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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 10 October 2012

And all the time, like pipes dripping, weakening and preparing to burst in the attic, around the house hearts were slowly breaking while nothing was being said. (Hanif Kureishi, from The Buddha of Suburbia)

She commands you to buy this book! That's a weird John Paul Leon cover Run, nerd! This is a weird-ass cover That can't end well Where's the action, man! I really have no idea what's happening on this cover Kelly's head just exploded Well, if Kelly's head didn't explode before, it might have right now! Gosh, the art's cool Hey, it's a Jeff Amano sighting! It's all signed and shit! Dang, this looks cool APES!!!! Angry monsters!

Halloween Eve by Brandon Montclare (writer) and Amy Reeder (artist/colorist/letterer). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC, Image.

This year Halloween falls on a Wednesday. Wednesday is New Comics Day. This comic is a one-shot about a young lady working in a costume store the night before Halloween. This comic was shipped to comic book stores for sale on 10 October. Does anyone else see the silliness of this scheduling?

Anyway, I guess Montclare and Reeder funded some (all?) of this through Kickstarter, so good for them! It’s the story of a worker bee named Eve, who works at the aforementioned costume shop, and it’s the night before Halloween. Eve is, to put it mildly, a bitch. She’s a Halloween Scrooge (as a Halloween Scrooge myself, I can relate), so she’s bitchy about having to wear a costume on Halloween, about having to work late the day before Halloween (as people are waiting until the last minute to buy their costumes), and, it seems, about life in general. She’s rude to Raymond, her co-worker, just because he’s … well, it’s unclear why she’s rude to him. Her boss is a little bit of a tool, but mainly because he knows the store will be really busy and he’s, you know, trying to run a business. He dresses Eve down after the store closes and “volunteers” her to clean up the story after hours, and so she’s at the store alone late at night. Then the book gets weird. Eve starts hearing voices and seeing things, and eventually she stumbles into a magical world where it’s Halloween all the time. It’s kind of a Oz adventure crossed with A Christmas Carol kind of story, and you can probably figure out how it ends.

Montclare’s story isn’t very good, unfortunately. He makes Eve so bitchy that her transformation feels forced and quick (a consequence of the comic’s length, naturally), and I didn’t really care anyway. The life lessons she learns in Halloween Land are so trite and are delivered so bluntly that comes off as pabulum because Montclare doesn’t sell it – again, perhaps because of the length. I don’t love Montclare’s actual writing (as opposed to his plotting), but it’s not terrible, and I wonder if this would have been better as a graphic novel or a mini-series, so we can get to know Eve and her co-workers a bit more and spend more time in Halloween Land so the life lessons aren’t so blatant. I guess, given that the creators had to go to Kickstarter for funds, they really couldn’t expand it too much, but the story is just not that good.

If you’re going to buy the book for any reason, it would be Reeder’s tremendous art. I wrote that when she was working on Batwoman, she was not helped by the weak inks, and in this book, that’s not really a problem. Her line is still thin and even delicate, but her inks and colors add nice heft to the pencil work, and the book is absolutely gorgeous. She does marvelous work with Eve’s facial expressions throughout, and the weirdness of Halloween Land is amazing. Reeder uses “special effects” well but not obnoxiously – the glowing lanterns at the fair and the fuzziness of Eve’s perspective when she wakes up are two examples, as they fit into the story but don’t call too much attention to themselves. She does some nice work with layouts, keeping us moving around the page but never confusing the flow. I haven’t seen everything that Reeder has drawn, but this is the best work from her I’ve seen.

It’s great that Reeder and Montclare were able to fund this sucker (the project is still up if you want to see some of the artwork), but I do wish it was better. Oh well.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

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I dig the way this image is smeared

The Massive #5 (“Black Pacific Part Two of Three: Antarctica”) by Brian Wood (writer), Garry Brown (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I’ll keep saying this until this book works for me (or until I just can’t deal with it anymore), but something about it is just not clicking with me. Most of this issue is perfectly fine – Mary and Ryan, another volunteer on The Kapital (and a female – I’m really old-school with this, and wish that girls wouldn’t have boys’ names and vice versa), hike to a station in Antarctica where they can find fresh water, which is kind of important. Of course, because it’s so important, other people have found it, and they’re not too nice. One thing I like about Wood’s writing is he doesn’t often follow the expected path, so this book is not about Mary and Ryan figuring out how to fight the bad guys, it’s about Mary’s survival skills and how she inspires Ryan to survive as well. It’s a nice character study even though there are guys with guns. And Brown’s art, while not quite as sharp as last issue’s, is nice. He gets across the scary situation Mary and Ryan find themselves in very well, and while drawing Antarctica can’t be too hard (lots of white, damn it!), the double-page splash page when Mary and Ryan find the station is very cool, getting the epic expanse of land that is the continent. Plus, Wood doesn’t really write much about the Crash, which is nice. The less said about that, the better.

