Thursday, December 08, 2005

Coolest Old People

So here's a top ten list of the coolest old people that are still alive. I think they pretty much speak for themselves, and I'm too lazy to make with the 'splainy. Readysetgogogadgethotpants!

10. Hugh Hefner
9. Bob Barker
8. Stan Lee
7. Carol Channing
6. Kurt Vonnegut
5. Sean Connery
4. Alan Alda
3. Adam West
2. William Shatner
1. Abe Vigoda

Honorable Mentions: Michael Caine,
Clint Eastwood, Gerald Ford, Angela Lansbury, Carl Reiner, Andy Rooney, Elvis.

Friday, November 18, 2005


It's later. Here's more.

All-Star Superman, simply put, is brilliant. Grant Morrison just instinctively *gets* it. Buy it now.

P.S. See what I did with the title there? Utilizing the acronym of the comic and relating it to the name of Morrison's band, ass2ass? No? Well, I thought it was funny...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

This Just In...

All-Star Superman = Awesome.

More later.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Greatest Thing of All Time

One guy playing a jaunty tune and reading out 700 hobo names for an hour.

It's utterly brilliant.

(And is that 'Big Rock Candy Mountain' he's strumming?)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

Best Ye Be Talkin' Like a Pirate, or It Be the Plank for Yeh!

Avast, ye land-lubbers. 'Tis the 19th of Septembarrr, and so it be Talk Like a Pirate Day! Yarrr. And if ye don't wish to be walkin' the plank or swabbin' the poop deck or fetchin' me bunghole, ye be wantin' to pay attention to me pimpin' this'n following comical novelette: Scurvy Dogs!

This be true pirate literature, it be. Also it be hilarious and zany romp about pirates and hobos and monkeys and Portuguese lepers and pop culture references. Arr.

Buy it here, but be lookin' at their site first, matey. Truly, it be the funniest comic book evarrr made.

Gyarr. It's a pirate's life for me.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I Will Write Aquaman for Free (DC, I'm callin' you out!)

Reprinted from Comics Should Be Good:

Attention! DC Editorial. This is Bill Reed speaking. Do not adjust your monitors. I am in control of the internet. It's also come to my attention, thanks to Lying in the Gutters (no fancy links, I'm pressed for time! You all know where it is, anyway), that no creative team has yet been chosen for Aquaman (unless it has. In which case, bah).

I offer you my services, for free. I shall write Aquaman, and it shall be glorious. And it will cost you nothing.

All I ask for is one year to prove my mettle; and in that time, (or even six months), if sales are not doubled on what they current are (which is from 15-17k if I remember correctly), I shall eat something which most folks would consider inedible.

Trust me; I've got a fun pitch. I've got mad ideas. I am Grant Morrison Jr. (When I say "Grant Morrison" out loud, I transform into a pint-sized super-version of him!). I can do this. No sweat.

With a decent enough artist, hopefully one that's at least slightly well-known, and quite capable, I can make Aquaman the brilliantly awesome comic it was meant to me. Arthurian fantasy. Madcap modpop. The thing writes itself.

And if you get Mike Allred to draw it, I'll pay you twenty dollars.

That is all. You are free to go. For now. But remember my offer. One day, I'll have to write Aquaman. Might as well get it over with, eh?

Aquaman Should Be Good. Over and out.


Monday, September 05, 2005


Yes, now I'm stealing gimmicks from other blogs. Blog link of the now!

Anyway, continuing the short-but-sweet blogging ditties, I've been playing a lot of Urban Dead, a text-ish-based zombie apocalypse massively multiplayer online RPG. It is fun. Check it out.

Watch this space

For those of you interested.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

This is for my own records.
Continue going about your business.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Da Fug!

No, I never got around to writing that Seaguy thesis or whatever, but here's a post I just made on another message board which sums up most of my thoughts:

Yeah, Seaguy is pretty bewildering, but I liked it. It's a fugue-like madcap romp in a world that doesn't know it's crazy, and has charming characters and kooky stuff and all the things one likes in Grant Morrison comics. It seems to be mainly about how corporations and brands are trying to homogenize the world and rob it of its special qualities, and of the power of the individual; after all, individuation is a key theme in most of Morrison's stuff.

Seaguy is also the story of a child's life, or at least, I think so. We've got Seaguy, who is, apparently, a superhero, but he never really goes on any adventures; it could be all in his head, with Chubby da Choona as his "imaginary friend." There are also the parent figures; Anti-Dad is the father and he "dies" but his presence still lingers (I'm sure he's behind Mickey Eye, somehow), and as the "child" that is Seaguy discovers the horrors of the world, in his process of becoming an "adult," his world falls apart around him, the shadows creep in, it seems like everyone's after him, something harmless and cuddly turns into a giant penis monster, his "imaginary friend" dies, the girl he has a crush on (She-Beard... and if that's not a euphemism, I don't know what is) rejects him, the friendly old guy he hung out with turns out to be just like any other adult (evil and in the world of business... it's like when you hear that Mr. Rogers was a sniper in the military) and he runs off to hide with his mummy (mommy) on the moon, but the horrors of the adult world follow him anyway, and then brainwash him into being an imagination-less slave of an evil conglomerate.

So it's really a coming-of-age story about puberty and adolescence.

The ambiguous ending has me wanting more. Does the wink mean Seaguy remembers Chubby and is totally on top of the world, or that he only *thinks* he knows what's going on, but is really just a pathetic cog in the machine? I'm dying for the other two mini-series to wrap it up, but Cameron Stewart tells us that nothing's in the pipeline yet and might not be for some time, or ever. So who knows? Maybe Mickey Eye wins after all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


For those of you who may be interested: Penultimate Battlers, over at the Parodyverse. The second in a series of concentrated superhero madness filled with crazy ideas and imagination, much like this "Lithium Age" I've been talking about.

And over at Comics Should Be Good: Egg Story review.

Sent from a Lappy
Probably in the basement

Friday, August 05, 2005

Healing America by Beating People Up!

Dammit, I'm going to have to buy this now.

Nextwave. Warren Ellis. Stuart Immonen. Two-issue arcs. D-List superhero rock star fight comics with an ADD anime vibe.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

If You'd Like to Read a Blog Post, Please Hang Up and Try Again

Yeah, so I tried to write some post or something, but I've come up with a distinct lack of things to say. A few things, though:

1. Yes, I'll be doing some reviews shortly, over at Comics Should Be Good--- not that they're of anything recent, just trades I've finally purchased.

2. Yes, I've got evil plans for some cool internet comiculture thing. We'll see if they pan out; sometime this year.

3. None of you sent me money; Bill smash.

½. I like cookies.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

'Tis me birthday.

Send money, you cretins.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Haiku Achoo

Well-groomed Tony Blair;
The English Prime Minister?
Overlord of Doom!

A monstrous lizard.
The behemoth from Japan.
Oh no! Godzilla!

A monkey in space.
Rocketing through nebulas.
His name is Bojo.

Let's go to the hop.
A shindig or hootnanny?
Joanie loves Chachi.

I wrote this poem.
Five, seven, five syllables.
I haiku. Do you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Remembering Jim Aparo

Jim Aparo died less than twenty-four hours ago, at the age of 72. I'd say he was one of the most underrated artists in comics... he was a highly capable workhouse who drew some damn fine comics. His work was sharp and crisp, but sturdy and solid. His heroes were carved out of granite, and his work was infused with an understated power, an intensity hidden within the lines. He pencilled, inked, and even lettered an awful lot of fine comics.

