Monday, July 29, 2013


Before we get started, I just wanted to warn you that I’m going to sound like a raging asshole in this piece.  Anyone who complains about free shit is a raging asshole.  Still, something must be said about Free Comic Book Day, and I guess I’m going to have to be the one to say it.

Ready?  Here we go.

Free Comic Book Day, for the most part, sucks.  I’ve gone every year since it first started, and I’ve rarely come away pleased with the books.  Why?  Because FCBD is not for people who like comic books.  It’s for people who MIGHT like comics but can’t be bothered to ACTUALLY like comics.

The idea is to get those people into comic book stores to pick up their free comic.  (Or comics.  Some retailers let you have more than one.)  The hope is that they’ll like what they see so much that they’ll want to start reading that book on a regular basis.  It’s a perfect win for the comic book companies because they might get more readers and they don’t have to pay a single dime for it.

Oh, you didn’t know that, did you?  Yeah, all those free comics are not paid for by the publishers, they’re paid for by the retailers.  So if the free book doesn’t lead to a bigger readership, the retailers suffer for it, not the corporations.

Why would the retailers agree to something like this?  Simple:  they hope that the people who come in to pick up their free comic book will take a look around and buy something else while they’re at it.  And if they like all of that, they’ll come back on Wednesday for more.  Or they’ll want back issues.  And so on.

Here’s the problem:  people who don’t read comics on a weekly basis are probably not going to start simply because of a free book.  I will grant that when I went into Unicorn, my usual comic book store, on the most recent FCBD, it was more crowded in there than I’ve ever seen it.  People were looking around.  But the thing is, no one bought anything.  They were just looking.  I watched a lot of people while I was waiting, and the trend I notice was this:  walk in, take a look around, look at the free comics, pick one, and walk out.

Me?  I went in, grabbed my free books, and picked up about $60 of stuff on my pile.  Then, I went home and read the free books.  They were nothing but reprints, and if they had previews, it was for stuff I was already going to buy.

This leads me to believe that FCBD is not geared toward regular readers like me, and that’s a shame.  Without us, the industry would collapse.  (Not the companies, though.  They have a lot of Hollywood money and toy money coming in to keep afloat.  Lest ye forget, Marvel isn’t a comic book company, it’s a TOY company.)  One could argue that people who wait for trades actually keep the business going.  Not true.  Without guys like me, there would be nothing to collect in trades because there would be no single issues.

So . . . you’re welcome.

Anyway, it seems a shame that the very industry that we love wouldn’t at least throw us a bone.  Why not have some original content on FCBD?  I will give credit to Dark Horse last year (I think), when they had a new BUFFY story for FCBD, even though the story was lame.

Am I out of line for asking comic book companies to thank us for being such loyal fans?  Why reward the people who by and large don’t read your books?  Using new material instead of reprints is a win-win, anyway.  The people you’re trying to trick into buying comic books won’t be bothered by a new story.  It’s just the same as a reprint to them:  brand new.  However, we comic book fans DO care.  Why are you trying to alienate us?

Am I wrong here?  Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

COOL SHIT (and SHIT SHIT) 7-25-13

JUDGE DREDD #9:  The world of Dredd is pretty crazy sometimes, but this is the craziest to come from the new IDW series.  Dredd wanders out into the Cursed Earth, looking for a hovercraft that “could save Mega-City One.”  Instead, he finds a family of mutie hillbillies running an amusement park with some of the most ghastly rides ever.  My favorite is the Kamikaze Matterhorn.  One of these guys has the ability to touch someone and make them apathetic, which is what he does to Dredd, and now Dredd has to face off against all these freaks and even worse, the Mirrored Madhouse.  (And no, it’s not what you think it is.  It’s far more insidious.)

FERALS #16:  This time out, we take a break from Dale Chesnutt to explore the life of Major General Richard W. Arthur.  It’s a fascinating look at someone who was born Feral, but he never knew it.  Even now, he seems to be in denial.  Even after he finds himself in a life and death battle with another Feral.  And to top it all off, he’s kind of an important guy in the government . . . .

CROSSED:  BADLANDS #33:  It’s good to see David Lapham back on the series.  I wasn’t too impressed with Christos Gage’s story.  Now, we return to Amanda, Lorre’s old victim/survivor.  She’s still living in her fantasy world with her two companions, but now that’s about to be fucked.  It would seem that a group of religious Crossed have moved in on her territory . . . .  I miss Raulo Caceres on this book, though.  Miguel Ruiz isn’t bad, but Caceres is a fucking genius.

