Andy Rooney, The Living Planet!

The years spent on 60 Minutes hadn’t been enough. If only he had the full sixty minutes to himself.

Andy Rooney silently cursed Mike Wallace.

People just didn’t understand how things used to be. They didn’t understand how awful things were.

He needed to take action.

He stripped naked. It wasn’t hard, considering he was in a hospital gown. But he removed the gown and stepped into the pentagram he had painted on the cold tiled floor.

It looked perfectly. Exactly as it had been etched in the book. He hoped he would pronounce the incantation correctly. Did kids today worry about pronouncing things correctly? Probably not. What with their texting. And their LOL’ing. When he was a —

No. Stop. He couldn’t waste time with that. There would be an infinite amount of time if the spell succeeded.

He said the words.

He breathed his last breath.

And on November 4th, 2011, Andy Rooney’s spirit was dispersed across the world.

On November 5th, people across the world began to wonder aloud about “kids today” and “entitlement” and “how much better things were when they were younger.”

The spell worked. He didn’t need 60 Minutes anymore. He had 6 billion souls.

In the deepest darkest pits of those souls, Andy Rooney laughed.

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The Shy Trivia Night Host

An ode to to the anonymous trivia host at Sunswick’s “Trivia Night”

“Oh God.” He covered his mouth. Did he say that out loud? Did they hear or see him? He darted back into the men’s room and vomited, just barely making it to a toilet.

The group was there again. For trivia night. The two brunette girls, one short and one tall. A tall blonde guy and a bearded dude of about the same height. Their little friend with the glasses and hat would be showing up soon enough. He hated them.

No one ever showed up for trivia night. Why did this group persist? He searched for his phone to text Angela, but it wasn’t there. He left it on the bar. Shit.

Why did he even agree to host a trivia night? Was it that night of erotic Trivial Pursuit with Angela? Dice rubbing up against things which dice shouldn’t be rubbed up against. Erotic rewards for knowing Tony Danza’s costars from Who’s the –

No. He couldn’t think of that now. He washed his face, but couldn’t bear to look in the mirror. He had to go out there and host trivia night, damnit.

He walked to the bar palms sweating. Angela was taking their order. Someone, the bearded one, was clearly mouthing the words “trivia night.”

Grabbing his phone, he walked briskly behind her, slipping a note into her pocket. She was startled, but saw it was him, and turned back to the customers. He didn’t look back at her but he knew what her face looked like already.

He would go back to his apartment, and study the trivia cards again. He would be ready for next week.

Originally published September 15th, 2011

BAM! POW! Batman: Not Just For Depressed People With Vigilante Fantasies Anymore!

BAM! POW! Batman: Not Just For Depressed People With Vigilante Fantasies Anymore!

Every now and then the media gets a wild hair up their ass and decides they should do a report on comics and how they’re edgy. And violent. And…not just for kids anymore! Pop culture writers have been doing this during most of my 29 years on this earth, and whenever they do so, they usually invoke the sound effects associated with the 1966 live action Batman series.

It’s a shorthand. It’s a reference people get.  Something familiar that they can associate with the thing you are trying to tell them about.

So when a new Batman comic was announced that was based off of the Adam West Batman series, I was not excited. I probably said “UGH” out loud. But the first issue arrived, and word of mouth was good. Really good. So at a price of 99 cents, I decided to check it out.

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I’m happy to report that Batman ’66 by Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case is a fun and incredibly well-crafted comic book that goes well beyond paying tribute to a property that people are nostalgic for. This isn’t an empty embrace of “camp” like Joel Schumacher’s films.

Parker and Case use the digital format to play with color, echoing and expanding upon the moments in the show when action would pause for a sound effect laid over the action. Going from one page to the next, the page layout will appear similar, but the colors, dialogue and action all change. Check out these two pages:
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Case’s artwork captures the feel and the designs of the show, but he brings his own style to the book, casting different “actors” that look a bit like their real life counterparts, but never look stiff or photo-referenced.

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I can’t wait to see what Case does with the Joker on the book, as his Riddler is jumping off the page with energy.

Parker’s script shines in amazing moments like this:

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 9.08.04 PMIt helps set the tone of the world. It gets away from the restrictions that a word like ‘camp’ puts on a book, and brings it fully into a realm that is fun without any pretensions.

Plus, we can look forward to a showdown with Dracula.

Or Count Floyd, I suppose.

Soup R. Man: My Favorite Superman Comics

Soup R. Man: My Favorite Superman Comics

As I’ve written on here before, people are dismissive of comic books. But they’re REALLY dismissive of Superman.

He’s corny. He’s old. He’s a “boy scout” (often said with a sneer). He has too many powers.

There’s all sorts of excuses for why people don’t enjoy Superman, or wouldn’t read a Superman comic, but the fact is…most of these people have NEVER read a Superman comic book.

