Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm at work, so I'm looking over my shoulder the whole time I'm typing this, but I wanted to post a couple of links.

First, via the Comics Reporter, a link to a great Toth-illustrated story for Creepy magazine, one from the later years when the overall quality of the magazines weren't so high but they still pulled something upon occasion like this, which not only demonstrates Toth's mastery (LOVE that lettering), but also the excellence of writer Archie Goodwin as he spins a tale which serves as not only a somewhat sci-fi story with a twist, but a rumination on life and death and lack of government funding for disease control, and many other things I don't have time for.

It comes from this site, in which we also find an older Toth story, as well as some John Severin and a couple of excellent Lady Luck stories by Klaus Nordling. Something about those blonde comic book babes from the Forties...

Last of the Spinner Rack Junkies. Man, I wish I had named my PopCultureShock column that.

Also, someone posted this morally reprehensible DC romance comic story on their LJ, which I can't defend at all except to state that it has some nice experessive (especially in the faces) Jerry Grandenetti art, and I'm probably the only person in the whole Comics Blogosphereiverse that cares about the art on that particular story.

More later, I hope.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Image Hosted by

More Alex Toth for ya- here's a sketch of Zatanna I liked, found at an online Toth original art gallery at

Also, at that same site (and thanks to reader Jeffery Sellers for the heads-up!) is a page from the House of Secrets "Connecticut Ice Cream Man" story I mentioned Saturday night. The scan is not so great, but it's a sweet page and I really should try and find an affordable copy of that comic. There's also a note from Toth, stating that he based the looks of the ice cream man on Julius Schwartz, not Phil Silvers!

Finally, here's quite possibly the best tribute I've read yet- a haiku by Chase creator D.C. Johnson.

I have more reviews ready, but many of them have been submitted for the next NCR column at I'll wait until they go up there to put them here. Among them are looks at Talent (every time I see that title, I'm reminded of this song...and it's a vague, arcane reference which just points out how weird my mind is sometimes), Wonderland, and...Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Another one of the greats is gone.

RIP Alex Toth.

I know I saw a lot of his art in various DC, Warren, and Petersen publications previously, not to mention all his animation character designs...but strangely enough, the first time I remember really noticing his work and how innovative and dynamic it was was the almost simultaneous releases of Detective Comics #442, "Death Flies the Haunted Sky", (August/September 1974) and House of Secrets #123 (September 1974) with a nondescript story titled "A Connecticut Ice Cream Man in King Arthur's Court", a sort of patch on Twain's A Connecticut Yankee... in which Toth drew the lead to look just like Phil Silvers. At the age of 14, yet another creator had made a deep impression on me. After that, I kept my eye out for everything else he did, which wasn't much- by the time I discovered him, he had pretty much decided to get out of the comics industry, except for the occasional special job. And, of course, the excellent Bravo For Adventure feature which ran briefly a couple of years later in a Warren magazine, The Rook I believe.

Anyway, I'd like to post more art of his in the next week...wish I still had that old issue of House of Secrets and my Rooks...

Update 5/28: I've added, at left an example of a fairly recent page; I have no idea where it first appeared, but it showcases two things I loved about the man's later work: first, his unparalleled command of lights and darks, and his incredible lettering style with its lively and energetic balloon placement. As I said before, I'm hoping I can post more as I find it.

Image Hosted by

Here's another panel, which I had posted a couple of years ago, from an Adventure Comics Black Canary story. Love the way this is laid out...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I know, I know, YESTERDAY was BOB DYLAN's birthday and I forgot. So sue me. I don't do the Bacardi Show Birthday Greetings thing all that much anymore. But here's a belated wish for the Bard of Hibbing, and one of those lists for which I am world-renowned.

in no particular order other than the order that I thought of them, although it's kinda-sorta chronological:


And, as an extra special bonus since I'm late and he's been so coverable over the years, here's a list of some of my favorite Dylan covers:

UP TO ME by Roger McGuinn from Cardiff Rose
YOU AIN'T GOIN' NOWHERE by the Byrds from Sweetheart of the Rodeo
TOMORROW IS A LONG TIME by Rod Stewart from Every Picture Tells a Story
MAMA YOU BEEN ON MY MIND by Rod Stewart from Never a Dull Moment
BUCKETS OF RAIN by Bette Midler from Songs From the New Depression
I SHALL BE RELEASED by Midler from Bette Midler
FATHER OF DAY, FATHER OF NIGHT by Manfred Mann's Earth Band from Solar Fire
QUIT YOUR LOW DOWN WAYS by Manfred Mann's Earth Band from Nightingales and Bombers
IF NOT FOR YOU by George Harrison from All Things Must Pass
MOST LIKELY YOU GO YOUR WAY AND I'LL GO MINE by Todd Rundgren from Faithful

OVERRATED ALBUM: 2001's Love and Theft, which was the beneficiary, I think, of some wish on the part of the critical community to give him props while he's alive;

UNDERRATED ALBUM: 1990's Under The Red Sky- now wait, hear me out- true, this is Dylan songwriting at its most lyrically simplistic, but the album maintains a good bopping groove, is rarely dull, and is often very catchy ("Wiggle Wiggle", the title cut, "Handy Dandy").

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

And now...part TWO of the senses-shattering, mind-blowing, death-defying, hyperbole-mongering, hair-splitting, time-killing
Whot aye b'ot and whot aye th'ot, weeks of May 13 through May 21.

S/A: The usual gang of Boom!ers. (Boom! Studios, $6.99)

Having decided to move on from zombies for a while, thank goodness, the fine folks at Boom! have decided to indulge in the more subtle and cerebral terrors of the fertle imaginations of good old H.P. Lovecraft (and August Derleth) in this anthology of several stories which aren't adaptations, but original works that attempt to evoke that good ol' nameless dread- and mostly succeed despite a formulaic approach to the scripting, with the exception of Keith Giffen's weirdo "Oddly Amorous Phineas Flynn", which reminded me of nothing less than that old Warner Bros. cartoon "The Dover Boys", for some reason. Many of the pleasures herein are artistic in nature; the lead story, for example, by Andrew Ritchie is sloppily rendered but manages to capture that fever-dream quality that HPL could evoke; also, Lee Carter on "Witch Hunter" makes a strong case for assuming the art chores on Hellblazer with a nicely atmospheric job, and it's always great to see Mark Badger's work whenever it pops up. Probably the most effective story here is "Quality Time" featuring a nightmarish school play, and whose main character dons a "King in Yellow" mask, a nod to horror fiction anthologist Robert Chambers. While it's not as entertaining as the Nameless Dread, it's still a great idea for an anthology series and I hope there are many more in the pipeline. B+

S/A: Paul Pope; Color: Jose Villarubia (DC, $5.99)

I'm afraid that I have to abandon all pretense of impartiality when it comes to Paul Pope, so yes, of course I loved this. Sure, the plot was fairly standard issue futuristic conspiracy action thriller, and could have just as easily have been another serial in THB, but Pope imbued it with his vivid imagination and his ability to provide a fresh spin on any superheroic scenario by virtue of his chaotic art style if nothing else...and he kept everything moving at a fast pace so it never got dull. What we are seeing here is a master storyteller at the peak of his powers, and we should enjoy it while we can. A

S: Mark Andreyko; A: Javier Pina, Fernando Blanco (DC, $2.99)

The latest issue of the poster girl for "Enjoy it while you can" (Say...maybe Paul Pope should do a one-shot!), and it's pretty much par for the spandex course- big battle scene, this time with a sentient computer menace, check; plot threads involving the ancillary characters, advanced gradually to keep us interested, check; skeevy badguy with cheesy name...hey! How did THAT get in there? Anyway, lots of Chase in this issue, so I liked. No complaints, other than an unusually lackluster Shawn Martinbrough cover, in which someone apparently failed to provide him with reference material to draw Kate's adversary- and why is there a pistol flying through the air and discharging just under the logo? Please don't say symbolism...B+

