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What I bought – 3 June 2015

by  in Comic News Comment
What I bought – 3 June 2015

A man haunted by a fixed idea is insane. He is dangerous even if that idea is an idea of justice, for may he not bring the heaven down pitilessly upon a loved one? (Joseph Conrad, from Nostromo)

The Maxx: Maxximized #20 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.

The Maxx ran for 35 issues, so we still have a little way to go, and it’s interesting that Kieth and Messner-Loebs decided to end this part of the story – I wonder if it was partly so when we catch up with the characters again, Julie will have her kid and they could incorporate it more into the story. I know it’s a comic and you could just jump ahead in the middle of an issue, but I wonder if we’re going to catch up with these characters after Julie had her baby. Who knows – I haven’t read the story, so don’t tell me!

I don’t have much to say about a 20-year-old series – it’s neat, and Kieth’s art is amazing, and I’m sure it will be interesting to read the entire thing when IDW finished reprinting it. But I mean, it’s 20 years old. What can I say about it?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

No Mercy #3 by Alex de Campi (writer), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Carla Speed McNeil (artist). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

One way for de Campi to make sure this series lasts even though she’s killing off characters left and right is to make each moment last a really long time, so a very large bulk of this issue is about Chad and Charlene, the siblings who loathe each other, trying to get off the coyote-filled bus before Travis and Anthony (the “Quiet Kid”) blow it up. Chad is a complete scumbag, so Charlene is trying to figure out a way to kill him, and the two trying to blow up the bus make for a convenient murder scenario. It doesn’t quite work out the way she wants it to, but I do hope this situation will come to a head next issue, because I can’t imagine de Campi can string it out too long. But she splits the group, as Sister Inés and Anthony head off to the nearest village, 20 miles away, which means that the kids will have to fend for themselves and Charlene better find a protector quickly, as Chad is unsurprisingly not happy that she tried to kill him. I mean, he’s a total scumbag, but I can still understand why he’d be the tiniest bit upset.

As usual with stories like this that hit the ground running, it’s been hard for de Campi to get me to care too much about the characters. There’s some back story with them, but because we don’t know it, it’s tough to really feel bad for Tiffani, for instance, as she mourns her friend, or to care about the extreme sibling rivalry of Charlene and Chad. De Campi hasn’t quite made the characters interesting or even sympathetic enough, and that’s too bad. When she writes Grindhouse, she can kill characters and not worry too much about making the deaths meaningful because the tone of the book is completely different and usually she’s just going for shock value. Obviously, part of this is shock value, but it’s also clear that she wants us to care more about the characters she’s dispatching here, but so far, it’s not working as she wants. It’s not a bad comic, it’s just that it doesn’t have as much impact as I imagine de Campi wants it to have.

McNeil is good, naturally, although so much of the book takes place at night that a lot of it is quite dark, which I never love. So much of her career has been spent drawing comics without a ton of action in them that she’s still not great at using the layouts well for the action, so Charlene looks cramped in a few places when she moves quickly, like when she punts a coyote (which is pretty keen, of course – she punts a coyote!!!!). But McNeil is so good at facial expressions, so we move from Chad’s psychopathic threats of Charlene and McNeil’s terrific drawing of his scary face to Travis’s idiotic happiness when the fire he doused in issue #2 starts burning green. Later, when Chad tells Inés that Charlene can’t trek to the village with her, McNeil does a wonderful job both with Chad’s fake concern and Charlene’s utter disappointment and fear. De Campi is writing a psychological drama as much as a physical one, and McNeil is very good at that aspect of the book.

I’m still not sure if I’m going to buy this for long – it’s not a bad read, but at the same time, I’m not sure if I care all that much what happens to these characters. But we’ll see. Maybe I’ll care more as we get further into it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Wicked + the Divine #11 by Clayton Cowles (letterer), Kieron Gillen (writer), Jamie McKelvie (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), and Chrissy Williams (editor). $3.50, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

