Sean Maher's Quality Control

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Job

Shit, turns out I have a lot more to do today than I thought.

So, head on over to the MillarWorld thread on the AiT-free-Continuity-PDF thing for some ranting I did last night.

Besides, all the most exciting stuff I've got on my mind, I'm not allowed to talk about yet. I'm barely holding the crap in my pants after all the news I've gotten this week from Ed Brubaker, Jason Rodriguez and Josh Fialkov (all with their own insanely cool shit going on), but I'm just not allowed to share yet.

I'll see what I can talk 'em into next week.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Invincible #30 and previews aplenty

Invincible #30 came out yesterday, reminding me that - while I don't wanna go getting spoiled - it's real nice sometimes to get a big steaming dose of Exactly What I Wanted.

Mark back on Earth, bringing back some of the consequences of his Space Trip with Dad, goes from page to page and character to character, catching up and reminding us of all those cool sub-plots Kirkman had going on before the entire book launched itself into the far reaches of space.

It's back on solid home turf now, in the figurative and literal senses.

My favorite moments, though, are those that indicate a change in direction for these familiar character threads. Mark's mother gets a shot at turning things around, and the panel that finally seems to convince her is drawn absolutely expertly by Ryan Ottley, conveying humor and innocence and intelligence... just really jam-packing a lot of character into a wordless mini-scene.

I also really enjoyed Mark's reunion with Cecil, Kirkman's take on the classic Nick Fury trope. Mark's really been through the wringer over the last few issues, and he seems to have grown into a more secure and adult character as a result. Both characters are really well explored and sound very much "like themselves", if that makes sense. Kirkman's dialogue has come miles and miles since the early issues of this book.

(I did notice, in tracking down the cover image, that this was originally solicited for December. Would it not make a bit of sense, maybe, to stop soliciting issues until you catch up, so retailers don't get mad at you for being late? I mean, I don't give a shit - good comics is good comics, and Invincible comes out often enough to keep me happy - but it seems like the kind of thing that would frustrate Brian Hibbs, doesn't it?)

((Oh, and The Walking Dead looks like it's really getting fun again, too.))


I first took notice of Dan Slott's upcoming Big Max book back in January - again, upon the solicitation - and now it's on it's way, complete with a preview of the first six pages (and some character roughs and rejected covers) at IGN.

(Of course, there are also some great pages up from the original CBR article, too.)

Frankly, I think Dan Slott writing a big gorilla super-hero who fights a super-powered street mime sounds really goddamned appealing.

This comes out April 5th (next Wednesday) and I'll be first in line.


Brian Wood does an interview on Newsarama for DMZ, which is shaping up - I think - to be his best work.

The book manages a sort of balance, see, between Angry Brian (Channel Zero), fun-loving Brian (Couriers), and Sensitive Brian (Demo). Whenever each one of those sides has been dominant in his work, I've found that Wood's grasp sometimes exceeds his reach, and the sentimentality or revolutionism gets kinda overdone and goofy. Here, each of these elements is keeping the others in check and the book is a refreshing, colorful read as a result.

In addition to which, Riccardo Burchielli is an incredible artist, easily Wood's best collaborator aside from perhaps Becky Cloonan. I mean, just look at some of these fuckin' pages (more, and larger, at the link):

It's looking like the upcoming issue #6 is a good jump-on point - and will be caught up to by the upcoming ten dollar trade (which collects the first five issues) - so I'd advise anyone curious to take a look right soon. The iron is hot.


The Michael Alan Nelson story from Zombie Tales: The Dead, that I reviewed on Tuesday? The whole thing is on Newsarama.


James Sime continues to take the initiative and explore every book in Previews that grabs his attention. 'Cause if you have the resources, why just wait for the thing to come out?

Latest in his series of awesome (and really long) comics previews is Image Comics' The Red Diaries, by Gary Reed, Chris Jones & Larry Shuput - none of whom I know.

But I know 'em all, seventeen Marilyn Monroing Conspiricying Fidel Castroing pages' worth, on account of this page, right here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Toupydoops #1 and other developments

Toupydoops #1 is a book I've been waiting for since... let's see, some quick backlogging... January, when it was solicited. Creator Kevin McShane pointed me to an eight page preview, which I promptly read, whereupon I quickly pre-ordered the book.

I described the concept at the time like this: The concept here, see, is that Hollywood is the playground of the comic book industry. People don't want to be in Steven Spielberg movies; they want to be in Superman comics.

And upon reading, I see I had that just about right. Our titular hero, a charming doofus with antennae coming out of his head, is auditioning for a role as the new Superman villain, so he packs up hearth and home and moves to Hollywood.

Basically, the book delivers on everything I imagined it should. The wide array of characters introduced here is funny and interesting, playing on familiar tropes with new executions. As I expected, McShane continues to use each page as a distinct scene with its own beats and message, so the book feels like a thick read. At the same time, each of these beats does move the reader further into the developing story, without feeling jerky or formulaic.

A whole story gets told in this first issue, and it opens the series up nicely for future exploration. It's a well-crafted, funny and charismatic launch, and I'll be looking forward to future issues.

Oh, and it's not a super-hero parody. Thank Christ for that.


In further evidence that he's been drinking too much (as if the puddles and stains weren't enough), Larry Young releases the entirety of AiT's upcoming Continuity graphic novel in a free, online PDF for all to see.

I've got mine.

(This'll make a nice bit of evidence for those of us who think, for example, that illegal music downloads are good for music sales, won't it? Cheers to Larry for putting his balls on the chopping block to prove a point. It's about time somebody did.)


New Comics Day! Here's what I'm planning to pick up, from my post on the MillarWorld shopping list thread:

All Star Superman #3 - been a really fun read so far.
Lucifer #72 - Jesus, I can't believe this awesome series is wrapping up. "I hate to see you leave, but I love to watch you go."

