Podcast - Episode 147: Hellboy Omnibus vol 1

hellboy banner.jpg

We're back! Are you ready for another installment of the Living Between Wednesdays summer book club?

We read the first Hellboy omnibus, which is basically perfect in every way.

We also talk about all the news from SDCC (well, some of the news, anyway), and about James Gunn, which is a whole confusing thing.

Next week we are talking about my beloved Super Sons! HANEY 4 LIFE!!!!!

pillow fight.jpg

Podcast - Episode 115: Best of the Rest

publishers banner.jpg

We thought we'd give some of the OTHER comic book publishers some love this week. We don't hide the fact that this is primarily a superhero podcast, and that our first love is superhero-based comic books, but there are so many great comic book publishers and Dave is on the front lines of seeing what they are putting out each week, so we thought we'd check in. Most of them publish superhero books too!

Here's that delightful article about the drama that went down on the Jeremy Renner app. I'll miss that crazy app.

Thanks for listening!

John Buys Comics: The New Look John Buys Comics

 In the wake of the near-death experience of not having a damn computer for two weeks I am retiring John Buys Comics, I think. It was conceived of when there were several people doing reviews on this site every week and the format that I set up for myself, loose as it was, was a bit too chore-like. And let me remind you: I grew up on a farm, where the word “chore” was taken literally, as in “pile up a cord of wood after school” or “shovel several times your weight in horse manure every day” and a young man can develop creative procrastination to a fine art.

So instead of writing a pocket review for every damn thing I read and saying the same damn thing over and over again, I’m going to pick out a few extraordinary or noteworthy or terrible books per week and give them the business. And maybe I’ll make up some semi-arbitrary categories to fill out, because I like doing that. Huzzah!

I might still call it John Buys Comics, but we'll all know it won't be the same.

Incredible Change-Bots Two (Top Shelf)

Why's It Here: Because it's the sequel to one of my favourite things. Also, the original comic is one of the most accessible books that I own - more people have read it just because it was lying around on my coffee table than have tried any of the many books that I occasionally feel the need to wax rhapsodic about in mixed company. There's just something about those slightly goofy-looking giant robots that immediately draws in basically anyone who has watched cartoons over the last twenty or so years.

The Non-Spoiler Summary: The Incredible Change-Bots return to Earth! Shootertron isn't dead! There are further political allusions!

The Very Best Thing About It: More face-time for Microwave, Popper and Soupy, my very favourite robots ever.

The Very Worst Thing About It: I can never shelve these books with the rest of my comics because they're so small - the other books end up bending over them and getting all weird looking. So they just kind of float around in a pile with all of the other odd-sized books until I maybe some day install a tiny shelf for them to have to themselves. 

Who Made It? Jeffery Brown, the scamp.

Closing Comments: Oh man I just found this trailer for the first book: check it out.

Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish (Dark Horse)


Why It's Here: Because I love Hellboy with all my little blackened heart, that's why. And furthermore, I love Hellboy one-and-done stories even more than that. Even more than the main storyline, the one-off stories convey the sense that Hellboy live in a complex and interesting world that we are only seeing a piece of. All of the monsters and zombies and - in this case - aliens have crazy back stories and motivations and so forth and we only get to see a little bit of the picture before Hellboy punches them to death. It appeals to the part of me that used to scour the library and used bookstores and so forth back in pre-internet days, piecing together bits of information on one topic or another. With more punching.

Non-Spoiler Summary: It's a Hellboy yarn featuring aliens.

The Very Best Thing About It: The flying pig. Unquestionably. 

The Very Worst Thing About It: That Mike Mignola didn't draw it? But that's just whining, because the fact is that every non-Mignola artist that has been working on these books for the last few hears has been doing a phenomenal job. And hell: there is absolutely no way that we would be seeing one to three books per month from the various Hellboy series if one guy were still doing everything, so I'll just shut my big mouth, I guess.

Who Made It? Mike Mignola did the writing and... Heck, it looks like Kevin Nowlan did everything else, including letters and presumably colouring, because there's no credit for that here. Now I'm even more embarrassed about wishing for Mignola art.

Closing Comments: Looks like Dave Stewart  did some colouring as well. Thanks, Dark Horse web site!

And that's that for this week because I also bought that enormous Usagi Yojimbo box set that came out last year with all of the Fantagraphics stuff in it and I want to get back to reading it in enormous, three-hour instalments.

John Buys Comics - A Sea of White

DC Comics' theme cover month has had a somewhat jarring effect on me this week, in that it starkly outlines just how many of their books I'm buying. I guess I'm enjoying them all, but it's still weird. Especially as the only two books I feel like talking about this week are from other publishers.

First, from Dark Horse, it's BPRD: Hell on Earth: Gods, the latest mini-series in the second mega-arc of the series. I think. Look, I don't have to fully understand the structure to love the books, okay?

As you might expect, this book continues the tale of the horrorfication of the Hellboy Earth, only instead of being told from the perspective of the folks on the front lines trying to stop bad things from happening, this series is focusing on the regular folks who are trying to live in a world in which several major cities have been destroyed by Lovecraftian abominations, where monsters haunt the darkness and civilization is starting to fray. Now, despite my love for these books it's been a long time since I've gotten terribly creeped out by them, so the visceral feeling of helplessness that can be conveyed by protagonists who don't have an army of researchers to tell them what's going on, who don't know much more than that everything is going to hell and that they are unable to do anything about it, is extermely compelling.

