Friday, January 30, 2009


Yes, it's time once more for the final round (for now) of FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS! Tonight's entry is from Dave Roman's Agnes Quill, which features the young supernatural sleuth in battle with a possessed teddy bear, which she dispatches with a "swoosh" and a "whack". Art and story by Roman.


Yep, 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 January 16 through 30, 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.

THE BOYS #26: Well, this is another of those books about which not much new can be said; Garth's pisstaking superheroes again, the X-Men this time, but he's doing it with an interesting cast and a minimum of nastiness (for a change). John Higgins fills in for Darick Robertson, and I really can't tell much difference. As always, for them that likes, and I do like, here's more. A-

B.P.R.D.: THE BLACK GODDESS #1: Reviewed at A-

EL DIABLO #5: Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters make an appearance, as Chato continues trying to figure out what he's supposed to be doing, as well as fend off bitter rival Vorpal, who wants to go snicker-snack with his head. Lots of talk talk talk, as all characters banter and bicker and philosophize about politics and American Spirits and blah blah blah. Jai Nitz' Uncle Sam is nowhere near as likeable as Jimmy Palmiotti and Jason Gray's, so I guess that means we'll see NItz take over the next Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters series, just you wait. Still nicely drawn, but mostly this is a snooze despite the snazzy looks of the lead. C+

FABLES #80: Things go from bad to worse; Willingham is really putting the screws on this time. Nice to see the creators remain in a good groove for eighty issues; some teams can't go one-tenth of that. The back feature stars Mowgli of Jungle Book fame; it's a storyline which has been kinda going on behind the scenes for some time now and how it all fits in is anybody's guess. That said, Peter Gross is doing a fine job on art. Another consistently good issue of a consistently good title. A-

FINAL CRISIS: SUPERMAN BEYOND #2: Since I read FC: Superman Beyond #2 and FC #'s 6 and 7 pretty close together, I'll just say what I have to say about both of them, since they're pretty much cut from the same cloth, and I'll get to Revelations before I'm done. OK, first things first- as if we needed reminding, and apparently in some circles we did, stories are eternal, comics can be a medium "free from restrictions,", and Superman is the foremost avatar of the manifestation of the human imagination, and superheroes are not meant to have darker sides but should remain heroic, Alan Moore be damned. Also, Grant really, really, really liked Jack Kirby's comics. Or something like that. It's hard to say what this would have been like if Morrison had had his way from the outset; this just reeked of editorial interference, which he denies. That would be an excuse, anyway, because even by Moz's standards, this was so chaotic and messy that it was a real chore to follow. Sure, he at least played fair with the readers by keeping everything as linear as production schedules would allow, but the storytelling style he employed was choppy and haphazard- we got glimpses of things, rather than any sort of coherent, sustained scenes, with admittedly a few exceptions, and while I am not always averse to narratives in which the reader is expected to do his or her share of work to get the total picture, I keep wondering if this message, that's he's given us before, is worth the effort. Part of this readablility issue may have to be laid at the feet of this art collaborators; one wonders what a seasoned old pro like George Perez, who has lots of experience in depicting multitudes of characters, all shouting and brawling and shooting things out of their hands while rubble and cosmic energies crack and sizzle around them, would have done. J.G. Jones is a hell of an artist in my book, capable of drawing lithe, sensual figures and telling a story well, the same with Carlos Pacheco and co., and Doug Mahnke, whom I consider one of the best, if not THE best, artist working on mainstream superhero comics today, comes along at the end and saves the day...but it's as if all of them saw Morrison's involved scripting and took it as a sign to ramp up their OWN tendencies towards obfuscation irregardless of how disjointed it all became. I suppose after all is said and done, though, this has to be viewed as a measured success, even though I have to wonder if this is what the braintrust at DC had in mind when this all got started; Morrison did, I think, say what he wanted to say and in the process gave us some FUCK YEAH moments, some of which will stick with readers, or at least this reader, for a long time- not the least of which was Mahnke's brilliantly realized image of Frankenstein riding a hell hound to the rescue, as well as the ascension of Mr. Tawky Tawny to Chief Tiger Badass (amusing, and fitting), Batman's climactic showdown with Darkseid (I still liked it better when he dodged the Omega Beam in Justice League Unlimited) and Superman's climactic aria (a nicely realized idea, more I should not say). Still, after all this, I have to wonder: first of all, is a more sophisticated-in-the-telling version of Showcase #100, or even Crisis on Infinite Earths, something that we should celebrate and one of our best writers aspire to? And two, is our Grant a one-trick pony? He's been trotting out the same metaphysicalities for two decades now, from Seven Soldiers back through Seaguy all the way to the Invisibles. Based on the odd work like the more-excellent-as-time-passes WE3, I'd say not. But to be honest, I find myself wishing that Morrison would step away from the capes and even comics in general for a little while and take a vacation of some sort, recharge the old batteries, do a little sigil magic whilst masturbating, whatever- think of something new. We'll see where he, and DC, go from here; one has to suppose than event fatigue will someday set in, even among the hardcore faithful, who seem to be dwindling in number. Oh- Final Crisis: Revelations? I'd say that providing the rationale for one panel at the end of your big cross-title mega-event is a pretty sorry excuse for killing enough trees to print approximately 100,000 comic books, wouldn't you? FC: SUPERMAN BEYOND 2: A-. FINAL CRISIS 6,7: B+. FC: REVELATIONS 5: D+

: We pick up where last issue left off, in which Hellboy takes a spear through the chest and lives, making me (once more) wonder exactly how much abuse a living creature can take- even one with demonic lineage. Otherwise, everything else is excellent, as we follow up on the rescued changeling baby (as well as the disgruntled fairy/elf/magical being trapped in the form of a dwarf with a boar's head) from waaay back in the excellent one-shot The Corpse, and Duncan Fregredo shines on art, merging his busily rendered, kinetic, frenetic style with Mignola's placid tone very well. A

HERO SQUARED: LOVE & DEATH # 1: Reviewed at B+

MANHUNTER #38: About as good a way for a lame duck book to go out as any, I guess. Of course, we kinda get a "one more time" look at the cast, as they each get a chance to do their thing, take a bow, and disappear back into the genpop of the DCU continuity prison. I couldn't help but think it might have been better if they all came out and did a curtain call, perhaps a song or two like they did in Freakazoid's last episode. Oh well. It's unfortunate that this version, the first one I've really liked since Goodwin and Simonson's Paul Kirk, just couldn't sell in the numbers DC wanted, but hey- she had a good run, almost as much as the two previous iterations put together. The art on this one is by a diverse group; they don't really fit together very well, but who the hell cares. Nice readin ya, Kate Spencer. B+

