What I bought - 13 July 2011

What a bore it is, waking up in the morning always the same person. (Jeremy Leven, from Creator)

Batgirl #23 ("Here Endeth the Lesson") by Bryan Q. Miller (writer), Pere Pérez (artist), Guy Major (colorist), and Carlos M. Mangual (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Miller is wrapping things up, as the saga of the Grey Ghost comes to an abrupt end and we learn a bit more about the weird superpowered people who have been showing up in this book for the past few months. It's an exciting, fast-paced issue, with a shocker! of an ending, but I guess there's nothing much to say, as next issue is the last one. Except that I would bet cash money that Kelly Thompson let out a girlish giggle of glee when the totally Airwolf panel showed up. CASH MONEY, THOMPSON!!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Bodysnatchers #2 by Pasquale Pako Massimo (writer/artist), Barbara Ciardo (colorist), Giuseppe Boccia (color assistant), Raffaele de Angelis (color assistant), Andrea Plazzi (translator), and Adam McGovern (translator). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, GG Studio.

The first issue of this series came out quite some time ago, and who knows when the next one is coming out, which is kind of annoying, but oh well. I didn't go back and re-read the first issue, but basically the story takes place in a dystopian future where weird bad guy cops kill helpless innocents. The husband of the protagonist (whose name is Marta or Martha; her name is written both ways) is killed by her son (which doesn't seem nice) and she has to go on the lam. In this issue, she meets the dude who saved her at the end of last issue, who calls himself a "bodysnatcher." He's part of the underground economy in the city, and he gives her the grand tour (and she ends up in bed with him, which seems a bit quick considering her husband just got killed). She's supposed to play a strange and as-yet-undefined role in this underground, and there are creepy robot kids. Basically, after the weirdness of the first issue, this issue serves to give us a few answers - not many, but a few. The story is still herky-jerky, which might have something to do with the translation, but it gets the job done for now. Massimo's rough art is a good enough draw for me to wait until the story coheres into something a bit more manageable. I just hope the next issue doesn't take three months to show up!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Damaged #1 (of 6) by Sam Worthington ("executive producer"), Michael Schwarz (creator), John Schwarz (creator), David Lapham (writer), Leonardo Manco (artist), Kinsun Loh (colorist), Jerry Choo (colorist), Sansan Saw (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC, Radical Comics.

Oh, Radical Comics. What are we to do with you? Back when Radical started, they made it very clear they were publishing comics as "illustrated screenplays" that they could turn into movies. It was a crass move, sure, but they were upfront about it and, hey, more comics in the world is never a bad thing. They churned out some mediocre product that was, at least, a bit unusual and clever in concept if not completely in execution. They put out some very good comics, too, but those were few and far between (and when your output doesn't rival DC and Marvel's, the crap is easier to spot - DC and Marvel publish far more crappy comics than Radical does, but they also publish far more very good ones). Recently, however, they've teamed up with Hollywood types to produce comics that are even more cynically geared toward providing easy-to-translate screenplays. Unfortunately, the comics they're publishing these days read more and more like dull action movies with some splashes of horror, and their earlier ventures that embraced a wider variety of genres seems to have fallen by the board. I don't care if Radical lives or dies, you understand, but I do wonder if this more focused style of producing comics will, in fact, lead to the Hollywood windfall they seem to think it will.

Sam Worthington is the latest actor to realize that comics provide a cheap alternative to writing a screenplay - and hey, you can make money off of comics, while it's kind of hard to sell copies of a screenplay - and he and Radical have teamed up, hired David Lapham and Leonardo Manco (who used to be a good artist), and pumped out Damaged, a fairly dull action/adventure/revenge/vigilante Clint Eastwood/Charles Bronson mash-up. There's nothing terribly interesting about Damaged: In the obligatory "blow shit up" opening, a vigilante kills a bunch of dudes who either raped a girl on a highway or tried to cover it up; in the next scene, we're introduced to the young cop who's appointed the head of a task force on organized crime because the old cop running it is too old; the old cop has no respect for the new cop, but they have to work together when they realize the vigilante has attacked a mob safe house; the old cop figures out who the vigilante is, and in the final scene, he confronts the vigilante, who's ... his brother! (Dum-dum-DUMMMMMM!) It's all very paint-by-numbers, and Lapham is certainly better than this (so is Peter Milligan, another good writer whom Radical hired and who then proceeded to phone it in). Manco used to be better than this, but he's become an artist who simply creates characters who look like actors - I'm sure I could figure out who these characters are supposed to be, but I can't be fucking bothered (I guess Worthington is cast as the new cop, but I could be wrong). This is a dull first issue to what appears to be a dull series. Sigh.

