What I bought - 14 November 2012

"You can't be a pure nation anymore, like the French and Germans used to be. At the stage of technology we have reached, nations work only if they float in the larger world. And what you have in this part of the world are fossilized nations, dead societies that have yet to revive. There are a group of young reformers in our parliament, educated in the West. But Georgians only want heroes. These reformers have never killed, they don't drink two liters of wine every evening, they don't fight, they have no mustaches or daggers, so they can't be heroes!" (Robert Kaplan, from Eastward to Tartary)

Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #4 (of 5) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

This latest Atomic Robo mini-series started off well but has floundered just a little in the last two issues, and I think it's because Clevinger has chosen to turn it into an action movie, and while there's nothing wrong with action movies, the charm of Atomic Robo has always been the banter between Robo and his co-stars, and while Clevinger gives him and the other characters some banter, it's not quite as good as in other series. Last issue, Robo got captured by the Japanese, and in this issue he tries to convince them to give up their villainous ways, but they're not having any of it. He tries to convince Takeshi, the main Japanese bad guy, that attacking the United States is suicidal, but because Takeshi isn't really a funny character, Robo's tone comes off a bit whining and desperate, and Takeshi resists any attempts to draw him in. The sequence when Robo gets rescued by the She-Devils is handled well, but I, personally, don't feel that Clevinger has done a good enough job developing them as characters - there are a lot of them, and they each get some screen time, but I just don't have as much of a connection to them as to other ancillary characters in other mini-series. Maybe that's just my problem, but I'm the one reviewing, aren't I? The issue is typically wonderful to look at - I'm still not completely used to Nick Filardi's coloring, which is softer than Ronda Pattison's - and the Japanese plan is diabolical and makes sense in a Bondian kind of way, but there's something off about this series, especially issues #3 and 4, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's because the tone of the book - a light-hearted adventure with a wisecracking main character - clashes a bit with the situation that the Japanese are in, as this takes place only 6 years after two of their cities were wiped from the face of the earth and they might be a bit testy about that, which gets into the whole idea of the Japanese themselves committing atrocities during the war and during their invasion of China, and such thoughts don't belong in Atomic Robo. I think that's part of it, but there's also the fact that this feels somehow too ... I don't know, action-movie-ish. No, I don't have to make sense. It's my review, man!

That's not to say that it's a bad comic, because it's perfectly fine. There are a lot better Atomic Robo comics, but when the bar is set so high, even something like this, that doesn't quite reach it, is still very pleasant to read. Robo's attempt to distract the guard is pretty funny, and Wegener draws some very nice action scenes. Something ain't right, though. I'll see how Clevinger wraps this whole thing up and then I'll ponder it some more. Won't that be fun?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Elephantmen #44 ("Sleeping Partners Part Three: The Three Kinds of Treasure") by Richard Starkings (writer), Axel Medellin (artist/colorist), and Dave Sim (artist). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, Image.

Starkings is using this story arc to examine the relationships between the various characters, as it's been announced that Sahara - a human - is pregnant with Obadiah Horn's - an elephantman - baby, and although they've been together for years, now that she's having a child, the anti-elephantmen people are out in force. Starkings isn't being too subtle about this - he even names an angry reverend "Perry Falwell" - but it's still an interesting arc. As always, it reflects on our own society, and Starkings does show that two hundred years from now, the mainstream isn't too put out by this, but there will always be extremists, and they will always drive the social agenda to a degree. The other relationships in the book - Hip and Miki, Vanity and Ebony - get a bit of time, too, as Hip falls into the same trap male characters always seem to fall into - they don't spend enough time with their women! So we get three relationships at different stages playing out, which makes this, as always, an impressive book.

Starkings also writes a bit about the greater plot, as Trench has a dream about bad things happening in New York, and Starkings ties it back into this idea that someone is activating the hybrids when they want to. Starkings never forgets his larger plots and he never forgets to focus on the characters, which is why Elephantmen is such a dense read every time out. Medellin, meanwhile, continues to get better. When Trench talks about the war and we get a flashback, Medellin's lines are much rougher than usual, giving us both a sense of a different time but also a horrific circumstance, and the scene between Alto and Miki at the end of the issue is really good, with Miki's face on the final page a beautiful mix of anticipation, regret, and nervousness. I'm not sure how the two of them didn't see Hip standing not far off - he's a giant hippopotamus man, for crying out loud! - but it's still a wonderfully drawn scene.

