What I bought - 5 December 2012

It came to me that he meant something different by "smile" than I did; that the irony, the humourlessness, the ruthlessness I had always noticed in his smiling was a quality he deliberately inserted; that for him the smile was something essentially cruel, because freedom is cruel, because the freedom that makes us at least partly responsible for what we are is cruel. So that the smile was not so much an attitude to be taken to life as the nature of the cruelty of life, a cruelty we cannot even choose to avoid, since it is human existence. (John Fowles, from The Magus)

Avengers #1 ("Avengers World") by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Jerome Opeña (artist), Dean White (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $3.99, 21 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

The latest Marvel NOW! book is a relaunch of Avengers, with Jonathan Hickman deciding that the famous line from The Incredibles - "If everyone's special, then no one is"* - doesn't fucking apply to the Avengers, because he's decided that if you've ever even worn a costume for Halloween in the Marvel Universe, you're an Avenger! There's nothing wrong with this prospect, of course - Hickman thinks MOTHERFUCKING BIG! when it comes to comics, so if he wants to put some random costumed dude who appeared in one panel of Web of Spider-Man in 1987 in the Avengers, BY GOD HE WILL!!!!

* Paraphrased, of course, but work with me!

His first issue has been getting some love all over the Internets, but you know me - I enjoy being contrary, so while I will say that it's an enjoyable first issue beautifully drawn by Opeña and colored ... the way Dean White colors comics (I don't like White combined with Opeña, because I think White bludgeons Opeña's finely etched lines a bit too much), it's pretty much a standard superhero comic. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, and if every superhero comic were as well done as this one, it would be a pretty good world, but Hickman doesn't raise the bar on superhero comics in any way. There's a new villain who takes apart the Avengers pretty easily but commits the idiotic Bondian fallacies we all know so well - he doesn't want to kill the Avengers, he wants to transform them, so he leaves them alive, plus he sends Captain America back to Earth (he's terraforming Mars) to send a message to humanity that their champion has been defeated. Instead of delivering that message, Cap just assembles a bunch of other Avengers to go kick some tail. I love it when villains use defeated heroes to send a message. Dude, send a mass e-mail or text. Update your Facebook status with a picture of you saying "I will destroy humanity!!!!" Don't let the hero go to deliver the message. You would think a smart villain would have, I don't know, studied other defeated villains or at least listened to Seth Green.

Still, it's a nice looking book. The first two pages, honestly, are the best ones, because they promise giant, grand adventures for our heroes, and Hickman likes that sort of thing. I've said this before - Hickman doesn't write for the trade, he writes for the Omnibus, so I don't see any reason to spend 8 bucks a month for 40 pages of comics when you can sit back, wait five years, and get a nice giant book to put on your shelf collecting this entire epic, probably at a much more competitive price. But that's just me.

Anyway, Avengers #1: Not bad, but not great. Bad guys punching things and trying to justify their actions. Heroes getting defeated but REFUSING TO GIVE UP!!!! You know, like most superhero comics.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Colder #2 (of 5) by Paul Tobin (writer), Juan Ferreyra (artist/colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer). $3.99, 26 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

In this issue, we get some answers about Declan's condition, but the mystery of Jack deepens a bit. At the end of the first issue, Declan started talking after decades of silence, which is freaking his nurse, Reece, out a bit. Declan, you'll recall, is "colder" than most people - his body temperature started dropping in 1941 and hasn't stopped, even though it's doing so very slowly. So he doesn't age, and for years he didn't move much, because he was hiding from Jack. Now, it seems he needs to be more active. So he shows Reece what he can do - he can enter the minds of the insane and heal them, while Jack, it seems, makes them worse so he can steal that energy and grow stronger (I told you the mystery of Jack got deeper). Obviously, Tobin is setting up a confrontation between those two, but he also seems to have some other stuff in mind, so it will be interesting to see where he goes with it. He gives us glimpses into the minds of two different people with different issues, and Declan also somehow shows Reece some of what happened to him in 1941. There's a lot going on, in other words.