MYSTERIUS THE UNFATHOMABLE #1: Now don't quote me, but I think this comic represents Jeff Parker's attempt to avoid being pigeonholed as "that guy who writes the kids comics at Marvel", and yes I know about Agents of Atlas...but let's face it, right now, when you think about Parker, those of us whose memories don't go back farther than, oh, 2004 think (and justifiably so) of his outstanding work on Marvel's all-ages offerings, as well as X-Men: First Class. This is nothing at all like any of those, nor is it like his indie-published debut The Interman's a supernatural thriller dressed in Terry Gilliam clothes. Mysterius is a grouchy, disheveled celebrity mystic who does seances for the rich and famous, and collects a healthy fee to do so, which no doubt adds to his cynical stance. Thing is, he's the real deal, a man who possesses mystic abilities but has let himself slide for reasons which have yet to be made clear. We see all this through the reader identification character, our Alice (if you will) name of Delfi, who has a little mystic aptitude of her own; she starts out as a reporter doing a story on the celebrity seance that takes up the opening part of the book, but soon ends up as M the U's personal assistant. Mysterius is quite a character- he's slovenly and debauched, but still charismatic and even a little rogueish, like a less pissed-off John Constantine gone to seed. You want to know more about this guy from the onset. Delfi, not so much, although she is appealing. At first I wasn't sure about Tom Fowler's art; it seemed too caricaturish and broad to sustain my interest. But the more I read, the more I began to notice what a skilled cartoonist he is, capable of bringing a raised-eyebrow stance and barely-suggested mean edge to the proceedings. If I had to compare him to someone, I'd say perhaps Phil Winslade or even Jack Davis, to an extent, in its looseness...but regardless, he's very well suited. This is a great beginning, certainly a refreshing change from the usual Wildstorm recycled Millarisms and bland TV adaptations, and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next. A

SANDMAN: THE DREAM HUNTERS #3: Look, I didn't read the original, OK, so I'm loving this, not least because I love Craig Russell's art. But if you've already read the hardcover this is adapted from, and are not disposed to like Russell's work, then adjust your expectations. There. Simple, isn't it? A

SOLOMON KANE #4: Things are rapidly coming to a close, as Solomon gets to throw down with a werewolf, and other dire things happen around the castle keep in which the principals are all dwelling, or trying to get away from. I'm still not crazy about the art, but he does do a good job with all the werewolf-fighting stuff so that's a plus; Scott Allie has done a bang-up job of adapting the source material, especially dialogue-wise. Good show, gentlemen. A-

THUNDERBOLTS #128: The Rehabilitation of the Yelena Belova character continues apace; I won't belabor it, especially since I did so the other day. Best thing about this issue (well, besides that) is how well Diggle writes the whole "meeting with the President" scene, full of sly asides and outright hostile exchanges- one is almost sad when it gets interrupted by standard spandex cliché. We also get a gag stolen from the Warren Ellis-scripted episode of Justice League Unlimited, which makes me envious and amused in equal measure, even though I don't know anything about the "Irredeemable" version of Ant-Man. Plus, my inner 12-year-old got giggly at the "fap fap" sound effects Yelena's guns made when fired. Artwise, this is good; this De La Torre fellow has a good command of anatomy and action scenes, even though his ink line recalls the heyday of Tony DeZuniga and Rudy Nebres. A-

TINY TITANS #12: Oh so cute. A-

Have it your own way, BATGIRL!

Via Covered, where contemporary artists put their spin on classic comic book covers, here's one I Tumbl'd but it's too cool to not post here as well. Richard Sala does Batman #197, click on the link to see the original.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Haang on a minute.

Above, left to right, the three principal characters of the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka, Avatar Aang, and Katara. Lately, there's been quite the controversy about the casting of the upcoming live action film that M. Night Shamalyan is set to make- seems that they have cast caucasians in these roles (and one other to date, that of adversary Prince Zuko) and it has many in the Asian community, not to mention those of other backgrounds who are sympathetic to this concern, very upset at what is perceived to be yet another case of "Yellowfacing" by Hollywood. Korean writer/artist Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories) fired an impassioned salvo or two on this matter, Gene Yang (American Born Chinese) followed it up a few days later, and I've seen this referred to all over the Net. There's even the inevitable web site,

HowEVah (as Stephen A. Smith would say).

Take a look at the above pic, a Nick publicity illustration of some sort, of indeterminate date. Look at Sokka, Aang, and Katara. Do they look Asian? Do they even really look Inuit? I don't think so. Avatar was created to be a Western approximation of certain Anime styles, which apparently includes the odd decision that Anime filmmakers and designers often opt for, that of making all their characters look more Caucasian than anything else. And therein lies the rub, which has my devil's advocate tendencies in full flower.

Now PLEASE don't misunderstand me. I am NOT saying that Kim, Yang, and others are wrong to be upset by this. The show, from the outset, is and was steeped in a blend of Asian, Western, and Eskimo culture, mysticism, and mythology. It seems disingenuous at best and stupid at worst to ignore the cultural underpinnings of the source material.

But I'm not so sure that the filmmakers and casting directors are to blame for this. I'd lay money that many of the people involved in this decision haven't even seen an episode of the Nick series. You'd think that would not be the case, but my instinct tells me that they were probably given a guidebook full of promo art like the above picture, and by looking at the representations therein, thought that it wouldn't be a problem to cast Caucasians in these roles. If I wasn't as versed in the series as I am, I think I would make this mistake as well. Shamalyan himself probably knew better, but after his recent string of box office flops, I wonder how much say-so he has as far as these kinds of decisions? Regardless, if anyone should be blamed, I would venture that the final responsibility must go, perhaps, to the series creators- the people who came up with the character designs and concepts: Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Oh, but they have little or nothing to do with the movie, you say...but they were responsible for overseeing the initial look and feel of the series.

This is odd, given that usually Hollywood bends over backwards to maintain the facade of diversity, which is how we get black Kingpins and the like. It will be interesting to see how the casting process goes for the other supporting characters, such as Uncle Iroh or Toph Bei Fong, if they use her. These, and other less prominent characters (personal favorite Suki, Jet, etc.) were actually given a more Asian appearance than the leads, to my eyes anyway. I'd be surprised if the casting people didn't try to throw the disgruntled a bone, which would probably make things I suppose they're damned if they do and damned if they don't. I'm not 100% convinced that it would be fair to fire a couple of the actors they've already cast, and I'm also dubious that they'd want to appear to be caving to pressure from special interest groups.

For my part, I'm not really even sure if it matters to me, since I really had every intention of skipping this one anyway, like another wrongheaded attempt to bring a beloved-by-me fiction to the screen, The Spirit. I really enjoyed the Avatar animated series (especially season two, which was a high point of character and drama), and am highly dubious of the viability of preserving what made it unique in the first place in a live-action format.

Again, I have nothing but admiration and respect for Kim and Yang, and I'm not trying to pick fights with either of them, or anyone else who is outraged by this. However, as I said before, while I sympathise, I have devil's advocate tendencies at times, and I'm just not convinced that Paramount is being racist- nor should they bear the brunt of all the blame for this apparent oversight.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"That's what they were supposed to think."

With this panel, from Thunderbolts #128, Andy Diggle has become my new best buddy. He is obviously a writer with the smarts to recognize a character that's full of potential when he sees one.

