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What I bought – 9 January 2013

She said, “In every age, there must be truths people can’t fight – whether or not they want to, whether or not they will go on being truths in the future. We live in the truth of what Freud discovered. Whether or not we like it. However we’ve modified it. We aren’t really free to suppose – to imagine – he could possibly have been wrong about human nature. In particulars, surely – but not in the large plan –” (A. S. Byatt, from Possession)

Pills solve everything! Batman sez: Why won't DC leave the damned Joker out of my comics for a few furshlugginer years?!?!? Avert your eyes!!! Frazer Irving is a crazy dude, man Dude should take better care of his cape Heart transplants don't work that way Drama! This won't end well It's BACK! Probably only 90 per cent pure awesome, but still pretty good Nice of this to finally show up! More cheap comics from Valiant! Another one bites the dust More American history than you can shake a stick at! Yeah, it's a book about fishing - wanna make something out of it? Does anything in this book exist anymore?  What's the point? Yeah, I'll give this a look ...

There’s a bit of nudity below, in case you’re wondering. I give you the un-redacted cover of Faust, so be warned!!!!!

Change #2 (of 4) by Ales Kot (writer), Morgan Jeske (artist), Sloane Leong (colorist), and Ed Brisson (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

Change is an odd book, but that’s okay, because after an interesting first issue, Kot continues to add some nice layers to the story and take the characters in strange places. Some of the narration is a bit too obnoxious, but it’s mostly in the service of the story, so it’s forgivable. But Kot makes up for it with some nice dialogue – it’s disconnected and strange, but also moves the story forward well. The book is quite funny, too, in parts, and that helps deflate some of the more pretentious narration. I’m still not sure if the dude in this is supposed to be Kot himself – the first issue implied that, but he has a much bigger role in this issue, and I’m not sure.

The main part of the issue is still dealing with W-2 and Sonia, both of whom need help and who manage to get together to find some answers. This leads to a betrayal, but that’s probably to be expected. We still don’t quite know what’s going on, but it comes into a bit more focus in this issue. As I mentioned with regard to issue #1, if the plot is intriguing, the writer can be as weird as he/she wants, because it’s all in service to the plot and the characters. In a couple of issues, Kot has managed to create some interesting characters, and the plot they find themselves in different enough to be intriguing, so the weirdness doesn’t feel tacked on just to dazzle. This really is a peculiar situation, so strange things are going to happen and the characters are going to react in curious ways.

Jeske and Leong do another fine job with the art, too. Kot’s word-dense script means that Jeske needs to be versatile with page layouts, and he does a fine job with that. Leong does some fascinating things with the colors – one flashback is colored in almost fluorescent tones, vividly showing the intensity of the emotions the two characters feel, and in other sections, the earth tones give Los Angeles a bizarre, apocalyptic feel, which isn’t surprising considering it’s going to be destroyed. Jeske and Leong make an interesting team, and they do a nice job keeping up with Kot’s prose.

It’s nice to have no idea where a comic is going, and halfway through this book, I have no idea where Kot is going with it. I assume it will all make sense in the end … or will it? Maybe that’s not what Kot is going for at all! We shall see, won’t we?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Uh ... okay

This is nicely done, as it’s creepy and bizarre without being disgusting. Panel 4 is very cool, with the face disintegrating into component parts even as W-2′s wife tries to speak.

Detective Comics #16 (“Nothin’ But Smiles”/”Pecking Order”) by John Layman (writer), Jason Fabok (artist, “Smiles”), Andy Clarke (artist, “Order”), Jeromy Cox (colorist, “Smiles”), Blond (colorist, “Smiles”), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer, “Smiles”), Taylor Esposito (letterer, “Smiles”), Katie Kubert (associate editor), Harvey Richards (associate editor), and Mike Marts (editor). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, DC.

I was afraid of Layman getting sucked too far into the whole “Death of the Family” thing, and this issue skirts perilously close to that, although Layman does manage to keep moving on with his own story arc and at least try to do something different with the Joker’s effect on Gotham. This time around there are several different Joker cults, each trying to make a name for themselves and prove that they’re as bad-ass as the Joker. This isn’t an original idea, but that’s okay – what is? – because Layman does some interesting things with it. Why wouldn’t there be a group of protesters who think the Joker has been poorly treated by the Gotham police? Usually, when we see these Joker knock-offs, the writer treats them as isolated crazy people, but Layman turns it into a movement, and why not? The DC(n)U has always been a bizarre place, and it’s conceivable that there would be people who think a blatant mass murderer like the Joker is being persecuted by the po-po and Batman. As everyone’s favorite crazy liberal, Rob Schmidt, points out (aw, Rob, you know I love you!), there are people in our world who think the Newtown shooting was staged, so people in the DCnU thinking the Joker isn’t the greatest mass murderer in history could exist. I read a review in which the person specifically brought up Batman’s “fascist” tendencies with regard to monitoring the protesters, but Batman’s been a fascist for years, the only difference between Bruce Wayne and, say, Stalin is that BATMAN IS ON OUR GODDAMNED TEAM! So Layman takes the book in some interesting directions, and the redemption at the end is nicely done. Plus, the back-up stories continue to shed nice light on the main story, which is what we want from back-up stories, right?

Fabok continues to do nice work, although the book takes place mostly in the rain and at night, so it’s really dark. It kind of bugged me. His design of the Merrymaker is done well, though – it’s V crossed with a plague doctor from the 1500s, and that’s not a bad combination. Fabok’s art doesn’t blow me away or anything, but it’s solid superhero stuff, and that’s not a bad thing.

I do wish this big event hadn’t happened, because the Joker needs to go into cold storage for about a decade, but if it’s going to happen, at least Layman is trying some different stuff with it. One more issue – we’ll see what happens in issue #17!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

I wouldn't like to see Batman advancing on me like that

This is a boring layout, but Fabok does some nice stuff on the page. The final three panels are good, as Batman stalks his prey and we feel rage at the perpetrator just before we hit the final panel, when we suddenly wonder what’s going on. Fabok uses the shadows well, as that the way they would appear if the light source is behind Batman but they also hide the kid’s secret. Layman’s narration serves to remind us that Batman, in a weird way, prefers fighting the Joker, because he has no experience with his followers and so can’t easily predict them. In this case, that’s a good thing, but it might not be.

Faust: Love of the Damned #15 (“Maritaticum Mortis”) by David Quinn (writer) and Tim Vigil (artist). $5.95, 36 pgs, BW, Rebel Studios.

Yes, yes, I put a white block over part of this cover again. Once again, I felt that genitalia probably isn’t the most pleasant thing to show above the cut. But here it is below the cut, in all its glory!