Radical's best comics are when they allow comics creators to tell their own stories without worrying whether Hollywood wants them or not - Hotwire and The Last Days of American Crime remain their best comics, with Time Bomb not too far behind. Damaged is not one of those, unfortunately. I always appreciate it when Radical sends me their comics, even if it means reading this. Every once in a while they hit a home run!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Detective Comics #879 ("Skeleton Key") by Scott Snyder (writer), Francesco Francavilla (artist/colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

I'm still a bit puzzled why this run of Detective is coming to an end, unless Snyder, Jock, and Francavilla don't want to continue, which seems unlikely as Snyder is still going to be writing the character (well, the Bruce Wayne version, but still). I can't imagine Greg Capullo bringing the same visual wonder to the title, because Jock and Francavilla are so much better than he is, and I also can't imagine whoever's coloring the book bringing the same kind of dynamism that Francavilla does when he pencils the book. As always, this is a visual treat, with the dominant reds and blues of Francavilla's palette joined by the eerie green of Barbara's computer screens.

Snyder, unfortunately, brings back the Joker in this issue, which is annoying, but he and Francavilla use a bit of restraint by never showing us his face (he's in a straightjacket and a Hannibal Lector mask) and making him genuinely scary (which probably won't last next issue, because the Joker rarely stays scary for long). I still don't understand why anyone allows the Joker to get under their skin (excuse the pun), especially someone who's worked with the crazy people at Arkham for a time. I mean, come on, doctor! Meanwhile, the saga of James Gordon hurtles toward its conclusion, and neither of these threads is going to end well, is it? Not that that matters, because Snyder is doing a wonderful job with Commissioner Gordon and his family problems.

While it's a shame that there are only two more issues of this run, at least we'll get those! Snyder's run has been magnificent, and you owe it to yourself to read these comics!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2 (of 3) ("Our Army at Gore!") by Jeff Lemire (writer), Ibraim Roberson (artist), Alex Massacci (artist), Pete Pantazis (colorist), and Pat Brosseau (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

I honestly don't understand the concept of doing three-issue mini-series that tie into your big summer event comic, about which we've known for some time, and not being able to keep an artist. Pérez only did the first part of issue #1 of Secret Seven, and now, Roberson hasn't finished issue #2 of this series. Seriously, DC - what the fuck? I mean, Roberson isn't the greatest artist, but he has a nice style, and Massacci's second half of this book looks rushed and a bit sloppy and stylistically, different from Roberson's first half. I mean, it's July. DC knew they were doing "Flashpoint" at least, what, six months ago (if not longer)? When did they decide on the creative teams for this event? This book would have been solicited in Previews two months ago, right? So they had already approached Roberson about it, right? Are we supposed to believe that Roberson couldn't get two 20-page issues done in three months (issue #1 would have been solicited three months ago)? And let's say DC had approached the creators a bit before they solicited the issues. So let's say early April at the latest. Roberson couldn't draw 40 pages in 10-11 weeks? Sheesh.

Oh, in this issue, Elsa Bloodstone tracks our intrepid heroes. And even though Frankenstein has stitches all over his body and that stupid Herman Munster haircut, his wife - who was presumably also built, as she has four arms - is c-a-t hot. Funny how that works.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Green Wake #4 (of 5) by Kurtis Wiebe (writer), Riley Rossmo (artist), and Kelly Tindall (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Image/Shadowline.

Morley figures some things out about Green Wake in this issue, but will it be soon enough to stop Ariel from killing people????? Oh, the drama! And then there's Carl. Who the hell knew, amirite? Wiebe keeps twisting the story around, giving us new perspectives on all the crap that's been going on and surprising the hell out of us as he does so. Of course, he still doesn't explain the damned frogs. I'm sure that's coming!

