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What I bought – 15 January 2014

01-15-2014 03;57;01PM (2)

Believe me, everything looks like a noose if you stare at it long enough. (Sherman Alexie, from “Indian Education”)

Look at Busiek, yanking DC's chain and shit These covers have been a bit goofy given the subject matter Zero G sex has to be weird ... but probably pretty fun Sad Ivy is sad The 'regular' covers so far have been much cooler than the 'subscription variants' YES I HAVE SUCKER STAMPED ON MY FOREHEAD WHY DO YOU ASK? Miss Fury judges you! Yay!  It finally showed up at my shoppe! Tasty! Upside-down chicks on covers is the new black

AstroCity8Astro City #8 (“The View from the Shadows”) by Brent Eric Anderson (artist), Jimmy Betancourt (letterer), Kurt Busiek (writer), John G. Roshell (letterer), Alex Sinclair (colorist), Jessica Chen (assistant editor), and Kristy Quinn (editor). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Busiek writes a really good “trinity” in this issue, as the Confessor breaks into Winged Victory’s compound for a weird reason (it’s to help clear Winged Victory, but why he felt the need to break in escapes me) and gets in a “fight” with Samaritan that instantly becomes the best Superman/Batman fight ever because it proves pretty conclusively that, sorry, there’s no way Batman beats Superman (and yes, Batman is an infinitely cooler character than Superman, but he’s still not beating him in a fight). I’m sure Busiek didn’t do this with any malice toward Batman lovers, but it’s very cool to see how he breaks down what would really happen if these two characters fought. Of course, the fact that they don’t really fight is neat, too – neither is exactly toying with each the other, but it’s clear that they’re not going all out to hurt each other, either. You know why? Because they both know the other is a hero. I get really annoyed with superhero fights, because the only one that makes any sense is if there’s a new hero that no one knows yet who happens to be caught in a compromising position. When two established heroes fight, it’s just dumb. Get it together, you dumb heroes!

What’s really fascinating about this issue is the way Busiek comments on how Winged Victory has been neutered (so to speak) in a man’s world. He lays it on a bit thick, but it’s still interesting, as she realizes that because she has been tarred with this brush, she can’t even fight back properly, as the men have taken over both the investigation and the defense, and her way has no part in that. The social commentary in Astro City has always been either non-existent or not subtle, and it’s certainly not subtle here, but because female empowerment is such a hot-button topic, this story is compelling. Busiek points out that Winged Victory is targeted, and while the government’s action seems a bit extreme and even the E.A.G.L.E. agent tells her that she’s simply been accused, not convicted, the feeling that her conviction is a foregone conclusion stems from several things, not the least of which is that she’s a woman. The government’s legal backing – that supervillains accuse her of something with no proof, and therefore they can shut down her operations under RICO laws – is feeble, but Busiek is nimble enough to leave unsaid the idea that Winged Victory is somehow upsetting the social order by taking women in and training them to defend themselves, which of course makes men nervous as they believe she’s training an army. The fact that women need to defend themselves because men do a lousy job of it and are, of course, the ones who attack women in the first place is not acknowledged by the men in the government, but in this case, Busiek has laid the groundwork in prior issues of AC and, even if you’re reading this for the first time, this is where a knowledge of the world comes into place. In some comics, writers assume readers know about their fictional universes and therefore don’t make an effort to get us caught up. In this issue, Busiek assumes we know something about the real world, which informs our opinion on Winged Victory’s training camps. It’s a way for Busiek to be slightly more subtle in this issue, even though he’s still not terribly so.

The hardest part of this story will be the resolution, whether that comes next issue or the following (I think this is a four-issue story?). At the end of this issue, Winged Victory seems to get her answer about who’s behind the smear campaign. If it’s a regular supervillain, that would be disappointing because it would take this out of the “real” world and its difficult gender politics and place it firmly in a superhero world. If it’s some vast conspiracy, you could make the case that it would be more “realistic,” but it would still reduce the society-wide issues we have with gender to something that can be punched in the face. I’m very curious to see where Busiek is going with the story, but I guess I’ll have to wait to see what happens!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Okay, Debbie Downer!

Okay, Debbie Downer!

KissMeSatan5Kiss Me, Satan #5 (of 5) by Eduardo Ferreyra (color assistant), Juan Ferreyra (artist/colorist), Victor Gischler (writer), Nate Piekos (letterer), Shantel LaRocque (assistant editor), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Kiss Me, Satan ends weirdly, as it’s kind of MacGuffin chase, but Gischler never really imparts much importance to the MacGuffin, so it’s not too annoying. Basically, Gischler wanted to reveal what Barnabus really is, and he and Ferreyra do so in spectacular fashion, so the fact that we had to meander a bit to get there isn’t that big a deal. Part of the problem with the story is that Barnabus is a fairly interesting character, and his back story and how he ended up on Earth seems like a better tale than the one we got. It’s an odd, disjointed story, one that dots all the eyes and crosses all the tees, but it still feels like it’s the wrong one. Now, I can assume that Gischler has more stories to tell about Barnabus, and that’s fine, but this still seems a bit weird.

