Thee Comic Column #131: Southern Cross

So CrossLast week at the shop I found issue #3 of Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge’s Southern Cross. Reading this issue was a lot like my experience reading issue #5 of Southern Bastards in that this is the issue that sealed the deal and made me a hardcore fan of a new monthly book that I was initially skeptical of. Southern Cross is a brilliant Sci Fi mystery/ghost story (maybe?); I picked issue #1 up without knowing anything about it and really dug it. That said, I dawdled a bit before buying issue #2. my skepticism didn’t have anything to do with the book itself, but the fact that I’ve really been trying to watch what I spend on comics lately as it’s in danger of getting ridiculous again and that’s making me a little gunshy on adding new series. Then I remembered what I should be doing to control my spending at the shop is NOT giving in to those Marvel books I’ve tried to swear off several times now – mostly succeeding but not always. Not paying $3-4.99 a book for a bunch of interconnected franchise stories, no matter how good they might be at times, will free up enough money for me to painlessly indulge in all the indie/creator-owned stuff I can. Also, Elephantmen creator Richard Starkings frequents the same comic shop I do – my beloved Comic Bug –  and he spoke very highly of the second issue of Southern Cross so lucky for me, I found I couldn’t resist.

Thee Comic Column #130: Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s Injection

Injection 1Disclaimer: This piece begins with a touch of digression. It was intended. That said, in the interest of keeping things from getting further off course than they need to go while working toward discussing the comic I liked best this month I have allowed myself the use of only two “Howevers” to get where I am going.

Thee Comic Column #129: Horror Fans – Read Wytches NOW!

WytchesI first wrote about Scott Snyder and Jock’s series Wytches when issue #1 came out back around October of last year. I liked the book, primarily because, much like Snyder’s other horror series Severed a few years ago, Wytches feels like an old school horror flick. Something about the way Mr. Snyder approaches evoking dread in his ‘viewers’ reminds me of the first horror films I fell in love with as a kid. This was back in the 80s, usually on Chicago’s WGN channel 9 where the nightly movie was often an edited version of then-recent horror films. I fell in love with John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, The Thing and Halloween this way (the tv version of the latter, which contained those extra scenes that were so hard to come by except on tv for years), as well as Adrian Lynne’s Jacob’s Ladder, Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow and the King-penned/Romero-directed classic Creepshow. At that time, even on television there was always something that felt remotely dangerous about these movies when seeing them for the first time, as if the subject matter was somehow a reflection of all the things my nine year old mind didn’t know about the world: why did Uncle Frank die? Monsters. What’s that weird noise that’s woken me up the last couple of nights in the rain? Evil, pure and simple, creeping around the outside of the house, looking for a way in. I’m three decades plus past that uninitiated age but this kind of foundation-shaking is still the mark of a good horror film, and it’s something that is really only accomplished experiencing a story for the first time when alone or with a like-minded person. The same thing can be said of books to a degree, only books can’t be read in one sitting and thus the experience is considerably diluted compared to movies or, yes, comics.

The Joup Friday Album: The Shaggs – Philosophy of the World

ShaggsLet me take you back to last Sunday morning. I woke up to a text from my good friend Mr. Brown:

Have you ever heard of The Shaggs? It’s like if The Room was a band.”

I almost dove out of bed for the computer.

Note: The Room is, well, if you don’t know you’re probably better off. Let’s just say it’s a film that is so bad that by virtue of how bad it is it actually becomes – in a cringe/ironic sense – somewhat enjoyable.

Thee Comic Column #128: Let’s Talk About Joss Whedon’s Avengers

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-PosterWell, I suppose it’s a bit of a no-brainer that I would be writing about Avengers: Age of Ultron today as pretty much any card-carrying geek on the interwebs is sure to feel the call to do so. That said, I want to talk about something beside plot points or how great everybody’s performances were; the effects; and juxtapositions between this and the Brian Michael Bendis comic story by the same name which just so happens to be VERY different. No, I don’t want to talk about any of that. What I really want to talk about is how Joss Whedon essentially brought a Chris Claremont comic from the 80s to life.

Thee Comic Column #127: The Art of the Letters Column

ScanAh, the letters column. Sometimes I wonder if it had more of an impact on the comic book world – or maybe just comic book readers – back before the advent of the Internet and email, when fans of a book wrote their questions, comments and musings out by hand, sent them to the address specified on the last page of their favorite books and waited to see if theirs would be one of the dispatches picked for publication/response. Or perhaps sending an email is just as time consuming, personally revealing and weighted with anticipation. Either way, letters columns are a beloved industry standard, but one that I myself had gotten away from reading quite some time ago. Why? I’m not really sure. However, this has slowly been changing and yesterday, during an illness-inspired confinement to bed, I read my way through the new issues of several comics that all have very impressive letters pages and you know what? Something was reignited in me. I’ll place the responsibility for this final realization squarely in the hands of Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus, which probably has the best letters page ever. But there are more books than that which, on a monthly basis, have been slowly eroding whatever prejudice I long ago developed for something I used to love. That’s right true believers, I don’t think I’ll be trying for a No-Prize anytime soon, but I am whole-heartedly back on the “Must Read the Letters Column” wagon from here on out.

Thee Comic Column #126: Daredevil & The MMU

Netflix-Daredevil-Costume-3Everyone else on the Internet wrote about Marvel’s new Daredevil series last week when it dropped on Netflix. I’m still only a little over halfway through the season as I write this, however I simply can’t NOT write about a comic-based show this damn good. That said, what I really want to talk about here isn’t merely how great a show Daredevil is, or how wonderful the show is cast, the fact that besides the obvious magnificence of Mr. Cox and Mr. D’onofrio as hero and foil, Elden Henson is the perfect Foggy Nelson, Vondie Curtis-Hall kills as Ben Urich* and Deborah Ann Woll has added a level of innocence back to a character that, for those of us who have read Born Again, stopped associating with Ms. Page a long time ago. No, what I really want to get into is my own absolute admiration for Marvel’s big picture, the saintly patience with which they stalk their master plan and how they’ve consistently been able to transform and translate EVERYTHING they’ve brought to the silver screen – little or big – since 2006’s Iron Man led the way.