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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 20 March 2013

Chew32 (2)

An old Ukrainian proverb warns, “A tale that begins with a beet will end with the devil.”

That is a risk we will have to take. (Tom Robbins, from Jitterbug Perfume)

E Pluribus Bling! This mode of transport can't be too quick, can it? Man, that's an ugly cover Nice cover, but completely irrelevant to the contents inside! Ripping off The Clash! Feel the excitement!!!! Dude, smoking is bad for you! That's a weird drawing, yo So much rage!!!! THE GREATEST COMIC EVAH!!!!! DD: The MacGuffin Hunt!

Chew32Chew #32 (“Bad Apples Part 2 of 5″) by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Taylor Wells (color assistant). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

This is your typically good issue of Chew, but it’s good partially because it’s so dense. It’s a bit late because of that (plus Layman and Guillory got to go to France, where Chew is popular), but with comics like this, tardiness doesn’t matter too much because the product is so good. So in this issue we get a hostage stand-off which Tony figures out how to solve by using his power (it’s nice to see him using it without having to do something disgusting), but then we follow Colby after the case as he figures out what Cesar is really doing and who he’s really working with. It’s a nice, relatively calm issue (which means there’s only one panel of Poyo fighting a molasses monster) but it moves the plot along nicely. Layman does give us a bit with Tony, who’s changed a bit since his recent ordeals, as he’s through taking shit from his boss. We also find out what Olive is able to do with food, and there’s the usual Kirkman-teasing, which has become a nice staple of Chew issues. Layman shows how well he is writing dialogue when Tony calls Olive, and Guillory, as usual, shows how well he complements that dialogue with excellent facial expressions. There’s a nine-panel grid of Tony and Olive’s conversation that should be taught in schools, because it’s so simple yet so effective.

Plus, there’s the fact that Layman and Guillory call out Willy Wonka’s child abuse practices. That dude’s just shifty.

I don’t want to be a broken record, but Chew is really good. Layman even provides a nice recap of some of the key events of the series!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Colby speaks from the heart!

Colby speaks from the heart!

So much good stuff on this page. First, there’s another wacky food-based power from the odd mind of Layman. Colby’s reaction is very well done, including his apology to Tony. This is the first indication that we get of Tony’s new bad-assery, as he ignores Colby and demands a hand grenade. Guillory does his usual superb job, too – look at Tony’s face throughout the entire page, as he moves through different thoughts. Colby’s sheepishness in Panel 6 is nice, too. And, of course, the dude picking his nose is priceless. There’s usually a lot on every page of Chew, and this is a good example of why it’s such a dense comic.

DarkHorsePresents22Dark Horse Presents #22. “George Armstrong Custer: The Middle Years” by Howard Chaykin (writer/artist), Jesus Aburto, and Ken Bruzenak (letterer); “Alabaster: Boxcar Tales Part 5″ by Caitlín R. Kiernan (writer), Steve Lieber (artist/letterer), and Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist); “The Victories: Babalon Fading Part 3″ by Michael Avon Oeming (writer/artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), and Aaron Walker (letterer); “Journeyman Chapter 3″ by Geoffrey Thorne (writer) and Todd Harris (artist/letterer); “Arcade Boy Part Two” by Denis Medri (writer/artist), Paolo Francescutto (colorist), and Frank J. Barbiere (letterer); “Villainman” by Patrick Alexander (writer/artist); “Beneath the Ice Part II” by Simon Roy (writer/artist) and Jason Wordie (writer/colorist/letterer); “Clark Collins and the Exponential Attraction” by Kel McDonald (writer/artist); “Villain House Chapter 2: Satan’s Son” by Shannon Wheeler (writer/artist); “F.P.B.C.” by Steve Moncuse (writer/artist), Brennan Wagner (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), and Lois Buhalis (letterer). $7.99, 80 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

The highlight of this issue of DHP might be something that I didn’t put in the credits, because I wasn’t sure how to do it: Mike Richardson interviews Geof Darrow (as you can see advertised on the cover), and even though the entire interview isn’t in it, it’s still pretty darned fascinating (I’d link to the whole thing if I could, but I can’t seem to find it on Dark Horse’s web site). The actual comics are good, too, but I find insight from creators very interesting. You may not, of course!

Anyway, Chaykin’s back, with a counterfactual that gives Custer some Hotchkiss guns at Little Big Horn, so he doesn’t get annihilated. It’s narrated by his wife, and it’s clever enough – Custer ends up president, but he’s still a spoiled war monger, just in a position to do far greater damage (which, of course, his wife doesn’t care about, because she thinks Custer is just so awesome). There are your typical serials in the issue, doing their thing and doing them well, but I won’t get into those. Alexander’s “Villainman” is a nice one-off joke – he “helps people by committing violent crimes!” and does so with relish. McDonald’s “Clark Collins” story is fun – it’s about a geeky teenager who “solves” “mysteries” which aren’t all that mysterious, like why a bunch of girls are suddenly signing up for Mathletes. But it’s charming enough, and it seems like it could work as a longer serial, as long as McDonald was able to keep the light tone of this story. Wheeler’s “Villain House” is the kind of thing I wish we’d see more from DC or Marvel, as a man goes on a blind date with a woman who dates a lot of supervillains. I think it would be fascinating to read about regular people in the DCnU or Marvel U. who really like to date superpeople. But maybe that’s just me. Finally, Moncuse is back with a silent Fish Police story, and it looks superb. His art from the 1980s was fine, but it felt a bit slight. Perhaps Wagner’s excellent colors add some heft to Moncuse’s lines, but whatever it is, it’s a beautiful-looking story, and clever to boot.

Much like Chew, DHP just keeps trucking along, giving us very good comics. What are the odds?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Angry kissin' is the best kissin'!

Angry kissin’ is the best kissin’!

There’s not much to say about this page – it pretty much speaks for itself. I love Panel 6, where a prehistoric Inspector Gill tries to back out of finding the woman’s egg because, well, he’s a coward. So she uses the old “smackeroo” persuasion, and that’s enough for him!

Deadpool6Deadpool #6 (“National Maul”) by Brian Posehn (writer), Gerry Duggan (writer), Tony Moore (artist), Val Staples (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), and Jordan D. White (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel. Wade Wilson created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. S.H.I.E.L.D. and Thor created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Doctor Strange created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Steve Rogers created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Posehn, Duggan, and Moore end their arc (and probably Moore’s involvement with the book) on a nice, violent note, as all bets are off and a lot of bodies hit the ground. Posehn and Duggan keep the humor level high, though, as Deadpool has been somehow keeping track of how many presidents there are, so we get a page about how five other zombie presidents were dispatched (in typical gruesomely humorous fashion). The writers even put some pathos in the comic, as Wade thinks about what happened in issue #5 and even Washington gets a final say that’s a bit more heartfelt than you might expect (although Deadpool then dropkicks him someplace, so it doesn’t last long). Both Captain America and Thor get fun lines, and the book ends with a pseudo-cliffhanger (not much to do with the actual arc, but sets up the status quo of this book fairly well). I’m a bit disappointed Ben Franklin doesn’t show up in this issue, but such is life, I suppose.

This has been a very strong comic, and it ends pretty well. I encourage you to get the trade – Moore’s art is always beautiful, and Duggan and Posehn have balanced the humor and the violence very well, plus they’ve managed to get some good jokes past the censors (see below). I’m not sure if I’m going to keep buying this when Mike Hawthorne takes over on art, even though I like Hawthorne. I might just switch to trades, ’cause that’s how I roll. We’ll see.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Marvel should publish a 'Taft Smash' comic

Marvel should publish a ‘Taft Smash’ comic

We never actually find out what Deadpool’s question about Taft’s presidency is. That’s too bad – what trenchant insight might Wade have given us? The first panel contains deliberately lame jokes, but the writers make up for it with Wade’s aside in Panel 4. That “AR” symbol hasn’t become any less annoying since Marvel introduced it, however.

Elephantmen47Elephantmen #47 (“Sleeping Partners Part Six: Behind the Shifting Clouds”) by Richard Starkings (writer/letterer) and Axel Medellin (artist). $3.99, 36 pgs, FC, Image.

Starkings finally sends his characters to the moon, where we knew they were going to end up eventually, and they discover a secret Chinese base where they made their own hybrids, except, as we’ve seen, they used tigers, so their “elephantmen” are much sleeker and cooler than Mappo’s. Of course, the “classic” hybrids are probably a lot tougher than those tigers, but it’s all about looking cool, man!

There are a couple of pages devoted to other plots – Obadiah is getting the nanomachines purged from his system so he can’t be controlled, and some corporate dude tells Sahara she can’t keep her baby, which is not going to be a very nice thing for Obadiah to hear. But the rest of the issue is almost an info-dump, which means it’s not exactly the most exciting issue of Elephantmen around. That’s okay, though – Starkings has piled up a lot of stuff in the years that the series has been running, so recapping it every once in a while isn’t a bad idea, and it’s not like the issue is bad, just that it takes its time getting to the inevitable conclusion (which involves the cool-ass tigers, of course!). And when Medellin is drawing things so well, a recap issue is tolerable – the page below is the most fun of the issue (and indicates that Ebony is having some issues), but Medellin also draws a stunning full-page tiger at one point, and he’s gotten really good at expressing the characters’ thoughts through their facial expressions – when Sahara hears that she’s not going to able to keep the baby, Medellin does a really nice job with her reaction.

