Saturday, August 29, 2015


"This lost classic short film of 1990 is a post reunification Nihilist allegory of the tensions between the immigrant worker population of Germany and the natives who still long for Heimat. When foreign bullies cajole a young German man into trying to kick an American football. Hilarity ensues."

My friend Todd Graham made this video, as well as the legendary mash-up video Apocalypse Pooh. To find out what he's working on these days, read this recent profile from

Thursday, August 6, 2015


I've recently finished reading the first six issues of three new titles, all from separate publishers, and have a few brief thoughts to share about each of them.

ANNIHILATOR #1-6 (Legendary, $3.99) ~ Originally billed as a six-part miniseries from writer Grant Morrison and artist Frazer Irving, publishers Legendary Comics dropped a tiny bombshell on readers in the sixth issue, proclaiming that no, this wasn't a stand-alone series, but only a prelude to an ongoing, unlimited comic series to come. That might have been welcome news had this tale of washed-up Hollywood screenwriter Ray Spass coming into contact with cosmic supervillain Max Nomax, who's recently escaped from a jail orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy (the Great Annihilator), had any sort of payoff. Instead, all six issues felt thin and stretched out, with one chase scene dragging on for almost three issues. The same dialogue gets spoken again and again throughout these six issues, with Oscar Wilde-lookalike Nomax spouting off ever more grandiose rhetoric without much of consequence ever really happening. The art is fantastic though... almost worth the price of admission in and of itself. You'll have to decide for yourself if that's enough. Personally, I won't be picking up any subsequent series.

CROSSED + ONE HUNDRED #1-6 (Avatar, $3.99) ~ Another title, another publisher, another last minute switcheroo. Originally billed as a 12-part mini by Alan Moore set one hundred years after "the Surprise" of the hyper-sadistic Garth Ennis-created "Crossed" universe, with the sixth issue it was revealed that Moore would not be writing the rest of the series, which would no longer be limited to 12 issues. Well... that's certainly a twist, isn't it? And not a good one, if you ask me, except for the fact that I've been looking for a reason to drop this title, and this gives me as good a reason as any. Why have I been meaning to drop it? Well, a few reasons, chief among them being a) the Riddley Walker, Clockwork Orange style invented language continues to be a cumbersome and unwieldy device even after six issues. With verbs as nouns and nouns as verbs, for me, it felt like a noble experiment that just didn't pan out. Also, b) the snail's pace storytelling has been grating on my nerves, with it taking a full six freaking issues for ANYTHING of consequence to happen (although to be fair, when it does, it's pretty fucking devastating). Finally, c) I'm not a fan of the artwork, much preferring the clean lines and vivid emotional expressivity of the original series' artist Jacen Burrows. I guess if you like brutal, horrific, dystopian science fiction, the six issues might be worth reading in one shot as a collected work. It might work as a whole, but the first five issues in themselves might end up boring you to tears and leaving you feeling ripped off. And, again, I don't like being lied to about creative teams and series lengths. If Moore was going to go on writing the last six issues, I might have stuck with. But not now.

IMPERIUM #1-6 (Valiant, $3.99) ~ Finally, an unmitigated winner of a title! This is the story of super-powered "Psiot" Toyo Harada, and his efforts to bring about a future Paradise on Earth, whether the inhabitants of said planet agree with his plans or not. In these first six issues, the art is very good, but the writing is absolutely fantastic, with one beautifully visionary scene from the first issue literally bringing me to tears with its power, poignancy, and subtle grace. Meanwhile, subsequent issues have featured scenes of breath-taking action, sinister subterfuge, unbelievable corporate evil, otherworldly woo and, ultimately, the ethics of (super)empowerment, all written with equal skill, wit and power. The characters, their motivations, the plot twists, all are absolute first rant. Simply put, Valiant's Imperium is easily the best science-fiction / super-hero style comic being published today. Now, with the first six issues being bundled into an affordable trade paperback edition, there's never been a better time to jump aboard the Imperium bandwagon.


