Saturday, March 10, 2018

Xombi - The Series You Missed

So, the answer to the quiz the other night was the little known series, Xombi, written by John Rozum, illustrated by J.J. Birch, and colors by Noelle Giddings which was one of the last books published under the Milestone Imprint from DC.  So, why did I read this?  Well, my LCS recently picked up a large collection of Milestone books and luckily he got every issue of the series.  Sometimes, you just have to take a chance on the older stuff.

This week I read the first 12 issues with issues 1-5 comprising the first arc, issues 7-11 the second, and issues 6 and 12 are the "down time" stories for additional characterization for all the characters.

These issues reminded me of the early issues of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol before it got too weird, too random, and too esoteric.  There's a level of bizarre that you don't get from your normal superhero books and it's wonderful.

For the good and the bad, see below the break.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Remembering Billy Graham and When Archie Shared the Same Message


Last week my daughter Evelyn and I had a very special father-daughter outing on her Sweet 16 birthday.  We went to the US pay our respects to Billy Graham.  It was tremendous.  Not only was the weather picture-perfect and unusually warm for February, it was very moving to see his casket inside the Capitol Rotunda. The picture below is a screenshot from the C-SPAN coverage - That's me and her on the far left.

Why did we go? Just to be part of a historic event?  Because we revered him as a church leader? No.  We went to honor a humble servant of Jesus Christ, who was inspiring because he so was faithful in his calling to proclaim the Gospel to the lost souls of the world.  The memorial card shown below sums up his ministry in his own words:

Last Sunday, right before the Oscars began, Fox broadcast an excellent documentary of his life, entitled Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey.  I can't seem to get this link to work for me right now, but I hope it does for some of you, because you really should watch it.  To hear his booming voice again (especially in his younger years) express God's love and forgiveness and quote Scripture is thrilling to me, because I know that God's Word doesn't return void (Isaiah 55:11).  I also enjoyed hearing how he desegregated his crusades in the South (and was criticized for it) and the impact his crusades in Eastern Europe had on the end of the Cold War.  The Russians even invited him to a peace conference in the early-80s with intent to use him in propaganda, but God opened a door for him to speak boldly for Jesus.  Again, I highly recommend it even if your intent is only for the history part of it.

In case you think I may have violated Jim's directive that any of our uncensored and diverse views and commentary had to be somewhat associated with comics.  "Fear Not!" I wanted to share with you one of the Spire Christian Comics Archie books from 1973.  Even Elton John was singing about "Jesus Freaks" back then.  Was all of it legitimate or were people just taking up the latest fad?  I'm sure there was a little bit of both, but this comic is the real deal!

This book as well as all the Spire books were written and drawn by Al Hartley.  According to his wiki bio, he drew a long run of Patsy Walker issues for Marvel and was drawing a "nudie-cutie" strip for a men's magazine, when he became a Born Again Christian and decided to stop.  He was able to license the use of Archie for some of his comics.

The comic consists of a series of short Archie (or his "Pals 'N Gals") focused stories with the typical Archie humor.  There is also a few pages of direct evangelistic material. I started with scanning only a few pages, but I ended up scanning most of the book, because it's better to experience it yourself.  Click on the pictures (AFTER THE BREAK) to be able to read it better.  I apologize in advance if some of the pictures or gaps between text is a little screwy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Weekend Preview - Can you Guess The Series?

This weekend I'll be talking about a series you most likely didn't read but should have! 

So, this is the double page spread of the villain in issue #5.  He's the embodiment of pollution...

"Every footstep he takes releases toxins into the air. 
His very breath chokes the air with poison.
Everything he passes dies.  Pigeons, rats, turtles, impatient lovers grappling in the bushes.  Everything."

So can you figure out the series?

