Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Go here for "Letters From the Bottom of the Sea", a new collaboration between Hope Larson and someone new to me, Lucy Knisley. Fascinating stuff, and Larson is fast becoming one of my favorite artists.

Coming sooner rather than later, more Mixed Bag reviews, so I can move on to the second round!
If you, like me, have been wondering when and if Guy Ritchie was ever going to get to make another film without his missus, then wait no more- here's the official website for Revolver, complete with trailer...!

As films named after Beatles songs go, it promises to be better than Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Rumor has it that he had some scenes with Madonna in it, but cut them because distributors wouldn't touch it with her! Jason Stratham and Ray Liotta star.

Here's some more good news- is it possible that some new Futurama direct-to-video films are in the offing? Here's a report from one Scott Weinberg, who wrote an entry on Rotten Tomatoes.com that got my attention. Fingers crossed!
A look into my immediate comics buying future, courtesy the just-posted Diamond shipping list:


Light week for me, with only the Seven Soldiers really piquing my interest. In fact, I could buy that one and maybe the finale to the disappointing Concrete series and be quite content. But hey, I'd miss Jeff Parker's backup story in Detective, and more jungle cheesecake in Shanna!

And those of you jonesing for superheroics could do worse than to check out FIRESTORM #14, like I said the other day.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us



or, what I bought and what I thought, week of May 25!

An embarrassment of riches this week!

Don't see how it could have ended any other way. At the beginning, and I'm talking Season One, I was a bit offput by the murkiness of the color and art and the glumness of Ed Brubaker's script. But even then I could tell that this story had that certain je'nais se something, and my perseverance was rewarded as the twists and turns piled up, creating a glorious sort of disorientation, anchored only by Sean Phillips' solidly down-to-earth art. Well, it's all over now, never to return thanks to reader disregard, and even as I am happy that I was able to experience this from the beginning, I'm sad for those who couldn't be bothered for God knows what reason- and even sadder because apparently there were more of them than us. Just you wait and see- a decade or two down the road, this will be hailed as an overlooked and influential classic, back issues will be Flex Mentallo scarce, and all of you standing there clutching your House of Ms and Identity Crisises will be sorry. In a perfect world, that is. A

The ongoing saga of California Guy Tom Beland and his long-distance courtship of Puerto Rican Lily, complicated by Hurricane Georges and his decision to move to the Isle of Enchantment to be by her side- which causes much consternation among his family. Every time Beland threatens to get all sappy on us, he steps back from the edge by virtue of his whole-hearted wit and his graceful, expressive cartooning style, the line of which reminds me quite a bit of Al Hirschfeld, not to mention a generous dollop of self-depreciation, but not self-hate, and that is a huge positive. Especially well-done was his depiction of his relationship with his younger brother, which climaxes here with a newspaper-enabled trip to a 49ers game, in which younger Bro gets to join the photographers on the field, lucky stiff, and the look into his routine at the newspaper where he worked (which is somewhat similar to my own small-town paper experience- hope he got paid more) and the friendships- some close, some adversarial- he had there. I was a little at a loss at first, not having read the first collection or any of the singles (I have read the strip collection, 100 Stories, so I wasn't all that lost), and I hope that if he decides to draw any more football games, he practices a bit first...his NFLers were not so graceful. I'm sure that there are lots of people out there who have had as interesting a life as Beland seems to have had, but luckily for us, he has the ability to recount it for us in entertaining fashion. Docked a notch for being a 49ers fan- I truly hate the 'Niners. A

Stuck on a freighter full of nuclear ordinance, our guys figure out Max's plan even as former ally-turned-enemy Roque uses a familiar gimmick, from way back at the very beginning, to try and get away. And that's your plot summary. Of course, complications ensue, and although we get good, as marksman Cougar gets his "yes!" moment, we then get bad, as one of the most clever and likeable characters seems to get beaten to a bloody pulp and shot dead. One of the best things about The Losers is how Andy Diggle can take a script in which, really, nothing much happens...no changes of locale, no explosions, no revelations...and still make it intense and gripping, giving us gallows chuckles at the same time we get fast-paced action. And continuing his stellar work is artist Jock, who's really coming into his own right before our eyes. Well, before our eyes if you're one of the few and the proud who are prescient enough to be picking this up, anyway. A

100 BULLETS 61
The random characters continue to congregate and orbit one another in Miami, and the consequences are still yet to be revealed. I'm happy Mr. Branch survived his encounter last issue, and I'm beginning to get a kick out of Azzurello and Risso's Mickey Rourke-in-Once Upon a Time in Mexico character, with his bandana, bad skin, tats and chihuahua. Lively enough already, and Lono and Loop Hughes haven't even arrived yet. This is NOT a "good jumping-on point" for new readers, but for those of us who have remained faithful, it's getting better all the time. A

Hank Pym, the disgraced former Giant-Man, gets involved with a group of sad sacks that makes the Great Lakes Avengers look like the JLA...ladies and gentlemen, give it up for your ULTIMATE DEFENDERS! If I was inclined to be offended at this clear-eyed revisionism, I suppose I'd be in a snit- after all, some favorite characters are really held up for ridicule in their re-imagined forms here, but it's all done with style, so I don't mind at all. In fact, this "Ultimate" Son of Satan has the funniest line in the whole book. The lighter tone is welcome, no doubt, but we still get some interesting dramatics with the increasingly disfunctional Captain America/Janet Pym relationship subplot, storm clouds on the horizon as we meet the Ultimate Ultron, as well as our first look at the "traitor" in the ranks. My money's on Tony Stark, but you never know. A

Well, you never know, do you? After five issues which neither blew me away nor repulsed me all that much either, for the first time I put down a copy of LSH and said "Holy crap...I LIKED this one!" Good thing, too, because if I had been as underwhelmed by this as I was the previous five, it was dropped. What's the difference this time, you ask? Hard to say, says I...relationships and events were clearer, dramatics more deeply felt, humor worked better- in short, a total turnaround from the murkiness previously given us. A feeling of understanding and getting somewhere, perhaps. Nice to see the introduction of a non-reptilian Princess Projectra- better a Paris Hilton type than a snake, I suppose, and there's room for character growth there instead of the silliness of the previous incarnation. I also got a kick out of seeing Cos bribe a guard with an issue of Mystery in Space featuring JBS favorite Ultra the Multi-Alien. This comics reverence smacks of contrivance and nerdy in-joking, and it has annoyed me in the past, but it went down easier here. Only the still-stiff Kitson art keeps this from A status, but as is it gets an A- and a sincere wish that this builds from here.

Constantine continues his journey to Hell, former adversary/reluctant ally Nergal providing backup, to get back the soul of his sister- who died due to the machinations of his demon-sired offspring. Along the way, we meet an old plot twist from the Paul Jenkins run. Not bad, but not too good, either- there's just a wan, uninspired feel to this which makes it feel longer than it has been so far. Wish I could be more enthusiastic, like I was last issue. B+

Touch of Evil-inspired goings-on in Mexico involving a mysterious fugitive, the CIA agents who seek him, and the senors and senoritas that they get mixed up with, with bloody consequences. I'm tellin' ya, after reading this, The Losers, 100 Bullets, and Sleeper Season Two back-to-back-to-back I felt like I needed a cigarette and a stiff shot of something potent. Clay Moore does a fine job channeling the hard-boiled noirish stuff, and Jason Latour's work, while sloppy, has a lot of energy. Es muy bueno, so far. B+

This isn't bad, and is quite amusing in places, but it just reads too much like Chaykin on autopilot for me to be more enthusiastic about it. Of course, his art is as idiosyncratic and solid as ever, and that helps, but there are just too many echoes of tunes already played, and played more skillfully, in the past. Still, you can't deny that he still has the chops, so even as he disappoints with familiarity he wins me over with his craftsmanship. B

Thursday, May 26, 2005

In a concerted effort to get through them all before I mail out the disc for round two of Lefty's Mixed Bag CD Project, here are some more reviews of round 1 discs, ranked on a re-listenability scale from "not a chance", "moderately low", "moderately high", "high" to "most definitely".


I sometimes imagine the vibe over at Ralph's Comics Corner is like The Marx Brothers at the Comics Shop (You remember that one, don't you?), and both Mike and Dorian's contributions certainly don't do anything to dispel that notion, as you'll see.

Highlights: This is a tough call, because I was totally unfamiliar with about 80% of the musicians featured. Best of show here, I guess, is the Curtis Mayfield/Fishbone collaboration "He's A Flyguy". The 'Bone had arguably their greatest success with another Mayfield cover, so it stands to reason that they would have hooked up eventually...but I didn't know anything about it. Where did this come from, Mike? Ookla the Mok's "LA (La La Land) is a nice poppy confection with good harmonies. Thundarr would be proud. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes do a great cover of "Science Fiction Double Feature" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show; I did a little Googling on MFatGG's, and it turns out that that's their schtick: they do punky covers of oddball tunes. "She Likes Girls" is a clever, folky ditty by Celtic Elvis. Someone or something named LMP is represented with a cover of "By the Light of the Silvery Moon", an old standard which I remember from all those old Warner Bros. cartoons I watched as a kid. Disintegrated Einstein's "Never Mind the Mollusk" was a catchy Cake/TMBG-like popsong, same for Honest Bob and the factory Dealer Incentives' "Organism". "Shiver Me Timbers" by Victor Banana should be the theme song for the Scurvy Dogs TV series. I got a chuckle out of the opener, Bluto Blutarsky's big speech from Animal House, and the disc finishes with a priceless voice track (from an old MMMS recording, right?) of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and many of the other classic Marvel Bullpenners. Fun and nostalgic, and I'm glad I have it. All the movie/TV sound clips are great- Charles Nelson Reilly, from Lidsville is another one I got a kick out of. I love a lot of these bands' names: The Deadly Nightshade Family Singers, for example.

