Monday, August 28, 2017

My Jack Kirby Canon

Lists are fun, so I made a list of the best comics Jack Kirby worked on.

26.) Various Timely comics from 1940-1942 (Captain America Comics, Young Allies, etc.)
Comic books were young and so was Kirby. Kirby and Simon's art is kind of ugly in this era. There's a charm there; it's clearly better than a lot of other Golden Age garbage. Kirby's storytelling in this era is full of decorative flourishes that don't flow the way you expect a Jack Kirby comic to flow. This is simply not the Kirby you're looking for.

25.) Hulk stories from Tales to Astonish (1959) #68-84 by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Mike Esposito, Bill Everett, and more
These are Marvel by numbers. Nerdy guy experiences pressure from a superior while his alter ego is hounded by same superior? Check. Kirby's pencils are slowly phased out for finished art by Mike Esposito and later Bill Everett. Kirby's layouts keep everything clear but there's nothing here you couldn't get from another comic.

24.) X-men (1963) #1-16 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee with some assists from Alex Toth, Werner Roth, etc.
Kirby cranked out so much work in the 60s and it can't all be good. These comics suffer from inconsistent inking, odd word balloon placement, and Kirby's layouts being channeled through the hands of some less than sympathetic artists. It's a shame because the concepts and designs are really cool. Take the Juggernaut. That design is so weird and so Kirby! Yet the King didn't really produce a great Juggernaut story. Seeing Kirby and Toth's names credited on issue 12 and then reading the actual comic gave me whiplash. The Kirby/Toth/Colletta mix is hard to swallow.

23.) The early Spider-Man and The Human Torch team-ups (The Amazing Spider-Man #8 & Strange Tales Annual #2) by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko
These aren't bad comics but I don't particularly like them either. Ditko inking Kirby is always fun and Kirby's macho off-model Spider-Man is novel. Ditko couldn't draw the Thing and Kirby couldn't draw Spider-Man. I guess that's a fair trade.

22.) The Incredible Hulk (1962) # 1-5 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee with Paul Reinman, Dick Ayers, and Steve Ditko 
Like the earliest issues of Fantastic Four, these are a solid attempt at mining a continuing feature out of the monster comic tropes. Fantastic Four went beyond that material but Hulk never did. I'd rather read a one and done monster comic. Kirby would eventually make better Hulk comics with Hulk guest starring in other books.

21.) The Avengers (1963) #1-8 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee (W) with Dick Ayers, Paul Reinman, George Roussos, and Chic Stone
The first issue, inked by Dick Ayers, is an ass kicking action comic showcasing a nice portion of the regular Marvel cast. The rest of these are just kind of okay. I know that Ayers trying to make sense of Kirby's abstractions doesn't appeal to everyone but I think it's quite nice.

20.) 1st Issue Special (1975) #5: Manhunter by Jack Kirby and D. Bruce Berry
I bought this in a dollar bin at a weird neighborhood toy store that I only ever saw open once. It's a shame Kirby never did more with this iteration of Manhunter because the theme of aging that this issue hints at is intriguing. The opening scene in the "Cave of Talking Heads" is some of the most wild and weird shit I've seen in a Kirby book.

19.) The Challengers of the Unknown stories from Showcase (1956) #6, 7, 11, 12 & Challengers of the Unknown (1958) #1-8 by Jack Kirby with Dave Wood, Wally Wood, France Herron, Roz Kirby, etc.
The "proto-Fantastic Four" talking point gets brought up all of the time so I won't dwell on it. The real notable thing about this work is how it bridges the gap between Kirby's earlier, more illustrative comics and the more visceral action of his comics from the 1960s and beyond.

18.) The Eternals (1976) #1-19 & Annual #1 by Jack Kirby, Mike Royer, and John Verpoorten
This series is a continuation of the themes of the Fourth World series, now mixed with Erich Von Däniken's theories from Chariots of the Gods. As I've said previously, Kirby is a great match for this kind of material. Unfortunately, this series does not maintain that momentum for it's whole run.

17.) The Forever People (1971) #1-11 by Jack Kirby, Mike Royer, and Vince Colletta
Like The Eternals, this series also starts strong but runs out of steam. The main cast is really delightful and I always found myself disappointed when they'd leave to let the Infinity Man fight. Their banter, particularly when they interact with squares is some of the funniest Kirby material I've read. This series unravels when Deadman joins the regular cast, a direction that was forced on Kirby.

16.) Devil Dinosar (1978) #1-9 by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer
The simple thrills of dinosaurs fighting. How could I not like this?

15.) Captain America (1968) #193-214, Annual #3, 4 & Captain America's Bicentennial Battles (1976) by Jack Kirby with Frank Giacoia, and more
I've heard Kirby's 70s return to Marvel dismissed as self-parody. I think that goes a bit far but it definitely isn't at the same level as his 70s DC comics. There's a similar density of information and panel design in these comics but it feels oddly decompressed. It's like three issues of this run of Captain America contain as much story as one issue of New Gods. These are still good comics. I'm struck by the fictional version of America's wealthy elite using media saturation to drive the populace to violence and paranoia. It's just like real life! At one point Captain America admits that his ancestors may have owned slaves and listens as he has his privilege explained to him. The Bicentennial Battles special explains how America's history is full of horrible war crimes(!) but we can work together for a better and more just future. It's crazy that these comics were drawn by an old white guy in the 1970s.

14.) Boys' Ranch (1950) #1-6 by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon with Mort Meskin, Bruno Premiani, Marvin Stein, and George Roussos
I've been wanting to read these for a long time and finally picked up a set of reprints. I first became aware of them in an essay by Mark Evanier. Evanier mentions that prior to The Pact from New Gods #7, Kirby considered Mother Delilah from the third issue of Boys' Ranch to be his finest work. I can see why he'd feel that way. There is an emotional depth that I haven't see from earlier Simon & Kirby comics. There are some issues with misogyny and some of the allusion is a little too on the nose but these are incredibly ambitious comic books for 1950. The aforementioned inelegance and the roughness of the execution hold these back but they're worth reading. These are a treat for any Kirby fan interested in his development.

13.) 46 Hours and 36 Minutes in the Life of Jack Ruby by Jack Kirby and Chic Stone
I only recently discovered this gem from a 1967 issue of Esquire and now I'm a little obsessed. It's short but dense at three pages with eleven to fifteen panels on each page. It serves as a timeline of the final two days of Jack Ruby's life but Kirby delivers it as a terse little noir story.

