The thousands stand and chant. Around them in the world, people ride escalators going up and sneak secret glances at the faces coming down. People dangle teabags over hot water in white cups. Cars run silently on autobahns, streaks of painted light. People sit at desks and stare at office walls. They smell their shirts and drop them in the hamper. People bind themselves into numbered seats and fly across time zones and high cirrus and deep night, knowing there is something they’ve forgotten to do.
The future belongs to the crowds. (Don DeLillo, from Mao II)
Heroes Reborn: America’s Mightiest Heroes by Jason Aaron (writer) and comics’ greatest artistic talents! $34.99, 210 pgs, Marvel.
It’s boring to write that a big ol’ superhero bash is the best comic I read this month, but it’s true! I’ve always thought that Jason Aaron is kind of wasting his time on superhero stories, as the early ones I read by him weren’t that good, and while he’s still not great at them, he’s kind of “cracked the code” to writing them, so they work even if they don’t dazzle us too much. Here, we get what I guess is a continuation of his Avengers run, even though I haven’t read his Avengers run and have no problem following along, as this is basically a “wrong Earth” thing, with the Squadron Supreme as the stars. I do wonder why the bad guy is so bad (it’s not the biggest spoiler, but I still won’t ruin it), but whatever. Basically, this is a world where Captain America never came out of the ice so there are no Avengers, and only Blade (for some reason that I’m sure is super-important) remembers the “real” world. He’s going around trying to find people to fight the Squadron, which seems like a far more fascist organization than they are in regular Marvel continuity. Aaron tells individual stories about each Squadron member as he also tells the larger narrative, and it works well. Ed McGuinness, as bombastic a superhero artist as you’re going to find (which is great, because it’s superheroes!) draws the first issue, the back-up stories in the intervening issues, and the final issue, in which everyone fights everyone else, and we get some very cool artists for the individual issues about each Squadder (Squaddie?). Dale Keown draws some of the Hyperion issue, and the Hulk is there, which is nice and nostalgic (Carlos Magno draws some of the issue, too, because Keown is just that slow?). Federico Vicentini does very nice work on the Blur issue, while Erica D’Urso does solid if unspectacular work on the Princess Power one. The highlights are Aaron Kuder drawing the penultimate issue, when the Squadron starts to figure out that someone is moving against them, R.M. Guéra doing a mean ‘n’ nasty Nighthawk story, and STOKOE!!!!!! drawing a very cool Dr. Spectrum-vs.-Rocket Raccoon/Groot story. Aaron does a nice job getting out of the artists’ way when he has to, and I’m a sucker for a good “alternate Earth/”The whole world is WRONG!” kind of jam, so I’m happy that Aaron doesn’t screw it up. As usual, nothing can come to a conclusion in the Marvel Universe, so we get a stinger at the end, but it’s a fun foreshadow, so I don’t mind. Got to keep the gears grinding! Mostly, this is a just a fun superhero epic with nice art. And, as usual, Marvel or DC needs to throw all the monies at STOKOE!!!!!! to let him do whatever the hell he wants. STOKOE!!!!!! does a Dazzler story! STOKOE!!!!!! does a Ghost Rider story! STOKOE!!!!!! does a Styx and Stone story. YOU KNOW YOU’D READ THAT!!!!!!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Birthright volume 10: Epilogue by Joshua Williamson (writer), Andrei Bressan (artist), Adriano Lucas (colorist), Pat Brosseau (letterer), and Sean Mackiewicz (editor). $14.99, 101 pgs, Image.
Williamson and Bressan’s epic fantasy comes to a conclusion, as Williamson wraps up the loose ends at the end of the big war between good and evil that took up the previous volume. I don’t want to write too much about it, because I don’t want to spoil what happens at the end of that, but let’s just say that Mikey the Hero has grown up, and in this volume he has to decide what to do with his life. Of course there’s a happy ending, but Williamson does a nice job getting us there without sacrificing “realism” just to get to that happy ending. Mikey still has to deal with some things, and we get to see the horror-filled land where he grew up one more time, and the characters have to make some hard choices. This has always been a very good comic, and it’s too bad it’s never really gotten the buzz it deserves, because not only is the story very good, but Bressan and Lucas on art have been killing it from the very beginning, and they do so again. It’s been such a marvelous-looking book, as Bressan makes us believe in Terrenos thanks to the incredible detail he puts into the landscape, and of course his characters, from the noble to the base, have always been superb. If you’ve ever wondered if you should read this, well, it’s done now, so you can read it all at once. Enjoy!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Hot Valley Days and Cocaine Nights by Matthew Spradlin (writer), Farid Karami (artist), and Andrew Crossley (colorist). $19.99, 108 pgs, Antarctic Press.
I was a bit surprised this was as good as it was, and it’s mainly because Karami’s art is quite nice – he nails the late ’80s/early ’90s vibe without being too obnoxious about it, as the fashions simply fit into the story, so they give a good sense of the time period without being parodic. He also does a nice job showing how the main character slowly goes from being a tough but relatively innocent girl to a hardened dealer without losing her sense of self – Janie dominates the book, and Karami does a very good job with her. Crossley does nice work with the colors, as well – there are a lot of pastels, but again, they don’t overwhelm the story, and there’s a nice amount of neon, which gives the book a nice kind of tacky, sleazy nouveau riche feel – this is a culture where money is made quickly by people who think glam is the “correct” way to flash their wealth. The story is good, too. Janie leaves a home in Ohio with two druggie parents and an inappropriate grandfather, moves to Los Angeles, and becomes an influential coke dealer – nothing we haven’t seen before, of course, but it’s all in the telling. Janie is a fascinating character – she tries to care for her siblings, with her brother even joining her in L.A. to help with the drug trade; she never gets too far down the drug-using rabbit hole, so she’s able to act lucidly in tough situations; and she’s a woman, which isn’t commented on too much but which seems like both a boon and a curse in this world. She’s able to get to places that men can’t because she uses her sexuality, but of course the men don’t take her that seriously and most of them are simply stronger than she, so she needs to use her brains more than they do. It’s an interesting look at the culture through the eyes of a relative outsider. Janie is also a bit of a mother hen, not only with her siblings but with some of the people she meets, as she allows a dude to live with her because he’s trying to get his band up and running, she defends her brother (who’s a bit of a screw-up) against the thugs in the story, and she points out the other characters’ bullshit quite a lot. I don’t know how “true” this “based on a true story” is, but it’s entertaining and nicely-drawn. That’s not a bad thing!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Wolverine: Black, White & Blood Treasury Edition by, you know, lots of people. $29.99, 120 pgs, Marvel.