I imagine there’s going to be some violence next issue, because the tigers don’t look happy, but we’ll see, won’t we. Even though this isn’t the best issue of Elephantmen, it’s still a good way to remind us of all the interesting stuff that’s been going on as Starkings gears up for issue #50. I’m looking forward to see how Starkings gets us there.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

We've missed you, Vanya

We’ve missed you, Vanya

I know Medellin does some very nice pin-ups for The Line It Is Drawn, so maybe I shouldn’t have featured another one, but I love this drawing. I think the way Medellin adds the snow is excellent – it looks like white blobs rather than snowflakes, which is more “realistic” – and you have to love the ax that Vanya is carrying. Starkings switches nicely to “Conan-speak” with Vanya’s bad-ass dialogue, which makes the page stand out even more. It might not show of Medellin’s storytelling skills, but it’s a wonderful drawing nevertheless.

MindMgmt9Mind Mgmt #9 (“The Futurist Chapter 3″) by Matt Kindt (writer/artist), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Brendan Wright (editor). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Mind Mgmt is really, really good, y’all. I know that kind of goes without saying, but in a week where another critical darling that isn’t half as good as it is comes out (cough*Saga*cough) but will get everyone in a tizzy because Alana uses Marko’s horns as handlebars while they fuck, Matt Kindt’s weird comic just keeps on kicking ass. (That’s not to say that almost everything I read this week is better than Space Porn #11, but those other books have been running for a while – Chew and Elephantmen – or didn’t actually come out this week – Westward – and both this and Shoot It In My Twat #11 are relatively new books.) Mind Mgmt keeps getting better now that Kindt has established this weird world, and while issue #7 – the first of this arc – was the best one at that point, I think this might be better. We discover something about Henry Lyme that’s fairly important, and the new team – Meru, Lyme, Perrier, and Dusty – decides to find Duncan, who can kill anything (or so they think). Kindt ends the issue with a biography of Dusty, set to the “tune” of one of his albums, with the tracks reflecting his rise from street urchin to pop star, and it’s really an amazing achievement. Kindt continues to challenge the way he tells stories, from the end of this issue to the continuing vignettes about Mind Management agents, and he continues to challenge the readers with the way he draws the stories, as he gives us a page of Meru-as-avenging goddess in one place, while the way he transitions to Meru thinking about Dusty’s life is wonderful, too. Plus, of course, there’s the ongoing mystery of Mind Management itself, which is always interesting. Even the satirical album cover of Dusty’s album is well done.

I don’t mean to pick on that other comic, which I’m about to review. I just think it’s self-evident that it’s not even close to some comics, and I’m vexed that stuff like Mind Mgmt isn’t getting as much press. I assume Kindt will be able to keep doing this as long as he wants, which is great, and I hope people realize that it’s a budding masterpiece and they shouldn’t miss it just because they want to watch aliens fucking!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Dang, Meru

Dang, Meru

First, note the writing on the side, part of a story Kindt is telling in the margins that seems to tie into the main story, but just as easily might not. I also love how the sound effect of the gun firing carries over from Panel 2 to Panel 3. And I’ve always loved the way Kindt colors his comics, so it’s not surprising that it’s great here.

Saga11Saga #11 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (artist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Now that I’ve pissed off a bunch of Saga fans, here we are! Look, you know me – if you think Saga is the greatest sequential art story since the Bayeux Tapestry, that’s great. That’s why we all live in America (everyone reading this lives in the States, right?) where we can think a whole bunch of incorrect things, like that the Dallas Cowboys aren’t completely evil, ESPN is a good network, The Big Bang Theory is a quality television show, and the Pixies are a good band. IT’S OKAY TO BE WRONG, PEOPLE! And you know about my own, tortured relationship with Saga, which runs hot and cold depending, not on what issue I’m reading, but which page in the issue I’m reading. It’s that mercurial!

So: Space Porn in Saga #11. On the first page of this issue, Marko and Alana are fucking. More specifically, they’re having orgasms. That’s fine. I’m not sure if you realize this about me, but for someone who reads a lot of “mature” stuff and curses a lot, I’m remarkably prudish. I’m not someone who wants to stop people from enjoying porn or from having sex with whatever consenting adult(s) they want to have sex with, but I’m always a bit annoyed when I read stuff like this. Most sexual situations in literature strike me as really poorly-written, and the first few pages of Saga #11 are not an exception. In fact, whenever Vaughan indulges in “sexy-talk” between his main characters, it feels really clunky. Who says “I came like a dump truck”? What does that even mean? Is that an expression? I don’t know – I guess I’m not terribly adventurous, and that’s fine, and it’s also not something most people discuss with each other too often, so unless Vaughan is quoting dialogue he’s actually heard in person (and I’m not going any further with that line of thought), the dialogue reads like someone who’s read too many letters to Penthouse. Like a lot of issues of Saga, however, Vaughan quickly moves on to other, better things, but also like a lot of issues of Saga, the idiocy of the writing on just a few pages lingers and bothers me even after I’ve moved on.

Because the main story, where our heroes are trying to escape from the giant space fetus and The Will, is pretty exciting. The Will does something daring, Marko does something noble, and Barr (Marko’s dad) does something awesome. It’s very well done, and it’s again clear that when Vaughan is trying to advance the plot, he can write superb dialogue, but when he sits down and tries to write good dialogue, he’s not very good at it. If that makes sense. It probably doesn’t. All I can say is the line “But then … the clouds … race the …” is brilliant in context, but “That was Sexy Alana! She’s a crazy person!” sounds really dumb. Sigh.

Oh, Saga. What am I going to do with you? Issue #13 was not in the latest Previews, so I assume issue #12 is the end of the arc (the solicit text is ridiculously unhelpful), and I assume they’re going to take another break. Maybe I’ll have to think about it after issue #12. That should be enough time to make a good decision, right? Man, I so want to love this comic. I really do.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Well, crap

Well, crap

Staples is killing it on the book, though, as we see from this page. Just look at Panels 3-5, with The Will’s expressions in the first two, Gwendolyn’s look of fear, and Lying Cat’s totally evil stare. Just that one crooked line segment by Lying Cat’s tail is superb, too, as it’s just enough implied movement to show how excited he is at The Will’s proposition. Staples is getting better and better on this book, so there’s that.

Westward4Westward #4 (of 10) (“Internal Failure”) by Ken Krekeler (writer/artist). $3.50, 32 pgs, BW, Kinetic Press.

Westward #4 came out last week? the week before? but I didn’t review it because I hadn’t read issue #3 yet. Despite pre-ordering it, for some reason my retailer didn’t get it, and I didn’t realize it had come out. So I found a store on-line that could get it, and it took them well over a month to get it to me. But they did, and so I read both issues #3 and 4 this week, but I’m only going to write about issue #4. Okay?

Westward continues to be the best comic no one is reading (well, except Travis), and issue #4 continues with that vein, as Krekeler picks up with the account of the accident that killed Victor West and gave birth to the “manifold” that looks like Victor. In issue #3, we saw how the accident happened, and now we see some of the aftermath. Because this is such a “compressed” comic, though, we get a lot more. At the end of issue #3, an old friend of Victor’s showed up at his office, and after a brief confrontation, he leaves, but he’s made an impact. Meanwhile, we get an intense scene between Victor’s sister, Annabelle, and her daughter, Penelope, about Penelope’s poor grades, which are entirely due to the fact that Penelope doesn’t want to stand out. Then, we get Victor’s hilarious attempts to play secret agent to get close to Aurthur LeRoux, the man who they think is going to buy whatever the terrorist organization C.L.A.W. stole from Westward Enterprises. That goes horribly wrong, too, and it appears Victor was set up. Meanwhile, we do learn what C.L.A.W. stole, and it ain’t good.

One thing that Krekeler keeps managing to do is show how dumb Victor actually is. He’s trying to educate himself and take his life more seriously, but it’s going to take time, and while his attempts at being a secret agent are a bit too buffoonish, at least Krekeler doesn’t turn him into a super-spy immediately. There are enough smart people in this book, so Victor’s Clouseau-like bumbling helps balance that out a bit. Even though he has all these cool gadgets in his body, his personality remains immature, and Krekeler is doing a good job with that. He also does a fine job setting up each scene – the book flows very well, and Krekeler hits some good beats as he goes along. He also does a few clever things with the dialogue to get a lot of it into the book – Bendis has done this kind of thing in the past, turning parts of a page into a stage play, with just name attributions and lines of text, but others have done it, too (Moench on Batman comes to mind), so it’s nifty to see it here. I hope Krekeler doesn’t do it too often, but every once in a while is fine.

Krekeler shows a bit more violence in the artwork, as well. Not necessarily people beating on each other, but explosions and their aftermaths. It’s quite nicely done – after the first explosion, he blurs parts of the page to show how the perceptions of one of the people near the blast have been altered, and the second explosion is very nice, as Victor is right in the center of it. He uses blacks very well in this book, as well (see below). With this kind of artwork, there’s always the chance that the figure work will not integrate well into the backgrounds, but Krekeler doesn’t have that problem.

The collection of the first three issues is in Previews right now, and I encourage you to get it if you’ve missed out on this series. It’s really good. Would I lie to you?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Of course laser beam eyeballs!

Of course laser beam eyeballs!

You can almost hear the desperation in Harold West’s voice as he talks about protecting his children, and Annabelle’s harsh truth is more awful because it affects Harold not one iota. Krekeler makes good use of the black on this page, as Harold is completely enmeshed in darkness, symbolizing his retreat from the outside world. The final panel is nicely done, too, because it’s funny and it shows how much Harold is divorced from reality. Of course, he actually built his manifold, and it has laser beam eyeballs, so who are we to judge?