And yes, that's a stove pipe coming out his asss... butt.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Matthew: Year One (1977): Origin of the Comic Collector -- First Comics

It was too serendipitous that my return to blogging for Comics And so closely coincides with my 41st anniversary of collecting comics that I had to make my first post of our reboot about my first comics.  These days my short-term memory seems to be more Swiss-cheesed than Sam Beckett of Quantum Leap. (I couldn't remember the term "sciatica" the day after I suffered from perhaps my first bout with it last week.)  I chalk it up to advanced maturity or my James Bond style sleep schedule (you'll have to dig into the Ian Fleming novels to understand that reference).  Contrast that with some childhood memories, which never disappear.  Even though they may be faded and blurry like an old Polaroid or Fotomat 110 print, at least they're still present.  Fortunately (and I use that term linguistically for style rather than a belief in luck or fortune - "Blessedly" or "Thankfully" would be more accurate, but that would get old real fast),  we have physical evidence and ultra-cool online resources to help clear things up a bit.

The "high tech" (scotch-taped) photo stitch below depicts my original comic collection, then only a few months old circa May 1977. More detailed comments and recollections continue after the break...

Thursday, March 01, 2018

The Black Panther: A Discussion (or A Monologue, if no one comments)

Image result for black panther movie poster 

I have now seen The Black Panther twice in the last week. There’s so much about this movie that’s ripe for discussion that it could be a college course unto itself. Cultural significance. Feminism. Colonialism, past and present.  A binary view of the world. It’s a cornucopia of ideas and provocations for introspection, so much so that it should be on the Oscars list for 2018 movies, and that doesn’t even factor that it’s so big that it’s going to be a world culture touchstone. Better still, it’s highly entertaining in its milieu.


But I want to talk about two aspects of the movie. One is the question of Wakanda’s place in its fictional world. The other is the harm that damaged little boys can do as men.
Image result for killmonger's father

There’s been some discussion that N’Jadaka (Killmonger),and by extension W’Kabi, is correct to bring Wakanda to the world by force, overthrowing its tradition of isolation and secrecy, and installing itself as (benevolent) ruler over all. More, including director Ryan Coogler, support Nakia’s vision of Wakanda as a diplomatic, financial, and technological force for improving the lives of the downtrodden, particularly those descended from Africans taken from Africa as property.

Klaw describes Wakanda as El Dorado, hidden in Africa rather than South America, but the real world analogy to Wakanda is Switzerland. Both are small, mountainous nations formed from the joining of once warring tribes that have developed great wealth and comfort for their people by leveraging their resources and talents while maintaining neutrality and secrecy. Different sorts of secrecy, but secrecy nonetheless.


In recent decades Switzerland has been pressured to open its banking secrecy to benefit the wider world, particularly in pursuing criminal actions. No one argued that Switzerland should take over the world as a benevolent invader, though. No one even suggested that Switzerland owed the rest of the world any wealth or technology that other parts of the world might not have.
Image result for wakanda movie picture


Wakanda, operating quite similarly to Switzerland, is under a different burden that reflects the African diaspora and the fact that merely being black in America and the world is a political statement. There is no European diaspora that is the result of forcible relocation to other continents. Yes, the Irish fled in great numbers to America due to English oppression and famine, but they weren’t sold to America. On the whole the spread of Europeans around the globe is voluntary, often opportunistic at best and repressive or murderous of others at worst.


For The Black Panther, both the movie and the character, the Switzerland model is simply a non-starter for Wakanda. While that’s been the way for centuries, it can’t be the way of the future. The plight of other Africans and African descendants is not the same as the status of Europeans and European descendants. Is it fair to put that on Wakanda? The movie doesn’t ask if it’s fair. It asks if the balance between Wakandan safe borders and the health of the rest of the world should be changed and in what way.

A corollary question can be asked why those who advocate that Wakanda owes the world a more active, if not interventionist, existence don't advocate that the Jabari owe the world the same.  They're within Wakandan borders, but they're separate from both the world and the rest of Wakanda.  They're not so wealthy as the rest of Wakanda, but they're secure and prosperous.  Do they owe the world as well?