Of course, the big reason to buy a trade of this is Ferreyra’s artwork. He gets to go full-on action here, and he doesn’t disappoint. When Barnabus and Zell show up at the werewolf mansion, Ferreyra uses small panels overlaid on the big ones to both speed up the action and to show what our heroes are thinking about as they fight, and he uses some nice camera angles to zip us around the room. He uses blacks really well for some scenes, especially the one where Zell finds the baby, and the big reveal about Barnabus is superb, as he goes nuts with the gore – he has to, really – but draws it all beautifully and even a bit tragically, as we know Barnabus is having some issues. I know I’ve said it for the entire series, but Ferreyra is the big draw – Gischler’s story is decent, but it wouldn’t work without someone like Ferreyra drawing it.

So, if you’re like me and agree that probably 60% of the goodness of comics comes from the art, do yourself a favor and pick up this trade. It’s visually stunning!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, good luck with that

Yeah, good luck with that

Letter443Letter 44 #3 by Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque (artist), Shawn DePasquale (letterer), Guy Major (colorist), Charles Soule (writer), and Jill Beaton (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

I figured there would have to be evil things happening on Earth sooner or later, and I was kind of hoping for later – it’s not that I think it’s a bad idea, but unless the evil people are aliens themselves, it seems weird that other Earthlings would be so concerned about what President Blades is doing that they would resort to murder so quickly. I mean, if they’re trying to scare the president, I doubt if it will work, and if they’re trying to limit what the president can do, well, they picked the wrong person. If they’re hoping no one knows it’s murder (based on what happens, that’s a possibility), well, it seems that they think people are dumber than usual. I’m intrigued about where Soule is going with it, because the culprit could be any number of different interested parties, but I do wish it had come a bit later in the game.

Meanwhile, up in space, there’s some naughty shenanigans going on, as you can see by the cover, but what’s more important is that the crew finds an unusual asteroid and they decide to land on it. Well, maybe the naughty shenanigans will be important as a subplot as we move along, but what’s important in this issue is the asteroid, damn it!

Three issues in, and Soule and Alburquerque are doing a nice job with the mystery. Soule’s story is full of nods to the real world (Blades is Obama, essentially, so he talks about closing Guantanamo and getting out of wars), but it’s also a typical conspiracy thing, with people getting killed when in our world they’d just be exposed as a homosexual and, given our squeamishness over stuff like that, that would be enough to ruin them. Alburquerque does a good job with the sex scene, as he twists the bodies in unusual ways because it’s happening in zero gravity, but he also does a really nice job with the ennui of the teenagers in a later scene. Both creators are doing a good job, and the book remains intriguing.

Soule might be doing stuff for DC and Marvel, but wouldn’t you rather read something by him that’s creator-owned? Sure you would!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Ask him why he hasn't written a good song in 40 years!

Ask him why he hasn’t written a good song in 40 years!

LilGotham10Li’l Gotham #10 by Derek Fredolfs (writer), Dustin Nguyen (writer/artist) Saida Temofonte (letterer), Jessica Chen (assistant editor), and Kristy Quinn (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC. Batman and Catwoman created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Alfred Pennyworth, Robin, and the Joker created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and Bob Kane. Damian Wayne created by Mike Barr, Grant Morrison, and Andy Kubert. Tim Drake created by Marv Wolfman and Pat Broderick. Barbara Gordon created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino. Poison Ivy created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff. Harley Quinn created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. Jason Todd created by Gerry Conway and Don Newton. Katana created by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo.

Nguyen continues to write charming stories, some better than the others, but all worth a look. The first story in this book is one of the weaker ones, honestly – it’s about Poison Ivy getting depressed in the autumn and Harley and Selina trying to cheer her up. It’s certainly not a terrible story – I mean, Brad Meltzer didn’t write it – but it just kind of sits there. Harley is pretty fun in the story, especially the way she bosses the Joker around and the way she rocks a zoot suit, but other than that, it’s not really notable. Perhaps that’s because the second story is brilliant, as Damian sees Alfred dragging a huge bag into an unused wing of the Wayne mansion and comes to believe that Alfred is killing people and taking their bodies into the manor for nefarious purposes. It’s funny because Nguyen and Fridolfs play on the fact that Alfred is still, after 75 years, still somewhat mysterious – writers have done stuff with Alfred over the years, but his day-to-day interior life is still a bit of an enigma. Second, Damian is awesome in this story and shows, once again, that the God of All Comics’ decision to slaughter him was a bad one. He’s a big douche in this story, but he’s also hilarious, and as he drags the other Bat-sidekicks into his belief that Alfred is totes evil, the story becomes funnier and funnier. Nguyen changes the artwork to reflect the different stories the sidekicks concoct about Alfred, from the stark black-and-white of a “Dr. Frankenstein” idea to the rough brushstrokes of the demon Alfred possessing souls. It’s very cool how Nguyen does it. It’s always fun to see an artist trying different stuff, and Nguyen does it very well. I’m not sure if I’ll miss this book when it’s gone, but it’s very solid!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I would read a comic starring Asshole Alfred every goddamned day of the week!

I would read a comic starring Asshole Alfred every goddamned day of the week!

Maxx3The Maxx: Maxximized #3 by Mike Heisler (letterer), Sam Kieth (writer/artist), William Messner-Loebs (writer), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jim Sinclair (additional inker). $3.99, 21 pgs, FC, IDW.

Dang, this is a cool-looking comic. Kieth does such a cool job with the page layouts, moving between the “real” world and the Outback very nicely, and managing to make the Maxx a tragic figure even though he looks really weird. The final few pages, where the Maxx sits with Julie and we see two different worlds, is really well done.

