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What I bought – 1 April 2015

by  in Comic News Comment
What I bought – 1 April 2015

Mrs. Rouncewell holds this opinion, because she considers that a family of such antiquity and importance has a right to a ghost. She regards a ghost as one of the privileges of the upper classes; a genteel distinction to which the common people have no claim. (Charles Dickens, from Bleak House)

The Dying and the Dead #2 by Ryan Bodenheim (artist), Michael Garland (colorist), Jonathan Hickman (writer), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

Not unlike the last collaboration between Hickman and Bodenheim, The Dying and the Dead appears destined to have very lengthy delays between issues – the first one came out in January, and this issue was supposed to be out at the end of February, so it’s already five weeks late. Hickman’s stories don’t really lend themselves to single issues, so it’s not too big a deal, but it does seem odd that the book is already fairly far behind – when issue #2 was solicited, I have to think everyone involved already knew the sell date was ridiculously unrealistic. I imagine that for people who like Hickman’s stories, like I do, waiting for them isn’t really that big a deal, but maybe it is. I think Hickman is a terrific writer mainly because he thinks big, and while he doesn’t always pull off what he’s trying to do, his ambition makes up for a lot. The last collaboration between he and Bodenheim was Secret, which was not one of Hickman’s stronger stories, but it was still entertaining. With this story, he seems to be trying for more, so even if he does fall flat, I expect that it will still have plenty of amazing moments along the way.

This is the kind of comic at which Hickman seems to excel. James Canning, a colonel (although it’s not clear in what army), is offered a deal by the immortal inhabitants of The City, a mysterious place inside the Earth. They need him to recover an object, and in exchange, they’ll cure his wife of cancer. In this issue, Canning gathers his old team – an interesting tidbit about this comic is that Canning and his crew are old men, and the idea of aging plays into this story already and probably will continue to do so – and they discover what they’re supposed to be looking for. Of course, it turns out they already know. Canning is, well, canny. Hickman, as is his wont, spent a lot of time in the giant-sized issue #1 creating a threat and giving us a sense of The City, and this issue also moves at a leisurely pace, as he introduces the rest of the team. Hickman has always been able to turn a cool phrase, and he does so here a few times, which makes the book feel portentous. He also does a good job showing how dangerous these men are even in their advanced years, and how people underestimate them because of their age. It’s a clever device, but I hope he doesn’t use it that often. He also does a nice job showing how trapped these men are by their pasts and even their abilities. Hickman doesn’t go for bombast, which is a good thing, as Canning and his crew have seen it all before and don’t need hyperbole. We don’t see the “bad guys” in this issue after we spent a lot of time with them in issue #1, but as the book is set in 1969, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “N-word” cropped up soon enough (the bad guys’ lair is near Berchtesgaden, and we all know that that means!). Setting it in 1969 allows Hickman to place it in a historical context, too, and it will be interesting to see where he goes with that.

Bodenheim is a very good artist, and his crisp, detailed line works quite well with Hickman’s more grounded stories (yes, this comic features a fantastic underground city, but it’s still a city, and Bodenheim draws it like one). He ages Canning and his men really well, with deep lines on their faces and just a general sense of collapse in their frames. This helps when he shows what someone like Doyle can still do to young punks, because while their age isn’t an act, it’s clear that they’re still dangerous even as they slowly shrink. He contrasts the men well with Shurra, the guardian from The City who travels with them, as she looks almost like a Nick Dragotta character from East of West (this is a fairly macho comic, and I’m curious if the problematic way Hickman writes Shurra in these first two issues will pay off in some way down the line). Garland, like he did on Secret, uses an unusual palette of shades for base hues, so that Doyle’s nursing home is all sickly green until two scenes of violence occur, when we shift to reds, while Oklahoma gets a lot of dusty browns and Washington, D.C. gets power blues. Shurra, interestingly enough, is stark black and white no matter what the colors in the rest of the book are, and it’s a clever choice, as she stands outside the “real” world. Garland is a crucial part of the team, and it’s nice that he and Bodenheim work well together.

