Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cinnamon El Ciclo - D.C. Comics

"Reach for the sky, Sistah!"

For every lesbian teenager that ever wanted to be a cowgirl when when she grew up.

That's right, six gun toting lesbian cowgirls at high noon. "You killed my daddy, now I'm gonna kill you."

Yeah, another one of those bargain bin goodies that will warm your heart and fill a previously unrecognized niche in any good comic book collection. Seriously, even though there isn't one single overt lesbian moment in the entire story the sexual tension is undeniable.

Okay, don't believe me; find this five book series and read it for yourself.

In fact, I may just read it myself before I go to bed tonight...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special - D.C. Comics

Ya bastiches!

Who cares whether you like it or not?

I still read it to my family every Christmas and I love the tears it brings to the children's eyes.

Man, do I miss Lobo...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Caper - D.C. Comics

Good clean fun!

One of the best short run books Ive ever read, period. There are three vignettes spread over twelve issues each of which is better than the one preceding it. My personal favorite is arc three which had me laughing from the very moment it started to the moment it ended. This series is representative of why I started reading comic books and as good an answer to those who ask why I'm still reading them today. Good stories are good stories, no matter what genre you find them in.

This is one of those bargain bin gems you'll be more than satisfied to find at a convention or your local comic book store. I don't care if it ever increases in value, its a book I'll always be glad to have as a part of my humble collection. Seriously, if you find this series intact, pick it up. You won't regret it.

Most of my current collection is short run books. They get up and running quickly and I like how fast paced the shorter books are. At the current price for comic books, anywhere from three to four dollars (and sometimes even more per issue) I don't like books that take three and four issues to get into a storyline. Don't make me spend twenty bucks for little more than character introductions.

N.C.A.A. basketball is on so I'm out of here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Dead, Kingdom of Flies - Berserker Comics


I really wanted to like this book. I really did. Alan Grant and Simon Bisley working together again, how could this title go wrong? Three issues later, I'm just stunned how dreadful this comic book is turning out to be. First off, I've always enjoyed Alan's ability to take a tired old storyline and breathe new life into it. (Alan is usually so good with the twist.) I've always enjoyed his ability to take the tried and true and turn it into something twisted and new.

Sadly, this book is offering nothing new or twisted at all. The storyline is as generic as any zombie tale is capable of being and Alan's storyline offers nothing new to the genre whatsoever. I mean its got zombies-but I've been there and done that-its got a group of people isolated in a building who seem far more interested in fighting each other than they are in battling the plague around them, but again, I've been there and done that. You shoot the zombies in the head to stop them. Scratches and bites infect healthy flesh and create new zombies. Okay, I've seen this tale a gazillion times of late and this book is just a rerun of a worn out theme at four dollars per issue. I can take the same four dollars and buy another zombie movie at, Blockbuster-and the pace of the action will be much faster and scarier.

Bisley's artwork is disjointed and uninspired at best. You can just sense how uncommitted he is to the project and it feels as if he's doing the book for no other purpose than busy work. I'm used to finding a visual commentary in Bisley's illustrations and so far he just hasn't seemed to find the visual hook yet that makes the work enjoyable for him. Aside from a penis drawn provocatively close to Jesus and a naked shower scene there just isn't the running gag running through the book that marks it as a Bisley work. (To me Simon has always been a social commentary artist. His artwork usually says more in background illustrations than most writers get out of their primary story words.) The potential is there, but so far the spark hasn't caught and this book is more smoke than fire and it bothers the eyes instead of lighting them up.

I still want to like this book. Its Alan Grant and Simon Bisley for God's sake! One more issue... I'll give this book one more issue and something really cool better happen or its going into the dead pile. And trust me, once a book goes into my dead pile it doesn't get up and walk again.

Sorry, but right now I'm bored of the flies.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Watchmen

Why this movie crashed and burned...

Okay, I'm on vacation with my wife and son in Gatlinburg, Tennessee celebrating five wonderful years of marriage so this will be quick. (A wife and a child, kinda voids my geek membership card doesn't it.)

