Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

What I bought, read, watched, or otherwise consumed – March 2024

“It’s nonsense to think that Americans are individualists,” Dennis Judd, an urban affairs professor at the University of Missouri’s St. Louis campus, told me. “Deep down, we are a nation of herd animals: mouselike conformists who will lay at the doorstep all our rights – if you tell us that we won’t have to worry about crime and that our property values will be protected.” (Robert Kaplan, from An Empire Wilderness)


Adventureman: Ghost Lights #1-2 by Matt Fraction (writer), Terry Dodson (penciler/colorist), Rachel Dodson (inker), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $7.98, 46 pgs, Image.

Sigh. Here are my thoughts about this, thoughts that have very little to do with the quality of the book, which I love and which Fraser, poor soul-less Fraser, does not.

1. Not issues #10 and 11? Fraction and Dodson succumbed, it seems, to the “Let’s just do #1 issues all the time!” madness that has infected comic companies over the past few decades, as these are the tenth and eleventh issues of an ongoing series, but they feel the need to subtitle it “Ghost Lights” just to get a #1 issue in there. It sucks. SUCKS!!!!!

2. Two issues? In the backmatter of the second nice fancy hardcover of this series, Fraction claimed that the next big hardcover would contain issues #10-14, but now there is no “#10,” and the third fancy hardcover was solicited in February, collecting these TWO issues. I get that it was delayed a bit (issue #9 came out in the summer of ’22, if I recall correctly), but come on, people. Two issues?

2a. Fraction and Dodson don’t strike me as the fastest people working in the industry, so I have no idea why this has been delayed. Of course, it’s possible/probable that they needed to work on other things to, you know, make money. Comics, I hear, will break your heart.

2b. BUT … I mean, aren’t the people who are buying this going to keep buying it even if they have to wait a while? I mean, I’d be perfectly happy to wait another year for the story – I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. As long as the fancy hardcovers are in print (and they really are nice), people can jump into the story. What’s the rush?

2c. And why? This isn’t a complete story – it begins minutes after issue #9 ends, and it ends with a new development that certainly will require Claire and her allies to deal with it, which I assume is what Fraction meant when he wrote that issues #10-14 will bring the first big arc of the story to a close. So this is a “#1” issue that requires you to read nine issues before it, and I assume the next issue will also be labeled “#1” with a new subtitle, and that will require you to have read eleven issues before it.

3. Why do I read comics again? They really suck sometimes, don’t they? I mean the business, not the content. Because this series is still very cool. Although … it does seem like the art is a bit rushed at times. Again, there’s no hurry! Let Terry and Rachel work!

Rating: Incomplete. I mean, how can it not be?

One totally Airwolf panel:

That’s my go-to pick-up line!

Ape-Ril Special by several creators. $5.99, 36 pgs, DC.

As you might be able to guess from when I’m posting this, this comic came out in March, in case the geniuses at DC didn’t know what month it is. I mean, could it have been that hard to delay this two weeks? Sheesh.

Anyway, I picked this up because DC’s long tradition with apes is just bizarre but often fun, and John Layman wrote the lead story, and I like supporting his work. His story is 22 pages long, which means it’s as long as a single issue used to be, and Layman manages to write a full-length adventure in it. Imagine that! Now, he has to rely on a little bit of our foreknowledge, and we ought to be familiar with Monsieur Mallah, for instance, but if you can accept that you’re reading a DC comic in which intelligent apes exist, he’s not that big a deal. The biggest problem I had with the story is that Mallah seems to have an interesting scheme to take over Gorilla City that apparently has some legal loopholes attached, but we never learn what it is. Before it can be put into practice, San Simeon, Detective Chimp, and the Monkey Prince discover the scheme, and the fighting starts. It’s fun fighting (Gleek and Beppo the Super-Monkey join the fray to fight Mallah, Silverback, Ultra-Humanite, Jackanapes, and Titano), but it’s still just fighting. We do get a clever explanation for some of the powers the evil apes display, and there’s some nice poetic justice at the end, and Karl Mostert’s art is very good. So it’s a fun tale.

The other two stories are good, too, just a bit shorter, and it’s kind of nice that all three stories are a bit connected, as they reference each other. Joshua Hale Fialkov writes a nice story in which Detective Chimp hitches a ride with a dude with a secret, and Phil Hester – who really doesn’t do enough art – adds a really nice tone to it as the guy begins to suspect our Bobo of knowing more than he lets on. Although, why a dude would be shocked with Detective Chimp starts talking when he’s already picked him up as a hitchhiker and Bobo is dressed like Sherlock Holmes is beyond me. I mean, we already know something odd is going on with the chimp, right, so talking doesn’t seem like too big a stretch! In the third story, the Monkey Prince (who’s a human teenager who transforms into the Monkey Prince???? and can detach his arms and control them telepathically?????) discovers an evil scheme by Ultra-Humanite and Eek-Gor, a mad scientist monkey, and takes care of it. Gene Luan Yang and Bernard Chang do nice work on the story, but the Monkey Prince himself is so bizarre that I can barely handle it.

It’s a nice comic – a bit spendy for the amount you get, but such is life in the new world of comics, I guess. DC apes are always fun – in small doses – and these are some groovy stories. Comics can still be a bit goofy sometimes!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I mean, it had to be referenced at some point!

Cat Fight by Andrew Wheeler (writer), Ilias Kyriazis (penciler), Auguste Kanakis (inker), Dennis Yatras (colorist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (letterer), and Alonzo Simon (collection editor). $17.99, 132 pgs, IDW.

Kyriazis has been working in American comics for a little over a decade, and as far as I know, he’s never headlined a big Marvel or DC book, and I can’t understand why. He seems like the perfect superhero artist (the first book I recall seeing his art on was a superhero book, but it was for Image), in that his style is nice and fluid, slightly cartoony without being unrealistic and with terrific fight scenes, while his layouts tend to be interesting and innovative without being confusing. His characters are well done, and Kyriazis is quite good at their facial expressions and body language, and he has a good sense of humor about the art, too, so even when it’s serious, there’s a light-heartedness to it that keeps things from being too dour. Maybe that’s it – Marvel and DC can’t have anything remotely good-humored in their serious superhero books! But I imagine Kyriazis would be able to be “serious” if he wanted to, and it mystifies me that one of the Big Two hasn’t put him on a superhero book. He has worked for them, so it’s not like they don’t know who he is. Maybe he doesn’t want to work for them too much? That could be it, I suppose. He’s just one of those artists that makes me interested in a comic, so while I don’t buy everything he draws, I am much more likely to think about getting something if he’s drawing it than if someone not as good as he is. So it is with Cat Fight, which has a decent enough hook – a young thief has to find out who killed his grandmother – herself a thief, although a much better one than Felix – while avoiding various people who think he’s the killer, because the bad guy has set him up. His grandmother had collected thieves and created an organization, and its members were fiercely loyal to her, as Felix discovers when they come after him. There are a lot of fun heists in the book, with the requisite double- and triple-crosses, and Wheeler gives us a bunch of interesting characters (a lot of the stuff is cat-themed, hence the name of the book, which does get a bit laborious, but not too much) and clever schemes, and Kryiazis draws it all with aplomb. As you know, I dig heist stories, so I’m naturally inclined to like this, but it is quite fun, and it looks great. What else could you want?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

U! S! A!