RED TEAM #4:  Whoops.  It seems that for all the planning that the Red Team goes through, they dropped the ball on this one.  Thinking to take out a Bernie Madoff type (except this guy was found not guilty), they off him without thinking that maybe the reason the guy got off in court was because he’d made a deal with the prosecution to turn weasel on his friends.  Now all of those guys are going to walk free.  Like I said, whoops.  This leads to a few changes in policy, but it’s not enough to keep certain members of the team for losing it in a questionable bar bathroom with a date rapist . . . .

And now for some SHIT SHIT!  That’s right, 3 books really disgusted me this week.  Let’s start with . . . .

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #22:  Ah yes.  Behold that cover.  Then take a look around inside to see that our boy John Constantine is hanging out with the big superheroes this issue.  Sure, he had a run in with Flash lately, but now he’s rubbing elbows with the likes of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.  And yes, he’s a bit snarky, but for the most part, he doesn’t give them any crap.  Since when does Constantine not give the capes a hard time?!  Oh right.  I’m sorry, I keep thinking this is MY Constantine, not the pisswarm version in the New 52.  This leads us directly to . . . .

CONSTANTINE #5:  JLD continues right into this issue with Constantine hanging out with Shazam.  Why would he do that?  Well, remember when I said, back when DC brought John Constantine back to the DCU, that they were going to turn him into a superhero?  I was speaking metaphorically.  I guess I was wrong.  In this issue, they turn him—quite literally—into a superhero.  I can’t believe it, either, but look at that picture above.  Do you think I made that up?  I can’t tell you how much this disgusts me.  And then there’s this happy horseshit:

ALL STAR WESTERN #22:  Yep, this asshole is Dr. Arkham’s great-great-grandson.  As much as I despised the idea of bringing Hex to his future—our present—at the very least, it got him away from having a sidekick.  That was worth a lot to me.  And now, even that is undone.  Yeah, this new Dr. Arkham is Hex’s new sidekick.  Oh, and by the way, it looks like they’ve given up on finding a backup story for each issue, but instead of taking pages out and letting us keep an extra dollar, they thought this story was so good that we needed more of it.  Fuck.  (One more thing:  it’s hinted that Hex will be hanging out with Batman in the next issue.  After what’s been going on with Constantine, that shouldn’t surprise me one bit.)

Monday, July 22, 2013


I’ve been a fan of Joe Hill’s since I picked up his first novel, HEART SHAPED BOX, when it was new.  I’d heard many good things about him, but I had not yet heard who his father was at the time.  I found out just before I started reading it, so comparisons to Stephen King were inevitable.  I’m glad to say that Hill’s work kicks a lot of ass, and I’d put it up against almost anything his old man has written.  (Almost.)

Imagine my surprise upon learning that Hill was going to be signing at Anderson’s in Naperville.  How many writers have I met there over the years?  It’s a great place to go for signings, if a bit tight, but as soon as I learned the news, I went to the bookseller’s website to check out the details.

Woe unto me!  You could only get a ticket for the event if you bought a copy of NOS4A2, his most recent novel, at the store!  I had preordered it from Water Street, and it came personally signed to me.  I had to sit down and think about whether or not it would be worth it to buy an extra copy of the book, just so I could meet the author.

The quandary didn’t last very long.  I ordered it at their website and got my ticket number:  59.  Not bad.  I guessed they could fit about a hundred people in there, so I was around the halfway mark.  Cool.  As for the extra book, I figured I could give it so someone as a gift, maybe my brother, Danny, whose birthday was coming up at the time.

Anyway, I gathered up my copies of HEART SHAPED BOX, 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS, and HORNS, as well as the first issue of LOCKE & KEY, the night before.  I drove out to Naperville the next day two hours in advance, knowing that traffic would be shitty, and that I wanted to get there early enough to get good parking and maybe a seat.

When I first walked into the store, I noticed that there was a camera crew hiding down an aisle.  Then, I noticed they weren’t hiding; they were filming.  Who?  Joe Hill, of course.  He’d gotten there early and was doing an interview.

I think this is the second signing I’ve ever gone to where the author has arrived not just on time, but early.  Chuck Palahniuk was the first.  I can’t get over how cool this is.  I’m just too used to authors showing up a half an hour late, fresh from the plane.

Later, I saw on Twitter that he’d mentioned getting there early and was “secret shopping” for books.  I have NEVER heard of an author shopping at the store before their event began.  How fucking cool is that?

