Tuesday, July 31, 2007


That semi-regular feature in which I opine upon various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted said opinions upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately 9 July to 23 July, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be.

100 BULLETS 84
S: Brian Azzarello; A: Eduardo Risso. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

The Standard Review: Another well-done issue what will engage the already engaged, baffle the uninitiated, and even baffle the initiated upon occasion. I think I'll just cut and paste this review for the next 16 issues. Kudos this time to Azzarello for confounding expectations in the resolution. Small brickbat to Risso for making one of the female characters look so much like cast member Dizzy Cordova that it took me a minute to realize what was going on. B+

S: Geoff Johns, Richard Donner; A: Adam Kubert. (DC, $2.99)

My first reaction to seeing this was "Is this storyline still going on?" It was, after all last December when I received an earlier chapter to review. It's incongruous that such a pretentious, dreary narrative should be tricked out with a 3-D passage; 3-D is a FUN gimmick, redolent of Saturday afternoon matineés back in the Eisenhower years- this is akin to having a casket decorated with a Hello Kitty motif or something. The gimmick itself is undermined by the choice to color all the scenes in a color that can best be described as "warm concrete"; an occasional shard of fractured reality or an arm or leg sticks out sometimes, but mostly it looks like mud and isn't helped by the decision not to 3D-ize the word balloons, making them hard to read. Kubert does a decent enough job on art; there's a nice dynamism to his figures and layouts that has the unfortunate effect of intensifying the melodramatics, which is the last thing it needs. Like I said before, this is not the Superman I want to read. Your mileage may vary. C+

S: Mark Waid; A: Karl Kerschl, Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund, Manuel Garcia, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Daniel Acuna. (DC, $2.99)

Pretty much a hodgepodge, featuring what seems to be a dozen different artists and designed to bridge the gap between the old Flash series and the new one. Most of the issue deals with the newly returned (from where I don't know) Wally West and his assumption of the Flash mantle once more, as well as his getting a measure of payback for the murder of Bart Allen; it's not exactly entertaining reading but then again its not supposed to be, is it? Out of the Legion of Comics Artists that are assembled, Kerschl stands out- his lively, streamlined art puts all the others involved to shame, and that includes Acuna, whose Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters art was I liked but sometimes had the tendency to devolve into murk, and that happens on his two-page spread here. Looks rushed. I must admit something straight up here; as indifferent as I am to the dreary dramatics of DC these days and the Flash character in general, I could totally see me getting the ongoing title because I like Kerschl's work here that much. Probably won't happen, but ya never know. Also on the art tip, the majority of the print run is graced with a beautiful Joshua Middleton cover and some with a variant: a nightmarishly bad Bill Sienkiewicz effort. Guess which one I got. I mean, that thing looks like he drew it lefthanded with his eyes closed after a half dozen tequila shots. B-

S: Grant Morrison; A: Frank Quitely. (DC, $2.99)

The conclusion of this two-part story disappoints somewhat, but I really can't put my finger on why. Grant's Zibarro character, a Bizarro with nobility, taste and intelligence as opposed to the rest of the moronic Bizarros whith whom he's forced to share a planet is valid enough, although if Grant is speaking through him then that's a bit more problematic, and the interaction between him and our Superman, turns out to be more engaging than you'd think. Perhaps I got a bit tired of all the slapstick; perhaps I'm just not inclined to like Bizarro stories in general, no matter how cleverly Grant spins them. I was gratified to see that the "Superman is dying" plot thread from the first couple of issues had not been forgotten; it hasn't been brought up lately. Quitely once more shines by developing the body english of all the characters so well; he's outstanding at bringing out all the subtleties that Morrison's scripts suggest. Gee, sounds like I found a lot to like after all, doesn't it? Which is why I always say that mediocre Morrison/Quitely is better than some creators' best work. B+

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

With the introduction of new, almost too-good-to-be-true character Vanessa, suddenly this scattershot story has found its focus, and for my money, this is the best issue yet. Set against the background of a fertility festival in Japan, there's a lot of social commentary and for once the humor works- the sight of Vanessa, her friend, and Adam sucking on penis-shaped popsicles is cheeky and funny, and there's a lot of humor in the bits devoted to East-West custom differences. If this is going to stay this good is anybody's guess, but for now I'm enjoying. B+

S: Rick Spears; A: "Chuck BB" (Oni B&W advance, $11.95)

Two black-clad, Metal-worshiping kids play the latest Frost Axe album (on vinyl! Yeah!) backwards, a portal opens, and they are given a mighty magical sword as they discover that they are the reincarnation of a demon lord named the Roth, who was killed by he evil Von Char and are charged with fulfilling the ancient prophecy of the Hell Baron and gain revenge! It's like Glenn Danzig, Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Plant and J.R.R. Tolkein collaborated on the third Bill and Ted movie. If this was done with a smirk, it would be unbearable, but Spears and Chuck play it completely straightfaced, and it's a hoot and a half- a fun and exciting Black Metal/D&D quest tale that rises above its origins and demonstrates a lot of love for not only the metal genre, but gaming and just the simple state of being a misfit teenager. It's more enjoyable than any five episodes of Metalocalypse you can name. Chuck BB's art helps a lot, it's all square chins and expressionism, reminding me of Marc Hempel or late '90s- early '00s Andi Watson, and it maintains a lively edge throughout, as at home with mundane scenes of mall shopping as it is with huge demonic battle scenes. I was really surprised by this one, folks. It's good. you should check it out. A

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

Appropriately apocalyptic finale to the whole "Garden of Souls" thing, which I do believe featured more weirdness per page than any previous Hellboy story. Arcudi is a writer who is often prone to blending into the woodwork on any given project. Here with Mignola, however, he's managed to blossom once more and bring some of that old Major Bummer mojo back into bear. Guess it's just a chemistry thing. Oh and once more with feeling: Guy Davis is a freaking genius. A-

