Saturday, March 28, 2009


Here I go again with 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 March 6 through 20, 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. Apologies for the brevity of some of these; my writing time has been at a premium lately.

AGENTS OF ATLAS #2: It's Jeff Parker's world, and the rest of us are just living in it. Another outstanding chapter in the ongoing saga, which I wish Leonard Kirk could have been on board for, but Carlo Pagulayan and Gabriel Hardman are good enough. Nice and brief showcase for Marvel Boy, or Bob, or Uranus Boy, or whatever they call him, at the end. In fact, Parker settles right in with these characters; he's as comfortable with them and their world as a big, soft couch. I hope he gets many, many issues to explore it and them. A-

AGE OF THE SENTRY #6: So, and Jumpin' Jaysis I hope you've read this by now because I SPOIL, it seems that Reed Richards has been making up comic book stories for the American Comics Group (not to be confused with America's Best Comics) under the pseudonym of Shane O'Shea. Anyway, the last few issues have featured some fun comic book pastiches, not especially clever or world-beating in and of themselves but overall enjoyable, with some kinda-stiff but nicely-retro art by a multitude of illustrators, most notably Nick Dragotta. It will make a good trade, for those of you who would be interested. B+

THE BOYS #28: Hughie's undercover mission goes pear-shaped, with predictably bloody results, and I don't mean bloody like a few issues ago. This storyline needs to end, though, it's been dragging on for what seems like a year now- and let's face it, X-Men sendups are so 1997. B-

B.P.R.D.: BLACK GODDESS #3: I don't this stage, these B.P.R.D. stories are pretty much review-proof, chock full of all the giant monster shenanigans and vaguely sinister supernatural machinations that Arcudi and Mignola can conjure up, and as always wonderfully drawn by the great Guy Davis. And if it all seems a bit formulaic at times, well, at least it's a good formula. A-

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13 #11: Let's face it, its hard to top vampires launched from the Moon, and to Cornell's credit he doesn't even try, concentrating on the character stuff this time out. Much face time for Excalibur-wielding Faiza Hussein, who's a very interesting character anyway and whose parents were targeted by Dracula. We also get some good interludes with Pete Wisdom, Blade, and Spitfire, who looks like she's going to be on the wrong side in this conflict, and not her fault. I had a hard time buying Faiza healing herself, and the Black Knight, a split second after falling from hundreds of feet in the air, but that's comics for ya. The art, by tag team pencillers and inkers, is given a harder edge than I'm used to seeing from Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs, anyway, but both teams do a nice job of blending well together, and moving the story along briskly as well. Very much an intermediate chapter in the ongoing story, but no less engrossing because of it. A-

DAREDEVIL #116: Jesus. The Kingpin again. That's progressive. I'm sure Gentleman Bullseye isn't far behind, and it's lather, rinse, repeat for DD all over again. That said, some fine dramatics are to be found here, as well as solid art. But talk about being stuck in an endless loop of misery and violence- it makes me tired to read this comic sometimes. B+

FABLES #82: This one's a fill-in by David Hahn, whose angular style, at least for me, works pretty well on this book. I'd like to see him do more, and get comfortable with the characters. Otherwise, a lot of talk talk talk as our cast spends a lot of time musing on relationships, both interpersonal and with the Mundane world as well. We also get a not-quite-Jean-level painted cover by regular series artist Mark Buckingham, and the conclusion of the Pete Gross-drawn back feature starring Mowgli, to no real great effect. Hate to say it, because he's never really been a favorite artist of mine, but I'd missed seeing Gross' work since Lucifer ended its run; like Buckingham, another artist whose style doesn't exactly yank my crank, I had gotten used to his work there, to the point where other artists' efforts didn't quite satisfy. At least we didn't have to spend time with the dessicated corpses of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser again, at least not until future issues. B+

