m not sick of it yet. This is why I wouldn’t want to be a cop. You’re fucked if you do and you’re fucked if you don’t. Sigh.

Still, it’s a nice-looking comic. There is that.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

J. H. Williams III = Awesome

Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker #8 by Joe Casey (writer), Mike Huddleston (artist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

For the final issue of Butcher Baker, Casey and Huddleston have a treat for us: There are 113 panels in this comic book. There are penises (usually more than one) in 30 of them. Yes, a bit over a quarter of this comic has dicks in it. In fact, this issue caps off (so to speak) a series in which, I would bet, more dicks were featured than any non-porn title in comic book history. That’s pretty impressive.

You really should get the hardcover of all eight issues if you’ve been skipping the single issues. Huddleston continues to be at the top of his game on this issue, and Casey gives us a satisfying wrap-up that ends, no lie, with an orgasm. You know, like all comics should! This is sheer insanity in comics form, and while Gødland will probably end up being deeper and more meaningful, Butcher Baker is the most balls-to-the-wall thing Casey has written in a while, if not ever. It must be the shades.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally random panel:

I'd tell you what's going on, but then your mind would be blown!!!!

Elephantmen #42 (“Sleeping Partners Part One: The Seed of Opposite Species”) by Richard Starkings (writer), Axel Medellin (artist/colorist), and Dave Sim (artist). $3.99, 34 pgs, FC, Image.

There are five pages of Dave Sim’s art in this comic. Ebony Hide is dreaming, and he’s back in his barbarian world from a few issues ago. Sim draws him crouching in the snow holding a sword. It appears that Sim drew one drawing of an elephantman crouching in the snow and holding a sword, and then Starkings just used that single drawing and showed different parts of it (close-ups on the eyes or the hand holding the sword, for instance). It’s pretty impressive. Did Sim get paid a page rate, or did he just get paid for one drawing? It’s a nice drawing, but come on!

Medellin is back on art, in a story that will apparently have a great deal to do with Sahara’s pregnancy, Panya’s pregnancy, and Vanity getting closer to Ebony. It’s a lot of set-up, but Starkings does end with Hip going into the sewers and finding a clue to the murders of elephantmen, so there’s that. As usual with this series, Starkings is writing both a fascinating science fiction thriller but also confronting some of society’s deepest issues before they become issues. He actually quotes the Human Chimera Prohibition Act of 2005 in great detail, which is very interesting because it’s a law that anticipates something. Creating human chimeras isn’t actually possible yet, but it’s already been banned. Starkings, as usual, is examining what happens to our definition of human when creatures created in a lab are unleashed on the world. It’s been a theme throughout the series, but now that sex has entered the equation a lot more, Starkings is doing a nice job bringing this theme to the fore. It’s just one reason why Elephantmen continues to be one of the best series you can buy. It’s true!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

It's clever allusion!

Fatale #7 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), and Dave Stewart (colorist). $3.50, 27 pgs, FC, Image.

It’s Brubillips, so you know – there’s some nastiness, Josephine once again turns men into pudding even though she tries not to, and the weird shit in 1970s Hollywood keeps being weird. It’s well done, and it’s intriguing, and it’s very nice to look at. I’m a bit surprised that Suzy is jealous because Miles has fallen under Josephine’s spell, because it’s the 1970s in Hollywood, man! Shouldn’t she care not at all, or ask to join in? Wasn’t everyone banging everyone else with no fear of consequences? That’s what I remember from my parents’ Saturday night parties! Oh, wait, did I type that out loud? Never mind. Carry on.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

Dum-dum-DUMMMMMMM!

Hellblazer #294 (“The Curse of the Constantines Part Two: The Writing on the Wall”) by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouter), Stefano Landini (finisher), Brian Buccellato (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Seriously, Simon Bisley, that’s totally fucked up. Dude.