S: Chris Wisnia; A: Wisnia and others. (Tabloia, $11.95)

More of Wisnia's hilarious tabloid-size sendups of those old Lee/Kirby/Ditko/Ayers giant monster sagas of yore, featuring at least one out-loud laugh per page. And if that's not enough, there are some absolutely outstanding pinups by some truly legendary names, usually preceded by "The Great...", like Russ Heath, John Severin, J.H. Williams III, "Shag", and a truly awe-inspiring and insanely detailed two-page spread of King Kong fighting the Tyrannosaurus by Art Adams. Oh, and best of all there's a pull quote on the back by...ME! My first! A momentous occasion for all, no doubt about it. I just wish that it made a little more sense, but that's the way the giant monster stomps, I guess. Anyway, the price tag is a bit giant-sized as well, but you're getting a lot of bang for your buck so it's worth it I suppose, especially if you're a fan of this period of Marvel history. B+

DMZ 21
S: Brian Wood; A: Riccardo Burchielli (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

The "Day 204" investigation saga continues as Matty is lured into yet another interview, which turns out to be a diversion as the tribunal's verdict comes down, and points to what will surely be an explosive finale next issue. Burchielli's back for the entire issue this time, and while it still looks as if he's rushing to get, or stay, caught up with something it's still solid. His style is beginning to remind me of Ian Gibson or Colin Wilson. I've enjoyed this arc as much as I've enjoyed any to date...hope the ending doesn't disappoint. B+

S: Mike Carey; A: Jock. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Less Than Zero meets The Twilight Zone as we get a not-particularly-likeable group of college students who get together one evening, get wasted in a chemistry lab, pass out, then are awakened by another of their group, who only just arrived...and it turns out that this fellow doesn't seem to exist, except to the members of the clique. And then it gets stranger from there. I don't know...Carey's gonna have to do some work to make me want to care about any of these people, but the premise is intriguing enough and holds promise for better, so we'll see for now. Jock, for his part, proves himself as capable of handling more mundane settings as he is action-thriller type stuff, not a big surprise to anybody who's read The Losers. Time will tell about this one. B-

S: Bill Willingham; A: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Sirs Flycatcher and Lancelot do a little recruiting at the bottom of Frau Totenkinder's well, and we see the return of some long-gone characters (some for better, some for worse) as the big buildup to what certainly appears to be the Fable war to end all wars continues. Willingham is doing such a great job of moving this along just slowly enough to allow time for characterization (one of his best jobs- Prince Charming, believe it or not) but not so slow that it drags (this has been in the works for over a year now, but it sure doesn't seem like it). Still digging Buckingham and Leialoha too, something I would have never thought I'd say, oh, two years ago. A-

S: Andy Diggle; A: Jock. (DC, $2.99)

I've never been a big fan of the character they used to call the "Battling Bowman"- he worked pretty well in the long-gone 70's Justice League and of course the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series, as well as the Von Eeden-illustrated 80's miniseries that, to be honest, I bought for the art (this was just pre-Thriller) more than anything else; there's just never been anything about him that really grabbed me and made me want to read his exploits on a regular basis. But I loved The Losers, y'see, and there was no way I could resist the reteaming of their creators, even on a Green Arrow comic. So here I am. And what did I think? Well, it read like an issue of The Losers. Wow, three Losers mentions in one review column! What is this, 2005? Anyway, this issue is pretty much all setup; a couple of nice character-defining exchanges at the beginning as we meet spoiled rich kid Ollie Queen, who's got a hole in his heart that goes all the way to China or something like that, and his valet Hackett, who seems to suffer this fool with only a little exasperation showing...but no Alfred he! And then, after Ollie pretty much invites himself along on a business trip with Hackett, we get a "sudden but inevitable betrayal" and soon Mr. Q will be getting his character built on a remote, deserted tropical island. Diggle does a great job of scene setting and showing us all facets of Ollie's personality, both the good and bad sides- of course, we all know that OQ will end up on the side of the angels anyway, but rounding him out as a character, and doing it with nuance, is not as easy as it seems. On art Jock is in his element- giving us an excellent ice bridge scene early on and doing really well on the scene in the middle in which Ollie makes a drunken fool of himself. Only once, when he has Ollie leap at Hackett, super-hero style, on the boat does he misstep, I think. All in all, a good start. A-

S/A: Vasilis Lolos. (Oni Press, $11.99)

If Black Metal was reminiscent of a sequel to Bill and Ted, well, this isBill and Ted Take a Train, directed by Ingmar Bergman or perhaps a collaboration between Miyazaki and Tim Burton. Two young slackers "borrow" a parent's car and take a joyride, then seem to run out of gas and pass out. When they awake, they're on a train which just happens to be carrying a passenger list of weird, demonic/ghostly figures...and not all of them are benign. Altogether well done, with Lolos' art being the most impressive; seems like there's a lot of Paul Pope-inspired illustrators popping up lately, and Lolos is certainly another...but his work is tighter, and looks a lot like early Demo-period Becky Cloonan- lots of thick, black, reckless lines and black, black shadows. He gets the mood across very well as things get more and more surreal for our hapless pair. Another strong Oni publication; hope I get to read the next book in the series. Here's a 38-page preview, if you're curious. A-

S/A: Mike Allred. (Image, $2.99)

Mr. Allred: Navel gazing is one thing, I suppose, but for the love of God do you have to masturbate in front of us as you do so? D+

S: Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman; A: Nima Sorat. (AiT/PlanetLar, $12.95)