Okay, the absence of an Oxford comma in the title bothers me, but let’s move on!
I mean, it’s a Marvel giant-sized edition with some very good creators cutting loose on short stories – what’s not to love?!?!?!? Adam Kubert, who is a wonderful artist when he has time and isn’t asked to meet deadlines, begins things with a gory story about the Weapon X people trying to turn Wolverine into a monster and failing. It’s by Gerry Duggan, and it pretty much sets the template for the book – Logan either rebelling against those that want to bend him to their will or figuring out a clever way to destroy his enemies. There’s a clever Matthew Rosenberg/Joshua Cassara story about Nick Fury and Logan coming up with a plan to take out a top-level Hydra guy. Declan Shalvey AND Vita Ayala/Greg Land do stories about Logan protecting children because he’s just a big softie. I hate to admit it, but Land’s art is actually pretty good – maybe he should work in black and white more often! Saladin Ahmed and Kev Walker have an Arcade story (Arcade is an underrated villain, and writers tend to use him poorly, as Ahmed kind of does here, but it’s not too bad). Claremont does a story about “Patch” and Kitty Pryde, which is a typical Claremont story that isn’t helped by whatever Salvador Larroca is doing these days. John Ridley and Jorge Fornés have a nice “we’re the true monsters” story about Logan and Mariko, and there’s a Donny Cates story with “Future Punisher Ghost Rider” or whoever the hell Castle is that proves that Chris Bachalo really does need color, as his black and white (and red!) work is kind of mushy. The “We’ve created a mutant planet out of Mars” story (wait, what the fuck?) is dealt with in Jed MacKay’s story, which is kind of dumb and features art from Jesús “I’m working in the Salvador Larroca What the Heck Happened to My Art Phase” Saiz. Kelly Thompson and Khary Randolph give us a perfectly fine Mystique story set right after Logan’s failed wedding to Mariko (Thompson’s favorite X-Era), and Ed Brisson and Leonard Kirk follow that with a Reavers-Era story, which is fun and features a shark. Finally, Stephen S. DeKnight and Paolo Siquera go even further back in the nostalgia files, as Wolvie teams up with Sauron to fight Garokk, which is also a fun story because Logan and Sauron don’t want to team up and Garokk isn’t quite as much of a threat as he thinks he is. Most of the stories are fun, most of the art is very good, and it’s a nice giant-sized package (yes, yes, that’s what she said). I reiterate – what’s not to love?!?!?!?
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Gotham City Monsters by Steve Orlando (writer), Amancay Nahuelpan (artist), Trish Mulvihill (colorist), Tom Napolitano (letterer), and Reza Lokman (collection editor). $17.99, 122 pgs, DC.
I haven’t loved Orlando’s work, but he’s not bad, and he does a nice job with this series, helped immeasurably by Nahuelpan, who’s an excellent artist who’s deserved to become a more well-known artist for some time. Orlando vaguely references things that are happening in Gotham at this time (which I don’t really need to know about, and it sounds stupid anyway) and then decides that Frankenstein assembling a team of monsters to fight a reincarnated Melmoth is just the ticket, and he’s not exactly wrong. Frankenstein knows that Melmoth wants to “cure” the world by killing everyone on it (not the most original thing, but whatevs), and he can’t fight him alone, so he gets Andrew Bennett (who apparently is now young and sexy because millennials ruin everything)(and who says his “catchphrase” “I … Vampire” more than once in this series, and any amount more than zero is too much), Killer Croc, Lady Clayface lady, Orca, and Batwoman, plus a new character called the Red Phantom who is, I kid you not, a gay vaudevillian whose soul is bonded with a theater and who’s much more interesting than even that description makes him sound. They team up, they bicker, they figure out what Melmoth is doing, they fight. It’s pretty bloody and exciting, but Orlando does a nice job, especially with Croc, who has always been a weirdly misused character (and I don’t love that DC has brought him back, after Doug Moench, who didn’t create him but did a lot of good work with him, sent him to hang out with Swamp Thing 25 years ago), and it’s nice that Orlando has a decent handle on what makes him tick. Despite the fact that the actual plot isn’t anything to write home about, Orlando does a good job humanizing the characters a bit, using some weird things from DC’s history (I don’t love the fact that Melmoth is around, because Morrison characters don’t seem to quite work when he’s not writing him, plus I hate bringing characters back to life in general, but it’s not the worst thing in the world), and making the story work. Nahuelpan does an excellent job, making Melmoth creepy and the Red Phantom terrifying but also handling the “superhero” aspects of the story well. I find, although I might be alone in this, that artists who work on Batman books do a good job if they make Gotham feel like a real city, even with all the insanity that happens there, and Nahuelpan does that pretty well, so that the monsters fighting for Gotham feel like they’re actually fighting for a real place. It’s a small but cool thing, and I appreciate it when artists try to do it.
Anyway, I don’t know what’s going on in DC History Proper these days, but I can still dig the ancillary mini-series that come out of it, can’t I?
