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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Pre-emptive FAQ. 

RAGEFUCK POST RATING: 1

You'll notice something a little different if your eyes wander about an inch and a half up.

But, Ken, why "KEN LOWERY PRESENTS"?

Because I'm fucking Stan Lee, that's why. (That is, I'm like unto Mr. Lee, not that I'm slipping the old man my sausage. Maybe. What do YOU know?)

No "Ragefuck"? Exactly who did you sell out to, and for how much?

I didn't sell out (well, not yet...) but I just realized I'm basically not as ragefuckian as I used to be. Back when the blog started, every single post was angry as hell. Now it's more like 1 post out of every 3 is angry.

What's with that RAGEFUCK POST RATING thing?

The title's changed, but the content won't. Having a rating before each post to give you some idea of how much obscenity you can expect to find therein was Rose's brainchild. It's a pretty good one. If I ended up doing categories for my posts like all the hip kids, that's how I'd do it.

Well how do those wonderful ratings work?

The scale goes from 1 to 5. 1 is this, which is relatively serene, and 5 resembles something like a nuclear meltdown at the hatred factory ("Joe Quesada is a COCKFACED VAGINAL SCAB who EATS CHILDREN because it's FUN FOR HIM!")

CREDIT WHERE BLAME'S DUE DEPT.: Shane created the banner, Will made the devil guy, whose name be Pinche Cochino. Larry is the one in the Sith Master cloak, in the background, cackling. Say hi and offer scotch.

Monday, August 30, 2004

A comic worth reading. 

I am no stranger to putting on a contest to promote a book that needs more readers, and Fallen Angel certainly qualifies.

Johanna's picked up the standard on this one:

I'm going to make it easy for you. I'm holding a contest. It's not even a complicated contest. Send me an entry saying why you want to try Fallen Angel.

First prize is a signed copy of the Fallen Angel TPB, plus the three most recent issues (#12-14). Second prize is a copy of the TPB. Third prize is copy of the latest issue #14, an excellent starting point. (There will likely be multiple third prizes, depending on how many people's entries I like.)

Here are the rules: One entry per person, emailed to me at the address on the right. The decision of the judges is final. Put FALLEN ANGEL in your subject line to help me out, please. If you don't want your entry published here later, please say so.

Entries must be received by September 8th. (US and Canadian entries only, please, unless you're willing to pay international shipping.)


Go. Enter. Do it now.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Burning questions. 

What, exactly, is the New Mainstream in comics?

And while we're tackling the important questions that almost certainly aren't the largely meaningless ramblings of self-styled scholars...

Just how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, anyway?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Around and around she goes... 

Basically commenting here because the relevant blog doesn't have a Comments section I can add to...

It all starts here, with Dorian's rather entertaining and smart post on the absurdities of nostalgia. I responded in kind, to defend Star Wars Episodes I and II from the Star Wars fans with a maniacal (and rather silly) "devotion" to the original trilogy, as if enjoying both trilogies is in some way hypocritical.

This guy here responds:

I'm no big Star Wars fan, but that point doesn't make much sense to me, at least not as an indictment of Lucas.

Well, that's good. Because I wasn't indicting Lucas. I was attempting to put some perspective into the SW fans who have none.

Then the guy, who (don't get me wrong) seems to be pretty sharp, doubles back on his own counterargument. He attempts to say that being innovative is the same as being a masterful film, and counters my "if Episode IV came out today, it'd make $60 mil and disappear forever" comment:

It's only when you compare CK with the films of its time that can you see it for what it is. That doesn't mean it wasn't masterful filmmaking... quite to the contrary, that's precisely what establishes the movie's greatness. It provided the shoulders upon which further greatness has perched.

Either I made my point badly, or it just wasn't received. The technological innovations of Star Wars are absolutely undeniable; and whether the original movie revitalized blockbuster filmmaking or doomed artistic creativity in film forever is still up for debate. That's a big contribution to film. I'm not denying that. I'd be crazy to.

But the first film's technique is sloppy, choppy, only moderately-well acted and generally bears the hallmarks of a bright but undisciplined semi-pro. Overflowing imagination filtered through as-yet unhoned technique. Critics panned the shit out of Episode IV when it came out, you know; they were focusing on the mediocre form while blind to the wild imagination playing out in front of them.