For a lot of us, Aparo probably did the definitive Batman. I wouldn't say he was my favorite Batman artist, but his Batman was one of the first I'd encountered and I loved his work as a kid, and greatly appreciate it today. He also did, for some of us, the definitive Aquaman and Spectre.

He was also there, pencil at the ready, for humongous events. When the general public voted to kill off Robin? He drew it. When the third Robin, Tim drake, was introduced? He drew it. When Batman's back was broken? He drew it. When Aquaman's infant son died? He drew it. When Batman joined the Outsiders? He drew it. When Batman teamed up with every single character in the DC Universe, every month in the pages of Brave and the Bold? He drew it.

Hell, he was even held hostage by super-villains once! (Image courtesy of Mile High Comics)

He was cool. And now he's gone. He'll be missed.

So it goes...

Monday, July 18, 2005

Twelve Days Later...

See, I told you I wasn't very good at consistent content. Yet, apparently, I've been getting a couple extra hits or something, probably since I accepted Blogging Machine and Dictator Brian Cronin's invitation to write for Comics Should Be Good. So you'll find occasional comics commentary on that site from me as well. And hopefully I've been funneling some traffic to both here and there because of my posts on the Newsarama forums.

And DC has finally decided to do the right thing and publish the third volume in the Doom Patrol trade paperback series, so we have extra Morrison goodness to look forward to in October (don't forget the Arkham Asylum Anniversary Edition Softcover, either). It includes the first appearance of Flex Mentallo (he's even mentioned in the solicit!), so hopefully this is a sign that they'll put the Flex series in trade. We can only hope. (Yeah, so I talk about Grant Morrison comics a lot. Um... I'm sure I'll get around to some other author's work eventually.)

You might be able to expect another "Doom Patois" column from me once volume two arrives in the mail. It'll be posted here if it's extra-long, probably, although it may show up on CSBG. I haven't decided. Maybe I won't even get around to writing it.

Also in October, weird and obscure DC superhero Metamorpho is getting a massive black-and-white Showcase retrospective omnibus collection, detailing his Silver Age adventures. Could be a lot of fun, and at least a nice look at Ramona Fradon's art. Hopefully these Showcase volumes continue, especially for more obscure properties, because I'd love an Arnold Drake Doom Patrol one, or an Elongated Man collection. And eventually, I hope they get around to 70's Kirby, because that stuff was brilliant. I'm very glad DC's got around to putting out cheap, black-and-white collections of older material, akin to Marvel's "Essential" line. I can see myself buying an awful lot of these (whereas the Marvel stuff doesn't interest me too much, outside of Thor and Fantastic Four).

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

More Muscle Mystery

Speaking of Flex Mentallo, I have *just* stumbled upon a great little look at the series, recapping the plot and analyzing a few things much better than I did. It's located on the Barbelith wiki. Click here to read it. And look below for what may be my favorite panel in the entire comic.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Why I Believe in Superheroes

I believe in superheroes. And hopefully, this post will explain why, and delve into a brilliant, fascinating work of graphic literature that is, in my humble opinion, the greatest comic book ever created. Also, this little column gives me an excuse to post a lot of more neat comic panels from the aforementioned Greatest Comic Ever. In fact, I was considering doing something of a countdown of my Top Ten Favorite Comics, but I haven't even worked out what those are (I keep placeholder spots for brilliant comics I haven't read yet). So, maybe one day, I will finally be able to assess a proper Top Ten. But, for now, you know, think about the best stuff Morrison, Moore, Miller, Simonson, and Giffen/DeMatteis ever did, and that's about what it is. Perhaps.

Anyway, the superheroes. I agree with my pal and fellow mad writer Andrew M. Dean's statement: "Superheroes are the greatest literary invention of the 20th century." I've found myself repeating that a lot, mainly because it is utterly true and should be shouted from the rooftops. Other writers might find it a bit silly that quite a few people think of superheroes as a modern mythology, but not I. No, I think the idea of the superhero, and quite a few executions of that idea, are primal representations of humanity’s spirit, dreams, dignity, and all that good stuff. The superheroes were born out of the cultural zeitgeists of their times, and plucked from the archetypal Jungian soup of our collective unconscious (if you believe in that sort of thing). I think that the comic book is a wonderful medium, the ultimate collaborative art form and a powerful storytelling method that’s gotten a bit lost in the corporate shuffle. Still, if there’s one thing comics do best (well, one of many things), it’s superheroes.

No other comic teaches this lesson better than Flex Mentallo, a four issue mini-series from 1996 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (the same two that brought us JLA: Earth 2, New X-Men, We3, and soon, All Star Superman). It is the ultimate love letter to superheroes and the comics art form. It was also the subject of a lawsuit against DC/Vertigo by the Charles Atlas people, because, well, the character of Flex Mentallo (who first appeared in an issue of Morrison’s Doom Patrol) is, in its basest form, a parody of the old Charles Atlas bodybuilding ads. Anyway, DC won the case but has shied away from reprinting Flex in a trade paperback, so the comic is dreadfully rare and obscure. It sells for lots of money on eBay relatively regularly though, so buy it if you’ve got the bucks. If you don’t, you can always download it (“But remember kids, downloading comics is wrong!”).

Before I begin, I’d like to mention that you can find annotations for Flex by clicking here, but they probably won’t do you much good if you don’t have the book itself.

Now, what’s the comic about, you ask? Well, that’s... complicated. It would take me pages and pages to explain and analyze this comic fully, and it still won’t be worth it if you don’t have access to the book, which most people, sadly, do not. The book is an experience. It broke my brain and changed my view of the world and my writing. So, yes, it’s profound, and profoundly important to me personally. In this limited blog space, hopefully I’ll be able to cover the basics, talk it up a bit, throw some panels at you (remember: copyright, Morrison, Quitely, DC/Vertigo, etc.), and get you interested in seeking it out, that is, if it ever comes out in TPB form.

Flex Mentallo covers quite a few myriad plot threads which are all connected and all come together by the end, literally and thematically and all that. Part of it is about Flex Mentallo

himself. Flex is a kid’s comic book creation come to life, lost in a strange world he doesn’t
entirely understand, filled with superheroes he doesn’t recognize. However, a mysterious old ally of his named The Fact seems to have popped up again, so Flex does his best to track him down, following a surreal path filled with drugs, debauchery, fantasy, and realism. We also meet Wally Sage, Flex’s creator, a twentysomething rocker who’s overdosed on drugs and calls a Suicide Hotline or somesuch only wanting to talk about comics and superheroes as his world is torn apart around him. Plus there’s also bits with a detective and a villain named the Hoaxer and stuff, and the secrets of the universe.

It’s a post-modern, fairly self-aware comic. It tells an adventure of the character Flex Mentallo while flashing back to his past, fictions within fictions. Meanwhile, Wally Sage’s life is flashing before his eyes, and we visit his past, his memories of the past, his dreams, and his hallucinatory acid trips. The reader is never quite sure what timeline or reality the narrative is taking place in, but that doesn’t quite matter to the plot. I’ll let the introduction from the annotations site explain further:

“Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's Flex Mentallo, on the other hand, does not place its heroes within a novelistic or realistic world--a linear world--but rather within a fragmentary matrix of parallel universes and alternate realities, within a wild and meta-aware history of comics itself. Flex Mentallo is a comic about comics; it revels in the traditions of superhero comic books--narrative, semiotic, and corporate alike--even as it critiques them. It is an absolutely brilliant work, but it is, in many ways, an ‘inside joke.’”

