Monday, November 24, 2014 • Afternoon Edition • "The CBR of comic book journalism."
Saga of the Swamp Thing Volume 1

Saga of the Swamp Thing Volume 1

By David Bird in Blog on January 23, 2010

Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Stephen Bissette, John Totleben et al.Published by DC/Vertigo, 2009If I was worrying about trying too hard to sell things with my last review, I certainly shouldn’t need to sell this one. This is the comic that started it all! Alan Moore, Vertigo, and the Modern Age of comic books! Okay, that statement stretches things quite a bit, but it did introduce Moore to America, securing it an important place on must read lists.I was just getting back into comics when this came out, having given them up during my teen years, and I wasn’t reading anything as mainstream as Swamp Thing, but a friend loaned my his copies a few years later. That was the only time I read them before re-reading them now, but I am pretty sure his collection of singles did not include .‘Loose Ends’, Moore’s very first issue. It has been collected here for the first time.What did I think re-reading it after all these years? The art poses a problem for me, one that I often have when older comics are reprinted with modern production techniques. The colours are too much. Too bright. Garish, even. Especially when you consider how fine Bissette and Totleben’s lines are. The story? Through the actions of the vegetable villain Floronic Man, Swamp Thing learns his true origins and begins the process of reconciling himself with that knowledge. But first Moore kills, or tries to kill, just about everyone. He does kill the title character. And when he brings the Swamp Thing back, he completely retcons the character, taking him from the B movie monster he had always been and making him over completely. How often do we hear that complaint today? A new creator comes in and throws everything previous writers have done out the window? On reading this I also realized that this, and the first two or three Sandman arcs, were deeply steeped in the horror genre. A lot of people traced the darkness of the Modern era’s comics to DKR and Watchmen, but the roots are laid here and those roots grew out of monsters and nightmares. I also spotted the first appearance of Sting, a preoccupation of Bissette’s that would give rise to the character John Constantine.Besides the addition of issue 20, this collection also boasts an informative introduction by Swamp Thing creator Len Wein, who describes both the original creation of the title and, with Wein acting as editor, the passing of the torch to Moore, whose changes he enthusiastically supported.

De: Tales and Daytripper

De: Tales and Daytripper

By David Bird in Blog on January 24, 2010

Writer: Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, Artist: Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba De: Tales published by Dark Horse, 2006 Daytripper published by DC/Vertigo, 2009-ongoing These two titles are by a pair of twins from Sao Paulo who have been making a name for themselves illustrating titles like Casanova, The Umbrella Academy, and B.P.R.D. Left to their own devices they leave behind super-spies, superheroes, and the supernatural behind to spin tales about twenty-somethings in modern Brazil. De: Tales was published four years ago. It includes biographical and fantasy stories, but principally focuses on capturing moments in the lives of young people. Meetings, by chance or appointment, are a common theme. Like most anthologies, it’s a mixed bag, but none of them are terrible. The best, which was also the first of their stories I read, when it was collected in Autobiographix tells about an actual encounter the two had while in Paris. At their weakest the stories just seem a little pointless. They capture their characters’ youth, their hipness, in a way that seems more real than Pope, but there often seems to be little reason for the story. Daytripper, which has a third issue coming out this week, also focuses on the on the lives of young Brazilians and may be heading towards the same problems. The first story centered on an obituary writer whose dreams of becoming a novelist suffer in the shadow of his father, one of the nation’s most revered authors. The second story centers on a young man on vacation. He meets a dream girl. There are various profundities spoken. While the first story is full of potential, the second goes no where, though both end at the same place. I am not going to say where - I don’t want to spoil things - but I hope it doesn’t become a gimmick. With only two issues out, and those so uneven, its probably too early to form a judgment of the series as a whole, but it seems to share the same strengths and weaknesses as the stories in the earlier book. As with most stories in the earlier collection, the credits don’t break down who did what. Its Moon and Ba all the way.

