Archive for November, 2013

Holiday Gift Bag: Yarnvalanche!

Alright, my children, if it’s Friday as you’re reading this, that means you’ve successfully survived your Thanksgiving turkey-and-Skittles coma, and you’re now ready to embark on the grand adventure known as… Black Friday. Soon (or hours ago, depending on whether you were fool enough to bother with the early-morning doorbuster sales) you will have to deal with your fellow human beings, who used to be normal, civilized people but have now devolved to the point where they’ll eat their own grandmother’s entrails if it means they can get a Furby for 10% off (after the 25% markup, of course).

Or, if you’d rather avoid all that ridiculous nonsense, you can get a gift that’ll always be appreciated — comics!

Let’s start this year with a new book by a some folks with Lubbock ties — Yarnvalanche! by Rachael and Josh Anderson.


This is, as it says on the cover, the first collection of the Andersons’ “Worsted for Wear” webcomic, which is a comic about knitting, crocheting, spinning, and all kinds of yarncraft. Our main character is Cam, a young woman obsessed with knitting who has managed to ensnare most of her friends into her hobby. Her friends come from all walks of life and are focused on all kinds of yarn crafting. One’s a horror nut who loves to crochet creepy dolls; one runs a periodic web program that combines knitting and fitness; one is a secret knitter and a member of an all-guy knitting group. And one is a really, really fluffy bunny.

The group runs through all sorts of misadventures — the search for a meeting place for their knitting group, Cam’s attempt to make a baby blanket in less than a week, their mostly in-vain attempts to keep from buying ridiculous amounts of yarn, some knitting haikus, and several discussions of just how macho knitting may be. And yes, this includes the question of whether Batman knits.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an excellent gag strip with strong doses of geek humor, slice-of-life, and a little outright surrealism. Combine that with Rachael’s awesome art, and you got a winner of a comic strip.

The character work here is really outstanding. Everyone has very recognizable personalities and foibles — and even better, they’re all drawn pretty realistically. In other words, they’re all adult women with normal bodies — they’re not busty supermodels, so some of them are overweight, some are fat, some have normal human builds. They look like normal people, and that’s just plain awesome.

Oh, you think you won’t be able to get this for the comic book reader in your life? That’s the beauty of this one — you can get it for people who don’t read comics. Got a friend or relative who likes to knit? Get them this, and you’ve introduced them to comics. You may not have them reading Daredevil any time soon, but we’ve all gotta start somewhere. It’s even possible that you may be able to turn the comic reader in your life into a knitter. Stranger things have happened…

Yarnvalanche! by Rachael and Josh Anderson. It’s good stuff. Go pick it up.

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Under Wraps


Daredevil #33

Matt Murdock went and got himself shot by the Sons of the Serpent, but luckily, he’s got some new friends who are going to keep him alive — the Legion of Monsters — Werewolf by Night, N’Kntu the Living Mummy, Satana, the Monster of Frankenstein, and the Zombie Simon Garth! They do manage to get Daredevil stitched back up, and he manages — barely — to convince them to tell him what the Darkhold is. Turns out it’s a spellbook of fabled power, held by an occultist named Lucien Sinclair. He can use it to destroy the creatures of the night, so the Legion of Monsters want to get it away from him. Daredevil volunteers to steal it away, but he’ll have to withstand horrifying hallucinations that could drive him mad. Can the Man without Fear survive the terrors of the damned?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic storytelling, wonderful characters, great dialogue, and absolutely glorious artwork. The splash page of Daredevil standing in the room of flames needs to go into Chris Samnee’s portfolio, if he even needs one anymore.


Red Sonja #5

Sonja and her fledgling bodyguards begin their campaign against Dark Annisia’s forces. She learns that the king has been buried in an anonymous grave, mostly to keep his body safe from Annisia’s raiders, and the king’s scientific son figures out a way to cure her of the plague. Finally, Sonja meets Annisia in battle — but a much more terrible foe has been manipulating both of them…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of adventure, action, and humor, along with outstanding art. It’s really nice to be able to read Gail Simone stories without having them tainted by DC, isn’t it?

Today’s Cool Links:

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Fast Reviews from a Weary Reviewer

Seriously, I’m just so tired, and I’m dreading every upcoming day of the rest of the year. So I’m gonna do just a couple of very quick reviews today.


Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #3


Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #12

I’ve loved every single issue of these so far. Do you think these would be any different? Nope, thumbs up for both of them. Go read ’em and enjoy ’em.

