Archive for October, 2010

Your Halloween Reading List

Novelist and former comics writer Neil Gaiman had a great idea about a week ago — a new Halloween tradition, where people give each other scary books to celebrate the holiday.

I like scary books a lot. I like this idea a lot.

The problem with it is that Gaiman didn’t think it up sooner — I sure didn’t have time to buy books (or send some of my own? You mean give up any books? Man, that’s crazy.), and I definitely didn’t have enough money to buy books for all my friends. Or even all my friends who like scary books.

So though I wasn’t able to buy you a book — and make no mistake, I was going to buy you, yes you, personally, a book — maybe I can recommend a few books you could go read.

So here are some of my favorite scary books and authors, in no particular order. There’s still plenty of time to make it to a bookstore, to the library, or to order them from an online seller.

  1. Edgar Allan Poe. He has a ridiculous number of awesome stories and poems, and it’s surprising how many people have never read any of them. Collections of his complete stories are pretty common out there and not too expensive.
  2. H.P. Lovecraft. I know, I go on and on about Lovecraft, but he’s the second most influential horror writer out there, after Poe, so he’s definitely worth reading. The best intro to Lovecraft is a book called “The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre” — it’s got all of his best stories all in one place.
  3. Ray Bradbury. I can’t pick just one. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is the very best dark fantasy novel ever. “The Halloween Tree” is part fantasy, part meditation on the origins of Halloween from around the world. Both are extremely worth reading.
  4. Stephen King. I prefer King’s short stories to his novels, and my favorites of his short story collections are “Night Shift” and “Skeleton Crew.” If you love horror and have never read his nonfiction “Danse Macabre,” you really should do so.
  5. Clive Barker. Like King, I prefer Barker’s short stories. If you can find his “Books of Blood,” get them. “The Hellbound Heart” and “Cabal” are also good.
  6. M.R. James. “Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.” The guy wrote some of the best ghost stories ever. They might have some dated language and style you’d have to dig through, but they’re absolutely worth digging through.
  7. “The House with a Clock in its Walls” by John Bellairs. All of his books are fun and creepy for young readers, but this one is particularly good. It’s midway between a young adult novel and a gothic horror story — all about a spooky old house, owned by not-so-spooky wizards, and the magical clock hidden inside that’s ticking down the seconds to the end of the world.
  8. “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. Of all the old gothic horror novels out there, this one holds up the best. It’s still spooky, still scary, still fun to read.
  9. “The King in Yellow” by Robert W. Chambers. This book was a big influence on Lovecraft. It’s full of weird, surreal, unearthly, psychological horror.
  10. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz, with extremely scary illustrations by Stephen Gammell. If you know much about urban legends or campfire stories, a lot of these will be familiar to you. The illustrations, however, will absolutely scare you out of a year’s growth.
  11. “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski. The primary story involves a normal suburban house that is slightly larger on the inside than it is on the outside — and it’s gradually growing even larger. I almost hesitate to recommend this one — I loved reading it, but it may not be for everyone. It has multiple stories running at once, characters that may or may not be real even within the narrative itself, and a vast number of wild typographical stunts — sometimes the text is upside down, diagonal, backwards, running in a spiral. It takes a lot of patience to read, but it’s very rewarding and fun.
  12. “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson. The single best haunted house story ever, and one of the most frightening horror books around.

And one more for a solid Unlucky Thirteen. This is “The Night Wire” by H.F. Arnold. I think it’s my favorite horror story ever. It’s about 84 years old, and I’ve always thought of it as the Official Horror Story for Newspaper Reporters.

That’s what I got, folks. Go hit up the bookstores and treat yourself to some terror this Halloween.

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Friday Night Fights: Monster Mash!

It’s the beginning of a wonderful Halloween weekend, and that means we’re going to have to make sure tonight’s Friday Night Fights is thematically appropriate.

So we’re going with something from Mike Mignola — specifically “The Wolves of Saint August,” originally published in 1994 and reprinted in Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others. Without further ado, here’s Hellboy fighting a werewolf.

Hope y’all all have a great Halloween, with lots of candy and fun and costumes and bloody human sacrifices to dark eldritch gods. Ahh, those old Halloween traditions are always the best…

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Ghost Hunters

The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings

Here’s a book Dark Horse put out back in 2003, and it’s  still in print, so it won’t even be any trouble for you to find it.

