Friday, June 30, 2006

All right, enough's enough- I've finally gotten over that stomach virus or food poisoning or whatever that I had, and I feel like me for the first time since Tuesday night. But tonight, I had DVDs of Neil Young (new Heart of Gold, so-so) and Faces-Last Concert (too many shots of Rod Stewart wiggling his ass, and the print condition was miserable, but Keith Richards guest starred and it was the frickin' Faces! Without Ronnie Lane, dammit, but still) plus I got my box o'new comics that means that I'll be getting back in the saddle tomorrow, if nothing else but to get started on my PopCultureShock column with the new title, which is due over the weekend. Thanks for your patience, indulgence, and interest, such as it may be.

I did get a tidbit of information from none other than Steve (Timespirits) Perry tonight via email, and it went like this:

Timespirits is being reprinted by Image into a graphic novel with new stuff by Me and Tom(Yeates).

Apparently this supersedes the previous plans by another publisher to reprint the series that I hold in such high regard, and for my part I couldn't be happier that it's from a higher profile company than was previously announced- perhaps Image can hype it a bit more. We shall see. And hopefully I can be the one to let you know when it happens!

He also goes on to say

Steve Perry (me. you mother) who wrote Timespirits and Thundercats and Silverhawks and Dracula and GI Joe and Bizarre Adventures and Amazing High Adventures and Creepy and Heavy Metal and Conan and Star Wars and all that other shit ... is finally doing what he wants: A COMICS GRAPHIC NOVEL ABOUT MY SEVEN YEARS IN THE CARNIVAL: It's called RED EYE GRAVY. It is being drawn by JIM WHEELOCK, a fantastic artist out of LA who has never hit except in the cinema. Watch out -- adult material. Crazy.

This bears watching, too, I think! Link is mine. If it's the wrong Jim Wheelock, I apologize. Not exactly a hard-hitting comics journalist over here.

All right, that's all I got tonight. Check back soon.

And oh- that Sergio Aragones issue of Solo? BRILLIANT.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I've got nuttin' tonight.

But I have been in a fierce Todd Rundgren mood lately, digging out a lot of his vinyl and even giving a spin to his overwrought 1989 opus Nearly Human. Whilst checking out his Wikipedia entry, I was eventually led to a site that contains a goodly number of Windows Media Player files that show video clips ranging from the Nazz days and his glammy early-mid 70's period (my favorite, and among others we get the infamous peacock feather Midnight Special appearance) along with a couple of clips from his early-90's appearance on the muchly missed Michelob Presents Night Music- one featuring TR, his wife Michelle, and Taj Mahal singing Gilbert & Sullivan (!) all the way to his depressing most recent endeavor, the New Cars (clips from the Leno and Ferguson shows). Never thought I'd see Rundgren reduced to aping Ric Ocasek, and I'd bet he didn't either. There's a bit too much late 80's Utopia stuff (although I think this album is a minor pop-rock masterpiece) for my liking, but it's worth a look if you're a Todd fan, fer shur.

I'm in the Clique...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Assorted castigations, ruminations, considerations, and observations about works of sequential fiction I have perused in the weeks that include June 13 through June 24.

S: Bill Willingham, A: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha. (DC/Vertigo, $3.99)

SPOILERS AHOY. You've been warned.

For months, this book has been in kind of a complacent groove- mostly well-written, and mostly well-drawn, with ongoing events that will be of interest to long-time readers who are emotionally invested in the characters, and will be quite unfathomable to those picking it up cold. For this extra-sized 50th issue, though, Willingham and Co. have surprisingly decided to tie up a whole bunch of dangling plot threads at once (while wisely leaving room for further development on those fronts, never fear)...and so we get the reunion and wedding of Bigby Wolf and Snow White, as well as Bigby's fun and fast-paced commando mission to make a retaliatory strike at the Adversary- and gosh darn if everything doesn't work, and work well. And Willingham doesn't even hew to established genre tropes in his plot- I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something to go wrong or bad, but it doesn't...and that makes this twice as enjoyable as it is. I like it when writers write against the grain. Which is not to say that I don't fully expect Gepetto's payback to be a bitch, and I look forward to the dropping of the other shoe. Buckingham and Leialoha channel Kirby (actually, the net effect is Tom Grummett inked by Karl Kesel) more than ever, which is usually the case when they're trying hard, but their art doesn't get in the way so it's all good. But for now, I'll sing the praises of a rare 50th issue that delivers the goods, and I hope they can keep it up. A

S: Adam Beechen, A: Rick Burchett (DC, $2.25)

In my opinion, about the only worthwhile thing Gerry Conway ever did in comics was co-create Gypsy, one of the short-lived and not-so-fondly remembered Justice League Detroit back in 1984. And I freely admit my live for the character is an eccentric and difficult-to-understand one; I was buying JLA when the JLD was introduced, but I could see that she was just a transparent attempt to give the readers a character that "looked like that Cyndi Lauper that the kids all are crazy for these days". Quotes mine. Anyway, the first time I really sat up and noticed her was the story arc in Justice League America in which Despero came back and killed her parents- it was an unusually down-to-Earth interlude in the bwah-ha-ha run and it really made a strong impression on me. Besides, you know how I am- I'm attracted to the obscure nooks of the DC Universe and its satellites, as anyone who's listened to me ramble about Super-Hip, Hellgrammite and Thriller will attest. Anyway, it looks like she's popped up in this and that since then, none of which I've bought because a grim & gritty Gypsy just doesn't interest me in the slightest. But when I saw "classic" Gypsy, done in Justice League Unlimited animated style, on the cover of this, I decided it was time for me to pick up my first issue of the title. And y'know what? I may read more serious and engrossing comics stories this year, but I seriously doubt that I will read one that I enjoy more than I did this issue. The setup is simple: Gypsy, here a part of the Justice League and providing winning first person narration to tell us how much the League means to her, stumbles across what she suspects is some sort of evil plan that is backed by Deacon Industries, who supply high-tech toys to super-criminals in exchange for a percentage of the profits. Problem is, the troops who are setting up in abandoned areas for this suspected plan have paperwork which allows them to be there, which causes the League to suspect her of crying wolf. She must then go behind the League's back to get to the bottom of what's happening and prove herself. Like a good episode of the TV series, it's streamlined and not dumbed-down and very efficient, and I would wager Gypsy hasn't been this likeable in decades. Rick Burchett, surely one of DC's most underrated illustrators, does a very solid job and his Gypsy is kinda Audrey Hepburn-meets-Audrey Tautou, very appealing and attractive (even though I gotta thing the soles of her feet have to be hard as concrete, the way she goes around barefoot all the time). Looking back at this Johnny DC title's other covers, it seems that right now it's is in kind of a character spotlight mode, and it was Gypsy's turn. Glad they did, because as far as I'm concerned this is one hell of a good comic- not that I don't appreciate more downbeat approaches, but after all the Identity inspired sturm und drang that I've been seeing lately, it's like a breath of fresh air. You don't know how tempted I am to give this one the coveted A+...A

