Tired Day.

*New comics are out tomorrow, so the comics world rests today. You’ve heard about the contest over at Johanna‘s, right? Free "Fallen Angel" stuff? Ok, good.

*Well, I think I’ll spice things up with an extra-zesty edition of


I’m delivering to a hotel. Some of those places will have you wait at the front desk while they ring the guests to come get their food, but not this place. I know the layout pretty well, so I don’t even stop in at the front desk; I go around the side and in the back door and up the steps to the room.

I knock.

A middle-aged man answers the door in his underwear. A woman of equal age is reclining on the bed, also in her underwear. The man says:

Do you like Animaniacs?

I pause.

I glance further into the room and I realize that they’re watching that very show on television. In their underwear.

Oh… yes,” I reply.

I breathe a sigh of relief as I collect the money. I get a tip, and I walked away.

I have to confess, for a split second there I was sure that 'Animaniacs' had become some sort of bizarre sexual invitation.

But what can ‘Animaniacs’ refer to?

What sort of illicit act can logically spring from that particular show? It must involve three people. It must be ’animated’ I suppose. Does it involve anvils? Do they chase each other around? What?

It occupied my mind for the rest of the day.

Really, I’ve come to believe that was the goal of that couple. Just making me think about that show in a filthy way. That was pleasure enough for them.



Buckle Up.

*Wow! There’s so many hot new titles coming out this week that I’d better get started asap. Wait. Did I just call myself a sap? But I am a sap for all of these rocking new comics, so it was an accurate statement!


Street Angel #3: Apparently, this issue is a bit different from the last two, which is fine. I’ll just have to see how it’s executed, and hopefully it won’t get as overripe as the most recent issue of “The Goon”, which was also a more ‘serious’ departure for a generally humorous book, admittedly not its first departure, but its longest one, and not a very successful one at that. “Street Angel” has not let me down yet, so I’m anxious to see how it handles this little shift. And that cover’s a beaut!


That’s all.

Really. That’s all that’s coming out that I’m immediately interested in. “Persepolis 2” does not appear to be on Diamond’s list for this week, although various sites still seem to think it’s out tomorrow. Maybe it’s just not out from Diamond. I’m still not seeing “Following Cerebus” either. A bunch of new X-Solo books. A lot of titles I don’t follow. I guess I’ll hunt around for stuff I missed, like recent “Excel Saga“ volumes or maybe get some trade I‘m missing.

Or maybe I’ll just save my money.


Ooooooh, a dvd of 70 Troma trailers! Maybe I’ll get that

*Speaking of which, my local Best Buy is opening up at 7:00 in the morning tomorrow to accommodate the crowds who’ll be clamoring for “The Passion of the Christ” on dvd. Ah, my memories of that film! The grinning devil baby. The cgi monster jumping out and going “RAAR!” in the garden. The evil monster children chasing Judas all around. The 103,648 instances of slow-motion and exotic chants deployed to whip up instant drama. The bird puppet (having possibly escaped from the set of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” via time machine) swooping down to eat the bad thief’s eyes. The defeat of evil’s wicked grasp as signified by Satan’s wig falling off. Jesus inventing the modern table.

Golly. Who wouldn’t want such wonderful reminisce converted to digital format and enshrined in their very own home, at the highest bit rate possible? But no extras, you scamps! You’ll have to go back to Blue Underground for extended documentaries on gore effects; nothing here.

*Ha ha. I love how blo.gs says 'Congratulations' whenever you ping it. It's like I win a toy every time.


Lots of Assorted Stuff Here...

*Beginning with my weekly guide to LAST WEEK'S REVIEWS:

I Am Legion Vol.1 - The Dancing Faun by Fabien Nury and John Cassaday

Steed and Mrs. Peel Book 2 (of 3) by Grant Morrison, Anne Caulfield, and Ian Gibson

Promethea #31 (of 32), We3 #1 (of 3), Ojo #1 (of 5), and A1: Big Issue 0

Enjoy their delicious taste and low carbs!

*As part of my continuing magical quest to catch up on all of the comics events I missed in my long years away from the artform (I couldn’t help it; the Spider-Clone saga was just so good that I didn’t need to read anything else for years) I’ve begun scoping Grant Morrison’s run on “JLA”. I had known that this was Morrison’s big pre “New X-Men” superhero project, and I really wanted to check it out, but I wasn’t prepared for what I would find! Oh no! You see, I may not have been reading many comics for those years, but I had sort of kept abreast of the most visible developments, the changes that had crept above the canopy of the comics scene to be picked up by the mainstream media satellite feed. I had known of what I was confronted with, but I had never personally encountered:


But there he was, right at the start of the second “JLA” collection. On the last page of the first trade he was still Luxurious Flowing Locks Superman, the Superman I remembered from the immediate morning-after of the speculator bacchanal that was the Doomsday Steel Cage Retirement Match. But this! Who was this cotton-candy fuckwit?! He looked like a character Erik Larsen would introduce in an early “Savage Dragon” and kill two issues later. Was this a new ’cool’ Superman? I half expected to open the book and find:

SUPERMAN: Hi team! Sorry I’m late! Had to change into these sweet new threads and I’m blue in the face!

WONDER WOMAN: Superman. You look like… a muscular icicle.

SUPERMAN: Ha ha! Good one! Now let’s go fight some evil so I can get back to my inline skating!

FLASH: Look… Superman, why don’t I get your old suit… I can get there really fast…

SUPERMAN: Hey, anyone heard this new ‘Cake’ album? It’s great!


It’s like watching a beloved and stable parent experience a mid-life crisis, overcompensating drastically for their self-perceived lack of hipness. And isn’t there a red Superman later too or something? Well, I trust the tender arms of Grant Morrison to cradle me like an infant and guide me through this time of strife.

But Grant, why are there only one set of footprints here in the sand?

Those are the times when I carried you.

*Quick update to this morning’s post: “Hero” (a two year-old foreign-language film that’s been available on dvd for months) is looking to be the #1 grossing film this weekend. Of course the competition wasn’t exactly stiff (the “Anaconda” sequel, the “Baby Geniuses” sequel, and some dire looking serial killer thing with Ben Kingsley) and “Hero” was already a monster hit elsewhere on our globe, but it does feel nice seeing a visually beautiful subtitled film taking the top spot over all the sequels and formulas. I stand by my issues with the film’s philosophic drive, which did detract from my enjoyment of the film’s visual splendor and excellent fighting, but those surface pleasures were undeniably potent.

Bricktop A1 Special

I saw a really quick review of this in Steven Grant’s column, and it stuck in my head. I picked up the recent A1 Issue 0 (review link above) and popped over to Atomeka Press’ website, and it looked like they had some nice stuff coming up (like “Mr. Monster”, one of my favorite series of the 80’s), including this. Wholly by coincidence I saw it sitting on the store shelves as I poked around the other day, and I snatched it up.

Glenn Fabry is currently doing the art for the Garth Ennis-penned miniseries “The Authority: More Kev”, and this project seems to feature the same nasty sense of humor that I’ve heard the Kev book possesses. “Bricktop” is from the early 90’s; it was first serialized within the original “A-1” in six parts of 4 to 7 pages each, adding up to a nice 32-page floppy which is what we have here. The first two parts feature writing and art by Fabry, with Chris Smith joining in for the latter four chapters.

Lucy ’Losey’ Wales is the redheaded title character, a punkish working-class teenager who never removes her sunglasses, no matter what. She and her odd friends become embroiled in a strange plot involving vomit, nerve gas, cultists, furry animal costumes, biker gangs, and an evil alien who appears to be participating in her own separate story of which we are only privy to selected scenes. It’s amusing stuff, if chaotically executed, with each chapter sort of forming its own mini-story within the context of the larger plot. By the end, space has become so tight Fabry and Smith resort to having nearby talking fish deliver plot information while the climatic chase proceeds. I found the story to be more effective when it simply followed Lucy and friends around on their drunken misadventures, avoiding unwanted ex-boyfriends and generally horsing around, with the fantastical plot occasionally bumping in. And the final twist involves a reference to silent comedian Ben Turpin, so it’s impossible for me to be too annoyed.

Fabry and Smith’s art looks good in b&w, with lots of grimy local flavor to the environments. There’s lots of classic Marvel influence to my eyes; more than a bit of John Romita Sr. I liked the little bits of business going on, like one of the biker girls transforming into a piggy and staying that way for no logical reason. The visual storytelling grows as whip-fast as the plot by the end, with scene-transitions occasionally becoming disorienting, but each panel is individually quite attractive. It’s a fun book for your $3.50.

Throwing Yourself Upon the Mercy of the Imperial Court

Hero (Ying xiong)


My amusement of the day yesterday was seeing “Hero”, the two-year old Chinese megahit directed by Zhang Yimou that Miramax just now decided to release to a significant number of theaters since Quentin Tarantino beat Harvey Weinstein in thumb wrestling or something. I saw Zhang’s “Shanghai Triad” in theaters back during its theatrical release in 1995; I still recall certain images, there were so vividly burnt into me (especially those coins falling onto the dock… ahhhhhh), so I was certainly looking forward to what he’d do with the ‘ass-kicking’ genre, as I like to call it. The plot concerns Jet Li, a nameless prefect in ancient China, who has apparently killed the three greatest warriors in the land, all of whom opposed the Emperor’s war for unification of various tribes.

