Monday, January 09, 2012

The Week in Review – Jan 4

The week in review is still struggling to be the actual week’s worth of books that I have purchased and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. A little bit of behind the scenes stuff from my personal life is that in August of last year we (my wife and I) sold our home in Maryland. Since then we have been in the midst of moving to Florida on our own dime. This meant my wife needed to find a new job and she moved to Florida before I did and we have been living off the kind graces of my in-laws for places to live (as they have domiciles in Florida and Maryland). So I have been essentially homeless as the vast majority of our stuff is in PODs. During this time our beloved dog Kiki had to be put down due to bone cancer, I had a grandson born Connor Jacob McLaughlin the son of Dallas and Jamie (my daughter) McLaughlin and a busy as all get out work schedule. I have also re-discovered the joys of prose and have switch from mainly drinking beer to red wines. My own job is portable and my company is going to allow me to work from home and we should be all set up in our new housing by February of this year. So the week in review is more of what I have managed to read in review.

Speaking of prose books I have read a very short book which has caused me to think even harder than ever about lying in any way shape or form, the book is called appropriately enough, Lying by Sam Harris. It cost $2 for a download on Kindle or whatever and I believe you can get it as a PDF file. While I have always considered myself relatively honest (but who doesn’t) this book has made me push the envelope even further making even a white lie something that I would now shy away from in almost any form. When I was in my late forties I read a book called Buddhism Plain and Simple and it caused me to re-think a lot of things and I think actually changed who I was or at least how I approached my life. Lying is still settling into my mind but I believe it is having an impact on how I approach my life. It is rare that something can do that for me and I highly recommend you spend $2 and read Lying, it is very short and won’t take much of your time, but could at least give you something to think about. I actually purchased the book for 4 people who I’m close too and asked them to read it when they got a chance.

So let’s get back to comics. All Star Western #4 from DC comics was another great issue as they managed to still keep Jonah Hex in Gotham. I can’t wait to see how that gets incorporated into a Batman book down the road as I’m sure this material is too good for Scott Snyder to not want to acknowledge. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti have managed to keep Jonah Hex as the same person and yet move him east in a logical manner and continue to make good hard boiled Jonah Hex stories. This issue he finds the men he was searching for and is ready to collect his bounties and head home when a Mr. Moody confronts his with a proposition to find his son who has gone missing. This leads to some great dialogue:
Jonah Hex – “Mister Moody, ah hate this city like poison. Ah got no reason, financial or otherwise ta stay here past collectin’ the bounty on these dead animals.”
Mister Moody – “Would you stay for fifty thousand?”
Jonah – “Got a picture a’ yer boy?”
It was a perfect Hex moment. This series is a great example of DC trying to make sure they do more than capes and trying to modernize the western comic at the same time. It is one of my favorite series. 

Hellblazer #286 and the 2011 Annual were both excellent reads. The Vertigo Hellblazer does not get the accolades it deserves, but Peter Milligan has been writing his ass off on this book and the Annual about the Suicide Bridge was very poignant. It is a bridge that no longer exists, but people are jumping into a sort of limbo/hell type of thing. Milligan has been having a brilliant run of the book and has actually managed to move John forward as a character with his young wife and problems with his niece John is a man constantly at a crossroads and facing down demons from his past. Constantine is at times a true bastard and at times a man whose heart is in the right place. Like all great characters, neither good nor evil, but human. 

Pigs #4 from Image Comics was a another good read. Nate Crosby and Ben McCool as writes have crafted an odd story about kids who were raised to be KBG sleeper agents. The project was started during the Cold War and now they have been activated. One of the members no longer wants to play along but is being forced in order to protect his family. I haven’t read the book tightly but I have enjoyed the slow unveiling of how they were raised at the same time we are learning exactly what they are doing in the US and why. Artist Breno Tamura does a nice job with layouts and storytelling and does a great job with making each character look like a different person. When I’m trying to follow a new group too many artists are unable to create distinguishing characters and it makes it hard to know who is who (see GI Joe Cobra at times). Now Tamura is not a top flight artist at this point, but he certainly has the skills to be able to tell a story and make it flow.

The best book of this week has to be Fatale #1 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. The last Criminal Arc was their best Criminal story and it seems that Ed and Sean are just getting into a perfect groove where their storytelling skills mesh and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. While this issue is all set up to get the series going it is done to perfection. We start in the present day with Nicolas Lash at his grandfather’s funeral, Nicholas does have the annoying single gray streak in his hair made famous by Jim Corrigan in the Spectre comics from long ago, but otherwise he is a surly middle age guy burying a relative. He meets Jo and is dumbstruck by her and she disappears. He goes to his grandfather’s house and the sh*t hits the fan as Jo shows up and saves him from two killers. The a small plane is chasing them in her sports car and a crash occurs. Nicholas wakes up in a hospital missing part of one leg and then the story begins as he sees a picture of what appears to be Jo with her grandfather, we flashback to the fifties and start to get the back story on Jo. From there is gets pretty bloody with a criminal investigation into some sort of Satanic cult, but this is pure noir with Lovecraftian horror being mixed in. At this point the only reason you know there are true horror elements are from one page in the book that hints that Jo was with US soldiers attacking some sort of Nazi cult that was headed by a monstrous headed Nazi. Then reading the introduction by Ed and seeing the variant cover it is the intention of Ed and Sean to make a horror/criminal/noir book. A great first issue and one that is already pushing itself into my personal top ten of best series. 

There is so much more I want to write up like how much I loved Spaceman from Azz and Risso after reading issues #2 & #3 back to back, Stormwatch I thought was a cancel, but reading #4 and #5 has made me like the series now. One of the problems with the DCnU is the time it is taking to establish a series and even I do not have the patience or wallet to wait for all of them to come together.  

I will say getting behind in my comic reading is at times a good thing as many series when I read two or three issues in a row helps me to get back into the series. Not sure if I reported on my latest drops from DC and those two are Green Arrow and Batwing. Green Arrow should have just been a brand new character instead of weird young mega-rich Ollie Queen and Batwing was taking too long to come together and actually seems to be more part of the old DCU as I have no clue how Batman Inc. fits anymore.

Next week’s books are Invincible, Lobster Johnson, Strange Talent of Luthor Strode, Severed (great series), Pigs (good read, go buy it), Last of the Greats, Cobra Annual, Avengers 1959 (probably a better trade), Captain America (per Matthew I need to get caught up), Incredible Hulk (iffy if I keep getting this too little story for too much money), Marvel Masterworks Captain Marvel, New Avengers, Punishermax (penultimate issue of a great series), Secret Avengers, Wolverine and the X-Men (mad fun), Batgirl (growing on me), Batman and Robin (very good series), Batwoman (awesome art and good story), Demon Knights (Shinning Knight should have been a girl), Frankenstein Agent of Shade (an insane fun series), Green Lantern (Johns is moving too slow with the plot), Grifter (on the chopping block), Mister Terrific (also iffy, but I love the character), Northlanders (wonderful series coming to an end), Preacher HC Collection, Ray, Resurrection Man, Scalped (another great series coming to an end soon), Shade, Steve Ditko Omnibus Volume 2, Suicide Squad (very good series), Superboy, Unwritten and Batman Original Graphic Novel

Come back next week for more as we can all see if I can ever catch up with my reading.


  1. I hope this doesn't signal the end to your encouraging comments on all of our posts. :)

  2. No it doesn't, those are always sincere. BTW - agreed with your remarks on Captain America, especially not letting McNiven finish, the art was too different.

  3. Switching to wine made you stop reading comics? Wow that is messed up..

  4. Well, wine is more of a prose reading thing Lee!