12.) Mister Miracle (1971) #1-18 by Jack Kirby, Mike Royer, and Vince Colletta
As a fan of stage magic I've always been a little disappointed by Kirby's depiction of prestidigitation and escape acts. I wouldn't want to downplay the physicality of those skills but Kirby leaves out the grace, flexibility, and mental aspects. Scott Free (the best secret identity name in superhero comics) uses willpower to push through every trap set for him. It's still entertaining stuff, even though it loses some steam after the other Fourth World books get cancelled around the eleventh issue.

11.) Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. from Strange Tales (1951) #135-153 by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, John Severin, Don Heck, Jim Steranko, John Buscema, Ogden Whitney, and more
Steranko took control and brought this feature to more adventurous places but it was already pretty damn fun before he came along. The bonus is seeing a motley crew of cult artists working over Kirby's layouts along the way, including John Severin and Ogden "Herbie" Whitney.

10.) Fighting American (1954) #1-7 & Fighting American (1966) #1 by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon
I only just read these this last week and they really surprised me. I knew this was Kirby and Simon's "Commie Smashing Hero" but there's so much more to this. According to the introduction to the collection I bought, they started work on this title thinking they could cash in on McCarthyism. That's pretty gross. When they realized how far McCarthy was going to go they said "fuck it" and decided to go all in on this absurd superhero satire instead. Whoa, these are some wild superhero comics. Fighting American's origin is twisted. Nelson Flagg, our protagonist, is the younger brother of Johnny Flagg, a war hero who walks on crutches. Nelson is jealous of the respect his brother gets as a war hero and now as a tv news anchor. Johnny is beaten to death by evil Communist opera singers and Nelson, feeling guilty swears revenge and the Army offers to help him get that revenge. They rebuild Johnny's body as a sort of superhuman Frankenstein's monster and Nelson's mind is placed in his resurrected body. Nelson assumes Johnny's identity and his job as a reporter, forgetting about his life as Nelson Flagg. As Fighting American he takes orders from random G-Men and fights grotesque communist villains in all sorts of slapstick plots. I think I'm in love.

9.) Marvel Western comics including Rawhide Kid (1960) #17-32 & Two-Gun Kid (1953) #60-62 by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Dick Ayers
For a New Yorker, Kirby drew awesome westerns. Boy's Ranch had more character depth but a rougher execution. These on the other hand are beautifully drawn and intensely physical. If you wanted to find more comic book gun fighting this exciting you'd have to go to Japan. The plots feature a lot of Marvel superhero tropes, some developed here and some lifted from the superhero titles. Oh yeah! I almost forgot but there's even a Kirby monster in one of the Rawhide Kid issues!

8.) The Demon (1972) #1-16 by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer 
DC's 70s era pulp/horror informed superhero books are among my favorites in that company's history. I think a lot of people associate Kirby's art with weird future tech and forget that he's also really good at drawing gothic castles and medieval fantasy imagery. Jason Blood's allies and enemies are more archetypal than naturalistic but Kirby does archetypes better than most.

7.) The Marvel/Atlas Monster stories by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Dick Ayers
There's a certain thrill in picking up a classic Archie comic. If you can find joy in that sort of thing you'll enjoy any issue you pick up, whether it's drawn by Al Hartley or Dan DeCarlo. You'll know exactly what you're getting. The monster stories from Strange Tales, Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish, Journey Into Mystery, and Amazing Adventures are like that. There's a formula that repeats, there are storytelling beats that show up in every single one, and it always works.

6.) Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen (1954) #133-139 & 141-148 by Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta, and Mike Royer with alterations on Superman and Jimmy Olsen by Al Plastino and Murphy Anderson
It's rare to see Kirby working with characters created by someone else. That's not what I'd normally want from Kirby but this time it worked. It makes sense that Kirby would mix nicely with the utopian science fiction concepts associated with DC's Silver Age characters. In the first story arc of this run Kirby pushes those concepts further than they'd ever been pushed before. Jimmy Olsen befriends a society of highly advanced hippie scientists who live in a utopian separatist community. They produce some of the most beautiful and bizarre looking Kirby tech we've ever seen. I'm also going to go on the record saying that I sort of like the extremely on-model Superman and Jimmy Olsen interacting with these crazy Kirby settings and characters.

5.) 2001: A Space Odyssey Treasury Special (1976) & 2001: A Space Odyssey (1977) #1-10 by Jack Kirby, Mike Royer, and Frank Giacoia
The idea that there was a licensed comic book based upon 2001, and an ongoing series at that, is absurd. The fact that they're actually good is sublime. The Treasury Special is a movie adaptation but the series itself is like a Jack Kirby tone poem about cavemen, astronauts, robots, and more. I loved the movie when I was a kid but these days I'd rather read Kirby riffing on the same themes.

4.) Fantastic Four (1961) #1-102 & Annual #1-6 by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Joe Sinnott, and others
When I was younger the consensus seemed to be that this was Jack Kirby's defining work. The trouble is that this run is huge and hasn't always been accessible. The omnibus collections are too damn big to read. The Marvel Masterworks collections were too expensive, especially considering what a long series it was. So for the longest time I, and I think a lot of comics fans, were best acquainted with the most famous issues of this series. Those would be the very earliest issues, the Galactus trilogy, and This Man, This Monster. I've read a few of the final issues when I found some cheap coverless copies. Now I'm trying to fill the gaps. I'm making my way through this run and I still have a ways to go. It's great, and I'm not surprised by that. Still, this ranking is based upon an incomplete reading of this material. I'm trying to pace myself, reading an issue here and there. When all is said and done I might rank this differently but for now, I feel pretty good about it at number 4.

3.) New Gods (1971) #1-11, New Gods (1984) #6, and The Hunger Dogs (1985) by Jack Kirby with Mike Royer, Vince Colletta, Greg Theakston, D. Bruce Berry and more
I feel as if I've lived with these characters longer than most of Jack Kirby's creations but only in my most recent reading did these comics make a real impression on me. I wrote about them here.