And it all certainly looks nice. It has a very confidently unreal style; the film is secure enough to break up a fight for a while just to have Jet Li and Tony Leung chase each other around the surface of a lake for a few minutes. It’s the sort of movie where, upon a warrior’s death, all of the yellow autumn leaves in the forest magically turn red. It acts as a nice litmus test for exactly how much cheese ball stylization I can stand; I have a big appetite for wire-work but CGI seems to be where I get lost. Characters making impossible twists in the air is fine, some of the more awkward pause and turns sort of bug me but no big deal. But when Jet Li whooshes through the air in slow-motion flicking away shiny crystal raindrops like PS2 glass, that’s when the eyes start to roll. Perhaps I’m too grounded in my tastes for fighting? Wirework looks sort of semi on the plane of reality, but CGI still proves distracting, perhaps because I find one aspect of the unreality significantly less convincing than the rest; the all-computer stuff simply suffers in comparison.

The fighting is pretty nice though. I’ve heard the film was created as something of an ’answer’ to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, and I’d say the fight editing is a little better here; the early fights in “Tiger” were just to frantically cut for my tastes (I had the same problems with some of the earlier battles in “The Fellowship of the Ring“), although it did slow down a little more as it went along. Here the fights achieve a better balance between visibility and visual kinetics. Of course, this sort of thing gets especially subjective; you might feel quite differently.

The real issue I had with the film was its politics, or maybe its philosophy. Basically, the film cheats around with its moral drive, to the point where I couldn’t really believe the characters anymore. To put it bluntly, Jet Li is actually here to assassinate the emperor for his crimes against Li’s tribe, but he’s convinced by Tony Leung not to kill the Emperor, even though the Imperial army has killed both of their families, because the Emperor is the only one who stands a chance of uniting the land and putting an end to inter-tribal fighting, through the extinguishment of ’tribes’ and the creation of a national identity. Jet Li mentions this to his majesty, who then bursts into tears and warbles that finally someone understands the good motives behind his warfare (try to imagine Jet Li saying this to Hitler during his own campaign of ‘unification‘). His Highness then comes to the realization that only through war can peace arrive, but peace must reign supreme after the war is done; the warrior must transcend the use of the sword, or something. Then the imperial court demands Jet Li be executed for attempting an assassination (or else the throne will be undermined by a show of weakness or whatever), and Li lets the Emperor have him killed to ensure the stability of his reign, and then China is unified and everyone sheds a tear and Li is buried a hero of the realm. I couldn’t help but imagine David Bowie’s classic tune ‘Heroes’ playing as Jet Li takes a whole swarm of those fatal arrows, leaving a Jet Li-shaped hole against the Imperial gate, which was kind of silly. Oh, and Maggie Cheung (another warrior) thinks Leung is a complete fucking tool for saving the Emperor (her family got extinguished as well) so she kills him, but then she realizes that she's killed the only man she truly loves, and she kills herself. The end! Oh, and Zhang Ziyi is in there too, but she has nothing to do but have sex and be a headstrong young fighter.

The problem is, the moral drive of the characters is as stylized as the action itself. Leung fights the Emperor himself at one point, and comes to realize that he’s a swell fellah underneath and he won’t at all subjugate the people of the tribes that he doesn’t personally belong to and he only has good intentions at heart because… well… he just sort of does. Because among Leung’s abilities is the power of 'historical fiction hindsight', where he knows (since he’s a character in a film made in 2002) that China will eventually be unified. There doesn’t seem to be any other reason why Leung would arrive at such a long-view, since everything else the Emperor has done (outside of his rhetoric) has resulted in violence toward his tribe. And Maggie Cheung gets to play the juicy role of straw-man in the debate, as the rebellious warrior. At one point, Leung mentions to someone a platitude along the lines of “What use is the suffering of one against the good of many?”. I would hope that whomever he said it to, being in the same position and possessing an intellect above the level of mental retardation would respond with “Er, yeah Tony, but what about the 200,000 or so other kids who’ll have their families wiped out? Aren’t they ’many’ as well?” But no, Jet Li senses the benevolence of the Imperial fist and Maggie Cheung discovers that adhering to violence will only destroy the ones we love… um, unless the violence leads to peace… which we know will happen with the Emperor because… er… he’s the emperor and stuff, so his violence is ok… unless he adheres to violence after the war, which he won’t because... everyone knows he’s enlightened... because… he just is.

Sorry folks, my eloquence has failed me; that’s the clearest expression of the message of “Hero” that I could muster. Some other people tried too as we walked out of the theater:

So it’s like, anti-war?

Well the movie’s pro-war. Because peace only comes through war.

So it’s pro-war and anti-war?

I think it’s just anti-‘assassinating the Emperor’.

Ah. That did it!

So basically, the film’s message is painted in such broad strokes and relies on such contrivance to get there that it’s not quite offensive to me (J. Hoberman called it "the essence of shallow gravitas" and I tend to agree); it’s just bullshit. And rather naive bullshit at that, throwing its weight behind those with the most power because they can reach a higher goal simply because they are in power. We didn't elect them or anything, so we’ll just have to cross our fingers that they’re as enlightened as we assume.

But you know what happens when you assume, right?

*Tune in later tonight for more comics reviews!


Another Big Day...

*I have been captured by the sleepy demons, and they’ve shot my veins all up with sleep. I managed to find those issues of “Deep Sleeper” (haw) and some other neato stuff but it’ll have to wait for tomorrow.

*In the meantime, here’s a bedtime story:

I was in the shop, looking around to see if “Finding Cerebus” was around (I couldn’t find it anywhere). A girl was standing next to me, flipping through a “Witchblade” trade. She suddenly spoke aloud:

How the hell do they get away with this?!

I looked to see if she was talking to me, but she just tossed the book back on the shelf and walked away. I’m not sure if she was referring to the quality of the story or art or simply the ‘feel’ the book gave off. I can’t exactly remember which volume it was either; it was the one with the lady on the cover and her butt is mostly naked and she has big breasts. Does that help?

*While we’re on the topic, the only copy of “Worldwatch” I could find was kept behind the counter, so I couldn’t be seduced into peeking inside. I feel good about that. I know I’d never buy it; my cut-off price for mockery purchases is one quarter.

*From the It’ll Be A Long Wait Dept: Issue #2 of “We3” is not due out until the week of Halloween. Gah.

*The new Entertainment Weekly came out today; they gave Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis 2” an ’A’ grade. I think the book is due out really soon, like possibly next week. I’ll probably be checking it out; the first volume was interesting, at least story-wise. The cartooning wasn’t exactly earth-shattering, but Satrapi managed a few nice compositions (particularly a page that contrasts Satrapi attending her first party with images of other children exploding on the battlefield, with the flailing limbs of kids being kids mirroring the corpses of kids pressed into battle). Her style has been compared quite a lot to David B. whose own “Epileptic” is soon to be collected in one volume (also from Pantheon, who put out both of Satrapi’s books).

*Ok. Hail comics. Later!

The Revolution is Outside My Building.

*There’s a delightful display of civil protest taking place outside my window right now (at about 1:45 AM eastern time). A fine gaggle of youths, doubtlessly in town on their first weekend of college, are very excited about our local garbage regulations! You see, around here you have to put all of your garbage in special bags or the trash men won’t pick them up (at about 6:00 today). The bags cost three dollars each. Or as the lad and lass outside my building are saying:


Heeeheeeee no Billy, stop!


[something is kicked]

Ohmygod Billy stop it you're so loud! Ha ha!


And so on, for several enlightening minutes. I’m heartened to discover that young people are so enthusiastic about their local municipality’s trash policies! And thank goodness the Internet is here so I can dispatch this important news to all of the world.

I haven’t put my trash out yet. I’m saving that until after the Reform Party moves on to another street. This will also allow me to ingratiate myself further to the neighbors as I walk through the hall with garbage late at night; the legend of my popularity will soon be spread to written tradition among the people of my building!

*Brian Hibbs is playing with fire. If he keeps writing such funny reviews of books like Chuck Austen’s “Worldwatch”, I’m going to be tempted to flip through it on the stands and who knows what trouble may arise.

*Not a lot to discuss right now. The hottest news of the day is that an X-Men character who was once believed dead is now in fact alive. You’ll have to excuse me for not commenting on the momentous impact this gut-churning twist will no doubt have on fandom’s ability to trust Marvel; if sales on the core X-Men titles start dropping below the 20,000 level I’ll have to turn in my gun and badge to the Blog Chief, but I‘m willing to take that risk.

*Speaking of sales, I like to do the occasional perusal of Comicon’s sales estimates, with commentary by Paul O’Brien for Marvel and Marc-Oliver Frisch for DC and Others. The DC charts proved especially interesting this month, since I found out that “Metal Hurlant” had been moving less than 3000 copies in the Direct Market until their move to DC (does Humanoids have much of a magazine-rack presence for this title?) But now there’s nothing to fear: they’re at a studly 5000+ copies! Not every story is gold, mind you, but you’d think that a decent 64-page anthology retailing for $3.95 would attract a few more people.

Also, “Seaguy” dropped about 25% of its readership from issue 1 to 3. I’ll confess that I’m utterly baffled with people in the comments section dismissing it as ’incomprehensible’ since I personally thought Morrison bent over backwards to explain everything that was necessary to understand what was going on. Of course, a lot of that happened in issue #3 after close to 5000 readers had already left. And I’ve met plenty of people who thought “Memento” was impossible to follow, which also blows my mind. I guess I can’t totally blame the early “Seaguy“ jumpers; I’m also prone to dumping a title early if it isn’t showing signs of keeping my interest, but I thought the first issue of “Seaguy” was excellent in building up an interesting premise and teasing the reader with what was to come. A bunch of people didn’t agree. Of course, a large number more didn’t try in the first place.