Subjects for Further Research: I wouldn't mind hearing more Disintegrated Einstein, Celtic Elvis and Ookla the Mok.

No Harm No Foul: Almost everything. There's a lot of goofy uptempo Indie Ramones/Clash/Ska/Jonathan Richman/TMBG-style stuff here that goes in one ear and out the other. It's not bad, but it just doesn't call me back for seconds.

The Rest: I didn't like "99 Red Balloons" by Nena back in the day; 7 Seconds don't improve it.

Replayability: Moderately Low. I'm not saying I didn't like this one, and I'm sure I'll pop it in once in a while to hear the MMMS thing or the Mayfield/Fishbone track. But I can't see me listening to it over and over again 'cause the whole thing's just so aggressively odd, even though there's a wide variety of material. Ya never know, though.


Highlights: Starts strong with Lady Goldfinger herself, Shirley Bassey, and a remixed version of "Hey Big Spender". A band I've been curious about for some time now, the Polyphonic Spree, is next- and somehow I think I wanted to hear something besides a cover of a song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Still, they do a fine job. I haven't heard all that much, but y'know, I've yet to hear anything by Robbie Williams that I didn't like, and "Supreme", with it's "I Will Survive" string arrangement, is no exception. Eartha Kitt's "I Want to Be Evil" was pretty cool. Just what I need- another 50's-60's singer to get interested in.

Subjects for Further Research: Emilie Simon's "Flowers" is cutesy but tuneful, and I'd like to hear more. I'm way overdue investigating Phil Ochs; I have friends who are fans, and they've offered to loan me stuff, so I'll take them up on that one of these days. I keep meaning to pick up Franz Ferdinand's debut CD- "Michael" is a strong cut.

No Harm No Foul: The Avenue Q cut was kinda funny, and I did get a chuckle or two- even though, like all the "Batman is a pedophile" jokes, the humor at Bert and Ernie's expense is a little tired. Magnetic Fields is another group I've been reading about for years but haven't heard all that much from- "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" was a little too Depeche Mode-ish for my tastes though. Dolly Parton's "Jolene" is a certified classic, but I've always been hot-and-cold on Dolly's recorded output and that's the case with this song. Kudos for putting it after Williams, though! I've been real curious about the Scissor Sisters- I've heard a lot of people comparing them to people like Roxy Music and Bowie and so on, but this was kinda uninspired-sounding synth-pop. The jury's still out on them, though, as far as I'm concerned. Never heard of Jeffrey Altergott, but "Runt" was pretty good. The hidden track, a German version of "Rubber Duckie", was...odd. Funny the first time, too.

The Rest: Apparent Ralph's Comics Corner house band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes turn up here as well with "Cabaret", and it's a fine and faithful but not terribly exciting cover. The Peter & Gordon selection was a great idea, but the song suffers from a murky, low-fi mix and didn't really make much of an impression on me. Hidden Cameras' "Doot Doot Plot" was kinda catchy at first, but that "Doot Doot..." chorus got real old real fast. I kinda liked the film Phantom of the Paradise, but it wasn't for the songs, and Paul Williams' "Phantom's Theme" is a good example of why. Nina Simone (Bridget Fonda's character's favorite in Point of No Return, which I watched for a while the other night) turns in a theatrical, but kinda dull rendition of "Pirate Jenny", which I've heard under the title of "The Black Freighter" somewhere. I've been a little curious about Simone, so I think I'll keep looking. A disco-synth-funk tune by somebody named Johnny McGovern named "Soccer Practice" and a showtune by Harvey Fierstein round out the disc, and they're not terrible but not particularly compelling either.

Replayability: Moderately Low. Good variety, and some fun stuff. I'll probably go back and listen to the Williams, Ochs, and Kitt tracks, I know. And "Rubber Duckie", when i want to freak people out.


Nicked from Couscous Express writer Brian Wood, says Larry, so he's to blame as well. Larry was nice enough to include a copy of the GN so we could get the total Couriers interactive experience. Gracias, Mr. Young, but now I have an extra copy to pass along...Couscous Express was, incidentally, my favorite of the Couriers books so far. Couldn't help but be reminded of the soundtracks to the Guy Ritchie films, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. as I listened- lots of ska, reggae, punk and funk. And not really being a fan of ska, punk or reggae per se, that caused me a little problem.

Highlights: First thing that grabbed me, sorry to say, was the smooth old Bill Withers soul song, "Lovely Day", about four tracks in. Nice tune, and one you don't hear a lot on oldies radio stations. Even though I generally don't dig the Offspring (a fella I used to work with drove me nuts trying to get me to listen to them), the cut here, "She's Got Issues", rocks agreeably and works pretty well for both Special and Olive.

Subjects for Further Research: The Desmond Dekker reggae cuts "Pickney Gal" and "What Wil You Gain" were tuneful, reminding me a little of David Lindley & El-Rayo-X. Fat Hooligan's "Skinhead Girl" had me dancing around for about a minute and a half, then I got tired. Where's my Geritol?

The Rest: The Gang Starr and Grand Theft Auto instrumentals were interesting, but I doubt in Gang Starr's case that it's typical of his/their normal output. DJ Rob Swift's loping "Modern Day Music" wasn't bad, either. Everything else, well, again, I just don't dig a lot of punk, ska, reggae or rap. Which doesn't mean that I don't have cuts in all those genres that I like- please don't misunderstand me- but much of this kinda went in one ear and out the other, or triggered the ol' instinctive "skip" reflex.

Replayability- Moderately Low. Just can't see me coming back to this one all that much, but I might get in a mood. I'm so g-damned unhip.

More later, when I can get to them...
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Apparently the Rann vs. Thanagar conflict has spilled over from the four color world into the Comics Blogospeheriverse...and people are choosing up sides. The time for sitting on the fence is rapidly coming to a close, and so it is incumbent upon me to choose. Which I shall now do.

By nature, I am a peace-loving, live-and-let-live kinda guy, and hate aggression and war. So it may come as a bit of a surprise that I have decided to back the arrogant, war-mongering, imperialistic Thanagarians, who gave us Byth and the Equalization Plague.

Two things swayed my decision: first, when I was a kid (and actually, years later when I was in my 20's) I had a whole bunch of Hawkman comics, and virtually no Mystery in Spaces featuring Adam Strange. Second, Hawkgirl (especially in her rock-hard abs Kendra version) is a lot sexier than Alanna. I'm a pig, I know.

So, God help me, I cast my lot with the Hawks. I'll have to live forever with the consequences of my actions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Busy busy busy right now, but I wanted to point you to a couple of great things I've seen lately. First, a Comics Journal message board thread which features a ton of great Harvey Kurtzman art, including a illustrated story done for Esquire magazine which describes his meeting with James Cagney as he filmed a movie in Ireland. It's abso-fricking-lutely hilarious. Found via Wil Pfiefer. I would have commented on the thread itself, but I seem to have forgotten my TCJMB password.

Also, via Mark Evanier: They're giving Official JBS mascot Super-Hip! co-creator Arnold Drake the Finger!

In semi-related news, I won a copy of Adventures of Bob Hope #101 on eBay yesterday.

There. This oughtta hold you until I can post something of substance.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The cover to DC's February-March 1968 issue of Swing With Scooter, #11, which features artwork by the late Joe Orlando. Now this is noteworthy to me because what we've got here are a very sexy good-girl rendition of a ski bunny redhead, and as a married 40-something heterosexual male with two kids and therefore secure enough in my sexuality to tell you that Scooter there in the mid-ground doesn't look too bad, either- and Joe Orlando, while a legend in the field and someone whose acheivements I acknowledge and respect, has never struck me as the type of artist that could be counted on to illustrate sexy women and/or men on a consistent basis.

So, I give you exhibit A: Joe Orlando could draw the babes!

Scooter was an odd book anyway, born during DC's infamous Go-Go Checks period (which of course, fascinates me no end) out of DC's fierce yen to appeal to the turned-on hippies and teens that Marvel was appealing to at the time...but it was real difficult for the old-school WWII-era creators to wrap their heads around that zeitgeist, and most of what the company put out is proof. But as I recall, this series (which I think I actually used to have a couple of issues of when I was seven years old) was kinda fun in that Adventures of Bob Hope featuring Super-Hip! way. This was the last cover which reflected the wannabe-mod vibe, the very next issue's cover, and the next seven issues after that, were drawn Archie style, to compete with the popularity of that comics company's books and its TV show as well.

This first caught my eye as I read through Orlando's section in the enjoyable new Harper/Collins EC Comics retrospective, Foul Play! The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics! by Grant Geissman! Sorry! Getting carried away with the exclamation points!

