What I bought - 26 June 2013

"Sotillo used to be very cordial to me at the Goulds' and at the club. How that man'll ever dare to look any of his friends here in the face I can't imagine."

"He'll no doubt begin by shooting some of them to get over the first awkwardness," said the doctor. "Nothing in this country serves better your military man who has changed sides than a few summary executions." (Joseph Conrad, from Nostromo)

Don't get used to it.

Atomic Robo: The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #1 (of 5) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

A new Atomic Robo mini-series (volume 8!!!) launches this week, and while Clevinger and Wegener have always built on some of the plot points of other series, in this one, they're very blatant about it, as events that took place in volume 6, The Ghost of Station X, are still affecting Robo's operations and his relationship with the rest of the world (volume 7, you'll recall, took place right after World War II, not the present, which is why this picks up on the events from volume 6). Robo takes his mind off of his problems by leading an expedition to investigate cryptids in Venezuela, but it turns out that the cryptid-thing is a clever ruse to lure him to a secret cave underneath a secret Nazi space program base. Yes, only in comics could that sentence not sound crazy but sound like something that many people will nod at and think, "Hey, all right." If you've read the title of this book, it's not too much of a spoiler to say that the luring is done by Dr. Dinosaur, the fan-favorite archnemesis of Atomic Robo. Well, "fan-favorite" minus one - I've never liked Dr. Dinosaur too much, as he's one of the few characters in this book where it feels like Clevinger is trying too hard. I know the joke is that Dr. Dinosaur is kind of an idiot even though he's an evolutionally-advanced dinosaur, but I don't know - he's just not that funny to me. Now, I trust Clevinger to make me like him in an expanded role in this mini-series, and I did like his first panel in this book, but I'm holding my breath. The rest of the book is, unsurprisingly, full of wonderful Robo banter, and Clevinger keeps the "Robo is a terrorist" subplot going when someone delivers a nuclear warhead to Tesladyne and tips off the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about it, so there's that. It's a Robo book set in the present, which seem to be a bit stronger than those set in the past - I think the fightin' scientists of Tesladyne are part of the book's charm, so when they show up, the book seems to have a bit more verve to it. As usual, I'm just giddy that there's a new Atomic Robo book.

Wegener keeps doing his awesome thing, as all the characters look great, from the hard-assery of Jenkins to Lang's cheery charm. His Dr. Dinosaur is always fun to see, because he moves his eyes around just enough to make our nemesis more unhinged. More importantly, it appears that Filardi has worked out whatever issues he was having with the coloring on Flying She-Devils of the Pacific - even when Robo and his team go underground, the book isn't too dark and the lines remain crisp, which was an issue on volume 7. Filardi adds some nice computerized touches, like the glowing underground lake and whatever the heck Dr. Dinosaur is wearing on his head (some kind of crystals). I'm glad that he's been able to figure out how to keep the book bright and the lines tight, because Wegener's lines need to be sharp, and they got a bit muddied in volume 7.

Atomic Robo is always a great read, and while I'm not in love with the bad guy, I do like that Clevinger is expanding the universe just a bit as we get further into his life and story. You still don't have to have read volume 6 to read this, because Clevinger recaps everything pretty well on the first page, but it's kind of neat that he's picking up that thread and exploring it a bit more. Still, even if you haven't read volume 6 or even any Atomic Robo series, you should pick this one up, because it's just awesome comics. Everyone likes awesome comics!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Bounce #2 by Joe Casey (writer), David Messina (artist/color supervisor), Sonia Harris (graphic designer/story consultant), Giovanna Niro (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

After 2 issues, I'm still not sure what to think of The Bounce. Some of it is interesting, and some of it feels a bit silly. Casey is usually able to straddle that divide quite well, so I'm still on board, but it hasn't quite grabbed me yet. That's cool, though - some books take a bit longer.

Okay, so at the end of issue #1, our "hero," Jasper Jenkins, inhaled some kind of drug (that comes off that dude on the cover, as you can see) and ended up in some strange world where a dude greeted him like a long-last friend. This dude, Zander, is apparently dead (we find out later in the issue what happened to him, but I don't want to give too much away), and he seems envious of Jasper that he's a superhero, because it appears that everyone in this world is a superhero. Zander seems to know what's going on in this world, but before he can explain anything, he jumps off a building. He does this to prove a point - he's almost immediately rescued by a random superhero - but Jasper doesn't know that, and he jumps off the building to rescue Zander and is yanked back into his world right as the police bust the club he was in. We flash back to six months ago and we find out what happened to Zander and, to a degree, Jasper. In the present, Jasper gets off the hook because his brother is the assistant DA, and then we check in on The Darling, who's the oddball bad guy - or so we think - in the book. Casey ends the book with, well, a cross-dresser in the bathroom, because why not?

There's a lot of interesting events happening, but the reason I'm not quite on board yet is because I really don't care about any of the characters yet. Jasper is the main character, but he's kind of a jerk. Now, he doesn't have to be likable for the book to work, but he does have to be compelling, and he's just not yet. The Darling is the most interesting character, which is fine because a book needs a good villain, but he's not THAT interesting, or at least not enough to overcome the blandness and unpleasantness of the other characters. That's not to say that Casey won't get better at that, and as I noted, the overall plot - such as it is - has been weird enough in the first two issues to keep me interested in the book, but there's room for improvement. We'll see.