All right, so I showed up early, but I still didn’t get a seat.  Couldn’t find one away from the signing, either.  I’d intended to pick up my book, sit down, relax, and start reading it until the event began.  Instead, I stood and started reading.  I wound up with an amazing spot, right behind the last row of seats.  I had the perfect vantage point of the table where he’d be speaking.

Still, the older I get, the harder it is to stand still in one place, especially if I’m trying to read while standing.  Have you seen how big NOS4A2 is?  It’s about 700 pages long, and I practically killed my arms holding it up so I could read for about a half an hour.  Even typing this the next day, I can feel the pain.

I spent some time getting acquainted with Charlie Manx and Vic McQueen while I waited.  Things got pretty crowded, as I expected.  It was hard to avoid being jostled while trying to read.  And then, Joe Hill strode out and stood behind the table.

At this point, everyone in the crowd held up their phones to get a picture of him.  You think I’m exaggerating?  No.  I mean EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THAT ROOM DID THIS.  Except for me.  I’m not a picture guy.  I think an experience is a bit more magical if you don’t record it.

And then, Hill whipped out his own phone and held it up to the crowd.  “Everyone,” he said, “say hi to Twitter!”

Can you point me out?

Wow.  This was quickly becoming one of the most fascinating signings I’d ever been to.

The next day, I saw his tweet, and I saw my own chubby grinning face near the back, waving my hand.

I’m sure you’ve seen a few pictures of him by now, and you’ve marveled at how much he looks like his father.  As soon as he opened his mouth, I realized that he also sounded exactly like King.  He doesn’t have much of the accent.  I think he tries to hide it a bit, but it comes out every once in a while.  As far as tone and volume go, he sounds like a thoughtful version of Jason Lee.

I will say this:  he reads better than his father does.  Hill read the prologue of NOS4A2, and not once did he ever sound goofy.  Nor did he drone.  King did both of those things when I’d met him about 15 years ago.

After this, he started the Q&A.  He mentioned that people sometimes got kind of shy when it came to this part, so to help matters, he said he would either ask himself questions, or he would find the person who looked the most timid and ask them if they knew the capital of Guatemala.  Everyone loosened up after that, and hands shot into the air.

Hill is an incredibly funny guy.  The only author I’ve seen at a signing who was quicker with a joke was Dave Barry, and well, you know.  He’s Dave fucking Barry.  Hill came off as a very nice, funny guy.  He seems to have accepted this part of being a writer very well, but I sensed there was maybe a little bit of apprehensiveness hidden behind all of this.  Later, when someone asked if being raised by two great writers ever had any negative effects, he mentioned being very insecure as a child.  I think there’s still a little bit of that in him, but he conducts himself very well.

Most of the questions were about his parents, his father in particular.  (One person seemed to know Stephen King but had no idea who Tabitha King is.)  He was pretty forthcoming about how he was raised, along with his brother Owen, who is also an author.  He did mention a family game, though, which I think is amazing.  His mother would roll a sheet of paper into a typewriter, and she’d write a few sentences.  She would then leave it, and whoever came into the room next would continue the story for a few sentences and leave it for the next person.  It would seem that the point was to write something that would be very difficult for the next writer to resolve.  He also mentioned that such exercises lost steam after a while because it would always devolve into obscenity.

When asked about collaborating with others, he said he couldn’t do it with someone outside of his family, mostly because he’s a control freak.  He’s okay with how things work out, provided he gets his way.

He also talked about why he went with Joe Hill as his name instead of Joseph King.  Naturally, it was because he didn’t want to cash in on his father’s name.  He wanted to make it on his own merits.  He knew that if the world knew who he really was, they would publish his book just because of that.  However, if the book sucked, no one would ever read his work again.  Fair enough.

He managed to keep the secret just so long as he was unsuccessful.  His breakthrough was when PS published 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS in the UK.  He was able to sell HEART SHAPED BOX solely on the buzz he’d gotten on the collection of short stories.  However, as soon as people started paying attention, it was harder and harder to keep his lineage in the shadows.  By his estimation, he kept it a secret for 10 years.

And then he started doing appearances.  Signings.  Conventions.  People noticed how much he looked like Stephen King.  People realized that King had a son named Joseph HILLstrom King.  They put two and two together, and before long, people were posting on message boards and blogs about it.

Here’s the interesting thing:  whenever Hill saw something along those lines, he would send a private message to the poster, saying, “Hey, you got me.  I’m Stephen King’s son.  But I’m trying to keep that a secret, so I’d appreciate it if you’d take down your post.”  Shockingly enough, 100% of these people complied, mostly because they liked being in on the secret.