S/A: James Kochalka (Top Shelf, $5)

Awesome possum! As with the first two issues, this is vulgar, sweet, childish, amusing as hell and as much fun as a fart in church. PS: I wanna join Team Lightning! Orange Lightning rocked! A

S: Andrew Cosby, Michael A. Nelson; A: Greg Scott (Boom!, $2.99)

Skating perilously on the edge of that well that the Boomers may have now visited one too many times, we get another X-Files/Lost kind of exercise as a group of researchers (one of which is apparently Harry Knowles) discover what may be a new form of life that has washed up on a beach, head out to sea (with a ship captain that looks a lot like Ian McShane, or Frank Zappa) to find more, and get stranded on an island full of menaces and fresh terrors. It's almost as much fun to play "spot the influence" with this first issue, as you can tick off Jaws, the aforementioned X-Files and Lost, Creature From the Black Lagoon, even King Kong fer chrissakes without even half trying- and that's kinda unfair on my part because it's well dialogued, the protagonists are mostly an interesting bunch even though they're all based on stereotypes and the art is excellent in its Hitch/Neary via J.P. Leon photorealistic way. So I guess this is where I trot out my standard Marc Bolan/Chuck Berry maxim: If you're going to borrow, at least for God's sake be entertaining when you do it. B

S: J.M. DeMatteis; A: Mike Ploog (Boom!, $3.50)

Not having read the previous three issues of this wannabe L. Frank Baum/J. M. Barrie comic, which came out under the aegis of another publisher (Crossgen? I forget) a short while ago, I'm completely at sea about what the hell is going on here. So I'm dealing with the dual exploits of four kids, two of which look like a preteen Timothy Robbins and a refugee from Annie or something with her beret and floppy sweater, trying to cross some sort of enchanted forest with the standard evil queen (this time in Tolkienesque plant-lady form) watching, making things difficult for them; as well as another pair, a bland blonde girl and a young fellow who looks like a preteen Fat Albert, being escorted by a fishman across the bottom of the sea. The first pair gets mixed up with an evil lady cornstalk, (Children of the Corn indeed) and the second get threatened by some sort of underwater plant life that had just given them nourishment not one panel previous. I understand what DeMatteis is trying to do, problem is he's just not apparently able to rise above cliche and secondhand ideas. I like him in full bwah mode with Keith Giffen on Justice League and Hero Squared; here, he's in Seekers into the Mystery mode: leaden, earnest and dreadfully dull, cornstalk women notwithstanding. My main interest was in the Ploog art; I always loved his stuff on various Marvel books in the mid-70's, but it appears he's given in to DitkoAparoKirbyitis by the Aughts- his art just isn't as facile and assured as it used to be (after all, who really is?) and if not for the heavy Photoshoppery would be awfully mediocre. Kinda reminds me of the 80's Marvel/Epic Weirdworld stuff, which he and John Buscema did. I'm sure some will love this and think it's high fantasy of the first order, but I'm sorry to report I'm not one of them. C+

S: Jason McNamara; A: Tony Talbert (AiT/PlanetLar, $12.95)

Not-bad not-great tale of a girl in a future society whose dreams literally come true, which kinda feels padded and stretched-out but is solid enough to hold your interest all the way until the more-upbeat-than-I-expected end. Unfortunately, it's illustrated by a fellow who's not quite ready for prime-time yet and whose work reminds me of Tom Sutton drawing lefthanded with a Sharpie- and it kinda sank the whole thing as far as I was concerned. Still, as someone who takes months to get up the sand to do a single doodle on a 4x6 pad of paper, I have to take my hat off to Mr. Talbert, who has crammed an awful lot of work- an awful lot- into this lengthy story and while I would advise him to work on his backgrounds, buildings, panel borders and machinery, not to mention his spatial perspective, I commend him for his efforts and encourage him to keep at it because once in a while, there's a panel or a page that makes me stop and think that he might be someone to watch someday. We shall see, I guess. C+

S: Brian Wood; A: Riccardo Burchielli (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

I suppose I must have bought into this scenario (which still doesn't make a lot of sense, even after this issue's kinda-sorta explanation) a lot more wholeheartedly than I thought, because after a dodgy start, I've begun to get more and more interested in this title, especially the welfare of lead Matty, who hasn't always been the most likeable protagonist out there. So while I'm still a bit dubious that an nutjob militia cult uprising in Montana could lead to the occupation of New York, I'm invested enough to want to see where Mr. Wood will take it. See? I'm not so hard to please, am I. B+

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Dylan Teague, Val Semeiks, Dan Green (DC, $2.99)

Gosh, Val Semeiks. Where the heck did he come from? Anyway, he joins with Teague to provide surprisingly consistent artwork in another strong story about the trouble caused when Jonah runs into an old acquaintance who's being pursued by a vengeful mob-or is he? Nice dramatics throughout, and Graymiotti have a really good handle on Hex by now, so I dare say that this book is on a roll, even after losing their regular artist. A-

S: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi; A: Guy Davis (Dark Horse, $2.99)

The back-and-forth between Kate Corrigan and her unpleasant supernatural captor, with whom she's trying to barter a way to bring Roger the homunculus back to life, is a highlight of this excellent chapter of the ongoing B.P.R.D. saga. No less fascinating is this issue's spotlight on Johann, the ghost in the containment suit, who spins a sad tale about how he fell in unrequited love with a woman's ghost back in his medium days. All of this is drawn in typically outstanding fashion by Davis, who's sneaky good. Still perhaps the best B.P.R.D. yet. A