Messina does a decent job - there are some very cool pages in the book, and the way he and Niro contrast the "other" world to the "real" one is pretty cool, even down to the panel borders. The art still has that airbrushed quality that I don't love, but it's not terrible, and the fact that almost every character is a white male is still annoying, especially because Terry, Jeremiah, and that army dude (I don't think he has a name yet) could be triplets. I'll deal, though.

I get that if you're not a fan of Joe Casey, you might not stick with this, and that's fine. Who knows - I might drop it, too, but I've read enough Casey to know that he usually has a pretty good plan, so I'm down with this for a while. You have to love slow burns, right?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Deadpool #12 ("Damned if You Win, Damned if You Lose") by Brian Posehn (writer), Gerry Duggan (writer), Mike Hawthorne (penciler/inker), Jason Gordor (inker), John Lucas (inker), Val Staples (colorist), Joe Sabino (letterer), and Jordan D. White (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Deadpool's second arc comes to a close, and while it wasn't quite as good as the first arc (mainly because it wasn't quite as funny), it's still a pretty darned good comic, and it's still amazing to me that I've bought 12 consecutive issues of a Deadpool comic. Wade's plan comes together about as well as a Hannibal Smith one - with lots of violence and sidetracking, but eventually with its original intent intact. This is very much a fight issue between Deadpool and the demon Vetis, who is trying to use the souls of dead people to challenge Mephisto for the rulership of Hell, but our favorite mercenary and his allies come up with a decent enough plan to thwart him. In the middle of the issue, the book abruptly shifts tones as Deadpool and Preston must decide whether to take a deal that Mephisto offers them. Posehn and Duggan remarkably don't make any jokes about the Spider-Marriage, because they totally could have, but it's interesting how they resolve the story - Deadpool and Preston don't take the deal, because they're not completely stupid, but Deadpool has to go into parts of his mind he'd rather avoid, and he's alienated his allies, so it's not really a great victory for him. Posehn and Duggan have been good so far on this book at dropping in heavy stuff but not dwelling on it, so when Michael makes his big speech at the end of the book, it has an impact but then the issue ends, so while Deadpool and Preston don't have to deal with it, the reader can if he or she so chooses. It's not a bad way to do it.

Oh, and there's a tribute to the Macho Man in this book, so there's that. And Deadpool says what we're all thinking when the Hulk drops down on someone from above. You know you're thinking it!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Elephantmen #49 ("Sleeping Partners: Conclusion: Celestial Bodies") by Richard Starkings (writer/letterer) and Axel Medellin (artist/colorist). $3.99, 27 pgs, FC, Image.

Starkings and Medellin are really firing on all cylinders on Elephantmen these days as they gear up for issue #50. Starkings kind of wraps things up from many earlier issues - not everything, of course, but quite a bit - even as he deepens the mystery of Promethean a bit more. We get a flashback to the transgenics on Mars, which he's been hinting at every once in a while, and we find out that something strange happened, but it's unclear exactly what. Meanwhile, Hip, Ebony, and Trench just got back from the moon, so they're being debriefed, and once again, some strange things happened up there, and it's unclear what it all means. Starkings, as is his wont, gives us clues, and it's all connected to the actual transgenic program, but he's still leaving some things hidden. Sahara, meanwhile, is hiding out because the PTB don't want her to have her baby, and her double, Panya, has taken her place. Starkings shows that this might not be really what she wants, but I assume that will play out in upcoming issues. Finally, he wraps up the story of the poor hapless doctor who was threatened by the Silencer in an earlier issue, as he makes a bad decision that costs him dearly. It's nice that Starkings tied up that loose end.

There's a lot going on, but as usual, it's not all that confusing except when Starkings wants it to be. He constantly reminds us of when things happened (footnotes FTW!), but he's also quite good at using dialogue to keep us up on what's going on. Elephantmen is a sprawling story, but it never feels like Starkings has lost control over the narrative. His fine work with the characters has also kept the story on a human level, so even though someone like Ebony gets only a few words of dialogue, they're very powerful because we know what's going on in his head (and it's weird). Such is the strength of the book.

Medellin continues to do a fine job on the book - this issue is laid out a bit differently, but Medellin keeps it from being too confusing. Sahara is telling Jeremiah the Giraffe a story about what happened on Mars, and a lot of the pages have small panels running along the top and/or bottom of the page while a central image dominates the rest of the page. This allows Starkings to use a LOT of words on each page, but it also allows Medellin to breathe a bit, but it also requires him to make sure the small panels - and some are quite small - tell the story well, even if many of them have only a face or head shot in them. Medellin makes it work, however - on one page, things aren't going well for the elephantmen on Mars, and he gets to draw their battle on the entire page. In one corner, Sahara, back at the landing capsule, tries to communicate with Obadiah, and when she can't, she gets more and more upset. Medellin uses the small panels to eventually focus on her right eye and the tear coming from it, and it's a powerful image, especially as we see what she can't right below those few panels, and we know she's right to be worried. Medellin does this throughout the book, and it's really nicely put together.