I still don’t love the story – Messner-Loebs is really expository in this issue, and I don’t think he needs to be. Mr. Gone tells the Maxx a bit too much, and while there’s still plenty of mystery left, it’s kind of annoying to get things spelled out that are, after all, fairly obvious just from the way the story functions. Oh well. The comic is 20 years old – what are you going to do?

Still, it’s gorgeous. That’s definitely something!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Man, this comic is like what you experience when you're on drugs ... so I've been told

Man, this comic is like what you experience when you’re on drugs … so I’ve been told

Miracleman1Miracleman #1 (“A Dream of Flying”) by Mick Anglo (writer/artist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Digikore (art restorer), Michael Kelleher (art restorer), Don Lawrence (artist), Garry Leach (artist/art restorer), Grumpy “Morrison is riding my jock, yo” McBeardypants (writer), Steve Oliff (colorist), Cory Sedlmeier (restoration editor), and Jeff Youngquist (restoration editor). $5.99, 64 pgs, FC/BW, Marvel. Miracleman created by … well, shit, let’s not get into that, okay?

So let’s talk about Miracleman.

If you’ve never read Miracleman, you really ought to, although I imagine many people who have never read it by now are either not interested in reading it or are waiting for the inevitable $40-$75 hardcover that Marvel will release once they’re done with reprinting this. (I arrive at that based on their past pricing policies, but also whether they will include all the extra stuff they’re including in these single issues. I don’t know what else will be in the subsequent single issues, but if they have old Marvelman stories and interviews with creators – not Beardo, of course, because he might put a spell on them – then it might push the price up. We shall see.) Marvel tries to justify the $6 price tag, as they reprint a prologue from 1985 that features an old Marvelman story with Moore dialogue to bring it in line with Moore’s modern story (it’s quite weird, but kind of neat). They also have some quotes from Mick Anglo about his life from when Joey Q (without a baseball cap?!?!?) interviewed him in 2010 (Anglo died in 2011), and then some Marvelman stories from the 1950s, including the first two he appeared in. They don’t quite make this worth it, and it’s very strange why Marvel would do this. The stories are reprints, and there’s no hurry to publish them, as far as I know. Marvel is trying to milk every single dollar out of this series, but why? I just checked the April solicits, and they’re skipping the next single issue for a month to offer the first four issues in a hardcover for THIRTY DOLLARS. That’s insane. I get that they charge a ton of money for their single issues because they know that the sheep will think they have to read everything right away, but as anyone with a brain knows, if you’re patient they’ll eventually release a nice version of the collected issues for far less. The people who want to read this and haven’t done so yet have been waiting for over 20 years – the last trade came out around 1991, I think (without checking on it). They can wait a little longer. The people who haven’t been waiting for this because they don’t know much about it – you know, the people Marvel is hoping they can hook with this story because someone they might have heard of named Neil Gaiman (only old farts like you and me know who Cranky Crankerson is) is waiting to write stuff with this character on the back end – will not think this is a good idea at all. Mike Sterling writes about having to do a hard sell to his customers on this book and giving a deep discount and still having trouble getting rid of it. I assume pre-orders on the book are fine (remember, you’re not Marvel’s customers, retailers are), but will they be for the issues after the hardcover, or will interest vanish once people realize that they’re getting hosed? It is absolutely insane for Marvel to do this, especially because the Eclipse issues (as opposed to the trades) aren’t really that hard to find. Marvel has done a very nice job in the past five years or so getting back to the heyday of the Bill Jemas era, letting creators really take point on several of their books and making the comics very distinctive and cool, but they remain absolute idiots with regard to pricing. When you’re charging far too much for fucking reprints, you’re idiots.

It’s too bad, because Steve Oliff’s recoloring is rather nice. The original colors (keeping in mind that the original comic was in black and white, and when I write “original colors” I mean the first time the book was touched up) were garish and occasionally just wrong (the famous “purple Miracleman” panel, for instance), and while I don’t love recoloring everything to make it “realistic,” Oliff manages to strike a pretty good balance between Mike Moran’s bright costume and the drabness of the real world. I wish it were a bit brighter, but oh well. The art restoration and recoloring helps create some more contrasts in the more explosive panels, like when Miracleman defeats the terrorists. I mentioned when the recoloring was announced that I hope Oliff keeps it a bit fuzzy when Mike and Johnny fight, because the original coloring makes it appear their fight is so intense that they create obscuring heat around them, but I have a feeling that too will be crisper. Moore, of course, shows us that he’s a master of phrasing, and while “superheroes in the real world” has been done to death over the past 30 years and so this might seem stale, it’s still one of (if not the) first attempt at that, and it’s a lot better than almost all of them. It’s just really too bad that Marvel seems intent on driving any readers away from this. They could have released just the reprints in slim, 2-dollar single issues, or just begun with a hardcover collecting the entire Moore run. This is the worst way of all possible worlds, but I guess they’re the billion-dollar industry and I’m just a schnook, so what the hell do I know? (And yes, I did actually spend the six dollars for this even though I already own the comic. Occasionally, for the sake of the blog, I’ll buy a book just so I can write about it, and I was perversely curious about this. I’ll be waiting for the big hardcover from now on.)

Rating (for just the Moore/Leach story): ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Rating (for the Marvel package): ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It's still better than reality, Mike!

