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What I bought - 10 June 2015

"The real revolution will be when women carry arms." (Italo Calvino, from If on a winter's night a traveler)

Starve #1 ("The Common Meat") by Dave Stewart (colorist), Steve Wands (letterer), Brian Wood (writer), and Danijel Žeželj (artist). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Hey, wouldn't you know I already reviewed this? It's a good comic; go buy it. You know you want to!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Metallic Silence #1 (of 2) by Diego Galindo (artist), Ángel Hernández (artist), Pilar Jaime (colorist), Verónica R. López (colorist), and El Torres (writer). $3.99, 23 pgs, FC, Amigo Comics.

I'm always happy when a title from Amigo shows up, because they really publish good comics but their scheduling is so wonky that I fear no one is reading them. It's too bad - Torres is a good writer, with a lot of very neat ideas, and he usually finds pretty good artists, like Hernández and Galindo, to draw his stuff. I don't know when Metallic Silence was supposed to show up (I assume April, as it was solicited in February), but it's here now!

Torres bases this comic on the electronic music of Azul y Negro, but that doesn't mean you have to be familiar with them, because I certainly am not, and it's still an interesting comic. Torres hits all the familiar notes (you see what I did there?) about a dying earth - the rich can immigrate off-planet, while the poor are left behind in a wretched hive of scum and villainy where smugglers get people onto the off-world transit and "Cruisers" harvest young bodies for nefarious purposes. The protagonist, Basso, is an old-school musician who still has "old-fashioned" CDs, and his girlfriend, Caroline, has left him to get off-world, paying a powerful smuggler, the Mannequin, for a spot on the shuttle. Torres doesn't have a lot of room to establish the world, but he (and the artists) do a decent job of it, and while it's not surprising that Caroline comes back and the Mannequin comes looking for her, it is kind of bizarre why the Mannequin wants her. The Mannequin appears to be just a dude wearing a plastic mask, but by the end of the book, Torres reveals that he's far creepier.

There's a lot to process just in this issue - Torres doesn't go too far into the philosophical underpinnings of the story, but there's a lot about the melding of man and machine, the quest for perfection, the limits of technology, and the comforts of simplicity in this comic. Basso is a musician who lives in a world where music doesn't matter anymore, but it's implied that this connection to something more is the only thing that keeps him human. He's, naturally, a good-looking guy (it's a comic, after all), but he's also beat up by the world a bit, and he looks with scorn and disgust at the "foam people clad in zinc armor" - the Cruisers - who strive for physical perfection but lose their souls. The Mannequin is another of these - we never see his face, but his plastic mask shows a form of perfection that is completely soulless. What he does to Caroline continues this trend, and at the end of the book, it's implied that Basso will need to become less human to save her. It's not a new theme, of course, but Torres does a nice job with it.

Hernández's work looks a bit like Trevor McCarthy's in this comic (it's tough to see what Galindo did in this issue; his art is noticeably different than Hernández's, so maybe he inked this?), and he does a nice job with the seedy world Torres wants to create. His city is cramped and dirty, with just enough sheen in the advertisements that it makes the grime stand out even more, and the people are beaten down and simply marking time until the end of the world. His Mannequin is really terrific, as he's dressed impeccably and the silver mask he wears is terrifying. Hernández really gets the "Blade Runner" vibe that it appears Torres is going for, as the shiny off-world advertisements painfully clash with the reality on the ground, a constant reminder that these people are left behind.

In the back of the comic there's a nice essay about Azul y Negro, and while I'm still not entirely sure if they just came up with this idea or if they wrote a concept album about it, not unlike Kilroy Was Here, it's neat to read about performing artists from other countries that have never made a mark in the States. There's a whole world out there, people!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #4 (of 4). "The Lament of Poor Lenora" by Becky Cloonan (writer/artist); "The Watcher's Stone" by Ryan Lang (writer/artist); "Deep and Dark" by Aaron Conley (artist), Cassie Kelly (colorist), Evelyn Rangel (letterer), Fabian Rangel Jr. (writer), Rico Renzi (colorist); David Petersen (writer/artist, framing sequence; editor); Cameron Chittick (assistant editor), and Bryce Carlson (editor). $3.99, 26 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios/Archaia.

