Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hey, Kids! (I'm Killing) Comics!

I can feel the change happening.

My DCBS box came the other day. First thing I grabbed out to read? The Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist story hardcover. The rest of the box remains unread. I'll get to it, but I'm much more excited about the Mouse Guard collection I picked up at the library today.

I look over the list of what I buy each month, and I see everything winding down, either out of authorial/editorial intent (All Star Superman is finite, Darwyn Cooke is leaving The Spirit after #12) or out of a lack of interest on my part (the Sinestro crossover is snuffing out my interest in Green Lantern Corps, I'm not enthused about the changing of the guard on LSH). And I spend more and more time each month seeing what I can cut out of my already tiny budget in order to buy some newly listed - or even backlisted - collection or original graphic novel.

I can feel it happening... I'm becoming a "wait for the trades" guy. And I'm digging it.

That's not to say I'm giving up completely on floppies. I'll still pick up back issues when opportunity and finances allow. And I'll still pick up the few titles I like that I don't think will get collected and/or need the support (indie books or low-selling favorites from the big 2, like All New Atom at the moment). But this time next year, I'll be very surprised if most of my comics reading isn't in the collected format.

So, yup, it looks like I, too, am killing comics. And proudly at that. I want what I want how I want it. And since most of this stuff reads better in chunks nowadays, anyway, I see no problem in jumping to that method of delivery.

Doot, doot, doot, and another one bites the dust.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Quick reactions to news outta Nerd Prom. (No links, just thoughts. Okay, two links.)

Well, looks like I'll be saving money by not having to buy The Spirit after issue 12, huh? If they're gonna want me to keep reading non-Eisner Spirit, they'll have to find someone really special to replace Darwyn Cooke.

Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi on Astonishing X-Men? Hrrrm... Ellis is hit and miss with me, and I've never really warmed up to Bianchi's artwork, but I read this in trade, anyway, so I'll have a while to make my decision.

Terry Moore and Humberto Ramos on Runaways sounds a little more interesting to me, but only if Moore lays off the poetry and fake song lyrics. And I'd be pretty psyched if one of the characters - I'm thinking Molly - acquires a fierce obsession with strawberry cake (Kixie always was my favorite Moore creation).

Okay, so while I'm pretty much done with event comics, Grant Morrison writing Final Crisis means that I'll at least take a peep at the eventual collection. He earned at least that much from me by making One Million way better than it probably should have been.

Sylar playing young Spock? Okay, that's pretty brilliant casting.

Doctor Who comics from IDW? And new stuff, not just overpriced and repackaged British reprints? Well, looks like I know where that Spirit money will be redirected, at least for a little bit. The artwork looks fun.

The teams for the soon-to-be thrice monthly Amazing Spider-Man were announced. Glad to see Dan Slott among the writers. Still won't pick it up, but still, good for Dan Slott.

Between the Alex Ross thing and Image's new "Next Issue Project" (or whatever it's called), it seems like obscure Golden Age heroes are the new flavor of the moment. And it all sounds cool. Time to break out the old Rovin Encyclopedia of Super Heroes and brush up.

And last, but certainly not least, I hope Bully finally manages to meet Jane Wiedlin. The bloggyverse's favorite little stuffed bull deserves it, and also, yeah, I'd like to live vicariously through him. Like a lot of other bloggers out there, apparently, I, too, crush madly on the excellent Ms. Wiedlin. Even after The Surreal Life and her Rock & Roll Jeopardy appearance, and that's sayin' something.

Back to reality - stuff, nonsense, and non-spoilery Potter thoughts

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation, by Bill D.

1. Traveling anywhere for a week with a toddler isn't the best idea ever. There are a lot of fun times to be had, but a lot of not-fun times, too.

2. You can wax poetic all you like about the smell and added flavor, but the simple truth is that charcoal grills are more trouble than they're worth. I'll stick to my efficient, reliable, and easy-to-use gas grill, thanks.

