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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Shattered With Curve of Horn

by Max Miller Dowdle (Author)

Publisher: Artagem Graphic Library; First Edition (2014)

Hardcover, 154 pages

Amazon Listing

On the eve of a major exhibition of new paintings, prosperous artist Matthew and his wife Caitlin, a pharmaceutical company researcher, encounter an old friend, a philosophical ex-con named Pierce. Pierce confronts the couple about the enigmatic experimental drug they took eight years ago, and the puzzling circumstances that led to his incarceration. In light of Pierce's revelations, Matthew must fight to keep his marriage and career secure, for the secret of all of his success may have sprung directly from Pierce's tragedy.

This is the first work by the author and illustrator, so I tend to go a little easy. Essentially this is an interesting story with sci-fi overtones - a drug that allows a person to share dreams with others, which the protagonist uses to steal inspiration from others and literally paint their dreams. The problem with this story is one of pacing. The story easily could have been told in half the time and much of the action takes place in a bland motel room - which doesn’t really allow the artist to show off his full range of skill.

Additionally at the end of the book, there are various bits and pieces - fake police reports, autopsy, various other personal effects of the characters- which probably would’ve been better used scattered throughout the story as hints of what was coming and the eventually big reveal. Again, this isn’t a bad book. It had some great ideas, but it doesn’t live up to its potential, especially when it comes to the dream sequences.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Daredevil: Ultimate Collection

By Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark

Publisher: Marvel (February 8, 2012)

Softcover, 304 pages

Amazon Listing

Collecting Daredevil 82-93 from the second volume of the series. I haven’t read much Daredevil recently. To be honest, I stopped reading it after the Fall of the Kingpin storyline in the 1980s, because most of the time any new Daredevil stories were just the Frank Miller stuff rehashed. Or worse they brought back dead old characters, Elektra & Bullseye, and just revamped the same old stories. The title had been stagnant for quite a while. The only new elements have been the names and hair colors of the women Mathew Murdock has hooked up with who eventually end up dead.

So what do you do, when real innovation will be frowned upon, but you still want to do something decent with the character? Follow what the authors here did and toss it all in together. Every major character, every major arc, has a part to play in this story. And it works! It works damn well. The Kingpin, Bullseye, Elektra, The Punisher, The Owl, Tombstone, Ben Ulrich, Dakota North, Foggy Nelson, Turk, plus a few others I’m not too sure about, all make appearances, and all seem to fit in well with the ongoing mayhem of this great story. I assumed I would be underwhelmed, but I was wrong.

Matt Murdock finds himself behind bars, a victim of a governmental conspiracy, and essentially charged with being the vigilante Daredevil. Behind the scenes, the most vicious of his adversaries are relocated into his prison, in the hopes that they will kill the hero and the Kingpin, thus saving the government a trial. A copycat Daredevil turns up and Foggy Nelson is murdered while visiting Matt in prison. And behind it all a shadowy character cackles as the superhero twists and turns. A great comic.

      For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Avengers: Kree/Skrull War

by Roy Thomas  (Author), Sal Buscema (Illustrator), Neal Adams (Illustrator), John Byrne (Illustrator)

Publisher: Marvel (January 15, 2019)

Softcover, 208 pages

Amazon Listing

If there ever was an early 70s story that had weight, it's the story arc in issues 89-97 of The Avengers. This is the big one. It reintroduces every element of the Kree and Skrulls from every previous appearance, going back to Fantastic Four issue 2. The writing duty is broken up between Neal Adams and Roy Thomas. Both of whom added to the overall arc, but neither can agree on the specific details on who initially came up with what.

It contains nearly every Avenger at that time Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Vision, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Goliath - which is Hawkeye when he was taking Pym particles to grow. With brief appearances by Ant Man, the Wasp, the Inhumans, Annaihlus, Ronan the Accuser, The Supreme Intelligence, Carol Danvers. With special guest appearances by Rick Jones and Captain Marvel - this is pre-Starlin Captain Marvel. What a freaking cast.

