What I bought – 9 February 2011

by  in Comic News Comment
What I bought – 9 February 2011

There was no hope for an empire that lost the will to prosecute the grand and awful business of adventure. (Michael Chabon, from Gentlemen of the Road)

Yes, I really did buy 22 single issues this week (one I received in the mail). It’s an odd combination of either very late books showing up or perhaps a not-so-late book getting here a week or two after it was supposed to be out. Consider the last time we saw these comics, all of which I bought this week: Wasteland – 8 July; Frenemy of the State – 13 October; Hotwire – 27 October; Atomic Robo – 15 December; Magus – 15 December; Incognito – 22 December; Warlord of Mars – 22 December; Secret Warriors – 29 December. So even though I wouldn’t count anything that came out in December “late,” especially as I’m fairly sure that Incognito, at least, is bi-monthly, it’s still odd that all these books came out in one day, and I got them all! Plus, two of the DC books that I got in January that I actually liked also came out, so that added to my total. Hence the extreme lateness of this post. Sorry!

In other news, after speaking to someone who is far smarter than I am (namely, my lovely wife), I’ve decided to tweak my ratings system a bit. Bill Reed pointed out that because of my teaching background, I was probably skewing things toward a grading scale a bit, and I definitely was. On their recently returned weekly podcast, Chad Nevett and Tim Callahan thought I was too generous with my ratings when I reviewed all the January DC books, but that’s because I was coming at it from the idea that 7/10 stars is average. My wife pointed out that for most of the normal population, 5/10 stars is “average,” because it’s halfway between 0 and 10. That makes perfect sense except to an ex-teacher like me, where 5/10 is, well, terrible. I hadn’t considered it, but that’s because I’m a bit dim. Chad, for instance, gave Iron Man #500.1 2½ stars, which to me means it totally stinks but from his review and his discussion of it with Tim, it’s obvious that he thought it was pretty average, and not terrible. So there. I still like ten stars because I’m evil, but from now on, 5/10 is average. All good? Good! Let’s get to some comics!

Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #3 (of 5) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

It’s fascinating to recall certain plot points from earlier mini-series and wonder how far in advance Clevinger has plotted out Atomic Robo stories or if he’s just throwing things out there in the hopes that later he’ll have a chance to revisit them. This mini-series has taken a serious turn on the last page, and it’s mostly because we know what happens to the person featured on that last page, and it’s not pretty. But that’s what makes good fiction so good – that ability to stop on a dime and suddenly shift moods, so that the reader is caught off guard and sees a facet that they may have missed or weren’t expecting. There are some comics in this post that do that sort of thing very well (Casanova comes to mind) and some that, while not bad, don’t quite achieve that feeling (Secret Warriors is one such). Clevinger has been having fun with Robo learning from Jack Tarot, getting closer to Tarot’s daughter Helen (which has been obvious from the beginning, but still handled well), and arguing with Tesla because he feels like his creator treats him like a child. It’s a well done if somewhat predictable teenaged rebellion (with, you know, a robot), and Clevinger’s script is as sharp as ever, which makes the predictability of it less obvious. But then, the last page shows up, and you guessed it – shit gets real. Okay, it’s not quite so dramatic as that, but it adds a new layer to the cracking good story we’ve been reading so far, and ties the overall series together a bit better. Good, good stuff, as usual.

I always praise Wegener’s art, but have you noticed how good a job he does with Robo’s eyes? I mean, they’re basically big blue circles, but Wegener does a wonderful job with the “eyelids,” using them to express Robo’s emotions very well. It’s one of those things you always notice when you’re reading an issue, but it doesn’t really dawn on you that it’s basically where Wegener draws a line across a circle that’s producing the effect. Dang, that’s cool.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Batgirl #18 (“Chalk (heart) Outline”) by Bryan Q. Miller (writer), Dustin Nguyen (penciller/painter), Derek Fridolfs (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and John J. Hill (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

I decided to get this series after issue #17 was so darned good, and what do you know? issue #18 is also pretty darned good. Nguyen is back on art, and while Perez did a good job last issue, Nguyen has such a cool style, plus he really has fun changing his style to suit different moods and places in his comics that it’s nice to see. Here he and Miller tell a relatively simple story – Klarion, wandering around Gotham for some reason on Valentine’s Day, is looking for his cat/familiar Teekl, who’s in heat. Klarion didn’t allow him to get it on with a chick, so Teekl grew to man-size and started killing innocent people (well, one). Klarion and Batgirl team up to find another familiar with whom Teekl can mate, which means a trip to Limbo Town, Klarion’s home. Of course, it all gets resolved in the end, and Teekl gets his freak on. Yay!

Miller once again does a fine job of writing the dialogue between Stephanie and a young man – last month it was Damian – and what’s neat is that Damian and Klarion, though similar in their attitudes, have completely different “voices,” both of which Miller does well with. I was a bit vexed that the poor murder victim is forgotten almost immediately – Stephanie makes a joke about Klarion holding the victim’s heart, for crying out loud – but I suppose that the guy was a pimp, so fuck him, right? It’s a well written issue, with nice back-and-forth between the two leads, Stephanie’s humorous internal narrative (Klarion shrinks her and she starts thinking about teaming up with the Atom), and a nice denouement.

Still, it’s Nguyen’s beautiful art that pushes the book even higher in my estimation. Nguyen has been doing strange things with his style for years (since, as far as I can recall, the ill-fated Manifest Eternity), and it’s neat that he can do a nice blend of straight pencilled art and painted stuff, which he uses when Klarion takes Batgirl to Limbo Town, adding to the dream-like feel of Klarion’s village. Most artists would leave that kind of change to the colorist, but Nguyen does it himself, and it makes the art look more organic. He also nails the facial expressions of Stephanie and Klarion after they kiss (not romantically, which is why their faces don’t look happy). As fun as the script is, it’s somewhat slight, so Nguyen helps make this an even better comic.

I’m still going to buy this, but I wonder if Miller is going to write an issue without Stephanie teaming up with a boy. I’m sure he has already, but so far, I’m 2-for-2!

