John Buys Comics - Ill-Advised Edition

Yes, it's the weekly comics review by me, Johnathan. This week: I have been lured away from my post by old university friends and am, to put it euphemistically, suffering from heat exhaustion. 

Jersey Gods No. 12 - Oh, hell. I was really enjoying this series, but I guess that 12 is one of the magic "YOUR BOOK ISN'T SELLING ENOUGH" numbers. Wait, why wasn't this book selling enough? It was great! The entire population of a planet fused together into one colossal cosmic entity to destroy an asteroid! Kirby-style cosmic being had to meet Earth-style in-laws! There was a fast guy named Rushmore! Dammit, there are Philistines all around me.

Kill Shakespeare No. 2 - I may not have read quite as much Shakespeare as I convinced my English professors that I had, but I have to admit to being downright excited by some of the character dynamics in this comic. Richard III and Iago, two of the most deceitful characters in history, leading Hamlet, one of the most credulous, around by the nose? Only hijinks can ensue! And the art continues to delight! Please stifle any reverse-snobbishness that might be preventing you from picking this up: it is wonderful on any level of in-the-knowishness.

Atomic Robo and the Revenge of the Vampire Dimension No. 4 - Look, my love for Atomic Robo is a matter of public record, but independent of that, I wish to state that Dr Dinosaur is one of the greatest comic book characters of all time. In support of this, I refer you to page 3, panels 2-5. That is all. 

War of the Supermen No. 3 - I know that I have been harshing on the Superman family of books on and off all year, but ultimately I would have to say that this is how you should run an event: keep it in the pants of the character's books. In the case of superman, things have been playing out in his own book, Action, Adventure and in half a dozen miniseries like this one. Tons of other heroes appear, sure, but in supporting roles, because there's no real need for the JLA and the JSA and the Teen Titans and Simon Dark and Oberon to each have their own special in which they battle an enraged Kryptonian. You can already picture how each of those fights go, right? TAH DAAA! No need for one thousand crappy tie-in issues.

Zatanna No 1 - Oh dang, I totally bogarted this from Dave even though he had something to say about it. Sorry Dave!

Wait, I have something to say too! AHEM: this issue has about one hundred really cool ideas, tied together by so-so writing. I'm going to blame the so-so-ness on the fact that this issue is chock-full of exposition and such, because there is the core of a really cool series here. And some very cool villains, too. I just hope that things even out in subsequent issues, because I really like the idea of a war against the magical Mob, complete with bearded guys in robes as enforcers. Keep on keepin' on, Dini!

The Spirit No. 2 - A huge improvement over No. 1, even if Yvette Plaisir/Angel Smerti had a weirdly and inconsistently rendered head and neck (I'm talking disconcertingly small, here). I'll continue to reserve judgement.

Legion of Super-Heroes No. 1 - I am definitely not the right person to tell you just how accessible this is to folks who aren’t already familiar with the Legion, as well as the DCU in general. I think that this issue and by extension this series are fairly accessible, barring having to pick up the trade of that Action Comics story from a couple of years back. Basically, as someone who reads comics that were written before I was born as a hobby, this sort of thing is super-plus great. For those of you that live in the now, I reckon that it could be regular great. Trust me.

Hey, I wrote this one while I was sober! "Brightest Day No. 2 - Okay, it looks like there aren’t going to be as many people saying “Brightest Day” in this as the Number 0 issue made it look, so instead I’m going to start tracking the ratio of horrifying events symptomatic of the kind of storytelling that this series is supposedly part of a general trend away from AS COMPARED TO the total number of issues. So far: 3/3.

On a positive note, it kind of looks like Firestorm is black in this issue, like he’s a combination of Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch(sp?)’s physical forms, and that would be a cool way of addressing the whole “inadvertent whitewashing” aspect of rolling back so many of the legacy heroes. In this one case, of course; it doesn’t make Ryan Choi less dead. Also, it might just be all of the weird lighting effects on Firestorm’s face because of his head being on fire."

Later Addendum: I don't really think that he looks black. I just want to. Dammit DC, THROW US A BONE HERE.

American Vampire No. 3 - THIRD ISSUE RECAP!

Pearl, an aspiring actress in 1920s Hollywood, is lured to a party and used as fodder by aristocratic European vampires. Despite being driven out into the desert and tossed into a mass grave, she manages to survive long enough for her friends to find her and get her to a doctor. She is still slowly dying, though, which prompts the enigmatic vampire Sweet to turn her and set her on the path of revenge. Bloody hijinks ensue.

Also, there is a backup story written by Stephen King and detailing exactly how Sweet came to be the only American vampire. Lots of beheadings!

Weathercraft - Came out last week, but I was lazy. It's no better this week, because I really have to go to bed soon, so in lieu of a legitimate review, here is an anecdote. 

When I used to work in a library, I abused my powers to take The Frank Book out for more than six months, in which time I read it maybe a dozen times. Jim Woodring's work is fascinating, folks, and Weathercraft is no exception. If you don't have a visceral dislike for books that are wordless and in black and white then I heartily recommend it.

And that's that. No pictures this week, unless I get really ambitious in the morning. Just the drunken truth, ayup. 

Good night, folks.

Review of Matrimonial Bliss, by johnathan

Ahoy! I just got home from Rachelle's (of Living Between Wednesdays fame) wedding. Please blame any typos, misspellings and grammatical atrocities on the fact that there was an open bar.

I'm not going to say much here, as it's really Rachelle's event to blog about, but I will say a few things:

a) it was the most well-planned wedding that I've eer been to. The ceremony was short and the reception featured a plethora of astonishingly good appetizer-style foods. Basically, all od=f the tedious parts of the process were removed and the touching and fun nougat centre was expsed

b) Rachelle's grandfater can dance.dance7777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777u

c) Don't think she'll mention this, so I will: sshe sang excellently. It was super fun.


