Friday, October 31, 2008


Tonight's the final round of Friday Night Fights: Ladies' Night, and for this momentous occasion I present three pages of Vixen, doing that thing she do. This is from the first issue of her ongoing miniseries Vixen: Return of the Lion, on sale in finer comics selling establishments everywhere. Writin' by G. Willow Wilson, artin' by Cafu. Gesundheit.

From The Johnny Bacardi Show

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


And they are:


UNKNOWN SOLDIER #1 (I know, I already reviewed this one. I explained that whole thing the other day.)


HELLBOY IN THE CHAPEL OF MOLOCH is by none other than Mike Mignola! I've been wondering for a long time what his take on Hellboy would be like and...oh. Wait. Heh. Never mind.

MADAME XANADU #5 sports a loverly cover, I think anyway. Check it:
Madame Xanadu Issue 5 Cover by ~Tentopet on deviantART


Also, while I'm thinking about it:

From The Johnny Bacardi Show

Sometimes I'm not so sure that one hand knew what the other hand was doing in the early days of Marvel; note the "Scarlet" Witch on the above cover.

Monday, October 27, 2008

As you can tell from all the above display, it's time for another Bacardi Show Birthday Greeting slash Tribute! Today's spotlight is on that Master of the Macabre, BERNIE WRIGHTSON, who according to Tom turns the big 60 today.

I don't know exactly when I first laid eyes on Wrightson's work; I'm sure I saw it on the spinner rack on a cover of one of DC's (or perhaps Marvel- he did a couple of things for them in the very early 70's) horror-themed books...but the first place I recall becoming aware of it was in Swamp Thing #4, which was the first issue of that seminal series that I ever picked up and read. I also think it was not long after that I spotted this ad (top of the page if you click) for DC's Shadow comic, which eventually ended up being done by Mike Kaluta (with ink assists from Bernie at various junctures, including total inks on #3). And as with so many of his early-mid 70's peers that I've written about lately- Kaluta, Chaykin, Simonson, etc- I was absolutely blown away. Didn't miss an issue of Swampy after that (but it wasn't just for Wrightson's art- I really liked that series, even after he sadly left with issue #10), and I grabbed up any and every thing I saw that he drew, even covers, for most of the major companies like Warren, where he did some of his finest work. We're talking serious obsession here, folks- back when I was laboring under the foolish notion that I wanted to draw comics one day, I would literally copy entire panels out of Swamp Thing comics, trying to nail that fluid style he had, in which everything he drew seemed to be perpetually coiled and in motion, like the folds of clothing and drapes that he drew so well. Of course, I eventually found out about the Studio (which he shared with Kaluta, Jeffrey Jones and Barry Smith, favorites all) and its attendant portfolio book, which I bought as soon as I could find it in 1979, and eventually discovered (most likely via Pal Dave) that he was the latest in a long line of horror/fantasy artists such as Frank Frazetta, "Ghastly" Graham Ingels, Wally Wood, Jack Davis and others, and these were his direct influences. I bought the Frankenstein portfolio, and marveled at its insane detail and amazing fine-line rendering. Hell, when my son was born in 1982, I almost named him after Mr. Wrightson...but I just didn't know if I wanted to keep explaining to people why (not to mention my son having to explain it years later) so I decided against it. Anyway, that just shows to go ya how much into Mr. Wrightson's work I was as a young man.

Sadly, as time has passed his work has lost some of the qualities which attracted me to it so intensely in my teenage years; I think it's just my evolving tastes more than any loss of facility on his part. Still, for my money, comics art doesn't get much better than the output he produced from roughly 1969 till 1980 or so- and in that spirit, I hope Bernie has a wonderful birthday, and many more. And will always wonder why he added the "e" back to the end of his first name.

Here's Mr. Wrightson's official website.

Here's a cover gallery.

Also, here's "The Black Cat", scripted and illustrated by Wrightson.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Time once more for CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE, that more-or-less ongoing and often overdue feature in which I write shortish reviews of various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted such reviews upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately October 11 through October 25, 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 #96: After last issue's detour into grim irony, we finally get to find out the outcome of the big Dizzy-Lono fight in #94. Also, we get a cool/funny phone conversation between Graves and the big Hawaiian. Otherwise, as we head into the home stretch, (repeat after me) another well-done issue what will engage the already engaged, baffle the uninitiated, and even baffle the initiated upon occasion. I think I'll continue to cut and paste this review for the next 4 issues. A-

AIR #3:
For this they cancelled American Virgin? C+

Hugely entertaining little serial adventure in which Batgirl and Catwoman play cat and mouse for seven issues' worth of fast-paced and funny shenanigans, even getting Batman and most of his rogues' gallery involved via a detour into Arkham in the process...and all over the stolen notebook of Comissioner Gordon, which Babs lost and Selina stole. And how can I not mention the total fanboy service Gotham sex club scene which I so nicely posted for you all the other day? Typically well drawn by Kevin Maguire, expressive as always, and surprisingly well written by Fabian Nicenza, he of a million dour and dire X-books for Marvel in the Nineties, who manages to channel Giffen and DeMatteis' bwah effectively and consistently. I hope they collect this, and you should too. A

THE BOYS #23: Perhaps it's because the history lesson is finally over and we're back to the usual goings-on, this issue seemed to flow better. Of course, you just knew Garth was gonna get around to taking the piss out of the whole X-Men thing eventually, and that time has come in spades. By now I think you know what to expect from this book, and if you don't, you just haven't been paying attention. For them what likes, and I do like, here is more. A-

