Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bryant Has Issues #44

Going on two months since the last Bryant Has Issues.  Perhaps I should have a standardized spiel about how the delay was unintended, so forth, etc., that I can just copy-n-paste into the beginning of each one of these things going forward.

To tell the truth, though, I've been waiting on purpose.  For what?

For this:

As you might recall, when last we spoke of Joe Hill NOS4A2 spinoff Wraith, the carload of merry convicts was arriving at Christmasland.  We deeply suspected that nothing good would happen to them once they arrived, and the cover to issue #4 is a strong indication that our suspicions were well-founded.

As always, I'm reluctant to go too in-depth with these comic reviews, because I know the majority of people who read comics do so via graphic novel, and not via single-issue.  With deference toward those folk in mind, here is a list of the events of Wraith #4:
  • Charlie Manx gets some sugar.
  • "Oh, no! The fat man is hurt! He's hurt bad! He needs a doctor!"  "It's a Christmasland emergency!"
  • There is a rabbit-inside-the-hat trick.
  • Dewey gives Charlie Manx a hand.
  • Chess Llewellyn -- via flashback -- plays a brief game of golf.
  • "Um. It would put holes in my bear costume. I really like my bear costume."
  • "you will need a special ride to leave"
The art by CP Wilson III is exceptional.  This issue gives him the opportunity to do some seriously creepy things with the denizens of Christmasland, and Hill's dialogue is gleefully macabre in aid of the imagery.  All things told, this issue is some of the most potent horror that Hill has yet produced.

We close with a preview of the next issue:

I especially like the cameo appearance by ole 'bominable back there.  I hope those kids won't treat him too poorly!  He's only got a toothache, after all.

And while we're at it, howsabout the variant cover for this issue:

Aw . . . bunny rabbit has a sad.

Moving along, we come now to the first new issue of Scott Snyder's The Wake in a while:

This issue begins the much-praised series' second half, and it moves the story fully into the 200-years-hence future, which was teased throughout the first five issues.

Unsurprisingly, the story works well once it gets there.

The character pictured on the cover is named Leeward.  She is a sort of smuggler, but one with ideals; she's trying to find info on how to permanently defeat the mer-creatures, and in doing so, she is evidently in danger of running afoul of the Arm (which seemingly is short for Army) and getting herself in deep poo-doo.

She has also has a badass pet dolphin whom she uses to help catch and decapitate the mer-creatures, whose eye-sacs contain a substance than can be used as a drug.

This is good stuff.  The art by Sean Murphy continues to impress, and Snyder seems right at home telling a combination sci-fi/horror tale.

Bring on the last four issues!

We've got two issues of Snyder's Batman to catch up on.  In the first, #27:
  • There is a flashback to a Tokyo nightclub in 1946 that I did not understand.
  • Batman wears a gask mask.
  • Batman goes for a swim.
  • Batman creates an impromptu jetpack.
  • Batman catches a ride from Jim Gordon.
  • Gordon makes a confession about the circumstances of the murder of Bruce's parents.
  • The Riddler buries Batman.  I'm sure it'll stick.
Pretty good issue, especially all the Jim Gordon stuff.

On to #28:
  • As it turns out, "a secret glimpse into Batman Eternal" means a break from the Zero Year arc, and a story co-written by Snyder with James Tynion IV.
  • Batman Eternal, incidentally, is an upcoming weekly -- yes, weekly -- Batman comic that's scheduled to run for some sixty issues, and will be written by multiple people, including Snyder.  I'm undecided as to whether I plan to buy it.  This issue of Batman tempts me toward buying it.
  • On the other hand, I don't care for the "backdoor pilot" aspect of this.  I've been feeling rather blase toward "Zero Year," and am mostly going to be glad when Snyder moves on to a different story.  This issue delays that eventuality even longer.
  • But...
  • It's pretty good.  Harper Row gets some serious time, and we find out -- spoilers, lol -- that in the near-future (where Batman Eternal is set), she becomes a new Bat-Family sidekick, Bluebird.  I'm all for that.
  • We also, on the final page, find out something else.  I won't say what.  It's about a certain character's return.  That's all yer gettin' from me, copper!
  • The story of this issue: Batman and Bluebird infiltrate a new nightclub, which is run by Selina Kyle.  They are trying to find help in combating some sort of plague which is sweeping through Gotham.
  • Sixty weekly issues at $2.99 a pop, man.  I dunno . . . that's $180.  Do I really want to spend $180 on a Batman series which'll be only about a quarter written by Scott Snyder?  Tough decision.