The long lasting effects of this story is well known, but the reader may be surprised when they are shown very little of the actual war between the Kree and Skrulls. It is mostly a series of independent stories that time together in an overall arc. Each story could be read independently, yet had leads to the issue previous and the following one.

Essentially the plot revolves around the aforementioned war where Earth is a perfect beachhead for either side. Thus what begins as a cold war between various espionage agents turns into a life or death fight for the preservation of Earth.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Friday, June 26, 2020

S.H.I.E.L.D. by Lee & Kirby: The Complete Collection

By Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Publisher: Marvel (October 20, 2015)

Paperback, 256 pages

Amazon Listing

This book collects issues 135 - 150 of Strange Tales, plus issue 78 of Tales of Suspense and issue 21 of the Fantastic Four. These issues date back to the beginning of Marvel blossoming out of mobster books and taking the comic world by storm. In the early sixties D.C. ran supreme but with the new interest in revamped Superhero titles, Marvel started to catch up. However, due to publishing problems, Marvel was limited in the number of titles it could publish. Thus they often doubled-up titles to hedge their bets. Thus the stories here are truncated as they were spilt between The SHIELD stories and those of Dr. Strange.

Nick Fury was already part of the Marvel Universe as part of the Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos title which took place in World War II. He was brought into the modern times (of the 60s) with Fantastic Four #21 , where he is a colonel in the CIA. Starting with Strange Tales # he is inducted into the newly created SHIELD to fight the menace of Hydra.

Hydra's origins would later be retconned (Marvel's first retcon in fact) so as to be created by Baron von Strucker with Nazi gold and the remnants of the Odysessa organization.However, for these issues it was started by Arnold Brown, an unobtrusive nobody in real life. He is eventually accidentally killed by his own agents. Later on we see the origins of A.I.M and the Secret Empire, both wings of Hydra - though the Secret Empire isn’t used much anymore.

The stories are what you expect from Lee and Kirby. Over the top. Crazy material. Loaded with kinetic energy. Each had a distinctive style that added to the 60s elements of wild spy agencies with acronyms names. Loads of retro fun. Additionally, despite what the title states, several of the issues are drawn by John Severin instead of Jack Kirby. That's okay in my book, Severin was just as good an artist as the King.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Essential Power Man and Iron Fist, Vol. 2

by Chris Claremont, Kurt Busiek, Denys Cowan, Kerry Gammill, Ernie Chan, Mike W. Barr, Steven Grant, Greg LaRocque 

Publisher: Marvel (2009) 

Softcover, 624 pages 

Amazon Listing

This collects Power Man & Iron Fist issues 76 - 100, and Daredevil # 178. Just a reminder to all you comic fans, most of these were written in the 1970s and as such the demographic for such material was much younger than those written today.

Power Man and Iron Fist, two heroes with cancelled series, who were then packaged together in a sort of buddy-superhero title. Obviously, Luke Cage has super strength and steel-like skin, while Iron Fist is the world's greatest martial artist and able to summon his chi to create the titular iron fist - a massive destructive force. While they don't work on their own, the characters play off each other well.

We see the runs of three writers through this book. Mary Jo Duffy who took a light touch to the tales, many of them filled with tongue-in-cheek moments. Denny O'Neil with his grounded flair and ability to mix real world issues with superhero realities. And Kurt Busiak who, in his characteristic style, offers tons of throwbacks to earlier issues - not just of this series but Power Man and Iron Fist's original series- to build on the mythology presented.

