Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

What I bought, read, watched, or otherwise consumed – February 2022

“I’ve learned that there is only one strategy for realizing the American Dream: You make it by leaving others behind.” (Robert Kaplan, from An Empire Wilderness)


Echolands #1-6 by J.H. Williams III (writer/artist), W. Haden Blackman (writer), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $29.94, 166 pgs, Image.

There’s nothing fundamentally original about the story of Echolands – there’s a thief with a strange power who steals something from the ruler, a wizard with some dark secrets, and gets in serious trouble because of it, leading to deaths and chaos – but it’s not a bad story, either, as Williams and Blackman do a nice job creating a future (or alternate-reality?) San Francisco where strange things happen and giant robots live on an island and a Roman god lives on another island and vampires rule a kingdom and things are generally weird. Our hero, Hope (yep), is a plucky orphan who just wants to have fun by sticking her finger in the eye of authority, but she steals the wrong thing and brings the weight of the tyrant wizard down on her, and she and her compatriots have to go on the run, and the entire arc is about where they go as they escape and the wizard’s efforts to catch up to them. So it’s nothing special, but Williams and Blackman make sure to keep up the breakneck pace so it’s never boring, and they make sure that they add some humor to keep it from getting too dark, and they make sure their world is so odd that it’s fun to spend time there. Obviously, the big draw of the book is Williams’s art, and it’s unbelievably spectacular. The landscape format is inspired, as it allows him to have his characters wander across the page, “walking and talking” as they say in the TV biz, and the fighting (there’s a lot of fighting) flows nicely as well. The world is incredibly detailed, from the crazy markets of San Francisco to the sterile robot island, and Williams’s designs for the characters are amazing as well, especially the wizard’s daughter, who’s leading the hunt for Hope and is bizarre and creepy and tragic all at once. Williams packs the issues with people, some of whom are homages to other comics (I didn’t even try to figure them out, but some leap out at you), and he does that thing he does so well where he not only creates characters that look vaguely like other characters, but he draws them in their “style” as well. So one of Hope’s crew is drawn like a more cartoonish, European-style character, while one is drawn like a Bernie Wrightson horror character – the former with harder, thicker lines, the latter with mostly brushstrokes. It’s just fascinating watching these different styles interact, as Williams is in full command of the way the book looks, so it never feels arbitrary. I can’t even begin to write about the art, so I’ll just say it’s almost unbelievable how good it is. The one thing I worry about with regard to this book is that it will never finish, because I can’t even conceive of how long it will take, as I can’t conceive of how long it takes to do one issue, much less one arc or several arcs. But Williams and Haden seem to be in it for the long haul, so let’s hope they can get through it!

I wanted to get the single issues of this because I wanted to support more Williams art in our lives, but dang, a larger-sized hardcover of this comic would be sweet. I know a hardcover is coming out, but I don’t know if it’s the regular-sized format. We shall see.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, that’s a pickle

Moon Knight volume 1: The Midnight Mission by Jed MacKay (writer), Alessandro Cappuccio (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer), and Jennifer Grünwald (collection editor). $17.99, 130 pgs, Marvel.

The guys at the comic book store got annoyed with me because I thought the naming of this volume was a bit too deliberately skeevy, but that’s just because I think people are as obnoxious as I am. I mean, “midnight mission”? All that’s missing is an “e,” and you have … something skeevy. But that’s just me.

Anyway, as you all know by now, I stan pretty hard for Moon Knight, so I’m always a bit inclined to dig comics in which he appears, but MacKay is off to a nice start. He makes our hero into a dude who operates a “clinic” in a neighborhood so he can be closer to those he protects. People can come to him with their problems, and you know what happens when someone has a problem – yo, he’ll solve it while you check out the disc his DJ is revolving. He’s also in therapy, which is not a bad way for MacKay to examine his mental issues, and it keeps him tethered to the greater Marvel Universe, as the therapist is somehow affiliated with the Avengers, so there’s that. There’s a dude who also serves Khonshu, which I don’t love (Marvel seems to love taking their heroes and making them part of a group stretching back through history, which seems a bit lazy, but what the hell do I know?) but which also allows MacKay to examine Moon Knight’s “religion” and what it means to him and to others. While there’s nothing too revolutionary about the plot – bad guy wants to wreck MK’s life – MacKay does some interesting things with it, including rarely showing Marc Spector’s face (for a good reason) and having him solve some problems by tapping into his connection to his god. Tigra shows up for a bit, too, which is always fun. MacKay does a nice job grounding MK in his past – he mentions a lot of events and people from his past – while moving him forward. Moon Knight always seems to bring out the best in writers (I still contend that there are more good Moon Knight stories as a percentage of all Moon Knight stories than any comic book character in history), and MacKay is off to a good start. Cappuccio does really nice work on the art, using a lot more blacks in Moon Knight’s costume than most artists do, which makes him a bit more terrifying when he’s “working” and also contrasts nicely with his fancy suit that he wears when he’s at the “mission” and not kicking butt (Declan Shalvey was the first artist to put Moon Knight in that suit, I think, and it’s such an excellent contribution to the whole MK ethos). The other “priest” of Khonshu has a similar outfit, which makes sense, and the big bad has the same well-dressed vibe that Moon Knight has, which is also a nifty idea. It’s not perfect art – occasionally it’s the tiniest bit too slick – but it’s pretty good, and it sets a nice mood.