So why aren’t I on board more? Well, it’s only one issue, and it’s not like it’s too brilliant. It’s a solid comic and it portends well for the future of the book, but we’ll see. Wood also takes some time at the beginning to bash the United States, and that kind of bugs me. I like it less when British writers do it, and Wood is American himself, so that’s fine, and I’m certainly willing to criticize my country as much as the next liberal, but it always seems to rub me the wrong way. I guess because international politics are so complex that for Mary to say to Ryan that “America … is at the root of a lot of misery around the world” just seems … facile, I guess. I mean, of course America is responsible for a lot of horrible shit in the world, but for a book about environmental disaster, it seems like China and India would be bigger villains that the U.S. If the U.S. sucks so much, why is our immigrant population three times greater than any country in the world (and about the same as the next five countries combined)? People are still coming here. Why, if we’re so evil? This isn’t to say that this is Wood’s position – the dude lives in Brooklyn, so he obviously digs at least some of this country (the hipster part!) – because he is, after all, writing a character who seems a bit confrontational, but still. Mary’s statement comes early in the comic, and it bothered me for the rest of the issue. I don’t know – I’m probably thinking too much.

But this is a pretty enjoyable issue overall. It’s probably the best issue so far, so that’s a good sign. As usual with books like this (i.e., non-Big Two comics), I will give this some time to win me completely over, and we’ll see where Wood continues to push the book.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

You should probably heed her advice

Morning Glories #22 by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (artist), Alex Sollazzo (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $2.99, 28 pgs, FC, Image.

Spencer has reached a point with Morning Glories where I’m not completely sure what the heck is going on, but I’m willing to trust him. I mean, I know what happens in this issue – the new kids take Hunter to … someplace (I’m pretty sure I know what Spencer is implying that it is, but I don’t want to give it away), but how this fits into the overall narrative … well, that’s anyone’s guess. Plus, we always tend to end on a cliffhanger, and while some of them are pretty cool (people you don’t expect getting shot, for instance), I’m not sure about the effectiveness of this one, mainly because I’m not sure who that is. Is that … you know? Again, I don’t want to give it away, but while I think I know who it is, just having to wonder about it lessens its impact a bit. But that’s okay – so far, Spencer has done a really good job keeping the plotting tight, so I’m willing to trust him.

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By the way, does anyone know if the languages the kids speak are correct? I think Irina’s German is correct, but I’m not positive. I hope Spencer didn’t just run English through BabelFish and instead actually found people who speak the languages to translate for him, but who knows.

As for the artist … ho hum, another 28 pages for Joe Eisma. And as usual, it’s nothing fancy but it’s good, sturdy comic book work with some nice surprises. Eisma keeps on keeping on, and I hope that Spencer gives him a five-minute break every once in a while so he can plunge his drawing hand into a nice bucket of tapioca pudding to soothe it. Mmmmm … tapioca pudding.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, well, he doesn't think highly of you, either

The Order of Dagonet #1 by Jeremy Whitley (writer) and Jason Strutz (artist/letterer). $4.99, 45 pgs, FC, Action Lab Comics.

So, this is a weird comic.

Here’s the plot: For some reason, fairies return to Britain, led by Titania and Oberon and Puck. Titania starts defending Epping Forest (why not?), Oberon takes over Parliament, and Puck interrupts a staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Neil Gaiman must be pissed) and kidnaps the queen. So Merlin collects three famous Englishmen and tells them that they need to save the realm. The three blokes are Dizzy Claiborne, an aging rock star; Gene Everyman, an author of a series about a boy wizard; and Sir Tottington (I can’t find if he has a first name), an aging gay actor. Obviously, they’re supposed to be Ozzy Osborne, possibly Neil Gaiman (the wizard connection is to J. K. Rowling, of course, but it’s a guy who bears a vague resemblance to Gaiman), and Ian McClellan. They’re joined on this quest by Laverne, a sassy black woman (imagine that!) who was working at the bookstore where Gene was doing a signing before he learned of his quest, and an Elton John character with whom Sir Tottington has a rivalry. The big joke is that they’re members of the “Order of Dagonet,” which was created by Edward VIII when he decided to start knighting entertainers – he needed some justification for it, and he named it after King Arthur’s jester. So these are entertainers who have been knighted, and they’re the only ones who can save their green and pleasant land.

Whitley’s basic plot might not be too original, but the idea that the knighted entertainers actually serve some function is clever, and he adds a lot of humor to the book. Some of it is obvious, but some is pretty clever. One of the best bits is Claiborne’s dialogue, which is largely impenetrable, much like Ozzy’s. Overall, however, it’s a decent enough set-up, and the fact that Whitley gets it all out of the way in the first issue (granted, it’s a long first issue, but still) is appreciated.

Strutz, meanwhile, has an unusual style. It’s cartoony, but very detailed, and it appears he draws in chalk – there’s a lot of thick, scratchy lines and the colors are bright and rough. A few of his page layouts are, unfortunately, hard to follow – he tries too hard to be inventive – but for the most part, it’s an interesting-looking book. He’s better with the crazy stuff like the fairies doing wacky things, but he’s not bad with the regular folk. He focuses a lot on the characters, so the scenes aren’t set as well as they could be – presumably because Strutz doesn’t know what certain cities really look like, so he makes them fairly generic and gets to the characters as quickly as possible, but it does make the book the smallest bit claustrophobic, which is unfortunate in an epic like this.

