Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Hey, buddy. Wanna buy a cheap comic?"

Adult yes, but is it mature?

Now admittedly I've been out of the comic game for awhile and I've missed some things, but I've also been a part of the comic game for a long time and I remember some things too. As I reengage and work to catch up with the comic book landscape I've noticed some significant changes, some which I consider to be positive and some of which I consider to be negative. One important change I've noticed is the effort to have comic books recognized as a serious and legitimate literary art form. It's become very important for comic books to be seen as more grown up and adult and as much as I applaud this effort I think its having an unintended consequence that's hurting the industry and killing sales in the marketplace. Comic books just aren't fun anymore.

Everywhere I look its Noir and brutality, sex and infidelity. If the language in comic books doesn't offend you the amount of blood and savagery will. Comic books may indeed be more adult and graphic than they've ever been, but there isn't a lot of fun in them these days. And for all of the warning labels plastered across the front of the books there isn't a lot of maturity between the covers. Oh, there are plenty of breasts, barely clad women and f-bombs dropping like cluster bombs in Afghanistan and even though this type of content may be considered adult in content it's certainly far from mature in nature. And it certainly isn't fun because its so hard to share them with anyone.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be embarrassed to leave my comic books laying open around the house. Never did I think I'd have to wait until my son turns eighteen before we could sit together and read a comic book. And I never thought I'd have to explain to my son that I read comics for the articles inside and not the pictures of half naked women plastered throughout them. By the time my son's old enough to appreciate my comic collection he won't have any interest in them because we weren't able to share them due to the graphic nature of the content inside them. It's not fun not being able to share something I love so much with my son simply because a group of young writers in the industry right now can't seem to tell a good story without liberal doses of nudity and vulgar language.

How about bringing a little fun back to comics. How about writing some Batman stories I can sit down and read with my youngster. How about writing some stories my youngster can read without filling his vocabulary with words like shit, fuck, Hell, and damn. (And don't give me any crap about going to Disney books if I don't like it. That's just a stupid and simplistic rebuttal.)

I'm tired of reading comic books and feeling dirty afterwords. I'm tired of having to keep comic books out of my child's hands instead of putting them into them as a way of encouraging him to read. The future of the industry is dying because so many of us who are parents can't develop and nurture the same love for comic books we knew as children because they're not appropriate for young readers anymore. Young kids aren't reading comics because they lack interest, they're not reading them because they're being discouraged from doing so by parents like me. Parents who grew up with and still maintain a love for something that is now completely inappropriate to share with our sons and daughters.

It's time for the comic book industry to grow up. It's time to ease up on the adult content of nudity and course language and bring back the more mature elements like good story telling and language suitable for anyone in the whole family. In the meantime I'll continue to encourage my child to read anything but comic books. That saddens me, it really does.

Friday, January 29, 2010

There's no place like home...

Baseball cards and comics!

2312 E. Dorothy Lane
Kettering, Ohio 45420
(937) 294-4900

It was the day the music died for those of us who'd been traveling to the Bookie Parlor for so many years in search of our weekly comic book fix. I'll never forget the day when an anxious knot of us gathered outside Hal's establishment and for the life of us couldn't imagine why his shop was locked up tight and dark inside on a Wednesday afternoon. On a Wednesday!? We waited. And we waited. And Hal never showed. Not that day or any day thereafter. Hal had died.

Eventually everybody began to accept the reality that the Bookie Parlor wasn't going to open and conversation inevitably turned towards alternative supply sources for the acquisition of our comic book fix. That's when a young man turned to the group and said, "There's a little store down the street at Dorothy Lane and Woodman called, Mavericks." And that's how I started a nearly twenty-five year relationship with the store where I still buy my comics today.

