Sunday, July 25, 2010

Floppies for Trades 3: Hellblazer: Hooked

Hellblazer: Hooked
by Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Landini, and Simon Bisley

So I love me some Hellblazer. I was recently shocked to discover how many issues of this book I have in my collection. It’s been so long since I found it worth reading that I guess I just forgot how very good it was for so very long. When current series writer Peter Milligan came on-board, though, I picked it up again for his first story arc. I quite enjoyed it at first, but the bloom came off the rose fast, and I wandered away from the book again.

I came back to the series recently, though, for Milligan’s Ghost of Sid Vicious story, illustrated in fine form by Simon Bisley, and have stuck around since. It’s not the best Hellblazer ever, but its been entertaining, and poses some interesting moral quandaries for Our Bastard Hero. I’ve been enjoying it enough, in fact, that I decided to go back and pick up the stuff I missed. That more or less starts here, with the Hooked collection.

“Hooked” is a story about addiction. Constantine opens the story with two of them: one to some magical goo he got from Julian (a demon who’s currently wearing the form of a 13-year-old schoolgirl), and another to Phoebe, a good lady doctor with a perverse streak and a wicked sense of humor. Poor ol‘ John‘s head over heels in love with her, and they seem a good match… Except that his black magic bullshit inevitably creeps into the lives of anyone he gets involved with. Phoebe can’t handle that, and has broken up with him.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

OMFUG! Punk Rock Lives … Again!

So I forgot something, kind of. I left a book out of today’s earlier funnybook round-up. But that’s okay, because this book is all about a subject near and dear to my heart, so I don't mind giving it a post all its own. Plus, you know… I was dying to use this headline anyway.

CBGB #1 (of 4)
by Kieron Gillen, Marc Ellerby, Sam Humphries, and Rob G

It kind of goes against the spirit of punk to do a 30-years-later tribute to the greatest punk club ever, but here one is anyway. And, you know, it’s pretty good. It’s an anthology series, with a bunch of different writers and artists telling stories set in and around the titular bar. The aim, I assume, is to paint a picture of what CBGB, and by extension the New York punk scene, was all about.

The first story does that quite literally. It’s written, appropriately enough, by Kieron Gillen, whose series Phonogram did something similar for the British alty-rock scene in the Noughts. And turned me on to a couple of great bands in the process. The Long Blondes’ album Someone to Drive You Home, in particular, is now on my list of all-time classics. Gillen knows his punk rock history, too, though, as he establishes here.

His story is a just slightly marvelous punk take on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” in which a punk rock Scrooge is visited by the three ghosts of punk. Gillen breaks with the original tale by having two Spirits of Punk Rock Past, one a be-sweatered academic and the other a Ramone. But you know what? Fuck you and your “rules,” man! This is a punk rock story! An-ar-chy! An-ar-chy! An-ar-chy!


So. Lots of funnybooks to talk about today. Two weeks’ worth of floppies, a couple of trades, and of course…

Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
by Bryan Lee O’Malley

I’ll write a much longer piece about this later on, but for now I just wanted to say that the final chapter of the Scott Pilgrim saga does not disappoint. O’Malley’s impressive-but-unpretentious approach holds steady, and he brings the story to its conclusion with nary a false note. The action escalates, as do the emotional stakes, and everything comes together as it always had to. And, most importantly, Scott grows, but remains Scott. Which is as fine a short review as I’m likely to produce, so I’ll stop there.

Grade: A+

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


So Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist group are planning to protest at the San Diego Comicon this weekend. What their problem with funnybooks is, I don't know. But comics writers Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick are planning to donate 50 bucks to AIDS research if they show up, and an additional 10 dollars an hour for every hour they stay. The good Family Fraction are urging others to follow suit, as detailed on Kelly Sue's blog:

And what are they calling their little peaceful counter-protest? God Loves Batman!

You're damn right He does! And so do I! We don't cotton to hate-mongerin' bastards out here on the Dork Forty. Especially not hate-mongerin' bastards who declare their hate in the name of a god that teaches love for your fellow man. This is the best, most positive "F-You" to Phelps I can imagine, and I think I'll be pledging my money out next week, too.

It's what Batman would want.