I have no idea how many months it will be until issue #3 comes out, but so far, The Dying and the Dead is a neat little thriller. It would be great if it came out in a more timely fashion, but that’s the chance you take with Hickman’s comics!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Graveyard Shift #4 (of 4) by Fran Bueno (artist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer), and Jay Faerber (writer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

When I read issue #3, I wondered if Faerber would go “Raw Deal” on us, which means that our heroes, Liam and Hope, would just start killing everyone instead of trying to arrest the bad guy even though he’s a vampire. Well, they can’t really arrest him, but at least Liam is able to make a legal case against him. Faerber also makes some of the killing – and there’s some good killing, believe you me – credible, as Liam shouldn’t be able to get the drop on more than one vampire, and once that element of surprise is gone, he should be in big trouble. It’s still a fairly standard vampire story, but Faerber is good enough to make it interesting, and as I noted last time, Bueno is tremendous on the art, which kicks it up a notch. He gets to draw some nice double-page spreads and splashes, and his colors – along with his special effects – are really nice, too. Faerber puts a slight twist on a vampire story by making it a love story and also by making Hope the vampire and not Liam (that feels more radical, and I don’t quite know why), and Bueno does a wonderful job making it look great. I do wish it had been one issue longer, as it feels rushed, but such is life, I guess. It should make a nice trade!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Maxx: Maxximized #17 by Michael Heisler (letterer), Sam Kieth (story/artist), William Messner-Loebs (scripter), Ronda Pattison (colorist), Jim Sinclair (finisher), Michael Benedetto (assistant editor), and Scott Dunbier (editor). $3.99, 20 pgs, FC, IDW.

Hey, it’s the Maxx’s real name! Whattayaknow?

I don’t really know what to say about The Maxx. I mean, only punks like me haven’t read it yet if they wanted to, and everyone who wants to knows how it ends already does (even though I don’t!), so I guess it’s just doing its thing, and while I don’t quite get it, I still like it? I mean, Messner-Loebs and Kieth do seem to be moving toward something significant, but they might be just leading us toward more silliness. I don’t know – this comic is 20 years old, and I appreciate that IDW is doing this, but there’s not much to say about it. It’s neat.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Cluster #3 (of 4) by Ed Brisson (writer/letterer), Damian Couceiro (artist), Michael Garland (colorist), Cameron Chittock (assistant editor), and Eric Harburn (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

I knew it was coming, but it’s still a bit disappointing. I refer, of course, to the fact that the story takes every familiar turn you expect, from the death of one of the characters to the secret of the planet, from what happened on Earth with Samara to a betrayal at the end of the issue. There’s nothing surprising about any of this, but that’s okay, because it’s still entertaining. I’ve often mentioned that I don’t care as much about plot as some people, which is why I don’t care about spoilers as most people, and so a pedestrian plot doesn’t matter all that much to me. Brisson is trying to entertain, and he careens along at a breakneck speed, giving us just enough characterization so that we do care a little when bad things happen to these people. We’re not going to get close to enough in four issues to make this a classic, but it’s perfectly fine to make it a bit more interesting. With comics, there’s always art, too, and Couceiro and Garland are doing fine work on this book. Midlothian is a gritty, dirty place, and that’s reflected in everything from the dusty streets to the clothing that the inhabitants wear. Couceiro makes the armored sentinels that the soldiers drive a clanky, ramshackle mess, as if the army on the planet doesn’t get fancy new stuff all that often. Obviously, there’s a good fight, too, which ends badly for at least one character. And Garland colors it all in earth tones, which makes his splashes of blue stand out really well.

