Friday, April 27, 2007


The BSNCR is the venue by which I take the opportunity, unsolicited, to opine in regards to various works of sequential fiction I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted said opinions upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately 13 to 27 April, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be...

**- reviews written since 4/28.

S: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid; A: Keith Giffen, Justiniano, Walden Wong. (DC, $2.50)

OH-kay. As those of you who have been so entertainment-deprived as to read my reviews on a regular basis know, I have managed, through very little effort on my part and mostly due to my distaste for the series which kicked all this off (Identity Crisis, of course- that ending still galls, after all this time) to avoid all subsequent installments...which means I really don't have a clue about what's really happening here. That said, I suppose this is easy enough to pick up on at the bare minimum level; all the good guys team up to beat the snot out of Black Adam, who apparently has done a lotta bad stuff. There's also some side action going on with some of the tangential characters' plotlines- Steel, Booster Gold, etc. If there was supposed to be something which tells me what this "World War III" event is supposed to be, I must have overlooked it because the battle with Adam ends, at least temporarily, and the Booster thing appears to be leading up to something, but what it is I'm not sure. Sigh. Anyway, for what this is trying to be, I suppose it's good enough...or at least a good example of the prevalent "comics by fanmen for fanboys" aesthetic. Scriptwise, it's kinda hard to tell which of the four writers is writing what; I suspect Morrison did the scenes with his Chinese Justice League because the dialogue reads like his dialogue, kinda deadpan and to-the-point. And I must admit that I found that scene, and that League, to be quite interesting. The resolution to the conflict with Black Adam was cleverly realized, too, even though it reminded me a lot of the resolution of this episode of Futurama. The art, by Justiniano and Wong, is adequate (as it was on Day of Vengeance and Shadowpact), still an odd mix of Rags Morales and early Mike Mignola...but if you notice, Justiniano (have I ever mentioned how annoying this one-name conceit is?) is apparently incapable of drawing a figure that's relaxed. Everybody, even the mostly stationary Phantom Stranger, looks coiled, contorted, and tensed for battle or screaming or gesturing in thin air for no good reason, and it makes me tense just scanning it. I would think that chiropractors and massage therapists in the DCU probably make a good living. All in all, I suppose if this is the type of comics reading experience one craves, then this is as good as example as one could find, especially if one has been inclined to purchase the previous 50 issues in order to know which way this particular wind is blowing. And I have to also wonder if DC and Marvel have now committed themselves into coming up with some sort of Big Event series every year to keep sales up- next year, what Earth-Shattering Event That Will Change the (insert your universe here) FOREVER will they produce? And how long will they be able to sustain this? Two years? Five years? How many times will they be able to remix and reheat the DCU omelet? Will there ever be a year in which we have NO extinction-level event series to prop up the sales-challenged line? B-

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

As is often the case with someone that has an actual imagination, like our poor, overextended Grant does, the most notable thing here is the clever tweaking of the whole Bizarro concept, given a great spin. And this doesn't scrimp on the action, either; this whole thing has a frantic, helter-skelter 28 Days Later feel, mostly thanks to the temporal adroitness of Quitely's layout style. Continued excellence from two totally-in-sync creators. A

S: Wil Pfiefer; A: Pete Woods. (DC, $2.99)

DC's warrior women show up in Washington, DC, ready to kick ass and chew gum- and they forgot to bring the gum. As with 52 Week Fifty, I can infer what's going on even if I don't really understand the whys and wherefores, since it is, after all, tied in to World War III, whatever that is, the ongoing Wonder Woman book, and of course 52. OK as far as it goes, I suppose- Pfeifer's strengths as a writer, namely his dialogue and characterization, are undiminished and though it's marred by the slaughter early on of a father and his son, designed only to show that the Amazons mean business and serving no appreciable purpose otherwise, it's apocalyptic enough to succeed on its own terms. Woods is also a solid craftsman; I enjoyed his Catwoman work and he's only gotten better since then even though that ol' debbil stiffness in his figure drawings is still evident. So while I can admire from a distance it remains to be seen if I'll queue up for #2 in a few weeks. B

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

Pretty much more of the same that we've gotten the last few issues; it's no more clearer now than it has been for a dozen issues exactly what Seagle's trying to accomplish- social satire, cheap titillation (pun somewhat intened, after this issue's final page), jabs at the religious right- it tries to be everything and winds up being nothing, saved only by the always outstanding Cloonan art (Becky should work a little harder on her fight scenes, though; that hasn't been something she's had to worry about too much in her career to date) and a central cast of characters that range from enigmatic (Adam, the lead- and this is a significant problem) to the charismatic (sister Cyndi, and Adam's stepdad is actually beginning to interest as well) and all points in between. And so it goes- I keep reading, waiting for the "on" switch to be flicked and reveal everything in a totally new light. And waiting, and waiting... C+