Hysteria One Man Gang #2 - Really enjoyed issue #1 a few weeks ago; my full review (with artwork) is here. Fun, insane comics that would probably appeal to all you "fight comics" folks, to borrow Ellis' phrase.

Invincible #30 and Walking Dead #27 - Both books seem to have picked up a second wind lately after slow patches. Looking forward.

Books Of Doom #5 - Brubaker goodness. Not enjoying this as much as his Daredevil (which is among my favorite titles at the moment), but still really solid characterization.

Daredevil Vol 13 The Murdock Papers TP - Catching up on the lead-in the the Brubaker run, where I've picked the book back up.

Thing #5 - Another of my favorites. Issue #4 was the best yet, so I've got a feeling Slott's on a roll.

Surrogates #5 - Been following this for a while; one of the only books Top Shelf publishes in serial form, eh? Cool world-building based on an alternate history where surrogate bodies have replaced the act of leaving your home.

Or Else #4 - Curious to read this after seeing Graeme McMillan rave about the writert/artist's other work. I'll take a look.

Sea Of Red Vol 2 No Quarter TP and Strange Girl #7 - on the fence with these. I think the Sea of Red trade is the one with Paul Harmon artwork, so I'll likely check it out. But I'm getting all my best Rick Remender love from Fear Agent, which I think has really picked up in the latest issue.

Essential Arsenic Lullaby Vol 2 Donut Cometh TP - Very happy to see this one! I've got volume 1 and discussed it for my very first Quality Control review way back in July. Hysterical stuff, really, but you need a really filthy sense of humor.

And of course, there's Boom Studios' Zombie Tales: The Dead #1, which I reviewed yesterday.


A voicemail reminder that, thank Christ, I'm not grown up just yet:

"I love you, bitch. Sean, I'm gonna treat your mouth like a butthole... bitch. Okay. I'm pretty wasted right now, so I love you guys. And that's the truth. I love you. *click*"


The latest development in Kirkman's hand-over-foot takeover of Marvel Comics: Marvel Zombies #1 goes back for a fourth printing, with the alternate cover I've been waiting for (finally!):

That's some nice Hulk love, right there. Shit, I'd buy that poster.


The latest cool-series-publisher-switch-up - why does that seem to be happening so much lately? - has Arvid Nelson's Rex Mundi moving from Image to Dark Horse. I've been enjoying the series thoroughly since jumping on board: I was waiting on trade collections until Small Gods artist Juan Ferreyra took up the book, and promptly signed up to support who I think is a major upcoming artist.

This sounds like good news to me - comes complete with a movie deal that should keep some monetary pressures aleviated for a while - and Dark Horse editor Scott Allie sounds really passionate about the book. So the creators can refocus on just producing the work while Dark Horse takes care of the business end? Sounds pretty goddamn sweet.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Zombie Tales: The Dead and plenty more

Didja know I'm at 168 posts? Jesus... I totally missed my "anniversary" at 100... well, no time for sentimentality, let's just get this going.


We've all been keeping an eye on Boom! Studios over the last several months, yes? I reviewed one of their first books, Zombie Tales #1, back in June of last year.

Tomorrow brings the latest installment in this unusually solid anthology, Zombie Tales: The Dead #1, and I've had the good luck to get an advance copy to check out.

Like the first one, this book features sweet Dave Johnson cover art, a perfect-bound spine, and a swell line-up including some well-established talent (Kieth Giffen, Ron Lim), but this time out the focus is more and more on those creators that, largely through their work with Boom!, are becoming established.

Michael Alan Nelson, for example, is quickly becoming a "name" writer for me. His story in the first Zombie Tales was a highlight of the book, and I thought the first issue of his recently launched War of the Worlds: Second Wave was excellent. His story, "The Miracle of Bethany", opens this volume, with a really fun and intriguing take on the "original zombie" concept. It's more an idea than a story, but in this setting that works.

Giffen and Lim's "Deadest Meat" is a more satisfying collaboration for me than their work in the first Zombie Tales. Giffen plays with the narration, which is first-person in the voice of a zombie whose brain is quickly decaying. It's a concept that got me interested in Speakeasy's The Hunger, though I never got to check out that series (the creators promise an upcoming trade collection that I will surely buy), and it's a lot of fun here. Ron Lim's gorgeous lines take on a somewhat more painted look with the able coloring work of "Rans of Imaginary Friends", whose hand is in most of the stories in this collection. I wish the fucker would just use his (her?) name instead of doing the Madonna, but good work is good work. He brings a different tone to each of the stories, which is a nice testament to his talent in a thematically consistent book like this one.

Johanna Stokes grabs my attention as a writer with "Zoombies", which drops us into the middle of the story of zoo animals collaborating to escape the coming zombie onslaught and puts them through their tragic paces. Each of the animals is given strong characterization in a very short span of time, especially the elephants and the lions. My favorite line of dialogue: "When you know better, you do better." It's all drawn with a soft-spoken gusto and personality by Cynthia Martin, and colored by Pamela (Preacher) Rambo, and the team gives a nice vibe to the whole scene.

I was intrigued by writer Jim Pascoe's concept for the story "A Game Called Zombie", but the last few pages left me confused. Could have something to do with the artwork by Don Simpson and Chris Moreno, could be the scripting - I really can't tell. But something felt unclear.

"Four out of Five" by writer John Rogers and artist Ed Tadem runs about three pages too long, but takes a fun look at the zombie concept and has a pretty funny punchline.