Although Mavericks has been in operation since 1981 I tend to believe that it's continued success began when current owner, Jack Poland took over the store in the late eighties. Jack is a throwback to the days of the "mom and pop shop" where customers were treated as members of a family rather than interchangeable cogs in the great machine of commerce. You'll always get as warm a welcome from Jack whether you spend a hundred dollars or simply window shop.
Jack brought heart to Mavericks and a love for comics as deep and abiding as the passions of the most fervent of reader. His knowledge of character and story lines is second to no one's and talking comics with him is always a joy. But the one thing I like about Jack the most is his love for kids. I don't think I've ever seen a youngster with any sum of money in his pocket less than a nickel walk out of Mavericks without something that didn't have his eyes aglow with wonder. Jack Poland nurtures and encourages children in ways I wish more of us took the time to do with our own sons and daughters. I love taking my son to Mavericks and I love introducing him to a part of the family I hope he'll enjoy spending time with for many years to come.

Just as one single ingredient doesn't make a successful dish so Jack Poland isn't the only reason for the popularity of Mavericks. Jack has surrounded himself with quality people who are as enthusiastic about comic books and collectibles as he is himself. Between the minds of Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Matt Brassfield and Glenn Mason I don't believe there is a single topic from comic books to Magic the Gathering to sports memorability that this brain trust can't help you with. I trust these individuals to make recommendations for my pull file and that's about the highest compliment as a comic book reader I can give them. (They always seem to suggest something new and interesting instead of pushing something commercial upon me.)

Mavericks is more than just a store where I buy my comics, it is the home of my friends. Every Wednesday is a family get together where everyone in attendance comes together to share in the camaraderie that only those who share a common passion can know. Yes, we do love our comics, but we also love this homey shop and the good people who keep it going year after year. If you're looking for a comic home, I'd suggest giving Mavericks a try. We'd love having you join the family.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don't marsh my mellow, Dude...

And the truth will set you flee...

One of my favorite Dark Horse titles in 2009 was the Hernandez brother's, Citizen Rex. It was a black and white title that took me back to the days of my youth where most of my favorite characters were of the underground variety: Captain Pissgums, Wonder Wart Hog, Fritz the Cat and Cheech Wizard. Man, you sure don't find many comics like those in the mainstream market today...

Or so I thought until I sat down to read Scott Allie's, Exurbia. Set in a world whose inhabitants are more likely closer to their television sets than the people around them, writer Scott Allie weaves a complex tale of one man's wounded spirit and his eventual redemption with the help of a rodent messiah.

Disillusioned and disenfranchised slacker Gage Wallace finds himself thrown into the crucible of self analysis and change when his world is turned upside down and he suddenly finds himself a hunted criminal on the lam accused of crimes he did not commit. During his flight across the mean streets of Exurbia Gage relives an incident from his past that scarred his conscious leading him to give up the good fight and surrender to the apathy so prevalent in the city around him. Dealing with his past issues allows him to grow beyond them and in the end return to the one thing that brings to his life a true sense of meaning and purpose.

Sporting a cast of characters including Brenda, the girlfriend, Nor and Zero, the dynamic duo of boredom and self absorption and a rat who may or may not be a messiah, Exurbia presents a madcap and sometimes scathing examination of the culture of culture and the electronic medium upon which it plays out in our daily lives. It is a satisfying and entertaining read and the Rat's final "answer" left me chuckling for hours.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dark Horse Spoiler Alert!

You saw it here first...

Words simply can't convey the level of excitement that coursed through my entire body when I received this gem in the mail. I swooned, I trembled, I think I may even have done something in my pants I hadn't done since the night of my honeymoon. (My first honeymoon.) Just look at the cover! Is that the coolest thing since William Shatner or what? And the (Censored) stories inside are awesome.

Let me back up for a minute. I guess when you get all loud and proud about your feelings for the many fine people and the wonderful products they work so hard to produce at Dark Horse, they take notice and aren't shy about letting you know how appreciated your words are to them. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox to find the enclosed copy of the AVP Special Edition Hardbound Book containing the stories (Censored) and (Censored).

Yes, I may have been asked not to scan, photograph or publish images to my blog, but c'mon, you don't just send out goodies like the one pictured above and expect exuberant fans like myself to be quiet about it. I'm telling everyone! "Look what I got!"

And if you haven't seen it yet; you're gonna love it when you open your copy of AVP Special Edition Video Game and find this awesome little book inside. It really is very cool and damn if it isn't a brand new kind of Dark Horse product I'd like to see a lot more of...

