Monday, May 31, 2004

Since I'm all about the quid pro quo here at the JBS, I wanna send a shout-out and some mad linkage to my former homies in the LMBP (Legion of Message Board Posters). I used to hang wit' dat posse back when I was on the DC Message Boards a lot, and they are more fun than a barrel of pirates. I got an email from Sturat today, who recently discovered what I've been up to since my presence on the DCMB's and the LMBP has practically shrunk to nil, and he's been nice enough to post a link to this here blog over at, a swelly-looking message board devoted to the Legion of Super-Heroes and general insanity. You should go check it out and sign up, even if you don't give two shits about the Legion.
Here's a blatant bid for a quote on the jacket of the Scurvy Dogs collection, when such a thing ever sees print:

"Scurvy Dogs is like what Captain Blood would be like if the Marx Bros. had kidnapped Errol Flynn, stuffed him in a barrel with an underage hooker and a bottle of tequila, and made the picture themselves!"

OK, it's not exactly Ebert and Roeper or Mike Clark, but that thought occurred to me earlier this evening and I didn't want to forget it before I had a chance to use it.

I'm still chuckling about that Rue McLanahan commercial, and Pappy's Lite-Brite message.

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What I bought and what I thought, week of May 26!

I can't think of very many single issues that have one scene in them as exciting or as gripping or as just plain fun as the scenes in which Clay digs Pooch out of the overturned plane, or Clay, Jensen, and Pooch are trapped with seemingly no way out, expecting a barbecuing by napalm (I actually gasped out loud with delight when I read how they dealt with the situation- can't remember the last time I did that), the getaway in the evac aircraft, and the eyebrow-raising scene in which Stegler tries to fill Sanderson in on what he's found out so far, only to be taken off the case and reassigned. And this single issue has these four, plus lots more stuff in between the highlights. How frustrating that more people aren't getting the same charge I am out of this book; but I suppose all I can do is be glad it's here for as long as we get to have it. I'm firmly of the belief that DC has two Lee Loughridges, the one who murks up Bat-books and the one who gives us an absolutely gorgeous job on this comic. A

Our first bi-monthly issue deepens all the random plot threads Darwyn Cooke has started- sometimes in surprising fashion, like the John Henry storyline, and sometimes without giving us a clue where it's going, such as the Batman/J'onn J'onzz sorta team up or the events with The Flash. While I am digging the storylines, the appeal for me is, as always, visual- Cooke has a flair for not only retro (loved the car show scene, and Dietrich-as-Mlle. Marie) but a great sense for what works and what doesn't when it comes to action. Sometimes you do get what you pay for. A

Well, if you haven't been reading this up till now, don't bother starting here. Alan Moore's writing this for those of us who've been along for the ride since the beginning, and he's disinclined to explain anything to anybody. Expectations are sidestepped- last issue, I figured we were in for a showdown between Prom and the Painted Doll, and we get one, kinda but not quite- and essentially what this issue's about is just more tightening of the plot threads and characters, in anticipation of next issue's presumably apocalyptic finale. I figure the last issue, #32, will be an epilogue of some sort...but I won't bet the house on it. As always, the Williams/Gray team gives us a magnificent art job, in an assortment of different styles, and especially shines on the second and third from the last page, a bravura, fourth wall-breaking sequence that elicited the second gasp of delight from your somewhat jaded scribe. Seems like only yesterday that people dismissed this title as a Wonder Woman knockoff. Oh my, where has the time gone. A

No, he isn't! Jack Mahoney is the Moth! Oh, all right, I'm only kidding. Anyway, you know going in, as with New Frontier, that you're going to get one thing: excellent, dynamic art by Steve Rude in his young Kirby-meets Jim Steranko-meets Ross Andru style. He is always consistently good. The determining factor in the case of the Moth is the script by Gary Martin, who doubles as inker. While he has his share of dialogue clunkers again this issue, everything else is fine as we get to know more about Jack's new acquaintance, costumed adventurer American Liberty, who just seems too good to be true and turns out to be just that. The Moth is a rare beast, reminsicent more of the fare we used to get from Charlton or Harvey (or later, Eclipse or Pacific) as an alternative to the Big Two back in the day. A-

Dark Knight this isn't, thank God- it's lightweight, but still a lot of fun and of course well drawn by the Master, Bruce Timm. This time out we get another prison catfight for those of us unenlightened types who apparently can't get enough of such things, a silly pair of villians, a creepy/sexy scene with Ivy in the rainforest, and a Batman cameo at the end which features Dini & Timm's Alfred. I would buy a miniseries starring Alfred if T & D did one. A-

The title character is nowhere to be found in chapter two- instead we see the results of the curse he put on the town that persecuted him beacuse of his gory late-night horror TV show, and how the kids that befriended him deal with it. This moves along at a pretty brisk pace, and despite the incongruously noticeable lack of any sort of shock or disbelief on the part of the kids whose parents and neigbors have been changed into demonic monsters, it's an involving read. It also bugs me a bit as to when this is supposed to be taking place- I'm hardly an expert, but I'd venture to say that the height of the weekend horror movie host, the Ghoulardis, Seymours, Sir Cecil Creapes and so on, was in the 70s, but Aleister's show seems to be airing in the here and now, on a small-town TV station, no less (another rarity- I've always thought that big city TV stations were the exclusive purview of Saturday Night Shock Theatre-type programming)...and I guess what I'm trying to say is that I find the setup less than convincing. Something I am convinced of, however, is that artist Breehn Burns is a talent to watch in the future. His/her painted art is atmospheric and very effective, and just cartoonish enough to render his characters in a nicely expressive fashion. B+

Well, we get a bit more action and a little less setup, as the Kadmons prepare to face off with Big Bad Magellan and his monster army. We also find out more about Adam's Mom, apparently a force to be reckoned with on her own, and a more-interesting-than-you'd-think fanciful history lesson involving St. Christopher. Artist Paul Lee is more than equal to the task of illustrating it all, especially when it comes to imaginative renditions of the monster clan. This series won't wow you- it's too low-key for that- but it is a solid read. B+

Amnesiac John deals with the tense situation established last issue in typically efficient fashion, meets up with a demon who offers to give him his memories back- at a price-, but Conjob decides he doesn't want to go back to his previous life, a novel twist to be sure. I'm sure it won't last long, and status quo will soon return, but Mike Carey at least has my attention now, something that was lacking after last issue. We get a guest artist for the guest artist this time out with Chris Brunner subbing for Leo Manco, and he does a nice job. Can't say I'd mind if he does an encore one of these days. B+

Well, the dialogue is snappy, usually a given with Brian Bendis, and Nick Fury's recruitment of his clandestine task force was well done and amusing in places. One exception, the sloshed Wolverine, who annoyed me for some reason- doubly surprising because I care less than nothing for the character. Again, newish illustrator Gabriele Dell'Otto turns in a nice job, kinda murky still and a little stiff in places but skillfully composed, especially in the opening scenes with Fury and Captain America, which looked like Alex Ross on speed. I don't really know what I think about this book. It's obviously not a profit-taking throwaway, but there's just something about it that doesn't quite grab me just yet. Guess I'll just sit back and try to enjoy the ride. B

I didn't actually buy this for myself- I bought it for a friend. Honest. Actually, I really did- but I read it over before I gave it to him, and really, the most "astonishing" thing about it to me, anyway, was how much it read like bored Morrison. Hey, I like Joss Whedon's work on TV- you all know, if you've read me much at all that I LOVED Firefly and was also a big fan of Buffy and to a lesser extent Angel. But Fray (which I didn't read) notwithstanding he just doesn't seem to have a comics writing "voice" yet, and those seeking primo Whedonesque banter should look elsewhere, 'cause it ain't here. John Cassaday's art is excellent, as always, but I'd be astonished if I cared to buy another issue. Unless my friend asks me to buy him #2, and pays me back. C+
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Lest I forget...hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend. But not too enjoyable, since the whole idea is to remember and reflect upon not only those who are near and dear to us and have passed on, but also those who have bravely given their lives for our country, right or wrong.

See? I can be serious when needs must.
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Here's Milla Jovovich, from the upcoming sequel to Resident Evil. Interesting outfit, but what's with the flare-leg remnant under her left knee? Merci beaucoups to Titanic Chris Tabor for sending me this and other pics.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Crap. I had 5 out of 10 new comics reviews done, then as I worked on #6, my computer froze and I lost everything except the first one, which I had saved as a draft earlier. Sigh. I'll do them again tomorrow...I've done enough damage for today.
Catchup comics commentary, before I begin to break down this week's oversized haul:

OK, I understand that there is no overarching theme. nothing which will tie all these individual stories together, that these are just random, one-off looks at different young people with powers and abilities and how they cope (or fail to cope) with them. Nothing wrong with this, but it just causes a bit of a wish, in my mainstream-comics addled brain, that there was a underlying reason (a point, if you will) for all this, and it wasn't just random instances of "young guy or gal has powers, young guy or gal gets into situation because of powers, young guy or gal deals with powers and faces the future, whatever it may be". But taken on their own terms, the individual stories in Demo have been involving and well-executed so far, which brings me to this one- which is about a young fellow of Asian-American origin who grows up in a neighborhood where he's picked on and looked down upon by the intolerant neighbors, and the terrible revenge he enacts when he's finally had enough. The story is dialogued and paced nicely, with events building up inexorably, just as they did with Ken, our protagonist, and when the shit storm hits, you feel the impact. Becky Cloonan turns in a typically outstanding job, atmospheric and just sloppy enough (and I mean sloppy in a good sense) to help us realize the emotions depicted in that time-honored expressionistic fashion. The only negative I had about her art was the peculiarly underdrawn father, and that may have been intentional, to demonstrate his lack of presence and powerlessness...but he really stands out in a not-so-good way. I have questions: in the aftermath of Ken's payback scene, we see his parents slamming the door in his face. Wha-? So what happened after that? Did he live on the streets? Was he taken in by an orphanage, unlikely since he parents were still alive? Did his 'rents eventually get over their fear of their son and let him in, so he could continue his education and be brought up as normally as possible? Obviously, things went well for him after the events depicted here, we're informed of that right off the bat. So wha 'hoppened? Also, did his family have to move because of the terrible events? What did they tell the police? With Demo 6, it's more what we don't see that bugs me, rather than what we do see this time out. B+

