Monday, August 27, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - August 29th, 2007

Brit #1 (Invincible fans should definitely pick up this return to an earlier Kirkman creation, it's a very fun first issue with strong art by Cliff Rathburn)
Fantastic Four #549 (I love seeing Black Panther and Reed Richards playing off each other, as written by McDuffie. And the rest of the book is really good too)
Hellboy Darkness Calls #5 (Stunning art by Duncan Fegredo, great monsters and action by Mignola, terrific book)
Local #10 (Finally, the Austin issue! Looking forward to Wood & Kelly's rendition of my town)
Manhunter Vol 3 Origins TP (The first volume was good, the second great, and as I recall, the third as good or better than the second. Can't wait for the relaunch)

American Virgin #18 (I've been really enjoying this latest story, and I believe this begins a Ryan Kelly guest art stint, which is cool)
Avengers Initiative #5 (Some good stuff, some really weak stuff, good art... I want to like this book so much more than I actually do)
Fone Bone Plush Toy (These look great, saw them in San Diego)
Hack Slash Series #4 (Really fun B-movie horror/action stuff, as always)
Incredible Change Bots GN (Hilarious geek appreciation and making fun of the Transformers by Jeffrey Brown)
Previews Vol XVII #9 (Down the Line is in the works... now if only our site would come back online... stupid hosting company)
Punks The Summer Comics Special (Been anticipating this for a while, crazy experimental comic from Josh Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain)
Transformers Spotlight Optimus Prime (The big O (no, not Oprah) gets his own comic)
Usagi Yojimbo #105 (The two-part origin of Jei was creepy and great, and the book is, as always, terrific)
Walking Dead #41 (Wow, two issues in two weeks... and I'm guessing we're ramping up to some major goings-on now, with an invasion by the "evil" forces of the other town)
Wasteland #11 (I'm so behind on this story... I've read them all, but it hasn't gelled in my head... I really need a second trade to catch up)

A Little Current Events Ranting

So I went to CNN to find a link about Alberto Gonzales resigning, because I wanted to post a little something. But I found another link I want to talk about more, so let me just say, the news that Alberto Gonzales is retiring could only be made better if the word "resigning" actually meant "being devoured by rabid wolverines." And that definition could be retroactively applied to Karl Rove as well.

That said... do you believe this shit? Michael Vick, scumbag football player who organized dogfights, may not do jail time. May come back to the NFL. May get off the hook because, on what amounts to the third draft of his apology after he floated out a "no comment" type thing early and then a "it was the other guys, I never made any money off it" on Friday, he says he "found Jesus" as a result of this.

Really? You found him? What did Jesus have to say about you being the organizer of a dog-fighting ring? Was it something like the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank (that last name apparently a comment on his fucking soul), who said in the article, "We cannot tell you today that Michael is cut from the team. Cutting him may feel better emotionally for us and for many of our fans, but it's not in the long-term best interests of our franchise," Blank said.

Your franchise? YOUR FRANCHISE?

Oh, heaven forbid your professional football team have an off season in any way because one of your team members actually managed to push past the acceptable doping, date-raping, violent macho bullshit they get away with every day and find something socially unacceptable.

I watched pro football for a while there, and got kinda bored with it. Now I'm glad, because it means not having to justify supporting the kind of scum that seemingly make up the ranks of pro sports more and more these days, from the dog-fight-organizing pros to the apologist "anything for a win" coaches and owners.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The 2008 Presidential Election is gonna suck, isn't it?

Not since the Al Gore/GW Bush election in 2000 have I had such a dire feeling of "Death or Chi-Chi?" in my political choices. Seriously, if it's Clinton vs. Romney (or pretty much any of the Republican contenders of the moment) in 2008, I don't know if I want to vote. Because I honestly don't believe either one will represent me. And I've seen how well third party voting works out in 2000.

