Monday, July 30, 2007

"Real" Book Roundup

So, I've been on one of my kicks where I'm devouring prose novels & books at a rapid clip. Here's some quick capsule reviews if you're still on the look-out for some good summer readin'.

Gone Baby Gone - Dennis Lehan

Saw the trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation and decide to give the book a try, I haven't read anything by Lehan (author of Mystic River), but had heard nothing about good things. This is just a devastating book, spinning out from a child abduction case, two PI's are drawn into one of those cases where "nothing is as it seems", but it's handled very well. I don't want to get into too much of the plot simply because to summarize it does a disservice to how well written it really is. That said, there is very little beauty in this book, it's string of gut-punches and the ending proves that while justice can be done, it's not necessarily the right thing.

Can I Keep My Jersey? - Paul Shirley

On to some lighter fare, I was turned onto Paul Shirley's writing by columnist Bill Simmons, Paul is a lower-rung NBA player who is the guy who fills the end of your bench when several of your players are injured. Since college he's kept a blog of his travails in the NBA and (mostly) European Leagues, it's generally fascinating stuff, even for those of us who haven't really cared about the NBA since Michael Jordan rendered it very boring (when you've seen the greatest, why bother watching a lot of people who aren't as good?).

Mr. Shirley is very self-deprecating and I was able to connect with his work mostly because he holds himself far apart from the normal professional-athlete mindset. He doesn't think he's very good, he definitely doesn't think he's better than most of his teammates and he fully appreciates how lucky he is to make a very good living playing a game. The hardest part of his writing is that since he is so self-deprecating, you have to continually remind yourself that even a guy who heats the bench for 10 days at a time in the NBA is still one of the best 500 basketball players on the planet and also, he kind of comes off as a bit of a misanthrope, but if you had to surround yourself with this type of co-workers or work on a potentially mob-run basketball team in Siberia, you'd probably have a low opinion of your fellow humans as well.

Bad Luck & Trouble - Lee Child

Yet another Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child, and yet another one that is very, very good. Essentially this is a brutal summer cation movie in novel form (think the Bourne series). Reacher is an ex-army MP who prefers to live life as a nomad, traveling only with the clothes on his back and living off of his meager savings. While most of the novels in this series usually end of with Reacher getting into a situation involving a convoluted coincidence, but this time...wait for's personal. One of his Army buddies has just been found dead and essentially, he's getting the band back together to hunt down those responsible. It's a fun, quick read that doesn't stick with you too long after you're done with it, but you're ready for the next book to hit the stands none-the-less.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

So yeah, much like 10 million other people across the country I bought and read this book last weekend. Much like the rest of the series it was very good and provided a fitting end to the series. It could have used a little editing in the drawn-out middle part, but I'll give Ms. Rowling a break because you can tell she didn't want it to end the same as her readers.

If you like the series you'll like the book, if you don't, well, you won't.

Soon I Will Become Invincible - Austin Grossman

So one last book, a novel about a super-villain, recently escaped from prison bent on conquering the world. There's a parallel thread about a new superhero joining the world's biggest super team. This is a fun little book, and the author is able to create a world with a rich history of super-people without boring you by giving you endless tracts on its history. Once again, this is nothing that will change the world, but it's fun none-the-less, it makes a good point to try to get into the head of a supervillain and try to understand why in the devil he wants to use his obvious brilliance to take over the world. Especially since that's a rather thankless task.

So that's what I've devoured ion the last few weeks, I've still got quite a stack on the nightstand, so hopefully I can give another report in a little while.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Night Fights - Mr. Sexypants

Always remember:

Even for Mr. Sexypants, "No means NO."

Thanks be to Bahlactus for spreading the truth!

