Wait, What? Ep. 93: Thrill Power Overboard

PhotobucketAbove: The Chocolate Waffle, which is a liege waffle covered in dark chocolate, from The Waffle Window, Portland, OR

Yup, Episode 93.  I would say more but I'm slightly overwhelmed with the amount of shite multitasking I'm currently doing (kinda dashing back and forth between two computers at opposite ends of the room at the moment, which neither makes me feel like a mad scientist or a keyboardist in Journey but just someone who is old, Internet, so terribly old).

On the other hand (and behind the jump):  show notes!

0:00-7:51: Greetings; getting schooled by Graeme on Tharg and the mascots of 2000AD and other British comics, with a half-hearted attempt by Jeff to pitch Mascot Wars [working title] 7:51-11:37:  By contrast, Jeff guiltily admits he's been reading the first volume of the Vampirella Archives 11:37-13:37:  Somehow this leads to a discussion of the fascinating copyright information found in Dynamite Books 13:37-15:51: Bless him, Jeff is not giving up so easily on his Mascot Wars idea 15:51-18:55: Jeff gripes about getting back into the routine after his Portland trip, Graeme gripes a bit about getting back into his routine after the 4th of July holiday 18:55-20:52:And so, finally, we start talking comic news--the announcement of Marvel NOW! and the launch of Monkeybrain comics. 20:52-24:35:  Graeme has a thing about the Uncanny Avengers cover and I really cannot blame him; 24:35-25:57: And since we are on the subject, Graeme has a few things to say about that Marvel NOW! image by Joe Quesada, too. 25:57-38:25: And so we talk about Monkeybrain instead, including Amelia Cole by friend of the podcast Adam Knave, Bandette by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin, the other launch titles, and what we would like to see from the line in the future; 38:25-41:54:  Speaking of fantastic digital comics, the second issue of Double Barrel is out!  And neither of us have read it. But it is out!  And you should consider getting it.  Because it is also Top Shelf and also coming out in digital, we talk James Kochalka's American Elf. 41:54-49:57: Jeff talks about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 2009. Here there be spoilers! 49:57-1:06:42:Graeme's interesting rebuttal concerns whether bad art can be forgiven if it is suitably ambitious. We have a tussle of sorts and then move on to discuss when does the creator develop that "not so fresh" feeling.  (Bonus: Graeme does a pretty great job of justifying our existence, pretty much). 1:06:42-1:15:37: Incentivizing the singles? Does it work?  Brian Wood's The Massive, Ed Brubaker's Fatale, and more discussion of the Monkeybrain publishing plan and a discussion of what works in the direct market. 1:15:37-1:29:48:  Who is stronger, Watchmen or Walking Dead?  Fight! 1:29:48-1:38:32:The possible Thief of Thieves TV show and the need to keep creating new IP for Hollywood; and when or if the Big Two will come around on that. 1:38:32-1:42:37: Uncanny Avengers.  We are a little fixated. Also, Graeme sings the ballad of Cafe Gratitude (except he doesn't sing and it's not a ballad).  And then some clever Brass Eye jokes that Graeme has to explain to Jeff.  Again. 1:42:37-1:47:36: On the other hand, Jeff did get to the comic store that week so he has that going on for him.  His quickie reviews while Graeme listens on helplessly:  Batman, Inc. #2, Fatale #6, The New Deadwardians #3 and 4; Mind MGMT #2; Prophet #26; Popeye #3 (which is awesome and must-have-ish); Tom Neely's Doppelganger; Flash #10; and Action Comics #11. 1:47:36-2:04:08: San Diego Comic Con! Graeme has two questions about it.  Crazy predictions are made and anxiety dream stories are exchanged. [brrt! brrt! David Brothers alert! brrt! brrt!]  Also, Jeff once again tries to coin the term "Nerd Vietnam" to describe SDCC. 2:04:082:09:20-: Closing comments, and a few reviews of waffles from the Waffle Window.  And then....sign off!

If you are of an iTunesian inclination, you may have already chanced upon us.  But if not, we offer you the chance to give a listen right here and now:

Wait, What?, Episode 93: Thrill Power Overboard

And as always, we hope you enjoy--and thanks for listening!

"We'll Have Our Race Back, America!" COMICS! Sometimes The President is Frankenstein!

Pat Mills! Kevin O'Neill! A comic that is basically Marshal Law but where cars stand in for the super power set! That's what this one is about, when it actually stays on track. Which it doesn't. Oh, belated Happy 4th July!


So, I went to Cornwall for the week. There may have been corn but there certainly wasn't walls of the stuff. Cornwall is very clean. Disturbingly clean. It was okay, however, I felt super guilty about not posting anything. Then...well, when Messrs. Hibbs, Khosla and Lester are demonstrating How Words Are  Done I content myself with the crossword (1. DOWN: Superfluous "J-o-h_ ") So, this one's just an attempt to limber up and get back into the flow.


DEATH RACE 2020 #1-3 Art by Kevin O’Neill Written by Pat Mills & Tony skinner Lettered by Christine Barnett Coloured by Digital Chameleon Celebrity Car Crash Corners by Dave Cooper,Pat Moriarty  and Bob Fingerman Roger Corman’s Cosmic Comics, $2.50ea (1995) DEATH RACE 2020 is based in part on the film Death Race 2000 written by Robert Thom and Charles Griffith, directed by Paul Bartel, and produced by Roger Corman


So briefly did Roger Corman’s Cosmic Comics imprint last that it doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry. The Krankies have a Wikipedia entry, but not Roger Corman’s Cosmic Comics. But, yes, Roger Corman lent his name to a comics imprint. It was probably one of those Brewster’s Millions type deals that happen more than you would think in real life (which means they only have to have happened once). The comics produced were all based on or were continuations of Corman movie properties. So, there were comics based on Rock'n'Roll High School, The Little Shop of Horrors and Caged Heat 3000. Perhaps someone has read those, if so do let me know how they were. I'd be interested to know if the appeal of a musical can be reproduced on the comics page and, more importantly, also whether the appeal of bawdy teen comedies and chicks behind bars flicks can make good comics. Since this appeal largely revolves around the solitary and borderline OCD activity of pantslessley sitting hunched over sweatily stabbing the remote to pause the film and capture a frozen slice of aureole in a shower scene, I doubt it. Oh yeah, there was also a comic based on Death Race 2000, this comic: DEATH RACE 2020.