As always, the Legends of the Guard mini-series features cool stories by cool creators, and it's always neat to see. Cloonan does a ghost story, which she seems to be really keen on (it's not only Southern Cross, but some of her other stuff as well), and it looks great, of course. "The Watcher's Stone" is a neat story about a mouse who figures out why a weasel (or stoat, or mink - one of those kinds of animals) isn't killing the mice in the village, and she makes a fateful decision about it. Lang's "painted" art (I imagine it's all digital) is very nice - you can see a lot of this kind of stuff on DeviantArt, of course, but Lang is quite good at it, although the story is colored and shaded a little dark for my tastes (I know, shocking). Conley's fantastic art is the highlight of the third story, as he gives us a full page of a mouse passing through an eel's digestive tract, among other cool things. The story is pretty neat - a drunken mouse gains some redemption when the ghost of his uncle talks to him - but the art is the cool part of the story.

These stories are just fun little tales that allow the creators to have fun in Petersen's world while he (I imagine) works on the next Mouse Guard mini-series. Who knows when that will show up, but in the meantime, we get these neat stories!

(Here's a neat little article about Ryan Lang's story and his art process.)

(Oh, and in one of the weird grammatical errors I noticed this week, on the first page there's a reference to "grizzly wounds." Now, unless they were wounds actually inflicted by a bear, it ought to be "grisly.")

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Drones #3 (of 5) ("Udder Chaos") by Anderson Cabral (colorist), E.T. Dollman (letterer), Chris Lewis (writer), Bruno Oliveira (artist), and Jon Hogan (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW/Comics Experience.

Drones continues to get weirder and weirder, as this issue unleashes the goat on us, and while Quantum and Woody has also unleashed a goat on readers before, it's still fun, especially because we still have no idea what the deal is with this particular goat. It's getting weird to the point where it's very hard to tell what's going on, which, 60% through a mini-series, isn't the worst thing in the world, because there are still 2 issues for Lewis to bring everything together, but it still is a bit unsettling. I've lost track of who's betraying whom in this comic, and when the goat starts talking, well, I kind of want to throw up my hands. But it's insane in a good way, because Lewis is still sticking to his core principle of aligning war with entertainment and porn, and while the violence is raised up a bit in this issue and the voyeuristic aspect of war is down a bit, it's still a fascinating idea. It doesn't make a lot of sense - yet - but it's weirdly entertaining. Which is nice.

If the writing is almost too crazy, Oliveira's art suffers a bit from something else - his women tend to look alike. There's a scene in the casino where the two women talking to each other look almost alike, and it's very hard to figure out what's going on. Lewis finally names one of them, but in a comic with a lot of women, Oliveira has to be better at distinguishing them. It doesn't help that one of them reveals something about herself halfway through the book that makes us re-evaluate what we know, and Oliveira doesn't do a great job changing her appearance too much. I like the art in general, but it's frustrating at times, too.

We're speeding along with this oddball series, and it's really quite something. Whether that will be a good thing or a bad thing when it all shakes out, I don't know, but it's certainly an unusual ride!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Injection #2 by Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Warren Ellis (writer), Fonografiks (letterer), and Declan Shalvey (artist). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

Okay, so I have a confession to make. I have no idea what happened in Injection #1. I mean, I read it, and I know that woman wanted a sandwich (or "sammich") more than anyone has ever wanted anything in their lives, and we met some people, and the principals had tattoos of needles on their arms, but that's about it. It was very nice-looking, and I remember enjoying it, but I can't remember much about it at all. That's weird, but not too weird, because Ellis does this occasionally - when he's not writing extremely tight single-issues stories, he's writing seriously decompressed stuff that occasionally takes a really long time to get going. I like Ellis, so I'm willing to wait around, but man, usually I can at least recall a little bit of what happened in the previous issue. I'm really old.

Anyway, we get more sammich-related stuff in this issue (seriously - Ellis must be really hungry when he types up these scripts), but then one of Ellis's bad-ass characters (not the non-Goth female, not the Goth female - although she does something bad-ass at the end of the book - not the fancy dude in his sterile apartment, but the bald black dude on that awesome cover) kills a bunch of people, and Bob's your uncle. Seriously, that's how decompressed this issue is: Six pages of sammich-related chatter (okay, I'm exaggerating only slightly), five pages of showing us how Bald Black Dude is going to wreck shit, one page of a blond dude talking on the phone, seven pages of BBD wrecking shit, and one page of Goth girl being bad-ass. When your characters discuss food more than Nick Fury and the Avengers do in Original Sin #1, you know you're into some severely decompressed shit. But it's still a good issue - Ellis writes bad-ass well, and it's weird and intriguing enough that even though I have not a very good idea about what's going on (BBD does explain why he kills the shit out of some people, so there's that), it's still a good read. And, of course, Shalvey and Bellaire are amazing on the art. Shalvey has gotten very good at staging fight scenes, so when BBD goes in and starts wrecking shit, it's really expertly done. Bellaire, cleverly enough, changes the way she colors the flashbacks just enough so that Ellis doesn't need to explain that we're in one. It's a beautiful comic.