*Stuff I’m thinking about picking up tomorrow if I can find it:

Popbot #6 (totally forgot about it)

Following Cerebus (some people seem to have gotten it, but I don’t see it on Diamond’s list)

Deep Sleeper (there’s an omnibus collection of issues #1-2 and a new #3 out now… I’ve heard good stuff)


A Special Late-Edition New Comics Triumph!

Promethea #31 (of 32)


It occurs to me that the only point left in reviewing this book at all is to join in the analysis with others who’ve been with the story for this long, or assure those sitting on the fence that the ending doesn’t totally drop the ball so they can get started with reading the trades. Nobody is ever going to want to read this issue alone after all, without having followed the book this far. It might also be best to have followed other ABC titles, since some of them are referenced throughout the series. Hell, it’s probably best to have read most of Alan Moore’s bibliography since this title extends many of his favorite themes (the flawed utopia, the effects of archetypical story-types on new fictions, etc.) to their logical conclusion, and re-examines several more (some recent issues of this book can easily be read as a ‘response‘ to Moore‘s own conclusion to “Watchmen“). Some may accuse Moore of leaning too much on homage to older stories; this story ties the idea of homage (indeed, the idea of fiction) into a universal spirituality. It at least works in the context of Moore’s fictional ABC universe: the endless eye-pops of “Top Ten” and the pulp highlights of “Tom Strong” seem to make more sense when tied to an engine that runs on imagination, with the recurring human experiences of war and love and bias and everything operating in much the same way as the recurrence of elements in superhero fiction. Moore’s reflective comics world, in this way, can be more than a compendium of tinkered tropes and a revival of classic, semi-ignored former ideas; it can be indicative of the very pageant of human experience. As justification, it’s a marvelous one.

Anyway, the world ends. That’s not a spoiler. Promethea is even nice enough to explain what the ’end of the world’ is. I mean, she sits by the fire, looking directly at the reader, and offers a nice world-ending info dump. And there’s even more fun to be had after the world’s finished, including the return of several beloved characters (beloved by me at least) and a really nice joke about the “Tom Strong” title soldiering on (and a promise of a more ’proper’ conclusion for that book in the future… hmmm). Moore’s skill with characters continues to shine, especially the red-haired guy with the cybernetic eyes; I’m pretty sure he started out as a background person but he’s really evolved into a very cool little character here.

Interestingly, inker Mick Gray is not credited on this issue. J.H. Williams III is still working overtime on the art chores, and those who haven’t been enjoying his recent hyper-real style will certainly enjoy some scenes in this issue. After so much blood and thunder on this book, it’s great to see Williams III re-assert his skills in more typical comic art. I can’t wait to see his stuff on Ellis’ “Desolation Jones” (and hey, “Tom Strong” regular Chris Sprouse on “Ocean” too).

These wacky secrets-of-life comics. Someday, someone will do a massive comparison between “The Invisibles”, “Cerebus”, and “Promethea”, and contrast their differing approaches to explaining the underlying secrets of the human experience. Hell, I might just do it myself someday.

Oh, right. Despite the big ‘The End’ at the close of this issue, there’s still one more “Promethea” left. It’s referred to as a ’Wrap Party’. I wonder if it’ll just be scenes of what everyone in the ABC universe is up to, or maybe just behind-the-scenes material. We’ll see.

We3 #1 (of 3)

A lightning-fast read. Even with 32 story pages, this tale is being told quickly. Lots of splashes (including two double-pagers) and very little dialogue. It’s quite well-done though; one never gets the impression that vital parts are being glossed over or left on the cutting-room floor. The opening scene ingratiates us to the protagonists immediately by sending us on a mission mostly through their eyes. A bravura series of six consecutive pages consisting of eighteen-panel security-camera grids effectively showcases the speed and power of the title characters; it’s not only a novel way of conveying (easy to anticipate) plot advancement.

Speaking of the plot, on the surface it’s pretty heavily reminiscent of my foggy memories of Richard Adams’ “The Plague Dogs”, a book (and later animated film) regarding the adventures of a pair of canines who escape from horrible scientific experimentation into the woods and struggle to survive with their captors hot on their tails (pun fully intended). Here, it’s a dog, a cat, and a bunny. Oh, and they’re attached to enough weaponry to instigate regime changes in several small nations. Grant Morrison doesn’t give his animal black-ops outfit many lines (oh yes, they can talk, the illogicality of which becomes a plot impetus), but the few words they speak convey a lot. Bandit (aka: Number 1) is utterly heartbreaking in his desire to be praised and loved, and his irrational urge to go back to his old home (the excellent cover of the book gives us our only clue as to his past). And naturally, the humor of the situation doesn’t escape the writer (“Number 1 is a good, loyal dog. He only kills the enemies of our nation.”)

Frank Quitely always works well with Morrison, and the two devise some interesting staging (many characters’ faces are never fully shown on panel). He’s just the right artist to capture the inescapable ridiculousness of fuzzy pets poking out of gleaming insect-like robot shells, while still making it feel plausible. It’s a good, fast first issue, and I’m ready to see where the plot goes.

Ojo #1 (of 5)

As a writer, Sam Kieth has a tendency toward over-emphasizing the psychological plights of his characters. Often there’s some scene where two people throw down all sorts of psychological rationalizations for their behavior; Kieth sometimes tells more when he should be showing more. Perhaps it’s a preliminary move against such over-analysis by using a young child as the narrator of “Ojo”, Kieth’s new miniseries from Oni Press (with Alex Pardee co-illustrating). Here we’re left with a character who can’t help but simplify, and it helps the story’s flow.

Little Annie hasn’t quite gotten over her mother’s death. She lives in a trailer with her Grandpa and her mean sister Melissa, and she only wants a nice pet to love, but she can’t seem to keep them alive, which serves as a reflection of her own irrational child-guilt over her mother’s death. But Annie finds a special new pet one day, and even gets to meet its own momma…

This is probably the strongest work I’ve seen from Kieth since the first few issues of the second “Zero Girl” (which later got bogged down in willfully obscure mind-control antics). He and Pardee are working in b&w here, but the Kieth style retains its appealing pliability even stripped of the familiar soft colors the look is often associated with. Kieth’s command of visual metaphor is a bit more deft than usual (I loved how the pipe where the pet‘s mother resides is initially used to symbolize Annie‘s birth, the physical separation from her own mother), and the book in general exhibits none of the staleness that permeates something like “Scratch“, which also deals with outsiders and their torment but in the most thudding literal manner possible. This book feels a lot more organic, even more heartfelt. It’s a promising start.

A1: Big Issue 0

An anthology of reprints from the old A1 anthology title of yore (the definition of ‘yore‘ being the late 80‘s/early 90‘s). I hadn’t seen three of the five stories here, so I thought it’d be worth $5 to check out.

I already own a treasured copy of Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse’s collected “Bojeffries” material as published by Tundra back in the day. That edition also sported Parkhouse’s own coloring. Presented here is the prologue and the first story in the saga, in b&w and sort of clipped off at the edges of some panels. “Bojeffries” is something of an Addams Family riff, only set squarely in the working-class England that Moore knows so well. This material serves as an introduction to the characters. It’s whimsical and generally amusing.

The other story I’d read is a “Flaming Carrot” 4-pager which actually first appeared in “Aardvark-Vanaheim in 3-D” in 1984, as evidenced by the first Carrot trade, “Man of Mystery!”, which also reprints the story. Oddly, the story is co-credited to editor/designer/producer Garry Leach, although the story itself only bares Carrot creator Bob Burden’s name. It’s a pleasant blast of typical Carrot nonsense, which is actually continued in the “Cerebus” book “Church and State” in an extremely silly way.

As for the ‘new’ stuff, Steve Dillon’s “Kathleen’s House” is a decent slice-of-Dublin-life. Ronald Shusett and Steve Pugh’s “Shark-Man” looks pretty neat but it feels like chapter 11 (of 25) in a pretty typical superhero serial (which it may well be). As a result, it’s mildly confusing and thoroughly disposable.

But Dave Gibbons and Ted Makeover’s “Survivor” is a more interesting piece. It’s told entirely through the first-person perspective of a very familiar-feeling superhero, as he undergoes an existential crisis. It’s one of the more innovative ways of examining this much-examined character, even if the denouement doesn’t make complete sense (why didn’t he just try to intentionally do what happens accidentally, if he’s so super-smart… unless that was his plan all along… quite a roundabout way of doing it).

It’s an ok book to check out, especially if you haven’t seen any of these stories. None of them are particularly lacking, though some are a bit stronger than others.


Today’s Post is One of Reflection.

Ahhhhh. Old(er) comics. Brings back old thoughts. Focus your eyes and take my hand, capricious siblings. Let’s traipse hand-over-hand across the monkey bars in the rusting playground of memory with:


I have an order from a guy living on (let’s call it) 105 Apple St. It’s night. I cruise up and down the street, looking for porch lights to guide my way. I eventually hit a lighted house; it’s #135 or so.

I get out of the car and decide to walk with the food, since it’s a nice evening and I don’t feel like driving much anymore. I follow the road down to house 105. It’s all dark, even inside. As I approach the porch, a middle-aged man emerges from the interior.

I give him the food and tell him that it’s $24.95. He stares at me blurrily. He’s obviously drunk. He sets the food down (with much difficulty, I must say) and manages to dig out a twenty and a ten.

I dig through my pockets to get him five ones (so I’ll hopefully get a tip). I hand him the change. He stares at the money blankly. He looks at me. He grins.

And tosses the bills right into his bushes as he scoops up his food and hobbles into the house.