It's kind of cool that this book just keeps trucking along, doing its thing and being one of the best comics out there. I can't wait for the next 50!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fatale #15 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), and Elizabeth Breitweiser (colorist). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

Brubillips return to the "main" storyline after spending a few issues showing different "fatales" from different time periods, and that means we check in on poor hapless Nick, still in jail (but not for long) and still freaking out about Josephine. It's kind of a bizarre way for Brubaker to tell the story - he checks in on Nick, moves his story along, but the main story is still something in the past; this time we're in Seattle in 1995, and some dude decides to rob a bank. It turns out he's in a band that is falling apart and they need money to make a video, so he decides to steal it. On the way back, he sees Josephine wandering along the road and he stops to help her (she's wearing nothing but a sheet and is covered in blood, so, you know). Now, we know that getting involved with Josephine will lead to nothing but disaster for Lance and his band, but he doesn't know that! It turns out that none of it is her blood, and later we get a gruesome scene that shows us that, once again, Josephine is involved in something that's not going to end well for anyone. Will there be more blood? Oh yes, I think there will be.

Are there still people out there who aren't on board with Fatale? I mean, it's 15 issues in, so you've probably made up your mind by now, but when it started, it seemed that people were a bit disappointed in it. I don't know - it's not quite as good as Criminal, but it's better than Incognito, and it's closer to the former than the latter, so I'm not sure what people who like Brubillips really want. I think it has the potential to be their best work when it's all said and done, because it feels more ... coherent, maybe? than something like Criminal (yes, I'm ignoring Sleeper, because that seems a bit more "minor league" than these more mature works) - Criminal is good, sure, but it seems like Brubaker has more on his mind with Fatale, even if you don't like what he has on his mind. I don't know - I'm rambling, as I often do, but I'm just pointing out that Fatale, no matter what flaws it had at the beginning (and I don't think it had too many), has been getting better with every issue, and that's pretty keen.

Phillips is excellent as always, and he gets to draw Josephine in the altogether, so there's that. Breitweiser does some nice things with the coloring, and I don't want to imply that Val Staples and Dave Stewart, the two colorists who have worked most closely with Brubillips on these creator-owned stuff of the past five years or so, didn't do this, I just don't remember it. Check out the Airwolf panel below - Breitweiser adds those splotches of darker green, and she seems to do that more often than Staples and Stewart did. Maybe I'm just misremembering it, and I apologize if I am, but I do like this kind of thing. Digital coloring in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing - and Breitweiser certainly does - gives us nice nuances in artwork, and it's pretty neat.

So, yeah. Fatale is good. I know, duh.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hawkdog #11 ("Pizza Is My Business") by Matt Fraction (writer), David Aja (artist), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Tom Brennan (associate editor), and Steve Wacker (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Yes, it's the infamous "Pizza Dog" issue of Hawkguy, as the dog that Clint rescued from the track suit mafia dudes in issue #1 gets a spotlight. As with certain issues of Hawkguy, when it's on, it's absolutely brilliant, and this is. The entire issue is told from Lucky's point of view, and while I doubt if the dog would understand as many words as he understands of Clint and Kate talking to each other (I'm definitely not one of these people who thinks dogs are secret geniuses - my dog eats cat poop, for crying out loud), but the way Fraction and Eliopoulos show it - with squiggles punctuated by certain words that Lucky knows - is great. Lucky wanders around the apartment building, meets another dog (see below), discovers a body on the roof (and it's about time someone found it!), gets in a fight with the clown-dude (Kazi, the bad guy), and has to escape from said bad guys. It all leads to a shocking ending! I mean, come on, Lucky, how could you do that to a sad-sack like Clint? Man, that's cold.

While the actual story moves ever so slightly along (this is the what, fourth issue in a row basically telling the same story from a different point of view, even as we finally move beyond it by the end), it's the way Fraction and Aja put the issue together that makes it genius. I mentioned the way Clint and Kate talk to each other, which is great, and then Aja uses pictograms to show how Lucky processes information as he moves throughout the building. As he passes each apartment, we see simplistic heads inside small circles connected to other circles with what Lucky connects to those people, like a flow chart. We see the bearded, long-haired dude connected to an open book, a smoking joint, and incense, for instance. Cleverly, when Lucky passes the apartment of the dead person, we get a line through the person's face and a question mark. As Lucky uses his hearing and smell to explore the world around him, we get diagrams or action as he "reads" the smells. It's also clever that we "see" the world from his height, so we don't always see characters' faces. Aja also shows parts of the scenery as just simple, uncolored lines, as Lucky is focused on other things that don't include sight, as dogs use sight in different ways than humans (and I kind of wish Hollingsworth had colored the book differently - dogs aren't colorblind, but they do, apparently, see colors differently than humans, but I suppose that might have been too crazy for readers). It's another marvelous art job on this book, which is becoming par for the course.

I'm glad that Fraction has moved past this brief moment in time, but it's been interesting seeing how he interprets different ways to come at this (probably) important plot point. He sets up the annual perfectly well in this issue, which is nice, too. I'm just glad that some mainstream superhero comics are allowed to do weird stuff like this. Fraction doesn't always hit a home run with this series, but man, it's fun to see when he does.

(There's a tribute to Anatomy of a Murder in this book, too. It's not quite as perfect as the one in Swamp Thing #21, but it's still pretty fun.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Journey into Mystery #653 ("Seeds of Destruction Part II") by Kathryn Immonen (writer), Valerio Schiti (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), Jacob Thomas (assistant editor), and Lauren Sankovitch (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Journey into Mystery careens toward cancellation, which is too damned bad, because Immonen, Schiti, and Bellaire have been absolutely wonderful on this book, and if you've missed out, maybe Marvel will release a nice big 11-issue hardcover of their run. It certainly deserves it - Schiti is the find on art, but Immonen has been doing a superb job with Sif, as she's a tough warrior with a twisted sense of humor and a soft side that comes out at the appropriate times, such as in this issue when someone dies and no one seems to care. Immonen put her out in space, trying to heal Gaea from a mysterious illness, and then threw Beta Ray Bill at her, which makes things complicated. Bill has crashed, something weird is going on with Gaea, and things are going from bad to worse. Oh dear. Immonen might be keeping the plot close to the vest right now, but she does do a nice job with the dialogue between Sif and Bill, especially when it becomes clear that there's something odd going on with everyone's favorite Alien Thor. What could it be? Well, we'll just have to wait.

