Thursday, January 29, 2004

By the way, in case I don't get around to it, my Super Bowl prediction: The Carolina Panthers have a great running back tandem in Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster, tailor-made for ball control, plus an opportunistic QB in Jake Delhomme, and a stingy, aggressive defense. Coach John Fox has been to the SB before, and knows how to prepare a team.

So I'm picking the New England Patriots. Whadda you think, I'm stupid or something? I don't usually predict scores, but if I did I'd say something along the lines of 22-13. Lotsa field goals.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Nothing yesterday, and I apologize. Been dealing with some personal issues. I'll try to get back into the swing of things at some point in the future, so bear with, please.

In the meantime, I give you exhibit #100,432 in the case against me in regards to ever being a comics reviewer one can take seriously: Jim Henley helping burst my bubble on New Frontier. I have this nasty compulsion to kick myself when I'm down, you know.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

In my never-ending efforts to become a full-service blogging experience for all of you wonderful peoples out there, I have taken advantage of Blogspot's new offering of an Atom syndication "feed" and have enabled this blog to provide same. So if that's the way uh-huh, uh-huh, you like your blog reading, then there you are!

Of course, I have no idea myself how this works but if I get more readers, and my fame is spread far and wide as a result, then why the heck not?

Saturday, January 24, 2004

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What I bought and what I thought, week of January 21

Darwyn Cooke gets his glory-shot series off to a bang with nothing less than an ambitious tribute to the war comics of the Fifties and Sixties, casting a reverent but somewhat revisionist eye at DC war comic stalwarts, then cleverly incorporating Hal Jordan of the soon-to-be Silver Age DC pantheon in towards the end, neatly referencing if not wholly following up on DC's The Golden Age series. Cooke's Kirbyesque art crackles with energy throughout, and there are some absolutely drop-dead gorgeous action scenes- most notably the newspaper-photo scene of Hourman falling off a roof, and a battle between "The Bat-Man" and Superman which is thoughtfully reproduced on the back cover. Cooke as a writer is a bit less accomplished; there are a few instances of awkwardly-placed expository dialogue but overall he does very well, with the death-fight between Jordan and a Korean soldier being particularly involving and ending with a Kanigheresque twist. Thoughtful and unpretentious, New Frontier, at least in its first chapter, lives up to the hype. Now if I could just get that Donald Fagen song out of my head... A-

Much is revealed but little is actually resolved in this, the final issue of volume one...and that's pretty much in keeping with the entire thrust of this book. We find out just exactly how devious and amoral Tao is, and protagonist Holden Carver makes a big decision, one which enables him to go forward but doesn't exactly get him out of any of the messes he currently finds himself in, and then we get a surprising revelation at the end. Brubaker and Phillips have created a small masterpiece with this book, and if you're not one of the converted, give the TPB (and the second one, which should collect the final six issues) a shot in the interval between this issue and Vol. 2 and see if you don't agree. Then make sure you don't forget to add vol. 2 to your pull list! A

In which we find out what Matt Murdock's been up to while we've been vision questing with Echo, as the scope and ramifications of his assumption of the Kingpin's position in the underworld are investigated. Typically smart and sharp Bendis script, equal parts grim and humorous (Neilalien isn't gonna like this one, I don't think). Another fine, if a little static art job by Alex Maleev, who maybe should pull back just a hair on the ol' murky atmosphere reins. Still, nice to have ya back, boys. A

This one's gonna be a lot more interesting to those who have been following this book for a while that those who haven't, "New Storyline" cover tag notwithstanding. Basically a story of a troubled young boy who stumbles upon a doorway to Lucifer's recently-created alternate universe, and the odd spider-like creature that's been using the doorway as a garbage dump, the primary points of interest to me were Mazikeen's reactions to Lucifer's latest machinations, and the conversation with former teenage witch-turned-alternate universe diety and respected-almost equal Elaine Belloc. Nope, not quite new reader friendly, but pretty darn engrossing just the same. Art-wise, it's a testament to how used to Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly's stuff I've become that I don't wish someone would replace them anymore. They're just part of that Lucifer experience, I suppose. A-

Chris Chance impersonates a priest that someone's trying to kill for some mysterious reason, and despite a pat and somewhat too easily resolved Milligan script, it's still an involving story all the way through as we find out how much difference there is between the perceived good guys and bad guys. Helped a lot by fill-in artist Cliff Chiang, who underwhelmed me on "Josie Mac" in Detective and Beware The Creeper, but whose stuff I found more enjoyable here. He's not as fluid and expressive as regular Javier Pulido, but his work is more detailed and is similar enough stylistically that it doesn't disrupt the feel. A-

All in all, a very good week for comics this time out...nothing less than A- ! I still haven't gotten a copy of Gotham Central 15 yet, though. Sigh.
Here's a site I found this morning: Soul Trekking With Pastor Steve. He writes essays and reviews of comics, movies, and so on.
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BSBdG's today are for Nastassja Kinski, 44, star of such films as Cat People, Tess, Faraway, So Close, and was mighty fetching in a bear suit in The Hotel New Hampshire.

Also, today would have been the birthday of the late Warren Zevon.

A special Bacardi Show Birthday Greeting to the Apple Macintosh computer, 20 today. Used my first Mac in 1990, and have been a Mac guy ever since.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Here's the new trailer for Kill Bill vol.2!

Found at Franklin's Findings.
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Sad news: Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo, died today.

Watched the Captain all the time growing up, and I especially liked the books he read and the cartoons ("Tom Terrific") he'd show. God I'm old.
Since all I seem to be good for lately is posting lists, I'm now going to try to emulate Sean T. Collins and make a list of albums that influenced me (in whatever way that I could be "influenced", since I no longer write or perform songs) back in the Silurean Epoch, when I went to high school.

This is problematic, since there is just so much that I listened to back then. I've tried to impose a guideline of sorts, and limit this to what I remember listening to the most from 1975-1978. The first thing you'll notice is that many of these records were released a few years before 1975, and I tried to narrow it down (for example, my favorite Jethro Tull album is A Passion Play, but the Tull album I remember listening to the most in that period is the far inferior Songs From the Wood, so it makes the list.). I also limited the citations to one album per artist, like Sean did. I'm also listing them in alphabetical order, so as to not show favoritism.

1. 10cc-Deceptive Bends (1977)
2. Aerosmith-Rocks (1976)
3. Tony Ashton and Jon Lord-First of the Big Bands (1974)
4. Beatles-Abbey Road (1969)
5. Elvin Bishop-Hometown Boy Makes Good (1976)
6. Black Sabbath-Sabotage (1975)
7. Tommy Bolin-Teaser (1975)
8. Bootsy's Rubber Band-Bootsy? Player of the Year (1976)
9. David Bowie-"Heroes" (1978)
10. Cheech & Chong-Sleeping Beauty (1976)
11. Alice Cooper Goes To Hell (1976)
12. Deep Purple-Who Do We Think We Are? (1973)
13. Donovan-Cosmic Wheels (1973)
14. Electric Light Orchestra-Out of the Blue (1977)
15. Emerson, Lake & Palmer-Works Vol. 1 (1977)
16. Faces-Long Player (1971)
17. Flo & Eddie-Flo & Eddie (1973)
18. Foghat-Rock 'n' Roll Outlaws (1975)
19. Roger Glover & Guests-The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast (1975)
20. George Harrison-Thirty-Three & 1/3 (1976)
21. Ian Hunter-All American Alien Boy (1976)
22. Jethro Tull-Songs From The Wood (1977)
23. Elton John-Rock of the Westies (1976)
24. King Crimson-Starless and Bible Black (1974)
25. Kinks-Celluloid Heroes (1976)
26. Led Zeppelin-Presence (1977)
27. John Lennon-Shaved Fish (1975)
28. Little Feat-Time Loves A Hero (1977)
29. Manfred Mann's Earth Band-The Roaring Silence (1976)
30. Roger McGuinn-Cardiff Rose (1976)
31. Bette Midler-Songs For the New Depression (1976)
32. Montrose-Paper Money (1974)
33. Maria Muldaur-Sweet Harmony (1976)
34. Elliott Murphy-Just A Story From America (1977)
35. Nazareth-Razamanaz (1972)
36. Randy Newman-Good Old Boys (1974)
37. Harry Nilsson-Pussy Cats (1974)
38. Parliament-Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo System (1977)
39. The Pentangle-Solomon's Seal (1972)
40. Richard Pryor-That Nigger's Crazy (1975)
41. Queen-Jazz (1978)
42. Bonnie Raitt-Home Plate (1975)
43. The Ramones-Rocket To Russia (1977)
44. Lou Reed-Coney Island Baby (1976)
45. The Rolling Stones-Made in the Shade (1975)
46. Roxy Music-Siren (1975)
47. Todd Rundgren-Hermit of Mink Hollow (1977)
48. The Rutles (1978)
49. Santana-Festival (1977)
50. Leo Sayer-Just A Boy (1974)
51. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band-The Impossible Dream (1974)
52. Sparks-Kimono My House (1973)
53. Cat Stevens-Foreigner (1973)
54. Rod Stewart-A Night On The Town (1976)
55. Sly Stone-High on You (1975)
56. T. Rex-Tanx (1973)
57. Uriah Heep-Wonderworld (1974)
58. Wet Willie-Manorisms (1978)
59. Roy Wood's Wizzard-Introducing Eddy and the Falcons (1974)
60. Neil Young-Decade (1977)
61. Frank Zappa-Zoot Allures (1976)
62. Be-Bop Deluxe-Sunburst Finish (1976)
63. Blue Oyster Cult-Secret Treaties (1974)
64. Steve Hillage-L (1976)

A very incomplete list, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind. Again, bear in mind that these are not necessarily my favorite albums by these artists, though many of them are, they're simply the ones I remember listening to the most when I was in high school, grades 9-12.