I wait till he's was gone.


There were many important questions raised that night, as I dug through the leaves and dirt for one-dollar bills. But I ignored them all, because I had the overwhelming feeling that the customer was peeping out the window at me, giggling, sweating. I never saw him though. I never got another order to the house.

It was the best tip of the night.

Steed and Mrs. Peel Book 2 (of 3) by Grant Morrison, Anne Caulfield, and Ian Gibson

As you’ll recall from my review of Book 1, this is a prestige format series set in the world of the television show “The Avengers”, published by Eclipse Books (they of the US edition of “Miracleman”, along with Chris Ware’s first full-length comic “Floyd Farland, Citizen of the Future”) and Acme Press (who did a nice collection of Alan Moore’s “Maxwell the Magic Cat” if I recall correctly). This one came out in 1991, the year after the first. The final book was released in 1992. I’ve learned a bit more about this series after switching my brain to the ‘on’ position and looking for Ian Gibson’s website. The pertinent info is here.

Unlike Book 1, this volume is divided into two unique stories (remember that the story in Book 1 was divided into two halves, as continuing parts of the same narrative). The first half is part 3 of Morrison’s “The Golden Game”. Interestingly, the page numbering begins where it left off in Book 1, with page #46. Perhaps a re-packaging of the story in trade form was planned? I really know almost nothing about “The Avengers” as a program, but the image I always have of the show involves colorful sets and lots of style, all of which is evidenced here. Steed infiltrates the sinister lair of the gamers-only Palamedes Club, and uncovers a lot of stuff regarding the recent deaths and security leaks in British intelligence. A technique of Morrison‘s that I‘ve seen a few times, layers of reality stacked atop each other, comes into ’play’ here, as there appears to be several different games going on at once between different characters. Meanwhile Peel discovers something and races off to save the day, I guess. It’s nice that the story is becoming reminiscent of some of Morrison’s other works (if not as complete in its subversion of literal reality, only the perception of conflict), and it’s a nice time-passer.

The other half of the book begins a story by Anne Caulfield, writing her first comics story, according to Gibson‘s page (as linked above). It's called "Deadly Rainbow", and the page numbering resets at one. In contrast to Mrs. Peel’s lack of activity in Morrison’s story, the plot in this one focuses on her and Mr. Peel, who’s recently returned from being lost in the jungle. He whisks his bride away to aid him in fighting for the rights of the Leopard People, a native tribe who’re gradually becoming less and less tolerant of the industrialized world’s incursions on their turf. But perhaps they are too late to stop the violence. It’s a less splashy story than Morrison’s, and moves very quickly. Perhaps the whole deal with Peel’s husband would have more gravity is I was a fan of the show? Regardless, it’s a decent start.

Gibson does the art for both stories; he has a good deal of fun with the opening to Caulfield’s, mixing ancient picture-language style with more realistic (Gibson-realistic, that is) images to dole out the story’s background. Gibson’s style is well suited for the visual pizzazz of Morrison’s piece too, and his character art provides excellent likenesses of the familiar television cast, while neatly subsuming their images into loose cartoon lines, while the rest of the characters are free to become even more caricatured in their display.

I got this on eBay for about a dollar above the $4.95 cover price, which isn’t bad. I’ve yet to see a copy of Book 3 around, but I’ll at least consider picking it up, and not just to satisfy my completes urges; it’s an enjoyable series.


Let's Talk.

Let’s Talk About Me:

*But be quiet! The neighbors are listening! Well, not really, but apparently they can hear me tromping around my apartment at 4:00 AM in the morning when I can’t sleep, and they decided to gently inform me earlier today. Man, you’d swear they had to get up at 6:30 or something. Well, ok, they do. But so do I! And I’m up! Having fun! Pacing and jack hammering and pogo-sticking and recording my latest album and conversing with the ghost of Lyonel Feininger (loud fellow) and rehearsing my Blogger of the Year 2004 acceptance speech and dramatizing my favorite “Krazy Kat” strips with authentic bricks and accurate dialects and lighting off quarter sticks! Well now it’s the fucking Diary of Anne Frank in here. What’ll I do with all these air-horns?

No. I love my neighbors. I will be nice. I will not walk around too much when I can’t sleep.

Ok Then, Let’s Talk About Other Bloggers:

*Gah! Tim O’Neil has been bedazzled by Jae Lee! Everyone must beware! Mr. Lee practices powerful magics, or maybe majiks, or even majics, or possibly the dreaded - MAGJICKSSS! Behold his power! I haven’t read “Manhunter” myself, but the mere mention of it gives me yet another opportunity to pull this one out; is Mr. Lee perhaps reading an element of satire into the material, or is it already there?

*Marc Singer dissects Peter Bagge’s recent fine-art themed strip for Reason and finds a lot of stuff beneath its skin. Quite an interesting critique; well worth your time.

*Mike Sterling has discovered The Truth. The lies have no power anymore. We are free.

That Said, Let’s Talk About THIS WEEK’S UPCOMING COMICS:

Promethea #31 (of 32): This is the one where the world ends. It’s not the last issue though. I’m hoping the last issue will be nothing but blank pages. That would be too rad. Anyway, I’ve been onboard the Big Alan Moore Thematic Career Retrospective/Reexamination the whole way so far, and I’m really looking forward to the rest. I seriously anticipating this one hard.

We3 #1 (of 3): In which Morrison and Quitely bring us the amazing adventures of cuddly pets turned into weapons of mass-destruction. I’m frothing at the mouth for this one too (you all remember how much I loved “Seaguy”, right?), which instantly makes this one of the stronger weeks for comics in recent memory. Two books I’m probably gonna read in the parking lot? Good fucking week.

X-Statix #26: I dropped this one quite a while back. Right before the Princess Di apocalypse roll-back. I heard it got better in the last arc, and now it’s over. Advance word indicates that it’s a mighty bitter farewell too. I really liked it back when it was the new “X-Force”. It lost momentum after a while, almost right as the title changed. I had been considering dropping it even before the whole Thing. Well, it had some great stories. It was the only X-Title I bought for a while (I waited for the hardcovers with Morrison’s stuff). It’s probably overdue for shutdown now, but it did some great stuff in its day. I’m probably not getting this final issue, but maybe the old dropped book sentimentality will get the better of me.

Excel Saga Vol. 8: Hmm. I didn’t mean to drop this one, I just never had the spare $10 to spend on it, and it was never that high on my list of stuff. The last volume I got was #5. It’s a pretty cool book, funny in a spastic way, but far more subdued than the anime version (which often diverges wildly, and sports a far more satiric sense of humor). Koshi Rikdo’s art gets jumbly at times, but it’s generally attractive. It’s a nice, spirited book, vaguely about the exploits of (the only) two bumbling agents of a low-rent world-domination outfit. It meanders a lot, but that’s part of the point. I’d recommend trying it; I just haven’t had enough cash to spare on it recently.

Ojo #1 (of 5): Written and drawn by Sam Kieth, with art assist by Alex Pardee. Kieth in b&w is tempting, and even “Scratch” roped me in for at least issue #1. I know it’ll look nice. But Kieth’s scripts have left a lot to be desired on a number of occasions. This one deals with a little girl and a mysterious beast pet and family strife, so we’re on familiar ground. We’ll see…

Popbot #6: The latest in Ashley Wood’s extra-obscure solo series. So get ready for lots of full-page splashes and eccentric action. I find it all sort of compelling.


I'll See You In My Dreams... AND IN MY NEW REVIEW LOL!

but first...


Robocop: Killing Machine, Astro City Special, The Goon #8, Ex Machina #3, and Terra Obscura Vol. 2 #1 (of 6) (A new comics day bonanza!)

Steve Ditko’s 32 Page Package #5 (lots of one-page Ditko design demonstrations)

and now...

*Roarin’ Rick Veitch, he of the long-running “Rare Bit Fiends” dream-based comic series, has started a regular feature on the Comicon.com message boards in which he’ll post dream comics, and everyone is invited to comment or contribute their own dream-inspired art and prose. It’s called “Little Omens”, and you can check it out here, if for no other reason than to see how ridiculous my subconscious is, since I contributed a recent dream of my own. And if you really like it (Rick‘s work, that is, not my dreams), you can check out the first two trade collections of “Rare Bit Fiends”, “Rabid Eye” and “Pocket Universe”, and anticipate the October release of the third collection “Crypto Zoo”.

I Am Legion Vol.1 - The Dancing Faun by Fabien Nury and John Cassaday

Cassaday’s on something of a hot streak, providing art for both the popular “Astonishing X-Man” and the intermittently-released but much-loved “Planetary”. This is this third ongoing project, a series of prestige-format books from Humanoids/DC. The script is by French writer Fabien Nury, as translated by Justin Kelly.

The book’s 54 story pages comprise an introduction to the story. There are two supernatural-type beings, ‘Strigoi‘, running around in 1942, as WWII rumbles along. The blood of whichever host body the being is occupying, when consumed by another person or animal, allows the being to control the person/animal as sort of a puppet master. Occasionally, a full transfusion can afford the being a permanent new home. One of these demonic/vampiric things (and there’s even an amusing discussion between two characters as to whether Strigoi translates to ’demon’ or ’vampire’) is calling itself Legion (a biblical demonic reference) and has shacked up with the Nazis, and there’s all the expected plans for creating an invincible army of puppet-prisoners.