The art stays steady throughout the book. If there's a problem with this title it's that most of their villains are forgettable. Do you remember Shades and Commanche? Or Fera? Or Montenegro? Or Black Mariah? Of course you don't. The best villains they had was one issue which featured Constrictor and Sabertooth - this was Sabertooth pre-Wolverine related times, when he was just a random villain. To sum up these issues are fun and well done, but not great.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Complete Elfquest Volume 5

by Wendy Pini  (Author, Illustrator), Richard Pini (Author)

Publisher: Dark Horse Books (November 27, 2018)

Softcover, 792 pages

Amazon Listing

This large tome collects the remainder of the Hidden Years series, numbers 16 through 29, plus the Metamorphosis one-shot, and The Wild Hunt storyline from Elfquest volume 2, all of which were first published in the mid to late 1990s, when the Elfquest creators turned their indie comic into a franchise, creating at least a dozen titles (mostly limited series) dealing with the Wolfriders and their kin. Now that they’re collecting those stories which they consider cannon, a lot of those titles have been left in the trash. The only way to experience them is to pick up some back issues. Still, this volume is close to 800 hundred pages, so it should fill your Elfquest itch for a while. 

Volume five focuses on Ember, Cutter’s daughter, and her trials in leading a separate tribe from the main Wolfriders pack. The Hidden Years stories take place at the same time as the Shards storyline - where Cutter leads an attack against a warlord to gather the remains of the broken castle. These stories deal with Ember’s inexperience at being chief and her growing pains, as the new tribe look for a place to call their own in a world that is rapidly shrinking and filling up with their natural enemies, humans. 

The Wild Hunt stories take place after Shards, and focus on a more experienced Ember dealing with the final few monsters created by Winnowill. They then become embroiled in a series of back and forth raids with the remaining humans warriors, which eventually force the Wolfriders to become more nomadic than they like. This causes stress amongst the group, challenges to Ember’s leadership, and introduces a new antagonist - a ranger type who knows the ways of elves and knows how best to hunt them. 

Like certain portions of the previous two volumes, none of the issues here were drawn by Wendy Pini, and most of the stories were written by others as well, with the Pini’s acting in an editorial capacity. This is not to say the stories are bad, but they are different stylistically than early Elfquest volumes where they were only two people working on them. In fact I like the stories quite a bit. 

Out of necessity, Elfquest had to switch venues to where the human would pose a greater threat. They were always sort of menacing in the past, but not much more than a passing problem. In these stories, they represent a monumental threat. Which leads to the basic philosophy behind all of these stories, how much will the Wolfriders have to change in order to fit into the new world? Will their “way” be compromised or abandoned completely? Well worth a look. 

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020


by Brian Wood  (Author), Ryan Kelly  (Author, Illustrator)

Publisher: Oni Press; First Edition (September 10, 2013)

Hardcover, 384 pages

Amazon Listing

This is a collection of twelve interconnected stories of a woman (and sometimes her family members) traveling across the United States, living on the bum, sometimes sleeping in her car, and never staying anyplace too long. Whenever trouble starts up or things become too real, she bolts to another city six states away. Some have called her a complex character, all I see is a young girl with standard growing pains, having difficulty metamorphosing into an adult - like we all do. She often deals with it by running to another city, which is unusual, but metaphorically standard. The character does grow though and we follow her across several years and finally into her organically changing into an adult - like a comic version of Hayden Caulfield.

Together the stories paint a great picture. However, individually they are hit and miss. There are some fascinating ones dealing with Megan and her brother's memories of their deceased mother.  One was the beloved child, while the other was abused. The low point of the book is a story centered around a recently broken up band, returning to Richmond, where the vocalist gives a boring and pretentious interview about music and its importance and blah, blah, blah. Masturbation and a waste of ink.

Most of the credit for this book success must go to the artist. The bold black and white drawings, captured the flavor of each setting, each locale. They come alive in each panel, and much of the nuance of the book and subtext are deftly placed by the artist. Normally I would’ve go for a prestige format of a book, being much too frugal. But they are going cheap now on Amazon, and they are beautifully put together, with at least fifty pages of annotations, sketches, and other additional material.  