I don't know if Schiti's next comic has been announced, but I'll be tempted to pick it up, because damn, he's good. He doesn't get to cut loose quite as much in this issue as he has in others, but that's okay, because his body language and facial expressions convey what moods Immonen is going for so well, even with someone like Bill, who's a bit less expressive than a human being. The pages where Bill explains what happens and Sif doesn't quite buy it are incredible, especially when she confronts him about his feelings. And the final page is wonderful - gorgeous, bizarre, and a bit scary. I know Immonen will continue to get work, and I really hope Schiti does, especially if it's on a book I want to read.

JiM is going away - it's still not clear why Marvel didn't reboot it with a #1 - but at least we got these issues, coming after Gillen's rejuvenation of the title. That ain't bad at all.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Lazarus #1 ("Family Part One") by Greg Rucka (writer), Michael Lark (artist/letterer), and Santi Arcas (colorist). $2.99, 28 pgs, FC, Image.

Lazarus has both good points and bad points for me going in, so I was curious to see how it would shake out. The good, of course, is Rucka and Lark working on a book together (I don't have anything against Arcas, but he's not going to get me to pick up a book). Rucka is a very good writer, and Lark is a very good artist. Yay, collaboration! The bad is that I wasn't sure if I could handle yet another dystopian future. Yes, yes, humanity sucks and the 1% will soon be the .00001% and they'll own everything, even our very souls!!!!, but I'm just a bit tired of it. First of all, I don't have quite as bleak an outlook about humanity as a lot of writers seem to have - I admit there's a ton of shit in the world, but there's also a lot of people working hard to make it better - and second of all, it's always kind of the same theme, because writers tend to be liberal. So it's always about how the rich are going to turn the world into one giant corporation, and doesn't that suck? Well, yes, it does suck, but will it actually happen? Beats me. Anyway, that's neither here nor there - I'm a bit burned out on dystopian futures, even ones done by Rucka and Lark, so I was worried that I just wouldn't be into this even though it's by Rucka and Lark.

This is a pretty good first issue, though. It sets things up pretty well, and Rucka has always been good at creating fascinating characters, and in this book he gives us three: the main character, Forever; her "brother," Jonah; and the doctor who checks her out, James. Already we see that James is conniving and that Jonah doesn't quite know how to express himself emotionally, and even Forever is very conflicted about dealing with people (as I mention below, the look on her face when Jonah hugs her is priceless). Forever is the enforcer - called a Lazarus - of one of the families - the Carlyles - that now run the world, and it's very much implied that if she's not an artificially grown person, she's been enhanced out the wazoo - she's dead at the beginning of the book, but that doesn't stop her! Rucka does an interesting thing with Forever - while she's obviously conflicted about her role in the Carlyle family, she also has a conscience, so even though she does pretty horrible things in this comic, Rucka shows us the seeds of a rebellion without being too blatant about it. She kills the three dudes who "kill" her at the beginning of the book, but then she tells James that they only wanted something to eat. James even has an answer for that which makes sense. Then, when she meets her brother at a family harvesting facility, she needs to punish someone, and she does even though she knows there's something fishy about it. James is doping her (with oxytocin, which is accidentally called "oxycontin" in the issue), but that doesn't seem to be working as well as the family wants. So there's a lot going on in this issue, which is nice. Rucka writes some backmatter that gives us some background on how the book came to be and some of the actual science and statistics that he uses to build this world, and backmatter is always nice to see.

Lark is a good artist, so of course the book looks good - the first 9 pages are a violent tour-de-force, without a lot of words, as Forever revives and slaughters the three thieves. Lark does a nice job with the world (at least so far) and his character designs are very nice. Forever is buff but not ridiculously so, and she's taller than both James and Jonah, which is keen. Over the years, he's gotten rougher with his line, but while the book is grittier than an old Michael Lark comic might have been, he remains a fine draftsman, so it's really the best of both worlds with Lark. Arcas does a nice job with the colors, too - the first scene is dark blue and moody, the first scene with James is green, making it feel a bit more sickly and sterile, and the outdoor scenes are muted brown, much like central California where the action occurs.

I'm curious to see how Rucka is going to expand this world - I hope he stays focused on the characters while he slowly builds up the world, because there's too much potential for preaching, and I think Rucka is too smart to get into that. Lazarus is a pretty cool first issue, and I'm looking forward to the rest of it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Mars Attacks: Classics Obliterated. "Moby Dick" by Phil Hester (writer), John McCrea (artist), Andrew Elder (colorist), and Tom B. Long (letterer); "Jekyll and Hyde" by Beau Smith (writer), Kelley Jones (artist), Jay Fotos (colorist), and Tom B. Long (letterer); "Robinson Crusoe" by Neil Kleid (writer), Carlos Valenzuela (artist), ScarletGothica (colorist/background artist), and Tom B. Long (letterer); Denton J. Tipton (editor). $7.99, 48 pgs, FC, IDW.