Ferreyra, obviously, continues to do an amazing job with the artwork. The brightness of Boston in the spring is contrasted very well with the strangeness of the minds we enter, one of which shows a nightmarish cityscape full of impossible buildings and pollution, the other of which shows a girl on a stage surrounded by people with only one large eye in the middle of their faces. Ferreyra also colors the asylum in 1941 with an eerie glow, making the proceedings there even more disturbing. His line work is beautiful, but he can also draw horror wonderfully, and there's a traumatic event at the end of the book that we know is coming, but is still terribly shocking. He also designs really fascinating and horrifying creatures to populate the mindscapes, which makes those pages even more unsettling.

I don't know where Tobin is going with Colder, but two issues in, it's a really good comic. I can't wait to read more!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Deadpool #3 ("Dr. Strange Lives (Or How I Learned Deadpool Was Da Bomb)") by Brian Posehn (writer), Gerry Duggan (writer), Tony Moore (artist), Val Staples (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Posehn, Duggan, Moore, and Staples continue to knock Deadpool right out of the park, as Doctor Strange shows up for an issue to check out the scene because he initially thinks Deadpool and Agent Preston are full of it, but he quickly realizes it's a bit more serious than he thought. So he gives Deadpool a magic sword he can use to smite the undead, whispers something to him that Deadpool doesn't like (we don't know what it is, but I assume we'll find out soon enough), and zips away. He deadpans a lot, too, which goes well with Deadpool's over-the-top humor. Plus, he still holds a grudge against Ben Franklin, and a footnote tells us that Posehn and Duggan are referencing an actual comic, which is awesome. Posehn and Duggan keep on coming up with funny stuff, like the fate of Undead Gerald Ford (a joke I hope everyone gets) and the "How-on-earth-did-that-get-past-the-censors" Joke of the Week (see below). Moore, of course, is phenomenal, and Staples always does high quality work.

As I mentioned last issue, I never thought I'd be enjoying a Deadpool comic this much. It is an absolute blast to read, and I'm really glad that Marvel is letting the creative team go a bit nuts with it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Detective #15 ("The Dirt Nap"/"Love in Bloom") by John Layman (writer), Jason Fabok (artist, "Nap"), Andy Clarke (artist, "Love"), Jeromy Cox (colorist, "Nap"), Blond (colorist, "Love"), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer, "Nap"), and Taylor Esposito (letterer, "Love"). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, DC.

I'm not sure what's going to happen in issues #16 and 17 of 'Tec, because they're also part of the latest decades-spanning Batman crossover (were there any issues between "The Court of Owls" and "Death of the Family"?), but I do enjoy that Layman basically ignores it in this issue - he's telling his own damned story, man, and Scott Snyder can SUCK IT! The Penguin leaves the stage because of the crossover, but this is still a story about Ogilvy, who wants to take the Penguin's place, and how he's trying to build an alliance to do so. So instead of killing Poison Ivy, he makes Oswald think she's dead, then recruits her. Meanwhile, Batman defeats Clayface. What, you thought he might not?

Layman's grand plan for this initial story is coming more into focus - Ogilvy has been making himself extremely useful, and presumably he was going to get rid of the Penguin whether this crossover happened or not, and Layman just uses it as a nice excuse. I always enjoy it when writers do villains in different ways - "Crooked Businessman Penguin" has been fascinating for years - and I also like it when people challenge those villains, so I'm on board with "Emperor Penguin" ... okay, maybe not the name, but I can live with it, I guess. As dark as Fabok's art is - and it is, although he continues to be impressive - these first three issues feel like very "classic" Batman, which is nice. I mentioned after the first issue that Layman told me he's writing it as "all-ages," and that continues to hold - there's no horrific violence or sex in this book, which I think helps create that "classic" feel - Batman is just figuring out what the bad guys are doing and stopping them. Who knew that could work?

I do have a few questions about both the main story and the back-up story. In the back-up story, why does Ivy go to the motel? This is, I believe, after Ogilvy has recruited her, and presumably she doesn't need Clayface anymore. So why does she do it? I imagine Layman will revisit the cliffhanger soon enough, but it seems like that was a dumb move by Ms. Isley. Oh well. Finally, in the main story, is the Joker actually standing next to the desk? I thought it was just the Penguin thinking about him, but then it seems like Ogilvy can see him. Or maybe Ogilvy is just pondering his next move. It was strange. I should probably ask Layman.