Andrew Cosby (whose Damn Nation mini from Dark Horse I really dug last year) brings his "I, Zombie" three-parter to a close here, with artwork from Fabio Moon, who grabbed us all by the balls with his work on Smoke and Guns. Seeing his work in color here is another revelation, and he seems to be improving with every page. I'm startled by what a talent this fellow seems to be, and the action shining off the pages here is really impressive. I'm missing part of the story, having not read the second installment, but it doesn't really hurt anything. This is about atmosphere, action, and a little grossout humor, and it brings all those things.

Enjoyed this thoroughly, I did. I'll be looking to track down the second Zombie Tales book, Oblivion, to complete the set.


I was surprised. After reading the Annihilation: Prologue, which leads into Marvel's four upcoming four-issue mini-series (which then tie back into a single six-issue mini), that I was now most interested not in the Silver Surfer mini but the Nova one.

Marvel seems to've picked up the hint. There's a three page printed preview of the first Nova issue in Marvel Previews and now there are five pages up at CBR.

Hey, this whole thing could still turn out to be a screwjob, but it's been long enough that I'm happy to see Cosmic Marvel back for now.


It's not the kind of thing I'll be downloading, as I'm pretty much already sold on this book and I don't want to spoil too much for myself, but if you're on the fence about Matt Fraction's upcoming Five Fists of Science OGN, take a look at the 22-page preview PDF he's got on his site. The preview's in black-and-white to reduce the size of the file, but the printed product is full color and I've seen enough of it (thanks, Lar!) to tell you it's fucking awesome.


After my excited-with-qualification review of the Continuity preview last week, writer Jason McNamara dropped by to offer a response:

Thanks for the kind words for Continuity. You can rest easy knowing nobody holds their head and has meaningful drug induced visions in my book. They might destroy their home towns and kill their parents but I promise it's not in a meaningful way. I leave "meaningful" to the educational institutions and "drug induced visions" to pro's like Oliver Stone and Grant Morrison. My book will however kick you up a flight a stairs and put blood in your stool. In a good way.

I likes me the sound of that. Looking forward to picking this one up.


It's been a while since I dropped in on world-conqueror Rob Osborne (though I've discussed his work a number of times), but I see he's almost ready now to drop The Nearly Infamous Zango on us, in a website exclusive.

Homeboy's been working on this one for a while; I'll be psyched to check it out.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

He says parachutes are for girls.

Been an exciting weekend - my e-mail got gang-banged by a number of industry folks I'm really psyched to hear from - so I'm back now with full bore comics loving this week.

Last week? Well, everybody hits a few potholes in the road now and then, right? Don't worry about it.



I'm sick of it.

Look, I'm not saying patience isn't a virtue, but it's also a hair's breadth from sloth, that most uninteresting and vulgar of sins.

I can be a slothful guy. I don't like to clean up. I like to lay around on the couch with a beer when I get off work. I'll almost always take the hypotenuse route rather than going all the way around the corner.

But sometimes that ain't the thing to do or the way to do it, and it's important that I recognize when that is.

The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong.

You know the thing about waiting that's really burning my ass lately? The expectation that, if you wait long enough, somebody else will do it.

There's little in this life that is wise to expect from others. You've gotta take repsonsibility for your own shit, and everything is your own shit.

Take the Elk's Run guys. You might expect them to chill out on making the book until they announce a new publishing plan, right? You might think Speakeasy shitting its guts out all over the floor might throw a little halt into their game. You're dead fuckin' wrong. Josh Fialkov stood up right in the crowd, as I cheered him for at the time, and now we have a "production update" from editor Jason Rodriguez, who tells us "[artist Noel Tuazon] is finishing issue 8 right now, [colorist Scott] Keating’s coloring 7, Jaco should be finished lettering 6 tonight... and [Jason himself] sent off the lettering script for 7 tonight."

See, that's how to do it. You don't wait for your ship to come in. You build the damn ship yourself.

If you build it, they will come, as the feller says.

'Course, that's not always enough. As Hibbs pointed out last week, indie comics have to tow their own line and that means taking on the full gamut of publishing. This sparked what had promise to be an interesting conversation at MillarWorld, though that quickly devolved into self-pitying defeatism and jizz humor.

But that's a bit beside my point. I'm talking about waiting. About letting others pick up the slack for you. This applies to a wide variety of comics folk out there.

Then there are readers who wait for their shops to take care of them. "I went in the store and it wasn't there!" The Usual Response: "Oh, man, you must go to one of those shitty comics shops!" No, fuck that on both ends. You find out about a book you like, or you want to check out? Tell your retailer. Sure, I'm lucky - I live in a city with more great comics shops than I can handle, and at least two of them are aggressively ordering books from off the beaten path, books they think I might dig and would otherwise have missed. But even those guys have budgets to deal with when they order, and they can't read my mind. I'm in regular e-mail contact with my LCS whenever I find out about a project I don't want to miss. I'm taking the initiative. That's the only way to guarantee I'll get what I want, and I might just do some good for some other folks along the way.

See, you've gotta do this stuff yourself. Like Brian Ewing. Realizes the sales for Dan Slott's excellent The Thing series should be higher, starts a thread to tell everybody about it and even makes a new signature image to go with it. You don't wait for someone else to say it and then chime in with a "Yeah, me too!" You do this shit.

Then there's guys like me. I'm off and running, on this blog every day telling everyone I can about what's got me excited. Spreading the good word, shouting it from the mountain tops. Asking about that upcoming crime series from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips I'm so psyched for. Reviewing the books I don't see folks talking about because they might be a more challenging review than the new, reliably crappy X-Men or the almost unbearably reliable (and excellent) Fables. I'm tracking down previews of cool new projects, linking thither and yon, interviewing cool people when I can, and generally trying to be the most positive force I'm able to be in the comics community.

So what's my problem? I'm not just here to wag fingers at everyone, am I? I mean, if so, what an asshole. Who the hell do I think I am?