To understand the book, one really has to have experience with superhero comics history. Each issue seems to be structured akin to a different comics era. There is the Silver Age issue, the Grim-and-Gritty issue, etc. The comic is at times a pastiche of superhero comics, but it’s also a loving tribute to them, filled with homages and references.

Yet, as we read, we never know what is “real,” what is a “fiction.” In truth, it is all of the above all at once. In the final issue, and I’m going to spoil a bit of the magic for you, if you don’t mind, Flex Mentallo battles the Man-in-the-Moon, who turns out to be the disillusioned teenage Wally Sage. At the same time, the adult Wally Sage is traversing his own psyche, through parallel worlds of being. He decides, in the end, that he never took any drugs, that they were, in fact, M&Ms, and so saves himself just as Flex Mentallo is *also* saving him. We learn that, some time ago, in another reality, the superheroes, in order to save their own universe, became fictional in ours.

“Welcome,” says the comic. “You have been inhabiting the first ultra-post-futurist comic: characters are allowed full synchrointeraction with readers on this level.” It is after this that Wally Sage discovers and says the magic word that brought the universe into being, and the world is transformed; the superheroes become real once more, seen in a breathtaking final page as they soar into the sky. It all hinges on the power of belief; belief in life and love and comics and superheroes and the world. It gives us hope for the world and the future, and a renewed appreciation for the concept of the superhero.

I’m not sure all of the above made sense. What I do know is that Flex Mentallo is a helluva ride, and it made me believe in superheroes. It’ll do the same for you. And that, my friends, is why it is better than Watchmen. Flex gets a 10/10, ‘natch.

In future installments, I may revisit a few more Flex bits, and also go over some more of my favorite comics. I’d like to keep this dealy regularly updated, but I’m also making stuff up as I go along.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Part II: Joycore & the (New) Mainstream

(Blogger ate the first two tries at this post. Luckily I keep a back-up. Trying this again.)

Welcome back to the second part of our adventures with pop comics and the mainstream, new or otherwise. I'll be sprinkling in a few more fun panels from Kill Your Boyfriend, because images are cool. I suppose I should disclaim and all that, and mention that they're all copyrighted by Grant Morrison, Philip Bond, DC/Vertigo, or some combination thereof, or whatever.

I think, in yesterday's post, I called KYB "joycore." I could be wrong. Either way, I believe it to be so. Now, I get mocked a lot for talking about this "joycore" thing, but it's a philosophy that became completely apparent to me as soon as I heard the word. What is it, you ask? Well, the term originated via a Barbelith regular who needed a word to describe a specific feeling, that innate feeling of fist-pumping joy and awesomeness. And so joycore was born. There are numerous Barbelith threads on it. An explanatory one is here. Have some quotage, from 'Saveloy':

The word 'joycore' was invented by a Barbelith regular who most of the people here will know as Flux. He first used the term in his blog when, commenting upon a song by The Danielson Famile, he said something along these lines: "this is the most joyful tune ever made. Somebody should invent a movement for this sort of thing, and they should call it JOYCORE." A week or two later, the first joycore threads appeared on Barbelith.
As I understand it, joycore is pro things that make you go "woo-hoo!" and "yay!", and anti things that say "bah!" and "feh..." and "Pah!"

The opposite of 'joycore' is 'borecore,' which I suppose you can now figure out.

Flux: "Joycore is fairly self explanatory. It's a pro-fun, pro-imagination, self-empowering, anti-borecore philosophy. Nick's fixation on the image threads misses the point quite a bit - the threads on Barbelith give a lot of hints and clues as to what Joycore is (and a lot of its meaning is ultimately up to you, should you embrace it), but those threads are only a manifestation of the Joycore spirit, not by any means the totality of what it's all about. Ideally, Joycore and Borecore should be used as adjectives."

Personal examples of things that I find joycore include: Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, featuring Spidey vs. the Sinister Six; Fantastic Four #5, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, introducing Dr. Doom and involving time-travel and pirates; Batman: The Movie, starring Adam West and Burt Ward in 1966, which I just rewatched today for the first time since I was a wee lad, and found to be absolutely awesome in its glorious and campy joycoreity (exploding sharks! pirates! engines to power! turbines to speed!); Jack Kirby’s DC work in the 1970’s, especially OMAC; Kill Your Boyfriend.

The concepts of "joycore" and "pop comics" don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, but they easily can. Most of my ideas for pop comics could be considered joycore by the right people, and I hope such a thing occurs. Who are these people? Well, I equally hope that they are members of the "New Mainstream," which is a bit of a silly term, but important nonetheless.

Now, there's a book by the name, but that's something else entirely. No, my idea of the New Mainstream has everything to do with, you guessed it, comic books. In the comic book industry, the word "mainstream" is distinctly opposite what the word means in every other form of pop culture. There, mainstream is anything that'll appeal to mass audiences. In comics, mainstream is anything that'll appeal to, sadly, hardcore comic nerds. This means one thing: Comic mainstream = Superheroes.

Now, I love superheroes, don't get me wrong. They really *are* the greatest literary invention of the 20th century like me pal Andy "The Dean" Dean says. When done right, they rock. When done wrong, which is much more frequent, they suck arse. Still. Fans (and fanboys) love their superheroes. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, it's just that that's all the comic industry seems to be, at least to an outside observer.

When one looks outside Marvel and DC, one sees much more new and diverse material. These independent publishers dabble in every genre imaginable, and some contribute very nicely to the comics medium as an art form. It's here where the *true* mainsteam lies, and where I think we can find a "New Mainstream" if we try hard enough. More and more independents are getting noticed in the media, even by high-falutin' book reviewers and the like. Art Spiegleman and Dan Clowes and friends are on bookstore shelves and on NPR and in the New York Times Book Review and all that, and they're given their proper due. Real people, intelligent people, are reading and liking comics... just not the ones with superheroes.

Comics need much more diversification in order to capture this new audience. The independents are doing pretty well, but DC and Marvel comics need to stop mollycoddling the fanboys and appeasing the hardcore nerds (yes, including myself, at times), and publish something other than superheroes. Superheroes aren’t bringing in new readers. The Big Two is preaching to the choir, no matter how hard they try not to. They need to experiment, to do new and different things and try new and different genres. Yes, they’ll fail at times, they might not make a lot of profit in the beginning... but in the long run, they may get a much larger audience interested in them.

I have lots of ideas for pop comics. I hope to write these and get them published. I want to share them with the world. Pop comics are the perfect tool to get new audiences interested in the comic medium, and hopefully I can contribute to this movement, and help find this new, important audience.

There’s a whole new mainstream out there. Find it, chase it, cuddle it, make love to it. It wants what we’re selling, it just doesn’t know it yet.

Bonzai, mofos.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Pop Comics & the (New) Mainstream

It's come to my attention that adding images to these blog posts is easier than ever! So I've updated yesterday's extra-long post with some neat images. Go have a look, and then scroll back up here. I'll wait. I've got some muzak to tide me over. (doot doo dizz-app-bop-doodly-yeah!) Welcome back. Our top story tonight? Pop comics! The new mainstream! And... wait a tick!

