Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
What I bought, read, or otherwise consumed – February 2020

What I bought, read, or otherwise consumed – February 2020

Aristotle was probably the first to observe in writing that property is the chief means to political power under all constitutions. And it therefore followed, he stated in his Politics, that the granting of extra privileges to nonruling citizens without property does little to strengthen their power and a great deal to keep them contented.

Voting is one of those extra privileges that hardly ever have much effect on public policy or the redistribution of property or political power. (Joseph Heller, from Picture This)

DC’s Crimes of Passion (DC).

DC’s holiday-themed anthologies are never great but they’re always solid, and that’s the case here. Bruce Wayne, early in his career, falls in love with a woman who hates Batman, and he can’t get over it. Wildcat helps a boxer who took a dive while fighting Ted Grant because the mob had his girlfriend as a hostage. The Pied Piper meets a man who has an unusual request for the reformed villain. Green Arrow and Black Canary try to stop a bullied kid from blowing up his school. Plastic Man helps an ex-girlfriend out of a jam. Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer bond after their break-up, and fight Nocturna because why not? Slam Bradley tracks a thief he’s been tracking for decades, and of course there’s a twist. Nightwing and Batgirl rescue a kidnapped kid. Catwoman plays an estranged husband and wife (who happen to be mobsters) off each other. The Question gets involved in a case involving a body double. They’re all pretty keen, and the talent is why they’re worth a look: Steve Orlando, Greg Smallwood, Riley Rossmo, Sina Grace, Mike Norton, and John Paul Leon are just some of the names involved, and all the stories look great and most of them hum along nicely. Inconsequential, but fun: the DC holiday-themed anthologies!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

Agents of Atlas: Pandemonium (Marvel).

I enjoyed Jeff Parker’s work on Agents of Atlas, so I figured I’d give the new group a chance, as they’ve been rebranded for some reason as “that group of Asian superheroes” so Marvel can continue their diversity stuff. That’s fine, although like a lot of Marvel’s diversity stuff, it feels a bit forced. Their best “diverse” comics – Ms. Marvel springs to mind – feel like that’s just the way they’re supposed to be, while something like this feels a bit more like “Hey, we have a bunch of random Asian characters, they’d all get along and fight together!” kind of thing.

Greg Pak writes this, and he’s a pretty good choice, not because he’s Asian, but because he’s a decent writer who has some history with Amadeus Cho, the nominal team leader because Jimmy Woo is upper management now. Pak’s story is weak, though, and it’s too bad. Some rich dude creates technology that allows various “slices” of cities to exist right next to each other, so people can visit those places without too much expense or worry about finances. Rich dude (Mike Nguyen, and yes, they make puns about his name being pronounced “win”) claims to be completely magnanimous about this (I mean, he’s making money on the experiment, but he doesn’t seem to be making money in a rapacious manner), but Amadeus, especially, is suspicious, mainly, it seems, because Nguyen’s primary house superhero seems to be putting the moves on Luna Snow, and Amadeus wants to put the moves on her! There are also dragons involved, and of course there’s something shady going on, and the story, which was marketed as a mini-series, ends on a pretty serious cliffhanger. What? Weird.

Anyway, the problem with the book is that the story isn’t all that compelling, there are far too many characters, and Nico Leon’s and Pop Mhan’s just isn’t that great. Pak gives us some superficial nods toward Asian culture, but it’s strange how Marvel thinks “diverse” simply means chucking a bunch of Americans of Asian descent, Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, and Indians on a team will make it work just because they’re all Asian. Mike Nguyen connects Tokyo and Seoul without bringing up the fact that Koreans and Japanese, in general, really don’t like each other. I don’t claim to be an expert on Asian culture in any way, but even I know the history between Japan and Korea. That’s why this doesn’t feel as organic as, say Ms. Marvel – Pak doesn’t really delve too much into the cultures, so what’s the point of bringing those cultures together and having them interact?

White Fox does show up, though, and she’s awesome, so there’s that. In general, though, this is disappointing. Too bad.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Books of Magic volume 2: Second Quarto (DC/Vertigo).