Well, I'll tell y'all a secret. Stop me if you've heard this one.

I want to be a writer.

No, I know I'm writing right now, that's not what I meant. I want to have a book out there with my name on it. I want to conquer project after project, digging in with an unsatiable appetite and just churning out the best shit anybody ever read.

But I'm not yet. And I won't allow myself to whine to you about it, because Jesus, if there's anybody on the earth I'm tired of hearing from and about, it's whining artists. I'm not sad for myself and I'm not trying to pitch you anything. My point is this:

I haven't written anything.

I'm waiting. Why? I don't know. God knows the opportunities are there. I'm working on just blasting through that wall. I'm trying to change. But it can be grueling, I know. Just like it's grueling to make comics with no guarantee they'll sell. Just like it's a pain in the ass to be sending your local retailer a message every time you want to buy a comic.

But it's gotta be done. The longer we wait, the older we get, and the proverb that with age comes wisdom is a misnomer: it's not age at all, but experience that makes us wise.

So do something.


After all, as another feller said,

it's simple: they just don't want
to do it,
or they can't do it,
otherwise they're feel a burning
itch from hell
they could not ignore
and "soon"
would turn quickly into


Wheew. Sorry for the rant. Had a bit of sand in my vagina, but it's all better now.

I've got a lot of great stuff to talk about this week, so keep your eyes peeled. It was a great weekend for me, complete with a day off from work (!!!), and I'm looking to really bring it out over the next few days.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The calm before the storm

I've only got about ten minutes here at the library internet terminal before I have to go - I've got a bit of a second wind, today, though, and I'm looking forward to bringing back the full-tilt Quality Control enthusiasm machine either tonight or tomorrow.

I wanna say a couple things real quick.

Brubaker's Daredevil continues to be amazing. I'm hugely excited with where this is going, and the pacing continues to bring back that incredible feeling the best issues of Sleeper gave me, back in the day.

Toupydoops #1 is out this week, and it's really funny and clever. Expect a full review coming up.

Supergirl's appearance as co-title of Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes looks like it might be fun. I'm glad to have Mark Waid back on scripts - last issue was a fill-in writer, and I didn't like it much - and Barry Kitson's back on pencils. Happy days.

Yeah, the short entries continue - but today it's just out of necessity. I'm back on the track now, I think, and looking forward to fucking you people up with some more next week.

And tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Coming clean

Blog's been a little light this week, yeah?

Few reasons.

One: Just not feelin' it. Sometimes the hype of everything just sorta wears me out and I've got to get more into my own, flesh-and-bone, non-internet thing for a minute. I'll rejuvenate, sure, but there's an ebb and flow to this sort of thing, at least for me.

Two: I'm trying to write something else. A couple somethings else. Splits one's focus a bit, doing that. Some guys - pros, all - are really good at it. I've still gotta learn.


Oh, fuck yeah. We went last night. I hope I can make it again... Nothing quite like seeing two guys pound the shit out of each other with some skill, some finesse, and some guts.

You guys gotta get out there and check this shit out. What a night!

So, yeah: I'm working on it. Right now, I wanna just get out there and buy my damned comics!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lay down your weary tune

Hmm. Sometimes it's hard to muster the bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked Quality Control vibe. I'm fuckin' beat. So today I direct you to Jason Rodgriguez for his cool Brownsville promotion (deadline this Friday), James Sime for his trifecta of cool comics previews, and these cute little buggers:

Ah, now I feel better.

Monday, March 20, 2006

WWLA Excitement Abounds!

All right, Wizard World L.A., what have you got to say for yourself?

Matt Fraction proves he's got giant testicles by writing a new Punisher series to run concurently with Ennis' book and nestle itself more in the Marvel universe. People on the internet argue about whether it will be good.

Marvel tries to kick both properties in the ass a bit by announcing a crossover between Squadron Supreme and the Ultimate universe. People on the internet argue about whether it will be good.

A new Garth Ennis project is announced that, it seems, will run 60 issues and be about how super-heroes suck.


The whole thing left me a bit dry in the pants, except for the Robert Kirkman / Phil Hester Ant Man book. I'll check that one out for sure; I like the tone they seem to be shooting for.

Friday, March 17, 2006


...I haven't thrown up that much in years.

Food poisoning. Just in time for Saint Paddy's.



Annihilation Prologue, hmm? Well, the reveal at the end is a bit promising; I'm kinda psyched to see how Thanos' role in the whole thing changes as a result.

Scott Kolins is a fine, fine artist, rising fast in my book. The whole attack on the Nova Corps was just gorgeous.

...and somehow, the only one of the four Annihilation minis I'm really interested in now is Nova. Funny, how things change around like that. is this out in time for retailers to adjust their orders?


Also worth pointing out a particularly interesting Tilting At Windmills column from the good Mr. Brian Hibbs today.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I live by two words: "Fuck you! Pay me!"

Hmm. Is there a story here?

My regular cab driver is named Bill. I always call him when I need a lift because he knows the fastest way to get anywhere and he's always good company. He came to San Francisco from China about thirty years ago, and he told me the other day that when he graduated from Galileo High School, he got a job as a bellhop.

On the exact same ocean liner that brought him to the United States.

...hmm. Something about that just seems really cool to me. Maybe it's the context I have of knowing the guy... maybe it's just kind of a loaded idea.

Just rolling it around in my head.


Ah, good news:

... and yes Mister Maher, California does indeed look like it's going to have an excellent showing this year!

My luck, though, it'll go to one of those asswipes from Los Angeles.


Hmm. Listening now to the first Kanye West album, The College Dropout. Finally got convinced to pick it up by his performance of "Two Words" with Mos Def on the Chapelle Show. I'm liking it. Nice underground hip hop vibe with catchier beats and a slightly more mainstream style of rhyming...