I mean, I knew Clinton was a cynical political operator even before this:

But now there's this:

If the next President isn't looking for an exit strategy from Iraq on day one, they aren't my candidate. But depressingly, it seems like the Democratic political machine is embracing Hilary, even though Obama or Edwards is probably a lot more electable with the rest of the electorate. It's the same kind of hive-bound, internal politics thinking that has gotten them to where they are today.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - August 22, 2007

Immortal Iron Fist #8 (Beginning the martial arts tournament, and it's great)
Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #1 (Saw a little of this in San Diego, it looked gorgeous, looking forward to reading it)
The Order #2 (The new character focused on in this issue is terrific, and it continues to be exactly what I want out of a modern superhero team book)
Thunderbolts #116 (Starting a new story arc, and it actually gives lameass emo boy Penance cool story moments... that's gotta be worth some extra points)
X-men First Class Vol 2 #3 (Fantastic, funny and clever and beautifully drawn, with a great short illustrated by Colleen Coover at the end)

Annihilation Conquest Star Lord #2 (Dirty dozen in space, full of action, and the first death)
Amelia Rules #18 (An issue exploring what it's like for kids whose parents are soldiers in Iraq)
Comic Foundry Magazine #1 (New comics magazine, I've read the first issue and it's very good)
Death By Chocolate Redux GN (David Yurkovich's unusual, interesting superhero tales include a man whose powers can turn anything into chocolate, and that's not even the half of it. Great, innovative stuff in a new edition)
Green Arrow Year One #4 (More Diggle/Jock action comics)
Invincible #45 (This book is in really interesting story territory right now, and after re-reading the stories in the 3rd Ultimate collection, I'm very much in the mood for more)
Marvel Adventures Avengers #15 (Jeff Parker, Leonard Kirk... the Avengers in Asgard? Hell yeah)
Naoki Urasawas Monster Vol 10 (More great suspense from Urasawa)
Repo #3 (The Spears/G future/action book rushes towards its conclusion)
Spirit #9 (Only four more Cooke/Bone Spirit issues left, meaning each one is a rare treasure)
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic #19 (Solid adventure Star Wars stuff, as always)
Surreal Adventures Of Edgar Allan Poo GN (Looks like beautiful art, strange story, and I've got a fondness for Poe)
Tellos Colossal Hc (I've only read scattered bits of Tellos, but knowing that this is the last we'll see of Mike Wieringo's non-superhero stuff, I absolutely want to give it a read in this complete form)
Terminator 2 Infinity #2 (First issue was pretty decent, I'll keep reading to see where it goes)
Toupydoops #6 (Yay! Another issue of the Hollywood as comics humor comic!)
Ultimate Spider Man 100 Project TP (Art book to benefit HERO Initiative)
Walking Dead #40 (Really digging the current story on this book as well)
White Picket Fences #3 ('50s alien invasion/young adventure comic)

Monday, August 13, 2007

In Memory of Mike Wieringo

I never got to meet Mike Wieringo. But I was a fan of his work, especially his collaborations with Mark Waid on Flash and Fantastic Four. And on Spider-Boy, the Amalgam one-shot he did with Karl Kesel. Wieringo's art showed the pure joy of comics, and I was really enjoying his daily blog, where he showed new sketches and was talking about a space adventure comic he was thinking about. Now we'll never get to see it, and that's the least of the sadness about losing Wieringo at such a young age.

Below is the first ever sketch I ever got, the first page in my sketchbook, from Chicago Con 1996. The artist? Mike Wieringo.

Edited to add: Scott Kurtz posts this recollection of moments with Mike, and it's incredibly moving. It's starting to sink in just how much we lost, and I'm remembering back to the day that Mike Parobeck died. So many years later, I'm still struck on an almost daily basis of how much that sucked, and I suspect the same is going to be true of losing Mike Wieringo so suddenly and unexpectedly.

Edited to add: I realize that it sounds stupid to say that I never met Mike Wieringo, when I've got a sketch from him. What I mean is that I never had a conversation that went beyond "I really like your art," so I don't really consider that we knew each other at all.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - August 15, 2007

Annihilation Conquest Quasar #2 (Solid second issue of the quest for a hero to stop the Phalanx)
Captain America #29 (Another beautifully drawn, interesting issue of the post-death Cap book)
Good As Lily GN (Word is this Minx book is a good one, and I'm very much looking forward to it)
Highwaymen #3 (I can probably call this my pick of the week already... issues #1-2 are some of my favorite comics of the year)
Narcoleptic Sunday GN (Read this on the plane back from San Diego... the artist is terrific, and writer Jeremy Haun, previously known for his art, does a great on the run/crime riff. Reminds me of Steve Rolston's One Bad Day, which I also dug)