Maybe next time I'll actually remember what happened in this issue. That would be nice.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Metallic Silence #2 (of 2) by Diego Galindo (artist), Pilar Jaime (color separator), Verónica R. López (colorist), Malaka Studio (letterer), El Torres (writer), Sandra Molina (assistant editor), and Jennifer van Gessel (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Amigo Comics.

One way for Amigo to make sure that everyone gets a completed mini-series is to release it all on one day - I doubt if that's the way they planned it, but my comics shoppe, at least, got both issues on the same day, so huzzah!

It's kind of too bad that this is only a two-issue series, because Torres has a lot of neat things in this comic, and one extra issue could have fleshed it out a little more. He concentrates on Basso's attempts to rescue Caroline, which is the main plot, but he adds so much more about this strange world that I wish there had been at least another issue. Basso figures out what the Mannequin is up to, but again, it's a bit easy for him, and the implications are far-reaching, especially when we consider what the Mannequin has done to himself and to Caroline. We learn the secrets behind the "Cruisers," one of which is hilarious (why they're called that) and one of which is horrible (what their religion leads them to do), but again, there's a whole host of interesting avenues for Torres to explore with regard to that group. The Mannequin's plans for Caroline don't quite go as planned, but we get only a glimpse of that, too. Torres is a fairly thoughtful writer who doesn't necessarily play by the rules of the genre he's writing in, and while a lot of this comic conforms to the dystopian future sci-fi epic kind of thing, there's enough here that deviates from it that it would be interesting to see more of it. Basso is on a schedule, and giving him only this issue to find Caroline (after he lost her in issue #1) helps keep up the tension of the search, but I do wish it had been a bit longer. The characters - Basso, Caroline, the Mannequin, even the Cruisers - are a lot more interesting than we might expect, and I thought it would be nice to spend more time with them.

Amigo has some issues with keeping artists on their books, so Galindo draws the entire second issue after Hernández drew issue #1. Galindo's art is a bit sketchier than Hernández's, and his roughness makes the seedy parts of the world look better but doesn't work as well on a sleek machine like Caroline. He has a lot to draw, so each page is packed with panels, but he tells the story very well, although the climax is a bit weird, as Basso seems too far away from the Mannequin to confront him so closely as he does. Galindo, like Hernández, gets the dichotomy between the rich and poor very well, and his dense pages give us a good sense of the cramped conditions in which Basso and the others live. The book is saturated with blues, which lends a sense of melancholy to everything, but it's not too dark, which is nice.

Amigo continues to put out interesting comics in every kind of genre. As always, I just wish their scheduling was better than it is!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Miami Vice: Remix #4 (of 5) by Joe Casey (writer), Steven Chunn (colorist), Jim Mahfood (artist/letterer), Justin Stewart (colorist), and Shannon Eric Denton (editor). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW/Lion Forge.

The insanity continues, which isn't surprising - why would Casey and Mahfood have any reason to stop it? - as Tubbs and Crockett decide to get serious and find Calderone, the dealer behind the zombie-making drug. They argue, as usual, but they remain focused on their goal, even when they have to talk their lieutenant down from killing a suspect who has something to do with his daughter's disappearance. It's all very crazy - Mahfood is really pulling out all the stops on this book - and Casey's 'roided-up dialogue is over-the-top in the best way possible. This is just a wacky comic. Is it any wonder that I dig it so?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Nameless #4 ("Dark House") by Simon Bowland (letterer), Chris Burnham (artist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), and Grant "Lead time can kiss my ass!" Morrison (writer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

We've kind of officially reached the point of What-the-Fuckness with regard to Nameless, at which point it usually becomes less about trying to review Morrison's comics and more about holding on and hoping he steers back to port successfully. When he does, it's genius. When he doesn't, it's still an epic train wreck. This doesn't look like it's veering into Happy! territory anytime soon, so it probably won't suck, but it still might wander into The Filth territory, which would make it a fascinating failure. Even Morrison's failures are usually interesting, in my humble opinion. But let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