S: Warren Ellis; A: Ben Templesmith (Image, $1.99)

Not that I'd like to see him go away anytime soon, but really- why isn't Warren Ellis doing film and TV scripts? This issue, which is basically an extended interrogation scene, has more fascinating characterization, sharp dialogue, and plot twists than almost any current five films or TV shows that you can name. And comics, for that matter. Of course, it helps to have someone doing the art that can work that nine-panel grid mojo the way Templesmith can- rarely do talking heads engage so. And when you factor in that this is a very wallet-friendly buck ninety-nine... A

S: Bill Willingham; A: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Mowgli, at the behest of Prince Charming, has been searching for Bigby Wolf for several issues now, and he finds him in somewhat surprising circumstances. Plus, we get a little ominous foreshadowing at the end. As always, for those who have been keeping up, another interesting chapter in the ongoing story. For those who haven't, hie thee to the comics shop and getteth thee some trades forthwith. A-

S:Brian Wood; A: Riccardo Burchielli (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Our boy Matt finds himself stuck between the opposing factions of New York and the rest of the country, and has some decisions to make. Maybe this book is beginning to wear me down, because I found myself actually caring about what happens to this guy instead of being annoyed at the premise. Guess I'll stick around a while and see what happens. A-

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Luke Ross (DC, $2.99)

Hex gets caught in the middle of a bloody love triangle, and darned if this wasn't the best issue of the series so far. This is the final issue for Ross; while his work could sometimes be stiff and lifeless, mostly it was solid and I'll miss him on this book. A-

S: Steven Seagle; A: Becky Cloonan (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Seagle soft-pedals the religious jibes and gives us more of Adam in Africa, getting to the bottom (or trying to, anyway) of what happened to his girlfriend, and for now I'm interested, if nothing else but to see whether he can keep building on the momentum he's establishing. They keep trying, it seems, to make a Peter Gross out of Becky Cloonan, but she's just to talented to get pigeonholed into that narrow Vertigo house style and good for her. B+

100 BULLETS 72
S: Brian Azzarello; A: Eduardo Risso (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

No matter how many times he does it, I still get a kick out of those moments in this convoluted saga when Azzarello pulls out the "Croatoa" mnemonic key plot card, and we get one such here. Not exactly a pow-wham moment, but it was a bit of a surprise- and it's nice to get a "wow" surprise as opposed to a "where the heck did THAT come from" surprise on this book. A-

S: Rick Remender; A: Jerome Opena (Image, $2.99)

Climax to the whole "Dead Western" thing that's been going on for a few issues now, and on its own terms it's not bad. Everything proceeds in an orderly, expected fashion, and the chief delights are once more in the character interaction. Best thing about this issue, though, is the work of Opena, who is unknown to me- his stuff reminds me of an amalgam of 70's Filipinos like Gerry Talaoc and Alex Nino mixed with Dave Gibbons, John Bolton, and perhaps even Al Williamson inks. I'd like to see more, but I'm not so sure I want to buy something called Fear Agent to do so. Nice cover, too, by Andy Kuhn and Joe Cross. Nothing about this title will push comics forward, but it is an often enjoyable read. Geez, without the lowbrow stuff, how are we supposed to appreciate the highbrow stuff? B+

More later, including the Bizarro World softcover and Bluesman Vol. 1...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Once more, it's time for the BACARDI SHOW NEW COMICS REVUE!
Comments and opinions on works of sequential fiction I have read in the weeks spanning May 13 through May 21.

S/A: Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez. (Fantagraphics, $4.50)

The Bros., once more doing what they do and doing it well. Gilbert's ongoing "Down in Heaven" is no less weird and rambling but for some reason the events depicted engaged my attention more than the last few times out- I'll probably never be a rabid Beto fan- I just don't care for his functional but often crude art and often incoherent storytelling style- but when he's on, he's really on. Of course, it's Jaime's stuff that I keep buying this book for, and once more he doesn't disappoint as he continues last issue's bittersweet Ray and Maggie reunion, incorporating amusing looks at geek culture with a pretty good, and true-ringing little romance story. The other ongoing feature, starring Hopey, is a little less light in tone but no less outstanding. A

S/A: Paul Grist. (Image, $3.50)

Another fun issue, which starts and ends with scenes straight outta Kane, interrupted by a really oddball black and white interlude with his fourth wall-busting Druid character, and one in which the titular hero finally makes an appearance, along with his hilarious Alan Moore rip Morlan the Mystic. Although this is once more tardy to a fault, it's more of the same dynamic and entertaining storytelling I've come to expect from Mr. Grist. Production values leave something to be desired, however- several pages here are poorly reproduced, like the ink wasn't fully up on the presses or they were working from bad scans or plates. After 20+ years in the printing biz, I notice these things. A-

S: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi; A: Guy Davis (Dark Horse, $2.99)

In which we finally get the backstory of Captain Daimio, and it's a weird and horrifying one for sure, even by the standards established long ago. We also get a little time with agent Kate Corrigan, who's in a bit of a pickle herself as she remains the guest of an evil Count of some sort in another place of some sort. I've never really been a fan of this Daimio character- he seems to have been brought on to replace the gruff-and-tough quotient that was missing after Hellboy bailed. But the tale of how he died and was resurrected was some bizarre, surreal stuff, and it grabbed me. And everybody likes Kate Corrigan, so of course we don't want to see anything bad happen to her, now do we? So what we have, to sum, is perhaps the strongest B.P.R.D. mini yet, and in large part because Arcudi's settling in and Davis is outdoing himself every single month. A

S: Many, including Kyle Baker and Robert Loren Fleming; A: Jack Kirby, Dick Giordano, Don Heck, Vince Colletta, Al Hartley. (Marvel, $2.99)

It occurred to me the other day, after I had finished reading this, that this is the first opportunity I've had (since I started blogging three years ago) to review a new script of any sort by Robert Loren Fleming, creator of my beloved Thriller. I only wish it could have been under more auspiscious circumstances. Of course, you all know what the drill is with these books- like the What Were They Thinking?-style remixes that Boom! Studios is putting out, we get old Marvel romance comics re-scripted with moderately amusing results. Fleming's is probably the most effective of the bunch; he adds some funny absurdities to the mock soap-operatics and had me chuckling at several points. Baker's is even more absurd, but not as funny, although I liked his cover for this issue. It doesn't help much that every one of these stories look just alike, be they Kirby, Heck or Giordano-pencilled...those scratchy Colletta inks smother them all equally and keeps all the nonsensical dialogue grounded and flat. Still, it's great to see Fleming back among the living, so to speak, and now that he's astuck his toe in the water once more, I fervently hope someone will come along and give him a chance to create and develop another series. C+

S: Javier Grillo-Marxauch; A: Les McClaine (Viper, $2.95)

If, as they say, creativity is the art of disguising your sources, then this entertaining Men in Black rip is the most creative comic I've read in years. Super-technology, kung-fu, and Mexican wrestlers, and the facile linework of Les McClaine all add up to a good, solid, fun read. But original it ain't. Oh well, what is? A-


S: Bill Willingham; A: Justiniano, Walden Wong, Wayne Faucher, Willingham. (DC, $3.99/2.99)

