Sunday, June 29, 2014

Comics Capsule Reviews

6/12/14 Books

Coffin Hill #8
BOOK OF THE WEEK: Coffin Hill #8 – After a slight hiatus, one of comics’ best horror books is back. Eve Coffin is part of the Kennedyesque Coffin family of New England. Growing up a troubled rich kid, Eve and her clique dabbled in drinking, drugs and witchcraft. After college, Eve actually became a cop for a while, stumbling into the arrest of a major serial killer. After some undisclosed tragedy, Eve leaves the force and returns home to the city of Coffin Hill, Massachusetts. Much has changed in the 10 years she’s been gone. Her ex-boyfriend is now the police chief, her mother is even more bitter and angry, and most of her friends are a coven of very dangerous witches. There is Lovecraftian-level occult trouble brewing in Coffin Hill, and it seems no one wants Eve’s help to fix it.

In this issue, a few of Eve’s old friends resolve some grudges (against each other) and the story flashes back to Eve’s time as a rookie police officer. In the present, Eve is framed for a crime and winds up in the local jail. The authorities aren’t too sympathetic when she claims witchcraft is to blame, not her.

Writer Caitlin Kittredge crafts one creepy tale, full of character, complexity and horror. Artist Inaki Miranda is a wonder. Her pages are full of detail, her characters tell the story through body language alone, and few artists are as adept with clothing, fashion and general atmosphere. Whether it’s cops on the job or a grand costume ball, Miranda draws stunning people, monsters and costumes. A gifted creative team.

Rating: ****1/2 out of 5 stars

Blood Queen #1
The Blood Queen #1 – This new fantasy book is off to a grand start. Loosely based on Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who used to bathe in the blood of virgins to stay young (a real person, look her up), The Blood Queen is set in a typical medieval fantasy world. When King Trevian’s infant daughter comes down with an illness none of the royal doctors can treat, good knight Sir Ferenc is dispatched to find help. The king supports “The Daughters of the Line,” a village of healing women led by the Elder. The Elder immediately calls for Elizabeth, a beautiful and skilled healer in the village. Elizabeth, while charming and talented, has some secret plan in place with the Elder for just such an occasion. She heals the baby (while possibly making things worse) and immediately sets out to manipulate the king’s court and insinuate herself with the nobles. She finds the wizard who ensorcelled the infant and Ferenc makes short work of him. But does that rid the kingdom of one evil wizard only to make room for a new, improved one ... ?

The Blood Queen is a fun, if light, fantasy, with a story by Troy Brownfield and some incredible art by Fritz Casas. I’ll definitely be back for more.

Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars 

Mighty Avengers #11
Mighty Avengers #11 – While this book has nothing to do with the Avengers (it’s just another book Marvel slaps the name “Avengers” on to sell a few extra copies), it’s still an entertaining read. This issue is a tie-in to Marvel’s “Original Sin” event. Here, writer Al Ewing—a creator to whom I’m paying more and more attention—takes the story back to the ‘70s to follow a different team of characters. The usual team is made up of Luke Cage, the Blue Marvel, Falcon, Spectrum and the White Tiger. In this issue, Luke visits his father, a former cop, to hear about a team his father was involved with decades ago. That team consisted of Luke’s dad, a younger Blue Marvel, the magician Kaluu, reporter Constance Molina, and Marv Wolfman’s Blade, in all his afroed, 1970s glory. It was great to see the 1970s Blade again. Unsurprisingly, Blade also had an attitude problem back then. As the story wraps up, it flashes to the present, with the ‘70s team reuniting as older folks. The ones who age, that is.

Artist Greg Land draws photo-realistic heroic men and glamorous women, as always. I don’t understand criticisms of his art. Yes, he sometimes uses photo references. So what? He’s still fantastic and one of the most underrated illustrators working.

Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars 

Haunted Horror #11
Haunted Horror #11 – More classic (and weirdo) horror reprints from comics’ Golden Age. Another incredible issue from the Yoe crew. Some of the spine-tinglers in this issue include:

- The Witches Come at Midnight (City of the Living Dead, 1952). This story is phenomenal, just for the “what the ...?!” factor. Joel Rainey is a farm boy who trains his pet rooster Peter to crow at will. Good thing, because demons of all shapes and sizes have been terrorizing his parents’ farm. After fighting them off a few times with Peter’s cock-a-doodling, the demons have had enough and bring Satan himself to attack (why they’re attacking is left a mystery. But as Hilary Clinton would say, “What difference does it make?”). The jig is up when Satan realizes Peter is a chanticleer. “A what?” you may ask? I did. But I looked it up. A chanticleer is “a name given to a rooster, especially in fairy tales.” According to the script, a chanticleer is a “servant of God” (of course he is) and therefore his crows dispatch Satan and all his demons to the underworld and all is saved. I learn so much from this job. Did they have LSD in 1952?

