Saturday, January 31, 2009

Battlefields: Dear Billy #1

Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Peter Snejbjerg

While I enjoyed the first Battlefields mini-series a great deal, 'Dear Billy' is a much superior showing. This is serious-Ennis at his finest, as he tells the story of Carrie Sutton, a British nurse who had been raped, shot, and left for dead by the Japanese in the south Pacific during the 2nd World War, and her budding romance with Flight Lieutenant Billy Wedgewood, a bomber pilot who is recovering from a similar experience (with rifle bayonets symbolically replacing the rape).

This book is 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' meets 'The English Patient' (and perhaps, based on the last page, a dash of 'Misery' to come), and Ennis demonstrates his characters' incredible bravery and strength masterfully.

As good as the writing is, this book's success depends in large measure on the beautiful work by Snejbjerg, one of the best artists working in comics. His work is sparse yet evocative, and is aided wonderfully by the colours of Rob Steen. I've never really understood why Snejbjerg isn't used more in mainstream comics - his Starman run was exquisite, and I would like to see more of his work on a regular basis.

This series is highly recommended.

Jack of Fables #30

Written by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Art by Tony Akins, Russ Braun, and Jose Marzan Jr.

This issue continues the excellent Books of War arc, as the siege of the Golden Boughs becomes even more complicated by some fifth column work by Goldilocks, and the rage of the Pathetic Fallacy. This arc works on ground that was laid back in the first issues of this title, and is a very satisfying read for that reason.

It also details a little more of the history of the Literals, and the work that Revise has been doing for a very long time. Willingham and Sturges are able to step back in time to fill in their readers on essential backstory, without taking away from the sense of urgency that this issue is permeated with.

The 'Babe the Blue Ox' page in this issue is one of the funniest ones yet.

Proof #16

Written by Alex Grecian
Art by Riley Rossmo and Paul Fricke

This is the type of issue I like best in Proof - it's part of the larger tapestry of the book, and progresses the overall plot, but doesn't necessarily belong to any particular arc. It's kind of like those old issues of the X-Men, where after a long and complicated story or cross-over, the characters hang out for a bit, and things slow down for some character development (except, no one plays baseball in Proof).

Many of the sub-plots progress in this issue, but nothing feels rushed or out of place. The strength of this series is in the characters - normal and cryptid alike - that make the Lodge such an interesting place to read about. While I'm interested in the Mi-Chen-Po storyline, I'm just as interested in Proof's upcoming date with 'Bella. It might be a little confusing for a new reader to start here, but I jumped on this title with the first 'Lodge-only' issue (#5 or 6 I think), and was overwhelmed with curiosity as to who all of these characters are.

As well as the main story (nice last page!), there is a back-up featuring Elvis and the Ink Monkey. It's cute, but a little more cartoony than I usually like - it's an enjoyable story nonetheless.

Mister X Condemned #2

By Dean Motter

The first issue of this series spent most of its time setting up its plot and characters, but now that all of that is out of the way, Motter has the opportunity to start running with his story, creating a much more fast-paced, but still character-driven, issue.

Mister X's return is explained briefly, but there is no mention of where he has been during his absence from the city he created. He is seeking out his plans, which have been hidden throughout the city, including in the offices of Zamora, the local crime boss.

This series is quite enjoyable, and any comic including dialogue like "Law enforcement isn't the answer. Achitecture is!" is a must-buy in my books.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Mystery Play

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Jon J. Muth

It only took me about fourteen years to get around to getting this book (I love Boxing Day sales), and I'm glad I finally dove into it. This is a slightly different Morrison than I'm used to today. The ideas are grand, but the writing is sparse, and much is given over to Muth to use the art to convey some of the biggest moments in the story.

Basically, a small English town is putting on the full cycle of the Mystery Plays, when someone murders the actor portraying God. A strange police detective takes on the investigation, while he, in turn, is kept under watch by a local reporter.

There is a lot of discussion of what one should do after God dies, and the theological ramifications of these events are examined fully. This is very much a pre-millennial tale, and it reminded me more than a few times of Gaiman and McKean's Signal to Noise, but I'm not sure why.

The Mystery Play is the type of story that can really only be told in graphic novel form. The scene where the detective interviews the actor who plays the Devil is amazing - on TV or in film, it would never come off as good as it does on the page. Muth creates such a dark atmosphere in places, that the scene with the crossword puzzle really came off as menacing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Dystopians

by Ben McGrath

You can't turn on the news or pick up a paper these days without being greeted with further dire economic news - the market is bad, jobs are being lost, etc. etc. This article is a tour of the landscape of people (and their websites) that have been predicting our exact collective predicament for a while now.

McGrath, writing in a slightly bemused tone, introduces his reader to Dmitry Orlov, a who lives on a boat (or is that life-raft?), James Howard Kunstler, who is at the centre of the growing culture of doomers and peak-____ers, and other people such as Jim Sinclair and Nassim Taleb. As well, we are taken to the Vermont Indepedence Convention, a secessionist meeting that somehow took place in the House chamber of the state capital.

The article is a little kooky - as are some of the theories - but at the same time reveals the depth of the uncertainty we face, and confronts the unsustainability of the North American lifestyle. Much of what is in this article is frightening, and it dawns on me that I am in no way prepared for a less comfortable life.

Humming Jazz

by Kenichiro Nishihara

I know absolutely nothing about this artist, and had never heard of him before I sampled this album on-line. I still don't know anything about him (I can't read Japanese), but I know that this is a very nice album.

It's a blend of jazz and hip-hop, and it doesn't sound Japanese in the least - not that I would think that there is a signature 'Japanese' sound - I just mean that it fits perfectly within the oeuvre of trippy, jazzy hip-hop that is available in North America, with, I felt, a slight touch of first-album Foreign Exchange tossed in for good measures.

The songs tend to be either straight up hip-hop, with guest appearances by Substantial and some rappers I'm not familiar with (but I do like this Gregg Green guy); or they are jazzy instrumentals. There are also a few R'n'B style tracks, with some very nice drum work by Nishihara.

