Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
 

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

She smiles. She has dimples, she is even more attractive to you. (Italo Calvino, from If on a winter’s night a traveler)

Blackwood volumes 1 and 2 by Evan Dorkin (writer), Veronica Fish (artist), Andy Fish (artist), and Greg McKenna (letterer). $37.98, 179 pgs, Dark Horse.

I missed volume 1 for some reason when it came out (Diamond is not always reliable, go figure), so I had to re-order it when volume 2 came out, and it took a while to get here, so I just read both of these. They’re pretty good. Dorkin is a good writer, so he’s able to take a fairly tired trope – kids at a magical school – and do some interesting things with it. Not all the kids are aware of the school’s more esoteric curriculum, only the ones who test as good at magic, so that’s somewhat clever. The kids are stereotypes to a degree, but again, Dorkin is a good writer, so he gives them interesting personalities and turns them loose. There’s a lot going on in these two volumes, so I won’t get into it, but there’s a good amount of danger that, it seems, the faculty isn’t really all that prepared for (they’re prepared for some of it, but not all) and the kids, naturally, feel they need to get involved. There are some creepy moments, too, which is nice. The Fishes do the art (Veronica explains a bit about their collaborative process in both volumes), and it’s quite nice. The second volume is slightly slicker than the first – there are fewer rough lines and a bit more curviness to the work, but it’s not terribly noticeable and neither “style” is wildly better than the other. The Fishes do very well with the “what is this shit?” attitude of the characters (they don’t know that they’re adept at magic when they arrive and have a jaundiced attitude toward it after they learn about it). Dorkin is doing some interesting world-building, so the Fishes have to deal with weird stuff but also very normal stuff, and they do a fine job with it. They color the book, too, and they keep it bright but also a bit lurid, so that it feels weird even when it’s not dark and spooky. It’s a nifty choice. There’s plenty of places for Dorkin to go with this, and I hope he and the Fishes can stick with it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Okay, I’ll start: ‘Yeeeeeiiiiiiii!!!!!!’

Daphne Byrne by Laura Marks (writer), Kelley Jones (artist), Michelle Madsen (colorist), Rob Leigh (letterer), and Robin Wildman (editor). $24.99, 132 pgs, DC/Hill House Comics.

Joe Hill seems to be getting some good talent for his little imprint, so I’ll keep buying the comics! I don’t know Laura Marks (she’s a playwright and television writer), but I will always get Kelley Jones’s comics, and he gets to draw to his strengths in this one, as he gets to draw creepy things in a Victorian setting, as Marks sets this in 1886 Manhattan (for a few good reasons), which means Jones gets to draw a lot of bricks and cobblestones and weird architecture and scary gates. The story is about l’il Daphne, the daughter of a widowed woman who falls under the sway of a psychic who has dark designs for her. It’s kind of a proto-feminist combination of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist with some Carrie thrown in, so there are ghosts, mean girls, a lot of sexual repression, icky dudes, and all the things you expect from this kind of comic. That doesn’t make it bad; it’s a fun ride, and Marks does some nice stuff with the material, and Jones is, as usual, at the top of his game, but it does feel a bit familiar. Marks, at least, keeps us guessing about the true nature of Daphne’s visions and what the psychic really wants, which helps keep the tension high as Daphne learns more and more about the situation into which she’s wandered. It’s a fun horror comic, and that’s really all it needs to be!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Eye of the beholder, people!

Dark Red volume 2: Urban Decay by Tim Seeley (writer), Aaron Gillespie (co-writer, issue #10), Corin Howell (artist), Mark Englert (colorist), Carlos M. Manguel (letterer), and Mike Marts (editor). $16.99, 100 pgs, AfterShock.

Seeley takes his redneck vampire to the big city – Chicago, specifically – to find the young woman who used to provide his hero, Chip, with blood but is now a vampire herself, one who seems to be moving up the vampire hierarchy rather quickly. The book loses a little in this arc, as Chip is no longer the “Republican vampire” that Seeley wrote quite well in the first arc – he’s still a generally good dude, and his non-vampire buddy Stuart tags along and the two are a bit “fish-out-of-water” in Chicago, which is kind of fun, but Seeley wants to really just get to the slaughter in this arc, it seems, so the introduction of were-beasts and a famous vampire hunter zips by without much insight into them. I don’t know if Seeley thought he wouldn’t be able to squeeze another 5 issues out of this, so he had to wrap it up in 10 (the book could keep going, but it feels like it’s over), but it’s a bit too fast. The vampire hierarchy and what’s really going on are fine, but Seeley doesn’t really get into that too much, either. There’s two pounds of shit in a one-pound bag, in other words (except in this instance, “shit” is perfectly good). Howell’s art continues to be amazing – she draws a lot of different characters in varying clothing, and really nails the personalities of all of them (including one who will be your favorite, even if Seeley is merciless toward his characters in general). When the slaughter begins, she does a very good job making sure it remains focused on certain characters so the number of deaths doesn’t get overwhelming, and she does a nice job with the choreography of the fighting as it continues. It’s a nice-looking book, and it keeps Seeley’s breakneck pace from becoming too fast.

It would be nice if Seeley could do more of this, because a redneck vampire is a good idea, and there’s plenty Seeley could do with it. It doesn’t feel like there’s going to be more, though, so I guess we’ll just have to deal with two volumes!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I make that mistake all the time when vampires crawl into my bed!

Reaver volume 2: The Grim After by Justin Jordan (writer), Niko Henrichon (artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), and Jon Moisan (editor). $14.99, 104 pgs, Image.

With all due respect to Niko Henrichon, who’s a terrific artist and whose art on this volume is really good, I do wonder what happened to Rebekah Isaacs. She’s still listed as co-creator, and I haven’t seen anything else by her since the first arc of this ended, but maybe something non-comics prevented her from drawing this. She’s still drawing Money Shot, the Vault series, so perhaps the first arc of Reaver was finished long ago and she is now committed to Money Shot? Beats me. I’m just glad she’s drawing something I want to read, because Isaacs is an excellent artist.