Hey, somebody got their Japanese giant monster movie in their romantic comedy! Moonlighting meets Gammera the Invincible and perhaps Marvel's old '80s series Damage Control as we get the adventures of a group of men and women who deal with crises involving oversized behemoths, who tend to level cities at the drop of a hat. We center on Nate Klingler, head of our particular branch, and the new recruit, a gorgeous young lady from the island nation of Lapuatian. They meet cute, fight creatures, bicker, and have a little bit of the old in-out in-out until the frequency of monster attacks causes suspicion to fall on a visiting industrialist...and perhaps even the new recruit as well. A wise man once said, "Creativity is the art of disguising your sources", and while there are many sides to this we've all seen before, they're presented in such a breezy, fast-paced fashion that one is inclined not to care and just go along for the rollercoaster ride. Between this and The Highwaymen, I believe Bernardin and Freeman are looking like rookies of the year as far as giving us entertaining comics so far. Sorat's art reminds, as so many these days seem to, Paul Pope or a looser Becky Cloonan- in fact, he's often too loose and coherence is often sacrificed at the altar of swooshy speed lines and exaggerated anatomy during the course of the story. It's a problem, but not a big one, and I expect him to get better as time goes on. Inoshiro Honda would be proud, I'd bet. B+

S/A: Brandon Graham. (Oni, $5.99, reviewed from B&W preview copy)

Engaging, imaginative fantasy which reminds me a lot of Vaughn Bodé or even Moebius and Miyazaki, ever so slightly. I'm not familiar with Graham's other work, such as Tokyopop's King City, but if it's as clever as this, I might just have to check it out. Heaven knows I'm tired of dystopic future scenarios, but this manages to transcend that and become quite its own thing. His art is mostly thin-lined and open, with lots of white space and the occasional solid blacks, there for visual balance more than anything, and even more rare gray tones...sometimes it's a bit simplistic, but his figures are almost always graceful and attractive, and once in a while he busts out with some impressively detailed machinery or spaceships, just to show he can, I suppose. Anyway, here's yet another talent worth watching, and this series might just be as well. A-

S: Pete Milligan; A: C.P. Smith. (DC/Wildstorm, $2.99)

Milligan casts coherence to the wind as he gives us the opening chapter of some sort of Sci-Fi/Military Tech thriller, with myriad plot threads encompassing a myriad of time frames, from WWII to the present day, and what seems (at least right now) to be a tale of some sort of long-buried WWII super-soldier project that has been revived today, with consequences yet to be revealed. But by steadfastly refusing to give us anything more that brief glimpses of what's going on in any time frame, he makes this more of a slog than it should be. However, Milligan's too good a writer to let it go at that; I'm sure he'll eventually rein it in. I hope so, anyway. Smith, for his part, does a good enough job on art; his style looks like a clone of Alex Maleev, and fortunately I'm disposed to like that style. He does a lot towards evoking the mood of imminent disaster that Milligan's shooting for, especially when combined with Johnny Rench's garish colors. I don't know- this just feels like it's going to be decent, but that's just a hunch and not based on this one issue. Might be one to wait for the trade on. More than anything, though, it makes me long for the return of The Winter Men. B-

S: Jon Layman, Tom Peyer, Jim Massey; A: Scott Chantler, Robbi Rondriguez. (Oni, $3.99)

On TV, Colbert's arched-eyebrow satire of TV political pundits works pretty well, although I've never found it as funny as he, or his followers, seem to think it is. And this from one who does not skew Red-stater. In comics, however, especially recast in a Sci-Fi setting, it comes across as Duck Dodgers, only not as clever. Nicely illustrated by Chantler and Rodriguez, but a disappointment nonetheless. C

BEST IN SHOW: Honestly, BLACK METAL. It was tons o'fun.
DOG OF THE WEEK(S): MADMAN ATOMIC COMICS #3. I was not impressed.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Art appreciation: Chris Sanders.

While looking through his sketch section, I kept thinking "Now HERE'S someone who thought Lilo's sister in Lilo and Stitch was as sexy as I did!" Then I read the bio, and it turns out that he was the man who came up Lilo and Stitch in the first place for Disney. How d'ya like THAT!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I got an interesting email the other day from Katherine Thoresen, of HeavyInk.com, a new online comic book store which is going live this Fall, quote unquote. She asked if I'd be willing to pass the news on to all of you, and I thought "Why the heck not"...so here's the significant text of her message, copied and pasted so's I don't lose something in translation:

We hope to deliver a user interface full of innovative features, good customer reviews to help folks find material they like, and great prices. The initial version of our service will carry the full inventory of comic books from Diamond, but within a year, we intend to start doing outreach to smaller/independent publishers that aren't carried by Diamond or most existing stores.

As we develop the website, we want to get feedback from comic enthusiasts to help us shape the business and website, so we put a short survey online.


To encourage participation, one lucky respondent will receive 5 graphic novels valued at about $100. Also, everyone who participates in the short survey will receive one year of *any* comic book title, for free, when you subscribe to another comic book at our regularly discounted prices.

So go, take the survey. It will be quick and painless, and you might score some free GNs!

Friday, July 27, 2007


Tonight, it's the sadly missed Jack Knight Starman kicking his brother's murderer's boo-tay up in the sky. From the Sins of the Father TPB.

Bahlactus said knock you out!

Don't expect any in-depth, extensive analysis of all the SDCC news, (and tell the truth, you weren't anyway, were you?) but I did spy a couple of things so far that fall into a good news/not so good news sort of thing, and they are as follows:

Matt Wagner will do Madame Xanadu as a Vertigo character.. Although more often as not any attempted DCU-to-Vertigo crossover is made of disaster (see: Deadman), Wagner is saying all the right things in that interview, and I really like the above art sample, by Amy Hadley, whose previous work was on the manga Fool's Gold...which explains why I'd never heard of her. Also playing a prominent part in the series will be the Phantom Stranger, which is, as you may recall if you've read me for any length of time, a favorite character of mine. Even though I haven't been crazy about the Vertiginous PS as he was prtrayed in the '90s, I don't think they're inclined to do him that way anymore so I guess we will see what we will see.