This is not an album that is breaking new ground, but in a winter where very little is being released, this is a very good find.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thought for Food: Vol. 1 & 2

by Bronze Nazareth

For some reason, I'd expected this to be an album, not a mixtape, and so I was disappointed with it somewhat. There are plenty of new tracks spread over these two discs, but what we mostly get are slight remixes of Bronze's best known work, and the album versions of a lot of his work that has appeared in other places. There's nothing wrong with that, but I already own most of these songs, and I was really looking forward to something totally new from this incredibly talented artist.

Bronze's production is amazing. He has picked up RZA's torch, but also seems to be moving into new areas all his own. On the mic, he is a capable MC, and he surrounds himself with artists that share his sensibilities.

The last track on the 2nd cd, "My Pain is Inside These Notes" hints at a much more sensitive artist than he usually shows. "BaRonze Obama" is very topical, and one of my preferred tributes. In all, this is a good compilation of Bronze's work, and is a very good place to start if you don't already own 'The Great Migration' or the Wisemen album. I would really like to see an all-new album soon though....

WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip

by Madlib the Beat Konducta

I've never really been able to make up my mind about this album. I think that it is somehow much less than the sum of its parts, as it has many fantastic tracks and songs on it, but when played straight through, I found myself either not listening to long stretches, or just getting a little bored.

There are some truly brilliant parts to this album. The Liberation joint with Talib Kweli is incredible - Kweli hasn't sounded this good in a while and the beat is perfect for him. I also like the track with Karriem Riggins (where is that Supreme Team album?), and the tracks credited to Madlib as 'the Beat Konducta' are all amazing.

I think the problem is that this album can't decide if it's an experimental, new sort of thing, or if it's Madlib producing some classic-sounding hip-hop (with people like Defari, Guilty Simpson, Prince Po, and Roc C). There's nothing wrong with either approach - Madlib is brilliant at them both - but I find that it disrupts the cohesiveness of the album as a whole.

It's all good though, as I imagine that most of these tracks will sound fantastic on my ipod when it's in shuffle mode - especially after I edit out the annoying interludes and distractions that litter this album.

Hellblazer #251

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini

I wasn't sure if I was going to continue reading Hellblazer now that Andy Diggle's run as writer was finished. Peter Milligan is a highly inconsistent writer, having written some truly amazing books (Shade the Changing Man, and X-Force/X-Statix), and some books that have left me completely cold (his X-Men run for example). But, I have liked Cumoncoli's art since the criminally shortlived 'The Intimates', so I thought I'd give them one issue to see if they impressed me.

I'll be back for the next issue for sure. Milligan introduces a much-needed supporting cast for Constantine in this issue, in the form of Phoebe, his new girlfriend. Constantine hasn't had a serious relationship since Kit graced the pages of Ennis's historic run, and I think that the addition of Phoebe adds a grounding element to the types of stories that usually play out in Hellblazer. John has to be more human when he is explaining some of this stuff to someone (other than Chas). As well, Milligan excells at writing strong female characters who get sucked into a lot of weirdness (I had a small crush on Shade's girlfriend Kathy when I was a teenager).

The story of a mysterious scab is an interesting way to provide background for this new status quo in Constantine's life, and all of the dialogue scenes provide Camuncoli with plenty of opportunity to showcase his skill at conveying emotion.

Young Liars #11

by David Lapham

I'm no longer sure that I completely understand what is going on in this comic, but that is only adding to my enjoyment of it. Prior to this issue, I was rather comfortable in the belief that Sadie was the craziest of the 'Liars', and it was her delusions that were more or less driving the plot. As of this issue, I'm starting to think that Danny's the one that has lost his grip, but I'm not quite sure. The book is about liars, after all, and so I'm not sure how reasonable it is to trust any of the narration.

All I do know is that I really like this series. Lapham has always excelled at off the wall action scenes that are driven by strong characterization, and that's basically all that this book is. I do feel like he's building towards some large-scale denouement, and I wonder if the series is set to continue after that.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Battlefields: The Night Witches #3

Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Russ Braun

This was a very good little series. I like the way that Ennis shared his narrative evenly between the brave female Russian pilot and the reluctant German soldier. His story managed to capture the desperation felt on both sides of the conflict, as well as portray the brutality of war.

This was by no means Ennis's greatest work, but it was an enjoyable series. I am very much looking forward to the next mini-series in this title, which is scheduled to ship next week, as much for it's setting in the South Pacific as for the art by Peter Snejbjerg.

Air #6

Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by M.K. Perker

This continues to be a very strong series from Wilson and Perker. They are continuing to delve deeper into their story, as we learn more about the Hyperprax engine, and what Amelia Earhart has been up to since she disappeared some sixty years ago.

I like that this series is slowly building its own mythology and narrative - each issue introduces another element or two of a large picture, and just as it is for Blythe, it's a lot for us to take in. With each issue, my interest in this book grows, and I hope it has a long enough run to tell its story fully.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Generation Kill

by David Simon, Ed Burns, and Evan Wright

I started watching this mini-series with the following pre-conceived notions: i) that Simon and Burns have basically ruined all other television for me - their shows are just about the only things I enjoy now; ii) that the Iraq war was an absolute disaster of military planning and political will from the very beginning, with no real long-range strategy, exit plan, or purpose beyond showing how tough George W. Bush is; and iii) that the US military is one messed up group of organizations, and not really something to be proud of.

This series has completely changed my thinking about point three, while cementing points one and two in my mind forever. When the series starts, I found it very easy to identify with Lee Tergesen's character of Evan Wright, the reporter upon whose book the series is based. As the series progressed, I found that I really developed a respect, admiration, and awe of the different Marines portrayed. Sure some of them are severely damaged Whiskey Tango freaks, but for the most part, they are shown as highly intelligent, brave and determined individuals. The majority of the officers are a different matter however.

The series is about the actions of the Marine 1st Recon unit in the earliest days of the invasion of Iraq. It mostly centres on the Marines in Wright's Humvee, but it also encompasses their entire group (battalion?). We get to ride alongside these highly trained individuals as they move from pointless mission to being stuck behind trucks time and again.

At first, we see their frustration at not being at the tip of the spear to 'kill Hajiis', but as the show progresses, we see even more their frustration at how the war is being mis-managed. The Marines on view here are highly critical of their command, their support troops, and the entire effort. The beauty of this show is that it, while it deals with so much negativity, it also manages to elevate the individual soldiers, and to show them as remarkable people. I found that I started to really like them, and when I finished my week of watching these seven episodes, I found I missed them.