(Of course, there’s the Latin. Klarion says “Reperio meus cattus,” which is supposed to mean “I find my cat.” Except “reperio” should probably be in the imperative so it ought to be “reperi,” but that’s okay. The “meus cattus” is more problematic. “Cattus” is a fairly standard way to say “cat,” although in classical Latin, it doesn’t exist – “feles” or “felis” is the Latin word for “cat” (hence “feline”). But if these people can use it, what the hell. “Meus cattus” is correct if “my cat” is the nominative, but it’s clear that Klarion wants to find his cat, making it the object of the verb, hence the accusative, hence “meum cattum.” I’m not even sure “meum cattum” is correct – in Latin, saying “My name is …” is really in the dative, “The name to me is …” so it might be here, but my grammar is a bit rusty. Either way, it’s not the nominative. I understand that Latin is not Miller’s first language, but what I never understand when writers use a different language is that they don’t make sure it’s correct. Mike Carey uses Arabic in The Unwritten this week, and while I have no idea if it’s right or not, I hope he consulted someone who, you know, knew Arabic. Three words in Latin is phenomenally easy to figure out, and there are plenty of people to ask and even plenty of places on-line to find this out. Yes, it bugs me. Yes, you have to suffer through a grammar lesson as a result. Sorry.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Batman and Robin #20 (“Dark Knight vs. White Knight Part 1 of 3: Tree of Blood”) by Peter J. Tomasi (writer), Patrick Gleason (penciller), Mick Gray (inker), Alex Sinclair (colorist), and Patrick Brosseau (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

I was on the fence about getting this, because while Tomasi has written one great story (The Light Brigade), he’s also written some terrible ones, so I wasn’t sure what we’d be getting. I’m still not sure, but when I flipped through this at the shoppe, Gleason’s art really sold me, so I bought it. I’ve been a fan of Gleason for a decade, but he always seems to be working on comics that I have absolutely no interest in, including the Green Lantern stuff he’s been doing with Tomasi. So it’s not that he suddenly got with a writer I really like, because he’s been working with that writer for a while. It’s a simple statement: Gleason + Batman + Tomasi > Gleason + Green Lantern + Tomasi, with Gleason and Tomasi pretty much being equal on both sides of the equation. You can prove everything with MATH!!!!!

And boy howdy, is this a cool-looking book. Gleason is magnificent, with wonderful details, crisp lines, a sense of grandeur, and some gorgeous designs and layouts. Kirk Langstrom’s attack on Dick and Damian is almost in 3-D, and the weird thing that happens at the end of the book is absolutely stunning. I can’t imagine Gleason can draw too many of these suckers in a row, but I’ll take what I can get!

Tomasi’s story is pretty intriguing, too. I don’t love Man-Bat (mostly because I’m rather tired of every old Batman villain), but Tomasi does a nice job introducing him, as he leaves his appearance mysterious and related to another case, apparently. The first case is neat, because it’s rather odd, and in Gotham, odd is good (for the readers, at least). Tomasi does a nice job with the opening scene, in which Bruce gets everyone together to watch a movie (I find it interesting that this comic, which is technically three months late or so – Cornell’s story was a fill-in – references events in another comic that hasn’t come out yet – the third issue of Batman, Inc.), as well as Gordon’s brief scene, where he lays down the law to snot-nosed punk Damian. Damian is fairly awesome, too – I know that some people don’t like his schtick, but I dig it, because he’s such a jerk that you can’t help but love him. What’s cool about Damian is that he only respects Bruce, so the fact that he’s a tool in every other situation doesn’t mean he’s a total loss – he just doesn’t respect anyone else. It’s an interesting distinction that I’m glad other writers have picked up on (perhaps they received a harrowing midnight visit from the God of All Comics about it, but whatever the reason, I’m glad).

So it’s a good start to the next arc. I’m still not entirely sure why we need this title, as Dick is Batman in, what, two other titles? And Damian does show up in those, so it’s not like this is the only comic with him and Dick working together. But I guess when it’s the GoAC’s baby, it stays. Whatever. I just hope Gleason can do 9-10 issues a year. I’ll be pleased with that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #4 (“The Bride and the Bold”) by Sholly Fisch (writer), Rick Burchett (penciller), Dan Davis (inker), Gabe Eltaeb (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

I haven’t been buying the “new” Batman: The Brave and the Bold, not because I have anything against it, but because I haven’t really been that keen on the first few issues from what I saw of them. But I loved this cover and I couldn’t resist the Batman-Wonder Woman wedding we’ve all been waiting for (haven’t we?), so I figured I’d drop some coin on this.

It wasn’t as great as the best of the earlier series, but it’s not bad either. Like most of these issues, Fisch does a nice job telling a straightforward superhero story, as Eros, peeved that Wonder Woman is beating up bad guys instead of “spreading love” (is she supposed to hold giant orgies every weekend?), fires his arrows at her and Batman, making them fall in love with each other. When Talia finds out, she’s driven crazy with jealousy and she calls up every single Bat- and Wonder-villain to attack the wedding. I have no idea who most of the Wonder-villains are (heck, they could even be obscure Bat-villains), but they’re pretty awesome: some dude who looks like a pencil, with an eraser for a head (which reminds me of the old Daffy Duck cartoon, where that eraser dude was going to rub him out); Kite-Man; Paper Man (to quote Plastic Man, “really?”); Fireworks Man; Amoeba Man; the Crimson Centipede; and a mobster gorilla, complete with tommy gun. I’m a bit confused why Fisch turns Killer Moth into “Firefly,” because Killer Moth’s costume is so freakin’ awesome I actually bought his action figure, but I guess I’ll have to let it go. The ending is cute although a bit far-fetched, but at least Fisch doesn’t leave us believing that Batman’s only love is the love of justice. Yeah, right, Bats. Burchett is solid – is he ever anything else? – and has fun drawing the battle royale at the wedding. Plus, there’s a Sugar and Spike cameo. Yes, there really is.