It’s still better than reality, Mike!

MissFury8Miss Fury #8 by Simon Bowland (letterer), Jack Herbert (artist), Ivan Nunes (colorist), and Rob Williams (writer). $3.99, 20 pgs, FC, Dynamite. Miss Fury created by Tarpé Mills.

I assume Williams wrote this before news of Miss Fury‘s cancellation (or possibly just the ending – I don’t know if Dynamite is cancelling it because of poor sales or if Williams is just finishing his story and that’s all they planned for), but if he wrote it afterward, it seems he just figured “Fuck the heck” and went a bit nuts with it, because as nuts as the previous issues have been, this is even nuttier. Marla is in an alternate 1943, where her doppelgänger is a bit more extreme than she is, as she guns perps down rather casually and enjoys having lots of weird sex. Marla rescues her from the bad guys, but then shit gets even more intense, as she’s forced to make a terrible decision. It’s actually really well done by Williams, leading her to that spot and showing how awful she needs to be to get what she wants.

I’m glad Herbert’s back on art, and I hope he can finish the book (I haven’t looked at the solicits, so I don’t know if he’s supposed to be on the book through issue #11 or not). I have a feeling that this book will read much better all at once, when we can make all the connections that Williams is making. It’s not a great comic, but it’s bizarrely entertaining – Marla makes out with herself in this issue, for instance – and I’ll be interested to see where Williams goes in the next few issues.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

She'd have to dress different.  She'd have to act different.  She'd have to grow a mustache and get all kinds of robes and lotions and she'd need a new bedspread and new curtains and she'd have to get thick carpeting and weirdo lighting.  She'd have to get new friends.  She'd have to get orgy friends.

She’d have to dress different. She’d have to act different. She’d have to grow a mustache and get all kinds of robes and lotions and she’d need a new bedspread and new curtains and she’d have to get thick carpeting and weirdo lighting. She’d have to get new friends. She’d have to get orgy friends.

Secret4Secret #4 (“Eyes Wide Open”) by Ryan Bodenheim (artist), Michael Garland (colorist), Jonathan Hickman (writer), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

It’s a shame that Secret has taken so long to come out (even longer for me; this issue came out in December, but Diamond didn’t ship it to my retailer, who only got it this week), because it’s a pretty cool book. It’s not Hickman’s best, but it’s pretty good. I can’t really name everyone because I’ve forgotten who’s who (Hickman does name people through the dialogue, though, which is nice), but when he gets to the big reveal about what’s going on, it’s pretty cool, and he does a nice job writing intense little scenes between characters. It will, of course, read much better when it’s done, but Hickman has gotten better at writing single issues, so even though I can’t remember how everyone is connected, at least the stuff that happens in this issue is pretty keen.

I don’t know why this is so late – whether it’s Hickman’s fault or Bodenheim’s fault or a combination of both. Bodenheim’s art looks a bit more detailed in this issue as opposed to earlier ones, so maybe he took a longer time on it, but Hickman’s own project that he was drawing and was supposed to be out in the fall of 2012 is still not here, so maybe it’s just Hickman doing too much stuff right now. Beats me. Whatever the case, Secret is a cool little book, and if you’ve missed it so far, the trade should be out sometime before the next century!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Veronica takes no shit!

Veronica takes no shit!

SixthGun37The Sixth Gun #37 (“Not the Bullet, but the Fall Part Two”) by Cullen Bunn (writer), Bil Crabtree (colorist), Crank! (letterer), Brian Hurtt (artist), and Charlie Chu (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

Every once in a while, Bunn kicks The Sixth Gun up a notch, taking it from one of the best series out there right now to Holy Shit territory, and I had a feeling this issue might be one, based on the ending of the previous issue. Bunn doesn’t disappoint, as he throws a ton of bad guys at our heroes and lets the violence commence, but he also moves the strange love triangle between Becky, Drake, and Kirby forward just a little, which is neat. He also ends at yet another interesting place, as some of the group is separated from the other and Asher Cobb, Mummy Extraordinaire, shows up again. He’s not happy.

Hurtt does his usual stellar job with the artwork, as he gets to draw a lot of violence and, of course, nails it. He’s really good when Missy shows up early in the book, a bit changed, and confronts Becky. Later on, as good as the violence is, the two panels of Kirby and Becky looking at each other while the violence erupts around them is really nicely done. Becky might be pissed at Kirby, but she can’t deny that she’s attracted to him. Hurtt doesn’t do anything too fancy with their faces, but he does enough to show how they feel even though they don’t say anything.

So, yeah. An exceptional issue. That’s always nice to see!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That can't be good for her ocular care

That can’t be good for her ocular care

Velvet3Velvet #3 (“Before the Living End Part Three”) by Elizabeth Breitweiser (colorist), Ed Brubaker (writer), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Steve Epting (artist), and David Brothers (editor). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Image.

Before I praise, I should bury, shouldn’t I? So Brubaker writes in the letters page that he’s never been a fan of the “greater than” and “less than” signs to indicate a different language, so they decided to use a different font in italics. That’s fine and all, but what’s the difference, really? It’s still an artificial construct so a primarily English-speaking audience can read what people are saying. What’s the big deal with anyway? It’s just weird to take a stand against them when you’re doing primarily the same thing. I don’t mind either way, honestly. It’s going to be written in English vernacular – it’s not “translated” and no writer will use idioms from that language and translate them into English, so it’s just written as English and we’re supposed to interpret it as a different language. It doesn’t really matter how you do that. The font is nice, though.