I promise, no more lists for a while.
Retrocrush's list of the 100 Most Annoying Things of 2003 is a hoot and a half. Go read!

Muchas gracias to The Only Blog That Matters for pointing it out!
Gotta point you to Eve Tushnet's outstanding dissection/essay of Watchmen.

As you may have noticed, essays aren't exactly my strong suit. I couldn't write something like this in a hundred years, well, I could write something, but it would be nowhere near as insightful and plain ol' fun to read. Which is why you don't see that much of that sort of thing over here. I'm so jealous.

This should be required reading for the kneejerk-reactive knuckleheads who think Moore's magnum opus is overrated.

Anyway, enough- go read, already! Go!
Noticed this yesterday, and meant to link to it, but didn't get around to it. It's an interesting post-with-links about Wally Wood by Rodrigo Baeza.

For my contribution to the Legend That Is Wallace Wood, go here.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Oh, by the way, happy Chinese New Year, if you observe it! It's the Year of the Monkey. I'm a Rat, by the way...we all had Chinese takeout today for lunch in celebration.

For an interesting take on Chinese mythology, go read Jen Wang's Strings of Fate...
Art site link of the week: Butter and Toast, by Flight contributor Ben Lee.
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Posthumous BSBdG's today for Ann Sothern, who would have been 95 today. I remembered Sothern from TV sitcom appearances, mostly, but last year I happened to catch her in one of the 40's series of Maisie films on TCM and I was smitten. Haven't seen 'em all, yet, but I'm working on it...

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Theresa's done it again: this time, a "books I've read" meme. So without any further ado, hyar 'tis. Books I've read in bold.

1984, George Orwell
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
The BFG, Roald Dahl
Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Bridget Jones?s Diary, Helen Fielding
Captain Corelli?s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
Catch 22, Joseph Heller
The Catcher In The Rye, JD Salinger
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
Dune, Frank Herbert
Emma, Jane Austen
Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Philosopher?s Stone, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
His Dark Materials trilogy, Philip Pullman
The Hitchhiker?s Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams
The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
Holes, Louis Sachar
I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
Katherine, Anya Seton
The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, CS Lewis
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
The Lord Of The Rings, JRR Tolkien

Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blighton
Magician, Raymond E Feist
The Magus, John Fowles
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
Middlemarch, George Eliot
Midnight?s Children, Salman Rushdie
Mort, Terry Pratchett
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
On The Road, Jack Kerouac
One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Perfume, Patrick Suskind
Persuasion, Jane Austen
The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
Pride And Prejudice, Jane Austen
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
The Stand, Stephen King
The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Tess Of The D?urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
The Twits, Roald Dahl
Ulysses, James Joyce
Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
War And Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Watership Down, Richard Adams
The Wind In The Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Winnie-the-Pooh, AA Milne
The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Well, that's it. Obviously, I watch more movies than read books, at least going by this list which doesn't include many of my favorites.
Many in the comics blogospheriverse have expressed their best wishes to artist Dave Cockrum, who's fallen ill lately, and late for the party as usual I'd like to send mine as well. Like he's ever gonna read 'em, but it's the thought that counts, right? Anyway, here's Mark Evanier's most recent update on his condition. Like most comics readers of my age group, I first saw Cockrum's work on his excellent revamp of DC's stodgy old Legion of Super-Heroes in Superboy and the LSH. As usual, I picked up on this series after about three issues had already come out, so naturally Dave did two more and left, to be replaced by the awkward pseudo-Adams stylings of Mike Grell, whose work I dislike to this day. Not to worry- he resurfaced at Marvel a year or so later with a bang on the all-new, all-different Giant-Size X-Men #1, the revamp that changed comics history as we know it. I gave 25 fricking cents for my copy at Caverna Drugs. Anyway, I have fond memories of Cockrum's work, and hope he pulls through as soon as possible.
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Longtime readers of my little bloggie-poo may recall that as a teenager and young adult, say from 1977-1982, I was very slow to embrace or even develop much of a taste for Punk and New Wave music. As a Kentucky boy, I just couldn't relate to all the synths and attitude. The things that motivated the Punks and New Wavers just didn't register with me, plus I was very happy with the music I was hearing from all those dinosaurs in 1975, thank you very much. However, eventually my instinct for good tunes won out over my stubbornness, and I came to like a lot of what came to typify the late 70s-early 80s music scene, at least according to the media. Television, Talking Heads, Human League, The Ramones, U2, and so on. A couple of groups that I had no interest in, though, were Berlin and Romeo Void.

Which brings me, in my typically roundabout way, to what I've watched on TV the last couple of evenings: VH1's Bands Reunited, which features hyper host Aamer Haleem going around and digging up past members of groups which have broken up long ago, and persuading them to get together for a reunion and one-off concert two days later. The first episode was devoted to Eighties synth-band Berlin, of "You Take My Breath Away" fame. People, I hated that group back in the day, but I could not help but watch in helpless fascination as Aamer hunted down each fat, balding past member, stuck his foot in their door, and convinced each of these faceless people to reunite one last time. There was even a strong soap opera element as lead singer Terri Nunn and one of the keyboard players, whose name eludes me, and who apparently had some sort of relationship and parted acrimoniously (to say the least) had their own tearful reunion. Last night's group was another 80s synth group, Romeo Void, who broke up without anybody noticing back in the mid-80s and apparently hadn't seen each other since. Actually, I kinda liked a couple of Void songs: "Never Say Never" and "A Girl in Trouble is a Temporary Thing"...but I didn't like them enough to buy any of their albums. They were all up for it, but there was one problem: the sax player- Benjamin Bossi, I think his name was- had experienced severe hearing loss and couldn't play anymore. They still all got together, but Bossi had to remain a spectator. Very sad, and the VH1 people milked it for all it was worth. Still, I was fascinated...and tonight is A Flock of Seagulls! Hope they mention producer and musical inspiration Bill Nelson.

"Bands Reunited" is a great idea for a show, something VH1 manages to pull off once in a great while, and so far the results have been great. Now, fellas- get to work on reuniting Jellyfish, the Rave-Ups, Green on Red, 1994, and the Pursuit of Happiness!
Via Alan David Doane comes this link to a preview of an interesting-looking new comic coming out in March: Street Angel. The art and dry writing style remind me somewhat of Bob Burden or Charles Burns (or both together), but more than anything of early Mike Allred. I like what I've seen, but that back cover should never have seen the light of day. Makes me wonder which direction they intend to go with it...
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Fair is fair. I did Geri and Mel C, so now here's a BSBdG for Baby, aka Emma Lee Bunton, 28 today. Think someone will make a movie someday titled Whatever Happened to Baby Spice?

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Also, happy happy to Geena Davis, 47, who's been in a lot of fine films over the last two decades, just not so many in this one ever since the one-two punch of The Last Kiss Goodnight and Cutthroat Island (both of which I liked, actually) pretty much killed her career for all intents and purposes. Still, we have Earth Girls are Easy, A League of Their Own, Beetlejuice, Thelma and Louise, Cronenberg's The Fly, and others to remember her by.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Just read over at Theresa's about this movie meme that's going around, and it's a list so I can't resist. I'm a poet and don't know it.

Anywho, here's the way I think it's supposed to work. I reproduce the list and note which I've seen and so on.

First, the required (I think) notes:
+ I've seen 72 of the movies.
+ 34 of the movies were filmed before the year I was born.
+ Six of my favorite movies are on the list.
+ I want to and plan to see 2 of the movies I haven't seen.