Creepy Archives volume 5 by many creators. $24.99, 222 pgs, Dark Horse.

This collects issues #21-25 of Creepy (from 1968), and they’re your usual good stuff by solid creators. There’s nifty Goodwin/Dikto story in which a dude looks in a hotel mirror and goes mad (it’s a thing). We get a Ron Parker/Tony Williamson story in which a dude rescues a hot young lady from a mob who think she’s a witch, but of course he gets more than he bargained for! There’s a beautifully drawn Tom Sutton story (written by Bill Parente) about kids observing weird things in a cemetery and deciding to do something about it. Parente also writes an Ernie Colon-drawn story about a lunar expedition that runs into unexpected terror. Parente and Sutton team up again for a werewolf story in which the afflicted dude tries to do something about it … with unexpected consequences. Goodwin and Ditko reunite for a fun story about a young wizard ignoring the sage advice of his old mentor, which never goes well! Dan Adkins gives us a gorgeously drawn story by Goodwin in which a survivor of a planetary disaster comes across horrible mutants and a hot young woman, but not everything is as it seems! Reed Crandall draws a Parente script in which a young man visits a weird castle out in the country, where he discovers horrible things, of course. Goodwin writes a story of an actor who gets a bit too into his roles, and it’s wonderfully drawn by Jerry Grandenetti. There’s a nifty Parente/Crandall story about an artist who uses a medium to become inspired, but he’s a douchebag who pushes things too far, naturally. Gene “Eugene” Colan draws a Goodwin script about people in a small town who become convinced a witch is living among them … but all is not as it seems! Yet another Goodwin story – drawn very nicely by Adkins – is about two jungle explorers who find a dinosaur in modern times, but is it really???? Finally, there’s a Goodwin/Ditko joint that allows Ditko to channel his Dr. Strange days a bit, and he’s good that, so it’s neat. There are a bunch of other stories, too, all pretty fun, and because this is a true reprint, we get letters pages and the “newsletter” in each issue, which reprints fan art, including drawings by “Nickolas” Cuti and Frank Brunner, which is kind of keen. These collections are just nifty – weird stories and good art, so what’s not to dig?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That doesn’t bode well

The Madness by J. Michael Straczynski (writer), ACO (penciler), David Lorenzo (inker), Marcelo Maiolo (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $17.99, 128 pgs, AWA Studios.

Hey, SPOILERS!!!! I mean, it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen in this book, but I’m still SPOILING it!!!!!

I’m always fascinated by the choices creators make, because when you’re writing or drawing, you are always making choices. This is a very good revenge tale in which a woman kills the Justice League, basically, and JMS makes choices about it. There are four men and three women in this faux-League, and our hero – Sarah – doesn’t kill all of them. The Wonder Woman analog survives, because she’s the only one who voted against killing Sarah in the first place (I’ll get to the plot). She asks Sarah to spare Miss Victory, a fame-obsessed hero who voted to kill Sarah because she was late for a public appearance. “Wonder Woman” manages to convince Sarah, so our hero leaves her alive. Then “Wonder Woman” goes back to Themyscira because this world sucks. There’s only one woman left, and Sarah kills her … but she’s dark-skinned – Arabic, maybe. Do you see what JMS does in this book? The two white women survive – “Wonder Woman,” despite being Greek-adjacent, is very pale-skinned, and the men and the dark-skinned woman do not. It’s very weird. JMS makes a choice about who Sarah kills and who she doesn’t kill, and it’s odd that it shakes out that way. He can’t be unaware of what he’s doing, can he? It’s just strange. I mean, Sarah herself is a blonde, all-American young woman, so that’s a thing, too. Weird.

Anyway, this is generally a terrific comic, as Sarah has a strange power set – she seems to have unlimited powers, but she can only use one at a time (there’s a reason for it, but I won’t spoil that, at least!). She’s a thief, and she steals a crap-ton of gold from a renegade member of some Arab royal family. The head of the family tells the American government that if they don’t kill her, their country won’t support the U.S. in the region, so the president calls in the Justice League, which drops a bomb on Sarah, which she survives … but her fiancé and his kids do not. This, of course, makes Sarah mad (in both ways – angry and crazy) and she goes after revenge. JMS does a very nice job showing how she goes about it … until the very end, which is a tiny bit of a letdown, but not too bad. ACO is an excellent artist, and his layouts really help with the violent and frenetic nature of the story, while his precise linework shows every tiny detail, which is very cool. I imagine Lorenzo handles the blacks, and they’re deployed very well, adding a nice contrast to Maiolo’s relatively bright colors. I got the book largely because of ACO’s art (I like JMS, but not as much as some), and he delivers. It’s a bonus that the story is so good!

Despite the somewhat odd choices about the characters, this is a pretty cool comic. Pick it up and let me know if I’m a crazy person for reading too much into this!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That can’t be good

Moon Knight volume 5: The Last Days of Moon Knight by Jed MacKay (writer), Alessandro Cappuccio (artist), Federico Sabbatini (artist), Partha Pratim (artist), Alessandro Vitti (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer), Travis Lanham (letterer), and Daniel Kirchhoffer (collection editor). $24.99, 179 pgs, Marvel.