Rossmo's color palette is even more restrained in this issue, which makes Ariel's red hair stand out even more. There's also a terrifying scene where the sound effects become part of the artwork, and it's truly disturbing. As horror comics go, Wiebe and Rossmo are delivering. This is a freaky comic, sure, but it's very powerfully written and drawn. I'm very keen to see the big finale!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Li'l Depressed Boy #5 ("History of a Boring Town") by S. Steven Struble (writer/colorist/letterer) and Sina Grace (artist). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

This is the first issue of this series that felt like a misstep, because after last issue, when Jazmin "dumped" LDB (it wasn't really a break-up, as they weren't really dating - our hero thought they were, but she just thought they were hanging out until she went off with her boyfriend again), our Depressed Boy needs to sit around and mope. His friend Drew shows up after a tour and tries to cheer him up, but fails. Then they go on a road trip and Drew gets arrested. The end.

It's still a perfectly good "real-life" kind of book, because LDB goes through what most of us have gone through, but unlike the previous issues, where he was courting Jazmin, there's nothing all that interesting about moping. So while I recognize that Struble is presenting this section of the dating cycle well, it's still kind of boring. Oh well. It's a set-up issue for the road trip, so I can live with it. It doesn't work as a complete issue, though. The one-page comic showing how Drew and LDB met is funny, though.

Li'l Depressed Boy claims that "punch-bug" is a dumb name, and it should be "slug-bug" because that rhymes. Growing up, we said "punch-buggy." So LDB can suck it. SUCK IT!!!!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Loose Ends #1 (of 4) by Jason Latour (writer), Chris Brunner (artist), and Rico Renzi (colorist). $3.99, 23 pgs, FC, 12-Gauge Comics.

Loose Ends is slightly bigger than the average comic book. Why do creators/publishers do that? It's not like it's so big that the art is so much grander, which is not a bad reason to make your comics bigger. It's just big enough that it won't fit into a standard Mylar bag, which makes me think whoever came up with it is having a laugh about this. I mean, if you're going to make it bigger, make it gigantic. If not, make it standard size. Some of us like to protect our flimsy single issues, you know. I could have waited for the trade, you know!

Anyway, Loose Ends is a nifty little crime comic, although a lot of this is setting things up for later issues. A guy named Sonny shows up at the bar shown on the cover, flirts with that young lady on the cover, and ends up inside talking to a girl he used to know, with whom he has a child. In a flashback, we find out that one of his friends, Rej, is trying to get him to be a heroin courier, even though he doesn't want to do it (although he gives in eventually, as we see before the flashback). Rej gets in some trouble at the end of the book, and we know the bad guys are going to be coming for Sonny. Meanwhile, the mouth-breathers at the bar start getting frisky, and Sonny sticks his nose in, leading to bad things all around. It's all very dramatic.

Latour, who's a pretty good artist, does a decent job with writing - he definitely understands that sometimes you need to shut up and let the artist tell the story. Unfortunately, he might be a bit too oblique - how Rej gets in trouble at the end is a bit unclear - but I'm willing to wait for answers to any questions I have. Brunner is excellent on this book - he has a Nathan Fox vibe going on, and he lays out a page superbly, packing a lot of information into each panel. He does a nice job with smaller panels in the action scene, showing little snapshots of what's going on and allowing us to fill in the blanks. When movies do the shaky-cam thing, it annoys me, but when comics do the equivalent, it works better because the panels are static, and our brains can join them together at any rate we like. Brunner is very good at this, and Renzi's glorious coloring job helps a great deal, as he slowly brings in more and more reds until the comic explodes in violence, when the red threatens to overwhelm everything. It's a good choice, and then Renzi shifts right back to cooler colors when we reach the end.

Loose Ends is an interesting comic so far, and I'm certainly curious about what's going on. I just wish the issue were a little smaller. Is that too much to ask?!?!?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Memoir #4 (of 6) ("The Hunt") by Ben McCool (writer), Nikki Cook (artist), and Tom B. Long (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, BW, Image.