(In the comments Mr. Brian Hibbs,  Industry Legend, takes time out from hand-selling SAGA to correctly state that the original Little Shop of Horrors was not a musical.)


The original film, Death Race 2000, was a low budget piece of schlock which involved a Future America which held a legal race where drivers scored points for running over pedestrians. This conceit of a murderous Wacky Races was pretty much the film’s one gift to posterity. And electric blue eye shadow applied liberally. Well, pop culture posterity. The central conceit has remained tenaciously appealing, particularly in the area of gaming. I remember playing Carmageddon 1 and 2 on the PC back in the day and I’m pretty sure GTA’s gameplay was coloured by this film’s existence.  The other thing the film is remembered for is an early role for Sly Stallone. In the first two issues director Paul Bartel reminisces about the film and reveals that Sly was shy about his bum being exposed and requested it be secreted beneath a towel during the massage scene.  What the film isn't remembered for is being very good. It is fun though and the energy of everyone involved manage to make it pleasantly daft viewing.


It’s the kind of film everyone thinks would have been a lot better if it had cost a lot more. Until someone remakes it and it costs a lot more. Which they did in 2008 as Death Race, “starring” Jason Statham. I haven't seen it. That's because I have no time for Jason Statham films. Not because I'm a snob but because I caught a bit of one of those Transporter films and I said, "This is so fucking badly done that if it was a '70s Roger Moore film a drunk would witness some of this daft shit, do a double take and throw his bottle away."  Not thirty seconds passed before this exact thing happened.  I am not making that up. So, no, I have no desire to spend my twilight years watching what are basically bad Roger Moore films. I'm not that desperate for 'irony', thanks. And also, Statham's an uppity oik, he hasn't done the necessaries to deserve his station. It’s no good just jumping straight to The Wild Geese with The Expendables, Statham. You don’t get to do that. The Wild Geese has to be earned, Jason Statham. Where’s your Man Who Haunted Himself, where’s your North Sea Hijack, where’s your Persuaders, Jason Statham? Nowhere. That’s where, Jason Statham. There’s just no respect for the artist’s journey in your work, Statham. Supporting the work of Jason Statham is like keying Roger Moore’s car. Really, I wouldn't want to overstate this but watching Jason Statham films takes us all just one step closer to burning children for fun and using human faeces as currency. So, no, I haven’t seen Death Race. If you have, I hope you enjoyed it.


DEATH RACE 2020 isn't an adaptation of the original it’s a sequel of sorts, set as it is some 20 years after the end of the original and with Frankenstein, the race’s winner, now President of a country in which the Death Race is now illegal. As with most illegal things though the races continue because good times always find a way! Like the film the comic is intended as satire and, like the film, the satire isn't subtle, which is why Pat Mills (and Tony Skinner) is such a great choice. Pat Mills is the kind of writer who can make a strip about a killer polar bear a satirical soapbox so a strip about a satirical soapbox derby is right up his tailpipe.


All the usual Millsian targets are here shambling complacently about as he (and Tony Skinner) bears down on them with the usual ferociously obvious and aggressively strident attacks. This isn't the kind of stuff that makes for reasoned and enlightening debate but it does make for ridiculously entertaining comics. Religion, psychology, the myth of Good triumphing over Evil, the media, stupidity, politics and so on and so forth are all run down and then backed over until the tread on Mills & Skinners' truculent tyres are almost worn away.

In 1985 Wiseblood  released  Motorslug which had a b-side called Death Rape 2000.  (Yeah, sorry it’s not a David Bowie reference. But he scares us old people. Ooooooo! Don’t paint your face and sing about space, David Bowie!) Not only was Death Rape 2000 evidence that young people will always enjoy using the term rape frivolously it was also was one of those "infinite" records they could do by doing whatever they did with the grooves and the vinyl and that stuff. I don’t know. Now you could do it with computers but back then they did it with physical things in the world of matter. Anyway, it was just a repetitive drumbeat (Bam!-Bam!_BAM!-Bam!-Bam!-BAM! Etc.) and I'm sure I  once filled a C120 tape with its tireless dirge because I was always a crazy fun guy loved by ladies and respected by peers. I guess Pat Mills/Tony Skinner’s  writing is a lot like that, repetitive, unvarying in tone or pitch, wearing you down with its remorselessness. Yet, strangely, something I enjoy spending time with.


I'm sure in person he can charm the birds from the trees but, what Pat Mills' approach suggests to me is an all encompassing (and highly entertaining) misanthropy. Mills seems keen on that period where we all dressed in woad, killed the king once a year and the only products from apple were pie and juice. Rolling the clock back that far might be a bit of a stretch and limits the sympathy of a modern audience. But Mills isn't (ever) after audience sympathy, he's after The Man! Although, even this gets confusing. Frankenstein, like many a Mills' "hero" (particularly Mills & O'Neill's Marshal  Law) is pretty much the embodiment of the system he bucks against. The line between what is Wrong and Right is a bit blurry in Mills stuff, stuff which seems to suggest that doing the Wrong Thing is okay as long as you are The Right Man For The Job. Said job being Sticking It To The Man. And The Man isn't you because you Feel Bad about, er, things. It's okay he isn't offering solutions, he just wants people to know there are problems. Which is pretty laudable and since it involves cars powered by the blood of their victims and terrible puns also pretty enjoyable.


Kevin O'Neill is, of course, having a whale of a time on these pages. Vehicles the size of city blocks trundling around smushing all traffic before them, a wired up grandmother's head spitting reactionary bile, a nun bouncing off a wall with a sanctimonious splat, the nipples of news anchors squirming like games players thumbs under a shrink-wrapped top, said top proclaiming "T'n'A", yes, these are all very much things I imagine Kevin O'Neill had fun with. They are certainly things I had fun with seeing Kevin O'Neil drawing. O'Neill is essential to the success of this comic as is testified by my totally ignoring issues 4 thru 8, as they were illustrated by Trevor Goring and I do not wish to upset Trevor Goring. I'm sure he brightens up the life of everyone he comes into contact with, but Trevor Goring is no Kevin O'Neill. But then, who is? Yes, Kevin O'Neill is, thanks for that. Given the series premise it's not surprising that Mills, Skinner and O'Neil arrive in J G Ballard territory pretty lickety split. O'Neill gets to restage that unfortunate Dallas visit together with background cameos from famous assassins and illustrates possibly Mills' greatest (and worst) pun. This may upset some readers, which is entirely intentional, I would have thought. However the fact is it's probably going to not upset a lot more. Given the state of our psychic mindscapes these days it's going to take much more than assassination as slapstick to make people blink.