So, Detective. I don't know - I like it. Take what you want from that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hawkeye #5 ("The Tape Part 2 of 2") by Matt Fraction (writer), Javier Pulido (artist), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Okay, before I discuss the writing and the art on this comic, I just want to say that the editing was fan-fucking-tastic. Seriously, this comic was EDITED LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER! If this doesn't win the Eisner for Best Editing, I will cut someone!

Wait, there's no Eisner Award for Best Editing? MOTHERFUCKER! This OUTRAGE WILL NOT STAND! This is what's wrong with the world, people - the person who edited this comic will toil away, sans accolades, while bastards like Matt Fraction and Javier Pulido and Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos will REAP the benefits of someone else's hard work. Fuck. I'm pissed. Fucking comics.

I was not too impressed with Hawkeye #4, but issue #5 is a bit better ... and a bit worse, strangely enough. Pulido does a better job, which is strange, because it's not like he got a lot better in the interim - he's been a good artist for years, and I guess issue #4 was just somehow ... off. The book doesn't have quite the gorgeous look as when Aja draws it, but Pulido manages to lay out the pages much better than he did in issue #4 so that he can pack a lot of information into not a lot of space, and it seems to work. There are some seriously well-designed pages in this issue, so that's nice.

I mentioned last time what an idiotic plot this was, but I did say that because it was part 1 of 2, I was willing to see if Fraction had something up his sleeve to pull it out of the fire. Well, he does, but I'm not sure his "reveal" makes the story any better. It makes more sense, sure, but I still don't see why a tape of an Avenger killing someone, especially a terrorist, would be such a big deal. In fact, it might have been better if the tape had made it out, because Clint can take the theoretical heat that would have come down on him. Plus, Maria Hill and Not Nick Fury talk about this terrorist as if he was some big shot, but we don't know that. Would the minions of Du Ke Feng really have come after Clint if the tape had been released? I imagine whoever replaced him would have sent a nice bouquet to Clint with the note "Thanks for taking out the competition!" I just don't get the big deal about the tape getting out. Kate's an idiot if she thinks Clint hasn't killed anyone - Fraction can claim in the letters page that the bad guys in earlier issues were just blinded, but come on - and again, why would the public care? Not Nick Fury's plan could still have worked if the tape got out, and people wouldn't have almost died. But what the hell do I know?

But, hey, props to Clint cutting his feet on glass. I love when reality intrudes on superheroing, and let's face it - people in comics and movies are always crashing through glass without getting a scratch (Clint himself does so in this issue, although he does lead with a chair), which is silly, so it's nice that Clint lost a shoe and then had to stand on glass. I appreciate that.

"Eucritta" is Greek for "true creature." No, I don't know why the operation is named that. I'm sure there's a reason.

Man, the editing on this comic. It's breathtaking.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Legends of the Dark Knight #3 ("Letters to Batman") by Steve Niles (writer), Trevor Hairsine (artist), Antonio Fabela (colorist), and Saida Temofonte (letterer). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC.

Another kind of Batman story I dig is when Batman is reminded how much people dig having him around, so it's nice that Niles gives us one. Batman captures the Joker at the beginning of the issue, and it seems that before he can even walk through the doors of Arkham, he escapes again. Batman is a tiny bit pissed off (it seems Niles is satirizing the fact that DC can't just kill the Joker, even though that would be the smart thing to do, but maybe I'm wrong), but before he can start looking for the Joker again, Gordon gives him a bunch of sacks full of mail addressed to him that the GCPD has accumulated over the years (yes, Batman is EXACTLY like Santa). Alfred tells Batman to stop being a whiny bitch and maybe read some letters, so Batman does. Of course, they're all about how great Batman is because he saved some woman from a mugging or worse, he helped a bar owner take down some punks, and he set a good example for a felon who is trying to turn his life around. Batman not only reads them, he uses one to help him find the Joker, leading to a pretty funny final page.

This kind of "the people respond to Batman" story goes back at least to the 1970s, if not further (Greg Hatcher or, of course, Our Dread Lord and Master would know), but I still like them. It seems that the regular folk of Gotham are often reduced to random victims, so it's nice to see when they get a voice, and Niles, while not giving us too complex characters (it's a 30-page story, after all), does a good job showing different kinds of people and how they might have been affected by Batman. Like this week's issue of Detective, there's no gore (the threat of violence is a bit more real than in 'Tec, but there's still not much of it), even with the Joker in the book, and it's nice that we have two Batman books in the same week that show Batman using his brain rather than his fists to solve things. There's room for all kinds of Batman stories, and it's keen that we get two different kinds in the same week.