Thank you good people at Dark Horse for the wonderful surprise. I'll be sure to continue blogging about what I believe to be the very best publisher of comic books in the marketplace today.

I hope to see many others in the blogosphere joining me.

Until then, Make Mine Dark Horse!

Friday, January 22, 2010

And I'm gonna make Hanna Montana my ho...

"Sup, Bitches?"

What's the real message here? Is this Disney's way of saying they're not Mickey Mousing around anymore? Is this the new team logo for the Marvel/ Disney franchise, Deadpool flanked by Snow White and Cinderella? Or is this Marvel's way of showing us what could have been if only we'd bought more of their product line?

And what's up with the stupid headband bearing his name on it? Is that a souvenir from a recent trip to a certain theme park?

"So Deadpool, what are you going to do now that Disney has completed it's purchase of Marvel?"

"I'm going to Disneyland!"

I don't care how anyone tries to spin this fiasco, it's one of the worst promotions I've ever witnessed. The only thing stupider I heard today was the new Minnesota Viking fight song written by Prince.

(And I'm starting to think I know who provided him with his inspiration...)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Homegrown goodness.

Don't let the name fool you.

Every Wednesday I make the weekly pilgrimage to my local comic book store, Mavericks in Dayton, Ohio to pick up the latest releases of my favorite comic books. One of the many things that keep me returning to this shop is the nice selection of small press comic books they keep on hand. Often times while waiting for the store's shipment of mainstream books to arrive I'll spend some time perusing the small press selection of titles looking for something to catch my eye. That's how I stumbled across my first issue of, Scrap.

From the moment I started reading this book I was immediately drawn in to the world of Scrap. Barely more than a large crater, the skies overhead filled with electrical storms (Believed by some to be portals.) whose appearance always heralds a rain of debris from the sky it is a harsh and hostile environment. The general population is divided into two groups, the Foragers who live within the walls of Centre City and, the Scrappers who live in and search the piles of debris for salvageable materials .

The first story arc revolves around Il'Eigha and the Ceraf who first attacks and then establishes a symbiotic bond with the young girl. Il'Eigha once lived within the relative safety of Centre City until circumstances forced her out into the debris fields to begin a new life as a scrapper. Taking pity upon a child younger than her own tender years she is herself attacked by the same Ceraf, (A creature who feeds upon energy sources to sustain itself.) after it drains the boy of his life energies. The ensuing battle between Il'Eigha and the Ceraf, first for her very life and then for her own individual identity and self awareness is a compelling story.

I'd almost forgotten all about the harsh world of Scrap and the struggle of Il'Eigha to find balance in the symbiotic relationship she now shared with the Ceraf. I 'd never seen another issue on the shelves of Mavericks until this past Wednesday when lo and behold there it was, issue number two. I grabbed the single copy available and joyfully added it to the stack of goodies I' d already gathered and couldn't wait to get it home.

Now, the creative team of Cris Martin/pencils, Cris Hoskins/inks and grays, and Brandon (BJay) Johnson/writer may not be as familiar to you as the creative teams behind such popular titles as, Darkest Night, Siege, Batman or Thor, but their efforts are no less creative or entertaining to read. I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two issues of Scrap and will continue to follow this book as long as they continue to produce it. Everything about this book is good, except for the regularity with which it appears on store shelves, but as good as this title is I can certainly find it in my heart to forgive such a minor flaw.

In an age where the "Big Two" are more often than not the "Big Pee-Yew" and I find myself turning to other sources for comic book pleasure, Scrap is a delightful find. The book is unique and a very refreshing change from the endless monotony of crossover events and "Rainbow Bright" superheroes that seem to dominate the mainstream landscape today. And it is a homegrown product made right here in Dayton, Ohio my very own hometown.

Every week I talk to fellow comic book readers who do nothing but complain about the sorry state of the comic books they're spending their hard earned dollars on. When I ask them why they're still buying the titles I always get the same response, "I've been collecting the book my whole life and I just can't stop picking up issues now!"

That's no reason to buy a book! Look, I've been around long enough to learn that just because you've been doing something stupid, doesn't mean you have to keep on doing it. There are alternatives to the "Big Two" line of comic books. You don't have to keep buying bad books just because you've been doing so for a long time now. You can try something new. I'd suggest, Scrap. It's a smart choice...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Following my muse...

