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What I bought – 26 August 2015

by  in Comic News Comment
What I bought – 26 August 2015

“Wherever you will find empty land, there are men who try to get closer to God.” (Don DeLillo, from The Names)

New Mgmt #1 by Matt Kindt (writer/artist), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Brendan Wright (editor). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

This is Mind Mgmt #36, really, and Dark Horse seems stupid for releasing it as “New Mgmt #1″ (even if what’s Kindt wanted – I haven’t seen him in a while, but if I ever see him again, I’ll ask him what the deal is), because what if people are just cruising around the comics shoppe, like you do, and they see this and think, “Hey, it’s a #1 issue – maybe I’ll check this out!” and then they realize it’s the final issue of a long-running series and, being irrational (they’re voting for Trump!), they get really angry and tell all their friends that comics suck and the entire medium goes in the toilet. IT COULD HAPPEN!!!1!!!1!!!! Okay, maybe they should have read the words “Final Issue!” on the sweet Geof Darrow (I went outside the regular cover motif for this final issue because I couldn’t pass up that sweet Geof Darrow cover, could I?), but hey, they’re voting for Trump – they can’t be too bright. My point is that this is weird. WEIRDNESS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED IN COMICS, DAMN IT!!!!1!!!1!!!

Anyway, this is the final issue, which means Kindt resets things a bit after last issue’s apocalyptic showdown. You know how it is – some series end with the confrontation and give you nothing after that, while some finish things up in the penultimate issue and then show us what happens next. Kindt does that, and it’s very nice – he shows what Meru and the others have done, but he twists things just enough at the end to freak us all out. It’s a typically beautiful issue, and Kindt makes sure the surviving characters get some nice moments before he wraps things up. Much like the three years of issues before it, it’s a very good issue. I know, shocking.

Kindt brings up some interesting things on the “letters page,” which is devoted to him thanking the many people who helped bring Mind Mgmt to discerning readers for the past three years. He writes that he really wanted to do a serialized story that worked as a serialized story, and he claims Mike Richardson greenlit the project when “monthly comics was a dying art form.” Is that incorrect subject-verb agreement? I seriously don’t know. Anyway, that was only a few years ago. Has anything changed? Is Kindt right? I don’t think he is, as much as I’d like for single issues to die. But he writes as if Mind Mgmt started in a long ago time, before the Internet and possibly before cars. It’s kind of weird. He also writes that if Mind Mgmt hadn’t succeeded, he would have found another vocation. I seem to recall hearing this before, and I find it difficult to believe. When Kindt started Mind Mgmt, he was already writing for DC, wasn’t he? I mean, I don’t really love Kindt writing books that he’s not drawing, but wouldn’t that be good enough for him to make a living while he toils away on a series he both writes and draws? Kindt seems to work really fast, so even if he had to do that in his off-hours, it’s not like we’d never get a new Kindt book. I totally sympathize with him wanting a “regular” job – supporting a kid is hard, man! – but I’m just glad Mind Mgmt sold well enough (I will not call it a “hit,” because the sales threshold was pretty low and I don’t know how far he exceeded it) that we got more Kindt comics, because Matt Kindt is a phenomenal comics creator. He has written/drawn three of the best graphic novels of this century, and I would put Mind Mgmt up against any long-form series as well. It’s not only about quantity with him, but insane quality. So it’s nice that he’s still working in comics.

Anyway, buy Mind Mgmt any way you can. It’s keen.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Maxx: Maxximized #22 by Dennis Heisler (letterer), Sam Kieth (story/artist), William Messner-Loebs (scripter), Ronda Pattison (colorist), Jim Sinclair (finisher), Michael Benedetto (assistant editor), and Scott Dunbier (editor). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW.

Man, The Maxx is a weird comic. I have no idea where Kieth is going with the story, and I don’t want anyone to spoil it, because it’s just so bizarre that I can’t imagine what’s going to happen. Kieth seems to be plumbing psychological depths in this comic that he continued to do in creator-owned stuff like My Inner Bimbo (which is terrifically weird, but not as good as this), and the sprawling nature of the serial really allows him to introduce a lot of bizarre people and just smash them into each other. It’s a gorgeous comic (and I haven’t seen the originals, but I imagine Pattison does a few tweaks with the coloring, like the dappling on Gone’s body when he’s fishing, that adds some nuances to the work), and it’s just downright odd. But I still dig it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Infinite Loop #5 (of 6) by Elsa Charretier (artist/colorist), Rose Citron (color flatter), Pierrick Colinet (writer/letterer), John Lankry (color flatter), and Sarah Gaydos (editor). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW.