I don’t know how this is going to be an ongoing – the Order of Dagonet could easily deal with a lot of different villains, but it does seem like this might have a limited shelf life because the joke can’t continue too long. We shall see, though. This is a pretty good way to start, though.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

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Oberon decides to kick some ass

Point of Impact #1 (of 4) by Jay Faerber (writer), Koray Kuranel (artist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, BW, Image.

Jay Faerber, undaunted by the cancellation of Near Death, brings us his latest project, which is a murder mystery. That’s it. There’s no twist (yet), there are no aliens (yet), there’s no big conspiracy (yet) – it’s just a murder mystery. A woman is thrown off a building and lands on a car (people always fall right in the middle of the roof, strangely enough). Her husband, a reporter at a newspaper, arrives home to find a man breaking into his house. The man steals a laptop and informs his employer that he has the laptop. The reporter – Mitchell – doesn’t even know his wife is dead yet, but the cops arrive right after the burglar leaves and tells him. He was able to rip part of the burglar’s sleeve off and see a distinctive tattoo on his arm. Of course, his wife was having an affair, and her lover calls her to find out where she is, and the cops now have that information. Of course, the lover has the same tattoo on his arm. Dum-dum-DUMMMMM!!!!!! It looks like some kind of armed forces tattoo, though, so that’s not any kind of conclusive evidence.

Faerber tells the story in a very straight-forward fashion – it’s linear, and it doesn’t appear to have too many hidden clues (unless they’re hidden so well!), and Kuranel is a solid artist, so it’s certainly not visually confusing. Why should you buy this, then? Well, murder mysteries are fun, for one thing. Comics have the potential to be the best medium for doing murder mysteries, as I’ve long argued. And for ten years, Faerber has been doing his own thing for Image and doing it really well, so his track record suggests that this will be good, too. It’s not the greatest first issue in the world, but it’s an intriguing one, because Faerber simply lets the “facts” speak for themselves. He doesn’t try to be too cute, he doesn’t try to dazzle us, he just presents this case. The “twist” in the book is that Faerber is planning on showing the crime and the life of the victim from three different perspectives – obviously, the first two are the husband and the lover, but the cop who takes lead on the case knew the victim, too, and although she claims she wasn’t a friend, just someone she knew, presumably we’ll find out more about the relationship in upcoming issues. So this first issue is very much to establish the characters and the crime – it doesn’t need anything else, really.

I don’t love this first issue, but that’s because it’s very clearly the first chapter of a four-issue comic. I’m sure Faerber will be sad if you wait for the trade on it – the dude needs to eat! – but I imagine it will read better all at once. But for what it sets out to do, this is a solid beginning. I’m very keen to read the rest of it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Say it with me: That's gonna leave a mark!

Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #2 by Greg Rucka (writer), Matthew Southworth (artist), and Rico Renzi (colorist). $3.99, 23 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

Meanwhile, Rucka and Southworth’s mystery continues apace, as Dex clashes with an agent of the DEA, has a chat with another member of the band who seems to dig her, confronts her client about her client possibly lying to her, and finds something disturbing in her very house! Rucka has easily moved right back into Dex’s head, and as I noted last time, when he’s good, he’s very good at writing naturalistic dialogue – the characters exposit, but they do it so naturally that we almost don’t notice it. Nothing feels forced, so even as we’re getting a lot of information, it comes at its own pace. Southworth, meanwhile, is still doing his thing – Dex and David’s eye-fucking is really well done in this book, as Southworth, more than Rucka, lets us know that they’re totally digging each other. Renzi, the third musketeer, does a fine job with the colors – it’s particularly interesting that he colors Mim’s basement orange, like her hair (which changed color since issue #1), implying that it’s kind of her sanctuary. Little things like that stand out, making the book even more interesting than it already is.

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I don’t know what to say. Stumptown is a good comic book. You know it’s true!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dex should go to Cheers - everyone would know her name there!

Think Tank #3 by Matt Hawkins (writer), Rahsan Ekedal (artist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, BW, Image/Top Cow.

Hawkins shows off a little in this issue, as it’s all about David rescuing the girl (Mirra) and escaping from a high-security military installation, and Hawkins has him do it using all sorts of nifty toys. Hawkins writes in the back matter about all the toys David uses, and he provides links on the Intertubes to all of it, so I guess they exist in some form or another, which is pretty neat. It’s an elegant plan and it goes almost perfectly (the book ends on a cliffhanger where we find out that the plan might not have worked as perfectly as David thought). After the first two issues, which featured a bit more about David and his moral dilemma, this issue is a very nuts-and-bolts issue, as David narrates all the cool stuff he does and we just follow along. Ekedal continues to illustrate it very well, although I still don’t like how he makes David’s hair look all greasy. It’s just … icky.

But yeah – if you’ve read the first two issues, this continues to be pretty neat. If you haven’t and you happen to pick it up, it’s a nice caper comic, with David playing Danny Ocean, always one step ahead of the authorities. It’s a pretty good comic.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hey, now - that's just inappropriate!