Meanwhile, Image released Infinite Vacation this week. It's not a new broad concept - regular Joe tries to discover just Who He Is in a crazy high-concept world - but that's not a bad thing when it's handled right. Good news: this one seems to be!

Main character Mark lives in a world/continuum of worlds in which travel to alternate dimensions has been perfected, and in which you can swap lives with other versions of yourself via a smartphone app and a chunk of change. Only now he seems to be the target of multiverse-wide murder, plus he's met a girl who doesn't subscribe to the life-hopping paradigm. 

So: murder, romance and intrigue across an infinity of realities. I can definitely get behind that, especially if Nick Spencer and Christian Ward keep up the quality writing and drawing, respectively.

If that just seemed to taper off there toward the end, well... it did. I left off finishing this until it got late and I got sleepy. Tragedy abounds. Good night!

John Buys Comics: The Hunt For the Best of 2011 Begins

This is going to be intensely abbreviated, as I can imagine that  reading my thoughts on comics is beginning to pall. After this, you get a week off.


Hellboy: the Sleeping and the Dead, which is a two-parter set in 1966 and features Hellboy vs. vampires, one of my favourite situations. This is supposed to be a very big year for Hellboy, and this is a very good start. 

Meanwhile, I haven't been paying attention again. I expected Batman Inc. No. 2, and it was as entertaining as its predecessor, but this Batman: The Dark Knight yangle caught me off-guard. I almost rolled my eyes and skipped it in protest of over-saturation but two things stopped me: firstly my crippling Batman addiction and secondly Dave offhandedly mentioning that the series was supposedly going to feature Batman tackling some more supernatural threats, which hits my other major weakness for comics where big dudes punch monsters. And then it turned out to be a decent read, which is nice.

And finally Weird Worlds, which I got because I'm finally ready to admit that I like reading comics with Lobo in them. Plus, see above reference to liking monster-punching. Hmm. Maybe I should have picked up Steel as well.


How weird is it that I forgot that Keith Giffen had created some characters based on the movie The Aristocrats for Doom Patrol?Because that was one of my favourite things of all time and now that storyline is done and I'm still very glad I put this on the extended best-of list.


The Bulletproof Coffin finished this week with No. 6 and caught me completely off-guard. What a weird, bleak, wonderful ending. Definitely would have bumped something out of the Top Ten if this had come out earlier.


Oh Yes, It's the End of the Best of 2010

I will be brief.

Here are the new series that wowed me in the dearly departed 2010.

Age of Reptiles - Is it wrong that I weigh the amazing panoramic vistas and incredibly rendered herds of multiple dinosaur species and the wordless drama of predator v. prey as highly as the puerile giggles I get whenever I spot a dinosaur taking a whizz?

Beasts of Burden - Okay, so the only new thing to come out this year was the Hellboy crossover. I don't care - I love this comic. Plus, the trade that came out a few months ago is a joy to behold.

Bulletproof Coffin - An amazingly weird series with beautiful, vibrantly-coloured art. If the last issue had come out before today it might have made the big list (closure is important, dammit).

Culture Corner - Basil Wolverton doesn't get anywhere near the recognition that he deserves nowadays, so it was wonderful to see this collection of his typically bizarre advice comics.

Gorilla Man - I am a connoisseur of great big smart-mouth heros who end up punching their way out of trouble a lot and let me tell you, Ken Hale is one of the best.

Justice League: Generation Lost - Possibly the best super-hero comic to come out this year. Definitely the best thing to come out of Brightest Day.

Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour - So obvious I almost forgot to include it.

Skullkickers - I get the feeling that if one more issue had come out before the year ended it'd have been in the top ten. Another comic that pushes a lot of my Dungeon Master buttons - Shorty and Baldy have that special combination of ingenuity and complete insanity that marks all of my players' characters.

Strange Science Fantasy - Pretty sure this is going to be on Dave's list, and it deserves to be. Personally, I was sold the instant that the Shogunaut showed up.

Strange Tales II - All the joy of Strange Tales, with a far more consistent level of quality! Whee!

Stumptown - Take the classic noir detective and his drunken, big-mouth, getting-roughed-up all the time ways and now make him a lady and put him in the present day. That is this comic and it is a treat.

Superf*ckers - Kochalka's off-colour spin on the teen super-team, collected at last!

Super Pro KO - Any comic that captures the late 80s/early 90s insanity that was professional wrestling gets my vote.

Tick New Series - It's been almost exactly a year and Benito Cereno has been knocking this comic out of the park consistently. I can't imagine that the Tick is a character that just anyone can write - you need to hit just the right notes to make him work. Applause!

Turf - Gangsters, vampires, aliens and plucky girl reporters. It was either going to be awful or amazing. Hooray!

Underground - A comic that was mostly about people trying to kill other people deep under the earth, which makes me uncomfortable like little else can. Quiet down, nascent claustrophobia.

Xenozoic - Another collected edition rather than new material, but one that was overdue. 

And that, as they say, is that. Brevity, thy name is Johnathan.

Good night!