Henrichon steps in admirably, as he’s been a great artist for years, flitting about from project to project without really getting his due. I wonder if in American comics he’s still best-known for Pride of Baghdad, which he did early in his career (2006, to be precise). I hope not, because he’s always a treat to see on a book, and he does well with this. The only survivors of volume 1 end up in a city on the other side of the world, where Essen Breaker ends up and where he meets both an old friend and a new threat. He’s done with war, but of course violence always finds him. Now, it’s possible he shouldn’t have gone to a violent city where people know him from years earlier and know what a warrior he can be – he probably should have built a nice cabin in the forest somewhere – but if he stayed non-violent, there wouldn’t be a comic, would there? Of course there’s something horrible going on in the city, and of course we can’t trust anyone, and of course Essen needs to kick some ass eventually, but Jordan is good at this sort of thing, so it hums along nicely. Henrichon gives us a scruffy, fully-realized city and scruffy, fully-realized characters, and he can draw some really good violence, so the book looks great. Jordan still isn’t done with it, so I look forward to more. I just wonder who’s going to draw it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Like how she gets her hair to look so fierce when it hasn’t been washed or combed!

Star: Birth of a Dragon by Kelly Thompson (writer), Javier Pina (artist), Felipe Andrada (artist), Jay Leisten (artist), Jesus Aburtov (colorist), Chris O’Halloran (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), and Jennifer Grünwald (collection editor). $15.99, 98 pgs, Marvel.

In the pages of Captain Marvel, Kelly Thompson introduced Ripley Ryan, who had the Reality Stone embedded in her, which gives her control over, well, reality. So that’s handy for her, don’tcha think? Well, she didn’t handle it well, and so now Thompson gets to write a nifty five-issue series about how she embraces her dark side. It doesn’t really merit a five-issue mini-series, as there’s a lot of style in this book and not a ton of substance, but I like Kelly and anything that raises her profile makes me glad for her. Despite not really having enough material to fill a five-issue mini-series, she does a nice job with the characters, as Thompson’s strength has always been the way she writes good dialogue and good, revealing conversations without being too expository. She gives Ripley an interesting personality and while she ends up a villain, it’s clear that Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, and Jessica Jones (who all guest-star in the book) are all a little dumb about how to deal with Ripley, forcing her a bit down the dark path. What makes the book compelling is this conflict, as it’s clear Ripley has a real beef with at least Carol Danvers, but she’s also kind of villainous already, so how much of her villainy is innate and how much is situational? Thompson gives us this and also the idea of heroes holding a hammer and seeing every problem as a nail and maybe that’s not the entirely best way to go. Even the Black Order, who of course show up (there’s an Infinity Stone at large!) are fairly nuanced, doing evil things but not exactly evil themselves. I’m not sure if we needed an entire five issues to get to the point where it ends (this kind of thing used to be done in the main title, dropping in on Ripley every so often until she was a full-fledged bad guy), but it is a pretty good look at why a super-powered individual might not want to be a hero. And, of course, I like seeing Kelly get to write cool stuff for Marvel!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Those narrative boxes should be cut and pasted into every superhero comic ever made

Starship Down by Justin Giampaoli (writer), Andrea Mutti (artist), Vladimir Popov (colorist), Sal Cipriano (letterer), and Spencer Cushing (editor). $19.99, 80 pgs, Dark Horse.

This was supposed to come out in single issues, but Dark Horse canceled it after … two? came out, and just released the trade. COVID has forced comics companies to do some different things, and one seems to be figuring out a distribution system that puts more emphasis on digital comics. We shall see what happens with that, as this book isn’t a unique example of this phenomenon (and others aren’t even pandemic-related, as companies have done this for years), but it’s interesting to see these companies reacting to the pandemic. Comics will survive, I imagine, but it will be interesting to see how.

Anyway, this is a disappointing book, which is too bad. The hook is cool – scientists discover a crashed spaceship in the Siberian ice with Neanderthals on board frozen in storage, and Jocelyn Young, a cultural anthropologist, is sent in to investigate. There’s also a representative of the Vatican, of course, and shady Russian dudes, and the stage is set for an interesting thriller. Giampaoli only has four issues, though, so the book feels wildly incomplete. The priest actually gets an interesting arc where he has to deal with the challenge to his faith, but other than that, we just get hints of what this all means to the world. It’s frustrating, because of course this would cause turmoil, and of course the people at the site would have agendas other than just study, and of course it could become a thriller or a horror thing or, really, anything, but Giampaoli either didn’t want to get into that or he simply didn’t have enough room. So this becomes a mildly interesting book that feels rushed and too short. It’s honestly quite frustrating. Nobody at Dark Horse could have thought we could get through everything that could be considered with an inciting event like this in only four issues. So why greenlight it? Sales might have been terrible, but would they have been any worse if this had been 6-12 issues? Would Dark Horse have lost so much more money? I don’t get comics publishing, but it seems like anyone who gave the go-ahead to this being only four issues had to know they were asking for trouble and for wise-acres like me to rant about it. It’s just annoying.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Man, why they wanna do the Flintstones like that?

Tomorrow by Peter Milligan (writer), Jesús Hervás (artist), James Devlin (colorist), Clem Robins (letterer), and Karen Berger (editor). $19.99, 110 pgs, Dark Horse.

Something must be in the water (it’s in the water!!!!), because in 2020 we’ve gotten more than usual virus stories, and they were probably all pitched well before 2020, so zeitgeist works in strange ways, don’t it? Milligan’s story is one of the better ones, because while some of these virus stories have felt inappropriate in the Age of the ‘Rona (not that I wanted them suppressed, they just feel a bit weird), Milligan can be a good bleak writer, so he doesn’t really give us much hope about curing the virus in his book, which is a computer virus that “jumped species” and begins infecting humans. It generally only kills adults, because, the theory goes, kids have been looking at screens so much that their brains have changed somehow so the virus doesn’t kill them. It’s basically just an excuse for Milligan to turn the entire world into “Lord of the Flies” (which a character references at one point) and examine what would happen to everyone. Some, naturally, revert to barbarism, while others try to rise above it and rebuild society. He focuses on twins, Oscar and Cira Fuentes, who are separated by the North American continent when the virus strikes – she’s in Los Angeles, where they live, while he’s in New York auditioning for a prestigious music school – and Oscar has to get home however he can, while Cira has to survive however she can. There are other characters, and Milligan, who has always been good writing characters in dire circumstances, does a good job with all of them as they navigate this new world. It’s less of a virus story – the virus is just the catalyst and doesn’t seem to spread person-to-person – and more of an examination of what makes a society and how easily it can all disintegrate. It’s not quite as deep as it could be – it’s only 5 issues, after all, and some characters remain stereotypes – but it’s still better than you might expect. The art is tremendous, too, as Hervás gives us a country that has fallen apart but where you can still find pockets of so-called civilization, and Cira’s transformation, especially, is very neat, visually as well as emotionally. He gets the horror of the world quite well, but also keeps the characters’ humanity, which makes them easy to connect with and also fills us with shame when they do things that are, well, mean.