Faust comes to an end, in a fairly traditional manner – for all its gory violence and violent sex, it really is a pretty standard story – but then again, Faust was never really about turning the world upside down with its plot, because early on we could probably figure out how it was going to end. What Faust was really about was taking the excesses of modern superhero comics to their logical extremes and reveling in them. Mephisto in the Marvel Universe isn’t going to challenge God by having an sex-magic orgy that ends in the slaughter of all the participants? Fuck him, Quinn and Vigil will do it! Marvel won’t show what happens when Wolverine really gets going with those claws? Fuck that, Quinn and Vigil will show it! And you know how movies with evil chicks always have to have the good woman who is also really, really tough because it wouldn’t do for a dude to kill the evil chick, because killing chicks just isn’t cool, bro? And when the two chicks are fighting, you’re always hoping that they’ll fall into a shallow pool of Jell-O and clothes will just start falling off? Well, Quinn and Vigil take care of that by having one of the women already naked! And you know how superheroes are just basically naked anyway, but the colorist paints them some random color to get past the censors? Yeah, Quinn and Vigil have that covered, too – one of the men is naked throughout the book, too. Ultimately, this is a full-on, balls-to-the-wall, take-no-prisoners satire of superhero comics, and Quinn and Vigil go absolutely nuts with it. I’m sure they wouldn’t think so, because it is meant to be serious, after all – the Devil is trying to unmake the world and recreate it in his own image – but if you want to read it as satire, it works wonderfully and has ever since John Jaspers first popped his claws 25 years ago. I’m planning on breaking down Faust a bit more at some point this year, but trust me – it’s not to be missed. Quinn even makes a joke about how long it took for the comic to finish! We need more Faust-like comics in comics – completely over-the-top insanity. I’m going to miss it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

I think those pants would cut off her circulation

Quinn lurches back and forth between pretentious prose and others taking the piss out of that prose. So Nick Balfour, the writer, is taken down by this flaming skeleton demon, who doesn’t think much of his writing. It’s this kind of roller coaster with regard to the writing that makes the comic such a bizarre one. Well, that and the copious nudity. There are 36 pages in this comic. 26 of them feature either male or female nudity (usually both) of some kind. Fun facts!

Higher Earth #7 by Sam Humphries (writer), Francesco Biagini (artist), Andrew Crossley (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer), and Dafna Pleban (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Higher Earth is a strange comic. It has been cancelled, and issue #9 will be the last one. That sucks, but what are you going to do? Issue #6 came out in at the end of October, if I recall correctly. I wondered if Boom! was even going to print the final three, because it’s taken so long. I appreciate that they’re going to get all nine issues out, but it seems very weird that they would take so long to publish them when the book is already dead. Oh well!

We can tell that Humphries is wrapping things up, which might explain the delay – perhaps he was allowed to change some things in the script so he could wrap things up? We learn some more about Rex and Heidi and their connection to their other analogs, and Rex is forced to fight a bunch of them when they come looking for him. It’s an exciting and interesting issue, and it’s really too bad this didn’t find an audience, because it’s clear that Humphries could have easily made this a truly great science fiction epic – there’s still a lot of potential here.

The highlight of the series, however, has been Biagini’s artwork. He really packs a lot into each issue, and tries to tell the story in different ways, with unusual page layouts and panel designs. Much like J. H. Williams III, his page layouts aren’t confusing, and Biagini makes reading the comic more interesting. It’s very frustrating reading some comics (usually but not always DC and Marvel ones) where the artists stick to very dull page layouts and panel designs (and I’m talking about comics that I like, too). Look at Fabok’s page above – it’s just a series of horizontally stacked panels. Or check out Esquejo’s page below – another fairly dull layout. That’s not to say all pages should be wildly designed, but artists seem to do it far less than they could, and it’s nice that Biagini tries new things. There’s not one page in this issue that has simple stacked panels or some kind of standard grid. Even when Biagini could do that, he resists – when Rex is fighting his analogs, a few pages are almost made up of horizontally stacked panels, but Biagini does just enough – slant the panel borders, most notably – to make it interesting. It’s not just an artist being flashy, it’s an artist trying to enhance the mood that the writer is going for. The fight feels more exciting because the panels feel rushed and jagged. On another page, the panel borders are the bars of a prison cell, which helps turn the entire page into a cage. Biagini’s drawings and designs are very good, but the way he lays out the book is also very important. I just wish more artists would do stuff like it.

I hope the final two issues come out soon. Even though it’s been cancelled, I would like to see how Humphries wraps everything up!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

J'accuse!

Note the middle panel, which is designed like a lightning bolt as the queen’s ladies rage at Sloan. It’s a subtle thing – it’s not even very noticeable – but it propels the reader along nicely. The page is laid out like a backward “S” to that Biagini draws our eye the way he wants us to go, and notice how the slanted center panel squeezes Sloan into the upper right corner as the queen berates him. The queen’s ladies are freaky, too – their covered eyes make them almost literal mouthpieces of the queen’s policies. It’s a well-designed page, and it’s not like it would take a genius to do it, just an artist who’s paying attention.

Legends of the Dark Knight #4. “A Game to Die For” by T. J. Fixman (writer), Christopher Mitten (artist), David Lopez (colorist), Santi Casas (colorist), and Saida Temonfonte (letterer); “Batman: The Movie” by Andrew Dabb (writer), Giorgio Pontrelli (artist), Antonio Fabela (colorist), and Saida Temofonte (letterer); “Together” by Jonathan Larsen (writer), Tan Eng Huat (artist), David Lopez (colorist), Santi Casas (colorist), and Saida Temofonte (letterer); Kristy Quinn (associate editor), and Ben Abernathy (editor). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC.

There’s a Joker story playing out in the main Batman titles, and the two previous issues of LotDK dealt with … the Joker, and now we get three stories, two of which star … you guessed it. Man, DC really likes going to the Joker well, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m not as big a fan of the Joker as I used to be (this is called the Wolverine Effect). Fixman’s story, well illustrated by Mitten, is a good story, because it’s mainly about a new Gotham hero called the Praetorian, who has captured the Joker and is waiting for Batman to arrive but who isn’t prepared for the Joker’s mind games. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the twist, but I was, and even if you know it, it’s still a pretty effective story about the Joker’s ability to turn everything to his advantage. Dabb’s story is, unfortunately, kind of dull. Dabb can write absolutely insane comics, but “Batman: The Movie” is bland, as the star of the movie wants to find out what makes Batman tick and gets his chance when the Joker shows up. Luckily for all concerned, Bruce Wayne happens to be visiting the female star of the movie, so of course the real Batman gets into the act. It’s really a dull story that doesn’t tell us anything new about Batman or the Joker, plus the art is just kind of there. Larsen’s story is about Two-Face, and it’s pretty predictable but effective – Batman’s policy of “punch first and ask questions later” comes back to bite him in the ass. The actual plot doesn’t make too much sense – if Harvey wants to do what he’s trying to do and Batman stops him, why can’t he try again once Batman has all the facts? There’s a line in the story about something being “forever,” but that’s not what happens here. It makes a possibly clever idea less clever, because there’s no reason why this couldn’t be the end of the plan. Huat’s artwork is pretty poor, too – it’s the roughest I’ve ever seen from him, and while some individual panels – including the final one of the story – are quite nice, overall, it looks very sketchy and sloppy. It’s too bad.

So this isn’t the best of the digital stories, but it’s still nice to see DC doing these. You never know when there’s going to be something awesome in the issue!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Don't talk to the Joker, man!

