What I bought - 20 April 2011

For it is the greatest truth of our age: information is not knowledge. (Caleb Carr, from Killing Time)

Avengers Academy #12 ("Put Away Childish Things") by Christos Gage (writer), Tom Raney (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I've often said that I like when writers actually think about what superheroes can do with their powers, because too often they simply fall into ruts of beating people up and hoping that works. Not all writers do this, of course, and it's nice that Gage seems to have thought about what the powers of his characters can do. I'm not necessarily talking about the fact that in this issue, Carina has taken the kids' bodies from various futures and put their minds into them so that they can access greater powers than they've shown so far, although that's not a bad idea. The fact that Reptil can grow into a giant dinosaur is keen, of course. I'm thinking specifically of Veil, who is not only instrumental in beating Korvac but also figures out something about her condition that fits well with her established powers. Superheroes are not just normal people who happen to have a power, they're fundamentally different from "normal" people, and so of course they would test their limits and try to figure out what they can do. Many "normal" people test their limits, too, but they can't turn into mist or a dinosaur, so it's not as dramatic. The fight with Korvac was perfectly fine, but the ending is why this comic is interesting.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dark Horse Presents #1. "Concrete: Intersection" by Paul Chadwick (writer/artist); "Marked Man Part One" by Howard Chaykin (writer/artist), Jesus Aburto (colorist), and Ken Bruzenak (letterer); "Blood Chapter One" by Neal Adams (writer/artist) and Moose (colorist); "Finder: Third World Chapter One" by Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Bill Mudron (colorist); "Mr. Monster vs. Oooak!" by Michael T. Gilbert (writer/artist); "Xerxes Sneak Peek" by Frank Miller (writer/artist); "How Interesting: A Tiny Man" by Harlan Ellison (writer) and Leo and Diane Dillon (illustration); "Murky World Chapter One" by Richard Corben (writer/artist) and Clem Robins (letterer); "Star Wars - Crimson Empire III: The Third Time Pays for All" by Randy Stradley (writer), Paul Gulacy (artist), Michael Bartolo (colorist), and Michael Heisler (letterer); "Snow Angel" by David Chelsea; "Aaaaaaaaaaah" and "Personality Quiz" by Patrick Alexander (writer/artist). $7.99, 80 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Well, this is a good bargain - 80 pages, no ads, some great talent. There's no downside!

I've never been the biggest fan of Paul Chadwick, either his writing or his art, but the Concrete story is a nice little story about several events coming together at, you guessed it, an intersection. However, the most disturbing part of the story is the end, when he's holding L'il Concrete in his arms. I haven't read a lot of Concrete (maybe one or two short stories), but I'm going to assume that Concrete and Maureen somehow made the ol' beast with two backs and a solid concrete baby grew inside her womb, and if so - ew. That's totally freaking me out.

Howard Chaykin's story is about three thieves and how the narrator is trying to maintain a normal life with his wife and children without, you know, telling her he's a thief. It's not a bad introduction to the characters (I don't know how many chapters it's supposed to be) and unlike a lot of recent Chaykin work, the art doesn't look quite as terrible. It's still a far cry from his excellent work in the 1980s, but it's not as bad as, I don't know, the recent Avengers stuff. Seriously, what the crap is up with that?

Neal Adams proves that even when he's not doing Batman, you can count on a couple of things: Excellent art, and insane writing. This seems like a very simple first chapter, in which a man is beaten by a bunch of thugs who are using him to lure Jorge Maslow (also known as Blood, hence the name of the story) into a trap. Blood is some sort of super-cop and the thugs are tired of him putting them in jail. All seems normal, until Lionel - the bait - starts narrating about the aliens. Oh, the aliens.

The Finder story is probably my favorite in the volume, because it's a simple tale told well, with some nice gags about life in McNeil's universe. Plus, as an ex-courier myself (not the bike variety, but still), stories of courier hardship crack me up.

Gilbert's Mr. Monster comic is dedicated to Kirby and Lee, but it has a bit of Ditko in it, too. It's a silly story of Mr. Monster fighting the Tree That Walks Like a Man, and while fun, it's a bit slight. It has a nice Wally Wood Mad Magazine vibe, though.

