What I bought - 6 April 2011

A young girl, a frailty, simple and true, who had been unable to stand up from the piano and had had to be carried; a girl half his age; a girl who could not shoot a gun, had never been in an oyster house, atop a tower, or under the wharves; a girl hotter always than noon in August; a girl who knew nothing; had thrown him so hard that he would be out of breath forever. (Mark Helprin, from Winter's Tale)

Blue Estate #1 ("The Rachel Situation") by Viktor Kalvachev (storier/artist/colorist), Kosta Yanev (storier), Andrew Osborne (scripter), Toby Cypress (artist), Nathan Fox (artist), and Robert Valley (artist). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Viktor Kalvachev digs noir, apparently, as his latest book is this, which is an odd noir mash-up that subverts the genre as much as it celebrates it. Kalvachev came up with the idea and enlisted a script writer and artists to help him bring it to life, and the result is a nifty little story that I hope continues in this odd vein. Osborne begins the story with Roy Devine Jr., private investigator, the adopted son of a hero cop, who's obviously better suited to sitting on his ass watching television than solving cases. Into his office walks Rachel Maddox, the trophy wife of an action movie star, and that's where the book gets weird. The story is told through a flashback (the first few pages serving as a framing device), but what's interesting is that Kalvachev and Osborne constantly shift focus onto different characters - we get introduced to Rachel, a B-movie actress until she got cast opposite megastar Bruce Maddox in one installment of his action franchise. But we follow Bruce, and then Bruce's producer (a shady Russian mobster), and then an Italian mobster with whom the Russian does business, and then we check in on Roy's father, who's building a case against both gangsters, and then we loop back around to Bruce Maddox and finally to Rachel. It's a fun way to tell the story, because not only does it introduce all the characters quickly, it messes with our perceptions of when things are happening, and if Osborne can pull it off, it will be much more like a puzzle than we usually get in comics, which should make it rather fun.

Osborne does a nice job playing with the clichés of the genre - Roy is a schlub, Bruce is apparently gay (although it's a tiny bit unclear) - so that we're always on our toes, even when he's using the clichés to tell the story. Meanwhile, Kalvachev has recruited some nice artists to work on the book. It's not difficult to see the style changes, but it is somewhat seamless, as it appears each artist works on a different character (Fox definitely draws the part with Don Luciano, while it appears Valley draws the section with Bruce and Rachel making the scene after their movie is complete, which shifts well into Cypress drawing the part with the Russian). The artists are similar enough that the shifts aren't too jarring, and Kalvachev's coloring helps the transitions. It will be interesting to see how the artistic demarcation holds up in future issues.

I'm not sure if this is an ongoing or a mini-series (the web site doesn't say, although the implication is that it's ongoing), but it's certainly an interesting start. What the book lacks in characterization (we don't really get a lot) it makes up for in cool art and nice, twisty storytelling. Give it a try!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Chew #18 (Flambé Part 3 of 5") by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Steven Struble (color assistant). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

I'm dying to spoil this issue, but I won't. Suffice it to say that it features the return of a character we all know and love, and it's absolutely balls-out awesome. That's not surprising, because it's Chew, but the way Layman builds up to it is just wonderful. We think the book is going one way, and then ... BOOM!

Anyway, Layman gives us another one-in-done issue that nevertheless still ties into the alien sky writing, as the leader of North Korea went a bit bonkers when the writing appeared and claims that he will unleash a new biological weapon on the world. Chu and Colby are teamed up with the USDA - as we've already seen, apparently every agent in the USDA is a buxom young lady - to stop him, but they're there only to use the horrific back-up plan that will kill everything in the vicinity, including all the agents. So, of course they're forced to use said back-up plan. Duh!

