Enough of this Thanksgiving horseshit; time for a real holiday.

*I’m totally unable to sleep tonight. It might have had something to do with my napping for six hours after the turkey, but mostly it’s just from pure beautiful excitement. It’s time for a real holiday, my friends and readers:


The only holiday left that’s devoid of pretension. Thanksgiving’s almost out the door om the cultural radar, in case you haven’t noticed. Those Christmas decorations and talking robot Santas they’ve got set up inside Major Retaliers have been there since just after Halloween. There used to be at least a lonely paper pilgrim pinned by his cardboard shoulders onto the wall by the cash registers. Maybe a stray Horn of Plenty laid beside the bargain candy sacks. Well no more! Santa has long since landed his sleigh in the middle of that familiar First Thanksgiving scene and Ho Ho Ho he said as he tipped the dinner table over, his sweating Jello bulk scrunching and squishing in the fall afternoon while Rudolph crapped in a pristine nearby river and Dasher and Dancer trampled all of those pointy pilgrim hats into pancakes. Santa is jolly because he knows he’s a hypocrite! He knows he’s all about the money. He knows he’ll counting the box office receipts from that delightful new Tim Allen picture that’s currently screening at a friendly theater near you. It’ll do better than those earlier Christmas flicks. Ben Affleck and Tom Hanks. They failed dear old Santa. There will be only coal in store for them.

But Black Friday! Ah! Nobody pretends that Black Friday stands for anything but the lowest standards, the cheapest deals, the biggest headaches! I love Black Friday! I don’t even like the deals, frankly. Most of them are garbage. But just walking the halls of the shopping centers with thousands of people swarming and hustling about, seeing shoppers of every age sitting on the sidewalk outside the overflowed food court. I’m staying with my parents with the rest of my family so my sister and I took a drive around Wal-Mart’s parking lot earlier, at about 4:15 AM. Nobody was lined up yet, so we were sad and we bought some coffee. Oh, but they’ll be lining up soon! All of the good people of the town. And I’ll be waiting until noonish and then I’ll go up too, and I find that goddamned parking space and I’ll walk those halls and I’ll hear those carols crackling through the public speakers and smile at the Robot Santa and I’ll tell him that I’m happy to be there and he’ll laugh he pre-recorded holly jolly chortle and wish me a Merry Fucking Christmas and it’ll be same to you Robot Santa, same to you old pal, same to you good mechanical saint!

*While I’m here, I think I’ll review that one new comic that made it to my local store yesterday. I bet I’ll find more tomorrow. I managed to fill most of time today (at least when I was awake) playing with a free Playstation 2 sampler that I got in the mail. I just know I’m going to wind up getting “Viewtiful Joe” now; I played part of the sequel on that free disc and the first one is really cheap so I might get it, even though I don’t have any video game systems back at my apartment. The new “Ratchet and Clank” and “Jax and Daxter” sequels are pretty swell too.

I’m sure I’ll find the comics I missed on Black Friday. That’s part of the magic of the season.

Black Widow #3 (of 6)

Oh what to think of this plot? I have to admit that I kind of like where it’s going. We’re halfway through the regulation six-issue storyline and Richard K. Morgan is doing an above average job of keeping the plot revelations rolling out at a consistent clip. Sure we’re getting a little bogged down with that young lady Natasha rescued back in issue #1 (just like I predicted) but she’s good for bouncing exposition off of. Moreover, Morgan seems intent on developing a real live theme here: exploitation of women, by both the wicked villains of the book and society in general. It seems like a mysterious cosmetics company is in on the conspiracy to murder female KGB operatives; meanwhile, the North Institute continues to tail Natasha, and Nick Fury (this is ‘smoldering avatar for secret government idealism Fury’, not ‘vaguely threatening power-play peacekeeper Fury’ of “Astonishing X-Men” or ‘foul-tempered disenfranchised killer Fury’ of the most recent “Punisher MAX” arc) appears briefly to threaten people. I liked the Evil North Operative’s utterly hollow boasts after Fury leaves; that’s the gently smirking hold on characterization that I like from Morgan’s work on this book.

And yet, there’s trouble brewing with the execution. We’ve been told quite a few times about how women are treated in our contemporary society. No less than two times this very issue does Natasha sound off on the cosmetic responsibilities that women are expected to fulfill. So why is this the second issue in a row where Natasha struts around in her underwear? Sure, the cheesecake is surrounded by captions telling us about how uncomfortable and vulnerable Our Heroine feels dressed up in a tiny outfit stalking after her prey, but that can’t quite camouflage the sense of ‘having it both ways’. Greg Land and Matt Ryan’s cover is particularly baffling, depicting Natasha in an action pose in front of a billboard for the sinister cosmetics company. The problem is, with the supermodel face that Land and Ryan give her, Natasha looks virtually identical to the woman on the billboard, although I’m pretty certain she’s supposed to be providing contrast.

But the book remains fun. Thematic burps aside, Natasha is well-characterized and involving. The dialogue is witty. Goran Parlov and Bill Sienkiewicz continue to deliver on the visuals, including a nice hallucination sequence (though rather restrained by Sink standards). It’s much better than a random Marvel supporting character miniseries is generally expected to be, and that’ll keep me reading, probably for the duration.