This, kiddoes, is one of the funniest damn comics I have ever read. I don't often sit with my mouth open (the drool is so messy) in amazement as I read, but I caught myself doing it at least twice during my initial scan of this issue. The Monsters of Rock satire didn't crack me up as much as the story of the Cap'n's brother Bluebeard (finally- someone recognizes the genius of Anson Williams!) or how Blackbeard deals with his brother, or the Rue McLanahan commercial...but this is just wonderful, glorious insanity from start to finish, and I hope these Dogs sail on for a long, long time. Longer than Anson's singing career, anyway. The goat says...hilarious! A

This is a handsome hardcover which collects the first three miniseries, along with a few short stories that appeared as backups, that Larry Young named his publishing venture after- and while I wish that the pages were a bit bigger, it's still a very nice package to have. But Johnny- whad'ya think? Hm. I like the basic concept, which appears to be man's attempts to reach the moon, stars and beyond, and the press coverage that always seems to go hand in hand- and sometimes things don't always go smoothly. I liked the first series the best, mostly because the story was fun and fast-paced, and because of the art by Matt Smith, whose Mignola-esque style I've admired since I first saw it in the DC Day of Judgment crossover event. Unfortunately, Smith abruptly bails about halfway in and we get utility-man artist Charlie Adlard to fill out not only the rest of this series, but the next two as well. Unfortunately, the second story, "Space: 1959" just didn't work for me at all- the dialogue is laden with cultural references and perceived 50's style dialogue which really draws attention to itself, and we're expected to believe that a man can climb up a ladder as a rocket is reaching escape velocity. Also, Adlard totally fails to give us any sort of visual confirmation that the story does indeed take place in the year before I was born- if not for a few automobiles here and there, and the odd fedora on character's heads early on, this could be any sort of generic time from the 70s to now. The lead female character looks like a typical comic book "sexy-babe" type, and all the soldiers, in their uniforms which I suspect were intended to resemble the space suits worn in Forbidden Planet, are drawn as skin-tight on men, including the nutjob in charge of the secret rocket base, and just look like mannequins in spandex. I've read much better from Young and seen much, much better from Adlard...these things happen. The third story, "One Shot, One Beer" comes across as a lot more relaxed and reads much more naturally. Taking place years after the events of the first miniseries, we are told three entertaining tales (from different time periods, and one featuring a surprise guest-star- surprise to me, anyway) by various inhabitants of the bar which was set up near the ill-fated Lunar base from the first miniseries. Adlard's art is much better this time out, as well, showing how much he improved in the time between minis, and also causes me to think that he's much more comfortable drawing futuristic as opposed to retro. As I said, I think the concept behind Astronauts In Trouble is a solid one, and promises to take some unexpected turns along the way. I would suggest going forward rather than backward, though. I also received the interesting behind-the-scenes look at the genesis of the first miniseries, The Making of Astronauts In Trouble, and it's an interesting look behind the curtain as the title suggests. B+

How much you like this will depend on how much you liked Neil Gaiman's "Kindly Ones" arc from The Sandman oh so long ago. Fortunately for me, this is not a problem since "Kindly Ones" was probably my favorite arc of all of them in that noteworthy run. This is a continuation of "Kindly", as we catch up with Lyta Hall, who was manipulated by the late Morpheus of the Endless into giving him an heir. Mike Carey, of Lucifer fame and no dab hand at picking up Gaiman's concepts and running with them, shows us what life's like for Lyta after the terrible outcome, and mixes her up in a revenge bid by none other than the original Titan, Cronos. Carey, as he tends to do, mixes mythology, theology and drama skillfully and The Furies is a great read because of it. It wouldn't be nearly as successful, however, if not for the meticulous painted art of John Bolton, who is at his best. When it was originally released in hardcover, I wanted this bad but had to pass due to the steep price tag, but it's more affordable in softcover, and when I got the chance to get it at 25% off, I pounced. If you're a Sandman fan, and you don't have this, well, what more do you want? If you're not, I think you could still appreciate and enjoy it, but it presupposes familiarity with the "Kindly" Sandman arc, and it could be offputting. A

Despite the fact that conventional wisdom states that kids don't like to read anymore, somebody buying the books for the pre-teen/teenage market, 'cause from Goosebumps (is that still being published?) to Harry Potter and beyond, there seems to be a ton of entries into that particular field, with more coming out every month. Another entrant into this derby is a series of books called Sidekicks, by Don Danko and Tom Mason, which tells the stories of a group of (you guessed it) sidekicks to older heroes, who apparently recruit and train these kids and their special abilities, with permission from their parents...and we get the usual personality conflicts between the seconds that you see in any kids-in-school situation. Some are conceited bullies, some are shy nerds, some have crushes on unattainable girls, etc., etc. What keeps this from being stale and cliched is the light tone the writers use, and they do come up with several clever twists in the stories. I would imagine that if I was the target age, I would think that these books were the greatest thing since sliced bread, and I would recommend them to any parent who is trying to foster an appreciation for reading in their kids. Myself, I plan to give the review copies to my grandson as soon as he begins to read. Older readers won't probably be too captivated; while the stories aren't written down by any stretch, they're still pretty much concerned with telling the tales to appeal to the 'tweener and aren't burdened with anything that is meant "for Mom and Dad to enjoy, too". Of course, as an older reader I kept flashing on Rick Veitch's Brat Pack series and the sidekicks in Alan Moore's Top 10...but I suppose that's just my geek fanboy burden to bear.

My God, I think I'm caught up now! Coming later, reviews of new comics...
Time now for part two of...MY ALL-TIME TOP 20 FAVORITE COMICS SERIES (and certain runs on certain titles)! THIS TIME...THE SEVENTIES!

First, an addition to/omission from my Sixties list, number 20c if you will: THE SILVER SURFER, by Stan Lee and John and Sal Buscema. This was a series I never missed an issue of, with particular favorites being issue 4, in which Surfy fought Thor with of John Buscema's best art jobs (and I've never really been a Buscema fan), and #'8 and 9, in which Stan cleverly revamps the legendary Flying Dutchman, complete with eyepatch that shoots force beams. Don't know why I didn't think to list it before...probably won't be the last time this happens as I continue with this series! OK, let's get to it- DC first this time, since I became more of a DC fan during this decade...

1.BATMAN This will have to be a group listing, since there were so many Batman-related titles I loved during this decade. Some that come immediately to mind are Archie Goodwin's run on Detective 437-444, with art by Alex Toth and Howard Chaykin, plus his superb collaboration with Walt Simonson, Manhunter; another Simonson issue of Detective, #450, which featured some very innovative and clever renditions of the Dark Knight, including depicting him with short ears for the first time in probably five years; many late 70s issues of Batman Family, which featured some excellent art and stories by Mike Golden, Jim Starlin and Marshall Rogers, Rogers (again) and Steve Englehart on their excellent Detective run, a crossover with the Shadow by Dennis O'Neil and Irv Novick with a Kaluta cover, and several Neal Adams art jobs scattered here and there. I also bought Brave and the Bold, featuring Batman teamups with numerous DC characters, most written by Bob Haney and drawn by Jim Aparo, and most of them were better than the notorious Teen Titans issue that so many have made blog hay from. The 70s were a pretty darn good decade for Batman.
2. THE SHADOW by Dennis O'Neil, Mike Kaluta, Frank Robbins and E.R. Cruz
3. WEIRD WORLDS featuring IRONWOLF by O'Neil and Chaykin
4. SWAMP THING by Len Wein, Berni Wrightson, David Michelinie and Nestor Redondo
5. PHANTOM STRANGER by Wein, Aparo, Arnold Drake, Paul Levitz and Gerry Talaoc
6. STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES featuring THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER by Michelinie and Talaoc
7. MISTER MIRACLE by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer
8. SWORD OF SORCERY by O'Neil, Chaykin, Wrightson, Kaluta, and Simonson
9. BEOWULF: DRAGON SLAYER by Michael Uslan and Ricardo Villamonte
10. ADVENTURE COMICS feat. THE SPECTRE by Mike Fleisher, Russell Carley, Aparo, and Frank Thorne

11. AMAZING ADVENTURES featuring WAR OF THE WORLDS featuring KILLRAVEN 19-39 by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Adams, Chaykin, Don McGregor, Herb Trimpe, P. Craig Russell and others
12. CONAN THE BARBARIAN 1-24 by Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith and Gil Kane
13. TOMB OF DRACULA by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan
14. MARVEL SPOTLIGHT featuring THE SON OF SATAN (including Son of Satan 1-8) by Gary Friedrich, Steve Gerber, Herb Trimpe, Jim Mooney, Sal Buscema, Gil Kane, and a host of others
15. STRANGE TALES featuring WARLOCK 178-181, WARLOCK 1-15 by Starlin
16. DOCTOR STRANGE by Steve Englehart, Frank Brunner and others
17. THE UNCANNY X-MEN by Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, Chris Claremont and John Byrne
18. MASTER OF KUNG FU by Doug Moench, Paul Gulacy, Mike Zeck, Gene Day and others
19. JUNGLE ACTION featuring the BLACK PANTHER by Don McGregor, Billy Graham, Gil Kane and others

20. THE FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS by Gilbert Shelton and Dave Sheridan
21. ZAP! COMIX by Robert Crumb, S.Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Spain, Rick Griffin and many others

Yeah, I know, I did it again. Listed 21 instead of 20. I remembered two that I absolutely could not leave off, and hated to bump the undergrounds, which I enjoyed immensely, to the honorable mention. So I bumped The Scorpion instead and stretched the list.