DEATH RACE 2020 is Pat Mills' practically trademarked satirical silliness illustrated by the unique and worrying Kevin O'Neill and is thus VERY GOOD!

And now to enjoy the British monsoon which is blighting all the laughter in our lives this summer! That's okay because the weather never affects - COMICS!!!

Better than never: Hibbs on 6/27

As far as I am concerned, this isn't "last week's comics" until I open the front door of the store on Wednesday!

BATMAN INCORPORATED #2:  This one is kind of a master class in communication using comics, as Morrison and Burnham basically tell you Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Talia Al'Ghul (But Forgot To Ask) in an incredibly economical, yet massively packed, 20 pages. Some pages have as many as five different scenes on the page! An absolutely EXCELLENT tour-de-force on this one.

  FUCK ALAN MOORE BEFORE WATCHMEN NITE OWL #1: Uh, wow. You know, I expected some of these would be bad, but I really never expected them to be almost a parody of the very idea of prequelling WATCHMEN.

This is just staggeringly bad: from the bizarre rapey childhood home, to the changing the original text (the worst sin of all in a project like this), to the scenes of Rorschach using-'hurm'-as-a-catchphrase ("DY-NO-MITE!"), to the cringeworthy "destiny of love" bullshit, I almost get the feeling that Staczynski thinks he is trying to make WATCHMEN "better". This comic, sadly, just reeks of hubris and shame.

I'd hoped to at least appreciate the art, but I found Joe Kubert's inks to be kind of overpowering on son Andy.

Either way, the writing just kills it here: this is everything you possibly feared a "Before WATCHMEN" comic might be.  Full-on CRAP.


FATIMA THE BLOOD SPINNERS #1: Beto is just insanely prolific, isn't he? Terrifically gory, this is a kind of perfect 70s-ish exploitation B-movie, but totally of the moment as well somehow. Gore! Horror! Large Breasts! I'm glad I live in a world where I'm going to sell more copies of this than of THOR and HULK combined, y'know? GOOD HYPERNATURALS #1 : I think this is kind of a perfect comic for you if you have a sympathy for the basic concept of Legion of Super-Heroes (Future, many heroes from many worlds), but not necessarily liked any specific execution of that concept. Or if you like the Marvel Cosmic stuff that DnA did, it's similar tonally. Extremely sturdy construction of ideas here, if not exactly brimming with truly compelling characters. I thought it was solidly GOOD. LOEG III CENTURY #3 2009:  It may be because I simply "got" more of the references and cameos, but this was vastly my favorite of the three parts of Century, and it brings everything together in a deeply satisfying way. I also find the idea of the universe being saved by **** ******* to also being oddly perfect and correct. Kevin O'Neill's art, as always, veers between the grotesque and perfectly captured. I thought this issue was pretty damn EXCELLENT.

(You can also get v1 & v2 on the Digital Store, if you wanted) PROPHET #26: With all of the people telling me they can't buy this book in their LCS, I'm more and more convinced that Image erred in renumbering from the 90s series. Without a doubt, this is the best science-fiction series being published today. And a great series got better with Brandon Graham himself drawing this issue, and kicking the concept a door open further. I admire (and get frustrated, I admit) by how this book doesn't try and spoon feed you its concepts. Really VERY GOOD stuff. OK, that's really all I have time for today, time to open to the teeming hordes (ha!) I am, seriously, going to try to get to THIS week's books before Friday and be "caught up" again. Wish me luck!


What did YOU think?



Wait, What? Ep. 63.1: Classic's Classic

Photobucket You know what programming languages need? They totally need <cant stop> </wont stop> tags, amirite?  (I would also be equally happy if there were <baller> </shot caller> tags as well, but maybe those would be restricted to the "Diddy on Rails" language, I really couldn't say.)

What I can say, is that Wait, What? Ep. 63.1 is here, and in it Graeme McMillan and I discuss oddball treasures from all over the globe, such as The Spy vs. Spy Omnibus by Antonio Prohias; Nemesis The Warlock by Pat Mills, Kevin O'Neill and Bryan Talbot; Strontium Dog by John Wagner, Alan Grant, and Carlos Ezquerra; Crying Freeman by Kazuo Koike and Ryochi Ikegami; and we dollop more praise on Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga because honestly that sucker could probably use another five or six dollops.

Sinister ducks have probably already unearthed us on iTunes, but they are also invited to waddle about in the dark while listening to us here:

Wait, What? Ep. 63.1: Classic\'s Classic

Installment 2 is right around the corner with some slightly more mainstream fare (although pacing that is far more odd) and somewhere in one of these installments is a dramatic reveal from Graeme about Brad Meltzer's Decoded(!) (Or !!!, depending.)

As always, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy!


"Assholes, Assemble!" Comics! Barbed Wire Laffs Inside!

Before I start blabbing about a guy who hunts heroes but hasn't found any yet here’s some advice I know wish I’d had when I was a teenager: Photobucket

Wise words there, kids. Some not so wise ones after the break… You know who hates super-heroes? No, not Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis! Their hatred of super-heroes is more like when you you’re 15 and you see your best mate down the shops with his girlfriend and when she’s looking in a window he rolls his eyes and sticks his tongue out before snapping to attention and putting his arm back around her when she turns round. It’s more like irritation that they have to write these capes things to pay for their more personal masterpieces consisting as they do of New Scientist articles espoused by the same snippy character in a number of different wigs or rape and dismemberment jokes legitimized by industrial levels of sentimentality. No, that’s less like hatred than the low level resentment of any thermo-dynamic miracle who spends their life behind a desk having to actually work for a living. Pat Mills, however, Pat Mills has a hard-on for super-heroes as big as a Riot Squad Cop’s night stick and he knows how to swing that sucker to inflict maximum dental reconstructive surgery. Swing away, Pat Mills. Swing away!