*-movies I've seen **-favorite ***- I want to see

1. Godfather, The (1972)*
2. Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)*
3. Godfather: Part II, The (1974)*
4. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, The (2003)***(soon)
5. Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, The (2002)*
6. Casablanca (1942)*
7. Schindler's List (1993)*
8. Shichinin no samurai (The Seven Samurai) (1954)***
9. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)*
10. Citizen Kane (1941)**
11. Star Wars (1977)*
12. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) *
13. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) *
14. Rear Window (1954) *
15. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)*
16. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)*
17. Memento (2000)
18. Usual Suspects, The (1995)*
19. Pulp Fiction (1994)**
20. North by Northwest (1959)*
21. Fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain, Le (Amelie)(2001)*
22. Psycho (1960)*
23. 12 Angry Men (1957)*
24. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)*
25. Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)*
26. Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (The Good, The Bad, The Ugly)(1966)*
27. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)*
28. Goodfellas (1990)*
29. American Beauty (1999)*
30. Vertigo (1958) *
31. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
32. Pianist, The (2002)
33. Matrix, The (1999)*
34. Apocalypse Now (1979)*
35. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)*
36. Some Like It Hot (1959) *
37. Taxi Driver (1976) *
38. Paths of Glory (1957)
39. Third Man, The (1949)***
40. C'era una volta il West (1968)
41. Fight Club (1999)
42. Boot, Das (1981)
43. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001) (Spirited Away)**
44. Double Indemnity (1944)
45. L.A. Confidential (1997) *
46. Chinatown (1974)*
47. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
48. Requiem for a Dream (2000) *
49. Maltese Falcon, The (1941)*
50. M (1931)*
51. All About Eve (1950)
52. Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)*
53. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)*
54. Se7en (1995)*
55. Saving Private Ryan (1998)*
56. Cidade de Deus (2002)
57. Raging Bull (1980)*
58. Wizard of Oz, The (1939)*
59. Rashmon (1950)*
60. Sting, The (1973) *
61. American History X (1998)
62. Alien (1979)*
63. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
64. Leon (The Professional) (1994)
65. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)*
66. Vita bella, La (1997) (Life Is Beautiful)
67. Touch of Evil (1958)*
68. Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)*
69. Wo hu cang long (2000) (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon)*
70. Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)*
71. Great Escape, The (1963)
72. Clockwork Orange, A (1971)**
73. Reservoir Dogs (1992) *
74. Annie Hall (1977)*
75. Amadeus (1984)
76. Jaws (1975)*
77. Ran (1985)
78. On the Waterfront (1954)*
79. Modern Times (1936)
80. High Noon (1952)*
81. Braveheart (1995)*
82. Apartment, The (1960)
83. Sixth Sense, The (1999)*
84. Fargo (1996) *
85. Aliens (1986)*
86. Shining, The (1980)*
87. Blade Runner (1982) *
88. Strangers on a Train (1951)
89. Duck Soup (1933)**
90. Metropolis (1927)*
91. Finding Nemo (2003)*
92. Donnie Darko (2001)*
93. Toy Story 2 (1999)*
94. Princess Bride, The (1987)*
95. General, The (1927)
96. City Lights (1931)
97. Lola rennt (1998) (Run Lola Run)
98. Full Metal Jacket (1987)*
99. Notorious (1946)
100. Sjunde inseglet, Det (The Seventh Seal) (1957)**

Update: My translation skills are somewhat lacking, so I discovered that I had actually seen a couple of the films for which only the foriegn titles are provided. I have updated the list, and provided translations.

Just in case you care, here's what I'l be picking up tomorrow according to the Diamond shipping list:


And that's it! Looking forward to New Frontier, which promises to be a good one, and I'm curious to find out how Brubaker & Phillips is going to wind up the first run of Sleeper. Since we already know there's going to be a vol.2, that kinda takes some of the suspense out, but everything in that book is so gnarled up right now that I want to see how he resolves it all. And Bendis and Maleev are back on Daredevil ! Hoop-la!

More whoops and haloos are in order because I just read over at Graeme's where Andi Watson's Love Fights, which I inexplicably declined to pick up when it was initially released, is coming out in a trade collection of the first six issues. I had been kinda keeping an eye out on eBay for a set of the first six issues, and now that will no longer be necessary, thank you very much.
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BSBdG's go out today to that Bloggety-Blog-Bloggin' Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag. Hope you enjoy your Aquacake!
John Jakala posts and discusses some of DC's upcoming April comics and covers, including a sweet Alex Toth Black Canary illo that I'd bet a nickel or three was originally done to go on an issue of Action Comics way back when, but got shelved until someone exhumed it for Birds of Prey. Of course, I don't know any of this; all I have to go by is the text on the cover, and the fact that new Toth mainstream comics work has been scarce over the last few years. None of this makes it any less excellent.

Monday, January 19, 2004

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Speaking of Ms. McPherson, here's her cover for Sandman Presents: Thessaly, Witch For Hire #3. As with The Losers, strong, interesting covers have roped in another sucker, I mean buyer, who wouldn't ordinarily. I'm talkin' 'bout me here.
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While checking out the links list at, I was taken by the art of one Seanna Hong, an example of which can be seen above and in the feature image spot at right (or above, depending on when you read this post). Why don'cha go check it out?

And appearances to the contrary, her work is not particularly devoted to cheesecake. I just liked those the best.
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What I bought and what I thought, week of January 14, better late than never!

JACK STAFF (Dancing Elephant) 12
My admiration for Paul Grist's work sometimes enables me to overlook things that would drive me crazy in lesser creators' efforts- case in point, the dubious physics behind the bank vault escape in this issue or the non-explanation of how Charlie Raven (the "Greatest Escapologist of the Victorian Age!"- get him in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen right now!) was able to survive 127 years after being drugged and buried alive. But Grist's standard type-and-graphics incorporation, along with his tricky-in-a-fun-way non-linear storytelling style, completely blinds me to such trivial things. I've been waiting for the resolution to this storyline for so long, and my anticipation has built up so much, that I was bound to be a bit disappointed, and I was- this was all tied up a bit too neatly, plus the aforementioned issues tempered my enjoyment somewhat...but you know what? I don't care. This is vibrant, fun, vital storytelling, and everything that's good about comics, specifically "genre" comics. I wish more creators could be "off" as spectacularly as Paul Grist. A

Status quo for this arc. Imaginatively woven plotline by Bill Willingham, with several subplots clamoring for your attention. Each issue, he introduces new characters, some familiar, like Jack Horner, and some which I oughtta know but can't recall (Thrushbeard, the blind "Kay" fellow who can see the evil in people). And it's all made a challenge to read by the hit-and-miss pencils of Mark Buckingham, who never met a human anatomy that he could portray adequately, and the indifferent inks of Steve (where's my paycheck) Leialoha, whom I know can do much better. A-

H-E-R-O 12
Twelve issues in, and sadly this series, which stared so promisingly, has shown signs of running out of steam. This issue takes a less-than-fresh premise, which has been done before in films such as Switch, and makes it as lively as is possible in a PG rated comic book, I suppose, with one or two humorous lines and situations, but it just doesn't add up to a comic that excites me much. Ably illustrated by Leonard Kirk and Wade Von Grawbadger, late of the unlamented-by-my-holds list JSA, and they're as stolidly capable as always. Of course, if I had somehow been magically transformed into a voluptuous female super-being, I know what I'd do- I'd never leave the house! But cheap jokes aside, with this issue the death watch begins. B+

1602 6
Glory be, things actually happen in this issue! And they're actually somewhat diverting! It's as if Gaiman suddenly got excited a few weeks into writing and began to try, and good for him. However, the diagonal lines that are Photoshopped on top of the art, in an effort to make it look old or blurry or somesuch, are still a major annoyance. B
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Also poached from the amazing Miz Brosgol: Hand Knits for Young Moderns!

Vera Brosgol over at the Pants Press Sketchblog has posted some swell Bettie Page-inspired drawings. Click here to check 'em out.
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Good morning! Yes, I have return-ed. I have been in the Great Smoky Mountains area for the last three days, staying in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The occasion was that my daughter, who has an interest in musical theatre and performing arts, wanted to audition at the Dollywood theme park down there. So, like good parents should, we all packed up and took her down.

When I was a kid, my parents and I would take Summer vacations in Gatlinburg (another tourist trap, I mean mecca, in the Smokies) practically every year, sometimes even going back in the Fall. So I quite naturally developed a sentimental attachment to the area and all the motels and attractions. Side note: comics and books I remember buying in Gatlinburg: X-Men 94 (1975), Brave & the Bold 60 (second appearance of the Teen Titans!), and one of the "Days of Future Past" issues of the Byrne/Claremont X-Men, along with a ton of Doc Savage, Avenger/Justice Inc., and Dr. Who paperback books. But the last time I was able to visit the Smokies was 1983, with my in-laws to attend a toy distributors trade show (my pater-in-law was owner of a museum-type attraction back then). After that, after noticing how so many of the old places that I liked as a kid were gone and replaced by malls, McDonald's and the like, so I said "I don't want to go back, I've had enough of this mess". And until this weekend I was as good as my word. Thing is, about ten years after that prophetic utterance I began to kinda want to go back, maybe stay in a cabin in the mountains or chalet or something, and not necesarily spend all my time on the strips in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge...but by then I was in my sadly-still-ongoing wage-slave-with-mortgage-and-family situation and just couldn't see my way clear to it. For 20 years. Then, my daughter decided to give Dollywood a shot, and we decided to go whether we could afford it or not.

