The End is Really F$&*ing Nigh

The last great mainstream anti-hero gets sanitized for your protection…

Over the course of 20 some-odd years, you really get to know a man…even a fictional one. This February, Vertigo Comics puts out the flame that is Hellblazer. After 300 issues. After compelling and shocking stories. After dozens of the industry’s brightest minds and deftest hands. After watching John Constantine age, fall in an out of love, go to prison, go to an asylum, sacrifice his friends, and con his way in and out of Hell, it will be sad to watch him become another bland paper-thin hero in DC’s New 52. He was a magician whose name, in one series, scared the pants off of some of Hell’s most vile and yet the audience never saw the full extend of his magic. He was a rogue and a bastard and his will be missed.

Get your fill of back issues at Fantasy Zone Comics and check out their ebay store, too…

Panels and Troughs – November Previews

Publisher: IMAGE COMICS
(W/A/CA) Paul Pope
 ONE TRICK RIP-OFF/DEEP-CUTS is 288 pages of raw power, of which over 150 pages are comprised of new, rare, and never before seen stories created during POPE’s time traveling the world in the ’90s.

THE MASSIVE VOL. 1: BLACK PACIFIC TPB
In this first volume of Brian Wood’s new, sprawling postapocalyptic epic, follow the crew of the Kapital from the flooded remnants of Hong Kong to Unalaska, with stops in Antarctica and Mogadishu, as post-Crash ethics and economics are explored across a broken world. Collecting issues #1–#6 of the series, plus three eight page stories fromDark Horse Presents.

Hellblazer #299
DC can suck on rotten eggs. This was the last bastion of tough that the swill drinking company had in them…and it all ends at #300. In part 2 of “Death and Cigarettes,” it’s the funeral to end all funerals! Epiphany finds herself alone, in basic black, mourning the loss of her husband, urban occultist John Constantine.

Goths Rejoice! The Death statue from DC’s Cover Girl Series is here.

Legend of Luther Strode 2 of 6  Image Comics

Rebellion/2000AD went ‘sexy’ on the cover of the American Edition, but the stories are still way more psychedelic and violent than most other books out there…

Yeah, like you could possibly resist that awesomeness that is Frank Frazzetta’s Comet…Go ahead and try…I’ll wait.

Hate life? Despise intelligence? Think that a 4th grade reading level is something to envy…at 23? This is the book for you! Shame on you Paul Jenkins…I hope they drove a cement mixer out of cash to your house or got a relative out of a gulag for you.

Harlan Ellison is the only authority I recognize…

 

I also need to stop picking my comics two months in advance while under a few drinks in…

Angry Robot Books

The second book in the Collector series from Angery Robot books is coming out shortly. In anticipation, here are the covers in the series. It should be noted that Angry Robot puts out some great books and I would be more than happy to review some (hint hint).

These are my idea of covers that shine for their ability to pull in fans of pulp, choose your own adventure books, and the old Destroyer series. The protagonist reminds me of John Constantine so that doesn’t hurt.

Something Nice – Swamp Thing #1

The Cover to Swamp Thing 1 - DC relaunch

Swamp Thing #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Yanick Paquette

Frankly, I feel that this is one of the books that will not get the relaunch attention it deserves; despite a guest appearance from Superman. Not because it is a bad book (it’s not), but because Swamp Thing never really gets big love from the masses. It’s presumably hard work to write various sticky situations for an earth elemental and he’s not really as glamorous as any of the big three or their multiple spin-offs.

For those unfamiliar with the saga of the Swamp Thing, scientist Alec Holland, while working on a bio-syrup cure for deserts, is blown up by the secretive Mr. E who wants the formula. Alec’s corpse merges with the formula becomingSwamp Thing who in turn becomes a god in search of self and solitude. Suffice it to say, the book was creepy, dark, and, in more than once instance, nightmare inducing. From original scribe Len Wein to Alan Moore to the more recent relaunch with Swamp Thing’s daughter Tefe this series has always been worth the money. Hell, it even introduced my favorite character of all time – John Constantine (but more on that with Justice League Dark).

Scott Snyder’s (American Vampire) premiere issue does a fantastic job bridging the gap between the glitz of capes and the horror that is trademark of the series. The issue begins with the synchronized death of a majority of earth’s animal population and a powerless Alec searching for life amongst dead wood. Then Superman shows up. And here is where Snyder and Paquette pull a fantastic visual trick that slowly immerses the reader into the nightmare world of Swamp Thing. With the visit of Supes, the sun is shining and Paquette puts that big red cape in every panel. It’s bright, bold, and it’s a great juxtaposition for the reds in the latter half of the book.

Essentially, the writing and art are so strong that it scarcely needs half the dialogue it has. It reminds me of the Alan Moore days when panels would be left wordless so the reader could soak in the horror.

The only detriment to the book is my fear that it will get lost amongst the 51 other titles; many of which are only sub-par at best but have connections to bigger books. I can only hope that the roots of Swamp Thing are deep enough and strong enough to survive the initial harvesting.

Writing: 4/5 – If anything it suffers from too much dialogue. The moodiness and imagery is so strong that most long terms readers are used to having pages of wordlessness. I do understand the necessity though for those just hoping on. However, if you need to have read Brightest Day to suss out why Alec is powerless and alive, you most likely don’t need the exposition.

Art: 5/5 – The panel work here is completely worth gushing over. When the action is calm the actual panels are solid and stable, even appearing as branches. As the evil big bad looms over the story the panels themselves react by shivering and shaking. Since Swamp Thing is connected to the world it makes total sense that such great evil would even shake the roots of the book itself. Brilliant.