I was less than impressed with the big post-Identity Crisis Day of Vengeance froofraw; I'd link to my earlier review of the trade but it was done for Comic Book Galaxy and they've erased all traces of the late, apparently unlamented Last Call With... . But anyway, I kinda found it a pretentious, poorly and inconsistently drawn exercise in tedium, and was perfectly content to leave it at that. But y'see, I've always had an abiding love for DC's supernatural stable, and when I saw the cover for the new ongoing Shadowpact (ugh- still hate that cringeworthy name) series, and noticed the Phantom Stranger had a role, well, I couldn't help myself. It's all the Stranger's fault. Anyway, when I stopped by the LCS to get #1, I noticed the double-sized IC special which served as a prequel to the series, and with a sigh I grabbed it too. And glory be- many of the issues I had with the miniseries and its satellites were no longer present; the writing was still a tad hightoned, but the infodumping was kept to a non-intrusive minimum and the artist whose work came across best, Justiniano, did a pretty good job of keeping everything moving along at a smart clip. All the supernatural characters, with the disembodied helm of Dr. Fate's mentor Nabu, strive to reassemble the shattered Rock of Eternity, the sundering of which has allowed the Seven Deadly Sins to raise hell on Earth, and it was a much better read than I expected. Then we get the first issue of the ongoing series, in which a crimson dome is conjured up over a small town by a group of sinister super-types and the Shadowpact is called in by Superman and the Phantom Stranger to get to the bottom of what's going on. Willingham himself does the art chores this time, and his work is OK; it strikes me as very Mike Goldenesque, and he has the disconcerting habit of drawing his characters as if they're suspended in water or something- but it's solid and workmanlike and didn't distract me too much. I was a little dubious about the timeline we're given as well- I'm not veresed enough in what's been going on in the DCU to know if the One Year Later timeline we're given about halfway through is kosher or not, but one thing I'm not eager to see is 12 issues' worth of this storyline and its upcoming struggle. Hopefully we'll get the condensed version. Anyway, for now I'm interested, but I can see a time in the near future when I'll get bored and drop it. Hopefully, Willingham and co. will make it easy for me to put this off. IC SPECIAL: B+ SHADOWPACT 1: B

S: Keith Giffen, Alan Grant; A: Raul Lyra (Boom!, $3.99)

I keep looking for reasons not to like this title, and keep coming up empty every time. You've got a tight, witty script which can be serious when needs must and is populated with sufficiently nasty villains and the surly but charismatic "good" guy, plus lotsa comic relief with the befuddled residents of Earth who get stuck in the middle of this cosmic drama plus you've got nicely detailed art by Lyra, even though it's apparently beyond him to draw an attractive human being. All the pieces fit together nicely, and the end result is a very entertaining read. A-

S: Howard Chaykin, David Tischman; A: David Hahn (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Bit of a letdown from #1; the murder mystery gets a bit more convoluted than it oughtta and there's a revelation at the end that is as unsavory as it is unexpected. I'm sure it will play an important part in whatever resolution we get, but it just kinda soured me a bit on the whole shebang. If all the characters are amoral, cynical, and spiritually empty, then who exactly are we supposed to care about and why should we anyway? Oh well, complaining about ugly cynicsm in a Chaykin book, even a secondhand one, is a bit like going to Alaska and complaining that it's cold. And besides, it doesn't seem to bother me on other titles (Ultimates comes to mind). David Hahn holds up his end of the deal nicely- his clean-lined and somewhat-static art is loosening up a bit and it's helping move things along very well. B+

S: Mike Carey; A: Glenn Fabry (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

After seven issues, I really don't know what else to say: Carey's doing a wonderful adapting job, adding shades and nuance to Gaiman's characters while never straying from the sequence of events and characterization of the novel, and Fabry's interiors are an imaginative revelation. Also gotta give props to the Hories, Tanya and Richard, who are thankfully deviating from the Standard Vertigo Color Palette of mottled browns, greens and blues to give us vivid when vivid is called for, and subdued when it isn't. I sincerely hope that all of you out there who aren't picking up the singles are waiting for, or are considering, the trade. You won't be sorry. A

More later on, including Cthultu Tales, Batman Year 100 4, Cemetarians #1, and more.
I'm sure most of you are aware by now of Tom Bondurant's call to the Comics Blogosphereiverse to submit thier lists of the 50 greatest DC characters. Since he was nice enough to email me personally, I simply had to try to cobble one together, and I did so. And since I'm not quite ready to start posting new comics reviews just yet, I thought "Hey- there's a readymade blogpost, right there!" So without any further ado, here's my list.

1. Batman
2. The Spectre
3. The Phantom Stranger
4. Chase
5. Bat Lash
6. Ironwolf
7. Darkseid
8. Zatanna
9. Manhunter (70?s Paul Kirk)
10. Manhunter (00?s Kate Spencer)
11. Starman (Jack Knight)
12. Atom
13. Hawkman
14. Angie Thriller
15. Beaker Parish
16. Gypsy
17. Metamorpho
18. The Creeper
19. Super-Hip!
20. Kinetix
21. Hellgrammite
22. Eclipso
23. Superman
24. Scooter
25. Swamp Thing
26. Hawk & Dove
27. The Demon
28. Ultra the Multi-Alien
29. Beowulf, Dragon Slayer
30. Lou Martin aka Major Bummer (Don?t know if he counts?)
31. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
32. Green Lantern (Guy Gardner)
33. John Constantine
34. Crazy Jane
35. Brother Power, the Geek
36. Dolphin
37. the Unknown Soldier
38. Shade, the Changing Man
39. Flex Mentallo
40. Captain Fear
41. Diana Prince, Wonder Woman
42. The Shadow
43. Aquaman
44. Deadman
45. the Flash
46. The Calendar Man
47. Ragman
48. The Metal Men
49. Stargirl
50. Dr. Mid-Nite

After about the first 20 or so, I just started throwing them in there as I thought of them. I'm not sure how many of these actually qualify (The Shadow, for example, but two of my all-time favorite DC series were the 70's and late 80's Shadow series) but he's free to omit what he wants. And frankly, I realize that not having the Joker (obviously one of the most important characters in comics history), for example, at the cost of including the likes of Brother Power and Scooter kinda flies against the intent of the poll...but after a while I realized that I was having an easier time citing characters I personally liked rather that characters that were actually "important". So, no Luthor, Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Plastic Man, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary (actually, I should have listed her), Wildcat (sorry, Dorian), Doc Fate, and so forth. If I had actually tried to list the most important and give them proper number rankings, I would have NEVER finished in time for the deadline. So, typically, I chose the path of least resistance. Hopefully, I won't ruin the poll.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My DCBS box came this evening, so I'm going to be reading heavily for a while and don't intend to make time to post tonight. But in the meantime, why not sashay over to the sanctuary of the Mystifying Oracle and check out the link to the site for his upcoming Alex Toth sketch collection? That book looks like it's going to be killer.

I hate to call it a doodle book, that sounds so undignified for someone like Toth. The above page, taken from a late 60's issue of Hot Wheels (a series I'd love to get my hands on, I never bought a single issue as a kid even though I was nuts about Hot Wheels), was stolen from the daily page section of

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

For the longest time there I used to faithfully post, every week, the list of comics I'd be getting per the most recent Diamond shipping list. But since I started getting my books mostly through DCBS every two weeks, I kinda had to stop. One thing I can do, however, is post a list of what I'll be getting (hopefully) Friday when my DCBS Box O' Books arrives at my doorstep. And it goes like this.

100 BULLETS #72
DMZ #7

And, according to the Diamond list,

JACK STAFF #10 is set to FINALLY be released tomorrow. It was the last title I had left on my old holds list, since #10 was solicited before I started getting my books online. So it's off to the LCS tomorrow for me! Five will get you ten they don't get a copy.

While I'm there, I'm seriously considering picking up

SHADOWPACT #1 despite not especially liking the whole Day of Vengeance thing.