This just in: Top hats are sexy. If I had some kind of weird kink, it would be top hats. They make anything sexier! Look at our friend Zatanna here, from the cover of Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #2:

Now look at this weird old man. Sexy as pie, eh? Well... maybe moldy lemon meringue. Does that get moldy? It does now!

Anyway, what does this have to do with pop comics and the (new) mainstream, you ask? Why, nothing! I shall get to that now. As I mentioned yesterday, Warren Ellis wrote a 'Pop Comics Manifesto' back in '99. I know I've read it before, but it has apparently vanished from the internet. After ages of Googling, I came across an important excerpt on an old Article 10 at Ninth Art, by neat-o-keen Brit comics commentator Paul O'Brien. Here's the excerpt, from Ellis:

"The basic definition of the Pop Comic is a finite, commercially accessible, inventive and intelligent modern comics work. A cultural handgrenade, short, bright and inexpensive. An art bomb, cheap as a single and demanding as much of your time. Three or four issues, or a short original graphic novel... And the Pop Comic is creator owned."

Warren and I seem to share the same ideas, as I was very much interested in writing some of these "pop comics," when I discovered a term had been invented for them. Basically, the ideal format for a pop comics is a "graphic novella." It shouldn't be overly long, no longer than 96 pages, and hopefully it's relatively cheap. If one could produce 80-page pop comics for five or six bucks, that'd be perfect. It's, as Warren says, like a pop music single. People seem to like them, and it's a relatively inexpensive and hopefully totally awesome experience. Ellis has done some pop comics like Ministry in Space, Mek, Toyko Storm Warning, Reload, Two-Step, and Red. I, unfortunately, have read none of these. I hear they were good, though! Look for them in trade paperback format.

A perfect example of a pop comic, and an early one, is Grant Morrison and Philip Bond's Kill Your Boyfriend. Other earlier Morrison works may qualify as 'pop comics' as well: Sebastian O? St. Swithin's Day? The Mystery Play? How about his newer stuff, like the "Seagull Trilogy:" Seaguy, We3, Vimanarama!? Peter Milligan's Rogan Gosh might be a pop comic, too. Anyway, I'm sure all of those are fabulous (I've only managed to read Swithin's, which is like a kooky modern version of Catcher in the Rye, and the "Seagull Trilogy," which you've already heard my thoughts about), but this is about Kill Your Boyfriend, which I shall shorten to KYB, like all the cool kids.

KYB is a terrific dark comedy and pop art masterpiece. The official synopsis is this:
"Boy meets Girl. Girl falls for Boy. Boy takes Girl on violent rampage through English suburb. Murder, sex, drugs, and anarchy follow." It's very hard to find for purchase, though, as it's out of print for both printings. I suppose you could download it on BitTorrent, where it was available at one time, but that would be "evil," wouldn't it? Apparently, it was written while Grant was on Ecstacy. This does not surprise me. And just for kicks, here is a Random Quote Generator from the comic. It's filled with great and funny quotes.

I suppose I should
give this some kind of review. Okay. It's from the creative team and publishing house that brought you Vimanarama!, only this is even better. I know someone on Barbelith said it was the first thing they'd save in case of a fire. Hence, greatness. The book really has to be experienced to be fully appreciated, but I'll tell you a few things. For one thing, the script is sharp, witty, and loaded with sarcastic commentary on teenagers, society, anarchism, and all of that good stuff. There's even a riff on Grant's own Invisibles, although I think this book is pre-Invisibles. Still... then it's a humorous precursor! Whatever. The art, by Bond, is lovely and sharp and pop-y and Girl is very pretty, considering she's made of lines and color. Oh, hell, I'm not doing very well with this, am I? The book is... it's *joycore,* is what it is. I suppose we'll have to settle for a small barrage of panels from the book. Here we go!

I could go on. There are dozens of panels and pages that are beautiful and inspired and filled with love, lunacy, and sheer brilliance. I skipped a lot. Alas, I can't put the entire book on here. You'll have to track it down somehow. I give Kill Your Boyfriend a 9/10, because it warms the devious, twisted cockles.

There are also pop *webcomics,* at least, according to my definition. You can find a couple fantastic ones with the open-source character of Jenny Everywhere (speaking of which, I should write a short Jenny script one of these days). My absolutely favorite Jenny strips, which I believe are truly short little pop webcomics, are by fellow 'Lithers Joe Macare and Nelson Evergreen, and they can be found here, here, and here. They're only a few pages each, and they're brilliant. Well worth your time.

So, right. Pop comics. Awesome little art bombs, medium-sized page count, comics with spines (and I mean that both figuratively and literally... it's not a pamphlet, it's a book with an actual spine!), filled with wonderful ideas. They are meant to be devoured, savored, digested, enjoyed, pored over, reread constantly until they fall apart. They are that amazing musical single you just can't stop listening to. They're somewhere between comic singles (or monthlies, floppies, pamphlets, whatever) and TPBs or graphic novels. I've got ideas for a zillion of 'em. About houseboats, hobos, popes, rock bands, living moons, pirates, ninjas, robots, monkeys, mariachis, pet fire hydrants, love, life, and imagination. Pop comics are new, they're interesting, they're experimental, and most of all, they're hella fun. I want to see more of them in the future, and I may just get my wish.

It seems I've run out of time and space, so in our next episode, we'll get to the actual "New Mainstream" part of this column. Stay tuned, same Bill-time, same Bill-channel!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Jeezum Crow! New Content?!?

(I had a good post going, and then Firefox froze on me. So I’ll try to rewrite it the best I can.)

So it’s come to my attention that three or so people peruse this blog on occasion, and I’ve let it fall by the wayside, which might disappoint them. Then again, I may have hallucinated them when I was on the Vicodin. (I had a prescription, dammit! Don’t hound me, varlets!)

Anyway, let’s get up to date: It’s been a helluva month, from late May through June! But I’ve survived, and hopefully have a good month-and-a-half of boredom ahead of me. So I’ll do some writing, I guess, which may include this little bloggy-type dealy, though if certain events spring into motion, I may fold this into another website which will have much better content, commentary, and, perhaps, webcomics. Of course, places like Comic Book Galaxy and Millarworld are doing fantastic comics/pop culture commentary right now, so maybe there is no longer a place for my dream. Still, I’d like to give it a go. Also, I’ve got plenty of ideas for a few little Parodyverse ditties, as well, as several premises for pop comics (Warren Ellis originated the term, and I’d link to where I read about it, only I just searched for fifteen minutes and couldn’t find a damn thing. So do your own research, sorry!) that I’d like to write pitches and/or scripts for, sometime. So I’ve a lot to do, and not much time to do it! Which generally means I’ll get nothing done. Go me!

To sum up what’s happened during my long absence, ‘cause I haven’t been around on here since March, unless you count that quick post in May, it all fits into one sentence: “I hate my life.” Naturally, there’s more to it. Let’s see... School ended, stuff happened, I went to social events, I took a vacation with friends, I’ve had my heart broken and my spirit crushed and neither of them are mended yet (let’s put it this way: I can’t listen to Billy Joel music anymore, without getting utterly depressed), and, oh yes, I’m deathly afraid of life and the future. I think that about does it right there, don’t you? Let’s move on.