First off, at a time where people are looking to the movies to provide a temporary respite from the problems of the day, a story stripping away the glitter of our super heroes and leaving us even one less thing to believe in was sure to be a hit. ("Hey honey, we need a break from all this bad news about the economy, let's go watch a movie about the Alamo!") See what I mean?

Second and I think most important; What guy wants to take his girl to a movie where she gets to look at a bigger-than-life-swinging-blue-schlong for nearly three hours that he knows the one he hopes to bang her with later will never compare to? ( "Oh, Charles, I guess we'll never have to worry about you becoming a super-villain now will we?") Like us geeks don't have enough problems with girls as it is. Duh...

Last but not least, I've seen better actors in porn flicks and they didn't have the benefit of costumes to hide behind.

This film was doomed from the very beginning.

Now if you'll excuse me I've got a family vacation to enjoy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fathom-Aspen Comics

Nice eye candy, but not much else...

Aspen Comics produces some of the most beautifully illustrated, God awful comic book titles I've ever seen. Even the non-stop gnashing of teeth and lamentation over the death of Michael Turner fails to elicit in me the faintest of reason to continue buying their product. Slow, tortuous and lacking in plot to the brink of mind numbing boredom as any ongoing title I've ever 'read'. And the entire line is like that! The Aspen motto must be, "Writers? We don't need no stinking writers!' because they don't mince words when it comes to storytelling. Hell, they hardly even use them.

One of my pet peeves with a comic book is using the artwork to tell the entire story. When I'm ten or twelve pages into a book and the only thing I've read is, "Look out!", "Jump!", Over here!", "Careful!" "sh-h-h... they'll hear you." I'm not a very satisfied reader. I always feel like I've regressed back to a time in childhood where the books I read contained sentences like, "See, Fathom. Swim, Fathom swim." Duh...

Every book I've looked at in their line is the same. By the time I've invested three dollars per issue for five or six books in a row where nothing happens and I'm no further into the development of a plot line than, "See, Soulfire. Run, Soulfire run." I'm outta there! Seriously, if you're not going to use words in telling a story, stop using them all together. I'm tired of having to purchase five or six issues of an Aspen book in order to get one full sentence of storytelling.

Comic books are a unique literary form where a balance of illustration and dialog come together to present a cohesive drama. Fathom is not a comic book by this definition, it is a picture book and quite frankly I outgrew those a very long time ago.

Using nautical terms to create a rating scale for this title I'd find myself speaking pirate as in, "Thar she blows!" and trust me, this book really does.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Warrior Nun Areala, Ben Dunn

Warrior nuns, Nazi evil and the occult!

As much as I've always enjoyed the books produced by Antarctic Press, and yes they are still putting out quality titles, I've always enjoyed reading the editorials nestled between the covers of their magazines. When I look back at their thoughts, reflections and opinions on the state of the comic book industry during the early and mid-nineties I'm struck how much more relevant their comments are today than they were then.

The relationship between those who produce comic books these days and those who read them is as dysfunctional and abusive as that between Cris Brown and Rihanna. Somehow the dynamic between creator and reader has devolved into a love hate relationship where all the comic book companies, irregardless of size, seem to love is our (the readers) money and they hate everything else about us. What the heck happened? When did we become nothing more than bitches to be pimp-slapped and abused? When did purchasing your products become a reason to ridicule and a license to treat us as the lowest possible forms of life on the planet?

With that in mind I reprint the following editorial by Ben Dunn originally published in, Warrior Nun Areala: Portraits, March 1996.

The Politics of Fanboy

Doesn't sound very nice, does it?
Why is it that in this industry we are in the mood to quickly label those that have a genuine passion for the hobby? Do we feel the need to exercise our own superiority or is it a way to cover our own inner passion? Why is it so many professionals in the comic industry need to label comic readers as 'fanboy'? You'll notice there is little regard to call someone a 'fangirl'. Probably because there are so few of them we are afraid to chase off females who actually enter the hobby of comic collecting.