As always with the Johnny DC stuff, this is a solid superhero tale that entertains and amuses. They’re never anything less than that and often more, although this doesn’t quite achieve greatness. Still, you could do a lot worse than check this out!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Casanova: Gula #2 (of 4) (“Seventeen”/”Naomi, I Moan”) by Matt Fraction (writer), Fábio Moon (artist), Cris Peter (colorist), and Dustin K. Harbin (letterer). $3.99, 38 pgs, FC, Marvel/Icon.

Back when I first read this, I was amazed by how well Fraction could make Suki Boutique a wonderfully sympathetic character in a few pages and then kill her off. I’m still amazed, as the second half of this issue is that reprint (issue #12 of the original series?), and it still retains its power. I was less impressed with the first half, but looking at it as a part of a whole (and knowing where the story is going), it fits better. Still, the highlight of this issue is Zephyr’s seduction and assassination of Suki, because it’s just so perfectly written and drawn.

Messrs. Nevett and Callahan discussed Fraction a bit on their podcast, and I wonder whether they’re right or not. They seemed to think that when Fraction was less sure about his future in the business, he was a bit more willing to go balls-out, because he was never sure if the next issue would be his last. Now that he’s ensconced at Marvel and he knows he’s going to have work, he’s taking his time more to unspool his ideas because he knows that he’s probably going to have 20 issues to get to everything. That would be somewhat depressing – I get that you can have the feeling that you can tell a long-form story and that allows you to focus more on the characterization, maybe, but apparently Fraction has seven arcs of Casanova planned out, only two of which have appeared. So he has a lot of these stories to tell, but he still manages to pack each issue with a lot of stuff, and there’s no reason why he can’t do that with his Marvel work. Tim said something about his X-Men work being derailed by crossovers, and that’s an unfortunate fact in writing for one of the Big Two, but I’ll tell you – one of the reasons I dropped Uncanny X-Men is because after 13 issues (one co-writing it with Brubaker), he hadn’t really done much, and there were no crossovers getting in his way. It was a full year of setting things up, and the payoffs to his arcs were kind of weak. So I don’t really buy that the neverending intercession of the greater Marvel Universe is killing his stories. According to Tim, his run on Iron Man has been 30 issues of slow build with very little payoff. His first arc (the only one I read) had plenty of potential but sputtered out very quickly.

Does this mean that Fraction had only a few good ideas and now he’s out? I hope not – new material of Casanova is coming this year, apparently, and I’m really looking forward to it. And I am probably actually going to buy Fear Itself because I’m curious to read a Marvel event not written by Bendis. I just think that my theory holds – for whatever reason, writers who make a name for themselves in independent comics and then move to the Big Two become cautious, for whatever reason. Whatever their strengths are, they seem to rein them in to write simple superhero stories, and while “simple superhero stories” are both the Big Two’s bread-and-butter and harder to pull of than they look, it’s true that we’ve seen them done a lot, and the reason these writers get hired is presumably because they have a different voice. I’m going to start buying Uncanny X-Men again when Gillen starts writing it (despite the continuing presence of Greg Land) because I have hope that he will be able to bring his voice to the title, which I think would be incredible (despite the continuing presence of Greg Land). But I fear it won’t be. I want to like Fraction’s current Marvel output, but whenever I read a four-year-old issue of Casanova, I wonder what happened to that dude. I hope he comes back when new issues of this comic start coming out!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Frenemy of the State #4 (of 5) (“Operation Noob Part Four”) by Rashida Jones (writer), Christina Weir (writer), Nunzio DeFilippis (writer), Jeff Wamester (artist), Rob Ruffalo (colorist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

It’s too bad that this book is so tardy in coming out, because it’s a fun action/adventure/spy thing that is probably lost by now in the haze of all the other books. It’s not going to change the world or anything, but the writers are still keeping it clever, as Ariana infiltrates a posh party to find a stolen nuke that is going to be used for something different than we thought. There’s also some ground-laying for future issues, as at the end of last issue Ariana was confronted by an intervention, which she ditches at the beginning of this issue but not before her mother brings up some bad things in her past that she doesn’t want to talk about. I know this was supposed to be an ongoing but I think now next issue is the last one, which is a shame, because Weir, DeFilippis, and Jones obviously have some ideas about what kind of life Ariana leads and the toll it takes on her, and I doubt if we’ll ever see it play out. Sure, we’ll get a nifty resolution to the plot, but that’s just a plot, innit? The rivalry between Ariana and Haven and what fuels that is more interesting, but it’s something that needs to play out over time, and I wonder if we’re going to ever get more issues and more time. I doubt it. Too bad.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Heroes for Hire #3 (“Trace Elements”) by Dan Abnett (writer), Andy Lanning (writer), Brad Walker (penciler), Andrew Hennessy (inker), Jay David Ramos (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I’m not sure how Heroes for Hire will play out after this initial story arc, where the most interesting part is Paladin’s search for answers about what’s going on with Misty Knight, because the actual missions, while decent enough, aren’t all that compelling. In this instance, Moon Knight busts a smuggling operation – some evil dude is trafficking in girls for his “caveman”-themed strip club, and Moonie discovers that he’s actually bringing in women from the Savage Land … along with exotic animals (read: dinosaurs). Abnett and Lanning decide to go with the Jurassic Park model of velociraptor (as in, the incorrect version), because Moon Knight fighting a dinosaur the size of a turkey isn’t all that impressive, but it’s a well done fight, at least.

But again, it’s Paladin’s mission that is most interesting. People are throwing around the spoiler to the first issue cavalierly, but I am not those people, so I won’t, but Paladin knows something is very strange about Misty and he’s trying to find out what. The one sour note his quest hits is when he meets up with Danny Rand, who acts like a total douchebag when Paladin tries to enlist him to help. Paladin finally has to hire him because Danny is being such a petulant dick. That seemed really off, as Danny is supposed to be one of the good guys.

But it’s still a pretty good issue, with Walker’s art looking really nice (Paladin’s fight with Danny is laid out very well) and the main story remaining keen. I just don’t know where the book could go after it gets resolved. But I suppose I’ll find that out later, won’t I?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hotwire: Deep Cut #3 (of 3) (“Everyone Gets a Medal”) by Steve Pugh (writer/artist/letterer). $3.50, 27 pgs, FC, Radical Comics.

