Saturday, April 30, 2016

3 Devils #2

3 Devils, Issue #2 is the second in a limited series of four.  Like Issue #1, it takes place in 1973 Utah.  Tara is a gypsy girl and a knife handler.  Marcus is a black man, a former slave and...  a "magician."  He doesn't eat, drink, or sleep.  He calls himself a "zuvembie"; this is the Haitian word for "zombie."  He goes on to explain that he was forced to drink a potion brewed by a Haitian witch when he was a slave.  He teaches Tara to shoot and fight.  She already knows how to handle knives, but she trains and becomes better.  They go to town and get supplies first, and of course, they get into trouble.

The cover (shown) shows her as a sexy and battle-ready soldier.  This was teased on the final page of the last issue.  Issue #2 is about her transformation into that being.  She promises to help Marcus find the woman who turned him into a zuvembie if he helps her find the 3 Devils who murdered her family.  I like this series, and I like Westerns.  Written, drawn, and lettered by Bo Hampton and with colors by Jeremy Mohler, 3 Devils is also a bittersweet revenge story in the vein of I Spit on Your Grave and so many others.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Velvet #14

Velvet: The Man Who Stole the World, Issue #14 begins with a CIA agent attempting to track Velvet Templeton and Damian Lake, who had a gunfight in the previous issue.  Rachel Tanner is in the mix, but she has fled the country with dyed hair and a fake passport.  Everyone's in the wind, or so he tells the Senator.  Max is dead.  It's August 7, 1974, according to a newspaper that says, "Nixon Won't Resign."  Yup, it's definitely a Watergate story, which piqued my interest.

For those younger people, who didn't live through the time - I did, but as a toddler - it's hard to think of a President of the United States being held accountable for a minor crime such as the break-in of a room to plant listening devices, but that's what happened.  On June 17, 1972, five agents broke into the Democratic Party Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel and Office Complex.  They were caught.  One of the five burglars claimed to be a former CIA agent, and another was a GOP security aide.  A $25,000 check from the Nixon Campaign was discovered in the bank account of one of the burglars.

Despite this being in all the newspapers, Nixon won the November 11, 1972 election by a landslide, earning a whopping 60% of the popular vote, beating Senator George McGovern of South Dakota.  What followed was a groundbreaking series of events culminating in one of the greatest journalistic investigations in history.  On January 30, 1973, several high-ranking Nixon aides were convicted of burglary.  After a Supreme Court case, Nixon was forced to hand over tapes that implicated him in the Watergate scandal.  On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee passed the first article of impeachment against Nixon.  Two more were to follow.  Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974.

To impeach a president, he needs to commit a crime, and Nixon did.  He was never convicted of that crime because after he resigned, President Gerald Ford pardoned him.  I read this issue with my jaw dropped open.  I don't want to give away too much, but of course, it involves the Watergate break-in, and of course... it's to be continued in the next issue, which I assume will be the final issue.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: A Spoon Too Short #3


Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: A Spoon Too Short, Issue #3 begins a new arc, "Poached Like Salmon."  It starts 15 years in the past, when Dirk Gently is at a U.S. military research base, where nefarious U.S. government agents are testing a young Dirk Gently's psychic abilities using high technology.  In the present, Gently is in Kenya after "talking" with an elephant and declaring that he solved the problem of the N'Kawa tribe that lost their voices.  Meanwhile in London, where the Kingdom-Brown family is being sequestered in a hospital, Susan McDuff plays her cello for the patients, and lo and behold, they sing!  Jibberish, of course.

Dirk Gently's brilliance and stupidity are both on display in this chapter, as is Ilias Kyriazis's beautiful artwork, which I noted in my review of A Spoon Too Short, Issue #2.  I particularly liked the page where there were jigsaw puzzle pieces floating through the air, implying that Dirk Gently is about to make a connection.  I did note with some sadness that the rhino poaching operations in Kenya, Namibia,and South Africa reminded me of Douglas Adams's non-fiction work, Last Chance to See.  In that book, Adams recounted that rhino poachers made only $10 for a rhino horn.  He pointed out the difficulty in simply paying the poachers $10 not to poach the horn because then they'll poach the horn anyway and have $20.

Right now, rhino horns are big business for Boko Haram and other terrorist groups, with a single horn fetching not $10, but $300,000 on the black market.  With money like that floating around, there is simply no reason for them not to poach rhino horns, especially when Boko Haram has advanced weaponry.  There have been reports in Uganda that helicopters have been used to poach elephants, and I don't know how long it will be before they're used to poach rhinos as well.

So, is the solution zoo breeding?  The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has had remarkable success breeding captive rhinos, which then get sent to other zoos.  Similarly, zoos often take in elephants marked for culling in the wild for various reasons but mostly because they're past their breeding age and cause trouble in their native lands.  I fully support this, although I am wary of keeping any migrating animal pent up in an enclosure.  Elephants travel six to 10 miles per day in the wild, and migrate hundreds of miles seasonally.  This is a part of their basic nature, and by putting them in even sizable exhibits, we're taking away this basic nature of what it means to be an elephant.  It is the same for rhinos.  When we take them out of the reserves and into zoos, we're depriving them of one of their basic fundamental aspects of being.

Enough, enough.  Buy the comic.  It's good.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

International Iron Man #2

International Iron Man, Issue #2 begins in 1996, where that timeline left off in Issue #1.  Tony Stark has been shot, and he is recuperating in the palatial Spain mansion of the Gillespie family.  Tony's adopted father, Howard Stark, is a rival of the Gillespies, and Tony and Cassandra Gillespie are dating.  Howard Stark seems to put a stop to this, but you know... true love.  Superheroes, supervillains,  Weapons dealers.  H.Y.D.R.A.  The second half of the comic is a battle between Stark and Cassandra's forces, where Issue #1 left off.

I like the layout of the comic, with long, thin panels at the top of most of the two-page spreads.  It's a really nice action adventure on top of being a love story that might turn out to be a "honey pot."  Howard Stark suggests this, and the next issue is titled "Honey Pot."  This of course refers to the classic spy maneuver where a pretty girl tempts a high-value target.  The most famous example of this is Mordechai Vanunu, an employee at a nuclear facility in Israel.  He took a camera to work one day and leaked the photos to the British press in 1986.  The news was out: Israel has the Bomb.  Of course now we know that Israel developed its nuclear capabilities in the 1960s or earlier and greatly expanded them in the 1970s with the help of the Nixon Administration, Britain, and Norway, among other parties.  Vanunu was sequestered in England until he met a girl.  The girl turned out to be a Mossad agent, and she helped kidnap Vanunu and bring him back to Israel, where he served over 20 years in prison.