So not only does Milligan reference a long-ago issue of Detective Comics he wrote (okay, not really – he’s just referencing the same legend, but I wonder if he remembered writing about the hungry grass as a Batman story), he has Epiphany placate a ghost with chicken tikka. Because Epiphany is awesome. Oh, and John does some things, too. I mean, who really cares, right? Epiphany calls a place a “skanky old field covered with dog-turds and rubbish,” which isn’t quite as glorious as the episode of Better Off Ted where a typo in a company memo allows everyone to swear at each other (watch all the best NSFW parts here; it’s only two minutes long, and you won’t regret it), but it’s not bad. Seriously, DC – you can kill John Constantine off all you want, but if Milligan and/or the editors of DC kill off Epiphany, I will cut you. I’m totally cosplaying her at Comic-Con next year, you see if I don’t!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

Yeah, you got problems, dude

Pigs #8 (“Everything”) by Nate Cosby (writer), Ben McCool (writer), Will Sliney (artist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

I mentioned a few months ago that issue #8 would be the final one of this series that I bought, but I didn’t expect it to take so long to come out. It’s still the final issue of the series I’m going to buy, however. It’s actually not a bad issue, as the prisoner explains what’s going on with the group (perhaps it took so long because Cosby and McCool rewrote it to answer some questions because people were getting grumpy about not knowing), but it’s just not enough to keep me going. It’s an intriguing idea that never really took off after that first pretty cool issue. Oh well. Farewell, Pigs!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

Why is his face gray?!?!?

Saga #6 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (artist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

I will, however, be sticking with Saga, even though it’s still not thrilling me. I just don’t know what it is. I’m not a devoted fan of Vaughan – I think Y: The Last Man is vastly overrated, for instance – but I do like his writing, but something about this just isn’t working for me. It’s weird, because I notice weird annoying stuff in this book perhaps more than I do in other comics, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m predisposed to find it and ignore in other books because on a gut level I like them better. Like Alana telling Marko that Hazel can just “stew” in her dirty diaper (even though it turns out to not be a dirty diaper). As someone who’s still changing diapers even though neither of my kids are babies, I really feel uncomfortable with this – I try to change my daughter as soon as she poops, and when I can’t, I feel really bad. See? This thing is one panel, and it’s not even that Hazel has pooped, because she hasn’t. But stuff like that gets under my skin with this book, and I wonder if it’s because I haven’t loved it from the get-go. If I thought the first five issues were like the Holy Grail of comics, would that one line bother me so much? I doubt it.

Other than that, this issue is … okay? Things happen, our heroes fly away in a rocketship made out of wood (yes, really), The Will is pissed off, and the smartest man in the universe writes romance potboilers. I don’t know – it’s mildly entertaining, and Staples’ backgrounds have been getting better (strangely enough, as the book is taking a two-month break so she can get more lead time, so presumably she’s been pushed pretty hard recently even as her backgrounds have gotten better), and Vaughan still knows how to structure a comic so that it ends on a moment that almost demands you come back for more, but … something is missing from this book. For me, it’s the thrill factor. I know it’s there for some people (I imagine that Kelly, who’s too high and mighty for our little blog anymore now that everyone in the known universe contributed to her Kickstarter project, still loves this comic, and more power to her), but it’s not for me. I can point at nitpicky things that bother me, but I imagine people can nitpick some of the comics that do thrill me. That’s just the way it is. I know that people have been writing about how Vaughan is bringing back this sense of science fiction grandeur to comics, but I just read the forty-second issue (or forty-third, maybe – there was an extra issue in there somewhere, and possibly two) of a science fiction comic that blows Saga out of the water and has been bringing back a science fiction grandeur to comics for years now. So there’s that.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

Oooh - tough guy!

Obscuri Ultores #179 (“Gods & Monsters”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Kev Walker (artist), Frank Martin Jr. (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Parker is finally pulling the threads together, as the future Thunderbolts find out that whatever the Fauxvengers are doing in the present causes the future in which they currently find themselves. Walker has a lot of fun designing all these mutants who live outside of the protected zones of Mega-City One (whoops – I mean Mondo City, of course), and Hernandez is a good choice to take over the “present-day” sections of the book, as his style is similar to Declan Shalvey’s but isn’t just the same. I don’t quite know why the cover gives away the ending – that’s Sultan Magus behind Skaar, and he’s just turned him human. This scene happens at the very end of the comic, which is quite odd. Yes, I know I just gave it away even more explicitly, but Thunderbolts doesn’t rely on cliffhangers like the end of Saga does (can you believe __________ and __________ showed up at the end of that issue?!?!?), so I hope you’ll forgive me. It’s still a typically good issue of Thunderbolts, and Clor gets a strangely touching moment in the middle of it all. What’s that all about?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

Women go weak in the knees for Hyde!