Uncanny Avengers #1 (“New Union”) by Rick Remender (writer), John Cassaday (artist), Laura Martin (colorist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

The big release this week, I guess, is Uncanny Avengers, the first Marvel NOW! book, as Marvel … does something non-rebooty with their line (“Don’t call it a reboot! I’ve been here for years, rockin’ my peers and puttin’ suckas in fear, makin’ the new creators rain down like a monsoon, listen to the comics go BOOM!”) and shuffles the deck a bit. I have a pile of credit at my comic book store, so I decided to read every first issue of the Marvel NOW! books (yes, I will always use the capital letters and the exclamation point, and I will always shout the “NOW!” whenever I say it, because I’m annoying). It won’t have quite the impact of the DCnU books, because they’re not all coming out in one month, but I’m curious about how Marvel rebrands itself … even though this isn’t a reboot. It really isn’t, after all, even if we make fun. These are the same characters they’ve always been, and Uncanny Avengers flows out of the events of AvX, which still sounds terrible but which apparently successfully resolved several long-running Marvel plot lines. And all it took was a company-wide crossover with 23 different writers!

Anyway, I imagine you know the deal with Uncanny Avengers. Captain America wants to have mutants in the Avengers because Cap always has his eye on the marketing possibilities – whoops, I mean Cap realizes that he and Iron Man were kind of douches to the mutants and he wants to move forward in a new spirit of cooperation, so he enlists Havok to be in the Avengers. Yes, this involves inviting him for coffee while Thor talks about how much he prefers lattes, a panel I really thought was Photoshopped by clever bloggers when I first saw it (because I couldn’t believe how dumb it was). Meanwhile, a sinister villain operates on a brain (on the comic’s first page, because we can’t have a comic unless it begins with a gruesome image of someone cutting apart a brain!) and places something in the patient’s head. We find out that the patient is Avalanche, who attacks New York, causes some damage, and then escapes before the nuAvengers can capture him. Meanwhile, Rogue shows up at Xavier’s grave to berate Wanda, who insults her right back, but when they start to fight, a bunch of weird characters appear and attack them, eventually dragging them both away. Finally, the mystery villain is revealed to be the Red Skull, and he’s stolen the body of Professor X and is going to do something nasty to his brain. Oh dear.

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Uncanny Avengers is kind of a dull superhero story, unfortunately. I mean, yes, Cassaday is really good, but he can’t keep up a monthly book, so who knows who will be the back-up artist. Marvel is really pumping up the “cult of the writer” recently, even more than the Big Two have done for the past 30-40 years or so, so whoever’s drawing the book has become almost incidental – this month we might get excellent Cassaday artwork, and next month we might get … Mark Brooks, I guess (Brooks is certainly not bad, but he’s pretty bland). So it’s almost pointless to write about Cassaday’s artwork – I know it’s good, you know it’s good, and Martin’s colors are wonderful, but it’s not going to last too long. Such is life in the new comics landscape, where artists working on superhero books need a break every three months but someone like Rob Guillory draws AND colors 29 issues in 38 months (and took some time off when his wife had a baby) or someone like Joe Eisma (see above) draws 22 issues (most longer than 22 pages) in 25 months or someone like Brian Hurtt draws 23 issues (with two fill-ins, true) in 29 months. Yes, I’m bitter. But we can’t really judge whether Uncanny Avengers is worth buying based on Cassaday’s artwork, because we know it’s not going to be around very long and this story appears to be very decompressed.

We can, however, judge it on Remender’s story, which is pretty lousy. We get the first page, where the Red Skull soliloquizes about how mutants were just following their evolutionary imperative, and then we get Logan speaking at Xavier’s funeral and saying how disappointed Xavier would be in all of them. I’m not going to harp on the fact that funeral scenes in superhero comics are jokes because nobody stays dead, but Logan’s speech is pretty trite, which I would hope is the point (eulogies tend to be trite, unfortunately) but probably isn’t. Meanwhile, Alex visits Scott in prison, and again we get some tough-guy posturing from both of them – Scott because he “solved” the mutant problem, Alex because he’s Mr. High-and-Mighty about how Scott betrayed Xavier. So far, we’re eight pages into the book and the only important thing we’ve learned is that someone evil is doing something nasty to brains. Then Avalanche shows up and, in Mighty Marvel Manner, slaughters a bunch of people and somehow is able to not get stomped by three powerful superheroes. Now, granted, Thor rescues a bunch of people instead of zapping Avalanche with a lightning bolt, but why does Captain America get Havok to launch him at Avalanche instead of asking Havok to blast Avalanche from afar? In one of the funnier moments in the book, Alex manages to change his clothes in less than 30 seconds – it’s clear he’s not wearing his costume underneath his clothes, so he takes time out from rescuing people to actually get out of his street clothes and into his costume. Then, Rogue and Wanda are attacked by some ridiculous villains who are called, I kid you not, the Goat-Faced Girl, the Living Wind, the Insect, and two other people who remain unnamed. The Goat-Faced Girl, somehow, cancels powers out. That’s always handy. Finally, Marvel figured out a newer way to ruin comics: the “Augmented Reality” icon. I don’t even want to get into that, I’m so angry about it. Maybe later.