2.) Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth (1972) #1-40 by Jack Kirby, Mike Royer, and D. Bruce Berry
For a long time this was my favorite series Kirby had created. In an era when I was interested in Jack Kirby but his work was not extensively reprinted I found that these back issues were more affordable than the series I heard more about like Fantastic Four and New Gods. This has breakneck action, double page spreads that flesh out the setting, and plenty of far out imagery. It also has some of Kirby's most somber imagery and story beats. If you want to look for it, you can find a concern about dehumanization that is closely linked to Kirby's experience viewing the holocaust as a Jewish American soldier in World War II. The sixth issue is up there with The Pact as one of Kirby's best stand alone stories.

1.) O.M.A.C. (1974) #1-8 by Jack Kirby,D. Bruce Berry, and Mike Royer
This is probably Kirby's most radical work, mixing his utopian visions, dystopian concerns, and a Philip K. Dick-esque post-modernism. Similar to my renewed love of New Gods, I revisited these comics a couple years ago and was blown away. Now these are the comics I point to as Jack Kirby's best work.

But there's still so much more. Kirby was insanely prolific, as I'm assuming anyone reading this already knows. I only have so much time to read comics and contrary to what you may think I actually read comics by other cartoonists as well.

I haven't really read any of his romance comics, his war comics, or his long run on Thor. I'm sure I'll make my way through that material eventually. I've read one issue of Silver Star and I really liked it but I haven't run into the others when digging through back issue bins. I guess I could look harder and maybe one day I'll decide to buy a complete set.

Perhaps I'll find more gems where I didn't expect them. There's an incredible Newsboy Legion story reprinted in one of those 70s DC 100 page comics. I had long written off Kirby's comics of the 40s because I didn't like the Timely stuff but this piqued my interest. The story is titled The House Where Time Stood Still. The Legion runs into danger when they attempt to sell War Bonds to a pair of hermits who appear to have been based upon the Collyer Brothers. The hermit's home is taken over by Nazi spies and the Guardian is forced to save them. The plot itself isn't a revelation but I'm curious about the setting. Suicide Slum appears to be a mythologized version of the Lower East Side where Kirby grew up. It made me think of the neighborhood legends we passed around when I was a kid.

Jack Kirby isn't my favorite cartoonist but I can't think of anyone else in comics with a body of work this large and very few whose works are this rewarding. Taking regular trips to Kirby's worlds have served as a redemptive escapism for me and writing a bunch of silly blog posts has been an attempt at paying him back for that. Happy Birthday Jack, thanks for the comics!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The World That's Coming

On July 25th, 1976, Viking 1 took a controversial photo of the Cydonia region on the planet Mars.

Hold on, is that a face?

As a child I thought there was no question. There was a face on the planet Mars, probably left behind by some ancient Martian civilization. I heard all of the expert speculation in an episode of Sightings and I was reminded of it's existence every time the Time-Life: Mysteries of the Unknown commercial aired. They played that ad over and over.

In 1958, Harvey Comics published a science fiction comic put together by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby called Race for the Moon. It contained a five page story titled The Face on Mars.

The first time I read this story was on some now defunct UFO website, accompanied by the kind of vaguely paranoid and poorly researched information I'd come to expect. The poster implied they were introducing information about a real extraterrestrial civilization through fiction. That was as funny to me as Jim Keith implying the increasing level of sex and violence in 90s Batman comics were part of a government mind control experiment in Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness. The intelligence community has messed around with plenty of niche groups over the years but I feel like I'd have heard some rumors from inside comics if we'd been infiltrated.

The Face on Mars was a good comic even if it's not amazing. The story of astronauts discovering the ruins of an ancient alien civilization has been told many times but this one is pleasingly executed. Kirby's designs are attractive and his art is enhanced by Al Williamson's beautiful inks. Those aspects are nice but it's the appearance of the infamous face that makes this comic memorable.

I wasn't a child when I read The Face on Mars. I had already learned about pareidolia. Mars Global Surveyor had already taken pictures of the face under a less friendly light. I was pretty sure what we'd obsessed over was an optical illusion. In spite of it's implausibility, knowing that Jack Kirby told a story about the face two decades before it entered the public imagination made it seem important again.

I would continue to find examples of Kirby's prescience. Kirby deployed Captain America in Europe fighting Nazis before the US officially entered World War II. He depicted the Easter Island heads having bodies buried underground before archaeologists dug them up and found out that they really did have bodies. There are drone weapons and smart bombs in The Hunger Dogs, OMAC, and even in a 1954 issue of The Fighting American.

Then there were the vaguely new age trappings of his most epic works. His characters regularly interacted with gods, if they weren't gods themselves. They attained higher states of consciousness or perceived unseen levels of reality.

Jack Kirby was a prophet. He was also regular guy with a great talent and an impressive drive to make new things. He was tapped into something intangible and it poured out of every one of his comics. Was it imagination or was it arcane knowledge? I don't think it really makes a difference. There's a voice in my head, and it may just be my sentimental side, but that voice tells me that Jack Kirby's 100th birthday is a significant event. Let's celebrate.

For a closer look at the original art for The Face on Mars check out this post from the Kirby Museum. 

For some writing about Kirby that touches on his more occult qualities, check out this article and some of the other articles it links to.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Marrow of the Bone (Joe Daly's Highbone Theater)

"I don't know how many times I've heard this one. You're talking to the guy at the party, presenting you crazy ideas about how reality isn't real, and the guy stands up and [bangs on podium]. 'See' he says, 'This is real. This is solid. This is reality! Try and disprove that!'"

-Jim Keith, speaking in his lecture UFOs at the Edge of Reality.

I'm at a party making small talk when the question gets asked.

"What about you? What kind of stuff are you interested in?"

"I'm really into comics and cartooning. Sometimes I even draw comics."

Most of the time people seem to think that's at least sort of interesting. I know some comics people have a persecution complex but that doesn't match my experience. Honestly, most folks don't care enough about comics to have malice towards them. Still, there have been a few times where people look at me like I have six heads.

"They still make those?"

I do have other ways of mystifying my fellow partygoers. As I've gotten older my interests have become increasingly particular and I have a group of surprisingly sympathetic friends. What do I talk about with a good friend at a party? Comics, pro wrestling, paranormal phenomena, conspiracy theories, pseudoscientific quackery, and the occult. Strangers? I suppose I hold back a bit for their own good. I think most people do, regardless of their interests.