Milligan is a good writer, so it’s nice to see him writing good things (he can be really, really bad occasionally). It’s a nice trick!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I’m going to guess that it probably wasn’t?

Undone by Blood volume 1: The Shadow of a Wanted Man by Lonnie Nadler (writer), Zac Thompson (writer), Sami Kivelä (artist), Jason Wordie (colorist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (letterer), and Mike Marts (editor). $16.99, 117 pgs, AfterShock.

In the past few years, Nadler and Thompson have become two of the best writers in comics, either together or by themselves, and Undone by Blood just confirms that opinion. This is a simple revenge tale, but Nadler and Thompson tell it so well that it becomes an epitome of the genre, and they manage to tell two excellent ones in one series, to boot. In 1971, a young woman named Ethel arrives in a very small Arizona town. She’s there to kill the men who murdered her family a year earlier, when they had been passing through. Meanwhile, she’s reading a book about a cowboy a century earlier whose son has been kidnapped by an old rival and the cowboy’s efforts to get him back. Ethel has been learning how to kill people, and she stomps her way through the town, disrupting drug trafficking and pissing off the sheriff, whom she can’t decide if he’s corrupt or not. She gets beat up fairly often, but she’s learned how to be tough, so it’s not very easy to kill her, and she eventually finds the man who killed her family, because of course she does. Meanwhile, Solomon Eaton, the cowboy in the book she’s reading, tracks down the men who took his son and exacts bloody vengeance, and it’s impressive that the writers are able to make both stories, despite their similarities, unique to the times and interesting to follow. Sol is an old hand at violence, so his story is more about how he’s trying to get away from it, while Ethel is new to violence, so her story is about how she can use it, not to make it better, but simply to punish. She’s tough but not invincible, so it’s fascinating to see how she manages to find the man who killed her family and why she has contempt for the sheriff, who hasn’t done it yet. The art is also superb. Kivelä, the Finnish finisher, has also become a top-notch artist over the past few years, and he makes marvelous use of panel placement and page design to not only differentiate between the two time periods but also to pack a lot of visual information onto the page without overwhelming the reader. There’s a sequence where she gets dosed with some drug (probably PCP) and Kivelä shows wonderfully how her perception of the world changes. Wordie’s colors are terrific, too, as he uses thick brush strokes for the flashbacks to the day Ethel’s family died and brighter earth tones for the present and slightly muted tones for the Old West story (not quite sepia-toned, but close). The book looks amazing, both the line art and the color art, and it helps bring Nadler and Thompson’s story to fierce life.

This is listed as “volume 1,” but I’m not entirely sure if Nadler and Thompson could do a volume 2. They seem to be the kind of writers who like to tell a complete story, and while there are characters still alive at the end of this, I’m not telling who they are so I won’t give any clues as to where the story could go. But I suppose it’s a possibility? Either way, this is an excellent comic, and it just shows that these writers and artists are some of the better ones you can find out there right now.

(I’d be remiss if I didn’t get pedantic about geography and topography. A map early in the book clearly shows that the small town – Sweetheart – is on the way to Yuma, in the southwest corner of Arizona. Yet a few pages later, a man wonders if Ethel is just passing through the Tucson, which is in the southeast part of the state. Plus, we get the magnificent sandstone buttes of Monument Valley, which is in the far north of Arizona and does not resemble the southern Arizona desert – which is part of the Sonoran desert – at all. The desert on the road to Yuma – which you pass through on Interstate 8 on the way to San Diego – is simply hilly and scrubby, without the giant buttes that make Monument Valley so impressive. I don’t really care that much – Nadler and Thompson are both Canadians, although they could look at a map, and Kivelä is Finnish, so I imagine he was using a Google image search – but I like to mention weird shit like this to make myself feel superior.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It’s funny ’cause dudes are stoopid

The Last Pagan: Julian the Apostate and the Decline of the Ancient World by Adrian Murdoch. 260 pgs, Inner Traditions, 2003/2008.

The Roman emperor Julian, who ruled the empire for less than two years, has an oversized grip on the imagination of historians and fiction creators. For one, he was extremely erudite and left behind a treasure trove of letters, which Murdoch uses quite well to reconstruct his life. Second, he was a fairly strong emperor – he became Augustus when he was 29 or 30, he was healthy, and he had proven himself an able military leader, so the army loved him. Third and perhaps most important, he was a pagan, and he began a program to “un-Christianize” the empire that would have been fascinating to see play out had he been able to see it through. Fourth, tied into that, is that he died on the battlefield, fighting the Persians, so there’s a sense of “what-if?” about his life that is more tantalizing thanks to his religious convictions than if he had just been a random short-lived emperor. Murdoch uses the sources (there are several quasi-primary ones) and Julian’s letters to give us an interesting portrait of the man, from when he was quite young and was orphaned by his cousin Constantius II in the aftermath of Constantine’s death in 337 through his final campaign in modern-day Iraq. He was raised as a Christian, but it was clear early on that he had doubts about the religion and he gradually embraced a pagan worldview and became implacably opposed to Christians, whom he called “Galileans.” Murdoch points out the anti-Christian legislation he passed, which might have ended the religion’s nascent hegemony in the Roman world (Constantine, whether a Christian or not, was the first emperor to tolerate it, and his heirs between 337 and 361 were fairly weak and didn’t consolidate it as much as we might think), although Julian himself was not a terribly good pagan, because he wanted paganism to become more like the Christian church, which by this time was fairly well organized. Paganism was just an amorphous set of beliefs, which is one reason why people latched onto Christianity so easily, as it had far more structure. So while Murdoch can’t say if Julian would have succeeded, he does show that Julian was very serious about turning back the tide of Christianity, although he might have been struggling against something too irresistible to stop.