As always, it's a hilarious and violent issue, and Layman constantly surprises with the way he structures the plot. In the beginning, Mason Savoy and his partner are investigating the North Korean, but they go no further with it. Why? Well, that's why you should read the book! Plus, Tony's boss is still peeved and him and his partner, so they keep getting put on harder and harder missions, all of which are lovingly drawn in four giant panels spread over two pages. We know things will go badly on the mission, but Layman still manages to make the entire fight both horrible and humorous - it's a nice trick. Meanwhile, Guillory continues to absolutely rock on the book. There's not much to say except, well, there's a panel with Tony and Colby as a rabbit and a wolf, respectively. And yes, it's awesome.

The best thing about Chew is that it keeps getting better. Considering how good it's been, that's impressive. And next time, we get issue #27, as Layman jumps forward in time to check in on his characters. Won't that be fun?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fallen Angel: Return of the Son #3 by Peter David (writer), J. K. Woodward (artist/colorist), and Shawn Lee (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

This is an issue of a comic book series. In it, things happen that have great importance with regard to the future of the characters in this comic book series. It is written by a man who writes many comic books, and it is drawn by a man who draws many comic books. There is nothing that makes this issue of this comic book series any different from the over fifty issues which preceded it, save that the man who drew this issue did not draw the first twenty issues of this comic book series. If you enjoy the work of the man who writes this comic book series and the work of the man who draws this comic book series, you will probably like this issue of this comic book series.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fear Itself #1 ("The Serpent") by Matt Fraction (writer), Stuart Immonen (penciller), Wade von Grawbadger (inker?), Laura Martin (colorist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer). $3.99, 44 pgs, FC, Marvel.

And so it begins. I've been checking out of most Marvel and DC event books over the past 15 years or so, mainly because I quickly burned out on them in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and once you realize that nothing ever really changes, they're fairly easy to leave behind. The Bendisverse and Johnsian crossovers haven't been anything I've been interested in, so I think the only big event book I've read in this century is Final Crisis (I'm a shameless Whorrison, after all). This summer, however, I'm geeked out about both Marvel and DC crossovers, for any number of reasons (Bendis not writing Marvel's, Immonen drawing it, alternate reality!), and Fear Itself is first out of the gate.

It's ... okay. Definitely not what I think of when I think of an event book - it's no "Atlantis Attacks," amirite? The biggest problem is that it's 44 pages long and it still feels padded. Fraction spends a lot - a lot - of time on his two main plot points - the Red Skull's daughter gets some big-ass evil hammer and resurrects her dad (?), while Odin gets pissy with Thor, takes his hammer away (it's all hammer symbolism in this comic - the big virile man gets his penis taken away, while the wildly unfeminine villain gets her very own penis substitute!), and orders the Norse gods to leave Earth. That's pretty much it. Yes, it's scrumptiously drawn by Immonen, and with the opening scene dealing with a riot in lower Manhattan (over the building of a mosque? could be ...), Fraction does a decent job establishing the tenor of the series, but it's still a lot of extreme decompression, and when it comes to event books, you don't freaking need decompression! Sin gets a hammer. Boom! Odin gets pissy. Boom! Fight Fight Fight!!!!!! I'm not even talking about the little character moments - the dude leaving Broxton because there's no work is a nifty scene with a good final line. Steve Rogers' response to the woman trying to interview him in the middle of the riot is fun. But everything seems to take a page or two too long - The first page (which could easily be cut), Odin's chat with Uatu, Odin's dick-measuring contest with Thor, Sin's journey deep under the ocean ... I guess the idea is to let Immonen go nuts, but it's not like those astonishing pages from Nextwave where Ellis just allowed Immonen to draw double-paged spreads of the gang fighting every crazy thing he and Ellis could think of. If we get an issue where Fraction wants Immonen to draw heroes whaling on bad guys and lets him spread that out for a few more pages than it needs to be, I'm all in. But when you're developing the story and it's a fairly simple one at that, get the fuck to it!