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The Voice of Death


A Voice in the Dark #1

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot in my heart for radio — I worked as a DJ and quasi-news dude for years, and despite the fact that radio station owners are, without exception, morally bereft, incompetent morons, I still have lots of fond memories of my radio days. So a story based around radio is something that’s gonna grab my interest.

Our lead character is Zoey Aarons, a young college student with a newly adopted little sister — one of her best friends, Seven, who was outed as a lesbian by a schoolmate and then disowned by her family. Zoey’s family adopted her, and Seven is very glad to be part of the family. Oh, but that’s not the important part of the story. See, Zoey murdered the girl who outed Seven, and she has nearly constant temptations to kill again. She’s a budding serial killer, and she has no idea how she’s going to make it through college without killing someone else.

Her lone strategy for keeping her inner psycho at bay is to run her own late night talk radio program on the campus station, encouraging people to call in anonymously and talk about whatever dark thoughts are on their minds. Can wallowing in other people’s darkness keep her own murderous urges under control?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I absolutely love the characters and dialogue, and our very unconventional serial killing heroine is really fun. She’s clearly keeping her emotions knuckled down, partly to keep herself from just going stabby on everyone, partly because her uncle, a homicide detective, lives in town and checks up on her periodically.

And maybe more fascinating than the story and the characters is the comic’s creator. Larime Taylor has arthrogryposis, a birth defect that leaves his joints in locked positions. He has almost no use of his arms or legs, so he draws with his mouth. And the artwork is absolutely fantastic.

So in other words, great story, great characters, great art, a great creator — and radio. Worth picking up, y’all.


Young Avengers #12

Mother and Leah plan to tear the earth apart with an invasion of alternate-reality evil Young Avengers — and with Mother’s mind-warping powers, the grownups will believe that all the bad guys are really the Young Avengers. Luckily, our heroes have some backup — almost every teenaged superhero on the planet. Can they stop the invasion? Can the Young Avengers fight through Mother’s hand-picked, shallow supervillain guardians to rescue Hulkling and save the world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A fun, action-packed, characterization-rich story told with incredible style. You’ve likely already heard that Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie will end this comic in a few issues — I actually don’t feel that bad about that. Great storytellers should be allowed to tell their stories their way — and I also have faith that the Young Avengers will return before long.

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Astro to the Limits


Astro City #6

Meet Thatcher Jerome, a fixer for the Mob. He’s got a nice cover job as an official in the longshoremen’s union, which he uses to get into the interdimensional door of the mysterious Ambassador. And he somehow convinces the guy that he needs all kinds of supplies that Thatcher and his Mafia pals are able to provide. And while delivering goods, Thatcher manages to steal one of the Ambassador’s alien artifacts. What’s it do? Well, Thatcher accidentally turns his brother-in-law into a supervillain called the Ore-Master. Is this weapon the key to moving Thatcher to a leadership position with the Mafia? Or is it all some sort of devious plan or test by the Ambassador himself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Thatcher Jerome is a wonderful character — heck, this series is pumping out awesome character after awesome character, and thank goodness someone’s still willing to do that these days, right? That’s really the main thing that makes this issue so much fun — we get introduced to Fletcher Jerome, meet the people who make up his world, and watch him run around Astro City doing cool stuff.


The Manhattan Projects #16

Oppenheimer tries to figure out the other Projects’ technologies. General Westmoreland tortures Gagarin. Oppenheimer prepares to inject Groves with truth serum. Einstein and Feynman explore alien worlds and hunt alien monsters — and let some of them out into the lab…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Everyone’s devious and horrible — and at least half the fun of this series is watching mild-mannered historical figures act completely devious and horrible.

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Rocket Arena


Rocket Girl #2

DaYoung Johansson, teenaged supercop from the future, is stuck in 1986 trying to prevent Quintum Mechanics from using the invention of time travel — which she just provided them with — to commit crimes in the future. Needless to say, this is going to be a tall order. She’s being watched over by a couple of friendly Quintum employees who nevertheless don’t want her roaming around New York City stirring up trouble. But, well, DaYoung is an extremely dedicated police officer, no matter what jurisdiction she’s in, even if it’s going to get her in trouble with the local cops…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Amy Reeder and a dementedly convoluted plot by Brandon Montclare. This is simultaneously thrilling and hilarious.