Story:  5/5 – This opening tale is strong. Real strong. Support it.

Total: 93.3 

Something Nice – Pros and Constantine

It was announced this weekend that John Constantine from Vertigo’s Hellblazer will make the move, in part, to the main DC universe. This may not mean much to you, but to me it sucks royally. I say this with full understanding that I promised to only post nice things on this page.

But seriously? What fan of Superman finds themselves thinking, as Hannah pointed out, “Gee, this book is great, but I wish it had a chain-smoking, magic wielding, con artist douche bag in it?” JC is a dark and frightening character who surrounds himself with pain and death. The driving force of the character is that everyone around him dies… horribly…usually mutilated by a demon who wears people’s faces and uses entrails as mittens.

I can only speculate that DC is making the move for one of several reasons:

1) To relaunch Swamp Thing and not have it suck

2) To sleep with Zatanna in the great Paul Dini series

3) To make him an animated, gum-chewing, smart-alec, Keanu Reeves animated Brave and Bold character

4) To piss off Allen Moore. Again.

5) To make a theme park ride at Universal

Make your own guess, but I am laying money on all five of mine.

 

PS – Here is an old interview with Jamie Delano

Something Nice – Boston Comic Con, Hellblazer, The Unwritten

Boston Comic Con is quickly approaching. This year boasts an amazing collection of my favorites artists and authors. If comics had a fantasy league this would be it for me.

The hardest part of the day will be deciding which hour long line to stand in.

Joe Kubert

Frank Quitely

Adam Hughes

Darwyn Cooke

Dave Johnson

Stan Sakai

Matt Wagner

Tony Harris

Liz Prince

…and no Rob Granito

–       With lack of proper volume numbering and issues runs, the lovely folks at DC have made a mess of collecting Hellblazer trade paper back form, but, if you are currently reading, you know it is at its absolute best (Written by PETER MILLIGAN ; Art by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI & STEFANO LANDINI ; Cover by SIMON BISLEY). Now he is married and thumbless, Milligan is running John through the ringer and bringing out the best in comic’s favorite anti-hero.

–       The Unwritten Vol. 3 came out last month, too. For more information about the plot, here is a link to my write up for it from Pop Tards Go!

Episode 4: Who Fears the Devil?

manlywade

Manly Wade Wellman is to those who recognize the name, a master of supernatural folk tales. Reading his short stories and novels brings to mind when my friends and I would tell ghost stories and drink cokes while sitting around campfires or just burning junk we found in the woods. To those who don’t know his name you are missing a folk tale specialist whose operating table is the romantic and fantastic stories of the American South. His writing is truly American.

I came to Wellman’s work through Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comic, but the character of Silver John most likely matches up with Hellblazer’s John Constantine. Silver John is a wandering musician without home or money. In each of the numerous stories he appears in he uses chicanery, quick whit, and slight of hand to defeat black magic and the occult. Silver John’s appeal is that Wellman never reveals the full extent of John’s powers. The reader remains in as much awe as the people John frees from the antagonistic forces of evil. Silver John is a good man cutting into the darkness of the unknown and the fist half of this podcast is dedicated to a land of deep forest, steep mountains, dirt-roads, bonfires, and guitar contests. Historically inaccurate and overly romantic; but that is the luxury of fiction.

The second half focuses on The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The War of the Worlds. This novel, co-written, with his son, merges the dramatic styles of Doyle and Wells so fluently that it needed the attention. That and there are some really fantastic songs about Sherlock Holmes that just couldn’t wait.

Manly Wade Wellman eBooks for free:
The Golgatha Dancers
The Devil’s Asteroid

So relax, brew some coffee, and crack open a book.
Rage Well,

Updates:
1. I strongly recommend, though I don’t mention it in the podcast, checking out these other great Podcasts:
Way Past Cool
You Got Good Taste
The Big Enchilada
Kicks from the Boot

2. Come back at the end of the month for Mary Shelley.

3. January 22, 2011 – In an effort to replace Valentine’s Day (which no one celebrates and everyone complains about), Bibliodiscoteque suggests Bibliophile Day! Take a book you love, wrap it in brown paper with twine, and mail it to friend (put a return address so the USPS doesn’t freak out). Choose one friend. This is about giving, so choose well and don’t be mad if you don’t get a book. If enough people do this the USPS benefits, book stores benefit, and your brain benefits …as does the writer.

Setlist: Episode 4 – Manly Wade Wellman

Goblins Are Go – Michael Futreal
I Put A Spell On You – Shane MacGowan & Friends
A Thing You Gotta Face – Polka Dot Slim
Broken Mouth Blues – Nic Armstrong
Day I Die – Bloodshot Bill
Aberdeen, Mississippi – John Schooley And His One Man Band
Root Hog Or Die – Micah Blue Smaldone
How’m I Doin’ – Mountain Man
Good Time Vandy’s Got The Blues – Midnight Evils
I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive – C.w. Stoneking
Back in Hell – Delaney Davidson
It’s all over but the cryin’ (from musicalley.com) – Cooterfinger
Castin’ My Spell – Johnny Kidd and The Pirates
Caveman – Eddie Angel
Spann’s Boogie Woogie – Otis Spann
Dr Watson And Mr Holmes – The Spirits Of Rhythm
My Dear Watson – Thee Headcoat Sect
Dreadlock Holmes – Honey Fed Worms
Rock’n’Roll Detective – The Radioactives
People From Another World – The Jive Five
The Kid From Mars (Album version) – The Gazmen
Destination Venus – Man Or Astro-man?
In the Shadow of Wire Mountain – Michael Futreal
Let’s Go To Outerspace – Quadrajets