Monday, January 31, 2005

Time now for that weekly look into what I'll have waiting for me at the comics shop on Wednesday, courtesy the Shiamond dipping list!


And I'm pretty sure I ordered the BILL & TED'S MOST EXCELLENT ADVENTURES VOL 1 TP, but I'll have to put that one back for a while. No can afford at this time! Which brings me to my latest tentative attempt to free myself from the drive-across-town-in-5:00-traffic, no-fricking-discount comics shop. I was all set to order my March books from the Discount Comic Book Service site, had already selected all my titles, and was in the process of arranging payment when I happened upon the section which explained that I would be charged on February 14th, instead of as they shipped, which was my mistaken notion. And frankly, kids, since I will still have to shop the shop to get the titles that come out between this month's and March/April's books, I can't afford to pay for 2 months' worth of comics in one month! So...I placed an order for two trades that I had been coveting and didn't want to pay full price for: 100% (even though I have all 5 singles- it's such a great book that I want it collected, and hopefully there will be some extras to compensate for it taking so sprocking long!), and the Flight Vol. 2 compilation. So now I have an account set up at the DCBS, and if I come into some money in the near future, either from my tax refund or the payment for the magazine article I did a month or so ago (and I'm still not sure will actually see print, let alone get paid for), I'll see about taking that next step.

Stay tuned!
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSorry to read about the death of Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi last Friday from stomach cancer. As someone who lists Traffic's 1974 album When The Eagle Flies among his all-time favorites, it's sad news indeed.

Found at sweet Susan's.

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Films viewed on cable are marked with an asterisk (*). Ranked one * to five ***** stars.

If you've cared to follow the career of Neil Young in the last ten years or so, you pretty much know what you're getting, especially when he hooks up with Crazy Horse- roughly eight songs per album, two shortish acoustic ballady type things and the rest plodding 10 minute long extended jams. Young hasn't completely lost his knack for melody, so this helps keep things from becoming a total waste of time, but the man seems to be on autopilot and after a while it becomes tiresome- I didn't even pick up his 2002 effort Are You Passionate?, because I had simply grown bored with his output. 2003's Greendale, on the other hand, looked promising because it wasn't "just another Young record", but a couple of less-than-enthusiastic reviews dampened my interest. Fortunately, a friend came to my rescue and sent me a copy, and I was able to listen for myself...and my initial suspicions were sadly founded. Nearly every song clocks in at no less than 5 minutes, they all meander, and the CD sounds like essentially every other Young CD since, oh, Ragged Glory. My favorite cut was the quiet, mostly acoustic "Bandit", in which Young seems to be reflecting on his life and is kinda touching. Difference is that unlike previous efforts, Greendale is a concept album, or to be precise (and as Young is quick to let us know in the bonus features of the DVD) not so much the dreaded "C" word as a group of songs with recurring themes that tell a story of sorts. Apples, oranges. First came Greendale the CD, then Greendale the elaborate stage performance, and finally Greendale the movie...and I suppose they all compliment each other well enough...oh yeah, there's also Greendale the trade paperback, which I haven't seen yet so I really don't know how well that ties in. Anyway, "Eco-fable" Greendale is essentially the story of the Green family, who lives in a fictional Greendale, California. There's a Grandpa (boy, is there ever- Young mentions him in almost every song, constantly), a Grandma, Mom, an adopted son, another son who's an artist, a daughter who starts out as a cheerleader and becomes an eco-activist, a guy running around in a white hat, red coat and red shoes who's supposed to be the Devil, and selected other residents of the town. Adopted son Jed accidentally shoots a city policeman, which causes an uproar and brings newspeople to the Green's Ranch, where they cause Grandpa to confront them, suffer a heart attack, and die, daughter Sun (Sun Green, geddit?) starts her activism and eventually hooks up with a strapping young hunk named "Earth Brown" and heads for Alaska, with the FBI on her heels, the Devil dances around a lot, and Jed waits in prison for his fate. Directed in grainy Super-8 by Young, using his "Bernard Shakey" pseudonym that he also used for previous efforts Journey Through The Past, Rust Never Sleeps and Human Highway, it's sloppy, self-indulgent and goofy as hell- the actors, which include longtime pedal steel player Ben Keith as Grandpa, longtime Young album cover designer Gary Burden, longtime Young illustrator James Mazzeo (The Zuma album cover, among other works) as the artist Green and Young's wife Pegi as Mother Green, don't act so much as they lip-synch the words Young is singing in the soundtrack. The film's broken up into chapters which correspond with each Greendale song, which makes this a long-form music video. It does ramble, but after a while I got interested in the characters and wanted to see how it turned out. Can't say that I got any satisfaction on that count, either- at the very end we get a reprise of the very theatrical stage presentation, in which Young and the Horse perform the embarrassingly earnest album closer "Be The Rain", with the sexy young Sun lip-syncing ecological catchphrases that Young sings in the chorus, dressed in camo fatigues, as the Horse choogles along. Despite the fact that this is really a mess, like many of Young's best songs there's something just under the surface, an honesty of imagination if you will, that makes this watchable in spite of itself. I don't know if I would care to see this again anytime soon, but I'm glad I got to see it just the same.

WHOO-hoo-hoo! Y'know, there are just some films that you just have to throw your hands up and go along for the ride, and The Core is a great example of that. This movie showed such a blatant disregard for the laws of physics and science as we know them, that the website Intuitor: Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics named it the "Worst Physics Movie Ever", and added "This movie is so bad we finally had to force ourselves to quit writing and post the review." So I thought, what the heck- I'll check this out. May be good for a giggle. Well, actually, I didn't get so many laughs, but I was never bored. Even though very little of what actually happens here makes a whole lot of sense, they do everything with a sense of purpose and the actually pretty good (Hilary Swank! Delroy Lindo! Stanley friggin Tucci!) cast wisely kids the material. Reminded me a lot of those great old drive-in Sci-fi flicks of yore, which set out to entertain and nothing else. Man has bollixed upthe Earth's core, throwing the "electromagnetic field" off-kilter and causing chaos and carnage. The government recruits a group of scientists and military personnel to take a specially designed ship that can burrow through the Earth like a mole, in order to set off atomic charges at certain points around the Earth's core, theoretically correcting the planet's rotation. Whew! Like I said- dumb movie, but it was fun to watch, and not always for the wrong reasons!

Speaking of dumb movies, here's the sequel to the not-terrible 2002 video-game-inspired flick Resident Evil. You can tell from the title. Heh. Anyway, zombies are running wild, the shady super-secret Hive, acting in tandem with the government, seals off "Raccoon City" (what names...) and it's up to JB Show fave Milla Jovovich, along with a motley crew of police and special forces soldiers left stranded, to rescue a scientist's daughter and get out of town somehow- or just stay alive. Complicating matters is the fact that the Hive did some sort of enhancement surgery on Milla; now she's a superhuman ass kicking machine of destruction. Even though it's not as bad as the run-of-the-mill video game movie, it's still nowhere near as good as the first Evil flick- and that one wasn't all that good. Of course, I always like to watch Ms. Jovovich go through her paces, but your mileage may vary.

By now, I'm sure you're thinking "God, JB, don't you watch any good movies? Not bad good, but good good?" And all I can say is "Sure"...but this isn't quite it, although I will say that I had a great time watching this good-natured, often clever and inventive stoner buddy comedy. Harold is an uptight, anal Asian junior investment banker, Kumar is an east Indian med school prodigy who has absolutely no interest in becoming a doctor like his dad and brother. They share an NYC apartment, and a love for the ganja- and it's while sitting around smoking weed and dealing with the munchies that they see a commercial for White Castle hamburgers...and decide right then and there that they want some sliders more than anything in the world. So, they set out, but problem is that the nearest White Castle is miles away, in New Jersey. Lucky me, I've got a Castle only about 10 miles away. Anyway, undaunted, they set out on an veritable odyssey, vowing not to give up until they get some square burgers. Of course, frequent, often surreal hilarity ensues. See, I liked the equally dopey, but equally clever and often unfairly maligned Dude, Where's My Car?, and this is the follow-up from its director Danny Leiner, and you can tell- it has an almost identical tone, combining weird animal stunts (the pair ride a cheetah, comparable with the ostrich hijinx in Dude) with animated sequences and a lot, but not too much, low-grade fratboy humor. Probably the worst offender on that score is the "Battleshits" game which Harold and Kumar are forced to endure from two lovely Princeton students, as they hide out in the women's restroom from the campus police. Gross and disgusting, but at least it's new to me and it was funny because of that. I really enjoyed the performance of Kal Penn as Kumar; he has an easygoing, laidback goofiness, reminiscent of Owen Wilson, but he's also capable of firing off a sharp, funny line or facial reaction. Like Dude, it's no landmark in cinematic comedy, but it is a fun romp and I liked it a lot. You'll never see Neil Patrick Harris in the same light after viewing this, I'll tell you that!