Mike Richardson interviews Frank Miller about Xerxes and we get a few pages of the upcoming project. It sounds utterly ridiculous, but that's bound to be one of its strengths. Nice late-Miller expressionist art, too.

Harlan Ellison writes an odd story about a five-inch-tall man. It's wildly obvious, and its odd formalized style makes me glad I've never read any Ellison before.

The horror story by Richard Corben is pretty damned cool. It actually looks like some of it is really high-end computer rendering mixed with his idiosyncratic pencil style, and if I'm wrong, then he's really good at making it look that way. It's also a first chapter, so it's a bit clunky, but it promises some wild adventures. Although the girl's breasts, which hang straight down almost below her waist, is kind of weird.

The Star Wars story is apparently part of a larger tapestry, as it's continued in a new Dark Horse series later this year and seems to stem out of others prior to this. That's not too big of a problem - Stradley gets us caught up easily, and I like Gulacy's art, so that's cool - but it also doesn't make me desperate to get the rest of the story, which is probably the point. Oh well.

Snow Angel is about a girl who turns into a snow angel and helps people out. I don't get it.

Finally, the two gag strips by Patrick Alexander are amusing, but I would imagine that the brand of humor would get annoying if more than three or four more packaged together. They're kind of childish, so I read them like I occasionally listen to my daughter tell knock-knock jokes* - I smile and hope she loses interest quickly. I smiled at the strips and forgot them instantly.

So that's Dark Horse Presents. The art tends to be better than the writing, but it does provide a lot of nice entertainment and the hopes that some of these people - I'm thinking of Chaykin and Adams - can get some mojo back. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

* Sample knock-knock joke from Norah: "Knock-knock!" "Who's there?" "Daddy!" "Daddy who?" "Daddy sofa!" We all laugh at the hilarity, and then we repeat with some other random noun tacked onto the end. Five-year-olds are natural-born comedians, I tells ya!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Days Missing: Kestus #5 (of 5) ("Undone"/"The First Fold") by Phil Hester (writer, "Undone"), Trevor Roth (writer, "The First Fold"), David Marquez (artist), Digikore (colorist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). $3.95, 26 pgs, FC, Archaia/Roddenberry.

Hester does a nice job bringing the tale of Kestus to a satisfying conclusion while also opening up the possibility for more stories of the Steward. The Steward has been trying to make Kestus see that humanity can do marvelous things if only she joins him in shepherding them instead of trying to keep them down, and Hester has done a decent job making that volte-face sensible. In this issue, we're back at the Large Hadron Collider, and Kestus thinks she needs to slip back into her "villainous" ways, but the Steward remains steadfast in his belief that humans can evolve. It's a nice plot that gets a bit silly when, well, something strange happens (it's Collider Country, so the possibility of a new Big Bang is always there because of Comic Book Science™), but if we don't think about the science too much it's a nice ending to the saga and an interesting way to move forward. I don't know if there are any plans for more series about the Steward, but if there are, I hope Archaia gets Hester and Marquez to work on it, because they have given the book a nice feel and look to it. Marquez isn't the greatest artist, but he seems to do the historical and cosmic stuff well, which is not a bad thing for this kind of comic. I imagine Archaia will have a trade out soon enough, if you're interested. As this is partly from Roddenberry Productions, it's very much a weird science-fiction story, but Hester is a good enough writer that the Steward and Kestus are pretty compelling characters. That's never a bad thing.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Earp: Saints for Sinners #3 (of 4) by Matt Cirulnick (creator/storier), David Manpearl (creator), M. Zachary Sherman (writer), Colin Lorimar (artist), Kyushik Shin (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 23 pgs, FC, Radical Comics.