Heh, I was so busy posting this week I forgot to talk about the June solicits from Marvel, DC and Image.

The book I'm most excited about is, well, Lucifer #75. This has been among my two or three favorite books for years now, and seeing the series come to and end is kind of an emotional experience. Other epics I've followed - Preacher, Planetary, Stray Bullets, and so on - I've picked up when they were all in trades or at least a few years into their publication. But I've been reading Lucifer since issue #14, which my buddy Frank at Danger Room Comics in Olympia gave to me for free. "I think you might dig this," he said with a smile, a smile that got wider and wider over the following months as I got more and more enthusiastic about the book's development. I was hooked from that first dose, but the series developed into something far more accomplished and significant than I'd have predicted. This is the latest of the true Vertigo classics, a small handful of landmark comics, and I'm more excited than I can even say to see how it'll all come down.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I'll shoot the moon right out of the sky

You know, I knew there was something I liked about American Virgin #1... I didn't really have the same read as Mark Fossen - though his criticism of modern-day Vertigo is spot-on for me, I didn't really see it as a redeeming feature that in this book "stereotyping is spread to all sides of the compass - there are right-wing money-grubbing religious hucksters, but it's balanced by the idiotic stoner youth."

Nah, that doesn't do it for me. Stereotyping both sides of an argument and situation I don't care about really just leaves me less interested. But there's something going on here.

Leave it to Jason Rodriguez to bring it home for me when all seems lost. I'm not gonna pull-quote him, just read the whole thing. That's a brilliant man, over there. Or, at least one who might be stupid in a similar way to me.


Those 25 pages of Continuity I linked to yesterday? Pretty wild. The lucidity of McNamara's writing and Tony Talbert's layouts and inking have made a lot of progress since Less Than Hero, which often struck me as a bit too obscure - it's good to know that they're tempering the mind-trip aspect of the new book's premise with a more accessible storytelling style.

The opening scene presented here, as might be expected, doesn't really give away much about the book that I didn't already know from the book's description, so I'm still on the excited-but-slightly-skeptical side. The premise is dead awesome: a mind fuck with sewn-in themes of personal responsibility, self awareness and the dangers of getting what you wish for, in the vein of swell stories like the movie Memento or some of the better John Constantine adventures.

I just hope the "pill-addled" element of the book doesn't become too dominant, as often happens in stories with drug themes. The whole affair, when this sort of influence comes into play, seems more-often-than-not to devolve into characters grabbing the sides of their heads and rolling around seeing things. The story gets lost in the indulgence of the hallucination, and the writer expects this to be meaningful along the same lines as a strange dream is meaningful.

This has the potential to be a much richer and complex story than that - I hope they know it. There's nothing in the preview to suggest they don't.


I've tried e-mailing him, I've tried posting silly pictures, but nothing seems to work. Poor bastard must be in trouble. I better pick up the Graeme-a-phone.

If nothing else, to console him over the results of his brilliant effort to kick DC in its web-ass.


You know what kicks ass? Being quoted and talked about by other websites and publications. I found my name and a pull-quote printed on the back of Children of the Grave #4 last year and loved it. Then I had an interview published in the back of Elk's Run #3, which was a total mind-blow on account of that being, like, the best new book that got published last year.

Then just lately, I discovered that Miriam Libicki of jobnik! fame has me quoted at the very top of her Press section.

Which, of course, is a reminder that I need to talk about the fourth issue of jobnik!, which continues to impress and disturb me in varying measures.

Say, Miriam - are you gonna be at APE this year?


Oh, and you know what kicks ass? Live heavy metal albums, when they don't suck. Sepultura's Under A Pale Grey Sky - which documents the last live show the band performed with heart-and-soul Max Cavalera, shortly after the death of his son - is an exciting and visceral example.

I've been rocking out to this thing for three days now and haven't slept. The performance of the tribal number "Kaiowas" in particular is just unbelievably intense and driven, combining that rare one-two punch Rick Rubin described in session with Slayer long ago, saying "The perfect take is the one that feels like it's going to fall apart, but never does." Fury and focus.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Stick and move, stick and move

What kind of Quality Controller would I be if I found this photo of notorious comics blogger McMillan the Villain and didn't share? Beware this cagey and vicious gentleman of the night...


Zilla beats me to the punch again with his review of Invincible #29, which did indeed kick fucking ass. Lots of drama in Kirkman's writing, but the show belongs to Ryan Ottley and Bill Crabtree, I gotta say. It's an intense extrrrrrravaganza, yes it is, and I'm hopeful that the story will return to Mark's life on Earth and all the cool subplots that have been building up over the last year or so. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed seeing Nolan in action again, but I miss the cast Kirkman's spent so much time developing.


The Isotope Communique has a 25-page preview of AiT's upcoming Continuity, for those of you who may be having a slow comics week this Wednesday. Plenty of reading there... I'm off to check it out.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I tell you all my secrets, but I lie about my past...

Say, that's funny. I often used to check in on Hannibal Tatu's "The Buy Pile" comics review site, back when I had my old computer. I didn't often have too much in common with his taste, but there was a succinctness to his writing and a clarity to his enjoyment of (or distaste for) comics that I really groove on, much like the good folks at The Savage Critic(s).

But when I got my new computer for Christmas, I didn't transfer my bookmarks over or anything like that, and I somehow totally forgot about poor aul Hannibal. But here he is, popping right back up in my life by moving his column to CBR!

Welcome back, Hannibal. I missed ya.



Providence, 1921:
While playing in the backyard, John B., 3, wrapped one end of a cord around the neck of a 3-year old girl and the other around a grindstone handle. He then turned the handle until the little girl was throttled to death. He later explained his actions to the police in a childish lisp: "I don't like her anymore."