My God, I just checked: this blog is nearly a year old! That was fast. I’m not so sure “The Lithium Age” is a good name for this one-sided forum anymore, but I don’t care! So it stays, for now, until I start a new, hopefully more regular column somewhere else, where I may come up with something better. It’s not that I don’t believe in the message of the Lithium Age (check the archives, dammit!) but it’s not like I’ve focused on it much.

Let’s do that now, then. What are good comics that are following the standards of the Lithium Age? What’s bringing us into a new age of imagination and quality? I’ll tell you.

1. Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers: I could rave about this, and go on and on and on, but I think this column here says everything I want to, only better. It’s good, quality comics, done in a way no other comics have been done before. It’s a huge pile of material, and it’s all new and different. So far I’d say Shining Knight and Zatanna have been the best mini-series (the others being Manhattan Guardian and Klarion the Witch Boy, both of which are very good) so far. Morrison is a pioneer in the comics medium, and he’s the best and most imaginative author working in the field today.

2. Desolation Jones: This is a new book by Warren Ellis and JH Williams III and friends, and it’s a detective book starring a strange, gray-toned man with a trenchcoat, blanket, and gas mask, who lives in LA, which is actually an open prison for ex-spies and the like, and a very weird place indeed. I hope you don’t mind if I basically copy and paste some material I posted over at Barbelith here.

“I found this fresh and fun, in that frightening, dirty way. Heh.
I quite like the premise (and the plot: Hitler porn? Awesome), and Jones himself is an interesting character. The book reads like Marlowe stepped into the maddening horror and perversion of contemporary America. So yes, the writing was pretty good (I was sold halfway through the first page), but that's hardly the major selling point of the book. Rather...
The art: Fantastic. JH Williams III (great name, too) keeps cranking out beautiful comics. The guy's an artiste. The page layouts are always well-done (the two-page spread of the eye-gouging... I mean, it's gloriously violent), and the linework is, of course, superb.
The lettering: My God, the LETTERING! The lettering is what basically convinced me to pick up the book, and it's marvelous, in the vein of old 50's EC comics.
So, yeah, it's a good comic. I'll be there for #2.”

I’d give the first issue of Desolation Jones a 9/10, because I’m feeling particularly nice. (The image is borrowed from Pipeline at Comic Book Resources. Look at that lettering!)

That’s aboot it, in the true Lithium area. Other comics I’ve picked up lately include Vimanarama (which concluded better than it began, and, while I didn’t fall in love with it, wasn’t really that bad. In fact, I could write a bloody paper on it. I’ll give it a 7/10 overall), Gotham Central (it’s solid as always, but I wish Rucka would write about someone other than Montoya for a change; 7/10), and JLA Classified (Giffen and DeMatteis wrapped up their arc, and it was filled with comedy, drama, heartache, love, action, more comedy, and plenty of irony. Also a 7/10.) Human Target, sadly, has ended, but it was very good (8/10), I dropped Fantastic Four after Waid left (6/10), and Astonishing X-Men gets worse and worse (3.5/10, because I'm mean. Sorry, Joss).

I’m not really a fan of either of the Big Two’s directions right now. Marvel has reached new levels of banality, and the DCU is now a mostly inbred mess of crossovers, with plots that piss me off. I’m sticking to the peripheral stuff, and you should, too.

As for the realm of television, I’ve become addicted to medical dramas now, as I’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy, House, and ER reruns nonstop. I’m also watching the FBI drama ‘The Inside,’ mainly because a lot of Buffy crew are involved, and it’s not bad, but the ratings are abysmal, so surely it’s doomed. Alas. (I’m surely watching other stuff, but I can’t think of ‘em right now! Haha!)

As for movies, Sin City rocked, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was alright, but the books are better, and Batman Begins is incredibly awesome. Go see it.

And the Celebrity of the Moment (#3 in a series) is... um... oh, let’s make it Clint Howard. I’ll let the unfamiliar among you do your own homework on this one, but basically he’s Ron Howard’s less famous and uglier brother. And yet he’s still cooler than you. Glavin! (Fear him!)

That’s *plenty* for now. Catch you later. (You know who you are. At least, I hope so. If you’re suffering from amnesia, e-mail me! I’ll be glad to help.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Support Rann!

Rann can kick Thanagar's ass any day. I mean, they've got wings, sure, but we've got jetpacks and kickassery.

Go Rann!

(Thanks to Dial B for Blog for the image.)

Oh, right, and I'm still alive, dammit!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

This Bill-- This Blogger! (Comics Review Revue strikes again!)

I'm not a fan of blogs. And I'm not your typical "blogger." And I really should be studying, or writing this history paper, rather than silly comic reviews, but I'm bored and I'm procrastinating. So I'ma gonna talk about the fact that I spent thirty-three dollars at the comic shop and walked out with eleven comics, which may seem crazy to you, and yes, it's true, comics are too damn expensive these days. But there was some damn good material hidden within, and I'll babble on about it until my brain leaks out my ears. This episode of Comics Revue is accompanied by the unofficial Comics Review Revue Showgirls, and I'm sure you'll be entranced by their leggy boogies. Also, aside from the usual numerical review notation, I'll steal from the Savage Critic review scale. On with the show.

Astonishing X-Men #7-8: So I tracked down the issues anyway. These two issues are better than the last few have been (though if you read the first arc straight through with an open mind, it isn't really that bad). Sure, there's still some fanwank and a thoroughly pointless Fantastic Four guest appearance, but the pacing's really good and the plot's intriguing. I'ma give it a 7/10, I suppose. This merits a Good on the SavCrit scale.

Fantastic Four #523: Hmm, I dunno. I read this last, as, well, it's probably my least-favorite comic on my pull list anymore (only one issue to go after this one), and this issue was pretty lackluster, although I liked the previous couple episodes. Some decent bits, but otherwise pretty lame. 5.5/10. This is what we in the business call Okay.

Gotham Central #28-29: I'm liking the better production values of this book (and the price hasn't gone up yet!). This is the first half or so of a new arc which starts off from the perspective of a beat cop, something we don't normally see. The best parts are the character bits, however, and although I think Montoya's a little overused (she's Rucka's pet character), she's probably the most popular character in the book, and I really liked the developments occurring in this story (plus: lesbians! Well, for those of you who are enticed by that sorta thing). The crossover with the cops from Flash is handled well, even though I dislike that book. I'm not so into the whole "cop transformed into monster!" angle, though. It's also pretty hard to tell that Michael Lark left the book, because the former inker is pencilling this arc, and it's pretty damn good. 8.5/10, or Very Good.

Human Target #19: This is part one of the final storyarc of this title, and it's mostly set-up. Tom McFadden, the apprentice to Christopher Chance from the original Vertigo mini-series returns, and he's even more screwed-up than ever, and seems to have some kind of "evil plan" in the works. I hope the book wraps up well, but this issue wasn't necessarily anything exciting. 6/10. High OK, low Good, whatever.

JLA Classified #4: This is part one of the "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League" arc, which was held back because Identity Crisis bollocksed with the cast, etc, but it's okay! It's here! We've got it! For the uneducated, this is the sequel to "Formerly Known as the Justice League," which reunited the comedy team of Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire, the original creative team of the *funny* Justice League comics from the late 80's and early 90's. It's got my favorite character in it (Elongated Man), and his wife isn't dead in this, so, heh, yay! This one's loaded with quite a few chuckles, and it's all just character interaction, with an old favorite returning on the very last page. Sure, it's nostalgia, but this is one nostalgia train that I'm glad to hop onto. Maguire has a great gift for facial expression and figurework. 8/10, Very Good.