As with The Wire, the Simon/Burns masterpiece, the biggest draw for me was the dialogue. As expected, the Marines are a foul-mouthed, shit-talking group. At the same time, they are poets of a new breed - their rants and invectives flow with a terrible beauty and brutal honesty. Much of the dialogue, and the show itself, is darkly humorous and occassionally so funny that I found myself laughing out loud.

All in all, I think I preferred The Wire in terms of depth and breadth, but this was a highly entertaining series, which caused me to re-think some of my positions on the American military.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Slow Burning Lights

by Blue Sky Black Death

This is a hauntingly beautiful album from the production team Blue Sky Black Death. On this album, they are joined by vocalist Yes Alexander, who's quiet, spaced out voice matches their minimal production perfectly.

This album is highly reminiscent of Portishead, but without the sense of dissonance or despair that is often present in their music.

This is an unexpected turn from producers who are best known for their work in hip-hop, with Wu-Tang affiliates, no less, but it's a welcome change of pace. They've released a number of albums in the last two years, and I hope that their output keeps up both in terms of quality and quantity.


by People Under the Stairs

This album is basically a musical manifesto, calling for the return of fun to hip-hop. Thes One and Double K feel that hip-hop takes itself too seriously - from the business men, the popular, marketable rappers who rhyme about the same old crap, to the underground heads who search for purity and are quick to trash artists that try something different. They're basically calling for light-hearted rap, and most of this album is made up of just that.

"You bring the beef, and I'll bring the brew - that's right another barbecue" is the typical kind of hook found on two-thirds of this disc, and there's nothing wrong with that - PUTS are masters of laid-back, sun-drenched and weed-tinged California hip-hop. The beats are nice, the lyrics don't require a lot of thought, and everyone sounds like they're having a good time. At twenty tracks deep though, it's a hard vibe to maintain, and towards the middle of the cd, the songs started to blur for me.

There are, however, some more serious tracks as well. 'Critical Condition' and 'D' are my two favourite songs on here, and both of them step away from the 'fun' atmosphere to talk about things that are more serious. It's a welcome change of pace.

The liner notes take the form of a comic story by PUTS and Jaclyn Poole, which is a cute story of the boys picking up an odd assemblage of characters when on tour. George Clinton, a pimp, a young boy, a cowboy, and a giant Australian foot are among the entourage, in a story that culminates in a shooting at a concert (Roadkill style).

Personally, I've been enjoying this album since it was released, but it's not all that memorable to me. I would actually prefer to see Thes One put out another album like his 'Lifestyle Marketing', which was brilliant.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Preface

by Elzhi

The last year has been very good for Black Milk. He produced all but three of the tracks on this album, and in more than a few places, completely upstaged Elzhi, and not by appearing on the mic (which only happens once)

This is a very consistent, very polished album from one-half of Slum Village. Elzhi has been getting more and more buzz based on his mixtapes, and he definitely comes correct on his first official solo album. But like I said, it's not really a solo album. To me, this is an Elzhi/Black Milk collabo, and that's its strength. These two artists were born to work together.

Black's beats are bouncy at the same time that they are driving, and Elzhi shows some strong lyrical talent to match them. His voice rides over these beats like an expert surfer (I know - wrong image for Detroit rap, but it's all I could imagine). In terms of his writing - it's a little variable. There are some truly amazing songs ('Growing Up', 'The Leak'), and some where his subject matter strikes me as a little juvenile ('Brag Swag') or cliched ('Talking in My Sleep').

This album is graced with some excellent guest appearances. 'Fire (rmx)' features a who's who of Detroit: Guilty Simpson, Fat Ray and Black Milk. Fellow Slum Villa T3 shows up on 'Save Ya', a track which he produced. The greatest track on the album though is 'Motown 25', featuring Royce da 5'9". Royce kills the track, with lines like:
Pardon if I sound lazy
I been puffing crazy
and writing Puff's shit
so motherfucker fuck you pay me.

I'm sure I'm not the only person craving a full length Royce/Black Milk album - that would be a classic for sure.

Ninja Tales

by various writers and artists

This was a book that I'd considered buying when it first came out, but I was put off by its $7 price-tag. This week-end I managed to pick it up out of a $1 box as part of the Beguiling's extended Boxing Day sale.

For a dollar, this is a great read. There are some very nicely crafted stories in this book. The opening tale, by Andrew Cosby, Tim Hamilton, Sunder Raj, and Marshal Dillon is an excellent story of paranoia, heightened security, and the art of the ninja. It sets a tone and level of quality that sadly, the rest of the book didn't quite live up to.

The second story is basically a '90s Image Comics ninja tale, if ninja's wore leg and arm braces. I couldn't ever quite figure out if the main character was disabled, or if this was a special weapon. That killed it for me.

The Ninja School Dropout story by Henry Myers and Sunder Raj was cute, and had a very appropriate manga feel to it. John Roger and Chris Lies' story about Albert Einstein battling ninjas (and being one himself) was fun, in a Matt Fraction Five Fists of Science kind of way.

The book rounds out with an amusing story called 'Special Needs Ninjas', by Chris Ward and Jean Dzialowski, featuring battling geriatric ninjas in an old-folks home.

I think that the main problem with this book, as illustrated in the story titled and credited in Japanese, is that ninjas are kind of boring. They are great when used in a comic like Daredevil as the bad guy, but there is very little to hang a story around when they have to act on their own. There's nothing to talk about.

Still, this was a nice read for a dollar. It seems that the whole book is also available now as a webcomic.

Fables #80

Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Mark Buckingham, Andrew Pepoy, and Peter Gross

It's Fables. It's good.

At the same time, now that the war is over, this series is making me think of one thing every time I read it: season 5 of Babylon 5. It's a strange analogy, and it's based on a foggy memory, but I think it makes sense to me.

The big story - the story that the series was created to tell - is done, but the series is continuing. So we need some new threats, that have to be bigger in some ways than the previous threats, but without the luxury of setting them up for a year or two. That's how I feel about this Mister Dark guy, like his existence makes perfect sense within the structure of the series, but he's not been around the book long enough for me to have any real sense of what a big, bad guy he is. So, he has to destroy the Woodlands completely, upsetting the status quo irrevocably. But now, the next issue is the end of the Dark Ages arc - so will that be the end of him? I'm not sure where this series is going.

