Sunday, June 30, 2013

Comic Covers Sunday: DIC Honorable Mentions

So, a double post Sunday!  Remember how I asked which deaths were "the best" or "most meaningful" to the guys.  Well, that turned out to be the wrong question.  I (wrongly) assumed that they would limit it to characters who had been around for more than a paragraph, or characters that actually had a story line, or any other number of common meanings.  I didn't get that.  I got so much random crap from the "death" of characters who were no more than text on a page to "deaths" of characters that were resolved in the same issue.  Anyway, there were some good points of discussion so here's the remainder of the list.

Honorable DIC mentions:
SA Supergirl / SA Flash, Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, October 1985
It's funny that everyone always talks about these two deaths in conjunction, but everyone only remembers the Supergirl cover.

Comic Covers Sunday: Friends Who Died

We complain alot of the lack of relevance when a character dies in comics.  In fact, Death in Comics (DIC), has become so meaningless that when the Wasp died, it didn't move the needle.  Damien died recently and we're all just waiting for him to show back up.  So, I asked the guys what "deaths" have had the most meaning for you and this is the response I got... enjoy.

Lori and Judy, The Walking Dead #48, April 2008
Pencils/inks: Charlie Adlard
This has get to be the best DIC in the past few years.  Kirkman was faking this, he just killed'em.  And, he did in probably one of the most horrific ways imaginable.  As DIC goes, this is a classic.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Clockwork Angels: The Novel – A Review

Clockwork Angels: The Novel
Written by Kevin J. Anderson from a Story and Lyrics by Neil Peart

It was one minute until the stroke of midnight (or close enough considering my clock radio is set 10 to 15 minutes ahead) when I finally finished Clockwork Angels last Saturday night.  I started the book in mid-May shortly after experiencing the RUSH Clockwork Angels tour at the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore.  During the nearly three-hour concert, the band played all but two of the 12 songs on the album.  It was FANTASTIC!!!  I wish I had been more familiar with the music prior to seeing the show, because I would’ve gotten even more out of it.  Lyrics could have really made the difference (and partially the reason why we prepared lyric slides to go with the recent ApologetiX concert at my church).  Like all music, some songs immediately resonate, but others take repeated listening until you embrace them.  It’s an excellent album and like most RUSH endeavors it’s heavy on concept and story too. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reviewing First and Second Issues

I've been traveling so much lately that I went to my LCS to relax.  I ended sitting around and chit chatting for a couple of hours and read a bunch of stuff off the stands. 

Today, a special treat, Lee reviews: Uncanny #1, Bounce #2, Wake #2, and Jupiters Legacy #2

Spoilers abound because I talk plot points. You’ve been warned.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tales of The Buddha (Before He Got Enlightened)

Are you looking for something irreverent, humorous, and for good measure, sure to offend someone! If so then you need to read Tales of The Buddha (Before He Got Enlightened) written by Alan Grant, art by Jon Haward, published by Renegade, 80 pgs. This book collects all the Buddha stories originally run in Wasted!, a magazine/webzine focusing on alternative music and culture.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Cowboy Wally Show

Hello, and welcome to another visit to the more obscure works I've stumbled upon.  As noted in a previous review, I started reading Kyle Baker late, finding his Nat Turner book a very engaging read.  That lead me to pick up some of his older works, including this book from 1988.  The copy I have came out in 2003, so even the much heralded "16th Anniversary Commemorative Edition (Digitally Remastered with Many of the Typos Remove!)" is 10 years old.  Yes, this is a humerous work, not at all like Nat Turner.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Zaucer of Zilk

Have you ever wanted to read a book that was part Wizard of Oz, part Alice in Wonderland, had dialogue by Dr. Suess, and a color scheme that was heavily influenced by a Jimi Hendrix black light poster? If so, look no farther because Zaucer of Zilk is the book you have been waiting for!
This past week I read The Zaucer of Zilk, written by Al Ewing and Brendan McCarthy, illustrated by Brendan McCarthy, colors by Len O’Grady and Brendan McCarthy, published by IDW.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Living Legend!

Goodbye and Hello – Part 1 of 1 – The Blog in Review

The Legend 
So I’m bailing, retiring, calling it quits, cashing in my chips, taking my ball and going home. Well only in one respect. I’m saying goodbye to any posting schedule. After almost seven years I feel it is time to move away from deadlines.

My reasons are varied. First off the amount of time I put into my weekly post at times is enormous. I get my books on Thursday and try to have at least two posts done and loaded by Sunday. Almost every post I do is around 1200 words on the short side and often 2000 on the long side. I have had some weeks where I have produced over 4000 words. Of course with self editing it leads to many run on sentences and some unintentional grammatical errors. I say unintentional because I try to keep my post more conversational, which often means the nuances of perfect grammar and sentence structure go out the window. I’m not an English major by any stretch but I also don’t worry about being a grammarian when spewing out my opinions on a blog. So with doing all of that, finding pictures to punctuate the post it can takes me many hours to pull the post together. That takes away from time with my wife, prose reading, catching up with my real job and or just drinking a beer and lounging in the sun.

Second I have certain themes and have hammered them 14 quadrillion times. At times any consistent reader (both of you) knows what I think of a book before I even hit my fingers to the keyboard.  The ideas that true growth and change will happen with any character is something that I’m rational enough to know it is never going to happen. Marvel and DC are run by corporations who only see the value in marketing the same character forever to each new generation. The type of change I’m looking for would only happen if the bottom drops out and they get desperate. We got very close when Grant put Dick Grayson in the Batman costume. It revived the entire Batman line and then it was all flipped with the new DCU. Plus Grant was only allowed to kill Bruce Wayne because he was brining him back. Today I find more enjoyment in reading the Wild Blue Yonder #1 this week then yet another Animal Man story. Even with Jeff Lemire doing a good job on the book I know it can all be flipped in a heartbeat with a new writer. In series like Sex, Bounce, The Answer, Mara, Ten Grand, Red Team and other books we get stories with beginnings, middles and ends. It is never going to happen with the big two. I got locked into wanting this because I got hooked on comics in the early sixties when the Marvel characters were constantly changing and growing. Having nothing to lose made them bold and the characters had no intrinsic value at that time. Success ended all of that.

Third is that since I do the regular posts I feel I have less time for spontaneous posts. Last Tuesday I got ticked off at DC and ran off a rant. I want to write when the muse strikes me or at least inspires me, I don’t need anyone striking me. The week in review is also all about reacting to something and not actually talking about ideas that are being presented in some books. Doing post more when I feel like will hopefully make the posts have a little more pizzazz. Also I think I will feel more comfortable in shooting off a short 200 word missive and not worry about making each post feel substantial.

Now this does not mean I’m gone, regardless of whether the rest of the crew follow suit the blog is not being deleted. I plan to post from time to time as something inspires me to write or I have some time. I think following is the best bet or check in from time to time, but daily maybe a thing of the past for us.

Before I sign off on this post I want to thank Matthew, Thomm, Gwen, Greg, Shawn and a few others for all of their efforts and work to keep this blog have at least a new post everyday for the better part of seven years. I have had the chance to interview people, make some new internet friends, build some relationships and in general have a blast.