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Amber Blake is a decent enough thriller with nice art from Jackson Guice. It’s about human trafficking, and it feels too truncated, but maybe there’s going to be more. It’s pretty good. Black of Heart is a nice horror/noir book set in 1949 New York, where a dude is killing women because of course he is, and the detective trying to find him is an emotional mess because of course he is. It’s nice and gruesome, and while I wish the main character had done a bit more, you know, detective work, it’s not a bad, creepy story. I wanted to like Damned, Cursed Children more, because who doesn’t love prepubescent children suddenly turning into zombies and killing everyone older than they? It’s a fun comic, but it’s a bit disappointing because that’s literally all it is – no explanations for the kids’ behavior are even hinted at. Not everything needs to be explained, but some hints would be nice. Robin Simon Ng’s art is quite nice, though. The Führer and the Tramp is a very weird comic, as Sean McArdle and Jon Judy try to thread the needle between slapstick and adventure in which Hitler plays a big part, and they sort of do it? Charlie Chaplin, Hedy Lamarr, and Errol Flynn try to get The Great Dictator made, all while trying to thwart Hitler, and because McArdle and Judy don’t ignore the Holocaust, it becomes a very bizarre comic that is often very funny but doesn’t seem to take Hitler seriously even as we’re getting some plot points about the Holocaust. It’s not a bad comic – in fact it’s fairly entertaining – but it is bizarre. Peter Milligan and Piotr Kowalski are a good team, so God of Tremors has its moments, but it doesn’t quite rise above any other creepy story. An epileptic boy in the late 1800s is tortured by his father, a preacher who believes he possessed, and in the woods, he finds a weird idol (note the cover) who might be an ancient god that can help him, or might just be a hallucination. It’s not bad, but it could have been better. The Roger Stern/Ron Frenz/Sal Buscema joint Heroes Union is more fun than it has any right to be, given that the creators are not re-inventing any wheels here and that Frenz has never been the best artist. It’s just a superhero group fighting a bad guy, but Stern has some fun with our expectations (one of the heroes has to use the bathroom in the middle of a fight, for instance), and this leads nicely into the “Binge Book” shared universe, with olde-tyme creators galore. It’s certainly not great, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s either been a while since I saw Simon Fraser’s art or I’m misremembering what it looks like, because his art on Hershey: Disease, which is what happens to Chief Judge Barbara Hershey after her “death,” is beautiful. Rob Williams’s story, which takes Hershey to Central America to fight evil, is pretty good, but the art is wonderful. Dave Dwonch and Brockton McKinney write Jenny Zero, which features solid art from Magenta King. It’s a story of a kaiju-fighter who failed at her job spectacularly and was booted out of the Kaiju-Fighting Army, but now they need her back. Of course she’s trying to live up to the legacy of her legendary kaiju-fighting father, and of course there’s a dark secret in her past, but it’s still a good comic, although it ends too abruptly and it’s obviously not a complete story, so I do hope we get more of it. I keep getting Magdalene Visaggio comics because she’s intriguing but she’s never written a really great comic, and Lost on Planet Earth is another one of those frustrating stories. It’s a very good hook – Visaggio envisions a future where everyone is expected to join a Star Trek-esque “Federation,” and her protagonist has dedicated her entire life to joining, but on the day of her entrance exam, she freaks out and decides it’s not for her. Visaggio follows her as she deals with the fallout of her decision, but she also looks at how it affects those around her. The problem with the book is that it’s kind of disjointed and unfocused for a short 5-issue story, and it might have worked better as a longer work, but it’s pretty good. It’s just that Visaggio can’t quite make her good ideas work as excellent stories, and it’s frustrating. Radiant Black seems to be getting some buzz, and it’s perfectly fine, but it’s a fairly standard superhero story so far. A dude who failed to make a name for himself in Los Angeles moves back in with his parents in Ohio and one night he grabs a strange floating object and turns into a superhero. It’s not the only strange floating object, however, and apparently the thing whose object it is wants it back. Kyle Higgins does his usual solid-but-not-great work, and Marcelo Costa’s art is pretty good. Thompson Heller, Detective Interstellar sounds like something a bunch of drunk writers came up with at the back-end of a night of slamming tequila, but it’s surprisingly good, as Milton Lawson gives us a dude who zips all over the universe solving weird cases, which aren’t ridiculously hard to figure out but feature all sorts of cool sci-fi things, so they seem weirder than your usual murder cases. Plus, there’s a Shadowy Government Organization™, in this case a powerful religious group, that Heller’s girlfriend (or just friend with benefits?) is going to join, something he doesn’t think is a good idea. Dave Chisholm does nice work with the visual weirdness, and I look forward to more of this series, if it happens. Finally, John Arcudi brings us Two Moons, a horror comic set during the Civil War. A Pawnee raised by white people who has left his native heritage behind suddenly begins to see monsters, which he learns are there feeding off rage, which is kind of at a high level during the war. He has to fight the monsters, which can appear as human, but of course people think he’s nuts when he starts gunning down random Union and Confederate soldiers, seemingly in cold blood. It’s a good beginning to the series, with Arcudi doing his usual good job and Valerio Giangiordano doing nice, gritty work on art.
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk (translated by Erdağ M. Göknar). 413 pgs, Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.