Wolverine1Wolverine #1 (“Hunting Season Part 1 of 4″) by Paul Cornell (writer), Alan Davis (penciller), Mark Farmer (inker), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer), Jennifer M. Smith (assistant editor), Jeanine Schaefer (editor), and Nick Lowe (group editor). $3.99, 19 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW! Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita Sr., and Herb Trimpe.

I’m going to wax nostalgic for a moment, if you don’t mind. As I read this comic, it reminded me of a certain comic from over 25 years ago, the brilliant Uncanny X-Men #205, featuring Chris Claremont and Barry Windsor-Smith at the tops of their games. In it, Wolverine is stalked by Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers through a snowstorm in Central Park, and he’s acting a bit crazed. He happens to find Katie Power, and she helps him calm down and escape, but not before doling out some extreme justice. It’s a fantastic issue.

So why did I think of that as I read this week-old issue of Wolverine (sorry, my retailer accidentally didn’t order it, so I didn’t get it until this week)? Well, like that issue, this features a really beaten-up Wolverine. Like that one, we join this in media res. Like that one, this features a kid, and Logan is a sucker for kids in distress. And like that one, Wolverine dispenses some rough justice. So why is that a classic and this one isn’t? Well, of course it has to do with context – that issue came in the middle of Claremont’s long run, before Wolverine was such a commodity and before he was starring in, I think, 43 comics in March 2013 alone. But maybe it has something to do with the fact that Claremont and Windsor-Smith packed a ton of crap into that book, and it was far more exciting than this limpid story. I mean, this is “Part 1 of 4,” and if you tell me that an old pro like Claremont wouldn’t have finished whatever Cornell is planning in two issues, I’ll call you a goddamned liar. Yes, Claremont could stretch out subplots for decades, but when he wanted to tell a simple story, he would get the fuck on with it. This is a dude who did the entire Age of Ultron in two issues, remember (Kulan Gath FOR THE MOTHERFUCKING WIN!!!!), so it’s not like I don’t know what I’m talking about. I mean, Marvel has the fucking gall to charge 4 dollars for 19 pages of, essentially, Wolverine killing a dude with a fancy gun. (Yes, I guess it’s 20 pages, technically, but one of those is the title page, and I refuse to count that.) I know this is an old man rant and all you fucks should get the fuck off my lawn, but this issue, remember, came out in the same week where it took three (3) panels to show Black Widow eating a fucking Twix bar, and I don’t think I’m too off base in getting pissed off about it. I mean, I like Paul Cornell as a writer, and I would look at Alan Davis drawing 20 pages of Hank Pym digging for gold in his nose and scratching his ass, but shit, Marvel, what the fuck?

So, anyway, Wolverine is blasted by some dude who is obviously not in control of his faculties but got his hands on a super-gun, and when he kills that dude, the dude’s son gets possessed by the same thing and tries to kill our hero before escaping into the night. If it takes you longer than four minutes to read this comic, you’re probably a first-grader and you need to sound some words out. Davis’s art is pretty, to be sure, but he does get to draw a lot of big panels, so it’s not even like he’s doing a ton of heavy lifting. All in all, this is a big yawn of a first issue. Why does this book exist? I mean, I know Marvel thinks they need a solo Wolverine book, but don’t they already have one? Do they need two? Plus the other 58 comics he appears in every month?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Does the Marvel Universe have a universal healthcare system that pays for therapy?

Does the Marvel Universe have a universal healthcare system that pays for therapy?

I’d like to say that this is a typical mainstream superhero page, but it’s a lot more restrained than your usual violence over in the DCnU. It still cracks me up, though, because in Panel 1, it’s implied that Logan is basically gutting that dude – look at where his claws are and how the dude is falling, and check out the blood. Then, in Panels 2 and 3, there’s not a scratch on him. Did he die because he couldn’t stand the embarrassment of wearing a shredded jacket? I guess kudos to Marvel for trying to keep a book in which we see several skeletons of this dude’s victims a bit less gory than your usual DC comic, but it’s still kind of funny that the dude doesn’t look injured at all.

XFactor253X-Factor #253 (“Hell on Earth War Part Four”) by Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer), Jennifer M. Smith (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), and Nick Lowe (group editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel. Jamie Madrox created by Len Wein, Chris Claremont, and John Buscema. Layla Miller created by Brian Michael Bendis and Oliver Coipel. Lorna Dane/Polaris created by Arnold Drake, Don Heck, Werner Roth, and Jim Steranko. Longshot created by Ann Nocenti and Arthur Adams. Monet St. Croix created by Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo. Julio Richter/Rictor created by Louise Simonson and Walt Simonson. Shatterstar created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. Armando Muñoz/Darwin created by Ed Brubaker and Pete Woods. Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod. Guido Carosella/Strong Guy created by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz. Mephisto created by Stan Lee and John Buscema. Satana created by Roy Thomas and John Romita, Sr.

The funniest page in this entire epic, probably (unless one trumps it in the final chapter) is the double-page spread showing a bunch of Marvel heroes fighting a bunch of demons. It’s hilarious because it’s definitely current (Captain America has his awful new costume, the faux Thing lady from FF is there), but it shows the problems with mainstream superhero comics in the 21st century – everyone is telling their own stories, so absolutely no other comic in the Marvel Universe even knows that this invasion is taking place, yet David chucks them all in anyway. Similarly, no other comic seems to know that some weird moon villains are destroying Earth cities (are they still doing that in Avengers?). I know I’ve mentioned this before, and I honestly don’t mind that these comics don’t acknowledge events from other comics, but Marvel likes to insist that these comics are all taking place in the same “universe” when it’s clear they’re not. At least David puts this ridiculous double-page spread in his comic – other writers don’t even put “reaction shots” of other Marvel characters in theirs.

So the remaining members of X-Factor decide that since Tier can kill Hell Gods, he should, and he’s all for it. What’s interesting about the issue is that David acknowledges that sometimes, people get injuries that aren’t all that apparent, and they’re kind of deadly. I doubt if the person who suffers what appears to be a traumatic brain injury would be able to walk around, much less continue the fight, but at least David brings it up. We’ll see what happens with that.

So onward we go. According to the recap page, David is “churning out” more scripts, which is great because of his recovery but kind of depressing – I know it’s not meant this way, but whoever is writing the recap pages just implied that double-shipping means the writer has to “churn” out scripts. That doesn’t sound like a good way to produce a comic.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Double-sided tape is awesome!

Double-sided tape is awesome!

Okay, yes, Satana looks ridiculous, but this is still a nice page. Kirk does a good job with the panel-to-panel storytelling, and Tier’s freaky rabid face in Panel 4 is, well, freaky. I guess Satana is slightly more popular than Pluto, so Tier doesn’t actually kill her like he did to Pluto last issue (even though Pluto doesn’t actually die), but whatever Tier does is enough to eliminate her. As usual, nice colors by Milla – he’s really going to town on this comic.

Batman volume 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo (penciller), Jonathan Glapion (inker), Fco Plascencia (colorist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (letterer), Katie Kubert (assistant editor), and Peter Hamboussi (editor). $16.99, 144 pgs, FC, DC.

18 months after issue #1 shipped, DC finally gets around to publishing a softcover trade of Batman. Nice. I guess I’ll see what all the fuss is about – based on what I’ve heard recently about this comic, I’m not sure I have high hopes.

Daredevil volume 3 by Mark Waid (writer), Greg Rucka (writer), Marco Checchetto (artist), Chris Samnee (artist), Khoi Pham (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), Javier Rodriguez (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer), Alex Starbuck (assistant editor), Nelson Ribeiro (assistant editor), and Cory Levine (editor). $16.99, 140 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I so wish this had been called Daredevil volume 3: The Great MacGuffin Hunt! Oh, and while I flipping through this, I saw a woman pulling up her shirt and on her bra was written “You are Daredevil.” I guess it’s part of her game with Matt to get him to react, but I just loved it, because Waid actually thinks about stuff like this and admits that, yeah, sure, of course that would happen.

**********

I don’t have much to say this week about non-comics stuff. I don’t know if I’ll have a link post up this weekend – once again, it’s been a busy week in the real world, so who knows how much time I’ll have to surf around. I will link to my daughter’s awesome story, which includes an amazing twist at the end. It’s better than The Sixth Sense!!!!! Okay, maybe not, but still – Norah is awesome.

Oh, I guess DC continues to interfere with their writers, as Andy Diggle left Action Comics before his first issue shipped, and Joshua Fialkov ditched Green Lantern because DC wants to kill off John Stewart. Does anyone at DC ever read anything on the comics blogaxy? I mean, they don’t even have to take the advice of crazy Internet people, but you’d think they would be aware that people are really not happy with their editorial direction and their practice of slaughtering anyone who has a tiny bit of pigment in their skin. It’s very weird.

