Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm sure many of you already know about this, but I figured I'd pass it on anyway- a site called Humorous Maximus has begun posting Steve Canyon daily strips on their site as of last Sunday. It's a great opportunity to get in on the start of one of the truly classic comics of yesteryear, drawn in that gorgeous 1940's style by Milton Caniff (and Dick Rockwell) that you just don't see all that much in mainstream comics, with the exception of the likes of Timm, Cooke, Glines, J. Bone, Ronnie Del Carmen, and perhaps a few others who are into that old-school magazine-style illustration. Go here to start at the beginning, and admire the storytelling chops of that first Sunday page which was more than a little groundbreaking at the time.

I grew up in the mid-late 60's, just as the Canyon strip was beginning to get a little played out- and I remember reading it but not being any more impressed with it than I was, oh, Captain Easy or some of the other adventure strips I'd seen in the Louisville Courier-Journal and Times. I also never got around to picking up any of the reprints from Kitchen Sink. Over the last few years, I've become very interested in this era and this style of cartooning, and so I'm looking forward to catching up with these slices of history. Now, if it only had an RSS or Atom feed, so I could read it via Bloglines...

Oh, and by the way, just like the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (pick your year- 1956, 1978, 1993), I switched over to New Blogger on Sunday evening. The transformation was relatively quick and mostly painless. So far, I really haven't noticed too many differences, one exception being the "manage posts" section now allows me to easily access all my previous posts, instead of having to enter extra code in the browser URL window above. Maybe someday I'll even get around to re-posting the images I'm missing from 2004!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

In which I opine in regards to various works of sequential fiction I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted my opinions upon one and all, or to be specific, from approximately 13 to 27 January, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide.

S: Jeff Parker; A: Leonard Kirk, Kris Justice, Terry Pallot. (Marvel, $2.99)

In which Mr. Parker does a smashing, if slightly convoluted, job of explaining everything that's happened in the past five issues (and even provides a little redemption for the Yellow, I mean Golden, Claw), leaving everything set and ready for...the ongoing that unfortunately looks like it will not be forthcoming. Sales haven't been great, you see. Hopefully we'll get a trade that will sell more robustly, but that's never a given. Oh well, many of my all-time favorite series have been six issues or less in their runs, and while I don't know whether this one will joining them in that fabled number, I do know that this has been a good read overall and shame on those who haven't been buying for whatever reason. A-

S: Grant Morrison; A: Frank Quitely (DC, $2.99)

Nice rebound from what I thought was a disappointing issue 5, as we get an typically Morrisonian encounter between Young Superman (with Krypto!) and the Superman Squad, comprised of three future Men of Steel. We see the touching aftermath of the death of Pa Kent, as Grant proves once more that he can jerk a tear as well as he can jerk anything else. A little Invisibles joke there, please forgive. And once more Quitely proves that he is still Morrison's best collaborator, as adept in illustrating his author's flights of fancy just as well as the more down-to-earth aspects of his scripts...it's often the smaller details that impress me, like the panel on page 16 which shows the Superman of A.D. 853,500 calmly standing there, holding Krypto at bay by the neck, informing the reader of the tragedy about to happen while young Clark is fighting a hopeless battle. He also excels depicting the opening scene, in which Clark and Krypto play fetch the tree. Quitely's Krypto couldn't help but make me recall WE3's Bandit. Anyway, outstanding job this time out, go buy, etc... A

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

This issue, Cloonan only does the first few pages and turns over the reins to Norrie (whose work I've enjoyed in the past, especially inked by J.Bone on Bad Girls), in service to a flashback account of Adam's childhood/teenage years, and if you're invested in this perpetually up-and-down title you'll be interested. If not, well, your interest will vary. Couldn't help but be reminded of Boom!'s Talent in the opening scenes which feature our protagonist underwater after a plane crash, and encountering (again) the ghost of his obsessed-over girlfriend. I also liked the colorful (despite not actually featuring all that many colors) and attention-getting cover by Joshua Middleton. You may recall that I got bored with waiting for this to adopt a stance and a point, and decided to drop it from my DCBS order list. This was interesting enough to make me think I might have been hasty...I guess I have a couple of weeks to decide if I want to continue getting it at my LCS. B-

S: Will Pfiefer; A: David and Alvaro Lopez. (DC, $2.99)

No big earth-shattering concepts, just Selina wishing to get auxiliary Catwoman Holly's name cleared and having to make a deal with a devil to do so. Low-key concept-wise, but solid as usual in the characterization and dialogue department- one of the few things I've come to like about the recent DC Universe is the reclamation job done on the Calculator, former goofball costumed villain turned anti-Oracle information broker. Artwise, not bad- very slick and professional, and maybe I'm still seeing All-Star Superman, but I could swear David L. has been studying a little Quitely in his layout style. B+

S: Jason McNamara; A: Tony Talbert. (AiT/PlanetLar, $12.95)

I wasn't especially impressed with this duo's previous graphic novel Continuity, so I'm pleased to report that this feature-length hey, wouldn't it be cool-if... tale about the disappearance of the first English colony at Roanoke, Virginia is a definite step up. McNamara seems to have a better handle on writing speculative historical fiction than he does Sci-Fi, even if it comes across sometimes as M. Night Shyamalan's remake of Teen Wolf, and it maintains a tense and thankfully smirk-free tone throughout. My biggest issue with Continuity was Talbert's art, and it looks like he's been practicing- although his take on anatomy is idiosyncratic at best, to be kind. On the plus side, the tendency towards sloppiness is much less evident- I only noticed a couple of pages with unintentionally disconnected panel borders, for example. This time out, his Tom Sutton-meets-Paul Pope style sometimes evokes woodcuts, and he does a good job of matching facial expressions with the emotions being portrayed...something even the best of today's illustrators have difficulty with. It certainly seems like some nascent synergy is being born between the writer and artist, and maybe we should be looking forward to seeing what they do next. A-

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Jordi Bernet. (DC, $2.99)

Now hold on thar just a gosh-darn minute! Did Hex get his messed-up mug from a Yankee soldier's whip (#13), or did he get it from the red-hot tomahawk of a Native American? Both, looks like. Anyway, this whole "(Fill in the adjective of your choice) origin of Hex" thing has kinda felt convoluted and padded, and only the joy of getting three whole books worth of Bernet art has made it worthwhile. This issue brings it full circle, as Hex gets James Brown-style payback on the Union Colonel who slaughtered his Apache tribesmen and ordered his disfigurement, and very little of it sticks in the memory when it's done. But boy, it shore looked real purty. B