Of course the biggest thanks goes out to Lee. When I started the blog I could have never maintained the daily pace I set for myself for very long. Lee joined me shortly after the blog started and has been there almost from the jump. Eventually I turned management of the blog over to him and he has been running it ever since. Lee has cost me way too much money with original art, but it has been a blast working with Lee all these years and I’m happy to call the Patriot, Boston Red Sox loving bastard my friend.

Of course thanks to all of the people who we interviewed and to all the readers.

I’ll be back, just not on a schedule.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Comic Covers Sunday: Elfquest

Honestly, I have been traveling all week.  Since last Sunday it's been 2 days in Virginia, 3 days in Idaho Falls, 2 days in Maryland, and then back to Virginia.  I don't have the energy for witty banter.  This week, one of the first, and greatest indie books.  Elfquest.

All covers by Wendy Pini

Elfquest #1, April 1979

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Superman versus Man of Steel: A Movie Comparison

I saw Man of Steel a week ago yesterday in IMAX 3D at 0930 at the high cost of 50 cents after applying my 12 dollar General Mills movie certificate.  It basically cost me nothing but time.  And I was reasonably well rested the night before, so there was nothing to impede my enjoyment.  My children have come to expect some rather lackluster reviews whenever I come home from the latest blockbuster, so, this time I really wanted to say something more than just “It was okay” while shrugging my shoulders.  Instead I said, “It had some wonderful moments” and “It was really long”.  Jim declared this week that it was the best Superman movie of all time.  Now having once (regrettably) proclaimed the merits of (the now miserable) Superman Returns, I understand the sway a new film can have on you the first time around.  So, in an effort to give Jim (and anyone else) perspective on why Superman: The Movie is superior to any and all others, I offer up the following comparison.  Note there will be Man of Steel SPOILERS.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Goon in Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr Wicker (TPB vol 6)

Powell took a different course on The Goon when he wrote this one.  Not only wasn't it published as part of the ongoing comic, coming out as a stand alone graphic novel instead, it's also not nearly as humorous as the comic.  Oh, sure, there's still some humor.  Frankie's in it, after all.  You can hardly have Frakie appear without some mirth.

But on the whole, this is a noir book with more than a little mystery to it.  Goon's dissapointment in himself for not living up to his late aunt's expectations is explored.  During the course of that exploration Goon's first, possibly only, love arrives and almost takes him toward the course his aunt had hoped for him.  No more mob boss and paranormal fighter.  Alas, betrayal by both his love and a friend squash that dream once and for all, bringing Goon back to his crime boss position, loyal Frankie having suffered through the near demise of their operation during Goon's absence. 

That's the thumbnail, but there's so much to the development of the characters that Powell brings to this divergent story that even though the plot isn't a part of what was happening in the comic at the time, it's clearly important to the participants in the comic.  Oh, and a dragon is introduced to the mythos of The Goon.  That's pretty cool, right?  Besides, there are nods to Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, and, of course, Chinatown, which are not to be missed.

The bonus in this trade is at the back of the book.  Powell provides some sketches of the work and, more importantly, some explanation of his thinking in the process and the plotting.  It's a very nice insight into his creative process.  Powell is frank about his own doubts about where he was going with the project and the time off from the comic that he was taking to do it.  It certainly wasn't the usual path taken by a creator, and the faith Dark Horse had in him going this route is pretty impressive for a business that usually wants a regular supply of its product available for its customers.

This book is widely celebrated for good reason.

The Goon in Wicked Inclinations (TPB vol 5)

Introductions to these things are great ways to learn interesting, if useless, information.  For instance, Michael Allred wrote the intro to this volume, revealing that his Madman, largely published by Dark Horse, too, was originally going to be called Goon.  At the last minute on the road to original publication it was changed to Madman, but what would Eric Powell have done if Goon was already taken by another writer, and one at the same publisher, no less?  The world may never know.

Ah, but enough of the trivia.  Time to dive into the horrific fun that is Powell's The Goon.  We're up to issues 14-18 now, with some short stories by Powell and others at the end.  The shorts have nothing to do with the larger plot but are nice little gems of the world view of the comic.  A kid stalked by a monster under the sink that shows things aren't as they appear.  An overly exuberant Frankie spiking the prize in a potentially lucrative operartion.  Inbreeding failing to provide salvation.  Stuff like that.

In the issues that advance the plot there are two main elements.  First there's an attack by people from the old country who want revenge for a wrong done by Norton's mother, the old witch who has helped Goon on occasion and is something like family to him.  Buzzard returns from his self-imposed sleepless rest, too.

From there it jumps into the return to power of the Zombie Priest, who appeared to be on the verge of final demise with his supply of zombies drying up.  Leading into that there's back story on the ties between Buzzard and the Zombie Priest that have lead to Buzzard's long time efforts to eradicate the Zombie Priest.  Suffice it to say that these guys won't be friends any time soon.

Anyway, the Zombie Priest is making significant inroads when that plot line more or less stops.  Powell goes into his fictitous censorship issue discussion, Satan's Sodomy Baby, which was supposed to be issue 18.  The actual issue 18 references it, with Frankie reading a copy, while Goon battles Dr Alloy's former manservent, who has reverted to a more monstrous form and is wreaking havoc with anyone who wanders into the swamps.

As always, the Goon is full of pop culture references, mostly of the timeless variety.  There are obvious homages to Mad Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, which I particularly enjoy as a fan of both.  But Powell has his own unique story he's telling and advancing.  The dangling thread of the Zombie Priest is somewhat disappointing but the stories are so well told I can wait to get to the resolution of that plot line.

"Look!  You're a hat."  - Zombie Priest

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Posers #1

Recently a friend loaned me this book that is being put out by a publisher he's supporting via Kickstarter.  I've not heard of Hound Comics, and as far as I can tell, this book is still a good way from reaching publication.  In fact the company appears to have just reached Diamond's preview solicits for July.  Clearly we're talking small press.

Having read this issue I think they have a decent start for this comic.  The book is written by John Pross, pencilled by Emil Cabaltierra, and colored by Omi Remalante Jr.  It has an interesting concept where people can compete to become superheroes.  One man who has tried several times and wants to try again finds a short-cut when he becomes part of a stage production that's being sold to the public as actual superheroes preventing an alien invasion.  He's offered to be made into an actual superhero if he goes along with the deception, saving him from trying to make it through the competition.

It's interesting that the book takes this angle.  It appears to be working toward a team book with most of the superheroes already established but only two of them show up in the course of this book, and that only for a few pages at the end.  Those are the only two I'm certain are superheroes.  Other characters appear during the filming but I don't know if they're the heroes or actors.  At least one of the team that showed up during the fake part was an actress, as the actual hero died some months before.  The team is now being filmed re-enacting her death so it can later be shown to the public.  It's a little confusing as to who else in the filming is an actual hero or an actor.  It's even more confusing whether the Mr Amazing who shows up at the end to speak with Slugger, a sort of Amazonian who beats up other people to relieve her own constant pain, is the same guy who was in the filming.  I think he is, but I'm not certain.