There is also the side story of Tony Stark trying to find out who his real father is.  I think that story will drive further issues, as a simple romance/honey pot mixed with a battle can't last forever.  Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Alex Maleev, this is just an all-around great title.  It really shows that Marvel has come a long way in the past five or 10 years, embracing more modern stories which have been featured in the likes of independent publishers, like Image, IDW, BOOM! Studios, and Dynamite.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ultimate X-Men, Vol. 1

Ultimate X-Men, Vol.: The Tomorrow People is a title I picked up at the Chula Vista Library.  It caught my eye because I like the Ultimate Spider-Man series and because Mark Millar is a boss.  Containing the first six issues of the Ultimate X-Men series, The Tomorrow People is a reboot of the franchise from about 15 years ago.  The basic story is the conflict between mutants and humans.  Many of the mutants, including Wolverine, have gathered together under Magneto, hoping to rid the world of non-humans.  The remaining mutants are being protected by Professor Xavier in his school, or they are being hunted.

The Canadian sequential artist known as Seth has been one of the biggest critics of the Marvel style of art, and as mostly a reader of current Marvel comics, I never could understand this.  Moreover, I found the pencils of Adam (Issues #1 through #4) and Andy Kubert (Issues #5 and #6) very detailed and interesting, using the lignes claire style I talked about in my review of Jacques Tardi's The Arctic Marauder.  Andy Kubert is an artist on the very popular Dark Knight III comic, which I hope to begin reviewing.  They are both instructors and graduates of their late father's art school, the Kubert School.  I did read an old copy of the book, so I found the coloring to be a little drab, but I think that's from overuse.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Aloha, Hawaiian Dick #1

Aloha Hawaiian Dick #1 (of 4)

Aloha, Hawaiian Dick, Issue #1 takes place in Hawaii in 1954.  Danny Byrd recounts his adventures in Hawaii to a reporter as a framing device.  It's the beginning of the third arc in the Hawaiian Dick series, the first two being Byrd of Paradise and The Last Resort, which I haven't read.  We see Mike Byrd, Danny's younger brother, on a case in suburban Kansas City.  This leads to him almost being killed after being caught trying to photograph a mob boss with his client's wife.  The mob boss, Bobby Garozzo, catches him, but since Danny Byrd was friends with Garozzo, the mob boss offers Mike another case, worth $2,000.

The case, of course, takes him to Hawaii.  The entire style of artwork changes, becomes much darker when he gets to Honolulu.  The straight lines are gone, and the coloring is primarily purples and oranges, with black lines.  Even the way the faces are drawn is different, more haphazard.  It's tough to think of what Hawaii was like in 1954, before statehood, but artist Jacob Wyatt does a great job of making it look like a bleak, dark place.  Wyatt also serves as the letterer.

I found myself rereading sections of this comic and understanding it better.  Mike Byrd is addicted to gambling, and he goes to a house where there's some action.  Mose, the owner of the house, who runs the game, tells him, "I got a couple of KC Monarchs in there," referring to the Negro League team.  Mose also talks about a rumor involving the Athletics moving to Kansas City.  The Philadelphia Athletics moved to Kansas City in 1955 before finding a permanent home in Oakland in 1968.  The creators really know the era.

Hyperion #2

Hyperion (2016) #2

Hyperion, Issue #2 was a "bubble" title.  I liked the first issue well enough, but it wasn't until today, six days after I bought it, when I finally felt like reading it.  I have gotten a little behind in my "floppy" reading.  I just got into Lazarus today, and East of West is still in its bag.  To put it bluntly, I needed something at around a fifth-grade reading level.  Hyperion reminds me of a quote I read the other day about superhero stories.  Although some Marvel comics may be easy on the brain, they don't compete with Nickelodeon; they compete with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I'm paraphrasing.  Mark Millar?).  Hyperion is rated Teen +.

The story does advance.  Although Doll is safe for now, she's pressing Hyperion into the superhero business.  He wants nothing but to be rid of her so he can go back to being a lonely truck driver, but that isn't the type of story that operas are about, to paraphrase Niles Crane.  Hyperion has tremendous powers but mediocre motivation; he's as reluctant a hero as you'll come across in a comic book.  When a man comes into the diner they're eating in, talking about how he lost his daughter to a bizarre, unexplained event, Doll promises that she, Hyperion, and the dog will help him out.

Of course to me, helping someone out in that situation would be getting him counselling and just being a friend to him, that isn't the type of story that operas are about.  Hyperion, Doll, and the dog go looking for the mysterious worm-creature, but what will they find?  This is another solid outing; I'm hooked.  The artwork, the coloring, and the lettering are all on point (for more details, read my review of Hyperion, Issue #1).

Lazarus Sourcebook Vol. 01: Carlyle

Lazarus Sourcebook Vol. 01: Carlyle is a prose manuscript with scant illustrations.  I know this might not be the favorite genre of comic-book readers judging by the response to Lazarus, Issue #16, which is very word heavy.  Further, while Issue #16 was around 2,000 words, the sourcebook is around 8,000 to 10,000 words (both my estimates).  The question is really whether or not Greg Rucka can cross genres, although given that he has written many successful novels, I think this is the case.

The highlight for me of this sourcebook is the maps, and my favorite written section is the one on commerce and crime.  It's definitely a lot to take in, and I didn't read it all in one go.  There are still some sections that I skimmed, which I'll have to go back and read.  Lazarus represents an ecological and political disaster, and as much as it's easy to picture myself living in this world, I would hate to do so.  About 90% of the population in Carlyle is "waste," and 90% of the people live in abject misery.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Arctic Marauder

The Arctic Marauder is Jacques Tardi's 1974 adventure in the Arctic Ocean.  Taking place in 1889, The Arctic Marauder is the story of a passenger aboard the L'Anjou, Jerome Plumier.  A physician, Plumier volunteers to help explore a ship found beset on a thin iceberg.  He and seven other men climb the iceberg to the trapped ship, to see if there are any survivors.  As they climb aboard the phantom vessel, the L'Anjou mysteriously explodes, and they are marooned on the the Iceland-Loafer.

This is a fantastic adventure story in the vein of Robinson Crusoe or 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea and perhaps even a notable piece of sequential art, printed in English for the first time by Fantagraphics in 2011.  Tardi won two Eisner Awards that year for It Was the War of the Trenches, and I'll definitely be looking for that work.  Tardi uses the ligne claire or "clear lines" style, using strong lines of the same width throughout, sometimes replacing shading.  This style was introduced to mainstream sequential art by Herge of the Tin Tin comics.