Palmer, the main character of Joe Daly's newest comic Highbone Theater doesn't seem to share this instinct. He plays an instrument similar to a banjo called the Chubush. He prefers music played on this apparently Mongolian instrument to the kind played at most parties. When he tells a friend that he's spent the previous day experimenting with alternate guitar tunings (and reading about Kabbalah) his friend informs him that standard tuning "works just fine for me." People don't give a shit about Palmer's hobbies and they definitely don't care about looking beyond the illusory veil of reality.

Daly's cartooning is rather straightforward. I love when he drags moments out to milk every second of excruciating awkwardness.
Palmer may be glimpsing behind the veil but for many people that veil has been stripped away. Many people I love look at my more esoteric interests with a raised eyebrow but those same people have had their reality shattered by the 2016 US presidential election. Donald Trump is now president and someone like Alex Jones is a household name. My close friends and I used to send each other clips of Jones because we thought he was funny. It turns out he wasn't a harmless nutjob because he's actually got access to the president's ear. His Infowars is one of the handful of news sources our president trusts. Infowars readers are typical examples of the fragile white male ego. Palmer could fit into that camp too but he's such a loser that I couldn't help having sympathy. Part of me worries that I could have ended up like Palmer if I was a bit more detached, selfish, or gullible.

Trump and his cronies have bombarded the media with contradictory information. "Alternative Facts." That's nothing new for me. I've been sifting through disinfo since I was 12 years old. I learned about it the first time I logged onto the internet on my own personal computer I searched for "UFOs" and I've been wading in nonsense ever since.

I come from a long line of knee-jerk contrarians and it was too easy to just be a UFO skeptic or a UFO believer. Instead I became interested in how UFO hobbyists and researchers were exploited by independent con men as well as factions within the US government. Notable among them was a guy named Richard Doty.
Sack of shit Richard Doty in Mirage Men (2013)
The first time I encountered Richard Doty's name it was in Jim Keith's Saucers of the Illuminati. Doty was an AFOSI agent who manipulated UFO buffs by sharing fake documents with them and promoting science fiction narratives that swept through the world of UFO investigation. The first time I saw Doty's face and heard him talk was in the 2013 documentary Mirage Men by John Lendberg and Mark Pilkington. 

Seeing Doty tell his side of the story I was reminded of the many interviews I've watched with pro wrestlers. The blurred line between reality and fantasy is a big part of professional wrestling. Those who don't follow wrestling are content with the knowledge that the whole thing is fake. Wrestling fans know it's theatre that presents itself as an athletic contest, with a comparable level of physicality. The winners and even the events of a wrestling match are predetermined but many of the bumps that wrestlers take, even cooperative ones, are real, sometimes leading to injury and a notoriously short lifespan. Concussions are common and so are the changes in behavior associated with head trauma.

Outside of the ring wrestlers were once expected to portray their character in all public appearances. It can be difficult to discern the truth when it comes out of the mouth of an old pro wrestler. They often give interviews that acknowledge that the whole thing is fixed but they'll still act as if their rivalries with other wrestlers are real. Perhaps they're bullshitting for their own gain. Maybe they've inhabited their fictional world for so long that they can't tell the difference.

Doty braids together a similar rope of bullshit. He pushes the notion, and a number of other interview subjects seem to concur, that there may be some truth in the lies he's told. It's just like a wrestler trying to get over with a new audience. Doty uses the platform to suggest that Hollywood films about aliens have been made to slowly acclimate the public to the idea of visitors from another world. 

In Highbone Theater Palmer takes a date to see a new film based upon his favorite science fiction show "Space Journ" and the film becomes crucial to the plot and Palmer's awakening. In the film, the captain of The Nexus enters a mysterious black cube. Inside he participates in a series of trials laid out by a villain called The Bone Master. In the inverted universe of the black cube the Captain is forced to fight friends leading to injuries and later, an operation where his body is rebuilt. In the final trial the Bone Master asks the Captain inane questions about his opinions on Frank Capra films. In exasperation the Captain calls his enemy a "Dingle Root" then finds himself safe aboard the Nexus. Dingle Root had been a code word that unlocked the Hypercube and allowed him to be rescued. 

The Bone Master also seems to exist outside of the film. He is seen in a committee plotting to manipulate global politics as well as the mundane events of Palmer's life. The plan he describes is called the "Mahabone Theater," a phrase that also appears in Palmer's dreams. Mahabon is a word that might be familiar to anyone with an interest in Masonic Ritual.

Palmer says the magic word.
Masonic initiations are modeled after the ancient mystery religions. Ancient initiates acted out their death, symbolizing the end of their life in the material world, before they are resurrected as an illuminated one. The mysteries revealed to them awaken their knowledge of a higher spiritual plane. Freemasons also act out their death and resurrection. "Mahabon" is whispered in the ear of the candidate before he is "raised from the dead."

"I approached to the confines of death, and having trod on the threshold of Prosperine I returned from it, being carried through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining with a splendid light; and I manifestly drew near to the gods beneath, and the gods above, and proximately adored them."

-Apuleius, The Golden Ass, as quoted by Manly P. Hall in The Secret Teachings of All Ages.

Palmer acts as an initiate into a different set of mysteries. He becomes infatuated with a coworker named Billy Boy who we first see showing off a "Flatulence Tube" that allows the smell of his own farts to quickly dissipate from his clothes. Palmer sees him as a sage, eagerly picking his brain about various conspiracies.

Billy Boy welcomes Palmer into his inner circle by revealing that he'd lied about living with his wife. He has no wife and lives with his mother. Palmer views this as a disinformation system and chooses to believe the rest of Billy Boy's theories, even calling him a genius at one point.

Earlier this year the CIA released a bunch of documents through the Freedom of Information Act dealing with their experiments using an ESP technique called Remote Viewing. Supposed psychics were used to discern information about distant places. It's a sort of extra sensory reconnaissance. Even more spectacular is the fact that these documents claim that a large percentage of the intelligence they gathered was accurate.

A number of gnomic figures inhabit Palmer's visions.
When these documents came out it was fascinating to see the reactions of those that follow Forteana and conspiracies. The documents were seen as proof that Remote Viewing yielded results and that ESP must be real. Folks who regularly complain that the government is lying about everything from UFOs to JFK and 9/11 were also proclaiming that their belief in ESP had been validated by the very same government. It's just like the UFO researchers who choose to believe their favorite parts of Doty's claims or Palmer assuming that Billy Boy's lies were necessary.

