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Out like a lamb: Hibbs wraps 3/28

Brian Hibbs

Right, let’s “wrap up” last week — PICK OF THE WEEK: I’m going to tie between two books I didn’t actually write about (I didn’t write about many comics this week, did I?): BLUE BEETLE #13, and USAGI YOJIMBO #101.

USAGI is USAGI — every issue is terrific fun stuff full of intrigue and action and humor and chills. It is very nearly a textbook example of “how to do good continuing comics”, and this issue is no exception. (issue #100 was an exception, but that’s because it was about the comic rather than being a comic itself). I remember having a conversation with someone or another maybe 15-20 years ago about the “celebrity” of the comics artist, and how much money the “top” artists were making in Japan, and how wouldn’t it be nice if some day American creators might do as well as Rumiko Takahashi was doing then? (this was before Image, obviously) Today we have a couple of folks that are beginning to enter those kind of rarefied heights — Frank Miller, I would assume; possibly Alan Moore, or some of his collaborators. I know at least one artist who never has to hustle any longer because of their SANDMAN royalties.

If there was any justice in the world, Stan Sakai would be in that bracket. Why do we live in a world where USAGI doesn’t sell 50k an issue?

BLUE BEETLE is another solidly fun book, in “learning the ropes of the supergame” as its core. Obviously things jostle around month-by-month, but this is almost certainly DC’s best monthly solo-character super-hero comic — it has heart, it’s filled with fun action, and it is very focused on building its own ambitious mythology within the larger DCU. Everything you want in a super-hero comic, ultimately.

So hurray for both of them!

PCIK OF THE WEAK: Yeah, got to be WONDER WOMAN #6. Picoult, I’m sure, will “get” the verbal/visual blend before too long, but she ain’t got it yet. I intensely dislike the current editorial direction of the book, and I can’t believe that we’ve got Circe as the heavy given the first arc of the book. Foo!

BOOK / TP OF THE WEEK: BATMAN: SNOW is absolutely loverly work from Seth Fisher; GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH was a solid way to get Hal back into the DCU; and boy, it’s nice to have GRENDEL: DEVIL BY THE DEED back in print (kinda weird that its the B&W version, wasn’t expecting THAT), but the best book of the week is pretty obviously Bryan Talbot’s ALICE IN SUNDERLAND. Go buy it.

And, believe it or not, I have a BOOK / TP OF THE WEAK, our first ever: DEAD HIGH YEARBOOK, horror GN aimed at kids (? Really? That’s rougher than *I*’d let less-than-15 touch, but the ads for this GN, in this week’s DC’s [!] seem to suggest they think its for younger than that). I suppose if you’ve never read a horror comic before this could be fun, but they read about as well as, say, a Gold Key TWILIGHT ZONE story. And the framing sequence was just interminable. It does have GREAT production values — look at that puffy cover, the bloody smudges on the edges of the page, and so on — but the content was really dreadfully weak.

Semi-parenthetically to that, I read through CENTURY GUILD CHAMBER OF MYSTERY v1 with a number of pre-Code horror stories. And they are weird and lurid, but they’re not really any good at all. What I found the most interesting though was the note in the indicia that said (from memory) “The contents of this book have been significantly modified, so as to constitute a new copyright”, which struck me as down right odd and peculiar.

Not owning any of the originals in question, I couldn’t tell you want they changed — the lettering and art certainly looks period. I suppose it could be recolored, even. But could that possibly be enough to assert copyright on something you didn’t create in the first place?

Anyway, more tonight.


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