I like Pamuk, who’s the greatest living Turkish writer, maybe? (I’m not up on my Turkish writers, sorry, but I mean, he won a Nobel Prize, so there’s that.) This is the second book of his I’ve read, and it’s pretty good. It takes place in Istanbul in 1591, during the reign of Sultan Murad III, and it concerns miniaturists. How exciting! Actually, it’s a murder mystery (ostensibly), a plot that Pamuk uses to examine the nature of art, the influence of perspective on art, and how religion informs art. Every chapter is written in a first-person perspective, including two dead people, so we get a lot of views of the same thing, which is a nice way of dovetailing with the use of perspective in artwork, which the Renaissance artists in Europe pioneered and which the miniaturists in Turkey debate, as some find it heretical. The main character, such as he is, is called Black (many of the characters do not use their real names), and he is working with a man who is creating a book for the sultan, one which incorporates the new-fangled “Frankish” drawings (back in the day, Muslims tended to call all Europeans “Franks”). Early in the book, a man working on the book turns up dead, and Black returns to Istanbul after some years away to help his mentor finish it, even though many people would prefer if he didn’t. Pamuk goes into the history of Ottoman art and the style of the artists, as a style that proclaimed the artist’s individuality was discouraged as being an affront to the sultan and therefore an affront to God. It’s fascinating to read a book like this, which offers an idea about art so different from the “Western” standard, where the individual artist is celebrated. As the Ottomans become more and more ensnared in Europe’s issues, it’s not just their politics that are affected, but their society in general. Meanwhile, Black wants to marry his mentor’s daughter, whom he had a crush on back when he lived in the city, before he went on his wanderings, but she’s technically married even though her husband is a soldier who has not returned from the front in several years. Pamuk uses this to look at the politics of being a woman in this society and the stratified culture in which the characters live. It’s written in a flowing, lyrical style, which gives it a weird sense of unreality and is why people compare Pamuk to writers like Márquez and Eco. He’s a very interesting writer, and it’s always nice to read something about a different culture from someone steeped in that culture. It’s always good to broaden your horizons!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Kung Fu season 1 (CW). I like to give the CW “superhero” shows a decent chance, so I checked out the reboot of Kung Fu. It’s … fine. It’s not great, and I don’t know if I’ll watch the second season, but it’s not terrible, either. It’s nice that they have a (mostly) all-Asian cast, and Olivia Liang is fine as Nicky, the star, but it’s still a CW-esque drama, so there are too many piano interludes and too much soapy junk. Nicky is descended from a line of warriors who fight bad guys, using magical weapons that can also be used for evil (of course), while Zhilan (Yvonne Chapman) is the evil person who wants to use the weapons to gain ultimate power (of course). The show doesn’t always go in the direction you think it will – Zhilan is a bit more sympathetic than your garden-variety villain, for instance – but it’s not too surprising, either. As always with the CW shows, the Vancouver setting is very nice (the show is, naturally, not set there, but it’s filmed there), and the actual kung fu is pretty good – they use wires and other “Crouching Tiger” tricks, but it’s also clear the actors/stunt people know what they’re doing. What’s most fascinating about the show, for me, is the difference between television in the 2020s and television in the 1970s, when the original aired (besides the fact that they can cast Asian actors and not David Carradine). I’ve never seen a minute of the original (and why they called this show Kung Fu when it’s literally nothing like the original is mysterious to me), but the kind of show it is just doesn’t get made anymore, even though those kinds of shows were big hits back in the “Cannell” decades. You know the kind – a single or very small group of protagonists, moving around with no real home base, encountering new characters every week, and not really going in for too much introspection. Those kinds of shows just don’t really get made too much anymore, although they do still exist in places. These days, there’s more of a focus on a larger, permanent cast; a focus on family ties; season-long arcs; and more romantic entanglements and other more soapy elements. I’m not saying one kind of show is better than the other (as a dude who grew up during the “Cannell” decades, I naturally have a soft spot for those shows, but they’re not necessarily better), it’s just interesting the shift in what kinds of shows are popular, and because Kung Fu shares a name with one of those shows, it invites comparisons. Anyway, this is a decent show, but it’s nothing special. I guess if you have a fetish for Asian women (or men, ’cause this is a judgment-free zone!), you might dig it a bit more, because the cast is, at any rate, easy on the eyes!
Doom Patrol seasons 1 and 2 (HBO). This is a weird show, but I don’t think it’s quite weird enough to work, and it’s a conundrum. First, there’s the fact that the first season was a too-long 15 episodes, while the second was a too-short 9 episodes – they could have taken three from Season 1 and added three to Season 2 and things might have balanced better (whoops, COVID wiped out the tenth episode of Season 2 – Season 1 is still too long!). The creators are cribbing hard from Morrison’s DP, and it’s clear they love it and they do try to use stuff from his run without simply slavishly redoing it – I mean, Rita Farr and Cyborg are in this show, so they can’t be perfect about adapting GMozz’s work. We do get Danny the Street, Mr. Nobody, Willoughby Kipling, the Candlemaker, Red Jack, the Sex Men and Mr. Jones, the Ant Farm, the Beard Hunter, Flex Mentallo – and the show does a pretty good job with most of them. Steve the Pirate does what he can as Mr. Nobody, as he’s a narrator who knows he’s in a television show, which is pretty clever, but the show does turn him into a bog-standard villain, which is boring. The problem is that technology still hasn’t caught up to Morrison’s imagination, so while some of the CGI is good, they can’t quite go as wild as the series does. The Ant Farm, for instance, is a dull prison, while in the book it’s something far more sinister, and in this show, Mr. Jones is just a thug instead of a creepy 1950s sitcom dad. The same thing with the Candlemaker – they sort-of get him right, and the way he attacks the team is pretty good, but he’s just not scary enough. The things they change are strange, too. Dorothy is Caulder’s daughter, which doesn’t work at all. Nobody ages, which is fine for Cliff and Larry, and if you squint it works for Rita, but not Jane and Dorothy. Rita has always been a boring character, which is why Morrison didn’t use her, and April Bowlby does what she can with the role, but there’s just not a lot there. They seem to be hinting toward Rebus, but Larry and the Negative Spirit don’t have a woman in there with them, so I’m not sure how it’s going to work (Valentina Vostok showed up and I thought they’d use her, but then she disappeared). Rhea, Arani, and Josh Clay show up, but only for an episode. The biggest problem is with Caulder and Jane. Timothy Dalton is fine, but the Chief is far too sympathetic, even if he does the same things he did in Morrison’s run. It’s as if they wanted to do the story but didn’t want to make Dalton the villain? And Jane is just weird. Diane Guerrero is actually pretty good … at literally every other character (she plays them on the “surface,” while some different actors play them in the Underground, which is clever). Her Jane, however, is bad, simply because she plays her as an asshole. It’s off-putting, especially because she has other personae that are made to be assholes. When Miranda comes along (in another change from the comic, Miranda goes into the well but comes out, seemingly healed), she’s much more like “Jane,” in that she’s far nicer and tries to make an effort. We don’t trust her, because we know some things, but at least she’s trying. It’s frustrating, because the Jane in the comics is trying to get better, while as Guerrero plays her, she’s just a jerk. The addition of Cyborg does nothing for the show, either, and Joivan Wade is fine, but doesn’t bring a lot to the table. It’s just a weird amalgamation of one of the strangest (but best) comics ever and the desire to tell a superhero story. The third season is coming along in September, and I’ll watch it (Season 2 did end on an unintended cliffhanger), but I don’t really love the show. But I don’t hate it, so I will watch, because I want it to be great. So far, it’s not. Fingers crossed!
