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I finally got a chance to check out that hit television show everyone’s been talking about the other night. That’s right, I watched an episode of Glee. And I gotta tell ya, I really didn’t like it too much.

It’s not all the singing, even though 1991, New York City and the broadway musical Cats long ago taught me that I’m not too big a fan of anything relating to a musical in any form (I’m not saying I don’t like music, hell, give me Footloose any day of the week but try and get me to watch Rent again and you’re going to need a gun, some rope and to slap me every ten minutes or so just to keep me awake (the crying I’ll be doing won’t be related to any of those three things)).

And it’s not the overly clichéd cast of characters. I remember the glee club in my high school. I’m pretty sure they were just losers (I’m not saying this from any socially advanced standpoint, I was on the chess team and a mathlete (at least for one week), and we, also, were a bunch of losers). I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a way cool athlete with a heart of gold, or a street tough minority who finds out that he can relate to a way cool athlete with a heart of gold, or anyone nearly as attractive as that brunette girl (or any of them, for that matter).

It’s not the ham-fisted storylines. I mean, really, six people who didn’t want the social stigmata of being in glee club two months ago now fight tooth and nail each and every week to save glee club from being terminated. “Come on guys, let’s have a bake sale to save glee club…again (insert laugh track)”.

It’s not even the current trend to turn everything uncool suddenly cool. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone should be unjustly branded a social outcast, but in the end, high school just wasn’t really all that important, and sometimes it’s good to go through a little hardship to build some character. I recently told a girl that I was in the chess club and a mathlete in high school and she told me that was sexy. My response was “not in 1995”.

But all of those things I can forgive. I can suspend my disbelief.

No, the real reason I don’t like Glee is simply this. I really, really want to punch that kid in the wheelchair. Anytime he’s on screen, anytime he talks, especially anytime he sings, I just want to punch him. It’s actually a little disturbing just how much I want to punch him. And I’m pretty sure that the desire to punch him makes me a bad person. Right? I just don’t need that on my conscience.
As a part of a recent wide-sweeping life change, I’ve become a vegetarian. Well, it’s more than just that, but I’ll get into that another time. As far as the vegetarianism goes, I have yet to stray, nor any real plans to ever. But it’s not easy, at least not for me.

You see, I’m also a big fan of free food. And working at a hotel that has a small deli in the lobby, well, you come across a lot of free food. Hell, in life you come across a lot of free food. And that food is rarely vegetarian. But, more to the point, in my search for vegetarian meals, I’ve been trying out a whole new array of sandwiches at a variety of local shops. And there one thing I’ve noticed consistently.

What the fuck is with all the cucumbers?

Just because I prefer more vegetables in my diet nowadays, doesn’t mean I necessarily like all vegetables. And more directly, that means cucumbers.

I had a veggie panini at D’Amico and Sons shop in the Mill City Museum yesterday. It had cucumbers. I got a garden salad from a pizza joint last week. Cucumbers. I ordered a veggie sub at Subway the other day, and the lady asked me “Would you like cucumbers on that?”

I had one good cucumber, once. It was out of my friend Johnnie and Rebecca’s garden out back of their house in south Minneapolis. And I didn’t even enjoy that one all that much.

I also don’t like pickles. I don’t like Dill pickles or giant gas station pickles or fresh State Fair pickles wrapped up in a napkin. Do you know why?

They’re just cucumbers in disguise. I won’t fall for their trickery.

I’ll eat tofu and tofurkey and some kind of protein laden rice called Quinoa. I’ll eat corn and veggie burgers and Triple Rock’s vegan “cheese” sauce. I’ll take a bean burrito from Taco Bell any day of the week.

But enough with the goddam cucumbers already.

In Search of a Vegan SxSw

For the second year in a row, I made the long journey down yonder to enjoy the greatest, and drunkest, music-filled days of my year. The objective? To find as many free shows with free beer and free food attached as possible in four short days. The only catch? This year, two of us were vegans and one a recently converted vegetarian (sorry, Pete). Luckily, when it came to beer, we were all on the same page.

Day 1 started with a walk down Guadalupe street in search of a MN showcase starring our friend Mark Mallman (and more importantly, the guy we actually know in the band, drummer Aaron LeMay). They were playing in the upstairs room at Lamberts, a popular downtown BBQ joint with a surprisingly nice stage area in an upstairs room. But with the aforementioned two vegans and one vegetarian (again, sorry, Pete), food had to be sought out elsewhere. Finding a small pita wrap shop around the corner that catered to all of our needs, we chowed down (including an embarrassing moment when my friend Will informed me that the fruit smoothie of his that I was tasting was steak-flavored, bringing in to question my true dedication to a vegetarian life, not to mention my alarming gullibility).

Fully sated, we returned to Lamberts for a not-surprisingly amazing show by Mallman (in his Ruby Isle incarnation) that winded up with several covers off of Guns’n’Roses Appetite for Destruction. If you’ve never seen Mallman live, you’re denying yourself a true pleasure.

By the second day, we had only one objective. Free beer. Followed by free music and free food. We found our first purchase at Club De Ville, where the show was free and a wristband cost you 3$. What did this wristband do? Well, it got you all the free Miller High Life you could drink, as long as supplies lasted.

Supplies did not last.

After standing in two lines, one for the outside satellite bar and another for the main indoor bar, we were informed that supplies were exhausted for the time being (the implication being that there would be restocking, but no word on when or if this would happen would be given by any of the staffers). 3$ down and beerless, we debated moving on, but damn if we weren’t going to get our 3$ worth.

A few overpriced whiskeys later and we were back in business, steadily cutting into our costly overhead on whiskey with free beer after free beer (Tecate this time around, but the wristband still worked). And I’m glad we did, because we saw two worthwhile bands called Small Black (I approached the lead singer after his set to ask the bands name on behalf of my friend Nikki, but thought I heard him incorrectly and told her, “I think he said Small Black, but that can’t be right, can it? What does that mean?” (It was Small Black, and I still don’t know what that means)) and The Vivian Girls, from whom Nikki purchased a vinyl.

After that, still working on bringing our whiskey overhead down, we met a nice fella named Andrew who pointed us off the beaten path to a bar on the opposite side of 35 where we could find cheap drinks and a good time, but we never found said establishment. Instead, we found The Iron Gate, the home of an unofficial MN party last year that I had worked at and a place where Brooklyn Blvd Lager was only 2$ a glass. I purchased a round for the group with shoe money (Will had informed me earlier that it was always safer to distribute your money across several locations on your person in case of robbery, not realizing how truly paranoid I am and that I would, in fact, shove a bunch of money into my shoes).

We decided it had been a long enough day and started to head back home when we came across a liquor store and determined it also best to stock up when the opportunity arose. A line had formed and a bouncer was only letting a few people in at a time, and when it came to our turn at the front of the line, Krystal perched herself on the lip of the door, swinging inward when the bouncer opened the door to let some customers out and disappearing when the door closed back up in our faces. But she got us our booze, including a last minute drunken impulse buy of some pomegranate infused tequila (tequila=goodness, pomegranate infused tequila=why, oh why did I buy pomegranate infused tequila?).

The third day left us free to do what we pleased, seeing as we weren’t Chris Riemenschneider and we didn’t have to walk around with Solid Gold’s balls firmly grasped in each of our hands. We returned to Club De Ville for the trifecta of perfection for our shared vacation, a smattering of free music, free beer and free vegan food. It was the Brooklyn Vegan day party, and it was awesome.

Vegan breakfast burritos. Vegan granola. Vegan desserts. And all the Magic Hat beer you could drink. We corralled a bench and dug in, thinking this amazing dream had to end soon. It didn’t. 1 hour rolled by. 2 hours rolled by. 3 and then 4, and still, there was beer and food to be had and music to be listened to. I’d like to tell you I recalled who exactly played at this show, but then I’d just be lying to you.

We finally left behind the paradise we had discovered to travel down the road and see our old friends The Pines play a Red House Records showcase. The walk did us some good, The Pines sang us some songs, and the afternoon went on. Having partied hardy all day long, I found myself perched on a street curb while Krystal and Nikki picked up some vegan dogs from a stand next to the Red-Eyed Fly, debating where to go with myself next when Krystal swooped down with the best jalapeno drenched vegan dog I think I’ll ever have in my life.

We hit up a punk showcase Nikki wanted to see next (after the girls spent an exorbitant amount of money just to get their own money out of a cash machine, fuck you banks of America). Will and I didn’t make it long, and soon we found ourselves leaving behind the girls for the comforts of the hotel bar, where spouts of pool playing, shot taking and projectile vomiting (not by either Will or myself) filled the rest of our evening.

Saturday found me a little hung over (after I finally sobered up around noon) and off to what would be by far my favorite show of the festival. At a small record shop far off the beaten path, we found local celebrities Peter Wolf-crier putting on an amazingly spare and beautiful set to a group of would-be hipsters intently listening to every word and note. I had wanted to see this band play, having enjoyed the few songs I’ve heard over the past few months, but never would have made the arduous journey into the far north (south, east, west? Wherever we were, it was far from familiar ground) without the urgings of Nikki, who I owe a debt of gratitude to for hauling this kid out there. And I was repaid with an amazing performance and a t-shirt I almost never want to stop wearing, a perfect find by Nikki in the back of the record shop (and purchased by her for me), and a shirt you’ll have to someday see.

We traveled the streets for a bit more, looking for something to eat, when we came across a corner restaurant that Will had recalled reading was both vegan and vegetarian, and we decided to try it out. Inside, I firmly established myself as the asshole who wears his sunglasses indoors (I was still a little rough at this point, late into the afternoon) and we ate some mediocre but filling fare. And after a few margaritas, we found our footing once again and finished our festival with a bang, but that’s all a story for another time.

Blue Rhino Review

Well, it’s time for some more reviews. Unfortunately, monetary obligations have prevented me from the purchase of anything new lately. Fret not, though, loyal reader, for thanks to a friend, I was recently able to read the entire run of a series I’ve been waiting years to get into. So, here we go…

Transmetropolitan #1-60

I don’t know.

Given an overall impression, I’d guess I’d say I liked it (despite the impression you may get from what you are about to read). I don’t know that I’d ever read it again, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (although quite certainly not a good thing). But there are highlights, and the story has a genuine feel of a coherent beginning, middle and end. Warren Ellis definitely knew where he was going with this story, or at least where he wanted to go, and he created an environment where that could happen naturally and, I don’t know, efficiently? That doesn’t sound very complimentary, but it’s meant to be. The story never feels forced, even though I get the impression that it definitely has its own deadlines to meet.

But enough with the compliments, let’s get to some criticism, right?

This book suffers more than anything else he’s written from being just too much Warren Ellis. Honestly, if I had read it from the start, he would have lost me in the first year. And although some throw-away comments in later issues kind of “justify” the first year of the book, if I had been there running along with it, I’d have never made it. It’s just Ellis spouting off, which, granted, can be interesting, but isn’t always so. It’s like an old friend of mine once said about Prince when he signed that 6 record deal, the guy was just putting out everything he wrote to get through it, and sure, some of it was brilliant, but most of it was just drivel. You should see some of the crap I write on a day-to-day basis (yeah, sorry, you’re actually getting the best of it. I know, I know, I’m sorry, ok?).

So you spend twelve issues just listening to Ellis bitch and moan. Wait. Shit. That’s all Blue Rhino Review is, isn’t it? Crap. Anyway, if you know Ellis, then you know it’s just all cyber-punk psycho-babble and half of it is undecipherable. It just gets old, fast. And you never get to meet our titular character, Spider Jerusalem, through almost all of it. Sure, he’s there, but not the Spider that eventually enters the pages of the book. We don’t once see the Spider that mourns the loss of Vera (a loss he never really gets over) or the Spider that thanks and kisses Yelena on the forehead (quite possibly the best moment in the entire run) or the Spider that leaves Liesl behind (quite possibly the saddest moment). It’s just “funny”, “wacky”, “gonzo” Spider that I’m sure caused Ellis no small amount of personal amusement as he vomited the frenzy of words out of his mind, onto the page and into Spider’s mouth.

Maybe some people think this is brilliant. I just find it kind of annoying and irrelevant, for the most part. It’s interested when incorporated into a story in some way, as Ellis often does in the brunt of his other work, but taken just straightforward and on the page, I found my mind wandering while I waited to get through all the fluff and into the heart of what I was reading.

But Ellis does all the right things you need in a story. Like I said above, there’s a definite beginning, middle and end. All of the characters grow. There’s conclusion for everyone. No one ever breaks mold. They all act, sound and react the way you’d think they would. There’s some definite twists, but you can also kind of see the layout of the land before you get there.

And none of those things make this book worth anything. Don’t get me wrong, because without them the book would not have been nearly as good. But what makes this book good is those odd nuggets when Ellis forgets story and plot and the big picture and gives us the little things that make everyone human. The moments I mentioned above and a handful of other ones, scattered throughout its sixty issues, are what really makes Transmet worth reading. You need all the rest so that they mean that much more, but it’s those moments that are worth the price of admission.

And so I’ve gone against every other Warren Ellis fanatic alive by deciding that what I liked about Transmet were the quiet moments, when we got to slow down for a minute and meet each character for a minute, instead of just reading about them.

Product Brand X's day to shine

I’ve got some good news for you, Product Brand X.

You’re clever marketing campaign has paid off. The witty commercials you put on television really got to me. Those colorful ads I saw in the magazines I frequent like People and GQ and Teen People really worked.

When a twenty-something in a fancy new suit told the board of directors that this new market strategy he came up with will “really fool some suckers out there”, he was absolutely right. I’m that sucker, and I’ve been fooled. Hook, line and sinker.

I’m not going to think about the bills I have to pay or the mortgage payment I can’t miss or the debt collectors, breathing down my neck. Because that’s not what America is about. That’s not the dream I had growing up in my affluent suburb, with good schooling, a fantastic public library system and a variety of other public works all at arms length. The dream I had was you, Product Brand X. It will always be you.

But what’s the good news, you’re asking? Well, let me tell you.

George Bush stimulated me today.

And now I’m coming for you, Product Brand X. I’m coming for you.

Blue Rhino Review

I’m already three martinis in to what is obviously a seven martini day, so I apologize if the following reviews get a little snarky. I don’t think they will, but one never knows…

Daredevil #106

All right, all right, I know I told you last time that Criminal is the best Brubaker you can get right now, but this issue might just disprove that theory. Some of that may have to do with the amazingly beautiful art of Paul Azaceta, who guest pencil’s this issue, but a lot of it still has to do with the fact that Ed Brubaker is just a damn good writer.

Daredevil has suffered loss after loss after loss for, well, basically ever. And there have been many great stories where he suffers through those losses and reasserts himself that have come before (the Miller/Azzurello run from the eighties, anyone?). But this is a damn fine issue where we don’t know if the hero is coming back or if he’s finally going to break. I guess that’s been the theme of the entire Brubaker run, but this issue really bats that concept out of the park, as we see his friends hoping, almost hopelessly, that he’ll come back, but knowing that for the first time, he just may not.

Loveless #23

I just don’t get this comic book. I loved the whole first “run”, “arc”, whatever you’d call it. But I’m still confused since it’s been about ten issues since the lead got killed, and two now since I’ve even come close to understanding what’s going on.

I enjoy Azzarello’s odd style of writing, with all of its cleverness. But I only enjoy it when I still have the faintest concept of just what the hell is going on. This issue (and the last, but not as much as this one) have completely lost me. And I swear, if things don’t pick up in the next five issues or so, I’ll bitch for the following six before I actually drop the book.

All Star Superman #10

You just don’t get much better than this book. From the first page of issue one (in which Morrisson was basically able to dissect the essence of Superman down into one page, four panels), I’ve been hooked. But the last panel in the tenth issue of this stunning series just blew me away. Never has Superman’s iconic nature (iconasy?) been more well portrayed than in those last moments. By far the best tribute to Siegel and Shuster one will ever see, and yes, I am saying that for the future as well. It doesn’t get better than this.

The New Avengers #39

Fuck you, Bendis. That’s right, I’m saying it. I didn’t sleep through this one like I did Secret Invasion, but man do I wish I would have.

The Twelve #4

I’m starting to think that maybe J. Michael Straczynski isn’t actually a writer. I think he might have just fooled us with a few shining moments. Just like the Spin Doctors.

That’s right, I brought up the Spin Doctors.

Maybe those martinis are taking more effect than I thought, because that’s all I’ve really got for you. No real snark, at least no more than usual. Actually, kind of boring. Sorry about that.

Blue Rhino Review

Jumping Jesus, can it be true? Can the Blue Rhino Review really be back? I thought the guy behind it all was too busy sipping Parisian coffee while following more intellectual pursuits. Could it be that he just hasn’t written one in a while?

Well, some of it had to do with money and my distinct lack of it, and some of it had to do with all the time I spend trying to write crappy plays that no one ever comes to see, but most of it is that I’m just a lazy fuck. I’ll try and be better.

I have been purchasing the occasional comic when I find the urge unbearable. Let’s take a look at some of my most recent pulls…

The Walking Dead #48

I think I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong with this book, and it’s not just that I can’t stand Robert Kirkman. It’s that he’s pretending to write a character-driven piece when, in the end, all it really is is a plot-driven work. All of the complaints I’ve had in the past about how the characters will suddenly lose their own voice in order to drive some point home all makes sense now. I know, I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out, either.

Now, the plot isn’t half bad. Kirkman has his moments, despite being a total ass-hat. Some of the twists and turns have been interesting, but the thing is, he sees the whole story. He knows where we’re going next. And his work suffers for it, or more importantly, his characters suffer for it. They don’t live in Kirkman’s head, they don’t have their own voices whispering things in his ears at night. They just do what he tells them to do, and when he can’t figure out how to explain some “really cool” thing that he wants his readers to appreciate for his brilliance in coming up with it, he steals their voices and just tells us “oh, yeah, look at this, I mean, really, look at it, how smart am I? I’m so smart.”

So fuck you, Kirkman. I’ve got you figured out.

But overall, I’m actually kind of starting to enjoy elements of this book.

Casanova #13

“I come from the future to save you from boring.”

Really, if that line didn’t sell you on this whole book right there, then Casanova might not be the book for you. But if it hit you the same way that it hit me, then stop reading my stupid thoughts on this fantastic book and go out there and start spending $1.99 a month on the greatest thing to happen to comic books since, well, ever, I guess.

Fantastic Four #556

Do you remember back when Mark Millar used to be a writer? You know, before he spent all day navel-gazing and crunching numbers on how much more his book is selling than yours? I sure do miss those days.

A giant robot that can beat up anyone. A whole new planet that we can go to live on when our planet dies. Hot chicks in their underwear. I liked this whole story a lot more when I came up with it back when I was like ten.