It's no surprise that people are so desperate to reinforce their beliefs that they discredit sources based upon whether the results conform with their preexisting views. Conspiracy nuts reacting to FOIA documents are a micro snapshot of the greater media landscape It's the same as Trump supporters choosing to believe the that they are rebelling against a stifling leftist elite by propping up a conservative authoritarian elite or Hillary supporters thinking that neoliberalism can be progressive while preserving the power of corporate entities. None of these lies are new, they are just more aggressive now that media saturates every second of our lives. 

"Listen to me you queer, stop calling me a Crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in the goddamn face and you'll stay plastered."

-noted Crypto-Nazi William F. Buckley Jr in 1968. Yes, it's always been a circus.

With the world being unrelentingly shitty I try to escape with music and I'm always looking for something new, so I thought "Why not the Chubush?" I'll admit that I didn't put a lot of effort into it but my research into Chubush music has been fruitless. I tried googling Chubush a few times, attaching different keywords but I still found no information about this instrument. Daly presents Palmer's interest in the Chubush as odd enough to be funny but specific enough to feel like it could really exist.

He's not talking about brutal shredding on his Chubush.
For a little while there I really was willing to entertain the notion that it was real. After all, Palmer's other hobbies had real life equivalents. Space Journ being a stand-in for Star Trek is the most obvious one but there are others. I may not be intimately familiar with Hoodoo but I have encountered phrases like "Mojo Hand" and "working the root" when reading about other arcane practices (and listening to Muddy Waters).

Of course a creep like Palmer is uncomfortable talking to black people.
It is interesting to see Palmer, a caucasian living in South Africa, participating in a form of African folk magic. My instinct is that Palmer's interest in Hoodoo is similar to American white dudes appropriating the aspects of Native American mysticism. I think that usually comes from a mix of racism and postcolonial guilt where indigenous people are viewed as having magical/spiritual knowledge, rather than acknowledging their humanity.

Now, I'm not versed enough in the history of African occult traditions but I was under the impression that Hoodoo originates in west Africa. Is that like folks in the northeastern US using Navajo imagery? Most Americans have been taught a homogenized view of Native American cultures. Are white Africans just as ignorant? (Probably)

I'll have to admit that I don't really know, mostly due to a lack of experience. South Africa is a long way from my home in New York. That might explain why Palmer sees the 9/11 attacks the way he does.

Not pictured, Palmer frantically running around inside the towers after the plane hits and meeting some magic apes. This book is wild like that.
At another party, Palmer wonders if the 9/11 attacks were unreal. A friend interjects "Like an inside job!" If you've ever heard the phrase "Jet fuel can't melt steel beams" then you know that some people believe that the plane hijackings cover-up controlled explosions within the towers. Palmer goes a step further and suggests the possibility of fake planes and fake buildings. Maybe the eyewitness testimony we're all familiar with has been scripted. He sees it as an elaborate form of theatre, composed and directed by some shadowy cabal.

Daly isn't the first person to bring this idea to my attention. It came up at dinner with a friend I've known since we were kids. This friend recalled my being a nut and enjoying a chat about conspiracy theories. Apparently they'd recently fell into a youtube rabbit hole, watching all of those conspiracy videos with the Requiem for a Dream music in the background. She said to me "What I hadn't realized was that I couldn't think of anyone I knew personally who claimed to have seen the planes with their own eyes."

But I could. I remember sitting in my eight grade history class on a Tuesday morning. There was a knock on the door. The dean had something to tell our teacher. They whispered in the doorway and the class watched as Mrs. Legar gasped and sunk into herself. After regaining her composure she attempted to get back into her lesson but one student interrupted to ask if everything was okay. She said something tragic happened and we'd learn more when an announcement was made over the loud speaker.

That announcement was never made and the next period was gym. About a quarter of the students in our gym class had spent the previous period in a classroom on the opposite side of the building. That side directly faced the Manhattan skyline. The first time I actually heard about what was happening was from a student named Salmaan. We stood around him while he explained that a plane crashed into one of the Twin Towers and not much later another plane crashed into the other tower. There was skepticism surrounding this obviously crazy series of events but the rest of that class stepped forward to confirm Salmaan's story.

Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's Dark Knight Strikes Again is one of the only pieces of media that recalls what I remember Manhattan looking like that day.

My mother and brother picked me up from school after lunch and we walked along a silent LIE overpass. My brother told me about how he saw the first plane from the roof of Queens Center Mall. He was smoking a cigarette before going inside to work. As he went inside he heard another coworker startled, he turned around and saw the second plane in it's moment of impact.

I don't know if my secondhand memories of eyewitness accounts should convince anyone of the truth of anything but they're good enough for me. Those stories are as real as anything else I can't touch but still believe.

There is a strand of occult thought that resembles subjective idealism. The idea is that the material world is of questionable reality but there is some sort of real world beyond what our senses perceive. This reality is malleable and we shape it through perception, ritual, and will. Those in positions of power use those principles to serve the spectacle.

Conspiracy theorists attempt to expose the manipulations of those elites but usually fail. Many end up becoming pawns of some demagoguery. Their self delusion makes them think they can be heroes and they are anxious to accept the proof that they've been right all along. They fall for and spread disinfo or are swept up in some toxic ideology.

At the end of Highbone Theater Palmer faces the hands that move the pieces and creates the world he wants. Climate change brings about a new ice age and hurts everyone he knows but that doesn't matter. The people who doubted him end up apologizing. He was right about everything and now he can chug along smugly. He is content living his ascetic life in the wasteland.

"The man who believes the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear."
-Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Do You Remember When We Were Boys? (Tom Strong #6)

Cover by Dave Gibbons and Todd Klein
This issue focuses on Tom Strong's archenemy Paul Saveen. This is the part where a writer starts listing legendary enemies like Holmes and Moriarty, Dracula and Van Helsing, Lawler and Dundee, etc.

The whole archenemy thing is one of those tropes that is so easy to fuck up, with many of them just being completely contrived. I was kind of over the Batman/Joker relationship when I was a kid but from what I hear it's even more heavy handed these days. I try to be patient with the people who find out I like comics and then want to do nothing but talk about Batman. When those same folks start talking about the "depth" of his relationship with the Joker they are making it even more difficult for me.

