Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
 

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

“You are someone who does not understand what freedom is. And above all that the better you understand it, the less you possess of it.” (John Fowles, from The Magus)

COMICS

All Eight Eyes by Steve Foxe (writer), Piotr Kowalski (artist), Brad Simpson (colorist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (letterer), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $19.99, 96 pgs, Dark Horse.

One of the things that has happened now that Dark Horse isn’t a “premier” publisher anymore in Previews is that I don’t know how long the mini-series are. Back in the day, as I’ve noted before, if a mini-series from Dark Horse was four issues, I would buy it in single issues, but if it was five issues, I would get the trade. Dark Horse prices all of its trades of four or five issues at 20 bucks, so a five-issue mini-series is fine to get in trade, but a four-issue mini-series is too much at 20 dollars, as getting the single issues would be 16 dollars. It’s kind of annoying. This series is four issues, so I spent more money on this as a trade, which bugs me. Stupid Dark Horse!

Anyway, this is a fun horror story, set not long after September 11th (2003, so not right after, but soon enough) for pretty good reasons, in which Vin, a young dude with not a lot of prospects in life (he’s lost his apartment and he doesn’t seem to have a job), happens to see a homeless-looking dude apparently killing another man, but it turns out he was trying to protect the dude from … a giant spider. Yep, it’s a giant spider story! Vin ends up joining Reynolds, who’s on a crusade to kill all the spiders, and they find an ally in a Parks & Rec employee whose boss is kind of a tool (he’s the kind of character who has to exist in this kind of story, because we’re just waiting for a giant spider to kill him). Foxe does a nice thing in not giving us any reason for giant spiders wandering around New York – Reynolds says he doesn’t know why they exists, he says a few ways they could exist, but then we all move on to the giant spider-killin’. You know what you like, you sadists!

I mean, there’s not a lot of depth here. Reynolds has a reason for killing spiders, and Foxe does make some points about why New Yorkers in general ignore the giant spiders, and it’s not a bad one, but basically, we’re here to watch two dudes kill giant spiders. Kowalski is good for this, because his line work is often ragged, so he does well with the “furry” spiders, but he’s also not flashy, so his New York looks like a nice, run-down place that just looks like it would be a good place for giant spiders to hang out in. Kowalski doesn’t get to draw too much gore, but when he does, he has fun with it. I like Kowalski’s art quite a bit, and I like how he does things that fit right into his wheelhouse, so his art never looks weird in the story that he’s drawing. He knows his lane, and so his comics always look good. Simpson does a good job on the colors, as the book is drab for the most part but never really dark, so when Simpson uses reds for the spiders’ eyes, they really pop. Simpson is a good colorist, so the book looks good. Simple!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Not much else you can say!
Nina Blackwood, 1978

Breath of Shadows by Rich Douek (writer), Alex Cormack (artist), Justin Birch (letterer), and Alonzo Simon (collection editor). $17.99, 110 pgs, IDW.

I haven’t loved these three horror series that Douek and Cormack have done together, but they’ve been pretty solid stories nevertheless, and I like Cormack’s art, so that’s enough. The frustrating thing is that it feels like they’re not long enough – they’ve been five issues (I think they’ve all been five), which is fine, but in each of them, Douek gets to the horror quickly, so it’s hard to really have a good feel for the characters. In this book, he gives us a slightly bigger and diverse cast, which works pretty well, but they’re still fairly stereotypical – the heroin-using bad boy rock star, his fed-up band mates, his enabling manager, two fame-hungry anthropologists, a fame-hungry journalist, a Mexican local who wants all the gringos to fuck right out of there. Jimmy Meadows, the main character, heads down to the Mexican jungle in 1968 to find a mystical cure for his heroin addiction, and of course things go horribly, horribly wrong. Unlike the creators’ first two collaborations, Douek actually gets into the deep psychological and emotional issues these people, most of whom are fame whores, have, but it’s still too short to really go into it with any depth, and while I appreciate the effort, I wish it hadn’t felt so clichéd. I mean, when white Yanquis go into the jungle, you know shit is going to go down! Still, it’s decent enough, and Cormack’s art is superb as usual, although, like their previous comic, it occasionally gets really dark and hard to read. It’s not all the time, but I wonder why some panels have to be so damned dark. It’s annoying. But he still does a terrific job with a big cast, and he gets to draw a lot of centipedes, which I imagine was enjoyable. This, like the previous two Douek/Cormack stories, is a pretty good horror story. I just wish for more!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and dispute that
1973

Demon Wars by Peach Momoko (writer/artist), Zack Davisson (adapter/dialoguer), Ariana Maher (letterer), and Jennifer Grünwald (collection editor). $34.99, 120 pgs, Marvel.

Momoko is doing the new Ultimate X-Men book, which makes me think that Marvel really doesn’t know what it’s doing. I like Momoko’s art, of course, and her writing is … fine, I guess – nothing special, but nothing embarrassing, either. She’s a perfectly cromulent creator, and I know Marvel wants to use her. However … she seems to have a very specific wheelhouse, and I’m not sure she’s ready to move out of that, and if Marvel wants to sell a regular, monthly comic by Momoko (how soon before she can’t keep up with the art? 3 issues? 2?), they probably don’t want to use Momoko unless she’s doing the art, because what’s the point if she’s not? Her manga-influenced art is gorgeous, to be sure (and it’s why I get this kind of book in Marvel’s Treasury Edition format, because it’s amazing when it’s bigger), but it doesn’t really appeal to people who buy monthly comics in the single-issue format. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it until it’s not true – younger people might read comics, but they don’t really get monthly single issues, and the people buying those are older white dudes who don’t really dig Momoko. They might like her covers, but that’s a cover. Younger people might get this kind of book once it’s been collected, but I don’t think they’re going to commit to a monthly title even if Momoko is doing it. Marvel has to know this, right? Am I wrong? I rarely see kids in the comic book store buying regular Marvel/DC superhero books, and I can’t imagine they’re getting single issues on-line like they’re living in the future or something. And Momoko’s whole style looks manga-ish, which is fine for the young kids but doesn’t make older readers happy (I mean, I dig it, but I’m weird). So you’re probably not going to get younger people to read Ultimate X-Men, and you’re probably not going to get older people to read it. That seems sub-optimal.

But, I mean, what do I know? I’m sure Marvel execs thought about this, or Jonathan Hickman thought about this, or Momoko herself thought about this before they dove in. I’m just a schnook. I’m sure Ultimate X-Men will be a huge success!

What’s that? Demon Wars? It’s fine. Beautiful and shallow and on-brand. No regerts!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Seems like a reasonable request
Tina Louise

Guardians of the Galaxy volume 1: Grootfall by Collin Kelly (writer), Jackson Lanzing (writer), Kev Walker (artist), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer), Travis Lanham (letterer), and Jennifer Grünwald (collection editor). $17.99, 110 pgs, Marvel.