Going into the television series, Marvel obviously wanted a new Moon Knight book out there, and MacKay is a bit flavor-of-the-month, so he got the call. I’ve only read a few things by him, but he seems pretty good. This is another interesting take on the character, and I’m curious to see where MacKay goes with it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Vegan Vampires! Film at Eleven!

Black’s Myth by Eric Palicki (writer), Wendell Cavalcanti (artist), Rob Steen (letterer), and Cory Sedlmeier (collection editor). $16.99, 102 pgs, Ahoy Comics.

I like stories about rough-and-tough private investigators, and Palicki gives us “Strummer” (a nickname, from, yes, The Clash), a werewolf P.I. whose partner is a djinn. Yep, it’s a genre mashup! Strummer, who admits that she’s not that great a P.I., but she’s a pretty good werewolf, so she can smell things very well and that leads her to answers on her cases (which is a clever way to show that she’s good at her job), is hired to find two bullets that are part of a rich dude’s collection. According to him, the bullets are forged from the silver used to pay Judas, so they’re pretty important. The rich dude is a collector of odd phenomena, and in a world where werewolves, djinns, vampires, the Minotaur, and other creatures are real, it’s a pretty keen thing to own. Of course, the case is more complicated than that, but that’s a good hook. Palicki does a nice job creating interesting characters and letting them interact with each other in a gritty, noir-ish Los Angeles, and the fact that there are monsters about just adds a nice feeling of weirdness to a solid P.I. story. Cavalcanti isn’t a spectacular artist, but he keeps his line rough and keeps everything “realistic” (even the giant lantern fish thing), which makes the weirdness fit the vibe Palicki is going for nicely. The first time we see Strummer as “full werewolf” is superb, though, so it’s clear Cavalcanti can get a bit more “mythic” when it’s called for. Palicki writes in the back that they kept it black and white to give it a nice noir feel, but he does show some of Dee Cunniffe’s colored pages in the back, and I’m not sure if it’s better with colors or without. Tough call. Either way, it’s a nice-looking comic.

Palicki can do more stories with these characters, of course – P.I. stories are tailor-made for long runs – so we’ll see if we get more. It’s a neat comic, even if I still don’t get the title beyond the obvious pun. Oh well.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Sounds like a plan!

Ordinary Gods volume 1: God Spark by Kyle Higgins (writer), Joe Clark (writer), Felipe Watanabe (artist), Frank Williams (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), and Michael Busuttil (editor). $16.99, 138 pgs, Image.

There’s a fantasy world ruled by 13 beings that can reasonably called “gods,” all under a God of gods, I guess, and one of them decides to rebel against that God’s authority, roping four others into her scheme. They figured out a way to imprison the gods they were fighting against (because you can’t kill them, as they just come back to life, because they’re gods, y’see), and the prison happens to be a li’l ol’ planet called Earth. Before they can use it, a spy zaps them to Earth, trapping them here. Soldiers of the God of gods are sent to Earth to monitor the gods, and when the “prisoners” begin to realize who they are (getting imprisoned wiped their memories), the monitors kill them, resetting them to factory standard, I guess. Our hero, Christopher, begins to remember that not only is he a god, he’s the main rebel god, so his sister tries to kill him because she’s his monitor. She fails, and the rebellion is on! Christopher spends this volume finding out who he is, what other gods have awoken, what the ones who have woken are planning, and how to avoid, you know, getting killed. It’s a pretty good adventure, with a nice blend of fantasy and realism that always seems to work well. Higgins is on a bit of a roll right now, as Radiant Black is doing quite well for him, but I like this a bit more than that. Maybe it’s Watanabe’s art, which is very “superheroic” for a book that needs that kind of vibe. His work has a bit of a Mahmud Asrar style, which is not a bad thing at all. This is just an interesting story told and drawn well, and that’s all we can hope for, right?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Middle management is always so grumpy

Sea of Sorrows by Rich Douek (writer), Alex Cormack (artist), Mark Mullaney (color assistant), Justin Birch (letterer), Alonzo Simon (collection editor), and Zac Boone (collection editor).

