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ohtani's jacket

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  1. I also finished X-Statix. The series never really lived up to that incredible first issue of X-Force, but it was still a lot of fun and a fairly daring thing for Marvel to publish. The best thing about it was that it allowed Mike Allred to play around with the Marvel characters. The series had a Giffen/DeMatteis feel to it at times, which I liked, but it was a bit too "on the nose" with its satire at times. That, and the fact that I don't really give a crap about celebrity culture, so it didn't really wow me in that respect. But mostly it was really hard to top that debut issue.
  2. I finished Charles Burns’ Black Hole, which was published over a lengthy period of time from 1995 to 2005, first by Kitchen Sink Press, and then when they went out of business, picked up by Fantagraphics. Darker in tone than a lot of Burns’ early work, it retains the elements of surrealism you’d expect from Burns’ work but without the quirky, offbeat humour. Set in the 70s, it tells the story of a group of teenagers who catch a mysterious STD that causes strange mutations. It’s basically a metaphor for adolescence, sexual awakening, and coming of age, and largely focused on atmospherics over plot. The most striking feature of the book is the black and white art. Burns won the Harvey Award for Best Inker several times during the book’s publication, which is impressive given the black and white work of other artists during the time frame. The story isn’t as weird as it may seem at a glance, and the topic isn’t as weighty as a lot of other graphic novels at the time, but as a feat of cartooning, it rates as a seminal work among 80s and 90s cartoonists. Definitely worth a read for people who enjoy 90s comics as much as Ido. Burns, like many of his contemporaries, shifted to graphic novels after Black Hole was completed, and thus it represents one of the last floppy series of perhaps my favorite era of alternative comics. Paul Pope's Batman: Year 100 is okay. I prefer the projects Pope did for Vertigo (Heavy Liquid and 100%), and I actually kind of like the Batman stories he did in his issue of Solo more. Year 100 was all right as far as alternative cartoonist doing a mainstream superhero goes, but it didn't really add much to the Batman experience. Personally, I'm not that interested in seeing Batman in the future. I prefer modern reworkings of old Golden Age stories to future, Elseworlds stories. Pope draws a very distinctive Batman, though. He really plays up the bat element. He even has Batman use fake teeth to make himself look like more of a creature. I can understand why the series has its fans, but I'm far more interested in hunting down THB. I haven't read enough from this century to tell whether Asterios Polyp is the best work that's been produced thus far, but it's a major feat in cartooning. I think I may have mentioned that I was disappointed when David Mazzucchelli ditched penciling mainstream superhero comics to become an alternative cartoonist, largely because the change in style was so drastic, but it led a masterpiece. Mazzucchelli is one of the few artists who can claim to have created important works at both ends of the spectrum.
  3. I may have been too hard on The Authority. I'm still not fond of late 90s superhero comics, but it's better than I gave it credit for. Hitch's art is beautiful even if it is at the forefront of the shift towards big panels and sparse dialogue.
  4. Crazy that it happened the same night Darius Garland became the sixth player in NBA history with 50-plus points, 10-plus 3-pointers and five-plus assists in a game. Scored 27 in the fourth.
  5. Crime and Punishment: Marshal Law Takes Manhattan is a 48 page one-shot that offers us Patty Mills' irreverent take on some of the most famous Marvel superheroes. Originally, Mills wanted to use the actual characters, but Marvel wouldn't let him. I think I prefer it that way as it lets O'Neill cut loose with some unhinged versions of Marvel's heroes. The story is standard "superheroes are bad" fare with a generous helping of bloods and guts. O'Neill's artwork is every bit as demented as you'd hope, and Mills provides some zingers, especially if you're a longtime fan of the Marvel supes.
  6. I read the original Marshal Law limited series last month. It kind of fell apart in the final two issues, but in the wake of Kevin O'Neill's passing, I'd rather emphasize the great artwork. I really liked the coloring too. I'm mostly used to reading O'Neil's work in black and white. The color made his art pop on Marshal Law. RIP, Kev. Torquemada is still one of my all-time favorite villains.
  7. Flagg is an old favorite. Badger is the First comic I never tackled in any meaningful way.
  8. I made it to issue #50 of my re-read of Nexus. I don't know if I'd call Mike Baron the best plotter in terms of story development, but it was impressive for any indie title in the 80s to reach 50 issues (if you, in fact, consider First Comics an indie publisher.) Paul Smith may be the best guest penciller of all-time. He's so good that he can replace Steve Rude on pencils and the quality doesn't drop a smidge... Well, that is until Rude comes back and you remember how freaking amazing Steve Rude is. Elfquest had almost lost me with the long and drawn out Kings of the Broken Wheel, but the final two issues of that limited series were really good, and then the decision to go with color for Hidden Years was a revelation. The first four issues of that series contain some of Pini's most beautiful artwork, as well as some wonderful, self-contained stories. Unfortunately, this is the era where Elfquest splintered into separate titles, and Pini hands the creative duties to other people. That's a shame as I kind of like her short stories better than her drawn out epics. I finished reading First Comics' reprinting of Lone Wolf and Cub, which ended 45 issues into a projected 110 issue run. There was no fanfare or goodbye, but it's weird, even though it was a reprint of a comic from the 70s, it felt like the end of an era as the title was synonymous with 80s independent publishing and it truly felt lie that era was over by '91. At some point, I will have to pick up the rest of the series, but it's not a series that you necessarily have to finish to appreciate. I absolutely loved Sock Monkey! That is my kind of comic. So charming and inventive. Almost as good as Frank.
