What I bought - 19 October 2011

My granddaughter Andrea wrote a composition for school in which she said that she liked her "grandmother's imagination." I asked her what she was referring to, and without hesitation she replied, "You remember things that never happened." Don't we all do that? (Isabel Allende, from My Invented Country)

This week in the totally Airwolf panels: Comic book characters react to Fear Itself! Yes, it's extremely snarky, but it's all in good fun. And come on - Fear Itself totally deserves it!

All Nighter #5 (of 5) ("Stealing Home") by David Hahn (writer/artist) and Aditya Bidikar (letterer). $2.99, 32 pgs, BW, Image.

All Nighter ends as weirdly as it began, with Hahn implying something supernatural but then revealing something mundane but never really debunking the supernatural part. It's a delicate balance, but he pulls it off. His story isn't really about Martha, after all, even though she's a catalyst, it's about Kit and the way she reacts to Martha and her shenanigans. So this final issue is about Kit trying to come to terms with Martha's disappearance but realizing that she needs answers. It remains a quiet series, full of nice character moments, and I'm sure if I dug back through the first four issues I would know what the final image means (I'll get to it, but as far as I can tell, I didn't need to recognize it to know what Hahn was going for in the series as a whole). Mainly, All Nighter is a series in which Hahn wanted to show people who make bad choices realizing that maybe there's more to life than making bad choices. He takes an interesting way to get to that point, but it makes Kit a far more likable character than she was in issue #1 (she wasn't completely unlikable, but she was a bit shifty) and makes her that way rather naturally. She is forced to change, and she finds out it's not as horrid as she thought it was.

Hahn's art remains tremendous, which isn't surprising. He does a wonderful job with three pages about Martha's disappearance, showing how she became a media sensation and then a pop culture icon - Hahn shows Kit in the same spot in each panel as the world changes around her. It's not terribly subtle how Hahn changes her hair over the course of the series, but it is effective in showing how she matures. And the two pages where Martha explains who she is work really well, too. Hahn has a simple but powerful style, and it works well for a book like this, where the characters are the focus.

All Nighter is an interesting mini-series, and I think the trade would be a pretty nice read. Check it out - I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Atomic Robo: The Ghost of Station X #2 (of 5) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

I didn't like this issue as much as Bill Reed did, but that's only because he called it the best issue of the year, which is a pretty high standard. I mean, Atomic Robo sets the bar pretty high, and this might not even be the best issue of this title that I've read this year (the finale of volume 5 was pretty darned good). However, why quibble about how great this issue is? It's pretty damned excellent.

As usual, Clevinger manages to pack in a ton of stuff into 22 pages, shaming those writers who think they need to drop in three or four splash pages in each issue (they know who they are!). Not only does Robo's team rescue him after last issue's explosion in space, not only does his team put him back together and argue about it the entire time (they're pissed off that Robo got himself blowed up), not only do we check in on the disappearing house in England, and not only do we learn that NASA never actually called Robo, but we get Robutt! Oh, and what's up with Robo's gun? See, people - this book is packed with wild and fun crap! Plus, Wegener has some fun with Robo's butt in the second half of the comic, and he does a nice RoboCop homage, and, you know, it's just a great comic. Occasionally I don't feel like proselytizing about Atomic Robo as much as I often do, because I fear that the people who haven't tried it yet are just never going to because they like comics that suck. I appreciate people who have tried it and think it's not that good (they're wrong, of course, but that's why this is America, man!), but there are actually people who willingly buy Red Lanterns yet ignore this. Oh, those people. We're all nerds who read comic books, but I'm afraid we're on completely different planes of existence. I fear that you, you people who refuse to read Atomic Robo, might be Evil Abeds or Evil Troys. Is there any hope? Only time will tell!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dark Horse Presents #5. "Isolation" by Eric Powell (writer/artist) and Dave Stewart (colorist); "Rotten Apple Chapter 4" by Chuck Brown (writer), Sanford Greene (artist/colorist), Tyson Hesse (colorist), and Steve Dutro (letterer); "The Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizzaboy" by Filipe Melo (writer), Juan Cavia (artist), João Pombeiro (adapter), Martin Tejada (adapter), Santiago Villa (colorist), and Pedro Semedo (letterer); "Number 13 Chapter Four" by Robert Love (writer/artist), David Walker (writer), Michelle Davies (colorist), Diego Simone (colorist), and Thomas Mauer (letterer); "Resident Alien Chapter 2" by Peter Hogan (artist) and Steve Parkhouse (artist); "Criminal Macabre: Die, Die, My Darling Part Two" by Steve Niles (writer), Christopher Mitten (artist), Michelle Madsen (colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); "Marked Man Part Five" by Howard Chaykin (writer/artist), Jesus Aburto (colorist), and Ken Bruzenak (letterer); "Skeleton Key: Dead Can't Dance" by Andi Watson (writer/artist); "Finder: Third World Part 5" by Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Bill Mudron (colorist); "Blood Chapter 4" by Neal Adams (writer/artist) and Moose (colorist). $7.99, 80 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