Honestly, the only problem I have with this comic is that it ends on a hell of a cliffhanger, and I wanted it to keep going (that, and my fear that Walker won’t be the artist on the second volume, although I guess he’s still around, except not for every issue?). This is a terrific comic, as the Guardians – who have been through a lot, apparently (I do like that I don’t know if we already know what happened to them and I just wasn’t reading that or if Kelly and Jackson are referring to something that didn’t “happen” in the pages of a comic and are just inventing it and will get around to showing what happened later) – head to a lawless region of space, where refugees from “civilized” planets are trying to make a life and where others are fighting horrific wars, and try to save them all. From what are they trying to save them? Well, apparently there are manifestations of Groot landing on planets and killing every living thing on them and remaking them into “Groot-worlds,” and that ain’t cool. Peter Quill and the gang feels a bit responsible, so they’re trying to stay ahead of the “Groots” and rescue everyone. Except, of course, some people don’t want to be saved. The sides that are fighting their war don’t really care that Groot is coming – they just want to fight. One group, of course, views Groot as a cleansing force and has built a religion around him, so they’re actively helping the Groots destroy planets. And none of the Guardians like each other very much, which I don’t know if it’s a new thing or because of this event that happened to them, which seems to have been pretty awful. Kelly and Lanzing do a very good job keeping all these balls in the air.

Another thing to like about it is that each issue is a self-contained story, even if it all involves the Groots landing and killing everyone. In the first issue, Peter and the others arrive at a “Western” town and try to get everyone off-planet before “Grootfall,” which doesn’t go well. In issue #2, they try to mediate between two sides in a forever war, and it doesn’t go well. In issue #3, Quill goes on a hunt on his ancestral planet and tries to communicate with a Groot, and it doesn’t go well. In issue #4, Rocket is the “sheriff” of a lonely planet full of refugees, and he’s managed to defeat several Groots, but when the latest one arrives, there’s a fly in the ointment, and it doesn’t go well. Finally, the Guardians are reunited – Rocket is back with them, unhappily – and they think they have a plan to stop the Groots, and … it really doesn’t go well. Kelly and Lanzing do nice character work on the fly, very ably assisted by Walker, whose work here is really excellent. In places it’s a bit slicker than I would have liked, and I don’t know if that’s just Walker trying something different, or Hollingsworth’s colors, or the glossy paper, or a combination of those things, but other than that, it’s wonderful, and his Groots are amazing – terrifying but still majestic, and kind of beyond good and evil. Groot cares not for your petty human morality! Walker’s trademark sense of humor is evident, and it helps keep things from being too dour, which is necessary in a kind of bleak book like this. Walker’s a really good artist, and I’m at least interested in everything he works on. On this book, his art and the writing are very nicely in sync.

I’m looking forward to the second volume of this, mainly because of that killer cliffhanger. We shall see if Kelly and Lanzing can pay it off!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Gamora has zero fucks to give
Betty Ortega, 1973

Love Everlasting volume 2 by Tom King (writer), Elsa Charretier (artist), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), and Marla Eizik (editor). $16.99, 120 pgs, Image.

In this arc, Joan ends up in 1963, where she’s originally dating a beatnik but a straight arrow her parents like is interested in her, and like the first arc, it begins by playing out like the other stories, as a parody of old-school romance comics. But now we know that Joan switches realities every time she falls in love, and if she tries to escape, the cowboy kills her, so she decides to marry Don, the boring dude, because she’s tired of the merry-go-round. They marry, but she doesn’t really love Don, so she stays where she is and King switches it up, as she lives out her life with Don. He does some interesting things – early on, she can’t reconcile her new reality with the other ones she’s lived, so she spends some time in an asylum, but eventually she decides to be a good wife and mother and simply doesn’t do anything to jeopardize her position, like fall in love with her husband. The weird anomalies of her life – it’s always 1963, for instance – she just ignores. King does a very good job using this artificial world to examine the plight of women in society – twice men make important life decisions for her without consulting her – and he also shows how easily it can be snatched away, with Joan’s situation becoming a nice metaphor as she lives her life. As always, I’m mystified why King can’t write a Batman story to save his life, because he can do stuff like this and make it feel very real and very emotionally powerful. When Joan gets yanked away to a new reality, as we knew she would, it hits very hard, and she reacts poorly, but it’s the only way she can react. I still don’t know if King really knows what’s going on with Joan, but the journey so far as been really fascinating. Charretier continues to do stellar work with the art, and she uses some very cool grid designs on some pages to show Joan’s state of mind, which is not always good. Charretier is a terrific artist, and I’m glad she’s been able to work on an indie book instead of getting trapped in the Big Two salt mines.

I don’t know where the book is going, which is a good thing. I do trust King because this isn’t a Bat-book, and I’m curious to see where Joan’s story goes next. This is a nifty comic.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Who knew you could be so passionate about meatloaf?
Daniela Bianchi

My Brother’s Blood Machine by Steve Niles (writer), Claudio Sanchez (writer), Andrew Ritchie (artist), Adam Metcalfe (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer), and Chondra Echert (editor). $19.99, 132 pgs, Evil Ink.

I’ve read a few comics by Sanchez, and they were pretty good, and Niles remains one of the better idea guys in the business, and this sounded intriguing, so I picked it up. Unfortunately, despite Niles being one of the better idea guys in the business, his execution often doesn’t measure up, and that’s the case here. It’s so frustrating, because there’s a lot of good things in this, but the writers just want to turn it into a gore fest, which they do. Why? I get that it’s horror, but, I mean, two evil brothers slaughtering their way through a town of hapless townspeople gets boring. And, of course, frustrating, because there’s so much more going on here. First, the book is set in 1968 for literally no reason – maybe no cell phones, but there’s a generation gap that was, of course, much more pronounced back then but which the writers barely discuss. The main character, a teenager named Cecilia, is the stepdaughter of a local car dealer, who early on vaguely accuses his best worker – who happens to be black – of theft because a customer thought he stole something. We get a unsubtle reference to racism, but nothing else. The stepfather is clearly a douchebag, but there’s also a lot going on in this short scene that simply gets swept aside. Meanwhile, a dude has been killed, and the cops think it’s the weird teen but can’t pin it on him, and that goes nowhere, either. We know it’s the creepy, monstrous brothers that give the book its name, but the cops don’t, and that potential “abuse of power/generation gap” plot is also pushed aside for more gore. In horror stories, the horrific things often have far more interesting back stories than the other characters, because why would they become horrific otherwise, and that’s true here, but as like in most horror stories, the interesting back story does little to inform the present, and the villains become just killing machines. The actual “blood machine” is a weird and horrifying thing, something that also gets very little attention. I mean, at one point Cecilia accuses her stepfather of molesting her, which is clichéd, sure, but could go somewhere interesting if the writers wanted, but she reveals this on one page, and when you turn the page, the evil brothers show up and start wreaking havoc, so that becomes the story. It’s exceedingly frustrating, because all they do is kill people, and that makes them far less interesting than when the smaller one (who seems to be the smart one) is telling Cecilia what his deal is. Why do writers think weird creatures slaughtering people is all anyone wants to see? It gets wildly dull very quickly, but writers keep doing it. I guess I bought this, so more fool me.