This is the third of the four “Sandman Universe” trades I’ve bought (I didn’t buy House of Whispers because it really didn’t look like my bag), and I’ve bought two volumes of each … and this is yet another underwhelming one. The Dreaming is probably my “favorite,” and it’s probably the only one the third volume of which I’ll get, simply because the story is a bit intriguing and it’s ending with issue #20. I think I’m done with the other two, including this one.

The biggest problem with this series is that Tim Hunter is a dick. I mean, a YUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGE dick. He’s not nice to anyone, he treats his dad poorly even though he knows his dad is going through some issues because his mother disappeared, he’s too stupid to do magic well, so of course he screws it up but doesn’t take any responsibility for it … just a dick. He doesn’t listen to Ms. Rose, who tries to give him advice about magic – and to be fair, she’s kind of a dick too, so it’s not surprising that he doesn’t listen to her, but she does seem to know more about magic than he does – and he doesn’t think too far ahead, which, I know, he’s a teenager, but that quality would be easier to take if he weren’t, you know, such a dick. And if he weren’t so freakin’ powerful. My daughter doesn’t think ahead as much as I’d like her, but she also doesn’t have the ability to destroy the world. To be fair, nobody really tells him anything even though they keep saying he could be the most powerful magician ever, which would be aggravating, but Kat Howard doesn’t give him enough good qualities to balance out his dickish qualities, so even though we keep thinking, “He’s not wrong,” he’s also, you know, an asshole:

With all that, it feels a bit like the book is spinning its wheels. It’s been 13 issues, and it feels like Tim is constantly reacting to things, rather than, you know, learning magic. Yes, the Cold Flame people are trying to kill him (or something), and yes, he was looking for his friend Ellie, who got trapped in a book (and gets out fairly easily, it seems – I guess they wanted to make sure that a Y Chromosome Mouth-Breather didn’t rescue a fully-empowered Double X Chromosome, but it still feels like she gets out really easily), but it still feels like nothing is really happening. It’s boring, in other words, and that means we can focus on stuff like Tim’s awful personality. It’s frustrating, because like Lucifer (the other not-very-good “Sandman U” series I’ve read), it feels like there could be a lot of cool stuff happening, but neither Dan Watters (on Lucifer) or Howard wants to get there. They have Tom Fowler – who’s pretty good – and Brian Churilla – who finishes several issues from Fowler’s layouts – and so the art has a nice, cartoonish vibe to it, but it just feels like a waste of time. It’s too bad.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Blackhawk: Blood and Iron (DC).

DC has gotten around to collecting Howard Chaykin’s revival of Blackhawk from the late 1980s, and they threw a lot of the sequel stuff in there too, from when Action Comics went weekly for a while back then. The Chaykin stuff, with its weird mix of action and social commentary (a Chaykin staple!), is superior to the stuff that comes after, but not as much as you might think. Chaykin’s art is wonderful, unsurprisingly – this was when he was really at the top of his game – and his story jumps all over the place to comment on the anti-Communism of the U.S. government, the close relationship with some government officials to the Nazis (or at least people who shared the ideology after Nazis became toxic during the war), the way people can never really escape their past, and the way thugs of all stripes have no problem crossing ideological lines if they get to behave thuggishly. It’s a wild stew, slightly anachronistic at times (there’s a United Nations during World War II, for instance), but interesting reading nonetheless. For all the love Chaykin’s American Flagg! gets (not totally deservedly, in my humble opinion), his other work in the 1980s and into the mid-1990s is far more fascinating. But that’s just me!

There’s a Secret Origins that bridges the gap between the end of the war and 1947, when Mike Grell writes one story and Martin Pasko give us a few more. They’re solid stories about what Janos Prohaska is doing now that the war’s over, and both Grell and Pasko make salient if somewhat obvious points about what happens to fighting men when the fight is over. The stories are pretty decent adventures, and Pasko starts to move Prohaska in the direction of the newly-formed CIA, which I assume became a plot point in the ongoing series that come out of this. Rick Burchett, who’s a wildly underrated artist, does nice work on these stories. He’s not as stylistically bold as Chaykin, but he tells the very dense stories well (these were 8-page installments, so there’s a lot to get to). There’s also a weird crossover by Mark Verheiden starring Wang Chen, but an older version living in 1988, when he crosses paths with Hal Jordan and Dinah Lance (oh, and Superman, but he interacts more with the first two). It’s a bit bizarre, but Eduardo Barreto draws it, so that’s all right.