There’s nothing incredibly unique about Sea of Sorrows – there’s a ship searching for treasure in the North Atlantic in the 1920s, which is pertinent because the dude who knows where the treasure is was on a German U-boat during World War I, there are monsters in the deep, there’s a traitor on board, things go pear-shaped very quickly. That’s fine, though – plots are a dime a dozen, and Douek has a good knack for making them a bit more interesting, as he makes the characters just a bit odd even before the monsters show up, which adds to the uneasy feeling throughout. Simply making it a bit more about the Great War and its effect on people is a nice addition, so that it’s clear the whole “WE are the real monsters!” vibe that a lot of monster stories have isn’t too overt, and the real monsters are still pretty horrific. He also taps into a sex thing (that phrase didn’t start out intentional, but it ended that way) with the lone woman on board being … a bit unusual (I’ll leave it at that so as not to spoil anything). So while it’s not the most original story and the beats are familiar, there’s a nice edge to it that elevates it a bit. It’s certainly helped by Cormack’s terrific art, with its jagged edges and his way of drawing characters on the precipice of madness even at the best of times, and his monsters are really excellent. The book is a bit too dark occasionally, but other than that, it’s very cool-looking. Cormack has become one of the better horror artists in comics simply because he can draw askew things quite well. Sea of Sorrows is the team’s second collaboration, and it would be nice if they did more together!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Not a good time

Babyteeth concludes fairly well, as Cates wonders what the world would actually look like after the Rapture/Apocalypse for the people left behind, and spins it from there. This was never the greatest series, but it’s still pretty good. Children of the Woods is about a nerdy kid who sells his soul for power and the girl who tries to figure out what happened to him, and despite nice art by Josh Hixson, it’s a bit too all over the place to be really effective, but it’s not terrible horror. In The Dark Age, all metal and plastic magically disintegrates one day and the world has to adjust, and there’s an odd twist that explains what happened. It’s a decent comic. Tim Seeley and Corin Howell have a coda to Dark Red, their redneck vampire story, in which our hero Chip goes to hell to rescue the soul of an old friend. Eve is an apocalypse story, as a girl raised in virtual reality is awoken with a mission to save the world, but of course it’s not that simple. It’s pretty good. Frank Cho wanted to do a Wonder Woman story but I assume DC wouldn’t let him, so we get Fight Girls, in which ten women compete on various planets to so who can become the new ruler of a galactic empire. It’s actually quite good, with a decent if somewhat obvious twist, and Cho’s art is, naturally, excellent. Geoff Johns expands his “Unnamed” Universe with the Geiger 80-page Giant, in which we get various stories from quite good creators about the Las Vegas of his world. Ice Cream Man continues to chug along nicely, as W. Maxwell Prince continues to slowly link all the stories together. I’m still not sure if he’s ever going to completely link them all, but it’s fun to read them as we go! I’m annoyed by Marjorie Finnegan, Temporal Criminal, as AWA released a four-issue trade last year and then didn’t bother to release the second half of the book, deciding simply to release the entire eight-issue series in one trade, which seems like the logical thing to do anyway. It’s a pretty fun comic, if you like Garth Ennis being obnoxious. If you don’t, this won’t change your mind. Mars Attacks Red Sonja is a fun comic in which the Martians invade during Red Sonja’s time, and things get weird. It’s John Layman, so of course they do! I liked this quite a bit, because it doesn’t really go where you think it’s going, which is always nice to see. Mark Russell lays on the satire a bit thickly in Not All Robots, which is “about” toxic masculinity even though it’s ostensibly about robots who don’t want to be replaced by newer, more human-looking robots. It’s a fun comic, although it is a tad unsubtle. I really wanted to love Orphan and the Five Beasts, because it’s James Stokoe doing his thing, and the art is spectacular and the story is actually quite good, but it just … ends. It’s nowhere near done, but I don’t know if there are any plans for more. Let’s hope so, because if there aren’t, it’s pretty disappointing. (And why Stokoe can’t do any more Orc Stain eludes me, as he’s perfectly comfortable doing creator-owned work.) In Red X-Mas, Santa goes on a rampage after a tragedy befalls him, and an FBI agent who doesn’t believe in Christmas has to stop him and rescue her son, who gets caught up in the violence. It’s actually a black comedy, and it’s not bad. Jeff Lemire and Jock have Snow Angels, which takes place in an ice-covered world, where a man and his two daughters try to escape some malevolent force that wants to kill them. It looks great, natch, and the story isn’t bad. Binge Books continues its reclamation project of 1980s-style comics with Startup, which is … a bit odd. A large woman takes a pill that makes her thin and really fast, so she becomes a superhero. As you might expect, the weight issues in the book are not handled all that well. It’s not too offensive, but it is a bit strange. Still, it’s another fun superhero book in the line, so we’ll see what happens in later installments with the character. In the second volume of Stillwater, things get ramped up a bit, as Zdarsky brings in a new group – the kids living in the town, who never age, and what that might do to their worldview. It’s still a pretty good comic. DC’s latest anthology is Strange Love Adventures, which is a “hot” book, I guess, because it’s the first comics appearance of Peacemaker’s eagle. That, honestly, is a terrible story, but the rest of the collection is pretty decent, highlighted by a terrific Riddler story (drawn by Phil Hester, whose art is always good to see) that shows once again that turning the Riddler into a “Joker-lite” character is a stupid, stupid idea. Finally, the second volume of S.W.O.R.D. is mediocre, with dull art and too much junk stuffed into it so we get parts of stories that end abruptly and an overall plot that is just dull because a lot of it takes place on Mars, and nobody cares about the Martian mutants. God, this Krakoa thing can’t end soon enough.


