Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
What I bought, read, or otherwise consumed – February 2018

What I bought, read, or otherwise consumed – February 2018

“I don’t trust therapists.”

“Any particular reason?”

“I dated one once. He was the most royally fucked up guy I ever met. Besides, aren’t they supposed to take the pain away? Why the hell would I want that?” (Clive Barker, from Sacrament)

Clandestino by Amancay Nahuelpan (writer/artist/letterer). $14.99, 186 pgs, FC, Black Mask Studios.

Clandestino is a very weird comic. It’s the product of one person, Amancay Nahuelpan, whose art is fantastic. He has wonderful details, a gritty yet clean line, good storytelling chops, a talent for action, and a good eye for exaggeration when it suits the narrative. His characters often move in exaggerated and even impossible ways, yet it still looks “realistic” because he’s so good at drawing them, and each character has a distinctive look that makes the book interesting to look at. He uses negative space occasionally and to really good effect, and we get a good sense of where the action is taking place. His page design can be dazzling, as on an early page where he uses the outline of a gun divided into sections as part of the panel-by-panel storytelling. It’s flashy, but it works, and Nahuelpan does interesting stuff like this quite often.

The story is pretty good, but it’s also where it gets weird. Nahuelpan creates a country, Tairona, and turns it into a war zone. Clandestino is one of the rebels, whose faction gets wiped out early in the book and who is left for dead until he’s rescued by another faction and given another chance to overthrow the general who seized control of the country in a coup years earlier, when Clandestino was a child. It’s a decent enough story – Nahuelpan really doesn’t throw in any twists and turns, as the book simply tells the story of the guerrilla war until Clandestino and the faction he’s hooked up with are strong enough to take the fight to the capital city, but it’s still a strange tale. The general seizes control on 11 September 1973, which is infamously the day the CIA helped the Chilean military overthrow and kill Salvador Allende, so Nahuelpan definitely didn’t choose the date randomly. But then the book is set in the present day, even though at one point we’re told it’s 1996. That doesn’t matter too much, but it’s still odd. The book is pretty clearly set in a tropical, relatively warm place (there are jungles and deserts), but Nahuelpan actually gives us the coordinates of a camp inside the country at one point, and it’s … on the Kansas/Oklahoma border. Weird. Why give latitude and longitude anyway, and why make it that location? Nahuelpan might be trying to make it a “universal” country, because while some of the characters, including good ol’ Clandestino there, are darker than Northern Europeans, many of the characters are very light-skinned, which is also kind of strange. The faction that Clandestino hooks up with looks like a street gang out of some post-Apocalyptic hellscape, which is also strange for what is generally a hard-boiled revolution comic. Finally, the general employs flying killer robots, which adds a bizarre touch of science fiction to the book. Tonally, it’s a weird book, kind of all over the map. It’s fun and entertaining, but it’s also jarring. Maybe that’s the point?

Anyway, it’s a big chunk of comics, so there’s some nice value in it, and Nahuelpan does a good job barreling through the story, and it looks very cool. It’s not perfect, but it is interesting. There’s nothing wrong with that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Godshaper by Simon Spurrier (writer), Jonas Goonface (artist), Colin Bell (letterer), Cameron Chittock (associate editor), and Eric Harburn (editor). $19.99, 132 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Simon Spurrier writes fascinating comics, and in Godshaper, he gives us a world where the laws of physics (which includes electricity) stopped working 60 years ago, and in its place, every person got their own personal god to help them out and power stuff and whatnot. It’s a strange situation, and into this Spurrier chucks Ennay, who was born without a god. He hangs out with Bud, a god without a human, and they travel around like the hobos they appear to be on the cover there. Nobody in polite society trusts “godshapers,” as Ennay is called, as he can form gods into other things, which makes them invaluable to people but never accepted. Bud is even worse, because a god without a human is downright dangerous. So Ennay often pretends that Bud is his god, and together they have adventures. Ennay also plays “cantik,” a style of music favored by society’s dregs, so he’s even further outside the mainstream. He gets stuck with a very young shaper, he’s on the run from a gangster, and he gets involved in a job for a mysterious woman. It’s the kind of thing that’s right in Spurrier’s wheelhouse.

Yet he doesn’t knock it out of the park. Godshaper, for all its weirdness, is a remarkably banal story, even though Spurrier isn’t able to make it completely dull, so there’s plenty to keep us interested (Goonface does a lot for that, too). Ennay is a clichΓ©, unfortunately, just an amalgamation of bad choices thrown together, and therefore his personal journey is fairly sterile, because it’s just not that interesting. Spurrier turns the world into a romantic version of the 1950s, almost, with hobos riding railroad cars and playing “cantik,” which is “real” music, unlike the pop music peddled by one of the characters. Ennay is black and pansexual, none of which seems to matter to anyone, but even the dregs who like cantik music are suspicious of shapers, in a shocking twist that absolutely no one could see coming (insert sarcasm font here). Spurrier leans heavily into the religious angle (not surprising, of course), but he doesn’t really say anything interesting about it beyond the surface (your prayers make your god more powerful, thereby making you more powerful). And the book is strangely anti-science, which isn’t really a criticism, just odd, as Spurrier links science to religion but separates religion from spirituality. It’s a bit tortured and inelegant, much like the rest of the comic.

