What I bought - 8 August 2012

"People who claim that they're evil are usually no worse than the rest of us." He sighed. "It's people who claim that they're good, or anyway better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of." (Gregory Maguire, from Wicked)

Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #2 (of 5) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

The one thing that's striking an odd note with this mini-series is the way Robo reacts to things. It's 1951, so that means he's already been through his training with that vigilante dude and he's fought in a world war. It seems like he should be well on his way to being the unflappable Robo we know and love, yet he seems distinctly ... flappable, I guess (which is very different from fappable, let me tell you that much!). He freaks out a bit too much by some of the things that are happening, and it just seems weird. I liked it when he was training with that vigilante dude, but that was when he was "young." In 1951 it seems like he'd be able to deal with weird shit a bit more calmly. It's a minor complaint, sure, but part of the humor of Atomic Robo comics is that he's so calm and collected when the world goes to shit around him. In this series, that role is being taken by the She-Devils, and while that's fine, it's also a bit strange to read Robo like this. It's certainly not going to make me dislike the book, but it's bugging me a bit.

Anyway, there's a bar like Rick's in Casablanca, things explode, and the end presents our hero and heroines with a dire situation. Filardi's colors make Wegener's line work look a bit lusher, I suppose, and it's a bit odd. I have to get used to it, but Wegener is still doing his usual excellent job, so it ain't no thing. It's another fine issue of your favorite robotic adventure funnybook!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures #5 by Brian Clevinger (writer), Matt Speroni (colorist), Jeff Powell (letterer), Ryan Cody (artist, "To Kill a Sparrow Part 5"), Paul Maybury (artist, "Bloop"), Jin Clark (artist, "Once Upon a Time in China"), John Broglia (artist, "Leaping Metal Dragon Part 5"), James Nguyen (artist, "An Appointment in Madrid"), and Adam Stoak (colorist, "An Appointment in Madrid"). $2.75, 20 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

Even though both of the serials reach "part 5 of 6" in this issue, the Sparrow one remains more interesting because stuff is actually happening. In the Bruce Lee one, things are happening, too, but Clevinger unfortunately decides to bring in an evil black dude named Tao Jones to battle Bruce, and the whole "1970s kung fu blaxploitation pastiche" isn't really my thing, especially because it's been done so very, very often. "Bloop" is a clever little story about Robo's search for a giant undersea creature, while "Once Upon a Time in China" is a nice tale about Robo crashing in China in 1942 and helping the villagers near his crash and inspiring a young boy. As we've seen throughout this series, there are some interesting stories here, and despite the quality of last issue, I really do wish Clevinger would limit the number of stories in the book. We probably didn't need the reprint of "An Appointment in Madrid" at the back if Clevinger could have added maybe a page or two to the Bruce Lee story, because it ends rather abruptly. But that's nit-picking, I guess. This is still an enjoyable is lesser Atomic Robo comic. There's nothing wrong with that.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Blue Estate #12 ("Serenity") by Viktor Kalvachev (story/artist/colorist), Kosta Yanev (story), Andrew Osborne (scripter), Toby Cypress (artist), Nathan Fox (artist), and Peter Nguyen (artist). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Kalvachev writes a letter in the back of this book from Roy Devine, Jr., the hapless private detective of Blue Estate, apologizing for this issue's lateness, which is awfully nice of him. The book isn't that late - issue #11 came out in May - but it's still nice of Kalvachev to apologize. It's a shame, because whenever a book like this is late, I do wonder if a lot of people simply forgot about it. Well, the trades should catch everyone up.

What's fascinating about this series is that it's really a detective story, even if Roy is an idiot. He was on a case, even if it went in weird and wild places, so Kalvachev can get rid of any characters he wants to except for Roy and it doesn't matter. So he clears the decks a bit in this issue, but cleverly - some characters die, sure, but others get away - and we're ready for the next case! I'm not the biggest fan of this finale, actually, because I'm always wary of stories where everyone happens to show up at the same place and then everyone starts shooting (it can be done well, certainly, but you have to be careful with it), and that's kind of what happens here. It does, however, point out the humor of the book - Roy does very little, but at the end of the issue, he's the hot private dick in town, simply because he survived and could tell any version of the story he wanted to. That's a nice touch by Kalvachev and Osborne.

I don't know when Blue Estate will fire up again, but this first "volume" is quite good, and I encourage you to check out the trades if you haven't gotten on board yet. It's packed full of clichés, sure, but Kalvachev, Osborne, and the stable of artists have such a blast creating this comic that they can get away with it. Go check it out!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Daredevil Annual #1 ("A Tourist in Hell") by Alan Davis (writer/penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Javier Rodriguez (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $4.99, 38 pgs, FC, Marvel.