We left at 6 PM central, fully expecting to roll in to our hotel sometime
after midnight, but made great time and got there a little after 10:30 CST. After we checked in, we thought we'd better make sure how to get to where we needed to be the next day, so we headed out and found Dollywood (not too difficult- Dolly and her Wood are God in Pigeon Forge) and where the auditions were being held. Then I decided that I wanted to see Gatlinburg again after all this time and we headed straight over. So much had changed, but in an odd way some things were still the same. The streets were configured the same way and some old motels and attractions were still there, and I was all over the road pointing to Theresa and Abby "Look! That's where Hays House used to be! I think ... was there or ...was over there!" I became tiresome quickly, I'm sure. Anyway we were hungry by this time so we went to the packed Denny's in PF and had a quick late supper/very early breakfast. We were waited on by a fellow that reminded me a lot of the homeless cabaret singer in The Fisher King, and we also saw two Elvis impersonators! We then went back to the room and retired for the evening, all of us being too keyed up to sleep much. The audition the next morning was held in a big auditorium in Dollywood, and at least 200 performers showed up for it. Singers, dancers, bluegrass groups, the whole gamut. Even a clown, who came in full clownish regalia...guess he got hired, he was the only one! Anyway, they gave each performer a number and called them onstage in groups of 25 to do their thing. Abby was in the second group (even though her number was 51), and her actual performance went very well. She sang two songs, and she said later that she saw a couple of judges saying favorable things as she performed...the whole thing seemed to go well. So now she waits for a call, and we shall see what we shall see.

We got to wander around in parts of Dollywood, which is basically a replica of an old-fashioned Western town. It seemed to be pretty nice, if you're into Old West/Old South type theme parks. Of course, still on my nostalgia kick, I was walking around trying to see if I could recognize anything from its previous incarnations as Silver Dollar City and Goldrush Junction. Sigh.

By then, my wife's sister and some of her friends had decided to drive down as well, and had rented a cabin in the mountains outside Pigeon Forge. We went up there afterwards and hung out for a while, went back out to look around and shop a little, came back to the cabin (really steep Blazer protested a bit), hung out some more and had supper, then went back to our room, because the cabin, while very nice, was too small to sleep seven people comfortably. Then the rain set in. And it rained all that night and all day the next day, when we tried to go wander around Gatlinburg before we left. It was a sodden, wretched, miserable day, and of course I failed to bring an umbrella, cap or jacket with a hood, so after buying some candy from the Smoky Mountain Candy Kitchen, something Theresa had her heart set on since she was dieting the last time we were there and had to pass, we took some pictures and headed for home.

And that's the story of our weekend adventure. Thanks for reading. More stuff later.

Oh, by the way, appropriately enough today is Dolly Parton's 58th birthday. BSBdG's to ya Dolly, and give my baby girl a job, willya?

Friday, January 16, 2004

Looks like this is gonna do it for me for the weekend. My daughter's going to an audition out of state and we're driving her down, so we most likely won't be back until Sunday at the earliest. So if you've been casing my house, now's your chance. Anyway, I'll try to get comics reviews up by the end of the day Monday, both here as well as on Four Color Hell, plus I've been meaning to write some about a comics series or two when I can sit down and focus for an extended period of time. Plus, I'm overdue for a new Vinyl-O...oh well, everyone have a great weekend and I'll be seein ya!
A lot of folks have linked to this Trapped In A Lyric They Never Wrote! page, which is a worthy attempt to catalogue songs which contain lyrics that reference comic book characters. I haven't studied the list real hard, but I've found a couple of mistakes- Black Sabbath never recorded a song titled "Superman", I think he's thinking about Black Sabbath Vol. 4's "Supernaut" instead, and while I'm always happy to see a Captain Beefheart reference, when he recites "Make me grow Brainiac fingers" in Bongo Fury's "Debra Kadabra" he's talking about the old early 60s Mexican horror flick and its titular character, not Superman's arch-foe. Also, a couple of omissions- Southern boogie guys Wet Willie recorded a song called "Comic Book Hero" on their 1976 album The Wetter The Better, which is a humorous look at the Superman/Lois Lane thing, and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band did a song called "Sgt. Fury" on their Impossible Dream album.

I'll try to examine it in depth later, and maybe even come up with a few others...
Time now for an early edition of Johnny B's Fearless NFL Pigskin Playoff Prognostications!.

Last week: 3-1. Overall: 5-3, .625 .

New England over Indianapolis. Yeah, yeah, I know I picked Indy to go to the Super Bowl, but I'm seeing a couple of things here: first, the Colts' defense is darn near as bad as the Chiefs' was last weekend. They've been underwhelming all year long, as a matter of fact. Second, it's gonna be cold. Wicked cold, as they say. Indy is a dome team, and that's gonna be a problem too. Peyton Manning will get his, but I think the weather and a soft D will undermine his cause.

Carolina over Philadelphia. Philly's D has looked soft to me, too, and Carolina's has been for that reason alone I think I'll go with the Panthers, even without Stephen Davis. Never count out Donovan McNabb, though.
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BSBdG's go out today to director John Carpenter, who turns 56. He's made a ton of great movies (sadly, most of them in the 80's) like personal faves The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China.

Oh yeah. It's my birthday today, too. Whoopee!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Here's something I wasn't aware of, but I'd bet many of you are quite familiar with: The International Catalogue of Superheroes. It has a nice overview of Jack Staff, by the way.

Which brings me to the good news/bad news department. My comics shop got short-shipped yesterday on Gotham Central, but did manage to score me a copy of Jack Staff 12, which more than made up for the disappointment. So hopefully I'll get my copy of GC next week.
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BSBdG's are in order today for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who would have been 75 today.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I've also been spending some time over at, the official site of the great Alex Toth. I've been linked to it here forever now, but hadn't actually spent a lot of time browsing it, until this morning. One of the most interesting features on the site is the "Annotated Toth" section, which contains complete stories, illustrated and in some cases written as well, by Toth with commentary on each page. He also comments on a couple of Mort Meskin stories...fascinating reading, especially if you like Meskin's work as much as I do. And if you don't know who he is, it's a great way to check out some of his comics work. The two most recent annotated stories are two from 1970, the House of Mystery days. Both are kinda sabotaged by rotten coloring, which Toth never fails to point out, but the art (especially in "Turner's Treasure") is excellent. Wonder what he'd think of Lee Loughridge?
It's been slow again this morning, leaving me some time to click around a bit. First, an interesting link, thanks to Bill Sherman, to the Official Pogo website, designed by Mark Evanier. I go back a ways reading Pogo. They ran the strip in the Louisville Courier-Journal when I was growing up until it stopped with Walt Kelly's death, then ran the subsequent (80s, I think it was) revival attempt, which I thought was excellent, after a slow start. I remember seeing the animated specials (which you'd think someone would run again somewhere), and I even had the plastic figures which were given away with detergent. Still do, somewhere. Anyway, check it out- it's by no means complete yet, but I'm sure they'll be adding more material in the future. Plus, there are links to other Pogo fan sites if you want to know more.

Say...didn't Mark write the Pogo revival strip? My memory is so haphazard these days...

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

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I love this album cover! From the official website of former Plimsouls leader Peter Case. I haven't bought any of Case's music since 1992 (and I didn't even buy that one, got it as a radio promo)...this particular one was available originally by mail order, which may account for why I didn't get it, but doesn't explain why I haven't bought any of his subsequent releases. Anyway, nice cover!
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The coveted BSBdG goes out today to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 43. Despite the fact that those who tend to make note of that sort of thing rarely credit her as such (probably because she played such a klutz on Seinfeld for so long), I've always thought she was jaw-droppingly beautiful. For what that's worth.
Little slow today at work, hence my numerous postings. Whilst Googling around, looking for a new feature image, I note that while it's not unusual for many illustrators to have an official website, devoted to their work there are several wonderful illustrators that don't, among them Adam Warren, J.G. Jones and Sean Phillips. What's up wit dat? Here's a one-pager for Warren, also here's a not-bad fansite with a lot of pencil art reproduced. Google searches for Jones and Phillips turn up nothing but original art dealers and online shops selling their graphic novel work.