Much like a lot of books I really like, it's hard to write about this. It's Elephantmen, and it's really good. What more do you need to know?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fantastic Four #1 ("Unstable") by Matt Fraction (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Paul Mounts (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley take over Fantastic Four in the Marvel NOW! Universe, and the results are ... a Fantastic Four comic. I mean, there's nothing really new going on here, it's simply a new creative team giving us a comic in which old characters do some stuff. It's not horrible, but it's not terribly memorable, either. Fraction does begin the book with a full-page splash showing the team going through Ye Olde Kosmick Rayes with the caption "One year from now:", but then he has to get to that point, doesn't he? It turns out that Reed has figured out that his powers are failing and that he's "breaking apart, at a molecular level." So, he presumes, are the others in his little band. That's the hook of this story.

Now, because this is a 2012 comic full of stupid people, does Reed:

A) Tell his family everything and tell them they need to be tested and then they can figure something out because he, you know, trusts them;

B) Hide this fact from his family and decide to take his entire family - children included - on an extra-dimensional journey for a year, hoping he can find the cure himself without anyone knowing?

Well, if you've ever read a comic or watched a television show or seen a movie before, you know the answer is B. I mean, Reed couldn't just tell the people with whom he's shared much of his adult life and who have had far worse things happen to them and one of whom is the mother of his children the motherfucking truth, could he? I mean, that would be crazy! It's not like hiding facts from his family has ever gone horribly, horribly, HORRIBLY wrong for Reed, has it? Jeebus.

So Terrible Parents Reed and Sue, who designed terrifying "mombots" to "comfort" Franklin while they were off fighting dinosaurs (what kind of an idiot thinks robots with female faces clanking along on treads will comfort a child under 10 who's woken up from a nightmare?), think that taking the kids on a cross-dimensional jaunt is a smart idea. I mean, it might be if Reed didn't have plenty of life experience telling him that flying around in other dimensions is almost as stupid as living in New York in the Marvel Universe, but he does, so it's not. Oh, and Franklin telling his mom that he doesn't want to go into space and looking really worried about it? Yeah, if only our kid was super-powerful and was always saying weird, cryptic shit that turned out to be prophetic and really, really, bad for all concerned. Oh wait. Does Sue say anything to Reed? Let's play multiple choice again! Does she:

A) Discuss this with her life partner, the father of her children, because they're both adults and they always, ALWAYS want what's best for their children, like, you know, responsible parents;

B) Bite her lip furtively, remembering Franklin's words clearly, unwilling to challenge Reed's unquestioned dominance of the pack because Reed is an abusive husband and Sue, for all her toughness, is terrified of him and just wants to keep him calm and happy?

Of course it's B! Sue and Reed NEVER think of their children first. That's just laughable. Even Reed's statement about Franklin being upset that they weren't around and that he doesn't want to be gone anymore is just bullshit, as we already know. So, yeah.

Plus, a LOT of this book is filler. We get the opening splash page - okay, it's fine, but it's still a splash page that doesn't give us too much information. Reed spends two pages figuring out his condition, the final one of which is ... another goddamned splash page, this one of REED STANDING IN FRONT OF COMPUTER SCREENS LOOKING SAD. Yes, really. Johnny spends two pages telling some purple-haired chippie how wonderful she is, and I imagine the whole point of that is so when he's off in another dimension, she'll call him and he won't be able to see her. DRAMA! Ben spends three pages getting filmed in an embarrassing situation by the Yancy Street Gang, who posts his embarrassment on YouTube (well, NewToob, but you get the drift). I guess every new writer of the book needs to show how vapid Johnny is, how Ben is victimized by the Yancy Street Gang (I thought that had been Johnny all those years?) and how Reed is focused on work. We already know all that shit, though, so Fraction could have gotten to the point just a little sooner. I'm just sayin'.

You know what, I take it back. This is a terrible comic. Blech. I will say that Mark Farmer inking Mark Bagley is a fine idea. Bagley's pencils have gotten looser and looser over the years, presumably so he can keep up his impressive schedule, and Farmer adds some needed heft to his lines. There's actual definition in faces, unlike the blankness that Bagley can often put in his characters, and it appears that Farmer adds enough to give Bagley's characters more emotions than happiness and sadness, which Bagley usually shows by making them smile or by pointing their lips downward. You may think I hate Bagley's art, but I don't - I've just noticed that in recent years, he seems to be getting a bit sloppy, and the inking (and, I assume, Mounts' coloring, which is pretty strong) help make Bagley a bit more like Alan Davis (Farmer and Mounts often work with Davis). Anything that makes art look more like Alan Davis' is all right with me, I say!