Anyway, like the recent True Story, Swear To God TPB, I'll be slapping together some paragraphs about it soon, and not in a place where you might expect! Aagh! There I go again with the fershlugginer exclamation points!!
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThanks to Hisham Zubi over at The Great Curve, I have discovered that author Michael Chabon and I had something in common growing up: we both had a thing for Mrs. Miracle, Big Barda. This I know because Chabon wrote a great essay about it recently, which can be read here. At left is Mrs. Barda Free as lovingly rendered by her creator, the one and only Jack Kirby, in an early issue of Mr. Miracle. Also, below are two thumbnails of renderings of Barda by Craig Rousseau, which I've liked ever since I first laid eyes on them but haven't had a reason to post them for you until now.

Click on the thumbs to see them full size. You should all know the drill by now.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Diamond shipping list powers activate! Form of...what I'll have in my holds folder on Wednesday, with any luck...

100 BULLETS #61

Whew! Another healthy stack awaits. Happy/sad: The Sleeper Season Two finale. Also looking forward to The Losers, City of Tomorrow, and Ultimates 2. I'm also thinking this will be The Legion of Super-Heroes' last chance to impress me.

I also highly recommend that you pick up the


I've got a copy already and it's good. Real good. I'll be writing about it soon, both here...and maybe, just maybe, somewhere else. More on that later.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


Or, what I bought and what I thought, week of May 18

In my opinion, one of the high points of the 80's bwah-ha-ha Justice League was the story arc which had magenta-hued homicidal alien Despero returning to take revenge on the Justice League Detroit, and killed a couple of them including Gypsy's parents, and became involved in a knock-down drag-out with the League, especially the paternal-towards-Gypsy and hell-bent-to-defend-her J'onn J'onzz. Refreshingly serious, grim even in places, with sharp characterization and some humor in the appropriate place, it was a welcome relief from the constant slapstick that had come before. This was the first issue in this updated League revival that gave me the same vibe, if you'll excuse the pun, as that long-ago arc. Quite possibly the best use of Guy Gardner ever- he actually gets to act like less of a shitheel this time out. There's still the requisite amount of bwah, but we finally got some gravity and that made a big difference. And for once, I didn't think of Dibnys and Kords, but just went with the flow. Good job. A

Effective and creepy change-of-pace story which reminded me more of an old Warren Archie Goodwin-penned tale than anything, and the second winner in a row from the group therapy arc. The sudden shift from the previous superhero-urban-thriller emphasis to this supernatural mystery on should be jarring, but Bendis pulls it off nicely by maintaining the same low-key approach. Alex Maleev does a great job of depicting the proceedings- boy, wouldn't he have fit in really well on those old Creepys and Eeries? And anybody wanna bet on who the guy with the baseball cap that never shows his face and hangs around in the background really is? A

Mike Carey goes back and gives us an fill-in interlude with some characters that haven't been seen in quite some time, including the mismatched (one's Paki, the other is a reformed Aryan Youth) gay couple from way back in issues 1-4. Lots of people are being manipulated in Machiavellian ways here on Earth by the Angelic judge, jury and executioner Solomon, and these and others get mixed up in a particularly labrynthine scheme that has an unexpected resolution. Not bad at all. Art is by Colleen (Orbiter) Doran, who illustrates in what I think is a rough-hewn, atypical style for her- I remember her work as being a lot more refined and static. Interesting stylistic shift. Much to like here for a fill-in. A-

This was fine in and of itself, but Grant seems so eager to stitch in connections to the other Seven Soldiers storylines that the main character becomes almost secondary and the seams show. I'm always dubious about action thrillers in which people get dragged at high speeds from vehicles and survive relatively unscathed- I know the MG was wearing body armor, but still- how did he avoid touching the third rail while he was careening along behind, especially after his chain got cut? All right, I'm nitpicking. The action was fast-paced, the Subway Pirates were typically clever Morrison concoctions although I wish their dialogue had been a bit more colorful and less clumsy, the connection to the Klarion series was interesting, and even though the ending didn't make a whole lot of sense except to drive home the "urban legend" flavor, I could still roll with this, even though I was disappointed. B+

A while ago I complained because these nanotechnical operatives seemed to make everything too easy, so it was unsurprising that here in the 4th chapter out of 6, something goes bad. One problem I have is that it's pretty well established that none of these "mechas", with the exception of newbie Stem Cell, feels any significant emotions, and are efficiently replaceable when one gets killed, which causes a "Well, if that's the case, then why should I care about what happens to them?" reaction from your humble scribe. One thing that's revealed this time out is that the mechas have to perform alterations on their programming in order to suppress their emotions, and that's fine as far as it goes, but it's not necessarily the best recipe for reader involvement and identification. Still, there are great concepts, dialogue, and ideas to spare from Warren, Rick Mays does a nice job on art (especially in the rogue heli-carrier scenes), and while this isn't A-level stuff it still gets a solid B+ from me.

Contrived and awkward as hell, this read better than issue 1 but not by much. The deja vu continues as we get what surely must be the one millionth "Batman-hallucinates-and-sees-his-rogues-gallery-thanks-to-Scarecrow" scene to come along, and while I don't mean to bash Englehart, who I've always thought was a talented writer, he's just spinning his wheels here and despite briefly coming to life when Bruce Wayne and Silver St. Cloud (predictably) get a covert shag in the Batcave, this is just depressing, no less so thanks to the stodgy, clumsy art of Rogers and Austin. C+

Friday, May 20, 2005

Time now for the first in a series of REVIEWS OF MIXED BAG CD's!

Chris "Lefty" Brown got something started recently- a group blogger project in which we all created a mix CD and sent one to each person on the list. I now have all the participant's CD's, have listened to them all at least once through, and I'm past due opining on them. Rather than go in depth, I'll do short takes to save time, and I'll try to do at least three at a time. I'll also rank them at the end on a re-listenability scale, from "not a chance", "moderately low", "moderately high", "high" to "most definitely".


Highlights: "My Old School"- Steely Dan, a bit overplayed on classic rock radio stations but still a great track with two, count 'em, two excellent stuttering guitar solos; Cracker's laconic country-rock "Eurotrash Girl", track no. 69 from the Kerosene Hat album and one of the better cuts from that hit-and-miss Camper Van Beethoven spinoff group; Warren Zevon's "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner", the b-side to "Werewolves of London" and while it's not really one of my favorite WZ songs it's a good one nonetheless; an alternate take on David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust Marc Bolan tribute "Lady Stardust" which doesn't improve on the original but is interesting just the same, and "Fight Test", the lead track from the Flaming Lips' Yoshimi album, which features a shiver-inducing (well, it makes me shiver a little, anyway) instrumental break about 2:50 in.

Subjects for Further Research: Darling Violetta, whose "Anastasia Says" evokes a strong Mazzy Star/Cowboy Junkies/Patti Smith/Velvet Underground feel, and Jack Ingram, who sounds like Joe Ely's long-lost cousin.

No Harm, No Foul: Kasey Chambers' "The Captain"- I picked up on Chambers a few years ago, after seeing her on some music show of some sort, and was disappointed by the slick, bland production sound of her music, which kept me from looking any further. She's not terrible, but not especially memorable either; Tori Amos' "Past The Mission"- I don't hate Tori, really I don't, but I rarely hear anything out of her than Kate Bush didn't do better in the 80's; Heather Nova's "Virus of the Mind" wasn't too bad- sounded like she'd been practicing her Ani DiFranco/Alanis Morrisette moves; and Alison Krauss' "When You Say Nothing At All" is a song I'm very familiar with...it's a favorite of my daughter, who often sings it at weddings and listened to it over and over and OVER again to learn it. It's a lovely song, but I have no real desire to hear it anymore. Bruce Robison's "Angry All The Time" has that modern country sound but was at least tuneful, I've always liked Manfred Mann's Dylan cover "The Mighty Quinn" although he did better later on (both Mann and Dylan), and Carbon Leaf's "The Boxer" (not the Simon & Garfunkel song) had a definite Pogues vibe to it, although with all the sharp edges sanded off in the studio.

The rest: I just don't dig mainstream country at all, (even though I work part-time at a radio station which plays it- fortunately it's mostly pre-records and I rarely actually hear the music I'm announcing) with its singing hats and country divas and its too-slick production, completely designed for maximum crossover appeal and pandering to all the wannabe snuff-dipping good ol'boys and trailer trash Walmart moms of the world. We get two examples of this here and that's fine, but they just aren't my cuppa joe.

Re-listenability: Moderately low. The songs I liked the most I already own, and there weren't many unfamiliar cuts that compelled me to come back. Still, I liked this one just fine and I'm looking forward to the next prescription from the good Doctor.

TOM THE DOG'S "YOU'LL PLAY IT AND YOU'LL LIKE IT, vol.1" (Oh yeah? I kid, Tom.)

Highlights: Several: a nice, rocking cover of the MC5's "Kick Out The Jams" by the Presidents of the U.S. of A.-whatever happened to those guys, anyway?; "I Don't Want To Know" by the Donnas, whom I usually like when I see them on TV but that hasn't translated to "go out and buy" just yet; solid cuts by musicians that I like but generally don't go out of my way to buy like the Ben Folds Five, They Might Be Giants (although I do have that two-CD best of that came out a while ago), and Joe Jackson, a great song that I haven't heard by Springsteen, which I assume is from The Rising, which I don't own; and appearances by personal faves Harry Nilsson ("Coconut", one of HN's best and the first hit he had with a song he wrote himself), Patsy Cline (can't beat "Crazy"- now that's country music), and Dino Crocetti from Steubenville, Ohio, AKA Martin, with the classic "That's Amore" as well as Marvin Gaye's legendary "Let's Get It On", always good macking soundtrack music. I usually like The Lemonheads, and the one provided is a solid track from them.