But really the focus of this volume seem to be talk. Lots of discussion of subterfuge, lots of investigation of deaths, lots of potential double-crosses on both sides of the struggle. There’s a noble, haunted intelligence officer who’s co-worker has an unrequited crush on him but he’s too caught up in work. There’s corruption going right to the top of British Intelligence. There’s even a secret agent behind enemy lines on a vital mission. His code name is Trinity, which indicates that subtlety is perhaps not among Mr. Nury’s priority tools on the project.

I'll be fair. In between bouts of chat the second beastie occasionally kills someone in blood-slurping fashion, people escape from danger, and there’s a big action demonstration scene at the end where Legion demonstrates her powers for the Nazi higher-ups, so it's not all characters sitting around. I did appreciate the familiarity Mr. Nury seems to have with period intelligence procedures. But the characters are quite familiar, and the scenario isn’t very interesting just yet.

Cassaday’s art is good as ever, detailed and realistic. He hits all of the necessary period beats (the uniforms, weapons, décor; all feel authentic) and the action proceeds well. The nitty-gritty approach of Nury’s script fits well with Cassaday’s style, and Laura Martin’s colors are used to good effect, with particularly violent scenes sometimes washed out in pure red, always a safe choice. The book also contains some pieces of uncolored Cassaday art and character sketches as bonuses.

A fair start, if predictable and a little draggy.

The Swift Post of Justice

Mountain of stuff to review.

Big things in real world.

No excuses.

Here is the traler to the new David O. Russell film.

It might be an overextended whimsy pile-up.

But maybe not.

It's all I have now.

Much more later today (Sunday).

Till then.


Full Page Editorial Splash

Steve Ditko’s 32 Page Package #5

Since earlier Ditko packages are 80 and 160 pages, I guess the title is a little misleading since this isn’t the fifth in a line of 32-page books, but the fifth in a series of Ditko collections of varying page-count.

This is the fifth in a series of collections of assorted Ditko work, published by Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko. It was released in May of 2000; the cover and interior is all b&w. The book is magazine-sized. Some of the material was originally printed in various issues of Robin Snyder’s “The Comics” in 1999 and 2000 (for more great info, check out Blake Bell‘s excellent Ditko checklists at his great Ditko site!).

All of the comics collected here are one-page philosophic tidbits, collectively titled “Tsk! Tsk!”. There are no panels and no attempt at sequential narrative here; the whole page is used in graphic illustration of Ditko’s points. Ditko is a precise and symmetrical designer of these pages; often the page is split down the center into mirror-images, with each element on the ’right’ side contrasted with its negative equivalent on the ’wrong’ side. Since A does equal A after all, the wrong side is always clearly identified and thoroughly caricatured. This plays into Ditko’s strengths in drafting simple, direct images. The noble face of the fact-based communicator is attacked by wavy lines, representing the poison influence of rumor and distortion; the face is taken by the lines, like worms digging into his skin and seething against his skull, forcibly twisting his face into a leer of exploitation, a distortionist. His smile reveals not the truth of A but the vagaries of X, Y, and Z, which are not equal values. There are countless images of scales, with facts balanced with facts, and lies shattering the equilibrium.

Ditko’s use of text here reminds me of the lettering of Dave Sim. Words often shake and quiver with their own inherent meanings. A character exclaims “Who!? Me!?”, but the trembling state of the ’Me’ reveals to the reader his spine of pudding. There are a lot of words in this book; some of the pages are positively loaded with text, which often works against Ditko’s points, in my opinion. Ditko’s philosophic stances are much better served by the symmetrical deployment of graphics, either through comparison/contrast setups of right and wrong, or layers of moral fiber, stacked atop each other like a wedding cake. Take one page, dealing with stolen art. The top of the page is split in half between the opposing forces of Plato’s advice to flee from the company of bad men, and the ‘Zerophyte’ rejection of the good. The next layer down illustrates the faces of the enablers: seeing, hearing, and speaking no wrong. And at the bottom are the thieves, cackling over the literal crime of pinched comic pages. This call for moral action is well-served through graphic simplicity; Ditko is skilled enough to illustrate his concerns in an exact and controlled format. But other pages display an overemphasis on text. A row of sentences (“Accepting any part of a poison is the total rejection of a healthy life… Accepting the anti-hero is a rejection of all heroic virtues and values.”) is simply less attractive and less convincing than an illustration of the same, at least in the context of a single-page illustrative essay that often focuses on the necessity of absolutes.

These pages are often connected with issues surrounding Ditko’s experience with working in comics: the two most oft-recurring themes are the theft of original art and the creation of characters. Several pages at the end of the book are devoted to explaining Ditko’s role in the creation of Spider-Man; there is a palpable sense of exasperation at the acceptance of Stan Lee’s claims of credit for the creation of the famous wall-crawler, which goes a long way toward explaining Ditko’s constant ire at the inactive acceptor of unsupported fact, a common thread throughout the book. On one page in particular, Ditko contrasts Lee’s contribution to the Spider-Man creation (a block of text synopsis) with Ditko’s own (an image of Spidey swinging into action). It cleverly points out the necessity of artistic design in character creation, as well as the effectiveness of graphics in breathing life into words, a lesson Ditko himself occasionally loses track of on other pages.

The book isn’t a lavish production, and the material within may not be of instant attraction to fans of Ditko’s fiction-based work (even the more philosophic fictions), but I think there’s a good deal of value here, if only to admire Ditko’s sense of graphic simplicity and page design in perhaps a more refined, direct form. How much of the philosophy the reader accepts is naturally up in the air, but Ditko’s subject matter here is well-suited for graphic presentation, and the artist is often well-equipped to deliver is message in at least a pleasing and logical format.



*Good god what a day. Nothing but hustling here and there for nothing more than the privilege of sitting around for hours. And my legs still ache from yesterday: I was actually involved in a race against time. I had one hour to get a shitload of stuff together and obtain my paycheck before it was too late and I’d have to wait to have it mailed to me despite the fact that I needed the money today. Well I beat the clock, but I literally had to run much of the way. I can’t believe I used to run cross-country in high school. That must have been a different body. Somebody switched bodies on me while I was sleeping just for a laugh. I’ll have to write them a strongly-worded letter if I ever find their address. I bet my old body is being used for some degenerate yet undeniably fun purpose. Perverts. My ankles hurt.

*I did, however, get my copy of Gary Panter’s “Jimbo in Purgatory” and it’s even bigger than I’d thought. Like I knew the dimensions beforehand (17.25 x 12.00 inches!) but I hadn’t really thought to apply those measurements to real life. Little kids can stand the book up and open it and literally hide behind it. The cover is an awesomely gaudy thing, all blood-red and black lines and gleaming gold foil. It’s very well-done though; I loved how black cross-hatching was used to dull some the effect of the gold, leaving the ‘pure’ gold to the woman at the center of the image, whose lines are red (the same red as the rest of the cover) rather than black in order the further accentuate the gold as contrasted with the general red of the surrounding area. Quite an eye-catcher. I have no idea how I’m gonna store this thing. I’ll have to put it on the same stack as my old issues of “Acme Novelty Library”, the really big ones. There are only 33 story pages, each one dated (the work was done from 1997-2000) and densely packed with text and detail. There are ‘footnotes’ at the bottom of each page, but they aren’t numbered; it’s more of a list of the works consulted in the creation of each page, with no explanation as to how they were used. There’s also a bonus page devoted to thirty-three of Panter’s favorite vinyl LPs. I’ll try to have a review up soon, but this one’s gonna take a while to devour.

*You like Ralph Bakshi. C’mon, sure you do! You know deep in your heart that the later episodes of the 60’s “Spider-Man” cartoon were the best ones, especially the cut-up ones, pasted together from older episodes into a new semi-narrative, with strident dubbing and dialogue lathered on top to keep it moving. The earlier episodes, those were cheesy fun, and a bit more faithful to the contemporary status-quo of the comics, but those later ones were sublime in their desperation. It’s so rickety and energetic. Sure Bakshi’s feature films weren’t all winners. But “Heavy Traffic” and “Coonskin” were genuinely adventurous experiments in semi-autobiographical, sometimes improvised cartoon moviemaking. Too bad “Heavy Traffic” is only out in a cropped, edited dvd with few extras, and “Coonskin” is still VHS-only (unless there’s a laserdisc I don’t know of).

Anyway, in case you didn’t know, the final entry in Bakshi’s ’fantasy trilogy’ is coming soon to dvd: “Fire and Ice”. Co-written with comics stalwarts Gary Conway and Roy Thomas, and co-produced with Frank Frazetta, “Fire and Ice” came out in 1982, after a little break from fantasy filmmaking. The scattershot “Wizards” (1977) had led right into Bakshi‘s ill-fated production of about half of “The Lord of the Rings” (1978), which saw Bakshi’s style leaning more and more toward a rotoscoping-fueled ‘realistic’ animation style. His next film, “American Pop” (1981), featured an almost exclusively rotoscoped character animation style. Bakshi also completed work on “Hey Good Lookin’” (1982), which I think began production before “Wizards”, but remained unfinished for years. “Fire and Ice” reflects a further refinement of Bakshi’s realist style, only reunited with fantasy elements; it‘s smoother than “The Lord of the Rings“, in that there‘s no heavily tinted live-action footage of people in monster costumes.

The disc is coming from Blue Underground (web site may not be work-safe), which is very interesting news. They specialize in obscure horror and exploitation films, with a particular taste for European gore and sex. They’ve been branching out lately though, with a special edition of David Cronenberg’s early drag-racing film “Fast Company”, and they’re prepping a box set of work by British director Alan Clarke. There’s no set release date for “Fire and Ice”, but it’s sure to be a fun release.