Plus, the CASTLE WAITING HC, at $29.95 retail, is a good deal.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I don't know how many of you check out the ol' LJ, but in an effort to post more often over at this, the main gig, I'll cross-post some shorties that I put up over there.

First, sad news: Apparently Manhunter has gotten the axe. Figures. Just when I get good and interested in it. Oh well, ces't la.

I didn't really know that it was in danger of cancellation, but I'm hardly surprised. I used to keep up with sales figures a lot better, but it seems like I never see the column that Marc-Oliver Frisch used to have at the Pulse anymore...but then again I just don't check out the comics news sites like I useta.

An amusing ancedote from Casa Bacardi:

Last night, my mostly non-comic book reading wife, who has been watching some Justice League reruns with me upon occasion, asked me in all innocence as we viewed the final Unlimited episode:

"Wait- there are two falcon people? What's their story? Are they a couple?"

Looking at the screen, and seeing Hawkman, I realized to my horror what she was asking me to explain.

I said, "Please- don't ask. PLEASE! DON'T. ASK!"

Of course, I tried to explain anyway and made no sense, I'm sure.

More sad news:

I was weirded out and more than a little saddened earlier this week when I read this CBR interview with True Story, Swear to God's Tom Beland, in which he discusses his breakup with the erstwhile One True Love of His Life, Lily...not a week after reading the first TS:STG trade collection which details how they met.

I know, I know, I'm just a big ol' soft pile of mush. But I do know this- if the subsequent issues are nothing but soap opera and heartbreak, then I ain't readin' em. Unless, of course, I get comped...

And finally:

It amazes me that of all the things that DC has published and deleted, THIS is still in print. And you can even download a four-page PDF preview, which of course shows nothing much.

Still, this is one of my favorite graphic novels, even though it's Chaykin writing through his J.F. Moore filter, and it's strangely gratifying to know that it's still available.

Yeah, lazy, I know.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Image Hosted by

Look! Justice League Detroit! And Gypsy!

Anyway, you probably know that this is a screencap from last night's final original episode of Justice League Unlimited, and it was a bittersweet experience indeed. McDuffie, Timm and Co. pulled out all the stops to give the faithful an appropriate sendoff, and they certainly succeeded- so much kewl stuff:

Superman's speech to Darkseid before throwing what has to be the greatest punch he's ever thrown anywhere, in any medium;

DCU Ditko creations like Hawk & Dove and the Creeper (who should have had an episode in which he played a bigger part) kicking Parademon booty before ceding the stage to another Ditko creation, The Question, running down Parademons in a beat-up old car;

Giganta (or whatever her name is) planting a big kiss on the Flash;

Batman dodges an Omega beam! An OMEGA BEAM! Of course, I'd like to see him do it again...

The return of J'onn J'onzz, completely unexpected and a FUCK YEAH moment if ever I seed one;

Did I mention that GYPSY was in this episode?

Anyway, that's just a few of the great moments. Of course, I could nit-pick about the ending, and BEWARE OF SPOILERS-

You mean to tell me that Luthor could enter the Source Wall and not become just another bas-relief? How did he survive? Did they mean to infer that he still had enough Braniac in his head to absorb the knowledge? And Luthor has the Anti-Life Equation, and doesn't attempt to use it? Surely he'd know that Darkseid is as susceptable to its effects as anyone. And really, the timing of the whole resolution was just a bit rushed and sudden after all the buildup.

Also, I missed Doc Fate and Aquaman; wonder where they were? It would have been kinda cool to have Aquaman running down the steps at the end with the rest of JL Day-twah.

Still, it was hardly a dealbreaker, and after all is said and done it was a great way to wind up what has to be considered a wonderful period, beginning waaay back with Batman: The Animated Series. I, for one, will miss looking forward to new Saturday night episodes, no matter how scattered apart they were. Hopefully, the upcoming Legion of Super-Heroes series will pick up the slack, but it has a heck of an act to follow.

No more animated Gypsy. Sob.

Image Hosted by


You created me, Mom,
So I guess you're to blame,
For the love that I feel,
Just from hearing your name...
You're as tender as corned beef,
And warm as pastrami...

I wuv my Mommy!

Yeah, I flat out stole this from LJ poster Robotology. So sue me. Remember: Imitation, sincerest, flattery. Anyway, here's to all you mothers out there, including my saintly, long suffering Mom, Mrs. Doris Jones. Happy Mother's Day!

Mom: "Before I die, I'd like to be supreme overlord of Earth. So rebel, my little ones, and conquer the planet!" *robots mutter in disagreement* *Mom presses button* "Conquer Earth, you bastards!"
Robots: "Conquer Earth, us bastards!"

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Here at last, the barely anticipated return of the B to the S to the N-C-R!
In which I post belated commentary, observations, bitching, complaints and thoughts on various comeeks and other works of sequential fiction I have read, weeks of 21 April through 12 May.

S: Neal Shaffer; A: Joe Infurnari (Oni Press, $6.95)
Young journalist foolishly hitches a ride on a cargo ship which is on a course to go through the Bermuda Triangle, storm hits, and he wakes up alone on the ship with garbage, clutter and trash strewn everywhere. Soon he's rescued, and finds to his dismay that he's joined a select society of people who have passed through the Triangle and now find themselves existing in a sort of sideways plane of existence, unable to interact with those in "our" reality. That's the way I understood it, anyway- my eyes kinda glazed over as one of the characters explained the situation to our unfortunate protagonist, who must now accept his fate or somehow (just like you know he will, eventually) find a way to get back to his wife and life. Decent treatment of Lost-inspired Twilight Zone-ish material, with a challenging enough situation and a likeable enough cast of characters. Artwise, Infurnari's style is rough as sandpaper and suffers from excessively dark shading but his figure drawing and expressions are good, and he tells the story well. I think he'll improve with experience. Worth a look. B+

S: Christina Weir, Nunzio DiFillipis; A: Christopher Mitten (Oni, $14.95)
The team behind The Tomb is back with a not-bad little murder mystery involving a fractious family and post-hypnotic reincarnation that had me guessing until the end- and even though yet again a denouement comes out of left field at least it was sort-of set up at the beginning so it didn't annoy. Somewhat more annoying, to me anyway, is Mitten's art- he's adequate at telling the story, but it's obvious that he learned to draw from studying the clumsy manga stylings of artists who themselves were borrowing, and we get page after page of underdrawn, scratchily inked panels inhabited by people who all possess the same face structure (pointy chins, spiky hair) and look young, even the older people. Some like his work, so I guess it's just a case of diff'rent strokes. Anyway, it didn't interfere too much with my enjoyment of the narrative itself, so no harm no foul. Between this and Borrowed Time, is it just me, or are more and more graphic novels reading like auditions for TV scriptwriting gigs? This could have easily been an episode of CSI or something. B+

S/A: Too many to list! (Dark Horse, $14.95)
Before you ask, no, I haven't finished Kavalier and Clay yet, although I am making progress. But right now I'm at the part where Sammy is having his California fling with Tracy Bacon and Joe has bought the swanky apartment for he and Rosa to live in together and frankly, this stuff is BORING. I'm sure things will pick up eventually, so I'm looking at this section as a hurdle to jump. Anyway, as I'm sure you all know what we have here are several high-and-not-so-high profile creative types having a go at Mike Chabon's pulp-inspired super escape artist, and often the results are quite good, such as the short-but-sweet final Will Eisner story that features the Spirit, and the Chaykin feature which frankly reads like about every Chaykin story, just plug in the hero and off you go...the only difference being that the hero is a blonde goyim rather than the usual ChaykinMan. There's also a typically lively Paul Grist feature which has the Escapist taking on super-hypnotist Ian Anderson (Now I know why I bought Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young to Die), a bland Red China-set adventure that benefits from solid Shawn Martinbrough art, an even blander story set at the New York World's Fair which benefits from nicely watercolored Eddie Campbell illustration (all I had seen from him previously was Bacchus, and I liked this a lot more), a Vietnam War tale which sports outstanding Tom Yeates art and makes me even more nostalgic for Timespirits, and a somewhat heavy-handed and unattractively drawn (by Eric Wight- I liked his Buffy animated style better) attempt to replicate a late 60's-era "relevant" comics story which just doesn't work. Jeffrey Brown's short story is amusing, and David Hahn brings his clean style and pointy ear-squiggles to another Chaykin tale which could have been a leftover Times Squared story idea. And then there's Steven Grant's "Electricity", which purports to be a story written by Sammy Clay for a late 40's romance/horror book, and features a mousy girl who gets raped and eventually killed because she let herself get all prettied up by a friend and set up on a blind date. Something about this story just didn't sit right with me- it's borderline misogynistic in its tone, and its resolution hinges on two unlikely (to me, anyway) plot contrivances- first, her real blind date dismisses her immediately after he sees her tipsy, after she's been drinking to alleviate her nervousness because he's late; wouldn't he have at least tried to talk to her and wouldn't he have been aware that he was late for their date? Also, the authorities won't listen to or believe her story, simply because we wouldn't have that nifty twist at the end without it. I know, I know, Grant is writing "as" Clay, whose apparent issues with women are supposed to inform this story. But the thing is Grant isn't Clay, he's really writing this, and is ducking behind this persona to get this out of his head. There's a sort of disconnect before this tale as well, in one of the text pieces that introduce each illustrated story- the writer, in discussing its fictional history, says that this is thought to be an uncredited Alex Toth or Jack Cole story, ludicrous because the art by Norm Breyfogle (he wishes) doesn't even slightly resemble the work of either man. All things considered, this didn't blow me away, although there's a lot of quality work here. I think a lot of it is because let's face it- taken as a character in and of itself, the Escapist just isn't all that interesting. He's a pastiche of any number of 1940's "real-world" characters, from Doc Savage to Little Orphan Annie, created simply so Chabon's fictional creators, themselves pastiches of any number of creators working in the field in those halcyon days from Jack Kirby to Will Eisner and so on...which makes him a pastiche created by pastiches created by a fiction writer, and the thrice-removed nature just doesn't lend itself to keeping me interested, especially at this price. Unless, of course, we get another issue with Martinbrough, Grist, Chaykin, Hahn and Eisner...then we'll see. B+

S: Ed Brubaker; A: Michael Lark, Stefano Guadiano (Marvel, $2.99)
I've been a little harsh on this title lately; it's true, I'm ready for something else besides leftover Miller, but Brubaker's hardly to blame for the hand he was dealt, and he's slowly but surely taking this less-than-fresh plot and making it very readable after all by indulging in his true strength: characterization. And throwing the Punisher in the mix at the end doesn't exactly make me jump for joy, but I must admit it will be interesting to see what happens next. Mike Lark's art is as good as ever, even though Gaudiano's inks and the Photoshoppery involved while coloring it are combining to make it look like Sean Phillips' Sleeper work. Familiarity breeds contempt, as the saying goes, and I think that's what is going on with me and this book- I've been reading it for a long time now, and perhaps I'm a bit jaded. Anyway, for now, I am reengaged. Hope it lasts. A-

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Khari Evans, Palmiotti (Marvel, $2.99)
Despite the horrible early 90s-Image samurai spandex stylings of the badgirl badguy this time out, I'm still enjoying this mildly amusing, well dialogued and efficiently drawn, sometimes surprisingly engrossing wannabe Cinemax late-night erotic action thriller. Kudos for making a villain as lame as Humbug interesting and even likeable; even more for taking the time to show us the human side of the Misty Knight-Colleen Wing relationship, and yet more for the cameo by Danny Rand. Gosh, I wish I had my old Iron Fist comics back. But I digress. A-

S: Denise Mina; A: Leo Manco (DC/Vertigo, $2.75)
I think it doesn't bode well for new writer Mina's tenure when about four issues in to her debut, I'm having serious trouble remembering what the heck's going on, let alone caring. Maybe it would have been wiser to take baby steps, who knows. And Manco is no longer the sort of artist that can make any of it even remotely interesting. C+

S: Mike Carey; A: Dean Ormston (DC/Vertigo, $2.75)
As this title winds down, we get a diversion with the comic relief demons, Gaudium and Spera, and the surprising return of a forgotten player. Well-done as always, but hardly essential, and the best thing about it is that it features the final Dean Ormston fill-in. I've long been on record as wishing Ormston could have drawn the whole series; he at least has a distinctive style, something the regular penciller lacks in spades. Unless you count pointy chins as distinctive. A-

S: B. Clay Moore; A: Jeremy Haun (Oni B/W preview, $3.50)
The latest from Hawaiian Dick creator Moore gives us "What if Tom Cruise was really a secret agent (and not insane)?", and thanks to lively dialogue and likeable characters, plus a good sense of plausibility and good art by Haun, he pulls it off. I'm looking forward to seeing this in full color. A-

More eventually, including a spate of Boom! releases including Jeremiah Harm #3 and Cthulhu Tales.

Thanks for being patient while I FINALLY got these done!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by

If you're a Doc Savage fan, and I can't imagine why you wouldn't be, then you'll understand why I've been spending the last hour or so clicking through this absolutely wonderful site which contains a motherlode of information about all of the sagas, and also features the cover to every one of them, both Pulp and Bantam paperback! There were quite a few of the pulp covers, especially the post-War ones, that I hadn't seen.

I haven't read these stories in ages- they're stored in a box downstairs and I don't really have a good place to adequately display them. I have most of the Bantam paperbacks, all but about 2 of the single editions and a few of the later omnibuses (omnibi?). My first? 1935's the Majii, a corking good yarn which features Doc squaring off against "drugs and hypnotism" and a sinister menace. I especially loved the stories which would take him to exotic locales like Tibet.

Read most of these during my teenage years, so I have a lot of fond memories of collecting and devouring them in one or two nights. Boy, do I wish someone would make a good Doc movie, with lots of period atmosphere and a Sky Captain-type production design.

And as I do with so many of my reading experiences, I tend to associate a certain album, artist or song with them. My personal Doc Savage theme music? "Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)" from the first Electric Light Orchestra album, which I remember listening to quite often as I read. If you've ever heard this instrumental track, perhaps you'll understand. oddly enough, in my head, the second ELO album lent itself to the O'Neil/Kaluta Shadow- but that's a whole 'nother post.

Now excuse me while I go back and wallow in more nostalgia.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do."
-Benjamin Franklin

What I bought and what I thought, weeks of April 21 through May 7.