The God of All Comics continues to mess with us, as he gets even deeper into the idea that none of the space stuff is actually happening unless it's really happening, but only in the future and our unnamed hero is just that prophetic. Morrison loves shit like this, where no one knows what is "real" and what's just rattling around in characters' brains, so it's not too surprising he's doing it, but it does make it just a question of whether you're along for the ride or not. I am, so I just sit back and enjoy. It helps that Burnham is destroying it on art - I've been a fan of his for years, but this is real next-level stuff even from his gorgeous work on Batman, Inc. He's using layouts in wonderful ways, adding to the readers' disorientation, and his wonderful details make the horrific elements - boy howdy, are there horrific elements! - more terrifying. He handles the subtle shifts in perceptive reality - the way the doctor's office slows drifts apart over the course of a few panels, for instance - really well, and he's able to switch easily from the more delicate moments - not that there are many - to the rougher, scarier moments. His scratchier lines and thicker blacks in the tarot cards is beautifully done, and Fairbairn's muted colors make them stand out nicely from the rest of the narrative. Fairbairn is marvelous on the comic, too, and it makes the book look absolutely stunning, even if I'm not quite sure what the hell is going on in it. Burnham gives us a sickening portrait of a world falling apart on the last page, which seems a bit like Morrison throwing shade at Alan Moore or Garth Ennis over their Avatar books, but it's still a beautifully drawn vision, as ugly as what it shows is. Burnham makes the book worth reading while Morrison wends his way toward whatever it is he's wending toward.

Nameless is a month behind schedule, which isn't as bad as some Image books but is still annoying. Let's hope the final two issues come out in a timely manner, and then Morrison and Burnham can decide if there's more to tell! I'm certainly looking forward to it, even if I don't have any idea what's going on.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Copperhead #8 by Jay Faerber (writer), Scott Godlewski (artist), Thomas Mauer (letterer), and Ron Riley (colorist). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

In the letters page of this issue, Faerber prints a picture of Godlewski at Samurai Comics in Mesa on Free Comic Book Day, where he was hanging out. I was there, too, and I was wondering where Faerber was - he was "scheduled to appear" - so I was glad that he had a good excuse - he's apparently writing some of that new James Patterson television show, Zoo, and he had "script duties." You gots to pay the bills, man!

Copperhead continues to mosey along, which is not a bad thing, although the book isn't quite as good as Faerber's other current comic, Secret Identities. He's going for more of a slow burn with this book, it seems, so while the plot advances, it also feels a bit meandering - the sheriff, for instance, doesn't even appear in this issue, as Faerber is expanding the world of the book nicely. So we get bad guys doing bad things (we get an example of Pop Culture Rule #1, too, which is a bit annoying), like transporting Deputy Boo, who does a good job spreading dissension in their ranks, and a sniper taking potshots at them when they stop. It's mysterious, but not too much, and Faerber does a good job making sure the clichés of this kind of story - the hostage turning the tables on his or her captors - don't become overwhelming. Boo escapes momentarily because he's very good at what he does, but he can't escape completely because he's out in the desert. He's smarter than his captors, so he talks to them, trying to mess with their heads. None of this is new, but Faerber is good at making it feel natural - Boo takes his opportunities where he can, but doesn't try to push it. Whether he'll succeed or not is in the future, but Faerber does a nice job with him in this issue.

Godlewski gets to open up a bit, too, as we get his typical nice work with a little extra oomph to things. When a character is shot, we get a sound effect made from darkened speed lines behind him, giving us both the impression of the bullet arriving with some velocity and with some noise. He gets to draw a nice double-page spread of the bad guys shooting off a mortar (it's more interesting than it sounds), which helps orient the reader in the location. He has to draw a lot of characters talking, and he does a good job with it - he shows how devious Boo is being and how conflicted the bad guys are when he talks to them. Godlewski doesn't get to draw a ton of action, but he does a nice job with it when he does.