The second of the three summer annuals that Davis is doing so he can feature the Destine family hits stores, and once again, Doctor Strange is a major player in the drama (Marvel should just give him an annual even though he doesn't have an ongoing; is it any dumber than releasing ".1" issues of Spectacular Spider-Man or releasing Wolverine's issues out of order?). The story still focuses on Vincent, the rogue Destine, who this time around inhabits the shell of a Plastoid, which then goes on a rampage. Cuckoo, one of the Destine children, telepathically pushes Daredevil to find the Plastoid, and he also comes across Dominic, the hyper-sensitive Destine. Davis does something clever - Dominic actually knows that Daredevil is using his radar senses because Dominic is so tuned to everything, and this also gives him an advantage in fighting DD ... except for one problem that allows Matt to take him down.

As with the Fantastic Four Annual (which, according to the first page, takes place around the same time as this book), this is an excuse for Davis to tell a story with his characters, and even if you don't know anything about the Clan Destine, you can still read this as an old-fashioned superhero battle with stunning Davis art. That's not a bad way to spend your hard-earned ducats!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Godzilla: The Half-Century War #1 (of 5) by James Stokoe (writer/artist) and Heather Breckel (color assistant). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

"James Stokoe drawing Godzilla?" James Stokoe drew. "JAMES STOKOE DRAWING GODZILLA!" drew James Stokoe. "GODZILLA DRAWN BY JAMES STOKOE!!!!!"

Godzilla drawn by James Stokoe and James Stokoe drawing Godzilla. Stokoe, James drawing Godzilla. Godzilla, Godzilla, and Godzilla, drawn by James Stokoe. James Stokoe drawing Godzilla. STOKOE DRAWS GODZILLA! Mr. Stokoe drawing Mr. Godzilla. Monsieur Stokoe, James to his friends, drawing Godzilla. Godzilla allowing James Stokoe to draw Godzilla. And then, James Stokoe draws Godzilla. Later, Godzilla gets drawn by James Stokoe. STOKOE + GODZILLA = GODZILLA DRAWN BY STOKOE! Godzilla - Stokoe = Godzilla not drawn by Stokoe :(

In summation: James. Stokoe. Draws. Godzilla.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Massive #3 (Landfall Part Three of Three: Unalaska") by Brian Wood (writer), Kristian Donaldson (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $3.50, 25 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Three issues in, and The Massive is just not clicking with me. I'm going to stick with it for a while, but for some reason it's just not wowing me this early in. Wood continues with the exposition about how the world got the way it is, and I didn't like it in issue #1, and I still don't like it. Perhaps now that the initial arc is over, he'll give that up and focus on the present and, if he wants to continue to exposit, try to work it into the story a little better. These pages where we get interrupted so that we can read three or four panels about weird environmental shit happening isn't very dramatic. It's just not allowing me to get into the story very much. Plus, the story itself is pretty flimsy. The Kapital gets attacked by pirates and the crew (well, Mag) repels them very easily. Mary disappears but Callum finds her easily. It feels like this comic so far is about three-quarters exposition, and while we do need to know about the world in which the comic occurs, that's a bit too much right out of the gate. This feels weirdly inert, both with the background information, the fact that we're learning a lot about the characters through omniscient caption boxes, and the fact that the action in the first arc was so unimportant, ultimately. Wood doesn't always write like this, of course, so the fact that he's doing it now is somewhat disappointing.

Furthermore, Donaldson's art hasn't gotten better. He's taking a break after this issue, so we'll see what the new artist brings to the table, but Donaldson just wasn't on his game for these first three issues. The fumetti-esque backgrounds have gotten worse, to the extent that I shook my head sadly when the helicopter is flying over the ice shelf halfway through the issue. It never looks great when mixed with pencilled art, but over the course of these three issues, Donaldson seems to rely on it more and more, and the book's look just suffers for it. I guess Wood liked it, but I wish he had taken his issues of Forsaken that he has close at hand (we all have our issues of Forsaken close at hand, don't we?) and showed them to Donaldson and said, "Draw like this!" Or at least his issues of Supermarket. Donaldson is a very good artist, but this just looks lazy, and I absolutely hate thinking that, because I'm terribly lazy and I'm fairly certain Donaldson is not.

I'll check out The Massive for the next arc and consider what I'm going to do with it. I really like Wood as a writer, so it bugs me that I don't like this more, but we'll see. Sigh.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #5 (of 6) by David Petersen (writer/artist). $3.50, 23 pgs, FC, Archaia.

