Wait, What? Ep. 100: Year Zero

Photobucket(One of my favorite hundredth issue covers, by Joe Staton and Dick Giordano for DC Comics)

I don't know why, but for a moment there... I was very afraid this episode wouldn't end up existing?  I think because, you know, you say something is a thing, as opposed to just being business as usual, and the next thing you know there's a certain nimbus of expectation around it, even if only to yourself?  Sometimes it  seems like that kind of nimbus makes the best kind of target for capricious fate...

Anyway, enough of that "and then he tore his eyes out in the fifth act!" musing, join us behind the jump for show notes and celebratory waffles, yes?

0:00-8:24: Graeme brings a message to piss Jeff off...from the future!  What can it be? Hint: Before Watchmen is involved.  Laughs are had and the distance between qualified and unqualified is considered.
8:24-20:54: And on a related note--time for some red-hot sexy DC New 52 Issue #0 talk.  Batman, Inc. #0, Batwoman #0, Wonder Woman #0, Supergirl #0, Justice League #0, Earth 2 #0, and OMAC and DC Universe Presents #0.  Warning: Graeme has read 38 of these by now.  I mean that's...wow.
20:54-46:59: ASM is being cancelled!? Jughead is going on hiatus?! (A reference to) cats and dogs living together under the same roof?! What the hell is happening?
Also, Graeme has the chance to have some quality time with the listeners. Also also, in the coming attractions end of thing, we discuss how Bendis' X-Men is shaping up, in light of Avengers Vs. X-Men #11. Additionally, we run down Professor X's CV. If you want to guys remembering off the top of their heads the names of Hank McCoy and Bobby Drake's old girlfriends, this is where you want to be.
46:59-54:59: Mattotti and Zentner's The Crackle of the Frost.  We actually talk about it, finally!
54:59-1:13:33: And from there, Jeff and Graeme go on to discuss Jennifer Blood, as conceived by Garth Ennis and executed by Al Ewing.
1:13:33-1:22:51: And from one crime book to another, we also talk about Stumptown issue 2.1 by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth. With special guest appearances by John Updike and J.D. Salinger!
1:22:51-1:30:24: And from there we got to Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer?  I think it says something great about the current state of the comics marketplace that we can talk about three different type of pulp stories that are still a long ways away from superhero books.  Also, it's Graeme's turn to take a powder while Jeff gets to talk directly with the listeners.
1:30:24-2:16:04: Phone calls! From listeners!  We have them, and they are awesome.  Many thanks to Voodoo Ben, Alex, Robert G., Sean Witzke, J.L. Blair (whose call did not survive the round-the-world treatment, sadly and whom I initially misidentify, to boot) and Derek (or Garrett?).  Though most of the calls are just well-wishes, we do tackle a suggested topic--Jim Starlin at Marvel in the '70s, '80s and '90s--at some length, as per Alex's request.  Who says this isn't the Golden Age for Whatnauts?
2:16:04-2:26:31: Jeff, whose attention span is crushed, all but leaps in mid-answer from talking about Hank Pym to discussing Bloodshot.  Graeme, for his part, has been catching up on old issues of Milestone Shadow Cabinet issues. Add 'em all together and you get...Chaykin's Black Kiss 2 #2?  Not really, but we end up talking about that as well as well as the pretty brilliant (non-comix, though there's a chart or two) book by Jarett Kobek, If You Won't Read, Then Why Should I Write?
2:26:31-end: And then, because it wouldn't be a Wait, What? podcast without goofy technical difficulties, Graeme turns into the Lord of the Flies again, a clear sign to sign off. (Although we also manage to praise Bandette #2, Double Barrel, the xckd strip Click & Drag, and Dustin Harbin's Boxes before we're done).  At one point, I'm laughing while Graeme is talking, and it just sounds like there should be the sounds of a building burning down and maybe some backmasked electric guitars...which is maybe the most fitting way to celebrate our hundredth episode?  Lord only knows what we'll sound like by episode 150....
Anyway, you should be able to find it on iTunes (although there's now that whole bullshit separate app for Podcasts, can you believe it?) as well as your RSS feeder of choice.  Alternately, you can take a swing at the audio pinata below:
And then next week...Ep. 101?  (Man, I gotta go fan myself on the divan at the thought of it!) In any event, whether this is your first time listening to Wait, What? or your one hundredth, we hope you enjoy and thank you for listening!

Wait, What? Ep. 92: Brave Faces

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App Above: the Tomato Bs waffle, which is tomatoes, brie and basil on a savory liege waffle, from The Waffle Window, Portland, OR


So, never let it be said, we don't go the full nine yards for you here at Castle Wait, What?  For episode 92, not only did I drive 630 miles, set up and record this podcast in Graeme's attic, drive 630 miles back, mix, edit, and upload the podcast, but I also provided detailed show notes for you! Not sure if it's one time only thing or not, but join me behind the link so you can smoke it while you've got it!

So here is what Episode 92 of Wait, What? looks like from the air:

1:18-3.53  : Greetings and apologies and caveats 3:53-7:18: The Avengers and the oddness of its worldwide profits 7:18- 8:51: The Amazing Spider-Man movie and how it's being marketed 8:51-22:59: Safety Not Guaranteed and a terrifying quasi-related Blair Witch Project story 22:59-26:33: WAFFLE WINDOW 26:33-31:38: Comics discussed with varying degrees of knowledge:  Kevin Huizenga's Gloriana and Chris Ware's Building Comics. 31:38-33:46: Digression: our dynamic revealed! Somehow, Quincy, M.E. is involved. 33:46-39:48: The Wire and the process of entertainment, including Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty'The Manual: How to Have a Number One the Easy Way and Jeff tries his hand at a Venture Bros. plot. 39:48-55:28: More comics discussed! Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.  Should you expect a Batman book by Geoff Johns or a Geoff Johns book with Batman in it?

--55:28-56:10:  A brief break--

56:10-57:49 :Zaucer of Zilk and David Brothers and Graeme on why Graeme associates it with Casanova 57:49-1:02:58: Comic news: Spider-Man and Alpha... 1:02:58-1:06:05: ...and Marvel teasers for its latest "War" event and online reaction to Graeme's online reaction 1:06:05-1:06:53: Obligatory magical Portland library shout-out... 1:06:53-1:08:18: And the obligatory explanation of Jeff and his Marvel Comics boycott/abstinence... 1:08:18-1:13:48: The Brubaker interview at Comics Reporter and the state of Icon (warning: includes slight Kick-Ass discussion) 1:13:48-1:22:53: SDCC, the announcement cycle and what Marvel might have up their sleeve.  With discussion of the rumored Bendis and Immonen and biweekly X-Men book and other Marvel strategies. 1:22:53-1:39:18: Graeme tries to make Jeff cry with this column from iFanboy, resulting in a conversation that goes all over the place. 1:39:18-1:41:30: Closing comments of a kind as we realize we have broken the motorboat, so to speak.