Also taking cues from mystery novels, The Arctic Marauder leaves clues in the form of bizarre situations throughout the novel, all of which are resolved in good time, making it compulsively readable.  Moreover, it captures the imagination of the late 19th century and its lust for electric technology.  Call it steampunk, call it icepunk.  In the end, it's just a great story with great art.  Recommended.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

20th Century Boys Vol. 16

20th Century Boys, Volume 16 begins in 1970, when the World Exposition is coming to Osaka.  We see 1970 from the point of view of Sadakiyo or Fukube.  Sadakiyo wears a mask and is picked on by all his classmates, all except Fukube, who only tolerates him.  Sadakiyo works hard to become friends with Kenji's group.  He lets them read his extensive manga collection, but they mostly ignore him.  The part in 1970 has a dreamlike quality to it.  We don't know if they are really there, or if it is just part of the game in Friendland.  Perhaps the game allows the user to change the past.  Fukube grows up to become the Friend, so it's likely we're seeing it from his viewpoint.

The series does become a little confusing at times.  Earlier on, we thought that Sadakiyo would grow up to be the Friend.  Is Fukube just a character in the game?  We come to the 2014 timeline (2017?  2018?), where a group of kids are waiting to watch puroresu.  The grandfather of one of them dreams wistfully of the past, of steak dinners, of Antonio Inoki.  Inoki was a professional wrestler popular from the 1960s through 1990s, who became the promoter of New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972.

I like the renewed focus on childhood antics in this volume, although the post-apocalyptic timeline was a little hard to follow.  It features new characters mixed with a few old characters.  I really can't say enough good things about this series; it's great.  Take a look at the cover.  You're seeing 1970 from Fukube's point of view.  A lot of the first half of the volume is like that, as if you're playing a game, and this is what you see.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Huck #6

Huck, Issue #6 starts with Huck and his mother, Anna, escaping from their holding cell in Siberia.  They do battle with the two A.I.s Professor Orlov has built, but can they capture the professor, himself?  He's doing his best to flee the two meta-humans, but they're hot on his tail.  And remember, Huck is an expert at finding people.  And Anna has the power to order people to do anything.  How can they lose?

Rafael Albuquerque's art and Dave McCaig's coloring are on point, as usual, and I've written about them in previous reviews of this series.  I will say that the pair is very good at creating the illusion of movement, of motion.  They also understand shade very well.  They're true artists.  Nate Piekos of Blambot letters the issue, and he uses the style I like, with horizontal lines pointing slightly up to the right.

Mark Millar is a very prolific writer, and although it saddens me to see this series end (I collected all the variant covers, which are movie references), there are plenty of other titles by this author.  Chrononauts is one of my favorites, and I like Empress so far.  I have Jupiter's Legacy in trade paperback, but I haven't read it yet, and those are just a few of many titles in Millarworld.  Mark Millar has become one of my go-to authors in the world of comics.

Friday, April 22, 2016

C.O.W.L, Vol. 2

C.O.W.L., Volume 2: The Greater Good is the second and most likely the final installment of the series about Chicago Organized Workers League, C.O.W.L.  It's your basic superhero story with a twist.  There's always a twist.  C.O.W.L. is a unionized group of superheroes in Chicago in the 1960s, and they're on strike.  Lucky for them, there are some super-powered villains on the loose, but is that mere coincidence?  Things get even more ominous when one of C.O.W.L.'s members is found dead with "SCAB" burned into his forehead.  A "scab" is someone who breaks union lines during a strike, of course, and it looks like the victim was murdered by someone in C.O.W.L.

The art, particularly the line art by Rod Reis is very detailed.  It really looks different from every other comic I've been reading recently; it's awesome.  Volume 2 contains Issue #7 through Issue #11.  The writing duty is split between Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel.  I will say that it's sad to see a fine series like this end with fewer than a dozen issues.  Of course, comic-book politics are just as convoluted as Chicago politics, and I don't know what went on behind the scenes.

This book has been on my to-buy list for some time, but when I saw it at the San Diego Downtown Library, I finally picked it up.  It's a fun title, and if you liked Volume 1, you'll definitely want to read Volume 2 to see how it concludes.  There are so many strong aspects to this series: setting, timing, characterization, scope...  I'll happily read more from its creators.

Cry Havoc #4

Cry Havoc, Issue #4 begins in the Red Place, where the rogue monstess Louise has come to kill keeps Julia captive.  As we found out in Issue #3, Louise is pregnant, probably with another different person. In Afghanistan, the different soldiers come across a rouge lithium mine.  It's been estimated that the lithium in Afghanistan is worth $2,000,000,000,000, and remember, on 9/10/2001, George W. Bush got the plans to invade Afghanistan on his desk.

I found the dialogue between Louise and the monstress almost quotable, and I found the action in Afghanistan startlingly accurate, from the rouge lithium mine down to the drawing of the drone.  Of course, there's plenty of weirdness added in, and that makes the series so interesting.  The same way Tin Tin matched hyper-realistic backgrounds with iconic faces, Cry Havoc matches hyper-realistic situations with unrealistic situations.

With Issue #4 in the bag, the first arc is nearing an end (Cry Havoc, Volume 1: Mything in Action is slated to contain Issue #1 through Issue #6).  I think Louise will try to escape the Red Place in Issue #5 or Issue #6 and try to return to London somehow; however, the trichotomy between London, Afghanistan, and the Red Place suits the series well.  Perhaps the story of the Red Place could continue without Louise in it.  In fact, this could be the case at some point in the future.  Most likely, Louise will remain in the Red Place.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #4

Spider-Man/Deadpool, Issue #4 is about Spider-Man and Deadpool going on a double date.  Spider-Man, in the guise of Leonardo Dicaprio, an African-American entrepreneur, is dating Jenny, a beautiful workaholic with whom Spider-Man gets along with swimmingly.  Deadpool's date is Thor.  And of course there's a girl-fight.  And a man-dance-off.  How could Spider-Man and Deadpool's bromance go wrong?  Oh, yeah.  Deadpool is bent on killing Peter Parker, who unbeknownst to him is Spider-Man.

Ed McGuinness is the penciler, and he does a good job portraying Thor in the low-light situation of a bar.  Jason Keith is the color artist, and I could go on and on about what I like about his colors.  There are a lot of reds, yellows, and oranges, with occasional greens and blues to set them off.  VC's Joe Sabino is the letterer, and while his "Asgardian" letters aren't exactly the same as in Thor, they're still really good, and I like them.

