Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

What I bought, read, watched, or otherwise consumed – February 2023

“I am tired of trying to hold things together that cannot be held,” Celia says when he approaches her. “Trying to control what cannot be controlled. I am tired of denying myself what I want for fear of breaking things I cannot fix. They will break no matter what we do.” (Erin Morgenstern, from The Night Circus)


Love Everlasting volume 1 by Tom King (writer), Elsa Charretier (artist), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), and Marla Eizik (editor). $16.99, 121 pgs, Image.

As usual, if you get Tom King as far away from Batman as you can, he’s a good writer, and his conceit – a woman becomes aware that she’s stuck inside 1950s-style romance comics and doesn’t think that she wants to be – is a good one, and King keeps it fresh, which seems harder to do than you might think. In the first issue, Joan falls in love with her boss, who was dating her roommate (but gets dumped by her), and it’s all very bog-standard for a romance story in these kinds of comics. Once she gets the guy, however, we shift to a different story, where she’s a boring suburban young woman who falls in love with a hippie. As she begins to move through that story, she is overcome with memories of the guy from the first story, and it freaks her out. By the third story, in which she’s in a Western setting and two men are fighting over her, she’s had enough, and she rides out into the desert, where she’s tracked down by a masked cowboy who … shoots her in the head. She wakes up in yet another story, but she still knows that something ain’t right. It’s a fun beginning.

King doesn’t reveal what’s going on in the series yet, but that’s cool. Joan tries to lure the cowboy into a trap, but that doesn’t work. She tries to trick the cowboy, and that doesn’t work. She tries to avoid falling in love, and that doesn’t work. Finally, she gets a small peek behind the curtain, and learns that her “mother” is sending the cowboy, but she doesn’t learn much more about it. At the very end of the volume, she finds out that there’s something quite sinister going on, but that’s for another volume! King does a really good job playing with the tropes of the genre – Joan as the servant on an estate who falls in love with the scion of the rich family, Joan as the teen who wants to see the world but is drawn to the boy who wants her to stay in their home town, Joan as a World War I chanteuse who resists falling in love with the soldier who keeps losing his friends – and he adds nice touches to it to show how Joan is responding realistically to such stereotypical situations. Even though there’s a hint of some Shadowy Organization behind it all, I’m not ready yet to roll my eyes at that because he hasn’t really gotten into why they would be doing something like this. I get annoyed by Shadowy Organizations as much as you do, but I’m willing to see where he’s going with it before I condemn it. While this first volume is a lot of set-up, just the fact that King is playing with the ideas of romance comics is enough to keep it intriguing and lively.

Charretier is terrific, as usual. Her work has gotten a bit more abstract recently, as she stops using such a thin, precise line and goes for thicker lines and chunkier shapes, dropping more holding lines as she goes. She has a definite Darwyn Cooke vibe to her more recent work, which isn’t a bad thing at all. In the style of the genre, there’s quite a few words, so she has to work around big balloons, and she does it very well. She also does a very good job with the fashion, as the book is set in many different time periods, but she nails every character’s clothing very well. Charretier is an excellent artist, and it’s good to see her working on something as interesting as this book.

This might all fall apart, of course – beginnings are easier than endings, after all – but it is off to a great start. We shall see what King has planned for subsequent volumes!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Joan doesn’t have time to listen to your whining!

The Swamp Thing volume 3: The Parliament of Gears by Ram V (writer), Mike Perkins (artist), Mike Spicer (colorist), Aditya Bidikar (letterer), and Ben Meares (editor). $16.99, 130 pgs, DC.

One thing that bugs me a bit about modern comics (well, a lot of things bug me about modern comics, but let’s not get into a rant or anything) is the lack of long-running series starring some of the weirder characters in the company’s stable. I miss something like Doom Patrol running for 80 issues or so, because it seems like modern audiences just don’t support something like that, which is too bad. Case in point: Swamp Thing, which DC has revived several times over the past 25 years but which will never get anywhere near the 170 issues or so that the title got in the 1980s and 1990s. I can’t even fathom that. A lot of that had to do with Alan Moore, naturally, but still – that’s a nice run. I bring this up because Ram V’s Swamp Thing work has been excellent, but it’s only 16 issues long. Would he have been able to do 40-50 issues if sales were better, or did he simply have a 16-issue run in him and that was that? This feels like something that could go much longer – true, he was able to wrap things up, and his run is a fairly satisfying story, but its brevity means that we don’t get “tangent” issues like “Rite of Spring” (not that I want another sex issue, but my point is that that issue didn’t really move the plot forward too much), and that seems to be a trend in modern comics – everything is in service of the plot, so writers never slow down and look around a little. That means a possibly fascinating character like Trinity, who comes into being thanks to the atomic explosion in New Mexico and is able to help Swamp Thing save the world in this volume, doesn’t get a lot of character development – there just isn’t time. Venkatesan does what he can, and it’s a testament to his skill that we get as much “tangential” stuff as we do in this run, but it’s a bit frustrating that it seems like modern comics can’t “meander” as much as they used to. I dunno. Maybe he didn’t want to do any of that stuff and just get to the weird shit. It’s certainly possible.

Anyway, this is an excellent ending to a pretty cool story, as Venkatesan invents a new parliament – a manmade one of machines – to compete with the other parliaments, and our hero has to figure out a way to stop the other parliaments from simply wiping the world clean of humans, because humans are so darned pesky. It’s done well, and of course Swamp Thing convinces all the parliaments to try to live in harmony, which is nice of him. We get a bit more resolution between Levi and his brother, who’s not quite as nice to be around, and Tefé Holland makes an appearance, which is fun. I liked seeing Jack Hawksmoor, as the new parliament is suited for cities, but he doesn’t hang around even though it seems like he would be useful. To signal once again that Vertigo is dead and Swamp Thing is in the regular ol’ DCU, Hal Jordan plays a fairly prominent role in the resolution to the story, so there you have it. Venkatesan does keep the focus on our hero, and I certainly don’t mind that Swamp Thing and the other “horror” characters in DC’s stable aren’t hived off anymore as they were back in Vertigo’s heyday, but it does feel like DC is really trying hard to remind us of it. We get it – Batman could show up at any time! Thanks! Overall, though, this is a pretty keen plot and a good resolution.

It certainly helps that Perkins and Spicer are on fire in this volume, even more than they’ve been on the previous issues, where the art was still very good. The avatar of the Parliament of Gears is horrific, naturally, and the parliament itself is a steampunk monstrosity, which Perkins makes far more terrifying as a gestalt than the individual parts could hope to be. Some of the background stuff is obviously Photoshopped, but Perkins and Spicer make it blend in with the more traditional pencil art very well, so it looks more organic than when a lot of other artists do it. Perkins’s designs are wonderful, from the creepy machines to the autumnal trees and Levi’s brother, who look like they’re dying even though they’re fighting back, to the weird alien pods that arrive to cleanse the earth of humans. The final issue is full of big, bold drawings, as Swampy and Trinity try to talk the new parliament down and save the world. Perkins has always been a good artist, but he seemed to step up his game for this series, and it’s really a stunning work of art.

I don’t know what DC plans to do with this new Swamp Thing – I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It did, however, cement Venkatesan as one of the best new writers in comics, if he hadn’t already secured that spot. I’m curious to see what he does next!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, that probably won’t be pleasant …

A Foulness in the Walls by Cullen Bunn (writer), Rodrigo Zayas (artist), Lorenzo Scaramella (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), and Mike Marts (editor). $7.99, 46 pgs, AfterShock Comics.