S:Howard Chaykin, John Tischman; A: David Hahn (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)
I still prefer my Chaykinsnark straight up and uncut and not run through the Tischman filter, but apparently Mr. T is getting more skilled at it because this almost reads like it was written by the Man himself. Pretty much picking up where the last not-bad not-great miniseries left off, this is the sanguinary doings of the Del Toro family through the eyes of the police investigators assigned to keep tabs on vampire activity in Miami. Last time out I never really got comfortable with David Hahn's art- it was just too pretty for the lowdown goings-on. But, since last time, I've come to appreciate his style a lot more, and it goes down a lot smoother largely because he's become really good at setting up the snarky patter with a sharp facial expression here or a nicely done gesture there. A good beginning, I do believe. A-

S: Mark Andreyko; A: Javier Pina, Fernando Blanco. (DC, $2.99)
Solid superheroics all around, and enjoyable even though I am utterly oblivious to nearly all the dreary details of the whole Infinity mess. We get the lead character (for once) showing why she's supposed to be as good at her job as she is, and having some great interaction with a character I liked before he got folded into the JSA book, Dr. Mid-Nite, both in and out of the courtroom. In fact, I have to wonder if Andreyko made a concerted effort to get the courtroom scenes right this time because there was so much that seemed to be out of whack when he did it several months ago. Oh well, idle speculation on my part. I've criticized them as being bland and workmanlike on art, but I gotta admit I liked Pina and Blanco's work here (sounds like a fine wine, doesn't it? Pina Blanco), especially their nicely expressive Doc Psycho, who (in a perfect world) would have been portrayed by the late Michael Dunn. Now, if only Cameron Chase would stop calling that lowlife Dylan character, I'd be really happy. Boys and girls, don't look now, but this book is well worth your time if you're craving a good old-fashioned superhero wallow. A-

S: Warren Ellis, A: Stuart Immonen. (Marvel, $2.99)
Once more, the yuks fly fast and furious, and this issue was a bit better than last. It doesn't quite have the smooth flow and sitcom timing of that patented Giffen/DeMatteis bwah- it's a more edgy and staccato sort of humor. I do like the chemistry and dynamic that the team members are showing- they bicker as they battle and get off several funny lines and I'm not really even sure that there is supposed to be a big picture. Perhaps Ellis intends for these guys to go on sniping at each other and fighting giant dragons and robots until he gets tired of it all, and that will be that. And if it sounds like I'm as ambivalent as always about whether or not I really like this book, well, I'm still trying to decide. Ask me again next month. B+

S/A: Ted Naifeh. (Oni, $2.99)
Young Polly comes another step closer to embracing her heritage as daughter of a pirate queen in this penultimate chapter. I feel like I've been saying the same thing every month about this book, which is a smart, sharp and whimsically dark fantasy a la Robert Stevenson or J.M. Barrie. If you've been waiting for the trade, you won't be sorry. A

S: Grant Morrison, A: Doug Mahnke. (DC, $2.99)
Another excellent chapter of one of the highest points in the series so far. Many dangling threads are tied up, or at least we're reminded of them, many characters (some forgotten by me) are referenced, the Squire makes another appearance (even though it's only one panel- geez, I like that character!) and while I can't say this about most of the other Soldiers, I'd definitely like to see another Frankenstein series come from this. But it's gotta have Mahnke on art; I still say he's one of the best, if not THE best, mainstream superhero comic book artists working today. A

S: Rob Markman, Randee Carcano, Daimon Scott. A: Scott, Brian Stelfreeze. (DC, $4.99)
"Graffiti Art is a major influence in my work", Mr. Scott states at the beginning, and he's not exaggerating. At first, I thought this was a jumbled mess- but when I actually sat down and read the thing, I realized that sure, it is a jumbled mess, but it's an imaginative, colorful and heartfelt mess, and despite the neither here-nor-there quality of the stories I found myself enjoying Scott's magic-marker (or aerosol-can) style, which put me in mind of work by the great Overton Lloyd or Pedro Bell. Typically, the entry I liked the best was the blonde-girl Robin and Cassandra Cain-Batgirl story, which had Stelfreeze's inks reining it in and making it readable- plus, we get a new character which I kinda liked, a cutesy Cinnamon/Sheriff Ida Red/Daisy Kutter ish gunslinger named Calamity. The Flash feature was interestingly arranged but the parallel stories didn't really relate to each other very well; the Superman tribute had some nifty moments- I liked the Unity flag illo, as well as the Supes-saves-a-kid-from-trucks-and-cars piece as well. The Tim Drake as Batman romance-with-Batgirl finale was OK but didn't excite me all that much, although there were some nicely energetic layouts throughout. Once more, this tragically lame duck series has allowed me to engage with an artist whose work I wouldn't have otherwise paid any attention, and while I can't say I'll go out and buy the next thing Mr. Scott does, I'm glad I had the opportunity. B+

S: Chynna Clugston, Ian Shaughnessy; A: Clugston (Oni Press, $2.99)
Mysterious young girl is packed off to America on a steamship after she's found wandering naked on some unidentified cliffs; mysterious young girl gets accidentally washed off the ship in a storm and washes up on shore, where she's found by an older lady who takes her in until she dies; Mysterious young girl takes up residence at an inn full of oddball characters, continued in Strangetown #2. Don't really know where this is going and how all this will fit together, but I did like the energetic script and for the first time ever I liked Clugston's mangaesque artwork. Hence, an A-

S: Douglas Rushkoff, A: Liam Sharp (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)
We may be getting Abraham and Lot as reimagined a la Jim Starlin, and wannabe Morrison/Quitely in the present-day, but overall this is coming across more like Tower of Babel, as far as I'm concerned. One more pre-ordered issue to go. D

S: Landry Walker & Eric Jones; A: Louis De Martinis (Slave Labor, $3.50)
Wow. Tron. I remember when it first played theatres, but it didn't hang around long so the first time I saw it was about a year later, when it was released to laserdisc. You remember, the big, LP-sized home video format that came and went in the 1980's. Anyway, I liked the movie just fine- script could have been better, and Disney probably screwed around with it, but the effects and costumes were cool, and actually haven't aged all that badly, and it had David Warner in it! Haven't seen it in ages. And who could forget that wild-ass arcade game? Now, Slave Labor has gotten the rights to put out a comics adaptation/extrapolation of the original screenplay, and this is the second chapter- I must have missed the first one, which is referenced in the recap in the inside front cover. As these things go, it's a logical continuation of the original as the son of Bruce Boxleitner's (thanks to the Tron Sector MB for setting me straight on that account- it's been a good 10 years since I've seen this flippin movie!) character is dealing with his old man's legacy, including the same world-inside-the computer as before. I wish that this hadn't been so dark and TV-show downbeat and dreary; Tron as a concept wasn't quite so serious. Not helping is the fuzzy, gloomy art- it's drawn well enough, but it's needlessly murky despite the splashes of neon color that accompany the visuals of the computer world. Could have been better, but could be worse, and is worth a look- but this is based only on reading part one of this particular story arc. B

S/A: Tom Beland. (AiT/PlanetLar, $14.95)
In which Beland recounts how he met the love of his life in his typically warm, witty, self-effacing style- and when the coincidences and unlikely scenarios pile up and threaten to overwhelm the reader, it's always leavened by his graceful cartooning style, reminiscent of Al Hirschfeld or old Jay Ward cartoons even as early on as the stories in this debut collection. Even so, this still crosses over into saccharine territory, and he does belabor his point sometimes...but this hasn't been such a problem in the later collections I've read so perhaps it's just me being cranky, who knows. At the end of the day, I'm glad that I'm finally up-to-date with this series. A-

S:Michael Alan Nelson, A: "Chee". (Boom! Studios, $2.99)
My esteemed colleagues around the blogospehereiverse are being far kinder to this than I am inclined to be; where some are perceiving a "...subtly creepy air, one where almost anything can happen and reality can take a sudden slide sideways" and " attention to character that you don't often find in horror books", I'm only seeing a whole lot of recycling from a whole lot of different sources- earnestly presented, no doubt, but no less secondhand because of them. And "Chee" provides dull, workmanlike art that adds absolutely nothing to the proceedings, and isn't helped a bit by the decision to switch from #1's full color to a heavily inkwashed and sodden black & white scheme which certainly conveys a sense of gloom, but also makes it as much of a chore to sit through as the unfortunate protagonists' truck ride seems to have been here. I've no doubt that Nelson and Chee are convinced that they're trying to give us a serious take on that hoary old Martian invasion scenario, and by most accounts they're succeeding- but I am unfortunately not among that number. Competent but unexciting. C

More to come, including Daughters of the Dragon 4 and Lucifer 73.
It's Sunday morning, and I'm doing the gospel programming thing at the radio station, so I think I'll post a link or two found at other fine comics blogs as well as some random and arbitrary personal stuff (just because) to kinda warm up for the big review-a-thon I need to do today.