I've really enjoyed the Spider-Man/Deadpool comic so far.  They play well off each other, and this is a particularly good issue.  The dance-off is well done, with Spider-Man break dancing and Deadpool barely moving, like a sixth-grader at a sock hop.  I've read the first trade paperback of the female Thor, but I never imagined she could be this funny.  Of course, she's drawn a little differently than in the Thor comics, as there are different artists in each title.  The cliffhanger ending is spectacular.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dragon Ball Z, Vol. 1

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 1 is the beginning the second part of one of the most successful manga series of all time.  Originally published from 1984 to 1995, the 42 tankoban volumes of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z have sold 150,000,000 copies in Japan alone and 230,000,000 worldwide, third only to Golo 13 (280,000,000 copies) and One Piece (380,000,000 copies).  Naruto is the only other series to sell over 200,000 copies.  For more info on the best selling manga of all time, click here.  Moreover, Dragon Ball has served as inspiration for many top manga artists; it started a revolution in manga and anime.  The volume released in America is as Dragon Ball Z, Volume 1, is actually Dragon Ball, Volume 17.  I found this volume at the Chula Vista Public Library.

Okay, so we've skipped Son Goku's childhood and his battle with Piccolo.  He's married and has a son.  He's the greatest martial artist the world has ever known.  What next?  Aliens, or an alien.  His name is Raditz, and he is Goku's brother.  As it turns out, Goku was sent to Earth as a child to exterminate all humans.  Raditz goes on to say that Goku's real name is Kakarrot.  As the story goes, Goku suffered a blow to the head when he was a baby, and after that, he was kind and sweet, with no memory of his mission as a Saiyan warrior, one of the four or five most powerful beings in the universe.  To defeat Raditz, Goku must team up with his old nemesis, Piccolo, but will that be enough?

I found this volume to be not quite as clever as Hunter X Hunter and not as beautifully drawn as One Piece, but just as fun as either of them.  It's the prototype of a Shonen Jump title, and a lot of the ideas expanded upon in later series were developed in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z.  The Shonen Jump magazine that published Dragon Ball in Japan had votes as to what readers wanted to see in future titles.  Former rivals teaming up to defeat a stronger opponent was always a theme readers enjoyed.  Dragon Ball Z is a cultural icon in Japan and arguably the most important media achievement of the 1980s.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Empress #1

Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen’s EMPRESS # 1 Preview Brings Sci-fi to Prehistoric Earth

Empress, Issue #1 is Mark Millar's tale of an antediluvian (Google) civilization gone bad. The Emperor is insane, enacting bizarre punishments on his citizens, and the Empress knows it's time to escape with her three children.  A mix of high technology and dinosaurs, this long-forgotten civilization mysteriously vanished from the Earth without a trace millions of years ago, but why?  And how?  And is that even relevant to the conversation?  The Kingdom is a hyperspace-enabled culture that tours the stars, to boot.  And we know that an asteroid is bent on hitting the Earth around the time this story takes place.

The story is actually quite straightforward, without heavy dialogue or any narration to speak of, except on the first page or so.  The Bible tells us that before the Flood, there were advanced civilizations that spoke one language (the Tower of Babel was after the Flood, I think).  At one point, antediluvian science-fiction was somewhat common, but as science turned up less and less evidence of a world-wide Flood, it was abandoned, not that a specific flood is even mentioned in this comic.  It merely states that there were advanced civilizations before our own, and this is one of them.

It's pretty cool.  Who doesn't like insane emperors?  Stuart Immonen is the penciller, and although I've been aware of his work for some time, I haven't written about it on this blog.  It's excellent.  He gives a strong impression of size, of giant structures and spaceships.  I love how he shows the Empress flirting with her husband in the one panel, her eyes moistened and dilated, and then shows her cold, telling the captain of the guard, "we need to get out of here."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Superior Iron Man, Vol. 2

Superior Iron Man, Volume 2 continues the Superior Iron Man story.  In Volume 1, Tony Stark becomes slightly less than altruistic.  In Volume 2, he turns full-on evil, Pepper Potts notices, and she fights back, unleashing Tony Stark's conscious stored from eight years earlier.  So, there are two Tony Starks, the one with the body and one using an old Iron Man suit, and the two go at it.  Caught in the middle of everything is Jamie, the green-skinned 13-year-old monster from the previous volume.  So, they battle it out.  The old Tony vs. the evil Tony vs. Pepper Pots.  I knew this series ended after nine issues, so I was aware that some resolution was coming, but I was nowhere near guessing what that resolution might be.

I like the evil Iron Man, and although I haven't read much of the "Superior" line, I am very roughly familiar with the story.  I could go on and on about the linework, the lettering, and whatnot, although that would be somewhat difficult since there is a rotating cast of artists on this series.  Instead, I'm simply going to say this.  If you read Superior Iron Man, Volume 1, you HAVE to read Superior Iron Man, Volume 2.  If you haven't read either, you should probably read both.

Autumnlands #10

The Autumnlands #10 by Kurt Busiek & Ben Dewey

Autumnlands, Issue #10 sees Dusty and Learoyd traveling further into the ancient mountains, looking for the pathogen or magic that has been poisoning the sheep people.  As they approach the source of the trouble, two things happen. They come across more and more animals that have been changed, mutated (see cover), and Dusty's magic is getting stronger.  There's a priceless joke about primitive human beings coming out in election years. I don't know if this is a direct jab at Donald Trump or at the people who follow him, most likely the latter. Heck, according to some Bernie Sanders supporters, just about all the other candidates are subhuman.  Me, I'm a fair ways left of Bernie Sanders.  I don't like his plan to arm the Saudis, and I don't like his anti-GMO/anti-science stance. Although I might vote for Sanders in the primary, Jill Stein is my candidate.

Really, this title is a perfect storm of talent.  There is always plenty of attention given to the writing, and I've already spoke about Kurt Busiek's contributions to Autumnlands for the past three paragraphs, so let me get into some of the particulars of the artwork.  The lines growing stronger and thicker as the light fades away is always a good sign.  Benjamin Dewey knows what he's doing.  Jordie Bellaire takes care of the colors, adding to Dewey's spectacular work.  I also like the unique lettering by John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft.  There are two main lettering styles: Dusty's narration, which is in all caps, and the dialogue, which uses upper- and lower-case letters.  There are a few variations, of course, such as italics.

Autumnlands is one of those titles that I like to guess what's coming next.  There are plenty of hints.  Dusty's magic is becoming stronger, so it's unlikely that they'll find something from our universe, like a nuclear power plant or a factory making weapons or trinkets, as cool as that might be.  There is the stone woman, who seems to be cracking and giving off energy, but who or what is she? More to the point, she looks human, like Learoyd and the princess he met a few issues ago.  I can't help but think that this arc has something to do with the human world, although my gut tells me this isn't the case.