This came out last week, but Diamond shorted my retailer, so he didn’t get it until this week. I kind of wish I had gotten the other cover. Look at this gorgeous piece of work (by Laurent Lefeuvre):

I really like Elsa Charretier, but that cover is pretty awesome.

Anyway, I’ve mentioned this with regard to The Infinite Loop before, but it rears its head again: this is a good science fiction story hamstrung by its politics. The story of Teddy discovering her love for “Ano” and trying to save her but finding out that forces are conspiring against her is a fine one, and Colinet’s use of time travel and other dimensions is interesting because it means that Teddy can’t even trust “herself,” as she has met other versions of herself, some of whom know – or think they know – what’s going to happen if she doesn’t “delete” Ano and instead loves her. That’s a good story, and for the most part, Colinet manages to hint at the disapproval of same-sex relationships that is at the core of the book. It’s still too bad that Charretier has included a summary of the plot in every issue, including the first one, about how the book is about same-sex relationships in a world that doesn’t approve of them, because that’s something for the writer to include in the story and for the readers to discover on their own, but such is life. Colinet has done a decent job not letting his politics overwhelm the story, but he hasn’t always accomplished it, and in this issue, there’s a weird scene that feels jammed in just so he can lecture us. Teddy and Ulysses find a storage facility where they believe Ano is, and they meet a person named Andromeda. In this strange, future world, squares of light pass through Andromeda and change his/her gender, from a boy to a girl (Ulysses prepares us for this when he first sees her/him, as he can’t determine his/her gender from far away). Ulysses asks what just happened, and while he asks it somewhat clumsily, it’s clear that it is something that’s “happening” to Andromeda – the squares pass through her/him and change his/her gender) – not something that she’s doing her/himself. She flips out at him, and for a few panels, we get Andromeda lecturing Ulysses on things he didn’t even ask about. It’s clear Colinet wants to bring up gender fluidity and shoot down any naysayers, and that’s fine, but it’s handled really poorly, because this is, after all, a science fiction story, and we actually see Andromeda change gender when weird yellow squares pass through him/her. Colinet has done this before in this comic, and it’s too bad, because the way he’s telling Teddy and Ano’s story is good enough to show, metaphorically, that her same-sex relationship is forbidden (no one seems bothered by Teddy’s relationship with a woman, just that the “woman” shouldn’t technically exist, and that’s why Teddy is pushing back against society … but we know it’s really about what “society” deems “normal,” so the metaphor works fine). Inserting a soapbox into the story is clunky, and it grinds everything to a halt. Oh well.

Still, it’s a good penultimate issue, and Charretier’s art is as staggering as ever. She needs more work, and I hope she gets it. I’m curious about how Colinet will wrap everything up, but that’s for next issue, ain’t it?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Ragnarök #6 (“Homecoming”) by Laura Martin (colorist), Walter Simonson (writer/artist), John Workman (letterer), and Scott Dunbier (editor). $3.99, 20 pgs, FC, IDW.

Much like James Stokoe drawing Godzilla (or, you know, anything), I never have much to say about this, because it’s Walt Motherfucking Simonson writing and drawing motherfucking Thor. I mean, yes, this issue ends the first chapter of the saga, as Thor finally returns to Asgard, finds a lot of dead people, and fights a minion of Surtr who has been imbued with fire powers, and the revenge-wanting elf dude is still out there (and is part of either one of the most hilarious or most horrifying murders EVER in comics, depending on your point of view – I thought it was hilarious), but come on – it’s WALT SIMONSON WRITING AND DRAWING THOR. I don’t really think I need to say any more.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Valhalla Mad #4 (of 4) (“Finality Now!”) by Joe Casey (writer), Paul Maybury (artist/colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