Like the title says, it’s a book full of stories about hauntings and ghosts of all kinds. It’s a classy piece of work, hardcover, beautifully put-together, with an unusual mix of stories and storytelling styles.

We start out with what’s probably the strongest story in the book — “Gone” by Mike Richardson and P. Craig Russell. It’s about a couple of kids daring each other to go into the local deserted old house. When one of them finally takes the dare, he doesn’t come back out. It’s a deeply creepy, eerie story, and it’ll stick with you for a long time. There’s also a great Hellboy story by Mike Mignola, with Big Red stumbling into an unusual haunting; the very first “Beasts of Burden” tale by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, featuring a haunted doghouse; a story by Randy Stradley and Paul Chadwick in which a ghost and an odor haunt a teenager; and an interesting tale by Uli Oesterle about a haunted tattoo.

And there’s more in here than just comics. There’s an old turn-of-the-century ghost story called “Thurnley Abbey” by Perceval Landon. I’ve been a fan of these old ghost stories for years — the language is always a bit archaic and the storytelling style is about as non-modern as you can get, but dang, those guys knew how to tell a good ghost yarn back then. There’s also an interview with L.L. Dreller, a seance medium. I’ve got not much to say about that one — I don’t believe in such things, but I do think it’s an interesting addition to the book.

Verdict: Thumbs up. You’ve got Beasts of Burden, Hellboy, the previously-mentioned and awesomely spooky “Gone,” and much more. You’ve got the old story by Perceval Landon. The whole thing is just packed full of excellent ghost stories.

I said before that this is a classy book — for one thing, it’s hardcover, and there ain’t nothing like hardcover to class up the joint. But the design of the book itself just makes it feel like they really went all out to make a book anyone would feel proud of. They definitely went out of their way to evoke older ghost story books — the illustrations by Gary Gianni of Landon’s old ghost story take the style of old magazine illustrations, the frontispiece of the book is an illustration by Gustave Dore from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and several of the stories seem to be based on classic Victorian ghost tales.

It’s great reading for Halloween. Heck it’s great reading for any time at all. Go pick it up.

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The Downward Spiral


Uzumaki is a horror manga by an artist named Junji Ito. It’s set in a small town called Kurôzu-cho, and our lead characters are a pretty high school girl named Kirie and her bookish older boyfriend Shuichi. What’s it about?

Bear with me here, okay?

The book is about the horror of spirals.

I know how it sounds, so let’s talk a bit more about it. We start out in the first chapter with Shuichi’s father strangely obsessed with spiral shapes of all kinds. He collects spirals, sits in alleyways staring at spiral shapes on walls, and generally behaves really, really strangely. His family wisely tells him to cut it out, and he responds by learning how to make his own spirals — by spinning his eyes in opposite directions and by doing this to his tongue.

You can just imagine how well that goes over. He later commits suicide by climbing into a wooden tub and contorting his entire body into a spiral. Shuichi’s mother acquires her own obsession with spirals after the funeral, but instead she’s utterly terrified of all spirals, including the ones inside her own body.

Later elements in the stories include a classmate’s horrifying spiral scar, a boy who is run over by a car and ends up wrapped in a spiral around the front wheel, people who slowly transform into giant snails, and a gang of pregnant women in the hospital who have begun using hand drills to kill patients so they can drink their blood.

Yeah, Kurôzu-cho is a really messed-up place.

What seems like a completely innocuous image ramps up quickly from something you notice in ferns or snail shells or eddys in water into something that you see almost everywhere and that grows more and more ominous as time goes by.

It’s not perfect, of course — the chapter with the spiral hair is a bit underwhelming until the end, and as the town starts to decay after the typhoon, the story hits a lull for several chapters — but on the whole, it’s really intensely freaky stuff.

Junji Ito’s artwork is absolutely nightmarish, in all the good ways you want from a horror comic — every gory, bizarre, terrifying moment is there in all the gruesome detail you could dream of. And it all adds up to a climax that casts the village of Kurôzu-cho as a modern-day Japanese counterpart to H.P. Lovecraft’s Innsmouth, Massachusetts or Stephen King’s Derry, Maine.

“Uzumaki” is available in three volumes, starting with this one. Remember, Japanese manga reads, for Western readers, backwards — it takes a little doin’ to get used to reading a book from back to front and from right to left, but the brain-breaking horror in this story is definitely worth the trouble.