That’s amazing.  Could you imagine 100% of people agreeing about ANYTHING on the internet today?

Not all the questions were about his family, though.  There were some about the book, and about writing in general.  In response to one question, he said that he viewed each book as kind of a mystery for himself.  He wanted to find out who his characters were over the course of the book.  That’s the mystery.

A little girl asked him, “Who’s the main character?”

His response:  “Wow, that’s actually kind of an existential question, isn’t it?”  He then went on to say that every character in the book probably thought they were the main character.  Charlie Manx would probably view himself as the hero of the story.  But he said they would all be wrong except for Vic McQueen.

A young man confessed to being a high school teacher . . . teaching HEART SHAPED BOX to his kids.  First of all, I can’t even conceive of that.  There is no way in hell he could have been telling the truth.  I can’t envision any school letting a teacher assign that book to his students.  It seemed to surprise Hill a lot, too.  But the teacher said that the next test was coming up, and he wanted to put a “Joe Hill wants to know . . .” question on it.  It took Hill a moment to think about this.  It was the only question he didn’t have a quick answer to.  Finally, he warned the crowd that he was about to ruin the end of that particular book, and that if they haven’t read it yet, they should cover their ears and go lalalala for a while.  When people didn’t react to this, he said, “No, seriously.  I’m about to ruin the end to HEART SHAPED BOX right now.”  His question to the students?  SPOILER ALERT!  “Do you think Judas and Marybeth stay together after the book’s done?”  If you feel like answering that question yourself, post it in the comments below.  END OF SPOILERS.

Time started growing short, so he went into the rapid-fire Q&A section, in which he said he would still take questions, but he would answer them a lot more quickly.  Sure enough, he lived up to it.  It went so quickly I couldn’t even keep track of the questions.

After this, it was time for the signing.  He said he would sign 3 items per person, and he would personalize one of them.  If you had more stuff, he’d sign it, but he asked that after their turn, that they go to the back of the line so as to be fair to everyone.  I had three books, plus the one I’d just bought, in addition to the issue of LOCKE & KEY.  I wanted HORNS personalized, since that was my favorite.  I also wanted to make sure he got HEART SHAPED BOX and 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS.  I figured if things went smoothly, I’d swoop around later for the other two.

People moved out of their seats to get into line, so I sat down for a while and read NOS4A2 while I waited for my section of numbers to be called.  I got through about 90 pages before that happened.  Not bad.  I read almost all of SURVIVOR while waiting for Palahniuk, just to give you an idea.

By that time, the hour had grown too late, and since there were about 100 people after me (more than I thought there would be), I just decided to get the three signed.  I had the other copy of NOS4A2 at home, anyway.

I stood in line, thinking I would tell him about my mom.  There was a super-long version of that story, but I knew I would have a brief period of time, so I edited it down.  My mom died a few years ago.  Her and I were kind of distant, but we always seemed to agree on reading material, at least when it came to comic books.  Near the end of her life, she loved THE BOYS, LOCKE & KEY, and THE WALKING DEAD almost as much as I did.  These three books (as well as PREACHER, HITMAN, and EVIL ERNIE about 10 years ago) that brought us together.  However, about two weeks before she died, she went into a coma.  She was put in hospice, and the very last time I saw her, I realized it was probable that the next time would be in a funeral home.

The one thing that scares me about death is that I’ll die before I know how all of my series end.  I knew she would feel the same way, so I held her hand, and I made up how those stories ended.  I knew she could hear me because the last time she’d been in a coma, back when I was in high school, and she’d been in a car accident with a UPS truck, when she woke up, she told me that she’d heard me all those times.

She died the very next day.

As Hill signed my books, I told the shortest version of this story I could.  I’d meant it as a feel-good story, trying to show the positive impact he’d had on my life, as well as my mom’s.  I think my story bummed him out a little.  He was very quiet and nervous when I told him about this.

He did ask me how I’d ended it, though.  I told him I don’t think Ty makes it.  Their mom doesn’t make it, either.  I thought Kinsey would step up and save everyone.  (We’ll find out if I’m right soon.  LOCKE & KEY has two issues to go.)

I couldn’t help it.  As I told him this, I kept a very sharp eye on him, to see if he had any tells, to see if I’d nailed any of this.  He kept a poker face.  In fact, he didn’t even look up at me as he drew devil’s horns on the O of the title HORNS.  After, he said, “I hope you like how it ends.”  I shook his hand, and he told me, “Be safe.”