Memoir continues to meander along, taking its sweet time coming out, and I don't know how much I can really say about it. McCool throws some more loops at Trent, the reporter who arrived in Lowesville trying to find out what the hell is going on, and we're set up fairly well for the final two issues, but the book has lost any momentum it had from the creepy first issue, mainly because it's taken so very long to come out. Hey, remember Choker? Yeah, I wonder where that sucker is too. McCool was talking about how it would be finished soon after last year's Comic-Con. Maybe he'll be there again this year and I can ask him what's up with both of these series. Memoir is decent, but it's really hard to write about it. I'm sure the trade will be fine!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Northlanders #42 ("The Icelandic Trilogy Part One: Settlement 871") by Brian Wood (writer), Paul Azaceta (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Wood's Viking epic enters its last big storyline, a nine-issue "trilogy" (yes, it's a trilogy, because Wood is planning on telling three separate stories about Iceland, each three issues long) that begins really well, with a family settling Iceland almost before anyone else and getting into trouble when other settlers show up. The main family, the Haukssons (well, the dad is named "Hauker," but the son is named Hauksson), gets involved in a feud with the Belgarssons, and things immediately start to spiral out of control. Val, his wife (who remains nameless), and his son Ulf settle the land, and early on, Wood does a nice job showing both the idyllic nature of a virgin land and the absolute harshness of it - Ulf, in particular, has no idea why his father took them away from Norway and sailed across the ocean to this forbidding land. Then the other settlers arrive, and Val tries to turn Ulf into a weapon, which succeeds all too well. It's a horrifying little issue, because Wood throws in a twist at the end that makes perfect sense but is terrifying nevertheless. Unlike recent issues of Northlanders, which have felt a bit rushed, this issue is brilliantly paced, and I'm looking forward to the rest of this epic.

Azaceta is a good artist for this kind of story, and I'm surprised Wood hasn't asked him to draw an arc before this one (maybe he did and Azaceta was busy, for all I know). Azaceta does a good job with rough-hewn people, and considering his best work has come when he's doing noir-ish crime fiction, it's not surprising he does well with Wood's "Nordic crime saga." The comic doesn't need fine lines, it needs an artist to attack the page and show us a land that can defeat you and men who won't be defeated, and Azaceta does just that.

I've been a fan of Northlanders since it began, and I'm a bit sad that it's getting cancelled. At least Wood can go out with a bang, and from this issue, it sounds like he has a big blast prepared.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Red Robin #25 ("7 Days of Death Part Three: The Bigger Picture") by Fabian Nicieza (writer), Marcus To (penciller), Ray McCarthy (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Cass Cain and Tim Drake team up to take down the mysterious person behind the assassination tournament (come on, nobody thought that Cass was really being a bad guy from that cover, did they?). That's the basic outline. Nicieza does a nice job throwing a curve ball into the proceedings when Cass appears to skewer Tim, and the way Cass and Tim take down the tournament is done well, even though the bad guy is never seen and gets away, not before he leaves Tim with some doubts about whether he's a bad guy. But all of that takes about 13-14 pages (depending on when you want to stop counting), and a page of that is Tim explaining how they fooled the bad guy into thinking Cass killed him. So what about the rest of the issue?

See, that's where things get weird. The first page continues from the previous issue, when the young lady had Tim at her mercy and was going to rape him to get pregnant. Tim narrates some information about the tournament in order to keep his eyes away from the nude chick in front of him. Then Cass intervenes and rescues him. This scene was problematic last issue, and it's still vexing this time around. Tim is 17 years old - Nicieza states it in this very issue - and the woman who is about to jump him is a "half sister of Ra's al Ghul" - which doesn't mean that she's over 18, of course, but either way, DC is showing a minor about to get raped in a superhero book. I just can't help think that if Stephanie Brown were in Tim's situation and the villain was a man, there'd be an outcry about it. Maybe I'm wrong. The scene is still skeevy.