For those who occasionally pop up here to laud The Goon, Eric Powell's story in the latest issue of DHP is a fine reason why I don't read his critically acclaimed series. "Isolation" is amazingly restrained for Powell, actually, but it's still an example of his writing - the adjective "puerile" leaps to mind, as does the more mundane "clichéd." His art is always gorgeous, but the people who give the android gifts to keep him company on his journey to the distant planet (scientists send an android to scout the planet because Earth is definitely going to fall apart in a few centuries) are just so ... well, stupid, for lack of a better word. It's not a bad story (it's obvious, but that's to be expected for such a short tale), but Powell does this all the time - he puts these stereotypes in his comics and thinks they're hilarious, but they're not. He thinks having his characters curse and look at porn is the height of comedy, but it's not. I don't mind Powell's plots, and occasionally he does "serious" writing which shows he knows what he's doing, but in the few issues of The Goon I've read, he wasn't doing that. He was cracking jokes, and he's not funny. That's a deadly combination. I should know - I crack jokes all the time and I'm not even remotely funny!

Anyway, I like Dark Horse Presents. I'm not sure what else I can say about it. It's 8 bucks for 80 pages of comics goodness, and it features gorgeous artwork and some surprisingly good stories. I'm still digging the Dog Mendonça story (the way he sells out to a soda company in this installment is very funny), "Resident Alien" is moving along nicely, Andi Watson's story is also very funny, and McNeil's "Finder" stories continue to be excellent. And reading small chunks of Neal Adams' insanity is probably the best way to do it. So yeah, I really like DHP. I can understand why people wouldn't want to read it, but it's so much fun to zip through an issue.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fables #110 ("Inherit the Wind Chapter Three: Allies") by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (artist), Steve Leioloha (inker), Shawn McManus (finisher), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

It's Fables. Willingham uses the term "yoop poop" twice in this comic. What do you want me to say? I do find it interesting that Buckingham "pencils" some pages but only "lays out" others, allowing McManus to "finish" them. I know what those terms mean, but I wonder why, if Buckingham is feeling a bit of a time crunch, he didn't lay out the entire issue and McManus didn't finish the entire thing? In fact, Leialoha isn't a bad penciller in his own right, so why couldn't he finish an issue instead of just inking it? Or pencil the entire thing? Questions like this keep me up at night. No, I don't get much sleep. Why do you ask?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fear Itself #7 (of 7) ("Thor's Day") by Matt Fraction (writer), Stuart Immonen (penciler), Wade von Grawbadger (inker), Dexter Vines (inker), Laura Martin (colorist), Justin Ponsor (colorist), Matt Milla (colorist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer). $4.99, 38 pgs (plus 16 pages of basically extended adverts for four new series spinning out of this mess), FC, Marvel.