Goonface is quite good, though – his gods are weirdly and wildly inventive, his people all look like they jumped out of the 1950s, with greaser haircuts and fedoras and suspenders and Elvis boots, and his action is beautifully fluid. He uses panel and page designs well, too, expanding to double-page spreads when the action threatens to burst off the page, and his colors are vibrant and lush, making the world look more magical than our own, which of course it is. Ennay is a terrific-looking dude, as Goonface makes him just feminine enough to blur the gender lines, which make a more subtle comment about Spurrier’s idea of an ordered society upset by godless ones than Spurrier’s script does. It looks wonderful throughout, and Goonface makes the fairly standard story something a little bit more special.

Spurrier has written a lot of good comics, but this isn’t really one of them. It’s not a complete misfire, but the interesting ideas are swept away by Spurrier’s earnestness, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing but is when you’re trying to write a good story. Yes, individuality is great and we should fight against banal conformity, but that theme doesn’t have to be explored in such a dull manner, does it?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Kill the Minotaur by Chris Pasetto (writer), Christian Cantamessa (writer) Lukas Ketner (artist), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colorist), Clem Robins (letterer), Arielle Basich (associate editor), and Sean Mackiewicz (editor). $19.99, 180 pgs, FC, Image.

Pasetto and Cantamessa give us a pretty terrific re-imagining of the Minotaur legend, in which Theseus is a douchebag fratboy (essentially) who cares more about the songs that will be sung about his heroic acts than actually, you know, doing the heroic acts in the first place, although he does come around through the course of the book, and a Minotaur that is a truly terrifying monster and definitely not the son of King Minos’s wife and a bull, although to say more would spoil a fairly interesting surprise. Minos is still taking people from Athens as retribution for his dead son, and Theseus is more of a hothead who wants to show his father that he can be a hero instead of caring all that much about the people he will one day rule (although he does show some compassion for them, so he’s not a complete asshole). Ariadne is motivated more by revenge against her father, who cares nothing for her, and shows no love for Theseus, although in this version it appears she actually makes it back to Athens with him, so there’s that. The labyrinth itself is a malevolent place, somewhat alive, as it keeps changing and moving, causing deaths on its own, all while seemingly pushing Theseus and Ariadne closer to an answer about how to kill the Minotaur. Pasetto and Cantamessa don’t need to make the sexual metaphors too overt, because they’re already overt in the myth itself, but they heighten the creepiness of it all just a bit, including showing the hollow wooden cow that, in the original story, Pasiphaë used to mate with the white bull but in this story is going to be used for an even more disturbing (if that’s possible) purpose. The writers do a really good job showing how myths can grow and twist, taking something complicated and disturbing and sanding away the edges to become more palatable. There’s a lot that’s creepy about the Minotaur story, but the myth makes it simplistic, and Pasetto and Cantamessa return it to its primal, dark roots. It’s a vicious tragedy, even ending with a disturbing image that makes us question even the conclusion.

Ketner is a fine artist, and I wish he would work more often. He’s excellent on this book, turning the Minotaur into something horrific rather than just an amalgamation of man and bull (which is frightening enough on its own; Ketner makes it even scarier). He draws what we think the period of time looked like, which is always important, and his people look real – both Theseus and Ariadne, as nobility, are better-looking than the others, but they’re not unrealistically beautiful, which is nice. He gives us an amazing labyrinth, gigantic and imposing, dark and foreboding, and with weird touches that highlight its possible sentience. One thing he does that I’m not sure was his idea or the writers’ we can see on the cover there – he constantly shows light flowing from the Minotaur’s eyes, usually downward (as opposed to the cover), which makes them look like tears. I don’t know how deliberate it is, but it humanizes the Minotaur just enough, as he looks like he’s in pain even as he’s smiling while he’s killing people, and given what we know about his origins and the labyrinth, it’s perfectly possible that he does view his existence as a tragedy. It’s a nice touch, and it links the Minotaur with a few other characters, something else I’m not going to give away, because it’s kind of neat. I don’t know if the writers or Ketner came up with it, but it’s keen.

Kill the Minotaur is a horror comic dressed up in myth, and it’s really gripping. It has great art, and the story twists the myth into something darker, weirder, and far more disturbing. It’s definitely something to check out.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King. 373 pgs, Walker & Company, 2003.

