John, Though Many Conspire Against Him, Buys Comics

It's true - people have been giving me delicious free food like it was going out of style, and if there's one thing that a full Johnathan does not do, it's get around to writing things. I'd resist, but... pork and clams. Pork and clams!

Before the delightful review section of the evening begins, I have a contest to direct you to: one Patrick Wensink is celebrating the release of his book Sex Dungeon For Sale by having what I consider a bang-up contest. First, it's a colouring contest, which is nice because you have to demonstrate a little skill. Secondly, the prizes:

Tales Designed to Thrizzle – by Michael Kupperman
Fool- By Christopher Moore
AM/PM – By Amelia Gray
Help! A Bear is Eating Me! – By Mykle Hansen

ALL AUTOGRAPHED. Now, I'm sadly not familiar with Amelia Gray or Mykle Hansen, but Michael Kupperman and  Christopher Moore are two of my very favourite creators, so I can imagine that I'd like all four of these equally. Head on over to Patrick's web site for more details. You can get a taste of his writing there as well - I had a chance to read Sex Dungeon For Sale this week and had myself a very good time. Check out the story "My Son Thinks He's French", which was tied with "Jesus Toast" for the position of John's Fave Story of the Book. If there's a common theme to the stories in this collection, it's represented in this one: the world is behaving strangely and the characters are taking it at face value. I'd venture to say that it's JOHN APPROVED.

R13 No. 2

They really had me at “human skull-infused robot fights monsters”, but the guys behind R13 aren’t going to just sit back and rake in the Johnathan-dollars on a bare minimum of effort, oh no. This issue features the beginnings of a hint of an origin for my favourite skull-bot, with entirely unexpected ties to Classical Greece, to boot!

Nice touches this issue: R13’s skull moves around and looks at people inside of that crazy dome, which I hadn’t picked up on the first time around, and which is both very humanizing and very creepy. Plus, this issue features Echidna, one of the most underused of mythological menaces. Dare we hope that Typhon might put in an appearance later on?

So: a solid book from a brand-new studio. If you derive any enjoyment from the “big guys punch monsters” school of supernatural comic then you should give this one a go. Plus, mine came with buttons!

Batman Unseen No. 5 (of 5)

Dave made a crack about this being more akin to “Batman Unread”, which is a shame, because it was a) really fun and b) came out, like, weekly and so was this great guaranteed good time with my Wednesday book purchase. And now, finally, we’ve gone beyond Batman fighting an invisible man to Batman being an invisible man.

Invisible Batman was jut about as entertaining as I had reckoned he would be, but what I hadn’t banked on was that this was an iteration of the Dark Knight Detective that really make me think. Specifically, I was thinking about the logistics of fighting homicidal maniacs while naked, because of course that’s the real downside to many forms of invisibility. I have to say that even if I was the GD Batman I wouldn’t come within a kilometer of your average Gotham villain without a very sturdy cup, invisibility or not.

That's right, Rachelle. This issue features naked Batman fighting another naked man. How do you like that?

Batman Confidential No. 38

In contrast, this is a Batman comic that is sucking. Not all the time, but this arc… sheesh. I bought the last issue because Lady Blackhawk was in it and was certainly going to bring some fun and this issue because Blackhawk himself was making an appearance - sore disappointment in either case. Lame lame lousy lame story, bad rendition and characterization of a great character (both of them, though Zinda Blake much more than Blackhawk), rehashing of a plot that was handled better in Birds of Prey…Bleah.

World of New Krypton No. 10 - I’m really enjoying this as an exercise in interstellar diplomacy and an exploration of an alien society, plus the only place to read Superman right now. Who would have guessed that Adam Strange would be the latest character to become ubiquitous?

North 40 No. 6

I just wrote yet another review of an issue of this comic where I basically just shouted “Flying kid vs. Lovecraftian octopoid god-thing! Civil War flashback! Super-powered rednecks!” I think that this is a perfectly valid way to praise a comic that I love, but it has occurred to me that just listing the high points of each issue might not be as effective at conveying just why you should be checking this out as I’d like it to be.

See, Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples invested the first three or four issues of this series establishing just how effed-up and interesting things had gotten for the people of Conover County as a result of the reality-warping accident in issue 1. Personalities, factions, locations and relationships have been established, generating a very effective and highly creepy stage for the plot to play out on. It’s Good vs. Evil on a field of Ignorance, and this issue begins expanding the scope of the story beyond the borders of the county.

Plus: revolver-based sorcery!

Oh, poo. I just found out that this was issue 6 of 6. Hopefully, it's going to be like Chew or B.P.R.D. and just have a lot of miniseries, but the prospect of never reading this again makes me sad.

King City No. 3 - I'm writing this just after the stuff that I wrote about Sex Dungeon for Sale (that's right, this is all done non-sequentially and it still manages to be disorganized) and so my food-based lethargy is still a problem. Keeping it short and easy for my hip-happy fingers, King City is a) well-written, b) delightfully (as opposed to frustratingly) complex and c) very funny from foreground action to background detail, but without sacrificing good meaty story on the altar of the joke. Very very very good times.

Jonah Hex No. 50 - Jonah Hex drawn by Darwyn Cooke. A treat for the senses! Sense. A treat for the eyeballs! If you're going to read one Western comic this year, this should be it. You should read more, though.

Tales From the Beanworld Book 3: Remember Here When You Are There!

Will you look at that: the first new Beanworld stories since the Nineties. Unless maybe that comic last Christmas was new, which i kinda think it was. So the first new Beanworld stories in a year.

This reemergence of Larry Marder and his world is a source of never-ending delight to me. For years all I had of the Beanworld was one skinny little Eclipse collection of the first three or four issues - I barely hoped to get to read the rest of what had been produced, let alone anything new. And yet a couple of nights ago I sat back and read the continuing adventures of Mr Spook and Professor Garbanzo and the Pod'l Pool Cuties, occasionally heaving great sighs of contentment. What a time to be alive!

As Erica takes great delight in pointing out, the Beanworld is extraordinarily strange, but I have to say that that is one of the reasons I love it so. If you've never given it a try, do yourself a favour and flip through the collections the next time you get a chance - if you end up getting into it, you'll thank me.