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Hell’s Angels

I’ve finished up all my regular reviews early so I can devote this week to reviewing a few of my favorite horror-focused graphic novels. Let’s start with something that came out very recently…

Hellboy: Masks and Monsters

This one reprints the “Batman/Hellboy/Starman” miniseries from 1999 and the “Ghost/Hellboy” miniseries from 1996. For some of you fanboys out there, that’s all it took for you to get on the horn to your local comic shop to reserve a copy. Both of these series have been out-of-print for ages — if you wanted them, you had to be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars on eBay. So this collection is very good news for comics fans.

We start out with “Batman/Hellboy/Starman,” with writing by James Robinson and art by Mike Mignola. Golden-Age Starman Ted Knight gets kidnapped while attending a conference in Gotham City. Batman tries to stop the kidnappers, a bunch of spell-slinging neo-Nazis, but they make their getaway. Hellboy soon shows up to offer his aid — the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense has identified the kidnappers as a Nazi organization called the Knights of October. A little detective work lets them track them down, but can they keep them from getting away? In the second half of the story, Ted Knight’s son, Jack Knight, the then-current Starman, travels with Hellboy to South America, where the Knights of October have their secret base. They plan to use Ted Knight’s knowledge of astronomy to raise a monstrous cthulhoid monster to lay waste to the world. Can Hellboy and Starman stop them and rescue Ted Knight?

In the “Ghost/Hellboy” story, written by Mignola and pencilled by Scott Benefiel, we start out with a great sequence from 1939, where a mobster axe-murders a guy, then calls in the local egghead occultist when he can’t get the guy’s ghost to stop laughing at him. And then he kills the occultist, too. Flash-forward to the present in Arcadia City, where Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. try to recruit Ghost, a murdered reporter-turned-spectral vigilante. But she gets tricked by an underworld demon into fighting Hellboy so the demon can carve off Hellboy’s Right Hand of Doom and use it to end the world. How long will it take the two supernatural do-gooders to wise up and start helping each other?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The “Batman/Hellboy/Starman” story is a special thrill because it’s something I never thought I’d actually get to read. It’s incredibly cool to have a comic that features Mignola artwork of both Batman and Starman and the Joker. It’s got Nazis and Things Man Was Not Meant to Know and retro-pulp action and buckets of all that Hellboy-style goodness. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the “Ghost/Hellboy” story — it’s deliciously creepy and fun.

The whole thing was released just this month, so even if your local comic shop doesn’t have this in stock, they can still order it for you. So go get it already!

Today’s Cool Links:

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Friday Night Fights: Icon Busting!

I’m short of time right now, so let’s see how fast we can get this one churned out. You know the name of the game, right? If it’s Friday evening, and if we’re all jonesing for comic-book violence, then it’s gotta be time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s fight comes from September 1993’s Icon #5 by Dwayne McDuffie, M.D. Bright, and Mike Gustovitch — Icon has his first run-in with the Blood Syndicate, including the very big and very strong Brickhouse…

And yes, I’m going to have to require all of you to get down and get funky with the Commodores now…

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Robin the Cradles

Tiny Titans #33

The two Robin-wannabes, Tim and Jason Toddler, are back, making life tough for regular-Robin. They visit Aunt Harriet‘s Day Care Center and are introduced to the other new students…

That’s Stephanie Brown, the current Batgirl, Carrie Kelley, the Robin from Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns,” and Cassandra Cain, the ninja Batgirl from a few years ago. And yes, Tim and Jason have brought Robin costumes for everyone, including Jericho, Miss Martian, Kid Devil, and Wildebeest. When Robin and Alfred go to pick up Tim and Jason after school, they end up with a carload of extra Robins, too. And once they all get to the Batcave, Jason makes a new costume so he can be the Red Hood, and Cassandra gets her own Batgirl costume. And there are even more Robins!

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one is awesome and funny from beginning to end. I really enjoyed all the extra guest stars. It’s great the way this comic can appeal to kids and to their grownup parents who know a little more about all the continuity gags being dropped on every page.

Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Batgirl #1

I wasn’t planning on getting any of these “Road Home” comics, ’cause they just seem like another bunch of crossover comics I didn’t much want to buy. But hey, the “Batgirl” comic is written by Bryan Q. Miller, the writer of the current “Batgirl” series, so it’s like an extra issue of the regular comic! Yay!