Almost finished! More later, including at least one bona fide classic.
Art Appreciation Time!

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First, found from A.V., the website of David Stoupakis.

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A.V. not only has a cool name but is a pretty good artist in her own right- above is one of her e-cards you can get at her site.

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Also, poached from Warren Ellis, the turn-of-the-century-ish stylings of Molly Crabapple, aka Jennifer Caban.

Finally, the website of John Leavitt.
Ah, the Manga meme. It's sweeping the Comics Blogosphereiverse like virtual wildfire!

I'll play! Here's mine!

1. ...


1. ...

Aw heck. I can't play. Maybe that will change soon.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

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Sendin' out Bacardi Show Birthday Greetings today to the mighty mighty Fred Hembeck!

As someone who's been a fan since the long-ago Fantaco days, I'm happy to know ya, Fred. You're a nice guy and hella-clever and talented cartoonist.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

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What I bought and what I thought, week of January 26

I'm tellin' ya, comics-wise, weeks like this one- in which everything I read was good-to-great-to-phenomenal- are few and far between. Kinda makes up for the last few, which have had more than a few disappointments.

WE3 3
I wonder if there has been a slight spike in pet toys and premium food since this issue was released? Anyway, it's been a while since I was put on the edge of my seat and moved to shed a tear by a funnybook, but this one did it, no doubt about it. For once reining in his tendency towards convolution, (which is not to say that there aren't more than a few layers with which to occupy oneself, if you're thataway inclined...) Grant Morrison has certainly succeeded in his stated intent to give us "Disney with claws", crafting an engaging, unpretentious (well, OK, maybe it's a smidge pretentious, but not in a bad way) action tale. He's aided in no small measure by Frank Quitely's dynamic, elegant action scenes and his solid layouts and pacing. We even get a laugh in the midst of the tension, courtesy of the damaged bunnybot Pirate. The full-page panel which showed Tinker leaping at the WE4 is flat out thrilling in its abrupt perspective and its timing within the story. I was shocked by the death of Dr. Berry- didn't quite see that coming. I could quibble a bit, I suppose- it's not totally clear how the animals survived once they shed their armor, or for that matter how they managed to do so in the first place since the homeless guy was interrupted before he could get his tools, nor does it seem likely that they could battle as savagely in the condition they were in...but then again, that's a staple of heroic fiction, isn't it- the valiant, "let's-give-it-all-we-got" last-gasp struggle. I'm also a little fuzzy on how Bandit and Tinker ended up with the homeless dude; it looked like they were found in the basement by a soldier, judging by the boots, and I would have thought the military would shoot first and ask questions later, not give them to a good home...but these are very minor things indeed. I had listed WE3 in my best of 2004 selections, and it's already secured a spot in the 2005 list as well. I never thought Morrison and/or Quitely would top Flex Mentallo, but this is as close as he's come since in my book. I just hope and pray Hollywood doesn't get their hands on this. A real winner, and it would seem to me that only the most heartless of cynics would fail to be moved. Too bad, their loss. For a couple of excellent, far-more-in-depth-than-I-could-provide reviews, visit Jog and Ian (Twice). A+ Entire series: A+.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go feed my dog and cat their steak and fresh fish. Back shortly.

If Jock has got to take breaks, it's nice that we FINALLY get a fill-in artist that's in his league. Ben Wilson is the guy's name, and he's very Jock-esque, not only in his figure drawings but his layout style as well. This time out, we get some real-time face-time with "Max", witness a surprising death that's bound to have repercussions (I would think), witness an equally surprising romantic liaison, and embark on a promising new story arc. Best of the week, if not for WE3. A.

We follow Miss Misery around in this issue, and see that our boy Holden's not the only one who is painted into a corner. One of the many things I love about Sleeper is how just when you think Brubaker's run out of plot twists and directions for the story to go in, he throws you yet another curve from a direction you never even considered. And y'know something else? Sean Phillips is real damn good. A

Nice finale of the debut 3-issue story arc, in which Grant Morrison kicks back and knocks off a superhero story- and it's a corker with a nicely focused finish to balance out the incoherence of the first two. Morrison writes the JLA with a sense of grim purpose that's a few shades different from other writers, and in the context of this book I love the way he depicts Batman especially. I was pretty harsh on the art team of Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines, with its busy layouts and hyper-muscled figures...and while I still think they didn't help us readers very much when it came to parsing the gnarly script I will say that I really like their rendition of Batman, their Aquaman's not bad either, and they weren't nearly as much of a distraction this time out. I also hope to see more of Beryl Hutchinson somewhere down the road. A-

Warren Ellis takes the opportunity to re-think the Lone Ranger, and darned if I don't kinda like his take. I'm sure the old-school ranger fans won't approve, but really- are there any old-school Ranger fans, anyway? This story wasn't as lively as I would have liked, but it was still solid, and the standard raves about John Cassady's art in service of Ellis' scripts applies. Same as it ever was, as that Byrne fella once said. No, not that Byrne fella. A-

Seeing as how we never got a proper Gorillaz comic book, here's the next best thing, I guess. Ah, Maniaks, we hardly knew ye. The Adventures of Green Day? I dunno. The singer sure looks a lot like Billie Jo Armstrong. Anyway, this is right there in that nutty Scurvy Dogs-style groove and lots of fun, and while I wonder why the Pink Robot didn't just go get repainted, I dug it just the same. And the art, by Dan Hipp, reminded me a lot of Ted Naifeh by way of Mignola by way of Jamie Hewlett and was just fine. Isn't it about time we had a series from Jaime Hernandez featuring Ape Sex? No? Oh, all right. A-

I don't ever think I'm gonna get used to Leo Manco's art on this title; it looks just enough like his work on Hellstorm and Druid to make me wish for more. It's damned distracting, it is! His stuff simply doesn't flow as well as it used to, even though he still can provide adequate mood when called upon to do so. Story-wise, it's a continuation of the "John deals with his demonic offspring" story, and it takes an interesting turn with an unexpected ally, whose identity continues to evade me, much to my annoyance. I'm in a kind of general funk with this title; I'm not bored, and I still want to see how this all turns out, but there's a slight feeling of deja vu going on with me here and I'm just not as excited as I want to be about it. Hope that changes soon. Maybe if Carey has John hunt down Keanu Reeves in the next arc and pull some sort of hoodoo con on him... B+

In the last reboot, Dream Girl was a ditzy airhead who didn't even get to join the Legion until almost the very end; now, she's an ass-kickin' hottie who can foresee an opponent's moves way before he moves them and is right there at the forefront of the new Waid era. More Legionnaires get a showcase so we can see the new and presumably improved spins, and some are better than others- Brainiac 5 is as much of a stick as always, Karate Kid displays a bit more personality than I remember, Shadow Lass less so- plus we get a long look at Dream Girl's homeworld and while it all adds up to an extended stage-setting exercise, at least it kept my interest thanks to, as always, character interaction. I'm still not as crazy about Barry Kitson's stiff and fussy art as some are, and he falls into the trap many before him have run afoul of: the characters he draws look like grown men and women, not the late teens I understood they were supposed to be. I can live with it, though, if Waid keeps up his end of the deal. B+
M.E. Russell delivers another excellent CulturePulp feature, this time spotlighting Khris Soden and his City of Roses comic. Roses rings a distant bell; I had probably seen it mentioned on somebody else's blog sometime or another, but hadn't seen it until now. Looks really interesting!

Sorry it took me so long to get around to posting the link, M.E.!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Over at the Legion World message boards there's a fella who calls himself "Mystery Lad" who dissects each issue of The Legion as it comes out, and does so in insightful and entertaining form. Now that I seem to be back in the Legion saddle, I've been going over there to check out what he says over the last couple of weeks. You might want to as well. Here's his "Calling The Roll" for issue #2, which came out Wednesday. Here's his comments on issue #1.

Been another one of those days- busy squared. More later, hopefully...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usJOHNNY B HEART NETFLIX Part THREE!
Yep, I'm finally getting around to posting a line or three about movies I've viewed while subscribing to that online service. There will probably be a couple more, then that will be it for a while since I cancelled my subscription yesterday. I loved the availability it offers- there's no way I could have found films like Lost in La Mancha or Girl With The Pearl Earring in my local Blockbuster. But at $19 a month, I just couldn't justify continuing with it, especially since I still get cable, and before Netflix I would maybe rent one or two DVDs max a month, sometimes not even that. Maybe someday I'll renew my subscription, but it won't be anytime soon, sorry to say. Anyway, here are some flicks I've seen lately. I'm giving them one-to-five star ratings.