By Kevin O’Neill/Mark A. Nelson (a), Pat Mills (w), Mark Chiarello, Dave Stewart(c), Phil Felix, Bill Oakley & Elli DeVille(l)

(2003,Titan Books, £14.99/£24.95)

Marshal Law was created by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill in 1987 for an Epic (Marvel) Comics series which has been much discussed by many great minds. The character then ping-ponged around various publishers teaming up with various characters retaining its relentless signature mix of super-hero satire, socio-political commentary and good crude fun. The latter volumes don’t get nearly as much attention as it’s generally agreed that they slide into formula and become one-note one-joke (like me!) affairs with decreasing returns. So rather than dissect the first far more seriously intentioned volume I’ll be turning my watery eye on the final collection. Because that’s where I swim, pal, in the shallows. Also, I just happened to pick it up while I was rearranging the deceased goldfishes’ bowl in The Archive. Anyway the good news is there’s still meat on the bone although it does get a bit grey and gristly towards the end. But, hey, maybe that’s to be expected given how ML comics work? Let’s me and you have a looky loo!


MARSHAL LAW TAKES MANHATTAN (1989) has many notable aspects but none, I think, more notable than the fact that it was initially published by the now entirely humourless Marvel Comics. Almost entirely humourless, I guess, since Marvel has given us the joy of the Marvel Architects photoshoot:


"Blue Steel!"

In this one-shot Pat Mills explicitly recasts super-heroes as products of metal illness. Having already steamrollered over the heroes of The Golden Age in the previous volume (SUPER BABYLON, Dark Horse, 1992) this story focuses more on the Silver and Bronze Age heroes. All your Mighty Marvel favourites are here with the dysfunctions and disabilities inherent in their origins made plain. The whole thing has the air of an issue of NOT BRAND ECCH that has spent a traumatic time in borstal and returned to wreak revenge armed with a ball peen hammer and a roll of duct tape.


"But, but whatever can you mean?!?"

Captain America sucks his thumb while holding the flag and conducting interminable monologues before occasionally leaping into action and describing his actions (“Aiee! Now we are going up the stairs!”), Mister Fantastic talks to his invisible wife (who is patently a delusion), Doctor Strange is a hebephrenic and Daredevil wanders about in the background bumping into things. It’s obvious, brutal, funny and all the more obvious, brutal and funny since Pat Mills is also, in his patented Pat Mills-y way making a point.


"Better than the wink at the end of WHTTMOT anyday!"

This Millsian point is embodied by The Persecutor (remarkably similar to The Punisher) who the good Marshal has been dispatched to bring in by his odious boss McGland. A former CIA Specialist in Enhanced Interrogation Techniques The Persecutor is a wholly unsympathetic turd. He’s used by Mills as an example of where the psychosis of super heroes leads a society. Mills argues that the acceptance of such practices is only possible in a society which holds the default position that it is The Good Guy. Because if you are The Good Guy then nothing you do is wrong.


Interestingly, at least to me, Pat Mills maintains that the concept of the super-hero has been absorbed into Western culture in a damaging way as it, along with numerous other factors, allows the West to casts itself as The Good Guy in an internal cartoon narrative that reduces complex and dangerous real world issues into ones of childish simplicity. If only there were some recent examples of that. If only there weren't. If only there were not. And so, for Mr. Mills, super-heroes are fully worthy of the shock treatment he is dispensing.

Which is okay as far as it goes. I mean I’m a long time cape fan so I’m not unaware that the first response to this is that, yeah, but, super heroes embody all the good qualities in humanity, “With great power must come responsibility” and all that trad jazz, dad. Which is true but I think it’s also true that the tendency is to ignore the “responsibility” bit and just focus on the “powers” bit and I think that’s where Mills has a point. But that was a long time ago when people read cape comics in their hundreds of thousands and the heroes actually meant something other than a stepping stone into TV.

Okay. So it kind of yells at you like an angry hobo but it’s a hobo with a point and also a hobo with a killer sick sense of humour and, since the hobo has been designed by the Gaudi of the Grotesque Mr. Kevin O’Neill, the whole thing ends up being diagnosed as VERY GOOD!

The second story collected here is SECRET TRIBUNAL (1993) which basically takes the Legion of Super Heroes and feeds them to the movie Alien while pausing to spit on the excesses of the Nineties. A case of, “In space no one can hear your voice break, dude!”



Now, Pat Mills’ work probably gets called a lot of things but it’s probably rarely called sweet and touching. That’s “touching” in the nice sense, not the one that  involves years of therapy and mental anguish. Despite the body horror, gore, expletives, pouch festooned bosoms, crude innuendo and typical strident delivery SECRET TRIBUNAL manages to actually be both sweet and touching. The focus of the story is Growing Boy who is seeking entry into the League of Heroes but fears that when the time comes he will fail to perform, he will fail to, um, grow. This is really quite a clever way of addressing teenage fears and insecurities while at the same time appearing to mock them. It’s all the cleverer for combining it with the gyno-horror of the Alien movies. Of course you may think this is just stone obvious in which case you are not me, and that, pal, is your reward; not being me. Trust me, that's better than diamonds. There’s also another layer of intelligence since quite early on Growing Boy becomes experienced at the fluttering lips and silky limbs of Super Sensitive Girl.


"Hands above the covers, Paul Levitz! Hands ABOVE the covers!"

He recalls that “I can still see her face now…congested, panting like an animal…making suggestions I never expected to be uttered from female lips” and I’m pretty sure they aren't things like: “Why don’t you go down the pub and have some time to yourself.” so where the beast with two backs is concerned Growing Boy is sorted for “Eee!”s and jizz but still he fears being unable to “perform”. This of course is, I believe, because in cape comics the fight scenes are analogous to the fuck scenes in a porno. And since Growing Boy’s money shot is illustrated by Kevin O’Neill it looks like this:


"Do you remember the first time...?"

Ah, yes, the aliens. Obviously the League of Heroes, being as they are a bunch of peer pressurized hormone crazed teens, are outmatched from the off and even the venerable Marshal might not tip the scales in their favour. Luckily our beleaguered heroes are powered up by the presence of The Secret Tribunal! Oh my, what a lovely distillation of Nineties nonsense they are too. Here are their names: Lichenstein, Anti-Man, Vrilla, Ragnarok, Breathless and Rune! The ridiculousness of the time when people who drew like disturbed 8 year olds ruled the roost is channeled to fine effect by Kevin O’Neill. A more garish collection of pouches, shoulder-pads, wasp-waists, big honkers, cigars and headscarves can rarely have been seen. Well, outside of the original travesties, natch.