I remember a time it was a badge of honor to be called a 'fan'. I was passionate about comics because I loved the medium. I loved anime, manga, and science-fiction. I loved it so much I created a company. As time went on and I came to know more and more people in the industry , I began to encounter prejudices: the accepted practice of calling comic readers 'fanboys'. Why is that? You wouldn't call a Jew a 'kike', you wouldn't call an Asian a 'chink', you wouldn't call an African American a 'nigger'-unless you were a racist. So why is it okay to call a comic reader a 'fanboy'? Isn't that labeling someone because of what they are? Let's face it, nobody would want to admit in public that he or she is a fanboy, but isn't that what all of us are? Isn't the appreciation of comics the reason we are in this industry to begin with? I have not seen any other industry that treats its own customers with with such utter contempt. Through its own actions and its own words it continues to play these readers, thinking they are fools-i.e., 'fanboys' "Lets go exclusive!" was the rallying cry , and to hell with the readers, "Who cares about them? They will follow us because they are 'fanboys'" was the mantra in the industry. "Let's flood the market with as much similar product as possible because they are fanboys and will buy what we feed them," continued the industry. Just how long did they think the readers were going to fall for it? Now the industry is in the midst of almost collapsing and they have no one to blame but themselves...or do they? Perhaps, in some nameless comic company boardroom, an executive is blaming the fall on those stupid 'fanboys'. They did not realize it was these 'fanboys' that were supporting them for years, and now the truth comes out that they never cared for them to begin with.

I am a comic reader. I like reading comics and I like talking about them. I am not afraid to admit that. I think the industry needs to take a hard look at itself and its readers and try to understand that the passion of collecting and reading comics comes from within. Sure, there are those who try to manipulate it, twist it and take advantage of others to enrich themselves in this industry. It is those I consider the real threat.

Ben Dunn, 03/96

Like any bad relationship the abused victim will stick around for awhile because of the feelings of love they have have for the abuser. Eventually however the bruises become too much to bear and the return on investment diminishes beyond the ability to endure. Even the name calling becomes too much...

To paraphrase an old saying, "If you torture us, we will leave."

This post is dedicated to, Marc Hansen, who needs to read his blog, then ask himself if he were a prospective customer would he purchase his own product, given what he thinks of comic book reader/collectors regardless of whatever format he offers it?

C'mon, Dude, even Cris Brown treats his bitches better...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Flash Gordon- Arddeen Entertainment

Pure beauty?

This is one of those books where it all comes together in perfect harmony and balance. The artwork is stunning and the coloring masterful. I could sit and do nothing more than look at this comic for hours on end.

It would be so easy to lose the story in artwork of this quality, but Brendan Deneen more than holds his own against the artistic splendor of Paul Green. Each element of the book holds my attention and I find this just as good a read as it is eye candy to look at.

Unfortunately, I find the marketing techniques to be as crass as the book is polished. Clearly Arddeen Entertainment believes the planet to be composed of an endless forest of paper producing trees because they're producing an endless number of variant covers for each and every issue of the book they've produced to date. Five issues and each one has had no less than five variant covers. Not only is this marketing technique unfriendly to the planet and the environment, it's also unfriendly to comic book buyers at a time of economic hardship.

These guys are asking top dollar for their product and the only interest they seem to have in producing comic books is making as much money as inhumanly possible off what they perceive to be paper-crack addicted Fanboys. If there was a single shred of integrity remaining to this company they'd change their name to, Greed and Avarice Entertainment. I haven't seen such money grubbing since the early days of the Image label.

I bought the first four issues of this book in hopes that they'd settle down and ease up on the print runs and variant covers, but every time I visit their web site they're alredy hawking hardbound collections of the first four issues, included the over hyped New York comicon zero edition that I just get fed up and want nothing more to do with Arddeen Entertainment no matter how good their books are.

Corporate greed on the level displayed by these guys ruins the quality of their product and is comparable to spray painting graffiti on the Mona Lisa. Sorry, but with the economy the way it is right now I've got much better things to do with my money than line your excessively greedy pockets with it.

From this point forward I'll be waiting to pick these books up in bargain bins where every other over printed and over variant covered title winds up.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

R.E.B.E.L.S Bedard and Clarke

Vril Dox returns!