Whale Rider is the story of Pai, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, part of the Maori tribe in New Zealand. The Maori claim to be descended from Paikeia, the Whale Rider, and in every generation for 1000 years, a male heir born to the tribe's chief has assumed the throne. When the current chief's son gives birth to twins, one boy and one girl, the boy dies in childbirth along with his mother...leaving Pai in the care of her father (who has ambitions towards an art career and doesn't want to live in New Zealand or be chief) and grandfather, who is quite unhappy that there will be no male to take his place. While her father travels the world, Pai lives with her grandparents and strives to prove that she can be worthy of chiefdom, against the wishes of her grandfather, who loves her even though he is determined not to allow it. Whale Rider reminded me a lot of those foreign children's films they used to show on Saturday mornings all the time in the 60s and 70s; very earnest and centered on its young star, who manages to play her part with passion, yet maintains a sense of detachment which makes her come across as enigmatic. It's a bit of a "female empowerment" story, documenting her struggles to prove what we find out early on- she is indeed the rightful chief, and she can summon whales to prove well as swim like a fish and hold her own in battle with the village boys. The film effectively shows the contrast between modern-world sensibilities and old-world native superstition and ritual, and the conflicts that brings. We are never allowed to get away from the family-bonds message that is the center of the thing; despite being the nominal heavy of the film, we are still shown how the grandfather/chief likes to give Pai rides home from school on his bicycle and the inner conflict he himself feels, torn between love for his granddaughter and his concern for the continuation of his tribe and the way of life he's determined to protect. Nice performances, gorgeous scenery, and really the only negative I can cite is that the actors' accents were so thick that it was hard for me to follow conversations all through the film. Despite this, Whale Rider was a fascinating look into a culture and a locale of which I knew nothing, and an appealing drama.

I've probably mentioned before at some point that I've never really been a fan of this character; not that I have anything against killing-machine heroes, but there's just something about the Frank Castle character, in all his many incarnations since 1975, that has failed to grab me. Heck, I bought his second appearance in the 1976 B&W Marvel magazine Marvel Super Action for Chaykin's Dominic Fortune back-up. I later picked up his first appearance in Spider-Man, because I found it for a buck or two (before the character really got popular), but let it go when I sold my original collection back in 1987. I did pick up the first dozen or so Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon Marvel Knights issues, because I loved Hitman and Preacher so much, but soon grew tired of the juvenile groove that Ennis has found himself in, so I moved on. So what I'm trying to say is that I have no vested interest in seeing Punny done right; I watched the first attempt at filming his adventures, with Dolph Lundgren in the role, with a shrug even though I didn't think it was as bad as its detractors claimed. Not all that good, either. I was in no hurry to see this supposedly superior, "this-time-we're-gonna-do-it-right" version, and in fact, when I saw the early advance pics of Thomas Jane as Frank, I thought they were putting us on- he looked skinny and blonde! That's why I'm just now getting around to seeing this- I just couldn't be arsed, as Garth would say. And it's funny- my opinion of this new Punisher is about the same as it was after viewing the Lundgren's not all that great, but it's certainly no disaster. The performances are a lot better, for one thing- Jane is great, and John Travolta used his still-flickering charisma to enliven the role of the pussy-whipped mob boss that orders Frank's family killed. It was cool to see Jaws' Roy Scheider in the role of Frank's dad. The scriptwriters wisely resisted the urge to camp things up, and remained mostly faithful to the character, the Ennis/Dillon version in particular. The production values leave something to be desired- this thing looks like your basic late-night Cinemax "erotic thriller"-style time waster, and I question the need to replace the mousey Joanie character of the comics with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' hard-luck horny junkie. But at the end of the day, after all the shooting and grimness and explosions and so on, I was still shrugging my shoulders when it was over. Guess there's just no way I'm gonna get worked up over the Punisher and his world. My loss, I guess.

I had more, but my computer crashed and I lost it. Oh well, I'll try again later.
Cover gallery!

The fine folks at Burlyman Entertainment sent me some cover scans yesterday, and I thought I'd pass 'em on to you. Yeah, I know, most of you probably got them too, but just in case.

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The alternate cover to Doc Frankenstein #2. I don't buy Doc, but it still looks kewl. Same for the finished one, below:

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Finally, here's the new cover for what I gather is the second printing of DF #1, this time by Geoff Darrow.

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Domo arigato to Burlyman for sending them to me. Publishers, send me covers as often as you like, preferably with comics attached to them!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Just busy enough at work today to keep me from gearing up to write anything significant...but I just wanted to make a statement.

Just finished reading We3 #3. All I can say right now is WOW. Wow wow wow. Rest assured I'll say more later.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

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I noticed where Stan Lee's production company has reached some sort of agreement with Ringo Starr for an animated cartoon featuring Mr. Starkey with super powers. Oh, brother. But I suppose it's appropriate- Ringo has always been a bit of a cartoon anyway, hasn't he?

Anyway, here's the skinny.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBeen spending some time today checking out Girls With Slingshots, by Danielle Corsetto. You should do the same sometime!
Lots of things are cyclical, apparently- day and night, the seasons, death and taxes...and established, for-pay print writers cutting on blogs. Today's example comes courtesy of Joe Casey and Matt Fraction at CBR in their Basement Tapes column.

When will we ever learn our place? Sigh.
You'll all be happy to know that I have just made my first tentative step to become assimilated into the Mangaborg by placing an order from Amazon last night for Planetes Book 1. I have also ordered Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life Volume 1 and Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Happy birthday to me!

Monday, January 24, 2005

WE 3 #3

My haul Wednesday, according to the new Diamond shipping list.

I'm stoked for the finale of We3, am guardedly looking forward to JLA Classified, and the Amazing Joy Buzzards will hopefully be fun. Always nice to see Planetary on the list, too. If I was a rich boy, la-da-da-da-da-la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da...I'd pick up the NEIL YOUNG GREENDALE TP, which I knew nothing ab out previously. I've had the CD for a while now, just viewed the film Young made (more on that later, I hope), and wouldn't mind having this to finish the trifecta. If I liked the album, I'd really be jonesing for it...
The trickle-down theory in effect!

Artist Steve Sanders sent me a page from his upcoming Five Fists of Science with Matt Fraction, so I thought I'd pass it on to all of you. No, I have no idea what's going on here but I like that octopus suit. I couldn't post it here at 100% due to size limitations, and I don't know how to make one of those nifty "click here for a larger image" links, so I hope it's legible...!

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Well, y'see, I noticed somewhere where someone had written about Marvel's April solicitations, and since I'm a good l'il comics blogger I thought I'd do the same. I clicked on the link provided (since the site in question only skimmed the highlights, and didn't provide the whole list) to go to and read them for myself- only I couldn't find a solicitation list anywhere. Befuddled, but not too disappointed since I don't really buy that many Marvel comics anyway, I decided to click around on the site, just to see what I could see. I ended up in their wallpaper section, and while scrolling down my eye was not merely caught, but GRABBED by the wallpaper created from the above cover illustration by one Jo Chen, from Thor, Son of Asgard 8, which apparently came out back last September. I suppose this is "Amora the Enchantress" (So THAT'S what her real name is). Anyway, this is a hell of an illustration, in my opinion of course, especially the upper 3/4. The legs look a bit under-rendered, but it's still a very eye-catching cover. Not that I would buy this, but I just wanted to bring it to your attention; do with it what ye will. And click on Chen's name a line or three back to visit his/her website, lotsa nice stuff there.
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Had to work Saturday night at the radio station, engineering a high school basketball game. It's damn near impossible to monitor the sportscasters for timeouts and watch TV at the same time, as I kept finding out a couple of years ago as I attempted to catch Buffy and Firefly on Tuesdays and Fridays. So, I didn't bother turning the TV on, and had assumed that the Justice League Unlimited was yet another rerun anyway, SO...I MISSED the BRAND NEW EPISODE that aired with BAT LASH! DRAT! Or should I say "consarn it!"? Anyway, hopefully it will be rerun soon 'cos I really want to see the first animated appearance of one of my favorite DC characters. I've read a bit about the episode since, and it sounds OK if a bit contrived, as most time travel stories are, and like Tom the Dog I wonder how Chronos (why oh why wasn't he in his green-and-gold striped-pants uni, or at least why couldn't they have made him the 90's Chronos?) didn't notice that Bruce Wayne was Batman.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAfter the pilot I have some ideas for future episodes like something with President Harrison, who died from the flu one month into office, it turns out he didn't?t die from pneumonia. The fluid in his lungs was part of a genetic experiment to give him everlasting life so he could be president forever but instead it turned him into a frog creature so now he lives at the bottom of the Mississippi and launches an attack on the nation with his frogmen.?