3. Smores are all kinds of excellent, but microwaving them, which we tried as an experiment, produces really messy results. Tasty, but messy.

4. I can live quite comfortably without most TV, radio, or computer-related entertainment, but I really missed reliable access to the Red Sox. Even if I'm not really paying attention, I love the background noise it provides.

5. I have yet to be disappointed by anything I have ever consumed at the Gritty's in Freeport, ME.

5a. And that duck sausage Philly cheesesteak sandwich I had really needs to become a regular menu item.

5b. A Gritty's Best Brown Ale would be extra-tasty right now.




Thanks to Tangonat for the manga suggestions. I have to admit that I was hoping for a little more audience participation (usually, if you even say "manga," over-enthusiastic fans jump out of the woodwork with suggestions), but this is a good start.




Spending a week by the lake with little media access made reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a nice, relaxing, blissfully spoiler-free experience (though I'm thankful I finished before the Today show interviews with J.K. Rowling, which spilled beans left and right!). On the whole, I enjoyed the book, though I'm glad it followed so closely on the heels of the movie version of Order of the Phoenix, since a lot of concepts from there popped up in this book, and there's no way in hell I would've remembered them otherwise. It wasn't the best of the series (that's still either Prisoner of Azkaban or Goblet of Fire, depending on my mood the day you ask), but it was engaging and well-paced. On the whole, I only had two minor problems with it:

1. Harry Potter suffers from what I call "The Buffy Syndrome." Harry, like Buffy Summers, is surrounded by a diverse and well-developed supporting cast, and as a result, Harry, like Buffy, ends up being the character I find least interesting. It's not like Harry or Buffy are bad characters (aside from the tendency both have to waste a lot of my precious reading/viewing time bemoaning their fates), but everyone else is just so much better, IMHO, and I'd rather read more about what's going on with them than yet another chapter of Harry once again proving why he's the darling of the Hot Topic/LiveJournal scene.

2. Not enough Luna. The few bits she got were great, and they cemented her position as my favorite HP universe character, but I wanted more.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Gone fishin'

Back in a week or two.

In the meantime, keep the manga suggestions coming in.

Thanks, and happy motoring!

(Yes, that is a Barney Fife reference.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Manga Novice Seeking Recommendations From Folks (No Tentacles Need Apply)

So I've got a favor / homework assignment for folks while I'm on vacation...

I've never been a big manga fan, mostly because I found the whole reading right-to-left thing difficult. But recently, something clicked, and I now find the process kind of fun... it's like re-learning to read in a way, and it's been awhile since I've been able to challenge my brain in that fashion. So I'm looking for some titles to sink my teeth into.

To help steer you into the right direction, here's what I've read so far and enjoyed: Kindaichi Case Files (first two volumes), Planetes (first volume), Yotsuba&! (first volume), a few random issues of the Epic run of Akira, and some random issue of Cowboy Bebop.

Here's what I've liked for anime, too, if that helps: Just about anything from Miyazaki (particularly Kiki and Nausicaa), Grave of the Fireflies, Akira, Robotech, Gatchaman, StarBlazers, FLCL, Cowboy Bebop, The Big O, Record of Lodoss War, Read or Die, Ninja Scroll.

As for the sort of thing I'm not looking for... no pr0n of any variety, as few giggling schoolgirls as possible, as little pointless fan service as possible, nothing that requires extensive understanding of the underpinnings of Asian culture, and though this probably falls under the first thing listed - and is clearly stated in the title of the post - NO TENTACLES! Because, ick.

Space, robots, swords, monsters, ninjas, and the like are all good, but by no means necessary. I mean, of the titles that I have read, I liked Kindaichi the most by far. Not enough good mystery comics in any country, I say. And, of course, that's the one TokyoPop decided they don't need to publish anymore. Razzafrazza...

So any suggestions that fit this sort of criteria are appreciated. Thanks and happy motoring!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This, that, the other thing, and something else besides.