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #11: It occurred to me the other day that I had yet to actully hold forth on this title; I suppose I'll try to redress that now. To me, this started out slow, with a lot of loud bang boom, interspersed with momentum-killing "debriefing" sequences that were designed to get us acquainted with the personalities of this new team, but really just kinda reminded us that nothing was at stake since obviously all concerned survived the events...and this diverse group, made up of many odds-and-sods Cosmic Marvel characters, complete with the requisite recycled Starlin and Kirby cosmic concepts- well, they talked all the freaking time, bickering when they weren't joking with each other, and I just couldn't warm. Nothing wrong with any of this, but it kinda kept me at arms' length for the first few issues, despite my ongoing love for the Adam Warlock and Gamora characters. It was just nothing I hadn't seen before. Then, about issue 5 or 6, at about the time the whole Secret Invasion thing came to a head (as it did with the Captain Britain book), it suddenly snapped into focus, as we got a pretty good mystery yarn out of the deal, along with some deft worldbuilding as we got acquainted with the settings and the extended cast. Then, for some reason (probably to give the characters a bit of space to stretch out in the spotlight, something which has been failing to work since Roy Thomas tried to do it with the X-Men back in 1968), writers Abnett and Lanning split the team up, and they are currently spread out here and there in groups of two. This particular issue hasn't really been all that well received around the Blogosphere; many found its account of the daughter of Captain Marvel (Phyla-Vell, nicknamed "Phy"- how the hell do you pronounce that, anyway), who's called "Quasar" (like about 3/4 of the Marvel U at one time or another, doesn't it seem) and an now-intelligent Drax the Destroyer (another Starlin Road Company charter member) searching for daughter Heather aka Moondragon (remember her, from Avengers and god knows where else?) to be talky and dull, poorly drawn by a pair of fill-in artists, and a cheat because of the misleading cover, which featured an apparently- living Captain Mar-Vell perpetrating an act of violence. Well, sure, these criticisms are valid, but I found myself enjoying this more than some; this has been the ongoing driving plotline for Drax since the beginning of the series, and I like this Quasar character for no good reason. The art was lackluster, for sure, and I really hope they're not going to be back on a regular basis. This is yet another fringe nouveau Marvel title that I am finding myself interested in- maybe it's because I've thought DnA were adept at this sort of Space Operatics since the Legion days- and this issue was not a deal-breaker. More of this, perhaps. And it would help if Nikki would come back, if they're gonna jam Vance Astro in. C+

HAUNTED TANK #4: This wants so much to entertain and provoke thought with its constant disjointed dialogue and hamfisted racial back-and-forth between Jeb Stuart's ghost and his descendant, but it just meanders and rambles, and the art is too run-of-the-mill to make it more palatable. This dog steadfastly refuses to hunt. Y'all. D+

HELLBOY: THE WILD HUNT #4: HB and his foine Oye-rish lass keep getting in deeper and deeper as we go further along into this kinda-involved, typically Mignola-ian mishmash of folklore, mythology, demonic lore and just plain ol' fistfighting. Duncan Fregredo remains of of Mike's best-ever collaborators, bringing everything, not only the quiet stuff but the hitting stuff to life in splendid fashion with his dynamic layout sense. Unfortunately, there's going to be a hiatus between this issue and #5; hate to hear that but it's OK, take your time, fellas. A

INVINCIBLE IRON FIST #23: Conventional wisdom says this has nothing going for it since Brubaction moved on, but conventional wisdom is, in this case, full of shit. This current storyline, in which Danny Rand and the Immortal Weapons are stuck in a ceaseless cycle of fighting for their lives in an extradimensional city, is right up there with the early issues of this title. Problem is, Travel Foreman's overrendered art is not as good as Aja and Co., and that hurts a bit. Still, after giving up on this title back around issue #14, like about 95% of fandom, I'm glad I got curious and went back. A-

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN# 11: Basically action time, as Stark, still on the run from Stormin' Norman, scraps (for lack of a better word) with Rhodey in his War Machine armor, even though Pepper and Maria get some (brief) screen time too. It must be taking an inordinate amount of willpower for Fraction to be writing something this straightforward and non-showoffish; I wish the powers that be at Marvel would reward his effort with a more distinctive artist. Sal Larocca seems to be trying, but everything looks undernourished and Photoshopped to distraction, like someone scanned the pages out of a coloring book and then went to town on them in Adobe Creative Suite, hardly the effect you want with your rocketspeed slam bang action thriller. Could be better, could be worse, I guess, and it's still kinda odd to me that I'm as interested as I am. B-

JERSEY GODS #2: I'm really liking the Cooke-Pope mix of McDaid's artwork, but the story setup...I don't know. I'm finding myself unimpressed by the what-if-Kirby-wrote-a-Kevin Smith-flick scenario, and wondering how long my admittedly tentative interest will hold up. Well, not for another couple of issues, anyway. B-

