Thee Comic Column #107: Drinking with Yost and Kyle’s New X-men in the Midwest!

86871-18078-105907-1-new-x-menNo, unfortunately this isn’t going to be a post about how I was able to film some segments of Drinking with Comics in Chicago and Dayton, the way I had planned to on my recent trip. However, just because I forgot to bring the proper sound equipment with me and thus didn’t get any usable footage doesn’t mean that I wasn’t drinking good beer and talking comics a large percentage of the time I was there. Chicago especially is where the idea for the show came from – late night parties with my friends where we’d inevitably end up clustered in the kitchen (why always the kitchen?) talking about Teenagers from Mars, Preacher, Sandman and of course debating the value of the superhero franchises at any given moment. It was a long trip – a great trip but seeing as it put me back down in LALAland this past Monday at the tip of an eleven day in-a-row work stretch it has also been an exhausting one. I spent eleven days in Chicago – mostly in the forested south suburbs – and then hitched a Greyhound bus to Dayton, Ohio where I crammed eleven songs with four friends – most of us having never played with each other before – and then did a gig on November 1st – el dia de los muertos. It was a great ride, lots of fun but…

Thee Comic Column #106: Birthright

Birthright-01-VAR_Alright, I’m currently traveling so this will be a short one cribbed in airports and cafes while I make my way home to Chicago. That said, I’ve found yet another new comic I’m really digging and that is what this column is for – to spread the word.

Thee Comic Column #105: AXIS

uncannyavengers4f-onslaughtGenerally, I try to stay away from Event books. That’s not very difficult with DC as I’m largely unfamiliar with the subtler points of their history and I don’t read any of their regular books on an ongoing basis – never really have. With Marvel however it can be tough. The appeal of massive, world-changing events always draws me in at least a little bit, and over the last decade or so the House of Ideas seems to have become dedicated to the creed that there should always be an Event happening. Secret Invasion, Fear Itself, Original Sin… the list of shake-ups to the Marvel Universe is endless and mostly, in the long-run limp. I always follow from afar and yeah, these stories almost always sound interesting, but they also regularly fail to deliver at the moment of truth, i.e. the ending. Things never change as much as the situations would seem to dictate and everything more or less goes back to normal. And yet despite my bias against Events, when I first caught wind of Rick Remender’s Axis I knew I’d be breaking my “No Event Book” policy and diving in head first. Why?

Beautiful Brutality Episode #1: Blut Aus Nord’s The Work Which Tranforms God

The work which transforms god coverI’ve been wanting to do this column for some time. The impetus to share the often hard-won insights culled from three years spent delving deeper and deeper into the basement of the popularly-maligned Black Metal subculture of music is just too good to pass up. I’ve had a list of prospective records and bands that deserve to be written about in a somewhat critical manor for months, I just haven’t had the time. Now then, I do and as such I give to you Episode #1 of my new column here on Joup: Beautiful Brutality.

Thee Comic Column #104: The Return of A Voice in the Dark

A-Voice-In-the-Dark-Get-Your-Gun-1-CoverIt feels like MONTHS since Larime Taylor’s first story arc on his creator-owned A Voice in the Dark ended and I’ve felt pretty much every day since then, waiting for the new arc/new issue. If you read the book you know how damn good it is; a smart and sophisticated street-level story about a college student named Zoey who struggles – along with all the normal social and psychological struggles a college-aged girl would have – with having awakened an appetite for murder within herself after avenging a social wrong done to her best friend during the closing days of Zoey’s high school career. Originally Zoey thinks leaving home to attend college will remove her dark urges, but it’s not long before she finds herself once again in a position to justify murder. Things are complicated further when Zoey, whose uncle Zeke just happens to be a local homicide detective in the cozy college town of Cutter Circle, becomes involved in a whodunit on campus after young coeds begin turning up wearing their insides on the outside. Zoey’s position as the host of an anonymous call-in radio show meant to help both herself and other students vent their dark desires puts her in the middle of things, and as the story progresses Zoey finds she is anything but rehabilitated from her own dark longings…

Thee Comic Column #103: John Carpenter’s Asylum

asylumFile this under the, “How the hell did I miss that?” category. I’ve been a fan of John Carpenter’s movies since I was probably somewhere in the vicinity of nine years old. The brutal Chicago winters often meant many weekdays after school were spent in front of the boob tube where the now classic first generations of the GIJOE and the Transformers cartoons tickled my imagination. And tickle they did, as by the time those cartoons ended I was usually inspired to break out my figures and while away the next few hours before bed immersed in the epic continuation of the perpetually unfolding narratives my figures remained defined by for months at a time (I coveted the chance the storytellers on the cartoons and comics of my favorite action figures had in constructing ongoing continuity so I learned to create my own). This was normally done in front of the tube as well, the various couches and bureaus of the living room transformed by my imagination into definitive locations in these stories, all acted out in front of the syndicated sitcoms that occupied the remainder of the afternoon before seven o’clock hit and Chicago’s WGN Channel 9 began their nightly movie. It was here, sometimes distracted, sometimes engulfed by various cinematic offerings from the 70’s and 80’s, that I first saw many a movie I am now crazy about. Chief among the favorites introduced to me by WGN were the films of John Carpenter.

Thee Comic Column #102: Black Science Returns

BlackScience7coverUnbelievable that I have not yet addressed this book in these pages, especially since Rick Remender has grown to be pretty much my favorite non-Grant Morrison writer over the last two years. All his books – whether for Marvel or his creator-owned stuff Image is currently putting out by the truckload (Yay!) – are fantastic; Mr. Remender treats iconic, cannon characters like Wolverine, Rogue, Janet Pym and Thor with not only the utmost respect but also the restraint of a Claremont; the cash cows don’t need to be the focal point of every story in a team book. He also has that je ne sais quoi that Morrison has, the one that enables him to construct fresh and intriguing approaches to otherwise vapid characters. He’s done this numerous times, whether it’s using X23 and the *ahem* female Ghostrider from a few years ago – quite effectively I might add – in a Venom storyline; making Wonderman a part of the Uncanny Avengers Unity squad or resurrecting that godawful Onslaught visage from one of the worst late 90s X-Men storylines for the upcoming AXIS event, Rick Remender has proven he has the chops to deconstruct possibly any character, examine what makes them tick (or not tick) and then put them back together inside the multi-faceted embrace of a fantastic story, ready to do their part and help carry the weight of some of the most involved and epic storytelling to grace superhero books in decades. Conversely, when we look at the man’s creator-owned series we find that there are no weak links, and it’s here that RR doesn’t have to challenge himself to update or bolster weak characters. No, in Deadly Class, Low and Black Science Mr. Remender just has to tell an outstanding story. And frankly, that is exactly what he does. Every time. Especially in Black Science.

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