What I bought - 17 August 2011

dearest abbie who told me that in a sick society a symbol will always become a commodity (Tommy Trantino, from Lock the Lock)

All Nighter #3 (of 5) ("Stealing Boyfriends") by David Hahn (writer/artist) and Aditya Bidikar (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, BW, Image.

Hahn's oddball comic continues, as Martha's revelation from last issue is laughed away (but will no doubt be a big part of the climax of the book, as Martha is still a bit weird) and Kit does her thing. Which in this issue means stealing a boy from a friend and housemate. I like how Hahn is making Kit a well-rounded person, which means she does some stupid things as well as endear herself to the reader, but stealing a friend's boyfriend is kind of low, isn't it? It made me think of several things, mainly dealing with the difference between men and women. Yes, I'm going there. She narrates: "I've yet to come up with a code that will allow me to get physical with someone else's guy. In the meantime, I can do any number of other incredibly inappropriate activities. Shut up, I know it's still wrong." Now, we shouldn't let Jim off the hook - he's messing around behind Donna's back. But he's not betraying a friendship, either, and Kit made the first move on him, after all. I just wonder if there's a "chick code" like there is a "dude code" - the dude code, of course, being that you don't steal your friend's girl (no matter how often that happens, it's still part of the code, dude!). I get the impression that stealing a friend's boyfriend isn't as frowned on by women as stealing a friend's girl is by guys. Am I wrong? I often am, so feel free to tell me. It reminded me of this past week's episode to True Blood*, in which Jessica dumped Hoyt because she was all hot and bothered for Jason, but Jason rightfully didn't want have anything to do with her because Hoyt is his best friend even though he really, really wants to (because, well, duh). (I know I recently wrote about Superboy making a joke about someone - refresh my memory - dating Cassie because Conner used to date her, but the other dude wasn't stealing Cassie from Conner, so that's the difference). Do women operate the same way? A small sample size of anecdotal evidence from my college years suggest otherwise. I have actually heard two women say that if a friend of theirs can't "keep their man," then he's fair game. Man, that's harsh.

It also reminded me of the latest podcast Kelly, Sue, and Maddy recorded, with their guest stars from Geek Girl Con. Ms. McGillivray and Ms. Stuller mentioned that they have a panel scheduled that deals with how women "can put aside being negatively competitive, divisive, and catty to our sister Geek Girls." I almost choked on my pretzels when I heard that (even though I wasn't actually eating pretzels). I asked my lovely wife if women really need to learn how not to be negatively competitive, divisive, and catty to each other, and she said they did. Wow. Couldn't the panel just be Special Guest Gail Simone (or Special Guest Hope Larson, or one of the other Special Guests) standing up and saying, "Yeah, don't be bitches to each other." That's how dudes would do it. I don't mean to be dismissive of women in general or the Geek Girls in particular, because as Kelly said during the podcast, she had to learn how not to get along with other women, so apparently it's an issue, but I just never knew how bad it was. I mean, men are far from perfect, don't get me wrong, but guys don't need panels to explain to us that you shouldn't be dicks to each other. Or maybe we do, and I'm just naïve.

Oh, this comic. Right. It's still good. Hahn's art is superb. It features a bulimic pumpkin (dude humor) and a Single White Female reference. So there!

* Yes, I know. My wife loves the books and likes the series, and I like spending time with my wife, so I watch the show. I really liked the first season, thought the second one was pretty decent, and thought the third was absolutely ridiculous. I'm cautiously optimistic about the way the fourth is playing out, although they could still kill off Tara and Sam and I wouldn't have a problem with it. The Sookie and Eric thing is by far the dullest part of the show, and when Anna Paquin's breasts can't keep me interested, you have a problem. But yes, I do watch it and I enjoy it, for the most part, even though Game of Thrones has raised the bar for HBO shows so much I fear for even far better shows than True Blood, like Boardwalk Empire. Can you imagine if Deadwood was still on the air? If it and Game of Thrones were on back-to-back, I wouldn't be able to watch television the rest of the year.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Avengers Academy #18 ("Bad Guys") by Christos Gage (writer), Andrea di Vito (artist), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I honestly can't get enough of Absorbing Man and Titania, the Love Story of the Ages. Those two kids are just so neat together, taking time out from slaughtering teenagers to make out, hating Hank Pym with the white-hot passion of a thousands suns, terrorizing the Microverse, throwing hammers through dinosaurs and inflicting psychological trauma on kids. How can you not love them? Soon, I know, Gage will inexplicably have a bunch of rookies defeat them and we'll have to go back to focusing on stupid Mettle and Hazmat and Finesse and their stupid "Oh, we're destined to be bad guys and we can't touch anyone and we're sociopaths" problems, and we won't get any more adventures of the Bonnie and Clyde of the 21st century, but a guy can hope, can't he? Stupid kids and their stupid issues.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Cyclops #6 (of eight) ("The Rebel Part Two") by Matz (writer/translator), Gaël de Mayere (artist), Edward Gauvin (translator), and Marshall Dillon (letterer). $3.95, 24 pgs, FC, Archaia.