From a recent Newsarama piece on Bryan (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls) Fuller's announced intent to make a TV movie of Mike Mignola's weird and wonderful Amazing Screw-on Head one-shot for the Sci-Fi network. I would have been interested enough, but then he had to go and name-drop William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the US, and the one prez that fascinated me when I was a weird little kid with a big book of presidential biographies. Apparently Harrison, who made his name as an Indian fighter and rode this fame to the White House in those less-than-PC days, chose to walk to his inauguration on a bitter cold March day, got sick, and died from pneumonia less than a month after taking his oath of office. I am, to this day, at a loss to explain what it was about this man that fascinated me so, but there ya go. I'm at a loss to explain a lot of what fascinates me so. Anywho, just wanted to share, and you can go here for more on the unfortunate Mr. Harrison.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

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RIP Johnny Carson, who died today at age 79. When I was growing up, the Carson Show was THE late-night show to watch.

He sits behind his microphone
John-ny Car-son
He speaks in such a manly tone
John-ny Car-son

Ed McMahon comes on and says "Here's Johhny"
Every night at eleven thirty he's so funny
It's (nice) to (have) you (on) the (show) tonight
I've seen (your) act (in) Vegas out of sight

When guests are boring he fills up the slack
John-ny Car-son
The network makes him break his back
John-ny Car-son

Ed McMahon comes on and says "Here's Johhny"
Every night at eleven thirty he's so funny
Don't (you) think (he's) such (a) natural guy
The (way) he's (kept) it (up) could make you cry

Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's the man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.

-"Johnny Carson" by Brian Wilson, on The Beach Boys Love You.
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What I bought and what I thought, week of January 19!

Like Johanna Draper Carlson says in the afterword, this 12-issue series is the culmination of Andi Watson's career so far. It's got all the themes he's dealt with in previous efforts like Breakfast After Noon and Geisha, and he blends them skillfully as always with his typically clever, distinctive art style and design sense. If Watson's art gets any more minimal, he'll be doing Matt Feazell-type stick figures! Anyway, Love Fights succeeds as a romantic comedy/drama as well as superhero pastiche or even superhero satire, story types I usually just don't go for as a rule. He even gives us an fanciful and open-ended resolution, but it rings true to life and is free of contrivance, so it satisfies immensely. Another outstanding example of what can be done with the medium; I don't know whether it will become a landmark in comics history or anything, but it is an extremely solid work from a consistently innovative and accomplished creator, and these days who could ask for more? A+

Bendis is propelling Walker and Pilgrim from one situation to the next at rapid speed; no sooner than we got a resolution of sorts to the kidnapping and torture of Deena than we get right in to the murder of the covert hero Blackguard, or someone masquerading as him anyway, and the disappearance of the power gem which gave him his abilities. Those of us who have been reading for a while have invested enough emotionally into these characters where we understand and care about what goes on; others who are newer may feel differently. As always, be it nifty message-board satire or intense, dark and angularly expressionistic action scenes, Mike Avon Oeming turns in another outstanding art job. A

John Watkiss's art, with its sloppy inks and constant flat-plane three-quarters perspective, is as ugly as a dog's hindquarters, but he does a good job of telling a story and that's what gets this Blade Runner-by-way-of-Franz Kafka future fantasy by. It's fairly obvious what's happening to our protagonist, and you can make an educated guess as to where this is all going, but writer Jason Hall and Watkiss are pacing it nicely, so I'm engaged, for now. A-

With publications like his Making of Astronauts in Trouble, Proof of Concept, and now this, Larry Young seems to be taking a keen interest in playing Toto to our Oz company and pulling back the curtain to reveal the Wizard pushing buttons and turning wheels...and the looks we're getting are very interesting. Just like the title says, this is each of Brian Wood's original scripts for the recently concluded limited series, and to be honest I didn't spend a lot of time re-reading them since I know how they turn out but it is interesting, though, to read his scene and character descriptions and then go refer to how artist Becky Cloonan interpreted them. And speaking of Cloonan, she contributes new single illustrations for each individual script, and they're wonderful, almost worth the price of admission themselves. A-

We get a fill-in artist this time out, name of Ronald Wimberly, and while his stuff is still kinda rough and unpolished, I liked it- reminds me a bit of people like Kaluta, Wrightson or Jeffrey Jones when they were just getting started. He does a nice job on the interludes which depict the events on the world which Elaine Belloc created for "practice", they look at first like Native American art, then resemble, oh, Byzantine or somesuch...but they're all imaginative. Good thing, too, Writer Mike Carey is advancing this storyline along at a snail's pace. B+

Actually, as an actual story this isn't all that bad- in this issue, we get more emphasis on the mystery of what's in the basement at the BPRD's new Colorado digs and a bigger spotlight on Johann, the ghost in the containment suit, who I kinda like, and less of the new Captain Scarface Zombie guy, who curiously doesn't get listed in with the gang on the inside front cover. It's just presented in such a straightforward, bland way that it just doesn't grab me where I like to be grabbed, and while I realize that Mignola himself is often deadpan script-and-dialogue wise, this is different, and I really can't explain why. I know John Arcudi can do better (or at least did with Major Bummer, a long time ago now), and the lettercol goes out of its way to describe how tight he is with Hellboy's creator...but he's gotta shoulder the blame for this being such a flat read. No blame to artist Guy Davis, though, who gives the proceedings what life it has, especially the scene towards the end where Johann gets the computers going down below and unleashes a gang of ghosts. Not a disaster, but not a real success yet either. I'm holding out hope for a satisfying ending, which is is short supply around comics these days. B+

God, Bendis, will you get on with it? I liked the business with the new White Tiger, but I'm really wishing that he would wrap up this thing with the hopped-up former Kingpin Bont, the Gladiator, and DD in chains because it seems like it's been going on for about 25 issues now. Of course, it's well-drawn as always, but my patience is wearing thin. B

Revised. After having thought the matter over and having re-read a few issues, including this one, I've decided that I was a bit too harsh on this. And since this is a blog and not a print review, I can exercise my freedom of choice and rethink my position a bit. I'm still not completely happy with this whole series; Millar shouldn't be so eager to bite the hand which feeds him, and as someone who has a life, thank you, I nether want nor appreciate yet another "get a life" message from someone whose makes his living writing the very same object of scorn that he chastises his readers for embracing. But after all is said and done, Millar ended this with the same tone that he bagan it, and except for the Killer, kept his characterizations pretty consistent throughout- and the ending would have certainly been more of a copout if Wesley had repented his evil mission accomplished, I suppose. And of course, there's one opinion I haven't rethought: J.G. Jones's art is as always a joy to behold. This issue: C+. Entire series: B-.

Despite the fact that I did get a laugh out of the last page and Kyle Baker at least remembered this time to put a ink line around his figures so we could distinguish them from the cut-and-pasted pastel backgrounds, this was tiresome. If I wanted to watch Tom and Jerry cartoons, they're airing the real thing every day on Cartoon Network's Boomerang channel for free, or at least as part of my cable package and I don't need to drop three bucks a pop on them. While his Plas take was fun at first, apparently Baker has no ideas left and is wasting his time as well as ours. C-

Saturday, January 22, 2005


As always, the standard disclaimer:

These picks are FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. I'm not betting illegally with these, and NEITHER SHOULD YOU...and I take no responsibility if you lose your house.

Okay. Last weekend was difficult to pick, but I managed to go 3-1, which got me back to .500 at 4-4 on the postseason. If not for Indy totally crashing and burning, thanks to a remarkable boneheaded defensive strategy, I would have been 4-0. Problem is, this weekend is even tougher than last! I can easily see any of the four remaining teams advancing to Jacksonville. I've been listening to the "experts" on ESPN, and have deliberated all weekend, and I'm no closer now to having a good feel for my picks than I was on Monday. After a while, ya just gotta say the hell with it and make your picks...and here's mine.