GRANT MORRISON'S 18 DAYS (Graphic India, $1.00) ~ Comics Renaissance Occultist Grant Morrison has been working on this Western-style re-telling of the great ancient Sanskrit epic Mahabharata (billed as Lord of the Rings with Star Wars technology) since 2010. Its first incarnation was as a series of animated shorts that showed up on Youtube without much fanfare or success in 2013. Viewership is still in the low five figures two year later, which must be a disappointment to investors considering that over a billion people are intimately familiar with the source material. Anyway, July of 2015 saw the rebirth of the work as a comic book, which quite frankly is a format that better suits the gravitas of the story. You want to be able to linger over and savor each panel, jam-packed as they are with beautifully rendered details. Art-wise, it's like Jack Kirby has taken a whack at Hindu mythology, which is a damn good idea when you think about it. And at a mere ONE DOLLAR per issue... how can you go wrong? Easily the best comic book value of the month, if not the year. I will definitely be picking up the rest of the series.

CREEPY #20 (Dark Horse, $3.99) ~ I remember the Creepy Magazine of my youth as being a much darker, more sinister affair than this collection of pet-related horror shorts, beefed up with a few inconsequential single-pagers from Peter Bagge. The highlight of this issue is a reprint of an old Rirchard Corben chestnut, presented here in full color. So it's not like I didn't enjoy this issue, or won't consider buying future issues, but I definitely would like to see a return to the pitch-black evil of the late 70's Warren title. Perhaps I'll give Dark Horse's recently released "Collected Creepy" volumes a try, when they come down in price. Who knows? Maybe I'm mis-remembering the tone?


GOD IS DEAD: BOOK OF ACTS: ALPHA (Avatar, $5.99) There's grisly fun a-plenty to be found between the pages of these two collections of deity-themed short tales that loosely fit into the God Is Dead comic book universe, wherein all the world's various pantheons have returned to do battle after the murder of the Big Kahuna Himself, Great God Almighty. The longest story here - and the only one spread between the Alpha and Omega issues - features a crazed mix of Arab, Hindu and Christian mythologies, and provides a bit of back-story for the wider series. If you've ever wanted to see Ganesha going toe-to-toe with Satan, then this is the comic for you.

GOD IS DEAD: BOOK OF ACTS: OMEGA (Avatar, $5.99) The second issue of this double-shot contains stories of a decidedly darker tone than the first, which features more comical tales, including one written by Alan Moore and starring his personal deity, Glycon, an obscure Roman puppet-god. The second issue, in contrast, features brutal torture, demons being skinned alive, satyr-babies exploding full-grown from pregnant bellies, and other assorted horrors. All in all, one of the better "dark fantasy" anthologies that I've had the pleasure of reading in recent months. Highly recommended, if you have a taste for the dark stuff.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


RAT GOD (Dark Horse, 5-issue mini, $3.99 each) ~ In the world of illustrated horror and dark fantasy, it just doesn't get any better than Richard Corben, multiple-award-winning Eisner Hall of Fame inductee (2012), tent-pole artist of Heavy Metal Magazine's late-70's Golden Age, and one-time High Priest of the comix underground. Whether he's working with established characters and storylines--his Luke Cage and Hulk minis for Marvel were both excellent and influential in ways that are only now beginning to be appreciated--or creating entirely new ones, as is the case with this awesome new title for prestige publisher Dark Horse, Corben is one of the most iconic and essential comics artists working today. It's always cause for celebration 'round Chateau LeBoeuf whenever the Master decides to put out a new title... and that's an understatement.


Over the course of its five issues, RAT GOD tells a story that is both familiar and yet completely sui generis, combining elements of Lovecraftian horror (territory with which Corben is intimately familiar) and Native American lore. In a nutshell, it tells the story of Clark Elwood, a bookish Miskatonic University professor who falls in love (sort of) with a Native American co-ed named Kito Hontz, who hails from a strange small town in the Pacific Northwest. After a nasty tiff that puts the kaibosh on their burgeoning romance, Kito splits from campus and a regretful Clark decides to drive out to her homeland to try apologize and win her back.

The story is quite good, with exciting action, convincingly concocted and original esoterica, a number of intriguing characterizations, and odd plot twists a-plenty. It also contains surprisingly mature and measured riffs on Lovecraft's all-too-human flaw of racism, and the human wreckage such beliefs can cause. You can learn more about what Corben was attempting to do in this interview with Comic Book Resources.

Of course, RAT GOD's biggest draw, as is so often the case with Corben, is the artwork.