Image courtesy of The Spirit #8, wherein we learn, for reals, that Spirit = Pimp.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What I Got - 7.25.07

Whoo-hoo, got my books early this week, and it's a good-un. Here we go:

Annihilation Conquest: StarLord #1

After picking up the collections of the first Annihilation event, I knew that I'd be getting the sequel as well, but I figured I'd hold out for the collections since I knew I'd be getting them anyway. Until I heard that this series would be featuring Rocket Raccoon. Well shit, I gues I'll have to pick this one up. Essentially, this book is a variation on the Dirty Dozen, with Peter Quill, StarLord leading a low-tech team to Hala to try to take down the Phalanxes (ie. the Borg of the Marvel Universe)
doomsday weapon. this issue is little more than set-up and the gathering of the team, but it does it so well, that you don't even care that no one gets punched. The art was very good too, I've never heard of Timothy Green II, but I'm going to keep an eye out for him. His work really reminded me of the late Seth Fisher's and that's definitely a complement.

The Immortal Iron Fist #7

While the creative team charges up for the second arc of this fun series, we get a quick "mythology" issue, providing the story of the Pirate Queen of Ping-Hi Bay. There's some fun kung fu action in this story, which is essentially: girl meets kung fu master, kung fu master trains girl, girl meets boy, boy and girl get married, kung fu master gets ticked, boy runs away (not wanting to watch girl die), girl searches for boy and kicks the crap out of southeast Asia while she does it. Oh yeah, there's pirates too. So fun for the whole family, at least the one's who like kung fu and pirates.

Queen & Country #32

I had completely stopped believing that this series would ever even come out again, but here it is, at least for one more issue. Greg Rucka wraps up the current storyline featuring British spy Tara Chase being held in Baghdad (with a journalist and her partner). truth-be-told, I had no idea what was going on, since the last issue came out over a year ago, but even without the benefit of a recap page, I was up to speed pretty quickly. This is a very good issue of this excellent series, but sadly, according to Greg Rucka's letter at the end, it's to be its last for a while. We'll have to wait for a relaunch coming in 2009 (or 2010!) in order to keep following these characters he has so well brought to life. It's funny, this series has been gone for quite a long time, but I didn't realize how much I'd miss it until someone told me when it would come back.

Black Summer #1

So Warren Ellis's new Avatar series fully kicks off and it's quite the grabber. In issue #0 we learned that John Horus (ie. Superman) killed the President and his cabinet for their lies and is determined to bring a newly elected government into power. Unfortunately, that means all of his old allies are now targets of a very scarred government and Tom Noir (ie. Batman) is fighting for his life. Oh yeah, Tom is now a drunk and minus a leg, so he's not exactly in shape to be fighting off super-powered hitmen....or is he?

Ellis, gives us a very good look at "real-world" superheroes, which is funny, since this is like his eighth time exploring this subject. Irregardless, I guess I'm in again, I wonder how it'll come out this time?

Batman #666

So I really don't know how you go wrong here. You have issue #666, written by Grant Morrison, featuring Batman's son, in the future, fighting the Anti-Christ and his minions (including a Gorilla in a clown costume) on the eve of the Apocalypse. But it all comes off rather flat. Part of the problem is that you have to search for clues throughout the story to see what the heck is really happening, and a fair amount of it refers back to stories that happened in the last few months (that I haven't read). It's still very good, but I wanted more.

One more bone to pick, could there have been more blood in this book? I understand that this is future-bad-ass-psycho-Batman, but did he really need to eviscerate all of his opponents? And this all got Code It didn't bother me so much as pull me out of the story in a few place.

Let's hope Superman #666 is better.

So that's it for this week, everything was good, if not great. I also picked up Warren Ellis's Doktor Sleepless, but haven't gotten around to reading it, but based upon thumbing through it, I'm not hopeful. Now to figure out who's going to be fighting tomorrow night!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hey Kids!

Have you ever wondered what could be more awesome than Rocket Raccoon firing a heavy machine gun?

Well, clearly Keith Giffen has too! How about Rocket Raccoon, firing a heavy machine gun, being held up by a giant, sentient tree?

Yes, that'll do nicely.