Issue #9 of The X-Files: Season 10 is a one-shot monster-of-the-week/month story about...

Well, let's just check out the first three pages, shall we?

That's a promisingly gross beginning, and it made me kind of happy, in some weird way that only vintage X-Files can do.

Unfortunately, the rest of the issue is mostly a letdown.  The resolution doesn't make a whole lot of sense, the Greg Scott art is inconsistent, and the colors by Art Lyon are flat and unappealing.  It's not a terrible issue, but it's also not a particularly good one, sad to say.

The third arc of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga comes to a close with issue #18, and it is a humdinger, boy.

Reluctant to provide specifics, I offer out-of-context hints:
  • "This is a Lying Cat, and Lying Cats always play by the rules.  At least they're supposed to.  But not today."
  • "Nothing is ever easy."
  • Izabel takes on a new shape.
  • A computer finishes rebooting.
  • "They deserved better than you could give."
  • "Hey, you two assholes want to cover a story about a robot?"
  • "TIME JUMP!"
  • And, as always, the best letters column in the bidness.

We discussed Marvelman Miracleman way back in issue #26 of Bryant Has Issues, by which I mean mostly that I posted a cover gallery of the '80s Alan Moore issues of that title.  Famously, the series (which, after Moore left, was written by some up-and-comer named Neil Gaiman) had never been reprinted, and was not available except via (occasionally expensive) used-comic markets.

Well, since that post, Marvel Comics acquired the rights to Marvelman Miracleman and announced that they would be reprinting all of Moore's issues, plus all of Gaiman's issues . . . leading into Gaiman writing new stories featuring the character.  Having read only Moore's run, I don't know the specifics, but Gaiman was evidently unable -- for legal reasons of some sort -- to finish writing his story.  Which makes this resumption of the series after a LOOOOOOONG dormancy rather exciting for comics fans in general, Moore fans in particular, and Gaiman fans particularly in particular.

Considerably less excited: Moore himself, who has lived up to his reputation as a grumpy old sod and refused to allow Marvel the right to use his name anywhere in the book, including on the cover.  The credits page credits "The Original Writer" for the story, which, frankly, is just plain silly.  Hey, look, Alan Moore, man . . . I love ya.  But don't you think this is going a bit too far?

Especially given how great the work itself is.  In many ways, Marvelman Miracleman is a nearly-as-good precursor to Watchmen, which itself is one of THE seminal works of all comics history, and perhaps of all 1980s literature of any medium.  Just on that basis alone, Marvelman Miracleman would be worth your time to read.

It's better than that, though.

Here's a bit of what the first three reprint issues hold:

We begin with a ten-page prologue set in 1956, and both written and drawn in the style of comics of that era.  The story here is credited to Mick Anglo, who created the Marvelman Miracleman character in 1954.  This particular story seems to have made its first appearance in the first 1985 issue of the revamped comic.  It served a purpose there, and it serves the same purpose here: to evoke a different era, and to provide the means by which a transition can be made.

So, let's do this.  Let's just look at all ten pages, and follow them up with that eleventh page, the transitional one.

"It is 1981, 25 years in the future..."  Zoinks!!!  25 years in the future, you say?!?  And there is a Science Gestapo!!!  Man, that's great; somebody tell Fox News about this so they can launch an investigation of this "Science Gestapo."

It's kind of charming that the Kommandant's Zod-like exhortations are greeted with laughter by the local yokels.  If I ever get to make a Marvelman Miracleman movie, the line "Kneel, primitives, before the Science Gestapo!" WILL be included in it.