The technique of the film, its mastery of the storytelling form, rates a B- at best.

The point is, being innovative at the time is masterful filmmaking.

I disagree, at least when I'm defining the term "masterful filmmaking" to mean... masterful filmmaking.

Cue rampage by angry Star Wars fans who will entirely miss the point of this...

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Many Faces of Larry Young 

(Actually two.)

First there is Worf-style Larry Young, accompanied by Captain Rick Austin Picard.




I am told that this second Larry Young, carrying the mystical axe Skullcleaver, will be stalking the aisles of Isotope Comics with pencil god Kieron Dwyer from 1pm to 3pm, PST. If you come across this guy and you don't have a stack of AiT books in your hands, well...

Just have your wills ready.




Monday, August 23, 2004

Fish in a barrel. 

I forget where, but someone linked to this little interview between Matt Fraction and someone he calls Pancake. She's got a bachelor's in painting, so you know she is An Authority.

It's mildly amusing, I guess, in a shoving-a-retarded-kid-around way. Vaguely entertaining, but way too easy. What's the big moral here? Two Cool Kids sit around and pick on, of all fucking targets, Witchblade? Witchblade sucks and the Hernandez posse is cool? Oh look, she wears whores' clothes! Oh, isn't this silly? Oh, it's so badly written!

Um, wow. Stop the fucking presses, guys. You keep this up, and you'll be spouting off even more radical material, like Urban Legends 2 just really sucks in comparison to Psycho.

That kind of cheap bullying just doesn't satisfy, for me.

Felt I should say something.

Blogger gossip you shouldn't overhear. 

This is a transcript of an actual conversation between two bloggers, from last night. The details have been vague-ified to protect the innocent.

Rick (10:34:34 PM): Hey, I'm a wiseass and [they] seems to like me. That or [Anonymous] does, so [they] just [have] to like me by association.

Me (10:34:56 PM): Well, because I'm paranoid and ego-centric, when [they] said some of the people ... AREN'T that smart, I took that to mean ME.
Me (10:35:05 PM): Because the suspect list was pretty short in that whole convo.

Rick (10:35:16 PM): Hahaha. No, I think [they] was just saying that in general to be honest. I figured I was probably part of that group, too.

Me (10:35:54 PM): Yeah, we've got that paranoid/self-absorbed thing going on.

Rick (10:36:16 PM): Well, you do. I'm just aware that I'm not all that smart.
Rick (10:36:25 PM): ...Or so I like people to think.
Rick (10:36:46 PM): It makes for good fun. Then they're all surprised when you bust out the good shit. I do it all the time. Shit, it's how I made it through high school.

Me (10:37:06 PM): That's the part I'm sorta not doing such a great job in. Busting out the good shit.

Rick (10:37:24 PM): That's because you have to wait for the right time to do it. You can't do it for every major discussion.

Me (10:38:01 PM): Shit, the last time I hit a couple of home runs was when Graeme went out of town for a week. Then, suddenly, I was on fire. Two posts of complete brilliance that folks like Neilalien and Fiore were linking to.

Rick (10:38:14 PM): Well, that's the key, then. You have to kill Graeme.

Me (10:38:30 PM): Consider him dead.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Sendoffs. 

I'd give Sean my most heartfelt sendoff, but anything I could do pales in comparison to what Rick did.

You see, that's what you fuckers get for sticking to "legitimate," "quality" blogs that have "important news" on them. You don't see half the hysterical, brilliant stuff Rick is putting up there precisely because he thinks no one is watching him. So go bust his ass.

Brilliant! 



The GTA: San Andreas trailer, she is live.

Request. 

Hey, does anyone know where I can get some decent-sized Bat logo stickers? I know DC has their shitty DC direct page, and you figure a huge company might want to make it easy to buy their related merchandise, but I'm having no luck.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Some quick thoughts. 

1) Whenever anyone reads about this Bendis/Wayne thing at WWC, are they picturing a different Wayne from DC Comics? I think that would have made the little scuffle much cooler.