I'm enjoying Copperhead, but it's not wowing me. Faerber and Godlewski are just doing their thing, and it's a solid read. That's perfectly okay with me!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Strange Sports Stories #4 (of 4). "Waking" by John J. Hill (letterer), Joseba Larratxe (artist), and Genevieve Valentine (writer); "Lottery" by Corey Breen (letterer), Giulia Brusco (colorist), Brian Buccellato (writer), and Megan Levens (artist); "The Time Grappler" by Wes Abbott (letterer), Max Dunbar (penciller), Nick Filardi (colorist), Ande Parks (inker), and Aubrey Sitterson (writer); "1 v. A" by Chris Hunt (writer), Tom Napolitano (letterer), Shay Plummer (colorist), and Paul Pope (writer/artist); Gregory Lockard (editor), Molly Mahan (editor), and Jamie S. Rich (editor). $4.99, 32 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Another Vertigo anthology comes to an end, and as usual, we get a nifty assortment of stories. None of them will change the world, but it's still nice to see them. The highlight is probably Paul Pope's story, not because it's so good (it's not bad - two robots built for fighting continue to fight even after the apocalypse) but because Pope, you know, draws it. We can never have enough Paul Pope art!!!! The other stories are fine - Valentine really leans into comparing a falcon to a woman in her story, but it's not bad, and it looks great; Brian Buccellato tells a somewhat obvious story about a society where people are chosen to fight giant bruisers to the death for some reason, but it's a decent look at barbarism and what family means to some people, and Levens draws it well; "The Time Grappler" is a silly tale about a wrestler thrown into the space-time continuum who ends up destroying the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, but that's okay. The dinosaur is apparently more realistic than the ones in Jurassic World, anyway, and the artwork keeps with the bright, somewhat goofy tone of the story. I know that none of these stories are ever going to be classics - at least, I doubt they will be - but I still like to read them, and I always like checking out the different artists. That's just how I roll, man.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Rebels #3 ("A Well-Regulated Militia Part 3 of 6") by Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer), Andrea Mutti (artist), Brian Wood (writer), Spencer Cushing (assistant editor), and Sierra Hahn (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Look at me, already reviewing this! Next issue will be one I haven't read, so I'm looking forward to it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Harrow County #2 by Cullen Bunn (writer), Tyler Crook (artist/letterer), Owen Gieni (artist, "Tales of Harrow County"), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Bunn is writing an interesting horror comic so far - in issue #1, we got a bit of the backstory about Harrow County, its secret, and why Emmy is so important, and in issue #2, Emmy decides to say "fuck it" and take off. As you might recall, I'm not a fan of fiction where the characters act like idiots (which they do in a lot of horror stories), so I appreciate the fact that Bunn doesn't make Emmy one - I mean, she brings home the skin of that boy, a "haint," but that's not insanely dumb, and it turns out for the best anyway. She actually heeds some good advice (or at least a quasi-prophecy) and legs it, which won't help her, of course (I mean, it's a horror comic, so the focus of the horror has to remain in the place where the horror is), but at least she's not acting like an idiot. Bunn does a really nice job creating the atmosphere of tension and dread around Emmy's farm, so that when she does run, even the weirdness she finds in the woods isn't the worst of things. He's unfolding a weird mystery here, and while we don't know a lot about it yet and some of the things we do know feel familiar (WITCH!!!!), it's still a neat mystery.

Crook continues to do fine work on comics, as his very nice pencil work - Emmy's dad looks terrifying in some panels even though Crook doesn't make it too obvious, and the haint is pretty creepy - is augmented by his tremendous paint job. He uses watercolors beautifully to create a sense of death around Emmy's farm, from the bright leaves on the autumn trees to the dull grays and whites inside her house, which seem to turn it into a mausoleum. When Emmy has a flashback, Crook paints it luridly with yellows and oranges and reds and greens, making it even weirder than it already is (and it's pretty darned weird). It's a beautiful book, evoking a lost innocence of American life but revealing the horror underneath. Crook has done nice work before, but he's really doing superb work here.

We're only two issues in, so I'm still feeling this out, but so far, it's pretty keen. And I like the creators, so I have a feeling I'll keep enjoying it as we move forward!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Descender #4 ("Tin Stars Part 4 of 5") by Jeff Lemire (writer), Dustin Nguyen (artist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

Descender is a weird comic, because while I like it, I haven't really connected with it yet, and therefore I feel coolly toward it even though I recognize the skill that goes into it. I often feel this way about comics, and I usually give the non-Big Two ones a chance, at least for a while. After next issue, I'll have to decide about Descender. I think I'll keep buying it, but I'm not sure.