It was probably just the wind...

If I was a camp counselor gathered around the final campfire on the last night before the kids were to leave for home in the morning and I wanted them to have that one magical moment they'd never forget for the rest of their lives, I'd ask Scott Allie to tell a ghost story. I close my eyes and I can hear the sounds of a crackling fire and crickets chirping in the night. I can hear the voice of Scott as he begins a tale with, "It was a night where the mist upon the moors seemed to writhe and coil around our legs like a living beast..."

Wherever he'd take the tale from there I'd know for a certainty that by the time he reached the end of it the kids would be taking home the story they'd never forget. That is the magic of Scott Allie. The way he tells a story captures the imagination and holds you spellbound from start to finish. And he does it in that quiet voice that has you holding your breath and hanging upon every word. He doesn't horrify or terrorize. He doesn't send you screaming into the night. He simply fascinates and mesmerizes his audience with the well crafted tale.

In an age where so many seem to believe that bigger and grander is better, Scott Allie weaves wondrous magic from the simplest of threads. And he does it in every story he tells. From the scraggiest of moors to the humble streets of Exurbia Scott always manages to lift the most ordinary of moments into the realm of poignancy. Don't believe me? Go here and read his wonderful piece on Myspace Dark Horse Presents. Go ahead, I'll wait...

Nice, huh? A return for deposit bottle. The simplest of items become the vehicles for the most profound of adventures. Scott has a real gift for it. He tells our stories; the tales of the everyday Joe. And the way he does it makes our tales as wondrous as any space opera to be found in the world of comics today. He makes me feel good about us when so much else only seems designed to make me feel bad about us.

What does this have to do with Solomon Kane you ask? I'm not sure, but sometimes a writer just has to follow wherever the muse leads him and tonight she beckoned me into the deep waters of one fine writer, Mr. Scott Allie. Now go enjoy the beginning of a good scary story, read Solomon Kane, Death's Black Riders part one. And when you've finished with that, go out and buy Exurbia the TPB. I think you'll like that too...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Go, Speed Racer...

"Gentlemen, start your engines."

Action is not the only ingredient in a good story. Right now comic book plot lines remind me less of good stories to read than they do Nascar races to watch. Every book begins with all the racers lined up with their engines revving and waiting for the flag to drop. As soon as the flag drops they begin frantically racing around the track jostling for position while doing all they can to eliminate the competition from getting to the finish line first. Every now and then an announcer says something like, "There's been bad blood between these two since the Talladega incident last season." and that adds motivation and drama to the spectacle.

I dare say you could take any Nascar race, assign character names (IE: Hulk, Batman, Thor, Superman or any combination of heroes for the team concept.) to each of the cars on the television screen and whatever crashes, bumps, scrapes and lead changes occur during the event, convert them to action panels in a comic book story board and you've got yourself a "Major Crossover Event" that can run for twenty or thirty issues. There's just that little of difference between the two forms of entertainment right now. Change the name of the event, slap a new coat of paint on the cars and they're off again. Going round and round and round in circles.

Every time monthly sales figures are released the numbers speak for themselves. More and more readers are walking away from the spectacle of watching the vehicles go round in circles. The big explosions, the fights between drivers and the spectacle of the fatal crash have run their course and no matter how well announcers like Johns and Bendis narrate the race, the spectacle has become repetitive and boring. Excuses aren't changing this fact...

The real reason for the decline of the comic industry is that (for the moment) the kids are running the house and no matter how cool things look to each other inside the walls, those of us standing outside and watching aren't buying it. Figuratively and literally. What the kids need to learn (and they need to start learning in a hurry) is that their demographic of "cool" is far too narrow in scope to sustain one house let alone an entire industry. You can only say, "Your opinion doesn't matter or you're not who we're trying to reach." for so long until your entire audience is gone.

You may not care about my opinion, but you sure as hell should care about my dollars because if I'm not willing to part with them for my own comic books, I'm sure as hell not going to part with them for my kids books either. I've got much better things I'd like to do with my children than watch your vehicles go round and round in circles.