Prince of Darkness by Sharon Kay Penman. 322 pgs, 2005, Penguin Group.

Penman returns to her medieval mysteries in this fourth installment, and this time, Justin de Quincy’s mission is in France, where he’s pressed into service of Prince John, who is trying to stop a letter from being published. The letter is a forgery, written to implicate John in a conspiracy to depose his brother Richard and seize the English crown, something John very much would like to do but which he would prefer to do much more quietly than the letter implies. Richard is about to arrive in England, free from the German emperor, and reading this letter would not incline him favorably toward John. Justin doesn’t care much about that, but John manages to get him on his side, and he and John’s right-hand man – and spy for Queen Eleanor – head out from Paris to the wilds of Brittany, where they’re confronted with a corpse (of course) and a ton of intrigue. Justin does not like the spy, even though they’re on the same side, but they manage to form a good alliance. As usual with these books, there’s a lot of mystery, but in this one, Justin learns a great deal more about politics than he would like, being the honorable dude that he is. It’s an exciting book, and Penman does a nice job blending history and fiction. The unfamiliarity of the Breton countryside gives her a chance to flex her writing skills, as she does a nice job creating the scenes, making the places Justin visits – including Mont St. Michel – weird and eerie, as he’s a bit lost and, given the time period, much of the country is undeveloped. There’s also a bit more of the politics of the church and the way the class structure works in this book, too – not in a pedantic way, but as part of the flow of the narrative. Penman does this very well, but in the previous three books, she focused a bit more on the personal life of Justin. In this book, she expands that bit.

Penman didn’t write another Justin de Quincy book, as her publisher explained to her that her big historical novels sold better, so she went back to them. She published her last novel two years ago and was planning to return to Justin, but she died about a year ago and never got the chance. Oh well. These are fun books, easier to zip through than her big historical novels (which are very readable, as well, just longer), so if you’re looking to dip into Penman’s work, these are good books to start with!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

Arrogant Armies: Great Military Disasters and the Generals Behind Them by James M. Perry. 314 pgs, 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