Honorable mentions: Howard Chaykin's sole Atlas title, The Scorpion; More Chaykin: Marvel Premiere (Chaykin's Monark: Starstalker, or Thomas & Chaykin's version of Solomon Kane) and Spotlight (an outstanding run of Guardians of the Galaxy by Gerber and Al Milgrom); Chaykin's Dominic Fortune, a one-shot in the back of Marvel Presents magazine, best known as the first Punisher solo appearance; Simonson and Marty Pasko's Metal Men, New Gods by Kirby (of course); Justice League of America by Wein and Dick Dillin, which I bought regularly for several years; Mike Ploog's stint on Werewolf By Night, as well as Man-Thing by Ploog and Steve Gerber; Gerber's sporadically interesting Howard The Duck, Bill Everett's sadly short lived reunion with the Sub-Mariner (sorry, don't have the issue numbers handy, but they were somewhere in the 50s- the issue numbers, not the decade.) Also, random issues of Heavy Metal, another publication I picked up regularly...Warren also published reprints of Will Eisner's Spirit which I lapped right up, and the odd treasure like Toth's Bravo For Adventure in its magazines like The Rook or The Goblin. Marvel Team-Up and Iron Fist, along with, of course, X-Men, represented the very peak of both Chris Claremont and John Byrne's careers (and they've been coasting on their rep ever since, in my opinion). Avengers had a long, interesting run with stories by, at the beginning of the decade, Roy Thomas, Neal Adams and Barry Smith, and at the end of the decade by Jim Shooter, of all people, and Michelinie along with Byrne and George Perez on art.

OK, that's all I can think of. Soon, the Eighties. Now feel free to comment at will!

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Happy one year blogiversary to Sean T. Collins, whose Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat page is always a must read. Here's to many more.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Creepy and unsettling, yet strangely fascinating too: that's the 3 page PDF preview of We3, coming from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Something tells me easily upset animal lovers may wish to skip this...apparently Grant's gotten some inspiration from those terrible pictures you've seen- cats and monkeys with electrodes sticking out of their heads, that sort of thing.

Found at Insult To Injury, who also gives us a really nice-looking page from Seaguy2 and a link to a preview of Vimanarama, another upcoming Morrison book I've been interested in.
Damn, what a day so far. Bizz-e.

Anyway, over at Newsarama there's an interview with the skinny on Fab and Gab's Ursula, coming soon from AiT/PlanetLar. This looks great.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Speaking of the Element Man, here's the coolest thing I've heard in a while now, thanks to Milo George via Peiratikos:

The Metamorpho Theme Song!

Careful- this song will attach itself to your brain like a crazed, desperate face-hugger from Alien and won't let go. Listen to it in moderation. The Johnny Bacardi Show is not responsible for any brain damage or irrational acts committed as a result of misuse of this song. I am reminded of Monty Python's lethal joke, actually...

Thank you and oyasumi nasai.
Y'know...I haven't done a list in a while. I'm thinking that I should do a list of my all-time favorite comics series, but as you all know I'm older than God and any such list would be an arduous task...if nothing else, distilling 4 decades worth of favorite titles (and particular runs of certain titles) would mean the list would be a top 200 list, or something like that. So I think that what I shall give you all is my top 20 titles and/or runs one decade at a time. Doesn't that sound ginchy? And with the song from Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, the Rankin/Bass one-you know, "Put One Foot In Front Of The Other" ensconced firmly in me brain pan, here goes nuttin. First up, the Swingin' 60s, the decade in which I discovered at an ludicrously early age that I could read...I think the picture/word association inherent to comics had a great deal to do with it, for sure. And these are in no particular order. I think I'll group 'em by publisher, just to make it easier. You know me, I'm all about the easier.

MY ALL-TIME TOP 20 FAVORITE COMICS SERIES (and certain runs on certain titles) FROM...THE SIXTIES!

I'll list the obvious Marvels first. Bear in mind that many of these I read for the first time through the auspices of Marvel's reprint books like Marvel Tales and Marvel Collector's Item Classics, although I had many of the originals as well. My income was solely dependent upon my parents at the time, and buying complete runs of a given comic was difficult sometimes.

1. The FANTASTIC FOUR by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
2. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by Lee, Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr.
3. AVENGERS by Lee, Roy Thomas, Kirby, Don Heck, John Buscema, George Tuska, and many others
4. NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. by Jim Steranko
5. THE X-MEN by Arnold Drake, Steranko, Thomas and Neal Adams
6. TALES TO ASTONISH starring GIANT-MAN by Lee, Kirby, Larry Lieber, Bob Powell, and others
7. NOT BRAND ECHH! by the entire fricking Marvel Bullpen
8. STRANGE TALES featuring The HUMAN TORCH, The THING, and DR. STRANGE by Lee, Lieber, Powell, Kirby, Ditko, and God knows who else
9. DAREDEVIL by Lee, Wally Wood, Thomas, and Gene Colan
10. CAPTAIN AMERICA by Steranko

11. THE ATOM by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane
12. HAWKMAN by Fox and Murphy Anderson
13. THE SPECTRE by Fox, Anderson, Adams, Jerry Grandenetti, Frank Springer, Berni Wrightson, others
14. BAT LASH by Dennis O'Neil, Nick Cardy and Sergio Aragones
15. JUSTICE LEAGUE of AMERICA by Fox and Mike Sekowsky
16. THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE 95-108 by Arnold Drake and Bob Oksner
17. THE FLASH by Fox and Carmine Infantino


19. MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER by Russ Manning

20a, 20b. CREEPY and EERIE by various

Yeah, yeah, I know I said 20, but I couldn't not list both titles.

I know, you're asking "But- where are the Superman books? Batman!?! Charlton?" Limiting this to 20 (-something) meant something had to be left off, including Bat-books, which I bought my share of and liked OK, but really didn't kick in for me until the very early 70s. Never was Superman fan, although I do remember enjoying more than a few Jimmy Olsens. Guess it was the red hair. I loved books like Beware The Creeper and Hawk & The Dove, along with Teen Titans, House of Mystery featuring Dial H for Hero, Angel and the Ape, Metamorpho (another Bob Haney creation), Metal Men, numerous issues of Showcase...and the list goes on. Many other Marvel, Gold Key, Harvey, Charlton and other books (Bunny Ball, Mighty Atom and the Pixies, anyone?) were read and loved by me almost as much...but these are the ones which made the deepest impression. I was definitely more of a Marvel fan when I was a kid...DCs had a lot of interesting characters, but as far as action and drama went (or at least as far as I perceived that sort of thing when I was in single digits, age-wise), Marvel was the best.

The floor is now open for comments. Coming soon, the 70s and beyond!
"You know..I've heard the smarter you are, the more wrinklely your brain. And you guys' brains must be the wrinkleliest! Oh sure, ordinary Joes like me and Arthur here, maybe our brains are a little on the smooth side. Buy you don't have to be a genius to know that evil is bad!...And..Good isn't!"

A whole page full of Tick quotes! From the cartoon, of course. Oh. Sorry. Animated series.

If I could become the Punisher for a day, first thing I'd do is hunt down those responsible for preventing whoever from releasing the animated series, in its entirety, on DVD. Then I'd go after the people who call the shots in major league baseball and make them answer for the DH. Then I'd...oh, never mind. Enjoy.
Hello. Crazy mad busy today at work so far, so no bloggy goodness from me.

Got lotsa comics stack was bigger than I thought it would be. Not only did I get The Moth 2, Harley & Ivy 2, New Frontier 4, Hellblazer 196, Losers 12, Midnight, Mass. 5, Promethea 30 and Aleister Arcane 2, but also failed to notice Secret Wars 2 on the Diamond list, and picked up a copy of Astounding X-Men 1 as well. Also, my special-ordered copies of Demo 6 and Scurvy Dogs 4 cam in, too. Phew! Plus, I received a copy of the first Malinky Robot comic, Stinky Fish Blues, by Sonny Liew. I also have a ton of other stuff to finish reading and hopefully comment on, such as the collected Astronauts In Trouble, which I really should have done by now, Sidekicks, and The Sandman Presents: The Furies one-shot. But right now, there are full-page realtor listings to typeset and automobile dealership ads to put together. Sigh. What a never-ending cornucopia of delight and excitement my life is...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Sad to read about, from Mark Evanier via Flat Earth, Bob Haney's recent massive stroke. Haney wrote a hell of a lot of DC comics that I read as a young kid and as a teenager, most specifically the eight hundred thousand or so issues of The Brave and the Bold that I read religiously in the 70s. He also created the Mad Mod, who I've spent a fair amount of blogspace writing about over the last few months. I hope that he's able to pull through, but the prognosis doesn't sound good.