Besides, I've got enough quality comics stored away they won't be lacking good reading material for a very very long time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Could you make that a double?

The Savage Sword?

This is the kind of story I've been waiting for since Dark Horse first announced the nine book series of "one shots". Hands down this was the very best book of the series so far and it couldn't have come from a more unexpected title. Conan? The barbarian? The savage sword guy? No way! And yet here I sit having just finished one of the best books I've read so far in 2010.

Darick Robertson's illustrations were as well rendered as his story. He gets Conan and his portrayal of the barbarian and the brutality of his methodology were spot on. There was violence, blood and gore aplenty, but it didn't overshadow an intelligent and thoughtful tale. I found it remarkably refreshing to read a comic book in which the words, mature and adult weren't used as licenses to draw as many pairs of naked breasts as possible while dropping the F-bomb in every other sentence.

When I'm looking for a book to hand someone and say,"Here, this is the Dark Horse difference." this is the one I'll be reaching for. Smart, sophisticated and capable of telling a great story without having to drag twenty-five other books along for the ride. I've really enjoyed the one shots and I'd very much like to see them become a regular part of the Dark Horse line.

Conan, huh? I may just have to try another shot...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bringing it back home...

Better with every read...

After being snowbound for several days my wife and I decided it was time to shovel the walk, clear a path to the car, remove the white stuff covering it's windows and journey out into the world to resupply our dwindling larder. On the way home from said journey we stopped at the comic shop to resupply my reading stockpile in case the snows returned.

As I perused the well picked over remnants from the previous Wednesday I didn't find anything that particularly caught my eye. It saddens me that its so hard to pick up a comic book these days without finding myself somewhere in the midst of a major event crossover. If I spend twenty bucks for a stack of comics I'd like to get a complete story arc in there somewhere. Realizing such was not going to be the case on this day I moved on to the trade paperbacks. After dismissing any number of lackluster offerings I ran across the TPB for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips mini-series, Incognito.

Incognito was one of my favorite reads in 2009. From beginning to end it pulled me in and kept me coming back for more with a gritty storyline and a fascinating cast of characters. Its one of those pieces I can share with friends and say, "This is why I read comic books." and not have to hang my head in embarrassment. This was a trade paperback that met my two biggest requirements when considering the worth of a TPB purchase, it collected a truly great story arc and would keep the original comic books out of the hands of my two year old and comic challenged friends. I bought it...

Later that evening I sat down in my favorite reading chair and started reading the book. I was tired from a long day of entertaining a two year old and hours of snow removal so I figured I'd only read a part or two and then go to bed. The next thing I knew I was turning the last page and wishing there was another book waiting for me so I could continue reading on. I was really caught by surprise. Not so much by the fact that I enjoyed the story, after all I'd already read the series once before so the element of original surprise was no longer a factor. It was something more and I soon began leafing back through the book breaking down the characters and the milieu that framed them and their conflicts.

First off the story begins in "Anytown" U.S.A.. Not a small rural farm community in the middle of Tumbleweed, Arizona or a major metropolitan city Like New York, New York. Incognito started off in a city a lot like the one I live in, Dayton, Ohio. Which may not be the worst place to live in America, but it certainly goads one on lackluster days to look for bigger and greener pastures in which to prove one's mettle. I understood the town where Ed Brubaker began his tale. I'd grown up in it. It wasn't like trying to identify with a place where Ma and pa worked the fields and apple pies cooled on window sills. This origin story was outdated when I was a kid...

Even more than the location of the story it is historical context that pulls me into the tale. This is not a post world war environment where the threat of the red menace threatens to destroy every thing good and decent in the world including our very own democracy. It is not about the danger of nuclear energy and the bomb. Incognito is set in aworld where the real battle is for economic superiority and the power of wealth. Genetic engineering, science and technology are the agents of change, not the accidental vagaries of atomic explosions, radioactive insect bites or serums. I can relate to the milieu because the issues in it are the ones I watch on television news programs almost every night.