Coincidentally, a movie that started before anyone conceived of the regime now running the US is talking about the wealthiest fictional nation having an obligation to help the rest of the world without imposing its will on the world by force, while the US regime abdicates any form of help in the world that isn't granted via the recipient becoming a vassal state and exponentially expands the resources for forcing its will, albeit ineffectually implemented.  Not so coincidentally, the border force of Wakandan is as trustworthy with power as the border forces of the US.


Which brings us to damaged little boys. N’Jadaka is damaged by the loss of his father, N'Jobu, when he’s about 10 and by his subsequent childhood in Oakland. He carries that loss and the lessons of inequality that his father imparted before that loss to fixate on revenge for the slights the world has inflicted on him. But his revenge is directed to the whole world, regardless of culpability. He doesn’t seek justice for a wrong that may have been done to him or his father. He seeks revenge against everyone and cloaks it in a righteous mission to lift up the true people. He lies about Wakanda and its history.  It’s all very Trumpian.

Image result for killmonger's father's name


Trump is a damaged little boy, too. He wasn’t damaged in the impoverished streets of Oakland but in the wealthy skyscrapers of New York. He didn’t work and fight to achieve from little resources. He didn’t have the least intelligence. But he arrived on the stage of adulthood similarly self absorbed and willing to do anything to satisfy his desires for power, acceptance, and glory. He adopted a similar story of aggrieved righteousness for himself and the true people. He adopted the same martial mania.  He lies more prolifically than Gretzky scored goals. 

The result with both men is that they become destabilizing forces in the world, seeking the oppression of others to satisfy their own inadequacies.  Large scale death is just an acceptable collateral damage.  Both are willing to turn on an ally in an instant if it serves his own moment.

Much to ponder in The Black Panther.  That makes it art, politics, and entertainment of the highest quality.  That makes it worthy of honors from its industry.  But if those honors aren't forthcoming, they don't diminish The Black Panther.  They diminish the industry.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Return of the Opinionator

🎶Back in the saddle again...🎶


It’s been a few years. Having been gone so long, it’s only fair that I start with letting you know what I’m reading so you know what perspective I’m bringing to reviews and commentary. These are the singles I’ve bought over the last couple months.  No trades or other larger collections bought during that time, though I am reading the Golden Age Wonder Woman trade that I bought some months back.  We can talk about the ridiculous extent of the racism therein at a later time.


Archie Comics

Archie 27-28 - Waid, Mok, Fitzpatrick,Morelli


Boom! Studios

Abbott 1 - Ahmed, Kivela, Wordie


Dark Horse

Jenny Finn 2-4 - Mignola, Nixey, Stewart

Incognegro: Renaissance 1 - Johnson, Pleece



Doom Patrol 9, 10 - Way, Derington, Fowler, Bonvillian



Atomic Robo: The Spectre of Tomorrow 3, 4 - Clevinger, Wegener, Clark, Powell



Black Magik 10 - Rucka, Scott

Copperhead 17, 18 - Faerber, Moss, Riley, Mauer
Invincible 143, 144 - Kirkman, Ottley, Morales, Fairbairn, Wooten
Kill or Be Killed 15, 16 - Brubaker, Phillips, Breitweiser
Kill Or Be Killed #1

Lazarus: X+66 6 - Rucka, Trautman, Jones, Arcas, Wynne
Outcast 32, 33 - Kirkman, Azaceta, Breitweiser
Paper Girls 19, 20 - Vaughan, Chiang, Wilson, Fletcher
Royal City 8, 9 - Lemire
Sex Criminals 21 - Fraction, Zdarsky
Twisted Romance 1, 2 - various
The Walking Dead 175, 176 - Kirkman, Adlard, Gaudiano, Rathburn
The Wicked + The Divine Christmas Annual; 1923 - Gillen and various; Gillen, Koch, Cowles



The Mighty Thor 702, 703 - Aaron, Dauterman, Wilson
Moon Knight 190, 191 - Bemis, Burrows, Ortego, Lopes


Not on here due to hiatus are Saga by Vaughan and Staples and Bitch Planet by DeConnick and De Landro, which are easily two of my favorite books. Also on a hiatus (though returned after I started writing this) is Descender by Lemire and Nguyen, which is both a great story and some of the best water color art you'll find in comics.   Part of that Image dominance in my reading, but the creator owned books tend to be better, and Image has a track record of putting out high quality books.