Anyway, Bruce Wayne has finally made it back from his spectacularly long trip through time (even though the “Return of Bruce Wayne” comics haven’t wrapped up yet), and for whatever reason, he’s running around Gotham City in a high-tech costume pretending to be a supervillain so he can “test” his fellow crimefighters. Stephanie cat-and-mouses after him for much of the issue before she finally manages to track him down, and he unmasks himself. Stephanie’s reaction surprises even herself…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I loved this one. It’s far more about Stephanie and her methods and reactions as Batgirl as it is about the much-anticipated return of Bruce Wayne. It’s got all the humor, action, and great dialogue we’ve come to expect from the “Batgirl” title, so it’s definitely worth picking up.

Chaos War #2

Hercules’ entire superhero army has already been brought low, taken out by the Chaos King’s access to Nightmare’s abilities to send mortals to sleep. With only himself, Thor, and Amadeus Cho still awake to save a world gone snoresville, Hercules briefly stops time to allow Thor the chance to save more people. Meanwhile, in Hades, Pluto finds his realm of the dead invaded by the Chaos King’s forces — in desperation, he promises to free the dead superheroes and supervillains in his kingdom if they’ll fight to stop the Chaos King — but when Zeus appears to die again, the psychic feedback forces Hercules to drop his time-freezing spell. Herc also summons Eternity, the entity representing all living things, to fight on their side — but he can’t do it, as the Chaos King is his polar opposite — he couldn’t fight him without fighting himself. So finally, Herc summons Sersi of the Eternals, Galactus, the Silver Surfer, and Daimon Hellstrom to serve as the new God Squad.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice action, nice dialogue. Nice work on raising the stakes even more in this series, and it’ll be fun to see how many of these “dead” characters actually make successful resurrections when this is all over.

Supergirl #57

Bizarro World is in deep, deep trouble — the Godship is actually a gigantic alien, and it’s much, much too powerful for Supergirl or any of the Bizarros to defeat. Supergirl exposes herself and Bizarro #1 to blue solar radiation, giving them the ability to create even more Bizarros, but it’s still not enough. If the planet’s defense is going to require Bizarrogirl’s aid, will she be able to summon enough courage to get the job done?

Verdict: Ehh, kinda in the middle. The story seems fine, but I’m just not sure that the Bizarros should be in a story this serious and angst-filled — I always enjoy ’em more when they bring a lot of absurdist humor to the story.

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Second Amendment Solutions

Vertigo Resurrected #1

Primarily a collection of reprints from other Vertigo comics, this one is getting attention because it’s the first time that Warren Ellis’ decade-old “Hellblazer” story about school shootings has been printed anywhere. In this one, our main viewpoint character is a federal investigator looking into a rash of school shootings for a Congressional committee. There’s no pattern, there’s no culprit that can be blamed — can’t blame music or TV or movies or parents having guns in the house — so what is to blame. But the investigator soon realizes that John Constantine, hard-boiled British magician, has been present at way, way too many of the shootings. What’s Constantine’s connection? And what’s going to happen when he shows up in the investigator’s office?

The other stories in the collection include a tale about cattle mutilations by Brian Azzarello, a bleak twist on “Toy Story” by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, a twisted stories of love featuring obsessed surgeons and obsessed literary scholars, a look at a monster-rental firm by Bill Willingham, and a story about love, lust, hypnosis, and zombies by Bruce Jones, Bernie Wrightson, and Timothy Bradstreet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The school shooting story is a good, ominous take on the issue, and it’s something that I’m disappointed hadn’t been printed before now — it’s not a particularly shocking story now, and it’s hard for me to imagine it was ever shocking. Publishers are just gutless sometimes. The other stories are a mixed bag — there’s a post-Gulf-War story by Garth Ennis and Jim Lee that suffered from a lot of mood whiplash, and a story about torture in turn-of-the-century third-world nations that I really didn’t get the point of. Steven T. Seagle and Tim Sale’s story about the obsessed surgeon was very, very good and creepy, though, and Peter Milligan’s “Death of a Romantic” was clever and funny.