There's nothing really wrong with the comic, of course. Nguyen's art is excellent, as usual, and his paints are stunning. Lemire is doing a good job expanding this universe without losing focus on TIM-21, the Robot Jesus, and there's some nice humor in the book. He doesn't take the easy way out - Dr. Quon being a coward was a nice touch - and he writes good dialogue that reveals stuff about the speaker without being too obvious. There's just something I'm not feeling with the book, and I can't quite put my finger on it. It happens, but unlike some comics where I like parts of it but can point to things I really don't like, there's nothing really to dislike here. That's why I'll probably keep buying it, although I haven't made up my mind yet. It's just ... weird, you know? Words fail me. Sorry!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Gotham Academy #7 ("Curse of the Inishtree Quill") by Mingjue Helen Chen (artist), Becky Cloonan (writer), Brendan Fletcher (writer), Steve Wands (letterer), and Rebecca Taylor (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC. Damian Wayne sort-of created by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham, but really created by the God of All Comics and Andy Kubert. Bookworm created by William Dozier, Larry Peerce, and Hendrik Vollaerts.

This is a weird, not-very-good issue of Gotham Academy, which has been quite good so far, and it's a bit puzzling. This might be my faulty memory, but I could have sworn Damian Wayne would be in a two-issue arc, but he's expelled at the end of this issue, so that's that. It doesn't make a big difference, but his presence in this comic does feel fairly perfunctory, so I wonder if he was originally supposed to be in at least one more issue but the evil, quavering hand of Editorial yanked him away. Again, that shouldn't matter to the quality of the comic, but again, his presence does feel slight in this comic, which is part of the problem.

Cloonan and Fletcher give us, basically, a fill-in issue. This is coming out of a two-month break on the title, so what's the deal with that? It's a fairly wispy story about Maps crushing on Damian and them getting their hands magically stuck together as they try to find a cursed quill. It feels like an issue that serves to re-introduce the cast, which is fine, I guess, but it's still a dull way to do it. The reason Maps and Damian have their hands stuck together is dumb, too, because there's no way they could do what they did if it was as easy as Bookworm makes it out to be. Maps is always a delight, but even she can't save the issue (although her love of Damian's grapple gun, while a blatant lift from Mabel on Gravity Falls, is very funny). It just feels like a waste of time. Plus, Damian throws a batarang? Is he supposed to be so cavalier about his secret identity? I mean, that seems like a dead giveaway.

Chen's art certainly doesn't help, either. I don't know how fast Kerschl works, but he didn't draw all of issue #6, then there was two months off, and he can't draw issue #7? It's not that Chen is a bad artist - she has a nice, manga-fied style that works well on a kid-centric book, but in this issue, her storytelling is seriously off. On the second and third pages, when Eric attacks Bookworm, the art is just bad. Chen's close-ups don't show that at all, as it's all reaction shots to the central event, which is barely shown. Maps tells us that Eric goes "bonkers," which is good, because it's very unclear from the art. During the crucial moment where Maps and Damian get their hands stuck together, we get no sense that they're even near each other, and there's no reason why they would be reaching out to touch each other. When Pomeline goes nuts and pushes Damian out the window, Maps isn't even in the panel, even though she's supposed to be attached to his right hand. Even on the last page, Maps isn't even looking for Damian when she mentions that he's disappeared (he pulled a "Batman"), so her statement feels off. The writing on the book isn't great, but the art makes it seem worse because Chen doesn't interpret it as well as she could.

It's too bad - this has been a very good comic for six issues, so I guess they're allowed a clunker. Coming out of a two-month break, however, it really feels like a bad misstep. Let's hope next issue is back on point!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

B.P.R.D.: 1946-1948 by bunches of people. $34.99, 408 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I love these B.P.R.D. hardcovers. So many good comics, all at a pretty nice price!

Bodies by Sal Cipriano (letterer), Taylor Esposito (letterer), Meghan Hetrick (artist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), Tom Napolitano (letterer), Dean Ormston (artist), Dezi Sienty (letterer), Si Spencer (writer), Tula Lotay (artist), Phil Winslade (artist), and Liz Erickson (editor). $16.99, 190 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Well, I figured this would look weird, and it sure does!

Forager by Challenging Studios (colorist), Steven Cummings (artist), Justin Gray (writer), Jimmy Palmiotti (writer), Bill Tortolini (letterer), and Joanne Starer (editor). $9.99, 63 pgs, Jet City Comics.

A girl hears angels, but are they angels or aliens? WhoooOOOOOoooooOOOOO!!!!!