In the not-so-good category: Darwyn Cooke's announcement that he will be leaving The Spirit comic after issue #12. Honestly, I've been a bit disappointed with Cooke's take; it's been far from bad, and he certainly has had a hard act to follow, but it certainly hasn't been as good as I hoped when the book was announced. It also means one less venue by which I can see J.Bone's work, a bad thing for sure. Anyway, no word as to who will replace him- I wouldn't be unhappy to see someone like Jeff Smith have a shot, though.

Later- FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS! And maybe even more reviews...I'm still not caught up, and I got a new box today! I am so behind...

Oh, and just for shits and giggles, I started a DeviantArt page. Don't worry, I haven't done anything new, it's got the same old bunch of crap you've all seen before. I just was curious to see if I would get any comments. Besides "YOU SUCK!", that is.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's Thursday night once more, and that means

Tonight, we have a Very Special TNT. Our inner monologue this time comes courtesy of one Artimus Finn- one of seven brothers known collectively as the Seven Deadly Finns, who ran afoul of the Shadow, in that notoriously sublime, or perhaps sublimely notorious 1980's version by Andrew Helfer and Kyle Baker.

To describe exactly what's going on in these two pages would take some doing, but let's just say that in the climactic showdown with the Master of Men, he is in dire straits indeed- having been placed in the bottom of an elevator shaft in the Empire State Building by the rogue terrorist Colonel Mustafa, who doublecrossed Mr. Finn when the latter hired the former to run an army of nutjob psychopaths against their adversary. In desperation, the surviving Finn tries to climb up twenty feet out of the shaft, to get out between the elevator and the floor...and his thoughts as he does so are our Thursday Night Thoughts for this evening.

Also in this scene, Shadow agent Twitchkowicz, an expert chemist who uses his abilities to, shall we say, create performance-enhancing drugs for his wrestler wife Gwendolyn, is escorting one of Mustafa's psycho group out, one Doctor Flax, a creepy old pusbag who is obsessed with creating killer germs. This comes into play in a big way in the climactic events of this, the final issue in the story arc.

If you've heard about this excellent series but haven't been able to find it, and realize that it will never be collected just because, well, it won't, well, here's a small sample. Script by Helfer, Art by Baker, from The Shadow #13 (August 1988).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bacardi Show Birthday Greetings are in order today for Thriller artist TREVOR VON EEDEN.

Also, My dear Mrs. B...but she said not to write about it on the blog. Oops!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I have a leetle announcement to make.

I have created a new blog today.

It's a music blog, inspired by the LJ of Todd Alcott and Matthew Perpetua's PopSongs07 blog.

It's called Solar Prestige a Gammon, and as you may have guessed form the title, it will be a track-by-track examination of the 1969-1977 oeuvre of Elton John, the band and the man.

Whether or not this is a worthwhile effort I'll leave up to you, but I'm hoping to have some fun with it. I'm by no means a fan of the artist the man has become in the 30 years after the cutoff I imposed above, but I certainly do love those "Classic" Elton John albums.

So there you have it. I'll begin in a day or so. Stop by, and leave a comment once in a while, m'kay?

The Bad Comics Challenge!

They're anything but- there's 200 of 'em, and nearly every one of 'em is hilarious.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Tonight's exercise in poetic mayhem comes courtesy of Don McGregor and P. Craig Russell, as Killraven, barehanded, dismantles smirking Martian android killer Skar in Amazing Adventures #34.

The Martians has sent Skar in pursuit of KR and his Freemen several issues prior, and he had left a wide swath of murder and cruelty in his wake as he did so. He finally caught up with the group in this issue, and managed to severely injure two of them before finally confronting KR. Out of spite, he shot down a group of boulders which fell on nearby Freeman Hawk and the mutant creature Grok, killing them both, and this- as you may imagine- brought out the beast in the somewhat previously conflicted Killraven, and you see the results. In fact, many of those who tend to hold opinions on this series, of which I am most certainly one, consider this its finest moment.

BAHLACTUS said knock you out...

Art appreciation time once more- here we have an online art site for Karl Kerschl, whose illustration work was probably the best thing about All-Flash #1, which I will write a few more lines about before the weekend's over. Of course you knew I'd post his Batgirl commission sketch. Anyway, he shares this site with three other artists, one of which is Kalman Andrasofszky, whom I remember from some fill-in issues of the Abnett/Lanning Legion.

Coming tonight, especially if I can access the Vast Bacardi Archives to get something cool...Friday Night Fighting!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Time to pause and reflect as we once more take the weekly opportunity to ponder...THURSDAY NIGHT THINKING!

In this scan, which someone apparently failed to do so in a fashion that would eliminate the moire pattern, we have the original ECLIPSO, pre-pointy chin and evil grin, gloating about how well he can hide his black diamond. Ooh-ooh...black diamond! Dun dun dun dun dun dun-dun dun dun dun dun dun. One for you KISS fans out there. Anyways, this is from (I believe) House of Secrets #61, by Bob Haney and Lee Elias.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Comics I used to have when I was a kid and remember vaguely, albeit fondly, part one: Detective Comics #353, in which (as you can see from the Carmine Infantino cover) the Weather Wizard, an old Flash badguy I liked back in the day, tangled with the Dynamic Duo. Infantino did the interior art honors as well, and Gardner Fox scripted.