Bunn likes these straight-forward horror stories, as this comic doesn’t really try to pull anything over on us, just gives us a straight-forward horror story. A man buys a crappy house after his mom dies because he’s been taking care of her and paying for an assisted living facility and he doesn’t have a lot of money. He gets a job at a grocery store and begins to try to have a life, but at night, he smells something awful in the house. No prize if you figure out it’s in the walls! He meets a woman and begins having a relationship with her, but he won’t invite her back to his house, understandably, until eventually she asks nicely if they could go over there. It’s then he takes some drastic steps to get rid of the smell. Things … do not go well.

I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass and say this is the most amazing piece of fiction you’re ever going to read. I wouldn’t do that as a reviewer or, you know, as your bud. It’s fine. It’s entertaining, and the ending is pretty creepy, but it’s not terribly shocking in any way. It’s not bad, because Bunn is a good writer, but it’s not amazing. It’s a good, old-fashioned horror story, and Bunn is good enough to give it that sense of creeping dread that so many great horror stories have. In fact, part of the fun of the book is that creeping dread, as you realize pretty quickly where it’s going and you spend the rest of the book wondering if you’re right (you are) and hoping that you’re wrong (you aren’t). Even with the sense that you know what’s happening, Bunn is good enough that the ending is still horrific. So that’s not bad at all.

Zayas and Scaramella do nice work with the art. The colors are bright but a bit weird, with a lot of yellows and greens, so that the “foulness” inside George’s house is spreading through the town. The brightness of the colors makes the blacks – and there’s some good uses of black – more arresting by the absence of color, and the blackness becomes something more terrifying thanks to it. Zayas has a good, crisp line, and his attention to detail makes the town where George lives more interesting and realistic. Zayas makes the town a bit decrepit, as it’s a poorer town in a country that feels like it’s falling behind, and that’s where the colors come into it, too. Bunn doesn’t really comment too much on the socio-economic aspects of George’s life, but he implies it, and the artists do a good job commenting on it, as well. George needs to buy a run-down house in a run-down part of town, and he gets a job at a grocery store, which is coded as a dead-end, no-skills kind of job (whether or not that’s true is irrelevant, as it’s a metaphor), and he does this because his mom couldn’t afford insurance for her needs (which, again, is not stated, but implied). The sickly colors not only reflect the smell in the walls, they show a kind of sickness in America, and George’s inability to be a functioning adult because he’s had to take care of his mother is also a bit metaphorical. It’s significant that the woman he dates lives in a house that’s seen better days, but the interior is quite nice because she takes care of it, something George does not do with his house. It’s interesting that Bunn and the artists are able to make this a bit more metaphorical just by implying some things and being meticulous with the line art and color art.

I like these one-shots from AfterShock, because they’re bigger than regular comics (both in length and dimension) and they’re usually pretty keen. This one might not be the deepest horror story in the world, but it still has some things on its mind, and it’s nice and disturbing. Isn’t that why we read horror?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

You need a better home entertainment system, bro!

Sacrament by Peter Milligan (writer), Marcelo Frusin (artist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $9.99, 102 pgs, AWA Studios.

Milligan postulates a universe 1000 years in the future, when humanity has left the Earth and established colonies all over known space and religion has been largely forgotten. However, it’s not completely gone, and when there’s some murders on one of the fancier worlds (humanity is still divided into haves and have-nots, except now they get to be on completely different planets!) and then an archaeologist investigating ancient alien civilizations appears to be possessed, the authorities call in the only known exorcist around, Father Vass … except that Vass has pretty much lost his faith. Oh dear. Vass and his assistant, a novice named Rais (who, naturally, is a sexy young lady), have been performing masses on the crappier colonies, which is illegal, but Vass doesn’t much care if he gets caught. Will the exorcism – if that’s what it is – restore his faith?????

The idea of faith and what it can do for (and, I guess, to) a person has fascinated Milligan for a long time, so it’s not surprising that he does it in a sci-fi setting, where religion might be a bit harder to deal with thanks to the existence of alien civilizations that aren’t mentioned in the Bible. Vass helped perform an exorcism some years earlier, and it really messed him up, and since then, he’s found it harder and harder to find God in the universe. Rais, meanwhile, is full of faith, and she believes in Vass, but she starts to realize he’s not the great priest she thought he was. Meanwhile, the officer who brought them on board begins to believe, because he can’t not believe given what he’s faced with, but a rival of his clings to his scientific rationalism, even to the point of attempting to destroy anything that would contradict that worldview. Milligan is wondering if humanity deserves God, not the other way around, and if the “demon” in this story – I won’t say whether it really is one or not – tends to be a bit predictable, at least the way Vass, Rais, and Marlov – the officer who enlists Vass – work through their feelings about God is interesting. They know that the possessed archaeologist is unwell in some way, and they have to decide what that says about themselves and their place in the universe. It’s a horror story, sure, but because Milligan sets it in a time when religion isn’t just a given as part of life, he’s able to examine a bit more what religion means to people and what happens when religion doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

Frusin does a nice job with the art – he has a thick, somewhat rough line that works well with the grunginess of a future that has not turned out like humanity thought it would. Even his fancier colonies have a bit of a rough look about them, which implies that the brightness and slickness is hiding something rotten, which of course it is. He does a nice job with both the shine of the nicer planets and the almost steampunk clankiness of the poorer worlds – they look glued together, almost, and it’s a good contrast to the richer places in the galaxy. His “demons” are horrifying – traditional-looking, sure, but he gives them a brutish earthiness that contrasts with the higher aspirations of the people in the book. Frusin’s colors are terrific, too – a lot of blues punctuated with small dots of red to give both the feeling of the coolness of the future and the coolness of a world that’s lost its faith mixed with the computerized precision of a mechanized universe. It’s a cool-looking comic.

Like the comic above this, this isn’t an earth-shattering book, but it does some interesting things with the idea of religious faith, and that’s not bad, especially in a horror context. Another nice little mini-series from AWA!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hey, now – this is a family blog!

Alice Ever After by Dan Panosian (writer/artist), Giorgia Spalletta (artist), Cyril Glerum (art assistant), Fabiana Mascolo (colorist), Jeff Eckleberry (letterer), Kenzie Rzonca (assistant editor), and Kathleen Wisneski (editor). $16.99, 110 pgs, Boom! Studios.

This story annoys me more than it should, given that it’s just a story. I don’t mind the use of characters from other literature, even though it is a bit played out by this point, but if someone can do something interesting with it, more power to them. Panosian gives us a grownup Alice “Lutwidge,” whose childhood fantasies of Wonderland never left her, and the consequences to her of living in a world that tolerates childhood fantasies only so long as they stay in childhood. The problem is that Alice is a drug addict (eventually, Panosian reveals the dark reason why she’s a drug addict), and in Victorian England, this means that she is not treated terribly well at all. The drugs make her head to Wonderland, which is her “safe place,” so to speak, but her addiction also means she doesn’t really participate in society, so her family – well, father and older sister, as her younger sister is the nice on in the book – think she’s useless. Her father, who’s the “Royal Dentist,” doesn’t want the scandal a weird daughter would bring, so he often gets angry at her, and Alice is always trying to please others, so she doesn’t stand up for herself. Eventually she decides to voluntarily enter an asylum because her dealer, who worked in the asylum, is killed by men he owed money to, so Alice thinks entering the asylum will give her easy access to drugs. It does, but anyone who’s ever consumed a story about asylums knows that once you enter into one, it’s almost impossible to get out, and Alice discovers that getting into the asylum – which is run by a Queen of Hearts character and manned by twins who bully the patients – is much, much easier than leaving. Horrible events ensue, Alice’s father ignores her, Alice’s younger sister and a handsome dude they know try to get her out, lobotomies are threatened because of course they are, and things do not end well. It’s all very part-and-parcel for the story of a woman in Victorian England who people judge to be insane. There’s a dire inevitability to the story that Panosian does nothing to shift, and while that’s a bit disappointing, it’s not the annoying part. The annoying part is this kind of thing in fiction that writers do occasionally, where they imply that the fantasy world characters retreat to is somehow better than dealing with reality. I mean, Alice’s reality truly sucks, I get it, but it’s always weird when the solution presented is for the character to simply hide away inside their minds. Panosian doesn’t have the time (nor, probably, the inclination) to present a story in which Alice actually comes to terms with the horrors in her past and the troubles of her present, and of course, nobody who has power over her has any interest in helping her, but it’s still annoying that Panosian – and he’s not the first to do this – chooses to have Alice “triumph” in such a cynical and bleak manner. Alice probably has no avenue to “triumph,” given the society in which she lives, and Panosian, to his credit, doesn’t shy away from showing how bad it can get for her … but it still feels like a cheat, having this bolt-hole to which she can run and where she can live in harmony with all the weird creatures. It’s a bit frustrating, especially when he hints that what Alice is experiencing is not actually fantasy … I mean, her cats, who appear in the “real world” and interact with “real” characters, narrate the damned book. I get what Panosian is trying to do, but it seems like a bit of a cop-out.