S: Steven Seagle; A: Becky Cloonan (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Becky Cloonan's art remains the highlight of this book, which just hasn't settled into any sort of a recognizable tone yet- it's to sincere to be cynical, too serious to be parody or satire, too talky to be an action thriller and too prone to throw in a reality-defying scene like the one that takes up the back end of this story to be taken seriously. We also get one of the most transparent and clumsily-handled infodumps in quite a while at the beginning. Very inconsistent, and that's too bad for Cloonan, who deserves a better showcase for her talents. And that final scene- oy. One of the fellows who may be responsible for the death of lead character Adam Chamberlain's girlfriend's brutal death while in Africa is told to go to a tall bridge and dangle from a rope hung from the he won't be seen. Say what? I don't know about you, but the first thing I'd notice if I was passing by a bridge is that someone is dangling from it on a rope, which by all appearances is way to short for a safe drop onto any boat. Then on top of that, the angry Adam climbs down the rope, and the two have a lengthy, and ultimately violent, confrontation. Now I don't know about you guys, but I'm having my doubts that it's all that easy to hand from a rope like that for any length of time, especially the time it took for this exchange to take place. It's all very dramatic, but let's just say that I'm skeptical. Rope burns, gravity, weight, you know. Anyway, this wasn't a deal-breaker- I'm hanging on to see what happens when Adam finds out the truth about his late ex, which seems to be pretty obvious to everyone except him, and because I kinda have developed a small fanman crush on sister Cyndi. There, I said it. B+

100 BULLETS 73
S: Brian Azzarello; A: Eduardo Risso (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Another solid chapter in this ongoing saga. This consistently declined to go in the direction that I expected it to, and I tend to like that in my graphic narratives. As always, Not a Good Jumping On Point for New Readers. THIS is.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

My son came in this afternoon bearing a copy of the new CD by the group Keane, which is titled Under the Iron Sea, and laid it down next to the computer while he went off to do something else. My eye was immediately drawn to the striking cover, which is actually a six-panel foldout booklet that displays an amazing tableau by a young Finnish artist named Sanna Annuka. Great googley-moogley, this is an incredible illustration- and I wish that I could share a website or something with you so you could see more of her work but she doesn't have one yet. Nor does the site we're pointed to in this interview, even though it claims that her work is displayed there. This art dealer's site has some of her work on display, but they're smallish photographs of the pictures on easels. You can click to see them bigger, but they're still small. Oh well. The Keane website has some downloadable desktop images from the CD cover, however, so I took the liberty of downloading three of them and posting them here for your perusal. I will have to keep an eye out for her future efforts, no doubt. Beautiful.

The music? Yeah, I listened to it, but it sounded like U2 imitating Coldplay or vice versa, produced by Wayne Coyne. Listenable, but uninteresting. Your mileage will most likely vary.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Good news, everyone!

No, really!

Apparently, according to the NY Post, Comedy Central has greenlighted new episodes of FUTURAMA!

Hey, it has to be true if it's in the newspaper, right? Even the Post!

How this affects the previously announced DVD movies is uncertain (to me, anyway) but this is glad tidings indeed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

At long last, the barely anticipated but much referenced (by me, anyway) final installment of

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Sorry about taking so long between posts; one thing leads to another, and you know how it goes. Anyways, here's the first part, featuring issues 1 and 2, and the second, featuring issues 3 and 4.

I gotta tell you before we get started, that this fifth issue is one seriously loopy comic book, crammed full of all sorts of freewheeling nuttiness. The obvious inspiration for all this was Erich Von Daniken's hugely-popular-at-the-time Chariots of the Gods, which posited that we were descended from, or created by, extraterrestrial science...and it spawned several sequels and documentaries and so on, with many of these ideas becoming a staple of Science Fiction films, books and TV. Anyway, onward.

When last we left our hero, he and his companions had just engaged in mortal conflict with none other than Dracula himself, or Vlad Tepes the Impaler anyway. After Vladdy Daddy's hash got settled, BW continued on in his quest to find the magic Zumak fruit (in combination with the giant serpent's venom, which he drank in #3. Perhaps together they created the noxious substance known as Zima. But I digress.) that would give him enough strength to defeat Grendel and end the misery at Castle Hrothgar.

The story opens with the company trudging across the desert and coming upon some nicely intact standing stones, as in the ones at Stonehenge. BW even helpfully references this fact. As they speculate about the origins of the weird stones, they're suddenly surprised by the appearance of a sliver-garbed high priestess and her Druid henchmen! Typically, Wulfy attacks but is soon dismayed to find that they have sword-melting and force-beam wielding powers. Still, the band battles on as Unferth seeks a place to hide, but only succeeds in finding a huge spaceship ("...the Gods have descended to Earth!") and the presumed male companion to the Priestess. When he realizes that Beowulf is who they want, he quickly strikes a deal with the extraterrestrial, and sneaks up behind BW, who has managed to defeat one of the "Druids" by taking his sword (which was shown to be dissolved only a page or two earlier, oops) and jamming it between his arms, making a connection and causing his foe, who is now exposed as having some sort of wristband circuitry, to short-circuit. That darn Unferth cold-cocks BW from behind- and when he awakes, he and Nan-zee find themselves on the spaceship, unwilling guests of the spacemen.

The priestess gives the pair a tour of the ship, and provides some convenient exposition: She reveals that they were chosen to capture specimens of Earth's heroes for the scientists of their world, and were set up as gods to the Druids, who help them with their hero-gathering. They are shown the "Chamber of the Sleepers", where their subjects remain frozen for transport to another planet. The priestess also arranges for a little demonstration, as she blasts the area of the stones with a destructive beam, which apparently atomizes everyone- Druids (who have "served their purpose"), Wiglaf, Shaper, Sydriit and Unferth, too. But somehow, the Company has managed to escape unharmed. Unfortunately, before they can confront Unferth about what he did, they're set upon once more and overcome by a mysterious band of strangers. And that's all we will get from the Wulfy's posse this issue.

Back on the ship, the quite understandibly pissed off Beowulf tries to attack the Priestess, stating for the record that nothing will stop him in his quest to get the Zumak fruit- to which the evil spacelady replies that they have already harvested it all, and there is none left! This drives BW into a frenzy, and he breaks loose, kicking Druid ass (some apparently made it to the ship) and destroying large hunks of machinery...and waking the sleepers in the process. They quickly thaw as BW battles on, and he leads them to revolt against their extraterrestrial captors, and dispatching the Priestess as well. You know, killing her. After the dust has settled, one of the sleepers approaches BW and reveals himself to be none other than HERCULES! Herk thanks him for releasing them, then informs him that there is indeed some Zumak left, on the island of Crete. Then, they look through the viewscreen and see that they are flying over ATLANTIS! BW hatches a plan (and really, not much of a plan)- they will forcibly land the ship in the "advanced city" of Atlantis, and make their way from there. But, they are interrupted in their plotting by the "real" alien masters, named Ishtar and En-Lil, who don't appreciate BW mucking up their ship. Wulfy disarms one of them (almost literally- he bites his arm!), and fires upon the controls of the spaceship- and as the aliens strive to regain control, the captives leap out of the burning ship as it hurtles through the sky, over a smoldering volcano, and manage to land on the ground intact...just as Atlantis is racked with tremors and begins its legendary trip to the bottom of the ocean! BW, Nan-zee and Hercules manage to secure a raft and set sail just as the volcano erupts and Atlantis crumbles. They then drift for what we're told is several days, until they are interrupted by none other than the Goddess Athena, who whisks Hercules away to resume his destiny, and leaves BW and Nan in the lurch. Which is where this nutball issue ends. But things get even nuttier next issue!