So yeah, Wayne talks like he teaches Being a Dickhead 101, but that doesn't really excuse Bendis, either. The whole thing was rather childish. Kudos on Bendis for apologizing; I doubt we'll be seeing any more apologies coming from this.

(Kudos on that scoop, Augie; if a decent online comics journalism magazine ever gets put up, you're my top nomination for a spot. You do us poor schmoes proud.)

2) Have you read You Can't Get There From Here? It's really pretty fantastic. Cost me $13 and I've already read it twice in the span of a week and a day. Thanks to Dave for the heads-up on it.

3) Speaking of Dave, his assessment of Wizard World Chicago is easily digestible and, while not exhaustive, pretty much covers what you need to know.

(Ditto on that porn star thing, Dave -- I've half a mind to camp out near their booths at Wizard World Texas with a camera, and jump out and take pictures of whoever buys signed photos, just to shame them into running. Good GOD that would be a blast.)

4) So far as I can tell, Shane and I are the only bloggers going to Wizard World Texas. Shane's probably up to the task of giving good coverage (which sounds sexy, to "give good coverage"), but me? Jesus. I'll probably just post pictures of the aforementioned perverts running from me.

That is, if I don't spontaneously combust when I lay eyes on Joe Casey or John Cassaday. Beneath all the rage, I am a quivering little fanboy for the right people.

5) I didn't think it was possible for me to care any less about the Avengers, but Mission Accomplished, Marvel.

6) I was going to play a mean trick. I was going to take random quotes from various Bendis books and see if anyone could identify the people speaking off the tops of their heads; no going back into your issues or trades to get the answer right. Then, I thought up a twist -- I'd just quote Daredevil over and over again, see everyone guess all these other characters, and be triumphant.

But something happened while I was leafing through the earlier Bendis trades of DD.

For one thing, I noticed that, despite the praise the man gets for "talking heads," no one says anything not directly related to the plot unless it's overtly cutesy and Tarantino-esque. Ever. No, I don't expect a lot of non sequitor dialogue, but every fucking dialogue balloon contains a relevant name or plot element. Ah yes, and it doesn't matter if you're a late-50's career spook for the CIA, a badass ex-cold warrior from Russia who's personally taken more lives than an electric chair, a hitman, seasoned FBI agents, or whatever-the-fuck; you all talk like quasi-hipsters in your mid-20's.

Two, I got so fucking mad I had to stop. Nothing has been done with this character since Frank Goddamn Miller. Bendis was, very clearly at points, ripping off shit Miller had done 20 years previous. Jesus Christ, Kevin Smith did more to change Daredevil's life in one maxi-series than Bendis has done in 50+ issues.

I don't come from the perspective of a bandwagoner backlasher, here. No. I was genuinely into things. Back when Murdock had the unmasking going, when he declared himself kingpin of Hell's Kitchen, I was excited. Here was someone doing something major and innovative and new on a big title.

Several issues later, nothing has changed. Sure, there's surface stuff, the paint job's different, but the engine thrumming beneath hasn't been altered in the slightest. It will be remarkably easy for whoever it is that picks up the title after Bendis to revert things back to normal; 4 issues tops.

If I believed he were a more clever man than he is, that whole (fucking RIDICULOUS) scene where Doc Strange, Peter Parker, et al come to talk to Murdock to tell him to cool off and go back to doing things the way he used to could be a satirization of Marvel editorial policy -- but no. It plays straight. And that's pathetic.

7) Deep dish pizza is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

8) Dorian wears a codpiece in City of Heroes, and you'd better watch the fuck out if you're a Skull and he's around. I'm just sayin'.

9) Could we please stop talking about Identity Crisis now? Look, I get that people are wanting to deflate it because it's Such a Big Deal while doing its ample best to be Watchmen, but jesus. If we put this much effort into something actually constructive in the field of comics, we'd be talking about the Big Three right now instead of the Big Two.

10) Jeff/Otto and Johnny are back. That warms my fucking heart up something fierce. The blogo-hive wasn't the same without them.

And many more. 