A search for Michael Lark turns up more of the same, with the only really notable site being one which sells his original art, and lets you take a look at a goodly number of the pages for sale, including many from the wonderful Terminal City series, all reasonably priced at $60 per. I'd love to have a couple of those. A search for Promethea and Chase artist J.H. Williams III turns up a website which says it's soon to be obsolete, and directs you instead to the newish site of his longtime inker Mick Gray. All very nice, but I want to see some Williams art! You can still visit a gallery or two which features, among other things, unused covers for Batman 550, Cameron Chase's first appearance, and an unused promo illo for that late, lamented series, cut down in its prime. Speaking of Chase, her writer and co-creator D. Curtis Johnson has no site. Sad. Also siteless are Howard Chaykin, Elaine (Starstruck, Vamps) Lee, and Jay Muth, illustrator of Epic's Moonshadow, among other things. Personal fave Trevor Von Eeden doesn't have one either, although he told me a while back that he hoped to launch one someday.

So what does all this mean, exactly? Not much. Just passing this info on. I know that there are plenty of creators who do have websites, and that's very cool. But it sure would be nice to be able to visit some of these theoretical sites. wouldn't it...?
I'm geeked to see that I have been included in Fred Hembeck's links list. Even though he (or his webmaster) misspelled my name. Shit happens, I guess.

Also, many thanks to Dirk Deppey for the anniversary wishes. Her name is Theresa Ann Doyle-Jones. She uses the hyphenated format when she writes childrens' stories, none of which have, unfortunately, seen print yet. But I think she's pretty good, and hope springs eternal as they say. Maybe if she dropped the -Jones she'd have a better chance...
Hunter S. Thompson says take the Panthers, Colts and the points this week. I'm leaning towards agreeing. I love his 100% accurate description of the upcoming Colts/Patriots tilt; he calls it a "tall-walking bitch of a game". Cracked me up, it did.
In regards to this Marvel Age thing that's sparked some discussion here and there, I don't really have an strong opinion one way or another- I recognize that it is in the industry's best interests to get younger readers buying comics again, and this sounds as good as anything. Nothing attempted, nothing gained, as that Shakespeare fella once wrote. As far as the actual notion of redoing those great Lee/Kirby/Ditko/Heck/Ayers etc. stories of yore, and the potential aesthetic disaster that is implicit in that notion, seems to me that the last thirty-odd years of convoluted continuity, Liefelds and Rich Bucklers have done far more to tarnish the luster of those classic originals than any attempts to totally re-write-and-draw them now, especially in the clever and energetic modern amerimanga-ish style could do, especially since the medium is intended to be such a niche item anyway. In other words, let 'em rip. We still have the originals to go back (and the various reprints of same) if we want to get the uncut funk, as it were. Like Bill Sherman says, I'm not the target audience for this, so I will retain a healthy skepticism but also force the jury to remain sequestered until I'm ready to make a verdict.

Good thing I didn't have a strong opinion, huh!

Aw, hell, I probably won't even read the damn things myself. Right now, I can't care less about mainstream Marvel comics. Hope lots of kiddies read these, though, and who's to say that I won't buy a couple for my grandson, if I can afford 'em!
Books I have to look forward to tomorrow, according to the Diamond shipping list:

H-E-R-O #12
1602 #6

And that's, as the pig says, all, folks!

You know, it's getting to the point where it's barely worth my while to go to the shop these days, it seems. I've dropped so many titles lately, and added very few (many more drops than adds, for sure), and my purchases are beginning to reflect this. Of course, now that I'm employed in a job that pays significantly less than my previous one, that's a good thing. But this is also a sign of my growing disillusionment with superhero comics in general...specifically the stuff cranked out by the Big Two. S'funny...I was thinking about this the other day, and the only books I still buy that feature spandex superheroes are Jack Staff, Daredevil, the Ultimates, Ultimate Six, The Legion (and as soon as the current creators step down, I'll be dropping that one) and Powers, none of which can really be accurately described as typical. Except perhaps Legion. Am I finally growing up? Am I finally reaching a higher level of sophistication towards the entertainment that I put in my head on a regular basis? Am I overthinking again? Who the heck knows. I'll have to ponder this.

By the way, I just won a copy of Superman: Red Son 3 on eBay, so that solves my "should I take my first two singles and sell them to my comics shop and buy the trade" dilemma. Just in case you're interested.
I'm sure many of you are aware of the recent Funky Winkerbean comic strip storyline, which involves the closing of the neighborhood comics shop and the reactions to this news by the regulars, specifically mailman "Crazy", he of the air guitar proficiency.

All in all, pretty interesting storyline, one which many of us can relate to (although thankfully not me...yet), and while it lapses into some teeth-grinding pretentiousness sometimes, in this as with most Funky storylines, I'm interested in how it all turns out. They've been running this strip in the Louisville Courier-Journal since I was a teenager, it seems, and I've enjoyed seeing how it has progressed from a high school hijinks type gag strip to what it is now, more of a drama involving the high schoolers as thirtysomething grownups. One recent storyline, which involved new lawyer Lisa Moore and her quest to juggle her home life while she tries to prevent the execution of a death row prisoner, was equal parts happy and sad, and very engrossing. Kudos to Tom Batiuk and company on his underrated comic strip.
Submitted for your perusal, and presumed approval: The Comic Book Reader's Bill of Rights (Version 1.0), at Alan David Doane's blog.

I don't know who was threatening to take these mostly of the "it-goes-without-saying"-type freedoms away, but it's interesting to have them all in one place like this. I agree completely with most of the entries, although I think the word "expect" in the first should more realistically be written as "hope", knowing how cutthroat business is, and I wonder if anyone has actually come up with a better alternative to the comics ordering system cited in #7. I especially back #3, it's at the core of what I'm trying to do with this blog.
Just found the funniest review I've read so far of JLA/Avengers, at a new blog named, with such charming modesty, "The Only Blog That Matters". You should click this link and read it. And you know what? I actually think he has a point...

Monday, January 12, 2004

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BSBdG's today go out to the Sporty One herself, Melanie Jayne Chisholm, aka Mel C of the Spice Girls, who's every bit of 30 years old today. For what it's worth, her 1999 solo album Northern Star was pretty good in my opinion. Haven't heard the other one.
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Me and Mrs. B, 25 years ago today. Makes you want to hum that Smashing Pumpkins song, dunnit?

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Me and Mrs. B, 25 years later. My, how time flies, as the saying goes.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

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What I bought and what I thought, week of January 7!

Another light week for me.

The main buzz on this title so far has been about the back-feature- about a waifish but not-as-innocent-as-she-seems young lady named Peculia and the odd and frequently dangerous world she inhabits. She even got a trade collection a few months ago. The lead, a typically Sala-ish rambling and gnarly gothic murder mystery titled "Reflections in a Glass Scorpion", starring his skewed and shrewish Nancy Drew homage Judy Drood, has not been quite as engaging as its support feature- but that changes this time out, because after finding nothing but conundrums wrapped in enigmas for 10 issues, suddenly we get a lot of puzzle pieces all at once, plus a nifty cliffhanger to boot. None of this is especially reader-friendly, so the curious would be advised to, as they say, "wait for the trade". But for those of us who've been there since issue one, the penultimate chapter was worth the wait. The Peculia feature this time out is fine, too, but is less a story and more of a collection of single page illustrations, excellent as always. Richard Sala's an acquired taste, for sure, but thankfully I acquired it long ago. A

Actually, this should be titled (as far as I'm concerned) "My Faith in Mike Carey", because whether or not I really enjoy this light fantasy/comedy/romance book will depend on how skillfully he can handle this sort of story, which (to my knowledge) he's never tried before- other than a couple of instances in Lucifer. So far, so good as he sets up the main characters and manages to make them all likeable...and if it's more than a little reminiscent of the likes of Keith Giffen's Vext, or the film Drop Dead Fred, well, it's early and I have no doubt that Carey will take this in some interesting directions before he's done, like he has so far in Lucifer and John Constantine: Hellblazer. The art, by someone named Sonny Liew (who I'm completely unfamiliar with) and cover artist/interior inker Marc Hempel (whose story-form work I love) is sprightly and energetic and suits the mood perfectly. I doubt that this humble book is going to take the comics world by storm, but it's one that will come to be highly regarded by those who are inclined to seek this sort of thing out. A-

My curiosity got the better of me, and I broke down and signed up for the trade, which collects the first six issues, and picked this up, mostly because I thought it might be a good jumping-on point, plus it had art by Shawn Martinbrough, whose stints on The Creeper and Detective Comics were outstanding. So did I like it? Well, yeah, pretty much- it was basically a "getting acquainted" type issue, except that since the leads had already been introduced we were just privy to how they spent the aftermath of the presumed big mission in #'s 1-6. It's all like a lot of Alias or 24-type TV shows and movies that have been popular lately- lots of double dealing, edginess and grimness throughout (except at the beginning, a nutty scene which I guess, again, would make more sense if I'd read the other issues). Regardless, the characterization is interesting, and I really like the East Indian "Loser" depicted on the cover, but until I read the trade I suppose the jury will be out. B+
Time once again for Johnny B's Fearless NFL Pigskin Playoff Prognostications!