Even without this roadmap, you may have already stumbled across the territory on iTunes.  Alternately, why not take the time to explore at your leisure below?

Wait, What?, Episode 92: Brave Faces

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

Wait, What? Ep. 76: Dares, Wins

Photobucket And Lo, There Shall Come...An Answering!

For most of you, anyway.  I fully confess Graeme and I did punt on a few questions that were either complex enough to take up a full podcast at a later date, or so good that it would require better men than us to answer it.  (Ah, yes: the old "It's not  you, Listener Question, it's us" strategy--never leave home without it.)

Anyway, as you might imagine with so many exceptional inquiries, it would take us a while to answer them--and of course us being us, we're going to go egregiously off-topic, right?--so, yeah.  Two hours and forty minutes is what we've got for you. We talk so long Graeme turns into The Lord of the Flies at the end, and if I was less tired, I could make some sort of joke about me having the conch/gronch William Golding/James Stokoe free association/condo association...but obviously I am far, far too tired.

So lemme just say:  we talk scheduling and artistic teams on DC; new 52 titles and teams we would like to see; The New 52: Threat or Menace?; Marvel movies and costumes in superhero movies; alternative sexual relationships in comics; 2000 AD and Shonen Jump Alpha; our favorite books of the 80s; a moment in Defenders #3 I totally blew past; J.M. DeMatteis' run on The Defenders; The Shadow, The Red Circle, Milestone and other commandeered characters; X-Men franchises vs. Teen Titans franchises; speculation over the changes in the Marvel dancecard; real world landmarks in imaginary worlds; our favorite Superman; Dr. Who; John Byrne's Fantastic Four; Rick Jones; Downton Abbey comics; the Shooterverse and, as you're probably used to by now, much, much more.

iTunes? Hopefully.  Here? Most definitely:

Wait, What? Ep. 76.1: Dares, Wins.

Thanks for your patience with us and, as always, we hope you enjoy!

Wait, What? Ep. 65.1: I Think We're All Bozos in this Podcast

Photobucket Yup, and so we are back with Wait, What? which some of you might remember from the days of antiquity as a thing like unto a radio play, enacted by Mr. Graeme McMillan and myself for the amusement of listeners.

Episode 65 was supposed to be a piercing search by the two of us for the more-than-two-of-you for the secrets to the considerable success of one Steve Gerber and his run on a Marvel series from the '70s popularly known as The Defenders. I would like to say we were successful but, um, well, you will hear for yourselves.

We do discuss it, mind you, but alas we also discuss Carrier IQ for the first batch of minutes, a big pile of books by Kieron Gillen, Batman #252 from nineteen-seventy-something-or-0ther, and the first collected volume of the amazingly filthy and brilliant webcomic Oglaf.

And yeah, something-something-Steve-Gerber-something.

Badoon Brothers and errant Headman may have encountered us already on iTunes, but you are also invited to listen to us here, should that be your kind of thing:

Wait, What? Ep. 65.1: I Think We\'re All Bozos in This Podcast

Part 2 of 2 is right around the corner!  As always, we hope you enjoy.

Wait, What? Ep. 60: Two Weeks. Notice.

Photobucket Hello! I must be going.

I have several days off in a row and I'm going to make the most of them with reading and watching stuff on Netflix and looking at comic books. So there will be a two week hiatus of good ol' Wait, What? But I imagine we will back before you know it (Graeme already pointed out the last issue of Fear Itself will probably come out during that time. Will I really be able to resist shooting my mouth off about it after six issues of whining?).

And in the meantime: Episode 60! It's an hour and forty-five mins. of Mr. McMillan and me, talking Marvel's new digital incentive announcement, September's sales numbers, Apple, Steve Jobs, and Occupy Wall Street.

And for those of you who don't get rely on us for your knowledge of current events, we also talk comics: the second issues of OMAC and Action Comics, X-Men Schism, a very brief chat about the latest issue of Casanova, Love & Rockets Book 4, the winner of our first contest, the announcement of our second contest, and much, much more.

The auditory epic should be lying in wait on iTunes, but you can also find it loitering about at this very site, willing to bend your hour for a minute or two:

Wait, What? Ep. 60: Two Weeks. Notice.

As always, we hope you enjoy and thanks for listening! See you in a fortnight!


Wait, What? Ep. 58.2: A Set of Steak Knives

Photobucket No idea. No idea. I remember I had some brilliant idea about the image to go with this episode and it's just...gone. Thought I wrote it down and everything. Fortunately, I still feel comfortable ganking images from Mr. Tim at the amazing Our Valued Customers. In fact, this wasn't even the image I'd planned to use but I jumped over there and thought this was brilliant enough to disseminate widely.

(Man, those two words seem pervy next to one another. "Disseminate widely." Brrrrgh.)

So no, be warned, we do not talk Big Bang Theory on this latest not-quite-forty-minutes-and-therefore-is-considered-wee-by-our-standards installment of Wait, What? But Graeme and I do talk Green Lantern Corps, Birds of Prey, Daredevil #4, Witch Doctor #3, LoSH #1, Captain Atom, the original Legion Lost, X-Men: Schism #4, and some thoughts on buying digital.

Also, we are holding a fantastic contest with amazing prizes. Well, okay, it's a "prize" actually, and your working defintion of "amazing" will have to be pretty loose but....hey, we read superhero comics in 2011! Our definition of "amazing" is pretty darn flexible, right? Listen in and enter!

This teeny-tiny podcast, incapable of being seen by the naked eye, is already floating through coursing bloodstream of iTunes. Or, alternately, you could shrink yourself, Raquel Welch and a kick-ass submarine down to microscopic size and view it through your auditory canals here:

Wait, What? Ep. 58.2: A Set of Steak Knives

As always, we thank you for listening and hope you have el viaje fantástico!

Wait, What? 56.2: Let's Go Backwards When Forward Fails

Photobucket As our old pal Reid Fleming used to say: "Ungawa!"

We've got the gripping ninety-two minute finale of Ep. 56 available for you, with Graeme and I talking Action Comics #1, G. Willow Wilson's Mystic, the Wolverine: Debt of Death one-shot, IDW's G.I. Joe: Cobra series, Kirby Genesis #3, our worries about the conclusion to X-Men: Schism, and a pretty sustained discussion (which will come as no surprise to long-time listeners) of Casanova #3 by Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba.