Seven Soldiers #0: Okay, here's where we make Lithium Age Comics Review Revue history. Let me start off by saying this is an absolutely fantastic comic by two creators who are on top of their respective games: Writer Grant Morrison and artist JH Williams III. Plus, this issue is a great deal, with 38 pages of story for a mere three bucks (usually you'd just be getting 22 or 23 pages with that). It starts off the huge Seven Soldiers mega-series with a bang, and I know I'll have to buy every single issue.
The story's a wild romp of triumph and tragedy. The plot: An old hero, rather than head for the retirement home, rounds up a posse of other super-heroes to battle a spider monster that he thought he killed over a hundred years ago. He's the cowboy hero called Vigilante. The Whip, granddaughter of the original Whip, tags along because she's become obsessed with her role as a super-hero, and it writing a book about it. Joining them are Boy Blue, Dan the Dyna-Mite, Gimmix, and I, Spyder.
The design of this comic is just fabulous. The panelwork and layout of the pages is beautiful in itself, and the artwork is absolutely brilliant.
The best bit is how each member of the "Seven" Soldiers represents a different era of comics, and is each drawn a different way to emphasize that. Vigilante is an old 30's/40's comic, Gimmix is a 50's pin-up, Dan (the "hero-vestite") turns into a Kirby drawing, I, Spyder becomes an "Ultimate" version of himself... The art is breathtaking, and loaded with detail. It's a thing of beauty to behold.
I love how Grant Morrison makes me care about all these characters within a few pages, with just a few lines of dialogue, and I love how the characters reflect different periods of comics history. As someone else said, it's like taking a bunch of super-heroes and throwing them into the Big Brother house. Their interaction is fab.
Anyway, I'm gushing. Nevertheless, this is the best comic of the year so far, and it reminds me of why I love the medium so much. Truly an awesome achievement, and deserves an Excellent grading, and also is the very first comic I've reviewed in this column that's ever gotten a 10/10.

Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #1: This is the first issue of the first Seven Soldiers mini-series, and it's really good stuff. It starts off in the midst of a huge Arthurian legend, with the Knights of the Broken Table getting their butts handed to them by mystical faerie villains the Sheeda. Only young 16-year-old knight Sir Justin can save the day. It's here we get our first glimpse of the main villainess of the mega-series, Gloriana Tenebrae, the queen of darkness. She's every evil woman or witch from every myth or fairy tale wrapped into one imposing figure.
I'm no fan of the fantasy genre, but this issue works for me. It's got knights and monsters and talking winged horses, but it works. It also ties into Arthurian and Celtic myth, and I am a fan of mythology. Of course, by the end of the issue it's taking place in modern day. I look forward to see where it's heading...
Okay, so we know the story's good (it's Grant Morrison, remember), but the art's from someone hardly anyone's heard of (Simone Bianchi) but it's really damn good stuff. It's like a cross between the styles of Gil Kane and Barry Windsor-Smith, filtered through the European school of comic art.
It's a fine comic, and I love it more each time I look at it. 9/10, Very (Very) Good.

Vimanarama! #1-2: This is the third and last of Grant Morrison's wave of three Vertigo mini-series, and it's also my least favorite, so far. Granted, there's one more issue after this, but these first two leave me a bit cold. It's probably my least-favorite Morrison work since Zenith (which came out ages ago).
It's about two Pakistani teenagers in England who are arranged to be married and end up unleashing an ancient evil, as well as an ancient good. It's apparently a big Bollywood epic through the eyes of a Jack Kirby comic, and that sure sounds good, but I'm unsure about the execution. There's plenty of good moments (the evil guy drinking a Molotov cocktail; "My knee... grazed beyond redemption!") but I'm just not feeling the apparent joycore-ness of it. The characters are alright but not spectacular, the mythological background is muddled, and the plot's kinda thin. The art (by Philip Bond, who previously teamed with Morrison on the very good 'Kill Your Boyfriend') is pretty good, but not up to his usual caliber.
As far as I can tell, there's some kind of industrialization vs. mysticism theme going on. Also, I see, as I said on the Barbelith thread devoted to it, the ramifications of ancient religious figures showing up in modern day, where no one cares about them anymore. It's shown most clearly in the scene where these new gods are "restoring the fallen world to glory," but it's really just turning into a frightening science-magic place where the regular humans feel quite uneasy. Perhaps it's about modern society realizing it doesn't need the ancient gods helping it, anymore. It could be some kind of pro-atheist thing, though more than likely it just means that humanity needs to find its own strength, and shouldn't rely on the direct actions of the gods, that humanity can find its own way.
So, yeah, it's alright, but nothing spectacular, and I think it's pretty predictable (I've got the next issue figured out, I think, and I'm not sure if I'll be glad to be wrong or if it *should* go in my predicted direction). Lots of people seem to like, it, though, but others seem to be a bit indifferent, like me. I'll give it a 6/10, so it's just OK.

I see I've finished, and so have the dancers. We all need a break, and hopefully I've honed my review skills enough to tackle this history dealy. So I guess that means I'm off. ...but wait! I've forgotten! We need a...

Celebrity of the Moment (#2): Bill Pullman, ladies and gents! Yeah, the president from Independence Day, or that dude that made me mock The Grudge relentlessly. Basically, he's just like Jeff Daniels, but lamer. I... don't have much to say about him. But he's Bill freakin' Pullman!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Why I Hate Valentine's Day

Here's an oldie, but a goodie. Wrote this last year. My opinion hasn't changed.


The extremely popular comedian Lewis Black has summed it up excellently in one of his more familiar routines. In this routine the angry comic goes on to explain how winter is a horribly gray period of life, and how each day gets grayer and grayer still until it’s the grayest day you’ve ever seen…and then it gets even grayer. And then, finally, everything is so gray you slit your wrists just to see color...and this day happens to be Valentine’s Day. Quite frankly, this is an excellent summation of how things seem to work.

What is Valentine’s Day supposed to be about? Well, it seems it was named after a St. Valentine, who was a nice guy and priest who was put to death on February 14th for marrying people secretly or some such. He left a note to someone saying “from your Valentine,” and this, combined with a Juno-worshipping Roman ceremony from times past involving something about couples, gave us our concept of Valentine’s Day. I’m too lazy to do a whole lot of research about it, but it seems more than a bit morbid to me.

This is sure to bring me to my point eventually. The point is, of course, that my cynical self cannot seem to appreciate or find value in Valentine’s Day, which is, after all, the most depressing day of the year, usually. Why, you ask? Well, let’s pose a question to all of you gentle readers who like the old Valentine’s Day. Why do you enjoy it? I implore you to send fan/hate mail through some means or other and let us at this fine newspapering establishment know.

Perhaps, though, I can beat you to it. Let’s think; there’s this “love” thing going around these days, like some kind of epidemic. Methinks that’s why people enjoy Feb. 14th. After all, the entire world can’t be celebrating your favorite Spanish teacher’s birthday; there’s got to be some other reason! All the happy couples seem to like it, what with all this “love” stuff going around, and the flowers and candy and cute small fuzzy animals and whatnot. While this may seem perfectly natural to some of you out there, you people are obviously forgetting about a large group of others who aren’t having the time of their lives; the lonely people.