Let’s dive into the Ten Most Recent Songs on My iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle):

1. “Quartz”Marillion (2001) “It’s a kind of lie when we pretend that we’re still friends”
2. “New Jack Hustler”Ice T (1991) “Got me twisted, jammed into a paradox – every dollar I get, another brother drops; maybe that’s the plan, and I don’t understand, goddamn – you got me sinkin’ in quicksand”1
3. “We”Neil Diamond (2005) “Want to take you to that great unknown, show you to a place you’ve never been”
4. “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns” – Mother Love Bone (1989) “I used to treat you like a lady now you’re a substitute teacher; this bottle’s not a pretty, not a pretty sight”2
5. “Reflections” – Supremes (1967) “Oh, I’m all alone now, no love to shield me, trapped in a world that’s a distorted reality”
6. “Somethin’ to Hide”Journey (1978) “Please come talk to me, tell me what’s on your mind”
7. “Garden”Pearl Jam (1991) “I don’t question our existence, I just question our modern needs”3
8. “King of Carrot Flowers Part 1″Neutral Milk Hotel (1998) “And from above you how I sank into your soul, into that secret place where no one dares to go”
9. “Fairytale of New York”Pogues (1988) “When the band finished playing they howled out for more”
10. “Driftwood”Travis (1999) “Home is where the heart is, but your heart had to roam”

1 My knowledge about this is woefully light, but I’ll still ask the provocative question: O.G. Original Gangster: Best rap album ever? That or Paul’s Boutique, right?

2 Obviously, these come up randomly, so it’s a coincidence that this came up today, two days after 19 March, which is the day Andrew Wood died (23 years ago – man, I feel old). Anyway, it’s strange to consider how different musical history would have been if Wood had lived. No Pearl Jam, for instance, and no Pearl Jam trying to take on Ticketmaster. Mother Love Bone was much more glam than Nirvana or Pearl Jam, so it would have been interesting to see how the “grunge” movement would have been different had Mother Love Bone been at its forefront rather than Nirvana. I love counterfactuals, in case you’re wondering.

3 Well, that’s weird. I didn’t plan that.

So the 23rd of March is the 8th anniversary of me writing for this blog (my first post was on the 22nd, but it was only introductory), and it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been doing weekly reviews for even longer – I did them on my old blog before Brian was nice enough to let me write for this blog – with very little interruption. I’ve skipped some weeks, taken a month off once (or twice?), and I skipped seven weeks in 2011 when I was back in Pennsylvania and didn’t get my comics every week. And now I’m taking a break. Not from blogging here – I like that too much – but from the weekly reviews. They’ve become a bit of a grind, to be honest. I’ve written before that it takes me about 8-12 hours to write these up, and it takes up a lot of my Wednesday and Thursday (and sometimes Friday). I don’t really want to change the format, because I like doing the covers and the pages and the links, but it does take a while. There are other reasons, too. I’ve been volunteering more at my daughter’s school, and that’s a fairly big commitment. I’m not going to give that up, obviously, and something has to give. I’m also working on some big projects – a few actual creative ones, and some other non-fiction things for this blog – and I’d like to devote more time to those. Everything else I write for the blog doesn’t have to be so timely as these do, so I’ll have some extra time to work on other things without stopping in the middle of the week and writing these up. Plus, it’s just not as much fun as it used to be. I’m happy with what I buy, and I feel like I really don’t have much to say about them month after month. I do plan to write about certain comics, though. I don’t know how many more Marvel NOW! #1 issues are coming out, but when they do, I’ll review them. I’ll probably pick an issue at random and review it, or when a story arc ends, I’ll review the whole thing, or if a new book launches, I’ll probably review that. I’m just not going to be doing the whole nine yards like I’ve been doing. It’s just become too much.

I’m certainly not going anywhere – I still have a ton of books to review, plus I love writing Comics You Should Own way too much – but for now, I’m stopping the full-bore weekly reviews. I’ll probably start doing them again at some point, but I don’t know when. I’ll just play it by ear. You can always follow me on Twitter!

So have a nice weekend, everyone. Don’t watch too much college basketball! That’s never healthy!

57 Comments

Greg: amazed you did it this long.

Go live some of that LIFE stuff.

This weekly column will be missed. Big time.

Oh, and brace yourself for some frank, black zealotry.

I’m so glad someone else doesn’t like Saga. The art is gorgeous, but man, I can’t stand Vaughn’s dialogue.

How old are Alana and Marko anyway? They can’t be out of their twenties (by our homo sapiens standards, anyway), and they might be closer to nineteen than twenty-four. We don’t know about either character’s sexual experiences prior to meeting each other (though Marko, at least, had a girlfriend before), and they’re both fans of the trashy romance novel that brought them together. And they’re in an inter-racial relationship where both races are at war, making it even more taboo. If they sound like they’re trying too hard when they talk about sex, it’s to mask their respective insecurities and inexperience (particularly Alana, who tends to say the first thing that pops into her head).

Gary: Thanks for the nice words. And I love poking the Pixies bear. For some reason, they’re one of the few bands that really inspire a spirited defense. I don’t know – I’ve just never been into them!

Macc: I really want to love it!!!

Neil: Hmm. Maybe. That’s plausible, but it still sounds really stilted to me, even more than if they’re “playacting” because they’re trying too hard. It feels a bit too confident to me, but still not very good. It’s tough to get across what you’re saying with that dialogue, and if you think Vaughan has done it, that’s great. I don’t think he has, unfortunately.

Chances are I have not been paying attention, but where was Ken Bruzenak?

“Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita Sr., and Herb Trimpe.”

….and even this rather lengthy list is somewhat incomplete:

1. Gil Kane: Wolverine’s standard mask (he drew it incorrectly on the cover of his first X-Men appearance, and Cockrum liked it so much that he redrew the interior art to match).

2. Dave Cockrum: Wolverine’s face.

3. Chris Claremont: Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton and claws that are a part of his body, not his gloves.

Too late. I spent all day watching basketball.

Didn’t bother picking up Constantine #1 huh? Can’t say I blame you.

tom fitpatrick

March 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Happy 8th anniversary, Mr. Burgas!!! Which coincidentally falls on my day of birth. You are forever going to torment me, aren’t you?!?

Of course, CHEW’s popular over there in France, but then again, they love Jerry Lewis, don’t they?

Got to love the return of Inspector Gill, I dug the FISH POLICE series back in the day.

Another Wolverine book. Just HOW many does that make currently? Guess Marvel doesn’t think that we have enough of bestial Wolverine, eh?

Thanks for your comments and support to Elephantmen, Greg! Your column will be very missed.

Kabe: Bruzenak lettered Chaykin’s story in Dark Horse Presents. Is that what you meant?

trajan23: Yeah, we were discussing this last week, especially about Wolverine. Thomas may have come up with the concept, Wein and Romita may have designed him, Trimpe may have drawn him in a comic first, but Claremont and Cockrum really made him into the character we know today. So there’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen on that one.

P. Boz: I was too late!!!!!

David: Yeah, I thought about it for a nanosecond, but I just wasn’t all that interested. The previews didn’t really wow me at all.

Tom: I’ll try not to torment you too much!

Axel: Well, since you guys have the big #50 coming up, I’ll probably have to write about that! Thanks for the nice words – I appreciate it.

I’ll be sad to see this column go. I’ve really enjoyed it over the last year or so and only wish I’d discovered it sooner. I’ll be sure to follow your other upcoming articles and projects.

Regarding Saga, apart from Staples’ excellent art and design work, I like that it is a book primarily concerned with two people who are so deeply in love with each other. I can’t think of another series where this dynamic is the main focus. ‘Preacher’ maybe? Certainly nothing on the stands right now strikes me as similar. Mainstream comics are a pretty dark place at the moment and Saga is a nice change of pace for me, with real positive human emotion at its core.

Mind MGMT is better, Saga is good but…

Parking Fine Flash

March 22, 2013 at 12:26 am

Just wanted to say, after actually reading the whole post, this is my favorite column on the site. You’ve introduced me to so many comic’s I would never have tried. I like your criticism and your humor. I would have never read Witchdoctor, Sixth Gun, Secret History, X-Factor, (insert obscure indy comic), anyway thanks for the ride Greg. Still wondering what you think of the Valiant relaunch. I either missed it or you haven’t written it yet. Hope you reconsider! Never say Never!

OG is definitely among my all time favorite hip hop albums. Paul’s Boutique I however have never really got.

Oh, noes!
I’m with Parking Fine Flash, this was my favorite column on CSBG and it will be greatly missed! But after eight years of writing it (wow and happy comicbooky anniversary!), I can’t blame ya! :D

Also, you haven’t mentioned Private Eye! I mean, it does make sense as you’re not the biggest BKV fan ever and don’t read digital comics, but it’s got sweet Marcos Martin art and is fantaaaaastic!

Yep, yours was also my favorite column on this blog. I’ve always loved your reviews and I’ve lost count of all the great comics I’ve read because of your recommendations. Still, I’m looking forward to your next posts and I wish you the best of luck with the projects you’re working on. :)

Will be sorry to see this column go, even if I can appreciate the reasons. You’ve turned me on to a good few comics over the years. To be honest, the hours I’ve spend reading it would’ve been worth it if it had only been Phonogram. Oops, that sounds like it’s not worth reading in it’s own right, which it is.

I’ll try to keep up with your other stuff but it’s always been the regularity of this column that prompts me to visit the site so I’ll see what happens.

All the best, Pete.

I feel ya about Saga brother. maybe my review might help shed some light on your conundrum.

http://ifanboy.com/reviews/saga-11-2/

Aww, I’m bummed to see the column go. I always appreciate reading your take on these things, and you’ve turned me on to a number of comics that I almost certainly wouldn’t otherwise have read. (And amusingly enough, I’m talking about the Big Two stuff as much as the indie stuff, despite the shit you’ve received from knee-jerk fans and rogue editors portraying you as a hater.) That said, I TOTALLY get what a time suck this is, and your reasons for letting it go make total sense to me. Even my thing of writing about old Wonder Woman comics every week, in addition to writing up every show I go to as a theater critic, takes up so much time that I feel guilty taking the time to do it every week when I could be spending quality time with my wife and walking the dog. So reclaim your time with my blessing, good sir, because I know you need my permission for that.