And all I can imagine is Mark Millar, sitting at his computer and giggling while he writes all these “witty” lines that every character seems to have. It’s like my complaint with the book Candy Girl by Diablo Cody (which, up until now, you probably haven’t heard before since I’ve never really vocalized the complaint in any way), but, really, no one’s that “on” all the goddam time. I am the shining star in that beacon of truth. Every line, every comeback, every observation does not have to be the most brilliant thing ever spoken up until this point. Sometimes it can just be dialogue for dialogues sake, to fill in those spots between the good stuff so you’re not just eating frosting all day long.

Ultimate X-Men #92

More Robert Kirkman madness.

This is what it’s all been leading up to? This is his penultimate take on the Ultimate X-Universe? The rise of the Phoenix? Why can’t these writers just leave well enough alone? Mark Millar (this is back in those good Mark Millar days) told the best Phoenix story that could have been told in the Ultimate Universe way back in, like, issue 30. It was good. It had a beginning, middle and an end. It was startling satisfying for a character that has been beaten into the ground in the good ole 616 Marvel Universe.

But no, no, Kirkman’s got a better story to tell. You know, that one that Chris Claremont already told back in the eighties. Where Jean Grey tries and tries to keep it in, but so much baggage keeps getting heaped onto her that she eventually breaks and let’s the fowl beast out. And here’s the shocker of the whole thing, even for me, but goddammit if Chris Claremont didn’t actually write it better.

What?!? NO! It’s not possible. Did I just compliment Chris Claremont? Unforgiveable. Look what you made me do, Kirkman. You’ll pay for this.

Secret Invasion #1



Criminal 2 #2

Wha? Huh? You want to know what I thought about Criminal 2 #2? Why? Oh, because I’m doing a Blue Rhino Review. Sorry, I’m a little groggy when I first wake up, I must have gone under reading Secret Invasion #1.

But Criminal, well now, Criminal just makes me want to smile. I can’t get enough of this book. Brubaker needs to stop worrying about his superheroes and get down with his noir-side a bit more (his two best books are by far Criminal and Daredevil (which is, I know, a superhero book, but not the way Bru writes it)). And I know, his Captain America is a superhero book and yes, it is amazing, but nothing compared to this work.

If you’re the kind of person that thinks that James Patterson is the best thing to happen to crime storytelling, then this book isn’t for you. But if you’re the kind of person who’s still OK with not really knowing everything that happened in The Maltese Falcon and still being all right with that because it’s one of the best books you’ve ever read, then why aren’t you reading Criminal?

That’s it for now. I have more comic books, and I promise, I’ll start doing some more reviews. There’s gotta be another Kirkman book I can be disappointed in lying around here somewhere…

No Time for TV: Chuck

[video] [400 cedar]

Episode four of a series where "new" episodes of your favorite television shows are performed live on stage at the legendary 400 Bar in Minneapolis. Performed February 11, 2008.

No Time For TV: How I Met Your Mother

I want to thank everyone who made it out last week, it was a great time. [No Time for TV: How I Met Your Mother] These things are really starting to come together, and everyone had so much fun last week. But this week is going to be even bigger, when we bring you Chuck with special guests International Espionage! Espionage will even be playing a set right after the play, so come down and check it out. My good friend Will Tolle will be rounding the night out with another amazing set. I know what you're thinking, how much could all of this cost me? Ten bucks? Fifteen? No, wait, it's free! Free!

So come down, bring your friends, have a beer and have a good time. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. youtube.com/400cedar

Blue Rhino Review

I’m thirty years old, I don’t have a job, it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving and I only have about fifty bucks in my checking account. What does that all add up to? New comic books! That’s right, I figure the difference between fifty and twenty-five is almost negligible, so why not pick up this weeks exciting new books?

Hellblazer #238

This one almost didn’t make it home with me, not because I don’t love it, but because I figured I could pick it up after I got a little more money again. But then I saw that Daniel Zezelj was on art duties, and I just love this guys work. Mostly because it takes me so long to figure out what the hell is going on from panel to panel. In my younger days, this was always a drag, as I wanted to get through as many comic books as quickly as I could. But in my wisened old age, I’ve come to appreciate the intricacies of the medium. And unlike Mark Bagley (whoah, whoah, whoah, he’s not going to blaspheme Mark Bagley, is he?), Daniel’s work is a tapestry of wonders.

And the story wasn’t half bad either. One of those done-in-ones that you know is going to come back and haunt old John somewhere again down the road.

Action Comics #859

Sometimes I get a little bored with Geoff Johns and his orgasms over everything holy about the Golden Age of comic books. Or maybe I’ve just never been a legion guy, but this book was just blah. Or, better yet, just bleh. Maybe it’ll get better, maybe it won’t. I find myself barely able to care.

The Programme #5

When Peter Milligan is on, Peter Milligan is on. This book has continued to please and to grow in both story and pleasure from issue to issue. It’s complex yet simple all at the same time, with a limited enough cast of characters to enable you to follow along from issue to issue, but enough of an ensemble to tell the kind of sweeping story he wants to deliver. Plus, there’s a guy that thought he was Joe McCarthy. Yes, Senator Joe McCarthy. That’s fucking brilliant.

Captain America #32

This storyline just feels like a holding pattern. Maybe it’s because we’re waiting for the big stuff to finally play out, but each issue feels like a bit of a let-down in the sense that not enough answers are given, although in all honesty, I couldn’t imagine a single page, even a single panel, that was unnecessary in any of the past seven issues. I can’t decide if I want to bitch about this or just get to the point where it all falls into place.

The Boys #12

Yank, yank, my friend, yank, yank.

The Walking Dead #44

After actually liking the last issue (thereby causing a fat lady to sing, somewhere), I was once again let down by all things Kirkman. No one is safe! Ooooooohhh. The crazy governor is crazy, I don’t know quite why everyone else is doing what they’re doing (from the governor’s men to the people in the prison), there’s lots of death and little story, and poor Rick gets a gut shot. Whatever.

The man has good ideas (like the governor’s people taking so long to learn how to drive the tank, but not actually knowing how to fire the turrets) to Michonne’s realization (“it looks like they barely know how to drive that thing, let alone load and fire it”), but just such poor delivery. It still sounds like a damn instruction manual to what the story should be. Bend this 90 degrees, insert tab A into slot B, instructions in Spanish on reverse side. It just doesn’t quite work, at all.

But how about this. I don’t want to punch Kirkman in the neck anymore. I’d still spit in his food, and I’d probably make snide comments behind his back, but I don’t want to punch him in the neck anymore. And, hey, progress is progress, right?

Blue Rhino Review

I managed to find some money for comic books again by just not paying other, less important bills, and thanks to that, you get another dose of vile hatred about the industry I love and cherish…

DMZ #24

An amazing look at what it’s like not to have the right answer, not to be the hero and not to be the villain all at the same time. Amina, who we met during the Public Works arc earlier this year, comes back to show us that sometimes a life saved isn’t always the best way out. And we finally see some kinks in the Matty Roth armor. Not to say that he hasn’t shown fallibility in the past, but it’s always been in the light of innocent victim/mistaken do-goodedry (do-goodedry?). But now we see Matty through the eyes of those he’s “saving”, literally in this case, and how one persons savior can be another’s damnation. This book really is the best book out there right now, especially for none-comic book readers, because it skirts both worlds (people like me and people like most the rest of you), and it does it elegantly.

Fables #66

The battle between Shere Khan and Bluebeard alone makes this book worth purchasing, not to mention another thrilling chapter in an insanely good story. The Good Prince feels almost epic, which is I think what Willingham was trying to get across. This story is big, it’s classic and it’s not like anything you’ve ever seen (if that’s possible while still being called “classic”). A character that spent the first 50 issues of this book being a fly on the wall (shit, I think that could be considered a pun, sorry about that) suddenly becomes the most important character in the whole book. I’ll be sad when Willingham eventually leaves this book for things like Shadowpact. Ewwww.

The Mighty Avengers #5

I don’t know if it’s the lateness of this book, the lack of an interesting plot thus far or just the loopholes in reality that make me want to vomit more, but vomit I wanted to after reading this garbage. What, did you think I was actually going to enjoy all the books that came out this week? The Sentry continues to be confounding, Ultron continues to bore me and I continue to not care about this mix-match of a team. Oooh, is Ms. Marvel really dead? Just like Iron Man? Oh, wait, they’re both in all of the other books coming out, which take place long after this storyline since it can’t seem to come out on time, and therefore any sacrifices made in this story are in vain. Including my contribution of $2.99.

The Boys #11

I can’t seem to stop buying this book, despite not being able to stand it. Maybe it’s just because I want to see how much more “witty” Garth Ennis can be each month in his usage of the word “fuck” (see “Blue Rhino Review” for similar effect). Jokes about Wolverine masturbating don’t even make sense, not to mention the “character development” that takes place within. Oh, they’re still a bunch of pricks who thinks superheroes are even bigger pricks you say? How interesting, Mr. Ennis, how oh so very interesting.

Bleh.

And now, it’s time for Kirkmania!

Ultimate X-men #87

Forget everything I’ve said about Kirkman’s Ultimate X-men up to this point and just go buy this issue. When you get home read it. Now read it again. See why you can forget everything I’ve said so far? It’s because he makes every single mistake in writing, all in one fabulous issue. In fact, I’d like to throw out my vote for this being the single worst issue of the century out there right now. That’s right, I went there, the century. I’m willing to give up 93 years of potential crap candidates all for this issue.

From the unrealistic dialogue (no one even talks like themselves, they just act as plot advancement devices, the highlight being the dialogue given in Sryfe’s “memory” sequence) to the absolute absurdity of the fail-safe to the even more absurd way in which the Sentinels are defeated to Bishop working for Cable (oh, sorry, uh, spoiler alert there) to, I don’t know, Kirkman being a fucking hack. Jesus Christ, you couldn’t choose a more tired plotline than this (unless you’re Chris Claremont) and then Kirkman can’t even…uh…head…hurts…going to…kill…hurt…maim…Kirkman…anger…smash…arghh!

Marvel Zombies One Shot: Dead Days

You’re not going to believe this, but the script wasn’t terrible in this book. It wasn’t great, hell, it wasn’t even good, but it didn’t anger me in unspeakable ways. Now the plot, well, the plot is another story, or should I say lack of story. What the hell was the point of this book? Oh, wait, I know, it was to get me to spend $3.99. You motherfuckers. I will get that $3.99 back in kind, someday. Yes, someday.

the Blue Rhino Review

After spending several amazing weeks somewhere down near the bottom (my lap top broke, I got robbed, people seem to keep getting murdered in my neighborhood, I’m broke, I sometimes smell funky, and so on and so on…), I’m back with a very special edition of the Blue Rhino Review. It’s only really special because I have my friend’s lap top for the afternoon so I can prepare for a job interview in Fairbault on Thursday that I’m woefully underqualified and not even slightly prepared for. But, hey, that’s Thursday. Ready for some comic books?

New Avengers #34

Blech. If Leinel Frances Yu wasn’t drawing this, I’d just have to come up with some other odd reason to still be buying this book, because it’s not the story. That smells worse than whatever’s currently growing in my sink. From the boringly slow pace this story has decided to move at to the horribly clichéd “true images” of our heroes to the lack of me caring about an army of symbiotes attacking New York to the…fuck…whatever. This book blows. Hard.

Ultimate Spider-Man #113

Let me risk getting strung up and beaten the next time I’m around three or more nerds, but thank god Bagley is finally gone from this book. The man is a house artist. Do you know what a house artist is? He’s that guy you bring on when the real artists can’t finish a book on time. He’s someone you keep on retainer because he can fill pages when the need arises. He’s not good. Am I the only person alive who can see this?

So why am I complaining so much about an artist that has now left the book? Because Stuart Immonen is the proof of what could have been done for this book for 111 issues, and no one’s talking about this. Everyone is just bemoaning the loss of Bagley. I’m sorry, “loss”.

Wow, I really am an asshole.

The Walking Dead #42

I’ll let you know when this book starts getting interesting instead of predictable, and also when Kirkman starts working on character development instead of plot advancement seen through the eyes of “character development”. But don’t hold your breath on either count.

100 Bullets #85

Although this book has become remarkably clearer in plot over the past year, I still have no clue what the hell is going on. I get the idea though that this issue was pretty week considering how much time we have left before everything hits the fan, assuming it hasn’t already. I’m a little nervous to see how slowly this book is being scheduled currently, especially with issues like this filling the stands only ever so often.

Ultimate X-Men #86

See my review of Walking Dead #42. And then, if you happen to run into Kirkman, punch him in the neck for me. All right, don’t punch him in the neck, that’s rude, maybe just spit at him a little or something. Then tell him to stop writing comic books so I can stop wasting my money on everything he puts out just so I can bitch about it. The whole relationship is just getting tired.

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Blue Rhino Review

It’s that time again, but there’s a slight problem. I’m broke, I’m paring the collection down, I have to be “smart” about my current purchases and, oh yeah, I’m broke. So we’re going to run through a blast from the past, as I’ve randomly selected numerous issues from my vast collection (and it is very vast, ladies), so here we go…

The Mask #4 (October, 1991)

Go out right now, buy this issue, turn to page 16 and look at the bottom panel on this page and then try and tell me you’re not disappointed with your purchase. I’m serious. Do it right now!

The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 (1988)

Speedball. I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve never really meant it until now. Wow. Speedball.

Tom DeFalco writes the same issue I read a good three hundred times throughout the nineties (and he did it in the eighties!). Just pure crap. Daredevil is there so we know the hero is telling the truth (even though we already know the hero is telling the truth). The Kingpin crushes some people and gets really upset that he’s managed to run a multi-million dollar operation without fail for lo these many years. Oh, and Speedball is introduced.

This annual is part of the Evolutionary War, no, wait, I’m sorry, The Evolutionary War, a running them between annuals at Marvel that was their answer to “wow, Crisis sold a shitload for those DC bastards!”. Yet they just never seemed to really get it right.

At least things have finally changed at the house of ideas. Sarcasm really doesn’t sell as well in written form (or maybe I’m just a bad writer (as for sarcastic pretentiousness…)).

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Blue Rhino Review

What a week. I had just recently decided to drop a number of titles that I collect in order to par down the amount of shit I’ve managed to collect in the past thirty years, and yet I still somehow spent 40$ on new comic books this week. And do you want to know the weirdest part about it all? I was actually excited to read all of them (well, almost all of them, but you’ll see…)

Powers #25

This is what Brian Michael Bendis should be doing. No more New Avengers. No more Mighty Avengers. No more Ultimate Spider-Man (gasp! Blasphemy!). Just Powers. And it should come out every week.

Let me be the first to say that I loved the Brian Michael Bendis cover to this issue (there were two, the other from Oeming, the regular artist). It’s priceless. I was angry at first, until I got the joke. At least I hope it’s a joke, I’m going to stay with thinking it is.

But Powers is by far the highlight of Mr. Bendis’ illustrious career. It’s the book that I once drunkenly ranted about for hours when one of the final issues of the first series was a “full” issue with no ads or letters page in order to tell more story.

But here’s the thing. This book is starting to suffer, and I think it’s because of all the aforementioned books that I think he should quit. Because this book is the shit, and it’s starting to not be, and I hope it doesn’t slip any more.

P.S., enough with the sex in comic books, Bendis. We all know they’re “real”, and showing people fucking for three pages doesn’t help establish their “realness” for me, it just makes me think that you are a very, very disturbed and under-sexed individual.

Still a good book, but come on.

DMZ #22

I loved the anti-climactic climactic ending to this storyline. I like that the shit hit the fan last issue, and this issue just deals with the aftermath of said shit hitting said fan. Brian Wood says to hell with deconstruction, this is just how I’m telling the story, and bless him for that. He doesn’t drag us along with nothing for four issues and then toss us a bag of scraps in the end and tell us it’s a feast. In fact, I think DMZ should do away entirely with the “story arc”. They should just be issues, each of them are content and full enough on their own to stand up on their own two feet. They’re all a part of the greater whole, not just filler until we get to the meat, which seems to go rotten before we ever get there in other books a lot of the time.

Thank you, Brian Wood.

The New Avengers #33

Other than the sixty bucks I can now make on ebay for my old “Hood” mini-series, this issue totally blew. Actually, it didn’t even blow, because that might actually be construed as accomplishing something. Just like the movie Sicko, I walked into this thing knowing just as much as I did walking out, and I’ll I got for my time was a semi-queasy, sickish feeling in my stomach.

Sure, it’s got all the stuff the kids like these days. Flashy dialogue that’s “funny”. Guns and death. A lack of trust. Deathlok. And on the surface, I guess that makes it good. I just think that Bendis is hoping that nobody looks past the surface. Because if you take away all the flash and pomp, all that’s left is just another crappy Avengers story from the nineties. Ouch.

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Blue Rhino Review

Here we go again. More comics, more potential suckiness. Will this mad, vicious cycle ever end?

World War Hulk #2 & 3

I don’t know. It’s better than issue #1. Is that a compliment? I guess. Maybe. The continuity issues are better (they can never be gone, this is Marvel, after all, and Joe Quesada’s Marvel at that). I guess maybe the biggest problem I have with this whole story is that I really just don’t care. Not even a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Hulk fan. I collected the damn book for over a decade. And in the end, this is just another same old Hulk story I’ve read a hundred times before. Give me back Bruce Jones, who wrote the most original and intriguing Hulk I’ve ever read. Greg Pak can just go blow it out his unimpressive ass for all I care.

The New Avengers Illuminati #4 (of 5)

Ho-hum. I guess this has been the best issue so far, but that’s not saying a whole lot. It’s like saying it’s two times nothing. It’s still just nothing. Honestly, I don’t even really remember what happened in this issue. I remember a couple of lines making me laugh, but hey, I laughed at a couple of lines in Wedding Crashers, too. Wedding Crashers.

Thor #2

I just don’t like you any more, JMS. You’re writing has stopped impressing me, and I’m starting to wonder if it ever did, or if it was just different and therefore I thought it was good. I don’t know. Sure, you revitalized Spider-Man, and I thank you for that, but you’ve managed to go nowhere with that whole thing. And yes, I liked your Fantastic Four issues, but that was based solely on Mike McKone’s stunning artwork. But don’t even ask me about Supreme Power. Bleh. And now Thor?

Has anything even happened in the last two issues? I’d be hard pressed to come up with an answer to that question. I do like the concept presented in issue #2, I love anything mythology related that has to also do with people’s beliefs, but did we need two issues to get to this point? In case you haven’t been following the tone of my questioning, the answer to that question would be no.

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witlessworm.com meetup

I have another reading. It's tonight. Apparently, I'm bad at telling my friends about these things. I wish I was better, but, then again, I also kind of wish I had some money, a nicer home and the ability to tell my friends about my readings a little sooner than the day off. So, you know, life's not perfect.

I'm reading several stories this evening, all of them good. I have to say that, so you'll be enticed. One's about love. One's about fashion (and my lack of...). One's a short I wrote long ago, about Vanilla Ice (yes, the crappy white rapper). I also have a few shorts that are two-sided, and that you may have read, that go by the moniker "Spider-man and I" and are about me, well, talking with Spider-man.