This is a fun little anthology, with some fine talent attached. Hester, Smith, and Kleid write tales that riff on classic literature without actually having Martians show up in classic literature, and it's all very bloody and exciting. Hester and McCrea do a story about Herman Melville trying to be a whaler on a ship with a captain who acts very much like a certain Captain Ahab, one who's also obsessed with a whale. However, before Captain Abraham can get his whale, a Martian vessel kills it, and Abraham, who has no context for an alien spacecraft, thinks it looks very much like a "white whale." McCrea has a blast drawing all the mayhem, and Hester does a nice job tying it to Melville's classic. Next, Smith writes a story about a scientist - Dr. Henry Jackal - who has developed a "DNA enhancement serum." When the Martians try to steal it, Dr. Jackal takes it and turns into "Mr. Snide" - a tough guy monster who easily takes out a bunch of Martians. They still try to get his serum, but he has a diabolical plan to stop them. It's a fun little twist at the end, to boot. Jones doesn't turn in his best work, unfortunately - it's a bit sloppy, but he does draw some neat Martians. Kleid's story is a psychological drama - a Martian marooned on an island goes slowly mad, and when a human shows up, the Martian is not sure what's real and what's not. It's quite interesting and even creepy, even though it's a Martian as the main character - Kleid wisely makes his madness more "human" so we can relate to it. Valenzuela and ScarletGothica give the story a nice, lush, tropical feel to it.

It's a fun comic, and like most anthologies it's almost worth it just to see the talent assembled and how they do their thing. As with a lot of IDW books, it's a bit overpriced, but I'm usually willing to pay a bit more for indie books than Big Two books, and it's not like the contents aren't good. I don't have much interest in IDW's other Mars Attacks stuff now that Layman and McCrea aren't working on it anymore, but this is a nice little comic to check out.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Massive #13 ("Americana Part One of Three: Chokepoint") by Brian Wood (writer), Garry Brown (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer), Jim Gibbons (associate editor), and Sierra Hahn (editor). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I'm sticking with The Massive, mainly because Wood seems to be moving in a more interesting direction with it - Callum Israel and the Kapital are still looking for the Massive, but Cal is tired of being passive, and so he's trying to return his group to its original purpose. First they have to get Georg, who absconded a few issues ago with a nuclear submarine - yeah, that's kind of embarrassing. Georg heads for New York, and Cal pursues him. Mag doesn't want to have anything to do with it, and Wood continues to set up a big conflict between Cal and Mag, but for now, he goes along with it. Meanwhile, Ryan has decided that she doesn't want to hang out on the ship anymore, but Mag catches her before she can leave because she has her own secrets. And, of course, the United States Navy shows up, and they're not happy.

One of the reasons I stuck with this book even when it didn't seem to be going anywhere is because Wood is just that kind of writer - he has a big plan in mind, and I've read enough of his stuff to know that he eventually sets things in motion that make the book work. It seems like he's getting to that now, and I'm curious enough to keep reading, even though I still do wish the book moved a bit faster. We still get some pages about the Crash, which I don't think I'm ever going to be happy with, but I can live with it. Recent issues have been a bit more streamlined and tense, and they're just more interesting now that we've gotten some of the world-building out of the way. Brown continues to do a solid job on art, and The Massive seems like it's finding its groove. Good to know!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Mind Mgmt #12 ("The Futurist Chapter 6") by Matt Kindt (writer/artist), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Brendan Wright (editor). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Kindt wraps up his second story arc with some pretty heavy violence and more answers (and, of course, more questions) about Meru. Meru begins to figure out what's going on with Harry, just in time to realize that he's pretty fucked up. Meanwhile, a character from earlier in the series reappears! Yay! I can't really say too much about this, because it's basically a bunch of fighting and a bunch of talking about things I don't want to spoil, but it's brutal and intense and exciting and gorgeous. Just look at that panel below!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Morning Glories #28 by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (artist), Paul Little (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $3.99, 36 pgs, FC, Image.

In the past few issues of Morning Glories, there's been a "cheat sheet" in the back, which is apparently part of an ongoing thing at Multiversity Comics about the series. While I think that's great that the folk at Multiversity are doing that, I'm not sure if it needs to be in the back of the issues. It's kind of an admission by Spencer and/or Image (whoever put it in the book) that it's a bit too confusing. On the one hand, I like the fact that there's some connections being made, because I'm not very bright and I tend to forget details if I haven't read the book more than once. However, I think it's far better to do this stuff on a web site, because as I pointed out, it's almost a tacit admission that Spencer has complicated the book past the point where it makes sense, and I don't think he has. I don't pick up everything that's going on in the book, especially when he calls back to an issue that came out well over a year ago, but that's fine - if each issue is good, then I'll keep buying it, and eventually, I re-read it carefully and make sure I figure out all the connections. I didn't love it when the book became a time travel comic, but Spencer has managed to keep it intriguing and entertaining through all that, and my head hasn't exploded, so I figure I'm good. I don't need to remember every little detail from earlier issues, because the general narrative is easy enough to follow, and the characters often catch each other up, so the reader stays caught up. It's kind of odd, because I would think that any writer would trust just his own words to express what's going on. The book doesn't need the annotations in the back. If I want to, I'll find them myself on-line. Or I'll just re-read the damned book.