Friday, April 15, 2016

20th Century Boys, Vol. 15

20th Century Boys, Volume 15 begins in the Vatican, Rome, where Brother Luciano is toasting the Friend before making a journeyed to the home of his recently deceased mentor, Father Perrin.  The Continental setting of the beginning of this volume reminds me of two other long series by Naoki Urasawa, Monster and Master Keaton.  Before his death, Father Perrin was studying books of prophecy, and now Brother Luciano has the opportunity to move into Father Perrin's study and continue his work.  He discovers that Father Perrin had been obsessed with a book of recent origin masquerading as an ancient text.  It hints that the End Times are coming, and soon.  It also suggests that there are agents of the Friend in the Vatican, itself.

The ensuing drama connects to the main story and to an old character, a friend and of Kanna's, who we haven't seen for a while.  It's really a great adventure, and unlike some of the other storylines in 20th Century Boys, it directly connects to the story instead of being a mere character study, much like the "Father Zosima" section of The Brothers Karamazov.  Really, the story combines the three main elements: adventure, characterization, and plot, producing a very engaging story.  And humor.  Urasawa does it all.

Eichiro Oda (One Piece) and Shigeru Mizuki (Showa: A History of Japan, various other works) are best known for creating insanely large casts and bringing minor players out of the woodwork to support the main cast from time to time.  Naoki Urusawa takes this to an extreme, combining a large cast of characters but showing the change in their faces over decades, from the late 1960s to the mid-2010s.  He also has a very modern way of depicting buildings and structures.  The artwork of 20th Century Boys more than equals the writing of 20th Century Boys.

Monstress #5

Monstress, Issue #5 begins with a short flashback to seven years earlier, when Tuva and Maika were struggling to survive.  In the present, when she hopes to once again meet up with Tuva, she is met by a member of the Dusk Court, a high-ranking branch of the Arcanic military.  While both sides of the human-Arcanic conflict are matriarchal in nature, Corvin D'oro, First Watchman of the Dusk Court, is a man.  He wants Maika Halfwolf to go north with him.

I love the contrasts in this issue.  The artwork is beautiful, but Maika is as crude as can be, cursing without a thought and pissing on the ground without bothering to go in the bushes.  Back in the human realm, Sophia is looking in a mirror at the burns on her face while Atena is drumming up support for war against the Arcanics and against Maika in particular.  Yes, burned faces.  Mutilated and executed Arcanics.  And a kiss.  War is coming.

This is a difficult comic to read but an easy one to enjoy.  There is a lot of dialogue, and I know that turns off some readers.  Me?  I pay $3.99 for an issue, and I want to get as much enjoyment out of it as possible.  I'm mostly surprised that 192 pages into this series, it's still coming out monthly.  I know that the top writers in comics often put out multiple series at once, but they take breaks and don't put out material every month.  July 19 is when these first five issues come out in trade paperback, and I can heartily recommend it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mockingbird #2

Mockingbird, Issue #2 is a short story about Mockingbird, along with Lance Hunter, infiltrating the London Hellfire Club to foil an assassination plot.  Hunter has pledged the Hellfire Club, and has agreed to undergo torture to join the group.  It's all very S&M.  While Mockingbird is mostly about Agent 19's healthcare, this issue is important in it showing her in a heroic, devil-may-care adventure.  If she were just shown going to the doctor every issue and freaking out, the title would end up being, lame, pathetic, and pedantic.  I'm glad they did this issue.

This issue shows the fun, campy side of Marvel.  It is nowhere near as strong as Issue #1, and the main villain is hardly multi-faceted.  Her minions are literally dressed up in leather with masks (it is an S&M club), and Mockingbird and Hunter are dressed to match, although without the masks.  What makes Mockingbird so interesting is Agent 19 herself.  Although she seems mostly competent in this adventure, she's becoming an alcoholic, and she has other serious mental problems.

I always look at the hair of the characters when evaluating a comic.  In particular, Lance Hunter's hair is mostly the same black, but its highlights range from white to blue to dark gray, and they vary by texture.  Colorist, Rachelle Rosenberg has really done her job, as has artist, Kate Niemczyk.  I've written about VC's Joe Caramanga on multiple reviews, and his lettering is on point, as always.  What really rules about this comic is the way the background of the party seems just a tad out of focus, as if the candlelight isn't enough to see everyone clearly.  There's a lot that I'm probably missing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Woods #21

The Woods, Issue #21 begins with a flashback to nine months earlier, when Maria was planning out the new city, and everything was going well.  Now she's dead, and Sanami, Karen and Sander have returned to the school/city to reconnoiter the Horde and the students that joined them.  Nothing.  Gone. They return to New London, where the Bay Point students have built a tent village.  They have a little political power, and at least they haven't been swallowed up by the Horde.

I love the coloring by Josan Gonzalez, in particular how the many flashbacks have a duller tone to them.  With a lesser colorist, the multiple flashbacks would have been confusing.  The bizarre landscape, flora, and fauna illustrated by Michael Dialynas are always a treat.  I've been reading this title for less than a year, but I feel like I've lived on this fantastic moon, orbiting a gas giant, orbiting an unknown star.

The feature of Issue #21 is the relationship between Calder and Karen.  The comic flashes back to when they were together, intimate.  The flashbacks give new impressions of what Calder's motivation was in initially siding with his brother.  It is a little Days of Our Lives, with a teenage love triangle, only science fiction and in the middle of a war.  Calder and Sander, two of people in this love triangle, do decide something at the end of this comic.  I won't spoil it, but it leads The Woods in a new direction.

Spritz, Part 5: Overdrive

Overdrive is a library app and website you can use to Spritz on your computer.  Here's what you need to set it up:
  • A library card
  • A library PIN (you can get one at your local library)
  • A computer
  • Just about any web browser
  • The "Spritzlet" program for your browser you can get here 
Now I'll walk you through the steps to set up Spritzlet with Overdrive.  Go to the Overdrive website at and create an account using your library card number and PIN.  From there, you can search your library's collection with your web browser.  I checked out Salem's Lot by Stephen King.  I'm currently reading As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson on Spritz using the Readme app, but I wanted to make sure that I could rent books and read them using Spritz.  

Your library system might be different, but here's how mine works: you can either download the book in ePub or Mobi format into your overdrive account on your phone, device, or computer (unfortunately, only the Overdrive program will open these files), or you can read the book in the browser.  So far, there's no way to Spritz using the Overdrive app, so you should open the book in your browser.  I use Google Chrome.  From there, once the book is opened, you can click on "Spritzlet" on your favorites bar, and it will begin.  