On vacation next week, though in my head, I've been gone for days already, hence the light posting this week. Here's some stuff now, though:

Alex Ross and Jim Krueger are reviving a bunch of Golden Age characters for a project called Superpowers for Dynamite. I was getting ready to be all snarky - "And here I thought Ross's next project would be a gritty re-conceptualization of Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch," that sort of thing - and then I see this post on Newsarama and the accompanying illustration:

Okay, I admit, that's pretty cool. Looks like Alex got out his old copy of Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes and picked out characters like a kid thumbing through the Sears Wish Book at Christmas time. Nice to see him direct his considerable industry clout somewhere other than Saturday morning again.




I don't see anything about it on their website, but Thursday, July 19th, is supposed to be Free Iced Coffee Day at Tim Horton's. So if you happen to live in a state that has a Tim Horton's somewhere - or are literally anywhere in Canada - you should partake, because their coffee is good. I also recommend the maple dip donut, but your mileage may vary.



So does this make Jon Lovitz one of America's newest heroes? Because I think you can make a pretty convincing argument for the fact now. I mean, it's not like we all haven't wanted to do the same thing at one time or another.




This is probably my favorite Muppet Show segment ever.



I love the puppetry of the African mask characters, and the song is catchy as hell. Can't wait until this episode is out on DVD so I can show it to Liam (of course, I'll be happy to have access to more than just season 1 at this point, because even at the age of 2, the kid's not that psyched about guest stars like Avery Schrieber or Kaye Ballard).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Banging my head against the wall: Marvel October Solicitations Edition

Marvel has some sneak previews of their October solicitations over at Newsarama, and I'd like to take issue with two things if I may (and it's my blog, after all, so I may).

First of all, the copy for Marvel Comics Presents #2 lists that the price is $3.99, despite earlier claims that only the first issue would be priced as such. Maybe it's a misprint, but if it's not, then they've just guaranteed I won't be buying that, not even at the lower DCBS price. There's no way in hell that a regular monthly comic book should cost 4 clams. It shouldn't cost more than $2 considering I'll read it in about 5 minutes, I say... this whole "oh but the paper is glossy" argument is just total bullshit. Go back to newsprint, and knock the damn prices down! Anyway, I cannot and will not support that. Which is too bad, because the Hellcat stuff actually sounds pretty interesting, and that cover is awesome.

Second, and more importantly, is this solicitation copy for New Avengers #35:

The Hood makes his play for the big time by gathering the most ruthless rogues gallery of evil the Marvel Universe has ever seen. What does a guy who wants to be the “Kingpin of all super-villains” do to make his point? You have to see it to believe it.
Guest-Starring Tigra. Poor Tigra. Poor, poor Tigra.

(Emphasis mine.)

Okay, look, if you want people to stop saying that your company is populated with misogynistic fratboy types who not only victimize female characters for so-called "shock value" and use it as a selling point, but then also make light of the fact that they're doing it... THEN STOP F---ING DOING IT, MARVEL!!! DC, too, for that matter! This isn't rocket science here! I know Quesada wants to be the new Stan Lee, but most days he comes closer to a Fox reality show producer or that Girls Gone Wild jackass.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Dig List - 7/15/07

Yotsuba&! Vol. 1 - Not as versed in manga as I think I should be sometimes, and lots of folks like this one, so I thought I'd give it a try via the library. And it was cute. In the good way, too, not the cloyingly sweet way I was half-expecting. Nothing I'd buy, but a fun, breezy read, and I'll probably get the later volumes from the library somewhere down the line. It's funny, though... I gather that Yotsuba's unfamiliarity with (and sheer amazement at) everything in the world around her is seen as weird, and probably supposed to raise questions about her true origins, but I didn't really see it that way. She just reminded me of my two-year-old. I see that sort of thing every day. Guess it all depends on your perspective.

Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix - Or, as I feel it should have been titled, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Good Parts Version. I'm impressed that they took the book I probably liked the second least of the entire series (after Chamber of Secrets) and made a movie easily as good as the two sans-Columbus Potter films before it. It helped that they slimmed it down for the better... extraneous bits cut (bye, Quidditch, you're not missed this time around), exposition dumps handled via Ye Olde Spinning Newspaper Trick, lots of subplot handled through subtle looks and gestures from the actors (watch Ginny Weasley closely whenever Cho Chang is seen or mentioned... brilliant!). Definitely reduced fat filmmaking, mostly for the better (they could've added an extra line or two to explain a few things better, but it's a minor quibble). Even Harry's emo tendencies from the novel are toned down to nearly-tolerable levels here. No small feat.

And as always, wonderfully cast. Helena Bonham Carter is so perfect as Bellatrix Lestrange that I'm sort of convinced she wore her own clothes to the shoot.* The punk girl from About a Boy (whose name I can never remember) was great as Tonks, if severely underused, and the girl who played Luna (whose name I just don't know) was just pitch perfect. In the end, she may be my favorite character from the entire series, but I was afraid they'd write her far too broadly here, but script and actress combined perfectly here. She was just... someplace else... until she was needed, or it was time for pudding. All the rest of her quirks were either shown through gesture or costuming. And again, that's perfect. I wish more Hollywood movies would subscribe to the "show, don't tell" policy. I'm a smart audience member, thanks; I don't need to be spoonfed.

So anyway, I was afraid I wasn't going to like this, and I did a whole damn lot. When you only go to the movies once all summer, this is the sort of thing you hope you get to see.



*HBC: "What's my motivation?"
Director: "You haven't broken up an actor or director's prior marriage in months, and you're pissed."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pretty Sketchy - Zatanna by Jim Mahfood


The bass-ackwards talkin', be-fishnetted mage herself, Zatanna, as rendered excellently in marker by Jim Mahfood. I got this one at Wizard World Chicago in 2006.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

TPS Rocks: Video to Go*

The Blake Babies covering "Temptation Eyes"


(Ooh, Juliana Hatfield in a bikini. Homina.)

And here's a really awesome Cartoon Network-created video using Soul Coughing's "Circles" and Hanna-Barbera's knack for endlessly looping their backgrounds:


(Sorry, no bikinis here.)

And while not strictly a music video, it's close enough to count. It's The Aquabats... in COLOR!





* Remember Nick Rocks: Video to Go, the Nickelodeon music video show that almost entirely consisted of Fat Boys videos and "That Was Then, This Is Now" by the Monkees? There was a point in time where I think I enjoyed it more than actual MTV, if only because you never saw Nu Shooz on MTV, but this show played the hell out of 'em. Anyway, yeah, I've co-opted the title. Nostalgia makes you do things like that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Dig List... OF THE FUTURE!!! (or, doing the Previews thing)

Every month, I go through all the Diamond/Previews solicitations over at Discount Comic Book Service a few weeks before I submit my order and make a preliminary attempt at figuring out what I want to get for the month (In case you haven't figured it out already, I'm kind of a nerd.). It doesn't necessarily reflect everything I will buy - most months I don't even buy half the stuff I end up selecting on the first pass - but it's everything I find interesting enough to maybe check out somewhere down the road. So here's what I liked the sound of this month, in the hope that they'll all one day be Dig List contenders.

The Escapists hardcover - Glad to see this mini by Brian K. Vaughn and friends - the only Kavalier & Clay tie-in that has at all interested me - finally get collected. Loved the first issue, but wanted to wait for the eventual trade. And wait I did. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait some more. Even with the DCBS discount, hardcovers are a little out of my price range right now, so this'll either have to be a gift down the line, a library pick-up, or else wait longer still for the paperback.

All New Atom 15 - Sounds to have shaken free from the bonds of Countdown crossover. Oh, good.

Supergirl & the LSH 34 - Behind on my comics reading because of the move, so I still haven't read the first Bedard issue yet, but I'm willing to give him a few months to see if I like the book as well as I did under Waid.

Spirit 10 - Honestly, this is probably the one comic I'd keep buying monthly even if I stopped buying comics monthly, so this is a no-brainer.

All New Booster Gold 2 - The guest appearance of still-a-GL-then-Sinestro sounds interesting, but I'm waiting to see if I like the first issue to see if I buy this series in either single or collected form, if at all.

Blue Beetle 19 - Picked up #16 based on Bloggyverse word-of-type, loved it, and want to try more, but I don't know if I'm ready to commit yet. Need to test the waters a bit more, and it may end up being a trades-only read, anyway.

LSH in the 31st Century - The Johnny DC books are fun, and the whole "Teen Lantern" thing sounds like a fun hook for the issue. Probably worth a look.

Marvel Comics Presents 1 - Love the idea of a regular anthology, but it seems like they're focusing on characters that already have books of their own, which kinda defeats the purpose. Plus, the original turned quickly into a dumping ground for crap inventory stories, so I'm a little worried. Probably end up checking this one out on the rack.

Pictures of You - This is the prequel to Damon Hurd & Tatiana Gill's A Strange Day, which I liked a lot, but I'm a bit hesitant to revisit the characters. I don't know that I need to know what made them into the sort of people who'd skip school to buy a new Cure record; it was enough for me that they were. I've certainly known my share of similar folks. But Joanna got to read an early promo, and she liked it, and I agree with a lot of her reviews, so there's that. I wouldn't be surprised if this sneaks its way into my order, but I don't know yet, and I guarantee you that I'll be debating this in my head until the second I press the "Confirm Order" button.

Clockwork Girl - Here's the solicit:
A nameless robot girl has recently been given the gift of life from her creator. While exploring the wonders of an ordinary world, she meets an amazing mutant boy and they share a friendship that must overcome their warring families.
Interesting premise, great creative team (Sean O'Reilly, Kevin Hanna, Grant Bond), and dirt cheap... 54 cents through DCBS! I'm not made of stone here.

E-Man: Dolly - More E-Man from Staton and Cuti is always a good thing, so we should all buy this so that A.) we'll get more; and B.) maybe it'll convince Digital Webbing (or someone) to collect the older material from Charlton, First, and Alpha, which isn't especially pricey in back issue form, but not the sort of thing I see a lot in the wild. Also, Charlton comics look and feel gross to me.

Laika - Stories of early space flight interest me (note to self: still need to read First in Space), I know little about the Russian program in general and spacedog Laika specifically, and it's got that First Second pedigree (pun unintentional), so it'll be interesting even if I don't necessarily like it. I don't think I'm willing to commit sight unseen, though. Definitely will check it out on the shelf, though.

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales from the Farm - Offered again from Top Shelf because Vol. 2 is now available for pre-order. I've read and heard good things about this, so I may give it a shot. But everyone raved about Blankets and American Born Chinese, too, and while I found them interesting, they weren't anything I'd like to own. Anyone know if there are previews available online anywhere to check out?

Clumsy - Offered again by Top Shelf. I like diary comics a lot, Jeffrey Brown's in particular, and have yet to read this one, so it's very likely that I will be getting this. I enjoy introspective navelgazing about life, love, and other topics. That's why I blog.

Comic Foundry magazine - Glad to see the campaign to get it into Previews worked. But I didn't read the website very often, so I don't know if I'm interested in the magazine. But I may check it out. I dunno.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Movin' and Groovin' (with a hint of time travel)

Well, just groovin', actually. Because I'm always groovin'. That should be obvious. But the movin' part is actually done. Mostly. There's still a few minor odds and ends I have to grab from the old place, but on the whole, the new Trusty Plinko Stick World Headquarters is up and running. Or as up and running as you can be with a bunch of boxes and a few bits of half-assembled Ikea furnishings strewn about, anyway. There's still a lot to be done, but it's undeniably awesome to be in our very own place at last.

Now if only we had hot water. See, our water is heated by natural gas. As is our stove. and our dryer. And while we thought this was the sort of thing we'd be taxed on as per our use, like water, it wasn't. Even though the gas company is owned by the electric company, who knew that not only were we moving in, but that we'd arranged to make sure that the electricity didn't get turned off and that there'd be no gap in service. So they shut us off. And informed us last Thursday that the earliest they could come was this Wednesday. But they couldn't confirm that. So we can't cook, shower, or dry anything. We have cable, though. The cable company not only made sure to give us a specific time, they actually showed up early. And by early, I mean on time. Which is early for cable, so, you know, good for them. So despite some minor setbacks, we're happy and comfortable. And we finally got to watch Doctor Who, which unlike most of the rest of the intermanet, it seems, we don't download immediately after it runs on the Beeb.

Short thoughts on the beginning of season 3? So far, so good. Erin and I actually found The Runaway Bride to be laugh out loud funny in a few spots, and we both really enjoyed Catherine Tate's character (again, unlike most of the rest of the intermanet, or at least the forum trolls, anyway), and I was happy to hear she's coming back all regular-like in season 4 (the TARDIS could use a cute redhead running around, I say, especially since the last one was - ugh - Mel, who was not so much cute as she was The Living Embodiment of Shrill.). Smith and Jones was a bit slow to start, but that was always the case for the introductory episodes for new Doctors in the past, so why shouldn't it be the same for the introductory episodes of the more Companion-focused new series? I don't find Martha Jones's family to be nearly as interesting as Jackie or Mickey, but Doctor-in-training Jones herself seems like a lot of fun. And Erin - who really began to loathe Rose over time - said she seems like she'll be interesting, too. And, I must admit, I'm crushing hugely on Freema Agyeman at the moment, so my initial opinions may be biased. Anyhow, I'm excited for the season to come... now if I can only force myself to forget the finale spoilers I've accidentally stumbled across these past few weeks.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Can't Type. Moving.

The heavy-lifting begins Friday morning. Back in a few days. Hopefully without back injury.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

This is the patriotic part.

Kid-in-the-Helmet Captain America,



My-Mask-Has-Rubber-Ears Captain America,

and the rest of the staff at Trusty Plinko Stick World Headquarters would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Independence Day.

And if you don't happen to live in the U.S., feel free to pretend you're an American by getting drunk, fearing all that which is different from you, and blowing some fingers off with illegal fireworks.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The battle of the century decade moment.






VS.




It's inevitable that the world's two most evil little creatures will eventually clash, leaving nations in ruin and mountains of innocent corpses in their wake as they struggle to achieve their goals, the least of which is mere total omniversal conquest. But in the Ultimate Battle of Evil Versus... Um, More Evil, who could truly come away as the victor: Mr. Mind or The Evil Prairie Dog?

Let's weigh the pros and cons.


Mr. Mind - Pros:
The glasses and neck-radio look cool. He has literally thousands of minions at his disposal via the Monster Society of Evil. For that matter, his minions are called the flippin' Monster Society of Evil. That's just awesome. Adept at building giant killer robots despite the lack of opposable thumbs. Or arms. Even if you catch him, you can't send him to the electric chair, because it'll just put him to sleep for awhile. And he racked up a body count of 186,744 victims... all off-panel, because that's just how classy he is.

Cons:
Poor vision, hence the glasses, and his small voice is hard to hear, hence the radio. And that lack of arms thing is huge drawback. Also, as a worm, he's highly squishable.

The Evil Prairie Dog - Pros: Well, he's got that awesome theme music, doesn't he?


Plus, he's infinitely customizable. Here's just one example:


There's an awesome David Caruso/CSI: Miami one out there worth checking out, too.

