Podcast - Episode 71: Favourite Comic Book Creative Teams

This week on the podcast we list some of our all-time favourite comic book creative teams! Because, just like Dave and me, sometimes it takes two awesome people coming together to create magic.

I should mention that we are aware that the Buckaroo Banzai news is now irrelevant now that Kevin Smith has removed himself from the project. That happened right after we recorded this episode.

Oh, and also, I can now confirm that it's Jeff Le-MEER, not Jeff Le-MYER, so I have been wrong all these years. Also, he is very nice.

Do I have anything to link to this week? Not really. 

Here's the link to that little Mark Waid/Chris Samnee interview about Black Widow and Winter Soldier, I guess.


Here's a picture of Sebastian Stan at a spin class?

Oh, to be on that bike behind him.

(Oh, to be that bike? Nah. That's weird.)

Thanks for listening!

Even When Stripped of His Fantastic Powers, John Buys Comics

I bought comics! And now you get to read about them!

Flashpoint No. 2 (and about a million miniseries) (DC)


Why it's Here: I'm honestly not sure. Is it because I feel like I should at least make a pass at reviewing DC's Summer crossover? Because I want to see what kind of tomfoolery is going to spark the Big Reset in September? Is it just that I'm a sucker for an alternate universe story? No idea.

Non Spoiler Summary: The Reverse Flash has messed with time and now Everything is Different and Crazy and Dark. Batman is Thomas Wayne! Atlantis done blowed up most of Europe! Dogs are marrying cats!

The Very Best Thing About It: There's a lot of decent alternate-universe-everything-is-different stuff going on: less-used characters like Shade the Changing Man and the Outsider rub elbows with interestingly-tweaked versions of old standards such as the five-kids-and-a-tiger version of Captain Marvel Thunder. Plus it's always fun to see Dr Thirteen.

The Very Worst Thing About It: It just feels a bit... tepid. A lot of the characters in this world have clear motivations (stop the war between Atlantis and the Amazons, don't get killed, steal things, etc) but the series itself lacks any sort of clear reason for being. The world has changed because Reverse Flash did... something, or a lot of things, right? And he did it to... mess with the Flash? To what end? Honestly, the Sadistic Mastermind Who Hatches Overly-Elaborate Schemes and Gloats All the Time villain archetype is near universally the most tedious and irritating thing in comics. Reverse Flash is Hush is terrible and the world that he has created has no dramatic reason to exist. If it wasn't being played up as a BIG! FAT! IMPORTANT! CROSSOVER! this could just be a standalone Flash story with no consequences outside of his own book, and not many there.

I might take all this back if some later issue reveals that, say, the absence of Barry Allen caused the heroes to lose during the original Crisis and this is the shitty final

Also, the entire series takes place at night or under heavy cloud cover. THE WORLD IS LITERALLY DARK and the symbolism heavy-handed.

Who Made It: A Geoff Johns joint. Plus a lot of artists and auxiliary writers.

Closing Comments: I'm going to give this thing a couple of more chances. This means that I am part of the event problem. I feel terrible about this.

The Tooth (Oni)


Why It's Here: It's an original graphic novel about an anthropomorphic tooth that fights monsters. That's amazing.

Non Spoiler Summary: Think old Man-Thing or Swamp Thing: the travels and travails of an improbable creature and its human cohorts in a world crawling with demons and monsters and dark science. And it's framed as a story arc in a long-running series, complete with letters pages and callbacks to non-existent continuity. Fun!

The Very Best Thing About It: That it's a pretty much perfect recreation of the Weird Wandering Monster subgenre from days of yore, complete with purple narration and crazy monsters and an internal mythology that makes things like a tooth monster that splits its time between killing things and living in a dude's mouth make sense.

The Very Worst Thing About It: My boss just expressed interest in the odd book sitting on my desk, whereupon I realized that there was no way for me to explain it to a layperson without sounding like a crazy man. That's unfortunate.

Who Made It: Cullen Bunn and Shawn Lee wrote it and Matt Kindt drawed it.