I’m not surprised at all with the way the story turns, but Cluster is still pretty fun. Brisson can write stories with real bite to them, but while this one has the requisite twists, it does feel like he’s connecting dots. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that if other things come into play, and they do in this series. So yeah, it’s still a decent read. There’s nothing wrong with that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #4 (of 5) by Tamra Bonvillain (colorist), Sina Grace (artist), Hope Larson (letterer), and Michael Stock (writer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

This morning, my 9-year-old daughter took a look at the latest cover of Penny Dora and the Wishing Box. She’s known about this series for over a year; Sina Grace told her about it at the Amazing Arizona Comic Con last January, but I haven’t given it to her to read yet because I was waiting until it was finished (she has plenty of comics to read right now anyway – she’s currently reading The G-Man Super-Journal by Chris Giarusso, which isn’t technically a comic but comes out of one, and Smile by Raina Telgemeier, which I’m pretty sure she’s read before). She asked what was happening on the cover, and I told her that Penny gave the wishing box to her best friend, who used it for crazy wishes, including turning Penny into Cinderella. Norah asked why Penny would do that, and I told her that she thought Elizabeth would use it for small wishes, not crazy ones. Norah, who’s responsible far beyond her years, said that Penny should have realized that her friend would use the box for evil. She then said that she was going to call Elizabeth “The Evil One.” Man, you do not want to cross Norah.

Speaking of which, my wife does not think it’s a good idea that I go see Furious 7 with Norah. My question is: WHAT JUDGE WOULD RULE AGAINST ME IN DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS?!?!?!?

I also showed Norah the latest unbelievably awesome trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road. She is very disappointed that the very white dudes in it aren’t alien ninjas. She said if she ever makes a movie, there will be alien ninjas in it. NORAH SHOULD MAKE ALL THE MOVIES!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Manhattan Projects: The Sun Beyond the Stars #1 by Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Pitarra (artist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 25 pgs, FC, Image.

This came out a few weeks ago, but my store didn’t get it because Diamond hates consumers (which is strange, considering they’re in the business of selling things). This week I happened to drive by a … um … different comic book store, so I stopped in and found it. I hope my retailer will forgive me!!!!

Hickman decided to relaunch The Manhattan Projects with a #1 issue, because everyone loves a #1 issue! Unlike Jim Zub, who shamelessly did this with Skullkickers, Hickman does this without any sense of humor, which is perfectly fine (although this issue is quite funny, so it’s not like Hickman doesn’t have a sense of humor). I do wonder about going this route, however, because if you are one of those people whose Pavlovian response to a #1 issue is to buy it, will you understand any of this? What’s Yuri Gagarin doing in an alien prison? Why is Laika in some kind of exoskeleton and able to speak a human language? Just what the fuck is going on?

But hey, whatever works for Hickman and Pitarra, right? If this moves a few more units, good for them, because this comic is pretty great, and I’d love to see Hickman get to do whatever he wants to with it. I wonder if he’s going to do shorter series, focusing on different characters and each relaunching with a #1 issue. So we’ll get six issues or so about Yuri’s adventures in space, but then we’ll head back to Earth with a new #1. That would just be such a Marvel thing to do, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, in this issue a creature gets away with decapitating a merchant because he was too lazy to walk to a different merchant selling the same thing at a lower price. It’s just that kind of comic book.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Weird Love #6 by Bill Draut (artist, “Love Slaves”); Paul Gustavson (penciler, “I Was a Waterfront Girl”) and Bill Ward (inker, “I Was a Waterfront Girl”); Pete Constanza and Dick Beck (artists, “Heart Clinic”); Al Avison (artist, “I Was a Child Bride”); Charles Nicholas (penciler, “The Hand Holder”) and Sal Trapani (inker, “The Hand Holder”); Sheldon Moldoff (artist, “Stay Away from Married Men”); Joe Staton (artist, “Lonely Week-End”), Don Perlin (writer/artist, “I Married a M♡nster!”); Clizia Gussoni (editor), and Craig Yoe (editor). $3.99, 45 pgs, FC, IDW/Yoe Books.

Oh, Weird Love, why do I adore you so? Is it because you reprint a story in which a Communist factory inspector plans to rape a woman right in front of her boyfriend:

Or is it because that story ends with the narrator telling Americans to guard their liberty well?

Or maybe it’s because you contain a story in which Paul Gustavson and Bill Ward get to draw va-va-va-voom ladies like Sal, the “waterfront girl”:

Dang, girl.

Or could it be the amazing story in which a middle-aged “doctor” explains the six phases of female love to a patient and somehow manages to be completely condescending about them all, even the “good” kind that mature women eventually find? I’m pretty sure this story was written by Kelly Thompson:

Or could it be the excellent use of 1950s/1960s slang employed in these stories?