I really think that Spritz is the future of reading, but I also enjoy audiobooks.  You can get audiobooks through Overdrive and download audiobooks onto your phone.  I did this with Finders Keepers by Stephen King, and I've already begun listening to it.  Anyway, if you have any questions, hit me up on the comments, or email me.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

20th Century Boys 14

20th Century Boys, Volume 14, published in 2003, takes place in the 2014- timeline.  Kenji died in 2000, on "Bloody New Year's Eve," when he saved Japan from a giant robot, although history (written by the Friends) has branded him a terrorist.  The Friend is dead, killed by former Friends microbiologist, Yamane, and Manjome Inshu has taken his place.  Now Kyoko, along with Yoshitsune,is ready to enter the virtual world.  Kanna, Kyoko, and the remaining resistance fighters break into Friend World to do so.  In the virtual world, they are in 1971.  This transitions into a flashback to 1971 and a revelation which I won't give away here.

I've been reading more manga the past few days, and I love it.  20th Century Boys is perhaps Naoki Urasawa's greatest series, although I do love Monster and Master Keaton, both of which I have to catch up with.  I also have the complete Pluto, based on Osamu Tezuka's Astroboy.  I didn't know how much I'd like 20th Century Boys after Kenji dies, but Urasawa has a unique ability to eat up scenes and develop characters.  His artwork is spectacular, too, as most of the characters appear in three timelines or more, ranging from 1971 to 2014 and onward.

A unique fight between Good and Evil, 20th Century Boys runs 22 volumes, plus two volumes of 21st Century Boys. I can only guess at what is going to happen; if I'm right, it'll look like I read further volumes, and if I'm wrong, it'll look like I'm stupid, so I won't on this review.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Old Man Logan #4

Old Man Logan, Issue #4 confirms what was hinted at in Issue #2 and Issue #3: Logan is in the past, but it's not his past.  In this universe, Wolverine is dead.  Still, a lot remains unanswered.  What universe is he in, and how did the Wolverine in that universe die?  Will David Banner go bad in this universe, creating the Villain's Uprising and going to stud, leaving behind packs of Hulk children and grandchildren that rule Earth brutally?

This universe has an old Captain America, and it resembles the main Marvel Universe; it has the female Thor and the New Hulk, but a dead Wolverine?  And what universe did Old Man Logan live in before he was hurled back to the present in a flash of light?  I think the idea of a bunch of Hulks on the loose, terrorizing everyone, is kinda' cool.  I think it's kinda' cool that Old Man Logan started fighting again.  In short, I like this story by Jeff Lemire.

I've sung the praises of Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo before, but the detail in this comic still impresses me.  I love how everything turns red when Old Man Logan unsheathes his adamantium claws.  Logan looks so old, and Kate Bishop so young.  I probably said that in my review of Issue #3, but it deserves to be said again.  Old Man Logan has atmosphere; it has panache.  At its heart, it is a mystery story, and I can't help but guess what's to come:

Each issue until now has ended with a teaser about a battle in the following issue.  "Wolverine vs. Hawkeye," "Wolverine vs. the Hulk," "Wolverine vs. Captain America."  This issue ends with Old Man Loan in the borderlands of Canada, no ensuing fight promised.  The story does progress, but it makes me wonder what is to come in this series.  I'm hoping for Old Man Logan to go on another killing spree, but so far, he's only killed one person in the present.


Solanin is a slice-of-life story about a recent college graduate, Meiko.  She's been working as an office girl for two years, and she hates it.  Her boyfriend, Naruo, has a part-time job as an illustrator, but his real dream is to become a rock star.  They live together, but she mostly supports him because he can't get a full-time job.  The band isn't really going anywhere, but after Meiko quits her job, she realizes that Naruo has a dream, and that he should chase it.

I just love Inio Asano's work.  Sure, there have been plenty of movies, comics, and TV shows that have captured the "slacker" generation, but very few that I have seen have captured that generation in Japan.  I can relate to the characters.  While I like my grant writing and my editing, my true passion is reading comics and writing this blog.  At some point, endeavors like this go beyond hobbies and become micro-careers.  I remember when I first started making money teaching piano, guitar, and drum lessons.  I thought I'd MADE it.  Then, after six months of singing melody lines along with 9-year-old kids taking lessons, my voice gave out.  I couldn't teach piano lessons anymore, and I started writing novels.  I still do, although the only remuneration I get from that is the rare stranger actually reading one of my books.

Solanin is a sad story; it speaks of loss and depression.  Meiko, right after quitting her job, suddenly finds that she has a lot of time on her hands but doesn't know what to do with it.  Meanwhile, her friends in Naruo's band are experts in killing time, employing a technique I once used on my days off a long time ago: getting drunk at the zoo.  The artwork is somewhat reminiscent of Tin-Tin, with hyper-realistic backgrounds and iconic characters.  Naruo's Fender Mustang guitar and Vox amplifier are drawn to exacting detail, while Naruo looks cartoonish.  I love this book.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Black Butler IX

Black Butler Volume IX is the beginning of yet another major arc, this one involving two interesting visitors. In 1889 England, the Queen herself has sent her two butlers to inform the Earl Ciel Phantomhive that he shall be hosting a dinner party honoring a certain German person who is a distant relative to the Queen, herself.  The other visitor is an impoverished occultist and writer, through whose eyes we see the events of this arc.  The Earl, Ciel Phantomhive, is of course but a boy, and his esteemed butler, Sebastian, is a devil from hell.  They are both quite capable and knowledgeable in all matters, and their longstanding guests, the prince, Soma Asman Kadar, and his servant, Agni, test their patience at every turn.

I can't believe that it's been a year since I read this title even though I had Volume IX through Volume XIII sitting on my shelf.  Yana Toboso knows such a wide variety of topics and is able to incorporate them into Black Butler so seamlessly.  I still have fond memories of the curry cook-off between Sebastian and Agni.  In Volume IX, not only is a lavish party with famous guests from the 19th century effected, but each guest has something to add to the conversation.  It is all so nice; however, it comes as no surprise when the first murder occurs.  This is a dark tale.

I'm glad I started this new arc; quitting a favorite comic or manga is easy when an arc ends, starting again, hard.  I haven't read One Piece in nearly as long, and I've only read a little bit of Hunter x HunterMonsterMaster Keaton20th Century Boys, and Akira.  Those are the series I used to read regularly, and when I started buying more Marvel, Image and single-issue/floppy comics, my consumption of manga waned.  I need to make a concerted effort to read more Japanese, European, and South American sequential art.  There are great people working on American and Canadian comics, but it's simply not good enough to ignore the rest of the world.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Ringworld: The Graphic Novel, Part One

Ringworld: The Graphic Novel, Part One is Robert Mandell's and Sean Lam's interpretation of the classic science-fiction novel by Larry Niven which has sparked some 20 sequels, including 12 detailing the Man-Kzin Wars.  For my original review of the novel, Ringworld, click here.  Since I started this blog, I've reviewed 70 comics and just that one novel.  I've read 20 novels in that time, but I decided to focus on comics, in particular new comics.  I do review older comics, like this one, and I'm kinda' in a bind.   I just spent a ton of money ordering and pre-ordering comics, so I'm skint.  Ringworld: The Graphic Novel only covers the first half of Ringworld, so I'll have to put off reading the second half for some time, which is too bad, because I love this graphic novel.

