Friday, June 03, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAs I'm sure most of you are aware, Monday was Memorial Day. Hope you had a happy (or at the very least reverent or family-bonding-ish, or whatever) one. So, naturally, the week's comics shipment was scheduled to arrive in shops on Thursday instead of Wednesday. But- my shop got short-shipped, which meant several titles were no-shows yesterday and I was advised to wait until Friday to get my four-color fix. Many thanks to Mik Cary for the heads-up (and also, in the spirit of credit where credit is due, he was the one which brought the great news about the Animated Tick to my attention as well). So anyway, I went and got my new comics today, and to be perfectly honest, they weren't an especially inspiring bunch. Out of the four I got (which I listed a few days ago), the best by far was issue 2 of Seven Soldiers: Zatanna, which featured a surprise return by a character that I had thought long forgotten (and if she's appeared more than once or twice since 1975, it's news to me): -and HERE BE SPOILERS SO STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED - Cassandra Craft, the blind psychic girlfriend that Len Wein gave the Phantom Stranger back when he was writing his book back in the mid-70's! And lookin' GOOD as drawn by Ryan Sook and Mick Gray. Nicely updated, with long, straight pale blonde hair and a clever nod to her former attire, a chartreuse bellbottomed jumpsuit which not only Jim Aparo but Fred Carillo (who drew the later issue in which she and the Stranger reunited, #35) chose to render her in as if she had 100 pair of those one-piecers in her closet and nothing else along with a spiffy new (again, to me) magic shop which I think she must have leased from Madame Xanadu. You see, and you'll know this if you recall how much time I spent posting the images from PS's backup feature (and eventual Seventh Soldier) Spawn of Frankenstein, that I was and am a fan of the Phantom Stranger character, and that Wein/Aparo run in particular, so I was geeked to see Cass make a comeback. And then at the end, -and again, HERE BE SPOILERS SO STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED - The Stranger himself shows up, just like I was hoping fervently that he would! And as he is prone to do, he gives a somewhat long-winded speech (nicely written by Grant, with just the right amount of Wein-style pomposity) and then follows it up with a great, mood-deflating joke, just like no one has EVER let the Stranger do! I'm tellin' ya, it SLAYED me! MAJOR props to Grant Morrison.

I didn't really set out to write a review as such, that comes later, but I just wanted to share. Hope I didn't spoil it for anybody.

I also wish that I'd been more aware that Alex De Campi & Igor Kordey's Smoke came out yesterday as well; the $7 price tag is daunting but I would have liked to have looked it over, maybe to pick up the presumed forthcoming trade. I didn't notice a copy on my shop's wall rack, though, and I'm not sure I would have noticed it if they did. That one's my bad, I guess, but it's also entirely possible that they didn't order it. I really like Kordey's work, so I hope to see it eventually. Also spent a couple of minutes skimming the We3 trade; you know, I'll bet it reads even better collected, or at least that's the post-skim impression I had.

Other recent acquisitions I intend to write about eventually: the first Dark Horse hardcover reprint edition of the Gold Key/Russ Manning Magnus, Robot Fighter (many thanks to John Jakala, my enabler), which I used to read a lot as a child but haven't seen in quite a while- and while those old tales don't give me quite the sense of wonder as an adult that I remember as a child, they're still solid, old-school comics and an entertaining read. And brother, that Manning art is smooth. I also got the copy of Adventures of Bob Hope #101 that I won on eBay was in fine shape (paper was a bit yellowed but it was tight and not rusty staples or corner wear or tears of any kind) and I'm very pleased. Haven't read it all the way through yet.

In non-comics related notes, I finally took the plunge and spent an extra $6 to get a copy of Maria Muldaur's 2000 release Richland Woman Blues, which is about 95% more bluesy that anything I've heard from her previously, full of tributes and collaborations with some legendary blues artists. I've been curious about this one for a long time, in fact, it's the first Muldaur album I've owned since 1979's compromised and bland Open Your Eyes.

I've also made a habit of watching Samurai Champloo, one of the newest anime to be featured on Cartoon Network's Saturday night anime block. As with so much anime, I have to grimace sometimes at the tone of the translations, full of modern slang expressions, but that may be the point to it- it's definitely trying to be a round peg in a room full of square anime holes with its eccentric music and offbeat characters. In fact, it's the interaction between the three principals that keeps my interest- I'm not sure where it's going and I like them enough to care, especially the tall samurai (named Jin) with the anachronistic glasses (how do they stay on his face when he does his lightning-fast moves?), who has a calm demeanor and a desert-dry wit. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the same people responsible for Cowboy Bebop, which I've also been interested in on-and-off-again, are behind this as well, and it shows.

All right, that's all for now. I've got a lot of writin' to do this weekend, so stay tuned!

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