What I bought - 24 January and 1 February 2012

Despair and idleness are, I think, the chief motives for religious devotion. When we have nothing on earth to do or hope for we gaze at the sky. We kiss the holy ikons because we have nothing better to kiss. (Lawrence Durrell, from Pope Joan)

Green Wake #9 ("Lost Children Part 4") by Kurtis Wiebe (writer), Riley Rossmo (artist), and Kelly Tindall (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Image/Shadowline.

Wiebe continues to write a creepy comic and give us just enough concrete information to keep us interested. There's still a lot of weird stuff going on, but Micah and Morley take a journey that explains some things and also presents Morley with a vision (we get a beautiful splash page with something very bizarre that, apparently, flashes through his mind), which is nice. Krieger, meanwhile, has his own problems back in Green Wake. We still don't know quite what's happening with the kids, but again, we get some good hints about it, and presumably we'll learn more next issue, which is the end of the story arc. It's difficult to get too much into what's going on, mostly because I don't want to spoil too much but also because Wiebe is doing a good job balancing creating the atmosphere and moving the plot. Rossmo is excellent, as usual, so there's that.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Kirby: Genesis #5 ("From Out of the Depths") by Kurt Busiek (writer), Jack Herbert (artist), Alex Ross (artist), Vinicius Andrade (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

I'm not sure why Kirby: Genesis has been delayed, but it has, and it's too bad. Busiek is telling a grand space epic, and Herbert and Ross do nice work with the art, but as always with delayed comics, I wonder if the scheduling will hurt the comic. We'll see.

Anyway, Busiek has always been really good at writing big-ass superhero battles with a ton of characters that are nevertheless easy to follow, and he manages to do that here, even with characters we aren't as familiar with as we are with the Big Two's heroes. So even though a lot of characters are bashing each other, we can easily tell who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Busiek also throws in a creation myth for us, which is a fairly standard story of superpowered beings trying to guide humanity and being disappointed because humans are such douchebags. It's nothing original, but it's fun epicness, and sets the stage for the rest of the series.

I do enjoy Kirby: Genesis quite a bit, even though it's not all that innovative. The combination of Herbert's good pencils with Ross's painted stuff works very well, and Busiek is enjoying himself. Let's make sure those issues come out a little more consistently, shall we?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Sixth Gun #18 ("A Town Called Penance Part One") by Cullen Bunn (writer), Brian Hurtt (artist), Bill Crabtree (colorist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

I was a bit disappointed with the last story arc, especially the ending, because I felt that Bunn was spinning his wheels a bit too much, but "Penance" begins well, as we discover what happened to Drake when he fell out of the train and Becky arrives in a shitty little Western town looking for him. Drake's predicament is interesting because he knows the men who found him when he fell out of the train, and they're not too happy to see him. Meanwhile, Becky kicks ass in town and finds an unlikely and perhaps untrustworthy ally. It's an intriguing set-up, and I wonder if the weakness of the last arc was that Drake wasn't in it all that much - he's an interesting character, and Bunn writes good chemisty between Drake and Becky even when they're not together.

Hurtt does his usual excellent job, and he does particularly nice work when he gets to show the underground town where Drake's captors live. It's eerie and frightening but also weirdly beautiful, mainly because of the treasure tossed casually around. Hurtt has to populate the town with Western stereotypes, too, and he does a good job with that, twisting them just enough so that the characters are more disturbing than we might like.

I'm always jazzed to see a new story arc on books I like, because of all the possibilities, but I'm particularly jazzed to see a new one when the preceding one wasn't great, so I'm excited that Bunn and Hurtt have moved on. We'll see if they can put the last story arc in the rear view and continue to make The Sixth Gun such a good comic.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Manara Library volume 2: El Gaucho and Other Stories by Milo Manara (artist), Hugo Pratt (writer, "El Gaucho"), Mino Milani (writer, "Trial by Jury"), Laura Battaglia (colorist, "El Gaucho"), Kim Thompson (translator), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), and Lois Buhalis (letterer). $59.99, 280 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I wasn't that impressed with the first Manara hardcover, which included "Indian Summer" by Pratt and "The Paper Man" by Manara himself. "Indian Summer" was full of stereotypes and wasn't all that interesting, to boot. "The Paper Man" was better, but ended on an oddly depressing note that seemed to be off-tone a bit. Anyway, I still love Manara's art, so I'm giving the second volume a chance! I'll actually review this one briefly, and I hope it's better than the first one!

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long (writer), Jim Demonakos (writer), and Nate Powell (artist). $16.99, 199 pgs, BW, First Second Books.