Oh, The Horror! #43: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Oh, The Horror! #43: A Nightmare on Elm Street

By Greg in Blog on January 20, 2010

Let me be first to say that although I am a Robert Englund fan, I wasn't always a Freddy Kruger fan. Since I was a kid, I never got too much of the appeal of these films. I knew they were a HUGE favorite for horror fans, but I was never enthusiastic to watch Freddy films. Now I have seen a few, many I can't quite remember except for specific scenes. About a week or so ago I watched 2.5 Freddy films and feel I was maybe a bit too hard on the it. Some time last year I tried to watch the first A Nightmare on Elm Street and really couldn't get into it at all. I felt it was fairly laughable and nothing grabbed me. Upon watching it again, I found myself finally getting into it. The characters were all there and the premise was in fact strong. As to why I had a dislike for it, I can't possibly say. The premise has such strong potential and a lot of promise for stories and the first did a rather decent job with that. A mysterious, burnt killer with knives for a hand invading your dreams is completely horrifying, especially for the fact that when he kills you in your dreams, you die in real life too. Upon finally giving this film another shot - a fair shot - I felt the movie franchise would have been extremely strong without the pointless sequels. Now, the third part of the series, Dream Warriors, had some great ideas and itself was a fine film, the series could have done without sequels period. The first film was a solid horror tale and by itself would have been a solid footnote of a scary movie.Visually, this film was very well made, especially blurring the lines between dream and reality, creating some surreal scenes. Examples being the first victim's death, Freddy's various appearances, among other things. My favorite scene would surely be when Nancy, the film's protagonist, is asleep and Freddy's figure begins to slowly come forward through the wall atop her bed. Very creepy scene and very well done. Visual-wise, I'm actually looking forward to see what kind of nightmares and special effects are used for the up-coming remake despite my dislikes for the current remake genre. My biggest complaint also for the film was in fact the use of music. I felt most of the music used for this film were very poor choices and could have highly improved the creepiness of the film if a more subtly creepy type score scheme was used. The main musical theme is very good, but other musical pieces in other scenes I found to be quite jarring and sometimes nearly took me out of the scene.A Nightmare on Elm Street is a creepy fun movie that stands rather well on it's own. I'm glad I gave it another fair shot after all this time of un-interest and somehow completely disliking it last time I watched it. Heck, I didn't even bother to finish it last time. But hey, if you're like me about this franchise, give the first film a fair viewer. You may like the interesting premise and may in fact like Freddy himself. The character works better as a sinister and creepy monster then the wise-cracking joke-ster he ended up being as the franchise went on. And here's hoping the remake does some justice. I'll try to give it a benefit of a doubt.Directed by Wes Craven.

Oh, The Horror! #42: Halloween

Oh, The Horror! #42: Halloween

By Greg in Blog on January 16, 2010

Another wonderful classic. I'm glad I'm seeing this now. Don't ask me why, but I just am. John Carpenter directs an extremely creepy and well made craft of a little horror tale about a psychotic stalker with a weird mask on his face as he kills through local town teenagers, his target baby-sitter Laurie, played by Scream Queen, Jamie Lee Curtis. Besides that little tid-bit, there isn't too much to say of the plot for this movie. That synopsis is pretty much it along with a psychologist roaming the town in search of stopping this psychotic killer, Michael Myers. Jamie Lee Curtis, following her mother's horror footsteps, does a fine job as the very likable Laurie as she struggles to combat Myers who just keeps on coming back from whatever you dish at him.My absolute favorite aspect of this film is just how darn creepy this film is just how simple it is. Great shots, great use of space and raising tension, good use of a creepy musical score, and VERY minimal amount of blood. Now, I know people may get annoyed at my annoyance with people's disapproval of horror films with no blood and gore, but here is a classic slasher horror film that doesn't rely on gore or blood whatsoever. Heck, I can't even think of any blood in this film. There's a lot more to the craft of horror then just blood and guts and I wish modern horror fans would get that into their heads. But dammit, let me not rant about this... The atmosphere and tone produced int his movie is very much masterful and pushes forth an insane amount of creepiness that still resonant to this day watching this film. The movie overall looks beautiful.Besides a bit of a flat ending, this is a great film I'd highly recommend. I'm not a huge fan of the slasher genre, but this here is one of the very first slasher horror films that started such a great trend and it's well deserved of all the craze and acclaim this simple film gets.

It was the worst of times...

It was the worst of times...