X-Factor #242 (“Breaking Points Day Two”) by Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Lots of things were on my mind when I read this comic, and very little of them had to do with this particular issue. Oh, it’s fine enough – Darwin is trying to kill Rahne’s kid because, you know, it’s a comic book, and that white wolf chick from the other dimension tries to rescue him and then Rahne and Rictor and Shatterstar show up and people get stabbed and Darwin shoots a big honkin’ gun while holding it with one hand in the best Liefeldian tradition, and we move on. Guido has an “X” through his name on the recap page because he’s no longer on the team (although we still don’t quite know what happened to him), and I assume next issue Rahne will have one as well (not because she’s dead – cool your jets!). David is slowly tearing the team apart, and I suppose, being David, he’ll put it back together with Jamie (I have a feeling Jamie will be the last man standing, because clearly David sees him as the rock of the team) and some others. Maybe Boom-Boom? Only if she totally wears this costume, though.

Anyway, that’s not what I was thinking about. You see, a few days ago I read John Seavey’s post at Mighty God King about giving up on a creator. Seavey was writing about giving up on a creator because their views about the world (political, mostly) don’t align with yours, or at least are so out of whack with yours that you can’t overlook it. The usual suspects came up – Orson Scott Card being the most common one, perhaps because so many nerds of my age read Ender’s Game when they were but lads and are really disappointed that Card turned out to be a homophobic asshat. It’s an interesting discussion, even though I don’t really have a dog in the race, because my sole criterion for determining whether I stop reading someone’s work is whether the work sucks or not. Yes, I still read Card books for years after I found out he was a homophobic asshat. Anyway, Peter David’s name came up in the comments thread, as a few people won’t read David’s work because of the scans_daily kerfuffle (David writes about it here, and MGK himself wrote about it, and I’m linking to that mostly because I like the term “dumbassopalooza.” (Some guy named Cronin wrote about it too, but we certainly don’t want to give that dude any publicity!) That seems like a really dumb reason to not read a guy’s work, but hey, I have a dumb reason for my Mark Millar boycott (I boycotted him when he could still be called “good,” not when he started to suck), so whatever floats your boat. But I was thinking about that while I was reading this. I was also thinking about the obituary heard ’round the comics blogaxy, as Alan David Doane obituaried Joe Kubert by calling him a “scab” for working on Before Watchmen and comparing him to Joe Paterno, who he says “perpetrated” the “covering up of child abuse.” I’m not even touching that one, as my feelings about the misinformation about the Jerry Sandusky thing is well know, but man, ADD – comparing a guy working on a comic book to a theoretical person who covers up child abuse? That’s pretty low. Doane apologized for that but didn’t really retract his statement too much, and that’s fine. I think if you’re going to write an obituary, everything in the person’s career is fair game, and Kubert certainly worked on BW with his eyes open, but Doane seemed a bit harsh. Anyway, he’s very strident about never reading anything by any creator who worked on BW ever again and even retroactively going back and looking at their old work in a new light. Man, that’s a lot of effort. (ADD took down the obit, but he “apologized” for it here, and Vinnie Bartilucci parses the obit here and here, in case you’re interested.) As you might recall, I’m avoiding BW because it sounds like a terrible idea, and from what I’ve read in the reviews, I was correct to skip them (Colin rips Rorschach #1 and Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo new assholes in this post, and it is glorious). I don’t like that DC is doing Before Watchmen because it’s a dick move, but it gets back to what I’ve mused on before – where do you draw the line? Are you ever going to find a creator who completely aligns with your beliefs and has never made a mistake in judgment or taken a gig just for the money or accidentally killed a Thai prostitute? I doubt it. If the work sucks, don’t read it. Nothing else really matters. Chuck Norris is a raging asshole politically, but I know someone who recently went to his UFAF convention in Las Vegas and said he was totally involved in all the events and was a hell of a nice guy. Neither of those facts is going to stop me from watching motherfucking Delta Force, because it’s fucking awesome!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

Sack up, kid!

Zorro Rides Again #11 by Matt Wagner (writer), John K. Snyder III (artist), Mike Malbrough (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

I was wondering where issue #10 of this series was, and it turns out I missed it when it came out. Dang it. That’s okay – I’m sure I can find it, and while this issue was a tiny bit disjointed as a result, it wasn’t that bad. There’s still the female Zorro (Zorrina?) wandering around being all hot-blooded over vengeance, there’s still that crazy dude who wants to kill our hero, and there’s still Zorro. It’s still drawn very nicely by Mr. Snyder, and it’s still entertaining if slight. So, yeah. I’ll still track down issue #10, but it’s odd how little I missed it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:

Sexy time with Zorrina!