- Hallahan’s Head (Forbidden Worlds #25, 1954) holds its own as a straight horror story. Hallahan and Fletcher are in Africa for adventure and business. When some valuable land comes up for sale, Hallahan suggests sharing the claim. But Fletcher wants it all to himself, and dispatches native Otongo to “make it look like an accident.” I guess the language barrier leads to a miscommunication, because Otongo chops off Hallahan’s head and throws it into the brush. Back in the states, Fletcher becomes rich and powerful off his land grab. But what is that swimming the ocean with dark thoughts (or not) about revenge? Yup, that would be Hallahan’s head. Fletcher sees it everywhere—the boardroom, his closet, his writing table ... After his house blows up and his body turns up with rows of 32 indentations on his skin, it’s plain that Hallahan’s head just dropped by for a bite. Or two.

- The Locked Door (Worlds of Fear #6, 1952) is a truly twisted treat. Tom Daly is a painter who likes to dwell on the macabre, even though his hot fiancée Emily wants him to do more Saturday Evening Post-type art for the money. Hey, wedding dresses weren’t cheap in 1952 either! When Tom sees his idol, painter Peter Gynt, on the street, he follows him home for some art tips. Peter’s art looks like it’s inspired by some type of Dr. Kevorkian/Jeffrey Dahmer mix. When Tom asks the great man if he can worship at his feet, Pete says no and refuses to divulge the secret of his masterworks. But as soon as his back is turned, Tom sneaks into a locked room and discovers the secret—when Pete paints a subject, he murders them and they become little people in his paintings. And they’re kind of pissed about it! Tom’s rude room invasion gives them an opportunity to express themselves to painter Pete, and they do so through violence. Sickened because he saw Darby O’Gill and the Little People murder his hero, Tom turns into Norman Rockwell on the spot and Emily gets her white wedding. I love happy endings.

Other stories include Day of Panic from 1953 (a vampire who looks like Harry Carey Jr. terrorizes a small western town), Hand from 1951 (a hand kills a man—from inside his body!), and Candles for the Undead from 1954 (a candle maker makes bright candles from the human body fat of his victims—trapping their ghosts in the flame!).

I’m delighted these lost gems can find a modern audience. They are a treat to experience and incredibly entertaining. Nice job, Yoe & Co.!

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Prison Tales - My Friend Sam, Part Two

Not Sam's Prison

Yesterday we left off with the tale of my first visit to see my friend Sam in prison for selling unlicensed fireworks—a box of firecrackers loaded with a wee bit too much gunpowder.

Sam entered the visitation area looking fit and healthy, and was in good spirits. Prison visits are allowed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 8:00am to 3:00pm. Any non-felon can visit, but they have to be pre-approved with a background check and on the official visitor list. The first thing Sam wanted to do was hit the vending machines. Prisoners have a canteen where they can buy some snack foods, but they usually don’t have access to sweets. They are absolutely forbidden to use the vending machines in the visiting area and aren’t allowed near them. Visitors bring rolls or bags of quarters to get treats for the prisoners. Throughout our visit, I think Sam had two bags of Pop Tarts, two packages of doughnuts, a candy bar, some Fritos, some vending machine White Castles, a Coke and three coffees. Good thing he has a fast metabolism.

Sam talked a bit about the makeup of the prison. The population was around 50% black, 20% Hispanic, and 30% white and “other.” He has a Master’s Degree in Communications from Eastern Kentucky University. He said only about 1% of the prisoners has an advanced degree; there was a pharmacist and a banker there who were both highly educated. The currency inside is postage stamps. Prisoners use stamps among themselves for favors and to buy small items from each other. He has several jobs, one of which is to clean certain rooms, and in a few weeks he will begin teaching a public speaking class. As an adjunct professor at several local universities, that teaching experience will finally come in handy. The reward for this gainful employment is around $10.00 per month.

The mail situation is interesting. Apparently prisoners can get magazines in the mail, but not books or newspapers. They can get photographs, as long as no one is fully nude. The mail is censored, or at least opened and given a cursory glance, but most things get through. There are sports available, and Sam has played pool, soccer and worked out. The security is minimal. A prisoner can walk away any time, but when they are caught (and they’re almost always caught), they will go back to the maximum-security facility. And no one wants that.