By starlord in Blog on January 14, 2010

Starlord returns in his second blog! This time I shall enthrall you all with what I thought was the best and worst of D.C. Comics. Keep in mind that D.C. has always been my favorite of the big two, so this was a bit harder for me.D.C. (The Best)5. Wonder Woman: Not since the days of Greg Rucka has our favorite Princess been so spot on. With bizarre Gorilla friends helping her, new villains to blend in with the old ones, and a return of the Gods; Gail Simone has raised the bar once again for Amazon stories. I hope the next writer chosen can maintain the quality that this book puts out on a monthly basis.4. Supergirl: Last year I believe I had this title in my worst category. What a difference a year makes! Probably the best thing to come out of the New Krypton story, Supergirl has finally found her footing. Who would have thought that bringing in her parents was all she needed. Much praise must go to Sterling Gates for turning this book that was not readable in the least to a must read in less than a year. 3. Geoff Johns: Say what you want (and many of you will), but Geoff is to D.C. what Bendis is to Marvel. He's the architect to everything in the universe right now. His Blackest Night is both fun and dark. He's made the original Brave and the Bold center stage once more. His work on changing the status quo in the Superman books have been controversial perhaps, but still well worth reading (for the most part). The man knows comics. He knows what the fanboys like and except for one huge gaff, he delivers time and time again. 2. The Secret Six: Hands down the best book D.C. has out right now. Gail Simone is at her absolute best with these characters. She's able to use her zany sense of humor and somewhat warped persona that she keeps for just this occasion to great advantage. In her hands, Catman has went from a second stringer to one of the best Anti-Heroes I've ever seen in comics. She's even made Bane fun to read. If you haven't been reading this book, you're missing out. This is the reason I fell in love with comics oh those many years ago. Damn near perfection!1. Blackest Night: This could very well have been nothing more than your typical zombie event that seems to be gripping the comic industry lately, but instead it made a right turn into a much more humanizing story. Under the more than capable hands of Geoff Johns we are shown just how much misery our heroes have faced in the last few years with the death of so many loved ones. The creation of the Rainbow Lanterns is a fascinating twist that I hope continues way after the event is over. But the best part of this is that with the reveal of Nekron we may actually get an explanation of why so many of our heroes have been returning from the death to begin with. 2009 was all about death in the D.C. Universe, and it's never been more entertaining.D.C. (The Worst)5. The Web: Actually all of these characters that were purchased from D.C. could probably tie for this spot. The relaunch was weak and the delivery of the series was worse. Even bringing in Oracle to the Web in hopes of tying him more into the D.C. Universe proper did nothing to help this exercise in paper waist If this was their plan all along, they should have saved their money.4. Superman: I'm going to be brief with this one because really, it's only logical: You can't have a book with its title character no longer in it. It just doesn't work. And really, Mon-El? Come on! 3. Cry for Justice: Even the amazing art of this book couldn't save it from becoming the biggest letdown of 2009. It has languished in "who cares anymore" land for months now. While the rest of the world turns, this story seems to be frozen in time. There has yet to be a real cohesive story involved and it's now obvious that Robinson's original plan for this mini series was changed drastically when he was given the writing position of the JLA. Now the art really is some of the best of the year, but I still couldn't recommend this title to anyone. Really, does anyone else care about any part of it except when it is going to end? The justice in this is if we are given our money back with an apology.2. Flash: Rebirth: As much as I loves my Geoff Johns, I still can't figure out why this had to happen. I loved Barry Allen. I'm a child of the Silver Age, and even I didn't want to see him come back. One of the greatest sacrificial deaths in comic history was ripped apart with Barry's return and for what reason? So that Nekron can go chasing after him again? So those of us who have fallen in love with Wally as the scarlet speedster can fret about his future? Sorry Mr. Johns, but this really was only for you and maybe Dan. You should have taken notes from John Q's playbook with Spider-Man - the past isn't always worth revisiting.1. All things Titans: I have never seen a franchise in this much disarray. The Titans book sucks. The Teen Titans are wondering around without meaning or purpose. There is no cohesiveness to this part of the D.C. Universe that needs a total remake like this part. And if they aren't going to fix the problems (and there are so many), then do those of us who love this team a favor and put us out of our misery. Fix them stat or cancel them. I'm pretty sure even Garth would sign a do not resuscitate document if he realized how long these guys have been lingering at death's door with no bright light in the near future. Now, with all that said and done, I'd have to say that this year goes to Marvel Comics. They were much stronger in story (if not art), and continuity. Their space adventures are better than D.C.'s by leaps and bounds and while Batman and Superman seem to be waisting away; Marvel's trinity of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor have never been stronger.2009 goes to Marvel. Nuff said! This blog has been syndicated from Starlord's Corner.

