Friday, December 29, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - January 4, 2007

TOP FIVE:
All Star Superman #6 (Yay! A burst of Morrison/Quitely goodness to start off the New Year!)
American Virgin #10 (The beginning of a new story arc, I believe... possibly my favorite new Vertigo series, tied with DMZ)
Irredeemable Ant-Man #4 (Sales are dire... enjoy it while you can!)
Manhunter #27 (The first issue back was terrific, I'm enjoying this whether it's the last story arc or just the latest one)
Superman Confidential #3 (If not for All-Star, the Darwyn Cooke/Tim Sale version would be my favorite current Superman... as is, it's still pretty close)

THE REST:
52 Week #35 (Each week, something I like and something I hate... but nothing that pisses me off like Civil War does every time)
Brian Keenes Fear GN (New graphic novel adapting the horror tales of Brian Keene, by Austin writer Nate Southard)
Fear Agent #10 (More of Remender and Opena's science-fiction/action book)
Kane Vol. 6 TP (I'm actually one trade behind on my reading of Paul Grist's quirky cop book, but I'm still glad to see a new trade)
Iron Man Hypervelocity #1 (Mildly interested because it's Adam Warren, although I'd rather have more Livewires)
Manhunter Vol 2 Trial By Fire TP (Now that I know there's a second trade, it's time to go ahead and buy the first one as well. Hope there's more!)
Naoki Urasawas Monster Vol 6 (Fantastic suspense manga)
Newuniversal #2 (Ellis and Larocca's first issue was pretty good... I didn't know I even *had* any New Universe nostalgia)
Other Side #4 (Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart's Vietnam era closes in on a finale)
Scalped #1 (Jason Aaron's new Vertigo ongoing... the preview hasn't wowed me, but I still want to give it a shot based on how much I enjoyed Other Side)
Scarface Scarred For Life #1 (A weird new book, with a weird but good creative team - John Layman and Dave Crosland)
Uncanny X-Men #482 (Brubaker's weakest book... but there's still plenty to recommend it, including Billy Tan's art)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why Randy Has Been Slacking On This Blog

Being a series of excuses in ten parts. And also a way for me to keep track (beyond just in my head) of where all my free time is going.

1. Top Secret Project - This occupies a relatively small amount of my time, but most of my mental anxiety is derived from it. I expect it to slowly shift to occupy just as much headspace and lots more real time in the next couple months. No, I can't tell you what it is. No, it's probably not exciting to you. I'm not writing a comic or anything like that. All will be revealed in a few months, at which point most of you reading this will go "Oh, I can see why that was so stressful. But I don't really care."

2. The Family - I do like to occasionally spend time with my wife and daughter. I probably still don't spend enough time with them. And the new baby is due in June. We've had some minor issues, which fortunately still look like they're going to result in healthy baby and mama. This accounts for too little of my time, really, but I do try to spend as many hours with my daughter as I can, when she's not sleeping and I'm not working.

3. Gaming - I'm running an Eberron game for one gaming group, playing in a Call of Cthulhu/Ravenloft game with the group when I'm *not* running it, playing in a Warhammer Fantasy RPG game with another group and planning a Champions game for that group when I'm not playing WFRP or running Eberron. Net result? I only spend maybe 8-10 hours a week on gaming, maybe 2 hours or so planning for future games... but when I am gaming, that's pretty much all I'm doing.

4. Watching DVDs - I got a lot of DVDs for Christmas. Which is cool. But the piles atop my DVD case make me feel guilty, like I'm not properly using my leisure time (I know, I'm a sick man), and so I try to make a point to watch at least some of them every night.

5. Reading - I'm really trying to read books again. Just finished Phil Gordon's Little Blue Book, want to finish up the Fletch series, read the Swords of Lankhamar book and finally read through the Harry Potter books. I don't think about it at all when I'm not reading, but it takes up the time that was previously allocated to graphic novels. Although I am going to try to resume Graphic Novel A Day in January. Maybe with Book A Month as well, if I'm feeling overly ambitious.

6. Sleeping - Despite really bad sleep habits like staying up too late, I get to sleep in five days a week thanks to late shifts, so I tend to get enough sleep. Maybe more than I actually need.

7. Working - 40 hours a week, more or less.

8. Writing - Both here, on Comic Pants and (probably the most time-consuming and least consequential) at various comment threads and emails around the Internet.

9. The Internet - My gigantic time sink, as I've spent four hours on this damn electronic box tonight alone, when I had three other things I meant to accomplish relating to #8, #4 and #3.

10. Everything Else - Doing a mental checklist of the above, I should still have plenty of free time. Which means it's probably a variety of other little things keeping me busy.

So in case you're wondering why I've written so little for Comic Pants or Inside Joke lately... that's why. Holidays really screwed up my schedule, especially when I was sick for a week or two, and constant anxiety (both real and imagined) has kept me distracted from getting back to the routine. I am planning on resuming Graphic Novel A Day in January, and Comic Pants writing sooner than that.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - December 27, 2006

TOP FIVE:
Batman And The Mad Monk #5 (More Matt Wagner Batman goodness)
Bprd Universal Machine TP (Love the BPRD series, looking forward to re-reading this one)
Daredevil #92 (Daredevil in Europe, far from Civil War... as it should be)
Killer #2 (First issue was amazing, can't wait to read the second)
Okko Cycle Of Water #1 (New series from the publishers of The Killer, so looking forward to this one as well)

THE REST:
100 Bullets Vol 10 Decayed TP (I only read this in trade anymore, but I still enjoy it in that format)
52 Week #34 (I think I'll go ahead and keep reading, at least for a while)
Age Of Bronze #24 (New issue of Shanower's fantastic story of the Trojan War)
Batman #661 (Part three of the Ostrander/Mandrake run, which was weak in the second issue but still interesting enough)
Crossing Midnight #2 (First issue was interesting enough to get me back for a second)
Hack Slash Slice Hard (New standalone from Tim Seeley, always an enjoyable read)
Hellstorm Son Of Satan #3 (Decent horror/actioner in New Orleans)
Immortal Iron Fist #2 (Mixed feelings on the first issue, but leaning toward the positive, so I'll check in on two)
Jack Of Fables #6 (The conclusion of Jack's first story arc, I think?)
Lankhmar Book 1 Swords & Deviltry Novel (Have a copy of this, want to give it a read at some point)
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #13 (Still a favorite)
Spider-man Loves Mary Jane Vol 2 TP (Looking forward to the re-read)
Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters #6 (I don't even remember what's happening... but I'll check in and see if I care)
Usagi Yojimbo #99 (I'm a couple issues behind on this one, but I always enjoy it when I read it)
Winter Soldier Winter Kills One Shot (Curious about this... don't much like the character, but I really like the creative team)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ABC is perilously close to dead to me as well

Daybreak Cancelled

I had mostly forgiven them for the early cancellation of Cupid, and for recent quick cancels like Eyes... but they've now killed two of their serialized dramas for the season without giving the viewers a satisfactory ending. I'm not completely sad to see The Nine go, as it was a lot of talented actors and writers on a concept that only kept my attention about 50% of the time (but it was still better than most of what's *left* on the network), but Daybreak... damn, man, I was into that show. And worse, it was only 13 episodes and then out. It seemed like a perfect thing. I would get all the answers, and if it didn't fly, then ABC could stop pouring money into it. But they couldn't even bear to suck it up for 6 more episodes and air the finale for the many viewers who had gotten caught up.

Long-term, that kind of thing is going to bite them in the ass. I know that with the death of Kidnapped, The Nine, Daybreak and Smith, I'm a hell of a lot less likely to invest in shows with serial plotlines in the future. And since I *like* those kinds of shows better than the episodic one-offs like Law & Order, that means I'm less likely to watch new shows on the networks. I'll do like my friend Dave and start waiting until they hit DVD, so I can be assured that I won't get caught up in stories with no endings.

But really, two lines from the Variety article say it all about the state of american television:

"ABC has decided to yank the Wednesday drama from its sked, effective immediately. It'll be replaced by repeats of unspecified comedies."

and, in reference to yanking Shatner's new quiz show:

"It'll be replaced by "America's Funniest Home Videos."

While that's probably a lateral move in terms of intelligence and quality, can't you just see the day when that sentence becomes a euphemism for cancellation? Seriously, how better to show the depths of lowest common denominator programming than saying that *anything* will be replaced by "America's Funniest Home Videos." Maybe Mike Judge was right in Idiocracy, maybe "Ow! My Balls!" will indeed be the top rated show sooner than we all think.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sick

So I haven't written any of my Graphic Novel A Day reviews in the last couple days, or really done much of anything. That's because I've had a particularly vicious cold, which has been bugging me for about two weeks but came back with a fury yesterday. Hopefully it'll go away in time for me to enjoy time with the family on Sunday and Monday. If nothing else, I hope it'll be gone by the time Christmas rolls around.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - December 20, 2006

TOP FIVE:
Action Philosophers Vol 2 Giant Sized Thing Tp (Affordable trade of fantastic stories... the first one was great)
Criminal #3 (One of my top five favorite ongoing books)
Fables #56 (Another of my top five favorite ongoing books)
Fables Vol 8 Wolves TP (This trade has a number of interesting extras, as well as some of my favorite stories)
Y The Last Man #52 (After reading Escapists #6, my faith is shored up that Vaughan can do good endings, so Y is looking good)