All images courtesy of this weeks Annihilation Conquest: Starlord #1, which is just as good as these two panels suggest.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Last Bastion of Oddity

The Weekly World News, one of the last bastions of mainstream oddity is shutting down.

I remember as a lad, when comics of all types were cheap and plentiful at the local drug store, there was also the excellent "news" publication. Too bad it no longer fits in to today's homogenized grocery store checkout racks. If only they had featured Rachael Ray or Brad Pitt more. So go out and pick up a copy so that you can show your children there was once true wonder in this world of ours!

Keep your eyes open Archie, you could be next!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Public Service Announcement: Transformers

So my eldest has recently gotten into Transformers hardcore due to the hype surrounding the movie (which he is at least 5 years too young to see, by my estimation), so my Mother bought him the DVD of the '86 movie (which is awful, who remembers that White Lion did the music? Ug.) and I started tivoing Transformers: Cybertron, which is just as awful. Maybe I'm just an old man, but I fail to see the difference between this:

And this: Transformers: The Movie's defense, without this:

We may never have gotten this:

And that would've been a damn shame.

Friday, July 20, 2007




Only Bahlactus lived to tell the tale....

What I Got: 7.18.07

Well, hell, I really haven't put up any reviews in a long-ass time, have I? Blame it on summer, instead of sitting in the house reading comics, I've actually been outside, having fun. I gotta cut down on that. Well, it was a pretty heavy week, so let's see what I got:

The Brave & The Bold #5

So yeah, Batman beats up on and then teams up with the Legion of Superheroes. Once again, this book feels like it's the textbook for "Fun Superhero Comics 101" and Professors Waid and Perez are at the top of their game. It's amazing while telling an in-continuity story they're able to throw in so many absurd silver-age references that all come off as a little silly, but not out-right insane or out-of-character. Simply put, it you like these characters, this is the place to be.

Plus you get Batman flying with a Legion flight ring. That is 7 different ways of the math!

The Spirit #8

Well, Darwyn Cooke's getting back into the form that made the first four issues of this series such a delight. I'd say he's not all the way back yet, but this is still a very good issue. I'd say more, but Chris has already used a "Mr. Sexypants" joke in his reviews, so I got nothin'.

Supervillian Team-Up: M.O.D.O.K.'s 11 #1

This is a very good first issue for this little mini-series from Fred Van Lente (joining Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jeff Parker in keeping Marvel afloat these days) featuring a revenge heist planned by every one's favorite big-headed, tiny-armed, megalomanical freak-of-evil-science. After the cursory re-telling of M.O.D.O.K.'s origin (this time inserting one of the writer's favorite creations, Monica Rappacini) we get the gathering of the villains (or in some cases anti-heroes). As you might imagine, we're scraping the bottom of the barrel with most of these guys, but they come off more down-trodden than pathetic, so it works to help the reader gain their sympathy. the only real problem with this issue is that there's not enough M.O.D.O.K., but this being the set-up issue, it's more than forgivable. I look forward to the rest of this series.

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil #4

It's official, I've used up every good adjective in my reviews of the previous three issues of this. The collection's coming in a few months, buy it and guarantee your place in Heaven.*

Captain America #28

This series continues to plug along very well after the death of its title character. That said, this issue is pretty much all set-up for the throw-down that's coming between the Red Skull's goons, Bucky/Winter Soldier & S.H.I.E.L.D. I may have to drop this one and go back to waiting for the trade, it's just too bad that due to the CW scheduling clusterfuck, the trades on this series are a bit behind. Hmmmmmm....I'll guess I'll stick it out another month to see if it picks up.

World War Hulk #2


That is all.

So thanks for sticking around, the weather's nice this weekend, so I'll probably be outside playing with the kiddies. I should have some fighting up tonight, if I can get the darn scanner working. We'll see, have a good one!