Booster Gold #1 (Not so much feeling the multiverse, but I really liked Booster originally, and his creator Dan Jurgens is involved, so I'll give it a shot)
Brave And The Bold #6 (Not loving it as much as I was early on, but it's still a really fun book)
Flash #231 (Waid's first full issue, curious to see where he goes with it)
Marvel Adventures Hulk #2 (First issue was quite a bit of fun)
Ripclaw Pilot Season #1 (The Top Cow pilot season one-shots have a pretty good set of creators on them)
Terror Inc #1 (Weird zombie/body-snatching merc/assassin concept re-visualized as a MAX book from David Lapham... sounds potentially interesting)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

OK, this is a surprise

I knew Obama was showing some heat in the Democratic circles, but I wasn't quite sure I believed he was electable. I'd certainly vote for him, but I wasn't sure he could reach any kind of centrist or Republican-leaning base, which any candidate is going to need going into this next contentious election year.

But it turns out that he's polling third in the Iowa GOP caucuses. That's interesting, and it suggests a glimmer of hope, that maybe there are people out there who will vote for someone who shows youth and idealism, rather than just political pragmatism and the many scars of having battled their way into the political process for years and years at a time.

I don't know that Obama is my ideal candidate, but then, I don't think there is an ideal candidate for me. A recent rundown of candidate positions that was linked off Boing Boing showed me that Dennis Kucinich was the closest match, but he's definitely not a guy I see as real electable, and I've never particularly connected with him as a candidate before. But based on this, and seeing Obama face down Hilary Clinton over special interests (her defense of lobbyists turned my stomach, and pretty much put me off her completely... I'd been wary before, but that was pretty indicative of how much of a political insider she is) makes me think he's the guy I want to support in this election.

Unless MODOK runs as an independent. Because really, who doesn't want a giant telepathic head in the Oval Office?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Can Someone Explain Health Insurance To Me?

So it turns out that, as a result of the urgent care and brief hospital stay Suzanne underwent when Aaron was born, we owe the hospital, ambulance company and lab somewhere in the neighborhood of $7000.

Now, the amount isn't that shocking. Medical care is expensive, and these folks basically saved my wife's life. OK with that. Totally.

But here's the thing... we pay around $200 a month for health insurance, and they aren't really covering any of it. Because our deductible is $10,000, not the $5,000 each that we thought it was. Again, more or less our fault, we had a high deductible, OK.

But what the hell is the point of paying for insurance if it doesn't cover health costs? I mean, I pay around $150 a month for car insurance on two cars... if I have an accident, that insurance will take care of the car. Isn't that what insurance is for? To get insurance that would actually pay for these uncommon expenses, we'd need to be paying near $1000 a month. Which I sure as hell can't afford. I imagine many can't.

I realized that the health care system and medical insurance system was broken, but I hadn't realized just how badly. The sick part is, I still have to pay over $200 a month for insurance that basically does *nothing* for me on the off chance something catastrophic happens and our bill does go over $10,000 somehow. This is not unlike paying $50 a week for "Godzilla insurance." It's not likely to happen, but if by some chance Godzilla does rampage through Austin, I'll be covered.

So I guess the budget will be a little tighter for the next year or two while we pay off the hospital in installments. Not gonna kill us, but it is frustrating that we'll be paying basically *two* medical bills each month, one for past costs and one as a mostly ineffective hedge against future ones.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Well, this is disappointing...

...if hardly surprising. The Democrats have rolled over and given the OK to a secret court that could determine whether or not it's OK to wiretap foreign and domestic signals. Along with this article about "the art of compromise" it seems clear that the Democrats are little to no different from the Republicans, and no matter who winds up in office after G.W. Bush, it's probably not going to do anything to fix our severely broken government.