Having never really read any of the original Marvelman Miracleman stories, I don't know for sure; but I suspect that "I've accidentally broken his jaw!" line is a bit of self-satire on Mick Anglo's part.  That's the sort of thing that you'd expect to see in one of Alan Moore's '50s/'60s pastiches, to be honest.  Coulda come straight out of 1963, for example.

"Speaking the secret key harmonic of the universe, Micky changes . . . into the mighty Miracleman!"  Marvelman Miracleman was obviously a . . . um . . . homage to Shazam.  But using a single word to change into a superhero is pretty damn cool, no matter WHO is using it.  This makes me wonder; does Marvel Studios now hold the film right to Miracleman?  If so, that'd have major potential.

"Ha ha! These guards weren't expecting to be bombarded with rare magnetic gases from our secret video rings!"  Well, to be fair, why would they be?  (This sort of thing is easily lampooned, but I find it hard to deny how appealing its sincerity is.  And let's have ZERO mistake about it: there is a very conscious intent behind placing us in this aw-shucks, simpler-times-were-goofy-but-I-kind-of-miss-them frame of mind at the outset of the story.  Was this Moore's idea?  It seems likely, and it's very cool that he -- I'm assuming -- recruited Marvelman creator Mick Anglo to execute that part of the plan.)

The plot device of the heroes flying into the future to defeat the Kommandant before he even departs for "our" time is one that certainly seems like it would have come from the fifties.  But I bet if I had read something like that at the age of eight or nine, it would have blown my mind.
You almost feel sorry for the poor Kommandant.  It's satisfying to see someone hoisted on their own petard, but it always bums me out on their behalf just a little, too.

"I'm the commander, twelfth area, World Police."  Uh-oh.  Has the New World Order come to pass.  Wait . . . is the Science Gestapo actually dedicated to combating the New World Order?!?  Oh, dear!  Were they good guys?!?  Nah, probably not.  Either way, it all ends in one of those great forced group-laughs, which then itself leads into this:

I am hard-put to explain exactly why, but this page moves me nearly to the point of tears.  I often want to take the time to try and figure out why I have reactions like that, when I have them; for now, I'm content to preserve the mystery for myself, and just feel it.  Incidentally, it is not clear whether Moore was responsible for the layout, and for the use of the Nietzsche quotation, but it certainly feels like Moore, doesn't it?

From this page, we transition to a very different art style (art courtesy of Garry Leach), and we find Michael Moran dreaming; specifically, he is dreaming of being Miracleman, and of a horrible accident that claimed the lives of two of his closest friends.  When he awakes, he is obviously confused, and we quickly come to understand that this man has no clue that he is Miracleman.  It seems he has not been his better self in quite some time.

However, he (as a reporter) is soon covering a protest at a nuclear power plant, which leads to his being present for a group of terrorists who attempt to steal some plutonium.  All day long -- and possibly for longer -- he has been trying to remember a word, a word that is on the tip of his tongue, but won't quite fall off of it; he is beaten into submission by a terrorist, dragged across the floor, and sees the word ATOMIC reflected, backwards (CIMOTA) in a glass door.  He knows, now: the word is "kimota."

He speaks it, and Miracleman appears again, for the first time in eighteen years.  "Eighteen years," the radiant superhero speaks to himself, wonderingly, disgustedly.  "Eighteen yearsl, trapped in that old, tired body."  And he takes flight.

Back at home, Michael's wife, Liz, is surprised to find a superhero standing in her house.  She does not recognize him as her husband, and so he tells her his origin story.  She is incredulous.  "I'm sorry, Mike," she says, "but that's such a bloody stupid story!  Can't you see it?  An "astro physicist" pops up and tells you the "key harmonic of the universe" . . . which just happens to turn you into a muscleman in a blue leotard?  I'm sorry, Mike, I really am, but that's just so stupid!"

