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What I bought – 15 August 2012

by  in Comic News Comment

“Stories have no point if they don’t absorb our terror.” (Don DeLillo, from Mao II)
































This is the most I’ve spent on comics in a single week in a long, long time, if not the most I’ve ever spent on comics in a single week (I’ve been buying comics weekly for almost 24 years, so I can’t really say if it is or not), and I don’t really care all that much even though it was a bit of sticker shock when the guy rang me up. I don’t spend a lot of money on anything else, so I never feel like I need to curtail my comic book spending too much – I probably should, but it’s not like I’m not buying food if I spend a lot on comics. I spent $211 on comics this week (my retailer gives me a 20% discount on everything I buy … well, not just me, but everyone who comes into the store), and I consider it money well spent. You may disagree! I do hope that next week is a bit, you know, less.

I also decided to do something different with the panels this week. Instead of panels I consider “Airwolf,” I used completely random panels. I simply closed my eyes, flipped through the issue, stopped and pointed, and whatever my finger landed on, that’s the one I used. I did get some nice panels, but I also got some weird ones. Just for fun!



Avengers Academy #35 (“Final Exam Part 2”) by Christos Gage (writer), Andrea Di Vito (artist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I’ve been trying to ignore Marvel’s policy of double-shipping except in the occasional snide remark, but it really is starting to affect my enjoyment of the comics themselves. I buy three Marvel books in single issues, and each one has had issues with this policy. Thunderbolts has managed it the most effectively, I think, because Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey have been able to keep up (Shalvey is off the book now, but prior to this) and when they couldn’t, someone at Marvel was wise enough to put artists on the book whose style was similar to theirs (Matthew Southworth, for instance). X-Factor has managed slightly less effectively, but usually the book has been able to keep an artist on for an entire arc, mainly because David tends to write short arcs. Finally, there’s Avengers Academy. The book is already pissing me off (despite its quality, which I think has remained relatively high) because Gage, despite what appears to be his desires, can’t keep it from brushing up against stupid crossovers, and even though I disagree with Mr. Chad about the whole “Emma Frost kills Juston’s Sentinel” story, I do think the book suffers whenever Gage is forced to acknowledge the greater events of the Marvel Universe (as well as he wrote Absorbing Man and Titania, I don’t love the “Fear Itself” story arc, and I liked the “Avengers Vs. X-Men” one even less). But despite that, I could deal with the crossovers because Gage is writing an interesting story. However, recently he’s had to deal with an artists’ parade that’s worse than X-Factor‘s, and I honestly don’t know why Tom Grummett drew one (1) issue in a row before Di Vito had to spell him (Gage simply writes in the back that Grummett and Hamscher jumped ahead to “crush” issue #37). I mean, I know he has his fans, but Grummett always seemed to me to be notable for one thing: he could work fast. I don’t expect him to pencil all 658 issues of Avengers Academy that come out in 2012, but one in a row? I’m not even blaming Grummett all that much, I’m blaming Marvel and I’m blaming the consumers. Marvel is, presumably, responding to consumers, who want anything with “Avengers” or “X” written on it as much as possible. But sales continue to plummet, Marvel is rebooting in the same way as DC is – i.e., not learning a damned thing and just renumbering – and this whole thing is vaguely distasteful. Am I alone in thinking that I really don’t want this many issues of a certain title in a year, especially if the artist changes every single issue? It’s bizarre that artists are treated so shabbily by Marvel and DC, because the last time I checked, comics were a visual medium. I don’t know – I’m just rambling. I do know that I saw Di Vito’s name on the cover and cracked this open and thought, “Fucking really?” Not because I love Grummett and hate Di Vito (they’re both decent if largely nondescript artists), but because I really think this policy makes these comics even more ephemeral than comics usually are. I know not many comics become classics that people want to read over and over, and I know Marvel and DC don’t really care about that, but if they didn’t, why would they treat some of their older stuff with such reverence? Can you imagine a Marvel Masterworks of Avengers Academy in 50 years? I can’t, because it has no visual identity. It still has a bit of potential, and the fact that it’s as entertaining as it is is a credit to Gage, but with a few exceptions, it’s junk food comics. I like junk food comics sometimes, but it’s kind of depressing that it – and a lot of Marvel’s output – has been willfully turned into junk food comics by this weird shipping policy. And I eat enough fucking junk food.