*If you haven't yet, you ought to read Jason's "You Can't Get There From Here". Ken recently enjoyed it. Dave Intermittent sure liked it. You know I'd steer you toward it. You'll be amused and moved and you'll marvel at Jason's near-invisible yet total command of the page. Give it a shot.

*I can’t even twist these ankles. Man. That’s enough for now; more comical reviews tomorrow.

*And Sean, good luck and we'll see you again soon!



Robocop: Killing Machine: Ha ha ha ha haaaaaa, oh silly me. You see, back when I quoted from Avatar’s webpage regarding this book, I accidently left a little pertinent language out. The full quote was: “This full color one shot book contains an all-new Robocop story as well as sneak-peak at the next upcoming Robocop epic!” This accidently led me to believe that there would be a short story and a preview of upcoming Robocop adventures, so I only quoted the part regarding the 'sneak-peak' of future stuff. But what the quote really meant was that the short story was the preview of the next Robocop tome! So what we have here is a 10-page comic story and a bunch of ads for $2.99, which is $1 and 12 story pages less than the last proper issue of Robocop.

The story itself is decent fun. Steven Grant is no longer adapting a Frank Miller screenplay here; he’s the sole writer. Anderson Ricardo does the art. He’s got a much more simple, smooth style than regular artist Juan Jose Ryp (both a benefit clarity-wise and a detriment in terms of tone), and he’s good with action, save for a single panel where it seems that Murphy has vanished inside an attacking robot, when (given his height) he ought to be sticking out the other side. But that’s not a big deal. Neither is the story, but it functions ok as a quick shot of action, as Robocop deals with traffic problems and fights a hacker who’s taken control of a prototype urban pacification robot, and all of this will likely be elaborated upon in the next Robocop series (although there‘s still three issues to go in the current one). Whether all of this is worth three bucks is up to you.

As an aside, there are five different covers (this being an Avatar book). I picked the standard-issue Ryp flavor (which can be glimpsed in the above Avatar link); the artist depicts Officer Lewis standing battered but proud, determined to bring crime to its knees despite her shirt having given its life for justice. Her thong strap is also present to offer moral support. In the actual comic, she never so much as removes her helmet. I guess life is just tougher when you're living on the cover...

Astro City Special: I went into some comments about the previous “Astro City” miniseries a few posts ago; I particularly liked the second issue, an exploration of a certain Silver-Age “Superman” plot device, and the emotional toll it must have exacted on the cast of those stories (had those stories taken place in a semi-realistic emotional environment, of course). This story, which was intended as the final issue of that prior miniseries, acts as something of a companion piece. That’s a good thing: Kurt Busiek seems to be stronger at analyzing specific superhero tropes in the context of an character-driven action tale. Some of his less-focused recent stories, dealing with living in a superhero environment in a more general sense, have descended into mawkishness.

The plot here is simple and tight. A big robot is smashing a whole lot of stuff, and all of the superheroes in town are away on more immediately compelling missions. Aged speedster Supersonic is urged to return to action by an old friend, who can still remember the glory days of costumed adventure. Supersonic was not just a great hero in his youth after all; he was a stylish champion. Why just punch a bunch of villains when you could split into multiple forms, travel through time, pervert the laws of physics, and otherwise fight crime the Rube Goldberg way? But while Supersonic looked cool, maybe there was another motive behind his roundabout way of kicking ass. And maybe he’s too damn old to kick any ass anymore.

Busiek is less critical of Silver-Age tropes than before, grounding fanciful action in some downright utilitarian concerns. He does suggest maybe a rest would be good for venerable characters, who can’t function as well now as they used to, even if their biggest fans have convinced themselves otherwise, and even if there's still some merit to their procedures. The story is slightly longer than usual, although it doesn’t feel unnecessarily stretched out, like the last miniseries’ concluding two-parter. Double and single-page splashes are effectively deployed, giving Brent Anderson plenty of room for dramatic vistas and Big Action shots. It’s definitely one of the stronger recent entries in this series.

The Goon #8: Nothing really could have lived up to the first two pages of this issue, in which writer-artist Eric Powell positively soaks in the joy of his perverse monster-mash being nominated for four Eisners (and winning one). There’s pooping and heads being shot off and spoofery and everything! But the main story would have felt disappointing even left alone between the covers. A bunch of self-deluded frilly modern vampires revive a sad, cursed spirit of a young woman: she’s a vampire too, but she doesn’t suck blood. She extracts life through contagion, hoping to relieve her loneliness. It’s a more staid, moody story than usual, and Powell can’t quite sustain it. It’s not even a big a departure for the book, which makes it even more a downer. My favorite issue thus far, number 5, was stocked to exploding with monsters and hitting and laffs, but there was a distinct core of sadness to the affair, a very big existential hangover to follow the binge of brain splattering of the prior night. It didn’t feel tacked on, or forced; it felt like a natural reaction.

This issue, however, overloads on dejection by the end, with our succubus antagonist spitting out awkward and depressed musings like “I have never encountered such a soul that suffers as this one does - unless perhaps my own. On his back lay the unjust sorrows of a life heaped in calamity. Take my pity my love.” Gah. It’s a little too thick. Even stuffy. Powell can handle dramatic material with this book; he’s shown it before. He mishandles it here. His art is always excellent though, especially his images of plague-ridden characters, who retain their cartoony blank-eyed figures even while wasting away. The visual is funny but oddly disturbing, a vibe I’d have rather felt more of in the story.

Ex Machina #3: An entertaining issue, despite the fact that very little happens to advance the overall plot. Mayor Hundred is still trying to deal with last issue’s PR situation, parts of his past are still being revealed, and the mystery killer is still running around. Hundred is aware of the killings now (there’s a fun twist on the old superhero/police commissioner relationship), and it’s making him very disturbed. Anchoring the issue is a positively wonderful dream sequence in which Hundred flashes back to what might turn out to be a rather cliché childhood trauma, only loaded with (subconscious?) sexualization, and culminating with the good mayor being taunted by menacing household appliances, including a toaster that delivers one of the Best Lines In Comics, 2004:

Light. Medium. Dark. Racist.

A fucking toaster just called the Mayor of New York City a racist. That’s awesome enough, but evil lamps and blenders are also circling his head, with a nearby laptop exclaiming :“VILLAIN VILLAIN VILLAIN.” And you know what? This is exactly what the book needs! I honestly loved this sequence, because the ability to talk to electrical objects is a pretty silly power to have, so why not be silly with it?! Why not indulge in some high camp? It was great.

The remainder of the book hints at bringing in yet another classic superhero motif, which I won’t spoil. The dialogue remains witty, and the plotting is beginning to feel more confident in its cleverness and less contrived. But most importantly, the book is beginning to feel a lot more fun, even a little reckless, which might come in handy if the book does indeed plunge into more typical superhero examination.

Terra Obscura Vol. 2 #1 (of 6): All set-up for the second series. The book mostly focuses on Tom Strange, the alternate, other side of the galaxy Tom Strong, who has curiously begun a relationship with his world’s equivalent of Strong’s wife. There might be a good story to come out of that, but Peter Hogan’s script (with co-plotting by Alan Moore) doesn’t seem interested just yet. Instead we have time disruptions galore and a mystery in space. A few of the leads from the last series also pop up for some soapy operatics, and there’s a funny minor villain called The Clock. Yanick Paquette and Karl Story also return, on pencils and inks respectively. There’s just not much to say. It was amusing, and nothing went wrong, but who knows where it’s going?

*Oh, and I also got "The Comics Journal" #262 and holy shit it looks big. I mean really thick and heavy with zones of slick pages and lots of comics. It'll take me six weeks just to read it...

And finally, some words of enlightenment for all of you undersea documentary filmmakers who are planning to embark on a quest to destroy the rare shark who killed your best friend:

"What would be the scientific purpose in killing it?"




Following in Footsteps is Fine Fun

UPDATE: The Onion AV Club is presenting a collection of Messages to the Children of the World as given by recent interview subjects. Among the contributions are stirring words to live by from comics personalities Frank Miller, Harvey Pekar, and Dave Sim. Now that's one to grow on. Also check out their review of Jeff Smith's "Bone" one-volume collection.

*Hey, there’s all kinds of solicitations out. Everyone else has already covered them really good, but there are a few things I should point out:

1. Jae Lee deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor for Excellence in Subtle Phallic Imagery for his efforts in creating the cover of “Manhunter” issue #4. I think it was the cigarette that finally tipped me off.

2. Also, I just know I’m gonna wind up getting “Hulk and Thing: Hard Knocks”.



I’m such a stupid fool for Jae Lee. Just between you and me, I almost got those “Captain America” issues just for his art. And sometimes I look through the trades, and goddamn it looks good. The art looks good that is; I’ve heard things about the script, with dangerous acronyms like ’MST3K’ thrown around. I’ve never read a Bruce Jones book though, so maybe it'll turn out ok on that front as well.

3. Hell, might as well get roped into the new “Black Widow” mini too. Billy the Sink, laid out by goran parlov, who may or may not have accidentally lost his capitalization. I’m also not familiar with science fiction writer Richard K. Morgan, who‘s scripting, but Marvel assures me that he’s a mega-watt star, and if you can‘t trust Marvel‘s solicitations, well...

4.Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales” is ending with issue #12. As far as Alan Moore’s contribution goes, the last handful of issues have basically been excuses to play around with a bunch of noted artists (probably people Moore always wanted to collaborate with), but it's been pretty entertaining. Peter Bagge does the honors for the last installment, although he and Moore have worked together before: Moore wrote a short story for the final issue of Bagge’s seminal “Hate” (that’s issue #30). I’m personally looking forward to the grand finale of Young Tom Strong, because I’m absolutely convinced that the whole saga has been leading up to something big. I will be very sad if it’s just Tom getting on a boat or something and going “Well. I am a man. Off to the city.” The regular “Tom Strong” book still has at least six issues left, judging from the creative teams they’ve got lined up. Of course, the whole thing might be finished by the time “Promethea” #32 is out (#31 is next week: WOO!)