De Mayere settles in a bit more as the artist on the book, and even though he's not as good as Jacamon, he's acceptable as a replacement. In this issue, Doug Pistoia and his cronies make their break from the multinational corporation that has been sponsoring the wars in order to make money, and the final two issues will presumably be about Doug's efforts to destroy them. I've decided to enjoy the comic for what it is - a fairly standard thriller - rather than for what it could have been and seemed to be, which was a vicious satire of our society's desire for violence. That was hinted at early on in the book, but now it seems Matz is paying a bit of lip service to it but focusing far more on the rebellion, and that's fine. It means the book won't be a classic, but it can still be an entertaining read. I'm still looking forward to the final two issues, but not as much as I might have been. Oh well!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fables #108 ("Inherit the Wind Chapter One: Hall of the Mountain King") by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I'm not sure what Lee Loughridge is doing these days to Mark Buckingham's pencils, but the coloring on this issue is spectacular. I mean, Buckingham and Leialoha have been doing good work on the book for years, and Loughridge has been a solid colorist, but in this issue, he colors it with (seemingly) richer hues and more contrasts, and while he's done that before for some of the book, when he does it for the entire issue, it's really amazing. It makes the book earthier, more tinged with nostalgia without being overt about it, and somehow sadder. The first scene with Rose and the animals returning to the Farm is brilliant, and the artists keep it going throughout the rest of the issue. Like I wrote, I know Loughridge has done this before, and it was nice then, so I'm glad he's doing it for the entire issue.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Generation Hope #10 ("Schism Part 1") by Kieron Gillen (writer), Tim Seeley (artist), Val Staples (colorist), Sotocolor (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Kieron Gillen is leaving this comic after issue #12, which is depressing. I don't know much about the new writer (James Asmus), but I may give it a chance. Considering the only reason I bought this book was Gillen, I don't know how a new writer is going to make this work. Especially as this has become such a brilliant book - after a strong opening arc, it's gotten better and better, and I have no idea if Asmus will be able to keep me on it.

This is another stunning issue of the series, with a small problem that I assume is explained in the pages of Schism (we are advised to read Schism #3 before reading this issue, but that's not going to happen), as Gillen has cleverly turned this into "Phonogram: The Singles Club" with, you know, superpowers. That means he's writing about teenagers who are trying to figure the world out, and while they can still do shit like blow stuff up and kill a lot of people (that cover isn't lying in any way), they're still trying to understand who they are and what they're supposed to do in this world, much like we all did when we were teens and are still doing in some ways. Yes, the issue hinges on a horrible event, but the aftermath is amazingly devastating, from Idie's final thought to Laurie's confrontation with Hope. After last issue's suicide story, that makes two issues in a row that could easily be the best issue of the year. Yes, they're that good.

Seeley does an interesting job with the art - most of it is quite good, and then we get that weird group shot of the X-Men, in which Emma looks like, well, Emma. And why is Laurie's hoodie unzipped so far? Weird. And yes, I've been reading too much of Kelly's stuff again. But it is kind of strange. Seeley, however, nails the final page, and generally he does a fine job.

So what's the problem? Well, the X-Men get taken down. Very quickly. This, I assume, is explained in Schism #3, but it seemed very odd that they would go down so easily. I'm not going to worry about it because of the fact that it's a "crossover" and Gillen could have easily written the exact same story with different hostages, so I choose to believe that those X-Men are just actors hired by the museum to help sell the exhibit. That happens, right?

I love this comic - Gillen has given the kids such wonderful personalities (Idie is a bit extreme, but people like her do exist, after all) and they interact very well with each other, even if they don't always get along. They speak like real (albeit fairly smart) people, have interesting opinions (Idie's thoughts about the X-Men before the incident are fascinating because they have the ring of truth about them, even though she's quickly disabused of those notions), and face actual problems, even if they're seen through the lens of superpowers and whatnot. So, yeah - I love this comic. I really hope it can be half as good once Gillen leaves.