The prisoners do not have to get up at a certain time, but they do have several head counts per day and they have to be at those counts. On foggy days they can have as many as four or five counts per day to make sure no one slips away in the mist. That actually happened recently, as one prisoner slipped away in the fog to meet his girlfriend and get some nookie and Burger King. The man may have even intended to return—but he was found out, caught, and is now serving the remainder of his sentence, plus added time, at the facility next door. Needless to say he won’t be slipping away again. I hope the Whopper was worth it. For her and him.

We discussed what was happening in our lives, and Sam was hungry for news from the outside; of our friends and family and the latest gossip. We had a great visit and I stayed until the guards tossed everyone out at 3:00pm. As we embraced and said goodbye we both teared up. I miss my friend and hate to see him trapped like an animal for 18 months because he sold a hot firecracker. Not when there are real criminals to lock up. Sam’s friends are trying to have someone visit him every weekend, so he doesn’t get too lonely. Hopefully he can rebuild his life, although the loss of his business and now a felony record will make things difficult. Luckily, he’s intelligent, ambitious and has a vast support system. He’ll be all right.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Prison Tales - My Friend Sam, Part One

My best friend Sam recently went to prison. Is Sam some crime kingpin, drug dealer or violent gangster? No. He is a fireworks dealer. Sam loves fireworks like I love comics. Or Dutch Chocolate Almond ice cream from UDF. Or Farrah Fawcett circa 1977. You get the idea.

Sam stocked a case of firecrackers that the Federal Government said were overloaded. Instead of going Boom!, they went BOOM! They said he had to have a special license for them, which he did not have. It was really no big deal, but since 9/11 the ATF has been cracking down on what they see as dangerous explosives. Don’t get me started on the ATF. I support most law enforcement 100%. I’m a friend of the police. However, from what I have personally seen on this case, the ATF are belligerent, jack-booted thugs that should be embarrassed by their gross incompetence. And those are their good points.

The ATF, along with lying Federal prosecutors, trumped up a case against Sam to keep their conviction stats up. They told him they would give him 10 years with a guilty verdict if he didn’t plead out. Statistics show that Federal government prosecutors win convictions in over 90% of their cases. When an entity has unlimited resources (tax money stolen from you and me), if they want you, they get you. If it sounds like I’m angry it’s because I am. Sam copped a plea, was ordered to sell his business, and got 18 months in a minimum-security “work camp.” A hefty fine would have been fair punishment, but I suppose there just aren’t enough people in prison. I went down to visit him for the first time this past weekend.

The prison is a large, institutional-looking building in a rural area. Across a gravel road is the maximum-security Federal prison. Sam may have had to go there if the work camp was full. The day he self-reported, the maximum-security prison was experiencing a riot, so he got the camp. Thank God for that. I entered the building and filled out the form for visitors. There are endless rules for visiting prisoners in a Federal facility. You can’t wear shorts. You can’t wear open-toed shoes. There is a long list of things you can’t bring in, including food, cell phones, a camera, weapons, a wristwatch or any reading material. Good thing I left my guns at home. The only things you can bring in are your Driver’s License and car keys.

I filled out the form and handed it to the guard. He swiveled in his chair and handed the form to another guard in a glass booth next to him. There seemed to be some problem, as they whispered, looked confused and concerned and mentioned my name several times. The booth guard handed my form back to the desk guard. He looked up and said, “We have you down as “Gerald,” yet you signed the form as “Jerry.” He waited for an explanation, as if he had never heard of a nickname before. This confused both guards as if I had written my name in Klingon. I told him, “My name is Gerald, but I go by Jerry. What if I scratched out “Jerry” on the form and wrote in “Gerald?” He thought it over like it was the final question on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and consulted the other guard. Still looking bewildered, he turned to me and said, “Okay.” Like we’d try it and see if the governor approved. I fixed the form, handed it back to him, and after much whispering I managed to go through the glass doors to the visitation area.

The visitation area is a large, windowed room with airport-style plastic seating. It has room for maybe a hundred and fifty visitors and prisoners, bathrooms (not lockable), a children’s area and a row of vending machines. After a few minutes, a guard brought Sam out. He looked good. He’d lost around 10 pounds (not that he needed to, he’s always been in good physical shape) and was dressed in a dark blue shirt and matching pants. His shirt had a patch with his name and prisoner number. We hugged hello—it was great to see him!