Julian’s early death, from a wound he sustained somewhere in Persia (nobody quite knows where the battle was fought), ended his attempts and turned him into a figure of myth, and Murdoch does a decent job going over his legacy, as Christian writers for centuries used him as a bogeyman before the Enlightenment, when anti-Christian writers used him as a tragic martyr, fighting against the repressive Church. You can find Julian all over the place – Gore Vidal’s most famous novel is about him, and the magnificent staircase at Hampton Court in England is painted based on one of Julian’s satirical works. He remains a fascinating character – as Murdoch’s subtitle implies, Julian’s death ended the “ancient world,” a world without Christianity, and paved the way for that religion, which was still not completely established, to become the all-powerful force in the lives of Europeans for the next 1400 years or so. Julian is an interesting person and emperor, but he’s a more interesting symbol, and that’s why books like this still fascinate students of history, even if Julian didn’t have as much of an impact as he might have wanted.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club by Mike Mignola (writer), Adam Hughes (artist), Clem Robins (letterer), and Katii O’Brien (editor). $4.99, 22 pgs, Dark Horse.

These one-shots by Mignola and Hughes are largely inconsequential ghost stories, but I will keep buying them because I love Adam Hughes’s art that damned much. The fact that he rakes it in at conventions is great for him but sad for me, because he has no reason to draw comics anymore, and he can still kill it when he does, so whatever Svengali-like hold Mignola has over him is fine with me, because we get stuff like this, which is achingly gorgeous. Plus, we get Pauline Raskin, B.P.R.D. field agent since 1987 (the book is set in 1992), who in 46 panels is now my favorite B.P.R.D. agent ever, even though I’m sure we’ll never see her again. Anyway, it’s a fun little ghost story drawn by Adam Hughes. What the hell else do you need?

(I should point out that there should probably be an apostrophe after “wives,” right? The club belongs to the seven wives, it seems, it’s not a club for dudes with seven wives. Apostrophes get short shrift these days, and I think that really suck’s.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Pauline knows how to react to weird shit!

Alienated by Simon Spurrier (writer), Chris Wildgoose (artist), André May (colorist), Jim Campbell (letterer), and Eric Harburn (editor). $19.99, 132 pgs, Boom! Studios.

Spurrier is usually a pretty good writer, and he knocks this one out of the park, which is nice. He gives us three high-school quasi-outcasts named Sam – Samuel, Samantha, and Samir – who find what appears to be an alien egg in the forest one day, and when it hatches, things get weird for them. Spurrier does a very good job establishing that these kids might not be the popular ones but they’re also not completely outside the high school society, so their problems slowly reveal themselves instead of being there from the beginning, which makes them feel a bit more real. The alien they find is hungry, and it eats … well, that would spoil things, but it’s also extremely powerful, and the kids think they can use it to make their lives better, but of course having a genie never works out the way you think it will. By the end of the first issue, a bully is dead, Samuel’s police officer mother is investigating, and things start to get dark. None of the kids is really equipped to have the power of the alien at their fingertips, but they all handle it differently when they confront what bothers them about their lives. It’s a bit of a horror comic, a bit of a tragic comic, but mostly it’s a coming-of-age story, as the kids need to learn what’s important in their lives and what they can let go. I don’t love straight coming-of-age stories, but stealth ones, wrapped inside science fiction and horror, usually work better, and Spurrier knows what he’s doing. He’s helped by Wildgoose, whose continues to evolve and get better, as his characters feel real despite his slightly cartoonish style and his alien looks charming and friendly, which makes the few times it’s definitely not a lot scarier. Wildgoose has some amazing layouts in the book, too, which shows his confidence as he works more. A good amount of the terror in this book is interior, and Wildgoose really does a wonderful job taking Spurrier’s possibly unexciting conflicts and visualizing them in a way that makes them pop off the page. Wildgoose really makes the book flow well, which helps create an eerie kind of setting even as it stays grounded in everyday high-school problems.

In other words, this is a really good comic. Hey, Brian K. Vaughan likes it, too!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That’s not going to be good for anyone

Billionaire Island by Mark Russell (writer), Steve Pugh (artist), Chris Chuckry (colorist), Rob Steen (letterer), and Cory Sedlmeier (collection editor). $16.99, 120 pgs, Ahoy Comics.

Billionaire Island is not quite as incisive a satire as Russell’s DC work, mainly because his target – billionaires – are far too easy to insult, so it’s harder to make a satire about them as subtle as good satires are. This is still a fun book, but it’s broader than some of Russell’s work, as he foregoes any cleverness to simply take shots at the rich. A billionaire has built an island that moves throughout international waters so no one ever knows where it’s going to be and laws don’t apply, and he’s invited billionaires to come to the island so they can wait out the end of the world and then move back to land when the peons have slaughtered each other. A reporter trying to get to the bottom of the whole thing is imprisoned in a giant hamster cage in the man’s mansion, and she spends most of the book trying to escape. Another dude sneaks onto the island to kill the billionaire, but of course things go a bit sideways. Russell has fun with President Kid Rock, a conservative pundit who’s literally called Some Angry Guy on a Motorcycle (he’s always astride it, even when he’s alone in his mansion), the richest of the rich on the island and how he makes decisions, and why Billionaire Island isn’t exactly the greatest place on earth (which is pretty funny). The other people in the giant hamster cage are somewhat obvious, but they’re still indicative of part of the reason why billionaires can do what they do, and Russell doesn’t pull any punches there. It’s a perfectly fun comic that’s quite over the top, but when you’re dealing with billionaires and you’re (probably) as mad about them as Russell is, you don’t mind going over the top. Pugh, obviously, has a lot of fun with this book as well, as he gets to draw all sorts of unusual-looking people, from the odd billionaires who don’t keep themselves in shape to the one person in the hamster cage who’s a bit crazed. Just the subtle touches like the receding hairlines on some of the billionaires is clever, as it’s clear these people aren’t great physical specimens but they get to play god because they have a lot of money. So many of the characters are a bit off their rockers, and Pugh is always good at showing that fairly subtly, even though he, too, has fun going over the top. When he draws in this style, Pugh has a natural sense of humor, so working with Russell seems to bring out the best in him.