Mouse Guard is so slow in coming out and so much a big story chopped into six parts that it's kind of pointless to review this, isn't it? In this issue, Celanawe and Conrad bury their friend Em, spend some time on Ferret Island (after working out that the Ferret King is contrite that his advisor killed Em), then sail home. Celanawe discovers that something horrible has happened while he's been away, and presumably the final issue will deal with the fallout of that event. Other than that, it's Mouse Guard. It's beautiful, it's slow-moving, it's elegaic even, and it's much better to read in one sitting. Petersen promises that the final issue will be out in October. I'm not holding my breath!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Wasteland #39 ("Lovesong For a Dead Child") by Antony Johnston (writer), Sandy Jarrell (artist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

Jarrell steps in for one of the one-off tales that Johnston likes to tell between arcs, and he does a pretty good job. Unlike the previous arc, no one is doing gray tones, and so the book has a much rougher, desert-y look, like it had when Mitten was drawing it. As you might recall, I wasn't the biggest fan of Justin Greenwood, the previous artist, and part of that was the gray tones, which gave the art too much of a sheen. Wasteland should look rough, and Jarrell does a nice job with that. He's also quite good at drawing characters who look like they've spent too much time in the desert - Marcus, Mary, and Michael (and the bad dudes they come upon) look generally famished, which is a good way to convey the terrible lives they lead. The biggest problem with Jarrell's art is that the backgrounds are almost non-existent, especially in some of the smaller panels - the characters look like they're in a void. This isn't terrible when your comic is colored, as we've seen throughout the years, because colorists can make the backgrounds different groovy colors, but when it's black and white, it really stands out. Jarrell does some nice panels with backgrounds, but the lack in so many of them bothers me. Yes, I get annoyed by weird things. Deal with it.

Johnston flashes back to when Marcus, Michael, and Mary were kids, trying to survive in the desert. Marcus has visions of the future, Michael somehow knows things intuitively, and Mary is able to make people do what she wants just by talking to them. The whole situation screams "love triangle," and Johnston goes that way, but he's able to make it dramatic even though we can see what's coming. That's not the point, though - we kind of already knew what happened based on earlier issues - because Johnston wants to show how Michael once knew Marcus and Mary, because that has to be important in upcoming stories, if not the next one. So we get a nice little standalone story that fills in some blanks.

Next issue we get a new artist, so we'll see how that works out. Meanwhile, Wasteland continues to regain its momentum nicely. Yay!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Doctor Atlantis volume 1 by Ian Ally-Seals (writer) and Carl Mefferd (artist). $9.99, 90 pgs, BW, Rare Earth Comics.

This looks fun. Lots of action and adventure on the high seas, with monsters and mysterious islanders and such things you would expect to find in this kind of book. Mefferd's art reminds me of someone's, but I can't figure out whose. It's quite good, though.

Grendel Omnibus volume 1: Hunter Rose by Matt Wagner (writer/artist) and a whole bunch of artists. $24.99, 596 pgs, BWR, Dark Horse.

This is finally out, and holy crap it's amazing. We have the original Devil by the Deed, the two Hunter Rose anthology mini-series, Behold the Devil, and some other odds and ends. They're all colored in black, white, and red, and the original looks pretty cool that way. Dark Horse is planning on three more of these, and I don't know if they'll change the color scheme for every issue. I think the only place the original color would look a lot better is the initial 12-issue Christine Spar story, because the colors were so vibrant and interesting. Everything else, I think, even the Eppy Thatcher story, could probably work in b-w-and-r. It does not appear, however, that Dark Horse has any plans to do a fifth Omnibus with all the Grendel Tales collected. They really should. Make it happen, Mike Richardson!

Nevsky: A Hero of the People by Ben McCool (writer), Mario Guevara (artist), David Baron (colorist), Allen Passalaqua (colorist), Peter Pantazis (colorist), and Shawn Lee (letterer). $24.99, 124 pgs, FC, IDW.

In typical Ben McCool fashion, this is late (how's that final issue of Memoir going?). But it looks pretty keen. It's not actually based on the historical Alexander Nevsky, but on Sergei Eisenstein's movie about Nevsky, which should be interesting. I do like the back cover, which says that Nevsky and his "people's army" fight the "evil Teutonic Knights." Boy, I wonder if this is going to be biased at all?


I still haven't gotten into the Olympics, but some of it has filtered into my consciousness. I tried to watch the entire Canada/United States women's soccer game, but when you have a kid clamoring to watch her stuff on television (and you only have one television), it's not going to happen. Therefore I missed the big controversy plus the beautiful goal by Alex Morgan to win it (although I did see the second Megan Rapinoe goal, which was brilliant). I still haven't seen any network show the entire "goalie holding the ball too long" play with a clock in the corner, showing whether she hold it too long or not. I'm sure someone has done that, but I haven't seen it. It doesn't seem that hard to do. As for whether it should have been called ... well, it's a rule, and didn't the ref warn her once? I mean, yes, maybe it doesn't get called very often, but if you're warned about it, maybe you should be aware that the refs are looking at you. The hand ball sucks, sure, but it looks like it hit two Canadians in the arms, so I don't know how sympathetic I am. I get the "ball coming too fast at you to get out of the way" defense, but after it bounces off one person, I think that defense goes out the window. Anyway, the Canadians had leads three times, and if any of their players beside Christine Sinclair had bothered to show up, we probably would be congratulating them for winning the gold medal instead of congratulating the U.S. team (who won the gold today, in case you didn't know).