THE REST:
52 Week #33 (Recently read #1-32 to prepare for a podcast, and now I'm intrigued enough to keep reading)
Bakers Meet Jingle Belle (Love the Bakers, lukewarm on Jingle Belle)
Black Coat Call To Arms Tp (Revolutionary war adventure title with supernatural flavor, glad to see this traded)
Elephantmen #5 (More gorgeously illustrated sci-fi)
Lone Ranger #3 (Enjoyed the first two issues, I'm onboard for a while longer)
Love And Capes #2 (First issue was a lot of fun)
Maintenance #1 (From Jim Massey and Robbi Rodriguez, two guys whose work in the indie world I've very much enjoyed)
Pirates Of Coney Island #3 (After two issues, I'm very intrigued by this one... great art, unusual story and characters)
Previews #27.1 (Down the Line may be delayed, both by Christmas and by minor site issues)
Shadowpact #8 (Growing disinterested in the last couple issues, but #4 and #5 were so good, and Fables is so good... I'll try at least one more issue)
She-Hulk 2 #14 (She-Hulk, Agent of SHIELD begins!)
Union Jack #4 (The action spinoff of Cap comes to a close)
Warhammer 40K #1 (Looking forward to Boom!'s take on this dark world of future war)
Wasteland #5 (Been a while, but I'm glad to see another issue)
Wonderful Wizard Of Oz Gn (After recently finishing Shanower's Adventures in Oz, I'm interested in this translated painted GN of the original novel)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Fashion High - Breaking Up

Writer: Aimee Friedman
Artist: Christine Norrie
Company: Scholastic/Graphix
Price: $8.99 ($9.99 at Amazon)

In reading the solicitations for this book from Graphix, I was pretty sure it wasn't for me. And in reading it, I discovered I was right. Aimed squarely at teenage girls, telling stories of four friends whose friendships and other relationships are suffering as they grow up, all four girls were damn near impossible for me to relate to. Not a failure on the writer's part. In fact, the writing is good, keeps the story moving, weaves subplots in nicely, builds up the melodrama effectively. I believe she accurately captured the teenage existence, but give me teenage girls more like the unrealistic but interesting Veronica Mars. I was a teenage guy, and not a popular or hot one, and so I can't really relate to the trials and tribulations of cute, popular, fashionable teenage girls, who all came off a bit flighty, dim or mean. However... I still bought it, and might buy future volumes, and here's why: Christine Norrie's art. Norrie's art impressed me when I first saw it on Hopeless Savages, and it has only improved with each subsequent project. Her work here features fine, expressive cartooning and exquisite storytelling along with surface attractiveness to make it some of the finest cartooning I've seen all year. I'm not the audience for Fashion High, and I selfishly wish that Norrie was doing work that was aimed at me... but I like her work enough that I'll pick up almost anything she does, even if the story doesn't connect.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Top 10 Most Played in 2006

I'm not real good at the Top 10 music thing, because I just don't buy enough music to really put together much of a list. But Entertainment Weekly's online Popwatch recently featured the Top 10 most listened to in 2006 feature. That I can do. I don't think I've even *heard* more than one or two of the most-played in 2006 overall, but I have a "Play Count" on iTunes that will tell me how many times I've listened to a song. Now, technically this is for as long as I've had iTunes, but it's the same general idea. So, my current Top 10 Most Played List:

1. Funny Little Feeling - Rock 'n' Roll Soldiers
2. Pistolero - Juno Reactor
3. Jerk It Out - Caesars
4. We Used to Be Friends - The Dandy Warhols
5. Struggle - Ringside Rock
6. Everyday I Love You Less and Less - Kaiser Chiefs
7. Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
8. Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
9. What I Got - Michael Franti & Spearhead With Gift of Gab
10. Such Great Heights - The Postal Service

This probably means little to anything, given that it's based on random plays as well as playlists, but all 10 are favorite songs for me.

Graphic Novel A Day: Punisher First to Last HC

Writer: Garth Ennis
Artists: John Severin, Lewis Larosa & Richard Corben
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $19.99 ($14.19 at Amazon)

This is the hardcover that convinced me to go back and buy the other two Punisher hardcovers. And it's the best of the hardcovers thus far, even with it being the smallest. It collects three one-shots - The Tyger, The Cell and The End - that represent the beginning, middle and end of Frank Castle's life. The legendary Severin illustrates a tale of 10-year-old Frank first learning about mob violence and vigilante justice in his old neighborhood (along with interesting glimpses of Frank's parents), the legendary Corben illustrates a dark and amazing story about Frank Castle loosed in a post-nuclear exchange to seek revenge and justice on a scale he's previously never attempted. And the not legendary, but still exceptional Larosa, illustrates a tale of Frank infiltrating a prison to get at some very big mob bosses and soldiers. Gorgeous art, compelling and dark stories, this is basically the underpinnings of Ennis's view of the MAX version of the character, and I like it. The only shame is that they didn't include Born, the Vietnam era tale that represents the other underpinning of the character, as well. Guess that ought to go on my reading list next.

TV To Watch Out For

This is mostly a note to myself on four TV shows to keep an eye out for, recommended by one of my long-time readers Karl Ruben Weseth. Hustle, the fourth show he recommended, is already on my Netflix queue. Life on Mars will be as soon as its released on Region 1 DVD, which probably won't be too long. The one I'm really excited about, though, is Black Books, a show by the creators of Spaced, one of my all-time favorite shows. Which will also probably be the hardest to find, since I don't have a region-free DVD player. Same with State of Play, a political drama/newsroom thriller that Karl calls a "must see" and which sounds pretty interesting to me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Dozen Christmas Songs

Skipping the familiar standards or even some of the more modern standards, here are a dozen of my favorite holiday songs this season. Note that three of them are from Santastic, a terrific mix album done last year. Not sure if that's still available, although there is a new Santastic II this year which is not quite as good. At any rate, a dozen holiday songs that I like:

Elf's Lament - Barenaked Ladies
Dance of the Sugar Fairy (Red Baron Remix) - Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Last Night (I Went Out With Santa Claus) - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Turbo Sleigh Ride - DJ Bc
The Christmas Massacre of Charlie Brown - DJ John
Baby It's Cold Outside - Ella Fitzgerland & Louis Jordan
A Great Big Sled - The Killers
Pennies from Heaven - Louis Prima
Let It Snow/The Last Christmas Medley You'll Ever Need to Hear - Riders in the Sky
Frosty DMC - samflanagan
Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
I Pray on Christmas - Harry Connick Jr.

Graphic Novel A Day: Curse of Dracula

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Gene Colan
Company: Dark Horse
Price: $9.95 ($9.95 at Amazon)

An attempt to basically "relaunch" Tomb of Dracula with all-new characters but in the same vein and with the same creators, Curse of Dracula is, like most of Claremont's post-1990 work, a good example of how you can't go home again. Curse of Dracula does read a lot like Tomb of Dracula in some ways, with a cast of unusual hunters trying to take down the lord of the undead, but in the harsh light of modern comics, the approach looks a bit dated. Wolfman's self-aggrandizing intro, wherein he makes claims of writing horror and scary and that crime fiction and superhero fiction, no matter how good, can never reach such heights, doesn't help. The lead characters are interesting but a bit over-the-top, often featuring characterization that boils down to weird accents, and they don't have the likability or the depth of a Blade or Hannibal King. This Dracula is a sketch compared to the richly developed supervillain of Tomb of Dracula, where the book was as much about him as it was his hunters. And you'd think getting one of my favorite artists (Gene Colan) with one of my favorite colorists (Dave Stewart) would be fantastic, but instead it's merely adequate, and the "digital inking" style just really doesn't suit Colan's work. I'm sounding harsher than I feel, because I did actually read the whole thing, but my general feeling is that you're better off going back and reading the Essential Tomb of Dracula, when these concepts and their creators were fresher.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Monster Vol. 5

Writer/Artist: Naoki Urusawa
Translators: Agnes Yoshida & Hirotaka Kikaya
Company: Viz
Price: $9.99 ($9.99 at Amazon)

I really need to write up a review of the Monster series for Comic Pants. The first volume is kind of slow, but after volume two, when the basic premise and characters are laid out, the thing gets going like a rollercoaster. The high concept is that a surgeon saves a young boy who turns out to be a serial killer, and then he goes on the run (accused of the boy's crimes) trying to find the kid and deal with him. There's a lot more to it than that, though, including eugenics experiments, conspiracies, psychological warfare, murders and mysteries and plenty more. To use a clumsy comparison, it'd be a great TV show, introducing guest stars and recurring supporting players while providing satisfying plots with closure each week. This time out, Dr. Tenma (the lead) meets up with a criminal psychiatrist he knew in prison. The story follows this psychiatrist's personal journey, including a story with his own current case that ties into Dr. Tenma's, as well as ongoing tales of Johan's sister, his followers and a clever federal agent who is tracking Dr. Tenma and doesn't seem entirely mentally balanced himself. Great suspense storytelling.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Mail Order Ninja Vol. 2

Writer: Josh Elder
Artist: Erich Owen
Company: Tokyopop
Price: $5.99 ($5.99 at Amazon)

This book has received some relatively harsh criticism from friends like Johanna Draper Carlson and Don MacPherson, and while I can see where they're coming from, I kinda liked it. It's true that Elder's concept was at its best in its shorter form with its debut at Rising Stars of Manga, as the additional depth of backstory mostly takes away from the fun of the book, but that doesn't mean there's no fun to be had. Elder and Owen present a number of grade school archetypes, from the bully to the rich entitled girl to the bratty younger sister, and mixes in ninja clans and mind control for a story that reads like a younger readers' version of 1984 crossed with a Saturday afternoon ninja movie and a good war movie. Some of the pop culture references are a bit strained (the Pink Floyd one was a groaner), but some are genius (the Saturday Night Fever riff was a favorite). It's light reading, definitely skewing towards the younger side of all-ages, but there are some laugh-out-loud moments and a lot of fun ideas at work in Mail Order Ninja.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Lone