The Art of War by Kelly Roman (writer), Michael DeWeese (artist), and Jason Arthur (letterer). $22.99, 346 pgs, BWR, Harper Perennial.

This came out a couple of weeks ago, and I have forgotten to mention it. But now it’s arrived in comics shoppes, and I won’t forget! I reviewed the uncorrected proof here, and it’s nice to see it in glorious black-and-white-and-red. This is still one of the strongest graphic novels I’ve read this year, so if you’re interested, give it a look.

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes by Corinna Bechko (writer), Gabriel Hardman (writer/artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $14.99, 88 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Gabriel Hardman is a good artist. I know, we break the big stories here at Comics Should Be Good!

Green Lantern/Green Arrow by Dennis O’Neil (writer), Neal Adams (penciller/inker), Dick Giordano (inker), Frank Giacoia (inker), Dan Adkins (inker), Berni Wrightson (inker), Cory Adams (colorist), Jack Adler (colorist), John Costanza (letterer), and Joe Letterese (letterer). $29.99, 361 pgs, FC, DC.

I wonder if the back-up story in Flash #226, which doesn’t feature Green Arrow, is being reprinted for the first time here. I wonder that because the other stories have a much flatter color process, while the story from #226 is more in line with the way Adams has been recoloring his Batman stuff recently. Has it been reprinted before? Does anyone have it in any other reprint format?

Hulk Season One by Fred van Lente (writer), Tom Fowler (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $24.99, 99 pgs, FC, Marvel.

While the Marvel “Season One” graphic novels have been okay at best so far (well, the ones I’ve read), I will say that Fowler’s art on this looks superb. That might not be surprising, because Fowler is good, but it’s really excellent, and I’m glad he’s doing it on a fairly high-profile book.

The Manara Library volume 3 by Milo Manara (artist) and others. $59.99, 266 pgs, (mostly) BW, Dark Horse.

Lots of collaborations with Federico Fellini in this book. It’s beautiful, of course, and it looks far weirder than the first two volumes of this library collection (I skipped the first “erotic” volume, because that’s just not my thing). That is a good thing.

The Red Diary/The Re[a]d Diary by Teddy Kristiansen (writer/artist) and Steven Seagle (writer/translator). $29.99, 143 pgs, FC, Image.

I wrote about this book when it came out, and it bears repeating: Teddy Kristiansen created a comic called Le Carnet Rouge. Seagle wanted to translate it, but he spoke neither French, in which the book was published, or Danish, into which the book had already been translated. So he used a technique he came up with in college – he looked at the Danish and came up with the word he thought it resembled in English, whether it was an actual translation or not. This is a flip book, so the art is reprinted twice, with two different translations – one is Seagle’s using this technique, and the other, I assume, is an actual translation from the Danish into the English. It’s quite odd, but I’m really looking forward to reading this. Seagle and Kristiansen collaborated on It’s a Bird …, one of the best graphic novels of the past decade or so, and even before that, Seagle was writing stuff like Solstice, which is also brilliant. Seagle’s the kind of guy who seems to do poorly on big-time superhero stuff but kills it on non-superhero stuff, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Plus, of course, the book looks beautiful.

Uncanny X-Force volume 4: The Dark Angel Saga Book 2 by Rick Remender (writer), Jerome Opeña (artist), Esad Ribic (artist), Robbi Rodriguez (artist), Dean White (colorist), Jose Villarrubia (colorist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), James Campbell (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $19.99, 124 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Hey, Jerome Opeña’s back. How nice!

**********

I was watching a clip from Letterman the other day, and as I’ve never actually watched an entire show of his nor have I heard him in a while, I was shocked by how old he sounded. Maybe he was feeling under the weather, but he sounded almost like he was cackling. He’s 65, which isn’t all that old, but he sounded 90. Does he always sound like that these days, or was this a particularly bad day? Does anyone watch Letterman regularly?