Of course, in about six months, if he's changed her into some sort of mutant monster or reveals that she's an alien or something, I reserve the right to bitch and complain again.

Friday, January 23, 2009


My contribution to tonight's Friday Night Fights comes courtesy of John Glenn Taylor's Easily Mused blog- to commemorate the inaguration Mr. Taylor posted a Herbie story, from the 11th issue to be exact, and I stoled this page because it ties in to the sound-effect theme of this bout- the last panel, to be precise, in which Herbie does his legendary lollipop-bashing thing to not only a bear, but a rattlesnake as well as his clueless Dad tells him a story about Abraham Lincoln. Script by the deathless Sergius O'Shaughnessy, art by the mighty Ogden Whitney.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reviews from Hither and Yon, or Catchup Confessions of a Junker Rack Spinnie.

Here's a few paragraphs containing opinions, poor attempts at humor, and idle speculations regarding stuff I read during and after posting the last Spinner Rack Junkie the other day. BEWARE OF SPOILERS, even though I figure that most of you have read these already. Even better, there will be another one coming in a week or so- can you stand the wait?

DEAD OF NIGHT feat. DEVIL-SLAYER #'s 3, 4: If you'll recall, this is a new Devil-Slayer, not this fellow (not really) but an Iraq War soldier who returns to duty only to find out that there are demonic (and angelic, too, if you want to be spoiled) goings-on going on under his very nose, and he is the chosen one who is destined to fill the role that our previous D.S. abdicated. And it goes pretty much how you'd expect these sorts of stories to go, our hero fights against insurmountable odds and achieves a victory of sorts, only to realize that his work is not yet done, and he must remain ever vigilant in the face of a possible repeat of demonic activity, armed with magic and a sword. Of course, the main reason to check this out when it's collected is the art of Chris Samnee; he's got a very good-looking style that reminds of Mike Lark, David Mazzuchelli, or Kano, and he's able to crisply depict the action and adventure stuff that the somewhat shallow script demands. This is nothing groundbreaking, but if it's collected it will make a good read on a slow day. Oh, did I mention that Daimon Hellstorm has a cameo on the final page, and it looks like Ellis' Hellstorm, not the Max imprint version that came and went a year or so ago? Well, yep, he's there. Well, I thought it was cool anyway. B+

INCREDIBLE HERCULES #'s 114-120: I'm not reviewing the last four issues (#'s 121-124), which (unless I'm mistaken) I've already covered- I read them because (I hope you're sitting down) I downloaded three of them from one of those sites, you know the ones. But fear not, I have now put my money where my mouth is, and I consider it money well spent- so suck it, those who would abolish such's one person who bought. Anyway, I was happy to do it not because I think Marvel needs more of my money, but because these are some well-written and entertaining comics and I enjoyed them in my tryout quite a bit. Hercules has always been a bit of a wild card in Marvel years past; "created" by Stan and Jack back in the old Journey Into Mystery days as a foe/foil for Thor, just as Jack was nudging the book into the cinematic mythological adventure direction, he bounced around a lot after then- he kinda became a gregarious token strong guy who just happens to be as strong as the Hulk, and oh by the way just happens to be a god even though Thor already kinda fulfills that criteria- and I'd bet he's been a member of every super team that Mighty Marble has trotted out for the last four decades. There were a couple of enjoyable miniseries back in the Eighties, as I recall, drawn by (I think) Bob Layton, that reinforced Herc's rep as a not-especially deep thinking, hard-drinking ladies' man, and they were played for laughs more often as not. Wisely, Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak have embraced this approach with this series; taking over the numbering of the Hulk's title in the aftermath of the big World War Hulk thing (which I haven't read), in which Herc and his new comrade-in-arms, young junk-food-fueled genius Amadeus Cho (with coyote puppy in tow- it's a recurring joke, which takes an odd twist during the whole Skrull thing) apparently played a major role. A lot of this was in the issues immediately preceding the ones I purchased; I haven't yet obtained #'s 112-113. The first few issues I have deal with an ongoing struggle with Herc's brother Ares, who's also been represented in the Marvel Universe before (one of the more clever jokes is how the Black Widow- yes, lots of guest stars in this particular arc- tricks a drug-addled Herc into thinking he's once more in the Champions with Ms. Romanov). Once this is resolved, it's hurtled pell-mell into the middle of the next big company-wide crossover, the Skrull Wars thing, in which our boy and a group of other mythological figures unite (with Cho, and pup) and sail on a big intergalactic spaceship to battle the god-figure of the Skrull world. This reminded me a lot of the vastly more serious issues of Lucifer in which a few of that book's cast undertook a quest with a similar agenda. Next, the threat of a renegade Amazon who wishes to reshape reality using an Atlantean magic artifact, which guest stars Namor and Namora (I'm sure you remember the "Namor, check thyself" and "Crakkadoom" panels that made the rounds a while back) and is actually yet to be resolved. All of this is portrayed with wit and good cheer, dramatic when it needs to be but hardly ever resisting the opportunity to crack the obvious joke (much hay was made of the Greek god traveling with a young boy, can't believe they went there) when it pops up, but never to the detriment of the story. It's a neat balancing act, and they pull it off with aplomb. The characters, and it's a large cast which includes most of the Greek pantheon, including Titans, and their motivations are clearly defined- I've always had a soft spot for Greek. myths and legends, and this folds them into the current Marvel continuity, not to mention modern society, in very clever fashion. From resigned, depowered dupe Poseidon to scheming Athena to aggro Ares to the affable strongguy ("...the brawler, the roustabout...I was never the leader!") whose name is in the title, they're all vividly realized. Artwise, it's kind of a mixed bag, all of it quite accomplished but working despite the contrasting styles used from one arc to the next. Khoi Pham, with a couple of different inkers, does the first few, winding up with the Ares arc; his style is heavily 90's Image-ish, all jagged edges and over-rendered, but he has a good sense of the epic in his layouts; the Skrull stories are done (mostly) by Rafa Sandoval and Roger Bonet, who merge to create a Kubert Kid kind of look- their action scenes are somewhat muddled and chaotic. Clayton Henry and Salva Espin (on flashback scenes) are the current team; the latter (as I've said in previous reviews) reminds me of a less facile Chris Sprouse, perhaps, or a Leonard Kirk style. It's static, but well-staged and his figure work is very good most of the time. Comics won't be pushed forward by this title, but it's a hell of a good read, full of fun and adventure and just enough continuity porn so as to not turn off those who might be turned on to such. Even the snobbiest reader of sequential graphic narratives can peruse these and be able to respect him/herself in the morning, I would think. I would also think sales would be better, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. After all is said and done I believe I can safely give each issue an A-.