Sigh. Oh, yeah, this comic. Stuff happens. You know, like it does.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




Bad Medicine #4 (“Killing Moon Part 2 of 3”) by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir (writers), Christopher Mitten (artist), and Bill Crabtree (colorist). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

Presumably Douglas E. Sherwood lettered this, but the only credits are on the front cover, and he’s not listed. Hey, fuck that guy, right? He’s just a fucking letterer. They could train a marmoset to do his job!

I don’t really have much to say about this comic right now. It’s a decent horror mystery comic, and DeFilippis and Weir are good at writing that sort of thing and Mitten is good at drawing that sort of thing, so it’s entertaining. If Mitten has a weakness, it’s emotions, so a few pages of this, where the characters need to express their feelings non-verbally, aren’t as strong as they could be, but then werewolves show up and everything’s all right again. Sorry, that’s all I got. It’s an entertaining comic.

I have no place else to mention this, so I’ll do it here: the last comic Weir and DeFilippis worked on, Frenemy of the State, was co-written with Rashida Jones. She was on The Daily Show a few weeks ago and said she was busy adapting it into a screenplay. This seems like the most heinous example of “I’m going to write a comic to use as a screenplay,” but I think we can forgive Jones because she actually does write screenplays, which makes me think she actually helped write the comic instead of just having her name on it as “Idea person.” Plus, she’s so darned cute. How can you stay mad at her?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




Batwoman #12 (“World’s Finest 1: Blood Ties”) by W. Haden Blackman (writer), J. H. Williams III (writer/artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Williams is back on the art for Batwoman, so I assume people are going to start buying it again. It’s odd that when I claim comics are 65% art, that’s a controversial statement, yet apparently a lot of people are buying this strictly to look at Williams’ pretty pictures. I’m not judging – buy this comic for the art if you want! It is, after all, pretty fucking gorgeous.

Two things bug me about the writing, though. One is Wonder Woman’s narration. I know that she’s going to narrate like some archaic Greek character, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. “I place my sword on the breast of Gaia … and vow to hunt down the serpentine and destroy them. In her name and mine.” Really? I mean, if someone speaks like that, it’s … different, somehow. It’s still goofy, but it’s tough to imagine someone thinking like that. But whatever – it’s Wonder Woman, so I guess we have to live with it.

Then there’s the parents of the missing children. You know what, drawings of people who don’t exist? Fuck you and your fucking problems. Williams and Blackman want us to sympathize with them because it’s been “months without answers” and their non-white children haven’t been found yet and Maggie Sawyer is a shitty cop, but fuck them. She tells the parents that they know she hasn’t given up because she talks to them every day, and they basically tell her to fuck off. I really fucking hate the “if this child were yours” defense, because it’s completely specious but enables you to sound like you fucking care more than other people. Fuck you, Isabella and Felipe. I know that your kid is going to show up safe and sound because this is a mainstream superhero book and nobody would have the fucking stones to slaughter the children, but you don’t fucking deserve it. Oh, you want instant results? You want instant gratification? Congratulations – you’re true Americans. The cop working on your case is killing herself to solve it AND making sure she keeps you in the loop? She can go fuck herself, I guess. I wish Maggie and Gordon had told Felipe and Isabella to go solve their kid’s disappearance by themselves and see how well they would do. Fuck them.