The biggest thing that bugs me about the issue is Odin. Perhaps this is explained in Fraction's Thor run (and if it is, that's annoying, because how many people are going to read this who haven't been reading Thor?), but what's his deal? He goes on and on about fixing Asgard with a snap of his fingers, but he doesn't do it. It seems like he made some kind of promise that he wouldn't, but it's completely unclear. It's unclear because later, he does just what he keeps saying he's going to do - snap his fingers, and the gods all leave. So what the hell? Why does he care if Thor goes with him? It's a central theme of the book, and it makes no sense. Again, maybe it does if you've been reading Thor, but that's no way to begin an event! (And if it's supposed to be confusing behavior, as Our Dread Lord and Master posits, why doesn't Thor say something like "Hey, Odin, why are you acting like such a dick?" See? One line of dialogue lets us know it's a mystery!)

I'm planning on breaking this down a bit more thoroughly in a separate post - no, I'm not going to annotate it as Tim Callahan keeps threatening to do, but I want to look at it more closely - so I'll leave it at that, except for some random comments about it:

1. Wade von Grawbadger, who might have the bad-assest name in the English language, is listed on the cover but not on the first page. Did he ink this or not?

2. That trade dress really is awful. I can't imagine anyone with an artistic bone in their body coming up with it. Immonen doesn't draw the cover, but I can't believe McNiven would do that. If I find out that it was an artist and not some terrible editorial decision, I'll be sad.

3. On page 14, Tony Stark tells Steve Rogers that "Captain America" doesn't come with the same "caché" it once did. He means, of course, "cachet," which is pronounced the same way. On page 19, Odin uses the word "prophesy" when he means "prophecy." On page 28 he says "prophesies" when he means "prophecies." On page 38, Sin's father (who looks nothing like the Red Skull) says "There is a prophesy" when he means "prophecy." What's fascinating is that on page 12, Sin uses "prophecy" correctly. On page 25, Sin ruminates: "My hammer ... of which only I am worthy to wield." There's no need for the "of." You may think I'm picking nits, and I am, but this is basic spelling and English - it's not complicated grammar or nuthin'. "Prophecy" and "prophesy" are two different words, for fuck's sake. I'm just pointing it out because, not for the first nor last time, I really wonder why Marvel employs Lauren Sankovitch and other assistant editors of her ilk if they don't do a fucking thing. I mean, honestly - what are their duties? They don't hound artists to get the books out on time. They don't correct spelling and grammar. They don't (for the most part) employ footnotes to tell us that Odin is a dick because of something that happened in Fraction's Thor run. Sounds like a fucking cushy job, if you ask me. As long as you tell Bendis he's a genius once or twice a week, you're golden!

4. Speaking of Bendis, doesn't he look really creepy on that interview page in the middle of this book? He kind of looks like a bald, evil Nathan Lane. It's totally freaking me out!

5. "Imagine it, Steven! With your mind!" That was pretty funny.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Herc #1 ("Gods of Brooklyn") by Greg Pak (writer), Fred van Lente (writer), Neil Edwards (penciller), Scott Hanna (inker), Jesus Aburtov (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

As you know, I've been loving Van Lente and Pak's Incredible Hercules for five years or so, and I'm definitely going to see if they can continue the magic without Amadeus Cho and Herc's god-like powers. It's off to a rocky start, unfortunately (no pun intended).

See, part of the fun of Incredible Hercules was the buddy-comedy aspect of it. Hercules and Amadeus had an excellent friendship, and they had a good time goofing around with each other. Amadeus was teaching Hercules how to be more human, while Hercules was teaching Amadeus to be less of a geek. That's what made the book good - sure, there were a lot of epic plots, but epic plots in superhero books are a dime a dozen, so it needed something more, and the buddy-comedy parts were where the book really distinguished itself. That's gone now, as Amadeus is over in Incredible Hulks (man, what a shit name of a comic) for a time, and who knows after that. I really do hope that Pak and Van Lente have him back in this book, even though it seems like they're going in a different direction with the character. If that direction includes the Hobgoblin and the Kingpin (as it seems to from this issue), I don't know why I would remain interested.