I’m not sure why writers are obsessed with killing off the main characters in the books they write, especially when they’re corporate characters who won’t stay dead for long. Is this a diktat by the Powers-That-Be, or are all these writers just keen to kill off their main characters? MacKay has written a very interesting Moon Knight series, and if he doesn’t want to write the character anymore, why doesn’t he just quit? (I know they rebooted the comic and he’s still writing it, but it’s still not “Moon Knight” exactly, is it?) There’s very little drama here, because when was the last time a relatively popular character died and was replaced by another version of the same character and the original never returned? I mean, Wally West is probably the most successful of these, and even he didn’t last, and I doubt if Marc Spector will be gone for long. It’s frustrating, because it’s such a dumb move so that even the story of Moon Knight’s “death” lacks drama, because who cares? Sorry, I’m just grumpy about this whole thing. MacKay’s run has been pretty clever (with some exceptions), and it’s annoying that he decided to do this, because it smacks of either corporate interference (although why Marvel would want to do this is beyond me) or just bad storytelling. Either one sucks.

This is a solid enough arc (until the very end) – there’s a Black Spectre, and although the revelation of his identity doesn’t land quite as hard as it could because of … well, reasons, but I’m not getting into them here, it’s still a decent arc with a solid evil plan. Zodiac is a fun villain, and he goes through some things in this arc, and 8-Ball is not a silly as he usually is, as MacKay shows that even the goofiest villains are people, too. I’m still not in love with the idea of Moon Knights stretching back through history – I get the idea, and theoretically it works, but part of the fun of Moon Knight, the character, is wondering if Khonshu is just a figment of his imagination, but recent writers, MacKay most notably, have eliminated that notion, and it feels like the character is weaker because of it. Especially with the way Khonshu is neutered in this arc, which really doesn’t work and is a consequence of other writers, not MacKay (as far as I know). The glory of a connected universe is certainly evident in the Marvel and DC comic line, but the detriments are annoying, too. Overall, though, this is a good story, but the ending really shades it to the weaker side, sadly. MacKay has a good handle on the character, and I’ll get the next trade to see where he’s going with it and see how he’s bringing Marc back (which, I mean, come on, it’ll happen), but I didn’t love this arc. Oh well.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, ya did!

Swan Songs by W. Maxwell Prince (writer), Martin Simmonds (artist), Caspar Wijngaard (artist), Filipe Andrade (artist), Caitlin Yarsky (artist), Alex Eckman-Lawn (artist), Martín Morazzo (artist), Christ O’Halloran (artist), and Good Old Neon (lettering). $16.99, 162 pgs, Image.

This has been getting a lot of love around the town, and it’s certainly good, but not quite as good as the accolades would have you believe. I mean, just because your stories have ambiguous endings, it doesn’t mean they’re automatically masterpieces, yaknowwatimean? Prince is quite good, though, and he’s good at ambiguous endings, just not all the time. Still, this is an interesting comic about endings, and we get different artists for each issue, which is neat. Simmonds draws a story about a kid going out to get the final issue of a magazine to read to his infirm mother … while the world is ending. Simmonds has fun with the weirdness of the situation, and Prince’s point – the little things matter – is not as unsubtle as you might think. Prince seems obsessed with apocalypse and insanity, two themes that run through his writing, and this is a good example of the first. The third story, by Andrade, is another, as we get Adeline and Evan emerging from bunkers after a nuclear devastation and restarting civilization … and finding out that others have survived too, in the most tragic way possible (with Prince’s characteristic pitch-black humor thrown in). It’s a beautiful, stark story, and Prince’s final narration belabors the point just a bit, but not too bad. Insanity is the theme in both the fifth and sixth stories, the final two of the collection, with the last story being the “famous” one in which Prince parodies Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends with poems that detail a man’s descent into madness and the destruction of his family. Of course, there’s a twist in it, one that Prince is good at, and the art is charmingly creepy. The fifth story is the best one in the collection, as Prince tells the story of a man dealing with trauma in his past. It has a very strong ambiguous ending, mainly because it’s both hopeful and eerie at the same time, and Eckman-Lawn (who really doesn’t do enough work) gives us amazing, mixed-media/collage art to create an inner world of the man that is weird and terrifying and innocent. The two “worst” stories are the second and fourth – they’re not bad, just not as strong as the others. Yarsky’s story of a dude who just got out of prison and is immediately conscripted by his brother for a robbery has some things going for it – Yarsky’s art is solid, and Prince uses Mad Libs to lead us to a “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” ending, but the reason I don’t love it is that I don’t like stories in which family members extort their brothers/sisters/parents/children by saying that the extorted “owe” them, and that’s what Prince does here. It just seems so stupid, and I wish just one family member would tell the extorter to pound sand. But that’s just me. The second story features dazzling art by Wijngaard but isn’t much more than two people becoming horrible to each other in the course of a marriage, and the breaks in the romance seem idiotic and unrealistic to me. Maybe they ring true for others. It’s not a bad story, just a bit clichéd, but it is saved by the superb artwork.

This is a pretty keen comic to get – it might not be quite as good as some say, but it’s still a neat idea, and Prince has some very good writing chops, after all, so even the two weaker ones can be clever. I’m certainly glad I read it, which I can’t say about everything!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Everything should be a Point Break thing!

Time2 Omnibus by Howard Chaykin (writer/artist), Linda Lessmann (colorist), Steve Oliff (colorist), Richard Ory (colorist), Yen Nitro (colorist), and Ken Bruzenak (letterer). $34.99, 208 pgs, Image.

This collects the first two Time2 books from November 1986 and September 1987, plus a new story, plus the first “appearance” of the city in the American Flagg! Special from July 1986, plus some extras, and it’s a very nice package. Chaykin’s art in the new story is, naturally, a bit more rendered and digitized, but as we’ve seen recently, Chaykin and his colorists (in the new story, it’s Nitro) have figured out how to make digital coloring work with his style, and while it’s not quite as good as his “classic” period, it’s still better than what he was putting out 15 years ago or so. He still has the tremendous sense of design for layouts, so the new story (it’s called “Hallowed Ground0“) fits seamlessly into the book, despite looking a bit slicker than the art from 40 years ago.