I like Hairsine's art. I kind of wish he worked more often, or at least worked on comics that I want to read more often. I love that he gave the Joker a new outfit. The Joker needs different clothes, man!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #4 by Greg Rucka (writer), Matthew Southworth (artist/colorist), and Rico Renzi (colorist). $3.99, 27 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

As Rucka has been writing this kind of homage to gritty 1970s detective shows, it's probably appropriate that he throw in a car chase, and so he does in this issue, and it's one of the more exciting car chases you're ever going to see in comics, which is not a terribly good medium for car chases. But Southworth is amazing at getting across the speed and the curves and the sheer terror of racing cars around a city. Last issue ended with the bad guys confronting Dex in her office, so after four pages of that, in which they manage to grab the guitar, we're off! Southworth turns the issue on its side (so it's "landscape" rather than "portrait") and gives us six pages of speeding around Portland, then, after a cop manages to stop them for a moment, we get 11 more pages of racing around. If I were a big jerk, I might point out the big double-page spread in the middle of the book that seems to waste space, but I won't, because unlike a lot of double-page spreads in comics, Southworth really earns this one, leading up to it nicely and nailing it with a minimalistic approach to the drawing. Southworth does a fantastic job keeping the action moving along quickly, flashing inside the car with Dex and Mim so that Rucka can write some snarky Dex dialogue (she's pissed that Mim is in the car with her) and doing a very good job with laying out the page - if this were film, I imagine it would be in "shaky-cam," which would be annoying, but because the comic is static, Southworth can use small panels overlaid on a larger backdrop to keep the scene moving while still giving us a sense of where everything is in relation to each other. I'm still having some issues with the coloring on the book, but it works better in this issue because Southworth and Renzi can use special effects to mimic the speed at which the cars are driving and the method they're using looks better on inanimate objects than people, and there's a lot of scenery in this issue. In two panels, it appears a pick-up truck has a Confederate flag painted on the back window of the cab, but it's not there in any other view of the truck. I assume that's a mistake.

The chase, in case you're wondering, seems like it would work in Portland, although Rucka skips some places. The cars reach the St. Johns Bridge pretty quickly, and then they really zip through North Portland. The curve where Dex almost drives off a cliff is North Willamette Boulevard, on the other side of the University of Portland, and that's close but not too close to Cathedral Park, where the cop pulls them over. It appears they go back across the river on the Broadway Bridge - you can see the Steel Bridge in the background to Dex's left - because that bridge would take them back to Union Station, but I have no idea which drawbridge they head toward after that. I'm going to assume it's the Burnside and leave it at that. Yes, I'm being far too geeky, but I love that Rucka sets this in a real city and tries to make Dex's movements in the city correspond to reality. Like all car chases, we have to assume that there are absolutely no other cars on the road as Dex and the bad guys zip around (I know Southworth draws them, but they would have to be completely stopped so that Dex and the other car don't crash into them), but where she drives makes sense.

I'm glad that Rucka waited to get this out until Southworth could finish the art, because it really does help that the issues are coming out so close together. No, it's not the most complex story, but Rucka does just assume we're going to keep up, so it's nice that it hasn't been six months since the most recent issue has come out! I'm curious to see how this sucker resolves!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Thunderbolts #1 ("Enlisted") by Daniel Way (writer), Steve Dillon (artist), Guru eFX (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

It's another new #1, and it's one title that I wasn't even the smallest bit interested in. I've never been a fan of Daniel Way, I like Dillon's art but don't think it's all that well-suited to cape comics, and the characters on the team don't interest me. So it would take a lot for me to like this comic.