Oh, a lot of shit happens in this issue. It has references to Descartes. What's that all about? Does a cast member die? We'll have to wait and see, won't we? And, as I always do, I must point out that Eisma draws all 36 pages and there will be another issue in a month, with all the pages drawn by Eisma, while Batman/Superman features a guest artist ... to finish ISSUE NUMBER ONE! (Who knew that if the over/under of number of issues Jae Lee would draw had been set at 1, you'd win if you took the under?) Granted, Eisma isn't quite as baroque as Lee is, but really? Eighteen pages of issue #1, and he needed a break? Sheesh.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard volume 2 #1 (of 4) by David Petersen (writer/artist, framing story). "Autumn Tale:: by Stan Sakai (writer/artist); "Leviathan" by Nick Tapalansky (writer) and Alex Eckman-Lawn (artist); "A Bone to Pick" by Ben Caldwell (writer/artist). $3.50, 24 pgs, FC, Archaia.

I assume that Archaia's books won't actually look any different once their purchase by Boom! goes through, because Archaia does has some handsome-looking books, including Mouse Guard. I love everything about the design of Mouse Guard, and let's hope Boom! just leaves it alone.

While Petersen (possibly?) works on another mini-series starring everyone's favorite mouses, he turns the reins over to some fine creators, much like in the first volume - nobody is paying their tab at the tavern, so the owner will forgive the debt of the person who tells the best tale. This sounds like a terrible way to run a business, but those mice know what they're doing, I guess! As with the last one, the stories are good, but it's just fun to see various creators taking a crack at Petersen's universe. So we get a nice Sakai story about a mouse getting rescued from a fox which turns out to be fairly dark; a story by Tapalansky and Eckman-Lawn about a famous mouse and how he learned to be humble; and Caldwell's charming story about two mice who outwit a fox that's going to attack their village. Each one is pretty solid - Sakai knows how to draw woodland creatures, not surprisingly, while Caldwell's animation style turns his tale into a charming Looney Tunes-esque kind of thing. Eckman-Lawn's lush painted work works very well for a more "legendary" kind of story that Tapalansky writes. So we get a pretty neat grab-bag of styles, both of art and stories, which is all you can ask for from an anthology. Huzzah anthologies!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Sex #4 ("Face of the Human Race") by Joe Casey (writer), Piotr Kowalski (artist), Brad Simpson (colorist), Rus Wooton (letterer), and Sonia Harris (graphic designer). $2.99, 18 pgs, FC, Image.

Sex is two issues ahead of The Bounce, so whatever I wrote about that comic still stands, kind of, just two issues further into things. Well, that was easy!

Oh, I kid. There's a stunning lack of nekkidness in this issue, although there is some sex, even though it's just a few panels of a girl kneeling in front of the Old Man, obviously fellating him. Casey, however, is still churning through Simon's issues, as he tries to make amends with his lawyer pal (Warren) for being such a douche to him last issue, and he's still trying to figure out what to do next. As he points out, the world keeps moving on without him, as Casey shows this nicely, as the Old Man has plans, Annabelle is running her business (and treating an old costumed villain poorly even though he deserves it; that can't portend good things), and Keenan shows some skillz when a dude gets physical with a young lady in his restaurant. It's kind of interesting that Casey, so far, has been moving all these plots forward even as his ostensible main character, Simon, seems trapped in amber. What could this mean? Heck, I don't know, but it seems like Simon is ready to move on, so we'll have to see what that means going forward.

There's a bit of annoying "special effects" in this issue - when Keenan punches the dude, the artwork is blurred just a bit - but overall, Kowalski continues to do a very good job. The two panels where we first see Sheila, when Frank is trying to pick her up, are really well done - Sheila is dressed like a prostitute, naturally (a costumed heroine prostitute, sure, but still a prostitute), but Kowalski nails her naïveté and you can see why she would listen to Frank even though he seems like a bit of a creep. There's a lot of this in the book, and it's kind of nice that it's not too obvious, because it makes it more subtle.

I'm still not quite sure what Casey is doing with this book, but as we get into it, he's definitely making it more interesting. I knew I'd be on board for a while, and I hope it keeps improving!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Think Tank #8 ("Genetics Part Four of Four") by Matt Hawkins (writer), Rahsan Ekedal (artist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image/Top Cow.

Hawkins wraps up the second arc of the book, but unlike the first one, where he wasn't sure if the book would continue and therefore felt more "final" (even though he had an out), he leaves some things open for the next arc. I guess it's still not the best-selling book around, but Hawkins is pretty confident that it will continue for the foreseeable future. David created a virus (well, not really a virus, as Hawkins explains, but let's just call it that for convenience's sake) that can kill based on a genetic profile, so the United States tests it on a Taiwanese dude and his entire family. In this issue, they manage to divert the suspicion of the Taiwanese away from them (because the Taiwanese seem to be figuring it out) and onto others, but who knows where that plot line will go. David, meanwhile, is sickened by events in this arc, but when his erstwhile girlfriend is kidnapped, it appears he's going to have to get his hands dirty to help her. The senator who tells him about Mirra obviously has an agenda, and I suppose David will have to figure out what it is in the next arc.