Those people who thought I was trying too hard to take potshots at conservatives last week will want to steer clear of FotB Rob Schmidt on Facebook. He’s my friend, and I’m glad, because he’s relentless about linking to interesting news items, all of them attacks on conservatives, even over stuff I think is not really something we should be ripping conservatives for. But that’s not the point! A few days ago he linked to an article about a new law in Nebraska requiring schools to set aside time to say the Pledge of Allegiance. That was very weird, mainly because I wasn’t aware that there are public schools in this country that DON’T say the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m not getting into the whole “pledges of allegiance are how the Nazis got started” rhetoric that some people have been writing – I would imagine other, non-Nazi countries have pledges of allegiance without turning fascist – but I’m just surprised about the lack of it in public schools. My daughters both say the Pledge in their schools, I said it when I was growing up, and I just asked a 28-year-old if she said it growing up, and she did. So is it up to states these days? Is it up to school districts? I actually had to say it the other day at my daughter’s school’s parent organization meeting, and as I am a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, I simply omitted the “under God” part. I’m just very curious about this – did any readers not have to say it when they were growing up? Do any of you have kids who attend schools where it’s not said? It’s very interesting to me. I’m just wondering what the big deal is. I said it every school day for 12 years and it didn’t turn me into a “my country right or wrong” zealot. Maybe that’s because I have a brain and can make up my own damned mind about this country.

In funner news, here are the 10 greatest television appearances by the cast of The Expendables 2. If you’ve blotted Bruce Willis shilling for Seagram’s Wine Coolers from your brain, well, too bad. The highlight has to be Ah-nold in The Jayne Mansfield Story (with Loni Anderson!), but Stallone on Kojak is pretty good, too.

Finally, watch the “trailer” for Ghost Tits. It’s a hilarious send-up of conspiracy thrillers. And Olivia Munn is there, too.

It’s late on Thursday, and as I’m busy Friday, I want to get this posted tonight, so I’m skipping my iPod songs and Totally Random Lyrics. Plus, this week my iPod has been weirdly bland. I like the songs, because I like all the songs on my iPod (they wouldn’t be on there if I didn’t), but there’s been a lot of Prince, Genesis, Indigo Girls, and Pearl Jam in bunches for the past few days. “Shuffle” my ass, iPod! Maybe next week the songs will be more interesting!

Have a nice day, everyone, and I hope you’re all well!

22 Comments

I agree wholeheartedly with your spiel in your Avengers Academy review and double-shipping is definitely the culprit. I can honestly say that double-shipping is the thing I hate most about Marvel right now. Yes, even more than the $3.99 price-tags. It’s just ridiculous what it does to the artistic consistency of the book.

I see you are picking up Uncanny X-Force in trades. Well, get ready for an artistic rollercoaster. X-Force double-ships quite a bit and so you end up with a ludicrous and utterly random rotation of artists. I mean…they’re all good…but they’re also wholly different from one another, no matter how hard Dean White tries to disguise it. It also leads to shameless false advertising: the current arc, Final Execution, was heavily advertised as being a Rick Remender & Mike McKone jam. And who doesn’t love McKone? Well, Mike McKone drew one issue of the arc and doesn’t appear to be coming back. It’s pathetic.

Imagine how incredible this is going to look when collected:

issue #25: Mike McKone
Issue #26-27: Phil Noto
Issue #28-29: Julian Totino Tedesco
Issue #30: David Williams
Issues #31-32: Phil Noto

I mean come on!

I’m in my 20s, in elementary school we had to put our hand on our hearts and recite the pledge. However, by middle school I just stood up and listened to the pledge (without putting my hand on my heart) and this continued throughout high school (it was too early in the morning for me to be fully awake). I don’t know what the school’s policy was but none of my teachers complained about the fact that I just stood and listened instead of reciting. I don’t think it hurts the kids to recite the pledge, but I don’t think schools should force kids to say any of the pledge. I’d say they can force kids to be quiet during the pledge out of respect, but I don’t think they should have to say it.

At my graduation, the guy who was leading the pledge omitted “under God” and emphasized the next word “indivisible.” This drew some boos and jeers from the crowd (during the pledge itself). I found this amusing.

I also have never been able to get into Vaughan’s comics. I only read the first volume of Y: the last man, because it was so highly praised, but I did not like, and I do think it’s pretty overrated.

That Better Off Ted clip was hilarious, thanks! It just proves my theory that any mentions of felching make everything funnier.

I completely agree with you regarding giving up on a creator just because they don’t agree with you 100%. Sometimes it can reach some silly extremes. I once read a comment on a fantasy blog where a guy decided not to read a book by an author (which he’d already bought), because said author had given an interview where he mildly criticized another writer that the commenter liked. So even though he’d already given the writer some of his money by buying the book, he thought he was somehow punishing him by not reading his book. It just made me shake my head.

I also think Y: The Last Man is a bit overrated, mostly because of its final third. I thought the early issues were amazing, though. I share your feelings about Saga, but I know what my problem with the series is: I just can’t care about the two main characters.