Where to start? Man, this is a bad comic book. I mean, the series has been pretty lousy, but what's bizarre about this series is that it simply kept getting worse the more we learned, which is kind of strange. Usually things start out pretty crappy and eventually, as we learn more, we gain some appreciation for what's going on, or the level of crappiness simply stays the same. But issue #7 of this series is measurably worse than issue #1, which wasn't a great comic in the first place. Wow. I can't stress enough how much different and how much better Casanova is than this. I mean, some writers I really like have written crappy comics before (the "Peter Milligan Elektra Syndrome"), but usually you can see why the writer could, conceivably, write a good comic in a different set of circumstances. If this were the first comic by Matt Fraction I had ever read, I wouldn't be sure he could write a decent grocery list, much less a comic. Yet, I know he can. How weird.

Anyway, some shit happens in this comic, I guess. I wish I could just ramble on about Stuart Immonen's gorgeous artwork or even Martin's, Ponsor's, and Milla's groovy colors, but I can't. I mean, Immonen is tremendous in this issue, as he's been throughout the comic, but honestly, we knew he would be. I'll even forgive him for the first big showing of the Avengers with their divine Stark weapons, in which several of them who can't fly look like they're flying - Immonen is going for the big moment, and I'll just live with it - because so much of this shit is so cool-looking. But then I remember the story, and I wince. Yes, I really do.

I was planning on writing a big post about this and Flashpoint (it's one of the reasons I bought both of them this summer, beside the fact that I thought they might actually be good), and I still might (it won't be until November at the earliest, though), but let's just point out how boring this comic continues to be. The only rule of a big event comic is that it shouldn't be boring. Yet this comic, inexplicably, is dull. And anyone who reads things I write regularly knows that I enjoy Marvel comics and characters, so it's not that I'm a DC homer and hate all things Marvel (in the same way I'm not a Marvel homer and hate all things DC). It's just that Fraction utterly fails to do much with all these toys he has. The "Worthy" do very little in this issue (after being absent in other titles for most of the series), and even Sin punks out pretty easily. Thor's battle with the Serpent is supposed to be the big event of this issue, but check this out - in this entire comic book, there are 16 panels of Thor fighting the Serpent (if we want to be generous, I'll go with 17, as they're in the background of the big double-page spread when the Avengers attack the Worthy). I mean, yes, they're beautifully drawn panels, but it really seems like Thor takes Snake Dude down rather easily. It's not supposed to be that way, but for me, at least, that's what it felt like. Then there's the fact that Fraction never really did explain the fear gripping the world or explore it any meaningful way, so Rick's volte-face doesn't have much impact. He doesn't appear to overcome anything, so the fact that he decides to stop being a dick just comes off as him deciding not to be a dick. Most people decide not to be dicks every day of their lives, so Rick's decision doesn't seem special at all. And then, of course, Thor dies. That's so stupid as to barely be worth mentioning. So that's all I'll mention it. Finally, there are the previews for four series spinning out of this series. Man, they look terrible. Wait, they're splitting Hulk and Banner into two separate entities?!?!? HOLY SHIT, NO ONE'S EVER DONE THAT BEFORE!!!!! Jesus, wake me up when someone gets an original idea.

I suppose some of the problems with this series stem from the fact that so much took place in other series, but that's part of the bigger problem with Big Two Events these days. Fear Itself doesn't read like a story, it reads like a stem that supports other stories. Sure, the stem is important, but it's also boring - it just stands there and things come off of it and blossom, and those are the interesting things! This main series is where we should have gotten a lot more about the fear in the world. This is where we should have seen the consequences of Tony getting drunk. This is where we should have seen some of the Worthy doing horrible things. Instead we get ponderous writing, weirdly non-dramatic drama, and a complete clusterfuck of a final battle. It's really sad. Flashpoint wasn't much good either, but at least it turned out to have a purpose. Fear Itself doesn't seem to have any reason for existing. I'm more depressed than anything.

Seriously, though - Casanova is superb. Maybe someone stole Matt Fraction's fake name and used it to scam his way into getting this gig? Beats me! Or maybe it was ... Evil Matt Fraction!!!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ (almost entirely based on Immonen's art)

One totally Airwolf panel:

Generation Hope #12 ("Half as Bright") by Kieron Gillen (writer), Steven Sanders (penciler), Roland Paris (inker), Norman Lee (inker), Sotocolor (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $2.99, 25 pgs, FC, Marvel.