I won’t argue that these people aren’t right in some way to carry some preconceived notions about Superman, but if I might get all analogical on yo asses for a second: There are more bad pizza joints in the world than good, but people are still willing to eat pizza so…OK, this is just collapsing on itself. I really want pizza right now.

Anyway, yes, there are probably more bad Superman comics than good, but there are some GREAT Superman comics out there. There are a bunch on sale RIGHT NOW at Comixology: http://www.comixology.com/Superman-Unchained-plus-Sale/comics-collection/1257

Here’s some of my favorites:

All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 7.56.05 AMI’ve mentioned it numerous times before. This is THE Superman comic. It’s earnest yet never corny. Morrison and Quitely pay tribute to what has come before them without a wink or a smirk, but don’t get lost in nostalgia. Their Superman is not only one that is “super” by having powers, he’s also trying to be the best in all possible ways.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 8.39.18 PMThis isn’t a Superman that takes Lois on some cheesy romantic flight. Or gives her an amnesia kiss. This is a Superman that analyzes Lois Lane’s entire DNA sequence and figures out to give her superpowers for 24 hours. And he even sews her a super-suit!

Not only is he a hero that has saved the world a thousand times over, he is the best scientist/boyfriend ever. In the opinion of your humble comic book recommender, it is the best Superman comic ever done. It’s all the best parts of the character told by two of the best storytellers in the medium.

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Also written by Grant Morrison, with art by Rags Morales and Andy Kubert, is Action Comics (volume 2). It features a modern update to Superman, with a brasher, more idealistic Clark Kent/Superman.

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He knows a bit less about his heritage or where he fits in. What he does know, is he hates corporate fat-cats, and goes after them hardcore. It’s a great examination of what any of us would do with super powers after taking our first mind-blowing college course about how unfair the world is. And I say that without dismissing how that feels. Rather than getting lost in the wonder of super powers, this Superman is about what happens when powers and raw ideals collide.

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SPEAKING OF IDEALS. Superman: Red Son, by Mark Millar and Dave Johnson is a 3 part tale about a Superman that crash-lands in the Soviet Union rather than the United States. It then jumps back and forth as Superman and Lex Luthor act out their own Cold War until it culminates in a fun, Twilight Zone-y ending.

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Also, it has freedom-fighter Batman!

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Building further on the “what if Superman ____ in ____” theme, Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immomen is…well, it’s friggin beautiful is what it is.
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Immomen can do really stylized, cartoony art. This is not it. This is realistic, but not over-realistic. It’s just…gorgeous.
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Oh, yeah. But the high concept. It’s “Superman in the real world,” where a young man named Clark Kent, who has endured Superman jokes all his life just happens to wind up with the exact same powers as the fictional Superman. It’s really, really good. He even meets and falls in love with his own Lois.

I’ll follow up with a few more Superman favorites, but these are my top Superman comics. There’s no barrier to entry for these. Just good stories, that happen to feature an all around super man.

 

 

New Comics Days Are The Best Days…

New Comics Days Are The Best Days…

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 9.48.59 PMYou may not know this, but there are new comic books every single week.

They come out on Wednesdays. All due respect to Odin and his day, but Wednesday is done. Let New Comic Book Day shine forth as a beacon of hope in a weak full of Tuesdays and Thursdays and…Mondays.

But let us return to the magic of new comic book day. Its a day on which you can discover something magical that you’ve never read before, or read the latest exiting installment of a series that you’ve been waiting at least 30 days for.

On this new comic book day, I purchased two such gems.

Young Avengers #5 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

This must be Kieron Gillen week here, in which I rave about his work on two Marvel books in the beginning of the week, then lament that I didn’t tell people to buy his indie work instead, then tell you how awesome his new Marvel work with his indie collaborator Jamie McKelvie is! I know! I’m crraaaazy. Like a used car dealer’s pricing model!

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But hey y’all, this comic is GOOOOOOD.

Issues 1-5 of Young Avengers have dealt with a group of super powered teenagers battling their parents. And dancing. And flying in spaceships named after influential comic artists that are powered by imagination. Let me re-type this for posterity and for those of you that lack reading comprehension and would need me to type in all caps to give this the proper emphasis: Spaceships powered by imagination. Yes. Even questioning such a thing would cause the ship to crash, so the characters themselves have to suspend their disbelief in order to keep themselves suspended in the air.

Here’s where a GIF of someone clapping should go in honor of the excellent comic book that Gillen and McKelvie have produced.

So Young Avengers #5 fits the criteria of “eagerly anticipated series I’ve been following month to month.”

Subatomic Party Girls is the new discovery that made me all tingly and such with excitement.

Subatomic Party Girls is a fun fun fun fun fun fun comic book that fills me with such insane joy from typing the words Subatomic Party Girls.

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 10.13.20 PMThe enthusiasm from creators Chris Sims, Chad Bowers and Erica Henderson bleeds off the page. It also does the page bleeding equivalent of that on my tablet screen, too.