I seem to be enjoying Saga more than you are, Greg, I think this is a pretty great action/drama comic, but I do agree that this is hardly bringing back “science fiction grandeur to comics.” There are plenty of comics that are doing sci-fi much better than Saga is. Staples is doing more of the heavy lifting when it comes to the sci-fi aspects than BKV is. And that’s okay, BKV should stick to his strengths, which are the personal moments, like when Marko accidentally mentioned his fiancee’s name while he was unconscious. And those were the best parts of Ex Machina and Runaways too. And yes, I do agree that Y: the Last Man is overrated. I think Ooku is a much better and smarter comic about what effect would occur if a majority of the men would die out

Y: the Last Man started off very well and ended very well, but God, the pacing in the middle there.

Here’s the thing with these double-shipped books. Look at DC. DC doesn’t double-ship their books, and those books STILL can’t hold an artist past six issues, for the most part. Now, if Marvel double-ships a book and can’t hold an artist for THREE issues instead of those six, how much artistic consistency are they really sacrificing? Before visual consistency was a huge problem, delays were a huge problem (remember how everyone noticed Kitty Pryde’s absence in X-Men appearances after the last issue of Cassaday’s Astonishing was supposed to come out?), and while both of those affect the reader’s enjoyment, only one of them affects the bottom line. Has Marvel gone too far in one direction with the double shipping? Certainly. But at least it lets them put a lot of good artists on books that will sell. If they had one book for every artist they were regularly employing–even just the good artists–they’d run out of marketable properties and half of those books would be getting cancelled every month. What sort of solution do you propose?

I don’t think Marvel Now! and the DC-boot are really comparable at all, despite one being a direct response to the other. The New 52 was a major change-up in their marketing structure, for good or ill (ill, as it turns out). Marvel Now! is just a big advertising push behind their regularly scheduled spring cleaning, and they’ve been pretty up-front about this, calling it a “new season” and stressing that this is basically just the next step in how they’ve been doing business for the last ten years or so. You may not be happy with that, but they’re standing behind it in a way that I think is a lot more honest than what DC did. Plus, just, you know, I think Marvel has a lot more talented people working for them right now, and I’m more excited to read their comics.

Alex: Man, that’s a messy schedule for the X-Force issues. The Dark Angel Saga (book 1) was like that, too, and that sucks that it hasn’t gotten any better. Oh well – I have a while to decide if I want to get the trade, so I’ll see where the book is going!

sandwich eater: I definitely agree that schools shouldn’t force kids to say the pledge, but I think making them stand quietly isn’t a big deal. I was just surprised that there are schools that don’t even have time for it.

Pedro: Better Off Ted was a great show. ABC didn’t know what to do with it or where to put it, so it died fairly quickly, but it was really funny.

See, I actually like Marko and Alana. It’s the other characters I don’t really like yet!

Joe H: As I just noted above, I do like Alana and Marko and think Vaughan has gotten much better writing their dialogue. And I also agree with you that Ooku does a better job with the premise than Y does.

Elpie: That’s true, but the speeded-up schedule seems to make the turnover much higher and the “fill-in” artists (who aren’t really fill-in artists) much more frequent. Yes, delays were a big problem, but that’s what I mean with looking long-term – I will bet Astonishing X-Men is much more “evergreen” because Cassaday did the whole thing and it feels more like a complete artistic vision rather than something cobbled together to meet a schedule. There has to be a happy medium, and I don’t think Marvel is even trying for that. When Daredevil launched, Rivera and Martin had similar styles, so the idea of putting them together was a good one. Marvel couldn’t keep either of them, but at least they thought to have two similar artists on the book. Just throwing artists at random books doesn’t seem like a very good idea, and it does make the comics worse even if they’re on time. Sure, what happened with Civil War or Astonishing X-Men is ridiculous, but again, I wish there were a happy medium. I know certain fairly detailed artists who can pencil, ink, and color a book in a month, so the fact that a lot of Marvel and DC artists don’t ink (I know a lot of them do, but not all of them) or color a book makes me wonder why they can’t keep up with a monthly book, at least for 6-10 months.

Like I said, I would love if Marvel tried to find a middle ground. But they don’t.

I think the only reason Marvel isn’t doing a complete reboot is because they want to claim they still don’t need one. Remember, DC’s thing wasn’t a “reboot” either. I think they’re both full of it.