Meanwhile, McKayla Maroney fell on the dismount of the vault, costing her the gold in the event that she dominates. Sucks for her, but it did give us this superb picture of her reaction to the silver medal. This, of course, became a meme. It's pretty awesome.

And then there's Henrik Rummel. Poor Henrik Rummel. His team won the bronze in rowing, and on the medal stand, he looked a bit ... excited. We'll let McKayla show you (he's second from the left, in case you can't figure it out):

Rummel has been a good sport about it, doing interviews where he swears it wasn't erect (and if not, I say to his girlfriend ... good catch, young lady). People are making a lot of fun about him being a bit too excited over winning the bronze, but here's the point (I'm going to talk about penises, so our more genteel readers might want to skip ahead): That area is a huge bundle of nerves that respond to stimuli. It doesn't always have to do with sexual excitement. Frankly, with those pants, I'm surprised more men aren't a bit more ... you know ... when they're standing around. Guys know what I mean, and girls ought to if they've ever spent any time with a guy. Those tight pants don't allow for much wiggle room, so to speak, so any rubbing against the ... object in question, and you're going to get a situation. I challenge you to find any guy who hasn't had something like this happen to him. And why is the rowing team wearing those kind of pants anyway? It's not like they're swimming, where they want to pants to be as close to skin as possible. It's not that the wind will slow them down if they're wearing more loose-fitting pants, because the last time I checked, rowers sit down. So I'm not sure what the heck is going on with those pants anyway.

In case you missed in all the Olympics hoopla, TLC brought civilization a bit closer to the brink on Wednesday night with the premiere of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. If you don't know who Honey Boo Boo is, count yourself very lucky and curse me for bringing her to your attention. She's a child from Georgia whose mother puts her in those kid beauty pageants (which ought to automatically disqualify the parents from actually raising the kids, if you ask me), and she's a holy terror. So of course TLC, home of the worst television programs in the history of mankind (I'm sure you all watched My Teen Is Pregnant And So Am I), gave her and her family their own show. You can see a few promos at the link up there, but it doesn't give you the full, sheer horror of the series. For that, check out this extended promo. I couldn't resist watching about five minutes of the premiere, and it was as eye-bleedingly bad as you think. Dear Lord, I can't understand conservatives trying with all their might to keep gays from getting married when shit like this exists. If conservatives are so family-friendly, shouldn't they be horrified by this family, where the woman got pregnant at 15, had four daughters, curses in front of them, and gives her 6-year-old daughter a Mountain Dew and Red Bull mixture to get her amped up for a pageant. Really, conservatives? Fucking really?

Sigh. I guess it's time for The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. "When All Is Said And Done" - ABBA (1981) "Clear-headed and open-eyed, with nothing left untried"2. "A Message" - Coldplay (2005) "And it's so hard to see you clearly"3. "Right Here, Right Now" - Jesus Jones (1991) "A woman on the radio talks about revolution when it's already passed her by"4. "We Are Young" - Fun. (2012) "My seat's been taken by some sunglasses asking 'bout a scar"5. "Crash" - James (1999) "Someone got hurt, someone got high, some of them left the rest behind"6. "Tumbledown" - Fish (1999) "Everything changes, forever never lasts, there's no such thing as always, it's all too soon the past"7. "What About Livingstone" - ABBA (1974) "What about all those men who have sacrificed their lives to lead the way"8. "Tie Dye On The Highway" - Robert Plant (1990) "If you're going my way, come along"9. "The Field" - Fish (2003) "They will bury your empty coffin; they will raise for you a stone; they will know you fell in glory"10. "On eBay" - Chumbawamba (2004) "There's stuff dressed up as truth and then there's stuff dressed up as lies"

No one guessed the Totally Random Lyrics last week - they were from the song "Kiev" by Renaissance. Of course! Here are some more:

"But the Bedouin they brought outThe electric camel drumThe local guitar pickerGot his guitar picking thumbAs soon as the ShariaHad cleared the squareThey began to wail"

Have a nice weekend, everyone! School started this week, so I'm back to being kid-free for large amounts of the day. Good times! I hope your August is slightly less warm than it is here. I'm a bit frightened to go outside these days!

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