THE MIGHTY #2: This under-the radar book remains interesting in spite of its low-key approach; its chief attraction remains Pete Snejbjerg's understated, mood-inducing art, so reminiscent of many fine artists of yore but not especially beholden to any (well, maybe Wally Wood). I remain intrigued with the direction this seems to be going in. B+

MYSTERIOUS THE UNFATHOMABLE #3: If they ever do a Mysterius movie, then I think they should get the fella that played Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation to play him. Anyway, on to the matter at hand; this issue starts out a little too helter-skelter and chaotic (unfathomable if you will) for my tastes, and I found myself lost at a couple of points, even though I've read the first two issues. Not good. But not to worry; characterization and humor prevail and win the day, and it was nothing that a quick skim of #2 and a reread of this issue couldn't remedy. Hate to do it, but I have to blame artist Tom Fowler for my difficulties in part; he's getting a bit cocky and drawing a hell of a lot of peripheral stuff that really doesn't need to be there, cluttering things up and making it more jumbled than it really should be. Oh well. Anyway, after some slight disconnect, I found this to be another enjoyable chapter (especially liked the notion of Dr. Seuss-like characters being real creatures, summonable if you know how to read the books- and the interlude with the strret huckster was amusing as well) of a most enjoyable series that I hope gets to continue beyond its initial run. B+

SCALPED #26: I seriously doubt that many of this title's regular readers were wondering what was up with 1/16th Kickapoo antagonist Diesel, who was last seen killing a kid who had opened up on him first, and now establishing himself as a bad ass in prison. He has been, up to this issue, one of the less compelling characters in the sprawling cast. But since we're dealing with Jason Aaron here, who (especially on this book) is simply writing out of his mind right now- so this look back at the events that made Diesel into the murderous prick he is is ten times more engrossing than it ought to be. Davide Furno is back, pinch hitting for Guera, and he makes up in kineticism what he lacks in rendering figures...and while he's a good choice to maintain the look and feel of the book as it is, I sure wish Guera had a little more Risso in him, if you know what I mean. A-

TOP 10 SEASON TWO #4: Against all odds, in my book anyway, Zander Cannon has done a bangup job of capturing the special feel that Alan Moore brought to the first run of this title, and having Gene Ha on board has certainly helped a lot. As I've stated on a couple of occasions now, many plot threads are dangling (few of them resolved in the Top 10 Special #1, which I have read as of this writing and will review soon) and since this apparently the last issue for now, I'm not so sure there will be any continuation, a Season Three if you will- and that will be a shame. I don't think sales have been anything to write home about, although I seem to recall they were pretty good for a Wildstorm title, so stay tuned, I guess. A

Coming sooner rather than later I hope I hope, reviews of the just-received comics and such I wrote about the other day.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Yep, time once more for that most unruly of internet memes, FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS! At the behest of Spacebooger, following in the hallowed footsteps of the mighty Bahlactus (who is gone but not forgotten, from the Net anyway), it's up to those of us who care to participate to post something which depicts mayhem and fisticuffs in whatever form or fashion we deem appropriate. My entry tonight, my One Panel of Pain if you will, comes courtesy of the Groovy Agent, who recently posted the Prankster backup feature from a long-ago issue of Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt (Issue #60, August/September 1967 to be exact) whimsically scripted by Dennis O'Neil in his Sergius O'Shaughnessy pseudonym, and impeccably drawn by Jim Aparo, in the early stages of his comics career. Hat tip to the Jim Aparo Fan Club blog for the heads-up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ima gunna get noo comiks!

I'm working on a Confessions, I swear, just not very fast. But while you breathlessly await my opinions on comics you forgot about two weeks ago, I will appraise you of my NEXT shipment of comics, due on Friday!


COURTNEY CRUMRIN VOL 04: MONSTROUS HOLIDAY- As far as I'm concerned, Naifeh's been golden on Courtney. Hopefully this won't be the one that breaks the string.


TOP 10 SPECIAL #1- I'm a little unsure what to make of this; is it supposed to continue #4, which closed with several unresolved storylines? Or will it be a completely unrelated story or series of same? I ask because I've seen no solicitation for #5 yet, and I really hope they finish this series before the decade is over...