The fine folk at Radical keep sending me Earp: Saints for Sinners, even though I'm pretty sure it will be the worst comic book I read this year. So, thanks? It is actually interesting to read a comic this bad, because it's weird to see where it could have been at least a decent book, but it went the wrong way. This happens pretty much every time there's a choice - the creators make a bad one. If they don't need crappy dialogue to tell us what's going on, they do. If they could resist having Wyatt Earp bone the ingenue at the same moment his brother turns outlaw, they don't. If the artists can add another slick layer of digital painting and make everyone look even more plastic, they do. At several points in this series, you can see where it might have at least been entertaining, but just one line or one plot point or one more cardboard villain wrecked it. It's bizarre. So yeah - this is still terrible. Morgan Earp decides to join Jesse James to rob a truck and stick it to the Pinkertons, all while Wyatt Earp gives crappy speeches to Josephine about how it wouldn't be noble to bang her and then he ends up banging her anyway. We even get the stereotypical "movie sex" shot of Josephine sitting on top of Wyatt, her back arched backward to almost a ninety-degree angle, breasts high in the air, hair flying back like she stuck her finger in a socket. Such is the power of Wyatt Earp's virility!!!! And yes, the villain says stuff like "You're standing on the precipice, Wyatt. This is the line. If you cross it, there's no going back" and "You exist because I allow you to" and "Killing is easy. Controlling another man's destiny -- that's real power!" Because of course he does.

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fables #104 ("Super Team Chapter Three") by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

On the credits page, Joao Ruas claims that this cover is "after Maguire," implying that it's meant to be an homage to the old Justice League covers. That's fine, but I wonder why Ruas didn't show the team looking up at the audience, because it's not a terribly good homage as is. It's a fine cover, but not a very good homage. It's kind of weird.

Anyway, I hated the first seven pages of this issue. Not as I was reading them, you understand, but after I finished them and realized it was simply Pinocchio talking about how the Super Team would defeat Mr. Dark. I mean, really, Mr. Willingham? You're going to show seven pages of the team dreaming about how they're going to win? I guess it's to offset the fact that everyone in "reality" kind of knows they're going to lose, but it's still annoying and seems kind of like a waste of time and space. Willingham has never been all that concerned with the single issues and the fact that a lot of comic writers of the past felt the need to have action in a book even if it wasn't warranted, so why include it? Is it in fact an homage to those very old-school comic book writers who actually told the audience that the book was becoming too boring so they had to have a fight scene? (This used to occur quite often in Amazing Spider-Man, for instance.) Is Willingham, in putting together a "Silver Age" team of superheroes, not only referencing the make-up of those old teams but the format of the periodicals in which they appeared? Beats me. All I know is that I felt cheated when I reached Page 8 and saw that "it was all a dream."

So, yeah, the rest of the issue kicked ass. I guess Bigby is in trouble with his dad, if the solicitations are to be believed. And I hope Willingham makes Brock Blueheart's prediction come true, because it would be so wildly anticlimactic that it would, perversely, work.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Generation Hope #6 ("The Ward Part One") by Kieron Gillen (writer), Salvador Espin (artist), Jim Charalampidis (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

You know, if Gillen wants to write a mutant horror comic, I'm completely fine with that. After the fairly creepy first arc of Generation Hope, we get this issue, which begins a new storyline. First, we get that weird-ass cover by Mike del Mundo, who has a knack for this cover thing (he did the last two covers of S.W.O.R.D., both of which were excellent). Then, we get the title of the arc, "The Ward," which just sounds spooky. Then, Hope takes her team to Germany (the language of which is kind of inherently spooky, what with all the uvular sounds and hard "k"s and such - the German word for hospital, for instance, is "Krankenhaus," which just sounds nastier than "hospital") and finds a hospital - another spooky place, as movies show us (and movies are always true to life, right?) - in which weird stuff is happening. Finally, we have the pregnant woman at the end, and centuries of male-dominated cultures have made pregnancy, in the minds of men, something inherently other - men have a very limited role in pregnancy, and in most Western societies, man's notion of pregnancy is fraught with strangeness and exclusion, leading men, who like to be busybodies, to react unfavorably to the entire process. I'm not saying that's true today (although it might be for some), but it's part of the Judeo-Christian Northern European ethos, and horror writers before and after Gillen will make use of it. Gillen does it very effectively here. Add to that the fact that Kenji is still, well, weird, and that Douchebag Scott still doesn't trust Hope (that's his official title, don't you know), and we have a good atmosphere for a horror story. Whether Gillen will go full-on in that direction is TBD, but I like what he's doing with the book so far.