So, yeah. This is a lousy comic book. It's ridiculous if you think about it for more than a minute (which, obviously, Marvel hopes you don't), and even if you buy the stupidity of the Richards clan, it's still very paint-by-numbers. Oh well. There are other, better Marvel NOW! books to get to below!

(As pointed out here, Fraction even gets the whole "unstable molecules" thing wrong. Plus, of course, dinosaurs had died out long before 2.66 million years ago. So Fraction got two pretty major things wrong, and then the famed Marvel "editors" got their hands on the issue and missed both of them - look, I hate - honestly, HATE - picking on editors who toil on comics and don't even get to go to conventions and get adored by the fanbase for their labor, but the unstable molecules seems to be a fundamental part of the Fantastic Four, and the other mistake is just sloppy, so perhaps you shouldn't miss them. I mean, really.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Massive #6 ("Black Pacific Part Three of Three: Micronesia") by Brian Wood (writer), Garry Brown (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $3.50, 25 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

The Massive #6 is pretty good, mainly because it focuses on Mag, who's pretty interesting, and he gets to go be bad-ass while pirating another ship. Wood is good at this kind of thing - a morally ambiguous story in which people are forced to make hard choices and none of them are really correct. Mag is supposed to go onto a seemingly abandoned ship and find food, and Cal tells him if he encounters anyone, he's to leave without conflict. So of course he encounters someone, and of course there's conflict. But it's not the encounter we think it will be, and doesn't Mag get what Cal and his crew need?

The issue is also about how Mag grows as a person over the years. Wood flashes back to various points in his life, both before he met Cal and when he worked with Cal, and while we know where it's going, it's still a nice progression. As I've mentioned before, whenever Wood doesn't write about the "Crash," the book is pretty good. When he does, it goes off the rails a bit. This issue is about Mag and a crew member on a mission and about how Mag decided not to be a killer anymore, so it's a good issue. Simple!

I should point out that although Wood keeps the rhetoric confined to Cal's notes in the back of the book, he does write that "The United States was disproportionately the biggest polluter in the world" before the Crash. Once again, I don't want to defend my country too much because it has a lot of problems, but I don't understand that statement. A quick Google search tells me that China recently overtook the U.S. has the worst polluter in terms of carbon emissions, with Russia and India far behind but India, at least, coming up fast. Weirdly, Australia was the worst polluter in terms of per capita carbon emissions. Like I've said before, I don't want to let the U.S. off the hook, but there are a lot of countries in the world polluting the shit out of the world, and why Cal (or Wood) keeps picking on one of them is beyond me. Maybe we should know better? Sure, but these days, everyone should know better.

Anyway, The Massive has finished six issues, which is usually when I decide if I'm going to keep buying something or not. I haven't made up my mind, unfortunately. Just when I think the title has turned a corner and we can get post-Crash stories instead of rehashing the Crash, we get another issue that reminds me of the silliness of the Crash, and that's not good. So I'm still on board for now, and I'll keep my fingers crossed that we're ready to move forward now!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Mind MGMT #0 by Matt Kindt (writer/artist). $2.99, 26 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Kindt gives us a zero issue, which makes me wonder if these stories appeared on-line somewhere first, but I don't care, because it's another fine issue of this oddball series. Kindt fills in the world of Mind Management just a bit, as Meru, our heroine, talks to some people who are connected to the organization. The first one is about an enemy agent code-named "Bear" who is supposed to kill Harry Lyme but fails spectacularly. Still, it's a nice little story with a certain compelling inevitability to it. The second one is about Meru's first book, the one that put her on the map, which turns out to be related to Mind Management too. What this story does is show how well Kindt plots, because he hasn't written very much about Meru's first book and lazy readers (like me) could have thought mentioning her first book was just a way to show that she is actually a published author, so her quixotic quest for the second book doesn't seem too crazy. But now it's tied into organization, so there you have it. Finally, there's a story about how widespread and influential Mind Management is, something we already knew but which is nice to see. We've seen so many stories about a long-running organization influencing world affairs for centuries or millennia, so what Kindt is doing isn't original, but as usual, it's all about how you tell the story, and Kindt knows how to tell a story. The nice thing about this comic is that it's not just a secret organization directing events from behind the scenes, it's an organization that changes reality, which makes it more interesting. It's nice to get a bit more information about this world before we jump into the second story arc.