Batman: Li’l Gotham #8

Bruce Wayne is under strict orders to take a vacation, so he and Selina Kyle set sail on a relaxing tropical yacht trip — only to run into the Joker and Harley Quinn — and a Pirate Joker and Pirate Harley, too! Meanwhile, in Gotham City, the rest of the Bat-Family and their allies are working overtime to keep Gotham City safe from the criminal element.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent storytelling, a wonderful sense of humor, grand adventuring, and awesome art by Dustin Nguyen. It’s great all-ages reading, so go enjoy it.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Arch of Destiny


Manifest Destiny #1

What we’ve got here is a revision of the story of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, the explorers who explored the Western United States for President Jefferson. While the real-life Lewis and Clark mapped the Louisiana Purchase, laid claim to new territories, and traveled all the way to the Pacific Ocean, this version of Lewis and Clark have a secret agenda. Their expedition consists of Army volunteers and pardoned convicts, none of them aware that Jefferson has asked their leaders to look for monsters to kill. Monsters? Is President Jefferson crazy? There’s no such thing as monsters, right? Well, it wouldn’t be much of a story if there weren’t any, would it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I had no real plans to pick this one up, but the preview dragged me in with just this one image:


Yeah, it’s the Gateway Arch, over 150 years early and made out of plants. Kinda had to see what the big deal was after that.

Characterization is very nice — Lewis is the artistic intellectual, Clark the officious military man, and Jensen, one of the convicts, is devious and much smarter than he lets on. The action, when it finally makes it into the comic, is outstanding, and the mystery is wonderfully intriguing. Hopefully, future issues will deliver on what this one promises.


Coffin Hill #2

Eve Coffin, disgraced witch and disgraced cop, has returned to her family’s mansion, hoping to atone for her too-casual use of black magic when she was a girl. Back then, her magic caused one friend to go mad and another to vanish mysteriously — and her kinda-sorta boyfriend, who skipped out on the fateful ritual, has now become a police officer, too. Eve wants to help find some kids who’ve gone missing in the woods, using her police instincts and her knowledge of black magic. Can Eve track down the clues she needs? Or is the malign force hiding in the forest going to claim her, too?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A lot of great mood going on in this one. And I really like the one-black-eye look that Eve is rocking.


Watson and Holmes #5

Holmes and Watson are investigating a rash of cases where abandoned babies have been found in dumpsters. Most have survived — there’s been only one death. Soon, they manage to track down the mother of the dead baby, and she tells them that her doctor had taken the kid for adoption, but soon suspected her of being dishonest. The police arrest the doctor — only to learn that it’s the wrong doctor! Who’s been masquerading as a doctor and stealing babies? And why does the press want to protect the baby thief?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a great, self-contained mystery with another batch of excellent characters. Not a lot of action in this one — but listen, if you need action in all your mysteries, you’re doin’ mysteries wrong. Mysteries are cerebral, man.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Unfortunately, it may be time to take Brian Wood off the list of comics creators who are worth reading, because this story is about a guy who is absolute scum.
  • Allie Brosh reads from her new book and does a Q&A session. This is hilarious, at least partly because she keeps cracking herself up with her own story.
  • This is a much cooler tradition than “The Elf on the Shelf.”
  • Steve Jackson — of Steve Jackson Games — writes about getting flooded out of his home.
  • Apparently, the Washington Times is absolutely scared out of its wits by comic books.

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Friday Morning Fights: Love is a Battlefield!

We’re doing things a bit different today. SpaceBooger has requested we have everything set up and ready to go early today — so here we are, starting the weekend even earlier than normal. We’ll have some reviews a bit later today, but for right now, it’s time for… FRIDAY MORNING FIGHTS!

People, I haven’t won a single match in this latest set of 12 rounds of Friday Night Fights — and I’m actually A-OK with that. It means I don’t have to dredge up an extra battle for the prize fight in the next couple weeks — I always have so much trouble finding decent fights for these things, so it means I get a couple weeks rest from worrying about finding good scans. Rest is good. I love rest.

And the last thing I want is to ruin my chance for a little extra rest by screwing up and actually winning this week’s match-up. So I’m throwing the match by posting something that doesn’t actually include any fighting!

So, from 2006’s Defenders: Indefensible by J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen, and Kevin Maguire, here’s magic-slinging cosmic villain Umar very definitely not fighting the Hulk.




Tee Hee!


Aw, poor exhausted Hulk! Poor, happy, exhausted Hulk!

Now go on, you mooks, and don’t vote for me! I need my rest.

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Friends with Everyone


Friends with Boys

It’s been a while since I reviewed a graphic novel by Faith Erin Hicks — and luckily, I have one sitting right here that I can write about…

Maggie is the youngest kid in her family, preparing to start high school. She’s been home-schooled prior to this and doesn’t have a lot of friends — or really, any friends other than her older brothers. So while her brothers are as helpful as they can with trying to get her adjusted to the new world she’s stepping into, she still has a lot to figure out on her own. So she has to navigate the mean kids and the kids who ignore her and the two friendly punks — who her brothers are inexplicably hostile to.