Writer: Stuart Moore
Artists: Jerome Opena & Alberto Ponticelli
Company: Dark Horse
Price: $14.95 ($10.17 at Amazon)

The Rocket Comics line was pretty short-lived and, for my money, didn't really provide a lot of comics for me. But... Lone, the post-apocalyptic/western action comic by Moore and Opena, is a decent read. Opena has a really cool, Euro-influenced art style and as someone with a soft spot for both westerns and the post-apocalypse, I enjoyed the premise. Moore's story isn't quite all I'd like it to be, a little too straight to be over-the-top and a little too goofy in places to be serious and gritty, but there are a lot of neat ideas and some beautiful art that make it a good read. It reminds me pleasantly of the world of beloved computer game Fallout (although there are as many differences as similarities) and provides a solid read if you're in the mood for something in the post-apocalyptic vein.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Adventures in Oz

Writer/Artist: Eric Shanower
Company: IDW
Price: $39.99 ($26.39 at Amazon)

I've never read the original Oz books, but I think I need to, if Shanower's original stories based on those books are any indications. All-ages reads, but not without a sophistication that I liked, and with a ton of imagination and fun. Adventures in Oz is essentially five graphic novels collected into a new, swanky oversized collection which really shows off Shanower's beautiful full-color artwork. Dorothy and friends get involved in adventures featuring Ice Kings, a war between trolla and wood nymphs, hidden islands, the lost Good Witch of the East, the Wicked Witch of the South and plenty more. It's like high fantasy meets kid lit, full of wild visuals and cool characters. Very highly recommended, and I wish I'd know how much I was going to like it, I would have ponied up the extra cash for the limited hardcover.

Weekly Comics to Come - December 13, 2006

TOP FIVE:
Batman #660 (First issue of the Ostrander/Mandrake arc was good, and Mandrake's art looks especially great)
Damned #3 (Very much enjoying this tale of Prohibition-era warring demon gangs and their unkillable investigator)
Escapists #6 (Can Vaughan wrap the series strong? Let's hope!)
Punisher Max From First To Last HC (I've read The End, and looking forward to reading the other tales in this hardcover)
Spirit #1 (Darwyn Cooke's relaunch of Will Eisner's classic... I wouldn't trust anyone else with it, but after reading New Frontier and Batman/Spirit, I trust him)

THE REST:
DMZ #14 (The second issue of a new, very intriguing, story arc)
Essential Off Handbook Marvel Universe Update 89 Tp (Not as good as the original stuff, mostly due to the characters covered, but still good stuff)
Ex Machina #25 (New story arc for the political/sci-fi series)
Exiles Annual #1 (Don't remember the solicited plot, but I know it's got a good creative team)
Fantastic Four The End #3 (Second issue weakened a little, but still beautiful art and fun story)
Fear Agent #9 (Always late, always a fun read)
Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #19 (Arcade vs. the FF with art by Kano and an all-ages vibe... better than the JMS FF)
Outer Orbit #1 (New outer space adventure with art by Sean Murphy!)

New Wrinkle on the Comics Advertising Debacle

Fans and retailers alike have been complaining about the number of ads in both DC and Marvel's books over the last couple months. Now I'm not generally one to take sides in the "DC vs. Marvel" debate (they both have their share of strengths and faults), but it's been accepted wisdom in the retailer community that Marvel is less retailer-friendly. That's not *always* the case (Marvel did get FOC before DC did), but it's generally true. And here's an example.

DC and Marvel have both overloaded their books with ads for the last couple months, with weighty extra pages and even (in DC's case) bound-in 3D glasses. Retailers pay for that increased weight with freight costs, but don't see extra profits from it. DC has now begun issuing freight credits for their overly heavy books... Marvel hasn't.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Runaways Vol. 2 HC

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, Skottie Young, etc.
Company: Marvel Comics
Price: $24.99 ($16.49 at Amazon)

Runaways is one of my favorite series, and hardcover is definitely the format of choice. This one, collecting #1-12 of volume two, had a lot to live up to, because that first hardcover was a thing of beauty. 18 issues collecting the entire first series, tons of extras including a series proposal by Vaughan, etc. Volume two isn't as good, but only by comparison to that first volume. In all other ways, this is a great read, and the perfect package for it. The stories include the introduction of Victor Mancha and the revelation of his super-villain dad, the introduction of Excelsior (former teen heroes trying to convince others to stay out of the game) and a road trip to New York to help out Cloak & Dagger. The extras are sparse compared to the last one, but they do include a script to volume two #1 by Vaughan and a few pages of sketches from Alphona. And that sweet original cover by Alphona, packed full of references to the stories, is so good that it matches right up there with the level of cover quality I've come to expect from usual cover artist Jo Chen.
Kids Do Read Comics:
There's a little discussion going on right now (and by right now I mean perpetually, but it's flared up lately from Larry Young and Jason McNamara) about whether or not kids read comics. And if not, why not. The accepted wisdom is that kids don't read comics. That comics passed them by, that they don't read them anymore, that only 20 and 30-year-olds are still reading comics. And to some extent, it's true, in that kid readership of comics is not as widespread as it used to be.

But the scenario Larry posits in his column is, quite honestly, just bullshit. I'm kinda surprised to see it coming from someone who has worked on the front lines of retail. Because I do work on the front lines of retail, every day, and kids *are* buying comics. Kids are *excited* about comics. They'd be more excited if there were always comics for them when a movie gets them excited about a character (There was no Daredevil for kids when the movie came out, and generally there isn't one for X-Men either). But I sell a pretty decent number of the Marvel Adventures digests, the Tokyopop Cinemangas, the Bone Scholastic editions, etc.

Here's the thing, and nobody wants to hear it: Kids don't want black and white, and they don't want new characters. They want characters that they recognize. They want Spider-Man and Batman and the X-Men and Sonic. Good lord, do they want Sonic. I didn't even know the character was still around until I started working retail, but every month we sell tons of Sonic comics, and thankfully Archie Comics has *finally* gotten around to doing some Sonic digests, which also are selling gangbusters.

So that's the sad truth. It's not that Colonia or Continuity aren't fine comics, but they don't have the shiny to attract the kids. Likewise, I love Clan Apis, but I have a devil of a time selling it to kids or their parents, even though it'd be perfect for some of them. And as for why Jason hasn't heard of a graphic novel by "KURT [expletive deleted because we’re still on the main blog page] BUSIEK?" and whether "comics journalism hit the Plado Ceiling?" Well, The Wizard's Tale is about 10 years old, and much as I loved it (I reviewed it and gave it a 10/10 when it first came out), it's long out of print (although available used at Amazon, and recommended) and, more to the point, it's not really what the kids are looking for either. Now, if someone were to get the Harry Potter license and do it right, that book would sell gangbusters. But the truth of the matter is, today's kids, from my observation, want characters that are familiar, they want full color and they (and especially their parents) want it cheap, or at least cheaper.

I won't deny that DC and Marvel especially could do with a wider selection of all-ages material, but this whole notion of "There's all this great kids' material and nobody knows about it" and "Kids want fancy new stuff nobody is providing them" are both pretty much dead wrong. The industry did fuck up in deciding to skew older and leave all-ages behind, but that decision was made probably 20-some years ago at the dawn of the direct market. These days, the reason kids aren't reading comics has more to do with the kids than with the comics.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Robotika HC

Writer/Artist: Alex Sheikman
Company: Archaia Studios
Price: $19.95 ($13.57 at Amazon)

I already wrote a full review espousing my love of Robotika at Comic Pants, so I won't repeat too much about the substance of the book, what it's about, how great the art is, etc. here. What I will say is that, as usual, Archaia serves up production values that are worthy of the high class, beautifully-drawn comics that they've published. A nice hardcover, for only $20, reproducing Sheikman's future samurai/cyberpunk epic with two forewords, one by Ron Marz and one by Ted McKeever, plus a nice little sketch section in the back. Best part of all? The last page is a black and white image that promises more Robotika in 2007. Can't wait.

By the way, Amazon says it ships this within 1 to 3 months, which is an obscenely long time. I always recommend supporting your local comics shop when possible, but in this case I especially recommend it, or maybe seeking any of the number of fine graphic novel purveyors online if you don't have a local shop. Otherwise you might be waiting months to get the book.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: The Expendable One

Writer: Jason M. Burns
Artist: Bryan Baugh
Company: Viper Comics
Price: $11.95 ($10.16 at Amazon)

Action-comedy-horror about a guy who can't die, his hapless sidekick/scientist best friend and a sexy, kinda slutty FBI Agent (or is she?) battling a werewolf (or is he?) serial killer. A bit of a mess, quite honestly, too many concepts, not enough focus. The sophistication is about at an all-ages level, but there's a ton of cursing and mostly un-needed sexual innuendo and sexy imagery, thanks largely to fantasy object Agent Armstrong. It's a solid enough book to read, and Bryan Baugh's artwork is nice, especially for those who dig on Viper wunderkind Josh Howard, but it's got various issues as well. Nice production values, as with all Viper books, a neat little full-color digest package for $12, and I think it's been optioned for movie development, which means it's gotten the right attention from some folks at least.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blog Template Update for November
This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published.