Then there's the denouement of the issue, which is really bizarre. Maybe Nicieza is trying very hard to wrap things up before the book gets cancelled out from under him, but he seems to rush through a lot in the final few pages. First Tim gets dumped by his girlfriend. Okay, fair enough - he used her dad as bait, and she didn't think that was jake. Then he fights a bad guy in Hong Kong with Cass Cain, and they get beaten. Badly. This takes one page. Then, six weeks pass as he recovers from his injuries, and in that time, he manages to build a Robincave in his home, which happens to be in the middle of a residential area yet no one thinks it's weird - the Robincave is above-ground, according to Tim, so it's not like it's hidden underground somewhere. Finally, Tim narrates that he just killed a dude, which ends the issue. It doesn't feel like much of a cliffhanger, given that I very much doubt Tim killed anyone (even this dude), so there's that. What an odd way to end the issue. Others seem to have figured out a way to wrap up their series - maybe Nicieza had so many subplots running that he couldn't do it quickly enough? We'll see next issue, which is the last one.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Red Wing #1 (of 4) ("Learning to Fly") by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Pitarra (artist), and Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist). $3.50, 25 pgs, FC, Image.

Hickman returns to his Image roots with his latest mini-series, which in one issue manages to be more interesting than any of his Fantastic Four I read and faster-paced than Secret Warriors and S.H.I.E.L.D.. I certainly like Hickman, but at Marvel, he seems really obsessed with world-building, and as he constantly proves with his Image mini-series, he can world-build on the fly very well, so why does he take so long when he's writing for Marvel?

The premise of The Red Wing is simple, even if it gets into time travel, which always makes my head hurt. It's the 23rd century, and humanity is fighting against an alien invader. They have decided the only way to win is to fight the war through time, because if they can stop the invaders before they invade and change their culture, then the invaders will never, you know, invade. I mean, of course! Two new pilots, Dom and Valin, are introduced to us as they enter the pilot program, and we find out that the person in the first part of the book, who was fighting through time, is Dom's father. They think he's dead, but of course we find out at the end of the book that he's not. Well, duh.

Hickman tells the story with a great deal of panache, which of course obscures the wonkier aspects of the comic - I can deal with time travel on this level, even though I fear it will get more and more complicated as it goes along. It's essentially a war comic, so we have to get to know the soldiers and the weapons - the goofier parts can come later! Hickman has always been good at coming up with really keen plots and making them work, so this is a pretty fun comic.

Pitarra is very good, too - he drew the Colossus of Rhodes story in the "infinity" issue of S.H.I.E.L.D., which rocked - as he kind of channels Frank Quitely a bit, except his faces are a bit more interesting. He keeps things moving well and does a nice job interpreting Hickman's wacky script. Hickman has worked with some good artists on his Image mini-series (when he's not doing the art himself), and Pitarra is another one of those. It's very neat.

I'm glad Hickman hasn't forsaken these weird little stories that he can tell outside of the Marvel Universe. It's always cool to see them!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Sherlock Holmes: Year One #5 (of 6) ("Cui Bono?") by Scott Beatty (writer), Daniel Indro (artist), Tony Aviña (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

Latin is a rudimentary language in many ways - its vocabulary is much smaller than English, for instance - but I can't help but love cases and genders, which many languages still cling to today even though English has gotten rid of that crap. U! S! A! Where was I? Oh, the title of this story. "Cui bono" is a wonderful saying, because it's in the dative case. "Cui" is the dative version of "qui," meaning "who," and "bonus" means "good." So "cui bono" means "to whose good" or, as we would say, "Who benefits?" We use the nominative ("who") where Latin often uses other cases where the subject is implied. Latin is way cool, by the way.

Anyway, the Twelve Caesars serial killings take a back seat this issue, as Holmes wraps up a dangling plot thread from the case of the "Gloria Scott," the first Holmes case. Much of this issue is simply a summary of that case, which makes it a bit less interesting than the previous issues. By the end, however, Holmes is back on the case of the Twelve Caesars, and unfortunately, Beatty takes the path of least resistance when he reveals the bad guy. In case you're wondering, it's kind of like someone writing Batman and doing a Joker story. Yes, yes. He's bad. And he commits every crime ever. Yawn.