As with some other comics that have launched this year (two of which appear in this very column!), I'm not totally in love with Mind MGMT yet, but it's still a pretty keen book. Get the trade or find the single issues - I don't think you'll be sorry!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Point of Impact #2 (of 4) by Jay Faerber (writer), Koray Kuranel (artist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, BW, Image.

Either you've committed to this series or you're waiting for the trade, and if the first issue was intriguing enough for you, I imagine you're on board for all four issues. The series isn't long enough even to make it worthwhile to drop if you're not happy with a single issue (unless it's the first one, of course), because why wouldn't you stick with it? Basically, I'm saying that after issue #1, there's no point in really "reviewing" issues 2 and 3 - they'll move the story along, giving us some more information, and then, in issue #4, everything will (we hope) come together. I'll summarize: The cops track down Nicole's lover, but he runs for it and eludes them. Mitch tells his boss he's working on the story even though his boss thinks it's a bad idea. Mitch finds out that Nicole was having an affair (her sister tells him). Nicole's lover sees the men who are following Mitch and decides to follow them, and he finds out where they work. All done! It's kind of review-proof at this point - we've seen the inciting event, we have a good idea of all the players, and now it's a case of hoping Faerber pulls it all together by the end. I think he will, because I've been reading Faerber's Image books for over a decade, but he might not!

Oh, and Kuranel's black and white art is still pretty keen. Good choice to do this without colors!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Saga #7 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (artist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Saga is back after a short (scheduled) break, and this is probably the best issue yet. There are still issues with the writing, but Vaughan seems to be finding his footing with regard to the characters, which is nice. I still don't buy some of the things our characters do, and Vaughan falls into the trap of giving us a totally false cliffhanger - we know nothing is going to happen to Hazel, so why even imply she's in jeopardy? - but the story is taking shape, slowly, and that's nice. This might be the first issue where I didn't keep thinking that Vaughan was writing regular humans talking and then Staples was drawing horns or wings on them - the dialogue actually sounded like it was these people saying things based on what we know about them rather than Vaughan just trying to write clever dialogue. If that makes sense. If it doesn't ... well, too bad. I've noticed this a lot in Vaughan's writing - he writes dialogue that sounds like it's in the book because it's "clever," not because it's something the characters would actually say. In this issue, anything remotely clever (like the panel below) actually comes from the situation the characters are in, not because Vaughan thought it was bon mot that he just couldn't lose. Editing sucks, people, but it needs to be done! Anyway, Marko goes off to find Izabel, and his mom tags along, while Alana gets acquainted with her father-in-law. No good can come of either situation, and it doesn't. Vaughan also gives us some of Marko's background, and it's clichéd but effective - a real "those bastards killed everyone we love and if you don't hate them as much as we do, you're dead to us" kind of thing that you see in movies with Irish characters in them. So there's that.

I mentioned in issue #6 that Staples was, weirdly enough, getting better with the backgrounds even though she needed time to catch up, and that continues here. The backgrounds, which were pretty weak when this book began, are much better, so either Staples is getting a lot better at them or she's a bit rushed and doesn't have time to tinker with them (occasionally tinkering with things makes them worse, not better). Either way, her figure work is still very good, and the characters seem much more integrated into the backgrounds, which aren't as ethereal as they were in the first few issues. I'm not sure what the deal is with the giant, and maybe I'm just getting old, but really? I guess we're supposed to chuckle, and I guess I did, but really? Whatever. Staples is very good with body language and expressions, so when Alana talks to Marko's dad, Staples does a very good job making Vaughan's dialogue even more powerful.

I'm glad that Saga is getting some good press and hype, because it's always nice when non-superhero stuff gets some press. It's also nice that it's beginning to live up to the hype a bit, as Vaughan and Staples settle in and start doing some nice work. Let's hope they keep it up!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Think Tank #4 by Matt Hawkins (writer), Rahsan Ekedal (artist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). $3.99, 21 pgs, BW, Image/Top Cow.

SPOILERS!!!!! SPOILERS!!!!! I'm not kidding here!!!!! But I'll write about the art a bit before I get to the SPOILERS, so you can turn away if you want.