November was an interesting month (in the Chinese curse sense of the word), but most of it is stuff I either can't or don't want to discuss publicly. So just take my word for it, various shit went down in November, but life here at Casa de Lander is generally pretty decent, if occasionally stressful. But then, what else would you expect from the holiday season? As I write this update, we're coming out of the first weekend in December and I've gotten 80% of the Christmas shopping done, which is a minor miracle itself and lets me check one thing off my constantly growing to do list. Thanksgiving was a great time with the Hardie side of the family, and Katy had a blast playing with all her cousins. Wizard World Texas was a little slow, but we had fun anyway, and I definitely see doing it as a one-day show in future years if it keeps on going. Anyway, the tree is lit and decorated and we're fully into the swing of the Christmas season here. All I need is to pop Elf into the DVD player at some point in the next couple of weeks and mix in some Christmas music to my iPod playlists and it'll be officially 'tis the season and all that.

There were first issues in November, but not many made my top 20 cut. In fact, November was generally a pretty disappointing month for comics. I still came in at over 20 when trying to pin down comics I enjoyed, but mostly it was the usual suspects, and there weren't any cool new surprises like The Killer, Other Side or Damned. Still, Star Wars Dark Times kicks off the newest Dark Horse Star Wars tale in fine fashion, Batman #659 is a good opener for the Ostrander/Mandrake art and Batman/Spirit was one of my favorite single issues of the year. Actually, November was probably Darwyn Cooke month for me, since this also saw the publication of Absolute New Frontier, which is a gorgeous, amazing hardcover.

Breakdown on publishers in my top 20 this month: I read the most of Marvel, which is weird since I tend to hate Marvel these days. But 2 of those books are Brubaker, 2 are Vaughan and the other two are out-of-continuity, an interesting MAX miniseries (Hellstorm) and one of the best all-ages reads in comics, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. Vertigo and Image tie with four each (the return of Godlands and the move of True Story Swear To God helped bump things up for Image), DC has only three (all Batman, all more or less out of continuity - maybe Infinite Crisis and its fallout *did* suck more than Civil War. Or maybe Marvel just has more books crowding the shelves), two from Dark Horse (another Vaughan and a Star Wars book) and one from Oni Press. I'm honestly a little disturbed at how mainstream my comics reading has become (in some respects, although none of my favorites tend to hit the Diamond Top 20 or even 30)... is it me, or are the indie publishers producing less these days? Maybe they're all going straight to graphic novel, since half of my top ten graphic novels are what I'd consider indy (Oni, Gemstone, Adhouse, Top Shelf, IDW).

On the TV front, the big news is the addition of Daybreak, which I expected to like OK at best, but it's turning into one of my favorite new fall shows. Love Taye Diggs ever since Go, and he's making a pretty good run as a new action hero. The premise about a cop re-living the day, trying to work out a case, is being written and directed really well, and I'm as jazzed to watch each new installment as I usually am to watch 24. OK, maybe just one notch lower. But at any rate, 24 junkies looking for a pre-January fix should probably give this one a look, and it's worth noting that the show, at 13 episodes, is more likely to serve up a satisfying ending than long-running serials like Lost and Heroes. Both of which I'm enjoying, the former more than the latter, and I'm bummed that the big "Save the Cheerleader" episode was so lame. But the "Six Months Later" episode that followed it was pretty strong. Also uneven: Doctor Who, which has mostly been disappointing and Veronica Mars, which has mostly been good, occasionally disappointing, occasionally great. Still better than most of the shows that are making the big ratings and being championed by Entertainment Weekly, which is pissing me off more and more with their slobbery love for Grey's Anatomy and constant bashing of Studio 60, which is uneven but always smart and usually funny. The Office has also been hilarious, at its best when the merger episode happened. I'm also generally enjoying Battlestar Galactica, although that last episode (the boxing one) mostly served to remind me how little I care about boxing. Ever since they lifted off from that fantastic Caprica story, the series has been on a bit of a downward slide. Still good... but rarely great.

New links added this month were the blog for Comic Foundry, which was an online magazine for comics and will in 2007 be a new print magazine for comics. I also found, usually through links from The Beat, new artist websites for Jen Wang and Dan Hipp.

Graphic Novel A Day: Banya The Explosive Delivery Man Vol. 1

Writer/Artist: Kim Young-Oh
Translators: Taesoon Kang & Derek Kirk Kim
Company: Dark Horse
Price: $12.95 ($10.36 at Amazon)

This is one of the new offerings in Dark Horse's manwha (Korean comics) line, translated by fan-favorite creator Derek Kirk Kim and his mother, Taesoon Kang. I should state right up front that Banya, despite the title, does not deliver explosives. Instead, that's more of an adjective describing him. How to describe Banya? Well, it's sort of Kevin Costner's The Postman meets Berserk with a little bit of manga-style slapstick humor for good measure. In what is either post-apocalypse or fantasy, there's a big war between men and monstrous Torren (think mutants), and delivering in these dangerous times and desert landscapes are Banya and his ilk, of the Gaya Desert Post Office. This is played for laughs, but it's also played in such a way to make Banya and the other two members of his Post Office look pretty badass. Really nice art, some great action sequences, an interesting premise, neat monsters and good characters, Banya is fun, stylish and action-packed.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Pathfinder

Writers: Laeta Kalogridis & Marcus Nispel
Artist: Christopher Shy
Company: Dark Horse
Price: $19.95 ($15.56 on Amazon)

The first in my graphic novel a day series that I couldn't finish reading. This is a weird graphic novel, an adaptation of sorts of a movie (which either has already come out or is coming out) about a Native American tribe that battles Vikings. The artwork by Christopher Shy is in the Ashley Wood-Ben Templesmith style, which is to say it is occasionally evocative but almost completely unsuited for sequential storytelling (in my opinion), and it also doesn't really get the readers emotionally engaged. The story is built up from concept art and storyboards done for the movie, with dialogue that comes either from the director, the writer or the "producer" credited in the graphic novel. I realized it was time to stop reading when I got to the part where the vikings slaughtered the lead character's family in front of him and I just didn't care at all what happened next.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Meathaus Vol. 8

Company: Alternative Press
Price: $14.95 ($10.17 on Amazon)

A collection of short stories from a variety of talented indy cartoonists. As with many of these small press anthologies, a lot of the stories are just way too weird for me, but there's some great artistry throughout. My particular favorite cartoonists working on this volume are Becky Cloonan, Brandon Graham, James Jean, Jimm Rugg, Scott Morse, Jim Mahfood, Tomer Hanuka, Nate Powell and Farel Dalrymple, but there's just a ton of talent onboard. I'm particularly amused (and disturbed) by the contribution of Mickey Duzyj, who offers up a tale of giant naked old women fighting it out in a city using laser guns. Seriously. I don't care who you are, that's just awesome.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Punisher MAX Vol. 2 HC

Writer: Garth Ennis
Artists: Dougie Braithwaite & Leandro Fernandez
Company: Marvel
Price: $29.99 ($19.79 at Amazon)

Volume two of Punisher MAX is better than the first in some respects and lesser in some others. Either way, it's still a pretty good read. The gem of the book is the first story, which finds Punisher on a special ops mission for Nick Fury in Russia. It's Punisher as military adventure, with a great, hulking, almost Frankenstein-like Punisher by artist Braithwaite. Fury is the MAX version of Fury, and I think that I'm starting to like the idea that the MAX versions of these characters are in fact an alternate universe version of the characters... it makes it a lot easier to swallow stuff that I'd hate if it was in the Marvel Universe, like a lot of Ennis's take on Fury. The second story, with great art by Fernandez, calls back a lot of the characters from the first story arc and the Russia story arc, and it's got a lot I like, but it also has a few of the worrying signs of mutilation-as-funny that I don't like in Ennis' work. I think in general I prefer Punisher MAX to not have a lot of continuity between stories, to work more like a series of standalone movies or novels than serial comics.
Weekly Comics to Come - December 6, 2006:

Looks like a pretty good week. Had a hard time cutting my top five down from seven or eight.

TOP FIVE:
Beyond #6 (This is probably my favorite miniseries this year, I'm really anxious to see the conclusion and all the answers)
Manhunter #26 (Marc Andreyko's series gets another arc to prove itself in sales, with big gun guest stars)
Other Side #3 (Creepy Vietnam-era miniseries continues)
Runaways Vol 2 HC (Finally, a second hardcover volume of Runaways... the first one was terrific)
Superman Confidential #2 (Good opener, and I'm a big fan of both Cooke and Sale)

THE REST:
Agents Of Atlas #5 (Losing interest a little, but I still think I'm going to want to read the trade)
Batman Confidential #1 (Expect to be disappointed by the art, hope the story can survive it)
Doctor Strange Oath #3 (Despite a couple complaints, in general I'm really enjoying this)
Invincible #37 (I really wish this would get back to being a monthly. Maybe I should just stop reading until the trades come out)
Irredeemable Ant-Man #3 (Unpredictable and different, I like this one a lot. Great art by Phil Hester, too. Almost makes the top five this week)
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #22 (The black saga/Venom costume continues in the all-ages book)
Meltdown #1 (Solid first issue about a superhero whose powers are killing him... great art by Sean Wang)
Midnighter #2 (Not expecting a lot, but my recent fondness for Ennis's Punisher has me onboard for at least one more issue)
newuniversal #1 (Curious to check this one out. Immonen's art is always good, and Ellis basically starting from scratch with a sci-fi superhero universe *could* be like his work on Apparat... if he doesn't fall into autopilot anti-superhero mode)
Official Handbook O/t Invincible Universe #1 (This should be a lot of fun)
Robotika HC (Beautiful and action-packed sci-fi series, can't wait to see the production values on this hardcover from Archaia)
Spider-Man Reign #1 (Wary of the grim and gritty vibe for this character, but curious to see what Kaare Andrews will offer)
Star Wars Rebellion #5 (Probably my second favorite of the current crop of Star Wars comics, behind Dark Times)
Tranquility #1 (Gail Simone and Neil Googe on superhero retirement... too bad it's part of Wildstorm's lame relaunch, but it could still stand alone)
Uncanny X-Men #481 (Losing interest, but still just enough to keep reading)
Walking Dead #33 (Kirkman has four or five books coming out this week)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oh. My. God.
I am a format whore when it comes to my comics, but I am not a book fetishist. I don't go out of my way for first editions, I don't care if it's hardcover or battered paperback, and honestly, my novel and plain old prose reading is just way down from what it used to be.