I’m not even going to write much about the art, as Ritchie does a very nice job with the two brothers and the machine but makes the “regular” people look a bit too grotesque, lessening the effect of the mad killers. It’s decent enough art, but just a bit weird. Oh well.

I don’t get everything Niles does because I like to think I’ve learned my lesson, but I still fall for it sometimes. Hope springs eternal, I guess.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I mean, if you can’t count on your obviously mentally impaired brother to clean up around the lair, who can you count on?
Lillian Wells

Nocterra volume 3: No Brakes by Scott Snyder (writer), Tony S. Daniel (artist), Francis Manapul (artist), Liam Sharp (artist), Marcelo Maiolo (colorist), AndWorld Design (letterer), and Will Dennis (editor). $16.99, 158 pgs, Image.

Remember back in the day, when Brian K. Vaughan did Ex Machina “specials” that are fairly important to the overall story but didn’t “count” as regular issues, and it seems like the only reason he did that was so he could claim that Tony Harris drew every issue of the series? Well, it seems like Snyder and Daniel have been infected with that thinking, as this trade collects issues #12-16 of the series plus two specials, one of which, at least, is very important in the flow of the story (the first one, which is beautifully drawn by Manapul, isn’t quite as important, but it’s still a nice little tale). I don’t know if it’s only so they can claim that Daniel draws every issue, but I also suspect it’s because Snyder and Daniel (who share story credits) came up with a oh-so-clever way for Emory to process his own scientific method, and it’s in five parts, so each “regular” issue of this trade is a stage along the way. That’s fine and all, but the “Nemesis Special” – which comes after issue #15 – is crucial to the story, so their five-part scientific method breaks down a bit. Ultimately, I don’t care how they structure this story … I just find it humorous that they can’t do a “guest artist” and have to hive off pertinent parts of the story to “specials” instead of just biting the bullet and calling it issue #16 or, you know, delaying a bit so Daniel can keep up. It’s an Image book – we’re used to delays!

There’s also the question of where the series goes from here. According to the back of the book, it’s the “thrilling conclusion” of the book’s “first cycle,” but I’m not sure where it goes from here, as it feels pretty definitively wrapped up. What else is there? Snyder seems to have this problem, and it’s one his protégé, Mr. Tynion IV, seems to have, too – not only the actual ending, which I’ve been on Snyder about for years, but actually just deciding to end something. There’s no reason to drag this out. I do admit that it ends the tiniest bit abruptly, but they could have added one or, at most, two issues and done a really nice wrap-up, but instead, we get something that feels like a fairly satisfactory ending (it’s not great, but it’s fine) with a teaser that it’s the book’s “first cycle.” Sheesh, people —

One last thing: Daniel has gotten a LOT better over his career, since his boob-tacular days drawing The Tenth, but sweet fancy Moses, he doesn’t do monsters well. Some artist are just good at monsters – Mignola, obviously, but Guillory is good at them, Brian Churilla was always good at them, Dan Mora draws some cool monsters – but Daniel isn’t one of them. When you have Liam Sharp smack dab in the middle of your run, making Blacktop Bill a truly fiendish creature and bending reality with the Big Bad Monster in the book, you have to step up your game, but Daniel’s “shades” have always looked like darker and less furry versions of Gossamer, the Looney Tunes animated creature, you’re in trouble. His Big Bad isn’t too awful, but it’s not as scary as Sharp’s version, and it should be. It’s just frustrating, because you’d think drawing monsters would be relatively easy for comics artists – they don’t have to look like anything real! – but apparently it ain’t.

Anyway, Nocterra “ends” in a not-bad fashion. We shall see if Snyder and Daniel ever return to it, or if they’re just teasing!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

But I know I have an e-vite somewhere around here!
Caroline Munro

Second Coming volume 3: Trinity by Mark Russell (writer), Richard Pace (layouter), Leonard Kirk (finisher), Andy Troy (colorist), Rob Steen (letterer), and Cory Sedlmeier (collection editor). $19.99, 132 pgs, Ahoy Comics.

Russell continues his rather odd “Return of Jesus” story, and if you think he’s done, watch out, because this ends with a nice tease for the next volume! It’s odd not because it’s bad – it’s pretty good, actually – but because Russell seems to be just throwing random stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks, and it works, but in a kind of ramshackle way. Jesus is babysitting Sunstar’s kid, then he’s starting his own church, and God drops by to visit, and Sunstar is helping put one of “his” supervillains in jail, and Sunstar’s kid is acting up because he’s a toddler with superpowers, and that’s never good. Meanwhile, Russell shows why a kid with superpowers is a bad idea before it really becomes a bad thing when he flashes back to when Jesus was a child and was the terror of his village, because he was a kid with no idea how powerful he was. It tends to work, and while this is a humorous book for the most part, the humor is somewhat wry and even a bit sad at times. Russell isn’t afraid to make his superhero a douchebag, as Sunstar is fine in the present, but it’s clear that he was not always a good dude, and the supervillain is also definitely a villain, but perhaps he has some good reasons? Russell is very good at this kind of understated writing, with characters doing random dick-ish things that kind of come up almost randomly but still are part of their personalities and those things have bigger impacts than appear so at the time. It makes for some kind of disjointed writing, but it tends to work. Meanwhile, the art is nice, as it always is. Kirk just does a solid job with facial expressions and body language, which works nicely in a satirical comic like this. Kirk has done good work with more standard superhero comics, so he’s also good with more emotive stuff, too, so when the book shifts from a weird satire to a more regular superhero book (with a toddler as the “villain,” but still), Kirk is able to keep up.

I thought, with writers seeming to enjoy “trilogies” these days, that Russell might bring this to a close with this volume, but he clearly wants to do more, and I’m sure Ahoy will let him. It’s still an intriguing comic, and I’m going to keep checking it out.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It doesn’t take much to make God happy!
Hedy Lamarr

Tales from Nottingham by various creators. $17.99, 124 pgs, Mad Cave Studios.

This is an anthology series that gives the creative team of Nottingham time to work on the next (final?) arc of the regular series, and it’s pretty good. The regular creative team of David Hazan and Shane Connery Volk has the first issue, which is the “secret origin” of one of the series’ regulars and uses the actual killing of Conrad de Montferrat in 1192 as a plot point. In the second story, Sheriff Blackthorne investigates a poaching and finds a potentially pesky adversary. In story #3, we see some of the events of the regular series from Marian’s perspective, which is nifty. The fourth story is about the corrupt church and Friar Tuck’s reaction to it, and it’s fine, but a bit too modern-feeling (not that there weren’t complaints about the Catholic church being corrupt back then, just the way it’s told feels too modern). Story #5 is the “secret origin” of Robin Hood, and it’s fine. The best story is probably the sixth one, as Magdalene Visaggio gives us a nice, twisty crime story with a lead-in to the next volume of the main series. It’s a well-written story, drawn beautifully by Victor Santos. All of the stories are good, and it’s nice to see this world get fleshed out a bit more. They’re not the most essential stories, but they’re interesting, which is nice.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Is … is that really that sound effect knives make?
Anita Ekberg, 1956

W0rldtr33 volume 1: Terminal by James Tynion IV (writer), Fernando Blanco (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Aditya Bidikar (letterer), and Steve Foxe (editor). $9.99, 133 pgs, Image.