King tells the story of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in the context of late 15th- and early 16th-century Italian politics, Michelangelo’s rivalry with Raphael, and the oppressive demands of the famed Warrior Pope, Julius II, who liked to lead his troops into battle. It’s a solid book of popular history, as King dives into the process of painting the Sistine Chapel but never gets too technical. If you don’t know why fresco painting is different from regular painting, King tells you why, and I found it pretty keen. He also goes through most of the pieces that Michelangelo painted and their significance, which is always fun. The ceiling is dazzling in photographs, and I can only imagine what it looks like in real life. (I could say that I know what it looks like in real life, because I’ve seen it, but I was probably five years old and don’t remember it at all.)

Michelangelo was a genius, obviously, and King goes into how he revolutionized fresco painting even though he didn’t think of himself as a painter (he sculpted, damn it!) and didn’t want to do the job anyway. King also discredits some of the myths about the painting, including the idea of Michelangelo lying on his back throughout the process (the scaffolding wasn’t that close to the ceiling and he could stand) and that his assistants did all the work (in a job this big, of course they did some, but the vast majority of the work was done by the master). In a classic case of of-the-moment art and timeless art, Raphael’s frescoes in the Pope’s apartments, amazing achievements in their own right, were lauded at the time as the pinnacle of fresco art, but once Michelangelo revealed the Chapel (which took longer than Raphael’s work, obviously), everyone knew that he had created a new standard. Raphael is still a genius, of course, but Michelangelo had trumped him.

King also gets into the nitty-gritty of art, as Michelangelo wasn’t working in a vacuum, naturally. Today it’s fashionable to think only current artists have grubby economic concerns, but of course that’s not true, and Michelangelo was constantly complaining to Julius that the Pope hadn’t paid him. He had freeloading brothers who vexed him, and in the uncertain atmosphere of early 1500s Italy, he was always worried that someone was going to sack Florence and kill his father and everyone else in his family. The French were always invading Italy and Julius was always rallying the various small states on the peninsula against them, and King does a decent job explaining all of this and showing how it had an impact on the artist. Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and King puts Michelangelo’s work in a solid context.

One thing I was disappointed about was the lack of pictures in the book. We get a few pages of color plates, but not many of the individual frescoes, and even in the pages we don’t get a lot of black-and-white smaller pictures of the masterpiece. It’s a minor thing, but in a book about art, a book about one of the great masterpieces of human history, it would have been nice to get a bit more visual representations. King does show us a good amount of the sketches that Michelangelo made in preparation, and I will forever like this book because it provided me with the origin of the world cartoon, which comes from the Italian word for the large paper on which artists sketched their initial ideas, but I would have liked to see some more of the ceiling. On the cover, we see Michelangelo and Julius II (with his beard, which actually gets quite a lot of page time, as the beard was somewhat revolutionary in the early 1500s), and in between them, the famous Delphic oracle on the ceiling. That’s all we see of her in the book, and she’s freakin’ famous! So while you could argue that everyone should already know what the Sistine Chapel ceiling looks like, King gets into some of the more interesting aspects of it, and it would have been neat to see some of the things he was writing about.

That’s a fairly minor nitpick, though, and the book is a good read otherwise. Everyone should know a little bit about great works of art, so why not start with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Plus, you can marvel at the time when Popes actually led armies! Man, the Renaissance was weird.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Clue by Paul Allor (writer), Nelson Daniel (artist), Neil Uyetake (letterer), Gilberto Lazcano (letterer), Justin Eisinger (collection editor), and Alonzo Simon (collection editor). $19.99, 126 pgs, FC, IDW.

On the back of this trade, there’s a pull quote from USA Today: “A modern and diverse cast take on the classic murder-mystery board game.” That struck me as odd. Why “diverse”? Is it to tell non-white people that this is okay to read? “Diverse” is a value-neutral adjective; it doesn’t imply something is good or bad, just diverse. Do non-white people ignore works of fiction with all white casts? I honestly don’t know. The adjective just struck me as odd. As a member of the least discriminated-against section of society on Earth, I don’t really care who’s in my fiction. If it’s an all-gay cast, fine and dandy. If it’s an all-female cast, on we go. I want good fiction. If it’s diverse but lousy, I don’t give a shit if every cast member is a queer black woman. But yes, the cast is diverse. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be, after all.