Aww. I will miss What I Bought while it’s gone. It’s my fav.

That said, at least we won’t have to argue about Saga on a monthly basis.

I mean, “That was Sexy Alana! She’s a crazy person!” is clearly one of the BEST lines in the book, not the worst!

:(

Justin V.: Thanks, sir. I’m glad you found it. And I really do like the fact that Vaughan is writing a love story. I agree with you that it would be nice to have more comics like that. So far, I’m not quite convinced by it, though!

Flash: All I’ve tried to do with this is let people know about comics they might have missed, so I’m glad you found some that I have championed. I have been writing about the Valiant books, but because I’ve been buying them in trade, I’m writing about them in my month-end columns about various collected editions and prose books I read. I’ve enjoyed them but haven’t loved them. It feels like they’re settling for fairly standard storytelling, which can be exciting but not necessarily memorable. I think the next one I’m going to read is Archer and Armstrong, so we’ll see how I feel about that!

cich: Thanks for the nice words. I just heard about The Private Eye this week, so I haven’t checked it out yet. I probably will, but you’re right – I’ll be much happier to buy the print version!

Pedro: Thanks!

Pete: Thanks. I do hope you keep reading the blog, because I think it’s pretty awesome!

Erik: Dang, that’s a fascinating point. I think it might stick in my head for a while when I’m reading the comic!

buttler: Thanks for the nice words. I never understood why people think I’m a hater, either. That’s life. Some dude tweeted about this post claiming I hate everything. I loved the comics I bought this week!!! Beats me.

Kelly: Thank you. I’m sure it will be back, but it might be a while. And you know I love arguing with you! It’s so much fun! :)

WESTWARD RULES!!! BUY THE COLLECTION IF YOU’VE MISSED THE SINGLES!!! 4 IS THE BEST ISSUE YET!!! SEE YOUR RETAILER, THE COLLECTION IS IN PREVIEWS NOW!!!

Ahem.

Gone!? NO!!!

I hope you’ll continue with Flippin’ at least, because I NEED THAT FIX!!!

But best of luck to you in what you’re doing otherwise, and don’t leave us alone too long. We’ll mess up the place!

And holy crappin’ crap, Fish Po-Po is back? YES! Man, I guess I DO need to get DHP monthly. Dammit!

Sad that this is the last one for a while, but I’m so very glad that Saga got ripped apart before you take a hiatus. I’m also glad to see that others here in the comments feel the same way about Saga. I mean, didn’t BKV quit on us all? Didn’t he go all “I’m leaving comics and stuff” for a while? Wasn’t that our time as fans of the medium to just wish him a fond farewell and move on to writers like Hickman and Fialkov?

Started reading this column my first year of college, and now it’s ending the year that I graduate? Ouch, my heart! Thank you for so many wonderful reviews over the years. You have introduced me to many titles and creators that I would have missed otherwise (Dylan Meconis, please make things forever). So, thank you! This column will definitely be missed.

This is the one blog I look forward to every week and with your hiatus, it’ll be greatly missed. I haven’t been reading X-Factor, which is probably a comic book sin, but Leonard Kirk’s art is starting to look like Stuart Immonen’s work. Anyone else notice?

Here’s a link for Tom:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=44403

Calm down, Tom, it’s still months away!

Travis: Oh, sure, I’ll still be writing about Previews. I doubt if everyone will have time to miss me, because I’m still going to be writing quite a bit here, just not the weekly reviews. TOO MUCH PRESSURE!!!!!

I just saw that Valiant thing. Very interesting …

Craig: I don’t think I hate Saga as much as you do, but you’re welcome!

Julia: Thanks for the nice words. I hope I’ll still introduce you to creators you don’t know, even if I’m not doing it every week. And yes, Dylan Meconis is quite awesome, and doesn’t appear to be slowing down even a little.

Nic: I hope you’ll keep reading! I did notice that Kirk’s art is looking more like Immonen’s – I think it’s been while he’s been drawing X-Factor, but he was moving in that direction on Captain Britain and MI: 13. I don’t know if he’s doing it all or if it’s a combination of the pencils, inks, and colors, but it’s pretty interesting.

Oh, dude, you totally missed the Deadpool/Taft joke.

Uh, no. — is his answer because the bathtub thing is TOTALLY what he was going to ask him. Since Taft apparently gets that question all of the time in the afterlife, he knows what DP’s gonna ask. And since it’s that obvious, DP’s a little chagrined to then ask it.

Oh, you’re so wrong about the Pixies!

I saw some panels from Saga, and good god it looks awful. I’d say switch to trade — when I read the first trade, I saw all the annoying things you saw, but they seemed to be mitigated by having everything in one big block — it’s probably what I should do for Hawkeye, too. I totally get your comment about trying to write cool dialogue etc, it totally makes sense with Vaughn!

RE: Westward — why can’t your shop re-order from Previews? In the last few months, I’ve missed a couple things that have come out, but I ask my shop guy (and give him the Previews code, listed on their release date lists on the Previews site), and he usually can get me stuff, even after it’s come out.

But damn, that’s such a good book. I trusted your first review so much that I ordered the book without even completely reading your review.

Anyway, make sure you do plenty of posts, and keep up the monthly trades one too. Brian can’t do everything here!!!

@ T.P.: I saw that ad, I’m still a bit dubious as no creative team has been announced yet. If it’s not Priest and Bright, it’s really not Quantum & Woody! (I’m foaming at the mouth!!)

@ Burgas: Have you ever watched BEING HUMAN (the UK version)? There’s at least two comic book homages (or nods) to Alan Moore & James Robinson. Check it out on “The Final Broadcast” There’s another Alan Moore homage in Series 3: “The Wolf-Shaped Bullet”

@ CBR: Might I recommend T.P. to take over the “What I Bought” column? He seems very well opinionated. ;-)

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 23, 2013 at 7:18 am

Anonymous was me.

Travis: Duh. Yeah, I missed that. My bad!

I just could never get into the Pixies. I don’t know why – their heyday was when I was in my late teens/early twenties, so you’d think I would be really into it, but I just can’t do it. So sad!

As I mentioned, I’m pretty sure that issue #12 of Saga is the final one of the arc, and then I can think about whether I want to continue with it, either in single issue format or trade. It’s tough, because the level of quality is so varied page to page!

I tend not to trust my retailer when it comes to re-ordering stuff from Previews, especially something as wildly independent as Westward. He’s a good guy when it comes to getting stuff the first time he orders it, but for some reason, re-orders are sketchy at best. Usually if something falls through the cracks (which doesn’t happen too often, and I don’t even know if it’s because he screwed up or because Diamond did), I just try to find it on-line because I know that will be quicker. I have no idea if he just forgets to re-order or if it takes longer because it’s not part of his regular order, but for me, at least, it’s just easier to find it elsewhere. He certainly gets re-orders of big ticket items, but for the smaller stuff, it’s haphazard at best.

Tom: I haven’t watched Being Human. I don’t even know if or when the British version airs here – it might be on BBC America, but I’ve only seen commercials for the SyFy version, which I assume is the “Americanized” one. I’ll have to go watch that episode, though, just to see what’s what.

I’m sure Travis would have fun writing weekly reviews, but it’s not up to me!

We totally knew you were Anonymous, Tom, because of that creepy man crush you have on me.

I would likee writing a weekly review column, and I’d have plenty to talk about because my junkie addiction to comics has me buying WAY too many each week! And since I buy a lotta the same stuff Greg does, it’d be like he never left!

But I don’t currently have access to a scanner, so my columns would be woefully visual free. And me not so good with the word put together-ness.

And Tom would be the only one to read it, too, so there’s that.

But email Brian if you feel that strongly, Tom!

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 24, 2013 at 5:19 am

@ T.P.: Nah that’s ok. I don’t have much sway over Mr. B.C.
Besides which, you comment plenty enough on almost every vital blogs on CBR! ;-)
Consider me “Anti-T.P.”; or your friendly arch-foe, nemesis, etc.

So much to comment on here, I’ll start with the non-comic stuff.

