Wednesday, April 30, 2008

FWIW, I like this cover, for the latest Local, (which came out yesterday, I think) quite a bit. I think it's the 3/4 view drawing of the hitherto dislikable (she may be nicer and more together now, don't know) Megan, and the way her head's shaped. Yeah, that doesn't sound very good, does it. Anyway, sometimes I regret ceasing to get that book; I might have to consider getting the issues I have missed, four in all I think, when #12 comes out. Anyway.

Hey, I'm still around, but I'm going to be in lower-than-usual content mode for a while longer. Work, life, etc. plus a whole bunch of nothing to say and little time to say it is making it difficult to make time to cast my swine before all you pearls. But hey! I can always make time to let you know what I'll be getting from DCBS this weekend, hopefully Friday:

THE SPIRIT #16: Probably my last issue. It's not terrible, just uninspired- and honestly, the Evanier/Aragones/Ploog/Smith team's issues have been better than some of Cooke's less effective outings. It's just obvious that this is staggering on because of Miller's godforsaken movie, and since I have such deep love for the character I just don't want to be a part of this anymore.

FABLES #72: I guess it's about time for the other glass slipper to fall, and I dread it, although I'm sure that it will be as well-done as the other issues to date have been, by and large. This particular issue, though, is the finale of the Bondian Cinderella two-parter, and should be good.

NUMBER OF THE BEAST #2: This has got to get better, right? Keep reminding myself: Sprouse/Story. Sprouse/Story. Sprouse/Story.

NORTHLANDERS #5: In a lot of ways, this is Wood's best since Demo.

THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST #14: I seem to recall reading that this is the big climax. If so, I'm a little sad to see it come. And stop giggling, you dirty minded people.

That's all I'm getting! Monster shipment, huh! Some comics pundit I am...

I'd like to say I'll be scooping up a goodly amount of FCBD books this Saturday, but to do so I'd have to make the drive south to my comics shop, and even then I'd have to hope that they were handing out the books in a more, shall we say, generous and easy-accessible fashion- and that they had books there besides the usual Big Two or Three offerings, unlike my last FCBD visit two years ago. But still, they probably still have those Blue Beetle back issues I'm dying to get, and they're offering 20% off storewide, and that's a strong incentive. We will see.

Also, I recently purchased, for the princely sum of four dollars six, the joint Tim & Jeff Buckley bio Dream Brother from an Amazon merchant the other day, and I'm hoping to get that in the mail in the next couple of days. I've been on a bit of a rock bio jag since Christmas- since, I've read bios of Pattie Boyd Harrison Clapton, Ron Wood, and Eric Clapton, all of which interconnect in funny-strange ways. For what that's worth. If I read that Tim Buckley was shagging Pattie, I will flip.

Monday, April 28, 2008


It's time once more for another Spinner Rack Junkie- that more-or-less ongoing feature in which I write capsule reviews of various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted such reviews upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately April 4 to 20, 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 #90: I will diverge from my usual mildly snarky Standard Review of this title this time, in order to state that I found the "clocker kid with a gun" subplot very interesting; it's a look at what might have been if Azzarello hadn't decided to explore his Minutemen vs. Trust storyline and had stuck to the "random person gets case full of untraceable bullets from mysterious old coot" plot device. It also points out how insular and byzantine Azzarello's main plot has become, and in my opinion not for the better. Otherwise, (clears throat) 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 10 issues. B+

ABE SAPIEN: THE DROWNING #3: Abraham Sapien is a moderately interesting character that works best when paired up with another, more charismatic character (or group of characters) to provide contrast. Despite Mignola's concerted and earnest efforts to give him a compelling backstory, he remains a born second stringer. And, when placed in a slow-moving tale in which he's the only person we even remotely care about, no amount of trademark Mignola mystic hoo-ha or running from giant bug-headed eel critters can make it more than marginally engaging. Jason Shawn Alexander's art is game, but although it aspires to a J.P. Leon or Tommy Lee Edwards grubbiness, it just isn't dynamic enough to goose this along. This is not a bad series, nor is it done by untalented people (I mean, Mignola still has his style, and it's always at least worth reading), but this remains just this side of bland, and that's too bad. Hint: it's the lead. C+

B.P.R.D.: 1946 #4: On the other hand, this remains excellent, simply because these familiar, and some not-so-familiar, elements, are blended together skillfully and Josh Dysart's dialogue propels where Mignola's nudges, and the star-in-making Paul Azaceta also provides kineticism via constantly shifting perspective and right-on-the-money facial expressions and body language. This may just be the best issue yet, as we find out exactly what the joint US-Russian investigators are dealing with, a nightmare factory formerly helmed by the Nazis...and even crazier, we meet an old friend towards the end with promise of, as Phil Amaro once so aptly put it in the sadly missed Nevermen: "Hell to beat the band" in next issue's finale. I'll be sorry to see it wrap. A

BRAVE AND THE BOLD #12: I've been kinda rough on the last few issues, I know. It's almost mean to pick on this book, it's just so eager-to-please- and I know that there's not a cynical bone in Mark Waid's body, at least in his approach to what he must honestly believe is a winning tribute to those multi-chapter, multi-issue Len Wein/Marv Wolfman/Steve Englehart multi-heroes vs. multi-villain sagas of the Disco Decade. But in trying to look backwards, yet maintain a slightly modern feel (although thankfully not the downbeat, determined-to-push-imagined-envelopes-no-matter-what direction of many of his contemporaries), he's guilty of simply trying too hard to cram every frigging thing he can think of in his stories, to the expense of coherence and characterization, something his inspirations rarely did. A good example of this is his handling of the Challengers of the Unknown; Jeph Loeb's irreverent early effort aside, they've never really had concrete personalities, only the broadest of character traits: Prof, the brain; Rocky, the good-hearted lug; Ace and Red, well, I think Red is a bit of a hothead (imagine that) but they've always been indistinguishable otherwise, and June? A personality? She's Prof's girlfriend, why should she have a personality? And does Waid try to give them one? Nah. He simply recycles the same old NON-characterization, while having them constantly running and jumping and yelling and ducking amidst power blasts and explosions at flying debris. This said, there is a lot of imagination brought to bear here, even if it's in service of a hoary old object-quest scenario, and Jerry Ordway does a yeomanlike job of depicting all the aforementioned calaminous calamity. I guess, bottom line, I've outgrown this type of comic, I do believe, and I also believe many others have as well, which should explain the sales figures. There must be a way to do superheroics in a way that you can respect yourself in the morning without resorting to the base histrionics so often on display for the last few years. Problem is, the books that are doing so more successfully, such as Blue Beetle, Manhunter, and Catwoman, are the most numbers-challenged, which makes the argument difficult to make at best. I guess all we can do is cross our fingers, buy what we deem good as long as we can, and hope for better days down the road when the wheel comes around again. C+

CASANOVA #13: Not exactly incoherent, but certainly not as linear as last issue, and it's all the poorer for it. As much as I love Fraction's strong imagination, and admire his sense of what's cool and what isn't, bottom line is when you get a series in which anything is possible, then nothing has meaning. And that plays hell with any sort of dramatic tension, unless your intent is to provide as totally an arch, all-surface and no-depth experience as is possible- and while that may be some people's idea of a good time, it rarely is mine, no matter how nicely illustrated it is by either Moon brother. B-

CATWOMAN #78: Schizzy book this time out- the Lopezes, while fine mainstream comics artists, don't really do the Noir-inspired Slam Bradley stuff all that convincingly, but story-wise those interludes are far more compelling than the whole Selina-in-space spandex shenanigans, which the Lopezes, unsurprisingly, depict in fine fashion. So I figure that makes this a wash, like it matters in regards to this unfortunately lame-duck title. C+