Professor T season 1 (PBS). This is a British version of a Belgian show (which is in Flemish, which is pretty awesome), and it’s not bad. It’s yet another of these “weird dude who knows a lot helps the cops solve crimes,” which is a wildly over-used trope but you know what? I still dig it. Most shows rely on performances and details to work, and Ben Miller does a nice job making Professor Jasper Tempest (now there’s a name!) not too weird, although he is strange. He’s a criminologist at Cambridge, and one of the cops is a former student, so she gets him involved in the first episode and he discovers he likes it and he’s good at it. Emma Naomi and Barney White as the partners who have banged and don’t know where to go now are good, while Frances de la Tour (most famous for being Hagrid’s girlfriend?) is fun as Miller’s mom. The mysteries aren’t too complex, and anything filmed in England is bound to look good because they have all that old shit just sitting around. It’s a decent little mystery series, and I’m sure I’ll watch the second season when it comes around.
The Deceived (Starz). This is only four episodes, so it’s quick and easy to watch and doesn’t allow you to ruminate too long on how stupid the main character is before it pays off everything. It’s not a bad story, just one that relies on the protagonist being as stupid as is humanly possible for as long as possible. I kept saying she should be like George Costanza and do the opposite of her gut instinct, because every decision she makes in this show is wrong, beginning with banging her married college professor (which you shouldn’t need to be told is a bad idea, but I guess someone should have told her that). We get Emily Reid as Ophelia, who falls hard for dashing Cambridge professor Michael Callaghan, played by Emmett J. Scanlan. He’s married to a famous novelist played by Catherine Walker, whom Ophelia meets briefly after the affair has begun but (presumably) before the wife knows anything. Of course Ophelia gets pregnant, and of course she follows Callaghan to Ireland when he returns there mysteriously, where she finds out that his wife has died in a fire at their old country home. Ophelia could easily figure out pretty quickly that the best thing for her to do is go back to Cambridge and wait for Michael, especially as creepy things begin to pile up and she gets hints that Michael is kind of a cad, but, stupidly, she sticks around, and then it becomes impossible for her to leave. I don’t like shows where the stupidity of the characters drives the plot, and we get a lot of that here. I mean, I could buy this series being set in an earlier time when women weren’t as wise to the ways of men, and I know people still make stupid decisions, but Ophelia bangs a professor she knows is married, gets hints that he’s done it before, yet still buys that he’s going to leave his wife for her. The show, to its credit, does make Michael fairly magnetic (Scanlan does a good job with the role), but in this day and age, when women know far more about what scumbags men are than ever before, it’s kind of hard to believe that Ophelia could be as naïve as she is. I always tell my wife that she’ll be the one getting killed in a horror movie because she’ll investigate the weird things, while I’ll never even be in a horror movie because the instant I think anything is amiss, I’m peacing right out. Ophelia is definitely in the former category. If you can suspend your disbelief regarding Ophelia, this isn’t a bad thriller, with solid performances and gorgeous scenery and a nice, creepy vibe, and it does have relatively interesting things to say about power dynamics between men and women. There’s just a huge leap to make with regard to the stupidity of the characters (not just Ophelia, although she’s the biggest offender), and it might be a bridge too far for some people.
Let’s take a look at what I got in the Golden Age of Reprints, where just like last month, I’m not sure if one of these counts, but it’s not too big a deal!
The August 1961 Omnibus is a superb idea from Marvel, as we get every single issue that was published in that month … including some rando thing called Fantastic Four #1. I doubt if that amounted to much. It’s really wacky – there’s Kathy, Life with Millie, Patsy Walker, Linda Carter Student Nurse, Millie the Model, Patsy and Hedy, Teen-Age Romance, and then there’s Kid Colt, Outlaw and Rawhide Kid, and then there’s Amazing Adventures, Journey into Mystery, Tales of Suspense, and Amazing Adult Fantasy (not a porn book, sadly), and then there’s FF #1, which doesn’t look as incongruous as you might expect in the middle of all those monster books. A dude at the store when I bought this thought it was a good idea but pooh-poohed getting it because of the “chick” comics, but come on – half of this (seemingly; I haven’t counted) is drawn by Kirby, and there’s some nice Ditko stuff in there, and Stan Goldberg and Al Hartley might not be the greatest artists, but their work is still fun to look at. I would love it if DC and Marvel did this for random months in their history – that might be keen. They won’t, but it would still be fun!
Bacon and Other Monstrous Tales (with “Thrills! Chills! and Spills!”) is full of early work by Troy Nixey. I don’t always love Nixey’s writing, but he’s not bad, and his art is stupendous, so I’m glad Dark Horse has been collecting some of his old work.
Dracula by Alberto Breccia is a strange, wordless book full of late-era Breccia work (he was in his early 60s when he drew it), and it’s a parody of the Argentinian government under a dictatorship, which they unfortunately had a lot of experience with. It’s odd but very interesting-looking and it appears Fantagraphics is going to be collecting a lot of Breccia’s work, which should be cool.
Star Trek: Debt of Honor. This came out early in my comics-buying career, and I didn’t buy it despite the Claremont/Hughes pedigree because, come on, Star Trek is for old nerds, amirite? But I love me so Hughes art, so even though I’m still not a big Trekkie, I decided to get this when IDW reprinted it. It’s pretty groovy-looking, and I will bet Claremont doesn’t say that Kirk is the best he is at what he does!
The Victories Omnibus is another one of these recent comics that I’m not sure counts here, but I’ll allow it. This is Michael Avon Oeming’s other superhero epic, the one he did all by himself, and it looks like the final issue came out in 2014, which is why I’m hesitant to include it here. However, it’s already been collected, so that’s why I have it here, even if this is the first time it’s all been between two covers. It’s my game, so I make the rules!
X-Factor by Peter David Omnibus. I bought some of this, but for some reason I stopped, so I figured I’d get this to take a fresh look. I remember liking it, but I don’t know why I stopped buying it. Maybe I really didn’t like it and I’ll hate this and hate myself for spending a chunk of change on it. Oh, the self-loathing! But I like David in general, so I doubt I will dislike this. And I can finally read issue #87, which I actually have never read!
We seem to be done with the world with The Collected Toppi volume 6: Japan, unless Sergio Toppi did a lot of stories set in Antarctica. I love these collections, and I hope Magnetic continues to do them even if they can’t do a geographical theme anymore. You really should check out Toppi’s art if you haven’t already.
Here’s what I spent in August!
4 August: $177.86
11 August: $328.90
18 August: $219.99
25 August: $144.84
Total for August: $871.59
Let’s break down the publishers I bought comics from!