B.P.R.D.: THE WARNING #4: This story zigged when I thought it was going to zag, and has lost a lot of its effectiveness when it abruptly switched to a soldiers-vs.-giant robots scenario from the more interesting weird robed guy that haunts Liz Sherman's dreams storyline. I guess that's still there, but it's been folded into a narrative that I think is trying to do too much all at once, and not even the great Guy Davis can prop it up all that much. B-

I'm beginning to wonder exactly is going on with this title, even though Bill Willingham helpfully tries to explain in the text page- by committing to extending this series beyond its preplanned ending, he runs the risk of anticlimax...but he also kinda sabotaged his climax by presenting it as such a fait accompli. So. I think I should just give up wondering where he's going and try and enjoy the ride, I suppose, and that's easy to do when you give me Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (two of my favorite fictional characters of all time) in everything but name, and wonder of wonders, you do a very good job of writing them to boot. Mark Buckingham, now inked by Andrew Pepoy, does his typical Mark Buckingham thing, you know, that thing he's been doing for several years now. A-

Reviewed at A-

FINAL CRISIS: REVELATIONS #3: More of the same dour mix of superheroics, violence, dimestore theology, philosophy, and other -sophys, filtered through the prism of Jack Kirby, John Ostrander, George Romero flicks, and Gotham Central. It does tie in, tangentially, to FC so if you're trying to play along at home it warrants your attention, or if like me you still have a little affection for the Spectre character, or the new Question, or the new Batwoman. Otherwise, you might want to steer clear because this is a slog. C+

FINAL CRISIS: ROGUE'S REVENGE #3: Now this is a Final Crisis tie-in with teeth- Johns writes these scowling Flash baddies like he was in a bad mood himself when he did so, and it adds the the general sour tone. Some genuinely surprising events here, too, with Libra and the Rogues, even though there is the requisite carnage and grimness as well. If you're going to wallow in this sort of thing, then for gosh sakes don't be half-assed about it, and Johns gets that. Scott Kolins's art is busy and over-rendered, and is a little too distracting because of it, but it's serviceable. One of the more effective FC tie-ins, if you ask me. A-

This reads so clumsily for about 3/4 of its duration that I thought Grant was employing ghost writers to help him stay caught up in the course of this sprawling out-of-control crossover monster he's created, but a second reading assures me he hasn't, which is a little dismaying because it's just so obvious and flatfooted. But then he shows us Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning, AND I SPOIL HERE, newly converted to anti-life, burning the same books that he so stiffly and long-windedly spent most of the the story extolling the virtues of, SPOILER OVER, and I was actually horrified and saddened at the sight of it. Maybe it's just the book reader in me, dunno, but that one scene redeems for me what was mostly a poorly drawn and slovenly written comic. Oh, and you might want to read this before you read Final Crisis #4. Unless you read my spoiler sentence, then I may have saved you three bucks. C+

GREATEST HITS #2: Second issue of this clever miniseries doesn't really break new ground, but does continue to expand the core conceit beautifully. Dave Tischman continues to prove that he's not just Howard Chaykin's mouthpiece. I think Pete Best should read this and see that it could have been worse. Also, another great job by Glenn Fabry on art, no big surprise there either. The act you've known for all these years. A

HAWAIIAN DICK: SCREAMING BLACK THUNDER #5: Yeah, sure, it's tardy, and the resolution of the whole ghost pilots in the sky thing was a bit anticlimactic. But I like what Moore's doing with the ancillary characters, especially the would-be crime boss they call the Thinker, who seems to have had a meeting with, gasp, someone who's dead- or is he? (cue thunder crash, or volcano rumble)...and the subplot involving Byrd and the mysterious P.I. who's come to the island is promising as well. Scott Chantler, you made a believer out of me; I wasn't sure your style was a good fit at first but I came to accept it and even enjoy it before it was done. Now get back to work on Northwest Passage, Scott, okay? A-

Another BOOM! title that just screams "film me!" A mix of a lot of elements from a lot of places, Hexed! gives us a young lady named "Lucifer", uh huh, who is a thief for hire whose specialty is stealing supernatural objects. One of her patrons is a snobby art gallery director, with whom she has a Devil Wears Prada-type relationship. She's approached by a not-welcome fellow from her past who coerces her into working off her "debt" to him by stealing some arcane object called a "Carasinth", and she's off, using necromancy of a most disgusting sort to find a way to the demon's realm in which the object is kept. It reminds me of lots of things- Supernatural, Charmed, Tru Calling, Hellblazer, Image Comics' Strange Girl from a couple of years ago, and probably others I'm too braindead to think of at present- but curiously enough, this is enjoyable enough...which is to say that the dialogue's not terribly cliched, and even though the situations are a bit familiar they're at least not especially contrived, or at least one doesn't notice them being so. Artist Emma Rios tells a story well enough, although her pencils aren't really done any favors by digitally inking them in lieu of actual inks, plus the garish colors really are hard on the eyes. A nip here and a tuck there, and this could get its feet under it and become interesting, I do believe. B

They say this isn't trying to tie in with the Dark Knight flick but that's bullshit. We get the sort of story that they used to sell as an "Elseworlds" one-shot, all gussied up and in hardcover, to hopefully attract the attention of the punters at Barnes & Noble. Not that there's anything wrong with that. And all told, this isn't a bad story per's certainly intense, and Brian Azzarello mostly succeeds in capturing Heath Ledger's randomness in his portrayal of the character, but it's also an uninspired, by-the-numbers story we've seen in all sorts of places before. Azz sets up an alternate Gotham City in which the Joker returns from an unspecified period away at Arkham, how he got out no onee knows and he ain't tellin'- and seeks to reestablish his kingdom by any means possible, including gratuitous violence. We witness this through the eyes of reader stand-in Jackie Frost, ha ha, who soon finds out, of course, that he's getting more than he bargained for. We also get some re-imagined Gotham villains, most notably a weird-ass Riddler simulacrum that may just be the most memorable thing in the whole book. Art is by Lee Bermejo, who I remember as doing a bang-up job on Hellblazer a while back, and he does fine for the most part, even though most of his figure drawings are excessively rendered to the point where they resemble paper that's been wadded up and re-spread out. He's a solid craftsman, though, and he makes this look pretty good. Problem is, there's nothing here, other than some visual fake-outs, that we haven't seen in the last decade or so of Batman proper comics...which would seem to diminish the appeal to the hardcore comics fan and limit prospective sales to those who don't know all that much about Batman comics history, but liked the movie, and are seeking a printed sample of more in that vein. And maybe I'm naive and foolish, but I can't imagine that there are that many of that sort of readers out there. C+