Epting draws this very nicely, with his thinnish lines suiting a sleeker tone than Brubaker’s work with Sean Phillips. He does a very nice job with Velvet and the way she reacts to things – this is a woman who puts up with no bullshit, and Epting’s wry facial expressions that he gives her work very well with that mindset. It’s also interesting, because she’s moving in a world of men, and Epting manages to give her a thinly-veiled look of contempt for all the men she needs to deal with. Epting does a lot to fill out Velvet’s personality, which is always a good thing. I don’t love the drab coloring, even though it fits the time period, and I really don’t like the computerized smoke from the cigarettes. Breitweiser does a really nice job with the splash when the bodies hit the water early in the book, making the Danube look like a smeary mess, but then, when it comes to the smoke, it appears like either she or Epting awkwardly Photoshops it in. The smoke should be hazier, but it looks almost clean. It’s not a great choice.

The story continues fairly well, although Brubaker makes what I would consider a mistake by having Velvet make a rookie mistake, even though we’ve been told and, for the most part, seen what a good agent she is. I guess you could make the argument that she’s been out of the field for a while, but it still seems lazy of her not to know what’s going on. It adds drama to the proceedings, and I imagine it will become a problem next issue, but it’s still a bit sloppy. But the issue itself is fairly exciting, and still intriguing. I’m looking forward to the next one!

Also, 80% of the people suggesting the name of a letter column wanted “Velvet Underground.” Really, people? I don’t know what mine would have been because I didn’t think about it, but could that have been any more obvious? Oh well. The next time Black Science comes out, I hope my suggestion for a letter column wins, because it’s an awesome suggestion. Well, according to me. I may be biased!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It's funny because he's a dumb thug

It’s funny because he’s a dumb thug

**********

I was reading Comic Book Creator #3, and if you get a chance to pick it up, I highly recommend it. It has some interesting features in it, but the highlight is the Neal Adams interview. Holy crap, it’s breathtaking. It’s 36 (!!!) pages long – yes, you read the correctly – and it’s everything you could ever ask for from 36 (!!!) pages of pretty much unfiltered Adams. The main focus of the story is Batman: Odyssey, which Adams explains in painstaking detail. It begs the question whether you should really have to explain it as much as Adams does, but it’s still amazing. He also takes on Internet critics who dared to bash it, making the point that has been made for time immemorial about serialized fiction – you can’t judge it until it’s finished. I have always loved creators who whine about people judging their works before they’re completed but do nothing to change the paradigm of the monthly comic book. If Adams wanted to release the book in 13 different chapters, they’re going to get judged that way. The condescension from both Adams and the interviewer over “trolls” (like the people at Comics Alliance, who are pretty far from “trolls”) who dare to judge Batman: Odyssey poorly is stupendous. Look, Batman: Odyssey is absolutely insane and dumb, but it’s also wildly entertaining. Some people didn’t like the art, but I thought Adams was turning in really good stuff. It’s something everyone should read because it’s just that nuts (Neanderthals dressed as Batman and Robin? Why not?!?!?), but I don’t think we can call it particularly good literature. Still, the interview is absolutely wonderful. I assume Greg Hatcher has read the interview, so I’ll let him chime in with his opinion! (And if he hasn’t read it, well, he totally should!)

Moving on, Russell Johnson and then Dave Madden died, so it was a bad week for people who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. I was too young to watch either Gilligan’s Island or The Partridge Family when they first aired, but Gilligan’s Island was in heavy rotation in syndication during the late 1970s/early 1980s, so I saw plenty of it. Weirdly, The Partridge Family didn’t show up too often in syndication, so while I’ve seen episodes, I’m not as familiar with it and don’t have any attachment to it (not that I have an attachment to Gilligan’s Island, but I’ve seen every episode probably at least twice or thrice). I mention both of these gentlemen because when I went over to read about the Professor, I saw a news story about the death of Cassandra Lynn Hensley, who was a Playboy Playmate in 2006. Apparently she died of an overdose, but an autopsy hasn’t been done yet, so cause of death is still pending – the friend whose apartment she was in believes it was an overdose. Unfortunately, reading a story about her death reminded me why the Internet is a horrible place, as the comments on the story were so hateful that I almost – almost – couldn’t believe it. Celebrity deaths don’t affect me at all, and I have no opinion about Ms. Hensley one way or another, so I’m not sure why people have to be so angry about her death. Of course, the news that she might have overdosed means she’s a horrible person, and the fact that she’s famous for posing naked meant she was a horrible and stupid person. I mean, I would hit the roof if my daughter wanted to pose for Playboy, but some people really want to do it, and that’s their thing. All the people commenting about how she got what she deserved because she’s a godless whore need to be punched really hard in the face. I rarely read the comments on big news sites, and I was reminded why not the other day. Sheesh.

And hey, if you have lost your faith in the people on the Internet, with their holy judgment and awful words about a dead woman, you can always go out into the real world, where a person can get shot and killed for texting during a movie. Sorry, the previews for a movie. Look, I hate people talking and/or texting during a movie and/or bringing their 3-year-olds to a motherfucking 10 p.m. showing of motherfucking Sin City (why no, this didn’t happen to me, why do you ask?), but killing someone? Really? Good Christ, gays marrying each other won’t end civilization, the fact that everyone seems to think you can win an argument by shooting and killing someone will.