RE: Rap albums
My top ten rap/hip hop albums
1. Jay-Z: The Blueprint – While most rap albums are thematically about getting out of the streets, rising to your potential, and seizing the life you want, most rappers also tend to have a difficult time following up this subject matter with the next logical step. This is partially why most rap careers are so short, like a professional athlete losing his motivation when he signs a lucrative contract. But the Blueprint is the great exception. It’s one of the only albums not just in rap, but in all of popular music, that’s not simply about rising to the top, but about being at the top as a sustainable status quo.
2. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – John Lennon’s first solo album (Plastic Ono Band) often gets credit for being one of the most honest and naked artistic statements a major pop culture figure has ever created. Kanye went one further, by matching Plastic Ono Band’s brutal honesty with mainstream pop hooks. It’s the most compulsively listenable confessional album ever.
3. Nas: Illimatic – The quintessential album of the streets. The ultimate version of Grand Master Flash’s “The Message” stretched out to an entire LP.
4. Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique
5. De La Soul: 3 Feet High and RIsing – These two albums, which came out the same year, are inseparable to me, because not only are they the ultimate party rap albums, but they were the first great works to fully utilize the sound collage potential that hip hop has become the hallmark of. Artists like Girl Talk start right here.
6. A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory – For anyone that might have thought “intellectual rap” was a mutually exclusive concept, this is the album that proves them wrong. With spare instrumentation, incredible rhyming and lyrics, and an obvious influence from Bitches Brew-era Miles, this was the first great truly mature hip hop album.
7. Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP – If Jay-Z’s the Blueprint was about the luxury of being on top, this is the other side of the coin. One of the ultimate statements on the dark side of super-stardom.
8. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Not really rap but definitely hip hop, this is the album that broke away the masculinity of the genre.
9. Outkast: Stankonia – I’m sure others will disagree, but to me, this is the real entrance of rap into the pop mainstream. Of course rap’s association with MTV started with Run-DMC and exploded for good with The Chronic, there’s a difference between being let in and being truly accepted, and this is the moment of acceptance. Mrs. Jackson and B.O.B. were everywhere, and the extension of rap culture to go as far as a Sir-Mix-A-Lot track being featured in Shrek really turned an important corner with the ascendency of Outkast.
10. Ghostface Killah: Fishscale – Most people would probably name the 36 Chambers or Raekwon’s first solo album as the quintessential Wu-work, but no extended Wu-Tang family album better symbolizes what that collective was capable of at their best than this under-appreciated masterpiece. It’s just all over the place in the best kind of ways.

I know Public Enemy is conspicuously absent, because I find them far more important than good, like the rap Captain Beefheart. And The Chronic and Ready to Die aren’t here because though they contain some of the best rap singles ever, they just don’t rate that highly as cohesive works that succeed as straight-through listens.

The “What if Andrew Wood didn’t die?” question is fascinating, because Pearl Jam became the most symbolic band/leaders/voice of an entire generation, and it’s difficult to say for sure how that generation might have been altered with a different figurehead. Yes, Nirvana came first (or at least made it big first; Ten actually came out before Nevermind), but were it not for the ascension of Pearl Jam in the summer of ’92, Nirvana might not have ever found itself as part of a movement, and therefore might not have ever reached the level of perceived importance that they did. And the explosion of alternative music in the post-Pearl Jam early-90’s might neber have happened without that second act to base a movement on. Would NIN, Smashing Pumpkins, Chili Peppers, Green Day, Soundgarden, and others never have made it big without the market primed and searching for bands just like that? And consider all of the Pearl Jam clones… Good God, who would be my third least favorite band were it not for Creed??

I really don’t think it’s an over-exaggeration to say that imagining the 90’s without Pearl Jam is just as impossible as imagining the 60’s had Mick Jagger and Keith Richards never met, and the British Invasion never had that second great band to galvanize around. Or the punk scene with The Clash, or the Indie-rock revolution of 2002 without The White Stripes, or Brit-pop without Oasis. A movement needs at least two figureheads, and I don’t know that the 90’s alternative explosion would have found another one if it weren’t for Pearl Jam. Perhaps I’m biased, because I’m a die-hard Pearl Jam fan. But thinking about it as objectively as possible, they were just that important.

Now COMICS!

The credits to the Who album Quadrophenia read:
John Entwistle: Bass, Horns, Vocals.
Roger Daltry: Lead Vocals.
Keith Moon: Percussion, Vocals.
Pete Townshend: Remainder.

And that’s basically how I think it should go with the creator credits for Wolverine. They should read:
Roy Thomas & Len Wein: Canadian, code-name, claws, mutant (but not what his power was)
John Romita, Herb Trimpe, & Gil Kane: Costume
Dave Cockrum: Face, hair
John Byrne: Coolness
Chris Claremont: Remainder.

And that remainder includes (but is not limited to) the following: healing factor, named Logan, retractable claws that go into wrist, heightened senses, adamantium skeleton, failed samurai, memory implants, Weapon X experiment, unknown age, likes to say “bub,” best at what he does, likes red heads, lived everywhere and done everything, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

I realize in a medium like comics, it’s a slippery slope to start including later creators that added key elements, but this isn’t quite Batman doing his first disappearing act on Gordon 40 years after he was created. Claremont began writing Wolverine with his 3rd comic appearance, when he was little more than a mannequin with a mask and claws that had joined the X-Men. Claremont is responsible for virtually everything else, and it’s a shame that he doesn’t get his due credit.

Regarding DC’s great writers exodus of 03/13, they fucking deserve it. If Dan Didio wants he and his editors to create all of the stories themselves, then they should just start doing exactly that. Why even pay high-priced freelancers to do it for you? If DC no longer cares about the quality of their books and they simply want them to be bloodbaths of splash pages and “coolness,” why waste money on writers? What are you getting in return for your investment? I lose more respect for DC every day.

At three different times in the last 30 years, DC has pushed the envelope for how great a comic company can be. The first post-Crisis era, the post-Zero Hour 90s of Starman/Hitman/Spectre/Waid Flash/Morrison JLA/early Vertigo, and the early 00’s, when DC just seemed to be throwing money at the best talent in the industry and letting them do whatever they wanted–New Frontier, Brubaker’s Catwoman, Gotham Central, Fables, Y, Baker’s Plastic Man, Smith’s Green Arrow, DMZ, Automatic Kafka, Casey’s WIldCATS, Sleeper, the list goes on. What all three of those eras have in common are the following: risks, top talent, editorial freedom. Now, DC has none of that. All they do is pigeonhole themselves into a smaller and smaller corner, with less talent that wants to work for them, less freedom for their creators, an infinitely less diverse publishing slate, assembly line comics that all look the same, and no end in sight. It’s fucking unacceptable.

And then there’s our Mr. Burgas.

Bravo Greg, for all of the hard work you’ve been doing, the wonderful columns you write, your (mostly) great taste that so wisely advises your readers, the sacrifice of your income to tell us what Big Two books we should be staying away from, and your great sense of humor. On behalf of all of the regular readers of this site, thank you.

And yeah, I know you’re not going anywhere, you’re just lightening your workload, but this is a great opportunity to show appreciation for your output.

I do hope the trades and miscellaneous column won’t be ending, even though we didn’t get one last month (I’m hoping this was because of the ECCC), as that’s such a great column and a nice opportunity for you to review entire stories instead of segments of them.

And now a request: In lieu of a weekly “What I Bought” column, what about ending each month with a brief column that quickly discusses the three best comics you read that month and the three worst? I feel like this would achieve the best and most important parts of What I Bought with an infinitely smaller time commitment for yourself.

As always, I’m looking forward to reading more of your stuff, and thank you for all you have given us so far.

Daniel: See, this is why I hesitated before throwing down the rap album gauntlet, because I’m so woefully under-informed about rap albums. I will say that I love The Low End Theory, so there’s that. I’m really not taken with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – I’m really not sure why. It just never resonated with me.

All your points about Pearl Jam are quite salient, which is why I think the question about Wood’s death is so fascinating. “Apple” is one of my favorite albums ever, but would Mother Love Bone have been such a force in music as Pearl Jam? It’s very interesting, colored by the fact that Wood did, after all, die.

As usual, you make excellent points about Wolverine and Claremont’s contribution to his legend. He should get his due!

Yeah, I don’t know what DC is doing these days. I decided to drop Batwoman because Williams isn’t drawing it anymore, so I’m still reading Detective, because I think Layman is doing nice work, and All Star Western (in trade) because it seems like the setting makes it a bit harder for Editorial to tie in too much with the DCnU (although I hear Hex is going to be time-traveling, because YUCK). I love a lot of DC characters, but man, they’re not running that company well.

Thanks for the very kind words – I appreciate them a lot. I’m still going to do the trades/miscellaneous collections post at the end of the month, and you’re right – the convention screwed up my schedule, so the one I post next week will be HUGE. And that’s not a bad idea about for a suggestion – I’ll have to think about doing something like that.

Greg-

I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a rap aficionado. I probably own 50-60 rap albums and they’re mostly the usual suspects. They’re all the important albums that you’re “supposed” to own, and I haven’t branched out too much from the highly acclaimed stuff. I’m definitely a rock and roll guy first and foremost, but I do sometimes write professionally about music, and I always try to make sure I understand the history and connections of influence. My favorite recent rap album is Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, Mad City

Regarding DC, I really think the origin of the problem is Geoff Johns. DC and Marvel should be, and generally have been, very different companies. When Marvel is at their best, it’s when they have great creators doing extended runs on their core characters. The three times this has been most true were the Lee/Kirby/Ditko era, the Shooter era, and the early Quesada years, and not coincidentally, people think of these as the best times at Marvel. But DC has (at least since Crisis) taken a very different path to their best successes. They’re at their best when they’re taking risks, creating an incredibly diverse slate of titles for all kinds of readers, and giving creators the freedom to tell the stories they really want to tell.

The reason DC has always had to find a different path to readers is because they quite simply can’t compete with Marvel on a character level. Marvel just has better characters top to bottom. This is partially why Marvel has been so much more successful with movies, because movies tend to be a distillation of the core essences of these characters, and it’s much easier to make those cores appealing for Marvel characters than it is for DC’s characters. This is also why Marvel’s characters have almost always remained relatively unchanging, while DC’s characters went through a 20 year span (’84-’04; I’ll explain those dates in a minute) where their status quos changed quite a bit. Characters died for good, younger generations took their place.