Tomorrow: The Visit and Prison Culture. You'll find it here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Superhero Fashion: Sensible Choices or Black Leather Ninja Crap?

Christian Bale's Batman Costume

With the explosion of superhero movies out lately--and many more to come--some thoughts on the fashion choices made by directors and filmmakers.

- Batman: Black leather ninja crap. I’ve hated most every variation of his movie costume. Would a dark gray suit and midnight blue cape and cowl really be garish and awful? No. Instead, the coolest part of his costume, the awesome black bat on his chest, gets lost and we’re back to generic black ninja crap. Hopefully the director of the new Batman vs. Superman film will present Batman in his more traditional costume. With Ben Affleck playing Batman and the general dark depressiveness of most DC movies, the movie doesn’t have much else going for it.

- X-Men: For the most part, black leather ninja crap. Again, not asking for yellow spandex, but couldn’t they have a tiny bit of color in the leather? Magneto’s helmet looks great in red and purple.

Ben Affleck as Daredevil
- Daredevil: I know the movie is ten years old now, but the main costume looked great. The villain Bullseye? Black leather ninja crap. And no mask. Yes, masks can look ridiculous, but it’s a COMIC BOOK MOVIE. Hopefully the upcoming Netflix series will at least keep the red devil look.

- Spider-Man: The costume is spot-on, especially in the latest Amazing Spider-Man, which was otherwise somewhat blah.

- Avengers: Iron Man looks good. Captain America looks all right, but he has to have the 3D wings on his head to be Cap. And why put gray in his costume? Is red, white and blue not good enough? But he doesn’t wear black leather ninja crap, which is a plus. With minor variations, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow all have black leather ninja crap. Thor has a red cape, Hawkeye has purple highlights. Natasha doesn’t even have gold highlights for her belt and wrist weapons. Would that have killed them? Why can’t Thor have (toned down) gold-wrapped boots or his cool winged helmet? He wore it in the first movie for five minutes and it didn’t look too bad. Marvel really doesn’t like head wings.

Chris Evans with No Head Wings
Reeve as Supeman Done Right
- Superman: The Donner movie costume was fantastic, right out of the comics. The recent movie costume could be worse—but the colors are incredibly muted. Filmmakers are so afraid of primary colors—but this is Superman! I don’t want him lurking in shadows and needing to wash his costume with Tide. And I’ll take the red underwear on the outside. It’s worked for the better part of a century.

I realize the costumes can’t be reproduced exactly like they are in the comics. But they can brighten up some of the worst examples and make them a bit more colorful or interesting. When almost every movie has the majority of its characters in the same, boring black leather, it all looks like a generic mishmash of dark-dressing mercenaries. How would filmmakers do Iron Fist? Or Luke Cage? Or one of my favorite comic costumes, Dr. Strange?
Dr. Strange. Can we dare hope to get this costume in the movie?
I guess we’ll find out, as they are all on the production schedule for the next few years. I’d really hate for them to all wind up in black leather ninja crap. Give me some interesting visuals and color. Don’t be afraid of your source material!

Powerman & Iron Fist

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Books - Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob is an outstanding thriller. A teenager is brutally killed in a Boston suburb and classmate Jacob Barber is arrested for the crime. This comes as a total surprise to Andy Barber, Jacob's dad and the DA that was assigned to the case. What follows is a study of family interactions, a tense courtroom drama and a look at nature vs. nurture. As the circumstantial evidence mounts--overwhelmingly--against Jacob, investigators never stop looking for the smoking gun that will clinch the case. The jury has to decide on the case from testimony alone. Do they have enough to convict? Did Jacob really do it? The investigation and court scenes ring true because of Landay's former job as a prosecutor, but he's also a great writer. Readers can make up their own mind despite the verdict, but I know who did it. And I'm not telling. Go read the book!

Rating: ****1/2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Comics Capsule Reviews

Recent Books

Weird Love #1
BOOK OF THE WEEK: Weird Love #1: Oh, the delicious pleasure of this comic. The genius team of Yoe Comics editors Craig Yoe and Elizia Gussoni (with contributions from my buddy Steven “Booksteve” Thompson) is a sublime delight. These folks have combed through years of Golden and Silver Age romance comics and chosen the goofiest, oddest, kinkiest and most unintentionally funny comic stories I’ve ever read. Whosever idea this was is my lifelong hero.