Why is this book lousy? Remender appears to be writing a Silver Age/Bronze Age comic without all the Silver Age/Bronze Age storytelling techniques. So he has the villains at the end actually announce their names and powers to Rogue and Wanda. It was stupid back in the day, but with the loss of the omniscient narrator and thought balloons, it’s even dumber, because writers today try to be as “naturalistic” as possible – they often fail, but still – and that means losing great chunks of the narrator explaining things to us and getting rid of thought balloons. That’s fine, but it means you can’t have characters say shit like “Your foul ‘gifts’ fail as you suffer the gaze of THE GOAT-FACED GIRL!” To his credit, Remender does bring thought balloons back in a way – he uses narrative boxes to show the thoughts of a few characters like Cap, Havok, and Wanda, but it’s half-assed, so it comes off as a parody of those earnest Claremontian comics that we all know and love. The tone of comics have changed, so it’s very hard with such fine line artwork and digital coloring and lettering in a comic to write it like a 1970s comic, and if you’re going to, you have to go whole hog, I should think, which means long narrative boxes explaining everything that happened in AvX, for instance, and thought balloons. I don’t think that’s the best way to go, but the clunky way Remender does it makes it more parodic than anything. The style of the writing clashes so much with the tone of the book and the style of the artwork that the book feels like more of a mess than it really is, because it’s a very straight-forward superhero book.

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I imagine this will be a big hit because of the cast, the artist (at least for now), and because Remender has a bit of a following. Oh, and because Marvel is pushing it so motherfucking hard. But Remender has never quite pulled it all together (for me, at least), and Cassaday won’t be on the book for long, and once his regular schedule starts slipping, who knows if he’ll come back at all? So while this book will probably sell pretty well, it’s not really successful creatively in the short run or, probably, in the long run. But at least it’s kewl, right?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Not the Cassandra Toxin!

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

Wagner finishes his epic run on Zorro without really resolving anything, mainly because he can’t. Zorro can’t die, of course, because he’s Zorro. Wagner wisely doesn’t give the villain – El Galgo – a big ending, because Wagner is clever in this regard – Gonzalez is somewhat pathetic, so Zorro barely considers him a villain at all, pitying him more than anything. The entire second half of this story is about Lady Zorro, who’s far more bloodthirsty than our hero, and Manly Zorro’s attempts to stop her and convince that maybe killing everyone isn’t the right way to go about thing. It’s 19th-century mansplaining at its best!

Zorro Rides Again was never quite as good as Wagner’s first spin with the character, but it’s solid, entertaining comic bookery. It got better when Snyder came on board, because his artwork was so much distinctive than Esteve Polls’, but overall, it’s been pretty good reading. The biggest problem with licensed characters in general (and it appears that Zorro isn’t in the public domain, although it’s a bit unclear) is that you can’t really do too much with them, because they can’t change too much. That’s fine to a degree, but once you reach a certain point, there’s just nothing to do with them anymore. I think Wagner has reached that limit, and that’s fine. Like I wrote, this is entertaining if not all that great. You kind of get what you expect, which isn’t a bad thing.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Damn straight!

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade by Allan Heinberg (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), and way too many others to mention. $29.99, 227 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Damn, Jim Cheung is a good artist. That is all.

Divine Wind by Jeff Amano (writer), Julian Totino Tedesco (artist/colorist), and Bill Tortolini (letterer). $8.99, 80 pgs, FC, Kickstart Comics.

Jeff Amano isn’t the greatest writer, but he’s usually entertaining, and Tedesco is very good. I don’t mean to pick on anyone, but I will never understand people who read something from Marvel and rave about the artist (in this case, Tedesco), but don’t go get the creator’s stuff that isn’t from the Big Two. If you love Tedesco’s work on X-Force, why not check this out?

Finder: Talisman by Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist). $75.00, 93 pgs, BW, Dark Horse.

You’ll notice that this list price is $75. I did not pay $75 for it, however. I pre-ordered this, because I like supporting McNeil’s series even though I’m not completely in love with it. It’s my choice! Dark Horse offered a normal trade for 20 dollars, and I pre-ordered that. They also offered this one, which is a hardcover and is signed by Ms. McNeil. I did not pre-order this one, but my retailer accidentally ordered it. I told him I didn’t want to spend $75 for it (I want to support McNeil, but not that much!), so he decided to sell it to me at cost, which was $36. It’s still more than I wanted to spend, but he’s a good guy, and I can forgive a mistake every once in a while. Plus, it’s nice-looking book – I don’t think it’s worth $75, but it might be worth $36. So that’s my tale. Aren’t you glad you read my reviews?

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Haunt volume 4 by Joe Casey (writer), Nathan Fox (artist), John Lucas (artist), Fco Plascencia (colorist), and Comicraft (letterer). $14.99, 122 pgs, FC, Image.

Are Casey and Fox still doing Haunt? It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve seen an issue solicited. I wouldn’t mind if this trade is the complete story, but I was just curious. If Chad still did Random Thoughts (first he turns off the comments, then he stops doing them at all!), he could ask Casey. I mean, I suppose I could e-mail Casey if I really wanted to, but that would be work. Greg no like work!