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #19: Even though Johns has been on a minor winning streak lately, this was the first issue of this title that I've come away disappointed in since I started reading it. I still have a hard time figuring out why they're all following gargantuan, wish-granting Gog around; I know, they want to keep an eye on him, but there's not a hell of a lot they can do with him if he decides to act out; and the whole battle-within-the-team thing was just contrived and tiresome. Oh well, at least we got some good characterization, mostly involving the people left back home, specifically the charming Cyclone and her pet chimp, and the usual solid art. B+

MEAT CAKE #17: As I've said on numerous occasions, Dame Darcy's whimsically primitive work is a hate-it-or-love-it proposition, and I love it, even though I'll be damned if I can tell you why exactly. A convincing argument could be made by this issue, I do believe- its three stories are some of the best things, both story and art-wise, I've even seen her do...the fairy story, the rude/crude rockstar story, and the expansive, imaginative, dare I say even epic "Spider Silk Tropics", starring her standard repertoire of characters, are all done with a passion and commitment, and yet also with a wink and a nod, and that, I do think, is the mark of an outstanding storyteller. I think, if (to borrow a turn of phrase from Ian Anderson, of all people) you're geared towards the exceptional rather than the average, then I think you might come to agree with me. A

MANHUNTER #35: Kate's still trying to bring down the metahuman farm in Mexico, and this turns out to be another all-star fight issue for the most part- par for the course for a struggling title trying to claw its way up the sales charts. For this sort of thing, it's well-handled enough although I find myself hoping that they move on to other things before this run is done. The subplot with her kid is working OK, and the subplot with Chase just pisses me off. B

TINY TITANS #9: Cute. A-

UNKNOWN SOLDIER #1: Reviewed at B+

ZOMBIE TALES #6: This one's a bit better than #5; fewer ambiguous endings. Lead story has a OK twist at the end; Skywald-worthy, if not Warren-worthy; third story was clever enough in its Shaun of the Dead kinda way, and I liked the sentiment at the end. Second story, by our boy Ian Brill and Toby Cypress, is enigmatic in all the right ways, and Cypress' loose, sketchy but never hard to parse art is outstanding, reminding me of people like Paul Pope or Joe Kubert. Ian, lord love him, has come up with another interesting spin on zombie stories, and I'd like to read more about that Henry Carve guy. Hopefully we'll get to. B+

Friday, October 24, 2008


It's still Ladies' Night at Bahlactus' four-color squared circle, and my offering tonight is a scrap involving a character of which I knew a whole bunch of nothing: MISS MASQUE. She appeared in comics published by a company of which I was equally ignorant, Nedor Comics. I think a lot of the characters published by this company, including the Fighting Yank and the Black Terror, have been revived for modern audiences at least twice, the most recent being Alan Moore's America's Best Comics, in the pages of Tom Strong and I also seem to recall a one-shot or series of minis or something. Anyway, Miss M is secretly Canadian socialite Diana Adams (why were Golden Age heroines always socialites? Guess they had more time on their hands, I dunno), who solves mysteries and fights crime- even risking getting shot at by the Devil! Aw, OK, it's not really ol' Beelzebub, but it is a compelling visual, eh? Anyway, the names of the writer and artist of this little opus have been lost to the sands of time. But, thanks to the fine folks at Nedor-A-Day, we can still enjoy her, and her compatriots', exploits.

Many folks throughout the internets are excited, and justly so, because TCM is airing the little-seen film The World's Greatest Sinner, Timothy Carey's opus that features music by Frank Zappa, early this morning. But nobody's talking about the film that they'll be screening directly after, and one which is almost as little-seen (and currently unavailable on DVD, to the best of my knowledge), Zappa's 1971 200 Motels. It's set to air at 2:45 am Central, 3:45 Eastern...and even though I own the VHS copy, I'd be tempted to watch it if I could stay up that late!

Motels is a very odd and typically free-form movie, done at a time when Frank was beginning to be interested in branching out into filmmaking, and which stars a host of people including Ringo Starr as "Larry the Dwarf", a character that is supposed to be a stand-in for Zappa himself (who only actually appears during concert sequences); Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, aka "Flo and Eddie", former Turtles who were by then performing as members of the Mothers of Invention; Pamela Des Barres (nee Miller) along with the rest of Zappa's groupies-slash-girl group the GTO's; Theo Bikel, who was an actual actor, Keith Moon, who spends most of the movie dressed like a nun, and members of the Mothers both past (Don Preston, Jimmy Carl Black (the "token Indian of the group") who gets a lot of funny lines, Motorhead Sherwood) and present (George Duke, Aynsley Dunbar, Jim Pons (another former Turtle), and Ian Underwood). Also appearing as Jeff Simmons, one of Zappa's guitarists who bailed just before filming began to tour on his solo album Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up, was Moon's chauffeur Martin Lickert.