Powell's art was a big draw for me on this book, but I am intrigued by the story of a white and black family in 1960s Texas trying to come to terms with the civil rights movement. Sounds like my kind of comic!

Avengers Academy #25 ("Class Reunion") by Christos Gage (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Cory Hamscher (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I'm waiting for the trade of Daredevil, as some of you may recall (Marvel used to be fairly good about getting things out in trade, but recently they're approaching DC-like slowness), but whenever I read reviews of it, it sounds like people are impressed because it's old-fashioned superheroing. That's all well and good, but is that a reason to love it so much? I mean, the Marvel books this week have a two-page advertisement about DD, with quotes-aplenty about its greatness. I'm sure it's good - I mean, Waid, Rivera, and Martin are good creators, so duh - but let's consider poor little Avengers Academy, which probably hangs out at the soda shop and puts grease in its hair because it's so old-fashioned. Gage is simply out there telling a really good superhero saga - it might not blow your socks off, but it entertains, it excites, and it keeps us guessing. Wait, there's a creature linked to ROM, the Space Knight? You don't say! Wait, Reptil is really Reptil from the future and he wants to allow several characters to get killed just so his future comes true? Well, what about that? Wait, Reptil is calling in reinforcements and it's yet another shock? I see! In the best 1970s/1980s tradition, Gage manages to have an entire issue devoted to fight against the horrible, horrible bad guy yet he also manages to work in some nice character moments, especially between Reptil and Finesse. Gage gets to write some obvious-yet-too-often-overlooked stuff like the fact that Hank Pym is really, really smart, and he does pull a nice surprise out to defeat the bad guy, which leads to yet another story arc. Grummett, more than McKone or Raney, might be the perfect artist for this series, because, as I mentioned last time, he seems to know how to draw young-ish characters better. Of course, like the other artists who have worked on this book, he does straight-up superheroing very well - this book won't challenge anyone in the "great artists" contest, but it's very easy to read (which, let's be honest, is not always the case with superhero books). There's just a lot going on in this comic, and Gage makes it seem effortless. I'm looking forward to reading Daredevil, but can anyone who's reading both of these books tell me what makes it that much better than Avengers Academy? I'm quite curious.

Here's another reason to switch to trades: Have you noticed how poorly comics are constructed these days? Not for the first time recently, a staple in my issue was bent awkwardly and almost came loose. It's very annoying. I own comics from thirty years ago that are sturdier than some modern comics. No wonder people like trades better! Sheesh, Marvel, get it together!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dark Horse Presents #8. "B.P.R.D.: An Unmarked Grave" by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Duncan Fregedo (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer); "Beasts of Burden: The View from the Hill" by Evan Dorkin (writer), Jill Thompson (artist), and Jason Arthur (letterer); "Concrete Park Chapter 2" by Tony Puryear (writer/artist); "Blood Chapter 7" by Neal Adams (writer/artist) and Moose (colorist); "Marked Man Chapter 8" by Howard Chaykin (writer/artist), Jesus Aburto (colorist), and Ken Bruzenak (letterer); "The Once and Future Tarzan Chapter 1" by Alan Gordon (writer), Thomas Yeates (artist/colorist), Lori Almeida (colorist), and John Workman (letterer); "The Massive: North Sea--1995" by Brian Wood (writer), Kristian Donaldson (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer); "Time to Live" by Martin Conaghan (writer) and Jimmy Broxton (artist); "The Many Murders of Miss Cranbourne Chapter 1" by Rich Johnston (writer), Simon Rohrmüller (artist), and Jim Reddington (letterer); "Skultar Chapter 2: The Questionable" by M. J. Butler (writer) and Mark Wheatley (artist). $7.99, 80 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

As usual, I totally dig DHP, because even the crap is fascinating, and there's not a lot of that, which is nice. In this issue, we get a "dead Hellboy" story that I don't get in the least. Two women discuss Hellboy and his "death," but Mignola and Arcudi make it sound like the world has ended and everyone is just holding on. Did I miss something in the Hellboy-verse? I'm a few years behind because I read the series in Library Edition sizes, but it's just a weird story. But it's interesting, and Fregedo draws it, so it's still worth a look. That's true of "Concrete Park," which remains intriguing even though I have no idea what's going on, "Blood," which keeps getting more and more insane but not exactly any better, "Marked Man," which comes to a fairly unsatisfying end, and "Time to Live," which is the worst kind of time travel story (meaning its only hook is the time travel that leads to a "shocking" but fairly conventional ending) but is, at least, quick. But in between we get an unsettling Beasts of Burden ghost story; the first chapter of a fascinating Tarzan story beautifully drawn by Yeates; the first part of Wood's "The Massive," in which a man stands on an oil rig that is struck by a rogue wave and somehow survives, which points him in a new life direction; and the second chapter of "Skultar," in which Zakurai tries to keep up the pretense that Skultar is still alive, to hilarious results. The highlight of the book, for me, is Johnston's chapter about a kindly old lady who slaughters people she doesn't think are worthy to live. It's an old concept, but Johnston's script is nice and witty and Rohrmüller's oddball art works well in the setting. It seems that it's a lot darker than we think from Johnston's light handling of this initial script, but we'll see.