Despite this being not quite as great as some of the stuff Russell has written for DC, this is still a very fun book. It’s nice that Russell can keep doing this kind of goofy stuff, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Pugh drawing it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That’s me and my wife and … let’s say Travis

Die #11-15 by Kieron Gillen (writer), Stephanie Hans (artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), and Chrissy Williams (editor). $19.95, 123 pgs, Image.

Gillen and Hans continue to do very good stuff with Die, as Gillen keeps making it both about the game and about far more than the game. He never lets us forget that the characters are in a game, as several of the ancillary characters comment on their own fictitiousness and the main characters speak a bit about their “moves,” but he brings in a lot of other themes, too, that make it a richer experience because these are grown-ups who have left their lives behind for a time. So there’s stuff about parenthood, about loyalty to one’s friends, about family problems, about who to trust, about the nature of faith, and then H.G. Wells shows up to talk about the end of war and how that can be achieved. There’s a lot going on, beyond just the fighting, which ramps up a bit in this arc as the group is split for most of it and discovers they don’t actually trust each other. By the end, they’ve achieved a fragile truce, but that doesn’t mean they’re all buddies again, and the tension in this arrangement is palpable. Hans, of course, continues to dazzle, as she creates a few more weird creatures and manages to make a 19th-century Englishman absolutely creepy. Her colors continue to dazzle, and she gives the entire book such a beautiful fantasy look while still showing how lost these characters really are. Die is a very good book, and this is just another very good arc of it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Maybe he’ll stop if we offer him a nice burrito?

Bang! volume 1 by Matt Kindt (writer), Wilfredo Torres (artist), Nayoung Kim (colorist), Bill Crabtree (colorist), Nate Piekos (letterer), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $19.99, 121 pgs, Dark Horse.

Bang! is a fun comic, as Kindt creates various genre archetypes – James Bond, John McClane, Michael Knight, Hercule Poirot/Jessica Fletcher – and puts them into an adventure about their fictionality, as they’re curious about why fictional books written about them can predict what’s going to happen so well. It’s not a new conceit, certainly, but Kindt is a good writer, so he keeps things zipping along nicely, and the fact that he uses more recent stereotypes (although, of course, because Kindt grew up in the 1980s, the genre stereotypes are generally from that decade) is neat. He has fun playing with these genres and their representatives, and while we get a hint of a volume 2, this would be perfectly fine standing on its own. It’s a plot-based book, so I don’t want to write too much about it, but it’s definitely a nifty comic to spend some time with. I’ve never loved Torres’s art, but it doesn’t get in the way here, so I can live with it. There’s nothing too revolutionary about this comic, it’s just a good time. It’s 2020 – we all need some escapism, right?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Do we really need to set aside a time to kick ass?

Plunge by Joe Hill (writer), Stuart Immonen (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), Deron Bennett (letterer), and Robin Wildman (collection editor). $24.99, 138 pgs, DC/Hill House Comics.

Joe Hill wanted to write a Cthulhu story, so by god, he did! He’s not shy about this being a Cthulhu story, but what the heck, people write Cthulhu stories all the time, and at least Hill acknowledges that it’s one. There’s nothing wrong with a good Cthulhu story, and Hill does a nice job with this one, as he allows the creepy “people” – the crew of a ship that’s been lost for almost 40 years in the Arctic until it shows up again, with dire consequences – to make arguments about why the nice salvage crew that has come to “rescue” them should let Cthulhu out of the earth below and onto the surface. Of course, we and the salvage crew don’t know about Cthulhu for quite some time, and Hill toys with our expectations just a bit, letting us think that the slimy worm things that inhabit the old crew – never trust slimy worm things!!!! – might be not as malevolent as they look. But of course they are, and Cthulhu shows up, and Hill figures out a clever way for the salvage crew to fight him (Cthulhu’s a male, of course, even if it’s hard to tell, but I mean, he’s all phallic substitutes and attitude, so of course he’s male!). It’s a good, solid horror story, and Hill makes sure that the things in it aren’t too crazy so that the horror is kind of down-to-earth and relatable, and thankfully, nobody acts too stupidly, even the bad guy (who’s not strictly evil, just misguided). Of course, having Stuart Immonen draw it helps a great deal, and the book is absolutely exquisite to look at, especially when Cthulhu shows up and begins doing his thing. Immonen is superb at everything, so he does nice work with the people as they try to handle this thing, but his design of the slimy slug-worms is horrifying and his Cthulhu is super-weird, which works really well. Immonen doesn’t need to draw as many comics as he once did, so it’s nice to see him on a book, because his art is so wonderful.

So this is a nifty horror story. Who doesn’t like a nice Cthulhu story?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Jeez, man, okay, if it means that much to you …

Crazy ’08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History by Cait Murphy. 368 pgs, HarperCollins, 2007.

I love reading books about baseball, and Murphy’s account of the great pennant race of 1908 is one of the better ones I’ve read, as her writing is charming and lively, and she goes into a lot more than just the race – she gets into the state of baseball in the early 20th century and a bit on how it evolved to that point, and she also gives us a bit about what kind of country the United States was in 1908 and how it, too had evolved (not all of it rosy, of course, as she touches on segregation in baseball more than you might expect). She focuses on the National League, simply because in the first decade of the 1900s, the great baseball teams were in the NL, but she doesn’t neglect the American League, which had its own good pennant race, won by the Tigers in their early-century dominance before their slide into 20+ years of mediocrity.