CRIMINAL 2 #2 Well, those of us who have been following along knew how much of a bastard Teeg Lawless was, and in case we didn't get the point, Ed and Sean make it powerfully explicit this time- and by extension give us one of the best issues of either "season" to date. My standard objections, mostly to do with the nature and limitations of the Noir genre itself, still apply but in this one instance they manage the difficult task of transcending those boundaries. You can do a Google search for this series and uncover many reviews more insightful and erudite than the ones I've been trying to provide, but believe me when I tell you that if you're disposed to like this sort of story, you won't find too many other examples of recent vintage that are better. A

HELLBLAZER #243: Fairly standard-issue "occult skeletons in the Vatican closet" story gets by mostly on the strength of Diggle's razor-sharp Constantine portrayal- he does ol' Conjob right, for sure. Art is by new-to-me Giuseppi Camuncoli and Stefano Landini, appropriately enough considering the Vatican setting, and it's pretty good overall although they get carried away on the edgy, distorted anatomies sometimes. For a fill-in between arcs, not too bad. B+

JACK STAFF #15: This one came across as a little light, story-wise. I like the obtuse Detective Maveryk just fine; but when Grist gives him center stage for too long a time, the book begins to remind me of Kane and I get all nostalgic for that been-gone-too-long series. This fourth-wall breaking antics with the Druid also come across as been-there-seen-that. But don't worry- for those who dig Grist's style, and I am certainly one of those, there are rewards aplenty...and if Paul skips around, not spending too long on any of his almost-unwieldy cast of characters, it's just because he's getting his pieces in place for a bigger game, I'm sure. And of course, it's as impeccably drawn as always. A-

NUMBER OF THE BEAST #1: This has me in a quandary, I'm afraid. After I finished reading it, my immediate reaction was that it was so bad, that I should immediately email DCBS and cancel the four or five issues I've preordered. Then I kept referring back to that great, dynamic Chris Sprouse/Karl Story art, and decided I shouldn't be hasty. But bojemoi, was he script to this thing bad- full of characters explaining everything to everyone in convenient infodumping fashion, as well as calling each other by their codenames so the reader would know who they are (designed for reader-friendliness, I know, but when it's this obvious it simply grates), and nothing really but constant fight scenes involving people I knew next to nothing about, peppered with tangential references to Wildstorm characters I did know, and after a while I was hard pressed to give a rat's ass about any of it. Now, in all honesty, it's been a while since I immersed myself in whatever passes for the Wildstorm universe these days; I bought Morrison and Ha's aborted Authority, as well as a handful of issues of Midnighter and Stormwatch P.H.D., and that's about it. Perhaps a lot of these new characters were introduced in books I hadn't read and are very familiar to the faithful few who have cared, can't say for sure. But the script contrivances (and I'm sure, since this is only the first of an extended series, that this is only the beginning) were just so clumsy and poorly done that this almost achieved the impossible: making me consider dropping a Sprouse-drawn book. Here's hoping this is just a slow start and things get better quickly. C

OMEGA THE UNKNOWN #7: By far the most linear and accessible of the series to date; whether or not this is a good thing depends on why you're reading this (or not, as the case may be). The much-ballyhooed Gary Panter art cameo is a wondrous thing- his sloppy-yet-symmetrical work is quite fascinating, and I say this as someone who hasn't always been an ardent admirer. As far as the rest goes, Lethem, Rusnak, and Dalrymple are gradually beginning to rein this thing in and bring it home; I can only make educated guesses at how it's going to get there but I'm loving every quirky bit of it. A

POWERS ANNUAL 2008: A double-sized flashback to Walker's barbarian past, similar to previous issues in which Bendis has established that he is one long-lived super-person. This one's scripted as well as illustrated by Mike Oeming, and he does a good job even though this does seem a bit padded-out, no doubt because it's an "annual", and kinda revisits territory I thought was already well-covered. For those invested in the ongoing only, and by that I mean pre-Icon readers; I can't imagine that anyone not already well-versed in Powers continuity would be able to make heads or tails of it, or at least of how it fits into the bigger picture. B+

SCALPED #16: A small betrayal towards the end of this penultimate chapter, but no less dismaying because of it no matter what the size, further points up the dramatic excellence of this series. It concerns me that Jason Aaron seems to be writing every other book at Marvel that Bendis and Brubaker aren't writing; I worry about him chasing the limelight and spreading himself too thin and this one suffering because of it. Guess we'll see; I hope this book lasts long enough for it to be a problem. A

Friday, April 25, 2008

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OUCH- that's gotta smart. From a funny old Golden Age story, posted (with amusing commentary) by Brian Hughes. Go check it, yo. I'll wait. Another from the same story:

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Yeah, this one belongs on scans_daily. Context is indeed for the weak. Geez, can't a superhero get a little "private time" with his boy sidekick without being interrupted by a maniac with a garden implement attached to his wrist? Sometimes I think Wertham was on to something.

Anyway, greetings! I know, two days, no post. Combination of allergy misery, busy busy busy work schedule and other commitments is to blame. I'm slowly but surely whipping out reviews that I hope to post over the weekend, so bear with, please.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

"But seriously, he has an incredible sense of drama. And Kane's figure is so important. He has a different type of physique. He doesn't have Conan's physique..."

"The clothes are tough because if you look at the reference for Puritans, there is some stuff that doesn't work aesthetically, so we are taking some liberties," he explained. "The idea is that it is a fantasy book but it is set in a historical time so we want to get the historical period right, but not slavishly right. We want to stylize it. We want Mario to let his style render the world in a certain way. We want to get the weapons right, but maybe amplified a little bit."

Writer/editor Scott Allie, on his upcoming take on Solomon Kane. Sigh. I would be all over a Solomon Kane book done right, but yet again, it doesn't look like we're gonna get one anytime soon. Even Chaykin and Thomas's 70's Chaykinman Kane beats this hypermuscled buffoon. And frankly, the material doesn't need "amplifying".

All text in italics © CBR, from whence I stole it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Well, it's not quite time for a proper "Confessions" yet, but I have several published (or soon to be published) endeavors that I have read and probably should opine upon before my next shipment arrives. So here's an in-betweener. **-REVIEWS ADDED 4/19

HOLMES: Omaha Perez and Holmes are back, in a spiffy new trade from AiT/PlanetLar. I reviewed the first issue, which was combined with another of Perez' self-pub efforts, Periphery, back in 2005; my opinion hasn't changed a lot. It is of course a revisionist take on the Master Detective, with Sherlock behaving like Johnny Depp's portrayal of Hunter Thompson in Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, all crazed and drug-addled and oblivious to the world around him, and of course blindly obsessed with the fiendish Moriarty. Watson, here, is his brutish enabler and longsuffering toady, equally obsessed with maintaining the legend of the Detective. It's akin to, but more satirical than, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen...although I think Moore's intentions were a bit more benign. Still, I suppose it's a valid enough approach, and there is a manic energy to this that keeps one reading, if nothing else but to see how (and if) this will tie in to the underlying mystery plot device of Josef Haydn's skull, which has turned up missing- unfortunately, this aspect of the story gets lost, too, before it's eventually resolved in somewhat desultory fashion. Perez' art stumbles all over a very wide line that reminds me, sometimes in the same page, of Richard Case, Mike Mignola, S. Clay Wilson, and the fellow that drew Struwwelpeter (Hans Hoffman?)...and I know that makes it sound more interesting than it is. However, it tells the story effectively in its crude fashion, there's some effective etching and/or scratchboarding used on the cover illos (reproduced on the back) and in an opium dream scene...and when all is said and done it suits this ragged, patched-together shaggy dog story as well as it deserves, I think. When it comes to Holmes stories, Seven Per Cent Solution notwithstanding, I prefer my Sherlock cool, calm, and Basil Rathbone collected. This isn't terrible, but this revisionist Holmes thing has been done better, and more skillfully- with more restraint, that is- in the past. C+