Espin's art is better than it was on the first arc. I can't explain it. Maybe he's getting into the feel of the characters. It's good to see, though.

The last thing is Kitty. I'm going to harp on this whenever she appears, and given that Gillen seems to like her, I assume she's going to appear a lot in this book and Uncanny X-Men. Someone needs to fix Kitty. Whatever creepy vibe the book builds up is almost completely undermined whenever Kitty shows up with that stupid 1950s sci-fi helmet on. I would love if one issue, Kitty shows up without the helmet on and when someone asks her what happens, she says, "Oh, yeah. Dr. Nemesis fixed that off-panel." And that's the fucking end of it. It's one of the dumber things I can remember in superhero comics recently, and it needs to go. Please, KG, end it quickly! I can't believe some muckety-muck at Marvel is so keen on the Lost in Space look that Gillen couldn't just get rid of it. Sheesh.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hellblazer #278 ("Phantom Pains Part Two: Lady Lazarus") by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouter), Stefano Landini (finisher), Trish Mulvihill (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

This is an odd issue of Hellblazer. It's not bad, but it's a bit scatter-shot. Usually Milligan's issues feel extremely focused, even if he's tying plot threads together, but after a focused first issue of this arc, Milligan reveals that it's a bit more far-ranging than we thought. John gets his thumb, but Epiphany has gone missing. John finds her and helps her with her problem, then learns more about the thumb and the person from whom he took it, and how his father-in-law is somehow involved. And, of course, there's Gemma, who's really going out to sea quickly. It's certainly a gripping issue, but it feels a bit more like the early Milligan Hellblazers, when he was setting up a lot of dominoes. He's doing that here, but it's better than those earlier issues because he's already so deep in the thick of his run that he doesn't need to work as hard. But it's still a weirdly unfocused issue. Again, not bad, just a bit all over the place. I can't say I'm not intrigued, though, so there's that.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Kill Shakespeare #10 (of 12) ("What's Past is Prologue") by Conor McCreery (writer), Anthony del Col (writer), Andy Belanger (artist), Ian Herring (colorist), and Chris Mowry (letterer). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, IDW.

Kill Shakespeare enters its final stages, as Hamlet, who last issue found Shakespeare, returns to the army disappointed (although I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the Bard) and Lady Macbeth shows her true colors (see below). It's still a fairly typical adventure/quest kind of story - the hero is thwarted when it seems like he's about to achieve his goals, the bad guy attacks in force, an important supporting character dies but gives the hero a new reason to go on - but McCreey and Del Col, like they've done throughout the story, tell it with a lot of energy, and Belanger continues to be dazzling on art. He writes a bit in the back about being inspired by Albrecht Dürer, who isn't a bad person to be inspired by, and he gives a lot of credit to Herring, which he deserves, because the colors on this book have been marvelous. Anyway, although this is unfolding in a somewhat stereotypical way, the creators are doing it very well, which is always a nice thing.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Malignant Man #1 (of 4) by James Wan (storier), Michael Alan Nelson (writer), Piotr Kowalski (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Boom! brings us another mini-series that sounds cool in concept and which I hope will live up to it in execution. Their track record is fair-to-middling in that regard, but I do like that they continue to try new things. Malignant Man is an action/adventure with a conspiracy twist, so it's not unique in that regard, but this first issue is a good start, mainly because of the high concept behind it: Alan is a man with a brain tumor and only a few weeks left to live. After he learns the chemotherapy isn't working, he sees a woman getting mugged in the park. When he intervenes, the mugger shoots him in the head. When the doctors start to operate, black tendrils come out of his brain, a woman steals him from the operating room and staples (!) the skin back onto his scalp, and gets him out of the hospital before some creepy Men in Black™ show up and start killing everyone. Well, except Alan and his rescuer, who get away. Then she tells him that he doesn't exactly have a brain tumor. But what could it be?!?!?!?!?