I had never read the first two Time2 GNs, so I was looking forward to this (for a while; it was first solicited in October 2021 for a February ’22 release, but many things out of Chaykin’s control got in the way, I guess), and, well, it’s something, all right. In a brief essay in the back, Chaykin writes about the commercial failure of Time2, which is a shame, but he also mentions that it was an “occasionally successful attempt to translate my love of jazz, its culture, its mathematics in the telling of a story as if in a visual and narrative equivalent of Be Bop.” Well, gosh, no wonder it’s a mess. There’s a lot going on in Time2, but it does feel a bit like sound and fury signifying nothing – one of the, frankly, great things about Chaykin’s writing is that he leans into stereotypes so hard that he overcomes them in a weird way, but that means, unfortunately, when you’re trying to write a “character” piece, it can let you down. Chaykin wants to write something that’s essentially … not plotless, exactly, but “plotless” to the point where there are so many things going on that we only drop in at places and sometimes we see resolutions and sometimes we don’t. The main plots are a bit slight – the first one is ostensibly about the search for a murderer, the second one involves sex with semi-sentient robots, and the third is about urban development – but they’re also not the point. Chaykin is making larger points about the destruction of the soul and the corporatization of the world, and those are fine points, and he makes them more subtly than a lot of writers would. But it’s still all a bit of a mess, and because the characters act like they’re in a 1930s gangster movie, it’s hard for them to become “real” characters. Maxim Glory, the quasi-star of the book, is supposed to be in love with Pansy, but because they speak in such a Chaykin-esque, staccato style, it’s hard to really care about them as personalities. Usually, Chaykin’s writing style is a feature, not a bug, and even in this book, it’s often very neat, but Chaykin doesn’t switch when he wants to concentrate more on the characters, and that weakens things. Still, it’s very much like jazz, I guess – all over the place and kind of obnoxious!

Still, this is a neat package, and it’s a good comic to own, and it’s another example of why Chaykin is kind of a sneaky-great comics creator. Yes, the literati of the comics scene have been in love with Chaykin forever, but I’m not sure his reputation among the masses is as high as it should be, thanks mostly to him doing so little of what we think of as “mainstream” books. But his love of the medium is obvious, and his command of the page is superb (and, as always, Bruzenak’s letters are brilliant), and he really does challenge the readers, both in his writing and his art. There’s nothing wrong with that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Time for some tough-guy talk!

World’s Finest volume 1: The Devil Nezha by Mark Waid (writer), Dan Mora (artist), Tamra Bonvillain (colorist), Aditya Bidikar (letterer), and Paul Kaminski (collection editor). $17.99, 120 pgs, DC.

It’s perhaps a mark of how crappy superhero comics have been in the past 20 years that this comic is #9 on the Comic Book Resources list for “best comics of 2023,” (although, of course, people were voting on issues much later than this one, thanks to DC’s asinine trade paperback policy, which has this out in softcover TWO GODDAMNED YEARS after issue #1 came out), because this is merely a fairly decent superhero comic – nothing wildly special, but it doesn’t do anything really wrong, either. Waid knows how to write a superhero comic, and that’s just what he does – gives us a pretty good threat, brings in a bunch of guest stars (the Doom Patrol is the big guest star, but when Hal Jordan is acting like a douchebag – a mind-controlled douchebag, sure, but still – then you know you’re reading a solid DC superhero comic!), and just has a good time with it. As Greg Hatcher used to like to say, a book like this should be the baseline, but over the years, we’ve been treated to such garbage from DC and Marvel that something like this is lauded as superb. It’s not, but it’s still very enjoyable. Batman and Superman treat each other with respect, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and work together well. The bad guy is generic, but in a good way – he presents a problem for both heroes in a realistic way. The solution to their problem requires them to use their strengths, and it’s nice and clever. There’s time travel, too! Of course, Waid is helped a lot by Mora, who’s absolutely superb on the book. He draws a bunch of DC heroes, he draws the bad guy really well, he alters his style a bit when the Doom Patrol is telling a story about the past, and he keeps the action clear and moving along even though he has to draw a lot of stuff. Mora is one of those artists that, when you first saw his work, you knew he’d be excellent doing superhero work, and what do you know? he is!

This is a just a fun superhero book. Waid isn’t trying to do anything crazy, he’s just telling solid stories. It’s too bad this isn’t the baseline, but at least we’re getting this!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Cheery Batman is the Best Batman!


Born Losers: A History of Failure in America by Scott A. Sandage. 362 pgs, 2005, Harvard University Press.

This is a good, if a bit wonky, book. I’ve said before that it’s tough to be both a good historian and a good writer; I’ve read books by good historians that are written somewhat poorly, and books by good writers in which the history might be off a bit, and this is a very good example of the former. Sandage is a historian at Carnegie Mellon University, and this book began life as his doctoral thesis in 1995, and it certainly reads like one at times. It’s extremely well researched, but it’s tough to get through the weeds sometimes. Sandage is writing about 19th-century business and how the idea of failing in business became less about simply that and more about how the actual person was a failure, and how society decided that failing at business was somehow a moral failure, which is still a big part of our cultural thinking. He basically begins with the Panic of 1819 and ends with the Panic of 1893, but the book is not chronological, but thematic, and Sandage has access to a lot of primary documents, so it’s very thorough. The period was when capitalism became the biggest economic mover in the country, as people moved from the country to the city, and American individualism became a thing, so that if you failed, there was something wrong with you. Of course, people pushed back against this, and a good deal of the book details the depression and anxiety that men (mostly men, of course, because of the time period) suffered because of this societal pressure on them and their feelings of worthlessness when they didn’t measure up. We think of depression and anxiety as far more modern problems, but it’s clear from Sandage’s research that it was a big issue in the 1800s. He also looks at the history of credit investigation, as he spends about 90 pages in the middle of the book looking at the first credit bureau, Lewis Tappan’s Mercantile Agency (which was established in 1841) and its successors and the development of credit reporting and even a society that keeps tabs on its members with no assumption of privacy (which Tappan and others did far better in this time period than the government did). He looks at black men in the post-Civil War period, and how Frederick Douglass claimed that the way former slaves could become equal is if they had the opportunity to fail – a strange but compelling way to look at it. He also goes into the idea of letter-writing to rich men like John D. Rockefeller, who received thousands of letters from petitioners – both men and women – asking for a chance to redeem themselves after their businesses failed. The United States moved slowly when it came to bankruptcy laws, and Sandage links that slow movement to these letter writers, who were ashamed to be failures but thought if they could just get a small chance to make it right, they would be useful members of society again. It’s a fascinating book, but because Sandage is a historian, it can be a bit of a slog (see: 90 pages on credit bureaus!). It feels like he doesn’t know when to stop, or he wants to make sure he uses all his sources to prove his point, because he quotes from journals, letters, and the Tappan Agency’s Big Book of Bad Credit (N.B.: not the actual name) liberally, and while it certainly helps him make his case, it doesn’t improve the reading experience. It is a very interesting look into the “dark side” of American capitalism and gives a voice to people you don’t normally read about in history books – we all know Rockefeller and Carnegie, but we’re much more likely to be more akin to those who don’t become billionaires, but it is a bit tough to chew on. But hey, I dig weird history like this!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears) by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling. 286 pgs, 2020, PublicAffairs.