Allor is a fascinating writer, and I was sure this would be interesting, and while it’s not great, it certainly is clever. His conceit is to make the butler, who obviously doesn’t exist in the actual game but was made into the central figure in the movie, a metatextual character, speaking to the reader and explaining some things, even though we can never be sure he’s reliable. Allor also brings in editor Carlos Guzman, whom the butler argues with at certain times over the way the story is being told. Allor assembles a cast made up of the old standbys and a few new characters – the two police detectives are key characters – and then starts killing them. You know, like you do. It’s a fun, twisty story with some red herrings and some callbacks to the movie (someone does say “I’m going home to sleep with my wife,” and it’s nicely done), but it’s not a great comic, simply because Allor isn’t interested in making it a “fair-play” mystery, so there’s really no way to solve it. The reason for the murders is actually quite clever, because it’s not something we see all the time and it makes sense that the people killed would be killed, but because Allor has to rush a little bit (six issues actually feels a bit too short for this), we get answers a bit too quickly at the end. Still, it’s entertaining, and the conceit of the butler talking to the audience works well and isn’t overdone, and Daniel’s art on the characters is well done, as he makes them all interesting and unique. One problem with the art is that Daniel doesn’t do as good as job with the backgrounds as I would have liked. He gives us a vague sense of the mansion, which is fine, but parts of it are far too large, so they don’t give a good sense of claustrophobia that a murder mystery like this should have (the entrance hall of the mansion looks like it’s part of a particularly popular national monument), and the smaller rooms aren’t detailed enough, so you lose even the sense of claustrophobia you would get from the smaller space. It just feels like the characters run around far too easily in the book, and it doesn’t feel as scary in the house as it could. If that makes sense.

Still, Allor is a good writer, and Daniel is a good artist, and this is an entertaining comic. It’s not great, but it’s fun to read, and that definitely counts for something!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

Scooby Apocalypse volume 3 by Keith Giffen (writer), J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Dale Eaglesham (artist), Tom Derenick (artist), Jan Duursema (artist), Ron Wagner (penciller), Howard Porter (artist), Rick Leonardi (penciller), Ben Caldwell (artist), Andy Owens (inker), Tom Mandrake (inker), Dan Green (inker), Hi-Fi (colorist), Jeremy Lawson (colorist), Travis Lanham (letterer), and Erika Rothberg (collection editor). $16.99, 132 pgs, FC, DC.

I haven’t read The Walking Dead in a long time, but I like to think of Scooby Apocalypse as The Walking Dead with a sense of humor, as this comic is about a small group of humans wandering the land while weird monsters (that often act like zombies) wander the land along with them and will kill them if they come in contact with our heroes. Except Giffen and DeMatteis (mostly DeMatteis, as he’s the scripter in their partnership) make the characters more interesting because they add humor – not a lot, although the tone is fairly light, but enough so that the Scooby gang seems more real. Why wouldn’t they make jokes occasionally? Why wouldn’t Fred still be obsessed with Daphne? Why wouldn’t Shaggy be smitten with the new woman who joins the group? Why wouldn’t Scrappy’s tough guy act be a bit humorous even as it’s also a bit scary? The addition of humor doesn’t mean that your book isn’t serious, as Giffen and DeMatteis know perfectly well, and they still get into Cliff’s feelings about Scrappy and his sadness when Scrappy is seemingly killed (I’m not holding my breath), and they still examine Velma’s guilt over her role in the apocalypse, and they still introduce a creepy, seemingly unchanged town where everyone is still human that won’t go wrong in any way, no sir. This is a good book because the writers encompass all of the human emotions, and so when they do something horrifying, it feels more awful because they allow the characters to act “normally” for some stretches. They can also add some humor to some of the scary situations to make the human horrors – what happens to Velma’s brother, for instance – hit harder. Giffen and DeMatteis are old pros at this, so it’s not surprising that a series about the Scooby-Doo gang after the end of the world, which could have been a disaster, has turned out to be a pretty good series.

The art is fine, but inconsistent. Howard Porter didn’t last long, but neither has Dale Eaglesham, even though his art is the best in the book. Luckily, none of the artists are bad, and the consistent coloring keeps things on point. It would be nice to have a steadier art presence on the book, but the artists are all good, so it’s not the biggest problem. And toward the end of the book the back-up stories are about Secret Squirrel, and I love Secret Squirrel, so I was glad when I heard (before I got this trade) that he was going to be in the book. Yay, Secret Squirrel!

I’m still surprised this book has lasted, but it’s cool that it has. It’s better than you might think!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Jimmy’s Bastards volume 1: Trigger Warning by Garth Ennis (writer), Russ Braun (artist), John Kalisz (colorist), Guy Major (colorist), Rob Steen (letterer), and Mike Marts (editor). $14.99, 110 pgs, FC, AfterShock Comics.