And any god I'd want to worship, for that matter.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


So I’ve fallen behind on my comics reviews of late. My apologies. After a ferocious week of new books for the week of July 4th, I became totally obsessed with Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin, and have spent most of my “blog” time re-reading and making notes on that amazingly complex series. An in-depth write-up will be coming soon. But in the meantime, I really feel like I should play a little catch-up. And what better place to start than the two books that made that July 4th comics week so very spectacular…

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Did I Mention How Much I Love HP Lovecraft?

So I'm a big fan of the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast. It's two guys, armed with lit degrees and a healthy sense of humor, dissecting the works of HP Lovecraft, one story at at time, in the order they were written. I've been a big Lovecraft fan ever since I first discovered him at around age 12. His stories of Elder Gods and nameless horrors from beyond spoke to me then, and probably had a more profound impact on my world-view than I'd like to admit.

At any rate. The podcast is about a year old now, and they're just getting to the most prolific and creative part of Lovecraft's career. Last week, they covered his story "The Silver Key," and their discussion gave me a far greater appreciation of it than I had before. It's part of Lovecraft's Dreamlands cycle, and like most of the Dreamlands stuff, I read it kind of half-assed when I was a kid, and haven't really ever gone back to it. But their reading made me look at it (and all the Randolph Carter stories, ultimately) as a sort of fantasy autobiography. And in light of where Lovecraft was in his life at the time of writing (he'd just returned home to Providence after his life as a married man in New York fell apart), it's become pretty fascinating to me.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


 Stale funnybooks! Got some outta-date reviews here! They ain't fresh, but they're cheap!

Joe the Barbarian #6 (of 8)
by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy

So an interesting layer gets added to the story this issue: Joe makes it to Hearth Castle, home of the resistance to King Death, and discovers that it’s not so much the last bastion of hope as it is a comfortable tomb for it. And so we see that the story’s not about Joe rescuing his childhood at all. It’s about how his childhood helps him escape the emotional gravity well that is his father’s death. Which is a truer, if sadder, story, and one that I think I like a little better. It also makes this a thematic sequel to All-Star Superman, perhaps a brother title to Batman and Robin, and another incidence of Morrison mythologizing his own father‘s recent passing. I always like seeing him work through these sort of life-altering changes from all these different angles (how many times did he cover the Katmandu incident?), so I'm happy with this. It'll make the re-reading that much more interesting.

Grade: A

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Floppies for Trades 2: Tomb of Dracula

Tomb of Dracula is one of my favorite comics of the 70s. Newsstand distribution being what it was back then, I wasn’t able to get my hands on many issues as a kid, but every one I did manage to find was like a little treasure. A little treasure filled with blood and evil, but hey. That’s how I’ve always rolled.

At any rate. I’ve picked up odd issues of Tomb my whole life, mostly ragged-out copies I stumbled across in dollar boxes. They’re always a hoot, but I’ve never made a concerted effort to collect the series. In bulk, I was afraid, it might lose some of the weird charm it held when reading random issues spread out across the run: Here’s Blade! Here’s a robot with a human brain! Here’s a vampire baby! Here’s that Woody Allen character! None of these issues ever quite made sense to me taken individually, but I loved the macabre chaos of it all. If I had the through line, I thought, if I understood the plotlines, they might cease to be happy nonsense and be revealed as the same sort of shabby crap most 70s comics were.

But I sold off all my old, decaying, headache-inducing copies of Tomb as part of my recent funnybook purge, so when Marvel released the first volume of a new series of color reprints… I decided to take the plunge. Damn the torpedoes, and all that. It was interesting, and somewhat surprising, reading. My memory of the book is that it’s not very good until writer Marv Wolfman comes on in the second year and gets his longer storylines running, at which point it took off and became the batshit masterpiece I remember. I still think that’s the case, mostly, but I was shocked to discover that Wolfman actually came onto the book with issue 7, and that it took a decided downturn in quality when he did.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bat-Villian Bouillabaisse!

Dennis Culver has finished his "Bat-Villain-a-Day" marathon, and the finished product can be seen below in tiny form. But go to his Flickr page to check it out full-size. It's awesome, and there's a character key for all the baddies you don't recognize. I like that he did Egghead and King Tut, but my personal favorite is his interpretation of the Joker. That may be the only updating of the character's look that I've ever liked.

But no Blockbuster, dammit!