Isle of 100,000 Graves (Fantagraphics)

Why I'm Keeping This Short: It's a Jason comic. Do you like those? Then you will like this. Do you not like those? You won't like this. If you have no idea what I'm talking about... Do you like the idea of a slice-of-life story in a very strange setting where all of the characters are idiosyncratically-drawn anthropomorphic dogs and birds? Well there you go then.

50 Girls 50 (Image)

Why I'm Keeping This Short: Because there's only so much you can say about this story if you're not getting mad about it. It's got a dumb title (at least I think it does, because that's the way it's written in the indicia) and a generic sci-fi story with really nice art - the only really remarkable thing about it is the number of plot hoops that Doug Murray and Frank Cho jumped through in order to set up their cheesecake-fest. "Earth is starving and we need to find another planet! Look, a wormhole that messes up the Y chromosome - better send a spaceship full of hot science-babes to look for one." "Oh, no! This jungle planet we landed on has a crazy atmosphere that dissolves plastic! We are forced to wander around in tiny scraps of cloth and spear-fight giant insects until we can find a way off!" And so on. If Frank Cho's jungle ladies appeal to or repulse you, this book is likely to do the same.

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent (Icon)

Why I'm Keeping This Short: Because I foolishly have not read any Criminal before and I have no idea if discussing the plot of this issue will be spoilery. Succinctly, it is excellent.

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!

A Fresh New Year: Time For the Best of 2010

Well hell. This has been sitting here as a draft for two days. Pretend that didn't happen.

Yes, everything is shiny and new in 2011 and my hose is abuzz with the sounds of my girlfriend tossing things out to make room for all the junk sweet loot that we were presented with over the last week or so. Time to look back on 2010 and lay down some opinions on just what the very best graphical literature to come out over the course of the year was.

I made up a list that was about a million items long and managed to whittle it down to the ten comics, graphic novels, trade paperbacks or whatever that brought me the largest amount of joy this year - no other judging criteria were used. Also, they will be presented in alphabetical order because I am far too lazy to go through the agony of numbering them in either ascending or descending order.

Axe Cop


Hey, it's this again! Yes, it may have just came out a couple of weeks ago but this trade definitely deserves its place on the list of greatest joy-givers. The team of 6 year-old Malachai Nicholle and his 30 year-old brother Ethan produce some of the most legitimately hilarious comics I have ever encountered. You can tell that every idea that Malachai puts forth is chosen for its complete awesomeness and delivered with supreme enthusiasm, while Ethan displays not only impressive technical ability (translation: his drawings are totally sweet) but is an important secondary storyteller as he chooses when to interpret what his brother says literally and when to embellish or downplay in order to create a smoothly-flowing narrative.

Plus, you know, it has a scene where everyone in London soils themselves simultaneously, which is pretty funny.

Crogan's March


Huh. Oni's website claims that this came out last December. Well, no matter, because I didn't see it until February and it's great and I love it.

Crogan's March is the second in the Crogan Adventures by Chris Schweizer, the first being Crogan's Vengeance which came out in 2008 and the next being Crogan's Loyalty, which can't come out soon enough. The series takes place as a series of stories that a father tells his two sons about their ancestors - in this case a member of the French Foreign Legion - in order to teach them lessons about life.

The tale of Legionnaire Peter Crogan and his days in the desert is filled with characters who exemplify a series of world views: loyalty, cowardice, colonialism as stewardship, colonialism as bullying. This makes every character in the book compelling and delightful, while also lending weight to both the humour,  horror and pathos of the tale. I can't recommend this one enough.


This should be no surprise, as I've been going on and on about this series all year. One more time: this is a comic by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Bá, about the life of a man named Brás. Each issue takes place at a point in his life between childhood and old age and tells a self-contained story, and each issue ends with Brás' death. The art is as amazing as usual for Bá and Moon, and the portrait of Brás that you develop over the course of the series - complete with multiple potential paths, a web of relationships and enough ambiguity to satisfy but not enrage - is entirely worth the read.