Happy b-day to Kirsten Baldock, described by some as "THE JOAN JETT OF COMICS," which is a pretty badass thing to be called. However, I have yet to hear her cover of Joan Jett's cover of "Crimson & Clover."

However, she is writing this.



And that is some pretty work there, guys.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Hey, you! Pay attention! 

As requested, if you play City of Heroes and you are a blogger, tell me a few things in the comments:

What server.
What origin/archetype.
What level.

Thank ya for your time.

On Justice I have a lvl 23 Magic Blaster, a lvl 12 Natural Defender, lvl 6 Natural Tanker, lvl 4 Mutation Controller.

Victory: lvl 6 Magic Defender.

Guardian: lvl 2 Magic Tanker.

Monday, August 16, 2004

"Strikeouts are boring; besides that, they're fascist." 

Reason #1938573429587349673986738643 to never, ever, ever peruse the IMDB message boards if you want to maintain your tolerance for mankind and its sins. It's like some of the free world's most poisoned and wrong-headed minds have all converged on one place, ready to talk at great length on subjects they clearly have no clue about. Example:

"I rented this movie (Bull Durham) with great expectations after watching and loving Summer Catch. Unfortunately, even with a cast like Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins, this movie failed miserably."

Yes. They are referring to that Summer Catch.

I couldn't make that shit up.

"Nobody's 'got stress,' they're wearin' a dress -- goddamn I hate people who get the words wrong."

Friday, August 13, 2004

In defense of the middle ground. 

A transcription of a Q&A I found, on an old cassette tape. The Questioner sounds strangely like me, and the Answerer is simply an anonymous, faceless, unknown, certainly-not-a-known-comics-personality person.

This sort of shit is all the rage right now.

Q: For every meal, do you always eat something new? Never the same food twice, never the same ingredients twice, never the same dining experience twice?

A: What, are you crazy? Sure, maybe Wendy's isn't exactly filet mignon wrapped in cherubs' pubic hair, but it does the job, and I enjoy it. Sometimes making a big to-do about every meal is just a pain in the fucking ass, you know? I'm an animal, so I'm a creature of habit; habits keep people the fuck alive.

Q: Fair enough. And what's your movie-going habit? New movies all the time, always trying something different? Never the same director, or if so, only the Hipness Approved directors? Do you bother with genre movies or do you just want to see the latest weepy semi-autobiographical film about some guy struggling to be a gay Aborigine?

A: Nah, I mean, that's kind of a genre in and of itself, right?

Q: So you're not all about the art films.

A: They're cool. But sometimes I like kicking back and watching me some Die Hard, you know? Hans Gruber rocks.

Q: You make a valid point. It's a little easier to stomach repeat viewings of Animal House than it is Barton Fink.

A: Jesus, what kind of person wants to watch Barton Fink all the time? Be sure to tell me who they are, so I can completely fucking avoid them for the rest of my life.

Q: We're on the same page about a lot of things. I'd sooner shoot myself than live in an All Truffaut, All The Time world.

A: Yuck.

Q: Yuck indeed. What do you think of Chuck Austen?

A: Oh, fuck him and his mother. Twice. Sideways. With a forklift and a length of chain.

Q: Whoa. Where'd that come from?

A: He's mediocrity personified, a burden on the weight of the comics world. We will never ascend to the Nth Chakra of Morrison if we allow some Avatar of Sameness to pollute our collective waters.

Q: Uh...

A: Don't you see? We must be ALL genius, ALL the time, or we are failures!

Q: But Austen's stuff, for whatever reason, resonates with a hell of a lot of people. Isn't that special, or noteworthy? I understand the urge to strive for more, that's great, but --

A: WE MUST ALL BE MORRISONS AND MOORES! WE MUST HAVE NOTHING BUT 800 PAGE B&W COMIX-WITH-AN-X DISCUSSING NAVEL LINT AND SUMERIAN MYTHOLOGY, MAYBE WITH SOME ANALOGIES ABOUT WHY SUPERHEROES ARE MIND POLLUTANTS! WE ARE AS NOTHING UNTIL AUSTEN AND JOHNS AND WINICK BURN WITH THE CAPES THEY HAVE SULLIED!