  9. I love Jerry Lee Lewis' country albums.
  10. Nah, that is Link. Gordon and Wray did a few albums together in the late 70s.
  11. Nope. I'm not sure it made it to my shores.
  12. Xenozoic Tales is a terrific series that ends mid-story arc with issue 14. Interestingly, the issues were released so far apart that you get a clear sense of the growth and development of Mark Schultz as an artist from '86 through to '96. He's released other projects since then, which I'll be sure to check out at some stage. Every once and a while, there's a tease that he'll finish the arc from issue 14 but nothing's ever come of it. It joins the pile with other great unfinished series like Tyrant and Vagabond. After the 80s black and white boom ended, Shultz only released one or two issues per year, but even at that slow pace, the book was constantly among the Eisner nominations and Shultz was highly regarded in the industry. That reputation has faded over time, but if you're interested in what the early 90s comic book landscape looked like, Xenozoic Tales was a release, along with From Hell and several others, that people eagerly anticipated. It's not entirely original, as a lot of people were doing riffs on similar ideas, but if you like dystopian sci-fi, it's a neat series.
  13. I finished Kings in Disguise. The Great Depression is a topic that hadn't been covered in comics very often. The author, Jim Vance, was a playwright, who was adamant that this story could only be told as a comic. This was right around the time when all those articles began to appear about how comics weren't just for kids anymore, and you can feel that type of energy and enthusiasm in the book as the creators attempt to unlock the potential of comics as a storytelling medium. Kings in Disguise wasn't as influential as Maus, but it was part of the same movement that led to the rise of graphic novels, and inspired cartoonists to envision stories in different genres, which honestly speaking, is something that needed to happen if comics were going to continue to develop as an artform. I'm not sure why the series isn't as well known as other books from the era. It didn't sell particularly well, but it was critically acclaimed and drew high praise from the likes of Alan Moore, Wil Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman and Art Spiegelman. I'd never heard of it until I started this thread. Even as a kid, I was aware of the graphic novel books in my local comic store -- the Sandman books, Cerebus, Maus, Love and Rockets, etc. -- but I don't recall ever seeing Kings in Disguise. At first, I thought it might be because the art isn't quite as strong as some of those books. In fact, it's quite of striking when the early issues have covers done by some of the more popular independent artists of the day. However, the art grew on me when I read a letter from Mike Baron that pointed out the EC comics influence in the panel layout. Burr isn't as good as the EC guys, who were master cartoonists, but the EC style grid is a nice fit for the story and suits the tone of a period piece. I believe Vance and Burr published a sequel to the story decades later. The American had a lot of potential as an ongoing series, and then it ended abruptly, mid-storyline, which was the fate of a lot of intriguing indies during the boom and bust cycle. I'm not sure if the later mini-series picks up where the ongoing series left off, but after reading a handful of cancelled Eisner nominee/winners, I have a new found respect for creators who managed to somehow complete their series. Comics should be fun, and I had a blast reading Charles Burns' Hard-Boiled Defective Stories, Batman Adventures: Mad Love, and the short-lived, but delightful, Tantalizing Tales. Hard-Boiled Defective Stories was an attempt to cash in on the success of Maus by publishing Burns' short stories as a graphic album and sticking them in book stores. Unfortunately, for the other creators, Maus was the only book that sold, but the mix of pro-wrestling and weird pulp fiction/film noir stories was right up my alley. Mad Love was by far the best of the Batman related Eisner nominees I read. The other books were good, but Mad Love was a joy, and surprisingly dark at times. I absolutely adore Jim Woodring's Frank stories, but I also loved the issue of Tantalizing Tales that had Gerald Jablonski's Farmer Ned strips. Those were brilliant. Personally, I thought Bratpack was Rick Veitch's strongest work up until that point, even if it was a spiteful attack on DC and kind of nasty in that respect, but the ending was a massive letdown. He didn't stick the landing whatsoever. Fantastic art, though.
  14. Inoki had been sick for a while, but it was a shock when they brought him out on TV recently in a wheelchair. People have been overlooking what a carny he was, and the batshit insane things he did, but it was a life well lived.
  15. Remember when this album was all you heard, everywhere you went.
  16. I finished Mark Waid's first run on The Flash. It was okay, but it was full of generic superhero stories. I don't see why it's considered a landmark run. I guess Mike Baron and William Messner-Loebs' runs may be considered weird to some folks, but to me, they were far more brilliant. There were some positives to Waid's run. He was good at multi-part storylines, and he did a lot of nice stuff with Wally and Linda. To his credit, his writing was solid enough that it didn't really matter when the art was subpar, but I don't get what the big deal was, other than the fact that it was long. Perhaps the appeal is that it was a solid superhero run in a decade not known for its solid superhero runs, but you'd think it was the equivalent to Peter David's Hulk run the way some people go on about it. I guess other folks are way more into the Speed Force thing than I was. I must really like Wally West, though, as I intend to keep going through the Morrison and Millar run and back to Waid, and maybe even Johns.
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