(I was reading some of the comments on the Mothership forum of the announcement that Asmus is taking over. Some people really hate this comic, which is fine with me - different strokes, right? However, I still don't understand this idea of buying something you don't like. If this book was no good, I wouldn't have bought past the first arc. Why on earth are you still buying it for ten issues if you hate it? That's $30 you could have saved, you know. Or if you gave it an arc and hated it, you still could have saved $18. What the fuck, people? In 2011, are there still people who buy everything X-related even if it sucks? I'm sorry to be harsh, but those people are stupid. STUPID!!!!!! Jesus, buy comics you like, people.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hellblazer #282 ("Inside") by Peter Milligan (writer), Simon Bisley (artist), Brian Buccellato (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Milligan gives us another brutal single issue, as John checks in on Julian, that nasty dude from early in Milligan's run (I'd tell you the issue numbers, but I'm fucked if I can remember), in prison. He doesn't really want to, but Julian is haunting the other inmates (he makes them believe they're being ripped apart at night, but in the morning, they're fine), and Terry Greaves asks John to help, because ... well, it doesn't really matter, does it? Epiphany asks John to help, so he does. Mayhem ensues!

As he's been doing, Milligan does a nice job showing how weak John can actually be. Even when he was at his lowest in the past (well, when I read the book, which means I have huge gaps between issue #100 and #250), writers would show John spitting in the face of the devil, so to speak. Milligan has done some of that, but he's also made it clear that John is far more out of his depth than he seems, so even though he manages to hold it together, we can sense how desperate he is. It's a tightrope, and Milligan walks it well. So in this issue, even though we know that John will win in the end (because he always does), Milligan puts him through the wringer, and we really believe he's been through the wringer, which isn't always the case. The resolution is a bit ... quick, I suppose, perhaps because of the 20-page restriction, so we have to move along, but that doesn't change the fact that it's an impressive little story.

Bisley is great, as usual. Duh!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Outsider #3 (of 3) ("Men from Space") by James Robinson (writer), Javi Fernandez (artist), The Hories (colorists), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

I thought about redacting this cover like I did the Batman: Knight of Vengeance one, because this one also gives away a fairly major plot point, but then I remembered that DC did actually put this cover in Previews a few months ago (I can't remember if they did the same with the Batman book), and J'onn's presence in this book isn't as stunning as the events in the Batman comic. So I apologize for the spoiler, but DC did it first!

I think this is a good comic, but I've read some people who are far smarter than I am write about how crappy it is, so I'm not sure. I mean, what's wrong with it? This is a nasty little book in which two evil characters fight each other, but Robinson has done a nice job showing why they're both evil. I mean, if I were J'onn, I'd be a bit peeved as well. And it's always nice to see J'onn cut loose, because it happens so rarely. Fernandez draws it very well, and the fight between Michael and J'onn is tremendous. The only problem I have with it is that we knew how it was going to end, because we know that Michael joined up with Cyborg and the other heroes and attacked England, so the fight is robbed of a bit of the drama. But other than that, this is a cool little mini-series. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Superboy #11 ("Rise of the Hollow Men Conclusion: The Neverending ...") by Jeff Lemire (writer), Pier Gallo (artist), Jamie Grant (colorist), Dom Regan (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Lemire wraps up Superboy with the big showdown issue, which includes some nice clever moments (I like how Conner and Lori both decide the same way on different courses of action, and they both work) and some good action. It's a decent enough issue, but it kind of speaks to the series as a whole - some potential, some payoff, but the feeling that something is missing. Lemire got interrupted by the Doomsday clusterfuck and then the big reboot, so maybe that has something to do with it, but the book never quite worked perfectly. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just never felt like it gelled the way some comics do. It's not a bad comic by any means, and if DC releases a trade of the ten issues (I don't count the Doomsday one, because it sucked), I wouldn't say it's a waste of money (Lori and Simon are very fun characters, plus you get parasite frogs, which is always nifty), but it's not something that's going to blow you away. Oh well.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Thunderbolts #162 by Jeff Parker (writer), Valentine de Landro (artist), Matthew Southworth (artist), Frank Martin (colorist), Fabio D'Auria (colorist), and Albert Deschesne (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