Holstein, Iowa 1930:
14-year old Lester Mohr had spent a pleasant afternoon drinking illicit beer. But he'd barely set foot in the house when his mother wrecked his buzz by getting on his case about some work he was supposed to do around the place. Lester responded to this abuse by clobbering her with a few bricks. He then dragged her into the house and shot her with a rifle and, for good measure, a shotgun. He later claimed it must have been robbers; he'd been working at a neighbor's spread all afternoon. He was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Thanks to John Marr for putting out Murder Can Be Fun, a zine of sorts I picked up at APE last year and just finally dug out and started reading this morning. The above excerpts are from issue #17, "Naughty Children".


Hey, more good news!

Blair points out this week that Tom Beland is bringing True Story Swear To God to Image Comics in August. According to Beland, the plan is to try and go monthly on the book now that he can concentrate on just writing and drawing the damn thing rather than sweating over production and printing and distribution and all that other godawful crap self-publishers have to deal with.

I'm a big fan of this series, though I've been following it in trades (and reviewed the second volume here). Is this time to jump on the serial bandwagon? I hope to hear more news from Beland over the coming weeks to convince me one way or the other.


Lots of cool books coming out this week. I seem to be having a good run of it lately; let's hope it keeps up.

DMZ #5 launches a new story arc on the heels of what I think was the best issue of the book yet, so I'm hopeful for this one. EDIT: A note from Brian Wood in the comments section today reminds me that, in fact, "the new DMZ arc begins with issue #6. #5 coming out this week is a stand-alone story that also sets up a few things for the future."

The Atheist #3 is the long-awaited return of Phil Hester's Ellisesque supernatural detective story, and as huge a fan as I am of Hester's writing I'm probably most excited about this one this week, despite such reliably heavy hitters as:

Walking Dead #26, which is the second part of this "Everything Changes" arc Kirkman's been teasing us all with.

Annihilation Prologue is a big one, prefacing four six-issue miniseries (each focusing on one of four key players) that will lead into a Big Honkin' six-issue miniseries that will change the landscape of the galactic Marvel universe forever. Yeah, I'm skeptical, but I'm still kinda hopeful and excited. Fingers crossed...

Conan #26 winds down the final issues of Kurt Busiek's run, just as Conan: Book Of Thoth #1 winds it back up (at five bucks an issue, though? I missed or forgot that somehow)...

Then there are a few trades I'm waffling on. I remember reading in a couple issues of Bipolar the short installments that will make up Alternative Comics' Pizzeria Kamikaze TP and enjoying them, but I'll have to give things a second look before I commit. I also remember the creators of the Tales Of Colossus GN hand-selling some copies of the book to the Isotope prior to the announcement that they'd signed with Image and were getting Diamond distribution. James picked up some copies and they looked pretty damn good... wonder if those self-published editions are worth some extra cash now. Anyway, that'll be worth a second look, certainly.

And it'll probably depend on my response to Giffen's work on the Annihilation Prologue whether or not I pick up his Drax The Destroyer: Earth Fall TP, as the two are surely related, if only by a little bit.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Hysteria: One Man Gang #1

I was really, really nervous about Hysteria: One Man Gang #1. It's a project long in the making for creator Mike Hawthorne, whose work I've been pimping out left and right since he caught my eye in Queen & Country. I love the guy's style, and it's been clear to me in Mike's e-mails that this is that project that comes right out of the artist's guts, a baby to be loved unconditionally and fought for at every turn.

So, that all sounds pretty fucking rad, eh? Then I saw a cover image with what looked like a guy with parody Wolverine claws that were dinner forks instead of blades, and for some stupid reason, I kinda freaked.

Good thing I got over that, though, because this is awesome. It's basically an extended fight scene, very slight on dialogue, characterization, or explanation, but large on fun and inventiveness. The whole thing bleeds excitement, and a love for the comics form that's completely charming and engaging.

The style is kinetic and visceral, and Molly asked me last night why I'm always on about that in comics art. Well, what I like about it is the ability to immerse myself in the world of the story - I like being able to easily follow a sequence of action, using Scott McCloud's much exhorted "gutters" to join the artist in creating the story.

Remember when Frank Miller started drawing Daredevil fights such that you could actually see the choreography? This is a logical progression from that. Look at the page above (click for a larger image) - you can feel each twist and punch, all the momentum, the balance of each figure on the page.

Then there's stuff that's just plain funny, like this shit right here:

I wasn't totally sure about this one going in, but I had a blast reading this and the next three issues are on my pull list. If you're at all into Warren Ellis' "fight comics" concept, or Jackie Chan movies, you really should pick this up.

P.S. - Oh, and the Wolverine-parody-thing? I'm an idiot. It's a parody of the ninja weapon from which Wolverine's look was ripped off, long ago. Nothing to do with Wolverine at all.

P.P.S. - Sounds like Hawthorne's got a short story coming up in The Goon as well, which should be a nice kick in the ass for everyone.


Ah, from the announcement of the new Skyscrapers of the Midwest to the first eight page preview - this book is clearly close to James' heart.

Go and look, if you haven't sampled Josh Cotter's style yet. What's there seems to be eight random pages from the book, rather than an extended sequence, but that may actually give you a better idea of what the books read like...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Reaching out.

You know, I've gotten slightly insulated here at Quality Control. See those links on the right? I use about half of them. I don't know what it is... I'm kind of in control of my own hype more and more these days. I've learned to trust my instincts, and I've learned to explore the Diamond Previews catalogue like an ancient (dangerous) treasure cave. Newsarama, Comicon PULSE and CBR are all sites I used to hit every day - now it's closer to once a week.

So I miss things like Warren Ellis' new column for Comicon, "The Ministry". Where he complains about his health and discusses his writing process, it seems. Which smacks of the Bad Signal e-mails I used to enjoy so much. (I dropped myself from the list a while back after the deluge of e-mails about Warren's new cell phone.)