I’m not sure if Valhalla Mad was supposed to be four issues or if it’s just not selling well enough, but it ends with this issue, and it never really came together too well, did it? The idea of Thor, Hogun the Grim (I guess – Greghorn seems to be too bitter to be an analog of Fandral), and Volstagg visiting Earth and drinking and eating a lot is a pretty good one, but it just never seemed to form into something good. The Glorious Knox got sidetracked by the return of a villain, which led Casey to write a great deal about the abuse of power, the line between good and evil, and redemption, but something is missing from it. It’s partly the faux-Shakespearean verbiage and cadence to the prose, which is annoying no matter when it appears and is odd when placed against Akumo’s earthy, contemporary words. It’s partly that Maybury just isn’t a good fit for the comic, as his thick lines and somewhat abstract style don’t seem to work well with the subject matter. There’s not much of a sense of majesty about the “gods,” and Maybury doesn’t do action very well, so when Knox is fighting off the hordes of mind-controlled humans who attack him, it doesn’t feel as thunderous and powerful as it would be with another artist doing it. I’m not a huge fan of Maybury’s art, but it has its place, and this book didn’t seem to be it.

Whether Valhalla Mad was planned as four issues or not, it feels like a missed opportunity. Casey’s ability to take existing properties – or at least their analogs – and add modern spins to them while still telling a good story is one of his strengths, but he misses the mark here. It’s a shame.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Surface Tension #4 (of 5) (“Choices”) by Jimmy Betancourt (letterer), Albert Deschesne (letterer), Jay Gunn (writer/artist), Kirsten Murray (assistant editor), and Andrew James (editor). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, Titan Comics.

Gunn explains a lot in this issue, which is nice, as explanations are always good, although not everyone can pull them off. He doesn’t have a lot of room – only 5 issues – so when the explanation came, you kind of knew it would be an infodump (or, as Chad Nevett once called it, an “infodumb”). Gunn, however, has given us enough over the first 3 issues so that the explanation lasts only a few pages, which is nice, and his art is so amazing that the infodump looks great – Gunn uses some full-page spreads with a few panels sprinkled over them to tell the story, and it’s gorgeous. He sets up the finale pretty well (even though this issue ends really abruptly), and it will be interesting to see where he goes with it. The explanation itself is fine – it’s somewhat typically a pro-environment tale and the world fighting back, with some interesting twists thrown in – but of course it will be how Gunn pulls it all together. Isn’t that always the way?

I do like the dude who can quote long passages of John Donne (even an abridged version!). Not much to do on the island, I guess, except catch up on your reading. Good for him!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Batman ’66 #26 (“Poison Ivy’s Deadly Kiss”) by Wes Abbott (letterer), Kelly Fitzpatrick (colorist), Jesse Hamm (artist), Jeff Parker (writer), David Piña (assistant editor), and Jim Chadwick (group editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC. Batman and Jim Gordon created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Robin and Alfred Pennyworth created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and Bob Kane. Poison Ivy created by Robert Kanigher (of course!) and Sheldon Moldoff.

There’s always a weird sexual subtext when Poison Ivy shows up, even if the writers don’t actively pursue it. It’s kind of ingrained in her character – she’s a femme fatale with particular hots for Batman, and the fact that she doesn’t wear clothes, just strategically placed leaves, is of course a big part of that. Which is why it’s doubly strange to read a Batman ’66 story with her, mainly because the comic is ostensibly for all-ages – I mean, there’s been nothing in it that would lead children to ask pointed questions of their parents, which is why parents want to restrict their kids’ reading anyway*. But you can’t really get around it when it comes to Ivy, so we get the “Jupiter flytrap” in this issue, which is a giant version of the Venus flytrap (get it?). I mean, a Venus flytrap is sexual enough, but a giant vagina eating two men, including a (presumably) virginal boy – hoo boy. Good stuff there! Of course, Ivy ends the story by laying a big kiss on our hero, which causes Robin’s eyes to pop (I always wondered if Robin was jealous of Batman or the girl kissing him, as even when I was young something seemed to be going on with the Boy Wonder), and the beginning of the story features the deadly kiss of the title, and death being linked to sex is nothing new. There’s also Ivy’s stop at a club just to dance (after burgling poor Steve Lieber’s store), because dancing has been a metaphor for sex for a long time, plus it gives Hamm a chance to draw Batman dancing, yes, the Batusi. There’s even a panel that shows poor young Bruce Wayne nervously wondering what to do with the flower that the young Pamela Isley offers him, and Hamm does a fantastic job with both kids, while Fitzpatrick’s coloring – Bruce is dour in gray, while Pamela’s red hair and green dress leap off the page – is wonderful. It’s a typical Ivy story, in other words, but because it takes place in the “Batman ’66” universe, the stop at the nightclub and Ivy’s strange henchmen aren’t that bizarre – it’s just another odd day in Gotham. But that means another fine issue of the best Batman comic on the stands.