Q: All Truffaut, All The Time.

A: I -- what?

Q: You heard me.

A: Oh.. oh my god. You're right. I'm such a hypocritical dick.

Q: No argument here.

A: I should totally burn in Hell.

Q: Pretty much.

A: I need to die right away. I think that'd be the right thing.

Q: Even brought a sword for you to fall on.

A: That's a pretty messy way to die.

Q: Like a stuck pig.

A: Thanks, man. Thanks for making me see the light.

Q: Shut the fuck up and die already.

A: No, really, I gotta thank you for --

(The rest of the interview tape is chaotic. The Questioner screams "DIE, FUCK!" over and over, punctuated by a sickening meaty thud. This carries on for approximately 45 minutes.

After that, a liquid gurgling, one presumes from the Answerer, while the Questioner tries to catch his breath.

Then the distinct sound of a zipper, lowering.

And then what can only be described as a continuous stream of water pouring onto something solid, ended with the Questioner's satisfied sigh, and another zipping sound.

The tape then ends.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The horrible truth. 

This could possibly be the geekiest picture EVER, and would be a lock for that title if maybe Dr. Who was in there drinking tea with Captain Kirk.



So geeky, yet it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. As if my special places were laid out on a bed of feathers.

(Credit to my buddy James for digging that up, no doubt from the Collective Geek Unconscious brainstem.)

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Hahahahahahahahaha.... 

First, many thanks to Graeme for putting me on his sidebar. It's good to know the psychoactive drugs slipped into his tea (he's british, right?) haven't been a waste of money and stealth.

Second, this made me laugh. A lot.



Holy shit. That'd be Legomancer's doing.

Friday, August 06, 2004

ACAPCWOVCCAOE vs. DCSF, Round 1. 

(For those not hip to the new lingo, that's the Associated Comics and Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA and Outlying Environs vs. the Dallas County Strike Force of bloggers.)

This round, the ACAP...etc wins.

Mikester: Okay, just to clarify...I have no problem with Elfquest existing. I'm all for it. I'm glad people like it. It just doesn't do anything for me. But one issue did include an elf orgy (SFW, scroll halfway down), so I guess it can't be all bad.*

* By the way, never do a Google search on "elfquest orgy."


Dorian: I have discovered the gayest comic of all time. Gayer than an issue of Gay Heartthrobs or Meatmen. And I fully intend to take advantage of the fact that I'm probably one of the few bloggers who can get away with a post like this, by telling you why Sensation Comics #1 is the gayest comic of all time.

Jog: I was out walking last night, on my way to get a cup of coffee, and I had stopped at the corner of the street. There was a crosswalk at the corner. Suddenly, an athletic lass (it was dark, I’d say she was between 16-19 years old) came running out of a nearby yard, barreled into the crosswalk, and performed cartwheels all the way across the street. She landed on her feet quite perfectly at the sidewalk and hustled down an alley by the local library. It was all over in only a few seconds, and I doubt she even saw me standing there. I was suddenly overcome with the feeling that I had just made a cameo appearance in somebody else’s thrilling suspense film of a life.

Tom the Dog: Bruce Jones got the bright idea of using the Hulk in a very limited capacity only. Which meant that for a good number of issues, the Hulk only appeared in brief flashbacks, or by implication (gang of toughs threatens Banner, cut straight to gang of toughs with their asses kicked, with no sight of the Hulk in between), if he even appeared at all. That might be fine once or twice, as a change of pace, but when I buy a Hulk comic, I want to see the goddam Hulk. I don't buy a Superman comic for 22 pages of Clark Kent reading internet jokes from his mom at work, and if I wanted 22 pages of Bruce Banner, then I'd buy a goddam comic called Bruce Banner, not one called The Incredible Goddam Hulk!!

Ian Brill: I once read every issue of Grant Morrison's Invisibles in one day.

It was about a few months ago. Once I finally procured every trade paperback in the series I decided to start around 11:00 a.m. with volume one Say You Want a Revolution. I ended my journey around midnight with the final volume The Invisible Kingdom. A lot of ideas went through my head that day and I want to share with you some of the oddest of them.