I'll get started on reviews soon, if you're wondering, and of course Thursday Night Thinking and Friday Night Fights beckon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Batgirl cover fun, inspired by Chris and Heidi!

Once upon a time, there was a solictation for a Showcase Presents: Batgirl edition. It was represented in said solicitations by this cover, sans indicia and go-go checks:

But when it was actually released, it had THIS cover:

Which seems to be a heavily Photoshopped rendition of the splash page (if memory serves, I was hoping Mile High had scans but no) of THIS comic:

...not one of DC's finest story moments, as BG decides to use her femininity to distract the crooks, enabling the curiously un-distracted Batman and Robin to kick butt. Fred Hembeck does a great job of summing this one up here.

Now why the "brain"trust at DC decided to pull this switcheroo is anybody's guess- this frivolous illustration, taken out of context from the equally frivolous story, makes Babs look really stupid. And that's hardly conducive to attracting the casual buyer- unless they WANT to make Batgirl look foolish, which if that's the case is a shameful, knuckleheaded decision.

Oh well. I don't guess it would have been much better if they'd chosen THIS cover:

or THIS one:

Boy, those fellas at DC just didn't know when to quit, did they?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pretty much your basic good news/bad news type scenario:

Dead Like Me, the 2003-2004 series which aired on Showtime and was stupidly cancelled, is coming back as an MGM direct to DVD movie!

DLM, as you may recall from my posts back when it was (if you'll excuse the expression) among the living, was a wonderful show- quirky, funny, often sad, and even profound once in a while. Created by Bryan Fuller, who went on to make the also quirky, funny, etc. even more prematurely and stupidly canceled series Wonderfalls (which I still have yet to get on DVD), DLM was also that rare thing: a show which continues to be of high quality and doesn't seem to lose the plot, even after the creator leaves citing that age old rationale "creative differences", mostly with Showtime. Fortunately, Showtime won't be involved this time.

Oh, the bad news? Well, it won't mean as much as it would if you were a fan of the show, but apparently Mandy Patinkin, who played "Reaper Foreman" Rube Sofay, won't be involved. No reason is given that I can find for his non-participation, but I'll betcha it has something to do with his dreary CBS cop procedural Criminal Minds. Anyway, the show will definitely miss him; he was the backbone of the whole thing. I'm holding out hope for a cameo, based on this description of the movie:

"When Calvin Kane, a slick businessman who couldn't care less about helping the newly dead, takes over Rube's [the character played by Patinkin] Head Reaper duties, all hell breaks loose, bringing out the worst in Daisy, Roxy, and Mason."

Also unfortunate, but not the major blow the loss of Patinkin is, is the non-return of Laura Harris, who played flaky Reaper Daisy Adair. She was an often amusing part of the cast, but she was rarely if ever the most interesting one, and I think they will be recasting the part anyway...which will work, because the Reapers don't look like themselves to the living anyway.

Anyway, got my fingers crossed for this one. In the meantime, if you're unfamiliar with the show, here's a clip which does a decent job of showcasing the cast. I know, it's kinda in medias res, but here's the basic setup (helpfully provided by the YouTube poster):

A clip from "Dead Like Me" where George tries to alter Death's List... in the process she fails to reap her mark and as a result the reapers have to deal with a sudden flux in deaths due to a defective product.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Before I decided to scan the comics page I used for Friday Night Fights, see below plizz, I thought I'd take the "easy" way out and see if I could turn up a good fight scene, involving some obscure character I like, on Google. Not having my entire collection here at home forces me into that sort of thing, y'know.

Anyway, whilst sailing the Google Image Sea, I came across the website of former Legion of Super-Heroes circa 1994-1999 or so artist Jeffrey Moy. Of chief interest to me was a page full of sketches of the "Archie Legion"-era character Kinetix, whom I've always had a soft spot for, and sadly no longer exists in the current dreary Legion continuity. Many appear to have been colored by fans; I recognize the usernames of many of my old DC Legion of Message Board Posters buddies on a couple. A couple feature some unused costume designs which point at directions that were planned for her; it's interesting to see the difference between what was discussed and what actually happened.

Well, it is for me, anyway, because I like the character. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Also interesting, to me, is how Moy's sketches look more looser and more lively than the finished work (usually inked by others) that appeared in the comics- often, his often babyfaced and stylized LSH looked like Campbell's Soup Kids! But as shown on his site, that's not always the case.

The above pic is one of those sketches, featuring her mid-period costume (I kinda liked the later one a bit better, but it's all good), the scan of which I tweaked and cleaned up a bit in Photoshop to make the linework show darker.



Tonight, it's a throwdown between a good-guy golem of stone against a bad-guy golem of iron, taken from the pages of The Monolith #10.

Story by Graymiotti; art by the underrated Phil Winslade. Click pic to supersize.


Thursday, July 12, 2007


That semi-regular feature in which I opine upon various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted said opinions upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately 24 June to 4 July, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be.