S/A: Paul Grist. (Image, $16.99)

Good news: This collection (missing, for some reason, issue #30) now has brought me up to speed on Kane, a rarity for me in that I don't own a single issue of the series- I've read it all in trade paperback collection format. Didn't discover Grist until Jack Staff, y'see, and finding back issues was problematic. More great quirky crime fiction, featuring Grist's typically wry humor (a hit man who disguises himself as a blind man complete with shades and walking stick, named "Murdoch") and lots of great characterization, most notably Kane's young partner Felix and her interaction with the Godfather-esque (in more ways than one) Oscar Darke. And of course, Grist's daredevil storytelling style, with lots of back and forth time-switching and excellent blackspotting. Bad news: #31 was the last issue of the original run, and it ends on a cliffhanger that may or may not get resolved- depending on whether or not Grist follows up on his stated intent to resume Kane as a series of graphic novels. Also: Paul, we get it. We understand that Kane accidentally shot his partner and the other cops on the force don't like him for it. Please stop referring to it every ten pages or so. Once at the beginning should be enough. The good far outweighs the not-so-good, so here's a admittedly biased A.

S: Jim Massey; A: Robbi Rodriguez. (Oni Press, advance review copy)

As I said before, these, the exploits of two janitors who clean up the messes at a evil scientist research lab, aren't exactly Significant Comics, but they are a heck of a lot of fun and very well drawn by Rodriguez, in an expressive Disneyesque style. Recommended, if you like strong concepts well executed, or if you just plain old like fun. Who doesn't like fun? Besides mainstream DC and Marvel writers and readers, that is. A-

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

Andreyko steadfastly refuses to get his courtroom drama right, but his characterization is typically strong and that carries the day. In fact, for the first time, I think he did almost as good a job with Chase and her backstory as D.C. Johnson, heresy I know. Artwise, fine, but as usual neither penciller has anything even remotely resembling a distinctive style, and not even the capable brush of Riggs can help. I thought that was Blue Beetle on the cover, not Red Herring. And oh, by the way, did you know this book has been canned again? B+

S: Garth Ennis; A: Chris Sprouse, Joe Phillips, Karl Story. (DC/WildStorm, $2.99)

Midnighter's still in WWI, trying to kill Hitler to save his own life, and gets interrupted by a group of Time Police or somesuch, giving us some diverting battle scenes and some fun back-and-forth between Mr. M and squad leader "Sergeant Bitch", who provides a much-needed foil. Not bad, but geez Louise, does the abrupt switch from Sprouse art to that of the infinitely less talented Joe Phillips mid-story give me eyestrain, no matter how hard Story inks him up. B+

S: Brian Michael Bendis; A: Michael Avon Oeming. (Marvel/Icon, $2.95)

Another intense chapter in this storyline, which has done a lot to restore the lustre of this series, which definitely had hit a valley prior to this arc's inception. A lot of this is due to Avon Oeming, and his storytelling choices- he enhances, rather than merely illustrates, Bendis' script and in the hands of a lesser artist, this wouldn't be nearly as good as it is. So far. A

S: Darwyn Cooke; A: Cooke, Jason Bone. (DC, $2.99)

A substantial improvement over #1, as we get Cooke's idea of a backstory for P'Gell, longtime femme fatale for the Spirit, and it's acceptable as far as I'm concerned. Knowing she's capable of such violence kinda diminishes her glamour a little, but by providing some background on how she came to be what she is gives her an extra dimension that Eisner either didn't care to provide or never thought to, whichever works best for you. More disconcerting to me Cooke's idea of the Ellen Dolan/Denny Colt relationship; hardly a deal-breaker, but it's just odd to this long-time reader of all things Spirit to see them hanging out together watching TV, sans mask, and Ellen calling him "Mr. Colt". A nice Eisnerish touch is the Hussein character, who isn't what he appears to be and provides a neat twist at the end. Cooke and Bone's art is still the main attraction as far as I'm concerned; Their P'Gell has that same 1948 thick-line era Eisner voluptiousness, and layouts and figure drawings are excellent as always. Cooke has a hard act to live up to; I can begrudge him his little improvements a la Kitchen Sink's New Adventures as long as he doesn't lapse into Chester Gould territory again, as with #1. A-

S: Christos Gage; A: Doug Mahnke. (DC/WildStorm, $2.99)

The clever cover evokes memories of Ocean's Eleven, but the interiors are strictly early-90's Brandon Choi/Jim Lee all over again as we get more imitation Alien critters (you remember, "Daemonites" with that extra "a" just 'cause it sounds kewler)and super-baddies who call themselves Claremont-style pretentious names like "Defile" and "Decadence". Ugh. Sole saving grace remains Mahnke's art, which of course you all know I like a lot, and makes it mostly worth the while...but as always, others' mileage may vary. C+

S: Rick Remender; A; Micah Farritor. (Image, $3.50)

Hard to believe that I found this character and her scenario interesting once up on a time. This series has resolutely declined to go in anything resembling an interesting direction, and has especially gotten bogged down lately with its Dante's Inferno-inspired storyline and all its attendant wannabe-shocking unpleasantness. It never ceases to amaze me how many new artists they keep coming up with that draw in the exact same style- Farritor isn't much different from Stakal or Nguyen or even Opena, and while a certain continuity is welcome it provides a cookie-cutter vibe that makes these events even less interesting than they already are. It's time for me to say sayonara, I think, and you can't say I didn't give it a fair trial. C-

S: David Lapham, Brian Azzarello; A: Eric Battle, Prentiss Rollins, Cliff Chiang. (DC, $3.99)

There's something about Batman-Spectre encounters that I always find compelling, no matter how poorly they may be done, and this one's no exception. Even though it's still that imbicilic Crispus Allen Spectre...I guess the resolute, stern natures of both characters strike sparks, or something. This time out, the artists appear to be trying to ape Astro City's Brent Anderson, hardly an improvement over the faux early-90's-Image style that they used previously. So while this may be the best Spec story in this run yet, I still have little desire to reread it. No, the main attraction remains the Doc Thirteen story, which is as silly as ever but at least it's not dull, and Chiang's art is solid as always. Cover-wise, it's a nice nostalgia rush to see another Berni Wrightson take on the Spectre, even if the lame-ass Crispus Allen version. B-

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Found via ¡Journalista!: the website of LAURA LOGAN, who has a gallery full of wonderful (mostly) children's book illustrations. As someone who has always had a passing interest in, and a passing interest in doing art for (mostly thanks to my wife, who would be self-publishing like crazy if I could just muster up the wherewithal to draw her stories) kids' books, I like her work very much- especially the pieces done in watercolor on textured watercolor paper, a medium I like a lot but always looks awful in my eyes when I do it.