Spider-man will be played by my esteemed best friend, Mr. Todd Demerath.

Please come. It's my last reading for who knows how long, and even if that is just some clever line to get you to show up, it might actually be true.

400 bar
Ada Jane / Ben Wilinski / Leslie Ostarander / Jeremy Bishop / Jennifer Mack, Natalie Brown, Melisa Brown, Sharon Picasso-Merrick.
8:00 PM (7:00 PM doors)
18 plus with valid ID.
$6.00

Blue Rhino Review

You know you want it. You know you need it. You know you set your clock by it, and are subsequently always late. It’s time for more comic book reviews…

Ultimate Fantastic Four #44

Have I told you how much I love Mike Carey? Not in that Joe Casey man-crush kind of way, but in the “boy, can this guy write” kind of way.

Silver Surfer? Check. Silver Surfer being cool? Check. Ultimate Reed Richards acting like the Ultimate Reed Richards? Double check.

This book is awesome. You should be reading it.

Doktor Sleepless #1

I have no idea what the fuck happened in this issue, but that doesn’t matter. Want to know why? The dialogue is amazing. Maybe this book will suck. Maybe it will be great. Maybe it’ll just be.

But reading the lines that Warren Ellis’ whiskey-addled brain comes up with are well worth the price of admission.

We should take a moment to pause here and note that, however brief they might be, there have been two reviews in the positive note. Am I in the right place? Is this really the Blue Rhino Review?

The Programme #1

Let’s start with I don’t know what the fuck happened in this issue, and I’ll second that with there not being the dialogue found in Doktor Sleepless.

But I still liked this book.

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Spider-Man and I

Me: So, I’ve been avoiding creditors lately.

Spider-Man: How do you avoid creditors?

Me: It’s actually quite simple.

SM: Really?

Me: Really.

SM: So how do you do it?

Me: Simple. You just don’t answer your phone.

SM: It’s that simple?

Me: It’s that simple.

SM: And what does not answering your phone do?

Me: Not answering your phone doesn’t allow the creditors to make you feel guilty about how much money you owe them.

SM: Don’t they have other ways of getting their money from you?

Me: I’d imagine, but for the first few months they just call a lot.

SM: And you just don’t answer.

Me: I just don’t answer.

SM: Hmph.

Me: What would you do about creditors looking for money?

SM: Well, I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t have the option of not answering my phone.

Me: Why is that?

SM: Well, I don’t have a phone.

Me: You don’t have a phone?

SM: I don’t have a phone.

Me: No phone?

SM: Well, Peter Parker has a phone, but I don’t have a phone.

Me: But you have creditor issues?

SM: Well, no.

Me: Because you can’t get a credit card.

SM: Well, yeah.

Me: Because you don’t have a social security number, an address, or a phone number.

SM: Well, yeah.

Me: But Peter Parker has all that.

SM: Yeah, and he has issues with creditors.

Me: How does he deal with them?

SM: He just doesn’t answer his phone.

Blue Rhino Review

Whew, now that we got that other stuff out of the way, it’s time for good old comic book reviewing once again. And you thought I was branching out…

Punisher War Journal #9

I couldn’t be less interested in how ridiculously long the current arc is taking to close itself out. The end of the issued said “to be concluded…”, but I don’t know if I can wait another four weeks to care even less.

But, you know, look for a review of issue #10 in about four weeks…

Ultimate X-Men #84

I read the plot synopsis for this issue online before it came out and it said something like “you’ll never believe who Bishop gets to join his New X-Men” (I know, the guys name is Bishop, which should be a lot cooler than it actually is). Anyway, the solicit also had a cover image with a bunch of former X-men on the cover, so I assumed this was some kind of teaser or trick and that I’d actually be surprised by who joined Kirkman’s New X-Men. Do you see where I went horribly wrong yet?

I will destroy you, Robert Kirkman. I will use the toilet, not wash my hands and then serve you food without your knowing about the not washing my hands part. I will go to restaraunts and ask for ridiculous things like pickles on a separate plate from my burger and then not even touch the pickles and then I won’t tip my waitress and I’ll tell her “My name is Robert Kirkman” and pay in cash so she doesn’t know my name isn’t Robert Kirkman. I am going to get the email address kirkman213@gmail.com and then I am going to email newspapers with op-ed pieces about how I hate old people and dogs and I am going to sign them Robert Kirkman.

And really, seriously, for all of you out there. Wolverine is just a tired, old character (and I mean that in so many ways). Find something new and different to do with him and stop having him act “tough” in bars when someone calls him a “mutie” or whatever. Because, sincerely, all that makes me think is yank yank.

Fables #63

The Fables of Fabletown are going to war. Or, at least, they’re getting ready to go to war. And if Willingham is half the writer that I think he is, they’re going to lose, but it will be an oh so bitter victory for the dreaded emperor.

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The Green Rhino Review

Holy shit. “Green Rhino Review”? What the hell is that?

Yes, I’m finally branching out, years after first mentioning the various other reviews, I’m actually going to give one. And a movie review, no less. Those of you panicking, though, don’t panic too much. It’s a review of a comic book movie. I’m not stretching my mental limbs out that much.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Well. Let me start out by saying I actually enjoyed the first film in this franchise. Sure, it was rife with continuity issues and campy dialogue, and sure there were a lot of things I would have done differently, but I left the theater with a kind of childhood glee that I only used to get when reading The Fantastic Four as an eight-year old child.

Now, for this, the second installment, I walked in with a slight feeling of dread. I’d been avoiding seeing it right away because I just wasn’t too sure about it, but I had no idea what I was in store for. Just like when you see a crappy band for the first time and you know ten notes into their first song that it’s going to only get worse, I literally leaned over to my friends and noted how much this movie was going to suck within the first minute.

It was like one of the producer’s bought one of those shitty joke and pun books from the bookstore, gave it to their ten-year old and told them to pick out the ones they thought were funny, then chose all of the rest and gave it to some “writers” to loosely coil a plot around what should have been called “Fantastic Four: The Rise of Laurel and Hardy” (and then subsequently panned for sullying the names of Laurel and Hardy).

I kept waiting for the “Boing” and “Zowww” sound effects as the characters tripped and stumbled over each other.

But I think the prize has to go to Jessica Alba, who really “acts” her heart out for the entirety of this catastrophe. I don’t think anyone let her in on the joke, and while Chris Evans does exactly what Chris Evans does best, Jessica Alba was going for the grammy. I wanted to pat her on the back, give her a cookie and tell her “it’s all right, nobody really expects all that much from you anyway”.

You top all of this off with The Silver Surfer and his overly cryptic lines (imagine “your planet is already doomed” in a Laurence Fishburne-y voice (mostly because it’s Laurence Fishburne doing the voice)). They barely describe what he’s doing before not even bothering to describe how he stops what’s happening from happening (after barely describing why he has a change of heart in the first place).

The whole movie falls apart with a clichéd ending in which our heroes don’t have enough time to finish the wedding of Reed and Sue properly, but they do have enough time to make a fancy four out of smoke from their fantasticar in the air above the ceremony as they cruise off to save the world yet again.

What a fucking waste.

Spider-Man and I

Me: I just got back from this “informational interview” with this company called Primerica.

Spider-Man: I fought Dr. Octopus earlier.

Me: How’d that go?

SM: The usual.

Me: He squirreled around for a while, ranting about this and that, until you finally landed a punch on his glass jaw and he fell down like a sack of bricks?

SM: Yeah. Sometimes it gets a little old. You know all these writers and psychologists and experts all think there’s some deeper meaning to that guy, like he’s got some secret history that explains everything about who he is and why he does what he does.

Me: You don’t buy it?

SM: He’s just a freak with bad fashion sense and a penchant for the over-dramatic.

Me: You’d be surprised how common that is.

SM: I’m sorry, though, you were talking about Primerica.

Me: There’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.

SM: How bad was it?

Me: Well, the first sign of danger came when I drove into the parking lot and my fellow potential co-workers were wearing everything from a t-shirt and jeans to a full body sweatsuit.

SM: Why is that so bad?

Me: I was told to dress “business casual”, so I can only assume that they were told the same thing.

SM: And?

Me: And I’m a little concerned about possibly working with people that consider a 40$ track suit as “business casual”.

SM: You shouldn’t be so judgmental.

Me: Who’s being judgmental?

SM: The guy wearing two different colored socks while bitching about someone else’s track suit.

Me: Whatever. That was fine. I still went in, didn’t I?

SM: So when did it go really bad?

Me: When the guy speaking, Joe, who we were on a first-name basis with already, which is an entirely different problem in and of itself, but it was when Joe told us that it wasn’t an Amway-like pyramid scheme.

SM: What’s the problem with that?

Me: The problem is that the only people who actually run pyramid schemes are the guys who tell you they aren’t running a pyramid scheme.

SM: How do you know it wasn’t?

Me: Because immediately after saying that it wasn’t a pyramid scheme, he put up a model of how the business works that had the "corporate office" at the top, with three “branches” lined up below it and numerous “agents” lined up below the “branches” in an oddly familiar and triangular shape.

SM: Wow. That’s like a scene from a sit-com.

Me: I know.

SM: What happened next?

Me: Joe told us about how he made half a million dollars last year.

SM: Did he show you some plane tickets that the company gave him, too?

Me: No, but he talked about how he could go on vacation whenever he wanted.

SM: Same thing.

Me: Yeah.

SM: Did he ask the group if they wanted to make half a million next year?

Me: You took the words right out of his mouth.

SM: So what did you do next?

Me: I ran.

SM: Really?

Me: Really. I got up as fast as I could and made a break for the door.

SM: What did they do?

Me: They had a whole army of “agents” positioned between me and the door to stop me with “hello”s and “how are you”s.

SM: Like that time I fought Hydra.

Me: Yeah, like that time you fought Hydra.

SM: You know Hydra is legion, right?

Me: I know, Hydra is legion.

Spider-Man and I*

Spider-Man: Hey

Me: Hey

SM: What are you doing up here?

Me: Thinking about the show Lost.

SM: Oh, yeah, you a fan of lost?

Me: I don’t know.

SM: So, what about the show, then?

Me: Hmm?

SM: What about the show were you thinking?

Me: Oh, how it’s got three more seasons, already guaranteed, with a sure ending in sight, but it’s not until 2010.

SM: And?

Me: And I’m wondering if I really want to wait until 2010 to find out what’s going to happen on the show.

SM: Is there anything you can really do about it?

Me: I guess not, other than boycotting the show and never finding out what happens.

SM: What’s happened so far?

Me: I’m not really sure.

SM: I know what you’re saying. That show’s pretty wild, hard to tell what’s going on.

Me: No, no, I mean I’m not really sure because I’ve never seen an episode. I just read about it on wikipedia a lot.

SM: Oh, yeah. Huh.

Me: What?

SM: Well, I’ve never actually seen it either. I just read about it on wikipedia, too.

Me: So you won’t sound like an idiot when other people are talking about it.

SM: Exactly.

Me: Did you know it was J.J. Abrams?

SM: Yeah.

Me: He did Felicity, you know.

SM: Yeah, yeah.

Me: Felicity.

SM: It kind of makes you wonder why anyone ever gave him another chance.

Me: Especially when that other chance was Alias.

SM: Ouch.

Me: Yeah, that show did kind of hurt. Except for the underwater rocket boots. Those things kicked ass.

SM: Total ass.

Me: Total.

SM: Yeah.


*Spider-Man and I is a loose concept I came up with a few years ago while sitting in front of my computer at work, bored out of my mind, when I started talking to myself as both, well, myself and, if you haven’t guessed it yet, Spider-Man. I imagined us sitting on a rooftop somewhere and conversing about the mundaneness of life and how I tend to live only in the mundane. These pieces are meant to be pure trials in dialogue, attempting to tell a story through spoken words alone (you know, kind of like a play). I will use as little description of the world around them as possible, to allow the reader to imagine them as they will (hopefully me as a handsome, Zach Braff-type and Spider-Man kind of in a Spider-Man outfit). The dialogue is meant to set a mood, express a feeling, relay a thought through subtlety and sometimes overbearing bruntness. But really, it’s just stupid shit I come up with that I think Spider-man might say and that I might actually say to Spider-Man if he were real and I was sitting next to him on a rooftop (and for those of you who think Spider-Man is real, he totally is).

So, you know, that’s Spider-Man and I. They’re just free form and done quickly, so that’s my escape clause in case they suck ass. And trust me, some of them are going to suck ass (case in point, see above? You be the judge).

Blue Rhino Review

That’s right, you guessed it, I wasted another thirty-some bucks on more shit I’m going to complain about. At least for the most part, that is…

The New Avengers: Illuminati #3 of 5

Wow. Could there be a more irrelevant story out there this month? Seriously, what happens in this issue? Oh, I see, the whole Skrull ship thing. Because that couldn’t have been done in a million other ways in order to lead us all into the realization that The Illuminati pissed off the Skrulls, and that’s why they’ve invaded the Marvel Universe (by the way, the Skrulls have invaded the Marvel Universe).

But a story about the Beyonder? Jim Shooter’s love child? And how dumb he was? Sure, sure, we all know Secret Wars sucked ass. We all know the Beyonder was about as lame a concept as any grown man could come up with (not to mention some five-year olds I can think of (it should be noted here that these are five-years olds I knew when I was five, and stressed that as a thirty year old man I don’t spend a lot of time hanging out with five-year olds)). But it was Jim Shooter’s love child. Jim Shooter people, Jim Shooter. If I wouldn’t have had the Valiant Universe when I was sixteen I never would have gotten around to bitching about comic books fourteen years later.

Seriously, it’s Jim Shooter. Don’t fuck with it.

And if you’re going to fuck with it, do it in a good way.

An Inhuman mutant overly affected by the terrigen mists? Really, that’s what we’re going to go with?

All right, whatever. Do what you will, Bendis, you are God and I am just your humble servant and all that.

But what’s with that ending? After desecrating everything Shooter you’re going to tell us it was all for no reason?

Shame on you.

The Astounding Wolf-Man #1 & 2

Goddam Kirkman. Why do I keep falling for his crap? And crap is giving him some credit.

The Astounding Wolf-Man is anything but astounding. I’d say something like it’s ass-tounding, but that’s just too clichéd. Or simple. Or something. Besides, I kind of already said it, didn’t I?

I remember reading this story once. It was in a notebook scribbled with similar drawings back when I was hanging out with those aforementioned five-year olds. Only it was better back then.

You’re a fucking hack, Kirkman, and one of these days I’ll prove it.

As for the book itself, I can’t even bring myself to talk about it. It’s…it’s…it’s just…it’s just pure…pure crap. It’s ass-tounding (there it is again, what the hell does ass-tounding even mean?).

Y the Last Man #57

I hate to say it, but I totally saw this coming. I’m guessing that everyone reading this book totally saw this coming, too, but I like to pretend to take a little credit for my skills of deduction.

Yet, despite knowing this was coming, the last ten pages of this comic book were still all the more poignant. Full of such emotional charge that I could actually feel the energy coming off the pages as I read them. The raw, emotional discharge of letting everything come out despite the consequences, or possibly as the consequences.

It’s like the end of Closer (the new one, with Jude Law and Natalie Portman), when you know that you’re going to see Natalie Portman’s “name” on the wall, but it’s still hurts just as much as if you wouldn’t have known.

And the funny thing about this book is, despite knowing what would happen in this issue, I still have no idea how it will all end in the next two issues.

Thank you for writing comic books, Brian K. Vaughan, thank you.

Uncanny X-Men #488

I don’t know. The story progresses. I liked your space opera, Brubaker, not to mention everything else you write, but you still have a ways to go on proving yourself in the mainstream Marvel X-Universe.

Fallen Son: Iron Man

I would rather not have read this issue. I guess I would rather not have read this entire series (it’s been utter crap so far, except for a few Hawkeye moments in the third issue, I guess). But I would rather not have read this series because I kind of feel bad bitching about it (despite bitching about it in the past).

Jeph Loeb is a hack writer, in my opinion. I thought The Long Halloween was pretty cool, but that was when I was first getting back into comic books and I didn’t know much better. Plus, I really liked the line “I believe in Harvey Dent”. I repeated it for years afterward. It was a strong line in an otherwise weak book, but that’s the thing about a strong line, sometimes it’s enough to carry the rest of the weight on it’s shoulders.

This issue didn’t really have any of that. Most of Loeb’s writing doesn’t.

But the guy lost his son not so long ago. And no one wants anyone to go through that. And I think this book was a way of him dealing with that through the concept of dealing with the death of Captain America.

So you have to cut the guy some slack.

Which is kind of why I wish I wouldn’t have read it.

Faker #1

It’s Mike Carey, so, you know, it’s got to be good, right? Even if I don’t see why it’s good yet, it’s still gotta be good, right?

Wait for the trade, man.

And that comes from a guy who fucking hates people who wait for the trade. And I don’t mean hate lightly, I mean the purest sense of hate. The bile, at the bottom of your stomach kind of hate. The way most people feel about Rush Hour 2. The way I feel about Dewie, from Malcolm in the Middle (or just the whole show Malcolm in the Middle in general).

Hate, hate, hate.

I mean, seriously, you people are destroying the industry. It’s a serial industry, a monthly industry, a single issue world. Don’t change. I fear change. I hate change.

I will buy Faker issues #1-6, then I will read them all-together and more than likely enjoy them. But for you people that can’t handle the “real” world of comic books, just go buy the trade. Jerks. At least you’ll be buying something.

Action Comics #851

Yawn.

Thor #1

Wow, I’m glad something happened in this issue.

Oh, wait.

Hey, I just remembered something about The Astounding Wolf-Man #2. The Ass-tounding Wolf-Man gets a costume and his vampire buddy (yes, his vampire buddy, who, strangely enough, will become his enemy as is evidenced by the crappy foreshadowing in every panel he’s in (Wolf-Man – “You’ve been training me well, despite my wife having reservations and thinking you’ll turn out bad, but I’m going to say this at least eight more times this issue alone, so, you know…”), anyway, his vampire buddy calls it “iconic”. That’s just wrong. Superman didn’t choose his costume because it was “iconic”. Superman’s costume became iconic by the very nature of Superman, by who he was and what he did, not what he wore.

So Fuck You, Kirkman, Fuck You.

Blue Rhino Review

It’s time for that mad love/hate relationship to bear its fruit once again as I bitch and moan about what I spent thirty of my hard earned dollars on again this week, so, strap in and we’ll be off…

X-men: Endangered Species One Shot

Hm. I’m not really sure what happened here. Honestly, I’m not really sure. I thought there was supposed to be some major event, some polarizing moment that changes the face of status quo in the world of the X-men. Instead, it’s just a mopy funeral issue in which nothing really happens. And I mean nothing really happens. I knew exactly as much going into this issue as I did walking away from it, possibly even more because I was so confused about what the point of it all was. I kept looking for hidden meanings and I kept coming up empty. Why did I spend $3.99 on this again?