For this, the final issue, artist Ricardo Villamonte was on hand for inks only as DC's all-purpose artist of the 70's, Ric Estrada, did the pencilling honors. Estrada on his own had a loose, cartoony style which on its own wouldn't have fit this book at all, especially given the fine job his predecessor did in the previous five issues...but fortunately, Villamonte was able to provide finishes and this story's art didn't suffer too much for it, except for the occasional flat pose or odd facial expression. Who can say if this would have just been a fill-in, or if Ricardo already knew the book was dead and was starting another project...we'll never know.

So, as #6 begins, BW and Nan are still adrift on the raft, approaching the island of Crete- but Satan sends a storm which destroys their vessel and almost drowns them in a whirlpool...but because of dumb luck, and the need to fill the next 16 or so pages, the couple survive and are carried ashore by the tide, unconscious. Next, we see what has happened to the rest of the company, who was set upon and captured by unnamed warriors of indistinct nationality. Turns out their captors are, as the helpful caption says, the "Yondo sect of the T'ang (settle down, Beavis) tribe in the land of Pikadon". Unfortunately, they are drawn to look exactly the same as the Hebrew Asher tribe, with flowing robes, turbans and pointy chin-whiskers, so I suppose there was a breakdown in communications there. Wiglaf cooks up a plan- he tells one of the Yondos that the Shaper will grant a request of magic for them if they let them go free. The warrior is agreeable, but the Shaper stubbornly refuses to use his abilities to amuse others. He changes his mind after a bit of friendly persuasion (in the form of armlocks and piling on) from the rest of the company, and stating "Ydnic d'nabob egairram yppah", he turns reality upside down inside the cave where they're standing, and with a command of "Kertrats noem rofmoor erehtsi!" turns it right side up again. This understandibly dismays and frightens the Yondos, who eagerly set Wiglaf, Sydriit, and Unferth free...but insist the Shaper stay with them. Reluctantly, they agree after Shapey reassures them that he will be all right, and "will be in Daneland before (them)", which he proves as he fades away as soon as the company is out of sight, much to the chagrin of the Yondos.
Back now to BW and Nan, as they come to on the beach of an unknown island, which is of course Crete. They realize that either his diety Wyrd or enemy Satan have caused this to happen, but they are determined to press on anyway. As they explore inland, they encounter a aged beggar who calls himself the "Peeper" who offers to lead them to the maze which has the Zumak fruit tree in its center.

Meanwhile, in Hell, Satan is hatching some evil schemes with his new right-hand-man, Dracula- whom you'll recall was taken away by the devil at the end of #4. Grendel's mom overhears their conversation, and runs back to her monstrous son, telling him that he must act quickly or he'll never get his rightful due as heir to Hell. Grendy rationalizes that Satan is afraid of him now, and he won't stand for it- he stalks off, snapping off a stalactite as he advances, just in time to hear Satan instructing Dracula to go to Castle Hrothgar in the form of a bat (one of his new powers) and indulge in a little good old-fashioned bloodletting. Grendel advances...and...

We go back to Beowulf and Nan-zee, as they arrive at the maze with the Peeper. Peeps opens a secret entrance in the wall, and as BW and Nan go inside, he slams it shut, locking them in the maze! It is then revealed that the Peeper is no old beggar at all, but is really the Slave Maid of Satan, who we met back in issue #2! They press on, and encounter the maze's sole occupant- the legendary Minotaur of Crete, who's guarding the Zumak tree and is not in a sociable mood. BW engages him in desperate combat, and barely holds his own, and things go from bad to worse as Satan takes a hand and boosts the Minotaur's strength to superhuman levels. Things are looking grim for BW, to the point where Satan sits on his throne and ponders whether to kill him at that moment or wait until he gets back to Daneland...when suddenly, Grendel strikes and effing stabs Satan with the stalactite, KILLING HIM! What the f-?! Anyway, Grendy proclaims himself the new King of the Underworld, and prepares for Dracula's return.

Meanwhile, robbed of Satan's energy boost, Beowulf rallies against his suddenly weakened and reeling foe and presses the attack until he vanquishes him. He is then free to eat the Zumak fruit, which instantly heals his wounds and boosts his strength to higher levels than ever before, which enables him to break down the maze wall and walk off into the sunset with Nan-Zee, swearing vengeance for his murdered comrade Hondscio and the others.

Which we never got to see, along with any of the other dangling plot threads, because this, friends, is where the saga of DC's version of Beowulf ended, with its abrupt cancellation. In the 30 plus years since the last issue was on the stands, it has remained mostly forgotten and overlooked, except for a small group of fans who read it and enjoyed it back in the day. This series wasn't perfect- sometimes the humor and action-adventure didn't mix as well as you'd like, and sometimes the internal logic of the story wasn't as tight as it could have been. But for my money, it hit a lot more than it missed and at its best was a downright enthralling mix of high spirits and high adventure, and I for one wish it could have had half as many issues as the vastly inferior and inexplicably more popular Warlord did.

Thanks for your patience as I finally batted this out, and by all means let me know what you think!

Well, it's like this y'see...tonight was gonna be THE night. The night I put the whole Beowulf thing to bed. But, problem is, Mrs. B. is going to Seattle for a week with her family tomorrow, and there was a lot of stuff to do to help her out, including a favor for my youngest sister-in-law: loading her Creative Zen iPod thingy with tunes. So, I'm now about 3/4 finished with the third part of my long-delayed Dragon Slayer spotlight, but it's way too late to finish it now so instead I will pass on a slightly less delayed BSBdG to Mr. BRIAN WILSON, who celebrated his 64th yesterday. I would like to post a list of my favorite Beach Boys tunes, and maybe I will someday, but not tonight- I mean this morning- whatever. The bed is beckoning, so good night. Or morning. Or...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Birthday greetings and a bottle of wine for good old PAUL McCARTNEY, who celebrates his 64th today.

And in keeping with the "When I'm 64" theme, which I really hope I'm not belaboring (Tom), here's 64 things you should know about Paul McCartney.

Last year, on the occasion of his 63rd, I posted a list of my favorite Macca solo songs, and here it is, if you'd like to refresh your memory.