Oh, The Horror! #41: The House Centipede

Oh, The Horror! #41: The House Centipede

By Greg in Blog on January 14, 2010

Okay, remember that post I made way back of Barry? Well, here's another critter, this one very much more common. So common that you can stumble upon it in your own bedroom, hell... right next to your freakin' pillow. Say hello to the common house centipede...Creepy as all hell, how could this NOT get it's own entry on Oh, The Horror!? This thing is horrific. Nothing with all those legs should exist. Their main purpose seems to be to just creep into your house and cause you to start scratching yourself while you climb a top of a chair, praying to all your Gods that it doesn't climb onto that specific chair you're standing on.Now, if you're not creeped out by this creature, you're set. It can in fact be very helpful around the house as they tend to eat a bunch of insects that infest your home. But it doesn't help that it's even scarier than the common spider or roach. These centipedes are harmless, but trust me, you can make a nightmarish horror film starring these things. Yulch!

Oh, The Horror! #40: The Shining

Oh, The Horror! #40: The Shining

By Greg in Blog on January 13, 2010

I know I've seen this before but I don't recall ANYTHING about it. But I finally bought the DVD and watched this a few nights ago and wow... just wow. This is a horror film. This is my type of horror movie. A lot of people know that my favorite horror is the one that focuses on the mind, the psychological horror sub-genre is my absolute favorite of the horror-verse, The Innocents being my absolute favorite horror film. The Shining, directed by legend Stanley Kubrick, is an automatic hit with me and is a classic from beginning to end. If you're a horror fan and haven't seen this film, what are you waiting for?The story follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) who has been hired to watch over an over-sized hotel for the winter while he gets space and time to write his novel. Along with him is his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son, Danny (Danny Lloyd). Early on we discover Jack's previous drinking issues along with Danny's imaginary friend, Tony. Danny also seems to possess an ability referred to as The Shining, which we discover from the hotel's chef, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). It seems with these abilities, Danny can see things from the past and things that are going to happen, these things mostly being bad things. Jack is told by the manager of the hotel about the last family that stayed in the hotel and how the father went crazy and killed his wife and children with an axe then killed himself. Jack tells the manager that there's nothing to worry about and that he and his family are thrilled. Though I wouldn't quite say that as Danny starts to see weird visions of two creepy little girls asking to play with him and a hall way being filled with blood. As the months pass by, Jack slowly begins to get grumpier as he attempts to finish his story and gets incredible terrifying around Wendy who just wants to be a loving wife, so it's completely frightening when Wendy begins to fight for her life when Jack finally loses it through push from the weird supernatural elements in the hotel.Wonderfully shot and directed, the musical score throughout is completely masterful and lends really well to this creepy masterpiece. The performances are all top-notch, my favorite being from Shelley Duvall as the very sympathetic and loving Wendy as you wonder if she'll lose her mind when both her child and husband start to crack in this mysterious hotel. Now the movie isn't without it's faults. The only fault I have with the film was that I felt a lot of beats and pieces to the story were missing. Time just goes by and we see the passage of time, but I just wish we got to see more. Jack's transformation seems to almost come out of left field although there's signs of it through gradual build up from the beginning of the movie. Also, reading how much King dislikes this film and seeing a lot of story sub-plots that was excluded for this film does make me ponder, but excluding all that other stuff, the film stands completely well on it's own. My favorite type of horror film indeed.Originally Pubished at: Minds of Greg

It was the best of times...

It was the best of times...