There is an underlying theme to the mostly chaotic madness- this was said at the time to be a collection of fantasies inspired by the unending tedium of the road. There's a lot of in-jokes about the band members, most notably at Simmons' expense, and many of the set pieces are clever...but the strength of the whole thing, for me at least, remains the intermittent concert sequences that spotlight the Mothers performing songs done for the movie, such as the rocking "Mystery Roach" and "Magic Fingers" (yep, about those vibrating beds in motel rooms), and some of the musical set pieces such as Black's performance of "Lonesome Cowboy Burt", a mock-country tune about a horny redneck in a honky-tonk bar. Black's sour voice is a natural. Zappa's more classical-oriented score pieces are among his best, as well. Otherwise, it can be slow going sometimes, especially during some of the more surreal setpieces. None of the cast, with the possible exception of Bikel, can act at all, although Kaylan and Volman have their moments because they're natural clowns in front of the camera. There's also an amusing animated sequence in the middle, in which Zappa and company poke fun at Donovan and Simmons as well as the whole showbiz thing at the time.

If you find yourself awake in the wee hours, and you haven't seen this, and you're even a little bit of a Zappa fan, you owe it to yourself to see it at least once. I think it's worth setting the TiVo for anyway, so you can watch it at your leisure. Once in a blue moon I'll fish out the VHS tape I have and fast forward to the parts I like. It's kinda crude, and misses as often as it hits, but it's definitely a unique experience, with perhaps only the Monkees' Head rivaling it for whatever it is. No coincidence, Zappa was in that film as well.

Behold the trailer!


After a brain fart induced false start back on Wednesday, I can now proudly announce that today marks SIX YEARS since I started posting stuff on this blog.

Unlike last year, I'm not going to make any announcements that can be misconstrued; instead, I'll just thank everyone who continues to read and comment, and I promise to do my best to try not and suck in the future.

Also, thanks to the mighty Mike Sterling for the early shout-out, and congrats to blogsister Tegan on her own 6 year anniversary two days ago.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kids, I'm furiously typing away at comics reviews, which I hope to get posted before the weekend's over- but in the meantime, I want to take the opportunity to pass along the contents of an email that Sonny Liew sent me the other day, and I've been remiss in not posting sooner:

* PRESS RELEASE - DRAW YOUR OWN LIQUID CITY ROBOT AND WIN! Image Comics' upcoming anthology, Liquid City, holds contest for robot drawing artists!*

16 October 2008 (Berkeley, CA) - To coincide with the upcoming LIQUID CITY anthology, editor Sonny Liew is inviting the artists of to submit their own robot designs for the chance to win big!

"The variety of robot designs is practically limitless," said editor Sonny Liew. "I hope we'll see lots of fun and interesting ones sent in for the contest."

The LIQUID CITY Draw-A-Robot Contest is your chance to one of three signed copies of LIQUID CITY for the grand prize - a page of original art from the story by Liew and Mike Carey, "Faces." To enter, simply create and design an original robot - no fan art - and submit it by by November 2nd 2008 (EST). Winners will be notified on the Liew's DeviantArt journal on November, 5th. For more information and contest details, please see

LIQUID CITY (SEP082215), a full-color 326-page anthology for $29.99, will be in stores November 5th 2008.

And if ya win, and you saw it here, tell 'im Johnny B sent ya!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Anachronisms aside, this would be about six dozen kinds of awesome. This is just one of a series of James Bama Doc Savage/classic monsters and literary character mashups Keith Wilson has done- go here for the full set. I also want to read this one and this one. This one, not so much.

Found via the excellent Frankensteinia blog.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How about Potpourri for $200, Alex?

Tom's Five for Friday was an interesting one, as it so often is; the official title was "Name Five Beautiful Comics Characters And The Artist That Depicts Them That Way, Including At Least One Of Each Gender, In The Exact Format: Artist's Character." If I take that at its face meaning, by "artist's character" he meant a character created by (at least visually) by the artist, and because I was rushing to get it in on deadline my answers, I suppose, fudged a bit- Doug Mahnke didn't create Wonder Woman, nor did Igor Kordey (had a hard time choosing between his version and actual creator, or at least first artist J.G. Jones') create the Yelena Belova Black Widow- but Tom put 'em up anyway so I guess it's cool. Be that as it may, there were several other characters that I considered (and even fit the exact criteria) but could only name five- so I thought I'd post 'em here. And they are:

Khari Evans' Misty Knight;

Jaime Hernandez' Maggie Chascarrillo (Love and Rockets), especially mid-90's style. Nothing against Hopey, heaven knows, but Maggie's closer to my temperament, I think. She looks a little careworn these days, which is a shame but that's the way it goes sometimes. I look that way too.

J.H. Williams III's Promethea and, of course, Chase.

P. Craig Russell's Volcana Ash (Amazing Adventures/War of the Worlds feat. Killraven; I also really liked his Mint Julep. Yeah, freaky names I know.);

Eisner's Plaster of Paris (The Toast of Montmarte! I can't find any page scans of her- all I can find is frigging pics of Paz Vega from Miller's movie. I'll keep looking);

Paul Pope's Kim from 100% (Daisy's pal, she of the teakettle symphony scene, as well as the great scene in issue one in which she gets the willies when a car approaches her from behind);

Jason Armstrong's Kinetix from Legion of Super Heroes (See above; even though a group of fine artists such as Jeff Moy, Lee Moder, and Alan Davis has drawn her, I liked this guy's version best- even though he only drew one or two issues);

Chris Sprouse's Andromeda from Legionnaires;

Adam Hughes', well, just about any character! Of course, I can't think of any he's actually created, so take that for what it's worth.

Adam Warren's Dirty Pair, especially the later ones, by which time he had refined his style to be less slavishly imitative of manga.