DAREDEVIL #117- I don't think they could have chosen a better writer than Diggle for this book after Brubaker's done depressing us all; I base this on the evidence of his Green Arrow: Year One mini, which was a pretty good little James Bond-flavored superhero tale, without any overt superheroics.

MADAME XANADU #9- Five will get you ten that Madame X will end up pissed off, and the Phantom Stranger will be a dick.

UNKNOWN SOLDIER #6- My last issue. I just don't really care, sorry to say.

I also fully intend to check out PDFs of

THE INCREDIBLES #1- I sure as hell wouldn't buy five copies, but that panoramic Oeming cover is suhweet.

THE MUPPET SHOW #1- The preview I saw today shows that Roger Landgridge is a very skilled cartoonist; he brings a deft line and a nicely humorous feel to his depiction of the cast. The script, though, remains true to the spirit of the TV show, which I watched a lot as a teen; that said, I didn't always find the antics of the Muppets all that funny. For every joke that made me laugh out loud, there were four that just made me smile. Same for the feature films, although I like some more than others. Heriticism, I know.



POTTER'S FIELD #1- this came out last week, I know. It's Paul Azaceta on art, which will always get a look from me.

Finally, a trip to the comics shop (or an email to Ralph's Comics Corner) will be in order to get

YELENA BELOVA AND THE THUNDERBOLTS #130- OK, I know, but as far as I'm concerned it is.

IMMORTAL IRON FIST #24- glad to read that the cancellation rumors were just that; I myself think it's gotten better since Swierczynski's tentative first arc, and deserves the chance to find an audience.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #12- I'll be reviewing the last issue if I can ever get my post done.

And that's about it!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Tonight's single-panel exercise in brutality comes courtesy of circa-1975 Howard Victor Chaykin, or to be more specific from the first (and only, I believe) issue of a 1975 Marvel Magazine entitled Marvel Super Action, which featured, besides an Archie Goodwin/Tony DeZuniga Punisher solo story (his first such outing since his debut in Amazing Spider-Man, unless I'm mistaken), a tryout for a female spy named Huntress (later changed to Mockingbird and inserted into West Coast Avengers), and an episode of Doug Moench and Mike Ploog's poor-man's Tolkein saga WeirdWorld, the second adventure of Chaykin's attempt to refine his retro-adventurer Scorpion (Atlas Comics, you remember) concept, now named Dominic Fortune. In this panel, that surely must get the Chris Sims Seal of Approval, Dom dispatches a hired goon with a swift kick to the head, which sure do look mighty painful to me.

Funny how the bad guy in this tale is named "Flagg"...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Coke Crack Smack Speed Nickels Dimes and...

OK, I'm sure you all remember the apocalyptic fall of scans_daily, the repercussions of which are still reverberating throughout the Blogosphereiverse to this day, especially if you subscribe to certain Twitterers. Now, you all know that I was up front about my VERY infrequent participation on that infamous LJ site, and as fate would have it I had just posted something there only a few days before the axe fell. And that would be what you see up above- a few pages from the first Andy Helfer/Kyle Baker Shadow. I had been wanting to share it since I stumbled upon scans from that equally-infamous mid-late 80's take on the original Man in Black (or, as Percy Jenifah, introduced a few issues later, would say: "De Mon in Block"), so that's the venue I chose. Then, boom went the dynamite. But since I still had the scans, I thought well heck, why not put them here? It's not like DC is going to reprint these anytime soon, and if they do I'll be absolutely delighted to take these scans down. Anyway, howsabout a little stage setting and- gasp- commentary?