SUB-MARINER: THE DEPTHS #'s 3,4: Milligan's In Search of... style take on Namor is nothing new under the sun; we've seen this type of "Rational guy seeks legendary beast/person/city/thing" story many times before. Pete's such an old pro at scripting, however, that he can amp up the personal drama and engage the reader just the same, aided and abetted by Esad Ribac's elegant, soft-focus painted art. A nicely done under-the-radar title, too low key to get excited about but quite possibly the best Sub-Mariner story in decades. Not that I've read that many in the last few. A-

THUNDERBOLTS #'s 126, 127: OK, I have enjoyed Andy Diggle's recent DC stuff a lot, especially his much-missed Losers...but I was not enamored of his decision to go to Marvel to (essentially) write Suicide Squad, or so I thought; I don't think I've read more than one issue of Thunderbolts that I can recall. Anyway, I was pretty determined to ignore this title...but then I read that he was going to insert none other than my old cause celebre Yelena Belova aka Black Widow II in his new T-Bolts team, and well, I got real curious and decided to check out the two issues previous to the upcoming issue, his first two scripting efforts on this title. And...well, I liked them. He writes here with the lean, mean vibe that he brought to The Losers, and these two issues, which deal with the post-Skrull aftermath and the Norman Osborn-sparked dissolution of the previous team, are fast-paced and exciting. He's definitely got something working if he can make me enjoy a story with hideously overexposed Daredevil villain Bullseye in it! Of course, it's also awfully beholden to current continuity, of course, and if not for the handy recap page at the beginning, not to mention my recent tentative forays into Marvel storylines of the last few months, I'd have been quite lost. Roberto De La Torres' art works pretty well with the subject matter; it's a lot like Hitch/Neary, inspired by Neal Adams and with harder edges reminiscent of Diggle's old partner in crime Jock; he has good command of facial expressions and handles the action scenes very well, too. Looks like I'll be sticking around for a while, just to see where Andy takes this. A-

WASTELAND BOOK 03: BLACK STEEL IN THE HOUR OF CHAOS: Writer Antony Johnston has obviously spent a great deal of time and put in a lot of thought when it comes to the concepts that he's putting forth here; in the wake of Mad Max and the like, it can't be easy to innovate and be fresh in the Post-Apocalyptic genre of fiction, if you want to call it that. That said, he hasn't exactly succeeded; this is a mishmash of lots of sources- Max, Waterworld, Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns, you name it. He's gone to a lot of trouble to create this elaborate society, with its own cribbed-from-modern language, but a lot of it's arbitrary and even nonsensical at times, and it never fails to distract me when a character can swear "fuck" in one line and then say "sun-damned" in the next. Made-up languages are never easy to write or parse, and I have to tell you that I almost didn't make it through the first quarter of the book because it was all written from the point of view, and exclusively in the incomprehensible language of, the Skeksis-like sand-dwellers whose attempt to overwhelm the walled city of Newbegin takes up almost 3/4 of the book- and frankly I could barely read and/or understand the gibberish they were constantly spouting. Another problem I had reading these in collected format rather than issue-by-issue, was that I had forgotten a lot of the whys and wherefores of the sprawling cast members, with all the intrigues that one usually finds when dealing with stories involving the privileged and mostly corrupt haves and the grasping, desperate have-nots that make up the city that most of this collection takes place in, and I was really struggling for a while to get with the flow of the story. But somehow, against all odds, it did kick in about halfway through and before it was done, once more I was interested in what was going to happen next. This is a reoccurring pattern with me and this series, it seems. One thing that I was happy to see is that artist Chris Mitten has really improved; he still draws everyone's faces the same, with only the occasional forehead spot or different color of hair/beard to remind us we're not dealing with a society of inbred lookalikes, but he's learned to vary his rough ink line a lot, helping his characters stand out from their backgrounds more than in the first, admittedly mostly-set-in-the-desert, couple of trades. I see a loosening up of his layouts and his figures as well, and I think this collection features some of the best art I've seen from him to date. See you next trade, I guess! B-

WINTERMEN WINTER SPECIAL #1: Part of the problem with writing on such a delayed basis as I do is that other, better writers get their best shots in before I ever get the chance, and wind up saying things that I either wanted to say, or would have said if I was a better, more insightful writer and had they occurred to me. The latter happens a lot more often, believe me. So with this in mind, let me point you to this typically erudite review by Joe "Jog" McCullogh, and this amusing (and informative) one by Greg Burgas. When faced with adding yet another, probably redundant review of a comic that a) few people bought; b) was pretty much outrageously tardy each time it was supposed to see release; c) seemed to be compromised and interfered with from its troubled beginning; and d) fewer still really cared about, well, one wonders what is left to be said. Actually, I'm still wondering. But be that as it may, I'm compelled to say something about the series which pretty much knocked my socks off for four of its five previous releases, and smacked them pretty hard in the the first thing that comes to mind is that when it comes right down to it, this Frankensteined finale is that rarest of rare things- a resolution that actually resolves the story, and even manages to leave a path for a sequel, as unlikely as that seems. I wish I had had my previous issues handy, to reacquaint myself with previous events; because while reading this I found myself at a loss to what had happened to cause this situation, or when that character had been introduced or not. I'm not sure that I envisioned this sort of Watchmen-flavored finale back when I read #1; the final confrontation presented here makes sense in its context, and there is certainly enough fill-in-between-the-lines to frame it well...but that said, all six issues seem strangely truncated and compressed, as if it would have been better served as a (unlikely as it seems) 12-issue limited series, in order to give Lewis' fantastic-realistic Russian supersaga room to breathe and explore its many and varied characters and settings. Of course, sales and scheduling being what they were, we're damned lucky to get what we got when we got it. I do hope that this gets a collection someday soon, however; I'd love to read it all in one sitting, even though Lewis' dense plotting and wonderfully gnarly dialogue will make it a deliberate task. Taken on its own merits, this particular issue moves along at a smart clip; the dialogue is as good as remembered but I did find myself wondering how much was Lewis and how much was co-credited, for this issue, scripter/artist J.P. Leon. Regardless, it was a smooth blend. Leon the artist is a marvel; he packs a wonderful plethora of detail and dramatics into every page. I don't know who was more responsible for the delay between issues, which seemed like an eternity, but the effort is represented on the page. I've always maintained that I was more than happy to wait on a creative team to do their work, and remain true to their vision, even if it meant lengthy delays between chapters, and this title certainly tested my resolve. I was slightly disappointed when it was over, but mostly because it was over, with so much of this world left uncovered, and that's a real shame. That's the way it goes sometimes, especially in comics. Let's all hope for a collection, what say? A

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I come Tumbln.

It's a Grand Funk Railroad song title, m'kay?

Also, it's the name of my new Tumblr page, which I intend to use to post stuff that I stumble upon (no, not this, although the way I'm going I might join that too eventually) whilst surfing the internet tidal wave, and strikes me as something I want to share with others.

So: GO HERE to see what I've put up there already. I'll put it on the sidebar in case you want to check it again sometime. Many thanks to the lovely and talented A for assistance in this endeavor.

More reviews are on the way, if you care.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Yep, 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 December 28th through January 11th, 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.