Zack Overkill used to enjoy a high-powered career until the organization decided it was time to phase him out and replace him with new blood. Suddenly finding himself working a meaningless dead end job far beneath his skill level left him feeling unfulfilled and depressed. Now why does that seem so familiar to me? Oh yeah, its a lot like my own since the great recession began. I understand Zack Overkill. He's not the sharpest tool in the box perhaps, but Zack once knew a life that made him feel vital and alive. Hey, I know this guy and that's when it dawned on me...

Incognito is such a good story because it is so easy to relate to. It doesn't happen in some far flung galaxy or some inter-dimensional parallel universe. It happens where I live and work, right here in Anytown U.S.A.. It doesn't involve high tech body armor sporting the latest in micro-miniaturized weaponry. It isn't about teams of super-powered beings invulnerable to almost every known threat in the known universe. It isn't about living in luxurious secret headquarters or private schools. Its a story about a schmuck in a dead end job who dreams of bygone glory days. I relate to this guy.

If the truth be known, I just don't care about the cosmic coming and goings of Hulks, Avengers, Lanterns, Skrulls or Norman Osborn's war on Asgard. Their cowboy and Indian stories have nothing in common with my daily struggles. It is simply too hard to suspend my system of disbelief long enough to tolerate the absurd foundations of their stories let alone accept them. They are no longer from or of my world. They are aliens and strangers to me and the further they journey from my world the more difficult it is for me to justify spending my hard earned money on the many, many books they expect me to buy just to watch their sagas unfold.

Ed Brubaker brings it all back down to Earth. He simplifies things. His stories are our stories and not the caped and cowled ones of the super-powered beings who have nothing in common with us. Times are tough in our world and they're tough in the stories of rough and tumble characters like Zack Overkill. Like him the most important thing in our days is survival. Its a story I relate to and somehow Ed manages to tell it in six parts instead of twenty-six parts like some other writers. I like that...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

After all, there are limits...

Down, dirty and sexy up to a point...

Don't get me wrong, I like this title (Greek Street) and have enjoyed the story to date and hope the book continues for many issues to come. That being said, I have to admit to being just a little bit cheesed by issue seven and the promotional teasers leading up to its release. (See titillating quote below.)

"While Chantel the chorus girl agonizes over whether she should take a more active role in the story, Eddie and Sandy are forced to play starring roles in a monstrous porn movie."

Cool!? Monstrous porn movie!? I don't think I've ever heard of such a thing, but what the hell, my curiosity's piqued.

So let's get right to the story so far as related by our sinuously writhing seductive pole dancer. Eddie, the protagonist of story arc number one has searched out his long lost mother, engaged in sexual coitus with her and then killed her afterwords in a drunken rage. Shortly thereafter he attempted to carve his own dick off (His words people.) while wallowing in a tortured miasma of self loathing and guilt. He winds up being lured into the den of an attention starved gangster's moll who does everything shy of hooking him up to a slow drip I.V. bottle of Viagra in a failed attempt to get her sexual groove on with him. (Eddie just can 't seem to get it up.)

Making a long story short, the old bag passes out drunk and being the stand up kinda guy he is, Eddie goes wandering about the mansion looking for something to steal. In the process of casing the joint he encounters the old bat's daughter and in a whirlwind courtship lasting all of thirty or forty seconds they consummate their new found attraction. Shortly thereafter they are on the road hitching a ride to only the Muse knows where.

Now cut to the end of issue six where Eddie and Sandy (The drunken old bat's daughter.) are luxuriating in the after glow of a big phat fatty of the chronic. (We're talking the s**t that killed both Elvis and his alien love child.) In walks a scantily-clad-busty-babe wielding a knife in one hand and a hand held video camera in the other. In no uncertain terms she informs the star-crossed lovers that the bill has come due for the hospitality they've been shown and its time to pay up. After a little bit of the old,, dice and slice persuasion on Eddie he decides it might be best if he and Sandy just play along and get the payment completed as soon as possible. And cut, fade to black and we're at the cliff hanger waiting with baited breath for issue seven.

(See again titillating promotional quote above.)

So issue seven finds us back in the studio waiting for the start of the "monstrous" porn film. Once again Eddie is performing below expectations and the scantily clad, knife wielding director is not happy at all. After a few not so subtle threats Eddie begins to make a move towards Sandy.