AfterShock: 1 (1 single issue)
Albatross Funnybooks: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Amulet Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Antarctic Press: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Beehive Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Boom! Studios: 1 (1 single issue)
Cat-Head Comics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Dark Horse: 9 (2 “classic” reprints, 1 graphic novel, 5 single issues, 1 trade paperback)
DC: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Dead Reckoning: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Fantagraphics: 4 (1 “classic” reprint, 2 graphic novels, 1 single issue)
Grand Central Publishing: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Heavy Metal: 1 (1 trade paperback)
IDW: 2 (1 “classic” reprint, 1 single issue)
Image: 8 (1 graphic novel, 3 single issues, 4 trade paperbacks)
Living the Line: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Magnetic: 2 (1 “classic” reprint, 1 graphic novel)
Marvel: 4 (2 “classic” reprints, 2 trade paperbacks)
Rebellion/2000AD: 1 (1 trade paperback)
SelfMadeHero: 1 (1 graphic novel)
SitComics: 1 (1 single issue)
Source Point Press: 4 (4 trade paperbacks)
Breaking down the totals! (As always, the numbers in parentheses are totals for the year so far.)
7 “classic” reprints (44)
13 OGNs (71)
13 single issues (75)
15 TPBs (110)
Let’s do the tally of the year so far!
Dark Horse: 52
Boom! Studios: 14
Source Point Press: 5
Viz Media: 5
Mad Cave Publishing: 4
Magnetic Press: 4
Oni Press: 4
Abrams ComicArts: 2
Black Mask: 2
Black Panel Press: 2
Cat-Head Comics: 2
21 Pulp: 2
Albatross Funnybooks: 1
Amulet Books: 1
Archie Comics: 1
Avery Hill: 1
Beehive Books: 1
Black Cat: 1
Conundrum Press: 1
Dead Reckoning: 1
Floating World Comics: 1
Gallery 13: 1
Grand Central Publishing: 1
Heavy Metal: 1
Hermes Press: 1
Iron Circus Comics: 1
Keylight Books: 1
Living the Line: 1
New York Review Comics: 1
Pantheon Books: 1
Plough Publishing: 1
Red 5 Comics: 1
Second Sight Publishing: 1
Storm King: 1
Top Shelf: 1
A Wave Blue World: 1
We had to euthanize our dog a few weeks ago, so that sucked. He was about 13, and his health was deteriorating. We got him from a rescue operation that found him in the desert, full of ticks, and we’re pretty sure a man abused him, because he was always more comfortable around women and was suspicious of men. He was diagnosed with valley fever soon after we got him, so he was on medication for that his entire life, and recently he had become arthritic, so he just wasn’t comfortable anymore. He stopped taking his meds and then he stopped eating, so we knew it was time to let him go. My wife and daughter were very upset (so was I, but he was very much more my wife’s dog than mine), but it was the right thing to do. They came to our house so he wouldn’t freak out going to the vet, and it was very quick and painless. He was a good dog, and we miss him. We’re going to forego dog having for a while (we still have the four cats), but we’ll see if we get another one in the future.
My older daughter turned 19 on the 30th of August, which continues to be shocking to me. I mean, I’m not that old, how can I have a 19-year-old daughter? We’re still thinking about what’s going to happen in a few years when she gets out of high school, but luckily, we do have a few years to think about it. My younger daughter is still having difficulties with life – she’s an emotional mess, and we’re sad about it because nothing seems to help her. She has to figure out how to cope with the real world, because it ain’t going anywhere, and we and her therapists can only do so much. It’s frustrating. We just want her to get through high school (which she hates) and maybe go to a college that she actually wants to go to. I hate seeing her struggle, but again, she has to work at it and it’s tough for her. Kids will break your heart sometimes.
The problem with dealing with personal stuff right now is that the world sucks so hard. Texas just basically outlawed abortion and the Supreme Court said “Yeah, sure.” I hate these anti-vaccination people more and more each day, and take such gleeful pleasure in the fact that a bunch of them are dying from COVID. Fuck those people. I want Joe Rogan to die screaming and bleeding, denying that he has COVID with his last breath. And that doesn’t really make me feel good, even though I just typed “gleeful pleasure.” I mean, yes, there’s schadenfreude at work, but I don’t want to be a person who takes such pleasure in people dying, but that’s where I am. I try so hard to ignore some of my Facebook friends who keep posting about how horrible the vaccine is and how they’re maskless and proud, because I just want to punch them right through the computer. In essence, the Republicans have won, because they have filled everyone with hatred. I still resist it, but I’m so sick of the idiots that I can’t help but hate them. When our buddy Greg Hatcher is in and out of the hospital because of his health problems and I worry that one of these days the doctors won’t be able to see him because they’re too overstuffed with idiot COVID sufferers, I get angry. Again, fuck those people. You don’t deserve people like Greg and Julie, who are worth more than one billion Joe Rogans.
In other, less annoying news, our former Dread Lord and Master, Brian Cronin, has a new web site, because he’s apparently a vampire who never sleeps. He’s writing about weird little pop culture things that don’t fit into his comics stuff, his movie stuff, or his sports stuff. So check out Pop Culture References if you have some time to kill.
The biggest news in the world, though, is that there’s new ABBA music. NEW ABBA MUSIC, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!! You know how you’ve always felt like there’s something missing from your life, but you couldn’t quite figure out what it was? IT WAS THE LACK OF NEW ABBA MUSIC IN YOUR BRAIN!!!!!! I don’t love the video for the first song, or I should say I do like it until we get to the animated avatars, because the uncanny valley effect is quite strong, but it’s a good song (as is the second track from the upcoming album), and I’m trying to control my expectations for the entire album. I’m really looking forward to it, though, and so is my daughter, who digs the band almost as much as I do. YAY, ABBA!!!!!!
On that cheerier note, I say farewell for now. I hope everyone has a good long weekend, unless you’re reading this in one of those heathen countries that doesn’t get Monday off. How do you like your healthcare now, people who don’t get Monday off? Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!!!
Ahem. Anyway, have a great weekend, be kind to each other, and celebrate ABBA. You know you want to!!!!!