Jimmy’s Bastards is your usual fun, irreverent, fairly bloody comic from Garth Ennis, with just enough heart in it to elevate it above the usual fare. For all his enjoyment of shocking stuff, Ennis is sentimental, and that’s what makes his best comics so amazing. In this book, Jimmy Regent, who could not possibly be an analog for James Bond at all, discovers that he’s had a whole lot of kids thanks to his many sexual conquests over the years, and they all want revenge on him for being an absentee father. It’s a fine conceit, because of course James Bond would have a lot of kids, and of course they wouldn’t look fondly on him. Ennis gives Jimmy a new partner at the beginning of the book who’s impervious to his charms, and while I originally thought it was because she’s his daughter and has infiltrated MI6 to help her half-siblings with their revenge, that doesn’t seem to be the case, although there’s still something secretive about her. She’s a young black woman, giving Ennis a chance to show off his more sensitive side, as Jimmy is remarkably progressive (in the douchiest way, of course, but still) and Ennis makes some nice points about tokenism and feminism and the state of the culture. He’s always been willing to rant about things, and it’s one of the things I don’t like about Preacher, how the narrative would grind to a halt so Jesse could rant about something he didn’t like, culturally, but here it’s not as bad, because it’s in shorter snippets and Ennis usually has them talking while they’re killing bad guys or doing something else interesting, so the visuals don’t slow the book down at all. Anyway, Jimmy figures it all out by the end, but then he sees one of his children and the sight causes him to go all fetal, which is where the arc finishes. We don’t see what he sees, so it’s a cliffhanger!

The Ennis humor is there, naturally, as Jimmy’s kids come up with an unusual distraction to draw him out, and the banter between Jimmy and Nancy, his new partner, is quite good. Ennis comes up with some fun random villains that Jimmy has fought in the past, and the bickering among the kids is good, too. I do hope they’re a bit more formidable in the second arc, even without the bombshell they drop on Jimmy in the final pages, because so far they’ve been remarkably easy to kill (there are a lot of them, and whenever there’s a large group of villains, they become progressively harder to kill as their numbers drop, so we shall see). Braun is a good artist, and he’s actually slightly better than Ennis’s long-time collaborator Steve Dillon, because he does humor and action a bit better. His line is just a bit more flexible than Dillon’s, so he’s able to do more expressive faces that sell the humor more. I think he does a better job with the “distraction” (which I don’t want to spoil) than Dillon would have. Dillon is drawing grumpy Frank Castle commissions for Jesus these days, of course, so the point is moot, but the point is that Braun’s work here is quite good.

I’m not sure how long Ennis can stretch the story out, but obviously there’s at least one other arc he’s doing. This is a fun book, so I’ll be back for more when that trade comes out!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

The Black Monday Murders #5-8 by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Tomm Coker (artist), Michael Garland (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $15.96, 114 pgs, FC, Image.

Hickman has probably taken over from Grant Morrison as the most frustrating great writer in comics, as Morrison isn’t writing too many comics anymore so he has fewer opportunities to be frustrating. Morrison and Hickman seem to suffer from the same thing, as that’s slowness. Whether that’s because they’re constantly rewriting to make sure their work is ineffable genius or because they have so much going on that they just can’t get to it, they’re still slow. I usually ascribe slow books to artists, because it’s harder to draw a comic on time than write one, and I usually have absolutely no problem with it unless DC or Marvel willfully hires someone they know won’t be able to draw more than three issues of their latest series. But for a creator-owned book like The Black Monday Murders, I’m willing to wait. It’s been six months or so since the most recent issue came out, and now we get the end of the story arc. I would think it’s Coker who is slow, but as with Morrison, Hickman’s books are so slow no matter what artist he’s working with that I can’t believe that. So I assume he just couldn’t get this done in a timely manner. Which is annoying, because this is a cool comic, and Hickman is really good at these sorts of books, where the “real world” intersects his twisted imagination, here turning capitalism into something sinister as plutocrats struggle for control of the world. It’s not an original idea, of course, but Hickman tells it with a great deal of aplomb, which is what we really hope for with our stories. The machinations of the upper crust are perfectly fine – they get some revenge in this arc – but Hickman saves the cool stuff for Detective Dumas’s investigation into the murder from the first arc, as he hooks up with an economics professor who takes him to some strange places in search of answers. Dumas’s slow descent into the world he’s investigating is terrific, and Hickman does a lot with a little, as he still has to make sure he checks in with the other characters and therefore can’t concentrate solely on Dumas. Hickman has always been good at creeping horror, so what Dumas and the professor find in Washington is terrifying, but perhaps not as terrifying as Dumas’s meeting with Abby Rothschild in issue #8. Coker blends the realistic with the fantastic quite well, and this is his kind of book, as he’s no longer as loose as he used to be and therefore doesn’t do action quite as well, so a comic with a minimal amount of it is good for him. He does a nice job on the more dynamic parts, but it’s clear that it’s no longer his strong suit. He’s very atmospheric, which of course is needed on this book.

Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D. series, which was abandoned at least six years ago, is coming back, and while I always though it was Dustin Weaver who was slowing it down, now I wonder. Hickman is such a good writer, so the fact that his series lose any momentum they have because of their tardiness is very annoying. I know that a lot of people loved his superhero work for Marvel, but to me, his creator-owned work for Image is so much more interesting that it vexes me when his comics disappear. This is a nifty comic, and I would hate to see it disappear as well. Let’s hope it doesn’t, no matter who’s the true slow creator!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

Horizon #13-18 by Brandon Thomas (writer), Juan Gedeon (artist), Mick Spicer (colorist), Rus Wooton (letterer), Arielle Basich (assistant editor), and Sean Mackiewicz (editor). $23.94, 120 pgs, FC, Image.

Horizon comes to a premature end, as Thomas is nowhere close to completing the story he started out to tell, which is too bad because Horizon is pretty fascinating, even though I can certainly see why readers didn’t flock to it. It began as a group of aliens infiltrating Earth to pre-emptively stop an invasion of their planet because the Earth is running out of resources, and slowly evolved into something else (which I won’t spoil; it didn’t exactly change the plot, just deepened). The high concept was neat but a bit complicated, and new science fiction by two relatively unknown creators is always going to be a hard sell, so I’m actually amazed it made it to 18 issues instead of getting canceled after 6 or 12. In this arc, Thomas begins to shift the focus of the book, bringing back a villainous character and showing that maybe he’s not quite as villainous as we thought, while also giving the main aliens more backstory, so we care a bit more about where they’re coming from. And then the book ends. So sad!

One thing I didn’t like about this arc was the way Thomas explained things in the back matter. He’s a bit too pedantic about the presence of one character and what it all means, not allowing it to come out in the narrative. When you look at the issues, you think, “Oh, sure!” because it becomes obvious, but it would have been more interesting coming to the conclusion on our own. The idea of race becomes important as the book moves along (Thomas is black), and while that’s interesting and something that would have been neat to see explored, in the moment one character’s motivations seem less about race and more about something darker, although one could argue that in this case, it’s all tied into race (an argument I would make, whether Thomas would or not). It’s a neat idea, moving the book toward a more “realistic” theme, one that Thomas can explore without worrying about hewing to real-world events but can still make his point, and I don’t know if he put all of the stuff in the back matter because the book was ending and he wanted to make sure we understood where he was going as it ended, but again, I do wish he had let the reader discover it. But that’s just me.

Overall, Horizon is a pretty cool alien invasion story. Gedeon’s art was always neat and frenetic, although his storytelling chops were occasionally suspect, and Thomas did a very good job juggling a lot of characters (not all of them were as memorable as he wanted them to be, but generally, they were interesting people) and revealing the story nicely. I wish Horizon had lasted longer, but such is life!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


I had nasal surgery last week, and boy howdy, was it fun. I’ve snored for decades, but it was not really a problem when I was a kid because I was sleeping by myself (and I never had any problems sleeping either). Then I got married, and my wife does not sleep terribly well, especially with a loud dude snoring next to her. First I lost the ability to sleep on my back because she constantly kicked me to roll over, and then it felt as if my throat was closing up whenever I lay on my back and started to doze. Such is life, though – I learned to sleep on my side. But that didn’t stop the snoring, unfortunately. Once we moved to Arizona it got worse, I assume because of the dryness of the air, and I really haven’t consistently slept well in 16 years, since we got here. Eventually I stopped sleeping in the same bed as my wife, because she works and I don’t and she needs sleep more than I do. So it’s been about 10 years since we’ve consistently slept together – we do on vacation when there’s limited room, but not when we’re at home. Before we moved, I was sleeping on a fold-out sofa, which was no fun whatsoever, but we moved almost two years ago and got a new bedroom set, so I got to sleep on our old bed. Huzzah! I did a sleep study some years ago, but they claimed I didn’t have sleep apnea, which my wife thinks is ridiculous. I had always planned to get another one done, but I just kept putting it off – parents tend to do this far too much – and I just figured I’d do it eventually. Then, about 6-9 months ago, I began to lose the ability to sleep even on my side because my nose was so stuffy. I was only able to sleep facing down, which is never a good way to sleep! So I decided to go to an ENT.