(I see by a house add that Slugger is to have her own book coming out this year, too.)

While the story holds potentional I wasn't enamored of the art by Cabaltierra.  It's not bad.  He gets the story across and employs a number of camera angles in the process.  It's just somehow busy.  Maybe it's the heavy line.  Maybe it's that there seem to be a lot of close ups.  Something just doesn't sit quite right with me.

I think the biggest impediment for the book, though, is the price.  According to the cover price, they're looking for $5 for one issue.  That's a lot for 22 pages of story.  Yes, it's on a high quality paper and shows some very good production values, but that's an artisanal price on a mass production quality item.  Even if this book raises sufficient funds on Kickstarter to get it off the ground, I don't see it making enough of a splash to survive with that price.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Humanoids Store

We don't do a lot of press stuff here because... well so much of it is done elsewhere.  And, so much of it involves the Big Two.  As a fan of indie books, and a HUGE fan of Humanoids publishing, this press needed to be highlited.

For those who are not lucky enough to have a local comic book store carrying our books, we are proud to announce the GRAND OPENING of our online shop The Humanoids Store.

The entire HUMANOIDS catalog is now available with FREE SHIPPING (continental US only) PLUS a FREE DIGITAL COPY of the item purchased, as available to read directly on your desktop or iPad (free account subscription required).

The Humanoids Store will also offer exclusives, for example:

- Angel Claws, the Jodorowsky/Mœbius erotic masterpiece, presented here in a Deluxe Super-oversized format and in a limited and numbered printing of 800 copies,

- the Ultra Deluxe French Edition of Le Garage Hermétique (The Airtight Garage), of which only a few dozen copies have been made available to us here in the US and which is an extremely limited edition of what is widely considered Jean “Mœbius” Giraud's magnum opus.

And last but not least, we are offering to our Newsletter readers a 10% DISCOUNT promotional code(code RRZ8515 to be entered at checkout) valid on any one purchase made on The Humanoids Store through July 18th 2013.

This is a great opportunity to pick up one or more of our recent hits, like Terry Dodson’s MUSE, or classic bestsellers from Alexandro Jodorowsky (THE INCAL, THE METABARONS), among many others.


I have enjoyed many of the books from Humanoids and can't recommend this deal enough.  And, with digital editions now available it's the best time to try them.
As for the covers today, you can read a long review of Zombies here.  Spoiler, I loved it!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

DC Continues to Disappoint

JL 3000
I really have enjoyed and loved DC characters over the decades. The new DCU has been disappointing to say the least. Outside of the new take on Wonder Woman nothing else has grabbed my interest. Sure I, Vampire was good, Batman has been well done and other books here and there have had quality work done on them, but disappointment is the major theme.

Over the course of the last few years we have seen these occur and all are bad moves:

1)  Didio and Lee promoted to Co-Publishers.
2)     Bob Harras hired as EIC
3)     A house style implemented
4)     Marketing take precedence over story
5)     A withdraw from even friendly fan press
6)     A exodus of writing talent
7)     Editorial driving the bus, making writers into script writers
8)     Cross over and add on books to suck the strength of any successful book
9)     Karen Berger leaving Vertigo
10)  Vertigo contract changed

I have pulled further away from DC then I have in many, many years due to all of this. Yet I still want to like the company. I get excited that Griffen is back on Legion and then he is gone after only one issue. I get excited that Andy Diggle will be on Action comics and he is gone. I get excited that Fialkov will be writing two Green Lantern series and then he is gone. DC launches Sword of Sorcery and Threshold as $4 books with less support then even their war books. Instead of trying to bring a new genre along most of the books were priced at $4 in a $3 market place that DC has created. The new DCU has a squishy history where a reader has no clue of what has or has not occurred with a character. You can sense the changes being made on the fly.

Even all of that could be forgiven if DC would leave series alone and let readers enjoy what they are producing. Instead we get Zero month, now we get Villain month, we get other books being told to do Zero Year issues to correlate with the Batman title. We get another Green Lantern cross over announcement. The first issues since the new creative teams come onboard have not even all been released yet. I was looking forward to reading each writer’s work and see where they were going to take these series and now another cross over. Batman Zero Year was suppose to be a stand alone, but since the other Bat books apparently can’t survive on their own I have heard that many of the books will be running there own Zero Year (Update Action, Flash, Green Arrow and others will be part of it now). Way too water down a concept. Also nice way to screw up a story line someone is already working on. On one book it is unique on five other books it is a gimmick. Legion gets cancelled and I hear that we are getting the old JLI team doing a JL 3000. Instead of my beloved LOSH it is future versions of the JL. DC saw how Marvel has continued to expand the Avenger franchise and is just doing the same with JL.

Like summer blockbusters becoming the only movies made, Marvel and DC are now such slaves to their corporate masters that soon every title will be related to Batman, Superman, Justice League, Avengers and X-Men. From a top down look I understand it, but it is short sighted because the richness of a shared universe is destroyed with out a more diverse line up. Plus once you overuse a concept it all gets old and eventually the staleness drives people away or at least fans like me.

How do I get excited about Avengers AI, Mighty Avengers, Superman/Wonder Woman and Justice League 3000 when we are seeing stuff like Saga, Lazarus, Sex, Bounce, Chin Music, Ten Grand, the Thrillbent website, Uncanny (from Dynamite), Red Team and more coming from everyone else. It is very hard to go cold turkey and cut myself off from the big two, but I think I have to push myself to go that way. Of course it is hard because some book from Marvel and DC are interesting such as Hawkeye and Swamp Thing, two series that are normally left alone.

The Week of June 12 in Review Part 2 of 2 - Some High Points for the Week

As you can see I’m going into retirement by even ratcheting down the number of posts going up on Monday and Tuesday. I’m a slacker! Actually we are entertaining on Saturday and Sunday is Father’s day and I’m going out to Dinosaur World. All of that is my excuse for keeping things leaner this week.

Being a mail order customer I normally get my books on Thursday. Now this makes Thursday a comic book day to remember. New books come in, next week’s list is posted and I order my books and the early peek at two weeks ahead comes out. In addition my buddy at Cosmic Comix posts his best of the week picks and I use that as a guideline for some of my must reads. Many of the following books made that list.

Joe Hill’s Thumbprint #1 (of 3) may have been the best book I have read this week. It was based on a novella by Hill, written by Jason Ciaramela and art by Vic Malhotra. I was immediately drawn into the story. It is about a young woman who has left the army after being involved in the Abu Ghraib incident during the Iraq War. It was a black eye for the US when the army’s torture of POWs was exposed. We are seeing her story of both what happened to her at Abu Gharib, her adjustment back into civilian life and a mystery threat that is noted by someone leaving an envelope with a thumbprint in it. It is only going to be three issues long and obviously we do not have all the answers in issue #1, but we are getting a picture of Mallory Grennan. After WWI, there was an old saying “how are you going to keep them down on the farm after they had seen Paris.” It was something to that effect. Now the question is how do you return to normal after you have been part of what Mallory was in Iraq? After dehumanizing and torturing people in the name of a supposed greater good, can you wash that stain from your soul? Who is now torturing her with the thumbprint? It is a good story and I have to say for two creators I have not heard of before, they have produced a top notch book.