5. At WizardWorld, Joe Quesada mentioned that his involvement with “NYX” might be over after issue #7 due to his hectic schedule. And what do you know: “NYX” #7 is the last issue according to those Marvel Solicitations! Issue #5 still isn’t out, and it’s now freshly delayed until mid-September (link found at Thought Balloons). I bought issue #1 back in October of 2003 when it first came out. Josh Middleton’s art was really nice, one of the best anime synthesis styles I’ve seen (and it does resemble animation cells more so than comic panels, hence my reluctance to call it a ’manga’ style). But I just couldn’t get past the script. It was loaded with forced ’witty’ dialogue that couldn’t have possibly sounded more like a middle-aged guy trying to approximate clever kid speak, coupled with all the usual mutant/superpower cliches, including the classic ‘witnessing of the parent‘s death‘ and the beloved ‘how to control these powers?’… it is nice to know that it’s now ten months later and I’d only have to pay $9 to catch myself up, if I so desired.

*It’s happened again. I spent so much time going for quick, cheap, dirty laughs this weekend that I missed out on the real news to come out of WizardWorld. I am forever shamed to have delayed in presenting you word of the revival of “What If…

So long as I live, my fond memories of “What If…” will never leave me. So many awesome possibilities. Do you remember:

What If The Punisher Killed Spider-Man?

What If Doctor Doom Became Sorcerer Supreme?"

What If Captain Marvel Had Not Died?

What If Peter Parker’s Parents Destroyed His Family?

What If Minion Had Not Killed Death’s Head I?

What If The Punisher Became Captain America and Traveled Back in Time to Invent the Printing Press?

What If Stryfe Turned Into a Hungry Pony and Ate All the Apples in Cable’s Orchard?"

What If Quasar was a Ham Sandwich?

What If Ghost Rider’s Head was Normal and His Body was On Fire and Someone Turned On the Hose?

What if Dogs Could Speak English?

What if Wolverine and Sue Storm Fell in Love on a Planet Where Lips Were Only a Myth?

What If John C. Holmes Was the Herald of Galactus?

And other great stories.

But if nothing else, “What If…” at least stuck around long enough to serve as an easy-to-scan primer on the trends and prominent arcs in Marvel Comics throughout a long period, particularly those salad years of the early 90’s. Just looking at the covers tells you quite a lot about the atmosphere in which it was printed. For example, there was a time when somebody clearly thought that there was a clamoring of interest in what would have happened if Minion had not killed Death’s Head I. Now I don’t fucking know who any of these characters are, but in 1993 enough people presumably did to warrant this story being published. Similarly, “What If…” serves as a memorial for long-forgotten ’landmark’ stories. Like the whole deal with Spider-Man’s evil parents that the Chameleon set up to make Spider-Man more grim and gritty and stuff. I can barely recall the details of the story, but the very essence of it is housed in its “What If…” alternate world, and broadcasted by its cover. It‘s a strange time capsule, capturing its era by re-presenting its stories in boiled-down form as processed through the viewpoint of an alternate take: an accidental abridged record.

Maybe I’d get the same result by just scanning the covers of various titles from the era. There’s more than one way to spark nostalgia. But “What If…” is like a concentrated record of Marvel fad and landmark and fame, sometimes fleeting and sometimes lasting. I don’t even know if I’d like the stories themselves, but I sort of like that it exists. And if Marvel wants to collect some of today’s Great Moments, well good for them.


What? Coverage of Comic Books?! MADNESS!

This Week In Comics!

The Goon #8: Ah, nothing like an ongoing series where I actually look forward to each upcoming issue without the blinders of formal ‘arcs’ to guide my vision. I’m still enjoying “The Punisher” for example, but I’m thinking “Well, two more left in this arc, let’s see if Garth can keep it moving.” None of that here. Each issue of “The Goon” is a self-contained story, although the accumulated tales fit together into a wider chronology. I’ve enjoyed the last seven issues enough to count on enjoying this one. There’s expectations, naturally: I know the title character will beat the piss out of something, I know there’ll be laffs, and I know Eric Powell’s art will bear a lush and refined cartoon sensibility. And even with such constants, these elements of formula, I never really know what to expect from this book on an issue-by-issue basis. That’s good. This issue will have vampires. That’s also good. According to this preview, it will be funny, with jokes about poop and punching four year-old children. This title won an Eisner. That makes me happy. Buy this comic. You will be happy too.

Astro City Special: For those of you filling in the relevant blocks on your scorecards, this was supposed to be the fifth and final story in the recent “Local Heroes” miniseries, but then Kurt Busiek decided to stretch the fourth story into a two-parter. I agree that the story would’ve felt compressed as one issue, but it didn’t quite fill two either; it felt padded with unnecessary running and dreams and stuff. It also had the sort of mystery that’s so easy to figure out that you start to doubt that it’s even intended to be a mystery but there doesn’t seem to be much other reason for it so you just feel ambivalent about it. This story is also longer than average, at forty pages. I’m keeping myself optimistic. I recall the first two issues of “Local Heroes” being pretty good, especially the second one which felt like a slightly darker take on an Alan Moore “Supreme” story; it had the same sort of vibe in its exploration of the Superman archetype, but it focused more on the inherent cruelty behind certain Silver Age tropes. The third issue, unfortunately, was pretty bad. Just a thudding bore about a ’hip’ city girl who, like, learns to respect the country folk and stuff, and also decides that revealing a superhero’s secret identity to an obviously evil corporation for reward money is not a good idea. Whoops! Hope I didn’t ruin the nail-biting suspense! She also experiences her epiphany while watching said (adult) hero hooking up with her seventeen year-old cousin in the barn, which is usually the lead-in to a nice healthy porno scene, but I guess DC’s saving it for a Director’s Cut further down the line, since that’s the sort of thing they’re always forcing poor Marvel into trying. Wait… now I’m off-topic.

Deicide Vol. 1: Ah, this is a Humanoids trade release by Carlos Portela and Das Pastoras. I liked their stuff in “Metal Hurlant”. Pastoras’ art has a strong Corben influence, though a bit smoother. The story involves a bunch of crazy giant animal gods and the man who defies them. Looks like fun. Can’t afford it right now.

I Am Legion Vol. 1 - The Dancing Fawn: Another Humanoids book, but this time it’s a $7 prestige format release at 64-pages. “Planetary” and “Astonishing X-Men” artist John Cassaday handles the visuals here, and also adapted the story to comics: it was based on a screenplay by Fabien Nury. It’s sure to look good, and the story involves supernatural action in WWII… I might get it.

Terra Obscura Vol. 2 #1 (of 6): The first “Terra Obscura” series (spun off from a storyline in Alan Moore’s “Tom Strong”, co-written by Peter Hogan, and now out in trade form) doesn’t seem to be too popular around these here Internet parts. I rather enjoyed it up until the aimless talkathon ending. The book was basically a massive company-wide crossover extravaganza, for a line of comics that don’t actually exist and a bunch of heroes we’re unfamiliar with. But all the 'big crossover' elements are present, like hero-on-hero clashes and enigmatic appearances by fringe heroes who serve that one key purpose and the Big Danger that unites the whole cast and minor roles by assorted arch-villains and little nods to individual continuities. Really. Compare “Terra Obscura” to whatever crossover event you want, and I think you’ll find a lot of similarities. Except with “Terra Obscura”, there are no individual continuities to follow: we build the continuities ourselves as based on the evidence we’re given. It was kinda fun, if a little dizzying. Until the ending. I have no idea what this new series will bring, but I’m checking it out.

Ex Machina #3: Like I said before, there’s some nagging problems with this book so far. Mild contrivances that distract me. I’m still on, since the premise is interesting and there‘s lots of hope for the future.

Demo #9 (of 12): The Internet likes this one. I’ll try it someday.

Robocop Killing Machine Special: This is a one-shot/preview from Avatar. The story is all Steven Grant this time, and the art is by Anderson Ricardo rather than Juan Jose Ryp. Still in color though. Oh, and the story’s only ten pages, according to Grant‘s column at Comic Book Resources (look at the bottom). The rest of the book will be a “sneak-peak [sic] at the next upcoming Robocop epic!” But… but the current Robocop epic is only two-thirds done! We’ll have to see.

The Comics Journal #262: I’m in for the new format. Looks real good.

Boy, that’s a lot of stuff.

WizardWorld Comics Transfiguration: The Final Chapter

As you may have heard, Brian Michael Bendis has apologized for revolutionizing the world.

Such remorseful statements cannot bode well for the chances of reviving my beloved "Alf/Black Panther" sequential opus. If only there was another way. If only there was an original solution to this…

Of course! Original characters! That’s the key! It’s not Alf in my proposal, it’s… it’s… Fla! Short for Form of Living Alien! And he eats cats not because he’s a hungry creature from Melmac, but because… because… HE BECAME ADDICTED TO CATS IN VIETNAM! YES. And that’s why he fights the Brown Leopard! Are leopards brown? IT DOESN’T MATTER.

Because anything is possible in comics.

The End.

Thank You For Playing.

Winners Don’t Do Drugs.

Presented by Capcom.