Island of Memory by T Edward Bak (writer/artist). $11.95, 68 pgs, FC, Floating World Comics.

You know what you never knew you needed? A comic about the travels of Georg Wilhelm Steller across the Bering Strait! Well, now you have it!

Mike's Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv by Jack Baxter (writer), Joshua Faudem (writer), and Korem Shadmi (artist). $22.99, 189 pgs, BW, First Second.

The writers wanted to do a documentary about a bar in Tel Aviv where everyone - no matter what their politics or religion - was welcome, until a suicide bomber decided to crash the party. So this is a comic by the documentarians about trying to make a documentary where the subject matter suddenly changes thanks to real-world events. It sounds fascinating.

Silver volume 1 by Stephan Franck (writer/artist). $12.99, 87 pgs, BW, Dark Planet Comics.

A dude in the 1930s decides to rob vampires of all their wealth. What could possibly go wrong?

Silver Surfer volume 2: Worlds Apart by Laura Allred (colorist), Michael Allred (artist), Joe Sabino (letterer), Dan Slott (writer), Sarah Brunstad (assistant editor), and Jennifer Grünwald (collection editor). $15.99, 101 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I liked the first volume well enough, so we'll see what's going on with this one!

Towerkind by Kat Verhoeven (writer/artist). $15.00, 160 pgs, BW, Conundrum Press.

This book is about an apartment complex in Toronto where weird things start happening. The book is tiny - it's 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches. What the crap?

Money spent this week: $181.08. YTD: $2871.04.

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I don't have a Top Ten list or songs from my iPod (I'm in a non-iPod mode right now, but soon I will add more songs, and then it will be back!), but I do have links! First, the semi-serious news: Robot 6 notes that a college student wants to have comics removed from a class about comics. She's upset that comics aren't just Batman and Robin punching bad guys. Sheesh. The original story is here. This never ends well for censors, does it?

Meanwhile, you know you want to support the Kickstarter for manly lip balm. I like how men these days feel the need to groom themselves but they have to make everything "manly." You know how manly I am? I DON'T EVEN USE MOTHERFUCKING LIP BALM!!!!!

Christopher Lee died this week, and if you don't know who Christopher Lee is, I think you need to turn in your nerd card. Lee led a far more fascinating life than even his acting career would imply, and here are 22 facts about him. Lee worked for the Special Operations Executive during World War II, which was informally called the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Holy crap, that's awesome.

In case you missed it, the final episode of Phineas and Ferb aired on Friday night. It was a pretty good episode, as Candace accidentally/on purpose reset the last day of summer so she could bust the boys, and in doing so opened a rift in the space-time continuum that started sucking things through, which made everyone (except her and Dr. Doofenshmirtz, as they were protected by a little bubble when the machine powered up) forget that thing, so when Phineas and Ferb went through, everyone forgot they existed. Both she and Doofenshmirtz are trying to fix the problem (independently of each other), as the day keeps resetting and will soon destroy the universe. The nicest thing about the episode was that Vanessa Doofenshmirtz (by far the best character on the show) convinced her dad to give up evil, so there was some nice closure there. The worst thing about the episode was that Stacy (by far the second best character on the show) and Jeremy didn't appear. Come on, Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh! Get with it! And, of course, the enduring mystery of the series will never be answered: Just what's the deal with the parents? Phineas and Ferb are stepbrothers, and they're about the same age. So Lawrence Fletcher had a kid with someone else at the same time as Linda Flynn was having a kid. Yet we've seen that they were dating in the 1980s. What the heck, Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh? What kind of weird family dynamic are you pulling? Are Linda and Lawrence in some kind of open relationship? We'll never know!!!!

Anyway, it's a great show. Somehow they managed to keep it fairly fresh for over 220 episodes. That ain't bad.

Last week's Totally Random Lyrics were from "Skeleton Key" by Dessa. No one guessed. So sad! Here's a video of the song:

This week's Totally Random Lyrics are below!

"In a couple of days they come and take me awayBut the press let the story leakAnd when the radical priestCome to get me releasedWe was all on the cover of NewsweekAnd I'm on my wayI don't know where I'm goingI'm on my way, I'm taking my time"

That's pretty easy, isn't it? We shall see!

Have a nice day, everyone. This week, I hope the long, annoying story of my quest for faster Internet service with come to an end, so maybe I can get these reviews up before Sunday night. We shall see. I know you can't wait to find out!

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