Next up is Breath of Bones #1 (of 3) By Steve Niles and Matt Santoro plot, Niles on script and Dave Wachter on art. It is in black and white and I have to say I was initially struck by the great art in this book. It is another artist I’m unfamiliar with, but I would gladly look at any book he is drawing. I saw a ton on influences in his art from Alan Davis to John Severin and everyone in between. There is one panel with the water on a soldiers face that reminds me of work by Barry Windsor-Smith. The story is of a young man who is growing up as war is all around him. We start in 1944 and then flashback to life in his village as a young boy. The entire first issue is a build up to the young boy being given a small clay figure by his grandfather and told that he may need to use a monster to fight a monster. It is obviously the Golem, which actually does not even make an appearance this issue. It is the start of a good story and again only three issues long, so worth the price of entry.

Next up is Walking Dead #111 by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard. I keep wondering when Kirkman is no longer going to have time to write the book that has garnered him such fame and fortune. It took many years for it to happen, so maybe he will keep on keeping on with the book. Since Kirkman has adapted the Hollywood team approach to Thief of Thieves, I would not be shocked to see him outline the plot and letting someone else script the series down the road. What is surprising to me is that even though I desperately want to see a five or ten year jump we just continue to move forward in a slow manner. Time passes, but not month for month with the publishing schedule. This issue was fascinating as Negan shows again how much of a cold bastard that he can be and yet is frighteningly perceptive on some levels as he rejects trusting a man in Rick’s camp who wants to sell Rick out.

I do note that traditional super hero comics still can be enjoyable, but are certainly far from my favorite. A big favorite with many fans is Guardians of The Galaxy and issue #3 has a great cover. I mean anthropomorphic animals, what is not to love. Brian Bendis with Steve McNiven and Sara Pichelli deliver a great looking book. I also know Marvel is pushing to have this type of series as a movie is on the way with the GOTG. Yet with all of the great fight scenes and political Game of Thrones stuff going on it just feels like I’m missing the purpose of the book. Is Peter Quill trying to overthrow his father? Is he trying to protect Earth? Finally what the flock is Iron Man doing in this book? I have the feeling that with the success of the Iron Man movie that his insertion into this book was more about lining up with the movie then any other reason. Bottom line it is a fun series, not worth the $4 price tag, at $3 it would be fine.

Thor #9 by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic was a flat out great fight scene as King Thor, Avenger Thor and Viking Thor fight Gorr and his space worm. Of course the big problem I have with almost any episodic story that says it is part 3 of five, I know the Thor(s) can’t win yet. I keep hoping some writer can put in a climax of the story in the middle and surprise me with the story having a different ending, but not this time. It is without a doubt one of the coolest fight scenes this week and maybe for the month. Not a philosophical book, but good entertainment.

In spite of myself I picked up Green Lantern Corps #21, as I was off this title when Fialkov left under a cloud of editorial mandates. My curiosity got the better of me and Venditti is co-plotting and I have not heard of Van Jensen before, so I took a chance. It was okay. Number one Bernard Chang is way down on the list of artists whose work I want to see. It also went a little all over the place, but it did set in motion the next major enemy that the GL Corps will have to face and that is the *&^%$, I’ll let you find out if you decide to read it. In spite of Chang, I’ll be back for another issue, but this book is on a month by month death watch.

The last book I will mention is Suicide Squad #21 by Ales Kot and Patrick Zircher. The last team got the book this far and for the new DCU any book outside of the Johns, Snyder, Superman realm that gets this far deserves a cookie. The raves have been high on this book and I agree that Kot has scripted a good story and Zircher’s art is always well done. He is a true rising star in the industry in my book. Harley Quinn does a take over of the organization and ends up cutting a new deal for the Squad. It is all well done and the additional of James Gordon Jr. was a masterstroke. But the problem I have is I still have no clue of the purpose of the group. The missions have become secondary to the character study.  I want both and now that we have a new status quo, maybe we get that next issue.

Just two this week, so that is a wrap. Come back next week for my sort of swan song. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Week of June 12 in Review Part 1 of 2 - Scott Snyder Week

Okay I’m officially “retiring” from the blog after next week’s post. This does not mean I quitting the blog that I started almost seven years ago this August. What it means is I’m no longer working under a deadline. I will post a review, rant, nomination for the Comics And Hall of Fame and other diatribes about comics, but will not worry about when I actually do a post.  A few years back I turned over management of the blog to Lee, who has been with the blog almost from its inception. What he and the boys plan to do in the future will be their decision and I’m sure they will let you know. Please dry your tears; I will still be here, just not on a schedule.

Of course before we jump into any remarks on last week’s books, we need to give you next week’s list. The Cosmic Comix hook up for the clean and simple cut and Midtown for all the details and list of variant covers you could want. Next week brings the new 100 Bullet mini-series, the final Age of Ultron (click on link for a fun send up of the ending), Dream Thief #2, Captain Midnight #0 ( that name sounds dirty), Wild Blue Yonder #1, Invincible, Harbinger, Bloodshot, Wonder Woman, Superior Spider-Man and many more. It looks to be a good week.

Okay I called this segment Scott Snyder week because he has three books that came out, Superman Unchained #1, Batman #21 and American Vampire Special (under Vertigo). I hope that Snyder is making a boatload of money because without him DC has nothing. Batman has been a top selling title under his pen and now after probably five years we have a readable Superman comic. Add to that the nice one-shot to tide us over while the series is on hiatus and you have three very good comics in one week. If Snyder is not at DC, Batman will still do okay and was great under Morrison, but it will not be the mega hit it is now. Superman will of course be continued to be published, but it will be most likely more of the same trash that has been put out there. Finally without Snyder, there is no American Vampire.

American Vampire the Road to Hell was a great one shot. It was also a spotlight for artist Rafael Albuquerque because he co-plotted and scripted the book. I think Rafael maybe only the third person outside of Snyder and Stephen King to script an AV story. It was an extra long issue that told the story of a young couple who are turned into Vampires and how they still managed to have a happy ending before their final ending. It featured the 50’s greaser type as a Vampire hunter and introduced a strange little boy who I think maybe prominent in the next story line when AV comes back. A terrific read and a book that while pricey at $7 still delivered the bang for the buck with an extra issued and a very good story.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 12 Week in Review Preview

Only two parts this week boys and girls as I slack off while heading into the sunset.

Clips for the posts!

The Week of June 12 in Review Part 1 of 2 - Scott Snyder Week

Now we come to why DC should be kissing the ring of Scott Snyder, Superman Unchained #1. I can’t believe I read an in continuity Superman comic and actual enjoyed it. It has been a very long time since that has happened. All Star Superman was not in continuity. I would say it was the Johns/Frank stuff that was the last good Superman work that was done at DC. This issue had the stunt with the poster size page embedded in the book, which is another DC weakness. They are more focused on marketing stunts they producing the best books they can. Fortunately that is not the case with Snyder as the story read great. It showed us Superman in action, gave us the traditional supporting cast (not sure who they are in other books) and gave

us a great mystery to be solved over the course of the story. ……….