(* My daughter’s elementary school has begun allowing comics into their library, only three years after I first suggested it at a Parent Organization meeting. Yay, me! Anyway, I told the librarian that Norah has plenty of comics – the librarian insists on calling them graphic novels, which I found humorous – if she wants to take a look at them. She told me that if I wanted to, I could be the parent who reviews the books to make sure they’re appropriate for the library – I suppose most schools or school districts do this, but maybe they don’t. I told her that that wouldn’t be a good idea, because I think we should let kids read what they want, and something I think is appropriate – i.e., everything – might not be to other parents. She chuckled and said she feels the same way (which is interesting, because I know she’s a fairly good conservative – not that conservatives are for censorship, but it’s funny that two people on opposite sides of the political spectrum would feel exactly the same way about something small like this), so maybe I wouldn’t be the best choice. They have a small section of comics – I should go in and see what they already have.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Lumberjanes #17 (“Spare Me”) by Aubrey Aiese (letterer), Brooke Allen (artist), Maarta Laiho (colorist), Noelle Stevenson (writer), Shannon Watters (writer), Whitney Leopard (associate editor), and Dafna Pleban (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Speaking of comics that are totally appropriate for elementary school kids, there’s Lumberjanes, which my daughter digs quite a bit. I mentioned to her recently that Molly and Mal might just be more than friends, which surprised her. She’s only read the first 8 issues (I keep forgetting to give her the next ones, because I’m d-u-m), and while their closeness is there, it’s not as obvious as it is in later issues. She said “Oh” when I told her and moved on with her life. But can you imagine a fairly conservative parent of a third grader reading this comic? I wonder if they’d freak out because those girls are just a little too close, even though nothing is explicit about their relationship. I wonder if parents are upset about Lumberjanes in this country or if it’s not such a big deal – I haven’t heard about anyone freaking out, but maybe that’s because it’s not in schools. The thing is, kids today – at least the small sample size I know about – are remarkably unfazed by same-sex relationships, as enough of their peers are being raised by two women or two men that it’s just not a thing. I would love it if collections of this comic show up in my daughter’s library, and I would hope that parents wouldn’t have too big a deal with it. It’s been a while since a parent at my daughters’ schools has let me down, so it would be neat to see what would happen with this.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with this issue, as Mal and Molly are kind of relegated to the background in this issue (although I love how, as in the panel below, Allen always draws them hanging near each other). This is the culmination of Abigail and Rosie’s story, as we get flashbacks to when they were at camp together and what happens when Abigail pokes the bear (or in this case, the Grootslang), and it’s also an issue about Jo realizing that she’s been prejudicial in dealing with Barney, the kid from the boys’ camp who is tagging along trying to help out. Unlike Pierrick Colinet, Stevenson and Watters don’t push their agenda hard through speeches, but through the way Barney opens up to Jo in the context of the adventure itself. She realizes that she’s been acting poorly, not because Barney yells at her, but because April first reminds her of the “Lumberjanes Way” and second because Barney is a really good kid who’s pretty darned smart. The writers do a nice job extending Barney’s issues into the metaphor jewel that solves the Grootslang problem, so that it’s obvious what they’re doing but it still doesn’t knock you over the head. Meanwhile, we get a bit more about the Big! Mystery! surrounding the Lumberjanes, as Abigail warns them about dangers they might not see and Jo gets an unusual phone call from her father. It’s nice that the writers aren’t pushing it too hard, because it allows them to tell neat stories and simply drop little hints about the weirdness. Obviously, sooner or later they’re going to have to get to it, but there’s no hurry, is there?

Lumberjanes is a really good comic. I should remember to get my daughter caught up!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Batgirl #43 (“Tooth and Claw”) by Juan Castro (inker on two pages), Brenden Fletcher (writer), Michel LaCombe (breakdowner), Serge LaPointe (colorist), Cameron Stewart (writer), Babs Tarr (artist/breakdowns), Steve Wands (letterer), Dave Wielgosz (assistant editor), and Chris Conroy (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC. Batgirl created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino.