(As always, if you use the link below, even if it’s not to get the Heroes Reborn trade, we get a little bit of that. And remember that there’s a “tip jar” at the top of the page on the right, if you’re feeling generous. We appreciate your support!)
No one knows how to be a parent to a teenager. Especially me.
Ain’t that the truth. I hope you’re doing okay with yours! 🙂
I live in one of thos heathen countries that don’t get the monday off, but we will get september 16th off so there(also, you don’t get the 2nd of november off so there, ha!)
I remember liking a lot Peter David X-Factor, it was my favorite comic at the time I was reading it but HATED that they gave him like cero consistent artists to work with. He had like a issue with one artist, then another artist and so on. It was infuriating. Not as infuriating as the covid deniers but still, infuriating
I liked Stroman’s weird, angular art, but you’re right – the consistency with artists just wasn’t there, and that was before the companies planned for it a bit better, which they do now (not great, just better). A lot of books suffer due to artistic inconsistency, unfortunately.
Like Der I live in a heathen countrie with the monday off.
And in your eyes we’re communists with 25 vacation days, so there. 😉
@ Der: how many vacation days do you have in Germany?
I got the BWS masterpiece Monsters, but haven’t had to time to read it.
I ordered the Heroes Union book, but my LCS hasn’t received it yet.
I got the In it for the money 20th anniversary edition from Supergrass. It has 3 disc, with demos on the 2nd, and live recordings on the 3th disc.
Another nice package was the Arena, From the beginning photographic history book with the last concert with there old singer.
Let’s see how the ABBA albim will be.
Sad to read about your dog. I’m not a big dog lover but still. We have 3 cats but I wonder how long it will be because 2 of theme are not that young anymore.
Next monday my second kid turns 19 too! 🙂
At the end of the day his friends will come and they’ll stay up all night watching movies, playing Nintendo switch and other stuff.
If all goes well he’ll finish school at the end of november and then he will move here because my ex sucks a bit as a parent.
Last tuesday my oldest moved out of the house and now lives in Weesp which is closer to his work in Amsterdam. He’s doing the pastry training, after finishing his cook’s training earlier this year.
On dutch television I saw an item about the horrible aboprtion law. A Texan governor told that the rapist had to be punished but that the child must live. How can that idiot not understand that the mother was raped and didn’t want the child. IT WAS NOT HER CHOICE, STUPID MOTHERFUCKERS!!! 🙁
At moments like this I’m so glad that I life in Holland.
I hope that other Greg is doing fine. It worries me (and other I suppose) that he hasn’t posted something for a while.
Now I have 2 weeks to work and then our trip to the Azores.
Eric: Der is in Mexico, last time I checked!
The abortion thing is so stupid, because abortions don’t stop just because you make them illegal. Abortions go down in Democratic administrations because there’s more post-natal support for both mother and child, but Republicans not only want to make abortions illegal, they want to take away any support for the mother and kid after the birth, too. And they wonder why people get abortions …
Greg is not doing great, but he’s getting good care, it seems (his wife updates on Facebook). We are all hoping they can figure out how to fix him, because it seems like a lot of little things adding up to one big mess.
Yeah, I’m in Mexico, plotting how to steal all of the jobs from ‘Murica, mwahahaha(just kidding, keep your jobs, I like mine)
We get like five-six federal holidays, plus a couple of days that aren’t exactly official holidays but we all take them anyway. If you work in banking you get like two more, if you are a student/teacher then you get a buttload more obviously. Also, if you work in the “formal sector”(meaning that your job pays taxes and all that. More than half of the people here don’t work that way) then you get days off after your first year at that job, by law. You start by like 6 days and end(after a couple of decades) at like 20-22. We have very little vacation time, specially since my kid(she’s almost six) gets a lot more time off than my wife, so not that many vacations for us.
I don’t even want to read more about that abortion thing because it will just make me mad, we got enough batshit right wing dudes in here to get mad at, sorry.
@Greg: It’s very sad to hear that about other Greg, man, I do miss his posts(does he reads comments in your posts? Hi Greg!) even when I don’t really share his exact passions(I don’t really care that much about Sherlock Holmes for instance) but it’s to me a sign of the great writers you guys are(yes, even Travis, he should post more) that I love reading what you guys post no mater what it is.
I didn’t really like Heros Reborn. It seemed to be trying to do too much and the actual story got shoehorned out. If they had gone further and did an Age of Apocalypse where they actually replaced all the Marvel comics with the Squadron for a couple months then they could have fleshed things out and had time for the story about the characters trying to fix things.
Regarding Doom Patrol, it is ok. I don’t know why Cyborg is here. I guess he’s the closest we get to a “normal” hero but that isn’t enough reason. I always hated Dorothy in the comic and Rachael Pollack focusing so much on her made me drop the series back in the day. I hate her character on the show just as much.
I agree that it might have been better to stretch it out a bit, but I didn’t mind the compact-ness of it, simply because things can get diluted if they stretch it out and who knows if Marvel could have controlled themselves to keep it tight. But I get your point.
I didn’t mind Dorothy (although I dropped Pollack’s run super-quick, so I didn’t get to see how much she focused on her), but I don’t love her too much on the show. She’s fine, but like a lot of the show, just a bit off. It’s frustrating.
In Britain, Frances De La Tour is best known for a sitcom Rising Damp (1974-1978, + film in 1980)
though she keeps busy and has been in many other things such as the History Boys, the Lady in the Van, Alice in Wonderland (Burton), Doolittle, to the devil a daughter, the book of Eli, Outlander (TV series), Wombling Free, etc
I guess my country must be heathen as we had Monday off last week instead (the last Monday in August) and have to wait for Christmas for the next day off
Yeah, I know she’s been in a lot, but we colonists only consume Harry Potter stuff!!!! 🙂
You just go on enjoying that health care on Monday while we sit around and do nothing! 🙂
I enjoyed Kung Fu more than you did. I agree borrowing the name from the Carradine series (which I’m a big fan of) seems pointless, but they got a second season so cool.
I love Doom Patrol, particularly Jane (hot-tempered, foul-mouthed brunette — it’s like seeing my wife on TV). I don’t care for Dorothy as the narrative spine for S2, but overall I can’t wait for S3 (we got HBO Max when we upgraded our iPhones). I’m glad the Chief is decent as the Big Reveal at the end of Morrison’s run never worked for me (even though they have a version of it here).