Gillen has mentioned that he’s not necessarily bound by this time period to tell stories about the Pantheon, and in his plans are stories about other times when the Pantheon walked among people, and while issue #12’s cover appears to feature one of the modern-day characters, I wonder if now might be the time to shift time periods, because Holy Shit Does Shit Hit The Fan In This Issue! I mean, you might expect violence based on that cover, but man, Gillen really goes where I, at least, didn’t expect him to (some of you smarter people might have guessed, but as we all know, I’m not very bright). It’s a terrific issue of this terrific series, because it shows, once again, that Gillen is fearless when it comes to storytelling. It’s the difference between slaughtering characters for shock value and changing things in an emotionally devastating way. In many of his series, Gillen is able to build up all the characters so that anything that happens to them is brutal, and he’s done it again with this comic. Early in the series, Lucifer’s fate didn’t hit as hard because we didn’t know her, even though it was a nice swerve, but now, we’ve gotten to know all the characters, so all the stuff that happens in this issue is pretty hardcore. Gillen is really good at this kind of thing – as I’ve said for a while, his plots aren’t always great (although he’s getting better at them), but his work with characters is brilliant, and that’s why his comics work so well for me. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

As always, McKelvie does amazing work on the book. Bapomet’s attack on Inanna is handled well, as McKelvie shows their personalities in their fighting styles, with Baphomet being a bit more brutally straightforward while Inanna is a bit more balletic. The end of the book is stunning, as McKelvie does amazing work both the beautiful stuff and the horrific stuff. Wilson’s colors are amazing, too – he uses that neon shine well, and that kind of coloring works really well with McKelvie’s crisp lines. The book has always been beautiful, and this is just another example of it.

I know some people aren’t in the bag for Gillen and McKelvie as I am (new Phonogram in a few months, whoooooooo!!!!!), and that’s fine. I’m just calling it like I see ’em, and right now, this creative team (including Wilson and even Cowles) is just killing it. I cannot wait to see where Gillen goes after this issue.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Zero #17 (“Psychomagic”) by Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), Ales Kot (writer), and Robert Sammelin (artist). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

Last week, I mentioned that Material was Kot’s worst comic since Wild Children, yet a week later, we get the penultimate issue of Zero, and while it’s still not quite as good as the early issues (the continued presence of blowhard William S. Burroughs really puts a dent in the quality of the issue), it’s still a good comic, as Kot has laid the foundation so well that he can get away with blaming all of humanity’s ills on an alien entity. Not much has happened in this comic over the past three issues, ever since Burroughs showed up in the comic, because Kot has started explaining things, and his explanation is a bit silly, but because he’s done a nice job with Edward Zero (who has never been the best character, but at least we know some things about him), we care more about what happens to Zero as his life disintegrates. The fact that all evil can be traced to an alien entity is bizarre and goofy, but Zero’s quest for meaning in his life is fascinating, much more so than whatever the hell Burroughs is doing. Sigh. William S. Burroughs. Fucking really?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw #6 by Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Jimmy Betancourt (letterer), Kurt Busiek (writer), Benjamin Dewey (artist), and John G. Roshell (letterer). $2.99, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

Busiek sets up an interesting conflict in this issue, as Learoyd, the human champion, uses guile to defeat the buffalo, which offends not only the buffalo but the other animals as well. It’s a nifty conflict because it speaks to the trickiness of humans as opposed to the (supposed) straightforward nature of animal (which is simplistic, of course, as almost every predator uses traps), as even the plotting animals led by Sandhorst are appalled by Leoroyd’s treachery. Seven-Scars, naturally, sees nothing duplicitous about hiding an army while he parleys with Learoyd, but he can’t believe Learoyd would destroy the cliff above and avalanche his soldiers to death. Learoyd embraces any method to defeat his enemies, and Seven-Scars, perhaps because he’s the Hulk of this comic (by far the strongest one there is), has never even contemplated stealth. Of course, Sandhorst also proves that he’s as devious as Learoyd, as he can’t let the human get any of the credit for saving the animals. Busiek, in one issue, presents several levels of betrayal, and only the human champion is honest enough to admit that he will do anything to win. Does that say more about Learoyd’s commitment to winning, his capacity for deception, or the animals naïveté and hypocrisy? We’ve certainly seen that the animals aren’t above stabbing others in the back, but perhaps Learoyd’s breaking of the parley is so destructive that it lets Sandhorst and his cronies know that this champion they’ve brought out of the ether is out of their control and very dangerous to their plans. We already know this, even if Learoyd seems completely uninterested in the animals’ petty feuds, so Busiek doesn’t need to spell it out too much, and incorporates all these undercurrents into the larger story, which is about Learoyd throwing down with a giant bison. You know, like you do.