It was at that point that I realized I must have come off as very depressed.  I hope I didn’t give that impression.  I’m not a suicidal guy.  Sure, my mom’s death gets to me from time to time.  I’m over it, for the most part.  It’s just that every once in a while, when I’m not expecting it, it sneaks up on me and cripples me.

But I didn’t mean to bring down the party.  I saw some of the pictures he’d taken at the event, and they were all pretty cool.  If you missed out, you missed out on a good time.  If you ever get the chance to meet Joe Hill, do it.  He’s a hell of a nice guy.  If you can meet him at Anderson’s in Naperville, also try that.  It’s one of the greatest places to meet an author.  The next time you’re in the area, head on in and keep an eye out for framed pictures on the wall of authors who have held signings there.

And be sure to pick up NOS4A2.  I’m not done with it yet, but so far, it kicks all form of ass.

[EDIT:  I have long since finished NOS4A2.  Yes, it kicks ass.  HORNS is still my favorite, but NOS4A2 is up there.]

Friday, July 19, 2013


Do you have a fucked up superhero story that you've always wanted to tell but you never thought anyone would publish it?  Well, now is the time to strike!  Zeb Carter, who is better known as Blick Tolkien, a semi-regular reviewer for Forced Viewing, is editing an anthology of fucked up superhero stories.  He's looking for extreme material, so if you're a depraved motherfucker, and you've got sick ideas about superheroes, this anthology is for you!  He's looking for submissions, so if you're interested, please let me know in the comments here, or at, and I'll pass his information along.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

COOL SHIT 7-18-13

BROTHER LONO #2:  I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be back in Lono’s world.  After the events at the end of 100 BULLETS, he is most definitely a changed man.  In this issue, we learn how he wound up at the mission, but more importantly, we learn how he handles himself these days in the face of violence.  For a guy who used to be an absolute lunatic, he has learned to rein himself in.  He gets a gun shoved in his face in one scene, and all he can say, very quietly and calmly, is “sorry.”  But it is clearly not easy for him.  Eduardo Risso is very good at showing the wavering, flowing violence just crawling beneath Lono’s skin.  There is no way Brian Azzarello is going to let him make it to the end of this mini-series without cracking some skulls.  I can’t wait to see where this is going!

ARSENIC LULLABY:  THE BIG STALL:  Not too long ago, writer and artist Douglas Paszkiewicz was ready to just give up on his long-running indie book, THE ARSENIC LULLABY.  And then, someone told him about Kickstarter, so he decided to give it a shot as a last ditch effort to keep the book alive.  I jumped on this motherfucker as soon as I heard about it, and so did a lot of other people.  Now, THE BIG STALL is finally out, and it’s awesome as all hell.  A lot of it is a collection of strips he did for MAD, but they decided they were too harsh for their readership.  And yeah, they were probably right.  Of course, Paszkiewicz is a harsh bastard, as we all know, and it’s perfect for HIS readership.  There are also a few bigger stories in here, like “Baron Von Donut Ruins Xmas” and my personal favorite, “Sympathy for Cthulhu,” in which Cthulhu goes to a newspaper office and tries to figure out a way he could get people to panic in his name.  He goes to great fuckin’ depths to achieve this, some Machiavellian shit, but the funniest part is how mundane his real plan is.  One of my favorite lines is when Cthulhu says, “All the decent ‘joiner’ types get into the KKK or Satan worshipping.  All I get are disgruntled English lit students.”  You’ll also find a lot of WIZARD OF OZ humor, a few Nazi laughs, a few jokes at the expense of tsunami-flattened cities, and a Rabbi who circumcises babies by throwing knives at them.  Only those with a nasty sense of humor need apply.  (And hey!  Look at that!  There’s my name on the Special Thanks page!)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Wow, there has been a huge movement to revive moonshine in this country.  If only Georgia Moon had held out another ten years before releasing its product.  They could have made money hand over fist.

And why not bring moonshine back?  It’s cheap to make, and you only have to age it 30 days, unlike the customary 4-9 years.  Best of all, anyone could make it.  You can go online and buy everything you need to make a still, and the distilling instructions seem pretty easy.

Except . . . well, the major problem with this new glut of moonshine on the market is IT’S NOT REAL MOONSHINE!  The highest proof of the stuff you’ll find is 100.  No, that is NOT moonshine.  Real moonshine runs anywhere between 180-190, and it will fuck you the fuck up.  Drink enough of it, and you could go blind.  Seriously.  YOU WILL LOSE YOUR EYESIGHT.  It takes the hardiest of constitutions and the strongest of stomachs to deal with the real stuff.