I love reading about military disasters – one of my early favorite books was Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly (which, no, wasn’t specifically about military disasters, but has a lot of military stuff in it), so I figured I would like this book, and I did. It’s not perfect, certainly, as Perry rarely tries too hard to examine the consequences of the military disasters outlined in the book, and he ends it rather suddenly without trying to draw any conclusions about such endeavors, and his focus tends to be on colonizing armies underestimating their opponents, which is always a recipe for disaster but often doesn’t have many consequence – General Braddock’s blundering during the French and Indian War didn’t stop the Americans from wiping out the Natives, for instance. But these are interesting stories about wars and battles we often don’t hear about, even if Perry does give us a chapter on “Chinese” Gordon stubbornly dying in Khartoum, one of the more famous military disasters in recent history. Other than that, he checks out Braddock fighting in western Pennsylvania; Generals Harmer and St. Clair fighting in the same area, but now under the United States government rather than the British; the British and French trying fruitlessly to suppress the Haitian revolution; General MacCarthy thinking the Ashanti would not pose much of a threat and learning quite the opposite; General Elphinstone foolishly trying to retreat from Afghanistan and losing his entire army in the process; General Colley basically allowing the Boers to set up two independent states due to his incompetence; the Italians getting annihilated by the Ethiopians at Adowa; General Shafter almost losing the Spanish-American War and getting saved solely by Spain’s greater incompetence; General Townshend making the same mistake the British did at Gallipoli by thinking the Turks were lousy fighters and wrecking his army in Mesopotamia; and the Spanish overextending themselves in Morocco and getting wiped out. It’s certainly satisfying to read about the underdogs inflicting such massive defeats on white Europeans, but when you consider, for instance, that the British and French practically destroyed Haiti trying to re-establish slavery and the country still hasn’t recovered, two centuries later, it becomes a bit more depressing. Still, it’s an interesting book, as Perry does a good job going over the campaigns very carefully and showing how the leaders made dumb decisions – usually decisions that were not forced on them in any way – and died poorly. He ends it with a brief sketch of the “Black Hawk Down” scenario in Mogadishu, just in case anyone thinks the modern American army is immune to stupidity. Now that the world is going off to war again (how exciting!), maybe American leadership can try not to blunder. I’m not holding my breath.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


Hawkeye season 1 (Disney+). This six-episode season is a bit of a mess, as the show tried to cram a LOT into it and didn’t always succeed. There’s a really dumb MacGuffin that leads into appearances by the Tracksuit Mafia, Echo, the Swordsman, and eventually, the Kingpin. Yelena Belova shows up, too, because why not? D’Onofrio is wasted a bit, as he’s not that impressive (he acts fine, but his character just isn’t all that impressive), but I guess if Marvel is going to integrate their Netflix shows into the MCU, this isn’t a bad place to do it. It’s just a mess, and the throughline is that Clint wants to get home to his family for Christmas … but there’s almost no reason why he can’t except that he claims he has to take care of the shit he’s in really quickly. But he really doesn’t – the murder in the show has nothing to do with him, and the MacGuffin doesn’t have any importance to anyone except its owner, and while, yes, it might cause issues for said owner, it’s not a time-sensitive issue, is my point. He’s trying to clean up what “Ronin” wrought, but again, he could easily do that in January, after he’s spent some time with his family. Nothing seems all that imperative, in other words, yet they keep pretending it is to tug at our heartstrings whenever Clint calls his wife and the sad piano tinkles in the background because he’s missing family junk (Linda Cardellini, unsurprisingly, manages to absolutely kill it even though all she does is talk on the phone). The show works almost solely because of the chemistry between Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld and then between Steinfeld and Florence Pugh. The three of them are so, so good that it forgives a lot of the messiness of the plot. As good as Renner is, Steinfeld and Pugh could star in a buddy comedy right now – as Kate and Yelena, mind you – and it would be the greatest Marvel thing ever. It’s certainly not a bad show, but the plot churn does get tedious, D’Onofrio and Vera Farmiga and Zahn McClarnon are kind of wasted, and it just feels like the writers didn’t quite know how to get their three main actors into this so they bolted the plot together rather clunkily. The Avengers musical is ridiculously dumb and awesome, though.

Pennyworth seasons 1 and 2 (HBO). Much like Gotham, which Bruno Heller also produced, Pennyworth simply stands on the gas early on and never lets up, logic be damned. It’s also a mess, and it also gets by on the strength of some of the actors, although nobody in this is as strong as the trio in Hawkeye. Alfred, played rather stoically by Jack Bannon, is a former SAS officer who has years and years of experience yet is somehow only 26 years old, and he returns to London in the early 1960s to form a security company. He quickly becomes involved in the politics of the day, assisting Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge), who’s … a CIA agent. Yep. Martha Kane (Emma Paetz), Batman’s mom, is a political activist working with the socialists in England, who are busy clashing with the fascists, led by Jason Flemyng, who is always a delight to see. In the first season, there’s all sorts of intrigue between the two groups, and Aleister Crowley shows up (Crowley, needless to say, was long dead by the time of the show and would have been in his 80s were he alive – not in his 40s as the actor who plays him is, but the world is not really ours, so it’s all right?), and things are happening. Then, in season 2, we jump ahead a year, and the show gets really wacky, as London is under siege by the fascists, who have taken over the rest of the country, and a new underling of Flemyng is becomingly increasingly Hitler-like. It’s very weird, because it makes no sense whatsoever. The U.S. is on the side of the fascists, at least tacitly (they’re staying out of it but wouldn’t mind if the fascists won), and a lot of the British people support them, despite the fact that World War II occurred in this world. The fascists don’t even seem to have much of an agenda beyond “We don’t like foreigners” – they have a lot of women and people of color in the higher ranks, so they’re not against that. Despite being under siege, the city appears to be a sieve – Alfred moves easily out into the countryside when he has to, and while he’s an SAS soldier and you might think he can sneak around, a lot of people seem to do it easily. There’s a lot that’s wrong with it, in other words, but Heller always makes his shows look great, so this looks great, and Bannon’s chemistry with his two buddies is nice, and Paloma Faith is having a blast chewing the scenery as a sociopath who works for the fascists but has her own agenda. It’s a very weird show, and you have to squint a whole hell of a lot to see how on Earth Bruce Wayne will come out of this with a doctor for a father and Alfred as a butler, but it’s not bad. I mean, it’s entertaining, and that’s not too bad!