As many of you are aware, in the early-mid 80's,DC still had the license to publish the adventures of the venerable Pulp and radio hero the Shadow. Having had less than blockbuster success with the quite faithful (and often quite excellent) 70's O'Neil/Kaluta/Robbins/E.R. Cruz take, it took them a while before they decided to leave the Shadow to the tender mercies of Howard Chaykin, fresh off his triumphs of American: Flagg! and his Blackhawk miniseries. Chaykin, as was (still is, I guess) his wont, decided to update and revamp the whole shooting match, taking the character out of the 30's and plopping him square in the 80's, establishing that Kent Allard, the true identity of the Shadow, retreated from time to time to a mystically advanced city named Shamballa to recharge his batteries, so to speak, and remain young. Also, he deconstructed the supporting cast, aging eternal sidekick Harry Vincent and perpetual love interest Margo Lane, and introduced a whole new group of agents, two of which were his twin sons, natives of Shamballa. A radical and fresh take, for sure. It was successful enough, and certainly controversial at the time, but I suppose Chaykin was keen to move on to other projects (and if I recall correctly started working in Hollywood on TV projects not long after) so when DC announced the ongoing series it was credited to newish writer/editor Andy Helfer, and art would be provided by Bill Sienkewicz, who was a big fan favorite at the time, coming off brilliant stints on Moon Knight, Elektra: Assassin and assorted X-books. What we got was very much a continuation of the setup Chaykin provided; Helfer, right before our eyes, refined a very dry and very sneaky sense of humor that crept throughout the arch events of the first six-issue arc, in which the Shadow encountered a sinister TV Evangelist known as The Light. Sienkewicz turned in some typically inspired graphics for his part, and the opening arc was most likely considered a success by all concerned. Then, Sienkiewicz decided to move on, and #7 was illustrated by the late Marshall Rogers, with inks provided by another relative newcomer, Kyle Baker, an artistic chameleon who could do cartoonish and straightforward, and whose style was so unusual that I don't think the Big Two really knew what to do with him, based on his limited assignments beforehand. Even though the new Shadow seemed to have a lot of buzz, there were still a lot of people carping about how it wasn't faithful to the Pulps and how could you have such jet-black humor can imagine, I guess. The more things change, the more things stay the same. Then, the next issue, #8 (from which the above scans come) saw the debut of a new story arc, entitled "The Seven Deadly Finns", as well as the debut of Kyle Baker on full art duties- and then things really got interesting.

Baker's sly, often deadpan, very symmetrical (note the panel to panel progressions in the pages above, they just flow) work brought out even more of Helfer's whimsically black and barbed sense of humor, and an already out-of-control series took full flight and soared for another dozen issues, until ultimate rights-holders Conde Nast (and this is the conventional-wisdom version of the events; I'm not sure if it's ever really been explained to anyone who cares' satisfaction), seeing how, by issue #18, the boys had killed the Shadow, then decapitated him, and had his head placed on a robotic body (eventually he was to battle old enemy Shiwan Khan, who had had the same procedure)- well, with the eventual Alec Baldwin film on the horizon they decided that maybe their license holders shouldn't be publishing such a bizarre take, and the plug was abruptly pulled, mid-series, and replaced by the faithful-to-the-source, earnestly nostalgic, and deadly dull in the wake of Helfer/Baker The Shadow Strikes!.

But for our purposes, what transpires above is a scene in which the Shadow, seeking information about the drug-dealing arm of the crooked Finn family, marches down the street to interrogate a dealer in his den, and does so with brutal aplomb and a dry sense of humor (note the suggestion of a smile on his face when he presents his rocket launcher, just one of Baker's many brilliant touches). There's so much more to the next seven or so chapters that it would take all night to describe it. In case you're wondering, the noir satire interlude at the beginning is a look in on a character from #7, hard-boiled PI Richard Magnet, who is being approached by young writer Rupert Tome, who wishes to write the ultimate expose on the Man in Black and wants Magnet's input and help, since he encountered the Shadow in Washington. Also, the "No!" in the third-from-last panel is the opening shot, so to speak, in one of the more darkly funny reoccurring plot beats of the labyrinthine "Seven Deadly Finns" storyline.

OK- click to see them biggerer. I may post more someday, if you guys dig 'em and DC (or Conde Nast) doesn't drop the hammer.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Here I go again with 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 February 22 through March 5, 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.

BLUE BEETLE #36: As final issues go, this one turns out all right, despite an arbitrary, random, meaningless, and unnecessary death of a supporting cast member which seems to be designed to provide a shock of some sort on the way out, but the character it happens to last got any sort of meaningful development what- over a year and a half ago? Which definitely blunts the impact. Too bad Rafael Albuquerque couldn't squeeze out one more issue, but Carlo Barbieri did a fine job filling in. And now, this character, one of DC's better legacy revamps, now embarks on a career of making (essentially) cameo appearances in the likes of Teen Titans and elsewhere; good for keeping him in the public eye but terrible at showcasing what was best about this book, which was his supporting cast. Of course, this wasn't selling all that well when he was writing it, but creatively this comic never really got its feet back under it after John Rogers left; it peaked after the big battle against the Reach that ended in #25, and try as the writers (Nitz, Sturges, Pfiefer) might, they just couldn't recapture that momentum. Oh well, as I seem to be saying so often, it had a good run. Too bad it got nipped in the bud. B+