That being said, it was an all right story. I’ve had my fill of funeral stories with the X-men, though, and this one didn’t really seem to serve any purpose. It was just some throw-away character I’d never even heard of before (not to belittle the concept of death, but it is a fictional universe and the way the story had been touted it seems like it should have been someone with a little more weight in the X-universe). Carey does a good job of humanizing the characters in the story, but, the only thing is, all of these characters have already been humanized in the way that Carey works them.

Like I said, I already knew everything I walked away from this book with.

Scott Eaton’s art is beautiful, though. It has definitely grown on me, and it works well with this story since it has a much more realistic feel to it than a lot of other x-artists.

I guess I just didn’t get the point of this issue. Why was it a one shot? What purpose did it serve? Why should I care? None of those questions got even the hint of an answer.

X-men #200

Ugh. $3.99 down the tubes again. You owe me eight bucks, Mike Carey.

Marauders. Bleh. Been done, too much if you ask me.

Mystique as the bad guy? Really? You’re going to try that out? What, because it hasn’t been done before a thousand times?

The only interesting part was Gambit and Cable and how they’re connected to all of this. I guess Rogue’s current condition is somewhat interesting, too, but I’m not 100% sold on that one yet. But Gambit, well, poor Gambit has spent his entire lifetime in the X-universe being mishandled by inept writers, and despite my current complaints about Mr. Carey, he is anything but an inept writer. He’s just not a very good superhero writer. But that’s the thing, Gambit has never really been a superhero (nor has Cable, at least not in any of the good stories about him), so I found all of their time together to be enjoyable and entertaining. Plus, those are the sections drawn by one of my all-time favorite artists, the might that is Chris Bachalo.

I think the biggest thing this issue actually suffered from was it’s lack of 200-ishness. The whole industry with it’s “big event” issue numbers (any quarter is a “big event” issue (25, 50,75,100…)), it’s just not worth it. The story felt forced into being more than what it was, and I have a feeling that if we would have hit this issue on a different number it would have flowed a little bit better (and wouldn’t have cost me $3.99, jerks).

The Boys #8

Well, as Garth Ennis continues to “out-Preacher’s Preacher” I find myself just kind of wishing he had just kept it at Preacher.

Is The Boys raunchy beyond all belief? Fuck yeah.

Is the Boys kicking the generic ass of super-heroes everywhere? Sure, I guess.

Is The Boys not afraid to say “Boo”? Um, yeah, but it seems like they enjoy saying “poof” more.

Is there any point to The Boys? Nope. Not a single one. The book is just over the top for the sake of being over the top. There’s no reason. There’s no message here. Well, maybe there is one, but anyone who has read a single issue of Ennis before already knows this. Garth Ennis doesn’t like superheroes. He hates them. He thinks they’re useless, excessive trash that go full throttle just for the sake of going full throttle. Kind of like The Boys. And maybe that’s meant to be the joke. I hope that’s meant to be the joke, but I’m just not sure it is.

If I’m wrong, though, Garth, I’ll buy you a beer sometime.

Thunderbolts #115

This is why I love Warren Ellis. While the rest of the Marvel U pretends that the registration act is all good and pure despite the sacrifices that have to be made, Ellis just sinks his teeth into it and shows us why it’s completely wrong and completely evil. There are no qualms in this book, no wondering if the the ends justify the means.

It’s just wrong, and it’s bad, and it’s eating the soul of everything good.

And the beautiful part is, Ellis does all this through the course of telling a smashing good yarn. His story isn’t filled with rhetoric or exposition. It doesn’t tell you “the registration act is bad because these things will happen”. It just shows you and lets you come to your own conclusions. He trusts that we can figure it out on our own and he doesn’t have to walk us through every painful step along the way to get there (Hello Robert Kirkman).

And do you know what that works? Because he’s a good writer. He’s a great writer. Sure, he writes some pure crap from time to time, but that’s not the case here. His run on the Thunderbolts so far has been pure gold. Pure gold. The fight sequence between The American Eagle and Bullseye is nothing short of brilliant, if not for the simple fact that I actually just wrote “the fight sequence between The American Eagle and Bullseye…”. Come on, people, The American Eagle? Say it with me now, who the fuck is The American Eagle?

That’s right, brilliant.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #43

I don’t know. Maybe Mr. Carey actually owes me another $2.99 this week. I’ll wait and see on this one, though. The whole book is probably worth the last line of dialogue from the surfer.

Now, I’m a big Silver Surfer fan. One of my first comic books ever was an issue of the Silver Surfer (issue #14, where he fights the Skrull pretending to be him, great cover by Mignola). I love the Kirby Surfer and the Mobius Surfer (I know, I know, sacrilege). I thought the Ellis Surfer was pretty cool in the Ultimate Trilogy. I don’t really know what to think of this Surfer, and I’m already two issues into his story. I guess we’ll find out, but I kind of wish I had more bang for my buck, especially after six of them already spent.

Ultimate X-men #83

Bleghhhhh. That was me throwing up on this issue so as to never have to read it again. I suggest you do the same.

Ultimate Spider-Man #110

Bendis has become a poor parody of himself. I found myself thinking several times during this issue about how much better it would be if Brian Michael Bendis were actually writing it, not just some guy rewriting, like, eight issues of Ultimate Spider-Man that have already happened.

Hech. Hech. Hech. That’s me, dry heaving and wishing I hadn’t wasted my whole lunch on Ultimate X-men #83.

The Walking Dead #38

Could this story move any slower? How be any less pointless? It’s like watching Days of Our Lives, but there’s nothing to laugh at (come on, Patch? Really, a guy with an eye-patch named “Patch”? That’s comedy gold, Days of Our Lives, comedy gold…).

In yet another poorly written addition to the Walking Dead cannon, we learn more about the characters we’ve grown so close to through forced dialogue and uncomfortable and highly unrealistic situations.

Kirkman is like that six-year old kid still trying to slam a square peg into a round hole and his parents (that’d be you, the adoring audience) just finds it so cute that you praise him instead of realizing how mind-numbingly depressing the whole thing actually is.

I’d challenge you to a fight, Kirkman, but I’d really just prefer if you wrote something worth reading.

Silver Surfer: Requiem #2

Hold on, I’m eating a turkey sandwich right now so I can make my “commentary” on this piece of work.

Criminal #7

Finally, a book worth reading.

The book, flawless as it may be, is topped off by a wonderful essay by the ever-impressive Stephen Grant at the end, where he delves into what “noir” really is versus what everyone tends to think it is.

Ed Brubaker is a “crime noir” writer, through and through. Criminal reads less like a comic book and more like life gone wrong. It’s all of the best moments in any crime mystery movie or book you’ve ever read, all there in front of you. After reading 22 pages you feel like you’ve read 200. Not a single page is wasted, not a single panel, not a single syllable.

It makes my head feel like exploding just thinking about it.

X-factor #20

I’ve been hearing so many good things about this book, and with this issue being listed as a good “jumping on point”, thought I’d give it a shot. I’m just going to let you guess the rest.

Crossing Midnight #8

Finally, Mr. Carey, your true calling. What you should be doing all of the time. Fantasy. Mythology. Mysticism. These are the things that make your world go round, and go round it does.

This book is beautiful. Wonderful. Intriguing. It doesn’t tell me what’s happening without letting me feel lost along the way. I get the general picture, the general idea, the general grasp of things, but it’s still all one big mystery just waiting to play itself out.

And to steal a line from George Michael (the kid in “Arrested Development”, not the “singer”), “I’m just loving the ride, you know.”



Well, that’s all for this week. Another 40$ I’ll never see again (not to mention a couple of lunches). See you again next week. Or maybe the week after. Whatever.

Blue Rhino Review

It’s that time again. Time for me to hate on some more comic books despite spending a small fortune on them each and every year. Let’s start the ball rolling with…

New Avengers #31

Now, Rich Johnston reported that the shocker at the end of this issue might almost be as big as the death of Captain America, and warned his faithful readers to be prepared to grab their copies before they fly off the shelves. So, loyally, I did just that. And do you want to know what happened? Do you really want to know?

It turns out Elektra, who has been acting very un-Elektra like in the past few issues of New Avengers (which, arguably, have been the worst comics of the year if not the entire fucking century so far), well, it turns out that she was acting all un-Elektra-like because she was really…a skrull! Wait, what? A Skrull? Really? That’s all? Yank yank, my friend, yank yank.

This is the grand conspiracy that I’ve waited some 31 issues to finally have revealed? That the Skrulls are back and replacing people. You know like in They Live. And DS9. And the Ultimates. And a million other fucking stories.

Wait, though, that’s not all. Hold your horses. Also, it appears, the baby daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones is…gasp…a mutant! You know, because her parents are mutants, too, and we’ve never seen mutant parents give birth to a…gasp…mutant child. But wait, it’s supposed to be shocking because it would be the…gasp…first mutant birth since The Scarlet Witch said “No…More…Mutants” which really just meant “a…lot…less…mutants” despite her not actually saying that.

So now we have a new mutant birth. Double Yank.

You know what? Fuck the New Avengers.

Superpatriot: War on Terror #4

You blow, Robert Kirkman. You blow hard. And that’s all I really have to say about this book.

Other than if I ever see you, Kirkman, I’m taking my $2.99 back from you with my foot.

World War Hulk #1

Wow. I can’t even begin to describe the continuity gaps running rampant through this storyline, mostly because they’re so littered throughout that I can’t even figure out what the hell is going on.

She-Hulk works for SHIELD. She-Hulk quits SHIELD, gets depowered, gets repowered, hates Tony Stark for throwing her cousin into space, then helps Tony Stark to stop her cousin. It’s like each issue that comes out just rewrites everything that’s come before.

It sucks so much that it’s like Robert Fucking Kirkman’s writing it.

Oh, and he beats the shit out of Black Bolt, which, granted, has been a long time coming, but really? The Hulk beat up Black Bolt? The Hulk? I mean, how’s Black Bolt ever going to get laid at a party again with that kinda notch on his belt. Ouch.

Tank Girl: The Gifting #1

Finally, a good fucking comic book. Tank Girl, the heroine of irreverancy. Alan Martin gives me the kind of stories that just put a smile on my lips and bad, anarchic thoughts in my head. Tank Girl is punk rock, if for no other reason than she has never claimed to be any such thing. She is purity and freedom and guns and attitude and she is beautiful.

Not to mention Ashley Wood, who manages to make her even more beautiful than I ever thought possible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put down the amazing talent that is Jamie Hewlitt, but if anyone can take on my favorite anti-anti-heroine, it is the ever-talented Ashley Wood.

Fuck normal. Fuck the rules. Fuck continuity (but, you know, in a good way). Fuck everything. It’s Tank Girl, and she’ll blow your mind.

Fear Agent: The Last Goodbye #1

Unlike The Colbert Report, I think I’m missing the joke here. Please, please, please let there be a joke here.

New Warriors #1

What’s an issue of New Warriors without the Night Thrasher? Apparently well-written and interesting. I kept trying to figure out what stunk so much about this first issue until I got to the dead fish on the last page. Coler me un-impressed and yet another $2.99 closer to bankruptcy.

The New Warriors, though, does kind of bring me to a point about the Marvel Universe as a whole and how this whole Civil War thing has panned out. It’s fucking boring. That’s how it’s panned out. I get it. Tony Stark is a bastard. He eats babies at night and spits on your Big Macs when you’re not looking. He even laughs menacingly while doing it. Blah blah blah. Yank yank yank.

How many books am I going to read where the “heroes” are standing up to the man and still doing their thing? And then how many am I going to read where the other “heroes” are still fighting the good fight despite selling out. I get it. Some people like old U2 when they were still innovative and fresh. Other people like the new U2, processed and perfected. I still think they’ve always been blowholes.

Joe Quesada. Mark Millar. Brian Michael Bendis. The men who saved my childhood from extinction by bringing Marvel back from the brink have subsequently destroyed everything I hold dear. And they made it that much worse, because for a while there I had it back. It was mine again. Then they cruelly ripped it out of my hands and wrote terrible stories about it.

What a bunch of jerks.

But if you’re hiring, I’d totally be into writing a book for you guys. I can sell out and fall in line, lickety-split.

Blue Rhino Review

It’s everybody’s favorite day of the week again…today! And it’s time for more comic book reviews…

100 Bullets #82

Only 18 issues to go and I’m totally fucking lost. Totally fucking lost. But the thing is, I’m still loving the ride. This issue marks what’s become a standard for this series, namely that it makes absolutely no sense on its own. Brian Azzarello has forgone any attempt at serial writing and just stuck us with a story that will hopefully deliver on its promise. I want Dashiel Hammet. I want The Maltese Falcon. I want 100 Bullets. And that’s exactly what I’m getting.

Godland #17

I have to say, the three, uh, entities have really grown on me. Ed in particular. Maybe it’s my predilection for the name Ed (I seriously thought about changing my first name to Ed when I turned 18, a turn of events that didn’t take place basically because a young Peter Martin called me up on my first day at college, and he already knew me as Jeremy, so…). Whatever it is, I’m loving these three. They fucking crack me up. Constantly.

I love you, Joe Casey. And I mean that in a strictly heterosexual way. But I’d still sleep with you, man.

Spawn #166

So, it’s Spawn. The tumor expelled from Todd McFarlane’s brain some twelve years ago.

And it sucks.

Maybe I’m not goth enough. Maybe I don’t wear pasty make-up and black trench coats (by the way, nobody should wear trench coats, but that’s another point all-together). Maybe I just like a decent story. Shit, a decent concept.

So, that being said, I’ve heard good things about what David Hine is doing with this book. Apparently, they were lying. It’s generic. It’s boring. It’s crap.

Spawn got tired of God and the Devil and decided to recreate the world without them. Blah Blah Blah.

Give me preacher. Give me Lucifer. Give me Mephisto vs. The X-men, for Christ’s sake. Don’t give me this shit.

Fuck David Hine. He’s not a good writer.

Fuck Spawn. He’s not a good creation.

And Fuck Todd McFarlane. You’re Amazing Spider-man run, and subsequent Spider-man run, might have been awesome (as well as your hulk run), but that doesn’t give you the right to dump this shit upon my world. That’s right, I’m taking a stand. Fuck your shit. Get the hell out of here.

That being said, I’ll probably end up buying #167. Why? Because I’m a fucking idiot.

And that’s that for this week. I’m poor, I don’t have a job (or at least a real job), and I think I’m hearing the voice of a French astronaut talking to me in the wee hours of the morning, which makes me certifiable since everyone knows the French could never make it into space. That’s why you’re only getting four reviews this week. That’s all I’ve got.

Fuck.

Blue Rhino Review

It’s time for everyone’s favorite comic book review once again…

Y The Last Man #55

Well, it’s here. The end approaches. The final story arc begins. I have to say, I’m kind of ready for it. I was a huge fan of Y in the first years, but I’ve lost some interest during the latter half of the series. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still some good comic book, but it’s just not as tight as it used to be. It’s almost felt like it’s lost direction over the last year or two, although at the same time I can’t think of a single issue that could be removed from the tapestry without injuring the whole in some way.

This is the classic set-up issue, as many of our main cast are set in place for the big finale, the culmination of five years in our lives and Yorick Brown’s is coming to a close, and everyone wants to be there to say goodbye. I have to say, my favorite character of this series is Hero (and I do quite enjoy her current band of teammates). I’ve enjoyed the evolution of her character more than anyone elses, particularly the play on her name and how it is so intricately woven into her story (her full name is Heroic).

Although this issue lacked in any real substance, it’s a great stop-gap for what is to come, and I can’t wait to see where that is.

The Walking Dead #36

I’ve read a lot of great reviews for this issue (and this book in general), but color me unimpressed. Maybe it’s because I just don’t like Rick as a character. I don’t mean not like him in the sense that he’s interesting or well-written but just not likeable. No, I mean I think he’s a bad character. I don’t think he’s well-written. I don’t think he’s been at all consistent. I think he’s a plot device that Kirkman uses to tell his story, and that Rick often suffers because of this.

In fact, I think all of Kirkman’s characters are plot devices. There’s no substance to any of them.

But people have been talking about Rick’s decision in this issue (much like Michonne’s decision in #33), and it just doesn’t flow with me. It flows with the story, it just doesn’t flow with me. Or Rick, for that matter.

That being said, this book has finally hooked me. Part of the hook is that I find it so bad, but part of the hook is also that I want to know what’s going to happen next. Don’t get me wrong, Kirkman is a terrible writer, but he’s got good ideas. I like where he’s going with the story, even if I don’t like the way he’s writing it. I’m compelled to check in with the inmates of the dead each month and see what new menace that jerk has thrown at them, and how he manipulates them into solving said dilemna.

Plus, Charlie Adlard’s fast becoming one of my favorite pencilers and Cliff Rathbun’s work on the covers (both back and front, the front being penciled by Adlard and the back entirely by Rathbun) are probably my favorite parts of the book.

Hellblazer #230

Ahhh, Andy Diggle, where have you been all of John Constantine’s life.

I’ll start by saying I’m one of the few who have enjoyed this entire series through and through. I’ve heard the complaints about Azzarello’s run, and I can see their merit, as well as Ennis, Ellis and Carey’s runs. John’s been through the ringer for the better part of a decade (and really for his entire life, but creatively speaking it’s been about a decade), and it took Andy Diggle to bring him back home for me.

I had forgotten how much I missed this John.

X-Men #197

I’ve been struggling with this title. I’m a huge Mike Carey fan. Lucifer, as you well know, just might be the best comic book ever published. He managed to do what Gaiman did with Sandman all over again, in a completely original and unique way.

But now he’s on a mainstream title, with a mainstream team that’s been around forever. What does he do?

At first I wasn’t really sure where he was going. I liked that Bachalo was doing the art (and he’s back again with this issue), but the story kept losing me. I couldn’t figure out what was happening or why.

But now it’s all come together. Issue #197 brings it all home, and not in a way where it ties up plot threads or anything like that. It’s just the first time that I’ve realized what he’s trying to do, with a small glimpse of why.

Plus, the issue is just good. Really good. Really, really good. It’s back to the character interaction that I so loved in Lucifer, and unlike Kirkman, Carey manages to stay true to form on all of his players (even more impressive than Kirkman since they aren’t Carey’s creations even and he can still get them right).

I don’t know about you, but I love Cable nowadays (although you’ll never see me reading Cable and Deadpool, fuck you Nicienzia). I’ve loved him ever since he fulfilled his stupid “destiny” and finally came out and into his own (fuck you, Leifeld). And this issue, above all else, really lets Cable shine, and shine he does.



Well, that’s it for this week. Tune in next time for even more banality.

Things to do on Tuesday, March 13th

I'm not sure what you're up to on Tuesday next week (personally, I'm
going to be checking out NCIS), but here are some options for you:

1. Order Domino's Two for Tuesday pizza special and suffer the
liberal guilt of Thomas Monaghan's pro-life views being supported by
your $10 purchase.