This company identity started with New Teen Titans #39 (cover date 02/84), when Dick Grayson shed his Robin identity and Wally West shed his Kid Flash identity. Carrying on with the death of Barry Allen, the creation of Nightwing, the deaths of Hal Jordan and Olliver Queen, the creations of Connor Hawke/Kyle Raynor/Jack Knight, Batgirl becoming Oracle, Aquaman losing a hand, Jim Corrigan and the Spectre separating identities, the death of Jason Todd and the creation of Tim Drake, several characters were transferred to the Vertigo line, while several others (Superboy, Supergirl) were written out of existence… these were all changes that were always intended to be permanent, and were for a long time. And they showed that DC was a company that welcomed a continuing evolution of their characters, as well as the freedom of writers to really tell stories that could have lasting impacts.

But the popularity of Geoff Johns on JSA and The Flash in the early 00’s eventually led to the green light of Green Lantern: Rebirth (cover date 12/04), and systematically over the next few years, virtually every lasting change the DC universe had given itself was reversed. In the short term, these “event” books all sold well, but in the long term, they subtly destroyed the company identity DC had created for itself. With the blood baths started in Identity Crisis and made even more obvious with Infinite Crisis, DC was now trying to directly compete with Marvel in the characters and events department. And then Wildstorm was closed, Vertigo might as well have been, and now here we are. Every way DC had differentiated its identity from Marvel for 20 years of success has been discontinued, and DC was forced into throwing a hail mary with the entire company (aka: The New 52) that created great sales for about 13 months. But all of the same problems resurfaced and have gotten even worse, under a much larger microscope.

And now Marvel Now has taken back the sales wars, and I just don’t know where the hell DC goes from here. They’ve already used their reset option, and they’ve driven away all of the best creators in the industry. I really think we’re in for about a five year span of DC just growing more and more pathetic, getting crushed more heavily in the sales numbers, and possibly headed down a path of bankruptcy that will almost definitely end with Didio and Harras shunned out of the industry.

But Geoff Johns is the real root of the problem. The best years of DC were ushered in on the backs of the risks taken by Marv Wolfman and Alan Moore, who effectively changed everything about DC’s business model for two decades. But without realizing the consequences of his actions, Geoff Johns has reversed everything back to what it was like in 1983 and before, which were the years that DC consistently got crushed by Marvel.

Geoff Johns gives the people what they want. And if history has shown us anything, that’s usually the worst thing that someone in charge can ever do.

Daniel: As usual, excellent points about DC and their direction. I recall when I was writing about what to call this latest era of comics, I noted that 2004 was when DiDio really took over at DC and when Jemas left Marvel. Neither was a great move in terms of great comics, but Marvel does seem to have recovered pretty well. Your point about the different kinds of characters is really well done, too. That’s why when DC allows its creators some free rein, you get such great stories, because DC, for many years, didn’t mind if their creators came in and changed things. Johns’s nostalgia-porn has really done a number on that, though. I’m really interested to see where DC goes from here, now that they’ve played their trump card and it didn’t lead to the total domination they were looking for.

So what’s your beef with ESPN and the Pixies?

Well, I started hating ESPN when they decided to feature Skip Bayless on their morning show more than ever. Then they totally ruined their reputation with their “reporting” of the Jerry Sandusky thing with Penn State, which made me hate them even more. Then they just became shills for Tim Tebow and others, leaving any sort of journalistic integrity behind. I still watch them for live sports, but other than that, I ignore them completely.

As for the Pixies – as I mentioned above, I just never got into them. Beats me. I think Black Francis (or Frank Black, whichever) has a lousy voice, I don’t like their lyrics, and I don’t like the actual music. They just do nothing for me.

I can’t find a source I trust, but if you can’t dig the line in “Where is My Mind?” about the little fish trying to talk to me, he was a coy koi…

…I dunno man!

Plus, it ends Fight Club so nicely!

Travis: I don’t hate ALL their lyrics, to be sure. It’s very rare that I hear more than one or two of a band’s songs and don’t find something redeemable about them. But with the Pixies, I have to really try hard! :)

Tom, you never know how much sway you have over Brian until you email him, right? :)

And if you’re “Anti-TP”, I hope you at least use a bidet. Ba-dump-splash!

On to comment on Third Man’s thoughts!

I second his idea about an end of month overview column best of worst of thing. It’s a good idea, as you can sing the praises of your fave singles, and tear a new one into some stinkers. We need Saga torn down, dammit!!!

I mean, I totally dig Tom’s idea better, and need to type up something to badger Brian with ;) but a brief monthly column would be cool.

If Skip Bayless is who I think it is, I totally see why you can’t stand ESPN, Greg.

re: Pearl Jam, interesting comments. I actually didn’t realize Ten came out before Nevermind (by about a month according to the Wikipedia that the kids all like), nor did I know they didn’t have the huge success right out of the gate. As I am in camp Nirvana, I would like to point out that therefore Nirvana’s big success paved the way for Pearl Jam’s big success. So nyah! ;) But seriously, I think since Nirvana knocked Michael Jackson out of the #1 spot, they gained their “perceived importance” regardless of whether or not Pearl Jam had also gotten big (but it certainly helped that PJ made it big and were good). As Seattle had a rockin’ scene, the media was able to pounce on that, but even though Pearl Jam certainly helped, Nirvana was the more important one. Again, I’m in camp Nirvana, though. Because of Incesticide and In Utero, though. Nevermind is kinda meh.

Also, I think the Pearl Jam clones can possibly be traced to Stone Temple Pilots — remember how they were called Pearl Jam wannabes, even though they didn’t really sound that Pearl Jammy? Since STP hit it big with that charge against them, the rest of the Pearl Jam wannabe crap came out of the woodwork.

Beavis and Butt-Head called Silverchair Nirvana-wanna-bes, but when I listened to their album, they so wanted to be Pearl Jam, man. So for that, and for personal reasons welling out of otherwise unexpressed anger at someone, I just have to say, “fuckin’ Silverchair”.

Ahem. See, I need this kind of therapy, Greg!

Remember back in that time frame an SNL sketch with a bunch of the cast together playing teens or something, forming a band and trying to come up with names. Farley’s character comes up with “Pearl Jam 2?” And is told “you can’t have a sequel to a band!”. Hee hee hee.

And while I’d like to agree with the comments about Geoff Johns (as most of the points are accurate and overall I agree), I can’t, at least not completely. GL Rebirth came out after Identity Crisis (perhaps before IDC ended, I’m not sure) by several months, and that’s where I put the blame on for nuDC’s torture porn love and for it’s backwards looking-ness (the JLA in that is, what, the pre-Detroit years one? Why?).

And I blame Meltzer for that. Big time (well, semi-, anyway) novelist, gets IDC covered in the NY Times and shit, people cream over it like it’s such a great story even though it sucked donkey balls, and the creative team thinks that because it sold well because it was marketed well, it was a good comic, when it was crap (did I mention it was terrible?). So yeah, Meltzer.

And who can we blame for bringing Meltzer into the DCU? Judd Winick. They were college roommates, iirc.

And how did Winick (boy, I hope I spelled his name right) get into the DCU? By parlaying fame from Pedro’s Story into regular comics gigs.

And why was Pedro’s Story widely known? Because it was about a widely watched season of MTV’s Real World. Widely watched because of the antics of one of the roommates in particular, who was disgusting and disturbing.

That’s right, I’m blaming this whole new crap DC era on Puck from the Real World. I said it!!!

Travis: Skip Bayless is the jackass ex-reporter on ESPN’s First Take. Even before he was paired with jackass Stephen A. Smith to make the most execrable two hours in the history of television, the show was annoying.

Damn that Puck from The Real World!!! That’s an interesting point about Identity Crisis, but unless I’m wrong, that wasn’t meant to be the foundation of the nuDC. It’s a terrible story, but perhaps if DC had left it alone, it wouldn’t have inspired people like Johns. Plus, Johns had already shown a love of nostalgia-porn before that, and I wonder if IC’s success allowed him to go whole hog. Meltzer never wrote as many comics as Johns did, anyway. But you’re right – Identity Crisis is pretty influential.

Someone should write a book – “Why Does DC Suck and Who’s to Blame?”

Re: Pixies & ESPN

I think the Pixies are overrated in the same way that I think Led Zeppelin is overrated–two very good bands that a lot of people unnecessarily elevate into being far more important than they really were. I don’t think Zeppelin really did much that wasn’t done first by The Who, Cream, and the Jeff Beck Group, nor do I think the Pixies did much that wasn’t already being done by Sonic Youth, Husker Du, and Dinosaur Jr. But that being said, I still like both bands quite a bit. The Pixies greatest importance is probably in being Cobain’s favorite band and most obvious influence, while Zeppelin’s (ironically) greatest element of importance is probably that the punk movement was spawned partly in reaction to the 20 minute drum solos and violin bow-on-guitar wankery that their concerts were like in the mid-70’s.

I kind of get that beef with ESPN, but that’s a bit like deciding you hate HBO because the Newsroom and Boardwalk Empire are both lackluster shows (which they are). A channel has to have programming for all sorts of tastes. I think Bayless and Smith are both awful TV personalities, but they don’t define ESPN. I think what you really dislike is the modern culture of 24/7 sports journalism, which is why garbage shows like PTI exist. But ESPN has to fill the hours somehow. But Sports Center and their broadcasting of actual events are generally good.