Unfortunately, I don't. It's not a very good comic at all. It's a very bland "gathering-the-team" issue, beginning with Thaddeus Ross somehow trapping Frank Castle in a warehouse (did he have to Hulk out to do so?) and then texting a photograph of him to every bad guy who might want to kill the Punisher. So he has a few minutes to convince Frank to join his team before all the bad guys in creation arrive and kill him. Intercut with this is Ross recruiting the rest of the team. It's remarkably boring - Venom, Deadpool, and Elektra are all killing people when Ross gets them, and Dillon makes sure it's all very bloody (this is a remarkably gory book for a regular Marvel comic), but we already know they're all good killers, so who cares? Yes, Deadpool killing mimes is humorous, but who cares? We already know they're all on the team, so Way could have started with a bigger bang and then showed how Ross recruited them later, after we're already into the story. The way he chooses makes this first issue a snoozer, even with all the blood.

And then there's Mercy. Mercy is the "secret" member of the team, in case you're wondering. I checked, and it appears that Mercy hasn't been around since Peter David - who created her - was writing The Incredible Hulk. She appeared a handful of times in that run, and in a mini-series in 2005, but not since. I guess Way is trying to do what so many other writers have done before him - resurrect a minor character that a few readers will know, but who's enough of a mystery that it will be surprising to see said character - and that's fine, but the way he writes the scene, it seems like we should know more about what's going on. Plus, Dillon draws the scene poorly - it's very unclear what the Hulk does to Mercy, and Way doesn't explain it. I know Way is trying to keep things mysterious, but it's more boring than intriguing. We don't know what Mercy does solely from this issue, and that makes her appearance far less interesting than it might otherwise be. Again, if Way had begun this in media res, we could have seen what Mercy does and it might have made us think, "Hey ... who is that? She's intersting!" But in this issue, she's fighting the Hulk, she's in a cell, she's doing ... something, and there's blood spatter behind her. To me, that's not terribly interesting.

Dillon is fine, I guess, although he doesn't do anything to make me think he can do cape comics, and I've never liked his artwork combined with digital effects, which is what we get here. I don't think I've ever read a Dillon comic that worked only based on his artwork - he does very good work when he's paired with a good writer, but his art can't save a crappy script. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time he's had to draw a crappy script by Daniel Way, and the results are the same.

This is a pretty boring and surprisingly bland comic with almost nothing to recommend it. I mean, the only reason to read it is if you're so obsessed with these characters that you'll read anything they're in. If that's the case, nothing I say will change your mind. For everyone else, though, I can tell you that while other Marvel NOW! books have pissed me off more, none of them have been as dull as this. Yes, even with the mimes.

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

X-Factor #248 ("Being Monet St. Croix") by Peter David (writer), Paul Davidson (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

After what seems like years of David Yardin covers (I don't know how long it's been because of Marvel's shipping policy - this is the 19th issue of X-Factor that has been published this year), it's a bit stunning to see a different cover artist. I don't like David Williams and Jay David Ramos' cover as much as Yardin's, but that's neither here nor there - it's just surprising to see such a different style on the cover. Oh well - I don't buy comics based on the covers, so let's move on!

After last issue's detour to Las Vegas (which ties into the whole "Fall of X-Factor" that David has begun, but still), we're back in New York, with the team trying to figure out why Pip, who was shot in the head, is still breathing. Meanwhile, Pip's soul is still around, and he jumps into the nearest psychically-tuned body ... which happens to be Monet (hence the title). It's juvenile but in character that the first thing Pip does is try to check out Monet's rack, but she's also still in there, and she puts a stop to that. Pip can't get back into his own body, but he also can't get a reading on the bullet to find the person who shot him, so Longshot does it. Meanwhile, Jamie and Layla return from Vegas, and they're picked up by a creepy taxi driver who takes them to the same place the rest of team ends up at - the Botanical Garden. That's where they find the woman who shot Pip, as well as other bad things. Oh dear.

David, of course, set this story up quite a while ago (in whatever issue it was), and he's done a good job pulling it all together. As usual, there's not a lot to say - David is a really good comic book writer, so this is a really good comic book. I don't think Davidson does as good a job on this issue as he's done on some the issues in the past couple of years, and I can't really put my finger on it. This issue seems to rely more on comic timing and characterization, and that doesn't seem to be Davidson's strong suit. There are a lot of people standing around in this issue, and while some artists can do a lot with that limitation, Davidson doesn't seem to be one of them. Oh well. I don't like that the book's artistic carousel seems to be spinning a bit faster and we're getting a new artist each issue instead sticking with one for an arc and then getting a new one, so I hope that changes. I think Leonard Kirk is doing the big upcoming story arc, and that's fine, but until that fires up, I wish we could get an artist to stick here for 3-4 issues. I don't think that's too much to ask for, is it?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fourth World Omnibus volume 4 by the King of Comics (writer/artist), plus a bunch of people who should be happy they got to work with him! $29.99, 424 pgs, FC, DC.

