Podcast - Episode 147: Hellboy Omnibus vol 1

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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!!!!!

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Podcast - Episode 120: Creator-owned Characters


This week we are looking at some of our favourite creator-owned characters. Basically this episode is a convenient way to talk about some characters who have barely gotten a mention on this podcast in the past. Characters like Nexus, Madman, Grendel, Bone, and Martha Washington.

I don't do a good job at all of describing what I love about Nexus in this episode. I blame a lack of sleep, and a brain that has been knocked around my skull due to constant coughing fits for the past three weeks. But trust me when I say, Nexus is amazing and everyone should read it. Also: he's a total dreamboat.

I have no time to write a blog post this week, but here are a couple of quick things:

You should read Mackenzi Lee's YA novel, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. It's a fun adventure story and a truly sweet and sexy romance. The audiobook is great, if you prefer those. I can't wait for her Loki book.

I have my author website and Twitter account set up now, so you can check those out if you like. Not much content yet, but I did post this short piece I wrote about my childhood determination to play hockey in a town that had no girls' hockey team.

Thanks for listening! See you next week to talk alllllll about The Last Jedi!

Podcast - Episode 93: The Original Secret Empire (1974)

This week we decided to re-read Marvel's original Secret Empire story line from 1974. It seemed timely, for a few reasons.

Here's something we forgot to mention on this week's episode: the East Coast Comic Expo is happening this weekend in Moncton and we will both be there! Dave will be there in an official capacity, moderating panels and Q&A sessions with some great artists, including Nick Bradshaw, Tony Moore and Daniel Way! I'm just gonna be hanging out, hoping not to see the Pennywise cosplayer I saw there last year.

Here are some of our favourite panels from Secret Empire:

On the very first page, we see Sam Wilson, smiling and strolling through the surprisingly quiet streets of Harlem with his bird friend. Not a care in the world! 

Here is Sam telling his girlfriend that he would rather show Steve his new costume than have sex with her:

Here's Steve and Sam's excellent undercover "bum" disguises:

We forgot to mention this one, but Cyclumph! is my new favourite word:

Here's Steve dopily waking up after being stunned:

Here's Steve being less than thrilled to see Thor:

And here is pre-serum Steve VERY enthusiastically agreeing to be a military experiment:

Next week we will be reading the next Captain America story following Secret Empire (the one where he becomes Nomad). We encourage you to read along! It's a very fun story.

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, the Saga Continues

Battle for the Cowl No. 2

Okay. So Batman is (dead? missing? a caveman?)and everyone even vaguely associated with the Batman franchise is running around Gotham and some of them are dressing up like Batman and some or all of the inmates have been sprung from Arkham Asylum (again) and Commissioner Gordon has to deal with an unsympathetic new DA who doesn't cotton to vigilantes (again) and there's a gang war brewing and the Batmen are fighting and one of them is really homicidal.

Way to reset the franchise!

This isn't actually a bad comic, but it ain't anything especially new. It kind of reads like a better-written-and-drawn Knightfall or Knightbat or whatever part of that whole interminable series of comics was the birt where Azrael was the Batman.

However (SPOILERS, the rest of this sentence contains SPOILERS), way to try to tell us that Jason Todd is the murderous, unrepentant Batman and then show him fighting side-by-side with Robin as Red Robin in DC Nation. THAT DOESN'T GIVE ANYTHING AWAY AT ALL. 

World of New Krypton No. 2

You know, I've really been enjoying Superman for the last year or so - I must admit I was slow to notice that Geoff Johns was doing some neato things and really didn't start reading the Supes until the Legion and Bizarro arcs of Action had hammered the point home. One of my favourite things about the stories that have been happening since then is the fact that I have been regularly saying  "Augh, what? No, that's a terrible idea!" when I find out the next plot twist and then I read the comic and it's great. I'm really hoping that things keep on in this mould regardless of eventual creative team.