This came out a week ago, but my retailer's entire order was damaged, so he got some replacements. I can't control the laws of shipping, people!

Here's another comic I'm dropping, as this is Gillen's last issue and it feels like a good place to stop (I don't have anything against James Asmus, the new writer, but I don't have anything for him, either). The problem with this issue and Uncanny X-Men (which came out this week) is that Gillen is writing about things that happened in a different comic (Schism), which I didn't read, so the characters are talking about things that mean nothing to me. This is just one aspect of modern comics that really bugs me - not only are the events shuffled off to mini-series (to be honest, this has been happening for years, but it's more prevalent these days), but the ongoing titles don't even try to catch you up on what's going on. Something happened with Idie, and all that's been happening to her has been in Schism. Gillen did a nice job a few issues ago in catching us up, and I assume that's why it's such a concern in this issue, but did something else happen while the mutants were fighting that giant Metaphortinel in Schism? Beats me. I do like how Marvel reprints, right in the middle of this issue, a scene from Regenesis that shows us Hope and Laurie arguing. I don't know whose idea that was, but given what I know about Gillen and given what I know about Marvel editorial, I'm going to think it was Gillen's.

So this is another pretty good issue in a pretty good series, and Gillen wraps things up nicely and leaves Asmus with a new team member and some unresolved hostility toward Hope (Kenji continues to be the best character in this series, because he's so acerbic and funny), and it's a good issue of characters talking, and as Gillen continues to prove he's excellent at dialogue, it works well. I would think a big, 12-issue trade of this series (or maybe even a trade with some of the ancillary issues stapled onto the main series) would be a nice read. Get on it, Marvel!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hellblazer #284 ("The Devil's Trenchcoat Part Two: Sick Horror") by Peter Milligan (writer), Gael Bertrand (artist), Trish Mulvihill (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Gael Bertrand, who drew an issue of Hellblazer a while back, is a good artist. He has a cartoony line that ought to seem weird in John's gritty world, but where the "Vertigo coloring" of Trish Mulvihill can muddy up some other artists, on Bertrand's pencils it actually helps make the cartoony aspects blend well with the dark subject matter. Of course, the book is still too dark (a combination of the paper stock, I imagine, and Mulvihill's insistence on using browns and dark reds everywhere), but it still looks pretty keen. Bertrand, I assume, will be working his way up the ranks of DC fairly soon, as he's obviously a good artist who appears to be somewhat flexible in what he could draw.

Meanwhile, John's trenchcoat is still causing problems. This time it's found by Georgie, a young lady who lives with her overbearing mother and likes to read horror mags. Oh, this could be a problem. Milligan doesn't quite give us what we expect, but it's still a nice little horror story. Gemma and Epiphany, meanwhile, strike a bargain, and John still doesn't know why his magic has gone all wonky. It's a well written issue of Hellblazer, in other words. Yeah, I know - what a shock. You should read it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Near Death #2 by Jay Faerber (writer), Simone Guglielmini (artist), Ron Riley (colorist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

As I wrote when issue #1 came out, Near Death feels very much like a Stephen J. Cannell television series from the 1980s (this is by no means a bad thing at all - as I pointed out last time, Cannell gave us MOTHERFUCKING RIPTIDE, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!), and in this issue, Faerber even paces it that way - Markham begins the issue by saving some random dude from bad guys who are out to kill him, and then he gets into the main story when a different dude tries to hire him to kill two men who are harassing him (Markham's even jogging through the park with two women who are far too young for him and who invite him to join them in their hot tub before the dude shows up to cockblock him, which is the kind of thing that you can totally see happening to Perry King). The dude turns out to be a rapist who served his time, but now the father and brother of the girl are out for revenge!!!! What will Markham do? Should he protect the skeevy rapist? Should he let the father and brother become murderers, even though he knows the price that will take on their souls? Should he kill the skeevy rapist himself? What will that do for his vow of not killing anyone? Oh, the drama!!!!!!