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

Two issues in, and so far this segment remains a bunch of assorted vignettes of different degrees of weird, steadfastly refusing to cohere into a single plotline, but at least leavened with well-done characterization designed to gratify those of us who've been along for the ride since its inception over 13 years ago. Fortunately, it has Guy Davis on board, whose work is putting him in the conversation when it comes to naming the best illustrators of the last couple of decades, and who is equally as adept with the weirdness as he is the mundane. I don't mind being strung along, I guess, if the string is as good-looking as this. A-

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

After several issues' worth of tuning up, Willingham seems to be ready to drop the next big story arc on our heads, this one seemingly dealing with the Frog Prince and the adversary's other shoe that I was concerned with over six months ago. The usual good characterization and clever rethinking of the myriad characters he's established, and as usual the Buckingham/Leialoha underwhelms but gets the job done in satisfactory fashion. A-

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

A long night with Detective Fell, as he investigates several incidents over the course of the evening but can't get the first out of his mind. I must say it was nice to see the Fell we had grown accustomed to once more, rather than last issue's impostor. This tale is well-told, especially in the narration and dialogue (always Ellis' strength) but the payoff is a weak one and hardly worth the wait. Comes across mostly, to me, as a showcase for Templesmith's design skills, as 3/4 of the story is told via Fell's photographs of the crime scenes- and as usual he succeeds very well in his impressionistic style, which a ton of Photoshoppery can't diminish. A-

S:Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker; A: Daniel Aja, Travis Foreman, Derek Fridolfs, Sal Buscema, Tom Palmer. (Marvel $2.99)

I do believe that what we have here is quite possibly the best Iron Fist story in the history of the character- the early issues of the 70's took some time getting going, although the Kane/Thomas debut was OK; the Byrne/Claremont issues were good but came across as a trial run for X-Men; the Luke Cage era was mostly hacked-out crap; and the character has made sporadic appearances here and there since then, with only his stint as a member of Heroes for Hire in the mid-90's standing out at all. This time out, we get the return of oldtime nemesis Steel Serpent, and the other plot threads draw tighter. Art is still by Aja on the main storyline, well done, with guest appearances by Foreman and Fridolfs on one flashback, nicely done, and quintessential 60's and 70's hack journeyman Sal Buscema doing another. Even though Sal B drew a great deal of comics I liked in the 70's (mostly Defenders and Son of Satan), I've never been a fan of his pencilling (although I will say he's a damn good inker), so I wasn't exactly blown away but I guess it's nice to see that he's still among the living and still plugging away at the drawing board when the mood strikes. And thank goodness he's inked by Tom Palmer (Sr., I'm assuming) instead of another 70's less-than-fave of mine, Klaus Janson. A-

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Val Simeiks. (DC, $2.99)

Oddball, almost Hitchcockian story of Jonah getting involved with a young girl who claims she's being abused and begs for his help. Is she telling the truth, or is she lying? Well, at least we get to find out, but I wish there had been fewer stops and starts in the story. Simeiks' art is much better than the last time I remember seeing it- on what I can't recall, probably the 1980's Demon. B-

S: Geoff Johns; A: Fernando Pasarin. (DC, $2.99)

I bought the preceding title JSA for a good long while; I was enjoying the new spins that Johns and David Goyer were bringing to the characters both old and new. Eventually though, the endless spandex fighting amidst convoluted plotting became a grind, and Stephen Sadowski's replacement Leonard Kirk (pre-Agents of Atlas) didn't thrill me either...and I bailed. Don't have the slightest idea what's been going on with the characters since, except for the odd Wildcat appearance in Catwoman. So DC sends me this book out of the blue, right smack dab in the middle of whatever's been going on in both this AND 52 AND any other titles it may be crossing over with, goodness only knows what...and all I can do is dutifully read one page at a time and try to give you my impressions of what I read. First impression: Good lord, what a superhero wallow! You've got Batman and the sprocking Legion of Super-Heroes (no clue if it's the current Legion or some sort of amalgam of the various eras) and Superman and a host of (I'm assuming) rank-and-file JSA'ers like Sand, who's now apparently dressing like Wesley Dodds now and...well, that's not the half of it. One half Batman-dark showdown with Doc Destiny, climaxing, if you'll excuse the expression, with an squicky EC-worthy scene that features ol' skull-face licking chained-up Legionnaire Dream Girl on the face with his finger in her mouth, holy geez, before the inevitable rescue- then abruptly shifting to a Super-bright and sunny interlude with Supes, Red Tornado, Stargirl, and others including a likeably cute newcomer, related to original RT Ma Hunkel (I assume), called Cyclone. In better days, I might even buy a comic to read her further exploits, but with DC the way it is five'll get you ten that she'd be ass-raped by issue 12 so I guess I'll pass. Anyway, crudity aside, I've read worse superhero comics, it's very professionally done and slickly, if stiffly, illustrated. Wish I could deliver a more ringing endorsement, but alas, so it goes with your humble reviewer and the modern superhero comic. B-

S/A: Mike Allred. (Image, 2.99)