By starlord in Blog on January 11, 2010

Hello true believers! It is I, Starlord, starting my own Super Geek Blog as part of my New Years resolution. For those who don't know me, I'm a gay man in his forties whose love for everything comics and superheroes goes back as far as I can remember. I have a husband of nearly 13 years and we have four wonderful children that we share with two beautiful ladies who have been partners for over 20 years. I spend most of my time on two websites, on my down time, and sometimes on my work time. http://www.dc2universe.com/ is a fan fiction site that has been blossoming for nearly 5 years now. It has been my privilege to have contributed to this site from nearly the beginning. I'm very proud of what my friends and I have accomplished over there. The other site I can be found on is The Outhouse: http://www.outhousers.com/. This is a fan based website that has news articles, reviews, and interviews; as well as one of the coolest forums you could ever want to post in. Thanks to Lord Simian (his code name of course), I have had the opportunity to interview such great comic writers as Kurt Busiek, Mike Carey, and actors Doug Jones, Michael Hogan and Galen Tyrol. Now if you don't at least recognize those last two names, please hand over your Geek card. In the end I'm not sure who will end up reading this, but I hope you respond to my thoughts about everything from comics, television, movies, and online human relationships. I'd like to start my first few blogs with what I consider to be the 5 best and worst of Marvel and DC comics in 2009. I'll start with Marvel. Marvel (The Best) 5. Dark Reign: This "event" flowed rather organically from last years Secret Invasion where Tony Stark fell flat on his face as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Who saved the day? Norman Osborne of all people! This started a cascade of events that lead to Norman's rise as the all powerful head of H.A.M.M.E.R. Now I do have one issue about this plot that I will address in my worst, but I can't deny that this story that has wrapped itself so intricately through out the Marvel Universe hasn't been one of the most fascinating stories that either of the big two have done in years. 4. X-Men Legacy: My second favorite of the X-Titles this year. Mike Carey spent more than half a year rebuilding and really humanizing Professor Charles Xavier. The journey that the Professor went on was fascinating as we watched him pick up the pieces of his shattered mind while making up for the hurt he had caused so many of his students in the last ten years. It was an extraordinary journey that more than deserves to be in my personal top 5. 3. The Invincible Iron Man: This spot was hard for me to fill since all three top tier Avengers had a pretty good year, but Matt Fraction's Iron Man was by far the best of the three. The fall of the most powerful (and rather arrogant) man in Marvel was so well done that by the time Tony had lost most of his mind by his own accord (rather than put all his secrets in the hands of that loony Osborne) it seemed that every one who had despised him during the Civil War found themselves once again rooting for him. This was no easy feat to pull off since arguably it can be said that his actions were an indirect cause of the "death" of Captain America. This story is far from over, and as long as Matt Fraction keeps up the great storytelling, I don't see a downward turn in this title anywhere in the near future. 2: Brian Michael Bendis: This is going to be hard to explain, especially if you are from The Outhouse and reading this. I'm not Brian's number one fan - far from it. I've always had an issue with his writing, mainly his dialogue. However, I would be an idiot not to deny that Marvel is what it is because of this man. As a plotter he is the absolute best at what he does (yeah, I said it). Since Avengers Disassembled he's lead the Marvel Universe through a maze of events that have actually flowed one from the other in a nearly perfect way. NOT that there haven't been some HUGE blunders (at least for me), but there's a reason why Marvel is at the top of their game right now and this is the man who has done it. So kudos where kudos are due. 1. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning: I chose them as number one not just because of their terrific "War of Kings" event that brought the Inhumans back into the limelight and made Scott and Alex Summers' other brother an interesting character; but also because they have, this year, created a brilliant piece of the Marvel Universe with Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. Add to that their mini's that have shown the after effects of the "War of Kings" and you've got the hottest writing duo on the planet right now. Their dialogue is spot on with wonderful humor as well as some great poignant moments. The loss of Adam Warlock and half their team in Guardians this year was probably my number one read of 2009. Bravo guys! Keep up the great work. Marvel (The Worst) 5. Brian Michael Bendis: How can he be on both lists? Simple, just take any issue of Ultimate Spider-Man (my favorite Bendis book) and compare it to any of his many Avenger books. Go ahead, I'll wait... Did you see it? Everyone sounds the same! Everyone has a quip and seems to be able to roll witty banter off their tongue as easy as Peter Parker. I think last year I put him number one or two on this list, but he's dropped down to the bottom at least. I don't know if that means he's getting better to me (His one shot story of Ares and his son was amazing - no doubt), or if I'm slowly becoming a Marvel Zombie. GULP! 4. Ultimate Spider-Man: This was my favorite Spidey book up until the whole Ultimatum mess. After wiping out New York City, thanks to the evil mutant Magneto, Bendis changed the status quo of this title by showing New Yorkers just how much of a hero Peter really is. My problem with this book is two fold. First, the stories now feel about stale, where as in the first volume Bendis always seemed to be taking the 616 universe and turning it on its ears. Now everyone seems to be treading water. Second, the art. Way to close to a Manga style for my taste. I miss Bagley horribly. Please come back! 3. Captain America Reborn: Don't get me wrong, my love for Brubaker remains strong, but even one of the greats can have an off title, and this is his (though I was very disappointed with his rather short run on Uncanny X-Men as well). The way he brought Steve back is okay, if not done before in its own way, but the fact that we now have Steve Rogers running around in other Marvel titles while still not officially back yet in this "big event" mini is frustrating. I want my continuity for these moments. What's next? Will we be reading a funeral scene in New Avengers before Siege is finished? Sorry Mr. Brubaker, not only is this poorly timed, but after the most excellent way you "killed off" Steve, the return seems long, dragged out, and slightly boring. 2. Marvel's United States Government: Norman Osborne? Really?!?! Does the government in Marvel's Universe have no secret intelligence at all? Does no one have a clue who this guy really is?! Who in their right mind would place a deranged megalomaniac in charge of the nations defense? This is a man who had done some pretty heinous things that somebody in Washington D.C. had to have known about. You can't tell me that nobody knows what kind of psychotic loon he really is. It's just unbelievable that they would have given Norman this much power to begin... what's that? Dick Cheney? Huh... well... never mind... 1. The Sentry: No big surprise here. Unless Bendis can pull a Harvey sized rabbit out of his hat, this guy is going to go down as the biggest waist of space in Avengers history. In comparison, even Dr. Druid looks good. There's way too much access baggage that has never fully been explored in any of the Avengers books to make him even remotely sympathetic. In fact it would be safe for me to say that if by some luck he has some kind of sacrificial moment at the end of Siege that is totally mind blowing... I won't care. In fact, I'd probably dance on this pretend heroes pretend grave. Here's hoping that Benids, Joe Q., and Marvel will do the right thing by Bob and put us out of our... I mean him out of our misery. So that's it for my first blog! In the next few days I shall write my second entry where I talk about the best and worst of DC and announce which of the big two I thought was superior to the other in 2009. Until then, this is your friendly neighborhood geek, Starlord, signing off. This blog has been syndicated from Starlord's Corner.