Subjects for Further Research- None. I'm at least passing familiar with every artist on this mix.

No Harm, No Foul: Green Day, "Uptight"- several Mix Bag participants put Green Day on their discs, but I'm just not a fan. Still, I will admit that they're listenable even as I ask for something else, please. Gary Numan's "Cars" is a classic of sorts, and catchy, but I always preferred Kraftwerk, Sparks, Bill Nelson or Low-era Bowie. The Who's "Who Are You" is a great song (hey, any song that namedrops T.Rex is OK by me) but I've heard it a skadillion times. Tori Amos' cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is OK, and a nice take on the song, but see my comments earlier. I've never really been a big AC/DC fan, either, but "It's a Long Way to the Top" isn't a bad choice- it's pretty typical of their output.

The Rest: Foo Fighters are OK, but not a group I'll go out of my way to listen to, and that applies to The Refreshments, Lit, the Dropkick Murphys, Therapy? and Barenaked Ladies (another Mixed Bag participant favorite).

And oh yeah, there's that group from England that everybody gets all in a dither about, the Moondogs or the Silver Beatles or something like that. Funny thing about "Her Majesty"- did you know that it was originally sequenced in between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam" on Abbey Road, but Paul didn't like it and had it removed. But the engineer spliced the section of tape on the end, to recycle the tape, and when Paul accidentally heard it in its new place at the end he liked it there a lot better, so it stayed there. A happy accident which performs the necessary function of deflating the rather grandiose ending of that album's song suite.

Re-playability: Moderately high. Several songs that I don't own and like.

ROXY'S WORLD MIX. Time for a little Roxy music! Ha.

Highlights: Gets off to a good start with the Philly disco soul of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "Don't Leave Me This Way". Seems like there's another version of this, by a female, that was a big hit at about that same time, maybe later. I got a kick out of Liam Lynch's "United States of Whatever", surely the "Don't Call Me Dude" of its day. I remember when that first came out; the video got a modicum of MTV airplay. I liked it then, but completely forgot about it. Funny stuff. "Polyester Bride" by Liz Phair is a excellent Stonesy track from the one Phair CD I don't own, Whitechocolatespaceegg. I listened to a friend's copy, and liked it, but I never got around to buying even though I've seen it for cheap in several places since. I'll have to remedy that someday. "Six Underground" by the Sneaker Pimps is another tune that I remember from when it was released, and liked it, but never bought it. "Spiders and Flies" from Mercury Rev is a great track from a band that I own one album by, 1998's Deserter's Songs. I like their mix of Brian Wilson/Spector production tricks with Hunky Dory-era Bowie songwriting. I just may have to get this track's CD, 2001's All Is Dream, one of these days. Back in the good old late 80's-early 90's days of the smalltown FM station where I worked, WLOC (Yes, I still work for WLOC, but it's different now. Long story.), we played a ton of Southern Culture on the Skids, and I remember "Camel Walk" very well. Fun, funky track, kinda like a redneck B-52's with a Cramps flavor. I consider Nick Drake's spare title track from his final album Pink Moon to be one of the loveliest ever written. The only overdub on the entire record, that piano solo, is just supernatural in its beauty and correctness.

Subjects For Further Research: I'm not at all familiar with David Carter, who's represented with a live version of CSN's "Southern Cross" here. The cover is pretty routine, but I wonder what his own stuff sounds like.

No Harm, No Foul: Cake the band, like Cake the foodstuff, is something I enjoy in moderation. There are several Cake tracks I like, but "Sheep Go To Heaven" isn't one of them. It's not bad, though. The Misfits' "Patient Boy" has a nice riff and boogies along agreeably, but the vocals grate. "Whistle Song" by P.J. Olssen is nice enough, but slight. The goofy, if nicely choreographed version of the Police's "Roxanne", sung by the narcoleptic Argentinian from Moulin Rouge! was fun to hear in this context. Not my favorite scene from the film, but it was a good one just the same. I'm by no means a fan of Morrissey or the Smiths, but Morrissey's solo "Suedehead" is a tuneful track which, again, I liked in this context. Carbon Leaf pops up again, as they did on Dr. Scott's mix. Catchy, but didn't really call me back for seconds.

The Rest: I liked Cornershop's "Brimful of Asha", but this remix adds nothing. My comments about Cake go double for Barenaked Ladies, and "Falling For the First Time" didn't grab me much. A little rap goes a long way with me, so I didn't really dig "Girl Named Michelle" all that much- it sounded like your typical run-of-the-mill hip-hop. I tried to find out who did it for ya, Roxy, but I couldn't find anything. Is that the correct title?

Re-playability: High, at least until I pick up Whitechocolatespaceegg...

More when I have time...!
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Go HERE for some gorram shiny guerilla promo posters that you, yes you, can download, print out and consequently help get the word out about Serenity!

Found via M.E. Russell's latest PulpCulture strip, about his experience at an advance screening.

Wish they'd had one in Louisville or Nashville...!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

I go back a ways with Firestorm, The Nuclear Man. I bought the first five issues of his short-lived pre-DC implosion title back in the late 70's, despite the misgivings I had in the case of its writer and creator, Gerard F. Conway. Even back then I didn't care for his style. I did like the art of Al Milgrom, though, who had been doing a fondly-remembered stint on Marvel Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy, so I decided to check it out. Its hero was a Peter Parker-type nebbish high schooler who, due to some sort of nuclear mishap, had to merge with someone else- a scientist named (if I recall correctly) Martin Stein, Captain Mar-Vell/Rick Jones style, in order to become the Nuclear Man. I liked it OK, didn't love it, and if DC hadn't killed the book a few months later I don't think I would have continued to pick it up much longer. Something about the character never really engaged my imagination all that much. I remember seeing him appear in other DC books in the subsequent years, most notably JLA, and while I didn't mind him being there, I didn't really care one way or the other. I don't have any idea what's been done to him over the years- I recall seeing different costumes and such, and I'm sure that Ronnie Raymond and Prof Stein have probably been killed and resurrected and reimagined more times that I even want to think about. In short, not to put too fine a point on it, but I've never really been a fan of the character.

I also go back a little ways with writer/editor Stuart Moore. Of course, we've never met, but you may recall that I was and still am a huge fan of the DC/Helix series that came out in the late 90's, Gemini Blood. Moore was the editor of the whole line, and was always there on the old AOL DC Comics chat rooms back then, so I got to pester him a lot about the series. I've never sampled any of his comics writing, though, although I enjoyed his A Thousand Flowers columns when the came out.

So, much to my surprise, I received an email a few weeks ago from Mr. Moore, asking if I'd be interested in getting something to read from him in the mail, and you know me, freebie whore that I am, I said "Why shore!" As it turned out, this was a B&W preview of the first issue (#14) of his upcoming run as author of the adventures of the modern Firestorm, and it is incumbent upon me, in return for this favor, to write a line or three about what I thought. So here ya go.

First of all, I may not have followed Stormy's career that closely, but I do know that the Ronnie Raymond FS met his nuclear maker in Identity Fiasco, and now there's a new guy who's taken his place. I'm assuming the guy we meet on page 2 of #14 is the same one who's been going around as the Nuclear Man in the previous 13, and apparently he's graduated high school and is ready to start college. He also has some family issues in the form of a father with whom he's apparently had conflicts with in the past. Jason Rusch is our new Firestorm's name, and this begins with him preventing an proton collider explosion of some sort of at the College he's going to attend. We also go from there to his 18th birthday party, and a short dramatic scene with his Dad, then he moves into his new apartment with a buddy, then we get a scene in S.T.A.R. labs Detroit where he is to be an intern before they close the facility down and we meet what I'm sure will be future supporting cast members. Finally, we come full circle as some evil guy in a trenchcoat transforms one of the University's Professors, who apparently got caught in the conflagration we witnessed FS take care of, into another super-being.

As far as Moore's script goes, I thought it wasn't bad at all. The dramatics weren't overblown or heavy handed, there were some lighter moments to leaven the tone (Jason's description of particle acceleration was especially amusing), and as getting-acquainted issues go, he did a fine job of introducing the players. I came away thinking that this was a breezy read for the most part, and I got the impression that Moore has a definite plan for where he wants to take Jason in the future. The art was by Jamal Igle (who I remember as artist on one of Marvel's New Warriors revivals, which I bought because I heart Namorita, and that particular run had a sexy one), with Rob Stull on inks, and it wasn't too bad either. Together, they gave a kind of Gil Kane-inked-by-Phil Jimenez look to the proceedings, and really my only quibble was that they drew Jason to look less like a teenager than a 40-year-old man. I just never bought the dude as an 18-year-old, not for a minute.

Will I buy Stuart Moore's Firestorm? I kinda doubt it. It's an old-school, mainstream superhero book and right now I just am not interested, not with this character. It's not because the art and script are bad, far from it. Do I recommend that you buy it? Well, if you are still into superheroes and are looking for a series you can read and still respect yourself in the morning, well, you should consider picking it up, 'cause I don't think you'll be disappointed.
A couple of quickie updates:

First, you're not tripping- I had a post up about the apparent hostility being directed in the media towards Star Wars "geeks" and featured a cartoon which inspired my little rant. Problem is, I ganked it from the caglecartoons.com website and they had very specific and quite succinct warnings about ganking their cartoons from their site. At first, I thought "Aw, ta hell with it- I'm not making any money here plus I linked back to them. Plus, my pitiful little 200-something readership is surely beneath their notice." But the more I thought about it, the colder my feet got, so I pulled it. My luck hasn't exactly been real great lately (although I've had a couple of pretty neat things happen in the last couple of days), plus nobody had commented anyway. In case you were wondering, now you know.