Descender #28


I wasn’t reading much of the Big Two when we last put out this fantastic production and that hasn’t changed. I will pick up a book by a particular writer, but even writers I like when they own the work can be far less enjoyable when working under corporate restrictions. Moon Knight is the only one I’ve continued because I like where the character is going in spite of creator changes.


Next time, discussion of a specific book. Maybe Invincible, as I’m re-reading the whole thing, now that it’s come to the end.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: Lego DC Superheroes: The Flash Movie

Review: Lego DC Superheroes: The Flash Movie

Welcome back to Comics And… I’m posting again (because I’m procrastinating in studying for my class).

Image result for lego the flash movie
Story 4.5/5 stars
Animation: 4/5 stars (I mean, fine for a Lego movie)
Recommended age: All ages!!!

My son loves Legos. Probably because Legos are awesome. He and I share a love of superhero stories. Combined this results in watching a lot of Lego superhero themed stuff. We aren’t much of a Marvel family (although Lego Loki is a lot of fun) so he and I were pretty excited to watch the new(ish) Lego DC movie, The Flash.

In the past a majority of the Lego DC world has focused on Batman and the Bat-family and then slowly expanded into the Justice League. They even had appearances by the Legion in previous movies. Flash has not gotten much attention until now. Basically, they pull a lot of Flash’s personality from the Animated Series (even though Lego uses Barry, not Wally) but considering the kid-friendly focus it makes sense to have more of a happy and beloved Flash.

First, the good.

Pretty much everything. It was a cute story that starts off with a time loop scenario. Often time loops can be tedious and annoying but Lego keeps it short and even humorous.

The movie starts with the Atom being shown around JL headquarters as a prospective member. We get an appearance from both Ace the Bathound and Krypto. The Atom quickly dubs them (sarcastically) “superpets” which makes me enjoy this movie even more. Superpets are one of the most absurd concepts in the comic book realm and I always appreciate a cameo or two. As a bonus my son also loves the superpets (especially Ace).

The overall plot is decent. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece of storytelling here but it’s an easy to follow story despite time travel. The main bad guy is, of course, Reverse Flash, and Barry keeps running faster and faster to try and catch him allowing Reverse Flash to dump him in a time loop.
The part that was really well done with the time loop was how Barry keeps wrapping up all the tasks he had on the first time through the loop to the point where he delivers a bad guy to the JL before any crime was attempted.

Thankfully the writers only use the time loop as a starting point. The second part of the movie is split into 3 main stories – the Atom being stuck in his small mode, the JL trying to figure out what the Reverse Flash is up to, and Barry trying to tap back into the speed force.

Image result for lego the flash movie ace

My absolute favorite moment was Ch’p (or B’dg as I can’t tell them apart and missed the name when they said it – the Squirrel Green Lantern) showing up to help and being lumped in with the other superpets.

Now, the bad

Nothing was actually bad. All the Lego stuff has pretty obvious morals embedded into their stories which can get tiresome for an adult but are important for all the kids watching (this movie was stuff like take the time to slow down and have a plan). All the Lego media my son and I watch tends to have lessons like never give up, and always stand by your friends. This stuff gets pretty hammered in but for the elementary crowd its fairly appropriate.

Of course, Lego is trying to sell their products so they always have fancy new stuff you can buy in some kit being used for their movies. If your kids are bad about that kind of thing you may want to be warned ahead of time that there are absolutely several new DC Lego sets based on this movie (I don’t have this issue, but I know some parents like to know about all the product promotion).

Finally, Zantanna was pretty awful in this movie. Z is such a cool character and she was pretty much a throwaway in this story and written completely out of context. It was a weird call and strangely involved a musical number.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this movie for those of you with kids or those of you who are young at heart. I know my son and I will end up watching it again.