Also, I'm a bit embarrased to admit that it didn't occur to me to pass on the information about Omaha The Cat Dancer writer and co-creator Kate Worley's health problems when I posted about the discussed revival of that long-unseen title. Anyway, she's in dire straits, suffering from cancer and having a hard time making ends meet, and the Pulse has posted a news item about it. Go read and help out if you're able.
Good morning! How 'bout those Flames, eh!

First up, a link for Dave Puckett, Fred Hembeck, Nik Dirga, and anybody else who is interested in the Fabs, specifically Paul McCartney: Paul McCartney's Secret Vault, in which mp3 downloads are available of several obscure McCartney tunes, mostly from the late 60s-early 70s but peppered with a Beatle-era cut or two. Myself, I was delighted to see the mega-obscure "Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance" from Paulie's 1973 James Paul McCartney special, never officially released, and "Suicide", a small snippet of which appeared at the end of "Hot as Sun/Glasses" on 1970's McCartney but unheard fully by me until today. It's a loungey jazz-ish tune which, as the website tells us, was once offered to Sinatra. Shyeah, right! Like ol' Blue Eyes was gonna do a song with THAT title! Anyway, check it out- it appeals to the Beatles obscurists among us, for sure. Thanks to the redoubtable Stupid Llama for the link-a-rino.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Ken's Batman Open Mic night thang over at Ringwood Fuckrage has already turned up one absoultely outstanding poem. It blew me away, it did, and I want you to go read it.

I did my best Keanu "whoa" when I got to the part about the time Batman and Superman went out drinking one night. Someone should email the link to all the writers attempting to write Batman right now, I bet they'd love it and might even get an idea or two...
Oh, to be young, attractive, and talented, with a vast future ahead in cartooning...

Found via its addition to the Comics Weblog Update-a-Tron 5000: The Iron Circus, a blog by one Charlie Trotman aka "Spike". She has a couple of webcomics appearing at Girlamatic, and they're pretty good in a Phil Foglio-meets-Linda Medley kind of way. Also, if you want to see a sketchblog done right, click on the link on her front page. Or click here.

I'll be adding her to my Blogroll of Doom as soon as I can get behind a PC, as usual...
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Two things that caught my eye during a belated reading of Rich Johnston's 1000th Lying In The Gutters column:

The website of Adi Granov, who's said to be the artist on Warren Ellis' upcoming Iron Man stint and has a nice soft-edge painted style, as you can tell by the example above. He's done several Marvel covers already, on the likes of She-Hulk and (duh) Iron Man, as you'll see if you visit his site. Sometimes his sequential stuff looks a bit stiff and posed, but hey, nobody's perfect. I don't wanna have to buy frigging Iron Man, for chrissakes, but between Ellis and this, I'm tempted...

Also, an item about the possible return, or at least a possible collection, of Omaha The Cat Dancer, an anthropomorphic-soap-opera-with-hardcore-sex series that was published by various people back in the 80s and of which I never missed an issue. New stories are a bit uncertain due to writer Kate Worley's health problems, but it's nice to see this well-done series in the spotlight again. Johnston also provides a link to Omaha artist Reed Waller's blog, which I didn't know existed.

Monday, May 24, 2004

New Diamond shipping list! Looks like a fat stack is awaiting me this week:


I've been meaning to write a bit about Aleister Arcane, the first issue of which I picked up at the 25% off sale at my comics shop a few weeks ago. It's my first exposure to IDW books, specifically would-be horrormeister Steve Niles, and I thought it was an intriguing first chapter in a story idea that frankly I don't see how it can be sustained in an ongoing series (if it's a limited series I suppose I missed that info)...but it was a good read and sported some very nice painted, I'll give it a shot. Also, any week that contains a new Promethea and Losers (not to mention New Frontier 4) is a kick ass week indeed.
More great news from the Philadelphia Wizard World Vertigo panel:

* The Losers' second trade paperback, Double Down, is due for a November release.

Oh yeah. Another excuse to pester my friends to buy The Losers!
Been reading the reports from Wizard World Philly, specifically the Vertigo panel, and one thing really jumped out at me:

* Morrison's Doom Patrol will be collected. The first volume will be released in September and will feature a new cover by Brian Bolland and three pages never seen before. The second volume will be released in December and will include art from Morrison.

Wow! I never thought I'd see the day, especially since DC seems eager to replace Morrison's run with something- anything- else! I would think that they would be concerned that less discerning readers would be completely confused when confronted with this, after having read Byrne's more, shall we say, traditional take on the DP. Oh well, if nothing else maybe there will be some more Crazy Jane in the "three pages never seen before". I miss that character.

A couple of pics from the upcoming film Constantine, too. Boy, DC is trying to put their best spin on the whole thing, but I just can't see how this is going to be anything but a trainwreck. There are easily 500 actors you could name off the top of your head that would make a better John Constantine, and to make him American totally strips the character of effectively 3/4 of his charisma and personality, which has never been Keanu's strong suit in the first place...which is probably why it was done. Anyway, we'll see.
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Watched a couple of entertaining movies over the weekend, and they couldn't be more different.

First, Bend It Like Beckham, a thoroughly predictible, but no less enjoyable film about a young East Indian girl named Jess (short for Jesminda), played with spark by one Parminder K. Nagra, whose dream it is to play soccer (or "football", if you will) for England. Of course, her devout and straightlaced parents are dead against it, her mother because she wants her daughter to follow in the footsteps of her older sister and get married, lkearn to cook and raise a family, and she would be "showing her bare legs to complete strangers"; and her father because he was a good cricketer who wasn't allowed to play in London due to prejudice against Sikhs. The complications ensue when she meets Jules (played by Keira Knightley, who left me cold in Pirates of the Carribean, but who's quite likeable here), who sees what a good football player she is and recruits her for the local women's team, called the Houndslow Harriers. She begins sneaking off to play and practice, and much of the first half of the film is devoted to the complications caused by this. Eventually, a love triangle forms between Jess, Jules and the coach of the team (Jonathan Rhys-Davis), who can't really pay attention to either of them because he's their coach...but eventually breaks down and falls for Jess, which infuriates Jules. But don't worry, everything pretty much turns out OK in the end, although not quite in the way you'd think, and I was consistently entertained, charmed, and fascinated by this film, which does follow the standard template but adds enough quirk and personality that it overcomes its limitations. The soundtrack, a mix of Eastern and Western musics and studded with cuts by the likes of Melanie Chisholm, Beckham's spouse (for now) Victoria, and Curtis Mayfield (sadly missing on the CD), is great and there's even a colorful and raucous Eastern Wedding scene. I heartily recommend this film to anyone who is in the mood for a feel-good kind of movie with enough of a twist that you'll respect yourself in the morning.

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I guess there's not much else to be said about Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol.2 that hasn't been said much better in many different places...but I'm gonna try anyway. KBV2 is, when you boil it down, a movie made by a film geek for film geeks, and if you are inclined to like his sources, or like a down-and-dirty action tale with snappy dialogue and interesting characters, you'll more than likely dig it a lot. Tarantino's simply making film as collage, passing on the styles he loves- no more, no less. He's not really aspiring to ART, even though if it happens during the course of the flick that's just fine with him. There are nitpickers and naysayers, mostly repulsed by the violence, or perceived sexism, or what have you- and those people will always find something to complain about. But for those who are a bit more objective about their film, or can be if need be, then I don't see how you can't not like these films, both this and Vol. 1. I have to admit that I got more of a charge from the first volume...this one was more Italian Western than Hong Kong Fu-influenced, and I've never been real crazy about the films of Sergio Leone and others. Just personal preference, I suppose. Secondly, V2 just seemed a bit padded. Of course, this was originally conceived as one long movie, but the studio requested it be shortened somehow and it eventually got split into two "volumes"...but it didn't show as much in the first as it did in the second. Another minor quibble. I can unreservedly say that I really liked the performances by Daryl Hannah (who knew she could play such a bad-ass bitch!) and especially Michael Madsen, whom I've always liked and seemed doomed to straight-to-cable mystery/thriller hell and hasn't been a part of a movie this good in ages. Of course, Uma Thurman gave a real eye-opening perf as the main character- seems that QT knows how to bring out the best in her. She's been unrelievedly bland in everything she's done since Pulp Fiction. The Kill Bill films may never be considered "great cinema", but I happen to appreciate what Tarantino's trying to do, and I hope he keeps on doing it for as long as he can. I'm also hoping that Kill Bill will be restored to a complete film again and released on DVD that way, 'cause I'd really like to see it in one sitting.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

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What I bought and what I thought, week of May 19!

Well, what we have here is a remarkable piece of work, I think, despite a somewhat tentative beginning. Despite borrowing liberally from a lot of sources, such as Rackham's illustrations for A Midsummer-Night's Dream, Lovecraft, and many works of fiction for young readers (including, yes, Harry Potter, Ted Naifeh's crafted a very credible little world for his round-faced, big-eyed, and somewhat hard-to-like but still sympathetic protagonist to inhabit- full of monsters from legend, wizards, fairies, and, most horrifying, high-school teenagers. This is the finale of this particular mini series, and it advances as many plot threads as it does resolve others, even though I kinda thought it was a little rushed- like he ran out of pages before he realized it and had to accelerate the process to stay within the count- I still was satisfied, entertained and, of course, very interested in what happens next. And his art is, as always, very good. Very, very good. This issue: A. Entire series: A-.