THE BOYS 11-17 That's right, it's not a typo- I somehow managed to miss seven freaking issues of this title, mostly because DCBS listed it under the section heading of "D.E.", and ever-observant me just looked right over it. Anyway, I suppose it's telling that I didn't notice for seven months...but honestly, I like this series, really I do. As long as its emotional center remains focused on Simon Pegg lookalike and everyman Wee Hughie and his reactions to the insanity around him, not to mention the intriguing little romance (gross-out humor included) he seems to have going with one of the "other side", this will be fine- especially if Ennis continues to make the supposed "good guy" spandex-busting crew as reprehensible in their way as the hypocrites they harass. In these seven issues, Garth wavers in this a bit as the Boys get mixed up with a tiny nympho woman who runs most of Russia's organized crime, and the superhero-slaughter scheme she is hatching with one of those ubiquitous shadow US government operations...and of course they are also mixed up with the Justice Leagueish superteam that they've been hassling in the first ten or so issues. I especially liked the big Russkie bartender who used to be one of a Soviet super-team "Glorious Five-Year Plan"- he and Hughie bond over drinking an especially potent liquor. And lest you think Garth's getting all sentimental, just check out his code-name: "Love Sausage". It's a very apt nickname, too. In the last two, Hugh decides to try and learn more about his teammates, and the aforementioned romance moves up to the next level. Will it end in tears, even though it's by far the most intriguing subplot yet? So, after 17 issues, you pretty much know what Ennis is going for, and what the tone is. While I generally deplore excessively negative takes on superhero comics, Ennis was doing it before it was fashionable, and knows how to leaven it with randy good humor, which keeps it from being offputting, even though it certainly falls more often as not on the sophomoric side. As far as the artwork goes, most of these were drawn by series regular Darick Robertson, whose work generally leaves me cold but is talented enough to make this all look pretty good. His style just doesn't excite me much. A couple of issues were fill-ins by Peter (Starman) Snejbjerg (and boy, it's been a while since I had to type THAT!), and I enjoyed them quite a bit- he was able to mimic Robertson's established style just enough to maintain visual continuity, but his style is much more expressive. All in all, this was a pretty good trade collection-size read, but I don't really care to have to hunt down (and purchase at slightly more than cover price, damn it) a clutch of back issues again so I'll have to do a better job of paying attention when I make out my monthly order, for sure. I think I can fudge a little and give every issue a B+, even though one or two were slightly better than the others.

BLUE BEETLE 7-10: When I read #'s 1-6 a few weeks ago, I was intrigued but not blown away; there were little flaws and such that held me back. I must say, though, that after reading the next four issues I'm still not born again hard in the Blue Beetle religion, but I really do want to keep buying for a while because this has shaped up to be a very enjoyable, light-read kinda book- just the sort of superhero comic that so many people lament the perceived lack of in the Big Two's output these days. Its tone is down-to-earth, but not excessively serious; to be expected with Giffen riding herd, but John Rogers's dialogue is quite good, working much better as the series goes on, without the disconnect I encountered in one or two scenes in the first half-dozen. Art in these four issues was again done by committee- ostensible regular artist Cully Hamner does two (he just can't seem to contribute on a regular basis), Metal Men's Duncan Rouleau does one, and Hamner splits #10 with eventual successor Rafael Albequerque. All of them work in a similar style, light but dynamic, and are very efficient when it comes to keeping the script moving at a fast clip. #10 is the first part of a multi-issue tale in which our new Beetle's friend Brenda gets accidentally transported to New Genesis via a Mother Box her crime-lord aunt (who also has a strong interest in supernatural and metapowered people and artifcats) happened to leave lying on her desk- and it was at that point I realized that I'm hooked. I should wait for the trades, but I gotta get at least two more issues, looks like. Sigh. B+

**SALT WATER TAFFY: Here's the latest from Matt Loux, whose Sidescrollers I found very enjoyable, even though it was made up from overly familiar elements. In this, Loux gives us a more novel (well, unless you read a lot of Stephen King books) setting for his follow-up; a Maine coastal town, in which two tweens find themselves involved with fantastical adventure while on vacation with their typically-oblivious parents. Once you get acclimated to Matthew's everpresent pointy chins and oddball art style, you'll find yourself having a good time with this story of a giant lobster with sinister designs on not only the surface world but his own fellow lobsters as well, and how the boys team up with a wizened old fisherman to battle it. For some reason, I kept thinking of Savage Steve Holland's One Crazy Summer, which also took place in a New England coastal town, and had a lot of surreal craziness as well. First of what appears to be a very enjoyable series. A-

**RESURRECTION #'s 1-3 I reviewed #1 back in October; didn't hate it, didn't love it either. It's just too derivative of at least a dozen different sources in comics, TV, and film- War of the Worlds, the Cruise version; Mad Max, Walking Dead, Jericho to name just a few- to impress on its own merits. It's as if someone gave writer Guggenheim a list of things to cobble together into a story, and he dutifully, and without enthusiasm, did just that. The thriller aspects don't thrill, the political humor isn't especially pointed or clever, the character interaction is flat. Also, it's very poorly drawn, especially the figures of the multiple protagonists. If you're desperate for this sort of post-apocalyptic scenario, complete with semi-zombies, alien tech gone bad, and other stuff you've seen before, you might get some enjoyment out of this. It's just too uninspired for me to recommend, though. C-

Here's a "Ladies of the DCU" poster which I've seen posted here and there since Valerie D'Orazio posted it yesterday. The finished result also bears the script "The REAL power of the DC Universe", a playful sort of "tribute" line. And of course, there are the usual kneejerk accusations of "sexism" in response. It never fails. To me, it seems like a fairly typical Hughes illustration; the dude has made his name doing cheesecake and pin-up girl style art. In my opinion, he does it very well, with a sense of humor, and if sometimes he crosses a line, he usually always does so in a non-malicious manner. That's one of the problems with the blogosphere as we know it these days, it's great that everybody can express their opinions, me included, no matter how uninformed, shortsighted, prejudiced or just plain stupid they are. Guess that's just the way things have to be. Hughes, for his part, is cashing his fat paycheck and will keep on doing that thing he does so well.

As for the poster itself, like many who have opined, I fail to understand why Lois Lane was left off, as well as Hawkgirl, as well-known as Vixen (who did make the cut) via the Justice League Unlimited TV series, and any of the female Legionnaires. Oh well. It was Hughes' choice, and you'd think the DC people had final say, so complaining is futile. If I had done a piece like this, I'd have probably had a different lineup, but so would have practically everyone else.

I'm sure Ghost, the Dark Horse character whose exploits Hughes used to chronicle in the early issues of her title, would applaud the wardrobe choice.

Even as I reluctantly add to the media blitz, I just want to say: "My City Screams". How pretentious. Eisner was many things in his Spirit stories, but he was NEVER pretentious.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This is another of those easy-to-write, hard-for-anyone-that-isn't-me-to-care-about posts about comics I'll be getting this week as well as my order for April. So, in the interest of full disclosure, and since my life is (for the most part) an open book, here's what I should be getting this Friday, a whole three weeks' worth:

CASANOVA #13: Will Fraction lapse back into incoherence? Or will he continue to be straightforward a la last issue?