Anyway, the art is pretty good in the book. Spalletta does a nice job depicting 19th-century London, and his Queen of Hearts asylum director is nice and evil. Panosian draws the Wonderland sequences, and his thicker line and more baroque style fit that fantasy well. Spalletta is pretty good at showing some of the horrors Alice has to contend with, and Panosian does a good job subtly introducing some of those elements to Wonderland. It’s a good division of labor, and the book looks nice.

This is a bit annoying, but it’s not a bad book, just a bit predictable. I also wonder why writers tend to ignore Through the Looking-Glass (although Tweedledee and Tweedledum appear there and not in the first book), as I always found it to be a more interesting book than Alice in Wonderland. But that’s just me!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Alice is done taking shit!

Batman: The Detective by Tom Taylor (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler/inker), Sandra Hope (inker), Brad Anderson (colorist), Clem Robins (letterer), and Ben Abernathy (editor). $16.99, 136 pgs, DC.

There are a lot of good things in this comic, but there are some bad things, too, and since that’s always more fun to talk about, let’s break them down, bullet-point style!

  • The generic name sucks.  I mean, come on, “London Calling” is right there!  It doesn’t all take place in London, though, so how about “Batman: European Vacation”?  Sure, they’d probably want something more serious, but dang, “The Detective” is a dumb name.  Bats does do more detecting than he usually does, so that’s something.
  • Alfred is dead, which is current, right? Yet … Barbara is still paralyzed?  Yes, I’m playing Kontinuity Kop!  You can’t stop me!
  • Taylor and Kubert redesign the Gentleman Ghost into a very horrific thing, and that’s stupid, plus he has no real reason to be in the book, so why give him a dumb makeover?
  • When Bruce Wayne gets picked up by the cops, he gets very stupid.  There doesn’t seem to be any reason for it, either, like he’s playing a long game or he’s really worn out.  He’s just dumb.
  • The Knight’s castle looks very … un-English, I guess.  It just doesn’t seem like it fits as a proper English castle.  And it’s implied that it’s near London, which … no way.
  • Kubert’s art is terrific, as usual … except when it comes to Bruce.  Kubert draws him less like a stylish gajillionaire and more like a low-level street thug – his clothes don’t fit well at all, he has a punk-ass haircut, and he has scars all over.  I get the scars thing, as Bruce would have scars, but it still looks odd, as Bruce would probably be able to afford to have his scars eliminated so people wouldn’t think he’s, I don’t know, an urban vigilante or something. And the clothes are to make him look muscular, I get, but a playboy like Bruce Wayne would have tailored clothes that actually fit him.  Kubert is excellent at everything else in the book, but man, his Bruce Wayne is terrible.  Plus, he’s always scruffy, which I know is a trendy thing, but it seems like Bruce would make sure he’s clean-shaven.  And isn’t that more work for the artist, and Kubert isn’t the fastest dude in the world, so why give yourself and Hope more work to do?

But enough of the bad stuff, let’s get to the good! This is a pretty good Batman story, although Taylor does something – which I’ll get to – that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It begins with a group of terrorists, dressed like Batman (but in white costumes rather than black and gray), blowing up a plane (a Wayne Airlines plane, and … um, really?) and killing almost everyone on board. The survivor is Beryl Hutchinson, the vigilante formerly known as the Squire but who’s now the Knight after her mentor was killed, and she tries to stop them but ends up in the hospital for her troubles (and it’s never revealed how she knew the flight was a target, but I guess we have to assume she’s just that good). Meanwhile, Batman leaves Gotham because he’s sad about Alfred dying, and he heads to Europe to investigate the crime. He figures out what’s going on, but I don’t want to spoil it because it’s a pretty keen idea, although it’s best if you don’t poke at it too much because the logic of it will leave you a bit dizzy. Suffice it to say that the group is trying to destroy London, and Bats obviously has to stop them. And Henri Ducard shows up, which is fun, although it’s been revealed over the years that Bruce had several teachers, so why everyone seems fixated on Ducard is odd. But he’s fun, and Bats doesn’t like him much because he kills people, but he still needs his Neeson-esque skills to stop the baddies. Batman does some nice detective-y things, and he does some stupid things (the aforementioned incident with the cops), and he uses his mobile Bat-cave, which a young woman has been caretaking because “an old English dude” told her to, and the good guys win. Yay, good guys!

Here’s the thing, though: Batman uses allies. He works with Beryl and the new Squire, a girl named Amina. He works with Ducard. He uses a “European Alliance of the Bat,” which is a bunch of people in high-level governmental positions who help him out. Eventually Oracle comes on board. Ducard makes the point that Batman can’t go it alone, as he feels alone after the death of Alfred, and Taylor makes it a theme of the book. But … Batman never works alone, does he? I mean, not for a long, long time. After Jason Todd died and the Bat-office decided that Loner Batman was the Best Batman, he went it alone for a few years, but that didn’t take. Ever since Tim Drake came alone, Batman has been part of an ever-growing family, to the point that he’s running a Robin Academy, right? Is that thing still around? I mean, it’s not a bad theme for a standalone Bat-comic, but this is clearly tied into the ongoing stuff, and Batman uses allies all the frickin’ time in the regular books, so this idea that he needs Henri Ducard to tell him that he needs allies is a bit weird. But hey, I dig me some Knight and Squire, so if Bats wants to hang out with them, more power to Taylor! Also, he actually has a somewhat fun personality around them – it’s Batman with a lollipop! – and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just that Taylor thinks he’s making a really good point about Batman, but it’s a point writers have been making for 30 years, so … yeah.

Besides the weird way he draws Bruce Wayne, Kubert is excellent, as usual. I mean, his choice to put Batman in an overcoat instead of a cape is a bit odd, but I assume to distinguish him even more from the white Bat-terrorists running around, and it works. Kubert’s unnecessary redesign of the Gentleman Ghost is very cool (if, you know, unnecessary), and, as always, he packs each page with tons of fun details. His storytelling is always excellent; even though his pages are usually busy, they’re never unclear. His fight scenes are terrific – brutal and kinetic – and he and Hope use black chunks brilliantly – it’s not a dark book, exactly, but Kubert does use shadows very well. He gives us a terrific sense of place, so even though he simply uses some nice landmarks to indicate place – Batman hangs one terrorist from Big Ben, for instance – the details of the rooms in which the action takes place or the moor where the plane comes down are very nicely delineated, which helps frame the action well. Kubert also makes Batman a bit more human simply by the way he responds to people, with more facial expressions than a lot of artists give the old dude, so we get the sense that Bats really appreciates all the people he comes across in this book. It’s a beautiful book, but given that Kubert is an excellent artist, that’s not surprising.