This is a big fight issue, as the things that came out of the lake last issue start killing everyone and mutating so they can fly and be even nastier, and it works for what it is. The bad guys who want to escape from the Raft finally make their move, Gunna has some fun killing the beasties, and the evolution of Man-Thing reaches a critical stage (see below). I don't have much else to say about this comic. Parker knows which beats to hit, de Landro and Southworth draw it well, there's action, there's a bit of humor, there's betrayal, and the book ends with Chicago about to be destroyed. Sorted!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Uncanny X-Men #542 by Kieron Gillen (writer), Greg Land (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Justin Ponsor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $3.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

First, let's get that cover out of the way. For years, I've tried not to imagine where Greg Land is stealing images from, and the cover is one for the ages, because I really don't want to know where he got Peter's face:

Man, let's move on.

Gillen's writing isn't quite as good on this as it is on Generation Hope, mainly because that's a different kind of book on which he can utilize his strengths more, but so far, he's making me read a Greg Land-drawn comic, which is quite an accomplishment. I don't know who is telling Emma to kill Hope (because she looks like Jean, and as we know in comics, your first love is ALWAYS your true love, so Scott would naturally dump Emma if/when Jean comes back, just like he dumped Madelyne Pryor, and yes, before you ask, Scott is a complete tool, but even he wouldn't steal his best friend's girlfriend), but it's a nifty little subplot. The main plot, of course, is that they need to stop the Juggernaut, so Magik takes Peter and Kitty to see Cyttorak and tell him that the Juggernaut isn't working for his team anymore. This leads to Peter becoming the Juggernaut so he can stop the original. So there's that.

It's not a bad issue, and while I'm not a huge fan of Gillen doing what Fraction did and throwing dozens of X-Men into the book, I don't hate it because of the threat and the way he does it - they show up for a panel, fail to stop Marko, and then we move on. If you're a fan of Rogue or Psylocke or Adam X, you might be a bit peeved that they're cast aside so quickly, but it's an interesting way to show how prepared Scott is for something major like this and how powerful the Juggernaut has become. So I don't hate it. However, I do wonder where the Juggernaut actually is in relation to San Francisco. At least 75 minutes passes in this comic (and I would argue that it's probably more like 2-3 hours) and he still hasn't reached the city? Where the heck is he? I know, it's just a way to show how much they're throwing at Marko, but if Gillen is going to bring it up, it would be nice to have a better sense of where he is and how long it's taking him to move.

I don't want to write too much about Greg Land, but as I've been reading too much by Kelly these days (yes, I mentioned Kelly three times in this post, so I receive another "I Hate Men and Comics" badge), I have to mention the fact that Danger stands outside Scott's office with "her" hips tilted. Danger. A robot. Tilted hips. I mean, Jesus.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

X-Factor #224 by Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciler), Guillermo Ortego (inker), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Okay, I'd like to preface this by saying that I still like this comic and that, for the past, what, six or seven years, X-Factor has been the best X-book around. All right? All right. Here's the issue: Why on earth does Peter David keep making his characters pregnant when he has no intention of having babies in his book? First it was Siryn, and now Rahne. I thought that perhaps Rahne would actually keep this baby, but no, we finish the book with David writing it out, although it still exists, unlike Theresa's kid. So what's the deal? I mean, babies in serialized popular fiction are a bad idea, because raising babies is fairly dull and routine, something that is anathema to dramatic fiction, but in television, actual actresses are getting pregnant and the shows have to deal with it (although I wish shows would deal with it like the Seinfeld people dealt with Julia Louis-Dreyfus's pregnancy - pregnancies? - by hiding her behind things and putting bigger clothes on her, instead of making the main characters pregnant, because that never ends well), so I can forgive it a bit. But there's no actress playing Rahne, is there? Peter David didn't have to make her pregnant. Now, I know that you can't get David off a book unless you pry it from his cold, dead fingers, so he'll probably write this book for the next two decades and therefore has plenty of time to bring the kid back and he might even have plans for him sooner than that, but still. I know that he wanted to explain Pip and Hela and Rahne's pregnancy did that, but he could have come up with a better explanation, right? Of course, the book is still very good, but come on.

And I assume that's the same Agamemnon from The Incredible Hulk, because how many old souls in kid's bodies named Agamemnon are running around the Marvel Universe? Man, David doesn't treat him well. It's his character, though, so I guess he can treat him however he likes!