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Original Daredevil Battles Hitler

by Dick Wood  (Author), Various (Author), Bob Wood (Illustrator)

Publisher: Dark Horse Books (June 25, 2013)

Hardcover, 250 pages

Amazon Listing

This is a golden oldie and don’t feel ashamed if you’ve never heard of the titular character or any of the other heroes within. They are all leftovers from the original golden age of comics in the late 1930s and early 1940s. And while Daredevil comics (the original that is) was one of the most popular titles, when consumers dropped it- they left it behind and didn’t look back. As such, our blue and red friend here, was only revived maybe ten years ago with the Project Superpowers comic that brought back a ridiculous amount of public domain comic heroes.

This collects the first four issues of Daredevil Comics from 1939 and 1940. These are a little different from what you may be used to. Every comic title in this time was almost an anthology. While the titular character (if there was one) would almost certainly be shown and given the most space, this would be only 8 to 10 pages out of 64. The rest would be filled up with shorter features and recurring characters. These secondary features were usually bought by the yard from third party agencies as volume stuffers. Thus, they could appear and disappear as needed to fill up an issue. Plus a handful of bad letters from the fans could spell the death of a virgin backup character in these comics.

The character of Daredevil started in Silver Streak Comics as a backup feature, until a classic five part story by veteran Charles Biro, pitted him against The Claw. This story was so popular that it catapulted both hero and villain into top-tier sellers. Now he is given his own comic and unfortunately the writers didn’t learn from the experience. A superhero’s popularity is based primarily on the villains he fights. Daredevil, who has a Bruce Wayne background and no super powers, fights the standard array of smugglers, jewel thieves, Nazi saboteurs, and assorted gangsters. The only memorable ones are in the first issue when he takes on the Nazi high command in a series of stories.

The Claw is one of the rare villains to star in a backup feature. He is twenty feet tall monster, with sharp teeth, piss yellow skin, and a fanatical desire to destroy and conquer. His origins are shaky, but eventually he is described by his followers as The God of Hate. He is on a mission to conquer America and is brutal in his attempts. These stories - again, very rare for their time - are brutal and fun. There were written before the Comics Code Authority was commissioned so people were openly shot and killed without hesitation or repercussions in some cases. 

Following him were a menagerie of different heroes who all managed to be bland. Nightro - a near blind man who needs polaroid lenses to see and fights crime with his trusty seeing -eye dog (no joke). How he can beat people up so well has remained a mystery. London - an English adventurer who spends his time as a news announcer and nights stopping Nazi spies and saboteurs. Pat Patriot - a woman who accidentally stops a smuggling ring and then goes on a USO tour and keeps stumbling into pockets of saboteurs trying to demobilize the troops with drugs and diseased women. Real American No. 1 - a Native American lawyer who dresses up as superhero The Bronze Terror when defending the people on his reservation from crooked politicians and sheriffs in modern America. Whirlwind - a boxer who keeps getting into trouble with gangsters. Dash Dillion - a “humor” piece about a dizzy college student who is good at sports and all the hijinks he gets into. Thirteen - A man whose life is plagued by the number thirteen, dons the disguise of 13 and goes to fight crime in order to rid himself of the number’s curse. I think?  Pioneer - who only made an appearance in issue 2, then disappeared. Kind of like an early Forrest Gump, a simple man stumbles in with some gangsters and then winds up on top with five grand.

What struck me about most of these is how none of them have superpowers. Not even our titular hero. Yet they easily swing around, doing back flips, and knock out villains with one punch. Even the dog jumps around on fire escapes and up walls and so forth. It makes perfect sense why most of them were forgotten and never revived - with the exception of The Claw and Daredevil.

Usually when a person introduces a new superhero, the first question asked is “What their superpower.”

For most of these, the answer would be, “None, but they can hit really hard.”