DIANA PRINCE: WONDER WOMAN VOL 04: The final collection highlights a transitional period in the early 70's Wonder Woman revamp- the decision-makers had already decided that the Emma Peel-lite Diana Prince was going nowhere fast, so Mike Sekowsky moved on, to be replaced by Dennis O'Neil (who seemed to be writing everything for DC at about this time, hope he bought something nice with all those paychecks), Don Heck, and Dick Giordano. Continuing the "needs a male partner" motif of previous issues, the first two stories, guest star somewhat bland PI Jonny Double (whose Showcase premiere had taken place four years previous) and see her mixed up with a murderous cult, as well as the return of Sekowsky's Doctor Cyber in a somewhat unlikely but still well-handled tale that has Cyber wanting to put her brain in Diana's body. After Heck and Giordano on inks on the first chapter, Giordano takes over on pencils and inks for the next few issues and they look very sharp. Catwoman joins the cast in a jewel heist adventure, which takes all concerned to one of those hidden cities of Tibet, and winds up (through the venerable plot contrivance of magic) depositing them all in Nehwon, which is of course the world of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. DC was gearing up to feature the duo in a title, eventually named Sword of Sorcery, in the hopes of getting on the Conan gravy train that Marvel was enjoying at the time. It's a rollicking adventure, for the most part, and the script was credited to SF writer Samuel R. Delaney, although it still reads like O'Neil. Somewhat more tellingly, and quite sad for a title which was initially conceived as a vehicle to showcase female empowerment and echo the Women's Lib movement of the day, Diana sells the boutique that was her sole source of income in between adventures, thus closing another chapter in her life, and paving the way for the star-spangled swimsuit to return. Next up is a reprint of Brave and the Bold #105, a Batman teamup with an unusually restrained Bob Haney script and Jim Aparo art from his peak period. Finally, we return to the DP:WW proper title with a really odd story about Diana helping out a group of female workers whose boss (whimsically drawn to resemble Carmine Infantino by Giordano) is apparently guilty of hassling the local Women's Lib group, and not paying his employees the minimum wage. Not exactly a threat along the same lines of a Doctor Cyber or even an Egg Fu! Delany is credited with this script as well, but it again sure reads like O'Neil, especially because it's as heavy-handed as he could be back then. Anyway, the final tale in this collection brings Diana back full circle- I Ching gets killed by a car that crashes into the restaurant in which they're dining when the driver is hit by a sniper. Diana goes after the gunman, falls out a window with him, hits a ledge and is knocked unconscious, and then awakes in the hospital with amnesia, along with the desperate desire to go back to Paradise Island. She steals a jet, lands in the ocean and fights a shark. The Amazons fish her out of the water, and one convenient memory restoration-via-Amazon-magic science device later, Wondy battles new character Nubia, a black Amazon princess, in the arena, and then Diana returns to our world, immediately getting a job with the UN as a senator's interpreter. As you may have guessed, this was written by the one and only Bob Kanigher, the man responsible for some of the nuttiest WW stories of the 60's and oddly enough, this awkwardly cobbled-together story has more vitality and spark than the last few of O'Neil and Delany's more socially relevant work. Go figure. Anyway, this effectively restored the WW status quo, which has been in effect pretty much ever since, as the Emma Peel-esque Diana Prince was relegated to the margins of DC's wild and weird history. That's why this reprint series ultimately is better as a whole than as the sum of its parts- a lot of that run was, frankly, not so good and brand perpetuation dictated the return to the classic look for the character. I don't know if sales improved or stayed the same. Still, there were times when Sekowsky and O'Neil got in sync and provided some very entertaining little superspy stories, and I'm glad that I finally got to read these- I didn't buy this when it was originally on the stands as a preteen. I find myself wondering a bit if these collections will have any effect or influence on today's readers, who probably will just regard it is almost-camp. Aah, most likely it will be as influential as your basic Showcase Presents, which is to say probably not much at all. We'll see. C+