Anyway, the basic plot has Herc living in Brooklyn without powers but still carrying around several god-esque weapons which allow him to kick much ass, as per usual. He meets a restauranteur whose life he saves (the dude was getting shaken down by some of the Kingpin's punks), and the man hires him and gives him a place to sleep. The man has two daughters, the responsible one (Helene) and the crazy one (Rhea). If you immediately think that Helene is a cold fish who will eventually learn how to love Hercules and that in the meantime, Herc will be off tapping Rhea ... well, I hope the writers don't go that way, but Herc does get busy with Rhea in this issue. Resist the other part of that path, gentlemen! I beg you!

One more thing: This is a weird comic, ratings-wise. It's rated "T+," which, according to Marvel, means that it's okay for kids 13 and up. Groovy. Kids 13 and up today are playing first-person video games where they can slaughter hundreds of people in bloody fashion, so this comic won't scar them in the least. So on page 2, Hercules stone cold cuts some dude's arm right the fuck off. I mean, you can see the bone. The motherfucking bone! We see this dude three more times in the comic, and there is absolutely no blood spurting from the wound on his arm. He has his hand over the stump the entire time, and there's no blood whatsoever! So why would Marvel allow Neil Edwards to draw Hercules cutting off some dude's arm and not show the aftereffects? Considering that later, they show Rhea basically throwing herself at Hercules and then hanging out later dressed in her underwear (I wonder what they were doing?), this isn't the most subtle comic book, yet God forbid they show even a little blood. We don't see the severed arm anywhere, either. Things like this crack me right up.

The major problem with this book is that Herc is now some urban vigilante, and while that might work in the long run, this is kind of a dull issue (some of the writing shows the sparks that made the previous series so good, but there's not a lot of that). We have enough urban vigilantes in comics. Does Hercules really need to be one?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Heroes for Hire #5 ("Slay Misty for Me")* by Dan Abnett (writer), Andy Lanning (writer), Robert Atkins (penciler), Rebecca Buchman (inker), Jay David Ramos (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

* Yes, really.

Here's why you should make sure your original artist manages to stick around through an entire arc. First of all, I can't find anything about why Walker could only manage to crank out three issues of this book, but unless he had an emergency in his life, it's really annoying. Anyway, Walker gave us the iconic image of Misty's lips in the microphone (cribbed from other pop culture sources, sure, but still iconic), and in this issue, Robert Atkins tries to match that with the Puppet Master's lips. It doesn't work. Atkins' pencil work isn't as lush as Walker's, so his Puppet Master comes off as a completely comical figure, and while I know he's contrasting it to Misty's mouth, it's still silly, and I can't help but think that Walker would have done a better job with it. Sigh.

I'm not going to pick up more issues of Heroes for Hire, even though I didn't hate this arc. It started strong, but the last two issues felt rushed, as if Abnett and Lanning didn't trust themselves to give Misty's predicament time to play out (or perhaps they were worried about sales), so they got her out of it as soon as possible. I liked that she got out of it by herself with no help from the other heroes, and that continues in this issue, as she figures out how to stop the Punisher before he kills her, but it still lacks ... something. A je ne sais quoi, if you will. I don't mind a bigger thing going on, but I liked the weird missions of the first couple of issues, and it seems Abnett and Lanning played their ace - Misty's enslavement - a bit too early, and the series' momentum came crashing to a halt. Even if Paladin convinces her to continue with the idea of hiring heroes for a specific job, I don't trust Abnett and Lanning anymore, even though Walker's coming back. The ending of this arc just left a bad taste in my mouth. Oh well.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Love and Capes: Ever After #3 by Thomas F. Zahler (writer/artist). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW.

I guess Abby goes to her 15-year high school reunion, although I'm not sure. First of all, I know some high schools have reunions every five years, but that seems a bit much. Second, it could be her 10-year reunion, but she seems a bit older than that. Then there's the fact that Mark makes a 1990s pop culture reference (wait - it's not an Eighties reference? what a surprise!), so I suppose she could have graduated in 1995/96. Yes, I think about these things when I'm reading comics. Don't you?