Let’s examine some of the gems in this first issue. “Love of a Lunatic” (Love Secrets #32, 1953) features the doomed love between Ruth and Ed. Bat-crap craziness runs in Ruth’s family, so naturally she lives in fear of ending up in the looney bin like dear old dead dad. After a major nervous breakdown caused by the return of said dead dad (don’t ask) and rejecting nice guy Ed (she didn’t want to saddle him with an insane fiancée), Ruth’s mother calls the men in white and they drag Ruth to the booby hatch. Blathering and pulling her hair out in a padded cell, Ed’s love eventually brings her back down to earth. The staff psychiatrist (probably educated in the Bahamas) saves the day by deciding Ruth is only insane because her mother planted the idea in her mind. A happy ending, as Ruth twitches her way into a picket fence and 2.5 children. I’m sure she’ll be fine!

In “I Fell for A Commie,” (Romantic Adventures #50, 1954) shopgirl Gladys waits on Tom and soon they are dating. After unceremoniously dumping her, she tracks him down at a meeting at the Communist Club. He tries to shoo her off, there’s just no room in his life for a Mrs. Commie at the moment. Sickened by his political beliefs but smitten with his sweltering good looks, Gladys figures, in for a penny ... I won’t ruin the brilliant twist ending, but let’s say the Reds get what’s coming and Gladys and Tom may have some baby Stalins after all.

You have to love “The Taming of the Brute” (Just Married #53, 1967). Muscle-bound Nick is a beach bum who thinks women look best naked in the back of his VW microbus. Georgie is a no-nonsense straight arrow who decides that, tamed, he may be good husband-fodder. Bit by bit she breaks him down until he is serving their dinner guests in an apron and asking her if she’d like a foot rub before bed. Tables turn as someone is spanked for their gender-wrong ideas. As it should be! All is right with the universe after all. Had me nervous there for a second.

That doesn’t even cover the totally inappropriate date rape story, “Love in High Style,” (Dear Lonely Hearts #7, 1954) or the “okay, so we’re both gross” marriage story “You Also Snore, Darling,” (Just Married #57, 1968). Or the magnificent one-pagers, gathered from decades of mainstream romance comics. These brief instructional tales feature fat, bald middle-aged male writers telling young women how to dress, eat, act and kiss properly (and virginally).

I have a good sense of humor, but I rarely just guffaw non-stop outloud. I did after every story and feature in this book. An idea whose time has come—this is the book of the week and my new favorite comic. The only negative is that Weird Love is bi-monthly—I have to wait two months for the next issue! Torture, I tell you!

***** out of 5 stars. Fantastic.

The United States of Murder #1
The United States of Murder, Inc. #1: The new book from Powers creators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. In this alternate universe tale, the Mafia is so powerful they control most of the east coast of the United States. As the story opens, Valentine is becoming a made man and celebrates moving up in the organization. He seems like a somewhat decent guy, although his friend Dino is a mob psychopath, making for an effective bodyguard. Dispatched on a train to Washington, D.C. for a simple delivery mission, Valentine meets Jagger Rose, a hot redhead who was a childhood friend of his sister. As events unfold it’s obvious she’s not just another passenger and not there by accident. As the delivery job goes horribly wrong, Valentine is almost killed and his future with the organization is placed in doubt.

This first issue opened the story and started building Bendis and Oeming’s world. It was a decent idea adequately executed until the twist on the last page. That was a game changer and made me sit up and pay attention. That twist suddenly made another mob book a story I’m interested in reading. Needless to say, I’m in. Hopefully as this tale unfolds it will fulfill the promise of this first issue.

*** out of 5 stars

The Royals: Masters of War #4

 The Royals: Masters of War #4: This alternate history World War II story has a fascinating premise: all the world’s royal families have super powers, but they have all taken an oath of neutrality that none of them dare break. As WWII begins, British super-royals are forced to let Nazis bomb the hell out of Britain. When the young hotheaded Prince of Wales is in France for a royal visit, he witnesses the Germans pounding the French in a one-sided sea battle. Refusing to just stand by, he enters the battle and single-handedly destroys a good part of Hitler’s navy. From there, it’s on. Royals the world over have been itching to kill people and break things and they can’t wait to start a stately super-slugfest.

In this issue, everyone is pissed at Prince Henry for bringing the world’s royals into the war. That is, except for Winston Churchill, who looks at them as just another welcome weapon. A weapon he doesn’t hesitate to use. He sends Henry and his sister Rose flying to Russia to gather up a German defector with valuable intelligence. When they get there they have to fight on two fronts: one,  dethroned Czar Nicolas, who is super powerful and not quite dead after all, and two, their icky romantic feelings for one another (which Rose rejects out of hand). Action packed with layers of interesting story, The Royals is a satisfying read. If a bit icky.