Planet of the Apes volume 3: Children of Fire by Daryl Gregory (writer), Carlos Magno (artist), Darrin Moore (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $14.99, 88 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

I don’t have anything clever to say about this. It’s a good comic.

Valentine volume one: The Ice Death by Alex de Campi (writer), Christine Larson (artist/colorist), Cassandra James (artist), and Tim Durning (colorist). $24.99, 331 pgs, FC, Image.

This is NOT the comic Alex de Campi was working on with Jimmy Broxton, which fell apart. Just so you know. This is about soldiers in 1812 Russia who find out that monsters are lurking in the woods. Apparently some of it takes place in the modern day, too. That’s weird.

I also bought Building Stories by Chris Ware. It’s … impressive. I haven’t broken the seal on the contents yet, but here’s the packaging:

My awesome assistant could barely pick it up!

Here’s what it looks like inside the box but still pristine:


So I’ll get around to “reading” it at some point. Stay tuned!


I’m a bit late this week because it’s Fall Break (in my day, elementary school kids didn’t even have Spring Break, much less Fall Break, consarnit!) and so the kids are home, plus my mom is in town, so I have a lot of distractions. Plus, I kept getting distracted by LINKS! As it’s Halloween season, it’s time to check out ridiculously stupid “sexy” costume variations. Like “Sexy Bert and Ernie” (oh yes), “Sexy Honey Badger” (what?), and “Sexy Gizmo”. Yes, the gremlin. You can’t unsee it! And speaking of girls in costume, there was a big video game convention in Russia recently, and many scantily-clad young women attended. Of course they did!

Not too long ago I listed my ten favorite hair metal videos, and I wish this countdown had been up at the time. It’s the 8 “most important” hard rock music video babes of the 1980s (in honor of David Lee Roth’s 58th birthday a few days ago, and doesn’t it seem weird that Roth isn’t older than that?). Not surprisingly, more than a few of them were in Playboy. Yes, Tawny Kitaen is on the list, as is Bobbie Brown, which gives me a weak excuse to post this .gif (which I stole from the post in question):

Any reason is a good one to post that!

I also got sucked into mental_floss’ web site, which is never a smart thing to do. I read the magazine but try to avoid the web site, because it’s easy to lose hours reading their lists. I did find a couple of neat links: Some common television and movie clichés that would never happen in real life and the names of fictional characters who don’t get named very often. Some of those are fairly well known, I think – most nerds know Comic Book Guy’s real name, and Shaggy’s real name is pretty commonly known, isn’t it? – but they’re still fun. I read some other articles there, but had to leave before I was sucked into the vortex!

Here’s a .gif of Kathie Lee Gifford dropping a puppy on its head. Poor puppy!

Finally, there’s a documentary about Colombians having sex with donkeys. The trailer doesn’t show anything too shocking, but apparently the movie is very controversial. I mean, it would have to be, right? The best part is that Colombians encourage men to have sex with donkeys so they don’t become homosexuals. We can’t have that!

Since my mom is here, I’ve been driving around without my iPod plugged in, so I haven’t listened to it all week. Next week I’ll get back to listing the most recent ten songs on it, because I know how much you scalawags enjoy it! In the meantime, let’s check out some Totally Random Lyrics!

“The ground’s a long way down
But I need more
Is the nightmare black
Or are the windows painted
Will they come again next week
Can my mind really take it”

I don’t know if that’s easy or not. Blame my wife if you can’t figure it out – she mentioned the song!

Have a great weekend, everyone. May the wind be always at your back, yo!


At this point I’m in love with The Massive, but I do agree about the America thing, it felt a bit more harsh than it needed to be. (I’m not American either and have my problems with the country)

Think Tank is a better Iron Man than the vast majority of Iron Man comics.

I’m not completely sold on Point of Impact, but the intrigue and potential is there. I guess I’ve just never been a fan of pure black and white (as opposed to grayscale)

No Batman 13?

Haunt 26 came out…a month ago, maybe? So it’s still truckin’ along.

More commentary later!!!

Ian: Good point about Think Tank. I hadn’t thought of that!

Luis: One of these days, DC will release Batman in a softcover trade. Then I’ll get to read it. But not now!

Travis: Thank you, sir!

I liked Uncanny 1.
It all comes down to expectations.
When Grant Morrison is writing a book, for example, I expect more out of it – more story, bigger ideas, great dialogue, some “true” emotional moments.
But as a long time Avengers fan all I’ve expected out of those titles are pure popcorn entertainment.
Some writers (Thomas, Englehart, Stern, Busiek, Shooter, Byrne, Slott) in my judgement have been better than others (Simonson, Johns, Bendis). But I can honestly say that none of them have provided what I consider really some of the highest forms of main stream, big two superhero books (Morrison’s Doom Patrol, Animal Man, JLA and Final Crisis, Robinson’s Starman, Gerard Jones’ Green Lantern: Mosaic).
But, like I said, that’s not why I read Avengers. I read it cause I love the characters, their history, their relationships and the challenges they face.
And on those grounds I think Uncanny fits the bill.
That being said, I am prepared to be wowed by Hickman’s upcoming Avengers/New Avengers run, based on some of his previous work that I’ve read.