The 1908 race is remembered for the “Fred Merkle game,” in which the New York Giants thought they scored the winning run in a crucial late-season game against the Chicago Cubs, but rookie Fred Merkle, who was on first when the run scored, didn’t touch second base and was therefore forced out when Johnny Evers, part of the Cubs’ famous double-play combination, found a ball in the crowd that rushed the field after the “game-winning” hit and tagged second. The Giants thought they’d won, the Cubs thought the game was tied and needed to be either replayed or restarted, and a heated pennant race gets jacked up to blazing. But the season was tense before that, as the Giants and Cubs fight it out with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the third great team of the first decade of the 20th century, and the lead in the standings alternates wildly as teams go on winning streaks, losing streaks, or beat on each other. Of course the Cubs and Giants ended up tied, so they had to replay the Merkle game, which the Cubs won, sending them to their third World Series in a row … which they won, their last for 108 years, causing no end of grief to millions of Chicagoans (of course, when Murphy wrote this book, they were still on the streak). She gives us a good sense of the difficulties involved with playing baseball in 1908, from the terrible travel conditions to the parks where walls were often optional, so fans could crowd onto the field and affect the game far more than they can today. We also get insight into how the owners thought (short-sightedly, which is all too true today) and the troubles they had to deal with (gambling was a huge problem early in the game’s history, but the owners tried to brush it under the carpet until 1919, when they couldn’t ignore it any more) and the way they treated the players (very poorly). But, she notes, many players were in the game as a way to escape the coal mines of the Appalachians, whence many of them hailed, and playing baseball in crappy conditions was a lot better than working in the mines. So there’s a lot of interesting cultural history as well as the sports aspect of the game.

If you’re at all interested in baseball history, this is a keen book to read. If the names Tinkers to Evers to Chance, John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, Napoleon Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Roger Bresnahan, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, Ty Cobb, or even lesser-known (but still great) players like Addie Joss and Ed Walsh, who turned out one of the best-pitched games in history on 2 October 1908 (Joss pitched a perfect game on 74 pitches; Walsh gave up only 4 hits and 1 run and struck out 15), give you a thrill, then you might want to check this book out. It’s nifty.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Underworld Unleashed: The 25th Anniversary Edition by a bunch of mid-Nineties comics dudes. $29.99, 276 pgs, DC.

In the back of this collection, DC reprints the afterword Mark Waid wrote in 1998, when the original trade was released. He writes about how they were trying to upgrade some of the villains without falling into the “kewl” aesthetic that was so very, very prevalent at that time. It is, of course, all bullshit – I like Waid, both as a writer and a human being, but he’s full of shit here, because that’s kind of exactly what he and Howard Porter, the artist of the main mini-series, did – they upgraded the villains with a new, edgy, “kewl” look, as this mini-series is in the Top Ten of “Most 1990s Comic Ever,” especially if we limit ourselves to DC and Marvel, who jumped on the “Kewl” Train a few years late (I know, shocking) and at least the original Image dudes were blazing a trail, as terrible as that trail was. Underworld Unleashed is a slightly better example of this sort of thing, because Waid is a good writer and Porter was a good artist even if he was comfortable inside the Kewl Aesthetic. So yes, we get Trickster with a wildly stupid-looking ponytail, but the anatomy of the figures is good and the storytelling is clear. We don’t get the many tie-ins, just a few, so we get to check out Phil Jimenez’s beautiful art in “Abyss: Hell’s Sentinel,” the Alan Scott story, and when Jimenez couldn’t finish the book, young J.H. Williams III steps in, so that comic is really nice. Waid does his usual good job of characterization, focusing on the Trickster as our point-of-view character, which works well because he’s not a super bad guy but we can believe he’d be in Neron’s orbit, so we get perspective on the big bad of the book we wouldn’t get if we saw him from the outside. As usual with so many of these big crossover villains, his scheme seems to be “blow shit up,” but Waid does a decent job with the various characters around him, so while Neron remains an enigma, at least the others aren’t. So this is a fun collection, with check-ins at Apokolips, Hell, and Gotham City (three of the more pleasant locations in the DC Universe), and if you want to be reminded about how weird 1995 was in comic book terms, the tattooed Guy Gardner/Warrior incarnation is on the Justice League, and Jared Stevens plays a key role in helping Alan Scott in Hell. Man, Jared Stevens. What a glorious time that was.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

How can you not love him?

Chu #1-5 by John Layman (writer/letterer) and Dan Boultwood (artist/colorist). $19.95, 102 pgs, Image.

Layman’s Chu, a companion piece to Chew, has gotten off to a decent start, but it feels like it hasn’t quite hit warp speed yet, mainly because Layman had to use this opening arc to explain why we never see Saffron Chu – Tony’s sister – in the original series (the easy answer is she didn’t exist yet, but let’s not be cynical!). So in this arc, we meet Saffron – a criminal whose food-based ability comes in very handy in her illegal activities – and find out what her deal is. She gets involved in a crime gone wrong with her boyfriend, a sleazebag she’s still with at the end of the arc, so perhaps she’ll figure out in the future that he’s no good for her, and eventually ends up in prison for three years, getting released still before the beginning of Chew but with a grudge against her brother, which is why she doesn’t want to hang out with him in his series. Layman is very good at creating interesting characters, so the new additions to the Chu family and the reappearance of old friends – including Tony’s introduction to John Colby – keeps the arc humming, even though it’s a bit disjointed. We do get some nice violence and perhaps a recurring villain, but we’ll have to see. Boultwood, who’s a pretty good artist, has a similar cartoony style to Rob Guillory, so the tone of the art remains in the same ballpark, but Boultwood’s line is a bit thinner and his characters a bit broader. His gross stuff doesn’t look quite as gross as Guillory’s, but that’s a weird and minor complaint. It’s good that Layman was able to find an artist who could keep the tone of the art, and Boultwood is not a bad choice. It appears that Layman is taking more time between arcs (the next issue comes out in April), so I hope Boultwood sticks around.

As I always have to mention, I’m friends with Layman (although the pandemic has put the kibosh on our lunches), so I’m kind of in the bag for his work, but I try to be as objective as possible. So far, this isn’t as good as Chew, but that’s to be expected. It has a lot of potential, though, and I’m looking forward to more!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Nothing manlier than beating up your own sister

Lois Lane: Enemy of the People by Greg Rucka (writer), Mike Perkins (artist), Paul Mounts (colorist), Gabe Eltaeb (colorist), Andy Troy (colorist), Simon Bowland (letterer), and Robin Wildman (collection editor). $29.99, 264 pgs, DC.