World of New Krypton seems to be delivering. Enlarging the inhabitants of Kandor? Having them make an artificial planet on the other side of the sun? Having them all be assholes? These are terrible ideas that I love. Seriously, this is great. This vision of Krypton is entertainingly alien and flawed without being the dour, frilly Byrne version, which never quite struck a chord with me. Plus, Zod.

Plus, Thought Beasts.

Thought Beasts! 

Green Lantern No. 39

Speaking of terrible ideas that make for great comics... Seriously, if someone had told me about this whole multi-Corps thing two or three years ago, well, I might have gotten excited, but I'm hardly typical. Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps have been consistently great for quite some time now, though, and the process of meeting the various Corps has been a big part of that. Jerkass Sinestro Corps? Villainously fun! Crazy, blood-spewing Red Lanterns? Gross and fun! Blue Lanterns, one of whom is basically an elephant? Also fun!

The Orange Lanterns, my friennds, do not disappoint. I will be looking forward to the next installment of this little saga eagerly.


Secret Six No. 8

It's date night for the Secret Six!

I enjoy this comic so much that it's going to get cancelled soon, I just know it. I'm sorry everyone. I'm sorry Gail Simone - you did such a good job writing such immoral, homicidal characters and making me care for them that my curse is sure to kick in any month now.

I can't think of much to say that isn't spoiler-ific, so I'll just point out that everyone is extra-delightful in this issue.



B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess No. 4

Hmm. If you were a follower of Paul and John Review you might have caught on to the fact that I am a big fan of the Hellboy comics and all of their various spinoffs and so forth. It's true, all true. I love horror comics and mysteries and mythology and people punching things that maybe they shouldn't and monsters and good writing and weird characters. To various degrees, these comics deliver on all of those. I am highly, highly in favour of Guy Davis as an artist on B.P.R.D. - his style is so far removed from Mignola's that there is no question of him being a style-copier and so his art can be apreciated on its own merits. His art is great! Also, Dave Stewart is a fantastic colourist.

Okay, so now that that's out of the way I promise not to do it every time I buy a Mike Mignola comic. Maybe I'll weigh in at the start of every mini-series, I don't know.

As for The Black Goddess, it's been highly satisfying so far. Last issue was the one that really made me sit up and go "Hot damn!" but this one - as per the cover, left - has lotsa dragons and frogs and little tidbits of information about the evolving story. That's one of my very favourite things about these series, by the way, the fact that they are a part of a very long story in which things have the potential to and frequently do change radically in the course of an issue or two. I can't deny I love the types of comics that have essentially maintained a status quo for sixty years, barring the odd Bat-Hound or two, but the act of reading a proper, evolving story fills me with delight. 

Okay, that's it! Oh, I also bought Booster Gold No 19 this week but couldn't think of much to say, other than that it was a decent read but that the events of the issue could have been handled in about two pages, except maybe what Rip was doing. It felt like trade paperback padding.

So long, folks.


Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Six, By Johnathan

I don't touch on Hellboy a lot on this blog, because I mostly like writing about things that I like but that are also demonstrably flawed in some way (not a bad thing, I swear) and to me at least Mike Mignola's extended Hellboy family of books is just pure fun. But it's the Twelve Days of Christmas Special, for heaven's sake! So here's something from "A Christmas Underground", collected in The Chained Coffin and Others:

Hellboy's on a case to help an old lady - No more details for you! Buy the book! - at Christmastime. But who does she think he is, other than a giant red detective?

That's a super panel-to-panel change. I really should have left them side by side but it would have spoiled the suspense (the incredible suspense!).

There's some stuff in the middle (still not going to tell you, nyah) and then Hellboy offers up some Christmas sentiment:

Man, I love that - the guy has great dialogue out the wazoo. This is one of my favourite short Hellboy yarns, not the least because of that little postscript. In a very weird way, this is one of the more heartwarming Christmas comics I know.


"seven boys a-bouncing,"