2. Catch a new episdoe of the aformentioned NCIS, a thrilling
edge-of-your-seat drama about Navy Investigators, the likes of which
haven't been seen since the heyday of the hit shot JAG. Plus, it's
got Mark Harmon. Summer School's back in session, kids.

3. Sit alone, at home, thinking to yourself "it's only three days
until Premonition starring Sandra Bullock comes out, it's only three
days until Premonition starring Sandra Bullock comes out, it's only
three days until Premonition...".

4. Tivo the twice aformentioned NCIS and watch Gilmore Girls, then watch NCIS.

5. Watch American Idol. I guess. If you're a freak.

6. Mix and match items 1 through 5, in potentially dangerous combinations.

7. Come celebrate my 30th birthday. It'll be festive. But if you do
come, don't forget to tivo NCIS. Here's the details:

Drinks at Lurcat from 7-8:30pm (it's the old Loring, down on the south
side of downtown Minneapolis, and it's fancy).

The 400 Bar from 8pm-??

Here's the schedule at the 400:

9pm: short reading by me

9:30pm: Michael Morris

10:30pm: The Pines

11:30pm: Beau Kinstler

5$ cover

Be there or be square. Or possibly rectangular.

Blue Rhino Review

Two weeks in a row? Did the planets align or something? Let’s get to the comics…

Captain America #25

So, I’ll try not to ruin the ending or anything, but, oh wait, CNN already did. Captain America gets a severe cramp. And, you know, dies. Not from the cramp, though, I just made that part up.

I think I would have liked this issue more if there wasn’t such a hubaloo about it all over the place. It fits in well with the thematic undercurrent of the first twenty-four issues very well, but the whole thing just feels a little ruined by all the attention. It’s like Green Day and 1993 all over again. Can I like them? Should I like them? Is it cool to like them?

This story wasn’t great, or highly original, or visually spectacular or anything like that. But then it wasn’t bad, either. It was just a part of the larger story, and taken as such it’s a good fit, but with all of the attention it just feels out of place and out of time.

But it’s Brubaker, and I do love me some Brubaker.

Criminal #5

More Brubaker goodness, this time with some Phillips sprinkled on top for added flavor.

I wasn’t blown away by the end to this first story arc, but I wasn’t un-impressed either. I hope that Bru isn’t stretching himself to thin with so many books (there’s still two more to be reviewed below, all out in the last two weeks). Criminal might be the best of the Brubaker books out right now, though, because it allows him the most room for his storytelling. It’s all Brubaker, all the time. There aren’t any editorial mandates or universe-spanning storylines that he has to take into consideration. There’s no forced jamming of a square peg into a round hole on this book.

This is pure Brubaker noir gold. This is everyone getting fucked over, no matter how good or bad they might be. This is pure pulp fiction coming alive on the page, and I guess my disappointment rises from it being just that, pure pulp fiction. Maybe there are rules that he’s following, some higher mandate. Pulp stories always seem to follow a similar path, and Brubaker doesn’t stray far from it here.

That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means I was hoping for more. And just because I was hoping for more doesn’t mean I didn’t like what I got.

The Might Avengers #1

Well, it’s even more Bendis Avengers than before. Is this Good? Bad? Ugly? I guess it’s just a healthy mix of all three.

The book, although enjoyable for some of the humor within, seems to contrast its companion book also out this week, Civil War: The Initiative. While that book had a much darker outlook on the new status quo in the Marvel Universe, The Mighty Avengers takes the Three Stooges approach with slapstick and punny humor all over the place. It just didn’t flow very well for me.

The only part I really enjoyed was Ms. Marvel’s commentary on The Sentry and his basic uselessness since being re-introduced to the Marvel Universe some two years ago. Of course this comes out as the voice of Bendis, essentially mocking himself (or possibly Marvel editorial, which as far as I can tell is run by Bendis and Millar anyway), which is one of my main problems with Bendis books (and in particular his Avengers books). It’s just Bendis talking through a bunch of different characters, who are no longer themselves but just Bendis/whatever character amalgams that no longer sound like either one of their parts.

It grows tiresome.

Justice League of America #6

Six issues for this (well, really seven)? I got it after the first issue, all right. The Red Tornado is human, even though he’s really a robot. It’s like Bicentennial Man, only more tedious (and Bicentennial Man is pretty fucking tedious). I guess I wouldn’t complain so much if Meltzer was actually doing something with these issues, but each one seems to be an exercise in masturbation as Meltzer plays with yet another character he’s always dreamed about writing.

All right. His Green Arrow arc from a few years back was good. I’ll give him that. Identity Crisis was just kind of an eh. But his Justice League feels like old reruns of Grizzly Adams. You keep telling yourself it’s got to be important for some reason, but it’s really just a guy with a beard running around with a bear because he couldn’t handle reality anymore.

I keep finding myself putting this book down whenever it comes out in order to read every other book that came out that week, and then when I get to it at the end of the stack I’m like, “well, I guess I should read it, I did pay for it, but do I have to?”

Uncanny X-Men #484

Is it possible? Has Brubaker managed to touch on some old Claremont concepts without just rehashing a Claremont plot (a crime more often perpetrated by Claremont himself than not)? Do I actually like the Shiar for the first time ever?

I’m loving the Rise and Fall of the Shiar Empire. I’m loving Kovar and Vulcan and D’Ken. I’m even loving Deathbird, and I was pretty sure that was impossible after thirty years of her having been run into the ground.

The story is tight and strong and flows well. Some people have complained about the subplots and the detours the story sometimes takes, but I think that those detours just provide an excellent pacing mechanism to the whole thing. After all, these guys are traveling across the known universe. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen overnight. The breaks in story and stutters along the way add to the feel of the whole, making it epic story that it is (essentially 18 issues in the end, if you count the mini-series where Brubaker introduced Vulcan).

Only two more issues to go. I can’t wait.

Wolverine #51

I didn’t think Loeb could write a worse issue than #50. I forgot that his only talent was outdoing himself in the suck department.

Runaways #24

It’s the end of an era, as Brian K Vaughn ends his run on the fan-favorite book of female comic readers everywhere. Fortunately, a lot of us guys like it, too.

BKV is a fantastic writer. I’ve been following him since his Swamp Thing days (I think I number among about forty of us that were there back then), and I have yet to not like something he’s done (despite thinking Ex Machina is the best thing he’s done, I still like everything else).

I was pumped for his good-bye to one of his babies, but the issue just seemed a little anti-climatic. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but with the death of Gert a number of issues back, I guess it’s been like The Wake in Sandman. It’s still compelling story-telling, it’s just not seat-of-your-pants-oh-my-god-what’s-going-to-happen-next story-telling.

It’s still better than half the crap that’s out there. I’d even give it a better than two-thirds of the crap out there.

The Walking Dead #35

It’s just more of Kirkman’s bad writing, compounded in his “best” book out there. Twenty-two pages of Kirkman telling us “I’m not sure how to write this into a story naturally, so I’m going to have my characters explain it to you word for word just to make sure you get it, because it’s like, so cool, and I don’t want you to miss it”.

Fuck you, Kirkman.

I really need to stop buying his books.

Crossing Midnight #4

I’ve found my replacement for Lucifer. Thank you, Mike Carey.

It’s only four issues in and it’s simply amazing people. Go. Buy. Love.

Daredevil #94

The last of the Brubaker books for this round of reviews, and probably my favorite of the Brubaker penned books. That’s why I’m a little sad to say that this issue was kind of disappointing. I was really pumped for it when I read the solicits (and especially when I saw the cover, I’m a sucker for Silver Age homages), but the book itself was just kind of…boring.

We finally find out what happened to Milla over the past twenty-some issues. Where did she go when she left Matt? What did she do? Why did she come back?

Apparently the answer to all of these questions and more was that she just pined over the poor fella. That’s all she did. Pined for him. Felt sorry for herself for falling in love with him, then chastised herself for feeling sorry for herself since she loves him so much. Then feeling sorry for herself all over again because she knows she’s only a small part of his life. Then getting mad at herself again. Then getting mad at him and wondering if he knows what she’s doing.

The only twist, and the part that made this still a great book despite being a disappointment for 21 pages, is the last page. When we find out that he watches her waiting for him and knows what she feels and still goes out and does what he does anyway. It makes the whole thing pathetic, but in such an interesting way. Interesting because it makes it all just so human and normal. So relatable.

Keep on keeping on, Brubaker.

Blue Rhino Review

Wha wha wha what?

The Blue Rhino Review, back again? Is it possible? Could Civil War #7 have been just bad enough to bring this whole thing back to life? By God, it was. So read on good friends…

Oh, and I guess I should say that Captain America loses the Civil War. And there are SPOILERS here within. Hah!

Civil War #7

What can I say about this book? I guess I was kind of excited. I’m generally a pretty avid Millar fan, after all. Despite waiting five years, I really am looking forward to the end of his Ultimates run, and his runs on Ultimate X-Men and Swamp Thing were some of my favorites. And The Unfunnies, although never completed, might just be one of my favorite mini-series ever.

But then there’s Civil War.

I won’t talk about how I think it was a mistake to unmask Spider-man, because, whatever, that’s just what I think. You can make just as valid an argument on either side of the fence over that issue, so, yeah. I thought it was a bad idea, but then I don’t really buy Spider-man books, so I guess in the end I don’t really care.

And I’m not going to talk about the lack of any dramatic deaths in the book because, well, that’s just kind of morbid. And why do we need some big hero to die, anyway? And maybe there are people out there that really care that Goliath died, thus negating the point of this entire paragraph? Just because I don’t doesn’t mean there aren’t fans. Or at least fan.

I guess a big problem is that everything big that went down either happened a) in the first issue or b) in the various regular books associated with Civil War. The main event book didn’t do shit. If it’s such a big deal, then make it a big deal.

But that’s not even my biggest problem with the whole thing. My biggest problem is the whole thing is just so…out of character, I guess. It sounds like Millar, sitting around in his pajamas and thinking of cool lines and then just shoving them in some random characters mouth. No one sounds even remotely like themselves, and this problem isn’t specific to issue #7 alone. The whole book has been filled with Millarisms left and right, and it just ends up making the whole book feel like it has only one voice, even if that voice is arguing with itself.

It’s cool, but just a little too pretentious for my blood. I’d love to hear Millar’s thoughts and cool catch phrases on characters he’s created, but I don’t need to hear Mark Millar, Iron Man fight Mark Millar, Captain America for 150 some odd pages.

I like where the series went in the essence of decentralizing the superhero community. That’s a cool concept. Superhero registration? I like that, too. I don’t agree with it, but I like it as a plot vehicle. The Initiative? Yeah, that’s cool, too.

But I got that all of that was going to go down after the end of issue #1, so, my question is, why the fuck did I wait almost another year to find out there isn’t anything else? I guess maybe because I’m a sucker for the flashy colors and the hip ads. I am the Mtv Generation, after all.

Zombies vs. Robots #1

I was going to buy the new JSA series. I really was. I like Geoff Johns, despite spending nearly the last decade claiming to hate Geoff Johns (up until recently, at least). But I don’t love Geoff Johns. He’s got some good stuff, and then he’s got some really boring stuff, and then he’s got some “I spend way too fucking much of my time reading Golden Age and Silver Age comics” stuff.

But, hey, it’s a relaunch of the JSA. And I kind of liked the last JSA run, at least parts of it.

And then I saw Zombies vs. Robots. It was the same price, $3.99, and seeing as I really am pretty budgeted lately, I had to make a decision.

Like that’s really a decision.

Come on, it’s not only zombies, but it’s robots, too. And it’s drawn by Ash Wood? You just got yourself a fan.

Ash Wood is quite possibly my favorite artist, coming in at a close second after J.H. Williams III (and, you know, Art Adams, who will always retain his godhood in my comic book world). Ash is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and quite possibly nothing I’ll ever see again. Think Ben Templesmith, only ten times more gone. His stuff is just…beautiful.

I don’t want to give any more than necessary away, but it’s got zombies! And Robots! And it’s fucking cool! Go buy it! Now!

Punisher War Journal #4

You know how I have a huge mancrush on Joe Casey? Well, Mr. Casey better watch out, because there’s another man vying for my affections and his name is Matt Fraction. I shouldn’t even have to tell you how amazing this man is as a writer since you’re all already buying Casanova, but still, I feel it necessary to mention his writing merits.

Check out Five Fists of Science. Check out The Immortal Iron Fist. Check out Punisher War Journal. You won’t be disappointed.

This issue deals with the funeral of one of my favorite old DD villains, Stilt-Man. This guy was classic, just classic. I even remember when Turk got his hands on the Stilt-Man suit for a while. Turk! Priceless!

And finally, thanks to the genius that is Fraction, the question that’s been on my mind lo these many years is finally asked, even if it doesn’t have an answer, “Did you ever wonder why stilts? Are there a lot of banks up on the 30th floor or something?”.

If you haven’t read Fraction, you live in a world that much less beautiful than I.

New Avengers #27

I don’t’ know if I liked this issue or not. I don’t know if I like Bendis on this book or not. You’d think that after 27 issues (well, really it’s more like 32 since there were five issues before the series, and then the annual, so, like, 33 or something), but I still don’t know.

This issue just wasn’t quite…right. I think Bendis has good ideas, and I think they may sound really cool in concept, but I just don’t think they translate into story all that well. Sometimes you have to just leave that shit lying on the cutting room floor, you know?

And for fuck’s sake, throw us a bone every once in a while, Bendis. I’m so fucking sick of Ronin and the whole “Who the fuck is Ronin?” thing. It’s driving me nuts. Just tell us. Writing a mystery doesn’t involve just not telling us things, it involves weaving a tale that a smart and thorough reader can pick the clues out of, if they so desire. It’s like the whole Hush thing all over again. After Jeff Loeb wrote Batman for a year, all I realized was that after spending just over $24 on the story, Jeff Loeb didn’t know who Hush was either.

Christ.

And you’re whole Bendis real world dialogue doesn’t always help, either. Having Ronin say “Yo” doesn’t give me a clue to who he is. Maybe this is just Bendis saying “Yo” (he suffers from that rare disease called Millarexia, where your own voice just keeps shouting out of characters mouths, no matter how out of place), but maybe it’s actually meant to be a hint, telling us the character is hip or something by saying “Yo”. I just don’t know. And knowing Bendis, it’ll be another six months before I have an answer.

Astonishing X-Men #20

As sick as I am of waiting for this book to just end, damn this was a good issue. I was reluctant of the current arc as I’m always a little wary of any Marvel story in space (unless it’s the Silver Surfer, that dude’s rad), but this one is going pretty well. This issue really cemented Wheddon’s plot, and advanced the story at a pretty steady pace while also giving us some character growth with both the Colossus/Kitty scenes and the Wolverine/Armor scenes (the latter being my favorite by far, but I’ve always been a fan of the Wolverine/young mutant needing protection and guidance relationships over the years (Wolverine/Shadowcat, Wolverine/Jubilee, Wolverine/Angel), I love that stuff).

And the whole book is worth the price of admission simply for the last page alone.

Well, that’s all for now, but more soon, I promise…
Have you ever wondered who was more American, Jeremy Bishop or Apollo Creed? I know I have. Well, if you've never been able to quite figure it out, maybe this Friday will give you the answer that most Americans have been seeking for years. Let's lay out what we know already...

Apollo Creed - fought Dolph Lundgren ie. the Russian Menace!

Jeremy Bishop - enjoyed Dolph Lundgren in the classic I Come In Peace.

Apollo Creed - trained Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion!

Jeremy Bishop - has trained numerous boxers on the N64 game Ready 2 Rumble Boxing.

Apollo Creed - in shape.

Jeremy Bishop - not in shape.

Apollo Creed - homophobic.

Jeremy Bishop - homoerotic.

Apollo Creed - only made it through 4 of the Rocky films.

Jeremy Bishop - tragically, made it through all 5 of the Rocky films.

It's a close race. It's hard to say who really is more American. I know I can't decide. Maybe seeing Jeremy Bishop live and in concert will help (well, just doing a reading, but it's during a concert).

Here's the details:

When: Friday, Feb. 16th
What: Show at the 400 (I'll be on around 9:30-10:00 for a 20-30
minute reading, kind of a David Searis-ish thing about comic books,
growing up and my step-father), and there are also going to be
professional dancers later as well as three bands. 5$ cover.
www.400bar.com

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worm 11 political ad

worm 11 believes in you, even if you don't believe in him!

in case you're unfamiliar with worm 11, here's some background information on him, so you can get to know him.

unlike amy klobuchar, worm 11 does not make angels weep. he does not shoot guns into the air with reckless abandon, unfazed by the possible danger those bullets may pose for innocent bystanders once they return to the ground. worm 11 did not have an unsubstantiated lesbian affair in college (those crazy liberal bastards). and most importantly, unlike amy klobuchar, worm 11 did not steal five dollars out of your wallet when you weren't looking.

unlike mark kennedy, worm 11 does not kick dogs. he does not hate old people. he did not legally change his name to an old school dynasty and then burn the records of said change. and most importantly, unlike mark kennedy, worm 11 did not get your sister drunk and try to put the moves on her.

unlike amy klobuchar and mark kennedy, worm 11 only believes in the truth. he does not resort to name calling or finger pointing. he just lays it down like it is. and most importantly, worm 11 believes in you.

paid for by witlessworm enterprises

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Blue Rhino Review

What, did you think I stopped reading comic books or something? Living in the Midge kind of prevents me from keeping current, but an occasional return to the cities allows me to over-indulge in my addictions, including my oldest. Here’s part one of this most recent trip’s haul…

Wetworks #1

Maybe it’s Whilce Portacio. Maybe it’s because the notion of “monsters” presented in this line of comic books has always reminded me of exactly how a ten-year-old would imagine “monsters”. Maybe guys covered in gold, uh, something just don’t interest me. I never liked this book the first time around, and I can’t say that I found the first issue of the new iteration all that interesting, either, despite being written by the amazingly talented Mike Carey. I guess the fact that I didn’t flat-out hate it can be credited to Carey’s writing skills, but the book just never interested me to begin with. Even when I was fifteen and reading it for the first time. It just wasn’t that good. Carey does some interesting things with the story, but I don’t know if even he can save this concept. Of course, I’m willing to give it a try. After Hellblazer and especially after Lucifer, I’d be willing to read a new Rocket Raccoon series if Carey felt like writing it. As for Portacio, his art has never really been my thing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it could be that I can’t ever quite put my finger on what the hell is going on in his panels that causes me such distress. Not a strong book to start WorldStorm out with, I hope this doesn’t bode ill for the rest of the series emerging from this initiative.

DMZ #12

I think this is my favorite new series. It’s just so…good. Really, really good. I have to admit, it was my first experience with the immensely talented Brain Wood, but after the first couple of issues I went and stocked up on some classic wood (Demo being my favorite, but the Jennie One stuff is great, too, and Local definitely has its moments). But DMZ seems to be what he was working towards. Everything else was prologue. This is the real deal. This is what he was meant to write. Dare I say it? This is his Watchmen. This is his definitive work (to date, at least) and his definition of comic books. He snuck under the radar and just told us this story, this amazing story, and so many of us don’t even realize it’s out there yet. It’s just so…good. So please, please, please, do yourself a favor and go read it. You will thank me.