Speaking of which, while I was reading W0rldtr33 (which is very good, don’t get me wrong), I kept wondering if Tynion’s mentor, Snyder, whispered some advice to him during one of those wallaby-sacrificing rituals to the Comics Gods that I’m sure they perform, something along the lines of: “Don’t end a book until the ink on the movie/television deal is dry.” Tynion fires up W0rldtr33, which is about a secret internet underneath the actual internet and which is somehow spreading into the world and making people go crazy, and is seemingly ignoring Department of Truth, which is about a secret organization that is keeping the real history of the world secret so people don’t go crazy, and he’s apparently doing another arc of Nice House on the Lake, which is about a secret group of creatures that has been preparing the world for invasion and the few people who are rescued from that fate so they don’t go crazy … hmmm, I sense a pattern here. As I noted above, my point is that Snyder, and now Tynion, seem to have a problem actually ending things. What’s up with that? Department of Truth is terrific, but it’s been a while since Tynion and Martin Simmonds worked on it. Will the same fate befall W0rldtr33? Does Tynion get bored easily, and that’s what’s up? It’s vexing.

W0rldtr33 is a very good book, though – the characters discovered the “undernet” – a weird, secret internet – in 1999, managed to contain it, but 25 years later (the book takes place mostly in 2024), it’s getting out, and people are starting to go crazy and kill everyone they see. There’s a mysterious woman who seems to be the shepherd for the “undernet” – she seems to facilitate people viewing it, which is enough to make them crazy, and she is completely naked in almost every panel in which she appears, and she appears in a lot of them. The group gets back together to fight the threat, and things get dire very quickly. Some people die horribly, and we get an interesting quasi-solution to the problem that will spur the series forward. It’s a very good start to the series. One thing bugged me: Tynion goes forward in time another 25 years to show us what’s become of the world, and I’ve always disliked that strategy in a work of fiction. Not enough to make me dislike the work, but it’s always kind of bugged me, because it feels … I don’t know, as if the entire book will then be structured to get us to that point. From that point on, it feels like everything the characters do is locked in place, and it bugs me. Oh well.

Blanco’s art is excellent, too. He and Bellaire do great work creating an uneasy world, one on the cusp of disaster, and Blanco’s choices regarding how to depict the people who are “infected” by the “undernet” adds to this, as well. There’s a nice sense of this weird, terrifying, virtual world intruding on the “real” world, and Blanco has a lot to do with it.

I mean, I do recommend this, but given Tynion’s track record with actually finishing things, can I say it will finish? No, I cannot. Caveat emptor, bitches!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That about sums it up!
Yutte Stensgard

BOOKS

The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups by Ron Rosenbaum. 601 pgs, 2006, Random House.

This isn’t as strong a book as Rosenbaum’s Explaining Hitler, but it has its charms nevertheless. Rosenbaum does a deep dive into the state of current Shakespearean studies and interpretations, and if you’re a fan of Shakespeare (and I am), it will be interesting to you, but man, it can be a slog (there’s a reason I reviewed no books in October; it took me over a month to finish this). Does that make it uninteresting? Not really, but Rosenbaum gets seriously into minutiae, which can be tough to hack through. He gets into the many controversies about Shakespeare – not whether he existed or wrote the plays, because that’s stupid – and how scholars try to figure out things about Shakespeare and the plays. He examines the different versions of Hamlet and Lear (the 1623 Folio editions often differ from earlier Quarto editions, but what that means is a matter of much contention) and why they might be different, and he looks at how directors of stage and screen create their Shakespeare plays and movies, which is quite fascinating (he loves the Baz Luhrman Romeo + Juliet for capturing the anarchic spirit of the original play). He gets into the controversies over the handwriting in some of the plays, the “funeral elegy” that some championed as being written by Shakespeare even though it, you know, sucks, and the different ways to read Shakespeare. He writes a lot about seeing the famous Midsummer Night’s Dream that Peter Brook directed in the early 1970s as being the moment when he fell totally in love with Shakespeare, which is something that happened to a lot of people, apparently, as it was a revolutionary and revelatory production (with Frances de la Tour and Ben Kingsley!). He challenges Stephen Greenblatt’s best-seller, Will in the World (which I’ve read), because so many people take the scraps of what we know conclusively about Shakespeare and weave an entire life out of it, as Greenblatt did; he challenges Harold Bloom and his Shakespeare: Invention of the Human (which I’ve also read and very much enjoyed) because of his rapturous love of Falstaff (which, to be fair, is probably the worst part of the book; Falstaff is a tool, and Bloom should know better than to rhapsodize so much about him). He interviews many, many Shakespeare experts and directors, and the way these people approach Shakespeare is fascinating. So that’s good.

However … Rosenbaum cautions against “bardolatry,” the idea that Shakespeare can do no wrong, but by the end, he seems to be indulging in it himself. His devotion to A Midsummer Night’s Dream is fine, but he takes Bottom and goes way, way far down the rabbit hole into Shakespeare’s “bottomlessness,” meaning that we peons can never completely get Shakespeare because there’s always something new. I mean, I guess, but Shakespeare wrote a few crappy plays (not even the ones he co-wrote!), and, I mean, part of the reason why we adore Shakespeare is because his plays survived. Yes, he’s brilliant, but he wasn’t the only playwright of the Elizabethan period, and most of that work has not survived. You can say that Shakespeare’s plays survived because he’s a genius, but that’s silly – there is some luck involved that we have Shakespeare, and we’re fairly certain a few of his plays have not survived, so what if there was another playwright who plumbed the depths of language as well as Shakespeare, but his work just didn’t survive? I don’t think Marlowe is on the same level as Shakespeare, but that’s because he died at 29, so who knows if he would have matured into someone as good as Ol’ Billy? I don’t want to be contrary, but Rosenbaum often becomes as goofy as Bloom can sometimes be, and while I appreciate the weeds he gets into, that leads him to atomize each line (which, he notes, many scholars do) and look for vast meaning in each word. Sometimes spelling a word weirdly is just because spelling wasn’t standardized, ya know? Plus, unlike his Hitler book, so much of this seems … petty and small. I mean, one dude is adamant that at each line break, actors should pause, almost imperceptibly, even if no punctuation breaks it, because that makes it sound like the performer is thinking about what to say next instead of just reciting lines. I mean, sure, that’s cool (and it’s fun to do, as I did), but, also, I mean, who cares? No one knows how Shakespeare wanted it done, and it’s not like he’s doing line breaks all that strategically – once you commit to iambic pentameter, you’re kind of locked into where the line ends. Things like that are frustrating, because none of this ultimately matters – whether you pause at the end of a line or not, whether Hamlet’s last lines are “O-groans” or not (one version has him say “O, o, o, o, o” after “the rest is silence,” and people argue over whether performers should say that!), whether Juliet has an orgasm in her play (yep, a good chunk of one chapter is devoted to that). It’s kind of fun to argue, but it doesn’t feel like this book is as interesting as his Hitler book, because trying to understand evil feels more important. This is just scholars yelling about things that we can never definitely settle, and each director is going to interpret Mr. S. his own way anyway. I mean, Rosenbaum spends a chunk of time on Henry IV, Prince Hal, and Falstaff, and he never mentions My Own Private Idaho. I mean, really.