I suppose classic archenemies are appropriate material for a comic like Tom Strong to mine. We've been hearing about Saveen since the first issue so it was obvious he'd show up, even if he's been thought dead for years. Tom spends most of the issue wandering through Saveen's museum-like lair. Saveen, for now, appears to be a frail old man clinging to the souvenirs of his past, juts like the Nazis and Pangaea in the last few issues.

This issue's Untold Tale depicts an earlier meeting between Tom and Paul. Dave Gibbons renders it in a straight forward fashion as you might expect from him. It looks nice but it's a bit on the unremarkable side. In general this story arc is not holding up the way I remember it.

The rest of the issue consists of Saveen trying to convince Tom how important they are to each other. Tom Strong isn't impressed and neither am I. Tom's reaction is probably supposed to subvert the trope of fated enemies but it rings hollow. Saveen is going for the hard sell and even if his voice is not the author's voice, it's still very loud.

It's tempting to say that this is forced because the history of these characters didn't exist until they told us it did. That said, Batman and the Joker developed naturally and I still can't stand them. Joker became THE villain thanks to a long history, visibility in other media, and fan consensus. Perhaps it's the harping on how they define each other that bothers me. Tom Strong and Paul Saveen don't have a toxic fanbase but this issue echoes the tedium of Batfans.

Tom Strong #6 (February 2000) was written by Alan Moore with art by Chris Sprouse, Al Gordon, and Mike Garcia as well as lettering by Todd Klein. The Untold Tale of Tom Strong contains additional art by Dave Gibbons

Strongmen of America - Revisiting Tom Strong 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Escape From Eden (Tom Strong #5)

Cover art by Jerry Ordway, Tad Ehrlich, and Todd Klein
Art by Jerry Ordway, Al Gordon, Tad Ehrlich, and Todd Klein
A picture or a story can project the idea that it's old without being old at all. That's a big part of the appeal of Tom Strong. It's a work that uses the tropes of old comics and pulp adventures to suggest that these characters have a history. The Untold Tale of Tom Strong in the series' fifth issue creates an air of familiarity but without being a direct homage to one style. The most obvious effect is the EC Comics style lettering. Todd Klein actually replicates the machine-like lettering of those comics (Todd wrote about that process on his blog here). It's not my preferred aesthetic for comics lettering but it's novel in the context of a story set in the 1950's. Jerry Ordway recalls bits and pieces of  Wood and Williamson's EC science fiction stories but there are adventure tropes there as well. I see Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and even lurid B science fiction movies. The story may be dominated by wordy Feldstein-like exposition but it comes out of the character's mouths rather than an unseen narrator.

Tom Strong himself would appear out of place in those traditions. Instead of a rugged all-American, Strong is above average, almost superhuman in terms of his strength and his intelligence. Both are idealized but Tom Strong is closer to Superman's godly presence in the world of men.

Art by Sprouse, Gordon, Ehrlich, and Klein
Much as I love Ordway, Chris Sprouse is actually the standout artist in this issue. He excels at showing the scale of the mysteriousancient continent of Pangaea and the intelligent slime-mold entity that lives there. Much of his art in this issue is made up of drawings of Tom just walking around by himself but they still manage to be arresting.

This issue also expands on the theme of this arc, which is the danger of nostalgia. The pulp trappings, and retro-futuristic designs of this series are obviously steeped in nostalgia but Moore appears to be cautious about wallowing in it too much. The modern science these characters discuss and general optimism they represent make the series feel progressive, rather than feeling like an excuse for navel-gazing. As for how that's suggested in this story, the Pangaean slime sees the uninhabitable past he lives in as a model of what the future should look like. That's not too dissimilar from how Ingrid Weiss sees the Third Reich and Nazi ideology that created her. Strong is pretty upfront about the Earth's past being a record of mistakes that we'll hopefully learn from. It's not exactly subtle, but the message is wrapped in a nice looking package.

Art by Chris Sprouse, Al Gordon, and Tad Ehrlich
Tom Strong #5 (December 1999) was written by Alan Moore with art by Chris Sprouse, Al Gordon, and Tad Ehrlich as well as lettering by Todd Klein. The Untold Tale of Tom Strong features additional art by Jerry Ordway.

Strongmen of America - Revisiting Tom Strong

Monday, March 6, 2017

Their Numbers Are Endless! Their Fear Is Contagious!

From New Gods #7 (1971) by Jack Kirby with Mike Royer

The ending of the seventh issue of Jack Kirby's original New Gods series is the kind of thing that you might immortalize in a marble sculpture or an epic metal song.

A temporary peace is established between the warring planets New Genesis and Apokolips through a pact in which each world's leader agrees to raise the other's child. Orion, the son of the series' principle antagonist Darkseid, is sent to live with Highfather on New Genesis. The fiery Orion draws a smuggled knife from his boot and demands to see the father he's never met. Highfather is able to cool Orion's temper and set him on the path toward becoming the hero of New Genesis.

It's easy to draw the comparison between this issue and the revelation that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. These days the internet is rife with articles about how these comics might have inspired it. Now if you've never read New Gods, imagine watching The Empire Strikes Back and never following it up with Return of the Jedi. Imagine if the story never ends.

If you can't imagine it then I'm going to assume you didn't grow up reading superhero comics. It's a world where heroes are destined to fight the same villains over and over again. New Gods ran for 11 issues but that last issue is just another episode. New Genesis and Apokolips are still at war. They always will be at war.

Darkseid appearing in The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984)
Jack Kirby was eventually given the opportunity to revisit the New Gods by the company that cancelled their title back in 1972, but only after the characters he created were part of a successful toy line and started appearing in the newest Super Friends cartoons. Mark Evanier's afterword in the Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus suggests that DC's new investment in this cast of characters prevented Kirby from producing the finale he had envisioned more than a decade earlier. Evanier avoids condemning The Hunger Dogs, the graphic novel that served as the conclusion of Kirby's New Gods stories. By reading between the lines he seems to imply that it's a lesser work than it could have or should have been.

I think Evanier is attempting to navigate the negative critical reputation of this work but let's be honest, we're not talking about how critics feel about this work. We're talking about the opinions of fans. Evanier points out that Kirby couldn't kill off any characters that DC might be able to profit from but why do these characters have to die to make a great story? Sure, fans know that Kirby draws great fights but why does this story have to end with hero punching villain like almost every other superhero story?