Last week: 2-2, .500 .

St. Louis over Carolina. I expect a close one.
New England over Tennessee
Philadelphia over Green Bay. Another close'un.
Indianapolis over Kansas City. I picked the Colts to go to the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year, and I'm stickin' with 'em.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 31.
What is your score? Get it here.

Found over at Elayne's. Whee!
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Sendin' out BSBdG's today to Tintin, who turns 75 today and whose adventures I used to read, as a kid, in Children's Digest. Pretty spry-looking for such an old geezer, eh? Click on the image to go to

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Another thing before I shut 'er down for the night: I, like the rest of the comics blogospheriverse, rejoice to see that Steven Wintle's Flat Earth is back and better than ever.

Steve, take it from me, Dave Winfield was a hell of a great ballplayer, who played over 15 years for several different teams, and whose bust resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame- unlike Pete Rose, who has, by being a typically blockheaded clod, totally managed to botch the very thing he's needed to do for 14 years now. It will be a fricking miracle if he gets in the Hall now.
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A word or two about my most recent music-type acquisitions, most of which have fallen into my possession thanks to Christmas.

My yuletide haul consisted of Paul Westerberg's Come Feel Me Tremble, The SACD re-issue of Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding, and Fountain of Wayne's Welcome Interstate Managers, all of which I've already written about in my 2003 wrap-up. I got some cash from the in-laws, and rather than buy socks or underwear I immediately hit and ordered three more CDs: Roy Wood's Exotic Mixture, Lambchop's Is A Woman, and Nice. by Puffy AmiYumi. Speaking of nice, Mark Anthony was generous and nice enough to think about me when he was cleaning out his office, and sent me promo copies of Concert For George, Beatles-Let It Be...Naked, the recent Best of Bowie, a Bob Dylan SACD reissue sampler, and the most recent solo release from Ringo Starr, Ringo-Rama, which features his tribute song to George, "Never Without You". He also sent along a DVD disc from the recent Led Zeppelin live set, and the odd DVD collection Lennon Legend. For this Mark has the eternal and undying gratitude of the Show and everyone involved. The rest of you need to get on the ball and send me stuff, too!

I'm kidding, OK? No, really- if you want to send stuff, then that's great but you are under no obligation or pressure to do so. But when I get cool stuff like that, it makes me happy, and when I'm happy, I write more (theoretically) cool stuff, and we all make out like bandits!

By far the best of my seasonal swag is that Puffy AmiYumi CD. Of course, like most gaijin I first became aware of them via the theme song to the new Teen Titans anime, uh, animated series. But the greatest revelation was yet to come...after a heads-up from Bill Sherman, I was elated to discover (no thanks to the super-speed credits) that none other than my old buddy Andy Sturmer, he of one of my favorite 90s bands, Jellyfish, wrote and performed the backing track for the Japanese duo. I just knew I had to get this as soon as possible, and for once my fanaticism was rewarded- Nice. is a tour-de-force of pop music, thanks to Sturmer and the studio musicians who back them up. The first cut is a kinda new-wavey, hopped-up rocker, the second, "Tokyo Nights" is a funny nod to the likes of the Buggles...but it was cut #3, "Angel of Love", that made me give it up for the long haul. A Beatlesque, mid-tempo confection with swirling harmonies and circusy keyboards, just like Jellyfish never went away- and when the trombone solo kicked in, I melted. Other cuts which made my ganglia twitch were "Thank You", which sounds a lot like Wings circa 1973; "Your Love Is A Drug", a catchy rocker with some daffy synth squiggles; "K2G", which is a crazy nutty Japanese ska track that puts No Doubt to shame; and "Shiwase (Happiness)", another dreamy popsong with a gorgeous melody that reminds me a bit of (Jellyfish's) Spilt Milk's "Russian Hill". Of course, the fun and rocking "Teen Titans Theme" is a highlight, and so what if it nicks "Secret Agent Man"? I haven't checked to see if Sturmer has worked on any other Puffy albums, but bet your ass I will soon and I'll have them if he has.

Exotic Mixture is a 1999 compilation of personal God Roy Wood's singles and B-sides spanning the years from his first post-Move solo album Boulders (1973) through releases by post-Wizzard groups such as Wizzo Band, Helicopters and Rockers, on through 1987- most of which have gone unreleased Stateside, and have gone unheard by yours truly. So of course, I've been wanting this since it came out in Blighty back in '99. I wish I could say it was worth the wait, and for the most part it is, but the stuff I like the best I've already heard many times over. Which is not to say everything from 1975's Mustard on is crap, far from it, but a whole lot of side two is given to earnest, but bland attempts at Springsteenish rock or attempts to work in synths and sounds contemporary in the 80s, and very little of it suited Roy at all. 1985's "Sing Out The Old, Ring In The New" is a nice Spectorish throwback to his more fertile years, the two cuts, one of which a medley of old 50s hits (you'd think he'd learned his lesson after Eddy and the Falcons, wouldn't ya?) with the all-star (Thin Lizzy's late Phil Lynott, of all people, was a member) Rockers are kinda clever but go on too long, and the two 1977 cuts from his collaboration with Annie Haslam are fine (but not the best cuts from that particular album, which I'm proud to own)...but I doubt I'll be revisiting disc two very much. The main appeal of this package to me, besides having great Wood songs like "Any Old Time Will Do" and "Oh What A Shame" on CD so I can listen to them at work, is a lot of the obscure B-sides, many instrumentals, that I haven't heard before like the cleverly titled "The Thing is This (This is the Thing)" and the bagpipe-drenched "Bengal Jim", that are completely new to me. The booklet is also a disappointment, basically a collection of pictures and one long essay which manages to ramble for several pages about Roy's story but provides little or no information about the songs on the disc. Sigh.

Lambchop is a band which hails from Nashville, but somehow I managed to never hear of them until a few years ago, when their album "Nixon" got some attention. I downloaded a couple of cuts from their most recent release, Is A Woman a year or two ago, and liked them so much I decided I'd get some of their music when I got the chance. The two cuts in question, "The Old Matchbook Trick" and "New Cobweb Summer", are the highlights, but this is one unusual album. Low-key, jazzy, kinda reminiscent sound-wise of Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece or some of the best of John Martyn, it's tuneful but static, and I find myself tuning it out sometimes. I think this is a disc best enjoyed in dribs and drabs rather than all at once. At any rate, I've enjoyed this enough to where I think I'll track down others in the Lambchop catalogue at some future date.

As far as my freebie stuff went, I've written about Let it Be...Naked and Concert For George, which I already had on DVD, and to be honest, the DVD makes the audio CD a little redundant. But the music on both is first-rate, if a little slick, and who's to say that I won't cue up Macca singing "For You Blue" or Jeff Lynne singing "The Inner Light" with Eastern accompaniment once in a while. The Bowie compilation is another repackage of previous Bowie samplers, gussied up with an additional DVD which consists of concert footage. Haven't really checked that out yet. The songs are mostly pretty good, but there are some glaring omissions such as nothing from Low or Lodger, or "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" or "Day In, Day Out"...and the version of "Young Americans" is horribly edited, like many of the songs represented here in their single versions. One of Bowie's few worthwhile 90s tracks, "I'm Afraid of Americans", suffers from this as well. It also includes the nadir of Bowie's career, his mincing, prancing cover of "Dancing in the Streets" with Mick Jagger, the video of which was absolutely embarrassing. Best of Bowie was worth what it cost me, which was nothing, but if you pay good cash money for it you might not agree. The Dylan sampler was outstanding, and I was especially tickled to see one of my all time fave Zimmytunes "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" included in its original Freewheelin' Bob Dylan glory. Another standout obscurity here is Desire's "One More Cup of Coffee". The Ringo CD is fine, and is a lot more hard-rockish than I was expecting. The George tribute song is a bland disappointment, but the sentiment is genuine so it gets by. I haven't listened to this one as much as I have some of these others; when I do and I hear something that impresses me I'll be sure to note it in the future.