I do agree that Marvel tends to have more talented people working for them these days. I do like their comics more than DC’s right now, but I still think both companies can do better with handling their artists. But that’s just me.

I’m nearly 40. I barely remember saying the pledge of allegiance in school. Pretty sure it was done during at least some of elementary school, but I’m also pretty sure it wasn’t done at all in the last years of high school.

Weren’t there some lawsuits over the “under God” part? Over separation of church and state, and the religious inequality of how the pledge pushed Christianity and ignored other religions? I know there were plenty of arguments for and against both “under God” and just using the pledge at all.

And yes, Better Off Ted was a great show. It was also a show that was doomed from the start, as network television in general didn’t know what to do with shows like it. It wasn’t quite Arrested Development or Community (which also meant it wasn’t going to develop critical acclaim and the support of a rabid niche audience), but it had that non-standard attitude that networks don’t know how to deal with.

I really enjoyed this Hulk Season One graphic novel for quite a few reasons, more than I can get into right now. If they were all this good Marvel would be raking the money in. Unfrotunately that isn’t the case.

As the Thunderbolts are phased out and the Dark Avengers take up more time I am losing interest in Dark Avengers. That’s sad because so far I’ve been able to reliably pick up anything by Jeff Parker and enjoy it. Hopefully when the Dark Avengers get more time they will also finally get some development and depth. Heck, Parker made me like Red Hulk and Gen. Ross, so miracles can happen.

I don’t have the GL/GA book in front of me. But if you are referring to the story where Hal eats some bad mushrooms, then yes, it has been reprinted in previous editions. But I don’t know why the coloring is so different on that one.

Greg:”There’s still the female Zorro (Zorrina?) ”

Female form of Zorro (fox) in Spanish is zorra ; of course, zorra does have certain unfortunate….connotations in Spanish.

Sandwich eater’s pledge experience is much like mine was in NYS schools. I’m amazed there’s anywhere it’s not compulsory. Especially in Nebraska. I wonder if it’s one of those laws that don’t really need to be enacted — it’s not like that never happens.

I probably shouldn’t tell you that bleedingcool sez that Avengers Academy ends with 39, huh?

As to the Elephantmen Dave Sim story, that’s the one that was in the HERO Comics 2012 (or the Liberty Comics, I’m not sure). From what I saw of it, I think Dave probably did one base image, then manipulated it in certain ways (there’s definitely snow added in different images). So while it looks like “not much” was done with it, I think it was a little more than just one image.

If Marvel (or DC) ARE going to double ship that often, perhaps they could coordinate things a ways ahead of time and let their writers know, so they might be able to plan either shorter arcs or done in one issues so the artistic changes aren’t so awkward. That would require editors to, y’know, edit or plan rather than shill “product” online, though.

Jeremy: So I am, unfortunately. I’m still seeing where Parker goes with it, but I don’t know if I’ll stick with it if the DA become the only stars.

Ben: Thanks. That’s the one. I figured it had been reprinted, but I wasn’t sure. Yeah, it beats me why the coloring is so different.

trajan23: I didn’t look it up, but given that the Latin would be “zorra” as well, I thought it might be that. I just thought Zorrina sounded better!

Travis: Well, if AA is cancelled, that takes care of that, doesn’t it? And I missed the Sim story when it was first published. I was just joking a bit, because it’s obvious the snow is different, but I still think it’s the same image manipulated a bit. And yes, that would be nice if editors could edit occasionally. Think of the possibilities!

Tom Fitzpatrick

August 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm

“Just for fun!” — Hey, you’ve always been a fun guy, even when you respectfully disagree with us! ;-)

Didn’t “Hyde” get killed off in vol. 2 of the LOEG? Damn, guess “dead” doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn anywhere, eh?

We had PoA when I was in school, all the way through. When I started realizing atheism I just kept my mouth shut in that part. I will say however, toward the end of my schooling I did really start to resent having to say it at all and sometimes just stood there.

I think the reason Conservatives push for manditory things like that is just so they stand in the way of progressives.
They assume a backlash against the loyalty oath because it has been challenged, like all of 3 times sucesfully, and therefore it is an “attack on American Values”(TM).
It’s bullshit of course, but it is that dedication to rigid thought that has given the right wing such a string victories over the past 25 years.