Now I can sit down and plow through all four of these volumes. I can't wait!

Fury MAX: My War Gone By volume 1 by Garth Ennis (writer), Goran Parlov (artist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Rob Steen (letterer). $19.99, 132 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I ordered this when I thought it was a six-issue mini-series. Now that I know it's a 12-issue mini-series, I'm a bit bummed, because I imagine Marvel will release a big complete version at some point. Oh well - I'm sure it's still fun to read!

Valen the Outcast volume 2: Death Eternal by Michael Alan Nelson (writer), Matteo Scalera (artist), Archie van Buren (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $14.99, 88 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

This series only lasted eight issues, but the first trade was quite good, so I'm looking forward to the second one. I don't know if Nelson planned it as eight issues - the concept couldn't last too long, I don't think - or if sales were so bad it got the ax, but whatever it was, two trades are out, and that ain't bad.

X-O Manowar volume 1: By the Sword by Robert Venditti (writer), Cary Nord (penciler), Stefano Gaudiano (inker), Moose Baumann (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $9.99, 95 pgs, FC, Valiant.

Ten dollars for four issues is pretty good, I reckon. And people have been asking me why I haven't dived into nuValiant, so here I go!


I know I make jokes about my own laziness because I don't have a job and my kids are in school most of the day and I sit on my ass and blog a lot, but let me tell you, I don't have anything on my lazy motherfucking pets:

Must be nice. The cat in the foreground is our bully, by the way, and she often picks on the one in the background. Of course, when there's napping to catch up on, everyone can get along!

Mike Sterling has been blogging for NINE years. I've been reading it for almost as long - Progressive Ruin was one of the reasons I started blogging, in fact - and I'm impressed that he's been keeping it up for so long. This blog is a few days away from turning 8, so there is that, but Mike's all by himself, and he keeps trucking along! Congratulations, Mr. Sterling!

I was reading this post, which linked to this Kickstarter project. Like the post in which I saw the link, I really can't decide if this is sarcastic or not. I really believe this is serious, which makes me shake my head in wonderment. The world is a wacky place, full of wacky people, and I wouldn't want it any other way!

I enjoy these homoerotic towel advertisements starring World War II soldiers quite a lot, but not as much as I enjoy these phallic adverts. You must read the copy for the clothing one, because it's ... man, it's something. The Seventies RULED, man!

I'd like to rant about something one of my fellow bloggers wrote on this here site yesterday - Sonia's latest Committed column. I was going to leave a comment, but then I thought I might get a tad verbose (I know, shocking), so I decided to write about it here. I don't always agree with everything everyone writes on this blog or on the Internet or in published works, which isn't surprising because that would be weird if I did. But I can't recall ever disagreeing with Sonia more about a topic. Now, it doesn't matter if I disagree with her or not - she's not setting forth a public governmental policy that affects lives, she's just writing about enjoying comics without worrying about the behind-the-scenes shit, and I can respect that. She did slip in something important about Karen Berger leaving Vertigo - "everyone tip toes around the fact that this coincides with [DC's] decision to publish more and more books aimed at little boys" - and about the lack of diversity from, I assume, DC - "Are we ignoring the fact that a major publisher doesn't publish a single book that I can get on board with because they've been clear about not wanting money from the adult female demographic?" - but her rant is more about ignoring the stupid shit and enjoying comics. But I disagree.