Overall, it’s a fascinating book. For me, at least. If you’re not all in on Shakespeare, though (and I’m not as much as some people, but I know what’s going on), it might not be for you at all. But I liked it … even with my many caveats. Prepare to take a while to get through it, though!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Mishima’s Sword: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend by Christopher Ross. 262 pgs, 2006, Da Capo Press.

In 1970, Yukio Mishima, one of the most critically acclaimed post-war Japanese authors, attempted a coup against the government and committed seppuku when it failed. Ross uses this event to examine Japanese culture and post-war history in this weirdly fascinating book. Ross, who had lived in Japan, knows the language, which helps him as he returns in 2000 or so to try to find the sword Mishima used, which was forged in the 1600s. I won’t tell you if he finds it, but it’s not really the point, because he wants to dive deep into the Japanese psyche, as Mishima was a good example of what happens to a country when their entire culture is destroyed thanks to a disastrous war. Mishima was born in 1925 and was unable to fight in World War II thanks to poor health, but he turned into a fitness maven and right-wing agitator who wanted to see the Emperor restored to glory and westernization halted. He walked the walk, too, committing suicide without hesitation when the paramilitary group he founded failed in their attempts to turn the clock back. Mishima, in Ross’s book, sounds fairly reprehensible (complex, but reprehensible), but you can’t say he lacked conviction.

Ross spends the first half of the book writing about Mishima and who he was, what his writing was, and what impact it had on Japan. Many people who knew Mishima were still alive, and he was able to interview some of them. He also gets into the formality of Japanese culture, which remains so even if Mishima saw Western values corrupting it. In the second half of the book, he gets more into sword-making, as he tries to get a handle on Mishima’s sword. This is also fascinating, as he visits sword-makers to find out how the Japanese swords are forged and he checks out the history of sword-making in Japan and why the Japanese are so keen on them. I love reading books about other cultures, and Japan is such a strange and interesting place that even as Ross is being interviewed by gangsters and then police, the interactions are fascinating because everyone is observing rules of etiquette. Mishima was gay, so Ross heads into places that are part of the Japanese gay subculture. He talks to people who, like Mishima, do not like the westernization of Japanese culture but understand, unlike Mishima, that there’s little they can do. Despite being open to the world, Japan remains an insular place, and Ross is able to penetrate the world far better than most Westerners. The book is very unlike most “travelogues” you’ll read, because Ross is far keener to discover the “hidden” Japanese world than most foreigners.

It’s a quick read, and it’s a bit unusual because Ross jumps around so much (not in a confusing way, though). It becomes almost like a fever dream, as Ross meets these people who seem to rise up out of a mist and disappear almost as quickly. The very act of hara-kiri is so foreign to Westerners that the central fact of the book contributes to this fantastical feeling, as if this event took place centuries ago and not 50 years in the past (and only 30 years earlier when Ross was writing). It’s a neat way to dive into Japanese culture, so if that’s something you might enjoy, give this book a look!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

TELEVISION

The Fall of the House of Usher (Netflix). This is a bleak and cynical show, but it’s well acted and even a bit dazzling, so even though we know the ending, pretty much (almost everyone dies) and almost all the characters suck, it’s still pretty gripping. Bruce Greenwood has never been a great actor, but he’s a steady one, and that’s what the show needs at its center, as he plays Roderick Usher with a calm detachment that’s necessary as his world crumbles around him (and his angry outbursts work better, too). Mary McDonnell is fierce as his sister, Madeline, as she tries to solve the mystery of why all of his kids are dying in gruesome fashion. Carla Gugino as Verna, who offers the Ushers a Faustian bargain in the wee hours of 1980 and then never ages, is her usual superb self, chameleon-like and dead sexy as she scythes her way through the family. Carl Lumbly is Auguste Dupin, the district attorney who has tried for years to bring down the Ushers (they run a pharmaceutical company that’s been doing some shady things) after Roderick betrayed him back in 1979, right before he and Madeline met Verna, and Lumbly does his usual steady job, as well. The kids don’t make as big an impression – they’re fine, but they’re playing stereotypes, so only Henry Thomas as the twitchy oldest child gets to be an actual – if awful – character. While the story focuses on the Ushers, Verna, and Dupin, the important secondary characters do marvelous work – Mark Hamill as the Ushers’ lawyer is superb, and the only evil character with an actual moral center, as twisted as it is; Ruth Codd as Roderick’s latest wife grows into the role wonderfully until she’s the strongest person in the cast; Katie Parker as Annabel Lee, Roderick’s first wife, is his conscience until he decides he doesn’t need one; and Kyliegh Curran as Roderick’s granddaughter is the idealistic innocent who realizes she has power and needs to exercise it. The deaths are all modeled after Poe stories – there’s a very funny and excruciating pit and pendulum gag, for instance – and show creator Mike Flanagan delights in torturing the spoiled rich kids of the Usher clan, but there’s a lot of interesting social commentary about privilege, injustice, celebrity, and addiction, as well. It’s not super-deep, but it is nice to see some of it in here. Of course, there are a lot of jump scares and weird shit, and overall, it’s a nice, entertaining show. Nothing wrong with that!

Doom Patrol season 4 (HBO). The final season of Doom Patrol was much like the first three seasons of Doom Patrol – pretty good, with some good weird stuff, but a bit too conventional to really make it great. Geoff Johns was a “consulting producer” on the show, and if there’s one thing Johns knows how to do, it’s how to take something singularly unusual by another creator and make it blandly palatable to the masses, and that’s what we got with DP, despite it having a strong cast and some inherent weirdness from the Drake/Premiani days and the Morrison run. Just the Candlemaker is a perfect example of this – in Morrison’s run, he’s one of the more terrifying villains in comics history, while in the series, he’s just a big dude they have to fight. Johns is obsessed with family, too, and while I don’t know how much input he had on the show, just the fact that the characters in this show become, as the series goes on, more and more obsessed with family makes me suspect Johns had some influence on the proceedings. Again, it wasn’t a bad show, and the fact that it managed to be so weird is a testament to the comics it was based on and the creators’ devotion to those runs, but it just felt like it was missing something. Immortus, who’s the big villain this season, is a strange and interesting choice, and when that plot gets resolved, it feels both fitting and a bit rushed (you’ll see what I mean if you watch it). A lot of the season hinges on the fact that several members of the DP are functionally immortal, which feels like an elephant in the room that didn’t necessarily need to exist or be addressed (really, only Crazy Jane’s age is a bit unusual in the context of the show). It was just a frustrating show, because it was so intriguing and interesting at times, but it devolved into cheap sentiment too often, and nobody needs sad piano in their Doom Patrol show. It’s neat that it got made, it’s fun seeing the utterly bizarre stuff that actually made it onto the screen – a big subplot this season are the zombie butts from last season that still haven’t been eradicated – and the cast was very solid. It just feels like it missed an opportunity to be truly unique television. Such is life.