This is a fun Batman book, which is always nice. It’s a bit bleak – a lot of people die, some gruesomely – but it’s not hopelessly wretched, like a lot of Batman comics these days. Taylor creates a clever villain and gives Batman a good, personal stake in things, and he even provides a decent reason why Batman doesn’t kill without being too obvious about it. Plus, it looks great. The cover isn’t as good as another classic with Batman in London, but hey, that’s fine!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Awwww – that deserves a lollipop!
There you go!

Golden Rage* by Chrissy Williams (writer), Lauren Knight (artist), Sofie Dodgson (colorist), Shayne Hannah Cui (color flatter), Becca Carey (letterer), and Joamette Gil (editor). $16.99, 101 pgs, Image.

* See, it’s a pun on “golden age,” as this is about older women – in their “golden years” – but they’re all pretty angry. It’s clever!

As I read this, I was getting more and more annoyed, but then, Williams did something interesting and rescued it, so that’s nice. It’s not that the annoying part was bad, per se, just that it was … well, annoying. I’ll ‘splain: this is a lot like Lord of the Flies with Oldsters, as it’s set on an island populated entirely by elderly women. A new arrival is a younger woman who happened to go through early menopause, so the premise of this book is basically that once women can’t have children anymore, they’re packed off to this island and forgotten. The new arrival, Jay, acts as our POV character, so as she finds out who’s who on the island, so do we. The group that took her in is a trio of misfits who don’t fit into the societies that have sprung up on the island – the weird group that buries the dead and rarely speaks, the ruling elite, etc. … you get the gist. Everyone is interested in Jay, it seems, so the women decide to do something about that, but they, of course, run afoul of the ruling group, and bad things happen. You knew they would!

Ok, so why was I annoyed? Well, the premise is fine, I guess, but the machinations behind it (which, as we’re on the island in media res, we never discover) seem a bit silly. It’s the same problem I have with The Handmaid’s Tale – it’s not that I don’t think many people would love to do what happens in that book and in this comic, it’s that I don’t think it would be as easy as the writers make it seem. I get that the point is to make points about society in a less-than-subtle way, and Williams, in the case of this comic, doesn’t care too much about the method by which elderly women are dumped on an island, just that they are – but I don’t think that way, and you can’t just say, “Here’s an island where so-called useless women are dumped” and expect me to buy that. In a world of social media and a world in which the marginalized have more and louder voices than ever, I just can’t see something like this happening. Attempted? Sure, why not – idiot people try stupid shit all the time. We even elected a clown as president because too many people thought it could never happen. But consider what NuTrump is trying to do in Florida. He’s getting away with it, but there are so many dissenting voices, and that’s over curriculum. Some states are passing laws making transgender people illegal (whatever that means), and the outcry is huge. If someone tried to pass a law that called for shipping elderly women off to an island, there would be a huge outcry. I just don’t buy it, and Williams doesn’t make any effort to explain how it happened. So that was annoying me.

Then there’s something that I’ve noticed far too often recently, and I can’t decide if it’s that the writers are just annoying or the readers are just that obtuse. Williams doesn’t do this as badly as some, but the I’m Making A Big Statement Narrative is something I can do without, and Williams indulges in it a bit – “Oh, look how we treat so-called useless women in our society!!!” kind of thing. I know marginalized people have been marginalized in fiction, and I think it’s great that people not traditionally given a platform are now seizing them themselves, but as we get more stories about women, or LGBTQ+ people, or ethnic minorities, we also seem to be getting stories in which it’s all about their oppression, and in really obvious ways. You can go back through history and find stories about how people have been oppressed, and because they were being presented to a clueless white audience, a lot of times it was far more subtle so the poor sensitive white people wouldn’t get bent out of shape. Today, it’s good that it’s more open, but it makes the stories a bit more annoying. Williams has to make the subtext of “We treat women, especially elderly women, poorly!” into text, and I don’t know if it’s because she’s not good enough to keep it as subtext but still make it obvious or if she’s decided that the audience is just that stupid. I suspect it’s the latter, because, while I don’t know much about Williams (this is, I think the first comic she’s written, although she’s edited a bunch), some of the other writers who’ve done this are fairly intelligent, and I wonder if they’ve just gotten tired of being coy. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and straight white men probably need someone to bang them over the head because they’re just not picking up the subtext, but it makes the reading experience feel a bit less like reading a narrative and more like attending a class on “wokeness.” We can all be a bit more “woke,” of course, but it does become a bit annoying when a narrative decides that it’s no longer a story.

Then, as I mentioned, Williams rescues it, to a degree. She never quite allows the characters to be spokeswomen for How Society Has Failed, and the tension between the groups is well done. It’s when we find out who Jay really is and what the women do about it, however, that is kind of the saving grace (the revelation about Jay happens about halfway through the book, so it’s a nice hinge for the entire story). Williams begins to show us why women are interesting to write about, and why this is different from a story populated by men, and the ending of the book (which I won’t spoil) is a nice subversion of our expectations. This isn’t necessarily a book about women fighting the patriarchy, which we expect from the early stages of the story. Williams is looking at society a bit differently, and it’s cleverly done. She gets into what kind of society the women want, not what they want to oppose, and that turns the story on its head just a bit. It’s always nice when your expectations are confounded a bit, and Williams does a decent job with it. I still don’t love the subtext-becoming-text part of the story, but it comes together pretty well at the end.

I’ve gone on a bit about this without writing about the art, so I’ll just say: the art is good. Not great, but good. There’s a good sense of isolation on the island, the characters are interesting and unique, and the storytelling is clear. It’s nice to see older people depicted as, you know, old, and Knight does a good job with that. I don’t have much else to say, sorry!

This is an interesting comic. Does it imply that readers are dumb? Yeah, probably. And sadly. But it’s still a pretty decent comic!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

We could all use a nice bath every once in a while!

No’Madd the Unconquerable volume 1: The City of Empty Towers by Andrew Kafoury (writer), Aaron McConnell (artist), Lee Moyer (artist), and Tom Orzechowski (letterer). $14.99, 133 pgs, Battle Quest Comics.

Here’s a lesson in persistence: I own a trade paperback of this comic that I got in 2013 at either the Seattle convention or the Portland convention. Kafoury, the writer, lives in Portland, and I know I saw him at that show, but I can’t remember if I was there in 2013 and I know I was in Seattle that year, so maybe I got it there. I actually own a different version that I think I got a year later, because I was definitely at the Rose City con in 2014. In fact, somehow I ended up with two copies of those two trades, so this trade here is actually the fifth version I own of this book:

Now, you might think that’s crazy, and that’s fine. I do like to support independent creators, and Kafoury was publishing this on his own (he still is, but he’s been able to expand a bit), so I don’t have a big problem getting extra copies, even though it wasn’t my plan. Anyway, the point is, ten years ago Kafoury published a version of this story, and now he’s done it again. According to him, during the pandemic he was forced to slow down a bit and he was able to adjust some things that he didn’t love about the old version, and this new version is a bit longer and it’s been redrawn. Unlike another comic I recently looked at that had been redrawn, I’m not going to compare and contrast, but the new art is better than the old, so there’s that. Kafoury has been tinkering with this character and this story for over a decade, and recently, he’s been able to expand his company and begin publishing things by other creators. I haven’t read any of those yet, but I probably will, and it’s very cool that he’s been able to do it (although, as far as I know, he hasn’t quit his day job yet). You have to be persistent in life, in other words, in case you didn’t know.