While I love Dewey’s artwork (the image of Seven-Scars towering over Learoyd at the parley is amazing), I’m bummed by the big explosion that brings down the cliff. Dewey, I assume, draws in the sound effects with the explosion (that’s usually not the letterer’s job), and he puts “Whoom,” “Koom,” Koom,” and “Kroom” right in the middle of the page. I suppose this is because it means he doesn’t have to draw as much, as the effects cover almost the entire middle third of the page, but it’s a bummer, because we don’t get to see as much of the cliff exploding. It’s the crucial moment in the comic, and we don’t get to see a lot of it. Bummer. Dewey, however, gets to draw quite a lot of fighting in this issue, and he does very well with it – he makes Learoyd and Seven-Scars’s fight fairly brutal, and he makes it clear that Learoyd can’t really defeat Seven-Scars without making him too overmatched. It’s always been a gorgeous comic, and this issue is no exception.

I’ve written before that the book has taken its time to really grab me, but it’s getting there. As I’ve noted before, Busiek isn’t really the kind of writer who grabs you by the throat (Thunderbolts #1 notwithstanding), but I trust him very much, and this is a pretty interesting comic. We’ll see where the next arc goes!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Sixth Gun: Valley of Death #1 (of 3) by Crank! (letterer), Cat Farris (writer/artist, “Lil’ Sixth Gun”), Ryan Hill (colorist), Brian Hurtt (writer), A.C. Zamudio (artist), and Charlie Chu (editor). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

As I’ve noted with the other Sixth Gun mini-series, this is only really “important” if you’re a completest – the main story continues to chug along nicely, and these ancillary mini-series are just to fill out the characters a little bit. I mean, the quality of the comics is incidental to this – if you want to know the main story and don’t feel like spending 4 bucks a pop on these issues, feel free to ignore them. If you want to read some more stories set in this universe and starring some of the characters that show up in the main story, then you can check these out.

“Valley of Death” feels even more incidental than the previous ones, as it does star some of the characters from the main story, but while the others were at least related to the Six Guns a bit, this takes place during a time when the Guns weren’t even in play, so Hurtt comes up with a completely different threat to reality. It’s not a bad story, even if it is a bit hard to get worked up about it because it takes place in the past and we know, plot-wise, that nothing will come of it, but it does give us a few characters who are older in the main story and shows them when they’re young, so we can see a bit of how their past shaped them. So that’s neat.

I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen Zamudio’s art before, but it’s quite good. I can see styles in her art that resemble others, such as Hurtt himself and Peter Snejbjerg, among others. She has a solid line and a good attention to detail, and she uses heavy blacks nicely to shade characters’ faces to match the dark tones of the issue. She’s a young artist (she was born in 1991), and it’s impressive how well she does action scenes, which we know are hard for artists to master. One reason I like buying a lot of different comics is because I get to discover cool new creators, and based on this issue alone, Zamudio is one to watch.

There’s nothing really great about “Valley of Death,” but there’s nothing really wrong with it, either. It’s a fun, pulpy kind of story that happens to take place in the Old West and star a bunch of Indians rather than burly white men, but that’s about it. It looks great, which goes a long way, and it’s entertaining, which is nice. That’s about it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Plunder #4 (of 4) (“Dead Man’s Float”) by Deron Bennett (letterer), Swifty Lang (writer), Skuds McKinley (artist), Jason Wordie (colorist), Chris Rosa (assistant editor), and Ian Brill (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios/Archaia.

Much like Curb Stomp last week, I feared that Plunder would simply fall into the most basic of clichés, and unfortunately, it did. It’s a bit more entertaining than Curb Stomp, but not by much and that’s only because Lang’s characters were slightly more complex than the women of Curb Stomp – they’re ethically grayer, which makes watching them fight for their lives a bit more interesting, but only by a few degrees. Land keeps it as minimalist as possible – we never get much explanation for the monster, which is fine, I guess, although it does mean that, strangely enough, too much time is spent on the characters running around with no purpose. In this issue, they have a bit more focus, but that goes by the boards pretty quickly. We get a way to kill the creatures, which is fine, but it seems like it’s more convenient than anything. In stories like this, the creatures have to be tough but not invincible, so of course they have a weakness, but it seems like the scientist lady would have mentioned it earlier. That she didn’t creates some false tension, which is a shame. This is one reason I don’t like horror – quite a bit is predicated on characters not acting like normal human beings. With this series, this has led from the characters staying on the submarine far longer than normal people would to the scientist keeping secrets to other things which I won’t get into here because it might spoil it (I imagine that’s not a big deal for most people, as you probably won’t buy this, but I like to help out where I can), and it really does hurt the tension. I know Mudassir has picked on me recently because he thinks I want characters in comics to be aware of pop culture conventions and recognize when they’re in that kind of situation, but it’s not really that – I just want characters to use their brains and force writers to come up with compelling reasons why they might be in peril rather than putting them in peril because they act like idiots. Characters still do stupid things in this issue, and it’s frustrating.