I'll stick around to read the last issue, mainly because I'm glad the weapon is a bit more interesting than I thought it might be, but I do wish Beatty had confounded my expectations a bit more. Oh well.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Shinku #2 ("Throne of Blood Part Two") by Ron Marz (writer), Lee Moder (penciller), Matthew Waite (inker), Michael Atiyeh (colorist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Speaking of a book that confounds my expectations, the second issue of Shinku is as awesome as the first, which is nice. The vampire angle is still my least favorite part of the book, but that's just because of my experiences with vampire fiction, which has never really grabbed my interest as it has so many others. But Marz has done a nice job so far making them tolerable, and he's really doing a nice job with Shinku and Davis, who talk a bit about samurai in this issue and, if they don't exactly banter, they have some good dialogue that lets us know that Shinku is definitely in charge even though Davis seems less of a doofus in this issue. Marz gives us a cool issue, as Shinku infiltrates the head vampire's fortress (well, it's a building in the city that's heavily fortified) and slaughters her way into his inner sanctum ... but not for the reason you might think. The issue is full of blood and violence, but Marz manages to inject just enough humor into the script to make it lighter than you might expect.

Moder is amazing so far on this book - he does a marvelous job showing Shinku moving through the tower, and he doesn't spare the blood, either. The one humorous scene is laid out wonderfully, and he interprets Marz's frenetic script very well. The final scene, in which Shinku narrates a story about the samurai disciplining one of their own who has gone bad (back in the olden days, that is), is gorgeous - Atiyeh darkens the reds and Moder pulls off the "two guys rushing at each other with swords drawn and then running past each other" cliché very nicely. This is a fantastic book visually, and it's nice that everyone seems to be firing on all cylinders on this book. I mean, I'm only slightly annoyed by Troy Peteri's lettering!

Shinku is really good, in other words. I think I made that clear!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Starborn #8 by Chris Roberson (writer), Khary Randolph (artist), Matteo Scalera (artist), Mitch Gerads (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Right in the middle of this issue, there's a weird semi-crossover with Soldier Zero, one of the other Stan Lee comics from Boom! It's a strange cross-promotion, because so far, it hasn't seemed to have any connection to that other comic, and placing them in the same "universe" seems odd. I'm trying to figure out if Soldier Zero is the dude we saw at the end of the previous issue of Starborn, and I don't think it is. I could be wrong. I'll ask Chip Mosher next week, if he's not too busy wrestling a bear (because that's probably what the dude does for fun).

Other than that, this is another solid issue of Starborn, as Benjamin decides that he wants to return to Earth and his two companions have no choice but to obey because he's the emperor now, nyah-nyah! Of course, the non-human members of the galaxy have decided that just because one human ruled them all, all humans must be bad, so they decide to destroy the Earth. Man, that can't be good.

Roberson, Randolph, and Scalera continue to have a fun time with this book, and it shows. I can't say it's a great comic, but it's very entertaining. That's not a bad thing at all.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hellboy Library Edition volume 4 by Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, Joshua Dysart, Jason Shawn Alexander, P. Craig Russell, Dave Stewart, Lovern Kindzierski, Clem Robins, and Galen Showman. $49.99, 310 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Hey! It's the latest giant-sized Hellboy compendium! I love these things - I love the packaging, the giant artwork, and the big chunks of stories you get in them. Yes, I know I should buy all my comics this way. But if companies can't guarantee that they'll ever get around to it (damn it, where's the Absolute Young Heroes in Love, DC?), then I can't wait for them, can I?

The Homeland Directive by Robert Venditti (writer), Mike Huddleston (artist/colorist), and Sean Konot (letterer). $14.95, 148 pgs, FC, Top Shelf.

Venditti wrote The Surrogates, which, despite a rather weak movie (I mean, sure, Rosamund Pike was in it, but it still didn't work quite as well as I'd hoped), so he knows what he's doing with regard to conspiracy-driven stories, and Huddleston is, well, Huddleston, so this should be good. Huddleston's work on this isn't quite as insane as it is on Butcher Baker, but he's not being asked to be that insane, is he? This still looks very cool.