Looking back, Kirby cleverly incorporates those editorial mandates into one of the most powerful works of his career, easily as powerful as The Pact from New Gods #7.

The revival began in 1984 when DC reprinted New Gods on heavy baxter paper. Each issue of the reprint series collected two installments of the original series.The final issue containing a brand new story bridging the gap between the originals and The Hunger Dogs. In 1984 it'd been twelve years since Kirby's last New Gods story. At 66 years old his technical skills were different than at his perceived peak. Kirby in 1984 was working with a more raw, loose, and occasionally abstracted array of imagery.

From The Hunger Dogs (1985)
From Even Gods Must Die (1984)
Kirby is a cartoonist I associate with a certain visual clarity. When I imagine a comics page drawn by Jack Kirby I see a simple layout that is easy to read but that's not true of Kirby's work in these stories. These pages are very design heavy and it's not always obvious how they should be read, with Kirby occasionally relying on golden age style arrows to guide the reader's eyes. I don't think these are flaws. It makes this work stand out in his prolific career. Those design heavy pages are beautiful, often symmetrical, and shouldn't be too hard for a relatively comics literate reader to grasp.

In this new story, titled Even Gods Must Die, Kirby brings back old favorites like the Female Furies but they're upset about how things have changed since we last saw them. Instead of being engaged in the kind of battles we/they remember, they're stuck at monitors displaying Darkseid's new high tech weapons. Perhaps Kirby felt a similar distance from these characters given that he hadn't interacted with them in more than a decade.

The rise of these impersonal weapons where there had once been symbolic battles between archetypes also mirrors the way war evolved from the 20th into the 21st century. With characteristic prescience, Kirby criticizes the development of something like drone combat. Kirby saw war first hand as a soldier during World War II, one of the most gruesome collections of horrors strewn across the Earth. The war ended with a brand new horror, the atomic bomb. To optimistic hawks the bomb was a more "humane" form of warfare, as long as you can easily forget that your enemies are human. The architects of war were able to further distance those who commit violence from their victims by making war more similar to playing a video game. The myth that a future will come when wars are fought without troops on the ground isn't too dissimilar from the myth that modern war is less barbaric than those fought in our past. Kirby saw how ugly war's truth was up close. He was definitely suspicious of a war fought from a distance and possibly felt a certain weltschmerz about the honor we attach to old wars.

Even Gods Must Die ends with a confrontation between Orion and Darkseid. One might expect an epic battle but Kirby subverts that and we see Orion gunned down by enemy soldiers before his body falls into a pit of flame.

But the Gods are not dying this time. Orion is back for The Hunger Dogs, screaming in pain while he recovers from those wounds in the home of Himon. Himon had previously appeared in the Mister Miracle comics as an older resident of Apokolips's Armagetto. He rebelled against the laws of Darkseid and encouraged others to exercise their free will. In this story he appears to be preparing Orion for something like an ending.

The ending isn't a battle between gods. It's brought on by the uprising of the "Hunger Dogs" themselves, the disenfranchised residents of Armagetto. With his kingdom falling apart Darkseid makes his way through the chaos in an effort to kill Himon and Orion. He shoots the old man but instead of fighting Orion leaves with Himon's daughter. The last time we see Darkseid, he is alone. The bird's eye view makes him look small, and with the mortals he's ruled for so long overthrowing his power structure, he is smaller than he's ever been before.

From The Hunger Dogs by Jack Kirby with D. Bruce Berry, Mike Royer, and Greg Theakston

For me it brings to mind The Apocalypse of Adam, one of the ancient Gnostic manuscripts unearthed at Nag Hammadi in 1945. A 700 year old Adam (of Adam and Eve fame) reveals to his son Seth the knowledge that he and Eve obtained. They realize that they are greater and more powerful than the god of the bible, who is actually the demiurge. They once had knowledge of the true god of the universe but they lost it when man and woman were separated by the demiurge. He tells Seth "After those days, the eternal knowledge of the God of truth withdrew from me and your mother Eve. Since that time, we learned about dead things, like men. Then we recognized the God who had created us. For we were not strangers to his powers. And we served him in fear and slavery. And after these things, we became darkened in our heart(s). Now I slept in the thought of my heart."* Adam goes on to describe an apocalyptic vision where after a great deal of destruction an "Illuminator of Knowledge" appears and asks the kingdoms of the Earth about where their false knowledge came from but only those without a king know the truth.

The Hunger Dogs is an effective ending for a powerful body of work but as I said before, these characters lives continued after Jack Kirby drew his last page. The mythology of the Fourth World characters became a cornerstone of DC Comics and the universe where their stories take place. Aspects of those titles were absorbed into the relaunched Superman books in the late 80's and Darkseid became just another villain for Superman and the Justice League.

Darkseid in Superman: The Animated Series (1996)
That's how I became aware of these characters when I was a kid. Orion, Darkseid, and a few other Jack Kirby creations were recurring characters on Superman: The Animated Series. I was not as big of a fan of that show as the Batman cartoon from the same creators but the episode that introduced Orion really captured my imagination.They even included an abridged version of The Pact. Unfortunately we didn't get to see an animated version of bloodthirsty baby Orion.

When I first saw that episode I immediately thought about Star Wars. I loved Star Wars but it was different back then. It had already ended before I was born. Now we get a new Star Wars movie every year. Darkseid, Darth Vader, and the rest are kept on life support as intellectual property. In the end, the old gods never die.

*Apocalypse of Adam translation by George W. MacRae

Darkseid doing the "Basic Instinct" in DC Universe: Legacies #8 (2010) by Frank Quitely

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The comics I read in 2016. Were they good?

I know that a chorus of people on the internet are bemoaning the state of the world in the year 2016 and they're not wrong. I could easily throw my voice into that discussion but I'd like to use that energy for something else. 2016 was a difficult year for me on a personal level but the worst part is, not having enough money to buy new comics! (I kid, it was actually the crippling depression or maybe my home flooding multiple times. Who knows?)

The Best Comics I Read This Year:

Murder by Remote Control by Paul Kirchner and Janwillem Van De Wetering - I'd never heard of this book before this reprint but it really smacked me across the face when I read it. Now I want to read every comic Kirchner has ever drawn.