Near the end of Kissing Mister Quimper I was convinced I had superpowers.


That right there is one powerful collective of entertainment. Jeff, Greg... we need to strike back before we get overwhelmed.

ADDENDUM: It has come to my attention that Jog The Blog is not actually a part of the ACAPthing. He is, in fact, a master of kung fu. He's also a free agent... NOW UNDER THE EMPLOY OF THE DALLAS COUNTY STRIKE FORCE, whether he likes it or not.

Anyone else want to get drafted?

One fucking big review post. 

It's huge, and you can't do anything about it. These are books I bought in the past couple weeks, a few omissions because I filed them away already and forgot... anyway, no particular order, specifically to drive neat-freaks crazy.

Batman: Order of the Beasts: Huzzah Eddie Campbell, but this had such a particular, plodding Victorian pacing to it, I really couldn't be interested. Watching Batman drink tea inside Scotland Yard is, I guess, pretty neat, but I really wish I'd read this before plunking down the cash.

Rating: Well, shit. That's $6 I coulda used on lunch.

Batman, the 12 Cent Adventure: Eh.

Rating: We're in for a long, dark winter, Bat-fans.

Birds of Prey #71: I got to say I'm pretty tired of people talking about how much fun they have with this book, and then quickly adding that it's a "guilty pleasure" or that they "should know better." Oh, shut up. You either enjoy the book or you don't. That kind of backtracking just says you aren't comfortable with your own tastes.

Rating: Oh, right, how I felt about it. I dig it, yeah. Great fun. Getting a wee bit tired of the Huntress just being the chump all the time, but it's good stuff.

Ex Machina #2: You really ought to get on board right the fuck now. Why? Because six issues from now this series will be The Talk of the Town, everywhere, and you won't be able to find the first two issues anymore. Vaughan continues to surprise me with his range and versatility, and with how comfortable he is in a wide variety of subject matter. This guy's going to go a long way, and this series could be his starmaker (above and beyond Y.)

Rating: Oh, yeah. I'm in for the long haul.

Batman #630: To quote Alec Baldwin in State & Main, "So that happened." That right there is the full weight and meaning of this story. I guess Scarecrow's all badass now, and there's some new villainess on the streets we'll never freakin' hear from again. Winick does what he does best: write a passable story. The real star is, to no one's surprise, Nguyen. He'd be a welcome regular on the Bat-book forever and ever, if I had my way.

Rating: Well, there you have it. A consequence-free bow-out right before we get dragged into months of insufferable Life Changing Events Wherein No One Will Be The Same, And None Shall Come Away Unscarred, a la "War Games." It really was pretty fun, though.

Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes #1: Wasn't expecting much, and not much is what I got. Enjoyable, I guess, but I think Ash is pretty much tapped-out as a character.

Rating: I'd enjoy it a lot more if it was free.

The Losers #14: This title's gotten some flak lately, mostly by people who I presume don't read comics to have a good time. Yes, it is a mish-mash of action movie clichés, or whatever, but it's a very smartly written mish-mash, with enough surprises, energy, and innovation to keep things hurtling along on its trajectory.

Rating: Jock, we miss you. We didn't mean to hurt you, baby. Come back to us.

30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow #5: A hojillion issues later, Steve Niles finally writes an interesting 30 Days of Night mini. I say that, and now I'll say something very unpopular: this series works despite Templesmith. Now, I like Templesmith. He's a talented artist. But that's not the same thing as being an accomplished visual storyteller... and that, he's not. Anyway, there's a whole bunch going on in this series all the time, so it lacks the "blink and you'll miss it" feel of the previous 30 Days books.

Rating: And it's almost over. How ironic.

Dead@17: Rough Cut Vol. I: One thing you got to give Viper, they know how to package an attractive book. This is a collection of six vignettes detailing events surrounding those in Dead@17 and Blood of Saints, filling in the blanks and generally strengthening the mythology around the central storyline. The strongest is "Fight to Live," as written by David Hopkins and drawn by Sean Stephens, both unknowns to me. It's a fun little action piece, sort of a "passing the mantle" story, detailing an elder agent of the Protectorate taking his last stand as its newest promise rises from her grave. I have to confess I would have preferred some stories set all over the place, chronologically. Tell me what the Protectorate was doing in 1066, in the British Isles! Shit like that.