So this has just been a fairly standard horror story, which is a shame. Horror is tough to pull off, and Lang doesn’t really achieve it here. Welp.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Morning Glories #46 by Joe Eisma (artist), Paul Little (colorist), Johnny Lowe (letterer), and Nick Spencer (writer). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

After several issues of somewhat boring stuff, issue #46 of Morning Glories is a return, if not to greatness, than goodness, as Spencer focuses on Irina at two different times in her life – when she was being brought to the school, and when she is picked for a mission to kill someone. I think it’s a return to goodness because Spencer’s focus is so tight – although he’s working in two different time periods, the entire issue is about Irina and how bad-ass she is, so we don’t get the somewhat scattershot plotting of the previous several issues. This allows Spencer to give us more in-depth characterization than he has over the past issues, when it seemed plot was all that mattered. I’m a big fan of the Claremontian method of plotting, giving characters a page or two an issue to advance their subplots, but it seems that Spencer hasn’t quite mastered that yet, and as he’s gotten more into showing us what’s going on with so many characters, he’s lost what made the book great in the first place, which is the way they react to their situation and each other. Irina doesn’t interact with the rest of the students in this issue, but she does with two of the teachers, and the way she does deepens what we already know about her and makes her even more interesting, which is why this is a successful issue. Spencer certainly keep the über-plot going with the final page, which shows us yet another character who isn’t quite dead yet, so even that is intriguing. It’s issues like this that make me hope that Spencer can get the book back on track before the “second season” ends with issue #50. If he does, maybe I’ll keep buying it. We shall see!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Bunker #11 by Joshua Hale Fialkov (writer), Jason Fischer (flatter), Joe Infurnari (artist/letterer), James Lucas Jones (editor), and Robin Herrera (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

I mentioned last week that I’m probably done with Fialkov’s other comic, The Life After, because it just wasn’t working for me, although issue #10 was pretty darned good. I like The Bunker more, for a few reasons. I like the premise better – five friends get letters from their future selves about how they pretty much destroy the world and how to stop themselves from doing it – and I like Infurnari’s art more than I like Bautista’s (although, as I noted last week, Bautista is a good artist, I just don’t think his style works on The Life After). Fialkov seems to have a better handle on these characters, too – of course there’s a huge element of fantasy in this comic, but the characters seem to act more “real” than the ones in The Life After, at least to me they do. I mean, I know exactly one person who I am sure has weed on hand, so the fact that characters get stoned out of their minds in this issue (see below) is a bit far-fetched in my experience, but it’s something that is perfectly logical given what’s been going on in their lives, right? Fialkov continues to unspool the story slowly, but it’s still very compelling, and he paces it well, too, so that we get a shocking confession on the last page that ties in well with the rest of the issue but also feels like it comes when it has to. He’s managing to create a time travel story that doesn’t make my brain bleed, which is pretty neat.

Infurnari is back on art, and his breezy, brushed style is a nifty as ever. He’s very good at giving these people a beaten-up, lived-in look, which fits well with the tone Fialkov is going for (as you can tell, I always think art and story should work together, tonally, even if it’s not always obvious that they do). He’s not a flashy artist (he can be, but he’s not on this comic), but he doesn’t have to be – it’s more important that he get the rage and disappointment Natasha feels when she talks to Daniel, for instance, or the utter goofiness of the marijuana scene. Infurnari is a very good artist, and he has a difficult job to do on this comic, as it doesn’t allow him to cut loose too often, but he does it very well.