[Edit: Commenters have pointed out that David did not, in fact, make Rahne pregnant, but inherited her condition from X-Force. Way to spoil a good rant, guys! Sheesh, you people. I should have known that, because someone - I think - brought it up before. Dang it. DANG IT!!!!! I still think that David should have dealt with the kid, even if he didn't want Rahne to be pregnant. Making her have a miscarriage would probably have been too "real-life," so I can understand why he didn't go that route, but my point stands. Whoever made her pregnant in the pages of X-Force - was it Remender? - wasn't doing anyone any favors, especially if he knew he wasn't going to have Rahne to write for much longer. Sorry, Mr. David!]

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

99 Days by Matteo Casali (writer), Kristian Donaldson (artist), and Clem Robins (letterer). $19.99, 179 pgs, BW, DC/Vertigo.

Donaldson has smoothed out his style from his earlier works, but damn, he's still a good artist.

Mr. Murder is Dead by Victor Quinaz (writer), Brent Schoonover (artist), Stacie Ponder (inker), Mark Englert (colorist), and Deron Bennett (letterer). $19.95, 97 pgs, FC, Archaia/Before the Door.

This is a very nice-looking comic - some of it is done in the style of olde-tyme newspaper strips, and the rest fits that style, with a nicer, modern look. I'm looking forward to checking this out, even if Jeph Loeb writes the introduction.

We3: The Deluxe Edition by Grant "All my works deserve a Deluxe Edition!!!!" Morrison (writer), Frank Quitely (penciller), Jamie Grant (inker/colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $24.99, 144 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

The Washington Post is quoted on the back of this hardcover thusly: "Realistic and relevant." Now, I suppose it's somewhat relevant, but I'm not sure what world the reviewer lives in where talking animals that have been turned into computer-driven killing machines is "realistic." Maybe they have those sorts of things down in DC! That would explain the extreme battling over the federal budget, I suppose! Also, some people - cough*Louis*cough - don't think Quitely's art is all that on this comic. Don't let the crazy people tell you otherwise, people!

In "this week on the Internet" news, Marvel and Spencer's have teamed up to bring you sexy pajamas drawn like Marvel women, because most women aren't of the *ahem* proportions of Marvel heroines, so they need some help! That She-Hulk one at the link might be my favorite, but they have more. Oh yes, they have more!

Also: Check out these Batman .gifs from the television show. Yes, it's easy to make fun of, but it was also awesome, so there's that.

Yes, it's time once again for The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. "Need You Tonight" - INXS (1987) "All you got is this moment, the twenty-first century's yesterday"2. "Papa Was a Rodeo" - Magnetic Fields (1999) "Home was anywhere with diesel gas, love was a trucker's hand"13. "She's Got a Way" - Billy Joel (1971) "Everywhere she goes a million dreams of love surround her" 4. "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" - George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers2 (1977) "The clock on the wall say three o'clock ... last call for alcohol"5. "El Fusilado" - Chumbawamba (2008) "Bullet holes all across my chest, ripped up my shirt and my body; heart beat on through the silenced guns to the rhythm of life inside me"6. "King of Carrot Flowers Part One" - Neutral Milk Hotel (1998) "And your mom would stick a fork right into daddy's shoulder and your dad would throw the garbage all across the floor"7. "Biko" - Peter Gabriel (1980) "It was business as usual in police room 619"8. "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" - The Human League (1983) "And plain to see the facts are changing, no meaning left to hold"9. "Jerusalem" - Sinéad O'Connor (1987) "I want to stop it and you said it would be easy; it sure takes time"10. "Hyperspace" - Buckner & Garcia (1982) "I fire and shoot and blow him out of the sky, push on the button and wave bye-bye"

1 I just want you to know that I love this song so much that if you say anything bad about it, I don't know if we can be friends anymore. Be forewarned!

2 I know they're usually called "the Destroyers," but I love the fact that Thorogood is from Delaware. That cracks me up for some reason. If you've ever been to Wilmington, you'd know why. (Wilmington is a charming little city, but it doesn't seem like the kind of place where a bluesman would be spawned.)

Hmmm ... I suppose here's the spot for a Totally Random Movie Quote!

"I killed a girl, it was no accident. Put a gun to the back of her head and blew her brains right out the front. I was in love.""I strangled mine.""Did you love her?""She was okay."

Man, this is a great movie. But which one is it?????

Have a nice day, everyone!

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