One of only two long run comic book series remaining in my collection today is L.E.G.I.O.N. which began its run in 1989 and ended in 1994. I always enjoyed this title and I still admire the series for the number of characters who were carefully shaped and molded for eventual starring roles in the D.C. universe. (Need I say anything other than Lobo?) Vril Dox was the main character in this series and for anyone who's never heard of him before he was the quintessential control freak and all around inconsiderate horse's ass. The only two things in the universe he had respect for were his own abilities and personal vision of how things "should" be. Everything and everyone else around him were seen as little more than raw materials and tools to be used as he saw fit to accomplish his personal goals. Vril Dox had many associates, but very few friends. I liked him.

To make a long column short, Vril Dox put together a mercenary police force that kept the peace over about eighty-five planets at it's height. L.E.G.I.O.N. was the story of this band of peace keepers, held together more by a mutual desire to keep Vril Dox in check than anything else, and their adventures throughout the galaxies under their protection. R.E.B.E.L.s is not a revitalization of the L.E.G.I.O.N series nor is it a continuation of it although it does indeed hearken back to the original epoch of that particular storyline. I've been rereading the original title, refreshing my memory of Vril Dox and trying to gleam a clue or two (If possible.) on just who it is that may have stolen control of L.E.G.I.O.N. away from him.

Which brings me to the story line overview...

Issue one opens with Vril Dox landing on Earth with a group of nasty bounty hunters hot on his intergalactic heels. It isn't long before he's managed to manipulate Supergirl into playing the role of unwitting bodyguard and maneuvering her into position in a plan only Vril is aware of. This is classic Vril Dox! No one ever knows what role they're playing in Vril's schemes until his machinations are completed and they're lying bruised and confused on the ground wondering just what the hell just happened to them. Issue one is like a fuse on a bottle rocket, it sets the eventual fireworks into motion without stealing the upcoming show.

Issue two explodes in a pyrotechnic display of lightning fast action and plot advancement. Supergirl is used and abused in a typical wham, bam, thank you, ma'am Vril Dox fashion that brilliantly foreshadows what is about to happen to the next female character he encounters in this new tale. By issue's end I knew what he was going to do, but I just couldn't look away. I won't spoil the moment for you if you haven't read it yet, but suffice it to say, "Be careful what you ask for around Vril Dox, cause you won't believe the sick and twisted way he gives it to you."

Two issues into this series so far and I'm hooked. Tony Bedard has shown an excellent grasp of Vril's personality and written a masterful story to this point and even though I'm not all that familiar with the artwork of Andy Clarke, I like what I see so far. I think this is a sleeper title this year and by the time September rolls around everyone will be looking for the early issues of this book.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My pull file...

Yeah, I'd do Hellboy. What of it?

As any comic book reader knows, Wednesday is the best day of the week. From the moment our eyes open on the very bestest day of the week our only thought is on what awaits us in our pull files at our local comic book retailer. I live for Wednesdays. Weekends are for alcoholics and sports fans. For me and my friends it's all about gathering around the big table as the new books are checked in and we share reviews and opinions about the previous week's offerings. Yeah, it's just how we roll. Anyway, each and everyone of the true aficionados keep what is known as a pull file. It's like a reservation in which you're guaranteed to have copies of particular titles pulled by the staff and held for you until you're able to visit your favorite comic book dealer and pick them up in person. If you're lucky, like me, you have a good relationship with a staff member who also pulls special releases or low print run books just in case you might wish to try something new and puts those in your pull file too. Here's a list of books I consider worth reading and always look forward to finding in my pull file.


Icon is a sub title under the Marvel banner and is home to their primarily creator owned projects. I collect two books from this line; Criminal and Incognito. Both books are produced by the same creative team and I don't think many better titles exist anywhere else in the industry.


I just finished a four part Sandman series entitled, The Dream Hunters. If you've never read a comic book this would be the series to start with. Comics like this are rare these days and you'll be hard pressed to find a better creative duo than that of Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell.

I just added a new title, R.E.B.E.L.S. to my pull file and if the first two issues are any indication the team of Tony Bedard and Andy Clarke are working on a winner. Issue one was like the fuse on a bottle rocket, it sparkled and set the stage for the fireworks to come, but issue two ignited the rocket and launched the story skyward. Vril Dox is back with a vengeance...