OK, I'll freely admit right up front that if you haven't been reading this title up to now, then this is not one of those "good jumping-on points" that they keep going on about. Of course, you may have a passing familiarity with Biblical lore and/or Gaiman's Sandman , and that may help, but I doubt you'll really pick up on the subtleties that Mike Carey has been developing for the last 4 plus years. For this extra-sized issue, what we get is some backstory- explanations about motivations and histories of several of his cast of characters, and a few implied theological posits for those who are inclined to dissect those sorts of things, and 40 pages of gorgeous P. Craig Russell art (hey, just like in Sandman 50, whatta coincidence!), exquisitely colored by someone name of Lovern Kindzierski. All for only 55¢ more! A nice reassurance that Mike Carey isn't neglecting his best book as he speads himself thinnner and thinner these days. A

Mostly satisfying conclusion to the "DD vs. the Yakuza vs. the super-hero population of New York and Ben Urich and himself and his friends" story arc which is mostly fast-paced, down-to-earth, and pretty funny in places (some might be offended by the Cage/DD/Iron Fist/Spidey banter, but not I). Alex Maleev is asked to draw some action this time around, instead of black panels with facial outlines and Xeroxed city streets, and while it will never be a strength of his he still succeeds as often as he falls short. I still can't think of any artist I'd rather have drawing this title as it is right now. Docked a full notch for essentially restoring DD's status quo, convienently doing away with the most compelling character (soon-to-be ex-wife Milla), and reassuring us that no matter how sharp Bendis's plots or dialogue may be, we're still reading the exploits of a corporate licensed property, and he can bend but never so much that he can't be restored to his original shape whenever possible. B+

Oh, Seaguy. I was tempted to let it go with a cutesy, clever "Da Fug!" and that's it, but I feel like I should do a little better than that. To begin with, I believe that arrangements should be made now to do a full scientific study of Grant Morrison's brain, in order to find out exactly what makes it so different from normal human brains, and try to come up with an explanation regarding how the man can produce the random, the absurd, the nonsensical, the whimsical, the surreal, the flat-out strange ideas he does, and how he can do them with such apparent ease and profieciency. Seaguy seems to be mostly a platform for Grant and artist Cam Stewart, never better than here, to present his views and feelings about the world we live in, both as citizens and as comics readers, and to express these views and opinions as obliquely as possible, giving us a cornucopia of such wildly disparate characters like Death-as Venetian-gondolier, who plays chess with our "hero" on a daily basis, Seventh Seal-style, and is defeated because of the plot contrivance (and it's made obvious that this is a PLOT CONTRIVANCE, make no mistake) that he's "colorblind", so he can't tell the black pieces from the white pieces, "XOO", a substance that everything in this society SG lives in seems to be made of, or will be soon...SG drinks a soda and regurgitates a living, pink eel-like creature that resembles a melting penis made out of bubblegum, a wizened old stereotypical sea cap'n who seems to be able to discuss ancient Egyptian history fluently, "She-Beard", an obvious swipe at Wonder Woman/Red Sonja type characters; SG crushes on her, but she ignores him, and of course, Chubby De Choona, a floating, cigar-chomping Jabberjaw-esque tunafish who seems to symbolize SG's inner monologue, fills the comic relief sidekick role, and speaks in a 40's Brooklyn tough-guy dialect. Of course, as it stands right now, the disjointed parts are greater than the sum of all this, and you can take almost every single oddball character and situation and attach some sort of deeper significance to it...but due to the sequential nature that Morrison's chosen to give this to us in, we will have to wait a while, I think, before it all becomes clear...if it ever does. It took me a few readings to "get" Flex Mentallo, too, but when it finally did kick in, oh boy, did I love that one. The Filth and The Invisibles, on the other hand, I still don't fully understand, and I probably never will. Still, I can certainly appreciate the skill and imagination that goes into Morrison's projects like this, and all I can do is go along for the ride and hope for the best. And hope someone declares "SHAMAN"! soon. B+

Wrapped inside a Matt Wagner cover that depicts George Clooney in a prison jumpsuit, we have a clever story about our hero filling in for an escaped convict and longtime friend of his who just wants a week to take care of some personal matters on the outside, and enlists Chris Chance to take the heat dressed as him. Of course, we get a twist ending, a really surprising one for sure, so be ready! Also, another nicely done art job by Cliff Chiang, who hasn't exactly made me forget Javier Pulido, but has impressed me enough to hope that he can perhaps alternate storylines, if this low selling title has enough storylines left...! But as always, the credibility of Chance's disguises still bugs me (especially when it comes to sexual relations, something which is a big part of the storyline here), and this title, while it entertains me and maintains my interest, just doesn't grab me (for reasons I just can't quite put my finger on) and leave me eagerly anticipating more. If Human Target got canned tomorrow, I would think it was a shame, but I wouldn't be too upset. B+

Saturday, May 22, 2004

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Been out and about most of the day today, and now I'm crashed out in front of the telly so I have no energy to write or draw or do anything except watch Mickey comics commentary (I hesitate to use the term "reviews" these days) will be forthcoming tomorrow. Saw Kill Bill Vol. 2 today, too- for $1! Cool, huh. Good movie, too.

In the meantime, something to tide you over: click on the above illustration to go to a site with the text of Will Shakespeare's A Midsummer-night's Dream, with accompanying (beautiful) illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

Friday, May 21, 2004

D. Emerson Eddy has written a thorough examination of one of my favorite comics series, the late 80's Shadow series by Chaykin, Andy Helfer, Bill Sinkiewicz, and Kyle Baker. I am especially a fan of the Helfer/Baker issues; I thought those were just amazing examples of high adventure wedded with black-as-ink comedy. To this day I would give mucho dinero for a four-issue miniseries featuring the Shadow's "Cob Driva" Percy Jenifah.

However, at the end I think D. has erred somewhat: the cancellation of this series, by most accounts, was requested by Conde Nast well before the final issue of the series, #19, not because of what H & B did in that particular issue, but because of the total incongruence of what was going on in the comic with the established Shadow character that would soon be featured in the movie which was surely then in the planning stages. And while it may have been a little too over-the-top in its superhero parodics, I think more substantial plot devices were on the way (the rock star who paid to have the Shadow's girasol stolen), so I think that this issue stands out a bit more because of the abrupt cancellation directly afterwards, and wasn't necessarily indicative of any potential direction or downward slide.

The article, should you choose to read it, is in Adobe PDF format; which means if you don't have Adobe Reader then you'll need to go to and download it...but worry not; it's free.
Now I'd like to point you to a very astute dissection of the Angel finale, at Otto's Coffee Shop. He also posts about Deadwood after every new episode...
Yep, this looks promising. A preview of Brian Vaughn and Tony Harris' upcoming Ex Machina. I've been somewhat less than impressed with what I've read from Vaughn so far, but hope springs eternal, as they say, and I'm very curious about the politician with the green stuff on his face. Hope I added this to my pull list.

Found via Graeme, checkin' out CBR so I don't have to.
For those of you with artistic aspirations, CBR's latest Comic Book Idol competition is set to get under way.

Just thought you might like to know.
While I'm thinking about it, here's another comic-music association, perhaps the first time this peculiar phenomenon ever happened to me, and I'll bet Neilalien might find this interesting: Strange Tales 133, Dr. Strange mixed up with warring sisters in some Ditkoesque dimenson in a tale titled "A Nameless Land, A Timeless Time" (Boy, could Stan name 'em or what), and "Love Potion #9" by the Coasters, one of the many classic 45s in my Aunt Lavana's record collection that I listened to all the time when I was a little kid and stayed with my grandparents while my folks worked. For some reason, this story (which I haven't read in years) and that song are forever linked in my mind.

More non-nostalgia related posts later, hopefully...

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I was listening to Electric Light Orchestra II the other day, and the whole time I also kept flashing on scenes and certain panels from DC's 1973 Shadow series, specifically issue #2. Because I was first listening to that album at about the same period of time that I was first beginning to get acquainted with the Shadow, and in particular Mike Kaluta's atmospheric artwork on same, the album and that particular comic are forever linked in my mind. Another example of this is Rick Wakeman's 1973 solo debut Six Wives of Henry VIII and issue #29 of Amazing Adventures featuring Killraven, specifically the snow skimmer chase sequence at the end. If you've ever read it you'll know the one. Say, when are we gonna get an "Essential Killraven", anyway?

So I'm wondering- do any of you do this? Associate certain albums or songs with certain comics? Enquiring minds wanna know...
New Christgau Consumer Guide up over at He's not too crazy about the Thrills, it appears, but the Jon Langford disc he reviews first sounds interesting...
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Bacardi Show Birthday Greetings are in order to day for the lovely Jane Wiedlin, who turns an astounding 46 today. Never was a huge Go-Go's fan, but I really liked her overproduced but quirky and clever debut solo album, from waaaaay back in 1985, Jane Wiedlin.

Jane apparently has other, non-musical interests, as well. That's where I stole the picture from, as you'll see if you click on the link.
Your quickie link of the day: The Dancing Jesus Homepage! Dee dee dee dee dee dee...

I don't recall where I first saw this, but I thank you, whoever you are.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Well, it's the second intermission of the Flames-Sharks game (Go Flames!), so I'm gonna try to write a few lines before I go back to the cushy embrace of the tee-wee.