It’s about an all-girl band called Beryllium Steel, that’s about to be the First Band on the Moon! They wind up getting blasted into space much like Mike (and later Joel) of Mystery Science Theater 3000, though it appears they will have space adventures with space pirates rather than watch bad movies.

They space rock out while space training for space rocking.

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I don’t want to give up too much more about this comic. Henderson’s artwork is loose and kinetic. At the risk of being repetitive (while being too lazy to consult a thesaurus), I will say that her artwork is “fun.”

Bowers and Sims’ dialogue reminds me a bit of Gail Simone’s early work on Killer Princesses and Deadpool. Mainly for their ability to bounce bubbly characters off of comicly grumpy characters in order to aid in wackiness ensuing.

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 10.24.44 PMLook at that!!! There is a space cat pirate lady and she is grumpy as all hell while a space aardvark is dancing happily in the background. If that is not fun, I do not know what fun is. If I am correct about the fun-ness of this panel, the comic, and the authors’ intent (which appears to be having fun), then Subatomic Party Girls looks like F-U-N, and a great addition to my pile (well, digital pile) of comic books that I have to look forward to on New Comic Book Day!

Subatomic Party Girls (still loving typing it) is also only a mere 99 cents. So if my words have convinced any readers of my blog that they’re even slightly into checking it out, I’ll buy an issue for the first person that leaves a comment saying “Hey, Paul. I’d like to check that comic out, it sounds pretty good.”

More Digital Things To Buy With Your Digital Moneys

More Digital Things To Buy With Your Digital Moneys

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Today (May 20th, 2013) on Comixology, there is a sale focusing on one of my favorite current comic book writers, Kieron Gillen. So for only 99 cents an issue you can get nearly full runs of his work on Journey Into Mystery and Uncanny X-Men. I say “nearly full” since there are some dips into crossovers here and there, but don’t worry about that. If you have $45…buy them all. If you have less than that, well, I’d say buy all of Journey Into Mystery. Its that good.

Here’s the sale. It’s good until 11pm tonight: http://www.comixology.com/Kieron-Gillen-Sale/comics-collection/1202

Journey Into Mystery is all about Loki, the Norse trickster god and brother to Thor. Loki that nearly ended the world, then sacrificed himself, then was resurrected as a child who remembers little of his evil deeds, but still has a treacherous nature. It’s a beautifully written and illustrated series. Gillen is paired with a number of talented storytellers including Dough Braithwaite, Mitch Breitweiser, Richard Elson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Alan Davis and Stephanie Hans. It’s funny. It’s heartbreaking. It is well worth your moneys.

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That is Loki’s Hel-puppy, Thori. Yes.

Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men, in which he’s teamed with Carlos Pacheo, Greg Land, Daniel Acuna and Ron Garney, is a fun continuation of themes explored during Morrison, Whedon, and Ellis’s runs with the X-Men, in which Cyclops leads a team of mutants that’s goal is remind humanity that they are there to save the world while also reminding them they are not to be F’d with. There are no adorable hell-dogs in that series, but Namor is a pretty lovable jerk.

Buy these comics and buy them today. Come on. Hel-puppies. There’s at least 5 of them. They’re all adorable and evil.

The Old West That Never Was: East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

The Old West That Never Was: East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

I am firing guns into the air with excitement after reading the first two issues of East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta.

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Yeah, like that! Thanks, Mysterious Pale Cowboy!

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Anyway, East of West is a pretty damn interesting Sci-Fi Western Alternate History. It’s like a meaty chili comprised of genres. And meat. Literary and artistic meat. Hickman is setting up a mythology built on repeated phrases and symbols, while Dragotta…man, Dragotta is kicking some serious ass and really coming into his own with his own style. In the past, I feel like I’ve seen him trying to emulate Jack Kirby or Mike Allred, but this comic is where his art shines and is unique. He’s building and realizing a world that he and Hickman have imagined together, and it’s wonderful to see his style develop while building that world.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 9.54.33 PMSo what is the world of East of West? Well, rather than a United States of America made up of 50 states like in our plain old boring real world, Hickman and Dragotta quickly build a world in which the west was not won, but carved up along with the rest of the country into seven sovereign nations. Nations that appear to be united by a desire to bring about the end of the world.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 9.56.35 PMThere’s only one thing in their way. This guy.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 9.55.08 PMYes. THIS GUY.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 9.55.59 PMBLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM

Sorry. That’s Death. He’s not happy. Turns out theses apocalypse-happy world leaders have done pissed off one of the actual horsemen of the apocalypse. And he’s out to get vengeance against them and his fellow horsemen.

WESTERN STYLE

I have no idea how long this series is supposed to go on for, but I’m in it for the long run. If you’re someone who has enjoyed Blade Runner, Firefly, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, The Stand, Django Unchained, Kill Bill, or anything even remotely like any of those things, THIS COMIC BOOK IS FOR YOU. Read it. It is available for purchase wherever it is they sell these comic book things. Issues one and two have come out so far, so you can get in on the ground floor of this shindig.

Sorry. One more time.

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