I generally don't like graphic-novel adaptations of classic stories.  There have been a few exceptions, like The People of Sparks, Artemis Fowl and Will Eisner's short adaptation of Moby Dick.  Ringworld is arguably better than all of them, but it suffers from being in black and white.  While I enjoy comics in color, about a third or a forth of the comics I read are in black and white.  Comics are drawn in black and white, and colored using Adobe or other programs, and almost never by the original artist.  I have a lot of respect for colorists, and I have even more respect for the rare comic artist like Jimmie Robinson who colors his own comics, but it's usually the illustrator who gets his or her name on the cover of the book.  Robert Mandell, who authored the adaptation, only gets a mention on the inside cover.  I don't know exactly how detailed he was in adapting this novel, but he arguably had the hardest and most important job on the project.

I know a lot of people don't like this adaptation, but you have to look at this adaptation as a gift from Mandell, Lam, and everyone else to Larry Niven fans and Ringworld fans, and it's a wonderful gift.  Sure, it's only paperback/manga sized, and it's not in color, but accepting it for what it is, you can enjoy it and have fun.  Heck, out of all the bad reviews I read of this book, a third of them complain that it's not in color, a third of them complain that it's too small, and a third complain that they meant to buy the original novel.  Do your research before buying books because when you don't, you only set yourself up for disappointment.

Spider-Man #3

Spider-Man, Issue #3 is the story of Miles Morales.  It starts with his Latino grandmother coming over to the house and berating him about his grades, taking away his phone and grounding him.  Ms. Marvel comes to visit him; anyone who's read Ms. Marvel knows that she's grounded 24/7, although her mother does figure out she's Ms. Marvel and cuts her some slack.  She's an expert at getting in and out of trouble, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her in this title.

It's still unclear what universe this takes place in, but I'm betting it's the Amazing Spider-Man's universe.  Here's why.  In the Ultimate Spider-Man universe, Peter Parker is dead, and Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man when he's 12.  One of the bad guys refers to Morales as the "new" Spider-Man.  I think that after the events of Spider-Men, when Peter Parker went to the Ultimate Spider-Man universe and met Miles Morales, he returned to his own universe and looked up the Miles Morales in his universe, helping him become Spider-Man.

I like the way Sara Pichelli and colorist Justin Ponsor use light in this title, particularly in the scenes in Miles's bedroom, with the light coming from the window and the hall as Ms. Marvel sneaks into his room, although the first half of the comic takes place over the course of maybe half an hour following Issue #2.  Issue #4 promises more action.

Justice League Dark, Vol. 1

Justice League Dark, Volume 1: In the Dark is the first volume in one of the 2011 "New 52" titles that lasted nearly the entire New 52 run.  This volume is written by Peter Milligan, and later volumes were written by Jeff Lemire.  The idea behind the book is that Superman and the regular Justice League superheroes are vulnerable to magic, so when Enchantress, a powerful sorceress, begins wreaking havoc on the world, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, and Superman are helpless.  Enter Justice League Dark.

The title isn't just dark in that it revolves around demons, magic, and tarot cards; the members of Justice League Dark themselves are dark and miserable.  Shade conjures a lover for himself, imbuing her with such realistic characteristics that she eventually leaves him.  Madame Xanadu can tell the future, but she abuses nitrous oxide or some other drug.  Deadman is, of course, dead, and the only way he can make love with his girlfriend Dawn is to inhabit the body of someone alive, only she won't go for it.  John Constantine is a hot mess, as always.  Zatanna seems like the best adjusted of the troupe, but how can she hold them together?

I don't really miss ranking comics from * to *****, and Justice League Dark is one of the titles I'd have a little trouble ranking.  I got it from the library, and I don't think I'd pay to read more of it, especially when I've already read tie-ins from Justice League and Justice League of America.  I haven't really liked the DC crossovers as of late, and Justice League Dark unfortunately gets caught up in those crossovers.  Still, I read this volume and enjoyed it when I had tons of other interesting things I could have read instead.  I didn't expect JLD to be very good, and because my expectations were very low, I enjoyed it more than I expected.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #1

Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Issue #1 is yet another new series in Marvel's popular Star Wars line of comics, and I'll be honest with you.  I haven't caught on with the various series as much as my love for the original trilogy would suggest.  I saw all seven movies in the theaters during their original runs.  During the 1990s, I read a good 30 novels in the Extended Universe, including many of Timothy Zahn's and Kevin J. Anderson's books.  While I liked The Force Awakens, I was so put off by the second trilogy that I fell out of love with the Star Wars universe.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the Star Wars novels were written by some of the biggest names in science fiction, like Greg Bear and the aforementioned Timothy Zahn.  In the Star Trek universe, Peter David, who's well known in the comics world, wrote some excellent "fan" fiction.  That brings me to Charles Soule.  He's a damn fine writer, and his work on this title only increased my interest in it, so I took the plunge.

Issue #1 is the story of Poe Dameron looking for Lor San Tekka, an explorer who knows the location of Luke Skywalker.  This ties in with The Force Awakens in how Dameron eventually meets up with Tekka, and gets information about where Skywalker is.  Basically, the issue tells of what happens just before The Force Awakens starts.  Dameron assembles Black Squadron, and they look for Lor San Tekka, with Dameron eventually meeting up with Tekka in the movie.

Artist Phil Noto captures Leia Organa pretty well.  A lesser artist would've made her too skinny or too young.  Organa, at this point, has been fighting and politicking for 40 years.  Her son trained as a jedi and turned to the dark side of the force.  She's no pin-up model.  In fact, the whole cast looks fairly windswept and ratty.  VC's Joe Caramagna is the letterer, and I've sung his praises in the past.  It's a neat little comic, and I'll probably buy Issue #2 when it comes out in four weeks.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Power Lines #1

Power Lines, Issue #1 takes a little bit of time to make its point, but I think I have it figured out.  The Native Americans used "power lines" to defend themselves until the 19th century, when they lost the power lines.  Now, the power lines have come back again, and two seemingly unconnected people have access to their power.  Wilson is a wannabe' gangster in Richmond, California, who travels with his crew up to Benicia, California, to tag the neighborhood and unbeknownst to him, break into cars.  In Benicia, he is being chased by the police when he suddenly has the ability to fly.