The writers and artist of Batgirl have suddenly become obsessed with changing clothes, as someone else does it in this issue! Or maybe it’s just me noticing it. What a weird thing to notice …

Batgirl continues to kick ass, as Fletcher and Stewart continue to do a really nice job with Barbara and the people around her. Yes, it strains credulity that she would know the person connected to the tiger attacks, but that’s okay, because superhero comics tend to operate with a high level of coincidence. Stewart and Fletcher are doing a great job putting Barbara in social situations, so that the stakes feel a bit higher because she knows so many civilians. I still don’t quite get why Frankie wants so desperately to put herself in danger – Babs herself isn’t a “superhero,” but at least she’s trained to do things, while Frankie hasn’t – so while if she does in fact get into trouble, it might feel a bit forced, the fact that Barbara is close to so many people makes this feel far different than your average Batman comic or even many other superhero books, where the heroes seem to only hang around with other superheroes or maybe one “civilian.” Fletcher and Stewart have created a nice world for Barbara, so that everything that happens feels a bit more freighted.

Tarr is also amazing on the book, but that’s nothing new. I love some of the things she does – Barbara, for instance, wears three different outfits when she’s not Batgirl in this comic, which is two more than we usually see on heroes when they’re not heroing. The people Tarr creates just for this issue – the first victim, the people watching television, the third victim – are a wonderfully diverse group of people, added to the already diverse cast. The villain, who shows up on the final page, is superb – incredibly vicious-looking yet sexy as hell. Tarr is also excellent with the way the characters react to each other – their facial expressions and body language are amazing, and the art helps with Fletcher and Stewart’s writing, as it draws the people together as well as the script does. The way Batgirl fights the tiger is well done, too – I’m a bit skeptical that she would be able to lift one, but I’ll give that to her momentum helping her, and when she realizes she’s in over her head (see below), both the writers and Tarr do a great job with it. The only thing that made me look askance at the issue is the way Barbara stashes her motorcycle – it’s stuck to the ceiling of a parking garage in a compact form, and then it opens up when she puts it on the ground and flips a switch or something. Now, it’s cool thinking that Babs is driving a Transformer, and I’ll even give them the compact box turning into a motorcycle, but how much does that thing weigh? Barbara takes it off the ceiling like it’s a duffel bag. I guess it could be made of lightweight space-age polymers (note: whenever you use the term “polymer,” you need to call them “space-age,”) but that’s a bit of a reach. It looks cool, though.

So, yeah. Batgirl: still a good comic.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Grindhouse: Drive In, Bleed Out #8 (“Le Voyage Fantastique de Veronique, a.k.a. Nebulina Part 2 of 2”) by Alex de Campi (writer/letterer), Ryan Hill (colorist), John Lucas (artist), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Brendan Wright (editor). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

De Campi’s Grindhouse series ends with, perhaps, its most ridiculous story yet (and that’s saying something), as women are kidnapped by angelic-looking aliens who force them to fuck and harness the energy of their orgasms to re-seed dying planets. Yep. So Veronica and Britt, who find out that the aliens are targeting Earth next, come up with a bold plan (that involves, um, fucking) to stop them. And they have to deal with a jealous woman who wants the top of the pecking order back and is willing to do an extremely horrible thing to get there. This is a bloody story full of nudity, and de Campi turns the screws nicely at the end, which is as horrific and on-point, theme-wise, as you can get in a “grindhouse” comic. This story actually makes some very cool points about patriarchy and a woman’s place in it, as the women use what they can to gain a foothold in the aliens’ world, but does it really matter when they have no real power? De Campi has always been interested in so-called “feminist” writing (a terrible descriptor, I would say, as it implies a political bent when in reality it should mean just telling stories that feature non-stereotypical female characters), and this is an interesting opus. The more you think about it, the more interesting it becomes. I don’t really want to spoil anything else, so I’ll just leave it there.

Lucas is a strange artist for this story, because his cartoony style makes the nudity a bit less realistic, but that’s okay because it’s supposed to be a bit like a strange dream. It does, however, dampen some of the horror in the story, which is too bad, as Kim is just a bit too goofy to take seriously. Lucas (or de Campi’s script) doesn’t make clear what Veronica and Britt are cooking up, although I think I figured it out, and it’s a tough failing of the art. The sex scene is well done, though, as are the final few pages. It’s not the best match-up of art and story, but it’s not bad.