Loki season 2 (Disney+). Here’s another pretty darned good season of Loki, which is nice. Our hero is trying to stop He Who Remains from taking over every timeline, but he doesn’t know how to do that, and the entire season is about how he and the gang (Owen Wilson, Wunmi Mosaku, Sophie Di Martino, Eugene Cordero, and Ke Huy Quan joining the cast) are going to stabilize the infinite timelines that were released last season, stop He Who Remains, and not kill billions in the process. It’s a thing. The show remains quite funny, very clever, and unlike Doom Patrol, it does earn its heartfelt moments a bit more. You don’t need to have tracked Hiddleston’s progress as Loki across a decade of movies and shows, but it doesn’t hurt, and even if you just watch the two seasons of this show, Hiddleston does a very good job showing Loki’s growth from a spoiled, petulant, would-be conqueror to a hero, giving the finale a resonance that we don’t get too often with Marvel endings (Downey went out rather stupidly, while Evans went out selfishly, and Johanssen simply didn’t have enough screen time to make her sacrifice powerful). With the way comics are done, it always seemed that Marvel might do better at television than movies, and this “phase” of their pop culture footprint has proven that, as Loki has been the crown jewel of the post-Endgame Marvel Universe. I don’t want to write too much about this, because it’s fun seeing all the twists and turns, but Hiddleston has always been the secret weapon of the Marvel U., and he proves it once again here.

Only Murders in the Building season 3 (Hulu). Martin, Short, and Gomez continue to stretch the limits of the premise here, as they investigate the murder of Paul Rudd, who was the lead character in Short’s comeback production and who just happened to be in their building when he was killed (it seems he might have been staying there, but he didn’t live there). What I like about the show is that because there’s only one central crime, we can really dig into suspects, there can be multiple suspects that the characters have to investigate and discard, and we can take our time figuring things out. On murder shows, we usually have 45-55 minutes to figure things out, so things zip along. In this show (and others like it), we have ten episodes, so things can mosey along. Besides Rudd, we get Meryl Streep as a long-time frustrated actor who finally gets a break when Short casts her, but is she the murderer?!?!? It’s fun as usual, with Martin, Short, and Gomez doing nice work – Gomez’s arc throughout the three seasons, in particular, has been very interesting, more so, really, than Martin’s and Short’s arc, although they do nice work with their stuff, as you might expect. Martin and Short continue to be big hams, which is fun, and revolving this murder around a Broadway production means that both their characters are in their element, and when Short turns the dramatic murder mystery into a musical, it’s pure genius. The guest stars are superb – Matthew Broderick is excellent, Jane Lynch shows up to reprise her character from earlier seasons, Tina Fey is back, briefly, in a hilarious extended cameo, Mel Brooks has a very funny short cameo, and of the “regular” guest stars – the characters who are connected to the play, but aren’t main characters – Jesse Williams as Gomez’s love interest and Ashley Park as a cast member are the highlights. The characters get a bit sidetracked a bit too much, and they always jump to conclusions about things, but the mystery is interesting, and the path they take to the solution is satisfying. The podcasting seems to get short shrift in this season, but such is life. There will be a fourth season, I imagine (the show sets it up), and we’ll see if the show leans even more into the ridiculous premise of the show next season. It’s still pretty fun!

**********

Let’s check out the “classic” reprints I bought this month!

Fantagraphics has the Atlas Comics Library, a collection of Atlas stuff from the 1950s. I guess Marvel is fine with this? I don’t know if Klaus counts as a “classic” reprint, but it’s been collected before, so I’m counting it! This is a very nice hardcover of the entire epic. I’ve read a little of it, so I’m looking forward to reading the entire thing. Rebellion has a nice Nemesis the Warlock collection, which is too big to fit on my scanner, hence the truncated cover above. And ComicMix has another volume of Peter David’s Soulsearchers and Company. I have no interest in finding out how long this ran, so each new volume is a surprise!

Here’s the money I spent this month!

1 November: $182.11
8 November: $111.02
15 November: $69.36
22 November: $91.12
29 November: $44.20

Total for November: $497.81 (November 2022: $1203.33; November 2021: $1075.15)
YTD: $6278.91 (2022 at this time: $10195.54; 2021: $794.22)

Ablaze: 2 (1 graphic novel, 1 manga volume)
Ahoy Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Boom! Studios: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
ComicMix: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Dark Horse: 2 (1 single issue, 1 trade paperback)
DC: 3 (3 single issues)
Evil Ink: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Fairsquare Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Fantagraphics: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Humanoids: 1 (1 graphic novel)
IDW: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Image: 6 (1 graphic novel, 2 single issues, 3 trade paperbacks)
Mad Cave Studios: 2 (1 graphic novel, 1 trade paperback)
Marvel: 2 (2 trade paperbacks)
Oni Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Rebellion/2000AD: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
T Pub: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Titan: 1 (1 graphic novel)

4 “classic” reprints (46)
8 graphic novels (61)
1 manga volumes (10)
6 single issues (84)
11 trade paperbacks (136)

Check out the publishers!

Ablaze: 3 (2 graphic novels, 1 manga volume)
Abrams ComicArts: 2 (2 graphic novels)
AfterShock: 11 (2 single issues, 9 trade paperbacks)
Ahoy Comics: 3 (3 trade paperbacks)
Archaia: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Asylum Press: 1 (1 single issue)
AWA: 5 (5 trade paperbacks)
Battle Quest Comics: 3 (3 trade paperbacks)
Beacon Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Black Caravan: 2 (2 single issues)
Black Mask Studios: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Boom! Studios: 14 (1 “classic” reprint, 13 trade paperbacks)
Clover Press: 3 (2 “classic” reprint, 1 graphic novel)
ComicMix: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Conundrum Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Dark Horse: 44 (11 “classic” reprints, 10 graphic novels, 12 single issues, 11 trade paperbacks)
DC: 29 (3 “classic” reprints, 18 single issues, 8 trade paperbacks)
Death Ray Graphics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Del Rey: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Drawn & Quarterly: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Dstlry: 1 (1 single issue)
Dynamite: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Epicenter Comics: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Evil Ink: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Fairsquare Comics: 3 (1 single issue, 2 trade paperbacks)
Fantagraphics: 9 (3 “classic” reprints, 2 graphic novels, 4 single issues)
First Second Books: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Floating World Comics: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Greenwillow Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
HarperCollins: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Helvetiq: 1 (1 graphic novel)
High School Heroes Productions: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Humanoids: 2 (2 graphic novels)
IDW: 3 (3 trade paperbacks)
Image: 72 (1 “classic” reprint, 5 graphic novels, 30 single issues, 38 trade paperbacks)
Invader Comics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Iron Circus Comics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Lev Gleason: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Living the Line: 3 (3 graphic novels)
Mad Cave: 9 (3 graphic novels, 4 single issues, 2 trade paperbacks)
Marvel: 41 (6 “classic” reprint, 9 single issues, 26 trade paperbacks)
NBM: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Oni: 5 (4 graphic novels, 1 trade paperback)
Papercutz: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Penguin Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
PS Artbooks: 4 (4 “classic” reprints)
Rebellion/2000AD: 8 (7 “classic” reprints, 1 trade paperback)
Roaring Brook Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Silver Sprocket: 1 (1 graphic novel)
T Pub: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Titan Comics: 6 (4 graphic novels, 2 trade paperbacks)
Top Shelf: 1 (1 graphic novel)
TwoMorrows Publishing: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Uncivilized Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Vault: 6 (6 trade paperbacks)
Viz Media: 9 (9 manga volumes)
Z2: 1 (1 graphic novel)