However, I'm still very interested in it. And I still really like it. I just hear these whispers in the back of my mind when I read this book. I should just ignore them - I trust Willingham. I just don't want the book to peter out the way Babylon 5 did, into self-referential boredom. The sudden appearance of Colin the pig again kind of shook me I think.

I am enjoying the Mowgli back-up story a great deal - especially his way of dealing with the goblins in this issue. I'm looking forward to the end of this story, after next issue.

DMZ #38

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Riccardo Burchielli

War Powers continues with another very strong issue. Matty's disillusion with Parco Delgado grows, as Matty is dumped in the position of having to acquire the urban legendary Chinatown Gold from his friend Wilson. That goes okay - it's good to have friends - but then when Matty comes under fire, the identity of the people that Parco sends to extract him is a big surprise to him.

Even though this is the 2nd part of a new story arc, the beginning pages of this issue provide a detailed description of the new status quo in New York, making this a perfect place for new readers to dive in to this incredible series.

Woods seems to be increasingly focusing on themes of power and trust in this comic. As Matty was slowly embraced by the DMZ community, and especially by Zee, I always found it ironic that the military contractors worked for Trustwell. More and more, it doesn't seem like a coincidence. Now it is Matty's trust in Parco that is being put to the test, and we are beginning to wonder if Delgado's sudden appearance in the political scene wasn't something maneuvered and planned from the beginning. There are a lot of layers to this book, and I find that as it continues, I enjoy digging deeper and deeper into it.

Army @ Love: The Art of War #6

by Rick Veitch (with inks by Gary Erskine)

I really enjoyed Veitch's two Army @ Love series. The first one was a perfect example of Bush-era satire (I love that we can start talking about the Bush era in the past tense), eschewing the war for profit mentality and taking it to its extreme.

This second series has seemed to flounder some, as it looks for a semi-credible way to resolve the various plot lines and character arcs that began in the first series, while still attempting to maintain its satiric vision. I don't really think the second series succeeded in this mission. It was still a good read, and often very funny, but I feel like it went off-message quite a bit, and in some ways, became more of a parody of DC's Crisis fixation, with its multiple realities and Big Finger provided deus ex machina.

It's still a good book, and once again, I admire Veitch for his vision and his bravery. I know that he has taken a lot of flack for this series in the on-line community (I don't remember reading very many positive reviews), but I also think that in a couple of years, when some skeletons are unearthed from the Bush's closets, historians begin to re-examine the War on Terror, and it becomes more socially acceptable to criticize soldiers again, this series will be rediscovered and praised by some of the people that gave it a pass the first time around.

Strange Stones

by Peter Hessler

For the last few years, I have been enjoying Hessler's 'Letters from China' as they have been sporadically appearing in the New Yorker. As China becomes an increasingly important player on the global stage, I think it is very appropriate that we start to learn more about the culture and idiosyncrasies of the place. I especially enjoyed his article on going to driving school in China (insert racial joke here), and how he was taught things such as driving straight across wooden planks a couple of feet off the ground, but nothing about how to behave when other cars are also on the road.

In this article, he recounts a road trip he took with a friend from his Peace Corps days, causing him to reflect upon his time spent in the Peace Corp, stationed in China. It is an amusing article of shifty Strange Stone venders, counterfeit contact lenses, and how Kennedy era foreign policy can still provide life paths for aimless midwestern college graduates.

Wasteland #23

Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Christopher Mitten

Wasteland continues with the arc about the Dog Tribes, wherein the flashback story about two kids looking for wolves gets resolved, and the actions of the Stone Claws are explained fully. Michael and Abby get a new companion in captivity, and basically things go all to hell again.

This continues to be one of the best monthly books on the stand. I love the amount of detail that has been considered when creating this world, and I am very interested to see what happens with the Dog Tribes, and to learn Gerr's story.

As usual, the Ankya Ofsteen text-page is fascinating, and I really like the cover. This book's consistent high quality is very impressive.

I Kill Giants #7

Written by Joe Kelly
Art by JM Ken Niimura

This book is the perfect example of why Image is my favourite comic publisher. It must have been a strange pitch from the beginning - young girl fights giants and bullies and carries around a gigantic mystical hammer named after a baseball player in her little purse, but also runs from something bad going on at home. It's by a superhero writer who has critical acclaim (if sporadic commercial success), and a European artist who is basically unknown in North America, who draws in a manga style. Most comic companies wouldn't touch it. I can't see this title working at Vertigo or Dark Horse - it's too different from everything else they do. But it found a home at Image, and I'm grateful for that.

This has been a compelling series from the beginning, and its ending here is riveting. Barbara is a fascinating character, with great strength. The cast of characters Kelly and Niimura put together are interesting and enjoyable.

I could go on at great length about my enthusiasm for this series, but it's been said better than I could at the Comics Should Be Good blog at CBR. I agree with Greg Burgas completely - more people should have been reading this book, and they should definitely pick it up in trade if they can't find the single issues. It's a very rewarding series.

Greening the Ghetto

by Elizabeth Kolbert

This is an excellent article about Van Jones, the driving force behind the organization Green For All, which is working to provide the underprivileged with training for jobs in the Green economy. His idea is a great one. Government spending on infrastructure projects is going to have to increase to get the economy working again. Instead of just building bridges and roads, he suggests that the money be spent on retro-fitting the existing infrastructure to make better use of environmentally friendly technology and efficiency standards. To add to the economic cure, he wants some of these jobs to go to people in poor communities, thereby killing many birds with a few stones.

Kolbert profiles Jones as a very interesting individual with a long history in the American social justice community, who has more recently taken up the environment as his cause. As with all of Kolbert's pieces on the environment, the quality of the reporting is excellent.

Elephantmen #15

Written by Richard Starkings
Art by Ian Churchill, Boo Cook, and Steve Buccellato

As Richard Starkings promised in his very informative comment to my review of Elephantmen #14, this title looks to be back on track in terms of being a monthly comic again, which is great news. In this issue, we come to a resolution of a long-running story, which started before the jump to the War Toys mini-series.