Rucka and Perkins doing a Lois Lane book sounds like a home run all the way, but despite some very good individual moments, this doesn’t really cohere into something great. Rucka’s story is kind of all over the map, so it’s hard to get into any one story because all of it – or nothing of it – seems really all that important. We get Lois pursuing a story about the government separating families at the border, which is obviously “ripped from the headlines.” But then there’s a Russian journalist who has been killed for criticizing her own government. And Lois has been spotted kissing Superman, which makes everyone think she’s cheating on Clark Kent. Then there’s someone out to kill her, but she has hired Renee Montoya to bodyguard her. There’s a connection to Rucka’s Checkmate, and the assassin who’s been trying to kill Lois isn’t what she seems, and Lois’s dad dies halfway through, which is tied into the “Leviathan” thing DC was doing, and there’s her son, who’s leaving to join the Legion of Super-Heroes … it’s a lot, and none of it really sticks. By tying it into greater DC continuity, Rucka disrupts a lot of things – the Leviathan thing comes out of nowhere, and because Lois’s dad isn’t in the book that much, his death has basically no impact, but we get an entire issue of Lois mourning. The Superman thing is dumb because it seems like Rucka is trying to make a point about sexism – Lois the homewrecker! – without blaming Superman, but it doesn’t really work, mainly because Lois and Superman are so very stupid about it. They can’t keep their hands off each other when there’s a chance someone might see them? Superman can’t whisk her off to the Fortress of Solitude for a quick banging? She can’t wait five minutes until he can change clothes back to Clark Kent? It’s just dumb. Then the book isn’t really about journalistic stuff, but why Lois has a teenaged kid and how she knows so much stuff about certain individuals. It relies on the reader to know a lot more about the current status quo of DC than they should (I don’t mind expecting a bit of knowledge, but not so much), a status quo, I should point out, that changes so often it’s hard to keep up even if you’re reading along in a monthly fashion. So it looks terrific, and Rucka is too good a writer to not have some clever stuff in here, and some individual issues are really interesting, but it just doesn’t work as a complete story. It’s too bad.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Why is Renee wearing a push-up bra when she’s about to fight?

Love and Capes: The Family Way by Thomas Zahler (writer/artist). $19.99, 167 pgs, IDW.

Zahler has been doing his superhero sitcom strip for some years now, and he thought he had brought it to an end when Mark (the superhero) and Abby (his wife) had a kid, but he figured out a way to get around the tedium of baby care – jump ahead a few years, and now the two have an older son and a new baby (so, yeah, still the tedium), but what that did was allow Zahler to change the status quo of the supporting characters and tell new stories with them. Mark and Abby are still relatively the same, but they get to react to new things and new situations, and Zahler’s gentle sense of humor is as charming as ever (he’s never going to be laugh-out-loud funny, I don’t think, but the jokes do bring a smile to your face, which is nice). As befits the webcomic nature of the story, we get four panels to move the story forward or set up a joke, and Zahler does a nice job making sure he uses those four panels well. There are nice running gags, parenthood concerns, and even some nods toward what happens when Mark is actually, you know, superheroing (Zahler continues to keep the actual superheroics off-panel, which is clever, but he does get into the consequences of superheroing, which is nice). His art remains as interesting as ever – he draws the characters like cartoons, but he’s smart enough to tweak little things to keep them animated and real, and he knows how to dress them, which sounds odd but is crucial for a comic like this. This is just a charming comic that, as long as Zahler is passionate enough to continue it, will probably remain that way and I will continue to enjoy it. It’s comfort comics!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Never really something you want to hear over the phone

The Osiris Path volume 1 by Christian Moran (writer), Corey Kalman (writer), Brockton McKinney (writer), Walt Barna (artist/colorist), DAM (letterer), and Esther Gabriel (editor). $12.99, 74 pgs, Behemoth Comics.

Well, three writers is always a good thing, right? There’s no way this would be some Frankenstein monster of a comic!

So this is pitched as “Indiana Jones in space,” and I have to imagine it started life as a movie/television pitch before moving to comics. I had thought we’d gotten past the idea of comics being the ghetto for failed movie pitches, and I hope Behemoth isn’t just one of these companies that releases comics desperately trying to get into movies (looking at you, Radical and Legendary). I mean, good luck to them, and I certainly don’t mind getting more comics in my life, but it feels so cheesy, doesn’t it? Anyway …

So yeah, it’s “Indiana Jones in space.” It’s set in 1980 for seemingly no reason whatsoever (and therefore features someone with a douchebag goatee, which not a lot of men had in 1980 but which they do now), and it has a dude who’s let in on a secret – the U.S. has had bases on the moon and Mars for years, and they discovered what appears to be Egyptian ruins on both. Our hero, Alexander Hancock, is an archaeologist who is brought on to decipher the hieroglyphics at the sites, but he soon learns that there’s a weird cult fighting against the “good guys,” who turn out to be not quite standard American government people. This short trade is mostly set-up, but it’s kind of fun if you turn your brain off. There’s fighting, explosions, attempted human sacrifice, that weird dude on the cover being weird, and a dude who plays Space Invaders when he really should be working. Barma’s art is slick but effective, and while occasionally his storytelling is a tiny bit wonky, overall he’s pretty decent. I’ll probably get the next trade, if it shows up, just to see where the story is going. It’s hard to make a determination after this, as it is, as I mentioned, a lot of set-up. But it’s pretty good.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Man, you really should have used an oil-based paint on those hallways

Starring Sonya Devereaux volume 1 by Todd Livingston (writer), Nick Capetanakis (writer), Brendon Fraim (artist/letterer), Brian Fraim (artist/letterer), Jordan Boyd (colorist), Matt Webb (colorist), and James Couts (colorist). $19.99, 116 pgs, American Mythology Productions.