Also, my LCS, which I complain about a lot, exchanged my Kane TPB no questions asked, and I got the rest of my comics for this week. Domo arigato to the lovely Megan for being so nice and cool and stuff.

Hopefully, before the evening is through, more reviews as catch-up week continues.
I'm an idiot.

Went to the comics shop yesterday, and instead of buying the six books in my holds, I bought JLA Classified and the Kane: Thirty-Ninth trade paperback.

One little problem.

For some reason, I was under the impression that this new Kane TPB was the first one with stories that Grist hadn't already reprinted under the Dancing Elephant banner. I sat down, started to read, and about three pages in things sure seemed MIGHTY FAMILIAR. And sure enough, this new Kane trade is ACTUALLY the Image re-release of this.


Now, I gotta slink back to the comics shop and throw myself on their tender mercies, and see if they'll let me return the book and get my money back. Then I'll buy the other five new comics this week, no harm no foul.

But, damn I was looking forward to reading some new Kane stories!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

RIP Frank Gorshin, who has died at age 72.

When I was a kid, the Riddler was by far my favorite Batman TV show villain. Gorshin's manic performance was alternately reserved and unhinged, and he was the most memorable of a pretty memorable group of actors. Later on, I became aware that he was a kinda-sorta Rat Packer and had also done one of the later Classic Star Treks, a rather heavy-handed anti-racism-themed episode. But, low-budget 1950's monster movie buff that I am, it always gave me a charge that he appeared in one of my favorites: Invasion of the Saucer Men.

As always, Mark Evanier has a great remembrance post.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usCatchup week continues, with QUICKIE TAKES ON THE LAST TWO WEEKS' WORTH OF COMICS!


I like Mahfood's work- Grrl Scouts was fun and likeable, and I've always enjoyed his other stuff here and there when I see it. This prematurely released collaboration with some hip-hop group may be the best thing he's done yet. Lively, clever, and consistently funny, often reminding me of those old Pedro Bell ParlaFunkaDelicmentThang album covers. Take it from this whitest of white boys- this is well worth checking out. A

Another solid chapter as Sir Justin gets acclimated to the strange new world he finds himself in. He spends much of this issue being followed around by Big Red's cousin. A

Heaven help me, even though these sorts of spandex-and-black leather goings-on bore me in other comics, I simply like the way Joe Kelly writes super-heroes. Everything's appropriately grim and often cynical, but Kelly knows how to leaven it with humor and fortunately has a genuine sense of wit so it works. And you should all know how much I like the Mahnke/Nguyen art team, because I tell you so every week. THIS is how to do modern superhero comics. A-

It's generally not a good thing when the most lively scene in your story involves your lead character puking corrosive substances on people. B-

I swear to God I would have ripped this in two if that guy had said "Holy buckets" one more time. Pretty pictures, though. C+

Remember that super-hot girl or guy that you had a crush on in high school? Then, years later, you attend your 20-year class reunion and the former lust object is now married with three kids and weighs close to 250 pounds, with a drinking and smoking problem? That's kinda the feeling I got from this. Like most comics fans my age that picked the Englehart/Rogers Detectives up back in the day, I have fond memories of that run...but I feel much of the positive recollections might have been a direct result of how much more vital, different and creative it was compared to the extremely bland fare that had been offered up in both Bat-books prior to their assumption of the writing/art chores. There's certainly nothing dark about Englehart's Batman here, nor does he get to be much of a detective either...and while Rogers' art really hasn't gotten any worse (or any better, for that matter) since then, it now looks as fuddy-duddy as Sheldon Moldoff's Batman must have looked to fans of Neal Adams' version in the 70's. Englehart does well by the Joker, always has, but overall this is not an auspicious beginning to this particular nostalgia wallow. C+

DETECTIVE 803, 805, 806
Finally got caught up with the David Lapham run, and I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt because I've heard so much good about his Stray Bullets, but this is a disorienting mess that started out as a pretty good Eisnerish urban noir type thing but has rapidly devolved into yet another blah all-star villain of the month exercise with what seems to be ill-fitting science-fiction overtones. Feh. The Mike Carey-scripted back feature, "The Barker", barely registered and the art was grotesque. Jeff Parker does much better in #806's Alfred spotlight; hell, I think I'll keep buying this just to see what he does with it. 803, 805: C. 806: C+.


Warren Ellis on cruise control. He could write this sort of thing in his sleep, may have in fact, and if it's not especially fresh at least it's imaginative (Like another Internet pundit, I think it would have been cool if WE had titled this "They Saved Hitler's Porn) and VERY well illustrated by J.H. Williams. For me, superior art covers a multitude of sins. Your mileage may vary, as the saying goes. A

As usual since the color series began, I'm much less interested in Jack's somewhat cliched WWII struggles with the Freedom Fighters than I am the whole business (which has been cooking since the black & white series) with Becky Braddock, Bramble & Son, and the Shadow Man. Still, Grist's storytelling skills haven't diminished one bit, and this is as enjoyable as ever. A

More adventures with Boy Blue/Black Knight in the Adversary's lands. No better or no worse than previous issues, and it's building to a potentially interesting finale. A-

OK finale to what is, despite all the protestations to the contrary, diminished by its true nature as a prequel to DC's big multi-issue 2005 crossover extravaganza. Andy Diggle isn't as suited for superhero adventure (or supernatural adventure either, witness his Swamp Thing and Lady Constantine) as he is the espionage action thriller milieu (Losers, uf cuss) but he kept things moving at a brisk pace and only really resorted to cliché here at the end. Also, an overall nice art job by Pascal Ferry as well. I'm not sorry I bought this, but I was hoping for more. B+ Entire series: A-

Had me until the very end, and BEWARE THE SPOILER! The mutated cop wasn't acting particularly threatening when he advanced towards the fallen policeman- and it seemed to me that the other cops jumped the gun and opened fire, killing the poor guy. It looked like he had finally calmed down and was listening to reason...then they popped him! If they were going to shoot him full of holes, I would think that they would have done it when he was pitching cars around just a page or so previous. These things happen, I guess (except they usually don't involve mutated cops), but it seemed to me that this was thrown in there just for dramatic effect- no crime either, but it just didn't ring true to me. Oh well. It also bugged me that Batman sorta just disappeared or wandered off or whatever, and left the GCPD to their own devices...I know this is supposed to be the GCPD's book, but if he's there, you'd' think he wouldn't abandon ship like that. Otherwise, this was a fine arc, full of non-forced drama and working the Keystone PD into the mix was fun and interesting. Just wish the GCPD's trigger-fingers weren't so itchy. B
Best caption I've read lately, from new blog "Seven Hells!".

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

It all came about as a result of Free Comic Book Day.

Y'see, I hate to waltz into my comics shop, scarf up free swag, and leave without buying something. I'm just nice like that. Anyway, last year I picked up a couple of CDs- this year, I was more in the mood for something to read (especially since I had to do the Sunday morning radio thing the next day) so I browsed and browsed and browsed...and then I saw it. On a shelf full of discounted graphic novels and trade collections was a copy of THE ESSENTIAL DR. STRANGE VOL. 1 at 50% off. I knew then that this was meant to be. I had kinda been in the mood to re-read some old Marvel stuff anyway, and this fit the bill perfectly. And even better- this collected work that extended beyond the classic Lee/Ditko run into later issues, many of which I had never read, or had forgotten about. So...what did I think?

Well...it's pretty much like it seems. The early Lee-Ditko stuff is as visually incredible and inconsistently scripted as you'd think. I don't mean to slam Stan, far from it- his dialoguing at its best had a great, breezy flow that enhanced the KirbyDitkoAyersHecketc. art that it accompanied, and he seemed to be great at coming up with plot angles, or interesting directions for others' plots. I am not one that thinks that Lee had nothing to do with the greatness of early Marvel. But Silver Surferisms aside, Stan didn't always write the best hightoned dialogue out there. The dialogue in most of these stories tends towards the ponderous, pretentious and stagy; when characters aren't having grim internal monologues, they're haughtily pronouncing, to all that will listen, how powerful and mighty and great they are and how they absolutely can't BELIEVE that anyone would dare fuck with their mighty personages. And it's not just the bad guys- Doc Strange does this all the time as well! Doc, Dormammu, his hot sis Umar, Nightmare, the Demon, eternal fuckup Baron Mordo, even the friggin' Ancient One- they all boast and brag just like they were old school rappers. Of course, when I was 4, 5, 6 years old and reading this stuff, I didn't think anything of it, but as an adult, I can't help but notice. But hey- Stan was merely trying to follow in the footsteps of pulp writers and many of the other purveyors of popular culture "weird" writings. Not everyone can be Fritz Lieber.