The Week of June 12 in Review Part 2 of 2 -  Some High Points for the Week

Joe Hill’s Thumbprint #1 (of 3) may have been the best book I have read this week. It was based on a novella by Hill, written by Jason Ciaramela and art by Vic Malhotra. I was immediately drawn into the story. It is about a young woman who has left the army after being involved in the Abu Ghraib incident during the Iraq War. It was a black eye for the US when the army’s torture of POWs was exposed. We are seeing her story of both what happened to her at Abu Gharib, her adjustment back into civilian life and a mystery threat that is noted by someone leaving an envelope with a thumbprint in it. It is only going to be three issues long and obviously we do not have all the answers in issue #1, but we are getting a picture of Mallory Grennan……………..

Come back Monday and Tuesday for the full length feature attraction.

Comic Covers Sunday: Epic Illustrated

It's Father's Day so I went with a manly magazine this week.  Actually, it's one of the last great comic magazines that was produced!

Epic Illustrated #1, Spring 1980 
Painted:  Frank Frazetta
The first issue not only had a fantastic over by Frazetta but included a Silver Surfer story by Stan Lee and John Buscema, a story by Arthur Suydam, and of course, the start of the Dreadstar saga.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Superman Unchained #1 – Not Quite a Review, More of an Impression

It took me two tries to get through this book.  When I finally did finish it, I still wasn’t hooked into the new series.  This is the biggest launch since the New 52 and that’s the whole problem (for me) – It’s still IN the New 52 and I don’t like that universe much anymore.  Of course I knew that going in; I mean how can you NOT notice that ridiculous collar on Superman’s costume.  Let me go on record to say that I HATE IT!!!  There were a plethora of really awesome (and expensive) variant covers for this book and it was a perfect example of why the iconic costume that was virtually the same for over 70 years is still the best.  (The Dan Jurgens and Jose Garcia-Lopez covers were things of beauty.)  Star Trek: The Next Generation’s third season collar add-on was much needed, but that’s because it changed pajamas into a military uniform. Superman’s new neck-piece just doesn’t go well with the cape.  And don’t get me started on those lines all over the suit.  Jim Lee’s a talented artist, but I don’t like his designs here.

I also don’t like the young-ish Clark Kent.  I followed Superman and Action Comics for a good half-a-year or more before bailing on both titles.  Knowing that’s he’s been making time with Wonder Woman certainly makes things worse.  I love Superman, just not this one.  So, keep that in mind as you read my impressions on the inaugural issue as I’ve definitely got a bias going in.

SPOILERS May Follow (I really don’t plan on going to deep into the book).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Gun Machine by Warren Ellis

Ever so often one of us here at Comics And... actually reads a book.  It doesn't happen often because books take so long to read.  Before you snicker at that comment, think about it for a second!  If I don't like a comic I've only wasted 10, maybe 15 minutes, of my life.  If I don't like a book, I've wasted hours AND time that I could've been reading a good comic.

This past week I read Gun Machine, a novel by Warren Ellis.  I am happy to say that it was fine.  If you want to know why it wasn't great, read on but be warned SPOILERS abound.


I've been promoting this for the last month and tonight's the night.  It's going to be AWESOME!

Morning Glories: Truants - TPB 4

Considering how much time passes between these trades, and the glacial pace of the story, I tend to remember a lot of the plot line and characters in these books.  Truants is the most recent collection of Morning Glories, the spooky/creepy/unsettling story of a private academy and its uncertain mission that spans centuries.  I'd say its an "ends justify the means" story except I haven't any idea what the ends are yet.  Twenty-five issues into the story and almost three years since the first issue came out, it's still a mystery.

We've taken a right turn of sorts through these six issues.  Our original focus on the six new students at Morning Glory Academy has shifted to an earlier group of students who were sent as moles to undermine the academy.  The original six (well, the five that are still alive) make some appearance in this arc, but not much.  In fact, it's really only two of them.  The other three aren't seen much at all.  Spencer, Eisma and Esquejo fill in the back story on this other bunch and have them duking it out with the school adminstration in current time.  Much murder and mayhem ensues.  We've thrown in some time travel again, too.  The most significant development is learning more about the background of Daramount and Hodge, as well as some unexpected machinations.  Oh, one of our favorite villains among the staff bites the dust, too.

Spencer has said one of the inspirations for the book is Lost.  I don't have the hatred of that show that Jim does, but by the end of its run the creators and writers had some difficulty in wrapping up the huge number of story lines and time jumping they'd created.  Time travel stories have a tendency to bring that about.  I hope Spencer has a clear goal in mind and a firm grasp of how to get there, but he has just about as many balls in the air as Lost did.

If nothing else it remains a beautiful book to look at.  I'm not at the point where Lee is with buying books for the art, but it certainly helps keep my interest here.  If the art were of a lesser quality I'd be more inclined to let this one go, but the story is just interesting enough and just tight enough that I have some hope for a good conclusion, eventually.  I might be retired by then, but eventually.  Since Spencer says it's planned for about 100 issues, and we've taken 3 years to get this far, I'm guessing about 9 more years.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Whiteout Volume Two: Melt

Yes, it's back to the Baltimore County Library again.  Lovin' this new, large branch and its selections.

Naturally, I enjoyed the first volume of Whiteout that I can back for the second.  Greg Rucka and Seve Lieber do something you don't usually see in sequels, though.  They went an entirely different direction from the original.

Where the original story was a detective story about finding the mysterious killer(s) of a scientist on the Antarctic ice, this one's an action adventury spy story.  Carrie Stetko, exiled US Marshall, is still our hero, though.  And we're still in Antarctica, mostly.

This time a whole station full of Russians is killed and a stockpile of small nukes is stolen.  Yeah, by treaty no weapons are supposed to be on Antarctica, but you know governments and their "just in case the other guy's doing it" mentality.  The theives are also Russians.  They're mercenaries out for the money the nukes will bring.

Chasing them are Stetko and a Russian spy dude, each with the mission of recovering the nukes but undermining the other.  Carrie's supposed to get the nukes so that the US can hold it over the Russians.  Naturally, Russian guy's supposed to get the nukes to prevent embarrassment to his government.

The mercenaries may be quite good at their jobs but they don't know enough about surviving in Antarctica.  By the time Carrie and spy guy catch up to them the ice and snow has already killed several, leaving only 3 guys.  Carrie and spy guy get stuck in a storm along the way of the chase and have a nice two page sex scene to kill the time.  Naturally, Carrie decides not to hijack the nukes from spy guy and lets him take them, even though the sex was just for fun, not attachment.  Of course, he did save her life, too.  A couple of times, come to think of it.