Sarah Bellingham is a 48-year-old widow with two sons who becomes the victim of one of the gangsters when he breaks into her car and steals her purse.  She's a racist, only when she gets to Richmond, she has super powers.  The power lines have returned.  A black kid has powers in Benicia, and a white woman has powers in Richmond.  All of this takes place in the Bay Area of California, where the power lines were in the first place.  Meanwhile, two Native Americans know what's going on; one of them watches the two.

This is definitely a unique take on the superhero genre, and it's well constructed.  The characters don't have any idea why they have super powers, and the reader only has a vague idea of what causes the characters to be able to tap into the power lines.  The characterization is strong.  Sarah Bellingham goes off on black people, calling them the N-word.  Of course, it's easier to become racist when one is in extremis.  Remember, in American History X, Danny Vinyard only becomes extremely racist after his father is killed by a gangster.

Jimmie Robinson does all the work in this comic, not only writing and drawing it but coloring and lettering it as well.  All aspects of this comic are good.  The lettering is clear and readable, the coloring is consistent and complementary, and the artwork is vivid and imaginative.  There are really three settings in the book, Richmond, Benicia, and Briones Regional Park, where one of the Native Americans is hunting a rabbit.  The park is a nice contrast to the two suburban areas.  Richmond is obviously dirtier than Benicia, but the two areas are more alike than dissimilar.  I think this is done on purpose.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Saga #35

Saga, Issue #35 begins with the Will tracking down the rogue Prince Robot IV.  He still has Upsher and Doff captive, and they're doing their best not to get too many innocent lives killed or ruined.  Prince Robot IV, of course, is with Marko and Alana, who are planning to storm  the prison on Landfall to save their daughter, Hazel.  They plan on using Prince Robot IV's status as a royal to get Landfall's defenses down.  Prince Robot IV can't appear as himself because he's a wanted criminal, but that doesn't mean he can't impersonate Count Robot XL.

This title is very engrossing, and I found myself tempted to skip to the end to see if Marko and Alana are finally reunited with Hazel and/or Marko's mom (I forget her name).  I don't absolutely love everything Brain K. Vaughan has put out, but Y: The Last Man and Saga are two of my favorites by any writer.  I love that he's putting out an Image comic as his masterwork when so many of his contemporaries are working for Marvel and DC.

But I would be remiss if I didn't sing the praises, once again, of the Saga support staff.  Fiona Staples brings to life the various creatures who manage to return time after time.  The series has a large cast of reoccurring characters, none of which are boring.  Some are brutal and nasty; it is a brutal and nasty part of the universe that Marko and Alana's family inhabit.  That contrast between the beauty and sincerity of their relationship and the ugliness and insincerity of the galaxy around them is what makes Saga really work.

Wayward #15

Wayward, Issue #15 is the final issue in the third arc.  I've maintained that the third arc is by far the superior of the three because it shows that the New Gods of Japan and the Yokai aren't necessarily the "good guys" and the "bad guys," respectively, that they seemed to be in the first two arcs.  Sure, the Yokai look scary, but does that mean they're evil?  And sure, the New Gods are a bunch of cool teenagers, but does that mean that they're not controlled by the spiders?  Perhaps I am showing my age as I do so, but I'm definitely Team Yokai.

In this issue, Nurarihyon is reuniting the Yokai and aligning them with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.  The New Gods must move from fighting "evil" spirits to fighting ordinary Japanese soldiers, and in huge numbers.  At the same time, Nurarihyon has recruited a teenager of his own, Segawa, who has begun to exhibit powers of electricity.  And there is an ever-growing rift between two of the New Gods and the spiders.  All of this comes together in a stunning conclusion.

I like the line art by Steven Cummings.  Along with Tamra Bonvillain, he uses light well, notably in the opening page, where the wolf Yokai are in shadows.   Getting back to Tamra Bonvillain, her strength is her consistency from issue to issue. The webs of the spiders are the same green, and the room the webs are in is the same brown.  I know, this is coloring 101, but I appreciate it.  I also like the way Marshall Dillon letters the spiders with double strokes.  Overall, it's a beautiful comic and still one of my favorites.  I bought Cover B.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spritz, Part 4: More About ReadMe

Full disclosure: I was given a one-year ReadMe subscription.  I do like the program, and I have been writing about it every week or two anyway.

ReadMe is the program I use for reading/Spritzing ePub files.  In the past week or so, I've used it to read half of As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson and all of Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson, and in the two weeks before that, I read about a dozen books.  I'd like to go over some of the ways I use it.

We'll start by going to Internet Archive. From this page (Stephen King's It), you can download It in ePub format.  You don't need an account.  Next, you need a Dropbox account on your phone and on your computer.  Installing the app and the software is fairly simple, and there are other places you can learn how to do that. You can simply copy and paste It in ePub format into your dropbox folder.

Next, you'll need the ReadMe app.  For me, the easiest way to get ePub files onto ReadMe is to use the browser on your phone, and I'd like to explain that.  In the browser on your phone, go to and sign in.  Click on "StephenKingsIt.epub."

On the next page, click on "Open in..."

Select, "Copy to ReadMe!"

Success!  You'll get the book in your library, as shown below:

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Spider-Men is a team-up between the Amazing Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales).  The theory of the Multiverse is that there are an infinite number of universes parallel to our own.  In Miles Morales's universe, Peter Parker was killed, and Miles Morales, shortly thereafter, was bitten by a radioactive spider, becoming the new Spider-Man. Mysterio knocks Peter Parker into Miles Morales's universe and then tries to kill both of them.   Of course, the idea of infinite universes is flawed because if there is an infinite number of universes, there is an infinite amount of gravitational energy, which would tear us apart almost instantly.

I know, I know.  No one likes a Multiverse nerd, and unlike more seasoned Marvel fans, I cannot name the various universes in which these titles take place.  One interesting bit of the 2016 Spider-Man comic, which is ongoing, is that even the super Marvel nerds don't know which universe it takes place in yet.  Perhaps this will be elaborated upon this Wednesday, when Spider-Man, Issue #3 comes out.  But I digress.

This is a fun title, and I'm glad I read it before I got too far into the 2016 Spider-Man.  Mysterio is a cool villain, and seeing Thor, Iron Man, and Nick Fury is always good, but the real story of the title is the interplay between Miles Morales and Peter Parker.  I'm beginning to wonder if the 2016 Spider-Man is just a run-off of this story, where Peter Parker returns to his own universe, looks up Miles Morales, and helps him become Spider-Man.  Fun stuff.