ATLANTA over Philadelphia. I picked the Eagles to go to the Super Bowl (along with Indy, ha ha) when the season started, but I just gotta go with my guys. I can name you a dozen reasons why the Falcons should lose this game, but I think they match up well with Philadelphia, and if the weather lets them establish enough of a ground game to set up the pass, they have a chance. Plus, this team has a similar vibe to the one that went into Lambeau Field and upset the Packers two years ago to me, so I'm taking the A-T-L. There will be standing room only on the bridges around Philadelphia on Monday. That being said, I will not be a bit surprised if the Falcons bog down in the predicted blizzard and the Eagles massage the battered ego of all Philadephians. It should be a low scoring game, I think, so you might want to take the Falcons and the points regardless.

PITTSBURGH over New England. Boy, New England looked real good against the Colts, didn't they? Of course, Indy helped by constantly playing passing defense against the Patsies, allowing Corey Dillon to run wild, and control the clock. That won't happen against the Steelers. The Steelers should pound, pound, pound the ball with Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley, and hopefully get a turnover or two on defense...and return to the Super Bowl, setting up a matchup of two teams who didn't appear on Monday Night Football this year. That being said, Belichick should never be underestimated, especially when dealing with a rookie quarterback.

Friday, January 21, 2005

This is going to be one of those long rambling posts which, I've found, that people usually read about half of then move on, missing something important or interesting (unlikely, I know, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut...) that appears about 3/4 of the way in. So pay attention, whydoncha? Here's my State of My Union address.

No time to write anything all day today, so sumimasen, everybody. Like I'm sure you were concerned. Anyways, I've been keeping my eyes and ears immersed in something for quite some time now! Of course, there was my usual Wednesday haul, along with the second Love Fights trade and AiT/PlanetLar's Demo Scriptbook, all of which shall be reviewed in due time. I'm sorry to report that I didn't get to finish Cryptonomicon; I had to return it to the library and I just wasn't getting enough quality serious reading time. I intend to pick up a paperback copy someday. I've also been reading the two Fantagraphics Peanuts collections I got for Christmas, and have been digging the hell out of them. I had forgotten how edgy and clever Schulz's work was back then, and how deft and tight his ink line was as well...decades of moribund, by-the-numbers 70's, 80's and 90's strips will do that to ya, I guess. And no, thank you, I wasn't around to read them back in 1952. I also recently completed Bryan Lee O'Malley's Lost at Sea; commentary will be forthcoming.

Musically, I got David Bowie's most recent release, Reality, and I gotta say that it's amazing. And wonderful. And wonderfully amazing. I thought 2002's Heathen was his best in over 20 years, and this one's every bit as good. I've also been listening a lot lately to Roger Glover's Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast, the CD of which I purchased for Mrs. Bacardi for Xmas. There are two instrumentals on that album that tend to get stuck in my head: the string-heavy "Dreams of Sir Bedivere" and the lovely "The Feast", a piano interlude before the big grande finale of the Dio-sung "Love Is All". It's a great little album, full of imagination and whimsy. I've written about it before, but I forget when. I've also had the Pentangle's Bert Jansch-sung version of the old traditional ballad "The Snows" in constant rotation in my cerebral iPod, as well as Bowie's "Everyone Says Hi" from Heathen and Slade's "Miles Out To Sea" from their Clap Your Feet, Stomp Your Hands elpee. And for some reason, I never get tired of listening to the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin, which is beginning to creep up on my Top 25 list that I've been threatening to lay on you, my wonderful readers, for nigh two years now.

On TV, it's been Carnivale, Alias, and I tried to get interested in the new ESPN series Tilt, which features JB Show fave Michael Madsen, but just haven't been able to get into it. And movies- holy crap. I'm way overdue for a Johnny B Heart Netflix post. Recently I've seen Neil Young's Greendale, as well as Shrek 2, Gangster No.1 with Michael McDowell, Whale Rider, The Punisher, The Seventh Seal, The Core, and Resident Evil: Apocalypse, to name but a few. What? It has Milla Jovovich, OK? Gimme a break.

Personally, I'm still stuck at the ULPJ; however, I did get a small raise over the holidays. At this rate, in about eight years, I'll be back to where I was two years ago, wage-wise. No prospects for anything better on the horizon, either. I know, I know, "Thou Shalt Not Whine", that's a commandment, right? I did recently get the opportunity to write a freelance piece for a magazine which many of you are, I'm sure, familiar with...but after one round of rewrites, I submitted my work and have heard nothing since. I did see where the publication has been solicited for March, so all I can hope is that my rewrite was sufficient and my byline will be intact. Of course, there's always the possibility that they couldn't use what I did, had someone rewrite it, and I will have toiled for naught. I'm supposed to be paid upon publication; we will see what we will see. When I'm sure it will appear, I'll go into details- I don't want to get caught out. I did some interesting interviews with some interesting people in the course of doing the article, and I hope I get the chance to share. In other personal news, my son got a new car a while back, which has a CD player already installed, so the one he had in his previous vehicle is now mine, and I'm gonna get it put in tomorrow morning. I've been without a CD player in my Blazer for far too long now. Heck, it's where I get to do the majority of my music listening! I just hope the darn thing still works...

I got some cash for my birthday last week, and I've been giving a lot of thought to sampling some manga lately (gasp!), along with finally getting a copy of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life. I've been eyeballing Planetes. Thoughts/comments/recommendations, anybody?

In norts spews, my Falcons prepare to go play in the Philadelphia snow on Sunday. My god, if they win, and they certainly have a shot, they'll be in the SUPER BOWL! Twice in my lifetime! Never thought I'd ever see the day. Anyway, my Fearless Predictions will be along tomorrow. I haven't posted too much about other sports I follow lately; it's just beginning to get interesting in college basketball, and fortunately the two teams I follow, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, are off to good starts. Pitchers and catchers report pretty soon, as well, so I'm kinda looking forward to that even though my White Sox will most likely stink. No hockey, so my fledgling love for the Calgary Flames has gone unrequited. Oh well.

OK, that's about all I can think of. Oyasumi nasai, y'all. More tomorrow, hopefully.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Via Tegan via Elayne, The website of artist Alan Davis.

Davis is a hell of an artist, with his Neal Adams-meets-Jim Aparo style, and while I absolutely hated his Killraven revival of a year or two ago, which he scripted as well as drew, I still like to see his illustrations wherever they may appear.
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Over at the Andy Diggle Delphi Forum, Diggle has posted Jock's covers for The Losers #'s 20-24, two of which are above and one of which I posted yesterday. These two above rock my world.

Found via Chris Arrant.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSince all the cool kids are doing it, here's my look at DC's solicits for April!

Batman titles are listed first, so Batman titles it will be! Unfortunately, despite the presence of many fine artists like Sean Phillips, Jae Lee, Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen and Jeff Parker, I doubt I'll be picking any of them up.

Well, except for GOTHAM CENTRAL 30, which, God help us, may have finally jumped the shark if the description is any indicator: "Allen and Montoya have traveled to Keystone City to save Officer Andrew Kelly, who's been transformed into a terrible monster." Jesus wept.

I am amused to note one of the most creative, or is it desperate, spins on a creator's decision to bail on a book I've even seen: BATMAN: JEKYLL & HYDE #1, another (yawn) Two-Face story that was slated to be drawn by Lee but apparently he bailed and went back to Marvel or something, so they get Phillips to finish it up, then claim "Expressing the dual nature of the villain, the miniseries will feature visuals by two distinct artists: Jae Lee illustrates issues #1-3, while Sean Phillips draws issues #4-6". Ohhhh-kay.

Batman is probably my favorite DC character, but none of this is tempting enough for me to buy. C'est la vie.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMoving on to the Superman line, which you probably know by now that I don't buy anything from either, I still will admit to being impressed by the cover for SUPERMAN/BATMAN 20, by the very same art team that I have bitched long and hard about while they've been illustrating the first JLA: Classified story arc. I am consistently consistent in my inconsistency.

Moving right along, we come to the DC Universe titles proper.

ADAM STRANGE #8 signals the end to that not-bad limited series...but wait! There are those dreaded words: "Get ready for the opening salvos of the Rann/Thanagar War, which continues in a major miniseries later in 2005." Great. What we've been following is an eight-issue prologue.

DAY OF VENGEANCE #1 is another attempt to get people interested again in DC's vast stable of supernatural characters; I still remember another big company-wide event of a few years ago called Day of Judgement. Oh well, I for one like DC's magic-based heroes, and that sure looks like the Jim Corrigan Spectre, so I'm interested in this. The cover's kinda dull though- what has happened to Walt Simonson? When I first saw this I thought it was Jim Aparo...

BLOOD OF THE DEMON #2 has an interesting-looking cover. By John Byrne. There, I said it. Will Pfiefer's co-writing this, so it probably doesn't suck, but I don't know. Can't buy everything.