Rating: Oh, yeah, definitely recommended. But it's pretty much For Fans Only. Otherwise you won't know what the hell's going on.

Hard Time #7: Listen to Dorian, for he is wise: "How many times do I have to tell people that this is a really good book before they start listening to me?" The relationships are complicated. The circumstances and events natural and organic, and generally pretty damn surprising. None of the people are completely likeable, but none of them are total bastards, either; they're just a bunch of dogs in a kennel when you get right down to it. One of the most outright interesting books going.

Rating: I'll be very upset when this book gets cancelled.. no doubt in about 5 issues. Sure, there's a superpower involved... but "life in prison" isn't the sexiest thing to sell on the comics racks.

The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #2: Not as uniquely interesting as the first issue, and over in a heartbeat. The whole package is attractive, the cover haunting, the art solid, the price point unbeatable, but there's still a bit of zing missing.

Rating: It'll get another two issues out of me, but if it's not great by then...

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train Chapter 1: IDW, take note: this is how you put together a $3.99 book. You have to admire any book that puts Texas Hold 'Em in as the central point of tension, even goes so far as to explain the rules, and does it well. A great, great book. Order a copy.

Rating: One of those books where I put down the first issue and was eager to read the second one, right then and there.

District X #3: So, by the covers, I'm guessing Bishop is in this series? I'll go ahead and blaspheme: these first three issues have been far more entertaining than the first six of Gotham Central. I'm sorry, but I'll take an interesting, involving story over another boring, rote police procedural any day of the week. David Yardin is a solid talent, straight through; his city-within-a-city is entirely convincing, and vibrant, and alive... can you tell I like it?

Rating: Keep 'em coming.

Fallen Angel #13: Funny thing is, I like this book but couldn't tell you why. There's nothing particularly original going on here, but it's all just a little... off. A little strange. It's noir by way of the supernatural, but only hints of it. This issue, a one-off, condenses all the oddity that I like into one sitting. And I just like ghost stories anyway.

Rating: Probably not long for the world, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Astonishing X-Men #3: I like this book an inordinate amount. I'm not, like, wild about it, but there's something about working in the comics field that strips away Joss Whedon's cutesiness and just makes him tell a fucking story. I'm buying an actual X-Men book, for god's sake. W. T. F?

Rating: Holy crap, Cyclops comes off like an okay guy? Where'd that come from?

The Walking Dead #9: Kirkman keeps this up, by issue 12 the only star of the series left alive will be the RV. I said it before, I'll say it again, because it sums up how I feel about Kirkman: when we think the man will zig, he zags like crazy. He's figured out the Romero formula for zombies. They're there, they frame the story and spur it along, but they're not the point of it. We could be saved a lot of really shitty horror if people figured that lesson out.

Rating: Mm. Crunchy.

Ultimate Nightmare #1: Just the kind of weirdness I expect and savor. Count me in.

Rating: Not much else to say, since it's prologue stuff.

Y: The Last Man #25: Filler. Good filler, but it's filler. And hey, Vaughan? Who I just got done praising up above? We all saw The Magdalene Sisters, too. I'm glad to see Beth again. I sorta hope they cliffhanger her for a few issues, just to fuck with us.

Rating: Ready for some meat, now...

Singularity 7 #1: Proof positive that having a bankable name is more important than having a good story to tell when it comes to getting published.

Rating: What, you need me to clarify that?

Runaways #17: I still feel a little manipulated. The traitor angle is fine, but the way it's done -- "I knew all along, I just acted totally innocent the whole time" -- basically means any one of the kids could have been the traitor and the story would remain exactly the same. Is this the last issue before things go on hiatus for awhile?

Rating: Not a bad ending, but given how things started off, it could have been stronger.

Scratch #3: Sam Kieth's kind of a one-trick pony, isn't he? Still, I'm intrigued, if only because no one is putting out art quite like he does. Think we could convince him to do art for someone else's script, for a change?

Rating: Only two more issues. I'm hooked enough to want to see how it ends, anyway.