The second volume of The Bunker should be out in trade by now, so go check it out. It’s a nifty comic.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Brides of Helheim #6 (of 6) by Cullen Bunn (writer), Crank! (letterer), Nick Filardi (colorist), Joëlle Jones (artist), and Charlie Chu (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

In this issue, Rickard and Sigrid fight a magical bear. RICKARD AND SIGRID FIGHT A MAGICAL BEAR. RICKARD AND SIGRID FIGHT A MAGICAL BEAR.

Oh, and other things happen too. It’s pretty clear that Bunn wants to do a series-of-mini-series with Rickard the undead Viking, which is fine with me as long as Jones can fit it into her schedule. Bunn actually spends several pages of this issue setting up the next mini-series, so I assume he’s confident it will get done. I do have a question about the woman who put Rickard back together when she raised him from the dead. It becomes clear that all – ALL – of his equipment is working, not just his brain and heart. But why? If you’re putting together an undead warrior to fight your battles for you, why would you add a feature that does not have any impact on battle whatsoever, and if you do add it, why would you make it functional? That just seems like a lot of work for something that will never be needed. Yes, I think about these kinds of things. I’ll have to ask Bunn if I see him at a con again. Jones might be at Rose City in September, so maybe she’ll know.

Anyway, you should have stopped reading at RICKARD AND SIGRID FIGHT A MAGICAL BEAR and run out and pre-ordered the trade. I’ll forgive you.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Airboy #1 (of 4) by Greg Hinkle (artist), James Robinson (writer), Jamie S. Rich (editor), and Joel Enos (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image. Airboy created by Charles Biro, Dick Wood, and Al Camy.

Holy shit, Airboy is insane, but it’s also somewhat disturbing, which is a very good thing. I imagine that Chuck Dixon, who wrote Airboy in the 1980s for Eclipse, would probably not be the biggest fan of this comic, in which Airboy appears only on the final page and which features page after page of men being douchebags. Now, they’re very funny douchebags – or at least the situations they get into are funny, and Eric Stephenson gets in some biting lines – but they’re still douchebags. If even a smidgen of what the characters get into is true, then it’s also very tragic – not for them, they suck – but for others in their life. It’s this that makes the book compelling, because we might laugh at the antics, but we also know that it’s very possible some of this will cause collateral damage.

If you haven’t heard, the basic premise for the comic is that Eric Stephenson calls up James Robinson and asks him to reboot Airboy. Robinson hates Airboy, but he also hates working at DC, and Stephenson convinces him to give it a chance. He can’t think of anything, so he gets Greg Hinkle to come up to San Francisco to help him work out ideas. Neither of them can think of anything, so they go on a booze-and-cocaine bender (and possibly heroin) and end up tag-teaming a woman they meet in a bar. Both are married, by the way. Then Airboy shows up to scold them for their behavior. The real, actual Airboy, mind you.

There’s a perverse pleasure in watching Robinson trash himself throughout the book, as he suffers through a crisis of creativity but is very self-aware about it. He reserves some scorn for fans, but it’s mostly about his crippling lack of recent ability and his anger that everyone remembers him for things he wrote 20 years ago. It’s the stuff of great navel-gazing fiction, in other words, which might sound pejorative but I hope isn’t – navel-gazing can be a source of wonderful work, if it works. Here it does, because Robinson so savagely tears into himself that it’s easy to forgive him for bashing people who only like his work in the 1990s. In the back of the Starman Omnibus editions, Robinson does come off as someone who would experience these kinds of doubts, so it’s easy to see him being so bitter, even if it is an exaggeration (and I have no idea how much of this book is fiction – I’m trying to treat it all as fiction, even though I’ll get to the disturbing parts soon enough). Robinson is the main character of the book, and his bitterness is so toxic it’s hilarious. He’s not necessarily angry at the world, just himself, but because of his self-awareness, it becomes a far bleaker comedy than drama, which is would be if he remained unaware of his bitterness.