This is a bit expensive – 50 bucks MSRP, although no doubt you can find it cheaper – but it’s a lot of comics, and they’re a bit more fascinating than your standard adventure comics. The Chaykin issues are the highlight, of course, but the rest is surprisingly good!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

Reaver volume 1: Hell’s Half-Dozen (Image).

Justin Jordan can write very violent comics, but he’s fairly underrated in other regards, because he knows how to create memorable characters, which is somewhat important in writing. When his scripts are being drawn by Rebekah Isaacs, like they are here, then it’s even better! Jordan gives us, basically, the Dirty Dozen (or Dirty “Half-Dozen,” as there are only six of them) – a group of people condemned to death sent on a suicide mission. It’s in a medieval/fantasy setting, and there’s a war going on (Jordan goes over the particulars, but they’re not important), and one side is using horrible black magic to help them, and a sorcerer on the other side has a plan to stop it. He and his mute servant get a soldier who was thrown in jail for cowardice, a weird young-ish girl who eats the skins of her kills, an effete aristocrat who kills children, and a giant unstoppable soldier who went nuts and started killing his own men (and from whom the coward fled, which seems to me less cowardice and more common sense, but that’s war for you). They have to penetrate enemy territory and stop the other side from doing horrible things. It all, as you might expect, goes pear-shaped. Jordan throws some surprises at us, some expected, and some not, and it’s all extremely violent, and Isaacs is wonderful bringing the world and the characters to life – Rekala the skin-eater is the clear star, both in the way Jordan writes her and the way Isaacs draws her, but she gives Mahan – the coward – good gravitas as a man who wants to fight but isn’t quite willing to throw his life away for a dumb cause, and she makes Essen Breaker – the berserker – a mountain of a man, full of rage and hatred and pain, someone who hates what he does but loves that he’s brilliant at it. There’s a “to be continued” at the end, which is perfectly fine with me, but several characters do die, so I’m a bit puzzled where Jordan plans to go with it, at least from a character standpoint (the future plotline isn’t disguised at all). But that’s for the future – right now, volume 1 is a terrific comic, and you should check it out!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

She Said Destroy (Vault Comics).

Despite an interesting hook, She Said Destroy is a bit of a disappointment. It’s kind of science-fiction fantasy, which is interesting, and it’s a battle between two gods and their followers, which is also interesting. The Morrigan, the goddess of death, is the last god left after people stopped worshipping so many gods as “cultures” became “homogenized,” and once people stop worshipping gods, the gods die. But the Morrigan’s sister, Brigid, has managed to stay alive and thrive through worship, even though the Morrigan claims she’s getting worshippers through nefarious means. The entire book is about the conflict between the two. It has potential, but Joe Corallo, the writer, doesn’t do enough with it. There’s no exploration of what Brigid has done to gain this strength – it appears she forces people to worship her, but it’s a very passive kind of forcing, as we see two Morrigan worshippers commit suicide rather than worship Brigid, even though the person coercing them begs them to reconsider. It’s even unclear what the two gods want – does Brigid simply want to destroy the Morrigan, and if so, why? Does the Morrigan actually want to destroy Brigid (she commands her best follower to do so, which is where the title of the book comes from) and if she does, what does she expect will happen then? There’s mention of how Brigid changed when Christianity came into existence, moving from a goddess in her own right to a saint in the Christian pantheon, and while that’s relatively historically accurate, it’s never really delved into. Corallo seems to be on the Morrigan’s side throughout, but she doesn’t seem any better than Brigid, just less ambitious, and it’s therefore hard to care too much about her followers, especially because the two main ones, Winona and Raul, aren’t really all that well developed. Ultimately, this is an interesting idea that never really gets off the ground. It’s too bad, because it feels like there’s a lot here to get into.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Wolverine #1 (Marvel).

Die-cut cover, bitches!!!!! THE NINETIES ARE TOTES BACK, YO!!!!!!