***1/2 out of 5 stars

Star Trek: The Mirror, Cracked
Star Trek, New Visions #1: The Mirror, Cracked: Writer John Byrne is full of interesting ideas. He could rest on his laurels as one of the most lauded comic creators of the last 40 years. Instead, he does something new. In the 70s, before VCRs and almost any type of electronic home entertainment, we had Photonovels. Paperback books were issued of movies or TV shows with photos and word balloons adapting the story. I had a few of the Star Trek ones and the Close Encounters of the Third Kind book. They were fumetti, a sort of photo comic book. John Byrne has taken the concept and rearranged it a bit for modern times. He has taken images from Star Trek: The Original Series and given us something new. In this case, a story revisiting the original episode “Mirror, Mirror,” only with the evil ST cast coming to our universe this time.

This is a fun, wacky story that hits all the right buttons. Evil Kirk beams himself to our universe and strikes up an alliance with Commander Kor of the Klingons. Evil Spock turns from heel to face and comes over to warn the good Kirk and stop the bad one. He shaves his beard to disguise himself, but after he is revealed as an ally, Dr. McCoy quickly regrows it for him to tell the Spocks apart. There is intrigue and space battles aplenty, but the fun is in watching the characters play off each other and seeing bearded Spock in a standard Starfleet uniform. When they day is won, bearded Spock is back in his universe and Evil Kirk is left ... in a precarious position. A bit pricey at $7.99, but an excellent package. I look forward to more.

**** out of 5 stars

Saga #19
Saga #19: While I like Saga, I’ve never known exactly what to make of it. Is it serious space opera? Comedy soap opera? A romance? Straight science fiction? It is really all of those things. And none of them. It is truly unique. This always controversial book opens with another shock: A robot? cybernetic? cyborg? baby being born. In the most graphic way possible. Meanwhile, leads Marko and Alana are having marital and financial problems and are still hiding from the authorities. If the last page shock ending is legitimate, there will be another sea change in a book full of them. It’s weird; ninteen issues in, and I’m still not sure what to make of Saga. I don’t dislike it though. Brian K. Vaughn is an excellent writer, but the book is sold by the gorgeous art of Fiona Staples. I hope no one else ever touches this book.
*** out of 5 stars

Monday, June 9, 2014

Link of the Day - How Liberalism Became Kryptonite for Superman

I've been concerned for years about media unfairly pushing a leftist or liberal agenda, while marginalizing any other point of view. This has been especially true in mainstream comic books. Once a bastion of anti-commie, pro-capitalist thought, comics are now published mostly to push an agenda. And that agenda is not conservative. I'm not much for any type of agenda pushing in any media. In comics I would prefer creative ideas and adventure stories, not endless tales of why Wolverine has two daddies.

Comic book writer and novelist Chuck Dixon and his artist partner Paul Rivoche look at this phenomenon in an important article in today's Wall Street Journal. Here's the link:

The article is titled How Liberalism Became Kryptonite for Superman (A graphic tale of modern comic books' descent into moral relativism)

 Here is an excerpt:

"In the 900th issue of Action Comics, Superman decides to go before the United Nations and renounce his U.S. citizenship." 'Truth, justice and the American way'—it's not enough any more," he despairs. That issue, published in April 2011, is perhaps the most dramatic example of modern comics' descent into political correctness, moral ambiguity and leftist ideology.

We are comic-book artists and comics are our passion. But more important they've inspired and shaped many millions of young Americans. Our fear is that today's young comic-book readers are being ill-served by a medium that often presents heroes as morally compromised or no different from the criminals they battle. With the rise of moral relativism, "truth, justice and the American way" have lost their meaning."

If you run into WSJ's pay wall, Google the title of the article + "Wall Street Journal" and you can read the article with no obstruction. It's well worth your valuable time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Star Trek: The Original (and only, really) Series

Thanks to some credit card points and a blowout sale on Amazon, I was able to pick up all three seasons of Star Trek: The Original Series on Blu-Ray for under twenty bucks. Can’t wait to check out the detail on Shatner’s toupee!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cover of the Day

Avengers #4 from 1963. The holy grail book for my collection, as well as Captain America's return to the "modern" world and one of Kirby's greatest covers. Someday ...