Fables #53

How can you not like Gepetto finally being a badass? You knew it was there, but he’s always played off the doddering old man so well. But not anymore. With chapters 1 & 2 on Sons of the Empire, we see what he’s really capable of. The monster that he has become. And that’s not even what I liked the most about the issue. What really drew me in were the monsters underneath him. The ones working for him. You can’t help but think of Nazi Germany when reading the tales of the Empire, and the creatures that make it up. Gepetto may be ruthless, but only because he has the support of like creatures. This is played out here so well, as well as the other side of the coin. These creatures aren’t simply monsters, they’re much, much more than that. And they don’t only employ evil, they master it by filling their ranks with the good and noble, too. They hide behind innocence and purity, and they do it so well. This series has always been good, but rarely do I think it’s been this good.

Superman #656

Am I alone or does this series kind of just, I don’t know, bore you to death? It’s Busiek. It should be good, right? Hold on, hold on, Pacheco is drawing it? It should be great then. Just great. Only, I feel like I have to force myself to finish an issue. It’s all just a big yawn. I guess I don’t really know what’s going on yet, so there’s the whole mystery aspect to the story, but I also just don’t really care. Two issues on Subjekt-17 and I’m kind of just like, ho hum, and when he disappears I don’t even find myself wondering where he went. Maybe it will get better. Busiek’s first issue was well worth my 3$, but I kind of want the subsequent 6$ back.

Ultimate Spider-Man #100

For an issue that feels like it’s filled with revelations, I kind of feel like I didn’t really learn anything at all. I guess that’s all I really have to say about it.

Ultimate X-Men #74

It’s like somebody hit the snooze button on their Ultimate X-Men alarm clock and it just never came back on. I will say that the incredibly forced dialogue by The Magician is classic Kirkman (and what’s with The Magician? Quite possibly the worst character ever created, and in case you forgot, I mentioned Rocket Raccoon above, so no, I didn’t forget about him, and I’m still standing by my claim). Kirkman forces pages of story out of a character that has no reason to tell you the story, then comes up with a half-ass reason for his character to tell you said story. Can none of you see it? The guy’s just not that good of a writer. Seriously. His characters barely hold their voices even when they’re in-character, and they’re constantly jumping out-of-character just so they can explain something that Kirkman can’t figure out how to tell you otherwise. It’s just…not good.

Ultimate X-Men Annual #2

It’s Kirkman again. Let me say it again. NOT. A. GOOD. WRITER. The whole issue felt like a throw-away story just because Kirkman didn’t know what to do with Nightcrawler or Dazzler. I don’t know. I just really don’t like Kirkman.

American Splendor #1

How can you not like Harvey Pekar? I saw him speak a few years back, and he’s just got such an endearing quality to himself. He’s so self-deprecating, yet he’s so surrounded by these people that love him, and he just doesn’t seem to understand why. How can you not love that? Thank the movie for finally giving me his voice, I can hear it working it’s way through each of these short vignettes. His life is just so hard, but he always does such a good job of living it. I’d also like to say that it’s nice to see him working for a mainstream publisher, as well. I hope this finally gets him the recognition he so deserves.

Casanova #4

Do you remember when I told you to go out and pick up a copy of DMZ earlier? Well, while you’re at the shop, obviously listening to my sage advice, do yourself a favor and pick up an issue of Casanova as well. Go ahead and pick up any issue, there’s a great little “previously in…” on the inside cover that will get you up to speed. This book is, put simply, brilliant. It’s overflowing with ideas and music and feelings and art and wonder and everything else that should be there. There is not one thing missing from this book. Not one thing. And if the story isn’t enough for you? Don’t worry, there’s more. There’s pages of writer Matt Fraction’s thoughts on the issue. How he wrote it. Why he wrote it. This book is like an idea machine that’s stuck on over-drive. I reread it all of the time, and I walk away with something else, I should say something more, each and every time. Fraction is a genius, but he shouldn’t be left alone up on that altar. Gabriel Ba deserves a spot up there, too, for bringing Fractions story’s to life. You can feel his excitement for each story, each page, each word seeping out in the images he creates for us. It’s breathtaking. I get more in 16 pages from Casanova then I do in years worth of other books.

May this book never end.

The Ultimates 2 #12

If I had nothing other than the title of this issue, “The Avengers”, I’d have been a happy man. I don’t’ know why I didn’t see it coming (knowing me, the title was probably listed in the previews catalog and online, but I never noticed it before). That just made me feel warm and fuzzy. Then I spent some thirty pages of pure action in the grandest style. I would complain about the over-abundance of action, but it still seemed to work right. If he had anyone but Hitch drawing this book, it probably wouldn’t, and it’s a little bit too much pandering to the man’s skills, but then that’s what this book is supposed to be. It’s the Authority, Marvel-style (we’re all just going to forget that little fiasco with The Defenders). Sure, Hitch isn’t breaking any genre’s with his work here, but that’s only because he already cracked it wide open almost a decade ago. This book will never be as good as those twelve precious, precious issues of The Authority were, but it’s still good. After all, I’ve been waiting around with everyone else for these last four years for Millar to just finish this damn thing, even if I’m going to cry when he does.



And that’s it for today…
-Rather than a rotating guest host, SNL originally planned on one set host. Actor Treat Williams was chosen to fill this role, but the idea was rejected at the last minute when producers realized he was much more action-y than fun-y.

-Aaron Neville was asked to perform a record six times during the 1990 season, each time performing for both his first and second song the smash hit “Bird on the Wire” from the critically acclaimed film Bird on a Wire.

-Dan Akroyd invented the musical genre often referred to as “blues”.

-Despite their best efforts, SNL has not been funny since February of 1976.

-The repeal of prohibition was a direct result of psychics predicting Jimmy Fallon’s numerous performances on SNL some seventy years later.

-The film Mercury Rising was originally a seven minute skit that was supposed to air on a March, 1996 episode. One of the writers joked with Lorne Michaels that the masses were so stupid that the skit could probably be turned into a 90-minute Hollywood “blockbuster”.

-The word imbibed was not a part of the Enlish Language before SNL, although that has nothing to do with SNL per se.

-Horatio Sanz isn’t actually a real person. He is a digitally created image added during production.

-The top three hosts (in regards to the number of times they hosted) are; John Goodman, 12 times, Alec Baldwin, 12 times and Steve Martin, 8 billion times.
1. “I need hardly tell you what closing the book such a heinous felon would do for your career…”

-Hitman #9

Hitman, one of the best comic book series of all time. Tommy Monaghan is one of the greatest, uh, super-powered individuals of all time, and in a bout of brilliance, Garth Ennis created and used him to insult everything everyone holds dear about comic book superheroes, without being incredibly insulting. Quite Possibly the most brilliant writing in comic book history, even if it’s not the best.

2. “john Travolta’s performance in the film ‘Battlefield Earth’ was completely heinous.”

-Jeremy Bishop, yesterday, to himself

Seriously, people need to know about this. I don’t want anyone to suffer the way that I did, and I even include Rob Leifeld in that category. Don’t get me wrong, I want Rob Leifeld to suffer, but I don’t want him to watch “Battlefield Earth”. Ever.

3. “Heinous!”

-“Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” as well as “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey”

Come on, we’re kids of the nineties. And the eighties. We’re the Mtv generation? Who cares, these are still great movies.

4. “Amy Grant’s album “Unguarded” is totally the farthest thing from heinous. Totally.”

-Peter Martin, sometime last year

I don’t know. The guy bought a pink Taurus once, there’s not a lot I can do for him.

5. “Jeremy Bishop’s grammar skills are heinous, especially when it comes to distinguishing between movie titles and album titles. It’s like the guy has no training in the English language whatsoever. It’s totally heinous.”

-Jeremy Bishop, minutes before this entry was posted

What can is say? At least he got heinous in there twice, right?

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You’d be surprised at how hard it is to break up with Charlize Theron. I don’t want to say anything bad about Charlize, here. She’s great. Stunning. Spectacular. But you know how things are, sometimes they just don’t work out. Hearts have to be broken.

The only problem is, I can’t seem to get her to admit that the breakup is going down.

I started out by trying to call her. I know, I know, it’s the cheap way out, especially if all you do is leave a message on the machine. But you have to understand, Charlize is a busy woman. She doesn’t always have time for a hot cup of joe or a good slice of ‘za.

So I tried to get a hold of her over the phone. The thing is, she proved surprisingly elusive. After mistakenly pouring my heart out to Charlie Theron for fifteen minutes, I realized that the phonebook might not be as strong an ally as I had originally thought. Besides, I wasn’t even really sure what city she lived in.

These movies stars can be very elusive.

But I wasn’t going to let that be the end of it. I felt that I owed Charlize more than that. A lesser man might have taken the lack of communication as a straightforward sign that she realized the relationship was over, but I am not a lesser man.

My next move was to write her publicist, manager, and the last few studios she had worked for. After several months and numerous cease and desist letters, all full of legal mumbo jumbo that I didn’t really understand, I realized that something more would be needed.

It made sense. After all, what we had was something special.

Since I was having such a hard time locating her, and legally speaking I had to remain at least 500 yards away from the Academy Awards every year (the one place I knew I could find her, seeing as she’s always up for this or that category, she’s quite the shining star), I realized that I’d have to do something…different. And then it came to me.

Celebrity impersonators are actually quite easy to find, and relatively affordable. I borrowed some filming equipment from an old friend and found a local coffee shop that would allow me the time I needed to put together my masterpiece and the ending to our relationship that I felt we both needed. By breaking up with a fake Charlize on film, I felt that the experience would not only be cathartic to myself, but allow Charlize to feel like she had been there, too. Perhaps then she could finally move on.

I forwarded a copy of the video on to her publicist, and noted that I wasn’t sure if it would get to her seeing as I had had some difficulty previously in writing her. Shortly thereafter I received another package filled with even more legal jargon, things like “sue for libel if said tape is ever released” and the all too familiar “remain at a distance of 500 yards at all time”.

I finally felt like we had the closure that we needed. Breaking up with Charlize Theron is, like I said, a lot harder to do then one would think.
1. The human race has been enslaved for a millennia by an alien race called the Psychlos and reduced to a few scattered tribes spread throughout the world. During this millennia, they’ve maintained their language and relative level of mental capacity (including the ability to read and write, although when presented with mathematics they are dumbfounded). From this apparently inherent knowledge comes the following oddities:

A) In the matter of a few days, the people of Earth can not only retrain themselves how to fly fighter jets using flight simulators, but pull off complicated maneuvers like hovering in the ruined remains of Earth’s former cities.

B) Although the Psychlos never learn the earthman language, when they train Johnny Goodboy Tyler (in a stunning performance by Barry Pepper) to speak their language, somehow the term Psychlo can be translated and is a part of the Earthman language, despite no one else ever having heard the term before.

2. The story itself seems wholly original, and at times confusing as I’ve never seen an epic of this proportion told before…no, no, wait. It’s just Moses freeing the slaves from Egypt. Got it.

3. John Travolta sucks ass. Literally. I heard it from my friends sister’s brother (who is apparently not my friends brother, see how that works?).

4. Point three can be further proven, albeit in a more figurative way, through the claim by John Travolta that the story Battlefield Earth was like “the Pulp Fiction of 3000”. Obviously it’s much more like the “Book of Exodus of 3000”, but the Book of Exodus just isn’t going to bring as many disaffected youths to the box office, now is it?

5. This is more a point of contention with the Academy, because you have to ask yourself after watching this film, where was Barry Pepper’s Oscar?

6. That Forrest Whittaker is still just like a great big teddy bear, even when he is nine feet tall and hairy. His believability as a monstrous villain just doesn’t work here. Besides, I keep thinking about his and Travolta’s last critical success, a little number called Phenomenon. Now that’s the kind of heartfelt filmmaking that I can really get behind.

7. Scientology is wack. Or is it whack?

8. Buffoonery, although already a credible word in the English language (I’m sorry, Earthman language), is not used even once during the entire film.

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Blue Rhino Review

Hey.

How’s it going?

What’s that? Where have I been? I don’t know, to Texas or something. Does it matter? I’m here now, to tell you about comic books, all over again. So enjoy it.

All Star Superman #4

I love Grant Morrisson. I love what he does to comic books. I love his ideas, his wit, his charm. And I love that he’s doing everything right with this comic book, no matter how many delays there may be.

Flash #1

I’m pretty sure I won’t be buying issue #2.

Casanova #1

I’m sure that Matt Fraction is a lot of things, but I don’t know that much about him. In fact, I only know one thing. I know I’ll buy anything that has his name on it, because this book was amazing. Brilliant. Everything a comic book should be, and a lot of things they shouldn’t. And don’t even get me started on how beautiful Gabriel Ba’s art is.

Astonishing X-men #15

Joss Wheddon made Serenity, right? And you’ve seen it, right? Because if you haven’t, then you’re missing out. But this isn’t about Serenity. This isn’t even about Firefly, which I’m just going to assume you’ve seen. This is about the X-men I grew up with, and the last panel on the last page of this astonishing issue. Fuck, sorry about using astonishing in my review, it’s like I’m working for the man.

Just buy the book.

Oh, and I shouldn’t even have to tell you that John Cassaday is on art chores. After all, chances are you’ve probably slept with him already.

Captain America #19

Steve Epting is enough to sell this book. I haven’t seen a better Cap artist since that guy you slept with that’s drawing Astonishing. Seriously, his art is just…beautiful.

But Ed Brubaker is writing it, too. And he’s not just writing it, he’s writing the shit out of it. Fuck the people that say Bucky’s return was no good. They’re just bitter because comics apparently have no rules anymore. Hell, I’m bitter about that too, but if it means that I get stories like this, I’m willing to suffer.

Plus, he beat up Fraction once.

New Avengers #20

I have a lot of love for Bendis. He’s done a whole lot right. I’m not willing to say that this issue was wrong, but I know it wasn’t right. It pissed me off. Maybe that’s because of my man-crush on Morrisson (not in any way getting in the way of my man-crush on Joe Casey), well, my man-crush on Morrisson means that I can’t respect what he did with this issue, even if it’s fixing Chuck Austen’s faux pas.


Not Chuck Austen’s faux pas of being a writer, which is crime enough, but Chuck Austen’s faux pas of Xorn.

Whatever, this book has always pissed me off, but I still keep buying it. So who’s the moron?

Ultimates 2 #11

Motherfucker.

I’ll take Garden State over Die Hard any day of the week, but that doesn’t mean I won’t repeat Die Hard word for word on any given Tuesday.

And that’s what the Ultimates is, Die Hard, wrapped in a shiny package and totally fucking amazing.

Wolverine: Origins #3

So we’re eight issues in to Way telling us the secret history of Wolverine (5 issues in the original Woverine series). How much more do I know than I did when I was thirteen? Absolutely nothing. Fuck, Days of Our Lives moves faster. Don’t make my mistake and actually buy this book.

And never trust Joe Quesada.

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Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, a balanced diet is good to eat, up North, down South, in the country, in the city, doesn't matter, it's still a living, on a bike, in a car, greyhound bus, take me far

you shouldn't read so much
cause you might just get
way too smart
you shouldn't read so much
no, not so much
not so much

Shafty Cat, brillo pads, who owns non-stick dishware anyway, HBO, CNN, when will entertainment be good again, Netflix, Nintendo, more comic books than you'd care to know

you shouldn't read so much
cause you might just get
way too smart
you shouldn't read so much
no, not so much
not so much

booking shows, playing hip, wondering why uHaul's such a gyp, Lerner Pub, contract work, 9 to 5, such a bore, I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE

you shouldn't read so much
cause you might just get
way too smart
you shouldn't read so much
no, not so much
not so much

Pieces of You

I quit my job.

I rented my place out.

I found someplace else to live, in Bemidji of all places.

I’ve stepped off an edge, off a place I never really thought I’d cross.

I’m going to become a writer. Or an artist. Or, at least, something else. Hopefully it will all work out for me, but I have no idea if it will right now. I have no idea if tomorrow will be better than today, but for the first time in a long time it seems like there’s a chance that it will be.

I’m giving up everything I have right now in the hopes of getting everything I want. Well, not everything I have, but I’m throwing a lot of it on black in the hopes that Wesley Snipes was right.

Because I have to. I have to try now, or it’ll be never. It’ll be fifty years later and I’ll be telling my maybe-grand-children about the accomplishments of my life. How I got a raise at 32, a promotion at 35. How I helped create a database that has nothing to do with me and nothing to do with who I wanted to be.

So I’m just quitting. Quitting the grind. Quitting the regular. Quitting the path my life was going down and taking a left when the directions clearly stated that I should have taken a right.

And to do this, to take this left that by all means I shouldn’t be taking, I have to give up some things. Some comforts.

I have to give up that couch you gave me three years ago. I have to give up that nightstand that reminds me of you. I have to give up that memento I thought I could never give up.

Because, well, I just don’t have room for it anymore. I can’t carry it with me, not to where I’m going now. There just isn’t room.

I thought it would be hard to give those things up. Those pieces of you, those pieces that I’ve carried for so long. I thought they meant more than they did. I thought they were carrying me, instead of me carrying them.

I’m not throwing them away. Not all of them. Some of them will sit in my mother’s basement from now on. Some of them will go on to the shoulders of others, who think they need to carry that burden for me. Who think they need to carry that burden for themselves.

And some of them will just go away. They’ll be forgotten. They’ll fill a trash heap. They’ll fall through the cracks.

But I’m not throwing you away. I’ll never throw you away. I’ll carry you with me, wherever I go. I’ll carry you because, wherever I go, whoever I am, whatever I become, it’s because of you. It’s because of the part of you that I still carry. It’s because of the part of you that I’ll always carry.

Because the rest, well, the rest are just pieces of you.

Fistful of Fortune Cookies

A friend of mine was talking about fortune cookies last night and how she thinks she's going to get into the school she's applied for due to the upbeat messages she's recently received inside those crunchy nuggets. Messages like "Things are looking up for you" and "You will be traveling soon" (she's applying for a school in Chicago). It got me and another friend wondering why fortune cookies don't predict the actual future more precisely, why they're so vague. He pondered the following question:

"I don't know why I never get a cookie that says 'you're ex-wife's going to be a real bitch and treat you like shit this year'. I mean, it always happens, so why haven't I seen a cookie that says so?"

That's a good question. Why don't we see more "realistic" fortune cookies? I never get a cookie that says

"You won't be able to afford your bills this month"

or

"You really are losing your hair. It's not coming back, man. It's just...not."

or

"You're a fucking loser"

I mean, sure those messages would be harsh, but at least I'd know they meant something. At least I'd know they weren't just telling me what I wanted to hear. I mean, "You will be traveling soon"? What the fuck is that? What is their definition of "traveling"? And how soon is "soon"? I'd much rather be called out on my obvious inadequacies than be told some vague lie about possibly going only as far as the market down the street.