Also, Alec Baldwin’s podcast (see the link attached to my name) did a longish interview w/ Letterman a couple months back. I love letterman; saw the firt broadcast of his original Late Night show, but the man IS tired and just not invested in his show anymore. Considering he’s been at it over 30 years, I’m actually fine with that, but I can’t watch him work–I spend the whole time compairing him to the hungry shark-like inovator he was.

The interview is really worth listening to though, for some of the stories about his early career and his outlook on life today.

Totally agree about the double-shipping nonsense, Gteg. When it starts affecting the books deletariously there is no good argument for it, as previously good books often suffer and lose cohesion. As an aside, Gage saying Grummett will “crush” #37 is just fucking *annoying*, no offence to the pleasant-seeming Mr Gage but enough with hipsterisms! Gah, this is just my pissy aggravation with most people sounding the same now showing through, sorry! The “awesomes”, the “dudes”, the “seriouslys”. Aaaaargh! Whew, insanity is bad, kids! Don’t try it!
I *love* the Elephantmen cover, that’s just great. As always, Greg, that was a funny informative column. Bravo.

Thanks, Hal. I will try to keep MY “dudes” to a minimum! :)

While the artistic inconsistency inherent in double-shipping does automatically handicap a series from becoming a classic that stands the test of time, Avengers Academy struggled to keep a regular artist from the start.

Here’s a rundown of the artistic history of the book, only looking at pencillers:

[Artist – Issue #]

McKone – 1-4, 6, 8, 9
Molina – 5
Raney – 7, 11, 12, 15, 16, 19, 20, 23
Chen – 10, 13, 14, 14.1, 17, 21, 22
Di Vito – 18, 35
Grummett – 24-26, 29-31, 34
Moline – 27, 28
Green – 32, 33

Mike McKone, who was the initial artist on the series and presumably had more lead-time than any other penciller listed, was only able to draw four consecutive issues, and that is somehow a record for the title. It’s been artistic roulette ever since.

Marvel may have wizened a bit to the realities of double-shipping, as they announced four artists attached to Hickman’s Avengers up front: Jerome Opena, Adam Kubert, Dustin Weaver, and Mike Deodato Jr. Ideally, this set-up will result in one artist per arc, which is far more palatable than random one-off fill-ins as needed.

However, the November solicits also revealed that a number of other Marvel NOW titles will double-ship, at least initially. While the subsequent artistic rotation might not matter on a series like Iron Man, which Gillen is writing as a set of done-in-ones, Aaron’s first arc on Thor: God of Thunder is five issues. Ribic was unable to keep pace with the shipping schedule on the relaunched Ultimates series, resulting in fill-ins by Brandon Peterson. Will he be able to draw the entire first arc of Thor, given the accelerated schedule? Why would Marvel shoot itself in the foot right out of the gate? And, whom have they tapped to fill-in as needed and/or draw the second arc?

BTW, looking at his picture, I think I totally saw Joe Casey doing porn. He’s puttin’ it all out there for creator owned comics, baby!!!

Being used to a monthly schedule the double shipping does feel a little strange. Normally after four weeks I’m starting to wonder about and anticipate the next issue (like where is Chew 28?), but with double shipping I am not missing the title before the next issue is out. I don’t like the inconsistent art either. Titles like Daredevil and Winter Soldier handle it very well, but the rotating art helped my decision to drop X-Factor last month. By the way, I only dropped it last month and there are three more issues out already!

Your random panels thing worked well I think. Most were not out of place for airwolf panels.

Wow $211 is a lot of money for a week’s comics – I thought I had a big week with six comics at £10.44!

I got three new comics + issues 52-54 of Scalped which finally came out digitally. Scalped blew the others out of the water. Why they haven’t been releasing Scalped the same day digitally I don’t know – I’m missing out even more than I remembered. Hopefully the rest of Scalped will come out next week so I am up to date for the finale – then I can read your comments on it rather than looking at your star rating and whimpering.

When I saw Butcher Baker in the top and then that you were doing a random panel thing, my first thought was “I bet there’s a pretty good chance he gets one with a dick in it.” But 1/4 is actually not that bad… and it might be a little lower than that, since I think a lot of those panels are small, and by the finger pointing method you’re more likely to hit a big panel.

Mecha-Shiva: Yeah, I’m a little disappointed I didn’t hit a panel with penises in it. I mean, Butcher is naked in that panel, but you don’t see anything. I thought I had a better shot, but when I counted, I was surprised that only a quarter of the panels actually had dicks in them. I guess when there are three naked protagonists, you think there are more panels, when in fact, many of them have multiple dicks in them!

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