Ekedal continues to do a very nice job with this book, as this is a long chase scene (not a terribly fast one, as David and Mirra are escaping in a golf cart) during which Ekedal needs to keep track of a lot of moving parts, and he does a fine job. He has to draw convincing technology, and his effects - like when David puts on a "chameleon" suit - are quite nice. He draws David as a impish, immature "frat boy" (as Mirra calls him), but still oozing with charm, which he needs so we don't think he's a complete douchebag. For the past few years, Ekedal has been doing wonderful work in black and white, and I hope his art has improved enough that coloring won't hurt it, like I think it did when I last saw his artwork colored. It seemed to be overwhelmed a bit by the coloring, but I think he's improved enough now that it wouldn't. I have a feeling he'll be moving up in the world.

And then there's the story. I still like this comic, but (SPOILERS) at the end (SPOILERS), Hawkins does something stupid ... he adheres to Pop Culture Rule #1. I thought for so long that he would resist it, to the point where I hadn't even considered it after the first issue, but then, on the last page ... dang. If you don't know what my Pop Culture Rule #1 is, you haven't read my posts before, but that's good because you won't get spoiled by this, but those of you who do know ... well, sorry. I was really hoping Hawkins wouldn't succumb, but because he did, the second arc's ... arc kind of opens up, because you can see the signposts. Again, I don't want to give too much away, but we've seen the movie before, when a man and a woman are on the lam from the Feds, and because of the last page, we can kind of figure out what's going to happen. I really hope Hawkins resolves things differently (and without killing anyone), but I fear. I fear, ladies and gentlemen.

I'm still getting issue #5 and subsequent issues, because I like how Hawkins is writing this with regard to David and his genius outsmarting everyone. This was a well plotted arc, and I imagine the next one will be more of the same. Still ... I'm worried.

Man, Pop Culture Rule #1 sucks. I wish it weren't a rule!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Thor: God of Thunder #1 ("The God Butcher Part One of Five: A World Without Gods") by Jason Aaron (writer), Esad Ribic (artist), Dean White (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $3.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

Based on the title of this comic and the title of the actual arc and the title of the story in this issue, I wonder if this comic is about gods? I'm really struggling with this.

Aaron, from what little I know about him, seems like a perfect writer for Thor. He has the giant beard, he loves soldiers, and he seems aggressively masculine - not in any negative way, but in an awesome way, like he can kick my ass just by looking at me and he makes any woman within a 50-foot radius get weak in the knees. So now he's on Thor, and he writes us a comic in which Thor gets all sorts of women weak in the knees, answers prayers, and faces down a horde of monsters all by his lonesome. BECAUSE HE'S MOTHERFUCKING THOR! Aaron is telling stories in three different time periods - we begin in A.D. 893, move to the present (but on a far-off planet), and then end up in the far future, when Thor is king but he's alone because everyone else is dead. Aaron, I guess plans to write the entire arc this way, which is pretty neat. In each time period, he's fighting something called the "god butcher," who is not an immortal being who sells meat at reasonable prices but something that actually carves up gods. In the first part, Thor and his cronies find a god who has been, well, butchered. In the present, Thor discovers that a planet has no gods, and he finds out that it's because they've all been killed. In the future, the God Butcher has come for him. It's all very exciting! Thor commits a cardinal sin of horror movies - never unlock anything! - but I guess he doesn't know yet that he's in a horror movie, or maybe, being Asgardian, he's never seen a horror movie, but it's still an exciting issue.

The real coup for this comic, however, is that Marvel slotted Dean White into the colorist's position. Is White still working on Uncanny X-Force, and is he double-dipping? I don't know - I read UX-F in trades, so I haven't reached the "Otherworld" arc yet. But White is on this book, so I imagine that in three issues, when Ribic simply can't draw any more without soaking his hand in ice for two months, whoever fills in will get the "Dean White" treatment and the art won't look too different. Have you people realized yet that Frank D'Armata might be the most significant person in comics in this century? Without D'Armata bludgeoning the quirks out of several artists' work on Captain America so they all looked alike, Marvel might never have realized that they could get artists to pencil stuff without inking it and then turn it over to a colorist who can keep artistic consistency no matter who was drawing it! It's a revelation! Look, Dean White is a good colorist, and while this book is a bit dark, it's still beautiful. But with Marvel books, I no longer know if that's because the artist is good or because the colorist is. Ribic is a fine artist, but when he has to take a nap after three issues because drawing is so hard, will Marvel call Mark Brooks and will Dean White make him look like Ribic? And if he does, should we credit Ribic's nice work or should we simply appreciate Dean White and bow down in the Temple of D'Armata, the Great Trailblazer? After years of this, I don't even know if it matters who's drawing the book, as long as the colorist is good. I don't know how I feel about that.