Hinkle is a terrific artist, and while Robinson seems to be blowing smoke up his ass about why he, Robinson, chose him to draw the book (he calls his art “fresh” and “the kind of thing Matt Wagner would have used in Grendel back in the day” and then tells Hinkle to “go with it” if that what he wants), he’s right about what he says – a “normal” artist wouldn’t have the kind of impact Hinkle has on this comic. Hinkle’s art is somewhat cartoonish, but only because he slightly exaggerates things like facial features – he loves long, pointy noses – which helps create this world that feels real, but is just “off” enough so we believe that Airboy can show up at the end. He contributes quite a bit to the humor of the issue – the sex scene is hilarious, as Hinkle gets crushed by two giant boobs, and the way Hinkle draws his own penis is very funny and a bit boastful, unless he’s just telling the truth, man! The two-page sequence of events that leads to the three-way is well done, too, as Hinkle gives it a horrible momentum, as if the two characters placed themselves on a track and are just hurtling toward disaster. Obviously, they have to take responsibility for their own actions, but Hinkle does a nice job of showing how their bad choices get worse and worse, selling the humor while keeping the dark edge. Hinkle colors the book, too, using a lot of primary colors, beginning with a sickly green base that implies how horrid Robinson’s professional life has become but utilizing gorgeous purples as the night gets darker and more disturbing. He tends to stick with one color scheme for scenes, which is deliberate as it helps contrast Airboy’s rainbow coloring on the last page. This kind of coloring when the “real” world and the fictional world clash is not unique, but Hinkle does a fantastic job with it anyway.

The disturbing part of the comic is that Robinson and Jann Jones, his wife in the comic, are now divorced, and Jones tweeted that it was a painful time in her life (although she also tweeted that she was proud of the work the creators did). Which begs the question: How much of this is real? Did Robinson and Hinkle really cheat on their wives? If they did, I can’t imagine their wives don’t know, as finding out in a comic wouldn’t be the best way to broach the subject, but if they did, they really are douchebags. Robinson doesn’t treat Jones poorly in the book directly (she only appears on two pages), but he certainly doesn’t respect her in this comic. Again, I don’t care that much – I care about the quality of the comic, not whether anything in it really happened – but the fact that these two men really do exist is what adds the disturbing aspect to it, which for me, makes it that much more compelling. I don’t know Robinson at all, and I’ve only met Hinkle once, so I have no idea what they’re really like, but the idea that this comic would destroy their lives is fascinating to me. It takes what would be a very humorous comic and injects it with a bizarre subtext, which makes it that much more interesting. You might disagree, but the fact that Robinson (and Hinkle, although not to Robinson’s degree) is such a douchebag but can’t seem to help himself makes him far less sympathetic but also weirdly fascinating. This is a man at the end of his rope, and while he holds it together for a while in this comic, he can’t keep it up, and he drags others down with him. Hinkle, meanwhile, is someone at the beginning of his career, so he shouldn’t be as jaded as Robinson, yet he becomes an acolyte of the writer, at least for one night, and it could also lead him to ruin. It’s a bleak subtext, but a powerful one, and it makes Airboy’s presence from a far less complicated world a clever way to deal with those ideas.

Airboy is a terrific and clever comic, and it takes a not-so-unique concept – a struggling writer interacting with fictional characters – and steers it to very dark waters. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Bravo for Adventure by Alex Toth (writer/artist), Bruce Canwell (associate editor), and Dean Mullaney (editor). $34.99, 99 pgs, BW, IDW/The Library of American Comics.

Yes, it’s 35 bucks, but it’s larger than your average comic, and it’s ALEX FRICKIN’ TOTH!!!! So there.

Flash Gordon: The Man From Earth by Ben Acker (writer), Luigi Anderson (colorist), Jordie Bellaire (writer/colorist), Ben Blacker (writer), Simon Bowland (letterer), Richard Case (artist), Nate Cosby (writer/editor), Joseph Cooper (artist), Stephen Downey (artist), Chris Eliopoulos (writer/artist/letterer), Lee Ferguson (artist), Faith Erin Hicks (artist), Sandy Jarrell (artist/colorist), Elliott Kalan (writer), Marissa Louise (colorist), Lara Margarida (artist), Dan McCoy (writer), Jeff Parker (writer), Omi Remalante (colorist), Craig Rousseau (artist), Evan Shaner (artist), Greg Smallwood (artist), Jeremy Treece (artist/colorist), and Stuart Wellington (writer). $29.99, 219 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment. Flash Gordon created by Alex Raymond.

This looks pretty neat, even though the various stories in the back aren’t attributed to their creators, so it’s hard to suss out who did what. Come on, Dynamite!