(Sober P.S.: Rachelle's grand parents were both fantastic dancers. Just for clarity's sake. And the 7s are from dropping the keyboard. Curse you, open bar!)

Review of My Own Actions This Past Sunday, By Johnathan

I'll let the series of small reviews tell the tale:

Having sushi with Brad and Alex: JOHN APPROVED.

Going out for a beer or two afterward: JOHN APPROVED.

Having six or seven beer: NOT APPROVED.

Being drunk until noon the next day: NOT APPROVED.

Having a day off because of this, even if it was mostly spent hung over: JOHN APPROVED.

Breaking the bar's door on the way out: NOT APPROVED.

Making sure that they had my correct phone number so that I could pay for said door: Morally JOHN APPROVED/ Financially NOT APPROVED

Learning on Tuesday that I had called up a friend at midnight Sunday to demand that he build me a 'Laugh-o-Meter' that is capable of determining who could laugh the loudest: NOT APPROVED.

Learning that I was apparently persuasive enough that he is building it: JOHN APPROVED.


Review of advertising, By Johnathan

So, as you might have been able to tell by even a casual glance at the rest of my entries in this blog of love and magic, I like the old comics - I find them delicious. One of the things that I love the most about these funnybooks of yore is the advertising - partially because the way that things are advertised has changed so much and partially because no matter how gandiose the claims made or exciting the typeface used, I know in advance how successful the product was, and can snicker to myself on a level totally different from that on which I usually snicker at advertising.

But enough generalities - how about some specific examples, eh Johnathan? (this is what I'm imagining you saying - good job on spelling my name right, by the way.) Very well: here are some advertisements that I have oh-so-tenderly liberated from their original contexts.
(I recommend clicking on the images to get the full impact of their majesty)

First up:
So, putting aside the fact that the cartoon spokescat looks like he's hooked on a mild euphoric (Which is not actually uncommon - I believe that if such characters were real, the stigma of possible drug abuse would hover over their misshapen heads like a life of petty crime haunts the future of every child sitcom star), and putting aside the notion that anyone could have fun playing with those crappy-looking models - let alone acquire a million laughs from each, or from both in tandem - the real eye-catchers for me in this ad were the three young chaps that were oh-so impressed by el Gato's drug-addled ramblings. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
The first of these youngsters, although noseless, might be the only honest one of the bunch - he took AMT's money but he just couldn't bring himself to praise such stupid models, so just went with an expression of polite disbelief. I'll bet that he grew up to be a mildly corrupt cop. The second child, who I'm guessing - due to the same congenital lack of nose - is the first tyke's brother, chooses to focus on the model-building process - with his talents of obfuscation and misdirection, he's probably gone into politics. The third kid... well, putting aside the fact that he's flat-out lying and he knows it: look at that face! You could insert basically any evil thing that you want into that speech balloon and it will look totally natural. "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." "In exactly thirty minutes the Statue of Liberty will be no more.""Kill all of the kittens." Kid gives me the creeps. Probably lurking in somebody's closet right now.
I include this ad only so that I can point out that a)"It's magically delicious!" is a much better catch phrase than "Tis a charmin' cereal... simply charmin.'" and b) Either this is Lucky the Leprechaun's dad, or ol' Lucky's had a facelift some time in the last thirty-odd years.
It's a bitchin' bike, and not a bad idea, but the four-panel format always left a lot of questions unanswered in the various adventures of the i patrol that've cropped up in my reading over the years. For instance: everyone leaps into action / onto their bicycles in order to find this kid, but the bikes don't really come into the resolution of the adventure, like they would if the kid were trapped in, say, a half-pipe or been kidnapped by someone in a motorized wheelchair. Also: character development. This kid in the sombrero intrigues me - I didn't think that sombreros were big as accessories in the late Sixties, and if I'm right I want to know why this kid's got one on. Is he half Mexican? Was the iversion Corporation so in the know that they were trying to woo the Hispanic segments of the purchasing public decades before anyone else? Sadly, I doubt that we'll ever know.
Hoo boy - this one's a doozy. Setting aside the fact that those kids look kind of like store mannequins brought to hideous life, and setting aside the fact that the text starts rhyming halfway through, we come to the really important question: What the hell?

What the hell was this thing? It looks like somebody read - no, skimmed - a book on mysticism and fortune-telling, and then crammed as much of it as possible into a single creepy package. You got the name, Ka-bala, which is surely not meant to invoke the spirit of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism, as popularized by Madonna), surely. You got Taro(t) cards, you got some faux ouija board stuff with the old Eye of Zohar (which looks a bit like a Magic Eightball, come to think of it) - you've even got several references to the marble being made of crystal, which is probably no mistake. Cripes - I'm surprised that there wasn't a little fold-out table where you could read the entrails of a plastic bird.

Little backgound on the last entry: the Phantom Stranger is this mysterious guy who gets into all of the magical business in the DC Universe. He might be all powerful, and he might be a semi-fallen angel, and he might be a lot of things. Every time that somebody tries to really nail down what the Stranger's really all about, somebody else muddies the water again. He's mysterious. Only three things about him are known for sure: he has a cool name, he has a cool hat, and in this one Hellblazer comic he shows up at John Constantine's birthday party and gets vomited on, which was cool. Anyway, apparently at one point he had a comic book all to himself, and here's the ad: Children! Are you prepared to follow strangers? Phantom strangers? Awesome.

Everything's JOHN APPROVED