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What I bought – 29 April 2015

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Genesis is a great lie; but it is also a great poem; and a six-thousand-year-old womb is much warmer than one that stretches for two thousand million. (John Fowles, from The French Lieutenant’s Woman)
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What I bought – 22 April 2015

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“I couldn’t. Absolutely. I know you work en route. And I like taxis. I was never good at geography and I learn things by asking the drivers where they come from.”

“They come from horror and despair.”

“Yes, exactly. One learns about the countries where unrest is occurring by riding the taxis here.” (Don DeLillo, from Cosmopolis)
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1987 And All That: Booster Gold #13-22

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

Booster1Booster Gold #13-22 (DC) by Dan Jurgens, Gary Martin (#13), Mike DeCarlo (#14, 18), Bruce D. Patterson (#15), Bob Lewis (#16), Arne Starr (#17, 20), Al Vey (#19), Ty Templeton (#21-22), Gene D’Angelo (#13-15, 17-22), Bob Lappan (#13, 17), John Costanza (#14, 18), Agustin Mas (#15), Albert de Guzman (#16), Duncan Andrews (#19), Steve Haynie (#20-22), Barbara Randall

Booster Gold is kind of a jackass. My previous exposure to the character had always been in the context of the Justice League, so I knew he was cocky, but the true depths of his self-importance surprised me when reading his solo title. Yes, I was aware of his origins as a former star athlete from the future who stole technology from his own time, brought it to our own, and used it to make himself into a superhero. None of that screams altruism, so I suppose I could’ve expected the brash, reckless, in-love-with-himself hero I got, but for whatever reason it caught me off-guard at first. I guess I had always assumed that since he was a professional superhero, he must have a strong core goodness that would trump his immaturity and arrogance when it mattered. In reality, his self-interest is his core, and any genuine goodness that results does so almost in spite of his personality. He likes the superhero lifestyle, but his enjoyment comes first from the thrill and then from the fame, with any satisfaction he gets from actually helping someone or fighting evil being largely incidental. He’s not a bad person; he has loose morals that guide him and the hint of a sincere desire to be better and do more. Yet all of that keeps getting overshadowed by his continued focus on maintaining his public image, getting rich, womanizing, and having fun. Continue Reading »

Flippin’ through Previews – April 2015

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What do we want? Comics from Previews #319! When do we want them? Uh, two months from now and possibly later, depending on scheduling?
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What I bought – 25 March 2015

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what the fuck is the sense of hiding under a desk and dying on our knees instead of rising up to cut off the teacher’s mindless head (Tommy Trantino, from Lock the Lock)
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What I bought – 18 March 2015

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“You know that this is an authoritarian government,” he told the cardinal. “And I know you do not like authoritarian governments.”

“That is so, General,” the cardinal replied. “I do not like them.”

“But authority comes from God, Cardinal,” Pinochet said.

“Authority, yes. Authoritarianism comes from men,” Silva Henriquez said. (Mary Helen Spooner, from Soldiers in a Narrow Land)
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What I bought – 11 March 2015

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Critics are like medical students: they always think a writer is suffering from the very disease they happen to be studying at the time. (Milorad Pavić, from A Landscape Painted With Tea)
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1987 And All That: Mister Miracle Special #1

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

Mister Miracle Special #1 (DC) by Mark Evanier, Steve Rude, Mike Royer, Anthony Tollin, Todd Klein, Richard Bruning, Robert Greenberger

MrMiracle_1There’s something very comforting about Mister Miracle Special #1. It’s fun yet unremarkable, and takes itself exactly as seriously as it deserves. A lot of story gets packed in, but so much of it is so goofy and/or low-stakes, it ends up being airy overall. While some sections fall flat, most of the book is successfully zany, and there are even some legitimate superheroics in a couple of scenes. It’s hard to do something this feel-good without it becoming saccharine, but this is just sweet enough not to be off-putting, a nice, simple story about two super-people in love working on their relationship.

At the beginning of the comic, Mister Miracle/Scott Free is getting back into death-defying escapes, like being locked in a safe that is dropped from a plane, which his wife Big Barda is not happy about. She understandably doesn’t like to watch her husband willingly put his life on the line, but Scott loves escaping and is having a hard time giving it up. Continue Reading »

Flippin’ through Previews – March 2015

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What could possibly be in Previews #318 that I could want, you might ask. Well, you’ve come to the right place to find out!
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What I bought – 25 February 2015

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Another time Billy heard Rosewater say to a psychiatrist, “I think you guys are going to have to come up with a lot of wonderful new lies, or people just aren’t going to want to go on living.” (Kurt Vonnegut, from Slaughterhouse-5)
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What I bought – 18 February 2015

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“At the end of the twentieth century, we are trying to separate inseparable strands, to divide this one from that one, because this one may be Macedonian and that one may be Bulgarian … Here the men sit back like the old men of Crete, talking about nationalism and hate while the women do all the work.” (Robert Kaplan, from Balkan Ghosts)
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1987 And All That: The Question #1-4

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

Question1The Question #1-4 (DC) by Dennis O’Neil, Denys Cowan, Rick Magyar, Tatjana Wood, Gaspar (#1, 3-4), Albert de Guzman (#2), Mike Gold

At the level of the most basic concept and plot, the opening few issues of 1987’s The Question seem almost too simple to work. A guy who wants to improve his hometown accomplishes it by creating a superhero persona for himself, not based on any special powers or skills he has, nor even really because of any personal vendetta, but simply because with a mask and a codename he can get away with stuff that would be harder to pull off otherwise. His opponents are agents of the corrupt local government, which is officially run by a drunk and inept mayor, though in reality the mayor himself is controlled from the shadows by an insane reverend. None of this is inherently bad, but it doesn’t scream originality, either, at least not on the surface. The creative team behind The Question uses the series’ core simplicity to their advantage, though, producing something rich and nuanced despite the relatively straightforward foundation. Every villain, including several of the smalltime minions, has a full and distinct personality. The titular hero has a fascinating, somewhat tormented, and often contradictory internal life, so following his thought processes is always an interesting experience. The action sequences are gorgeous and well-choreographed, easy to follow but still visually gripping and unique. And all of this is made possible by the clean, clear narrative—because the larger story isn’t all that complex, all of the players and individual scenes can be. It makes for some mighty fine reading, the sort of comic where every line of text and every new image pulls you in all over again. The ultimate destination of the narrative might be obvious up front, but the route it takes to get there, and the stops made along the way, are as surprising and exciting as anything I’ve read, from 1987 or any year. Continue Reading »

What I bought – 4 February 2015

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Another poet compared his beloved’s upper-lip hairs to the feathers of a parrot feeding a pistachio to the beloved’s lips. To help me appreciate the richness of this poetic image, Diloram drew a picture of it in my notebook. It was terrifying. (Elif Batumen, from The Possessed)
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Flippin’ through Previews – February 2015

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Hey, you know what’s going on with DC in Previews #317 this month? Why, it’s a … Convergency!!!!

(Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your servers!)
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