In which Mr. Allred takes 25 pages, plus pinups, to try and re-acquaint readers with his first creation, which has been conspicuous by its absence for several years now. For those of us who have been around since Madman #1 came out way back in 1992, a small eternity ago, this is mostly familiar stuff and notable only for 25 pages of new Allred art. For the uninitiated, I can't imagine if this is a satisfactory introduction- there's an awful lot of backstory to fill those 25 pages in, and it seems to me he hit most of the high notes...but then again, I know the score already. Guess what I'm saying is that this works OK for me, but it may not for you if you haven't been along for the ride so far. I look forward to seeing what direction he goes in next. I also got a chuckle out of the Red Rocket 7-style Bowie-lyric title he provided. B+

S: Garth Ennis; A: Glenn Fabry. (DC/Wildstorm, $2.99)

Another stellar art job by Fabry, in service of a dryly uninvolving Japanese-set parable involving a version of the title character and his significant other. I was reminded of Samurai Champloo for no good reason. I'll take any excuse to see new Fabry art in the wake of Neverwhere; but this was a snooze. B-

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

Six issues in, and for me at least this much is plain: when this title emphasizes the mundane aspects of this non-powered super-team, it works very well. When it devolves into imitation Claremontisms, it becomes a bore, Mahnke art or no. Guess what we got this time. C

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

I'm sure you all know the main reason to pick this title up by now, so I won't belabor the obvious. One thing is plain, though- while Azzarello's attempt to create a Flex Mentallo-style vibe has been fun, it also seems to have become a bit padded and he just doesn't have the flair for weirdness that Morrison does. Fortunately, Azzarello at least has a talented collaborator in Chiang, who has turned in some of the best work of his career in these past seven issues. Even Grant didn't have that on Flex; Quitely's art back then, while still outstanding, was still in its early stages, still a ways away from We3 and All-Star Superman. About the Spectre lead, the less said the better- while last issue's fill-in artist Tom Mandrake might have made this more palatable, Battle and Rollins aren't even in the same league and this is just an unpleasant, turgid, gory mess. If not for the Spectre, this would be a solid B+ or A- feature, but unfortunately it drags the whole thing down to a C.

BEST OF SHOW, at least the three-week period this column covers, a tie between THE LAST SANE COWBOY (inspired surrealism), and ALL-STAR SUPERMAN 7 (fast, furious, and smart).

DOG OF THE WEEK(S): Once more, through no fault of Azzarello and Chiang, TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED #7. Runner-up: TAG: CURSED #1.

Slowly but surely I'm making progress- now I have books I got last Friday to finish reading and reviewing, along with a few more titles I've received lately. Among the books to be reviewed, in case you're interested: the WASTELAND TPB; GOD SAVE THE QUEEN, a Vertigo HC by Mike Carey and John Bolton; LOVE AND ROCKETS 19, and many more. Someday, we'll all look back on this and laugh...!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sitting here staring at a stack of comics at my right (keeps getting bigger, too- got Amazons Attack and the latest JSA today, and my DCBS shipment arrives tomorrow!), and I'm trying to get the BSNCR done but it's being difficult.

In the meantime, why not go here and read part two of Film•Ick's WE3 script review?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Finding myself with a little time on my hands today, so I thought I'd play around with Sleestak's "Who Does Mary Love" meme...

Ganked the framed pic from Warren Ellis. He's been using Rasputin for an LJ icon for ages now, effectively preventing me from doing the same, darn it.

And speaking of the Intarwub Jesus:

Apparently Mr. Ellis and Mary had a fling back in her young, dissolute days, and she never got over it. Apologies to Mr. E for hijacking his pic, but this was the first thing I thought of when I saw the meme and you know how it is with first instincts and such. Besides, it's not like a) Ellis reads this blog anyway, and b) he's shy about posting his mug all over the WWW. Think of this as a viral advertising project, mkay?

Finally, there's THIS fellow:

Who seems to always succumb to me-tooism.

As usual, when you apply your magical click to these pics, they grow proportionally in size right there on your very own screen! Try it and see!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The BSNCR is the venue by which I take the opportunity, unsolicited, to opine in regards to various works of sequential fiction I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted said opinions upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately 6 and 16 April 2007 AD...some of which may still be on sale, or will be soon, at finer book stores all across this fine nation of ours.

This one's a kind-of catchup BSNCR, spotlighting stuff I've been sent or have bought that wasn't in my regular shipment. And awaaaay we go...

S: Michael Alan Nelson; A: Jean Dzialowski. (Boom!, $3.99)

Remember those old Mummy flicks, in which Im-Ho-Tep or some other poor schlub would do something which invoked the wrath of the gods, and then they'd get revived years later in less-than-pristine condition, and were usually the evil tool of some other wannabe mighty sorcerer slash priest? Well, there's your template for this, except you can substitute Lovecraft's Old Gods for the Egyptian pantheon without missing a beat. Against all odds, however, it works- that old formula is tried and true- and this winds up being a diverting read which left me interested in where it was going. Nelson tries really hard to write the florid dialogue that this sort of thing usually requires, and even though he gives us his share of clunky phrases, he does just fine. Artwise, it's sketchy when it's not buried under about a thousand Photoshop layers, all of them set to "murk", except when it depicts another dimension when suddenly it becomes clearer, sharper, and less muddy. If you're interested in this sort of Lovecraftian horror, or if you like those old Mummy movies, you could do worse than to check this out. But then again, I'm hardly an acolyte, so take that with a grain of salt. B+