The dialogue these badly designed buffoons spout is delightfully stilted. Breathless, who is basically a male sex-fetish with pouches for nipples, delivers the following wonder, “It’s so hard to find men to help me gain my explosive energy. They find me repulsive…”. It’s the seamless combination of these high-impact idiots with the more restrained old school stylings of the League together with the warped and turbulent textures of the Aliens which is Kevin O’Neill’s greatest achievement here. Not once do the differing styles chafe against each other and not once do they lose their distinctiveness. Also the League’s spaceship looks like a cock with four balls. That’s never not funny in fact it’s VERY GOOD!


"Cliches unbound! Well, bound with barbed wire but still cliches!"

Alas, things take a bit of a stumble with THE MASK/MARSHAL LAW (1998) on the second page of which the sweet Marshal declares “I’m just going through the motions.” It’s hard not to take this literally as Mills and O’Neill struggle to bring some of the old magic back in a tale in which the charming Marshal goes on One Lat Mission against his original nemesis The Sleepman who is now ridiculously over-powered due to his wearing The Mask. Oh, it’s fun enough stuff but nowhere near as psychotically entertaining as its predecessors. Mills struggles to make a Mills-y statement with the material falling back on the old stand by of masks allow people to behave without inhibitions which isn't original or terribly interesting but does allow Kevin O’Neill to bust his nuts all over the pages in a series of flagrantly unsettling S/M scenarios.


"It isn't THAT bad!"

The biggest problem for the series is the very nature of the series. Due to its parasitic nature Marshal Law only really works when it has something of substance to nail to a cross. By this time Mills and O’Neill have eviscerated all the old familiar favourites and are having to hunt and peck the sterile ground of modern comics for sustenance. Marshal Law’s catch-phrase is “I’m a hero hunter. I haven’t found any yet.” Judging by the much remarked upon lack of invention and creativity in the modern North American Super-Hero genre he’s got no chance once he hits the noughties. But there is hope in the last page that ML will find cape comics worthy of hating again. When the book ends they aren't even worthy of that. Because they don’t mean anything now, not even anything bad, just…nothing. Even Marshal Law can’t fight nothing. But he tries and God loves a trier (also keen on: sacrifices) so in my book this one was GOOD!


I just love this panel, thats all.

So the scores on the doors seem to indicate that MARSHAL LAW: FEAR ASYLUM is VERY GOOD!



Hey, I’m looking for a few good people. Well, actually I’m looking for about 5000 people with more money than sense and a retailer with no sense of self-preservation. I think that’s doable. I've seen the sales figures for NEW AVENGERS so there’s way more than 5000 people out there drunk in charge of 5 dollar bills. What we do, right, is take up Marvel on their “Order 5,000 copies of this dreadful ULTIMATE FALL-OUT comic we can’t shift and you can have a free advert in a Marvel comic guaranteed not to reach any new customers.” Yup, in times of economic hardship Marvel are always there for the retailers. I’m sure you can see where this is going: we order the copies via our retailer and send in an advert consisting of this:


We might also put some words on it. We could put “Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994). The Original Marvel Architect.” Or “The man who paid for everybody involved in this comic to go to Hooters on expenses.” Or Stan Lee got his, where’s Jack’s?” Or “Those mediocre movies whose box office performance and merchandising revenue you’re all so puffed up about? Totally down to this pipe smoking high-waisters wearing dude. His name’s JACK KIRBY in case you forgot!” I don’t know, we could work on it a bit. What? Oh, what do we do with 5000 bad ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN comics? Build a career, baby. Build a career and then go into TV! Sheesh! Tough crowd!


Have a nice weekend all and if you go into your LCS buy some COMICS!!!

“There’s Buses Along Watling Street To London…” Comics! Sometimes they don't half muck you about a bit.

Nah, don’t get up my account, see I want a word in your shell-like. Don’t flinch, son, I just want to talk to you. Talk to you about this thing what Alan Moore wrote and Kevin O’Neill drew. Won’t take long. We've all got homes to go to. Don’t cry, be  a brave soldier. Be over before you know it… Photobucket

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN CENTURY #2 “1969” By Alan Moore(w), Kevin O’Neill(a), Todd Klein(l) and Ben Dimagmaliw(c) Top Shelf/Knockabout Comics $9.95/£7.99  Crikey, mate! Things look proper rum as the psychedelic ‘60s spiral towards a massive downer! Can our enduring chums make everything groovy again!? Don’t freakout, Grandad, the future is sure to be far out!


It's pretty much business as usual in the world of LOEG with the latest installment. A slender plot groaning under an ungainly agglomeration of references and in-jokes, comedy, nastiness and an overriding suspicion that Alan Moore thinks popular culture is going down the crapper. If you liked the last installment you'll like this but if you've been liking them less and less since THE BLACK DOSSIER you're going to like this even less. I'm okay with them myself what with them being well clever and as visually attractive as Valerie Leon in go-go boots.

Alright then, first things first: Is it fan fiction? Yes, I think it is. But I also think you’d be hard pressed to find any genre comic that isn't these days. YMMV. Also, I've never actually looked up a definition of “fan fiction” but we’ll persevere. Crucially what it is is fan fiction of the very highest order. How can it not be fan fiction filled as it is with fictions pulled from other sources and made to dance and warble at the behest of The Magus? At least he has a purpose in mind, at least Alan Moore is using them to some narrative end intended to educate, illuminate and entertain. But then again I could read about the seedy adventures of characters who greatly resemble Jack Carter and Vic Dakin all day.


Oh, It's a grand life with The Magus but it wouldn't be half so grand without his aiders and abettors. Herein Kevin O’Neill is his usual majestically unusual self. Considering the fact that his art already resembles a bad trip the fact that he can actually go further and depict a bad trip is pretty incredible.  Kevin O'Neill heroically packs his (mostly) constricted panels with detail and incident that really gives the book a sense of place and it's a place populated by a hectic bustle of humanity. The panels of streets where the shiny future invasively looms over and creeps into the grotty present is done brilliantly. It’s a smart way to convey the way the future arrives. Not in a sudden jump but rather like a tide lapping in and around the present, eroding the shabby terraces and backstreets of now until it was like they were never there. You get a real sense that in ten minutes the future will be all around and it will be as though the future was here all the time.