Where’s the fun in that? And when you’ve seen it ten times in a row, it is incredibly same-y.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Winsor McCay's Dream Days

By Windsor McCay

Publisher: Hyperion Pr (June 1, 1977)

Hardcover, 178 pages

Amazon Listing

Winsor McCay was an American cartoonist and animator around the turn of the previous century. This is when the circulation wars were at their height and every paper was competing heavily with their neighbor. The daily comic’s page was just starting to develop and grew in popularity exponentially. It was well known a paper couldn’t survive without a good comics section. Winsor Mccay was one of those who first developed the comic’s page into what it is today - or used to be before everything went online.

While there were many firsts in cartooning at that time, there is little that stands out as still being exceptional. The one big exception is McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland - still touted as one of the greatest American comics ever. This book does not contain any of that material. Instead it is a collection of various strips the author worked on prior to Little Nemo, from 1904 - 1914. These begin from a time when comics didn’t have titles, to emerging short lived bits like It Was Only a Dream, Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend, Poor Jake, Midsummer Day Dreams, and Autumn Day Dreams.

One of things you’ll notice in these comics is the use of the dreaming theme (which encompasses all of Little Nemo in Slumberland) begins quite early and seems to have obsessed him throughout his entire career. Much of the material in the early 1900s was pratfalls and word play, grounded in reality. The dream scenarios allowed him play out whatever fantastic ideas popped into his head without people being turned off. It worked for Alice in Wonderland. I’m also including a clip of his cartoon Gertie the Dinosaur. It was one of the earliest cartoons and all animation cells were hand drawn by McCay himself. Enjoy.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection (Fantasy)

By Various Authors and Illustrators

Publisher: Dark Horse Books (November 3, 2015)

Hardcover, 1232 pages

Amazon Link

For those who grew up playing with toys in the 80s, you probably picked up a few He-Man characters. Maybe you played with Ram Man, or Evilin, or Man-E-Faces, or Triclops, or Fisto, or Stinkor - not to mention the titular He-Man and Skeletor - and so on. If you did, then you also received a mini-comic with the purchase. A little twelve page booklet, depicting the figure you just bought in a violent story. As you can guess, this volume collects all of them together for the first time, plus two which were never released, and a script for a minicomic surround the Faker He-Man character - a notoriously unpopular toy, which was supposed to be a clone replica of He-Man made by Skeletor, so it was just the He-Man model painted blue. 

I bought a lot of the first and second edition of figures in the Master of the Universe line, so most of the initial ones in this book, I was familiar with - or vaguely remember from the dim memories of youth - but after that it was a discovery of old characters and toys which I had completely forgotten about. The purpose of the mini-comics was to introduce the reader to how the new character fit into the developing MOTU world. Kids often mimicked what they read in the books, and then developed new adventures afterwards based on these first premises. These mini-comics were the key to He-Man’s longevity, as you bought the toy not just for the figure, but the story that went with it. 

He-Man came out before the toy industry had standardized how to sell a toy line as they did in the 80s. Usually, the toy line, cartoon, and comic book were all coordinated together with a corresponding story bible. He-Man had the mini-comics and the toys. All the rest came later, including the story bible. So eventually there is a certain amount of retconning as the world developed. 

First thing you’ll notice is that He-Man’s name is just He-Man and he leaves his barbaric tribe looking for adventure before coming across the Sorceress and Man-at-Arms (which is his real name then, not a title). It isn’t until the Filmantation cartoon do we see a whiff of Prince Adam and Orko. The most amount of retcons deal with Skeletor’s past. First he comes from an alternate dimension where his features are normal for his race. Then he is an acolyte of Hordak - this is when Hordak was meant to be a foe of He-Man, rather than She-Ra. Then he is possibly the brother of King Randor of Eternia and thus He-Man’s uncle. And so on, and so on. Personally I believe they should’ve just kept things ambiguous like DC did with the Joker. 

The mini-comics cover a thirty year span of publication and so the art and writing varies. The first ones are the best art wise, in my opinion, then slag off a lot, before roaring up to greatness again by the end. What you have to keep in mind, those readers not touched by nostalgia, is that most of these were written for 8-year-olds, while the last few were written for people in their thirties.  