Yes, I'm having some fun with this comic, but Faerber really does put Markham in an interesting ethical and moral quagmire with no easy way out. Even the way he extricates himself from the situation is kind of skeevy, showing us once again that Markham really isn't that great a guy. He tells the doctor who saved his life that he's doing what he's doing for selfish reasons, but usually when someone says that, they're just trying to be bad-ass and conceal their heart of gold. Markham really hasn't changed all that much, as his behavior with the rapist shows. That's one reason why this series, so far, is more interesting than the premise might lead you to believe. I'm fairly confident that Faerber will continue with this kind of characterization, and I'm very cool with that.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Ultimate 7 #2 (of 12) ("Phantom Starfighters") by Robert Wawrzyniak (writer), Shawn Surface (penciller), Scott Shoemaker (inker/colorist), and Anna Wawrzyniak (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Zyo Comics.

The Ultimate 7 is a trashy kind of comic book, with not a lot of socially redeeming value, art that tells a story but lacks much pizzazz (and while the book takes place 1000 years in the future, it appears the women have re-discovered the 1970s for some of their hairstyles), and is somewhat forgettable. However, it's still better than Fear Itself! Why, you might ask? Well, Wawrzyniak hasn't forgotten something about comics that feature battles between good and evil: SHIT SHOULD HAPPEN! Last issue, we saw that some evil alien dudes had seeded earth with humanity and are now coming back to collect all the humans and make them slaves. So in this issue, the bad guys invade and the humans fight back. BLAM! SMASH! KA-BOOM! Things blow the fuck up and people die in horrible ways and wormholes suck people in and asteroids come screeching (metaphorically, as we're in space, after all) out of the blackness and SHIT HAPPENS. The main characters, Colonel Jennifer Rocket (yes, really) and some handsome dude named Zack, jump in their starfighters and start blasting away at the bad guys. They leave their friend, Bubba, behind, who says he'll fight the aliens on board the space station where the action takes place. Meanwhile, Jennifer's sister is accosted by aliens, but she's tougher than she looks! Man, a lot of shit happens in this issue.

That doesn't make it a good comic, mind you, just an entertaining one. Wawrzyniak also has some fun with clichés of the genre - we think we know what's going to happen with Bubba and Zack and even the space station, but Wawrzyniak has fun subverting our expectations. And he knows that a work of fiction should have good villains, so he makes his gleefully horrific - they're bad guys, and they don't care, damn it!

I can't really recommend The Ultimate 7, unless you want to support a self-published comic because it's the right thing to do. I can say that it's more entertaining than Fear Itself, which might be damning with faint praise, but when you consider Marvel's pedigree, that's something. It's a wildly insane comic, and that's good for something!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Uncanny X-Men #544 ("Uncanny") by Kieron Gillen (writer), Greg Land (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Justin Ponsor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $3.99, 21 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Much like Generation Hope (but even more so), the final issue of Uncanny X-Men reads strangely, because everything about the future has already been decided, so this issue is Cyclops closing up shop in Utopia (for now, at least) and saying goodbye to Bobby and Hank, who are joining Logan in West Chester. This entire "Schism" thing has been weird, I guess (from what others are saying about it), but Gillen missteps when he tries to wring emotion out of the parting - it's not like Scott will never see these people again, and to act like it feels false. Besides, the X-Men haven't been a proper team for 25 years, and this reshuffling feels similar to many of the other reshufflings of the past, except that because "chaos" has become the norm for the X-Franchises, there's nothing to ground this and make it as emotional as Gillen wants it to be. I mean, even today, if you read a bunch of Claremont issues in a row and then reach the Mutant Massacre and see the team splinter, it feels more "real" than this one, because the characters had been together for years. These people today don't seem to even know each other that well, even Scott and Bobby, who have been around since the beginning. It's a weird feeling, and it doesn't feel earned, if you know what I mean. Scott claims he's moving on, but he's been doing that for decades. What happens when Jean comes back (I assume everyone caught the teaser image in the final issue of Fear Itself that seems to imply it, or at least the return of Phoenix) - does Scott do to Emma what he did to Madelyne Pryor all those years ago? The fact is that Marvel will never let these characters do anything truly keeping with the spirit of "moving on," so Scott's words to Emma ring false. It's a very frustrating issue in that regard.