Suddenly Sandy is up in the face of the see-through-teddy wearing director speaking in tongues, prophesying and carrying on all crazy like until without warning, or a wielding of her knife in the least of threatening manner, the director gives the old, "Cut, that's a wrap for the day and we're done."

What the f**K!? That's it? The only monstrous thing about this porn film is the huge letdown.

I mean, I understand we're dealing with the potential violation of a fifteen year old girl (Captured on film no less.) and god knows the last thing D.C. comics needs right now is to bring down the wrath of the Christian Conservative community across the land in a frothing boycott of anything and everything bearing the D.C. label, but come on. Where was this consideration of moral standards when Sandy was in the midst of getting plumbed by Eddie in the upstairs bedroom while her drunken bag of a mother was passed out on the floor downstairs? Where was this consideration of community standards when Eddie was crossing state lines with an underage piece of tail? Does D.C. condone the transportation of minors across state lines for illegal purposes? Do they support the the use of minors in porn films? Are they supporting the use of illegal drugs?

If the answer is no, then why use the possibility of "monstrous sexual porn" with an underage girl as the teaser for the next issue? It was lurid and suggestive... It may have even crossed the line into sleazy.

It was a great-big-hot-steaming-pile of B.S. and as much as I like this book I was really disappointed with this moment in it. It was gratuitous and unnecessary to the development or movement of the story. It was pure and simple, sexploitation. I'm disappointed...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Healthy Choices...

Align Center
Satisfying and low fat!

Going lean seems to be as much a movement right now as going green. Counting calories, carbs, grams of fat and sugar are becoming an important part of a healthy lifestyle. With that in mind I asked my team of researchers here at Dirk's Comic Book Corner to examine my comic book diet to make sure I'm making healthy choices. Here's some of the things I learned.

1. The average Super-sized Crossover event contains nearly 16,000 grams of saturated fat, 170,000 calories and nearly two pounds of processed sugars. This would explain why issues one through three of a crossover event provide an initial increase in energy and excitement followed by the inevitable crash and feelings of event fatigue by issues fifteen and sixteen.

Compare this to the healthy choice of a B.P.R.D. six issue mini-series which contains only 12 grams of fat, 150 calories and only 3 grams of sugar. (As an added bonus my experts confirmed that an ectoplasmic character like Johann Kraus contains zero grams of fat!) Not only does a B.P.R.D. mini-series provide an initial lift of energy in issues one through three there is no crash or feelings of event fatigue in issues four through six.

When you read the labels and compare the facts it becomes clear that not only is a six issue B.P.R.D. mini-series a better choice, it is the healthy one too.

But wait, there's more. By choosing the healthy choice there's also room for a delicious Dark Horse one shot! (Always tasty and satisfying.)

If you're like me and looking to start the new year by breaking old habits and creating a healthier lifestyle, there's no better place to begin than by adding a little B.P.RD. to your comic book diet. Trust me, you'll feel better for it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 and time to take a look at the pull file...

What, you were expecting Spiderman?

A new year is upon us and since most of the short run books that were a major part of my pull list have run their course it is time to take a look at the core titles in my pull file and perhaps see if there's anything of interest I might consider adding or subtracting to it.

B.P.R.D. I can't imagine not reading this title right now. 1947 was as good as a comic book can get and I can't wait to see what new directions Mike Mignola and his merry band of co-creators have in store for this band of characters.

Hellboy Everything foretold about the future of Hellboy is coming to pass right in front of my awed eyeballs. Destiny is being fulfilled, but will it be one so many hope to manipulate towards their own ends or will Hellboy at long last free himself from the shackles of predestination and set off on a new path of his own making? Bring it on!

R.E.B.E.L.S. Blackest Night is coming to an end and with it the intrusion will too pass and Tony Bedard can return to crafting one of the most enjoyable reads of 2009. Be gone foul Lanterns! Return to your rainbow bright worlds and leave good characters to their own devices. I really like this book... (It will be nice to have it back in 2010.)