Yeah, I’m bitter. That was a really annoying few pages, because it’s cheap manipulation that doesn’t advance the narrative one bit. Maggie could easily be stressed just by the case when she throws Kate out of her apartment instead of having parents shit all over her. Williams and Blackman have actually been doing a decent job making this mystery stretch out somewhat organically, and I’m surprised I’m not sick of it yet. This is why I wouldn’t want to be a cop. You’re fucked if you do and you’re fucked if you don’t. Sigh.

Still, it’s a nice-looking comic. There is that.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker #8 by Joe Casey (writer), Mike Huddleston (artist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

For the final issue of Butcher Baker, Casey and Huddleston have a treat for us: There are 113 panels in this comic book. There are penises (usually more than one) in 30 of them. Yes, a bit over a quarter of this comic has dicks in it. In fact, this issue caps off (so to speak) a series in which, I would bet, more dicks were featured than any non-porn title in comic book history. That’s pretty impressive.

You really should get the hardcover of all eight issues if you’ve been skipping the single issues. Huddleston continues to be at the top of his game on this issue, and Casey gives us a satisfying wrap-up that ends, no lie, with an orgasm. You know, like all comics should! This is sheer insanity in comics form, and while Gødland will probably end up being deeper and more meaningful, Butcher Baker is the most balls-to-the-wall thing Casey has written in a while, if not ever. It must be the shades.


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally random panel:




Elephantmen #42 (“Sleeping Partners Part One: The Seed of Opposite Species”) by Richard Starkings (writer), Axel Medellin (artist/colorist), and Dave Sim (artist). $3.99, 34 pgs, FC, Image.

There are five pages of Dave Sim’s art in this comic. Ebony Hide is dreaming, and he’s back in his barbarian world from a few issues ago. Sim draws him crouching in the snow holding a sword. It appears that Sim drew one drawing of an elephantman crouching in the snow and holding a sword, and then Starkings just used that single drawing and showed different parts of it (close-ups on the eyes or the hand holding the sword, for instance). It’s pretty impressive. Did Sim get paid a page rate, or did he just get paid for one drawing? It’s a nice drawing, but come on!

Medellin is back on art, in a story that will apparently have a great deal to do with Sahara’s pregnancy, Panya’s pregnancy, and Vanity getting closer to Ebony. It’s a lot of set-up, but Starkings does end with Hip going into the sewers and finding a clue to the murders of elephantmen, so there’s that. As usual with this series, Starkings is writing both a fascinating science fiction thriller but also confronting some of society’s deepest issues before they become issues. He actually quotes the Human Chimera Prohibition Act of 2005 in great detail, which is very interesting because it’s a law that anticipates something. Creating human chimeras isn’t actually possible yet, but it’s already been banned. Starkings, as usual, is examining what happens to our definition of human when creatures created in a lab are unleashed on the world. It’s been a theme throughout the series, but now that sex has entered the equation a lot more, Starkings is doing a nice job bringing this theme to the fore. It’s just one reason why Elephantmen continues to be one of the best series you can buy. It’s true!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




Fatale #7 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), and Dave Stewart (colorist). $3.50, 27 pgs, FC, Image.

It’s Brubillips, so you know – there’s some nastiness, Josephine once again turns men into pudding even though she tries not to, and the weird shit in 1970s Hollywood keeps being weird. It’s well done, and it’s intriguing, and it’s very nice to look at. I’m a bit surprised that Suzy is jealous because Miles has fallen under Josephine’s spell, because it’s the 1970s in Hollywood, man! Shouldn’t she care not at all, or ask to join in? Wasn’t everyone banging everyone else with no fear of consequences? That’s what I remember from my parents’ Saturday night parties! Oh, wait, did I type that out loud? Never mind. Carry on.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




Hellblazer #294 (“The Curse of the Constantines Part Two: The Writing on the Wall”) by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouter), Stefano Landini (finisher), Brian Buccellato (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Seriously, Simon Bisley, that’s totally fucked up. Dude.

