Monday, May 31, 2010


Return of Bruce Wayne #2 (of 6)
by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving

Having leapt into the water in caveman days last issue, Batman surfaces in pilgrim times! And he’s not alone! There’s some kind of Lovecraftian beast right behind him! A beast he, naturally enough, fights with a freaking sword he picks up off the river bank! Never say that Grant Morrison doesn’t know how to deliver a fantastic opening. Also never say that he doesn’t know how to play to his artist’s strengths. Because Frazer Irving is genius at drawing both pilgrims AND Lovecraftian beasts, something he gets to do throughout the story.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

War and Weathercraft

I've got two funnybooks with actual bindings for you today, though otherwise they couldn't be more different...

Blazing Combat
by Archie Goodwin and The Best Funnybook Artists of the 1960s

Blazing Combat is often said to be among the two or three best war comics ever published, and after reading this collection of the short-lived series' four issues, I find that assessment difficult to argue with. Originally issued in 1965 by Warren, Blazing Combat was a black-and-white magazine-format comic that took a critical view of warfare, with stories set in every American conflict from the Revolutionary War to the then-current Vietnam. It was the latter material that got them in trouble. The army reviewed the series and banned its sale on military bases, which prompted the American Legion to put pressure on distributors to stop carrying the series entirely. Sales took a sharp decline from the second issue onward, with very few (if any) copies of issue four even reaching newsstands, and Warren was forced to cease publication on it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Funnybooks! I gotcher day-old funnybooks! Right here!

Joe the Barbarian #5 (of 8)
by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy

More of the same great stuff in this issue as in the previous four. Joe's hallucinations continue to mimic his situation in the real world (or is that the other way around?), as he finally makes it to the bottom of the stairs just in time to run into the vicious neighborhood dog that's wandered in the front door (which Joe left open after school because he's a careless teenage moron). This is mirrored by a fantasy world confrontation with a creature called the Night Dog, which is the subject of a pretty spectacular two-page spread that I'm feeling too lazy to scan in for your enjoyment right now. It's great stuff, though, a piece of art and a story moment that's worthy of the real estate it's given.

I continue to be struck by how straightforward Morrison's script is here, and by how much he's getting out of Murphy's way to let the art tell the story. Not that Morrison's not known for giving his artists work to do; he sometimes trusts them to get points across that they fail to convey, in fact. But Murphy's work here is just brilliant, and really well-suited to both the fantasy elements and the very grounded reality of Joe's house.

This series has been great fun to read, and will probably read even better in the inevitable collected edition.

Grade: A

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Holy Crap, Batwoman!

B-DC-857cover-clr-, originally uploaded by JH Williams III.
Here's the cover to Detective Comics 857, from JH Williams' Flikr account. (These Flikr links are courtesy Bad Librarianship blog, by the by. Great blog, great links.)

It Was the 60s! So Sue Them!

robert mginnis, originally uploaded by fraction.
Ran across this sweet piece of Robert McGinnis artwork on Matt Fraction's Flickr, and just thought I'd share. I especially like the furry pants on the James Coburn guy there...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Siege-Bomb Baby!

Siege #4 (of 4)
New Avengers: Finale One-Shot

Dark Avengers #16 (of 16)
The Sentry: Fallen Sun One-Shot

Written by Brian Michael Bendis & Paul Jenkins
Art by Olivier Coipel, Bryan Hitch, Mike Deodato, and Tom Raney

So Marvel set off the Siege bomb this week, and boom! Just like that, all in one week, Siege (and by extension all the stories started by Brian Bendis and company stretching all the way back to Avengers: Disassembled) is done. And it was, I have to say, one hell of a ride. And it's all pretty much SPOILERS from here, so if you make the jump... YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Recent Comics Cavalcade, Part Two

Supergod #1-3
by Warren Ellis and Garry Gastonny

This is one hell of a comic. Narrated by a heavily-intoxicated British scientist in the aftermath of some kind of apocalypse, Supergod is Warren Ellis exploring the idea of the superhero as the ultimate expression of man's urge to create the divine. It's also probably the best of his current work, if you don't count the "Do Anything" column he did for Bleeding Cool (which is amazing, and may get its own review later).

Recent Comics Cavalcade, Part One

So as I mentioned before, I've been reviewing comics for ages now in private, for friends. And while I'm not going to go back and excavate four years' worth of reviews, I did think I might hit the highlights of the stuff I've been talking about so far this year, the comics that have really blown me away of late. I guess I'll start with the return of one of my all-time favorite series, Powers...

And the Rest...

Following up on my “Best of the Noughts” list, here’s a list of comics that I thought were noteworthy, but didn’t make the big list for one reason or another. Often, that reason was that I didn’t get around to reading them in time, but there were also a few books that I thought deserved a mention even though I don’t particularly enjoy them myself. And then, of course, there’s the critically-lauded stuff that I absolutely hate, which is where I’ll start. First up are those goddamn art comics motherfuckers Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes…

Sunday, May 2, 2010

100 Best Funnybooks of the Noughts, Part Four

Here we are at the end. I've given the top ten books a bit more discussion than the rest of the list, as befits their top status. The number one pick even gets multiple paragraphs. Fancy! So now, without further ado... Here are the top 25 books in my list of The 100 Best Funnybooks of the Noughts!