With all that, it almost seems churlish to actually review the book, but I must! I enjoyed it, although it’s not terribly deep, just entertaining (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’m not sure if Kafoury is going to do more with No’Madd, but this is basically an origin story, and it’s a perfectly acceptable one. I actually don’t love that cover too much, because it gives away a fun plot point – early on, this feels like a regular sword-and-sorcery epic, as a lonely dude wanders his land talking about the moon, which his people worship, and missing his wife and son because he’s on a quest that he was destined to go on since he was a boy. Nothing special about the set-up, but it’s a good vein to mine. He fights human-sized insectoid creatures and a mysterious ninja-like person, but there’s nothing too odd about it. Then, as you can glean from the cover, the aliens show up. There are weird machines and creepy aliens, and the truth about the moon is revealed, and No’Madd does a lot of punching. It’s still just solid entertainment and nothing too deep, but it’s more fun than it would have been as a s-‘n’-s story. It makes No’Madd’s world a bit weirder, and that can only be a good thing if Kafoury decides to do more stories with the character.

McConnell’s art is solid if unspectacular. He does a good job with the machinery and more modern stuff, making it feel nicely out of place on a less technologically advanced world like No’Madd’s. Some of his page designs are very nice – when No’Madd learns the truth about the moon, the pages feel more expansive and epic, which is nifty. He does a nice job making the world feel vast and diverse, and we get a good sense of how far No’Madd has to travel on his quest. This is a weird complaint, but I kind of wish the book had been a bit bloodier. It’s violent, as you might expect, but some of the violence feels a bit bloodless, and it makes it a bit less impactful. I don’t want people getting rent limb from limb, but maybe a bit more than we get would make it feel a bit more real. I know, it’s a weird thing to focus on, but there you have it.

I’ve only met Kafoury once or twice at conventions, but I’m friends with him on Facebook, and he seems like a good dude, so I will continue to support his endeavors, especially because, as I noted, I like supporting seriously indie creators. This is an interesting way to begin with his company, and I’m keen to see where it goes!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That’s one way to take care of your insect problem!

Sins of the Black Flamingo volume 1 by Andrew Wheeler (writer), Travis Moore (artist), Tamra Bonvillain (colorist), Aditya Bidikar (letterer), and Andy Khouri (editor). 100 pgs, $16.99, Image.

Sigh. As you might recall, I’m a bit of a prude. Don’t get me wrong – I like seeing naked women as much as the next guy (or, if the next guy is gay, as much as he likes seeing naked dudes), and I certainly don’t want to stop showing sexytimes in fiction … it just bugs me a bit. Writers far too often confuse love with sex, and they’re two very different things, and they also seem to think a … physical reaction to stimuli on the part of a man means that he’s sexually interested when it could just be a physical response to something non-sexual (you know what I mean!!!!). I bring this up because in this comic, a classy thief – the Black Flamingo – rescues an angel from an old creepy dude (our hero doesn’t think it’s an angel, because he doesn’t believe in angels, but it’s an angel) and exactly halfway through this comic, they have sex. It bugged me, because right before they have sex, the angel tells Sebastian – that’s his real name – that “we all need love,” but sex ≠ love, and I get annoyed that writers seem to think they only way for people to express their “love” is by fucking, which is usually a way to express their lust, not love. This happens all the time, and I mention it occasionally, and it just seemed like something more annoying here, because it’s an angel. He looks like a dude, but that’s because, as we find out, the people that tried to bind him (in the Founding Fathers days, because of course) put him in the body of a man, and I actually like that Moore does not even attempt to make him look human when we do see his true form. Despite looking like a human, he’s not, and why would angels care about sex or even know about sex? It would have been a more interesting book if the angel had made Sebastian feel loved in a totally alien way. That would have shown some imagination. Instead, we get a boring sex scene. The book is more about love anyway, and Wheeler does some interesting stuff with that, but the sex is just distracting. But maybe that’s just me being a prude, as usual.

Other than that, this is a keen comic. Sebastian steals interesting things, such as something early on to bring a golem to life, which golem then falls in love with him (see? it’s all about love!) even though one of Sebastian’s friends tells the golem Sebastian is a bastard who doesn’t deserve it (and that’s his friend saying that!). While he’s finding the thing to bring the golem to life, he finds a reference to a collar used to contain supernatural beings, and the collar belongs to a rich old dude who happens to be unbelievably racist. Sebastian attends a party at the old dude’s house, discovers something odd about him, and finds the angel bound in a secret room (wearing the collar, needless to say). He rescues the angel, but the old dude knows he did it and wants the angel back. Meanwhile, another unbelievably racist group wants the angel for themselves. Good times all around!

Wheeler, of course, is making points about inclusiveness, Americanism, divinity, and love, and he does a pretty good job with it. Setting the book in Florida, which Sebastian often notes is just weird, adds a nice touch of surrealism to everything, as Moore puts in some nice bizarre touches throughout the book and we get one death by alligator and we get one angel wearing a nice pink sport jacket. The Florida-ness of it all actually helps enhance Wheeler’s points, because the main characters in this book – a gay man, a black woman, an angel in the body of probably a slave back in the 1700s, and a Jewish golem – are all marginalized or at least marginalized-adjacent (I mean, the golem is just clay, so he can’t be Jewish, but it’s a Jewish folk tale, so there’s that) and the point is that they’re just trying to live their lives in a weird Florida way, but racists – who don’t seem to understand Florida – won’t let them. It’s a bit heavy-handed, but as I noted above with Golden Rage, I don’t know if that’s because readers are just that stupid, but it’s still a good adventure with some nice twists and turns, and Moore’s bright, neon-soaked art fits the weirdness of the narrative well. The supernatural element is handled well, as Wheeler takes some standard stuff – three witches, a golem – and puts a bit of a goofy “Florida” spin on them. There’s a lot to like about this comic, and there’s plenty of potential for more stories (as is promised at the end of this volume). We shall see!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

He’s too pretty to scar!


The Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal That Tore France in Two by Piers Paul Rand. 408 pgs, 2012, Bloomsbury Press.

Everyone, I would imagine, has some vague knowledge of the Dreyfus Affair (ok, maybe not everyone, but more people than you might think) – dude gets accused of spying for the Germans, hasn’t actually spied for the Germans, gets convicted anyway because he’s Jewish, Émile Zola throws a hissy fit and gets him released from prison, he marries the handsome prince and everyone lives happily ever after. Those are the bare bones, but it’s interesting to read an entire account of the Affair, as Rand shows how it laid bare some big fissures in French society and caused a revolution almost as significant as the ones the French threw in 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871 … dang, the French revolt a lot. The aftermath of the Dreyfus Affair was, in many ways, a culmination of the 1789 revolution, and it also kind of presaged the anti-Semitism of the 20th century, and we know how that went. Yeah, not well at all.