The biggest downside to it is the eight-dollar price tag. If you think that’s worth paying for some stories that are very good and some that are not so good, then sure, go pick it up. But DC needs to be more certain they’re putting a fat wad of quality in these eight-dollar 100-Page Spectaculars…

Batman and Robin #15

The Joker is holding Damian prisoner, and Dr. Hurt has Dick Grayson. Once Robin gets away — a bit conveniently, almost like the Joker wanted him to escape — he manages to save Commissioner Gordon from Professor Pyg, and the adrenaline surge actually manages to break the hold of the viral narcotic. But Damian gets swarmed by Dr. Hurt’s men, and then Dick gets shot in the head with a .32 pellet — not enough to kill him, but enough to cause serious brain damage if Dr. Hurt doesn’t save his life — and he won’t do it unless Damian swears allegiance to him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really, a very fun story, and I’m absolutely loving the art by Frazer Irving — definitely one of the great pleasures of this series that people never think to comment on ’cause they’re enjoying Morrison’s storytelling so much.

Morning Glories #3

Casey knows the sadistic teachers have kidnapped Jade, but they won’t admit to it. Jade finds herself in the school nurse’s office — or rather, in the school nurse’s prison and neurosurgery complex. She meets up with one of the patients, who effortlessly kills four of the academy’s guards. Casey is getting close to some kind of break-through, but there may be nothing that can keep the nurse from torturing Jade.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely weird story. The frequently repeated mantra found written on walls is a very nice touch for ratcheting up the strangeness.

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Pre-Halloween Spooks and Scares

I know it’s still pretty early, but we’ve already got a few special Halloween comics to review for ya — let’s see what’s on the list…

House of Mystery Halloween Annual #2

It’s the second installment of the special Halloween issues of Vertigo’s “House of Mystery.” Like last year, we get a grab-bag of stories about various Vertigo stars — this year, the element that binds all the stories together is a bunch of cursed trick-or-treaters. Doomed to wander endlessly from one Halloween to another, begging for candy and making mischief, all while wearing bodies both elderly and kid-sized, they turn up at the House of Mystery, get invited in, and offered a way out from under their curse, which they choose not to accept. In other eras and other worlds, they run across Madame Xanadu, who offers them visions of happier childhoods; they prompt John Constantine to reminisce about childhood holidays and first loves; they play pranks on Gwen Dylan from “iZombie” back in the days when she was still alive; and they end up running around Lucifer’s Hell.

Verdict: Thumbs up. First, I love any comic that literally begins their story on the front cover. Aside from that, the stories are first-rate, fun, and spooky — and they serve as excellent advertisements for several Vertigo comics. So it’s a winner — go pick it up.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #10

It’s Halloween, and the Super Hero Squad is dressing up for the holiday — Iron Man is Dracula, the Silver Surver is Frankenstein’s Monster, Reptil is Werewolf by Night, Falcon is Brother Voodoo, Thor and Hulk both want to be the Living Mummy, and Wolverine doesn’t dress in costumes. Dr. Doom’s lackeys, meanwhile, don’t get to dress up — they’ve just been ordered to go find a new fractal. Once the Super Hero Squad gets in on the chase, they quickly find the fractal being guarded by the Man-Thing! All who know fear burn at the touch of the Man-Thing — and the Man-Thing is plenty darn scary! Can the heroes get the fractal away from the muck-monster? In the followup stories, all the superheroes show up for a costume party at the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building — but there’s an imposter hiding among the disguised heroes! And finally, Dr. Doom amuses himself by terrifying trick-or-treaters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good, funny stuff, and it’s a lot of fun to see all the Halloween costumes devised for the characters.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – New World #3

The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is distracted by the bizarre destruction of Houston, Texas — by a full-sized volcano! Is this going to give Panya the opportunity to take over the whole agency? Meanwhile, Abe Sapien and Ben Daimio are in British Columbia trying to solve the mystery of what caused everyone in a small town to disappear. They meet a woman with an unusually ominous baby — and are quickly attacked by a monster! Can they stop the monster’s rampage and make their escape?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding action in this one. And it’s great to see Ben Daimio pulling off the giant-monster whupass again.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I would like to write about this a heck of a lot more, but I’m not sure I can be really coherent or non-sweary about it right now. Suffice it to say, I think “The 99,” the incredibly cool series by Naif Al-Mutawa, is a wonderful thing, and it frustrates the heck out of me that the usual gang of small-minded bigots are latching onto this as the latest ZOMG FEAR item.
  • Venom + props = awesome sketchbooks.
  • Any of you serious bibliophiles are gonna love this article.
  • Privilege is inescapable, but things would be a lot better if we had more people willing to embrace a little empathy.