I hope Pugh has more Alice Hotwire stories planned, because they’re just so much fun to read, this final issue being yet another example of that. Alice is trying to stop the “ghosts” from coming into the city, but she also has to do it before the private security detail unleashes a weapon of mass destruction on the same ghosts, causing much more damage. So it’s a race and a fight and Pugh gets to draw lots of crazy blue-lights and big-ass explosions, and Alice goes in with no safety net, as usual. The solution is fairly standard in this kind of scenario – someone has to step up and be a hero, and someone we expect to step up does – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, mainly because Pugh makes it look so good and Alice’s ongoing narrative of her police report is wryly humorous, showing how she twisted events on the ground to make everyone involved look good, which gives her leverage over the private security detail (with whom she was at odds the whole story). Alice is a very good character, and Pugh does a nice job putting her into situations where she can shine. He also ends the book on a slightly poignant note, and dropping those little character bits in is very effective and is why I hope the series continues down the line, because Pugh is doing a good job building the character. We shall see, shan’t we?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Incognito: Bad Influences #3 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist/letterer), and Val Staples (colorist). $3.50, 25 pgs, FC, Marvel/Icon.

This is a very “middle-of-the-arc” kind of issue, which doesn’t make it bad (the creators are too good for that) but does mean that everybody gets moved around and set up for the climax, so although there’s some action, the plot really doesn’t move forward all that much. We get some information about the vigilante hunting down the bad guys, Zack continues on his mission, and everything is pointing to a big finale, but Brubaker pulls back just a bit to allow Zoe and Zack to talk about why Zack might not be a villain anymore and to reveal a bit about why Zoe feels the way she does. Even without moving the plot forward too much, it’s an issue that shows how much Brubaker has thought about this world and the people who inhabit it, as the gathering-place of the villains is an interesting touch. Whenever I write about Phillips, I don’t mention the small details of Zack’s world that I assume he came up with – the sci-fi weapons that are so comic-booky but are also deadly; the way the women in the underground are trying desperately and usually failing to look sexy; the way Zoe’s face changes from when she’s a teenager to when she’s an adult. Most artists wouldn’t pay that much attention to, say, the way someone’s face becomes leaner as they lose baby fat, but Phillips does, and it’s nice to see.

Incognito remains a fascinating read not necessarily because of what’s happening, but because of how the creators are presenting it. In a superhero world where so much is lacking, it’s interesting to read a comic where the three artists are in sync and really giving us an unusual place that is very different from where we live. In a quieter issue like this one, that comes out a bit more.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Li’l Depressed Boy #1 (“(She’s Got a) Brain Scrambling Device”) by S. Steven Struble (writer/colorist/letterer) and Sina Grace (artist). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

Some time ago, Steven Struble, who helps color Chew, contacted me and pointed out his webcomic, The Li’l Depressed Boy. I read a bit of it, but as you all well know, I am old and infirm and hate reading comics on what you punks call the “computer” and what I call the “Babbage Add-O-Matic.” Thus I was happy when Image decided to print an issue of The Li’l Depressed Boy and offer it for sale in the so-called “real” “world,” as I could then use cash money to purchase said periodical and read it while sitting on my comfy leather chair instead of while sitting in front of a computer screen. It’s a win-win!

This is a charming first issue, although I’m not too sure that Li’l Depressed Boy is all that depressed. He’s certainly down in the dumps a bit, but some video games and a groovy girl seem to cure him of that right quick. The story is basically how he meets a girl, who then asks him out on a date, on which they have a good time. You might think this sounds boring, but it’s not – Struble really nails what an almost perfect date feels like, and if you’ve ever been on one, you’ll probably enjoy seeing how LDB (that’s actually what people call him) slowly comes out of his shell as the unnamed girl draws him out. It’s a lovely little comic, with solid art by Grace – as LDB is a rag doll (really!), it might be difficult to make him relatable, but Grace manages to turn his simple mouth and eyes into a very expressive face. He doesn’t do too many interesting things with layouts, but one page, where LDB thinks that the girl is going to stand him up, is nicely done, as the panels radiate outward from LDB’s face in the bottom left of the page, showing the progression of time until the girl shows up. While I’m far too old to appreciate the fact that they go to a Kepi Ghoulie show (Kepi Ghoulie is actually not bad, come to think of it), the actual details of the date don’t matter – Struble and Grace do a very good job showing a nice night in the life of our little depressed boy. Whether that nice feeling will last or not … we shall see!

If you’re not into webcomics, I would give the print version of this story a look (plus, it’s colored, which makes Grace’s art a bit more substantial). Don’t we all need some romance in our lives?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Love and Capes: Ever After #1 by Thomas F. Zahler (writer/artist). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, IDW.

Speaking of romance, Love and Capes is back! Huzzah!

I wasn’t planning on buying this, mainly because I have the first two trades and the book reads so well like that that I was just planning on waiting. Somehow, in a haze of mescaline I presume, I pre-ordered this, so it arrived this past week and I, being a good customer, bought it. It’s not like I wasn’t going to read it eventually, after all.

Love and Capes is a sweet superhero love story, as Mark Spencer (also known as the Crusader) falls in love with Abby, who owns a bookstore, and they eventually get married. This is the first story after their marriage, and Zahler shows that he’s not slowing down – his wit is as keen as ever. The format of the issue remains the same – usually eight panels per page, with each block of four ending with a joke (this was also a webcomic, so Zahler had a good format that he stuck with) – but Zahler also tells longer stories that extend over several pages. This entire issue, in fact, introduces a general theme – Abby’s rent is going up, she and Mark need a place to live, she finds out the landlord is trying to sell her entire building, so they buy it to keep her store where it is and so they’ll be able to move into the top apartment. Of course, there are plenty of other subplots – Darkblade and Amazonia, two hero friends of Mark’s (and obvious analogues to certain DC heroes), are now dating, so Mark is giving advice to Paul (Darkblade) while Abby finds herself giving advice to Amazonia, with whom she has a little rivalry (Amazonia used to date Mark). As usual, there’s a lot of funny jokes and clever dialogue. I’m glad to see that Zahler is continuing the story – too many fictional romances end with the wedding, but real life doesn’t, so it will be interesting to see how Mark and Abby adjust to married life. So far, so good!