Bob Oksner and Wallace Wood's Angel O'Day;

Howard Chaykin's Medea Blitz from American: Flagg! and Shebaba O'Neil (left) from the Ironwolf series;

Mike Kaluta's Madame Xanadu (of course, i also like his lithe versions of the Shadow's Margo Lane and Starstruck's Erotica Ann);

Becky Cloonan's Cyndi from American Virgin;

And a host of others that don't come to mind immediately.

In other things that have popped up here and there lately, in the wonderful world of comics and its attendant blogosphere:

I see where the cultishly popular but sales-challenged Manhunter has once again been canceled with issue #38. That's too bad; it was an entertaining series with a well-rounded lead character, and enough time had gone by to allow writer Mark Andreyko to develop a clutch of interesting subplots and supporting characters, most notably (to me, anyway) Cameron Chase, which led me to pick up the book to begin with. I'm also seeing a lot of the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth among the cult at the news, and that's to be expected, plus I sympathize, really I do. I am and remain a faithful buyer and reader of the title; I like the often flinty and gruff Kate Spencer character, and Andreyko hasn't mishandled Chase all that badly, pregnancy aside. Oops, spoiler, sorry. Anyway, now I'm reading about another email campaign to save the book and so on and so forth and...people. Let it go. It had a 38 issue run, far more than a lot of titles of its ilk get. Chase? She only got 8, 9 if you count that 1,000,000 issue. Major Bummer? 15. Many, many good comics, better that Manhunter even got a lot less. As I said when I reviewed the first issue of this latest relaunch, this is never going to be anything more than a fringe title at best, admired and supported by a few rather than a majority...and these days, books that sell in the tens of thousands or less are just killing trees as far as DC is concerned. There was nothing new or different about this relaunch, or the second one for that matter, and I'm sure DC thought word of mouth might improve the numbers- but it didn't. I don't blame them for killing it, really, even though I will miss the book. I think we all need to move on. Perhaps go worry about Blue Beetle now.

Also, a tempest in a teapot popped up last week when Noah Berlatsky posted a negative review of the first trade collection of 100 Bullets, which fostered a hubbub in the comments section (and I was one of the initial shit-stirrers, it seems) that eventually spread, wildfire-like, onto message boards and Blog@Newsarama, even involving pros like Mark Waid, before eventually subsiding. Heck, it may be going strong still, I stopped paying attention not long after the first post, although I have skimmed subsequent posts and comments and have been seeing updates at the Beat. A small part of the outcry was caused by a mistake that I brought to Noah's attention (which I'm sure someone would have called him out on if I hadn't)- he panned a cover illustration that he credited to interior artist Ed Risso, but was actually done by longtime 100B cover guy Dave Johnson. That's fine, we all make mistakes and I know I've made more than my share. It's also fine that he didn't care for that first trade, even though I think he was premature in dismissing the entire series out of hand after that one book; kinda like giving up on Citizen Kane after his parents give him up for adoption. Heck, I have been critical of Azzarello's magnum opus myself; I think it's mutated into something that's perhaps a bit too elaborate for the reader's good, at least in terms of clarity and comprehension, even though I'm willing to hold out hope that he will bring it home in fine fashion at the end. But the problem is that he took a stance which came across to me like he didn't care, that it wasn't important that he didn't have his facts straight, and couldn't be bothered to do a little research to get it right. That's kinda troubling to me, especially since this guy gets published in the Comics Journal, which is supposed to be pretty much the apex of sequential storytelling criticism and commentary. Sure, life is short and there's a lot of stuff out there to keep up with, and I'm sure that he feels like he has more important things to do than make sure he knows what he's popping off about- but I think there's something to be said for plain old intellectual curiosity, the desire and/or urge to know more about something which has drawn one's attention, and I'd expect that from someone who apparently is held in high enough regard to write for the Journal. Oh well. When all is said and done, it's his blog, he can write what he wants, and in the end it's only to himself that he's accountable.

Also couldn't help but be annoyed at Rich Johnston, in his latest Lying in the Gutters column- he gives us a paragraph (headed "Blind Items") full of naughty gossip about some individuals in the comics biz, but by not naming names or at least making it possible for us to guess who these people are, he becomes the equivalent of one of those people, you know the ones, who come up to you and tell you that they know an incredible secret that would blow your mind if you knew it, then won't tell you what it is. It's not that I have a burning desire to know this, mind you- in fact, I could be quite content not knowing since my life is filled with enough unpleasantness and boorish behavior as it is. But if you're not gonna tell all, then I have to wonder what the point of putting that stuff out there is, anyway. Is it solely to remind everyone that he is an insider, and privy to knowledge that we mere mortals aren't meant to know? Are we supposed to be impressed, to think he's so cool? Was he having a little insecurity attack there, and decided to get a little ego-boo? Aah, who knows. Just struck me as curious, that's all. And it's not like he's the only "connected" blogger that does this sort of thing, for that matter.

Hm, let's see...I'd like to bring this to a close on a positive note. Ah, here. Looking at the Diamond shipping list for Wednesday, I see where DC is rereleasing Paul Pope's Heavy Liquid in a new hardcover edition. I bought a trade collection a couple of years ago, read it, and enjoyed it like I do most of Pope's work (especially in this vein)...but curiously had nothing really to say about it at the time, so it remains unreviewed by yours truly to this day. Anazingly enough, the world has continued to turn despite this, so that's good. Anyway, I liked it and I think you'd like it too if you have the cash. Also, Trevor Von Eeden's long-awaited Jack Johnson bio is now appearing online at; it's looking very good so far- he's beginning to flex some long-unused storytelling muscles, and when he gets his speed up I think it will be amazing. Finally, I had a large time reading this, which got put up yesterday at scans_daily- it's a Sub-Mariner story from Tales to Astonish, that Gene Colan started but couldn't finish and Jack Kirby (whatta pinch-hitter) had to complete, and it's pretty much a knock-down drag-out brawl from start to end between Subby and Iron Man, that just sings despite Roy Thomas' typically hamfisted dialogue. You should check it out, unless you just don't like fun.