You know you love die-cut covers, people. Just admit it. It’s okay.

Anyway, Wolverine #1. It’s … fine. It gets by to a degree on Adam Kubert art, but even that’s a bit wonky in places, and Benjamin Percy’s story doesn’t really do anything all that interesting. There’s a black market for the pollen produced by Krakoa, there’s a cult that thinks it can be more than mutants if they drink mutant blood, there are those Hickman text pages that tell instead of show, because the creators are lazy and/or the audience is too stupid to figure things out (“Who’s the bald kid that CIA visited in the hospital my brain hurts whaaaaaa!”), there are dead mutants who obviously aren’t dead so why even bother, and there’s a panel of Wolverine drinking alcohol in a really weird way. It’s fine if you want to read a by-the-manual Wolverine story, and I suspect most people do. Then we get a back-up story by Percy and Viktor Bogdanovic in which Omega Red shows up on Krakoa and Logan doesn’t trust him. So far, from just what I’ve read, it seems like Xavier’s policy of allowing every mutant ever to show up on Krakoa and giving them amnesty isn’t working out too well, and I haven’t even read most of the books. If you think that Omega Red has changed, you’ve never read a Marvel comic before – that would mean Wolverine is wrong! But Percy gives it the old college try to make us think he has, and there are vampires, and there’s betratal mp’gp\e

Whoops, I fell asleep typing there. Sorry about that. Anyway, Cecilia Reyes shows up in this story! Hey, Cecilia Reyes! More than the die-cut cover, Cecilia Reyes lets us know this is a NINETIES COMIC – if only Maggott and Marrow had been playing canasta in the background. So are no mutants left out in the world? Reyes never wanted anything to do with the X-Men, but here she is on Krakoa. Why don’t we check in on Susan in Des Moines, the mutant who can shoot ink out of her butt, and see what she’s up to? This Krakoa thing is weird, man.

Anyway, it’s an issue of Wolverine. It has a die-cut cover. MOTHERFUCKING DIE-CUT COVER!!!!! Consume it, you sheep!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Going to the Chapel (Action Lab).

Okay, I’d like to state the I like Going to the Chapel – it’s a fun heist comic. HOWEVER, I am annoyed by a cliché that writer David Pepose uses that far too many writers use – the bride and/or groom who have second thoughts an instant before they’re supposed to say “I do.” In this case, it’s heiress Emily who’s having second thoughts – I mean, why would she want to marry an attractive architect who apparently dotes on her? It’s insane, right? But why this bugs me is that there’s no real reason for Emily to have accepted the proposal in the first place if she didn’t want to get married. We don’t know very much about her, so we don’t know if she felt pressure from her rich family to marry, or if her previous bad relationship (which we do learn about) drove her to a “safe” dude but then she reconsidered … what I’m saying is, I’ve known many married people, and literally zero of them had any issues on the day of their wedding. If they had had doubts about the relationship, they didn’t force everyone to come to a ceremony and possibly have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles and they didn’t spend a shit-ton of money on said ceremony because they had already, you know, worked it the fuck out.

Anyway. Emily and Jesse are about to get married, but for some reason she’s wearing a necklace valued at 250 million dollars, which is really the only time I can’t suspend my disbelief. There is no way a museum in Paris is letting some ‘Murican rando wear a $250 million necklace in East Bumfuck, U.S.A. (the church looks like it’s the only building in the middle of a desert, although later there mysteriously appear buildings high enough for snipers to perch on right near said church), I don’t care who their daddy is. But whatevs – the necklace attracts the attention of the Bad Elvis Gang, and before Emily can say “Call off the wedding!”, they burst in and take everyone hostage because the necklace goes missing. The leader of the Bad Elvis Gang is Tom, an ex-boyfriend of Emily, so she’s forced to choose between Awesome Jesse and Jerkface Tom, who promises her a life of crime and fugitiving and probably leaving her when a younger hot young thing walks by. Come on, Emily! She doesn’t want Tom to go to jail, but she doesn’t want to join him, either, and the book is fun as they try to navigate the situation. Emily’s family, from the … cousin? niece? who loves fire to the wheelchair-bound grandmother who apparently learned all her life lessons in ‘Nam (Pepose doesn’t explain what she was doing there; she obviously wasn’t in combat, but she sure learned a lot about combat whatever she was doing there), don’t help matters, nor does the sheriff outside, who’s damned if he’s going to let the Bad Elvis Gang get away! So it’s all very exciting and fun, and Gavin Guidry does nice work with the art – it’s nothing spectacular, but it gets the job done. Pepose manages to make the ending clever, and while it’s not the most radical way to end the book, it works with the tone, which is a bit serious but not too much so. This is a keen adventure, with just those few small caveats. Nothing too big!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Manor Black volume 1 (Dark Horse).