If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, then I need to go get my flame resistant pajamas...because I started to sit down earlier this evening and comment on the other odds-and-sods comics I've picked up lately, like I said I would, but the usual distractions ensued and now I don't really have the time. I've got about a half dozen lengthy pieces in me, but just can't seem to gather the energy or find theopportunity to squeeze them out. Like I said, I started...but then the Angel finale came on, and there went that plan. Most of my early evening was taken up by working on my template, trying to replace all the bells and whistles I had on JBS version 2.0. So far, so good, but I wish I knew why my Onestat icon's not showing up...

About the Angel series finale, I think that one was as good as we could hope for all things considered. Plus, they left the door open in case the principles ever wanted to do a special or even, God forbid, a film someday. Well done, with lotsa drama, tension, and laffs. I got a chuckle out of Angel's remark at the very end, plus the reaction from Spike when he told them "One of you will betray me". I wish the Buffy finale had been as satisfying. Now get to work on Serenity, Joss...

Also, there were new comics to read, all I listed previously...except for Demo 6. I did a fair amount of bitching, and they called Nashville again (this time with me standing there) to get me copies of both that and the Scurvy Dogs I missed two weeks ago. I don't know why this has to be such a hassle, but there ya go. What can ya do, besides try alternative suppliers with no guarantee that I'll get any more satisfaction from them than I do my well-meaning, and mostly competent, but still often frustrating only-comics-shop-in-the-area.

Found myself awake in the wee hours this morning, and managed to catch an airing of last year's zombie movie du jour, 28 Days Later. Fast-paced, artfully shot and well acted, and pretty gripping throughout. All the English-ness of the thing was kinda fun, different anyway...I found myself wondering, "wouldn't it be cool if someone made a sequel to Snatch, in which Brick Top, Bullet-Tooth Tony, and Frankie Fucking Four-Fingers came back as zombies?" But you know, something bugs me about zombie movies, ever since Romero: just exactly why is it, do you think, that zombies always want to be cannibals, to eat flesh, brains, and blood? Is there something about the plague viruses, or radioactive substances, or comet dust, that creates an intense need for raw human meat? I know, I know, because it's scarier that way...but when you think about it it just doesn't make a lot of sense. Sure, they're crazed, irrational, mindless wretches- but since when does that translate into blood lust or cannibalistic urges? If they're ravenously hungry, wouldn't a Philly cheese steak or Caesar Salad do just as well? Are they trying, on some level, to replace blood or protein lost? Or should I just stop trying to rationalize and sit back and enjoy the zombie movies and comics and just shut up? Ah well...if you haven't already, see 28 Days Later. It's an intense thrill-ride of a film, and even stops long enough once in a while to give us a mystery or two and allow us to think. About why zombies always become cannibals.

Anyway, I plan on trying to get some stuff written in the next few days, but to be honest I, right now, intend to spend a significant chunk of the weekend trying to draw at least a page or three of some of the scripts I"ve gotten lately (thanks, Ken, and of course Larry's Proof of Concept), so other than new comic capsule reviews (gotta be real careful what I call 'em, y'know), I can't guarantee anything. But hey- isn't life like that, when all is said and done?

3rd period's starting. Gotta go. Oyasumi Nasai.
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Hey! I feel another Vinyl-O coming on! For those who may not be familiar with the Mondo Vinyl-O!, it's where I write a paragraph or three about a number of those paragons of antiquity the 33 1/3 long-playing vinyl recorded album, specifically those I've listened to in the period since the last Vinyl-O!. This was prompted originally by a new turntable I purchased in late 2002, and my joy in being able to listen to a lot of albums that I hadn't been able to for a heck of a long time, or to be specific, the demise of my previous turntable. So anyway, on with the show.

You're probably aware of Hunter- lead vocalist and primary songwriter for the great Mott The Hoople, big hit "All The Young Dudes", also wrote "Once Bitten Twice Shy" (Great White had a hit with it, shudder) "Cleveland Rocks" (you remember- Drew Carey). In 1975, having gone as far as he felt he could go with Mott, he struck out on his own (well, with former Bowie main man Mick Ronson at first) and released his self-titled debut later that same year. It went over pretty well, but Ronson couldn't hang around thanks to his rotten contract with Tony DeFries and MainMan, so Hunter was left to his own devices and recorded the more low-key and jazzy All American Alien Boy in America the next year. While this was an excellent album, it contained no hits and stiffed. Hunter went back to England, formed a band, recorded some new songs with then-white-hot Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker, and named the record after the band, "Overnight Angels". All good, right? Monster record, right? Wrong. Columbia USA, for some reason, didn't like the album and chose not to release it, and it was available only on import for several years. Of course, you know I had to search all over God's earth to get a copy because I was an absolutely rabid Hunter/Mott fan back then, and I managed to score this album a year later thanks to the efforts of Bill Lloyd at Tunetown. Anyway, it's a mystery why Columbia didn't like this- it's certainly no worse than the first two. With Baker at the helm, it has a bit more bombast than we were accustomed to getting from Ian at the time, but it really added a galloping, frantic edge to cuts like the side one opener "Golden Opportunity" and the next cut, "Shallow Crystals". Track three, which name-drops the band in "Hey Hey We're The Monkees" style, opens ominously but soon breaks out into a surging rocker. "Broadway" is a typical Hunter song about young girl in the big city and showbiz and rock 'n' roll and all that, and is marked with nice dynamics. Side two begins with a bopping rocker "Justice of the Peace", featuring doo-wopish vocal backing; it's agreeable but slight. Next up is another fallen angel song, "Miss Silver Dime", which again has a nice theatrical dynamic with its swelling chorus but features some rather sexist lyrics (Hunter sometimes fell into this trap, sadly). "Wild and Free" attempts to be just that, but is really the only clunker on the record- it's a lot of bash and crash and nothing else. "Ballad of Little Star" is similar in feel to "Shallow Crystals" and "Broadway". The album's closer is really out of left field- "To Love A Woman" is almost pop-soul, and sounded very radio-friendly to my ears with its Queen-ish backing vocals. It's anybody's guess why this album received the treatment it did, but the upshot was that Hunter disbanded the group (one of the members had gone to join Foreigner anyway) and came back two years later with what was his best-selling (well, Ian Hunter might have sold more, I don't know) solo album, You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic, so it all turned out OK. I still like to dig this out and give it a listen once in a while, and I'm happy to have it!

This was the album that set Supertramp up for its late 70s-early 80s success, thanks to its hit "Give A Little Bit", a charming piece of poppery that sounds good on the radio to this day. Supertramp as a group was an odd duck- too pop to be prog, too elaborate in its song structures and subject matter to be pop- but most often they got lumped in with the progressives. Of course, after the next album Breakfast In America went sextuple platinum, they started getting compared to the Beatles, with whom they did share a definite knack for writing memorable melodies. Anyway, there's plenty of those on this album, which is quite all over the map with its influences. Of course, there's strong popcraft throughout, augmented with jazzy sax and chord changes and even some gospel flourishes here and there. Quietest Moments isn't as pop-friendly as its successors were, several cuts are over six minutes in length, the best being the big magnum opus track "Fool's Overture", essentially a "Fool on the Hill" type statement which incorporates synths and a sampled Winston Churchill speech, and is actually very memorable despite its self-pitying lyric. Other cuts of note include the love-song title track, again melodically strong, the theatrical-sounding "Lover Boy" which kinda comes across as music-hall on Thorazine; "From Now On", with its catchy gospel-choir BVs in the chorus and fadeout; and my favorite cut, ironically the simplest and shortest- "Downstream", a very touching love-n-devotion song with a haunting melody. Groups like Supertramp may be one of the reasons why we got Punk, but they were OK with me. I listened to this album a lot back in '77 and '78, so it remains a sentimental favorite, even though later I got really really tired of hearing "Take The Long Way Home" on the radio.

West Indie-born Armatrading was a husky-voiced singer-songwriter that everybody always thought was one album away from having that ONE HIT single or album which would propel her into superstardom...and while it never happened, she's managed to have a long, steady if not spectacular career which continues to this day. This album was as close as he came to grabbing the brass ring. It was produced (to distraction, some might say) by Steve Lillywhite, fresh off successes with XTC, Big Country, and especially U2, and he did his typical bombastic thing on nearly every cut. The Key is very much a 1983-type record, loaded with synths, syndrums, and agressive reggae-ish beats, and fortunately for Armatrading her songs were strong enough to hold up under the weight of such treatment. There are several tracks i flat out love, like the rockish (if a bit dodgy lyric-wise, in a PC way) "I Love It When You Call Me Names"; the swaying reggae-ish title track- the "key", of course, is to your heart; and a couple of heartfelt ballads ("Everybody Gotta Know", "I Love My Baby") which close each side and are very moving despite the overbearing synth accompaniment. "Drop The Pilot" is another catchy rocker. Adrian Belew guests on several cuts. According to AMG, this one crashed the US Top 40, but I don't think she ever returned. Lillywhite went on to absolutely butcher (in my opinion, a lot of people dig it) Marshall Crenshaw's second album, and produced a handful of subsequent Armatrading releases. I dig this one out occasionally and get taken straight back to '83.