Alfred Dreyfus himself is an unlikely “hero” in this story, sidelined for a good amount of it in prison on Devil’s Island off the coast of French Guiana, but Rand does a nice job exploring why he became a scapegoat for the Army’s incompetence beyond just the fact that he was Jewish. Dreyfus was not a very inspiring figure, and Rand doesn’t come out and say that it wasn’t anti-Semitism that did him in, but there were other factors, too. Dreyfus did not make friends easily, and when he needed them, they were nowhere to be found. He didn’t “play the game,” as in he didn’t treat his superiors with what they believed was the proper deference, especially as he believed himself superior to them in many ways. He had come up through the more egalitarian military school, one that was created in order to weaken the influence of the Catholic aristocracy that ran the Army, and of course most of his superiors were Catholic aristocrats, so they looked down on anyone who came in through a different way, even if they weren’t Jewish. He was rich, so he didn’t have to commiserate with the soldiery to make connections to gain a comfortable life. As a person, he came off as prickly, standoffish, even rude, and he comported himself with rigid decorum. This hurt him in his court martials, during which he simply protested his innocence in as dull a manner possible, and even his supporters wanted him to rage against the charges more, which just wasn’t his nature. Anti-Semitism definitely played a big role in Dreyfus’s persecution, but many of his supporters were anti-Semitic, as well – they just didn’t like that an innocent man was in prison and they had other agendas, like ridding French society of its Catholic bent. So the Dreyfus Affair, like so many other high-profile events, sheds a light on the society in which it takes place as well as the microcosmic details of the event itself.

Rand does a good job giving us an overview of fin de siècle French society. The Third Republic was not a terribly strong government, but it managed to putter through, holding off coup threats, riding out the Panama Canal scandal, and getting France through one world war before getting obliterated by the Nazis. During the 1890s, several pro-Catholic Prime Ministers and Ministers of War kept the pro-Dreyfus people at bay despite a total lack of evidence that Dreyfus was guilty and some very strong evidence against the actual spy (who was never prosecuted and escaped to England, where he lived for the rest of his life). Rand gets into Dreyfus’s imprisonment in South America, and as horrific as it sounds, that can’t take up the bulk of the book because it was monotonous. So he focuses on the attempts of Dreyfus’s brother and wife (whom Dreyfus cheated on fairly regularly, but who never lost faith in him) to clear his name, as they gather a group of lawyers, writers, and politicians who see in Dreyfus a way to destroy the Army’s integrity (most of them knew Dreyfus was innocent but they didn’t want to deal with the embarrassment of admitting it) and therefore break the Catholic grip on the country. Zola’s famous letter (which was important, but not as important as later people made it out to be) was a big part of this, and once Dreyfus was pardoned (he was convicted in a second court martial in 1899, even though it was even clearer that he was innocent), his supporters had less use for him, as a pardon, they believed, implied guilt on his part and they couldn’t fight their battles in court with him as the focus. But by then, pro-Dreyfus politicians had been elected, and they were able to hammer away at the church, passing many anti-clerical laws in the early 20th century that transformed French society (whether for the good or not is dependent on your point of view, of course). Dreyfus was convenient for many people, and Rand does a good job with the swirl around him as many, many people used him for their own ends. Isn’t that always the way? Dreyfus, perhaps luckily, died in 1935 before he saw what anti-Semitism could really do when unleashed on a large scale.

It’s an interesting story, touching as it does so much of what made the 20th century so compelling and depressing, and it’s also interesting how modern it feels (I mean, it was only 130 years ago, so that’s not too surprising). Given the way some hearings involving the government go these days, it’s not hard to believe that the Army would form a wall and “protect the shield” from any accusations of corruption, even if, as always, had they simply admitted their mistake and done the right thing they probably wouldn’t have been subjected to such apocalyptic changes once it all came out. People never fucking learn, do they?

This is a pretty good retelling of the Affair, and it’s nice that Rand does delve into the fact that Dreyfus was an unpleasant individual, even though those persecuting him didn’t like Jews. In today’s world, we often look for reasons why something happens, and we often go for the big, societal reasons – racism, sexism, classism, you know the drill! Those are usually valid reasons, but occasionally, someone gets shit on because they’re, you know, a dick. Don’t discount the “they’re a dick!” explanation!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆


Derry Girls (Netflix). There are only 19 half-hour episodes of Derry Girls (the finale is a bit longer, but not much), so it’s easy to zip through, and you really should, because it’s so goddamned funny. It’s set in the mid-1990s in Derry (obviously), so there’s a good amount about the political situation, but it’s still a teen comedy, with hilarious caustic humor, razor-sharp wit, and intricate plots that encompass lots of weird shit that teens go through. The five main characters (all of whom were in their mid- to late-20s when the show started, but whatever) are superb: Saoirse-Monica Jackson is Erin, the nominal lead, who’s wildly pretentious and thinks she’s better than everyone; Louisa Harland plays her cousin, Orla, who might be on the spectrum or might just be weird, but either way, she’s awesome; Jamie-Lee O’Donnell is their friend Michelle, the “glamor girl” of the group, who’s always talking about “riding” dudes; Nicola Coughlin is Clare, the smart one, whose coming-out episode is handled nicely by all concerned (and, in a nice twist, none of the adults in the show are bothered by it at all); Dylan Llewellyn plays James, Michelle’s cousin, whose mother dropped him off at Michelle’s and left him and who is constantly insulted because he’s English. The rest of the cast is stellar, as well, with Siobhán McSweeney’s cynical but basically kind-hearted nun who runs the girls’ school a highlight. The chemistry between the five main characters is terrific (at the end of season 2, James is about to go back to England with his mother, but they convince him to stay by telling him he’s a Derry girl now, and it’s a funny and moving moment … and, of course, they immediately go back to insulting him in season 3), and the writing is top-notch (although for non-Irish people, it’s definitely something to watch with subtitles). Every character is weird, unique, and hilarious, from Orla’s vacuous mother to Erin’s put-upon husband to one of their cousins, Colm, who’s wildly long-winded. And creator Lisa McGee knew not to overstay her welcome – she mirrors the hesitant peace process, so the show ends when the Irish vote on the referendum to accept the peace, and it’s a nice way to show how the kids grow up. Shows about teens should never hang around too long, and this feels just about right. Give it a look – you won’t regret it!

Broadchurch season 3 (PBS). PBS was rerunning the third season of Broadchurch, and we had never seen it, so we thought we would catch it (we’ve not seen the first two seasons, either, but such is life). I mean, I knew it was bleak, but man, it’s fucking bleak. A woman is raped, so Doctor Who* and PC Doris Thatcher leap into action – Tennant and Colman are very good, both together and separately – to find the culprit, but unfortunately, there’s a whole hell of a lot of them. The season is weakened a bit by the Latimer arc, in which the family is mourning the murder of their son (in season 1), because Mark Latimer – played by Andrew Buchan – is so fucking whiny about it, and he ignores his other two kids to blubber about his dead son, which his separated wife (another Doctor Who!) never calls him on until very late in the day. I get that he’s sad, but he’s being a punk about his actual, living family. Anyway, secrets are revealed during the course of the investigation, as the group of people involved in the case have all kinds of connections to everyone else and everyone is hiding something. It’s very well plotted, very intense, and not “fun” at all. But it’s very well done, which is nice. I guess I’ll have to check out the first two seasons – maybe Mark Latimer’s whininess won’t be as annoying if I get more context!

* I know. Don’t @ me.