Green Arrow volume 3: The Trial of Oliver Queen by John Costanza (letterer), Dick Giordano (artist), Mike Grell (writer), Ed Hannigan (artist), Dan Jurgens (artist), Frank McLaughlin (artist), Julia Lacquement (colorist), and Scott Nybakken (editor). $16.99, 198 pgs, FC, DC. Green Arrow created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp.

The table of contents of this book lists page numbers where the various chapters can be found … yet there are no page numbers on the individual pages. Are you trying to drive me insane, DC?!?!?!? There – I am insane now.

Sundowners volume 1 by Crank! (letterer), Sean Dove (colorist), Tim Seeley (writer), Jim Terry (artist), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $19.99, 138 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I think Travis Pelkie told me this was pretty good. If it isn’t, I’ll blame him. I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE, PELKIE!!!!!*

* Actually, I don’t know where he lives. I mean, he could live in Brisbane or Banff or Bismarck for all I know. His name might not even be Travis Pelkie! I know, the Internet totally sucks. How do you know which house to egg?

The Usagi Yojimbo Saga Book 3 by Tom Luth (colorist, “Tshuru”), Stan Sakai (writer/artist), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Brendan Wright (collection editor). $24.99, 581 pgs, (mostly) BW, Dark Horse.

I ought to read these. I’ll get around to it eventually.

Money spent this week: $157.62. YTD: $2689.96.

**********

There’s not much going on this week, but I did come across some interesting links. The first one lets us know that someone found Tom Hardy’s Myspace page and it’s pretty hilarious. I never had a Myspace page, but I know posting selfies was a pretty big thing, so the fact that Tom Hardy did it isn’t surprising. I’m more surprised that he’s wearing such droopy underwear. Come on, Tom Hardy!

Meanwhile, I found this essay about how Val Kilmer was right in Top Gun and how your perceptions shift over the years. It’s not too surprising – I find myself sympathizing with Principal Vernon more than I used to when I happen to catch The Breakfast Club, even if he remains a dick. The writer makes some good points (I mean, I know that Ferris Bueller’s mother was supposed to be kind of clueless, but holy shit she’s an idiot), but he stretches a bit – I mean, Ronny Cox might start off being a tool in Beverly Hills Cop, but he certainly doesn’t stay that way. It’s still a nifty essay.

(Speaking of which, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off occurred thirty years ago, because the Internet is awesome.)

No Top Ten list this week, because those take a really long time to put together, and I don’t feel like it. Usually I try to do them before comics even come out on Wednesday, but this past Tuesday I was busy, so I couldn’t. Plus, as Travis noted, I didn’t check out Previews last weekend and I’d really like to get that done. Another problem I mentioned recently but is still bugging us is our Internet, which we’re hoping to get upgraded this week. Our ISP is EarthLink (yes, mock away), and our bandwidth is tiny, which makes it actually difficult for more than one person to be on the Internet at once. This has never been a problem, but recently my wife has been working from home on Wednesdays and Fridays, and as she mirroring the system her work uses, it’s like everyone at her work is on our system, and that slows everything down. I can use the computer, but when I’m on the Internet, her computer freezes up. As that’s slightly more important than my blogging, I’m off-line for most of Wednesday and Friday. On Monday we’re getting a new ISP and much more bandwidth, so I suspect we’ll both be able to be on-line at the same time. That should make my reviews show up a bit earlier. We shall see.

But for now, let’s skip right to the Totally Random Lyrics!

“Along the way, the old men call me by mother’s name
She looked just the same, they say
The children wave or hide behind their mother’s skirts afraid
Strangers here still seem strange
They hear the accent, know I’m from nowhere near
But I speak the language and I know the customs here
I come from over the horizon, pass through every dozen years”

This is one of my favorite songs from the past few years, so there you have it!

I hope everyone has a nice day. As it’s D-Day, I thought I’d share this with you – a Facebook friend posted something about D-Day and what a leader Eisenhower was and he wondered what would happen today if he was in charge. I’m not sure if he meant of the Army or the country, but I found it interesting because the guy is a pretty staunch Republican and doesn’t like Obama, but we know what would happen is Eisenhower was in charge today, because he was in charge of the country, and we had a really high tax rate and he railed against the alliance of business, politics, and the military. Plus, he hated states’ rights. If Ike were in charge today, this guy would loathe him.

Be excellent to each other!

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