But... this makes me drool and makes me wish I had $4000 in loose money lying around and a library room in the house to keep it in. In addition to a variety of literature and essays that would be interesting and of great use to my children as they start to go to school and get interested in reading, they've got pop culture treasures like early crime collections, works by Hammett and Chandler, a collection of Lovecraft and next year they're doing a volume for Philip K. Dick.

I think I might have to start buying a few volumes of these when I get done reading my graphic novel overstock.
The Zune:
Microsoft's Christmas-timed "iPod Killer." To be honest, I hadn't really even heard much about it before tonight. Just a few of Cory Doctorow's "DRM is Evil!" freakouts at Boing-Boing, the kind of thing I've gotten so tired of I just zapped it from the RSS feed without reading the attached article. But then Scott Kurtz referenced it in PVP, and I got curious. So I did what anyone would do. I Googled it.

First up on Google's list of links are blowjob-level fan pages for the player. I was reading these things, which go out of their way to avoid mentioning any of the shortcomings, and I was still suspicious. See, for all its minor faults (including a DRM scheme that does worry me, long-term) I *love* iTunes and my iPod. And generally... I hate Microsoft. So maybe I'm suspiciously minded by nature.

But my next stop, as it should be, was Wikipedia. There I started to get a more accurate look at the Zune, and after a few reviews at the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, I got what I think is a pretty accurate picture of the Zune.

It's a music industry-friendly player that is Microsoft's desperate attempt to take back some of the market that Apple has pretty much conquered. My guess is that within a year, Apple will have integrated the two good ideas (Wifi and a bigger video screen), done them better (maybe a more expansive use of Wifi and less crippling sharing options) and the Zune will shortly be a faint memory of Microsoft helping Apple do its product improvement research for them.

Can't wait for my wifi-enabled next-gen iPod, though. Thanks, Zune!

Graphic Novel A Day: Punisher MAX Vol. 1 HC

Writer: Garth Ennis
Artists: Lewis Larosa & Leandro Fernandez
Company: Marvel
Price: $29.99 ($19.79 on Amazon)

The impending publication of Punisher: First to Last, featuring memorable Punisher one-shots by Garth Ennis and various artists, encouraged me to finally go ahead and pick up the hardcovers of his MAX run. His early Punisher stuff was the same kind of self-indulgent, adolescent dark humor that he's mostly known for these days, and it got old. When Punisher became a mature readers book, though, somehow Ennis became the perfect guy for it, writing these gritty crime stories with plenty of action (delivered in fine style by artists like Larosa and Fernandez, who have grown since their early work and get even better with every story arc) that are pretty true to the roots of the character in pulp-y novels and '70s revenge flicks. Sure, there are still signs of Ennis' excesses, including an unnecessary love of characters being tortured or maimed and a dark humor streak that usually works but occasionally veers into breaking the mood... but in general, these are the perfect thing for a Punisher fan looking for stories that take the character seriously.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Ex Machina Vol. 4: March to War
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Tony Harris, Tom Feister, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & JD Mettler
Company: DC/Wildstorm
Price: $12.99 ($10.39 on Amazon)

OK, technically this is cheating, since I wrote it on Thursday morning and back-dated the time. But end result is I didn't miss a day, so it counts. Anyway, this is the latest volume of Vaughan's political/superhero series about a New York Mayor who also happens to have gained the ability to talk to machines via an encounter with some strange alien technology. Previous volumes have focused on 9-11, free speech issues, serial murders, severe weather procedures, gay marriage and a variety of other issues involved in running New York City. This time out, it's the story of protests and the lead-up to the Iraq War, with a new terrorist attack giving Mayor Mitchell Hundred the chance to show off his skills in handling the kind of crisis his predecessor had to deal with. It's a good mystery, good political storytelling as always and great art by Harris, Feister and Mettler. Only shame of it? I thought the character killed in this arc was interesting, and the death didn't contribute so much to the story that I thought it was worth losing the character. This also contains the two-part special, with guest art by Chris Sprouse, showing the origin and full story of Mitchell's "nemesis" Jack Pherson, who gained the ability to talk to animals and a desire to help them at the cost of humanity. It's an interesting flashback to Mitchell's days as the Great Machine, and an interesting change of tone and style for the book, focusing on those superhero elements but with a more realistic style. Good as always.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day: Night Trippers
Writer: Mark Ricketts
Artist: Micah Farritor
Company: Image
Price: $16.99 ($13.25 on Amazon)

Mark Ricketts definitely has some of the most inventive premises in comics. Night Trippers is about vampires, the counterculture of the '60s, rock and roll and romance, not necessarily in that order. I get the feeling I would have enjoyed it more if I could map all the characters referenced to their real-life inspirations, but it's hard to miss the Beatles or Andy Warhol, and even if you don't get all the references, the culture comes through loud and clear. Also some nice action sequences featuring a vampire hunter and a far-flung, intriguing cast of well-developed characters. The art by Micah Farritor reminds me of a more '60s pop colored version of the work done by Marc Hempel or D'Israeli in his Sandman days.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Graphic Novel A Day:
In an effort to shrink down my ever-growing pile of graphic novels to read, and to finally clear off my night table so I can read more novels and actual books at night, I have decided to embark on a new plan: A graphic novel a day. I will read at least one graphic novel each day, and most likely post about it here. Often-times, it will be an informational post of what it's about, who published it and a link to buy it at Amazon (or somewhere else if not available). Think 4th grader's book report, done about midnight the night before it was due. Plenty of times, I'm sure, it will be a note along the lines of "Yesterday's graphic novel was X. Published by X, here's the link."

I reserve the right to quit if a graphic novel isn't engaging me and to count that as a book read for the day. I also reserve the right to cheat and skip days, especially Tuesday, when I work until midnight, podcast and then read all my comics for the week. If I'm reading a big graphic novel, like one of the Marvel Essentials on my pile, I might let that slip over more than one day.

I currently have over 60 graphic novels ready to read, and that's not counting the half-dozen to a dozen graphic novels I buy every month. So this will probably go on for a while. I will either keep doing this for a good long time or quit when I lose interest. Knowing myself as I do, I'd vote for the latter, but I'm hoping for the former.

The Surrogates
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Brett Weldele
Cost: $19.95 ($13.57 at Amazon)
Company: Top Shelf


The Surrogates is a sci-fi story set around the 2050s in Atlanta (Venditti's home town) about a U.S. in which 92% of the population rarely goes out, instead living their lives through mechanical surrogates which channel feelings and experiences back to them. There's a lot of interesting sociological changes as a result of this technology, and the core of the plot is about two cops investigating a fanatic who is running around destroying surrogates and encouraging people to live, which seems to link to a religious fanatic who runs an anti-surrogate cult on a reservation negotiated when he and his followers rioted many years ago. Good sociological exploration, characters, action and a tightly plotted story, not to mention Weldele's moody art, make it a winner. There's also a ton of extras, from those that existed in the single issues like the back cover ads for the surrogate company that look real or the text pieces examining the surrogates or the backstory of the world and its characters to those that are new, including deleted scenes, design sketches and pinups from a variety of artists. Features Top Shelf's usual excellent production values and design work, and is well worth the $20.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - November 29, 2006:
The answer to last week's question "Does a big week mean a great week?" was a resounding no, as 90% of what I read was disappointing.

TOP FIVE:
American Virgin #9 (This reads best in trades, but it's still enjoyable in single issues. New story arc starts here, I believe)
Batman The Spirit (After rereading New Frontier in Absolute format, I'm now really looking forward to this. Darwyn Cooke rules!)
Captain America #24 (Brubaker's Civil War Cap tie-ins have been great, equal to the quality of the rest of his run on this book)
Immortal Iron Fist #1 (Not entirely sold on the whole legacy thing, but I am intrigued by it)
True Story Swear To God Image Ed #2 (Just as great after the move to Image... hope it picked up some readership)

THE REST:
Crossing Midnight #1 (I'm not super-excited about Mike Carey's newest Vertigo book, but I am mildly curious)
Ex Machina Vol 4 March To War TP (Still enjoying this book a lot)
Goon Wicked Inclinations Vol 5 TP (Always entertaining)
Mail Order Ninja Vol 2 (I have this but haven't read it yet, but I really enjoyed the first one. Funny all-ages stuff)
Whisper #1 (Never read the original Whisper, but curious to see Steven Grant's action character make a return at Boom! anyway)
Zombies Vs Robots #1 (How can you go wrong with a title like that?)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - November 22, 2006:

Wow, it's a *huge* week. I'm not sure how great the week will be, because I know there will be disappointments in this giant crop of comics, but there should be some good reading, just based on the law of averages.