The most popular of the new moonshines is Midnight Moon.  Even the skeptical have to agree that the story on the label is pretty cool.  It’s the tale of Junior Johnson and his family.  To hear them tell it, this guy was constantly on the run, selling his moonshine like them Duke boys of Hazzard County.  Sure enough, that was probably the case.  Here’s the problem:  “Midnight Moon follows the Johnson family, small batch recipe.  It’s proudly made by our very own hands, and triple distilled to craft a smooth, clean-tasting spirit.”

Remember this.  We’ll come back to it in a second.

Never mind that the bottle comes with the old-fashioned sticker seal that booze used to have before someone invented twist caps.  Johnson’s original moonshine, since it was illegal to possess in the first place, would certainly not have had the seal back in the good ol’ days.  As soon as you pull the cork, you’ll notice that there’s barely any scent.  Not bad for the functioning alcoholics out there, but real moonshine has a distinctive rubbing alcohol odor.

And the taste?  Smooth as can be.  There is almost no taste, and there is minimal burn.  Not bad for drunkards in training, but for seasoned drinkers?  No.  Absolutely not.  MOONSHINE HAS TO KICK YOUR ASS FROM THE VERY INSTANT YOU TASTE IT.  It has to be harsh.  It has to set your throat on fire.  It has to hurt.  Because, well, it’s cheap shit with more in common than engine cleaner than whiskey.

Remember that quote from the label?  There is no fucking way that someone like Junior Johnson, if he is indeed as portrayed in the story, would have sold this shit.  It’s too smooth, it’s too nice, and it’s a mere 80-proof.  If he really was as they say, this product is a complete betrayal of his tradition.

The biggest crime of all?  It’s not as cheap as moonshine should be.  Depending on which state you live in, it costs anywhere between twenty and thirty bucks for a fifth.  That’s outrageous.

In short, if Junior Johnson were alive to see and taste his legacy, he would be sorely disappointed in his descendants.  What kind of asshole would take something as vicious and vile as moonshine and try to turn it into a hipster drink?

[EDIT:  Uh . . . it turns out that Junior Johnson is still alive, and he has given his approval to this product.  He’s even a part of the company.  You can get a bottle of this shit personally signed by him.  This is absolutely disgusting news.  Clearly he felt the need to cash in on his story.  So, yeah.  He’s a sellout.  Come on.  The website even says their moonshine is gluten-free.  What are they going to do next?  Put nutrition facts on the label?  Go fuck yourself.]

Monday, July 15, 2013



When I first heard that DC was going to do BEFORE WATCHMEN, I think my reaction was the same as everyone else’s:  WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO THAT?  WATCHMEN is perfect on its own.  Why would you cheapen it with a marketing ploy like that?

But of course, I was curious.  I had to find out what it was really like.  It boggled my mind that there were so many different titles dedicated to this.  It seemed like overkill to me, and it just reeked of sales desperation.

Now that the whole thing is over, I can say that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  DC put some of their best writers on this project, from Brian Azzarello to Darwyn Cooke to Len Wein to J. Michael Straczynski.  If they absolutely had to do this project, at least they did it as well as they could.  Sure, it was nothing more than a scheme to make more money off a prestigious title, but at least they didn’t half-ass it.  They really wanted to make this the best they could.

That doesn’t mean it was good.  But it was better than expected.


worst had to be NITE OWL.  Let’s face it, Dan Dreiberg isn’t an interesting guy in his prime.  He only becomes interesting when he’s a fat has-been who has a difficult time getting it up when he’s not in the suit.  As a superhero in his prime, he’s completely bland.  He did not need his own book, especially since it had very little to do with the direction the others were taking.

Truthfully, I didn’t care for “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair” feature at the back of almost every book.  It seems to only exist to fill in for the “Tales of the Black Freighter.”  There is very little creativity there.  It looked pretty neat, but there was very little substance there.

SILK SPECTRE was all right.  Again, it didn’t tie in with the direction of the others, but it was kind of cool as a stand-alone.  You already know my thoughts on the DOLLAR BILL one-shot.  MINUTEMEN was actually a cool concept, filling in some details that were left out of the original WATCHMEN.  OZYMANDIAS was a bit plain for my likes, although the layouts knocked me the fuck out.