The Marquis: Inferno

The Marquis: Inferno

By David Bird in Blog on January 10, 2010

Writer: Guy Davis, Artist: Guy Davis Published by Dark Horse, 2009 As an artist, Guy Davis can do anything and do it well. In the design of each page and panel, the depiction of epic battles and subtle emotions, of historical minutiae and undreamt of technology, the range and depth of his skill stands up to anyone’s. I’ve known that for some time. The Marquis: Inferno was my introduction to Davis the writer. It collects three stories written between 1997 and 2003 and introduces Vol de Galle, an inquisitor who lives in a world loosely modeled on 18th century France, and has spent his life serving a Church very different from any that we would recognize. Principle among its teachings is the idea that evil behavior is not caused by our own agency but by the influence of devils. Armed with a mask that allows him to see the demons, de Galle becomes the feared Marquis, and launches a one man war against the monsters who inhabit the city of Venisalle. The strongest story is Danse Macabre. It introduces the zealous de Galle, a man plagued by doubts, about himself and his faith. I found I could take the story at face value, but that it was also open to an alternative interpretation: that his actions are those of a madman. That de Galle’s battle with his faith and its hypocrisy have broken his mind. Even his revelation in chapter five can be read an attempt to rework his initial rationale in order to continue his crusade. That the next two stories make it clear that the book really is about the Marquis sending demons back to Hell was almost a disappointment. In his introduction Mignola writes of Davis’ obvious love for monsters, but I can’t think of another artist who comes close to portraying the horrors of damnation. Most comic book monsters lean on Kirby or Lovecraft (or both), but Davis’ Hell would thrill Hieronymus Bosch. As a reviewer I almost always write very positive reviews, and, though they tend to lack the pithy quotes ad copy writers look for, I sometimes worry that I don’t come across as balanced as I should (as I am!). The fact is I don’t have to write reviews and I don’t enjoy tearing things down. I do read comics I think are absolute rubbish, but I am rarely motivated to waste any more time on them by reviewing them. I want to give a more balanced representation of what I read, but I have more interesting things to do with my time rant on about what annoys me (usually, and last week’s review notwithstanding). My review of The Marquis is not going to change anything. Having already praised Davis’ artistic talents, I have to say his writing matches it incredibly well and that this book establishes him as one of the best cartoonists in the medium. I look forward to three new volumes beginning this year. Originally Published on David Bird's Blog. See the original post here .