Or maybe it’s the story in which parents allow their 17-year-old to get married and then her husband can’t understand why she acts like a teenager. So of course, he treats her like a child.

Oh, man. He doesn’t actually spank her, because her husband realizes that he loves her too much to cause her “one second’s pain.” Well, that’s nice of him. Holy shit, this comic.

There’s another story in here in which a salesman is totally flirting with a woman, leading her to believe he’s going to jump in bed with her, but then she’s the bad guy when he reveals that he’s married and she takes some revenge. And in another story, the woman doesn’t really marry a monster – he’s an actor who plays a monster on a kids’ television show, but the woman is humiliated by his lowly job and gets all grumpy before she sees the light. My favorite panel, though, is the one below, where a woman has to wonder about whether she can rescue her boyfriend from sharks before she rescues her boyfriend from sharks. Just fucking get to it, Arline!

Rating: INSANE!!!!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Lady Killer #4 (of 5) by Laura Allred (colorist), Crank! (letterer), Joëlle Jones (story/artist), Jamie S. Rich (story), Jemiah Jefferson (assistant editor), Shantel LaRocque (assistant editor), and Scott Allie (editor). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

After an issue in which Jones and Rich moved characters into position for the big finale, this issue gets back to Josephine fighting others and going on the run, as Peck tries to kill her. She discovers another agent, Ruby, who seems to have a bone to pick with Peck, so they team up and find a dude who presumably knows a thing or two about killing. It’s all leading up to the climax, which I assume will be fairly violent.

Josie does some really bad surveillance work in this issue, to the extent that I wonder if Peck and Ruby are setting her up, as she takes her kids along when she follows Peck and they make a lot of noise. Maybe it can be explained by the fact that Peck doesn’t even think about kids so he doesn’t notice them, but it still seems weird. But Josie also does good surveillance work by getting the stereotypical nosey neighbor involved, which works well. Jones’s art remains excellent (I’ll get to my choices for Top Female Artists below, but the fact that Jones isn’t on the list is a traveshamockery), especially when she draws the conversation between Josie and Edith – Josie actually looks coquettish – which is odd because she’s on the phone, but Jones knows that people often act on the phone the way they would when they’re having a face-to-face conversation, and Josie is trying to get Edith to do something for her – and Edith looks so happy to be asked to spy for Josie and so angry that kids might be smoking reefer. Jones is great with everything in the book, but she really excels at the way the characters interact with each other.

And who doesn’t love Gene? The dude just wants his beer and cheese. He’s a simple man, with simple pleasures.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

No Mercy #1 by Alex de Campi (writer), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Carla Speed McNeil (artist). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

No Mercy is a pretty cool comic that has some bumps, but is generally a fine read. De Campi has a pretty good track record with scary stuff, and McNeil’s realistic art grounds the book quite well, even though de Campi hints at dark things coming down the pike. First, the premise: a group of American students who are about to enter Princeton head to the Latin American country of Mantaguey to build houses. Halfway through the book, their bus goes off the road and plummets to the bottom of a ravine. So far, it appears only one person has died – a drug-dealing uncle of their guide, Sister Inés – but things don’t look good. It’s getting dark, there are coyotes, people are injured, their cell phones are broken, and they have a suitcase full of cocaine that surely needs to be somewhere other than at the bottom of a ravine. So, yeah. De Campi is putting the screws on early and presumably often.