Anyway, ignore my whining and go check out her work. It's good stuff.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Everybody's having a lot of fun with this image, or pehaps fun mixed with apprehension and perhaps even anticipation in some circles.

You know me, can't care less about mainstream DC stuff these days, as my non-participation in all the Countdown to 52 Infinite Identity Crises kerfluffle shows.

But I can't help but want to join in on all the commentary, so here goes:

First, I am reminded of Colorforms. Anybody remember those?

Second, I think Superman is a DOG, and is just trying to get his face stuck in Wonder Woman's cleavage. Those are crocodile tears, man.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Another art blog discovery: The misleadingly-titled This Sucks, by Lauren Montgomery, who works in animation, and is currently on the Avatar: The Last Airbender series for Nickelodeon, as is evidenced by the above sketch.

Longtime readers may recall that I am quite the admirer of the animated adventures of Aang and friends, but it's been frigging forever since I've seen an episode, due to getting home too late from work and never thinking to look for reruns at other times. In fact, I've only seen two or three episodes from the second season...and as soon as I reactivate my Netflix subscription I'll probably rent the whole set to get up to speed. Anyways, lots of interesting art to be found at Miz Montgomery's, including a new Harley Quinn illo.

Don't have a gorilla suit handy, so I guess I'll be a non-participant in National Gorilla Suit Day. But hey, it was inspired by the great Don Martin, and Mark Evanier is the main proponent, so it's OK by me.

Len Wein has a very funny gorilla suit-inspired joke here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Above you will see a page (click, it gets biggerer) by Michael (Daredevil, Gotham Central) Lark, from the miniseries he did with Ed Brubaker called Scene of the Crime. I thought that was a hell of a read, and it gets better in my memory as time goes by. Between this and the Terminal City series, it also made me a fan of his art, which I remain to this day.

Which is a long-winded way of letting you know that Lark has a MySpace page, in which he has started to periodically post art in the blog section- and I thought you guys might like to know about it. And now you do.

Powers' Mike Avon Oeming also posts a lot of work in different media to his MySpace blog page. So why not check it out, too? Don't forget to click back through the archives.
Looks like they've cancelled The Boys. I am a little at a loss to describe how I feel about that.

On the one hand, it was Garth Ennis doing more of That Thing He Does, without fail, and That Thing was getting stale not even before Hitman wrapped. I had no doubt that we'd have some sort of military subplot before its run was through.

On the other hand, self-derivative as it was, at least Ennis was trying a little, just a little, to give his characters a few shades of color besides black and white and blood red...and that had me interested.

I'm also a little surprised that they'd give Garth the bum's rush like that; he's long removed from his Preacher/Hitman glory days, but I thought he was a big enough name to still get some slack from the Powers That Be.

Oh well, that's three bucks I can spend on something else. I'm sure that there will be more to come on this story...

And sure enough, I was right!

Found at the Beat is Ennis' response:

It's become obvious to all concerned that The Boys should never have been published at DC, and to their credit they?re working hard to release the rights so that Darick and I can find the book a new home. We're already looking at offers from a number of publishers, and plan to return with #7 and the first trade collection in a matter of a few months.

Well, that takes care of that!

Reviews are coming soon, I pwomise. Humor me and act like that's good news, OK?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Haven't posted any good art links lately, so here goes. Both were found via the recently updated Project:Rooftop, which I'd contribute something to if 1.) they'd let me; (which is NOT to say that they wouldn't if I actually submitted something, sorry about that, Chris) and 2.) if I had enough imagination to re-design anything.

Eric Canete.

Chad Thomas, who did that neato-keeno Gambit redo that everybody linked to today. That's Street Angel up there. Remember her?

Oh to be young and talented and posessed of a work ethic...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Here's a little follow-up to my post the other day about the upcoming Cool McCool DVD set: the title sequence, which shows most of the villains and has that neat theme song. Don't know why I didn't think to look for this on YouTube earlier!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A couple of books I've read recently and haven't opined upon:

S: Dave Roman; A: Jason Ho, Roman, Raina Telgemeier, Jeff Zornow, Jen Wang. (Slave Labor, $10.95)

Four stories, augmented with a couple of text-with-illustration reference and diary excerpt-type pieces, about a young girl who functions kinda like TV's Ghost Whisperer, or Haley Joe Osment's Sixth Sense character in that she can (whispery tone here) "see dead people" and helps people both living and dead with any sort of ghostly or weird-type scrapes. It also reminds me a bit of the late, lamented Leave it to Chance, with its youthful adventurer angle. The first feature is drawn by Ho in a nice approximation of Jill Thompson's style, but the story itself didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Next up is an account of Agnes helping out the ghost of a little girl who's being pursued by an apparent monster; Raina Telgemeier's art makes it very charming and a little touching. The third tale starts out with a clever idea, as our heroine helps out a philandering young fellow who is cursed to be pursued by his zombie-fied ex-wives, something I'm surprised Boom! Studios' writer team didn't think of already. That story is grafted on to another, with Agnes getting involved with a race of underground dwellers who burn if exposed to sunlight- and it's OK but reminded me a lot of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere...which may explain why the young man/underground dweller she encounters is named Niel (sic). It's passable, and well drawn by Zornow, whose style looks like Ian Gibson crossed with Duncan Fregredo. Roman himself writes and draws a tale of an encounter with a poltergeist, which is fast paced and not terribly predictable, and ends on an amusing note. Text pieces and an artist's gallery finish out the volume, with Jen Wang's art an unsurprising highlight of the former- her expressive faces are outstanding. But I've known that for a long time now. Agnes is a bit of a mixed bag; when the art and scripts are in sync, they're very involving even when the plot doesn't quite fit together like it should, and the lead character is likeable, with an underdeveloped but interesting supporting cast. I'd like to see more- I'm just a sucker for young-girl adventure tales I guess (cf. Alison Dare, Leave it to Chance, and others I can't remember offhand. A complete story illo'd by Wang would be nice, too... A-

S/A: R. Kikuo Johnson. (Fantagraphics, $12.95)