So it's a good start. The woman's name is Sarah, and in a flashback, we see that Alan did something horrible when he was a kid and that a girl named Sarah was involved (see below). I hope there's a connection, because I can't believe the writers would be that lazy to name two women Sarah. Anyway, Nelson's a pretty good writer for this sort of thing, and he keeps things buzzing along. Kowalski is a bit rough, but he has a more organic and fluid style than a lot of Boom! artists, so I appreciate it. It's not great pencil work, but Kowalski tells the story fine, and we're never lost. Bellaire does a nice job with the flashback and the aftermath of the hospital massacre, and of course, Benday dots are always a good thing. So while the art isn't going to change your religion, like the story, it buzzes right along.

Malignant Man is a pretty keen little comic. I don't know how it will turn out, but I'll let you know.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Sixth Gun #11 ("Crossroads Part Five") by Cullen Bunn (writer), Brian Hurtt (artist), and Bill Crabtree (colorist). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

Abhay has another weird, rambling post up, and I point it out because he's ostensibly writing about the first trade of The Sixth Gun. He's not the biggest fan of the comic, and that's fine, but what I always find interesting about Abhay (whom I don't know, so I can only glean this from his on-line persona, which may be partially or totally manufactured) is that he seems to worry a lot about what he likes and where it stands in popular culture in general and what it means to the bigger picture. I suspect that a lot of comics fans specifically or non-jocks in general have an inferiority complex occasionally about what they like, and in some cases, they twist this to proclaim how much better they are than everyone else because they knew all about Actor A back when he starred on "The Time-Leaping Time Lord of Denver" in 1977, well before he won an Oscar for The End of the Nostalgic Days of World War II When My Dear Old Mother Died of Cancer. This is known as the "Portland Problem vis-à-vis Seattle and San Francisco" - or it should be, at least. This is a weirdly childish problem to have, but many adults seem to suffer from it. Maybe I'm reading Abhay's essay incorrectly, but I'm not sure why it matters that The Sixth Gun is outside his zone of enjoyment and that calypso music is in it. Who cares? Of course, I have a Matthew Wilder song on my iPod, because I own the shitty pop culture of my youth, man! Again, maybe I'm misunderstanding Abhay's point. I do that a lot.

Anyway, I like The Sixth Gun, and if Bill Reed ever got off his ass and finished one of his posts, he could back me up on it! (As an aside, I'll let you in on a little secret. We have four pages of drafts that have never been finished behind the scenes here at the blog. I have a few, but most of them are by Bill and MarkAndrew. Those dudes would be prolific if they ever finished a post! We have some that MarkAndrew started back in 2007. I wish I could read some of the drafts, because the titles are kind of neat. Chad, Kelly, and Sonia don't have any. They're efficient!) Anyway, this issue ends the latest arc, and it's as good as ever - Bunn comes up with some nifty plot twists, Becky shows that she's not going to fall for a hunky dude who's good in the boudoir again, and while they clean up their latest adventure, there's plenty of weirdness to be had in future issues. I'm not happy with the über-plot about the end of the world, because we all know the world isn't going to end, but that's a minor complaint. Mostly I'm simply enjoying what Abhay seems to object to - the old-school storytelling that is building up the characters slowly but surely (I agree with Abhay that they are a bit stock, but that's not surprising - most stories start off with stock characters and become real characters through the work of the writer, including a comic that Abhay loves - the Scott Pilgrim books) and revealing more and more as we go along. As for Hurtt - well, he's phenomenal. There's really nothing more to say about that.

So I assume the next trade will be out soon, as it's already been solicited. I think this arc is a bit better than the first in terms of character work, while the first arc was a bit better in terms of straight-up insane action. Together, they make a really good comic. Or not. I'm just a guy with an opinion, after all.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Thunderbolts #156 by Jeff Parker (writer), Kev Walker (penciler/inker), Jason Gorder (inker), Frank Martin (colorist), Fabio D'Auria (colorist), and Albert Deschesne (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

As Our Dread Lord and Master pointed out, Parker promised to show Kev Walker's uncensored panel from this week's Thunderbolts if enough people visit his and Erika Moen's webcomic, "Bucko" (which, let's be honest, you should already be reading). As this is getting posted after the deadline, I don't know if enough people did visit, but that would be nice to see. Because who doesn't love seeing one big-breasted woman feeling up another big-breasted woman? Commies, that's who. (Go check out the censored panel over a 4thletter!) You know what I really love? The fact that Marvel doesn't want to show Satana putting her hands on Moonstone's fatty deposits even though they're covered up by a costume and I assume Walker didn't show anything really objectionable, like a titty-twister (although how funny would that be, just because Satana is such a scamp?), but they will show (you know what's coming) something like this. Yay, comics?