TOP FIVE:
Action Comics #845 (First Donner/Johns issue was promising, curious to see where they're going)
Daredevil #91 (More of Daredevil's adventures in Europe, and Brubaker and Lark are still kicking ass on this book)
Fantastic Four The End #2 (Really fun first issue, might this be the first good The End miniseries?)
Godland #14 (Reading #13 reminded me how much I'd missed this title)
Jack Of Fables #5 (Jack's escape plan goes awry... I haven't read the solicits, I'm just guessing here)

THE REST:
24 Nightfall #1 (A "secret origins" style 24 about the Nightfall covert ops mission that spurred season one)
Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes II #2 (First issue was OK, but I'm not sure how long I'll keep reading without Kolins on art)
Captain America Red Menace Vol 2 TP (They're not gonna do big hardcovers of Brubaker's Cap work, are they? Looks like it might be time to buy the trades)
Conan #34 (Truman's first issue was a little weak compared to Busiek's, but I'm still down for following a few issues, based on the strength of the Scout trade I just read)
Connor Hawke Dragons Blood #1 (Dixon can do solid action, and I like this character... but his Richard Dragon series was pretty bad, and I hope this is more like his Nightwing, Birds of Prey and Green Arrow of old)
Damaged #1 (Don't remember much about this indie book, but it has MD Bright art, which is never a bad thing)
Drain #1 (New vampire book from Marvel's CB Cebulski, writer of the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance game, and the art looks nice)
Dwight T Albatross The Goon Noir #2 (First issue was a blast, looking forward to the creative line-up on this one)
Elephantmen #0 (I have this already, but it's good to see it re-released for those who have discovered the new series)
Enigma Cipher #1 (New World War II espionage book from Boom!)
Hellstorm Son Of Satan #2 (Dug the first issue, interested in seeing where it goes)
Impaler #2 (Ditto for Impaler)
John Woos Seven Brothers #2 (And ditto for this one. Push comes to shove, though, Impaler #2 is the second issue I'm most looking forward to this week except for FF: The End)
New X-men Omnibus HC (I have the original hardcovers, and I just dropped $75 on Absolute New Frontier. Otherwise, I'd definitely be buying this collection of Grant Morrison's ground-breaking X-Men work)
Pirates Of Coney Island #2 (First issue had an unexpected tone, but it was a good read. I want to see what happens next)
Planetary Brigade Origins #1 (I actually liked the Planetary Brigade more than the Hero Squared it was spun off from, in some ways)
Previews Vol #24.12 (Down the Line coming, but not until after Thanksgiving)
Punisher War Journal #1 (I've got kind of a bad feeling that this is gonna be Fraction just killing off perfectly good C-list bad guys... but I have to admit, I'm curious to read it anyway)
Runaways #22 (Losing me a little as it coasts to its pre-Whedon end, hopefully Vaughan can go out on a higher note)
Spider-man Loves Mary Jane #12 (Also coasting towards a changing point, with Miyazawa leaving, but I'm still digging the hell out of this one)
Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters #5 (Strange, a little heavy-handed, but readable)
Usagi Yojimbo #98 (Always good)
Walking Dead #32 (This latest story is getting a little long in the tooth, but a Halloween viewing of 28 Days Later has re-stoked my interest)
Wonder Woman #3 (Yep, it's been three months, must be time for another issue)
Y The Last Man Vol 8 Kimono Dragons TP (Closing in on the end of Y The Last Man)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - November 15, 2006:

TOP FIVE:
Absolute DC The New Frontier HC (Can't wait to finally crack open this gigantic book and give it a reread)
Action Comics #844 (First issue of the Johns/Donner/Kubert run was pretty solid)
Astro City The Dark Age Book Two #1 (Always glad to see Astro City return, even if Busiek's been off his game lately for me)
EC Archives Shock Suspenstories Vol 1 HC (I've just starting reading through this, and it's an amazing package)
Escapists #5 (My favorite miniseries of the moment)

THE REST:
Birds Of Prey #100 (BoP is losing me, but the changeover in this issue could bring me back)
Death Jr Vol 2 #2 (Long time between issues, but always entertaining)
GI Joe Dreadnoks Declassified #1 (Hoping for cheesy fun, expecting disappointment given the past GI Joe spotlights)
Invincible #36 (Another long wait between issues, but always entertaining)
Omega Men #2 (First issue had weak art, intriguing story... hope that it hooks me more here, expecting it not to, realistically)
Shadowpact #7 (Last issue was a weaker one, but I've liked the previous two quite a bit)
Southland Tales Book 2 (Enjoyed the first book... although I'm now waiting for the deluxe trade that will collect all three)
Union Jack #3 (Solid superhero action with terrific art by Mike Perkins)
White Tiger #1 (Mildly curious about this one)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Thoughts:
Given the way the last three elections turned out, I just kind of expected Wednesday to be a huge crushing disappointment. Instead, I was shocked at how well things went. The Democrats took over the House, Senate and won several governorships and the Bush Administration got the severe slap on the wrist they've been deserving. And as a bonus, this led to Rumsfeld finally being shown the door. Now if only there could be some kind of bus crash involving Cheney, Rove and maybe Robert Novak.

I don't have a great deal of faith that the Democrats will suddenly grow both a brain and a spine, but I do hope that this will allow the government to get back to general incompetence rather than outright villainy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

TV Thoughts on Election Eve:
Tomorrow is election day in the United States. Please, even if you've mostly given up on the system (I'm looking at you, Nate), go out and vote. Unless you're planning to vote Republican, then you can stay home. Kidding! Seriously, most of the local races here look pretty much decided, judging by the polls, and the guy (or gal, I'm looking at you, Kay Bailey Hutchinson) I don't want to win is winning many of the races. My change of address didn't go in and I didn't early vote, so I've got to drive back down to my old neck of the woods and vote before going to work instead of going somewhere convenient to my house.

The whole thing seems mostly out of my hands, and I'm not entirely convinced my vote counts, or that it'll get counted correctly, given that we're using Diebold machines here in Texas... but I'm still going to go vote. It's that last little vestige that convinces me we're still living in a democracy, and that the lunatics won't be running the asylum forever. Come tomorrow night or Wednesday morning, if the Democrats haven't re-taken the house, I may feel differently. I may just throw my hands up at the whole system. But right now, I still feel like I should vote.

Wow, and that was just the digression, not the point of the post. Anyway, further TV thoughts, spurred largely by NBC's Monday Night line-up of Heroes and Studio 60.

Heroes: The quality is still uneven, and tonight's episode was mostly standstill stuff, with only a few minor developments and one big one... but in general, the show has gotten better, and I'm enjoying it. Some weeks, I'm even looking forward to seeing where the mysteries and character arcs go. Still not loving it as I loved Lost, and if I could cancel this and bring back Smith and/or Kidnapped, I'd do it in a heartbeat, but I'm no longer actively angry that this gets to stick around while so many shows I really liked tanked so early.

Studio 60: Tonight's episode started off a little worrisome, and the whole "John Goodman as redneck judge" thing, the in media res opener, was almost nails on a chalkboard for me. Fortunately, I stuck it out and this turned out to be the best (and funniest) episode since the pilot. Whereas this kind of farce didn't work so well on West Wing, where it felt out of place, it feels perfectly in line with Studio 60, and still has a few important things to say about the culture wars at the same time. Clever writing, some funny moments and terrific acting. Now if only EW would quit gleefully predicting (and wishing for) its death.

Veronica Mars: I've recently been re-watching my season one DVDs of Veronica Mars, and I'm afraid the naysayers are right, and VM isn't as good as it used to be. Fortunately, it is still remarkably good, and I always watch it as soon as possible. The numbers are slightly up, and the CW doesn't have any hits, so I'm hopeful that the show might get to continue. I will say that I wouldn't mind them chopping down the cast a bit, and giving some of the often unseen players like Wallace and especially Mac some more juicy stories and screen-time to go with them. I'm also kinda tired of the Logan/Veronica relationship... I liked it at first, but this whole "strained relationship" thing is getting old, and I'm bored with it.

Lost: Some folks are abandoning Lost. I don't get it. I think the show continues to be excellent, and I'm just as wrapped up in the mysteries (and more importantly, the characters) as always. But then, I wouldn't mind the popularity of the show dying down so that the creators get their chance to end things rather than stretching them out forever to appease the ratings and advertising gods. But given its current ratings, and that it takes the lead spot on Wednesday at least 50% of the time, I don't see that happening anytime real soon.

The Nine: I'm up and down on this one. It's good, it's watchable, but I'm not sure I care about the aftermath of the characters' lives as much as what actually happened in the bank. And unfortunately, the story is much more about the former than the latter. Some good actors here, and it's especially good to see Tim Daly, but quite honestly, I'd rather that his underrated show Eyes was still going on instead.

The Office: So very funny. Easily in my top five shows, and one that I watch the night its on, rather than saving it on the Tivo. I can't believe it took me this long to catch on to how good this show is.

Battlestar Galactica: Continues to shine. The episodes just after the return from New Caprica haven't been as strong, but I think that's because the bar was set so high by the insurgency/rescue story arc. This season is so good it's making me reconsider going back to buy the DVDs of seasons one and two, which I hadn't done because I wasn't sure I'd ever re-watch the show. Now I'm thinking I want to.

Doctor Who: Fun, occasionally cheesy. Not in Galactica's league, but I'm pretty happy with the show, especially given that I'm not remotely a fan of the property in general.

Kidnapped: Ratings dropped so far that it didn't even get burned off on Saturdays, now it's gone to "online only." Which I think might translate to "We're going to quietly stop showing it altogether" and I'm still hoping for a DVD set to get some closure. This was a great, stylish show with a spectacular cast and some good writing, and it's a shame it didn't catch on. I'm amazed that fans of 24 didn't gravitate to this show, as it had a lot in common with that one.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - November 8, 2006:

Absolute New Frontier is delayed again, damn it. There are also rumors that the Invincible handbook has come out, but it hasn't come to my shop yet. Fairly light week, especially after last week's massive haul of good books.