The Real World is a Cruel Beast:

*And thus my gap-laden Nick Bertozzi overview will have to wait for sometime later on Monday. However, we can immediately indulge in:


Ex Machina #1-2, and Steed and Mrs. Peel, Book 1 (the latter being a lesser-known Grant Morrison work, with art by Ian Gibson!)

Tiempos Finales (End Times) Vol. 1 (of 9) by Samuel Hiti (Xeric-winning Godly monster bash)

Krazy and Ignatz: Daily Strips 1/1/1921-12/31/1921

The Punisher MAX #10

Read them and press them close to your heart.

*It's not just criticism, it's sociology! Paul O'Brian explores the four (formerly five) types of Rob Liefeld fans in his review of the all-new, all-familiar "X-Force Vol. 2" issue #1. More than one review I've seen has characterized the book as 'critic-proof', and Paul has the reasons behind the notion.

*The most interesting news out of The Recent Chicago Nerd Event thus far: the possibility of a "Grant Morrison Omnibus", collecting "Kill Your Boyfriend" and other assorted works. And "Seaguy" is already set for a trade collection.

*Warren Ellis is blogging from the set of the upcoming "Global Frequency" television program.

And that's all I have. See you later today!


The Internet is On Fire With Great Ideas and Nobody is Calling the Hose Company.

Today is a day of liberation for the comics Internet! It is only one day after Brian Michael Bendis called down lightning from the heavens to strike open the dam that was suppressing the true desires of each and every fan, and already the cries of greatful succor report from once-arid fields of wheat and corn and grain and comic book pitches. Behold:

Power Man/Iron Fist/Blue Beetle/Booster Gold

Dracula/John Constantine/Archie

Jimmy Corrigan/Jim Corrigan

Mickey Mouse/Frank

As we all can see, the industry will soon be healed of its every ailment and disability. I have already forwarded pertinent documents to Vatican City as evidence of a miracle. All we must do now is raise our rings to the sky and let our powers combine to form Captain The Books That The Fans Demand. Then I guess he’ll get Joe Quesada to resign or something. And he'll stop pollution.


Ok, seriously, you need to see this:

It's a short 3d animated film based on Jim Woodring's "Frank", directed by Taruto Fuyama. Maybe a tad slow, but very well designed. Check it out!!! (found on the TCJ Board)

The Punisher MAX #10

I agree with most of what Brian Hibbs had to say about this issue. It really is just a bunch of awful people doing awful things, and then Frank gets pointed in their direction and they die. Garth Ennis, however, is quite good at doing these simple things: the loathsome folks are effectively evil (the ‘game’ Maginty plays with little Billy made me want to wash my hands) and Frank has enough obstacles put in his way to at least sort of sustain the story for multiple issues. This one feels less padded than last issue, although Garth is really starting to wear himself thin with all the characters: there’s about five major villains now, not counting the sinister special forces people who’ve hooked up with Frank. The evil River Rat lady and the evil Gang Boss’ Wife have virtually nothing to distinguish them personality-wise, and the others are notable mainly by way of their physical ugliness. I will say that there’s still some funny bits in the book, even if it’s not as much a proper comedy anymore (“You think there’s any chance he’s still alive?” “Well, if he is, he’s hoppin’ everywhere an’ sittin’ down to piss.”)

Frank and his English pals have a young Irish fellow locked in the torture/exposition chamber, where he fills in all the background details that Garth has withheld. The underlying scheme doesn’t seem to make much sense: some of the players want to kill all the others and shake down a lawyer for some vital information, while others think they can get the same information by extorting/killing some of the other players themselves. If a lawyer really does have all the necessary info, I don’t know why all of the gangs don’t just go after him. Then again, most of the characters here aren’t terribly bright (intentionally). And it’s suggested (by Frank no less) that the whole game is just an excuse to get everyone killed. I’m siding with the title character on this one.

Man, there’s still two issues of this left? It looks like we're pretty close to the end. It's been a padded storyline, but I'm still enjoying it on some hazy level.

Nothing Much Else Today.

Oh, and I picked up issue #1 of the new “Challengers of the Unknown” and I fucking loved it. What did I get instead of this the week it came out? “Scratch”? Ugggggh. I’m getting the other two issues on Wednesday, and I’ll review the whole thing then. Man… I understand that the characters very well might rub some readers the wrong way, and the satire (thus far) is broad as a fucking barn door, but I think some interesting things can be done in the sledgehammer style of social critique. And Chaykin’s storytelling is really tight, with scene-shifts rolling almost page-by-page but laid out with mathematical precision. Nice playful repetition of captions and layouts. The Matrix outfits were a bit much. But it was fun stuff.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss comics by Nick Bertozzi.


A new trail is blazed on the new frontier!

Always on the cutting edge of comics innovation, Brian Michael Bendis has nonetheless outdone himself today. Oh yes, an Internet warrior-king like yourself has surely read the news already:

Announcing Vetoed Projects is the New Announcing Upcoming Projects!

This represents an amazing paradigm shift for our industry, one that hasn’t arrived a moment too soon for this bitter scribe. Back in the 1980’s, when Marvel and their Star Comics line rejected my “Alf vs. Black Panther” crossover proposal, all I wanted to do was share my problems with the fans at a panel. I mean, it was just a great idea! It’d be stuff that actually affects the books! Come on: ALF EATS CATS! That’s instant conflict right there, and it’d be a really fun story.

But that story was cruelly kept away from the people who were clamoring for it. Each night I’d stick my head out of my bedroom window and listen to the people seething from their lack of Alf/Panther conflict. A revolution was brewing, and Alf was the only safety valve, and the Black Panther was the only hand that could release the valve because it was on really tight, and the Black Panther is strong.

But you know what? It wasn’t really about my not getting to write the project I wanted. No no. That’s not why I wanted to bring my case to the red-blooded working-class Joe and Jane six-pack starry-eyed fan on the street. No sir.

It was about fences.

Fences that need to be mended in our industry or else the industry chickens will all get away and the local industry children will get on to our industry property and steal my industry blueberry pie as it cools on the industry windowsill while I take my industry nap.

We all wanted to see Alf fight the Black Panther back then. We would have been into it in a big way. And we could have made it happen, because Alf is absolutely not a licensed character. He is ours. So is the Black Panther. All of his prior adventures were our adventures, people, especially the time he teamed up with the Avengers to battle Klaw. Today if we want Alf to guest-star on television’s ’24’ , well we damn sure ought to see it, because logically they kind of have to say yes to our demands as well. Hell, throw in the kids from “South Park” too. Because Cartman is our character. So's whatever the name of the character Kiefer Sutherland plays is. He’s ours too.

We couldn’t do it then. I was too damn weak.

But we can now.

God bless you, comics.


Oh wow. Just wow. Look at this. It's called 'Watchmen Funnies'. Yow.

Friday: Day of Fri

*No clue what that meant.

*The Comics Journal has updated its main page, listing the contents of its upcoming issue, the first in its new format. Highlights for me:

First things first: a 36-page Alex Toth comics section, reprinting lots of 1950’s material in color.

Plus: “Goodman Goes Playboy” by Kurtzman and Elder!

There’s also an interview with Toth.

And a chat with political cartoonist/journalist/filmmaker Steve Brodner.

Steven Grant is doing a commentary piece.

Eddie Campbell (an excellent critic) reviews “Blooming Books” (I’m guessing this is the 2003 overview of Raymond Briggs’ career)

Tom Spurgeon covers lots of stuff, like “Usagi Yojimbo”, “Smax”, “Demo”, and “Planet of the Capes”.

And hey kids, new Gary Groth editorial! It’ll put hair on yer chests!

There’s also a link to part one of Dirk Deppey’s “X-Men… Retreat!” article, which presumably will discuss the problems of the current X-books and how they’re indicative of Marvel’s current creative policies at some point in the future, since part one is devoted to discussing Marvel policy from the 1990’s up to the end of the Jemas era. It’s a nice refresher, and it’d make a good overview for someone unfamiliar with Marvel, but it’s a lot of stuff that I (and I suspect many readers) already know quite well. Much more entertaining are Deppey's detailed web-only reviews of quite a few early X-Man: Reload titles, including "Excalibur" #1-2:

"As established above, I'm not exactly Chris Claremont's biggest fan, but even so I can't help but wonder if he didn't get the Marvel writer's version of latrine duty on this one. It certainly smells like latrine duty... I have now become completely demoralized. Everyone involved with this shambling mound of a story deserves eyeball acne. The kind with lots of pus."

Read them all.

*The Olympics start today. They’re in Greece, so that means that everyone will be naked, right? That’ll be nice, although I bet NBC will slap some CGI clothes on everybody; is there an all-naked Olympics pay-per-view? That’d be worth a party. I think the last mostly-naked cultural pay-per-view event was Woodstock III. From what I’ve been told it was like “Animal Instincts 4: The Rock Opera”, with the concert itself lit aflame in the end rather than only the characters’ passions.

Wow, Bjork is opening? That’s pretty cool (new album “Medulla” out Aug. 31 – no instruments, all vocals). I wonder how the Olympic television audience will take it, though? I remember several people in the room with me loudly expressing their disapproval when she performed at the Oscars for that Lars von Trier movie, and I don’t think it was Lars’ lyrics that disturbed them. Bjork just doesn’t really sound like anyone else; I love it. It’s like an ice pick to the brain, but in a good way.

Shit. It’s at 8:00 tonight? I’ll have to put a tape in or something. I think there’s some sort of technological advancement known as TiVo that could make the process easier, but it’ll probably be cheaper to hire people to enter my apartment and hit ‘record’ at the right time. I hope they don’t steal my liquor.