However, DR. MANHATTAN was pretty interesting.  At first, I thought they were going to use this book to change the original WATCHMEN story, which I would have been furious about.  Luckily, it didn’t go that way.  Like with OZYMANDIAS, the layouts were pretty impressive.

The big surprise was how disappointing RORSCHACH was for me.  It was cool to see Rorschach in action, but it was almost a throwaway story.  It didn’t bring anything new to the table.  It tried to explain a bit why he is the way he is, but the thing is, we already have enough information to determine that.

On the other hand, MOLOCH brought a lot of cool shit to the table.  It is easily my second favorite.  We don’t get a lot of him in the original WATCHMEN, so it’s good to get his back story.

My favorite?  COMEDIAN, of course.  There was so much going on with this book that after a while, it might even be easy to see him as the main character of the WATCHMEN universe, even though he dies in the first few pages of Alan Moore’s graphic novel.  Azzarello brought the most to the table with this one.

All in all, I think it was worth my money.  Not much more than that, though.  There is one big concern, though.  You know how sometimes, people get into an argument over how a newcomer should watch STAR WARS?  Some people are of the opinion that you should watch the original trilogy first before the newer one.  Others say you should watch it in order.

With WATCHMEN, there is no way you should read BEFORE WATCHMEN first.  I hope no one gets the impression that they should start with BEFORE.  There are waaaaaay too many spoilers in BEFORE for something like that.  These books were intended to be read after one reads WATCHMEN.

Here’s the thing:  WATCHMEN is perfectly contained within itself.  We don’t need a BEFORE WATCHMEN because Moore already gave us that in the flashbacks.  BEFORE WATCHMEN relied far too heavily on material that originated in WATCHMEN.  A lot of shit was repeated.  Ultimately, this was an exercise in futility.  But it was just good enough in the end to open my wallet.

Is it shameless in its exploitation of the original book?  Yes.  But at least you get some kind of return on that.  Should BEFORE WATCHMEN exist?  Probably not.  The only motive the company had was to make more money.  The writers and artists did their best to give it artistic merit, and they came really close to succeeding.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

COOL SHIT 7-11-13

NEXT TESTAMENT #2:  Ah.  It’s so good to have some new Clive Barker.  Since he’s lost himself in the world of ABARAT (which isn’t a terrible thing, by the way), he hasn’t had much time for anything else.  I’m glad to see him working in comics again, and this is a hell of a book.  In last issue, Julian Demonde (get it?) went in search of God and found Wick.  Wick is a multi-colored man-shaped being (complete with multi-colored speech bubbles), and while he claims to be the Father part of the Holy Trinity, I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s lying to everyone.  That wouldn’t be so strange for Barker fans.  Check out WEAVEWORLD if you don’t believe me.  In this issue, he blames all of the horrible acts of God—Sodom and Gomorrah, for example—on the Son and the Holy Spirit.  He also says that he fully intended Abraham to kill his son, but the others stopped him.  They locked him away for thousands of years, and now he’s back to check things out.  He’s constantly thrilled by the ways human beings have adapted when it comes to technology.  However, he’s disgusted with the greedy, slovenly scumbags human beings have become.  He laughed his way through the New Testament, and now he’s ready to deliver unto the world his Next Testament.  And he’s not fucking around.  The dinner party he throws so he can meet all the world’s most important people in one go is amazing and worth the price of admission on its own.  Ten more issues to go.

THE WALKING DEAD #112:  Of course.  What would Cool Shit be without talking about TWD?  And after last issue, you know this one is going to be fucked up.  Negan gutted Spencer, and now he’s kicking back and relaxing, ready to surprise Rick.  In the last few issues, Rick has been gathering his forces in an attempt to stage a coup.  But now that Negan has surprised him, he decides to jump the gun.  And then we find out just how cunning Negan really is.  Things get really intense by the end of this issue.  Next month will surely bring a lot of death.  Personally, I think Rick’s going to get the iron treatment.  It’s been a while since a major character has been mutilated . . . .

Incidentally, fuck the Governor.  Negan is by far the greatest villain of this series.  A part of me wants Kirkman to kill Rick off and use Negan as the protagonist instead.  I just hope that whenever his story is inevitably revealed, it’s not lame.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

DRINK LIKE A PATRIOT: A review of Jefferson's Straight Rye Whiskey

The bottle is simple:  no label, just a profile of the third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson.  Aged 10 years with a proof of 94, it looks very promising.  As most good American boozehounds know, Jefferson (as well as many of the founding fathers) distilled his own booze.  One hopes that this lovely rye is based on Jefferson’s own recipe.