Anyway, we get two stories in this issue - the reunion and Abby's anxiety about it, and the fact that Paul is hanging out with Charlotte and he never told Amazonia that he once went on a date with her. Zahler is too good of a creator to turn this into a British farce (although it's funny that Mrs. O'Lonergan anticipates that), but there are still some nice awkward moments. I don't know - this is just such a well-constructed comic, from the naturalistic yet zing-worthy dialogue to the solid art, so all I can do is give a brief plot synopsis and encourage you to buy it. You won't regret it!

As you can see from the panel below, Mark is wearing a Martini Ranch T-shirt. I do hope it's a reference to the band (unfortunately, it's an Eighties band! and Bill Paxton was in it!) and not the Scottsdale night club, because I doubt if Abby would like it if Mark was hanging out a night club. And what the hell was Bill Paxton doing in a new wave band, anyway?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Memoir #3 (of 6) ("Beware the Woods") by Ben McCool (writer), Nikki Cook (artist), and Tom B. Long (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, BW, Image.

Memoir continues to meander along, and although I enjoy it, it's starting to feel like 4 issues of story in a 6-issue bag (to coin a phrase). I mean, there's a point where "Making the town all creepy" goes from "establishing the mood" to "filling up a page count." In both issues #2 and 3, the plot moved along fairly well, but it also felt like maybe it could have moved a bit faster. I know I've complained about that before in this very post, but that's the way it is, man! I mean, I like the weird shadows that point Trent around the town are pretty neat-o, and I like that we get some information about the "amnesia" in Lowesville, but still.

Anyway, Cook's perverse art is still a big draw of the book - her people are twisted just enough to disturb us, even though they look mostly "normal." I didn't like the fact that in one panel she drew the FBI guys without faces - I thought it was something wildly disturbing but it seems like it was just that they were standing too far away from the "viewer" for her to bother. In a book like this that relies on a certain creepy factor, I don't think she should have left the faces blank just because she was a tad bit lazy. Beside that, though, I'm digging the art and I just hope the story lives up to the weirdness that McCool is spreading around. That's not too much to hope for, is it?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Orc Stain #6 ("The Arena of Meat") by James Stokoe (writer/artist/colorist). $2.99, 29 pgs, FC, Image.

Orc Stain returns, and I do hope its schedule doesn't fall apart completely. According to his blog, Stokoe is working on quite a bit, and while that's great, I hope this tiny little comic doesn't get left behind, especially if the other stuff actually, you know, pays him straight cash, homey.

Anyway, as we saw at the end of issue #5, Bowie was wreaking havoc outside the giant monster while One-Eye was wreaking havoc inside the giant monster. Pointy-Face had found One-Eye inside the monster, but One-Eye has that mind-control bird, which he promptly shoves down Pointy-Face's piehole. This gives him a measure of control, but Pointy-Face's hatred of One-Eye is so strong that ... well, things go bad soon enough. Pointy-Face, remember, wants to cut off One-Eye's penis. Because that's how he fucking rolls! Bowie, meanwhile, decides to wake the giant monster up. Because she's impish. That also causes problems, as you might expect.

What this issue does, however, is give us a confrontation between One-Eye and the orc with the big beard. They know each other, and apparently Beardo had something to do with One-Eye losing his eye, because Stokoe gives us two double-paged spreads that are absolutely astonishing - in one, One-Eye's memories surround him in panels with smoke borders, and in the second, we see One-Eye getting an arrow in his eye as a bunch of his compatriots get showered with arrows. It's amazing to look at these two pages (shit, it's amazing to look at every page in this comic, but these stand out) because it's such good storytelling by Stokoe. It's really an amazing climax, and this is after One-Eye busts out of the monster through its eye, which he then uses as a parachute. Because that's how he fucking rolls!