I also missed the new Mouse Guard preview that Newsarama put up. I'm not gonna read it - I'm already sold on this incredible fucking book and I'm kinda playing peek-a-boo until the next issue drops into my hands - but if you're still waffling, take a look. Really, you need to try this book. I'm not fucking around. Look.

I also missed out on the news that Neil Gaiman is involved in a film version of Charles Burns' Black Hole. Which sounds like a fair match, to me. I read the hardcover collection earlier this year and what really impressed me about the book was its unwillingness to meet my expectations. The slithering, snake-like evasiveness of its structure seems like just the sort of thing Gaiman would like and respect about it, so I'll look forward to a sound translation.

I've got a few bloggers I check in on pretty often, and my man Zilla is one of them. Zilla reminds me I'm off my game this week by reviewing Fear Agent #3, which really kicked me in the balls. Fear Agent has really grown into itself with this issue, and both Rick Remender and Tony Moore are bringing their best work now. Exciting, stupid fun, and top-notch in all regards. Good catch, Zilla.

Jen Contino reminds us that the Isotope mini-comic award submissions deadline looms, so as I said: let's bring it, California. Stop being such a bunch of hystrionic pussies. Put down the mirror and make some fucking comics.

Speaking of the Isotope, James recently helped announce the coming of Skyscrapers of the Midwest #3, which is awesome. The first two issues of Josh Cotter's excellent book both completely broke my heart, in that way that actually feels kinda good (no, I know that sounds gothy and gay as fuck, but seriously, it's great - I swear, you'll never see a Jhonen Vasquez review here at Quality Control). So I'm glad to hear I can expect more as "Love, broken toys, bloody noses, and giant robots abound in this new heart-breaking issue."

Great fucking news.

I also wanna thank Photobucket for cleaning up their shit. It's much easier for my sorry-ass dial-up using self to use now.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Hmm. Did a full re-read of Frank Miller's notorious Dark Knight Strikes Again books yesterday. I enjoyed it a lot more this time around, as I expected I might - it's the first time I think I've read 'em since they came out - but I started wondering something as I finished the read... what is it with The Great Comics Writers and psychedelia?

Frank Miller? Half of DKSA reads like it was written on acid.

Neil Gaiman? Leans more towards fantasy than psychedelia, but Neverwhere is a fucking trip and did anyone read the Despair story in Sandman: Endless Nights?

Grant Morrison? Don't get me started.

Peter Milligan?

Alan Moore?

So, what's the deal? Do these guys get "fed up" with more lucid storytelling? Makes you wonder if there's something about comics in particular that appeals to more unusual styles...


I've also been knee-deep in re-reading Mike Carey's runs on Hellblazer and Lucifer. And I swear, Carey is the single best writer of epic comics working today. I'm actually so excited about his work right now that I'm signing up for his runs on both X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four, whatever my reservations about super-hero books might be.


Larry called me a monkey and told me to review Sky Ape: King of Girls, so I'm gonna have to go ahead and ask:

Where the hell is the gorilla flying around with a jetpack? I mean, he's right there on the cover, and on the first page of the comic, but then he disappears until the pin-up art at the back!

"If the phrase 'gorilla with a jetpack' doesn't do it for you, I don't know what we gotta do." Right?

But that's not what's here! Mostly here are jokes about how comics nerds need to get laid, and some ideas for goofball superheroes - ideas that were explored more subtly in Larry's own Planet of the Capes and to stronger comedic effect in Hench (which remains my favorite AiT publication). There's a lot of attitude, but for the most part, as Smoke and Guns writer Kirsten Baldock is quoted on the back cover, "Sky Ape... escapes any attempt at explanation."

I thought the timing and phrasing here were funny at points. There's a Julia Roberts joke I actually haven't heard before - and a clever one at that. The homeless minotaur is pretty funny. I enjoyed the Brown Sommersault, whose "acrobatic ability is second to none... except for some circus acrobats!" And I learned some new vocabulary from The Deliquicing Man, though his name is misspelled according to, where I had to look it up. To deliquesce, you see, means to dissolve or melt away, or to become soft or liquid with age -- used of plant structures (as mushrooms). Actually, there were a number of words here I had to go and look up, which brought back memories of my early days reading comics, learning words nobody else in school knew - usually from Doctor Doom.

Sky Ape - if this is any indication - is probably not for me. But I can't help feeling something's missing in this installment... some ass-kicking gorilla jetpack action (perhaps with a cigar) would have been welcome. Perhaps the creators, having already put together three full-length Sky Ape stories prior to this one (as Josh Richardson's great ad in the back pages reminds us), decided to mix things up. Mix away, fellows, but just remember: you've got a gorilla with a jetpack as your main character. Use him. Both parts.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The ol' crystal ball...

New comics tomorrow, and a few things I'm excited about.

American Virgin #1 is the latest of a series of Vertigo launches, probably designed to flesh out the imprint as a few strong, long-running titles wind down to a close (Lucifer, The Losers, etc.). The premise doesn't really sound like my cup of tea, but Becky Cloonan's art is a can't-miss for me after her amazing work on last year's Demo mini-series.

Authority Revolution Book 2 TP closes out Ed Brubaker's run on the title, and I'm curious to see where he went with it.

Fables #47, presumably, continues the series' tradition of excellence.

Hard Time Season 2 #4 should be interesting, especially after the disturbing closing scene of last issue.

Fell #4 costs two bucks and it's done by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith. The math does itself.

Hysteria One Man Gang #1 is from an artist I really loved on his Queen & Country arc. I'm keeping my eye on Mr.

Invincible #29.... hell, I've been on a big fat Invincible kick lately. Just loving the book.