Todd Klein and Ben Digimagmaliw are afforded a chance to shine and really rise to the challenge. Usually letterers and colourists are just required not to make any mistakes and generally just not get under anyone's feet but given the gift of the psychedelic showdown climax they really go to town. It's lovely, lovely stuff indeed. It's worth buying purely for the visual wizardry on display. Corporate comics aren't ever going to let your eyes graze on such delights as Kevin O'Neill and Co. at full tilt pedal to the mental like this. All the visual artistes do an absolutely smashing job at keeping this thing from sliding into incoherence.


While the whole is unquestionably successful in conveying the shabby reality the '6os briefly disguised and the fact that it may have been a Sexual Revolution but, still, all revolutions have casualties there remains something off about the whole thing. In the early pages in particular Moore’s dialogue reads like raw exposition, which is surprising considering how neatly he captures the “voices” of the supporting cast in the parallel plot. In fact those parts are a far more satisfying read than the adventures of our three primaries. I could have read a lot more about Vic and Jack and a lot less about Mina, ‘Lando and Allan. The gangster stuff had drive and purpose while the League stuff just seemed aimless and repetitive. Maybe the contrast was intentional after all it isn’t the heroes who “save” the day in the end. So caught up are they in their own problems they can barely get it together to be in the right place at the right time. They muck it up good and proper and no mistake.


I get that what Moore’s going for is the whole immortality has its price thing, I get that loud and clear because he never stops bloody banging on about it. Moore makes some good points, some interesting points but he keeps making them without developing them. This doesn't result in a terribly satisfying reading experience but it does at least explain the almost hilarious ineptitude The League displays. Immortality is sure doing a number on our three chums and no mistake. Orlando has his sexual organs growing and receding like a tide of biological confusion, Allan has to carry a monkey around on his back forever and Mina has to cope with the the wounds of her past.

It’s no wonder that at this point they are acting like a bunch of blockheads. Blimey, this lot can’t even save the world properly. Who in their right mind would drop drugs on the cusp of a climactic confrontation upon which they believe the fate of the world to hang? No one. But then these people aren’t in their right mind, so I guess that works. There’s a nice comic pay-off when even the villain appears baffled by their stupidity (“You cretinous CHIT!”) and his plan, which isn't even the plan The League think it is, is only derailed by the actions of a background thug who has no real notion of the events in which he is so pivotal. Which can’t be accidental. I mean, let’s face it, Alan Moore runs a tight ship narratively, if it’s in there it probably means something. What it means is that his is a pretty bleak experience both for the characters and the reader. Photobucket

Oh, there’s humour in here but not enough to lift it far out of the doldrums. In fact the jokiest joke is the worst joke here. There’s a whole panel wasted here on a Jumping Jack Flash joke that is so leaden I actually resented its hogging of an entire panel. Even the best joke, the one about body swapping (“I’m perplexed.”), is so delightfully nasty it just serves to reinforce the desolation of the book rather than relieve it. Look, the last image in the book is of a sad old man assaulted by the music of the young and angry while slumped on a chair dripping with his own piss. Not exactly Benny Hill is it?

Which, not entirely smoothly, brings me to the most likely cause of upset regarding this here periodical: there’s far too much slapping of little bald men’s heads to the accompaniment of a jaunty tune. No, of course not, but there is quite a lot of sexual violence on these pages. I’d really like to just breeze past that one but sometimes you just have to grasp that nettle. Remember when I used to just make terrible Dad Jokes about bad super hero comics? And Kurt Busiek would patiently correct my blunders? Such happy times! What? I’m not avoiding anything!

Oh, okay…  Fair disclosure here, I’m about to give Alan Moore the benefit of the doubt. I have read and enjoyed his work since he poked his young head up in the pages of 2000AD. I guess I am a fan? I’m not uncritical though I try not to be that kind of fan. I mean I love Howard Victor Chaykin to bits but I’m never going to recommend FOREVER MAELSTROM to anyone, okay? Similarly with Alan Moore I didn't buy LOST GIRLS because the page I saw in TCJ had a woman talking about the texture of a bull’s pizzle. Maybe it was a horse, anyway the point is I don’t want to read about beloved children’s characters achieving sexual satisfaction by touching animal’s privates. I’m funny like that. Call me old-fashioned. So while I’m not a hater I guess I’m not a lover but I am a fan. Caveat ends.


So, having thought about it a bit more than I feel I should have had to the nearest I can come to some kind of explanation, some kind of reason for this approach is that Alan Moore is trying to explore some of the connections between sex and violence. I think Alan Moore sees the genre comic’s reliance on violence as unhealthy because it isn't real violence. The power of violence has gone and only empty shock remains. Alan Moore’s work has demonstrated, to me at least, that he understands violence. He knows that violence happens and then keeps right on happening. Violence isn't just the act it’s also the effects of the act. Violence is the original gift that keeps on giving. Any honest depiction of violence should upset you, I think. I could be biased about that. Genre comics don’t deal in honest violence they deal in pantomime violence: safe violence and, thus, fake violence. There are 7o some years of gelding behind every act of violence in genre comics. If you want the violence in your comic to hurt, to be real what to do? It’s this dilemma that leads me to believe Alan Moore is attempting to make violence violent again. And the way I think Alan Moore is attempting to do that is by introducing sex into the equation. Because that's really going to touch a nerve.


That’s what I think and I think that because I know this: practically every act of on-page sex in LOEG:1969 is accompanied, contains or is contrasted with an act of violence. Where conventionally there would only be violence here there is also a sexual element. This is disturbing and upsetting, at least to me. Now, I can only assume (that most dangerous of critical acts) that this is intentional. As I've said the big thing that strikes me about Alan Moore comics is that they have very little room in them for the accidental (or the unintentional). Something as obvious and persistent as the sex/violence link in LOEG:1969 being happenstance seems pretty unlikely. It must have a purpose, it must be intentional. To dismiss it as being merely some kind of accidental twitch of an aged libido or the unconscious seepage of suppressed desires would, I think, be fundamentally wrong at worst and ungenerous at best.

But that leaves me with the puzzle of why Alan Moore goes to such great pains to ensure the reasons for this, the most striking aspect of the work, remain so occluded. Really, I have no recourse but to send comics into the kitchen to help Mother do the dishes while I lean forward to Alan Moore, with his hair brushed and parted, and ask: "But what are your intentions?" And I don't like doing that. If the work has failed to communicate its intentions with regard to an element as pervasive as the sexual violence is in LOEG:C 1969 then the work has failed and failed badly. But not totally.