Grandeville: Mon Amour


Another late entry, but Bryan Talbot has scored a decisive hit on my psyche with this series. In case you missed it, here's the skinny: in the late 1800s, the books follow DI LeBrock as he unravels world-shaking plots in an England that has just emerged from the domination of a monarchical French empire. There are fascinating tidbits of alternate history to unravel, bizarre spins on real-world politics, nods to the Euro comics of my youth and genuinely exciting action sequences - a winning combination for ensnaring Johnathans. Plus, everyone is an anthropomorphic animal of some kind, if you like that kind of thing.

I, Zombie

This one is simple: I like weird stories about the supernatural, I like girl detectives and I like Mike Allred, so I like I, Zombie. That might be where things ended but Chris Robeson has really been delighting me with his writing, starting with the aforementioned girl detective stuff and introducing a fairly delightful cast of characters to act as allies and foils to zombie Gwen and her pals as they attempt to solve the problems that she acquires along with the gooky sustenance that she derives from her monthly meal of human brains. Plus: one of the better explanations for the supernatural that I've ever encountered.

Joe the Barbarian

There is some conflict raging in my mind of the inclusion of this one. On the one hand, I've been living in suspense while waiting for the final issue for so long that I'm inclined to be spiteful, but on the other... there's a reason for the suspense, and it's that the comic is just so damned. good.

This is, of course, another one that I've been going on and on about this year, but in case you're new or have been tuning me out: the titular barbarian is a youngster named Joe with a semi-troubled life that includes an absent father, money woes and school bullying. He's also, as of the first issue of the series, going into diabetic shock on a massive scale. In one sense, that's all that this book is about: a kid going downstairs to get a can of pop so that he doesn't die. BUT. Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy have taken that mundane-if-important trip and dramatized it as an epic journey through a disaster-stricken fantasy land, a quest to find and defeat Lord Death. The action changes perspectives between the real and fantasy world frequently and introduces a fair amount of doubt as to whether the other world is real or just some sort of diabetes hallucination. Morrison and Murphy have done something wonderful here; now I just need it to end and I'll be just as happy as a clam.

Orc Stain


I think that the first issue of Orc Stain came out in January last year. It was early 2010, anyway. The important thing is this: I knew that it would be on my Best of 2010 list as soon as I read that initial comic. James Stokoe has created a world that is filled with detail and crazy creatures - some of them functioning as everyday objects like safes or beverage containers - and societies and then filled it with his take on the classic fantasy orc: wild, drunken, violent, nameless savages that ravage the countryside in search of loot and ladies, but now with their own society and with a sympathetic edge that most low-HD humanoids lack. The first six issues have been concerned with getting protagonist One Eye, a thoughtful and talented orc of few words, in way over his head as a potential pawn of the power-seeking Orctzar as he attempts to unite the chaotic orcish tribes and conquer the entire world.

Parker: the Outfit

Richard Stark's Parker novels are basically amazing: the titular Parker is a near-emotionless and entirely ruthless career thief who spend each book meticulously planning and executing a robbery, as well as (usually) dealing with some bullplop that he never asked for. There are very few people who I would have considered able to adapt the feel of those books to a comic page, but any list that I might have made up would have definitely been topped by Darwyn Cooke, so it's a pretty good deal for me that he started adapting them a couple of years ago. Not only has he nail the mid-Sixties style of the first few books perfectly but his strong character design skills ensure that the books' cast of interesting characters make the transition to the illustrated page without becoming the usual smear of bland sameness.

The Sixth Gun

And alphabetically last: The Sixth Gun by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt. An innocent girl is dragged into a conflict between an amoral wanderer and an undead Revolutionary War general as they attempt to gain control over a set of six enchanted pistols older than the human race. The Wild West is given a supernatural history that is unique and thematically appropriate, the art looks amazing and seven issues in I'm still trying to puzzle things out. In a good way, not a bad writing way - I know that someday I'll reread these earlier issues and have astonishing retroactive insights and be well pleased. Plus: cowboys!

And that's the lot. Tune in tomorrow (and yesterday, dang it) for supplemental lists of runners-up.

Johnathan... out.