After a one week hiatus, Bahlactus is back with another call for four-color fracases (fracasii? What is the plural of fracas?), involving the ladies of the comics world, called FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS! My submission for tonight, pun mostly intended, is every fanman's wet dream- from the recently completed Batman Confidential story arc that featured Barbara Gordon's Batgirl and Catwoman teaming up, if you want to call it that, to fight Russian mobsters as well as each other over Babs' dad's notebook. In this seven-page scene, which surely answers the prayers of those who yearned to see Babs and Selina in a naked catfight, if you will, Batgirl has been forced to follow Ms. Kyle into a Gotham underground sex club in which clothing is not allowed...and of course chaos ensues. From the very enjoyable (and not always for prurient reasons) Batman Confidential #18...written by Fabian Nicenza, of all people (successfully channeling Giffen and DeMatteis' bwah-ha-ha style) and illustrated by the incomparable Kevin Maguire. Oh, and click to see the images all embiggened.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Time once more for CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE, that more-or-less ongoing and often overdue feature in which I write shortish reviews of various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted such reviews upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately September 29 through October 10, 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.

BATMAN #680: I don't know, everybody- yeah, this is Grant we're talking about here, but this is a frigging mess. Even though Morrison is usually a font of ideas and possibilities, sometimes I think he has trouble expressing those ideas coherently, especially when paired with, shall we say, less gifted collaborators- and he's certainly saddled with one this time out, I think it's safe to say, even though the three-issue arc with J.H. Williams III succumbed to incoherence at the end as well. I like that that Morrison is trying to stir in a lot of different ingredients from a lot of off-the-wall periods in the character's history; the whole what-the-hell aspect of it is probably its biggest strength. He's muddied the mix with me by throwing in the Joker, which evokes more of a "oh no not him again" reaction with me than a "Oh, cool!"- and the split tongue is just disgusting for the sake of being disgusting. Maybe I'd be more attuned if I had been reading as far back as the pre-Williams issues, where this cliched Damien character is introduced, but that's not the case; if I'm trying to read something titled "Batman: RIP", and they put that title at the top, then that's where I'm starting, damn it. Oh well. Short story long, this is very flawed but interesting in a car-crash kind of way, and I'm idly curious about the big revelation next issue that Grant has promised, so I'll be getting next issue no matter what and then we will see what we will see. C+

BATMAN STRIKES #50: Late for the party as usual, this was my first issue of DC's most recent animated Batman series tie-in, and it was provoked by fond memories of the last time I recall Etrigan the Demon popping up in one of these things, Batman Adventures Annual #2. While this isn't better that that 1995 annual (no Bruce Timm on art, for starters), it's still a passable supernatural adventure story, in which new-to-me writer James Peaty works in those three demon guys (whose names elude me and I'm too lazy to look up), a puzzle box straight out of Hellraiser in which they were imprisoned, and the odd-looking Trent Reznor-looking TV Riddler, of all people, and maintains a frantic pace throughout. Drawn in that almost-Timm style by Christopher Jones and Terry Beatty, and they acquit themselves well for the most part; it's not especially inspired but it is efficient. This is the last issue of this particular iteration of the character; I guess we're supposed to be sad but really- as long as there is a Johnny DC line, a Batman book will be part of I'm sure it won't be long before something takes its place. B+

Just in time for the MLB playoffs and the World Series, here's a nostalgic baseball saga by the same guys that brought us the somewhat fondly-remembered Hench. Writer Adam Beechen does a nice job with the random cast members' characterization; I especially like the ex-con junkball pitcher (in a movie, I could see him played by Joseph Cotten or even the Professor, Russell Johnson) who is fond of making up sounds-like-bible quotes, and he successfully evokes the spirit of a hundred and one late 40's-1950's B-movie baseball movies, not to mention low-budget noir flicks, with his story. But I don't think he understands baseball as a sport or business very well; the owner of a team in pre-free agency and guaranteed contracts 1961 didn't have to tell a manager to "retire" an unwanted player; the owner just traded him, sent him to the minors, or cut him outright. It was business. Also, while the whole "If we had this guy pitching for us, we'd win the World Series thing" sounds really nice from a stage or screen dramatics standpoint, in real life it takes a lot more than one good pitcher to take a team all the way to the top- just ask Steve Carlton about his stint with the Phillies in 1972. Anyway, it's still a diverting little prison break story, even though I wish it had zigged and zagged a bit more on its way to its final destination. Manny Bello continues to build on the promise he showed in Hench; all his characters have a well-worn schlumpy kind of look, like baggy-uniformed baseball players and their bosses tended to have back then- except the love interest, oddly drawn with simpler, cleaner lines and a more animated cartoon aspect than the remainder of the cast, almost as if he was trying to make her come across like Glenn Close does at "Wrigley Field" in The Natural. He still has more than a few awkward poses, and the art tends to be dark and the inking sloppy...but he still manages to tell the story well and I'll certainly be interested in what he illustrates next. Dugout, while far from perfect, is still a good, diverting read, especially if you are interested in, or even remember, baseball as it used to be. B+