Strangely, this resolution seems to involve a lot of naked Elephantmen running around a hospital late one night. Thankfully, we didn't have to see all of what Miki saw, especially since we probably wouldn't have responded with the same level of excitement.....

I do have a few questions about what happened in-between scenes in this issue, especially between Sahara and Serenghetti. It doesn't seem likely that he would have just let her go so easily. I'm hoping that a future issue will return to this night, and explain a little more of what happened. I'm also curious to see what happens with Tusk in the near future.

I like the look of Boo Cook over Ian Churchill. It works really well in this issue. There is also a back-up story featuring Vanity Case, which helps to explain her back story, and is nicely drawn by Steve Buccellato. My copy had a mis-print in that the cover was stapled on upside-down (or is that backwards?), but it didn't affect my reading....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Out My Window

by Koushik

This is a hauntingly beautiful album. Koushik weaves together some lush, yet minimal beats, layered with samples samples of spaced-out women singing.

It's total instrumental hippie hip-hop, but that's a really really good thing. I think I recognize some Free Design samples, and a lot of other samples come right to the front of my brain, but I can't really identify them. Instead, I find that this album washes over me, and the tracks seem to blur.

This is a fantastic background album. I'd love to see Koushik lay down some beats for some rappers to rhyme over - his remixes aren't enough for me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Clutch of the Tiger

by Shawn Lee and Clutchy Hopkins

So, according to the liner notes, Shawn Lee met up with the then-unidentified Clutchy Hopkins outside of a thrift store somewhere in the Mojave Desert, where he was given a tiger mask. This somehow started a lengthy collaboration between the two artists, which resulted in this album.

The album is the standard Clutchy Hopkins goodness. It's funky and chilled, and generally very enjoyable. It pretty much sounds a lot like his other work, which makes it an automatic purchase for me.

One difference is that on this album, there are song titles, which is a nice change of pace from his other work. As well, the album cover and liner notes are by the talented Jim Mahfood, which was a surprise.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cosmic Headphones

by Eagle Nebula

When I bought this, I didn't know that Eagle Nebula was a person. All of the sites that I buy my music from made it sound like Eagle Nebula was a Georgia Anne Muldrow pseudonym, or was a group consisting of Muldrow and Dudley Perkins. I just need to see the names Muldrow and Perkins together in the same cd description to know that I want to make a purchase.

So, I get the cd, I put it on, and immediately think - that's not Georgia Anne. Further web research has not shed a lot of light on things, but, as it turns out, Eagle Nebula is a talented MC and poet. Georgia Anne Muldrow provides the beats on every track but one, and that one was produced by Dudley (Declaime) Perkins. The album fits with the G&D sound - it's spacey, funky, poetic, and really rather weird.

Really, that sums it up. Eagle Nebula is a decent MC, and, on 'Street Shrine', a lovely poet. That track, with backing vocals by Muldrow and Perkins, is a very nice example of spoken word poetry that isn't annoying when it tries to be street. 'Jitterbug Fonk' is a very funky song. 'Clear Blue Sky' is a plea for a cleaner world.

Eagle Nebula has a vision for the world, but also likes to sing about bumping Mobb Deep in 7th grade. A couple of songs might be a little irritating ('Ether Cash'), but this is a great album from a talented new artist. It's too bad they haven't done a better job of promoting this, and her.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jean Grae: The Evil Jeanius

by Blue Sky Black Death

Reviewing this album raises some interesting questions about the state of the music industry; the way artists get treated by their labels, and ultimately, how you credit hip-hop albums.

This is an album of ten songs by the production duo Blue Sky Black Death, who have had a tremendously productive year, releasing three albums, and a variety of tracks. I've liked BSBD since I got their album with Holocaust a couple of years ago. These guys are definitely very talented, and are charting out new territory for themselves (Slow Burning Lights is utterly beautiful). What I don't get is, when Jean Grae is the MC on all ten tracks, why does her name come second? This album is getting filed under 'B' on most websites. More than that, Jean has said on her Myspace blog that she isn't seeing a single penny from sales of this disk. That doesn't seem right to me.

As for the music itself, it's fantastic. BSBD layer their tracks with dark, soulful samples, and build a sense of atmosphere that is a nice counterpoint to Jean's work with 9th Wonder. Jean's always had more than a little 'evil' in her, and it's nice to see when it comes out. She also is a little more introspective on some of the tracks.

Stand-outs include 'Threats', which is a re-make of the Jay-Z song; 'It's Still a Love Song', 'Take it Back' and 'Lights Out'. 'Nobody'll Do It For You' is like a 'This is Your Life' walk through Jean's older songs.

This is a really good album. I don't like that it makes me feel guilty. I like Jean and BSBD equally, and they are artists that I like to support. Jean - if you're reading this, I feel like I owe you a few drinks the next time you come through Toronto.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sandman: The Dream Hunters #3

Written by Neil Gaiman
Adapted by P. Craig Russell

This continues to be an almost perfect comic. It's nice to see Dream finally appear in this series in his own, usual form. It's also good to see the raven, and the Japanese versions of Cain and Abel.

This makes me want to dig out my run of the original Sandman series and read it again, especially the issue that Russell did.

There's not much more to say about this. It's really really good.

The Walking Dead #55

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn

Things get really dark in this issue. I know I'm saying that about a comic where almost the entire cast has been killed off, and the people remaining have lost lovers, family, and limbs at a remarkable place, but damn, this is one dark issue. When Kirkman wrote the issue where Michonne got raped by the Governor, he got a lot of negative mail. I think he might get a lot more from this one.

But it's a really good issue. Maybe it's just because I read it a couple of weeks ago, but this issue seems to borrow from Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" a little bit, as Rick, Carl, and Abraham head off on their own to pick up some supplies from Rick's old police station. Along the way, they get found by some other survivors, and bad stuff goes down.

I like how Kirkman is slowly developping the tension between Rick and Abraham. They don't like each other, but they are beginning to develop an understanding of one another - one that I expect will be strengthened next issue, as Abraham is poised to tell his story.

The one thing I found a little hard to believe in this issue though, is that Rick would still have the keys to his station. He's lost everything a couple of times since then, and it doesn't seem too likely that his keychain is still in his pocket after all of this. Maybe there's a spare hidden under the door mat, but it seems like a stretch...