*The author makes no warranties or promises towards Shazam guaranteeing your place in any afterlife.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What I've Been Listening To

I know, I know, I went and started a music blog elsewhere, but now I'm mucking up this other one with a long post about what I'm listening to? well, in the interest of keeping that blog solely "on topic", I'm going to throw up some quick thoughts on the gang o' CD's (and downloads) I've picked up through the last few weeks. This is mostly because of the one-two punch of Father's Day and my birthday, plus, I lost a whole gang of songs when my e-Music renewed and I forgot about it, so I made sure to use up my downloads immediately so that didn't happen again. Anyway, here's what I've been listening to:

Afghan Whigs: Unbreakable A Retrospective

As I've said before, I have an almost OCD love of best of/greatest hits albums, as evidenced by me wanting this disc, despite already owning the entire catalogue of the Whigs in some shape or form. But hey, why burn my own best of disc when I can pay someone $15 to make on for me? Well, at least there are two new songs on this (both recorded last year). The new songs aren't bad, they're pretty much b-sides, but for the completist, they make this CD a necessary buy. Luckily, I got it as a gift, since the track list, is, well a bit lacking. It's too bad I can't blame it on record-company lackeys since it looks like this was compiled by Greg Dulli. They leave off some good singles (Honky's Ladder) in favor of bad ones (Going to Town, a song even the band admitted they hated in 1996, but put out since the record company wanted them to) and include a good cover (Come See About Me) instead of one of their great covers (Creep or Band of Gold). Obviously, there's good stuff here, just not what I would've chosen. I mean really, no Miles iz Dead, are you kidding me?

Paul Weller - Hit Parade

OK, onto anther Greatest Hits set, this one covering Paul Weller's career, from The Jam, to The Style Council to just plain ole' Paul Weller. This album is not a replacement for owning the Jam's Greatest Hits, if you don't already have that (or the individual albums), buy it instead. On this album you get 6 Jam hits plus quick overviews of the SC and his solo stuff. Since I've heard good and (mostly) bad things about the Style Council, I figured this was a good place to start and the best I can say is that it's not bad, but I don't think I'll be chasing down too many of their albums. Just way too 80's for me. The solo stuff is good, bluesy, brit-pop and I may have to chase down some of those records. Overall, a good CD to keep in the car.

One quick note on this CD, the compilers did themselves no favors by going with a mash-up of the various stages of Mr. Weller's career instead of going with a straight-up chronological track list. You do yourselves no favors by shifting straight from the great Jam tune Going Underground right into the Style Council's Shout From the Top. Ouch.

Art Brut - It's a Bit Complicated

This is a short review. This is a very good album and it pretty much sounds like disc 2 of their first CD. If you like Art Brut's style of not-very-good-at-their-instruments-but-darn-they're-having-fun style of new new wave brit rock, you'll like this.

Interpol - Our Love To Admire

I was pretty ready to write Interpol off after they did a pre-release show at the Metro for $30, I mean, it's been two years since your last record and you want me to drop $30 to listen to your not-yet-released new album and up to this point your live shows have been, shall we say, lacking? Bite me. But now that I picked up the record, I'm feeling more charitable, it's good, not great, but good. In some places you can almost feel the record company telling them they really need a single as it gets a little more "angry-rock" than the normal "angry-mope", but it's all good for me. I just hope their next show is cheaper.

One last irritation from this band: instead of having a track list on the back of the CD, they chose to just go with a black back-cover with the band name in the lower right corner, thus robbing me of having any clue of the names of the songs as I listened to them in the car. This really bugged me.

Another Sunny Day - London Weekend

I know DB's been on the Sarah Records bandwagon for quite some time, but it took Douglas Wolk's article on eMusic to push me into downloading one of their full-lengths and darn, if it isn't just as good as advertised. As Wolk describes it, it's emo-pop music by "Very, very angry, smart wimps." Yup, that's what I like.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Now With Twice the Blogging Power!