Around 1972, when glam, bubblegum and shock-rock were ascendent, many of the old-school 60's rock stars were seeing the writing on the wall for the hippie dream, and many of them recorded downbeat, depressed records which reflected on their lives and what went wrong. A great example of this is Neil Young's classic On The Beach, and his CSNY compadre Graham Nash followed suit with this, his second solo album, which shares many similarities with Young's album, including many of the same musicians and general sound. Of course, it's nowhere near as good as OTB, but there are several worthy tracks here including the side one opening title cut, which finds Nash in a cranky mood as he confronts someone who keeps complaining to him, set to a "Woodstock"-ish beat. It pretty much sets the feel of the record- Nash is in a bad mood, and almost every cut has a scolding, didactic tone which becomes kinda opressive for a while. He makes George Harrison sound like a happy-go-lucky free spirit sometimes. Misery loves company, I guess. Anyway, some other memorable tracks include the country shuffle "You'll Never Be The Same" which features some nice harmony vocals even as he gives the kiss-off to a former girlfriend, "Grave Concern", another uptempo rocker with that mid-70s Young rhythm section sound and some tasty David Lindley slide guitar; and "And So It Goes", which reminds somewhat of Young songs like "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "L.A." and again, nice harmony vocals- in fact, that's a given throughout the record- say what you want about CSN and the occasional Y- those sumbitches could harmonize. Brilliantly. Beautifully. My favorite cut is the gently loping "Hey You (Looking at the Moon), which has a low-key but engaging melody, nicely sung of course and featuring some wheezy harmonica licks in the mix. One serious negative to this album, though, is the Dylanish "Oh Camil (The Winter Soldier)", which finds scornful Nash taking the high moral ground in judgment over a Vietnam vet. This is simply reprehensible, and while he took some flak over it, he didn't get enough if you ask me. Anyway, Wild Tales, overall, is a strong, and overlooked record, like its predecessor Songs For Beginners. Nash engages and entertains even as he repels with his glumness and hectoring. My love for the early-mid 70s CSNY sound is enough, apparently, for me to overlook the most egregious of subject matter.

Bonnie, having released six good-to-outstanding albums featuring her distinctive blues/country/pop/folk throughout the 70s to almost complete chart indifference, was looking (like Joan Armatrading above) for that ONE BIG HIT which would propel her to the next level. It looked like her cover of Del Shannon's "Runaway" from 1977's Sweet Forgiveness was gonna do it, but it stalled before reaching the upper heights of the charts, so enter Peter Asher, who was experiencing mega success as the producer of both James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, who were both superstars at the time. Hook her up with Bonnie, and the sky's the limit, right? Uh, wrong. The Glow failed on a lot of levels, and a big part of it was Asher's production style, which poured layer after layer of gloss on an artist best left with some rough edges here and there. The record came out and sank without a trace in the post-punk- and-early-new-wave-late 70s. Bonnie, for her part, didn't help much- her originals were uniformly dull, and what spark The Glow has comes from the covers, such as side one opener "I Thank You", the old Sam & Dave hit and the first single, which doubtlessly got overshadowed by ZZ Top's cover of the same song from that same year- a bigger hit, as I recall. Still, it was a rocking track and definite reason for optimism. It's followed by another Hayes/Porter blues song, "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)", and while you'd think it's right in Bonnie's wheelhouse, it's given a plodding treatment and seems two minutes too long. And that remains a problem- there's a tired feeling about just about every song on the record. Tempos are mid-at -best, and each song has a generic sameness about it that makes almost every one of them dull and boring. Not the best way to propel onesself to stardom. There's a Jackson Brown cover, "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate", which is played for dramatics but becomes a snooze (of course, it doesn't help that I'm not a big Browne fan anyway), a woulda-shoulda been fun cover of "Bye Bye Baby", a rocking cut for about a minute and a half but again it goes on too long and doesn't get any more interesting; a dumb reggae-style cover of the great song "The Boy (Girl) Can't Help It", and some primo lounge-schlock on the title cut. Towards the end, it perks up a bit with a cover of Robert Palmer's "You're Gonna Get What's Coming", which was also a single and probably should have been a hit- it's catchy as all get out but overlong; and the album closes with Eric Kaz's "Goin' Wild For You Baby", a tuneful ballad in which Raitt finally sounds as winning as she can, and hearkens back to previous efforts like her excellent 1975 Home Plate. The Glow was a total disaster, in my opinion, and kinda hastened her slide into dire career straits during the 80s. Asher didn't fare much better after this album, either- he was less in demand by the middle of the 80s as Ronstadt went off into other musical directions and Taylor went into semi-retirement. Of course, it took an even slicker approach by producer Don Was to get her that long-awaited and well-deserved stardom via 1989's Nick of Time, but she went through a lot of down periods beforehand. Oddly enough, I saw her in concert on the tour for this album and she delivered a great show, which convinced me that it was Asher what sunk this record.
The winners in the Great Demo Giveaway have been announced.

Go forth and viddy, o my brothers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

My good bud Dave Puckett's done it again. After sticking his toe in the blogpool by creating the one-shot Beatles and Bizarro site, he's now moved on and created a new ongoing blog called Elmo's Junction, and it promises to serve as a forum for his commentary and viewpoints on goodness knows what.

"Elmo" is Elmo Jenkins, a character Dave created years ago which kinda serves the same function as Buddy Bradley for Pete Bagge, or "Joe Matt" does for Joe Matt, or "Harvey Pekar" does for...well, you get the idea. I've been privileged to have been reading his exploits, all written and drawn by Mr. Puck in his idiosyncratic style for a long time now, and they're often very amusing. I wish Dave could collect them all and put them out for general perusal, but you know how those things go...anyway, I don't know if Dave plans to post any of his Elmo strips there, or talk about comics, music or whatever...but I think it will be interesting anyway.

I'll add it to my links list as soon as I can get behind a PC again...
Once again, I've tried on a new template. While I loved the Roman-looking header on the other one, there were lots of other things I didn't like. So I think I'll settle for this one for the time being. Of course, links will be forthcoming.
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DC's just released its August solicitations, of which this sweet Mike Kaluta cover for Lucifer 53 is one. Just for grins, I think I'll go down the list and comment when something occurs to me:

Jeez. Last time it was a 10 cent adventure. Guess rising prices are just a fact of life.

Haven't we outgrown the need for this type of cover art? I mean, how does Supergirl swallow her food with such a narrow waist?

Now this might be actually worth picking up, if one had 50 bucks to drop. I used to read the odd Charlton featuring Captain Atom back in the day, and always liked them. Plus, it's 224 pages of Ditko in his prime! Wonder if Blue Beetle will get the same treatment?

I have less than no interest in this title, but that sure is a swellio Philip Bond Cover. You know, I'd pay good money if DC would publish a comic written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Bond featuring Super-Hip! vs. The Mad Mod...

I loved Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnke & Tom Nguyen's JLA stint, and I'm sure it's gonna be excellently drawn...but the more I read about this the more apprehensive I get. Did someone accidentally retype an old 80s Teen Titans, or maybe more apropos 90's Team Titans description? Either way, it sounds mighty lame.

THE LEGION #37, #38
Oh, to have started with such high expectations, only to fizzle out at the end. Maybe they'll get it right next time. I won't hold my breath.

NO, G*ddammit! LEGION LOST! LEGION LOST!!! Jesus!

This could be kinda fun, but the fun would stop as soon as I realized that I spent 6 bucks for it. Sorry.

Ghod I wish I could afford these...they're really getting into the primo years now. What a great, classic illustration on the cover.

Don't know a damned thing about this, but the cover's nice. Kinda got a chuckle out of the description, especially the reference to the "...startling appearance of men". Women have been dealing with that, especially early in the morning, for centuries now.

Nice to see Pulido back, but oh Lord, who let John Watkiss (cover artist) out of whatever obscurity he's been in for the last ten years? Seems like he was the official Vertigo fill-in artist for about 4 years there, and I've never understood why people liked his sketchy, oddly constructed work and shunned Warren Pleece.

Boy, I'm glad to see this book still on the schedule! Nice cover of Aisha, and I'm looking forward to her spotlight.

If Kaluta wants to crank out about two or three dozen covers for this title, then that's just fine with me! Beautiful.

WE3 #1
Another bizarro Morrison/Quitely opus with an eye-catching cover. If I worked at the press where they printed this book, I'd snag about a couple of dozen sigs of that cover and staple them to telephone poles all over town, just to fuck with people.

WHY I HATE SATURN TP -- New Printing
If you haven't read this, in which Kyle Baker made his first big impression, then you should. It's a lot of fun. And best of all, Baker didn't color it!

Yeah, lots of comments, mostly about the covers...understandable, I hope, since that's all they show.
Found this while clicking around the other day: Bill Mudron's Pan.
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Sad to read about the death of actor Tony Randall, who of course is best known as Felix Unger on TV's The Odd Couple, but is also best known to me at that ancient Chinese hoodoo man in one of my favorite films, 1964's 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.

I don't think Randall was very proud of that film, but he gave a hell of a performance...

Monday, May 17, 2004

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Just a quick look at some of the odds 'n' ends, book-wise that is, that I've picked up over the last several weeks.