My wife listens to several political podcasts (she works from home, so she doesn’t have to worry about bothering people around her, and she wears ear buds anyway), and she heard this dude in an interview on one of them and thought the book sounded interesting, so she bought it for me for Christmas and I thought it would be nice to read it, which is why it’s “out of order” in my reading, as I’m supposed to be reading books by authors whose last name begins with “S” right now. But I made an exception! This is a fun book, despite a somewhat dark subject matter – I enjoy reading books about attempts to create utopias, because people, in general, are dicks, and if they try to create a utopia, they usually end up burning it all down (literally or figuratively) because they’re all dicks. This book is about Grafton, New Hampshire, which early in this century became a locus for libertarians, as New Hampshire is notoriously anti-tax anyway and Grafton even more so, luring libertarians to its wide-open wackiness, where they managed to take over the town council and begin slashing every government service they could think of. Naturally, Grafton became a ghost town in about a decade, and Hongoltz-Hetling has a nice symbolic representation of the foolishness of the libertarian way of life (although he very rarely criticizes it outright): the bears. New Hampshire has a substantial bear population, and the Fish and Game Service is severely underfunded in general, so the bears encroach a lot on the citizens, and in no place was this encroachment bolder than in Grafton, where the citizens had very little recourse for said encroachment. Hongoltz-Hetling goes back and forth between the bear problem and the way the libertarians moved in and took over, and it’s interesting to see where those two things intersect and how the people deal with them. It’s not too difficult to link the libertarians with the bears themselves – they’re both moving into an area already occupied by others and making nuisances of themselves – even though Hongoltz-Hetling doesn’t do it himself. He gives us odd and interesting characters and tries very hard not to judge, even though it’s clear he thinks the libertarians are wildly misguided. They’re people, after all, and with most people, even if they hold some weird and occasionally reprehensible ideas, if you talk to them for a while, they become more sympathetic, and Hongoltz-Hetling does a decent job making these people at least comprehensible, even if their ideas tend to be foolish and regressive. He does a good job writing about bears, too, giving us some context for their boldness and appreciation for their majesty. It’s an interesting book because the experiment in libertarianism was an utter failure and really can’t be called anything but, yet, of course, the libertarians can’t really admit it, even at the end of the book. Without making too big a deal about it, Hongoltz-Hetling highlights human hubris (how’s that for alliteration?), and it becomes a book about the foolishness of humanity in the face of stark evidence of their failures. I mean, we all do it – believe that we are right even if facts prove us wrong, but the issue is that when enough people get together and put their wrong ideas into practice, others can really suffer. The bear incursions, exacerbated a bit by the laissez-faire attitude the Graftonians took toward local government, don’t cause any deaths, but a few bears do attack people and cause some dire bodily harm, which leads to the libertarians taking matters into their own hands. It’s “only” bears, but it shows the irrationality of so many so-called “utopian thinkers” – people who believe their way is right no matter what. It only affected a small town in New Hampshire, but Hongoltz-Hetling wrote this during the Trump presidency, and we’re still in this period in which people have no faith in government (less than they used to, it seems) and are willing to tear everything down just to get their way. The book can be funny and charming and goofy, but the underlying themes are chilling. But hey, bears are neat!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


Astrid season 2 (PBS). Lola Dewaere (as Raphaëlle, the cop) and Sara Mortensen (as Astrid, the archivist) are back in this French cop drama, in which Dewaere gets Mortensen’s help on tough cases because Astrid is so darned clever. Astrid is autistic, and I noted when I wrote about the first season that the show actually does deal with her autism, and that continues in this season, as she keeps up with her support group (and gets help from them at different moments) and starts getting weird feelings in her loins for the nephew of the grocer from whom she buys food. He’s dreamy, all right! Their dates, hilariously, consist early on of simply sitting (at a respectful distance from each other) on a park bench, but the romance does evolve a bit. Dewaere, meanwhile, hooks up with an old flame who’s also a prosecuting attorney, which does not go well as the season progresses. The cases remain fascinating, and the final episode does give us some new drama leading into the third season, so we’ll see where that goes. Dewaere and Mortensen are so good together that the parts of the show where they’re not discussing the cases are some of my favorite moments. It’s just a good cop show that attempts to deal with the issues that people with autism have in a pretty realistic way. That’s keen.

Miss Scarlet and the Duke season 4 (PBS). Stuart Martin, the “Duke” in the title, has left the show, which makes the title a bit misleading, if you ask me. I couldn’t find much about Martin’s departure – he gave an interview in which he said it was his choice, but who knows if that’s just propaganda – and it happens with two episodes left, so it feels weird because each season is only six episodes long. I assume it was done so Eliza’s boss, Patrick Nash (Felix Scott), can take on a bigger role in preparation for season 5, but it still feels weird. The show was not only about Eliza’s job as a private detective in the male-dominated world of 1880s London, it was also about her contentious relationship with lifelong friend and Scotland Yard inspector William Wellington, and while their professional relationship never made a ton of sense (he knows she’s a good detective, but he constantly doesn’t want her help?), the fact that neither could admit they loved each other because of decorum was a decent way to go, and in this season, the Duke finally told her that he loved her … before immediately leaving for New York, because the in-story explanation for his departure is that he can’t have a relationship with her the way things are, which makes no sense. I get that perhaps he wants a family and Eliza can’t give that to him because she’s so focused on her job, but he had a chance to hook up with a nice rich lady in Season 3 but didn’t, because she understood that he loved Eliza before he did. So if he didn’t want to make a family with a woman who was willing, why would want to with the woman he actually loves? There’s also not a lot of indication that he cares all that much about having a family, so why can’t he and Eliza hook up and they both continue to work? Well, because Martin wanted to leave the show, of course. It’s frustrating, but oh well. Kate Phillips is fun to watch, and she and Felix Scott have a good dynamic, so perhaps Season 5 will work, but I wonder if they should have just had Eliza and William hook up and end the show on a happy note. We shall see.