AGE OF THE SENTRY #'s 1-4: Now here's something you don't see every day; usually the plan is always to take a fondly-remembered 60's or 70's character and darken it up, presumably giving it dimension and weight, but often stripping it of what made it likable in the first place. The redoubtable Jeff Parker takes the opposite tack with the newish Sentry character- as originally conceived by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee, he was all angst and dramatics, even battling the personification of darkness itself in the from of "The Void", a Nietzscheist concept if ever I heard one. You won't find anything that high-falutin' here, though- this is lighthearted all the way...and that's not only its greatest strength but its ultimate failing. By making the Sentry a sort of cut-rate Superman-type, and placing him in plot-and-gimmick-driven adventures, two-to-an-issue (just like the Weisinger era of yore!) and drawn in a faux Swan or Ogden Whitney style by Nick Dragotta, among others, well, he really kinda trivializes the whole thing and transforms it into a pretty good approximation of an ACG comic, something which I can't believe that there's a huge clamor for and thusly amazes me at its very existence in the first place. Among Marvel titles, this is like a two-headed sheep or albino squirrel or something. Lightweight and contrived as it may be, it still is as enjoyable, which is to say entertaining, as anything Marvel's putting out right now- it never gives off the sweet stink of a Mike Allred comic, for example. Besides, you gotta love a concept broad enough to include the Blonde Phantom or Millie the Model in its universe, and Millie's a recurring character to boot! And the Void? Well, he's almost as harmless as Snidely Whiplash. Oh well, since this isn't a Marvel Adventures title, it won't surprise me in the least if it all turns out to be some sort of drug-or-supernaturally-fueled nightmare that the "real" Sentry is having as part of some crisis or something. But until then, I can kinda dig it. B+

BLUE BEETLE #34: I think by now it's pretty clear that Sturges, while a fine writer, doesn't really have anything new to bring to this particular party, even though in all fairness by now we may be getting stories written after the cancellation news axe fell, and as I recall Rogers took some time to get up to speed before the outstanding finale to the Reach conflict. This is probably his best issue since he took over; the conflict with Doc Polaris II was nicely handled, as well as the character stuff with Paco and maybe girlfriend Brenda, and the whole awkward "border guard" scenario was dealt with. Rafael Albuquerque does a typically solid job on the art side, he's getting away from the tendency to have all his characters grimacing all the time, thank goodness. Anyway, let's enjoy it while we can 'cause it ain't never gonna be like this with this character ever again. B+

DAREDEVIL #114: I've been pretty critical, hostile even, of yet another downbeat soap-operatic Daredevil storyline, with what surely must be one of the most wrongheaded new characters of recent memory, and have bitched long and loud about what a drag it is to read these book these days, but I'm sticking around because I like the character and his cast, and I like the art. Well...usually I like Ed Brubaker too, and this issue was the first one in the current arc which really clicked with me, and I can't really say why. Maybe it's the well-handled Danny Rand appearances, maybe my angst tolerance level was surging, who knows. Anyway, even though our Matt is being agonizingly put through the wringer again, and I'm hating being a willing spectator to his troubles, I must say I'm curious about where it's going. Yep, it's like the good old Miller/Bendis days all over again. Next issue, I may be back to complaining...and probably will if anything terminal happens to Dakota North...but for now, a thumbs-up. For now. B+

EMPOWERED #3: Look, I'll admit straight up that I am just foolish about Adam Warren's art. Always in perpetual motion, full of clever sight gags and possessing one of the wittiest, supple ink lines (or Photoshop inks) in the business, in service of drawing all sorts of complicated tech (love the restraint devices that A.R.R. uses on poor Emp) and yes, sexy chicas (as this book puts it) and dudes as well...I can look at it all day and all night. And it's his art that serves as just one of the many things designed to deflect the inevitable criticsms, of sexism and objectification and all sorts of dire things- he bends over backwards to anticipate every single criticsm, and sometimes this comes across as all sorts of tentative and restrained, in spite of all the licentious subject matter. It's a very fine line he walks, trying his best to give us a sexy superhero farce that appeals to all and offends no one, even to the point of blacking out the dirty words in the dialogue, and even though I do appreciate the tender and downright healthy relationships between the principals here, it often comes across like porn trying to masquerade as an Toon Disney series, and I get a whole lot of cognitive dissonance (with apologies to Mrs. Draper Carlson) with every issue I read. So what I'm trying to say in my typically rambling way is that I like sexy superhero farce as much as the next guy, but I keep getting distracted every time I try to make it through an issue, and that tempers my enjoyment a bit. I have a feeling that most of you are not burdened with this disposition, and would enjoy this if you give it the chance and haven't already. I also have #4, which I haven't read yet. Somehow I doubt that I'll be able to find anything different to say about it. A-

FINAL CRISIS: SECRET FILES #1: This has been getting a lot of flak for being a slight origin recap, and it is, I guess...but hell, Len Wein never gave one-and-done baddy Libra a proper origin back in the 70's (when I was faithfully buying his Justice League of America right off the spinner rack), so since he is, after all, a key playa I guess he should have one. As retroactive origins go, this is a mostly entertaining one; I've always felt that Wein's writing style fit better at DC, and his work at Marvel and other places just never had the same spark. I'm pleased to say that he acquits himself well here- is this his first script for DC since the 70's? I don't know. Anyway, it's a shame he didn't get a better artist on this- Tony Shasteen is game, and is obviously influenced by Tony Harris, but the only thing he has in common with the erstwhile Starman artist is a tendency to stiffness in his figures. The rest of this book is pretty inessential. I suppose if you, like me, are old enough to remember 1973, and are keeping up with Final Crisis proper to the point of buying all the spinoffs, you'll probably like this. If neither applies, then you might want to think twice. B

GREATEST HITS #4: The later years of the Fab Faux Four are detailed this time out, set against the backdrop of missing film footage of an alien invasion the Mates thwarted in their final days as a group-- or did they? Tischman's script is clever without coming across as too contrived, mirroring but not especially imitating late 60's-early 70's events in the life of the real fabs, and Fabry does his usual outstanding work on the art- I think he's very underrated by those who think of him as a cover artist first and foremost. There is absolutely zero buzz about this comic, perhaps exacerbated by its generic, tell-nothing title, and it's perhaps only my love for the British music scene in the early 70's and the Beatles in particular that's causing me to enjoy this as much as I am, but this is an enjoyable fantasy and I wish more were paying attention. Hey! Just like The Vinyl Underground! As Macca would say, "pity that". A

As nice as it is to see Bernie Wrightson art once more in a comic with this title, the joy is tempered somewhat by the realization that he just doesn't seem to have the facility and spark that infused his work so long ago. Still, he's still better than most run of the mill horror-comic artists we get these days, and his story interlude here is well-done, if a little reminiscent of one of Archie Goodwin's twist-ending Warren Magazines tales. The rest of the book finds our cast still trying to get out of the basement alive, with separated heroine Fig encountering her father- perhaps- and a short interlude on another world with the ghostly duo from the first few issues, negotiating with another figure, a dandified person who wears a white mask. I don't have a clue what the hell that's all about. Be that as it may, I remain interested enough to follow along a little while longer. B+