The only thing that might make it interesting is if Mr. Sinister, who shows up in this issue, becomes some kind of Meta-Manipulator outside of the "universe" of the X-Men - a stand-in for Gillen himself, in other words. He seems to be controlling events in some way, and while I don't get what Gillen is going for, I do appreciate his attempt to make this a bit of an oddball comic (hard to do with the soul-crushing art of Greg Land bringing it all to "life"). I don't know what plans Gillen has for Mr. Sinister, but it's by far the most interesting thing in the comic.

So I'm jumping ship once again from Uncanny X-Men. It's 4 dollars a pop, and it's just not a good value, even though Gillen has done some nice work on the book. DC gave me a great place to jump off and start waiting for trades, and that's what I'm doing with Gillen's X-Men work. That way I can at least think about it for a while to decide if I want to buy the trade. For now, though, I'll be sitting the reboot out. Oh well!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

X-Factor #226 by Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (artist), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Did anyone notice that Leonard Kirk's pencils had a distinct Stuart Immoneny feel to them in this issue? Kirk's a decent artist, but not as good as Immonen, but he was definitely channeling him in this issue. Is it Milla's coloring? Beats me. It's interesting. Kirk's way of drawing Longshot's and Rictor's hair, however, still sucks. They look like tools.

Anyway, this is another solid issue of X-Factor. I hate doing that every month, but's it true - David has been writing this second incarnation for, what, six or so years now, and it's always a good book, occasionally rising to really good. The gang investigates the murder they're investigating, finds out that the victim's ex-husband (who, of course, is a supervillain) might be involved, but said ex-husband claims it's some other, even badder thing. Meanwhile, the gang continues to have their personal problems - Rahne and Guido seem angrier than usual, Theresa might have a problem with Monet being Muslim, Shatterstar and Rictor are going through a rough patch - it's all business as usual in X-Factor! Plus, Pip points out that women in superhero comics really ought to wear brassieres, which is so true and, thus, very funny. See? Peter David doesn't need puns to be funny!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Zorro Rides Again #4 (of 12) by Matt Wagner (writer), Esteve Polls (artist), Oscar Manuel Martin (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

Last time around, I feared for the life of Don Alejandro, because once a person finds out the secret identity of a superhero, that person's life span gets much, much shorter (usually, that is). Well, I knew it was coming, but I'm surprised Wagner pulled the trigger - so to speak - so quickly, as Mr. Alex goes down in the very next issue, standing up to a soldier/bully who has come to his friend's house to arrest that friend for treason (a trumped-up charge, needless to say). So, of course, Don Diego's nobility will be put to the test - will he succumb to revenge because his father has been killed, or will he remain noble? Only time will tell!

As clichéd as this issue is, I'm still enjoying the series and will give Wagner the benefit of the doubt, because he's earned it. So far, this is a more conventional arc than the previous one, and I wonder how much more Wagner trusted Francavilla than he does Polls. Polls is perfectly fine, but he's not Francavilla. So this is more of an action/adventure story, and I always enjoy those for what they are. Zorro Rides Again might not be a great comic, but I never regret buying it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

20 Century Boys volume 17 by Naoki Urusawa (writer/artist). $12.99, 206 pgs, BW, Viz Media.

It keeps keeping on - just when I think it can't go anywhere else, it does!

Book Smart by Jimmy Palmiotti (writer), Justin Gray (writer), Juan Santacruz (artist), Juan Manuel Tumburús (colorist), and Bill Tortolini (letterer). $8.99, 79 pgs, FC, Kickstart Comics.

I hope Kickstart is doing okay, because I don't hear much about their books. They're good, solid comics that don't cost too much and usually feature pretty good talent. Nothing wrong with that!

Freakangels volume 6 by Warren Ellis (writer), Paul Duffield (artist), Alana Yuen (color assistant), and Kate Brown (color assistant). $19.99, 144 pgs, FC, Avatar.