JACK STAFF #15: So nice to have regular Grist. Sounds like something you'd achieve by eating a variety of fruits, doesn't it?

CRIMINAL 2 #2: There will be thugs, and gangsters. And sad, hard-luck women. Or maybe not.

ABE SAPIEN: THE DROWNING #3: This one's not exciting me much, although it's well-crafted.

SCALPED #16: I get the same feeling from this as I did when I was watching great HBO series like Deadwood, and I couldn't wait for Sunday night to arrive. Must-read comics. Wish there was more buzz about it, though.

OMEGA THE UNKNOWN #7: The big Gary Panter issue. I don't revere his work like some, but it is interesting, and I'm curious about how it will be worked into (well, I know it's the comic that Omega's working on while in captivity) this excellent series.

B.P.R.D. 1946 #4: Always happy to see this in the list.

NUMBER OF THE BEAST #1: Like Jog says, it's Sprouse. I will always buy Sprouse.

AQUA LEUNG GN VOL 1- Yeah, I meant to say I reviewed this from a PDF provided by none other than the author himself. Did not influence my opinion one way or the other- remember, I didn't like Amazing Joy Buzzards very much at all. Anyway, you should get this, it's quite good.

CATWOMAN #78- By now, you're probably aware that this is being shitcanned with issue #81. No big surprise, sales were inexplicably low. Can't wait for the inevitable relaunch, probably a "return to that classic Balent style". Shit- I was saving that for my review of the last Pfiefer/Lopez issue...

BRAVE AND THE BOLD #12- my last issue of this. It was fun at first, but it now seems to be running on vapors.

HELLBLAZER #243: New artist this time out. As long as Diggle's writing, I'm good. Of course, I think Jason Aaron's getting a couple of issues soon, but I'm good with that too.

POWERS ANNUAL 2008: I don't have any idea what will be in this. Superheroes, no doubt. And police officers. And angst. Lots of angst.

My April order, for books shipping in June:

100 BULLETS 92

Conspicuous by its absence: the HERBIE hardcover. I just couldn't do it- this order as is was $75! Also, I left off two B.P.R.D. spinoffs, which I'll probably get either collected or perhaps from my comics shop. Also, I'm not quite certain why I preordered that issue of Blue Beetle when the most recent issue I've purchased is #10. Guess I didn't want to get farther behind, but I still have a long ways to go (and not a whole lot of money to bring to bear) before I'm caught up...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Heidi's got the Eisner Awards nominees posted, and since I am nowhere nearly ready to do the reviews I mentioned a week ago, and really need to post something since it's been two days since I have done so, then hey! Why don't we pretend you care what I think as I go through (most of) the categories and make comments! As a special added bonus, you get to shake your head disapprovingly at how few of these citations I actually have experienced first hand, plus, you'll get my annual anti-Hall of Fame rant as an extra special added bonus!

I won't list them all- there are many categories that I don't have an opinion on one way or the other- so you'll have to go to the Beat (I'm sure Tom and Deppey and Blog@ and CBR and...will have them up soon, too) to read the entire list. I have bolded the ones I've read, when applicable. So here I go already:

2008 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees

Best Short Story
“Book,” by Yuichi Yokoyama, in New Engineering (PictureBox)
“At Loose Ends,” by Lewis Trondheim, in Mome #8 (Fantagraphics)
“Mr. Wonderful,” by Dan Clowes, in New York Times Sunday Magazine (accessible online at
“Town of Evening Calm,” by Fumiyo Kouno, in Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (Last Gasp)
“Whatever Happened to Fletcher Hanks?” by Paul Karasik, in I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! (Fantagraphics)
“Young Americans,” by Emile Bravo, in Mome #8 (Fantagraphics)

Damn. Right off the bat my lack of reading sophistication betrays me. I have never sampled the presumed delights of critical darling Mome, nor have I read any of these besides the Fletcher Hanks story, which provided a well-done, if bittersweet, coda to the nutball comics reprinted in that volume.

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Amelia Rules! #18: “Things I Cannot Change,” by Jimmy Gownley (Renaissance)
Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople, by Tony Cliff (self-published)
Johnny Hiro #1, by Fred Chao (AdHouse)
Justice League of America #11: “Walls,” by Brad Meltzer and Gene Ha (DC)
Sensational Spider-Man Annual: “To Have or to Hold,” by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca (Marvel)

Damn. I haven't read any of these either. But THIS is the best they could come up with? Meltzer? Justice League?

Best Continuing Series
The Boys, by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Dynamite)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, by Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, and Andy Owens (Dark Horse)
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
The Spirit, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and Jose Marzan, Jr. (Vertigo/DC)

The only one of the two series here I've read on a regular basis that was consistently...well, good if not great- was The Boys. But it's FAR from the best continuing series. The Spirit was way inconsistent; great one month, not so the next. Y will probably get the sentimental vote, but as you may recall I stopped buying it after issue #9, so I'm not qualified to judge if it's deserving of the honor.

Best Limited Series
Atomic Robo, by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegender (Red 5 Comics)
Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, by Peter David, Robin Furth, and Jae Lee (Marvel)
Nightly News, by Jonathan Hickman (Image)
Parade (with Fireworks), by Michael Cavallaro (Shadowline/Image)
The Umbrella Academy, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)

What? Are you kidding me? Robo is very popular, and I look forward to reading the first trade. I also have the trade of Umbrella Academy, which looks precious and twee in the time-honored Gaiman tradition, coming in a month or so as well. There must be more than this, though.

Best New Series
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, by Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, and Andy Owens (Dark Horse)
Immortal Iron Fist, by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja, and others (Marvel)
Johnny Hiro, by Fred Chao (AdHouse)
The Infinite Horizon, by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto (Image)
Scalped, by Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra (Vertigo/DC)

Glad I don't have to choose between Scalped and Iron Fist- solid dramatics vs. rip-roaring retro escapist adventure, with superheroes. I probably would go with the former, if it came down to it.

Best Publication for Teens
Laika, by Nick Abadzis (First Second)
The Mighty Skullboy Army, by Jacob Chabot (Dark Horse)
The Annotated Northwest Passage, by Scott Chantler (Oni)
PX! Book One: A Girl and Her Panda, by Manny Trembley and Eric A. Anderson (Shadowline/Image)
Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso (Center for Cartoon Studies/Hyperion)

Oh, so the excellent Northwest Passage is a "publication for teens", huh? Coulda fooled me! That Satchel Paige book looks interesting.

Best Humor Publication
Dwight T. Albatross’s The Goon Noir, edited by Matt Dryer (Dark Horse)
Johnny Hiro, by Fred Chao (AdHouse)
Lucha Libre, by Jerry Frissen, Bill, Gobi, Fabien M., Nikola Witko, Hervé Tanquelle et al. (Image)
Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, by Nicholas Gurewitch (Dark Horse)
Wonton Soup, by James Stokoe (Oni)

I'd be amazed if Sweeto didn't win this. I thought Lucha Libre was so bad, I didn't even read the second issue even though I bought it. Maybe someday.

Best Anthology
Best American Comics 2007, edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore and Chris Ware (Houghton Mifflin)
5, by Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Vasilis Lolos, and Rafael Grampa (self-published)
Mome, edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriguez (Villard)
24Seven, vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brandon (Image)

Uh...nope, sorry!

Best Digital Comic
The Abominable Charles Christopher, by Karl Kerschl,
Billy Dogma, Immortal, by Dean Haspiel,
The Process, by Joe Infurnari,
PX! By Manny Trembley and Eric A. Anderson,
Sugarshock!, by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon,

I enjoyed Sugarshock, but never underestimate the mighty Dean Haspiel...