Funny Woman (PBS). Gemma Arterton stars as a Blackpool beauty queen who gives up her title moments after she wins it to head to London and become an actor in 1964 in this show based on a Nick Hornby novel. It’s a pretty good show and not at all like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, no sir!!!! I mean, Arterton is funny but stars in a British sitcom, not as a stand-up comic – it’s completely different! It’s actually a pretty good show – Arterton is quite good as Barbara, who’s called Sophie Straw by her agent because her real name is too boring – and the cast around is good, too. Arterton does physical comedy excellently, at a Lucille Ball level (Ball is one of Barbara’s heroes), and while the story hits some clichés, it’s generally engaging. She works at a department store briefly but is fired for missing one day or work, so she does some skeevy stuff that her agent (played very well by a very old-looking Rupert Everett, who manages to be both fatherly and creepy in equal measure) gets for her before she sneaks into an audition and impresses Arsher Ali, a producer, and Matthew Beard and Leo Bill, the writers on a sitcom. Soon she’s in the show, sleeping with her co-star Tom Bateman and stealing his limelight a bit (which, thankfully, he doesn’t seem to mind all that much … until he does, in a completely organic way). Arterton befriends Claire-Hope Ashitey, playing a journalist who has to deal with being both a woman and black in a time that doesn’t seem to respect either, and Ali has to deal with racism as well, but the show manages to get these things into it without being too blunt about it. Honestly, the biggest problem I have with the show is that Arterton is too old for the part. Barbara is supposed to be an ingenue, and Arterton was 36 when it was filmed, and although she’s still gorgeous, she can’t really pull off 19/20, which it feels like Barbara is. That’s not really Arterton’s fault, I know – she’s an executive producer, and it sounds like she worked to get it onto the screen, so she deserves to act in it, and she also shows range that she might not have had earlier in her career – but for me, at least, it was there, and it made for a strange disconnect between the shit Barbara has to go through, because the character has no idea what she’s in for, but because Arterton is a bit older, she can’t hide that she, personally, has already been through some shit. At least that’s how I felt about it. Still, it’s a nice series, and a second season is coming, and that should be nifty.

The Woman in the Wall (Showtime). This is a show about the murder of an Irish priest, but it’s really about the “Magdalene laundries” and “mother and baby homes” that the Catholic Church ran in Ireland for decades, with young girls abandoned by their families for one reason or another (usually pregnancy out of wedlock) working in slave-like conditions for the nuns, who abused them horribly. It’s a very well-done show, with Ruth Wilson killing it (as usual) as Lorna, who gave birth in the mid-1980s as a teenager and had her baby taken away by the nuns. In the present, she’s a very damaged woman living in her Western Ireland town – she sleepwalks and does weird things, so she’s trying to stay awake, which of course leads her to hallucinations and other strange things. She gets a note that says it can help her find her daughter, but before anything can happen with that, she wakes up the next morning and finds a corpse in her house and no idea how the woman got there. So, naturally, she puts the woman in the wall (I mean, that’s just logical). Said woman, apparently, was a novice who never took final vows at the convent where Lorna was kept, and she was trying to find out what happened to the babies. Colman Akande (Daryl McCormack), a Dublin detective who is himself a product of a mother and baby home, is trying to figure out who killed the priest, whom he knew back when he was a kid. Meanwhile, the local cop, Simon Delaney, is willing to help McCormack but is also not willing to rock the boat too much. The plot goes deeper and deeper as Colman and Lorna, separately and then together, begin figuring out what the hell is going on, and of course it ain’t pleasant. The cast is solid, and the mystery is horrific and tragic, and we get a lot of viewpoints about what was going on in the church for such a long time, and while we can’t excuse what they did, it’s interesting that so many people who might not have known how bad it was are involved. It’s well worth a look.


Here’s the money I spent in March:

6 March: $34.72
13 March: $72.83
20 March: $11.00 (!!!!)
27 March: $181.33

Money spent in March: $299.88
(Mar. ’23: $593.64)
(Mar. ’22: $1231.66) (So, in March of 2022, I spent almost as much as I have so far this year!)
(Mar. ’21: $562.89)
YTD: $1256.09
(2023: $1419.79)
(2022: $2762.87)
(2021: $1639.44)

Here are the publishers from which I bought comics this month!

AWA Studios: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Dark Horse: 1 (1 single issue)
DC: 4 (1 “classic” reprint, 2 single issues, 1 trade paperback)
IDW: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Image: 2 (1 single issue, 1 trade paperback)
Marvel: 2 (1 “classic” reprint, 1 trade paperback)
MCD Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)

2 “classic” reprints (11)
1 graphic novel (12)
0 manga volumes (2)
4 single issues (18)
5 trade paperbacks (22)

So far this year, that gives us this:

Ablaze: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 graphic novel)
About Comics: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 “classic” reprint)
Abrams: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 graphic novel)
Ahoy: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 trade paperback)
Antarctic: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 trade paperback)
AWA: 0 + 1 + 1 (2 trade paperbacks)
Boom! Studios: 1 + 1 + 0 (1 “classic” reprint, 1 trade paperback)
Clover Press: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 graphic novel)
Dark Horse: 3 + 3 + 1 (3 “classic” reprints, 3 single issues, 1 trade paperback)
DC: 1 + 3 + 4 (1 “classic” reprint, 5 single issues, 2 trade paperbacks)
Fairsquare Comics: 1 + 0 + 0 (1 trade paperback)
First: 1 + 0 + 0 (1 graphic novel)
First Second Books: 1 + 0 + 0 (1 graphic novel)
IDW: 0 + 0 + 1 (1 trade paperback)
Image: 4 + 3 + 2 (1 “classic” reprint, 5 single issues, 3 trade paperbacks)
Invader Comics: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 graphic novel)
Mad Cave Studios: 2 + 1 + 0 (1 graphic novel, 2 trade paperbacks)
Marvel: 3 + 3 + 2 (4 “classic” reprints, 2 single issues, 2 trade paperbacks)
MCD Books: 0 + 0 + 1 (1 graphic novel)
Oni Press: 1 + 0 + 0 (1 trade paperback)
Penthouse: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 single issue)
Scout: 1 + 0 + 0 (1 single issue)
SLG: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 graphic novel)
Titan Comics: 0 + 4 + 0 (1 graphic novel, 1 single issue, 2 trade paperbacks)
TKO Studios: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 trade paperback)
Top Shelf: 1 + 0 + 0 (1 graphic novel)
Vault: 1 + 0 + 0 (1 trade paperback)
Viz Media: 0 + 2 + 0 (2 manga volumes)
A Wave Blue World: 0 + 1 + 0 (1 graphic novel)

You’ll notice the far fewer comics I bought this month. I’ve been cutting back on comics I buy, of course, but this was a bit unusual. We shall see, moving forward, if this is a trend or not. I just turned in my Previews order form for March, and it was a bit long, so I suspect the numbers will go back up, but nothing like what I used to get. I don’t have the time, and it’s harder to find comics that appeal to me anymore, because I’ve read so many of them. You know the drill!