Like the original, this was a very enjoyable book.  It's characters are well developed and fun to follow.  Only Carrie and Delpy, the pilot, carry over from the previous book, so Rucka and Lieber develop a whole cast of new characters for this story.  They do so quickly and well.  As this read was a library book, I may well buy it later so it can be paired with first on the shelves.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Burning Building Comix by Jeff Zwirek

I often think that we, as comic book fans, forget that comic books are primarily a visual medium. Like all visual mediums, comic book graphics need to be played with, stretched, and tweaked to keep them fresh and exciting. I can’t tell you how bored I get with books that are splash page after splash page after splash page (Marvel!) or books that are 3 tier panel page after 3 tier panel page after 3 tier panel page (DC!). This is why I am always on the lookout for artists that are willing to push the medium, willing to try something different, or just experimenting with formats other than the same 7x10 comic book I read every week. Because I wanted something different, this week I read Burning Building Comix, written and illustrated by Jeff Zwirek, published by Imperial Press.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Week of June 4 in Review Part 3 of 3 – Everything Else

As I look to transition away from weekly work I hope to do more opinion pieces discussing things like who is the creator of Superman as he exists today, are comics important to Warner Brothers and Disney and other such topics. I also want to start a series of columns where I induct creators and characters in the Comics And… prestigious Hall of Fame. For fun maybe try and do an occasional Hall of Shame. Of course a few reviews and rants thrown in along the way, just no longer on a set schedule. As I work out the timing with the crew I will let you know also.
Geez, another long preamble, it is like I can never get to the point of these posts sometimes. This post is more the short blurb type of thing.

Earth 2 #13 by James Robinson and Yildiray Cinar. I enjoy this book, I’m not dead in love with it, but I like it. I’m bummed Robinson has walked away from it as he seems to have had a long range plan for what he is doing. I’m not 100% against him leaving as that long range plan is taking forever. Also as much as I love Robinson, he seriously over writes a modern comic
as can be seen from the scanned page. The series is has such a wide ranging cast it is hard to pull it altogether so the book has been more about Earth 2 and not a true super hero group book which I kept expecting. I’m curious if DC will still do a second book and what the long term plans are now for Earth 2. Sadly I like Earth 2 better then the new DCU.

Buy it for now.

The Avengers #13 is by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and Mike Deodato. It is hard to not like a book by Mike Deodato. I keep remembering he had a different style at DC and I thought I read where Marvel asked him to adjust his style. Anyway he is a star at Marvel now. One thing I will give this series is that I sold the first 12 issues for $36 on Ebay, so it was almost a rental situation for me to read along. I’m concerned to see Nick Spencer’s name on this book as I’m not a fan of his work and wonder where this is going. This concludes the arc of the strange children of the Savage Land brought about by the builders. It is a good story but how this is all going to play out and pull together is questionable. Hickman’s plan appears to be too ambitious or at least needs a faster pace  then even the one it is on now.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Week of June 4 in Review – Part 2 of 3 – Five Books That Rocked

This week was so massive that I have not had a chance to read close to everything but these five are the type of books that keep me reading comics.

After far too long of an absence Astro City has returned, this time it is under the Vertigo banner. Who knows all the convoluted machinations that must have gone on behind the scenes, but I don’t care as long as the creators are happy and we are getting an Astro City comic. Kurt Busiek in the back matter explains that he has been dealing with a long term illness that saps his ability to work as much as he would like. He states that he is recovered enough to be more productive and that during the interim he has stockpiled 10 full issues of scripts. So now if there are delays in publishing I’m guessing it won’t occur for over a year. Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have managed to create a world of super heroes that tell stories about people first and foremost. By morphing his man on the street POV from the Marvel series, Kurt now tells us stories about people. Powers maybe involved, but it is the story of the person and the character study that is the most interesting. Brent Anderson always does his best work on Astro City and Alex Sinclair is one of the finest colorists in the industry. It is all topped off with Alex Ross’ signature photo realistic style on the cover. This is a perfect comic book package. Heck Kurt is even promising to keep a page for letters, something sadly missing in any book published by DC.

The Week if June 5 in Review Part 1 of 3 - Three Marvel Books

I’m growing very tired of the weekly grind. I have constantly toyed with the idea of quitting the blog altogether. As of August 24 it will be seven years ago that I started the blog. I will have to discuss with Lee, Thomm, Matthew and Shawn more about my plans. I think I want to jump to a format that is a little more spontaneous. In others words no set schedule for when I post. I’m just playing out my thoughts. In many ways I think I have said what I want to say about comics, yet I’m opinionated and always have something in my head to say about a comic as I’m reading it. I also keep exploring different ways to approach how I talk about a comic.

Alright enough rambling, here are the requisite lists for next week’s books with the clean list at Cosmic Comix and the detailed list at Midtown Comics. Marvel comes in the lightest for me with only Alpha, Guardians, Thor and Wolverine. DC actually does okay with me next week as I have decided to try all the GL books with the new writers and Snyder has his Superman book out next week. Who scheduled this crap? DC has Batman and Superman Unchained coming out the same week. Otherwise I’m picking up American Vampire (back for a one shot I believe), Demon Knights (cancelled), GL Corps try out issue, Stormwatch HC (Warren Ellis stuff), Suicide Squad, Threshold (also a cancelled title) and the Batman and Superman books. The Alternative Press win the week as it often does (and American Vampire should be in this category) with Walking Dead, Doomsday, Half Past Danger (great fun), Thumprint, Black Beetle, Breath of Bones, Star Wars, X, Shadow, Six Gun Gorilla (had to try it), Stuff of Legends and Harbinger Wars. I’m very curious about Superman Unchained. I think Snyder’s Batman has been good to great, but not the best ever and I’m not a big Jim Lee fan. It all adds up to limited expectations about the Superman title. No matter it has to be better then the other books since I won’t even picked them up.

Onto the reviews or thoughts I had about books I read this week. This part of the series of posts I want to talk a little bit about what themes intentionally or unintentionally Marvel is writing about in some of there books.

I’m starting with Superior Spider-Man #11. I realized the book is making an interesting point about what it is to be a hero. Peter is now gone and Otto is totally in charge. The book has become more vibrant and alive then it has been in a long time and brought me back into the fold. The reason is that we have the illusion of change and what a great illusion. It is Peter Parker, but he is no longer the Peter we knew, it is now his greatest enemy taking over Peter’s life. Otto seems to be better at it in many ways and is perhaps still a little too aggressive in other ways. From what I have seen the sales are sky high and maybe Otto remains Spider-Man for a long time. Heck he is Peter Parker, so the change is internal and plays to the comic fans while keeping the corporate masters happy. The question becomes what makes someone a hero. Is Superior Spider-Man a hero? Doc Ock is an acknowledged mass murderer and was for many years (in comic books years it may only be about 10, but heck he still killed a lot of people). Is this a story of redemption? Is there no limit to the bad you do that can be at least mitigated by now doing some good? How is it that Doc Ock is now totally in charge and still being a good guy? Does the Joker get a chance to redeem himself one day? I find the story interesting because I’m not rooting for Superior to win, but I have noticed that we are ratcheting up the level of the bad guys. They are worse then ever. How does this play out when Peter Parker himself returns (or will the 2099 Spider-Man be the Superior Spider-Man for a year? It also points out that Peter Parker is no longer interesting. Like reading my opinion on certain things, you know what they are by now and if you are a regular reader you are possibly bored in hearing it again. Have we become that way with Peter Parker? Is the hero who does the right thing no longer exciting? What does that say about us as readers, just excited for a new take or do we have a desire to see things in a harsher light?