I look forward to your review of Children’s Crusade, since I recall supporting it pretty strongly on the Flippin’ Through Previews posts.

I don’t know why I’m not reading The Massive, I read everything else Wood puts out. I feel bad.

But Greg surely you know the US is the Great Satan?! ;-) Heh. I could hardly agree with you more about Uncanny Avengers. John C’s art was pretty good ws usual but otherwise I hate, hate, hated it all. For those who like it go with God but for me the thing epitimized all I hate about modernn Marvel and DC. And I wanted to like it, honestly! The photo of your daughter with that amazing piece of comics art packaging is tres cute.
Sexy Bert and Ernie?! Like “Sexy Elmo” (sexy mother-fucking *Elmo*?!) this points to the End Times, I think. Command – D here we come! Then I see some of those girls at that con (except for under-age-ish looking ones, icky)) and I have um *different thoughts*, hubba hubba, darn libido&! Great work, Greg. I have to say again that your thoughts on Uncanny Avs and Marvel NOW!!!!!are dead-on from my point of view at least. Twas chicken gizzards but hopefully other Marvel NOOOWWW!?@#?!stuff will be better!

Madman Across the Water by Elton John.

What’s Augmented Reality? Anybody?

Mutt: Augmented Reality for Marvel means if you download their AR app on your smart phone and aim it at the AR icon on the page a little animation or whatever plays on your phone. There are other AR apps for phones that also work with your physical location. Like if you are in NYC or other major metropolitan areas, you launch the app, kind of point it down the street, and it’ll kind of float icons over businesses telling you what they are. Or even some museums have apps where you point your phone at a painting and it’ll give a little history lesson about the painting.

Or in other words, Mutt, a bunch of horseshit.

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@jjc: Well, you can always go and read CONAN THE BARBARIAN by Wood at Dark Horse. Either way, I’m sure B.Wood would sure appreciate your money! ;-)

@Mr. Burgas: My jaw literally dropped when you mentioned the price for FINDER. $75 for a 93 page hardcover? WHO ARE THEY KIDDING???!!!!??? Oh, right, it’s signed–that makes ALL the difference!!! =:(

Just Stumptown for me this week. Although I enjoyed the first issue, this one was better. Only two more issues to go though! It feels like a long break for a short series. I hope it comes back quickly.

I have been reading your opinion of The Massive with interest and have now bought 1 – 3 plus a special with the stories from Dark Horse Presents (at £0.69/$0.99 each – go Dark Horse for a good digital pricing strategy). Only read issue 1 so far and liked it. Once I have read them all I will decide whether I want to add it to my ongoings.

Your comment that Points of Impact doesn’t have aliens yet reminded me of the story that Image weren’t sure about The Walking Dead and only published it because Kirkman told them the zombies were a prelude to an alien invasion – so there is always a chance aliens will show up in Points of Impact!

how is cheung a great artist exactly?

90% of his panels have nothing but faces and bodies. Go do the math. And that’s a stupid way to tell a story

As for the comics you bought that I also did:

I feel much the same about Halloween Eve. It had the potential to be more interesting, but the change was so quick and “huh?” that I just didn’t care. Did look nice, though.

And you know that if they had scheduled it to come out Halloween, something would have effed up and it would have been late, and then they’d look stupid.

Actually, don’t you know that the entire month of October is now Halloween? Jeez.

Haven’t gotten to Morning Glories yet.

Man, I didn’t find the Order of Dagonet, and now I’m annoyed I didn’t. Dammit!

And I missed Point of Impact 1 also.

Think Tank 3 was pretty good stuff. I’m liking the book and am glad it’s going to be an ongoing. I may even have to add it to my pull list!

I was suckered in by Uncanny Avengers. It … was a comic book. Yeah. In other NOW! news, I looked at the preview book, and it seems that Deadpool and FF might be decent, and maybe even that Thor book. Otherwise…eh.

More comments later!

The first few issues of Childrens Crusade were interesting, but then it devolves and gets old pretty quick, especially the artwork. I was wowed by Cheung at first, but every single face is the same. The layouts are all the same. Now the splashes and double pagers are awesome, but that does not make for great storytelling. And the story, gah, whiny teens and Dr. Doom taking credit for all the bad stuff that has happened the previous six or seven years? What? I understand ambiguity, but that was ridiculous. I gave my first prints back to my comic shop.

Brian: I see your point, and I agree that I read Uncanny Avengers with different expectations than something designed to be more high-brow, but I don’t even think it was that good a superhero book. If you did, that’s great, and I’m kind of bummed that I didn’t, but I didn’t.

Tom: Yeah, that’s why I didn’t pre-order the Finder hardcover. I like it in 20-dollar chunks, but 75 is a teeeeeny bit steep. :)

Trey: Well, I didn’t call him a “great” artist, I called him a good artist. I like his style. I agree that his faces all look alike, but I like his details and I think he does that “hyper-realistic” style without losing too much of the cartooning aspect. No, he’s not the greatest artist, but I enjoy his superhero work. And without seeing the scripts, I don’t know how much we can blame him for the fact that he puts a lot of close-ups of faces in the book. It could be Heinberg’s fault!

Travis: Hey, I wrote about The Order of Dagonet when it was offered in Previews! It’s not fault if you missed it! :)

Man, this was one of the more negative “What I Bought”‘s I’ve read. Bummer.

jyork: Sorry! I didn’t think it was too negative – I didn’t like Uncanny Avengers, true, but even the stuff I didn’t love – Halloween Eve and The Massive – I didn’t think I was TOO negative. Again, sorry!

I finished Building Stories last night. It was breathtaking for me. I had mostly dropped out of the Chris Ware club after reading on of the ANL volumes that dealt with Rusty Brown. It took the already pretty morbid human dilapidation of Jimmy Corrigan and made Jimmy look well-adjusted. It was too much for me. I found the character (and so his stories as well) repulsive. It was a world I didn’t want to take the chance of visiting again.

I did catch one of the Building Stories pieces, part of the one from the perspective from the building, I guess. I didn’t really know that was related to Building Stories. I didn’t know much of anything about it, so it really just bowled me over in what felt to me a just flat-out magnificent experience.

Looking forward to when The Massive comes out in trade. I just brought the trade of Wood’s DV8: Gods and Monsters mini, and it was one of the most enjoyable and engrossing books I’ve read in months. Highly Recommend it! I’ve also just ordered the first trade of DMZ, so fingers crossed! :)

Think Tank may have lost me with the random joke about him putting a camera in the ladies’ room. It’s kind of a throwaway line, but it crosses the line for me from the lovable scoundrel he had been to… totally fucked up. Maybe I have missed the subtle darkness previously, but I had thought we were supposed to like this guy, or at least understand him. But ladies bathroom hidden camera? Inexcusable. And gross.

Reading someone’s thoughts is a far bigger invasion of privacy than a bit of bathroom perving.

I guess I can forgive that just from a “I want to see if this works” sort of way, whereas the bathroom perving I can’t.

Well, let me be devil’s advocate and say that he didn’t say he put the camera in the stalls. Maybe he just put it by the mirror to see if he could figure out what the ladies are doing when they all go in there at once.

But since you brought it up, I can see your point that it does make him a bit skeevier than I think Hawkins is going for.

‘Earnest clarimontian things that we all know and love’. Or not.

I’m pretty torn on Uncanny Avengers. This was the first Rick Remender comic I ever read (although I read vol. 1 of X-Force the next day), and I had high expectations given what the blogosphere thinks about him.

There were parts of the issue that I thought worked very well. I liked the first several pages, I liked the general direction, and I liked most of the characterization. But I didn’t like the Rogue/Scarlet Witch fight, and man, the goat-faced girl… I honestly didn’t know how to take that. If that was a character in, for example, Nextwave, it would have been hilarious. But I really can’t tell if Remender is taking the piss or not.

And I really think it was a tragic moment in the issue, because this issue is getting the living shit marketed out of it, and it will, in theory, fall into the hands of many new readers. What are they to think of the goat-faced girl? How does a character called the Goat-Faced Girl reflect on comics? I think Quesada is lucky that Kimmel didn’t bring her up the other night on his show.

As for Cassaday, it actually doesn’t look like Marvel is double shipping this book, so I’m expecting Cassaday to be here for every issue. It actually wouldn’t surprise me if he has some sort of stipulation in his contract that books he works on don’t get fill-in artists, and if they ship late, they ship late. That’s what happened with both Planetary and Astonishing X-Men. I’ll stick with this book at least through the first arc, and decide then. I think the cast, the direction, and the creative team have a ton of potential, and I’m willing to let them find their legs a little. And that’s the basic strategy I’ll use for all of the Marvel Now(!) books I’m trying out, which right now look to be Mighty Thor, Captain America, Indestructible Hulk, Fantastic Four, FF, Avengers, and New Avengers. I’m pretty curious about All New X-Men, but I have a policy to never buy Bendis in singles, so I’ll probably leave it alone for now. And a few other titles (Thunderbolts, Uncanny X-Force, Secret Avengers) seem promising, and I may decide to pick up the first issue as an impulse purchase.

And man, I really can’t wait to read what you think of Building Stories. Just do me a favor and have your review up by early December so I know whether to put it on my Christmas list. K, thanks, you’re the best.

Third Man: I’ll certainly try, sir!

I figured I’d just go straight to the source, and Matt Hawkins provided a pretty satisfying answer to the ladies room camera thing:

“Intent was juvenile and sort of a misguided youth, call it a Michael Jackson complex. This is a guy who has never really dated women and the military got him hookers to get him through puberty so that he could focus on his work.”

Mecha-Shiva: Thanks, sir. I didn’t think too much of it – it was creepy, but David does seem like a bit of an arrested adolescent, and I think Hawkins is writing him that way and at least trying to show that he’s realizing he needs to change. It’s nice that Hawkins got back to you.

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