Man, I used to write a lot more under the asterisks, didn’t I? I just can’t be bothered with politics these days, because it’s too depressing. I’m still going to vote and I encourage everyone to do so (unless you’re planning on voting for the Big Orange Baboon, in which case, maybe just stay home?), and I still pay attention a bit, but whenever I see a story about politics, it usually just bums me out and I don’t feel like sharing. I will say, that as depressing as the story is, I did enjoy this headline: “White supremacist fitness clubs are fat-shaming Trump supporters and plotting a race war”. I mean, fuck the heck is up with that? These are the kinds of stories we see these days, and it just makes me want to crawl into a hole. What the hell is wrong with people, anyway?

Last March, I posted a lot of goofy stuff from the NCAA basketball tournament, but I have been paying even less attention to that this year than I did last year. I’ve never been the biggest basketball fan, but when I worked in an office, we would do a pool, of course (which I actually won one year, so that was nice). Ever since I haven’t been working in that kind of environment, I don’t pay attention to college basketball hardly at all, and this year my interest has slipped even more notches. Oh well. Weird things have happened, I’m sure!

I have been playing tennis, as usual, which is fun. As bad as the summers are here, we are able to play outdoor sports pretty much year-round (as long as you stay well hydrated and sun-screened in the summer!), so it’s nice to play tennis in the sunshine all year. Of course, because I’m a crazy person, I often get injured. Here are some recent boo-boos:

A few weeks ago I was chasing down a ball and I fell, hence the scraped knee. This past week I was playing at the net (we generally play doubles) and one of the dudes I was playing against hit the ball into my doughy center, giving me that nice bruise. Tennis: A full contact sport!

Other than that, things have been quiet here in my little corner of the world. I’m still waiting to here whether I’m going to be a substitute teacher – apparently the process is a bit convoluted, so it takes a bit, but it should be soon. Of course, the school year here is almost over, so maybe I’ll have to wait until July to start working, but we’ll see. I might soon be a productive member of society again soon!

It’s Easter today, and while I don’t really care about it, if you’re doing Easter things, have fun! I always find it interesting that the Christian churches can decide on a fixed date for when Jesus was born, but not for the much more important event of his resurrection. That’s a floating holiday! If we’re supposed to believe that Jesus actually lived and rose from the dead, it might help to pin down a definitive date for that thing, I would think. But what do I know? I’m just a silly atheist. Happy Easter, everyone!

Finally, I didn’t get a chance to listen to all the music you guys recommended for me. I got to a few of them, but not all of them. I will have a lot to say next month about them, so look forward to that. Thanks again for recommending music, and if you feel like giving me some more suggestions, feel free!

How’s everyone? Doing ok? Remember: Don’t let the bastards get you down!


  1. fit2print

    This may be the finest sentence I’ve ever read on the site:

    “Still, it’s very much like jazz, I guess – all over the place and kind of obnoxious!”

    I’m at the point in my life where I do little more than, I don’t want to say “hate-read” Chaykin but it’s something along those lines. As you suggest … and I think this applies to Chaykin’s writing generally: “It’s all a bit of a mess.” But, dammit, what a gloriously designed, drawn, colored and lettered bugfuck insane mess it always is! It’s damn near irresistible! Well, it might actually be tough to resist were it not for the prohibitively high price of this particular book , but still…

    On Adventureman, kinda wish you had gone into detail on why you like it so much. Based on my reading of the first book (if you reviewed the series previously, I may have missed the post(s)), I am very much on Team Fraser. Stellar visuals but that story (such as it is), well, the less said the better…

    On a separate note, you have very eclectic taste in TV, which is to say I am way too out of touch to have even heard of any of these shows (that tends to go double for the music recommendations you sometimes include). That said, Astrid sounds really intriguing. Thanks for the tip…

    1. Greg Burgas

      Thanks for the compliment. I like that sentence, too!

      I reviewed Adventureman #1 here and the first arc here, and I get into some detail. I just enjoy the adventure of it all, and the odd “real world-versus-fictional world” works for me. To each his own, though – if it’s not for you, it’s not for you!

      Astrid is pretty keen – in many ways, it’s just a regular police procedural, but the nice work they do with her character brings it up a notch.

  2. “I’m not sure why writers are obsessed with killing off the main characters in the books they write, especially when they’re corporate characters who won’t stay dead for long.” I’m starting to think that the current approach is “write this like an out-of-continuity series but put everything back in place when you finish.”
    My soul is too pure for Adventureman. Regardless, two issues for a hardcover is piss-poor.
    I read the American Flag/Time2 intro issue and wasn’t impressed at all.
    I think your take on WF is good. It’s fun but yes, it should be the baseline, not a high point.

  3. Eric van Schaik

    I’ll wait for the Adventureman storie to get collected as a oversized HC.
    I’m at the point that I’m reading a lot of old stuff and sell what I don’t want to re-read anymore.

    Concerts: Just 1!!
    3/29 Mika
    I’m not a fan of him, but my wife is and she goes to almost all my concerts so I took one for the team. I must admit that he put a lot of energy (and different clothing) into the show. We both had a blast.
    Shirt: hell no 🙂

    Not much happening in Holland. The 4 party’s are still negotiating to form a new government. Let’s see what happens first: me getting 61 (on Halloween) or the new government.

    Recently I past a second hand record store and was happy to find some nice cd’s and dvd’s (Dream Theater, Rush and Transatlantic for € 5 or € 10. I had the same happy feeling as the late Greg Hatcher had after scoring something nice.

    Next month no concerts because we’ll have a vacation in Morocco for 3 weeks.

    I’ll end with some music I really like, and hopefully you too:

    The Pineapple Thief – To forget
    Gazpacho – Massive Illusion
    Gojira – The Gift Of Guilt
    Iamthemorning – Belighted (the song, not the album)

  4. Der

    There no anime recommendations this month from me, it was a busy month and didn’t have any time to watch something new(just finished Carole and Tuesday, it took us a while to finish a short show so yeah, busy)

    But this month was my birthday! I was born in march 8th and was celebrated as it should be: Eating tacos. A friend also got me a book, The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. I just read the first story and it was good, let’s hope the book keep the same quality in the rest of the stories.