HELLBLAZER #252: Some creepy moments and good characterization in part two, as John continues to deal with the weird skin rash that not only affects him, but also manifests itself in physical form to his new girlfriend. Oh, and all of this may or may not be tied in to labor strife at an area factory. Oddball kind of story for Milligan to begin his run, but it works OK so far and he writes the lead pretty well. A-

INCREDIBLE HERCULES #126: About a dozen pages for about a dollar more, and it's also designed as one of those "jumping on spots" we all hear so much about. In story one, we get an origin for Herc that I don't think Stan and Jack had in mind but does hew closely to the Greek myths, and in story two, we find out what happened to Amadeus Cho's coyote pup, which I had wondered about. It's not quite Old Yeller territory, but it does tentatively tug on the old heart strings a bit. A-

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #11: This title continues to steadfastly tread water, parsing out little dribs and drabs of information and stringing us along as to what exactly the heck is going on. OK as far as it goes, but my patience wears so thin these days. I really wish they'd get to the point. B

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #24: More of the sturm und drang that passes for mainstream DC comics these days, as we get the further adventures of what passes for the Marvel Family these days. It's not poorly written; everything has gravity and cause and effect, and the dialogue is just fine. It's competently illustrated by that most competent of illustrators, Jerry Ordway, an old hand at calcifying the Marvels from way back. Readable in spite of itself. B

The Madame's still in 19th century London, right in the middle of the Jack the Ripper stuff that went on, and try as she might she can't seem to prevent anything worse from happening. Not only that, but the Phantom Stranger seems to be making things even more difficult by appearing to abet the murderer. Wagner manages to mix all the magic stuff, soap opera stuff grand guignol stuff, and other...stuff pretty well, and despite a definite need to work on drawing top hats, Amy Hadley continues to shine on art. A-

More murders and strangeness in poor old Radiant City, and a some of the clues seem to point to the title character, but we know better- don't we? Another interesting and well-done noirish excursion by Motter, who really is a designer with chops and smarts, even though he's not such a great figure artist. A

SUB-MARINER: THE DEPTHS #5: Downbeat finale to an unusually restrained, even elegant, little miniseries which hasn't gotten much attention but on its own terms was quite well done, especially due to the soft focus painting of Esad Ribac. You could do worse than to get the trade, if you're looking for something to read on a slow afternoon. A-

THUNDERBOLTS #129: This works pretty well for what it's trying to be, I guess, even though all the plot beats are so obvious that one suspects that Diggle surely must have something else in mind eventually. Pleased to see he at least portrays Obama as dubious of Osborne's intentions. The art is adequate to the task at hand, telling the story efficiently and not much else. B+

Often threatening, but never quite succeeding, at devolving into incoherent weirdness-for-weirdness' sake, you've got to hand it to Gerard Way- this trap has ensnared many other writers, including obvious influence Grant Morrison. I still think that this works better as a showcase for Gabriel Ba's art, but it remains one of the more interesting books coming out right now. A-

This one gets back on track for a little while by giving us some face time with Dr. Lwanga's too-good-to-be-true wife, who finally gets to find her missing spouse, considerably worse for wear than he was when she last saw him. Then, it's back to hostile troops and running children and brutality aimed at nuns and my eyes glaze right back over again. B-

Friday, March 13, 2009


Yep, I'm back in the ring after a short break with another FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS "One Panel of Pain". Tonight's single pane of punishment features Quality's hoodoo man Ibis the Invincible landing a haymaker on this surly acolyte of...the Turtle. Yep, apparently there's a whole city of small, sentient turtles who are riding piggyback on the back of a giant sea turtle, who snoozes, oblivious to his freeloading subjects. Boy, they don't write 'em like that anymore, do they? Anyway, Ibis gets his trusty Ibistick back and sorts everyone out in due fashion in this story that the mighty Fortress Keeper posted only yesterday and which I ganked with thanks.

Script by god knows, Otto Binder perhaps? Art by the underrated Kurt Schaffenberger, from Whiz Comics #99.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

State of my Union 2.