I should also point out that Abby’s bookstore sells our Dread Lord and Master’s book about comic book urban legends. Not only that, it’s in a featured position right behind the register! Who knew Cronin had that kind of pull!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Magus #2 (“From the Ashes Part Two”) by Jon Price (writer), Rebekah Isaacs (artist), Charlie Kirchoff (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, 12-Gauge Comics.

Price gives us a bit more backstory about magic and its place in the world and why the fact that it’s coming back isn’t really a good thing. Plus, he reveals that Lena, the girl from issue #1, isn’t really the cause of all the magic coming back, which we had already guessed, so it’s not that big a moment. Otherwise, this a fairly strong second issue – we’ve learned a bit more, there’s a new problem in the White House, and there’s a new player on the stage who rescues everyone at the end. There are Guardians in this world, apparently, who watch over magic, and there are Inquisitors, who do nasty things to people using magic. It’s not the most original division of forces in the world, but Price keeps everything zipping along, includes a fun dream sequence that once again hints at who the real source of magic is (but doesn’t completely confirm it), and he gets us where we need to go. Story-wise, the book might not be the most amazing piece of work, but it’s a good action/adventure tale with a decent hook, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Isaacs, of course, brings it up a notch. She really complements Price’s script well, taking a clever story and making it a bit more epic, as her work on the “history” of magic is glorious and terrible (in different spots) and the confrontation at the end is nicely contrasted with the dream sequence, which show the same situation with very different outcomes. Isaacs draws very “realistic” people, too – Danae, for instance, is an attractive but not an unbelievably gorgeous and stacked woman; she looks like someone you’d see in a normal situation. Isaacs plays close attention to how people dress and how clothes move on a person, too, which a lot of superhero artists don’t do because everyone is wearing spandex. It’s nice to see it here, as it creates the illusion that the characters are actually moving instead of posing. Price’s plot-driven comic is both elevated and made a bit more humanistic by Isaacs’ art, and it’s a good combination for Magus.

I don’t know if this is a five-issue mini-series or if it’s an ongoing (only issue #5 has been solicited yet), but it’s a solid beginning. It wouldn’t kill you to support smaller comics like this, you know!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Next Men #3 by John Byrne (writer/artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Shawn Lee (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

Byrne’s creator-owned stuff is so hard to read issue-by-issue, as it’s so clear he’s going for a really long build-up and he takes his sweet old time about it. He does punctuate each issue with some good action and usually ends on a cliffhanger of some sorts, but once he’s into the story – and it’s taken him all of three issues here to get into it – you usually just have to stick it out or give up. He’s certainly capable of writing very good single issues, but with Next Men, he has a long story to tell, and he’s going to tell it, damn it! So we get Nathan in the concentration camp, Tony getting all uppity on the plantation, which means it’s time for a whipping, and Jasmine get nasty with Edward de Vere. It’s all very mysterious and unexplained, but you know what? it’s fun to read, mainly because I’ve read long-form stuff by Byrne before and enjoyed it, so I’m sure he has a great deal of this plotted out and has for years. I’m not sure that you’ll want to pick up a random issue of Next Men, but as long as you understand what you’re in for, it’s a fun ride.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Northlanders #37 (“The Siege of Paris Part 1 of 3”) by Brian Wood (writer), Simon Gane (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

In the back of this issue, where the letters page will be, Mark Doyle, the editor, writes “Who knew Vikings went to Paris?” Well, Mr. Doyle, I did. So, I’d wager, do far more people than will ever read this comic book. That’s not to denigrate the marvelous comic that Northlanders is, it’s just to point out that history is awesome. Just because you’re an ignorant Yankee, don’t lump the rest of us in there!

The siege of Paris is a fairly important event in the history of Europe, as it led, somewhat directly, to the deposition of the Carolingian emperor, Charles the Fat, and the dissolution of the empire of Charlemagne (which was a mere shadow of its former greatness, true, but was still symbolically important). With a power vacuum in western Europe, Odo became king of France, beginning a line that lasted (with one important interruption) until 1848. The Vikings disrupted quite a bit as they rampaged around Europe, and this invasion was just part of that pattern. Wood, as is usual with this series, concentrates on the common soldiers more than the great politics of the conflict, but that doesn’t mean he ignores it completely – the monk who helps Mads and his mercenary force, Abbo, actually existed (and wrote about the wars, as Wood quotes him), and when he refuses to help Mads kill the bishop, Joscelin, he’s doing so because Joscelin survived until the spring of 886. Wood does a nice job showing the psychological damage a siege can take even on the besiegers, and it’s a solid start to the arc. Paris really did occupy only the Ile-de-la Cité at that time, as we see on the magnificent double-page spread by Gane, but Wood takes Abbo’s estimation that the Vikings had 700 ships and 40,000 men at face value, when medieval chroniclers were known aggrandizers – a more reliable estimate is less than 300 ships and between 5000 and 8000 men. Still, much more than Paris had defenders.

I don’t really have much more to write about this – Wood gives us a Viking mercenary group that will obviously do a lot of killing and, from the sound of the solicitation for issue #39, not take kindly to the fact that the siege ends with a negotiation and not a bloodbath. But it’s an interesting issue, and Gane’s art is nice and rough, making the horrible conditions of a largely rural area in the ninth century all the more real. A word balloon on page 18 seems to be misplaced and the book seems to end abruptly (a consequence of DC shaving two pages from it?), but of course it’s a good comic. It’s freakin’ Northlanders, for crying out loud!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Red Robin #20 (“The Rabbit Hole Interlude: On the Shoulders of Titans”) by Fabian Nicieza (writer), Marcus To (penciller), Ray McCarthy (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Red Robin is the second comic I got during my month of buying every DC book that I thought was good enough to give a second chance, so here it is! This isn’t quite as good as Batgirl, but it’s still a very solid superhero book. Whether that’s enough for me to keep buying it … well, I’ll have to think about it.

