February 28, 2013


This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin

Holli Hoxxx Volume 1
(Austin Tinius, Adam Tinius, Stefano Cardoselli; Bogus Books)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Ok, I'm not going to beat around the bush on this one, and I'm not going to try to sound either clever or hip. A matter of fact, I'm not going to hold in my emotions at all. Dammit, I'm giving myself permission to gush:
If this book was a sandwich, it would already be in my belly and I would be dreaming of eating it again.
The last time a Tinius hooked up with a Cardoselli, they brought us the ball-slapping mindfuckery of Dr. Muscles. This time, in Holli Hoxxx Volume 1, they tone down the ball-slapping and amp up the mind-fuckery, and, by doing so, unleash a thing of beauty, genius, art, love, joy, and wonderment.
If this comic was a pillow, I would never get out of bed.

February 26, 2013

Review -- HARBINGER #0

This Review Originally Ran On Comics Bulletin

Harbinger #0
(Joshua Dysart, Mico Suayan, Pere Perez; Valiant)
I don't know anything about the Valiant Comics Universe except for that issue of Rai and the Future Force I stumbled upon for my Cheap Thrills column back in July of 2011. Needless to say, it was with some trepidation that I volunteered to review Harbinger #0 for this column. I'd heard some good things about the relaunch, though, so I figured I owed it to myself to give it a go.
And I'm damn glad that I did. This book is chock full of awesome, from soup to nuts.

February 21, 2013


This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
Mars Attacks Zombies vs. Robots
(Chris Ryall, Andy Kuhn; IDW)
I'm a pretty big fan of IDW's original Zombies vs. Robots series, based mostly on my love of Ashley Wood's art, but also because… well, I mean… it's ZOMBIES VS. ROBOTS! Much like my beloved Cowboy Ninja Viking from Image, when you start mashing up things that I love, I love you even more for it (kind of like when you make a sandwich out of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, mayo and American cheese). When I heard that Chris Ryall was going to revisit the world of his Zombies vs. Robots AND layer in Martians attacking, how could I not be intrigued? 
Sure there's no Ashley Wood attached to this book, but Andy Kuhn is no slouch either, and in Mars Attacks Zombies vs. Robots he has many opportunities to prove that again and again.

February 20, 2013

Real Talk -- THE COFFIN: 10th Anniversary Edition

This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
Keith SilvaThe Coffin lives (or dies) on big ideas; it's the kind of story no one seeks out because it asks more questions and questions more answers, yeah, it's that kind of book.
I'm drawn to these type of stories because … well I am. There is no accounting for taste, right? The Coffin isn't solely for shoe top gazers like me; it has steampunky robots, wackadoo science stuff and a female assassin with a headband, so cool stuff, yeah? For all its clankety-clank robots and pulpy sci-fi/horror, The Coffin houses a simple and difficult question: what do I believe?
Writer Phil Hester and artist Mike Huddleston leaven The Coffin's introspection with bravura action set pieces like rock-em-sock-em robot battles and some of the best visions of Hell this side of Gustave Doré and Hieronymus Bosch. Huddleston's Hell kills atheists. This is an actioner with heart and, yes, a soul. The Coffin is all about the soul, what a soul is, what a soul means, and what a soul looks like, and yeah, that last one is important, this is, after all, a comic book; looks count.

February 19, 2013

Convenient Truths -- KEVORKIAN

This Column Originally Ran On Comics Bulletin
Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human. Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, Daniel Elkin curls up in front of the TV and delves deep into the bowels of Netflix Streaming Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.
Today he and his friend Jason Sacks found 2010's Kevorkian directed by Matthew Galkin.
Elkin: To be able to die with dignity on our own terms is one of those Pandora Box type issues that cleaves into the core of all our fears, misunderstandings, cultural abstractions, and religious hoo-doo surrounding death itself, which, in reality, is really a comment upon our very conceptions of the value of life. People get all uncomfortable concerning questions of dying as it speaks to the unknown, as well as the precious clinging we do to and the inherent vanity associated with our own existence.
But there are times when life is no longer to be cherished, but rather endured. There is grinding and debilitating pain. There is the slow degeneration into dementia. There comes a time for some when life no longer holds any chance of pleasure and they become a writhing burden on their love ones. For these people, death is a release.
As a Western society whose medical mandate is to heal and whose basic religious foundation is ostensibly about cherishing existence, the option of taking one's own life is a sticky wicket. Our medical establishment profits from prolonging life, our religious pundits proclaim from the pulpit the sin of suicide. It ties our decisions about these matters in all sorts of emotional knots and leaves us knee-jerking and saliva-slinging as we throw our politics and doctrines in the face of the suffering.
Clouded from Alzheimer's dementia, my 95-year-old grandmother has brief moments of clarity in which she asks me, “Why can't I die?”
And I really have no answers for her.
In the 1990's, though, there came a man who confronted this question head on. A true Renaissance man, painter, musician, author, inventor, researcher, and doctor, Jack Kevorkian began a seemingly one man assault on our questions about end-of-life decisions and participated in at least 130 assisted suicides with people for whom continued life meant only pain or assured degeneration. “Dr. Death,” as he came to be known, almost single-handedly brought the issue of physician-assisted suicide into the national debate, and, for this, as well as his own hubris (which I am sure we will talk more about later), he paid a price: enduring political and religious attacks, being characterized as a “ghoul” and suffering through an eight-and-a-half year stint in prison.
Matthew Galkin's documentary, Kevorkian, does an excellent job of unearthing the man behind the mythos, revealing a complicated individual who defies easy labeling. Using Kevorkian's unsuccessful 2008 campaign for Congress as a framing device, the film uses all the documentarian's skills to try to get to the soul of Kevorkian and, by doing so, allows for commentary on the issue for which he is most closely associated.
The film pulls no punches. Kevorkian is presented warts and all in an attempt to understand. There are just as many moments that evoke sympathy as there are moments that evoke revulsion, and it shows that there are no easy answers when you are dealing with the complexity of what makes a man.

