Thursday, June 29, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 6-28-06

Still so far behind on reading so no commentary for you!

52 #8

Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid, Writers
Keith Giffen, Art Breakdowns
Eddy Barrows, Penciller
Rob Stull, Inker

All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #6 (of 12)
Yeah, right, like I am going to type all those names.

Annihilation: Ronan #3 (of 4)
Simon Furman, Writer
Jorge Lucas, Artist

Batman #654
James Robinson, Writer
Don Kramer, Penciler
Wayne Faucher, Inker

Blue Beetle #4
Keith Giffen & John Rogers, Writers
Cully Hamner, Artist

Brave New World #1
A bunch of people.

Catwoman #56
Will Pfeifer, Writer
David Lopez, Penciller
Alvaro Lopez, Inker

Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre #2 (of 3)
Will Pfeifer, Writer
Cliff Chiang, Artist

Daredevil #86
Ed Brubaker, Writer
Michael Lark & Stefan Gaudiano, Artists

Eternals #1 (of 6)
Neil Gaiman, Writer
John Romita Jr., Penciller
Danny Miki & Tim Townsend, Inkers

Exiles #83
Tony Bedard, Writer
Casey Jones, Penciller
Vince Russell, Inker

Hawkgirl #53
Walter Simonson, Writer
Howard Chaykin, Artist

Ion #3 (of 12)
Ron Marz, Writer
Greg Tocchini, Penciller
Jay Leisten, Inker

JLA Classified #23
Steve Englehart, Writer
Tom Derenick, Penciller
Mark Farmer, Inker

The Leading Man #1 (of 5)
B. Clay Moore, Writer
Jeremy Haun, Artist

Loveless #8
Brian Azzarello, Writer
Danijel Zezelj, Artist

Moon Knight #3
Charlie Huston, Writer
David Finch, Penciller
Danny Miki with Victor Olazaba & Allen Martinez, Inkers

NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #6
Warren Ellis, Writer
Stuart Immonen, Penciller
Wade von Grawbadger, Inker

Solo #11
Sergio Aragones

Thunderbolt Jaxon #5 (of 5)
Dave Gibbons, Writer
John Higgins, Artist

Usagi Yojimbo #94
Stan Sakai, Writer & Artist

Wolverine #43
Marc Guggenheim, Writer
Humberto Ramos, Penciller
Carlos Cuevas, Inker

X-Men #187
Peter Milligan, Writer
Salvador Larroca, Artist

Monday, June 26, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 6-21-06

Yeah, I am still being a slacker. Sorry. At some point I will get all caught up on this reading thing that I do.

52 #7

Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid, Writers
Keith Giffen, Art Breakdowns
Lashley & Draxhall, Artists

All-Star Superman #4
Grant Morrison, Writer
Frank Quietly, Artist

Annihilation: Nova #3 (of 4)
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Writers
Kev Walker, Penciller
Rick Magyar, Inker

Astonishing X-Men #15
Joss Whedon, Writer
John Cassady, Artist

Birds of Prey #95
Gail Simone, Writer
Joe Prado, Penciller
Dick Giordano, Inker

Bite Club: Vampire Crime Unit #3
Howard Chaykin & David Tischman, Writers
David Hahn, Artist

The Black Coat: A Call to Arms #3 (of 4)
Adam Cogan, Writer
Francesco Francavilla, Artist

Captain America #19
Ed Brubaker, Writer
Steve Epting, Penciller
Steve Epting & Mike Perkins, Inkers

Casanova #1
Matt Fraction, Writer
Gabriel Ba, Artist

Conan #29
Mike Miognola, Writer
Cary Nord, Artist

Conan: Book of Thoth #4 (of 4)
Kurt Busiek & Len Wein, Writers
Kelley Jones, Artist

Ex Machina #21
Brian K. Vaughn, Writer
Tony Harris, Penciller
Tom Feister, Inker

The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1
Danny Bilson & Paul Demeo, Writers
Ken Lashley, Penciller
Kwl Studio, Norm Rapmund, Marlo Alquiza, and Jay Leisten, Inkers

Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allen Poe #2 (of 3)
Richard Margopoulos, Writer
Richard Corben, Artist

JSA Classified #13
Stuart Moore, Writer
Paul Gulacy, Penciller
Jimmy Palmiotti & Paul Gulacy, Inkers

Justice #6
Jim Krueger and Alex Ross, Writers
Doug Braithwaite and Alex Ross, Artists

Red Sonja #11
Michael Avon Oeming, Writer
Mel Rubi and Lee Moder, Artists

Rising Stars: Untouchable #5 (of 5)
Fiona Avery, Writer
Brent Anderson, Artist

Robin #151
Adam Beechen, Writer
Freddie E. Williams II, Artist

Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #6 (of 6)
Joe Kubert, Writer and Artist

Shadowpact #2
Bill Willingham, Writer and Penciller
Wayne Faucher, Inker

Superman/Batman #27
Mark Verheiden, Writer
Kevin Maguire, Artist

The Ultimates 2 #11
Mark Millar, Writer
Bryan Hitch, Penciller
Paul Neary, Inker

Uncanny X-Men #474
Tony Bedard, Writer
Roger Cruz, Penciller
Victor Olazaba, Inker

Uncanny X-Men Annual #1
Chris Claremont & Tony Bedard, Writers
Clayton Henry, Penciller
Mark Morales, Inker

X Isle #1
Andrew Cosby & Michael A. Nelson, Writers
Greg Scott, Artist

X-Men: Fairy Tales #2 (of 4)
C.B. Cebulski, Writer
Kyle Baker, Artist

Sunday, June 25, 2006

James Through the Ages

Whilst digging through my boxes of pictures in search of a picture of Miho I stumbled across the following collection of pictures which I thought I would share with you since I don't have any real content to offer. It charts my progress from skinny pre-pubescent dork to fat git as well as embarasses my sister along the way. Have fun!

So let's kick this party off right with a picture of me and a llama at Neverland Ranch back in 1981. By Neverland Ranch I might mean the Houston Zoo where we went for my sister's birthday party.

Here's me getting molested around Christmas in 1981.

I think this is at Chuck-E-Cheese, however it might have been Showtime Pizza. Ah, what a place for birthday parties!

I am not sure when this picture is from, but I am guessing from the balloon that it must have been someone's birthday and I know it had to be after 1982 because that little half-head in the center of the picture is Charlie. Anne, my sister, is the other one in the picture.

Here we are sometime around 4th grade at my freind Matt's brithday party, which was held at Hanna Barbara Land (which is now Splashtown USA). This "ride" was a primitive green screen thing where we had to act scared, etc. and then got a photo at the end. Matt is on the left, our freind Daniel Fowler (who was previously mentioned here) is in the middle, and I am on the right.
Now we skip a couple of years and jump to Senior Prom pictures with my date Stephanie Farr. I liked her until she wanted to get married during her senior year (she was a year behind me.) Don't I look hot!

Here is a picture taken of my home room class at our high school graduation in May 1992. I had to break out my yearbook to properly name everyone in this picture. From left to right are Brian Wright, who I ended up working with for a year or two at UCS, Chris Wilson, Laura Wingo, with Cliff Wren peeking out from behind her mortarboard, Marya Wineland (who I had a crush on for a couple of years), me, Nicole Winston, I am not sure who's next, Marshall Young, stealth dude, Tara Young, Spencer Yantis, and finally future real-estate magnate Michael Zin.

And then a few months later I was back at school to go to the Homecoming Dance with my off-again, on-again girlfreind Stephanie, however we went as part of a big group. Some of the highlights in this picture include one Mister Jack Thelen seated second from the left in the first row. You might read his blog, here. For the life of me I can't remember the names of the couple in the center of the front row, or Jack's date, however the couple on the end of the front row ar Terra Porter and Luke Johnson. Luke went on to join the Army after high school and I have no idea what happened to Terra. Now for the back row. Starting on the left are Vicki Burchfield and Reyer Withrow. Some time after this picture was taken Vicki and Jack started dating. She then went to school at University of Houston with me where she met Mr. TunaCan, whom she subsequently dated. Then there Stephanie Farr and me in the center. And then again I cannot rememebr the names of the last couple in the back, however I want to say the guy's name was Chris. [EDIT: Thanks to Jack I can put a couple more names with these faces. The girlie in Jack's lap is Kelly Holloway and the girlie one lap over is Kelly Doyle. They were both in band, actually everyone in this picture was in band, and were best friends. According to Jack they both went to SHSU and were never heard from again. We still don't know who that crap weasel is underneath Kelly Doyle so if anyone out there has any idea, let me know. The unidentified couple in the back row is Anna-Lise Koenig and Chris Chapman, neither of whom I knew very well. Today I discovered that Vikki went on to marry her post-TunaCan man and that Terra and Stephanie were the only females in this picture that Jack did not date at one time or another which confirms my theory of women wanting to date guys they think they can beat up. Thanks for the info Jack!]

Here is a series of pictures taken on Halloween in 1997. I was at a party with some of the guys on my hockey team and yes, I do have a full beard.

Here is a picture of me and a H-O-T-T-I-E in a latex catsuit at a freind's Halloween party. I don't know what year this happened, however it was after I moved to College Station therefore it had to be 1999 or after.

Here I am being attacked by a vicious lobster hat in Old Town Spring in April of 2003 or 2004.

Here is me shopwing off my good side in the Berkeley house sometime in late 2004 or early 2005.

Hey look, it's Charlie!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Japanese Cards

As I was digging through my box of letters while writing the "Green Tea Candy and Young Love" post I came across a few cards I received from my various Japanese penpals over the years. I thought I would scan them and share them with you in lieu of any actual content today.

Of course you have already seen this one, a Christmas/New Years card from my freind Miho.

Then there is this Christmas/New Years card from Nobuyuki, a freind from Kawasaki.

And then another Christmas/New Years card from Nobuyuki which included a little fold-out calendar featuring six different picture of Mt. Fuji.

Finally this is a Christmas/New Years card from Masaharu and Hiro, a couple of freinds from Tokyo.

Friday, June 23, 2006

An Open Letter to Representative Louie Gohmert

After I heard the clips from Mr. Gohmert’s vilification of Jack Murtha I felt the need to write the following letter:

Dear Mr. Gohmert,

I realize that as I am not one of your constituents my words will carry less weight than they could; however, as a fellow Texan, I feel it important that I write about your recent comments regarding Jack Murtha. To be completely honest I cannot even find the words to express the disgust I felt on hearing your words on the floor of the House of Representatives. How dare you, while standing in the people’s House, conduct yourself in such a manner?

As I reread the transcripts from the day’s events and write this letter, I keep coming back to one question. Why would you attack Mr. Murtha in such a manner? What purpose did your attack serve? Would not significant debate on the issue at hand have better served the public? You had made your point. You could have returned to your seat after your time expired, but you felt the need to ask for an additional thirty seconds of time to close. These thirty seconds you then chose to use by launching an ad hominem attack on Mr. Murtha. Of course you draped your vituperation is a flimsy cloak of compliments.

As much as I despise your behavior I can only see one purpose in it. It was neither the vilification of Jack Murtha, a target of opportunity, nor the expression of gratitude to God for all the good Mr. Murtha has done. Your statement was a transparent rhetorical stunt intended to stir up some modicum of interest in you by the national media. If this is the case - and I pray I am wrong - then shame on you, sir.

Sincerely yours

Apparently I am an angry young man. I dropped this letter in the mail today and I will post any response I receive here and now you guys will know what happened to me if I disappear to Club Fed.

Thanks to Kyle for the excellent edit suggestions. You’re going down with me pal.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rod for bobfish!

Is this the picture you were referring to?

Or perhaps this one?

Or maybe you want to see some hot Rob on Cup action?

Of course the Onion had to weigh in on the ‘Canes victory.

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 6-14-06

Once again I haven't had time to read and comment on the books so rather than fall further behind, here is a list of what I bought last week. I am hoping to catch up this weekend. Have fun!

52 Week 6

Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid, Writers
Keith Giffen, Art Breakdowns
Joe Bennett, Penciller
Ruy Jose, Inker

Annihilation: Super-Skrull #3 (of 4)
Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Writer
Greg Titus, Artist

Checkmate #3
Greg Rucka, Writer
Cliff Richards, Penciller
Bob Wiacek & Steve Bird, Inkers

Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven #5 (of 6)
Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, Writers
Gordon Purcell & Jimmy Palmiotti, Artists

DMZ #8
Brian Wood, Writer
Riccardo Burchielli, Artist

Exiles #82
Tony Bedard, Writer
J. Calafiore, Penciller
Mark McKenna, Inker

Ex Machina Sepcial #2 (of 2)
Brian K. Vaughn, Writer
Chris Sprouse, Penciller
Karl Story, Inker

Fables #50
Bill Willingham, Writer
Mark Buckingham, Penciller
Steve Leialoha & Andrew Pepoy, Inkers

Green Arrow #63
Judd Winick, Writer
Scott McDaniel, Penciller
Andy Owens, Inker

Green Lantern Corps #1
Dave Gibbons, Writer
Patrick Gleason, Penciller
Prentis Rollins, Inker

JLA Classified #22
Steve Englehart, Writer
Tom Derenick, Penciller
Mark Farmer, Inker

Legends of the Dark Knight #207
Bruce Jones, Writer
Ariel Olivetti, Artist

Nightwing #121
Bruce Jones, Writer
Paco Diaz, Penciller
Bit and Nathan Massengill, Inkers

Red Sonja/Claw #4 (of 4)
John Layman, Writer
Andy Smith, Artist

Squadron Supreme #4
J. Michael Straczynski, Writer
Gary Frank, Penciller
Jonathan Sibal, Inker

Supermarket #3
Brian Wood, Writer
Kristian, Artist

Ursa Minors! #1
Neil Kleid, Writer
Fernando Pinto, Artist

Wolverine Origins #3
Daniel Way, Writer
Steve Dillon, Artist

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Green Tea Candy and Young Love

This weekend I drove out to Nippon Daido, an ethnic grocery store that specializes in Japanese food and drink. I was on a quest for the Haagen-Dazs Green Tea & Kuromitsu crispy sandwich, which I tried during my layover in Narita. If you have the chance to pick them up, I highly recommend these little blocks of chocolaty-crunchy-creamy joy. My quest failed however since I was in the store I went ahead and made some other purchases, among them a bag of green tea flavored hard candies.

I first tried these candies during my junior year in high school (1990-1991) and ever since then, having one of these candies brings me back. Particularly they remind me of Miho, a foreign exchange student from Yokohama, Japan. She was only in town for fourteen days, however because of the nature of the project we were involved in we spent quite a bit of time together. I eventually worked up the guts to ask her out on a date. My friends Peter and Matthea went along to turn it into a double and as I think about this now, it very well may have been the first date I ever went on. (In high school I was, in Matt’s words, a big dumb weenie. Okay, I maintained my weenie-ness through college. Okay, fine, I am still a big dumb weenie when it comes to matters of the fairer sex.) Aside from a bit of embarrassment when I picked her up, the date went really well (not in that way you perverts.) We had fajitas for dinner and then spent some time walking around one of the parks in town. We talked, well as much as people who do not really speak a common language can (her English was passable, however mine is terrible), and then headed home. I did not even try to kiss her goodnight. (I really was a big dumb weenie.)

After she left the States we corresponded for a while and then things sort of tapered off, as they seem to do whenever I am involved in correspondence. God I am terrible at keeping up with people. (Right Kyle?) Last night I dug around in my box of papers and found four letters she sent me. Okay, it was two letters, a post card, and a Happy New Year card. So I popped one of the candies in my mouth and settled down to read. First up was this post card, dated February 26, 1991:

I will not share the entire contents with you but she did sign it with this cute little doodle:

As I sucked on the candy I wondered what she might be up to today. Although her last letter, dated May 24th, 1994, was only two pages long, it was full of news. Miho was about to finish school and start looking for a job. She was concerned about the job search since the Japanese economy had been slow. I wonder what she ended up doing. She also talked about her special boy friend, and I am sure she does not mean special in a short bus kind of way, so I wonder what ever happened with that. Is she married? Does she have kids? I wonder how the years have changed her.

Here is the one picture I have of her from her time in Texas.

Oh yeah, and if anyone knows where I can get the tasty ice cream treats that served as the impetus for this post please let me know.


Here is the Merry Christmas and Happy New Year card she sent me in 1992. The cards in Japan are MUCH cooler than ours.

Oh yeah, when I was flying from Inchon to Narita we flew over Mt. Fuji. It was very cool.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Hartford, the Whale?"

"They only beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime.”

If by Vancouver you mean canucks then, why yes Brodie, you’re right. With their win last night the New England Whalers Hartford Whalers Carolina Hurricanes captured their first league championship since the 9 to 6 drubbing they handed to the Winnipeg Jets in 1973 to become the first winners of the WHA’s Avco Cup.

I have to admit I was hoping that Edmonton might manage to pull off a win, but I really didn’t have a horse in this race, so way to go ‘Canes!

As much I as love watching hockey games, I think my favorite part of the whole hockey season is when the captain of the victorious team finally gets to lift the Stanley Cup over his head and take his victory lap. For some reason the whole ritual of the Cup victory lap always gets me a little choked up, particularly when it is a player like Rod Brind’Amour or Glen Wesley, who played for 17 and 18 NHL seasons respectively before winning the Stanley Cup. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this but I actually teared up in 2001 when Ray Bourque finally got his chance to lift the cup after 22 seasons on the ice. (You can watch a highlight reel from the game here.)

While this was going on bobfish and I were discussing how hockey players seem to be more passionate about winning the Stanley Cup than other professional athletes are about winning their respective championships. Or rather they seem more passionate once they win. I can’t really put my finger on why this is since there is the dog pile (baseball, which is hardly a sport at all), dousing of the coach in Gator-aide (football, don’t get me started), and the traditional throwing of the ball at the rafters (basketball, which has to be the most contact-y of non-contact sports), but for some reason they all seem to pale in comparison to the skating with the Cup.

Some people attribute this to how tough it is to actually win the Stanley Cup. Considering the physical demands of hockey, just finishing the 82 game regular season is a feat worthy of note. Add on to that a playoffs which can last anywhere from 16 games, which is the least number of playoff wins a team needs to take the Cup home (thus the semi-traditional throwing of the octopi in Detroit), all the way up to 28 games, and I think this argument is a fair one to make. However I think it honestly might have more to do with the manner in which the trophy is presented and the subsequent network coverage. Bobfish is a big football fan, or rather a Steelers fan (we can’t all have good taste in our team choices), and so she watched this year’s Super Bowl and the attendant ceremonies. Her observation, which I agree with, is that the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy felt too corporate. Rather than handing the trophy over to a mob of players right there, minutes after the game is over, the NFL takes the time to set up a little stage, bring the owner down from the luxury boxes, and then they only let one or two players up on the stage to accept the trophy along with the owner and coach. (The only illustration of this I could find was here.)

In all the years of watching hockey I cannot remember seeing a coach or owner lift the Stanley Cup before any of the players. In fact, as I think back, I don’t know if I have EVER seen a coach or owner lift the cup until AFTER all the players, the men who bled for it, have carried it around the ice. Another factor is the amount of history associated with the Stanley Cup. Originally donated in 1892, the Stanley Cup has been awarded in all but two of the subsequent 114 years, missing 1919 because of the flu pandemic and 2005 because Gary Bettman is an ass.

Of course they may all just be relieved that they managed to win the cup without ever having to wear this jersey:

(Picture lifted from here.)

Yes, dear readers, that is a bunny head on the bright yellow jersey of the ALIH’s Kokudo Bunnies, who have since changed to the Kokudo Lions. Only hockey players are man enough to throw on the cute and fuzzy bunny jersey to go face the public. (I seriously want one of these jerseys.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Heavy Reckoning to Make

Several months ago I was pondering an art project to memorialize the members of our armed services who have died in Iraq. Since my art focuses on words and language rather than drawing or painting or sculpting the focus of my thinking about this project was an attempt to use the names of the dead to spell out some message. Of course then I had to figure out the message.
It would be more personal if I were to write something myself, however I felt the gravitas of the project would be better served if I could find an applicable quote from a well known writer. Perhaps something from one of the founding fathers about the responsibility of the President during a time of war, or, barring that, perhaps John Locke or another philosopher. Unfortunately I am not very well read in this particular area and so the project came to a halt. I was also having trouble thinking of a visual presentation for the project. So I put the whole thing aside for a while.

Then the other day I was thinking about Henry V, which is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, and I remembered a couple of quotes that are very applicable to the situation in America today. The first is from Act 4 Scene 1 in which Williams, a soldier, is speaking to Henry, who is in disguise:
But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath
a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and
arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join
together at the latter day and cry all ‘We died at
such a place,’ some swearing, some crying for a
surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind
them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their
children rawly left.
I believe in the concept of a just and necessary war. I also believe the removal of Saddam from power is a good thing. Having said that I believe there was a better way for us to accomplish the goal of removing Saddam and introducing democracy to the region than using cherry-picked and massaged intelligence as a reason. Twenty-five hundred American lives and counting? A heavy reckoning indeed.

The second quote comes from earlier in the play where Henry is discussing the execution of a soldier who looted a church with Fluellen, one of the captains in the army, in Act 3 Scene 6:
We would have all such offenders so cut off: and we
give express charge, that in our marches through the
country, there be nothing compelled from the
villages, nothing taken but paid for, none of the
French upbraided or abused in disdainful language;
for when lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the
gentler gamester is the soonest winner.
I am not sure what I can say about this particularly in light of the recent events, Haditha for example. While we might be able to cling to some scraps of moral superiority by pointing to the insurgency in Iraq, and terrorists in general, and yelling really loudly that they use suicide bombers and we don’t, it is clear that we are not perceived as the gentler gamester on the world stage. American exceptionalism, which I do believe in, has to be used to provide leadership rather than condescension (which is really more of a French thing) and not as an excuse to ignore world opinion.

While I was reflecting on these quotes it occurred to me that this is why Shakespeare endures where others have not. His words, written almost four hundred years ago are applicable right now. The thing I cannot decide is whether it is awesome, by which I mean awe inspiring, or a bit depressing since we have not managed to move beyond the point where statements like these are applicable.

Quotes from the Bibliomania version of Henry V which you can view here.

Semi-Random Thoughts
  1. All this writing and thinking about Shakespeare reminded me to check the webpage for UT’s Shakespeare at Winedale program. This summer they are performing King Lear, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and As You Like It. You can check the schedule here. If you have not been to one of their performances you really should go check it out. It is Shakespeare as it was meant to be seen, up close and personal.
  2. While Henry V is my favorite Shakespeare play, I am also a fan of Much Ado About Nothing, particularly the Kenneth Branagh film which features a young and scrumdiddlyumptious Kate Beckinsale, one of the charter members of the Future Ex-Wives Club.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

NextWave - Agents of H.A.T.E. #5

Recently I experienced something I have never, ever experienced before in my life. A perfect comic. I can imagine the look of disbelief on your faces as you take a moment to digest that I, the pickiest and bitchiest of fanboys, have found the one comic that satisfies all of my comic needs. The words of Warren Ellis, the doodlings of Stuart Immonen, and the mad tracing skillz of Wade von Grawbadger (please take a moment to reflect on the fact that there is more than one person in the world with the last name Grawbadger) all aligned perfectly in NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #5 to produce the perfect comic.

In the beginning I was as blind to satire as the average audience member at this year’s White House Press Corps dinner. Therefore when I read the first issue of this series I was some what less than pleased with the result. Sure I giggled as Fin Fang Foom put in an appearance (and shed a tear when he realized his heart was broken), and I enjoyed Elsa Bloodstone’s guitar-o-rama of death as much as the next guy (okay, that would be a lie if this dude was sitting next to me) but as a whole the book struck me as kind of, well, blah. To be honest it struck me as somewhat masturbatory pap with Ellis just being crazy for crazy’s sake. Eventually some kind soul let me in on the joke by explaining that Ellis was taking the piss out of the spandex set. Armed with this knowledge I reread the first issue and this time I was able to laugh along with the crowd.

The joke kept humming along for four issues, each one eliciting a chuckle here and a giggle there, however then they dropped this bomb of comic genius commonly referred to as issue five. From cover to cover I was laughing, mostly out-loud to the dismay of my roommates, and the book and its jokes just stuck with me. I found myself having to fight the urge to call my coworkers “Fleshy Ones.” When asked about something I may have responded with, “Special Bear is dead.” (Since I am all about the non-sequiter, people expect this kind of stuff from me and it is not a sign of the madness finally setting in.)

In fact I enjoyed this comic so much that I became down right evangelical about it, forcing Mr. TunaCan to read it over dinner. It was at this moment that I realized I should share the crunchy goodness from start to finish with my loyal readers. Of course this is certain to drive at least three of you away (bye Mom), but like the man said, “With friends like these, who needs enemas?”

WARNING! If you actually care to read the comic and have yet to get this done WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Oh yeah, and don’t read anything beyond this point as I pretty much reveal all the jokes and then run them into the ground.

This issue opens on the H.A.T.E.’s (Highest Anti-Terrorims Effort) Aeromarine headquarters with General Dirk Anger (the leader of H.A.T.E. and an obvious riff on Dave Campbell) purging, which he describes as “…very important directorial anti-terrorist business…” His purging is interrupted by a minor functionary who informs him H.A.T.E. has learned the whereabouts of a group of renegade agents (NextWave, our heroes). The Aeromarine sets off at maximum speed to apprehend the agents.

Meanwhile our heroes have discovered one of The Beyond Corporation’s (H.A.T.E.’s benefactor and front for the S.I.L.E.N.T. terrorist organization) War Gardens where the Human Resource Operatives (aka. Broccoli Men) with whom our heroes have tangled in the past are grown. Clearly the only option is to do some gardening.

Of course since this is not a combat situation, we have to have some intra-team conflict to keep things interesting. Let’s be honest, even if the team is killing proto-broccoli murder dudes, gardening just doesn’t sell comics. (Although a comic on gardening by Ellis would probably turn a profit.) Strife with teammates. Robots that are complete dicks. Interstellar god-things telling a robot that he is a complete dick. These things sell comics and Ellis, he delivers the goods.

Now since this is not DragonBall Z (or one of my high school dates, come to think of it), we know we are going to get to the action sooner rather than later and on page 11 Dirk Anger and the Aeromarine arrive. As I was reading these panels I could hear Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries” and Dirk Anger’s voice started to sound suspiciously like Robert Duvall. Then things get crazy. I mean crazy in a Grant Morrison I Take MUCH Cooler Drugs Than You When I Write way. In rapid succession we see H.A.T.E. deploy:

1. The Armageddon Horn which looks like a Technicolor clarinet. This also may be one of the best names for a weapon ever as well as being an odd Biblical reference.

2. The Drop Bears. Better known as the “Widdle cuddly bears…of death.” These bad boys seem to be a cross between Stitch (of Lilo & Stitch fame) and your average, garden variety koala bear. With huge freakin’ teeth. (Some of you may be under the impression that this is the first time the U.S. government has entangled koalas in their covert operations, however you would be wrong. I would like to take this moment to draw your attention to 1986’s independent stand-out Naïve Inter-Dimensional Commando Koalas.)

3. The Assault Pterosuit Flock. They are men. They have guns. They chew Lizard Boom Sticks. And they wear Combat Pterodactyl Suits. You should fear them. If this isn’t enough, the guns they carry fire Quantum-Tunnel Drill Bits which are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. “Schrodinger’s death!”

4. Samuroid Batch 23. We don’t learn too much about the Samuroid Batch 23 other than Elsa is of the opinion that “Samurai robots beat guns. No question.” This leaves her with nothing but a shovel, and since its Elsa, she’s down.

Now Ellis doesn’t just leave us to wallow in combat. Oh no, he has some revealing character moments to thrust at us as well.

1. We learn that Monica Rambeau might have some issues with the truth, and that Captain America might be related to Eric Cartman.

2. The Captain hates teddy bears because of childhood trauma.

3. Tabitha was forced to work with one of the Summers clan. This trauma alone may explain her unique manner of speech and certainly qualifies her for inclusion on this pack of mentally unstable Z-listers.

I think it is plain that, while I was expecting a snack, Warren and crew served a meal of Gaussian proportions. This doesn’t even take in to account the Crayon Butchery variant edition. That’s right boys and girls, there is a variant edition of this comic which is printed on newsprint using only the line art so you can take a stab at coloring this issue yourself. Personally I bought three. Now I just need some crayons and once I am done with my issue I will post it here for your enjoyment. I will leave you with the immortal words of Butt-head, who said, “I have seen the top of the mountain.” In other words, it is all down hill from here.

Bonus Round – Marsupial versus Rodent

For those of you heathens who did not believe me about the Naïve Inter-Dimensional Commando Koalas I offer the following two panel spread from the first issue of their solo book:

For the rest this is to whet your appetite for the upcoming NIDCK feature here on the Opiate.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 06-07-2006

Gah! Work is busy! No time for reading or writing.
  • 52 #5
    • Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid, Writers
    • Keith Giffen, Art Breakdowns
    • Chris Batista, Penciller
    • Jimmy Palmiotti, Inker
  • Annihilation: Silver Surfer #3 (of 4)
    • Keith Giffen, Writer
    • Renato Arlem, Artist
  • B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine #3
    • Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, Writers
    • Guy Davis, Artist
  • Batman: Journey into Knight #10 (of 12)
    • Andrew Helfer, Writer
    • Tan Eng Huat, Artist
  • Batman: Secrets #4 (of 5)
    • Sam Keith, Writer and Artist
  • Detective Comics #820
    • James Robinson, Writer
    • Leonard Kirk, Layouts
    • Andy Clarke, Finishes
  • Fury: Peacemaker #5 (of 6)
    • Garth Ennis, Writer
    • Darick Robertson, Penciller
    • Rodney Ramos, Inker
  • JSA #86
    • Paul Levitz, Writer
    • Jerry Ordway, Luke Ross, and Dave Meikis, Artists
  • Luba’s Comics and Stories #8
    • Gilbert Hernandez, Writer & Artist
  • Manifest Eternity #1
    • Scott Lobdell, Writer
    • Dustin Nguyen, Artist
  • Outsiders #37
    • Judd Winick, Writer
    • Tom Grindberg & Matthe Clark, Pencillers
    • Art Thibert, Inker
  • Wonder Woman #1
    • Allan Heinberg, Writer
    • Terry Dodson, Penciller
    • Rachel Dodson, Inker

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Well kids, a project at work has gone pear shaped on me and looks like it is going to eat my life for the next few weeks. This means I am not going to have the time to give the Opiate the love and care it needs. I will be back once I get this project put to bed with more book reviews, a pile of TPB reviews, tales of my misadventures in Galveston and Austin and revealing pictures of a fellow blogger who will remain nameless.

Until then contemplate this picture, one of my favorites from Korea.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 06-01-06

No actually commentary this week. Life happens.

  • 52 #4
    • Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid, Writers
    • Keith Giffen, Art Breakdowns
    • Joe Bennett, Penciller
    • Jack Jadson, Inker
  • Age of Bronze #23
    • Eric Shanower, Writer & Artist
  • All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #5 (of 12)
    • A couple of people
  • Battlestar Galactica #0
    • Greg Pak, Writer
    • Nigel Raynor, Artist
  • Bushido #1
    • Tzvi Lebetkin, Writer
    • Stefano Cardoselli, Artist
  • Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre #1 (of 3)
    • Will Pfeifer, Writer
    • Cliff Chiang, Artist
  • Hero Squared #1
    • Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis, Writers
    • Joe Abraham, Artist
  • Ion #2
    • Ron Marz, Writer
    • Greg Tocchini, Penciller
    • Jay Leisten, Inker
  • JLA Classified #21
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Penciller
    • Sean Phillips, Inker
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #206
    • Justin Gray, Writer
    • Steven Cummins, Artist
  • Liberty Meadows #37
    • Frank Cho, Writer and Artist
  • Mouse Guard #3 (of 6)
    • David Petersen, Writer and Artist
  • Queen & Country #30
    • Greg Rucka, Writer
    • Chris Samnee, Artist
  • Red Sonja #10
    • Michael Avon Oeming, Writer
    • Mel Rubi & Pablo Marcos, Artists
  • Red Sonja vs. Thulsa Doom #4
    • Peter David and Luke Lieberman, Writers
    • Will Conrad, Artist
  • Rising Stars: Untouchable #4
    • Fiona Avery, Writer
    • Brent Anderson, Artist
  • Superman/Batman #26
    • Sam Loeb, Plot
    • A whole mess of writers
    • A whole mess of artists
  • Secret Six #1 (of 6)
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • Brad Walker, Penciller
    • Jimmy Palmiotti, Inker
  • Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #38
    • Jim Balent, Writer & Artist
  • Ultimate Extinction #5 (of 5)
    • Warren Ellis, Writer
    • Brandon Peterson, Artist
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four #30
    • Mark Millar, Writer
    • Greg Land, Penciller
    • Matt Ryan, Inker

  • Showcase Presents: Haunted Tank Vol. 1
    • Robert Kanigher, Writer
    • A gaggle of artists

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Good Ole...Fellas?

I was planning on sharing an awe-inspiring post I wrote over the weekend. It involves everything! Robots with an attitude. Check! Gardening. Check! Koalas. Check! Instead I stumbled across the following headline while ducking work in the lavatory:

Harper’s Landing fate hinges on Conroe offer

It took me a minute to realize why Harper’s Landing had a familiar ring to it. Harper’s Landing is one of the subdivisions of The Woodlands, however it had been built during the JD Period (James Diaspora) and therefore was not immediately recognizable like Grogan’s Mill (GM 4 Life), Panther Creek, and Cochrane’s Crossing. What really caught my eye was the subtitle:

Deal would end the annexation of neighborhood in The Woodlands

WTF?!?! Annexation? Conroe? I know The Woodlands exists under threat of annexation by Houston, but Conroe? I mean, seriously, it’s Conroe. This is the city that couldn’t find its way out of a wet paper sack if you pointed it towards the opening AND give it a very sharp knife.

Before I continue any further I feel I need to set the scene for you. As you may know, I grew up in The Woodlands which is not a real city but rather a master plan community. As with any successful master plan community this means that the property values are going to be elevated to the point where the majority of the population is going to be middle-class and up, generally upper middle-class. The Woodlands is located just a few miles south of Conroe on I-45 and those few miles make all the difference in the world.

Calling Conroe The Woodlands’ poor country cousin would be a nice way of putting it back in those days. For me Conroe was the place we went to play football games, at Moorehead Stadium which was the basis of at least one lame and infantile joke (just my sort!) I can remember, march in the lame-ass Go Texan! Parade, and the point on the trip home from Dallas where you knew you were getting out of the car very soon. Conroe did not play too large a part in my young life and, quite frankly, I liked it that way. Can you tell I was, and remain, less than impressed with the bustling metroplex that is Conroe? Let’s stop pulling punches then, shall we? I think Conroe is a crappy little town that, like Shennandoah, exists merely to leach off other population centers that are close and more vibrant and wealthy. (I’m sorry if I am an elitist prick, it just happens that way sometimes.)

There, now you know where I am coming from. Back to the article!

A utility board will have an emergency meeting today to consider a compromise deal that would halt Conroe’s plans to annex a neighborhood in The Woodlands.

Conroe Mayor Tommy Metcalf has offered to forgo annexing Municipal Utility Disctrict No. 39, which includes the Harper’s Landing neighborhood, if residents agree to pay the city (Conroe) instead of The Woodlands for fire protection services.

“It’s a fair compromise,” said Metcalf, “If they’re serious about not wanting to be annexed, they ought to whole-heartedly embrace this compromise.”

This sounds strangely familiar. Why yes, I do believe what we have here is a good old protection racket. While primarily the forte of organized crime, it has been used in the past as a manner of extending national interests (please see Czechoslovakian history around 1938 or so), and now it is being used by the good fellas on the Conroe city council to extort some $454,000 out of residents of The Woodlands. I seriously can’t believe this. Conroe is running an extortion racket on The Woodlands!

To properly honor the grand tradition of the protection racket, I thought Don Metcalf and his crew of good fellas could change the signs to something like:

(Okay, I know it needs some work and I will eventually post a better version of it, but I had to strike while this particular iron was hot.)

I should probably have something deep and insightful to say here, but I am too agast at this to be able to muster rational thought. I am caught somewhere between laughter and tears that this sort of almost-criminal behavior is being engaged in by city governments. Hell, just give out more traffic tickets if you want the money that badly.