I have no doubt this is the comic Alan Moore wanted to write but as I'm unsure why that is I have to go with OKAY! Everybody else involved in the visual stuff gets an EXCELLENT!

Now be off with you, I've got to take me Mum her cuppa. What's up with a boy loving his Mum? Tell me that whydoncha? Gwan. Hoppit.

And the Number One Reason I'll Never Be A Paparazzi...

I was at Kevin O'Neill's signing at CE Sunday night...with my camera...and asked the gracious and stylish Mr. O'Neill if I could take some photos...to which he graciously and stylishly agreed....and I barely took any photos at all. Because I am absurdly meek, and a FUGGIN' IDJIT. Nonetheless:

Here's a shot of the man himself. (Obviously, I shoulda run it through some light adjustments on Picasa before uploading it.) We were shop number seven in four days on his tour, and the guy would do a sketch in anyone's Black Dossier if they wanted. Really cool.

I knew he wouldn't be anything like his drawings, more than likely, but I was still somehow unconsciously surprised he wasn't one of his terrifying lantern-jawed crazy men chortling "Hur, hur, hur!" while demeaning all of us.

I thought I could catch from this angle (behind and above him) the sort of casual charisma he radiated--it was like everyone in the store, even nearly all the people hanging out at the front all had their body turned toward him the whole time he was signing. Instead, all I really caught was that awesome infinity-loop bald spot he has--it's insanely better than the goose egg I'm sporting.

Another wuss shot by me--I thought it would be cool to catch him in mid-sketch as he draws Mina Harker in Sue Riddle's sketchbook (that's her work on the left page, I'm pretty sure). But, uh, nope.

We had a steady line the whole time I was there, as you can see. But I'm mainly putting this photo up so those who've never visited the shop can admire the lovely original Matt Wagner JSA portraits on the left, and the Mike Driggenberg original Endless portraits on the right. (Oh, and also because I didn't take enough pix of Kevin O'Neill, right?)

The first--but hopefully not the last--collaboration between Ian Brill and Kevin O'Neill: a commissioned sketch of Scott Pilgrim. Maybe we'll get lucky and Oni will release it as the "Oni Zombie" alternate cover to SP4 early next year...

Wow. See? That--that--is a perfectly shaped ear, right there.

Meanwhile, up at the front of the store...

No, but seriously. Go buy Black Dossier--it's even more filling than a 40 of MGD.

So, in conclusion: I promise to be better at taking photos in the future. Also, go to Comic Oasis and/or the wonder that is Ralph Mathieu's Alternate Reality in Vegas tomorrow night and experience the wonder that is Kevin O'Neill yourself. You won't regret it.

Extraordinary Gentlemen!

I just want to say that Kevin O'Neill is a Prince Among Men -- we had an absolutely wonderful signing with him last night, and he was extremely gracious with his time, given virtually every person who showed significant "face time", answering their questions, and doing quick sketches for each and every person. What a class act!

If you're down in the San Jose area, Kev appears at Hijinx Comics today (Monday) from 5-8, then he goes to Las Vegas and Alternative Reality Comics [edit: and Comic Oasis, sorry, Derek!] on Tuesday to wrap up the tour.

I suspect Jeff will be along before TOO long with pics of last night's signing.

We've got an EXTREMELY limited number of copies left over that Kev signed (though no sketches, sorry!), so if you haven't been able to score your copy yet, feel free to email me and see if we can accommodate you.



Also last night was Alan Moore, art spiegelman, and Dan Clowes on the Simpsons -- if you didn't see it, at least for the moment it is up on YouTube, and I thought it was perhaps the funniest 10 minutes of Simpsons I've watched this decade. Oooh, let me try that embedded thing....

Let's hope that worked...

Even my wife, Tzipora, who only barely understands comics or comics culture, was howling in laughter at this segment.

Weird ending to the episode, though -- it looks at though the Android's Dungeon is closed permanently?!?

Anyway, WATCHMEN BABIES IN V FOR VACATION is a huge winner of a joke!

[Edit #2: I just noticed the LOST GIRLS poster in the background of the clip -- nice, Fox is advertising pornography, w00t!]


The Alchemical Marriage: Jeff Looks at the LOEG Black Dossier.

In a just world, the best way to review of Moore & O'Neil's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier would be type up a pastiche in which history's most famous and infamous literary critics team up: Dorothy Parker, Kingsley Amis, Harold Bloom, Alexander Woollcott, Edmund Wilson, Michiko Kakutani, H.L. Mencken, and Gary Groth all trot on panel to fight The League's attempt to collapse fictional and non-fictional reality (thus rendering critical thought--the border between fictional and non-fictional reality--impossible). Of course, to be a true pastiche, the reader would have to endure--after a gripping opening--the repeated erotic couplings of Wilson and Kakutani, with only the occasional bit of thuggishness from Mencken or Groth to spruce things up (until each kills the other), and the pastiche finally becomes a free-falling history of the universe as told by the critics (wherein one only finds out in a footnote or two what happened with the group's original encounter with their adversaries) and that this universe is actually a pastiche of the true Platonic ideal of the universe. Reality, it would turn out, is literally a work of criticism.

To really to do justice to the book under consideration, however, the pastiche would have to be bogglingly brilliant. If you're the type to derive succor from technical brio and steely formalistic ambition, The Black Dossier is a veritable winter's feast, capable of plumping up your brain to survive many a long, dark day.

For much of my life, I considered myself exactly that type. But either I've changed over the last few years, or technical tour-de-forces don't quite kick me in the breadbasket they way they used to--even as parts of The Black Dossier made me grin in delight (The League running for their lives inside a giant Brobdingnagian vajayjay as a sky-blotting cockhead threatens to destroy them all was where I actually laughed out loud), I found myself wondering what, exactly, was the point.

Having finished it, I think there may be several points to The Black Dossier, ranging from the absurd (I mean, it's The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe by way of Gravity's Rainbow, for cryin' out loud!) to the sublime (is imagination, as represented by Mina and Queen Gloriana,a feminine force, and "reality," as represented by misogynistic Bond family, a masculine force, making Orlando,gender-swapping hermaphrodite, a representation of life as it is lived, according to Moore--sometimes one, sometimes the other, frequently both?)