EL DIABLO #2: Standard-issue Big Two supernatural superheroics, as the newly minted title character continues to face his various demons, so to speak, while being mentored by a ghostly Yoda figure and of course he's hotheaded and doesn't understand his place in the big picture and of course he's a hothead so he charges off on his own private agenda which of course doesn't go well and of course there are people who he thinks are his enemies that aren't really and he will of course eventually learn to work with them rather than against them and...well, I think you get the picture. While the story underwhelms, writer Nitz is very fortunate to have the assured hands of Phil Hester and Ande Parks to bring it to life with their jagged, kinetic style, aided by the bold hues and vivid Photoshoppery of colorist Guy Major. It's because of them that this is as readable as it is, not because of the recycled Ghost Rider (both versions) and Spectre tropes. B+

FERRYMAN #1: Don't pay the Ferryman, or so the song goes; however, in this case it would be a better idea to come up with the money I think. Pretty much one big Itchy and Scratchy Show episode, as the title character, a supernatural repo man of a sort, questions himself and his purpose while inflicting pain upon, and in turn getting pain returned upon, himself as he attempts to do his job and bring in a fellow who is trying to welsh on his Faustian deal with the devil. This could have been awful, but it helps that Manhunter's Marc Andreyko is doing the scripting; the dialogues, both inner and outer, are well-written and the pace is brisk. Artist Jonathan Wayshak, another new-to-me illustrator, has a sketchy, scratchy, kinetic style, reminiscent perhaps of Simon Bisley, that works pretty well with the material for the most part; it doesn't exactly move me but doesn't hurt my eyes either. As this sort of tv slash movie tie-in thing goes, it's not too bad, but I'm reminded of an issue of Global Frequency (drawn by Bisley, coincidentally- or perhaps not so- enough) that was similar in vibe to this, and it was my least favorite of the make of it what you will. C+

GEARS OF WAR #1: For the life of me, I don't know why the Powers That Be think that these video game tie-ins will be interesting to anyone- people who aren't hardcore gamers can't care less, and those who are won't get the same sort of experience from the static page. Undaunted, many publishers still throw these things together then put them out in the world to general indifference. Can't imagine why this won't suffer the same fate- it's pretty much a bunch of big guys walking around being macho and shooting mutants, and despite some not-bad Liam Sharp art (didn't care for his work on Vertigo's Testament at all), it's just kinda routine and dull. C-

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #6: The lead this time is the story of one of the House's servers, who used to be a pirate queen Bloody Bess type but was led astray by love. It works OK. Second half is taken up by the residents' plans for escape, and it progresses the story well enough. This isn't exactly a thrill-a-minute comic, but I remain mildly interested in the characters and continue to buy for that reason alone. Oh, and I like the design of the logo for what that's worth. Also, I keep hoping that Cain will show up again- he's far more interesting after all this time than the group of young handsome people we're being asked to invest in. B-

THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST: ORSON RANDALL AND THE DEATH QUEEN OF CALIFORNIA: This is the sort of thing that Howard Chaykin used to be able to hit right out of the park back in the late 80's-early 90's. A solo spotlight for Danny Rand's predecessor, as he gets mixed up with weird cultists in 1920's L.A., it reads decently enough, if a little too unnecessarily cluttered; and seeming like Duane Swierczynski's tryout script for the main Immortal Iron Fist gig. Artwise, it's very unimpressive; Giuseppe Camuncoli's slick, modern art style is totally unsuited for the kind of Weird Tales/Spicy fare this wants to be. For current Iron Fist completists only. D+

NORTHLANDERS: SVEN THE RETURNED: You know how I'm always saying that this and that will probably read better collected, but I never get around to getting the collection to let you know if that's true? Well, for once (thanks to the fine folks at DC) I got the chance to follow up on that often-made statement, which I made (I'm sure) at least once about this very title...and y'know, I was right. Sven, which came across to me as uneven at best in one-month intervals, achieves a flow in one sitting- and perhaps because I'm rereading it, I picked up on the occasional overlooked detail here and missed nuance there which added to my enjoyment. Of course, I always liked Davide Gianfelice's nicely detailed art, as well as Massimo Carnevale's excellent covers, from the beginning. Of all the works of Brian Wood I've read so far, I do believe that this is one of his best to date. The latest issue, #10, also impresses in its bloody climax to the Saxon invasion story- the ending, with its somewhat unsatisfying outcome for its nominal young boy lead, rings true and I always enjoy Dean Ormston's too-infrequent interior art. TPB: A- #10: A-

Y'know, somebody at DC really likes this character- despite her obscure beginnings as one of the initial casualties of the DC Implosion of 1977, she's gone on to persevere and is now, if not a major player in the DCU as well as the DCAU, at least a solid second-stringer comparable with, oh, a Hawkman or Metamorpho. It doesn't hurt, either, that she fits right in with DC's admirable desire to diversify their character base. So now, here we are with her first solo series that I'm aware of, written by up-and-comer (or so DC wants us to think) G. Willow (Air) Wilson and drawn by someone named "Cafu", (gesundheit! Sorry...) whose work unfortunately reminds me of the clumsy stylings of Mike Grell, only Photoshopped better. Storywise, it's a good-enough setup I suppose, as new evidence comes to light via a Justice League terrorist bust (which included Superman, who looks ludicrously out of place beating up on ordinary mercs and soldiers) about the death of Vixen's parents, which sends Vixy off to Africa toot sweet to get payback. All of this is wrapped inside by a stunning Joshua Middleton cover; he's becoming a big favorite of mine. If you're disposed to like this character, or have always had a yen to see Halle Berry in a good superheroic exercise, well, you're probably already getting this. If you're just idly curious, you could do worse. B