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Top 20 Albums of 2009

Top 20 Albums of 2009

By in Blog on January 10, 2010

# Artist Album Label 1. Metric Fantasies Metric/Last Gang |Listen|Buy| 2. Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca Domino |Listen|Buy| 3. Handsome Furs Face Control Sub Pop |Listen|Buy| 4. Camera Obscura My Maudlin Career 4AD |Listen|Buy| 5. Joe Henry Blood From Stars Anti |Listen|Buy| 6. Why? Eskimo Snow Anticon |Listen|Buy| 7. Jason Lytle Yours Truly, The Commuter Anti |Listen|Buy| 8. Dinosaur Jr. Farm Jagjaguwar |Listen|Buy| 9. Andrew Bird Noble Beast Fat Possum |Listen|Buy| 10. Bill Callahan Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle Drag City |Listen|Buy| 11. Doves Kingdom Of Rust EMI |Listen|Buy| 12. Built To Spill There Is No Enemy Warner Bros. |Listen|Buy| 13. Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion Domino |Listen|Buy| 14. Antlers Hospice Frenchkiss |Listen|Buy| 15. Pains Of Being Pure At Heart Pains Of Being Pure At Heart Slumberland |Listen|Buy| 16. jj jj n° 2 Sincerely Yours |Listen|Buy| 17. Lou Barlow Goodnight [...]

The Winter Men

The Winter Men

By David Bird in Blog on January 4, 2010

Writer: Brett Lewis, Artist John Paul LeonPublished by DC/Wildstorm 2009There are a lot of ways to start a review, but a rant isn’t one of them. Usually. But bear with me.We live in an era of fanboy saturation. When a title can foster more discussion than sales. So why is it that far too few people have heard of, let alone read, one of the best titles of the “aughts”?The importance of a consistent publishing schedule is a lesson the comics industry never seems to learn. The Winter Men was originally solicited as a Vertigo title in 2003, but didn’t see print for another two years and then at Vertigo’s sister imprint, Wildstorm. The first two issues came out a month apart. The third issue two months later. Then there was a five month wait for issue four, another six months for issue five, and a far too long twenty-six month wait for the sixth and final issue. And originally it was said to have an eight issue story arc, but that was shortened to six (though the last issue was double-lengthed, so maybe they split the difference). By the time that last issue did come out, the title had fallen off my radar and a revised pull list. As big a fan as I am, why would I keep track of a comic that wasn’t being produced? I only got a copy of the last issue because I happened to be in a comic shop (and not my usual one) when the clerks were debating what to do with the single issue of a title they had been shipped. Perhaps this customer of theirs would like it? I took one look at what they were talking about and said, I would like it! I bought it then and there. When Leon was asked about all the delays, he replied, “I wouldn’t want to badmouth my writer, so I’ll just leave it as two words - not me.” I don’t know whether Lewis ever responded to that, but six issues in forty months? Of course, it bled readers.Thank you. End of rant. On to the review.The Winter Men is the story of Kris Kalenov, a Russian policeman struggling to maintain some semblance of integrity in the chaos that followed to fall of the Soviet Union. When circumstances put him on the trail of a kidnapped child, readers are drawn into a world of gangsters, politicos, and the anything-for-a-buck ethos of Moscow in the 90s. We also learn of Kalenov’s own astonishing past. He once led a squad of rocket soldiers, part of a tech superhero program developed by the Soviets themselves as a counter to their own meta hero, The Hammer of the Revolution. In a world where personal loyalties and connections trump all else, Kalenov finds himself ever relying his old squad.The first three issues concentrate on the story of the kidnapping and serve to introduce us to a varied and vivid picture of Russian life in the Yeltsin era, from Moscow to New York to the Caucasus. The next three issues work like an inverted matryoshka doll, expanding and enriching the story. Making it larger and more personal. Each of the last three issues, interestingly, given the publication delays, could also serve as an ending for the series. The fourth, my favorite issue, would leave us with a day in the life a two Muscovites, a cop and a gangster, struggling to keep afloat in their new reality. It would have made for a quiet, sad resolution. The fifth issue is anything but quiet, as the former rocket soldiers strike back at the people who have been manipulating events and bring the bad guys to justice. Sort of. It was certainly a more typical comic book ending, but it lacked the gravity the story seems to call for. And that brings us to the final chapter, which brings it all together for a grand finish by going back to the squad’s original purpose.Lewis and Leon do an incredible job creating characters and an environment that seem so real you feel it must have actually been like this before Putin began his clamp down. In the end my only disappointment was that Wildstorm hadn’t put the thing out in a hard cover format. It deserves it.