First, Sean (Hellblazer, Sleeper) Phillips has a redesigned website, chock full of excellent art, and a blog. Personally, I think Phillips is right up there, certainly with the greats of today, and should be highly ranked on the all-time list as well. In short, I like his stuff. He's as comfortable with depicting the mundane and ordinary as he is the outlandish and supernatural, and he's a master at chiaroscuro technique.

Yesterday was, as I'm sure you're aware, Free Comic Book Day, and even though I gave it some serious thought I decided not to make the 35+ mile drive down to Bowling Green just to pick up perhaps three freebie comics. I was interested in the Tokyopop offering because of the Alex De Campi story, of course I wanted the Owly, and the Adhouse offering looked good. Perhaps they'll have some leftover copies tomorrow when I'm back in BG for work. TwoMorrows Publishing has extended their online giveaway to today, so if you, like me, tried to get on their site yesterday and was unable to because the demand apparently crashed their server, you can score a free copy of one of their consistently fine magazines. I got a copy of Back Issue #8, because I've wanted to read that Trevor Von Eeden interview forever, it seems. I don't buy them on a regular basis because TwoMorrows publications, like Top Shelf's Comic Book Artist and of course The Comics Journal, just cost too much for me and my limited resources, even with the DCBS discount. Anyway, enough of my whining- go HERE to order your free TwoMorrows mag.

I did make a couple of foolish purchases yesterday: I picked up the new Flaming Lips album, At War With the Mystics, and not content with that, I also got a copy of Neko Case's latest, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, mostly because I really liked the cover. I had heard the occasional track by Case, but had never bought any of her recordings until now. See how visuals influence me? Anyway, I've only listened to it all the way through once, and it sounded pretty good in its low-key way. I'm sure further listens will yield further delights. The Lips CD is solid as well; less Proggish and more song/guitar-based but still full of diverse sonics, outstanding harmonies and vocal arrangements, and the wide-eyed grandiosity that made Yoshimi and especially the wonderful Soft Bulletin so good.

Mark Evanier's been Gong Show-blogging lately, and that includes this video link to Gene Gene the Dancing Machine! God I loved that crazy show...

Been checking out Van Dyke Parks' website, and I found a really nice remembrance of the late great Harry Nilsson, written for what the site describes as a "posthumous Nilsson tribute CD", which can only mean 1995's For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson. Why it didn't make the cut I cannot say. Also, here's an interview with VDP, in which he shares an amusing ancedote about a visit to Harry's grave, as well as discussing working with not only HN but Brian Wilson as well. Parks also refers to a documentary about Harry which is "soon to air on HBO"...first I've heard of it airing on HBO, but I'll definitely keep an eye out. And it better not give short shrift to the post-Schmilsson period...! Here's a WONDERFUL interview with the man who has put the documentary Who is Harry Nilsson...and Why is Everybody Talking About Him? together. It's accompanied by some cool pics of HN that I have never seen before.

I didn't get around to doing the Comics Reporter's Five for Friday this week, even though I'm not sure that Tom would have got it if I had- I think his email must be seeing my Gmails as spam. Hope that's not intentional! Anyway, in case you're reading this, Tom, that's John Severin inks on that Hulk cover- he was inking Trimpe at about that time, if memory serves. I emailed you about it, but got no response. Anyways, I thought I'd post my responses here for all to see. This week's topic was


(1) the first comic book you remember reading and its price
(2) the first comic book you remember buying yourself and its price
(3) the most recent comic book you bought and the price
(4) any particular big-time bargain you've stumbled across and the price
(5) the most you ever spent on a comic or comics-content book and its price.

And my responses, if I had sent any, would have been:

(1) I've written about this before, but the first comic I remember reading was Tales to Astonish #50, 12 cents cover price. There was also that comic that had at least two stories, one a recounting of the Native American Lady of the Lake folktale and another about the fellow named Talos that because ruler of the universe, that I asked about on this here blog several months ago and stumped everybody. I fully expect it to show up in one of those Boom! What Were They Thinking?-type books someday.

(2) This one's tough because I don't really remember. I started working for pay at age 16, in 1976 (at the late, lamented Carmen's Pizza in Cave City), so based on my buying habits at the time it was probably an issue of Brave and the Bold or Adventure Comics featuring the Spectre. I used to take my allowance before that and visit record and book stores when my folks would travel to Louisville, so it may have been one of the back-issue titles I bought at a short-lived comic book store off Broadway. Memory most definitely does not serve. At any rate, new comics were approximately 20-25 cents at that time.

(3) Another toughie, because I don't buy comics all that often at my LCS anymore. Most of my comics come in a bulk DCBS order, or from comps. But I actually remember the last comic I purchased at the Great Escape: X-Statix Presents Deadgirl #4, and the cover price was, I believe, $2,99.

(4) Back in the mid-80's I had the collecting bug big-time and I had set out to get as many Silver Age DC comics as I could- not necessarily the Superman and Batman books, but second-stringers like the Atom, Hawkman, and the Metal Men, and I actually managed to accumulate near-complete runs of all three of these titles, Showcase appearances included, and I was working on Green Lantern and Justice League of America as well...but finding myself in a money pinch a few years later, I sold most of these along with about 3/4 of my collection, which I regret to this day. Anyway, what got me started was finding a good-sized stack of those titles at a comics shop that was going out of business for about $50 after I traded in some Rolling Stone back issues, and that remains the best deal I ever made.

(5) Another tough one to remember- but I don't think I ever spent more on a single new comics publication than I did when I purchased the Spirit Archives #1 for darn near $50. I had foolishly thought I'd get these as they came out, but I lost my job a couple of months later and that plan went out the window. I'd still dearly love to have a set of these.

OK, that's it for now. Check back later for reviews.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Random thoughts, because I care.

I haven't decided if I'll try to get down to Bowling Green for FCBD yet...there are only a couple of titles that I'm interested in anyway. I had thought I might go down and pick up my copy of Romance Redux with the Bob Fleming script, and perhaps get the new Flaming Lips, which I'm dying to hear in its entirety after watching Fearless Freaks last night. Plus, they usually have a lot of vinyl available for cheap. I have to go out and about tomorrow anyway, so we shall see what we shall see!

I've accumulated a humongous stack of un-reviewed comics over there in the living room, as well...I've had 'em all read since Tuesday or so, except for a couple of stories in the Escapist trade which I'll go finish here in a minute, so time permitting I might try to get them batted out before I go to bed on Sunday night.

And no, I haven't forgotten Beowulf #'s 5 & 6. Soon, my pretties, soon. Nor have I forgotten my long-promised over/review of Hammer Locke, either but don't hold your breath for that- for some reason that comic just won't let me wrestle it down to the ground and defies my best intentions.

Van Morrison's on CMT right now, performing songs from his latest Country & Western influenced album. Actually, what I've heard doesn't sound too bad, despite the fact that once more he's singing lyrics about how badly he's been treated. Please. Anyways, the backing musicians kinda give the songs I've heard a Tupelo Honey/His Band kinda vibe. Now he's doing a tune that reminds me of when Elvis Costello tried to do the honkytonkin thang via Almost Blue. Oh well.