In case you have no need for this thing puny hu-mans call "iTunes," you are hereby formally invited to listen to our fine audio programme right here, should you so choose:

Wait, What? Ep. 56.2: Lets Go Backwards When Forward Fails

And as ever, we thank you not just for listening, but also for the fine comments you contribute here at the website and at waitwhatpodcast [AT] gmail.com.  It is greatly appreciated!

Wait, What? 56.1: The Loneliest Number Since...

Photobucket We are back!  With absolutely 100% less whining!  Well, 90%.  Actually, let's call it 85--no, 82, 82% less whining!

Yes, with 82% less whining, here comes Wait, What? Episode 56.1, roaring around the bend, with Graeme McMillan and myself discussing strange and unexpected topics--topics like OMAC #1, Batgirl #1, Animal Man #1, Detective Comics #1, Swamp Thing #1, Stormwatch #1 and, of course... X-Men #17. (That really should have a '?!!?' at end of that sentence, but you get the idea.) It's one hour and one second of two-fisted soft reboot action!

Wise souls have perhaps already encountered this podcast on iTunes (in which case, I hope they were struck it down and achieved instant enlightenment) but you can, of course, listen to it here through the moderns of magic science:

Wait, What? Ep. 556.1: The Loneliest Number Since...

As always, we hope you and enjoy and appreciate your continuing patronage!


Wait, What? Ep. 53.1: Why Are They Smiling?

Photobucket I kinda like that I've decided to call this installment, "Why Are They Smiling?" and I have a this illustration of someone asking "Why are they smiling?" and also maybe someone says it in the very podcast, too. It's a bit like "Merv Griffin!", that most excellent Milk & Cheese cartoon, and it's a bit like that "turtles all the way down" meme, and a bit like that faux-Jack T. Chick Cthulhu strip, and it's a bit like I have headache and can't really think of anything especially subtle. So.

Due to said headache, I will skip the program notes which I've been trying to add (not really sure if they're helping anyone or not, anyway) and, hmmm, maybe I just need a banana or something to eat. Maybe it's a blood sugar thing. Yes. Existential blood sugar.

But don't let my hypoglycemia throw you: this is actually a mighty fine installment of Wait, What? we've got lined up for you. In it, Graeme McMillan and I reflect on Fear Itself #5, and Marvel's plans for its post-Fear Itself future; Flashpoint #4, Flashpoint: The Secret Seven, and Flashpoint: The Outsider; X-Men: Schism, Wolverine #13, PunisherMax #16 as well as the work of Jason Aaron; and the truly enjoyable Daredevil #2. It should be on iTunes, and it is most definitely here for you to listen to:

Wait, What? Ep. 53.1: Why Are They Smiling?

Oh, and I mentioned it there, so I mentioned it here--should you wish to drop us an email at waitwhatpodcast@gmail.com and send us comics or waffle-related gossip, we would certainly love to read it.  Mmmm, waffles...those have got to be better for your blood sugar than a banana, right?

Anyway, Ep. 53.2 should be here very, very shortly so there's always that.  My hope is that I'll have eaten by then.  Oh, and as always, thanks for listening!

Four ones and a sixty-seven: Hibbs on 7/13

Comics, comics, comics! I'm dancin' as fast as I can!

CAPTAIN AMERICA #1:  Well, the McNiven art is pretty, and Brubaker's story zips along just fine from WW2 to today (probably a smart move for audiences walking out of the WW2-set Cap film), but I have to say that this issue didn't work on the balance for me. Part of it is the "Wait, when is this happening in continuity" aspect -- Steve is Cap again, but not even a mention of ol' Buck... and, especially that graveyard fakeout means this is happening at least "three months" "from now" (Post FEAR ITSELF), but the other part is the TWO different (if related) continuity implants of the issue -- Jimmy Jankovicz  ("Jimmy Jupiter"), and the other guy, who I *think* was named "Codename: Bravo"... though maybe he's JUST named "Bravo", since what moron would have "codename" before his name? It's hard to say, really, either way -- neither of whom is really properly introduced or explaining their motivations in any significant way.

Take Jimmy J first -- there's a "bum, bah bah!" beat of "I think Jimmy Jankovitz just woke up!", without explaining who he is, or why he is asleep, or, more importantly for a serialization, WHY I SHOULD CARE if he's asleep or awake or even in existence. Jimmy is apparently "our ticket right into the belly of the beast" of some secret french base, despite looking like a nine year old American boy, but then we cut away to JJ being an old man, and nothing else happens with that thread other than him being a McGuffin what gets kidnapped.

Then there's the man who is codenamed as Codename: Bravo (seriously, I can just see... "Ah, what was his codename again?" "He is codename: Codename: Bravo!") who SEEMS to hate Cap because Peggy Carter wouldn't kiss him back in '44, and whom it is also implied somehow is a "man out of time" (jeez, how many of those are running around the Marvel U?), but who, despite saying that he wants to destroy Captain America, takes a shot at... Dum Dum Dugan instead? Allllright, nothing like an incompetent act to get your ideological villain off on the right foot.

There's also a fight that seems to take place on a freeway (rather than a surface street), where a grenade casually goes off, surely killing a civilian (or 12), and no one comments on it for even one second. Ah, what the hell, they're French, it's OK!

I don't know, maybe this will make more sense when we have the entire TP collection, but, at this point, I'm not especially compelled to even pick up #2...

Sadly, this was just modestly OK.


DEFENDERS FROM MARVEL VAULT #1:Most of the "from the vault" books seem to "just" be left over inventory, but this one, as explained in the text page was plotted by Fabien Nicieza a decade back, and drawn back then (by Mark Bagley), but they lost the plot and script in the intervening years, so Kurt Busiek stepped in to try and figure out a new story. That's pretty stunningly "Marvel Method", in a lot of ways, and the resulting comic is far more coherent than you could ever hope that it might be. I enjoyed it in a "goofy fun" kind of way, and give it a big strong OK.


GREEN LANTERN #67: I don't expect a lot out of crossover thingies, but it IS nice when they end up in such a way that mixes up the status quo significantly for a little while. I don't have any expectation that this will stick for more than a few months, and it certainly makes that hastily inserted end-credit sequence in the GL film make a smidge more sense, maybe, but it WAS a genuinely "hoo boy!" moment which made my blackened and jaded heart swell for a moment, so that, all by itself, makes me give it a VERY GOOD. I also liked the half-beat insinuation that there's something really freaky about the Indigo lanterns. The only thing I will say is that the more they try to fill in Sinestro's backstory (between the film, and that direct-to-DVD animated one, and much of this arc), the less sense it makes that he was ever "Sinestro" in the first place, y'know?