February 12, 2013


This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
So you're reading and you pretty much know that when it says on the second page of a book, "Later Mandate has dinner with a seal," and then the third page begins a story called Fart Boobs that you've pretty much either slipped off the axis, been shot out of your league, or found yourself comfortably at home. Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume Two is chock full of non sequitur humor, revelry in randomness, and smug little "push you in the muds" that it is best suited only for those for whom this sort of thing amuses.
"Whom does it amuse" may be the larger question this book raises. 
In an increasingly discordant world full of 42 different Greek Yogurts and 17 different Pay Options, our sense of humor has become more self-referential and obtuse. We live in a post-Dada world where wearing an empty tuna fish can as a hat is a goof, a political statement and an expression of your individuality. It is also a dessert topping and a floor wax.

February 7, 2013

Review -- STEED AND MRS. PEEL #4

This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin

Steed and Mrs. Peel #4
(Caleb Monroe, Yamin Liang; BOOM!)
Steed and Mrs. Peel # 4 takes up from where issue three left off. Having prevented the Hellfire Club from enslaving Parliament, our plucky couple look forward to a night off from adventure. What better opportunity to unwind than a masked ball held in honor of the author, Llyod Cushing?
And that's where we find our titular characters, off to the masquerade, dressed to nines, looking for a relaxing night of fine food, dancing, and conversation.
But of course, this is Steed and Mrs. Peel, so it can't be just a quiet night of fun frivolity and fabulous festivities. Wouldn't be much of a comic book, would it? Of course not. There must be ACTION! There must be murder most foul and weirdness afoot. 
And so there is.

February 5, 2013

Cheap Thrills -- HELL #1

This Column Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.
January 2, 2013 – paid 50 cents for:
Published by: Rocket Comics
Written by: Brian Augustyn
Pencils by: Todd Demong
Inks by: Tim Kane
Colors by: Studio F
Letters by: Sno Cone
July of 2003 was nearly a decade ago, but the echoes of its bloodlust still reverberate in the ether. In July of 2003, in Meridian, Mississippi, a Lockheed Martin factory worker gunned down 13 of his coworkers. In Santa Monica, California an 86-year-old man hit the accelerator instead of the brake and mowed down pedestrians at a Farmer's Market killing 10 and injuring 50. In Iraq, photos of the dead bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein were widely distributed to a cheering populace. In Paris, one of the top floors of the Eiffel Tower suddenly erupted into flames.
After an extensive investigation, the BBC conclusively announced that there was no monster in Loch Ness.
Nike bought Converse.
Bob Hope, Buddy Ebsen and Barry White all died in July 2003.
Probably the only thing that wasn't marked by savagery during this month was MSNBC, which fired talk show host Michael Savage for telling a caller that he “should only get AIDS and die.”
All this bloodshed and horror might have caused the average thinking person to wonder whether or not the world had begun a slow descent into hell. To punctuate and capitalize on this sentiment, Rocket Comics (a Dark Horse Comics imprint) took this moment to publish the first issue of a comic book called Hell. Instead of adding to the horror of the times, though, Hell gave us something far more interesting. But not interesting enough, it appears, to save it from its resting place in the bargain bin.
Hell begins with a flashback – Ten Years Ago Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, Roughly Three Hundred Miles Due East of the Bahamas
Through the conceit of perforated pages, we are told about an island called Eden where something called Project Chimera went “magnificently awry” and whatever creatures had been created there went into open rebellion.
I love the dynamism of Demong's art. I love his inventive use of the panel concept, adding depth and all the “feels” by breaking the constrictions inherent in the layouts. As blocky as his lines are and as thick as his ink is, there is all kinds of good shit going on here. Also, notice the nametag on the soldier’s arm – Rollins – this will come into play later.