And Ditko. Ah, Ditko. Many, myself included, love his Spidey stuff but this was the uncut funk. The bomb. Hallucinatory landscapes, the literal representation of beams of magical force and Steve's brilliant realization of such Lee brainstorms as the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak and the All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto. Even Steve's women were foxy here. Obviously Steve saw his chance to let his imagination run wild and he seized it lustily. As a youngster, I remember being absolutely fascinated by his art here. It's funny, too- the old saying "Often imitated, never duplicated" is very true in the case of those who have tried to follow in the Sturdy One's footsteps. I think, honestly, only Jim Starlin came close to this level of weirdness. Even Ditko never really topped his work from this period. So this volume is worth having for this reason alone. I miss the color, though, even though it looks just fine in black & white.

As I had said before, I had already read many of these stories, either in the original issues of Strange Tales (I was a big fan of those Torch & Thing stories that were co-featured) or later in reprint form in Marvel Tales, and my perception of them now is, unsurprisingly, a bit different from when I was 4-6. At first, Lee and Ditko seemed unsure about what they wanted to do with the Doctor. His appearance was that of an inscrutable Asian type, but I think they realized that it didn't make much sense for a man named "Strange" to be Eurasian, so his features slowly but surely became more Westernized as time went on. Early stories pitted him mostly against Mordo and Nightmare as well as the odd tale that seemed to be an old mystery/horror script they had dusted off and written Doc into. Things seemed to shift into gear with #126's "Domain of the Dread Dormammu", which introduced (much to Mordo's chagrin, I'll bet) Doc's arch-foe Dormammu, the nasty extradimensional sorcerer nabob with the fiery melon, who would plague him for almost two more years not to mention his future paramour Clea. Ditko had also gotten back to inking himself, after a couple of George Bell-delineated episodes which were fine, but Ditko was always Ditko's best inker back then. After that we are introduced to a succession of interesting foes: The Demon, not Etrigan but a fella with a pointy hat and collar who snags Strange in the "unbreakable" Crimson bands of Cyttorak- I think this was my very first Strange story, back when I was a little kid so it's one that sticks with me even to this day. The Demon was duly beaten, but he would return as a stooge of Mordo, who had by then hooked up with Dormammu. Next up was another favorite of mine, Tiboro, another extradimensional tyrant with a groovy wand- this issue was scripted by one Don Rico; guess Stan had deadline issues or something. During a TV show about the occult, several panelists are sucked into Tiboro's dimension by a magical effigy of ol' Tibby, and the Doctor had to go in after. Blew my little mind, it did. But with #130 came the mother lode, the Tabula Rasa: the multi-part "Defeat of Dr. Strange", in which Mordo, augmented by Dormammu's power (Dormy couldn't invade our world because he promised Doc Strange he wouldn't when the latter helped him out of a jam in their first confrontation), recruits mystics all over the world, invades the Ancient One's Sanctum Sanctorum, and attacks- leaving Strange's mentor in a coma and the Doctor himself on the run, hounded by cutthroats, evil mystics, and wraithlike beings that could battle him in his ectoplasmic form, and other assorted menaces. Lee, despite the still-grandiose dialogue, crafted (with Ditko's plotting help, I assume) a taut, exciting story that featured (in my opinion, anyway) some of the best artwork of Ditko's career. Mood, panel layouts, imaginative renditions, you name it, it was there. Stan and Steve pulled out all the stops for this one, and the saga ran until Ditko left with issue #147. Eighteen issues of some of the best of 60's Marvel. Strange traveled the world, always with Mordo's minions in hot pursuit, trying to find the secret of "Eternity", which was the key to defeating Mordo and Dormammu and restoring the Ancient One to health. One of the most memorable issues, for me, during this run was #131 (the second chapter) which featured the Doc in the Orient, and taking a plane back to the States- and Mordo's wraiths flying around, all through the plane, searching for and eventually doing battle with him. In fact, the Torch and Thing tale in this issue was the "Bouncing Ball of Doom", another of my childhood faves, making this a desert island comic if ever there was one. Another favorite and one which hit me hard as a child was #133's "A Nameless Land, A Timeless Time", in which Strange escapes to another dimension after the first battle with DormaMordo, and gets mixed up with two magical sisters, one of which is the rightful ruler of that world and the other a jealous psychopath. At the time I was reading many of these stories, I was staying with my grandparents while my folks worked, and I had free run of my Aunt Lavana's record collection. I happened to play the Coasters' hit "Love Potion #9" when I read this for the first time, and to this day when I see that story I hear that song. This tale was eventually reworked by Marv Wolfman and Craig Russell in Dr. Strange Annual #1, then by Russell alone in the 90s as the one-shot What is It That Disturbs You, Stephen?.

After Ditko left, Doc's exploits continued to be written by Lee at first, and continued in Strange Tales- but they replaced Ditko with the great Bill Everett beginning with #147, who stayed around for 6 issues. Everett was certainly one of the greats and a personal favorite artist of mine, and all things considered he did a fine job, considering 1) he had to follow a legend; 2)they kept pasting in Ditko-drawn pictures of Clea and Mordo, presumably to maintain the visual continuity; and 3) he had some personal issues going on (by many accounts I had read), leading to some inconsistency and deadline-spawned rushing. Everett's Doc was a little more square-jawed and handsome, more slick if you will, than Ditko's, and (especially) early on there were some nicely done scenes of Doc interacting with the real world, as in the very first issue where Doc goes to the drug store to buy some cold medicine and breaks up a robbery. They tried to give him some real-world problems, as well- an early theme was that they were broke and couldn't pay the bills on the Greenwich Village brownstone. Eventually, out of the blue in a later issue, they had an impatient Doc just conjure up a bunch of money, and that was that! The main baddie was a fellow named Kaluu- an Atlantean sorcerer who terrified even the Ancient One, but even though it took the better part of the next three issues, Kaluu was easily beaten. He then retired from the evil magician gig, and created a coffee-flavored liqueur. Next up was Dormammu's right sexy and right evil sister Umar, who managed to do what her sibling couldn't- invade Earth. By then Everett had been replaced by Marie Severin, whose Umar was darn near as hot as Everett's! After the Umar saga came in went, another seminal Marvel supernatural characters came on the scene- the Living Tribunal, another godlike being with a floating hooded head whose task it was to pass judgment on other supernatural miscreants. After Severin, Warren stalwart Dan Adkins came on board, with George Tuska with Adkins on inks filling in once or twice...and the scripting was left to the likes of Roy Thomas, Dennis O'Neil, and someone named Jim Lawrence. The feature seemed to really flounder for about the last quarter of this collection- Lawrence's stories, in particular, were awful with florid dialogue that made Lee's seem like poetry, and it was his misfortune to preside over the pre-90's nadir of Strange lore: the saga of his battle with evil scientist Yandroth and his giant robot "Voltorg". It's not that the idea of pitting the magic of Strange vs. the evil super-science of Yandroth was a bad one per se; but the execution was terrible. The giant robot looked ridiculous, like a big metallic version of the Ma Hunkle Red Tornado, and this story went on for four more issues, until they spun Nick Fury off into his own book and turned the entirety of Strange Tales over to the good Doctor. I forget if the Yandroth story was resolved there...but I do know it wasn't much longer until Gene Colan and Roy Thomas came along to give us the masked Doctor, and wrote some pretty involving stories after that.

Even considering all this, I thought that this whole volume was a hell of a read, with some of the best 60's Marvel had to offer...and even the later stories were lively and exciting. I missed the color, for sure, but it was well worth the ten bucks.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Found this while clicking around this afternoon in between ads: Wendy Waldman's website.

Monday, May 16, 2005

I got off to a late start, so this is all I got for now.

Coming soon (hopefully before the end of the day Wednesday): looks at The Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 1, Firestorm #14, Foul Play!: The Art and Artists of the Notorious E.C. Comics, Project: Superior, the first in a series of looks at everybody's mix CD's from "Lefty" Brown's Mixed Bag Project (hopefully I'll get these done before round two starts in a couple of weeks), quickie reviews (even shorter than usual!) of the last two weeks' comics purchases, and God only knows what else.

Scroll down for today's stuff- movies, Free Comic Book Day pickups, and a spotlight on some great jack Kirby Strange Tales covers.

Watched a few movies lately...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is the latest from Hero director Yimou Zhang, and it's every bit as visually sumptuous as its predecessor- but it has an even shallower story at its base. In HoFD, government soldier Takeshi Kaneshiro, as Jin, helps the lovely Zhang Ziyi, as Mei, the seemingly blind daughter of the old former leader of the rebel House of Flying Daggers, escape from prison in order to follow her to the nest of the insurrectors- but he falls in love with her and she with him, and that causes complications. Seems that a member of the HoFD is deeply in love with her, and has been on a secret mission for three years, living just to see her again- so you can imagine that he is not happy that she seems ready to spurn him for the newer man. The pursuit itself is given to several multicolored set pieces and fight scenes, all of which are lively and clever- especially a wire-fu throwdown in a bamboo forest. Like Hero, the story is of secondary importance in Zhang's films anyway and the bulk of the film was certainly entertaining enough. Sometimes it was almost too colorful- often the scenery would change from orange, yellow and red Autumnal foliage to bright green to winter gray without warning, and while I suppose it could be justified as altitude changes, creative hubris, or something, it was bothersome. The underlying theme seemed to be the uncertainties in any relationship, and how they affect each person involved- and Zhang pulls it off until the very end. The climactic snowy showdown scene, in which the choices made and the implied reasons for making these choices were made manifest, just didn't quite work for me. Oh well. It's still an excellent film and well worth checking out if you get the chance.