One other acquisition of note: the Lennon Legend DVD. It virtually duplicates the track sequence of the CD release of the same name, but since it's a digital video disc, and to be honest Lennon didn't actually make many promo films in those pre-MTV days, someone got the bright idea to take archival footage of John and Yoko and splice it all together to accompany each song. There's also some animation of John's doodles, and to break the monotony, one or two songs have actual performance footage, like "Instant Karma" which is from some TV show and oddly enough features Klaus Voorman and some other fellow, both playing bass. There's no guitarist, and Alan White is on drums. John, freshly shorn, sits playing keyboards and Yoko knits. Seriously. A bonus is a performance of "Slippin' and Slidin'", surely one of the last TV performances he ever made, from 1975, just before he bowed out of the public eye. I could swear I saw a performance of this very same song from this very same show, but John and his musicians were wearing masks on the back of their heads. Ah, the brain cells I've killed. The long-ago video for "Imagine" (you remember, white piano, white room, Yoko walking around opening curtains) is trotted out yet again as well. Anyway, this is watchable on the whole, but many of the songs suffer from this cutting room mania format, and often the visual just doesn't go along with the song very well. Sometimes they're just plain hard to watch, such as the visual accompaniment for "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" in which we're treated to shot after shot of starving, maimed children and war footage for four plus minutes. Fellas, we got the point about a minute in. Hell, many of us got the point 30 years ago. One cut which benefits is "Mind Games", in which John walks around Central Park, wearing a long black coat and floppy black hat, interacting with people and generally seeming to have a great time. It's fun to watch, and you don't even mind for a minute or two that seven years later a person just like one of those lucky folks back in '73 took a gun and shot him dead.

Boy, that's a depressing note to close on, isn't it?

Anyway, that's most of what I got for Christmas this year. There was also that Firefly DVD I won't shut up about, a really nice book of photos of the Beatles from my son, and a leather jacket from me Mum, and some socks and underwear...but I can't see me getting three long paragraphs out of those (well, maybe the Beatle book), so I'll wind this up now.
I know, I know, content's been light lately. Been kinda busy at work, hence all the one-or-two sentence posts, and never seem to feel like sitting in front of the butterfly curtains. But I'm right here, right now, no matter where I go there I am, so I'm gonna ramble. Hang on and try to pay attention, there will be a test later.

The controversy du jour in the comics blogosphereiverse right now consists of reactions to the old "floppy pamphlets" versus trade paperback and how it affects the comics industry argument, and also damning by association those who (in the parlance) "wait for the trade", eschewing the purchase of the monthly book altogether. John Byrne, whose breath must smell like old socks all the time because he's constantly sticking his foot in his mouth, and Peter David, who usually shows a bit more common sense in his public pronouncements, (they're probably the two most prominent commenters, there are other message boarders who adopt the same position) are taking the self-serving stance that the death of floppies would ruin the industry, depriving them (both the majors and the creators) of the weekly income that they bring. Well, that's the way I understand it, anyway. Longtime readers of this here blog will hopefully remember that I have gone on record as saying that personally, I hope the monthly pamphlet format can continue. Maybe it's because I've been buying them for as long as I can remember, and nostalgia is coloring my judgment, or maybe it's because I kinda enjoy getting a monthly, or semi-monthly, chapter of a title I enjoy reading. Which is not to say that I am opposed to trades...I have been known to pick them up, when I can afford them. Usually it's to get acquainted with a title I haven't been buying previously; a recent example is the newish DC book The Losers. I didn't buy it from the beginning because I was trying to limit the number of new titles I was getting, while weeding out titles I had lost interest in, due to my unemployed state. I was completely unimpressed with the other series I had read by author Andy Diggle, the routine and badly dialogued Lady Constantine, and neither was I an admirer of the art of "Jock". After glancing at issue #1, I figured I could live without The Losers. However, after having recently found gainful employment, I'm looking around a bit more for things to read, and the admittedly snazzy covers for Losers caught ny eye. Noticing that there had already been seven issues see print already, and being unable to find #1 at my comics shop, I decided to add the upcoming collection of the first six issues to my holds and pick up #7 (which I liked, but the art was by a fave of mine, Shawn Martinbrough- review later). I am also still trying to decide whether to take my issues #1 & 2 of Superman: Red Son to the shop and sell them, and pay the difference for the trade which came out last week, or to get #3 on eBay and let it go at that. So what does all this mean? I don't really know, except I kinda like having a choice. For a while, it seemed that there was no way to know for sure if a certain series would get collected; now it seems like almost all of them do in some format or another (except, notably, The Legion) so that eliminates a resrvation of mine to trades. "But", the likes of David and Byrne splutter, "if the industry tries to go to all-trades, then titles like the Legion will disappear!" And that's true- but I am also a firm believer in survival of the fittest. I feel that The Legion is an exception- there are always exceptions- but if adopting an all-trades policy means weeding out the lackluster, the halt, the lame, in short, about 75% of what the Big Two issues these days, then how can that be bad? And while there may be an initial lag, due to creators turning in work that has a longer interval between finishing the job and the books hitting the stores, I have a feeling that all comics companies will strive to fill in the gap as quickly as possible, thus ensuring there is product in the bookstores and specialty shops. And in regard to the assertation that creators will get paid less if this comes to pass, it seems to me that trade collections/graphic novels will have more pages, and creators will still get paid by the page (and if they don't, then they should), so what's the problem? Anyway, as I've said many times before, I'll buy pamphlets until they stop making 'em, but I can adapt and move on. If the only way I can get an all-new Hellboy story by Mike Mignola is to buy his newest graphic novel, then I'll be right there, checkbook in hand. I think the market should dictate, and last time I looked, this is still the (mostly) home of the free and the land of the brave and if someone wants to buy TPBs/GNs exclusively, then by God, they can. And I have the right to be right there with 'em if I so desire.

I said I was gonna ramble, remember? And there's not gonna be a test, i was just kiddin'.

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Two BSBdG's today, first for The King himself- Elvis Aron Presley, who would have been (or may be now, depending on what you believe) 69 today.

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Also, David Bowie, who is 57. Favorite Bowie album: 1980's Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), followed closely by 1973's Aladdin Sane. Underrated Bowie? Hard to say- but I've always had a soft spot for 1986's Never Let Me Down, which I feel is slightly more varied and tuneful than most late-period Bowie records. Which is not to say that it's a classic of any sort. I can see why he changed his name- his real name is kinda boring and dull.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

You are Rick, the people's poet. You're also a virgin
and most prolly always going to be one. You're a
spotty faced selfish bastard. Picking on those
weaker then you. Which leaves no one but Neil
for you to pick on. And would do very well
working in politics.

Which Young Ones Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Found courtesy of the most excellent Leptard. I haven't seen The Young Ones in ages. I'd like to see an anthology show of old British comedy shows that aren't Python, like Dave Allen at Large or The Goodies. Then I'd watch some Python. And I am not a virgin. I swear.
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Found at Sugar'n Spicy, who is thankfully updating again: the website of artist Gerald De Jesus. Click on the pic to see it full size.
I'm calling Sean T. Collins "butter", because he has certainly been on a roll lately. First, an interesting interview with Indie creator Phoebe Gloeckner, which has made me want to write something about Led Zeppelin one of these days, and then his hilarious beatdown of Rich Johnston. That little film clip cracks me up.
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RIP Tug McGraw. Once asked whether he preferred playing on grass or an artificial surface, he said, "I don't know. I never smoked any AstroTurf." I remember seeing him on David Letterman once several years ago, on which he appeared with Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who was taking phone calls from viewers that evening. One caller had asked Dr. Ruth whether it was OK to put onion rings on her lover's penis and eat them off, which caused a huge uproar of laughter and many hilarious quips from Dave. After the segment died down and the commercial break was over (and you could tell Dave, Paul, and the audience were still cracking up), McGraw was introduced, and he came out eating a basket of onion rings, which I'm sure he had gone down and picked up at the NBC commissary after hearing the caller. The crowd went berserk with laughter, and Tug was beaming from ear to ear.

Oh yeah, he was a pretty darn good pitcher back in the day, and I've never been a Mets or Phillies fan.
I'm a little concerned about my mental well-being. I am going through, right now, an almost Trekkie-like addiction to Firefly. Heck, just this morning I stepped out to get into my truck and drive to work and I caught myself thinking "It's gorram cold out here!"

Annie, that redoubtable CzelticGirl, gave me a link in the comments to my previous Firefly post to the Firefly Chinese Pinyinary, a site that translates the Chinese phrases the characters frequently spout. But I didn't want to leave it buried in the comments so I thought I'd pass it on to all of you.

Annie: TZOO-foo nee, mei-mei.
I had been wondering what Len Wein had been up to since he apparently doesn't get to do comics anymore, and thanks to Dirk, Kevin Melrose, and, now I know! I'm too lazy to add links to Dirk and Kevin, so you'll just have to click on the links at right. The JBS is often an interactive experience.
Time now to share with you what I'll be picking up tomorrow according to the Diamond shipping list. I'm still pissed about not getting Jack Staff 12, But I'm holding out hope...