After last issue’s journey through the Ünternet, Tim comes up against Catman, who was hired to regain control of it. Here’s what I don’t quite get – Catman seems to be working for Calculator, but early on, Tim seems to think he’s working for Viktor Mikalek, the bad guy from the previous issue. By the end of the book, it’s pretty obvious it’s Calculator, but there’s some confusion at the beginning. Or am I just dense?

Anyway, Tim discovers that Calculator has built a bunch of robot doubles of himself (because, you know, COMICS!!!!), and he needs help tracking down the “server nest” that activated them. So he calls in the Teen Titans, and everyone’s off to Istanbul! Things go badly, and … it’s to be continued! In the next issue of Teen Titans! It’s a old-school crossover!

I don’t really have a problem with that – I was kind of on the fence about buying Teen Titans this month anyway, and this gives me an excuse to do so. While this issue is a lot of cleaning up from last issue and setting up the next chapter, Nicieza does a nice job with Tim’s interaction with the various heroes – he calls Batgirl for help (she’s too busy), and we get a nice brief exchange between them, and his reunion with the Titans is done well. Tim slides easily into the leadership role, and Nicieza doesn’t automatically make Cassie jealous even though it’s clear some Titans prefer him (the icky boys, because Cassie can’t be a leader on account of her boobs and uterus, presumably). I don’t know if this will be present in the next issue of Teen Titans, but it humanizes the characters nicely. And, of course, Nicieza does a great job with Damian – it seems like writers enjoy him because he can be a jerk but he’s not a villain, so he doesn’t take everything so seriously.

I’m a bit puzzled by Tim’s “detective” work when Catman is holding the cell phone. Tim doesn’t think it’s Blake’s cell because it’s pink. Now, that’s not a bad assumption, but I kind of wish it had been his cell and he just likes pink. My precocious child told me the other day that a boy had some pink on his backpack (I didn’t see said backpack, so I don’t know what the pink part was or the extent of it). She giggled and said that he shouldn’t like pink because he’s not a girl. I asked her if she liked blue, and she said yes, so I wondered why a boy couldn’t like pink. I don’t even mind pink – not in the extreme amount that a lot of girls like it, but it’s not bad – so it would have been funny if Blake had actually used his cell phone and it was pink, damn it! Yes, it would have made no sense within the context of the story, but when you’re countering stereotypes, making sense should take a back seat! I just wish Tim had figured out it wasn’t Blake’s phone for a different reason. But then I’m weird that way.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Secret Warriors #24 (“Wheels Within Wheels Part One”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), David Marquez (artist), Alessandro Vitti (artist), Imaginary Friends Studio (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Hickman does something that doesn’t always work and doesn’t really in this issue, either – introduces a whole host of characters in one shot even though we fear something bad will happen to them. I mean, what’s the point, really? One of the reasons why Secret Warriors has been working so well recently is because he took so long to introduce the characters, and so when horrible things happened to them, we actually cared a bit and were a bit surprised. We’ve seen a few of these characters before, but Hickman lets us know early on that things won’t end well, so why bother taking the time to give them any character traits whatsoever? It’s just a bit disappointing, especially because Hickman had been doing a good job so far. Oh well. The only good things about the issue are the fact that the characters are pretty interesting, and Marquez does a nice job with the art. Other than that … c’est la vie.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Sherlock Holmes: Year One #1 (“The Butlers Did It”) by Scott Beatty (writer), Daniel Indro (artist), Tony Aviña (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

I’m a bit of a sucker for Sherlock Holmes, not to the point where I’m a crazed Sherlockian, scouring the texts for minutiae, but to the point where I totally dig my annotated Holmes library and love reading comics about him. The latest one is an enjoyable little yarn, as Beatty takes a different tack than the one taken by Leah Moore and John Reppion in the last Dynamite Holmes series – he tells a done-in-one story in this first issue, and I wonder if that’s the plan for the entire series. Of course, Moore and Reppion were telling a story of Holmes when he was a full-fledged detective, while Beatty is taking us back to when Holmes had no reputation – in this story, he’s still a student. The time seems a bit wonky – Watson appears much older than Holmes, but according to my impeccable sources, he was only two years Holmes’ elder. The story takes place after 1880, so Watson is probably not quite 30 years old yet but he seems older than that and Holmes seems younger than 27 or 28, which he would be. Yes, I looked it up. Yes, I’m a nerd. You’re reading a comic book blog, I might point out.

Anyway, it’s a rather simple mystery that Holmes solves, but it establishes his bonafides and gets him introduced to Watson, which is what matters in the issue. It’s always fun when a mystery can be solved, even though this is not a “fair-play” mystery of any sort, and Holmes manages to solve it and engage in some fisticuffs as well. Beatty drops in all the small hints about Holmes and allows Watson to explain why he has two different wounds (Conan Doyle never cared that he did, but Holmesologists sure do!), and Indro does a decent job with the art – it’s very much in Dynamite’s house style, which isn’t the worst house style in the world. Basically, this is a solid comic that works better if you like Sherlock Holmes already. I do.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #4 (“Get What You Pay For”) by Nick Spencer (writer), CAFU (penciller), George Pérez (penciller/inker), Bit (inker), Scott Koblish (inker), Santiago Arcas (colorist), Blond (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Spencer jerked us around at the end of last issue, when it appeared he revealed the traitor within T.H.U.N.D.E.R. but didn’t really. I don’t really like that he did it the way he did – we heard from one of the Spider (is that all caps?) agents that they had a mole inside T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and the voiceover caption box was juxtaposed with the picture of a supposed good guy, so of course we’re supposed to believe that he was the traitor. But he wasn’t. Now, there’s nothing wrong with misleading the reader for a bit so the actual revelation is more! shocking!, but the problem I have with it is that there was no other reason to show that person at the end of last issue. It was simply to mislead, and while I don’t care all that much (as we learn who the true traitor is this very issue!), I get a bit annoyed when I can’t trust the actual writer of a book. I have no problem with untrustworthy narrators and think they can be used quite well, but when the writer is lying to the reader, I wonder if the entire book is going to rely on tricks at the expense of, you know, good writing. Stay tuned!