Retro Rocket #1, I would have forgotten if not for the first lady of MillarWorld, the brilliant Mo Rhyo. I've enjoyed writer Tony Bedard's work in the past (CrossGen's Negation was pretty good, actually) so I'll give this puppy a shot.

Socom SEAL Team Seven GN is kind of a maybe for me. The U.S. Navy vs. Atlantis sounds kinda cool, and the art looks spectacular, but I don't really have the military hard-on the writer has. I met him last year and he mentioned about eight thousand times that he'd been in the Marines, so I'm wondering if he and I aren't charmed by different muses.

AiT/PlanetLar's Sky Ape King Of Girls One Shot is on my couch right now - got mine a little early, ha ha ha haaa!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Review: War of the Worlds - Second Wave #1

Ah, the monthly sales figures from Diamond. The usual round of "Hey, how come nobody else buys my favorite book(s)?" The unstoppable entropy of the direct market continues its inexorable promenade of peril.

But wait! What's that? It's another Robert Kirkman book actually gaining readers as it goes on!

Somebody's gotta figure out how to bottle whatever it is that guy does. Seriously.


Way back in December, I noticed the Boom! Studios solicitation for War of the Worlds: Second Wave #1.

Well, the issue came out last week and I made sure to pick it up. It's pretty damn good.

Writer Michael Alan Nelson brings a rapid-fire, feint-and-dodge style to the script beats, each page moving the story forward with a propulsive force that keeps the reader jumping from foot to foot - it's never so disorienting that we're unable to follow what's happening, but it does a great job of placing us in the characters' world, bringing the panic to us on a visceral level.

This sense of panic leads our lead character, Miles, to make a huge mistake that hits hard and leaves him a damaged hero at the issue's close. We can understand exactly why he makes the decision he does, even as the horrific consequences of his choice suddenly become clear. Comparisons are already being made between this series and Kirkman's The Walking Dead, and it's in this respect in particular that those comparisons are apt: our heros may be their own worst enemies. Just as TWD's Rick slowly crumbles underneath the pressures of his new life and the flaws in his approach to coping, Miles has been grievously harmed by a combination of the invasion disaster and his own instincts in response. The ground is layed, then for the character to face a number of challenging personal arcs, and I'm curious to see what advantage Nelson will take of this.

That said, there's plenty of aliens blowing shit up and looking crazy and being hit by tanks and all kinds of cool shit like that. I noticed artist Chee when he worked with Steve Niles on the recent Fused! Tales anthology. The kineticism of his style there is alive and well here, and his "direction" is great - the choice of shot angles and perspectives, and the use of empty space in some panels, really enhances the action sequences of the second half of the issue, bringing that visceral quality of the script onto the visual page.

I'm also impressed with Matt Webb's colors here, which strike an unusual middle ground between being clean and sharp and being grim and dark. The palettes he chooses are rich and satisfying, without overwhelming Chee's linework.

I've been enjoying Boom! books in general, but this is where I think they've really stepped up their game. If the book can maintain this kind of gravitas and momentum, it's gonna win a lot of fans, and quickly so. It's already on my pull list.

For those interested, there is an interview with Nelson at CBR here, and a six-page preview (with minor spoilers of the last half of the issue) on Newsarama here (the page above is taken [and shrunk] from said preview).

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Just dropping by to say, hey, I'm working for like twelve hours today and comics and blogging'll have to wait.

A little bacon, broccoli, toast and tea breakfast, however, would hit the spot nicely.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New Comics Day!

Short entry, today, because life is tragic. And, again, I won't be getting my new comics until fucking Friday (Saturday?) because of work! Aaaarrrgh!

But I think these quick things may be worth pointing out:

  • Infinite Crisis #5 is, startlingly, the only DC comic I'm buying this week. I find this surprising not only because I generally think (thought?) of DC as my preferred publisher, but because I generally don't give two shits about the DCU. I'm a big Vertigo and WildStorm guy, usually, but somehow I'm locked into this one.

  • Fear Agent #3 and Superpatriot: War On Terror #3 are my Image picks. Kirkman's Superpatriot book is, what, a year late? Should be interesting to see what's going on there - is this even the end of the series? Jesus Christ. Psyched also to see some more balls-to-the-wall sci-fi in Remender and Tony Moore's work on Fear Agent.

  • Marvel's pulling the hat trick with me this week, as I'll be picking up Books Of Doom #4, Punisher MAX #31, and X-Factor #4. I'm particularly excited about Punisher, having been totally blown away by the last arc.

  • Dark Horse's Hellboy: Makoma #2 should be a nice kick in the ass with that Richard Corben artwork.

  • Boom! Studios is bringing that War Of The Worlds: Second Wave #1 that I've been eyeballing - I'll be sure and grab one of these to see what's going on here.

  • I'm kinda waffling on Dynamite's Red Sonja series. Mike Carey's not even co-writer anymore, and he's the name that brought me to the book to begin with. I've got it pre-ordered, so I'll pick up #7 this week, but it's nearing my drop list.

  • Whoah, whoah, whoah. What the hell is Harris Comics' Vampirella Morrison & Millar Collection TP? Twenty-five bones is too rich for my blood this week, for reasons below, but I've really enjoyed the Millar/Morrison collaboration from what I've seen of it. This might be worth looking into...

  • Then there's my big ticket item this week, Neil Kleid's Brownsville HC from NBM. Kleid's one of those up-and-comers I like to think I was in with on the ground floor (or close to it, more likely - huge amounts of work go into that first time that you see somebody's comics) and I'm psyched to see such an ambitious project come to fruition. The preview I read looked pretty damn good, so I'm gonna pick this baby up for sure.

Enjoy your comics today, friends. I'll be boiling in jealousy over here.
FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from