A major disappointment. Other than a few spot illustrations here and there, I had not been exposed to Johnson's work before, but I liked what I saw- he has a naturalistic, nicely inked, Paul Pope-meets-David Mazzuchelli style that just looks good to the eye as well as the mind, and if not for his art this would be a total disaster. A static, bone-dry (autobiographical?) account of a young high school kid in Hawaii, who lives with his well-meaning but distracted and ineffectual Dad, who falls in with the wrong kind of crowd and gets mixed up with drugs and crime, you'd think that this would be a lively narrative- but nothing could be farther from that than this. There's no cause, no effect, no moral, nothing. Things just happen for several pages, in a sort of ABC Afterschool Special kind of way, not especially interesting or exciting things, either...and then they just stop when the book stops. If I was supposed to experience some sort of epiphany or some sort of conclusion, well, I didn't. Perhaps this is just yet another instance in which I totally missed the point, (Nilsson to the contrary, sometimes things need a point, says I, otherwise why exist at all?) but, if there was one it was well hidden, obvious only to those whose intelligence and perception outstrip mine. Just because the protagonist is apathetic to the verge of being comatose in your account doesn't excuse a similar attitude by the author. Anyway, there are delights to be found in Johnson's artwork, as I said, despite his incongruous pretension towards reference-manual illustration work (the knot diagrams, for example, or the native flora) so it's worth getting if you're a fan of good art. That said, next time, I hope Johnson bothers to find a story to draw. C+

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I've been looking through the new Marvel solicitations for April, and was somewhat disappointed to note that I will only be getting two of them: Daredevil and Immortal Iron Fist. However, I also noticed this suh-weet cover by Mike Golden for Heroes for Hire #9. Unfortunately, I won't be buying because, as you may recall from my previous post, I have decided to drop that title. I would pick it up again if Golden drew it, but alas that's not the case.

The DC solicits, on the other hand, despite being (as usual) full of 52 tie-ins and other stuff that interests me not in the slightest, manages to boast a few more titles of which I will be partaking. The cover above is not one of them, but it's Philip Bond, don'tcha know, and I like it. No interest in The Exterminators, though. Perhaps if Bond drew the interiors...

Also, if I had the cash I'd but that GOLDEN AGE DR. FATE ARCHIVES VOL. 1 HC, because as I was saying the other day, reading the original Doc Fate tales when I was a kid made a deep impression on me. The stories by Gardner Fox, written in a dry, arid, matter-of-fact style (somewhat similar to his far more wordy early 60's style that everyone's more familiar with), and the frankly stiff and posed Howard Sherman art conjured up, if you'll excuse the expression, a real mood and somewhat creepy vibe on impressionable 12-year-old me, who was exposed to these stories in reprints (you remember, the JLA with Johnny Dune from a few posts back) and 80-page giants like this one, which sports one of my favorite covers- an Adams wraparound, to boot. Later Doc Fate exploits have left me cold, mostly, although I will admit a soft spot, on top of my head, for the Jared Stevens Fate. Not the one Giffen wrote, but the Kaminski one. I know, I know.

I was also a teensy bit dismayed to note that MANHUNTER #30 is being advertised as the final issue. I wasn't aware that the resurrection was going to be this short in duration! Guess they didn't get the sales bump they wanted after all, despite everyone's best efforts. Oh well, it was nice to see a regular venue for Chase, if nothing else, and even if it wasn't by D.C. Johnson and J.H. Williams- but I won't miss it all that much. Hell, I still miss Losers a lot more.

There are a few more noteworthy entries, such as a collection of the first few issues of THE ALL-NEW ATOM, this being titled VOL. 1: MY LIFE IN MINIATURE, which I am intrigued by against my better judgment; and the clumsily-titled THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES IN THE 31st CENTURY #1, which sports art by Chynna Clugston-Flores, fresh from Teen Titans. Her art makes this interesting. She won't be doing further issues, though, from what I understand and she didn't do the cover you saw if click on the link. Guess it will be a game time decision.

Aaaand, that's it!

My new comics haul, arriving (hopefully) Friday evening, from DCBS.

I'm eagerly awaiting that Kane TPB; this will be the second Image volume of Kane stories I haven't read- I read all the Dancing Elephant collections, because I stupidly didn't pick the singles up when they came out ages ago. In a lot of ways, Kane is Paul Grist's best work.

I've already read that Unexpected, thanks to the fine folks at the Scans_Daily LJ community. I tried to stop myself, honest.

All-Star Superman is always a welcome sight in my shipment list, as is the much-improved recently Powers. Darwyn Cooke gets another chance to win me over on his Spirit with #2. If anyone besides Eisner was born to draw P'Gell, Cooke is the one. I'm also looking forward to seeing how Mr. Parker ties up Agents of Atlas; I've noticed some discontent with this issue among the mostly postive word-of-mouth about the series; I reserve judgement.

These issues of Strange Girl and American Virgin will be my last; I recently decided to do some trimming of my regular buys and I decided I wasn't enjoying these enough to keep plunking down the coin for 'em. I also axed the disappointing Heroes For Hire and Wisdom, although I haven't ruled out picking up the next 2 or 3 issues of the latter at my LCS.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Stuff from hither and thither:

A story, completely stolen from Chris Weston's blog, as related by Garth Ennis:

So a mate of mine was telling me last night about a pal of his who went to a U2 gig recently, and in the middle of it Bono- or "some cunt wearing shades indoors" as my friend put it- starts clapping his hands, slowly, about one clap every second. "I just want you to know," he says, "that every time I clap my hands, a baby dies in Africa."

To which some wag in the audience shouts, "Well for fuck's sake, Bono, stop clapping!".

Best laugh I've had all week.

If they ever decide to do another Watchmen, God forbid, they should at least get Weston to draw it. His style would be perfect.

I started to post the rattin' frattin' MySpace videohere, but t'was huger than huge. So please go here to see a fun video of Mike Scott and a recent incarnation of the Waterboys having a little jam session, described on the page as

Mike, Steve and Richard playing an impromptu music session in the famous Hughes's Bar in Spiddal, Connemara, Ireland with Sharon Shannon, Charlie Lennon and Chris Madden. Filmed by Johnny Turps on a day off on the Waterboys Irish tour, November 2004.

Also featuring, towards the end, a version of "Hey Jude". Wish Scott would just do a Beatles covers album and be done with it...bet it would be stellar.

Crossposted from the LJ, by the way.

More links:

Lackadaisy, quite possibly the best Prohibition-era speakeasy-and-gangsters-story-starring-cute-kittens comic in the history of same. Drawn in an expressive, gorgeously-sepia-toned style by one Tracy J. Butler.

One of my favorite Neil Young albums, hell, one of my favorite albums (on a very long list) period, is 1973's shambolic live-with-minimal overdubs Time Fades Away. Fades was recorded on the tour that came after his best-selling Harvest LP (you know, "Heart of Gold", "Old Man", et cetera), in which Mr. Young chose to perform (and record for subsequent release) a handful of previously unreleased songs rather than play the hits, causing widespread confusion among those coming to be charmed by another rendition of "Gold" ad infinitum. For a pretty good description of the chaos that ensued, go here, for the Wiki entry.

Also in that Wiki, you'll see a link to a petition that the ThrashersWheat website folks have set up in the hopes of getting Mr. Young to approve an official CD release, a la his long-overdue recent reissue of On the Beach. Why not go here, click on the link, and add your name?

In other JB-related Neil news, I am proud of myself for not only figuring out how to play "Tell Me Why" from After the Gold Rush on guitar, but the haunting tune "Little Wing", from 1980's Hawks and Doves as well. I won't hurt my arm patting myself on the back.

Yeah, I'm off work today. Why do you ask? We get a day off during the month of our birthday, and I took mine today. Perish forbid that we would actually get MLK day off...

Go here to check out Lunchbox Funnies, a "new comics collective featuring some of the finest all-ages comics on the internet!" Featuring, among others, Dean (Butterfly) Trippe and Dave (Agatha Quill) Roman. Which reminds me, I haven't reviewed Quill yet. Soon, my pretties, soon. C'mon, humor me, at least try to act like you care...

Another new comics creating collective is the Sugarskull Comics Collective. Most interesting so far promises to be Sarah Davis' (ironically?) bright-colored The Awakened.

Here's another list that I don't/can't belong to, but if you're planning on relocating to a metropolitan area you might find it interesting. Can't believe there aren't any listings for the Nashville area; the aforementioned Mr. Trippe being one that comes to mind.

OK, that's all I got for now. If I run across anything else, I'll add it. Have a good day, everyone.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

In which I opine in regards to various works of sequential fiction I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted my opinions upon one and all, or to be specific, from approximately 2 to 12 January, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide.

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Daniel Acuna. (DC, $2.99)

There's still a lot that I like about this title: Graymiotti's Uncle Sam, Acuna's getting-better-every-issue art, and this issue's nifty tie-in with Grant Morrison's Frankenstein. But boy, is this storyline getting repetitive, with what seems to be an endless loop of battle, cliffhanger, escape, talk talk talk, battle, cliffhanger, etc. becoming the template. We also get a dumb scene with Phantom Lady and Black Condor, and an arbitrary betrayal that comes from out of left field somewhere. This reads like a nice 4-issue limited series that has been stretched out to 8. B-

S: Paul Dini; A: Kyle Baker. (Dark Horse, $2.99)

This is so likeable that I feel like a heel for quibbling about how Baker's art has continued to devolve into a sloppy Sergio Aragones imitation, where it used to be a sloppy Mort Drucker imitation, and that makes me sad. But he still knows how to tell a story, and Dini provides a charming script. So charming, in fact, that I feel like a heel for quibbling about how he's pulled the "Jing learns to appreciate her old man's job and by extension the true meaning of Christmas" thing out of his lovely wife's hat at least once before. I've not sampled The Bakers, but the scenes that I assume are indicative of how Baker does them were as fun as they were supposed to be. Not makes-me-wanna-go-out-and-buy fun, but fun. I think I woulda liked this more if I had gotten it before Christmas, but I liked it just the same despite giving off a Flintstones Meet the Jetsons kinda vibe- because it's fun. And likeable. And stuff. A-

S: Garth Ennis; A: Darick Robertson (DC/Wildstorm, $2.99)

Same old Garth, with hamster jokes front and center. But this comic's saving grace, and what keeps me buying, is the suggestion (as I noted a couple of issues ago) that perhaps the "good guys" (Butcher & Co.) aren't any more noble or moral or even better than the "bad guys" (all the "Supes"), and the central character Wee Hughie is getting played- for what reason I don't know yet, but I didn't buy a word of that sad story Butcher gave him as a reason for his hatred of the super-people. Guess we'll wait and see, but kudos to Garth for at least raising the shadow of a doubt. B

S: Ed Brubaker; A: Sean Phillips. (Marvel/Icon, $2.99)

Leo and Greta hide out and deal with the aftermath of last issue's botched robbery, sitting unconfortably on top of 32 kilos of smack. Leo's a sharp cookie, for sure, but you just know lots of people are gonna die before this is done, and my money's on Ivan first. Even though there's a sort of fatalistic inevitability about it, Brubaker has so far been up to the task of wringing all the drama and tension possible out of the situation, and Phillips' art has never been better. This is Good Comics, kids. A

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

Another holiday-themed story that I didn't get until after the 25th. In case you were wondering how Santa Claus fits into this elaborate tapestry that Willingham has going on, well, wonder no further. Basically a series of ongoing plot-advancing vignettes, with the Jolly Fat Man playing a central role in many of them- and the interlude with the Frog Prince aka "Flycatcher" is quite touching. Another clever, solid issue. A-

S: Will Pfiefer; A: David and Alvaro Lopez. (DC, $2.99)

Truth and consequences this time out as Slam, Selina, Holly, and Holly's girlfriend whose name eludes me right now sit down and discuss the events behing the death of Slam's son and Selina's pregnancy. Not exactly a good jumping-on point for new readers, but important for those of us who have been along for the ride, as we can finally put that One Year Later stuff behind us and move on from here. B+

S: Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges; A: Steve Leialoha. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

In which we get the story of how our recently escaped Jack once duped the Winter Queen and became Jack Frost, and the most notable thing is that longtime Fables inker Steve Leialoha does the art chores solo for this one. One the one hand, it's great to see Steve's pencils AND inks again, but on the other, it's a bit disappointing because he's done better. I think he's subsumed his style to Buckingham's for so long that he's begun to take on his stylistic tendencies, so this issue looks a lot more restrained and conventional than what I'm used to seeing via such 70's and 80's work like Coyote and Spider-Woman. Oh well, he still enlivens a pretty conventional story, and that's the bottom line. I wanna see him do more. B-

S: Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction; A: David Aja, Travel Foreman, Derek Fridolfs, John Severin. (Marvel, $2.99)

Hydra's carrying out a hostile takeover of RandCorp, and there's another Iron Fist title-holder out there as well, apparently heading for an encounter with our boy. On top of that, we get some nifty flashbacks by different artists, most notably good ol' John Severin (who doesn't seem to have lost a step), and they're quite good. I thought this was one of the best-dialogued comics I'd read in some time; don't know whether to credit Fraction or Brubaker for that (my money's on the latter), but scenes like the ones between Danny and Jeryn Hogarth and especially the sit-down with Luke Cage and the Night Nurse come across as unforced and naturalistic, and often humorous. Aja, for his part, does a very good Alex Maleev/Lark & Gaudiano impression, which is, I'm sure, the desired effect. A-

S: Warren Ellis; A: Stuart Immonen. (Marvel, $2.99)

In which Ellis stands back for a while and lets Immonen strut his stuff, rewarding us with a series of two-page spreads full of great cameos from obscurities like the Infant Terrible (two Infant Terribles, no less) and others. Which is not to say that Ellis isn't making with the gallows humor still, and in the case of poor Dirk Anger, literally. Still the best book nobody much is reading, such as it always is. A

S: Ed Brubaker; A: Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano. (Marvel, $2.99)

I'll give Brubaker this- I didn't see this issue's mystery revelation coming at all. Maybe it's because we were never given any clues that this might happen (or maybe I just missed them, not always being the sharpest or most perceptive comics reader around), but it seems to come out of left field- could have been Angar the Screamer or the frigging Leap Frog for all I knew. Not that this makes it any less enjoyable; Brubaker's dramatics are never overwrought and Lark/Gaudiano's art defines tasteful. A-

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Francis Portela, Terry Pallot. (Marvel, $2.99)

On the other hand, this book keeps twitching, trying to show signs of life, but apparently, having given it a better-than-expected go in Daughters of the Dragon and having been rewarded with rock-bottom sales and (I would imagine) less editorial slack, Gray and Palmiotti are giving us a rote, joyless exercise in contemporary superheroing, hurt more than helped by all the Civil War melodrama...and anonymously drawn in a bland, dull style by the latest who-they? Marvel Art Drones. The occasional amusing quip does nothing to enliven this mess, and so I shrug my shoulders and decline to continue past issue 7, when my DCBS back order runs out, and when Graymiotti move on, like my attention did some time ago. C-

S: J. Torres; A: Chynna Clugston. (DC, $2.25)

The main appeal of this issue, besides the return of my favorite Titans villain Mad Mod, is an entire issue of art by Chynna Clugston, who seems to be having a ball indulging herself in all sorts of 60's homages, not only referencing movie scenes but fashions and music as well. She has a light, clean, appealing style that works well for this sort of book. Torres' script starts nicely with a Hard Day's Night tribute, but runs out of steam at the end with a somewhat preposterous ending, which I'm sure matters not one whit to his target audience so I'll just shut up and state for the record that this issue was a lot of fun and let it go at that. Much better than the previous Mad Mod appearance, for sure! A-

S: Denise Mina; A: Leo Manco. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Nice cover; best in a long time. Inside; same old same old, with the fate of the world hinging this time on the outcome of a English football game. Oi. D+

S/A: Matt Wagner. (DC, $3.50)

I admire the sheer grit and urghh of this pseudo-retro exercise, with all its crude and bloody pulp-magazine flavor- but the results are curiously inconsequential and routine, as if we've seen it all before...and in the 60-plus years since the heyday and decline of the pulps, let's face it, we have. Wagner's trying hard on art, too, but there's very little grace or wit in his approach and art style, so that falls just short of the mark too. Anyway, could be better for our tree-fitty, but it sure could be worse. B+

S/A: Los Bros. Hernandez. (Fantagraphics, $4.50)

Jaime, I love ya. Your art never ceases to inspire and amaze, and Maggie, Hopey, Ray and even the Frogmouth are among some of the most memorable comics characters ever created. Gilbert, you too, even though I must confess to being a bigger fan of your brother's work. But really, fellas, isn't it about time we moved on and tried something different? I don't mean zombies or space opera, but geez- it seems like we've been tilling this field together for a mighty long time, and you both keep hitting all the old, familiar notes in exactly the same way time and time again. You continue to do it well, but I'm just sayin', know what I'm sayin? B+

S: Dan Abnett, Ian Edginton; A: Lui Antonio. (Boom! Studios, $2.99)

Don't know much about the game this was based on, although I imagine that if I was 16 again I'd probably be all over it. Here we have yet another far-flung dystopian future, populated by hypermuscled men in humongous suits of armor, fighting each other along with monstrous beasts in some sort of nihilistic ongoing conflict. If this sort of thing rocks your world, and if you're familiar with the game, you might really go for this. Me, not so much, although I will cop to thinking that Antonio would be a natural for Metal Hurlant magazine, and overall this isn't terrible for what it is. Problem is, I'm not a fan of what it is. C+

Almost done! More later, including Agnes Quill and The Night Fisher.
This is, I suppose, what they call a meta post.

I've been spending the better part of the morning creating a Bloglines subscription page, since it looks like Chipper is dead and gone. I tried Google Reader for a little while, but there were a handful, not many but still a few, blogs that it couldn't add for whatever reason. All this tech stuff goes over my head sometime. If you happen to click on my Bloglines link up there, and don't see your blog listed, please don't be offended- I'm not finished adding just yet.

Anyway, more than anything it's made me realize how much I need to weed out my blogroll over here- I've got several dead or dormant links listed, including people who I linked to once in the spirit of reciprocity but probably haven't visited again ever.

I'm even beginning to think that I'd like to have a totally new template, but I don't have the time or energy to reinstall the buttons and pics that I currently have. Not to mention that there is about a nine or ten-month stretch in my archives where I never got around to replacing the pictures I had posted when I changed image hosts. In 2005. See what I mean? And on top of that, much to my dismay, I'm occasionally going back to old posts, where I see via my referrer site someone has visited something I wrote in, say, 2004, and am mortified to see that Imageshack has somehow managed to lose the image that I know damn well I replaced or never deleted in the first place. Link rot or somesuch. In fact, except for New Comics Revue posts, when I've posted images here for the last several months I've just used Blogger's image hosting system, which puts the images God knows where but at least I can feel reasonably confident that they won't disappear someday.

In case you're wondering, apparently I can't switch to the latest Blogger upgrade. I tried, and it tells me it's not possible with "certain" blogs. Hmph. It's OK, didn't really want to switch anyway.

OK, that's all I can think of for now. Other than you know what? I like this song, even though I have no desire to see the movie from which it came. I'm just like that sometimes.

Speaking of movies, I really, really should write a few lines about the films I've seen since I did my last movie post (which, as I recall, attracted the ire of several nutcase King Kong fans)...but first of all, I put my Netflix sub on hold due to being frigging broke all the time, and second, I've seen a LOT of films since that last one and again, time and energy are lacking.

Anyway, one thing I'm still committed to doing, no matter how much apathy I'm greeted with when I do so, is comics reviews. And I have a few to finish now so have a great Saturday!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Kudos to R.E.M. for getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They have been one of the best bands going for a good long while, up until just a few years ago actually, and there were several cuts on Around the Sun which I thought were very good. Hell, I even liked a good portion of Up and Monster, which many despise, and really only consider Reveal to be at least uninteresting. I credit them, along with the Replacements and perhaps the Cure, for helping me stay interested in new music back in the mid-late 80s and early 90s. As opposed to now, when I seem to be utterly disinterested in about 80% of what I hear from newish musicians.

Can't quibble with Van Halen, either; while I've never been what you could call an intense admirer of any of their incarnations (the Dave version is best, if you ask me), they served as a soundtrack for a great deal of my teenage indiscretions and therefore can't be devalued. Favorite albums remain their debut and Women and Children First. Van Hagar had its moments, mostly via songs that got played to death on radio like "Right Now" and "When It's Love", and truth be told I liked Sammy from his 70's stint with Montrose. But they got old real fast. After that, blah. It should be fun to see if there will be a Springer Show-style reunion at the awards presentation!

I've never really been a fan of Patti Smith's music although I do recognize that she is a wonderful poet and totally respect her influence and acheivements. I just never worked up a taste for her albums. As I've always said, I was very slow to embrace Punk and New Wave as a young man.

The story with the Hall of Fame isn't so much for me who's in as who's not in. I still can't believe that the likes of Alice Cooper, T.Rex, Captain Beefheart, Nick Drake, Jethro Tull, Randy Newman, Cat Stevens, Roxy Music, Todd Rundgren, Donovan, King Crimson, The Move, Warren Zevon, The Meters- the list goes on and on- aren't in. Here's one such list as of 10-2005. Just like the HoFs of pro sports, it's WAY too freaking hard to get inducted, and WAY to dependent on trendiness and the condescending dismissiveness of the hipper-than-thou voter constituency.

And that's all I have to say about that. For now.

This is crossposted from the LJ; swear to Jebus I'll finish the comics reviews soon. As if anyone cares.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

RIP "SNEAKY PETE" KLEINOW, whose graceful and accomplsihed pedal steel playing graced many a favorite album of mine, including efforts by the Flying Burrito Brothers, of which he was a co-founder; The Band, John Lennon, Little Feat, etc., etc.,- and most notably (at least for me) the drop dead gorgeous steel solo in Harry Nilsson's cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" on the Pussy Cats album. He also, unbeknownst to me, was an accomplished stop-motion animator, having worked on at least one JBS Favorite film: 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. How very sad to find out that he had suffered from Alzheimer's towards the end and was living under assisted care.

Here's his Wikipedia entry, with an astonishingly long list of musicians he'd played with.

Here's his official website.

Time keeps on slippin'...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I was hoping to have a new New Comics Revue done today, but real life (and a DVD viewing of Pirates of the Carribean-Dead Man's Chest, which I liked more than I probably should have) has interfered yet again. In the meantime, go here for a look at a comic the lovely and amazing Vera Brosgol has done in the service of the Evil Empire (Microsoft Division)...it's very good! But that should come as no surprise, should it...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

No time or energy to write much tonight- plus I've been watching TCM all evening, basking in some Joan Blondell/Ginger Rogers radiance.

So here's something I found the other night on YouTube- a promo video by Todd Rundgren, from his 1974 LP Todd, and it's an odd choice: not the undeserved flop single "A Dream Goes on Forever", but the track before it on the original side one, "An Elpee's Worth of Toons", which is just Todd goofing around in the studio in service of a ditty about the pressure to put out hit records, and perhaps the temptation to use one's charisma as a rock star to influence others. Some ditty! Too bad this album wasn't in young Bono's collection...

Finding this was particularly opportune because I have been listening to my newly acquired CD copy, purchased at the Great Escape in Nashville last Saturday. Hey, I still have my vinyl, but I can't listen to it on the Interstate that way! Anyway, here it is. And it's less than 2 minutes long!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Got an interesting email today, on an email address I don't usually get Show-related missives on, that passed along some exciting news: COOL McCOOL is coming soon (again) to DVD! I say again, because according to the Wikipedia entry I've linked to above, Rhino put out a DVD collection a few years ago- guess it must be out of print.

When I was a preteen I loved that toon, and watched it every chance I got! In case you don't have any idea what the heck I'm talking about, Cool was a 1966 Saturday morning cartoon, created by Bob (Batman) Kane, no less, which featured the exploits of McCool, who was a bumbling super secret agent a la Maxwell Smart and had a very distinctive rogues gallery, which included Hurricane Harry, a Kingpin lookalike who could blow hurricane force winds; The Rattler, a slippery snake guy, Jack in the Box, who was a literal murderous jack-in-the-box (don't know if he was ever shown with legs); Roy Thomas doppelganger Dr. Madcap (gimmcked-up hats) and his girlfriend Greta Ghoul (a Natasha Fatale type), and The Owl, who flew around with the aid of two owls perched on each shoulder. I used to wonder who would win in a fight: Marvel's Daredevilbaddie Owl, or Cool's Owl.

Anyway, each 30 minute episode featured two Cool adventures, and in between was a Keystone Kops-style segment which featured his Dad, Harry McCool and his partners and was introduced by Cool on a banjo, singing a great song about "My Pop, the cop..." Anyway, I got a couple of VHS copies a few years ago and was pleased to discover that while they had dated some, these cartoons were still a lot of fun. According to the press release, there will be audio commentaries, interviews, and short features featuring Chuck McCann, who was the voice of practically every character but Cool. Price isn't bad, either- $19.95 for at least 40 episodes, plus a lot of extras.

For more, here's a blog entry by Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt.

Danger is my business, Number One!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Best Comics of 2006.

2007 is now upon us, so I figure I'd better get on the ball and
make with the


Now, let me preface this as I always do...This is by no means a list which purports to be the absolute best of the past year. There are many, many fine comics and graphic novels that I've read volumes about on other comics blogs- you know, the ones that get linked to by Dirk Deppey and Heidi MacDonald- that I simply have not read due to not being on a comp list and/or lack of funds and/or not knowing anybody that has a copy I could borrow. So this is a highly personal, idiosyncratic list which is by no means complete, but is the best I can do under the circumstances. I shall continue what has become my annual tradition, namely citing 10 best plus 2. Just because. And a whole metric ton of honorable mentions...because this has been a odd year for comics as far as I'm concerned- there was nothing which absolutely blew me out of the water, but there were a lot of solid successes, mostly in the ongoing and/or limited series categories. Rather than divide my nominations into graphic novels, limited series, ongoings, etc., creating sets and subsets and making this more of a chore than it needs to be, I'll just lump 'em all together and let God sort 'em out, m'kay?

So shut up, Dave, and make with the list!

7 SOLDIERS: FRANKENSTEIN by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke (DC)
I though the 7 Soldiers project, as a whole, collapsed under the weight of Morrison's hubris as well as behind-the-scenes troubles (cf. Mister Miracle, which was just an awful muddle and never really seemed to fit in to the big picture) devolving into incoherence before it was done. But this particular component was outstanding from start to finish; great, pulpish weird adventure and sci-fi, aided greatly by yet another killer art job by Mahnke. I, for one, would like to read further adventures of Grant's monster.

BATMAN: YEAR 100 by Paul Pope (DC)
More of Pope doing what Pope does best- smart action and adventure in a future primitive setting.

CRIMINAL by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel/Icon)
After only three issues, it maybe premature to place this on the list...but this is a solid, well-crafted and always involving piece of work, just like we all thought it would be, and promises to be nothing but better as time goes by.

DESOLATION JONES by Warren Ellis,J.H. Williams III, and Daniel Zezelj. (Image)
I believe that 2006 was the Year of the Intarwub Jesus, as Ellis was giving us no less than four outstanding books. Jones, which should probably be subtitled Lifestyles of the Twisted and Damaged, was a potent blend of spy story, character-driven drama, and gallows humor, and didn't lose a step when Zezelj took over from Willams, despite the 180 degree difference in the two men's styles.

DR. STRANGE: THE OATH by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin. (Marvel)
What the hell-? Vaughan? In my top 10? Well, he's certainly earned it as this is the best take on the venerable Doctor since Steve Englehart pushed away from his typewriter for the last time in the 1970's- full of wit, action, and an intriguing storyline. Martin's slightly Caniff/Robbins-esque art, devoid of his usual inker Alvaro Lopez, is just as good by itself. Unless Vaughan botches the ending, this one's a keeper.

DORK! #11 by Evan Dorkin (Slave Labor)
Dorkin makes with the funny as only he can, throwing out the acid-tinged gags, puns, and satire at a rapid pace and hitting the target nearly every time. Tell me why, again, he can't get published in Mad? Oh, right- his stuff is actually funny.

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #'S 22, 38 by various
Yeah, yeah, I know. This is never going to take the place of Kramer's Ergot or Mome or insert-your-own-comics-blogosphere-critical-darling-here, nor does it probably even really belong in any serious discussion of a year-end best of...but I do know this: I got more pure reading enjoyment out of these two comics than I did practically anything else I read in 2006, hence their inclusion. Hell, I never claimed to be a "serious" comics critic, whatever that is, anyway.

NEIL GAIMAN'S NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman, Mike Carey, and Glenn Fabry. (DC)
I think this was on last year's list, too, at least the singles were...so this is for the collection, which came out in 2006 and is well worth your while for Carey's outstanding adaptation of Gaiman's novel (I like Carey's dialogue better than Gaiman's, for what that's worth) and especially the intricate, superb art by Fabry. If only all adaptations of fantasy novels- or for that matter, other types of novels- could be this good.

NEXTWAVE: AGENTS OF H.A.T.E. by Ellis and Stuart Immonen. (Marvel)
Ellis takes a motley crew of b-list Marvel characters and improbably gives us the most amusing Marvel comic since Not Brand Echh, unsurprisingly namechecked in the last couple of issues, not to mention a sharp take on Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol vibe. Started strong, lagged a bit in the middle as it seemed uncertain where it wanted to go, but rebounded strongly to become one of Marvel's top 5 titles in my book. Unfortunately, it was bottom 5 in the real world sales wise, so it won't be with us long. Get the collections.

NORTHWEST PASSAGE #3 by Scott Chantler (Oni)
Another chapter of the outstanding historical adventure series, with Chantler's enjoyable art, which more often as not reminds me of Tintin's Herge. If ever there was a book deserving of a wider audience, this one is it.

S: Alan Moore; A: Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Jose Villarubia.
An elegant, bittersweet epilogue to the whole America's Best Comics experiment, which was perhaps doomed to failure from the onset but stuck around long enough to deliver a lot of great reading. In this, the final issue of Strong, which never really recovered from Moore's departure as writer, we witnessed the events from the last issue of Promethea from the perspective of the Strong family and done by the original creative team with Moore returning for one last hurrah.

Honorable Mentions, aka Books/Ongoing Series I Also Enjoyed But Not Enough to Put in the Top 12, in no particular order except that in which I thought of them:

Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness (Oni); Seven Sons (AiT/PlanetLar); Agents of Atlas (Marvel); All-Star Superman (DC); Daughters of the Dragon (Marvel); Wimbledon Green: The World's Greatest Comic Collector (Drawn and Quarterly); Solo #'s 11,12 (DC); Polly and the Pirates (Oni); Hellboy: Makoma (Dark Horse); X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl (Marvel); Talent (Boom!); Superf*ckers (Top Shelf); Delphine (Fantagraphics); Fell (Image); The Winter Men (DC/Wildstorm); Meat Cake (Fantagraphics); Love & Rockets, Vol.2 (Fantagraphics); Death, Jr. Vol. 2(Image); Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort (Image); Jack Staff (Image); Daredevil (Marvel); The Middle Man Vol. 2 (Viper); DMZ (DC/Vertigo); Planetary Brigade (Boom!); Hero Squared (Boom!); Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters (DC); Planetary (DC/Wildstorm); Gray Horses (Oni); Rock Bottom (AiT/PlanetLar); Lucifer (DC), The Leading Man (Oni); 100 Bullets (DC/Vertigo); Fables (DC/Vertigo); Bluesman Vol. 3 (NBM), Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman Entertainment); Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger/Unknown Soldier (DC), Ultimates 2 (Marvel).

Happy new year, everybody!