The Sword #14

by the Luna Brothers

This continues to be a good comic. Dara gets shot a lot, Justin finally grows a pair, and the sword, which had been kept a secret for a few thousand years, gains another fan.

This comic is in full-out blockbuster mode. It's all action, and a very quick read, but at the same time, the Luna brothers have managed to make Dara and her friends people that I care about, and I'm always curious to see the next issue.

House of Mystery #9

Written by Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham
Art by Lucca Rossi, Jose Marzan Jr., and Bernie Wrightson

I still can't make up my mind about this title. I was about ready to drop it, but then realized that this issue was going to feature art by Bernie Wrightson. It's really good art too. The sequence that he did with Willingham is by far the best part of the book. And I think that's the problem with this title. The main conceit of having a story within each issue's story was an attractive one - especially when you look at the list of talent they've tapped to produce them, but I think it is confining the main story into too small a box, making it difficult to attach oneself to the characters or their situation.

Honestly, I don't think I care about what's happening in the House. I liked the idea of it all in the first arc, but now that there are people wandering around a giant basement fighting giant monsters, I've lost interest. The appearance of Fig's father isn't adding to the story for me - I find it annoying.

But then, the stories told in the book are really, really good......

Haunted Tank #2

Written by Frank Marraffino
Art by Henry Flint

This continues to be an amusing little series from a writer I'm completely unfamiliar with. A quick Google search shows that he's written a few things for Tokyopop, but I don't really read their stuff (unless it's by Cloonan or Graham - you know, the people they stopped publishing).

This issue sheds a little more light on the ghost Stuart, while he and the living Stuart (referred to here as the 'nigrah' Stuart) continue to trade quips of a racial nature. There is a fantastic moment where the living Stuart explains to the ghost Stuart that pretty much any variation of the n-word are completely unacceptable, while his friends rap in the background.

None of these exchanges would work so well if it weren't for Flint's ability to convey facial expressions. He does this as well as Kevin Maguire in this book.

My only complaint is that I'm not sure about the accuracy of the way in which they are portraying the first days of the Iraq war. I don't think that American forces were confronted with jihadist fighters, and I know for certain that they weren't expecting suicide bombers. Really, the beginning was a conventional war between the American and Iraqi armies - it's portrayal here rings false, and perhaps can be considered guilty of the same stereotyping that the ghost is accused of.

Friday, January 9, 2009

No Hero #3

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Juan Jose Ryp

This is a great series by Ellis. The book is all about the only super team on the planet - an independent group that has apparently been following its own foreign policy in addition to fighting crime.

In this issue, we see the new kid go through the effects of having taken FX7, the hallucinogen that gives you super powers, although in this case, it just seems to be nasty. We also get a sense of what is going on in the larger story, as the Front Line starts to figure out just who it is that is attacking them and why.

Ellis has given a lot of thought to backstory with this title, and is building suspense by filling the reader in as the story progresses. Ryp's art is fantastic. He has a style that reminds me of Geof Darrow, and does a great job of depicting the Lovecraftian hallucinations that FX7 apparently causes.

Like with his earlier series, Black Summer, Ellis generates enough material for a few years worth of comics, but is looking to tell his entire story in 7 or 8 issues (do we count #0's?).

That's it for Warren Ellis Week. It would have been nice if it had also included an appeance by 'newuniversal: shockfront #3' (anyone know what's going on with that title?).

Jonah Hex #39

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Rafa Garres

For the last few issues, I've felt like Jonah Hex has been stagnating somewhat. The stories have been referring back to other issues, and I've been getting bored with the art by Jordi Bernet.

This issue is a return to form. It's a nasty tale of temperance, escaped convicts, frightened deputies, and shot-glass checkers. Actually, the story's not all that great, but the art of Rafa Garres is what makes this issue so interesting.

His characters are ugly, and slightly misshapen, and his panels long and narrow, sometimes obscuring some of the action. The entire issue is coloured like the cover - in a sepia-tone that is reminiscent of old film stock, making this issue read like an old Spaghetti Western. Motivation and character development aren't all that important in this comic - it's all about getting down to the shooting, and as usual, Hex delivers.

Doktor Sleepless #11

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Ivan Rodriguez

Warren Ellis Week continues with Doktor Sleepless! This book is turning into Ellis's personal playground for trying out interesting ideas and theories of social development.

This issues has two areas of focus: gang divisions in Heavenside, and the death of journalism. For the first topic, he introduces the LO/C - the London Chinese triad gangs that control the drugs in their neighbourhood, and bump up against the gwei lo grinders to the north of them.

As to journalism - the character of Sarah from New York meets up with one of the imminent.sea bloggers, and they talk about the state of things in town, specifically with respect to journalism, and the actions of Doktor Sleepless.

I like that the Doktor doesn't really appear in this book any more - I think the series works better when he is just an idea and an unseen hand, not guiding the action, but providing building blocks for future events, over which, he takes no control.

The backmatter in this issue is an interesting rant about the difference between journalism, citizen journalism, and blogging. I agree with much of what Ellis writes, and like that he references David Simon so much. I don't know how he wrote it without mentioning the Huffington Post though.....

Anna Mercury #5

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Facundo Percio

I guess it's Warren Ellis Week, as he drops four new books from Avatar all on the same day (I don't read Gravel though).

This is the conclusion to the Anna Mercury series, and it does a good job of taking its complicated high concept, involving tiny parallel worlds, one of which was affected by the appearance of a WWII battleship on a major street, and turning it into a big-budget Hollywood action movie.

It's not Ellis's best work, but it's entertaining to read, and nice to look at. I don't know if there are more Anna Mercury series planned, but it would seem that the door has most definitely been left open.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lord Fire

by Vintage and Theory Hazit

This is a good album. It is by no means a great album, and is not the type of thing that will be remembered for years to come, but if you want some nice rhymes over some nice beats, you could do a lot worse than this collaboration between the emcee Theory Hazit (great name) and producer Vintage. I think it's very interesting that their names are reversed on the cover from the standard procedure of naming the emcee first....

The production on this album is very good. Vintage has a nice laid-back, soulful approach to boom-bap. As the album progresses, so does the quality of the songs.

Theory is a decent rapper. Again, he's not setting the world on fire, but he can hold his own on the mic. There is a decidedly Christian aspect to this cd that is really not my usual thing, but I think that the quality here is better than the label 'Christian rap' would imply.