I also caught a screening of NATIONAL TREASURE, the Nic Cage actioner which gives us Mr. Coppola as a treasure hunter who has been obsessed (as has his father, and his grandfather too) with finding a legendary hoard that the founding fathers themselves hid, providing clues in a multitude of places including the back of the Declaration of Independence itself. It's a goofy, audacious idea, and the movie wisely doesn't take itself too seriously; it's easy to get caught up in Cage & Co.'s pursuit of the clues, just like some sort of novel aimed at teenagers. He's competing with a former ally-turned rival played by Sean (Boromir) Bean, and the cat-and-mouse between these two is fun. Less fun, or credible, is Diane Kruger as the Director of the National Archives, who gets involved unwillingly at first but soon ends up not only helping Cage out but falling in love with him as well. Of course. By the time Harvey Keitel shows up as an FBI agent, you just throw up your hands and go with it. National Treasure is no landmark of cinema, but it is lively and enjoyable. A good rainy day movie, I'd think.

One other newish film I saw the other night was THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, last year's attempt to revive that long-abandoned 70s cinema staple, the Irwin Allen disaster movie. Set in the not-so-distant future, in which global warming somehow causes climatological chaos, the science in this flick is atrocious, and while it helped to have read the lambasting that Intuitor gave it after its release, you can easily tell that like 2003's The Core, the filmmakers weren't gonna let a little thing like scientific accuracy and logic get in the way of the kewl special effects set pieces. Even though the likes of Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhall are good, they take a back seat to the wacky weather happenings. Glad I didn't drop eight bucks to see this at the theatre.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLike many of my blogosphereiversal brethren, I stopped by my LCS on Saturday, May 7 for Free Comic Book Day. Didn't do a lot of preparation beforehand; actually, there was only one book I really wanted more than any other. Unlike last year, I didn't take any pictures, either. My shop seemed to get most of the various books offered, and the nice young lady at the table helpfully let me come around and look through the boxes for myself. So, here's what I got.

COMIC FESTIVAL (Legion of Evil Press), of course; the one book I was most looking forward to. Wrap a Darwyn Cooke cover on it, and I'm strongly tempted. Add James Jean to the mix, and I'm there. I would have paid 2 bucks for it. I'm also hard pressed to say what I liked best. The list of talent assembled reads like a Who's Who of artists I'm following right now: Bryan Lee O'Malley (short, but clever Scott Pilgrim one-pager), Hope Larson (another fascinating piece- the more I see her work the more I like), Darwyn Cooke, Jason Bone...and I was also engaged by the two one-page Street Angel stories by Jim Rugg and Brian Marucca that were a lot more enjoyable than the last three issues of the series; a page by Jason Pultz, whose stuff I'd seen and liked before but had forgotten about; a Jax Epoch tale, done in a looser and more whimsical style, that I liked 110% better than the graphic novel I read a while ago; a nice, understated three-pager by Larson's Secret Friend Society collaborator Kean Soo; Seth's "Wimbledon Green" preview was clever, funny and interesting- I've never really followed Seth's work all that closely but I may be moved to get this; and two stories about badass fighting chicks: "The Apocalipstix", by Cam Stewart and Ray Fawkes, a Tank Girl-style romp which sported excellent action art- I'd like to see more one of these days; and Ben Shannon's "Cold Play", which was an excerpt from what I assume is a much bigger tale- I liked what I saw of Shannon's art, I don't recall seeing it before. If all the other FCBD offerings were this high in quality, it would be a great day indeed! A

Fantagraphics' FUNNY BOOK was a bit of a disappointment by contrast- the quality of the talent assembled is some of the best there is, but a surfeit of reprints from creators one normally looks forward to (the Bros., Clowes, Sala) tempers the enjoyment a bit. Still, it's a pretty good sampling of what you get from Fantagraphics these days, save for Dame Darcy, and I was especially interested in reading the upcoming plans for future issues of Richard Sala's Evil Eye, one of my favorite comics series. B-

Top Shelf's offering was a new OWLY story, and it was as winning as the others in the series have been so far. Maybe some have it in them to find fault with Andy Runton's friendly little owl and his buddies, but I'm not one of them. A

Drawn & Quarterly's THE ADVENTURES OF PAUL by Michel Rabagliati was a highly readable reminisce, made special by Rabagliati's loose 50's-animation-type style. I'd never heard of the guy before, and I don't know if I'd be willing to pony up a lot of money for more, but I did enjoy this. I especially thought the description of the old-school newspaper press technology (Linotype machines, etc.) was interesting; I've been hearing about it for over a year now from this fellow I work with who's been at the Daily News since the 50's. A-

The ALTERNATIVE COMICS sampler was pretty much par for the course in line with previous years: Kochalka, Haspiel, and a buncha who-deys. Three of them did catch my eye, though- Jen Sorensen's "Slowpoke" strips, which reminded me a little of This Modern World; Robert Ullman's "Lunch-hour Comix", consistently amusing, and "A Strange Day" by Damon Hurd and Tatiana Gill, not so much for the story which was just a "cute couple who dig nostalgically-hip music" tale, but for Gill's sloppy, but expressive art. Hope to see more of her. B

And that's about it! I did see a couple of others that I wished I'd snagged when I was there after reading about them later, and a couple of cool-sounding ones (like the Oni offering) that I didn't see.

Later that week, I went in on Thursday to get my weekly stack and was given free copies of Marvel's HOUSE OF M SKETCHBOOK, which would have given me a geekgasm when I was 12, and a reprint of the first issue of EX MACHINA which I didn't like any better than I did the first time, when I coughed up 3 bucks for it.
Ahh...seems like two weeks since I've done this! A look into my haul on Wednesday via the new Diamond shipping list.


And that's it! Plus, I have the latest KANE trade by Paul Grist in my holds folder; couldn't afford it last week but I have some cash now so I might pick it up as well. Heck, I might put back everything that came in THIS week and get Kane instead.
Well, I had intended to spend today, my day off, writing a bunch of stuff in hopes of getting caught up from my little hiatus, but events hath conspired against me. I'm finding myself obligated to do a number of tasks, both in and out of the house. I hope to be able to get to it later this evening, but in the meantime here's a humble little Kirby tribute for you to check out, prompted by my Free Comic Book Day purchase of this, which was on sale at 50% off. Here goes:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Hydra agents! On SKATEBOARDS!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Nobody, I mean nobody, could draw sneering thugs like the King.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Even a comic book with a story title as silly as "LO! THE EGGS SHALL HATCH!" is made compelling and cool by this berserk illo which simply jumps off the paper at you. How a kid could see this cover and not move heaven and earth to buy it is beyond me.

Nobody could do balls-to-the-wall, grab-ya action art like Kirby, and no one could do it any better.

I'll write about the aforementioned publication later- it's where I noticed these great covers. It has little, if anything, to do with Kirby or Nick Fury.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Hi there. Just wanted to let you know that my little vacation is over, and I'll resume filling your eyes with bloggage very soon, maybe tonight. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share a picture of me and JBS Spokesperson of the Month of May 2005 Kelly Clarkson on the beach at Jamaica.

I've spent my little hiatus doing the kinda stuff I always do- movies, music, TV, comics, work, eat, sleep, not necessarily in that order, and I have some catching up to do. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Hello, everybody, my name is Kelly Clarkson, and I'm delighted to inform you that I am the Johnny Bacardi Show spokesperson for the month of May. I'm sure you've noticed that JB hasn't posted anything since Monday, and he just wanted me to inform all y'all that he isn't dead or missing ("Sorry to disappoint" he says, hee hee- that big goof! He just used that joke the other day!), but is just taking some time off from providing you, his treasured readers, with blog stuff 'n' junk. He says he's a little burned out, but if you ask me, he's just a big old wuss. Think I didn't get tired and stuff when I was winning American Idol and launching my mega-successful recording career? Shyeaaah, right! Anyway, whaddaya say we give the big baby his "me" time, but check in with him later to see if he's managed to pull himself up out of whatever funk he's let himself get into. Personally, I just think he's gone off into seclusion to smoke hashish and drink that nasty rum stuff with those skanky ho's of his, but that's just me. Anyway.

Bye-eee! And don't forget to buy my latest CD, Breakaway!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


What I bought and what I thought, week of April 27!