This is an oddly talky issue for the final one of an arc, but like I noted, Hawkins knows he can continue the book, so he gave us the climax last issue and then wrapped some stuff up here. I mean, yes, there are a few pages of blowing shit up, but it's still a lot of talking, and when we begin the book with a few pages of a Senate subcommittee hearing, you better hope people are on board. Luckily, Hawkins has been able to create a pretty terrifying world of military R & D and how awful it is, and his backmatter is scary because he sources everything, so who knows what the military is doing right at this moment!!!! Ekedal continues to do a fine job with the art, although the few pages of shit blowing up makes me want Hawkins to turn him loose a bit more with some fancy action set pieces. We do get that in this comic, but I'd love just one big shoot-'em-up that takes up an entire issue. I'm as bloodthirsty as the military!!! Don't hold that mirror up at me!!!!!

So, yeah. This is a pretty good comic. It's not quite super, but it's fascinating and entertaining. That's cool.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Young Avengers #6 ("The Toll") by Kieron Gillen (writer), Kate Brown (artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), Jacob Thomas (assistant editor), and Lauren Sankovitch (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

McKelvie gets a break so that Brown can step in and draw a one-off about "Speed" (Tommy Shepherd) and "Prodigy" (David Alleyne), who work in some random company - David is at the call center, while Tommy assembles "gizmos." It's not exactly clear what the company does, as David seems to act as tech support for various superpowered people (see below). It doesn't really matter, because the story is about how Tommy and David both feel adrift from their respective groups (David is a depowered mutant, although he explains that he's retained all the knowledge - not the powers - he absorbed when he had his powers). They form a tentative friendship, but then Patriot shows up at the company (which seems to employ quite a few superpowered people), but Tommy finds out it's not the actual Patriot. When they try to find out what's going on, things go poorly and end somewhat inconclusively. It's kind of a depressing issue, all things considered. Gillen does a nice job creating this mystery, and while it's still a single-issue story, it's obvious that it will have consequences down the line.

It's nice that Gillen has reached a point in his Marvel career where he can ask his bosses to hire an artist he chooses, and Brown does a pretty good job. Her characters are nice, and she does a nice page design to show how fast Tommy actually moves. The confrontation with "Patriot" is well done, too, and she uses "special effects" quite well. It's bugging me, because her art is reminiscent of someone's, but I can't quite place it. It's still pretty good, and it's cool to see it in a Marvel book.

This is a slightly quieter issue of Young Avengers after the craziness of the first arc, but Gillen's strong character work is as good as ever, and he gives us a pretty cool mystery. Plus, it's always neat to see Marvel and/or DC characters actually working at a job. I don't know why, but it is. BURGAS HAS SPOKEN!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Adventures of Augusta Wind: The Girl with the Umbrella by J. M. DeMatteis (writer), Vassilis Gogtzilas (artist), Carlos Badilla (colorist), Tom B. Long (letterer), Chris Ryall (editor), and Christopher Schraff (editor). $24.99, 111 pgs, FC, IDW.

It's always dicey when DeMatteis writes something, because while he's a very good writer, he also has a tendency to go on about spiritual stuff, but I'm fairly confident this won't go down that road. Nice art, too.

Bloodshot volume 2: The Rise and the Fall by Duane Swierczynski (writer), Manuel Garcia (artist), Arturo Lozzi (artist), Matthew Clark (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Stefano Gaudiano (inker), Ian Hannin (colorist), Moose Baumann (colorist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Rob Steen (letterer), Jody LeHeup (associate editor), and Warren Simons (editor). $14.99, 122 pgs, FC, Valiant.

I haven't read volume 1 yet (I just got it last week), but I'll sit down and read both of them at once. Yee-ha!

Killogy by Alan Robert (writer/artist/letterer) and Denton J. Tipton (editor). $19.99, 97 pgs, FC, IDW.

This "stars" actors Frank Vincent and Brea Grant and also Marky Ramone, which is just kind of weird. It looks nicely gruesome and horrific, but that's still weird.

The Original Daredevil Archives volume 1, edited by Philip R. Simon. $49.99, 282 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I've only read a few Daredevil stories, but they were so freakin' good that I had to get this. It looks amazing. I'm positive that there's plenty of casual racism, which will annoy me, I'm sure, but man, these comics look fantastic.


You might be asking yourself why I decided to do a big "What I Bought" post instead of what I've been doing for the past few months, which is trying to focus on one issue or some kind of aspect of the comics of the week. (I'm aware that some of you are phrasing it thusly: "Man, we just got rid of that douchebag - why did he come back?") This week was pretty neat, though - not only was it a big week, not only were there a ton of very good comics, but of 16 single issues I bought, 12 were either the beginning of an arc, the beginning of a series, the end of an arc, or a single-issue story. I just couldn't decide which one to focus on! So I decided to go old-school, but I'll go back into semi-hibernation next week - this still takes a really long time, and next week my daughter is home from summer school, so I won't have as much time as I did this week. So I hope you had fun with this - I'm still planning on starting this up again, but not right now.

Anyway, as usual, I have some things to rant about. I'm not going to do anything that I might link to on Sunday, but as it's summer television season, I thought I might write a bit about the shows I'm watching during the day while I'm alone in the house. The only time I ever want to go outside in the 100+-degree heat is when I go in the pool, but I can't stay in there all day, so I've been watching television when I haven't been doing stuff on the computer. So here's what I've been watching:

Major Crimes on TNT. I liked The Closer because Kyra Sedgwick was really good on it, and I watched the first season of Major Crimes last summer but wasn't in love with it. I checked in with the first episode this summer to see if I liked it more and discovered that they had added Nadine Velazquez to the cast. Well played, TNT. Well. Played.