Still, Thor is good. Check it out!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Where Is Jake Ellis? #1 (of 5) by Nathan Edmondson (writer) and Tonci Zonjic (artist). $3.50, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

Edmondson and Zonjic return with their spy series, as it changes titles (since we found out who Jake Ellis was last time) and we get more "man on the run" grooviness! I thought the book should have ended on Page 1, Panel 1, because after reading the title of the book, we open it and the first panel reads "Bangkok" (well, after a few recap pages), and I thought that would be funny to end right there. It turns out that Jake Ellis is not in Bangkok, but Jon Moore, the dude who kept seeing Jake in the previous series, is hanging out in Thailand. Jake, meanwhile, is sedated in a hospital in Maryland. Someone wants them both dead, so once that happens, the entire issue is both of them trying to escape. It's on!

Edmondson does a nice job keeping everything moving, and Zonjic's solid and relatively simple line work helps him out nicely, as there's just not a lot of clutter in this issue (or series). It zips along at a good clip, and it's exciting and fun. Edmondson gives Jon a female to protect - an embassy worker who happened to get caught in the middle - while Jake is bummed because his wife has remarried. So sad! I imagine Female Embassy Worker will, at some point, have to stitch Jon up from a wound, and she'll look into his soulful eyes as she's tenderly sewing him back together, and then there will be a tasteful fade to black ... but I hope I'm wrong. Come on, Edmondson, resist!

I liked the first series, and this is a fun first issue of the sequel. So there's that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

X-Men Legacy #1 ("Prodigal") by Simon Spurrier (writer), Tan Eng Huat (penciler), Craig Yeung (inker), José Villarrubia (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

Our third Marvel NOW! comic this week is the new X-book focusing solely on Legion, which sounds like an utter clusterfuck but, it turns out, is pretty cool. I assume it's been established long ago that David Haller now has more than three personalities banging around his head, but if it hasn't been, Spurrier does it - Legion is truly Legion, with all sorts of weird personalities, including aliens, in his mind. On the one hand, I assume this is to make Spurrier's plot - that the personalities manage to get out of the "prison" that David is keeping them in - more interesting, but I'm not sure how I feel about it otherwise. I mean, David had three personalities originally, and they each had a different superpower. But they were human personalities. This idea of a bunch of different weird beasties inside David's head makes me think of Crazy Jane and Rogue, two characters who are far more interesting than Legion. There have been stories about Rogue in which everyone she's touched have taken over her mind, and since she touches a lot of weird creatures, it made sense that there would be aliens and other strange things in there. But why would David's mind create Tyrranix the Abominoid? Is it just so Spurrier can come up names like "Tyrranix the Abominoid" and so Huat can draw weird shit? Again, I don't know if this is new or if Spurrier is just going off of what others have already done with Legion. It seems odd, though.

I'm not going to worry too much about it, though. I mean, it's a comic book. Spurrier begins the book inside David's mind and even though anyone with a passing knowledge of the character can probably figure it out, he does keep us in suspense for a while, until David loses control of his mind prison and his personalities break out. That can't be good. Meanwhile, in the "real" world, David is spending time in the Himalayas, trying to control his insanity. Bad things happen, something creepy occurs at the Jean Grey school, and David, apparently, is going to be visited by some X-People soon enough. So there's that.

I've liked Huat's art for years, but this might be the best it's ever been. I think I first saw it when he worked on Doom Patrol, and it was pretty good but a bit too stiff. His work on Ghost Rider was good, too, but I think he was being colored directly from pencils, and it smoothed out some of his quirks. Here, he's inked well by Yeung, who keeps his work grounded, while Huat's been able, over the years, to keep his quirky style but soften it a bit. They, in turn, are assisted by Villarrubia's beautiful coloring, which is toned down in the "real" world - except when David uses his powers - and much brighter - almost lurid - inside David's mind. It's a very nice-looking book, which goes well with Spurrier's slighty askew script.

I don't have any idea what kind of plot Spurrier is going for - there's a lot going on in this issue - but it's a pretty good first issue. I'm as surprised as anyone!

(I will say that I'm still seriously annoyed by Legion's hair and the metatextual aspect that has been attached to it. David, in introducing himself, even mentions that his hair "resists all attempts at restyling" - it's become a joke in the Marvel Universe, and it's silly. The reason Legion's hair was even goofy in the first place is because Bill Sienkiewicz drew him that way, and it fit in well with Sienkiewicz's hyper-stylized artwork. When artists who don't draw everything as insane as Sienkiewicz draws things, the hair just looks stupid. I wish some artist would shave his head or something, because it's distracting.)