Liz is similarly incredulous over names like "Dicky Dauntless" and is none too shy about it.  "Look," she says, "I'll accept the fact that you're somehow a foot taller, you're twenty years younger and you're still my husband.  Lord knows why, I just will.  But all this other stuff.  Miracleman FamilyYoung Nastyman?  Mike, if there had really been a Miracleman in the fifties, wouldn't I have heard about that?"

We kind of feel where Liz is coming from.  (And if we, as readers, have no previous familiarity with the character, we'll feel it doubly.)

But in the last few panels, as we see someone watching news footage of what appears to be a man flying away from an attempted plutonium heist, we know that someone believes what Liz can't: that Miracleman has returned.  This mysterious figure smashes a desk into with a single blow from his fist.

That's only about half of the first Marvel reprint issue, though.  We get a load of bonus features, such as a history of the character's real-life origins, a conversation with Mick Anglo, and a full issue's worth (23 pages!) of black-and-white reprints of classic Marvelman -- YES, Marvelman, and not "Miracleman" -- stories.  All of which makes this issue's $5.99 price tag decidedly more palatable.

In issue #2, we find out who that mysterious figure at the end of #1 was: it's none other than Johnny Bates, the Young Miracleman himself, whom Miracleman thought had died in 1963.  Nope.  Not at all.  He's been alive ever since, and has been living in his Young Miracleman body, as opposed to the weak and insubstantial one of Johnny Bates.  He's started a fabulously successful cybertech company, and has gone more than a bit insane.

The specifics of all this are a little daffy, and they sort of don't make all that much sense.

It's a good excuse for some great Garry Leach art, though:

This seems like an opportune moment to mention that these 2014 reprints ARE different in some ways to the originals.  For example,m the art has been "restored" (whatever that means), and the colors have seemingly been entirely redone.  I'd be curious to know more about the recoloring; was it to bring the project more in line with Alan Moore's original scripts, or did it ignore his intent in order to just make the book look more modern and consistent?

Either way, I think I think that the new versions are an improvement.  (I'm being wishy-washy because I've spent very little time comparing the 1985 versions to the 2014 versions, so I'm leaving myself some wiggle room in case I later decide to change my mind.  I'm a potential flip-flopper!)  But I'll let you be the judge.  Here are the same pages as they appeared in 1985:

I don't dislike the '85 colors, but I think I prefer the '14 redo.

Elsewhere, issue #2 includes a ten-page story set several years in the future, in which Miracleman and a Warpsmith are attempting to harness enough power to continue their apparently-none-to-successful war against an unnamed enemy.  Can we safely assume, given the placement of this peek into MM's future, that the "enemy" is one Johnny "Kid Miacleman" Bates?  Well, duh.  Yes, of course we can.  Anyways, the story involves the Warpsmith taking Miracleman through time to combat himself at several key points; doing so unleashes massive amounts of power, which the Warpsmith harvests and stores.  He then erases the memories of the bouts from the minds of the previous incarnations of Miracleman, which is a nifty trick.

The issue ends with some vintage Marvelman reprints, showing the origins of Marvelman and of Kid Marvelman.  Your tolerance for these stories will vary depending on how much love you have for comics of that era; I'm glad to have them here, though.  I wish Marvel wasn't charging $4.99 per book for this stuff, but I'm so glad to have Miracleman in print again that I'm willing to help underwrite it to the tune of $4.99 per month.  I guess.

Issue #3 picks up with a massive battle between Bates and Miracleman, which ends in a surprising manner that might have some people crying "cop-out!" but worked pretty well for me.  This leads us into the next phase of the story, in which the government gets involved, albeit from the comfort and safety of the shadows.  We learn the the government and military had secret roles to play in the 1963 incident that put Miracleman out of action for a while; that was no accident.  And now, with the "monsters" back, a hitman is hired to sanction them again: Evelyn Cream, who reminds me a bit of Mr. Big from Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die.  I don't necessarily mean that as a compliment, either.  Cream is pretty damn cool, though; arguably less so in 2014 than he would have been in 1985, but such is life and the passage of time.

Elsewhere in the issue, Liz and Mike run some tests on Miracleman's powers.  She makes some hypotheses about how all of this can be possible, and she also informs Mike that she's missed her last two periods . . . and that the baby is Miracleman's, not his.  Wha...?!?