Reviewed at B+

ZOMBIE TALES #5: As I always said when reviewing earlier iterations of this BOOM! title, I am pretty much tired of zombies. I bailed on Walking Dead and have avoided other zombiecentric efforts for (among other things) that reason. Still, when I saw that none other than comics blogosphere luminary "Pal" Ian Brill had his first professional comics script in this very issue, then I thought the least I could do was check it out if I got the chance. The chance came, and I can honestly say that Ian has done very well for himself, even coming up with a novel (at least to me) twist on zombie lore...and to say more would give said twist away so I'll let it go at that. He gets lucky in that he's paired up with a decent artist, who tells his story in a straightforward style in mostly coherent fashion. The other two stories, by bigger names, both feature nice art but are sabotaged by stories with ambiguous endings that leave you more "Huh?" than "Wow". So I'm thinking that BOOM! could do worse than to let Ian just take over the book- at least his story had an ending. B

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thought I'd give you guys a break from DHL and package box-related pics this time. Yes, it's time once more for that least essential feature, IMA GET NEW COMEEKS THIS WEEK!, in which I waste a good five minutes of your life and tell you what comics I'm expecting in my bi-weekly DCBS shipment, as well as provide a little commentary on the ones that I can find something to remark upon. And these be them:

MEAT CAKE #17: I was thinking the other day about why I buy certain titles, and leave others alone, and this one is one of the biggest headscratchers in my experience. I do have a weakness for Early Americana and/or Victorian-styled whimsy, not that I really get to scratch that particular itch all that often, so I guess this qualifies on that score...and I especially like it when it's created by an attractive female, on which count Dame Darcy certainly does qualify. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the quirky cast she's created to populate her book, and her accounts of the exploits of Wax Wolf, Richard Dirt, Strega Pez and others are usually always the highlight of every issue in which they appear. Guess this is another example of #22 on Spurgeon's list (which seems to be missing from his site right now).

MANHUNTER #35: Watch out boys, she'll chew you up. Oh, wait. that's Maneater.


TOP TEN SEASON TWO #1: Yes, I know I already reviewed this one over at How is this possible? Confession time: I downloaded it. Yes, that's right, I took advantage of one of those multitudes of sites that offer that shady service. It's just about the only way I can read new comics in time to review them, m'kay? Anyway, lest the jackbooted officers kick down my door and confiscate my computer, I deleted it after I was done, and as you can see, I did buy a copy. So there. I liked this myself; I thought it was a decent continuation of Moore's original series. Maybe not as witty or as keenly observational, but a solid B+/A- work.

B.P.R.D.: THE WARNING #4: Every time I see this title, I think of Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" and its "Don't push me 'cause I'm over the edge" lyric. No, I don't know why. Actually "Warning" is an old Black Sabbath track. And I'm rambling.

100 BULLETS #96: One of these days I'm going to dig my singles out of storage and read them all in one sitting. Well, actually probably two or three sittings- I recently tried to reread my run of Major Bummer and only got to issue 11 or so. Distractions, distractions. A nagging little thought keeps entering my brain- "Sell your singles, Dave! Take the money and buy the trades!" This thought enters my mind about a lot of books these days.

HAWAIIAN DICK #5: The grande finale to the "Screaming Black Thunder" arc. Boy, this one's taken quite some time, hasn't it? I've enjoyed it, with Meat Cake (and that's the ONLY way these two are connected, except by quality of course), I guess I just like the setting and the characters that much, and it keeps me entertained and buying. B. Clay Moore's been mulling some future format experimentation on Twitter (and I'd assume on message boards and such), and that sounds intriguing. I think I'd prefer buying Dick as a series of all-in-one annual graphic novels, or something like that. For what that's worth.


Also, I made out my DCBS order a couple of days ago, and it goes a little something like this:

100 BULLETS #98

TERRA #'s 3 & 4 (It's the Amanda Connor art, OK? Not to be confused with Terro.)


UMBRELLA ACADEMY: DALLAS #2 (Yes, I should wait for the trade. I am weak and worthless.)


INCOGNITO #1 (In which Brubaker and Phillips try to do Sleeper again...except they don't.)


WASTELAND TP BOOK 03: BLACK STEEL IN THE HOUR OF CHAOS (Here's a series I'm following in trades, partly because Oni used to send them to me. Guess I'm on my own now.)

APOCALIPSTIX GN VOL 01 (Been interested in this for a while now, missed it when it was originally solicited.)

HELLBOY: THE WILD HUNT #1 (OF 8) (By Mignola and Duncan Fregredo, which sounds pretty damn good to me.)


And finally, items of note that are coming out this week:

THE COMICS JOURNAL #293: Featuring an interview with JBS favorite S. Clay Wilson. If the Journal didn't depress me so, I might try to buy it 'cause I sure would like to read that. Maybe they'll put it online before I die.

FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #2 and FINAL CRISIS: ROGUES REVENGE #3 are the latest issues of Final Crisis tie-ins I'm interested in. The latter, especially, was surprisingly readable.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #19, another series I've developed a casual interest in.

SCALPED VOL. 3: DEAD MOTHERS is the newest Scalped trade, and if you're not reading it already here's where you start. Hopefully, you'll break down and get the first two as well, and be mostly caught up. Right now, Scalped has my vote for best comic being published by the Big Two.

THE SPIRIT ARCHIVES VOL. 25 is supposed to collect the Spirit daily newspaper strips, which I think I've seen somewhere before but damned if I know where. If I ever hit the lottery, I'll order the whole set of these Archives, just you wait and see- or at least #'s 2-25. I already have #1.

Anyway, that's all I got, I suppose. Here's Diamond's shipping list for this week so you can make your own. Cheers!

Gee, seems like just the other day I posted something or another about Paul Pope. Well, since I haven't posted anything here since Friday, and since Nicole Powers was nice enough to point me to a newish interview with the Popemeister at SuicideGirls...well, you can never have too much Pope art on your blog as far as I'm concerned.

I swear I have a monstrous review column coming up (which is why it's taking so long), and I should have one of those "what I'm getting from DCBS" posts I know you all eagerly await coming later today.