Re: Pearl Jam & Nirvana

I partially agree that Nirvana would be important without Pearl Jam and I partially don’t. There’s no question that Nirvana’s impact came first, when Nevermind displaced Dangerous at #1 on the charts in November ’91. But historically what Nirvana gets the most credit for is starting the “grunge” movement, and I really don’t think they get that credit without Pearl Jam. Would there have even been a grunge movement without Pearl Jam? Both Soundgarden and Alice in Chains had released major label albums prior to Pearl Jam, but they weren’t getting played. The explosion of Pearl Jam’s popularity in the summer of ’92 is what really turned things into a movement, and that’s where Nirvana’s credit comes in. But, I suppose the reverse of that argument is that Pearl Jam wouldn’t have exploded if Nirvana hadn’t first. You can’t have one without the other, but this is why I don’t like the historical credit that Nirvana receives–it downplays how important Pearl Jam were to the whole thing. And people forget, Pearl Jam sold a hell of a lot more albums from ’91-’94 than Nirvana did. They were by far the more popular band.

And yeah, STP was definitely the first major Pearl Jam clone. But to me the most offensive one was Seven Mary Three, who literally sounded identical to Pearl Jam. Like all eras, the mid-90’s had a lot of shitty bands. But there were also a lot of very good forgotten ones, like Urge Overkill and the Lemonheads.

RE: DC and who’s to blame

Interestingly, I have thought about trying to write a “What happened to DC” book, because the question truly does fascinate me. But the dust hasn’t really settled yet, and won’t until the New 52 and Didio era reach rock bottom (coming within 5 years, probably closer to 3). It’s a question that can’t fully be explored until the dots finish connecting themselves.

I agree that Identity Crisis takes some of the blame, and I think the real first offender is probably Day of Judgment, which is the first time Geoff Johns was given the power/control to reverse something (bringing Hal Jordan back to be the Spectre). But I think an argument could be made that the real ground zero for the death of DC comics (so to say) is Green Arrow: Quiver.

Let me first say that I think Quiver is a truly fantastic storyline, and I even put it in my top ten when Brian did the storylines poll a few years back. It’s incredibly well-written, the art is wonderful, the emotional moments are grand, the dialogue is funny, the twists are clever… I just can’t say enough about how much I love it.

But Quiver did three things, all of which helped directly lead to the demise of DC (can we call it that now? I say yes):

1. This was the first time (to my knowledge) that an all-star writer was brought on to tell a highly publicized “event story” that brought a major character back from the dead via retcon work that the creative team who killed said character was not planning on. GL: Rebirth, Flash: Rebirth, Brightest Day, and whatever else followed from here.

2. Because Kevin Smith’s run was so popular, DC had to hire another major writer from outside of comics to follow it. Enter Brad Meltzer, whose Straight Shooter story was just acclaimed enough (and it was pretty good), that he was given the keys for Identity Crisis. And then Judd Winick followed Meltzer. It’s like Green Arrow was the testing ground for all of DC’s notorious offenses.

3. I could be wrong here, but I think Quiver is probably the first major story that can totally be called continuity porn, which Geoff Johns has absolutely cornered the market on. Would DC have known there was an appetite for such a thing without Quiver? I don’t know. But maybe not.

I don’t really love arguing that Quiver is responsible for all of these ills because I think it’s such good comics, but it’s a bit like Star Wars and Jaws ending the New Hollywood era. No matter how much you love those movies, the damage they did to the auteur cinema of the 70’s is obvious and inescapable. But as with the creative murdering of DC, the ending of the New Hollywood has many villains, and Heaven’s Gate, Apocalypse Now, New York New York, and Sorcerer are a few more of them.

Daniel: YOU DARE QUESTION LED ZEPPELIN’S GREATNESS!!!!!! THIS MEANS WAR!

I think your ESPN analogy breaks down because HBO is devoted to entertainment, and if they don’t entertain everyone with all of their shows, that’s fine. ESPN, despite their acronym (the E is for Entertainment, after all), have set themselves up as the end-all and be-all of sports journalism, and they’re so clearly terrible at it. This isn’t just the awful “investigating” they did of the Penn State thing (although that strikes close to my heart), it’s the covering up of the Syracuse mess because a lot of their people went to Syracuse, or getting a coach fired because one of their on-air personalities (Craig James) didn’t like him. If ESPN wants to be entertainment, that’s fine – I hate it, but let them be entertaining. It’s that they portray themselves as journalists, when they suck at it. As I mentioned, they have live sports so I do watch them, and I’ve watched some of the “30 for 30″ movies and they’re quite good, but when they try to do actual “sports journalism,” they’re absolutely awful. And since most people get their sports news from ESPN, that’s a problem.

You and Travis keep going backward in time further and further! I do think someone needs to write a “What Happened to DC?” book, because then these theories could be more fully vetted. I forget things in the chronology, so I forgot about Quiver. Although, it should be noted (because people ranted about it to me when I blamed Kurt Busiek and Marvels for all the ills of the world), Roy Thomas was doing “continuity porn” back in the 1980s. We’re through the looking glass, people?

Whatchu got against Apocalypse Now? It seems more the last gasp of the auteur era in the wake of Jaws and Star Wars rather than a “villain” in its demise. Maybe I’m wrong because I love it so damned much!

No no, I have absolutely nothing against Apocalypse Now. It’s one of my all-time favorite, it’s a masterpiece, it has genius oozing out of its pores. However, it did a lot of damage to the New Hollywood at the time. Apocalypse Now’s production is/was arguably the most disastrous production in the history of cinema. (Cleopatra, Waterworld, Heaven’s Gate, and others are surely in the conversation.) It took the better part of four years to shoot and edit the film, it missed more than a half dozen release dates, and finished with a cost well more than four times the original budget. The original star, Harvey Keitel, was replaced after shooting started and all of his scenes had to be reshot, Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack during production, numerous cinematographers and assistant directors were fired, and a lot of people seriously worried the Coppola was going insane making the film. The net result of all of this was that all of the cache and power directors had seized from the studios over the previous ten years was put in jeopardy, and along with the also problematic productions of New York New York and Sorcerer, the studios and executives running Hollywood used Apocalypse Now as Exhibit A for why directors shouldn’t be trusted with total control over films. And then Heaven’s Gate happened and it wasn’t just the straw that broke the camel’s back, it was more like a boulder falling on the camel and crushing it. But the camel’s back was in bad shape before Heaven’s Gate.

But Apocalypse Now, as amazing it is, did a huge amount of damage to the credibility of filmmakers, and when producers seized control back at the dawn of the 1980’s, Apocalypse Now was one of the chief reasons they did so. If you’re interested in that era of film history Greg, you should check out Peter Biskin’s book Easy Riders and Raging Bulls, which chronicles the New Hollywood from ’67 to the dawn of the 80s.

That’s an interesting point about Roy Thomas. I’ve actually never read any of his All-Star Squadron/Infinity Inc work, but my understanding is that it was more necessary cleaning up of continuity than wanking in the playground of it. Perhaps this is a fine line, but I have the impression that Thomas definitely had a different motivation than Johns.

Do you not like Marvels, or do you just blame it for later ills? That was another one of my top storyline votes. I can definitely see how it’s continuity porn in retrospect, but it was incredibly innovative at the time, and damn well executed.

And you’re probably right in your accusations against ESPN. I honestly never watch any of the daytime stuff where they discuss everything, I basically just watch sportscenter and their game broadcasts.

I see what you mean. I’ve read Biskin’s book, and I saw Hearts of Darkness, so I knew a lot about the off-screen stuff, I just didn’t think it had such a detrimental effect, but you’re right that it really made studios nervous about allowing “geniuses” to run things. Too bad!

I really like Marvels, and in the post I wrote, I argue that it’s not Busiek’s fault that DC and Marvel completely missed the point of it. They just thought they could go back and insert things into already-written events, where Busiek was clearly using the stories as written – he didn’t actually “retcon” anything, but my argument is that DC and Marvel saw the success of Marvels as a license to retcon. I could be wrong, but I still think I have a point.

After reading this I had to go out and buy Dark Horse presents
Prehistoric Fish Police is too good to miss
(what has Moncuse been doing since Livingstone Mountain?)

Too bad I didn’t read this posting before we met in Phoenix. That’s how far behind I am. It would’ve given us more to talk about.

Reading these weekly reviews is a lot of work too, so I understand your desire to cut back. Maybe you could do shorter reviews in a similar format or something.

With your newfound time, I suggest you do a comic book on a plucky basketball team. I’m sure it would rock!

I see your SCALPED review is up. I guess I’ll have to buckle down and read another of the TPBs. But I’ll still argue that if it takes you three story arcs to get where you’re going, you’ve failed in some sense. How many books deserve and get a 12-issue tryout from readers or publishers?

P.S. Someone wrote an alternate history years ago in which Custer survives and becomes president. I wonder if Chaykin read it and swiped from it.

How about reviewing each story arc (e.g., six issues’ worth) as if it were one comic? That way, you wouldn’t have to do elaborate plot summaries and art reviews for each issue. And you could dispense with all the “this is a setup issue/things are moving along/it isn’t a bad comic by any means/by now you know what to expect/we’re heading toward the big finish” type of comments.

Rob: Hey, that’s a good idea for a comic! :)

I agree that if it takes you that long to get somewhere good, you’ve probably failed. But I do think, when it comes to Scalped, that I’m in the minority in thinking that Aaron took too long to get really going. A lot of people liked it from the get-go.

That would be interesting if Chaykin swiped that story. Some things seem to be in the zeitgeist, however, and reversing when famous people get killed is always an interesting story to mine.

I’ll probably do something like that. Last week I reviewed the first issue of East of West, and this week I’ll probably review the final issue of Glory. When an arc finishes, I’ll probably check in, unless there’s a big debut issue. I’ll just play it by ear!

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