** - newer reviews.

S: Larry Young, Ken Lowery; A: Jon Proctor, Benjamin Hall. (AiT/PlanetLar, $2.95)

Mr. Young continues to rev his engines, giving us a tryptich of Tarantinoesque scenes which serve to introduce more players which you know will all wind up interacting before this is done- for good or ill, who can say. Besides Young, that is. One thing for sure, such deliberate stage setting, somewhat odd considering the promise of high-speed, high-octane thrills the basic premise would seem to make, will probably play better in the inevitable trade collection than it does in singles format. Mr. Proctor acquits himself better this time out; he seems to have a better command of his Scanner Darkly art tactics, and while there is still the occasional flub- on the final page spread, for example, that car just doesn't seem to be on the same perspective plane as the objects and people behind it- he gets the JBS Most Improved award for this two weeks' period. His impressionistic coloring helps add to the mood. I was remiss last time out, not mentioning Dennis Culver's backfeature in #1; I thought it was well done, and in a lot of ways more entertaining than the lead. This issue, we get that notorious ragefudger Ken Lowery doing the honors in a tale which introduces an element of old-time religion to the mix, and skepticism of same; it stops just short of being heavy-handed, saved (if you'll excuse the expression) by God's gift to humanity, humor. He also benefits from a nicely expressive art job by Benjamin and Marlena Hall. Wouldn't mind seeing more of their work sometime. B+

S: Garth Ennis; A: Darick Robertson. (Dynamite Entertainment, $2.99)

The trials of the poor Tek Knight continue, and Garth takes the opportunity to show us that see, he can write non-exploitative gay characters too! Doesn't really advance the story much, but this is another solid chapter. B+

S: Mark Waid; A: George Perez, Bob Wiacek. (DC, 2.99)

I'll say this much; these comics aren't dull! Pretty much non-stop explosive action as Batman and Blue Beetle deal with the Fatal Five, led by the Time Lord, all to get their hands on the Macguffin of this series so far, the probability-altering Haruspex. We even get a nod to the crazy old Silver Age as Batman gets merged with Tharok, causing further problems. I'm not familiar with this new Blue Beetle, having so far managed to avoid his new series, but judging by the way Waid writes him he's pretty likable. Not "I'll go hunt down his back issues" likeable, but likeable just the same. In #4, it's Supergirl and Lobo back in outer space, as SG strives to find Green Lantern (from back in #2), enlisting the aid of the Main Man to do so. This is a weird little beast Waid has created here; ordinarily, something so heavy in continuity and so gnarly in plot, combined with Perez's claustrophobic, hyperactive art, all jammed full of Kirby dots and mouths agape and crap flying around in all directions, would be exasperating...but these old pros are beating the odds and doing a great job of keeping all the plates spinning, and this is breezy fun. It's not as leaden and fraught with significance as the run-of-the-mill DC continuity porn, but it manages to still push a lot of fanboy-pleasing buttons, including many that your humble reviewer thought had become disconnected years ago. B+

S: Will Pfiefer; A: David Lopez, Alvaro Lopez. (DC, $2.99)

Here's another DC book that remains engaging despite all the oh-so-DC deadly serious goings-on; somehow Pfiefer and the Lopezes have a synergy that keeps things moving along smartly and keeps the melodrama to a minimum. Everybody waxes nostalgic for the too-brief Brubaker/Cooke/Allred days, but for my money that team doesn't have anything on the current creators, and Catwoman is as enjoyable (relatively speaking; it's been kinda grim lately) as it's ever been right now. Wonder how long it will last. A-

S: Ed Brubaker; A: Sean Phillips. (Marvel/Icon, $2.99)

Continuity, when done right, is a wonderful thing. Case in point- this issue's cameo by none other than # 1-5's Leo, right now in prison and doing a favor for our new protagonist Tracy. Of course, continuity in a book which is set up as a series of 5-6 issue arcs and (when all is said and done) isn't expected to go on for years and years is a lot easier to pull off than the same in a comic that's been around for over four decades. Brubaker's doing a lot of finely nuanced character work, and Phillips is the perfect artist to amplify and illustrate same. The text pieces in the back, which usually deal with works of Noir and crime thriller fiction in film, books, and so on, are always good, too. But when are they gonna mention Taking of Pelham One Two Three? A

S: Cullen Bunn; A: Brian Hurtt. (Oni Press, $14.95)

When I reviewed an advance copy of #1 back last September, I was pleasantly surprised and thought showed a lot of promise. I'm pleased to report that so far, it's lived up to that promise in fine fashion. By maintaining the straight face and resisting the urge to joke it up, Bunn has consistently been able to work his demons-as-mobsters a la 1930's Warner Bros. Pictures conceit, and work it well; in the wrong hands it could have been ridiculous. He's fortunate to have an artist like Hurtt; his Wood-esque art really adds to the verisimilitude and makes the far-fetched all the more plausible. I was a little non-plussed by the reveal at the end, but I'm sure that will be something dealt with in future issues. Looking forward to seeing where this goes from here. A

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

Brubaker does a good job here of zigging when many thought he'd zag, not giving us the outcome of the situation he left us in last time...not surprising really- between this and Iron Fist and Criminal, is there any doubt who's one of the top 5 writers working at the Big Two right now? And for my money, Lark and Gaudiano are top 5 among art teams. So, in a nutshell, another outstanding issue of Daredevil. A-

S/A: Richard Sala. (Fantagraphics/Ignatz, $7.95)

The second issue of Sala's typically twisted take on Snow White is every bit as good as the first, especially in the art department, where his judicious use of sepia tone brings a warmth and a vitality to his already-excellent illustration work that's never been there before, not even in full color. Story-wise, we get more pieces of the puzzle; he always likes to parcel out information in dribs and drabs- not enough to make a coherent whole, but enough to give us a nice feeling of apprehension as our Prince anagram finds out more and more how much trouble he's in. So far, a great red, but I expect no less from Sala. A

S: Geoff Johns; A: Ethan Van Sciver, Dave Gibbons. (DC, $4.99)