De Campi isn’t sure when or if Grindhouse will be back. It’s too bad – it’s supposed to be trash, of course, but de Campi gave us a bunch of fascinating female characters in somewhat traditional male stories, and generally the artists were pretty good. It would be a lot nicer if Dark Horse released two big trades or even a giant, 16-issue omnibus, but who knows if that’s going to happen.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

East of West #20 (“This Tangled Web”) by Nick Dragotta (artist), Jonathan Hickman (writer), Frank Martin (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

I read a rumor somewhere (I can’t remember where, sorry) that Eric Stephenson was going to require an Image book have three issues in the can before it’s solicited. This is, presumably, due to books like East of West (and, more severely, The Dying and the Dead or, insanely, Nonplayer) that have fallen behind schedule, but it’s really flawed. First of all, Image doesn’t pay creators anything. Creators do this on their own, which means they have to work for free far longer than getting just one issue done. If a team finishes an issue and Image promises to publish it, it has to get into Previews, which takes a few months. Then it has to come out, which takes another 2 months. Then, presumably at least a month later, the creators get paid. I don’t know the exact logistics of it, but there’s a long period between finishing a comic and getting paid for it in the Image model. Image offers a great deal of freedom, of course, but they don’t much care about the front-end. It has become increasingly clear that Image is no longer the place for new talent, but a place for established talent to take their own ideas instead of inserting them into a random issue of Avengers (like Steve Englehart did) and getting shafted by Marvel. If this rumor is true (and again, I’m sorry that I don’t know where I read it; it was a month ago or so), I will bet that Stephenson will not bring Hickman to heel (if indeed Hickman is late with his books, as he’s the common thread in Secret, The Dying and the Dead, The Manhattan Projects, and East of West) because he’s a big name. Stephenson won’t apply this to people of Hickman’s ilk. He’ll apply it to new creators who can least afford it, and therefore Image won’t be a place for talent to develop anymore. I hope the rumor isn’t true, because let’s face it – Image has been putting out late books its entire existence, and it has had almost zero effect on whether or not people buy the books. I don’t care if East of West is a few months late, or if we’ll see another issue of The Dying and the Dead before my 7th-grader graduates from high school. I buy Image books because of the talent and the stories, not because they come out on a monthly basis. If Stephenson doesn’t understand that, I’m not quite sure why he’s running Image.

By the way, this isn’t the greatest issue of East of West, but holy crap can Dragotta draw the shit out of anything. It’s absolutely gorgeous even though it’s mostly brick-laying.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Sixth Gun: Valley of Death #3 (of 3) by Crank! (letterer), Cat Farris (writer/artist, “Lil’ Sixth Gun”), Ryan Hill (colorist), Brian Hurtt (writer), A. C. Zamudio (artist), and Charlie Chu (editor). $3.99, 29 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

The latest Sixth Gun spin-off series comes to an end, and while it might be the best one, at least as far as artwork is concerned (this is the first time I’ve seen Zamudio’s art, but I hope it won’t be the last, as she’s quite good), but it still bugs me that we’ve gotten these series instead of the main series, the most recent issue of which shipped at the end of March. I just assume that Bunn and Hurtt are making sure they can release the final arc quickly, so they’re doing mini-series (Bunn, of course, wasn’t even involved in this one) to fill in the gaps, but it’s still a bit vexing. There’s nothing all that bad about this story, as our heroes fight their way out of the Realm of Death, but like the others, it seems a bit superfluous. It’s for suckers like me, in other words, who like “completeness” to a certain degree. I don’t mind getting them, and as I noted, it introduced me to Zamudio’s art, which is never a bad thing, but if you’re buying The Sixth Gun in trade (and you should be buying it, no matter how you do it), you can safely skip all of these mini-series.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Gotham by Midnight #8 (“The Jungle”) by Ray Fawkes (writer), Juan Ferreyra (artist), Saida Temofonte (letterer), Rebecca Taylor (associate editor), and Mark Doyle (editor). $2.99, 19 pgs, FC, DC.