I hope that Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, and Tyler Crook can do more of Manor Black, because while the plot is nothing special – magic “houses” fighting each other for supremacy – the plot of books is often nothing special, just the way the story is told, and Bunn, Hurtt (who co-write) and Crook (who arts) are good storytellers. It’s very definitely “volume 1,” so I hope the plans are in motion for more. This arc is very much a set-up, as we meet the principals – Roman Black and his family, who seem to be caretakers of magic or something like that; a young woman named Ari who has a connection to a powerful magical artifact; the new sheriff in town, who seems overmatched; and the bad guys, who kill Ari’s friends at the beginning of the book because they want the totem she’s connected to. It’s all very mysterious, with characters bursting into flame, a machine coming to life, Ari being cagey about her past, and the family drama of the Blacks portending doom. Bunn does something clever with Ari, whom Roman Black takes a shine to – he makes her not only poor but black, so there’s a class and race animus from the rest of Roman’s family, and Bunn (who’s very white, by the way) has done stuff like this before, and he’s actually fairly subtle about writing about race conflicts, so it will be interesting to see where he goes with it (Hurtt’s white, too, but he hasn’t written as much as Bunn has, so I’m not as sure about him). Crook’s art is beautiful, as usual, and you put all those elements together, and you get a very intriguing book, which is why I hope we get more soon! It’s not hard, people!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

Red Winter (Scout Comics).

I dig crime dramas, so I’m favorably disposed toward them, but I also want them to be, you know, good, so it’s nice to get one that is a bit different but still gripping. This is about Eli Winter (which, yes, sigh), a disgraced New York City cop who, years ago, needed to flee the country and now lives in Moscow, where he’s the bag man of the gangster who provided him with his way out. It’s a shitty existence, to be sure, and it gets shittier when someone kills a bunch of the gangster’s guys, despite there being a truce between his gang and the other big gang in the city. His son, naturally, thinks it’s the other gang, but the gangster wants Winter to investigate, because he can’t believe the other gangster would be that stupid. Winter discovers pretty early on that it wasn’t the other gangster, but the truth is worse – it was Winter’s son, along with one of his friends, who did the killings. Winter’s son, Joseph (he’s named after Eli, but he hates his dad so much he changed his name), has come to town in similar circumstances as his dad, and he wants to join a gang, and he tells Winter that this was an initiation. So Winter has a problem, because is he going to rat out his own son? That would suck. Of course, it gets more complicated. The gangster’s son finds out who pulled the job, and there’s some other circumstances Winter doesn’t know about, and things go south very fast. It’s not a cheery book, in case you hadn’t guessed, but Michael Gordon finds some nice moments in it, as Winter struggles to regain some semblance of his soul. I was a bit annoyed by an art change for the final issue – in issue #4, Alberto Massaggia does a decent enough job, but Francisco Muñoz, who drew issues #1-3, has a weird, Toby Cypress kind of vibe to his art, and it’s a bit more interesting. It’s still pretty good art, and Rolands Kalnins’s coloring, which is often murky but never too dark and is punctuated by panels accented with bright red, makes things work well. It’s not the most brilliant comic, but it’s solid storytelling.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Tales Through the Marvel Universe (Marvel).