We already get the inevitable DC superhero guest spots in BREACH #4, as Superman, Batman, and Martian Manhunter walk on. I don't intend to keep buying this, despite the fact that I like the artists. I'll catch 'em on the rebound.

I suppose this applies more to the inevitable collection, but when I see the listing of the "Final Printings" of IDENTITY CRISIS, I feel like I should quote Dorothy Parker: "This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force."

Great cover to JLA CLASSIFIED #6, part 3 of "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League!", with Booster and Beetle serving burgers in Hell. I'm sure many of us can relate.

THE OMAC PROJECT #1, despite its pedigree as a spinoff of Identity Crisis and DC Countdown (which is unfortunately condemned, perhaps unfairly, by me due to association), looks intriguing. I read Kirby's creepy/cool OMAC series back in the day, y'know.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usJB Show favorite Howard Victor Chaykin gets the spotlight in this month's SOLO #4 , and it's reet petite, daddy-o! Love that cover.

I suppose the biggest buzz is for Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers event, and we get two more miniseries (Here's where I emit a Kif-like groan) this month. Fortunately, they look pretty good, especially SEVEN SOLDIERS: ZATANNA #1, with nice looking art by Ryan Sook and Mick Gray. There's a preview if you go over to DC's website. The only thing that raises a red flag for me is that Grant has Zee in rehab, apparently. What th-? Also coming out this month: SEVEN SOLDIERS: KLARION THE WITCH BOY #1, which gives us Jack Kirby's nasty little boy witch in a more modern light. In other words, he's wearing a lot of mascara around his eyes. I'm not so crazy about the pseudo-Corben art of Frazer Irving, which you can see here. Still, in for a penny, in for a pound, and I've always kinda liked the character.

In the WildStorm section, Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHoward Chaykin's really been stepping up the output lately, and he's back on art and script for a new 6-issue series called CITY OF TOMORROW. Sounds like a bit of a cross between American:Flagg! and Transmetropolitan, but I think it will be better than that.

OCEAN finishes up with #6, and RAZOR'S EDGE: REDBIRD and SLEEPER SEASON TWO continue. I haven't read a single issue of Redbird, but I'm really looking forward to the Brubaker/Jason Pearson teaming.

Down Vertigo way, skin is in- the first three covers shown, for 100 BULLETS 60 the BITE CLUB trade, and BOOKS OF MAGIC: LIFE DURING WARTIME 10 all feature females in various stages of undress. The poor young lady on the Books cover looks rather bruised, which doesn't exactly provoke my curiosity.

Image Hosted by LOSERS 23 begins another new story arc by Andy Diggle and Jock. Let's hope it's not the last one. And look at that cover- more skin!

MNEMOVORE is an intriguing- if hard-to-pronounce- title, written by someone I'm not familiar with but drawn by Deep Sleeper's Phil Huddleston. Again, I can't buy everything, but that's a cool title.

VERTIGO: FIRST TASTE TP is a hell of a good idea, especially the price, but as someone who's been reading much of the imprint's output since day one there are no surprises for me. I wish they'd somehow managed to have a wider range of titles represented without having to fall back on ages-ago work like Death: The High Cost of Living; The Losers, definitely, Lucifer, perhaps, or even My Faith In Frankie. Oh well.

And that's it! Not the most exciting of months, but not a disaster either.
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Everybody in the Comics Blogosphereiverse is doing what all good Comics Blogosphereiversers do- going through the recently posted DC Comics solicits for April. So, maverick that I am, I'm gonna go through Image's! Then I'll go through DC's.

First thing that caught my eye was the latest from Courtney Crumrin's Ted Naifeh, DEATH JR.. Looks like he's channeling his inner Mignola on the cover illo, which I've helpfully posted above for your perusal. Written by someone named Gary Whitta, it's the story of the son of the Grim Reaper, who must get teased a lot at school since his pop got "melvined" by Bill and Ted. Anyway, looks like fun and Naifeh art is always worth the price of admission. I need to scare up, no pun intended, a copy of How Loathsome one of these days.

Nominee for the 2005 Bite Club award for corniest title pun goes to Mike Baron's new NIGHT CLUB. Actually, the synopsis sounds kinda interesting, but I can't buy everything, y'know.

ZOMBIE KING #O is by Frank Cho, done apparently in between redrawing Shanna. It will be well-drawn, I'm sure, but other than that all bets are off.

THE ART OF GREG HORN is a $25 trade collection of art by the modern-day Boris Vallejo. Horn's cover work for Marvel has, for the most part, struck me as stiff, boring, overrendered and about as sexy as Britney's discarded silicone bags. Still, for those who like, here's some more.

Under the "Image Central" banner, as opposed to the "Image Left" or "Image Right" or even "Image Catty-corner" banner, we find

THE ATHEIST #2, which is by Phil Hester and my old buddy from Hitman, John McCrea. I think I signed up for this last month; it sounds interesting.

After initially being prepared to ignore it completely, suddenly I'm in the mood to check out BATTLE HYMN, issue #5 of which is coming out in April. Don't know why, exactly, the Roy Thomasisms in the synopsis kinda make me wince. Sometimes the hunch area of my brain works in mysterious ways. Guess I'll check out a copy of #1 when it comes out, if it hasn't already and I missed it. Maybe it's because it's written by B. Clay Moore, and I love Hawaiian Dick so much (and I don't even know anyone from the 50th state, so get your mind out of the gutter) that I'm willing to take a flyer on whatever he does.

THE EXPATRIATE #3 is another Clay Moore joint, but it looks a lot more interesting than Battle Hymn. The synopses so far make it sound like a 24-ish exercise, lots of shooting and running and skullduggery and guys in suit coats and sunglasses.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWoo-hoo! New JACK STAFF (#9)! Always cause for rejoicing on Bacardiworld. I'm really beginning to wish that Paul Grist would kinda move away from the whole WWII Freedom Fighters thing, which he's been preoccupied with since the very beginning. Happy to see that Tom Tom the Robot Man is gonna play a big part in this issue.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLook! They're publishing a comic about the adventures of the MORA family, the pater of which coached the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts (lifetime playoff record: 0-6) and is best known for funny press conferences in which he loses his temper (and says stuff like "diddley-poo"), and the son of which is the rookie head coach of my beloved Atlanta Falcons, and...huh? What? It's not? Oh, diddley-poo.

On that note, this concludes my trip through Image's April solicits. There will now be a short intermission before the main feature, DC's April list.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A few comics-news items, while I have a lull in the old workflow:

Via Newsarama, Steve Rude's Nexus will soon be collected! For some weird reason, I passed on Nexus back in the 80s, despite admiring Rude's art, and while I've picked up the odd one-shot or mini since the original run stopped, I've never bothered to try to get anything remotely resembling a set. I might just have to sell some blood or something and get these collections.

Dynamic Forces, a retailer whose expensive wares I never partake of, has a contest on their site in which you can win a signed piece of Jae Lee art. I like Jae Lee art, so I entered. As far as I can tell, they're not charging anything, so what da fug. Contest ends Friday.

I found that on today's Lying in the Gutters, which also is sporting the pre-Marvel cleanup, uncensored Frank Cho pages for the upcoming Shanna the She Devil mini. Good stuff, and I'm strongly considering getting this.

Also via Newsarama: Free Comic Book Day is May 7, and they provide some cover samples. I see Owly, and a Flight primer among those shown.

Here and there around the Blogosphereiverse:

Dr. Scott at Polite Dissent is getting in on the Comics Blogosphere online contest mania, he's giving away a copy of a book with which I am totally unfamilar: Nikolai Dante: The Romanov Dynasty. I totally missed this retro/futuristic GN when it came out, but since I have an abiding interest in the turn-of-the-century Russia and all things turn-of-the-century Russian like art, social structure, literature, the whole Czar Nicholas/Rasputin/Anastasia thing, along with the Russian Constructivism art curiosity is piqued.

Bill Sherman is bullet pointing, and mentions one of my all-time favorite movies: The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Chris Butcher, who shows a Johanna Draper-Carlson-like predilection not to link to me, also goes over the upcoming Free Comic Book Day selections, with interesting commentary.

Tom the Dog recaps the Golden Globes in not one but two separate posts. Yours truly watched the Globes for a while, until Carnivale came on, then flipped back over to watch the end. The highlights for me were Ian McShane winning Best Actor, TV Series - Drama, for his role as Al Swearengen in Deadwood. I was hoping he'd say something like "It's about time you f*cking c*cks*ckers gave me an award", but alas I was disappointed, and Jamie Foxx's alternately touching and funny acceptance speech. Oh yeah, and the Shat won a Globe too! Brilliant!