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Calling Occupants...

Why can't hotels just tell you how much a room is going to be for the night? Why, when you call and make the reservation, can't they just say "that's going to be $121.50 for the night, sir" instead of telling me it's $99.99 for the night and then charging me all kinds of additional fees and taxes? It's not that I'm not cool with the $121.50, I can pay that, it's just that I budgeted for the $99.99 because, you know, that's what I was told it would cost me.

I know that's how all things work, and that I should expect to always pay more than the price tag for everything I do. A comic book isn't $2.95, it's actually $3.16 after taxes in Minneapolis. A #2 at McDonalds isn't $2.99, it's actually $3.20. A "bag" of heroin on the street isn't $20, it's actually, well, it's $20, but that's not my point.

I just want someone to tell me how much something is going to cost. I want to know beforehand, because I'm a paycheck to paycheck kind of guy and I don't have an extra $193.59 just lying around for when I need to check out of my nine day stay in NYC (great placement on the subtle point that I spent nine days, yes, nine days, in NYC). I had $99.99 a night, $139.00 a night on Friday and Saturday, saved away and ready to pay in my checking account. There was another $50 in my savings account (quite possibly the most money that has ever been in my savings account). I was ready to pay $99.99 a night, $139.00 a night on Friday and Saturday.

I even had a budget for my nine days. $60 a day. And I stayed in budget. I still had $60 left when I got up to leave at 5am on Tuesday morning, and I'd already paid for my shuttle to get me to the airport. I just had to get my bill from the hotel desk clerk and be on my way.

At which point I found out that I owed $193.59 more than I thought I did. That's just great.

They even itemized my additional charges for me. My favorite was a $1.50 "Occupancy Fee" that I was charged each day. Apparently, if I had reserved my hotel room for nine days in NYC but not actually stayed in the room I could have saved $13.50. Just something for the savvy traveler to be aware of.

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Fuck Valentine's Day?

I forgot it was Valentine's Day today. I guess that's even better than being anti-Valentine's Day, right? Forgetting it completely. Well, not completely. I was aware of it. People have mentioned it to me. The office is providing us with a Valentine's Day lunch, at least for those of us who don't have someone to go to lunch with.

I'm going to fill the hole in my heart with some corn and deep fried onions. Scrumptious.

But I was really reminded it was Valentine's Day when I spent all morning delivering flowers here at my office. The lady that usually sits at the front desk is out, and my desk is the closest to the front door, so I generally answer it when she's away. None of the flowers have been for me. In fact, I've never received flowers in my life, Valentine's Day or otherwise. I know, I know, boo hoo, right?

I have to think that it would be nice to receive flowers. I know I'd like it, even if I am anti-Valentine's Day or whatever (I'm actually not, who would be?, I'm just anti-being single on Valentine's Day, which is really more my fault than Hallmark's or St. Valentine or Chuck Willary).

How can anyone really be anti-Valentine's Day when they've got someone to share Valentine's Day with? I know my ex made the claim that she was anti-Valentine's Day, but I was still supposed to get her something on Valentine's Day. But we weren't supposed to celebrate it. Not together, at least. But don't forget to get something. It was all very complicated (actually, it was pretty simple, I just like to pretend she was more complicated than she was because it's easier to find faults in the relationship and why it fell apart that way).

I've read various articles today on how American's have become more and more anti-Valentinian in recent years. Cards and messages have generally become more sarcastic. Less and less people are celebrating Valentine's Day in traditional ways, if at all. Marriages are down while divorces are up (we all know that's got nothing to do with Valentine's Day, though. It's them gays marrying, that's what's destroying the institution of marriage. Right? Hello?). The moral fiber of our nation is crumbling.

In the end, I guess it really is an arbitrary holiday that is slowly becoming more and more, well, arbitrary. We're becoming a nation filled with bitter loners who don't want sweets and a card every February 14th, we just want to know why we aren't loved like everyone else (ignoring the obvious contradiction that everyone else is wondering the same exact thing). Or maybe the internet has just provided a voice to the countless minority that's never been heard in the past. The tears of heartache have turned from salty bitterness to malicious hatred.

So fuck Valentine's Day, right? Unless you're going to get me some flowers, that is.
I read today that Destiny’s Child will be performing at half-time for the NBA All-Star Game in Houston this year. Supposedly, they had broken up a few months back with a farewell performance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, their “final” performance together. Though they’d never admit it, only one thing could really bring them back together. A shitload of money.

But maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe they’ve spent their entire lives dreaming of that day when they got to play the half-time show at the NBA All-Star Game. Perhaps that one spot is the pinnacle of their musical careers, and never having achieved it, they broke up, desolate and downtrodden, only to discover some months later that their hopes and dreams were to come true.

Or perhaps they need the added fame that playing the half-time show at the NBA All-Star Game will bring them. After all, not that many people have heard of Destiny’s Child, and a lot of artists are discovered at the NBA All-Star half-time show.

Then again, maybe I’m just jealous that no one’s giving me a shitload of money to lip sync to some over-produced crap while shaking my ass. Because I’m willing, and I’m probably a lot cheaper than Destiny’s Child.

You have to wonder how Jimmy Kimmel feels about all of this? Let’s ask him…

Me: Hey, Jimmy Kimmel.

Jimmy Kimmel: Hey random stranger.

Me: So, how do you feel about Destiny’s Child upstaging your show in less than a year by playing the NBA All-Star half-time show? Let me say that again, THE NBA ALL-STAR HALF-TIME SHOW.

Jimmy Kimmel: Well, I’m kind of…

[I punch him in the stomach]

Me: THAT’S FOR PRODUCING THE ANDY MILONAKIS SHOW, YOU ASSHOLE!

Jimmy Kimmel: (cough) (cough)…

Me: Fuckwit.

See? He seems pretty upset about all of it.

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The Blue Rhino Review

I usually write out these little lists on post it notes for the comics I need to pick up each week. I’m getting older and ye olde memory isn’t as intact as it used to be. Besides, who wants to get home only to discover you forgot to pick up this weeks issue of “Anonymous X-Book X”. What a nightmare.

So I refer to these small post it notes to help remind me what I need to pick up. I usually do a run through the racks, then pull out the list and see if I managed to remember everything, kind of like a test. I’ve never passed it. And if you’re worried about a guy that tests himself on whether or not he can remember to buy all of his comic books for the week, let’s remember that I spend $30+ a week on comic books. We’ve got bigger issues to deal with here.

I then use the list the following day to remind myself what I did buy the night before, so I can write these wonderful reviews. I’m looking at my list right now (which actually consists of the last two weeks of new books, I never made it last week), and apparently I missed picking up half of them. Seriously, I count 7 books that I missed picking up. I’m not quite sure how that happened.

Well, let’s get to reviewing…

Mister Miracle #2

This is my least favorite of the epic Grant Morrison Seven Soldiers storyline, at least so far. Maybe it’s just because The New Gods just never interested me before. I know, I know, they’re Kirby classics, and since the man never did anything wrong, EVER, I should love it, right? And maybe I would, I’ve never actually read the Kirby version of The New Gods. I’ve only read the Eighties and Nineties renditions, back when house comic books didn’t necessarily have to be good, they just had to come out each month.

And I remember always being disappointed with the art on any New God’s storylines (except for those twenty or so issues by Simonson and Byrne, back before Byrne was so crazy, or maybe just not as vocal about his craziness), and I’m disappointed with the art on this series. It reminds me of 3-D art, only I don’t seem to have the pair of glasses that make it “cool”. It’s very mechanical and futuristic, in a mid-Eighties futuristic kind of way.

I do like the concept of the storyline, although I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I don’t know what’s up with The New Gods currently, if this is actually them, what relevance this will have to them in the end, what happened to the original Mister Miracle. The usual stuff. I guess I’ll just have to find out.

Ultimate Spider-Man #87

Silver Sable. Bah. I didn’t even like her when McFarlane was drawing her back in the late Eighties, and those were some mighty impressive issues.

Bendis’ desire to eventually resurrect every B, C and D-lister in the Marvel Universe had its charm in the beginning, but it’s starting to get old. I’m starting to wonder if the plot is driving these appearances, or if the desire to make these appearances is driving the plot. This issue seemed a little forced, and really wasn’t all that interesting.

This series has a lot of potential, which Bendis has proven time and again, but he also seems to be floundering a bit to much. I think the man is stretching himself too thin, and it’s coming through in all of his books. He’s just got way to much on his plate, and as interesting as his ideas are and as good of a writer as he is, I think he’s suffering from to heavy a burden. The only problem is he doesn’t seem to realize it.

Ultimate 2 #9

Holy Shit. Wow. What? No Way. Wait, if Thor is a Norse God, why can that other guy use his powers just by wearing his old suit thing?

These are all things I said while reading this issue. The traitor revealed (who I had already guessed anyway, a fact which I proudly state after reading the issue where, uh, the traitor is revealed), and now the book can finally go into end game. Millar has built a lot up with this series, and I’m perfectly confident that he’ll bring it all crashing down in a finely crafted and superb manner. Sometime next year. Late next year.

That’s the only problem with this book. The same problem the first series had. Who knows when the next issue is actually going to hit the stands. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it time and time again, a book that is consistently late just kills some of the joy for me. I hate that I’m weak and still buy them, but the momentum of a monthly is really destroyed when it ceases to be monthly. I can wait four weeks for the next issue. Honestly, it’s part of the joy of reading comic books. But I really don’t want to wait four months to see what happens next (the March solicits are up for Marvel, still no mention of Ultimates 2 #10).

100 Bullets #67

What a great issue. I loved the creative concept behind this issue, the story told from no one in particular, yet the words can be set at the feet of any of the four players in this issue, and represents them all in different ways (the sheer brilliance of writing an entire issue with the same words for each character meaning such different things).

Azzarello is a brilliant, brilliant writer who sometimes suffers from his own cleverness, but when he pulls it off, he really pulls it off. This series continues to amaze me, and I’ve learned that you just can’t figure it out ahead of time. It’s classic crime noir, you just have to sit back and see where the ride takes you. Sure, you’ll pick up some clues along the way, and you may have an idea about where you’re going, but I can almost guarantee it’s not where you’re going to end up.

I love it. I think this is possibly one of the best comic books written this year, in a series that has had some amazing stories so far.

DMZ #2

The horrors of war, right here at home. I’ve often thought about what it would be like to live in a country at war, to live in a city under siege. Do you still go to work every day? Do you go out? Do you still watch Two and Half Men on Mondays?

DMZ brings us right into the heart of war torn Manhattan, the demilitarized zone between the United States and the Free States (Free Colonies? I can’t remember what they’re called in the comic). A young intern finds himself the only survivor of a news crew that went into the DMZ to report on the atrocities of a city under siege. He has no idea what he’s in for, and he’s not even close to prepared for what he finds.

The concept reminds me of New Orleans after Katrina, when reporters were actually reporting and not reading bylines provided for them at a White House press conference. They weren’t showing us what we wanted to see, what anyone wanted to see, they were just showing us what was happening.

That’s what we find in DMZ. These aren’t just fluff stories about people surviving. These are stories about the sniper in love with the enemy, the children torn to bits by random bombing raids and the restaurant still doing business on a local rooftop. This is a story about someone trying to tell a story about people, about what we really are, and what we really do, no matter what’s going on. It is a story about people surviving, but it’s not pretty. Nor is it ugly. It’s just people.

Fables #44

What an ending. I’m not a big fan of Arabian mythology, but the way Fabletown gets out of being destroyed by an all-powerful D’Jinn was amazingly clever.

This series is consistently good. I can’t think of a single bad issue or storyline that I’ve read so far. I get angry when Willingham doesn’t move the story ahead at any great pace, or when he takes time out to do a side story (like with Jack, although those are two of my favorite issues, I knew the identity of The Adversary was coming in the next storyline and just really wanted to get there).

I’d love to see Willingham draw a story arc or two, but Mark Buckingham does a fine job of playing with Willingham’s scripts. I’ve never been a big fan of Buckingham in the past, but he does some amazing work on this series. I love the intricate patterns adorning the panels on each page, I find myself getting wrapped up in them almost as much as the story.

Son of M #1

I wasn’t as impressed with this issue as I was hoping I’d be.

I remember an old issue of X-Factor (the first issue of the classic Joey Q illustrated run), where the whole team goes to counseling and Pietro talks about his speed. How everything else is so slow to him, his life is filled with constant disappointment and waiting, kind of the way one feels when they’re stuck in a long line at the bank. That’s what it’s like to live his life, all the time. I thought that was great, and it’s always stuck in my mind whenever I read any story about Peitro, and this one should have been great.

Because now Pietro is just like us. He doesn’t have his speed anymore. It’s gone (he’s not a mutant anymore, no one is since Wanda said “No More Mutants”, except for, you know, 198 mutants that didn’t lose their powers when Wanda said “No More Mutants” because that statement obviously has quite a bit of wiggle room, being so ambiguous and all). So it should be cool, right?

I don’t know about these terrific ten, or ten terrific, or whatever they’re called. David Hine is one of them, and Joey Q says these are the guys to watch in the coming year. Because they’re so damn good. They seem like house writers to me. Classic Nineties house writers. They’re not bad writers by any means, they’re just not interesting writers. They fulfill a need to move the Universe along it’s path, to take it from point A to B to C and so on. But they don’t do anything wild or crazy. Or even really all that fun.

X-Factor #1

I love X-Factor. I’ve always loved X-Factor. But I particularly loved Peter David’s run on X-Factor. They were just…fun. And the art, well the art, the art was always amazing. Larry Stroman. Joe Quesada (as much of a fuck as that man is, he can really draw). Jae Lee (I know, Jae Lee!). Just a wonderful, wonderful run.

And David doesn’t let me down with this new incarnation of my beloved series. He brings us right back into the fold in a world with “No More Mutants”. Mutant Town or whatever it’s called has become a hunting ground, where the formerly powerful are now the weak and hunted. I can’t wait to see where he goes with this.

And Ryan Sook on art. It’s like some kind of comic book wet dream. I’ve known Sook had talent for years. I’ve followed him since his Arkhum Asylum days, through The Spectre and now into stardom with Zatanna and X-Factor. I’m glad he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves.

And that’s it for this week. I’m all done. My list is incomplete. I guess I’ll just have to stop by the comic shop on my way home…

The Blue Rhino Review

Well, my comic buying has been pretty sporadic lately. I go on ten to twelve days stints without buying anything, then I blow it all in a crazed comic book swirl. I didn’t actually buy anything this week (even with Ultimates 2 #9 coming out, I know, I know, it’s crazy), so you’re going to get some reviews from the last couple of weeks. I think, they’re at least comics I’ve purchased in the last couple of weeks, if that helps.

Wolverine #36

The beginning of the penultimate, year long look at Wolverine’s life. The secrets are supposed to be revealed. The most shocking moment from House of M is supposed to be dealt with here, in Origins & Endings (oooooohhhh…).

So why did this issue suck so much, then?

I should rephrase that. It didn’t suck. It had a certain Nineties charm to it. But I’m not looking for Nineties charm, Nineties charm is what got me off comic books back around the turn of the century. Nineties charm blows.

Daniel Way, one of the “terrific ten” or “ten terrific” or whatever smoke Joey Q’s blowing out of his ass this week, well, Daniel Way just didn’t impress me. He writes like a house writer from the Nineties (hence that Nineties charm). “Here’s a story, here’s where you need to go with it, go to town” and now we’ve got The New Warriors. Or Darkhawk. Or the West Coast Avengers. It’s back to the days when editorial dictation ruled the world (or at least Universe 616). And Way is just doing what he’s told. Don’t rock the boat. Hell, boy, you’re writing Wolverine. You should be thankful enough, not coming up with your own ideas.

Not to say that Way probably hasn’t weighed in with his thoughts (and that’s not meant as a pun, so fuck you), but I get the feeling that Wolverine’s fate was decided long before Way was assigned writing duties and he’s just filling in the fluff around a plotline that’s already been established. And not very interestingly, might I add.

Ooooh, there’s ninjas. And the Silver Samurai. And Japan. And Wolverine stating how tough he is, over and over. I’ve never read any of that before.

All right, all right. So we’re going back to his origins. Which does mean rehashing what makes the character, well, Wolverine. But this issue was just boring. I don’t know anything more than when I started reading the issue. I mean anything. I’m just as clueless as I was three dollars ago. So what was the point?

We’ve been waiting for over a decade to learn the secret history of Weapon X (ever since the days of Barry Windsor-Smith’s Weapon X mini, now that’s good comic book). Stopping jerking our chain and give us something to chew on. Fuck.

Fell #3

Man, do Iove this series. It’s definitely the year of the Ellis, with great books like Fell, Jack Cross and Desolation Jones continuously reminding me why I just absolutely love comic books. With these books and various mini’s that the man is doing, I’m kept pumped full with an almost weekly infusion of more Ellis goodness. I’m loving it.

But I think Fell has to be my favorite of these new Ellis creations. Desolation Jones might have stolen that crown, but the bi-monthly time table on that title is really taking it’s toll on the progression of the story.

Now Fell, well, Fell is the exact opposite. A complete story in each issue. Shit, a complete story in sixteen pages. Nine panels a page. Short, succinct, sweet. It’s absolutely fascinating.

Ellis doesn’t have the time to give us the runaround. There’s nothing casual about Richard Fell, the newest detective in Snowtown. It’s all in your face, BAM! It’s just…great. Richard Fell is the perfect mixture of cliché and mystery. He’s easy enough to pick up on if you just fall into a random issue (which is some of the concept behind Fell, that you don’t need to have read issue’s 1-6 to enjoy issue 7), but there’s also an overall development going on there. There’s a whole lot more beneath the surface, in case you’re interested in checking it out.

And what can I say about Ben Templesmith’s art? It fits like OJ’s glove. This is one of those perfect mixtures of writer and artist, where the book becomes so much more than any of the parts added up.

I wasn’t a fan of Templesmith in the past. I didn’t really like his 30 Days of Night stuff. Maybe I just didn’t like vampires. I took a look at it, and although you can see that he’s definitely grown as an artist, that early work isn’t as crude as I seem to remember it being. Still, his work on Fell is beautiful. It’s real comic book art. Fun. Experimental. Real, but with a hint of the fantastic. It’s not trying to just imitate life, it’s trying to stand on it’s own. And it does.

Daredevil #79

Daredevil fights Bullseye. Again. Yank, yank.

Ultimate X-men #65

The end of a great writers not-so-great run on Ultimate X-men. Brian K. Vaugan leaves with a bit of a whimper, even though some pretty big things seem to have happened. I actually had to read it a second time so I could remember what they were, though. And I’m even having a bit of trouble remembering them still.

This title seems to be wondering. It seems like it’s been wondering for a while now. Occassionally, there’s a great issue. The annual was spectacular. The stand alone with Prof. X was pretty good. But overall, it seems like it’s lost direction. Perhaps it’s the vaunted Brian Singer run, that’s slated for what, 2010 now? Don’t worry, I’m sure that will get pushed back again anyway.