Anyway, this is a really interesting comic because of the different artists working on it. Walker inks his own work a lot, but recently, he's been getting "assisted" by Jason Gorder. Up until this issue, it hasn't been all that clear what pages or panels Gorder is doing, but I have to assume he's inking the "recruiting" pages in this issue while Walker handles the actual mission. That's not a bad idea - Parker is having the warden recruit potential members in the event of a death on the team and also because he feels the inmates actually need an incentive to be good - and because we shift back and forth between the mundane prison and the weird German castle where the Thunderbolts' mission is, it's a good way to show different styles of art. (A few things about the mission: We're told the castle is in Stuttgart, which is a fairly large city, so I suppose the castle could be in the vicinity of Stuttgart because it looks like it's in the middle of nowhere; Stuttgart is in no way in "Eastern Europe," which is where Luke Cage says the mission is; and the "ghosts" inside the castle are dressed like Prussians and Stuttgart is in Baden-Württemberg, which, during the time when Prussia was ascendant and those uniforms were in vogue was a huge deal - but I'm nitpicking again, so I'll stop.) There are also two credited colorists, and I assume Martin did the pages that are "on mission" while D'Auria works on the ones in the prison. The pages at the prison are still distinctly Walker's pencil work, but certain things are different - the lines on faces are more pronounced, for instance, giving the art a slightly harder edge. It's interesting seeing within the pages of the book how a different inker and colorist can affect the pencil work.

Oh, there's a story. Satana appears to be somewhat villainous (imagine that!) as Luke and the team enter a weird castle where ghost Prussians fire cannons at them and back at the prison, Songbird does something stupid (under orders, true, but still) that will certainly cause problems. As usual, it's a very entertaining comic. I'm glad Marvel protected me from the artwork, though. I feel much more wholesome now!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

X-Factor #218 by Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciler), Guillermo Ortego (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Hot damn, I love Emanuela Lupacchino's art. It's like Terry Dodson's with better and more varied faces.

Oh, and Peter David blah blah blah subplot blah blah blah death and not-death blah blah blah and regular plot blah blah blah Emanuela Lupacchino!!!!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

20th Century Boys volume 14 by Naoki Urasawa (writer/artist). $12.99, 226 pgs, BW, Viz Media.

Boy, I hope this volume has a major revelation that changes everything we know about the events of Bloody New Year's Eve but ultimately doesn't move the story forward. Wait, that happens in every volume? Whoops.

(I'm only joking, for the most part. I really like this manga, even though it seems to be spinning its wheels just slightly. Was it the end of volume 12 where that thing happened that seemed like now we can move on and get some answers? You know what I'm talking about! That seemed to breathe some fresh life into the series, and I'm keen to read this volume.)

Red Hulk: Scorched Earth by Jeff Parker (writer), Gabriel Hardman (artist), Ed McGuinness (penciler), Mark Robinson (penciler), Ben Oliver (artist), Dexter Vines (inker), Terry Pallot (inker), Bettie Breitweiser* (colorist), Jim Charalampidis (colorist), Morry Hollowell (colorist), Antonio Fabela (colorist), Frank Martin (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $19.99, 177 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Issues #25-30 were, if I recall, each 4 dollars. So you paid 24 dollars for the issues, yet this is 20 dollars and doesn't have any advertisements (and I'm sure it's cheaper on Amazon). I know I'm still clinging to singles, but man! that's like getting an issue for free. Do the BMOC at DC and Marvel wonder why people are abandoning single issues? I'm sure the trade market has something to do with it!

* If you're that kind of male person, check out Breitweiser at that Tumblr thing. She's quite the cutie, and she actually looks good with Bettie Page bangs.

The Klondike by Zach Worton (writer/artist). $24.95, 332 pgs, BW, Drawn & Quaterly.

