Friday, December 30, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - January 5, 2006:

Batman And The Monster Men #3 (Matt Wagner's re-invention of an early Batman story is probably the best Batman story I've read in several years)
Exterminators #1 (Deeply, deeply fucked up story of exterminators with interesting character stuff and gorgeous art from Tony Moore. I'm not sure how sustainable the whole thing is, but it's an interesting first issue)
Jonah Hex #3 (Great single-issue storytelling from Palmiotti & Gray, true to the '70s Jonah Hex stuff but with a modern feel and terrific art by Luke Ross - This book is better than expected, one of DC's best new books)
Team Zero #2 (Solid if formulaic World War II actioner from Chuck Dixon and Doug Mahnke)

Down #3 (The change from Tony Harris to Cully Hamner in issue two robbed me of a lot of my initial enthusiasm, but I'm still interested in seeing how it ends)
Essential Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe Vol. 1 Tp (Still haven't decided whether or not I'm picking this up, but I'm glad Marvel is reprinting it at any rate)
Godland #6
Gotham Central #39
Marlene #1 (One-shot mystery by Peter Snejbjerg. Curious to see how his writing is, because I know his art is great)
Marvel Team-up #16 (Part two of the "Legion of Losers" story. This is still not up to Kirkman's standards on Invincible or Walking Dead, but it's become more enjoyable)
Marvel Zombies #2 (First issue was twisted fun. Another one I don't know how it'll sustain itself for the entire length of the series, but I'm curious to find out)
Sable & Fortune #1 (Two of my favorite C-list Marvel characters. I'm surprised to even see this published, but interested to see it)
Seven Soldiers Frankenstein #2
Y The Last Man #41
NYC 2123:
I'm an old school guy at heart, and I still like to hold a book in my hands rather than read it digitally. But one of my absolute favorite comics right now doesn't exist in paper form. It's called NYC2123, and it's probably the best cyberpunk comic ever done. Issue four just came out, and reveals that the previous three seemingly self-contained stories are in fact all lead-ins to a larger, and very interesting, story arc, with two more issues left to wrap up.

NYC 2123 is totally free. You can read it on the web or download it for PSP, and it reads great on PSP. In fact, if Marvel, DC or one of the other big companies was to wise up and try online distribution of some of their comics, they could do worse than going to these guys, handing them a boatload of cash, and getting them to convert some comics into panel-to-panel PSP versions. I'm kind of hoping for a collected print version when all is said and done, which I'll happily shell out cash for, but for right now I'm really enjoying having the books to read on my PSP.

Definitely check NYC 2123 out. Like I said, it's totally free, and it is a fantastic read.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays:
Hope everyone is having a safe, relaxing, fun (or at least one of the three) holiday. And if you're not celebrating Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, etc., then I hope y'all are having a good weekend.

More from me next year.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - December 21, 2005:
Changing this up a little bit. If the book I'm mentioning is an issue of an ongoing series and I don't have anything new to offer, I'll just tag it onto the list as an indication that I'm reading and enjoying it, but don't have anything more specific than that to say.

Light Brigade Tp (World War II supernatural thriller with gorgeous art by Peter Snejbjerg)
Runaways #11 (Some very fun moments in this one, including a great bluff by Chase)
Testament #1 (Very intriguing first issue, terrific art by Liam Sharp)

Birds Of Prey #89
Conan #23 (New storyline, following in the footsteps of "Tower of the Elephant")
Dracula Vs King Arthur #3
Girls #8
Image First Tp (Cheapie trade with first issues of some of Image's books, ala the Vertigo First Offenses trades)
Intimidators #1 ('60s superhero hooks up with Authority-esque team. Hilarity and mayhem ensues. Writing by Ninety Candles' Neil Kleid)
Manhunter #17 (After reading the trade, I read the back issues after the trade and now I'm caught up and now I'm kind of digging this book)
Owly Vol 3 Flying Lessons Tp (Yay! More Owly! What I'm looking forward to most this week)
Pvp #21
Revisionary #2 (First issue was pretty good, curious to see where it goes from here)
Shotgun Wedding #1 (Marc Bryant's long-delayed Speakeasy book about Romeo & Juliet set as a feud between mob families)
Spellgame #2 (Speaking of long-delayed Speakeasy books... finally issue two of this book! Really enjoyed the first issue)
Star Wars Empire #38 (Both Empire and Republic have been great lately, going out strong)
Star Wars Republic #80
Ultimate Wolverine Vs Hulk #1 (I just can't imagine it living up to the hype, but I love Lost and Lindelof's writing so I have to check it out)
Wimbledon Green Hc (New graphic novel by Seth. Also highly anticipated.)
X-men Deadly Genesis #2 (Kind of enjoyed the first issue, a blend of horror, superheroes and mystery. Like Brubaker's Cap, I'm not entirely sure I like it as a fan of the Marvel Universe, but stepping back and looking at is as a more unbiased comic book fan, it's good writing)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - December 14, 2005:

100 Bullets #67 (I'm having a hard time keeping up with the plot in single issues, but the mood and style is still there)
Amazing Joy Buzzards Vol 2 #3 (Rock and roll cartoon craziness continues)
DMZ #2 (Good "tour of the city" second issue following up on an excellent first issue)
Fables #44 (Great surprises and plot twists, this book keeps getting better and better. Quite possibly my favorite comic running right now)
Glx-mas Special (I wasn't completely crazy about the GLA miniseries (traded this week), but this special is kind of fun, and plays off the mini, so I may need to give it another shot)
Gravity Big City Super Hero Digest (Loved this new collegiate hero entry into the Marvel Universe though. Highly recommended digest)
Nothing Better #2 (Second issue of Tyler Page's college drama/humor series. Review HERE)
Smoke Vol 1 Tp (Really enjoyed this dark future actioner by Alex De Campi and Igor Kordey... and IDW trades are always swanky)
Temporary Vol 1 Tp (Dug the four issues of quirky stories of an office temp in weird jobs that are collected here as well)
Villains United Tp (I loved this series for five issues... and was really disappointed in some aspects of the ending. It's a super heavy week for me with trades anyway, so I will probably wind up giving it a pass)
X-factor #1 (Kind of fun, in the same vein as Peter David's Madrox mini. Has potential)

Bad Planet #1 (Curious to see this action/sci-fi series, cowritten by Steve Niles and Tom Jane)
Best Of The Spirit Tp (My chance to finally own some Spirit stories, since the archives were too pricey for me)
Fantastic Four Visionaries John Byrne Vol 5 Tp (I think I might be getting my fill of Byrne's FF, but I'll probably pick this one up and might keep going until the end, if I enjoy it)
Further Adventures Of One Page Filler Man Gn (Mahfood at his funniest, at least in the doses I've sampled)
Fused One Shot (I enjoyed the first Fused mini, and though the constantly changing artists sapped a lot of my enthusiasm and the second mini was not as strong, I'm still interested in seeing what Niles is doing with the character)
Hawaiian Dick The Last Resort #3 (Holy crap! With this, Samurai: Heaven & Earth #5 and Secret War Book Five all coming out this week after long, long delays... the apocalypse isn't coming right before Christmas, is it?)
Local #2 (Great first issue... second one is sure to be as good or better)
Noble Causes #15 (Really enjoying the new life that a sinister family of "anti-Nobles" has added to this book)
What If Wolverine (Like the concept of historically displaced heroes in the Marvel Universe. Not super excited about '30s gangster Wolverine, but curious at least)
Off My Routine:
On Friday, I went in for jury duty, and was dismissed along with everybody else after about half an hour. So with my Friday unusually free (I usually work), my wife and I went Christmas shopping for our daughter and then went to see Chronicles of Narnia. I loved it. Haven't read the book, although I did see the animated version when I was a kid, although most of that hadn't stuck with me either, so it was as new to me as Lord of the Rings was when I saw that. Now I'm curious to read the Narnia books, but I'm not sure I've really got the time or the inclination to pick them up or just wait for the movies at this point. We'll see, I guess.

Anyway, this day off wound up being a busier Friday than usual (I was only home for about 15 minutes all day) and I'm working at the store on Saturday and Sunday as well as running some errands on Monday, so it was a pretty busy weekend. The upshot of this is that there will be no reviews from me on Fourth Rail this week, although I will have a new Recommended Reading on Friday (and an update for the Fables Recommendation with the newest issue).

This seems as good a time as any to mention my planned holiday schedule for Fourth Rail. My guess at this point is that I'll have a First Issue Spotlight the week of the 18th (although I'll be out of town that weekend doing Christmas stuff with my wife's family, so it probably won't go up until Wednesday night or Thursday morning) and then I probably won't have any new reviews until next year. I just feel like I need a break, so I'm taking one. I will more than likely still have a new Recommended Reading every Friday, but I might wind up taking a break from those on Friday the 23rd and Friday the 30th as well, depending on how busy my holiday season actually is.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

This link is to Xeni Jardin of Boing-Boing interviewing my favorite director, Steven Soderbergh. Short, but good.

Monday, December 05, 2005

I Lost:
Well, my dreams of Celebrity Poker Showdown-hood are over. The final tournament started at 8 PM last night, and I was out by 8:30. I got horrendously bad cards, and when I finally got a good pocket pair (queens), I went up against two people who went all in (both had shorter stacks than me, so I suspected both had weaker hands)... one had pocket kings, the other drew a straight on the river, and that took over half my remaining chips. From there, with my cards still coming pretty weak, it was pretty much a given that I wasn't gonna make it to the final table.

I could have played a little tighter, but overall I think I played as well as I could with the cards I got. I went out somewhere in the 220s out of 319 players total. Ah, well... I guess it's back to my backup plan: Get a recurring role on a sitcom or drama at one of the big four networks. ;)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Evil, Inc. = Kickass webcomic:
I don't review webcomics, just because I don't even have the time to keep up with all the print comics I receive, but that doesn't mean I don't read them and, on occasion, find new ones. I just spent the last hour or so reading Evil Inc. by Brad Guigar and it is *fantastic*. Very funny, great characters, great high concept (behind the scenes at a supervillain corporation) and art that reminds me of Aaron Williams crossed with Garry Trudeau. Really great stuff, and well worth a read.

I'm also digging PVP, Penny Arcade, The Perry Bible Fellowship and Girls With Slingshots, just for the record.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Comics Stuff - Monthly Update for November
This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, listing my Current Favorite Monthly Titles, which is my counterpart to Current Favorite TV series, as well as my five favorite first issues of the month and my ten favorite graphic novel reads of the month.

A couple things of note in how I organize these things, for those who care. These listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. I've narrowed it down to five or ten, beyond that is further narrowing of which one I liked best than I want to do on a monthly basis, at least right now. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. And thirdly, I was relatively strict on the monthly series, in that it has to be a series that is solicited and actually printed monthly (for the most part, at least), and it has to be either ongoing or a long limited series (at least 30 issues) instead of a limited series. This is primarily why, for example, Age of Bronze (irregular schedule), True Story Swear to God (irregular schedule) and The Middle Man (limited series) didn't make the list. Of course, both The Goon and Walking Dead are not really as monthly as they mean to be, but hey, my blog, my rules.

In each case, I've provided a link for the listing, usually to one of my reviews (for further info on my opinion), but in the case of the monthly books and books I haven't reviewed, I've provided links to official publisher or creator sites or the best source of info I could find relatively easily. Oh, and the numbers in parentheses on the monthly titles is their latest ranking on the Diamond Top 300. Usually that's for the October Top 300, but some books (like Ex Machina) didn't have a new issue in that month, so the rating is a month old.

Finally, the updates are for the month of November... December just barely started. So all my favorites will be anywhere from a week to a full month old, but these are meant to be sort of "standing" preferences anyway.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - December 7, 2005:

Batman And The Monster Men #2 (If you've been disappointed with the campy, over-the-top All Star Batman, I'd especially recommend Matt Wagner's Batman tale, much more close in tone to Batman: Year One with an added touch of superhero flavor and great art)
Demo Collection Tp (Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan's great series of 12 one-shot tales collected in one volume)
Jonah Hex #2 (Solid second issue of the episodic western)
Looking Glass Wars Hatter M #1 (A dark take on Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter... review HERE)
Marvel Team-up #15 (Kind of fun. Kirkman puts many of the "morts" of the Marvel Universe front and center with a clever gimmick... too bad that the stories are getting better after Scott Kolins departed on art)
Marvel Zombies #1 (Twisted and funny... it's not a masterpiece or anything, but it is darkly fun for fans of horror/comedy)
New Warriors #6 (Solid conclusion to the entertaining miniseries)
Team Zero #1 (Surprisingly good first issue of a new action-oriented military miniseries... G.I. Joe fans should check this out)
Vimanarama Tp (I'm still not sure I liked it that much, but it's Morrison and Bond, and there's too much neat stuff not to pick up the trade)
What If Captain America (Sort of an OK story, but the new framing device and the idea of a parallel world with time-displaced Marvel heroes has real potential)
Y The Last Man #40 (More Y... what more can I say at this point?)

Age Of Bronze #22 (Wow, that was pretty quick... guess I'll have to update the Recommended Reading)
Down #2 (Really enjoyed the first issue of this crime stuff... Harris's work looks great with these colors)
Essential Spider-Woman Vol 1 Tp (The only real benefit of New Avengers to me is a resurgence for Spider-Woman, a character I've always kind of liked despite having read virtually zero stories with her in them)
Image Comics Holiday Special 2005 (Real solid line-up of talent for Image's holiday special)
Jla Classified Cold Steel #1 (Chris Moeller returns with a Justice League mecha story... curious to see how this one comes out)
Lost Squad #2 (First issue had good art, solid if predictable storytelling... I'll see what the second issue has to offer)
Maze Agency #1 (Never read this back in the day, but I'm curious to see what it's like)
Nat Turner #2 (Finally! Kyle Baker's beautiful and moving opus about the leader of a failed slave revolt gets underway once more)
Penny Arcade 1x 25 Cents (Penny Arcade = funny. And for 25 cents, you can't go wrong)
Robotika #1 (Art on this one looked gorgeous)
Rock N Roll One Shot (Ditto for this)
Seven Soldiers Mister Miracle #2 (Not even sure who's doing art for this one, and Mister Miracle #1 was the most disappointing Seven Soldiers for me so far, but... I've got to see this through to see if Morrison pulls it out in the end)
Surrogates #3 (The third issue of the fantastic speculative science fiction miniseries from Top Shelf)
Tails #1 (Animal activists in love!)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Music to Check Out:
My musical tastes are much less considered, more sprawling and yeah, probably worse than my tastes in comics, television, movies, etc... but I know what I like. And I really like what I've heard of The Metasciences, which I found through Warren Ellis's Apparat podcast.

You can download the whole album from their myspace page.

And any comics fan who doesn't have "Four Color Love Story" by the Metasciences in their collection is really, really, really missing out.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Upcoming on Fourth Rail - December update:
Time for my monthly update on what's coming from me on Fourth Rail in the future (both near and far). This is roughly in order of when I expect to get to them, but pay careful attention to the "roughly" in that sentence.

I've broken down my massive graphic novel pile (well, one of them at any rate - there are three more on my night table) into genres, hoping that this will spur me to get to them a bit quicker than I have been. The genres are not always a perfect match, and some of them I had to basically dump into an "other" genre because they were tough to classify, and some of the genre blocks (like horror) are big enough that they'll probably take two columns instead of one, but... well, this is all general anyway.

This also presumes I take no time off during Christmas or New Year's, which is probably unrealistic.

*Image trade updates (Reviews of the latest volumes of Image series trades, including Invincible Vol. 5, PVP Vol. 3, Walking Dead Vol. 4, Girls Vol. 1 and Death Jr.) - Expect these in the next week or so, unless I decide to fold some of them into upcoming "Recommended Reading" features

*Snapshots (A variety of material for capsule reviews, including Battle Pope #4, Conan & The Demons of Khitai #2, Karma Incorporated #2-3, Lethargic Lad Special #3, The Lonely Tombstone, Nodwick #30, Peng, PS 238 #13, Red Sonja: One More Day, The Roach #2-3, Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron #2, Wannabe #2, Dork Tower #32, Grounded #3, Star Wars Empire #37, Star Wars Republic #78-79, Zombie Tales Oblivion) - I'm trying to get caught up on Snapshots, so expect these (as well as additions from comp lists and new releases) parcelled out on a regular basis over the next few months - or I may just hit all of them within two weeks. Who knows? This is sort of an ongoing category.

*Speakeasy Focus (The Hunger TPB, The Living & The Dead OGN, Parting Ways OGN, Adventures of Bio-Boy #1, Spellgame #1, Ellium Vol. 1, Super-Crazy TNT Blast #1, Helios: In With The New #1, Elk's Run Compilation and maybe a couple more) - Unless the Hunger TPB comes out in the next week or two, I'll probably skip it and go with what I've got - I'll definitely try to get this done by mid-December

*Graphic Novel Spotlight - Mixed Category: This will include graphic novels I couldn't easily fit into a genre, currently: Coffee and Donuts, Comic Pulp Vol. 2, Wings of Anansi, Love As a Foreign Language, Favole Book One, Ojo and 2 Sisters - Probably second or third week of December

*December First Issue Spotlight (Currently to include Down, Paradox, Chicanos, Living in Infamy, plus whatever else comes out between now and then - I may skip this in December if more first issues don't turn up... and I may pass on any of those listed if we don't have them in stock at the store when I decide to do the reviews, as I don't have copies of any of them in my hands) - Either late December or early January

*Graphic Novel Spotlight - Action: Currently includes Army of Darkness: Shop Til You Drop Dead, The Faceless: A Terry Sharp Story, Full Moon Fever, Ganglords of Chinatown, The Ride & Ronin Hood of the 47 Samurai - Either late December or early January

*Another Mini-Comics Spotlight (Red Ice, Happy Birthday Anyway, Styx Taxi: As Above, So Below, 3 from Rob Croonenborghs, T-Frags: All-Comic Annual 2005, Hero Camp mini collection, Division Shadow) - Probably late December, maybe early January

*Graphic Novel Spotlight - All-Ages: Currently includes Alison Dare Vol. 2, Dare Detectives Vol. 1, Decoy: Menagerie Vol. 1, Electric Girl Vol. 3, Yets! - Probably mid-January

*Graphic Novel Spotlight - Horror: Currently includes Damn Nation, Dead@17: Rough Cut Vol. 3, The Fog, Hack/Slash: First Cut, Indigo Vertigo, The Irregulars, Runoff Vol. 2, Sea of Red Vol. 1 & Zombieworld: Winter's Dregs & Other Stories - Probably late January

*Graphic Novel Spotlight - Humor: Currently includes Dork Tower Vol. 8, The Groo Odyssey, Humor Can Be Funny, Hutch Owen: Unmarketable!, The Legend of Wild Man Fischer, Tales of Supernatural Law Vol. 1, Tozzer 2, You Deserved It - Probably late January or early February

*Graphic Novel Spotlight - Science-Fiction/Fantasy: Currently includes And the Sky Turned White, Forgotten Realms: Homeland, NYC Mech Vol. 1, Ring of Roses, Saint Germaine, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Vol. 4 - Probably mid-February

*Series spotlights (Raider 1-3, Cocopiazo #1-4, Students of the Unusual #2-6, Penguin Books' Treasure Island, The Wizard of Oz and MacBeth) - My goal is to mix these in between weeks, with Raider being first up

*Book Reviews (whenever I get time to read them) including: Foul Play! (The Art and Artists of EC Comics - Might include this with my horror focus column), Path of the Just/Path of the Bold, Will Eisner: A Spirited Life, I Was Someone Dead, Superman On The Couch, Hellboy: Odder Jobs - These will probably take some time

*Recommended Reading - Upcoming Recommended Reading features for December are currently slated to include Age of Bronze, Usagi Yojimbo, Invincible, Y: The Last Man and Conan (which is why you won't see any Snapshots on these anytime soon, they're going in the Recommended Reading features)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come:

Hack Slash Land Of Lost Toys #1 (The latest Hack/Slash offering, with swanky art by Dave Crosland. Review HERE)
Legend Of Grimjack Vol 4 Tp (More classic Grimjack reprints... I have all the original issues, but I still love the reprints IDW is doing, on nice paper with great production values)
Pvp Vol 3 Pvp Rides Again Tp (The latest volume of Scott Kurtz's humor strip)
Walking Dead Vol 4 Hearts Desire Tp (And the latest volume of the best zombie comic on the market)

Amazing Fantasy #15 (Big 'ol "new characters" issue... curious to see how this turns out)
Bprd The Black Flame #4 (I'll be interested to see if the ramifications of last issue turn out to be permanent. I'll be updating my Recommended Reading probably for Friday)
Chicanos #1 (Translated material by Carlos Trillo and Eduardo Risso)
Colonia Vol 2 On Into Great Lands Tp (Really enjoyed the first volume of this odd series, way back when... glad to see a second one)
Fear Agent #2 (More blue collar sci-fi from Remender and Moore)
Fell #3 (The latest of what is probably Ellis's best ongoing series of the moment)
Living In Infamy #1 (Supervillains retired and in witness protection, *not* played for laughs... sounds intriguing)
Middleman #4 (The conclusion of the first mini about secret agents protecting the world from aliens, monsters and giant mob monkeys)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

If you're coming here from The Fourth Rail, I apologize for the no update. I'm being a bit lazy, because I have a new review of Off Road written, but I figured a fair number of my readers wouldn't be reading at work on Turkey Day anyway, and so I'll just update that when I update my Recommended Reading (updated Godland and a new one on True Story Swear to God) on Friday.

I have seen some folks going on about the whole "Thanksgiving is based on lies, etc." thing, and I gotta say, this might be the one thing I really agree with the right wing on. My essential take is "Fuck you, let me have my holiday." I feel the same way about Christmas. Yes, it's materialistic, it's been co-opted by the corporations, etc., etc. Stop thinking so heavily about something that is at its best about renewing bonds with friends and family and enjoying good food or presents alongside those people. I'm sorry if your family or your personality makes this time of year hellish for you. But I enjoy it, so fuck you, let me have my holiday.

Wow... cheery holiday thoughts, huh? Sorry, a couple folks set me off on this today. But really, Thanksgiving is that time of year when you're supposed to give thanks. OK, primarily it's that time of year when you eat way too much food. But it's *also* about giving thanks. So, a quick list of things I'm thankful for, in no particular order and with no regard for the fact that some are completely trivial and some are not.

What I'm thankful for:

*My wife and my daughter. Everyday. Without them, the rest of it would mean absolutely nothing.

*My parents, who are some of the sweetest people I know, and who never once expressed any anger at putting me through 4 1/2 years of college so that I could become an unpaid comic reviewer and poorly-paid comic shop manager.

*My friends, who have provided me with plenty of laughter and much-needed support over the years.

*My readers at the Fourth Rail, especially those who have appreciated my shift away from my traditional fare into different topics of review and different formats

*I won the Celebrity Poker Showdown online, and I'm headed to the finals.

*iTunes, my iPod and my new Saturn, with the built-in iPod deck. Truthfully, I barely remember what radio sounds like. And I haven't heard a radio ad in literally a year or two.

*Great comics. There are a lot of them out there.

*Great TV. Lots of that too, although this one's dampened by the recent news about Arrested Development. Still, on that front, I'm glad for over 50 episodes of some of the most brilliant TV comedy ever.

*Burgers. Chocolate. Coca-Cola. Late night meals at IHOP. All-you-can-eat dumplings at Buffet Palace. Giant burritos from Freebird's. Giant slices of pizza from The Brooklyn Pie Company.

*STAPLE! Man, this is gonna be one badass show in 2006.

*The Basement Tapes, Lying in The Gutters and The X-Axis, possibly the best reason for comics fans to have an Internet connection. Although I'm still a bit bummed that I discovered Fanboy Rampage just in time for Graeme to retire.

*Tivo. DVD burners. Bit Torrent. PSP. Burnout: Revenge on PS/2.

Well, that's a partial list, at any rate.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Phear My Leet Poker Skillz:
So I've been playing in the online Celebrity Poker Showdown tournaments at Bravo. I have to admit that my first inclination to do so was the chance to actually play in the Celebrity Poker Showdown. I love that show, and it has given me a love of Texas Hold'Em, and though the chances seemed impossibly slim, I figured I'd give it a shot.

Then I started playing, and indeed, while I did well (usually lasting in the game for an hour or so, occasionally getting to the top 100 and once or twice the top 50) it seemed likely I was never going to win a tournament. See, the deal is, you win one of the qualifying tournaments, you get to play in the final online tournament, and the top five players there will go on to play Celebrity Poker Showdown in Vegas, and from there maybe on TV with celebrities.

Last night, I got to the final two tables. I went out #17. I figured that was probably the best I was gonna do. Tonight, I came in, and immediately started doing well. 3rd or 4th hand, I was in the top 100. About an hour into the game, I was in the top 50. An hour after that... the top 20 or top 10. Then I got to the final two tables again... and I was the chip leader at my table, and in the top 5 for a lot of the time, top 10 for some of it. Then I got to the final table, and I was the chip leader. A couple big pots, and I was the chip leader by a *lot*... I had over a million in chips, while most of the players were in the hundreds of thousands.

Then I got to the final two. I had a million six hundred thousand, the other player roughly a million and one hundred thousand. It was close, and I was very nervous, but I managed to win a couple pots, push into the big chip lead again and finally... I won.

I WON. A little pop-up gave me my virtual silver chip and told me an email was coming.

This has absolutely made my week. Probably my month. Playing in the final tournament is going to be a nerve-wracking experience, and the odds of me actually making it all the way to Celebrity Poker Showdown are probably slim, but that's what I thought of my odds of getting into the finals as well.

I am so very happy right now.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - November 23, 2005:

Daredevil #79 ("The Murdock Papers" continues... not crazy about their version of Bullseye, but otherwise still very much enjoying this last Bendis/Maleev story)
Ex Machina #16 (Nice conclusion to the two-parter about Mitchell's mother)
Girls Vol 1 Conception Tp (Very strange little horror/sci-fi tale gets its first collection)
She-hulk 2 #2 (After a somewhat lackluster start, this second issue of She-Hulk is much stronger)
Super Real #1 (Read and enjoyed this one a while back. Review HERE)
X-factor Visionaries Peter David Vol 1 Tp (Peter David's short-lived but very good humor/ mutant/ government hero book gets collected)
Y The Last Man Vol 6 Girl On Girl Tp (Collects the adventures of Yorick and company aboard an Australian ship, great stuff as always)
Young Avengers #9 (Jim Cheung returns, and this issue is the best in several months, with revelations about the secret origin of the shapechanger of the group)

Amazing Joy Buzzards Vol 2 #2 (First issue was great... can't wait to read the second)
Conan #22 (Continuing the "Tower of the Elephant" story, which has been great thus far)
Down #1 (Ellis and Harris's long-awaited undercover crime story)
Girls #7 (Starting to wonder if they're ever going to get where they're going, but still compelled to read this weird story, as I can never guess at what's going to happen next)
Godland #5 (More cosmic superhero adventure, and one of my favorite comics running)
Invincible #27 (Continuing the story of Mark's reunion with his father on an alien planet... I'm betting this is the issue where things turn ugly)
Jsa Classified #5 (Supervillain heist story by Jen Van Meter... really looking forward to this, as I love heist stories)
Off Road Gn (I have this one, but haven't read it yet... gorgeous artwork, though, and it's Oni so you know it'll be good.)
Paradox #1 (Christos Gage of Deadshot writes this new steampunk miniseries, and I'll check it out because I've really liked his other work thus far)
Previews Vol Xv #12 (Down the Line coming next week)
Seven Soldiers Frankenstein #1 (The last of the Seven Soldiers minis starts, with terrific artwork by Doug Mahnke)
Seven Soldiers Zatanna #4 (The latest of the Seven Soldiers minis concludes)
Walking Dead #24 (Wow, nothing for several months, now three issues in six weeks)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How to Simultaneously Scare The Shit out of me and make me homicidal:

Christ. That shit ain't *even* funny.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Arrested Development:
By now, those who care have probably heard that Arrested Development Season Three has been cut back from 22 to 13 episodes and canned after that. I kept hoping that the series would "pull a Seinfeld" and catch the ratings it desperately deserved, but it didn't. I'm irked at Fox for the decision, but I can't really blame them, they gave the show a lot of chances. Instead I blame the people who didn't watch it, and I hope your favorite show gets cancelled soon. (Unless your favorite show is also one of mine, in which case I hope your second favorite show gets cancelled. ;)

Bummed that it's all but over, but... on the bright side... that means 8 more episodes, plenty of time for the creators to give the whole thing a great send-off. And I've got all the episodes saved on my Tivo and will keep them until I know for sure that a Season Three DVD set is going to happen. I'd sure love to have the whole thing complete on DVD, but at any rate, I will have the complete series available to watch.

I guess this makes Lost or Veronica Mars my favorite show now. But honestly, much as I love both of them, Arrested Development was way ahead.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - November 16, 2005:

Batman And The Monster Men #1 (Matt Wagner writes and draws an early days Batman tale, and the first issue, with Hugo Strange, the Roman and a new love interest for Bruce Wayne, is really good)
Black Harvest #1 (Josh Howard launches his new horror book for Devil's Due, and I suspect fans of Dead@17 will dig this one as well)
Death Jr Tp (Loved this as a series from Image, looking forward to having the trade on my shelves)
Essential X-Factor Vol 1 Tp (I have a nostalgic fondness for the early X-Factor stuff)
Fables #43 (The second part of the arabian fables story arc is great. You can see more on my thoughts in Recommended Reading)
Local #1 (Great first issue. Review HERE)
Runaways #10 (Second part of the New York roadtrip, and while I'm not crazy about how Vaughan writes the other heroes, I'm still digging his use of the regular characters)
Thing #1 (Very strong first issue by Dan Slott, with gorgeous artwork by Andrea DiVito)
Vampirella Revelations #1 (If you can get past that ridiculous cheesecake costume, this is actually a really good sci-fi/horror/ action read by Mike Carey and Mike Lilly)

All Star Superman #1 (Can it live up to the hype? Well, it certainly can't be as embarrasingly self-parodying as All-Star Batman and Robin, can it?)
Banana Sundays #4 (The conclusion of Root Nibot and Colleen Coover's ultra-cute, ultra-fun talking monkeys tale)
Birds Of Prey #88 (More of Calculator vs. Oracle, and Simone continues to play on the less-Crisis-ed up fringes of the DC Universe, making this one of the few remaining DC superhero books I enjoy)
Concrete Vol 2 Heights Tp (Reading this first trade recently reminded me how good Concrete is, so I'm looking forward to more, especially as I haven't read most of these tales before)
Green Lantern #5 (Like Birds of Prey, Green Lantern is still on the outside of the Crisis stuff for the most part, and the creative team has been doing a bang-up job so far... aside from the lateness, of course)
Hero Squared #3 (The conclusion of Boom! Studios' Bwa-ha-ha miniseries)
Pvp #20 (More gaming and computer-related hilarity from Scott Kurtz, always enjoyable)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Earlier tonight, I attended the latest planning meeting for STAPLE!, the small press/independent media show here in Austin. The first year, I was more or less uninvolved, although I heard a lot about it since one of my best friends Chris "Dirty Uncle STAPLE" Nicholas was spearheading the show. My contribution was to promise to review a gigantic bag of stuff that I got from the show.

This year, I'm much more involved, going to every planning meeting, putting together the Xeric panel and now heading up the program guide. Lemme tell ya, it's more work on top of an already busy schedule, but there's such a nice sense of satisfaction in doing the work, in doing my part for comics, that I'm just sitting here at the computer with a big grin on my face, even though I spent two hours websearching, emailing and organizing that could otherwise have gone into watching Rome, The Colbert Report or the latest Alias.

There's big doings at STAPLE! this year. Really cool potential news lurking at every turn, and a bunch of folks working their asses off to make it an exceptionally cool show. If you're gonna be in Austin on March 4, 2006, you should make plans to be there, whether as an exhibitor or an attendee, and if you're not gonna be in Austin... well, maybe you should plan to be in Austin. It's gonna be a great show, I can feel it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Get out and vote... for all the good it'll do you:
I should preface this by saying that I'm sick, so I'm crankier than usual. But I'm also more tired than usual, which may explain my reaction to the passing of Proposition 2 (a.k.a. No gay marriage in Texas). Thing is... I'm not surprised. I knew it was going to pass. I remember voting against a similar, more heinous version of this proposition in Colorado banning "special rights" for gays, and it passed by a wide margin. At least then, I had the balm of having seen Clinton elected into office instead of Bush Sr. for a second term, so I felt like the national elections at least offered a victory for my side.

But Jesus, every time I vote these days, the end result is the opposite of what I'm voting for. By a lot. Bush wins. Bush wins second term (lemme tell ya, that one was the worst, because I really didn't expect it). My surrounding neighbors in Texas vote something like 70-80% to ban gay marriage in the state. At this point, voting for me is a futile gesture that accomplishes nothing, kind of like flipping someone off when they cut you off in traffic but without that short burst of self-satisfaction that fades as you realize it really didn't accomplish anything.

And yet... I'm just not all that angry about this. My wife was furious when I talked to her. My friend Dan was in a rotten mood that night. My buddy Nate has blasted away on his blog. The Haiku Mama has talked it up at hers. But all I can register anymore is a disappointed sigh, and the hopes that in the long term, people will be less stupid or less close-minded. And if you are by chance one of the people who voted for this amendment (or for similar anti-gay measures) and you happen to be reading this, let me be entirely clear:


OK, maybe I'm a little angry.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

National Novel-Writing Month:
I gather that November is National Novel-Writing Month. Now, I don't have any great desire to write the Great American Novel, but... I do love writing challenges and exercises like this one. It sounds insane, and quite possibly insanity-brewing, but it also sounds like fun, and unlike 24 Hour Comics (another writing challenge that fascinates me) it doesn't require any level of artistic talent to complete.

So... what am I saying? Nothing, yet. It's November 8th, and I don't want to start this late, plus I've got too much else on my plate right at the moment. But maybe next year I'll put reviewing and everything else on hold for a month and try to write a (no doubt really awful) novel. I will also no doubt try to rope Nate into this hell with me, if he's not already doing it this year on his own.

Or maybe next year I will have forgotten all about it or will think it's too much to take on. Could go either way, really.

Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that comics writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (Elk's Run, Western Tales of Terror) is writing a novel during November, a pulp-style murder mystery called "The Miller" that's quite good. And he's got an RSS feed, so you can just have it delivered to your Inbox if you're so inclined.
Ninja Monkey by Dave CroslandBack From Wizard World Texas:
Wizard World Texas is sort of a "non-Con" to me, as I compare it to my experiences with focused small press shows like SPX or gigantic events like San Diego, and so I had really done all I was going to do in about an hour. A quick sprint through the exhibition hall turned up mostly dealers, and since I have far too many toys and back issues already, they hold little interest for me. Another quick sprint through Artists' Alley turned up some familiar faces and a few other indy creators, but it pales beside the Artists' Alley of San Diego or the concentrated small press goodness of SPX.


That's not to say Wizard World Texas is a bad Con. Really, there are almost no opportunities for people in Texas to catch any of the big names without spending big money on planes and/or hotels, and fans of Ethan Van Sciver, Bryan Hitch and Michael Turner were no doubt delighted by the chance to take a drive instead of a flight and catch a couple of their favorite creators.

Pirate Monkey by Chris MorenoI saw Hitch only once, making his way through the hall, but Ethan and colorist Moose Baumann were parked in Artists' Alley throughout a lot of the show and doing really nice full-color sketches for a line of people using fairly reasonable pricing. And if you're a fan of gaming, whether miniatures, RPG or videogames, there was plenty to offer, from the swanky setup of Aeon Flux gaming machines to networked computers and Game Cubes and consoles to Sony's PS/2 and PSP setup in the middle of the hall, all the way to a gigantic gaming area staffed by Wizards of the Coast and Wizkids employees and volunteers.

At any rate, it was a worthwhile weekend trip for me. I got to hang out with Rafael Navarro of SONAMBULO fame and Mike Wellman of MAC AFRO, TEX! and GONE SOUTH, along with a number of friends or acquaintances from here in Austin. I got new sketches for the theme sketchbook from Dave Crosland and Chris Moreno, and a zombie sketch in my regular sketchbook from TRIP TO RUNDBERG's Shawn Richter. All were gorgeous. Richter in particular blew me away with his zombie sketch, and I think this guy might have a Tony Moore-esque "born to draw zombies" quality. Perhaps I should rethink that "zombie moratorium" after all... or maybe I'll just continue to make exceptions for books like RUNDBERG and ZOMBIE TALES.

Zombie by Shawn RichterOutside of convention stuff, we had an enjoyable meal with about a dozen people at Bennigan's (I know, I know, but nobody really had a good local restaurant location for us that we could find, and after a long day of the Con, sometimes you just want a burger and fries) with a waitress who did a really good job keeping up with us, a brief (but late) stop-in at the live art show by Dave Crosland and Jim Mahfood and an immensely difficult time navigating Dallas with stupid Mapquest directions that led to about an hour and a half of drive time for what should have been a 20-minute trip. Thankfully, me and my two travelling companions (Chris Nicholas and Gary Bartos) were in good spirits throughout, including coming up with Nolan Ryan's theme song, and when we finally did get to my sister-in-law's house about 3:00 in the morning, it was nice to have a place to crash.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - November 9th, 2005:

Also, a note to let people know I'll be at Wizard World Texas in Dallas this Saturday. Say hi if you see me!

DMZ #1 (Really great first issue, gorgeous artwork, I'm expecting great things out of this new Vertigo series)
Grimjack Killer Instinct Tp (Loved this return to form by the original Grimjack team, glad to finally see the trade)

Action Comics #833 (More Simone/Byrne, enjoy it while it lasts)
Fantastic Four Wedding Special (Karl Kesel tells a more classic Fantastic Four story celebrating 40 years of Reed and Sue's marriage... in which time, Franklin has aged three years)
Gotham Central #37 (New story arc, I believe)
Losers Close Quarters Tp (I stopped reading Losers in issues because I knew I'd enjoy the trades more. This is the first trade to come out since I stopped)
Love As A Foreign Language #4 (More of Joel and Hana's Korean romance, as delivered by J. Torres and Eric Kim)
Manga Masters Of The Art Tp (I've only skimmed this book a little, but it looks amazing, informative and packed with sketches and artwork as well)
Manhunter Vol 1 Street Justice Tp (I've been planning on giving this book a second chance, so I'll check out the trade and see if it clicks better with me the second time around)
New Warriors #5 (More cartoony fun from Zeb Wells and Skottie Young)
Polly & The Pirates #2 (Enjoyed the first issue, looking forward to learning more about Naifeh's pre-teen pirate queen Polly)
Rex Mundi #15 (More alternate history magic/conspiracy/horror from Image)
Scorpion Poison Tomorrow Digest Tp (Enjoyed the first couple chapters of this one enough to pick up the digest and read the whole story)
Star Wars Empire #37 (I really like what this creative team does with Star Wars from the Imperial point of view. First issue of this story (#36) was great, the rest should be as well)
Tales Of The Closet Vol 1 One Two Three Tp (Early, early Ivan Velez Jr. work, and since I dug his work at Milestone, I want to see what his earlier stuff looked like)
Walking Dead #23 (Ready for this book to get out of the prison and back on the road... the story's dragging a bit. But I'm still fascinated by all the characters)
Y The Last Man #39 (One of my favorite reads every month)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My Videogame Wish List:
I've recently realized that there are a bunch of videogames either out recently or coming out soon that I'm really interested in.

*Soul Calibur III - I bought a Dreamcast entirely to get Soul Calibur, and never regretted the purchase. Part of the reason I finally broke down and bought a PS/2 was to get Soul Calibur II. I *love* this game series, and can't wait to play the newest version. Burnout Revenge is a great party game, but Soul Calibur II has also been the center of many a fun game night with friends.

*Guitar Hero - I have resisted the urge to buy the Karaoke Revolution or Dance Dance Revolution (save a PS1 DDR and DDR mat that Suzanne got me for Christmas a couple years back) because it's the kind of thing you play in groups, and usually that group includes my friends Lana and Cindy, who own all the Karaoke Revolutions and many of the DDR games. But this looks just too cool. Guitar Hero is a rhythm game where you play along with songs on actual guitar controllers! The guys over at Penny-Arcade have been talking it up, and they also pointed to the multiplayer bundle that retails for just over a $100 and comes with two guitar controllers and the game. Said bundle has gone on my Amazon wish list, even though Amazon is listing it as unavailable at the moment.

*Star Wars Battlefront II - Loved Battlefront. Rented it and played the hell out of it on the PS/2, then bought it on the PC and played it a lot there. This one looks even cooler, better graphics, lets you play Jedi, engage in bigger space battles, etc. Definitely on my X-Mas list for the PS/2, and maybe the PSP as well.

That's without mentioning upcoming PSP games I have an interest in like Infected or older PS/2 games like Destroy All Humans! and God of War that I really should have in my library. But, as mentioned in the previous post, the car situation has taken a chunk out of my finances that was unexpected, so splurging on game purchases is not in the cards right now. I'll hope for a happy, game-filled Christmas, even though that means any serious play time on these games is about two months away.
So I Have A New Car:
Of late, I've written of issues with my car, specifically the antifreeze, which was leaking. After spending $1400 (from savings bonds which had been earmarked to become actual savings, but oh well) on the car about three weeks ago, everything seemed to be running fine. And then...

Saturday, I came out of work to find a large pool of antifreeze beneath my car. So large, in fact, that combined with the flashing warnings I'd been getting, I figured I should see what was up before I even drove home. What was up was that the leak was worse than ever, and the radiator was in fact damn near empty. I risked the drive home (and it went OK, with the engine temperature staying normal) and resolved to take it in on Monday. Suzanne placed the call for me on Monday morning when she got up to get me a 1:00 appointment.

At 1:00, I took the car down and dropped it off. At 3:30, I got the call I feared from the techs. Not a mere loose connection or bad seal or faulty radiator... cracked cylinders. $900 minimum, more likely another $1500, and a total engine rebuild kinda thing. "Is there any value on trading it in?" "That's what I would do if I were in your shoes" is what the tech told me. So Suzanne hauled me down to Saturn once again and went to drop off Katy before coming back to help me pick out a car.

Some of you may be wondering why I would immediately go back to Saturn when my last Saturn had just crapped out on me. Well, I drove that car almost 90,000 miles for 10 years and, aside from one minor problem with the starter and the usual tire and battery issues (which I had in low frequency), this was really the first problem I've had with it. It was a *damn* good car.

I met with Connie, who was really great, and who had a car on the lot that was a manual transmission (my preference), manual locks/windows (my preference) Ion 2 (comparable to my 10-year-old SL2) for about $13k, which was in the right price range. She went back to her manager after I told her my tale of repair woe and got $700 back for me as a credit on my trade-in, which was great. So by the time Suzanne came back (about 10-15 minutes later) she was surprised that I had already picked out the new car. To my delight, the Saturn radios now come standard with input jacks so I could plug my iPod in, which was one of my bigger concerns about getting a new car.

I've been driving the car for a couple days now and I really love it. The financial hit was unfortunate, but survivable, taking a chunk out of my savings and forcing us into two car payments for the month of December, when we'll hopefully use Christmas money to pay off the rest of Suzanne's car. All told, I probably would have rather had more choice in when I got a new car so that I could take my time and look around, and I would really have enjoyed having my old car for another year or so and having a solid year without car payments, but... I can't complain. It's a nice car that I'm enjoying driving. It just means watching the expenses for a little while. More on that in the next post.
Comics Stuff - Monthly Update for October
This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, listing my Current Favorite Monthly Titles, which is my counterpart to Current Favorite TV series, as well as my five favorite first issues of the month and my ten favorite graphic novel reads of the month.

A couple things of note in how I organize these things, for those who care. These listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. I've narrowed it down to five or ten, beyond that is further narrowing of which one I liked best than I want to do on a monthly basis, at least right now. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. And thirdly, I was relatively strict on the monthly series, in that it has to be a series that is solicited and actually printed monthly (for the most part, at least), and it has to be either ongoing or a long ongoing (at least 30 issues) instead of a limited series. This is primarily why, for example, Age of Bronze (irregular schedule), True Story Swear to God (irregular schedule) and Banana Sundays (limited series) didn't make the list. Of course, both The Goon and Walking Dead are not really as monthly as they mean to be, but hey, my blog, my rules.

In each case, I've provided a link for the listing, usually to one of my reviews (for further info on my opinion), but in the case of the monthly books and books I haven't reviewed, I've provided links to official publisher or creator sites or the best source of info I could find relatively easily. Oh, and the numbers in parentheses on the monthly titles is their latest ranking on the Diamond Top 300. Usually that's for the September Top 300, but some books (like Ex Machina) didn't have a new issue in that month, so the rating is a month old. In the best example of how pushing out biweekly pop comics kills the market for lower-rated comics, most of the series I follow jumped up about six or more slots this month, because there weren't two issues of House of M taking up two spaces on the charts... just two issues of Ultimate Spider-Man and New Avengers. Damn you, Bendis, you prolific, talented bastard! ;)

Finally, the updates are for the month of October... November just barely started. So all my favorites will be anywhere from a week to a full month old, but these are meant to be sort of "standing" preferences anyway.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Upcoming on Fourth Rail:
Time for my monthly update on what's coming from me on Fourth Rail in the future (both near and far). This is roughly in order of when I expect to get to them, but pay careful attention to the "roughly" in that sentence.

*Another Indy Spotlight (Comic Pulp Vol. 1, Rocket Rabbit 1, The Calling, Something So Familiar, The Wandering Schoolgirl, Nothing Left to Lose) - Next week, maybe?

*Speakeasy Focus (The Hunger TPB (due next week, I believe), The Living & The Dead OGN, Parting Ways OGN, Adventures of Bio-Boy #1, Spellgame #1-2, Ellium Vol. 1, Super-Crazy TNT Blast #1, Helios: In With The New #1, Elk's Run Compilation and maybe a couple more) - Expect this one about a week after The Hunger TPB comes out, so probably mid-November

*Manga Spotlight (Rising Stars of Manga Vol. 5, Steady Beat, I Luv Halloween, Naoki Urusawa's Monster (running late), Japan v.1, The Monkey King v.1) - Waiting on Monster's release, which at this point may be late November or early December... if it's later than that, I'll probably run this without it

*Another First Issue Spotlight (The Lonely Tombstone, Giant Monster, Army of Darkness vs. Reanimator #1, Robotika Preview, Zombie Tales: Oblivion, Season of the Witch, Black Harvest plus whatever first issues come in between now and this feature) - I'd like to hit these earlier, but if all the other spotlights come through, it seems likely it'll probably be first or second week in December

*Another Mini-Comics Spotlight (Red Ice, Happy Birthday Anyway, Styx Taxi: As Above, So Below, 3 from Rob Croonenborghs) - Probably late December, want to wait until I get a couple more submissions if possible - I suppose I might pick some up at Wizard World Texas, which might move this up

*Graphic Novel reviews including some or all of: Tales of Supernatural Law v.1, Off-Road, Ring of Roses, Hack/Slash Vol. 1, Faceless: A Terry Sharp Story, Indigo Vertigo, NYC Mech Vol. 1, Zombieworld: Winter's Dregs, Sea of Red Vol. 1, Runoff 2, Decoy Menagerie, Humor Can Be Funny, Full Moon Fever, 2 Sisters, The Ride, Tozzer 2, Electric Girl 3, Ronin Hood of the 47 Samurai, Wings of Anansi, And The Sky Turned White, Ojo, The Legend of Wild Man Fischer, Hutch Owen: Unmarketable!, The Groo Odyssey and The Irregulars - I try to hit some of these on a weekly basis

*Series spotlights (Raider 1-3, Cocopiazo #1-4, Students of the Unusual #2-6, Penguin Books' Treasure Island, The Wizard of Oz and MacBeth) - I'm trying to work these in on lighter weeks... which I don't seem to have anymore

*Book Reviews (whenever I get time to read them) including: Foul Play! (The Art and Artists of EC Comics), Path of the Just/Path of the Bold, Will Eisner: A Spirited Life, I Was Someone Dead, Superman On The Couch, Hellboy: Odder Jobs - These will probably take some time

That is, of course, in addition to all the stuff that comes into my house and my comics shop on a weekly basis. I'll be done with the "spotlight" stuff by the end of the year, but some of the books and graphic novels (and maybe some of the series) will probably roll on into 2006. Once again, my apologies to those who send me stuff that you often have to wait for the reviews, hopefully they're worth it (positive or negative) when they do hit.

On top of this, I'll be doing my weekly "Recommended Reading" columns, which I hope everyone is enjoying. I'm certainly enjoying the shift in format that writing those columns offers, and would like to thank Johanna Draper Carlson for the inspiration, as she's been doing it in Comics Worth Reading for years. Up next in these columns are: Runaways, Fables, Solo, True Story Swear to God, Age of Bronze and Usagi Yojimbo, which will take us into mid-December.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - November 2, 2005:

Catwoman When In Rome Hc (What I read of this, I liked, enough to order the hardcover, especially since I have the majority of the Loeb/Sale work in hardcover already)
Essential Marvel Two In One Vol 1 Tp (More '70s Marvel coolness in overstuffed black and white volumes)
Exalted #1 (Curious to see what Udon will do with this game-based fantasy comic)
Showcase Presents Jonah Hex Vol 1 Tp (DC's entry into the black and white overstuffed format, and I'm picking this one up as I've got a pretty strong western vibe going right now)
Smax Tp (Alan Moore and Zander Cannon's fantasy follow-up to Top 10, which is the next best thing to getting more Top 10. Finally out in softcover)
Stray Bullets #40 (The previous issue was one of the best Stray Bullets issues in the entire run, so I'm definitely feeling the vibe on this one again)
Top Shelf Conversations #2 (James Kochalka and Jeffrey Brown on a process-investigating collaboration)
Twisted Toyfare Theatre Vol 6 Tp (I think five volumes was my limit on this one, but these little toy skits are always funny, and a must-buy for those who enjoy Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken)

Desolation Jones #4 (I think I'm going to prefer reading this one in trade, but I am leaning towards picking up the trades at this point. Certainly JH Williams III's art is gorgeous)
Invincible Vol 5 Facts Of Life Tp (The latest collection of Invincible, one of the best superhero comics on the market right now)
Jonah Hex #1 (Solid opener for the non-Vertigo Jonah Hex series, a good teen counterpart to the adults-only Loveless)
Marvel Adventures Spider-man #9 (Self-contained old school Spidey story by the Gravity team of Sean McKeever and Mike Norton. Has Doom, and is plenty of fun)
Marvel Team-up #14 (Invincible and Spider-Man team-up! Fun issue, albeit not as good as your average issue of Invincible on its own, but there's a surprising tie-in to Invincible continuity in there as well)
Seven Soldiers The Bulleteer #1 (Solid start for the latest Morrison outing, with really nice artwork by Yanick Paquette)
Spider-man Unlimited #12 (Might be the best Spider-Man comic produced this year, with stories by Christos Gage and Mike McKone and Tom Beland and Sean Phillips. Must buying, even for a mostly trade guy like myself)
Young Avengers Vol 1 Sidekicks Hc (I'm holding out for a softcover, but despite a weaker second arc thus far, I'm still planning on buying the softcover of this series)

Monday, October 24, 2005

New Queen & Country Novel:
How is it that despite regularly reading Newsarama, CBR, The Beat, The Pulse, the Oni Buzz newsletter, etc., it was in Entertainment Weekly that I first learned that the second Queen & Country novel is coming out tomorrow?!

I'm not wild about a lot of Rucka's DC work right now, but I love his novels and I love Queen & Country. Given my current reading schedule and piles of novels (graphic and prose), I'll probably hold off until softcover on this one... or more likely, put the hardcover on the Christmas list... but if I get some loose spending cash between now and then, I'll definitely pick this up. The first novel was great, and with the series on what seems like indefinite hiatus, this might be the only way to keep up with these characters for a while.
Curious about Shuck?
Shuck is a comic book that I've reviewed a few times (here are links for the trade paperback and first issue of the new series), but now Rick Smith is doing something kind of cool, something that's catching on in small press comics, and making it all available to sample online.

So you can now check out every issue of Shuck, from the graphic novel on to the new series, in full color, on the web. Give it a look!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Videogame Update:
I really need to try and get back to posting on this thing more often, or it'll go as dead as it was for a few months there. Thus, posts like this one, where I run down my latest videogame experiences.

The PSP is a wonderful toy, and though I don't have much occasion to use it, I do cherish it on those occasions when it has come in handy. Times like my wait at Saturn for my 90,000 mile update (or more correctly, my wait for Suzanne to come pick me up, since the 90,000 mile update actually turned out to be an overnight thing), the drive to Dallas or the other occasional "waiting for someone" moment in life. The games I have tried on the PSP are:

SSX On Tour - Rented this one since I love the SSX 3 game on the PS/2, and was, well, mostly disappointed. It is basically SSX 3 again, with minor tweaks to the design and the addition of skis. Maybe it's just comparing the full-screen of TV to the PSP's (admittedly sharp) little screen, but I got bored quickly with SSX On Tour, and this makes me pretty unlikely to pick it up for the PS/2, as I had planned, at least until it comes down in price.

Burnout Legends - The reason I don't think it's the screen size as opposed to disappointment in the game with SSX On Tour is Burnout Legends. Burnout Legends is basically a port of Burnout 3, with music from Burnout Revenge, to the PSP and I love it. It's got all the fun of the PS/2 version (which I played the hell out of, and should theoretically be tired of if the game mechanics weren't so damn inviting) with the addition of little tweaks like an airport map or a pursuit mode where you play a cop trying to ram a perp off the road. I've played a couple of wireless games with my buddy Tess on her PSP, and it's a pretty glorious little feature as well. For my money, this is the killer ap of the PSP thus far.

Lumines - This, on the other hand, was the killer ap when it was announced, and having played it now, I can say that I understand the draw. Like Tetris, it's this deceptively simple puzzle game, and like Tetris, it is just remarkably addictive. Nice techno music background, fun gameplay and a few interesting modes like puzzle and versus make it a definite winner and perennial favorite of mine.

Burnout Revenge - Meanwhile, my PS/2 purchase for the year (I don't buy a ton of games) was Burnout Revenge, at full price. I don't regret it, even though the money spent was earmarked for Scrubs and Arrested Development Season Two, which now have to wait a little longer. Terrific update of the Burnout series, and I would have sworn they couldn't have gotten better after Burnout 3. But the new crash mode is a blast, much bigger and more open, the ability to "traffic check" same direction traffic makes a huge difference and the addition of shortcuts and more varied track maps is just glorious. I also dig the soundtrack, for the most part, just like I did the first one, although I could do without the SSX-like deejay. Absolute must-have game for the PS/2, especially if you do any game parties where you have folks over, when the three different crash multiplayer modes can easily take up a night or two.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - October 26, 2005:

Chance Of A Lifetime #1 (The tale of a World War II-era superhero, with a slightly different perspective... worth a look, from Cellar Door Publishing)
Conan Vol 2 God I/t Bowl & Other Stories Tp (Not as good as the first Dark Horse Conan trade, but still exceptional stuff)
Jack Cross #3 (I'm not blown away by Jack Cross, but as 24 with a comic book budget filtered through Ellis's sensibilities, it's certainly readable)
Lost Squad #1 (World War II supernatural stories with solid potential. Review HERE.)
Loveless #1 (The stylized dialogue and moody artwork gets in the way of a clear first issue, but I don't always "get" what's going on in Deadwood on first viewing either, and I love that western. Not as stunned as I'd hoped to be, but it took me a few issues to get a handle on Azzarello's 100 Bullets, too. Definitely worth checking out for western (especially Deadwood) fans)
Solo #7 (Any comic that features Wonder Girl, Mr. Miracle and Hourman doing the Batusi has *got* to be worth a look... Michael Allred's issue of Solo arrives, and it's a lot of fun)

A Midnight Opera (Another intriguing OEL from Tokyopop about the undead and rock opera)
Age Of Bronze #21 (The continuation of the "Betrayal" arc specifically, and one of the best comics on the market in general)
Book Of Lost Souls #1 (JMS and Colleen Doran offer up a new, creator-owned story at Marvel that sounds like it might be along the lines of JMS's Midnight Nation... I'll check it out)
Bprd The Black Flame #3 (More of the great B.P.R.D. series from Dark Horse... look for a "Recommended Reading" on this series next Friday)
Daredevil #78 (How good has the "Murdock Papers," the final Bendis/Maleev story been? Good enough that it has retroactively reactivated my love for their run and gotten me to pick up the volume 4 hardcover to continue my collection)
Fear Agent #1 ('50s style sci-fi from Remender and Tony Moore)
Girls #6 (More of the Luna brothers' unusual horror comic)
Haunted Mansion #1 (The first Slave Labor/Disney offering, the art on this one looks fantastic)
Mark Of The Succubus Vol 1 (Preview art on this OEL manga looks really nice)
Marvel Monsters Monsters On The Prowl (Mostly disappointed in the Marvel Monsters stuff, but Fin Fang Four was great, so I'll give Monsters on the Prowl a chance as well)
Night Fisher GN (The much-buzzed graphic novel from Fantagraphics and R. Kikuo. This might be my most anticipated read of the week)
Noble Causes #14 (Interested in seeing what happens now that the Noble family has a supervillain opposite number)
Paris #1 (The new Slave Labor series from Andi Watson and Simon Gane, art looks terrific and I'm a fan of Watson's writing)
Previews Vol Xv #11 (Down the Line coming next week... they seem to come out fast when Dave and I are running late)
Psycomm Vol 1 (Psychic commando OEL manga cowritten by CBR columnist and Austin local, I'm curious to check it out)
Season Of The Witch #1 (Enjoyed the black and white intro comic for this unusual fantasy series, I'm looking forward to seeing more of the story in color)
SuperF*ckers #2 (Twisted superhero humor from James Kochalka)
Usagi Yojimbo #88 (I'm actually an issue behind on this, but the latest story, one of the big arcs, has been very entertaining)
Young Avengers #8 (One of my favorite Marvel books running right now)
Zombie Tales Oblivion #1 (Enjoyed the first Zombie Tales anthology, sure I'll enjoy this new series, which has one story and one creative team)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Something Different:
"Well. As we speak, it looks like a fucking fairy exploded in my kitchen. There is glitter everywhere. Glitter on the floor. Glitter on the wall. Glitter INSIDE the wee one's nose. Glitter INSIDE the bread bag. Glitter on my table. Glitter on the dog."

Kari Anne writes Haiku Mama, a frequently updated blog about her life with her child and all that this life entails, and it is (as you can see from the line above) frequently hilarious. Go. Seek.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - October 19, 2005:

Amazing Joy Buzzards Vol 2 #1 (Wow. The gonzo trade paperback was fun, but Hipp and Smith have really upped the game with volume two of Amazing Joy Buzzards, which features a supervillain gathering, a CIA briefing, an impromptu legendary rock concert and a race with tricked-out cars and mysterious, sexy women. Basically, a pop-culture mismash owing allegiance to nothing specific, like what Saturday Morning cartoons used to feel like when you were a kid. The best thing I've read yet this week)
Astro City The Dark Age #4 (Nice finale to the first book of the Dark Age, revealing what exactly happened with the Silver Agent. It's not as mind-blowing as I'd hoped giving the build up, but it's certainly solid)
Marvel Monsters Fin Fang Four (This is easily the best of the Marvel Monsters books so far. The other two were a little bit on the bland side, but Fin Fang Four is a blast, with some neat ideas, the real spirit of the Kirby monster comics and Lee/Kirby FF blended together)
Nick Fury Howling Commandos #1 (I liked the concept on this one, but... yikes. Ugly artwork and clunky writing makes for a really disappointing book out of a pretty interesting concept)
Runaways #9 (Really fun reintroduction of Cloak into the Runaways world, interesting mystery plus tons of character stuff dealing with fallout from recent events... still one of the best superhero titles on the market)
She-Hulk 2 #1 (Starts off a little slow, more reminiscent of the second half of She-Hulk Vol. 1 than the first half, but has some fun moments and offers up a use of Hawkeye that doesn't make me groan, which is a change for the better from how he's been handled at Marvel of late)
Surrogates #2 (Amazing speculative sci-fi with beautiful color artwork by Brett Weldele)
Thread The Unraveling #1 (Xeric winner about paranoia and city living, I reviewed it HERE)
Transformers #0 (A really good reintroduction of the concept that is fun, light and exciting. And I say this as someone without much of a nostalgic attachment who found most of the Dreamwave stuff completely unreadable, *and* as a kid who owned Optimus Prime, Megatron and a whole bunch of other toys and watched the cartoon religiously. IDW has its head on straight with this property)

1000 Deaths Of Baron Von Donut #1 (Not sure if this is a new #1 or the same one that came out before... unnecessarily confusing. But if it is new, hooray! The first one was hilarious)
Armageddon & Son Gn (John Layman's OGN from Oni about superspies and evil dads looks great from what I've read. Haven't sat down to read the whole thing yet, but what I have read was very fun)
Banana Sundays #3 (More of what is probably the cutest book on the market right now, about talking monkeys, high school and secrets)
Birds Of Prey #87 (Still my favorite DC Universe book, just hoping it keeps skirting the edges of the Infinite Crisis)
Black Hole Collected Hc (Looking forward to reading all of Charles Burns' morose, gothically beautiful story about a sexually-transmitted disease that disfigures its victims... the issues I've read have been stunning)
Chiaroscuro Tp (Curious to check out this long out-of-print Vertigo story about the life and times of Leonardo Da Vinci)
Conan #21 (Continuing the "Tower of the Elephant" story, which got off to a great start last issue)
Green Lantern Corps Recharge #2 (First issue had some interesting new characters and a nice take on the Corps. Worried about how tightly it'll tie into Infinite Crisis, but for now, I'm still reading)
Living And The Dead Gn (New Speakeasy graphic novel from Robert Tinnell & Todd Livingston, responsible for Black Forest and Wicked West... haven't read it yet, but it's going in my upcoming Speakeasy column, and I suspect it's gonna be good)
Official Handbook Marvel Universe Horror 2005 (These more fringe Marvel Universe books are kind of fun... the alternate worlds version from a few weeks back was really entertaining, and I suspect that a look at Marvel's horror properties will be cool as well)
Seven Soldiers Klarion The Witch Boy #4 (My enthusiasm for Seven Soldiers has cooled as I realize: A) DC's lame trade paperback plan for the series and B) The stories don't so much end as lead in to Seven Soldiers #1, betraying the "self-contained" nature of the miniseries, but I'm still curious to see how this all ends, and Frazer Irving's artwork continues to astound)
Walking Dead #22 (Finally! It's been a little while since we've had an issue of the industry's best zombie comic, and one of my ten favorite monthly books)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

OK, I missed the STAPLE! meeting because I had to work tonight (I also missed Lost), but that doesn't mean I can't link to the poll on the updated STAPLE! website. Whether you attended last year or are thinking about attending this year or just love polls, come on over and check it out.
Why I Still Love Comics:
I've got too many comics to ever review, and the state of mainstream superheroes and what's selling is remarkably depressing. Infinite Crisis #1 came out yesterday and it didn't piss me off like Identity Crisis #1 did. Instead, it BORED THE SHIT OUT OF ME. I'd say House of M is doing the same, but I only read issues one through three before getting so bored I stopped reading it, save the occasional skim for the highlights, so it's maybe not fair to use the present tense.

And one thing that pisses me off more than the stupid darkening of the DCU that began in Identity Crisis is how some of the same creators who participated in it are now trying to take credit for fixing it. Guess what, guys? If you hadn't *created* the fucking problem, you wouldn't have to fix it!

Mostly, though, I'm in an "oh well, don't care" place with much of DC and Marvel, and that's OK. Seriously, even if you ignore all the popular shit (depressing as it is to realize that what sells and what's good seems to be more diametrically opposed than ever), there's so much out there to read. Most of Vertigo is *great*, the smaller Marvel projects are remarkable (Gravity, New Warriors, Runaways, She-Hulk, etc.), Image, Oni and Dark Horse are kicking much ass and every few months we get a beauty of a graphic novel from guys like NBM, Top Shelf, etc. That's off the top of my head. Doesn't count the mini-comics and self-publisher guys putting their heart and soul into the medium for no money or even money flowing out of their pocket, or the numerous other smaller publishers. Doesn't count the promising news about mainstream bookhouses picking up on graphic novels like Flight or creators like Craig Thompson. Doesn't count Tokyopop and their intriguing line of OEL and ever-expanding line of manga, which seems to offer genre and style to every taste.

Last week, I read The Quitter, Mary Jane Vol. 2 and True Porn 2. This week I hauled in Beg The Question, Essential Spider-Man Vol. 7 and the Livewires digest. That's not bad at all, and that's skipping all the monthly doses of goodness like Fables, Godland and Fell.

It's not always easy to recognize, but it's a good time to be reading comics. Now if only I could get off my ass and start getting more reviewing of them done, so I can get these comp piles down to less suicide-inducing size as well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

M.I.A. Again:
Yeah, I know, five days since my last blog post. But I have a good excuse... I took a vacation. Or what passes for a vacation in my current life.

Since I have Sundays and Mondays off, and go in late on Tuesdays, Suzanne and Katy and Corrigan (my dog) and I drove up to Dallas for the second birthday party of my nephew James Austin. I swapped my Tuesday with Dave so that I could come in at 7:00 PM instead of 2:00 PM, and spent what equated to a weekend up in Dallas.

I love Austin, but I like Dallas, or at least what I've seen of it, as well. It's a nice place to take a weekend, especially when we stayed in the monstrously huge house of my parents-in-law. I don't have any great desire to live in a gated community (and Suzanne would divorce me if I tried to move us into one anyway), and I love our small house, but man was it nice having an upstairs, a big kitchen, a big living room, etc. I just fantasized about having a whole room set aside as a "game room" to hang out with friends in, another room as a library for books, comics, DVDs, a "home theatre" room, etc. If I had the money, didn't hate moving and could find a big place that wasn't in a gated community (to list the main reasons in order), I'd definitely get a bigger house.

It was a good weekend all around. Suzanne drove, which was nice, so I spent the drive up in the backseat listening to my daughter talk back to Diego on the portable DVD player and playing Burnout Legends and World Series of Poker (not to mention an episode of Entourage) on my PSP. We got to my nephew's birthday party and that was a lot of fun. I didn't know a lot of the people there, but it's always nice to see my in-laws, and it was a blast seeing Katy have fun with the other kids there. She went to bed way too late after skipping her nap, but otherwise, it was great.

On Monday, we took Katy to get pictures taken for my mother-in-law. Katy is remarkably shy around guys, and the photographer was a guy, so it wasn't the easiest thing to do, but he did pretty well, and his wife sort of made faces and played with puppets and got her to smile now and then. There should be some cute pictures in there. After that, we went back to the house and hung out for a bit, and Katy took a short but much-needed nap.

That night, we got together with my sisters-in-law (all three of them), my brother-in-law Jason (Mark, my other brother-in-law, had gone out of town on Monday), and my two nephews James and JD and went to Fogo De Chao. How do I love Brazillian steakhouses like Fogo De Chao? Well, as I said to Suzanne during the delicious (if expensive) meal, "If they had beds, I'd live here." To top off the night, Jason had a friend coming into town from San Diego, and so he and his friends had set up a Texas Hold'Em game later that night, which he invited me to. I went along, and met up with a great bunch of guys, played poker until midnight and just had a lot of fun. I lost $20 and went out third of nine players, but I did knock one player out when my pocket Kings beat his pocket 10s, and for my second-ever game of Texas Hold'Em, I don't think that's too bad.

Part of what made this a vacation is that I didn't read any comics or Internet the entire time I was gone. I know that sounds like a weird qualifier for a vacation, but seriously, I read comics every day and read the Internet every day, and aside from checking email for any emergencies, I skipped all that while I was away and it was nice. Of course, every week I skip in reviews adds a week or two onto the other end, and I'm still playing catchup on RSS and email too, but it was nice. Makes me think I might like to take a bit longer off from reviewing, if only for a little while.

At any rate, good weekend.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Weekly Comics to Come - October 12, 2005:

100 Bullets #65 (Start of a new story arc... dark, dark story featuring torture and strip clubs)
7 Days To Fame #1 (Speaking of dark... Buddy Scalera's new mini about a reality show about suicide is a little morbid, but definitely intriguing)
Astro City Local Heroes Tp (After a long wait, finally, a new Astro City trade paperback. Hooray!)
Essential Spider-man Vol 7 Tp (Still haven't gotten around to reading vol. 6 of the Spider-Man Essentials, but I'll keep buying as long as they keep printing them, or until we hit the end of the Roger Stern era at least)
Fables #42 (The arabian fables arrive in Fabletown and the aftermath of "Homelands" starts to resonate, and the result is a great first issue for a new story arc)
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man #1 (A little too cutesy in parts, and mired in an unfortunate crossover, but has some good moments... I'll most likely check back in when "The Other" ends)
Gravity #5 (Nice solid ending to McKeever and Norton's origin for a new and intriguing Marvel character)
Hack Slash Vol 1 First Cut Tp (Collection of Tim Seeley's Buffy the Vampire Slayer by way of slasher flick concept)
Livewires Clockwork Thugs Yo Digest Tp (One of my favorite Marvel series this year, can't wait to read the whole story all together and really looking forward to whatever Adam Warren does next)
Marvel Monsters Where Monsters Dwell (Three short and fun monster stories, plus one classic reprint)

Ex Machina #15 (New story arc starts here)
Godland #4 (Loving this comic, a weird mixture of Casey's post-modern pop cultural awareness and a retro nostalgic Kirby riff)
Goon 25 Cent Comic (Great chance to try one of the best, funniest and most beautifully drawn comics on the market)
Goon Fancy Pants Ed Hc (Deluxe edition of aforementioned best, funniest and most beautifully drawn comics' early days at Dark Horse)
Hunger #5 (More of the strange zombie tale set in New Orleans)
Infinite Crisis #1 (Yeah, I'll probably hate it, but it's Geoff Johns writing a big DC event, which a few years ago, I would have been all over. I've got to at least give it a chance to impress me)
Middleman #3 (Really enjoyed the first two issues of this "Men in Black" style comedy/action series, by Lost writer/producer Javier Grillo Marxuach)
Of Bitter Souls #3 (Also really enjoyed the first two issues of this mystical/superhero blend set in New Orleans from Speakeasy)
Ring Of Roses Tp (Alternate history religious conspiracy with nice looking art)
Science Fair #1 (New Antarctic Press series about superscience gone wrong, looks like fun)
Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures Vol 4 Tp (These "animated series" clone wars stories are almost as good as the action-packed Cartoon Network shorts that spawned them)
Villains United #6 (Curious to see how this all shakes out, and ready to call for a Simone-penned Catman or Suicide Squad ongoing on the strength of the series overall)
Y The Last Man #38 (The second part of Yorick's travels in Australia, one of my absolute favorite monthly series)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The New Fall Season - Wednesday & Thursday:

Veronica Mars: Two episodes in, and the central mystery (or mysteries? the bus crash and Logan's "murder") seem vague enough to sustain the entire season but focused enough to provide good drama, as well as being personally connected to several of the characters, as the Lily Kane murder was. There's a lot of promise in the new characters (Guttenberg and Carpenter are both really good in their roles) and I love the notion of Keith Mars running for sheriff again. The second season opener didn't give me the drop-dead "must watch this" vibe that the pilot episode did, but it's still every bit as strong as it was. And good enough that I'll Tivo it even though it's up against Lost.

Lost: How good is Lost this season? So good that I'm watching it on TV, live, with commercials, which I don't do for *anything* any more. The second episode was a little weak, but overall, I'm loving the mixture of answers and more questions that we've gotten from what was at the bottom of the hatch, and the ensemble cast is still strong, although too many of them are very much background right now (we've barely seen Hurley, Said, Shannon, Charlie, Claire or Sun in the early episodes). I'm always wary of the "X-Files factor" with this show, and almost certain it will disappoint me in the end, but I'm still completely hooked right now.

Alias: And the reason I'm almost certain it will disappoint me in the end is Alias. Still very watchable in season five, but real world occurrences have damaged the show pretty badly. Vaughn's death as a way to get Jennifer Garner and her ex away from the awkwardness of playing couple in love, Sydney's pregnancy as a result of, well, Garner's pregnancy, Greg Grunberg's departure for "The Catch" and other roles... none of these moves are good for the show, in my opinion. I'm also unsure whenever a show basically adds new characters out of the blue, obviously to fill in for departed actors, although I like both actors who are coming in. And this is a show that really would have benefited from better closure on many of its ongoing stories, from the way SD-6 was resolved to the many resolutions of Rimbaldi, rather than an increasingly complex mythology (shades of X-Files) and the introduction of yet another shadowy conspiracy group with vague goals (Prophet 5).

The good news is, Carl Lumbly gets back in the spotlight as Marcus becomes more in the action, which is something that's been sadly lacking since around mid-season two, Jack Bristow is still very much involved and the Syd/Jack relationship is one of my favorite things about the show, Marshal continues to be a scene-stealing member of the cast and if you don't think too hard about the larger context of the show, the Prophet 5 stuff seems interesting enough as a way to propel the season. I stopped buying Alias DVDs after season three (and should have stopped at season two), but I haven't stopped watching, and I probably won't. I just don't care as much about the ongoing elements as I do the episodic, which is a shame.
Feast or Famine:
Yeah, so I go several days with no posts at all, and then two posts within hours of each other. That's just how I roll.

Anyway, was going through the comp pile (actually, comp piles is more accurate, since there are about six scattered throughout my office) and came up with what is likely my Fourth Rail reviewing schedule for the next few months. Of course, this is all subject to change depending on what comes in and my moods, but here's the plan, in no particular order:

*Speakeasy Focus (A look at the Hunger TPB (when that comes out will determine the timing of this review), The Living & The Dead OGN, Parting Ways OGN, Adventures of Bio-Boy #1, Spellgame #1 and a semi-review of the first four or so pages of Strangeways #1. If you're a Speakeasy creator who wants his/her book included in this round-up, drop me a line and you can either send me a PDF or I'll get you an address to send me the book)

*Snapshots (Covering some or all of: Zed, Malcolm Magic, Mr. Scootles, Vampirella: Revelations #0-1, The Colony, B.P.R.D: The Black Flame #1-2, Ferro City, Invincible, Usagi Yojimbo, Godland, The Goon, Girls, PVP, Rex Mundi, Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron, Star Wars Empire, Chronicles of a Bounty Hunter, True Story Swear to God, PS238, Nodwick, Grounded Fell and Jack Staff)

*Graphic Novel reviews including some or all of: Quitter, Mary Jane Vol. 2, True Porn 2, Black Forest 2, Sea of Red Vol. 1, Tales of Supernatural Law v.1, Runoff 2, Decoy Menagerie, Humor Can Be Funny, Full Moon Fever, 2 Sisters, The Ride, Tozzer 2, Electric Girl 3, Ronin Hood of the 47 Samurai, Wings of Anansi, And The Sky Turned White, Coyote v.1, Yets!, Ojo, The Legend of Wild Man Fischer, Hutch Owen: Unmarketable!, Grendel: The Devil Inside, Grendel: The Devil May Care, The Groo Odyssey and The Irregulars

*Book Reviews (whenever I get time to read them) including: Foul Play! (The Art and Artists of EC Comics), Path of the Just/Path of the Bold, Will Eisner: A Spirited Life, I Was Someone Dead, Superman On The Couch, Hellboy: Odder Jobs

*Manga Spotlight (mostly OEL) on Rising Stars of Manga Vol. 5, Steady Beat, I Luv Halloween, Naoki Urusawa's Monster (when it comes out will determine timing of this review), perhaps others)

*Another Indy Spotlight (Comic Pulp Vol. 1, Rocket Rabbit 1, The Calling, Something So Familiar, The Wandering Schoolgirl, Red Ice, Nothing Left to Lose)

*Series spotlights (Raider 1-3, Stylish Vittles: Fare Thee Well & Nothing Better #1-3, Cocopiazo #1-4, Students of the Unusual #2-6, Penguin Books' Treasure Island, The Wizard of Oz and MacBeth)

That is, of course, in addition to all the stuff that comes into my house and my comics shop on a weekly basis. If I reviewed nothing but this stuff from now on, I'd probably be done with all the reviews in, oh, about six months. As is, with other stuff coming in, there's probably some of this stuff that will still be waiting for a review six months from now, although I sure hope not.

So for those of you who have sent me stuff for review, I thank you for your patience and apologize that I need to ask for it, and if you're a creator or publisher who has sent me stuff and you don't see it on this list, that means it's hidden in another pile in my office or I haven't received it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

OK, so I maintained the blog daily for a little over a month. That's not bad, right? But daily doesn't seem to be in the cards right now. Turns out I'm not even remotely that interesting. However, I will now promise weekly. At the very least, each week I'll post my "Weekly Comics to Come" and there will probably be other posts throughout the week as well.

Like this one.

Not that there's any great news or anything, but here we go, what I've been doing lately.

PSP: Well, I've dug into it a little bit more and, as with my iPod Photo, it's an expensive toy I didn't really need, but now I love it and can't imagine being without it. No buyer's remorse whatsoever. I bought a 1GB duostick to go with it for less than $100 (thank you, and now keep comics (like the awesome PSP-formatted NYC2123), video (like this mock-up trailer for the Kubrick directed, Nicholson starring romantic comedy "Shining") and of course games at hand at all times.

While it was Burnout Legends that finally broke me, ironically I haven't played that much of it, or of Burnout Revenge on the PS/2... instead, what I'm hooked on is World Poker Tour, which allows me to play virtual Texas Hold 'Em using the skills learned by watching Celebrity Poker Showdown and listening to Phil Gordon. Clearly, the computer players are insane, as they'll bet stuff almost nonsensically at times, but in general, it's a pretty good simulation. And unlike real life, if you lose all your money you can quit out, come back out and have it again.

Car: My car has been having antifreeze problems lately, with a "low fluid" light on almost constantly. I had the radiator flushed and that fixed it for a few days, then it started again. So I started refilling it, figuring that it was burning a little hot, but I'd soon hit the 90,000 mile mark and take it in for 90,000 mile service to get it fixed. The refills started coming more frequently, though, and my wife told me she'd spotted some antifreeze on the driveway, so I took the car in about 800 miles early for the big service.

End result? Yeah, the radiator was leaking and needed to be replaced. Also, worn drivetrain, worn brakes, some other stuff, total cost about $1400. Which is a little less than 10% of my yearly salary, but fortunately I have some savings bonds (it's how I bought the PSP) and some savings, and this is really the first major expense this car has given me in 10 years, so I can't complain too much. It also gave me the chance to grab a brochure for the Saturn Sky, the new roadster they're putting out next year. I love the look of it, but at $23,000, it'll be a bit out of my preferred price range, and more importantly, with Katy, I can't really buy a 2-seater car. Ah, well... the mid-life crisis will have to wait until, well, mid-life. With the way I eat and the amount of Coke I drink, though, 34 may *be* mid-life. :)

Reviews: Great week this week, with the Mary Jane 2 digest having crisper paper than previous Marvel digests and looking fantastic, The Quitter being every bit as good as I expected and True Porn 2 living up to the quality of the first. And that's without getting into single issues, like the latest True Story Swear to the God or the gorgeously-illustrated (and intriguingly written) Spellgame #1. Of course, because of time constraints, I took the week off from reviewing, but I will get to this stuff. I'm actually taking a bit of a vacation, since I'm heading up to Dallas for the extended weekend with the family-in-law, so there will be no new reviews from me for Thursday, Monday or next Thursday. Should be Down the Line by the end of next week, though.

Dallas: Looking forward to attending my nephew James's birthday party on Sunday and seeing most of the in-laws again. I say most because Suzanne's parents will be out of town, but they came down and joined us and my parents for dinner at Katz's last week, which was really good. And Marc Katz himself came by the table, which was neat, especially since my in-laws had never been to the restaurant at all before... a nice little first time perk, chatting briefly with the owner, who was a gregarious and gracious host.

Of course, I'm also really looking forward to Dallas because I'm finally going to go to Fogo de Chao, the Brazillian steakhouse in the area. One of the best meals I've had in my life (and understand, I like to eat and I have a fair amount of experience here) was at the Brazillian Plataforma restaurant in New York, and I can't wait to have that food again. Everything I've heard from friends is that Fogo de Chao is amazing. It'll be expensive, but totally, totally worth it.

OK, that's it for this post. Next time out, I'll try to cover some more TV stuff for those who are interested (Alias, Veronica Mars, Everybody Hates Chris, Threshold and Invasion are all shows I can talk about now).

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Coming in late - T-Shirts:
The sale is only on until tomorrow morning, and the stock is looking a little depleted at this point, but this website is just cool. Greg McElhatton pointed to it, and I would have bought about four or five shirts, except that they only had one design left in my size that I liked. I know I'll be buying more in the future, though.

At any rate, check it out before Monday, because right now all the shirts are on sale at $10 each, and they've got some great designs. The cool thing about the site is that it's user designs, and the site users vote on what designs get made into shirts.

If anyone's curious, the one I ordered was "Medio Victim." The ones I wanted (but which weren't in my size) were Yo-Fu, Robot Derby Girl, Game-set-Match, Outbreak girl and CTRL+Z.