One more thing about that Sgt. Pepper cut- when I first heard it as an 8-year-old, it always amused me that he mentioned the grandchildren: Vera, Chuck, and DAVE.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Well, crap. I just read, in Jeff Parker's final piece in CBR on Agents of Atlas, that they went and killed Namorita in Marvel's latest multi-issue tempest-in-a-teapot Civil War thing.

This makes me a bit sad, and I don't really have a good reason for it- hell, in the 34 years since I first came to like the character as a 12-year-old, many, many writers without an iota of the talent Bill Everett had have done a million and one convoluted, contrived, and many other adjectives that don't start with con- things to the character and it hasn't bothered me. They even tried to make her a mutant. Jesus wept. And for all I know, they'll come up with an equally contrived way of bringing her (or any of those "dead" characters) back.

I guess it's just a little further lamenting for 12-year-old me, who fades away a little bit more every year.

(x-posted from the LJ)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

In which I consider and comment upon various works of sequential fiction I have perused, weeks of May 22 - June 12.

S: Warren Ellis; A: Stuart Immonen. (Marvel, $2.99)

Five issues in, and I'm beginning to wonder exactly what Mr. Ellis hopes to accomplish with this ultra-slick and ultra-superficial exercise in superheroics. Sure, it's fun to read because it's rarely dull, and Warren throws in the occasional deadpan chuckle to keep things varied. For sheer entertainment, it gets the job done and is better than much of the product that hoes this particular row. But I'm beginning to get a bit of an "Alan Moore writing Spawn" feel about this, like he's slumming and/or spinning his wheels, and that foments reader restlessness. At least with this particular reader, anyway. The sinking feeling that he's exercising his cynicism at our expense also pops up, way back there in the distance, but getting stronger. As far as art goes, Immonen continues to emulate Simonson, to no great effect one way or the other. B-

S: Mike Carey; A: Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

In this penultimate issue (that word again, penultimate), it's ladies night, and the feelin's right. Or something like that. New God-with-a-capital-G Elaine Belloc decides, before ascending into all-encompassing omniscience (or as Jim Starlin once put it, "Cosmic Awareness"), decides to assemble all the female characters (with the exception of Lady Lys) for a drink and to ostensibly say goodbye, as well as to perhaps shape a destiny or two in the process. One thing that has gotten kinda overlooked about this title in its almost-complete run is how it has always featured a varied and strong female cast, from the very beginning- and yes, I know that Jill Presto was forcibly, if magically, impregnated (raped, if you will)- but it wasn't designed to spur a male character into action, unless you count self-defense on Lucifer's part as proaction- from loyal and fierce Mazikeen and impetuous, headstrong Jill all the way till Lilith in the final epic, and they get a warm and nicely done curtain call here. Gross and Kelly are back on the art once again, and they do a fine job as well. I'll never be a Gross fan, but through sheer repetition if nothing else I've come to accept his particular vision for the book- and it could have been much worse. As always, how much you enjoy this particular issue will increase proportionally with how long you've been reading this series. A

S: Brian Wood; A: Ryan Kelly. (Oni, $2.99)

This one kinda threw me for a loop; after four issues of Megan, and getting to like her despite her issues and quirks, then Wood goes and gives us a Megan who, while working at an old movie house, messes with the patrons by assuming different names and personalities until she's confronted by one guy who refuses to buy the subterfuge. This is creepy, pathetic, almost psychotic behavior, and while perfectly valid from a dramatic/storytelling viewpoint, kinda makes me wonder exactly why I should care about anything in this book if he's going to try this hard to make the most identifiable character dislikable. Not exactly a good way to engender reader em- or sym-pathy, for sure. Still, on its own terms, I was engaged by the tale as I kept plowing forward to see exactly what was going on with Meg, and of course, the story was resolved, although no explanation why she had developed this new personality kink was forthcoming. Which is just frustrating, and that's a first for me with this title. B

S: Antony Johnston; A: Christopher Mitten. (Oni B&W preview)

As post-apocalyptic High Plains Drifter-meets-Mad Max-esque scenarios go, this one's not bad- mostly setup and character introduction, and the requisite trial by fire to goose the plot to its next point. Artist Mitten uses a bit more (excuse the expression) gritty style on this than I'm used to seeing from him, and it does pay off as he does a solid job. For me, he's kinda like Peter Gross lite- I'll never be a fan, but his work gets the story told and that's sometimes enough. Depending on where Johnston takes this, this has potential to be pretty good. B

S: Douglas Rushikoff; A: Peter Gross, Gary Erskine (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Boobies! Blue ones! Lots of 'em!

...what?! You were expecting cogent commentary on a book I lost interest in three months ago, and only got because it was too late to drop it from my DCBS order? HA! D+

S/A: A veritable plethora of artists and writers, El Guapo. (DC, $19.99)

You know the drill with this, the successor to Bizarro Comics: a host of indie creators has a go at DC's stable to varying effect. Some are brilliant, some are less so. Good old Evan Dorkin writes several of these, but not my favorite- a funny tale of Kamandi, that he draws from someone named John Krewson. I'd pay good money to read a Dorkin Kamandi. Bizarro Comics introduced me to Ellen Forney's work as well; she's back with an amusing Wonder Woman-as-a-pimply-teenager tale to compliment her previous Wonder Woman-as-poetry-slammer story. And holy mackanoley- after saying, ever since Superf*ckers, that I'd love to read a James Kochalka Legion of Super-Heroes story, we get that very thing- and it's kinda lightweight but still very good. If I tried to list everything in this volume I liked, I'd be typing into the weekend...but here are a few others: Paul Grist on the Flash, as well as a neat opera-themed Batman story illustrated by Hunt Emerson in his best Sergio Aragones style; Mike Doughty and Danny Hellman on Aquaman's new career as an open stage singer-guitarist, something I can certainly relate to; Paul DiFillipi and Derek Kirk Kim giving us possibly the best Deadman tale in 20 years; some deft Bob Fingerman cartooning on a Batman story- I really liked his R'as Al Ghul and Joker; and a nice turn on the Justice League by Raina Telegmeier. Andi Watson with a French gentleman Batman, Kyle Baker on Alfred shopping for a new car for Master Bruce...nearly everything works. There are few sour notes struck even though sometimes there's a slight smirk present throughout. As with the first one, the chief pleasure lies in seeing people like Telegmeier or Dave Cooper playing in DC's sandbox. Don't know how many more of these they can get away with, but I enjoyed this one as much as I did the first, perhaps even a bit more. A-

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Khari Evans, Palmiotti (Marvel, $2.99)