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Hard-Boiled Bat

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5

An amnesiac Bruce Wayne is traveling forward through time, unaware that his body is acquiring Omega Energy which, when he returns to the present, will blow a hole in time? Why is this happening? Darkseid did it. Darkseid does everything. Right now, he’s stuck in — well, it looks like the pulp-fiction 1940s, but I rather suspect it’s much more recent, since a leggy redhead comes to him and asks him to investigate the murder of his own mother, Martha Wayne. The woman who’s “hired” him claims that she was Martha Wayne’s best friend and takes him to meet Martha’s parents — mom is an elderly society matron, and dad is stuck in an iron lung after a mysterious stroke, and the entire home is beset by ominous wasps. What’s waiting for Bruce Wayne in the catacombs beneath Wayne Manor? And who is getting set to betray him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Ryan Sook. And it’s a lot of fun to read this and catch the callbacks Morrison leaves to stories he previously told months or years ago.

Knight and Squire #1

The Knight and Squire are the Batman and Robin of London, and they hold court in a pub called the Time in the Bottle which has a magical spell that prevents fighting or any use of superpowers. So of course, the whole place is filled up with British superheroes and villains — people like Salt of the Earth, the Milkman, the Professional Scotsman, Captain Cornwall, Jarvis Poker the British Joker (a guy who never actually manages to do any serious villainy and really just prefers to hang out and chat with Knight and Squire), the Pirate Astronomers, Death Dinosaur, Dark Druid, and many, many more. But can anyone survive when the magic spell quits working?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m glad Paul Cornell is writing this, ’cause it’s all a ton of fun. All the British-themed characters are really cool. I’m not sure if every issue is going to take place in the Time in the Bottle — if so, that may wear thin pretty quickly.

The New Avengers #5

We start off with a scene from years ago when Dr. Strange and Wong unleashed some whupass on Baron Mordo and the ninjas of the Hand. In the present, Iron Fist thinks the Ancient One is the guy who wants the Eye of Agamotto, but Strange knows that makes no sense — the Ancient One gave Strange the Eye in the first place, and would’ve told him if someone else had a prior claim to it. Soon enough, everyone realizes that Agamotto himself wants the Eye back — he possesses the Avengers to get them to attack Strange, but Dr. Voodoo shows up, releases them, and issues a sorcerer’s challenge to Agamotto. It’s going to be one vessel from the Avengers — it doesn’t have to be Dr. Voodoo — vs. Agamotto, a vastly powerful interdimensional spellcaster. Who gets picked to go up against Agamotto, and how do the rest of the Avengers help power him up?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Bendis is writing this one, just like he’s writing the main “Avengers” title, but I’ve had a lot more patience with this storyarc. I’ve got to assume that means I’m enjoying the story and the writing a whole lot more than I have the other one. And the Wong and Strange vs. Mordo and ninjas beginning is definitely a winner.

The Unwritten #18

In the aftermath of Wilson Taylor’s death and the release of the new Tommy Taylor novel, the literary cabal attempts to regroup. The new novel is flat-out messianic, with Tommy Taylor raised from the dead and promising to bring mankind to a new golden age. The leader of the conspiracy decides to lay the blame on the assassin Pullman, subjecting him to a ritual where a member of the inner circle pulls a trinket out of the mouth of a stone statue to determine if Pullman lives or dies. Meanwhile, Tom Taylor, attempting to learn how he can do real magic without having to stick himself in a life-or-death situation, ingests a number of drugs to bring on a dream vision. Can his visions of his father and Tommy Taylor show him the path to real magical power? And who will come out on top in the conspiracy’s power struggle?

Verdict: Very weird and much more fun to read than I was expecting. After last issue, I was a bit worried that this series was beginning its downslide, but this story is just fine — hopefully, it’ll stay fun for a good while longer.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Kate Beaton brings back the Fat Pony.
  • Comics Alliance has a whole bunch of mini-episodes from the upcoming “Avengers” cartoon.
  • A cookbook from 1922 that features recipes from Warren G. Harding, Harry Houdini, Rube Goldberg, Charlie Chaplin, John Phillip Sousa, and many others.
  • Sometimes, we all just need to take a jump to the left.

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