Peplum by Blutch - Another reprint except instead of smacking he across the face it crawled inside my belly and at sat there. 

Ganges #5 by Kevin Huizenga - Ganges is possibly my favorite comic book series of all time and this keeps that streak alive. Huizenga's beautifully designed pages evoke the complex relationship between the micro and macro levels of the physical and metaphysical world(s).

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe # 11-13 by Tom Scioli and John Barber - Okay, if you don't know anything about this, bear with me. When this series started I was only passingly familiar with Tom Scioli. Years earlier I had unfairly written him off as another derivative Jack Kirby torchbearer. I figured "I love Kirby but I get enough from the King himself." Later, an acquaintance linked me to some of his webcomics and I came to realize that Scioli was a creator with his own distinct voice. Not long after that I got the first Free Comic Book Day issue of this series. I don't really have nostalgia for these properties but I thought I'd give it a try. I never thought I'd fall in love, but I did. This series is a mix of Kirby, Steranko, and Druillet taking on action figures. It's packed to the brim with fun, funny, and awesome concepts and it always managed to top itself. The final issue is fittingly bastshit crazy. I wish his new DC Super Powers comics were their own series instead of a back-up in a comic by that My Chemical Romance guy.

Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus by Chester Brown - Chester Brown is a major inspiration for me. That said, I had been a bit disappointed in Paying For It. I wasn't bothered by it's polemical nature or the views expressed in it's pages. It just struck me as a bit too detached from it's subject matter. I actually really love the subdued emotion of Brown's cartooning but it's far more effective in his newest book. There are a few sequences of panels in Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus that recall the achingly beautiful starkness of Louis Riel but in the dreamy biblical landscape of his previous Gospel adaptations. This book is still a polemic but the subject matter is one that I already find fascinating. I wonder what Chester Brown thinks of Tolstoy's theological musings? I really ought to write him a letter one of these days.

Sir Alfred no. 3 by Tim Hensley - Here's a comic book art object in a similar vein to John Pham's last few issues of Epoxy, only without the otherworldly vibe. Instead Hensley is handling the imagery of mid twentieth century media in both film and comics. Lovely stuff.

What Am I Doing Here? by Abner Dean - I like Mark Newgarden as well as Steig's The Lonely Ones so I'm predisposed to enjoy this sort of material.

Other Great Comics:

Island #6-12, published by Image - These are mostly on this list because of the final installments of this anthology's two greatest serials, Ancestor by Matt Sheean & Malachi Ward and Habitat by Simon Roy which are just great sci-fi comics. I haven't dug everything in this anthology but Lando and Farel Dalrymple have me excited about future issues.

Blubber #2-3 by Gilbert Hernandez - Grotesque, erotic, violent dream comics. Beto makes it look so easy.

Copra #25-28 & Copra Versus #1-2 by Michel Fiffe - Issue #25 came out in December of 2015 but I didn't read it until early this year and it's probably one of my favorite issues. I had loved the "solo" issues a couple years ago that fleshed out the lives of the main cast and this issue does the same thing for the traitor Vitas. I really loved seeing a story from the past of this world which had me excited about the new Copra Versus series. The A.R.M. issue was pretty nice. Otherwise this year of Copra has been all about psychedelic cosmic imagery which is a field that Fiffe thrives in. He should really start making black light posters.

Honorable Mentions:

Frontier #11-14, published by Youth in Decline - Frontier is still a pretty consistent book but I do wish there were more capital "C" Comics in it like the Eleanor Davis issue.

Prophet: Earth War #1-6 by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Giannis Milanoigiannis, Ron Ackins, Grim Wilkins, Jenna Trost, Joseph Bergin III, Lin Visel, and Ed Brisson - The actual action that takes place in this miniseries isn't as epic as you'd expect. At least it feels a bit smaller than what I had imagined during the break between the end of Prophet and the start of this miniseries. I guess that isn't exactly fair of me. Instead of a series of epic showdowns, each grander than the last, we get more evocative snippets of the history of these characters, which I suppose is appropriate. I think I need a little more time to figure out how I feel about that.

Love and Rockets #1 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez - I've actually never read any L&R in pamphlet form but when I'd read the collections I'd find myself curious about the experience. There's some interesting material in this issue. Jaime taps into something similar to Blubber in one story. The Fritz story in here has my curiosity piqued. This is unsurprisingly a good comic but mostly it's whet my appetite for more.

Trap: Frankie Teardrop by Matt Seneca - Lurid comics about corporate properties are better than corporate comics that exploit lurid properties. Seneca's a witty guy and he's pushing buttons close to my heart here. I appreciate the personal touches about Bushwick. It's strange for me because I grew up in Queens within walking distance from Bushwick. When I was a kid my parents were terrified of me traveling there, thinking of it as a "dangerous neighborhood." Even as a kid I knew that was bullshit. Every neighborhood has it's seedy underbelly and I'd seen enough glimpses of the ugly side of my own neighborhood. I spent most of my time in Bushwick being afraid of the trouble I'd be in if my parents knew what we were doing there. As an adult I've been aware of the gentrification of Bushwick but it's been hard for me to grasp due to the way I remember it. Seneca's depiction, as well as his personal recollection creates an interesting bridge between the known and unknown Bushwick for me.

The Secret Voice #3 by Zack Soto - I know these are uploaded to the studygroup site but I can only bring myself to read these as comic books. I obsessed over the first and only issue of the original series when I was in High School. When I met Chris Pitzer at a convention a few years later it was the first thing I asked him about. I was happy to see that it continued and I'm always happy to spend a little more time in this world.

Jupiter's Legacy 2 #1-4 by Frank Quitely, Mark Millar, Sunny Gho, and Peter Doherty - I basically buy every Frank Quitely comic the day it comes out. Quitely could easily be credited with elevating the material he's given but Millar is putting together a fun superhero comic here. This is tasty junk food.


I wish I'd read the new Joe Daly book (my copy's actually in the mail at the moment along with that Queen Esmeraldas book). I haven't read Band For Life or Laid Waste yet but I'm planning on picking them up when I get the chance. There's probably other stuff I'm forgetting about as well as stuff I'm not aware of and you can feel free to enlighten me. If things work out right I'll hopefully have more disposable income in a few months. Fingers crossed.