Running the gamut, from the gorgeous lush greenery of dense evergreen forests to the grisly, gruesome carnage of rat-infested sacrificial death-pits, Corben clearly put everything he's got on the pages with this, his most visually satisfying long-form work in well over a decade. His use of color to set an emotional tone in particular has never been more assured or successful.

The fourth issue, as an example, has Clark sneaking his way into an "Eyes Wide Shut" style costume ball, and it features some of the most beautifully evocative costume designs that I've ever seen. Each costume was unique, but they all felt of a piece, as though whoever created them was harkening to some long-forgotten esoteric aesthetic... which, considering this is Corben we're talking about, probably isn't that far from the truth.

If you missed this series, which ran from February to June of this year, don't despair. I imagine a reasonably-priced volume collecting all five issues in a single book will be hitting bookstore shelves within a month or two. When it does, don't fight the urge to splurge. RAT GOD is going to go down in comics history as one of Richard Corben's finest works, which instantly puts it in the running for Best Limited Series Comic of 2015.


Welcome to the first in what I hope will be a regular, weekly Mediavore-branded sub-series, in which I give recommendations from, and bullet reviews of, my weekly comics haul.

WE STAND ON GUARD #1 (Image, $2.99) ~ This is an odd new title from Image, in which veteran scribe Brian K. Vaughan presents us with a grim vision of war between the United States and Canada. The story kicks off in 2112 (a nod to Canadian prog power-trio Rush), when the States' military obliterates Ottawa via missiles, then launches a land invasion, ostensibly in retaliation for a September 11-style terrorist attack that somehow gets blamed on the Great White North (I figure it's going to be exposed as a false flag attack ginned up as an excuse to go after Canada's fresh water supply in a future issue). Jump ahead a decade or so, and a rag-tag team of Canuck survivalists dodge interceptor drones and bring down giant manned robot "mechs" with little more than their wits and their tremendous Canadian balls. The combination of angry, paranoid polemic and crazy sci-fi action/adventure is a tough sell, and I'm not sure if I'm buying yet. I'll give it another issue or two to decide once and for all.

STRANGE FRUIT #1 (Boom!, $3.99) ~ Speaking of angry polemic, here's a shockingly good idea that I'm surprised hasn't been done before: What if Superman's alien craft had crash-landed in rural Mississippi in 1927, just as the KKK was getting ready to go into the Black part of town and fuck shit up? And what if he emerged from that craft a full-grown Black man? Named after Billie Holiday's legendary anti-lynching song, this series by J.G. Jones and Mark Waid is rendered in a gorgeous, painterly style throughout, and considering the book's final image is of Black Superman covering his nudity with a Confederate flag torn from a Klansman's standard, it couldn't be more timely. If the first issue of this four-issue miniseries is any indication, I predict that Strange Fruit will be winning multiple statuettes come award season next year. Well worth checking out.

FUTURE IMPERFECT #1, #2, # 3 (Marvel, $3.99 each) ~ There's not much that I like about Marvel's ongoing, continuity-wide "event", Secret Wars 2015. With every single Marvel title taking part in this deeply flawed, pathetically transparent, and ultimately misguided attempt at copycatting Game of Thrones, the entire superhero dynamic is thrown out of whack. I mean, it's basically game over. The heroes failed and the Multiverse has collapsed into nothingness, leaving behind only Doctor Doom's personal AD&D game, populated with amnesiac versions of characters that we USED to know and love... some of them barely recognizable as such, and many of them present in multiple versions of themselves. I mean, Captain America is a barbarian who roams the various wastelands of "Battleworld" with his pet, King Dinosaur. And there's a region populated by nothing but Hulks. And there's a Great Big Wall that separates all the "Zones" from the Marvel Zombies and the Ultron Annihlation Wave... except it's on the SOUTH side of the map, so it's not another Game of Thrones rip-off! No way! Anyway, my main question about this iteration of Secret Wars is, why should we care about these heroes if there's no normal people left for them to protect and save and be heroic for? I'll have more to say about this mess in later columns, but for now, I just want to say that I picked up the first three issues of the Future Imperfect 4-part tie-in series exclusively for Greg Land's excellent renderings of both the Maestro Hulk and The Thing (even though this Thing is... ugh... General Thunderbolt Ross). I guess I'll pick up the fourth issue, even though the story is pretty much for shit. This goes to show you... good art goes a long way in comics!