I do like the art, thought. I’ve always like Stuart Immonen, in all his incarnations. I loved his work on Superman in the early Nineties (despite that damn Nineties charm that I hate so, so much). I lost him for a while around the turn of the century, but now that he’s “back”, I’m loving it.

A lot of people are complaining that it’s too cartoony (too cartoony? Aren’t we grown men buying comic books? Too catoony?). I understand the argument, although I don’t necessarily agree with it. Teen Titans Go! Is too cartoony. You know why? Because it’s drawn like the Teen Titans cartoon. Stuart Immonen, now, Stuart Immonen is just drawing comic books. He’s not imitating life. He’s creating something new and fun. Wait, didn’t I already say this?

Anyway, take it or leave it, you have to decide for yourself. Me, I’ll take Stuart Immonen’s art any day of the week. When there’s guys like Rob Liefeld out there, you can really find something better to complain about (I know what you’re thinking, “hey Blue Rhino Review, didn’t you just say make your own mind up, like what you like because you like it, then you go and slam Rob Leifeld! You hypocrite!”).

Lucifer #68

Christ, haven’t you gone and picked this book up yet? Why are you reading my damn review of it, then? Just go read it. Trust me, it’s well worth your time.

Seven Soldier’s Zatanna #4

This issue caused me one of the great dilemna’s in comic book collecting. At least, it’s a dilemma for me.

Shipping on time. The whole Seven Soldier’s story has a timeline. Issues are supposed to fall in a certain order, and even though they are each their own separate mini-series, they also all tie in together. So when Zatanna #4 didn’t come out on time, what was I supposed to do? More issues of the other mini-series had come out, but I couldn’t read them, could I? What if something happened in Zatanna #4 that led into something that happened in, say, Bulleteer #1?

Luckily the issue came out, and I refit it back into it’s proper place in the order of the Seven Soldiers mini/mega-series (some people are probably reading this mini-series by mini-series, but not this guy, it’s all in the order it came out (except for Zatanna #4, so I guess it’s really all in the order that it was supposed to come out)). I’m more of a big picture kind of guy, after all.

As for the issue itself, great stuff. It’s Grant Morrison, after all. I know, I know, you’re thinking “isn’t that the guy that wrote Skull Kill Crew?”. Yes, yes it is. Everyone makes a mistake. Even the Spin Doctors had a bad album.

But, if for nothing else, you should check out Zatanna for the art. Ryan Sook is a master. He doesn’t do anything exceptional with this mini-series, well at least not exceptional for Sook. All of the issues maintain the creepiness of Sook’s work (check out his work on the last Spectre series, that stuff is amazing), but he doesn’t really push the limits like I was hoping he would. By far the best looking of the books (well, Frazer Irving did some pretty amazing stuff on Klarion, but I still liked Sook’s work more), Zatanna is well worth checking out.

New Avengers #13

Huh.

So Ronin is really Echo. The Silver Samurai’s kind of a jerk. Viper has escaped, again. And Cap knows that Spider-woman is up to something.

Wow, I really don’t care about any of that.

Wonder Woman #223

It kind of feels like we’re just waiting with this book. Diana screwed up, and now there will be consequences. The only thing is, we can’t know what those consequences are until after Infinite Crisis. So we’re kind of just in a holding pattern, where it seems like a lot of stuff is happening, but nothing actually is. When it’s all said and done, and I can sit down and read through all of these back issues in one sitting, I’m sure it’ll be quite good. But reading it monthly is turning into a real chore, and I’m not sure I’m up for it anymore.

Besides, we all know she’s going to die at the end anyway.


Well, that’s it for now. I’ve had enough. Too much disappointment, not enough excitement (although Fell and Lucifer alone almost make up for the countless piles of crap I’ve read over the past couple of weeks). I’m going to spend the next week reading It’s Superman by Tom DeHaven. So do yourself a favor, go get some comic books for yourself. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea. Wrap yourself up in a blanket, turn on some music, pick up a comic book and get your groove on.

Or something like that.
I’m not a chapstick kind of guy. I don’t compulsively layer my lips with a soothing aloe balm or a cheery cherry flavor. You won’t find half empty containers of Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm Lip Gloss lying around my home. The total expenditure on chapstick in my life is right at $0.00, and although it may multiply many times over, it will never increase.

Because I’m just not a chapstick kind of guy.

But this generally leaves me in a bit of a quandary at the start of winter each year. Because, you see, my lips get really chap. Chapped? Whatever, they get all dry and crusty. Luckily, I only make out with girls in the summer, so it hasn’t hindered my social calendar in any way. But it’s kind of annoying, and for about two weeks each year my lips first begin to hurt, then crack, then get really red (like your face does when you’ve been out in the cold for too long). It’s kind of embarrassing, but I weather through it every year. Not because I’m necessarily tough or manly or anything like that, mostly because I’m just not a chapstick kind of guy.

I felt the onset of my chapped lips this past week. I awoke one morning last week to the pain of dried lips (and years of loneliness), and I knew that the season was upon me. It’s like people with arthritis telling you when the rain is coming. My lips predict the start of winter.

I waited as long as I could after I got to the office before I went to inspect, and they’d already gotten pretty bad in the few short hours I had been at work that day. I have this obsession with checking out flaws in my otherwise perfect visage. I obsess about them. I generally don’t like looking at myself very much, in fact I generally avoid it at all costs, but give me a flaw and I can’t get enough. Cracked lips. A twitching eye (when I don’t get enough sleep, which is pretty common, my right eye spasms and has this cool twitching thing it does). A cut forehead (I run into things a lot).

And then, while standing there staring at my cracked lips, I decided something. Something crazy. Something I’d never done before.

I was going to find some chapstick.

That line probably would have been a lot more shocking if I wouldn’t have titled this entry the way I had, but believe me, it was still pretty shocking.

So, now that I’d made my momentous decision, I needed to find some chapstick. I couldn’t do anything wild like walk to the gas station down the street and pick some up. That’s too simple. Too everyday. I needed to find my chapstick from alternative sources, and I had just the one.

A friend had invited me up to his parents for the weekend, and he just happened to be one of those compulsive chapstickers that I mentioned earlier. The guy was constantly asking his wife where the chapstick was, and just like my parents have a pack of smokes tucked away in every nook and cranny of their home, you can find chapstick almost anywhere at my friend’s house. He was my ticket into this crazy world of preventative care for the lips. He was going to be my supplier, and for a weekend, I was going to be a junkie.

I was ready to take the dive. I was even ready to buy my own chapstick, on the off chance he had forgotten his (the wife wasn’t coming along on our trip). I was ready for any direction the road to chapstick would bring me in, even if it was a gas station in Smalltown, Wisconsin (vacation gas stations are different than home gas stations, you’re allowed to get away with more).

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about odd gas station purchases or my friend’s forgetfulness. Neither one mattered. Because his mother keeps a stock of chapstick at her house, a stock we were allowed to take from freely. I acquired three sticks, which will more than likely last me into my eighties. I fought dried lips (Chap lips? Chapped lips?), and I won. I’ve been healed, at least for this year.

Hallelujah.

Blue Rhino Review

Well, I haven’t purchased any comic books this week. At least, not yet. I may have to go out and pick up Infinite Crisis #2 tonight, but we’ll have to see.

I didn’t really buy any comic books last week, either. And not so many the week before. Or the week before that. And you know what? I’m not missing some of them. My current financial crisis may just be teaching me a lesson after all (because God knows I’ll never learn to manage my money suitably).

I haven’t missed Ultimate Spider-man. Hell, I don’t even really care how Gang War ended. And Silver Sable’s up next? Please.

And I know what you’re going to ask next. “But, Jeremy, if you don’t buy Ultimate Spider-man, you won’t have everything in the Ultimate Universe anymore. Can you live with that?” Well, I’m not a completist. In fact, I don’t ever complete anything, it seems. But I used to be a freak about my comic books. I had to have them all. No missing arcs. Just wade through the shit and take it with a smile on your lips, just so I could brag to people that I really didn’t need to impress that I had a full run of Title X.

Yep, I used to be a freak.

But I did pick up a few comic books last week. One of them was Desolation Jones #4, but I’m going to wait on that title until the first arc is finished (two more issues, about twelve weeks from now). I am loving it. It is Ellis. It is J.H. Williams III. Maybe I’ll talk about it before the end, but not today. No, today I have a treat for you. Today, I have…

Rocketo #1-3:

Remember a few years back, when the X-verse relaunched and Morrisson took over New X-men? Marvel produced a number of annuals that year that were bound sideways, so that when you looked at a traditional comic book, the binding would actually be at the top of the book. Remember that?

I could never figure out the purpose for this. It didn’t add to the style of story-telling. They didn’t write anything that couldn’t have just been put in the standard binding. The art didn’t do anything new and exciting. It was good. Leinel Yu on NewXmeN, Ash Wood on Uncanny. Good shit, man. But they didn’t need the format change. The format change made no sense. I don’t know if it was a marketing ploy (or even what that ploy could have been), I don’t know if it was just an experiment (but it didn’t seem to serve any purpose), I don’t know what it was.

I just remember not liking it. It was awkward to hold. My mind kept screaming at me “You’re holding it the wrong way, you moron!” I would fumble and drop the books repeatedly, thereby damaging my priceless memorabilia. And all for a story I could have read in my normal, comfortable format.

So I was a little weary when I picked up Rocketo and it was printed in the same format. Bound at the top of the page and read sideways.

Not this again. I don’t want to deal with this again.

But thank god for Frank Espinoza’s amazing, amazing art. I couldn’t resist, I had to devour more of it. Just the covers weren’t enough (and believe me, I spent my time on the covers. When you only buy three comic books for a week, you have so much more time to fully digest them). I knew I’d eventually venture inside. I knew I’d take the chance.

And boy, was it worth it.

Let’s start with that damn format. Why bind it sideways? Why flout industry standards? The answer: Because you’re making a comic book unlike the normal fare.

It’s not just a comic book, it’s not just a story, it’s not just a children’s tale. It’s all those things, and a little bit more.

It’s not just superheroes. It’s not just supervillains. It’s not just Metropolis and icons and legends. It’s all those things, and a little bit more.

It’s epic. That’s the best way to tell it. It’s epic like Moby Dick. Like Lord of the Rings. Like The Iliad and the Odyssey put together.

It’s a story. It’s a storybook. Not a comic book, and not a story, but a storybook. It’s something more. And the format allows it to be that. It allows it to breathe, to come alive in your hands. It makes it all seem a bit more grandiose, because it is.

Now let’s talk Frank Espinoza. Wow. I probably use wow too much, but if I could only ever use it one more time, I’d used it on Frank Espinoza’s art. It’s absolutely beautiful. The broad brushstrokes of the penciling/inking, the almost water-color feel to the coloring, The sharpness/dullness of the colors dependent on the story/scenery. It’s the full package. It’s everything that you dream a comic book should be.

The story, well the story wasn’t top notch. It wasn’t a 10. It was probably more of a 7, but that can be forgiven. He’s simply telling a sci-fi story about a distant future that may or may not happen. Aliens, monsters, heroes and villains. These aren’t new things. The story isn’t filled with new concepts about adventuring.

What it is filled with is new ways of telling the same story we’ve all heard before.

Simple things like wanting to tell a children’s story to adults in a format that they’d appreciate, which could also be used to attract children. How in the world do you do that? Simple, you have a character tell the children’s story, or old wive’s tale if you will, of Rocketo and how he became the man he is. That’s it. You’re free to walk the line in between both worlds for as long as Rocketo’s story goes. Brilliant.

But that’s not all. They do so many cool things in this book, I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it is. And I shouldn’t have to. Do you know why? Because you should go buy it. Go spend nine dollars on something new. Don’t go read the X-men. Don’t go read Spider-man. Those guys are there for us, the fanatics. The people that are so far entrenched in this world that the term “civies” obviously refers to your civilian clothes (as opposed to your superhero outfit). You’re welcome to join us, we’re not exclusive. But you don’t have to in order to read Rocketo. You just need to find nine dollars and a couple of hours to appreciate it.

Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Blue Rhino Review

House of Not So Totally Sucking #8

So the House of M “concluded” this last week with a shock and a bang. The bang we already knew about, the whole “no more mutants” thing. The shock, though, well the shock, I wasn’t quite ready for the shock. And if you haven’t figured it out already, there’s probably going to be spoilers below, so, beware the dim-witted who couldn’t figure that out on their own…

Let’s put aside some things first, though.

Let’s put aside that the Scarlet Witch doesn’t really have the power to alter reality. She can alter probabilities, but not reality. We should have probably discussed this way back in Avengers Disassembled, but most of us were to busy crying over the death of Hawkeye (who’s solo book didn’t sell for shit, might I add, where were all you fuckers then, eh?). Sure, she can make it so that Ultron, The Kree, Jack of Hearts and whoever else all attack on one day. What she can’t do is make them appear out of nothing, so that it isn’t actually Ultron, The Kree or Jack of Hearts, but instead figments of her demented imagination. That’s not how her powers work. Even for comic books, that’s a big leap of faith. But let’s put that aside for now.

Let’s put aside that the phrase “no more mutants” doesn’t actually mean, well, “no more mutants”. It just means “a lot less mutants”. I don’t know why she couldn’t have just said that. Or why someone couldn’t explain why either A) she didn’t just say that or B) why there are still mutants. If we’re assuming she has this all-encompassing control over reality, I’d think a little something like “no more mutants” is within her range. You know, that all-encompassing range.

Let’s put aside that the mini-series House of M isn’t actually a mini-series. It’s not over. It’s not even close to over. In fact, I’m not even really sure what happened. The end isn’t very clear. There’s less mutants, got it. There’s some uproar about this, got it. Iceman lost his powers, who cares. There’s a large red flash, huh? Is that the Phoenix? The Scarlet Witch? Galactus? What’s up?

Let’s put aside that they explained the whole Xorn thing away, the whole dual Magneto’s. Let’s put that aside because they didn’t need to explain it away. What they needed to do was fire Chris Fucking Claremont about twenty years ago. Not only fire him, but punch him in the stomach for every bad story he’s ever written. And, if you haven’t figured it out already, that’s a whole lot of punches. It’s nice that Bendis explained Xorn and the dual Magneto’s in a semi-believable way (again, assuming that the Scarlet Witch’s powers work the way that they’d have us believe), but he shouldn’t have had to. He shouldn’t have had to because Joey Q never should have given that hack Claremont his old job back. I’ve found steaming piles of dung more intriguing than even the best of his stories (all right, all right, so he wrote The Dark Phoenix Saga, Christ, I mean, even U2 has a couple of good songs).

Let’s put all those things aside, and talk about why this was one of the best issues to come out from Marvel this summer.

“I remember. All of it. I remember my life.”

I grew up on Wolverine. I remember when his solo series started. I remember when he went back to Weapon X to find some answers. I remember when he went back again, to find some answers. I remember when he just walked around for a while, to find some answers.

I remember when Wolverine lost his adamantium. When he became a feral beast. When he popped a claw in Sabertooth’s brain. I remember when Wolverine was Patch, living the down and dirty life in Madripoor. When he was engaged to Mariko. When he was sleeping around with Yukio. I remember when Wolverine was married to Viper.

A lot of crap over a lot of years. A lot of events that ended with disappointment. A lot of issues that weren’t really worth reading.

I’ve been through a lot with Wolverine, and no single event has ever come anywhere near exciting me as much as House of M #8 did. That one page made the entire series worth it. All of the mini’s, all of the “let’s put aside”’s, all of the shit.

“I remember. All of it. I remember my life.”

Thank you, Brian Michael Bendis. Thanks for having the balls to do what no one else has been willing to do (although I have to wonder if Morrison was going there before they cut him off at the feet).

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited to see what happens next.

We’re with Ryan Cabrera’s drummer

Oh my God, oh my God! I, like, totally met Ryan Cabrera the other night! Totally!

Y’know? Ryan Cabrera? He, like, used to date Ashlee Simpson. Y’know, on the Ashlee Simpson show? Ryan Cabrera? Simpson? Cabrera? Y’know?

He was so cute! I wonder how long it takes him to do his hair? Y’know? Cabrera? I know!

He was totally with Kimberly Stewart, too! She’s, like, a freaky mix between Paris Hilton and Rod Stewart! Oh my God! Totally! I don’t get it either! I didn’t think you could look worse than Rod Stewart! I know!

Cabrera? Simpson? I know!

Whew. Sorry about that. The 14-year-old girl in me always comes out whenever I think about Ryan Cabrera.

I actually did meet Cabrera the other night. He came to a show at the 400 bar with his band and their entire entourage of hangers-on’s. Girls that were hot either ten years or eight million vodka cranberry’s ago. But they still had the scene, man. They were still partying with 21-year-old pop icons. They were still snorting blow in the bathroom and giving blowjobs in the van out front, man. They were still hip.

I shouldn’t say that. It’s cruel. It’s unjustified. I neither saw them snorting blow or giving blowjobs in the van out front. I just made some relatively safe assumptions. I did see them cling to the bandmates of Ryan Cabrera for dear life. I saw them draw lines in the dirt over who got the lead guitar. Lines over who got the pianist. The drummer. The bassist.

I’ve got the bassist!

You bitch! You always get the bassist! I better not end up with the guy that just plays the tambourine again!

The highlight of the night, for me, was the first of the entourage to appear (the entire group had made arrangements to be put on the guest list, which I kept and simply states “The Ryan Cabrera Band”). A pair of thirty-something’s that walked in and told me “we’re with Ryan Cabrera’s drummer”. I didn’t know how to express to them clearly that where they were was not an enviable position. From the way they introduced themselves, it felt like I was supposed to announce to the whole bar “these two are with Ryan Cabrera’s drummer!” and the entire bar would turn it’s collective head and go “ooooooh”.

I mean, the guy doesn’t even appear to have a name outside of his association with Ryan Cabrera.

That’s like me telling people I’m dating Wynona Judd. It’s not that I’m dating a celebrity, it’s just readily apparent that I can’t get Ashley Judd. Getting the Silver or Bronze isn’t getting second or third place, man, it’s just losing.

Now, I’m fine with being a loser. It’s something I’ve had some time to get used to. It’s not like anyone’s taking home the Gold when they win a date with Jeremy Bishop. But I also don’t suffer from pretensions of grandeur. I know where I stand, and I’m cool with that. I meet who I meet, I date who I date, I snort blow with who I snort blow with.

But, once again, perhaps I’m making presumptions about people I really know nothing about. Maybe they are with who they wanted to be with. Maybe Ryan Cabrera is Silver or Bronze to them, where as Ryan Cabrera’s drummer is the Gold. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong.

But then why the hell are they introducing themselves, and him by proxy, with the name “Ryan Cabrera’s drummer”?

Y’know? Cabrera? Y’know? Oh my God! I do know!

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