IMMORTAL IRON FIST #21: A nicely-realized tale of a possible future for the descendants of Danny Rand and the K'un-L'un warriors, a little slight on the script side, perhaps, reading like a fill-in- by the regular writer- but is most notable for the art of one Timothy Green- who draws with a nicely done fine-line style that reminds me a little of a Craig Russell, perhaps, or even the Pander Bros (remember them?)...complete with amusing sight gags (many of the robots are straight out of the Russ Manning Magnus book of schematics) and imaginative design. He's a keeper; I hope he doesn't do an X, Ultimate, or Spidey book for a long time. B+

INCOGNITO #1: In which Brubaker and Phillips take a break from giving us noir tropes in order to give us science fiction tropes with a pulp adventure slash superheroics lean, a dubious goal on the face of it but as long as the results are this enjoyable, well, who am I to complain? The duo are still riding high and completely in sync giving us the saga of a sociopathic supervillain who has been in a depowered witness relocation state after the death of his twin partner in crime, and we find ourselves getting into his head as he seeks to find something to help him cope with his life as it is, as well as the always-nagging desire to reenter the life he once knew, and he's fascinating despite being a real piece of work. One would think that Sleeper would have been the last word on this sort of thing, but it has a subtly different feel than that excellent series did. Don't know where it's going, but as usual with Ed and Sean, getting there will be a lot of fun, I think. A-

Fast n' furious action as Herc spends much of his time scrapping with none other than the same Atlas that is supposed to be holding up the firmament, all brought about by not-nice Amazon Artume. I like how the writers are folding Greek mythology in to the story, the character stuff is as fast-paced and breezy (smelly in one amusing gag) as usual, the art is good-to-very good, and while this isn't instant classic stuff, it's one of the few non-nostalgia pandering series that is actually fun to read. Keep on keepin' on, Van Lente/Pak & Co. Also, good on you for not really killing that Delphyne character; she's kinda cool. A-

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #9: Reviewed at B+

JUSTICE SOCIETY of AMERICA #22: In which Johns takes an intriguing beginning and runs it into the ground, giving us the biggest non-ending that I can remember in recent years, plus, he also tacks on a coda of sorts to Waid's Kingdom Come, answering a question which I seriously doubt anyone was thinking to ask. Maybe it was Ross' idea, who knows. Anyway, anticlimax is the order of the day as the previously-omnipotent Gog gets taken down in about three pages, and while seeing them SPOILER ALERT cut off his head and stick it on the Source Wall (!) is an arresting visual END OF SPOILER, it gets undermined by the ease with which he came to that pass in the first place. Oh well, what little character stuff there is is done well enough, the main reason why I'm reading this in the first place, and I for one am always happy to see new art by Ross, even though he's walking over his own tracks in this backwards-looking chapter and it doesn't always sit comfortably next to that of the more conventional comics art of Eaglesham and Massengill. This isn't the first disappointing finale to a big multi-chapter comics saga, and it won't be the last, Too bad, though, because just like the ant with the rubber tree plant, I had high hopes. THAT'LL teach me. B-

LABOR DAYS: Brit schlub/arrested development case "Bags" Bagwell, your typical (to stories like this, anyway) 20-something directionless slacker type, comes into possession of a VHS tape which serves as the McGuffin, and various agencies, mostly hostile to our Bags, are trying to take it away from him for their own purposes. This tries really hard to be a fish-out-of-water action-thriller-comedy romp, like Hot Fuzz perhaps, but it's much too long and drawn-out, and Bags is too much of a slob to be really all that endearing. I found this kind of a chore to sit through till the end; by the last chapter or so I was really happy to see it wind up. The minimal plot is reeeeallly stretched thin. The art, by Rick Lacy, has an appealing sort of crude energy but BOY is it sloppily inked and often hard to follow. If you're in the mood for this sort of thing, and you're not expecting much, you might enjoy this if you don't run out of patience first. C+

MADAME XANADU #7: We now find Madame X in 19th Century Whitechapel, which means of course Jack the Ripper. I don't know what sort of spin Wagner thinks he can put on this hoary old material, unless of course he thinks jamming the Madame and the Phantom Stranger into the works will provide it (it won't)...but even though young Hadley Reeder has serious trouble drawing Victorian-era top hats, this still comes across as another enjoyable-enough chapter of the ongoing saga. B

MISTER X: CONDEMNED #1: Oh, gosh, 1983 was a hell of a long time ago, wasn't it? The original Vortex Mister X series, with scripts by Dean Motter and art by Los Bros., was one of a handful of early 80's titles, like Zot!, Thriller, Aztec Ace, and so on, that renewed my flagging interest in comics reading as I staggered tentatively into my early 20's. Even though the Bros. bailed about three issues in, to be replaced by Seth, I hung in for a very long time with this title, wondering what Motter had up his sleeve. Problem is, even though he wrote a lot of stories, he never really got around to arriving at any particular destination, and bailed after a baker's dozen to be replaced by a panoply of lesser talents (although Seth did briefly return, if I recall correctly), each taking the concept to vastly more confusing and convoluted directions...and I eventually threw up my hands and gave up. Even though Motter returned to form with the loosely-affiliated Terminal City miniseries, a small part of me hoped he would someday revisit the Mr. X character (I know, he had a cameo in Electropolis, which I didn't buy)...and now it looks like that day has come. It's interesting enough, as Motter reacquaints us with the flawed Radiant City, designed to be inspiring but actually inspiring suicidal thoughts, and all said it's a fine first chapter which leaves lots of room to expand. Dean also takes over the art chores, and while I'm not always crazy about the way he draws people, he excels at everything else and knows how to construct a narrative flow. So, an auspicious beginning, I think, and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here. A-

PATSY WALKER: HELLCAT #4: Well! For some reason, all the storytelling quirks which Kathryn Immonen has been using, and driving me nuts with- the all-over-the-place fill-in-the-gaps-if-you-can storytelling style, the overly precious dialogue which rambles to no good end...all sharpened up or eliminated completely, replaced by an honest-to-Chili Storm linear-progressing narrative, with actual cause-and-effect and everything! Patsy finally finds the object of the quest that the Eskimo witch coven sent her on, and enlists the aid of thousands of snow bunnies to help her reach it, dodging rocket trees thrown by Pete the Yeti and...yeah, I know. It's still one of the weirdest things I've read in a while, but at least for this issue it entertained instead of frustrated, and for that I'm thankful. I'm also thankful for the art of David LaFuente, who makes this mess look really good with his cheerful renderings, in tandem with John Rauch's candy-coated coloring. A-

SCALPED #24: Red Crow winds up making a heart-breaking decision, but one with results, that, to be honest, certainly provide (mostly- should have been a more permanent resolution, if ya know what I mean) satisfaction- from the readers' point of view anyway. Another excellent, dramatically gripping Aaron script, brought to vivid life by Guera- in short, another outstanding issue of the best comic you're not reading right now. A