I saw something on Bleeding Cool but didn’t bookmark it, but then I saw this, which linked back to Bleeding Cool, so all is well! Apparently DC is in a bit of a financial crunch, and they’re hoping Dark Knight III saves them (as one post on The Outhousers puts it: Dark Knight 3: Blatant Nazi Subtitle), which seems, well, a bit crazy. The story I read at Bleeding Cool (not the one I linked to) says that DC is considering something that seems akin to a 1970s-style “Implosion,” which I hope is wrong. I also learned from Rich (I know, it’s Rich) that DC is trying to put the kibosh on “Batgirling,” which is an internal term for what DC allowed Fletcher, Stewart, and Tarr to do on that title – focus a bit more on quirky storytelling instead of slavishly adhering to a house style. It seems to have worked on Batgirl, which remains a (modest) hit, but I guess it’s not working as well on other books, and I wonder if this is one of them. I dig this title, but I have a feeling a lot of people don’t, which is too bad. Fawkes can write some creepy stuff, and if you didn’t like Templesmith’s art (which is unusual for a mainstream book, I know), Ferreyra’s is completely different, and probably more in line with what people expect from a Bat-book, even though he can do horror as well as (in a completely different way) than Templesmith can. Fawkes is writing a long story arc about the darkness in Gotham, but this is a perfectly keen single-issue story, as the team has to investigate a debating duo of 24-hour-news talking heads who seem to be inciting riots. Fawkes doesn’t do anything too unique with the concept, but the dialogue is very cool, especially when Dr. Tarr and Corrigan manage to get into the studio. Meanwhile, Ferreyra’s amazing art continues to impress – he gives us an eerie cathode glow in Gotham’s Times Square when the riots begin, and the spectrum shifts slowly from spooky green to red-tinged purple, making the people look more inhuman. His “special effects” on Corrigan when the Spectre is trying to come out are beautiful, and the big reveal of what’s going on with the talking heads is terrifying. Anyone who’s read Colder will know that Ferreyra can nail creepy really well, and he does so here.

I really hope Gotham by Midnight survives at least as long as Fawkes needs to tell his big story, although maybe it won’t get that long. It’s too bad – it’s a very cool book. I hope DC surprises me!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

C.O.W.L. volume 2: The Greater Good by Kyle Higgins (writer), Trevor McCarthy (colorist), Troy Peteri (letterer), Rod Reis (artist/colorist), and Alec Siegel (writer). $14.99, 100 pgs, FC, Image.

I liked the first volume of this, so I assume I’ll like the second. We shall see!

Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio by Jessica Abel (writer/artist). $17.00, 226 pgs, BW, Broadway Books.

I like Abel’s work quite a bit, so this was a no-brainer. There’s nothing more fun than watching people talk on the radio!

Princess Ugg volume 2 by Ted Naifeh (writer/artist) and Warren Wucinich (colorist/letterer), and Robin Herrera (editor). $15.99, 95 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

I liked the first volume of this, so I assume I’ll like the second. We shall see!

Quantum and Woody by Priest and Bright volume 1: Klang by Greg Adams (inker), Atomic Paintbrush (colorist), MD Bright (plotter/penciler), Siobhan Harris (letterer), Dave Lanphear (letterer), Christopher Priest (plotter/scripter), Romeo Tanghal (inker), Omar Banmally (assistant editor), and Lynaire Thompson (editor). $19.99, 172 pgs, FC, Valiant.

I skipped the giant omnibus that Valiant put out because I was worried about the binding, so now they’re releasing the original run in smaller trades. Yay, patience!

Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini by Anthony Del Col (writer), Carlos Furuzono (artist), Conor McCreery (writer), Aikau Oliva (colorist), and Rob Steen (letterer). $19.99, 99 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

The art on this book isn’t that great, but I bought it because Del Col and McCreery wrote Kill Shakespeare, so I’m curious about this. We’ll see, won’t we?

Sundowners volume 2 by Crank! (letterer), Sean Dove (colorist), Tim Seeley (writer), Jim Terry (artist), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $14.99, 111 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I liked the first volume of this, so I assume I’ll like the second. We shall see!

Sunstone volume 3 by Stjepan Sejic (writer/artist), Betsy Gonia (editor), and Ryan Cady (editor). $14.99, 124 pgs, FC, Image/Top Cow.

Yeah, I really ought to get volume 1. One of these days!

The Usagi Yojimbo Saga Book 4 by Stan Sakai (writer/artist), Jemiah Jefferson (assistant editor), and Brendan Wright (collection editor). $24.99, 614 pgs, mostly BW, Dark Horse.