Am I the only one that thinks of yo-yos when I scan the title of this collection? Duncan Imperial? get it? Anyway, I'm sure that there has been tons and tons of cogent commentary devoted to all of Grant Morrison's X-Men stories, and I don't know how much new I can add to it- but I'm gonna give it a shot anyway. Not being an X-fan, I didn't exactly make it a priority to be on board when Grant went from DC to Marvel and started scripting this book; he had just finished up Invisibles, which I liked more in concept than in actual execution, and was not enthused about his taking over characters that I frankly had less than no interest in. So, I didn't buy New X-Men, nor its sister in X-pectation defying, Milligan & Allred's X-Force. Still, my admiration for these creators won out and I decided to do a comparison test, and then buy the winner on a regular basis, and I bought the first trades of both NX-M and X-F, gave them a good reading, and while I was surprised to find myself enjoying them both, I liked Milligan & Allred's anything-goes XF just a wee bit more so that's the one I went with. I figured that I'd perhaps try Morrison's X book again down the road, and that time was now. It pretty much continues what he started in the first trade, with Xavier's sinister twin sister, Emma Frost and the weird students at Xavier's school, the Disneyesque Beast, Lilandra and all those aliens, pretty much everything that's been done with the X-Men since Byrne and Claremont had their day in the sun...but you know with Morrison it won't be that simple. That being said, this is as close to a mainstream superhero adventure as I've ever read from Grant; he doesn't really deviate too much from the roles each of these characters have filled since the early 80s. What he does do, though, is avoid the dreary, hamfisted melodrama which caused me to stop buying so long ago and kept me away from originated and perfected by Claremont but faithfully carried on by his many acolytes and successors through the years. Morrison's having none of that- sure, there's drama, but it's understated drama and never slides into the bathetic indulgences that have been the hallmark of the X-books for so long. And the action in the first two trades glides along at a breakneck pace...we go from corporate evil to alien invasion to another scuffle with Cassandra Nova and there's barely a minute to blink between cataclysms. If I've gotta read superheroes, then for God's sake let them be like this- lean, taut, and significantly low in bullshit. The art in the second trade is a bit of a distraction, because at least in the first one we had mostly Frank Quitely, but due to reasons beyond the ken of mortal men needed fill-ins for many of the subsequent issues and the styles clash a little. Quitely has that widescreen-epic-yet-calm-cool-and-passive stylistic thing going on, with all his puffy-looking characters- but still somehow extremely imaginative and compelling; Igor Kordey's style is a lot looser, more sloppily inked, and to be honest I like his work a lot (especially on the Black Widow mini of a few years ago)...but coming before or after Quitely's prim style it's a bit of an adjustment. Ethan Van Sciver falls somewhere in between- you can tell people like Perez and Bolland were influences, and he reminds me a lot of other Morrison collaborators like Phil Jiminez and Chris Weston...just a wee bit stiff and posed, but still more than adequate and (to me) another mental adjustment. So while Morrison's New X-Men will probably never rank very high on my all-time favorite comics series list, these are compelling and enjoyable stories. I think I'll pick up at least the next couple of trades sooner or later.

I had originally intended to buy this when it came out; in fact I had gotten it in my holds stack because at the time I was still a big Kyle Baker fan. But I took one look at this, with its absolutely brutal coloring and less-than-exciting (not exactly a real religious person here) subject matter, and decided that I didn't want to spend the 20 bucks for the privilege (and I still got a 20% discount back then!) of owning it, so I put it back. Two years later, however, I came across it in a 75% off box (probably my long-ago holds copy!) and said, sure- what the hell, I'll buy it for more or less five bucks! And you know what? I'm glad I did. Yes, the coloring is still nauseating (I wish Baker would rethink his color palette choices- he makes Lee Loughridge look like a master), but the script is witty (even if it meanders a LOT) and Baker's art is- once you look past the garish magentas and teals and mottled browns and purples- very, very good. Baker essentially adapts the story of David straight from the bible, beginning with his childhood in King Saul's palace and ending in stragely abrupt fashion with David as an adult, post-Bathsheba and aware of God's displeasure with his recent actions. Then bang. The end. What the f-? Was Baker perhaps anticipating a part two? Either way, I suppose we'll never know. But if you run across a copy of this somewhere for five, or heck-even ten bucks somewhere, pick it up. I thought it was a hoot and well worth what I gave for it. It's the closest thing to Marshall Efron's Painless, Simplified, and Illustrated Sunday School that I've ever encountered. And if you remember that mid-to-late 70s Sunday morning show, which aired at something like 5 or 6 am, then you know what I mean.

I've got more, but it will have to be later. Stay tuned- same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
Here's what I'm gonna get on Wednesday according to the Diamond shipping list:


And that's it, with the finale of Courtney Crumrin and the big 50th issue of Lucifer causing me to tremble in...

...anticipation. Seaguy looks like fun, based on the preview, and Daredevil is always solid when Bendis is scripting. I had a talk with the guy who manages my comics shop about making sure I get some of these less prominent titles I want, like Love Fights, Scurvy Dogs (should be here this week or next), and most notably this week's Demo. I made it a point to let them know I was expecting to find #6 in my stack- we'll see, I guess.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

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What I bought and what I thought, week of May 12!

Bill Willingham certainly seems to have more affinity for epic adventure a la his Fables: Last Castle one-shot rather than the Fractured Fairy Tales of several other one-or-two-other issue stories in this usually always enjoyable series. The one constant gripe I've had is the inconsistent and often awkward-looking pencil art of Mark Buckingham, but much to my surprise he has risen to the occasion, turning in an outstanding job, especially in his clever layouts. You can feel the tension rising among the good people of Fabletown as they prepare for the big conflict with The Adversary, which we're being set up to think is Geppetto, and just might be...but my money's on the Blue Fairy. This issue is another successful chapter of the best arc in this series yet. Keep your fingers crossed...A

More angst amongst our beleaguered group of zombie apocalypse survivors, as they deal with the aftermath of the climactic events of last issue and we also get some interesting new additions to the cast. Also new is artist Charlie Adlard, with whom I'm quite familar now, thankyouverymuch. For my money, he's done his best art job yet, turning in an effort which reminds me somewhat of Walt Simonson here and there, and some of the better 70-s-80's Warren Filipino artists in others. This helps ease the sting of losing Tony Moore and ensures many more issues of the best zombie soap opera in recent memory. As long as sales hold out, that is. A-

Ah, nice to have ya back, Ed. Rucka's OK, but Brubaker shines on this book and makes it that much more worth reading. We get a handy recap of Brubaker's last stint, accompanied by a "...previously on Gotham Central..." that I defy you to read and not hear a TV announcer's voice intoning the words, plus the beginning of a story which begins with a hostage situation in a bank that ends tragically, then works in a recently-absentee member of the Bat-cast, then gives us a clue to what's really going on with the hostage taker which promises to be interesting even if it is kinda reminiscent of a storyline from the Rucka/Martinbrough Detective run of a few years ago, ironically enough. It's also wonderful to have Mike Lark back- I missed him more than I did Ed. A-

H-E-R-O 16
After a few months of scuffling along, this title has been re-energized with the return of Robby Reed and # 1-4's lead Jerry Feldon, who are both sporting residual abilities from their previous exposure to the H-E-R-O dial and are apparently on track to mix it up with its current psychopathic possessor. Writer Wil Pfiefer certainly seems re-energized, anyway, since there's been more wit and drama in the two previous issues than in the last four or five put together. I still miss original artist Kano, but this Dale Eaglesham chap, while occasionally stiff and a little too slickly inked, is more than good enough. We also get one of the more imaginative and grisly murders I remember seeing in mainstream comics, even though we don't see a drop of blood. The Spectre, or perhaps Dr. Phibes, would be proud. A-

This book's greatest strength is also its greatest failing- it's a typically witty Chaykinish romp, as filtered through writer David Tischman- who by now has aping the master down to a tee. The problem, however, is that it's a typically witty Chaykinish romp- and we've read this a thousand times already, right down to the snarky quips, cynical attitude, and irreverence towards religious figures and mainstream morality. Still, the Vampire Mafioso concept hasn't exactly been done to death yet (even though it's been used as recently as Alan Moore's sorely missed Top 10), and I'm enjoying it like I would a McDonald's hamburger- I know I could be doing better, but hey, it tastes good anyway. Even more mystifying is how well David Hahn's cutesy, prissy art style works in the context of what he's being asked to illustrate; it's more Trina Robbins-ish or Dan DeCarlo-like than you think the ideal approach for this subject matter should be...but somehow it works just the same. Here's hoping that this comic continues to defy all the dictates of logic for at least four more issues. B+

Well, you see, I met this woman at the comics shop and she suggested I buy this...and suddenly, I couldn't help myself! I was also feeling the strange urge to buy a gun and open fire in a crowded store, but I managed to fight that one off. All seriousness aside, this was an impulse purchase based on the fact that this seems to be Marvel's answer to Powers and Gotham Central, and I like both of those books, so what the hell, thought I. A bit more mature in tone than I was expecting from Marvel at this particular point in time, and nicely drawn, but I don't really feel the characters like I do in the aforementioned competitor's cop books, and that becomes a liability. It picked up a bit after the opening park scene, though, and this Bishop character looks interesting (yes, I know that he's been in X-Books forever, but remember, I went from '84 till 2000 without buying any X-titles on a regular basis so I don't really have a clue what he's all about) so this might be a title worth keeping an eye on. B

Almost not not-bad little noirish tale with the clever twist that the narrator isn't a hard-boiled private dick- he just dresses like one. He encounters a suicidal young lady in the bar where he likes to unwind after work, and complications, as they end to do in these sort of tales, ensue. I thought writer Chris Gumprich did a fine job of maintaining the Hammett/Spillaneish tone, providing the sort of dialogue and narration we expect, but not going overboard with the cliches like many people who attempt this sort of thing do. He's undercut a lot, though, by artist Dwight Williams, whose art is, sadly, just not professional enough to get the most out of Gumprich's scripting. It's not that he's without talent- his layouts and compositins within panels looked pretty good, but he just can't draw people convincingly right now. His art here kinda reminds me a lot of the fanzine art I used to see of illustrators who are doing, or have done, amazing things eventually, so I strongly encourage him to practice, practice, practice. I don't know how old these guys are, but I'm sure there's time for improvement, especially in Willams' case...and Gumprich might be ready now. C+