It’s a good set-up for a story – so good, in fact, that it’s been done before (hell yeah Olivia Wilde in Turistas!), but torturing stupid Yankees never gets old, apparently. There’s always a whiff of condescension in these stories, as if other countries are Wild West-type places where lawless outlaws roam the land and only the white-skinned Americans have any shred of decency. I trust de Campi to avoid that trap – so far, we’ve only met a few natives, and one is a nun (nuns are “safe” natives, obviously, because they’ve been effectively cleaved from society even if they’re secular clergy) and the other is an unctuous drug dealer who totally would have tried to rape an American if the bus accident hadn’t killed him – but who knows if she will. The bus driver literally disappears from the book after he drives the vehicle off the cliff – after the crash, there’s no sign of him, and no one wonders where he is. That’s odd. De Campi tries to make up for it by presenting the freshmen as fairly awful human beings – Tiffani (see below) is an idiot, Chad is a bully and a casual racist, Travis is a tool, Gina is a ditz – or ciphers – Charlene is a cutter, which isn’t surprising as Chad is her brother; the Quiet Kid doesn’t speak (and he’s from Centralia, Pennsylvania, which sounds interesting except for the fact that there are no children living in Centralia as of the 2010 Census); and the two minorities on the bus, who get very few lines. We don’t exactly want them to die, but we certainly wouldn’t mind many of them getting taken down a peg. In this case, of course, that means visiting a country full of bad swarthy people. This is why I really hope de Campi doesn’t conform to a lot of the stereotypes of these kinds of stories. It’s a gripping first issue, so I do hope that it avoids the pitfalls!

McNeil’s art is always good, and she does a fine job with a lot of different characters, giving them unique characteristics without making them stereotypes. Of course Travis would wear a stupid scarf, but it also fits with his overall outfit, so it’s not completely douchey. Of course Gina would wear a tank top with two cherries on it – it just feels right for her character. McNeil has always been good at facial expressions, and she does a wonderful job with all of them, especially Sister Inés’s disbelief at the idiocy of some of the Yankees and her rage at Uncle Tito when he invites himself onto the bus (de Campi does a nice job with this, too, as Murray, the leader of the group, cheerfully allows Tito to ride the bus, just like a stupid American would). I don’t know if de Campi or McNeil came up with the idea of the kids speaking in emoticons, but that pushes their “American-ness” a bit too much – how would Tiffani even pronounce those emoticons in the panel below? (It’s stupidly funny in Nextwave, but I don’t know if it’s supposed to stupidly funny here.) It’s a minor thing, because I have a feeling the kids won’t be speaking in emoticons too much from now on, as shit just got real. But it’s still kind of annoying.

Despite the obvious tropes de Campi is playing with, these kinds of stories are popular for a reason, and they can be great (she could go Lord of the Flies on us, after all). This is an interesting first issue, and I’m cautiously optimistic about continuing with the series. We shall see!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

G.I. Joe #7 (“The Fall of G.I Joe Part Seven”) by Steve Kurth (artist), Tom B. Long (letterer), Karen Traviss (writer), Kito Young (colorist), and John Barber (editor). $3.99, 20 pages, FC, IDW. G.I. Joe created by Donald Levine.

At this point, when we’ve reached the penultimate chapter of Traviss’s epic, there’s not much to say except that we need to wait to see how she pulls it all together. The pieces are still moving into positions, and the set-up is there for plenty of violence next issue – whether girl-on-girl-on-girl violence (Scarlett versus Siren versus the Baroness) or Cobra-on-Joe-on-kid violence (Isaac Craft is becoming more violent with every issue, and presumably someone is going to have to take him down). Kurth might get to draw some people shooting at each other instead of many, many panels of people talking to each other (that’s not a criticism, by the way, because Traviss’s plot has been quite cool, but I do feel bad for Kurth), but we won’t know until next month, will we? For now, this is just a neat G.I. Joe comic. If Traviss sticks the landing, it could be a great one.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Westward #10 (of 10) by Ken Krekeler (writer/artist). $4.50, 48 pgs, BW, Kinetic Press.

And then there’s Westward.

I’ve been a fan of Ken Krekeler since I read his first comic, The Colodin Project, in 2009, and I think it’s a huge shame that he hasn’t become a big name in the field by now. In June 2012, he began Westward, his most ambitious project to date, and it’s taken him this long to finish it because he has to self-publish it. I don’t know if Krekeler is so fiercely independent that he wants to publish it on his own or if he’s tried to get it published by a company and they rejected it, but if it’s the latter, those people are stupid. So he’s been running Kickstarters for the last few issues, and that takes a while. But now the final issue is here, and Krekeler gives us a fine ending to his masterpiece.