So not only does Milligan reference a long-ago issue of Detective Comics he wrote (okay, not really – he’s just referencing the same legend, but I wonder if he remembered writing about the hungry grass as a Batman story), he has Epiphany placate a ghost with chicken tikka. Because Epiphany is awesome. Oh, and John does some things, too. I mean, who really cares, right? Epiphany calls a place a “skanky old field covered with dog-turds and rubbish,” which isn’t quite as glorious as the episode of Better Off Ted where a typo in a company memo allows everyone to swear at each other (watch all the best NSFW parts here; it’s only two minutes long, and you won’t regret it), but it’s not bad. Seriously, DC – you can kill John Constantine off all you want, but if Milligan and/or the editors of DC kill off Epiphany, I will cut you. I’m totally cosplaying her at Comic-Con next year, you see if I don’t!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




Pigs #8 (“Everything”) by Nate Cosby (writer), Ben McCool (writer), Will Sliney (artist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

I mentioned a few months ago that issue #8 would be the final one of this series that I bought, but I didn’t expect it to take so long to come out. It’s still the final issue of the series I’m going to buy, however. It’s actually not a bad issue, as the prisoner explains what’s going on with the group (perhaps it took so long because Cosby and McCool rewrote it to answer some questions because people were getting grumpy about not knowing), but it’s just not enough to keep me going. It’s an intriguing idea that never really took off after that first pretty cool issue. Oh well. Farewell, Pigs!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




Saga #6 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (artist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

I will, however, be sticking with Saga, even though it’s still not thrilling me. I just don’t know what it is. I’m not a devoted fan of Vaughan – I think Y: The Last Man is vastly overrated, for instance – but I do like his writing, but something about this just isn’t working for me. It’s weird, because I notice weird annoying stuff in this book perhaps more than I do in other comics, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m predisposed to find it and ignore in other books because on a gut level I like them better. Like Alana telling Marko that Hazel can just “stew” in her dirty diaper (even though it turns out to not be a dirty diaper). As someone who’s still changing diapers even though neither of my kids are babies, I really feel uncomfortable with this – I try to change my daughter as soon as she poops, and when I can’t, I feel really bad. See? This thing is one panel, and it’s not even that Hazel has pooped, because she hasn’t. But stuff like that gets under my skin with this book, and I wonder if it’s because I haven’t loved it from the get-go. If I thought the first five issues were like the Holy Grail of comics, would that one line bother me so much? I doubt it.

Other than that, this issue is … okay? Things happen, our heroes fly away in a rocketship made out of wood (yes, really), The Will is pissed off, and the smartest man in the universe writes romance potboilers. I don’t know – it’s mildly entertaining, and Staples’ backgrounds have been getting better (strangely enough, as the book is taking a two-month break so she can get more lead time, so presumably she’s been pushed pretty hard recently even as her backgrounds have gotten better), and Vaughan still knows how to structure a comic so that it ends on a moment that almost demands you come back for more, but … something is missing from this book. For me, it’s the thrill factor. I know it’s there for some people (I imagine that Kelly, who’s too high and mighty for our little blog anymore now that everyone in the known universe contributed to her Kickstarter project, still loves this comic, and more power to her), but it’s not for me. I can point at nitpicky things that bother me, but I imagine people can nitpick some of the comics that do thrill me. That’s just the way it is. I know that people have been writing about how Vaughan is bringing back this sense of science fiction grandeur to comics, but I just read the forty-second issue (or forty-third, maybe – there was an extra issue in there somewhere, and possibly two) of a science fiction comic that blows Saga out of the water and has been bringing back a science fiction grandeur to comics for years now. So there’s that.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