This is a collection of the non-Wolverine short stories that were in every issue of the recent iteration of Marvel Comics Presents, which means they’re a mixed bag, but generally they’re pretty good. I mean, my favorite is the Juan Ferreyra-drawn Moon Knight story, simply because it’s my favorite current artist drawing one of my favorite characters (Benjamin Percy’s story is fine), and I’m digging the White Fox right now, so her story is fun, but you can’t really go too wrong with the collection. The first section is devoted to stories taking place during cultural or historical moments, so we get Namor reacting to the atom bomb and Peter Parker standing in line for Star Wars in 1977. These are occasionally awkward, as when Captain America gets a lesson in racism that’s extremely ham-fisted and when Deadpool makes fun of 1990s comics during a month when Marvel released a comic with a MOTHERFUCKING DIE-CUT COVER, BITCHES!!!!! (Um, see above.) I mean, there’s a story about Tony Stark solving the housing crisis of 2008 by … punching it? It’s very odd. There’s still a very nice collection of talent, and as usual with these stories, I wonder why Marvel doesn’t try to rope some of these people in to do more of their stuff. I assume some of the creators are working for Marvel – I don’t keep too close a track of who’s working for whom these days – but I know some of them aren’t, and I wonder why. But that’s just my own meandering thoughts. Like most DC and Marvel anthologies, this is pretty good if inessential. It’s keen to see so many different creators working on stuff they normally wouldn’t!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

Crucified (Scout Comics).

This is a strange comic, one that begins with a black man who everyone accepts is a new Christ living and preaching in Los Angeles. I mean, it’s not a bad hook, especially because there are special interests that do not want him telling people things that might get them to stop hating each other, so they hire an assassin to kill him, but it’s a weird way to begin, because it leaves far too much unanswered. How did this dude get universally accepted as “the Christ”? It’s not like the bad guys want him dead because they think he’s a fraud; they want him dead because they’re pretty sure he’s not one. How does his rather corrupt gang around him work? There’s a Judas figure, sure, but he doesn’t betray the Christ, he just gets rich by selling his services without his knowledge. This and some other plot threads aren’t really developed at all, which makes them feel weird, because we think they’re important and then they’re just not. The Christ isn’t even that important – the story is really about Lucas, the assassin – and so it’s all kind of half-baked, which makes it interesting but not particularly necessary. Lucas discovers that the Christ knows he’s coming to kill him, and that others have been sent before and failed, and so Lucas has a kind of “road to Damascus” moment, but what will he decide? The question is whether he’ll kill the Christ, and if he doesn’t, how he’ll get out from under his employers, who really want the Christ dead. It’s not a bad moral knot, but because the Christ remains an enigma, it’s not all that compelling. It’s frustrating. I suppose the fact that a new Christ is just accepted in this world is an interesting angle, but again, the entire thing feels a bit half-baked. So it’s an interesting idea, but it doesn’t provide enough to turn the idea into really good literature.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Second Coming (Ahoy Comics).

The second book about Jesus I bought this month is better than Crucified, but it’s not as good as Mark Russell’s savagest satires, so it’s not bad, but it is a bit squishy. There’s a lot to like about it, as God tells Jesus to head back to Earth to get toughened up a bit – God is Old Testament, you see, while Jesus is definitely New Testament. God sees a superhero – Sunstar – kicking ass, and he thinks that’s just what Jesus needs. Of course, it doesn’t quite work out that way. Jesus still wants to do his own thing, while Sunstar is a bit – just a bit – unhinged, and Jesus tries to show him that perhaps kicking ass isn’t the best way. Meanwhile, God and Lucifer keep showing up to, in God’s case, yell at him, and, in Lucifer’s case, tempt him. Jesus, however, just wants to spread his message, and he begins to gather disciples, which of course causes some trouble because people think he’s crazy. The story is a lot about fathers and sons, as you could probably guess. God can’t understand why Jesus let himself be killed, and he wants to protect Jesus the second time around, but when it’s God, that could mean bad things. Lucifer, meanwhile, feels like he was the good son, but God wasn’t satisfied with him, so he created humanity. Sunstar and his girlfriend want to have kids, but because he’s an alien, they can’t, and adoption is going poorly because he’s never around (as he’s off saving the world). So a lot of the book is Sunstar, Jesus, Lucifer, and God confronting their issues about being a father or being a son. Meanwhile, Sunstar tries to learn how to do things Jesus’s way, but it’s tough for him, because it’s the way he’s always done things. One thing I didn’t like about the book is that Russell kind of pulls a “Grease” on us with regard to the opposing philosophies, and it’s hard to see why he did it. I don’t want to say too much more, but the ending does feel awkward and even rushed. Richard Pace’s art is quite nice, and they do an interesting thing with it – the stuff focusing on Jesus and God is done exclusively by Pace, and it’s much rougher, while the superhero stuff is “finished” by Leonard Kirk, who has a much thinner and rigid line, so the Sunstar panels are cleaner and brighter (Andy Troy colored them, while Pace colored the “God” pages). It’s a neat contrast, and I guess it allowed Pace to draw the entire thing, which is also nice.