He can’t avoid some of the clichés of a genre piece – there has to be a fight between Victor and the Big Bad Guy, but because of the identity of the Big Bad Guy, it becomes far more complex than we might expect, as Victor is still dealing with the fact that he’s not human – he’s a robot created by his father to house the personality of his dead son – and the BBG plays on this psychological weakness as much as he tries to defeat Victor physically. So the battle isn’t just between two people for physical supremacy, it’s a fight for Victor’s soul, especially as Penelope, his niece, has come up with a way for him to upgrade, if only she can reach him in time. Krekeler has done such a great job with the characters in this comic that the battle between Victor and the BBG, with Penelope sort-of in the middle, is far more devastating emotionally than most “superhero” fights. It’s also nice to read a fight where it’s really unclear who’s going to come out of it, because Krekeler doesn’t have to worry about keeping anyone alive. He gives us a good resolution, too, as it’s not always about physical strength – it can also be about mental strength and trust. It’s really one of the better superhero fights we’re going to see in comics, and it’s nice that Krekeler is smart enough to resist the standard tropes of the genre. He’s done it before, in the terrific Dry Spell, so it’s not terribly surprising he does it here, too.

His art, as usual, is superb. He packs each page with panels, making the fight brutal but balletic, as neither combatant backs down and neither pulls punches. We can feel the hate emanating from both of them, and Krekeler’s art reflects that – he uses black shards of ink a lot more in this comic than he has in earlier issues, which speeds up the action but also makes it feel as if the two men are literally ripping pieces off of each other. For someone who uses models in his work, his action scenes are remarkably fluid, and it makes me wonder why others who work in this kind of art creation can’t do it, too. His use of models means that his facial expressions ought to be good, and they are, as he has the characters react to each other very well even in the heat of battle. At certain points, he uses gray scales and what looks like watercolors to blur the scene a little, which makes sense given what’s happening. Krekeler knows how to create emotions with his art, whether literally or figuratively with the material he uses, and it brings the steampunk world he created for this comic more to life than we might expect.

The comic is still funny, too – Victor remains a bit of an egotist even as he learns to be more human, and Krekeler doesn’t let us forget that. Throughout the series, we’ve gotten some wonderful humorous touches to keep everything grounded. Yes, serious things happen in this comic. But Victor is still kind of full of himself. And that’s pretty awesome.

I can’t stress enough how good this comic is. It’s a wonderful story about what it means to be human, how children please or disappoint their parents, how parents disappoint their children, and what happens when people are forced to change against their will. It looks great, and it’s full of action. I really, really hope that Krekeler is able to put together a complete collection, because the single issues are almost impossible to find. I know that some people discovered Krekeler when Action Lab reprinted Dry Spell last year (and Krekeler is working on a sequel to that right now), and it would be nice if more people could discover him through this comic. If he does manage to put together a collection, I’ll be sure to trumpet it from the rooftops!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dark Ages by Dan Abnett (writer), I.N.J. Culbard (artist/letterer), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $14.99, 88 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

This looks neat. Medieval warriors fighting aliens! Yay!

Deep State volume 1: Darker Side of the Moon by Ed Dukeshire (letterer), Justin Jordan (writer), Ariela Kristantina (artist), Ben Wilsonham (colorist), Cameron Chittock (assistant editor), and Eric Harburn (editor). $9.99, 88 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

So there’s a government agent whose job is to make sure that the various black ops the government is running don’t spill out into the public eye? Yeah, that sounds neat.

Girlfiend by Arnold and Jacob Pander (writers/artists), Roxy Polk (assistant editor), and Philip R. Simon (editor). $19.99, 282 pgs, BW, Dark Horse.

The Pander brothers are very good creators, and they’re swell dudes, too. This is a vampire story, but we shouldn’t hold that against them!

Groo vs. Conan by Sergio Aragonés (writer/artist), Mark Evanier (writer), Lovern Kindzierski (colorist), Tom Luth (colorist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Thomas Yeates (artist), Everett Patterson (assistant editor), and Patrick Thorpe (editor). $16.99, 92 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

The contrast between the “Conan” art and the “Groo” art almost makes this worth the price. I hope the story is good!

Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus volume 8 by Digital Chameleon (letterer), Kazuo Koike (writer), Goseki Kojima (artist), Dana Lewis (translator), Everett Patterson (assistant editor), and Chris Warner (collection editor). $19.99, 668 pgs, BW, Dark Horse.

This is up to, what, 2600 pages by now? I wonder how long it runs?

Money spent this week: $103.65. YTD: $1569.38.

**********

So Kelly and Brian just spent a few weeks counting down the top 25 female writers and artists – here’s the master list in case you missed some of it. Like the ones Brian does for the best ever writers and artists, the list tends to skew more modern, even more so in this case as women have been wildly underrepresented in mainstream American comics for decades, and this blog is very much concerned with mainstream American comics. I don’t necessarily agree with some of the placements, but that’s not surprising, as we all have opinions. Whenever lists like this come out, I’m always surprised by how high some people rank, and with this, it’s even more amazing because some of the women simply don’t have very long careers behind them. I mean, some of my favorite female creators don’t have super-long careers! But that’s what happens when women have been so marginalized for so long. It was a pretty cool endeavor, though, and a lot of people commented about how they didn’t know some of the creators but were going to check them out, which is pretty much what, I think, is the point of all of these lists. I know that a lot of my reviews aren’t to convince you that I know what I’m talking about, but that these books exist and maybe you’d like to check them out, too. We’re all in this together! But of course, I wanted to list my Top Ten, so here they are:

Writers:

1a. Dylan Meconis.
1b. Erika Moen. I’ve written many times that Meconis and Moen are my two favorite people in comics, so you might not be surprised that I had them as #1 and #2 on my list (I put Dylan first because I tend to like her subject matter a tad more than Erika’s, but I hate to choose between them). Their comics are superb, and they’re both wonderful people. Find and read everything they do. NOW!

3. Rutu Modan. Both of Modan’s graphic novels, Exit Wounds and The Property, are brilliant. Let’s hope more are coming!

4. Kathryn Immonen. Yes, her work for Marvel is pretty good, and her Sif arc on Journey into Mystery was phenomenal, but her indie work with her husband (like Moving Pictures) is even better. They have a new one – Russian Olive to Red King – coming out soon, and I’m really looking forward to it.

5. Alison Bechdel. Are You My Mother? is pretty good. Fun Home is great. Bechdel didn’t punch me in the face when I met her in Tempe a few years ago even though she knew I had dug myself in deep writing about Fun Home. She’s awesome.

6. Kate Beaton. I’ve learned to appreciate Beaton’s artwork, although it’s probably never going to be my favorite. But she’s just so damned hilarious it doesn’t matter.

7. Lucy Bellwood. See what I mean about new people rocketing up lists? Bellwood has been making comics for only a few years, but they’ve all been very good, and she’s getting better. Plus, she is also awesome. Read more about her here!

8. Tarpé Mills. Mills created Miss Fury in 1941 and wrote and drew the strip through the 1940s. IDW has released two big hardcovers collecting the work, and it’s something you should really check out. It’s absolutely nuts, as Mills packs all sorts of crazy plots into it and draws it all beautifully.

9. G. Willow Wilson. I really liked Cairo, and while I didn’t love Air, Ms. Marvel is a delightful series. Wilson does a really nice job with characters you don’t usually encounter in comics, which is keen.

10. Carla Speed McNeil. I haven’t even read all of Finder, but I still think McNeil is a terrific writer. She seems to be doing more art for other writers these days (see: No Mercy), but I do hope she writes more stuff in the future.

Artists:

1. Joëlle Jones. Damn, Jones is a great artist. How she didn’t end up on the Top 25 list is a mystery to me.

2. Amanda Conner. Hey, she was #2 on the actual list! What do you know about that?

3. Jill Thompson. She was #4 on the actual list. I think more of her than you people do!!!! My daughter would probably put her at #1. She loves Jill Thompson.

4. Emanuela Lupacchino. Lupacchino’s art is a bit like Terry Dodson’s. Yeah, it’s pretty excellent.

5. Dylan Meconis. Yeah, she’s a pretty damned good artist, too.

6. Rebekah Isaacs. I’m pretty surprised Isaacs didn’t make the list. She’s terrific, and I figured she’d be famous enough to be on everyone’s radar. Weird.