Best Graphic Album—New
The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
Bookhunter, by Jason Shiga (Sparkplug Books)
Essex County, vols. 1-2: Tales from the Farm/Ghost Stories, by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf)
Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
Percy Gloom, by Cathy Malkasian (Fantagraphics)

Essex County was pretty good; "best", I dunno. I guess I should read critical darling Exit Wounds one of these days.

Best Graphic Album—Reprint
Agents of Atlas Hardcover, by Jeff Parker, Leonard Kirk, and Kris Justice (Marvel)
Gødland Celestial Edition, by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli (Image)
James Sturm’s America: God, Gold, and Golems, by James Sturm (Drawn & Quarterly)
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, by David Petersen (Archaia)
Super Spy, by Matt Kindt (Top Shelf)

Honestly, the critic in me says Super Spy but the Fan of the Goddess in me, even though I thought she was treated just this side of shabbily in it, says go with Agents of Atlas. I don't own the hardcover, but I read the singles.

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Strips
(The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, by Winsor McCay (Ulrich Merkl)
Complete Terry and the Pirates, vol. 1, by Milton Caniff (IDW)
Little Sammy Sneeze, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press)
Popeye, vol. 2: Well Blow Me Down, by E. C. Segar (Fantagraphics)
Sundays with Walt and Skeezix, by Frank King (Sunday Press)

My money's on Rarebit Fiend, since Popeye got a lot of attention (don't remember if it won) last year. All of these would make a fine addition to my library, if I had the money. And a library.

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, vol. 1, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel)
Apollo’s Song, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
The Completely MAD Don Martin, by Don Martin (Running Press)
Daredevil Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Marvel)
I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! by Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics)

What? No Showcase Presents the Phantom Stranger? I'm betting on Hanks.

Best Writer
Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Criminal, Daredevil, Immortal Iron Fist (Marvel)
James Sturm, Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow (Center for Cartoon Studies/Hyperion)
Brian K. Vaughan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse); Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC), Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC),
Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse)
Brian Wood, DMZ, Northlanders (Vertigo/DC); Local (Oni)

Of these, I'd pick Brubaker even though I'm at my wit's end with Daredevil. Wood deserves some consideration as well, even though I don't enjoy his work as much as I do some others. Conspicuous by his absence: Matt Fraction, even though he wouldn't get my vote.

Best Writer/Artist
Jeff Lemire, Essex County: Tales from the Farm/Ghost Stories (Top Shelf)
Rutu Modan, Exit Wounds (Drawn & Quarterly)
Shaun Tan, The Arrival (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #18 (Acme Novelty)
Fumi Yoshinaga, Flower of Life; The Moon and Sandals (Digital Manga)

None of the above, although certainly Ware (shouldn't they just retire his jersey by now or something?) and Lemire are good. Don't know much about the other three.

Best Writer/Artist—Humor
Kyle Baker, The Bakers: Babies and Kittens (Image)
Fred Chao, Johnny Hiro (AdHouse)
Brandon Graham, King City (Tokyopop); Multiple Warheads (Oni)
Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
James Stokoe, Wonton Soup (Oni)

The only thing Baker's done that's impressed me in the last ten years or so was Nat Turner, not even close to being humor unless you really have a sick sense of same. I am a heathen infidel in regards to The Goon, and it's too late to get religion now as far as I'm concerned. I didn't recognize Graham's name at first; haven't read King City, but I thought Multiple Warhedz (I believe that's the correct spelling) was outstanding. So he gets my vote. If I had a vote.

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Steve Epting/Butch Guice/Mike Perkins, Captain America (Marvel)
Pia Guerra/Jose Marzan, Jr., Y: The Last Man (Vertical/DC)
Jae Lee, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (Marvel)
Takeshi Obata, Death Note, Hikaru No Go (Viz)
Ethan Van Sciver, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps (DC)

Jae Lee is excellent, but I don't read Dark Tower. The rest of these noms are ludicrous.

Best Painter or Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Ann-Marie Fleming, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group)
Eric Powell, The Goon: Chinatown (Dark Horse)
Bryan Talbot, Alice in Sunderland (Dark Horse)
Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image); 30 Days of Night: Red Snow; Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (IDW)

Templesmith does some wonderful work in service of Mr. Ellis on Fell, the only one of his credits I read...but if his other work is as good, then he's the runaway winner in my book.

Best Cover Artist
John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Lone Ranger (Dynamite)
James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse); Process Recess 2; Superior Showcase 2 (AdHouse)
J. G. Jones, 52 (DC)
Jae Lee, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (Marvel)
Jim Lee, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder (DC); World of Warcraft (WildStorm/DC)

All of these, barring Jim Lee, are superior creators with distinctive styles. I choose Jean over Jones by a narrow margin, and suggest that they just name this particular Eisner after him and leave him off the ballot afterwards.

Best Coloring
Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
Steve Hamaker, Bone, vols. 5 and 6 (Scholastic); Shazam: Monster Society of Evil (DC)
Richard Isanove, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (Marvel)
Ronda Pattison, Atomic Robo (Red 5 Comics)
Dave Stewart, BPRD, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cut, Hellboy, Lobster Johnson, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse); The Spirit (DC)
Alex Wald, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)

Damn, someone loves Amelia Rules, don't they? Of these, the only one whose work I'm familiar with (enough to have an opinion, anyway) is Stewart. I don't recall the coloring on Shaolin Cowboy as being all that exceptional, although it was nice...and it can't be easy Photoshopping Geoff Darrow's art.

Best Lettering
Jared K. Fletcher, Catwoman, The Spirit (DC); Sentences: Life of MF Grimm (Vertigo/DC)
Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
Todd Klein, Justice, Simon Dark (DC); Fables, Jack of Fables, Crossing Midnight (Vertigo/DC); League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier (WildStorm/DC); Nexus (Rude Dude)
Lewis Trondheim, “At Loose Ends,” Mome 7 & 8 (Fantagraphics)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #18 (Acme Novelty)

Again, why not just name this the Todd Klein award and be done with it?

Special Recognition
Chuck BB, Black Metal (artist, Oni)
Matt Silady, The Homeless Channel (writer/artist, AiT/PlanetLar)
Jamie Tanner, The Aviary (writer/artist, AdHouse)
James Vining, First in Space (writer/artist, Oni)

I don't know exactly what this "special recognition" stuff means exactly- do they give them a gold watch or plaque or something? Anyway, I do know that Black Metal rocked my socks a lot more than First in Space and The Homeless Channel.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
Comic Art #9, edited by Todd Hignite (Buenaventura Press)
Comic Foundry, edited by Tim Leong (Comic Foundry)
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael (
Newsarama, produced by Matt Brady and Michael Doran (

Wow- they're pitting websites against printed publications! Of these, I gotta go with the Comics Reporter, especially because Tom links to my reviews of Tom's outstanding interviews and the fun Five for Friday feature. TCR's able to be more timely than the Journal, too. As much as I've loved the Journal over the years (I was a subscriber for about 12 years, until the early 90's), its news is always yesterday's. Newsarama is timely, but the content is sometimes lacking.