Therefore, I suggest some kind of day for the lonely people, too. Perhaps on Feb. 15th, just to spite the happy people. I’d name it after a depressed and lonesome Saint, but I don’t know any offhand, unless you count the football team. However, I do know my Beatles. Henceforth, I declare Feb. 15th to be Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Day, from here on out. I doubt I’ll be throwing candy and furry animals around or wearing a party hat, but I think maybe I can take a few moments out of my daily moping/brooding/sulking ritual to somberly acknowledge good ol’ Sgt. Pepper, who for so long sought the tender embrace of companionship, that from which he was forever forsaken. Or possibly forsook.

So you could call me a pessimist. Frankly, I think I’m sometimes too much of an optimist, which scares me. I’ve become a sad, lonely old man a few decades early. Just because I listen to depressing music, talk with depressed people, watch depressing TV, write a few depressing stories, and hide from society all the time doesn’t mean I’m some kind of crazy depressing hermit. Maybe one day, but not now! No, but I’m not a shiny happy ball of sunshine like some of you, either. I’ve seen my share of enjoyable moments, but I’ve seen a lot more depressing breakdowns. Believe you me, I understand the depressed and lonely. And it’s from experience.

Now, this article had its fair share of levity, but it also might’ve shown you that not everyone has a fun Valentine’s Day, or enjoys it too much. God knows I’ve tried, sometimes, but maybe it’s just a few traumatic memories that spoil it. Here’s my advice to you; find the nearest lonely fellow or downtrodden fellowette and give ‘em a good ol’ hug. Maybe you can help someone have a decent Valentine’s Day. Or maybe you’ll just get a restraining order. Either way, I’ll lift my glass in a toast on Sgt. Pepper’s Day. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my six o’clock moping period, so I’m afraid I’ll have to draw this article to a close.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Doom Patois

As the more astute readers in our little imaginary audience here know, I'm a big fan of Grant Morrison's writing, heralding him as "the best comics writer ever," yes, better than Alan Moore (in my not-fully-defined list of the Top Ten Best Comics Ever, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's obscure "Flex Mentallo" beats out the highly-touted "Watchmen" by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Flex is #1. Watchmen's #2. Also on the list somewhere is Walt Simonson's run on "Orion" as well as Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" and a few other things. I haven't really given it a lot of thought, but you can imagine that Morrison, Moore, and maybe even Miller get a couple of spots on the list. Maybe one day I'll do a column. Oh no, look out, here comes the end parenthesis!). Today we'll look at one specific Morrison work, and that, unfortunately, still isn't that Seaguy thesis I promised. Boo hoo. No, I'm talking about Doom Patrol, and more specifically, the first trade paperback, entitled Crawling from the Wreckage, collecting Morrison's first seven issues in his really freakin' long run on the title (he lasted from #19 to #63.)

Now, I'd never read any of his Doom Patrol before, but I knew that Morrison aficionados proclaimed it to be one of his all-time best works. I also knew that the glorious Flex Mentallo sprung from Doom Patrol's pages. I assumed it'd be one of the best reads out there. Alas, that wasn't entirely true; this trade is good, but it's not great. I'll still pick up the second trade, though, and I hope they put the rest of the series out in book form, as the original issues are hard to track down (Grant began his run in 1989). Still, this is early in the run, and I assume it gets better as it goes on, as all of his longer works do (which is why I haven't totally written off The Invisibles yet; one day, I'll pick up the rest of the series). I can see that quite a few themes that are prevalent in most of his works spring up here. The book also has decent, serviceable art, but it's not spectacular.

Before I go on, though, I'm sure my imaginary audience wants to know who the hell the Doom Patrol are, and why they should care. The original Doom Patrol was billed as "the world's strangest heroes!" back when they first appeared in the early 60's (a few months before the X-Men, who, coincidentally, share an awful lot of odd similarities with the Doom Patrol, including wheelchairs and evil brotherhoods). In fact, they were. The Doom Patrol weren't super-heroes; they were just a bunch of odd, slightly-scary, and handicapped people trying to do the right thing. There was Robotman, a brain in a robot body; Negative Man, a radioactive guy wrapped in bandages with a "negative spirit" that jumped out of his body and handled the action for him; and Elasti-Girl, a former starlet who shrank and grew and expanded random body parts. Yes, she got off easy. And they were led by a bearded chap in a wheelchair, The Chief. They had some thrilling, weird, and smart adventures before they were all killed off abruptly when their series was suddenly cancelled.

The Doom Patrol concept was brought back in a major way in the 80's, when DC Comics resurrected the title. Robotman was back, but the others were dead, and then a bunch of lame no-name characters filled in the rest of the ranks. By the end of that run, The Chief and Negative Man were alive again, but poor Elasti-Girl was still dead (and she stayed that way until madman John Byrne rebooted the whole DP timeline last year). It was a boring and generic super-hero comic.

And then, Grant Morrison came in.

Immediately the book re-embraced its weird and spooky roots. The Doom Patrol was once again strange. Robotman was still around (though he'd prefer you call him Cliff, as it's his name), and so was The Chief (though he was a bit more eccentric), but new characters were brought in, a few old ones were reinvigorated, and then there was what happened to poor Negative Man. You see, Larry Trainor was merged with Dr. Eleanor Poole by the negative spirit into a hermaphrodite wrapped in bandages and sporting a trenchcoat. S/he chose the name "Rebis" for his/her new self. Yes, it's that weird. There was also Crazy Jane, a schizophrenic whose different personalities each had a different super-power; Joshua Clay, a normal guy with some basic energy-blasts and flight and stuff who's too weirded out to really be any sort of super-hero, and so decides to help out in medical and scientific capacities only; and Dorothy Spinner, the young girl with an ape's face who had imaginary friends that had the tendency to spring to life. Also making appearance is Rhea Jones, a comotose woman sleeping her way to a new destiny.

The first big story in this volume is about a fictitious, unreal world that's becoming realer by the second, with only the Doom Patrol able to stop it, by journeying to said unreal world and unraveling the contradiction upon which its built. It starts out in a mental hospital and ends up in the new Doom Patrol headquarters, which used to be the old Justice League headquarters. Along for the ride are the classic and creepy Scissormen, sci-fi updates to an old fairy tale. The best moment is a little sidenote, where a priest sees what he believes to be a sign from God to have faith (but the curvy bit of the G is obscured) when it suddenly begins to rain every kind of fish ("No cod, though.") Then, suddenly, the poor priest is crushed by a refrigerator.

The second, and best, story in the book, focuses on Red Jack, a strange and frightening villain for another dimension, who is seemingly omnipotent and claims to be both Jack the Ripper and God (and who's to say for sure he's lying?). He collects Rhea and goes back to his home dimension, but the Doom Patrol follow him to get her back. The best issue in the whole thing is #24, "The House that Jack Built," where the DP journey to Jack's world and confront him. Poor Cliff gets his face bashed in and an arm ripped off, but the heroes triumph by freeing all the poor butterflies that Jack tortures constantly in order to maintain his existence. As Red Jack withers away to nothing, he says "I... I thought I was part of the grand story... the story that... that would at last give meaning to this senseless trajectory... the loop and spin of being... Instead... instread I have learned a horrible truth about existence... Some story have no meaning. Oh, bugger..." The DP are left wondering how the hell they're going to get home. (My other favorite moment in the issue is the opening, which takes place entirely in the dark. Two people are talking to each other, and you don't realize till the lights come on that it's only Rebis.)