I’m sure I’ll start reading these one of these days!

Money spent this week: $169.63. YTD: $4694.32.

I decided to start taking a look at when publishers claim their books are going to come out and when they actually do. This is a douchey move, I admit, but I thought it would be interesting. Some publishers don’t list shipping dates, of course, so I’ll skip those. Let’s take a look!

New Mgmt: 19 August. 1 week late.
The Maxx: Maxximized: IDW doesn’t list ship dates, but this was solicited in June, so I guess it’s on time. It ought to be – it’s a reprint!
The Infinite Loop: Another IDW book, but this was also solicited in June.
Ragnarök: Ditto.
Valhalla Mad: 26 August. Right on time!
Surface Tension: Titan doesn’t list shipping dates, but this too was solicited in June.
Batman ’66: 26 August. Right on time!
Lumberjanes: Boom! doesn’t list shipping dates, but this was solicited in June.
Batgirl: I don’t pre-order this book, but I assume it’s on time.
Grindhouse: 26 August. After getting way off schedule due to an artist change, this is right on time!
East of West: 17 June. 2 months late.
The Sixth Gun: 26 August. Right on time!
Gotham by Midnight: I don’t pre-order this, but I assume it’s on time.
C.O.W.L.: 24 June. 2 months late.
Out on the Wire: No shipping date, but it was solicited in June.
Princess Ugg: 19 August, so it’s right on time. Diamond didn’t send it to my retailer until this week.
Quantum and Woody: 17 June. 2 months late. This book is, what, almost 20 years old? I wonder what the delay was.
Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini: 19 August. 1 week late.
Sundowners: 26 August. Right on time!
Sunstone: 26 August. Sepic keeps it on time!
Usagi Yojimbo: 26 August. Right on time with the reprint!

This week was pretty good, wasn’t it? I’ll keep doing this, because I’m kind of fascinated by it. Yes, that’s right – I write these posts simply so I can write about things that fascinate me and no one else. Deal with it!

**********

Here are one-star reviews of national parks. To be fair, they’re mostly about the prices or amenities or rudeness of the staff, but it’s still funny reading bummed-out reviews of, you know, nature.

I haven’t been watching Zoo on CBS, even though Jay Faerber worked on it, but I have been reading the recaps, because holy shit they’re awesome. Plus, .gifs!

Yes, those are rats pouring out of an elevator in an obvious homage to The Shining. Other things you will read in the recaps: “Slovenian dog ambush,” “armor-plated bear,” “Achilles butt,” and “kamikaze bats killing Brit-pop loving lesbian scientists.” I don’t ever want to watch Zoo, but I will read the recaps!

And the schadenfreude is thick here: About 400 church leaders were on the Ashley Madison list. Look, I don’t really care what you do in your private life. The reason this is so awesome is the reason why Josh Duggar being on the list is: as the post points out, how many of these pastors preached against homosexuality as a horrible sin and think that gay marriage will destroy the institution? It’s always about the hypocrisy with the morality police. I also have a question about Ashley Madison: do they cater only to men? What if women want to have an affair? Think of the poor cheating women, Ashley Madison!!!!

Darryl Dawkins died at 58 the other day, which is too bad. Dawkins was never a great player, but he’s an NBA legend. If you don’t know why, I offer this:

Dawkins broke more than one backboard in the late 1970s, and the NBA actually had to modify the boards to keep people from shattering them. I don’t remember Dawkins too much, as I didn’t wacth too much basketball back in the early 1980s (or, you know, ever), but he was a 76er, so I dig him. Plus, he seemed like an awesome dude.

Once again, no Top Ten list or iPod list this week, so let’s just get to the Totally Random Lyrics:

“Feeling kinda high like a Hendrix haze
Music makes motion moves like a maze
All inside of me, heart especially
Help of the rhythm where I wanna be
C’mon, flowin’ glowin’ with electric eyes
You dip to the dive baby you’ll realize
Baby you’ll see the funky side of me
Baby you’ll see that rhythm is the key
Get, get ready with it
Can’t, can’t quit it, quit it
Stomp on the street when I hear a funk beat
Playing Pied Piper, follow what’s true”

Have a great weekend, everyone! Remember: Football is almost back, and all will be right in the world!!!!

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