To elaborate on that last point, the Black Dossier includes pure text as well as, in the collection of postcards with which the League sends back and forth and the various maps and diagrams, (near)pure image. Are comics, like Orlando, a combination of two interrelated opposites, and thus more able to capture a higher essence than either? (I mean, there's also a 3-D sequence at the end which is the meeting of two sets of images (and even in that sequence, sections where the images occupying the same space are not the same)). The Black Dossier is not only an alternate history story, but a history of alternate graphic story styles--gag panels, political cartoons, serialized biographies, Tijuana Bibles...

So. History as an alchemical wedding of imagination and reality, and comics as the formalistic application of same? I dunno. Of course, if you really want to know the point of an Alan Moore story these days, you need only go on the web and a much-interviewed Alan Moore will be along sooner or later, happy to tell you at precise and injudicious length his intentions. I'm probably alone in this but I've begun to think the lifespan of today's graphic lit would benefit from creators clamming the fuck up about a work's meaning. Although I'm sure it stems from both genuine relief at finally being taken seriously, and to correct the paucity of genuine knowledge endemic to comics' previous Dark Ages, the resulting pre-chewed nature of many of comics' big works may prevent them from looming larger in the cultural imagination than they otherwise might.

(Which is all my way of saying that my above theories probably stem from reading too many Alan Moore interviews, but I haven't read any of his interviews about The Black Dossier...yet, God help me.)

In a way, I wish this review could be more like Hibbs', and I could go on at length about what I thought of the various pastiches, since they--along with the delightful Easter Egg hunt of literary references--are the most enjoyable part of the book. I will say that, although no Shakespeare scholar, I found Faeries's Fortunes Founded pretty passable (although it reads more like early Shakespeare than the later Shakespeare it's presented as) and Sal Paradyse's Beat novel is pretty close to an utter disaster as it tries to imitate both Burroughs & Kerouac simultaneously and so badly bungles 'em both (this is assuming, by the way, that Dr. Sax is written in the bebop heavy rhythms Moore uses here--of Kerouac, I've only read some poetry and On The Road and the latter isn't half as absurd as the stuff we get here).

But overall, the delights here are many and varied--where else are you gonna find a Tijuana Bible based on Orwell's 1984?--and I regret I lack the language, both critical and otherwise, to praise Kevin O'Neill's amazing art in this. O'Neil's art (and stunning accompanying colors by Ben Dimagmaliw) is able to evoke all the various art styles on call while also remaining truly and clearly his own, and in a book that moves from postcards to paperback covers to subway maps, from Victorian literature to German Expressionism, from the dreariness of Orwellian England to the brightness of Dan Dare's Britain, it's hard not to see it as a crowning achievement. If Lost Girls had looked half this good, maybe I would've been able to actually rub one out to that damned thing.

Still, though, the most resonant moment in The Black Dossier comes when Allan and Mina, after sex, languidly flip through the dossier and Mina remark with light surprise and fondness upon finding the section on themselves, "Oh. Here, darling, look at this. It's us." It's the moment most familiar to anyone who enjoys reading--the sudden thrill of recognizing something of one's self in a work of fiction--and it's precisely that moment I found entirely absent in The Black Dossier: eternally young, beautiful, and seemingly unstoppable, Orlando, Quartermain, and Murray fight, flee and fornicate across nearly every fictional realm ever created, but there's hardly anything left in them with which to emphasize. Imagination isn't only a realm where we regale in our triumphs and strengths, but a place in which we peek at our failures, our frailty. I wish there had been more of the latter amongst so much of the former.

And so, while The Black Dossier is hardly the first technical triumph that fails to stir the heart even as it inspires awe, it's a measure of the regard in which one holds Moore that it feels nevertheless like a disappointment. It means that I can only give this Very Good book a rating of Very Good, despite the nearly consistent Excellence of its concept and execution. Get it; devour it; annotate it; but don't be surprised if you find yourself, all too soon, forgetting it.

Oh, god, I need to give this a title?

Let me acknowledge, right up front, that maybe I'm a little biased, given that Kevin O'Neill is appearing at the store this Sunday (11/18, from 4-6 PM, right, I can't help myself dammit, I am a retailer!) But, really, I thought that the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: THE BLACK DOSSIER was one of the most extraordinary things that I've read this year.

I barely have the vocabulary for a decent review -- not only did I miss at least a third of the references (I'm aware, intellectually, of [say] Jeeves and Wooster - but its not like I've ever personally read a word of Wodehouse's), but even the ones I actually get, I don't actually have the language to comment on. Jog, or Lester, or Wolk are much better candidates for really and actually understanding the intricacies of what Moore and O'Neill have pulled off within this book.

But, although I've never actually READ _Fanny Hill_, I'm still able to understand how well Moore has written in that style' and though I've never read a page of Jeeves & Wooster, how well the melding of the Cthulu mythos to that really flows.

This is a comic that will have you checking your internet connection every few minutes -- I like a book that actually sends me to a dictionary for words I don't know (Tribadism, anyone? -- Firefox's spellchack even says that's not a word!); or exposes me to concepts I've never heard of before.

But sometimes even Google fails you, and I have to admit that I wasn't even slightly clear on the significance of Sir john Night and Night Industries, or Bill of the hiked-up pants, and the secret spy school, or the character that allowed Our Heroes access to the Blazing World. I'll admit that I'm just barely educated enough to know that the Shakespeare section scanned properly in Iambic Pentameter, but other than that, I can't really judge how close he got it, and so on.

I think I "got" about 75% of THE BLACK DOSSIER (which is maybe high for an American?), but even the parts where I was confused about the antecedents, I could tell were masterfully constructed, which much thought and form and craft.

Kev's, perhaps, the real master here -- dancing from style to style, yet still remaining clearly the work of Kev -- I was particularly taken by the art in the Fanny Hill section which generally looks "normal" to the eye, but when you look twice is incredibly filthy and pornographic. There's at least 5 generations of styles that are covered within this work, and Kevin hits them all pretty much dead on perfect. This is really an astonishing effort on Kev's part!

I really think that on almost all levels this book is a tour-de-force, and there's hardly a level in which it doesn't deeply satisfy. There's absolutely no doubt this is EXCELLENT work.

And I want to add that I spent nearly three and a half hours with this book, which is a real rarity with comics-related material -- this is a happy and easy $30 spent.

But, as always, what did YOU think?