Criminal Yeah, I'm a bad boy. A very bad, bad boy... Only this time it isn't Wonder Woman and her magic lasso in my fantasies. This time its gangster molls and back alley bars with strippers and carnal trysting where the climax might peak in gunfire and possible death. These are big boy tales with grownup themes and adult illustrations. Sometimes the stories are so good, I have to have two cigarettes afterwords...

The Unwritten Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune...

Greek Street He got drunk and did what with his mama!? Then he killed her!? And you're telling me the story only gets weirder from there. No way! You're telling me the whole thing is narrated by a stripper? Dude, I got a wife and kid. I'm not sure I should be reading this book being a family man and all. Based on a classic you say. Well, I guess its alright if you say its based on a classic...

Well, that's about it. Remember, I'm on a twenty dollar a week budget. I do like to leave a little budgetary space for the occasional miniseries so I'm pretty picky about what I add to the pull file.

I'm already looking at Solomon Kane and of course, there's that one shot Conan that looks pretty tasty...

I have a feeling its going to be an interesting year.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Simply the best Science Fiction film of all time.

Move over George Lucas, there's a new sheriff in town. With all due respect to George Lucas who produced three wonderful Star Wars movies, the science fiction genre has just been taken to heights he never imagined possible. This was not just the very best science fiction movie I've ever seen, it was perhaps one of the finest films period I've ever seen. Okay, let's get started...

The special effects can't be ignored so I'll start with them first. There's never been 3D effects like this ever produced. I've never been pulled into a world as completely as I was Pandora. Every single aspect from the diversity of flora and fauna down to the tiniest insect was rendered with perfect attention to detail. Yes, there were a couple of, "Hey, look what I can do." moments, but they don't take over the entire movie. The special effects enhance the film without being the star of it. Unlike so many movies these days (Star Trek and Speed Racer) where storyline, plot and characterization are completely disregarded in favor of the computer generated awesomeness of the spectacular effect, Avatar tells a wonderful story.

If you truly want to get the most out of the Avatar storyline I'd suggest reading Robert Heinlein's, Stranger In a Stranger Land before seeing the movie. Stranger In a Strange Land is one of my favorite science fiction reads of all times. Avatar echos many of the ideas from Heinlein's book beginning with nesting and being an eggling all the way to grokking in fullness and being becoming one with the old ones when you pass from this plane of existence into the next. Avatar wasn't just a movie for me, it was a sharing of water and a spiritual experience. James Cameron is not just a film maker, he is a water brother. I'll be shocked if this film wasn't a foreshadowing of a film we can expect to see from him in the very near future. "Stranger In a Strange Land" a film by James Cameron...

I went to see this movie with a friend of mine named, Julie. The two of us are pretty tough birds and we're more likely to wonder why the hunter didn't use a bigger gauge gun when killing Bambi's mother than to get all mushy over the suddenly orphaned fawn. In fact, if memory serves me correctly, we were Googling for venison recipes and emailing them back and forth on our I-phones when saw the movie, Bambi. When Julie and headed out to the theater all we were interested in seeing was the 3D technology. Tears were the further things from our minds and the most unexpected when we both turned to look at each other with tear stained faces.

This movie engages the heart, mind of soul of the viewer as well as the senses. Don't get me wrong, Avatar has plenty of pule pounding action sequences, but once again, they enhance the story rather than command the focus of the movie. Pardon me while I have a movie moment here. "You're not the only one with a gun, Bitch." Yeah, this movie rocks...

This movie is for those of us not ashamed to be called, Tree Hugger. And the tree in this movie is the mother of all trees. Avatar gives balls to the Green movement and brings pride to those who've stood in the corner of the environmentalists waiting for our fighter to land the big punch. This movie changes hearts, lives and minds. It is a wake up call to the spirit and a call to action of the community of man. The message of Avatar is loud and clear, you can only take for so long before the bill comes due. We've taken a lot of energy from this world of ours, now its time to start paying the bill. There are more important decisions to be made than which pair of designer jeans are the best or which light beer best defines our character. There's nothing wrong in standing up to those who believe such things are weighty issues and saying, "Hey, you're full of shit. Sit the f**k down and shut up." Avatar is a wonderful movie with an important and legitimate message. Go see this film. Do it now. You'll thank me...