S/A: James Vining. (Oni, $9.95; reviewed from b/w advance copy)

Historical-based fiction about the role of chimps in the early days of the NASA space program, with the cutest monkeys this side of Curious George. Well-done, but there's no real dramatic tension at all: we meet the monkeys and their handlers, we're given some background info about the Space Race in those days, monkeys train and dream weird dreams (unsure why these vignettes are included, they really have no bearing on the story itself), some go up and come back down dead, our monkey "Ham" goes up and lives. Everybody's relieved, and The End. It's all very straightforward and informative, the monkeys are likeble (well, there's one that's kinda surly but nothing comes of it), and if I had a grade schooler who wanted to know about the roles that simians played in the early days of the US vs. Russia Space Race, then this would be what I'd whip out. There's also a coda of sorts which shows our Ham in a zoo in his old age; it's set up to make the reader sad at how such an important ape has to spend his days in such a fashion, and it is definitely melancholy- but I'm not exactly sure how necessary it is, or even why Vining chose to include it in his heretofore lightweight account. Balance, perhaps, but it's such a short and bittersweet scene that it doesn't even come close to balancing anything out plotwise. Oh well. Vining's art is nice enough, reminiscent of Philip Bond in places with all the clean lines, cartoony feel and square jaws...and he does a good job of humanizing the chimps enough to where we manage to feel a little concern when Ham goes up in the rocket. This is well-done as far as it goes, but the lack of any real dramatic tension really hamstrings, no pun intended, the book as a whole. Before it was done, I was kinda hoping that Ham would come back down as some sort of radiation-spawned monster a la The Quatermass Experiment, just to spark it a bit. Shame on me. B

S: Mike Leib; A: Chee. (Boom!, $3.99)

I never got the final issue of the Tag series that preceded this, so I'm assuming this is a follow-up of some sort, without the original participants. This issue consists of the inner monologue of some unfortunate fellow who has acquired (or passed on, I forget how this works) the zombie tag curse, and his decision to somehow get the IP addresses of everyone on a blog that is devoted to others who have experienced the curse, and somehow prevent the next tag from taking place. While I have my doubts about how efficiently this would work (IP addresses only give a general area, and aren't that specific, right?) it's a good enough idea to build a limited series on, I suppose. It's not exactly enlivened by the leaden stylings of "Chee", whose work has never honked my hooter. It's bland and sketchily rendered and isn't helped one iota by the Standard Vertigo Color Palette of mold green, dark brown and mottled grey. I don't know- there's probably a fair-sized audience for this, since it does, after all, feature zombies (which people apparently still can't get enough of)...and if this is you, go buy if you can. If not, you can have my copy if you want. C+

S/A: Nicholas Mahler. (Top Shelf, $12.95)

The fella behind Van Helsing's Night Out is back, this time using his Randall Enos-inspired style in service of a oddball tale of a past-his-prime race car driver who is having a lot of trouble adjusting to his irrelevant status. As odd as it might seem from that description, there's a good mix of skewed humor and drama (sometimes all at once, in the case of his hospitalized wife), which keeps it out of Talledega Nights territory and makes it an engaging read throughout, at least until what must apparently be the de rigeur "Nothin' matters and what if it did" downbeat ending that mars this as a whole somewhat. However, I freely admit that this is probably an indictment of me as a reader rather than you or the artist, and I can recommend it to you with only slight reservations. B+

S/A: Nate Powell. (Top Shelf, $5)

What we have here are the stream-of-consciousness musings of the author/illustrator, who works with adults (and in the last story of the three here, kids too) with developmental disabilities, while also pursuing his own creative urges. He doesn't seem very happy with his lot in life, either, as he agonizes and frets over it constantly all throughout the narrative. Such obsessive self-examination is a staple of this sort of comic, I suppose, and is no worse or no better than your average Joe Matt or Jeffrey Brown type, but bojemoi does it get tiresome after a while. Fortunately, he has such an imaginative, frewheeling art style (reminiscent of such names as Paul Pope, Jill Thompson, and Craig Thompson) that he brings to bear in service of all this navel-gazing, and it makes this a success in spite of itself. Worth a look for the art, and I'm sure those possessed of a more generous and open spirit than I will have more patience for all his self-directed angst. B+

S/A: Daniel Merlin Goodbrey. (AiT/PlanetLar, $12.95)