As we get ever nearer to that final issue, and the final twists that surely are coming, I can't help but notice that there was a real sense this time of pulling out all the stops with lots of action, both of the spy-thriller and superheroic (Is it me, or does the Grifter's mask look really stupid in this setting?) types, as if the intent is to go out with guns ablaze, both literally and figuratively. Still doesn't stop us from getting a touching, defiant speech from Holden and the sight, courtesy of Sean Phillips, of Tao looking positively bugfuck as he laughs hysterically later on. And, of course, there are more plot twists. Reading this series has often been like watching one of those Pepsi Twist commercials where everybody keeps unzipping their heads. A

Max's big master plan gets clearer in this talky first part of a three-part arc. Nearly every reveal is made in the dialogue, and if that's the way it's got to be at least it's Andy Diggle's sharp repartee that's doing the revealing. Jock is back, and doesn't disappoint- sometimes this sort of tale is more difficult to pull off because if the visuals don't engage the eye, the reader won't be inclined to make the effort. As always, best book nobody's reading...other than Sleeper. The only way that I would slam this title is if Max's last name turns out to be Lord. AAAA! A

Wow. Howard Chaykin gets the spotlight this issue, and doesn't disappoint. Following the EC Comics story template, filtered through his own unique sensibility, he gives us one outstanding short story after another, with the only clunker being "Bad Blood", a story of turmoil and tragedy among white supremacists with an ending you could see coming a mile away. From the clever account of a black jazz saxophonist trying to escape Nazi-occupied France, to a ghoulishly amusing tale of a brilliant but obnoxious scientist who keeps murdering, then genetically tweaking his girlfriend so that she won't fall for other people, to a great look at an old DC Western character, Pow-Wow Smith with a backdrop of the silent film era and a neat twist, and finishing up with the best of them all, featuring Chaykin himself, as he tells us in witty fashion why he never did horror, how he broke into the business and where he fits in that hierarchy. It's warm and funny, and not what you would expect from him at all. And even better, he even draws the lead character from Time Squared in a panel. Unless that's the Scorpion. Or Dominic Fortune. Aaah, it's hard to tell. A

Other than a diverting disco scene in which a hapless young fellow is artificially seduced into giving up secret info for a high-tech project, all the better for our merry little group of nanobot humanform combat mecha to perform their designed sabotage function...nothing much really happens here. But it's OK- Rick Mays does such a nice job of aping writer Adam Warren's art style that even the conversation scenes have energy and spark, and the exposition-heavy dialogue goes down smoothly. I think we all understand what's going on now, Adam...now how about letting the 'bots DO something except explain everything as they go along? A-

Better than last issue. The group therapy conceit doesn't play as obvious a role this time out, and this tale of a jailbird bomber's son who wants to help his Pop's status on the inside by setting a bomb off under Foggy Nelson is very engrossing, with a clever ending. Alex Maleev does his usual solid job on art. A-

Things look up here as well in another underachieving title as of late, as John literally goes to Hell to look for the soul of his sister as his demonic kids consolidate their final attack. Mike Carey does a nice job of moving the proceedings along, gives us a look back at one of his first storylines, and provides sharp dialogue throughout, plus the returned Leo Manco does a better job than the last couple of issues he drew- maybe it took Constantine returning to Hell to remind him of how good he used to draw infernal goings-on... B+

Here's that Chaykin fella again- boy, has he been busy lately! Of course, it's hard to tell after one issue, but this is pretty much Howie 101- every stylistic tendency and quirk is processed once more, in service of another "The future didn't turn out so hot, did it"-style story with many familiar elements from past triumphs including robot police officers, the requisite blowjob scene, and a once-burned-and-cynical-yet-idealistic-and heroic ChaykinMan in the lead. Still, expert chef that he is, Howard makes this all worthwhile, including a eyebrow-raising terrorist attack at the beginning which I didn't see coming and a neat reveal at the end. He jumps around from time period to time period a bit overmuch here, but I have a feeling that it won't be so prevalent as the series goes on. Much to like here, but it's mostly because I liked it once or twice before and I like the cut of the author/illustrator's jib. B

Barry Kitson's stolidly ordinary artwork makes this seem a lot more episodic and disjointed to me than it really is, I think...Mark Waid seems to be cooking up a complicated epic here, but unfortunately a lot of it just doesn't flow well from one issue to the next- and I gotta blame the uncompelling visuals, which are just too slavishly mainstream 80s-style generic superhero-style to entice me to pay attention to what's happening. I keep finding myself skimming instead of reading, and when a book has as much going on, both plot-and-character-wise as this has, that's a strong liability. I like the scope of what Waid's setting up, and even like the personalities he's given the group this time out (they get along much better this issue, an encouraging sight), but my gosh darn visual predelection is setting up serious interference in this case. B-
Just in case you care, here's what I'll be getting this week according to the new Diamond shipping list:


Of course, I still haven't purchased Detective #'s 803 and 805 yet, so I may get the latter instead so I don't get ahead of myself on the Lapham arc. For old times' sake, I'm giving Englehart and Rogers a chance with Dark Detective. Penultimate issues of Justice League Elite and Concrete, and I'm almost ashamed to say which one I'll miss more. It's been forever since Jingle Belle #3 came out; glad to see it will be done before Christmas. Another tiny step forward in the baby-steps progression of Seven Soldiers, and more soft core T & A with Shanna. Not the best of weeks, but probably not the worst either.

Last week's comics in review, comin' up later tonight...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Some recent acquisitions, first up from Top Shelf:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy previous exposure to the work of Jeffrey Brown was his Bighead story in Top Shelf Tales, last year's Free Comic Book Day offering. To be honest, it didn't grab me. I found his art primitive at best and amateurishly crude at worst, and you all know how important the visual aspect of any work of sequential storytelling is to me. The story itself was an inoffensive, gentle even, superhero satire but still gave off that sweet stink of a shot at an easy target by someone who wants to make it clear that he's above such things. But- I found myself enjoying MINIATURE SULK, a collection of short (autobiographical?) vignettes and general tomfoolery, which always came across as real no matter how silly they were, and at their best rang very true. Mostly structured as your basic four panel gag strip, except more often as not they didn't end with a punch line...and for once it didn't bother me. Made me just go "hmpf" and move on. But I found myself chucking at the oddest moments, such as the ambiguous resolution to the boy-gets-kitten saga "Misty" (and anybody who's ever had a cat can certainly relate) and the four-panel absurdity of "I'm Not Kidding", in which a startled-looking young girl says "Oh my gosh, I'm going to die...you don't know how hysterical I'm going to be!" and lets it go at that. I'm probably never going to warm to Brown's scrawly art, but by and large I was hugely entertained by Miniature Sulk. If you're attuned to Brown's wavelength, you'll love it. If you're not, you'll still get a chuckle or two, and there's nothing wrong with that, now is there? B+

I got a postcard a couple of months ago promoting Max Estes' HELLO AGAIN; liked the cover's eye-catching color scheme but wasn't moved to reserve it. Once again, I goofed. Hello Again is a very good tale of a somewhat aimless young man named William who's screwing his best friend's fiance and is just coasting along in his career as a building manager. But something keeps nagging at him: he blames himself for his parents' divorce, feels guilt over what he's doing to his friend, and has just met a young lady tenant with who he strikes up a friendship-maybe-more. Things come to a head when he sees a head, sticking out of a hole, of an old drunken fisherman that he and his friends caused to be knocked unconscious and drift out to sea many years ago, his fate unknown. The ghost of the fisherman proceeds to follow William around and alternately berates him and cajoles him to make the changes in his life he seems to want to make. After several pages of existential guilt and "nobody can see me but you"-type stuff, William finally comes to grip with his demons and makes some decisions. Estes has a deceptively simple style; his work is as unpolished as Brown's, but at the same time he knows how to compose and tell a story very well and it definitely grows on you as the story goes along. While I usually don't go for psychodrama all that much, Hello Again is at least lighthearted psychodrama and I was engaged throughout. A

I didn't know WHAT the hell to make out of MOSQUITO, a wordless vampire tale done entirely in red ink on cream-colored paper stock and in a highly idiosyncratic, pictographic style (which reminded me a little bit of Nick Mahler's Van Helsing's Night Off) by one Dan James. Visually striking, for sure...but unfortunately a little too innovative for its own good since storytelling clarity gets completely lost in the process. It's interesting, as an art project if nothing else, but it took me several readings to feel like I had a good handle on the events depicted...and I'm not sure that I'm 100% correct even now. C+

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFinally, I received a big package o' stuff from the unfortunately-named Moronik Comics, consisting of a DVD featuring three computer-animated shorts about The "Bad Kids", some business cards and stickers, and a copy of the company's maiden comic book project, DIRTBOY. Dirtboy is apparently an escapee from the "Bad Kids Zoo", which consists of, well, "bad" kids who display certain anti-social tendencies- as we see in the animated shorts, one captive likes to play with matches, another likes to throw rocks at windows (the rocks wink at him, which encourages him to fling them), and so on. In this issue, another potential Bad Kid (so we're told) named "Sparky" is lost in the forest, and encounters Dirtboy, who is in turn being pursued by a Good Kid called Pet Girl, who wants to return him to captivity. The pair get in and out of jams, and the issue ends with a cliffhanger on the stones crossing a river. I liked this all OK, even though I was kinda dubious about the Burtonish fantasy concept at its base- apparently the fine folks at Moronik intend for these to be cautionary fables of some sort, but we don't really get a strong sense of cause and effect and consequences of actions- the Firestarter kid, for instance, sets his fire in his house out of boredom, being egged on by a mischievous turtle (I know, this sounds might wiggy). He doesn't seem to display any particular pyro tendencies- he sets the fire after being talked out of several other turtle-inspired misdeeds by a Seuss-like fish in a bowl. When the fire gets out of control it merges into one fire-being from several small dancing flame-guys, and the being whisks him away to the Zoo. Wha-huh? Anyway, if these are intended to be Good Stories for Bad Little Kids, there needs to be some fleshing out and more thought put into the concept, I think. As introductory issues go, though, this isn't bad- it's nicely drawn in a Naifeh or Vazquez-ish style by Colin Adams, and this particular story moves along at a brisk pace. Perhaps writer George Mondero will settle in and get cooking the longer this goes on; I hope he gets the chance. B

That's all for now...comics reviews tomorrow!