Our system of government is just truly and permanently fucked, isn't it? Riddled with corruption, controlled more or less by corporate interests and driven by a hundred different selfish agendas that have little or nothing to do with serving the interests of people they were elected to serve. I'm really starting to think that in my lifetime there's going to be armed revolution, a fascist government or a viable third party... and the third party seems really damned unlikely.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - August 8, 2007

Bprd Killing Ground #1 (The newest BPRD story starts, and the last one was great, as always)
Criminal #8 (I'm actually loving the second arc of Criminal more than the first, and I really enjoyed the first)
Nova #5 (This may be my favorite new Marvel series... great spacefaring action, and ties into Annihilation: Conquest very well)
Invincible Vol 3 Ultimate Coll HC (Very much into Invincible right now, looking forward to re-reading these issues and seeing all the cool extras)
Last Call Vol 1 GN (Vasilis Lolos' graphic novel about a ghost train, I've read the first 1/3 or so and it's great)

Alan Moore The Complete Wildcats TP (This was great stuff, glad to finally get it collected... even though I think I still have all the issues)
Annihilation Conquest Wraith #2 (More of the new gothic gunslinger at Marvel... who is, I am informed, *not* Rom. But is still cool)
Black Metal Vol 1 GN (Rick Spears & Chuck BB turn in a tale of heavy metal and demonic magic at Oni)
Daredevil #99 (Nice reveal, as we finally find out who the bad guy behind the Gladiator madness has been)
DMZ #22 (Concluding the "Friendly Fire" arc, which has been the best of the series thus far)
Dynamo 5 #6 (Good cliffhanger on the last issue, this and Astounding Wolf-Man are two new superhero books everybody should be checking out)
Fables #64 (More of the Flycatcher arc, which might be the best the book has been since "Homelands")
Green Arrow Year One #3 (Second issue picked up the action, and this book has been a fun surprise)
Incredible Hulk #109 (I'm actually liking this side story more than the main events of World War Hulk)
Jack Of Fables #13 (I've sort of lost the thread of the story, but I still enjoy this one when I read it)
Robot Dreams GN (Beautiful looking book from Sara Varon, indie creator of Sweaterweather)
Star Wars Legacy #15 (Way too many factions in this book, but beautiful art and some interesting ideas)
Star Wars Rebellion #9 (My favorite of the very strong Dark Horse Star Wars books, with a great crime/intrigue story going on right now)
Un-Men #1 (New Vertigo book, and I'll give it a look)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - August 1, 2007

American Virgin #17 (Loving this book as always, and the latest world travel story is the best it's been)
Annotated Northwest Passage HC (This is a gorgeous, gorgeous book collecting some of the best cartooning in the industry. Only $20, too!)
Fantastic Four #548 (Great stuff from McDuffie and Pelletier, and all of the FF come off as in-character and cool)
Godland Celestial Ed HC (Saw this in San Diego, it's every bit as gorgeous as you'd expect)
Metal Men #1 (Curious to see Duncan Rouleau's take on the unusual robot team)

Awakening #1 (New zombie book from Archaia Studios)
Conan & The Midnight God #5 (Concluding the really solid King Conan miniseries)
Faker #2 (First issue was intriguing and well put-together, I'll give the second issue a look)
Inannas Tears #1 (Myth and history with beautiful art, another Archaia book)
Killing Pickman #1 (And another Archaia book, this one about a monstrous serial killer and a vigilante homicide detective)
New Warriors #3 (Really good third issue continues to set up the anti-Avengers Initiative team)
Okko Cycle Of Water #4 (I think I missed issue three of this, but I dug what I've read previously)
Scalped Vol 1 Indian Country TP (OK, all the acclaim from folks I trust means I'll give this trade a shot, even though the series didn't hook me)
Scarface Scarred For Life TP (Ditto here, especially since there were satirical elements in the first issue I did really like)
Starkweather Immortal #0 (Another Archaia book, nice art, good premise about the immortal Legionnaire with the spear of destiny)
Uncanny X-Men #489 (Solid issue, although I'm still sort of bored with X-Men in general)
Wisdom Rudiments Of Wisdom TP (Paul O'Brien loved this one, so I want to give the trade a read)
World War Hulk #3 (Hulk and his aliens versus a pissed-off Thunderbolt Ross and the army? OK, that's potentially kind of awesome)