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Album Review:  Flaming Lips – Embryonic (2009)

Album Review: Flaming Lips – Embryonic (2009)

By in Blog on December 29, 2009

Rating Track # Sound Code Name Duration *** 1 M Convinced of the Hex 3:59 ** 2 M Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine 4:17 *** 3 ML Evil 5:41 * 4 M Aquarious Sabotage 2:13 *** 5 MH See the Leaves 4:27 ** 6 ML IF 2:08 ** 7 ML Gemini Syringes 3:44 ** 8 M Your Bats 2:38 ** 9 M Powerless 7:00 *** 10 MH Ego’s Last Stand 5:43 *** 11 M I Can Be a Frog 2:17 *** 12 M Sagittarius Silver Announcement 3:02 *** 13 MH Worm Mountain 5:25 ** 14 M Scorpio Sword 2:05 ** 15 M Impulse 3:32 *** 16 M Silver Trembling Hands 4:02 * 17 L Virgo Self-Esteem Broadcast 3:47 *** 18 M Watching the Planets 5:20 (Go to this link for the explanation of the review format) Even though I decided to call my site “The Music Snob”, I don’t [...]


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Rave Ups:  The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie

Rave Ups: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie

By in Blog on December 26, 2009

Woody was born in 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma and started on his ramblin’ ways at an early age.  He moved from Pampa, Texas to California to New York City; drifting through the rest of America in between.  The musical impact of Guthrie is immeasurable to modern folk music as well as popular music as a [...]

Oh, The Horror! #39: Attack of the Killer Foot!

Oh, The Horror! #39: Attack of the Killer Foot!

By Greg in Blog on December 19, 2009

The final cut/version of my editing project. Had a ton of fun making this. This is my homage to two of my favorite horror films, Psycho and Jaws, and of some of the old cheesy no-good B&W horror films that had a bit of fun element to them still. Besides the score riffs, I had some inspiration from the great Eraserhead film that made this an even more fun experience.Was glad to hear a lot of good feedback during the final showing and some good laughter, especially at some of the identical scenes from this and Psycho which I was hoping to hear.Attack of the Killer Foot Final Cut from Greg Anderson-Elysee on Vimeo.

Oh, The Horror! #38: Greedy Fly by Bush and Marcus Nispel

Oh, The Horror! #38: Greedy Fly by Bush and Marcus Nispel

By Greg in Blog on December 7, 2009

One of my favorite bands and favorite videos ever. From Razorblade Suitcase, Greedy Fly was the second single off that album. Gavin has said of the song, "...You invite thing into your life; you know, that we are all ‘servants of out formulaic ways." For a few years know I've analyzed the song to be about suicide and the weird thought process of it.“This was our ridiculous movie, shot in the same building where they filmed ‘Seven.’ It was just crazy. We spent almost half a million quid on it, which is a stupid, immoral amount of money that I can’t really justify. It was fun to have done an epic like that once.”- Gavin “We sort of tried doing one mad Interscope vieo sort of thing, big budget like a rock version answer to a rap video. It was kind of fun to do, but I felt a bit immoral doing it.”- GavinBut anyways, Marcus Nispel, the director of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, directed this fantastic horror video. I dare you to watch it and not feel a bit weirded out or confused about it. A short movie running about 7 minutes, Nispel does a great job setting up a strange and dark mood and atmosphere.

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