TOP FIVE:
Batman And The Mad Monk #4 (Matt Wagner is writing and drawing the best Batman right now, period)
Damned #2 (Good first issue, great art by Brian Hurtt)
Doctor Strange Oath #2 (Another great first issue with great art)
Fables #55 (The reintroduction of witch-hunting Hansel continues)
Y The Last Man #51 (More on what killed all the men, including maybe a concrete answer?)

THE REST:
Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes II #1 (I liked the first series, although without Kolins on art, my enthusiasm is much less)
DMZ #13 (Ricardo Burchielli returns for the next arc of DMZ)
Eternals #5 (I'm probably not going to pick up a trade at this point, but it's still an enjoyable read)
Marvel Legacy 1980s Handbook (This is my era, and I like these throwback handbooks)
Project Romantic SC (Another gorgeously produced anthology by Adhouse)
Star Wars Dark Times #1 (New Star Wars series starting right after the Revenge of the Sith)
Stormwatch Phd #1 (Wildstorm's relaunch has mostly been disappointing, but I'm still curious about Christos Gage's contribution)
Wisdom #1 (Doctor Who's Paul Cornell writes, which is the only reason I'm interested in a solo series featuring Warren Ellis's Mary Sue character)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blog Template Update for October
This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published.

So what'd I do in October? Well, the big news is probably that my wife is pregnant with our second child, due in June. We're very excited, and I'm about 50% less terrified, since I know the territory by now. Suzanne has been blogging about her pregnancy, Katy's reaction to it and such on her blog.

In addition, we had folks re-doing the bathrooms and kitchens in the house, which was kind of a pain but which has resulted in generally very nice bathrooms and kitchen. Except that the plugs in the bathrooms don't work. And the medicine chest/mirrors are gone, and I have no idea when they're coming back. But other than that, nice home improvements. I also got very into buying the Justice League Unlimited action figure three-packs when I saw them at the supermarket, and now have a pretty decent selection of obscure and popular DC heroes decorating my computer desk. We officially locked in the STAPLE! '07 special guest (Dean Haspiel) and there should be a few more exciting announcements in November about exhibitors and guests as well. Sales on STAPLE! tables are going very well, and if you're thinking of coming, you might want to look into registration as soon as possible. November fast approacheth, and that means three things to me: 1) Guitar Hero II will be arriving at my house and 2) Wizard World Texas is upon us and 3) Thanksgiving is coming soon.

This was a really good month for first issues, quite possibly the best all year. Criminal and Irredeemable Ant-Man are new and very promising series from Marvel, and there were also a couple great limited series launched this month, namely Doctor Strange: Oath and Other Side. Oni also launches once more into ongoing territory with the beautifully illustrated and intriguing genre-blend The Damned. Kind of amazing that despite hating almost everything related to Civil War and, indeed, much of Marvel's output, they still make up 50% of my Top 10. This probably speaks to Marvel's over-flooding the market once again, but it also speaks to two specific talents: Ed Brubaker and Brian Vaughan. Between them, they account for 8 of my Top 20. There are only two DC universe titles on my list, both on the fringes of the 52/Infinite Crisis-spun universe, which has basically lost all interest for me. But Vertigo takes up 4 spots, about half of Marvel, with roughly 25% of the level of output. And Vertigo dominates my Top 10 graphic novels with 3 spots as well.

There are only a few books on the indy list, and most wouldn't be considered indy by some. (By the way, I'm aware that some folks spell it indie. I spell it indy, and will continue to do so until someone can prove to me that both spellings aren't appropriate, via something other than their opinion.) Those books are The Damned, Dork and The Escapists. One Image book, one Dark Horse and one from Slave Labor. Indy makes up the lion's share of the rest of my graphic novel list, though, with an anthology published by Alternative, a new book from IDW, the first book I've ever bought from Dynamite and books from Dark Horse and Image.

Last month, I thought I was going to have a hard time pruning my Top 10 TV list. But then CBS cancelled Smith, which prompted me to stop watching The Unit, and things got a lot clearer. Shows that almost made the cut were Heroes, which I started to really dislike but which recovered strongly in the last two episodes and both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which I love but which have been shunted aside for the time being. There are like 30 of them on my Tivo right now, and I watch them at a rate of maybe one or two a week, so I'll never catch up. I watched 30 Rock to see if I wanted to add it to the weekly routine, and it was godawful. Just painfully unfunny, except for Alec Baldwin, who can't carry the show on his own. I know that some critics are hailing 30 Rock while hating on Studio 60, and I just don't get it. At least Studio 60 isn't supposed to be a comedy. My absolute favorite show right now is Battlestar Galactica... I liked but didn't love it for most of its run, but the opening three episode arc has been just amazing. Just below that, I've become obsessed with The Office, which makes me laugh harder than anything on TV since Arrested Development (although it's still not as good as AD... but what could be?) and I'm really enjoying the new Lost and Doctor Who seasons as well. Studio 60 and Veronica Mars have both been uneven for me, but they're always at least entertaining and occasionally great.

New links I added to my RSS reader this month: 2 Guys Reading Comics (on the strength of a hilarious takedown of Civil War #4), Artistic Veritas (covering TV and Tivo, my other two big addictions besides comics and the Internet) and artist blogs for Matt Madden, Marko Djurdjevic and Takeshi Miyazawa.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Official Handbook of the Katy Universe:
Katy came into my office tonight and asked if we could make a new superhero. So we used HeroMachine and came up with this one, that she named Arrow:



At this rate, she'll have her own superteam in the next couple of weeks. She's been calling Butterfly Wing by the name Gold Butterfly Wing or Butterfly Gold, and she has told me that there's a bad Butterfly Gold, inspired by my having bought the Justice Lords action figures in the Justice League Unlimited line.

She can also name Aquaman, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Atom, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, Lex Luthor and a few more, and asked to have superhero pictures put up in her room so she could look at them. So I put up my Justice League poster, with the season one roster on it. She also quite enjoys those oversized Paul Dini/Alex Ross books, especially Wonder Woman and the Justice League ones. So yeah, my daughter's already a superhero fan. I take full responsibility.
Weekly Comics to Come - October 31, 2006:

TOP FIVE:
American Virgin #8 (After re-reading the first trade, I find myself more in love with this title than ever)
Beyond #5 (Dwayne McDuffie and Scott Kolins close in on the finale of their B-lister war in space tale)
Criminal #2 (Brubaker and Phillips follow up the strongest debut issue of 2006)
Local #7 (This one's in Tempe, Arizona... this is in my top three series running right now, alongside Fables and Escapists)
Other Side #2 (Another strong first issue, can't wait to see the second)

THE REST:
Agents Of Atlas #4 (Modern conspiracy, Golden Age characters, great art... a fun diversion from Marvel that not enough people are reading)
Ex Machina #24 (More of New York politics, the firefighter rapist, drug dealers and more)
Irredeemable Ant-Man #2 (Fun first issue, great art by Phil Hester, curious to see where this one is going)
Justice League Of America #3 (This one has some weaknesses, including Benes's Turner-esque artwork, but it has some strong moments and a good lineup... if Meltzer would ever put the damn team together)
Killer #1 (New action/crime thriller from Archaia Studios)
Midnighter #1 (Probably just Garth Ennis on autopilot again, but Chris Sprouse's art will be nice)
Mouse Guard #5 (Archaia's unusual fantasy series races toward the conclusion of its first miniseries arc)
Mystery In Space #3 (Basically solid entertainment, although The Weird backup does nothing for me)
Pirate Tales #1 (Boom! anthology focused on pirates)
Superman Confidential #1 (Darwyn Cooke writes, Tim Sale draws, Randy reads)
Uncanny X-Men #480 (Brubaker and Tan hooked me good with the last issue, I'm digging this book)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My Daughter Made Her First Superhero:
This is Butterfly Wing, and she can fly. She doesn't have any other super-powers, but Katy has a lot more when she has her super-powers, like using her bracelets to turn things into gold and wearing a crown that protects her from bad animals.



Created using HeroMachine.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - October 25, 2006:

TOP FIVE:
American Virgin Head TP (This is a weird, beautifully drawn book that I really enjoy)
Godland #13 (Hooray! More Kirby/crazy Godland! I just read Vol. 2, so I'm very much in the mood for this)
Marvel Comics Encyclopedia HC (The DC Encyclopedia was fantastic, I expect great things from the Marvel one as well)
Scout Vol 1 TP (At last, some of Tim Truman's post-apocalyptic Apache epic is collected)
Supermarket TP (Great crime/sci-fi action from Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson)

THE REST:
Captain America #23 (Still good, despite Civil War, a tribute to the talented creative team)
Conan & The Songs Of The Dead #4 (The wrap-up of the Lansdale/Truman Conan)
Daredevil #90 (Good Ed Brubaker week, and the first part of DD's Paris adventure was great)
Deathblow #1 (Vaguely interested in Brian Azzarello's take on spec op Deathblow)
Hawaiian Dick Vol 2 Last Resort TP (The previous trade was a great collection, I hope this one lives up to it)
Impaler #1 (Solid horror outing with a new take on Dracula)
Jack Of Fables #4 (Just as good as the main Fables book)
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Vol 1 HC (Big week, or else I'd be picking up this oversized hardcover of all-ages Spidey... another time, perhaps)
Meathaus Vol. 8 SC (Indy anthology with some impessive names attached)
Planetary #26 (That rare beast, an issue of Planetary, is spotted in the wild!)
Previews #26.11 (Down the Line coming next week, looks like)
Seven Soldiers #1 (Finally, the conclusion that determines whether or not I'll be buying the four trades or not)
Spider-man Loves Mary Jane #11 (Continues to delight and entertain)
Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters #4 (Third issue was weaker, but I liked enough in the first three issues to keep reading)

Monday, October 16, 2006

More TV Thoughts:

Battlestar Galactica - Well, it's official. Three episodes in, and season three is far and away my favorite season of Battlestar Galactica yet. Some great moral ambiguity, even for the cylons, a tension-filled situation as we wonder how on Earth the humans are going to get off the planet and what kind of plan Adama could have and plenty of questions about what's going to happen next. Along with great writing, great acting and a nice guest turn by Amanda Plummer (that was unexpected).