Hey all, as this blog has pretty much degenerated into me whining about comics, I've set up another blog featuring albums that I believe everyone should own. Appropriately enough, I've named it Albums You Should Own. I'll probably be posting a new album once a week, usually with a track from said album. Please check it out if you have a change.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Idea for The Next Season of "24"

I used to love 24, but last season's torture-porn outing kind of turned me off from the series. Lately, I've been re-watching some of the seasons on DVD and I think I figured out where they should go from here - Jack Bauer should become the villain. Let's face it, they guy's been pushed over the edge far too many times to remain mentally balanced, and this would give us a villain we could finally get into the head of, instead of our usual Mulim/Russian/Bauer-family-member that are about as deep as cardboard cut-outs.

Here's how I'd plot it out. Evil asshole VP Powers Boothe is now President (I realize he ended last season seeming not to be as big of an asshole as we thought, but run with me - this would also work with Pres. Sherri Palmer). During another investigation, it comes to the attention of someone in CTU that he (asshole former VP, now known as AHFVP) may have been involved with Pres. Palmer's assassination. Someone in CTU (ie. Chole or Audrey) relays this info to Jack while he's on somewhere washing dishes and generally living the life of a crazy-hermit. At this point, Chole/Audrey is killed by someone close to the AHFVP for relaying this info. From this point on, Jack Bauer decides that the President must die. I would frame this all happening one day in New York city where the Pres. is making a campaign appearance. During the same day, CTU is in NYC making the afforementioned terror bust. After his friend's death, Jack makes it clear to someone in CTU (Buchanan? I know he's out, maybe Jack can call him for advice) what he's going to do. From there on, it's a cat and mouse chase through New York with CTU trying to stop the assassination, following up on the info about the VP themselves, trying to keep it from other gov't agencies that one of "their own" has gone rogue , along with a possible pararllell assassination plot from another faction. I think this would be great. It'd give us a great villain, give us a reason to stop all the damn torture, plus, whoever is hunting Bauer could be set up as a future 24 hero should the series continue without Sutherland. Fox, send me a damn check!

I am Moon Boy

So I was between picking up the Devil Dinosaur Omnibus and Annihilation Vol. 3 tomorrow at the shop. Then I came upon this pencil from Devil Dinosaur #4 on the Tate Gallery's site:

(click to embigggen)

I can't NOT own that.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Kwik-E-Hits - 7.8.07

So I only got one comic this week, but I did see a concert, a movie and did a whole gang of other stuff, so I thought I'd just do a quick bullet-point run-down of my thoughts.

  • All-Star Superman was a bit of a disappointment this week, after 6 great single-issue stories, I was sad to see that this Bizarro story is being stretched to three issues. That means that it'll be at least 6 months from when the first issue of this story hit until the last. That's a long-ass time. Still, that cover is awesome:

  • Went to see the Police on Thursday night and they were good, for a nostalgia act. Not exactly what I wanted, but close enough (especially after a few $7 Old Styles). Bill has a good assessment at his blog.
  • Saw Transformers last night and it was a good, big, dumb toy/GM/US Army commercial. The ending was kind of sudden though, it's like the budget was running out and they realized they only had like 30 seconds of effects left to tie up the big end-fight.
  • The Auto-bots were total wussies in the movie too. They buildup Ironhide as this big, bad-ass weapons expert, but he doesn't even ace one Decepticon. That said, Prime's take-down on Bonecrusher was boss.
  • After seeing this, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, I'm convinced that Michael Bay has some type of US Army Vehicle fetish. Dude must masturbate to magazines that have centerfolds of the F-22 Raptor. The camera just kinda "looks" at the pretty girl in the movie, but it gazes lustfully at all of the military hardware.
  • That said, the girl in the movie was pretty, but, depending upon the shot and lighting, she went from looking 18 to looking 42. That's what too much time in the tanning beds will do to you kids!
  • The Cloverfield trailer was odd, but in a good way. I knew I had a good audience when a lady yelled out after the trailer, "What the HELL was that!?!"
  • I'd link to the trailer, but apparently Paramount doesn't want anyone not paying for Transformers to see it, just go to YouTube and search for "Cloverfield trailer". [Edit: It's now posted at Apple's Trailer site]
  • Apparently, a bunch of 7-11's have been turned into Kwik-E-Marts in preparation for the forthcoming Simpsons Movie. I may have to make a pilgrimage. Too bad they drew the line at Duff Beer.