So there’s not much of a controversy here, which is why it’s so weird that DC bailed on this. I mean, there are some racist dudes who think Jesus is an illegal immigrant, and maybe some people (*coughTrumpvoterscough*) might have thought Russell was picking on them, but if you think a writer is picking on you because you relate to the skinheads with swastikas tattooed on their skulls, maybe DC shouldn’t care too much what you think. It’s not too controversial to say that Jesus would be treated poorly by Christians if he came today – it’s not a new concept – but I guess it was too much for DC. The funniest parts of the book are when people misinterpret Jesus in real time, because of course they would. So saying that, for instance, Joel Osteen might not like a Jesus showing up and telling him that maybe he doesn’t really need that diamond-studded watch doesn’t seem too controversial. Whatever. It’s just weird that DC bailed on what is a fairly gentle satire. Russell’s Flintstones was more savage, but of course it was cartoon characters saying things instead of, you know, another fictional character.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl volume 12: To All the Squirrels I’ve Loved Before (Marvel).

I mean, it’s the 12th volume of Squirrel Girl, so if you haven’t started by now, I don’t know what to tell you. Someday Marvel will release an omnibus with all 58 issues, and it will be 1200 pages long and cost $150, and then maybe you’ll buy it, because this has been the funniest book Marvel has released in a long time, and the best comic Marvel has published in the past five years or so. This is more of the same, as Doreen faces off against an old foe, plus a bunch of other villains said old foe has collected, and she gets help from a bunch of people she’s befriended in the past, including Galactus (which baffles the hell out of poor Captain America). It’s very funny, it once again shows that even if you’re writing a superhero comic and need a lot of action, you don’t necessarily need to punch your way out of everything, and at one point, a few characters look like they’re covered in penises and I can’t imagine Ryan North and Derek Charm not knowing that. The book lost a little when Erica Henderson left, but it’s still been great, and I look forward to re-reading this entire series at some point. Go buy all the volumes of Squirrel Girl!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

The Weatherman volume 2 (Image).

I bought volume 1 of The Weatherman mainly because Nathan Fox drew it, and you really can’t get enough of Nathan Fox drawing things. It’s still the main reason I’m buying it, but Jody LeHeup’s story is pretty good, and in this volume (the second of three, it appears), we get more action and a nice twist to set up the final volume. Nathan Bright, the weatherman, has learned that he’s really the terrorist who killed 18 billion people, but his memory was erased, so he thinks he’s just a weatherman. The people who are trying to stop another attack say they need his memory, and it’s stored on a hard drive on Earth, so they need to go there to get it. That’s where he released the virus that killed everyone, though, so it’s not a very friendly place. There’s a society, though, which is somewhat surprising to everyone, and there are dangerous things, so there’s a lot of fighting, but Fox is very good at drawing action, so the book looks great. The whole point is that if the terrorist group release the virus again, it will kill all of humanity, so there’s a bit of a timetable. Nathan proves that he’s not as useless as his companions think, but then at the end everything goes pear-shaped, and it’s a pretty good cliffhanger. I don’t really have a lot more to say about it – you should get it because Fox is terrific and the story is solid. There’s nothing wrong with that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆


The big news recently is the coronavirus, I guess, but as usual in this darkest timeline, we’re getting conflicting reports about it. It sounds like we just need to take usual precautions about washing our hands and such, and I’m not really that worried about it, except for the fact that in 10 days I’m heading to Seattle for Emerald City and that might be dicey. I’m still not super-worried, but it is something to consider. I guess there’s a case in Oregon, and who knows if it will spread north, but we shall see. I’m already a bit bummed that it appears that three of my favorite comics people will not be attending, but the guest list is still pretty strong, and I just hope people don’t start bailing because of the virus. I’ll still go – I already have my plane tickets, and I’ll get to see Greg Hatcher and his wife, among some other friends, but I do hope the convention is unaffected. Good thing Mike Pence is on the job!