Studio 60 - I have to admit, while I'm still loving the show, the people complaining about the lameness of the sketch comedy aren't wrong. It's *painfully* unfunny, and they probably shouldn't spend any time showing it if they can avoid it. Because the backstage stuff is great, and I'm really loving the romance between Matt and Harriet, because it really does seem legitimately impossible. They may have great chemistry, but it seems like they don't belong together, and that's an interesting thing. Jordan McDeere is the TV president equivalent of Jed Bartlett... I don't for a minute believe that someone that principled, smart and witty could rise to that position, but I sure wish they could, and I sure love the wish fulfilment of it. How great would it be if someone at network television actually had the principles to pass on a "toxic" reality show like the one pitched tonight? Did seem like Sorkin was talking to his audience a little with the reporter's speech about why it's an important story for Vanity Fair, answering the criticisms of Studio 60 being about "just TV." But I agree with all the points made, so I'm onboard with it.

Heroes - A noticeable uptick in quality, almost a quantum leap forward, as Bryan Fuller (Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me) steps in to write his first episode. The writing was so much sharper, all the character bits seemed stronger and I loved seeing some of the connections being made. Oh, and that ending... totally superhero genre, and I loved it. Fun to see that Hiro's heroic destiny (at least in one world) isn't just as comic relief. And Nathan's character became a whole lot more interesting with the revleation of a wife and kids and his interaction with Niki, just as Niki's subplot continues to intrigue, as we see her other personality for the first time. I was on the verge of dropping this show last week... now I'm anxious to see what happens next. A more consistent level of writing would help a lot, but it's good to know that Fuller's voice isn't entirely lost, as his is the one I trust the most amongst the various producer/writers on the show.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - October 18, 2006:
TOP FIVE:
Batman And The Mad Monk #3 (Matt Wagner's Batman is still the best Batman being published right now)
Fables 1001 Nights Of Snowfall HC (Got a glimpse of this in San Diego, and it looks gorgeous. Can't wait to read this)
Omega Men #1 (The pitch for this one, featuring space adventure and topical events like religious extremism and terrorism, sounded interesting)
Runaways #21 (I'm just as excited about this book as ever, hope Vaughan brings things to a good conclusion of sorts in a few issues)
Shadowpact #6 (The last two issues of this book have been great, it's becoming a new favorite)

THE REST:
Authority #1 (Most of my enthusiasm for the Wildstorm relaunch is gone, now that Morrison's two titles are shipping)
Birds Of Prey #99 (This one is waning for me a little, but the upcoming roster change is intriguing)
Birds Of Prey The Battle Within Tp (Definitely still onboard for this trade, though, which had some great stuff)
Casanova #5 (The book is losing me a little, as it doesn't offer much in the way of a coherent story... might read better in trade)
Conan #33 (Tim Truman's run on the character begins here)
Damned #1 (Pretty solid prohibition gangster/Hellblazer-style demon wars comic with great Hurtt art)
Elephantmen #4 (Beautifully illustrated sci-fi book, glad this is coming out more frequently than annually)
Hellcity Vol 1 GN (Really dug Rotting in Dirtville, so I'm looking forward to seeing this new release from Gigantic Graphic Novels)
Hellstorm Son Of Satan #1 (Looks potentially fun, based on preview pages)
Lone Ranger #2 (First issue was surprisingly solid)
Marvel Adventures Avengers #6 (I'll give Bedard another chance to impress after a weak #5)
Marvel Adventures Avengers Vol 1 Heroes Assembled Tp (The four issues collected here, though, are all great)
Naoki Urasawas Monster Vol 5 (The thriller manga continues)
Noble Causes #24 (More on the war between Blackthornes and Nobles)
Seven Sons Gn (AIT/Planet Lar's re-telling of an old Chinese fable, looked interesting in Previews)
Union Jack #2 (Looking forward to the second issue of this international ensemble action book)
Wasteland #4 (More of Oni's post-apocalyptic buzz book)
Wildcats #1 (See my comments on Authority, plus I'm a bigger fan of Gene Ha's art than Jim Lee's)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The New Fall Season - The Continuing Adventures of Randy's Tivo:

Wow, it's amazing how fast optimism and joy can turn to bitterness and spite. The rapid-fire cancellation of two of my favorite shows, Kidnapped and Smith, not to mention underperforming ratings for the other new shows I'm really enjoying (Studio 60 and The Nine) have me convinced that all the great new TV I loved won't even live out the month, let alone the season. Kidnapped is at least getting closure, but it's moved to Saturdays, and it looks like it won't air this week, as there's some sort of special or sports on in its timeslot. I'd probably be better off just waiting on the inevitable DVD release, but I really want to see more of it now.

Studio 60: The latest episode was not as strong as the rest, but it's still the best new show of the season, especially with the only other contender for the title (Smith) was unceremoniously dumped by CBS. CBS has been unceremoniously dumped by me. It doesn't even exist as a network anymore as far as my Tivo is concerned. I'm hoping that the show's declining ratings won't mean a cancellation or "hiatus," but at this point I just keep expecting the other shoe to drop.

Heroes: Weak. There are some things I like, including Hiro's story and the neat little twist of having Sylar, the villain, have all of the heroes' powers, including the psycho personality that Nikki has. I'm guessing here, but I think it's pretty clear that's where they're going. But really, I think the producers think it's like Lost, when really it's not even in The 4400's class yet. Too many characters, only half of them interesting, a boring serial killer villain and hazy science and origins... it needs to get more focused, and fast. Actually, I guess it doesn't, as it's the breakout hit of the season. But I won't watch something just because it's genre, and Heroes may wind up on the same "dead to me" pile as Smallville soon.

Veronica Mars: I don't know how the second episode was because Time Warner killed one of the two channels carrying CW programming, with no warning. So I had an hour-long block of text about how Time Warner couldn't carry the program instead of Veronica Mars on my Tivo. It's not available on iTunes or streamed on the CW site, either. I'll find some way to watch it, though, I'm sure.

Lost: Fantastic. I love the mysteries, really intrigued by the various new characters, and every week I turn it off wanting to watch the next episode immediately. If I could time travel into the future, I'd bring back newspapers, stock reports and as many DVD box sets of Lost as there were available. Which then wouldn't play on my antiquated old technology DVD player, of course. There's always a trick with time travel, you know.

The Nine: Still interested, although the lower ratings have me worried that this will be yet another serialized show that doesn't pay off with anything but cancellation and unsolved questions. Great cast, though, and I like the mysteries. It's not in the same class as Kidnapped, Smith or Studio 60 for me, but it's very watchable.

30 Rock: Really weak. If it weren't for Alec Baldwin, it might be unwatchable. But Baldwin is *so* good that he elevates the entire show when he's on. Hopefully the rest of the show will rise to his level.

Battlestar Galactica: Amazing two-hour opener. I haven't been as on-board this series as my friends, it's been in my "like it, don't love it" box for a long time... but this was a phenomenal opener. Battlestar Galactica is officially in my top five shows at the moment. Which brings me to the updated list:

TOP TEN SHOWS (ALL SHOWS NOT YET CANCELLED):
1. Studio 60 on Sunset (NBC)
2. Lost (ABC)
3. Battlestar Galactica (SCIFI)
4. Veronica Mars (CW)
5. The Nine (ABC)
6. The Office (NBC)
7. Doctor Who (SCIFI)
8. My Name is Earl (NBC)

I don't have two more. I'm watching Heroes and 30 Rock, but they're on probation for me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

CBS Can Go To Hell:
At least Kidnapped is getting to finish out its story. CBS is cancelling Smith, which is probably my second favorite show behind Studio 60, and they're cutting it off without any warning, right before they go into the big heist next week.

This also probably means not enough episodes to even get a DVD release. Which really sucks. Not too surprising... Smith had a great cast, sharp writing and edgy subject matter. It's really only the kind of thing that's going to succeed on HBO. Which is where more and more of my viewing is going. I've also learned an important lesson, that it doesn't pay to invest any time in CBS's serials, since they're likely to pull them without any consideration for viewer payoff. Since the only other thing I'm watching on CBS is (or was) The Unit and Shark, I won't have any particular trouble just letting the network go entirely.

Studio 60 and The Nine are now the only new shows I'm excited about that remain on the air. It looks like Heroes is the big success story of the season, a shame since it's the one show that disappointed me after a promising start. Hopefully it'll start getting a lot better, fast, because it's most likely to be the show that sticks around. I'm also hoping that NBC and ABC will be smarter about letting their new shows build an audience, but after Kidnapped got a quick cancellation, I'm not holding my breath.

Then again, Kidnapped *really* had low ratings, and at least NBC did give the show's producers 10 more episodes to wrap up, which is forward-thinking in terms of promoting future serials. CBS just cut their best new shows out at the knees, and I'll remember that next year and the year after that at least when figuring out which new shows to try.