Miss Scarlet and the Duke season 3 (PBS). This show remains an enjoyable detective show, with interesting cases and some social commentary, which is always nice to see. I was a bit disappointed that the woman who seemed to be primed to become Eliza Scarlet’s assistant in season 2 has vanished – I don’t know if they simply didn’t want to go that way or the actor got another gig – but such is life. Also weird is the fact that in a 6-episode season, the male lead – Stuart Martin – is absent for 2 of them, the ones right in the middle of the season. Where did he go? Beats me, but it’s odd. The first Martin-less episode is a good one – Eliza goes to France to bring back a fugitive, and her rival detective is there, and everyone is trapped in a snowbound hotel, and it’s neat – while the second one deals with police corruption, which isn’t bad. The leads continue to have good chemistry, and Eliza continues to break down barriers as she becomes more and more known, but the show still does a good job with the sexism of the time. Inspector Wellington begins dating an old frenemy of Eliza’s, and that annoys me, because the show so clearly wants Eliza and the Duke to be together, but it won’t pull the trigger. Shows like this, with a male and female lead that they desperately want to make a couple but resist, annoy me, because there’s so many better ways to do things, but shows keep treading the same ground. At least the end of this season feels a bit like an inflection point, but we’ll see if the show does anything about it. Meanwhile, Eliza seems to be taking a major step toward financial solvency, so we’ll see if the show does anything with that. Anyway, it’s still a fun show. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s nifty.


Here are the “classic” reprints I got this month!

Dark Horse has the second volume of Air, the old Vertigo series by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker. It looks neat, of course, because Perker is a good artist. We shall see about the story! I’m not sure if this part of Birds of Prey ever go collected (I doubt it), so while I’m counting it as a “classic” reprint mainly because it’s over 15 years old, I usually call them “classic” reprints if it’s new collection of previously collected material. Whatever – I don’t think Air has ever been collected, either, and I’m calling that a “classic” reprint! It doesn’t really matter all that much!!! 2000AD continues to put of keen olde-tyme collections, as we get their second Karl the Viking volume, reprinting stuff from the mid-1960s.

Let’s take a look at all the money I spent this month!

1 February: $28.63 (!!!) (I bought only one comic this week – the Karl the Viking reprint. It’s a Festivus miracle!)
8 February: $98.83
15 February: $55.90 (a $40 book makes up a good chunk of that total!)
22 February: $142.24 (I tried to go the entire month under 100 dollars, but I failed!)

Money spent in February: $325.60 (February 2022: $765.35; February 2021: $679.20)
YTD: $826.15 (2022 at this point: $1531.21; 2021 at this point: $1076.55)

So it’s still quite a bit, but dang, a big drop from the past two years, both in February and for the year so far. I am trying to cut back, so that’s not a bad thing!

Here are the publishers I got books from this month!

AfterShock: 1 (1 single issue)
AWA: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Battle Quest Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Beacon Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Boom!: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Dark Horse: 3 (1 “classic” reprint, 2 single issues)
DC: 3 (1 “classic” reprint, 2 trade paperbacks)
Image: 6 (3 single issues, 3 trade paperbacks)
Lev Gleason: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Living the Line: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Marvel: 1 (1 single issue)
Oni Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Rebellion/2000AD: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Viz Media: 1 (1 manga volume)

Here’s the breakdown of what kind of format I bought this month (numbers in parentheses are totals for the year):

3 “classic” reprints (8)
4 graphic novels (7)
1 manga volume (1)
7 single issues (15)
8 trade paperbacks (14)

Here’s how the publishers have broken down after two months!

Abrams ComicArts: 1 (1 graphic novel)
AfterShock: 1 (1 single issue)
AWA: 2 (2 trade paperbacks)
Battle Quest Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Beacon Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Black Caravan: 1 (1 single issue)
Boom!: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Dark Horse: 8 (3 “classic” reprints, 5 single issues)
DC: 5 (1 “classic” reprint, 2 single issues, 2 trade paperbacks)
Image: 11 (5 single issues, 6 trade paperbacks)
Lev Gleason: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Living the Line: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Marvel: 3 (1 “classic” reprint, 1 single issue, 1 trade paperback)
Oni: 2 (2 graphic novels)
PS Artbooks: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Roaring Brook Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Titan Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
2000AD/Rebellion: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Viz Media: 1 (1 manga volume)


As of this morning (2 March), I’m at 258.8 pounds, meaning I gained .1 pounds in February. Not great. It’s not been a good month in the house, but I won’t bore you with details. I stress eat, I know I stress eat, and there was some stress this month. I’m working on it!

The beard is moving along, as you can see from this gif (which, once again, doesn’t show up on the site, but if you click on it, it will be there in all its glory). I’m keeping it a bit better trimmed this time, and when I go get my hair cut, I’ll probably have the person trim the sides a little. The contrast between the dark hair on top and the white of the beard is weird. I wonder why it does that (and no, I don’t color my hair on top – I’m not quite that vain).

As I noted above, it’s been a bit of a stressful time. It’s daughter stuff, as usual, and it seems to be getting better, but whenever it gets better, it inevitably gets worse later, and it’s frustrating. I won’t bore you with the details!

One last thing: Here’s what I was doing ten years ago today, 2 March 2013 – chatting with Greg Hatcher at the Emerald City Comic-Con! (I know I’ve posted this photo before, but I’ll do it again, damn it!)

That’s all I have on my mind right now. Have a nice day, everyone!


  1. Jeff Nettleton

    Yes, you could say the French are revolting!


    Seriously, the British and French armies both had serious leadership issues. The British system had advancement through purchasing higher rank, after a minimum period, and they were almost universally of the aristocratic ranks. The French system, before Napoleon was similar and just as aristocratic. napoleon promoted due to talent and skill, though there were politics and some of his generals were still of the aristocratic classes. Post-Napoleon you still have the issues and their army was never as great as it had been, under Napoleon, though its soldiers were always tough fighters. It was always the leadership of the generals and the government that undid the French Army.

    If you read some of that late Victorian/turn of the Century French pulp literature, you get a real sense f things, especially with the number of anti-heroes running around, like Arsene Lupin, the Gentleman Thief, and Fantomas, the super-criminal, as well as the early French silent serials, adapting Fantomas and introducing Les Vampires, both from louis Feullade (who also created a cloaked hero, Judex, long before The Shadow, though he owed a lot to the Count of Monte Cristo).

    1. Darthratzinger

      The one thing that the British and American visitors I do WWII-tours for agree on is the “the French are cowards”-crap. At this point I have heard dozens of jokes about that topic. I always do point out that it was the stupidity of the French high command that lost them the war at first. If it´s British visitors I then point out that the British high command was just as qualified in that period.

    2. Greg Burgas

      I mean, Napoleon III had trouble in Italy in the 1850s, and if you can’t stomp the Italians at that time, you’re not a great power, and it was due mostly to his incompetence and the incompetence of those in command.

      I also get annoyed by the “French are cowards” thing, because it’s demonstrably not true. Stupid mouth-breathing ‘Muricans!

    3. The British Navy, by contrast, was rigorously meritocratic and very hard to ascend in.
      Among the other problems of the army, it was broken up among a dozen or so different departments (Fortifications, Artillery, Cavalry, Indian Army, Army In The Rest Of The Empire) with nothing equivalent to a Joint Chiefs to coordinate everything. One of many fascinating details in “Mr. Kipling’s Army” which is an excellent book on the 19th century British army.

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    ps if you like British police and detective series, I recommend New Tricks, about a squad of retired police detectives who are recruited to look at unsolved cases, using new forensics techniques, while providing their expertise in past investigative methods. It features Amanda Redman (Sexy Beast) as a serving police superintendent, who screws up on a hostage rescue operation and finds herself bumped off the fast track into what most considered a waste of time, hence the use of retired officers. She recruits her old mentor, Jack Halford (James Bolam), who helps her pick the others. One is Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong, of Krull, Get Carter, and the original production of Les Miserables), an obsessive detail man with a history of alcoholism and mental health issues. The other is Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman), an East End Cockney “thief-taker,” who was believed to have been on the take but was proven to be clean, just not politically adept. Waterman had co-starred in the seminal The Sweeney, and his role is a bit of a nod to that. It has a nice blend of humor and drama, with great characters. The series loses a lot, when Bolam decided to leave, soon followed by Redman and Armstrong,. When Bolam left, they brought in Dennis Lawson, the former Wedge, from Star Wars (and the sequels). Also appearing in the series was Susan Jameson, Bolam’s wife, playing the wife of Brian. waterman’s daughter Hannah played a young officer who believes Gerry is her father, though DNA tests disprove it, though he hides the fact, for a time. Good series, while they had the whole cast.