Meanwhile, Cream -- aided by the government files on Project Zarathustra (which is to do in some way we do not yet know with what happened in 1963) -- tracks down Mike, having determined that of all the people present at the nuclear power plant incident, he is the most likely to be connected to the flying superhuman.  It's logical detective work, and Cream is brutal in its pursuit.  He's also rather brutal when he comes face to face with Mike.

And that is where we leave it until issue #4 hits the stand later this month.  I'll probably refrain from being this in-depth with the recaps; but in the case of these three issues, it seemed warranted.

The fun-with-form hijinks continue in the antepenultimate issue of Jeff Lemire's Trillium.  This was not, in my opinion, one of the stronger issues of the miniseries; it seems to serve mainly to get from Point A to Point B.  Which is okay; sometimes, comics have to do that.  And I had a headache when I read this issue, which is not the opportune way to have to read a comic that has a sequence like this one:

Picked the wrong day to take it easy on my caffeine intake, yessir...

I don't have a huge amount to say about it, I guess, but here's another issue of The Star Wars, which continues to be very cool.  Ever want to see Han Solo wielding a lightsaber?  Well, you'll get your wish in this issue, provided your mental image of Han Solo can be readjusted to look like this:

Elsewhere, there is dialogue between Annikin and the Princess that is so incredibly awful that it makes the dialogue between Anakin and Padme in Attack of the Clones seem like David Milch.

I feel the need to prove this:

Wow.  One assumes that gems like "She loves me and I just realized -- I love her" come straight from Lucas's original screenplay, and not from comic scripter J.W. Rinzler.  Calling that "ham-handed" is an insult to anthropomorphic swine everywhere!

That's it for new comics, but before we sign off, here's a vintage Alan Moore miniseries I wanted to showcase:

I knew virtually nothing about the character Deathblow prior to reading this three-part miniseries.  And I knew even less coming out of it, given that he doesn't actually appear in it.  Doing a wee bit of research (i.e., reading the character's Wikipedia page) told me a few things about the character, but they were mostly irrelevant to my enjoyment of this miniseries.

Let's back up for a moment.

After his public breakup with DC, Moore eventually found himself doing some work-for-hire at the newly-formed Image Comics, including a few Spawn one-offs.  The history of Image is tangled and thorny, and I'm not even a knowledgeable amateur on the subject, much less an expert.  Suffice it for to say that what began as a bit of hire-work eventually became something much more significant: Moore's relationship with Image (and related offshoots like Wildstorm, Extreme Studios, Maximum Press, and Awesome Entertainment) lasted the better part of a decade, and culminated in the creation of his own imprint, America's Best Comics.  Through the ABC line, Moore eventually launched several of his most highly-regarded titles: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Top 10, Tom Strong, Promethea, and Tomorrow Stories, all of which are one sort of brilliant or another.

That was the culmination of Moore's time at Image/Wildstorm/etc., and the triumphs of the ABC line have helped to make the years leading up to them a bit obscure for the average comics reader.  Over the next few installments of Bryant Has Issues, I'm going to try and shine a little light on this era of Moore's work.  It is, for my money, under-appreciated, and deserves to be trumpted a bit.  We'll look at his Spawn work, his lengthy runs on WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams and Supreme, and his never-to-be-fulfilled plans to create a massive shared universe using Youngblood.  It's all interesting, and the best of it (Supreme) is absolutely terrific.

We're going to start, however, with Deathblow: Byblows, for no better reason than that that is where I feel like starting.

Michael "Deathblow" Cray was a Jim Lee co-creation who first appeared in 1992.  He was a highly competent Navy SEAL who later became deliberately exposed to something called the Gen Factor (which, if my research is correct, is what gives people superpowers in this particular comics universe) during a mission sanctioned by I.O.  I.O. is short for International Operations, which is a shadowy American military branch, or something like that.  I'm not entirely sure what his powers end up being, on account of knowing nothing about the character; but resurrection powers and Wolverine-esque regenerative powers seem to be part of them.