As you know, in my travels across the Internet, I often find odd things. This week, my attention was directed toward Black Milk clothing (which site was, as of 15 July 2011, was broken because of all the traffic directed toward it!), where you can buy clothes like this:

and this:

If you thought the creepiest thing in the world would be having Steve Buscemi's ugly mug staring out at the world from your dress, well, don't go to this site! Unfortunately, as it is down, you can't peruse the site for all the other cool stuff they have. I think the shark one is my favorite.

Speaking of clothing, I headed on down to the mall this week to pick up my DC-character sneakers at Journeys, because I'm susceptible to the advertising in comics recently. I don't love hightops, but I plan to look very good at the convention next week (I will provide photographic evidence!) and I thought I needed footwear for the finishing touch. I ended up getting the Joker sneakers, but I found it interesting that the Catwoman ones were the only ones not in hightops, and I wonder why. Is it because they thought only chicks would buy the Catwoman ones and chicks don't like hightops? The Catwoman ones are crazy cool, and I would have liked to see if they had my size, but they were way too small. Oh well. I dig the Joker ones!

Let's move on to The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. "Where Do the Children Go" - Hooters (1985) "We're going where no one can find us, and if there's a heaven we'll find it somehow"12. "Raise Your Hands" - Bon Jovi (1986) "Well now that we're together show me what you can do"3. "I Remember You" - Steve Earle (2002) "Do you still have dreams? Did they all come true?"4. "Heathaze" - Genesis (1980) "We shall lose the wonder and find nothing in return"5. "Ugly in the Morning" - Faith No More (1995) "You did one thing wrong - you woke up"6. "Blue Stockings" - Mary's Danish (1989) "Say there fine young thing, I hear you're selling your soul - you're sellin' it to Earl Scheib and he's gonna do it to you for $99.99 and that's just the way you like it"27. "Gold" - Prince (1995) "There ain't nowhere to go if you hang around"8. "Spoonman" - Soundgarden (1994) "All my friends are skeletons"9. "No More" - Streetwalkin' Cheetahs (2001) "Time and time I feel a blank sensation, waiting for the death of my generation"10. "Crack Hitler" - Faith No More (1992) "Got a gash on my head and a grin on my face and a shadow called danger"3

1 Yes, it's a Hooters song. Philadelphia represent, yo! This song references the Pied Piper, who has always and still does scare the shit out of me. There are several reasons for this. As you might recall, I spent four years living in Germany when I was young, and Germany, as much as I dig it, is an odd country, where you can believe freaky shit happened (and it had nothing to do with Nazism; I felt this before I ever heard of Nazis). The country has pockets of dense forests covering isolated mountains, and it's kind of scary for a youngster. The fact that the piper is "pied" is freaky, too. I know now that it means he wore multicolored clothes, but for years, I thought it meant he had dark blotches on his skin. Apparently some rabbits get blotches on their fur when they hibernate, and after I learned that nugget, I thought the Pied Piper had a weird skin tone. Then there's the fact that he plays his damned instrument and lures the children under a mountain, where they play forever but can never leave. That's just freaky. So, yeah. The Pied Piper of Hamelin is not one of my favorite stories. But I like that song.2 Remember Earl Scheib? The company went out of business just last year. I find that interesting.3 I honestly don't have that many Faith No More songs on my iPod, they just seem to come up a lot on Thursdays and Fridays. Last week I had one on this list, and that was the last one that played until these two. It's kind of weird.

Last week's Totally Random Movie Quote was from Once Were Warriors, one of the most gripping and brutal movies you will ever see. It's astonishing how good it is and it's depressing how far the director, Lee Tamahori, has fallen. This was his first feature, and then he came to the U.S. and has made a bunch of utterly forgettable action movies. And, of course, there was his bizarre arrest in 2006 for dressing like a woman and soliciting sex from an undercover cop. But that doesn't mean the movie isn't great! Here's this week's Quote:

"Personnel? That's for assholes!""I was in Personnel for ten years.""Yeah."

I'm off to San Diego on Saturday, so I'm taking another break next week. If anyone is going to San Diego, let me know and we'll say hello. I get to go for the whole week and my entire family is coming, which is nice because I don't have to spend hours and hours at the con and can come and go as I please, but I'll be around. I will, of course, have comprehensive coverage when I return! Have a nice weekend, everyone!

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The Buy Pile: A Week of "Meh"

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