Oh well, they've just dropped more ads in my lap, so I guess I'd better wind this up. More later, maybe.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Image Hosted by"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see."

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity."

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I meant to post something like this earlier today, but almost forgot until reminded by Tegan's really nice tribute over at her place. In honor of the Reverend Doctor, with thanks to Laura G.
Boy, I've been prolific today, haven't I? Anyway, as is my wont this time every week, and just in case you care, here's what I can expect to get Wednesday, funnybook-wise, brought to you by the new Diamond shipping list:


And, possibly,


And that, as the Pig says, is all, folks!
Kind of a slow day here at the Snooze, so I've been passing the time laughing my ass off at Progressive Boink's "Rating the Lesbians" archive, in which the writers take lesbian kiss scenes from movies and TV and go all MST3K on them. Fricking hilarious. You should go check it out, the comments are priceless.
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Speculative fiction based on the famous Vermeer painting, starring the current Hollywood "It" girl, Scarlett Johansson, who bears a spooky resemblance to the young lady in the actual painting itself. Colin Firth is Vermeer, who is shown to be only interested in his art, but whose no-nonsense, all-business mother-in-law peddles his talents to his patron, a man named Van Ruijven, whose money is needed for the family to survive. Johansson plays Griet, a young girl who comes to work as a servant in the Vermeer household and soon becomes an inspiration and helper to the painter, and a source of irritation for his jealous and possessive wife. This is a bit slow-moving sometimes, but I suppose the fascination I have with films about painters (Pollack, Frida) overrules all because I liked this one a lot. The sets and period detail were first-rate, director Peter Webber does an excellent job of crafting this like a painting itself, with moody, contrasty lighting and rich, bold color when needed, and the performances were all excellent, with Judy Parfitt as the Mom-in-law and Johansson standing out. I loved the scenes in which Webber recreates some of Vanmeer's paintings with real-life actors, Griet helps Vanmeer mix his paints, and the realistic depictions of the bustling kitchen. Someday someone is going to make a movie about painters and paintings that doesn't make me want to dig my brushes out again, but this ain't that.

The second of the P.T. Anderson films I viewed back-to-back, Punch-Drunk Love is most notable for the understated, but deceptively good, performance of Adam Sandler as Barry Egan, a shy, awkward man with anger management issues who works in a designer toilet-plunger warehouse. Complicating things is his ongoing battle with phone sex scammers (he called a 1-900 line one evening, just to talk more than anything) and a compulsion to take advantage of Healthy Choice soup's frequent flyer minutes promotional gimmick. When one of his sisters introduces him to Lena, played by Emily Watson, his life begins to change for the better- if he could just get rid of the phone-sex goons. As quirky romantic comedies go, this one's pretty good- never going for the obvious laugh when one can be sneaked in sideways. The soundtrack also features Harry Nilsson's "He Needs Me", from the out-of-print Popeye soundtrack, which is the only place to find this song.

Last year's Clint Eastwood Oscar shoo-in finally aired on HBO, so I sat and watched it. It simply screamed SIGNIFICANT DRAMA through and through, and perhaps it's just my contrary nature but I was kinda underwhelmed by it all. You probably know the story but I'll recap it for ya anyway: Childhood pals Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins grow up scarred by the abduction and abuse of Robbins' Dave; Penn becomes a Sopranos-type local mob boss who has served time, Bacon becomes a police detective, and Robbins somehow manages to get married and father a son, but is unemployed and broke. Things come to a head when Penn's daughter is found murdered in the park and all signs point to Robbins as the killer. The performances were uneven; Sean Penn overacted when he wasn't underacting and just couldn't seem to find a middle ground, Tim Robbins was good but he kept making me think of Dustin Hoffman's Rain Man; Laurence Fishburne was so low-key he barely registered, and out of all the leads I'd say that Kevin Bacon, of all people, was best because he wasn't trying so hard and came across as the most natural. Even Marcia Gay Harden, who's usually always money, was shaky and overwrought playing Robbins', well, shaky and overwrought wife. This was kinda set up as a murder mystery, and we see Bacon & Fishburne going through the motions of solving the case, but the solution just sorta happens and there's no suspense. Yeah, I know- the real suspense was supposed to be in the events between Penn and Robbins and all that childhood buddies stuff, and while I appreciated the Shakespearean-tragedy-type twist at the end you never really get the feeling that Robbins' Dave character was any sort of a match for Penn's thugs, or any indication that Penn even liked Dave all that much, so there's no resonance. Mystic River was involving enough, but I don't really have any big desire to see it again anytime soon.

Out in theatres on Sept. 12, 2003, and straight to video two months later, this Bob Rafelson-directed wannabe noir squanders two great leads, Samuel L. Jackson and JB Show favorite Milla Jovovich with a dull and improbable bank-heist story with a high "Oh, come on" quotient. Still, if you ...admire... Milla as much as I do, she looks great and even has a shower scene. Samuel L. plays a police detective who is an amateur cellist. He's preparing to leave for a fantasy cellist camp (with Yo-Yo Ma as a teacher) when he's asked by a friend to search for her missing daughter. He reluctantly agrees, and sets out with the missing girls picture in hand to canvas the neighborhood in which she was last seen. One slight problem- one of the houses in the neighborhood is serving as the command center for the heist gang. They overpower Jackson, worried that he might be on to them, and leave him tied to a chair in the house with Milla watching over him as they go to knock off the bank. Jackson gives his standard exasperated tough-guy role, and someone named Stellan Skarsgard makes an impression as the prissy leader of the heist gang with some of the worst dialogue I've ever heard for this type of film. Worth watching once if you see it on cable, I suppose, but I wouldn't go out of my way if I were you.

More later...stay tuned for JOHNNY B HEART NETFLIX part THREE!

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Words fail me. As usual.
I've been trying to keep my quotes above updated on a semi-regular basis; today I posted one from the late Susan Sontag, who I read about a lot on other blogs, especially Teresa's In Sequence. Why Sontag? We share(d) a birthday, which was yesterday.
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That Alan David Doane; he sure loves him some Street Angel! In fact, he's gots so much mad love for Jesse Sanchez's exploits that he's got a sweet little contest type thing going on, and you, yes you, should enter. All you gotta do is click on the image above and you will get all the need-to-know.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

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What I bought and what I thought, week of January 12!

100 BULLETS 57
Satisfying conclusion to the excellent "Wylie Runs The Voodoo Down" arc, in which we find out what Mr. Tymes was so pissed-off about, and why he had Agent Sheppard tied to a chair for the last five issues. All the plot threads are tied up very nicely, we get a revealing look at what it takes to be a Minuteman, which I'm sure will be a factor down the road, and while I admit that little of this will make sense to new readers, at least one thing is always constant: the amazing art of Eduardo Risso, who just doesn't get enough attention for how good it is. A

Well, Giant-Man and the Hulk used to share a comic, y'know, back in the dim and distant days of a Marvel that today's "House of Ideas" bears absolutely no resemblance to, so I guess it's fitting that this Ultimate Hank Pym and Bruce Banner should strike up a fatalistic friendship. Again, Millar doesn't seem to have a fresh or original idea in his head (how many times have we had a "trial of the Hulk" in the last 40 years?), but he writes dramatics and snappy dialogue so well that it doesn't matter one bit. Another highlight this time out was the Captain America/Thor confrontation in the disco, and what I assume is our first look at Ultimate Captain Britain, in a cool undersea showcase for Iron Man with some funny dialogue from Jarvis. I'm firmly convinced that none of this would have half the gravity it does if not for Bryan Hitch's solid, realistic art- he subtly enhances the goings-on and makes Millar's scripts twice as good as they really are. A

We've been inching along, apparently in-between arcs, for several issues now, and this is more of the same: somewhat under-the-radar mystery is solved (and the resolution is kinda sad, in a way), other old plot threads are tied up and new ones begun, more Willingham cleverness as he once more twists his source material around, and then we find out that a "new story begins" next issue. Huh? This has been a story? Oh well, at least it's been an interesting, if ill-defined one. As always, I'm still not wild about the Buckingham/Leialoha art, but Buckingham does sneak in one clever idea: he draws one of Snow White's kids to look like Eddie Munster. A-

This umpteenth reworking of the venerable 30th century super-kid team is fine as far as it goes; Waid doesn't neglect what makes the LSH readable in the first place- character interaction. Not fight scenes, or sci-fi trappings, but plain ol' dialogue between the principals. I must confess to not really getting the power structure he's set up here- why is the United Planets (bear with me here, if you're unfamiliar with the Legion) at odds with the Science Police, and why do they covertly support the apparently renegade (the SP doesn't like 'em, anyway) Legion? I suppose all will be revealed eventually, but not understanding the new 30th C pecking order was a major annoyance. The art this time is by Barry Kitson, whose work isn't terrible, (especially the pencil sketches I've seen of his character designs, which are 100% looser and more dynamic than his finished art) but whose style is (in my eyes, anyway) stiff, bland and unexciting, very late-70s/early 80s in its approach. I'm surprised he's not drawing Vertigo books. OK, OK, once more I'm intrigued with this new Legion, and I guess I'll hang around for a while to see what happens. But as long as Kitson's on art, I can't ever see me giving this any higher than a B+.