In any case, Deathblow was killed off in 1997 by Moore himself during a big crossover event called Fire from Heaven, and a couple of years after that, Byblows appeared.  Here's how it begins:

I've got several things to say about this.  First, it's awesome.  Second, the art is awesome.  (That's courtesy of Jim Baikie, who previously worked with Moore on Skizz and would later work with him on the frequently-hilarious "First American" segments of Tomorrow Stories.)  Third, when I read this, I had no bloody clue what was going on.  Who is this hot, badass bald chick?  Is she Deathblow?  Probably not, but IF not, then why are we focusing on her instead of the character the comic is, you know, named for?

Indeed she is not Deathblow.  We will eventually learn that her name is Genevieve Cray, and that she is a female clone of Michael Cray.  So, in a sense, she is Deathblow . . . except not really.

We will eventually learn that she is not alone in this strange landscape, and that some of her neighbors are none too benevolent:

There is some tusslin', and some shootin', and some punchin', and then they fall off of a huge, gorgeous sci-fi waterfall:

Genevieve emerges as the (seeming) victor, and goes on her merry, non-verbal way.  Before long, she runs into a weird-looking little kid in a tuxedo, and they go off together, strolling along a lush sci-fi landscape under a lovely sci-fi moon:

At this point, I had almost literally no clue what I was reading.  And from what I can gather, that would have been changed only very marginally if I'd been totally familiar with the Deathblow character.  Genevieve Cray had never appeared before; neither has Klaus, the cyborg assassin she fought, or this tuxedoed boy she encounters.  In other words, Moore designed all of this to make Deathblow readers say, "Huh?!?!?  The fuck is this?!?!?"

It's all rather striking, though.  The art is a massive part of this, but let's not sell Moore's script short, either; it's lacking in many of the normal Moore qualities, such as copious dialogue, existential philosophy, and satirical humor.  And yet, I found it to be marvelously paced and, for the most part, riveting.

You may have noticed from the samples I've provided that there are a large number of splash panels/pages.  That's somewhat atypical for Moore, who is more prone to multi-panel pages and dense levels of content.  He is also famed for his descriptive scripts, which will frequently spend an entire page or more describing in excruciating -- and fascinating -- detail what one individual panel should contain.  Not all comics writers work that way; in fact, few do, and most prefer to give the artist a much freer hand.  Moore, though, is not your average writer, and his tendency is to give his artists vast amounts of direction.

It will, perhaps, escape your notice that almost all Moore-scripted comics tend to have absolutely smashing artwork.  Coincidence?  Don't you believe it.

However, the frequent use of splash pages and splash panels in Byblows makes me think that Moore was probably not all that engaged with the material.  It almost feels as if the miniseries is some sort of contractual obligation, one that he tossed off with as little of his typical exhausting artist-direction as possible.  Fewer pages and panels, after all, mean a quicker job of writing the scripts.  Is that cynical of me?  Maybe.  But it feels true, somehow.

And if that's the case -- if Byblows was essentially an afterthought, tossed off to fulfill an obligation of some sort -- then it almost makes the whole thing seem that much better.  If this is Moore farting around, what can he do when he's engaged?

Moore readers already know the answer to that question, of course.  He can Watchmen, From Hell, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, is what he can do.

In any case, whether he was fully engaged with the project or not -- and to be fair, he may well have been (an alternative reading of the spare dialogue and extensive splash-page use is that he was successfully trying to evoke a huge alien landscape, as well as an efficiently pared-down mindset for his heroine) -- Byblows ends up as an exciting, compelling sci-fi action/mystery tale.  Genevieve herself is a very cool lead character.  Not gonna lie to you: I'm a little bit smitten by her.  Check out what happens when she stumbles into a nearby town in the second issue and finds herself some real clothes:

"Nice," indeed.

There is plenty more to the story.  Other Cray clones show up, and some of them are even weirder than Genevieve.  One isn't even human!  The big bad is eventually revealed (it's not who you're probably thinking it is), and the whole thing comes to a surprising conclusion that 85% works great and 15% doesn't work at all, but that math equals "just fine by Bryant" to me, so it's all good.