I got some cool stuff for my birthday too so I may include some reviews of that later in the week. Have a good rest-of-the weekend and I'll talk at you soon.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

07.07.07 my birthday!

My 33rd in fact, though I suppose it'd be cooler if I was turning 77 or something (well, maybe not). Anyhoo, apparently Al Gore is throwing me a concert and everything. That's cool.

Too bad that damn cannibal robot ate my cake.

That asshole always finds a way to mess up my party.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth of July

Here's a quick Fourth of July treat:

The cover to Captain Marvel Jr. #9

I gotta say, I picked up the Shazam Family Archives Vol. 1 from the library and was astounded with how great the art was. I'd never seen Mac Raboy's art before and it's easily the most "modern" work I'd ever seen in a Golden Age book. He would be an A-list artist today. On top of that there's a scene where Cap Jr. beats up a squadron of Japanese Zeroes and then, beats on the pilots as they parachute to "safety". Now that's hard.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Independent's Day

Rising to Robert & Jake's challenge, I decided to pick up something new I'd been thinking about grabbing for a while now. That is the Annihilation Vol. 1 Hardcover. For those not in the loop, Annihilation was an event that Marvel put together last year to showcase their "space" characters that hadn't been used in quite some time. Though this could have been just a thrown-off "let's just make sure the trademark's are renewed" mini-series, they really did something special here. Maybe since they were dealing with mostly C & D-list characters, it allowed far more lee-way in how they were ultimately dealt with. Plus, they didn't have to cross into any currently on-going series so they didn't have to worry about continuity problems.

The way it was marketed was with a Prologue special, followed by four mini-series that set up what the main heroes are up to, and then capped by the blow-out six-issue series. Before any of this there was the Drax the Destroyer mini-series that seemed to come out of nowhere a few years ago. Written by Keith Giffen with art by Mitch Brewister, I had picked up the original trade of this book and found it to be very good. Drax, most recently had been portrayed as a Lobo-esque murderer for hire and all around bad-ass, was on board a prison ship which crash landed on Earth near a remote Alaskan village. From there, it's essentially Drax versus his fellow inmates and he is befriended/annoyed by a young outcast girl. It's good, but not great and after it was over I thought it would've made a great pitch for a movie since none of the main marvel characters are in it or even referenced more than one line of dialogue in the second issue. I can't imagine it sold too well, so I forgot about it until Drax poped up again in the Annihilation Prologue issue. That one-shot sets up the current status. A mysterious force has come out of the crunch (the place where our universe borders with others) and is razing every system it comes in contact with. The Nova Corps. (essentially Marvel's Green Lanterns) is assembled and the force (or The Annihilation Wave as it is referred to) hits the Nova's home-world of Xandar. The planet and the Corps. are destroyed except for the last Nova Centurion, who is of course the Nova of Earth, Richard Ryder. I've long had a love for Nova, pretty much because he one of the few "new" characters from the 70's that I was able to get in on from the ground floor with. It's funny to hear him say that he's been a Nova for 5 years, when I've been reading his books for close to 30. Fuck, am I old. Anyhoo, the four issues of the Nova series are the best in this book and suffice to say there's a lot of outer-space blowing shit up with a little Luke Skywalker-esque whining mixed in, but not too much.

Overall, this book gets a hearty thumbs up and I can't wait to pick up the second volume as soon as I'm next flush.

So celebrate the Independence of our Country by picking something new and talking about it!

(Image stolen from Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge)