Five By Five At Five

Five lists of five on the fifth blogday. Because.

Five Favorite Posts:
  1. A True Tale of Childhood Woe
  2. Shazam!
  3. Tell Me Something I Really Wanna Know. Take Me Somewhere I Really Wanna Go. (and its accompaniment, My Essential Juliana Hatfield Discography, which still gets a surprising amount of hits.)
  4. The "Getting Hooked" series (Okay, that's a cheat, but when your blog turns 5, you can cheat, too. I'll let ya.)
  5. My Very Patient Wife Reviews Watchmen

Five Favorite Shoddily Crafted MS Paint Images

Five Character Crossovers I'd Like to See:

  1. Batman and the Fantastic Four, esp. if Batman needs to go into his Morrisonian "sci-fi closet" to keep up with Reed. And Batman vs. Doom would be the best fight ever.
  2. Herbie Popnecker and Wolverine. Actually, this would be the best fight ever.
  3. Little Lulu and Tubby meet Nancy and Sluggo. I'm sure Mike Sterling would buy it, too, so that's 2 copies sold right there. Get on it, Dark Horse!
  4. G.I. Joe and the Village People. Cobra would get so confused.
  5. The Sentry, Gambit, and Red Tornado vs. something truly and horribly fatal.

Five Movies That People Need to Reconsider:
  1. Zero Effect - not only do you get some great performances from Bill Pullman and Ben Stiller, but it's also the greatest Sherlock Holmes movie yet made.
  2. Popeye - Condemned by many Altman's greatest misfire, I think it's actually quite good. I think people expected it to be closer to the cartoons, but it's ultimately the Thimble Theatre movie. Far more Segar than Fleischer here.
  3. Fantastic Four - Not a perfect movie by any means, nor a perfect adaptation of the source material, but not as bad as everyone says, either. They nailed the Ben & Johnny dynamic, the effects were decent, and you've got Stan Lee as Willie Lumpkin (now if only he had wiggled his ears).
  4. The Phantom Menace - Look people, this wasn't even the worst movie of the prequel trilogy. Make a like a Jedi and let go of your hatred. Or at least redirect it toward the last Indiana Jones movie. Now that was a scorn-worthy piece of film making.
  5. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow - Again, not as bad as people want to say it is. It looks snazzy, has a fun, Saturday matinee feel, it's the closest we'll ever get to a Blackhawk flick, and I'm convinced that a Superman movie shot in this style and period would be the greatest thing ever.

Five Words That Someone Should Appropriate for the Purposes of Sexual Euphemism (and May Already Have for All I Know):
  1. Twitter
  2. Pickle
  3. Phlebotomy
  4. Deuteronomy
  5. Fractal

Gimme Five - A Bloggyversary

Trusty Plinko Stick turns 5 today. Huh.

I don't really know what my expectations were when I started this blog. I don't even know if I had any beyond just giving myself a forum to share some thoughts about comic book nonsense and force myself to write on a semi-regular basis. If I picked up any readers, that'd be gravy.

I've never attracted a particularly huge readership, and except for a couple of When Fangirls Attack links and a blind link from Rich Johnston this one time, the numbers on my best days don't even match what a few other comics bloggers out there complain are their worst. I'm generally okay with that. I mean, yeah, being seen by more people is always nice, as are the sorts of opportunities that could maybe lead to (though it's not like I've actively pursued any additional opportunities, either), but then I'll read Sims' or Church's comments and think that maybe obscurity isn't all that bad.

I do appreciate those of you that do stop by, though, even on the most occasional basis. It's reassuring to know that I'm not completely typing away into nothingness. And this has led to a number of great conversations with people I now consider, if not actual friends, then genial internet acquaintance pals, the sort of people who might say "Wait, who...? Oh, yeah, right, you're that guy." were I to meet them in real life. And yeah, that's pretty nice. I'll take it.

So even five years in, I still don't know if I have any grand plan for this, no idea of what I'm trying to achieve beyond just writing. Nor do I know how long I plan to continue. I'll keep it going for the foreseeable future, though. I definitely owe that to someone, even if that someone is just myself. But if you happen to be along for the ride, I sincerely thank you.

You Need to Read This: In Event of Moon Disaster

Gawker has posted a speech that William Safire wrote for President Nixon to give had Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin died on the moon.

It's a fascinating look at what could have been, as well as a rare insight into White House operations when faced with certain history, good and bad.

That colorful wall.

This was my very first comic book store, Fairmount Market.

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Amidst the sundries and the beer & soda coolers and a deli counter in that back that made (and still makes to this day) some great sandwiches (best sub rolls in the city), they had one tiny rack of comics near the register. Not even a spinner, just one that hung on the wall and displayed maybe a dozen or fewer different books. And there was never any consistency to what they'd get. Sometimes you'd see Superman or Batman or G.I. Joe or whatever, and then months would pass before you'd ever see an issue of those books again, their spots being filled in the meantime by Richie Rich or The Fury of Firestorm.

Not that that mattered in the slightest. I was just happy to get the chance to get a comic book... who cared what it was? Marvel's Greatest Comics was as good as Archie's Pals & Gals or Super Friends. Not that I didn't have my preferences. I'd have to get Adventure Comics if they had it... Aquaman, Plastic Man, and Starman in the same book? Definitely. Always had to grab Captain Carrot if they had it, too, ahead of even Superman or Batman.

A few years later, I'd discover the comparably enormous selection at the local Mr. Paperback location, which seemed to get everything - or at least everything I had ever heard of at age 8 or 9, anyway - on a monthly basis, and that's when the collector bug really bit me. And a few years past that, Bangor finally got it's first dedicated comic book store, Wizard of Comics, at which point I was a goner.

But I miss the simplicity of that lone rack at Fairmount Market, and the days when genre and even title didn't matter. It was all just comics.

Pretty Sketchy: Junior!

Absolutely sweet sketch card of Freddy Freeman, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, Jr., a.k.a. the poor shmoe who can never introduce himself to anyone without turning back into his secret identity, commissioned in person from Josh Alves (creator of Araknid Kid and, oddly enough, a former co-worker of my dad) at BangPop! 2009.

I wish my scanner didn't suck, because the colors on this pop in real life.

Life's like a movie.

Jim Henson would have been 73 yesterday. You'll always be missed, Jim!

The List: 9/24/09

Briefish, potentially a little spoilery reactions to recently read comics. Go!

Fantastic Four #570 - A lot of people are getting too hung up on Dale Eaglesham's depiction of Reed Richards as a beefier action scientist Doc Savage/Tom Strong type and are missing the Big Point, and that is that Jonathan Hickman wrote the first chapter of what is starting off as an interesting story... an oddly mundane plan from the Wizard, the purposely unspoken fate of one of cloned offspring, the off-the-charts intelligence of young Valeria Richards, and a council of interdimensional Reed counterparts (at least three of whom take accessorizing very seriously). It's the forest, people, not the bulkier trees! This seems like it's gonna be good.

Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #14 - I was drawn to this by the sheer novelty of reading a Hawkeye story that was actually about Hawkeye (instead of Hawkeye-as-Ronin or girl Hawkeye from Young Avengers), and was utterly charmed by Paul Tobin's story about two heroes on their off-hours who still manage to get drawn into stopping crime (just don't think too hard about how or why Hawkeye and, wait for it... the Blonde Phantom, are hanging out). It's an enjoyable read, with lots of great character moments and a very clever robbery plot involving another well-known Marvel character. Always nice to see that the Marvel Adventures line is still quietly producing some of the company's best comic books.

Batman: Year One - Look, everything that can be said about this book has been said a million times over in the 22 or so years since its initial release. But after re-reading it last week, I was impressed by how well it still holds up. Once you get past the too-clipped dialogue and Miller's tendency to make every important, strong female character a prostitute, your left with what is certainly his best Batman work (I've never been the biggest Dark Knight Returns fan, I have to admit), maybe even his best writing work ever. And while I may enjoy the "everything and the kitchen sink" origin as told in, say, Wein, Byrne, and Aparo's The Untold Legend of the Batman mini-series, this is the pretty much the definitive core of the character. And Mazzuchelli's art is just gorgeous. I desperately wish he had drawn a hell of a lot more Batman stories.

The Untold Legend of the Batman - Yeah, I re-read this recently, too, and in the clipped, b&w, little mass-market paperback-sized edition I had as a kid, no less. It's certainly thorough, managing to incorporate every bit of Golden and Silver Age backstory that most people ignored or forgot until Morrison came along. Thomas Wayne as the original Bat-Man, Bruce as the original Robin, Joe Chill's mom as Bruce's foster mother, Alfred as O.S.S. operative... they didn't leave out much. As goofy and expansive as Year One is serious and succinct, but no less enjoyable an experience. Truth be told, I probably like it better.

Mr. Jigsaw #1 - Bought this, reprinting the first few original appearances of "Maine's only resident superhero," from writer Ron Fortier at BangPop! last weekend, and I'm glad I did. Fun and clever stories about a novice superhero with a funky power (he can split his body up into individually controllable pieces, sort of like the M.F. Enterprises Captain Marvel) who wisely decides he's too green to make it in the big city yet, so he decides to stick closer to home. An interesting supporting cast and the clean, simple art of Gary Kato round out the enjoyable package. This is very reminiscent of Joe Staton & Nicola Cuti's E-Man in the best of ways. This and the rest of the series thus far are available through Indy Planet, and I'll definitely be picking up the other issues soon.

¡Viva El Santo!

The Beat reminds us that El Santo, the most famous luchador enmascarado of all and the cinematic foe of any number of other-worldly creatures, would have been 92 today.

If you've never seen any of El Enmascarado Plata's many, many films, you owe it to yourself to check them out. I recommend Santo Vs. the Martian Invasion, but you can't go wrong with any of 'em. And take a little time to read up on the man himself while you're at it.

Wieringo Wednesday: We've Got Trouble!

Tellos #3, cover date July 1999, page 19

(Click to Biggie Size it, of course.)

A giant water-elemental hydra. Yeah, that's just a pants-soilingly rotten thing to happen on a horsey ride.

And Tellos, by the way, was one of the best fantasy comics to come down the pike in a long time. Go check it out if you haven't already.

Flannel & Four-Color - a quick BangPop! wrap-up

So besides the fact that I came away with a monster cold, I'd have to say that BangPop! was a successful show, and more to the point, a fun one.

(And if I'm being honest, I suspect I actually got the cold from my parents, but given the sheer amount of Con Crud that gets passed along at each and every show - remember, PAX was apparently giving out free samples of H1N1 to attendees this year - it's not beyond the realm of possibility).

I think its greatest strength was in the creator-to-dealer ratio. There were a handful of dealer booths, but an artist alley of a dozen or so creators, and then tables for the special guests besides. This is very unusual for a show in Maine, small or large, and provided a unique experience for the attendees who don't or can't go to larger shows. You can buy comics and books and tchotchkes just about anywhere. Getting decent face-to-face time at most shows in Maine, which are historically dealer-heavy and have few, if any, creators in attendance, is a rare and wonderful thing, and I hope people took advantage of it.

I certainly did. I had a nice conversation with Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman almost as soon as I got there (they had a primo door spot) and walked away with a nice, fat stack of mini-comics from them (I am honestly very excited about finally getting my hands on some Teen Boat issues). I talked with Josh Alves for a while, because as luck would have it he used to work with my dad, and picked up his book, The Araknid Kid (which originally appeared as a Zuda entry), and a fantastic sketch card of Captain Marvel, Jr. that I'm sure will be a Pretty Sketchy entry ASAP. And I spoke for a long time with Ron Fortier about meeting him at a show WAY back around 1990, his Green Hornet and Popeye work, Stephen King, the return of his Mr. Jigsaw character, and the possibility of his trying to get it listed as part of DCBS' First Light program in order to get it into the hands of more readers.

And, yes, I bought my share of comics and books and tchotchkes, too. That many fifty cent bins, you're gonna find something worthwhile.

And all that was just in the few short hours I had. I wish I could have hung around to see some of the cosplay (though I sincerely wish I could've seen a lot less of the fat angel dude. *shudder*) or the screenings, or taken the kiddo to Kids Day, but Maine trips are usually jam-packed with activities, so I was happy to squeeze in as much as I could. And even as short a time as I was there, it was time well spent. Kudos to all involved. Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this event.

Check out the local newspaper write-up here for more info and some pictures of some surprisingly awesome Transformers costumes and an old friend of mine dressed up as the show's mascot, Lumber Jill.

Lazy Sick Day Out-of-Context Kirby Panel Blogging

Managed to bring a cold home from Maine, along with all the other stuff we picked up there, so this is all you're getting today. Enjoy.

A good weekend for comics.

So if you're within travel distance of Bangor, Maine, you should consider checking out BangPop! this weekend.

Or if you're within travel distance of Chicago, you should consider going to the Windy City Comic Con.

And if you're not, well, jeez... shitty weekend, man. Consider moving. Or cashing in those frequent flier miles. Chicago's a great city, and Maine is lovely this time of year, especially since a lot of the tourists have gone home.

Think about it, won't you?

The Greatest Comic Book Cover Ever At Least For Right Now: Captain Marvel, Jr. #10

Captain Marvel, Jr. #10, illustrated by Mac Raboy, cover date August 1, 1943

I'm guessing they just got home from the late showing of Inglourious Basterds?

(I'm sure there's a Goofus & Gallant joke to be made here, too, come to think of it.)

Pretty Sketchy: Cosmic Boy

Legion of Super-Heroes co-founder Cosmic Boy, as illustrated for me by Bobgar Ornelas, whom I know from the 11 O'Clock Comics podcast forums. You can check out his currently-under-reconstruction website here.

How's Who #3: Battlefield

TARDIS Crew: Seventh Doctor (he of the perpetually trilling R's, Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred).

The Plot: A distress signal brings the Doctor and Ace to Lake Vortigern in England, where he encounters a UNIT nuclear missile convoy and a whole slew of extradimensional knights who insist that he's Merlin. He isn't - yet - but that doesn't mean that they want to kill him any less. And since UNIT is involved, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) all but leaps out of retirement to team up with the Doctor one last time, and if he's not careful, it really will be the last time, since the knights' queen, Morgaine (Jean Marsh) - as in the sister of King Arthur - wants to defeat Merlin and her brother (who might just be resurrected) at any cost, whether it involves using her minions, a monster called the Destroyer, or that big nuclear missile currently parked by the lake.

The Thoughts: This serial has its problems - most of them budgetary, with a few random go-nowhere plot elements dropped in here and there - but it's very easy to overlook them because overall, this is a very fun story. For one thing, I'm pretty sure this is the first time in the history of the series that the Doctor has to deal with the fall-out from an adventure he hasn't even had yet (first time in an official TV adventure, anyway). For a show about travel through time and space, I'm surprised it took them 26 seasons to get around to that idea.

Also, it's Doctor Who mixed with Arthurian stuff. Sci-fi Arthurian stuff where someone is as likely to pull out a laser pistol as a sword, but still, that's just cool. I'm not made of stone here.

And it doesn't hurt that it's basically Old Home Week for the show. You've got UNIT, Bessie the car, references to any number of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker characters and monsters (the Doctor to Ace, when asking her to pose as Liz Shaw: "Think like a physicist."), and of course, the returns of both Courtney and Marsh, notable not only because they've both appeared on the program in the past, but because they played brother and sister Bret Vyon and Sara Kingdom WAAAAAY back in the William Hartnell story "The Daleks' Master Plan," so it's a reunion within a reunion. Neat trick, that.

To say Nicholas Courtney is great as the Brig is as much a foregone conclusion as to say that grass is that stuff that grows out of the ground that I need to mow sporadically. But there's an extra layer to his performance here as the old soldier going back into battle to help his friend not because he's bored and desperate for action (he seems to quite enjoy retirement on his palatial spread), but because that's what an honorable soldier does (that's not to say he doesn't like being back in the thick of things, however).

The idea of martial honor plays a big part in Jean Marsh's Morgaine, too. She loves her some warfare, but she insists things are done properly. When she discovers her son has desecrated a military cemetery, she halts her plans in order to hold a ceremony honoring the soldiers buried there, and invites the Brigadier to join her, no less. They're enemies, sure, and pretty much pledge to kill each other when they next meet, but there's a mutual respect that can't be denied. Morgaine definitely sees a kindred spirit in the Brig, because he plays by the rules as she sees them, whereas she'd like to squash the Doctor like a bug because he keeps trying to change the game (even if, as she claims, she's actually better at the game than him). Morgaine would have been such an easy role to chew scenery with, but Marsh plays it quieter and more restrained, and is all the more sinister as a result. Script and actor combine to make a hell of a villain, which is all the more impressive in a series that's not known for subtlety.

Overall: If you can get past the McCoy-era budget (you'd think UNIT could afford a better helicopter, huh?), a few plot points dropped as quickly as they're introduced (why does everyone lose interest in Excalibur's scabbard?), and some cheesy performances (esp. UNIT's new Brigadier, Winifred Bambera, as played by the woman who was the alternate universe female Dave Lister on that one Red Dwarf episode), you'll probably enjoy this a lot, especially if you're a fan of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker stories. And McCoy has a few funny moments, nor is he as prone to random shouting as he'll get at the end of the season yet, so that's nice.

A quick word about Ace: Ace is super-protective of the Doctor in this story, to the point that she resents his relationship with the Brigadier and seemingly the very idea that there were companions before her. It's less annoying on Ace than it ever was on Rose, though. For one thing, Ace is looking after someone who is not merely a mentor or father figure to her, but the one authority figure in her life who ever made her feel worthwhile, so her "guard dog" attitude is really sweet. Whereas Rose was just plain jealousy personified, because OMG she luvs the Doctor and he's totally gonna be her Edward Cullen and they're gonna go and make sparkly babies or some shit.

Also, it doesn't hurt that Sophie Aldred is cute as hell.

So may I introduce to you, the act you've known for all these years.

I can give or take Rock Band (and Guitar Hero, for that matter). The games are certainly fun enough for a while, but as I'm generally lacking in rhythm, timing, and dexterity, anything above "Medium" level is an exercise in frustration and futility (and if I'm being honest, I can only hit Medium with any consistency on my very best days). Not to mention I hate to suffer though songs I only kind of like to get to the music that's actually fun to pretend to play.

We had a chance to play The Beatles: Rock Band with friends on Saturday night, though, and that was a whole 'nother ballgame. Don't get me wrong, the game play is still the same. I'm all thumbs on the guitar parts above a certain point, and I am absolutely hopeless on the drums (even without the foot pedal, which to use properly requires ankle muscles I was heretofore unaware of). And yet, it's still fun, and 100% of that is due to the music. Like most of humanity, I've been singing along - and often playing along in the air - with the Beatles all my life, so the idea of not even just pretending to play along with them in The Cavern Club, at Shea Stadium, on the Apple Corps. roof, etc., but actually being them, that's a powerful experience right there.

And it doesn't hurt that the game both sounds and looks amazing, either. The money put into remastering the tracks and creating top notch animation for the cinematics was well-spent. Take a look for yourself if you haven't already.

We played through the majority of the game in one night, and I still can't wait to play again. Yeah, I'm gonna need this at some point.

Timeliest Factory Error EVER.

I swear to God it was this way in the store.

Wieringo Wednesday: Fall

According to the calendar, Fall doesn't begin for another 2 weeks. But school's back in session, the temperature is falling to more pleasant, sweatshirty levels, and my allergies have come back with a vengeance. So maybe the leaves are still kind of greenish, but everything else says Fall to me, and I say bring it on (no, not like that), because this is my favorite time of year. And from this piece - one of my favorites, I'd add - I'm guessing 'Ringo dug it, too.

(Incidentally, Wieringo Wednesdays will likely become a bi-weekly feature from now on, since I'm not a consistent daily blogger and there are plenty of weeks that would consist solely of WW posts. But it'll definitely remain a regular feature for the foreseeable future.)

When there's trouble, I'd still like to call DW if I could, please.

The latest Comic Critics strip has about the most rational (and hilariously frank in regards to the initial fan reactions) take on the Marvel/Disney thing I've seen yet. And we get this little nugget of truth besides:

Yes. Definitely. I would be all over that like a fat kid on an ice cream cake. At the very least we maybe get a Darkwing book from BOOM! Studios? Hello? Mr. Waid? Is this internet on?

The List: 9/8/09, or "School's In From the Summer" Edition

As always, brief-ish reactions to recently read - though not always recently produced - comics.

Wednesday Comics #s 5 - 8 - DC's great weekly "Sunday Funnies But Not Very Funny and on a Wednesday" experiment continues apace, and it's pretty much the same as the first month, with the exceptions being that something FINALLY happened in the Superman and Sgt. Rock strips, and the art in Wonder Woman is getting less condensed, making it easier to appreciate (even if I still don't like the story itself). The Supergirl strip is becoming one of my favorites... it's nice to see someone actually try humor in this, and the Aquaman appearance had me laughing out loud. Still more hits than misses, and for the second month in a row, the first things out of the DCBS box that got read. I imagine this final month will be same story.

Agents of Atlas: Dark Reign HC - I thoroughly enjoyed this, and am already eagerly awaiting the next volume, but I always felt like I wasn't liking it quite as much as I should. I eventually realized that was because I enjoyed the original mini-series so much that there was no way the ongoing could have lived up to it, It's an unfair comparison, but one any creator will encounter when they hit the ball out of the park the first time around. And make no mistake, Jeff Parker absolutely crushed it on the mini-series. But still, quite good, and even if you're not following the rest of the Dark Reign fooferaw, this is easy enough to follow even as tightly tied in as it is. I'd like to see this book without all those tie-ins, sort of as a Planetary for the Marvel Universe, but if it's tie-ins that keep this book going, bring 'em on, because there's a lot here to like. I'd hate to see people miss out on stuff like Venus' kicky 50s look in the flashbacks or the realization that reminds everyone that Spider-Man's a really smart guy when he's not selling relationships to the devil.

Ace-Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms - Superhero hijinks mixed with everyday life sort of problems, all served up by Mike Dawson of "Freddie and Me" fame. I don't think they're mixed very well, though, because what you're essentially getting is three different books. Ace-Face himself is a fun concept (mod Brit superhero born without arms, so he gets fitted for GIANT bionic arms as a baby that he slowly grows into), but seeing him shlub through life gets kind of depressing, and his son's story, which mostly involves dealing with neighbors who noisily drink on the stoop outside at all hours of the night, is fairly generic indie slice-of-life you've seen before. The third (and even more disconnected) storythread involves two kid brothers who use their superpowers - one is telekinetic, the other can teleport - to torture the living hell out of each other. These two, too-brief segments were hilarious, and accurate in that this is EXACTLY what brothers with powers would do to each other all day, and I think Dawson made a huge miscalculation when deciding who was capable of headlining the book.

Lazy Labor Day YouTube Blogging: The Song Stylings of Phineas and Ferb

Here's Phineas and Ferb (from the cartoon of the same name) with their carefully calculated One Hit Wonder, Gitchy Gitchy Goo, which just might be the catchiest song ever.

And as a bonus, here's their sister Candace and some local park rappers with Squirrels in my Pants:


If you're anywhere near the Bangor area the weekend of September 19th & 20th, you should definitely check out BangPop! 2009, the biggest comics and pop culture event to hit the area in quite some time. Guests announced so far include Raina Telgemeier & Dave Roman, Jay Piscopo, and World Fantasy Award nominee Catherynne Valente, with more to come, and programming includes panel discussions, educator workshops, anime and film screenings, gaming, cosplay... the whole nine yards. And Sunday is Kids' Day. Visit the official site for more information.

I know the people running the show, and they're good folks who are knocking themselves out to make this as great an event as possible. But even if I didn't know them, I'd still make the effort to go because last year's inaugural con is said to have been a blast, and it's been far too long since there's been anything this geeky cool in my old hometown. So check it out, troops!

So this one time an incognito Shazam had Mr. Mind in his ear and Captain Marvel could only get him out with the power of ROCK!

From The Power of Shazam! #18, cover date July 1996, written by Jerry Ordway, pencils by Mike Manley.

And oh yeah, Captain Marvel was wearing a space suit at the time. Because he just got back from Venus, where he was forced to team up with Dr. Sivana (whose own space suit looked like the Mark I Iron Man armor) to stop an invasion of Earth from Mr. Mind's entire species.

I fucking love comics, you guys.

(Incidentally, if anyone out there knows where this original page is, I'd love to own it for real. The reasons should be obvious.)

Pretty Sketchy: Cheese and crackers, it's Patsy Walker... Hellcat!

I talked recently about how much I enjoyed the Kathryn Immonen/David Lafuente/Stuart Immonen Hellcat trade paperback, and the character has been on my mind ever since, so I got this great sketch from an artist named Vincent Kukua, a guy I know from over on the 11 O'Clock Comics podcast forum. He also did a couple of equally fantastic Robin sketches for my son that'll make for future Pretty Sketchy posts. You can check out more of his artwork over on

Wieringo Wednesday: "Did he just say 'chicken cow'...?"

So Spider-Man's in the Savage Land, teaming up with Ka-Zar and Shanna as you do, and as if dinosaurs, Roxxon oil goons, rogue SHIELD types, and Stegron the Dinosaur man weren't enough to deal with, they're also in danger of running afoul (afowl?) of Chtylok, the Che-K'n Kau.

Sensational Spider-man #14, cover date March 1997

Click to biggie-size it, 'natch.

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Four Color Publishing Glut

Apparently Sherlock Holmes is the new zombies. Or monkeys, pirates, ninjas, or whatever other flavor of the month comic book trend to come down the pike in the last 10 years. In the current (September) issue of Previews, there are Holmes-related projects solicited from four different publishers.

Must be nice for publishers when someone makes a movie about a public domain character, huh? Nothing like a bandwagon that doesn't require much in the way of licensing fees.

For the traditionalists, there's IDW's Sherlock Holmes hardcover Vol 1., which adapts stories like A Study in Scarlet and The Adventure of the Speckled Band, to name but two, with art by Kelley Jones and an Ashley Wood cover:

so you know that'll look nice.

If you want some horror with your Holmes, there's Moonstone Books' reissue of The Sherlock Holmes Mysteries Vol. 1:

which reprints stories where Holmes fights Dracula and the Invisible Man. Moonstone books rarely catch my eye, but this actually sounds pretty cool. Anybody out there who has read this care to share their thoughts?

DC/Wildstorm also take the horror mash-up route - while still refusing to let a recent trend... um, well, die - with Victorian Undead:

Stay classy, Wildstorm!

And then there's Antarctic Press' entry into the derby, Sherlock Ninja.

Let me say that again.



This will either be awesome or terrible. Possibly both at the same time. Am I getting this? You better believe it.

(And, if I'm being honest, I'll probably cave and get the zombie thing, too.)

And these are only the books set to be released in November. You have to figure there will be even more product as we get closer to the movie's Christmas release date. There will probably be collections of the Dynamite Entertainment mini-series by Leah Moore and John Reppion, Moonstone's Sherlock Holmes/Kolchak the Night Stalker, and I'd be shocked if there wasn't some official tie-in to the movie from someone. And I remember seeing the Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard Hound of the Baskervilles adaptation resolicited by Sterling Publishing in last month's Previews.

I'm not complaining, mind you. As a person who enjoys both comic books and Sherlock Holmes stories, I'm pretty excited. But trying to find room for this stuff in my budget? That's a three pipe problem in the making.

The List: The "Jeez, is it really September 1st already?" edition

Brief reactions to recently read (if not always recently produced) comics. Might be a little spoilery, so read with caution.

Batman & Robin #3 - I'll admit that I was getting a little tired of Dr. Pyg's eccentricities by the end, but Damian came to my metatextual rescue with the best reaction possible. I keep saying I'm going to wait for the trade on this, but watching Dick and Damian grow into their respective title roles has been a fun ride, so curiosity keeps me coming back. I don't think that's a bad thing. It'll be interesting to see if a non-Quitely issue still has that same draw, though.

Doctor Who: Cold-Blooded War! - I passed on pre-ordering this, but thumbing through and seeing all the callbacks to old school Who (Draconians, Ice Warriors, and Alpha Centauri!) and the Adipose journalist on the first page... I'm not made of stone here, people. The metaphor at play here - Draconian society since we last saw it has basically become like the Taliban - is handled in an incredibly straight-forward manner, but 22 pages don't leave much time or space for subtlety (oh, the irony there). Not as plot-hammered as it could have been, though, which I'm going to chalk up to Richard Starkings fleshing out Gary Russell's story. Definitely makes me want to finally read Starkings' Elephantmen. The art by Adrian Salmon is great, too, capturing the basic looks of the characters without being over-referenced. In the end, it reads like an abbreviated episode of the show, which is all-too-rare with Doctor Who comics, so that's definitely a win.

Uncanny X-Men First Class: Giant-Size #1 - I didn't read the original X-Men: First Class as often as I probably should have, but I always enjoyed it when I did, so I gave this a shot, and I'm mostly glad I did. It's a mixed bag, to be certain - with so many creators, there's no feeling of a unified voice here - but it succeeds more often than not. The idea of Cyclops getting to know his new, post-Giant-Size X-Men #1 teammates through their own narratives could have been cheesy in the wrong hands, but it plays out well, especially Wolverine's supposed origin story. Let's see some more Agent of S.N.I.K.T. stories, people!

Red Herring #1 - Admittedly this is just the first part of the mini-series, so it's not supposed to make a lot of sense yet, but I wasn't immediately drawn in by this tale of political intrigue and people with weird names (Red Herring! Maggie MacGuffin! Meyer Weiner!). However, it is drawn by Phillip Bond, whose artwork I always enjoy (he draws cute wimmins), which is why I can never bring myself to part with that weird Howard Chaykin-penned Angel & the Ape mini from Vertigo. So I'm curious to see how it all works out if only to keep seeing Bond's artwork. I guess that means Wildstorm wins?

Essential X-Men Vol. 6 - This covers the era right just before and after Uncanny #200, so you get the Asgardian war, the trial of Magneto, and entire Mutant Massacre, and at this point, X-Men is still the best soap opera ever committed to paper. But if there's a flaw here, it's in getting all the attendant crossover bits from the Massacre story. When you're so thoroughly entrenched in Claremont's writing - thick and dense as the finest molasses - it's jarring to transition to Louise Simonson on X-Factor, and then to her far lighter touch on Power Pack. And to then go completely off into left field on her husband Walt's Thor... it's a schizophrenic reading experience to say the least. And while it's good to get the whole story, you spend so much time reading about X-Factor, the Power kids, and Thor that the X-Men take the back seat in a surprisingly large chunk of their own book. Still, it's the sort of thing I better get used to if I plan on reading further in the series, as the crossover era is just beginning.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: Best of the Best - As I've said before, I think Ms. Marvel is great in terms of both design and concept - if Marvel's going to have a female superhero that stands any shot at being even partially equivalent to the iconic status of Wonder Woman, she's one of their few best chances - and it's great that they've put such effort into rebuilding the character in the past few years. I can't say as this made me want to sit up and pay more attention to her, though. It's certainly competently written and drawn, don't get me wrong, but there's not a lot of "Wow!" here. This was a library read, and the only issues of this series I own are the two that Mike Wieringo drew, and at least based on these initial stories, it may stay that way. But at the same time, if more volumes show up at the library, I may check them out, because they were at least a quick, pleasant-enough diversion. (I thought it was weird to see Spider-Woman violating Marvel's sacred "our heroes don't smoke" rule in the first issue, though. Maybe because she was later outted as a Skrull?)