My favourite tracks on this album are 'Nobody Say' (featuring Braille, another Christian), 'One Time', 'Sonrise', 'Simplyill', and 'I Just Wanna Go Home', which is a highly confessional number.

There are a number of guest appearances on the cd, but the only other artist listed that I'm familiar with is Ohmega Watts, who put out some nice product in '08.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mega Graphitti

by Vordul Mega

Whenever I would listen to Cannibal Ox's 'The Cold Vein', I'd think that while Vast Aire is more lyrically clever, Vordul Mega is the more intelligent.

On this album, he has crafted a number of very good songs that fit into his usual formula - quick, short lines about 'hard times', 'the streets', being 'on blocks', and the quality that some have to transcend their environment and situation.

His voice oozes self-confidence, and he stays within his usual comfort zone, with the exception of 'Beautiful', which discusses beautiful music, and shows emotions outside of his usual range. The other songs are gritty and street-based, without following the old hip-hop formula of guns, money and revenge.

Vordul is joined by a familiar group of past collaborators - we see Vast Aire on two tracks, putting an end to any thoughts of an irreconcilable break-up. Billy Woods graces four tracks, leaving the entire album better for his presence. The Invizzibl Men, HiCoup, Karniege, and Tommy Gunn round out the guest shots.

The production on this album is fantastic. Backwoodz regulars like Bond and DJ Marmaduke come correct, as does Sid Roams and Zach One, who nicely book-ends the album. Bronze Nazareth and El-P both contribute a track, adding a certain level of prestige to the whole thing.

It's been clear for a while that there will never be another Cannibal Ox album, but Vordul Mega's doing perfectly fine on his own. He is a consistently strong artist, who's work continues to improve with age. He might be somewhat predictable, but he's predictably good.

Yancey Boys

by Illa J

Hip-hop has often been the home to blatant nepotism. Big rappers always have to help their boys get a record deal - whether they can sing or not. There's always a protege or a crew waiting in the wings, and their releases always get a little radio play, even if it is just the single with the Big Name featured on it.

Illa J is no Memphis Bleek. He's not a Braveheart, doesn't Disturb tha Peace, nor roll with G-Unit. He may be the little brother of J Dilla, the god of hip-hop production, but he is also an artist in his own right. I think the fact that Dilla only blessed him with beats posthumously is proof that he does not fall into the Killa Bees category. This is not so much a case of nepotism as it is the debut of a new artist, who happened to be lucky to get his hands on some unused Dilla gems, and do his own thing over them.

If I were to compare Illa J to another artist, I think it would be Phonte. Like Tay, Illa J (how do you shorten that - J? Illa?) raps, but also sings his hooks. His singing is often nicer than his rhymes, which are occassionally weak-sounding. Really, I didn't love Dilla's rhymes a lot of the time either - he was only ever a mid-level rapper.

The material here is nice. The album plays with some fairly standard themes - there are love songs, and songs about family. In the first track, Illa J makes it clear that it's time to try something new, and it's implied that he is talking about his entry into the music industry. There are some songs better left off the album - 'Swagger' has nothing to say really - but for the most part, he sounds great over some laid-back, sample-less Dilla beats, reminiscent of some of his earlier, head-nodding work.

The album contains a strong guest shot from Guilty Simpson, and a couple of very annoying skits. I know I wouldn't have bought this album were it not for the Dilla production (which actually proves the nepotism factor can be profitable), but I would definitely check out any subsequent releases from Illa J.

Too Cool to be Forgotten

by Alex Robinson

Andy Wicks goes to a hypnotist as a last-ditch effort to quick smoking, and finds himself transported back into his fifteen-year old body, before he developed the habit in the first place. The concept doesn't make sense, and isn't explained in the least, but it becomes the gateway through which Robinson is able to tell a funny and touching story about youth, getting old, and the wonder of 1985.

Robinson has a knack for writing young characters - from the speech patterns to the irrationality, the self-centredness, and the moral clarity that they feel. His high school world is one of triumph and humiliation, all acted out in a very public theatre. It's interesting to watch Old Andy experience again the things he experienced as Young Andy, but from the perspective of someone who knows where it's all going. I especially liked Andy's reflections on his teacher and principal, as he realizes that they are about the age he is now.

The book is very well-designed. I love the cover, and the format of a small hardcovered graphic novel. It fits nicely in the hand, and begs to be read. Top Shelf are really starting to impress me as a publisher - it's only been in the last year that I've become interested in their output, but if they keep putting out work like this, I'll be buying a lot more from them.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Peoples Market

by Misled Children

I don't know the slightest thing about the Misled Children. A careful reading of the cd packaging provides no idea of who the Children are, or how many of them there are. All that it tells us is that the album was made 'Under the supervision of Clutchy Hopkins,' which of course clears everything up. Except for the fact that no one knows who Clutchy Hopkins is either.

The myth of Clutchy is that he is a vagabond musician, roaming deserts and deserted places, and occassionally gifting people with some incredible music, that somehow always finds it way to the good people at Ubiquity, and now, I suppose, Porter Records. The rumour is that Clutchy is a well-known hip-hop producer trying something new under a pseudonym.

In the absence of personality, ego, and even track names, all that is left to do is focus on the music. This cd is very nice. The tracks on this album sound very much like the last two Clutchy Hopkins releases - a melding of instrumental jazz and hip-hop, with repetitive structures. The different tracks tend to bleed into each other in my mind, even though they have finite endings. This is a funky little album, and I enjoy it more each time I play it. The Clutchy Hopkins/Misled Children music machine is a prolific one - I made five purchases this year (although I think that one is a year or two old), and I think I have the complete oeuvre, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'd missed something along the way.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Activist

by Nick McDonell

I've been trying to get caught up on magazines that have piled up on me, so I grabbed this today, and serendipitously found another article on Sudan and Darfur, which, when read back-to-back with the New Yorker article I wrote about below, gives a much more complete picture of the conflict.

This article is about Alex de Waal, a British professor at Harvard who is most likely the world expert on Sudan. The article is written by a former student of his, who accompanies him on a trip to Ethiopia and Sudan, including a visit into Darfur.