7. Tula Lotay. If Kelly and Brian do this list in two years, I bet Lotay would be on it. She’s great, and she’s just now starting to get more high-profile work.

8. Bilquis Evely. Here’s another very new creator, as she’s only done Doc Savage and Shaft in the States, but she’s very good. I lament the fact that eventually DC and Marvel will scoop her up to draw something I don’t want to read. Until then, I will enjoy her stuff!

9. Tarpé Mills. Her art is as good as her writing!

10. Erika Moen. No one draws sex comics like Erika, I’ll tell you that much.

I hate making lists like this, because I leave so many wonderful creators off. This list might change tomorrow if I had to sit down again and make another one (I’d still have Meconis and Moen at the top, though). But it was fun to do.

I happened to come across this Reddit thread. The rant is epic, and the first comment (I assume it will remain the first comment, although it’s not the oldest one) is wonderful. I never go on Reddit, but this is a lot of fun.

I don’t know if you saw it, but a Price Is Right model accidentally gave away a car. Apparently her job is safe, and she’s been pretty good-humored about it on Twitter:

In other news, damn, they make those ladies dress in skimpy outfits on The Price Is Right. I don’t remember the dresses being that short or the heels that high when I stumbled across the show in the summer during the 1980s.

Hey, let’s take a look at The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “All the Pretty Girls”fun. (2009) “And then this one doesn’t want to admit she’s fallen in love”
2. “Jesus Christ Pose”Soundgarden (1991) “You’re staring at me like I’m driving the nails”1
3. “Escape from the Killing Fields”Ice T (1991) “You try to keep us running and running faster, but I ain’t runnin’ from ya, I’m runnin’ at ya”
4. “S.I.M.P. (Squirrels in My Pants)” – 2 Guyz N the Parque (2008) “How can I qualify for government grants?”2
5. “The Broad Majestic Shannon”Pogues (1988) “There’s no pain, there’s no more sorrow – they’re all gone, gone in the years babe”
6. “Woman Oh Woman”Foreigner (1977) “I hope that you can see this is nothing like our love was meant to be”
7. “Where Have All the Good Times Gone!”Van Halen (1982) “Once we had an easy ride and always felt the same, time was on our side and we had everything to gain”
8. “Statues”Foo Fighters (2007) “We got by, though we never needed much – A sliver of hope, no diamond rings”
9. “99 Red Balloons”7 Seconds “Everyone’s a super hero, everyone’s a Captain Kirk”
10. “The Stars of Track and Field”Belle and Sebastian (1996) “You liberated a boy I never rated and now he’s throwing discuss”

1 I guess this is appropriate, given the weekend.

2 This is one of the two Phineas and Ferb songs I have on my iPod. Because Phineas and Ferb is awesome. I’m quite bummed that “Somebody Give Me a Grade” isn’t on iTunes.

Hey, it’s time for some Totally Random Lyrics!

“He said, ‘Luke, stay away from the darker side
And if you start to go astray, let the Force be your guide;
I know Darth Vader’s really got you annoyed
But remember, if you kill him, then you’ll be unemployed’ ”

Yeah, that’s pretty easy. Such is life!

In case you don’t remember, I’m skipping next week because my daughter is having back surgery on Wednesday and I don’t even know when I’ll get to my store much less read them and review them. I might combine them with the following week’s, but we’ll see. I don’t even know how long she’s going to be in the hospital – her doctor hopes it will be less than a week, but we shall see. I will try to get my hands on her X-ray so you can see how totally messed up her back is. It’s pretty terrible, so we’re really hoping that surgery helps her. He said he couldn’t even straighten her spine completely, which sucks, but what he can do should alleviate a lot of her discomfort. So I’ll be busy in the latter half of next week. I’m sure nobody will mind if I don’t review some comics for a week!

Have a great weekend, everyone. If you’re doing anything for Easter, enjoy yourself. We’re having a nice dinner, but other than that, we’re just chilling. Should be groovy!

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