I decided to start getting the single issues of this comic in the hopes that I could contribute in my tiny way to keeping it going. Why wait for the trade when each issue is so damned freaking excellent? I don't know when issue #7 will come out, but I'm looking forward to it. Quite a bit.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Secret Six #32 ("The Darkest House Part Two of Three") by Gail Simone (writer), Jim Calafiore (artist), John Kalisz (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Oh, Gail Simone. Why DC didn't pick you to write any of their "Flashpoint" mini-series is beyond me. Simone continues to get better, especially when it comes to delving deep into the characters' psyches, so Rag Doll's revelation this issue is really a punch in the gut even though it follows very nicely from everything that Simone has done with the character over the years. That's why serial storytelling can work so well - it's a soap opera, sure, but when you get a writer who is as concerned with the characters as she is with the cracking plots, you get people who change, even slightly, and are forced to deal with those changes. One reason why this story arc exists is because Rag Doll simply does not want to deal with the changes he's experiencing, so he fled to Hell. That such an extreme reaction doesn't surprise us is because Simone has done such an excellent job with these characters. Plus, just for fun, she has a rhyme that almost makes years of reading crappy rhyming demons worth it. Almost.

This continues to be DC's best comic, and Simone shows no signs of slowing down. I mean, even with everything that's going on in Hell, she checks in on Liana, and that situation won't end well for anyone, so even if we see things coming, we know that Simone will deliver them with maximum drama. It works for me!

(I'm a bit puzzled about something on Simone's blog, where she said she found the cheapest copy of Six Degrees of Separation on Amazon is 80 bucks. Fuck the heck? This is an ongoing series and that trade is fairly crucial to the series, yet apparently DC hasn't kept it in print. That's - what's the word? - insane. Jesus, DC.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Uncanny X-Men #534.1 by Kieron Gillen (writer), Carlos Pacheco (penciler), Cam Smith (inker), Dan Green (inker), Nathan Lee (inker), Frank D'Armata (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

How much do I like Kieron Gillen and want his Uncanny X-Men run to be good? If you asked me which X-characters I would be perfectly happy never to see again, these six characters would probably be in the top seven (with the possible exception of Kitty, but that's still debatable). Then there's the idiotic addition of Namor to boot. So: Characters I have no interest in and in some cases (Emma, Scott) actively loathe, in a comic that will, at periodic intervals, be drawn by Greg Land. Man, I must really like Gillen, mustn't I?

Well, sure I do, but I always like to give Uncanny X-Men a try, mainly because I love the X-Men so very much. I gave Fraction a year, but never felt like he knew what he was doing. I didn't start reading it when Gillen came on as co-writer, but now that he's solo and this is an idiotic ".1" issue, I figured this was a good place to start. So, how is it?

Pacheco's art has evolved to a point where I don't like it as much as I used to, but it's still pretty good. I haven't seen enough of Frank D'Armata's colors to know how much influence he has over the final product, but Pacheco's work is solid if not spectacular like it once was. Gillen tells two related stories: punks disguised as A.I.M. scientists claim they can start an earthquake and are extorting money from businessmen around San Francisco, which draws the attention of the X-Men, and a reporter is interviewing Magneto and telling him he needs to improve his image ... so it's a good thing an actual earthquake is about to strike, because Magneto can jump in and save everyone! As a .1 issue, it sets up the status quo in the X-books well enough, with the team in place and how Gillen will deal with the problems of a mass murderer playing hero. Gillen's ear for dialogue is in full display, which helps the issue zip along (although ... Namor making sex jokes? really?). I'm not sure why the A.I.M. dudes would pull their scam in a city that advertises the presence of mutant superheroes in its midst so aggressively - couldn't they scare the pants off of businessmen in Los Angeles or Portland or Seattle? - but whatever. And I didn't expect to find this out, but somebody better explain soon, within an upcoming issue itself, why the hell Kitty is wearing a 1950s space helmet all the time these days. The X-Men have all this technology and Kitty has to look like one of the astronauts in Amazon Women on the Moon? Come on, X-people!