Plus, look at those eyes. He's evil incarnate.


Cons:
Internet flavors of the week all end up on the dole before long, and it's just a matter of time before they're doing unspeakable things for drug money. I saw what "All Your Base" has been up to on some HBO Undercover documentary the other day, and it wasn't pretty.

So Mr. Mind has got the tools, the talent, and the experience, but you can never underestimate the power of a good music stinger, so the Evil Prairie Dog is easily a match. Whoever wins, we lose... just like Aliens Vs. Predator. But watchable.

And Dr. Doom has already called winner.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Our House in the Middle of Our Street.

Alright, so it's actually more toward the end of the street, but who's counting? Besides, the only other house song I could think of was that Crosby, Stills, and Nash song, but A.) we don't have two cats in the yard, and B.) I prefer Madness to CS&N by a factor of about a billion.

Anyway, this weekend, we finalized everything, signed the appropriate paperwork, and we are now officially in soul-crushing debt thanks to this place:


But at least its cute debt with a fence, a manageable yard, and room in the back for a swingset. And on initial contact, the neighborhood dogs seem about a third less feral than the ones we live near now, so I consider that a definite plus. And it came pre-equipped with a Liam cupboard.

Which is handy, since we already have a Liam to store in it.

Now all we have to do is, ugh, move in. It's sad when signing away your entire life is actually the easy part.

The Dig List: 7/1/07

Some short comics thoughts:

Batgirl: Year One TPB - I'm pretty sure I typed about this way back when I got it from the library a year or so ago, but damned if I can find the post now. Oh well, anyway, I liked it a lot, and I found a copy for cheap on eBay. It came, and pretty much went right into a moving box to re-read at some point after we're in to the new house, but I did thumb through it quickly, and that reminded me how good I thought it was. The story is a lot of fun. Which reminds me - tangent begins here - have there ever been any good Batgirl stories that weren't retcons? If she had been this awesome before Killing Joke, I don't think they'd have punked her the way they did. But then we wouldn't get Oracle or Birds of Prey, so maybe everything happened the way it should have, I dunno. Anyway, this story of Batgirl's origins keeps all the stuff that works and updates what needs updating, so that works out nice. And the artwork by Marcos Martin is beautiful. As I've stated time and again, I have a real weakness for cute Batgirls, and Martin definitely provides that, while at the same time showcasing her asskickery. Yvonne Craig would be proud.

Yvonne and her frilly bike: Proud.

X-Men First Class: The Target Collection That I Can't Remember the Title Of Right Now - Despite not remembering the title of this, I thought it was pretty good. For one thing, it's the first 4 issues of the mini-series for $4.99, and that's pretty awesome. Thanks Target! It helps that the book was pretty fun. Light and airy, but it's clear that Jeff Parker has a good feel for the characterizations of Prof. X's original 5, without any of the excessive lameness that got the book more or less shelved back in the day. Plus, for all you continuity wanks out there, he actually drops in the occasional line about how and why the uniforms are different. Not that it should matter, but hardcore X-Men fans are a cowardly, superstitious lot, and they need that sort of silly handholding. Don't worry about whether or not it's canon - or even part of your own personal canon (my personal canon, for the record, actually includes the Colleen Coover stories from the First Class special a few months back... even the bunny one) - and just enjoy it. Think of it as Marvel Adventures X-Men if you like.

Blue Beetle 16 - Don't usually read this book, but I thought I'd check out this issue thanks to al the positive word of mouth, and I liked it quite a bit. Wasn't a big Jaime fan in the beginning, but between this and his Brave and the Bold appearance, I'm warming up. And Traci 13 seems like a really fun character, so I'm increasingly glad I ordered the Dr. Thirteen trade through DCBS last month. Her references to the Dibnys and her handling of Jeanclipso only won me over more (because as I've said before, wow did I hate Identity Crisis). I think I need to give this book another shot, especially if Traci becomes a regular.