(I'm sure some people can not only identify all the characters on the cover, but which comics the drawings come from. The characters are fairly easy - Wolverine, Cable, Xavier - I assume, although that's the hardest one - and Magneto. The Wolverine face comes from the Claremont/Miller mini-series, and Magneto is from X-Men #1. Does anyone know where the other two are from? Cable doesn't appear to be from New Mutants #87 or X-Force #1, which are probably his two most famous covers. But I can't figure it out.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Zaucer of Zilk #2 (of 2) by Al Ewing (story/scripter), Brendan McCarthy (story/artist/colorist), Len O'Grady (colorist), and Ellie De Ville (letterer). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, IDW.

McCarthy and Ewing's oddball epic comes to a close, and it has to be one of the best comics of the year based solely on how gorgeous the artwork is and how weird the concept is. The story is perfectly fine - the Zaucer has to rescue the girl who got trapped in a world of despair, but he can't, so he comes up with a different solution - and the moral of the story is fine, too, but it's McCarthy's hallucinogenic artwork that pushes this into genius category. His design work, his imagination, and his (and Len O'Grady's) coloring all make this book a pleasure to gaze upon. It's certainly fun to read, because Ewing is also quite good, but it wouldn't work as well without McCarthy on art. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

City in the Desert volume 1: The Monster Problem by Moro Rogers (writer/artist) and Deron Bennett (letterer). $24.95, 141 pgs, BrW, Archaia.

This is a first volume, which is always annoying (I don't know how many volumes Rogers has planned), but it looks pretty keen. It's also Rogers' first comic. Good for her!

Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham (writer), Jim Fern (layouter/penciller/inker), Craig Hamilton (penciller/inker), Ray Snyder (inker), Mark Farmer (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $22.99, 139 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

This is thirteen months late. Well, I guess it's good it finally came out! It looks very purty.

Inferno: A Sleep and a Forgetting by Mike Carey (writer), Michael Gaydos (artist), and Nathan Pride (letterer). $14.99, 133 pgs, BW, Transfuzion Publishing.

This is a Caliber comic from 1996, with both Carey and Gaydos honing their craft. I've read a few of these old Caliber comics that Gary Reed is reprinting over the past few years, and they're usually pretty good. I have my fingers crossed for this one!

Lobster Johnson volume 2: The Burning Hand by Mike Mignola (story), John Arcudi (story), Tonci Zonjic (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer). $17.99, 110 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

You know, just when you think you can't get any more Tonci Zonjic art, along comes a new issue and a collection featuring Tonci Zonjic art! How about that?

Opus: The Complete Library by Berkeley Breathed (writer/artist). $39.99, 268 pgs, FC, IDW/Library of American Comics.

These hardcover volumes that IDW puts out are really nice. I should get more titles from this collection.

By the way, I didn't get the Bendis/Immonen All New X-Men. My retailer didn't get it. Either Diamond screwed up or UPS screwed up, but he's not getting them until next week. So yeah, everyone in the world will have read it by then. I don't care - my mission to read every new Marvel NOW! book will continue!!!


I don't have much to pontificate about this week, but I do find the "secession" movement among some states rather humorous. Does Alabama really want to become its own country? Really, Alabama? As Dana Milbank points out, a lot of the states who have the most signatures on these secession petitions take in far more federal money than they put in with taxes. Maybe they want to rethink that tactic.

Anyway, next week is American Thanksgiving (Canadians already had theirs), and so let's celebrate with Joey Tribbiani's best food-related lines. I know Friends gets a lot of flack, but damn, it had some funny stuff in it. Yes, Ross and Rachel should have fallen into a bottomless pit at some point, but it was really funny more often than not.

Sonia can post her own pictures of cosplayers, while I simply link to hot girls in costumes. Such is life.

I don't know if anyone out there knows who Danger Guerrero is, but he's one of the funniest writers on the Internet that I've read in a long time. He's a Philly guy, so he writes for Zoo With Roy, (where he writes the brilliant "Phillies High School" posts), he also writes for the television blog I link to quite often. Now he has broken down Journey's "Separate Ways" video, and if you don't almost pee yourself laughing, I fear you might not have a soul.