Dark Horse

Hellboy is just plain smoking right now. He's currently halfway through a story arc entitled, The Wild Hunt and so far I get the feeling this story just might be headed back to things first hinted at in an earlier two book series, Makoma. Something is brewing in this series and it's spinoff, B.P.R.D. and I can't wait to see what Mike Mignola's got up his sleeve.

The B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Psychic Research and Development) is another read I just can't wait for month to month. The Black Goddess is the name of the current story arc and you can just feel it building towards something extraordinary and I'm biting my nails to see what it is. Seriously, Mike Mignola is a genius of the horror genre and his work is getting better and better with every passing year. He's also surrounded himself with a very talented group of people like; Guy Davis, Richard Corben, John Arcudi, Duncan Fregredo and Scott Allie. (Yes I did just list an editor as a creative force.) If you're not reading Hellboy you're missing a master of the craft in his prime and you'll regret it someday. This guy is Jack Kirby good...

Is anyone else reading, The Cleaners? I'm not sure what's happening with this book just yet, but I like it.

Solomon Kane... The first story arc just completed and I'm already looking forward to the next one.


I just finished reading the final book of five in the, City of Dust series and am looking forward to this title becoming an ongoing book. Written by, Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) this is a post apocalyptic tale about one man's search for his place in a world stripped of imagination. It's dark, adult and maybe not a good book for the kiddies, but I liked it and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a damn good read.

That's a pretty good look at the kind of books I enjoy reading right now. I won't pay $3.99 for a run of the mill title or books involved in crossover after crossover event so there won't be a lot of Marvel titles in my pull file.

If you have any suggestions please be advised that offering them may subject you to ridicule. Nuff said...

Brubaker and Phillips, "Incognito"

Goodness with a capitol G!

Of all the titles in the Marvel catalog I read only two these days, both are by the same creative team and both are among the very best books being produced in the industry today. They are, Criminal and Incognito. I'll save a review of Criminal for another day and focus on Incognito this afternoon. First off, the balance between story and art work is perfect and, Icognito is a book I enjoy reading as much as I enjoy looking at. This is a title for grownups and I don't recommend it as appropriate for small children. That being said, I really think that's one of the reasons I like this book so very much. The story line is about a twin who watches his brother gunned down in the midst of a battle with police after a robbery effort goes terribly bad. He is offered a deal if he turns on the brains of the outfit he's working for which he readily accepts. He is then entered into the government's witness protection program.

This is a tale that will grab you firmly by the cojones and command your attention from the very first panel of the story. The colors used to create mood are lurid and psychedelic in intensity. I always feel as if I'm being assaulted by garish signs offering titillating XXX promises of nude girls and twisted sex acts. I know it's dirty and I shouldn't be going into that kind of shop, but its got me by the balls and I just can't help but enter a peep show booth for one quick glimpse of a forbidden world of cheap physical gratification. Yes, the artwork and the color schemes used to enhance it are just that visceral and enticing.

Ed Brubaker knows how to tell a story. He's one of those writers who knows how to make characters and the world they inhabit come alive without going into verbose descriptions of setting and character motivation. He knows how to keep it real too. The main character in Incognito is in spite of his super abilities little more than a thug. His task is to pull off the job rather than think about it. He is a muscle boy and there's not much effort to ennoble him whatsoever. You won't be bothered with rationalization and justifications here, this guy is just as liable to do whatever he does for beer and babes than for any other reason. He loves the fighting and he loves the thrill of the action. I shouldn't like the guy at all and I don't, but I can't help but be fascinated by the things he does. He's a like bug I'm watching under a magnifying glass. Eventually I'm going to focus the sun's rays on him until he lays in a writhing mass of smoking ruin, but in the meantime I 'm getting a kick out of watching him crawl all over the dead bird.

I know, so far I keep thinking, "If not for the calming grace of illegal drugs there go I." Reading Incognito is like sleeping with that freaky hottie of a crack whore where you have a thousand and one good reasons for not going anywhere near her, but you'll never be able to forget that one thing she did with her tongue in the bad place for the rest of your life. You know what I'm saying...

Hey, as long as my buddies and the wife never find out about it, and I ain't telling no one, what's the harm?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dark Horse

One of my favorite titles.