Y'know, the more one reads these days, the more one resigns oneself to the fact that there is very little new under the sun; even the best music, comics, novels, films, what have you build upon, are inspired by, and in some cases even outright beg, steal and borrow ideas from the myriad works in each genre that has come before. Some call it homage, some seek to claim it as their own and feign ignorance of the source, and some don't even reach the middling heights of well-done pastiche, regurgitating overfamilar tropes in such a slapdash and cynical fashion that a little bit of the reader's soul (not to mention gray matter) dies after completion. However, once in a while, someone comes along that actually is able to have ideas, fresh-seeming ones- a sense of the possibilities inherent in a plethora of sources, and even if they're borrowed from some obscure source, certain creators are able to spin them so deftly that you can't see any fingerprints anywhere. Grant Morrison comes to mind, Jack Kirby was another...and maybe, just maybe, (at least based on the evidence contained within this book) so is Goodbrey. A series of stories of sort, set in a world in which reality shrugged and resettled itself in a variety of new ways, this is a springboard for an unbelieveable cornucopia of surreality and smart, clever ideas- some are absurdly humorous, some will leave you scratching your head, and once in a while even touching, as in the case of "The House Who Wasn't Her", about a fellow who is convinced that he is living in the wrong house, and embarks on an extradimensional journey to get it back- the reveal at the end is quite bittersweet. Each tale, or vignette, or whatever, is consistently clever and even thought-provoking, and manages to evoke the same feeling that I dimly remember when I watched The Twilight Zone for the first time. Don't mean to short Goodbrey's art; it's certainly not as accomplished as the writing here- it's crudely inked and looks a lot like the old effect that artists used to get via photocopier in which the detail would get blown out and lost after several copies. It's probably done by Photoshop now, but the deadpan, stark style works to further emphasizes the dreamlike strangeness of each story to very good effect. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection, and I hope there's more where it came from down the road. Merlin, eh? A

More later, including DEATH BY CHOCOLATE: REDUX and AMERICAN VIRGIN #13. Be there, aloha.
Got an email from the fine folks at TwoMorrows the other day, and it goes like this:

If your can't get COMICS 101 (our Free Comic Book Day publication) at your local comics shop, you can order one now at! We're making copies available for order now, but we will be charging enough to cover our printing and postage costs. So if you can get yours locally, you'll save some cash (and get a chance to see all the great offerings your local retailer has). But for those who can't get one, order now while they last!

NOTE: Place your order now, but we will NOT be mailing copies until the week after Free Comic Book Day (May 5). And don't delay; after May 5, if any copies remain, we will be selling them at a higher price.

So if you're unable to get to a comics shop, and you want a copy of what looks to be a better-than-run-of-the-mill Free Comic Book Day offering, then by all means go here:

Click Me!

And tell 'em Johnny B sent ya.

Friday, April 20, 2007

You're a scary old place out there world
But I couldn't be happy without you
And I swear all my thoughts are about you
The most beautiful world in the world

Well the light can be bright there
And everything's right there
The end of the night there might be a big band
Or a heavenly choir--Or it might be the fire
But no matter what happens
I bet it's OK

You're a scary old place out there world
But I couldn't be happy without you
And I swear all my thoughts are about you
The most beautiful world in the world

Your mountains when you're mad
Your rivers when your sad
And those deep blue seas
I love you for your snow
Your deserts down below
I love the way you wear your trees

The most beautiful world in the world
And though there are times when I doubt you
I just couldn't stay here without you
So when you get older
And over your shoulder
You look back to see if it's real

Tell her she's beautiful
Roll the world over
And give her a kiss and a feel

"The Most Beautiful World in the World" by Harry Nilsson, slightly edited.

First thing that crossed my mind when I saw this cover, starring Ego, the LOVING Planet. Jeff Parker, he'sa crazy fella. Everybody else has been having fun with it, so why not me?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thought about saving this for October, but I figured I'd forget it by then. Besides, I found this at someone else's, probably Heidi's, site so I figure a great deal of you have already seen this anyway. But undaunted, I press on.

Apparently the classic newspaper comic strip Gasoline Alley, which has never run in a newspaper that I've had access to in my lifetime, had a regular ongoing Sunday page feature, during the Autumn months, in which the principal characters (which, apparently, aged in more or less "real" time- take that, For Better or For Worse) would go on walks in the countryside amidst the Fall colors- sometimes in humorous fashion, sometimes melancholy in nature...but usually always well done and very interesting. Here's a website which contains scans of about 73 years' worth of these, which are grouped into three sets- one for each artist that has worked on the strip to date.

Frank King's 20's-40's strips, especially the early ones, have that quaint charm that is inherent in most artistic endeavors from that era, and I can't help but wonder if his successor Bill Perry, whose tenure was from the 50's through the 70's and whose work is displayed above (click to see all biggerer), wasn't an influence on Richard Sala; those characters above look an awful lot like those drawn by Sala in his stories, which are a lot less innocuous than Alley seems to have been...but the similarity is striking to me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


What we have here is a list of comics, graphic novels, and so on that are patiently waiting for me to administer my tender reviewing mercies upon them. I hate it when I get behind like this. And this is only the list of books that I acquired before my usual DCBS shipment, which arrived last Friday!

Which was comprised of:


Rest assured I'll get to them eventually; despite the fact that I've been sitting here almost every night with my laptop in my, well, lap, I haven't been able to muster up the sugar to get them knocked out.

And this concludes my "posting just to post something because I haven't posted anything in a couple of days" post.

In the meantime, why not go to Living Between Wednesdays and check out one of the most charming Archie stories I've ever read...and you know me, I'm not a big Archie fan here, so that's saying something.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

And now for something completely different- sports! Illustration, too! I haven't written about sports over here in eons, leaving it to the LiveJournal when I do, but as I clicked around hither and yon this morning I ran across this swell illo by one Robert "Chappy" Ullman on his blog, of a fetching, Mary Jane Watson-style cutie wearing the jersey of the Offical Hockey Team of the JBS, the Calgary Flames!

Of course, seeing the opportunity to share my love for good illustration work, as well as my love of sports, I had to seize it. Sorry to say, it looks like the Flames are overmatched by the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round of the NHL playoffs, and are in for an early exit. Hope I'm wrong.

This Ullman dude is all over the fricking blogosphere, by the way- here's a Blogger site he maintains as well called Atom Bomb Bikini! The Flames girl illo pops up again here, along with several others as he posts his NHL playoff predictions; he takes da Flames in seven games. Hope he's right!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Typewriter torment, dreadful disease
Caught it the first day I touched the keys
You wear down your fingers and churn out your pap
It eats up your life like a dose of the clap
Typewriter torment it tortures me still
If only my doctor could see that I'm ill

Immediately above is a quite relevant verse from Procol Harum's "Typewriter Torment", from their Procol's Ninth album, which strikes me as very apropos towards my blogging lately. Above that is the inner gatefold image from their 1973 effort Grand Hotel, which has nothing to do with the lyrics, other than the man who wrote them- Keith Reid, who is holding the tray at left. Well, that, and my desire to maintain the ethos of this here blog, which is to write about "stuff I dig", and right now I'm digging this music.

I've been spending a fair amount of time (at home and at work, kinda slow today y'see) on, reading the comments on various Harum tracks that I have a certain fondness for, like the majority of the Hotel album and its successors Exotic Birds and Fruit and Ninth. I've always had a curious fascination with Procol; I'm not always in the mood for their oddball Mozart-meets-Big Bill Broonzy mix, but when I get that way, I can listen for days on end.

Funny thing is, my devotion, or whatever it is, is entirely based on that trio of LPs (1977's era-ending Something Magic makes it a quartet, I guess), which marked the decline of their commercial success in the middle of that decade- I have never owned, or even heard much of, earlier efforts like Home, A Salty Dog, or Broken Barricades, all of which came out on A&M Records prior to 1973. And, yes, of course I've heard "A Whiter Shade of Pale", dont really want to hear it again anytime soon, thank you. I keep meaning to pick some of those up someday, but other than one or two illegally downloded tracks, I have so far managed to avoid doing so.

Anyway, those four albums have an intriguing mix of styles and sounds- Hotel in particular has some ornate and distinctive arrangements, along with some nice boozy/bloozy singing by frontman Gary Brooker. Christianne Legrande of the French a capella group the Swingle Singers (love that name, reminds me of something or someone that would have been associated with Roxy Music) even guests on one cut, oohing and aahing a baroque melody in counterpoint to a lot of bashing about by the band and the string accompaniment. It's called "Fires (Which Burn Brightly)" and it sports some witty, if bleak, lyrics. I'm also enamored right now of "For Liquorice John", a song which I thought for a long time was about the Devil or somesuch but after reading the website's notes I see that it was written for an acquaintance of the band who committed suicide after suffering from mental illness. It has a beguiling melody as well, and a deceptively simple arrangement. Of course, every time I listen to this one for very long, I am always reminded of Christgau's review of Hotel, in which he says (much to my amusement):

For years these guys have vacillated between a menu of grits that certainly ain't groceries and larks' tongues in aspic (King Crimson reference there, y'know- Johnny B.). Despite their current white-tie conceit, they still haven't decided. Personally, I wish they'd pick their poison and choke on it.

Heh, heh. Anywho, the main thing about Hotel and me, besides my wish to have it in a more portable format (Fruit and Ninth, too, and they even issued a box with all three once, which of course I didn't purchase because of the $30 price tag), is that my vinyl copy is a later Chrysalis records reissue, and not only has a blue label, but is only a non-gatefold, plain white paper innersleeve version to boot- and one of the appeals of this record to me is the elaborate gatefold cover and accompanying lyric book with cool photos of the band, framed with elegant flourishes and delicate illustrations, which can be seen here (scroll down a bit) and here. The collector and graphic designer in me lusts after this, something which, I fear, is absolutely foreign and incomprehensible to the iTunes generation.

OK, that's all, I guess. I could go on to ramble about Birds and Fruit, and its excellent shoulda-been-a-hit "Nothing But The Truth", and the Lieber/Stoller produced Ninth, with its excellent Beatles and Lieber/Stoller covers and interesting UK hit "Pandora's Box", but I'm tired and it's getting late so I'll bid you a find good night and leave you with another Reid lyric, to wit:

Let down the curtain, and exit the play
The crowds have gone home and the cast sailed away
Our flowers and feathers as scarring as weapons
Our poems and letters have turned to deception.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

RIP Kurt Vonnegut.

He's one of the legends in the field, having written many classic works, but unfortunately I've had to take everyone's word for it.

My sole experience with Vonnegut was an aborted attempt to read Galapagos back in the early 80's. Couldn't stay interested in it. I'm thinking perhaps I should have tried something else first instead, Slaugterhouse Five perhaps. I've led such a sheltered life.

Anyway, I know he was one of the giants, and the world is a lesser place for his passing.

(cross-posted from the LJ)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007



Alan Davis, come home, all is forgiven. Marvel, do you hate me this much? First Hellstorm, now this?

Lest I forget: You, yes you, can go right here and take part in Top Shelf's 10th Anniversary Massive $3 Sale.

Yea, verily, there are many bargains to be had there on such JBS-approved titles such as SuperF*ckers and The Legend of Wild Man Fischer, as well as substantial savings on Lost Girls (maybe if they keep knocking $10 off each year I can afford it by, say, 2012), From Hell, Blankets, Owly, and many more.

Monday, April 09, 2007

An often interesting film commentary site called Film•ick has a look at Grant Morrison's first draft of a script to the WE3 movie. Check it out! The author of the post says, and I quote: ...I've been lucky enough to read a copy. Luckier still, it's amazing. It's even better than the source material. In fact, this is the single best unproduced script I have ever read. Yep. And I really mean it.

Hope the Hollywood stink bosses don't screw it up.

Well, new to me, anyway. The BSNCR is the venue by which I take the opportunity, unsolicited, to opine in regards to various works of sequential fiction I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted said opinions upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately 28 March to 5 April, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be...

100 BULLETS 82
S: Brian Azzarello; A: Eduardo Risso. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

The Standard Review: Another well-done issue what will engage the already engaged, baffle the uninitiated, and even baffle the initiated upon occasion. I think I'll just cut and paste this review for the next 18 issues. Further Comments: I must admit a little confusion about the latest story digression, featuring art thieves- it comes across as too much like a very similar plotline from about three or four years ago, a small eternity when considering this convoluted narrative but just recent enough to disorient a longtime reader such as your humble scribe. Not to worry, though, I'm sure I'll figure out what the hell is going on eventually. Or so I keep telling myself. B+

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

Not much but action this time out, spiced with some funny dialogue and some smart Sci-fi time travel trappings, as CW tries to get out of Luthor's building with her pretty hide- and Luthor's snow globe- intact, so she can give it to the Calculator and get Junior CW Holly's name cleared. For my money, this has been one of the best superhero-type books on the stands for quite some time now. Sadly, the majority doesn't agree with me. If you're on the fence, perhaps you should consider going against the grain. A-

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

I'm a little unsure about the wisdom of eliminating all doubt about the Gladiator's apparent violent outbursts in this issue, the first in the arc; I have to believe that there would be a lot more suspense inherent in adopting a "Is he or isn't he" stance. But I know Brubaker's a smart fella and a good writer, and I'm sure there's method to his madness. I hope. For that matter, I've never been wild about the Miller re-imagining of Melvin Potter, the Gladiator, as a Rainman-type anyway, so perhaps this is a step towards moving away from that. Regardless, it looks like we're in for another interesting Brubaker/Lark/Guadiano storyline. A-

DMZ 17
S: Brian Wood; A: Riccardo Burchielli. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Finale to the "Public Works" arc, in which Matty gets to play those who've been playing him, and doesn't exactly get the girl. Of course, the girl in question is one he grew attached to while he was in his undercover terrorist persona, so one has to wonder exactly what he thought (IF he thought about it) was going to happen when everything got resolved, which is of course nothing if one is realistic about it, so that kinda dulls the edge of the dramatics at the end. And if that isn't enough, it's not like he's going to be bereft of female company- Zee, who's been there from the beginning, is friendlier than she's ever been and of course his contact on the outside, Kelly, who get a little burned this time out are still around. Of course, he does rationalize his actions in the ongoing narration, but I'm sorry, I just couldn't buy it. Still, as political intrigue-type scenarios go this was a good one, and Matt's double-cross at the ending was pretty Burchielli turns in another outstanding job, even though I wish his figures could show more than three facial I guess you could say I liked, with reservations- same as it has been since the beginning. B+

S: Bill Willingham; A: a veritable plethora. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Another fill-in issue of sorts, right on the heels of Mike Allred's two-parter. This time the gimmick is that Willingham is answering questions from readers about various Fables characters in two-or-three-page cutesy answer-scenarios, and gets a different artist to draw each one. Problem is, none of the artists exactly outdo themselves, with the possible exception of Jill Thompson, who is apparently not capable of turning in less than stellar work. That said, it's always great to see anything by J.K. (Fashion in Action, Doctor Mid-Nite, Mister E) Snyder, Andrew Pepoy actually manages to slightly evoke Wally Wood, or at least Ralph Reese, with his, and D'Israeli gets by as well. And I never want to see the early 90's stylings of M.K. Perker in anything I spend my hard-earned cash on again. Ever. Can we get back to the real storyline now, Willingham? Please? B-

S: Andy Diggle; A: Leo Manco. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Diggle does fine on his opening storyline, although this two-parter comes across as a sort of clearing of the throat- presumably for the more involved stuff that's hopefully coming up down the line. He does a great job of capturing Constantine's personality and outlook, no big surprise there...but the story itself is a slight thing, so I guess we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed for a couple more months. Manco, for his part, does a fine job, no better or worse than his previous work, but I miss the somewhat more inspired artist of the mid-90's. A-

S/A: James Kochalka. (Top Shelf, $5)

Reading this book is like listening to a precociously bright but potty-mouthed eight-year-old tell you about the superhero comic he just wrote- it's utterly nutball and vulgar and puerile and inane...and I find it hilarious. You can't expect sophistication from this; you kinda have to park your adult mindset at the door, and I know that's hard for some but I guess I'm able to do it, too easily, I suspect. I also seriously doubt that this would work half as well as it does with another artist; Kochalka's simple figures and neon colors enhance the goofy vibe so much that anybody else would fall flat. If you're unable to access your inner eight-year-old, you might want to pass, but if you let him out once in a while I think you'll enjoy this a lot. It's just as good as the three previous issues. A

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

Cooke continues his revisionist history; this time we get Sand Serif recast as a CIA agent instead of the international thief she was in the Eisner stories. And that's fair, I guess- practically everything Eisner did in the late 40's and early 50's was inspired by the glamorous and larger-than-life cinema classics of the day, and these days that glamor is gone, replaced by the likes of 24 and Syriana- more down-to-Earth, lean and mean and less romanticized. So a Sand for the Aughts is less a femme fatale and more of a fatal female; like Alias and so on. Fair enough. I also enjoyed the return of new character Hussein, filling the Peter Lorre-style role of the secondary character who is always less brave and more clever than he seems. Art-wise, as solid as always. Overall, Cooke seems to be settling in and the best is yet to come, I believe. A-

Still to come: reviews of Fall of Cthulhu 0, Keith Giffen's Tag: Cursed 1, and First in Space.
After reading about Sitemeter's allowance of spyware cookies, I decided to change tracking sites for this blog. Let the record show that my old counter logged 238,379 visits before I switched.

I decided to go with, another free tracking service, which has made it a point to let everyone know that they have (so far) resisted all overtures to add the spyware cookie to their code. I could have started the new counter at the above number, but I thought what the hell- let's see how many I get from this point forward.

Reviews coming soon, and maybe even other stuff eventually! Keep watching the skies!

Friday, April 06, 2007

I don't usually post web search terms from my referral site, since plenty of other people do it and I've never had the patience to collate them all, but I got one today that I thought was pretty funny:

how did eclipso turn black mary marvel's boobs bigger

You got me, fella. Must have been magic.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hello again- once more the crickets have been chirping loudly hereabouts, and that makes me a little sad but I've had several fish to fry, kites to fly, places to be and people to see, et cetera.

Comics reviews will be forthcoming; last week's shipment wasn't a large one:

100 BULLETS #82
DMZ #17

And that was it! I also recently received a copy of the Leading Man TPB, which I have already reviewed as I got it in singles format (mostly positive, I might add), so I probably won't do it again...although I've learned never to say never; and an advance copy of the forthcoming First in Space, which I definitely will include in the next BSNCR.

Looking ahead into the future, namely the shipment I will receive a week from Friday, so far all I have listed is

JONAH HEX #18 and

Not exactly a large haul, is it? And frankly, none of them have me trembling with anticipation, even though Iron Fist has been pretty good so far. Don't know if that means that my 40-plus year infatuation with comics is finally dwindling, or what...but it sure seems like I'm buying less and less these days...

I suppose I could do a look at the upcoming solicits- but there just isn't a lot that's piquing my interest. That said, I will now proceed to comment on one cover:

Countdown 47, unless I'm mistaken. Now, please don't get me wrong, I am not a big fan of the apparent Last Temptation of Mary Marvel storyline that's coming, and I must admit that the shinyl vinyl balloon boobies and peekaboo cheerleader suit that artist Ed Benes has chosen to endow our quite contrary Mary with are a little on the exploitative side. But, against my better judgment, I still like the overall dramatic effect this cover has- granted largely (I believe) by the coloring and Photoshoppery employed by the colorist. Plus, it is a dramatic pose, no doubt about it. So, while I will admit that it probably rates a 6.5 on the Heidi Meeley "Is it gratuitous?" scale, I kinda like it anyway. Not enough to actually buy the damned thing, though.

Mike Konczewski has created a Super-Hip! Wikipedia page- go check it out! Wish I'd done it first...

There seems to be one of those memes going around, based on a panel from Detective #426. To actually enter something presupposes wit on my part, so I've not done one so far, but my favorite to date has been Trusty Plinko Stick Bill's.

OK, it's getting late and I'm pretty much out of links right now, so I will bid you a fond good evening and I'll see ya when I see ya!