Hall of Fame
Judges’ Choices: R. F. Outcault, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson

Nominees (4 will be selected by voters):
Matt Baker
John Broome
Reed Crandall
Rudolph Dirks
Arnold Drake
George Evans
Creig Flessel
Graham Ingels
Mort Meskin
Tarpe Mills
Gilbert Shelton
George Tuska
Mort Weisinger
Len Wein
Barry Windsor-Smith

My choices are in bold. And as always, I deplore this stupid lottery-style sweepstakes picking system. Just because it's a "Hall of Fame" doesn't mean that it has to follow the example of Major League Baseball or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which exist SOLELY FOR THAT REASON AND NO OTHER, and choose a set number of people every year based on some arbitrary voting system. The Eisner Awards are enough of an event in and of themselves, wouldn't you think? Why do they feel like they have to gild the lily with this nonsensical exclusionary-by-nature "honoring" of men who have certainly paid their dues and deserve the recognition while they're alive? You trying to tell me that someone like Mort Meskin didn't "deserve" to be in last year, or the year before? Why can't they put them all in, and come up with ten (or whatever number they come up with) more next year? I don't think they'll run out of deserving candidates, and so what if they do? Will they have to cancel the awards? Is this Hall of Fame voting the sole reason why the Eisners are given in the first place?

I just don't get it. Put these men in while they're still alive and able to experience the honor first hand rather than posthumously. Of course, that's probably not an issue for some of the younger people on this list, like Wein (god forbid), but none of the legendary creators who get nominated every year (and it's not like the committee chooses hacks here- even Tuska can have a case made for him, to name but one) deserve to be left off, and told (like Ron Santo in baseball) "Just wait- you'll get in next year".

And thus concludes my annual Eisner Award Hall of Fame rant. And by extension, this post. Thanks. You've been swell.

ETA 4/15/08: At the suggestion of commenter Chris Butcher, I went to the site they have set up for voting,, and registered. When it came to the scroll-down window, which asked me to provide my bona fides, i.e. am I a artist/writer/editor etc., I selected "other" and put in "journalist" (ha!) and "blogger". It allowed me to proceed! So before they could change their mind, I went in and voted for the gentlemen I bolded above, with one slight change- I selected Reed Crandall instead of Barry Smith, simply because Crandall was an older creator AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED AGES AGO. My basic objection still applies- I see no reason to limit it to five when so many are deserving and the Eisners are AWARDS and not a HALL OF FAME PER SE in and of itself. But I voted! Hopefully they'll let it stand...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Whilst perusing this fun post over at I'm Learning to Share about Millie the Model comics in the 1960's, I was gobsmacked, as our Brit friends like to say (or so we Yanks are told) to see the signature on this cover- none other than Ogden Whitney, illustrator of all things Herbie.

He also did the previous two, and some interior stories as well- or so I read in the Wikipedia entry bearing his name.

It was enjoyable looking at a lot of those Millie covers; as Marvel progressed through the early to mid '60s, of course many of the same people worked on their non-superhero offerings, and the covers (and I'm assuming all of the Millie spinoffs as well, like Patsy Walker) have a similar look and feel- mostly due to the placement of the blurbs, with lettering by (looks to me, anyway) Sam Rosen. A good example is at right (not by WHitney, by the way); with the spy theme and the floating heads, this could have been a cover for Strange Tales featuring Nick Fury and Dr. Strange.

The above Millie cover was the last one before they started imitating Archie comics; guess they felt like that was the way to go to keep sales at a certain level but it's kind of a shame.

Continuing the theme from yesterday, I've been spending some time lately looking at old Marvel comics covers from 1963 till 1968 (when I was ages 3 to 8) or so; those covers make me feel very nostalgic for a time and a place I can only remember in bits and pieces- a memory here of a place, or a memory there of an exchange with people- and it's a weird, if mostly enjoyable, feeling. There's something about the way that those Marvel covers simply looked- the vividness (or lack thereof) of the color, the lettering and placement of same, the inklines- that never fails to make me feel this way. The magic of nostalgia, I suppose.

And with that, this old man will cease his pointless rambling and withdraw to the parlor, where my staff of comely young nurses will feed me, fix me a drink, hand me the TV remote and a stack of books, and leave me to my memories. Zzzz....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spurred, no doubt, by the Entertainment Weekly feature in which various comics people divulge which comic "hooked" them, I've seen a few blogs here and there post their own, which qualifies it as a meme or something. And so since I'm always up for a good meme, here is mine. Kind of.

I must (as so often is the case) set this up before I proceed. I could read well before I started first grade- my small town school didn't have kindergarten or preschool back in the day. Somehow, I just managed to sound out and recognize words, and I would imagine quite often I looked at magazines and the pictures to help me out. My parents would have me read Bible chapters and stuff like that for friends and family to impress them, I guess, and this would be at age three or so. To be honest, I don't really remember the first time I realized I could do this; it seems like I've always had the ability...but I'm sure that at some point a light switch went off in my head and there I went. I'm dead certain comics had something to do with it, obviously because of the words/pictures connection- but I really don't remember the very first comic I ever owned and/or read. It could have been a Dell/Gold Key (bought at the local Ben Franklin Five and Dime), a Harvey, or a Charlton book- probably the first two before the latter. Anyway, the first comic that made a strong enough impression on me to stick in my memory, or that is to say the earliest, is the comic above: TALES TO ASTONISH #50, in which Giant-Man and the Wonderful Wasp battled- and failed to defeat, it was a two-parter- the Human Top. And yes, I got #51 too, if memory serves, I was that excited to find out if Giant-Man ever got his pride back. I don't recall the circumstances of my acquiring it; if pressed, I'd just say that my folks probably got it for me to keep me occupied when they were visiting one of the town drug stores. So, if I had been asked to participate in this survey, this is the comic I'd name. But my memory is fuzzy; when researching the cover dates for the comics I could remember owning (as opposed to reading them via reprint titles like Marvel Tales and Marvel's Collector's Item Classics) it's the earliest one I remember. Its cover date is December of 1963, which means it hit the racks sometime in early Autumn of that year. The more I think about it, the more I'm afraid I'm confusing it with this issue of TTA, #55, which also features a Giant-Man/Wasp/Human Top conflict.

This also ties in with the fact that most of the earliest comics I recall seem to have came out several months later, in late 1964 and early-mid 1965...and hey! Here's a convenient gallery of some of the earliest comics I remember owning:

All of which, combined, I'm sure, with a generous helping of the aforementioned Gold Key and Harvey product, helped make me into the pathetic example of drooling fanboy mush you see before you today.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Via, here is a set of amazing Erykah Badu tour posters and album art done by illustrator EMEK. "Visually dope", as all the hep cats and kittens say.

How did two rights make a wrong?

I posted this a few days ago on the LJ and got no I figured what the hell, I'll post it here and see if anyone reacts. 

I have no answer for you little lamb
I can help you out 
But I cannot help you in 
Sometimes you think that life is hard 
And this is only one of them 
My Heart is breaking for you little lamb I can help you out
But we may never meet again
La La La La La La La La 
Dragonfly fly by my window
You and I still have a way to go
Don't know why you hang around my door 
I don't live here any more
Since you've gone I never know
I go on, but I miss you so
Dragonfly don't keep me waiting
When we try, we'll have a way to go
Dragonfly, you've been away too long
How did two rights make a wrong
Since you've gone I never know
I go on but I miss you so
In my heart I feel the pain
Keeps coming back again
Dragonfly fly by my window (I'm flying can't you see me I'm flying)
You and I can find a way to see
Dragonfly, the years ahead will show 
How little we really know
Since you've gone its never right 
They go on the lonely nights
Come on home and make it right 
My heart is aching for you little lamb 
I can help you out But I cannot help you in 
La La La La La La La La (repeat) 

These are the lyrics to the song "Little Lamb Dragonfly", from Paul McCartney's 1973 release Red Rose Speedway. In my opinion, Speedway isn't one of Paulie's stronger efforts, sorry to say, although I do find myself enjoying its modest charms from time to time.