TOP TEN: SEASON TWO #3: Pretty good send-up of self-help cults, as Det. Peregrine's "confused" hubby Top Flight goes away to participate in a "Premise Keepers" (heh) weekend retreat but gets more than he bargained for. The other subplots, with Dust Devil and Shock-Headed Peter investigating the weird murders from issue #1, and the struggles of Girl Two to fit in, proceed apace, and all are well-done (as opposed to medium rare, I guess)- maybe Alan Moore might have taken them in other directions, but for my money Cannon is doing a real good approximation, especially in the characterization area. It also helps that the visual continuity is still there courtesy of Gene Ha. It's good to have a regular Top 10 series to look forward to again. A-

UMBRELLA ACADEMY: DALLAS #2: The kids are anything but all right in this issue #2, which seems to kick off the storyline proper more so than #1 did, and it doesn't seem that things are going to get any better anytime soon, what with masked psychopaths hunting for them...well, some of them, anyway. l give Gerard Way credit- this is some inspired imitation Morrison/Milligan/Fraction type stuff, with more going on than he's letting slip, giving me just enough to maintain my interest even though it's all terribly unfocused and arbitrarily violent. All the character stuff, which is nicely handled, especially in the Batman-style office confrontation/conversation between the vigilante Kraken, Inspector Lupo, and his sidekick chimp Body, is playing to Gabriel Ba's strengths, and he shines throughout as he has a tendency to do. Once Way gets around to providing the whys and wherefores of all this...stuff, this will really kick into gear, I do believe; I hope it's in his game plan. A-

UNKNOWN SOLDIER #3: My standard objections apply- I dont really get a good sense of who's in conflict with who and why, and what (besides the soul of our intrepid young doctor Moses Lwanga) is at stake, and the art is relentlessly mediocre. That said, Dysart still writes with the intent to provide verisimilitude, and succeeds on that level, and the scene in the middle that allows us to catch up with the young doctor's wife is a good one. This isn't blowing me away, but I'm determined to see it through till the end. B

VIXEN: RETURN OF THE LION #4: Oh noes! Superman and Black Canary are the helpless thralls of the bad guys! WHO CAN SAVE THE DAY? I suppose our titular heroine, who has just experienced her own clichéd epiphany (THE POWER WAS WITHIN HER ALL ALONG GASP) and is on her way. Predictable all the way, and the artist seems to have gotten the job because he can draw a passable Halle Berry. Nice Josh Middleton cover; too bad they couldn't have gotten him to draw the interior as well. C

I still have WASTELAND BOOK 03: BLACK STEEL IN THE HOUR OF CHAOS and WINTERMEN WINTER SPECIAL #1 to go, but I'm still reading the former, and I want to write a bit more about the latter than I have time for right they'll come later. Pinky swear!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow.

Saddened to read about the death of actor PATRICK McGOOHAN, who has died at age 80 after a short illness. I go back with him all the way to my early childhood, when I remember seeing him as Secret Agent John Drake on the British TV series Danger Man. Of course, I watched it in the US under the title Secret Agent, and loved the hit theme song by Johnny Rivers. At about this time, I saw him in another role which pretty much knocked me for a loop: Dr. Christopher Syn in Disney's Dr. Syn Alias the Scarecrow...

...and thus my fandom was cemented. I loved everything about this adaptation of the old Captain Clegg stories, especially the costume design and McGoohan's brisk, clipped performance. No one could show nonchalance, sarcasm, intellectualism, and just plain cool like McGoohan. A few years later, my Mom became devoted to a show which at first I didn't pay attention to, but when I saw who was starring in it I soon was joining her in front of the TV: The Prisoner. It has always amused and amazed me that my Mom picked up on that show like she did. That's what most TV and film geeks know him by, I suppose, and it certainly was one of the most unconventional television series ever aired. After that, he did more TV, most notably episodes of Columbo (which I watched anyway, McGoohan was icing on the cake in his appearances) and movies, including a nifty turn as a typically McGoohanish snobbish, surly art thief opposite Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in the entertaining Silver Streak, and also was malevolence par excellence in Braveheart and Cronenberg's Scanners. Years and years later, just a couple of years ago as a matter of fact, I happened to catch an late night screening (probably on TCM, although it might have been on the Disney Channel) of early 60's Disney movie that I had not seen before, and just happened to star Mr. McGoohan: The Three Lives of Thomasina, an engaging fantasy about magic and cats and romance in Scotland. It reminded me of how good McGoohan could be, and made me regret that age and other factors were keeping him from making new films. And now he's gone. But he has left a hell of a lot of great work behind him, so let's all hoist a cold Isle of Sky Red in his honor.

Five for ADD

The post title? Well, y'see, it's usually Spurgeon that does the Five for Friday thing, and I'm occasionally posting a makeup list because I don't always get around to doing a list for it by the deadline, and this time it's someone else, and... oh. Well. I knew this titling thing could lead to problems. Anyway.

The estimable Alan David Doane recently put out the call for, and I quote:

...some notable writers and other comics-involved folks to share their lists of whatever five comics or graphic novels they were most looking forward to in 2009.

I don't think I qualify on either of those counts, even though I suppose spending lots of money on the darn things every month certainly makes me "involved" to an extent, but he did put the call out on Twitter as well, which means (I think) that ordinary people like your humble scribe can also answer with a list.

Problem is...I didn't. Meant to, but just couldn't find the time over the weekend to do the necessary research. However, ADD posted a link to Douglas Wolk's list of notable scheduled 2009 releases, and looking at that, as well as the responses Doane got that he put up today, well, I can come up with my own list, sans blackjack and hookers (Sorry, that joke always makes me laugh) of course. And what do you know? Here it is! Not necessarily in order of anticipation, of course.

. Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press): Isn't everybody looking forward to this one? There will, of course, be the usual overpraising and the inevitable backlash, and it will be like old times once mo' around the Blogosphere.

by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (Top Shelf): Black Dossier was an ambitious failure, but hope springs eternal, as they say.

ASTERIOS POLYP by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon): Don't know much about this, but I love Mazzuchelli's art and I will definitely be thinking about picking it up, unless it's a $59.95 hardcover or something.

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: BAT LASH, CREEPER, ECLIPSO by Various (DC): About effing time they got around to putting out a Bat Lash collection; too bad it won't be in color. Still, you're getting some witty and heartfelt Denny O'Neil and Sergio Aragones scripts and some of the best art of Nick Cardy's career. (Cardy inks Sekowsky on the final issue). I have the originals, and I wouldn't take anything for them. I have those Creepers as well, but it will be nice to have them all in one place for rereading. Problem is, the Creepers don't really hold up as well as the Bat Lashes do; Ditko does the first four or five, and as with most of his DC efforts at the time they're a compromised affair. Still, there's just something about that character that fascinates me, and I'm not alone. The Eclipso stories, on the other hand, I haven't read too many of so I'm kinda looking forward to those more than anything. I know Alex Toth does a few, but the art is mostly handled by the likes of Lee Elias and Jack Sparling, and many of the scripts are by that Pasha of Pandemonium himself, Bob Haney so I'll bet they're good readin'.

BATTLING BOY by Paul Pope (:01): Paul Pope! That right there is all I need to know.