I went to the web site and it looks like the last time it updated was early August. Has Ellis given up on this?

Gantz volume 19 by Hiroya Oku (writer/artist). $12.99, 220 pgs, BW, Dark Horse.

Oh, Gantz. What are we to do with you?

So I've been wandering the Internet, as I am wont to do (I wonder if I should start doing more comics links like Bill used to do, now that he's too busy eating scrapple and watching Senegalese soap operas), and I've found some stuff. Who knew there was stuff on the Internet?

To keep it comics-related for the moment, go read Colin Smith's brilliant and bitter dissection on John Stewart, Green Lantern. It's amazing how tone-deaf DC (and Marvel) is sometimes, it really is. Colin, as the title of the blog claims, thinks far too much about comics, but that's why his writing on comics is so frickin' excellent. Of course, you could stay here and read about Bill Reed watching Senegalese soap operas, but how enriching is that, really?

Moving on from comics, I don't know if any of you saw the Playboy covers featuring the ladies of Mad Men (they're totally safe for work). There's Christina Hendricks, January Jones, Alison Brie, and ... but who's the fourth lady? Oh, you need to click the link for that!

Speaking of Alison Brie, I hoped everyone watched Community last week (yes, I've been referencing it in the post, but now I'm actually writing about the episode!). It was a brilliant episode, with seven different timelines in which different wacky stuff happened. Some people think the "Evil Abed" timeline is the "real" one, but Dan Harmon has put the kibosh on that. Still, the hope remains that Evil Abed and Evil Troy will somehow invade the "real" timeline like they said they would. That would be awesome.

I know everyone remembers Michael Winslow from Police Academy - the guy who made all the noises just with his mouth. Here he is doing Whole Lotta Love with just acoustic accompaniment. On Norwegian television. Yes, Norwegian television! I love the hosts - they're nerdier than I am! It's like they're just as impressed by the existence of a black man as they are by what he can do!

Speaking of videos, here's the "hottest commercial ever made." It's certainly steamy, but I'm honestly not sure what it's a commercial for. Underwear, I guess? It reminded me of the nekkid Gretchen Mol scene from last week's Boardwalk Empire. That was hot AND creepy, though, given the circumstances in which Gretchen Mol met Dabney Coleman in the BE world.

This has nothing to do with anything, but have you ever had the feeling that you saw something or read something and you're the only one who knows it exists, and even then, you're not really sure it did exist and you wonder if you might have created it in your mind? Over at Mighty God King, they did something like this a few months ago (I'd link to it, but it was a while ago, and I don't feel like searching for it), and for some reason I thought of it today. Mine was a television movie, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which I swore starred Jeff Goldblum before he was a star. When Goldblum began getting big in the 1980s, I swore he was in the story because he'd make a great Ichabod Crane, wouldn't he? Plus, I remember seeing it when I was somewhat young, and it scared the hell out of me. The story still freaks me out, and I wonder if it was because of that program. For years I never met anyone who had seen the show, and I wondered if I made it up because Goldblum would make such a good Ichabod Crane. Thanks to IMDb, I no longer need to worry - the show came out in 1980, and I don't know if I saw it that year or maybe a rerun a year or two later - but it's weird that stuff like that comes up every so often. If you have anything like that, feel free to sound off. But it was just something that occurred to me while I was working on this post. I don't know why.

In the world of sports, I'm not talking about the World Series because I fear St. Louis will win and make me eat my liver, but I wonder if you heard about the Jerome Harrison trade. Harrison, a running back, was traded to the Eagles from the Lions for Ronnie Brown, another running back. Harrison was with the Eagles last year, and they wanted him back, apparently. He failed his physical, though, so the trade was voided. However, the trade was voided because the Eagles' doctors found out he had a brain tumor, and he had to quit football for the season (he might be back next year). The preliminary reports are that he'll be okay, but consider: If he hadn't been traded, he wouldn't have gotten the physical, and who knows what the tumor would have done? Weird story, but great for Harrison.