It's rare when a miniseries gets better instead of worse during the course of its run, so I guess we should enjoy it while we can- the scenarios are developing without getting contrived or convoluted; the ladies' personalities are handled very well, with some good back and forth banter, nicely handled dramatics, just the right amount of action, and Evans/Palmiotti have settled into a groove on art doing wonderfully on those action scenes and not getting too carried away with the arch-back posing trap. Sometimes this is even laugh-out-loud funny, as in the case of the holes in the wall behind Misty's bed, courtesy of Danny Rand. This comic has turned out to be the equivalent of some late-night B-movie action thriller that is better than it ought to be; I dare say it's the best spandex wallow this side of Manhunter and it's better drawn. A-

S: Javier Grillo-Marxauch; A: Les McClain (Viper Comics, $2.95)

The finale of the second miniseries, and it's good fun despite a somewhat jarring turn towards drama at the end- guess JGM is just trying to mix things up a bit. Oh well, no harm, no foul. McClain's art is as facile and solid as ever; in the hands of a lesser illustrator this would be small beer indeed. Entertaining, but not jaw-dropping; I think the next miniseries will be the make-or-breaker. B+

S: Keith Giffen; A: Kody Chamberlain (Boom!, $3.99)

Thinner with zombies instead of gypsies. This is effective and moving, however, because Giffen pays attention to the little everyday things as he enables us to empathize with a man who has apparently had a living death curse inflicted upon him, and how it affects what's left of his life, including his failed relationship with a woman who winds up getting involved in his predicament anyway despite breaking up with him just prior to the fateful tagging. One saving grace is its brevity; at three issues, we're led to believe that we'll get a good exploration of the situation and a presumed resolution...but that's never a given with comics these days. Chamberlain's art is grubby and appropriately dank; I believe it will grow on me. Gotta give Boom! credit; they keep coming up with novel and interesting zombie approaches, even though I am firmly on record as saying that I never want to read another zombie story again as long as I live. If I get tagged, however...look out! B+

S: Brian Michael Bendis; A: Michael Avon Oeming (Marvel/Icon, $2.95)

Another installment of this well-crafted entertainment that will captivate those who have emotionally invested themselves in this title since its inception or thereabouts, and others will wonder what all the fuss is. Unless they are understandibly captivated by Oeming's always excellent art. A-

S: Denise Mina; A: Leo Manco (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

For the first time since Mina took over, I found myself engrossed in the storyline, which involves Constantine s-l-o-w-l-y heading towards a confrontation with some wizard of something who has inflicted an empathy curse on someone, which JC has assumed upon himself for reasons which escape me at present. And it's somewhat telling that even though I was actively engaged with this issue, a few days later I had to page through it again to remember what had happened in it. B

S: Ed Brubaker; A: Michael Lark, Steven Gaudiano (Marvel, $2.99)

Usually when we get Wolverine or Punisher cameos, it's to goose interest in a lagging title. I don't know if this is the case with Daredevil, which is (I suppose) doing OK sales-wise...but once more Brubaker shows his chops by working Punny into his otherwise less-than-fresh Murdock-in-prison tale and glory be, it enhances and works with the flow, rather than against it...and succeeds in enlivening what, for me anyway, has been a well-done if unexciting iteration of the only thing that practically any writer can think of to do with ol' Hornhead- you know, KinigpinBenUrichElektraBlackWidowBullseye blah blah blah. It's not a good thing when I'm actually happy to see the lackluster likes of Hammerhead playing a somewhat prominent role. I will say that I think Lark and Gaudiano's art is looking better here than on the last several issues of Gotham Central. B+

S/A: "Gilgrim" (Slave Labor, $2.95)

Scooby-Doo for the Goth set, I suppose, or Young Justice even...or the Little Gloomy crew as adolescents. It's OK, and "Gilgrim" (better than "Gilgamesh", I suppose, or "Gilthorp") acheives some nicely done (almost abstract) layouts and blackspotting. This isn't the worst thing I've ever read, but it's not all that great either; I'm sure there's room for improvement if Gil is allowed to keep at it. Understand that while I do appreciate certain aspects of that Goth vibe, I'm just not the intended audience for this, and adjust your expectations similarly. C+

MUWAH-HA-HA! Done at last! But wait- I just got a package from Boom! today, as well as my DCBS more is forthcoming, including Superf*ckers 3 (I'll tell ya right now, it's A material) and Gypsy Comics Justice League Unlimited 22. So is Beowulf. This time I mean it.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Attention, comics shoppers!

Got an email the other day announcing a kind of Froogle for comics called, in which you type in a particular comic book you're looking for, and it gives you results from several different online merchants. I test drove it myself the other day, and while it didn't find everything I entered in, it did find a copy of House of Secrets #123, and if I had any extra money right now I'd score a copy. And Mike Sterling, if you're reading this, I still want that House of Mystery, but I can't spare the pittance Ralph needs just now. Sad but true.
Watched the first disc of the 1989 TV movie, or "mini"series, or whatever you call it, Lonesome Dove last night. If you like to watch good actors act, really ply their trade, then you'll want to see this. Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones are absolutely perfect throughout, even though Jones is made up to look like Kenny Rogers to amusing effect. Also on hand and giving good perf are a young Diane Lane, Chris Cooper, Danny Glover, and Strange Luck's D.B. Sweeney, although they get overshadowed a bit. It's far from perfect- scenes with evil half-breed badass "Blue Duck" and a pack of relentlessly overacting lowlives are often unintentionally ludicrous, although I suppose I'd be surly too if someone named me Blue Duck...there are a couple of amazingly stereotypical Irishmen jammed in there as well, and if a lot of the situations they get into seem a bit cliched, I suppose it's just the influence on subsequent films and TV series that this hugely popular Western had 17 years ago. Anyway, I have yet to see the second disc, so I'll withhold further judgment until I've seen the whole thing...just wanted to share.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

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RIP Jack ("Jaxon") Jackson, one of the very best of the original underground comics creators.

Here's a complete story someone posted on scans_daily; it's a great example of his work but beware- it's strong stuff and not for the squeamish.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Just when you thought it was safe to surf the Comics Blogosphere's THE BACARDI SHOW NEW COMICS REVUE!
What I purchasated and what I...what I...cogitated, May 22-June 8- and some may still be available in stores!