Anyway, it's another excellent issue of DHP. As Johnston points out on Bleeding Cool, it's like getting a DC or Marvel book for $1.99, so why not give it a look, especially because the content is almost always as good as or far better than what you'll find in a DC or Marvel comic?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fatale #2 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips, and Dave Stewart (colorist). $3.50, 27 pgs, FC, Image.

We stay in the past (after the present-set "prologue" of issue #1), as we learn more about Hank, his obsession with Josephine, Walter and his problems, and the mysterious organization of red-robed creeps. Walter meets "the Bishop," who doesn't seem like a particularly nice ... let's say person just for the hell of it, and he makes a dastardly deal with said Bishop. I'm uncomfortable with the way the book ends, but I'm willing to withhold judgment until next issue, when we find out what happens. Meanwhile, I'm always curious if the characters in certain kinds of fiction live in a world where that kind of fiction exists. For instance, does Hank live in a world where various authors have already written noir fiction, and therefore can't he see that getting involved with someone like Josephine will lead to no good? Brubaker addresses this in the book when he describes Hank as not thinking anything he's doing as wrong, but I'm curious if, when he's not with Josephine, he thinks to himself, "Man, I'm in a noir book - I need to resist!" Plus, I like how his friend actually points out the lipstick smear on his collar (and I always love that cliché, because when does a woman ever kiss someone so pointedly on the collar to leave such a perfect imprint?) but Hank doesn't care to wipe it away - such is his douchebaggery!

I'm having some fun with this, but it really is a good read. That's to be expected, but it's impressive how Brubillips can manage to take such simple tropes and spin so many compelling stories out of them. Fatale is another one, and so far, it's quite good.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

X-Factor #231 ("They Keep Killing Madrox Chapter Three") by Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciler), Guillermo Ortego (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Much like Avengers Academy up there, X-Factor keeps chugging along, entertaining the hell out of its readers and barely entering the consciousness of those who don't read it (David's been doing it longer, of course, but who knows how long Marvel will let Gage truck along?). Madrox finds himself in a world where Wanda said "No more humans" rather than "No more mutants," and Tony Stark is wearily trying to help all the humans that are left to survive, but things like Deathlok Captain America (there he is on the cover!) and his master, Mr. Tryp, keep interfering. It appears that David is going to have Madrox stick around in this world for a bit because Stark wants his help, Tryp wants to "rescue" him, and everything is set up, but David, as he does, pulls the rug out from under us on the last page. Tryp does speak of the "separation" between the worlds getting thinner, so perhaps next issue (the big finale!) will bring all the elements of the various worlds he's already passed through together somehow, but we'll have to wait and see, won't we? Mostly, this is just another very good superhero book. Lupacchino kills on it, of course.

David talks about the House of M thing, and once again, it makes my head hurt that Wanda said "No more mutants" but there are still mutants. I imagine this was addressed somewhere, but it's still stupid. Anyway, can someone at Marvel just magic-wand that thing away yet? I mean, it's been years, and it's as stupid as it ever was. Sheesh. I hate M-day.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Batman: Gates of Gotham by Scott Snyder (story), Kyle Higgins (story/scripter), Ryan Parrott (scripter), Trevor McCarthy (artist), Graham Nolan (artist), Dustin Nguyen (artist), Derec Donovan (artist), Guy Major (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $14.99, 120 pgs, FC, DC.

I've heard good and bad things about this series. It looks pretty cool, is all I can say. Good art all around. More later, when I actually read it!


I don't have much to write about the Watchmen news this week. Whatever, say I. I think I've made it pretty clear around here that I've moved on from stuff like this, and while I still love superhero books when they're done well, fucking a dead horse isn't my idea of entertainment (doing it or watching it). DC wants the money, the creators want the money, let's sell something based solely - and I do mean solely - on the fact that people are nostalgic. It's not the worst marketing strategy, but if it ever worked on me (I'm not sure it did), it doesn't any longer. I'll wait until Palmiotti and Conner's creator-owned book comes out to check out her art, thank you very much. Caleb has some thoughts, some of which I agree with and some of which I don't, but he wins the Internet today for his thoughts about Joe Kubert, because he's totally right.