As a showcase for Josie Mac, this works just fine. Even though she's allowed to be disagreeable and smart-assed, she comes across as likeable and I hope they can develop her character further. As a goodbye to the Catwoman character and the cast he created from Ed Brubaker, it's somewhat less successful, since we really don't get much of a showcase for either her or Slam Bradley. As an action-thriller, not too hot. As a showcase for the art of Jason Alexander, it's a failure- his awkward, splotchy art distracts the reader rather than compliments the story. And maybe he should have looked at a couple of Darwyn Cooke or Cam Stewart issues before trying to draw Bradley. C+

Gary Phillips just doesn't seem to know what he's trying to give us- is it a mystery, or just a straight-ahead crime thriller, or some sort of social satire, or all/none of the above? His dialogue is still clunky, his characters so ill-defined that you can't tell them apart without a scorecard, and there's precious little crime, or thrills, or mystery for that matter. All we can do is patiently follow along as the principal character, PI Hollis, and the mysterious badass babe ploddingly hunt down the NBA player who has been involved in some sort of nasty business in El Lay. We don't get enough pieces of the puzzle for this to be a functional mystery, and we precious little insight into any of them, so we don't really care about any of these people. Maybe I'm missing something here, but so far this is a damn poor excuse for a story and a waste of Shawn Martinbrough's estimable illustrative talent. C-

MIA: Love Fights Vol. 2 TPB. It didn't ship to my shop. Ship-shop! Hee. Anyway, hopefully it will come in soon.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

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Another stellar James Jean cover for a book I'll never buy, Marvel's Amazing Fantasy #7. This is the redesigned Scorpion.

You can get the skinny, the straight dope, the 4-1-1 about all this from Newsarama. Not to veer into Fanboy Rampage!! territory, but the reaction of many of the posters is puzzling, to me, anyway. This is a hell of a nice illustration- who cares about the old established Scorpion character or all that twaddle?
Found at Comics Reporter, a ten minute teaser for the Will Eisner documentary. I can't wait to see this.
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Boy, did I stink on ice last weekend. Between Seattle's butterfingered receivers (why, oh why didn't they go to Jerry Rice more?), Brett Favre's troubling inclination to go berserk when faced with adversity, and the incredibly asinine, knuckleheaded, fuckwitted (and about a dozen other adjectives) playcalling of Marty (there is NO "WIN" in Marty) Schottenheimer and his coaching staff, I went a putrid 1-3. Feh. Bad thing is, I don't know if I can do any better this weekend either, because I felt last week's game were easier to call than this week's games! But I started this, and I'm gonna see it through- so here goes.

First, the usual disclaimer, more relevant now than ever.

These picks are FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. I'm not betting illegally with these, and NEITHER SHOULD YOU...and I take no responsibility if you lose your house.

PITTSBURGH over The New York Jets. The Jets were damn lucky, despite Schottenheimer's best efforts to the contrary, to escape SD with a victory. They've overacheived to get this far, and I believe it stops here.

ATLANTA over St. Louis. As always with my Falcons, for them to win it comes down to this: the defense has to make stops and be solid. No 87-yard pass plays to Torry Holt thanks to busted coverages. And they need to be able to control the clock on the ground, with Dunn, Duckett and Vick. And Vick needs to be able to complete a decent amount of passes to keep them from going three-and-out. The Rams have been a lot better the last month or so, and they looked scarily efficient against the Seahawks last weekend, but I'm gonna go with my boys. If Vick's got any magic left, hopefully he can use some of it today.

PHILADELPHIA over Minnesota. Even though the Vikings have been better lately as well, I think the Eagles have enough, despite their long layoff, to win a close one. If you're betting, you might want to put a little on the Vikes to cover the spread.

INDIANAPOLIS over New England. The game of the week, although all of them promise to be good ones. I picked the Colts to go all the way at the beginning of the season, and Manning and Co. just seem to be in an unreal groove right now, which I think will still be effective against a depleted Patriots defense. They won't blow the Pats out, and it may come down to a figgie from big-mouth kicker Mike Vanderjagt, but I think the Colts will finally get over this hurdle.
Sure, I can do PR here at the Show!

Sir Larry Young sent me an email with a link to this Pulse story, which details how well AiT/Planetlar and Robert Kirkman have done via online retailer, and says:

"A privately-owned online retailer KICKS ASS distributing our books, so much so that the BEST-SELLING trade paperback of 2004 for him is CHANNEL ZERO, which is seven years old.

Is there any greater proof that the North American comic book audience is split into monthlies, and trade paperbacks?"

Kudos to Mr. Young (and Mr. Brian Wood) for this excellent showing. Perhaps, among other things, this shows that this sort of online merchant appeals to a more discriminatory clientele, who can say.

In a related subject, they have the top comics and graphic novels data for 2004 over at Newsarama, and of course it's heavily slanted towards the Big Two, with Dark Horse making a surprisingly strong showing. This list comes from Diamond, so it's more representative of a wider sample of vendors.

I draw no conclusions by posting this; as I said a long time ago, I like the graphic novel format for what it represents: an opportunity to read one story (or story arc) in one sitting, with better-than-average production values and perhaps, in some cases, an opportunity to have the same writer and artist for the entire project. On the other hand, as someone who's been reading single floppy pamphlets since his preschool years, I have a sentimental attachment of sorts to that format, and would hate to see it go away all together. I kinda like getting regualr installments, or chapters, of stories- it's comparable to the difference of watching, say Deadwood every week, or getting the DVD box and watching it all in one sitting (except, of course, it takes less time...!). It's difficult for me to afford to jam a trade in with my weekly purchases, because adding $10-$20 dollars to my already fairly high total is just too costly for me right now. And if I were to take the plunge and go trades-only, there are books that I enjoy right now that may not ever get collected due to low sales (Monolith comes to mind here), and then I'd be forced to buy singles anyway or do without. And since there's no guarantee that titles will be collected in an affordable format, what I'm forced into is buying singles, and perhaps the occasional trade when my comics shop has sales on, mostly to pick up on series I've missed out on (I started Kane, Fables and Hellboy this way, for example), or when something comes out that I just can't do without like Selina's Big Score. I've been fortunate in that I've received a lot of GN's through the generosity of people like Young, which I probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise because of expense. I could see myself perhaps switching over to more trades if I follow through with canceling my pull list at my shop and going with Discount Comic Book Service; I could perhaps afford to get more GN's and collections and less floppies. Who the heck knows.

Anyway, that's all I got; discuss among yourselves.

Friday, January 14, 2005

M.E. Russell over at CulturePulp takes on Gallagher. Made me laugh, it did. He also reviews Elektra, which I already had my doubts about.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

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<br />ImageShack.usThere's a 10 page preview of Frank Cho's Shanna The She-Devil over at It's very nicely drawn and colored, par for the course for Mr. Cho, and I actually laughed at the joke on the last page. I hadn't planned to get this, as I'm not really a fan of Cho's nicely drawn but labored pseudo-Bloom County strip Liberty Meadows, but I'm beginning to reconsider. Click on the cover at left to check it out.

In other comics-related news, I see, via The Beat, where DC has axed Human Target and Bloodhound. Didn't read the latter; I've never been that impressed with Dan Jolley's writing, and Leonard Kirk's art doesn't excite me much either. I thought if I ever got the chance to get a run cheap, I might consider it, just to read...but either way, it's gone. Now, Target I bought regularly up until just a month or so ago, so if you're looking for someone to blame, I guess I'll do as much as anyone. But seriously- I tried really hard, but Milligan just never really could make me believe in or care about the character or his storylines, so I bade it a not so tearful adieu. That leaves The Losers as one of DC's worst selling titles still ongoing, and frankly, that worries me. Oh well. Que sera sera.

Update, 1-14:
Heidi is now reporting that The Losers seems to be safe for now. Andy Diggle says it seems to be selling better in trades than in singles, and a third trade has been scheduled. (Lurr from Futurama voice here) This pleases me.