25. The Goon by Eric Powell. This book has everything you could ever ask for in a comic: tough guys, zombies, retards, vengeful ghosts, evil fish-men, and more knife to the eye jokes than you can shake a pointy stick at. Funny, profane, and completely awesome. Real purty to look at, too.

24. Planetary by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday. A meditation on the heroic fiction of the 20th Century, Planetary was also a nice piece of science fiction mystery writing, and a state-of-the-art super hero series all at once. A grand experiment that didn‘t end as well as it might, but that was an entertaining ride along the way.

100 Best Funnybooks of the Noughts, Part Three

Numbers 50-26! As we get into the top 50, we also get into a stranger mix of style and genre, which is really the stuff that keeps my funnybook juices flowing...

50. Street Angel by Jim Rugg. Ninjas, pirates, robots, Aztecs, spacemen, Jesus, and the world’s first homeless teenage skateboarding super hero girl. Oh, and Afrodisiac, too. It’s hard not to love this book. It’s a big blender-mix of B-Culture. Funny and outrageous, but not without sympathy for its poverty-stricken heroes.

49. Wanted by Mark Millar & JG Jones. An entertaining and beautifully-drawn book about a world where the super villains won. Funny and profane. I also like this book's thematic core: the fallen world the villains created after their victory is our own.

100 Best Funnybooks of the Noughts, Part Two

Keeping the ball rolling on my blog launch, here's entries 75-51 of... The 100 Best Funnybooks of the Noughts!!!

75. New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke. Cooke’s best super hero work, New Frontier tackles Silver Age DC with style and aplomb. The core plot of the thing is honestly kind of lame, but the themes Cooke tackles with it, the transition from the blood-and-sinew heroes of World War II to the atom-age super heroes of the Silver Age, are dynamite.

74. Incognito by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips. Pulp adventure noir from the Criminal team. This book applies the noir feel to a world of heroes, villains, and weird science. Though only one storyline’s been completed, it might be better than its sister title.

100 Best Funnybooks of the Noughts, Part One

Sometime back after last Thanksgiving, I lost my damn mind and decided that it would be fun to compile a list of the 100 best comics of the decade. And it was fun, pretty much. It gave me an excuse to play with my funnybooks for a few weeks, excavating and revisiting books I'd almost forgotten I'd read. I posted the whole thing up in 25-book segments for friends in the days leading up to New Year's, and got some very gratifying responses to it.

One friend urged me to make the list more widely available, which was the "critical mass" urging I needed to finally create a blog. And here, a mere five months later, I'm finally putting it up for a wider audience. A slow-moving creature am I, like some kind of comics-reading tree sloth...

So, yeah. The 100 Best Funnybooks of the Noughts. Or the 100 best funnybooks I read, anyway. I'm sure I missed out on some stuff. And, I suppose this goes without saying, but the picks are based entirely upon my own taste. I like quality comics, but I do have favorite writers and genres, and those are going to win out. The order is rough, and a bit arbitrary in places. I feel most confident about the bottom of the list, and the top. But in the middle... I was kind of going on feel in there. If I had to sit down and put them all in order again tomorrow, I might do it differently. But holy crap I'm not doing that again. Alright. Without further ado...

The Ground Rules

Okay. Blog created... check! Bitchin' piece of Bob Powell artwork with blog title in the word balloon posted... check! Awkward opening post about doing a blog written... check! Head swelling with the heady rush of tossing my ideas out into the harsh cold of the world-wide interwebs... check! Blog launch successful! So now I suppose I should write a little something to tell people what the blog's going to be about.

Comics, primarily. Or funnybooks, as I usually call them. They're a lifelong passion of mine, I read a lot of them every month, and I enjoy talking about them. Mostly, I'll be writing reviews. But I'll also do some comics industry commentary when I feel the urge, and maybe even some (gasp!) journalistic pieces about comics or creators that I like.

But I'm an all-purpose dork. Other than comics, I also have an unhealthy interest in movies, music, television, real books with words in them... Most forms of entertainment, really. My tastes tend to run toward the fantastic, but anything that's well-crafted (or at least heart-felt) falls within my range of interest. So I'll be writing about all that stuff, too. Mostly with reviews, but sometimes just to share my enthusiasm for something. Because why the hell not?

And that's about it. Now to get some content worth reading up here...

Dork Forty is GO!

So, anyway...

I'm doing a blog now. I know, right? How last week can I get? Well, you know... I've been doing it in the form of a private message board, for only my closest friends to see, for years now. And even before that via email (if you remember that archaic, proto-social-networking technology). But friends have urged me to share these mystic writings with a wider audience repeatedly over the years, and the number of urgings finally hit critical mass. So I've gotten off my ass and started a blog. Yay me. Now I've just got to fill it up with something...