  3. Eric van Schaik

    Why do you look so gloomy on all photos Greg? Is it because of the grey/white hair? 😉

    My mancave is finally finished. I’m really happy with it. It took some time to organize but I’m very glad with the result. I found a nice spot for my Roachmill sketch made by Tom McWeeney way back in ’97 (when American artist still visited Holland).

    I got the Captain Marvel Omnibus and the Death of Captain Marvel Gallery Edition. Read most part of the second. Apart from that only the latest Savage Dragon floppy.

    Possibly the swansong by Transatlantic: The Final Flight: Live at L’Olympia. It containes 3 cd’s and a blu-ray. We saw them last year in Tilburg and it was a great concert. In Holland we all have to stand but in the venue were it was recorded all people had to sit. A strange thing to see. The guys aren’t getting any younger and Pete Trewavas is needed in Marillion.

    Klone : Meanwhile. These French guys get better and better. The music gets under my skin in a good way. Maybe not your cup of tea.

    None at the moment because we have gone to…

    1/27 Apocalyptica/Wheel (and Epica but we left after 1,5 song, because Apocalyptica was our reason to go)
    It has been a while seeing those guys from Finland playing heavy music on 3 cello’s assisted by a drummer. It was the first time my wife saw them and we both enjoyed the hell out of it. As a reward we bought the latest album and both got the tour shirt. Yeah!

    2/18 Röyksopp
    I liked the latest 3 cd’s, all released last year so I was excited to see them. It’s not the kind of music I normally go to but he, why not?
    It was at an interesting venue: a former gas storage building in the middle of Amsterdam. It unfortunately was mostly pre-programmed dance music (nothing wrong with that) so no singers at the stage and after a while it got repetitive. We left a bit earlier than planned. Oh well.

    2/25 The Paradox Twin
    This was a nice prog-rock surprise. On the FB page of this venue they had added a music clip. That alone was enough reason to discover this band on stage and they didn’t dissapoint. I bought both cd’s and played them a few time already. We hope to see them again in the future.

    3/2 Tamino
    It was a concert mostly visited by girls age 14 till 20. Some accompanied by parent(s). The guy is from Belgium with Egyptian roots (father) that made a nice meltingpot of styles.

    Tonight (3/3) we’ll see Klone and Devin Townsend. I hope Klone sell tourshirts with the front of the album on it. That’ll make a nice addition to my collection. 😉

    On monday we are on our way to visit friends in… BRASIL!!! 🙂
    We’ll stay there until the 30th. The first 2,5 days in Rio and then to the Iguazu waterfalls where we’ll meet our friends. Later on we go to Curitiba where they live.
    I would like to post pictures if I knew how to do this on this site.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I’m not gloomy, I’m just trying to highlight the beard, so I want to have the same expression in each photo. Smiling would just mess with that! 🙂

      Good that you finished the mancave. I wouldn’t mind one, but we just don’t have the space. My “office” is good enough!

      Dang, so many concerts! I’m glad you had fun. One of these days I’m going to have to dig into all these bands you bring up. I’ve done it with a few, and it’s fun.

      Have fun in Brazil. I’m jealous – I’d love to go. Don’t get caught up in the pro-fascist riots!

      1. Eric van Schaik

        We’ll stay away from all kind of riots. 😉

        Klone was great, but Devin Townsend a dissapointment IMO. I bought a nice Klone shirt and had a nice talk with guitar player Guillaume Bernard who did sell the merchandise. They didn’t want the cover of the new album as a tour shirt and we had a fun discussion about it.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Good to know! I bought the single issues for a while but lost interest. I’m just seeing if it works better as a whole, because I do like Wilson and Perker. I just thought the single issues were taking a bit too long to get somewhere, but the idea wasn’t bad. So perhaps reading it all at once (or in a much shorter time frame) will work better.

  4. I enjoyed Air. It does improve on reading in bulk, even though I know now the premise that “the map is the territory” is dead wrong (though maps can certainly influence our misperceptions of what the territory is).
    The Dreyfuss Affair reminds me of a book I read a couple of years back on Mata Hari, showing how it was convenient for the French authorities to pretend she was a spy and thereby pretend they were winning the espionage fight (she was so evil, 50,000 Frenchmen were dead because of her!).

  5. Der

    I don’t have that much to comment because I’m always late to the posts these days(I work on sundays and saturdays, so I usually just binge read posts those days since my work is very relaxed on sunday) but that beard looks miles better than the last time

    Also, I would totally count as a win when I stress eat and don’t gain weight, so you should count it as a win.

    I february I finally read Under the Air by Tezuka. A friend gave it to me before we moved(july 20222) and I decided to finally read it. I have lots of mangas by Tezuka and this one is completely in the middle of those. Not the best but not the worst. It’s a short story collection so most of them are like twilight zone-like and they all have twist endings, some of them work, some of them don’t. I really liked the first one where a very, very, VERY racist man finds that he is alive because a black dude gave donated him some organs. Fun stuff

    Anyway, time to go an read the rest of the columns of this week, bye!

  6. I bought five of these books, though I’ve read none of them. Some haven’t arrived in the post yet. My backlog is huge, but I’ve been making more of a concerted effort recently. I’m working my way through most of my unread Tom King books now, so in recent weeks I’ve read through Omega Men, Vision, Sheriff of Babylon, Mister Miracle, Strange Adventures, Rorschach, and now I’m on Supergirl. (I’ve previously read and loved Superman: Up in the Sky, but I never picked up Heroes in Crisis because of what they did to my boy Wally. I have all his Batman, but that will have to wait for another day.) While I can’t say I loved all of these, I certainly find his work fascinating– sometimes more for what it says about the author than the characters. Anyway, looking forward to Love Everlasting.

    I like Panosian’s art a lot, but your description of Alice Ever After makes it sound like my least favorite movie, Sucker Punch. And that’s a similar issue I had with King’s Mister Miracle.

    I haven’t read Golden Rage yet, and maybe I’m cynical, but I definitely think even a ridiculous premise like that could happen here. A dissenting voice isn’t enough when it’s crushed under a jackboot. Sorry, I’m pretty apocalyptic about the state of the country (and the world).

    Fiction is definitely trending towards less subtext, and more supertext, but I’m fine with that. Comics as a medium works great for metaphor and literalizing these concepts. And I don’t want these kinds of ideas hidden for the sake of conservative white comfort. “On the nose” is the best place to punch somebody.

    Of course, that said, I also sympathize with folks who are tired of every story about women or minorities being about oppression. They deserve to have all kinds of stories told.

    Mine is probably an unpopular opinion, but Broadchurch season 3 was my favorite. one.

    1. Greg Burgas

      How is Sucker Punch your least favorite movie? You know almost all of Adam Sandler’s movies exist, right? 🙂

      I think supertexting the subtext isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because, as I noted, the readers have proven that they’re not too bright. It just, as you point out, runs the risk of never being about anything else. A few years ago, when I re-watched Smoke Signals, I wrote in my review something along the lines of how because it wasn’t specifically about being an Indian in the modern age it became all about being an Indian in the modern age, and it did it really well. That’s what I’m talking about (which I’m sure you could suss out, but I’m just getting rid of the subtext here!).

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