Because you (I) demanded it!

*This week’s column focuses on Michael Tierney’s 2002-03 series Wild Stars, although it’s not a review - it’s really about what the book represents to me as an obsessive bargain bin diver. For example, you’ll notice that I quite specifically omit any explicit reference to what the book is actually about, so as to focus attention onto what the project might represent beyond the concerns of content. Give it a look, see what you think.

*Public Service Dept: This will eventually resurface as part of a longer, comprehensive Yoshihiro Tatsumi in English piece I’m doing, for release sometime in the next week or so, but I’ve been seeing a few people asking around for something like this, so I’ll post it early:

A Short Tatsumi-In-English Bibliography

Stories appearing in both Good-Bye and Other Stories (1987, Catalan Communications) and The Push Man and Other Stories (2005, Drawn and Quarterly) - unique titles provided for each

The Telescope (Cat.) / Telescope (D&Q)

The Pimp (Cat.) / Pimp (D&Q)

The Sewers (Cat.) / Sewer (D&Q)

Progress is Wonderful! (Cat.) / Test Tube (D&Q)

Unwanted (Cat.) / The Burden (D&Q)

Stories exclusive to Good-Bye and Other Stories

Just a Man

Life is So Sad!

Just Passing Through


Stories exclusive to The Push Man and Other Stories



Black Smoke

The Push Man

The Killer

Traffic Accident



Who Are You?


My Hitler

(And just for the sake of completion, note that there’s an additional Tatsumi story in Drawn and Quarterly Vol. 5 that doesn’t appear in either of the above books)

Gosh. I hope the list won't remain that short for too long...

Fell #2


Yeah, it’s looking like this one’s really gonna rise and fall on the strength of its setting and characters, rather than modular plotting. I thought last issue was good, in spite of the distraction of its nominal mystery plot. This issue, unfortunately, places a mystery closer to the fore, and the book seems all the weaker because of it.

Maybe it’s a case of writer Warren Ellis struggling against the 16-page story limit he’s set for the book’s packaging, but the issue-length plots in this series are weirdly abrupt, not in terms of conclusion but by way of build - things just sort of happen, simply to keep the story moving, with prime bits of info dropping into the detective protagonist’s lap. Last issue, you’ll recall that Richard Fell solved his case not through any particular brilliance of detection as much as sheer stupid luck, just happening to accidently stumble into an alleyway altercation that coincidently involved a key source of information as to the issue’s plot. It didn’t really matter to me, since Ellis had a fairly good grasp on the characters and seemed more interested in building up the book’s world anyway.

This issue, however, is heavy on the plot, which means it’s heavy on the contrivances. Once again Fell basically walks into key information at random, this time by merely striking up a conversation at a bar, which leads into a short lecture on an extremely specific magical use for an unborn foetus, straight out of Pol Pot’s Cambodia, which wouldn’t you know it just happens to be precisely the motive behind those nasty murders of pregnant women that Fell is investigating. What a stroke of luck! To Ellis’ credit, he does try to bind the story’s historical content to the close-knit ominousness of Snowtown’s semi-magical background, fear-soaked immigrants instructing similarly saturated newcomers as to the ways of protection (note the map behind Fell on this issue’s cover).

But the mechanics of execution here are decidedly inelegant; at one point, Fell (who apparently takes extreme and immediate action based on any old bit of historical trivia he hears) pinpoints possible locations for the killer’s hideout by firing his gun into the air at night and checking whose window doesn’t light up in a building he suspects the killer to be housed in. This is because the killer will surely feel so safe, what with his magical unborn child talismans and all, that he won’t get spooked and turn on his lights. Of course, this does presume that the killer isn’t at all a curious type and might actually want to get a look at who’s being shot at outside his apartment regardless of his or her own safety, or maybe even more so because the killer is protected. Or that the killer might be so drunk on protection that he or she might want to flaunt his or her invincibility. Or that the killer might simply be woken up by gunfire and might need to turn on the lights just to get his or her bearings. Are the dead baby charms expected to prevent you from tripping over things?

But no, Fell’s awesome scheme works like a charm, and he kicks the shit out of the villain and shoots him and even gets to complain that now his good suit is ruined, in the mandatory Tough Guy Moment of the issue. That’s also about the extent of the character work this issue: there’s a brief framing sequence with Fell and Mayko the barkeep sort of being friends, but Mayko’s role this issue is mostly to dispense plot-specific trivia. There’s a scene with a stock Zany Coroner, the scary nun lurks around, and Lieutenant Beard amusingly proves to be mostly correct about the case despite his mania. Yet it’s the case that’s the problem, the distraction.

Ben Templesmith’s art is holding up nicely, the story’s setting is still fairly intriguing (who knows - maybe all of this luck Fell’s running into is actually a symptom of his being in Snowtown itself, land of strange things), and I do like the characters, when they have things to do, but if you’re going to push a plot through most of the issue, it ought to be a little smoother than this; otherwise, leave it in the background, where it can be safely paid only passing attention, sort of like in last issue. Intriguing format or not, these are basic concerns for the entertainment value of an ongoing series like this one.