So I'll give Gillen a chance. And yes, I'll endure the Greg Land arcs. I'm curious how bad he makes Gillen's writing seem. It takes a special kind of shitty artist to make good writing seem bad. Greg Land is such an artist!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Who is Jake Ellis? #3 (of 5) ("Are You Listening? Chapter Three") by Nathan Edmondson (writer) and Tonci Zonjic (artist). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

Edmondson is moving the plot along nicely, as Jon and Jake figure out a way for Jon to get some answers about his past even though Jake thinks it's a bad idea. Edmondson is still largely concerned with plot, so we still don't know a lot about Jon (I imagine that will come, as we ought to find out more about Jon and Jake, right?), but that's okay - this is a tense thriller that works well on that level. Jon figures out a way to track down the "facility," which is where he was held, and it's clever enough. I just like that Edmondson is writing a nice, gripping thriller, even though I hope he sticks the landing.

Zonjic is marvelous, as usual. His blocky shapes and simple lines allow him to show the action as efficiently as possible, and his colors in the night club are excellent, as the scene shifts from dark blue to day-glo greens, yellow, and reds. It's a very cool look. The coloring on the train is a bit obvious, but I suppose it's necessary in today's short-attention span world, as people might forget what Jake was carrying. It's not like they could re-read the pages or anything!

Anyway, Who Is Jake Ellis? remains a fun spy thriller with good art. As with most plot-driven books, it has to end well, but so far, it's been quite good.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Aaron and Ahmed: A Love Story by Jay Cantor (writer), James Romberger (artist), José Villarrubia (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $24.99, 138 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I know this is about a dude who goes to work at Guantanamo and meets a Muslim and learns about what makes a terrorist, but I don't know much more than that. I do know that I like Romberger's art much more in color (which this is), so I know this will look good!

Dead Men: Decimation by Dwight L. MacPherson (writer), Zeke (artist), Chandran (colorist), and Shawn DePasquale (letterer). $14.95, 75 pgs, FC, Arcana.

It's a pirate comic. MacPherson is pretty good at writing pirate comics. More later!

I usually have some things to rant about, but I don't this week. I will say that I'm going to be experiencing some upheaval in my life fairly soon (nothing bad, and unfortunately, it's not that I'm finally moving away from Arizona), so I'll have more on that later. Who doesn't love upheaval?

With that teaser, let's check out The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. "Trust Me" - Jesus Jones (1991) "I never thought I knew the answers while the whole world thinks they might"2. "Smart Bomb" - Chumbawamba (2000) "Rain on me, O Friendly Fire"3. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana (1991) "With the lights out, it's less dangerous"14. "Zebra" - Magnetic Fields (1999) "If you really loved me you'd buy me the Great Pyramid; oh, I'm so forgetful, you already did"5. "Heart of Soul" - The Cult (1991) "And those blues, they swirl around me"6. "Opened the Door" - Journey (1978) "Girl, how you sheltered me; touched my life" 7. "Silent Lucidity" - Queensrÿche (1990) "The walls you built within come tumbling down, and a new world will begin"8. "Pont Mirabeau" - Pogues (1995) "Love flows away, but oh how slow life goes"9. "Hotel Hobbies" - Marillion (1987) "Slug-like fingers trace the star-spangled clouds of cocaine on the mirror"10. "Texture" - Catherine Wheel (1992) "Safe on the shore, I've been sleeping"

1 It's really impressive to consider that this song destroyed a musical genre. I mean, who would have thought that hair metal could be brought down by some stringy-haired dude from Aberdeen? Yet there it is. I grew up with hair metal, so I loved it (Blue Murder rules, man!), but I didn't mind that Nirvana wrecked it. It's just something that strikes me as odd whenever I hear this song.

Hey! it's a Totally Random Movie Quote!

"I can see it all now, this is gonna be just like last summer. You fell in love with that girl at the Fotomat, you bought forty dollars worth of fuckin' film, and you never even talked to her. You don't even own a camera."

Have a nice day, everyone!

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