I guess the big news in finance is that Hostess is going out of business. I mean, it's big news to me! First of all, post-apocalyptic movies from now on will have to have their characters find different unaffected foodstuffs, because Twinkies will slowly dwindle until they won't survive a nuclear war/environmental disaster/zombie plague anymore. We'll have eaten them all! Second, if Marvel and DC had even the smallest shred of a sense of humor, they would have a "Hostess Month" coming up in 2013 where they would homage the old Fruit Pies advertisements in some way in every single one of their books. They don't, so they won't, but that would be awesome. Come on, Danny D. and Joey Q. - you love/hate everything else from the 1970s (Danny D. loved the Super Friends so much he allowed Sean McKeever to use them in DC continuity ... and then McKeever quickly slaughtered Marvin), so why not the Hostess Fruit Pies adverts?

Occasionally in the past, I have written about how awesome my lovely bride is and what a good couple we are, and one reason is because we make each other laugh. So this week we were watching The Mentalist (yes, we really were) and Ted McGinley was a guest star. McGinley is, of course, famous for "killing shows" - he tends to show up when ratings are spiraling down the toilet anyway, but because he's been on a number of shows that have died soon after he arrived, a famed "curse of Ted McGinley" trope has sprung up (apparently McGinley even jokes about it). He was only a guest star last week, but of course I said something about the "show killer" guest-starring. My lovely wife wondered if the cast avoids eye contact with McGinley when he's on set, and I said that I'd embrace it - I'd have baseball caps and T-shirts made with "SHOW KILLER" written on them. That last line made my wife almost spit up her soda. Then, we were watching Once Upon a Time (yes, we really were), and the kid - Henry - was dreaming about being in a room that was on fire. The camera panned up and you could see that he was standing on a white floor that was broken into a grid pattern. It looked strangely like this except it was all white. I was about to make a joke when Krys said, "Hey, he's just in a disco inferno," and I laughed and said, "I was just going to say that he was just burning that disco out." We're totally on the same wave length, and that's one reason why we've been happy for so long. You know you've found the right person when you can have conversations like this (about, let's say, an actress):

She: Hey, isn't that --?Me: Yeah, from that show.She: Oh, yeah, that one.

It's like we're telepathic!!!!

That's all I have for this week, so let's move on the Ten Most Recent Songs on my iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle):

1. "Cable TV" - "Weird" Al Yankovic (1985) "They're just jealous 'cause I've seen Porky's twenty-seven times this week"2. "Love" - The Cult (1985) "Spent a long time in the wrong road"3. "Cover My Eyes" - Marillion (1991) "She's like the girl with the smile in the hospital ward, like the girl in the novel in the wind on the moors"4. "Christmas Wrapping" - Waitresses (1981) "Couldn't agree when we were both free, we tried, we said we'd keep in touch"5. "Fields of Joy" - Lenny Kravitz (1991) "All cities, mountains disappear from view, all truth and beauty near to me and you"6. "Ooh La La" - Faces (1973) "You'll have to learn, just like me, and that's the hardest way"17. "Seeing Other People" - Belle and Sebastian (1996) "You're kissing your elbow, you're kissing your reflection - and you can't understand why all the other boys are going for the new, tall, elegant rich kids"8. "I Am the City" - ABBA (1982) "They're grabbing pieces of the fatted calf, and in the wind if you listen hard, you'll hear me laugh"9. "Two Suns in the Sunset" - Pink Floyd (1982) "And you'll never hear their voices, and you'll never see their faces, you have no recourse to the law anymore"210. "Sally MacLennane" - Pogues (1985) "I'm sad to say I must be on my way, so buy me beer and whiskey 'cause I'm going far away"3

1 This is on the Rushmore soundtrack, from which I put it on my iPod. Rushmore is a great movie, and the ending scene, over which this song plays, is one of those perfect movie scenes. It's really wonderful.

2 The Final Cut: Best Pink Floyd album ever? Discuss.

3 Odd group of songs. Three from 1985, none from more recent than 1996. I mean, I know I'm old, but I do have some modern music on my iPod!

And yes, I won't forget the Totally Random Lyrics!

"Backwards and home bound The pigeon the dove Gone with the wind and the rain on an airplane Owning a home with no silver spoon I'm drinking champagne like a big tycoon Sooner than wait for a break in the weather I'll gather my far flung thoughts together Speeding away on a wind to a new day If you're alone I'll come home"

Another week, another fun bunch of comics. I hope it's groovy where you are - we're finally into our nice weather, which means the windows are open and the breezes feel grand! Have a nice weekend, everyone!

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