**********

Let’s check out the beard!

The bright blue T-shirt is the most recent one, with the two darker shirts the earlier ones. At this point, however, the length is not changing all that much. It’s almost time to shave it, so by the end of December, the beard will be gone!

My weight has been annoying, because I’m eating ok, but it’s Thanksgiving/Christmas time, and you just kind of slide into bad eating. I’ve been doing a decent job, but I still gained some weight in November. Sigh. Anyway, I weighed 252.1 pounds this morning, meaning I gained 1.2 pounds in November. I know, it’s not a lot, but I would really like to keep my weight on a downward trajectory, even if it’s only a little bit. Anyway, here’s my month-by-month change:

January: -2.1
February: +.1
March: -1
April: +.7
May: -3
June: +/- 0
July: -1.3
August: -.6
September: -3.2
October: +.5
November: +1.2

Grrr.

By the way, I know I do different kinds of scans in between reviews often – yes, a lot of cheesecake, but also some hot dudes, some funny gifs, some other humorous things – but this month, it’s all old-school cheesecake. A while back, doing some research, I fell down a rabbit hole of old (pre-1980s) Playboys, and that is a pleasant but extremely time-wasting rabbit hole, and I stumbled across Facebook groups that feature old-school cheesecake, and there you go. Look at Nina Blackwood, future MTV VJ, posing in Playboy in 1978! So that’s why these scans were a bit more specific than most months.

I usually have some stuff to say, but I don’t have much this month, sorry. My wife made lasagna for Thanksgiving, because we wanted her to and she liked making it a lot more than making turkey. Here’s the lasagna, which she made mostly from scratch (not the noodles) and tried to hew as close to “real” Italian lasagna as possible, which meant no ricotta cheese (she doesn’t dig ricotta anyway, so it worked out for her):

Here’s the chocolate pie she made for dessert:

It was extremely tasty!

That’s all I have this month, sorry. Pour one out for Shane MacGowan, everyone:

Have a good weekend!

14 Comments

  1. Eric van Schaik

    Comics: The 10th Avengers EPIC Collection (The Yesterday Quest)

    TV: We’ve come to part 6 of Ashoka. Let’s see how it finishes.

    Concerts:

    11/2 Leprous
    It’s the sixth concert in 18 months. So yeah, we really dig them. 🙂 We had a 2 hour drive to the north of Holland to see them. This time was the 10th anniversary of the Coal album. Personally not our favorite, but we knew they would play other stuff too. All-in all a nice concert.
    Shirt: no, because we already have some. 😉

    11/4 Damian Wilson
    Damian was celebrating 30 year as a singer. He performs in a lot of bands we like. He played stuff from most of them and even some solo material. He recently had a concussion so he didn’t greet the audience prior to the show like he would do normally, so no hug for my wife like usual. 🙁
    Shirt: no. The one they had was ugly IMO.

    11/5 Whiplash and Destruction
    This one was a trip down memory lane. I still got the albums of both thrash metal bands from ’85 and ’86. My wife don’t like the music so I was alone that evening. Although the guys are in there 60’s they still kicked ass. Nice to fell young again, but that passed when I had to take the stairs down to my car and felt my knees. 🙂
    Shirt: no. They had no nice ones. 🙁

    11/10 Anneke van Giersbergen
    Like Damian Wilson dutch singer Anneke has a beautiful voice. She was the singer of The Gathering for a very long time but went solo many years ago. This evening she got back to playing some heavier stuff.
    Shirt: no, they didn’t sell anything.

    11/19 Carpenter Brut and Perturbator
    It was an evening of dark-/synthwave. I was the oldest person in the venue, but I had a great time. I was a bit surprised with the order of the bands playing. I wasn’t the only one, because when Perturbator was playing I had a bit more room to dance.
    Shirt: yes. They had a shirt with both bands on it with the name of this tour.

    11/24 Inhalo and Chain Reaktor
    2 bands from Holland playing prog rock, and being good at that. No big names so we just had to pay € 16 to see them. I saw Inhalo fort he first time and was pleasently surprised by the songs. After the show I bought the cd and all members where so kind to sign it for me. 🙂 I had seen Chain Reaktor last year but them the mix was all wrong, but this time around they had a good sound so we really
    enjoyed it. They also signed my cd so I had a really great evening.
    Shirt: yes. Inhalo had 1 with the cover of the album which looks nice.

    I recently had an accident with my bike. A chauffeur hadn’t seen me just before he made a turn and people who tried to inform him also. It’s more than a week ago but I still have a bruised hip. It’s now green and yellow. Also a small concussion. Luckely I always use a helmet while riding my bike. Never leave home without it Greg! I informed the company and they were so kind to send me some flowers.

    We had election this month in Holland. Geert Wilders was the big winner. The political party of Mark Rutte was punished for him not having active memory (that’s no joke I’m afraid) of decisions he made that put a lot of people in big financial problems. We now have 15 partys in parlement which is better than the 26 we had until the election. The form we had to use was enormous. We’ll have to wait if he can form a coalition so that he can tackle the problems at hand like imigration and housing. I’ll think it will take a very long time before we have a new government.

    1. Greg Burgas

      As usual, your commitment to live music leaves me speechless. I have never been that into concerts, and it’s very cool that you are!

      I hope you feel better. Getting older sucks when you get banged up, because it just hits harder.

      I like how all these countries – the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, some others – looked at Trump’s America and said, “Yeah, that’s what we want!” I mean, ‘Muricans are idiots, and I guess it was too much to hope that others would not be. Sigh.

  2. Dang, I had wanted to order Grootfall but I’d spent wayyyyy overbudget and had to cut something from the order. Will have to try to snag it, or maybe get it digitally. I was not familiar with Lanzing and Kelley before they Clayface one-shot, which was one of my favorite comics I read this year. And their Aquaman/Flash team-up series was better than it had any right to be. So I’ll have to keep an eye out for what else they do.