Obscuri Ultores #179 (“Gods & Monsters”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Kev Walker (artist), Frank Martin Jr. (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Parker is finally pulling the threads together, as the future Thunderbolts find out that whatever the Fauxvengers are doing in the present causes the future in which they currently find themselves. Walker has a lot of fun designing all these mutants who live outside of the protected zones of Mega-City One (whoops – I mean Mondo City, of course), and Hernandez is a good choice to take over the “present-day” sections of the book, as his style is similar to Declan Shalvey’s but isn’t just the same. I don’t quite know why the cover gives away the ending – that’s Sultan Magus behind Skaar, and he’s just turned him human. This scene happens at the very end of the comic, which is quite odd. Yes, I know I just gave it away even more explicitly, but Thunderbolts doesn’t rely on cliffhangers like the end of Saga does (can you believe __________ and __________ showed up at the end of that issue?!?!?), so I hope you’ll forgive me. It’s still a typically good issue of Thunderbolts, and Clor gets a strangely touching moment in the middle of it all. What’s that all about?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




X-Factor #242 (“Breaking Points Day Two”) by Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Lots of things were on my mind when I read this comic, and very little of them had to do with this particular issue. Oh, it’s fine enough – Darwin is trying to kill Rahne’s kid because, you know, it’s a comic book, and that white wolf chick from the other dimension tries to rescue him and then Rahne and Rictor and Shatterstar show up and people get stabbed and Darwin shoots a big honkin’ gun while holding it with one hand in the best Liefeldian tradition, and we move on. Guido has an “X” through his name on the recap page because he’s no longer on the team (although we still don’t quite know what happened to him), and I assume next issue Rahne will have one as well (not because she’s dead – cool your jets!). David is slowly tearing the team apart, and I suppose, being David, he’ll put it back together with Jamie (I have a feeling Jamie will be the last man standing, because clearly David sees him as the rock of the team) and some others. Maybe Boom-Boom? Only if she totally wears this costume, though.

Anyway, that’s not what I was thinking about. You see, a few days ago I read John Seavey’s post at Mighty God King about giving up on a creator. Seavey was writing about giving up on a creator because their views about the world (political, mostly) don’t align with yours, or at least are so out of whack with yours that you can’t overlook it. The usual suspects came up – Orson Scott Card being the most common one, perhaps because so many nerds of my age read Ender’s Game when they were but lads and are really disappointed that Card turned out to be a homophobic asshat. It’s an interesting discussion, even though I don’t really have a dog in the race, because my sole criterion for determining whether I stop reading someone’s work is whether the work sucks or not. Yes, I still read Card books for years after I found out he was a homophobic asshat. Anyway, Peter David’s name came up in the comments thread, as a few people won’t read David’s work because of the scans_daily kerfuffle (David writes about it here, and MGK himself wrote about it, and I’m linking to that mostly because I like the term “dumbassopalooza.” (Some guy named Cronin wrote about it too, but we certainly don’t want to give that dude any publicity!) That seems like a really dumb reason to not read a guy’s work, but hey, I have a dumb reason for my Mark Millar boycott (I boycotted him when he could still be called “good,” not when he started to suck), so whatever floats your boat. But I was thinking about that while I was reading this. I was also thinking about the obituary heard ’round the comics blogaxy, as Alan David Doane obituaried Joe Kubert by calling him a “scab” for working on Before Watchmen and comparing him to Joe Paterno, who he says “perpetrated” the “covering up of child abuse.” I’m not even touching that one, as my feelings about the misinformation about the Jerry Sandusky thing is well know, but man, ADD – comparing a guy working on a comic book to a theoretical person who covers up child abuse? That’s pretty low. Doane apologized for that but didn’t really retract his statement too much, and that’s fine. I think if you’re going to write an obituary, everything in the person’s career is fair game, and Kubert certainly worked on BW with his eyes open, but Doane seemed a bit harsh. Anyway, he’s very strident about never reading anything by any creator who worked on BW ever again and even retroactively going back and looking at their old work in a new light. Man, that’s a lot of effort. (ADD took down the obit, but he “apologized” for it here, and Vinnie Bartilucci parses the obit here and here, in case you’re interested.) As you might recall, I’m avoiding BW because it sounds like a terrible idea, and from what I’ve read in the reviews, I was correct to skip them (Colin rips Rorschach #1 and Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo new assholes in this post, and it is glorious). I don’t like that DC is doing Before Watchmen because it’s a dick move, but it gets back to what I’ve mused on before – where do you draw the line? Are you ever going to find a creator who completely aligns with your beliefs and has never made a mistake in judgment or taken a gig just for the money or accidentally killed a Thai prostitute? I doubt it. If the work sucks, don’t read it. Nothing else really matters. Chuck Norris is a raging asshole politically, but I know someone who recently went to his UFAF convention in Las Vegas and said he was totally involved in all the events and was a hell of a nice guy. Neither of those facts is going to stop me from watching motherfucking Delta Force, because it’s fucking awesome!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:




Zorro Rides Again #11 by Matt Wagner (writer), John K. Snyder III (artist), Mike Malbrough (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

I was wondering where issue #10 of this series was, and it turns out I missed it when it came out. Dang it. That’s okay – I’m sure I can find it, and while this issue was a tiny bit disjointed as a result, it wasn’t that bad. There’s still the female Zorro (Zorrina?) wandering around being all hot-blooded over vengeance, there’s still that crazy dude who wants to kill our hero, and there’s still Zorro. It’s still drawn very nicely by Mr. Snyder, and it’s still entertaining if slight. So, yeah. I’ll still track down issue #10, but it’s odd how little I missed it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally random panel:


The Art of War by Kelly Roman (writer), Michael DeWeese (artist), and Jason Arthur (letterer). $22.99, 346 pgs, BWR, Harper Perennial.

This came out a couple of weeks ago, and I have forgotten to mention it. But now it’s arrived in comics shoppes, and I won’t forget! I reviewed the uncorrected proof here, and it’s nice to see it in glorious black-and-white-and-red. This is still one of the strongest graphic novels I’ve read this year, so if you’re interested, give it a look.

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes by Corinna Bechko (writer), Gabriel Hardman (writer/artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $14.99, 88 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Gabriel Hardman is a good artist. I know, we break the big stories here at Comics Should Be Good!

Green Lantern/Green Arrow by Dennis O’Neil (writer), Neal Adams (penciller/inker), Dick Giordano (inker), Frank Giacoia (inker), Dan Adkins (inker), Berni Wrightson (inker), Cory Adams (colorist), Jack Adler (colorist), John Costanza (letterer), and Joe Letterese (letterer). $29.99, 361 pgs, FC, DC.

I wonder if the back-up story in Flash #226, which doesn’t feature Green Arrow, is being reprinted for the first time here. I wonder that because the other stories have a much flatter color process, while the story from #226 is more in line with the way Adams has been recoloring his Batman stuff recently. Has it been reprinted before? Does anyone have it in any other reprint format?

Hulk Season One by Fred van Lente (writer), Tom Fowler (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $24.99, 99 pgs, FC, Marvel.

While the Marvel “Season One” graphic novels have been okay at best so far (well, the ones I’ve read), I will say that Fowler’s art on this looks superb. That might not be surprising, because Fowler is good, but it’s really excellent, and I’m glad he’s doing it on a fairly high-profile book.

The Manara Library volume 3 by Milo Manara (artist) and others. $59.99, 266 pgs, (mostly) BW, Dark Horse.

Lots of collaborations with Federico Fellini in this book. It’s beautiful, of course, and it looks far weirder than the first two volumes of this library collection (I skipped the first “erotic” volume, because that’s just not my thing). That is a good thing.

The Red Diary/The Re[a]d Diary by Teddy Kristiansen (writer/artist) and Steven Seagle (writer/translator). $29.99, 143 pgs, FC, Image.