ULTIMATE COMICS FALLOUT #1: How is this going to be a six issue mini, I don't get it? More than half of this issue was just various reaction shots of supporting cast members, few/none of which seemed like they needed another page at all? It was "touching", I guess, but as "1 of 6", it was pretty dang EH.


X-MEN SCHISM #1: I dunno, I like Jason Aaron very much, but I don't think he nailed the right "tone" of an X-book here at all? There was kinda too much comedy on one hand, and not enough "weight" on the other. Liiiike... "ooh, Sentinels are scary!", then both Cyke and Wolvie are shown casually taking entire groups out with AOE attacks? Also? Kinda no "schism" on display here at all. Much like Cap, I'm wondering what my motivation to come back for #2 might be -- it isn't on the page. Eh.


That's me -- what did YOU think?



More Cowbell: Jeff on Things and Stuff.

At first, I was just going to write about Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover's Gingerbread Girl, but I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to say about it.  (Uh, things?  And, uh, stuff?) So, after the jump, Gingerbread Girl, X-Men: First Class (the movie), Star Wars Omnibus (Vol. 3), and more...things and stuff.

(oh, and don't forget to scroll down for the shipping list...and John's reviews...and Graeme's reviews?!  Holy shit. We need to learn how to pace ourselves.)

GINGERBREAD GIRL GN:  In an age where comics are taking their cue from movie and cinema, it's delightful to read Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover's Gingerbread Girl, a graphic novel about a mysterious twenty-something in Portland, OR and her odd affliction:  it's comics shot through with a big ol' dose of live theater, as every character breaks the fourth wall to address the reader about what they know about Annah Billips.  (I'm not much of a live theater guy at all, but more than once I was reminded of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker (basis for Hello, Dolly?  I did not know that.  Thanks, Wikipedia!).)  Tobin's speeches are shot through with high-end whimsy -- "But of course that's all we really we want from someone," Annah's reluctantly smitten date says at one point, "Destroy a lover's mystery and they're less glimmering.  Throw breadcrumbs at pigeons and they'll flock to you in droves.  Throw a bread loaf at them and they'll scatter.  Crumbs of a mystique are just right. A loaf of explanation is too much." -- but they've still got nothing on Coover's delicious art, able to invest seemingly anyone and anything with charm and clarity.

Gingerbread Girl is a mystery of sorts, with the lead character believing she has a twin created from her own stripped away Penfield Homunculus, and everyone else trying to figure out if she's crazy or not.  As the above speech suggests, the graphic novel decides not to solve that mystery, but rather leave us tantalized on the edge of realization.  It's a fun choice, but one that left me feeling more than a little cheated.  I'm sure the idea is to make me look from the book's plot to its possible theme -- I'll take "narratives about narrative strategies" for $500, Alex! -- but I can't help but feel we could've gotten that and a more traditional nod toward conventional narrative climax.  One of the things this gorgeous looking book repeatedly reminds us about its main  character is that she's a tease.  It's a reminder the reader would do well to take to heart about Gingerbread Girl itself. Being teased is much more fun when there's little to lose, and $12.95 doesn't exactly grow on trees these days.  GOOD stuff,  I think?  Or maybe just at the very highest end of OK?  I still can't decide.

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS:  The last thing I expected from this movie was to be reminded of Mario Bava, and yet as the film hit hour 35 of lovely visuals, paper-thin characters and a boredom that teetered on the edge of hypnotic, it was the reference point I came back to.  Of course, I expected a movie about a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Something-Or-Other-Because He's-Still-Magneto-To-Me (Michael Fassbender) recruiting mutants to fight Sebastian Shaw's Hellfire Club to have more than a dash of Brian Singeresque touches to it, so I figured there would be the usual queer subtext (tearful speeches by young teenagers about how they wish they could be like everyone else, young men with full lips and big eyes rubbing their bare arms).  But Matthew Vaughn turns X-Men: First Class into a sensual free-for-all, with ladies walking about in excessively cumbersome lingerie, diamond girls being tied to beds by the rails of the bed itself, excessively nude exploding female mannequins, and I'm not even getting into the whole Xavier/Magneto/Mystique triangle.

More than that, though, Vaughn's tremendous sense of visual flair and attention to detail makes the movie just visually sensuous: it sounds goofy, but there's a scene where Magneto plucks a submarine out of the water, and the way the droplets spun off the propellers had me transfixed. There were at least a dozen more moments like that and I savored each one of them.

Unfortunately, the movie has just too much fucking stuff in it -- it's sodden, is what it is -- showing us not just the opening of the first X-Men movie where a young Erik pries at the gates of Auschwitz, but also the scene that comes after that, as well as what Charles Xavier was doing at that point.  We not only get their meeting in mid-action scene, but the CIA's decision to help them recruit mutants, a long recruitment sequence, Hank McCoy as both versions of the Beast, a long sequence introducing the Hellfire Club...none of it is bad, exactly (except for January Jones, who in her inability to smile, talk, drink or even walk convincingly I now believe to be the genuine embodiment of  the Martian Spy Girl from Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!) but there's just no fucking room for anything to breathe.  It's three good movies jammed into one exasperatingly long and dull one, with every dramatic conflict boiled down so much they might as well been bullet points on a Powerpoint presentation.

I think if I'd seen this movie while hopped up on prescription pain medication, I would've loved its horny languor. (If it turns out that Vaughn knocked up January Jones as the rumors have it, it won't be surprising at all.  In fact, what would be surprising would be if he didn't also impregnate the script girl, Zoe Kravitz, Rose Byrne's slip, and that kid who played The Beast.) But it was a slog and a chore to make it to the end of this movie and it really didn't have to be.  Somewhere between EH and AWFUL.

STAR WARS OMNIBUS, VOL. 3:  At Graeme's suggestion, I picked up a copy of this from the library way-too-long ago and have been poking through it at the rate of a few stories a week.  These are the Marvel comics from the early '80s reprinted, covering the period immediately following The Empire Strikes Back.  As I told Graeme on the podcast, the ESB is exactly where I jumped off the Star Wars comic wagon, in no small part because it became obvious that none of it really mattered:  nothing says "we've told the creators of our licensed product nothing" like a romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia and the infamous "Luke, I am your father" speech.

Did I say "nothing"?  That is a lie, I admit it -- what really says "we've told the creators of our licensed product nothing" is reading this volume in light of the events of Return of the Jedi.  The subtitle for this volume is "A Long Time Ago..." but it really should've been "George Lucas' Galactic Twincest Follies." There are no less than half-a-dozen disquieting scenes where Luke and Leia almost kiss or spend quiet moments pondering their unspoken, but strongly felt feelings for one another.  If only V.C. Andrews could've written that "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" sequel!