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The Week of June 4 in Review Preview

A slight different slant as I find I can never have a consistent format.  It is only three parts this week.
The Week if June 5 in Review Part 1 of 3 -   Three Marvel Books

Onto the reviews or thoughts I had about books I read this week. This part of the series of posts I want to talk a little bit about what themes intentionally or unintentionally Marvel is writing about in some of there books.

I’m starting with Superior Spider-Man #11. I realized the book is making an interesting point about what it is to be a hero. Peter is now gone and Otto is totally in charge. The book has become more vibrant and alive then it has been in a long time and brought me back into the fold. The reason is that we have the illusion of change and what a great illusion. It is Peter Parker, but he is no longer the Peter we knew, it is now his greatest enemy taking over Peter’s life. Otto seems to be better at it in many ways and is perhaps still a little too aggressive in other ways. From what I have seen the sales are sky high and maybe Otto remains Spider-Man for a long time. Heck he is Peter Parker, so the change is internal and plays to the comic fans while keeping the corporate masters happy. The question becomes what makes someone a hero. Is Superior Spider-Man a hero?

Comic Covers Sunday: Hourman

Even 5-10 years it seems like there is a series that is good, borderline great, that never finds an audience.  The series eventually gets the terrible nickname of "cult classic" which eventually leads to some nerd boy or girl writing fanfiction about it.  Hourman isn't quite there yet but it should be.  Hourman was a critical darling that never sold well but it did feature some of Tom Peyer's best writing and interior art by (little known then) Rags Morales.  It is worth hunting down and here are some of the best covers.

Hourman #1, April 1999
Pencils: Scott McDaniel
Inks: John Dell
As far as an first issue cover, I have to say this does everything right.  The main character is prominently featured.  The villain, all in red, is shown and appears menacing.  The JLA shows up just in case you weren't sure who the character was. 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Daredevil: Dark Nights #001 – A Review

I eagerly encourage you to go out and get this issue and experience it for yourself.  But if you need to hear my lavish praise to convince you, please continue.  Or if you've already read it, see if you agree with me.


Daredevil: Dark Nights #001
Writer & Artist: Lee Weeks
Color Artist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $2.99

Lee Weeks has long been one of my favorite artists and he’s certainly in the Top 10 (or Top 5) for drawing Daredevil. He’s also doubling as the writer here (not his first time I think) and he’s created a wonderful story that is the very definition of excellence.  The pacing, setting, characterization, mood, conflict, drama, dialogue, etc. could all be used to teach a class on how to make a great comic book.  The art is stupendous.  It not only looks fantastic, but it conveys scenes like an Academy Award winning movie.  “Angels Unaware” could very well be my favorite thing he’s ever done and it’s a textbook Daredevil tale that reveals the essence of the character (sans Ninjas).  All this praise and I’ve only read the first chapter (“Whiteout”) of the three-part arc.

Friday, June 07, 2013

IDW Previews for August

Lee: IDW used to always be my favorite previews but not so much lately. It seems like Image and DH have really stolen their mojo. If I were a bigger GI Joe, Star Trek, or Dr. Who fan I’d be thrilled but…

Thomm: Yeah, IDW has a lot of the licensed stuff. Even as a fan of Star Trek and Dr Who, that hasn’t translated into me wanting to buy comics about them.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1
Phil Hester (w) • Andrea Di Vito (a) • Di Vito x 4 (c)
The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are dead, or will soon be, unless new recruit Dynamo can master the incredible but lethal power of the Thunderbelt in time to rescue his teammates from the mysterious Iron Maiden. The timeless heroes return to comics with a vengeance in this blistering first issue from writer Phil Hester (Godzilla, Invincible Universe, Wonder Woman) and artist Andrea Di Vito (Dungeons & Dragons)!
Lee: The sad part of this… I have no interest in these characters. It’s nothing against Hester or Di Vito because they’re a good creative team. DC is to blame! They really used up any good will I had with the last botched launching of the series/characters. Which begs the question, how did IDW get them?
Thomm: I’d have to care to answer that question. I paid no attention when DC had them. I’ll pay no attention now. Thunderbelt? Sounds like a suspicious weight loss device.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The List - May 2013

With the end of some questionable books, either by design or lack of readership, I've added some new titles to my reading.  Some of them are the result of successful FCBD promotions.  One is a recommendation by Jim.  One is an addition because the writer has garnered my interest in another title.  All that being said, I found that this month's selections were largely on par with one another.  There's not a bad one in the bunch.

1. Fairest 15 - A new story arc this month.  The Return of the Maharaja doesn't surprise in who the Maharaja is, even though he isn't seen until the last page.  That's because he's on the cover.  Between the hero, Nalayani, whose tale told to Charming is the currency of the issue, and the return of Charming, Fairest went to the top of the List of what I enjoyed reading this month.  Nalayani's story is one of strength and determination in the face of perilous danger.  Charming is his expected charming in his brief moments in the book.  Nonetheless, it's great to see him again.  I haven't read any stories with him since he died in the pages of Fables.

2. The Walking Dead 110 - So now the complaints about a guy having a tiger
can stop, right?  Ezekiel's back story, told to Michonne, lays it our perfectly why he has such a big cat, why it doesn't kill him, and why he's the leader of his community.  Actually, I'm kind of eager to see what the letters column response is in a couple of issues.  Beyond Ezekiel's story, Jesus saves the day when he stops Kal from betraying the plan to Negan's people.  I'm a little disappointed we have no Negan and his multifaceted F bombs this issue, though.  No doubt he'll be bombing away shortly.

3. Fables 129 - Hoo-rah!  Snow's in kick ass mode and Brandish is down for the count!  Of course, no battle goes without collateral damage, and this is no exception.  Ok, I for one don't believe this damage is permanent.  We've seen the damage Jack can take and Snow herself was shot by Goldilocks in the early days of the book, with a wound that would have been fatal to a Mundy.  Willingham, Buckingham and Leialoha have nicely dovetailed the end of this story with the end of the Therese arc, as she shows up at the door in her adult form just as she did at the end of her story.  Clearly there is no shortage of stories in these guys' minds.

4. The Unwritten 49 - Another great return with Lizzie back in this book.
  Bonus for the ever villianous Pullman returning, too.  As alway, Carey and Gross pull in a great literary reference in the course of the story.  This time we have the tale of Orpheus in the escape from Hades.  All of this reminds me of their great work on Lucifer, of course.  Regardless, Tom's plan seems sound.  I wonder who it is who provided the push in his plan when none of his companions seemed willing.  More importantly, I hope this cross-over with Fables works out.  The Jack of Fables/Fables cross-over was my least favorite span of the Fables saga.  I hope this works better.