Used copies of these three issues are pretty cheap to find.  They are also, somewhat confusingly, contained in the collection DC Universe by Alan Moore, a collection that, um, collects most of Moore's one-shots and miniseries written for DC.  Byblows was a Wildstorm publication, but since by that point DC had purchased Wildstorm, I guess they figured it was good enough.  They include a Majestic one-shot and a Voodoo miniseries, as well, plus a WildC.A.T.s story, too.  It's a pretty good book, if you don't mind the content not entirely matching the mission statement of the title.


That's it for this week, True Believers.  I may or may not let this column lie fallow until another Joe Hill comic rolls around; time will tell!


  1. Let's see if I can successfully leave a comment this time...

    Those Marvelmans/ Miraclemans are just so great. I can't wait to sit down and read them start to finish. Years ago I had a tpb that collected some of Gaiman's work on the title, and it was just beyond my paygrade at the time I read it. (It also probably didn't help that the trade was an epilogue of sorts to decades of stories on the title, so I was lost.)

    Those excerpts are great. The Science Gestapo would appear to be the dark side of the Science Police (a concept I always loved, because what the hell does it mean, really??) from Legion of Superheroes. Another team/ comic I've always meant to learn more about and never have. (I seem to have some kind of involuntary reaction against both Legion of Superheroes and Teen Titans - despite many recommendations and many sincere attempts, I just can't do it. I've had better luck with Legion, since I just love Silver Age stuff in general, but still.)

    Similarly, I need to read all the old Marvel Family / Whiz Comics stuff. I admire some of it from a distance, although Golden Age comics are sometimes not the most fun for me (despite being fascinated by them.) But Morrison's Supergods covered it quite extensively and I was inspired to get a cd-rom with a whole bunch of it. One of these days. I'll start there, make my way through Legion and then Marvel/Miracleman. See you in 2027.

    That Nietszche page with the zoom-in on Marvelmans smiling face is just genius.

    Never read this Byblows stuff - looks fun, though. I agree, too: that period of Moore's output is often overlooked. And there was so much of it!

    I remember defending (tongue in cheek-ly) the dialogue in 'Attack of the Clones' by saying it's written for kids, i.e. this is what kids imagine adults sound like. It was a way of not getting hung up on the atrocious dialogue in that movie, not a sincere defense, i.e. a coping mechanism. But holy moley - those Star Wars panels are staggering. Like a lot of Frank Miller's more recent work, you just stare at the page, asking yourself if you're missing something, because surely this can't be meant to be taken at face value?

    1. Now, to be fair, I know very little of the process behind the making of these "The Star Wars" comics. So what I'm about to say might be totally off-base. But it is my assumption that Rinzler is more or less tied to the original screenplay (whatever draft of it Lucas agreed to allow to be used for this project), in terms of contractually being obligated to use all of the dialogue, etc. His job, then, consists of laying the screenplay out into sequential format, which he then turns over to the artist.

      I imagine Rinzler reaching that particular section of the screenplay and simply staring at it dumbly, the way a janitor at Walmart must stare inside a toilet stall that has been victimized by someone who can't quite aim their various functions and has splattered the floor and wall with their horrific leavings. "Is this job worth keeping?" they must ask themselves. "If I just turned around and walked out of here, could I survive it? I mean, SOMEBODY would finish the job, right? It doesn't really need ME..."

      Which, in some ways, seems to be Alan Moore's attitude toward . . . well, just toward things in general, maybe. It bums me out on his behalf that his name isn't appearing on these "Miracleman" reprints. I mean, most people who buy it will already know who wrote it, I guess. But still. I'm all for Alan Moore doing whatever he needs to do to retain his essential Alan-Moore-yness, but at the same time, I wish he wasn't so contrary; a lot of people only know him from website headlines, and in those, he tends to come off as a grade-a curmudgeon. Either way, it's great to have this terrific work of his back in print.