I was never all that interested in the way comics got made or the opinions of the creators. That was because I wasn't writing about comics. As I write more about comics, I've gotten much more interested in that aspect, and I think it's fascinating to read about how decisions are made, why decisions are made (even though the shills at Marvel and DC will never give a straight answer), and other issues about making comics. People have called me cynical in the past, but you know what? Knowing all this shit about comics and their creators doesn't change my opinion of the actual comics one iota. I will stop buying Hawkeye if it starts to suck, not because Stephen Wacker decided to pick a fight with me. I will not skip The Whistling Skull just because Tony Harris wrote something stupid on Facebook. I might enjoy fewer comics these days than I used to (I don't think I do, but I might), but that's because I used to read them far less critically than I do now, but that's okay. All that means is that I think I put up with less bullshit masked as "AWESOME" and the stuff I do like, I appreciate a lot more for the craft that goes into it. The process of making comics helps me appreciate them MORE, I think. Sonia also mentions that we should "keep talking about the parts we love, and the comic books which inspire us" and "talk about and propagate the good comic books, ignoring the bad." This has been Chad Nevett's bête noire for years - he thinks we should call out the bad - and I agree with him, even though I don't do it that often. I tend to write about the good because I spend money on comics, and I'm not going to buy something that I think is shit. However, if I do get comics for free and they suck, I'm going to have some fun with them (see: the #1 DCnU issues and the first Marvel NOW! books).

Now, Sonia does point out that we shouldn't obsess over the shit, and I agree with her. I tend to ignore writing about comics-related news - I have nothing to say about Karen Berger, for instance, because other people have said it better and, more importantly, I don't really care all that much - but that doesn't mean I don't notice it. But again, it doesn't affect my love of comics in the least. Does it suck that Hellblazer is ending? Sure. Will I miss it? Eh, probably not. Does it suck that most of DC's DCnU output is crap? Absolutely. But it doesn't bother me all that much. None of the shitty stuff surrounding comics ever stops me from loving comics. But that's just me.

Sonia does make a scathing oblique reference to The Hawkeye Initiative, however. That's too bad, because The Hawkeye Initiative is awesome.

By the way - my offer to Stephen Wacker still stands. No holds barred interview. The Comics Blogaxy would shatter!!!!

Let's move on to The Ten Most Recent Songs on My iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle):

1. "How Come" - Pogues (1996) "What kind of bread are you gonna bake with that hemlock in your spice rack?"12. "Laura" - Scissor Sisters (2004) "Won't you just tell Baby Daddy I'm gonna need his love"3. "She's a Star" - James (1997) "She's been in disguise forever; she's tried to disguise her stellar views"4. "Whores" - Jane's Addiction (1987) "They cast that pearl and it don't upset 'em, they take their chances if they get 'em"25. "Get Up (Before the Night Is Over)" - Technotronic (1989) "We got to take a stand now that we're in demand"36. "Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive" - Men At Work (1983) "He loves the world except for all the people"47. "Need You Tonight" - INXS (1987) "You can care all you want - everybody does, yeah, that's okay"8. "Believe" - Lenny Kravitz (1993) "'Cause being free is a state of mind, we'll one day leave this all behind"59. "Our Generation (The Hope of the World)" - John Legend and the Roots featuring CL Smooth (2010) "Our leaders make us fight, and we don't know what for, if they want people killed, let them fight the war"10. "It's a Long Way to the Top (If Ya Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" - AC/DC (1975) "Gettin' robbed, gettin' stoned, gettin' beat up, broken boned"6

1 One reason I love the Pogues: This song is about a guy who suspects his girlfriend (?) is a witch. How many other bands write songs about such pressing matters????

2 Is this song controversial because Ferrell uses the "n-word"? I don't know. It's an awesome song, though, one of my favorites by the band. Even then, it was clear that while Ferrell was interesting, Navarro drove the band. I listen to Strays these days solely for the guitar work on it, which is amazing.

3 And that stand is ... DANCE, MOTHERFUCKERS!

4 Hey! This was the song from which I got the Totally Random Lyrics last week! How about that?

5 Is this the last great Lenny Kravitz song? The rest of the album is okay, and Circus is just okay, and then I stopped buying his albums. So I don't know. I do know that the guitar solo that ends this song is the motherfucking bomb!

6 As I always point out when this song comes up on my iPod: BAGPIPE SOLO, BITCHES!!!! Also: My 7-year-old daughter likes to sing along to this song. We're indoctrinating her so well!

Totally Random Lyrics? But of course!

"Up on the hilltop where the vultures perch,That's where I'm gonna build my church,Ain't gonna be no priest, ain't gonna be no boss;Just Charles Nelson Reilly nailed to a cross"

And wouldn't that just be swell? I hope everyone has a great weekend! Not much time left for Christmas shopping! What are you going to get me?

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