5. Sex 3 - Considering not a lot happens in this issue, I quite liked it.  Really, not much plot advanced.  The Alpha Brothers do a little cleaning of a mess.  The old man is crazy as hell and pulls a guy's teeth out to make sure he doesn't have a transmitter in them.  Our young couple have some nice sex and our Catwoman stand in enjoys a favorite toy while remembering/fantasizing about a past meeting with our Batman stand in.  It's just that the characters are so interesting to watch, whether or not they're having sex, that it's a fun read without a lot of action.  Can't say there's no action, as a guy gets shot in the head and teeth get pulled, as well as the aforementioned sex, but it's not wall to wall slugfest or anything.

6. Wonder Woman 20 - I would never have thought of Dionysius, of all the
gods, being so malevolent looking.  He's been in the book a few other issues but it struck me with the opening sequence in this issue, what with the pointy teeth and red eyes.  And now we know who the woman with the First Born is.  The gods and godlings here spin their histories like any politician, as Cassandra makes clear, if the conversations between Ares, Apollo and Dionysius didn't make it clear.  I must say, I prefer this weary version of Ares over the heedless warrior of the Perez version from the '80s.  Not that the Perez version wasn't the best thing to happen to Wonder Woman at the time, but this version is so much more interesting and multidimensional.  Next issue we get to see the conflict between an irresistable force and an immovable object.  Excellent.

7. Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventurs 8 - Annie Oakley and Wong Kei-ying blow up a train.  Do you need more description than that?  Ok.  It's a near constant battle throughout the issue.  This is your high action book, with a couple of pages of nefarious plotting thrown in for good measure.  The backup story about Robo and crew in Egypt is brief and amusing, with the rest of the pages taken up with a preview of the returning Neozoic (which came out before this book).  Aside from wanting more pages in the main story, a very enjoyable read.

8. Thief of Thieves 14 - Andy Diggle is on board as writer for this arc.
  Unlike the transition between the first and second arcs, which were really separate stories, the transition from the second arc to this third arc is seamless and a continuation of the same story.  Redmond's got a new mission to save Augustus from his own idiocy and has his ex-wife joined in for the massive con that will be needed to save the boy.  Will that be lots of tension leading to a nostalgic roll in the hay for them or a punch in the face for Redmond whenever she has the chance?  Maybe both.

9. Thor: God of Thunder 8 - Gorr's boy explains the rationale for the god bomb.  Can you say god bomb and not enjoy the sound of it?  I can't.  Throw in Thor's trio of daughters and young Thor's Tarzan look and you've got a great looking book, too.  Oh, don't forget space sharks.  Who doesn't like space sharks?  Best line of the month: "Nay.  The time for words has past.  Now we let the hammers talk."

10. The Wake 1 - And now we get to one of the month's new books.  This is
something I thought for a time there might not be any longer - a new Vertigo title.  Granted, it's a 10 issue series, but still.  Scott Snyder as writer is the obvious draw.  In fact, Snyder is a much better reason to read this than the previews that have been running in Vertigo titles this month.  The preview doesn't present any of what is the main story line in this issue.  That line is far more interesting than the high seas future that's in the preview and comprises the first several pages of this issue.  The rest of the issue is about gathering a team to resolve a problem Homeland Security has.  I did find the view of Homeland Security as some bottomless pit of money, oil explorer, and high fashion bastion highly amusing.  The only real drawback, though, was that seeing Sean Murphy's art just made me miss American Vampire.

11. Damsels: Mermaids 1 - This was one of the books that was the result of a successful FCBD promotion.  Despite the cover this is no T&A book.  Or T&F in this case.  There's a very good fantasy story here, written by Matt Sturges with art by Jean Paul Deshong.  A depressed mermaid and a deposed prince become companions and allies and set off on adventure.  Wizards and goblins appear at different points.  I like our lead characters already, so I'm going to see where this goes.

12. Memorial: Imaginary Friends 3 - Thus concludes a brief story in the Memorial 'verse.  I don't think the story forwarded the larger quest that M is on, but it was a nice little story all the same. 

13. The Bounce 1 - Because I'm enjoying Sex I decided to give this Casey title a look, too.  It has some similarity to Sex in that it's a superhero world that works off the Big Two premises but takes things in a different, unfettered direction.  There's no retired hero here.  This one is more Spider-man-esque with his banter and quick movements.  There's some grand conspiracy going on with some dude who eats small lizards whole guiding things, if not in charge.  An interesting start.

14. Ten Grand 1 - This was the Jim recommendation I tried.  A good recommendation, too.  I may actually come off my reluctance to read JMS penned singles if this book continues at its level of quality and comes out with some regularity.  Ben Templesmith's art doesn't hurt matters, either.  A veteran hit man who charges $10k for each job and who is taking jobs to redeem himself to one day be with his dead girlfriend is an intriguing premise.

15. Neozoic: Trader's Gambit 1 - It's been years since the original Neozoic came out.  It was a great book, and it did at least conclude its opening arc, but there was clearly a lot more to tell.  This issue is jumping on where the original left off.  It's planned for 4 issues and is starting off well.  I just hope there isn't such a long gap to the next arc after this one.

16. Bodie Troll 1 - Red 5 has more on my list this month than it has ever had.  This is another FCBD promotion success, as this 4 issue series is going to be a lot of all ages fun.  Can a too cute troll overcome the limitations of his appearance to become a scary troll?  Probably not because his personality matches his appearance.  Bring on the floor rolled roots for lunch!

17. The Shadow: Year One 3 - Dynamite's making a good showing this month, too.  Doesn't hurt to have Matt Wagner writing a book for you.  Dr Zorn looks like the opposite number to The Shadow.  The funny thing is that the name seems like an actual name rather than a nom du guerre.  If you like good girl art, check out the covers for the next issue, too.

18.  The Massive 11 & 12 - I'm not sure how I ended up with two issues this month.  Then again, I don't know how environmental distress brings the return of a Megalodon, either.  Issue 11 featured the ongoing search for The Massive but with Mary handing the reins of Cal's captaincy to Lars in anticipation of Cal's demise.  Something of a land shark moment in the book, too.  Stretch credibility a bit.  Issue 12 has more of a mental demise than physical for Cal.  It also shows some of Cal's origin, all while the Kapital is stuck in polar ice.  Mary may have made Lars captain but she's in charge now.

19. Dark Horse Presents 24 - Blackout is previewed this issue.  It's a beautiful book with a good hero premise.  Alabaster, Bloodhound, King's Road, Nexus, and Brain Boy all continue, too.  The most interesting thing for me, though, was the return of Ron Randall's Trekker.  I have the original issues from back in the '80s, when black and white was the thing.  I thnk Randall's writing and art have both improved in the intervening decades.  It's good to see Mercy St Clair back again.

20. Batwoman 20 - Ah, a truly comic book superhero, or in this case supervillain, return to life.  I'll let the magic sarcophagus bit go because I want to see more about Alice, but it's this kind of thing that makes superhero stories so impermanent.