Fraser: I know you didn’t like the Chief reveal in Morrison’s DP, and that’s fine, but I don’t like how they’re trying to split the baby with the plot point in the television show. What he did was horrible, and while the team still hasn’t really forgiven him, they’re still trying to make Dalton sympathetic, and it just feels jarring. Especially because they haven’t really explained what he did to Jane, exactly. He didn’t give her 64 personalities, and if he did give her superpowers, they haven’t said how. So that’s what bugs me about it – they like the reveal, but either they or Dalton didn’t want to be a full-on bad guy, so it’s a bit dichotomous.
A fair point. I’m guessing it’s making Jane the subject of his immortality treatments, but obviously that’s not at the same level as what he did with the others.
As I sort of alluded to in my post about about recently-watched shows almost a year ago, I loved the first season of Doom Patrol, as it told what seemed to be a coherent story and kept you interested, while I was largely dissatisfied with the second season. Each individual episode is engrossing, but I started seeing so many major aspects of the plot that just don’t make much sense when you start thinking about them.
I’m on board for season 3, though, just because I hope some of the things that are troubling me will get addressed (although I’m afraid they probably won’t be).
I also want to pass along my best to Mr & Mrs Hatcher.
I watched the first season of Doom Patrol and thought it was alright, at best. I never did watch the 2nd. While I wasn’t/am not as big a fan of G’mozz’s run as you were/are, I did enjoy it, and thought it was a fun interpretation, if not faithful. I had assumed Cyborgs inclusion was part of the overall DC push to make him one of the big seven.
My conservative friend an I were discussing the Texas ruling and I pointed out the irony that a large talking point of those who vote Republican is that they want government to butt out of their lives, but then they make decisions like this.
Sorry about the loss of your dog. The thought that has always helped me when I have lost a furry friend is, “did I give them a good life”? It doesn’t erase the pain, but it does give perspective.
Apologies for droning on, but one last question. Has the introduction of the donation button helped defer cost? I don’t have any idea how much it costs to keep this site running, and you all writing, but I’m glad to do my part. Like Der wrote, my interests don’t always overlap with the writers here, but I have found myself reading articles about topics that I normally wouldn’t, and I’m glad to help support that.
Speaking of which, does no one writing here play video games?
Not at all ironic. When they say they want government out of their lives, they’re being precise — THEIR lives. Not ours. As someone put it, their philosophy is that the law should protect them but never bind them; it should bind everyone else, but not protect them. Similarly, see the 1/6 terrorists who were shocked, shocked that they are actually facing consequences for their actions — it’s like they were BLM or something!
Conservatives don’t have any interest in keeping government out of everyone’s lives. They’re interested in controlling any and all non-white non-straight non-males, and that’s about it. it’s frustrating.
I told my wife that when she was second-guessing herself about euthanizing our dog (she made the appointment for Thursday on a Tuesday, so she had 48 hours to second-guess). He had a very good life, and certainly a much better one than the one he was living in the desert! The vet also told her she’s never had anyone say they did it too early, but a lot of people have said they waited too long and the dog was suffering. So we know we did the right thing, as sad as it was.
I don’t pay attention to the donation button – Jim M. does, because he’s the blog guru, and he’s mentioned a few times that we’ve gotten a nice donation, so I assume it’s helping. I know it doesn’t take a ton of money for upkeep, but it does help!
That’s a good question about video games. I have never played video games, even when I was a lad (I’m not entirely sure why, as I came of age in the 1980s and seem to be the perfect demographic for it), but I don’t know if anyone else does. The only person I know who does has no time to write for us, but I should ask her if she’d like to. Sorry I can’t help!
I don’t write for the blog but my life is actually pretty centered on video games. As well as just playing them to play them I am on the board of directors of an Indie Video Game developers collective in Austin (and yes this has been an absolute garbage time to be living in Texas) that has a monthly event (currently on hold for obvious reasons) and holds a yearly game developers conference named Fantastic Arcade.
I’m sorry about your dog. Every dog owner knows it’s inevitable, but knowing never helps.
I have similar reactions to my niece (25, has a boyfriend, able to drink legally) as you do to your eldest. Hell, every time I see photos of my high school friends, I’m slightly surprised they aren’t the same age as when I last saw them.
I still feel some sympathy for the people who get sick, but not a lot. Absolutely none for the talk-radio hosts and politicians who promote this bullshit or for the people who actually threaten and interfere with vaccination drives (so much for it being a personal choice).
I’m completely not a videogame person. I’m impressed by the art and skill that goes into some of them (my former roommate was a big gamer) but despite playing Mario and Qbert in the early years, they’re pitched at a frequency I don’t pick up.
Man, I started to read this column sometime Saturday, got interrupted by weekend stuff, and only got back to it today after taking care of some work stuff.
First, I have to say, sorry about your dog. Over the past year and a half, we had to euthanize two of our cats. They were both getting on in age (last year it was a tom that was just short of turning 15, and earlier this year a cat just short of her 17th birthday), but it was untreatable illness rather than old age as such that necessitated the move. And to Fraser’s point, our dog just turned 14 and is showing signs of deep old age, so we’re always aware now of her inevitable end. So yeah, it’s tough, and I can sympathize – give your wife and daughter a friendly pat on the shoulder from me.
As to your point about Greg and Julie being worth a billion (at least!) Joe Rogans, and certain other, similar ghouls for that matter – so emphatically and forcefully seconded. I’ve actually been thinking along those same lines a lot whenever I see Julie’s updates on fb. Kind of makes me angry.
Man, this comment turned out a lot heavier than I wanted it to be, but such are the times, I guess…
The times suck right now, so yeah, things get heavy quickly. Sigh …
Oh, yeah, things got so heavy I almost forgot: My Name is Red. I read that well over a decade ago and quite enjoyed it. The only other of Pamuk’s novels that I’ve read is The White Castle. I found that one a chore to read despite its intriguing set-up and deep exploration of many themes (most notably the master-slave relationship).
My Name is Red also has one of the great opening lines of any novel: “I am a corpse. I am at the bottom of a well.” (Or something like that; like I said, it’s been a while.)