As you may have remembered, I went on vacation over the weekend. One of my friends turned 40 on Sunday, and she said last summer that there was no way she was turning 40 in Pennsylvania in January, so she was heading to Key West and anyone who wanted to come was welcome. My wife and I haven't had a solo vacation in a bit over five years, so I asked my parents if they could babysit, and off we went! We left Arizona on the red-eye on Wednesday night, landed in West Palm Beach on Thursday morning (it was cheaper than flying directly to Key West), and drove down to the island on Friday, where we stayed until Tuesday morning, when we drove back to Palm Beach and flew back to Phoenix. We had a very good time, and I can't remember the last time I drank as much alcohol in such a short period of time. I didn't feel too bad, either, which was surprising. Two things I did that were particularly fun - I rented a scooter and zipped around on Saturday afternoon, which was a ton of fun, and on Sunday, we all went on a modified pub crawl: We decided to drink the bar's specialty drink, if they had one (not just a rum drink, but one that the bar claimed as its own), eat their conch fritters (conch fritters are the big thing down there), and eat their key lime pie and then judge them all. We did this for 8 hours on Sunday and had a total blast. We discovered that the best conch fritters were at the Conch Shack, mainly because the sauce was superb (conch fritters all taste pretty much the same), we couldn't really decide on the best key lime pie (and we ate a lot of it!), and the best specialty drink was the "Winning Lottery Ticket" at Pat Croce's Rum Barrel, which isn't on the menu. If you happen to be in Key West, stop by the Rum Barrel and ask for Jeff. He created the Winning Lottery Ticket, and it is absolutely superb. I had never been to Key West, so I'm glad we went. It's always good to get away from the children every now and then!

Only one link today, but it's a good one: 50 vintage pin-ups. Not bad at all!

We barely turned on the television over the weekend (why would we?), but on Tuesday morning, before we left Key West, I had it on briefly. Showdown in Little Tokyo was on. If you have never seen Showdown in Little Tokyo, you're missing out. It's one of the most awesomely bad movies you're ever going to see. If you've seen They Live, it's kind of like that in terms of badness - bad dialogue, bad acting, bad camera work, bad story, but awesome when you put all those things together. Plus, Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee try to outdo each other with their bad wardrobes. Man, it's awesome. Tia Carrere's in it, too (she gets nekkid, not surprisingly), and it reminded me that I really need to watch True Lies again now that I've driven US 1 down to Key West, because I want to see how they filmed that sucker. Technically, it's impressive, because there's just not a lot of room to maneuver.

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

1. "Down and Out" - Genesis (1978) "I don't want to beat about the bush but none of us are getting any younger"2. "Exit" - U2 (1987) "Hand in the pocket, finger on the steel; the pistol weighed heavy, his heart he could feel"3. "Groove Is in the Heart" - Deee-Lite (1990) "He's not vicious or malicious just dee-lovely and delicious"14. "Life Going By" - King's X (1996) "I've sat there in awe and I've seen myself fall and I've felt the full light of the day"5. "Mayday (M'aidez)" - People in Planes (2008) "I love your stranglehold, I need your stranglehold"6. "Gone" - Pearl Jam (2006) "For the lights of this city, they only look good when I'm speeding"7. "The Last Mile" - Cinderella (1988) "I guess I've always been a traveling man, 'cause when I'm movin' I can make a stand"28. "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" - Soggy Bottom Boys (2000) "And you may learn to love another while I am sleeping in my grave"9. "Spreading the Disease" - Queensrÿche (1988) "Selling skin, selling God, the numbers look the same on the credit card"310. "Whisper" - Morphine (1995) "I know it drives you crazy when I pretend you don't exist, when I'd like to lean in close and run my hands against your lips"4

1 Bootsy and Tip FTMFW!

2 Long Cold Winter is an underrated album, as it has some excellent songs on it, including this one. Sure, the lyrics are clichéd, but Tom Keifer's raspy voice makes them work, somehow.

3 I can't find an "official" video for that song, so that's a live show ... and the site, I assume, bleeped the word "fuck." Really?

4 Who doesn't love Morphine?

I'm still trying to get caught up, so I'll have some reviews of the various trades I got in January, plus some longer reviews of original graphic novels, and it's Previews week ... man, I have a lot to do. See how much I love you guys, that I subject you to all this content????? Have a wonderful day!

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