The official story of "Dragonfly", a melodically lovely if somewhat precociously arranged track that concludes side one of the vinyl LP, is that Macca was inspired to write it after the death of a sheep on his farm. OK, fair enough- but I was listening to this cut for probably the 5,000th time this afternoon when it struck me that this song could be interpreted as a reconciliatory mash note to his former Beatle associate John Lennon, and/or the "Beatles" as an entity. 

From what I gather, this song was written sometime in 1970 or '71 and recorded during the sessions for his Ram album of that same year. It's been documented that the year or two immediately following the breakup of the Beatles was not a particularly happy time for Paul- I've read that he said he felt unhappy, adrift and directionless, and seeing how he was always the most driven of the Four, this is understandable. Relationships with his erstwhile bandmates were strained as a result of all the personal and legal bullshit, and none more so than with Lennon. In fact, John was publicly angry about what he perceived as attacks and comments of a personal nature, in the form of Ram tracks like "Dear Boy" and "Too Many People", with its "Too many people/preaching practices/don't let them tell you what you want to be" line. This led to a lot of spatting, mostly in the form of angry letters in music publications and barely concealed song lyrics, a la John's vitriolic "How Do You Sleep".

However, if my suspicions are true, "Dragonfly" is a lot more wistful and heartfelt. Paul is seeming to take on the persona of the "lamb" in this song, singing reassuring words to himself, reminiscent of "Hey Jude". John could be seen as the "dragonfly", reflective of his caustic nature, and in a more general sense the collective "Beatles" could be represented by the insect's fleeting, darting nature. As with the "and though they will be parted, there is still a chance that they will see" line from "Let it Be", verses like 

Dragonfly fly by my window (I'm flying can't you see me I'm flying)
You and I can find a way to see
Dragonfly, the years ahead will show
How little we really know
Since you've gone I never know
I go on but I miss you so
In my heart I feel the pain 
Keeps coming back again 
certainly seem to me to express similar sentiments. And in this fashion, a modest, mostly overlooked track from one of McCartney's more dismissed releases, if I'm correct in my theory, is suddenly transformed into a low-budget "Let it Be" for the solo years, taking on a whole new gravity and dimension in my ears and head. And yes, through its forlorn sentiment, my heart as well. What do you think? Am I totally off base here?

I think I may have pointed you guys to this before, but my memory ain't what it used to be, plus he's been posting an excellent strip called Kiskaloo for some time now's the blog of Chris Sanders, whose main claim to fame was his involvement with Lilo and Stitch, or as Wikipedia puts it: Chris Sanders, one of the directors of the film, also served as co-screenwriter, co-character designer, and provided the voice of Stitch, a character he first created in 1985.

Anyway, Kiskaloo is charming and amusing, and wonderfully drawn, dare I say Calvin and Hobbes-ian...and I think it will enrich your life if you check it out. So go, already.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


It's time once more for another Spinner Rack Junkie- that more-or-less ongoing feature in which I write capsule reviews of various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted such reviews upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately March 21 to April 4, 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 #89: 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 12 issues. Don't worry, I intend to sum all this up when it's over. B+

ALL STAR SUPERMAN #10: "He's got the whole his hands, he's got the whole world in his hands". That's the song that popped in my head when I first saw the poster-ready cover...Morrison hasn't been this warm and cuddly since, oh gosh, We3 I suppose. While ostensibly advancing the "Superman is dying from solar radiation overdose" plot that I've found myself wondering, on several occasions during the run of this up-and-down book, if he still remembered, it's also a big sloppy wet kiss blown at every Superman story he's ever read. We feel empathy as well as sympathy for Kal-El as he strives to take care of loose ends and unfinished business, even indulging in a little universe building (wonder what Siegel and Shuster would have thought of THAT) and I for one was very impressed with his use of the supporting cast, especially his Willy Wonka-as-super scientist analogue Mr. Quintum, who helps out the residents of Kandor and has become a verty intriguing character in his (its?) own right. Don't want to overlook Frank Quitely's contribution- as always, he has complete synergy with Morrison and while I still hate Supes' baggy uniform that's small beer indeed in the face of Frank's instinctive ability to underplay and lay events out in such a fashion that accentuates whatever feeling- sadness, tension, etc.- that Morrison's trying to get across. I don't know if this packs quite the emotional wallop of Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow", but it's certainly in the discussion. Saddest thing by far, though, is that we only have two more issues left. A+

AQUA LEUNG GN: Big, sprawling, ambitious epic adventure, loose and cartoonish and full of energy, and is obviously the work of two creators who are totally committed to bringing it to life. I first became aware of writer Mark Andrew Smith via The Amazing Joy Buzzards, a rock and roll fantasy which just didn't work for me. This, on the other hand, shows that he's come a long way since then- the big concepts and main plot points are given appropriate gravity, for sure, but he leavens it with some good old-fashioned funny, which includes but is not limited to oddball pop culture references and works very well, in that Scott Pilgrim vein. The story of a young boy who falls victim to intrigue in the palace of an undersea kingdom, and his eventual return and realization of his destiny, it's a real mishmash of a lot of different things- video games, Aquaman, Conan-style pulp adventure- but against all odds it works very well. Paul Maybury's art is an illustration style best described as Mike Avon Oeming meets Paul Pope hanging out and partying with James Kochalka and of course Bryan Lee O'Malley, and it has a certain crude energy that propels this story along. Also, I should mention the vivid coloring job of Kentucky boy Russ Lowery, it makes the often hallucinogenic visuals even more distinctive. Rounding out the package is a series, and by that I mean more than one or two, pinup pages by a host of outstanding artists, all delivering some pretty good takes on the character. Aqua Leung, even though it is derivative of a lot of things (I'm reminded a bit of last year's Black Metal), transcends its influences and proves to be a hugely entertaining story- a graphic novel in the truest sense of the word. And aren't you proud of me for not mentioning Jethro Tull once in this review? Ooops. A+

BRAVE AND THE BOLD #11: Much has been written as of late, expressing disbelief and confusion, in regards to why this isn't selling better. Me, I think it's fairly simple- this retro approach, as much as I hate to break it to people, just doesn't work now. One would think that there could be a happy common ground, in which good guys can be good but not simplistically so, with wonderfully gnarly plot-driven events and adventure and non-stop action (actually, this description sounds like Iron Fist...) and cynical Billy Walsh-type writers wouldn't take characters into "edgy, dark places" just because they think it would be fresh and indulge in envelope-pushing for its own sake...but really, if the old-school approach was still valid, then this would be selling in unprecedented numbers. There's a reason why, by and large, they don't do it like this anymore. This issue gives us none other than Superman battling against and eventually kinda-sorta with Ultraman, a member of one of DC's most contrived Silver Age creations, in service of Waid's hopelessly convoluted Megistus/Book of Destiny/Challengers etc. etc. story arc. Oh, and we also get a Mirror Mirror-style Mxyzptlk. Yawn. It's all been done before, maybe not as slickly, but done before just the same and it's like one of those chocolate eggs you may have given or received for Easter- tasty, but hollow on the inside. Oh, and now, instead of the persnickety claustrophobia of George Perez, we're given the no less earnestly bland but slightly less cluttered art of Jerry Ordway, who always strives mightily to no great effect. Honestly, I believe the reason why this isn't selling better is because we, and I mean comics readers in general, have moved on. What once seemed so enthralling in 1968 or 1973 now seems stiff, stilted and artificial (with a few exceptions) in 2008. Just like how they don't make sitcoms now like they did in the 60's, 7' or even the 80's. While I certainly don't advocate the sort of offputting writing I mentioned earlier in its stead, I believe this sort of thing can be done better. One thing is fairly obvious, though- Waid, Perez and Ordway, all beholden to the 60's and 70's in their entire approach to their work and the aging fanboys that are their enablers, aren't up to the task. C