The doctor told me I probably didn’t have sleep apnea, although he still hasn’t ruled it out. He tested me for allergies, but they were so mild that they’re almost non-existent. So I needed surgery, because my septum curved slightly to the right, shrinking my right nasal cavity. I also had scar tissue inside my nose, because when I was young I had cold sores inside my nose and it bled a lot, so they cauterized the cold sores to fix the problem (which sounds awful, but it worked!). Finally, my “turbinates” were too big – turbinates are those rounded bones on the inside part of your nose, across from the septum, and he needed to shave them down to, again, clear my airway. Last week, I went in for the surgery, and I’ve been living with it ever since, and it’s pretty miserable. First of all, he told my wife I had the worst nose he’s ever seen, and he asked her how many times I’ve broken it (needless to say, I’ve never broken it). He had to do a little more than he thought, but of course I was so woozy I’m still not sure what he did – I’ll find out tomorrow when I go in for my follow-up. I haven’t been allowed to blow my nose for the past week, because he stitched the septum to the mucus membrane and he doesn’t want that coming loose, so I’ve been very careful about that. I’ve had to sneeze with my mouth open for the same reason, and I hope nothing has happened because of that. My nose is clogged all the time with dried blood, and while it’s gotten slightly better over the week, I still can’t breathe very well through my nose, which means my lips are chapped all the time and I don’t have much of a sense of taste because it feels like something crawled into my mouth and died. So I haven’t been sleeping well, either, although it’s also getting slightly better. He prescribed Oxycodone for me, but I can only take one pill a night or I’m way too loopy. He prescribed it for pain, but I haven’t been in any pain at all, so I’m using it to get to sleep. As I can’t breathe very well, I can’t sleep very well, so I go for about an hour and then I think my mouth closes and I wake up. So it’s fits and starts, basically. Fun! But if it works, I can actually sleep. Yay, sleep!

That’s about all that’s going on in beautiful Chandler, Arizona, these days. I did pick up Neon Visions: The Comics of Howard Chaykin by Brannon Costello, and discovered this in the “Works Cited” section:

That’s neat. He even quotes me in the text, which is also neat. I’ll have to read the entire book at some point!

Anyway, let’s check out The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle). I know my musical tastes aren’t as cool as yours are, but this is still fun!

1. “The Kids Are Ready to Die” – The Airborne Toxic Event (2011). “But you can’t look me in the eye and say you don’t feel like a little destruction”
2. “Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J (1990). “Old English filled my mind and I came up with a funky rhyme”
3. “Wishing Well” – The Airborne Toxic Event (2008). “You feel like something is about to begin”
4. “Higher Ground” – Red Hot Chili Peppers (1989). “Powers – keep on lyin’, while your people keep on dyin'”
5. “Stop in Nevada” – Billy Joel (1973). “And all those stories of the good life convinced her not to hang around”
6. “Know by Now” – People in Planes (2008). “Is there blood in your system? Are there stones in your heart?”
7. “Just a Man” – Faith No More (1994). “And every night I shut my eyes so I don’t have to see the light”
8. “Little Earthquakes” – Tori Amos (1992). “We laughed in the faces of kings never afraid to burn”
9. “Rock Rock (‘Til You Drop)” – Def Leppard (1983). “‘Cause your mama don’t mind what your mama don’t see”
10. “The Devil Is Singing our Song” – The James Gang (1973). “All this time that we have been wrong, fate was against us all along”

Those were fun, weren’t they? Now let’s take a look at the money I spent this month. This is skewed just a bit because I’m counting the last day of January as part of February (as I didn’t have time to read the comics I bought on that day to include in last month’s post) and excluding today, as I haven’t read today’s comics yet! But that will all get sorted. So, for this month, the money I spent is 31 January, 7, 14, and 21 February. It makes perfect sense!

Money spent this month: $492.46
YTD: $909.58

I didn’t quite make it to $1000 after two months (today I spent $75), but it’s close. Whoo-hoo!

Have a nice day, everyone. Click the link below if you want to purchase any of these trades or if you’re just in the mood to do some shopping!


  1. BB

    Dude, I hope the nose fix works! So sorry to hear it’s affected your life so much. I’m a side-sleeper myself to help as much as possible.

    I concur on Hickman. He’s pretty brilliant, and Black Monday Murders is a good story about a secret society pulling all the world’s strings. His best work, in my opinion, was his Manhattan Projects. It was so nutty it was great! I’ve picked up some of his Marvel superhero stuff in back issue bins but I’ve not read any yet.

    Finally, that cat in the Good, Bad & Ugly gif is hilarious!

    1. Greg Burgas

      BB: Thanks for the nice words. It’s been very frustrating!

      I loved Manhattan Projects, but it was another book that fell victim to Hickman’s either slowness or indifference. He seemed to lose interest after a while, which was too bad. But it’s a very fun book.

      Yeah, I like that gif too. The internet is a marvelous place!

  2. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

    Hope you’re sleeping better, man!

    Much as surgery sucks, it’s probably better than wearing a CPAP for the rest of your life, haha.

    Good to know on both Godshaper and Jimmy’s Bastards. I check out just about everything that Si and Ennis write, so it’s always good to have a heads up on a dud, haha!

    Personally, I get a lot more mileage out of Jesse’s rants than you do, so this sounds right up my alley!

    1. Greg Burgas

      Carlos: Well, Night #1 was successful, so yay! And yes, I don’t really want to deal with a CPAP, so I’m certainly glad I did the surgery.