As with the Flash a couple of weeks ago, I dont really have a whole lot of familiarity with the last, oh, three decades' worth of GL tales; the last time I bought a GL book on anything even remotely approaching a regular basis was the O'Neil/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow run back in the very early 70's. Of course, I have keep somewhat abreast of all the developments over the years via the various Justice League incarnations that the Lanterns have appeared in, as well as the occasional article or cursory glance at the old DC Message Boards, a real hotbed of GL fanaticism back in the day. And really, when all is said and done, that's who this is for- the folks who LOVE anything and everything to do with the GLC, be it John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Katma Tui, or of course Kyle vs. Hal. Me? Well, I couldn't care less. As with so many of those 60's DC revival superheroes, what was fun and clever in 1963 just isn't so much, to me, in 2007. Not that it even remotely resembles anything that Broome or Kane could have ever imagined...all the years of the accumulated contrivances and so-called brainstorms of what seems like at least five dozen writers in all that time just wears me out. Like a bubblegum bubble that keeps getting bigger and bigger, one has to wonder at what point all the accumulated continuities will burst. And that goes for Marvel, too. Anyway, back to the matter at hand, namely this Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special thing. I wasn't terribly impressed at first; it was a slog the first time through. Too much melodrama and Van Sciver's art was just too murky, sloppily rendered and imitative of Adams imitators to impress me. But after rereading it, I will say this- if one is hoping for a big damn Starlinesque space opera, well, this works on that level. The stakes are appropriately high, the plot appears as if Johns has mapped it out well, and we get enough character stuff to care about most of the particulars. I still don't care for Van Sciver's art, but I can understand why those inclined to care would be excited about the whole thing...because it's written for them. To the rest of us, I can only recall Dr. Frank N. Furter's line to Janet in Rocky Horror: "Well...I didn't make him for YOU!" So here you go, seekers of Big Damn Space Opera Starring the GL Corps- this one is all yours. Enjoy. C+

S: Andy Diggle; A: Leo Manco. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Diggle continues to get the character back to a starting point of sorts after over a year's worth of dicking around, and what better place to begin than one in which he spent some time getting his sanity back after the defining events of Newcastle, so long ago. Denise Mina, among others, neglected (or just didn't understand) that internal monologue part of JC for so long, and that was a mistake- it's what makes the character most compelling, that tug of war between John's survival instinct, and that tiny voice of compassion that still lives within him. And Diggle is shrewd enough to know this. Artwise, as always, Manco is competent but unexciting. Oh well, whaddaya want, perfection? A-

S: Mike Mignola; A: Duncan Fregredo. (Dark Horse, $2.99)

We all know that this will probably work better when collected; as good as it is, and make no mistake, it's good- there's not really a whole lot to say about each single chapter in the middle of the run. So. While I still don't really understand the chain of events that led HB to make the choice to go to the place which he currently inhabits- lots of ominous-sounding, vague witchy pronouncements on their part, not exactly lending itself to storytelling clarity, and conflict avoidance not really being Hellboy's thing, y'see- at least we get some good stuff with the Baba Yaga and the menace of the "deathless warrior" he has to battle, presumably in the next couple of issues. This isn't what they call a "good jumping on point". And, as always, Fregredo is excellent as he synthesizes his own strong art style with that of Mignola's, and loses not a thing. A-

S: Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction; A: David Aja, Russ Heath. (Marvel, $2.99)

You want "Heroes for Hire"? Look no further. It's over here, and nary a tentacle in sight. This one's pretty much one long fight scene, but Fraction and Brubaker squeeze everything out of it and it's a blast, especially in the Misty Knight/Luke Cage/Collen Wing interchanges. Flashback art this time out is courtesy of the great Russ Heath, and his presence in the byline is usually always a good reason to bump up the ol' letter grade a notch. Thing is, this time it's not needed. A

S: Jim Massey; A: Robbi Rodriguez. (Oni Press, $9.95)

Here's a collection of the first three issues of what has been a fun series so far. The concept, janitors at an evil science think-tank, is clever- kinda like Venture Brothers but nowhere near as arch and flip; and Rodriguez' art is nicely expressive a la so many artists that work for animation studios a la Disney, Nick, and others. I recommend this highly if you're looking for a tonic for all the leaden seriousness these days. A-

S: Walt Simonson, Jimmy Palmiotti, Kyle Baker; A: Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Jordi Bernet, Baker. (DC, $2.99)

Cooke gets an issue off, except for the cover, and tellingly the cover is the best thing about it. Lotta major talent on two minor imitation Eisner stories and one tepid, tongue-way-in-cheek Frank Miller satire (a bit reminiscent of Kurtzman's "Eisnershpritz" gag) by Baker that looks like it was inked with a mop. Sprouse/Story and Bernet, as usual, acquit themselves well, drawing an OK Simonson script, and truth be told Palmiotti's story is kinda charming if contrived. Sometimes, fill-in issues can jump up and surprise you by being damned good when you're not expecting it. This one doesn't. B-

S/A: Paul Grist. (Image, $5.99)

Less Jack Staff, actually, and more "Q", the mysterious group who investigate "question mark crimes", kinda like X-Files or the B.P.R.D., except with that singularly British vibe that Grist always brings to the table. The characters, either together or separately, pop up in the Staff proper book quite often, but this is the first time that I can recall that they've had a solo spotlight. This is a collection of a monthly 3-page serial that originally appeared in Comics International a while back, and features a typically involved Grist plot reminiscent of The Blob, Day of the Triffids, and in a lot of ways, The Avengers...and it's lively,and brisk, never feeling padded or slack- most likely due to the brevity of the original installments, not to mention Grist's typically quirky and clever art. Grist is such a unique storyteller, and often goes overlooked when the conversation turns to the best of the best these days. Don't make that mistake, check this out for yourself. Weird World of... doesn't reach the same heights as Staff or Kane at their best can, but it often comes damn close, and that's better than the majority of comics that get twice as much attention. A-

Finished at last! For now, anyway...

BEST IN SHOW: CRIMINAL, I suppose, for all-around excellence. Delphine, Iron Fist, and the Damned were all great too.

DOG OF THE WEEK(S): GREEN LANTERN: SINESTRO CORPS SPECIAL 1, but that's highly subjective. It's just not the kind of comics I'm looking to read these days, and you might think differently.