Dark Horse comics has been in the business of producing quality comics since nineteen eighty six. You'd think that after nearly twenty four years of surviving in an industry that's still dominated by the original big two of the industry, Marvel and D.C. they'd be a well respected name and well recognized for their achievements, but such is not the case. Why this is so is a mystery to me and no matter how hard I try to figure it out I never seem to arrive at a satisfactory answer. These guys put out a truly superior product in what I believe to be a truly unique format. Dark Horse is a master of the short run series. You won't find a title in their catalog running into the two and three hundred digits. Granted, "Dark Horse Presents" ran into the one hundred number, but it wasn't the same as a single character title running as long because the book showcased any number of characters during it's long run.

Dark Horse has introduced some fine characters to the comic book world. My favorite has to be Hellboy followed closely by B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Psychic Research and Development) and the various books that relate to them. I'm always carried back to the Sunday newspaper comic section and characters like Steve Canyon when I read these these books and I feel like I've gone back in time to a better day. Hellboy and B.P.R.D. are earth bound books. There aren't any space battles involving fleets of massive battle stars and cosmic heroes saving the galaxy from evil hordes of space demons. You will find creatures of a subterranean origin and the remnants of races from the earliest moments in the creation of the earth and mankind. Oh yes, there will be monsters.

Creator, writer and illustrator, Mike Mignola has grown and matured almost as much in the years he and his creation, Hellboy have traveled the realms of myth, world folklore and Jungian archetypes in his abilities as an artist and storyteller. I never cease to marvel at his ability to dip his creative brush into the paintbox of well known story lines and produce fresh tales at the same time both familiar in origin yet new in color and context. His work is a continual reminder of what I like most about Dark Horse comics. The artist's story is always more important than the creation of a new character to market for the next ten or twenty years.

At Dark Horse it doesn't matter if a story is four books long or a thirty issue series. Creative integrity matters more than creative marketing and it shows in the way their books are crafted and placed into the marketplace. I look through my collection of Dark Horse books and the diversity of stories and artistic styles never ceases to impress me. Books like: White Like She, Egon, The Hammer, Zombie World, Amazon and new tales like The Cleaners or Solomon Kane have created a world of rich variety in which anything is possible at any given moment instead of a continuity line in which characters are forced to conform to existing time and story arcs in what are more often than not contrived and convoluted ways rather than natural and creative manners. Stories are fresh and interesting because they're not forced to extremes by a character that's been around for decades and yet is still a teenager or has faced every arch-enemy in every imaginable situation for every possible reason or motivation.

Dark Horse isn't afraid to let a story end or a character fade away. They seem to trust the artistic communities ability to produce fresh material instead of forcing it to breath life into old characters that should have been allowed to die years ago. I mean, come on, the radioactive spider bite may have given Peter Parker incredible physical powers, but did it make him immortal too? Don't get me wrong, I loved Spider-man when I was a teenager, but as I've matured I've watched his story become more juvenile and fantastical than I'm capable of accepting as an adult.

I grew up on the big two comic book companies. I loved anything Marvel and characters like Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, The Hulk and Captain America were more than good friends to me, they were role models to look up to and faithful companions to me no matter how many times my family moved back and forth across the country. These characters were consistent and familiar to me no matter how strange and alien any new neighborhood appeared to my young adolescent eyes. Now a days I pick up my old favorites only to find out that in an attempt to squeeze out a few more years and a lot more money from them their entire story lines have been distorted into aliens wearing their skins as disguises or secret clues revealing a true purpose and nature none of us ever guessed at or their life stories revealed as a complete sham because of the true evil beings in the background pulling and manipulating strings they never knew existed.

It does not entertain or satisfy me because I recognize it for the great pile of steaming excrement it has become. Having run out of believable and plausible story ideas for characters that have continued on long after their allotted shelf life has expired, the big two have turned to the bizarre and the extreme in a desperate attempt to keep their readers attention. There is nothing fresh in their content, it is purely absurd. Dark Horse keeps me entertained with new and challenging material on a monthly basis. I can't recommend them highly enough to the new reader or the old collector looking for something fresh to revitalize a waning appetite for comic book goodness. Remember, Dark Horse and Hellboy for satisfaction guaranteed reading, you won't be disappointed.