Mitten’s art works well in a Joker story, as we see here, and his heavy use of black in Panel 1 makes the Praetorian seem far more imposing than we already know he is. This is what comics do well – Fixman has already begun to introduce doubt in the Praetorian’s mind, as we see in Panel 5, while Mitten is contradicting that in Panel 1, making the situation more tense, because we don’t know if the Praetorian will really succumb or not. Note, too, that Panel 5 shows the Praetorian far smaller and hunched over, isolated in the long shot, while Batman on the screen dominates him. This shows, once again, who the big boss in Gotham is far better than any words could.

Mind the Gap #7 (“Wish You Were Here Part 2: Clouded Eyes, Broken Hearts”) by Jim McCann (writer), Rodin Esquejo (artist), Arif Prianto (colorist), Beny Maulana (colorist), Dave Lanphear (letterer), and Rob Levin (editor). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

I mentioned a few months ago that I have to sit down and comb through the first “x” amount of issues of Mind the Gap for clues, and I think I’ll try to do that this month with the first seven issues. McCann claims that there are clues on every page, so I’ll have some fun with that. After seven issues, you can probably tell if you’re on board with this book or if you loathe it, and McCann doesn’t do anything different with this issue than he’s done in the first six. Elle has managed to contact Jo from beyond the … grave?, as she’s possessed that young girl, Katie, and is speaking through her, which freaks everyone out. Katie’s parents aren’t a concern in this issue, as the circumstances of Katie’s coma are still murky and the cops talk to them, leaving Jo free to chat with Elle. But then Elle sees the dude she thinks pushed her front of the train, and she convinces Jo to get her out of the hospital. Because that always goes so well. There’s a bit of forward momentum to the plot, as we get two different conversations fraught with meaning, and the issue ends on a double cliffhanger, as it appears Katie and Elle are more connected than anyone thought.

As I’ve noted, if you’re interested in slowly unspooling murder mysteries, this is intriguing. It’s not action-packed, and some of the characters are still kind of clichéd, and the hints we’ve had of the larger plot point to something kind of dull, but for the most part, McCann has done a nice job creating good tension with this book. If you don’t care what’s going on, it’s not the book for you. But I’m interested, so I’m keen to keep reading. That’s just how it is!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

I hear that

“Ho” is a hard word to pluralize (?). It certainly shouldn’t have an apostrophe, but “hos” doesn’t sound right when you look at it (so to speak). Should we add an “e” and write “hoes”? That seems the most logical, but I’m not sure if the rules of grammar apply to slang. Anyway, I assume Esquejo uses people he knows as models – much like Alex Ross does – and Panel 3 is a good one, with a nice point of view and good facial expressions on the two characters. In a book with not a lot of action, Esquejo tries to heighten the action by using a different “camera” angle, and succeeds pretty well.

The Order of Dagonet #2 by Jeremy Whitley (writer) and Jason Strutz (artist/letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Action Lab Comics.

It’s been a while since the first issue came out, which is too bad – this is a weirdly charming series so far, and it can’t be helped by coming out so infrequently. The first trade has been solicited in Previews, but issue #3 is the last single issue solicited, so does that mean the trade will contain only those three? Or has Action Lab decided to go digital with the single issues and then sell the trade? I don’t know, and their web site doesn’t have much information about it. That’s too bad – this isn’t a great comic, but it’s pretty funny and entertaining, and it’s always interesting to see different artwork, and Strutz’s is certainly that.

Anyway, in this issue, the knights of Dagonet – knighted British celebrities, you’ll recall – are trying to get back to London to fight the forces of Faerie, but they’re having some difficulty. Gene Everyman and Dizzy Claiborne, along with Laverne, the sassy black lady (is there any other kind in fiction?) try to fly there, but they’re re-routed … to Wales! This leads to Gene ranting about the Welsh, which is pretty funny. Meanwhile, Sir Tottingham and Emerald meet some centaurs, who are big fans of the latter, and they can get a ride to London that way. There’s a little bit of action, but otherwise, it’s a “gathering the troops” kind of issue, but that’s okay because Whitley’s script is still pretty funny. Plus, Strutz’s art, while still rough, is pretty good – he does some interesting things with layouts, and while I wish his lines were a bit crisper, but that’s just a personal preference.

The Order of Dagonet is an enjoyable comic, and it would be nice if it would come out a bit more consistently. I’m curious to see if Whitley ramps up the action next issue!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Oh, white people - so crazy!

Laverne is obviously the outside commenter on the scene, deflating the knights’ smug self-importance. This is an example of the humor in the book – if you like this, you’ll probably find the rest of it funny. Strutz does a good job getting a lot onto the page in a clear manner – the panels of Dizzy’s antics are quite fun, and the opposition of Laverne and Dizzy’s manager in the panels works well. There’s more action on the page than we expect, and that’s pretty neat.

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

I wrote last time that Point of Impact reads like a fairly standard cop show, but that doesn’t make it a bad comic book. It’s a fun read, even though on the first page, it became clear who the killer was. Faerber is pretty good at these kinds of comics, so even though it’s a bit predictable, it’s pretty intense. Plus, Faerber does throw a few curve balls at us, so it’s not completely predictable. The story, along with Kuranel’s rough and tumble artwork and the black and white, really does make this feel like a solid 1970s cop show, and I’m certainly the audience for that. I wouldn’t mind seeing more stories with either Abby (the cop) or Mitchell (the reporter) – they’re both stereotypes, but in these four issues, Faerber has managed to make them pretty interesting, and I imagine Faerber has plenty of stories he could put them in.

Point of Impact is a comic that I like because I like the genre, but it might not be for everyone who doesn’t love the genre. That’s okay – if you’re a fan of cop shows, you might want to give this a look!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

RAGE!

Kuranel does a good job leading up to the final panel, where Mitchell rages at Boone. We get the nice establishing shot as they go into the alley, and then Mitchell shows Boone something, so we get where the two men are. Then we get Boone, and Kuranel inks his face heavily and shows how Nicole’s death is weighing on him. Then we see that Mitchell is holding photos of the two of them, and Kuranel makes his beard heavy, showing the strain he’s been under, and Boone’s form frames him well. It’s a simple layout, but it works very well.

21st Century Boys volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa (writer/artist). $12.99, 196 pgs, BW, Viz Media.

One of these days I’ll have to write about this entire epic. I’ll get to it, I swear!

The Batman Chronicles volume 11. $14.99, 168 pgs, FC, DC.

I’m still not sure why DC doesn’t put these out more often, because it’s not like rights are an issue, nor would I think they’d cost too much to produce. Are sales that poor on them? I love these, even though we’ve been slowly moving away from Awesome Death-Dealing Batman of the 1930s and into Goofy Batman of the 1940s. But they’re still groovy comics!

Cherubs by Bryan Talbot (writer/layouter), Mark Stafford (artist), Nate Pride (letterer), and Mary Branscombe (Latin advisor). $19.99, 191 pgs, BW, Dark Horse.

Someone on the back of this book is quoted as calling it “pants-wettingly funny.” Do I really want to read a book that makes me pee in my pants?

Harbinger volume 1: Omega Rising by Joshua Dysart (writer), Khari Evans (artist), Lewis LaRosa (artist), Matthew Clark (artist), Jim Muniz (artist), Matt Ryan (inker), Sean Parsons (inker), Ian Hannin (colorist), Moose Baumann (colorist), Jeromy Cox (colorist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Rob Steen (letterer), Josh Johns (assistant editor), Jody LeHeup (associate editor), and Warren Simons (executive editor). $9.99, 113 pgs, FC, Valiant.

Another 10-dollar trade from Valiant! And I’ve bought both of them! It’s almost as if that’s a good business model to get people to sample their products!

The Defenders volume 2 by Matt Fraction (writer), Terry Dodson (penciler), Jamie McKelvie (artist), Mike Norton (artist), Mirco Pierfederici (artist), Rachel Dodson (inker), Sonia Oback (colorist), Dommo Aymara (colorist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Veronica Gandini (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), Joe Sabino (letterer), Jake Thomas (assistant editor), Jon Moison (assistant editor), Mark Panicca (editor), and Cory Levine (collection editor). $19.99, 120 pgs, FC, Marvel.

It’s kind of strange that this book didn’t last longer. I wonder why more people didn’t read it.

Los Tejanos/Lost Cause by Jack Jackson (writer/artist). $35.00, 313 pgs, BW, Fantagraphics.

Who wants to read a big honkin’ slice of Texas history? This guy does!

The Silver Darlings by Will Morris (writer/artist). $14.99, 51 pgs, BW, Blank Slate Books.

Blank Slate seems to solicit some really cool books that then take forever to actually come out. This was solicited in August, so I’m glad it finally shipped. I hope their other stuff comes out, too!

Superman: Last Son of Krypton by Geoff Johns (writer), Richard Donner (writer), Adam Kubert (artist), Gary Frank (artist), Jon Sibal (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), Brad Anderson (colorist), Edgar Delgado (colorist), Hi-Fi (colorist), Rob Leigh (letterer), Steve Wands (letterer), Nachie Castro (associate editor), Matt Idelson (editor), and Rowena Yow (editor). $19.99, 250 pgs, FC, DC.

I heard some good things about this when it was being published, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. Why not, right? I mean, it’s not like DC would suddenly reboot their entire line and render this entire story moot, would they?

Wonder Woman volume 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello (writer), Cliff Chiang (artist), Tony Akins (artist), Dan Green (inker), Matthew Wilson (colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer), Chris Conroy (associate editor), Matt Idelson (editor), and Peter Hamboussi (editor). $14.99, 125 pgs, FC, DC.

I thought for quite a while about getting this, as I know the book kind of goes off the rails in issue #7, but I’m still interested in reading at least this trade, as issue #1 was one of the better ones of the DCnU #1s. We’ll see, I guess!

**********

A couple of things happened this week: The Oscar nominations came out, and while I don’t give a tiny rat’s ass about them, there’s some good breakdowns of them: here (pretty funny), here (MGK breaks it down!), and … well, Third Man hasn’t broken them down yet, but he did try to predict them all! Come on, Third Man, break them down! I love breakdowns!

The second thing that happened is that no one got into the Baseball Hall of Fame because OH MY FUCKING FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER STEROIDS NOOOOOO!!!!! So Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa didn’t get in, but neither did Biggio, Jack Morris, or Piazza. Some people are really in a tizzy about this, but really – who cares? Listen, half the Hall of Fame doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame (Eppa Rixey, really?), but that’s politics – the Hall voting has ALWAYS been about politics, and Bonds was a douchebag for his entire career, and writers think Clemens lied to them, and Sosa pretended he didn’t understand fucking English in front of Congress, so the voters will FUCKING SHOW THOSE UPPITY JUICERS!!!!! I’m actually mad at myself for spending the past three minutes typing this paragraph. It’s the Hall of Fame – who cares?

In case you missed Stars in Danger: The High Dive, read about it here. Man, FOX. Two hours about minor or has-been celebrities diving. Way to scrape the bottom of that barrel.

Speaking of television, I hope everyone either watched or DVRed/TiVoed Justified and Cougar Town, both of which premiered this past Tuesday. One of the best dramas and one of the funniest comedies on television? Yeah, that was a good night. I haven’t watched either yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

I’m sad that I haven’t joined the list of people on Twitter at the beginning of The Line It Is Drawn posts, but you can still follow me on Twitter. I mean, how will you find out that my daughter’s OT has never heard of David Bowie unless you read it on Twitter? This is important information, people!!!!

I also decided to grow a beard in 2013. I’ve never grown a beard before, but I figured that it would be fun. My wife thinks I’m goofy, but she doesn’t care, and my daughter doesn’t want me to kiss her because I’m so scruffy, but I don’t care! Naturally, I’ve been taking pictures of my beard growth every day (I shaved on 1 January and just let it go!), and I made a .gif of it. Here it is (sorry I’m not smiling in more of them):

create a animated gif
create a animated gif

I’ll update my progress occasionally throughout the year. I haven’t made up my mind how much I’m going to groom it or if I’m just going to go nuts and let it grow wild. I also don’t know how long I’m going to last. I hope to keep it the entire year, but summer in Arizona is so crappy, I might get sick of it around July. We’ll see!

Finally, it’s De-Lurking Week on the Internet, so if you read this blog regularly (or this column, I suppose, but why would you only read this column when we have so much cool stuff on the blog?) but have never commented, why don’t you say hello now? We’re friendly people around here!

All right, let’s check out the Ten Most Recent Songs on My iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle):

1. “Give it Up, Turn it Loose” – En Vogue (1992) “Fact of life – so sad but true – love can often hurt you”
2. “Something I Can Never Have”Nine Inch Nails (1989) “My favorite dreams of you still wash ashore, scraping through my head ’till I don’t want to sleep anymore”
3. “La Cienega Just Smiled”Ryan Adams (2001) “Neither of you really help me to sleep anymore; one breaks my body and the other breaks my soul”
4. “Can’t Wait”Foreigner (1987) “And the nights go on forever, these days I get no sleep”
5. “Bizarre Love Triangle”New Order (1986) “Whenever I get this way I just don’t know what to say, why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday”
6. “Lost Cause”Beck (2002) “No one left to watch your back now, no one standing at your door”
7. “Valerie”Steve Winwood (1982) “Someday, some good wind may blow her back to me; some night I may hear her like she used to be”
8. “Falling to Pieces”Faith No More (1989) “From the bottom, it looks like a steep incline, from the top, another downhill slope of mine – but I know, the equilibrium’s there”
9. “Barest Degree”Midnight Oil (1996) “The fire has gone, the big trees stand, the underground is smoking”
10. “Sleeping With the Television On”Billy Joel (1980) “Tonight unless you take some kind of chances dear, tomorrow morning you’ll wake up with a white noise”

I hope everyone has a nice weekend! Just remember: It’s always New Year’s for Billy Dee!

50 Comments

I blame two things for Defenders’ terrible sales:

1) The fact that Marvel saw fit to charge $3.99 for a Defenders book (similar to how they thought Bendis/Maleev was enough to score $3.99 for a freaking Moon Knight book).

2) The first arc kinda sucked and were easily the weakest issues of the series and an aftermath/epilogue to a generally maligned big event that I don’t think anyone wanted to dwell on for another 3 months. And yeah, the whole arc just wasn’t good.

So yeah, bad first arc + $3.99 = tons of people dropping it.

Defenders was the only Marvel book I was willing to pay $3.99 for when it was coming out. Foolishly, I hoped that by spending an extra dollar on the comic full of obscure characters, I might be contributing that extra bit of money that would help it stave off cancelation. But yeah, the first arc was pretty lame. When McKelvie was on that book, though, it was pretty excellent.

The Hall thing does matter to players. A lot. They want championship rings first and foremost, but past that, Hall of Fame enshrinement is the next biggest thing they want to achieve. And it matters to fans too.

As for the vote, I dunno. Spitballs, scuffing, and corked bats are cheating, but people find them oddly charming. Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton absolutely cheated at baseball and are in the Hall. Steroids are cheating and people become literally angry with rage that anyone would do such a thing, and under no circumstances will we let such a person in. It’s weird.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Thank you for the “un-redacted” cover of FAUST. I remember reading the first 5 or so issues when they came out ages ago. I managed to obtain up to # 13 some years back after DIAMOND stopped shipping “Adult” comics over the border. Apparently Canada is considered underage. ;-)

You have to admire the creators’ committment to getting the series done, no matter how long it took.
Maybe they’ll do an omnibus and not only collect all 15 issues, but the spin-off series as well.
You’ll have to check those out when you do your in-depth analysis of the series.

Good luck, It’s quite wordy if not eye-opening. My only reqret is that the series wasn’t in colour. :-)

Alex: Yeah, good point about the price. Marvel can get away with it for some of their books, but I have no idea why they thought it would work for Defenders.

Mecha-Shiva: Sure, the Hall is big for the players, but the people who are bitching about no one getting it aren’t players. I don’t know why it matters to fans, though. I mean, I grew up loving the Phillies and I guess I’m glad Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt are in the Hall, but I don’t really care – it’s far more important to me that they won the World Series in 1980. And that’s the other point – there are so many cheaters in the Hall that it’s ridiculous to keep those guys out. It’s false outrage at their “crimes,” probably because they made so many sportswriters who slobbered all over home run hitters in the 1990s look like idiots.

Tom: Man, the spin-offs of Faust are so bad, I want to forget I ever read them. I do still own them, so maybe I’ll crack them open to do a longer post, but I’d rather ignore them completely!

I am a HUGE fan of Captain America, and I’ve given up on following the monthly comic book because I refuse to pay $3.99 for it. So if I won’t fork over that money for a long-time favorite, I’m really not at all likely to pick up Defenders, either, considering I’ve never been that into it. Maybe if it was three bucks, I’d give it a try. Four, though, no way.

Anyway, thanks for ding a write-up on Faust #15. I did an in-depth review of the final two issues on my blog. Here is a link, for those who are interested… http://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/comic-book-reviews-faust-love-of-the-damned-acts-14-15/

As for M (the Devil) engaging in pretentious speechifying, Vigil explained that’s the whole point, he talks too damn much, and one of his big failings is he’s so in love with the sound of his own voice that it actually gets in the way of him going ahead & carrying out his plans! There again you have more satire from Quinn & Vigil, sending up the speechifying tendencies of comic book supervillains.

I loved THE DEFENDERS so very, very much. I just can’t fathom why a title that fantastic wouldn’t have found an audience. I mean, Pussycat, Agent of S.C.O.R.E. I felt like Fraction really summed up the title’s demise in one of the little corner-page dialogues; FORGET THANOS THE DEFENDERS HAS BIG BLACK BIRDS
Oh, well! HAWKGUY’s good fun and all, but I think THE DEFENDERS will stand as Fraction’s best work.

I’ll take a chance on a book that looks kinda interesting but I’m not necessarily that into if it’s $2.99. There’s a decent chance I’ll give it 2 or 3 issues to catch me. But a $3.99 book I pretty much have to be a fan of the creators ahead of time, or at best it gets one issue to reel me in. If Defenders had been a $2.99 book I definitely would have given the first couple issues a try. Marvel has thankfully stopped making all their mini-series $3.99 an issue, (which at one point I counted 10 issues in a month I skipped because of price point), but I still skip a lot of stuff by them that I would have bought at $2.99. Not saying that’s why Defenders didn’t last, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it played a part.

Is Faust #15 only the fifteenth issue total in the series, or has it been relaunched at some point? I could swear I remember issues of that comic coming out when I was in college back in the 90′s. Your description of it here actually makes me want to check it out if it’s ever collected. I always thought it was basically just a torture porn type book.

I love those Chronicles books that DC puts out. Maybe 40s reprints are just something people don’t do? I for one would be all over a chronicles style reprint series of Marvel stuff. Where’s my golden age Namor dammit??

As for the Hall, I’m pretty freaking sick of the pretentiousness of sports writers in general. It’s been proven that nobody gives a shit about the purity of any of the games except the writers. It’s all about the money. We just had a buch of lockouts. Anybody remember those? What people involved in those were really just about the game? I really wonder where this sanctimonious streak comes from. Are all the writers frustrated politicians?

Are all the writers frustrated politicians?

Pretty much, yes.

I think they should just remove the character clause. Who goes to the Hall of Fame to see players with the “best character,” especially when we know for a fact that it is filled with plenty of guys (like Ty Cobb) with awful character? It is a useless term.

You remove that term from the voting requirements and you just vote in the best players of all-time. Then you trust the parents taking their kids to the museum to fill in the back story.

There’s no “Ty Cobb was a racist asshole” exhibit at the Hall of Fame, but everyone still knows it, because people pass it along in the collective memory. The same will go for the steroid guys.

Comment #2 on the Hall while we’re at it:

Can we please stop ignoring the 80s Tigers? Can we at least get someone in there from that ’84 team? I’m dying here.

Perhaps the greatest injust that the Hall has visited upon the players the last fifteen years or so has been the fact that Lou Whitaker fell off the ballot entirely. It is lame that Trammell can’t get elected, but at least he stayed on the ballot! Whitaker was one of the greats of his era and he can’t even be VOTED on!

Someone (I forget who. I think it was ESPN’s Baseball blogger) made a great point that it seems like the voters just pick one player from each era and then that’s pretty much it. So if you’re Lou Whitaker and you’re not Ryne Sandberg, well, sorry, pal, Sandberg is the 1980s second baseman. Trammell has it even worse as one of the few positions where they HAVE elected multiple players in the same era also happens to be the same one where there are THREE “better” choices than Trammell (Ozzie Smith, Robin Yount and Cal Ripken).

It is ridiculous to suggest that even as the leagues have dramatically expanded, somehow you can’t elect two great players from a single era per position.

Trammell and Whitaker should have both gotten very serious consideration at least. Also Tim Raines should have gotten in easily. And though I have always been a fan, Jim Rice has no business being in.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 11, 2013 at 4:09 am

@ Jazzbo: FAUST IS a torture porn book! One can’t NOT help but be fascinated at how much worse it could get. (besides, the art isn’t too bad) ;-)

My gripe about the HOF, other than Bonds and Clemens absolutely belong, is that it’s going to hurt the economy of that part of NY. It’s sad, it’s like their Christmas sales season.

Of course… I grew up there.

I think Defenders reads best as a 12 issue story. In my mind, I don’t break it down into arcs. After reading 12 I thought “This is THE best meta-superhero story ever conceived. Morrison, Ellis, Moore cannot touch this book.” I thought it was fantastic, and I’m actually happy it ended. I haven’t read Hawkeye yet but Immortal Iron Fist and Defenders guarantee that I will.

The beard is looking good! Looks like it will be nice and thick. I’m envious.

Thanks for reviewing POINT OF IMPACT all the way through, Greg. I’ve seen a lot of people compare it to a cop show, and on one hand I get that, but on the other, I don’t, because these characters are only invested in THIS specific murder. I mean, in order to keep all three characters involved, any sort of sequel would have to be ANOTHER murder that was personal for all three of them — which seems ludicrous. This was it — four issues and done. I don’t have plans to ever do anything with these characters again because their story is finished. But I’m glad you dug it! We certainly had fun putting it together.

Defenders tried too hard to be Nextwave. As pretty as it was, and as snappy as the writing was, it came across as trying too hard, and plenty of people felt Nextwave was trying too hard to be clever. I really wanted to like Defenders, but I could tell after two issues it would only ever be a back issue bin title for me.

You remove that term from the voting requirements and you just vote in the best players of all-time. Then you trust the parents taking their kids to the museum to fill in the back story.

Maybe baseball fan parents are different than other parents, but I think this is an argument for keeping in the character clause. If they drop the clause so these athletes do have a shot at getting in, at the very least you need a prominent section of their displays to mention the facts around their records, similar to what you might see about Wernher von Braun’s backstory at a science museum.

Have fun growing a beard, Greg. I grew one when each of my daughters were born and kept it around for most of a year. I kept it fairly trim and I don’ t think it looked bad, but I went back to a goatee after 9-12 months. It got to be scratchy and was really no fun in the summer.

Oh yeah, and I hope Snopes gets on the ball about debunking that Newtown conspiracy. It’s just depressing that that kind of garbage is floating around. It’s not even something that should need to be addressed, but now that it’s out there, no amount of evidence will ever silence the conspiracy nuts.

hey, I’m a lurker! Hi Mr. Burgas, long time lurker, first time commenter. Actually I just commented because you said so, maybe I’ll comment more later(actually, I have a few questions that i would love to hear your answer, so yeah, I’ll coment more later)

This might have been my final issue of Mind the Gap. I love the murder mystery part of the story, but there isn’t a single character in the book that I care about. I’ll stick with Mind MGMT for comics that have “Mind” in the title.

Love the beard, Greg. I’m expecting you to let it grow to Alan Moore/Jason Aaron proportions! :-)

Ben: That’s a very cool review of Faust. I know the trades are available, but maybe there will be giant, 15-issue collection in the future!

Jazzbo: The regular series is 15 issues, but they did start coming out in 1988, so you might remember those. But Quinn and Vigil did a bunch of spin-offs in the late 1990s/early 2000s for Avatar, and they’re pretty terrible. Odd because it’s the same creative team, but they felt far more exploitative and ridiculous than the main series ever did.

All the back-and-forth about the HoF just makes it clear how ridiculous and capricious the writers are. Some guy in the AZ Republic left his ballot completely blank to make a statement. That’s fine, but if you don’t want to vote for Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa, why not vote for someone else who you think is “clean” and deserves enshrinement? I mean, I don’t think Biggio necessarily deserves to get in, but voting for him and not the Big Three would make a statement, I think.

And Brian’s right – there’s this feeling that they can’t elect too many of the same position from a certain era, which is ridiculous. If someone is good enough to get into the Hall, it shouldn’t matter that they happened to play at the same time as three other people who player their position and are good enough. That does happen, after all. It doesn’t seem to affect voting for pitchers.

joe: That’s an interesting point of view. I’ll have to see if I agree with it!

David: Thanks, sir. There’s one thing I’ve never had a problem with, and it’s growing hair. Staying in shape … well, that’s a whole different story!

Jay: Oh, sure, I get that – maybe it’s more like a cop MOVIE. I know the reason I wrote it was because it felt episodic (even though it wasn’t; the single issue format just made it feel that way) and I thought Abby, at least, was a pretty interesting character, so even though the case was personal to her, she’s still a cop, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of her story. I’m sure there’s an example of a cop show that has a pilot where the case is personal, but then the others aren’t. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m glad you told the story, and I look forward to your next book!

joshschr: Yeah, I’m really not looking forward to summer in Arizona with it!

Spuky: Thanks for saying hello! I’ll be happy to answer any questions I can!

Pedro: That’s probably the biggest issue I have with it, too. It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker for me, but I can certainly understand that. In a story like this, I think the puzzle helps overcome the fact that I don’t love the characters yet, but we’ll see if that changes.

I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to groom the beard or let it go crazy like Moore and Aaron. We shall see!

Growing hair’s a good thing not to have a problem with! Unfortunately I do have a problem with it though weirdly not on my face, body, ears or nose. Not sure I’m digging the beard though ; it is however an effective double chin hider. Great blog as ever!

Blair: It’s only been ten days, so I’ll have to see how it grows in. I do agree that it’s good to hide the double chin! :) Thanks for the nice words!

1.)The problem with The Defenders was simple– Red She-Hulk. Ri-goddamn-diculous character
2.)If those pics are up-to-date that is one slow growing beard.
3.)Falling to Pieces – Faith No More= Awesome song from an awesome album.

azjohnson5: Really? I have no idea how long it takes to grow a beard – that’s ten days of growth. I know plenty of people who would have hardly any growth after ten days, and a few who might have more, but I honestly don’t know if it’s slow or not. Most of the people I see regularly are women (teachers and therapists, mostly), so I can’t really judge!

Falling to Pieces is probably my favorite song on that album. It’s the song that got me to buy it – “Epic” was good, but not enough to make me pick it up. Then I heard Falling to Pieces, and I was on board!

Off the rails? A lot of people weren’t happy with the depiction of Amazons and a particular twist in #7, but creatively the middle section of the Wonder Woman run thus far was as strong as any other part. With more direct antagonism there was a tighter focus to the plot of #7-10, and Akins put forth a really solid effort and earned his spot as co-artist. If there’s any dip in quality in my opinion it would be after #12.

Hope you enjoy the trade!

Yeah. By 2 weeks that bad boy should look like a beard. Not Grizzly Adams, but facial HAIR. By 4 weeks you should need to seriously comb it. Which bring me to beard-care– obviously, shampoo it everytime you shampoo your hair. If you don’t shampoo everytime you shower, don’t be afraid of using regular soap. When you wash it is massage it, this helps prevent ingrown hairs (which are a BITCH) If you don’t have one already, you can’t go wrong with investing in a clipper set. makes trimming so much simpler. P.S. Don’t be afraid to use a #2 on those eye brows. It’s unfortunate, but you are at that age.Your’s is still stubble. Nothing wrong with that.

Good luck on the beard, man! It’ll grow at whatever rate it grows at (unless azjohnson5 knows some secrets to accelerated beard growth that he’s willing to share).

I’m all for the full-on Alan Moore crazy mountain man beard, but be aware you’ll wind up chewing on your mustache eventually. Trimming your mustache might be a necessity down the line.

Duff: Good to know. Maybe I’ll get the second trade, but of course it will depend on the first one!

azjohnson5: Yeah, I’ve always had bushy eyebrows, even when I was but a young lad. Notice that in the final two pictures that they’re a bit better – I got a haircut and the woman who cuts it trimmed my brows. I’ve never had long hair – my hair tends to curl a lot instead of growing long – so I’m curious to see what the facial hair will do.

Ian: I’ll have to see if I start chewing!

OK, just Followed you, GB; gimme a Follow back @EditButler.

Will be amusing to watch you try to say things in <141 characters!

@Jay Faerber: Will there be a trade of Point of Impact? I missed the singles at my shop but wanna get the book cuz I like your stuff (someone liked Ringer and it was ME, dammit!). I blame Greg for not telling me about the book soon enough to order it at my shop. Yeah, that’s it. (Yes, it was probably on Flippin’, but I missed it cuz I’m dumb.)

As for the Hall stuff, I read one commenter/newspaper opinionator suggest that the Hall change from a Hall of Fame to just a museum. When I was there last (uh…5 1/2 years ago, I think? The Schilling bloody sock was there from the year before still.), I couldn’t tell the difference of what was “Hall” and what wasn’t. (OK, I could, but the difference is negligible and arbitrary, let’s put it that way.)

It’s like how the Rock N Roll HOF is now faced with either adding a lot of rap and all, which makes the RNR part of the name a bit silly, or ignoring that stuff and looking out of touch (well, MORE out of touch). Now they’ve got a year or two to stick in a few cool bands that haven’t been in yet (yay RUSH!) until we get Nirvana and Pearl Jam in a few years. Then, shit, they’ve got… until the end of time for anyone else. Who else debuted since ’89 that’s any good? ;)

At that rate of growth, you won’t go full on Moore/Aaron beard for awhile. Like, ’til ’17. HA!!! No, it’s cool dude. Join us in our giant beard-ness that you can make a weekly soup from!

I go with shaving the ‘stache myself, as the hairs grow long over my lip and are annoying to chew, so there’s that. I also should condition my beard more, cuz I’ll get a bunch of stray hairs poking about.

Anyway, I hope you go for a crazy beard, and I hope that you wash out that bowl you use for your haircuts before you use it for anything else! (HA!!! I kid with the kidding because we’re internet pals, y’know? Hell, I can’t remember the last time I paid for a haircut either.)

Good column as usual, I always enjoy reading your thoughts on the various comics, even if you’ve dropped or switched to trades on most of the comics I read. Wolverine and the X-Men is really good right now, and thanks to marvel, you’re barely saving money anyway!

Also, I think over the top Joker moment of the year goes to the last isse of Batman and Robin I parsed through in the shop. About as clear a message as any that DC doesn’t want any kid reading one of their books. Almost Faustian in violence shown.

Hello.

That is all.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 12, 2013 at 8:43 am

as for the beard thing. You can do all sorts of things with it. Turn it into a mullet. or a goatee. or a fu machu mustache. or any of those SONS of ANARCHY characters sporting something or the other.

Just DON’T expect kisses or cuddles from da wife! ;-)

GarBut: Thanks, sir! Done and done! You’re right, though – it’s hard writing stuff in 140 characters, especially because I can’t bring myself to use shorthand!

Travis: I wrote about Point of Impact before it came out, so yeah, that’s one you.

I get my hair cut by a very nice lady who charges me quite a bit of money. I would just go to a barber around the corner, but my wife insists I go to a more expensive “stylist.” She doesn’t care if I spend the money, so I go. I’ll tell her that you think it looks like I use a bowl to cut it. She’ll be a big fan of that! :)

Ziah: I enjoyed the first trade of Wolverine and the X-Men, but Marvel is trying to force me to buy the single issues – the second trade is, I think, a dollar more than if I bought the single issues! So I’ll catch up eventually, but not right now!

Grimmer: Hello! Thanks for commenting!

Tom: Yeah, my wife is already avoiding me. Of course, she’s been avoiding me for years, so it’s probably not the beard!

Mr. Burgas: Maybe it’s your comic book hobby. If that’s the case, trade her in for another one! ;-)

Tom: I can’t even conceive of a woman who’d want to live anywhere within 1000 feet of me, so I’m holding onto my wife with everything I have!!! :)

Greg – gonna de-lurk right now. Read your posts every week and you are my comic book critic of choice. Back in the day of Siskel and Ebert, I was aligned with Ebert most of the time. You are my Comic Book Ebert. Look forward to What I Bought every week and often pick up something good that I missed based on your recommendations. Thanks for all of the reviews!

Enjoy your political writings as well. Always feel better about Goofy Ohio after reading about Nutty Arizona!

Bret: I’m flattered, and I hope I don’t disappoint you too often! Thanks a lot for reading and commenting. And you’re right – Arizona is pretty nutty!

Hey Greg, thanks for the shout-out & link. I was purposely waiting to break down the Oscar nominations until after the Golden Globes, so I could write about both things together as a sort of “Awards season update” post, which I’ve now done:

http://thirdmanmovies.blogspot.com/2013/01/thoughts-on-oscar-nominations-and.html

Overall, I was incredibly disappointed in a few of the nominations. You’ve heard me rally for Argo before, but Affleck’s snub is honestly the most shocking Oscar snub since Hoop Dreams in ’94. But it won Best Picture & Director at the Golden Globes (who knew that all this time I was just predicting the wrong awards ceremony?) and I think it has at least a decent shot to upset Lincoln at the Oscars. Though at this point, yes, Lincoln is the clear front runner. I’m also deeply disappointed that John Hawkes didn’t get a Best Actor nomination for his wonderful work in The Sessions, which I strongly encourage everyone to see.

As for your reviews, I mostly agree with everything this week, except your choice of which Faust page to show. Obviously if 26 pages in that book show genitalia, the page you picked isn’t really very Airwolf, now is it?

Regarding the baseball Hall of Fame, I agree that it seems a bit screwed up, but I have great sympathy for the people voting on it. While I’m only a casual baseball fan, I do consider myself a pretty knowledgeable music historian, and I’m friends with two people on the nominating committee at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I talk to them every year about how difficult their job is and how many things go into consideration. They take it incredibly seriously and really feel they have a duty to history to sort of get it right, and yet all they hear every day is people bitching about how wrong it all is and that it’s a joke. I was listening to Tim Kurkjian on ESPN the other day discussing the issue, and he said that he voted for the maximum ten names, while other writers he talked to didn’t pick any. Man, that can’t be easy, being tasked with trying to help decide precisely what history should recognize. Like I said, I agree that they didn’t do a good job this year, but I’m sympathetic to their plight.

I’m looking forward to your review of the Defenders trade. I read the first 9 issues of the series, which I really liked. Then when they announced it was ending, I just figured I’d wait til I bought issue 12 and read the whole series in one sitting. Which I still haven’t done yet, so I don’t know how it ends.

Also, go beards. I expect every post this year to have a picture update.

I am pissed, Third Man, since I meant to write you an argument awhile back about Lincoln over Argo (under the theory that enough time had passed since his last win that Spielberg would not suffer from voter fatigue, as his last Oscar win was over a decade ago and as we just saw from Streep last year, if you go long enough without actually WINNING, the whole voter fatigue thing has less of an effect) but I forgot to do so and now how can’t really take credit for the argument. Blast!

As for the Hall of Fame stuff, I definitely am sympathetic to the non-asshole Baseball Hall of Fame voters. They are stuck in a tough spot. I am not sympathetic at all to the asshole ones, though. I get the idea of people debating whether, say, Jack Morris or Tim Raines is a Hall of Famer. That’s a legitimate debate. And while I think it is stupid, I’ll at least allow that if you want to punish dudes who cheated with steroids, then I at least understand it. But not putting guys like Craig Biggio or Mike Piazza in? That’s just douchebaggery.

Brian-

I definitely agree that voter fatigue stops having an effect after a while, and indeed even eventually becomes the opposite. But I just don’t know if Spielberg is there yet. Keep in mind, when Streep won last year, she had been mired in a 29-year/12-nomination losing streak, which is incredible. It’s only been 14 years since Spielberg won for Saving Private Ryan, and he only has one other nomination during that stretch (Munich). All of this isn’t to say that he won’t win, as he’s clearly the front-runner and I think it would be surprising to see anyone else win. I just don’t think it’s necessarily fair to compare him to Streep, who voters had already seen lose three Oscar races just in the last five years by the time she won again for The Iron Lady.

I’m curious, as a man of good taste yourself, what did you think of Lincoln? Honestly I had a few problems with it. Overall, I do think it is quite good, and what I’m about to say is mostly nitpicking, but I was definitely disappointed in some aspects of it and thought it should have been better. The screenplay consistently featured some of the best dialogue I can ever recall hearing, and each scene is like a master class in how to write the perfect scene. But when all of the scenes are lined up against one another, it felt wrong. I think the choices Kushner made in what to include and what to leave out honestly left a lot to be desired. Too many of the characters felt short-changed, too many scenes felt unnecessary even as other times it felt like a scene had been left out. I just think the basic structure/outline of the movie was kind of off. And in the climactic scene, we heard from several characters that we hadn’t even seen yet, which I think is another example of poor structuring. It seems like the movie would have been better suited for a 6 or 8 hour HBO mini-series, where the characters and situations could be more fully developed and momentum wouldn’t have been such a problem. I also thought the movie was visually boring. To borrow a line from Grantland’s Andy Greenwald, it’s like Spielberg was handed a screenplay for a 2 1/2 hour movie of all people talking in dark rooms and he had no idea what to do with it. And I also didn’t like the decision to continue on to the Ford Theater. I thought the final shot of the film should have been Lincoln walking down the hallway of the White House, on his way to the play. While the film was wise in not showing the assassination, I thought even continuing to that point was totally unnecessary.

Like I said, overall, still a very good film, with monumental acting and consistently wonderful dialogue. But I wanted a timeless masterpiece and I don’t think it was one. Argo, to be fair, was less ambitious. But I also thought Argo was better executed and basically flawless. Anyway, I’ll have my top 25 movies of the year piece done sometime in the next few weeks and I’ll share with everyone here.

As for the Baseball Hall of Fame voting, as I said, I’m more of a casual fan of the sport and don’t know too much about the history. But from what I gather, two major things contributed to Biggio and Piazza failing the vote. For some voters, it was an issue of distinguishing them as Hall of Famers, but not First Ballot Hall of Famers (I know this was Biggio’s first appearance on the ballot, and I believe it was for Piazza as well). Many voters feel that’s something that needs to be distinguished, and the belief is neither of these guys quite belongs in the category of first ballot selections, but they’ll probably get in next year.

The other thing I’ve heard is the steroids issue. To be clear, I am not accusing either of them as having done steroids. But the perception among many voters seems to be that if you played in the 90′s and/or early 00′s, you hit a lot of home runs, and you seemed pretty ripped, then the odds that you did steroids are high, and therefore, we don’t want to let you in. It seems like it’s a guilty by association vote. And both Biggio and Piazza hit a lot of home runs from positions that don’t normally produce a lot of home runs, which further makes it seem like something fishy was going on. And again, I’m not suggesting either of them is guilty here, but I can at least see how the “guilty until proven innocent” situation of the steroids era might apply to them. And I’m curious whether that lingering perception of the era might also hurt the hall of fame candidacies of players that will be up in the next few years, such as Pedro, Frank Thomas, and Pudge.

But we do know one thing for sure: Maddux will get in on the first ballot next year.

Greg-

I just noticed Superior Spider-Man wasn’t on here. Are you still getting all of the Marvel Now first issues? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it, as well as Savage Wolverine for this week (which I quite liked).

Third Man: Yeah, I totally forgot to get it, and then my shop sold out. If they get second printings, I’ll probably pick it up, but we’ll see. I actually flipped through it at the store, but then my brain cramped up and I didn’t keep it. I did get Savage Wolverine, though!

DC and Marvel have done many storylines in which opinion-makers (politicians, the media) have turned the public against superheroes. Given how many people believe the birther and truther claims, it’s not at all a stretch to imagine conspiracy theories being a fixture in these universes. For instance:

Superman is a bio-weapon created by the US military
The CIA killed Dr. Doom and replaced him with their own Doombot
The real Captain America died and his replacement works for the New World Order
Green Lantern’s ring projections are nothing but holographic special effects
Professor X controls the minds of the Republicans (or Democrats) in Congress
Lex Luthor is stoking the Mideast conflicts so he can sell his energy technology
The Joker was framed to cover up government hit squads
Etc.

Sure, comics have done stories like these before. Spider-Man and the X-Men are menaces, Daredevil is really Matt Murdock, the Secret Empire replaced the president, etc. But in the real world, superheroes and villains would be inundated in fan clubs, websites, stalkers, and conspiracy theories. These things would be a constant part of their lives, not an occasional storyline.

I agree with Third Man about “Lincoln.” For similar reasons, if not exactly the same reasons. For instance, I was always aware of Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Fields, Tommy Lee Jones, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as actors as well as their characters. They weren’t quite buried in their characters the way some no-name actors might’ve been.

Overall, I’d say “Lincoln” was a good but not great historical drama. It may deserve a nomination, but in a good year, it wouldn’t win Best Picture. Heck, I think “The Avengers” was a better movie and more deserving of the Oscar.

Rob: I haven’t seen Lincoln, but of course The Avengers had as much chance of getting nominated as a comedy usually does!

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