Okay, enough of that. Let's check out The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle). This week I have a lot to say about them!

1. "Wild Side" - Mötley Crüe (1987) "Name-dropping no-names glamorize cocaine; puppets on strings of gold"12. "Bullet the Blue Sky" - U2 (1987) "Jacob wrestled the angel, and the angel was overcome"23. "False Alarm" - King's X (2001) "Hanging on to every word, there's something that I missed"4. "You're Gone" - Marillion (2004) "While here I am, left behind, stunned and blind"35. "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" - Soggy Bottom Boys (2000) "For in this world I'm bound to ramble, I have no friends to help me now"6. "Hard Times" - John Legend and the Roots featuring Black Thought (2010) "Knocking on my brother's door, eating Spam, Oreos, drinking Thunderbird"7. "Renaissance Man" - Midnight Oil (1993) "So you found a hard-won friend to hold your hand and hold your head"48. "Borderline" - Madonna (1982) "Something in your eyes is making such a fool of me"59. "There's a Platypus Controlling Me" - Dr. Doofenshmirtz (2010) "I'm not speaking metaphorically"610. "Walk" - Foo Fighters (2011) "Do you remember the days we built these paper mountains and sat and watched them burn"7

1 I love this song for so many reasons. "Forward my mail to me in Hell" is such a ROCK-N-ROLL!!!!! lyric, and who doesn't love Tommy Lee upside-down on the drums? Man, the Eighties ruled.

2 When I first heard this song, I hated it. HATED IT!!!! Now I love it. That rarely happens with me - there are songs I used to love but don't anymore, but it's rare when I hate a song and then grow to love it. Way to go, U2!

3 Marillion is my favorite band, but even I admit their last three albums haven't been as good as their earlier ones. This song, however, is superb. You know you want to listen to it!

4 They're good British-type people, so they say "Renaissance" the funny way, with the stress on the second syllable, unlike Americans, who always stress the first syllable if they can, because the U.S.A. is #1, man!!!!! Saying it the way Peter Garrett does, however, fits the rhythm better. Damned Aussies!

5 This is, honestly, the only Madonna song I love. Her other songs are catchy, to be sure, but I really dig this tune. And it has that great cheesy video! Man, the Eighties ruled.

6 I have two (2) Phineas and Ferb songs on my iPod. Yes, I really do. Because they're awesome. I would have more, but some of them aren't available on iTunes. Damn you, Disney!!!!

7 Foo Fighters always make great videos. I don't know why, because where on television can you find them? And I don't wish to alarm you, but speaking of Dave Grohl, Nevermind was released 20 years ago (24 September, but I missed it). Nevermind is one of those albums that, even if you don't like it, you can't deny the amazing effect it had on music. We're still dealing with the influence of that sucker!

So this is a long post, but it wouldn't be complete without a Totally Random Movie Quote!

"I know a guy who walks into a bank with a little glass bottle. He tells everyone it's nitroglycerine. He scores some money off the teller, walks out. On his way out, the bottle breaks, he slips on it and knocks himself out. The "nitro" was Canola oil. I know more fucked-up bank robbers than ones who know what they're doing. I doubt if one in twenty could tell you where the dye pack is. Most bank robbers are fucking morons."

Finally, I'm again taking up my Quixotic quest to get tags re-instated to the blog. Here's something interesting about the tags on the blog: Behind the scenes, we can still tag posts, they just don't show up on the front page. You can search by tag on Google (here, for instance, are all the posts with the "Chew" tag), but they still don't show up on the front page. I happen to know that the Grand Poobah of the Mothership (Our Dread Lord and Master's Dread Lord and Master) has asked the writers on the other blogs under his umbrella to use tags, and they appear on the front page. Regardez!

You know how you might have something that bugs you that no one else even cares about? Well, one of mine is tags on the posts. I like to search the blog that way, but I can't. BRING BACK TAGS, PLEASE!!!!! Who's with me?

Anyway, thanks as always for indulging my weird tangents. They're always fun, right? Hey, where are you going? Hey!!!!

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