    Haven’t read Love Everlasting or Second Coming yet, but they’re on their way. I thought Second Coming was advertised as the conclusion? I love Mark Russell, so I’ll read whatever he feels like writing.

    Once again my favorite recent comic I’ve read is Superman vs. Meshi, this time volume 2. Superman reviews Japanese chain restaurants and has orgasmic reactions to the food! Sometimes other Justice Leaguers are involved! It’s very charming.

    As far as TV: I am enjoying Hulu’s A Murder at the End of the World. A whodunnit with elements of Christie, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Glass Onion.

    I’m also two-thirds into AMC’s Blackberry, which is the recent movie recut into a three-part series, for some reason. But it’s enjoyable.

    Fargo season 5 is pretty good so far.

    Only Murder in the Building feels like it has diminishing returns each season, though this one had some high points, like the musical numbers. My crazy theory for who the murderer was— was not even close. Oh well!

    It took me two tries to get through Doom Patrol season 1, and then I fell off again mid-season 2. Which is crazy, because I love so many incarnations of the comic. Same with Loki– big Thor fan, dig Hiddleston– but I got halfway through season 1 and never finished it.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I’m looking forward to A Murder at the End of the World. It looks nifty.

      I think this season of Only Murders in the Building was a bit better than the second, but yeah, the first one is still the best.

      I wouldn’t tell you to catch up on Doom Patrol, because of the issues I noted, but Loki is not long and it’s very good!

  3. Der

    That lasagna looks goooood
    I like lasagna but for some reason I feel that is a pain in the ass to make. I know that is not a total pain in the ass to make, but I don’t know, it just feels like that. That’s why if someone gives me lasagna I will always say yes.

    Anyway, this month I decided to spend all my personal budget for november to january buying Usagi comics. They are never on sale on amazon but there were some promotions so I got Usagi Yojimbo Saga vol 6,7 and 8.

    That means that I have almost all the Saga volumes(I own Legends but only digitally, so that one is missing) so yay for me! I will wait to see if the IDW are collected on Saga versions too, but so far I finally got all the Usagi I will need for this next year.

    Also, I supposedly got a call from a job and I got interviewed, they said that the wanted me and to send the documents and then…nothing? I supose they just found another prospect or something, wich suits me fine since I don’t really like that type of job(but I admit that the second income would have been nice) so meh, I’ll keep being a househusband for a month more and then look for jobs or something. Maybe I should try to become a superstar blogger like all the nice people here. That’s what all the kids are into these days, right?

    (I love that this blog still exists, is one of my required readings everyday even if I don’t use my pc that much these days, so thanks for keeping this blog alive)

    1. Greg Burgas

      I’ve never made lasagna, so I don’t know how much of a pain it is, but my wife makes it about once a year, so she can’t hate it that much!

      I have a lot of Usagi Yojimbo, but I’ve never read it. I’m trying to keep up with all the various big versions so when I get to it in the alphabet, I’m caught up!

      That sucks about the job. I hate that companies don’t send a courtesy email these days saying you didn’t get it. I mean, how hard is it to have a form letter on file? Sheesh.

      Thanks for the nice words. I know I have no plans to stop blogging! 🙂

  4. Lasagna can be easy or hard depending on the recipe. I do easy.
    Love Everlasting was another King fail for me. Not parodistic enough — some of the stories would have worked in a genuine love comic — and the mystery annoyed me rather than intrigued me.
    Your criticism of Shakespeare Wars is fair, though I find Harold Bloom much less interesting than … well, anyone. As you may know, Sam Bankman Fried has offered statistical proof Shakespeare can’t be the greatest writer of all time (there have been so many more people born since Shakespeare! How can he be the best?) so that settles that.
    I started Doom Patrol S4 but I could not get into another season of everyone arguing and kvetching. I imagine I’ll go back eventually.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I like Bloom’s writing, because he’s sooooo enamored of Shakespeare that his enthusiasm just leaps right off the page and he knows so much about each play, but I often find his conclusions a bit sketchy. Although I’m not as big a scholar as he is, so what the hell do I know? 🙂

  5. Edo Bosnar

    Well heck, you’ve alerted me that the second half of Doom Patrol S4 has dropped. I’ll get back to you once I get through it. Same goes for Only Murders… (I’m just past halfway through season 2, which I’m liking about as much as the first season).

    On another note, I’ve always been curious about Soulsearchers & Company since I first heard about it a few years ago. According to the product description of that book you have, it collects #s 62-72 – so without spoiling too much, I can tell you that there’s not many more until the end of the series. (By the way, I question the decision to call these collected editions ‘omnibuses’ – at about 11-12 issues and less than 300 pages each, they are indeed pretty hefty tpbs, but I refuse to consider anything with less than 500 pages an omnibus, unless it collects an entire series.)

    1. Edo Bosnar

      p.s. Are the three young ladies in the photo labeled ‘1973’ supposed to be famous somebodies like all the others? Couldn’t find any information in a Google image match, besides some question as to when the photo was actually taken (someone who posted it on Reddit says its from 1975).

    2. Greg Burgas

      The “omnibus” designation for Soulsearchers has always cracked me up a bit, because you’re right – they’re so clearly not “omnibuses”!

      I figured it couldn’t last too much longer, so I hope ComicMix is able to complete it!

      No, the ladies aren’t famous. I found it on Facebook, where the only information is that it’s Huntingdon Beach in 1973. But, apparently, even that might be incorrect! 🙂

      1. Edo Bosnar

        Ha! Yes, apparently. Two of the links I found cited the location as Hermosa Beach. Maybe we should split the difference and say it was taken in Long Beach in 1974.

  6. You might enjoy AJ Hartley’s “Burning Shakespeare”: a college president strikes a deal with Hell to go back through time and destroy all copies of Shakespeare’s works (because that’ll kill liberal arts and make students study things that make them good employees!) so an angel recruits a team of the newly dead to stop him. Hartley’s a Shakespeare professor and he knows his stuff (I know him but I really like the book).

  7. Edo Bosnar

    O.k., so – having now watched Doom Patrol to the end – I’m back.
    And, well, my feelings about that season and the show as a whole are rather mixed, like your own (although we probably have different reasons for our opinions). I think I only genuinely enjoyed the first season, while everything after that I had moments of “hey, that’s cool!” or “hey, that’s funny!” intermingled with “wait, wha–?” or “hm, this is getting a bit tiresome.” I’ll conclude by saying that I’ll have to have a whole lot of free time on my hands to take on the commitment of re-watching the whole series, or even just individual episodes.

    As for “Only Murders…” I watched season 2 to the end and, well, that’s it for now. I was watching it locally on Star Channel, and they only ran the first two seasons so far. I do really want to see season 3 based on the trailer at the end of season 2.
    And yes, the show in general is quite excellent – I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would going into it.

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