King and Maxwell on TNT. I like Jon Tenney, I like Rebecca Romijn, I like detective shows. Sue me. It also stars Gerry Bertier from Remember the Titans. Good to see him getting work!

Franklin and Bash on TNT. I haven't actually started watching this yet (three episodes have aired), but I love this show. It's so ridiculous in its bro-ness. Plus, Danger Guerrero's recaps are the stuff of genius, even though he hasn't written any this season so far.

Perception on TNT. This is a pretty keen show - yes, it's another procedural, but the fact that Eric McCormack is schizophrenic is pretty interesting. Plus, Rachel Leigh Cook is in it. Yes, I'm shallow.

Twisted on ABC Family. I like Twisted far more than I should, as it's a show like many others on ABC Family, namely about pretty high schoolers doing horrible things. A kid who strangled his aunt when he was 11 returns to his high school after 5 years in a mental facility, and his two former best friends don't know how to deal with him (neither does anyone else, of course). Unfortunately, in the pilot a student ends up murdered, so of course he's the prime suspect. It's wonderfully soapy, and the actors are just so earnest. I'm also convinced that the murdering dude, Avan Jogia, would kill as Spider-Man. Fanboys would go as nuts as suggesting Donald Glover would be a good Spider-Man, but Jogia is really good on this show. And he's easy on the eyes, too.

Graceland on USA. I'm not quite sure how I feel about Graceland yet. It's about a group of undercover government agents living in a house in Southern California, and the new guy - Mike - is really there to investigate the senior agent, Paul, who does things a but unconventionally. It's an okay show, but with cop shows, the cast needs to carry it, and it's so early in the show's existence that the cast hasn't quite gelled yet. I'll probably keep watching for now, but I'm not sure if I'll keep with it. It does star one of the cheerleaders from Man of the House (the greatest movie of the millennium so far?), so there's that.

These are just shows I watch during the day - the wife and I watch plenty of stuff at night, too. In other words, the DVR is totally evil because it makes it too easy to watch a lot of television. I don't know how I lived without it!!!!!

Meanwhile, recently I bought some fun stuff - I don't usually buy figures, but these were just too awesome. As usual, I enlisted my excellent assistant to help out with the presentation:

Yes, it's Batman and Robin in the Aardman Animation style. Because why not? These take a place on honor on my bookshelf along with my Darth Tater, my Boba Fett, my Pope Innocent III, my Disco Stu, my Killer Moth, and my Jack Skellington bobblehead. Gaze upon Batman and Robin, ye mighty, and despair!!!!

Let's move on to the Ten Most Recent Songs on my iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle). You know, I added a bunch of new stuff to my iPod in the past few months, yet the most recent songs are old standards. It's not that they're bad songs, but they've been on the old iPod for a while. How are you supposed to make fun of my new music when none of it shows up here???

1. "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side" - Magnetic Fields (1999) "Harry is the one I think you'll marry, but it's Chris that you kissed after school"12. "Family Business" - Fish (1990) "Every night when I hear you I dream of breaking down your door - an avenging knight in shining armour, to rescue you from it all"3. "Rock and Roll" - Led Zeppelin (1971) "I can't count the tears of a life with no love"4. "My Love, My Life" - ABBA (1976) "But I know I don't possess you, so go away, God bless you"5. "Without You" - Asia (1982) "It seems so long I've been holding on, since I felt my arms around you"26. "Got the Time" - Anthrax (1990) "Sit down, got another letter to write; think hard, gotta get a letter just right"37. "Amsterdam" - Coldplay (2002) "Stood on the edge, tied to the noose, and you came along and you cut me loose"8. "Laughter in a Time of War" - Chumbawamba (2005) "Take my life and sing it back to me; my big mouth, it's my own worst enemy"9. "Dirty Movies" - Van Halen (1981) "Daddy's little sweetie after some damn rainbow; got the big deal in the back of a limo"4 10. "Gett Off" - Prince (1991) "How can I put this in a way so as not to offend or unnerve? there's a rumor goin' all round that you ain't been gettin' served"5

1 Stephin Merritt is a songwriting genius, yo.

2 This song is weird. I like it a lot, but it always felt like it was about more than just lost love, like something important was going on that was some kind of subtext. I don't know - I'm probably reading way too much into it, but it's just how I feel, man!

3 There's very little cooler than a good bass solo in a metal song. I mean, yeah, a bagpipe solo is cooler, but not much else!

4 Fair Warning: Best Van Halen album? Discuss.

5 With so many explicit songs in his catalog, I still maintain that this is a strong contender for the filthiest song Prince ever recorded. I think it's the awesome flute track that does it.

Let's check out some Totally Random Lyrics, shall we?

"She's juicy and she's troubleShe gets it to me goodMy woman gives me powerGoes right down to my blood"

Oh, come on, that's too easy, right?

Anyway, we've come to the end of another week, and I'm folding up the tents on these monster reviews again, for a while, at least. There are some decent comics coming out next week, but nothing like the smorgasbord this week, so I'll probably be safe just picking one. Another Joe Casey comic, perhaps? Another Matt Fraction one? Only time will tell!!!

Have a nice weekend, everyone. Enjoy the weather, unless you live in Arizona, where you just might want to stay inside. Dang, it's supposed to be hot over the next few days!

DCeased #5 Cover Pits a Bloodied Wonder Woman Against Superman

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