I can’t really say much about the issue, because in hindsight, the identity of the traitor isn’t exactly obvious but some of what’s said points that way a bit. Pérez begins the issue with a brief history of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. agents and, quite naturally, it’s stunning (the double-page spread showing the various agents over 40 years is absolutely amazing). CAFU does a nice job with the rest of the book, but Pérez is one of the all-time greats, so the rest of the art suffers a bit by comparison (this was not a problem in the two previous issues, as CAFU is better than 21st-century Chaykin by a fair margin and is about as good as ChrisCross, although their styles are different). Spencer does a nice job introducing yet another agent, and it all leads to the final page, where we learn who the traitor really is. As always with these new series, I’m still feeling it out, but T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents continues to be intriguing, even if I don’t like the dirty trick that Spencer pulled on us. But I’ll forgive it if the rest of the book stays good!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Tyrannosaurus Rex by Mark Kidwell (writer/story), Jay Fotos (story/colorist), Jeff Zornow (artist), and Jason Arthur (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

Kidwell and Fotos start with a premise: Men and dinosaurs exist side by side in some primordial past. One dinosaur, a very mean Tyrannosaurus Rex, constantly destroys a village (unwittingly, it seems; when we see him do it, he’s simply trying to kill his dinner), so the village elder asks for volunteers to hunt and kill it. Nobody wants to do something that crazy, so he offers his granddaughter Raquel Welch – I mean Teela – as a wife to the mighty hunter who kills the dinosaur. Some dude names Gorn steps up, and the hunt is on!

It’s a very silly comic, as Gorn is really not a terribly good hunter and, well, the Tyrannosaur is a heck of a lot bigger than he is, but Kidwell and Fotos have fun with it, as Gorn tries to sneak in as other animals are fighting with the dinosaur. That means there’s a lot of blood and gore in the book, as Gorn tries to survive while hoping others do his dirty work for him. When he finally thinks he has a chance to strike … well, things take a darkly funny turn. I was a bit put off by the fact that Kidwell adds a postscript in which he tells us that someone dies, because it seems gratuitous (even if it’s a fictional character whose death we don’t see), but otherwise, this is just a silly comic about a hapless dude stalking a raging dinosaur. Who doesn’t love that?

It’s a fine issue, but the big star is Zornow, who is really quite good. He draws violence really, really well, and we get a good sense of the grandeur of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. He also has a good sense of humor, as the humans are rather inept, which is reflected in their poses and faces when the elder asks for volunteers, as well as Gorn’s body language as he hunts the Tyrannosaur. Surprisingly, the scantily-clad Teela isn’t in the book all that much, but Zornow does a nice job making her unnaturally hot for a cavewoman but also making her look at least a little plausible. Mainly, the book is just a visual feast, as Zornow really cuts loose. I’m not totally sure if the book is worth $3.99, but Zornow’s art is the best reason to pony up the cash for it.

From what I can ascertain, these guys usually work in horror/gore comics, which is fine but not necessarily my thing. It would be neat to see them do other stuff, because Kidwell has some good pacing in his writing and Zornow is very good. Get on it, gentlemen!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Unwritten #22 (“Leviathan Part Four”) by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (writer and artist), Vince Locke (finisher), Chris Chuckry (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I have mentioned before that I dig when Carey goes into literature and doesn’t get too much into the grand conspiracy of Tom’s life, so I’ve been enjoying this arc. I still can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t a very good comic – I guess it’s implanted itself in my brain and I can’t dislodge it, no matter what happens in the pages. I keep looking for reasons to drop it, even if I like the issue. I’ve really not felt that way about a comic in a long time – usually I am sure it’s just not for me and leave it behind, and it’s been a long time since I regretted doing that. With The Unwritten, I suppose that my background in English as a course of study makes me think that this is something I should love, so I’m torn between enjoying any one issue and thinking it’s just not coming together. Individual scenes are really good – what’s happened to Savoy and Lizzie in the past two issues is icky, and the way Carey foreshadows future events is creepy and effective. Tom getting out of Moby-Dick and entering other stories with oceans in them is clever, and his meeting with Baron Münchhausen is a good way to end the issue.

What am I missing here? It’s very vexing. Should I just move on? It’s really bugging me.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Warlord of Mars #4 by Arvid Nelson (writer), Lui Antonio (artist), Adriano Lucas (colorist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

All right, it’s time to once again discuss nudity. This comic is labeled “mature.” I swear it is – it’s right on the back of the book! In this issue, we are introduced to Dejah Thoris, as she is captured by the green Martians and condemned to die, but John Carter rescues her. Hey, why not? She’s a hottie. Of course, ever since the good old days of the pulps, she has worn very little clothing. Let’s ignore the fact that if Mars is as much a dying desert planet as it’s shown to be in this comic, the winds would probably tear her skin right off after the sun had scorched her – it’s science fiction, after all, so why not? In this comic, the female green Martians, who look vaguely but not completely human, have breasts but don’t cover them. Why don’t they? Presumably because they are drawn without nipples. Then Dejah Thoris shows up. She is wearing, I swear to God, gold nipples over her real ones and a G-string. That’s all. (Okay, she has bracelets, earrings, and a tiara on too.) The only reason we know she’s not actually naked is because the nipple-covers are drawn like the jewelry, but she’s a Martian – her nipples could be golden, for all I know. As this is a “mature” book, why can’t she be drawn with a short skirt (like the green Martian females) and with no top on? That would make more sense from a “Martian fashion sense” kind of way – they don’t seem to care if their women go topless. It’s absolutely ridiculous that Dejah Thoris is essentially naked in this book but nobody has the stones to draw her that way. It would be much more sensible to put a skirt on her and let her go topless. It’s annoying.

