Or was it Kree Kill Krew?

*First things first - Stephen R. Bissette recently provided some fine Werner Herzog-related linking. What with all the car crashes and shootings going on, who wouldn’t want a peek into Herzog’s secret diaries?

Dear Diary: My girlfriend calls and asks me to a coffee. Her first name is Thea. I do not know her last name. She does not arrive. The gentleman in the shop puts cream in the coffee even when I say, I do not want the cream. I order a sandwich and they give me a chocolate. This is beautiful to me, this chaos in the Starbucks. All is well.”

Much more right here; it tastes great, and is great for you.

*You don’t need me to tell you that Craig Yoe’s new (and NOT SAFE FOR WORK) Arf Lovers blog is awesome - I bet you’ve heard already. Yoe is busy prepping Arf Museum, the second of his Fantagraphics-published books on the crossroads between comics and ‘fine’ art (the first was 2005’s Modern Arf), but there’s a ton of great stuff up on his site right now, including extensive previews of both Arf books and lots of vintage visuals and tasty treats. God, that Charles Bennett stuff…

*Scenes From Real Life Dept: Right down the street from my building, there’s this closed-down store available for rent. I don’t know what the place used to sell, or who has access to it, but the window display is still perfectly open and visible. Currently, it features two mannequins posed in an parlor environment, with chairs and a table set around. One of the dummies is clad in full cowboy gear, hat and chaps and vest and everything, and is seated in a comfortable manner. He is gazing intently at the other, somewhat anatomically correct mannequin, who is standing upright wearing nothing at all but a cowboy hat.

I am unsure as to the purpose of this display; I guess it’s some kind of prank, or maybe a creative means of attracting leasers, or perhaps a test to see if anybody is actually looking into the building anymore. I know I barely noticed it at first while walking home from the coffee shop - I did a fine double-take though, one that would have made Maxwell Smart proud. Maybe I was being filmed. I hope the hidden cameras captured the fascination in my eyes as I tried to read the face of the seated cowboy; from the lump of plastic positioned to suggest the standing hombre’s manhood, one standing out in the street primarily gets the impression that he’s unspectacularly endowed, and I couldn’t decide if the seated party was gazing in subtle disappointment or scrupulous bemusement.

*It had to happen, what with the man’s productivity ever on the rise - finally, this May, buckle up and prepare to surrender your $16.99 for the one, the only, the collected Skrull Kill Krew. Five-issue series, co-written by Grant Morrison in his first work for Marvel in the US, with art from frequent collaborator Steve Yeowell; I’m sure co-writer Mark Millar will bring his fan base along too (or at least the bits that don’t already overlap with Morrison’s). It’s not Morrison’s best - actually, it’s pretty much his worst as far as I’ve read, a hopelessly compromised exercise in muddy satire and half-realized mayhem, bereft of even the misguided ambition that marks the likes of Arkham Asylum. Even the title had to be watered down from the intended Skrull Kill Kult. I’ve always seen Morrison’s solo-written Marvel Boy as a vastly more successful spin on the same superhero stance, philosophically iconoclastic and prone to tweaking the old House of Ideas standards. And certainly the Morrison/Millar team has done better, what with a decent run on The Flash and the highly-regarded Aztek: The Ultimate Man, which I’ve only managed to read bits and pieces of. And hasn’t a trade of their Vampirella run been promised for years now?

I’ll cop to mostly wishing that a nice collection for The New Adventures of Hitler or Bible John might pop out of this ongoing wave of Morrison visibility. I know Fantagraphics put out the US release of Dare in pamphlet format (as part of their Monster Comics line) years back - maybe they’d care to step up to the plate?

X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #2 (of 5)

Definitely holding up nicely, as we move into the obligatory ‘gathering of the heroes’ sequence in this revival miniseries for the Peter Milligan/Mike Allred mutant thing; Nick Dragotta has been added to the creative mix as co-artist (Marvel’s credits decline to impose on Dragotta and Allred any compartmentalized position such as ‘pencils’ or ‘inks’), and the visuals thus seem a bit more detailed and prone to grotesque little flourishes - as I’ve said before, this actually manages to hearken back to an earlier day in Allred’s own career rather than give one the notion of a wholly new style. There’s also some good sight gags, like the reanimated title heroine’s hot dog fingers, or Doctor Strange ordering a glass of wine in the middle of a grimy dive bar, or Mysterio wearing his life sigil thing in the center of his big bubble helmet; I don’t even know why I find that last one funny, or why I so enjoy Tike’s stylized dot eyes, standing in contrast with everyone else’s piercing orbs, but I do.

It’s probably just the general air of merriment about the series, the sort of book in which Gwen Stacy and various deceased heroines and supporting characters spend their eternal reward attempting to read Ulysses, with a personal touch from James Joyce himself (I was instantly reminded of a comment made at this very site by Richard Baez last December, remarking that the original title would have covered Joyce given ten more issues - well Richard, turns out it was only two). Ah, but this is X-Statix, so there’s nastiness too - apparently, Heaven (or its non-denominational equivalent) is a place where you can easily go mad from the sheer monotony of endless relaxation, or at least become determined to escape back to the living, as has happened with our Tike, resulting in incarceration in the Lower Depths. That’s how it goes in this book, horrid visions of race hate coexisting with jokes about what a shitty protagonist Doctor Strange tends to make.

Nevertheless, the good Doctor is in charge, enlisting the very dead and girlish Dead Girl in rounding up a posse of passed-on characters (ranging from Ant-Man to the Phantom Rider) to hunt down the Pitiful One and his fleet of wrongfully revived villains (and Tike); as a bargaining chip, Strange twice brandishes something fairly useful - the secret formula to getting yourself brought back into living continuity in the Marvel superhero universe, something that the reader is jokingly denied every time, as the scene transitions away before the Doctor can reveal the details. This handily explains the Doctor’s metaphysical (and metafictional) ennui of last issue - who wouldn’t buckle under the strain of such knowledge?! Dead Girl remarks that only the most popular characters seem to escape rightfully back to the realm of the living, and that’s certainly something, though I hope Milligan explores the nature of pure superhero taboo as well - Gwen Stacy has a movie coming out soon, but you don’t see her walking around, since she’s untouchable.

In a way, Milligan is trading off on the sheer kick of seeing certain still-familiar characters walking around; note that Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio don’t ever do anything specific to their characters, because it’s enough to simply see them. This type of shorthand is amusing, though I found myself hungering for something a little more, since we’re already going this far. There’s still three more issues though, and it’s easy to get excited over where things might be going - X-Statix had run out of gas by the end of its life as an ongoing (really, it never recovered from the Princess Di fiasco), but the ensuing rest and expansion of scope has seemed to refresh it. If only all nostalgia could be prompted by strong works in the present.