Finally, I got a haircut. Yes, it’s gripping news. Here’s the deal: I haven’t had really short hair since I was about 6 or 7. My mom took me to a barbershop in Germany and told them to cut my hair “ganz kurz.” She thought that meant I would just get a short haircut, but they took it to mean that I should get a buzzcut. So a buzzcut I received! There was much mockery of my hair … by my own family, I must say (we were really mean to each other – I’m stunned my sister and I never climbed a bell tower with a high-powered rifle). I never felt like getting a very short haircut in the intervening years, but yesterday I decided to go for it. I went to the barbershop right by my house, which is about as close to the stereotypical barbershop in movies such as … well, Barbershop as you can get (with an unfortunate exception of no one who worked there was as hot as Eve), and the guy there gave my head a nice trim. Here’s my hair before my cut:

DSC02159

And here’s me after the trim:

DSC02160

Perhaps predictably, the wife is not terribly fond of it. Oh well, I dig it. We’ll see how long it lasts. Just another adventure with Greg’s hair! What will happen next? You’re on pins and needles, I’m sure.

Let’s move on to the Ten Most Recent Songs on My iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle but which I Accidentally Reset Last Week, Damn It!!!!):

1. “Language or the Kiss” – Indigo Girls (1994) “All I’ve sown was a song but maybe I was wrong”
2. “Baby Can I Hold You” – Tracy Chapman (1988) “Years gone by and still words don’t come easily”
3. “Borstal Boys” – Faces (1973) “Bet your life there’s a riot tonight in the mess hall”
4. “Laura” – Scissor Sisters (2004) “This’ll be the last time I ever do your hair”
5. “Elizabeth” – The Airborne Toxic Event (2013) “I said all these songs are love songs, just love at times can make you feel like shit”
6. “Nitro Burning Funny Cars” – Dead Milkmen (1987) “This world is full of people who look a lot like Gavin MacLeod”1
7. “Mama Train” – Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs (2001) “I wanna do damage all the time”
8. “Solace of You” – Living Colour (1990) “They can hurt me, jail my body – I’ll still be free”
9. “Out to Get You” – James (1993) “Miss the outline of your back, miss you breathing down my neck”
10. “Renaissance Man” – Midnight Oil (1993) “A new world order has been formed between the cheque book and the dawn”

1 It really is, isn’t it?

No Totally Random Lyrics last week, but let’s fire some up today!

“There’s a ship on the rise and he’s shootin’ at me
I rotate my ship and at the count of three
I fire and shoot and blow him out of the sky
Push on the button and wave bye-bye”

Have fun with it, everyone!

I hope everyone is staying warm and not, you know, freezing to death. It’s actually fairly warm here – in the 70s – which is nice, but I still miss a little bit of weather. I mean, we could use some rain, and January and February are usually when we get it, so who knows if we will this year. Anyway, have a nice weekend, everyone, and be nicer to each other than evil Internet commmenters reading about a nude model’s death, won’t you? I know – not a high bar, but you can do it!

25 Comments

I love Sixth Gun. That is all.

Scared me there Greg. Secret’s shipping is so all over the map that Iegit thought my LCS screwed up and an issue stealth-shipped.

If you liked that you might check out Following Cerebus #…9? I think? It’s 100 pages (!!!) of a conversation between Dave Sim and Neal Adams strolling about Niagra Falls. They cover a lot of ground, to put it mildly. More about theory than any particular work.

I totally gave up on Secret. No interest digging up the back issues as I have no recollection of what that book was about.

i actually picked up miracleman. i’ve waited years to be able to read it, and wasn’t disappointed by the package. different strokes, for different folks, i suppose… but i enjoyed it for what it was worth.

Marcius Fabiani

January 17, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Post some pictures of your comics collection one of these days.

I’ll be sorry to see Miss Fury go. I’ve been enjoying that series more and more.

Paladin King: Sorry! Yeah, there’s not a new issue of Secret. Who knows when there will be!

dave: Thanks, I might have to do that. That has to be a trip.

I figure Secret will work once I own them all, but yeah – it’s tough to keep up with it.

m!ke: Fair enough. I really hope a lot of people are like you, because that will mean that a lot of people are reading it, but I really fear that you’ll be in the minority. I hope I’ll be proven wrong!

buttler: Yeah, it is getting better. I don’t know why it’s ending, but 11 issues might be a very cool little story!

Marcus: It’s not that interesting. A bunch of long boxes and a lot of bookshelves full of trades and graphic novels. I’ve thought about submitting it to Shelf Porn on Robot 6, but it’s just a typical collection – no fancy figures or anything. Maybe I will someday, though!

Ohh…..thanks for the Sixth Gun review Greg, i ve been contemplating picking up the first trade for a while (i know im late to the party), you just convinced me!

My “purple Miracleman” is pretty infamous, yeah. uh, we’re not talking about the same thing, are we?

Not only did your retailer get delayed (more) on Secret, but Letter 44 3 came out … 2 weeks ago, I think? I dunno, I’m trying to get through my 2013 stuff before I get going with 2014, so I haven’t read it yet. But I did get it before this week. (I got the first issue several weeks after it was supposed to be out as well, because…I dunno why.)