And on top of that, Maggie is being haunted by a ghost that started following her around after she visited the cemetery.

Can Maggie make it through her first months in school? Can she make friends? Can she survive the mean kids on the volleyball team? Can she figure out how to put the ghost to rest?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a charismatic, funny, wonderfully human book.

Do we even need to talk about the art? If you’ve ever seen Hicks’ work, you know her art is primo. Her art is always fun, and if you love her art, that may be enough reason all on its own for you to pick this up.

The story itself is nothing earthshattering — it’s just a story about a kid in school, her very normal friends, her very normal enemies, her very normal family, her very normal problems. And a slightly out-of-the-normal ghost. No one has to save the world — but a great story doesn’t require the world to get saved, right? It’s a normal story, and it drags you right in.

The characters really shine in this book. It’s easy to love these characters — not just because they’re drawn attractively, but because they’re depicted, both in art and writing, with such great clarity and style. They all feel like real people — might be because Hicks has a few similarities with Maggie, but it’s also because she’s a wonderful storyteller as well as a wonderful artist.

It’s a great comic — and hey, kudos to First Second Books, which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite comics publishers for all the amazing books they’ve put on the shelves. Anyway, go pick this one up, people.

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Marvel’s Many Marvels


Captain Marvel #17

Here’s how weird comics are. They’ve got this one right here. It’s fairly popular, it’s well-regarded, the fans are vocal about how much they like the character, the costume redesign, etc. So Marvel is cancelling it. But just long enough to give it a relaunch and another #1 next March. Why doesn’t Marvel just label every issue of every comic with a “#1” on the cover, if they’re so convinced that’s the only thing that sells comics?

Anyway, this is the last issue of this particular volume of “Captain Marvel.” A lot of it is devoted to wrapping things up with the current supporting cast and discussing Carol Danvers’ ongoing memory problems. There’s also a new villain introduced — Grace Valentine, an electronic tycoon with a towering ego who so hates being upstaged that she learns that a magazine has decided to put Captain Marvel on a cover instead of her, so she launches missile attacks on New York. Can Carol keep the Big Apple from getting cancelled?

Verdict: Thumbs up, for the most part. It’s a good story, fun characterization, nice humor. The motivation for Grace Valentine is a little iffy, but I guess that makes her a typical supervillain.

You wanna know what’s not so good? The art. They’ve got that awful Filipe Andrade doing the art again. So if you want to see people who look like they got their faces run over with a steamroller and their bodies stretched out on pulleys, then this is all for you, man.

That’s really been an ongoing problem with this comic. Excellent writing, amazing covers — and absolutely What-the-Fuuuunzilla art inside the comics. It almost makes it look like Marvel’s been trying to sabotage the comic. Maybe Andrade has kidnapped Joe Quesada’s kids or something.


Mighty Avengers #3

Ladies and gentlemen, Shuma-Gorath his own damn self is invading New York City. Luckily, the Blue Marvel is hear to blow him up! But wait, that was just one physical manifestation of the Void Made Flesh, and he’s going to start dragging himself into reality through the faces of ordinary New Yorkers. The Marvel has already managed to cure Monica Rambeau of her antimatter infection, which gives her a chance to use her powers to create an anti-magic forcefield, while “Spider-Hero” (the big non-spoiler nowadays is that he’s Blade, although they’re going to dress him up as Ronin, for some durn reason) shows off his magical knowledge. Can the entire team work together to dispose of Shuma-Gorath before he fully manifests?

Verdict: Thumbs up, for the most part. The story is pretty good, and the characters are good fun. Again, the problem here is the art. There is just no good excuse for Marvel to continue giving Greg Land any work at all.


Ghosted #5

Jackson Winters’ planned heist of a ghost from the infamous Trask Mansion is falling all to pieces. Two members of the team are dead, one is possessed, and one has betrayed the whole group. And they’re all trapped in the mansion after sundown, when all the ghosts come out to play. What’s the mansion’s secret? What’s Markus Schenker’s secret? And what’s Jackson Winters’ secret? And will anyone get out alive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good ending to the first storyarc — and I’m even more happy that the series will continue, as I was expecting this to be the final ish. I don’t know if any of the surviving characters other than Winters will be back, but I guess we’ll see if Jackson can pull together another team for his next heist…

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