I love this stupid comic more than I should, because it’s not in any way good for you – it’s like eating a Devil Dog, and I mean that in the best way possible (God, I love Devil Dogs – “chocolate air,” my dad once called them, and that’s a perfect description). This is a comic about an actor named Sonya Devereaux (“America’s 306th Best Actress!” according to the cover), who stars in schlocky horror and action movies. The conceit of this series is that Sonya introduces her “movies,” and the bulk of the issue is whatever movie happens to be showing. So in issue #1, she’s at a comic convention and she introduces the movie. In issue #4, she’s the guest on a late-night movie show and the host interviews a bit before the “movie” comes on. You get the gist. The “movies” are terrible, of course, but that’s the point, and the writers ramp up the silliness until you can’t help loving these terrible things. Sonya goes on “spring break” in 1871, for instance, taking a break from “schoolmarm school.” Sonya points out all the 1980s action movie clichés her teammates say right before they get killed, and they all get killed. There are also bonuses, from a “making-of” featurette to blooper reels, and it’s all ridiculous. The Fraims have a good time with all this, as well, giving us Sonya and her female co-stars in various stages of undress pretty much constantly, while giving the men douchebag ponytails and goatees and generally having a blast. The coloring on the first issue is a bit heavy-handed, but the subsequent colorists lighten up a bit, making the work look much better. It’s both a satire of these kinds of movies, but because so many of them are goofy already, you can read it as just straight schlock. Either way, it’s delightful. I hope there’s more coming!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

She means the medal, honest!
Relevant

That’s all for November (yes, I know we’re a week into December – give me a break!). Let’s take a look at the money I spent on these glorious, glorious funnybooks!

4 November: $220.34
11 November: $189.01
18 November: $100.61
25 November: $229.10

Monthly total: $739.12
YTD: $6713.57

**********

I don’t have much to ramble about this month – the ex-president still doesn’t want to admit that he lost the election, and only 27 Republicans in Congress have acknowledged that he did, and he tweeted out that he’d like a list of their names, which sounds chilling until you realize that the ex-prez is a complete buffoon and wouldn’t know how to run a vendetta anyway. I love all my right-wing friends on Facebook who were very upset that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted something about archiving the tweets of Trump supporters so that when they try to claim they never liked him they could point to those tweets, because my right-wing friends claimed she wanted an “enemies’ list” even though it was very clearly not what she meant, yet when their hero says he wants a list of people who have acknowledged he lost, presumably so he can try to ruin them, they’re silent. Whatever. One of my right-wing friends, who claims to simply want a government that isn’t corrupt, is already posting about Biden’s corruption despite the fact that he hasn’t taken office yet, but he’s been silent for four years. Okay. Anyway, this exhausting process is almost over, and there’s nothing the ex-president can do about it. Republican legislatures and governors in all the states he’s whining about have been certifying the results, including our governor here in Arizona, who’s been a sycophant for years. He was actually offended that anyone would question the results, because Arizona has been voting by mail for decades and has never had a problem. Just because you don’t like the results doesn’t mean everything is corrupt!

But that’s that. Here in the AZ it’s been chilly – the temperature rarely gets above 70 these days! – and we’re loving it even though I can’t keep the windows in my car open in the morning when I drive to work because it’s actually in the 40s at that time. But the winters here rule, so that’s fine. I also had to get a new cell phone, because my old one was starting to fizzle out on me. It’s sad, because I really don’t want a new phone, but I finally joined the 21st century and got an iPhone. It has 128 GB of memory, so I can put a lot more music on it, which is what I really care about – my iPod doesn’t work anymore, so I want to have something to play music while I’m in the car. So that’s fun. I’ll see if I become one of those people who’s always on their phones. I doubt it. Here are my old phone and new phone:

Pour one out for my cool old phone. Its physical keyboard was super-duper.

Have a great day, everyone. I linked to Undone by Blood below in case you’re curious, but remember that if you use that link for anything (Christmas shopping, maybe?), we get a bit of it at the blog, and isn’t that just nifty? I hope everyone is staying safe – we went back to on-line school full-time here, but other than that, things remain quasi-normal, although we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks if cases continue to rise. I’m just glad the election is over and we can admit this whole thing was a hoax!

7 Comments

  1. tomfitz1

    Oh, Burgas, Burgas, Burgas … what are we ever going to DO with you?

    I agree with you about DAPHNE BYRNE, DIE, PLUNGE, and CHU. All good reads.

    The rest I haven’t seen so I can’t possibly comment on that, can I?

    I’m not gonna ask what you were eating.

    As far as the TRUMP insanity goes – it never seems to end, does it?
    He just have to whine, and moan, and complain about the conspiracy that robbed him of his victory.

    I would just love to see a news cycle go by for a week without having to mention anything about Trump.

    That’s all I want for X-mas.

  2. Eric van Schaik

    I only got Osiris Path.
    Blackwood, Undone by Blood and Alienated look interesting. The panel of Alienated reminds me of the Judge Child Saga where Brian Bolland drew a man disappearing in tiny bits.

    I got a double cd of a concert by Arena (XX). The band was founded by Mick Pointer the original drummer of Marillion so you should give it a try. Nice stuff.
    Put it on your new phone 😉

    On november 30 my mom passed away. Earlier that day a got a call to visit her because it would propably be the last time. Last friday was the cremation. I told the people who came a bit about her and they appreciated it. Although my ex knew my mom for about 30 years she didn’t had the need to pay her last respect. My kids found that a bit strange. Not even there to support them…
    I work a bit from home and will meet my collegues again next week.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Eric: I’m sorry to hear that. I haven’t gone through it yet, but I imagine it’s very difficult. My condolences. That’s very strange about your ex.

      I will check that band out. I have far too much music to dive into!

  3. Delighted there’s a new Love and Capes.
    ” Julian himself was not a terribly good pagan, because he wanted paganism to become more like the Christian church, which by this time was fairly well organized. ” I’ve often thought that a Christian-style paganism would make a great basis for launching an alternate history.
    The problem of tying in to crossover events is an ongoing one for trade reprints. It would help if they’d just put in a text page indicating “What was going on in this other book …”
    I really enjoyed Underworld Unleashed. And some of the power upgrades really were good rather than just Kewl (though there were some of those too). Major Disaster, for instance, gets the ability to see how a seemingly random act will topple a chain of dominos causing something catastrophic to handle (leading to the line “Who are you? And what you are doing with that cheese?”). But the price is, he can’t turn it off: everywhere he looks he sees “wow, that woman stops to tie her shoe, there’ll be so much carnage here tomorrow.” which is unpleasant.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I was having a tiny bit of fun at Waid’s expense, because he obviously did want to resist making them kewl, but it was in the water in 1995, so he just couldn’t help himself! That’s an interesting power for Major Disaster. I have no idea if anyone did anything with it, because I was not reading Green Lantern comics then.

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