I finally finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell; loved its period feel and its interesting characters, along with Ms. Clarke's graceful writing style...but the ending felt kinda rushed and arbitrary, lacking any real sort of resonance or sense that anything of consequence happened. Somewhat disappointing, but still a fine read. I tried to resume Cryptonomicon, but soon gave up and picked Kavalier and Clay back up, and that's what I'm trying to finish now. I placed an order with back in January for Sandy Denny and Bert Jansch bios, along with a CD- I got the CD a month ago, and the Denny book is still pending...but they notified me that the Jansch was out of print and they couldn't get any copies through their sources, so I guess I'm shit outta luck unless I run across one on eBay or one of Amazon's Marketplace sellers. Feh. I'm considering taking the money and getting The Essential Taj Mahal. Mahal is a blues guy that has interested me lately, after viewing a bit of the Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus DVD, in which he got one spotlight performance, and two more in the bonuses, and they all kick ass. Plus, I've been hearing the odd cut on internet radio. Of such is obsession borned, my friends.

All right, that's enough. Ta for now. Be good, and be good to each other.
"New" Replacements album!

Well, yeah, it's another best-of, but unlike Warners' All for Nothing, Nothing for All it at least has a handful of TwinTone cuts to go along with the Sire-era tracks. And it features two recently recorded cuts by Paul, Tommy and Chris Mars...wonder what Slim Dunlop was doing?

Here's a tracklist:

"Takin a Ride"
"Shiftless When Idle"
"Kids Don't Follow"
"Color Me Impressed"
"Within Your Reach"
"I Will Dare"
"Answering Machine"
"Here Comes a Regular"
"Kiss Me on the Bus"
"Bastards of Young"
"Left of the Dial"
"Alex Chilton"
"Can't Hardly Wait"
"Achin' To Be"
"I'll Be You"
"Merry Go Round"
"Message to the Boys"
"Pool & Dive"

Well, of course I could nitpick, but this isn't a bad lineup for a single CD. I wish they could have found room for "Dope Smokin' Moron", "Androgynous", "Waitress in the Sky", "Swingin' Party", "Sixteen Blue", "The Ledge"... oh well, I guess everyone could make their own list. Some of the best times I had in the late 80's were with the 'Mats in the background or in a couple of instances onstage, and I still get all nostalgic about them. They'll probably never get back together, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

At left is the first cover for a recently-announced project that I'm excited about: AGENTS OF ATLAS, a six-issue limited series that assembles a handful of pre-Marvel heroes, such as Marvel Boy, the Gorilla Man, The Human Robot...and someone you may have heard me go on and on about before: VENUS!

Once more, the Comic Book Goddess of Love will strut her seductive stuff as a member of the Agents, and that makes me very happy. At right is an uncolored page in which she does her supernatural thing on the Yellow Claw's soldiers, by Leonard Kirk. Oh, all right, I'll talk about some of the other members- I'm pleased to see Jimmy Woo make a comeback; I always thought he was a very interesting character back in the long-gone Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. days. Of course, you couldn't have the Claw without Woo! I remember reading a couple of old Bill Everett Marvel Boy reprints in Marvel Tales or one of those reprint comics that they put out in the 60's, and they were excellent. Don't know much of anything about the other two, other than when they appeared in the excrucuatingly convoluted Avengers Forever (in which Carlos Pacheco gave us the second-best rendition of Miss V. Nutley Starr ever), and honestly I don't remember much about them. Their names pretty much are self-explanatory, I guess. If anybody can make them interesting, I think it's Mr. Parker, who's been doing solid work at the House that Jack Built for a good while now. And Kirk, last seen getting underwhelming notices here at the Show due to his bland stint on JSA, which I stopped buying not long after he left, appears to have been practicing- this page and the others in the Newsarama article look a hundred times more vibrant than anything he did before. Well, anything I've seen, anyway.

Anyways, back to the Goddess. Here are some of the other posts I've done involving her. At left is the cover of the comic that I touched upon briefly in one of them- #16, which featured that incredibly strange story about the 13th floor of a skyscraper and the weird-ass alien creatures that were making life miserable for everyone that had the misfortune to be stuck there, including our heroine. Even though Everett's rocket-propelled gargoyles are a bit too cartoony to be really frightening, I think it was just the idea of people being trapped on a building's floor that doesn't exist and being tormented that stayed with the attraction of Everett's art, of course, and his ability to make it more troubling that it probably should have been. I've only read one or two other Venus stories, would love to read more, even the earlier, romance/fantasy ones. A collection would sure be nice, but I won't stand on one leg waiting. It's no coincidence that she reminds me a lot of actress Priscilla Lane, another longtime obsession favorite of mine- even though I'd think that they had someone more glamorous than Pat when they created her. Still, Venus' adventures were published in the late 40's-early 50's, a period of time which has become very attractive (despite the WWII shadow throughout the decade) via films on Turner Classic, and I'm sure that's another reason why I like the character so much.

A couple of other links:

AoA artist Leonard Kirk's blog;

Venus' Wikipedia entry;

Again, the Venus page from the Atlas Tales website; and

a Marvel Universe-style site that has this Venus entry, featuring a chronology of her appearances, and is accompanied by two really poor non-Everett illustrations of the character.

I'm no Mike Sterling, that's for sure...but I hope you enjoy these.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On to lighter subjects- yesterday I received a package from Oni Press, containing many fine things (including a B&W preview of B. Clay Moore's latest, The Leading Man...good stuff) that i will write about a) at a later date, and b) after I've read 'em all! One thing that I got and have already read, and enjoyed very much, was their contribution to the upcoming Free Comic Book Day, Free Scott Pilgrim! and it was great fun, serving as a kinda-sorta introduction to the character, as well as a kinda-sorta continuation of the ongoing "Scott vs. Ramona's 7 Evil Ex-Boyfriends" plot. Scott, Ramona and Wallace Wells are en route to see Brokeback Mountain (Well, actually it's called "the gay cowboy movie", but you know what they mean), and after Scott takes forever and a day to choose what kind of soda he wants, they walk down an alley past posters of teenstar Winifred Haily...when suddenly, seven Winifreds leap out from the posters with the intent to do our boy bodily harm! It's as charming and off-the-wall as the previous two Pilgrim GNs have been, and it has me looking forward to the third even more eagerly. If it ever comes out, that is...

It's paired with a new feature, "The Aggressive Adventures of Fearless Griggs" by Andy Helms, which is strongly influenced by the more out-there Mignola stuff (and I know that's saying something) like The Amazing Screw-On Head and Rusty Razorclam. A graphic novel is forthcoming from Oni, and could be worth watching out for. Hopefully, Griggs (or his editor) will keep a better eye out for typos when it does...
I'm really slack as a member of the Comics Blogosphere, I know. I rarely, if ever, report or comment on the pertinent issues affecting that most insular of worlds, and while I never really claimed to be Tom Spurgeon or Heidi MacDonald, and have pretty much adhered to the "writing about stuff I like, and passing it on to you" code, I think I would be remiss if I didn't point you to the Mighty Spurge's roundup of linkage and commentary to the biggest issue of the day, the whole Mid-Ohio Incident story, including the bombshell revelation of the Ms. Soma's alleged assailaint's name. It's a temporary link, so if you're one of the two or three people out there that hasn't read it, you should.

Myself, I am cursed with perpetual fence-sitting instincts, and more often as not rationalize anything of this nature with a "There's two sides to every story, and usually the truth falls somewhere in between" sort of approach. Certainly, setting up a fund to help with costs accrued while seeking justice for improper conduct on anybody's part is a worthy one, but there's a lot of angles to this particular trapezoid, and I prefer to remain non-partial.

See why I never opine on these things?

Monday, May 01, 2006

No time or energy for anything substantial tonight, ("And how is that different from any night?" Someone from the back shouts- shaddap, you) but I wanted to hep you all to the fact that my latest New Comics Revue is up over at PopCultureShock.

Most of the reviews there have already appeared here, but I threw three new ones in just to keep everybody honest, like they do when they put unreleased songs on greatest-hits albums.