    Also as a birthday celebration we went to a large comic convention(the largest in the country) called “La mole” in Mexico City, so we went, did some touristy stuff in the city and went to the convention. It was really really big and full of people.

    I used to work with a friend in a comic convention in another city, but man this was big and really cool. Lots of artists(John Romita Jr was there, also Peach Momoko), lots of cosplayers and lots of stands selling expensive stuff. But sadly not many stands with old used comics at cheap prices 🙁

    So anyway, since you can buy cheap comics in the internet at anytime, I decided that this was the year I was going to finally buy some art. I never do so I went looking and got some nice things: Two prints from an artist called CF Villa(well, I got one and he gave my kid another one for free, nice dude). My wife got some stickers from other stand and I went and got a poster from a dude called Joel Ojeda. I really liked this poster so I asked for an Atomic Robo comission from him. It looks really nice and I will eventually frame it.

    And remember that I said that there was no old comics for cheap prices? Well, I lied because I found a hardcover(but translated) “damaged” copy of Born Again for like less than $10 usd. A steal because the “damage” was a crease in the dustjacket. In fact I damaged it more because I dropped the thing to the floor. Ups. But I don’t really care about the damage as long as is readable(it is) and cheap(it was)

    Also also, I decided to start a blog! I will put the link in another post so this one doesn’t go to moderation, but the blog is in spanish, so I don’t think you can read it but whatever, I’m blogging just because, mostly about comics and videogames but hey, at least I’m writting stuff again, so yay for me.

    1. Der

      ok, here are the links/images just in case this gets eaten by moderation or something:

      My blog is here: https://concretehermits.blogspot.com/
      It might not be the best looking but is a work in progress, I’ll work on it

      Also the loot, first the Atomic Robo comission(beware, crappy camera pics incoming):

      This one is the print that CF Villa gave my kid, she liked it and he just, gave it to her, very nice of him:

      Also I got this print from the same artist, is of a old school mexican comic/radio drama/movie character called Kaliman and believe me, he never looked cooler than this:

      This one is a Superman/Iron Giant poster from Alex Ojeda, I need to watch the movie again:

      1. Greg Burgas

        That’s a nice Atomic Robo.

        Sounds like a fun birthday celebration. I miss cons – the one in Phoenix is in May, and I’ll probably go, but it’s not huge, and I miss the big ones.

        That’s a good deal on Born Again. It’s so good!!!!!

        Have fun blogging! It I were more cosmopolitan, I could read Spanish, but I’m just an ignorant gringo, so I can’t. 🙁

        1. Der

          Why would you want to read spanish, when you have the glorious language of FREEDOM!!!(eagle soars in the background)

          Just kidding obviously. I did my blog in spanish because I’m way more confident(not competent, just confident) in my spanish than my english. If I had more confidence in my english I would just post in english, but translating in my head before typing is a pain in the ass when you want to write a long post)

  5. Of these, I ordered the Ape-Ril special (the banana-scented variant cover) and World’s Finest, but they haven’t arrived yet.

    Speaking of Layman, I read the In Hell We Fight! TP. Solid, but I didn’t love it as much as Chew or Outer Darkness. Always try to check out Layman stuff, though. It seemed he was about to give up on comics not too long ago, but I’m glad he’s stuck around.

    Still trying to catch up on my huge backlog of comics. I continue to buy and love all the Mark Russell comics, so I quite liked Second Coming v3. I enjoyed Love Everlasting v2 more than v1. I dug v2 of the All-Nighter but wish it had more room to explore its various plot avenue. I also enjoyed Zdarsky’s first Batman trade. It’s not “my” Batman, but it’s entertaining, kinda ballsy that he’s using stuff like Tower of Babel and Zur en Arrh, and the Jorge Jimenez art is spectacular.

    Finally caught up with 20th Century Men which everybody said was a masterpiece. In the first couple issues, I felt I was too dumb to get a good handle on it, but eventually I got on its wavelength. I don’t think I loved it as much as everyone else– it feels like it needs to be longer to fully explore the characters or situations, or maybe, again, I’m too dumb to get it. Very interesting read, though.

    Read the last volume of Time Before Time, and it’s a solid ending. It reminds me f the end of Cosmic Detective, in that the stories tell us that capitalism is an evil which can’t be defeated and our time is better spent hugging our kids or doing something else with our lives– but I find that kind of depressingly defeatist. Time Before Time handled it a little better for me, though. At least some bad guys get comeuppance and the grace note epilogue is sweet. And in Time Before Time, the world gets to go on– whereas in Cosmic Detective, there’s much more of a sense of impending doom (just like real life!).

    Also read The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott by Zoe Thorogood, which I know you loved. I liked it. Story-wise, it definitely feels like a young person’s early work– reminds me of what I would try for in college writing classes– but I found the ending emotionally affecting, and the cartooning very strong.

    Currently a couple chapters into The Witches of World War II. Very Paul Cornell, in that it’s very British and magickal. And you were right, it has an interesting smell to it.

    That’s enough of me rambling about comics. I’m also trying to cut back (it’s mainly an issue of storage space at this point), but I’m failing. Marvel’s suddenly reprinting a bunch of material I never expected to see reprinted, and maybe it’s just me, but DC is like the best it’s been in 30 years? Plus I’m constantly discovering new-to-me creators and rolling the dice on stuff from indie publishers more than I had in the past.

    So you only watch British TV now? I did watch The Woman in the Wall, and while initially I didn’t think I’d stick with it, it ended up sucking me in. Ruth Wilson is great and the “mystery” aspect of it became less interesting than the character-based stuff around Irish culture and the laundry/mother-and-baby stuff. I thought the ending was going to be twistier.

    Nearly caught up on Star Trek Discovery. I’ve never subscribed to Paramount Plus, but it’s become available on Showtime On Demand, and it looks like they’ll carry the new season, too. I guess the Trek nerds don’t love this series, but it’s grown on me.

    Also quite like The Regime on HBO. That Kate Winslet is an up-and-comer!

    1. Greg Burgas

      It’s just a coincidence that we watched so much British television in a row. I try to check out what’s on PBS on Sunday night, and recently, they’ve been showing a lot that I’m interested in (as opposed to All Creatures Great and Small or things like that, which I’m not interested in), so I’ve been DVRing it. Right now we’re watching the latest season of Hightown, which is not British at all!

      I’m waiting to watch The Regime in a binge, but it does look wacky!

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