Vienna Blood season 2 (PBS). In early 20th century Vienna, we get yet another mismatched cop show, but I love mismatched cop shows, so I don’t mind. Matthew Beard plays a young psychiatrist struggling to establish himself in a world where psychiatry is still looked upon with skepticism (more than one person scornfully refers to Freud in this show), while Jürgen Maurer plays a cop who knows that the doctor can offer interesting insight into cases. We get a Hungarian countess who appears to have committed suicide, but Dr. Liebermann, who was treating her, isn’t so sure; we get a corpse in a tenement that leads our heroes to a case involving high-level politics and Austria’s imminent annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina (one of the dumber political moves of the past two centuries, most historians agree); we get a death in a monastery that is stymied by the abbot thinking he doesn’t have to answer to no stupid cops or doctors, man! The cases are twisty and interesting, and the setting helps, as well, as it’s filmed in Vienna so it looks great, but we also get the weird strictures of society at the time and its obsession with appearances. Austria was extreme in this regard, but not unique, and the creators and actors do a nice job with it. It’s not a great series, but it’s pretty fun.


Let’s take a look at my “classic” reprints from this month!

Marvel has the Zdarsky/Quinones Howard the Duck Omnibus, which isn’t that old, I admit, but that’s why I put quotation marks around the “classic”! I bought the first trade and liked it, but fell behind and didn’t catch up. Now I have the entire thing! We also get the Bendis/Maleev Moon Knight, which isn’t that old, I admit, but that’s why I put quotation marks around the “classic”! I don’t know why I didn’t get this back in the day – I read the first issue, and while it’s a bit odd, it wasn’t terrible. I suspect that as I knew it was going to be only 12 issues, I was waiting for a complete collection, and Marvel took this damned long to do it. Unless they already did and I missed it. Beats me. Finally, Marvel put out an extra-big “Gallery Edition” of Jim Starlin’s Warlock saga, and damn it looks even cooler in the bigger size.

Rebellion has Karl the Viking by Don Lawrence, a newspaper strip from the early 1960s. It looks really cool.

DC is pushing Milestone again, and its Milestone Compendium One is out, and it looks superb. It’s a big slab, and the binding seems really strong, although the art does fall into the spine a bit, which is expected in a book this big. I don’t know why I didn’t buy the Milestone books when they came out, but they had a lot of cool talent on them. I’m looking forward to reading this in the future sometime!

Moving on, it’s time for how much I spent in February!

2 February: $219.79
9 February: $169.14
16 February: $196.86
23 February: $179.56

Monthly total: $765.35 (last February: $679.20)
YTD: $1531.21 (last year: $1076.55)

Let’s take a look at the publishers!

AfterShock: 3 (2 single issues, 1 trade paperback)
Ahoy Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Amulet Books/Abrams: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Archaia: 1 (1 single issue)
AWA Studios: 3 (3 trade paperbacks)
Black Panel Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Boom! Studios: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Dark Horse: 8 (3 graphic novels, 3 single issues, 2 trade paperbacks)
DC: 2 (1 “classic” reprint, 1 single issue)
Drawn & Quarterly: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Dynamite: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Fantagraphics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Floating World Comics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Humanoids: 1 (1 graphic novel)
IDW: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Image: 8 (1 graphic novel, 4 single issues, 3 trade paperbacks)
Little, Brown and Company: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Marvel: 6 (3 “classic” reprints, 1 single issue, 2 trade paperbacks)
NoBrow Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Rebellion/2000AD: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Red 5 Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Scout Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Second Sight Publishing: 1 (1 single issue)
SitComics: 1 (1 single issue)
Top Shelf: 1 (1 graphic novel)