Sadly, it is not.  Jefferson’s is only 15 years old, and they take their inspiration from the head writer of the Declaration of Independence, not his recipe.  According to their website, they experimented with several methods (just like Jefferson would have, considering his scientific mind) before arriving at the four beverages that make up their company.

The distiller must be a man of good taste, because this booze isn’t fucking around.  The burn hits you right away, and it doesn’t relent, not even when it scorches the inside of your stomach.  Its potency hits immediately, too.  It has a slight Larceny taste to it, somewhere between Larceny and Wild Turkey 101.  It’s a sipping whiskey, for sure.  Take your time, take it easy, and Jefferson will treat you well.  Your hangover won’t even be so bad.  But swill this down like it was any ol’ slop, and there will be a bloody revolution in your guts.  If you love whiskey, and if you love rye in particular, this is one of the best.  Pick it up NOW.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Chances are, if you’ve been paying attention these last few months, you are familiar with Edward Snowden.  In all likelihood, you probably think he’s a terrorist or a spy, maybe both.  That’s because the media has pulled a very interesting trick with the American people.  At first, they were a bit more open about what he did, but these days, you’d be hard pressed to find any information about this in their coverage.  Why?  Because Snowden hurt a lot of powerful people, and they want to send a message stating this will not be tolerated.  How did they manage to manipulate most of the country?  By glossing over why Snowden is in trouble and instead making the story about HIM.

In my opinion, Snowden has done an incredibly brave thing, and he should be celebrated instead of vilified.  But let’s take a look at exactly what he did, and you can make up your own mind.

Americans have known they were under surveillance for a long time.  One just needs to look at the cameras everywhere, from office buildings to city streets, to be sure.  They have also been fairly certain that their email and phone calls and internet usage has also been under surveillance.  This is a vague feeling, but if you’re being billed for something, chances are someone is keeping track of it.

Snowden leaked absolute, irrefutable evidence that this is true to the American people.  Technically, he leaked evidence about phone surveillance, but let’s face facts.  You all have internet on your phones, and chances are, you’ve been checking your email on them.  So yeah, that’s all being watched and itemized by the government.

Sure, take the high road.  You don’t have anything to hide.  But if you have pictures of your kids on your phone, there might be a government official staring at them.  Staring at your private moments.  The memories you want for yourself.  Or if you want to get vulgar, remember those dick pics you sent to your girlfriend?  The government now has a record of what your cock looks like.  Or how about that special video the two of you made together?  The government is supposedly professional, so chances are good that no officials are jerking off to it.  Right?

Everyone has the right to privacy.  If you want to flaunt yours, go right ahead.  But for everyone else, the government has taken that choice away.  Taking choices away . . . hm . . . does that sound like something that should happen in a country that calls itself the Land of the Free?

Snowden said that he wanted “to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”  He also said, “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort [sic] of things.”  Who would, really?  And how about this one?  “I can’t allow the US government to destroy privacy and basic liberties.”

This makes him a whistle blower, not a terrorist.  And he’s certainly no spy.  It’s not like he leaked the information to another country; he leaked it to the media in America, and look at how they’ve paid him back.

Being a whistle blower sucks.  Each and every one of them has the best of intentions, and they’re always martyred by the press.  Maybe ten years pass, and people look back on them as heroes.  Maybe they even get movies made about them.  (Think SILKWOOD and THE INSIDER for starters.)  But that’s not going to do Snowden any good when he’s got a bullet in his head in whatever Central American country that will take him.  And make no mistake, any country that takes him from Russia will be setting a trap for him.  And whichever country does this will send us the receipt, since we’ve already paid the bill.

Did he betray his government?  Sure.  Did he betray his country?  Absolutely not.  Throughout his life, he’s tried to serve America as best he could.  He was in the Special Forces.  He was hired at the NSA.  He did his time in the CIA, and that’s where he started seeing his government for what it really is.  He said, “I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression.”  So he tried to help us, and we spit in his face.

So why is Putin refusing to extradite Snowden back to America? I hear you ask.  He certainly isn’t doing it out of the kindness of his heart, if he indeed has one.  Okay, I’ll admit, Snowden probably bought his safety in Russia with a secret or two.  But he never would have done that if he wasn’t in survival mode right now.  He isn’t interested in destroying the country he loves; he tried to save it.  If he’s a traitor to his country, it’s because we forced him into it.  If we had celebrated his courage instead of crucifying him, he would never have had to do it.

Enough from me.  How about you?  Is Snowden a hero or villain?  Let me know in the comments below.