But Graeme is right in a lot of ways -- these stories, the majority of them by David Michelinie and Walt Simonson, with Simonson plotting and doing layouts with Tom Palmer doing heavy finishes, are a lot like watching the original trilogy over and over again.  Curiously, even though this takes place after Empire, the only real bits the talent take from that movie are Lando and the idea of a rebellion always on the run from a seemingly all-powerful Empire. Otherwise, it's a lot of impervious imperial bases that need exploding, blasters that need blasting, feelings that need trusting, and possible romantic triangles where two of the participants are siblings.  There's probably a good reason why Marvel's creative teams continued to treat Luke Skywalker as the untarnishable focal point -- my guess is Luke, young and orphaned and full of questions and potential, was much closer to the '70s Marvel hero archetype than awesome, dashing (kinda assholey) Han Solo -- even as Lucas threw a whole bunch of cold water on the idea of Luke as hero in Empire.

Ultimately, the story I enjoyed the best was the weirdest one -- the two-parter by Chris Claremont, Simonson and Carmine Infantino where an inventoried John Carter of Mars story is shoehorned into a Star Wars story.  I've always enjoyed Claremont's infrequent work on Star Wars (pre-teen Jeff would've told you that his favorite Marvel Star Wars issues were #17, co-plotted by Claremont, Star Wars Annual #1 with art by Mike Vosburg...and also Star Wars #38 with that awesome Michael Golden art, Claremont be damned) and here he gets a chance to let his ham actor instincts dig into a story in which Princess Leia crash-lands on a world suspiciously like Barsoom, and the swashbuckling hero suspiciously like John Carter gets something suspiciously like a space boner for her.  Strong, courageous, and the survivor of brutal torture, Princess Leia is Chris Claremont's idea of a hot chick and he makes the most of the first person narration by the Carter pastiche to talk about her brave resourcefulness and sad eyes.  In its way, the story is a better acknowledgment of Star Wars' roots than what Lucas went on to do in The Phantom Menace, though the airships here show a marked similarity to what is done there.  However, because these stories were written in simpler, far less ambitious times, there's not the thorough airing out of influences there could be, where we can really get the sense of just how much Star Wars owes to Burroughs' desert landscapes, exotic princesses, alien pals and low-gravity swashbuckling.  There's just a repurposing of art, a light feeling out of topics that will later become fetish (for Claremont, anyway) and then it's on to the next.

I thought this stuff was highly OK, and in some places quite GOOD, but I guess I prefer more Cosmic Twincest Follies far more intentional and far less accidental.  It was fun revisiting what so many of us thought Star Wars was, instead of what it actually turned out to be.

FLASHPOINT: LEGION OF DOOM #1:  "My name's Heatwave.  I've got a hunger... burning in my gut.  The only way to stop it... is to satisfy my appetite."

So begins the dumbest, most inept comic I've read in a while.  It's so bad I'm shocked Hibbs passed it over for his ever-increasing number of "I Have Read The Worst Comic I Have Ever Read" columns.  Here, Adam Glass and Rodney Buchemi treat us to a tale of  non-starter supervillain Heat Wave, who starts off the book incinerating one-half of Firestorm's secret identity because he wants to fight a guy whose head is on fire.  Then Cyborg shows up and awesome dialogue like "Didn't your mommy ever tell you not to play with matches, Heatwave?" "Sure did! So I burned her to death."  Then Heat Wave makes a train run out of control by...shooting it with flames?  Then Heat Wave ends up in prison where he proves himself to be a bad-ass by breaking the leg of a dude who must have shins made out of breadsticks.  Then Heat Wave gets manhandled by prison guard Amazo, which totally makes sense because Amazo is a robot with all the powers of the Justice League in an alternate universe where there never was a Justice League.  Then there's a Hostess cupcake ad, just like we had back in the '70s, except it's eight pages long and it's about Subway.  Then the awesome Legion of  Doom headquarters shows up but here in the Flashpoint universe it's a prison for super-tough criminals but for some reason Heat Wave is put in there, too.  Then Zsasz threatens Heat Wave. Then Clue Master turns up.  Then Heat Wave kicks a dude in the nuts.  Then, later in their cell, Clue Master clutches his stomach, coughs up blood, and then Plastic Man pulls himself out of Clue Master's mouth.  Yes, Clue Master was a mule used to smuggle in Plastic Man who on the last page is standing there grinning evilly, saying "Okay, you ready to blow this popsicle stand?" as one bloody arm still juts from Clue Master's mouth.  The next issue caption helpfully says, "NEXT ISSUE:  PLASTIC MAN!"

(Finally, I know why Jack Cole killed himself. Poor precognitive bastard.)

If you're the fan of the noise that's made when someone scrapes the very bottom of the barrel, this is the book for you. I actually hope this book has 100% sell-through for retailers, because I worry it will otherwise end up being donated to a hospital somewhere and make ill and injured children lose the will to live.  This book gets the seldom-used ASS rating which is actually overrating it by just a tad.  Please don't tell me you bought it and enjoyed it.

Hibbs is doing stuff, honestly (some 3/23 included)

Where have I been this week? Well, most importantly, I'm waiting for my new computer to arrive -- my home machine mostly-died nearly 3 weeks ago, after about a 10-year run, and I can run anything past basic surfing on it, which means that all writing has to be done at work, sheesh -- it was scheduled to arrive today, but FedEx ground has, seemingly, lost it....  at least until Monday. *grumble*

Then we have the latest podcast with Comic Book Geek Speak -- I very much enjoy talking with those guys, and this is my third go 'round, I think? -- which you can find here.

Plus, there's a new TILTING AT WINDMILLS where I reflect a little on some deaths, and what we living should do about it. Read that here.

Plus, just so I can feel like I'm keeping my goal of one-review-a-week-minimum....

BATMAN INC. #4: What a terrific issue! Much of that is on artist Chris Burnham, who has a really awesome line quality, swinging around in points like the love child of Frank Quitely and JH Williams, while bringing some awesome retro-chops to the flashback sequences. Fast enough artist to do a monthly? I WANTS! I thought this was really VERY GOOD, even if it really is kind of stupid to ship an issue just 2 weeks after the last, especially if #5-12 aren't going to ship clockwork-monthly.

UNCANNY X-MEN #534: The end of the "Contagion" storyline worked just fine -- it is perfectly OK -- but, me, I want to comment on the "Bonus Book" bit at the end. I think that IF Marvel thinks they have to price books at $3.99, then putting in an entire other comic book makes that, actually, a fairly good value, and a nice way to cross-promote stuff.  But I have to STRONGLY question the sense in doing a bonus reprinting of an issue #1 for a title that's currently on issue #11, with no paperback available, or on the immediate horizon.