Oh my… that haircut. You look like some cartoon character that I just can’t think of. But this looks like you WILL be up in that bell tower, and the news will give your full name (“shooter Gregory Thomas Burgas”, or whatever the hell your middle name is), and your neighbors will be questioned (“he seemed nice enough. He always said the garage was full of comic books, but we always suspected there might be something…else in there.”), and … yeah. Grow it back out, dude.

I haven’t ever read the whole thing, but as resident Cerebus fan, what I flipped through of that Following Cerebus 9 was pretty neato. And Neal Adams in person is quite a guy. His son’s a nice dude too.

And here’s really what I’ve been waiting for all week:

If Neutral Milk Hotel’s tour comes anywhere near you, GO!!! They are AMAZING live.

I got to see the kick off show of their tour at the lovely State Theater in Ithaca NY, and lucked into what was an absolutely amazing seat — front row center balcony. The stage was laid out right in front of me, I had leg room, and when Jeff Mangum waved the crowd up to stand in front of the stage, causing the rest of the crowd down below to have to stand the whole show, I got to seat in my comfortable seat.

The opening act, Elf Power, was pretty good too. Good enough I bought 2 of their CDs at the merch table (along with finally getting my hands on “On Avery Island”). In between the bands was a little long, but it was interesting to watch the stage get set up with all the necessary instruments. “French horn — kick ass! Tuba — alright! Moog synth!!!! Musical FUCKING SAWS!!!!!!!”

Then a simply amazing set by NMH. Nearly all of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” was performed in some order (save “Communist Daughter”, I believe), some really neat songs I wasn’t familiar with, and an amazing, probably 10+ minute long song called “Ferris Wheel on Fire” to close out the main set before an encore of the last few tracks of “Aeroplane” and one last one with the band.

And this is the band that recorded “Aeroplane”. The saw player hops around with glee, Jeff Mangum has a hat and coat and beard that make him look like Rob Zombie, kinda, but he’s enjoying himself. The one horn player has an awesome white fluffy beard sans mustache. The drummer looks like he stole his mustache from the Husker Du drummer — not that he’s copying him, but actually beat up that guy and took his mustache from him.

My only minor quibbles were that sometimes the horns weren’t in the mix as well as they could be, and that they played the 3 best tracks right off the bat. True, with an opener like “The King of Carrot-Flowers (pts 1-3)”, you’ve GOT to start with it, but to then go in to “Holland 1945″? Seemed a bit too much too fast (especially when the start of “Holland 1945″ was briefly marred by a guitar change that didn’t go over right — an unplugged guitar, I think). However, the show in toto was so damn good, that I’m just quibbling for the sake of quibbling.

So yeah, even knowing “Aeroplane” really really well, to watch the intricate compositions pulled off live — it was a thing of beauty, man. Well worth it!

The hair suits you short. It suited you long too.

The point you brought up about comments on celebrity deaths – and indeed comments about everything online – is perhaps not new, but that doesn’t make it any the less valid. The judgement of another’s whole life and character because of the few choices they made that we know about… I don’t have words to describe how sad that makes me feel when I see it.

There are very few sites where I will scroll past the end of an article or below a video or webcomic because I cannot deal with the level of vitriol and hatred that is so often there. The Wife in Space/The Wife and Blake and Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona are the only two absolutely reliable safe zones when it comes to comments. Even here, I’ve learned there are certain people whose words I should avoid reading.

Regarding the comics – I also wonder where Winged Victory will be left after this arc. Her first appearance had hints of the problems she would have. This story reminds me of every time a female politician has achieved a position of real power – the assaults on her character and competence are somehow extra vicious.

Well they could have doomed it from the start and called it “Velvet Revolver”.

Dark Knight: I just re-read The Sixth Gun recently, and I think I love it even more reading it all at once! It’s a very cool series with wonderful art. I hope you enjoy it!

Travis: Letter 44 came out on the 8th – my retailer only pre-orders 2 of them, and Diamond only sent him 1, so the other subscriber got it. Luckily Diamond was actually on the ball for once and got him another copy this week. Efficiency by Diamond? Alert the media!

But look how smiley I am in the pictures! Guys who climb bell towers aren’t that jovial!

My middle name is Maxwell, by the way. Bet you didn’t see that coming!

I’ve never met Adams, so I don’t know how he is, but even though he picks on some critics, he does come off pretty well in the interview. He loves talking, which I can appreciate!

Sounds like a very cool concert – I love the part about you sitting down, because that’s what I like to do at concerts, as I am old. I don’t get to many concerts these days, unfortunately. When we manage to get a babysitter, we have to be really particular with where we go, because we don’t get out that often! They’ll be in Phoenix in April … hmmm. I don’t think the wife likes them, though, so convincing her to go might take some doing.

Derek: I generally like the comments here – Brian does a pretty good job filtering out the garbage. I know Kelly gets the bulk of the crap, but on my posts, even if people are a bit rude, they’re usually rude about my opinions and not my life, which I can deal with. But yeah – even in some very cool places, you never know when things are going to get out of hand! It’s really a shame.

Busiek is a good writer, so I have confidence in him, but I am very curious to see what happens.