Next up, in (hopefully) a week or so, Action Comics 851,Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #1; two advances from Oni: Black Metal V1 and The Last Call V1, perhaps the Essential Ant-Man, and my regular shipment tomorrow. And so it goes.


Yeah, I know, this is one of the most-posted comics panels in the history of comics bloggery...but it fits the theme of the meme!

From Justice League of America #44, written by Gardner Fox, and illustrated by Mike Sekowsky with Frank Giacoia.
Been reading Dick Hyacinth's look back on his formative comics geek years, part one and part two, and it's an interesting- and typically cleverly written- series of posts so far, well deserving of all the Journalista, ADD Blog, and so on linkage that it has elicited.

That said, I did the same thing back in 2004, and nobody linked to it. So I just wanted to put it back out there just in case anybody cares, and also because of sheer stinking jealousy.

Edit 2:03 PM: Oh, by the way, I've been spending some time correcting spelling mistakes and so on in that three-year-old post, and boy were there a bunch of 'em. And it rambles, too. But anyway, just thought I should add that since late '05, I've been getting my new comics from DCBS, shipped every two weeks (which is why my reviews are always so late). I still stop by the BG Great Escape occasionally (just went there last Saturday as a matter of fact) to pick up bags and boards and the occasional back issue, CD, or new comic. But especially these days, now that gas is so high and I don't work down there anymore, I'm kinda glad I don't have to make that drive.

Hopefully, I'll review the last two books I'm lacking tonight. I also got my very first pull quote recently, on the back of Chris Wisnia's newest giant monster opus, Where Urban Creatures Creep and Stomp!. I am honored, sir. I just wish that the quote made sense! I know it came from a review I did ages ago, but I wish I could have rewritten it. Oh well.

Also, thanks to ADD for the link! Much obliged to ya, pilgrim.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Much to my chagrin, I forgot that yesterday was RINGO STARR's 67th birthday. Sorry, Ringo.

As is my custom, here's my favorite Ringo song list, which I can't see changing anytime soon.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

In my early teen years, boys and girls, I LOVED Sly and the Family Stone. To this day, I revere the 1971 Greatest Hits album- it's a collection of Funk, rock and soul that few others can match. I also have deep abiding love for 1973's Fresh and 1975's High on You, and the pre-Hits albums are all certified classics.

Now, it's beginning to look like Sly, now in his 60's, is making baby steps towards a comeback- this time for real, and none of that fubar'ed Grammy Awards show stuff. Go here for an amazing interview with the man himself, as well as some discussion of where he's been since the 70's. Here's a slide show of pics, several of which I haven't seen before.

Crossposted from the LJ.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Bahlactus hath put out the word, and I shall respond with a three-part throwdown taken straight from the pages of HAMMER LOCKE #8!

Click on the pics to super-size 'em.

This is the climactic battle between the cybernetically augmented Sir Archer Locke and the eco-terrorist Hugo Tharn, who has transferred his consciousness into one of his battalion of seemingly indestructible androids. Sir Archer proves this isn't so, with a little "offscreen" help from Cactus Jaq, who has dealt with Hugo on his otherworldly base of operations. And since Hammer Locke is much, much more than merely a Sci-Fi action thriller, we even get a little philosophy with our beatdown.

Script by Tom Joyner and K.S. Wilson, Art by Chris Sprouse and Wilson. I keep thinking someday I'll finish the Hammer Locke overview I started last year, but I guess this will have to do for now.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bet you thought I was going to forget THURSDAY NIGHT THINKING, didn't ya!

From Sword of Sorcery #1, here's a whole lot of internal dialogue-type stuff, courtesy of the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd the Barbarian. Script by Dennis O'Neil, adapted from Fritz Lieber, and art by Howard Victor Chaykin and God only knows who else on inks.

More art appreciation- Kagan McLeod.

Arigato Danielle Corsetto.

Since I'm taking my sweet time writing reviews, howzabout some art appreciation?

Power Girl, from the website of one Megan Murphy. She also has a webcomic, Kawaii Not. Cute stuff, in the best possible way. Reminds me a bit a lot of this video.

Found via the redoubtable RStevens.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy 4th of July, everybody. Well, everybody that's inclined to celebrate that is.

Art by Mike Kaluta.

Oh, and here's a 4th of July present from me to you. Go here to download "4th of July" by the Beach Boys, featuring a nice Carl Wilson vocal. It will be available today only.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Kinda having a lazy weekend, not doing much at all, relatively speaking. Grocery shopping yesterday with Mrs. B, reading new comics received on Friday, checking out the Big Trouble in Little China DVD I bought while on the aforementioned shipping trip, and actually took a nap for a couple of hours. Today, radio station from 6AM to 10 AM, a little housework, listening to more R.E.M., and preparing to watch Pan's Labyrinth this evening after I cut the grass in a little while.

In the meantime, and listen up all you R.E.M. and Paul McCartney/John Lennon fans out there, I've been reading some great blogging lately about both subjects. First, on the LiveJournal of Todd Alcott, he's been writing a lot about Sir Paul, both Beatle-wise and solo as well, even comparing McCartney solo albums with Lennon solo efforts of the same approximate year. And while I can't say that I always agree with him, he's saying what he's saying very well, and I've enjoyed reading his posts. I think you might, too!

On the R.E.M. front, I've been listening a lot to the output of Messrs. Berry, Buck, Mills and Stipe lately and it's all the fault of Matthew Perpetua's excellent Pop Songs 07 blog. He's taking a random R.E.M. song more or less every day and writing a succinct summary about them, then tagging them by album name for easier reference. Again, super good music writing.

Have a great Sunday afternoon!