Even more importantly, I question the wisdom of not telling the retailers about it whatsoever, and not giving us a CHANCE to build something around the marketing. No retailer likes to be taken by surprise!

Anyway, what do YOU think?


Graeme on X-Men: Ce n'est pas un événement comique

As above, so below: I've told you about my guilty pleasure of the year already, and now it's time for its opposite number: The book I kept buying, just out of dread curiosity and something indefinable: X-MEN. Or, to use its subtitle, X-Men: Curse Of The Mutants. Or, to use the title it should've had, X-Men: No, Seriously, What The Hell Is This. You may remember, before this series launched, such solicitation promises as "Why have vampires targeted the mutant population? And who's the jaw-dropping new member of the X-Men? The answers to these questions will dramatically alter the Marvel Universe" and "The Curse of The Mutants leaves the X-Men forever scarred!" And, having read the six issue core storyline in full now, I have to say: I think I might be the one scarred from this experience.

It's not so much that the series is bad, because it's not - It's just that it's also not good, or even okay. It's barely there, a void with a trace of lackadaisical contract fulfillment all the way through it. Even allowing for the traditional hyperbole of hype that surrounds any new project launch, X-Men is a staggering disappointment considering what was promised: Yes, Paco Diaz's art is nice enough, but the story... the story... Well, let's start by answering those questions from the solicit, shall we?

Why have vampires targeted the mutant population? Because Dracula's son - who's now in charge of all the vampires, having killed his dad off in an earlier comic that really should've been part of this run, but isn't because, hey, it's comics - wants them to team-up against the humans or something. I'm not entirely sure what his plan actually is, and it never really gets properly explained beyond "You're a minority! We're a minority! We're the same! As long as you ignore that we're undead and want to destroy humanity, but details!"

Who's the jaw-dropping new member of the X-Men? No-one. I think this bears repeating: No-one joins the X-Men during the course of this story. Sure, Blade comes along and helps out, but joining the team? Not so much. Maybe jaws were supposed to drop because it didn't happen. Anyway, he's gone by the end of the sixth issue.

Oh, and here's an extra one: What about the Marvel Universe has been dramatically altered as a result of this storyline? Nothing. In fact, let's be completely honest: Beyond Jubilee being turned into a vampire, the only thing that this storyline did was undo the death of Dracula and rise to power of Dracula's previously unknown son Xarius, which only happened a month before X-Men #1 came out. So, instead of dramatically altering the Marvel Universe, this storyline actually restored the status quo, more or less. "Dramatic!"

I can't help but think that this storyline was rewritten somewhere along the line, maybe in response to it not really having the sales and/or fan impact that it was supposed to. Part of that is due to that whole "restoring the status quo" thing, but it's also because I'd like to give Victor Gischler the credit for not having always planned to have what should've been a large scale set-piece (The amassed vampire army attacking the X-Men's floating island base) happen, essentially, off-panel. Or, for that matter, plot devices like "We remote-control switched off Wolverine's healing power so that he could become a vampire and now that he is a vampire, we're remote-control switching his healing power back on and look! He's normal again and he'll kill all the vampires! Off panel!"

I may be too kind in giving Gischler that credit, mind you; there's a lot happening off-panel throughout this storyline, not least of which the death of Dracula and recovering of his body, both of which happen in other comics altogether, despite being fairly central to the plot here. Never mind the fact that, after he's brought back to life by the X-Men, Dracula pretty much leaves the book until he shows up to take command of the vampires again, which - par for the course here - happens without much drama or reason to be interested. That's a weird hallmark of the six issues here: Everything that you feel should have some level of dramatic tension, interest or whatever just... happens. Sure, there may be some posturing from one or more of the characters, but there's never any excitement or resolution or anything that the reader actually gets to experience. In six whole issues.

(The resolution of the storyline is actually a great example of this: Having slaughtered the vampire army off-panel in the previous issue, the X-Men go all out to attack the vampire stronghold to rescue Jubilee. Once they get there, they break in, off-panel, fight off the guards, off-panel, and by the time they get to Dracula and his cronies, there's a stare-off before Dracula gives Jubilee back to the X-Men. The only action to be seen is Cyclops knocking Blade out - with an eye-beam to the back, weirdly enough - to stop him from attacking Dracula. Because, of course, the X-Men have no issue with Dracula, they had a problem with his son, who's now dead. The end.)

There's a certain futility in being disappointed in a superhero event comic for failing to live up to its hype; it's like being annoyed when the sun sets every evening, after all. But Curse of The Mutants does more than just fail to live up to its hype: It's almost entirely disconnected to the hype, not only failing to answer the questions from the hype (or, really, even acknowledging them. Was the solicit written based on plans that changed in the writing? I guess so) but failing to offer anything to replace those questions. I couldn't tell you why I bought all six issues of this storyline - Part of it was a car-crash quality, I admit, part of it was wondering if it would ever actually go anywhere close to the pre-release hype, but beyond that...? I have no idea. Inertia? Masochism? - but now that they're over, I have no idea whether I feel like it's been a waste of time and money, or a strangely hypnotic example of accidental zen anti-event comics. Let's be safe and just say that they're Awful, shall we?

Tucker Has No Experience With Which To Gauge These Comics Properly

This is a bit too long and overly friendly, so it's buried under the cut where Chris and Sean won't have to read it. It's about this X-Men Second Coming shindig. And me. It's too long. Also spoilers. "Second Coming" is the overall title for the current X-Men cross-over mini-event story arc. It's operating on a weekly basis, delivering one chapter a week. (Last week saw the release of the first unnecessary and terrible tie-in issue, called "X-Factor: Second Coming: Revelations.) It has another nine chapters left to go. The basic plot of the story is that "Hope", the only new mutant to have been born since "M-Day" has returned to the current X-Men timeline, and she is being targeted for execution by a hybrid group of mutant-haters, who are apparently led by a cyborg character named Bastion. That's not a very easy sentence to swallow, but it contains the minimum amount of pertinent information required to keep up with the story. (Whether or not that is enough to enjoy the story is, of course, your personal call.)

Each of the chapters has, so far, depicted a very short amount of time--the fourth installment is the only one that may stretch beyond an hour--and each issue has consisted primarily of fighting between the soldiers of the two groups. As of the most recent installment, Nightcrawler is dead, and a lesser-known character named Ariel died last week. The bad guys have seen a much higher rate of loss, but it's difficult to tell how high their body count actually is--they have a lot of cannon fodder, and lots of them die each issue.