De Waal meets with people involved at all levels of the conflict, and this article is barely able to scratch the surface of the complexities of the situation in Sudan, made all the more complicated by the International Criminal Courts recent request for a warrant for the arrest of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the president of Sudan.

This article is an essential primer for anyone wanting to learn more about this issue.

Lives of the Saints

by Jonathan Harr

Harr spent time a year ago among the international aid workers that are assigned along the Chadian border with Sudan. He describes the history of the UNHCR efforts in that region, as refugees from Darfur have flooded into Chad, and as Chadian rebels have been active in the same region for a number of years.

The stories from this part of the world are always brutal. These aid workers, mostly it would seem from other African nations or from France, live lives of great hardship, separated from their families for six-week blocks of time, and are required to stay there for two years. Reading the article, you really begin to gain an appreciation for the sacrifices that they make, and how much their lives are lived at the mercy of corrupt governments, rebel activity, and climate and weather patterns.

One thing that I think is worth comment is that it has been a year since Harr left the region, and really very little has changed in that time, none of it for the better. Darfur has been a cause celebre for a few years now, and yet there has been so little action beyond toothless condemnations and denouncements from the UN and the richer nations of the world.

Essex County: Tales From the Farm

by Jeff Lemire

It took me a while to get around to buying this, but I'm very glad I finally did. Tales from the Farm is about Lester, a young boy who has been sent to live with his uncle after his mother's death. He is your typical small-town comic book reading social pariah - he walks around with goggles and a cape, and prefers to spend his time by the creek battling alien invaders. He builds a strange friendship with Jimmy Lebeuf, a gas-station owner and former hockey player - he played one game for the Leafs before being injured and becoming 'different'.

Lemire's story is told minimally. His characters don't talk much - especially Lester and his Uncle Ken. In this way, they are part of a long literary tradition of mostly silent rural men; actions are what convey emotions. Uncle Ken's offer of going "up to the Dairy Freeze for some burgers" speaks volumes of trying to bridge a gap that neither have the words for. The big revelations in Lester's life are left for him, and the reader, to put together; nothing is ever said.

Lemire's thick, chunky lines set in a wide landscape help to convey the loneliness that the three characters feel. The pages are taut with emotion and longing. This short book is a masterpiece of comics.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Rebel Yellow

by Cecil Otter

"I've got a closet full of broken legs
And not a one to stand on...."

This year has been about my discovery of the Doomtree collective. Their album was easily one of my favourites of the year, and then I started picking up the solo efforts, and this one blew me away.

Cecil Otter wrote and produced (or co-produced) every track on here, and it's a very consistent and interesting album. It sounds like Doomtree throughout - they have heavy drums and great lyrics, even if there is only one appearance by another rapper - the incredible POS lends a hand to 'Traveling Dunktank'.

The songs meld seamlessly into one another at times, making this an album to be appreciated as an album, not a collection of singles. The songs are poetic and beautiful, and Otter's voice matches the beats perfectly. In songs like 'Box Car Diaries' and 'Rebel Yellow', we get a sense of a marginal artist. In 'Black Rose' the chorus ends with "My name is Cecil fucking Otter/ not Dylan goes electric", and that pretty much sums up the album for me.

There are two instrumental tracks that owe more to drum and bass than hip-hop, yet fit very nicely with the overall atmosphere of the disk.

There are a lot of projects dropping from Doomtree. Mictlan & Lazerbeak have an album out. The new POS is being released soon, as is Dessa' poetry book. People should be checking these guys out - their output is incredible!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Shooting War

Written by Anthony Lappe
Art by Dan Goldman

This is a terrific read. Shooting War is about Jimmy Burns, a liberal video blogger who just happens to be filming a Starbucks when it explodes from a suicide bomb. Burns video propels him into media stardom, and soon he is hired by Global, a sensationalistic 24-hour cable news channel (not to be confused with our own Global TV here in Ontario) and sent to Iraq.

This is not the Iraq of today - this is Iraq in 2011, after two years of a McCain administration. Early into his time there, Burns meets Abu Adallah, the leader of The Sword of Mohammed, a jihadist organization that is trying to create a modernist, non-secular approach to killing Americans - mostly through the use of Iranian equipment.

What follows is an exploration of warfare, in which no side is innocent or noble. Americans shoot unarmed civilians, and use robotic weapons that kill indiscriminately. Journalists report what they are told to report. Iraqi children carry suicide bombs. Dan Rather is more than a little clueless. There is nothing in this book that is implausible really, and it makes no suggestions on how things can be improved. Instead, it's an entertaining and amusing look at where things might end up (and probably would have had McCain actually been elected).

The story moves quickly, and the characters are well developed. In a lot of ways, Jimmy Burns reminds me of Matty Roth in Brian Wood's excellent series 'DMZ'. They are similar in that they are tossed into a conflict they don't understand, and are often used for their fame to promote a certain message.

The art in the book is different. Most of the backgrounds are photographs, with the central characters digitally drawn over them. In more than a few places, the characters look stiff and out of place, but in others, this method is very effective. The American soldiers with their strangely glowing face masks look amazing and terrifying at the same time.

This book comes highly recommended, especially at the relatively inexpensive price of the softcover.

Scalped #24

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by RM Guera

I can't stop stressing enough how much I love this book. Aaron has created such a complex web of relationships and obligations with Scalped, and with each issue, I find that I am enjoying the book even more.

This issue resolves 'The Gravel in My Guts', and I'm not sure who got off easier - Dino or Red Crow. Both ended up losing in this issue, as Red Crow's hopes for redemption melt away. What is most interesting is the monologue with which the issue ends - and we see Red Crow as he sees himself.

Also of interest in this issue is Shunka; up until now he's been portrayed as Red Crow's yes-man, but in this issue, he shows some real stones of his own. I hope he gets a little more time in the spotlight, as I'm now curious to know a little more about him.

Looking back over the last few issues, I have to say that Jock is submitting some of the best cover work he's ever done - I think I like these better than the work he did on The Losers.

Finally, the next issue is the start of a new arc. I urge anyone who is reading this that is not already reading Scalped to pick it up and give it a try. Aaron is getting press all over the place as a writer to watch in 2009, but everyone focuses on his Wolverine, without realizing that his Dash Bad Horse kicks Logan's ass every time.