5 “classic” reprints (10)
13 graphic novels (22)
14 single issues (21)
17 trade paperbacks (40)

So far this year, we have:

Ablaze: 2
AfterShock: 6
Ahoy Comics: 1
Amulet Books/Abrams: 1
Antarctic Press: 1
Archaia: 1
AWA Studios: 3
Black Panel Press: 1
Boom! Studios: 4
Centrala: 1
Dark Horse: 10
DC: 3
Drawn & Quarterly: 2
Dynamite: 1
Fantagraphics: 2
Floating World Comics: 1
Graphic Mundi: 2
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 1
Humanoids: 2
IDW: 3
Image: 15
Invader Comics: 1
Little, Brown and Company: 1
Marvel: 15
NoBrow Press: 1
Papercutz: 1
PS Artbooks: 1
Rebellion/2000AD: 1
Red 5 Comics: 1
Scout Comics: 2
Second Sight Publishing: 1
SitComics: 1
Titan Comics: 1
Top Shelf: 1
Udon Entertainment: 1
Viz Media: 1


I hope everyone is doing well, as usual. I hope our European readers aren’t feeling too anxious, what with the craziness unfolding in Ukraine. As I’ve often noted, sometimes the world just sucks. It’s heartening that so many countries are uniting against Russia – wouldn’t it be nice if Republicans toned down their pro-fascism rhetoric a bit during this crisis? I know, I’m talking crazy!

I got a camera 30 years ago as a present from my parents, mainly because I was going to study abroad in Australia and I wanted to take pictures. I have nice photo albums of all my pictures from February 1992 through about 2004, and then I have about three years of photographs in those paper sleeves you used to get them in after they were developed that aren’t in albums. I thought, as it’s the 30th anniversary of me getting a camera, that I’d post some photos from the month I’m writing about, beginning with February 1992. Check them out!

On 25 February 1992 we went on a pub crawl in Carlton, the neighborhood directly to the east of the University of Melbourne, where I was studying. Some of the students managed to hit something like 25 pubs (and drink a pint at each), but I tapped out after about 10. I never drank a lot, and it was ungodly hot – it was the height of summer, after all – so a bunch of us hit a gelato shop and hung out, gradually sobering up. These are a couple of the places we went to. The Brandon is still there – it’s on the corner of Lee and Station streets, in case you’re in Melbourne any time soon!

This is Flinders Street Station, a fairly iconic railway station on the Yarra River. It’s a cool place.

On the 27th, we had a toga party at our college, which in Australia, like many British-y countries, is the place you live when you’re going to university – about halfway between a dormitory and a fraternity/sorority. You’ll notice that even back then, when I was 20 years old and in much better shape than I am today, I didn’t like going around without a shirt on, so I’m wearing my Shelter T-shirt underneath my toga. Everyone remembers Shelter, the Hare Krishna punk band? Of course you do! That’s my pal Ben, who could drink quite a bit, even for an Aussie. He’s doing okay these days, it seems, so I’m glad alcohol poisoning didn’t kill him!

I don’t have much else to write about at this moment. We’re doing okay – it’s Spring Break next week, and my mom flew in so she and the wife and daughter could go up to Prescott and Sedona for a few days, so I’m going to stay home with the other daughter and, probably, watch a lot of movies. It’s a living. As I noted, I hope everyone is doing well, and let’s all try to be nice to everyone out there, shall we?


  1. Eric van Schaik

    I got Babyteeth and Fight Girls. The ending of Babyteeth looked quiet similar to Preacher imo.
    Echolands looks interesting if it gets a oversized edition.

    I bought the Millar Ultimates omnibus for a nice price. Maybe not your cup of tea. 😉

    Star One released a new album : revel in time. This time songs about movies which play with the concept of time (Terminator, Groundhog Day, Back to the Future). You can check it on Spotify.

    Until now we don’t have many problems regarding the Ukraine crisis apart from the rising petrol prices.

    We had a meeting recently and we now know when our jobs end. August 31 will be my last day, after precisely 35 years… 🙁
    We’ll see what the future will bring after that. I small vacation and then looking for a new job. I’ll get a nice sum of money so I can take my time but I think I get bored every quickly.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Eric: I will probably get that Ultimates thing eventually. As you might recall, I loved the first volume, and then I went into my Millar boycott during the second volume, so I never finished it. I assume he gets no more money from it, so I’ll probably have to get it just to finish the second volume.