  For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Alpha Flight Omnibus (Superhero)

by John Byrne (Author & Illustrator)

Publisher: Marvel (February 14, 2017)

Hardcover, 1248 pages

Amazon Listing

Why do people constantly laugh at me when I tell them I collect Alpha Flight? Somehow among comic’s collectors the series became a joke title, something subpar, like The Champions or Power Pack. Is it because their Canadian? Or where they compared to the X-titles and found wanting. It’s true that this group has not measured up to the Avengers, but since they originated in the pages of the X-Men (Wolverine used to be a part of Alpha Flight) they were always the also-rans of the mutant titles. 

Well let me tell you, your negative opinion of the series is wrong. These issues here, mostly written and drawn by John Byrne, are hard hitting, brutal at times, and examples of some of the best hero comics done by an artist in his prime. If you don’t believe me, take a gander in this book. There are over twelve hundred pages to prove you wrong. Granted these omnibuses are expensive and hard to carry around, but they are made with top notch quality, and I don’t regret the twenty five dollars I spent on it - We are in a buyer’s market for comics. 

The omnibus collects Alpha Flight 1 - 29; X-Men 109, 120-121, 139-140;  ; X-men and Alpha Flight 1-2; X-men/Alpha Flight 1-2 -which is a retro story fitting between issues 6 and 7 of the original series. Incredible Hulk 272, 313, and Annual 8; Marvel Two-In-One 83 - 84; Machine Man 18; Materials from Marvel Team-Up Annual 7 and Secret Wars II # 4. Quite a lot and all of it presented in chronological order as per the Shooter style, except for the last two issues. 

While the art is amazing, the writing is of its time. As the comics progressed over the years, less and less written material, fewer and fewer captions, appeared on the page. John Byrne is old-school and there are descriptions galore. This isn’t bad, in fact I found it damn refreshing, but buckle up those who just like to look at the pictures. 

Alpha Flight was a Canadian government sponsored superhero team, founded by James Hudson and Department H, to protect Canada’s interests. They are introduced in the pages of X-Men and expand to their own series after the funding is pulled by the government, and Hudson decided to go rogue, continuing the group independently. Strangely, the first ten issues are more of an anthology of the various characters' solo (or near-solo) adventures, than a team book. Alpha Flight rarely appears all together in a cohesive unit. Not that the stories are bad, but it’s not exactly what I expected. 

The series does not pull any punches. Characters are killed- a lot more than you remember.  It’s obvious from the start that Northstar is gay. Aurora constantly grapples with mental illness. However, apart from those on Omega Flight, most of the villains are forgettable. Does anyone remember Deadly Ernest, Gilded Lily, or Master of the World? I’m sure if you read the comic back in the day, these villains slip your mind. Still, I’m glad I have this volume. 

  For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Solar, Man of the Atom: Second Death (Superhero)

by Jim Shooter, Don Perlin (Illustrator), Barry Windsor-Smith (Illustrator)

Publisher: Valiant (1994)

Softcover, 150 pages

Amazon Listing

This is the four issues of the second arc rebrand by Valiant comics of Dr. Solar: Man of the Atom. It was written by Jim Shooter after his ignoble exit from Marvel, where he help to solidify some of the best plots for Marvel and steered it to number one in the industry. Plus he wrote Secret Wars, which was my introduction to the comic industry. That and G.I. Joe # 24. Shooter attempted to recreate the second golden age of comics (the 1980s) over which he founded and presided over a new company.

Unlike the other company to attempt to do this in the 1970s - Atlas/Seaboard - Valliant made a valiant effort. Its downfall was the same reason nearly every other small publishing company went bust in the mid-1990s, the implosion of the comic industry. The company was sold off to Acclaim Entertainment and while Valiant is technically still around, it isn’t the same company. But then what comic company is nowadays?