Well, this looks cool. And, of course, as it's historical fiction, I'm all over it like JaMarcus Russell on a cupcake. It has maps, people! MAPS!!!!!!

The Martian Confederacy: From Mars With Love (volume 2) by Jason McNamara (writer) and Paige Braddock (artist). $15.00, 149 pgs, BluW, Girl Twirl Comics.

I've been waiting for this for a while. Jason McNamara is a hell of a nice guy, plus he tells good stories about weird people he knows (even though on his web page, he quotes me and incorrectly attributes it to Brian). Plus, the first volume featured a bear using one land shark as a weapon against a second land shark. Who knows what's in this volume?

Safe Area Goražde: The Special Edition by Joe Sacco (writer/artist). $29.99, 254 pgs, BW, Fantagraphics.

After I read and loved Footnotes in Gaza, I had to get this, right? It looks pretty flippin' awesome, plus for this edition, there's a lot of frontmatter by Sacco in which he discusses the circumstances in Bosnia in the early 1990s. Plus, Christopher Hitchens provides an introduction, and with Hitchens, there's always a chance for entertaining douchebaggery.

So anyway, I've been watching Happy Endings on ABC, because, well, I've had a crush on Elisha Cuthbert since the first season of 24 because, well, you know. So in one of the episodes this week (ABC is apparently burning them off even though it just premiered), Cuthbert's character is talking to a friend who wants her to start dating again (after she ditched her boyfriend at the altar). The friend asks her why she's not dating and then asks what would happen if she was trapped in the mountains with a cougar. Cuthbert responds that that would be insane, and why would that ever happen? It's not a great show, but since they made fun of the infamous cougar episode in the second season of 24, it gets points. Watch it here!

Let's check out The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. "Ooh La La" - Faces (1973) "You'll have to learn, just like me, and that's the hardest way"2. "It Can Happen" - Yes (1983) "This world I like, we architects of life"3. "Heat of the Moment" - Asia (1982) "And now you find yourself in '82; the disco hot spots hold no charm for you"4. "Face Down" - Prince (1996) "Ain't that a bitch? Thinkin' all along that he wanted to be rich; never respected the root of all evil and he still don't to this day"5. "All Apologies" - Nirvana (1993) "I wish I was like you - easily amused"6. "Excitable" - Def Leppard (1987) "This obsession, it's getting inviting"7. "Nothin' But a Good Time" - Poison (1988) "I'm really sorry about the shape I'm in, I just like my fun every now and then"18. "Scenario" - A Tribe Called Quest (1991) "Brothers front, they say the Tribe can't flow but we've been known to do the impossible like Broadway Joe"9. "Drunken Boat" - Pogues (1993) "If we turned the table upside down and sailed around the bed, clamped knives between our teeth and tied bandannas round our heads; with the wainscot our horizon and the ceiling as the sky, you'd not expect that anyone would go and fucking die"10. "Jack the Ripper" - LL Cool J (1987) "When you wanna make hits, you make 'em like this; they ain't like this they don't hit, they miss"2

1 That sound you hear is Dan weeping into his beer when he realizes those two songs came up on my iPod.2 I didn't know this was part of a feud between LL and Kool Moe Dee. I love rap feuds. They're so weird.

So here's a Totally Random Movie Quote. Some of you are totally cheating and looking these up, aren't you? That's fine, but I'm afraid you might have to turn in your nerd card. That just wouldn't do, would it?????

"In real life I could be that anonymous nerd sitting across from you in chem lab, staring at you so hard. Then when you turn around he tries to smile, but the smile just comes out all wrong. You just think, How pathetic. Then he just looks away, and never looks back at you again."

Long-time readers of this here blog know that I rarely link to the blog I write about my daughters, but I definitely link to it once a year around this time, because around this time of year is when I write about my older daughter's progress over the past year. If you're curious how Mia is doing or why on earth I feel the need to write about her progress, I invite you to check it out. I always try to be cheery! I do mention the upheaval to come, about which I'll write more next week. Look at that teaser!

Just like George, I know to go out on a high note. Have a nice day, everyone!

Altered Carbon: Download Blues HC

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