And that be it! Another slow week, and I still haven't decided if I want to get that Red Son trade, either. I already have the first two, and could get the third on eBay, or, for that matter, the trade itself for less than I'd be paying for it at my comics shop. We shall see. Always happy to see a new issue of Richard Sala's mysterious, spooky, and altogether ooky Evil Eye.

Are my standards getting higher, or do I need to buy more comics? Life's little quandaries...
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Sending out mad BSBdG's today to lovely Chasing Amy star Joey Lauren Adams, 33 today and possessor of a voice which makes me feel all weird inside when I hear it,

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and the world's most famous acid casualty Syd Barrett of the Pink Floyd pop group, 58. You know, I really, really liked that song "Bike". Clicking on Syd's picture wil take you to a really informative Floyd site's feature section, and clicking on his name in the previous sentence will take you to another. Just in case you were wondering.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Wow. I just saw where somebody shot the Kinks' Ray Davies in the leg, and it wasn't Dave! Thankfully, he's not seriously injured.

In other news, Pete Rose finally admits to betting on baseball. In related stories, scientists reveal that water is wet, heat is hot, the sky is blue and grass is green. Despite the fact that this is a transparent plan to stimulate interest in his new book and he should have done this years ago, I still think the stupid SOB should be in the Hall, because he was one of the all-time great players, emphasis player. But there's no way in hell he should be allowed to ever hold a position of responsibility with a major league organization again.
Here's a site with some preview pictures and a Japanese trailer for Kill Bill vol. 2, coming out next month! Beware of spoilers...
Jim Henley makes a good point about the Dan Clowes/Ice Haven announcement. But I see it this way: Clowes is still at the height of his abilities. I trust him to elaborate on the original story. He's not so far removed that he can't continue the same feel or bring something new to the concept or even tell other, more interesting stories within the same framework. It's not like revisiting something many years on, ususally a recipe for disaster. I don't know what he has in mind, but I'm interested in finding out...and I don't think he'll do it in a way that will compromise any of the strengths of the original.

You are all now two cents richer.
If for some odd reason you don't read Alan David Doane, or any other of the heavy hitters that have linked to it, here's Christopher Butcher's latest, and overdue, new PreviewsReview column. Especially of interest to me are his right-on-the-money assessments of both Astro City and DC's braindead trade paperback policy.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

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Huh? Whaddaya mean there are no roadways in Venice?

I broke down and rented a couple of DVDs the other day: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or if you will LXG (oy), and George Clooney's filmed version of the memoirs of Chuck Barris, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. I wrote a bit about the latter in my 2003 review below, and now I'll elaborate on what I thought about LXG. I said in my best of 2003 post a while back that this movie wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, and that's true. Judging from the invective hurled at it by not only film critics (one snarky knucklehead said that "they managed to dumb down a comic book"), but film critics who had read the source material and, of course, word of mouth from the comic book readers themselves, who knew better and universally deplored it, I was expecting a trainwreck of biblical proportions. Oh this is not to say that this film isn't a trainwreck, but its proportions are less grandiose. This film is a textbook example of how to take an already high concept and groupthink it into the ground. Heartless, soulless, it defies the attempts of its one or two good actors to be interesting in order to jump from explosion to explosion and ridiculous situation to ridiculous situation, with only token attempts to actually let you get to know the fictional characters involved. You'd think that all the major studios would have learned their lessons after the failures of The Avengers and The Wild Wild West, but apparently that's not the case because this film seems to have followed the blueprint for them to the letter. It blows my mind that James Robinson, so good on DC's Starman, could have scripted this, but I have a feeling that he was in no position to rock the boat, and many hands eventually were involved with shaping the way the film turned out.

But, like I keep saying, I was entertained, in a mindless fashion. The film hurtles from scene to scene, not wishing you to have an opportunity to pause and think, and becomes sort of a rollercoaster ride, which is what major studios seem to think people want. Sean Connery is good, but he's not really asked to do anything but play that standard "Sean Connery" character he now usually always plays, the gruff, capable man's man with that heavy brogue, sort of a haggis-eating John Wayne type. He often comes across here like he's trying to bully the others into acting...Naseeruddin Shah, who plays my favorite comic version character, Captain Nemo, does a great job as well. There are some bits and pieces of clever dialogue, and one or two ideas rear their head in between explosions. Most disappointing was Peta (TV's La Femme Nikita) Wilson's Mina Harker, now an Underworld-style ├╝ber-vamp- she stops every scene dead in which she's required to do more than just pose or jump around. Richard Roxburgh, who was good as the unctuous Duke in Moulin Rouge!, was given absolutely nothing to do, and that's what he did with the role. Especially bad was the wretched Popeye-style prosthetics they used on Jason Flemyng's (as Dr. Jekyll) arms when he became Mr. Hyde- in attempting to emulate the exaggerated style of comic artist Kevin O'Neill, it made The Hulk look like a landmark acheivement in special effects cinema. The completely monstrous thing at the end looked a lot better, but I was amazed at how bad the FX were for Hyde. The rest of the movie was a lot better, effects-wise, although I didn't care for the revamp of the Nautilus.

When they first announced this film, I had a bad feeling about it- I knew that Hollywood wouldn't understand or care to duplicate Moore and O'Neill's understated whimsy and depth, and I was right. So instead we get a compromised, shrill rollercoaster of a movie that was entertaining at its basest level but could have been so much more.
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What I bought and what I thought, week of January 2!

Ol' Conjob has unwittingly been duped into unleashing a Big Bad into the world, and in the process has pissed off and alienated his friends, fellow mystics (nice Phantom Stranger cameo- he should at least be happy that he didn't get his shoes pissed on, like the last time he guested) and latest girlfriend, leaving him all alone to combat the menace. Of course, to longtime readers this is nothing new- the "darkest before the dawn" scenario has been a Constantine staple since the Moore Swamp Thing days. The difference is the great pacing, characterization and dialogue Mike Carey uses, and the great synergy he has going with artist Marcelo Frusin, the most sympathetic collaborator he's had this side of Jon Jay Muth. Hate to say it, but doesn't JC look a bit like Bonnie and Clyde sidekick Michael J. Pollard on the cover? A

I don't think I'm giving too much away when I say that this issue is Warren Ellis' sequel to Wells' From the Earth to the Moon, and it's mighty clever and even a wee bit sad, if a bit on the far-fetched side. But hey, it's not like we look to Planetary for gritty realism anyway. Most interesting to me were the back-and-forth between Elijah Snow and John Stone and the fast-paced takedown of the Four's William Leather, which was the only action scene to be found this time out. Wonderfully illustrated by John Cassaday, as usual, especially in the sequence showing the iron sphere crashing to earth. A

The penultimate chapter of this Mad Magazine meets Tolkien Top 10 spinoff continues in pretty much the same vein as the previous three: clever Alan Moore script and fun Zander Cannon art, albeit with a few less Easter eggs than we've come to expect and a bit lighter tone than last issue's. This will read really well when it's collected, so if you're on the fence about getting it when it comes out, then please keep my recommendation in mind when it does. A-

Thanks to my good friend, Mik Cary aka the Stupid Llama, for selling me his copy! Anyway, I gotta say this isn't half bad (and a definite improvement over last year's awful JB one-shot)...Paul Dini takes the moldy cliche of "Santa's ill...and Christmas will be canceled unless somebody can make his run for him!" and enlivens it with the standard JB cast, plus a couple of welcome new additions. His efforts are almost sunk, though, by the slapdash, apparently-reproduced-from-pencils art of one Jose Garabaldi. Even though his work was very hard to follow sometimes, he does have a deft hand with facial expressions, especially Jing's, and while my initial reaction was disgust I eventually got my bearings and came to tolerate, if not particularly like, it. If nothing else, it was as lively as the script, so all in all I'd say it worked. But next year, Santa, I want Stephen DeStefano back. B+

While this is a definite improvement over last issue's snooze-fest, and a full 25 pages of Chris Sprouse/Karl Story art (try as I might, I can't ID where they swiped the cover) is always welcome, it's pretty obvious that Alan Moore's departure has robbed this book of whatever spark it had. I'll buy till the inevitable cancellation or Sprouse leaves, whichever comes first, but I'll always regret the way this book turned out, because it had so much promise at the beginning. B+

Well, it's been proven that Kurt Busiek can be a real good writer when he's not churning out formulaic junk, and in the past his Astro City series has been the proof...but this mini-series, and in particular the last two issues, have proven that his attention is occupied with making a buck and he's spreading himself too thin. Derivative in every possible way, and sloppily illustrated by the overrated Brent Anderson, this story of a lawyer who tangles with the Mob and the ghostly vigilante who is striking fear into the criminal element of 70s Astro City was readable (Busiek's too talented for it not to be) but unexceptional, like this entire miniseries- with the exception of one issue which was a clever play on the old Superman/Lois/secret identity cliche. And one issue does not a five-issue mini make. This issue: C Entire series: C+