S/A: Bryan Lee O'Malley. (Oni Press, $11.95)

Ah, it is finally among us. Someday, aging hipsters everywhere will be able to sit in the park and say to each other "Where were you when Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness came out? Why, I remember as if it was only yesterday!" I can think of few books in recent memory that have been more anticipated at such a high level. And the good news is, it's mostly worth the wait- especially if you liked the first two chapters, because it's of a kind with them as O'Malley puts all his young characters through the same bizarre paces in their one-foot-in-reality, one-foot-in-geek-culture-paradise world. It works so well because it dares to zig when you think it's going to zag- Mal switches from a reminisce (by Ramona, about one of the seven evil boyfriends that our hero must face to win her love) grounded in the here and now to showing said boyfriend flying up to the Moon and punching a hole in it to prove his devotion, all with a straight face and the merest suggestion of a wink as he does so. And this willingness to be playful in his narrative is what makes these books, I believe, so enjoyable and just plain ol' fun- you never know what's going to happen next, and it's presented so skillfully and without pretense that you can't help but enjoy it. It's not flawless- sometimes he skips from scene to scene a little abruptly, and once or twice I thought that perhaps some of those scenes should have been played out to some sort of logical conclusion- but obviously logic and linearity aren't really a priority with what he's trying to do. And he's doing it pretty darn well, if you ask me. A-

S: Tommy Kovack; A: Sonny Liew. (Slave Labor Graphics/Disney, $3.50)

Here's a great example of how outstanding art can make even the most lackluster comics scripts better. Story-wise, this is a pleasant enough but utterly unremarkable account of a young Wonderland cleaning-girl (herself a fanatical clean-freak, apparently, almost OCD) who has to deal with the aftermath of Alice's recent sojourn in the Disney version of Carroll's world. Seems that Tweedledee and Tweedledum have accused the White Rabbit of treason to the head-cutting Queen of Hearts, and the cleaning girl (Named Mary Ann) gets implicated by being at the Rabbit's house at the time the accusations are made. Decent idea, lackluster execution- but this is where Sonny Liew steps in and makes a silk purse out of this particular sow's ear by providing some amazingly expressive and imaginative visuals, full of vigor and fun- and it elevates the whole comic into the realm of something special in the process. I've always thought, from the first time I saw his work over Marc Hempel's pencils on My Faith in Frankie, that Liew was a talent to watch- and here he proves it. A-

S: Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski; A: Paul Azaceta (Boom! Studios, $3.99)

Most people are comparing this to Lost, which I don't watch so I'll have to take their word for that- I?m reminded more of an earlier attempt at weird thriller-type TV called John Doe. Like Doe, we have a fellow who emerges from a catastrophe displaying supernormal abilities- in this case, a man survives 12 hours underwater in a downed aircraft (but of course, we know that something happened which got him out of there until he was discovered) and soon thereafter realizes that he's suddenly developed extra-sensory abilities, not only channeling the memories of his flight-mates on the ill-fated airplane, but also those of an federal investigator named Krause, who suspects him of terrorism but also reports to a sinister Santa Claus lookalike Cardinal, who wants him dead so that his story won't be interpreted as a miracle. You remember, just like Stigmata. So while this all has its definite precedents, it is assembled skillfully and I believe that this will be an interesting mystery to unravel over the course of the next few issues. I like Azaceta's artwork here as well- it's the spitting image of work by John Paul (Wintermen) Leon or Tommy Lee (The Question) Edwards, and that's a style I like. Another strong offering from the Boom!ers. Update 6/9: And now I see where this property's rights have been obtained by Universal Pictures. Saw that one coming a mile away...A-

S: Rob Vollmar; A: Pablo G. Callejo (NBM, $8.95)

I was happy for the opportunity to finally get up to speed on this series, having read book two first. Many of the plot threads which had kinda eluded me before made a lot more sense, and enhanced my appreciation of the situation, which is dire indeed for titular bluesguy Lem Taylor. Vollmar does a great job of establishing the personalities of not only Lem, but his partner "Ironwood" Malcott, and it gives this chapter's violent climax a lot more resonance- it's not easy to make the reader care about characters so early in the narrative, and even having read the next chapter already I was shocked by what happened. I still have the same reservations about the art, however; Callejo strives for a Crumbian look and feel, but his character drawings are a little too crude and cartoonish, and it undermines a lot of the drama that Vollmar's trying to get across- plus it still bugs me that he draws and shades his caucasians almost exactly the same as he does everybody else, and it takes me right out of the flow when I have to stop and figure out who's who and what's what. In a story which is in a large measure about race relations, this is a serious disadvantage, I would think. It's not such a problem in book one, simply because there aren't as many no one else seems to be having this problem, so I guess you can take it as you will. Anyway, while Callejo's art is a distraction, it's still strong enough in a storytelling sense that it doesn't sabotage Vollmar's intent. Make no mistake- while flawed, this is still an engrossing read and I look forward to the next book in the series. A-

S: Robert Venditti; A: Brett Weldele (Top Shelf, $2.95)

I'm a little late with this one, I know- I was hoping to get a comp from Top Shelf, and when I didn't, I almost forgot about it until I ran across a copy for a buck at my comics shop. Glad I did- I was very impressed by the first four issues, and was really looking forward to the conclusion...and I wasn't disappointed. A really sharp and smart look at a number of things including human nature and overdependence on technology, all dressed up in Philip Dick pajamas. And wonder of wonders, Venditti gives us a somewhat ambiguous ending that really worked. I also liked the sloppy but solid art by Weldele; reminiscent of the likes of Mazzuchelli or Von Eeden, with a hint of retro Krigstein. I hope, if you weren't getting the singles, that you'll get the upcoming trade. You won't be sorry. A

S: Michael Alan Nelson; A: Chee. (Boom! $2.99)

I'm sorry, but even though I know many of my comics blogosphere brethren are a lot more favorably disposed towards this umpteenth rehash of Welles' story, I just can't get with the program. Survivors of the Martian attack trudge along on a drearily gray journey to some destination (which, if it was mentioned, I've forgotten) and have intermittent violent encounters with big sterile plastic-looking Martians, and of course a lot of interpersonal soap-operatics when they're not. I find this tedious and uninvolving, and that's something that's thankfully been rare in Boom! offerings so far. C

S: Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis; A: Joe Abraham (Boom!, $3.99)

Even though this is mostly made up of talk talk talk talk talk and more talk, at least it's witty, interesting talk as only Giffen and DeMatteis can provide, which kinda makes it jarring when we get about four silent pages at the end...but hey, it's OK- they're just showing that they have more than one color in their crayon box. This remains an outstanding, entertaining series, surely the flagship of the Boom! fleet. A-

S: Scott Lobdell; A: Dustin Nguyen (DC/Wildstorm, $2.99)

Fair-to-middling space opera, striving for a Battlestar Galactica vibe, sporting poor dialogue by Lobdell and sloppy, confusing art by Nguyen, who apparently can't get enough of that Photoshop filters palette. There are some interesting characters buried somewhere within, and as space operas go this certainly seems like it's ambitious enough...but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully it will get better soon. Never again do I want to hear my distinguished senior military protagonist say "We am what we am what we am" again...and I never want to hear, read, whatever, the word "jackcrud" from anyone. C+