CATWOMAN #77: I've complained long and (I'm sure) tediously about Selina being involved in this Salvation Run business, but for once I enjoyed this issue- I mean, geez- it was fun seeing her kick Batman's ass for the second time, then follow that up with sizable portions of the Justice League as well. Of course, and I spoil here, it was all in her mind as it turns out...but no less fun for it. That said, I'll be glad when this crossover is done and we can get back to Gotham business. B+

DAREDEVIL #106: What a waste of Paul Azaceta's talents. It's not that Brubaker's guilty of violating any written or unwritten rules by subjecting this character to such Job-like trials and tribulations- he's writing drama, plain and simple, with all the requisite soap-opera overtones that Uncle Stan established so long ago. It's just that I believe he's capable of so much more, and either is too lazy or doesn't care enough to try and give us something that deviates from the Template of Saint Miller, and that's very disappointing. If you like watching worms wriggling on the hook, you're probably digging this. C+

FABLES #71: Willingham writes this one as if he's bucking to script the next James Bond movie, or at least Bourne flick, as the spotlight is cast on the resident superspy, Cinderella- and she's quite likable and super-capable. Not that the other cast members are ignored; the war with the Adversary continues to heat up as plans on top of plans continue to be made, and no, it's not as dry as it sounds. Very entertaining issue, with the usual fine art job by Buckingham and Leialoha. I can't imagine what people new to the book would make of it, but as always, longtime readers will be rewarded. A-

THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST #13: Ho hum, another predictably solid issue of Iron Fist, one which continues to move the grand adventure forward with a proper sense of "sweep", and great characterization. Iron Fist remains remarkably consistent (despite its ever-rotating group of artist) in its consistent excellence. A-

JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER #242: Anticlimactic resolution to what I thought was going to be a ripping good story arc, but at least we'll get a potentially intriguing conflict down the line, or so we're led to believe. I'm beginning to think writing a satisfying ending just isn't in Diggle's otherwise excellent skill set. B+

SECRET INVASION #1: Ooh, look at that cover, so reminiscent of 1950's drive-in monster movies! OK, I caved. On one of my infrequent trips south to my comics shop, I saw several copies of this on the rack, slightly damaged, and thought "What the hell, I'll see what all the kids are talking about in the 'Sphere". After considering reading it standing at the rack, I decided to be kind to the shop and paid my three bucks. This gets off to a cracking start- as Tony Stark and his group become aware of the Skrull doppelgangers, and set out to investigate a Skrull ship that has crashed in the Savage Land. Spider-Woman, who seems to be straddling the fence in her sympathies, tips off the Unregistered group, which includes Wolverine and Luke Cage, steal a Quinjet and get there first. Then, the story goes completely off the rails and lost me entirely, with explosions and people committing acts of destruction while in a trance, saying "He loves you", Marvel Boy (the Morrison one, not the one with the "0" in his name) makes an appearance, a whole bunch of Marvel superguys shows up out of the blue (or out of the spaceship, actually) dressed like it was 1981 all over again, and of course they all fight...and all I could do is throw up my hands. Maybe if I was better versed in recent Marvel history, I might understand better, who knows. I'll say that the first half to three-quarters was a surprisingly enjoyable read, with Bendis' typical naturalistic dialogue style, good characterization and a nice buildup of tension with all the Sci-Fi trappings...but in the apparent desire to make this an action thriller superhero fight epic, it completely lost me. Leinil Yu, with Mark Morales helping to curb his tendency towards scratchiness, tells the story pretty well, but eventually gives in to the chaos too. I don't know. I'm intrigued by this, but I don't know if I really want to buy this on a monthly basis. I suppose I could try and avoid spoilers and wait for the trade, but that kinda takes away the fun of following something that many other comics fans are following (for once, in my case). Stay tuned. B-

WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT #15: Well, it's better than last issue, but this labored diamond smuggling caper is still not all that satisfying. Gotta give Evanier and Aragones points for trying. Paul Smith, despite a tendency to draw some weird, glazed-eye stares on his females at odd times, does a nice job on the action as well as the comedic aspects of the script. He channels that Eisner Studios spirit, no pun intended, very well. This is hardly essential reading, but it's far from a disaster. B-

Two A pluses this time out! What are we to make of it? Can't remember the last time it's happened, that's for sure. Coming soon, reviews of AiT/PlanetLar's reissue of Omaha Perez' HOLMES, RESURRECTION #'s 1-3, THE BOYS #'s 11-17, BLUE BEETLE #'s 7-10, and SALT WATER TAFFY.

Friday, April 04, 2008

It is taking me forever and a day to get those frigging comics reviews done. In the meantime how about some art appreciation?

I don't buy Legion of Super-Heroes these days, although I've had my spells of doing so in the past. I gave Waid and Kitson's most recent reboot a shot, but found it needlessly fussy and Kitson's freeze-dried art gave me the terminal yawns so I dropped it. I am not a fan of the Man who Creatively Bankrupted Marvel For a Decade, so I was not tempted to sample his take in recent issues. But y'know what? If this fellow, DAVID LaFUENTE (say it like Mike Myers said "Daisy Hfuen-tez". No, wait, don't.) were to be assigned the 30th Century Super-team, then I would most definitely give it a try. On his blog, which you visited if you clicked the link, he features a lot of sketches of various characters, mostly New Mutants and Legion characters. In fact, he states early on his intent to draw all the LSH, and I sincerely hope he gets around to Kinetix before he loses interest...

On the right there is Catspaw, a Bierbaum/Sprouse era creation from the early 90's. I liked her, and I liked that brief era.

A hat tip to Stuart Immonen, no slouch himself at the art stuff, for the heads-up. Seems like Mr. LaFuente is going to be illustrating a new Hellcat series scripted by his significant other, Kathryn.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Mr. Door Tree over at the Golden Age Comic Book Stories blog has been doing us all here in the Blogosphere a great service, posting covers and pages from a wide and varied assortment of Golden and Silver age comics and pulps. It's a must-stop site. Lately, he's been holding a Poe tribute of sorts, and today posted the entirety of a Poe comics adaptation of "The Cask of Amontillado" that appeared in Creepy #6 (1966), scripted by Archie Goodwin and impeccably illustrated by Reed Crandall. It's a typically outstanding work by two comics legends. But.

One *little* problem. This particular adaptation has always bugged me, ever since I read the original Poe short story a few years later- and it can be found in the last page, posted above. Poe ended his story as it appears in the first page scan at left, with Montresor bricking Fortunado up in the wall, and the chilling, deadpan "In pace requiescat" as his final word. But, for some reason, Goodwin added an extra page to the story, in which the chamber floods and Montresor is prevented by escaping by the skeleton of Fortunado- an EC-style ending which would suggest that no evil deed should go unpunished. Click on the images, of course, to see them larger.

This still blows my mind, four decades later. Believe me, I have nothing but reverence for the writing of Goodwin; I consider him one of the best scripters in the history of the field. But why he did this, I have no idea. Perhaps he felt like an extra page was needed, to make eight. Perhaps he was under the impression that the Comics Code would object, hardly likely since Warren magazines weren't subject to the code. Maybe, just maybe, he felt like the original ending wasn't satisfying enough or not EC-ish enough, which I find hard to believe. Either way, I think it was a hell of a poor choice by a normally brilliant author.

Anyway, if you want to see all the scans, and don't mind that I spoiled the story, go here and here.

Mr. Tree also makes me a happy boy by posting a killer Jerry Grandenetti Poe adaptation as well, which can be found here.