      I hope your job situation resolves. I know it’s never fun looking for one.

  2. Darthratzinger

    Forget about the comic book stuff for a second: You wore a Shelter shirt? Holy Hare Krishna, Batman. I´ve always loved their music (but I never wore a shirt by a Krishna band because of some of the unpleasantries of that scene). Considering how much You write about a band like Marillion this really blows my mind.
    About that crazyness in our neck of the woods slightly further east. You know a lot of the eastern european governments are pretty similar to the US-Republicans but somehow proximity to Russia kinda alleviates being a Putin fanboy these days. Except in Serbia, it seems. The only good thing about this whole mess is that our government finally realized that “pacifism” might not always be the best defense (and is slightly hypocritical for the third or fourth biggest weapons exporter in the world).
    I did get the two Moon Knight by Bendis and Maleev Hardcovers back in the day but sold em since because Moon Knight defeating Count Nefaria? Come on.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Well, I do like to think of myself as eclectic when it comes to music, so I never dismiss anything wholesale until I’ve heard some of it – even country music! 🙂

      I was never a huge fan of Shelter. I own Perfection of Desire and enjoy it, but I didn’t follow them after that, mainly because they weren’t a big band and it was much harder to do in pre-internet days. I’m pretty sure my best friend introduced me to them – I have some interesting friends, taste-wise – and as for the shirt, I just thought it was pretty danged cool-looking and I didn’t know much about Hare Krishna back then, so that didn’t come into the equation. The shirt frayed a lot over the years, but I still had it, and then I gave it to my daughter when I did a periodic purge of old clothes. She still has it, but she wears it to dye her hair, so it’s a bit speckled with hair coloring. I’m not sure if that makes it even more punk! 🙂

      I did like that Hungary denounced the invasion (unless they’ve changed tack by now). When the Hungarian leader (good ol’ Fascist Guy Orban, right?) thinks Putin has gone a bit far …

      Ugh, Count Nefaria. Well, we’ll see what I think of it! 🙂

      1. Darthratzinger

        Oh, sorry for the spoiler. Perfection Of Desire? That´s even two records before they became commercially successful. I´m impressed. Same here when it comes to music. The older I get the more different stuff I listen too…including some country.
        They way I remember Shelter artwork using one of their shirts for colouring hair is pretty perfect.

        1. Greg Burgas

          No worries about the spoiler. I’m of the opinion that you get about 24-48 hours, and then all bets are off. Spoilers don’t bother me too much, and the book is, what, a decade old? Not a big deal.

          I used to cruise around record shops just looking for interesting cassettes or CDs that I might not have heard of, but bought because the band name, the album name, or the album art looked interesting. Occasionally I got lucky. I don’t do it anymore, because who has the time or the disposable income?

          1. Eric van Schaik

            I saw a poster of Cocteau Twins playing in my City and bought a ticket just for the name. A week before the concert I listened to their music (you can listen to music before buying a record, is that the dame in the states), and I liked it so much I have all there albums. I think you won’t like it.

      2. conrad1970

        The Bendis run is hardly a fair reflection on Moon Knight though. I mean he has to be one of the worst writers over the last decade or so.
        MacKay’s run on the other hand has been solid so far and the recent issue of ‘Strange’ was excellent as well.

      3. Edo Bosnar

        On countries like Hungary denouncing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, well, their governments are caught between their fondness for the right-wing authoritarianism represented by Putin and their own 20th-century experiences of having Russian tanks roll in and/or having Russian troops enforcing ‘political course corrections.’ Cheering on Putin in this instance would be, I think, a bridge too far for most of their people.

        And yeah, these past 2 weeks have been devastating. A trickle of Ukrainian refugees (compared to the immense numbers in Poland, Slovakia, Moldova, etc.) have even made their way to Croatia. I keep hoping against hope that the combined economic and PR disasters that Putin is now dealing with will somehow prompt him to pull back, but I think that’s more wishful thinking than anything else. I’m afraid we’re looking at several years of death and destruction, as was the case in Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s. And yes, the fact that nuclear weapons are in play now adds an extra layer of horror to this situation.

  3. Bright-Raven

    Just EVE and OPRHAN & THE FIVE BEASTS for me, of the things you listed. Only watched PENNYWORTH Season 1 on DVD a while back, wasn’t that impressed with it. It didn’t suck, mind you, but it just didn’t click with me, I guess.

    Not sure what all I spent so far in 2022. I guess I should figure that out while I’m doing my taxes.

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