The final story is a one-off about Dorothy's imaginary friends coming back to get revenge, with only Joshua around to save her. It's a pretty nice little tale that combines the Wizard of Oz with menstruation metaphors. The book also ends with little scenes that lead up to cliffhangers, as it seems a new and even-odder Brotherhood of Evil is forming.

All in all it's a pretty good book, but it's also lacking a bit. One can already see Morrison repeating himself (The DP travel to a weird, possibly-imaginary dimension, and fight weird enemies. Meanwhile, other weird stuff happens. Wash, rinse, repeat ad infinitum). However, the formula appears to work quite well. And by the end of the book you can already see Richard Case's art improving (although the Joshua/Dorothy story is a fill-in by Doug Braithwaite). Morrison, as usual, fills the thing with wild and brilliant ideas, and occasionally his characterization suffers for it. Crazy Jane is pretty well mapped-out, but some of her super-powered personalities come off like Deus Ex Machinas (well, actually, pretty much all of them do. I think that's the point). Cliff, aka Robotman, works well as the central character, as he's the perfect everyman, but sometimes he comes off like a "tin-plated Arthur Dent," as I think I once read somewhere ("What? What? What's going on?" "What?") The Chief, however, exudes a nice badass demeanor every once in a while, and Rebis is verrrry interesting (Rebis visits Eleanor's fiance and he pretty much undergoes an emotional breakdown, but Rebis just can't feel the same way, coming out with hilarious lines like "Don't get blood on the coat" at inopportune moments. The interplay between both halves of Rebis is a fun thing to watch... and just what's the deal with the negative spirit?). Josh is still a bit of a cipher, however, and Dorothy is nice and all, but at times annoying. There's also weak spots when it comes to pacing, plotting, and dialogue, but there's also a lot of good stuff to make up for it, especially in the thematic and metaphorical arenas, as well as some cool imagery and even cooler moments, whether they're humorous, emotional, or dynamically action-packed.

Still, however, I recommend the trade, and I'm definitely going to buy the second one (it's called The Painting That Ate Paris, in case you were wondering). As it stands, I'm giving this book a 7.5/10. I think later volumes will get even better.

There. I think that covered everything. If not, well, I'll be back. (Look for a second Celebrity of the Moment in an upcoming, and hopefully shorter, episode of The Lithium Age. This one's long enough.)

(Okay, now I'm done with the overuse of parentheses (I really mean it! (No, really.)) ...right.... (wait for it...) now!)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Hodgerton McPodgery

"Oh Bill," say the ladies (and some of the more flamboyant chaps), "you're so zany and irreverent!" Ahh, how true you are, ladies. But you missed the part where I'm socially relevant and just damn incredibly sexy. ...maybe not that last one, but I'm sure I can improve with copious amounts of plastic surgery. Yes. Copious amounts. I bet you're excited now.
Anyhoo, this episode of our irregularly-scheduled program is, as the name implies, both wacky and a mix of miscellany. We'll have the usual raves, reviews, and ramblings and all that other swill I keep feeding my imaginary audience. You know, the usual.

Starting off, I'll mention that I just purchased the film Shaun of the Dead, though I purchased it used, and I haven't put it in the machine yet, so God knows if it actually works. I rented this a few weeks back and thought it was just like me: zany, irreverent, and oh-so damn incredibly sexy, or would be with copious amounts of plastic surgery. And this makes sense, as it is a romantic zombie comedy that is written by, directed by, and starring some comics/movies/video game geeks who say "bollocks" a lot. I'm sure I'd get along great with these chaps. And yes, it's bloody (and bloody great) film. You won't even mind the gore and strong language because it's all in good fun and everyone's got a British accent. I give it a 9/10. It makes an excellent addition to my growing collection of horror comedies. It's right up there with the Evil Deads and Bubba Ho-Tep and the like. (By the by: Best line in the film? This one's a toughie, but I'll give it to "Oh, he's got an arm off!")

Mental note: Buy the Sky Captain DVD.

It's also a good time to read comics. Picked up nine books from the shop the other day, considering I'd been MIA since November or so. I would've/could've/should've bought more, but I don't want to bankrupt m'self. Also didn't even notice till I'd left that AXM #7 hadn't appeared in my pull box. Not sure if I actually care yet, as I wasn't in love with the title.
To be a bit different this time, I've decided to relate the comics I've read to different colors, from which you'll attempt to discern some type of meaning. Plus maybe I'll be nice and throw in a few words of actual content. Go!

Fantastic Four #521-522: Aquamarine. 7/10. (The book's back on track, but a little too late for that.)
Gotham Central #26-27: Periwinkle. 9/10. (Spectacular set of issues, here. Also, note the improved paper stock that accompanies #27. Will this be soon joined by an increased price?)
Human Target #17-18: Burnt sienna. 7/10 & 9/10, respectively. (It's a shame this has been cancelled. I love it. Note the guest-art by Seaguy's (and Barbelith's) Cameron Stewart in #17. Also, #18 is the best issue since, oh, somewhere around #9 or 11.)
JLA Classified #2-3: Day-glo orange with neon pink polka dots. 9/10. (This is pure comics magic, baby! Joycore pop, and a bunch of other fun buzz words. Super-hero fantastico!)
We3 #3: The color of heartbreak! Of rain! Of tears! Of sorrow and joy and hope and misery and life! Life itself, baby! I guess that's battleship gray, or cadet blue, or off-white or something. Beats me. We3 is easily the best comic I've read since Seaguy though, which is fitting, as the same guy wrote them. We3 is what comics are all about, kids. 9.2365/10.

You'll notice I've never given anything a 10/10 in a review yet. I'm saving that for the perfectest thing in the world, and I haven't found it yet. A 10 is perfect, and I don't want to throw out too many perfect grades. Hell, Flex Mentallo's my favorite comic ever, and sure, I'll give it a 10, but I'd be tempted to give it a 9. I think Watchmen deserves a 10 as well. And a good six or seven episodes of Buffy. Not sure if I've ever seen a 10 movie, though. Maybe one day.

Monk's on tonight. Give it a watch. Sure, Sharona's gone, but the new girl... Natalie, or whatever, played by Traylor Howard from Two Guys and a Girl, my officially favorite sitcom (MASH is not a sitcom, dammit!), is the new assitant, and I'm interested to see where it's going to go. It probably won't be the same... maybe it shouldn't be.

Celebrity of the Moment (#1): A new feature here at Lithium Age, which may not continue from this installment, but, what the hell... LeVar Burton, ladies and gentlemen. The guy from stuff like Star Trek and Reading Rainbow, and, yes, Roots, where he got whipped, and stuff. If I ever meet the fellow I'll have to apologize. He won't understand why, but I will. So many whipping jokes... but it's all in good fun. So thanks, LeVar. You made me read! You wore that cool visor-thingy! And you got whipped. Kunta Kinte!

I bet you Bill fanboys and fangirls will be able to predict who future CotMs will be. So we'll see if you're right! You probably will be. I'm quite predictable. Ahh, well. Too bad.

Until next time, you groovy cats and kittens. Over and oot.