Hello, it's been a while, I know. I just really haven't been feeling up to it, sorry. For pretty much the last two weeks, I've been fighting Bronchitis and the Flu, stuffed-up head, hacking cough, fever, you name it...not to be confused with the Tu-ber-cu-lu-cus and the Sinus Blues- or for that matter with the Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu. In fact, everyone in my house- me, Mrs. B., daughter Abby and baby Clara all had it to some degree, a real sick house we were. After trying to combat it with aspirin and Robitussin (sorry, Chris Rock's dad, didn't work all that well) the first week, and missing two days' work, I eventually went to the doctor on Saturday and got some antibiotics, which weren't strong enough...and after a sleepless Sunday night and an insane attempt to go back to work on Monday (my co-worker got laid off, y'see, and now I'm having to do the work of two people for the same pay) to keep from getting behind any more than I already was, I eventually had to break down and drag my haggard ass back to the Doc for another try. This time I got a very strong steroid shot, some stout cough medicine, and some stronger antibiotics, and after sleeping pretty much all Monday night and Tuesday, I felt much better, and went back to work today, more behinder than ever. Anyway, none of this is conducive to doing any serious blogging, and so this site has lain fallow for many a day. About all I could muster up the enthusiasm for was Twittering and posting stuff on Tumblr. But I'm here to tell you now that I fully intend to at least get the reviews of comics I read as far back as two weeks ago, which I've had in draft status for a while now, and some other stuff too while I'm at it.

And no, I haven't been to the movies either, so I have not seen either Coraline (remarkably still playing at my local theatre) or Watchmen. I did watch a film or two on TV, when I could concentrate on it that is, including the elegant, moving HBO film Taking Chance with Kevin Bacon, highly recommended, and Elvis' Blue Hawaii on TCM as well as Fort Apache with John Wayne and the insanely nuts Willie Dynamite with Gordon from Sesame Street as a ruthless pimp. Blaxploitation at its finest! I also screened a documentary about the making of John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band LP, which was quite well done, interesting and informative, and featured lots of screen time for the great Klaus Voorman, who even demonstrates how he played the bass part to "Hold On John" by playing along with the master tapes. I also watched the Dead Like Me direct-to-DVD sequel, mostly unsucessful at capturing what made the short-lived Showtime series so special, which is not to say that it didn't have its moments but was a bittersweet pleasure at best with some headscratching glitches in the storyline. Domo arigato to Johanna Draper Carlson for sending me the screener. Anyway, since 2009 has rolled around, I have been keeping a movie watching diary of sorts, thinking perhaps I'll draw from it to blog about movies a bit more here. You know, like I useta.

Been watching a little network TV, too- I got acquainted with Whedon's Dollhouse while I was laid up; it's not perfect, there are plot holes, and I'm not sure that Eliza Dushku has the acting chops for the demands of the role...but the concept is interesting if a little far-fetched, and they move things along at a smart clip, so it's quite watchable I think. For now. I tried to get interested in Leverage on TNT, and I might still try to go back and get caught up, but I kinda stopped looking for it after a couple of episodes. The new CN show Batman: The Brave and the Bold jumps all over the line of awfully-silly-to-awfully-cool, but overall it's a blast and I think Bob Haney would have loved it. CN's Adult Swim show Superjail is really something, too- sadistic violence and nihilism, all wrapped up in faux-60's animated styings, as if the Blue Meanies in Yellow Submarine were really mean. Clever stuff, if you don't mind the cartoonish gore.

Anyways, been doing a lot of thinking about my "blogging career" in general. No, I'm not gonna quit, don't get your hopes up, but it sure does seem more and more difficult to get the time and the desire to hold forth about this and that as time goes by. Burnout? I don't know. I still like to write occasionally about this and that, but don't really have the fire in the belly to write about music on a consistent basis, hence the fallow music blog, and even comics commentary, such as I provide mostly via reviews, sometimes is a chore- happy to have them done when I get them done, but boy does my tendency towards procrastination rear its ugly head. Oh well, worry not. I haven't been an everyday blogger for a long time now, and all I can do is hope that you can find it in each and every one of your hearts to merely add me to your RSS feed reader or whatever and that way when I do post something, there it will be for you to read. Or ignore.

Thanks for the well-wishes I've had lately, here and on Twitter and Facebook and hither and thither, and as always, keep watching the skies, I'll be posting soon.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

State of my union.

Just in case you were wondering, I have been battling the flu for what seems like a week now, hence my lack of posting, even less than usual. Please bear with.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Kinda been under the weather, and haven't really run across anything (well, other than that scans_daily mess) that has inspired me to write, even if I felt like it. So, hey- here's a Space Cabby page from Mystery in Space #27 for you to look at until I get around to blogging again.