There’s nothing much else going on – my daughter is still navigating the horrors of ninth grade (man, teenagers suck), but she’s managing. Maybe her sophomore year will be better. Her friends are weird, her teachers suck, and her tennis coach needs to be punched a few times because she’s just obnoxious. I mean, I know my daughter isn’t perfect by any means, but one thing she does not have is an attitude problem, so when her tennis coach says she does, I want to do some punching! I really liked ninth grade in particular and high school in general (although my ninth grade was in junior high, which is where it belongs, I think), so I feel bad because I can’t really offer her too much advice. I’m just trying to support her!

Moving on, let’s take a look at the money I spent this month!

5 February: $70.24
12 February: $140.53
19 February: $124.91
26 February: $196.09

Total for the month: $531.93
YTD: $1256.81

Good times!

I would like to list the ten most recent songs on my iPod so you can pick on my musical taste, but my iPod – or my car – has been acting weird recently. My iPod doesn’t hold a charge as long as it used to, so I can’t leave it in the car overnight (I only listen to it in the car) because it won’t work in the morning. So I bring it in to the house and plug it in, but then it resets when I take it back out to the car. So I’ve gotten to, at the maximum, 20-25 songs in a day (depending on how much I drive), and then it resets. Now, I don’t hear the same songs, because it’s on “random,” but when I took it to the Apple store to get it looked at, they erased all 2500 songs on it (they asked for my permission first) so they could restore it to as pristine a condition as they could to make sure it was working fine. It was (according to them), and so I brought it home, but I’ve only re-added about 500 songs to it. So the “random” selecting puts songs on that I’ve heard a lot more recently than if there were 2500 songs on it. It’s annoying. Anyway, I still don’t know if it’s the iPod or if something is wrong with my car’s USB port or radio. I have to take it in for servicing soon anyway, so I’ll ask them to check. I don’t like Bluetooth because it’s annoying and I think the sound quality is worse, so I’d really like to keep it plugged into the actual car. We shall see. The upshot is that I don’t have the ten most recent songs because I keep resetting the damned iPod. I’ll figure it out eventually. And don’t you love when I write about stuff that literally no one cares about? That’s why you come to the blog, isn’t it?

Have a nice day, everyone. I hope everyone is healthy and happy!


  1. Louis Bright-Raven

    Yeeeeaaahhh… I don’t get it. The only thing on here I also got was WEATHERMAN. I guess Pelkie’s the one who brings up all the same stuff I get when you two talk about PREVIEWS?

    1. Eric van Schaik

      Bummer about the IPod. I can only use an USB stick to listen to music in my car and I like that a lot.
      An interesting new group for me is Klone. Maybe a bit too heavy for you.

      Only The Weather Man sounds cool.

      1. Greg Burgas

        Eric: I’m going to try, next month, to remember to ask everyone to tell me some music I can listen to. I’ve tried to keep up with your suggestions, and I’ve listened to some, but for March’s post, I’m going to specifically solicits suggestions!

  2. tomfitz1

    I just got around to reading the 1st volumes of each of the four Sandman Universe series. I thought that The Books of Magic and Lucifer were the most interesting ones to read.
    The House of Whispers and The Dreaming were not my thing.

    I haven’t read the latest version of Blackhawk: Blood and Iron, but did read the original series and the Action Comics – Blackhawk serial. Wasn’t there a controversial Image series by Chaykin that he was going to do a second volume on? The Divided States of Hyseria?

    Haven’t read anything else on your list.

    If you fall asleep, shouldn’t you retype what you’re writing? lol

    1. Greg Burgas

      Tom: I don’t know if Chaykin was going to do a sequel to that, but that was the controversial one he did recently!

      If I retyped it, it wouldn’t have the same effect! 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.