I don't read X-Men comics on a regular basis, and I never have for a consistent period of time. (I did read the Grant Morrison stories in collections, but they've always struck me as Grant Morrison comics more than they were X-Men comics, and according to the Internet, Marvel felt exactly the same way.) But for the past five years or so, I've been taking a chance whenever the X-Men comics do their big X-Men crossover events. It wasn't until I thought about writing about Second Coming for this site that I realized something, which is I have no idea why I've been doing that. I've picked up and read the first issues of Messiah Complex, Messiah War, Utopia, House of M, that Brubaker thing about space, those Whedon things where he put Buffy on the team, that Chuck Austen thing that I guess caused swine flu?, and whatever that one was where Cyclops didn't trust his judgment and Nightcrawler kept yammering about somebody named "Gott"-and yet, I couldn't tell you what the impulse was. There were a couple of times where it was the creator's involved that pulled me in, but otherwise, this was just blindly buying something out of an undefined desire for...what? It wasn't because I was writing blog posts about them, because I didn't have a blog for most of them. It wasn't because I wanted to be able to talk to X-Men superfans, because the only one I know is this guy, and we have more fun talking about horrible things that people say.

And yet, here I am again, and I've found myself looking forward to the new chapters of this thing, this beastly, 14 part weekly story. There's yet to be an issue featuring an artist I care for, I harbor no nostalgic memory for any of the characters or their relationships with one another, and while four out of the five issues have been written by different people, all of the issues have featured the exact same re-arranged story beats. (Fighting, military style orders, short Jack Bauer one-liners followed by murder, some measure of tragedy). For whatever reason, this--the most simplistic example of an X-Men story as I could imagine--works for me in a way that absolutely none of their comics ever have before.

Part of my interest certainly began when I discovered the last two years of Cable comic books. If you didn't read it, Cable was the sort of horrible writing assignment one would expect dictated from someone like Dan Didio, a comic where a writer was hired to keep two characters occupied until the time was reached when rest of the X-Men books were prepared for these two characters to return. The book wasn't particularly interesting on an individual issue basis, but taken as a whole, it's weirdly fascinating stuff. Within its 24 issues, Duane Swierczynski was seemingly allowed to do whatever he wanted, as long as what he wanted involved Cable, the aforementioned Hope, and Bishop. The setting for the book changed throughout, but the basic plot never did--like some kind of long-form Krazy Kat story, Bishop ran after Cable and Hope while trying to kill them, and Hope and Cable tried not to die. (There was a brief X-cross-over break early on, but all of the visiting characters were incorporated into Duane's "run after Cable and Hope" format.) My interest in the book was born solely out of the desire to see Paul Gulacy draw Cable, but the constant repetition of the same plot device drew me to seek out as many of the issues as I could find without a lot of work. (Which was most of them.) Secretly, I hoped to find an issue that consisted of actual scenes where Hope and Cable looked over their shoulder while running away from Bishop, and in issue #22, I found that exact thing.

It would be giving Swierczynski too much credit to claim that this was the best possible creative choice for his Cable assignment, but compared to the way so many recent editorial fiat types of stories turned out, he achieved a weird bit of wizardry with this task. Hope aged (but never became that interesting of a character), Bishop killed millions of people (but his bloodthirsty psychopathy never made a lot of sense), and all the while, the rest of the comic just incorporated a boatload of random window dressing while never notably changing its format. Cable and Hope ran. Bishop ran after them. An artist put different backdrops up behind them. Repeat, 24 times.

In a way, Second Coming hasn't added a whole lot to that general idea. It's added the marquee characters into the mix, sure, and the primary villain has changed, but it's still a book about one thing: people want to kill this girl. The good guys don't want that to happen.

Just past the horizon of the evening, I can hear various extrapolations of overly-considered essays about these comics bubbling up. Maybe something about race, and how it's kind of fucked up that Marvel published a story for two years about how a strong, virile black man wasn't able to catch a sick old white dude and a little girl despite being--you know, not old, sick, or a little girl. Maybe you could even take some of Matt Fraction's past remarks about Utopia--the island/survivalist compound the X-Men now live on--seriously, and you could pretend that M-Day has a parallel to the Holocaust, and that the X-Force team is a vaguely considered stand-in for the Mossad.

Somebody could totally do that. Hell, it's tasteless enough that it might even be me. Considering that today's chapter of Second Coming ended with Hope's arrival at the X-Men's private compound, the story might now slow down and become another insufferable attempt to incorporate lots of talking into an action story while the main characters keep their knife hands pensively closed.

For now though, I'm not that guy. I'm just going to call these fuckers GOOD, and leave it at that.

Oh, wait, one last thing.

I guess Nightcrawler died because he didn't have one what it takes?

He wasn't much of a team player, if you ask me.

The Future Is Twenty Years Ago

Spot the mistake in this sentence, which paraphrases my thought process in a recent reading of X-MEN: MESSIAH COMPLEX: "Hey, it's a massive X-book crossover, just like back in the '90s, but with writers I really like, like Ed Brubaker and Mike Carey! This'll be like a trip down memory lane, but good!" That's right. It's those last two words. If there's one thing that Messiah CompleX taught me, it's this: X-Men is the Peter Pan of comics, only replace "the boy that never grows up" with "the superhero comic that never seems to change whatsoever."

It's really kind of stunning to me, the way in which writers seem to have absolutely no impact on X-Men comics anymore. Brubaker and Carey (and, for that matter, Peter David, Chris Yost and Craig Kyle, who are the other writers in this collection) are strong writers who normally have individual voices, but there's really no way you could tell that from reading this story; in a way, it's almost a testament to each writer that the chapters written by different people all seem to have the same authorial voice, but the problem is really that said voice is this weird undead Fabian Nicieza thing, as opposed to the sum of its individual parts (Reading recent X-Men comics, it has to be said that there's probably a case for Nicieza being the most influential writer for the franchise in the last twenty or so years - Definitely, the current crop of X-books hew closer to his writing in terms of dialogue and plot than Claremont).

Equally stunning is the fact that Messiah CompleX reads entirely like an X-book crossover from the 1990s, complete with "X"-based pun in the title (Remember The X-Cutioner's Song? Those were the days...). Switch up the artists - or maybe just the coloring - and you could've traveled back 15 years and given it to an X-fan without their blinking. The themes, the atmosphere, the plot points all feel the same - Everyone hates mutants! But maybe there's hope! But there's a traitor in the X-Men's midst! And time travel will be involved somewhere! And look at how much Gambit loves Rogue! - as does the cast (Complete with too many villains with convoluted, if not entirely unclear, motivation), and their relationships. For all the "NOTHING WILL BE THE SAME AGAIN" nature of stories of these scale, the problem is that everything stays the same. It's as if Grant Morrison never happened.