S: Gail Simone; A: Brad Walker, Jimmy Palmiotti. (DC, $2.99)

As the saying goes, books cannot be judged by their covers, and here's proof positive. I kinda got suckered in by the first advance cover DC released; it looked distinctive and energetic, probably because (in what I suppose was a printing mistake) it was presented in reversed-out fashion, which actually enhanced its appeal. I pre-ordered based on that cover, and because I had read lots of good word-of-mouth around the Blogosphereiverse for this title's predecessor, Villains United- another Infinity spinoff which I declined to partake of. Plus, I had also managed to avoid the entire written career of Gail Simone, except for the Killer Princesses miniseries several years ago (I didn't like it, although Lea Hernandez' art was good) and I figured I was due to see what she was bringing to the table that had all the fanboys and girls raving. I soon discovered that what she brings to this picnic is McDonald's hamburgers. And not Quarter Pounders or Big Macs, either, but the basic generic burger, with cheese. This is product, pure and simple- slick and designed to appeal to the lowest-common-denominator, with no fanbuttons left unpunched. No room for spontaneity or cleverness; we have bad guys and badder guys to introduce and set in their places so they can fight and snark and do all the things that mainstream modern spandex comic book characters are supposed to do. It's efficient but uninspired- and while I can see why less demanding readers might embrace this as comfort food (I'm guilty of this with Manhunter, I fear), it just made me weary. Not helping is penciller Walker, who strives earnestly for a Tim Sale-via-Rags Morales look (which is the apparent house style DC wants these days) but doesn't have the chops to do anything but give us blandness. It's not that these creators don't have talent, and I'm sure they're convinced that they're turning out good comics...but I'm afraid that my idea of good comics and this are very different. This is one Secret that probably shouldn't be shared. C-

S: Earl MacRauch, Joe Gentile; A: Steven Thompson, Keith Williams. (Moonstone, $3.50)

Urgh. I'd rather take one of those little critters that Red Lectroids spit out right in my face than read this again. Between Gentile's hamfisted attempt to replicate the cockeyed MacRauch dialogue style and the convoluted plot which makes the film's look a masterpiece of clarity, along with the clumsy, stiff, wannabe-Steranko (but not even Gulacy or Gene Day level) illustration, this fails in almost every way. A real disappointment (not that I was expecting much), and I can't imagine even hardcore desperate-for-more-Buckaroo Blue Blazers (like me) embracing this. D

S: Pete Milligan; A: Nick Dragotta, Mike Allred (Marvel, $2.99)

Really, if you think about it, endings have never been Milligan's strong suit...and this is no exception. Too pat and regrettably resolved by a standard comicbook punch-'em-up, the disappointment is that we were set up to expect something better. Not that this is terrible as a whole, mind you- there was still wit and cleverness to be found, and I was happy to see Doc Strange retain his dignity at the end of the day. While this may have settled for a honorable mention on the best-of '06 list, I enjoyed this mightily and hope Marvel can continue to find space in their schedule for the likes of this and Nextwave- stories which manage to mix adventure with humor, unencumbered by stagnating and hidebound continuity concerns. Aah, who am I kidding- this and Nextwave together probably won't sell half as much as the worst-selling Civil War issue. A- Entire series: A-.

More later! Including Tag 1, Middle Man Vol. 2 4, Wasteland 1, Nextwave: Agents of H.A.R.M. 5, and more.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

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More sad news: Billy Preston has passed away at age 59.

As someone who reveres not only the Beatles, for whom he played some of the most magnificent solos in their later years as a group (esp. on "Don't Let Me Down") but the Stones (with whom he recorded and toured for several years) as well, his place in music history will always be secure. His solo work was often excellent as well, especially the string of hit singles he had in the 70's like "Outa Space" and "Will It Go 'Round in Circles".

RIP, Mr. Preston.

Geez, I used to do birthdays, now it seems all I do is death notices. I'm sure Red Kelly will have something good later, and I'll link to it when he does.

Happy 666 Day, everybody!

Monday, June 05, 2006

I was reading the USA Today at lunch today, and happened to notice a small item that noted that former Tubes and Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick died Friday, an apparent suicide.

Most people these days think of him as the last Dead keyboardist, but me, I'll always remember him in the Tubes- a band that I liked very much back in the day. Not only did they have a wicked, perverse, and cynical sense of humor, but they were all excellent musicians and Welnick was certainly that. I was fortunate enough to see the Tubes on their 1981 Completion Backward Principle tour (never got to see the really weird shows, darn the luck), in which Welnick played, and several years later saw him play the keyboards for Todd Rundgren as he toured behind his Nearly Human album.

Sad news, and I hope it wasn't self-inflicted, although I won't cast aspersions on that account. RIP, Vince.
By the way, for some reason which eludes me except perhaps because my kids have them, I now have a MySpace page. If I do anything with it, I'll be amazed...but if you're on that site, and you'd like to friend me, I'd be honored and perhaps I might even put content there when we all least expect it.

What I really need to do is put more content here, I know. And I will, soon. This I swear, by the Hammer of Grabthar.
There's a new Johnny B's New Comics Revue up for your perusal at, in case you're interested. In it, I take a look at Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, Wonderland, Talent, and more.

Go forth, read, and comment in the appropriate places! And I'll have the aforementioned titles and some new ones as well (got my new DCBS box last Friday) coming soon.

Update: I also have FINALLY thought of a cool title for the column, and I'll reveal it later this month. It's true, I nicked part of it from something else, but geez, isn't it true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and creativity is the art of disguising your sources? And what is, at the end of the day, really, truly original these days, anyway?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Good news/bad news dept.:

Manhunter gets a stay of execution! While I don't think it's a perfect book by any stretch, the lead character has a certain odd charisma plus it's got Cameron Chase (boy I wish there had been a grassroots internet campaign when HER book got axed!) and lacks the dour, pretentious, too-concerned-with-continuity tone of many of its mainstream DCU brethren and sistren, so as a belated but committed convert this is great news as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully a second trade will be released someday to attract the wait-for-the-traders.

Not so good is the news that Marvel is reviving its Daimon Hellstrom character with a MAX miniseries that apparently has nothing to do with the superior Warren Ellis version of the mid-90's. The art looks especially bland and uninspired. I loved that Ellis run (and the earlier, 1970's run as Son of Satan in Marvel Spotlight as well as his own short-lived self-titled book), but this looks less promising to me than the Alan Davis Killraven revival, and you all probably remember how much I hated that one.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Yes, I'm going to post something new here eventually. Please bear with.