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. This is basically also my own records of what I read/liked for the inevitable "End of Year" lists I feel like making.
Another great month for comics, as the top 20 sort of made itself and left over a dozen worthy contenders out. Those included the latest issues of Annihilation: Conquest Wraith and Quasar, the second Johnny Hiro, the latest Fables, X-Men First Class, Iron Fist (and its annual), The Order, Usagi Yojimbo, Highwaymen, Green Arrow Year One and World War Hulk (all favorite series by the way), not to mention promising newcomers like the second issue of Brit and the JLA Wedding Special and Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1. There were five strong debuts that made the top 20, though, although sadly all of them are relatively short limited series, so no breakout new ongoing hit. DC made the chart with four books... two Vertigo, and two set in the DC Universes I miss, one the late '80s (Suicide Squad) and another the late '90s (Hitman). Marvel ranked higher with six books, although it's notable that five of those are set in their current continuity (whereas I generally won't touch DC's current continuity with a 10-foot pole), although only one (Criminal) is a non-superhero book Dark Horse made a good showing with four of their own, including the best issues of Buffy and Fear Agent yet, a promising debut in Umbrella Academy and another solid issue of BPRD. Image also did well with three: True Story Swear to God, Walking Dead and Dynamo 5. IDW has 30 Days of Night: Red Snow, Boom! has Potter's Field. I don't know if the lack of any true indy/self-published books is a reflection of my taste or the brutal marginalization going on for those guys in the current market. I tend to think the latter, but then, I would, wouldn't I?
As with last month, my graphic novel reading was severely curtailed by reading actual books. I finished The Subtle Knife and started The Amber Spyglass, and still have Patriot Acts, Gates of Fire and a horror novella lent to me by my friend Nate Southard on the night table. I also diverted from my regular reading to re-read Hitman #1-60, and I can't say as I regret it. It's reminded me that the series is just as good in reality as it is in my memory. At any rate, as a result my Graphic Novels of the month are merely eight, and a couple of those (Essential Punisher, Thunderbolts) are on there because I've already read some or all of the contents, not because I've had a chance to do much more than skim the new collected versions.
Besides reading actual books and '90s comics, what have I been up to? Well, I'd been considering switching from HBO to Showtime, and when Tell Me You Love Me was dead boring, and the first episode of Dexter on DVD was jaw-dropping amazing, that pretty much did it. So I've been catching the first season of Dexter (finished the last episode on Wednesday night) in order to be ready for the season opener on the 30th. I finished up watching The 4400 (was the show always this bad? I'm interested in the plot, but the writing... wow... yikes) and Burn Notice (most fun new show in quite a while, can't wait to see it again next summer). I watched the first two episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm before dropping HBO, but I don't really think that means it can make the cut. I have put Weeds on regular rotation, though, and might do the same with both Californication and Brotherhood once I get caught up on the latter and watch the DVDs of the former. I also finally watched the DVDs of Friday Night Lights, which is every bit as good as the critics say it is. I watched one disc, put it back into the mail to Netflix and immediately bought the season on DVD so I wouldn't have to wait for the rest to arrive. Next up on DVD, season one of Brotherhood so I can see if Showtime actually has three shows on that I want to watch.
Then there were the starts of the new Fall season, which I've been blogging here. Nothing has blown me away yet, although Reaper is a hell of a lot of fun based on the pilot. Chuck is on thin ice, but I hear it gets better. Heroes is on thin ice, but it started weak last year too. How I Met Your Mother returns in fine form. I am kind of shocked that: A) NBC has such a hold on my TV viewing habits and B) Sitcoms make up almost 50% of my top 10 viewing. The Office and My Name is Earl both opened pretty strong (the former more than the latter, I could give up Earl if I needed the time but I love The Office), and I'm very much looking forward to the season openers of 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights later this week. I'm also enjoying the (finally!) returning It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, although F/X's annoying scheduling, so that it starts about 5 minutes after when it says it starts and ends about 5-7 minutes later, is really messing with my Tivo scheduling. I think conventional wisdom at the networks is that this will get people to watch the show live (with commercials) instead. In fact, it will get me to decide to wait for DVD or not hassle with the show at all.
Not as many new sites this month as last, but there are some good ones. Alan Sepinwall is currently duplicating his daily TV content on his personal blog, but just in case that doesn't continue, I've added his new TV blog from NJ.com, AllTV, to the feeds. I also added new feeds for Boing Boing Gadgets, blogs for Tom Beland and Scott Chantler and the webcomic XKCD.