And yet, if you ignore all of that - all of my disappointment in discovering that the X-Men today (well, three years ago) is pretty much identical to the X-Men of twenty years ago, and that creators I like can get lost in stories like this - and approach it on a level of simply, "does it work as a story," then... It does? Kind of? There are dead ends, and unexplained characters and decisions throughout, but the whole thing has a momentum that carries you through nonetheless, no matter how false it is. As the first chapter in a trilogy, it works well as a set-up, especially if the writers wanted to screw with the readers' expectations (In particular, Bishop is proven right at some point), and despite everything, makes me want to read on and find out what happens next... even though I already know that what happens next won't be anything other than maintaining the status quo. A confused, slightly-self-loathing Okay, in that case.

Some Comics from 8/25

Less time than I thought this week -- too much message boarding (How does any of those incessant Newsarama posters get ANYthing done in real life? Do they just post on their boss' dime all day or something? Are they all pale 13 year olds who never see the sun? Someone should do a study!), plus, last night our Television went out so we need to go buy a new one this morning. So just a quick couple of reviews so, y'know, they don't take my blogging rights away from me. By the way, do I need to insert possible spoiler warnings for the below? Or is it just assumed?

WORLDWATCH #1: If I know you well enough, you have really been missing a superhero comic with dialogue like Hero: "Face down -- Hands behind your back, jerkoff!" Villian: "Who you calling jerkoff, you bondage whore!!". I know you've wanted a comic where female characters lounge around with their shirts off on almost every page, where there's frank talk about sex, about superhero webcams, where one hero jerks off watching another pair couple. Yes, you've wanted this forever... but where could you get it? Where and from who? Must your life be an endless torment of despair and anguish as you can't find this certain one thing you've always secretly wanted?

Well, suffer no more, true believer! Chuck Austen feels your special pain, and he's here with the solution to all of your dark shameful little desires. Yes, it's WORLDWATCH -- the "mature" take on superheroes! Move over Watchmen! Step aside Authority! THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT!

Come on, where else are you going to hear an exchange like this: Male hero: "So, technically.... you're DEAD?" Female Hero: "Not in bed." YESSSSSSSSSSS! Excuse me, something has come up... if you know what I mean!


ULTIMATE ELEKTRA #1: Meanwhile, on the other side of things, here's a comic predicated on gripping money laundering action! Oooh, hot! Elektra doesn't actually appear in this comic, at least not in the costumed sense. Which is fine with me, but this is probably too cerebral for anyone who normally follows the character. A strong OK.

CATWOMAN #34: Big reveal this issue -- turns out everything is Steph's fault. Which, when I first read it, made me go "Wow, that's clever!", but then I thought about it for a few minutes and decided that it was, instead, rather stupid. She's not be trained enough to know who Matches Malone is, yet she can take a secret destroy all crime from the bat-computer? And, wait, Batman doesn't recognize HIS OWN PLAN? Does that seem likely? And anyway, Matches is meant to take over the gangs? I thought the whole POINT of Matches was that he was an anonymous low level hood? Not boss-level, to be sure! I liked it as I was reading it, and I thought the coloring looked terrific on the nice art.... but I can't do more than a strong OK, because the end is so implausible.

BATMAN #631: I don't know that I really buy "Gasp! Batman murdered that girl!" at all -- this isn't Year One, after all. Plus, what's up with those panels where it looks like Batgirl (I think) snapping those guys necks? *shrug* A low OK.

GREEN LANTERN #180: First we get Dead Girlfriend in the Fridge, now we get Dead Mom in the Oven. Blech! Hey, and did anyone notice how Kyle (accidentally, I'm sure!) ended up desecrating his mother's warm corpse by blowing up the entire house? Neat! More one dimensional than the pages it is printed on. Awful.

SUPERMAN #208: A marginal improvement over the first few parts, but I still don't really get what's going on with "the vanishing" or what it means, or what caused it, or why I should care, or, really, anything. But, hey, at least the League looks cool. Eh.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #511: Oddly enough, JMS and Deodato doing MARY JANE'S THEATER ADVENTURES might be an interesting comic -- it held my interest more than the "You got your DNA in my peanut butter!" a-story, that's for sure. OK.

ASTONISHING X-MEN #4: While I'm a little bugged that Piotr is back (OR IS HE?!?!?!), mostly because he was the first of the "No, 'dead' MEANS 'dead'!" characters of the Quesada regieme, Kitty's reaction to same was super precious and makes up for a world of annoyances. I liked it: Very Good.

OK, out of time -- more later tonight, I hope.....


Polishing off the 8/4 comics

Just a few things to go, then I'll do the books post... LOVE AND ROCKETS v2 #11: Like I said, I don't "get" L&R, but are Jaime and Gilbert just excellent cartoonists? There are panels throughout each story that I like to just stare at. I especially liked bits from "Life Through Whispers". I just don't get the stories at all. Still, aesthetically, hard to say less than Good.

GUARDIANS #2: This is probably moving a lot slower than it should (page 2 and the plot is just starting?) but the art is nice and the characterizations are strong. I don't really care what happens, really (especially for $3 a throw), so let's call it OK.

WOLVERINE / PUNISHER #5: Hard to imagine a more phoned-in script, but, Christ, it's Wolverine & Punisher, I suppose I shouldn't expect Dostoevsky. Still, the story doesn' t end as much as stop, and practically promises a sequel. Big waste of my 5 minutes reading time. Crap.

X-MEN UNLIMITED: The juggernaut story was cute I guess (Except, um, what's up with the hearts in the last panel? Scott and Juggy have made a love connection? Ew!), but the Emma/Logan story didn't hang together than well. Overall, call it Eh.

ENGINE HEAD #4: I tried to read this twice, and I'm still not sure I understood what is going on. I usually like McKeever's art, but it seems unfocused here. Sorry: Awful.

BATMAN / CATWOMAN: TRAIL OF THE GUN: Generally, I have to say, if you gave me a choice, I'd ask to read stories, not one-sided screeds. I favor gun control, and could barely stagger through the polemics of this. Those 5 pages of super-extreme violence upfront were nasty, rather than affecting. Plus, let's be serious, the central idea of the story is inane -- a gun that "never misses"? What, it's telepathic? That sequence where they guy fires a burst IN THE AIR and the bullets circle around to hit 3 different people? Even with comic book physics that's preposterous. Why wouldn't the bullets circle around and hit the firer? Why wouldn't they all go after one target? Sheesh. Plus the whole concept that trying to find the prototype would mean anything? Hello, if such a thing exists, they have the plans to make more. Sheesh. The only saving grace here is Ethan Van Scriver's art, which in a few places is a breathtaking joy to behold. The horror in Selina's posture in what I'll call the mascara pages is really powerful. Too bad, it was in service to such a shitty shitty polemic. Crap.

There you go. Give me an hour or so to come back and do the books....