Planetary #20: These books move too fast. I have no idea if that's because I always eagerly await the next and then fly through it in a frenzy, or if the pacing's intentional, or it's all those huge two-page splashes and silent panels filled with The Awe of Space, or what. I still like it. I just wish they'd come out as OGNs instead of "monthlies."

Rating: I guess it's not such a bad thing if my only complaint is "more!"

DC: The New Fronter #5: The past few issues were very pretty, but I confess I was slowly.. but surely.. nodding off.. to sleep... and then this one hits me in the face with a hammer and says "PAY ATTENTION! SHIT ACTUALLY HAPPENS AS OF NOW!" Cooke is a Grail Bearer of comics, so maybe that's why no one's getting on his ass for taking his sweet time getting anywhere.

Rating: This would have been an absolutely fantastic 3-parter.

The Monolith #7: Another fantastic one not nearly enough people are reading. Imagine a universe where a Batman crossover is actually very interesting and not just an obvious sales ploy. True believer, IT HAS HAPPENED! Seriously, pick it up. When was the last time you saw a series that relied on 2- or 3-part arcs? And were accordingly dense with story and innovation and idea?

Rating: Buy. Now.

Oh, holy shit. Time for my hands to fall off. I hope you bastards appreciate this.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

No talky. 

Busy (re-)writing.

Will carry on with hilarity in a bit.

In the mean time, SOME OF THE BEST NEW BLOGS AROUND:

Jog, the Blog

Tom the Dog's You Know What I Like?

OLD STAND-BYS THAT NEVER DO YOU WRONG:

Otto's Coffee Shop

(postmodernbarney.com)

Polite Dissent

The Intermittent

There. While you wait for more brilliance from me, you can see what other, smarter, funnier people are talking about.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Serendipity. 

Through a neat coincidence, turns out Shane just popped his interview cherry with Larry, discussing his publishing house in general and Astronauts in Trouble in particular. It's actually a really solid interview, so my props to you, Shane.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

"It's a bank, Rob!" 

I tend to reread my favorite titles and series quite a bit. I've read Welcome Back, Frank a ridiculous amount of times; read Dark Knight Returns even more. I've read the whole Preacher run a few times through, and numerous more times reading bits and pieces here and there. Same with Transmetropolitan and 100 Bullets and Hitman and I've found myself rereading the first Human Target trade by Milligan and Pulido.

A lot of praise has been heaped on the Astronauts in Trouble collection in the past by folks far smarter than I am. And they're right: it's a fun, fast-paced, imaginative and ultimately a damn good time. Live From the Moon kicks it off and sets the pace, and Space: 1959, the author's personal favorite, throws in flavorings of Nick Fury and Indiana Jones.

But the one I always come back to is One Shot, One Beer.

Set ten years after the events of LFTM, OSOB takes perhaps the most basic format in the world to tell its many and varied stories-within-a-story: a bunch of people sitting around a bar swapping tales. Except in this case, the bar's on the moon.

What's effective about this particular story is that ties together all the themes and threads from the previous works: a zen story on prosperity, a James Bond-like adventure with what is clearly the author's favorite character, the Nick Fury stand-in, a slightly biased recap of the events of LFTM, and a little bit of the old Astronauts in Trouble, flavored by toilet water and scuttlebots with a bad sense of timing.

Now, this sort of thing is a hell of a lot trickier to pull off than it sounds. Instant reasoning must be given for us to give two shits about the random assemblage of characters and the stories they have to tell. Larry Young and Charlie Adlard are up to the task. Young has an annoyingly keen ear for the natural ebb and flow of conversation, a versatility in subject matter and an overall sense of fun to what he brings to the table; Adlard, well, I don't have to tell you about Adlard. He's a star, plain and simple, and he's the guy who'll be collected in hardcovers twenty years from now.

I'm not sure what it is about OSOB that does it for me. It's more an epilogue than a sequel, a summation and sendoff of the previous AiT installments and a hell of a way to cap the series. But it's goddamned hysterical, and pulls off that impossible trick of making everyday people more fascinating than your average cape-wearer. For that I doff my hat.

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