Mudassir: See, as cheesy as that would have been, at least it wouldn’t have been sooooo obvious! I just wonder if Brubaker got that as a suggestion, because I would have loved him to have the stones to call it that!

tom fitzpatrick

January 18, 2014 at 7:55 am

If you really, really, really wanted to experiment: why don’t you try going for the “bald” look?
Think of all the fun you’ll have going around shocking people and all!

Did that once a few years back: traumatized my co-workers so much that they complained and demanded that I never do that again!.

I did do it again a few years later when I was home nursing a broken foot for a few months, so when I went back to work, my hair grew back enough that my co-workers were spared the second bald time. ;-)

As for MIRACLEMAN: Damn, it about time it finally got back. Is this book monthly? If it is, that means that we have to wait 2 more years until we get to where Gaiman & Buckingham left off when ECLIPSE Comics went belly-up.

Still, it’s damn time it’s back in circulation.

Have you noticed about ASTRO CITY that they came out monthly for 8 issues? I seem to remember that Anderson usually took 6 weeks to do 1 issue of Astro City way back when it was published at Image.
I wonder how much longer the monthly schedule will last before Vertigo has to space it out some?

I dig VELVET. and FATALE. I haven’t read too much of Brubaker’s work DC or Marvel-wise, but his creator-owned work is pretty damn good.

Huh – I’m saying “damn” a fair bit today? Must be the weather. Where I live : we’re in a Polar Vortex.
Bummer.

tom: One of the reasons I’ve never shaved my head completely is that I was worried it would never grow back! It’s totally irrational, I know, but that’s what I thought. I might do it, though, if I like this short hair.

Miracleman appears to be monthly, but the early stuff will get used up pretty quickly – I don’t think the comic went to a full standard issue until #11 or 12, maybe, so Marvel should get to that fast. The next issue comes out in two weeks, but in April, they’re not soliciting an issue so they can publish the hardcover. I imagine they want to make sure to give Buckingham (and Gaiman, depending on how far out he wrote) at least some lead time to finish their story so they don’t get delays on the back end. We shall see.

Yeah, Astro City’s schedule has been remarkably good. I don’t know how much Anderson was to blame for the slowness, especially during the Dark Ages, as Busiek was pretty ill. I’m curious if they’re going to need to start taking breaks, but it’s cool to see the schedule holding up!

Sorry to hear that you’re in the crappy weather!

I’ve been shaving regularly since 1998, for over half my life, and it grows back every time.
I started shaving it while playing sports. It was convenient getting out of the pool and being dry in like two seconds. I liked the look and kept it.

Sorry, I didn’t make it clear in my last post that I was referring to shaving my head, in case there was any confusion.

From what I understand in things I saw about Astro City, they had 10 issues ready before the Vertigo series started. And I suppose 10 is solicited in the current Previews, so we’ll see soon if 11 is solicited for the next month.

And unless I’m mistaken, I think Busiek takes the bulk of the blame with his health problems (as in, he actually SAYS it’s his fault). I’m sure he’ll be here to curse us out if I’m incorrect :)

I’ve had super short hair and I’ve had my hair down past my shoulders. I usually prefer it longer though the wife hates that. She says that if she can bury her hand in my hair then it is too long. Screw that. I have a thick luxurious mane. I need to flaunt one of my only good features!

Oh, I didn’t mean you you going to NMH. I figured someone actually cool, like our pal Daniel or somebody.

HAHAHAHAHA

Maxwell? Well, we know what weapon you’ll use for your spree. Silver Hammer, y’all!!!

Oh, I just saw my horrible typo in my NMH comment. “seat in my comfortable seat” Oh lordy.

P. Boz: My hair doesn’t grow very long. It gets to my collar or so and starts curling. This was very traumatic in the late 1980s, when all my friends were growing their hair long so they could pretend they were in hair metal bands. :)

Travis: Sorry, my bad. I didn’t realize I wasn’t cool enough to see the band!!! :)

As a guy who hasn’t been able to grow hair on top since his early twenties, I am of the opinion that those who can should let it grow as long as they are able to get away with. That said, being no fan of personal grooming, I do like that the “buzz cut” is easy to maintain by yourself for free after the initial investment for the clippers. You will miss out on having your hair cut by a former crazy motherfucker gangster rapper, though.

If I’m a sheep, it’s not for wanting to read everything ASAP. It’s because, in 2014, I paid $6 for a single comic. And price aside it was… okay. In 2014 I just don’t think this stuff comes across as powerful, even if it is a solid and more original version of the same things we’ve been getting forever. Like I want to be annoyed by the spoiler Greg slipped in there but it’s not even like I can pretend I didn’t see that plot point coming. My favorite part was pretty easily the prologue because it was slightly less expected.

Duff: You did pay 6 dollars, and so did I, but if you were just curious about it, that’s fine. What I wouldn’t understand is Marvel doing this for every issue of this comic, and expecting people to keep up. I wouldn’t be surprised if this issue sold okay, but once people realize that a lot of it’s padding, I hope they would realize they don’t need the single issues. Again, maybe this will sell like gangbusters, but it seems like it would sell a LOT better if Marvel sold it for a lot cheaper.

As for the actual story – it’s too bad that it’s been mined for years, because it does dilute the impact of it. I still think the writing is excellent, and for the most part, the art is wonderful. I assume the spoiler you’re talking about is when I wrote about the fight, but I don’t consider it too much of a spoiler, considering the story has been around for 30 years and even in this issue, you know that guy is evil. His identity might be unknown, but you know he’s evil.

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