Dr. Solar, if you remember, was originally published by Gold Key comics in the 1960s and it reads as such. It was a cut above the others with a consistent villain and some of the best covers ever produced for comic. When reincarnating the character however, Shooter took the route that D.C. did when reintroducing the Flash back into their fold. The old series was a comic that the new protagonist of the series used to read as a kid. In this case however, his nuclear accident, giving him powers over all energy, also allowed him to cause the manifestation of the original fictional Man of the Atom.

What has happened previously is that the new Solar, has accidentally destroyed the world and now travels back in time to prevent himself from recreating the accident. Not only does he have to struggle against his younger self, but the new Solar, unaware that he is fictional, brands him a villain. A decent story, but it might get a little confusing if you hadn’t read the previous volume Alpha and Omega. Still if you like the older Solar, you will appreciate this. The author has obvious affection for the character, while still making a few jokes at the old series expense.

  For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Starve (Science Fiction)

by Brian Wood  (Author), Danijel Zezelj (Artist), Dave Stewart (Artist)

Publisher: Image Comics (January 19, 2016)

Softcover, 120 pages

Amazon Listing

This is part one of a two-part series. In a dystopian future, the most popular TV show is Starve, a decadent, often illegal, cooking show using violence and illegal animals to create truly exotic dishes. Its creator returns after years in self-imposed exile and believes the show is now a stain on a once-noble profession. He is ready to go to war to stop it. Three things stand in his way: his arch rival, his revenge-fueled ex-wife, and his adult daughter Angiel.

Every time Brian Wood comes up with a new comics, it's always something which hasn't been done in comics before. From alternate history, to stories of the Vikings, to a future warzone that was once NYC, etc. This story is no exception. The premise sounds like a boring idea, but the execution is amazing. Somehow the artist and writer made the preparation of food gripping and drama ridden on the flat page.

Zezilj's art is moody and expressive, perfectly suited to the dystopian nightmare world where the financial divide is nearly irreparably distant. There’s always something deeper going on than the surface layer of the story that Brian Wood tells. Starve is about the gap between the rich and the poor. It’s about the over-consumption of resources by the privileged. It’s about the waste and excess and greed that kills the environment and assures that the poor will continue to starve. It’s about the difference between pride in doing something well and the desire to be recognized for doing something well.

  For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Confessions of a Cereal Eater (Autobiography)

by Rob Maisch  (Author), Bo Hampton (Illustrator), Scott Hampton (Illustrator)

Publisher: Nbm Pub Co (February 1, 1996)

Hardcover, 64 pages

Amazon Listing

This is an unusual book. People seem to either love it or hate it, depending on how close in age and economic situation they are to the author. This is a collection of five autobiographical tales of varying success, detailing the misspent youth - more or less - of the author. The stories range from when he was very young, to early middle age. The stories of early age and high school are the best, ones which everyone can relate to easily. However, he shows himself to be sexually repressed, socially awkward, and kind of a jerk as he grows older. One who still has passions for the joys of his youth, but can’t emotionally handle adult situations and setbacks without childish explosions or sulking.


Each story is drawn by a different artist, but there is a consistency in look and tone running across all of the stories, and remains one of the strongest reasons to read the book. The first story, “Slow Dance” deals with the author’s tribulations at a middle school dance where he’s bullied by jerks, turned down by girls, but eventually the miracle of a first kiss occurs. In “Mean Old Man” the author and some of his buddies take on the neighborhood crank and eventually do enough to run him out of town.

The next tale, “Griffin Love and the Hooker” is a hearsay story about how a pal of the author claims he lost his virginity. A time jump happens in the next story, “Klingon Battle Helmet”, where the writer is in his 20s. He and a friend rip-off a kid with a fake Star Trek collectible. Finally the last one, “Back in the Saddle” is a retread of the old homily “never meet your heroes.” As the author, now manager of a plaza, brings the star of an old Western TV show to promote it and deals with all normal problems surrounding an alcoholic washed-up celebrity. A decent read for the right price.

   For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.