Sure, there’s a story. But I was too distracted by Dejah’s ridiculous clothing to write about it!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Wasteland #30 (“How to be Dead”) by Antony Johnston (writer), Christopher Mitten (layouter), Remington Veteto (artist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.50, 24 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

Man, I have missed Wasteland. Back when it was coming out regularly, it was one of the best comics on the shelves, and even though the quality hasn’t fallen off, the fact that its schedule is erratic at best means that people tend to forget about it, and that would be a shame. Johnston is having some issues with artists, apparently, but he hopes that he’s back on track now, and I really hope we can get at least 6 issues a year, if not more. Wasteland is just that good, and it would be nice to see more people exposed to it.

Johnston continues to tell stories of individuals in the city over the course of six months, and this time around he focuses on Golden Voice, the religious leader of the Sunners. Golden Voice finds that he has some leverage over Marcus, the ruler of Newbegin, but not as much as he would like. So he begins a quiet revolution that achieves some major successes. It leads to Golden Voice beginning a story that continues next issue and will tie into the other major plotline, that of Abi and Michael trekking through the desert. Even though it’s been while since an issue came out, it’s still impressive how Johnston is drawing things together.

It’s still an adjustment seeing Veteto’s more solid lines instead of Mitten’s more graceful pencils, but it works pretty well so far, mainly because the action is in the city and not out in the wasteland. I’m not sure if Veteto could get the landscape as well as Mitten could, but it’s not a problem in this issue. I’m very curious what the art will look like going forward, as Mitten’s layouts aren’t the basis for the book’s look any more.

I really hope Wasteland comes out more often, because it’s such a fascinating comic. Johnston recently wrote that he’s plotted out 60 issues and he’s confident that the book is back on track, and I hope he’s right, because I look forward to this even though it’s been six months since an issue came out. Every week I wonder, “Is this the week Wasteland comes out?” And lo, this week the answer was “yes!”

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

X-Factor #215 (“Stake Out”) by Peter David (writer), Valentine de Landro (penciler), Pat Davidson (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Peter David does what he does so well – tell a single issue story while still laying the groundwork for future drama. In this case, it appears that a vampire has killed a man who immigrated here from Ethiopia and later married a younger woman. The man’s daughter hires X-Factor to find if her stepmother is responsible, because she believes her stepmother is only after his money. She also believes she’s the next victim, not surprisingly. So Jamie and Layla investigate, and discover the shocking secret!!!!!

It’s a nifty story, but of course David has more on his mind. One of Jamie’s duplicates proposes to Layla, so that’s hanging over their heads the entire issue, and Jamie is getting increasingly vexed by Layla’s insouciance with regard to her relationship with Doctor Doom (the one she had in the future). Jamie makes the point that Layla’s precociousness was cute when she was a kid, but she’s an adult now and that kind of attitude really pisses people off. Layla, of course, doesn’t let him off the hook easily, and she shows exactly why she needed to hang out with Doctor Doom. It’s a more complex issue than it first appears, but of course, that’s kind of David’s stock in trade.

So yeah. Another good issue of X-Factor. Stop the presses!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Captain America Lives! Omnibus by Ed Brubaker (writer) and a bunch of artists, colorists, and letterers. $75.00, lots of pages, FC, Marvel.

I’ve heard that this series has gone downhill a bit, so we’ll see what I think of this latest giant-sized collection. This has issues #43-50, 600-601, and Reborn, and it seems like the end of this book is when people said the series as a whole started going a bit south.

Eye of the Gods by Gerimi Burleigh (writer/artist). $10.95, 139 pgs, BW, Optic House.

This sounds like a nifty little horror story – a dude gets surgery to repair his eyesight and starts seeing things he shouldn’t be seeing. The art isn’t great, but I have to look at it a bit more closely.

On the Line by Rick Wright (writer) and Rian Hughes (artist). $12.99, 44 pgs, BW, Image.

This is a very odd little collection – it collects all the strips that ran in The Guardian in 1995-96, but the strip itself was sponsored by CompuServe, which was trying to get everyone to go on-line. So it’s kind of a series of advertisements, but they read like comic strips – four panels, a gag at the end, that sort of thing. It’s not worth the 13 dollars, as it takes about 10 minutes to read and isn’t all that great, but Hughes’ oddball art, created with the help of Adobe Illustrator, is interesting to check out. This is much more interesting as a relic of what seems like a long time ago (one strip makes reference to getting “ten hours free” – remember all those discs in magazines and in the mail?) than a proper comic, but it’s kind of neat. Still, not worth the 13 bucks.

No time for love, Dr. Jones, it’s time for The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “Shake Baby Shake” – Chumbawamba (2000) “If you can bake a cake you can make a bomb”
2. “Walk On”U2 (2001) “You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been; a place that has to be believed to be seen”
3. “Heat” – Hamell on Trial (2006) “Was a man with a scar she’d taken up with; who knows the company we keep”
4. “Bitchin’ Camaro” – Dead Milkmen (1985) “Okay, the important thing now is that you ask me what kind of car I have”
5. “Train in Vain (Stand by Me)”The Clash (1979) “Did you lie when you spoke to me”
6. “The Beat of My Heart” – Foreigner (1987) “You tried to take me to another world, but I wouldn’t let you”
7. “Six to Go”Pogues (1990) “Hear the sound, right the wrong”
8. “Lost Again”Suicidal Tendencies (1990) “Thought I could handle it, boy was I wrong”
9. “Going to Graceland” – Dead Milkmen (1987) “If this were Disney World I’d buy a pair of Elvis ears”
10. “Hands All Over”Soundgarden (1989) “In a striking motion, trees fall down like dying soldiers”1

1 Remember how people got bent out of shape because of the “kill your mother” line in this song? And how obvious it is that it’s a metaphor? Man, some people are actually too stupid to live.

Totally Random Movie Quote ahoy!

“The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he’ll … uh … well, you’ll say ‘hello’ to him, right? And he’ll just walk right by you. He won’t even notice you. And suddenly he’ll grab you, and he’ll throw you in a corner, and he’ll say, ‘Do you know that “if” is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you’ … I mean I’m … no, I can’t … I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s … he’s a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas…”

No, it’s not T. S. Eliot. That’s all the hint you’re going to get!

Hey, sorry again about the delay in posting this. I actually got to do something very cool right in the middle of writing these reviews, so that delayed it even longer. Have a nice weekend, everyone!