There are many other fine releases coming this year; the Swamp Thing: Dark Genesis collection would be cool because I don't have my Wein/Wrightson Swamp Things anymore (nor my Michelinie/Redondo, for that matter), and I was thinking that I'd like to read them again someday. Problem is, it's in the expensive hardcover format, something which will keep me from biting on a lot of the titles on Wolk's list. One book which was priced way out of my reach was Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls; however, Top Shelf has finally seen fit to release it in a more affordable (I assume, haven't seen the price yet) softcover collection and I might just help myself to that one. I have scans of it, but they're not particularly good ones and no I haven't finished reading them, which is why I haven't written about it yet. There are things I'm getting anyway, such as the next issue of Love & Rockets: New Stories, and things I won't be getting because I already have the books collected, and am not interested in reacquiring like the Preacher volume, or the Showcase Presents: Ambush Bug volume. You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation! (Fantagraphics) by Fletcher Hanks/Paul Karasik, the sequel to the Hanks collection of a couple of years ago, will also be coming out; I enjoyed the first collection, but not excessively me it was more "bad" than "so bad it's good", but those are some wild-ass crazy stories the man did so I guess it will be a game-time decision, so to speak, as to if I'll get it. Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim's The Eternal Smile: Three Stories (:01) is intriguing; I loved Kim's Same Difference and Other Stories.

OK, make your own list now. I can tell you this, though; as my friend Dave Lartigue will readily agree, I think THIS should be the next Showcase Presents feature. How about you?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Submit to Granny!

It's been like this lately; I'll see something neat via my Google Reader, mention it (with link) on Twitter, and then I'll see the same thing I linked to on other sites for the next three days. Now, I'm not saying that I'm the one that finds these things first, and everyone else is putting them up without crediting me, far from it- I had to see them first somewhere else, you know- but I just thought I'd put something up here, on me ol' blog, before others do the same, and also because I really need to keep posting stuff here before I lose the two or three readers I have left. Above is a panel which amused me greatly, by Roger Langridge, from one of two very funny Kirby pieces he did in the 90's for con programs. Here's the rest of it, and here's the first one I saw several days ago, which is even funnier: The Kirby Alphabet. Also I think I was tickled because I've been reading the third volume of the Kirby Fourth World Omnibus, which contains some of the very best stories from those star-crossed opuses (opusii?).

Anyway, I saw the former first at Robot 6, via JK Parkin, just for quid pro quo.

Friday, January 09, 2009



After a break of a few weeks, I'm stepping back in to Spacebooger's virtual squared circle. The theme this time is onomatopoeia, and I think the above is a fine example of that in spades as Robin kicks obscure bad guy booty. Credit Where Credit is Due Dept.: This page is from 2002's Legends of the Dark Knight # 151, writing by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Trevor Von Eeden, and inks by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and originally was scanned by LJ user Zegas as part of his ongoing Von Eeden appreciation series on scans_daily, something I can certainly get behind.

Monday, January 05, 2009

"Go on back to your overstuffed desk chair...and read your comic books!"

At various points over the last seven years, I'm sure you all remember how I've rambled on and on about Bill Everett's Venus, and how much I love the few stories I've read in reprint format over the years- most notably in a few issues of the mid-70's Weird Wonder Tales comic, as well as my first exposure to her original exploits, in Marvel Spotlight #2, at about the same time this picture was taken (as a matter of fact), in October of 1971..."Where Gargoyles Dwell" from Venus #16, all Everett, features some of the best art I've ever seen from him, and a wonderfully preposterous but still highly imaginative story which not only fulfills the monster requirement with the gargoyles (flying ones no less), but works in some good old fashioned Triskaidekaphobia and the urban legends about mysterious thirteenth floors of buildings, and lack of same. Plus, it has some great dialogue, right out of a 1940's Warner Bros. fast-talking career-gal flick- I can easily imagine a Barbara Stanwyck, Ginger Rogers, or my personal fave Priscilla Lane delivering these lines:

Quite the contrast from Jeff Parker's more passive, reserved goddess/siren/whatever she is, currently appearing in Agents of, Everett casts the Goddess of Love as more of a brassy gal reporter or grownup Nancy Drew type, showing real spunk and flash. Nothing against Jeff's version, and maybe it's just the Turner Classic Movies fan in me, but I think I like this oh-so-1948 version a lot better. Anyway, someone recently posted scans of this longtime favorite story of mine, at scans_daily I think but I forget, and I couldn't help but want to repost it here for posterity. The original scans were very dark and dirty; the source comic looked like it was very yellowed with age and had been through quite a lot. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, especially since these comics are so scarce in the first place; but I couldn't help wanting to clean them up a bit in Photoshop, so I tried. It's not perfect, I couldn't get rid of a lot of the darkness in word balloons and stuff, but I hope I made it look a bit more readable anyway. Hopefully (especially if Agents of Atlas takes off) someday Marvel will see fit to reprint all of these in a nice, cleaned up edition, but I won't hold my breath. OK- here's the story. Click on the thumbs to embiggen.

Ima Gunna Get New Kahmicks!

I figured now that we're five days into 2009, I might oughtta post something here so people wouldn't get their hopes up and think I've retired or died or something. Well, the people who don't follow me on Twitter anyway.

So, I have a DCBS box coming either today or tomorrow, and here's what should be in it:

PATSY WALKER: HELLCAT #4: Hasn't exactly blown me away so far, although it is nicely illustrated and there's a lot to say for its cheekiness.


UMBRELLA ACADEMY: DALLAS #2: OK, let's see- I referenced Jerry Jones last time, so that leaves J.R. Ewing, perhaps? Korben Dallas?


INCOGNITO #1: This looks nice, as all Sean Phillips endeavors do as far as I'm concerned...but didn't we get the last word in on this sort of thing with Sleeper?

WINTERMEN WINTER SPECIAL #1: Ohboyohboyohboy. Actually, I skimmed this at the comics shop last Saturday, and it looks smashing, but this is not the sort of title that one I really don't know much about it yet.


I also have a few holdovers that I've read (or am still reading) and am waiting to review as soon as possible, such as

EMPOWERED #3: I also have #4 coming from Amazon Marketplace, maybe today.

WASTELAND BOOK 03: BLACK STEEL IN THE HOUR OF CHAOS: This thing, with its made-up pig-Latin Skeksis dialogue coming from some of the characters, and making up at least the first quarter of the book, is a bitch and a half to read. That's all I have to say for now.


MISTER X #1: For old times' sake. I may tradewait for the others.

AGE OF THE SENTRY #'s 1-4: Again, I got curious. Maybe a bit overrated, but anything with Millie the Model is aces in my book.

INCREDIBLE HERCULES #124: Yes, I am now a regular buyer.

FINAL CRISIS: SECRET FILES #1: Am I incorrect in thinking this is the first Len Wein-scripted DC comic in aeons?

JUSTICE SOCIETY of AMERICA #22: Screen time for Cyclone! Oh, and revisionism run wild.

That's all for now, kids. Back soon with actual writing.