I wrote about this book when it came out, and it bears repeating: Teddy Kristiansen created a comic called Le Carnet Rouge. Seagle wanted to translate it, but he spoke neither French, in which the book was published, or Danish, into which the book had already been translated. So he used a technique he came up with in college – he looked at the Danish and came up with the word he thought it resembled in English, whether it was an actual translation or not. This is a flip book, so the art is reprinted twice, with two different translations – one is Seagle’s using this technique, and the other, I assume, is an actual translation from the Danish into the English. It’s quite odd, but I’m really looking forward to reading this. Seagle and Kristiansen collaborated on It’s a Bird …, one of the best graphic novels of the past decade or so, and even before that, Seagle was writing stuff like Solstice, which is also brilliant. Seagle’s the kind of guy who seems to do poorly on big-time superhero stuff but kills it on non-superhero stuff, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Plus, of course, the book looks beautiful.

Uncanny X-Force volume 4: The Dark Angel Saga Book 2 by Rick Remender (writer), Jerome Opeña (artist), Esad Ribic (artist), Robbi Rodriguez (artist), Dean White (colorist), Jose Villarrubia (colorist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), James Campbell (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $19.99, 124 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Hey, Jerome Opeña’s back. How nice!

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I was watching a clip from Letterman the other day, and as I’ve never actually watched an entire show of his nor have I heard him in a while, I was shocked by how old he sounded. Maybe he was feeling under the weather, but he sounded almost like he was cackling. He’s 65, which isn’t all that old, but he sounded 90. Does he always sound like that these days, or was this a particularly bad day? Does anyone watch Letterman regularly?

Those people who thought I was trying too hard to take potshots at conservatives last week will want to steer clear of FotB Rob Schmidt on Facebook. He’s my friend, and I’m glad, because he’s relentless about linking to interesting news items, all of them attacks on conservatives, even over stuff I think is not really something we should be ripping conservatives for. But that’s not the point! A few days ago he linked to an article about a new law in Nebraska requiring schools to set aside time to say the Pledge of Allegiance. That was very weird, mainly because I wasn’t aware that there are public schools in this country that DON’T say the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m not getting into the whole “pledges of allegiance are how the Nazis got started” rhetoric that some people have been writing – I would imagine other, non-Nazi countries have pledges of allegiance without turning fascist – but I’m just surprised about the lack of it in public schools. My daughters both say the Pledge in their schools, I said it when I was growing up, and I just asked a 28-year-old if she said it growing up, and she did. So is it up to states these days? Is it up to school districts? I actually had to say it the other day at my daughter’s school’s parent organization meeting, and as I am a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, I simply omitted the “under God” part. I’m just very curious about this – did any readers not have to say it when they were growing up? Do any of you have kids who attend schools where it’s not said? It’s very interesting to me. I’m just wondering what the big deal is. I said it every school day for 12 years and it didn’t turn me into a “my country right or wrong” zealot. Maybe that’s because I have a brain and can make up my own damned mind about this country.

In funner news, here are the 10 greatest television appearances by the cast of The Expendables 2. If you’ve blotted Bruce Willis shilling for Seagram’s Wine Coolers from your brain, well, too bad. The highlight has to be Ah-nold in The Jayne Mansfield Story (with Loni Anderson!), but Stallone on Kojak is pretty good, too.

Finally, watch the “trailer” for Ghost Tits. It’s a hilarious send-up of conspiracy thrillers. And Olivia Munn is there, too.

It’s late on Thursday, and as I’m busy Friday, I want to get this posted tonight, so I’m skipping my iPod songs and Totally Random Lyrics. Plus, this week my iPod has been weirdly bland. I like the songs, because I like all the songs on my iPod (they wouldn’t be on there if I didn’t), but there’s been a lot of Prince, Genesis, Indigo Girls, and Pearl Jam in bunches for the past few days. “Shuffle” my ass, iPod! Maybe next week the songs will be more interesting!

Have a nice day, everyone, and I hope you’re all well!