      Yeah, I really like Spurrier as well, and you can see his talent on Godshaper, it just doesn’t come together. Oh well.

      I think I would have liked Jesse’s rants more if they had been in the flow of the book, but they really annoyed me when they were just sitting around and suddenly he’d say, “And what about …?” I don’t mind if when writers make their characters spout off about things they themselves are thinking, but Ennis’s way in Preacher felt clunky. In this trade, he does it a bit better, so I don’t mind.

      1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

        I thought it worked for who Jesse is, and I think it paid off brilliantly with his rant while driving…ending with “Man, I gotta get laid.”

  3. Eric van Schaik

    Wow! The power of boobs.

    I hope for both of you that the surgery works. Sleeping bad sucks.

    A shame Horizon ended. I have to wait until the final trade arrives before reading the entire story. The only stories that I read monthly are Savage Dragon and Stray Bullets.

    Boo for not making $ 1.000 in 2 months. Your slipping man πŸ™‚
    Lately I’m looking for concert dvd’s. My second son likes Paradise Lost and Judas Priest quiet a lot. From both there are some filmed gigs that we both like to watch.

    My ex is a Tori Amos fan and together we went to some concerts. Little earthquakes is a good song. Good taste. The drummer of Dep Leppard still had 2 arms. They just weren’t my kind of band but that’s okay.
    This year I will go with my oldest one to Pinkpop. The oldest festival in Holland. He likes Foo Figters and Pearl Jam. In 1992 this happened on Pinkpop during the Pearl Jam concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wvm9UUCNeCE

    Here another shot at some of my music in random order.
    I wont say that my list is the coolest. Each of us has a different taste. I listened to all of your songs on this list in hope to find a undiscovered gem. Not this time though πŸ™
    I’m curious what other readers of this site come up with.

    Millionaire – Wasteland
    Last year I saw them in Amsterdam. It was a very heavy set. This song is not, but it’s becoming my favorite of the album.

    Plaid – Do Matter
    A few years ago I heard a song of them on the radio. I called the station and they told me the band is called Plaid.
    Last year they came to Holland and bought a ticket but i fucked up the dates and missed the concert.
    When I listen to this song the neighbors notice it too.

    Apocalyptica – From out of nowhere
    From the second album. A Faith no More cover on 4 cello’s.
    Hope you like it.

    Ayreon – The sixth extinction
    Arjen Lucassen is great in making rock opera’s.
    I was listening to this yesterday.

    Kaizers Orchestra – Det polaroide liv
    A Norwegian band. It was the first concert my oldest son saw with me. He was 13 at the time and my ex was to sick at the time. It was e real experience for him.

    And Also The Trees – Simple Tom and the ghost of Jenny Bailey
    I bought a record of this band just because of the name. I’m a little weird sometimes. I liked it, but this was the song that made me a big fan, and made me go to Belgium to see them.

    Cocteau Twins – Blue bell knoll
    I first bought a concert ticket because of their name, and because I could go it by bike. Then I listened to a record and I was sold.
    Elizabeth Fraser was a very nervous person on the podium and I wondered if she liked performing in public.

    Home Video – That you might
    A long time ago we had a internet radio station called KinkFM.
    I discovered a lot of great music . This is one of them.
    They came to Amsterdam a few years ago and it was a great concert and they played this song too, which made me happy.

    Blue Oyster Cult – Harvester of eyes
    I saw them last year in Utrecht. I wish there was a time-machine that could bring me to this concert. One of the best live recording YMMV.

    Queens of the Stone Age – Rickshaw
    Also a KinkFM discovery for me. Also saw them last year. Maybe my second son wants to go with me when they come to Holland again. I’m a real concert going guy as you can see πŸ™‚

    1. Greg Burgas

      Eric: Boobs are awesome! πŸ™‚

      I’m not surprised that Horizon ended, but it is a bummer.

      I saw Tori Amos in concert in ’96 or thereabouts. She was quite good.

      I’m just funnin’ about musical tastes! I don’t think mine are cool or uncool, they just are. I always like hearing new stuff, though – I will get to the rest of yours this weekend, while I’m working on the Previews post!

  4. Eric van Schaik

    A new Previews post coming soon, yeah!! πŸ˜‰
    I hope you guys have some good suggestions.
    I don’t get the paper version anymore, but look at CBR for the solicitations.
    This month is really slow. 1 floppy and the new Atomic Robo TPB so far. πŸ™
    I’m kind of disappointed , but on the other hand it’s money I can spend on music.
    Because of the situation with my mother getting worse (it’s getting harder and harder for her to make sentences that I can understand) I don’t get to read a lot but I’m listening to music more and more to relax a bit when I’m at her place every other week.
    I really hope that I get a call very soon to hear that there’s place for her in the nursing home.
    Keep up the good work and hopefully sleep better the coming period.

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